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Old 08-25-2019, 11:33 AM
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American Pie, keep the rye but hold the whiskey. Recording oddity


I was listening to this very cool isolated vocal and bass track of American Pie:

american pie isolated bass and vox

The bass lines are fast and cool all the way through (either the guy was playing with a pick or had lightning fingers).
But something strange stands out: whenever the chorus comes around and Don McLean starts singing about "And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye" the word whiskey has been absolutely surgically removed, just like a word sliced out of a document by a censor's razor blade. You can even see on the Audacity waveform that it's completely dead at that moment (particularly in the slow first and last chorus).

Why would this be the case? It's a full length recording of the song, already guaranteed to have copyright claims against it, so I can't imagine any YouTube shenanigans going on here.

Any thoughts on why this was done? Was it the YouTube uploader or someone back in the early 70s who did this?
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Old 08-25-2019, 01:33 PM
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Well, unless there's some track bleed going on (I can hear acoustic guitar faintly), he doesn't have a copy of the master and this isolated track is made by subtractive methods on things that are in both channels of the recordings. Here's a tutorial doing it one way in Audacity: https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/...isolation.html

So, it's probably an artifact of the method used to isolate the tracks.
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Old 08-25-2019, 02:10 PM
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IIMHO, not a chance of it just being an artifact. This was intentional.

Every single chorus he sings "And them good old boys were drinking __________ and rye"

First chorus
Second chorus
Third chorus
Fourth chorus
Fifth chorus
Final chorus

I'm kind of wondering if the word was recorded differently in the original recording, and they put in the "whiskey" that we are familiar with in post.

(IMHO, this came from a proper copy of an old-school multitrack tape, it was way too crisp. The bleed through was from adjacent tracks on the tape. Audacity filtering tricks can't make something so clean as this especially when separating bass.)
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Old 08-25-2019, 02:30 PM
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I agree with minor7flat5. A multitrack source is a must for this quality and separation. If whoever mixed this particular bass+voices version wanted to, they could easily remove the vocals during the "whiskey" word without affecting the bass.

As to why censor only "whiskey," I can't imagine. "Rye" is OK, whiskey is not?

But I am puzzled by something else...an original multitrack recording is unlikely to include any echo, yet I hear a very small amount on the vocals. That could have been added by the (recent) mixer, but why? Is this intended to be a bass instruction lesson with maybe a little echo just made it sound more "normal"?
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Old 08-25-2019, 02:32 PM
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It's probably not the dry original master, but could very well be something further along in the mix.

You are correct, this is for bassists, and the vocals are just there to give us something to hang our hat on as we follow through the bass line.
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Old 08-25-2019, 02:33 PM
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Interesting. I’ve always wondered about that line, as rye is (a type of) whiskey, so it’d be like singing “wine and Bordeaux” or “lager and beer” (if you reverse the order to preserve meter). But, hey, it’s just a song. If there were different lyrics, I’d be curious about that.
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Old 08-25-2019, 02:36 PM
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It's like they recorded "good ol' boys were drinking Coke and rye" and later they decided they couldn't for copyright or something.

It's pretty common for some people to have access to the original tracks. An example is Rick Beato on youtube. Check out his "What Makes This Song Great" series.

On preview, yes Musicat, the "original tracks" I hear from Beato have lots of post processing on them.
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Old 08-25-2019, 02:47 PM
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On preview, yes Musicat, the "original tracks" I hear from Beato have lots of post processing on them.
I'm not saying it's impossible, but in my studio experience, not common to include echo on individual master tracks, for the simple reason that you can always add echo later, but not easily remove it later. As minor7flat5 suggests, maybe these aren't "true" originals?
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Old 08-25-2019, 03:57 PM
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Huh, what is this?

Sure he says Whisky, no mistake whatsoever.

The version you link to has it edited out, is this some sort of woosh?
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Old 08-25-2019, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by minor7flat5 View Post
The bass lines are fast and cool all the way through (either the guy was playing with a pick or had lightning fingers).
Eh, as a bassist I'll agree that it sounds as if it was played with a pick, based solely on the "attack" of each note. But there's nothing about that bass line that an intermediate player couldn't play with their fingers.


