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MORE THAN A FEELING (Song)

More Than a Feeling

Released September 1976
Format 7″
Recorded October 1975 – April 1976
Genre Hard rock, album rock, arena rock
Length 3:25 (single)
4:44 (album version)
5:03 (full version)
Label Epic
Writer(s) Tom Scholz
Producer(s) John Boylan, Tom Scholz, Rodney C. Thompson

“More Than a Feeling” is a song written by Tom Scholz and first released by the rock band Boston as the lead single from their self-titled debut album on Epic Records in September 1976, with “Smokin'” on the flipside. The single peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100. The track is now a staple of classic rock and in 1999 it was named the 39th best hard rock song of all time by VH1.

His biggest hit, “More Than a Feeling” took writer Tom Scholz five years to complete. It is one of six songs, five of which eventually appeared on the Boston album, Scholz worked on in his basement in 1974 and 1975, before Boston got its record contract. The drum parts were originally developed by Jim Masdea, although Sib Hashian played the drums on the official release. The verses are in the key of D major while the chorus is in G major. The song is in compound AABA form.

The Book of Rock Lists suggests that the chorus riff may itself be a subtle homage to the Kingsmen’s classic, “Louie Louie.” Scholz credits “Walk Away Renee” by The Left Banke as the song’s main inspiration. It is also very much similar (same descending pattern) to the opening riff of Elton John’s “Screw You (Young Man’s Blues).” Other critics have noted that this song’s main riff is referenced in the Nirvana single “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Nirvana opened “Smells Like Teen Spirit” with the chords and words from “More Than a Feeling” at their Live at Reading performance in 1992.

Boston’s website claims that the song is about “the power an old song can have in your life,” with Tom Scholz elaborating that “it was sort of a bittersweet ballad.” Ultimate Classic Rock critic Michael Gallucci points out that this is a common theme in Boston songs. The lyrics express the author’s discontent with the present and his yearning for a former love named Marianne, whose memory is strongly evoked by an old familiar song. In a recent interview Scholz was asked, “Who is Marianne?” He replied, “There actually is a Marianne. She wasn’t my girlfriend.” He explained that when he was 8 or 9 years old he had a much older cousin who he thought was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen and that he was “secretly in love” with her (laughs).

Guitar World states that when the radio plays “More Than a Feeling”, “few can resist indulging in fits of fleet-fingered air guitar and a spirited falsetto sing-along.” Rolling Stone Album Guide critic Paul Evans states that “as slick as it sounds, ‘More Than a Feeling’ strikes an uncommonly resonant emotional note.” Gallucci rated it Boston’s greatest song. Ultimate Classic Rock critic Dave Swanson rated it the #28 all-time classic rock song.

When performed live, the song is occasionally played after “The Journey”, since “It’s Easy” has rarely been played live.

Personnel

Tom Scholz – acoustic guitar, lead guitar, bass guitar
Brad Delp – vocals
Sib Hashian – drums
Barry Goudreau – rhythm guitar