I mentioned a few days ago that Julian and I celebrated our 13th anniversary recently.
This is for him…
I mentioned a few days ago that Julian and I celebrated our 13th anniversary recently.
This is for him…
In 1984, John Waite released his album, No Brakes, and the first single, “Missing You” became his first, and only #1 song in the U.S. The song was an instant hit, and knocked Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It” out of the #1 spot.
Waite’s version of the song is, in spite of the upbeat pop music, rather moody and melancholy. He sings “I ain’t missin’ you at all”, and it sounds more ironic than truthful, almost as if he is still really missing the girl. The video gives sort of the same feeling to the song, with him wandering around, still pining after the girl, while claiming not to miss her.
As far as 1980s songs go, it holds up rather well, and doesn’t sound quite as dated as some of the more electro-pop songs of the day:
It seems fitting, since Waite’s song knocked Tina Turner’s song out of the #1 spot that she’d end up recording it, though not until 1996.
And, while she didn’t change any of the lyrics, it’s hard not to listen to the song without the shadow of Ike Turner hovering over the song — especially the refrain “I ain’t missing you at all.” And, while Waite’s song feels more melancholic, Turner’s version seems more triumphant, almost an anthem to survival — “…and there’s a storm that’s raging through my frozen heart tonight/I ain’t missing you at all!” Turner’s version of the song wasn’t as successful, barely making it into Billboard’s Hot 100. Which is a shame, because, to me, it seems the better version of the song. But, then, I’m a huge Tina Turner fan, so I’m probably a bit biased.
In 2007, Waite re-recorded the song with Alison Krauss, and, there’s more of a Boy Finally Gets Girl feel to the song (I think the video adds to that sense of love rekindled, as he turns around to go back, at the end of the video). While it’s a decent remake of the song, it’s pretty much the same arrangement and beat, so, while the addition of Alison’s voice is new, the song doesn’t really end up feeling new.
(The Covering Ground is an ongoing series. One of my favorite things is a cover song. I prefer good, even great versions of a song, rather than a poorly executed cover song. But, even a bad cover song can be of interest.
I know there are those out there, often called Purists, who believe that there is only One True Version of a song. Typically, it’s the original version that gets elevated to iconic status, and any other version automatically sucks, and any artist who dares to cover the One True Version is destined to rot in the deepest pits of hell. It’s been my experience that there is very little middle ground: you either hate every cover song, or, you’re like me, who may not love every cover version, can appreciate the way the new version sounds.
I think music, more so than other art forms, is capable of constantly evolving. When a song is completely re-imagined, whether it works or not, is a fine thing. Music, like all art, is a reflection of the artist and how they see the world around them. Some people see a cover version as an artist trying to Be Better Than the One True Version. I don’t see it that way. It always seems to me to be something twofold: one, a way of telling the One True Version that it was really good, and it inspired something inside the cover artist; and, then, by recording it, is saying Thank You for being such a great song, and inspiring so many thoughts and feelings inside me.)
Love it or Hate it.
Over the past decade, pop music has been easier to hate than love, with track after track of generic, uninspired, sound-a-like pop musicians singing bad pop songs. Sometimes, it seems to me, that pop music of the past decade or so has simply been the same two songs, mixed and matched over and over again.
I have no idea why, but I was prepared to dislike this song, which is strange, since I knew nothing of the artist. Maybe I was just in a cranky mood before I clicked on the play button. I almost didn’t, though, now, I’m glad I did. This is what pop music should sound like: it’s bright, catchy, has lyrics that aren’t sweet and/or cheesy, induces smiles, and makes you want to grab the nearest microphone-like object, dance around the room and sing-a-long.
Play it and see for yourself:
YouTube has a fun feature called “History”. As the name implies, one can view one’s YouTube viewing history. So, I thought it might be fun to share some of the things I’ve viewed on YouTube. I scrolled, and scrolled, and scrolled some more, and finally came to the end of the list.
I have no idea how far back in time the list goes. All I know is this was the second-to-last-video.
I can’t say that I’ve got an opinion on this particular video, though I must admit to being inordinately fascinated by her outfit, and the Chinet plate on her head.
I’ve long been fascinated by David Bowie. Bowie the man, not Bowie the musician. My love of his music came much later.
Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, being gay was less acceptable than it is now. So, for much of that time, I was closeted, struggling, and, not even really sure what being gay meant. I just new that I was different from all the other males around me. I never thought of Bowie as gay, just that he was different. To watch him, to look at him, I just knew that he could understand what it was like to be different, and that he knew what it was like to be made fun of for being different. I admired, and was jealous of, his ability to publicly revel in his differentness. Ziggy Startdust might not seem so different in todays world, but, back in the mid-70s, Ziggy was about as different as it gets.
