Crazy ~ Gnarls Barkley

Gnarls Barkley is an American soul duo composed of Danger Mouse and Cee Lo Green.

Cee Lo first entered the scene as part of the Atlanta hip hop group Goodie Mob which had a large hand in the Dirty South movement of the 1990s. Cee Lo left the group after their third album in 1999 and started his solo career. That year he sang on “Do You Like the Way” along with Lauryn Hill on Santana’s multi-platinum Supernatural album. Cee Lo has three solo albums as of November 2010.

Danger Mouse has produced albums for a number of hip hop and rock artists, including Gorillaz’ Demon Days. He received international attention for his mash-up The Grey Album, which blended the acapella edition of Jay-Z’s The Black Album with samples from The Beatles’ White Album.

The two men first met while Cee Lo was on a tour for which Danger Mouse happened to be the DJ. They became musical partners and worked together on the songs that would become the St. Elsewhere; prior to the release of that album they collaborated on the songs “What You Sittin’ On?” for Lex Records in 2004, and “Benzie Box” from the Danger Doom album The Mouse and the Mask in 2005.

Danger Mouse explains that the name Gnarls Barkley came from “fictional celebrity names like Prince Gnarls and Bob Gnarley” (parodies of Prince Charles and Bob Marley, respectively) made up by their friends. When Heavens band member Josiah Steinbrick came up with “Gnarls Barkley”, a parody of basketball star Charles Barkley’s name, Burton wrote it down. In fact earlier in their career, various radio DJs incorrectly attributed their songs to the basketball star instead of the band.

According to a Billboard article: “Burton and Cee Lo have been cagey about what the name of the act means, and each live performance is an opportunity to play dress-up as tennis players, astronauts and chefs, among many other get-ups. The costuming extends to photo shoots, as Burton and Cee-Lo would rather impersonate characters from such films as Back to the Future or Wayne’s World.

About Gnarls Barkley, Cee Lo said in an interview: “That is that electric industrial Euro soul, that’s what I call it… if I can call it anything. It truly is shapeless and formless. My style and my approach is still water, and it runs so deep. So, with that project I got a chance to be a lil’ zany, of course a continuation of eccentricity, abstract and vague, and all of those wonderful things that make art exactly what it is. And that’s subject to interpretation. As far as the artiste himself, it does cater to and extend the legacy of Cee Lo Green, and showcase the diversity and range and intention of Cee Lo Green. It is a great project that I’m very, very proud of”.

Crazy

Musically, “Crazy” was inspired by film scores of spaghetti Westerns, in particular by the works of Ennio Morricone, who is best known as the composer of Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy,  but more specifically the song “Last Man Standing” by Gian Piero Reverberi and Gianfranco Reverberi from the 1968 spaghetti Western Viva! Django (Italian: Preparati la bara), a sequel to the better-known Django. “Crazy” not only samples the song, but utilizes the parts of the main melody and chord structure. The original songwriters for “Last Man Standing” are credited by Gnarls Barkley for this song alongside their own credits.

The lyrics for the song developed out of a conversation between Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo. According to Danger Mouse “I somehow got off on this tangent about how people won’t take an artist seriously unless they’re insane… So we started jokingly discussing ways in which we could make people think we were crazy… Cee-Lo took that conversation and made it into ‘Crazy,’ which we recorded in one take.”

[flv]http://djallyn.org/media/gnarls-barkley-crazy.mp4[/flv]

I remember when
I remember I remember when I lost my mind
There was something so pleasant about that place
Even your emotions had an echo
In so much space

And when you’re out there
Without care
Yeah, I was out of touch
But it wasn’t because I didn’t know enough
I just knew too much

Mmm
Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?
probably

And I hope that you are having the time of your life
But think twice, that’s my only advice

Mmm
Come on now, who do you
Who do you, who do you, who do you think you are?
Ha ha ha, bless your soul
You really think you’re in control?

Well,
I think you’re crazy
I think you’re crazy
I think you’re crazy
Just like me

My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on a limb
And all I remember is thinking, I wanna be like them

Mmhmm
Ever since I was little, ever since I was little it looked like fun
And it’s no coincidence I’ve come
And I can die when I’m done

But maybe I’m crazy
Maybe you’re crazy
Maybe we’re crazy
Probably

Ooh ooh mmm

  • Audio from the 2006 album, St. Elsewhere:

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About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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