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I was listening to The Black Keys’ 2002 album The Big Come Up album today and I heard the lyric “…Gotta keep it hid” in the song ‘Leavin Trunk’. This caught my attention. It’s not the most common lyric or phrasing. I obviously picked up on it in light of Dan Auerbach’s recent 2009 ‘Keep It Hid’ song and album of the same name which also uses the line “…Gotta keep it hid”.

I needed to do some further investigation. The appearance of the ‘keep it hid’ lyric seemed to be more than coincidence.

When I looked at the lyrics of the respective songs I was again surprised. The songs are relatively similar in their subject matter – a man on the run wanting to impress his sweetheart. ‘Keep It Hid’ almost reads like ‘Leavin Trunk – Part 2’.

Many of Dan’s lyrics revolve around this lurking dark side which we’ve previously covered on The Black Keys Fan Lounge.

The original lyrics to Leavin Trunk were written as ‘Milk Cow Blues’ by blues singer Sleepy John Estes (1899 – 1977). The song became a bit of a blues standard when it was adapted and recorded as Leavin Trunk by Taj Mahal amongst many others. The Leavin Trunk lyrics were then shortened and recorded by The Black Keys.

I find this all very interesting.

Dan has always been very up front about his influences and style. Clearly he continues to mine a rich vein of inspiration through these influences, musical styles and themes from his first album lyrics through to his most recent. In so doing he places himself into the blues musical lineage of those he admires.

When you listen to the respective songs performed the musical similarities are also quite notable. Not only do the lyrics in ‘Keep It Hid’ seem derived from the theme in ‘Leavin Trunk’, so does the musical composition.

What do you think?

Leavin Trunk Lyrics by The Black Keys

Goin’ upstairs to pack my leavin’ trunk
I ain’t seen no whiskey
woman make me sloppy
Ain’t seen no whisky
woman made me drunk
Goin’ back home where I had much better luck
Look here darling
want me to be your king
Said you’re kiddin’ darling
gotta keep it hid
Don’t let your main man
your husband catch me here
Don’t let your main man
your husband catch me here

Keep It Hid Lyrics by Dan Auerbach

Lock the door and close the blinds
They’re coming for me girl and I ain’t got time
If they ask you, darlin’, oh about what I did
Baby you gotta keep it hid
I’m heading south, and I can’t say where
But I’ll phone you baby soon as I get there
They’re not gonna seal my coffin lid’
Cause you’re gonna keep it hid
(Bridge)
Well Big Sue knew but she don’t no more
If you know what I mean
They’ll never find what they’re looking for’
Cause you’re my tight-lipped queen
I’ll buy you a dress, a nice handmade piece
And send your Mom on a vacation to Greece
If you’re an auction, oh I’m the highest bid
Oh baby, ’cause you’re gonna keep it hid

Leavin Trunk by The Black Keys

Keep It Hid by Dan Auerbach

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Recently this site posted about songs covered by The Black Keys. For good measure I thought it would be good to document other Black Keys songs that are otherwise known as rarities, un-released tracks or b sides.

Some of these are also cover songs.

I’ve used uploaded versions of the songs to YouTube since they are accessible and fans can listen to them at least. Obviously the original tracks are in some cases rare or difficult to purchase legally, so I’m not interested in promoting illegal download versions. There’s only a couple of tracks listed here you can’t listen to.

For anyone interested in the full Black Keys discography check out Eil.com.

Evil – appeared on the ‘Set You Free’ Australian 3 track single (1993)

Here I Am I Always Am – Captain Beefheart cover from the 7 inch vinyl US release of  the ‘I Got Mine’ single

The Way I Feel When I’m With You – B side for the ‘You’re The One’  single

Summertime Blues – B side for the ’10am Automatic’ single

Funk 49 – James Gang cover, live track

Something On Your Mind – appeared on the 7 inch vinyl US release of  ‘Attack and Release’

Goin’ Down South – RL Burnside cover, live track

Flash Of Silver – B side for the ‘Till I get My Way’ single

Stay All Night – track from the Chulahoma sessions on the ‘Causes1’ compilation for Darfur

Can’t Find My Mind – The Cramps cover from the He Put The Bomp compilation

If You Ever Slip – The Hottest State soundtrack

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If you’re heading to Akron, Ohio, and you are a fan of The Black Keys make your trip even more memorable by seeing some significant points of interest related to the band there.

Use this Google Map I’ve created which has venues, sites, and notable places related to The Black Keys plotted on it. These places were either referenced by Dan and Pat in interviews or are on the public record as being connected to the band.

