A few years ago, my brother and I had a discussion about how vastly different our musical tastes are. He is a professor at NYU, and is totally into Broadway music. I, on the other hand… well, you know what my tastes are based on what this site is all about… anyhow, we talked for quite a while and couldn’t find any common ground until one of us mentioned Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” I forget who mentioned it first, but needless to say, we both said, “Yeah!” and felt content that we DO have something in common.
I remember my brother talking about this song as if he knew the composers. To be honest, I wouldn’t doubt that he DID know the composers… he’s kind of a big deal. His apartment smells of rich mahogany, and Merlin Olsen visits on occasion….
During Thanksgiving dinner this last Thursday, he told me of wonderful rendition of the song by Denison Witmer. I hadn’t heard of this version, so he let me hear it through his iPod. I was really impressed by Witmer’s performance, but felt compelled to go dig out Raitt’s original recording and spin it again… I haven’t listened to this song in a long time.
“I Can’t Make You Love Me” has got to be one of the most heartbreakiest songs ever written. Trying to “make” someone love you is a given in life… everyone feels and experiences it at some point about someone or something… and I’m not being blasphemous when I say that even GOD deals with this struggle on a daily basis. Let’s face it, God can’t MAKE us love Him. Either we do or we don’t… that’s what faith is.
Like many fans of this song, I first heard this song from Bonnie Raitt’s album Luck of the Draw. It’s perhaps my favorite song of hers, and it has nothing to do with the fact that Bruce Hornsby AND Benmont Tench hold keyboard duties in the song (well, maybe a little)… no, I love this song because of the pure emotion exhibited in not only Raitt’s vocals but the song itself. There’s a loneliness to this tune that has been unmatched, and no matter how many people cover it, Bonnie Raittowns this song.
”This was written by songwriting team of Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin. Reid got the idea from a newspaper article about a guy who got drunk and shot up his girlfriend’s car. When the judge sentenced him and asked him what he had learned, he said, “You can’t make a woman love you if she don’t.”
The song was originally a fast tempo, bluegrass-style song. After slowing it down, though, the two writers realized this was the way to go and marketed the song that way.
According to an interview for 107.1 KGSR, Raitt remarked how she sang the vocal for “I Can’t Make You Love Me” just once in the studio. ONCE. Wow. “We’d try to do it again and I just said, “You know, this ain’t going to happen,’” she says.
This last Thursday night, my brother and I started talking about this song again… he focused on the lyric, “I will lay down my heard and I’ll feel the power / but you won’t, no you won’t.”
He thought that “Power” is such a great way to describe this feeling, that it is a sense of control that we GIVE to the one we “can’t make love us.” They don’t necessarily want it, but we give it to them, nonetheless. There’s really nothing we can do about it, nor is there anything they can do about it. Nobody wants this, it just is.
I told him, “Dude, that’s pretty deep.” And then we ate some pumpkin pie and laughed about the second Star Wars themed Robot Chicken.
The saddest part of the song is the fact that the protagonist is asking the one they love (but who doesn’t love them back) to be intimate with them.
Lay down with me, tell me no lies
Just hold me close, don’t patronize
Don’t patronize me
There is no doubt in their mind that they need to leave this situation, yet they remain. The second verse explains more of their plans for the future:
Morning will come and I’ll do what’s right
Just give me till then to give up this fight
Putting these two lines into context, I get the impression that they have said this to themselves time and time again, yet they still remain. The other person probably knows what is going on, but they still maintain the status quo because… well, it’s convenient, it’s a “sure thing,” and it IS a feeling of power.
A LOT of information is revealed between the two parties, and all the listener gets is one point of view. I totally dig it!
Rolling Stone magazine ranks “I Can’t Make You Love Me” at #331 in their Top 500 Greatest Songs of All The Universe and Beyond. It hit #18 on the Billboard pop singles chart and helped Raitt continue her rebirth in the early 80’s/late 90’s.
I’d like to thank my brother for the different cover versions of the song in the Dig-It section. They’re all fun to hear, but in my opinion, none can compare to Raitt’s. It’s interesting to note that (aside from Witmer’s acoustic recording) all these versions basically start the exact same way Raitt’s does. This just goes to show you how definitive her version is.
I’m glad my brother reminded me of this phenomenal song. It always gives us a subject to discuss that does NOT end up in an argument.
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Your Dig-It Downloads: (right click on link to download)
I’m always on the lookout for new music to check out. Our slogan here at TheFrontloader.com is, after all, “So much music… so little time…”
That is so true.
It is impossible for me to hear EVERYTHING that has been released. If I were to even try to attempt that, I would need to have my iPod surgically implanted and have an endless stream of music flowing in from somewhere. Music would be playing in my ear, 24 hours a day… but even if I were to do THAT, I still wouldn’t get to everything.
Which, by the way, is why I am NOT going to do any “Best of 2008” lists here. How can I possibly say that anything is the “Best of 2008” if I haven’t been able to hear everything that has been released in 2008? From the major labels to the indie labels to the DIY labels… there’s no way.
Nah, I’ll leave that to Sherman.
Anyhow, my point is that in order to find new music, I usually turn to my friends and colleagues. Word of mouth advertising is still the most effective because it comes from someone you trust, not someone who is TRYING to sell you.
This week’s “Spin of the Week” came to me through a friend’s recommendation. I took a listen, dug it, bought it, spun it, dug it some more, and now I’m writing about it.
See how that works?
A Fine Frenzy is the stage name for Alison Sudol. In 2007 she released her debut album, One Cell in the Sea, and has been finding success ever since. Her material has already appeared in a number of television shows and movies, which undoubtedly helped propel her album sales.
