Thursday, February 5, 2009

Joan Osborne, "One Of Us"

Song: "One Of Us"
Artist: Joan Osborne
Album: Relish
Written by: Eric Bazilian
Year: 1995
Key: F#m
Classification: SF1
Lyrical content: Hypothetical religiosity in the form of rhetorical questioning; Kevin Smith's Dogma five years early
Where used: Verse, chorus

I'm starting with this one because its relationship to the SFCP is a little complex. It certainly wasn't the first song to use the SFCP, not by a long shot. It's not even the song that made me realize that this chord progression was a common one; that honor goes to Sarah McLachlan's "Building A Mystery." (And even that's trumped by the dim realization when I was a teenager that Roxette, Starship and Heart -- twice! -- were all singing the same song.) But it's always seemed to me to be the nexus around which all SFCPs rotate, in kind of the same way that Greil Marcus viewed the Sex Pistols as the intersection of 20th Century postmodernism and dada/Situationalist philosophy. Everything that came before seems to have been leading up to it, and everything that came after has to contend with it.

What helps bolster the centrality of "One Of Us" is that the entire song is based around the SFCP. There's a prechorus (which is revisited at the start of the solo) that splits off from it, but otherwise, the song is the SFCP and nothing but. The vocal melody in the verse shows off part of the strength of the SCFP: Osborne only needs three notes -- a central tone, a whole step up and a half step down -- to cover the four chords as they shift underneath her. It's dead simple, and that up-and-down melody provides a bit of a glimpse as to the way the chords move smoothly from one to the other. Other songs might use it in more elaborate ways, but it's hard to spot a better example of why the SFCP is so versatile than this song right here.

Full song: Joan Osborne, "One Of Us"
Listen to the SFCP clip for this song

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