Archive | August, 2009

Lyric of the Day #56: Top 100 Lyricist #91

31 Aug

In 1987, the year that the Twinkies from Minnesota won the world series despite only winning 85 games in the regular season, John Hiatt hit some long-awaited success with his February released album entitled Bring The Family. Hiatt and a backing band that consisted of such musicians as Ry Cooder (ranked the 8th best guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone), Nick Lowe (of punk rock fame), and Jim Keltner (a session drummer who worked with different Beatles on their solo projects), hit the charts with numerous hits and propelled Hiatt to a following nine albums on the Billboard top 200 charts. Now, I am sure some of you may be thinking who the heck is John Hiatt and how did he compile such a band. Well, what if I was to tell you that he is a recipient of the 2008 AMA Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting and that his songs have been covered by too many artists to list on this post. How did he compile the band? Well, the band was surely excited to have the oppurtunity to play with a legend.

John Hiatt

Hiatt, similar to a guy like Bob Dylan, has played numerous different styles of music. Another performer who decided not to find his own niche. He has explored New Wave, Country, and Blues. Possibly, because he could not settle into a style, he has been under appreciated by the masses. I am sure many of you have not heard a song performed by him but have heard songs written by him and performed by other artists. He is one musician who is simply respected by all musicians and therefore has been honored with several Grammy nominations and a stockpile of awards from the music industry.  Copy that website into your browser (well open up a new Tab first) and go to it. Yes, right now. Take a look off to the right. See that tremendous list. Those are all his songs that have been covered by other artists. Understand now why so many people in the business respect. Heck, most of them have performed one of his songs.

Hiatt Performing

Hiatt, after a rough childhood (his brother committed suicide at the age of 21 and his father died two years later after a long sickness) turned to Elvis and Dylan and the Blues for some relief. He picked up the guitar at 11 years old and started his music career as a teenager. At eighteen he got a job in Nashville, Tennessee as a songwriter. Yet, since he could not read scores, he was forced to record over 250 songs for the company. His body of work is huge.

I believe the best way to describe his lyrical prowess would be through taking his two most covered songs and exploring what makes the lyrics so great. “Feels Like Rain,” off of his 1988 album Slow Turning has been covered by eight musicians, including the great Buddy Guy and “Have a Little Faith in Me,” off of his 1987 album Bring in the Family has been covered by eighteen (EIGHTEEN) artists including Joe Cocker and Kenny Rogers.

Slow Turning

In “Feels Like Rain,” I particularly like the end of the song which chronicles two lovers in a rain storm. It is kind of similar to everyone’s favorite Christmas rape song “Baby it’s Cold Outside,” but this actually is pretty loving. The lyrics are below:

We’ll never make that bridge tonight

Across lake Ponchartrain

Feel like rain

Batten down the hatches

But keep your heart out on your sleeve

A little bit of stormy weather, that’s no cause for us to leave

Just stay here baby, in my arms

Let it wash away the pain

I love the beautifuly symbolism of the rain washing away any heart ache. It also represents love which comes out of nowhere. The song mentions that love comes like a Hurricane and while these things do past what can stay the same is his love staying with him through all the rain.

“Have a Little Faith in Me,” is a similar concept on love

Bring the Family

“Have a little faith in me

When your secret heart

Cannot speak so easily

Come here darlin’

From a whisper start

To have a little faith in me

And when your back’s against the wall

Just turn around and you will see

I will catch, I will catch your fall baby

Just have a little faith in me”

Here the simple message is have some faith in me and we can have a stable love. A stable love for a stable musician whose work just continues to get larger and better as the years go on.

“Have A Little Faith in Me”:

“Feels Like Rain”:


Song of the Day #55: “Honky Tonk Women,” by The Rolling Stones

30 Aug

I was at a loss for decision making this morning so I turned to my trusty suitemate Marc to suggest a year to me. He said 1969 and I said fine. I unearthed the charts from 1969 and number one on this date 40 years ago was none other then “Honky Tonk Women,” by the flamboyant Beatles counter-parts, The Rolling Stones.

Honky Tonk Women

There is no need to go through any history behind the Jagger/Richards combo of goodness so let us get into the song of the day. The story behind the song takes place in Brazil. Both Jagger and Richards were vacationing from December of 1968 into the new year when a thought popped in their creative heads. Let’s write a song that focuses on the Gaucho’s (residents of the South American pampas (Brazil like area)) Wow that is some Spanish lesson. Did you know that originally the song was supposed to be an ode to 1930’s country music. Yet, the track that was originally called “Country Honk” turned electric with the introduction of Mick Taylor into the band and became the track we know and love today. The video is below and it is from Hyde Park which means extra cool.

Lyric of the Day #55: Top 100 Lyricists #93

29 Aug

Good morning readers. I am sitting here in my dorm room with a watchful eye on the clock for breakfast will soon be upon my mates. So, yes, college is going to be a challenge for the blog. Soon enough I will be going to a three hour internship for four days a week and will be doing work for that, as well as, the three classes I am also taking during the semester. It will be busy and I promise I will try my hardest to keep to the post a day spirit. Wish I had others to help me out but still looking for some e-mails. Some posts may be shorter but I am definitely going to do my best. So, without further ado, lyricist #93

Did you know that Gordon Sumner has sold over 100 million albums worldwide and is widely regarded as one of the most succesful musicians on this side of the solar system (Kind of hard to compete with Madonna who also sells very well on her home planet (Saturn’s moon Titan). Which music fan who claims to know everything that music has to offer is shaking their heads and going to themselves Who? How can I not know who this is? Well, originally I had a very similar reaction. I had heard of the name but could not put a face to it. It became easy when I learned that Gordon Sumner is the birth name of a man who most refer to simply as Sting.


