Does "Willin'" by Little Feat have a measure of 3/4?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by 51PRI, Sep 22, 2021.

  1. 51PRI


    Aug 7, 2014
    Our drummer is having trouble with a tiny little section of the old song Willin' by Little Feat. There is a weird part that DOES do something weird. He thinks its a measure of 5/4, and it may be, but it still doesn't sound right the way he's playing it. They way THEY play it it flows and sounds natural and the way WE play it it sounds like it's about to fall apart. What happens at 0:46 - 0:49 and again at 2:17 - 2: 20?

    Plain Old Barry, Border and WillyW like this.
  2. Greg Pasquariello

    Greg Pasquariello Commercial User

    Jan 23, 2015
    Austin TX
    Headrest™ Amp Trays
    I hear 3/4. I also hear it at 2:23
    tekhedd likes this.
  3. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    It actually happens twice. Also under "Driven the backroads so I wouldn't..." Seems like two phrases of 3/4 - 4/4 or two measures of 7/4. I can't see how anyone would get 5/4 out of that.
    tekhedd, whero, Eli_Kyiv and 2 others like this.
  4. Greg Pasquariello

    Greg Pasquariello Commercial User

    Jan 23, 2015
    Austin TX
    Headrest™ Amp Trays
    Yep, had just edited my reply to say that.
    LBS-bass likes this.
  5. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    No, I mean within the same chorus. at 0.46 and also at 0.53.

    Could be counted as two measures of 7 right up to the pause.
  6. Greg Pasquariello

    Greg Pasquariello Commercial User

    Jan 23, 2015
    Austin TX
    Headrest™ Amp Trays
    I only mentioned the second chorus because I didn't listen to the first one all the way through :)
    LBS-bass likes this.
  7. Holdsg

    Holdsg Talkbass > Work Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Alta Loma, CA
    one of my favorite songs ever. as long as the whole band is following the singer, you should not have trouble with this. it's a little "out there" to have an extra beat here and there.
    TomB, wboyd68, JettBlaq and 4 others like this.
  8. jchrisk1

    jchrisk1 Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Northern MI
    Great song! We play this a lot and I've never really noticed the time signature much. It's always just felt right.
  9. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    Same here. I must have sung this one 100+ times back in the 70's and 80's and never counted it until today!
    Plain Old Barry, bobba66 and iammr2 like this.
  10. OptimalOptimus


    Jan 4, 2019
    To me it felt like they extended the bar by a beat or 8th to fit with the lyrics that just doesn’t quite fit. Something that happen with old country songs…
    51PRI likes this.
  11. Great tune and a bit of wacky timing. Check out their Long Distance Love - I am still not sure what they are doing in there - but I love it.
    fritzk9 likes this.
  12. Chain_Lightning


    Sep 8, 2014
    Out standing Tune Lowell at his finest I just had to comment on this and if you give me ........ Hang with it. Good luck ! You may wanna check out how Linda R. Does it
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2021
    JettBlaq, LBS-bass and 51PRI like this.
  13. 51PRI


    Aug 7, 2014
    Same here. I've known this song since the 70's and it just feels right to me. First time we played it the BL just started playing it. The drummer got on the off beat and couldn't get back. Since then he's worked on it personally but the feel still isn't there
    LBS-bass likes this.
  14. Dominic D

    Dominic D Habitual Line-Stepper Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 9, 2008
    Winter Park, Florida
    DiCosimo Audio
    I feel the song as being cut time (2/2) and those measures are 3/2.
    nightchef and Hachimitsu like this.
  15. its 4/4, 3/4, 4/4 , 3/4...also known as mixed meter..
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2021
  16. drumvsbass


    Aug 20, 2011
    Chorus is 4/4, 4/4, 3/4, 4/4, 3/4, 4/4 break. If you're counting snare on 2 and 4.
  17. bfields


    Apr 9, 2015
    Ann Arbor, MI
    The drummer may need to sit down with pencil and paper and write it out and then play along with the recording to make sure he's got it.

    Yes, ideally you'd just feel it, but if you don't, well, you've going to have to break it down somehow and then work on it until you do....
    LBS-bass likes this.
  18. ficelles


    Feb 28, 2010
    Devon, England
    Counting it in quavers which makes it easier for me I'm getting a 6 then an 8, twice before the pause so same as 2 7s in crotchets.
    SteveCS and LBS-bass like this.
  19. 2F/2F


    May 26, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    This is not that odd. I have heard it in many songs with a similar style, lope, and chord changes. And it isn't hard to play. You either get it...or you don't. Explaining it on a technical level probably won't help much. But:

    My very first impression: The verses of this song feel like 2/2, and the choruses feel like 2/4.

    Chorus: |1-2-|1-2-|1-2-|1-2-|1-2-3-|1-2-|1-2-|1-2-3-|1-2-|1-2-| (fermata, etc.).

    ...which, if you add it up, results in an even number of beats, despite the two extended measures.

    You could also count it in 4/4, if it makes it easier. But I think it makes it more confusing, personally.

    |1-2-3-4-|1-2-3-4-|1-2-3-|1-2-3-4-|1-2-3-|1-2-3-4-| (fermata, etc.).

    As for what the drummer does in the added beat, he hits a snare up-beat.

    His snare hits (in caps) during a normal measure (of 2/4) would be:


    His snare hits (in caps) during the extended measure would be:


    What would make it easiest for him? Most likely:


    But really, I think that just singing the lyrics, and/or feeling it as a two count instead of a four count will help.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2021
    BOOG and 51PRI like this.
  20. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    We play that in one of my jammin bands. I haul out the pedal steel for that tune. I might have a recording somewhere. Knowing our drummer, he may play it all in 4/4...with flourishes.
    LBS-bass likes this.
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