Pinch Me

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"Pinch Me"
Single by Barenaked Ladies
from the album Maroon
Released August 29, 2000
Format CD, 7", 12"
Recorded 2000
Genre Alternative rock
Length 4:45 (Album Version)
4:37 (Radio Edit w/o Fade)
3:49 (Radio Edit w. Fade)
Label Reprise
Writer(s) Steven Page
Ed Robertson
Producer(s) Don Was
Barenaked Ladies singles chronology
"Alcohol"
(1999)
"Pinch Me"
(2000)
"Too Little Too Late"
(2001)
Music video
"Pinch Me" on YouTube

"Pinch Me" is a song by the Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies. It was released in August 2000 as the first single from their 2000 album, Maroon, which was a follow-up to their hit album, Stunt. As such, "Pinch Me" is often regarded as an attempted follow-up to the hit single "One Week". This song became the band's second Top 20 hit, peaking at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 14, 2000. (The song first reached the Top 40 on October 3, 2000.) This perception is strengthened by the chorus's rap structure, which is reminiscent of "One Week".

Background[edit]

The song was co-written by frontmen Steven Page and Ed Robertson, but the concept and base for the song came from Robertson. He wrote the song following the "roller-coaster" success of Stunt, and returning to Canada to find people less interested or aware of the success. "I was trying to get to the root of what I was feeling... 'this is all great, but not right here it's not - not where I live, and not in my heart'... It's this notion that you know things are good - they're just not quite good for you."[citation needed]

The fundamental guitar riff of the song (through the verses) was based on the song "Leaving Las Vegas" by Sheryl Crow. The recording (and most live performances) is based on a drum loop (along which drummer Tyler Stewart plays). The loop was created by taking the best two bars of Stewart himself playing drums, and then looping them. The song was originally written with the chorus rap as the less prominent "underpinning" half of the vocal, with the melody being more prominent, but as the writing process went along, the rap became the foreground. Noting that the melody line was now the background, they took the lyric and also used it for the bridge of the song.

The song has a guitar solo outro which exists on the album version (the radio edit fades out before the outro). On the album, the solo was played by Robertson from the end of the solo to the beginning, and then the audio was reversed. When played live, the solo is played by Kevin Hearn. When played acoustically, the solo is often whistled.

According to Ed Robertson, during the Austin, TX concert on July 21, 2012, "Pinch Me" has one of his favorite "fake lyrics". He explained, "Often when we're writing a song, we just put in fake lyrics for a while, just to fill the space, 'cause we know what we want the melody to be, but we haven't finished the lyrics." The original chorus of the song was this: "Doesn't anyone, make a Chelsea Bun, like they used to back, in the day? Sticky-sweet, it's a special treat. If Chelsea Buns were men, I'd be gay."[1]

Live performances[edit]

The song is one of several in which the band consistently alters the lyrics humorously at live performances. Often changed lyrics include: "And run through with my gym shorts on" (substituting out "my gym shorts", for example, "with no clothing on"); "And change into some drier clothes" (substituting out "some drier clothes", such as "change into my sister's clothes"). Sometimes lines like this are changed to reference something topical about the performance. On a tour with Alanis Morissette, the line was often changed to "change into Alanis's clothes".

The band widely promoted the single and their new album, appearing and performing the song on The Tonight Show and Late Night with Conan O'Brien, though they did not appear on the Late Show with David Letterman for any song from Maroon, as they had in the past ("Brian Wilson '97", "One Week"). They also performed the song on the third season premiere of the television show Charmed, as well as on MadTV, the MuchMusic Video Awards, and Farmclub. The song has achieved success beyond the album promotion period as well. It was featured as incidental music on the second season finale episode "My Dream Job" of the sitcom Scrubs.

A classic schoolyard joke in the third verse, "I could hide out under there/I just made you say 'underwear'," spawned a fan trend of throwing underwear onstage at that point in the song. This has caused Robertson to sing the line as "I just made you throw underwear" when this happens. The band members tend to each take an article of thrown underwear and hang it from the headstock of their guitars for the guitar solo outro. When performing in the UK, to fit in with the British nomenclature, the line is sung as "I just made you throw pants," accompanied with a knowing wink or nod. While in the UK, Robertson also adds a line when leading into the last chorus: "All my stuff's here anyway, in the UK. Like a dream try to remember but it's gone...".

Critical reception[edit]

Chuck Taylor, of Billboard magazine reviewed the song favorably, saying that "the production is tight, and the melody alternates between minimalist verses and Ed Robertson's trademark hyperkinetic delivery." He goes on to say that the "quirky lyric doesn't go for the wit as past hits have, but it still captures the band's friendly side, which had earned it a strong cult following long before it tore up the charts."[2]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Pinch Me", directed by Phil Harder, features Robertson as a fast food worker while the other band members and several extras are customers. Page also acts as the restaurant's mascot in some shots. The treatment was written by Page. The logo for the restaurant is a thumbs-up logo, which is played in the video by showing the logo upside down in several shots as a thumbs-down. The video echoes the message of depression inherent in the song as Robertson's character seems depressed in his work. Actor Eric McCormack has a cameo in the video as a customer. He happened to be on the lot in which the video was being shot, and since he was a fan, they let him be in the video. The customers in the video are dressed like Steve Burns from Blue's Clues. During the first chorus, it reveals that Kevin Hearn, the band's keyboardist is playing a Wurlitzer electric piano.

Charts[edit]

Chart (2000) Peak
position
Canadian Singles Chart 4
UK Singles Chart 28
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 15
U.S. Billboard Top 40 Mainstream 15
U.S. Billboard Top 40 Tracks 11
U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 30
U.S. Billboard Adult Top 40 2

References[edit]

  1. ^ Soundcloud.com
  2. ^ Billboard, August 12, 2000 - Vol. 112, No. 33, Page 57.

External links[edit]