Now it all clears up. Sting has been about as succesful as you can be as an artist. With the Police he has hit great heights. 50 million records sold, #70 on Rolling Stone’s greatest artists of all time, a title of highest earning musicians in 2008. They did this all with their quirky mix of jazz, punk, and yes, even reggae music which they fused to make both marketable and catchy. Their music is good and everyone feels required to admit that the wierd combo of music works. But, lyric wise, Sting did not really blossom until his equally succesful solo career. His lyrics became more abstract and even self-deprecating. Sting turned an interesting corner and, for that reason, he is named the #93 lyricist of all time.

Like the rest of the artists for this segment, I would like to focus on two of their works of lyrics to demonstrate their lyrical abilities. For Sting we shall start with a little known song off of side two of his 1987 double album release …Nothing Like the Sun.

...or does it...according to Sting

...or does it...according to Sting

“If  we seek solace in the prisons of the distant past
Security in human systems we’re told will always always last
Emotions are the sail and blind faith is the mast
Without a breath of real freedom we’re getting nowhere fast

If  God is dead and an actor plays his part
His words of fear will find their way to a place in your heart
Without the voice of reason every faith is its own curse
Without freedom from the past things can only get worse”

Really uplifting right. Sting’s lyrics though do touch on some very interesting concepts, and I particularly think these lyrics are great because of how he puts into song a bit of a history lesson. The line that hits deep is the last one. There is a school of thought that says humans in no way will learn from their mistakes. The common adage is learn from the past. Yet, as Sting says eloquently without freedom from the past things can only get worse. I believe he is saying here that human beings have free will and that is why they will continue to make mistakes. They will not learn from the past because of this freedom. Yet, on the other hand, with freedom from past mistakes things my ultimately get better. Sting is touching on this concept and I think he is doing well

Demolition Man His next lyric is from the Police song (but mainly Sting piece) “Demolition Man,” that when released as an EP for the film “Demolition Man” with the always pleasent combination of Stallone/Snipes received very poor reviews. The lyrics are self-destructive and good.

“I’m a walking nightmare, an arsenal of doom
I kill conversation as I walk into the room
I’m a three line whip, I’m the sort of thing they ban
I’m a walking disaster, I’m a demolition man
Demolition, demolition
Demolition, demolition”

These lyrics are just funny. I like them because of this. It is like “Mr. Bad Example,” by Warren Zevon. Creative stuff. I kill conversation as I walk into the room. Haha. Thanks for letting us laugh at you Sting even though you have made millions and millions and millions of dollars. I’m not laughing anymore.

Moving up to School

28 Aug

I apologize for the lack of posting today. Moving up to Binghamton University has taken up the majority of my day. I promise you though that tomorrow there will be some epic posting. Cross my heart, hope to die. I shall be posting from my new quarters in my dorm room. I cannot leave you with nothing today though. So, straight from my roommate Josh, the present song that has been stuck in his head for over a month, “There will be a Light,” by Ben Harper.

Song of the Day #54: “Get Back,” by The Beatles

27 Aug


Yes, the time has come for my 4 hour trek back to Binghamton, New York. Surprisingly, I will be heading into my Junior year which most definitely backs the concept that life goes by as fast as Usain Bolt can run the 100 meter. You know you like that running reference. Anyway, sticking with the theme of getting back, I thought what would be a better song to profile today than The Beatle’s road classic, “Get Back”


I do admit I need to change some lyrics so bear with me here. Jojo is now Matthew. I left my home in Jericho, New York for some Binghamton snowy grass. Okay, the rhythm was thrown a little bit but I think I established the point. “Get Back,” was written by the Lennon/McCartney writing duo but was mainly a McCartney song. The Beatles released it as a single (B Side was “Don’t Let me Down,” which can also be a good song for parents to sing to their students who are going back to school. Man, Julie Taymor’s job in directing “Across The Universe,” was not too hard. I have already themed two songs for a scene about going to College. Forget about journalism, I am going to be a director.) Well, that was a large sidenote that was insulting to directors everywhere. I apologize your job is hard and I would most likely fail at doing it. But, if you need a music coordinator please give me a ring.

We need a good Did you know to get us back on track. Did you know that The Beatle’s released the single “Get Back,” in April of 1969 under the name of The Beatles with Billy Preston? Billy Preston This was the only Beatles’ single that was credited to another artist beside themselves. But, you know me, I love to reach back. This is actually a slight bit false. Tony Sheridan, the English Rock n’ Roll singer-songwriter cut a track with The Beatles’ on his single, “My Bonnie,” which was issued in the UK in 1962. Beatles’ trivia is always interesting.

Enjoy the video of the rooftop performance while I am taking my long ride back to Binghamton:

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