2

Fantasy Concert Song Sequence

If I were a better singer, I would definitely want to give concerts. Not to be famous, maybe at a small pub or something. I’d like to mix genres, from easy listening to disco, from Israeli to remixed pop, from R&B to classics.

Every so often, I come across a sequence of songs on my iPod that blend into one another so seamless despite crossing genres that it almost feels like the same people could be singing. I usually forget those combos, but tonight I decided to change that, so behold, my first ever Fantasy Concert Song Sequence post. Doesn’t really roll off the tongue, but these songs sure do.

The first song, is “House on the Lake,” from the Black Cadillac album by Rosanne Cash. It has a nice little gentle flow to it, not quite soporific, but soothing – a light, easy listening/country/folk number. After it faded out, the next song to come on was from the 90s R&B girl power song “Don’t Let Go” by En Vogue. It’s a similar tempo, but a with a little more punch to it, and would most likely wake the audience back up, especially with the rapid genre change. As I was getting into the shower, that song ended and the next one began. It was from the same era and genre, but it fit nicely just the same, “Words” by Anthony David & India.Arie. These are not my three favorite songs in the world, but they loop together quite nicely, so take a listen.

Hopefully this will be the start of an interesting new series of posts.

15

On Having A Song Stuck In Your Head All Weekend

My weekend was ruined.

All because of one song.

It all started Friday night, when I went to the dance. I danced to this one song, “Shut Up and Dance,” by Walk the Moon (which is not Walk Off the Earth), and fortunately, Emily was there to tell me the song’s title and artist. That reminded me of another song which I had heard several times, that sounded sort of similar, but not exactly the same.

And of course, I couldn’t remember a single lyric.

I knew the general tune, and that it went “boom boom boom” something, and I knew that if I heard it just once, I’d be like, oh, of course, that song. Friday came and went, but by yesterday afternoon, after dance class, I was humming the song in my head again. I just couldn’t get it out. And the worst part was that I didn’t even know what I was singing.

And it was tearing me to pieces.

I kept thinking of every single other similar sounding song: “Drive By,” (Train); “50 Ways to Say Goodbye” (Train); “Maps” (Maroon 5); “Animals” (Maroon 5); “Counting Stars” (One Republic); “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Fall Out Boy); “Glad You Came” (The Wanted)…and that was when I realized that three-quarters of the songs released by male artists in the last five years all sound exactly the same.

Anyway, I was up until 3 AM last night, going to extreme measures. I was using up my bandwidth to listen to every song by every group from the last five years that sounded even remotely similar to the one I was looking for. I scoured Wikipedia, Google, and SoundsJustLike.com for anything to trigger a memory. Today, I even made a Pandora channel for “50 Ways” in hopes that that song would come up (strangely, I got a lot of Adele, not that I’m complaining). It was literally pounding at my frontal lobe; no grading, no homework, just find that damn song so you can get some sleep tonight. It wasn’t until I downloaded Spotify and played two full playlists of contemporary 127 BPM or higher jive songs that I finally found it. Then I realized that it’s Sunday night and I’ve barely made a dent in grading.

And that’s how to ruin a perfectly good weekend by looking for a song.

I guess after all that, I should let you know what the song was…but I won’t!

 

 

 

…Just kidding, it was “Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars. Have a listen.

14

Classic Song Sunday is now Classic Song Saturday: “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?”

I realized that I couldn’t let October escape me without posting one of my favorite classic songs, the Goffin/King masterpiece “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?”

It was made famous by The Shirelles, who, in 1961, used it to become the first girl group to reach #1 on the Billboard Charts in the USA. Here is their beautiful performance of said song, in a rare clip from the 1960s. Check out the hairstyles and the big smiles!

This song is a classic because the lyrics are genderless, timeless, and unforgettable. It can be sped up or slowed down, like Carole King did on her legendary album Tapestry. Plain and simple, very few songs can beat it.

Check out Leslie Grace‘s bachata remix:

And this slightly up-tempo version by Linda Ronstadt:

And, as a bonus, a music video I appeared in as a backup dancer, with my ballroom friends Jameson and Emily. What do you think? See if you can find me, I’m the first guy on Olivia’s right when she enters, dancing with Emily (short-ish girl with long brown hair).

 

0

Classic Song Sunday: He’s A Rebel

It’s the last Sunday in October, so I figure I’d end it on a bang with the spunky “He’s A Rebel” for Classic Song Sunday. 

