“More Than a Feeling” is a song written by Tom Scholz and first released by American 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. It was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll and was also ranked at Number 500 on Rolling Stone’s 2003 list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, though it was dropped from the 2010 update.
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 Hashianplayed 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.
Boston’s website says 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 an 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). But he has also stated that the lyrics were inspired by his emotions after a school love affair ended, and were influenced by the lyrics of the Left Banke song “Walk Away Renee.” Maximum Guitar author Andy Aledort pointed out that the guitar chord progression of G-D/F#-Em7-D that follows the line “I see my Marianne walking away” also comes from “Walk Away Renee.” Aledort also explains that the guitar solo is unusual in that it incorporates mordents and inverted mordents, which are more typically used in baroque music.
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.
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