I didn’t understand the music then. It didn’t appeal to me. I was caught up in the Divas Of The Day: Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, Karen Carpenter, Olivia Newton-John, Pat Benatar, Annie Lennox. Bowie’s music was much too different, much too odd. But, I was still fascinated with him. I loved encountering new photos of him in my mom’s magazines, relishing each image, and knowing that somewhere, wherever he was, there was someone who, if I told him of my struggles, would tell me “It’s Okay.”
The 1908s turned into the 1990s, and Bowie’s music became a bit more “pop”, a bit more mainstream, and, I began to see the appeal of his music. And, ok, I’ll admit, when he had the blond hair, and the tight suits, I fell a bit in love.
It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I began to really listen to his older music, and, I could really appreciate how brilliant he is.
It’s been a decade since he’s had any new music, and, imagine my surprise when I ran across his new song and video last night, a song that was just released this week, from his forthcoming album The Next Day, being released on March 11. From the video comments, it seems there’s a mixed reaction to the song — I guess this is true of most music: music does not appeal to everyone equally. My first reaction was tears. I don’t quite know why. I think it’s the nostalgia for days long gone. Some of it is the beautiful music — it’s so sad and melancholy. I like the song more and more with each listen.
Dear Mr. Bowie: Thanks for the great new song. Thanks for all the years of letting me know that Different is something to celebrate.
Sincerely, with much affection,
That One Different Kid. The one from Aurora.
(For more on the new album, check out this article from The Sun)
As the holidays wind down, and we drift back into the working world, here’s a song to get your fingers snapping, and, hopefully put a smile on your face. I don’t know about you, but, I sure don’t wanna work that hard….
On the UK version of “X Factor”, Ella Henderson shows us how you do a cover song: take a well known song, and make it your own.
They say that in order to overcome bad habits, one must first admit to them.
So, here we go: I love to wander around the YouTube vaults, looking for music; old songs, new songs, songs from all those wonderful 1970s and 1980s variety shows.
I have a weird memory. I may not always remember what I did yesterday, but, I remember all kinds of songs and performances from those long gone days of TV.
Case in point: this pop-crossover song from Dolly Parton (back when Dolly looked like Dolly.) The song is Potential New Boyfriend. I think Nicki Minaj should update and remake this song. I can just hear it now: Bitch, Keep Your Crack Ho’ Hands Off My Baby Daddy.
Or maybe not.
Most of us have an artist who’s songs seem to be the soundtrack of our life. For me, it was Donna Summer. Whenever I play one of her songs, images and memories fill my brain, and I’m reliving the moments.
These two songs are from Donna’s 1987 album All Systems Go, an album that didn’t receive too much attention. Maybe some day I’ll share the full memories these two songs conjure up, but, not now. It was a dark period in my life, a time that wounded me, yet, ultimately changed me for the better.
The first song takes me to the time of the end of a relationship. I was 21, and my first real relationship was ending, and, while it was a necessary ending, there was still that nostalgia for the Good Times. This song made me think of the relationship that ended, and, also, about the desire to move on and find another love.
As my relationship was ending, this next song seemed to echo so much of what I was going through. It’s not a broken-heart song. It’s a song that’s meaning to me is summed up in the lyric:
It’s a life of a boy who’s scared
Of the waves rushing out
And the wind in the air
It’s a sight of one longing to taste of life.
Even now, as a 46 year old man, when The Black Wave of Depression envelops me, I still feel like that boy who’s scared of the waves and the wind, a boy who wants to be free. There’s a mournfulness in the song, yet the song gives me hope as well, its lyric lifts me up:
It’s the hope
That the time goes by
Take you up on a wing
Teach your soul how to fly
It’s a wish that you live to experience life
And, hey… as a Crazy Man, any song about The Voices makes total sense.
I’ll admit it: I’m a Long Time Donna Fan. Since I was a kid. And, that was more than a few years ago. In fact, it was all the way back in 1979, when I, an awkward, gangly thirteen year old, bought my first album, Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls.” It was a big deal, back then, not only because it was such a success, but, because it was a double album — two records! I still have it, in fact, though it’s well-worn.
She was known as The Queen of Disco, and, man, could she make you want to get up and dance. She’ll always be remembered for those Disco tunes, like “Hot Suff”, and “Bad Girls”, and “Last Dance”. For me, though, it’s the ballads that I love, where the richness of her voice shined!
As my way of saying goodbye to the only celebrity I ever wrote a fan letter too (back when I was about 14 or 15), I’d like to share my favorite Donna Summer songs over the next few days. I’ll let others share “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls”, so you might not recognize some of the tunes, since some weren’t big radio hits. Hopefully you’ll discover why I loved her voice so much.
Peace, Ms Summer. Peace.
