“Don’t let me dangle in that afterthought
While you are strangling that astronaut….”
Not a bad achievement, rhyming afterthought with astronaut……..
“Afterthought” is a song that has the strongest feel of a Beatles mid-period composition of anything on “Pluck”. The drum programming was designed to simulate Ringo’s frantic cymbal thrash that characterized much of their early material. I wish I could have gotten him in, to give me that inimitable swing, but the drum plug-in was cheaper (and willing). The rhythm guitars were intentionally clothed in that 60’s clean-but-bordering-on-breakup sound, this time acknowledging both Lennon and Harrison. I wish I could have had those two in as well………..
I know I’m getting ideas above me station here, by even remotely claiming to have done ANYTHING that’s a bit like The Beatles! I’m DEFINITELY not claiming this to be on a par with them, only being honest in saying where the impetus for my song came from. Like many other “pop” songwriters I suspect, we use some of our favourite artists’ material as a starting point in putting the flesh on something we’ve come up with and that’s what I did here.
The best example I can think of regarding an artist who SERIOUSLY used The Beatles as a template was the wonderful Neil Innes, the songwriter behind Eric Idle’s comic creation The Rutles. Neil had a stellar career of his own in music, starting with The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band in the 60’s. He was briefly a member of McGuinness Flint in the early 70’s. He had his own BBC TV and radio programmes which showcased a lot of his solo work, including the subject of a later Oasis-related lawsuit “How Sweet To Be An Idiot”. He was a Monty Python collaborator, in their films and live shows, before working closely with Idle (Dirk McQuickly) as Nasty in The Rutles – a spoof, rock documentary about the Beatle-like “pre-Fab Four” which pre-dated Spinal Tap by a few years. He very sadly passed away at the end of 2019, but his writing left a deep impression on me and I was fortunate to have seen him play live on a couple of occasions.
He was one of the few songwriters – arguably, the only one – who, in The Rutles, was able to capture the spirit of The Beatles in an uncanny way, without completely copying what they did. I read somewhere he showed many of his Rutle songs to John Lennon before they became public, with John advising him which ones were “OK” and which were “too close to the bone”. Neil Innes showed me you could write something like a Beatle song, even though you were not Lennon or McCartney. Some might argue he merely wrote simple parodies, but as a lifelong Beatles fan, I listen to The Rutles and appreciate how enjoyable those songs are, how hard it is to get close to The Beatles, and how well he managed it. Try “I Must Be In Love”, “Living In Hope” or “Cheese And Onions” and you’ll see what I mean.
There is a nice guitar effect that dips in and out of the production here. It’s an Octaver, which doubles the main riff of the song, appears on a few distorted riffs during the verses and crops up on the last half of the guitar solo, giving a little extra meatiness to an essentially clean tone. The inclusion of handclaps is another Beatles / George Martin production trick that I love, and one I used on a few other “Pluck” songs besides this. The frustration evident in the lyric comes from a few moments with past girlfriends/boyfriends that most of us can identify with. I won’t be Plan B – I want to rewrite your history…….!