In this article we break down Built to Spill’s “You Were Right”: A brilliant melancholic tune built upon ten references to some of the most iconic classic rock songs ever.
In the pantheon of underrated rock bands, Idaho’s Built to Spill is surely at the top of that list. There is not a single hole in their decently sizable discography.
Most people who are are into late nineties/early two-thousands indie rock staples, such as Modest Mouse, Mercury Rev, and Dinosaur Jr., etc, are likely fans of Built to Spill, but there is one song of theirs that fans of any rock music genre should hear. That song is “You Were Right.”
“You Were Right,” from the band’s 1999 release Keep it Like a Secret, takes ten iconic lines from ten legendary rock songs and melds them together into a brilliantly poetic tune. The foundation of the song is Bob Marley’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.”
After an intro of howling distorted guitars, lead singer Doug Martsch starts with the chorus, wailing out and repeating:
You were wrong when you said everything’s gonna be alright
From here the song transitions to the first of two melancholic verses. In these lines, instead of stating “you were wrong when you said,” the framework is flipped to “you were right…” Martsch uses more iconic song references in the verses to fully form the song’s pessimistic and philosophical point of view. Here are two examples:
You were right when you said all that glitters isn’t gold
You were when you said we’re all just dust in the wind
The line, “All that glitters isn’t gold” is from Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”
And the line, “We’re all just dust in the wind” is from Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind.”
There are another seven references in the song, so without giving them all away yet, let’s…
Take a listen:
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If you are having trouble recognizing any of the other references in the song I have listed them below:
“Everything’s gonna be alright”
“No Woman, No Cry” – Bob Marley
“All that glitters isn’t gold”
“Stairway to Heaven” – Led Zeppelin
“All we are is dust in the wind”
“Dust in the Wind” – Kansas
“We’re all just bricks in the wall”
“The Wall” – Pink Floyd
“Manic Depression’s A frustrated mess”
“Manic Depression” – Jimi Hendrix
“You can’t always get what you want”
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” – Rolling Stones
“It’s a hard rain’s gonna fall”
“Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” – Bob Dylan
“We’re still running against the wind”
“Against the Wind” – Bob Seger
“Life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone”
“Jack and Diane” – John Cougar Mellencamp
“This is the end”
“The End” – The Doors
Here is a link to Built to Spill’s website. Check’em out!
Thanks for reading.
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