Sudol apparently enjoys Shakespeare, as she took on the name “A Fine Frenzy” from his play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling, Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven.”
Incidentally, although it’s pretty cool to have a stage name like “A Fine Frenzy,” I’ve always wondered how artists like this introduce themselves to others:
“Hi… I really enjoyed your set… what’s your name?”
“I’m A Fine Frenzy.”
“Of course you are, but we don’t know each other well enough to start talking about THAT. All I want is to know your name.”
“A Fine Frenzy.”
“Sure, sure… I can dig that… and maybe after a few drinks I can be ‘A Fine Young Cannibal,’ but for now let’s just start with your name.”
“A Fine Frenzy!”
“Look, to make things move along, I’ll just call you ‘Tits McGee.’ How are you doing, Tits?”
Anyhow, after teaching herself piano, Sudol sent a demo to Capitol Records and was able to secure a record deal. One Cell in the Sea was released after her appearance at SXSW. See, kids? It’s THAT easy. (Okeeeeee!!!!)
There are some gorgeous moments on One Cell in the Sea. Sudol’s voice is soft yet penetrating, as is the music she composes. You get the feeling she’s almost at a whisper most of the time, which is a very cool characteristic to her style. She drifts in and out of her falsetto voice so smoothly that after a while, you barely notice that she’s doing it. A good example of this is “Whisper.” Take a listen to just the first half of the tune and you’ll hear not only the whisper-like quality but also the lovely falsetto she’s got. Don’t get me wrong, though… she’s got a set of pipes. In the Dig-It section below, I’ve posted a live performance of Sudol and Brandi Carlile covering Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” Very cool listen.
Sudol either wrote or co-wrote all the tracks on the album, which is always great to see. Her lyrics can be considered to be “deep” and “philosophical,” which is indicative of her love of literature. She brings with her a great sense of imagery, and it’s a wonderful match to the supporting music.
Although there are plenty of guitar-laden tracks, One Cell in the Sea is piano/keyboard driven, as that is Sudol’s instrument of choice. I’ve always dug girls and pianos, so when you put them together, I’m an even happier boy. Most of the record is mid to slow tempo, but is arranged well enough that you don’t notice the pace. And as I said in the last paragraph, the music supports the lyric in that it creates this almost fantasy-like sonic realm.
Now, I’m not saying that her lyrics are “fantasy-like,” but check this out from the song “Rangers,”
Further in and on we go
Sightless creatures tugging at our clothes
Cutting through the twilight, sword in hand
Strangers once, united against the land
At the sound of the bells
They’re pulling paper lanterns from their shelves
Now, some of you may be wondering, “Huh?” and by all means, that was my first thought as well… but upon further analyzing the lyric, I can honestly say, “Wha…?” She can never be guilty of NOT using vivid language, that’s for sure! I take that back… after FURTHER analyzing the lyrics, I can honestly say, “Gah?”
But that’s a Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast because it makes her music that much more interesting. It’s those moments of “Ohhhh! I get it!” that are so rewarding to experience when you invest your time into an artist.
And A Fine Frenzy is well worth the investment. I’ve been spinning One Cell in the Sea for the better part of the past week and am still trying to decide what my favorite track is. So far it’s a toss-up between about half of the album, which is a good thing. I’ve posted a couple of contenders below, along with the live bootleg.
Take a listen, buy the record, see a show, spread the word. Maybe not in that exact order, but it’s probably a wise thing to take a listen first. Then you can go from there. Yeah. Do that.
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The Rules:I reset the play counters for all the songs currently on my iTunes. Then at the end of every week, I check to see what the top five most played songs are. Whatever happens to be in this top five are then presented in order here from most played to least. If I have posted a particular song in the past, then I will bypass that song and post the next in line. If one artist dominates the list, then I will write about that artist in lieu of a Top Five list.
If you’re reading this, then you either A) are getting ready for all the Black Friday sales, B) are missing Black Friday sales, or C) do not care or did not even KNOW it was Black Friday. Whatever the case may be, we’re glad you stopped by to check out what made this week’s list!!!
Remember, if you shop through Amazon.com, you can easily access their site by clicking on any other Amazon.com links throughout the site. I checked out their “Black Friday” deals page, and I must say there are some GREAT deals going on right now… like 50 mp3 albums for $5 each. Cool!
Ok, let’s get on with This Weeks’ Top 5 Most Played Songs From Swap’s iTunes…
I’ve been a Pearl Jam fan for quite a long time now. Their debut album, Ten, still stands as one of the strongest debuts of any band, and I still consider that to be the standard that all subsequent PJ albums must be compared to. Vs was awesome, and their self-titled was excellent, but none have matched the power or identity of Ten.
Clearly I remember, picking on the boy… uh… I mean, clearly, I remember watching Pearl Jam’s Unplugged show on MTV. They were straight out of the gun, going balls out, trying to prove themselves, treating the acoustic set as if it were turned up to eleven. I guess that’s always annoyed me about that performance. I really wish they would have just calmed down and modified their songs to fit the more intimate setting, but alas, what’s done is done.
Why is it that Nirvana’s Unplugged show is the Holy Grail of Unplugged shows? At least that’s what I think…
Anyhow, despite what I just said about Pearl Jam’s Unplugged show, I still dig it. “Even Flow” is one of my favorite PJ songs… not because the verses sound like The Icicle Works’ “Whisper To A Scream (Birds Fly),” but because it’s just a kick-ass rock song with lyrics I’ve spent my lifetime trying to figure out.
I played this song twenty two times. Completely blew away everything else on this week’s list.
Anybody ever hear that Pat Boone record? WOW. And that’s all I gots to say about that!
