MI0000049749We did the Rude Food Fiesta a couple of summer’s back. Being asked to perform is always a pleasure, but when we heard from the people organising this gig, Ian felt obliged to go the extra mile and sort out some songs we hadn’t played before . . . Some of them were great, some less so and a couple made it into Book 5. Add It Up was one of them.

I hadn’t heard this song before and knew almost nothing about the band and their other songs. Seeing it for the first time, I was wary – just two chords and even just one chord shape shifted up a couple of frets didn’t fill me with much confidence. I enjoy the versatility of the ukulele and how a song with many chords like Space Oddity or Birdhouse In Your Soul become possible through the simplicity of just four strings. This seemed a bit too simple for my liking, too monotonous . . . too easy.

But we went through it. Once.

Once was all we needed – it was sensational. A chorus of voices herald the opening strains of the song in a lazy, unfixed timing. It sounds quite folk-y if you want it to and haven’t heard it before. Then a tap of a four-beat to get everyone on tempo, the B B A B chord sequence begins, never to rest until the end. The lyrics are desperate, frustrated, self-deprecating even . . . and they launch from the first line with an angst-ridden question, “Why can’t I get just one kiss?”. It‘s raw. Shameful. Brutally honest. The song demands aggression in its delivery until it suddenly breaks down into a muted acceptance and understanding – “I know you got problems, you’re not the only one”

Again, pressure builds and emotions flare into an instrumental until a second chance to take stock, share the experience and attempt one final ploy to grasp and reach for a leg of hope. And then, the ultimatum . . . giving you a decision to make. A final moment to take stock . . . a pause in the strumming to deliver the message . . .

. . . and the song reaches its destination by belting out the title repeatedly. It carries on over the final onslaught of the chorus. The pace is frenetic and the energy intoxicating. A final chord measure played tremolo (if you can) before a final single strum chord to cut the song off, pulling the plug to kill it off instantly.

I love it. There’s an awesome collaboration when we play this – from the opening a capella where we look around at each other to get the timing right, to the natural rhythm of the strumming pattern that kicks in, the breakdown, the muted strumming, the slow build, the crescendo and yes, alright then, the letting down of the hair and the head-banging! Its utter simplicity allows you the free reign to get drunk on the song’s intent and carry you off for the 4 minute journey it takes you.

We’ve used this song to start many a gig and to finish many a Thursday night. Not many songs fit that category.


You can play this yourself just by looking at the chords,  or you can listen to us beat it like a dangerous dog via Soundcloud.