How Arctic Monkeys sampled Ennio Morricone in 505
6 July 2020, 09:48 | Updated: 6 July 2020, 09:51
It’s the final, evocative track on the band’s second album Favourite Worst Nightmare. But what inspired the song?
2007’s Favourite Worst Nightmare was a huge step forward for Arctic Monkeys. Their debut album the previous year was the hugely acclaimed Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not, which propelled the Sheffield band to the top of the charts and instant stardom.
But while the debut was a snapshot of life as a young man (or woman) in modern day Britain, the follow-up showed how Alex Turner’s songwriting was beginning to mature.
Take the album closer, 505. It’s a step away from the breakneck sounds of Brianstorm or Teddy Picker and demonstrates a more introspective side of the frontman.
In the song, Alex Turner is longing to get back to 505 - the number of the hotel room where his girlfriend is staying.
“I’m going back to 505
If it's a seven hour flight or a forty-five minute drive
In my imagination you're waiting, lying on your side
With your hands between your thighs”
But the reunion doesn’t always go to plan:
“I’m always just about to go and spoil a surprise
Take my hands off of your eyes too soon”
Accompanied by guitar from former Rascals man and future member of The Last Shadow Puppets, Miles Kane, 505 is led by an organ sound which appears to have come from the 1966 classic Italian western The Good The Bad And The Ugly. It can be heard as the villainous Lee Van Cleef shows up to confront Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name at the climax.
The band later claimed that 505 was “the first proper love song” that they recorded and it’s long been though that the subject of the lyrics was Turner’s former girlfriend Johanna Bennett.
Formerly a member of the band Totalizer, Bennett co-wrote the Arctic Monkeys track Fluorescent Adolescent. She told The Guardian in 2007: “We were on holiday and had cut ourselves off from everything. We were in a really quiet hotel and didn't watch TV or listen to that much music. So as not to drive each other mad we started messing around with these words like a game, singing them to each other.”
Was that hotel room the infamous 505?
Johanna is now married to Kings Of Leon’s Matthew Followill and they have two sons.