Boston’s Boston

Now that we got the history out of the way, let’s dig into the songs on this LP. First, I want to point out again that John Boylan made an important and crucial decision in mixing the album so as to allow a more balanced mix and the lyrics and each instrument to come through. Tom Scholz did have the guitars pushed too high because one can hear remnants of that still in this album, which is why I deducted half a star for sound. This is partly why the CD version, which is likely the version we hear on radio (or could be MP3 for what we know) is so very annoying. The vinyl version retains the original mix Boylan did.

Side One
1. “More Than a Feeling”– This song is an ode to daydreaming, and contains a guitar solo reminiscent of “Telstar”. The track was inspired by a love affair that Scholz had years prior while in school. “Walk Away Renée” by The Left Banke was popular at the time, and it caused Scholz to pine miserably over the girl. “More Than a Feeling” unintentionally incorporates a chord progression from that particular song following the line “I see my Marianne walking away.” *So if it has been puzzling you since 1976 as to who Marianne was in the song, it just got answered.*
This was Scholz’s biggest hit and took writer five years to complete. Boston’s website claims that the song is about “the power an old song can have in your life,” with Tom Scholz elaborating that “it was sort of a bittersweet ballad.” The lyrics express the author’s discontent with the present and his yearning for a former love named Marianne, whose memory is strongly evoked by an old familiar song. In a recent interview Scholz was asked, “Who is Marianne?” He replied, “There actually is a Marianne. She wasn’t my girlfriend.” He explained that when he was 8 or 9 years old he had a much older cousin who he thought was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen and that he was “secretly in love” with her (laughs).

2. “Peace of Mind” – The song is about the people Scholz worked with at Polaroid Corporation before getting his recording contract, and about Scholz’s lack of interest in climbing the corporate ladder into company management. This was also one of several hits from this LP

3. “Foreplay/Long Time”– Here is where the band takes a turn towards Progressive Rock with this near 8 minute epic. I wonder if the second part of the song title “Long Time” is a reference to the length, hmm? It combines an instrumental introduction, “Foreplay”, to the main song “Long Time”, generally played as one on the radio and listed as one track on the album. In an interview for the Best of Boston CD, Scholz said that “Foreplay” was the first song he ever recorded, and he did this on a two-track machine in his basement.  “Foreplay” is a progressive instrumental prelude, primarily consisting of rapid triplet arpeggios on a Hammond M-3 organ (contrary to popular belief, the song was not recorded on a B-3, as Tom Scholz had a limited budget at the time and was unable to afford one) with a bass part doubled by a clavinet, and drums, with lead guitar joining at the end. According to Scholz, leader and producer of Boston, the synthesizer-like swoops were produced by scraping a pick across the strings of an electric guitar in conjunction with distortion and delay.  The three guitar solos on “Long Time” are played by Barry Goudreau, rather than Scholz, who played most of the guitar parts on Boston.
An alternate mix of the song is available on the Epic Records Promo LP It’s a Knockout (which now I have to try to find). It was a sampler LP of artists that had releases coming up in 1976. This version has various differences in the mix and effects and includes extra lyrics towards the end of the song. This version has never been available officially anywhere else.

Side two
1. “Rock & Roll Band”– This is a track that dated back to the band’s Mother’s Milk demo, was inspired by Masdea’s experiences performing in various bar combos, and was written just as “pure fantasy.” The album version still features Masdea’s drums from the demo tape. In The Rough Guide to Rock, Charles Bottomley calls the song Boston’s “self-description.” Lyrics supporting this statement include:
“Well we were just another band out of Boston
On the road to try to make ends meet
Playin’ all the bars, sleepin’ in our cars
And we practiced right on out in the street”.
However, the song’s lyrics do exaggerate the band’s story, as they spent years of work and rejection to get their recording contract, rather than being suddenly discovered by a record executive who happened to catch a show. Boston’s official website acknowledges that the song is “a charming bit of group self-mythology.” Scholz himself admits that the song is “pure fantasy” since the band never played live or toured at the time the song was written. According to Scholz, the song was inspired by Masdea telling him of playing in bands in Hyannis, Massachusetts and dreaming of being discovered. Scholz decided to write a song “about everybody who dreams about that,” even though “that’s not what happened with Boston.”

2. “Smokin'”  – This is a typical rock song with a rock theme. The references in the song have never been officially established. It could be about drugs as easily as about anything else. The band continue to be vague about it. The original title was “Shaken”.

3. “Hitch a Ride” – This is one of my favorites from this LP. It has an acoustic start with just guitar and vocals then ramps up a little, but stays slightly more mellow with a different time signature. “Hitch a Ride” was originally titled “San Francisco Day”, with lyrics starting in New York City and then planning to hitch a ride to “head for the other side”. To create a special effect on the track’s organ solo, which is classic, Scholz slowed down one of the recording reels with his finger.

4. “Something About You” – This is just one of those O.K. songs.  “Something About You” was originally “Life Isn’t Easy” and was written around 1975, and as the last demo, it was put as the second to last track.

5. “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” – This is another O.K. song in my opinion. It is a love song of sorts it seems.


Hitch A Ride:


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