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The Killers - Somebody Told Me: What's Going On?!

Discussion in 'Tablature and Notation [BG]' started by Phaedrus, Mar 10, 2005.

  1. Phaedrus


    Nov 17, 2004
    Who writes a song in A#? Am I wrong in thinking they've retuned to play this song?

    It sounds to me like there's an open ringing note (A#) in parts of the song, but how can you let a fretted note (1st fret on A) ring when you're dicking around up the fretboard at the same time?

    I reckon they've tuned up one semitone, so the open A string is actually A#. My guitarist disagrees and insists we do it in A#.

    Any ideas?

  2. Sometimes, the recording itself is being tuned.
  3. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    Sixth fret of the E string, maybe? But is it still possible to play the rest of the song? Can't recall how that line goes.

    Maybe that sustained note is a keyboard sample? I'm stumped, I have never heard of a rock band tuning up to play a song.
  4. Bassic83


    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    Why not? Stevie Ray tuned down a half step...
  5. i think they have aswell. i have been learning all the killers songs for the past few months now and had to check out a few sites for that one cuz my ear didn't cut it there.
  6. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    just play it in Bb

  7. Phaedrus


    Nov 17, 2004
    As soon as I got the first note at the very start, I knew it was odd.

    I rang my guitarist to see what key he'd learned it in. My BP200 (with tuner) is in our rehearsal room, so I even considered that my bass was out of tune.

    What baffles me is that he said A#. He's an amazing guitarist - truly 100% virtuoso in almost any genre - why didn't it occur to him that it was odd?

    I'm playing it on the 6th on the E string, but it's just all wrong, gosh darn it.

    To bother me further, the other night the guitarist suggested we do Flashdance.

  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Why should a tune be "odd" because it has Bb in it - I have actually heard that tune and it doesn't sound odd to me - it does have a lot of keyboard stuff in it - so maybe it was written on keyboards not guitar?

    Bbs are very common notes you know..;)
  9. Point #1: The Killers definitely don't tune up a half step, they tune down a half step. This is plainly obvious if you try to play "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine."

    Point #2: "Somebody Told Me" does not have the bass playing the low notes and the chords both at once. He plays the low note on the one, then the chords afterward. The low note is held by the keyboards. During the last two times through the chorus, he skips the chords and just chugs through the root notes down low.

    Point #3: Great CD, and I love that guy's playing. I was surprised to see that they are pretty good live, too.
  10. Phaedrus


    Nov 17, 2004

    I don't mean that a tune is odd because it contains a Bm. I mean that, in The Killer's genre, it seems odd to write a song with 1st on A/6th on E and 1st on D/6th on A as the root notes. This is about chord shapes and fretting positions, not the actual key. Their songs are simple and basic, but very good, rock songs with (mostly) simple and basic rock song structures (though Somebody Told me has its quirks). Of course, they could be trying to be clever, but why, when the song is otherwise relatively simple?

    It would be more common to find these types of songs written in common major keys, in this case, it's obvious to me, A and D for the verses, not A# and D# - why make simple and basic songs more complicated by writing them in keys that mean the left hand has more to do?


    1. Haven't tried Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine. Great song, though.

    2. I respect that there are probably a million better bass players out there than me, and you are probably one of them, but my original point about there being open strings used in Somebody Told Me makes the tuning DOWN thoery moot, too. Also, at 2:09 there's a slide from 6th on A (D#) (if it is played in standard tuning) to an octave below that. On a standard-tuned bass, that's not possible - D# doesn't exist. All I do is hit the same D# (6th on A) again. It makes sense that if the song is actually played retuned (so that the A string is actually A#, and hence the E string is actually D#), you would be sliding from the 7th on A (still sonically real D#) down an octave to open E (again, still D#)

    Also, I don't hear any chords in this song. There are little fancy bits in the chorus, which my ears hear as (in 16ths): 6th on E/6th on E/6th on E/8th on G/6th on E/10th on G/6th on E/6th on E/9th on A/9th on A/9th on A/10th on G/9th on A/8th on G/9th on A/9th on A/11th on A/11th on A/11th on A/11th on D/11th on A/13th on D/11th on A/11th on A/8th on A/8th on A/8th on A/6th on G/8th on A/5th on G/8th on A/8th on A.

    I do hear the higher notes being dropped on the last run through the chorus.

    I've learned the song in A# (or Bm, if that's what it's called), and that's where it looks like we're playing it.

    3. It's great that there are good bands coming out now with interesting creative bassists and whether this song is in A or A#, it's still a great song and bassline.

    I'm sure this all seems trivial to pro guys lured into reading this thread - sorry for that. But I'm sure I'm right, and I need to know. Maybe I'm not communicating what I mean very well, either to you guys or my guitarist. Out of interest, I might find out by contacting them through their website.

  11. Is it the song that goes:

    Somebody told me
    You had a boyfriend
    Looks like a girlfriend

    Or something like that?
  12. Dan1099

    Dan1099 Dumbing My Process Down

    Aug 7, 2004
    Sure that slide isnt from the 12th on the E string, which is tuned down to Eb?

    It seems to me that there is no problem here....there is keyboard sustaining that note while the bass goes up.
  13. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Yes. I have the cd, its actually pretty good.
  14. Update: Dan1099, you are correct. The slide goes down to Eb because the strings are down a half step. Upon further review, I have decided that there are definitely chords played for the high parts during the chorus. Technically they are just double stops, but I consider double stops to be chords. There you go.
  15. Razor


    Sep 22, 2002
    Aren't these the same guys that have that "Mr. Blindside" tune or something like that?

    That's a catchy tune...

    "He takes off her dress now........."
  16. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Yes. There are easily 4-5 songs on the cd that are just as good if not better than those 2 songs, although all are pretty dang catchy.
  17. Dan1099

    Dan1099 Dumbing My Process Down

    Aug 7, 2004
    You have to keep in mind songs dont always sound "right." So it may be a case of "he played one note, but it sounds like this note." Several old ozzy recording sound as far as almost a whole step off of where they played them. Jack Bruce talks in the latest Bass Player about the same phenomenon...They played the song in one key, but on recording, it sounds like another.
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - I think part of becoming a better musician is to start thinking about music as music and not mechanical positions and shapes - I don't know how you know what positions they used anyway - it sounds to me, as others have been saying, that at least parts, if not all of that bassline was played on a keybaord!! :meh:
  19. I think he meant that you missed the point of his original question, Bruce.

    That could be just my interpretation, though. :shrug:
  20. Phaedrus


    Nov 17, 2004
    I spent more time on this over the weekend. I goofed in my last post on the slide from D#. We learned it in A in standard tune, but then the slid I was talking about is actually from 5th on A, and obviously there's no lower octave of that note on a standard tunes 4-string. Maybe he tunes D-A-D-G? Or he uses a 5-string? Or the keyboards just covers it all up?

    We don't have a keyboard player, so I guess I'm trying to compensate for that.

    Regarding the chords in the chorus, it's definitely not peddalled in 16ths as I said earlier, but if I play it the way he does, the balls falls out of the song when we play it, so I'm going to keep playing it my way. Joe Public probably won't even notice it.


    stephdawe04 is right. I do realise that musically, the shapes of what a musician does (on any instrument) are not really relevant, and I'll admit to having been guilty in the past (and sometimes present) of playing shapes that I think might sound good, rather thang going for NOTES I know will sound good (learned myself - no college/teachers, no scale thoery under my belt, not able to read music) but my point is, why make simple music complicated?

    Thanks again for the replies,