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nobodyinparticular

"It Ain't Nothin' To Me" - weird experimental track, or brilliant parody?

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While completely sucking at playing through Southern Accents in Audiosurf, it struck me just how bizarre "It Ain't Nothin' To Me" was. So I dug into my notes, and came up surprisingly scant. It hadn't been mentioned in Conversations with Tom Petty (not even in passing!), and the only thing I could find on the Archives that wasn't from an album review was this interview:

"It Ain't Nothin' To Me," a humorously cynical tune containing the self-deprecating line, "We got smilin' politicians/Got songs from rich musicians/It ain't nothin' to me," came to light one day in Petty's bedroom. Again, there are horns, rousing chorus, and Stewart not only on guitar but tackling bass and vocals as well.

"These mishmashes or hybrids of influences is something I've always been interested in," says Stewart, referring to the seemingly odd coupling of himself, Petty, and the exotic array of instruments on the trio of co-written tracks. "Because I think the world is like that now, all mixed up. But Tom and I found it really, really easy to write together. We didn't even have to think about it."

So, let's take a look at the track again. Taking it from face-value, it looks like a catchy dance track. Something rather confusing...until I took a closer look at the lyrics. They're cynical. Quite cynical. And the more I pay attention to the lyrics, the more I get the impression that this track wasn't just yet another weird experimental track, but actually a parody.

I just thought I'd post out my dumb little thoughts here. Sorry.

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I wouldn't say it's entirely a parody, but it is in the sense that you've got this quasi-disco/funk song with cynical lyrics, so it's a subversion of what you would expect not only from the song, but also the band.  And that's why I like it because it is experimental in that way.  But also I like the "list" structure of the lyrics, I've always liked that kind of trope - just like with "Jammin' Me."

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Yeah, interesting one, that. Been up for debate before, but I'm not sure exactly when or where. Let's just say I know at least one Farmer who may dive right in here, any day now, as if this thread was gold and every word candy. He's a Farmer in love (but it's not me), to paraphrase.

And it really isn't me! I don't understand this song. That is, I understand it, but not in the context of TPATH. Further more, I don't like it. I'm not sure about that word "experimental", though, to me that seem to implicate other, braver and more substantially extensive connotations. I don't know. To me IANTM is actually very generic and bland, in it's own way, in it's own universe (wherever that may be at). And that is even part of the problem. Different is good sometimes, experimental is interesting. But the only thing that makes this song experimental to me, is how bad it fits the band. The song is just a very different and very out of character type of music. To me it's strange how IANTM (and other stuff Dave Stewart co-wrote or influenced) found its way onto SA, in the light of what we know about Tom's original ideas about the concept, and what we know about some of the songs that were left out. This is rather horrible music to me.

No, I don't find it good at all, but I do find it a bit amusing and interesting. And what is REALLY interesting about it - cept for being interesting in a freak kind of way - is the lyrics of course. That's where it's at. (@chimera) Good call about Jammin Me! How true, how poignant. Those are very similar in approach and structure. With JM, though.. enters Bob. Which bring me to the certain type of tounge-in-cheek satire type undertone, the joyful, lighthearted-yet-thoughtful qualities of some of his stuff and... on to.. The Travling Wilburys. (If you want to call any of that parody, be my guest. I wouldn't know parody myself, if they melted some in the microwave and poured it all over me.)

I guess, what I try to say here is that IANTM and JM is both semi-similar in approach and despite very different music mindset, they both lyrically could've been Traveling Wilburys songs, as I hear them. It's that certain type of structure and.. shall we say.. social commentary meets good fun (is that parody? satire?) What's interesting is that Tom didn't come up with any of those songs by himself, either. He wasn't in an isolated song writing environment with the lyrics either, seemingly. Now I know Dave was not in the Wilburys (although at times he probably could pass for Jeff, in the eyes of infidels. I mean, he could disquise himself, if needed..), but as a transitional progession perspective, from 85 to 88 or thereabout, perhaps there is a certain side of Tom's unmistakingly personal dry wit and humor that was pulled in certain directions from these specific collaborations and IANTM is merely an early example of an "dimension" what was again revisited with JM and then flourished in more general terms in the atmosphere of TW and Vol. 3. The main difference, of course, is that the undertone of IANTM (and even JM, to some extent) is rather dark and depressive (at least to me), it's the type of "heavy" that the Wilburys didn't do too much of, really. But still.. to me there seem to be some connection here. It's more of a hunch than a thesis though, mind you. So, now, where does this leave us? I have no idea! Where's the door? Help!

(Besides, what do I know about parody, anyway? To me today's White House seem like a shockingly accurate parody of 1800s worldviews, despotic ignorance and egotistical childish tantrums, still there seem to be half a country out there who seem to think it's the real deal and all for the better. So, I guess.. I never can tell when something is a joke, a dark trip or just everyday life on planet earth. Ask someone else. Thank you.)

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I used not to like this song much but changed my mind a few months back!  It's fun & bouncy.  There's that beautiful moment when the music lifts with "when I dance I can go right with you."   I'm glad there are so damn many songs / music that they created over the years.  Part of what makes TPATH so awesome.    