Brighter Than Creation’s Dark contains one of my favorite DBT songs, “Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife.” I’m gonna throw out my lyrical interpretation and say that the song’s about a guy who doesn’t know he died. If this IS the case, then WHOOPDEEDOO I’M RIGHT and the song is even awesomer than before because I RULE. If this isn’t the case, then I’m going to just ignore that fact and say that I RULE.
Spooky song, spooky song. I dig this side of the DBT, and especially of Patterson Hood’s writing style. Creation’s Dark was a simpler DBT affair, and I sincerely hope they do more of this in the future.
Anyhow, I must have had “Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife” on repeat because it was played fifteen times in one night… I don’t recall listening to this song fifteen times in a row. I wonder what the hell I was doing at that time. The song’s only about three minutes long… did I pass out for about forty-five minutes?
I was sold on Dierks Bentley’s 2006 release Long Trip Alone when I saw the video for the title track. It told the story of good ol’ Dierks making a “long trip alone.” To be honest it was kinda boring, but the song was excellent and the video cemented in the song title “Long Trip Alone.” I went out and picked up the record the very next day… just goes to show you how effective a good video can be.
Anyhow, the album was pretty good, but doesn’t ever really stretch him as a singer or writer. I get it, Dierks… you’re a lonely guy whose middle name is “danger” and you’ve been down on your luck and/or have had a lot of heartbreak. Waitaminute… that describes every single cotton-pickin’ male country artist. Practically every song celebrates this and after about three songs of the same theme, it gets kind of old.
One song that deals with this subject matter in a good way is the track “The Heaven I’m Headed To.” He groups himself with “sinners, thieves, prostitutes, beggars, renegades…” you get the idea. I actually don’t know why I was so attached to this song this week, but for some reason I played it thirteen times, and not all in a row… which means that I must’ve actively searched for this song on a daily basis. Interesting.
“Same Boy You’ve Always Known” was recorded live on June 1, 2005 in Brazil. This is actually a pretty old song of theirs… this performance features Jack White on an acoustic guitar, which is always cool to hear when coupled with Meg’s drumming.
Here’s something interesting about The White Stripes: Meg White originally planned to become a chef. Drumming was not in the cards for her as she worked towards putting herself through culinary school. I’ve always found it fascinating to hear about the “other life” of artists, before the hit it big.
Take me, for example. Now, I know I’m not a huge, famous artist, but I thought you’d be interested to know that when I was a kid, I wanted to be a cowboy.
Ah, The Band. What can be said about The Band that hasn’t already been said?
How about, “They suck!!!!!”
HAHAAA!!! See? That probably has never been said about The Band. Why? Because they are the epitome of non-suckage. I mean, if Eric Clapton wants to join your group, YOU DO NOT SUCK.
The Band possesses the one song that perhaps EVERYBODY knows, but if asked to actually NAME the song, they’d get it wrong.
That song, ladies and gentlemen, is “The Weight.” Yes, this is the song that has the famous chorus:
Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me
It’s either “Fanny” or “Annie,” depending on the time of day.
So people often call the song, “Take A Load Off Fanny,” because nowhere IN the song are the actual words “The Weight.” Now that you know the real name to this classic song, here is the song from The Band that I’ve been listening to for the past couple of days, “Up On Cripple Creek.”
Yeah, I wasn’t listening to “The Weight.” Sorry.
Here’s an alternate take to “Up On Cripple Creek.” As explained in the liner notes to their self-titled album: “There is a slight lyric change, the jew’s harp/clavinet breaks are quite different and the yodeling on the end is not quite as robust. Ultimately it is not as strong or as sharp as the released version but, nonetheless, it is very interesting to hear the variations between the two takes.”
Well, that wraps up this week’s Top 5 list! It’s always fun to see what ends up on this list. Sometimes I have a feeling what will be number one, like this week… but most of the time I don’t pay attention to the number of plays. I’m sure one of these weeks I’ll scratch my head and say, “How the fu…?”
If you dig the site, please take a second to vote for it by clicking below. You’ll see the “Best Music Blog” Category on the nomination form, where you can enter “TheFrontloader.com”. Thank you so much!
I would like to thank you again for being a part of this site. Building and watching this site grow has been an incredibly fun and exciting process. We’ve been working hard here at TheFrontloader.com to not only build a community but also provide you with “quality” articles and music… I put quotes around “quality” because it’s all subjective, man… all subjective.
BUT, I hope you have been enjoying everything here. I care, but Sherman doesn’t give a rat’s ass. All he cares about is that he gets his daily National Treasure viewing and some time with one of his “Hotties with the Body.” I guess it’s the simple things in life….
Is music one of those “simple things?” I’ve often wondered about that, considering how much work and dedication goes into every song, every performance, and every lyric.
I guess it’s a “simple thing in life” for the listeners, but not so much for the artists… do you concur?
Anyhow, for this Thanksgiving Day, I present to you a cool bootleg of a show Pearl Jam and Robert Plant did together in 2005. This performance took place on October 5, 2005, and was the last show of Pearl Jam’s tour. The ticket price was a whopping $1000 (I did not attend, I only had $999 on me at the time) at the Chicago House of Blues and was considered a benefit for those affected by hurricane Katrina. All proceeds went towards Katrina relief… I don’t know how much was raised, but it was a LOT more than nothing, and that’s what matters.
According to Blair Fischer at Rolling Stone magazine, ”It was a sermon- and filibuster-free night, devoid of cracks at the Commander in Chief and without a rendition of the band’s vitriolic “Bushleaguer.” Vedder’s first mention of Katrina came during the first encore, when he briefly acknowledged FEMA’s failures before adding, “Hopefully they’ll learn in the future.” That was as didactic as it got.”
