Song of the Week Revisited – Live, The Merry-Go-Round & Somebody Made for Me, Emitt Rhodes

I just learned that Emitt Rhodes died on July 19th. I’ve always enjoyed his music and featured him in SotW posts on March 26, 2016, and July 16, 2011. The 2011 essay is posted below.

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

Back in 1970, two fine artists were recording pop masterpieces in their home studios.  In both cases the musician played all of the instruments himself, beginning a trend that others would soon attempt (e.g. Something/Anything by Todd Rundgren).  One was the solo debut by the famous ex-Beatle Paul McCartney that all of you have heard.  The other, by Emitt Rhodes, (sadly) languished in relative obscurity.

Rhodes had his first shot at fame when his band The Merry-Go-Round had a modest hit in 1967 with the song “Live.”  It only reached #63 nationally but made a bigger impression in So Cal.  That probably explains why most of us are more familiar with the song as covered by the LA based band, The Bangles, on their first album.

When The Merry-Go-Round failed to capitalize on their first break, Rhodes decided to retreat to his parents’ garage and pull the one man band trick.  The result is a fully realized production, not just a set of well recorded demos.  Here’s how the album is described in the book The MOJO Collection (The Greatest Albums of All Time):

“Rhodes took classic Beatles motifs and made them his own: Abbey Road guitar, McCartney upper register bass lines, and the familiar call and response harmonies of “Hello Goodbye”.”

So in addition to the previously mentioned “Live”, the other SotW is “Somebody Made for Me”, from Emitt Rhodes – the album MOJO calls “The best LP Paul McCartney never made.”

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Dog on a Chain, Emitt Rhodes


I’ve always been an Emitt Rhodes fan. I liked his early work with the Merry-Go-Round and his classic early 70s power pop solo records. In fact, I featured both in a SotW on July 16th, 2011. So I was very excited a few months ago when I read in Mojo that he would be releasing his first full length album since 1973. But I wondered if it would be even slightly possible that he could make an album up to his prior standards after all these years.

Well it’s out now and the answer is a resounding YES!

He can still sing, he can still craft a catchy melody and his lyrics reflect the maturity you would expect from a guy that’s had 43 years to sort out song ideas he’s kept stuffed in envelopes all this time. But what impresses me most is how much feeling these songs convey.

Rhodes, who was famous for playing all the instruments on his 70s solo albums is no one man band this time around. He’s enlisted the help of some younger power pop artists — Roger Joseph Manning Jr. & Jason Falkner of Jellyfish (refer back to SotW on May 23rd, 2015), Aimee Mann (‘Til Tuesday), Susanna Hoffs (whose Bangles recorded the Merry-Go Round’s “Live”), Taylor Locke (Rooney) and drummer Joe Seiders (New Pornographers). This was clearly a labor of love for all involved.

Today’s SotW is the album opener, “Dog on a Chain.”

It starts out like a folk song – just guitar and vocals. After the first verse and chorus the full band joins in and the song gets a lift. Aimee Mann provides a vocal harmony and Jon Brion, who was in ‘Til Tuesday’s touring band and played on Jellyfish’s Spilt Milk, adds additional harmony and a nice guitar solo. . (This is a very incestuous group of musicians, isn’t it?)

The lyrics tells the familiar story of a man who has sacrificed his own desires to please his woman only to find she no longer loves the man she molded him into and wants a divorce. With his tail between his legs he says:

I was led along like a dog on a chain
Out in the cold, out in the rain
I was led along like a dog on a leash
I did as told while she did as she pleased


She berates me
Calls me crazy
Certifiably insane
Once she praised me
Now she hates me
I can’t see how I have changed

The entire album is available on Spotify. Go check it out.

Enjoy… until next week.