Wednesday, November 26th
Thankful I am, too, for the unruly pleasures of rock ‘n’ roll.
Flamin’ Groovies, “Shake Some Action,” 1976
The story told in “Shake Some Action” is complete in its title—though in the song it’s a wish, not a fact, a desperate wish the singer doesn’t expect to come true. The words hardly matter: “Need” “Speed” “Say” “Away” are enough. It starts fast, as if in the middle of some greater song. A bright, trebly guitar counts off a theme, a beat is set, a bass note seems to explode, sending a shower of light over all the notes around it. The rhythm is pushing, but somehow it’s falling behind the singer. He slows down to let it catch up, and then the sound the guitar is making, a bell chiming through the day, has shot past both sides. Every beat is pulling back against every other; the whole song is a backbeat, every swing a backhand, every player his own free country, discovering the real free county in the song as it rises up in front of him, glimpsing that golden land, losing it as the mirage fades, blinking his eyes, getting it back, losing it again—that is its reckless abandon, the willingness of the music, in pursuit of where it needs to go, where it must go, to abandon itself.
—Greil Marcus, The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs (2014)