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The first thing to do here is pity the piano. Wrobbel obviously sees the piano as a rhythm instrument. Formal training might have taught him not to pound a piano so hard but then we wouldn’t have this gem of a song. There is, in fact, a lot of rock-’n’-roll we wouldn’t have were it not for the legacy of unschooled piano-pounding that traces back to Jerry Lee Lewis.
This is a new recording of a song written when Wrobbel was just 19. It has never been previously recorded. The story: Wrobbel’s songwriting career had fallen flat upon his move to Nashville at 18 in the early 1970s. Let's let him tell the rest of the story--as he did in a 2018 interview:
“When I went to Nashville in 1972, I hoped to hone my songwriting skills and get some songs cut. Make my way in the world. But there it seemed that everyone I met was way more advanced at songwriting and had the connections necessary to get them heard and it intimidated me. It was really intimidating to me. I couldn’t co-write, which was the normal way of breaking in, because I basically couldn’t keep up. And as to the connections, I saw that those came at a price I was unwilling to pay--it required an endless “hanging around” that my ambitious nature simply couldn’t abide. I had to be doing something. So on my own I started to try and write country songs. That proved very difficult because all the songs on country radio then were “life experience” songs and I didn’t have much life experience. And certainly not country-music-style life experience. I’d never driven a truck, or crawled out of a honky-tonk at 3 A.M., or gotten divorced. None of that stuff. So after struggling with that for months and generally writing little, I remember I wrote ‘Someone Shook My Life’ as ME--for ME--and not trying to be somebody else or write for somebody else. You should write about what you know--that’s what they say, right? And it had been since ‘And It's Over,’ [song from 1971, written before Wrobbel’s move to Nashville] I think, that I had done that. It felt good. The song WANTED to be written, you know? But of course it had even less of a chance of commercial success, if indeed anything could have less of a chance than the drivel I was attempting to write in the country genre. Still, I wonder. Had I known anyone with real vision back then they might have recognized the obvious value in ‘Someone Shook.’ Not that anyone had the opportunity. I was so intimidated in those days I doubt I played the song for anyone.”
So there you have it. As far as the song having “obvious value” or of anyone with vision being able to see said value, both suggestions remain unproven. You, dear listener, be the judge.
About the Song
The lyric expresses exaltation at young and new love as manifested in a kind of religious fervor on the eve of Christmas. When I questioned the author about some of the details in the song I got the “I’ll let the song speak for itself” look in return and little else. He did share a kind of clarifying structural detail: the song’s time frame is a two-day period and “happy anniversary” in the lyric refers both to the anniversary of Christmas’s namesake and to the one-day anniversary of the new love that is the song’s subject. This song expresses feelings around this young love quite palpably, if not specifically. There’s an emotional authenticity to it. Most such songs are written by older writers in hindsight and lack such “in the moment” authenticity, but here--because the writer was so young--you have a contemporaneously written account expressed with all the power of an eyewitness too overwhelmed and too naive to be anything but honest. Though Wrobbel was a good deal older at the time of this recording, the song’s power is undiminished.
About Eric Wrobbel
This songwriter, artist, musician and humorist has written and produced hundreds of interesting tracks for himself and others in his long, eclectic career. Rarely performing live, he has almost exclusively focused his musical efforts as a studio artist, working in a wide range of styles that have variously been described as rock, folk, country, psych, humor, and pop.
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