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The Happy Accident Of "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" By Bachman-Turner Overdrive
When it comes to happy accidents, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive ranks right among the happiest. The Canadian rock band composed of two Bachman brothers, Randy and Robbie, along with Fred Turner and Blair Thornton sold almost 30 million albums worldwide. “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” scored the band their only US No. 1 single but boy, did the song have legs.
Perhaps the most famous song to utilize stuttering found its way into “The Simpsons,” “The Sopranos,” a Steven King collection, and much more. So how did “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” almost slip through the cracks and who do we have to thank for the song’s famous speech impediment? Read on to find out.
As lead singer Randy Bachman recalls in 1973, “I’m looking for something, and then You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet comes along by accident. We needed an FM Top 40 hit, something light with a heavy bit in it. At that time, I was inspired by Traffic’s Dave Mason and his song, Only You Know And I Know, which had a dang-a-lang rhythm, and the Doobie Brothers’ Listen To The Music. So I copped those jangling rhythms, changed the chords, and then added some power chords of my own. I had a work in progress, in two parts: a great rhythm and a heavy riff.”
As only brothers can, Randy decided mimicking his brother Gary’s speech impediment would work for the song. Of course, he broke the news to him lightly, “Way back when, my brother Gary, one of four Bachman boys, had a speech impediment; he stuttered and stammered. For the ultimate tease, I wrote a song like he spoke. Then I called him up and scared him by telling him it would be on the album.”
“The words just flowed out without thought: ‘I met a Devil woman, and she took my heart away.’ That sounded good. Then for the chorus, I copied the way he’d say: ‘You ain’t seen n-n-nothing yet,’ and also the way he stumbled on ‘f-f-forget’, and the way he said ‘b-b-b baby.’ Amazingly, after all that tinkering, Randy planned on just shelving the song. As he said, “I liked it as an idea but I was never going to finish it off.”
Charlie Fach Step In
Later on while the group was going through prospective songs for Charlie Fach, the boss at Mercury, nothing sticks. After about eight different songs, an engineer suggests they play the “work song.” That work song turned out to be “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” which they used to test levels in the studio. Immediately Fach fell in love. As Bachman remembered, "Charlie said, 'I want to put this on the album.' And I said, 'I need to remix it.' And he said, 'Don't touch it. Put it on the way it is. When you play this with the other songs, it just jumps off the turntable.'"
The Accidental Monster Hit
In a rare turn of events, the studio loved not only the rawness of the recording but also the stutter. When the group rerecorded the song without the stutter, the studio vetoed it. They much preferred the “B-b-b-baby” and the “n-n-nothing.” On the other hand Randy wasn’t sold until it went number 1, which helped him get over some embarrassment about the stutter. “I thought it was embarrassing, but it went to No.1 in the States and 2. other countries. I was dumbfounded. Particularly because as soon it became a hit, my brother stopped stammering.”
Down In History
The song took Bachman Turner Overdrive and Randy to a whole other level of fame. He even became recognized among the other great rock bands. As Randy tells it, “I come to London regularly to write. I’d been on a plane after a MIDEM [music industry] event, and the stewardess was asking what band everyone was from. It was all, ‘Oh, I’m in Pink Floyd…’ this, and ‘I’m Gus Dudgeon… Elton John…’ that. When she got to me I said: ‘I’m in Bachman-Turner Overdrive.’ No response. Then I sang her this song and she went: ‘Whaaaat?!’ She goes and tells the pilot and co-pilot and they start doing a Smashie and Nicey skit and tell everyone: ‘Randy Bachman is in seat C3.’ And they all applaud. I was thrilled!”
Of course, the sexual associations also loom large and Randy doesn’t mind a bit. “I’m aware of the connotations. I’ve been in gas stations in America, in the maddest parts outta nowhere, and seen women’s panties and brassières for sale outside – even some men’s underwear – with ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet’ written on the crotch. And there’s me thinking: ‘I own this phrase!’”
Tags: Bachman brothers | Canadian rock band
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