The Cars debut album was a commercial and critical success. The pressure was on for a follow-up, and the band delivered big time with their 2nd album, “Candy-O“. The album was packed with more Cars classics, including the subject of this episode, “It’s All I Can Do”, a song that shows the strengths of each band member– everyone contributing something special top this great track.

“It’s All I Can Do” (Ric Ocasek) Copyright 1979 Lido Music Inc

…and check out this previous episode on The Cars:


Time for another edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. I’m your host, Brad Page, sending these love letters to the music we cherish, care of the Pantheon podcast Network. Each episode I pick a favorite song and we look at it in detail, trying to understand what makes it a great song. You don’t have to be a musician or have any advanced knowledge, because we don’t get into music theory or technical stuff here. If you’re willing to listen, then this podcast is for you.

On this episode, we’re exploring a track from a band that came onto the scene as the 70’s were coming to a close, and their sound was critical in launching the sound of the 80’s. This is The Cars with “It’s All I Can Do”.

We talked about The Cars on this show once before, back in episode number 43, “Just What I Needed”. So you can check out that episode for an overview of the band’s history. This time, we’ll pick up where that episode left off.

They released that first album in June 1978. A year later, their second album, “Candy-O”, hit the shelves. That first album was considered one of the strongest debut albums of all time, and it still is. Rolling Stone ranks it in their Top 20 Greatest Debut Albums. So when it came time to record their second album, the pressure was on, and they delivered… no sophomore slump here.

“Candy-O” ended up charting higher than the debut album. It made it to #3 and would eventually sell over 4 million copies. There were three singles released off of “Candy-O”. “It’s All I Can Do” was the second single. The song features Rick Ocasek on rhythm guitar, Elliot Easton on lead guitar, Greg Hawks on keyboards, David Robinson on drums, and Benjamin Orr on bass and lead vocals.

The song begins with a bass drum hit and a quick open and close of the hi-hat. One guitar on the left with a slightly distorted tone is playing staccato, muted power chords. The bass in the center is duplicating that guitar part. On the right, there’s another guitar playing smoothly strummed, ringing chords. Sounds like there’s maybe some reverb, perhaps some chorus effect on that guitar. The rest of the tracks are pretty dry, and Greg Hawks is playing a simple but effective melody on the keyboards.

Rick Ocasek is universally acknowledged as the architect of The Cars’ sound, and he wrote all the songs on the album; but every member of the band contributed something special, and to me, the magic ingredient of the best Cars songs is the vocals of Benjamin Orr. He had a great voice and so perfectly suited to The Cars sound.

For the second half of the verse, the guitar that was playing those clean, ringing chords on the right is going to suddenly shift to playing heavy, distorted chords. Listen for the change.

Then David Robinson is going to do a short drum fill on the toms to launch us into the first chorus, and those toms are pretty high in the mix.

The instrumentation behind the chorus is pretty minimal, not a lot of overdubs, just the basic band performing, but each player is doing something just a little different enough that it sounds nice and full, with Greg Hawke’s melodic keyboard part just riding on top. Let’s bring the vocals back in and listen to that again.

Both The Cars’ first album and “Candy-O” were produced by Roy Thomas Baker, one of the most famous and successful producers of the 1970s. Baker is probably most known for working with Queen, including producing “Bohemian Rhapsody”, so he knew how to layer vocals. Though the cars kept the production tricks to a minimum on this album, there are moments where the Roy Thomas Baker effect shines through those rich backing vocals at the end of the chorus. Here is a good example.

That chorus leads immediately into the second verse, and notice that clean, ringing guitar is back.

That’s one of my favorite lines in the song—“When I was crazy, I thought you were great.” We’ve probably all had a time in our lives where we were so crazy in love that we couldn’t see just how bad that person was for us.

And the distorted guitar returns.

Greg Hawkes is playing pretty much the same keyboard part that he played on the first chorus, but he’s using a different sound this time. Here’s the sound again from the first chorus. And here’s the keyboard sound on this second chorus. They add an extra six beats in there to lead us into the guitar solo.

And I’ve mentioned before on this show that I love Elliot Easton’s guitar playing. And this is another great example of a tasteful, melodic, memorable guitar solo by Elliot Easton. Check it out.

One thing we haven’t looked at yet is David Robinson’s drum part on the verses. What he’s doing is pretty subtle, but it’s not just a straightforward drum beat. He’s put some pretty clever twists into it. Let’s listen.

Also on this final verse, Greg Hawkes has added a new keyboard part. You can imagine a string section playing this part. It really adds a new layer of drama to this last verse. Listen to how it builds through to the end of the verse.

And that’s another great line; “As soon as you get it, you want something new”.  How many of you have been on one end of that in a relationship?