“‘The Conqueror’ might seem like a traditional love song, but I wrote it from seeing people – and being in a situation myself – where you find yourself loving the other person’s love more than being in love. It’s like if you manage to conquer his love and own his heart, even though you fail as a couple, at least you’ll be remembered. You’ll always be special for that person.’”
So, here we are at Day 5 of Jim Steinman week.
Have I mentioned that Steinman is one of this year’s inductees into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame? He’s in good company, as this years class also includes Bob Seger and Gordon Lightfoot, among others.
Today’s entry is a performance by The Mother Of All Divas: Barbra.
I have to admit, when I first encountered this song, I was skeptical. Barbra singing a Meat Loaf song? Barbra? Really?
Then I listened to it. Know what? It works. She’s got The Big Voice, and the skill to handle all the vocal aerobics the song requires. She brings some real feeling to the song: a strong woman demanding of her cheating lover to “Tell me who! Tell me where! Tell me when!” (you can practically see her standing there, confronting her lover, and ticking the three things off on her fingers), and mixes it with a heartbreaking vulnerability, when she softly sings “I just need some love, so turn out the lights, and I’ll be left in the dark again.” On of Streisand’s strengths, her phrasing, is quite evident in this song, you can her the anger, the sarcasm, the longing, even the irony of it all, coming through loud and clear.
Take a listen, and see what you think. Loud is a good volume at which to play this one.
We’re at Day 4 of Jim Steinman week.
If you’ve been listening to the songs this week, you’ll have noticed a pattern to Steinman’s songs. The songs have quiet parts, loud parts, angelic choir parts, cymbals crashing, resulting in a sort of Wagnerian Pop-Rock Opera. And, because they are operatic in tone, not just anyone can sing a Steinman song. A Big Song needs a Big Voice.
From 1996, here’s “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now”, performed by Celine Dion, arguably the Biggest Pop Voice around:
Yes, you’re correct — I’ve changed the name of this series. What the heck…might as well post Noon’s Tune at the stroke of Twelve Noon. Right?
Today’s tune is an oldie from the soundtrack of “The Rose”, starring Bette Midler. For those
who’ve just dropped in from another planet who might not know, “The Rose” is loosely based on the life of the great Janis Joplin.
“Stay With Me” is a song that Janis Joplin did sing, though, it can be tough to find (there are a few live performance videos to be found using The Google.) It pains me to say, Janis fan that I am, I really think that this particular live version by Midler is actually a better version.
For anyone who’s been left, dumped, kicked aside in a relationship… this song is for you.
Continuing Bettye LaVette week…
When the movie Philadelphia was released, in 1993, it was the first mainstream movie to deal with the AIDS epidemic. The theme song, “Streets of Philadelphia,” was written and performed by Bruce Springsteen. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Here is Springsteen’s performance at the Oscar ceremony. The ethereal synths give the song a haunting, unearthly feel, the words are stark and poetic, yet, it’s as Pop sounding as most movie theme songs. I think this is one of The Boss’s best live performances:
In LaVette’s version of the song, gone are the drum beats and the ethereal synths. Instead, it’s LaVette and a piano, with the song stripped to its barest bones and rawest emotion. LaVette takes Springsteen’s great song and pulls every ounce of feeling from the words, and rips out a bit of our soul with it’s stark desolate tone. This one gives me tears every time:
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Love this song! (Amanda Sudano, the female voice on the track, is the daughter of Bruce Sudano, of Brooklyn Dreams, and Donna Summer, she of the majestic voice!)
A bit of blusey, soulful pop music from across the pond.
No, no…not to worry. I’m not suddenly turning this into a music blog.
I was keeping a music blog, but, I found that I’d spend hours listening to music, searching for posts. Not that listening to music for hours is a bad thing, it’s just that I was listing to music, rather than doing the things I really should have been doing. So, I stopped the music blog.
But, I haven’t stopped listening to music entirely. Music has always played a big role in my life; reading, writing, and music are the things that bring the most comfort to my soul (cheese and ice cream would be right up there as well).
I’ve always believed that music should not just be listened to, not just felt, but, it also needs to be shared. This is my way of sharing music I like with you.
Be forewarned: I like a wide variety of music, everything from Rock, to Pop, to Opera, to Folk, to Bluegrass, to Soul, and even a bit of country. I adore jazz, and The Blues move me like no other music can.
Here, then, is the first of what I hope to be a pretty regular feature: Noon’s Tune Du Jour (Noon is a derivative of my last name — as well as a derivative of a nickname I had long ago, and was rather fond of: Noonski).
I heard this song a few months back, and, while it was a catchy song from Fun., a group who’s previous album I liked, and while it also featured Janelle Monáe, who I adore, I was rather meh about this song. Then, this evening, I ran across this acoustic version, and I am definitely not meh about this version. (The album version can be heard/seen here.)