Heart Full of Soul: A close analysis

The Yardbirds provided us with some of the best guitarists that the common man knows of. Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck all paid their dues in the yardbirds line up. What draws most people to engage with and enjoy this band would of course be the creativity and the innovation of this band. A wonderful example of this innovation would be their most popular song, Heart Full of Soul. After Eric Clapton had left the band after recording their other rather popular track, For Your Love, and Jeff Beck would fill his place. With a new guitarist came a new opportunity to try some new things with their sound. As psychedelia began to mesh with music, so did the introduction of different musical and cultural style. Where paisley and beads came into clothing, sitar and tabla came into music. The Beatles receive a lot of credit for being the “first” to do so in pop music in their “Norwegian Wood( This Bird Has Flown)”. However, the Yardbirds were the first to record it, though they believed it sounded too thin, and thus never ended up releasing it. Beck took this as a challenge and pushed the boundaries of pop music as it had been known up to this point by introducing the fuzz-tone sound to the song.
The track begins with Beck’s simulation of the sitar using the his MK 1Tonebender (fuzz box fuzz machine and tone blender) which gives the riff in the beginning section a wholesome, and very full sound that the sitar was not able to accomplish. This does not stand alone as an acoustic guitar plays right behind the riff giving the song layers that are still to this day a wonder to peel apart. The acoustic is strummed and allowed to ring out as Beck lays down his fuzz tone layer, but when the acoustic guitar begins it’s gallop, it takes the song to its next section and allows the fuzztone to fade into the back for just a moment.
In the next section of the song, “Sick at heart and lonely” lyrics are fed through the sound wall of the last bit of the fuzztone’s scratching and the acoustic section’s constant gallop into the very next section. With two quick strums, the song goes through a transition and now every instrument plays its part and creates a dynamic, and somewhat climactic, energy in the song.
“ And I know…” brings the gallop of the drums as well as the acoustic guitar now. They build on one another and the drums give way to a splashing effect that brings back the and as relf belts out “ I got a hear-ar-art”, Beck the fuzztone riff back in after two strums that allow the riff from the beginning to show back up, but not in a way that takes the listener by shock.
From this, Beck takes you for a ride with a guitar solo that follows the same overall tone of the riff from the rest of the song, but now it’s consistency is like caramel. Stretching and sticking to the song in a way that sounds sweet to the ear. As he melts and milks every note, the song is progressing to it’s final verse and chorus. When the solo ends there is a moment, a moment that allows what you just experienced to settle in, and then the acoustic gallops its way back to another riff from Beck.
The song is ended with the famous riff which is allowed to ring out for the last few minutes of the song and is accompanied by a tabla.
This song is not only one of the most influential songs of its time, but is an amazing example of the way in which Eastern and Western cultures were coming together in harmony at this time.


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