Listen to the way the guitar and the keyboard are going to answer each other. It’s the guitar on the right, the keyboard on the left.

Like the way Benjamin sings this line here.

“It’s All I Can Do” by The Cars

The Cars released six albums between 1970 – 1987. Five of them were top 20 hits. Four of them reached the top ten. They split up in 1988.

Benjamin Orr died from cancer in 2000. The remaining members reformed for one more album in 2011. But without Benjamin Orr, it just wasn’t the same.

Rick Ocasek died in 2019. David Robinson has more or less retired from the music business and owns an art gallery in Rockport, Massachusetts. Elliot Easton is still active and has a number of musical projects that keep him busy, and Greg Hawkes does session and touring work, working frequently with Todd Rungren.

Thanks for taking a few minutes out of your day to listen to this show. I always appreciate it. New episodes of the podcast come out on the 1st and the 15th of every month, so I’ll be back soon with another episode. You can keep in touch with the show on our Facebook page, or on our website,, where you’ll also find all of our previous episodes. And you can find the show on your favorite source of podcasts, whether it’s Amazon, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher– wherever you listen to podcasts, you’ll find this show. We are part of the Pantheon Network of podcasts, the place for music related podcasts, so be sure to check out some of the other shows, too.

Thanks again for listening to this edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast featuring The Cars and “It’s All I Can Do”.


The Cars

Candy-O (Album)

Rolling Stone (Greatest Debut Albums)

Roy Thomas Baker

Bohemian Rhapsody

David Robinson’s Art Gallery

Elliot Easton

Greg Hawkes

‘I’m in Love with that Song’ Podcast Facebook Page

Pantheon Podcast Network

Keyboardist Barry Andrews was out and new guitarist Dave Gregory came onboard for XTC’s 3rd album, Drums And Wires, as the band’s sound palette expanded. Written & sung by bassist Colin Moulding, “Making Plans For Nigel” became XTC’s first big hit. This episode, we explore the production, performance and the origin of this XTC classic.

“Making Plans For Nigel” (Colin Moulding) Copyright 1979 EMI Virgin Records Ltd

Remember to follow this show, so you never miss an episode.


Welcome, friends. There’s no thugs in our house, so come on in and join us here at the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast on the Pantheon Podcast Network. My name is Brad Page and each episode of this show, I pick a favorite song and we explore it together, discovering all the elements that go into making it a great song. We don’t get into music theory here, so don’t worry if you’re not a musician or technically inclined. All that’s required here is a desire to listen.

This time, we’re exploring a song from one of the most creative bands ever. This is “Making plans for Nigel” by XTC.

Guitarist Andy Partridge and bassist Colin Molding started working together in the early 70’s. Both were singers and songwriters. Along with drummer Terry Chambers, they played in various bands with various names. By 1976, keyboard player Barry Andrews joined the band, and they changed their name to XTC.

They released their first album, “White Music”, in January 1978. And then, less than a year later, they released their second album called “Go To” in October 78. Two months later, Barry Andrews quit. He would go on to work with Robert Fripp and form the band Shriekback. But XTC decided to go into a different direction. They recruited a guitarist, a guy named Dave Gregory, who they knew from back in their hometown of Swindon.

They set to work on their third album, “Drums and Wires”. “Drums and Wires” earned its name due to the increased focus on drums and guitar sounds. The album was produced by Steve Lillywhite and engineered by Hugh Padgam, who were both the architects behind the gated, reverb drum sound that would pretty much define the sound of the 1980s.

Andy Partridge was the primary songwriter in XTC. He wrote eight of the twelve songs on the album. The other four tracks were Colin Molding songs. “Making Plans For Nigel” was one of Colin’s.

By this time, Colin was getting a little tired of the more quirky, angular stuff the band had been doing. And with the addition of Dave Gregory on guitar, he was able to push the band in a more pop direction. Not necessarily more commercial, just more accessible.

The fact is the band had all kinds of influences and with Barry Andrews’ departure, they could explore and incorporate sounds and styles beyond just the punk and new wave approach.

When Colin first presented “Making Plans For Nigel” to the band, he was strumming it on a nylon string classical guitar, and that wasn’t going to cut it for XTC. Andy Partridge contributed a lot to the arrangement of the song, and he worked with drummer Terry Chambers on the drum part. Influenced by the sounds of Devo, Andy referred to it as an “upside down drum part”, where Terry was moving a conventional rhythm around to different drums on the drum set.

Colin is following the tom pattern on his bass. Dave Gregory is playing staccato spiky chords on his guitar, while Andy is playing a two-note riff over the top.

