Track of the Week: “Better Now,” by Collective Soul

Track of the WeekI’ve always been a casual Collective Soul fan. I have mp3s all of their hits, but I haven’t really kept up with the band since their heyday in the 90’s. “Better Now” is from the Youth album from 2004 and it slipped my attention until yesterday. Thank you Pandora!

In perfect Collective Soul form, this song features a great hook sung by Ed Roland and a catchy guitar groove, performed by his brother Dean Roland.

Collective Soul has a distinct songwriting formula that permeates many of their songs. The movement from the verse to chorus feels a certain way. Listen to “Precious Declaration” on YouTube* to see what I mean.

So here’s the Collective Soul hit-song recipe:

  1. Start with a hard-driving overdriven guitar riff for the verse.
  2. When the chorus kicks in, change or simplify the riff and introduce a pad. A pad is a harmony that has no rhythmic value, like a choir singing “oohs” and “aahs.”
  3. Lastly, never start the chorus’ lyrics during the first measure of the chorus. Always wait until the second measure of the chorus to start the lyrics.

Voila! Now you have a Collective Soul song! Of course there’s more to it than that, but it’ll get you damn close.

Oh, and one other thing that I noticed. The lyrics “yeah yeah” during the verse borrow heavily from David Bowie’s lyrics “hey man” in the song “Suffragette City.”

Same melodic interval for sure, just different words. Sometimes you can’t help but to emulate greatness.

*I wish YouTube would allow embedding on ALL videos, but they succumb to the recording industry like so many others. I yearn for the day when record companies like Atlantic Records have less power and the creators of the music have more. I guarantee you that Collective Soul would love the exposure that my blog brings. I mean, that’s like 30 extra views a week!

For more information about me and the guitar lessons that I give in and around Baltimore, visit

3 responses to “Track of the Week: “Better Now,” by Collective Soul

  1. Nice analysis! It kind of takes some luster off their cultivated alternative/grunge(?) image when you’ve boiled it down to their pop-like song formula.

    And good call on the Bowie. He’s rarely mentioned when discussing 70s music, unless it’s about cross-dressing. But Ziggy Stardust was really good music.

    • Thanks. But don’t be fooled – even the grungiest rockers write songs with an ear for tastefulness and profitability at times. Unfortunately, it’s how the music business works.

  2. Once again, sorry for the time lag on the comment. I guess I like Collective Soul’s other side a bit better. I feel that they’re at their best with songs like “Run”, “The World I Know”, “Forgiveness”; to name a few. I guess I’m so old that I can appreciate the more mellow bits of their work. I’m a sucker for their moodier more melodic songs. To me they have sort of orchestral sound to them in spots. As always Great Blog!

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