Half the fun of this bootleg is the audience. With every song, you can hear people screaming out things like “Oooooohhhh!” or “Ahhhhhhhh!!!!” in approval. Great, great stuff.
One highlight here is the performance of the Zeppelin classic, “Fool in the Rain.” Both Plant and Vedder trade verses, and both have flubber moments. At the end of the song, Plant admits that neither of them have ever played the song live before, stating, “I never remember me own words.”
The B3 organ solo at the end of “Thank You” is frikkin’ awesome!!!! I LOVE the grinding sound of an overdriven Leslie.
I often curse myself for not walking back to my car to search underneath the seats for a dollar in change.
Let this be a lesson to you all: if the concert ticket price is $1000, you KNOW something special’s gonna happen. If you’re a dollar short, sell your shoes, your shirt, your watch, hell, sell your BODY to get that extra hundred cents. It’ll most likely be worth your while.
On this Thanksgiving Day, eat a lot of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie… whatever floats your boat. Thank you again for making TheFrontloader.com a regular stop in your Internet day.
You’ll notice a big reddish banner on the right sidebar. This is for Stereogum.com’s annual “Gummy Awards”. Please click on it and vote for TheFrontloader.com in the “Best Music Blog” category!!!! I would be ever so grateful!
Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!
By the way, if you’re planning on doing some Black Friday shopping on Amazon.com, or any sort of shopping through Amazon.com, you can click the link below (or any other amazon links on the site) to be taken to the site. The link below takes you to Amazon’s Black Friday “Deals” page, and I gotta say, there are some GREAT deals there!
Download: Goin’ To California (Pearl Jam & Robert Plant live)
Download: Little Sister (Pearl Jam & Robert Plant live)
Download: Money (That’s What I Want) (Pearl Jam & Robert Plant live)
Download: Fool in the Rain (Pearl Jam & Robert Plant live)
Download: Thank You (Pearl Jam & Robert Plant live)
Thursday is Thanksgiving, or as we bears like to call it: Thank-GOD-The-Pilgrims-Didn’t-Eat-Bear Day.
I hope you have a full feast waiting for you at whatever your dinner destination will be. I, myself, and in all other ways me, will be spending my Thanksgiving here in the house with Mr. Swapmeet Louie. We will be cracking open a box of Stove Top Stuffing, mixing some Hungry Jack brand instant mashed potatoes, and dividing up a container of Oscar Meyer Shaved Turkey Breast Deli Meat. Yes, it is quite a meal and I am proud to say that this year, instead of letting Mr. Louie do all the work, I have decided to help open the box of Stove Top Stuffing.
As you can see by the picture here, I got to spend last year’s Thanksgiving with the President himself. President Bush (or “Bushwhacker B,” as I call him) requested my presence at the official “This is the turkey the Prez is gonna eat” photo shoot, which I was more than happy to attend. I guess he wanted another non-human present so that he could show the country that he does not eat ALL non-humans, just the ones that are not wise enough to get off the f***ing table when it comes time to chop-chop the head off.
By the way, make sure you remember what you are celebrating on Thanksgiving. Many people think it is “to give thanks,” but that is the furthest from the truth. I mean seriously, come ON… “to give thanks????” What sort of boohicky is THAT? What sort of moronic imbecile would believe THAT?
Let us break down the word “Thanksgiving” to find the TRUE meaning of the holiday:
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “Thanks” has the definition of: an expression of gratitude
The Merriam-Webster dictionary also defines “Giving” as: to grant or bestow by formal action
So when we put these two definitions together, it reads as follows:
“An expression of gratitude that grants or bestows by formal action.”
Hmmm… I will be damned. It DOES mean, “to give thanks.”
Good day and Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at TheFrontloader.com.
If you dig the site, please take a second to vote for it by clicking below. You’ll see the “Best Music Blog” Category on the nomination form, where you can enter “TheFrontloader.com”. Thank you so much!
The 80’s were an amazing time for music. This decadent decade changed the way we listened to music, mostly because it brought a visual aspect to it through music videos. Somehow, it was suddenly hip for men to wear makeup, tease their hair, and look like women. The music became sonically HUGE, with layer upon layer of what-have-you… it isn’t too difficult to pick out a song from the 80’s. The guitar tones became thin and processed, the drums became over-the-top enormous, and the vocals were drenched in effects.
Perhaps one of the most important contributions of the decade was the act of bringing the synthesizer into the forefront of popular music, making it the defining instrument of the time.
Synthesizers introduced a plethora (what IS a plethora?) of new sounds, giving artists a new palette to work with. A whole league of sounds could be brought on by pressing down just ONE key… and some keyboardists at the time made a great living by doing just that.
One 80’s synth band that has somehow been mostly overlooked is this German group, Alphaville.
Now, just to make sure we’re all on the same page, a “Synth Band” is merely a band that uses the synthesizer as the dominant instrument. This does not mean that ALL sounds were made by the synthesizer; it just means that MOST sounds were.
Alphaville fits right in this category, and in 1984 the released one of the best synth albums of the decade, their debut record Forever Young.
Formed in 1977, the group originally went by the name “Forever Young,” mainly because it was one of their strongest songs at that time. According to Oldies.com, “In mid-1983 they changed their name to Alphaville, inspired by Jean-Luc Godard’s eponymous science fiction film from 1965.” I totally dig “Alphaville” more than “Forever Young.”
A name like “Forever Young” doesn’t really lend itself to grand entrances at a concert:
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for… FOREVER YOUNG!!!!
(clap clap yay.)
Yeah, doesn’t quite do it for me. But “Alphaville” is just COOL.
Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for…
Anyhow, their first single, “Big in Japan,” was a smash hit across the globe, reaching number one in countries like Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and even in the US (Billboard Hot Dance Club Play charts). The album Forever Young was then released, and two more singles were released: “Sounds Like A Melody” and “Forever Young.”
Neither of these other two singles made as big a splash as “Big in Japan,” but “Forever Young” has taken on a life of its own, becoming an 80’s standard. The song has been covered by quite a few artists, most notably Laura Branigan and Youth Group.
The song also breathed new life by being featured in the cult-classic film Napoleon Dynamite. It has also been played on television shows like Passions, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, One Tree Hill, and The O.C.
I can’t begin to tell you how many of my high school friends wanted to use the lyrics, “Youth’s like diamonds in the sun / and diamonds are forever” as their yearbook quote. I think many of them declined for fear of being accused of copying someone else.
The popularity of the song has helped the album surpass the two million sales mark.
The album is more than just that one song, though. It contains some of the most interesting pop songs of that time, vocally and instrumentally. Check out the massive symphonic instrumental that closes “Sounds Like A Melody,” the vocal structure of “Fallen Angel,” or even the synth-drum interplay in “To Germany With Love,” and you’ll begin to see that Alphaville’s arrangements were as complex as their subject matter. Singer Marion Gold’s voice may have been considered the focal point of the record, but without a strong supporting backdrop, the album would have been lost.
Now, I’m not discounting Gold’s vocal performance at all here… his range is amazing, from the deepest registers of “A Victory of Love” to the highest of highs in “Fallen Angel,” there is no question of his abilities.
The Dig-It section contains a couple of tracks off Forever Young, and choosing them proved to be a difficult task. I wanted to pick two songs that exemplified the album… two songs that summed up everything in this article… I chose “To Germany With Love” and “Sounds Like A Melody” because not only are they great songs, but they demonstrate the vocal and synthesizer talents of the group.
And for those that need a “Forever Young” fix, I’ve also included a live version of the song below. This is an excellent recording that is sure to bring back some wonderful memories of the 80’s (if you were alive back then). How many of you remember this song at your school dances? I remember dancing to this ditty with my high school girlfriend, Amy Chow… I was smart enough to NOT sing along, especially during the high notes. I wasn’t smart enough, though, to shut-up during “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” Yeah. To quote Amy, “Ouch. That didn’t sound good… did you pull something?”
The synthesizer got a bad rap at the end of the 80’s. The tinny-tinky-tink “Rhodes” patch of the DX-7 will always resonate as a sign o’ the times, but there was so much more to the synth than that. Synthesizers continue to reshape the way music is performed, recorded, and heard… and without bands like Alphaville to help showcase that ability, synths probably would have faded away as quickly as they came.
”Every town has surprises. My favorite this year was in Yukon, Oklahoma at the Cowboy Luau, basically a music festival on the plains. When we started playing, a brilliant lighting storm came through. It was a hot summer night, and we were playing on a tractor-trailer bed, made of all metal. I thought I might die that night, and if I did, I would’ve been happy.” – Sally Jaye
Quotes like this say a lot about an artist. The price for one’s craft is always high… the hours developing, practicing, packaging, and presenting it can rival the total amount of time spent in medical school… but how many MD’s can honestly say that if they were to die while caring for a patient, that they would’ve died happy?
That’s the gift that the craft returns to the artist… and I’m sure many would agree that it is so important to be appreciative of how the art affects them and not the other way around.
And that is a quality that I hear in the music of this week’s featured artist.
Los Angeles based singer/songwriter Sally Jaye has put together quite a record with her 2007 release, Amarillo. Sally Jaye’s music falls nicely into the Americana / Alt. Country genre and leans towards the folky side of things while still incorporating bits and pieces of country and bluegrass. There’s a stillness to Amarillo, and I absolutely love the atmosphere to the record… it’s poignant, reflective, longing, yet altogether peaceful. She caters to the song, and put together a team that helped bring the songs to life. As Jaye explains, “If you can get together the right musicians, engineer, producer, people…everyone brings their heart, soul, and artistic point of view, and then you have something. I was lucky because my band, engineer, and producer all brought my little songs out of my head, and made them into music.”
The modest origins of the songs were born on an old $200 piano Jaye bought from St. Vincent’s Thrift Store. As she tells us at TheFrontloader.com, “I had a piano tuner come over, and he told me it was a “boat sinker,” and he would never be able to fix it. Three hours and $160 later, he had it in tune, and even though he thought it sounded horrifying, I thought it sounded beautiful. It’s always nice to have a new (old) instrument to inspire songwriting, I think.”
Amarillo’s songs fit this idea, as there is an old, vintage vibe that dominates. I had mentioned to Jaye that I could feel the room around me when spinning the Cd. She explained that the openness was part of her vision, and was captured by engineer Mike Terry of New Monkey Studio: “I felt like I was sitting in my little Hollywood apartment playing. New Monkey is a small studio, so we were all very close together. It’s important to me to be able to see the musicians I’m playing with. Mike was able to set up that situation for us without question. You are hearing us all in one room, and Mike was able to translate to the tape. He rules.” Jaye kept with the “old” theme by recording straight onto two-inch analog tape, a practice that is growing increasingly rare within recording studios. Analog tape delivers a “fatter,” “warmer” sound that the digital realm is often unable to duplicate.
As a listener, I get the feeling that I am transported to Jaye’s childhood home in Georgia, sitting around spinning the country and gospel music her father would play for her and her siblings. Jaye describes the album as autobiographical: “Although I have a big imagination and make up stories every day, I find that when I write songs, they only work for me when it’s personal. That’s why it feels good to write a song. The way it feels to let go of something you’re feeling so strong.”