Akron is, of course, where Dan and Pat were born and grew up. Along with Robert Quine, Chrissie Hynde and Devo, The Black Keys are notable Akron musical exports. Dan and Pat have always been staunch supporters of the town and continue to live and work there.

As Pat explained in an interview about why he identifies with and is proud to say he’s from Akron:

Well, Akron is our home. It’s where all of our friends are. We do that because places like Akron get written off. I don’t think you can’t truly appreciate Akron until you have either lived here or at least been here. It’s not one of those cities where people are waiting in line to come visit. That’s why we like Akron. It’s not flashy. There are lots of cool things, but you just need to know where to go. Because of that, nothing ever changes, which is cool.

The map is a work in progress so if you have suggestions or alterations to places marked on the map I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment on this post or on the map

The map is freely accessible so it should in time become a resource for all Black Keys fans as more points of interest are added.

A small selection of the points presently marked on the map include:

– Dan and Pat’s High School

– Audio Eagle Records, Pat’s record label

– Where the sculpture for the inflatable Indian Head stage prop used by the band on tour can be seen

– The restaurant where Pat once worked as a line cook

Click on the map image to link through to the Google Map:

the black keys akron ohio google map

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This is a post by Black Keys fan Jade Luber who regularly contibutes. All opinions are her own.

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In the post The Best Black Keys Song Lyrics it was noted pretty much all of Dan Auerbach’s lyrics are about life, love, or heartbreak. The Black Keys have not yet written a political song or anything expressing opinions about the state of our economy, society, or world. I relate to The Black Keys lyrics so much because they evoke a lot of personal emotion and heartache. I’d like to highlight some brilliant Black Keys lyrics and somehow justify and interpret them based on my personal experiences. Perhaps other fans can relate.

We have all been heartbroken. Usually lyricists write about what they know best – their own experiences. I’m sure we all know how it feels to be in blissful harmony with love and then all of a sudden getting betrayed. I’m sure we all know how it feels to fuck up and regret choices we made. I’m not trying to assume that all this has happened with Dan, but he sure does sing a lot about someone who hurt him through lies.

A perfect example is the song “Lies” from the Attack and Release album. The tragic irony is that even though the lyrics contain so much pain and anger, they still imply that he loves her:

Said the moon was ours
Yeah
Said the moon was ours
The hell with the day
The sunlight is always
Gonna take love away
Brings up suspicions
And alibis
But I can see blue
Tear-blinded eyes
Lies, lies, lies
Ohh, lies

Dan uses very beautiful imagery. She promised him the moon, perhaps signifying an affair, but when the sun comes out she leads her other life, having him feel alone and suspicious. However, her tears make him forgive her, and he knows that she just lies.

I got a stone
Where my heart should be
I got a stone
Where my heart should be
And nothing I do
Will make you love me
I’d leave this time
Break all my ties
Be no more
Use for any disguise
Lies, lies, lies
Ohh, lies

The stone heart signifies his numbness and utter grief. He is in so much pain because she is lying to him, but there is nothing she can do to keep her from leaving or doing what she does. If he could, he would leave and sever, so there would be no more lying for anyone.

I wanna die
Without pain
I wanna die
Oh, without pain
All this deception
I just can’t maintain
The sun, moon
The stars in the sky
It’d hurt me too bad
If you said goodbye
Lies, lies, lies
Ohh, lies

As much as he wants to let go of everything and get rid of the pain, the deception kills him. He loves her like the sun, the moon and the stars, but if she left for real, he would be devastated. Ah, lies, lies, lies…

I am simply fascinated by those lyrics. I want to share a personal experience why these lyrics mean so much to me and how I relate to them.

No one likes cheaters. Men get away with it a little more, but when women do it, they are persecuted and highly disregarded in all aspects. No one is ever right or justified when they cheat, deceiving two or even more people.

I carried a burden of my Father’s affair as a child for years before finally telling my Mom.  I have seen that men can treat women so shitty, and maybe that has obscured my view.

Perhaps because I witnessed my Dad carry his affair on, believing that she was just a “friend”, I somehow feel like all men do that and are disposable. It’s unfortunate when people are so loyal and good to others.

I do, however, believe we go through this heartache and pain to become stronger and grateful for what we have. There are, therefore, a lot of the upbeat and hopeful songs from The Black Keys too.

Each of the ‘Keys albums have at least one song about betrayal, so I shall explore more of the lyrics of those songs and how they affect me in future posts.

dan

photo: msachtler

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The musical lineage and influence of the Auerbach and Carney extended families on The Black Keys is often over looked. Until now, I don’t think I really appreciated all the connections.

