“Eulogy”

“Eulogy” is the shortest song on Strawberry Alarm Clock‘s 1968 album The World In A Sea Shell and one of the album’s more daring sonic sculptures. It has a mid-tempo pace, an opaque sheen to the vocal chorale, and some striking tonal dissonance in its sneaky chord changes. A fat, distorted electric guitar line is a main feature of the backing track, as is often the case with SAC songs.

The Oedipal/coming-of-age lyrics

The lyrics seem at first to discuss an unfortunate love triangle, but are eventually revealed to be an unusual Oedipus-esque-cum-childlike letter to departed parents. Here, the son (singing the song) seems to be somewhat jealous of his mom’s attention to his father, but then the father dies and the son sees, in her grief, the strength that had defined the bond between his parents. The mother is evidently gone too, as suggested by the song’s final lines:

“Mom and dad
How I miss you both”

(Not many more details than that are immediately apparent; it is, after all, the album’s shortest song at just under two minutes.)

The strange dissonance of the music

So the song’s poetry is mildly interesting (certainly out of the ordinary in a SAC kind of way), but the real thing worth noticing in “Eulogy”, besides the great electric guitar, is the strange off-key ringing throughout the verses; for most of the chord changes, a keyboard tone sounds a single note, but it isn’t always in harmony with the actual chord — just out of reach, in fact. It’s the kind of mistake-on-purpose that bands, in this writer’s opinion, don’t turn to often enough. A little dissonance is a good thing when used effectively, and it certainly is here. The effect in “Eulogy” is pretty great, and definitely distracting — ‘great’ and ‘distracting’ being characteristics of good psychedelic music in general.

Otherwise, “Eulogy” recalls some of the bolder experiments on Wake Up… It’s Tomorrow (1968), not surprising as drummer Randy Seol co-wrote the song. A self-consciously psychedelic mélange of crazy ideas, “Eulogy” is deceptively simple upon first listen, even as it ends with a very unusual and disorienting warbling sound effect that leads directly into the album’s last song, “Shallow Impressions”.

Appears on

LP: The World In A Sea Shell (1968)

Right now on eBay: Strawberry Alarm Clock

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