Song 180: Boston, “More Than a Feeling” (1976)

[96]++A

This is another song that, at this point, sounds like the radio. It’s hard to hear it as a song, even as something you would choose to listen to. It’s just there, fully formed, a pop-rock masterpiece that you always knew and can’t remember not knowing.

It took Tom Scholz five years to record “More Than a Feeling” in his Watertown basement. At first you think, “What?! That’s insane!” but then you hear the song again, you notice all the damn layers to the thing, and you realize, yeah, that sounds about right. It sounds like the work of a mad genius, which Scholz apparently was–he was an electronics whiz who worked at Polaroid, and he tinkered on demos at night. He asked his friend Brad Delp to lend some vocals to the project, and then he submitted six demos to everybody he could think of, and they were all rejected. CBS Records finally relented, and Scholz was off. Now he just needed to put together a band.

I love that story, and I love that all of Scholz’s hard work is totally evident in the finished product. Guitars are everywhere, flying in and out of range, crunching, shimmering, soaring. It’s one big shiny pop song, but there’s nothing messy about it.

The Wikipedia page on “More Than a Feeling” is great, because it contains some interpretations of the song’s lyrics, from a “Walk Away Renée” reference to thoughts on unrequited love. And Scholz’s explanation? He says the song is about “the thrill one gets while driving fast cars.”

The man put six years of his life into recording a song that sounds amazing while driving. For that alone, we owe him our gratitude.

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