Song Of The Day 3/20/2013: Beck - "Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime"

"Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime" was originally recorded in 1980 by the Korgis, from Britain. It was their sole hit in the US, and even there it only scraped up to #18. It was draped in gooey synthesizers and remote saxophone. It contains exactly four different lyrical phrases: (1) "Change your heart, look around you," (2) "Change your heart, it will astound you," (3) "I need your lovin' like the sunshine," and (4) "Everybody's got to learn sometime." That's it. The entire lyrical content of this song is minimal variation on the placement of those four phrases, stretched over four minutes and 24 seconds. If they had phoned in the lyrics any less they'd have had an instrumental.

Yet it's a very haunting, enduring song, and no pop hit since sounds quite like it. One of this blog's patron saints, Richard Thompson, allegedly called it the only good song to be released in the '80s. (Which would make it better than all of Shoot Out the Lights?) The transitionary chords, especially the diminished ones, are chilling and lovely. (I have this thing about diminished chords. My last band had to stage an intervention.) There have been quite a few covers of "Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime," but Beck's version, recorded for the soundtrack of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, was the one that best captured the deep melancholy and vague, impending loss of the original.

Just in terms of return, I figure those four meager lines have to be amongst the most profitable in music history, behind "Fly, robin, fly," "Do the Hustle!" and "Tequila!" Writing is easy! (I didn't even write that first. Steve Martin did.)

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