I get the impression that the songs tell the story on her need to leave Georgia in search for greener pastures. Lines like “I don’t feel like runnin’ but I can’t stay,” (Junkyard) begins her journey, “There’s a motel room in Amarillo waiting for me,” (Amarillo) bring us with her on the trip, and finally “So let California teach me a lesson,” (Georgia You Were Right) is where she realizes her resting point.
Upon first listen, I would have guessed that Jaye landed in Nashville, but as she shares with us, ”If it were the 1960s, you better believe I’d be in Nashville. But, Nashville isn’t really making country music anymore, the kind I love so much at least. I went to college in Nashville, and I loved that city (still do!), but I couldn’t get past a music industry man in the town, unless if’n I were a beauty queen with a sweet voice and a willingness to try co-writing with some proud redneck dudes. So, I ran off to Los Angeles where the weirdos are.” She admits that many of her songwriting heroes are from country music, but goes to on to say, “I may produce my songs more like country songs, but I definitely don’t limit myself to any genre of writing. I’ve tripped on mushrooms at a Phish show, and I’ve been front row, dancing my ass off, at a Michael Jackson concert.“
A standout track off Amarillo is “When The Cocaine Wears Off.” I was immediately drawn to the story of pain and loss that surrounds the lyric. I absolutely love the lines:
Every time I make mistakes
I lose a little more of faith
And I can’t stand to cause you pain
When I asked her about the meaning behind the song, she replied, “I will say that if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s that feeling fucked up doesn’t hurt near as much as feeling like you fucked someone else up. That’s what I was feeling when I wrote that song, I think.” The music has a dreariness that is accentuated by the pedal steel guitar… Jaye definitely bares her soul here, and although I believe that she’s not a perpetually dreary person in real life, I think this aspect of her songwriting is where she shines the most.
Earlier, when Jaye said that “Nashville isn’t really making country music anymore,” I think one thing she might be referring to is the honesty in the music. Let’s face it, top 40 country music isn’t exactly the most lyrically “honest” music around. I highly doubt that Alan Jacksonreally means it when he sings:
A G with an O, an O with a D
A T with an I an M with an E
That spells good time
A good time
He’s not really telling us anything about Alan Jackson…
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again… country music needs to take a hint from the Americana scene and get back to what is truly in the soul of the artists. Jaye’s record Amarillo is an excellent example of a writer writing about what they undoubtedly know in their heart of hearts. In my humble opinion, if you feel like you know an artist more on a personal level upon hearing their record, then that means the artist has done their job well. Jaye has released one of the more honest records I’ve come across in a long time, and I know I’m going to be spinning it for a long time to come.
When asked about her plans for the future, Sally Jaye tells us, “Well, we just did a live gospel record in Newton, NC in a little old church from the late 1700s. That will be out in 2009, and I’m hoping to also have a new studio record. Most stuff with me happens on the fly. I’ve never been very good at planning. I don’t know if I’ll ever make another record, I’m just waiting to see what happens.”
I certainly hope that all the stars align and you do make another record… it would be a shame to lose such a distinct voice in music.
Here are some upcoming show dates for Jaye:
Dec. 3, 8pm @ The Hotel Café in Los Angeles, CA
Dec. 13, 8pm @ The Lodge in Ventura, CA
Jan. 17, 8pm @ The Lodge in Ventura, CA
Here’s a new category I’m starting up here on TheFrontloader.com. I don’t really have any rhyme or reason for these lists, but they’re fun to write and hopefully fun to read. Everybody loves lists… it’s an entertaining way to assess what we feel sucks and what doesn’t.
So for this first list, I’m going to tell you the Top 6 Cd’s I’m NOT Embarrassed to Own. I came up with this list based on the reactions of my friends who have gone through my Cd collection. It never fails… when they come to these certain selections, they HAVE to make a comment like, “Ummmmm… dude?” or “Really, dude?” or “Geeez…. dude,” or just simply, “Dude.”
Then I have to come up with a reason as to why I own it… the story usually starts with “So one time these ten Ninjas attacked me,” and ends with, “After I KICKED THEIR ASSES, I promised them I would buy this particular Cd out of respect for their ancestors.”
These are listed from Cds with the STRONGEST “Dude?” reaction on down.
WHOA! Hey, what’s THIS album doing in my collection??????? Ha ha, must be a joke… I mean, why the hell would I have this Cd???? Who’s the wise guy????
A f*** it. It’s mine.
I bought this record because of the hype. I had seen a few episodes of Ashlee Simpson’s MTV show and knew she couldn’t sing worth dirt… my curiosity got the best of me and I had to see how much studio magic was used to make her sound decent.
Well, the producers did a bang-up job because she actually sounded decent.
And there were a few good cuts on the record, most notably “Shadow.” I read somewhere that this song is about Ashlee feeling like she’s always in her sister Jessica’s shadow.
Awwww… poor little rich girl who can’t sing worth beans but got a television show and a record deal because of daddy.
It PISSED me off when I discovered that her first live gig in support of this album was ACTUALLY HER FIRST GIG EVER. Did she ever have to book her own gigs? NO. Did she ever have to go put up/pass out flyers? NO. Did she ever “pay her dues” and work her way up through the clubs around town? NO. Instead of, “Daddy, can I have a pony?” she said, “Daddy, Jessica has a TV show AND a record deal! I want them too and I’m gonna hold my breath until you say ‘Yes!'”
I’ve kept this album because it’s a reminder to me of all that’s wrong with the music industry today.