As for the obvious edit, I suppose it's possible that these tracks are from a version of the song intended for release in a jurisdiction that didn't allow drug and alcohol references on-air. I've heard classic rock tracks that mention a specific drug getting the word edited out when the station airs the song before 10PM. Or perhaps it was used in a children's movie.


As for why they'd cut "whiskey" but not "rye", this could again be a version of the song intended for a child audience. I was a child myself when I first heard the song, and while I knew that "whiskey" was an alcoholic beverage, I didn't know the same for "rye". I only knew of rye as a kind of bread or cracker, and recall wondering how one would drink it.
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Old 08-25-2019, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Mister Rik View Post
As for the obvious edit, I suppose it's possible that these tracks are from a version of the song intended for release in a jurisdiction that didn't allow drug and alcohol references on-air. I've heard classic rock tracks that mention a specific drug getting the word edited out when the station airs the song before 10PM. Or perhaps it was used in a children's movie.
I had a recording of American Pie that I'd made in college, dubbed from a mix tape that my roommate had. His recording, in turn, had been dubbed from a mix tape that one of his brothers had made, while he was in Spain, and had recorded it off of the radio.

Apparently, at that time, there was a law there against mentioning God in a song, or something along those lines. So, the line in the final verse, "The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost" was bleeped out entirely. (Edit: it may be that the line was seen as potentially in violation of Spain's blasphemy laws.)

So, I suppose that it's possible that "whiskey" got removed from a dub of the song for similar reasons.

Last edited by kenobi 65; 08-25-2019 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 08-25-2019, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Mister Rik View Post
Eh, as a bassist I'll agree that it sounds as if it was played with a pick, based solely on the "attack" of each note. But there's nothing about that bass line that an intermediate player couldn't play with their fingers..
Most of the song is intermediate level, though it would be quite a workout, but there are moments that I think only a pick would work.

For example, right here

"Fast.....It landed foul on the grass"

During the word "grass" the bassist plays a lick on the Em chord: 4th slide 5th, b7, R-b7-5th. It's not a rare or complex lick, but he plays it really fast and super crisp. No way I could play that crisply plucking each note--I would have to do a hammer-on/pull off.

Last edited by minor7flat5; 08-25-2019 at 05:41 PM.
  #13  
Old 08-25-2019, 06:18 PM
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Huh, what is this?

Sure he says Whisky, no mistake whatsoever.

The version you link to has it edited out, is this some sort of woosh?
No woosh.
I wouldn't ask the question if it were someone's random posting of the track off of the LP or CD.

But this was something that was clearly from a studio tape, with individual tracks isolated. Why would that word get clipped out so precisely in a studio multitrack tape?
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Old 08-25-2019, 08:13 PM
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Was the song ever used in something like the Guitar Hero or Rock Band (was that the name?) games? I know a lot of isolated tracks on YouTube come from those.
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Old 08-26-2019, 05:05 PM
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As a fellow bassist I too was intrigued by the question of how those notes were articulated. So I asked the most knowledgable bassist I know, Bruce Thomas, to weigh in. (He played for many years with a rather well-known singer...let's call him "Ennis Castillo.") Saith Bruce:

Quote:
To be honest, I can play that lick fingerstyle. There's also the possibility that the bass tack has been varispeeded -- ie played slower and sped back up -- because it all sounds too strictly crisp and neat to me.
I have no doubt that he could, in fact, play the lick fingerstyle. I myself tried and failed.
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Old 08-26-2019, 05:06 PM
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Or maybe it would be more accurate to say I failed to play it with that same crisp articulation. It's easy to play by doing a pull-off, but then you don't get that same distinct attack on each individual note.
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Old 08-26-2019, 05:50 PM
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Was the song ever used in something like the Guitar Hero or Rock Band (was that the name?) games? I know a lot of isolated tracks on YouTube come from those.
Yep. The word 'whiskey' is missing from Band Hero. That's just absurd.
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Old 08-26-2019, 06:23 PM
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Yep. The word 'whiskey' is missing from Band Hero. That's just absurd.
Huh. Nice find. How bizarre to censor "whiskey" and not "rye," (I mean, if you're gonna be dumb and censor it for whatever reason) but I guess either the censors didn't know what rye was or figured nobody else would. Weird.

