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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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Have you ever seen a random interview with The Black Keys and noticed the photo used to accompany the story is the same one that was used on another article you’ve read?

It’s obviously easier and cheaper for magazines and newspapers to use a stock PR photo than commission a new one. In any case, bands like using the same images to build up an identifiable attitude or profile.

I’ve assembled the commonly seen publicity images that have come to define the look and story of The Black Keys (in no particular order).

From the look of this lot, I guess there’s only so many band photo faces you can pull.

They are interesting in that they each capture a moment in the band’s life, a piece of it’s history, from the early days to recent days. None of them portray a self-satisfied or smug attitude, rather the modesty and irony of Dan and Pat’s personality comes across.

In a recent comment on this post, Black Keys fan Dan mentioned the first image below of Dan and Pat in the basement would make a great poster. I’d have to agree.

I look forward to seeing some new images for the new Black Keys album being released. With a bit of luck they’ll be done by James Quine who took all of Dan Auerbach’s recent solo press images.

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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.

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photo: msachtler

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You know you are thinking too much about The Black Keys when…you start dreaming about them.

I should mention I’ve had a few dreams before where I’ve met Dan and he has ignored me. I guess that can be explained as fan anxiety. I’m not sure how I explain this dream, however.

The dream I had last night went like this:

I’m waiting to see The Black Keys at a live concert. I’m standing back from the stage on the right. Pat comes onto the stage from behind the stage curtains. He sits down at his drum kit with the crowd going wild. He launches into a drum solo. The crowd are screaming with joy, recognising it as the song ‘Scarred’ [note: this song title doesn’t exist in reality]. I stumble with my camera trying to get it to video mode since I realise Pat never does drum solos. As I’m fidgeting with the camera I realise someone in front is videoing on their camera and they are blocking my view. So bummed out. Then Dan comes out and the drum solo segues into Dan playing Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ accompanied by Pat. As the song goes on Dan is cranking so hard the song morphs into Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ until only Dan’s playing. The crowd is loving it, screaming with absolute joy. I’m still standing there amazed and fumbling with my camera unable to get it into video mode.

Hmmm.

Have you ever dreamt about The Black Keys? Is that what being a fan is all about?

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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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This video for Dan Auerbach’s “I Want Some More” track was created by Black Keys fan Vampireplayground.

The video is not just a few still images and a music track slapped together. Thought and time has gone into the imagery and editing to create a professional result which reflects the themes of the song.

So far Dan has only made videos for “Trouble Weighs A Ton” and “Heart Broken, In Disrepair”.  It would be great for Dan or The Black Keys to run a fan oriented video competition to create a video for the band in the future.

The Black Keys Fan Lounge recently caught up with Vampireplayground to ask him about his inspiration for the video:

I have been a fan of The Black Keys for a long time and have seen them perform live about 8 times.
I have all of their studio released albums and would put them in my top 5 favorite bands right now.

The song ” I Want Some More ” really stood out to me on Dan Auerbach’s new solo album.
I love the hard driving blue/rock arrangement and the context of the song. It painted a very vivid picture in my mind of love, sex and lust.

I am always combing through old footage looking for thing to appropriate for projects. When I heard the song for the first time it conjured up the footage of the women with the coke bottle that I had
pulled around the same time. I thought the imagery and the track would compliment each other well. The other elements I just inserted where I felt it worked. The character footage ended up giving the video more of an ominous – “fat cat” – enough is never enough context.

The video only took me about 4 hours to put together (Not counting rendering time). I would call it a rough cut for sure. I did it just for fun – I loved the song and thought the images worked well with it.

I guess you could say I have made a few other music videos… I find it very relaxing to edit things like this together with no clients or deadlines… Just for me.
I am sure I will continue to do more videos in the future as the fancy hits me…

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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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