For this week’s edition of Song Saturday, we’re looking back and featuring one of No Doubt’s most unique tracks from 2001’s Rock Steady, “In My Head”.
Produced by Nellee Hooper and written by Gwen, Tony and Tom, “In My Head” is a heavy-synth driven song with a catchy guitar riff and electronic drums throughout. It was different style for No Doubt at the time and pushed their boundaries with experimenting and new sounds. During the band’s writing and recording sessions in Jamaica, No Doubt began working on the dancehall tinged “New Friend”, a song that didn’t make the final album cut, but lead into “In My Head”. “New Friend” featured a rocking ending of “In My Head” that the band cherished so much that its said to have spawned into its own song from there. An early demo clip was released in 2001 that featured slightly different synth tones but very reminiscent of the version we have today.
The lyrics are a direct narrative from Gwen, telling us what she does to “keep from going mad” “when it gets bad” in her head. It’s an obvious song about mistrust in a relationship and how she only wants to think about love and the good things. “Long distance / don’t talk about ex-girlfriends / don’t talk about you without me / don’t talk about the past”. She’s clearly in a battle with herself and being “wicked jealous” of others. “Why do I get so suspicious? / Do you want someone else?”. The lyrics then go into chanting mode with “everybody wants everybody else” which comes across as trying to convince herself that all of these heartbreaking thoughts are “only in my head”. It’s another raw and intimate moment from Gwen that’s truly special and took inspiration right from her life at the time. She finishes the song expressing to her love what she wants to hear, “Let’s talk about the future / Let’s talk about the wedding / Let’s talk about Gwen Stefani / Let’s talk about how much you like me and all that”. The song was written close to a year before Gwen married longtime boyfriend Gavin Rossdale which came across as to what she’s been obviously deeply yearning for so long.
The song was included in both No Doubt’s US and worldwide tour dates and they incorporated a full electronic breakdown for the live track. Adrian performed his beats live onstage every night to the song with a full electronic drum kit. “In My Head” was included on the band’s Rock Steady Live DVD release in 2003 and was definitely one of the highlights from the show. Due to obvious set constrictions, No Doubt has yet to perform the song live again in recent tours since 2002.
“In My Head” (Demo Version)
“New Friend/In My Head” (Rock Ending Medley)
“In My Head” (Live in Los Angeles 2002)
“Its My Head” (Live in Long Beach 2002)
And for an added bonus that many fans may not have heard, check out Vaja’s “In My Head” (not a cover), a metal-ballad featuring Adrian on drums.