Pictures of Matchstick Men

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"Pictures of Matchstick Men"
cover of CD titled after the song
Single by The Status Quo
from the album Picturesque Matchstickable Messages from the Status Quo
B-side "Gentleman Joe's Sidewalk Café"
Released 1967 (1967)
Format 7"
Genre Pop rock, psychedelic rock, psychedelic pop
Length 3:09
Label Pye Records
Writer(s) Francis Rossi
Producer(s) John Schroeder
The Status Quo singles chronology
"Pictures of Matchstick Men"
(1968)
"Black Veils of Melancholy"
(1968)
"Pictures of Matchstick Men"
Single by Camper Van Beethoven
from the album Key Lime Pie
Released 1989
Format CD
Genre Psychedelic rock
Label Virgin

"Pictures of Matchstick Men" is the first hit single by Status Quo, released in November 1967.

It reached number seven in the British charts, number eight in Canada, and number twelve on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming their only hit single in the United States.[1][2][3] Francis Rossi confirmed on DVD2 of the Pictures set that it was originally intended to be a B-side to "Gentleman Joe's Sidewalk Cafe", but it was decided to swap the B-side and the A-side of the single.

There are two versions of the song, a stereo and mono version, with significant differences: the mono version, which was the original single, has the trademark psychedelic wah-wah guitar in the breaks between lyrics, but the stereo version omits it.

The song opens with a single guitar repeatedly playing a simple four note riff before the bass, rhythm guitar, drums and lyrics begin. "Pictures of Matchstick Men" is one of a number of songs from the late sixties to feature the audio effect phasing. The song is an example of bubblegum psychedelia. Their following release, "Black Veils of Melancholy", was similar but flopped, which caused the group to change direction.[4]

Francis Rossi said about the song:

I wrote it on the bog. I'd gone there, not for the usual reasons...but to get away from the wife and mother-in-law. I used to go into this narrow frizzing toilet and sit there for hours, until they finally went out. I got three quarters of the song finished in that khazi. The rest I finished in the lounge.[5]

The "matchstick men" of the song refers to the paintings of L.S. Lowry.[5]

The prominent guitar riff leading to every chorus is similar to the "rum-a-pum-pum" of the beloved Christmas song "Little Drummer Boy" originally by Harry Simeone Chorale.[citation needed]

Cover versions[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

In 2007, My Name is Earl Season 3, Episode 11: Burn Victim featured the song. In 2011, the original version of "Pictures of Matchstick Men" was featured prominently in a television ad for Target stores. In 2012, the original version of the song was played in Men in Black 3.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ "BBC - Music / Profiles - Status Quo". BBC. British Broadcasting Corporation. 2006. Archived from the original on October 10, 2006. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  2. ^ "The enduring appeal of Status Quo". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. 9 December 2005. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  3. ^ staff (November 12, 2008). "Cue The Quo". Aberdeen Press and Journal (Aberdeen, Scotland: Aberdeen Journals). OCLC 29379669. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  4. ^ Rawlings, Terry (November 1, 2002). Then, Now and Rare British Beat 1960-1969 (illustrated ed.). London, England: Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780711990944. OCLC 50272043. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Headon, Tanya (December 17, 2002). "Songs About Laurence Stephen Lowry". FreakyTrigger. Tom Ewing. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Type O Negative Current Bio - 9.00". Type O Negative. Team Ronin. 2003. Archived from the original on July 5, 2003. 
  7. ^ Masuo, Sandy (February 22, 1997). "Various artists, "Private Parts" soundtrack, *** Warner Bros.". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California, USA: Eddy Hartenstein). ISSN 0458-3035. OCLC 3638237. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 

External links[edit]