Friday, December 3, 2010

A Simple Question: Bruce Channel: "Hey! Baby"

In our slow approach to the great event of the 60s; or at least one of them - there are little signs of what is to come, signs that are not always obvious at first, upon first listen; after all, the subject matter here is as old as song itself - a man's simple attraction/curiosity to a girl he sees somewhere. Even by 1962 this is rather old hat for pop, but pop forever renews itself by doing something, anything, new. The simple introduction of the Delbert McClinton's harmonica as a lead instrument (as opposed to something cheerfully winking in the background) and the elongated "Heeeyyyyyyyyyyyyy" are enough to take this utterly simple song and make it something of a blueprint of what is to come, not least for four young men who have yet to step into a recording studio and all their Merseyside brethren.

But this song should not just be seen as a marker towards something greater; there is something to be said for a song sung by a man who sounds...normal. Regular. Just this guy who is thinking aloud in a song about a girl he sees on the street. I have no doubts that this song was a standard for all beginning singers and proof comes with this song, a song by another guy called Bruce that is perhaps more elaborate lyrically but says the same thing; and Channel is quoted directly at the end...some may argue that pop is forever eating its own tail, but that reassuring sameness is what makes it moving for so many people; it changes but does not change.