2016-06-28

A Musical Easter Egg

I did some Googling this afternoon to see whether I could find anyone else on the internet who has mentioned this thing that I am about to mention. I couldn't find a single person who had.

Now, obviously I'm not going to say that I'm the only person to have ever noticed this, but what I will say is that in a world where virtually every piece of information everywhere has been documented somewhere on the internet, it's very difficult to come across something that isn't on the first page of a Google or Bing search query.

Lucky me! I've found something. And now I get to share it with you.

"Jacob's Ladder" is a song written by John and Bruce Hornsby - you know, the famous Bruce Hornsby - and made famous by Huey Lewis and the News. It was, in fact, Huey Lewis' third number-one single and appeared on their fourth long player, Fore! 

The guitar solo starts at about the two-minute mark, and it begins with a melodic passage that may sound somewhat familiar to some music fans:


If you can spot the melody, give yourself a pat on the back. That particular melody is a quotation from a wonderful song by the band Traffic, called "Every Mother's Son." Here's the original, for context:


Huey Lewis and Bruce Hornsby are both famous for being pop music icons. Lewis has never pretended to be anything other than a working-class blues singer who got lucky. Hornsby made a name for himself by writing popular songs for many artists, including himself.

Traffic, on the other hand, is mostly famous among musicians and fans of progressive rock. They are critically acclaimed, but are not usually listed among the list of pop radio stars. They're cult favorites, excellent musicians, and highly progressive.

So pop rock and art rock don't often meet. If you've followed Bruce Hornsby's later years, you know he's gone deeper into more artistic forms of musical expression, and that's good for him as an artist, and for us as the audience. But it's nice to know that even way back in his pop writing days he was still giving a wink to the Steve Winwood fans out there.