Yeah, I really can’t believe I have this album, but I gotta say, I still dig the music. “Conga” always got to me because of how fast the vocals in the chorus are. As a kid, I remember sitting with my tape deck, trying to figure out what the HELL Gloria Estefan was saying. I’d hit play, rewind, play, rewind, play, rewind, play, rewind… my brother would burst into the room, yelling “Will you STOP that????? I’m gonna go tell mom!!!! Who CARES what she’s saying!!!! YOU ARE DRIVING ME INSANE!!!!!” Just between you and me, sometimes I did that just to annoy him.
It wasn’t until I got a little older that I discovered what the lyrics were:
Come on, shake your body baby, do the conga
I know you can’t control yourself any longer
Feel the rhythm of the music getting stronger
Don’t you fight it till you’ve tried it
Do the conga beat
Her backing band, The Miami Sound Machine, kick f***ing ASS in this song. I mean, no matter if you like her music or not, you HAVE to admit that the band is amazing. The piano solo itself is worth the price of admission here. Come on, I know you like the song… nobody’s around… go ahead and hit “play” below and DO THE CONGA BEAT!
There used to be a music store in San Diego called Music Trader. I have no idea if it’s there anymore, so if it is, then GOOD they survived! Anyhow, I would frequent the establishment on a regular basis, checking out the new music and picking up some used Cds. They had a great selection of music and I could spend hours in there. The employees knew my name and would often recommend things to me. It was a cool, cool music store…
So one day I’m in there and come across Rick Springfield’s Greatest Hits. Taking a look at the track listing, I realize that I totally dig like ALL of the songs in the collection. I mean, who doesn’t like the greatest song ever written by man, “Jessie’s Girl?” And how can anyone resist the question, “What Kind of Fool Am I?” Gems, I tell you… GEMS.
I look around and see that I’m all alone in the store, save the cashier. I grab that Cd and walk up to pay… I’ve got a stack of maybe four Cds. The cashier rings up each disc, and when he gets to the Springfield Cd, he stops… looks at me, and says:
“So YOU’RE the one who’s gonna buy this, huh?”
Turns out the Cd has been in the store for AGES, and all the employees were wondering who was finally going to buy it. I proudly said, “Yep!” and paid the man. Then I went home and blasted “Human Touch” because it’s a song about a computer, man. And I’ve always wanted to do it with my Apple IIe.
I bought this Cd because it reminded me of high school.
Being a musician in high school was pretty cool for me. I would always grab all the attention at parties because well, I knew practically every song on the radio at the time and could play it at the drop of a hat. People would gather around the piano and call out songs to sing to… and man ALIVE the girls loved Richard Marx! “Right Here Waiting” was hands down the number ONE most requested song.
The greatest part of this was that when I started the song, all the guys would say, “Uuuuugh!” and go away, leaving all the girls to me. Girls would surround me, sitting at my sides at the piano, leaning in with their long, gorgeous hair… they smelled SO good and I could just play that song all night because sooner or later, one of them would lean in so far that their boobies would touch my shoulder or back… then I could say that I TOUCHED Margaret Bulbe’s boobs.
For some reason, when I played “Hold On to the Nights,” the guys would come back and sing along. So I mainly stuck to “Right Here Waiting.”
But “Hold On to the Nights” is a great song. Marx has done well for himself… he’s penned hits for Keith Urban and let me cop a feel with some girls in high school.
I first saw M2M on some live television broadcast. The girls (Marit Larsen and Marion Raven) looked SO cute and adorable on stage… but the music was also quite good. I switched the channel before catching their group name. It was maybe a couple of years later when I heard a song, “Everything,” on the radio. The song was incredibly catchy… the DJ said the name of the group and I went online to find the Cd.
Don’t you hate it when the DJ doesn’t tell you who the artist is? They just roll on to the next song without word of who the hell sings the damn songs. GAH it’s annoying! Then they tell you “You can find a list of the most recent songs we’ve played on our website…” well, why don’t you frikkin’ TELL us what the songs are and who sings them, then I won’t have to go look? GEEEEEEZ!!!!!
Anyhow, when I saw the album cover, I recognized the two cute girls from the television program. I don’t think they were 18 at the time, so I’ll just say they were “cute” and leave it at that.
The album turned out to be an excellent collection of songs. “Everything,” “Love Left For Me,” and the song posted below, “Wanna Be Where You Are,” were all so well written it was hard to believe the girls were still in their teens.
The two girls went their separate ways in 2002 for solo careers.
I really never understood why this Cd got such a strong “Dude?” reaction. I mean, Miami Vice is one of the most important television shows EVER. Aside from the obvious things like Crockett and Tubbs kicking ass every week, the show was groundbreaking in that it used the ACTUAL original recordings from the ACTUAL artists. Most every show prior to Miami Vice used cover versions that sounded “close” to the original, but sorry… no cigar.
PLUS, the show used the music in a stylish way. Remember the Miami Vice pilot movie where they used Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight?” That one segment changed the way television shows used popular music. It made the music an actual PART of the show, not just filler.
Jan Hammer’s score for the show was brilliant as well. His “electric guitar” patch was revolutionary and redefined the synthesizer’s uses in pop music. Just take a listen to the “Miami Vice Theme” and TELL me that ain’t a real electric guitar!
So yeah, I went out and bought Jan Hammer’s Cd full of Miami Vice music. There’s a “Complete Collection” available somewhere, but I think it’s difficult to find, as the Cd is discontinued.
Man, I still love this theme. The song apparently re-entered the charts in 2006. Pretty cool. Didn’t the Miami Vice movie come out in 2006?
I once put together a “Fake Bruce Springsteen Acoustic Concert” for a friend of mine. This fake concert was pieced together from various solo acoustic shows and covered a lot of ground, from Darkness on the Edge of Town to Devils and Dust. I had such a good time putting it together that I thought I’d post that exact fake concert here for you all to enjoy.
