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Susan

by

The Buckinghams



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This song contains a spacey, twilight zonish instrumental break dominated by strings and brass, with the sound of someone, presumably a street drug dealer, saying "acid" repeatedly. When commercial US radio stations got wise to this, they played only the edited version of the song, going straight from the second chorus to the "love, love, love" lead-in to the song's final fadeout, with no instrumental break and no guy saying "acid." (thanks, mac - evanston, IL)
Jim Holvey, who was a friend of the band, wrote this song. Holvey played in another band in the Chicago area at the time, but broke out as a songwriter when he composed The Buckingham's first hit, Kind of a Drag.
The Buckinghams
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Comments (12):

For those of you people who always wondered "was their a real Susan!?!?!", the song was written about a real person. Her nickname was "Susie Cream Cheese" and she was a Go Go dancer at the Whiskey a Go Go club on the sunset strip. She met the song's co-writer, Jim Holvay, when he and his band the Mob were playing a show at the Hollywood Bowl. Jim fell head over heals in love with Her, and decided to write a song about her. And for the record, it was the band's producer, Jim Guercio's idea to insert the weird ass psychedelic section in the middle of the song, not Jim's or the Buckinghams (he later went back into the studio to punch that in after the band's recording work was done)
- Sam Williams, Sherman Oaks, CA
The arrangement of this song is a total oxymoron. The psychedelic interlude comes out of nowhere--and goes back there just as fast. Can't think of any other song ever made this way.
- Matthew, Toronto, ON
I don't mind the psychedelic "Day In the Life orchestra montage..I think the tune and arrangement are great! But I hate the Stereo mix for this...its very bad! (at least the mix that on the greatest hits cd)-not sure if this was the original 4 Track mixdown to stereo, but if it is, it's awful!
- steve dotstar, los angeles, CA
I think the psychadelic section is pure genius. It represents love breaking forth from insanity (a concept that was, as Chris mentioned, later copied by Zepplin). I'm sure this went right over the band member's heads.
- Michael, Wheaton, IL
My favorite song from the 60's; excellent vocals, harmony, drums, everything. Clearly don't make records like this any more. I never thought of the instrumental break as a "drug reference"; I always thought it was the inner workings of a man obviously distraught over the loss of love. I guess one can infer a drug reference, but I always thought this would be the only rational explanation to an otherwise irrational addition to a great song.
- joe, yonkers, NY
I'm a simple man. Who was the Susan they sang about?
- don, Manville, NJ
I agree with Mike. The middle part was nonsense -- an absolute rip-off of "A Day in the Life," and everyone knew it. It probably prevented "Susan" from becoming a Top 5 hit -- and maybe #1 -- because the song was well-crafted and catchy, but that middle section caused it to screech to a halt. Bad decision!
- Dan, Wheaton, IL
Controversy and conjecture aside, the instrumental bridge serves to link the lead vocalist's pleading human emotion with sentient feeling. Despite producer Gurcio's marketing ploy of copying the Beatles' "A Day In The Life", a transcendent synthesis of teen love and ageless awareness is achieved. Thus the composition is elevated to a height greater and clearer than '60s pop psychedelia. "Susan" is the shadow image juxtaposition of every polarized boy/girl, man/woman, partner/partner relationship that ever has or will exist.
- Stephen, Sullivan, NH
The song has nothing to do with drugs. Chris, who posted here, is absolutely correct. The repeated word is "nasuS" ("Susan" backwards). I spoke to one of the Buckinghams, who told me that it was their producer Jim Gurcio (who later produced Chicago) that decided to add that psychedelic instrumental bridge to capitalize on the trend started the summer before with the Beatles "A Day in the Life". It was done without the knowledge of the Buckinghams. In fact, the first time they heard that version, was on their car radio and they hated it! Radio stations resisted it, and were starting to edit their own versions with that nonsense verse cut out, so finally Columbia Records issued the short version to radio stations.
- Mike, New York, NY
Sorry, to disagree with the other posters, but the word that is repeated is "Nasus"...which of course is "Susan" backwards. "Susan" was the first pop song to include a psychedelic freak-out... and influenced Zepplin's "Whole Lotta Love."
- Chris, Boston, MA
Sorry for the doulbe post, but I can't believe that a song like this, with the horns, would have a drug reference!
- Jonathan, Johnstown, PA
A few days ago, my local oldies station played this song, and it had the instrumental break with the drug reference in it. Does anybody know how long the song is, with the break?
- Jonathan, Johnstown, PA
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