The middle eight has been a mainstay of Tin Pan Alley and popular songwriting generally for well over a century. To what can we attribute the durability of this scheme? In all honesty, the bridge can be downright perfunctory if not distractingly bad. But when those eight bars are right, they can elevate a song from good to great. Here are a few of my favorite eight-bar asides:
Bob Dylan – “I Want You” from Blonde on Blonde (1966): “All my fathers, they’ve gone down…”, This is a textbook middle-eight. It feels neither routine nor out of place and features some of Dylan’s most poignant lyrics.
The Beatles – “You Can’t Do That” from A Hard Day’s Night (1964): “Everybody’s greeeee-eeeen…”, I love the harmonies here. Like all truly great mid-eights, this one could quite possibly have been another fantastic song altogether.
Elvis Costello – “Welcome to the Working Week” from My Aim Is True (1977): “I hear you saying that the city’s alright…”, Though it clocks in at 1:23, this feels longer than it is because it’s so bursting with ideas. It sets the frenetic pace for the best album of 1977 (apologies to the Clash and Television).
Posted by Jordy