Greatest Songs, #500: “More Than a Feeling” by Boston

I’m belatedly getting around to one of my New Year’s resolutions…okay, very belatedly: To listen to all of Rolling Stone Magazine’s500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” and to understand why each one is on the list. To prevent myself from getting distracted halfway through and never finishing the resolution, I am promising to post one a day on this blog along with some critical analyses from people who know far more about music than I. This series will kill 2 birds because I had hoped to have a contributor write a series on music, but I haven’t found the right person for the job yet. This gives me over a year to continue the search without you missing out on good music. So start your egg timers at 500–that’s 43,200,000 seconds, so you’re going to need a crazy egg timer–and join me on a fun journey through music history. Think of it as your daily entertainment–that 5-minute break from the real world we all need. — AWO

Album: Boston (Epic Records)
Year: 1976
Written by: Tom Scholz & John Boylan
Billboard Hot 100:
#5

From Rolling Stone:

Inspired by the heart-tugging mood of the Left Banke‘s “Walk Away Renee,” Polaroid engineer Scholz tinkered with this anthem for five years in his basement studio. Driven by an epochal riff and Brad Delp‘s skyscraper vocals, “Feeling” helped Boston sell more than 17 million copies — and inspired the riff for Nirvana‘s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

From Wikipedia:

The song is an example of the compound AABA form. The verses are in the key of D major, and the refrain is in the key of G major.

The Book of Rock Lists suggests that the chorus riff may itself be a subtle homage to the Kingsmen‘s classic, Louie Louie“… The descending verse riff is also similar to the hook from “Badge” by Cream. The song’s instrumental guitar bridge is heavily inspired by the instrumental hooks of The Tornados‘ 1962 instrumental hit “Telstar“, but also sounds like the riff from the song “Tend My Garden” by Joe Walsh.

From allmusic, reviewing the album:

Scholz…was a studio wizard and used self-designed equipment such as 12-track recording devices to come up with an anthemic “arena rock” sound before the term was even coined. The sound was hard rock, but the layered melodies and harmonics reveal the work of a master craftsman. While much has been written about the sound of the album, the lyrics are often overlooked.

From Rolling Stone‘s original review of the album in 1976:

Boston is a five-man band that embodies the finest influences of English heavy-metal and progressive rock as no other American band has ever done. The group’s affinity for heavy rock & roll provides a sense of dynamics that coheres magnetically with sophisticated progressive structures…

Lead singer Bradley Delp’s muscular vocals are powerful and graceful. He teams with guitarist Tom Scholz…in a relationship that’s the key to the group’s striking personality. If Boston is as exciting to see as it is to hear, Aerosmith will soon have company at the top.