Sunday, December 12, 2010

Falsetto alarm

By Wayne Shelor

Sundays in The Sanctuary are for celebrating good music, such as the No. 1 hit “She Drives Me Crazy” by the Fine Young Cannibals, a song that to me defines the '80s music scene.

Clopping, electronically driven drums, sparse, chiming guitars and a steady, fat bottom helped ”She Drives Me Crazy” become a hit song, but only after the band changed three little words and sang the song a couple of octaves higher than written. This internationally popular, ska-influenced song – written by David Steele and lead-singer Roland Gift – took them six months to create.

A former saxophonist who’d been in a punk band called Blue Kitchen, Gift ventured to London where he ran into Steel and Andrew Cox, and joined them in a band project.  Their demo tape got them a recording contract, but their first record went nowhere. Still, the song-writing duo of Gift and Steele was able to pay bills by writing music for the John Candy/Steve Martin comedy movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Three years later - after spending six months perfecting their planned next single – the Fine Young Cannibals released the album The Raw and the Cooked, and the single “She Drives Me Crazy.”

The song was originally called “She’s My Baby,” and was sung by Gift in his normal baritone voice. But Steele fiddled with it for an inordinately long time, and finally changed the title to “She Drives Me Crazy,” and convinced Gift to sing it in falsetto.

The record clicked, charting in at No. 1 in the second week of April 1989.

And oh yeah … the band’s name, Fine Young Cannibals? It’s from the title of a Natalie Wood/Robert Wagner film from 1960, All The Fine Young Cannibals!

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