Composer, author, lecturer, guitar teacher

Daydream Believer

Following the death of ex-Monkees singer Davy Jones last week a number of their hits from the mid-60s got airplay. One which was bound to be played since Jones sang lead on it was ‘Daydream Believer’, which was in the UK Top 20 from early December 1967 to mid-February 1968, reaching no.5.

I always thought this was something of a classic Sixties single, full of a certain innocence. Hearing it suggested a couple of songwriting points. The first is the way the verse melody moves through a number of peaks and dips, covering more than an octave. The chorus starts with the two highest notes of the song. The second point is that the chorus provides an example of what I call in my songwriting books ‘displacement’ – in this case, the positioning of the home chord, chord I. The song is in G major. The chorus sequence is IV-V-III, IV-V-VI, IV, I (C-D-Bm, C-D-Em, C, G). (I’ve stopped annotating when it reaches chord I just before the word ‘day’.) You can see that chord I is delayed until well into the chorus. I think this sequence illustrates the point about how displacing chord I can make  a progression sound more mobile. The poignancy of the first two lines of the chorus owe something to the way chords IV and V end up landing on two minor chords (III and VI) rather than I.

You can hear a similar displacement in T’Pau’s 80s hit ‘China In Your Hand’ where the chorus starts IV-V and then (one beat to each chord) I iV VI V – and there chord I only gets one beat, followed by IV-V-III-IV-V, etc.

Here’s a guitar chord for you to try: x65046 (x = an unplayed string, other numbers are fret numbers). Hold down a standard C chord (x32010) add a G at the top with your little finger (x32013) and then move it up three frets to get this unusual Eb chord. I was reminded of it when looking at Big Star’s ‘The Ballad of El Goodo’. Guitarists don’t normally write songs in Eb without a capo or detuning by a semitone, but this shape might come in handy anyway.

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One response

  1. Dear Rikky,

    I’m currently working on an academic article which touches on Swinburne, and have been reading your excellent biography for background. I wonder if you’d mind my asking you a couple of questions (by email)? My own background is that I’m an independent scholar based in Oxford, and the author of a book entitled “Digimodernism”- I also have a website.

    Hope you won’t mind the imposition, and hoping to hear back from you,

    Best wishes,

    Alan Kirby

    March 16, 2012 at 3:35 pm

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