I’m just going to come right out and say this: I trust Wikipedia. Not for everything of course but for simple fact-checking like, for example, when you need to know the surface temperature of the sun or whether baboons are a highly dimorphic species, as you sometimes need to know. The reason I bring this up is that I was trying to find the term used by percussionists to refer to the action of tapping a drumstick against the rim of the snare, because that’s sound at the heart of today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl. My friend, and frequent Way Back Studio co-conspirator, D. Victor Hawkins, said it’s called a rim shot. But I’ve always thought a rim shot was the drum and cymbal sting played to accentuate the punch line to a joke, and usually a bad one. So I looked it up. According to Wikipedia, there are three types of rim shots. The most common is the normal rimshot, played with the tip of the stick about three inches from the rim. The second is called a “ping shot,” where the tip is closer to the rim and produces a higher pitched sound. The third, called a “gock,” is produced by putting the tip of the stick at the center of the drum, the rim making contact closer to the hand than in a ping or normal rimshot.
The Wikipedia entry also warns that the rimshot should not be confused with the cross stick technique, in which the tip of the drumstick is placed on the head near one of the bearing edges, and the shaft of the stick is struck against the rim opposite the tip, creating a dry, high pitched “click”: this is called a rim knock. All of which just goes to show that too much information’s no better than too little. Because even after all that, I don’t know if the starting point of today’s set is a rim knock, a ping shot, a gock, or a normal rim shot. Listen to the first three songs and drop me an email if you can correctly identify what’s what. After that, things devolve into wood blocks and cowbells but they keep the mood going. So now, with or without you and with every breath you take, remember: time waits for no one, someday never comes, and here’s the boss.
|Bruce Springsteen||I’m on Fire|
|Creedence Clearwater Revival||Someday Never Comes|
|Rolling Stones||Time Waits for No One|
|The Chambers Brothers||Time Has Come Today|
|U2||With or Without You|
|The Police||Every Breath You Take|
The idea for that set came when I was listening to one of my all-time favorite Creedence songs, “Someday Never Comes.” The song fades in and out with Doug Clifford tapping his drumstick against the rim of his snare. It sounds like a train clacking down the tracks which makes it the perfect song to come out of Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” which ends with Bruce howling like a train whistle over the tap, tap, tap of Max Weinberg knocking on his rim in the same way that percussionist Ray Cooper uses the technique to invoke the tick tock of a clock in the open and close of the Stones’s “Time Waits for No One.” In addition to that percussive technique, the songs also share a mood and a sense of coming to an understanding of something that had previously escaped comprehension. Something you just didn’t get until now. But that new understanding doesn’t bring a eureka moment of the ‘ah ha’ variety so much as an understated, almost disappointed, ohhh, now I get it. Someday never comes. Time waits for no one.
After that, the Chamber’s Brothers classic, “Time Has Come Today” substituting a cowbell for the rim knock but with a message that matched: ‘I’ve been loved and put aside, been crushed by the tumbling tide.’ The last two tracks in that set didn’t share the exact same percussive element as the first four but they sustained the mood. Like a man realizing he can’t live with or without her or who recognizes that he’s been lost without a trace since she left. And what’s worse, these things almost seemed inevitable. Like the passing of time, or every breath you take or the next batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl. From the Way Back Studios, I’m your host, Bill Fitzhugh. Thanks for listening. By the way if you‘d like to see our set lists or the show commentaries, just give me a Google and drop by Bill Fitzhugh.com. If you’ve got comments or suggestions you can also send me email from the site. I’d love to hear from you. I’ll be back sooner or later with a fresh batch, and I hope you can join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.