You can hear a slow flanging effect on the drums. Terry is playing an insistent pattern on the floor tom instead of the hi-hat or symbol, as a drummer would typically do. In fact, he’s playing the hi-hat along with the bass drum. And just before the rest of the band kicks in, one of the guitars sounds like it’s momentarily stepping on a wah-wah pedal.

Again, that’s Dave Gregory’s guitar playing chords panned somewhat to the left and Andy playing that two-note bit on the right. Here comes Colin’s vocal:

Andy has to inject some weirdness… he just can’t help himself. So he adds that odd little backing vocal part.

The lyrics tell the tale of a boy with overbearing parents who’ve already mapped out the path of his life. It’s a song about parental domination. Colin said he chose the name “Nigel” because he knew a few Nigels at school, and thought the name fit the song. But the lyrics are somewhat autobiographical. Colin’s dad did not approve of him being in a band and wanted Colin to cut his hair. Back in those days, you could get expelled from school for having long hair and sure enough, Colin was expelled for refusing to cut his hair.

The song isn’t really a depiction of Colin’s life, he just used that as a starting point. But Colin did say that there’s “a bit of Nigel in myself”. There’s probably a little Nigel in many of us.

And some more quirky backing vocals from Andy there. Doubled on guitar, I think.

Little bit of a guitar fill there from Andy.

There’s a voice whispering, we’re only making plans for Nigel behind the lead vocal. Check it out.

Colin imagined Nigel working in middle management, so he gave him a corporate job at British Steel, more or less at random. Turned out to be a good choice because a month after the album was released, 100,000 union steel workers went on strike.

The British Steel Company was upset enough by the song that they found four of their employees named Nigel and had them tell the press just how great it was to work for British steel. And, as usual, this kind of publicity only helped XTC to sell more records.

They used a keyboard to create that metallic, industrial crashing sound that, along with the unique drum pattern, give the song a mechanized production line feel that matches the corporate industry conformity of the lyrics.

Now we’ve reached the bridge; Andy adds his distinctive harmony vocals here.

Andy is going to add a background vocal here, singing the line “In his work” with kind of a howling delivery that makes you wonder just how happy Nigel really is with his work.

That last time, Andy sings “In his world”. And then they repeat the main verse.

Let’s focus in on the drum part, and listen again to the way Terry Chambers plays the floor tom like it was the hi hat and uses the hi hat for accents.

And there’s another short guitar break played by Andy.

They repeat the verse again, but with different harmonies that add a sense of urgency to it. this time.

Andy adds a new high pitched vocal to that part.

Lyrically, the song is never sung from Nigel’s perspective. The whole song is sung from the perspective of Nigel’s overbearing parents. Nigel never gets to share his thoughts or feelings in his own song.

Another reference to British Steel. Here, the song breaks as they repeat the word “Steel” with that heavy echo. I imagine this was influenced by the reggae dub sound.

The rhythm guitars get a little busier here at the end.

“Making Plans For Nigel” – XTC

When the record company heard “Making Plans For Nigel”, they wanted it to be the first single from the album, and it turned out to be their first big hit, at least in the UK.

XTC is often compared to the Beatles, and I think that’s an apt comparison, at least in the sense that there was a certain tension between the two primary songwriters; there was a constant evolution from album to album; that no two records are the same; and that they were always exploring new sounds and new approaches to making records. Their songs were always smart, always clever and they knew their way around to catchy melody.

The fact that XTC never got the attention they deserved, especially in America, is just one of those frustrating things about the music business. But it doesn’t change the fact that as far as I’m concerned, they made some of the greatest albums ever.

Thank you for listening to this edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. If you’d like to leave feedback or a review of the show, is probably the best place to do it. You can keep up to date with the show on our Facebook page, and you can find all of our previous episodes on our website, or just search for us on Google Podcasts, Amazon, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and pretty much anywhere podcasts can be found.

And if you like the show, the best thing you can do to support us is to tell some friends about it– share it with other people. That helps the show to grow.

We are part of the Pantheon network of podcasts, where you can find a ton of other music related shows, so give some of those shows a listen. New episodes of this show are released on the first and the 15th of every month, so I’ll see you back here in about two weeks.

Until then, thanks again for listening to this episode on “Making Plans For Nigel” by XTC.

In the late 1980’s, Paul McCartney took a shot at writing some songs with Elvis Costello. The ultimate result was a set of 15 songs, some of them never seeing the light of day until years later. But “Back On My Feet” was the first song that was released, buried as a B-side on the “Once Upon A Long Ago” single. It deserved better. Here, we explore the song in detail and shine a light on this overlooked gem.

“Back On My Feet” (Paul McCartney & Declan MacManus) Copyright 1989 MPL Communications Ltd/Plageant Visions Ltd

 — This show is just one of many great Rock Podcasts on the Pantheon Podcasts network. Collect ’em all!


