Come out and play!
Bread. So corny... almost single handedly responsible for the soft rock movement in the 70's. Spawning the Air Supplys and John Ford Colleys and Lobos of the world. But Bread, and David Gates... these guys were special. The thought that went into those melodies, those chords, and... those arrangements. The simple bending of traditional structure. Taking minimal material, a couple verses, some simple lines for a chorus, and then presenting those wonderful tunes... it's enough to break my preteen heart. And it did. I hear Bread and all the early crushes and longing come back. But listen now with an analytical ear.
We're in A, but it sounds like the guitar is playing the D chord shape so I'm guessing a capo at the 7th? Makes it sound like a harpsichord, something pop music had been getting some of just a few years prior.
The guitar plays a 1 bar little figure that just hangs on A, 2 times, 2 bars total.
Note the guitar just pedals that little figure staying away from the low tonic note, letting the bass do its descending line we all know and love. A, A/G#, A/F#, A/E... D, Dm, A/E, E... at which point the guitar plays a high E, highlighting E in the bass on the A chord, stays there as the chords goes to an E proper. A/E, E... and let's repeat the whole thing 1 more time. Before moving on... look at the melody. Besides the nice note choices and the brilliant melodic rhythm, just note the overall structure.
You sheltered me from harm
>Kept me warm
>Kept me warm
You gave my life to me
>Set me free
>Set me free
I simple statement, answered and reinforced by 2 little pushes of agreement, kept me warm, kept me warm. I love just that.
Bm, D, E. That Bm is the perfect pre chord. The ii. If it hasn't been heard yet, like here, it really says, "I'm really getting ready to make my point, pay attention!"
The finest years I ever knew
were all the years I had with you
Prior to the pre, we've only we've only heard a guitar, voice and bass. But now on The finest years...on that 1, we hear the drummer really dig in on the ride cymbal's bell, DING! and a Nashville strung acoustic guitar is added up the middle really getting aggressive with the strumming pattern in a cool way, yet compressed and tucked back to not overwhelm... and then the drum fill... that drummer? That's Mike Botts. he played the tubs on Andrew Gold's Lonely Boy. Another great soft rock groove.
Just listen to the groove in that chorus for a second... the 16th note pick ups before the 1 and 3 kick. Annie 1... Annie 3... great simple groove. Where'd he get that?!?!
:A, Bm E, D: < right? Just a simple progression but... after the build up, it's a wonderful release. Something to note. When Gates sings I would give AN-ything I own. He's on the D chord and he's singing a D note. But on the "AN' of anything, they go to the A chord. And he still sings the D note, resolving of course, but for a second, that longing and Gates insistence of what he'd do for her, that D on a A chord while the note value is longer that we've heard... wow, I think I beleive him. The increasing of the pace for "Give up my". Well, not really a pace increase as much as the consonants really firing off the tongue to make the point. G-ive uP!. A hint of strings to bring out the chords of the guitar nicely. But we really don't hear an orchestra. Sublimanal strings. We repeat the chords once, twice, thrice and... why would you do all that David? ...just to have you back again. As everything goes away but the sustaining guitar's D chord and the resolution back to A. At which point we get 1 bar of intro guitar playing a slightly different figure.