Last edited by pulykamell; 08-26-2019 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 08-26-2019, 06:54 PM
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It's like they recorded "good ol' boys were drinking Coke and rye" and later they decided they couldn't for copyright or something.
Pepsi and rye? Whiskey and lye?

I agree "whiskey and rye" doesn't make much sense, and I fully endorse this conspiracy theory.
  #20  
Old 08-26-2019, 07:28 PM
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Pepsi and rye? Whiskey and lye?

I agree "whiskey and rye" doesn't make much sense, and I fully endorse this conspiracy theory.
McLean's original handwritten lyrics (scroll down) sold at auction for $1.2 million at auction in 2015, and it's indeed whiskey and rye. Eh, he needed 'rye' for the rhyme. Weirdly, the line 'and the banjo rang while the people sang' was originally part of the chorus. I'm glad that got chopped.
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Old 08-26-2019, 07:37 PM
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McLean's original handwritten lyrics (scroll down) sold at auction for $1.2 million at auction in 2015, and it's indeed whiskey and rye. Eh, he needed 'rye' for the rhyme. Weirdly, the line 'and the banjo rang while the people sang' was originally part of the chorus. I'm glad that got chopped.
Aha, but someone paid 1.2 million dollars specifically so you would believe this. It goes all the way to the top.
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Old 08-26-2019, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Mister Rik View Post
Was the song ever used in something like the Guitar Hero or Rock Band (was that the name?) games? I know a lot of isolated tracks on YouTube come from those.
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Yep. The word 'whiskey' is missing from Band Hero. That's just absurd.
Very cool!

I was not very optimistic about this question, but you guys found it.
I guess that as a total non-gamer I ought to be thankful for the various Guitar Hero style games because they apparently help isolated bass tracks find their way out of the vault, and if there's one thing that makes a bassist smile, it's finding an isolated studio bass track for a song he or she admires.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamoral View Post
As a fellow bassist I too was intrigued by the question of how those notes were articulated. So I asked the most knowledgable bassist I know, Bruce Thomas, to weigh in. (He played for many years with a rather well-known singer...let's call him "Ennis Castillo.") Saith Bruce:
[...]
I have no doubt that he could, in fact, play the lick fingerstyle. I myself tried and failed.
I'm glad I'm not the only one. Surely there are loads of solid working bassists out there who could play that crisp lick at speed all day with two fingers, but I can't do any better than a pull-off.
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Old 08-26-2019, 10:19 PM
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Very cool!

I was not very optimistic about this question, but you guys found it.
I guess that as a total non-gamer I ought to be thankful for the various Guitar Hero style games because they apparently help isolated bass tracks find their way out of the vault, and if there's one thing that makes a bassist smile, it's finding an isolated studio bass track for a song he or she admires.I'm glad I'm not the only one. Surely there are loads of solid working bassists out there who could play that crisp lick at speed all day with two fingers, but I can't do any better than a pull-off.
I learned about the Guitar Hero et al isolated tracks through the Rush Tablature Project, a group of fans/players working together to transcribe the complete works of Rush. Some of them discovered the separate tracks in the game for a few songs, and they were promptly studied and used to make corrections to some of the tabs in the archive.
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Old 08-27-2019, 02:47 AM
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This made me think of the PAPA ROACH song "My Last Resort" from c. (2000)- I had heard it many times on radio with no edits, but when I saw it on the Canadian Mtv-like channel MUCH MUSIC, there were unusual edits (to me) that I had not heard elsewhere. From Wikipedia: "On the MuchMusic version--which utilizes the radio edit, the word "f*ck" is completely removed with no replacement. On the MTV and Vevo version, the words "cut", "bleeding", "die", "life" (from the line "if I took my life tonight"), and "suicide" were also muted. After original airings of the video on television, some networks went so far as to additionally censor words such as "suffocation", and even the title of the song itself." It was the "the title of the song itself" that I remember standing out to me as being muted. I can't recall many other songs or videos with this much blanking of words.
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Old 08-27-2019, 05:54 AM
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Huh. Nice find. How bizarre to censor "whiskey" and not "rye," (I mean, if you're gonna be dumb and censor it for whatever reason) but I guess either the censors didn't know what rye was or figured nobody else would. Weird.
Censorship doesn't follow the rules of logic.
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Old 08-27-2019, 03:32 PM
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Censorship doesn't follow the rules of logic.
Always bugged me when they started censoring the word "masturbation" in Green Day's "Longview." I could swear they didn't bleep it out when it first came out, or at least the radio station I listened to didn't play an edit with the "masturbation" cut out (but they did cut out the "fuckin'" from "fuckin'" lonely.) I mean, what the hell? What's wrong with the word "masturbation"? Christ, "I Touch Myself" got non-stop radio play in the early 90s, but say the word "masturbation" and it's cut right out. I guess you can sing about it, just don't say what "it" is. As you said, censorship doesn't follow logic.

