I’ve always sensed there to be something particularly special about the Adrian Belew composition, “1967” — the closing track from his classic 1989 album, Mr. Music Head:
In recent years, with my growing awareness around the legend of 1967 as a peak year for pop music, I began to suspect 1967’s magical aura to be the reason behind the song’s title, a year that is otherwise not named or even hinted at in the lyrics whatsoever. Belew was kind enough to respond to my query about the the writing of this composition and revealed that the title “comes from my belief that particular year was the golden year of creativity in rock music.” It’s true!
“The song was written on a metal-bodied dobro in an odd tuning D A D D A D. I call it the ‘dad‘ tuning. I was working on five different songs using that tuning. So each time I worked on one song, I would work on the other four. Eventually, it occurred to me to run all five together into one piece.”
This five-songs-in-one concept reminds me, in a way, of The Beatles’ legendary multi-part composition, “A Day in the LIfe” from their 1967 modern pop breakthrough, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
“1967” by Adrian Belew
Live Solo Performance
Atlantic would see commercial potential in Mr. Music Head opening track, “Oh Daddy,” a father-daughter duet, and issue the song as the album’s sole single (with side-one closing track “Peaceable Kingdom” serving as B-side), seeing it reach the #58 spot on Billboard‘s Hot 100 Singles chart for the week ending September 2, 1989.
Besides being a great songwriter, Belew also enjoys renown for being able to conjure a vast array of inspired and otherworldly sounds on his various guitars, with a particular genius for emulating members of the animal kingdom.
The Adrian Belew Power Trio is on tour —
Likely coming to a town near you
Adrian Belew, it bears noting, produced the debut album by pioneering Cincinnati band – The Raisins – three years after their classic live performance on local PBS television series, Rock Around the Block, a showcase for local talent.
Belew has also supplied guitar for/with an interesting array of musical artists in rock, pop and beyond — Frank Zappa, Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, David Bowie, King Crimson, Mike Oldfield, Joan Armatrading, Paul Simon, Crash Test Dummies, Nine Inch Nails — but one of my all-time favorite guest turns is a live performance captured on film, Laurie Anderson’s Home of the Brave, where he dons a rubber guitar at one point, if you can believe it.