12 Great Rock Songs That Change Dramatically Mid-Song

Written by on August 11, 2017

Every couple months, my KPSU radio show Six Degrees of Rockination has a theme. In April 2016, the theme was “Songs Within Songs.” A full hour of songs that at some point change tempo or rhythm or melody or all of the above. What songs did I play?

The Raconteurs – “Consolers of the Lonely”

In an interview, Jack White said the band had two half-completed songs they weren’t sure what to do with, so they slammed them together and this is the result. The melody changes are obvious and wonderful. Also, I want to marry the drumming in this song.

Blue Murder – “Jelly Roll”

Huge difference between the first and second parts of this song. The first is a rollicking bluesy number, while the second is all soaring passion and emotion.

Ezra Furman – “Slacker-Adria”

I believe this is our first rhythm change. Halfway through, the time signature switches from 4/4 to 3/3.

Cake – “Italian Leather Sofa”

This goes into some very odd, borderline-bizarre directions with tempo and melody and lyric, but despite all the oddness, it works. Cake isn’t afraid to throw some oddities at you. For weirdness, I’d also recommend their song “Mr. Mastadon Farm.”

David Crowder Band – “Intoxicating”

This song has some world class la dee da’s. Did you know I did a theme show dedicated to just that? A full hour of la dee da’s. Here’s the link.

Toadies – “Hell Below/Stars Above”

The Toadies are always really good at bringing the loud, angry, noisy rock, but in the second half of this song, it kind of goes into a vaguely gospel direction. That’s what it feels like to me, at least. Maybe it’s the background singers.

Le Butcherettes – “Henry Don’t Got Love”

This song fascinates me. It’s so weird and changes so dramatically, yet as a whole, it completely works. I also like that the band is from Guadalajara, Mexico, and that they wear blood-stained aprons in concert. Wonderfully weird and weirdly wonderful.

They Might Be Giants – “Fingertips”

This one might be breaking the rules, because I’m not sure if it’s one song or 21 very, very short songs. Either way, it’s complete genius. If you don’t know TMBG, you should get to know them.

The Smithereens – “White Castle Blues”

This is so fun. It starts as a solid rock ‘n’ roll song, then at the halfway mark, turns into a Bo Diddley song. Also, it features the line “I think I’ll get some crisp onion rings, to complement 10 of those little square things.” Poetry.

Weezer – “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived”

Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo said in a radio interview that this is his favorite Weezer song, which is understandable. It has 11 sections with 11 different styles, including rap, choral, grunge, punk, classical, and more. It’s truly a masterpiece.

Tenacious D – “Rize of the Fenix”

I don’t think Tenacious D gets the credit they deserve. Yes, I know they’re silly and funny and like to make fun of themselves, but that doesn’t change the fact that they write great rock songs. Imagine this song with no comedy. It would still be an incredible song. Respect the D.

Jack White – “Take Me With You When You Go”

Jack White started the show and now he’s closing it. Half piano-centered, half guitar-centered, this song takes an extremely rockin’ left turn midway through. Also present? A fiddle, a pedal steel, and a wonderful female backup singer.

Want to hear the entire radio show? Here’s the link. A solid hour of fantastic rock ‘n’ roll featuring songs within songs.

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