Welcome, one and all, to the “I’m In Love With That Song” Podcast. I’m your host, Brad Page, and each episode of this show, I pick one of my favorite songs and we explore it together, just trying to get a handle on what makes a song great. No musical knowledge is required here. We don’t get into music theory or too much technical jargon. We’re just listening to the performances, the production, and all those little nuances that go into making a song work.

On this edition, we’re uncovering a lesser-known track by Paul McCartney that’s called “Back on My Feet”.

Way back on the very first episode of this podcast, we listened to a McCartney song called “Daytime Nighttime Suffering” that was relegated to a B-side and never got the attention that it deserved. On this episode, we’ll be exploring another McCartney B-side that I think deserves a lot more attention, too.

Back in 1987, McCartney was coming off a run of mediocre albums that didn’t receive great reviews and didn’t sell particularly well, either. So, he was looking to mix things up. He was looking for someone to inject some new life into his songwriting. And so he reached out to Elvis Costello.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions had played at one of the last ever shows by Wings, the Concert for the People of Kampuchea Benefit in 1979. And both Paul and Elvis were working in the same studio at one point during the 80’s, so they had met a few times before. By 1987, Elvis had a number of hits, and he was well-respected as a songwriter and critics loved him. He was a natural choice for McCartney to collaborate with.

People were quick to say that Costello would be the new Lenin in the partnership, but I never really saw it that way. Elvis Costello isn’t John Lennon. He had his own thing going. But he did bring a cleverness and a more biting edge than anyone McCartney had written with since Lennon.

The first song McCartney and Costello worked on together was “Back on My Feet”. Paul had the basic melody for the song together, but it wasn’t finished. Let’s hear a bit of McCartney’s original demo for the song.


If you listen to the whole demo, you’ll hear he just repeats that verse again. So, clearly, the lyrics weren’t finished yet. But the idea is there this image of a down on his luck guy, homeless, living on the street.  Elvis would contribute to the lyrics, in particular, expanding on the cinematic language and adding a counter-melody. Recording sessions for the final version began on March 1987 at Hog Hill Studio, which is McCartney’s home studio in East Sussex, England.

This was the first time Paul worked with producer Phil Ramon. The basic track was laid down with Paul on piano, Tim Renwick on guitar, Nick Glennny Smith on keyboards and Charlie Morgan on drums. Paul would later overdub the bass along with some additional guitar and his vocals, and Linda McCartney would add some backing vocals.

I really like the low-key groove of this song. Let’s bring up the drums for a second just to get a better feel for that beat.


So far, the song is largely keyboard focused, but if you listen closely to this next verse, you can hear some very clean electric guitar come in. Sounds like it might be recorded in stereo. It’s nestled pretty low in the mix.


In that verse, we start to get some of that cinematic imagery in the lyrics:

“Cut to the rain as it runs down the glass,
Eventually through the lightning and thunder,
We see a man going under”

It’s almost like they’re directing a film. Let’s go back and bring up the vocals so we can hear some of those lyrics again.


Now we’ve reached the first chorus, and things ramp up here. There’s a distorted guitar that comes in with power chords, and McCartney intensifies his vocals here. Now he’s singing from the perspective of this guy on the street. Costello referred to this character as a “hapless vagabond”. He’s defiant. He’s saying, “I don’t need your love, I just need a hand until I’m back on my feet.”


All right, let’s go back and listen to that again because there’s something odd happening there as we come out of the chorus. It’s like there’s a half of a beat added, or maybe a half of a beat missing. I can’t figure it out. Listen to the snare drum and you’ll really notice it. The snare is hitting on the two and the four of every measure, as usual. But you’ll hear it sort of skip when they come out of the chorus. So here’s the snare drum on the two and the four, as you’d expect But listen to what happens as the chorus reaches the end.


You caught that, right? Let’s play through that change one more time.


Well, I just think that’s an odd choice, because it’s definitely intentional. All right, here’s the next verse.


I really like that series of chord changes behind that part of the verse. Let’s listen to just the instrumental tracks. There comes the next chorus. And notice how they add echoes to Paul’s voice when he hits the word “Sky”:


Great vocals in the chorus, including those harmonies. Let’s listen to that again and bring up the vocals so we can hear that a little better.

And there’s that skipped beat again.

Paul changes his vocal delivery again for this section. Let’s go back and focus on the vocals here.


I really like that “Whoa” at the end there. Let’s go back and listen to that section again with all the parts together.


Notice how they’ve mixed in an electronic drum sound along with the snare drum, just for those four beats between the vocals. We’ll play that again:


Here comes that added snare sound again. Here’s the last verse. It opens once again with a cinematic reference.


