I took a picture of a bookshop that I pass on my route to the offices my company has recently moved to in La DÃ©fense. I liked the fact that it was a weathered, old shop sign. No doubt it hasn’t been open for years, though it may be caught in a time warp and still in business. What really piqued me was that the name. Horribly wrong punctuation. No use of apostrophe to indicate possession unless they only sold books about characters called Betty. The whole thing, in two words and one misplaced apostrophe, was a mess.
Having posted the photo to Flickr, a talented musician and songwriter friend of mine (Paul) immediately picked up on the “Betty” reference, it having been part of the title of possible one of the simplest but most effective tracks we ever played together, Sweaty Betty.
A couple of days later, I found an old USB stick which had a random selection of 300 tracks from my mp3 collection. I plugged it into my car stereo and was listening to some old tunes when I heard the familiar riff from the start of Sweaty Betty, and it started right around the point where Betty Book’s (sic) is. Thus the triple reference to Betty – the shop, the comment and the tune – in one short week reminded me that I had always intended to post about it.
Paul recollects this on the songwriting:
The song is basically about a smelly girlfriend. Wrote it in about 30 seconds. The true story is that one day I was walking past Betty’s Bistro [in Leamington Spa, where we lived as students] and saw (what looked like) the owner sweeping up outside. She was absolutely massive and had sweaty armpits so we nicknamed it Sweaty Betty’s.
The song lyrics were finalised just a couple of days before our booked studio time to record a few tracks as a demo EP – mostly as a souvenir of the band, which was forced apart as the three members all changed jobs in the space of a few months and could no longer meet to rehearse easily. The verses are structured around a A – G – Em7 progression, and the chorus is A – Gsus4 which gives it a little edge. The bass line was improvised and built around the guitar riff and progressions, and a breakdown in the song towards the end let me come up with a bass line which drives the song to the finale.
I could even take credit for some of the lyrics. The skeleton structure was improvised and extended during jamming sessions with The Rosco. Paul gave “I don’t really know you, all I know is that I itch like crazy” to which I added “I don’t really know you, all I know is that your dog’s got rabies!”.
Here’s the song, with player courtesy of the Haiku audio plugin.
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