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DLC Week of 3/9: Letters To Cleo and The Rembrandts

Letters To Cleo “Here & Now” and The Rembrandts “I’ll Be There For You (Theme from ‘Friends’)” remind us why, for many folks, it simply doesn’t get any better than catchy ‘90s rock and roll! Be sure to check out this new DLC debuting Thursday in the Rock Band Music Store!

Letters To Cleo came roaring out of Boston’s early ‘90s alt-rock scene on the strength of “Here & Now,” the second single from the band’s debut LP, Aurora Gory Alice. Opening with frontwoman Kay Hanley’s stray-cat coo over some casually strummed guitar chords drenched in crunchy overdrive, “Here & Now” arrives at full-band potency a few seconds later, with powerfully lively drums, second guitar, and confidently rumbling bass rounding out the picture. By the second verse, Hanley’s dexterity on the mic becomes a clear focus of the track, with moments of lyrical complexity ramping up to “Here & Now”’s distinctive (and extremely fun to attempt to sing along with – good luck!) rapid-fire chorus. As to that vocal approach in the refrain which became the song’s calling-card, Hanley explains, “The chorus – the fast part – was written in the living room of our former bass player’s apartment in the South End. Someone started playing ‘daga-daga-daga’ and I just came up with it. That was the first part that was written, and we wrote outward from there.” Guitarists Greg McKenna and Michael Eisenstein, Scott Riebling on bass, and drummer Stacy Jones keep the song chugging along with powerfully confident performances until, after the second chorus, things strip down to – as with at the opening – just one sparse guitar accompanying Hanley’s vocals remains until… BAM! – we’re back at full steam for a rousing run-through of one final verse and an extended double-chorus that provides even more of a tongue-twisting vocal workout featuring that memorable machine-gun cadence. “Here & Now” has had a durable impact on popular culture that has persisted well past its top-10 peak on the Modern Rock chart all those years ago, appearing in a number of films and television programs, as well as remaining a rock radio staple. Odds are you’re already well acquainted with this grunge-era banger, but if not it’ll take no more than one listen to recognize greatness. Pop on some ripped jeans and combat boots and get into the spirit!

The only thing more enduring than everyone’s favorite ‘90s sitcom is the show’s iconic theme song. Los Angeles duo The Rembrandts supplied the gem, “I’ll Be There For You (Theme from ‘Friends’)” that was – for a while there – as ubiquitous as “Friends” itself. Defined by chiming guitars, keening vocal harmonies, and chipper handclaps, the track was a sensation that spent eight weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart starting on June 17, 1995. Interestingly, “I’ll Be There For You (Theme from ‘Friends’)” was something The Rembrandts – guitarists Danny Wilde and Phil Solem – never planned to record a full version of, much less release as a single. The story goes that songwriters Allee Willis and Michael Skloff had put together a musical motif for the upcoming television series and that, after some nudging from their record label and others, The Rembrandts somewhat reluctantly tracked the 45-second theme song, assuming that would be the last they’d hear of it. However, the cut’s overwhelming popularity led the group to come up with a bridge and second verse and this longer, more developed version appeared on The Rembrandts’ third album, L.P. “I’ll Be There For You (Theme from ‘Friends’)” was still never released as a single, though, in a bid to make the most of the attention the song and its association with “Friends” was bringing to the band. “They were waiting for us to put out a single and fighting us for it and our manager wouldn’t budge,” Solem has explained. “He said, ‘There will be no single.’ Because it was at No. 1 on the charts as a song, we would have had a No. 1 charting single had we released it. But it would only have been boom, in and out. Our album wouldn’t stand a chance… I thought it was pretty clever that [our manager] said, ‘Put it out just on the album. If people want that, they’d have to buy this record.’” The strategy worked, as people did, indeed, buy the record: L.P. was certified gold in August 1995 and platinum in January 1996. Starting off with a bright, vaguely modal, simple guitar riff, “I’ll Be There For You (Theme from ‘Friends’)” is soon fleshed out with all the usual rock combo suspects: peppy drums, lithe bass, organ, the aforementioned hooky vocal melodies – and of course the song’s signature handclaps. Famously, the creators and producers of “Friends” wanted in on the sonic action and supplied the track’s trademark percussive flair. Although, the seemingly simple task was nearly beyond the team’s grasp, as Solem has explained: “Oh my god. All they had to do was go ‘clap, clap, clap, clap.’ And it was like, ‘Take 25!’” At about the 1:28 mark, the added bridge followed by an instrumental break featuring a tastefully acrobatic guitar solo really establishes “I’ll Be There For You (Theme from ‘Friends’)” as a fully formed song, rather than merely a snappy T.V. theme. A few more iterations of the massively catchy chorus rounds out the track, resulting in a tight, compact example of expertly crafted music. Enjoy the trip down memory lane!

Letters To Cleo “Here & Now” and The Rembrandts “I’ll Be There For You (Theme from ‘Friends’)” are available for $1.99 each.

  • Letters To Cleo – “Here & Now”
  • The Rembrandts – “I’ll Be There For You (Theme from ‘Friends’)”

*Dual Track playthrough video*

VIDEO: Rock Band 4 DLC Week of 3/9: Letters To Cleo “Here & Now” and The Rembrandts “I’ll Be There For You (Theme from ‘Friends’)” 



*Please note that this week’s DLC tracks will be available for purchase on Thursday, March 9th.