It is important that you play the concert in the order presented, as I have included some bits of dialogue in between some songs. Springsteen has a style in his discussion regarding his songs, and it would be well worth your time to listen to these speeches. For those of you that saw his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame speech inducting U2, you know that he’s eloquent, well-spoken, and hilarious… well, the same goes for these bits.
Like I said, I had such a good time laying this out that I just might do another one sometime in the future for either Bruce or another artist. Everyone has their own “concert wishlist…” this was an entertaining way for me to, in a way, realize one of mine.
In arranging this fake concert, I took into account instrument changes, song tempo and theme, and sound quality of the bootleg. The recommended way of listening to this post is to first download all the songs, then do as I said before and play them in the order presented. Breaking them up will ruin all the hard work I put into this, so DON’T DO IT, MAN!!!!!!!!
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Download: rilliant Disguise (live)
Download: Into the Fire (pump organ)
Download: Born in the USA (live)
Download: Reason to Believe (live)
Download: Pull Your Pants Down (dialogue)
Download: Thunder Road (piano)
Download: My Hometown (piano)
Download: Tougher Than The Rest (live)
Download: What’s It Like (dialogue)
Download: Ain’t Got You (live)
Download: The Hitter (live)
Download: This Hard Land (live)
Download: Across the Border (pump organ)
Download: One Step Up (live)
Download: Independence Day (piano)
Download: The Promised Land (live)
The Wallflowers hit it in a huge way in the mid 90’s with their sophomore album, Bringing Down the Horse. The main story surrounding the success of the band wasn’t so much the music, however… at the time, the fact that the singer/songwriter of the band was Bob Dylan’s son, Jakob. Jakob looked and sounded like his dad, but he held his own in his songwriting and firmly established himself as a natural talent through the success of the record. As the album grew in stature, the comparisons between father and son stopped and people focused on the music. It IS a cool story, though!
“6th Avenue Heartache” was the first single off of Bringing Down the Horse. The song peaked at #33 and was blown completely out of the water by the next single, “One Headlight.” Some people probably didn’t even realize “6th Ave” WAS a single because well, “One Headlight” is really the most popular song off the album. Just goes to show you how huge a hit “Headlight” was.
But anyhow, “6th Avenue Heartache” did the job in getting The Wallflowers noticed by the powers that be of radio. Hitting #33 is no simple feat.
From what I could gather on the web, Jakob Dylan wrote the song when he was just eighteen. I always wonder if he showed his dad the song:
Jakob: Dad? Let me play you this new song I just wrote! (plays song)
Bob: It’s no “Blowin’ in the Wind,” but it’ll do in a pinch.
Jakob: Aw, come on, dad! GEEEZ!
I’ve always dug this tune, but I have to admit that I could not stand Adam Duritz’s backup vocals on the album cut because of his “Uh-uh-uh” thingy that he does after the choruses… especially after the second chorus. Adam, dude… I know that The Counting Crows were doing well, but SHUT UP! You’re singing over the much cooler guitar part!!!!!
Or that annoying “La la la la la” singing during the third verse… GAH! SHUT UP!
But I guess I shouldn’t blame Duritz for that… I should blame the people who decided to keep it in.
Anyway, the main guitar part was played by Mike Campbell of The Heartbreakers (Tom Petty’s band). According to Songfacts.com (great site!):
Producer T-Bone Burnett is the one who wanted Campbell to play on this. Campbell didn’t have time to come to the studio, so Burnett sent him the tape, which had some open tracks along with the basic rhythm track. Mike has a studio in his house, and one afternoon when he had a few hours to spare, he plugged in his guitar, came up with a few parts, doubled a couple of things, and got a sound he liked. He sent the tape back to Burnett, and the next thing he knew, Burnett called to tell him it came out really good, and the song was on the radio with his tracks. He never even met the guys in The Wallflowers.
Mike Campbell goes on to explain in an interview for Songfacts.com:
“I really like the one guitar line in there, it was very George Harrison sounding and I was real proud of it when I got the sound in the studio, so I was glad they used it. The funny thing is, later, I ran into George. He had a real whimsical, cynical kind of thing – he looked at me and goes, ‘You know, I heard that record on the radio – you’re doing me now?’ He said it with a little chuckle.”
Very cool interview.
The song’s meaning has been discussed at length over the years… some people think it’s a message from Jakob to his dad about how he (Jakob) has to follow his passion and go the musician route… some people think it’s a song paying tribute to WWII vets… some people think it’s a love song… and some people think it’s a song about how Jakob related to a homeless person who used to live under/near his place of residence.
I think it’s a blending of the first and third reasons: Jakob’s telling a story about a homeless person, relating it to his need to play and follow his heart… but it’s also a message telling his father/mother/whoever that he has no choice but to play music because “the same black line that was drawn on you, was drawn on me / And now it’s drawn me in.”
The lyrics are really quite compelling. At the end of the story, Dylan finds the homeless man gone, leaving behind all his possessions. Jakob can only hope that the man has just moved on and did not pass away during the night.
So for this installment of Acousticalifragilisticexpialidocious, I’ve posted the original and an acoustic version of the song. The acoustic performance is gorgeous – the B3 organ is replaced by an accordion, and that cool-ass guitar line by Mike Campbell is still wonderfully intact. And there is NO Adam Duritz! Sweeeeeet.
(I actually really dig on Duritz and crew… so please don’t give me hell about it!)
If you haven’t heard or picked up Bringing Down the Horse, you’re missing out on one of the best albums to come out of the 90’s. There really isn’t a clunker on the album.
Except for Duritz’ singing. Ok… NOW I’m done with it.
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