My church, Pinelake, is leading "Never Once" by Matt Redman this weekend. Our bands work from memory in our services, and this song always seems to give us trouble. Here are a few things to look out for and point out to your band.
Intro - V - PC - C1 - V - PC - C2 - B - C3 - Outro (tags)
Multiples of four, especially eight bars, are engrained in our psyche as the length of phrases. “Never Once” is an appropriate song title because it never has a conventional chorus.
The song has three chorus shapes. Remembering this is critical to successfully playing the song. 'Shapes' in this case are defined by bars:
- 6.5 – Chorus 1 is a six-and-a-half bar phrase. You can think of the phrase ending with a 6/4 bar. It feels short and wants more; that's because it is short.
- 8.5 – Chorus 2 is an eight-and-a-half bar phrase. It is the same as C1, the difference is tagging the final line, "you are faithful, God you are faithful."
- 14 (6+8) – Chorus 3 is the one that finally feels complete. You get to the end of bar six and turn it around for the second half, "Every step we are breathing..." This second half tags the final line like C2 did.
Notice each chorus is longer than the one that proceeded it.
Chorus 3 is followed by an extended outro:
- A guitar solo (4 bars)
- Followed by eight bars of tags
- Redman sings "You are faithful, God You are faithful" four times – that's three tags.
- The groove and chords are the same as the choruses
A Final Tip on the Form and 6/4 Bars
"Never Once" utilizes 6/4 bars to accommodate the way the melody falls on the beats. The extra beats allows the song to breathe. Try going to verse 2 without the extra beats and you'll hear and feel what I'm saying.
The 6/4 bars happen when the chorus is going to a different section.
- Chorus 1 leads into Verse 2 with a 6/4 bar
- Chorus 2 leads into the Bridge with a 6/4 bar
- Chorus 3 leads into the guitar solo without a 6/4 bar because the phrasing doesn't require it.
The Pre Chorus and Bridge Are Not the Same
The bridge is a variation of the pre chorus. They share common lyrics and common chords. The first two bars are the same; the second two aren't.
Also, note the ascending bass line in the second phrase of the bridge. This simple chord substitution can be made any time you are looking to build anticipation/tension.
In Redman's key of B:
- 5/7 = F#/A#
- A# works in this case because it is part of the F# chord (F#-A#-C#)
- A# is also the leading tone of B – the next chord and home base for the key of the song
It's hard to say Redman ended "Never Once" abruptly – he tags the last line three times. Never the less, it feels abrupt. If you’re going to end it like he did, it better be emphatic. From everyone.
You – drummer, guitar player, piano player, bassist – need to know confidently how many times you’re going to tag the last line. Redman's drummer knew he had eight bars coming out of the guitar solo, crashing emphatically on beat three of bar eight. The drummer leads the way, but everybody has to be there with him. Otherwise, the ending will be anticlimactic.
Tip: For a little extra punch, I like to have the band strike both beats three and four – with the singers singing “faith - ful”.
Do you have other trouble spots to look out for when playing this song?