Song Of The Day 7/19/2016: Funkadelic – “Can You Get to That”

The Hidden '70s, Part 1 – It's hard to talk about Funkadelic's album Maggot Brain without focusing squarely on "Maggot Brain," the 10-plus-minute instrumental that cemented guitarist Eddie Hazel as a brilliant expressionist at age 21. Outside of Jimi Hendrix no other recording synthesized the intangibilities of rock and soul so fully. Critic Greg Tate famously called it "Funkadelic's A Love Supreme," and even though that's one of those quips that gets tossed around liberally it's pretty on point. Few songs are more funereal and liberating at the same time, and especially since "Maggot Brain" is the first song on Maggot Brain (you could argue it should be the last) it tends to overshadow the songs that follow it.

That's a shame because "Can You Get to That" (#93, 1971) is similarly revolutionary in a much smaller space. George Clinton reworked it from "What You Been Growing,"a song from the Parliaments' incrementally more straitlaced period right after they'd minimized their doo-wop approach. For me it was the acoustic-guitar-and-drum intro that sucked me in. I could talk about the guitar chord sequence in that intro and the verse forever. It's all about that quick flattened third in the minor second chord in the second and fourth bars, and yes, that's what she said. The group vocals sound enthrallingly like chastised hippies trying to order a gluten-free patty melt. That's a compliment. They even invoked a central image from Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech in this nifty pecuniary metaphor: "When you base your life on credit and your loving days are done/Checks you signed with love and kisses later come back signed 'insufficient funds'." It was much easier to get a loan back in those days.

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