McCartney plays a great little bass part there. Let’s hear that again.


On this chorus, Paul sings some additional lines around the main chorus vocals.


And there’s some guitar fills, probably played by Tim Renwick added here:


Elvis Costello said that one of the things he contributed to the song was a counter-melody sung from the perspective of an unsympathetic chorus of onlookers. I’m pretty sure he’s referring to this part coming up:


And the final lines of the song kind of conclude the film or movie imagery here. They sing:

“His face starts to fade as we pull down the shade
and the picture we made is in glorious CinemaScope”

I love McCartney’s last bit of vocals there. As the song fades out, it’s like he’s yelling into the camera of our imagined movie here, defiant till the end. There’s also some nice orchestration with the guitar and the bass behind that part. Let’s back it up and listen through the fade to the end.


“Back on My Feet” by Paul McCartney.

Here’s a song written by two musical legends, Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello, produced by a legendary producer, Phil Ramone; they put all this effort into writing it and recording it, and then it ends up being relegated to a B-side of a relatively obscure single called “Once Upon a Long Ago” that most people don’t know that as an A-side, let alone what was on the flip side.

If I wrote something half as good as this, I’d consider that a lifetime achievement. For McCartney, it’s just something to fill space on a B-side. His career is just full of gems like this.

Thanks for joining me again on this episode of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. We’re part of the Pantheon Network of podcasts, home to many great music-related shows, so be sure to check those out, too.

This show will be back in about two weeks, so until then, talk to us on Facebook, send an email to, or write a review on Podchaser or wherever it is that you listen to podcasts.

All of our previous shows can be found on our website,, as well as any place that you can find podcasts. And remember to follow the show so that you never miss an episode.

Thanks for listening to this edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast on “Back On My Feet” by Paul McCartney.

In 1981, Rush had planned to release a live album, but riding a wave of good vibes & inspiration, they changed their minds and decided to record an album of new material instead.  It turned out to be their best-selling album, and years later the band would still look back on it fondly.  Most of their biggest hits are on this album titled Moving Pictures, but this episode we’re turning our ears on a lesser-known (but fan favorite) track, “The Camera Eye“.

“The Camera Eye” (Words by Peart, Music by Lee and Lifeson) Copyright 1981 Core Music Publishing

 — Don’t forget to follow this show, so you never miss an episode.


Invisible airways crackle with life, bright antenna bristle with the energy, bringing you the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast on the Pantheon Podcast Network. I’m your host, Brad Page. Some songs inspire me, some songs are fascinating to me, some really get to me emotionally, and some songs are really intriguing. Some just capture my imagination. Whatever the case, I always wonder why that is. What is it that makes a song so great? Well, that’s the idea behind this podcast– discovering what goes into making a great song.

This time on the podcast, we’re sticking our toe back into progressive rock. These songs are always tricky because the music can get complicated, and we try not to get bogged down with a lot of technical stuff on this show. And the songs are long and don’t always fit the format here. But I’ve been wanting to explore this track for a while now, so let’s do it. This is Rush with “The Camera Eye”.


In the 1970’s, Rush evolved into one of the leading purveyors of progressive rock, or Prog Rock, as both fans and detractors like to call it. Releasing their “2112” album in 1976 established them as fan favorites in the genre. And in 1978, they recorded their most proggy album ever, “Hemispheres”. So after something like that, where do you go from there?

Well, that instigated one of the major shifts in the band over their 45-year career.  They started working on shorter songs. Not any less creative musically, but tighter, more focused. Guitarist Alex Lifeson would graciously step back a bit and leave more room for bassist Geddy Lee to also add more keyboards to their sound. And besides playing bass and keyboards at the same time, Geddy was also their singer, and he changed his vocal approach around this time, singing in a little lower register.

And then drummer Neil Peart, who wrote all of their lyrics, changed the things he was writing about. Gone were the Sci-Fi epics and the tales of fantasy. Now Neil wrote more about the things that affected him in his daily life and about the world around him. Across the board, this was a big change for the band. It was a risk, but it paid off as the 1970’s came to a close. Rush began the new decade by releasing the “Permanent Waves” album in January 1980, and it was a big hit. It would become one of their bestselling albums and remains a favorite amongst their fans.

The band embarked on a successful tour. In fact, I think this was the first tour that they actually made any money on. And during the sound checks and rehearsals, they started coming up with new material. The original plan was for them to release a live album after “Permanent Waves”. But the band was feeling pretty enthusiastic, and the vibes were good. So, when one of their friends at their record label, Mercury Records, suggested that they try recording a new studio album, they said, “let’s do it” and changed their plans.

The result was “Moving Pictures”, which would become their best selling and most popular album.

