. . .
“Careful” was one of the two songs in Television’s repertoire that made it onto Adventure — the other being “Foxhole” — but people didn’t know it as “Careful,” but rather as “I Don’t Care,” which was what it was still called when it was originally demoed in 1975.
But when it came time to record it for Adventure, Verlaine decided to rename it. Why? Because the brothers Ramone decided to release their own song called “I Don’t Care,” on their 1977 masterpiece, Rocket To Russia, and Verlaine wanted to avoid any confusion. Now as somebody who bought Rocket to Russia on the same day he bought Marquee Moon — have I mentioned that? — I doubt that when I got around to Adventure (which let’s say I bought on the same day I bought Road to Ruin), I would have thought that Television was covering the Ramones.
Whatever it was called, “Careful” was one of the more jaunty songs in Television’s catalog — chock full of cool licks and riffs during the verses — which definitely undercuts the crippling bout of depression that Verlaine is singing about.
I jump out of bed
I pull down the shade
I used to have such sweet dreams
Now it’s more like an air raid
I see the opposition clear
Oh, I see them stare
One of the ways you can tell “Careful” is an older song is that Fred Smith and Richard Lloyd’s backing vocals are back to the call-and-response mode, though on the chorus of “Careful,” it’s really more response-and-call as they precede Verlaine’s lead vocals.
(Iiiiiiiiiiiiii don’t care)
It doesn’t matter to me
(Iiiiiiiiiiiiiii don’t care)
I never think about it
(Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii don’t care)
The other thing going on with “Careful” is that Verlaine took an unconventional approach to recording his lead vocals: he sang them from across the room, because he claimed that’s what people did “years ago,” which no doubt drove co-producer John Jansen nuts, and definitely gave the vocals in “Careful” an unconventional sound, almost as unconventional as the bridge after the second verse.
(Careful, careful) I’m not bitter, I just get so sore
(Careful, careful) You know, I need that girl more and more
‘Cause when she whispers
Oh, in my ear
It gets so hard, it gets so hard
It gets so hard
There’s some cool stuff happening on that bridge: guitars that sound almost like cellos, backing vocals that are going “IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII” and lyrics that on paper, seem like yet another dick joke, but instead slide directly into the final verse.
To get out of bed
It’s more than I can do
If someone must work today
Then let it be you
All this confusion
It hit me like a dare
And as if to further obscure the depression of that last verse, Verlaine uncorks an quick but killer solo that is even more jaunty than the rest of the song. After that it’s all chorus chorus chorus so by the end every involved is happily proclaiming that they don’t care so much you know the opposite is true.
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