Build Me Up

…and the most pointless key change ever.

From: Dan

To: Ian, Jeff

I think I’ve found a song with almost all of my favorite chords (I/b7, IV → iv), and almost all of Ian’s favorite chords (bVII, III, VI, II, arguably even a III7b9)… and not one weird uncomfortable jazz moment!

Top ten best pre-chorus ever list? Eh?

Also bonus points for:

  1. Non-weird use of bongos
  2. Awesome descending bass line (C, C7/Bb, F/A, Fm/Ab)
  3. Double-time chord changes in the verse relative to the chorus
  4. Song starts with the chorus

Here’s how I’m scoring it, but if you really want to get caught up in all the times F appears in the horns and melody, you could argue for an E7b9, especially in the instrumental intro. Non-diatonic chords in red.

[C][E][F][G] x2

[G]Why do you bu[C]ild me up b[E]uttercup, baby
Just to l[F]et me down and m[G]ess me around
And then wo[C]rst of all you [E]never call, baby
When you s[F]ay you will but [G]I love you still
I need y[C]ou more than a[C7/Bb]nyone, darlin'
You k[F/A]now that I have from the [Fm/Ab]start
So b[C]uild me up b[G]uttercup, don't break my [F]heart

[C][G]

I'll be o[C]ver at t[G]en, you told me [Bb]time and [F]again
But you're l[C]ate, I wait ar[F]ound and then
I r[C]un to the d[G]oor, I can't t[Bb]ake any [F]more
It's not y[C]ou, you let me d[F]own again

[F]Hey, [F/E]hey, [Dm]hey!  
Baby, baby, I t[G]ry to find
[G]Hey, [G/F]hey, [Em]hey!
[Em]A little time, and I[A]'ll make you happy [A/G]
[F]I'll be home
I'll be [D7]beside the phone waiting for [G]  you-oo-hoo, you-oo-hoo

Repeat chorus, verse, pre-chorus, then back for another chorus…

I need y[C]ou more than a[C7/Bb]nyone, darlin'
You k[F/A]now that I have from the [Fm/Ab]start

Watch for the A coming up here…

So b[C]uild me up b[G]uttercup, don't break my [A]heart

This is a bug in my transcription, corrected later in the thread… the song actually changes key here! Five seconds before the fade! That was so implausible when I was listening that I just copied and pasted the chorus in C, but the last chorus is in D.

I need y[C]ou more than a[C7/Bb]nyone, darlin'
You k[F/A]now that I have from the [Fm/Ab]start
So b[C]uild me up b[G]uttercup, don't break my [G]heart

From: Ian

To: Dan, Jeff

This is one of my favorite songs! It also has a totally pointless key change before the outro.

From: Dan

To: Ian, Jeff

Holy shit, I correctly included the A at the end, but it was *inconceivable* that there would be a key change before a 6-second fadeout, so I assumed it just went back to C. No! It goes to D for 6 seconds! And if you multiply by volume during the fadeout, it's like 3 seconds of content.

Most totally pointless key change ever?

From: Jeff

To: Ian, Dan

I love that this uses III. I always misidentify that chord when my brain says "it can't be major! that's not allowed". same thing happened with Ben Folds's "Gone".

Thoughts on the G chord in the chorus (over "mess me around") actually being F/G?

The horns are playing F and A and then diatonically moving down to D and F. F/G doesn't quite sound right either. I don't hear the leading tone in the chord, so maybe it's a sus chord? Arg, but the piano sounds like it's playing a G triad on beats 2 and 4. So perhaps G7sus2?

Also, I'm trying to get better about identifying iv vs iib5. On the Fm/Ab, the vocals end on a D, and I'm wondering if there's enough of a D in the chord to make it a Dm7b5?

From: Dan

To: Ian, Jeff

@Jeff, re: whether the G in the chorus is really a G, or a GsusSomething, or an F/G.

You ask an awesome question, that reveals my total bias a guitar/bass player. I think I subconsciously hear horns the way I hear vocals, as detached from the chords, and don't really listen carefully to horns when assigning chords. To some extent that's reasonable, since I'm usually writing down chords for myself to play on guitar. But mostly it's just me not really knowing what horns are. Or, really, any instrument the Beatles didn't play, I don't hear and can't identify. For example, WTF is the instrument that isn't piano, bass, guitar, or drums in the theme from The Office?

But anyway, I think on further review I'd agree with G7sus2 (which is really G9, although for some reason G7sus2 feels better here). I still can't really process the horns, but the (vocal) melody is mostly centered on F in the chorus, so it was lazy of me to pretend there's no F when I wrote down the chords. All in all this brings up the fascinating discussion (for another thread) of whether different instrumentalists would write down different chords for the same song.

From: Ian

To: Dan, Jeff

@Jeff, re: whether the Fm/Ab is a iv or a iib5.

My trick for chord naming, learned from Dan, is to listen to the bass. If I hear a chord with D, F, Ab, and C, my naming is dependent on the bass note:

D → Dm7b5

F → Fm6

(The Ab and C would be much weirder to hear in the bass -- I'd probably use the slash notation.)

4 thoughts on “Build Me Up

  1. dmorris Post author

    Hah, ironic that although I droned on for a bit about how I couldn’t hear the horns and don’t adjust the way I perceive chords based horns, etc., one of the first things I say in the thread was ” if you really want to get caught up in all the times F appears in the horns and melody, you could argue for an E7b9, especially in the instrumental intro.”.

    Reply
  2. Ian

    I also love major III chords in a major key. It’s not _that_ uncommon, but most of the other songs I can think of where it appears are not quite as major-sounding as this one (i.e. there’s usually a vi chord somewhere near the III). Here are some:

    Creep (this one has no vi but still sounds, well, creepy): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFkzRNyygfk
    Don’t Look Back in Anger: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8OipmKFDeM
    Hook: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdz5kCaCRFM

    Reply
  3. Sendy

    So that was a Truck Driver’s Gear Change right at the end? They’re quite common as a “thing to do before the fadeout” though at six seconds it’s probably one of the more shortlived ones 🙂

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Key Changes Faster Than You Can Say “Diatonic” | The Doctor (of Rock)

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