Pickup Battery Holder

(Lyrics | Chords)

The Story
This song is about losing my pickup battery holder. Don't let it happen to you. Replacing those silly pieces of plastic is hell.

One day, a few months ago, I was at the Oasis Open Stage. I'd just written "Masochist at Heart", and I'd been practising a lot. It's a pretty loud, aggressive song, so it's not surprising I broke a string. At any rate, my tuner's battery was flat, so I put my pickup battery in the tuner. But since these were brand-new strings, I knew I'd be re-tuning them before performing.

So I left the battery in the tuner. Didn't bother putting the battery holder in the guitar. Not smart.

The holder is this stupid-simple rectangular-ish piece of plastic. It probably costs one cent to manufacture. But without it, your whole pickup is useless.

You can guess where this is going. When I finally went to perform, the battery holder was missing. And a thorough search at the end of the night (with lights blazing, which is Just Wrong at a music venue) didn't turn it up.

Getting a replacement took three visits to Steve's, three or four phone calls, and about a month and a half of waiting.

Of course, pickups aren't mandatory. In fact, Kevin Quain discourages people from using them at his open stage, and he's right. Well, up to a point. Sure you can mike the guitar, and it usually sounds better, but then the guitarist is bound to the microphone. They can't move very much without affecting the volume. I like to move. It makes me feel more dynamic. I'm not the kind of guitar god people act like when they're playing air guitar, but I feel restricted by the mike.

If I'd known what it would cost, I'd have never let that battery holder out of my sight. And that's what the song's about.

The Song
This song was fun to write. It's a gimmick song, and the gimmick is that it sounds like it's addressed to a (former) lover, when it's actually addressed to a piece of plastic.

I'm in favour of working within limits. Most of my poems are iambic, and most of my poems and songs rhyme. The gimmick was limiting, because there are significant differences between leaving a piece of plastic on a table, and abandoning a lover. It was a challenge to make it all work, but a fun one.

But the limitations did prevent me from writing a third verse, because in my songwriting, the third verse is usually some kind of solution or conclusion. And since the conclusion was "I went to Steve's and they gave me a new one", it would make for a pretty strange song.

Continuing the analogy would mean asserting that one woman was pretty much the same as another, and could serve the same purpose just as well. And I didn't want to write or sing such a song.

The chords to this one are pretty special to me. Lately, folks have been challenging me for my songwriting habits. Using the fifth to resolve the chord progression, or writing everything in the keys of G, C and D, or repeating the same chord progression over and over. These are things I do too much, and I don't want to be tied to them forever.

So I've been fiddling with writing songs with as many chords as possible, but trying to avoid making it sound like it's got tons and tons of chords. Because there are so many great two- or three- chord songs. It's not inherently wrong to write simple songs. It is wrong to sacrifice the enjoyability of a song on the altar of some perceived "Right Way".

This is a song with a lot of chords, and the progression is different for every line. It doesn't always sound natural, but it generally works. It's a good stepping stone.

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Questions, comments or suggestions about this web site? Email me at aaron.bentley@utoronto.ca