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Lana Gay On Beautiful Imperfections In Music
October 16, 2012
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Many thanks to our friend Lana Gay, the host of Lanarama on CBC Radio 3, for sharing her thoughts on the awesomeness of musical imperfection. She talked about her love for imperfect recordings on the latest Strombo Show. Check that episode out right here.

Lana, take it away:

Have you ever heard Razorlight's cover of Outkast's 'Hey Ya'? There are points when the back-up singers, who are clearly powerhouse vocalists, are a little apprehensive about coming in. The result is incredibly charming.

Due to the way modern music is recorded, you don't often hear mistakes or imperfections. The colourful additions (a bit of talking, a door slam) are for the most part calculated.

For example, Green Day's 'Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)' begins with a false start. Surely at that point in their career, a team of people decided that was a good idea to keep it in the track. It was no accident.


And judging by the Facebook group celebrating Noel Gallagher's cough at the beginning of 'Wonderwall', these little imperfections are added character and still appreciated.

Back when bands had to record live off the floor, some errors just made it onto albums. Many are not only beautiful imperfections, but they also showcase the true skill of the musicians who could cleverly improvise and recover.

In 1965 the Beach Boys released a cover of The Regent's 'Barbara Ann'. Though there are a few off beat claps and a little lyrical confusion (was it Betty Sue? Betty Lou? Or Mary Lou?) the result is an absolute pop gem - but you already knew that.


How quickly can you get over a laughing fit? After a missed cue in 'Bob Dylan's 115th Dream', the studio is filled with laughter. And within seconds they pick up again as if nothing happened.

There are many rumours that surround The Kingsmen's version of "Louie Louie." Those speculations range from subliminal messages in the music to blaming the singer's new braces for his muffled delivery. Another thing to notice: Jack Ely comes in early before the end of the instrumental break, stops, and then begins again.

In James Brown's 'Sex Machine', the piano solo is a bit of a glorious, improvised wreck. Before you crucify me for saying that, just note that I appreciate every damn minute of it. Anyone who is too focused on the technical surely needs more 'Sex Machine' in their life.


Want more from Lana? You can follow her on Twitter @LanaGay.


The Strombo Show: October 14


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