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.