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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Gone Baby, Don't Be Long" - Erykah Badu Song Analysis

RJ asked for a song analysis of "Gone Baby, Don't Be Long" by the queen of Neo-Soul - Erykah Badu. This is a single from her fifth studio album entitled New Amerykah Part Two (Return Of The Ankh), which  rose to #4 on the Billboard 200 chart in 2010.

As always, we'll look at the song, the arrangement, the sound and the performance.

The Song
"Gone Baby, Don't Be Long" is a great example of a song that basically uses the same chord changes throughout the song, yet manages to create distinct sections based on the melody. The form looks like this:

Intro, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus

As you can see, the bridge happens twice in the song, although it's more a case of the vocal melody changing than any real form change of the backing track.

The Arrangement
Again, the backing track is pretty much the same throughout song, but some added vocals and ad libs do develop the verses and choruses. The arrangement elements look like this:

   * The Foundation - A sample from Paul McCartney and Wing's "Arrow Through Me" and an unbelievably funky synth bass. Here's the link to the original Wing's song.

   * The Pad - A very nice lush synth.

   * The Rhythm - This is interesting because it's a combination of a what sounds like a reggae-style guitar way back in the mix, a shaker and an interesting muted cowbell sample.

   * The Lead - Erykah's voice

   * The Fills - Mostly a very nice crunchy guitar and vocal ad libs during the chorus.

The Sound
This song is nicely layered, with the foundation sample pretty bare and in your face, Erykah with a double and short room reverb, a long lush reverb on the synth pad, and a nice delayed verb on the guitar fills. The bass has an abundance of low end and is not that distinct sounding, which helps cover up the bass that's on the sample.

The Performance
To me, a number of things jump out on this song. First of all the bass is the epitome of funk. It definitely makes the song as cool as it is. I also love the guitar fills; nice sound and very tasty playing. The lead vocal also shines, especially the ad libs, although she seems a tiny bit out of the pocket on the chorus sometimes, but that probably only bothers me and no one else.

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