Recorded at Les Studio in Quebec, and produced by their longtime producer, Terry Brown, the album would spawn their biggest hits and concert favorites like “Tom Sawyer”, “Limelight”, “Red Barchetta”, “YYZ”– all from this album. In fact, they’re all packed on Side One of this album.

But Side Two of “Moving Pictures: opens with a song called “The Camera Eye”. The song clocks in at 10 minutes and 58 seconds, almost eleven minutes long. It’s the longest song on the album, and this would be the last time Rush would record a song this long. They would never record another song over ten minutes.

The song was produced by Terry Brown, the music was written by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, and the lyrics written by Neil Peart. “The Camera Eye” was the first song written for the album, at least as far as the lyrics. While on tour, Neil Peart would sometimes walk the different cities, and he came up with the lyrics to “The Camera Eye” based on his impressions of the different feel and different rhythms of two cities in particular, New York and London.

Neil Peart was often seen with a book in his hand. He was one of the most well-read men in rock, certainly the most well-read drummer in rock history. Neil had read the work of John Dos Pasos, in particular his “USA Trilogy”. And in those books, Dos Pasos uses a literary device he calls “the camera eye”. That’s where Neil got the title from. One of the books in the USA trilogy is called “The Big Money”. Neil would later write a song based on that, too.

“The Camera Eye” opens with the sound of a city. It’s a city street scene. According to Geddy Lee, when they were putting together that pastiche of sound effects, one of the clips they used was a bit of audio from “Superman”, the 1978 movie with Christopher Reeve. Here’s the street scene from the movie:

Now, let’s go back and listen to the song. And if you listen closely, you can hear that guy saying “fresh fruit”. At that point, Geddy Lee’s keyboards come in. He was using a mix of Oberheim synthesizers, Taurus bass pedals, probably some Korg keyboards as well. Let’s pick it up from there.


The synthesizer is making a burbling sound underneath. That’s created using a process called “sample and hold”.


Now we’ll hear the first musical motif that will occur throughout the song.


 Neil is doing some subtle snare drum work here. Also, Alex Lifeson is adding some guitar bits, playing harmonics or just making some interesting guitar sounds. Alex is chucking his guitar strings in sync with Neil’s snare drum. Let’s play that back.

Neil comes in there with a pretty straightforward drum beat for Neil. And that takes us into the next section of the song. And Neil was doing some nice cymbal work underneath that keyboard part. Let’s hear that.

More of that sample and hold synthesizer brings us into the next section of the song.

I think this is one of the all-time great Rush riffs. Let’s hear Alex’s guitar playing that riff.


Now, up until this point, Geddy has only been playing his keyboards, but this is where his bass guitar comes in.

We’ve reached the verse and it wouldn’t be Rush without some interesting time signature stuff going on. Leading into the verse here, they’re alternating between measures with four beats and measures of six. Let’s try to count that out. 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4-5-6, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4-5-6 .

Now, once the vocals start, they change it up again. Most of the verse is in 6/4 time: six beats per measure, except the second measure of each line has only five beats. So let’s try counting that. 1-2-3-4-5-6, 1-2-3-4-5, 1-2-3-4-5-6, 1-2-3-4-5-6, 1-2-3-4-5-6, 1-2-3-4-5, 1-2-3-4-5-6, 1-2-3-4-5-6.

So let’s go back and listen to all of this again. But I don’t want you to try to count it, just listen to how it flows. To me, part of the magic of Rush is not how they’re able to play the technical stuff, it’s how they’re able to make it sound so natural.


We talked about how this song is the tale of two cities. This first verse is about New York, and as you would expect from the pen of Neil Peart, the lyrics are vivid and insightful.

“Grim faced and forbidding, their faces close tight.
An angular mass of New Yorkers
pacing and rhythm race the oncoming night
they chase through the streets of Manhattan.”

And let’s listen to Geddy’s bass part here. Then they go back into the main riff, and this introduces us to a new part of the song– maybe my favorite part of the song. Beautifully orchestrated, the way they put this together.


We’re still in New York in this vignette, but he references a rain “like an English rain”; he’s connecting these two cities together, and we’ll wind up in London soon.


Geddy plays a nice little bass lick before the next line. Let’s hear all of that together again.


And more great drumming by Neil during this part. Let’s go back and hear some of those drums. As this section continues, Geddy brings some of those keyboards back in.


As the lyrics speak of the buildings and their limitless rise, the keyboards subtly climb up in the background. They’re going to stay on the same basic chord changes here, but Neil is going to change up his drum pattern which starts to build up the drama. And listen to Geddy’s bass here. Neil ramps up the drums even more.


