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8 Awesome Iron Maiden Songs with Lush Melodies/Harmonies

Songwriter Steve Harris really knew what he was doing

By Edward JohnPublished 2 months ago 5 min read
DallasFletcher, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For many years, the main songwriter in Iron Maiden was bass guitarist Steve Harris. Over the years, he has written many awesome tunes, despite not being trained in musical theory. He just naturally developed the ability to find good melodies and chord structures.

Here are some of my favourites from over the years.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1986)

That intro! How could you not love that?! There’s something about those sounds, and the chords, and how it shifts key several times. I think it shifts up 5 semitones, then back down again, then back up again.

Then the first verse comes thundering in, giving the feel of someone running.

Then after that, the chorus comes in, along with some guitar arpeggios. This is then immediately followed by the first twin-guitar harmony lead lines.

After these have played a few times, there is a shift up into a higher key and the addition of synth pad chords. This feels like it represents the runner pushing their body into a higher gear, so to speak. This is echoed in the lyrics that then follow:

I’ve got to keep running the course.

I’ve got to keep running and win at all costs.

I’ve got to keep going, be strong.

Must be so determined and push myself on.

This then leads into a guitar solo backed by the constant thump of the drums. It’s relentless.

The verse and chorus structure repeats again. After that, we’re back to the melody and key changes from the intro. That then immediately goes into a whole new set of twin guitar harmonies which see us through to the end.

I mean, bloody hell! Right?

Deja Vu (1986)

Harris co-wrote this with guitarist Dave Murray.

After the slow intro, it bursts into action with twin guitar harmonies. This bit seems to be in a different key?

Sure, some of it perhaps sounds a bit too much like a catchy pop song. But for me, it’s worth it just for those lush guitar harmonies.

Alexander the Great (1986)

This is something of an epic. Some great tuneful guitar work and some interesting lyrics about this historic figure.

But my favourite part is the twin guitar harmony at 2:46. It suddenly appears after the first chorus and has a jaunty jig feel to it. Then it shifts up to a higher key with the addition of a bit of synth padding. Harris seems to be keen on doing that.

Infinite Dreams (1988)

They did such a great job of performing this live in 1988 that I’m including that version here.

After the lush harmonies of the intro, it proceeds into a rather subdued first verse. But then, after a few lines, the vocals come in full force.

After a few more lines the tempo changes. It then alternates between two different keys. Basically, he’s got insomnia and is questioning the meaning of life and whether there’s an afterlife.

This is followed by some stellar twin-guitar work and then another tempo change.

In this new tempo, we get yet more wonderful twin guitar playing — more lush harmonies. This is soon followed by two guitar solos. Then after that, it’s back to the harmonies again. Then it’s a brief return to one of the earlier sections before it ends.

Aces High (1984)

Another one with harmonies in the intro. Then when the main section comes in, it’s hard not to get swept away by the breakneck pace.

In the chorus, there are wonderful vocal harmonies, and a key change too. I think there is even a key change midway through the guitar solos!

Hallowed Be Thy Name (1982)

A classic early Iron Maiden track with some great twin guitar harmonies.

Seven Son of a Seventh Son (1988)

At 9:54, this is the longest epic on this list. There is some good melodic guitar work in the first half, but it gets really interesting from 4:19 onwards.

We have a subdued middle section that slowly builds as it alternates between two different keys. It makes good use of keyboard sounds to give it atmosphere, and when the choir sounds come in at 5:44 it takes it to a new level. And each time it changes key, it’s like it’s turning a new corner in a supernatural landscape.

The bit that follows this, where it abruptly returns to the heavy section, has always felt wrong to me. And the guitar solos feel a bit too self-indulgent. It’s the only section of this song that I’ve never been happy with.

But somehow it’s worth it when the powerful choir sounds come bursting back in at 8:37. What follows is a series of wonderful guitar lines which see us through to the end.

Only the Good Die Young (1988)

This is another one that starts with twin guitar harmonies. But it’s perhaps the chorus that’s the most catchy part of it. It seems to shift key when it goes into it, and there are good vocal harmonies. Then it shifts key again and a guitar line and synth pads are added.

Then it abruptly goes into a guitar solo in another key change, which sounds a bit wrong somehow. But overall it is a good song worth listening to.

So, there you have it. My favourite Iron Maiden songs with lush melodies and harmonies. Which are your favourites?

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About the Creator

Edward John

Interested in health, self-improvement, the outdoors, and psychology. Mildly autistic, I sometimes get obsessed with strange things nobody else is interested in. Sometimes I write silly stories. [email protected]

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