10. The $7 million B-side

na na hey hey kiss him goodbye part 2


Steam

November 1969


Now Paul's genius really went berserk. He took the pieces of one-inch, 8-track tape and started splicing. Each hunk of tape had just one track of drums recorded on it, leaving seven tracks empty. He showed me how to splice the three pieces so that a whole new drum track was created, with plenty of room for us to add new instruments, playing a whole different tune than the one for which the drums were originally intended. No, it didn't make any sense to me either.


Altogether we came up with a pretty good drum track. I got messed up somewhere around the second verse, and the drums got kind of turned around—— the fills, that were supposed to connect different sections, ended up playing within the lines instead of between them. Actually the odd drumming kind of maybe helped the song a little.


Now Paul laid down a piano track, then an organ part. No money for studio musicians or guitars or even an electric bass. We just used what was lying around the studio. There was an actual nice vibraphone (sort of a high tech metal xylophone) so we piled that on too.


Now we were ready to print Gary's vocal. I think he did it in just one or two takes, and improvised a nice jazzy bunch of na naas at the end. Then of course, the background vocals and mandatory hand-clap track.


Then Paul came up with another weird idea: he had me slow the tape down to half speed. I think he had an idea that we had to come up with something to replace the guitar part that we didn't have. Now the song is playing back. . . really. . . slow . . . and he adds a little 4-note part that also made no sense. Until we got back up to normal speed. Then it sounded kind of like a harpsichord, or maybe a banjo.


So now the song was finished, but  we had a really unusual problem: it was too short! Only about two and a half minutes. After a year of making stuff shorter so it would get played on the radio, now I had to make this one longer, so there was no chance that some spoilsport dj would play it by mistake. It was a B-side, after all.


So I added a bunch more of those nonsense words and created a much, much longer last chorus. It was a lot longer, but extremely boring.


Then something else clicked in Paul's head, and he decided to just cut out all the tracks, including the vocals, at about 2 minutes in. He had me just mute all the tracks except that "stolen" drum track. Then we faded in the other tracks, slowly,  one by one.


Now the song timed out to 3:45. No way would radio ever play this thing.




——to be continued——


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