Blame the Brits for ‘gear change hall of shame’

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Updated Dec 14, 2009

Big rigs with 18 wheels, and sometimes just as many gears to change, take the heat in name only at the website Truck Driver’s Gear Change Hall of Shame. The site lists sudden and sometimes startling musical key shifts in nearly 50 years of pop, rock, country and Motown by song title, year and composer. British radio host Siegfried Baboon started the online archive in October 2003. Three months later, BBC Radio 2 recognized its popularity as “>best website of the day.” Although some say the key shift is an easy out for less-talented songwriters, parties guilty of it include it in some classics: Frankie Laine’s 1959 “Rawhide,” Stevie Wonder’s 1972 “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” and Conway Twitty’s 1980 “I’d Love to Lay You Down” share a listing with Beatles hits. In an email message to iOverdrive, Baboon wrote that an acquaintance told him the key change is like changing gears. “I seemed to end up combining that with the image of gears being crunched in a particularly big truck,” Baboon said. A trivia aficionado, he published “Bears Can’t Walk Downhill” in 2006 and a sequel, “Emus Can’t Walk Backwards,” in 2007 under the pseudonym Robert Anwood. Submit songs with key shifts to . –Lucinda Coulter