Song of the Day: “Just Got to Be”

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Our song of the day today is The Black Keys’ “Just Got to Be”, from their 2006 album, “Magic Potion”.

While last week we took a deep dive into the songs of Spoon, this week, we’re looking at songs from The Black Keys’ discography. Yesterday, we looked at “Eagle Birds”, from their most recent album, “Let’s Rock”. While the song seemed like business as usual for The Black Keys, it reminded me of some of the other songs they’ve brought to us over the years.

More than anything, the stripped down drums and guitar combination made me think of The Black Keys’ 2006 album, “Magic Potion”. While “Let’s Rock” boasts a higher production quality, its tracks seem a bit more formulaic and manufactured than the raw and roaring “Magic Potion”.

Magic Potion

“Magic Potion” was a big album for The Black Keys in more than one way. You only write your fourth album once, after all. The album marked the first time the still lesser-known band had released an LP of completely original material, unlike their earlier EPs and albums, which featured a mix of original and cover songs. “Magic Potion” was also the first album to be released on the label Nonesuch.

The album was released with three singles. “Your Touch”, “You’re the One”, and “Just Got to Be”. With the release of their first completely original album, The Black Keys launched on their largest tour to date to support “Magic Potion”.

Critic reviews for “Magic Potion” were somewhat mixed. On Metacritic, the album has a meta score of 69, and a user score of 7.7, with some calling it The Black Keys’ “best yet”, and others criticizing it for not being original enough.

The songs on “Magic Potion” have a unique sound due to The Black Keys’ recording techniques. Like their previous albums, “Magic Potion” was recorded in drummer Patrick Carney’s basement, with its concrete walls and floors. The acoustics of such a recording environment deliver a much more individual sound than if it had been mixed and recorded in a professional studio.

Like “Magic Potion”, The Black Keys’ recent release “Let’s Rock” seems to be going for a similar raw, stripped down sound. The main difference, is that the production quality on “Let’s Rock” makes it seem much more engineered, and a little less expressive as a side effect.

Just Got to Be

As one of the three singles from “Magic Potion”, “Just Got to Be” features one of the catchiest finger-blistering riffs on the album. From the feedback whine in the intro, to Dan Auerbach’s filtered vocals, there’s a lot to love in “Just Got to Be”.

The sheer explosiveness and lively, messy feeling of this track is The Black Keys at some of their best. Even though it’s a simple blues song, it doesn’t feel like it’s trying to be anything else. Unlike “Eagle Birds”, which sounds like it’s trying to do the same thing, but with the substituted feel of older mainstream hits like “Tighten Up”.

The music video for “Just Got to Be” features Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney playing live to no audience at the Akron Italian Center.

Lyrics

There aren’t that many lyrics in “Just Got to Be”. And to be honest, there’s not a whole lot to analyze. But we can still take a look at some of the better lines penned by Auerbach. The lyrics seem to on a whole deal with moving on from an unhealthy situation, or unhealthy people.

“When it come to pride
And other sinful matters
You’re gonna be mislead
Left there in tatters”

Here, it’s suggested the narrator knows this from learning it the hard way. The following lines, “I got to go because / Something’s on my mind”, come from these previous experiences.

“Evil hides
In dark places
But now I find it
In familiar faces”

Here’s another verse that backs up the first one, underlining the fact that the people around him have let him down, and that moving on would be, “The best thing for me”.

Final Thoughts

Overall, “Just Got to Be”, to me at least, represents The Black Keys at their most pure. I know that sounds like a bunch of hipster nonsense, but notice I didn’t say “best”. More than anything, “Magic Potion” was the end of the simple times for The Black Keys. After releasing it, then moving on to have Danger Mouse produce their next album, their firm landing into the mainstream was only waiting for the release of “Brothers”.

That about finishes up our discussion for today. We’ll be back tomorrow with a song from one of The Black Keys’ other albums.

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