This Nile Rodgers Obsession has to stop (good bit’s at the end)

by Greg

Always been a huge Rodgers fan, since I was a kid. I’d been harbouring a feeling for the past few years that music had forgotten how great he is but he’s back on top again with Daft Punk, recreating the Chic sound. For me the DNA for ‘Get Lucky’ is in this track.

compare it with

 

It’s incredible that he’s doing it again – taking over the world with his sound.

But my favorite Rodgers track on the album is ‘Lose Yourself To Dance’

Which I think is a more even balance between the French Dance maestros and the Disco King but Rodgers does lay in one of his trademark, proven disco warhead fissile tips for chart destruction and domination. Allow me to explain what I’m hearing and why it struck me. A few years back Joe Castellon was helping me finish of my first album and in the process showing me more about recording music that I had learnt in all the time up to then. When we finished up the mixes he sat me down and said, “Listen Greg, I think this is a good album that you’ve made here but before you take my opinion there’s something I have to tell you”. He then told me that he used to help with the string arrangments on Chic songs back in the day and that when Nile Rodgers came in with Freak Out he looked at Nile and said nobody is ever going to like that hook, it’s too late in the bar, on the ‘4 and’ and 1, it’ll never be a hit. (For non-music geeks, although if you’ve gotten this far there’s probably not many of you left, a bar of music in 4/4 time has 4 beats to each bar, 1,2,3,4 and all the music in the piece uses this as the foundation, it’s the heartbeat of the tune. In Le Freak the phrase ‘Freak Out’ happens in a strange place for pop music, bear with me here, if you highlight the beats between the main beats by counting it like this.. 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4.. etc you may notice that the word Freak lands on the ‘and’ after 4 and the word ‘Out’ lands on the 1. And then in the rest of the tune the strings do it.). So Joe was impressing upon me that he had managed to get it wrong on one of the biggest selling singles of all time and that I should be careful of his opinion of my work and it’s potential. Looks like he was right about being wrong. But as I was listening to ‘Lose Yourself to Dance’ I could hear the guitar singing ‘Freak Out’ in the same place, have a listen. It’s a more relaxed vibe but it’s there, that magical rhythmical hook is doing it’s same voodoo in this tune too.

I got to meet the great man once, on the plane from Dublin to New York. I had caught his storming show at the Electric Picnic which was a masterclass in everything you need to know about a live show. I was sitting waiting to board and I saw him heading towards the business class door, the hit-maker guitar strapped to his back. I lost it completely, managed to borrow a pen and a piece of paper off the woman sitting next to me, she thought I was having a breakdown, and rushed up to him to get his autograph. Very calmly he informed me that he had to get on the plane right now and that maybe I could say hello to him on board. Obviously from growing up in NY in the 70’s and 80’s he was well rehearsed in talking down approaching lunatics before they got out of hand. Crestfallen and in my place again I slunk back to my plastic seat, returned the pen and was thankful that I wasn’t obsessed enough to think about trying to get into business class to say hello to a major celebrity, because that’s what they let you do on planes right, just wander up and chat to the VIP’s, I mean that’s why they pay a couple of grand for the seat, so we can have more space when we stroll up to tell them that we’re one of the millions of people who like the music.

I took my seat on the plane, the very last one, right down the back, feeling a bit stupid but in a way pleased that I had gotten that excited and laughing at myself for going to pieces when suddenly I spied a familiar figure sauntering down the aisle as only a man with that much groove in him could do.

“No way”, I thought but definitely he was looking at me, “Fuck! He is coming to see me”.

“The last goddamn seat on the plane”, he laughed at me as he rolled up, “The last goddamn seat!”.

I then had one of the nicest conversations, he asked about me, what I thought of his gig, told me how much of a good time he had in Ireland (without having to be prompted by a Late Late Show host) all while signing an autograph and telling the stressed stewardess who was pleading with him to go back to his seat to chill. The man was beyond cool, he was a beautiful person. Me, not being cool, decided to tell him about the funk covers band I played with in in Dublin, Gregory Spade And The Love Tailors .

“Hey you know what”, says I, “I used to make my money playing your songs on a Friday night”. Without dropping a beat he looks straight at me, smiling generously.

“So did I man”, says he, “So did I”.