Last edited by pulykamell; 08-27-2019 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 08-30-2019, 01:43 AM
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Wow, gotta come back and eat crow. I was operating an electronic wrongluator, apparently.

In my defense, yeah, that's a bizarre act of censoring, exposing the ignorance of the censors in great relief. Aside from convention around what grain is used, rye is the same damn thing as whiskey, you nitwits. I'm gonna spend a little more and get some nice rye this Labor Day weekend, because somehow it's not as risque as whiskey.
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Old 09-02-2019, 06:23 AM
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Although my guess is censorship, for a specific release, I also believe that 'American Pie' was mixed as lots and lots of bits and pieces. McLean never liked singing it 'straight'. By the time he was singing it in concert, most of the people had already heard it as many times as he had sung it, and liked the way he swung it and jazzed it. But when it was originally recorded, it was re-recorded over and over, with him singing it differently each time, until the producer had enough pieces to make a plain vanilla version.
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Old 09-02-2019, 07:48 AM
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As a fellow bassist I too was intrigued by the question of how those notes were articulated. So I asked the most knowledgable bassist I know, Bruce Thomas, to weigh in. (He played for many years with a rather well-known singer...let's call him "Ennis Castillo.") Saith Bruce:



I have no doubt that he could, in fact, play the lick fingerstyle. I myself tried and failed.
You know Bruce Thomas?? <faints dead away> Well, he probably won't care, but he's my favorite bassist. His parts are always interesting and melodic. His work on the first 4 or 5 Attractions albums was amazing.

More of a hijack, but when I picked up Hey Ya for Rocksmith, they bleeped out the last word in the line "I want to make you come-a". My son, who was probably sixteen at the time had never even thought of that as a dirty lyric until they bleeped it out, and then the penny dropped. So, bleeping it made it dirtier in a way.
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Old 09-02-2019, 07:58 AM
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Although my guess is censorship, for a specific release, I also believe that 'American Pie' was mixed as lots and lots of bits and pieces. McLean never liked singing it 'straight'. By the time he was singing it in concert, most of the people had already heard it as many times as he had sung it, and liked the way he swung it and jazzed it. But when it was originally recorded, it was re-recorded over and over, with him singing it differently each time, until the producer had enough pieces to make a plain vanilla version.
I've heard he will even sing entirely different lyrics that reference Star Wars.

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Old 09-02-2019, 08:13 AM
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I think that might be Weird Al's masterpiece, in terms of just making it all work and telling the entire Episode 1 story. Just amazing.

Anyway, someone created a Rocksmith version of American Pie if you want to try it for yourself:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrQfoIlWuz8
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Old 09-02-2019, 12:01 PM
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I think that might be Weird Al's masterpiece, in terms of just making it all work and telling the entire Episode 1 story. Just amazing.
Honestly, the most impressive thing about it is that he wrote it before the movie came out.


From Wikipedia:


Set to the tune of Don McLean's "American Pie", "The Saga Begins" recounts the plot of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, from Obi-Wan Kenobi's point of view. Yankovic gathered most of the information he needed to write the song from Internet spoilers.[2] Although Lucasfilm declined a request for an advance screening, Yankovic eventually attended a costly pre-screening for charity.[2] He had done such an accurate job with the story line that after the pre-screening, he ended up making only very minor alterations.
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Old 09-09-2019, 09:29 PM
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I was thinking that maybe he originally named a brand like "Jim Beam" and wasn't allowed to use it in the song.
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