I once read somewhere that there are two types of people in this world. People who get Cake, and people who don't get Cake. I think that is pretty damn true. Count me as one who gets Cake. I absolutely love the stripped down approach the band takes to their music. Raw, reverb-free guitar and vocals that are spoken as much as sung. Trumpet, surprisingly funky drum work, deft bass work and tasteful keyboard all add up to an eclectic mix. To me, they are like a Wes Anderson film. Let's say...The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou. Not for everyone, but quite rewarding for those whose humor and tastes happen to match up with the art nicely.
The Sacramento band broke nationally with their excellent 1996 album, Fashion Nugget. That nearly flawless album featured the excellent break-out hit, The Distance. It was the song that got them out of the KDVS play rotation and onto MTV. Right after that song, comes a very different song on the album: Friend Is A Four Letter Word. It's our SoTW. The song was written by singer John McCrea. What grabs me most about this song are the spartan lyrics. Quite frankly, they never fail to get my attention with their twist of word play and restraint. it says so much with so little.
To me, coming from you.Friend is a four letter word.End is the only part of the word, that I heard.Call me morbid, or absurd,But to me, coming from youFriend is a four letter word.
There isn't much more. But one doesn't need more. I think it speaks volumes on it's own. Former guitarist Greg Brown (who, incidentally, wrote The Distance) plays extremely tasteful guitar work with a tone that quickly identifies the band as Cake. It's a tone born from a 1960s Guild Starfire III (think The Kinks) run thru a distortion pedal run through a 1960s Sears Silvertone amp. It's a great, distinctive sound, and Brown gets all the props in the world from me for going a very different direction from most other guitarists. Vincent di Fiore's trumpet work adds a wonderful latin tone to the song.
On a side note, someone once informed me that Cake opened for my band, The Lionhearted. It was back in 1991 at a house party for a cool gal named Michelle Piniera. I honestly do not remember that. I was even told by someone else that Greg Brown paid special attention to the use of our Silvertone Aristocrat guitar and Vox amps. Again, I don't recall this and have only the vaguest memory of the show at all. If anyone on this blog recalls this or can confirm it, please do so.