  • With  collaborations & duets it's kinda tempting to blame the other person (i.e. Dave Stewart) if I don't like the song & praise the band if I do like the song.  ;) 

I'm so glad they went on to work with (and then sometimes write with) Bob Dylan and then TP with the Wilburys.  It just plain nuts that so much happened in such a short period of time.  Otherwise the question of "compare and contrast Dave Stewart, Bob Dylan & George Harrison as song-writers" might never come up!!!

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Don't like the song.  Don't like "Mary's New Car."  Don't like "Spike."  Really don't like "Make It Better" (can't believe they made it a single).  

Love the rest of the album.

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On December 3, 2018 at 5:29 PM, Big Blue Sky said:

I used not to like this song much but changed my mind a few months back!  It's fun & bouncy.  There's that beautiful moment when the music lifts with "when I dance I can go right with you." 

 That's a good moment, I like how those two parts of the song work in tandem. It's not really like anything else they've done, same with DCAHNM and Money Becomes King. 

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2 hours ago, martin03345 said:

Not a fan either. But I tolerate it live on Pack Up just because the opening guitar riff is good 

I'm glad there's a good quality sounding live version out there to be enjoyed and I wonder how the song would've worked without horns and with Steve drumming. He comes from a funky background, could've been neat having him put some of that energy into it. Good song for a residency. Oh well.

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On November 7, 2018 at 10:49 AM, Shelter said:

Let's just say I know at least one Farmer who may dive right in here, any day now, as if this thread was gold and every word candy.

True enough.

On November 7, 2018 at 10:49 AM, Shelter said:

He's a Farmer in love (but it's not me), to paraphrase.

And for that we're all grateful and the 'Farm, perhaps even the world lets out a sigh of relief.

 

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On November 6, 2018 at 6:18 PM, nobodyinparticular said:

So, let's take a look at the track again. Taking it from face-value, it looks like a catchy dance track. Something rather confusing...until I took a closer look at the lyrics. They're cynical. Quite cynical. And the more I pay attention to the lyrics, the more I get the impression that this track wasn't just yet another weird experimental track, but actually a parody.

I just thought I'd post out my dumb little thoughts here. Sorry.

Hey! No need to apologize. 

As for the track, I take it at face value. I would say the lyrics are cynical about the world but intensely passionate about the woman he's singing about or to. That's what makes the song, well, besides the catchy and funky disco like playing...! That this guy can be so I don't give a fuck about the world but does feel all this genuine emotion towards her, the sentiment matching the music, it soars when it hits that part, "...I can go right with you..." It's a very sweet moment. 

I think it is experimental and cynical and sincere and quite unlike anything else they've done. You can dance to it and enjoy the live version where they extend it just a bit. Those guitars snap!

cheers

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3 minutes ago, martin03345 said:

And got a terrible 80s dance remix as well lol.

That sounds familiar but I don't quite recall if I've heard it.

I used to like Make It Better then I forgot all about it and most of Southern Accents for years. Now I don't know how I feel about it. I think the last time I tried listening to a live version I just lost interest. It seems like a song that needed to be more like You Wreck Me in excecution than what they did. I do recall seeing some weird music video where the band and women from the DCAHNM video are dancing inside Tom's eye? Or ear? The high point was seeing the women singers again, very easy on the eyes.

cheers

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Close .... it's Tom & the band & horn section & the singers inside the head of the actress who played Alice in DCAHNM. In and out via her ear. 

  • Watch for the look of glee on Tom's face whenever  the microphone pops back up into his hand.  (1:30 & 3:00 mins)
  • Also notice Tom's asymmetrical sunglasses.

You're welcome. 👽

 

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24 minutes ago, Big Blue Sky said:

You're welcome

 That could be one of the worst things the band was ever involved in. I thought the three women singers from DCAHNM were in this but nope. What is it about this song that it falls flat? It sounds like a classic Heartbreakers song, all the ingredients are there but it feels lifeless. And long.

"Alice" was a cutie. I don't blame her for jabbing a q-tip in there to make that awfulness stop...guitars dropping down on wires like bats from a cheesy horror movie, Stan's moving drums...and the horn players... oh no. Make it stop. Their dancing or co-ordinated jerky motions, no no.

Heck Alice should've had a otolaryngologist vacuum out the whole mess!

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On 12/6/2018 at 5:13 AM, nobodyinparticular said:

When I first heard the weird dance version of Make It Better, I thought it sounded like someone's record player skipping.

I was out at a record store this past weekend and came across a 12" single by Tom for Make it Better.... it was only $5 so I didnt think twice... or notice it was the Dance Mix.... it wasn't completely awful until I thought the song was over around 4 min and then 'started again'... for those of you that have not had the "pleasure" here it is from someones youtube... 

 

 

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^ Haven't heard that one in ages, let alone having my own vinyl out of the bag.. Must say.. it manages to underwhelm some very meager expectations. Shockingly bad work done to a not very great track. I mean I didn't even remember.. what the h#&¥ happens around 3.59?? Someone dropped their gin n tonic on the tape recorder? They cut this mix with some very dull scissors, being in a very dull mood.. Either way.. those "guitar cases" that lurk the front cover lawn, is by far the main perk with this beast.

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