The truth about Vance Joy’s song Riptide

January 30, 2014 5:23 am 442 comments Views: 3331
The anatomy of that No.1 song

Vance Joy’s Riptide came in at No. 1 in Triple J’s Hottest 100. Picture: Kylie Else.
Source: News Limited

MELBOURNE musician Vance Joy recorded Riptide in May 2012 in Brunswick.

He’d had an early version of the song floating in his head, posting an unfinished version online, which got enough reaction to make him want to finish it.

The song came together when the musician paired a story inspired by three major experiences with a chord progression he’d abandoned a few years earlier.

“It was a freak occurrence,” Vance Joy says. “Songs sometimes happen like that, these random things just fit together, that’s why they’re bloody miracles. Riptide is a lot of puzzle pieces that just went together. There’s not a clear storyline.”

Even so, we asked Vance Joy to pin down some of the lyrics to the triple platinum song that topped Triple J’s Hottest 100 the same week it hit No. 10 in the UK.

I WAS SCARED OF DENTISTS AND THE DARK

The six-foot plus former footballer is OK with the sound of the drill now, but still nervy when the lights are out.

“I think any kid is scared of dark and dentists,” Joy says. “The fear of dentists is not rational any more but even now I look over my shoulder in the dark.”

I WAS SCARED OF PRETTY GIRLS AND STARTING CONVERSATIONS

Success, blog-worthy looks and THAT voice but Vance Joy is still keeping it humble.

“I don’t know. I’m more comfortable in myself, but (talking to girls) can still strike fear into you, no matter how self-assured you might feel.”

Melbourne singer Vance Joy has gone into the Top 20 in the UK with his song Riptide. He is About to play in the Laneway Festi...

Melbourne singer Vance Joy has gone into the Top 20 in the UK with his song Riptide. He is About to play in the Laneway Festivals nationally. Picture Kylie Else
Source: News Limited

ALL MY FRIENDS ARE TURNING GREEN, YOU’RE THE MAGICIAN’S ASSISTANT IN THEIR DREAMS

No, he’s not singing ‘major shun cistern’, anonymous YouTube commenter.

“I went to the Toff (in Town) one night for drinks and met this girl, her friend was a magician’s assistant. I thought it was an interesting job. I was gardening at the time, so I didn’t want to tell her what I did. It’s now one of the lines in the song that’s most misheard. When you sing ‘magician’s assistant’ you don’t realise how much of a tongue twister it is. My friend Nick thinks it is ‘Her mother shuns her sister in her dreams’.”

LADY, RUNNING DOWN TO THE RIPTIDE TAKEN AWAY TO THE DARK SIDE

“Riptide Motel was the name of the place my family used to stay at on our holidays in Queenscliff. It was pretty basic but it was right on the back beach, a great spot. When I think of the word ‘riptide’ I think of that place, that’s where the title came from. I think it’s apartments now though.”

I WANNA BE YOUR LEFT HAND MAN

Someone owes their aunty a dinner.

“At a Christmas a few years ago my Aunty Shari mentioned her partner was her left-hand man. It’s funny how you pick up those bits and pieces from somewhere in your head.”

I LOVE YOU WHEN YOU’RE SINGING THAT SONG AND I GOT A LUMP IN MY THROAT CAUSE YOU’VE GONE AND SANG THE WORDS WRONG

Vance Joy is a mondegreen lover. Google it.

“I have a bunch of friends who get the lyrics to songs wrong, and I have another bunch of friends who are the stick in the muds who want to correct everyone. I always found it super-endearing when people sing the words to songs wrong. It’s a human thing.”

THERE’S THIS MOVIE THAT I THINK YOU’LL LIKE / THIS GUY DECIDES TO QUIT HIS JOB AND HEADS TO NEW YORK CITY / THIS COWBOY’S RUNNING FROM HIMSELF / AND SHE’S BEEN LIVING ON THE HIGHEST SHELF

The movie? 1969′s Midnight Cowboy, about a Texan dishwasher who heads to New York where he ends up working as a hustler. It was his father’s recommendation.

“I remember my dad saying it was a good film. I was on a flight, and it was on the Oscar Classics channel on Qantas. So I watched it. It’s a pretty sad story about companions on the road in a big city. It just came into my mind when I was writing the song.”

I SWEAR SHE’S DESTINED FOR THE SCREEN / CLOSEST THING TO MICHELLE PFEIFFER THAT YOU’VE EVER SEEN

There is still no word from Camp Pfeiffer about her Down Under shout-out.

“I am a massive Batman fan. Michelle Pfeiffer was an amazing Catwoman. No offence to Anne Hathaway but Michelle was so sexy. She’s crazy but she’s so hot in the film. That verse came when I was renting a room from a friend over summer, and that line “destined for the screen” just came out. I didn’t have conscious control of what was happening. Sometimes it’s subconscious. The less control you exert on a song the better it is.”

> SEE: Vance Joy at:

* Laneway Festival, Melbourne, Saturday. Sold out; Sydney, Sunday, sold out; RNA Fortitude Valley, QLD, Thursday, Lanewayfestival.com

* Groovin’ the Moo, Prince of Wales Showground, Bendigo. May 3. On sale Feb. 4; Maitland Showground, April 26. On sale Feb. 5; Townsville Cricket Grounds, May 4. On sale Feb. 4, gtm.net.au

www.news.com.au/entertainment/music

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