Following the release of their dynamic track Treading Water, the electro-pop twosome Eli Dan have given us the six songs that changed their lives, musically. In their own words, Elisha Apurado and Danny Hacket detail some of those golden moments in life when the seeds of creativity are planted.
From the Bee Gees to Janet Jackson, Eli Dan run through some of their most influential and metaphoric moments with their favourite pop songs.
When you talk about songs that have changed people’s lives, there’s generally a whole roster of MVP’s that would be considered blasphemy if left off the list. I’m talking about artists from the likes of Madonna, Queen and Michael Jackson. Legends, right? Funnily enough, my list of life-changing songs has some real hum-dingers and some dark horses. Some of the songs I will mention below will more than likely not mean anything to most readers but in some way, have musically changed my life. If anything, it’s more so a reflection of me and why I write and produce the kind of songs that I write today. So here we go, 6 songs that have changed my life, musically.
Bee Gees – I Started A Joke
Growing up, my Dad was a huge fan of rock/folk/pop of the 60’s. He loved The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Cat Stevens, Bread, Bee Gees and so on. Hence, why, ‘I Started a Joke’ was one of the first songs that I learned to play on the guitar. My Dad taught me how to play the riff in the verses and I remember just endlessly practicing it, thinking I was so accomplished once I was able to play it. We always had musical instruments around the house and I remember learning on this old, dodgy guitar that my parents, no doubt, would have bought from a garage sale. I think the B-string was missing but I only needed the first 4 strings to play the riff so I was set.
Justin Timberlake – Like I Love You
I’d never heard of The Neptunes or Pharrell Williams before I listened to Justin Timberlake’s Justified album but boy am I glad that I did. I’d have to say that after listening to The Neptunes, my eyes were really opened to the world of music production. I couldn’t get enough of what they were doing. In Like I Love You, one of the things that grabbed me most was the use of the acoustic guitar riff that was based solely around a B minor chord. I was just blown away at how simple the riff was but still, how much movement they were able to create by using stops and other dynamic changes. Brilliant! From there on in, I remember every time I tried to make a beat, I would think to myself, would Pharrell do this?
John Mayer – Daughters
John Mayer would probably be one of the main reasons why I started to appreciate the craft of songwriting and Daughters for me, was one of those songs that I fell in love with because of the craft behind it. Funnily enough, if you dissect the song, John Mayer is really just complaining about dating a girl who’d been pretty messed up by her past. But, what I loved most about it was the underlying message of how detrimental the consequences of our actions can be and how our words and behaviours can either build people or break them.
James Vincent McMorrow – We Don’t Eat
Lyrically, this has to be one of my favourite songs. It’s honest to the core, revelational and full of ahh-huh moments where you just think, that’s exactly how someone would feel in situations like that. The lines ‘We don’t eat until your fathers at the table, we don’t drink until the devils turn to dust’ are just brilliant. It juxtaposes triumph, loss, perseverance, aching all in one neat little epiphany of words and imagery. This song far from sums up the brilliance of James Vincent McMorrow as a songwriter but this is definitely one of the many gems amongst his artillery.
Mariah Carey and Brian McKnight – Whenever You Call
When I was 12, one day after school, my Dad surprised me with a singing lesson. As mentioned earlier, I was always surrounded by music, especially singing. My grandmother was a choral teacher and being from a Filipino family, karaoke was always a thing. But the concept of making music a career was never a thought that crossed my mind until I started singing lessons. Whenever You Call was the first song I ever performed live outside of a church setting. It was all so new to me. I remember being a ball of anxiety leading up to the concert. That being said, the nerves were probably justified because the song had some pretty killer notes in there. Looking back on it now, I never believed my family when they told me that I did an awesome job, but that being said, I still don’t believe them now.
Janet Jackson – I Get Lonely
Like I said, dark horses. I honestly think Janet Jackson doesn’t as much credit as she should as a performing artist. Growing up, my sister was really into dancing and Janet Jackson was one of her favourite performers. We owned a VHS copy of Janet Jackson’s Velvet Rope Tour and one of our school holiday past-times would be me watching the VHS whilst my sister emulated her dance moves in the lounge room. I remember first hearing ‘I Get Lonely’ and just falling in love the rich/thick chords, the gospel chord progressions and the luscious vocal harmonies. It made me fall in love with R&B music.
You can see Eli Dan live at the Kindred Studios in Yarraville, Victoria on Feb 8.