by Tony Attwood Song nominated by Aaron Galbraith
In a recent interview Bob Dylan was asked about his favourite songs, and particularly mentioned the Eagles. He then went on to cite three Eagles songs, each from 1976’s Hotel California.
‘New Kid in Town,’ ‘Life in the Fast Lane,’ ‘Pretty Maids All in a Row.’ And of the last one he then added, “That could be one of the best songs ever.”
I’ve put in both the original and the remastered version in the links below. Here’s the original version first…
And in case you prefer it the remastered…
“Pretty Maids All In A Row” has Joe Walsh on piano and synthesiser rather than guitar, and this isn’t really what, I suspect, most of us probably remember from this album. It was written by Joe Walsh who on this occasion wrote this with Joe Vitale. Joe played with the Eagles on tour.
Hi there, how are 'ya? It's been a long time Seems like we've come a long way My, but we learn so slow And heroes, they come and they go And leave us behind as if We're supposed to know why Why do we give up our hearts to the past? And why must we grow up so fast? And all you wishing well fools with your fortunes Someone should send you a rose With love from a friend, It's nice to hear from you again And the storybook comes to a close Gone are the ribbons and bows Things to remember, places to go Pretty maids all in a row
It is a song which appears to me to use Dylan’s own technique of giving hints of where we are, with lines that can be interpreted in many ways. But I have the feeling that if we get too close the meaning will evaporate before us.
“heroes, they come and they go And leave us behind as if We’re supposed to know why”
are to me the key. If Dylan had said that in a song we would nod and understand at once. He is a great hero to so many people, but he is also forever moving on and on. As he travels in his own musical and poetic world, and from time to time seemingly amends his beliefs, he leaves behind those who admired him in an earlier age with an earlier set of lyrics and an earlier set of songs.
Dylan is living out the life he has portrayed through all his songs of moving on – that great traditional blues theme. And here, that original blues message is turned into a contemporary format, but the message is clear. You have to keep on keeping on.
For many people, why Dylan has moved on and doesn’t sing the old songs in the old way any more is a mystery. Why is each new album going somewhere new, with a new style and new messages? Why does he turn from the past where he was so perfect, so magnificent?
In truth he doesn’t know the answer to that one himself.
There is one other point: the song uses chords and chord sequences that I don’t think Bob has ever used (my apologies if I simply can’t find an example which is out there and obvious).
By way of example take this sequence
Gmaj9 F#m7 Cmaj9 G and leave us be hind as if we're supposed to know Bm7 F#m7 Gmaj9
If you are a musician you will know that the major 9ths are not a common part of Bob’s musical agenda. But major 9ths followed by a minor 7th? Absolutely not. I dare you to prove me wrong.
So an interesting song, an interesting lyric / message, and interesting music. Yep I can see what I Bob likes it. But one of the best songs ever? It’s an interesting idea.
I wonder if he really meant it.
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