I’ve been listening to the song “Judy In Disguise” by John Fred and his Playboy Band. Besides having one of the great all-time band names (although maybe not at the same level as Lothar and the Hand People or Shirley Temple of Doom), I’m currently really intrigued by the structure of the song. Allow me to geek out for a moment.
On one hand, “Judy” is a classic example of a mid-60’s pop song. The lyrics talk about cars and girls and lemonade pie, and my goodness, a bra. The chord structure is pretty standard for a pop song – your typical I-IV-V stuff. But psychedelia is creeping in around the edges.
The first sign of a freaky and awesome new world is at the intro, where the guitar goes into a series of chromatic divebombs that draw out the tension like a rubber band before it all snaps back into place and the first verse starts. The bridge also has a very different sound to it, with harmonies that add a spooky note to the song.
The hero of this song does not just want to hold your hand, and has musically described his intentions pretty well. Although by the end it seems that all he’s going to get his hands on is a pair of ladies’ glasses.
The lyrics also dabble in psychedelia; cantaloupe eyes and kite strings are mixed up with the cars and girls and lemonade pie.
At first I didn’t like the song too much, mostly because of that chromatic guitar stuff. It does bring forward momentum to a halt. But I think the payoff is much greater; you wind up with a much more interesting and emotionally expressive song. It’s amazing what you can do with a couple of small changes.
Image: Public Domain. Altered by Elizabeth.