Song Saturday: “New Friend”

For the site’s third edition of #SongSaturday, I’ve decided to look back at one No Doubt’s treasured b-sides included on Everything In Time, “New Friend”. “New Friend” brings many of No Doubt’s sounds to the table all in one track. From the deep bass to the dancehall beats to the totally epic and unexpected ending — it’s incredible.

The song came to be in early 2001 while the band was writing and recording Rock Steady in Jamaica. An early acoustic version clip of the track was shared by No Doubt during their Making Of documentary that featured different lyrics. Lyrically, Gwen poured her heart out about the distance between herself and then-boyfriend Gavin Rossdale saying “I’ve got a boyfriend / He’s in love with me / But he can’t give up London / So most nights I’m free”. In the final version, Gwen still kept the same essence and feelings about her long-distance relationship with Gavin, but not as obvious.

“New Friend” features Jamaican dancehall artist Buccaneer whom joined the band in the studio while recording. He also included the track on a mixtape released in 2013 on his Twitter. Fans jumped on his Tweets (that sounded like he was hinting to a new collaboration with No Doubt) but was cleared up that he was only re-releasing “New Friend” as part of a collection.

While “New Friend” was eventually included on the band’s b-sides album Everything In Time, the liner notes noted that the song was strong contender for Rock Steady‘s original track listing. In the end, “Start The Fire” made the cut.

Fans may recognize (and obsessed over) the ending of “New Friend” which features a much harder rock take on another Rock Steady track, “In My Head”. Its said that the band loved the rock ending so much that it ended up taking off on it’s own (into the “In My Head” album version we all know).

“New Friend” (Original and Recording Session Versions)

“New Friend” featuring Buccaneer (Final Album Version)

And for a bonus, check out another track from the Rock Steady sessions that didn’t make the album: No Doubt’s cover of Marcia Griffith’s “Mark My Word”. You can hear Tony say that the band was really inspired after the Return of Saturn tour (where the band found themselves listing to dancehall every night) to take on classic reggae that was still danceable after doing the whole rock thing for so long. Sadly their version has still yet to be released.

14 Replies to “Song Saturday: “New Friend””

  1. I thought the story was that they thought the In Your Head ending deserved its own song? I could be wrong. New Friend is my favorite of the b-sides! It should have made the album instead of Waiting Room. Does anyone even like that song? lol

    I wish they’d record Mark My Word. Love that song!

    1. I think you’re right! “New Friend” is also my favorite, too. It’s even in my top 5 ND songs!

      I know that “Waiting Room” was actually meant for Return of Saturn (but was cut because it didn’t fit in with the rest of the album). I know that “New Friend” was a toss-up with “Start The Fire” (since they sound like they came from the same place) so maybe it was really between those two since “Waiting Room” has a pretty unique sound. I appreciate the song more over the years than I did but I wish that the band tried it out live!

  2. I don’t hate Waiting Room, but it’s one that I always skip over. I feel like they only included it because of Prince.

  3. I know it’s a fan favourite but I’ve always thought it sounded incomplete, like something was missing. I prefer “Start The Fire” better.
    I never understood why Waiting Room is so underrated among fans though. I think it’s a great song. You can argue and say it sounds like a Prince song, but I think that’s exactly what the band wanted, otherwise they’d not send the track to him to be reworked.

  4. That said, I hope they share the original version of Waiting Room someday. Now that’s something I’d love to hear.
    Jenny, any idea if the band ended recording that cover of Mark My Word?

    1. Not too sure on that one! It does sound like the audio came from a studio session but I can’t say for sure. I would love to hear it though. I’m a sucker for anything reggae from ND.

  5. I really love “New Friend” for what it is, but I am so glad that they didn’t put it on RS. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great song, but RS has such a great flow in its entirety and I don’t think NF would’ve fitted very well on that album.

    I can see how NF is a fan fanforite, but for me it also always been kind of a one-trick-pony. Once you know about the surprise ending of the song, it really doesn’t stand out all that much musically.

  6. You’re So Foxy is also one of those songs that apparently are mind blowing but you know there’s something missing or that would never work as a single either.

    1. I love “You’re So Foxy” but was never really blown away by it either. I wish they tackled it more live because it came across really good.

  7. Yes, I’m sure those songs would sound better in the course of time if they played them live. But that’s something they will never do, especially with brand new songs. I guess they should have tested some of the P&S material before releasing the album. A few gigs before would have been great. But they were so secretive all the time and sometimes that’s not good.

    1. Sigh. I do also wish the band performed (and gave more of a chance) to Push and Shove live. Some already know that I wasn’t a huge fan of the most of the album and I think hearing the songs live would have made me appreciate them more. Such a bummer. I do wish the band incorporates more of their new material into future setlists.

      /backonsubject. 🙂

  8. I’m shocked that you admit to not liking all of Push and Shove Jenny LOL Now I kind of want to know more… 😉

    1. Ha! Yeah, I was pretty vocal about it on the official forum when the album came out. I obviously will love and support this band till the day I die but I will be honest in saying that I was disappointed with Push and Shove. No shame in that.

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