It’s easy to acknowledge the mythologised road trips Dan took with his Dad to try and see Junior Kimbrough. Whilst that legacy is important, maybe we should pay more attention to the influence of Robert and James Quine on Dan’s development as a musician and guitarist.

Dan Auerbach did a lot of interviews after he released his solo album ‘Keep It Hid’. Not many were as insightful as this one. Listen to the interview here.

In a wide-ranging interview, respected Triple J radio host, Richard Kingsmill, inquired into the musical heritage of Dan’s family and unearthed interesting anecdotes about his Uncle James Quine and noted guitarist Robert Quine his first cousin once removed.

Dan’s full name is actually Daniel Quine Auerbach. The Quine family heritage stretches back via Dan’s Mother’s side of the family. They are all related to the famous analytical philosopher WV Quine (Robert’s Uncle), who was also born in Akron, OH.

In the aforementioned interview Dan tells a great anecdote of playing guitar for and with Robert Quine when he was a 16 year old. The story is even more innocent when you understand the musical legacy of Robert Quine. He was at the heart of the New York punk scene playing with everyone from Lou Reed, Richard Hell and the Voidoids through to Mathew Sweet.

I never knew that it was actually Robert Quine who laid down the instantaneously catchy guitar lines on Sweet’s song ‘Girlfriend’ (listen to it below).

As with Kimbrough, Dan never got to play with Robert Quine in a professional capacity. You can feel Dan’s lament in the interview that Robert died in 2004 just as The Black Keys were making great strides and before they had a chance to seriously play together. It would have been a raucous jam, for sure.

It’s always been too easy to pigeon hole Dan’s guitar style and The Black Keys song book as “blues rock”. Like Robert Quine, Dan has not been fearful to experiment and define his own sound, most impressively on his solo album. Robert’s influence might be reflected in the angular sounds of ‘The Breaks’, through the harsher electric sound on the Magic Potion record, while the country influence on ‘Keep It Hid’ reflects the heritage of James Quine.

James Quine, of course, accompanies Dan on the track ‘Trouble Weighs A Ton’ and took the publicity photos used for the album. He’s actually an acclaimed photographer and it’s worth checking out both his photographs and music. James is the brother of Dan’s mother.

Keeping it all in the family, let’s not forget that Dan’s father Charles Auerbach wrote the words to ‘Whispered Words’. It’s interesting to hear Dan discuss this on the interview. I’m surprised like the interviewer that he didn’t press his father for a deeper interpretation of the lyrics. Charles apparently told Dan about Jessica Lea Mayfield as well, the rest is history.

I also hear whispers that Pat Carney is recording with his Uncle Ralph Carney who helped out on The Black Keys’ Attack and release record. Pat has recently changed his MySpace page to reflect the naming “Pat and Ralph Carney” including a photo. Ralph Carney has had a long association with Tom Waits and interestingly Robert Quine played on Tom Waits’ 1985 album, ‘Rain Dogs’. Both Robert Quine and Ralph Carney have played with guitarist Marc Ribot (also of Tom Waits’ band) who also contributed to the Attack and Release album.

I loved Mathew Sweet’s ‘Girlfriend’ (with Robert Quine on guitar) when I was growing up. I also briefly studied WV Quine’s philosophy at University. Very tenuously, no wonder I like The Black Keys so much!

This version of ‘Girlfriend’ is played from the video game Guitar Hero. Can’t be too long until we hear a Black Keys song featuring on this game also. The Black Keys have after all licensed ‘Strange Times’ to be used in Grand Theft Auto 4.

Come to think of it I’d love to hear a Black Keys version of ‘Girlfriend’. Too cheesy? Maybe, but I reckon it would work.

Dan Auerbach Triple J Radio Interview:

Listen to the interview here

Mathew Sweet – ‘Girlfriend’

Dan Auerbach w/ James Quine – ‘Trouble Weighs A Ton’

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For a long time, I didn’t give The Black Keys lyrics much thought. I was all about the music. For some reason the lyrics seemed less important.

Then I found the excellent Lucid Dreams blog. Scott, who runs the site and is clearly a fan of The Black Keys,  posts a band’s lyrics with an image.  The image and words contrast and concentrate your thinking. It caused me to start looking at the lyrics of The Black Keys again.

Dan Auerbach, who writes all The Black Keys lyrics, has noted in many interviews that he is growing in confidence with his lyrics. One might even argue his recent solo album is the best example of his lyrics. In all his lyrics there’s a continual focus of loss, heartbreak, distance, girls, lurking, and being on the fringe and not fitting in. All good blues themes.

