Keeping Warm
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Tommy James and the Shondells - "Crimson and Clover"

You've probably heard it before, but it's worth another listen.

Tommy James and the Shondells were mostly a schlocky bubblegum-pop band, but their one foray into the then popular world of psych proved most fruitful. Just as James and his Shondells had brought the mindlessness of pop to new levels with the meaningless "Mony Mony," in "Crimson and Clover" they leave no crevice or nook of song untouched by the wavy, multicoloured hand of psych. The incredible drama achieved by the major chord progression, click and jangle percussion, backup "ah's" and the proto-emo avowal vocals, makes this the perfect psych-pop track for the dance you're planning (save a spot on your dance card for me, please. I like the slow ones).

As the song unfolds, each instrument becomes increasingly drenched by tremolo, until it becomes almost unbearably shaky (just give us one whole signal). Then, just when we think it's too much, that it can't get any heavier, when all the tremolo solos have played out over their tremolo backgrounds, at 4:22 the tremolo cuts out, leaving us a crisp two-note guitar riff and then (oh, there it is) deeply tremolo affected vocals, repeating what is perhaps one of the most inane refrains in the history of song: "Crimson and clover, over and over." The song builds itself back up around James, the two notes repeat faster and faster, a wave of tom drums propel forward.

Even the notoriously picky Hubert Humphrey endorsed this song. And perhaps if he had chosen it as his 1968 presidential campaign running-mate instead of that dreadful bore, Edmund Muskie, Nixon would never have been President and we would be living in a very different world right now. A world with an America that used to have "Crimson and Clover" as its Vice President. A better world.


Mirah - "Murphy Bed"

Alternating between deep warm tremolo ascending arpeggios and shimmering treble strums, Mirah monologues to her boyfriend or girlfriend (let's call him/her The Corporal) about the merits of an open-relationship. She hopes that The Corporal's getting some action while The Corporal's out on the road. She wonders whether or not she should tell The Corporal about what she's been up to. She explains that when The Corporal comes home, The Corporal can tie her to the bed ("let's do all the things you said").

Being a man of the cloth, all this means to me is sin. However, I fully embrace this song on the basis of its brief and dense wall-of-noise crackling coda.

Posted by Jordan at December 11, 2004 5:49 AM

There was a time in the sixties when songs were getting longer and many singles had a "long version." "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vita" and "Light My Fire" are the canonical examples. FM radio was starting to define itself as distinct from AM radio by playing the long versions. And one could advertise one's cogniscenti status by listening to the long version. I suppose EPs came to play something of the same role, as against LPs/CDs in the eighties. It all seems kind of quaint now.

The thing about the long versions was that a pop song had a certain kind of narrative. There's a kind of transformation after the bridge--when you hear the chorus again, but it's changed somehow, it's like an epiphany, right? So the long versions had to figure out how to tell a story in a different format. They might go through a dark-night-of-the-soul episode or build up to some sort of ecstatic climax, but there was always something. Except "Crimson and Clover"--the long version of C&C was just episodes kind of mashed together, wavering in and out. There's *less* drama than the original--it just floats along, like proto-dub. Oh, here's a thing; oh, here's another thing; oh, now it's the first thing some more... It feels like it could go on indefinitely, like that other sixties icon, the lava lamp. Great song.

Posted by rodii at December 11, 2004 12:15 PM

One of the all time greats, C&C is. I used to DJ (mostly hip hop) and I always used to close the night with this song. Based on the reactions to it, we're not alone in our love for this tune.

Great writeup of a great track. Well done.

Posted by marc at December 11, 2004 1:12 PM

A friend of mine in San Francisco sent me a Mirah CD along with Joanna Newsome some time ago. I?m afraid in my single-mindedness I cast poor Mirah aside to languish unlistened to. Hearing this lovely pick will make me give her another shot. Then again, in my defense it wasn?t really fair of Miss D?-- to pit those two against each other. Mirah didn?t even have chance.

And who doesn?t turn up the car stereo when Crimson & Clover comes over the radio? It?s unimpeachable.

Good post, Jordan.

Posted by tom thumb at December 11, 2004 5:51 PM

Great songs. And for what it's worth, I prefer Mirah to Joanna Newsom by a very large margin.

Posted by Brian Nicholson at December 12, 2004 12:08 AM

Also, on the lack of ID3 tags: The Mirah song's off of You Think It's Like This, But Really It's Like This. Crimson And Clover is from the album Crimson And Clover.

Posted by Brian Nicholson at December 12, 2004 12:14 AM

some great posts here!
keep up the good work!

Posted by mordi at December 12, 2004 8:18 AM

I guess that's the song Elliot Smith was refering to in Baby Britain ?

"the light was on but it was dim
revolver's been turned over
and now it's ready once again
the radio was playing "Crimson And Clover"
London Bridge is safe and sound
no matter what you keep repeating
nothing's gonna drag me down
to a death that's not worth cheating"

Right ?

Posted by Garrincha at December 13, 2004 6:41 AM

There is a few seconds, when that guitar is kicked into high gear and it sounds very, very similar to "How Soon is Now?" I've never noticed before.

