The Roots of Rock and Roll


Shout It Out: A Concept Album?

by: Bethany (website)

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the idea that Shout It Out is very inspired by oldies, Motown and classic rock. But I’d go even farther and say that it’s totally a concept album. And here are all the reasons why, on a song by song basis. I suspect some of you will think I’m reaching with parts of this. But Taylor did say during a livestream that if you think they are referencing an older song, then they are. He was talking mostly of Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’, but it’s what inspired me to take a closer look at all of these lyrics.

First up is the opener, Waiting For This. People have said for years that Hanson evokes the style of Billy Joel and I’ve sort of sat back going, “err… sure.” But this song convinced me. Lyrically it’s pretty bland, for my tastes, so for this one it’s mostly the musical style that emulates something older.

I was one of the first people on HNET to notice all the references in Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’ and it won me over on the song, which I had been on the fence about. I think they started this with Underneath, in songs like Penny and Me and (the unreleased track) My Own Sweet Time. Can also be seen in Been There Before, sorta. But they really go overboard with this song. I’m not gonna include videos here, but I will break it down almost line by line.

-You’ve been out there shakin’/your tail the boys are chasin’
This one is obvious, right? Shake A Tail Feather by Ray Charles.

-Well if you’re not too proud to beg
Ain’t To Proud To Beg by The Temptations

-I can give you some respect
R-E-S-P-E-C-T by the Queen, Aretha.

-That tune you’re humming is never gonna change
Could be a refence to You Got Me Hummin’ by Sam and Dave, but I’m not sure. It might account for their fun with apostrophes.

-You didn’t have to do what you did/but I thank you it ended like this
A FANTASTIC play on a lyric from Sam and Dave’s Thank You, which goes “You didn’t have to love me like you/but you did, but you did/and I thank you.”

-Well I’ve got girls in line/waiting for these arms of mine/listen up to what I say
These Arms of Mine by Otis Redding — one of their favorite artists, I believe. And tacked onto the end of it, What I Say by Ray Charles.

-I’ve had enough of the tainted love you give me everyday
Tainted Love, which was originally by Gloria Jones, though made more famous by the Soft Cell version that borrowed lyrics from the Supremes. That’s like a motown orgy right there.

I’m quite sure there are more, but these are the ones I’ve managed to catch thus far.

Kiss Me When You Come Home, in addition to sounding rather Billy Joel-ish again, is a bit more subtle on the name dropping and it only happens once. They’ve even covered this one. What’s the song, you ask? Hard to Handle, which was originally recorded by Otis Redding.

Fourth track now. Carry You There has the sort of gospel sound that makes me think it would have been just as at home on This Time Around or The Walk. But that’s neither here nor there. The biggest reference in it might actually be an in joke, referencing the cadillac line in Hey (a lyrical masterpiece, and I dare you to ask me why). But cadillacs also remind me of oldies. The movie Cadillac Records, for one. Incidentally, Bo Diddley recorded a song called “Cadillac” which was later covered by The Kinks (a Hanson favorite, I believe?) and Van Morrison. Also, Bruce Springsteen (the epitome of this American rock thing Hanson keeps going on about) has a song called Pink Cadillac. On top of all that is the early doo wop group The Cadillacs.

Give A Little is a strange song. I keep struggling to describe the guitars in it. There’s a swingy, twangy… Westernish Rockabilly-ish sound to it? I don’t know. Whatever the sound it is, it smacked me in the face in all of about five seconds during the 5 of 5 livestream.

Although several of the lyrics ping my oldies sense, the only overt one is of course “heart and soul.” And it isn’t the first time our boys have referenced that one, is it? I think they may have even added themselves to the nigh on endless list of people to cover it. A few notable covers have been recorded by: Jan and Dean, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, and NOFX. Erm… anyway.

I’m a big fan of the Jan and Dean version purely because it was on one of the cassette tapes I grew up listening to. Just like Hanson, I grew up on AM Gold and Time Life tapes. Hearing they did the same was a big reason I fell for their music.

With Make It Out Alive, we’re getting back into traditional Hanson territory. I think this one could have easily been at home on Middle of Nowhere. Which is surprising, I think, that they can go all the way back to that sound and still make it sound pretty fresh. I am, however, struggling to call up a good oldies reference for this one. Actually, let’s talk about horns. I HEAR HORNS.

Sorry. That was a big of a random outburst.

And from horns in rock songs, to erm… disco? Funk? I don’t even know but I love And I Waited. Another in joke, that. Because who doesn’t hear those three words and immediately think of Runaway Run? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

The only possible lyrical references in this one are too obtuse to be sure. The constant talk of satisfaction calls to mind The Rolling Stones. “Downtown” will always make me think of Petula Clark’s song of the same name. And then there’s Uptight, by Stevie Wonder. And I think Zac just might be striving to imitate good ol’ Stevie with his vocals on many songs.

Just for fun, I plugged And I Waited into Pandora Radio and it brought up, among others, Kiss and Michael Jackson.

Now, I’ve already told several of you this, but I love Use Me Up. And I love it not just for what it is, but for the fact that the added horns make it, in a strange way, remind me of one of my favorite songs ever — Nights In White Satin by The Moody Blues. Seriously. If you don’t love this song, we probably shouldn’t be friends. It’s one of the best things ever. And the lyrics! Forgot about those. Right well, it’s obviously a reference to Use Me by Bill Withers, which I would include here except I’m certain every self respecting Hanson fan has already heard Isaac belt it out.”Ball and chain” could be a Janis Joplin reference, but then it’s also a very common phrase. I’m gonna say that one is coincidental.

These Walls gets back to the tradition of in jokes. “The sky is falling all over again” is possibly a reference to Save Me, but both songs were written around the same time period (there’s a soundcheck from 2000 floating around with Ike actually singing lead on an electric version of These Walls).

It’s also just a good example of the consistent imagery Hanson uses in their songs, which is another article unto itself and one that’s probably so geeky no one but me would enjoy it. I’m drawing a blank, however, on oldies songs that I can tie this one too. Sorry guys.

Quite frankly, I’m tempted to skip Musical Ride. I’ve tried, but I can’t find a damn thing about it to like except it kinda sounds okay if you don’t listen to the words. And Hanson is better than that kind of song. The verses aren’t so bad but the chorus ruins it. I think I know what they were going for here, but Cat Stevens does is better and with much, much more substance.

Caroliiiiiine. Ahem. Voice In The Chorus is obviously, although Hanson have been vague, about fairweather fans. I don’t know how anyone can deny that. I also don’t know why more people don’t like this song, but whatever.

I know they were asked during a livestream if the name Caroline came from a particular song. My stream went fuzzy then so I didn’t hear if the song in question was Outkast or Neil Diamond — admittedly two people I never thought I’d put in the same sentence. The similar themes are too much to ignore, though.

And that brings us to the last track. The traditional last ballad. Me, Myself and I. Another one that originated around the This Time Around era, I believe. Incidentally, Billie Holiday had a song by the same name.

I’ve gotta admit, I occasionally think this one tries to hard to be another Song to Sing and really misses the mark. But it’s growing on me, like a musical fungus or something. However, like These Walls, I can’t find an appropriate oldie to connect it to. I’m tempted to use One by Three Dog Night for the slight similarity in themes, but I don’t think that really works.

On that slightly awkward note, I think I’m done here. Hopefully I haven’t bored any of you to death or scared you off. I clearly spend far too much time thinking about music and if I had a shred of talent, I probably would have studied something to do with it in college. Instead, I learned how to ramble and analysis everything to death. Fun times!