The twinkly piano notes at the beginning belie the hard notes and the gritty message the song relates. The roughness of the songs content directly echoes the roughness of the song’s history. It was written by Gene Pitney and produced by Phil Spector (you already know it’s bound to be a lulu right there). Originally recorded by The Blossoms, it was credited to The Crystals because…Phil Spector…something about the Crystals being on an East Coast tour at the time, while the Blossoms were in LA and ready to go. You can only imagine how shocked the Crystals were when hearing about their newest hit, which they didn’t even know existed. The song was added to the Crystals’ repertoire, but Barbara Alston couldn’t hit the notes, which led to a rearrangement of talent within the group and Alston’s relegation to background singer. And in a documentary, Darlene Love (singer of the no-no-no’s) gives a creepy history as to why those no’s are in there: it was because she was so frustrated with Spector and didn’t know what he wanted from her, and other pieces of drama. Have a listen.

Here’s a remake by British group Alisha’s Attic for the 1997 movie Bean. Not the most inspired, but has a little bit more of an ambient 80s-90s sound, not terrible but nothing like the original.

What I like the most about this song as that it’s so…unexpected. It just veers off into weird directions, and the phrasing shifts, the harmonies go in and out of each other, and it highlights the individual singers as well as the collective.

1

Classic Song Sunday: Vonda-rama

It’s Classic Song Sunday again, and this entry is dedicated to some of Vonda Shepard’s legendary covers.

Most of you probably don’t know who Vonda Shepard is, so I’m here to tell you. She is a genre-crossing singer who bears a slight resemblance to Carly Simon. Her big break came on Ally McBeal, where she was a recurring guest and sang the theme song.

“Tell Him”

Originally by the Exciters (more on them and their legendary awful music video here), Vonda’s cover appeared on a CD featuring the music of Ally McBeal. The soundtrack also featured some other kick-ass Vonda covers, including “It’s In His Kiss,” “I Only Want to Be With You” and “Hooked On A Feeling”, which comes in at a close second. But this version of “Tell Him” is just so much fun.

Linda Ronstadt also made a cover, and the music video features women having a pajama party who are too old to be doing that.

“To Sir With Love”

This hit originally came from England’s tour-de-force Lulu, but Vonda Shepard and Al Green remade it into an uptempo, almost rockabilly duet that, again, can only put a smile on your face.

So, there you have it, two great covers of two classic songs.

What the heck, I’ll throw in a bonus song, a song which should be a classic: “I Know Him By Heart.”

 

8

Classic Song Sunday: “You Can’t Hurry Love”

Another Sunday, another Classic Song. This week, it’s “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

Almost every version of this song is a true winner. In fact, along with “Respect” (which is, ironically, a song that no singer has been able to replicate), it was one of my favorite songs growing up and one of the first songs I actually knew all the words to.

It was written by the Motown team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. The original was performed by the Supremes, and is just the right mix of careful tiptoe phrasing and peppy power plea. I have no idea what the last sentence just meant, but hear it for yourself and you might figure out what I mean.

About 15 years later, a boy version came along courtesy of Phil Collins. It’s not the same as the previous version, but has that slight leather-jacket 1980s feel to it, especially in the wall of sound. It’s not as 80s as the remake of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” but that’s a song for another post. I slightly prefer the Supremes’ version to this one, but it has its charms, and transposes it into a key with which I can identify.

Then, for the movie Runaway Bride, “You Can’t Hurry Love,” was remade by the Dixie Chicks in a bit of a country-love remix. I will not tell you my Runaway Bride story, because even though it’s funny in hindsight, it’s still embarrassing, and even more embarrassing because my parents tell it to people all the time. Still, I love the movie, it’s one of my favorites, and having visited the filming locations in Berlin, Maryland puts it in a special place in my heart, along with this really fun and contemporary version of the song. It has some beautiful harmonies in it.

Stay tuned for more Classic Song Sundays, hopefully to become a regular feature!

1

Classic Song Sunday: “Be My Baby”

Boom. Ba Boom. TSS.

Boom. Ba Boom. TSS.

Anyone who knows pop music can instantly identify this song just by the opening percussion. Whether you’re a fan of the Ronettes from way back, or have seen Dirty Dancing, you’ve heard “Be My Baby.” 

Written by Phil Spector, Ellie Greenwich, and Jeff Barry in 1963 and released by the Ronettes in 1964, “Be My Baby” has been called “one of the best tracks of all time” by everyone from Brian Wilson to Time magazine. The tough, punchy percussion, combined with Ronnie’s sultry vocals, awesome lyrics and a catchy chorus, make this song a timeless hit. The only thing that could have made it better was the song’s backup vocalists; for some reason, Estelle Bennett and Nedra Talley, the actual Ronettes, were left out, and apparently Cher and Darlene Love are among the voices on the track going “be my, be my baby.”

Hear the actual Ronettes sing it here:

There are a few covers out there, but the only one that I think is notable is Leslie Grace‘s Spanish-infused bachata remix.

And as a bonus, here’s Ronnie performing it in 2015.

72 years old.

And still utterly fabulous.

Be my baby, Ronnie Spector.