That kind of dramatic buildup and release. I don’t think any band did that kind of thing better than Rush. Let’s go back and just listen to Neil’s drums during this whole section. That basically brings us back to the beginning of the song as we start again in a new city.


I just love Neil’s drum part there. Let’s pick it back up there. Great guitar work by Alex here, too.

We’re cycling our way back through the different parts of the song again. Let’s hear Alex playing that riff again. Sounds to me like one guitar panned left and one panned right. And we’ve got to listen to Geddy’s bass part there, it’s really something.

And that gets us to the second verse. And let’s listen to what Alex is doing on guitar. I think there are three guitar parts here. An electric in the middle with two acoustic guitars panned left and right. Those guitars are really jangly. My guess is he’s either playing with a capo or in a special tuning.


Let’s hear more of Geddy’s bass. Let’s check out that drum fill.

The last time around, we didn’t pay much attention to Alex’s guitar part in this section. So let’s go back and listen to that.


OK, it’s time for a little mythbusting. You can hear a voice in the background there; I’ve seen speculation online of all kinds of things, even that that was Geddy burping and then saying, “Oh God”. But if we listen to the vocal track, it’s simply an old English greeting. Remember, the setting is London.


Let’s pick it back up at that spot.  There’s another great line.

“Pavements may teem with intense energy,
but the city is calm in this violent sea.”

Then we get a great guitar solo from Alex Lifeson. The sound is stripped down to just bass, drums and the guitar solo. And his guitar tone is super distorted. He must have been using a fuzz pedal for this solo.


After the guitar solo, we head into the big finale. They repeat this section from earlier, and I love these lines.

“I feel the sense of possibilities,
 I feel the wrench of hard realities.”

 You know, people go to the big city to make their mark, make their dreams come true, right where it all seems possible… but you’re often confronted with the harsh realities. The competition is intense, you get taken advantage of, dreams get crushed. That’s the risk. I think Neil really captures all of that in these two lines.

I just want to rewind and listen to Neil’s drum climax at the end there. It’s really good, but you’d expect nothing less. There’s a long fade-out on that final chord. There’s some cymbal and snare work from Neil, and a few extra notes in the keyboards, but mostly they’re letting that last chord ring out as long as possible.

And the last thing we’ll hear is the sound of church bells in the city.

“The Camera Eye” By Rush

“Moving Pictures” was their 8th album, their best-selling album in the US. And probably their most popular worldwide. They would go on to release eleven more albums, 19 studio albums in total, and there is not a bad one in the bunch. Of course, you’ll like some more than others, but they all have merit.

Neil retired from touring in 2015, and in 2018 the band officially called it quits. And on January 7, 2020, Neil Peart died as a result of brain cancer.

Geddy and Alex are still with us. They’ve stayed out of the limelight for the most part these last few years. There’s talk of them doing some new music together. It won’t be Rush– that’s over, but it would be nice to hear them make music together again. Still, 19 great albums. If that’s all we get, I can live with that.

Thanks for listening to this edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. We’ll be back in two weeks with another new episode. Until then, get caught up on all of our previous shows on our website,, and of course, you can find us on all of the podcast apps and services too.

Don’t forget to follow the show so that you never miss an episode. And if you’d like this show to continue, the best thing you can do is to tell a friend about it, because your recommendation really means a lot.

So, from my remote little corner here on the Pantheon Podcast network, I thank you again for listening and remind you to support the artists you love by buying their music. Now, go dig out your copy of “Moving Pictures” and crank up “The Camera Eye” by Rush.

The “Paisley Underground” scene birthed a lot of great bands in the ’80’s, but few went on to be as commercially successful as the Bangles. That success came with a price, as they were pulled away from the British Invasion and Power Pop sound that inspired them. But their first full-length album, All Over The Place, is one of the best records of the era. Before they were swayed by Prince or walked like Egyptians, they were one of the most promising successors to the sound of 60’s jangle pop.

“Tell Me” (Suzanna Hoffs/Vicki Peterson) Copyright 1984 Illegal Songs Inc/Banglophile Music


What is it about songs that capture your imagination or make a lasting impact on you? How is it that a song can somehow capture an entire experience, or express a complex idea much better than mere words? I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to answer those questions here, but we do try to understand what it takes to put a great song together; the performances, the arrangements, the production, and just maybe get a little insight into those bigger questions. This is the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. I’m your host, Brad Page, and today’s song is “Tell Me” by The Bangles.


To some people, The Bangles were just that other girl band from LA. But to me, they were one of the best bands to come out of LA in the 1980’s, boy or girl. They came together in 1981 after Susannah Hoffs and the Peterson sisters, Vicki and Debbie, met through the Musicians Wanted classified ads in the weekly Recycler newspaper. They bonded immediately over their love for The Beatles and 60’s rock in general.