Posted by David at December 13, 2004 3:15 PM

Thank you for posting the long version of this track. I disagree with the "episodes" person above: the middle section presents three very different guitar solos: first, a pedal steel (or something like it) playing a pretty straight little lick, then a wah-wah guitar soloing rather more agitatedly, and finally a distorted, snarling little number which (in contrast with its tone) plays in a very regulated little manner (with wah-wah in countepoint)...until at 3:47, it erupts in a little frenzy of notes, as if forgetting itself, before returning briefly to its settled state, and then there's the big build-up you mention. One other thing: Rhino "fixed" this on the reissue I have - but when I first heard this song as a kid, the guitar solo section was a little flat in pitch relative to the rest of the song - which meant that when that two-note riff you mention comes back, not only was it modulated upward a half-step as intended, it was in a whole different pitch-ballpark entirely. It just about lifted you out of your chair is what it did. The way Rhino should have fixed it was to fix the flattening at the entry of the guitar solo (the steel), but leave the microtone rise afterwards - in other words, raise the pitch of the ending part just a hair.

Posted by 2fs at December 13, 2004 3:56 PM

Interesting. I'll have to try to hear it that way. Having grown up with the "short" version, I always felt the long version sounded "wrong," too structureless and lacking the drama of the short version. Eventually I heard it as *pleasantly* structureless, but it still sounds to me like the three guitar episodes were just dropped in from nowhere.

--the "episodes" person

Posted by rodii at December 13, 2004 6:59 PM

The whole Crimson & Clover album is really great. "Crystal Blue Persuasion"? "I Am a Tangerine"? Classics. I wholeheartedly recommend the whole thing.

Posted by terrified at December 14, 2004 3:53 PM

Tommy James and the Shondells had a ton of great songs. Also on the psych-pop tip is "Mirage" whose chord progression was supposedly inspired when TJ accidentally played the tape of "I Think We're Alone Now" backwards. "Hanky Panky" -- their first hit -- is a great garage rocker. There's a bunch of great stuff.

Posted by Jake at December 14, 2004 5:27 PM

The story of "Hanky Panky" is amazing, too--recorded in 1963, released locally, does nothing; then three years later, long after the Shondells have broken up, suddenly it becomes a fluky hit in 1966 in Pittsburgh; James flies to Pgh, puts together a local pickup band, calls them the Shondells and rockets to fame.

(2fs--nice site.)
with some hot green tea.
Its healthy, soothing and tasty!

Posted by rodii at December 14, 2004 8:19 PM

Post a comment

(Please be patient, it can be slow.)
about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

To hear a song in your browser, click the and it will begin playing. All songs are also available to download: just right-click the link and choose 'Save as...'

All songs are removed within a few weeks of posting.

Said the Gramophone launched in March 2003, and added songs in November of that year. It was one of the world's first mp3blogs.

If you would like to say hello, find out our mailing addresses or invite us to shows, please get in touch:
Montreal, Canada: Sean
Toronto, Canada: Emma
Montreal, Canada: Jeff
Montreal, Canada: Mitz

Please don't send us emails with tons of huge attachments; if emailing a bunch of mp3s etc, send us a link to download them. We are not interested in streaming widgets like soundcloud: Said the Gramophone posts are always accompanied by MP3s.

If you are the copyright holder of any song posted here, please contact us if you would like the song taken down early. Please do not direct link to any of these tracks. Please love and wonder.

"And I shall watch the ferry-boats / and they'll get high on a bluer ocean / against tomorrow's sky / and I will never grow so old again."
about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

Site design and header typography by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet. The header graphic is randomized: this one is by Neale McDavitt-Van Fleet.
Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
our patrons
Said the Gramophone does not take advertising. We are supported by the incredible generosity of our readers. These were our donors in 2013.
watch StG's wonderful video contest winners

our favourite blogs
(◊ means they write about music)

Back to the World
La Blogothèque
Weird Canada
Destination: Out
Endless Banquet
A Grammar (Nitsuh Abebe)
Ill Doctrine
A London Salmagundi
Words and Music
Petites planétes
Gorilla vs Bear
Silent Shout
Clouds of Evil
The Dolby Apposition
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Matana Roberts
Pitchfork Reviews Reviews
i like you [podcast]
Nicola Meighan
radiolab [podcast]
CKUT Music
plethoric pundrigrions
Wattled Smoky Honeyeater
The Clear-Minded Creative
Torture Garden
Passion of the Weiss
Juan and Only
Horses Think
White Hotel
Then Play Long (Marcello Carlin)
Uno Moralez
Coming Up For Air (Matt Forsythe)
my love for you is a stampede of horses
It's Nice That
Song, by Toad
In Focus
WTF [podcast]
The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)
My Daguerreotype Boyfriend
The Hood Internet

things we like in Montreal
st-viateur bagel
café olimpico
Euro-Deli Batory
le pick up
kem coba
le couteau
au pied de cochon
mamie clafoutis
tourtière australienne
chez boris
alati caserta
vices & versa
+ paltoquet, cocoa locale, idée fixe, patati patata, the sparrow, pho tay ho, qin hua dumplings, caffé italia, hung phat banh mi, caffé san simeon, meu-meu, pho lien, romodos, patisserie guillaume, patisserie rhubarbe, kazu, lallouz, maison du nord, cuisine szechuan &c

drawn + quarterly
+ bottines &c

casa + sala + the hotel
blue skies turn black
montreal improv theatre
passovah productions
le cagibi
cinema du parc
pop pmontreal
yoga teacher Thea Metcalfe

Cult Montreal
The Believer
The Morning News
The Skinny