Pyramids

Album: Channel Orange (2012)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This two-part 10-minute R&B odyssey finds Ocean singing of both ancient Egypt and the present day. The song begins with a dream of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Cleopatra and her ultimate betrayal. It switches to another doomed romance between the unemployed protagonist and his lonely strip club worker girlfriend, whom he calls Cleopatra. She lives in a sleazy room and works at club called The Pyramid. By the end of the song, the protagonist comes to a stark realization that her "love ain't free no more."
  • This was released as the second single from Ocean's debut album, Channel Orange. The tracks are a collection of fictitious tales, some inspired by two relationships Ocean has had. "The work is the work," he told The New York Times. "The work is not me. I like the anonymity that directors can have about their films. Even though it's my voice, I'm a storyteller." Accordingly, his name is not on the album cover.
  • Large parts of Channel Orange were laid down at Eastwest Studio in Hollywood, in rooms where the Beach Boys and Frank Sinatra recorded many years previously, and some of the equipment remains unchanged. Ocean produced the album primarily by himself with help from his close friend, writer/producer Malay. In what is surely a first for the canine world, Everest, Ocean's Bernese Mountain Dog, is credited as the executive producer.
  • The character of the pimp being provided for by his stripper girlfriend is rooted in real life. "I have actual pimps in my family in LA," Ocean revealed to UK newspaper The Guardian. "It was fantasy built off that dynamic... but you can only write what you know to a point."
  • The jazzy guitar solo is performed by John Mayer. The singer-songwriter also appears in the song's music video as Ocean's companion during his vision quest.
  • The song's music video was directed by Nabil Elderkin, who has worked with Ocean on his "Novacane" and "Swim Good" clips. "Basically we wanted something enjoyable to watch that compliments the song," Elderkin told MTV News of the visual. "We just tried to come at it in that way that felt like he was on a trip, however you interpret it; an absinthe-induced journey."

    "I just wanted to create something visually entertaining," he continued. "He told me two things: 'I want to have a desert scene driving a car and I want John Mayer performing somewhere with florescent lights behind him.' So I just interpreted it in my own way."

    Ocean eventually opted for a motorcycle rather than a car.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Deconstructing Doors Songs With The Author Of The Doors Examined

Deconstructing Doors Songs With The Author Of The Doors ExaminedSong Writing

Doors expert Jim Cherry, author of The Doors Examined, talks about some of their defining songs and exposes some Jim Morrison myths.

Thomas Dolby

Thomas DolbySongwriter Interviews

He wrote "She Blinded Me With Science" so he could direct a video about a home for deranged scientists.

Into The Great Wide Open: Made-up Musicians

Into The Great Wide Open: Made-up MusiciansSong Writing

Eddie (played by Johnny Depp in the video) found fame fleeting, but Chuck Berry's made-up musician fared better.

Kiss

KissFact or Fiction

Kiss is the subject of many outlandish rumors - some of which happen to be true. See if you can spot the fakes.

Brian Kehew: The Man Behind The Remasters

Brian Kehew: The Man Behind The RemastersSong Writing

Brian has unearthed outtakes by Fleetwood Mac, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Costello and hundreds of other artists for reissues. Here's how he does it.

How The Beatles Crafted Killer Choruses

How The Beatles Crafted Killer ChorusesSong Writing

The author of Help! 100 Songwriting, Recording And Career Tips Used By The Beatles, explains how the group crafted their choruses so effectively.