…they feel so wrong, they feel so right.
Today’s challenge: songs where an “important” part of the melody (so no passing notes or notes you could drop without anyone caring) goes non-diatonic when the chords are still basically doing sensible diatonic things, and even better cases where crazy but important melody notes blatantly disagree with the underlying chord.
I was thinking about this when I was listening to “Heartache Tonight”, where the song is clearly in G and is a pretty traditional chord progression, but the note that really defines the melody in the chorus (and really defines the song), and is held for a good long while, is Bb:
The Eagles – Heartache Tonight (chorus)
In this case, at the beginning of the chorus, it’s more or less over a C7 (though it’s mostly only C7 *because* of the melody), so it’s not crazy talk, though still unusual. Later in this particular chorus (the second chorus), he really insists on the Bb over a bunch of other chords, still clearly in G:
There's gonna be a heartache tonight, the moon's shining bright
So turn out the lights, and we'll get it right
An even more pronounced example is “Long Tall Sally”, which may get by under the heading of “he’s just screaming his head off”, but the whole song is basically Bb in the melody over a G major chord:
The Beatles – Long Tall Sally
I suppose you could argue that the instrumentation while the melody is playing is so sparse that we could disagree on whether it’s G major, but the song is pretty clearly in G major, and it’s clear that if we were playing this right now and forced to play a third, we’d all play a B (suggesting G major).
Continue reading for more singers making wrong notes sound awesome… →