Interestingly enough I don’t think there’s one overtly political song lyric in The Black Keys’ catalogue.

As an aside, it’s quite interesting that people often quote this part of the lyric from ‘When The Lights Go Out’ on Twitter. It’s such an evocative phrase:

you know what the sun’s all about
when the lights go out

My favourite Black Keys lyrics would have to be ‘The Lengths’. Lucid Dreams has other lyrics that other’s might also consider as some of the better lyrics including ‘When The Lights Go Out’, Memories Of Night’, ‘Midnight In Her Eyes’, and ‘Elevator’ .

What are your favourite lyrics?

The Lengths

tell me where you’re goin or
what is going wrong
I felt you leavin before
you’d even gone
and hold me now
or never ever hold me again
no more talk
can take me away from this pain I’m in
see the moonlight shinin on
your window pane
see it leave you as
faithful as it came
please yourself so you
don’t have to be afraid
make amends
or carry on another way

tell me what you were thinkin
to treat somebody so
the care he took the
lengths to which he’d go
coals are hot to walk
across without your shoes
but in the end
know that you got nothin to lose

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black-squeeze-logo

The Black Squeeze are not the only band who cover Black Keys songs. The Black Squeeze, however, only play Black Keys songs.

They recently caught my eye after they uploaded live footage of themselves at Trophy’s Bar and Grill in Austin, Texas.

If you can’t see The Black Keys live I guess the next big thing is to check out a cover band of the original.

Do you know of, or are you in a Black Keys cover band? Leave a link to your band in the comments.

The Black Keys Fan Lounge recently caught up with Joel Johnson (aka Dan Auerbach, who started the band) to ask him about being a fan of the ‘Keys and what it’s like to pay tribute to The Black Keys by forming and performing in this cover band.

When did you first become a fan of the band and what drew you to their music?

I got Rubber Factory from a friend not long after it came out in 2004 and didn’t really like it that much. I guess I listened to the first few tracks and felt like it all sounded alike. I don’t think I even finished it. It wasn’t until a 07 that I dug it back out and listened to “Grown So Ugly” and “Keep Me” and started taking them really seriously. I got the rest of the albums and got really pumped. I’m still most drawn to Rubber Factory as a complete album.

I think what drew me to them is what most people feel about them. I really need musicians to be genuine, to believe in what they are playing. Also, I think they are one of the only bands playing actual rock n roll today. I think we need a lot more of that!

How long have you been playing ‘Keys songs for, prior to starting the band?

The Black Squeeze started last Summer (2008). Before that, I had only learned a few songs because most of them don’t really translate to acoustic guitar, which was what I was playing on by myself. “Act Nice & Gentle” and “The Lengths” were favorites to play before I Brian, the original drummer, agreed to play. Any of the slower ones, really. A friend and I came up with the idea to start a Keys tribute band in the Fall of 07 and I started woodshedding to learn as many songs as I could. I knew I had to have it down before I got a drummer to play with me.

What songs are the hardest play? Specifically guitar parts?

Most of them aren’t too hard technically, but the tone is a real challenge. Once I made a few gear changes, it opened everything up for us. The ones with a lot of thumbing still give me fits. “Countdown” I may never get that completely figured out. I would love to able to play the Seven Parts Six Ep version of “The Moan” just like that someday.
“Evil” is almost ready but has taken me a while.

This project has made me a much better player because their music can be such a good introduction to some important blues techniques. Want to get started on slide? Start playing “Desperate Man.” “Thickfreakness” is such a good way to get your thumb going. They aren’t so crazy hard that you get discouraged. A little at a time.

Have you ever met Dan and Pat from The Black Keys?

I met Dan at SXSW. His manager and I have emailed for awhile and he introduced me. I told him I was in The Black Squeeze and he got a real kick out of it.
He had already heard of us because I gave his sound/tech guys some Black Squeeze t-shirts when they were here for Austin City Limits Music Festival in September. I don’t really know what they think about, but the sound guys were pleased.

You say you are a tribute band not a cover band. Why is the distinction important to you?

That’s more of a joke than anything. But, to get technical, I think a cover band would play a Black Keys song, and like, “La Bamba”, or something. “Margaritaville,” followed by “The Breaks.” A Tribute Band would only play the works of one band. Again, I think we just wanted to be clever. Not sure if it worked.

What’s your favorite song to play live?

Either “I’m Glad” or “The Breaks.” We have done those two at every show we’ve done. Matt really loves “Just Got To Be.” I can’t say I blame him. The drum part in that is amazing.

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