They first gigged around LA as The Colors before changing their name to The Bangs. With their jangly guitars and those rich harmony vocals, they fit right into the growing scene in LA rooted in the sounds of 60’s garage bands and the British Invasion, what would later be known as the “Paisley Underground” sound. They recorded their first single in 1981 called “Getting Out of Hand”.


That single caught the ear of Miles Copeland, who signed them to his Faulty Products label, which was eventually folded into IRS Records.  With Susanna Hoffs and Vicki Peterson, both on guitars and vocals, Debbie Peterson on drums and vocals and Annette Zelenskis on bass, the band set about recording a five song EP in 1982. Just as they were about to release the EP, they discovered there was another band called The Bangs, so at the last minute, they changed their name to The Bangles.

Shortly after the EP was released, Annette left to start her own project, Blood On The Saddle. She was replaced by the former Susan Thomas, who, using the stage name Mickey Steele, was a founding member of The Runaways. When she joined The Bangles, she changed her name yet again to Michael Steele.

In 1984, they released their first full length album, called “All Over the Place” on Columbia Records. For my money, this is one of the best albums of the entire 1980’s. Every song is a gem, and each song shows a different side of the band. I could have picked any song on this album to feature, it’s that good. But on this episode, we’re going to listen to one of the most rockin’ songs on the album.

“Tell Me” was written by Susanna Hoffs and Vicki Peterson. It features Susanna on rhythm guitar, Vicki on lead guitar, Debbie Peterson on drums and Michael Steele on bass. Both Susanna and Vicky handled the lead vocals together with Debbie on backing vocals. The album was produced by David Khan.

“Tell Me” was one of the earliest songs Susanna and Vicki wrote together dating back to 1982. And you can hear its roots in that garage band sound of their early club days in the best possible way. It may sound like a simple garage rock tune, but there’s some nice work here.

The song kicks off with a classic jangly guitar intro. Then a snare drum fill launches the riff. Vicki is playing the riff on electric, and it sounds like Susanna’s playing rhythm on an acoustic guitar. Here’s just the guitars.

Now, let’s let that play through to the first verse, and notice how the guitar riff drops out to make room for the vocal. Straight away, you can hear how well Susanna and Vicki’s voices blend together. Debbie’s voice adds to the harmony here. The second verse comes right on the heels of the first.

Vicki s playing a crunchy guitar part that slides between two chords. Simple but effective.

Here’s the chorus.

This is a great example of how the Bangles arranged their vocal harmonies.

Then Michael Steele gets a moment to shine with a cool bass part.

Here’s a guitar playing a single chord over the top. It’s a very clean tone with a tremolo effect that gives it a real shimmering sound. Then Vicki gets in a short surf guitar influenced solo.

Notice how the drums just never let up. Debbie is pounding them through the whole track. Listen to the bass during the chorus, too. It’s another great part.

And on the third verse, they break between the lines for Michael to take the lead.

“Tell Me” by The Bangles.

Short and sweet, all of two minutes and 15 seconds. Sometimes that’s all you need to make your point. In just over two minutes, you got a taste of everything this band has to offer; the blended vocals and harmonies, the garage punk energy melodic guitar riffing, and then each band member gets to show their stuff.

I think The Bangles were a league above the other bands they got lumped in with, both vocally and as musicians. They got forced into a much too slick commercial box during the 1980s, and by ‘89, they split. But they came back in 2003 with an album that was a return to form—“Doll Revolution”, and they followed that up with “Sweethearts of the Sun” in 2011. Both albums are worth checking out.

Though Michael Steele would leave the band again, their original bass player, Annette Zelenskis, returned for their most recent incarnation. The Bangles never made a bad album, but I still think this one, “All Over The Place”, is the one to beat.

Thank you for joining me on the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. New episodes of this show are released on the 1st and the 15th of every month, so we’ll be back soon. Until then, you can catch up on all our previous episodes on our website,

Let us know what’s on your mind. You can find us on Facebook; just search for the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast.

We are happy to be part of the Pantheon Podcast Network, so be sure to check out some of the other great shows that are part of the Pantheon family. That’s it for this episode. I will see you soon… For now, I leave you with “Tell Me” by the Bangles.

The Angels (known as “Angel City” in the US) are one of those fantastic bands that made it big in their home country– in this case, Australia– but never caught on in the US. A shame, because these guys had it all: big riffs, great hooks, and clever lyrics. Let’s check out this great track from the band I like to think of as “the intellectual AC/DC”.

“Look The Other Way” (Rick Brewster, Doc Neeson, John Brewster, Brent Eccles) Copyright 1984 ATR/EP/Cat Songs

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