Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 25: The Easybeats, "Friday On My Mind"

Artist: The Easybeats
Song: "Friday On My Mind"
Album: Friday On My Mind (single)
Year: 1966

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN (will open in new tab)

Though it makes very little logical sense, the fact of the matter is, for whatever reason, most people tend to overlook the importance of Australia when it comes to the overall development of music over the past decades.  From The Saints to AC/DC to Nick Cave and countless other groups, music simply would not progress in the way that it has without the unique contributions of Australia's finest musicians.  Yet even before these bands made their names as legends, there was a group that stormed the world and significantly altered the face of popular music.  Bringing an edge and tempo to popular music that seem to somehow also blend elements of the growing psychedelic movement, there was simply no other group on the planet that sounded quite like The Easybeats.  It was this distinctive sound that brought the band comparisons to the greatest groups of their time, yet there was something far more accessible about their music.  Furthermore, though countless artists have spent their entire career trying to write a single song that reverberates across all cultures and generations, most of the time, they end up trying to dig too deep and miss the most universal of all human feelings.  Yet The Easybeats managed to hone in on this almost simple approach, and there are few songs from any point in music history that are as unforgettable as The Easybeats' classic 1966 single, "Friday On My Mind."

In a manner unlike any other song in history, the moment that "Friday On My Mind" begins, the entire mood and tone is set instantly, and even after countless listenings, it still manages to completely draw in the listener.  The guitar team of George Young (older brother of AC/DC's Malcolm and Angus Young) and Harry Vanda is nothing short of perfect, and the opening guitar phrase gives the song a strange, almost clock-like sound that runs throughout.  It is also through the guitar playing that one can immediately feel the tension on the song, and even without the song title, the frustrated, almost desperate tone of the song is clear.  The rhythm section of bassist Dick Diamonde and drummer Gordon Fleet are equally impressive, helping to push the song over the edge as the bridge and chorus sections almost explode across the track.  Fleet makes the song almost skip due to the uncommon way that he approaches this song, and there is so much movement on the song that it is almost as if there are a number of different rhythms simultaneously at play.  The high-energy, tension-filled arrangement that is "Friday On My Mind" has become one of the most instantly recognizable over the decades, and it is very much due to the way in which the band seems to start and stop as a single unit that gives the song much of its unforgettable sound.

Along with the music moving at an almost frenzied pace, the vocals of Stevie Wright have etched their way into history, and there is simply not enough that can be said about his performance here.  Easily showing that he possesses one of the finest voices of his generation, on "Friday On My Mind," Wright also shows just how much emotion he can convey in a single line, as the exhaustion, if not exasperation of his work day are quite clear to any listener.  It is this common feeling, which he manages to capture in an authentic, honest manner, that makes the song able to cross nearly any boundary, and much the reason that it is still as refreshing and powerful today as it was more than forty years ago.  That is to say, the plight of the overworked, underpaid employee is a lifestyle to which a majority of the world can relate, and this reality has not lessened at all as the decades have passed.  Though it has been reworked in countless ways over the years, there has never been a more simple, yet on point way of expressing this universal feeling than when Wright opens the song with the lines, "...Monday morning feels so bad, everybody seems to nag me..."  As the chorus explodes into a celebration of cutting loose from the toils of the week, there is a huge release that can be felt, and the way in which Wright conveys these feelings almost instantly solidified his place as one of the finest vocalists in history.

While there are a vast number of other songs that work on this same theme, there remains something simple, almost pure about The Easybeats' "Friday On My Mind," and it is due to this fact that even more than four decades later, the song still holds the place for many as the "official" cue that the work week has ended.  With this in mind, the fact remains that a massive number of radio stations across the globe have made it a tradition to spin the song at five o'clock on Friday's, and it is this fact that cements both the group and the song in music history.  Whether it is the fast-paced, almost nervous energy of the verses or the overjoyed, truly happy sound that comes across in the chorus, there are few songs from anywhere else in music that helped to push the song high into the charts across the globe, as well as making "Friday On My Mind" what remains largely the quintessential Australian rock song.  Though within the music one can detect a number of influences, it would be this song that would in many ways kick-start the next wave of Australian rock music, and even bands that formed well over a decade later pay tribute to these pioneers, as traces of their sound can still be heard.  Perfectly capturing the tedium and almost painful nature of "everyman" type work, there are simply no other songs in history that can compare to the universal appeal and musical perfection found on The Easybeats' legendary 1966 single, "Friday On My Mind."

No comments: