Back in the sixth grade when I began playing percussion in the elementary band, there was one pre-requisite. You had to have previous experience with piano lessons. Thankfully, my parents tortured me with five excruciating years of ivory tickles. In band, I specialized in the snare drum, crash cymbals and the gong. In addition to hitting things that make loud noises, I had to practice mallet instruments – the bells, xylophone, marimba, etc.
Needless to say, I did not did not excel at the mallet instruments. The only song I learned was “Girls,” by the Beastie Boys.
Recently my uncle and I meandered into a conversation about pop songs that featured mallet instruments. He clued me into Ruth Underwood, who played the marimba, xylophone and other percussion instruments for Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.
With too much time on my hands, I compiled a list of my top 5 songs featuring mallet instruments.
Without further ado:
5) “Gone Daddy Gone,” by the Violent Femmes. Possibly the greatest xylophone solo in pop music history.
3) “Girls” by the Beastie Boys. The Beasties will disown this song today, but it features a xylophone lick that you won’t get out of your head.
3) “It’s the Same Old Song,” by The Four Tops. Cooler than cool, the hip jive during the breakdown gives me chills.
2) “Under My Thumb,” by The Rolling Stones. According to Wikipedia, Brian Jones plays the marimba part.
1) “Everyday,” by Buddy Holly. This song is brilliant in every way and after three beers I would heatedly argue that this is the greatest pop songs ever.
There you have it. If there are songs you feel were slighted, please leave a comment below.
Addendum: Somehow I forgot to include “No Surprises” by Radiohead.
Also, here is the 2011 one-hit wonder by Gotye, “Somebody that I used to Know.” It’s my karaoke jam when a duet is needed.