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Come Back Baby
Songs of loss, my baby's gone. Baby won't you come back. Strong men cry, strong women will do anything to get their lover back. Some are resigned to living alone for mistreating the ones they love. The Stoppers sound resigned. at least Jimmy, the lead singer does. Come back baby
is a sweet bit of soul with that chorus "Come back baby, come back, come back baby, come back, to me." It's what Van Morrison
heard in the night from the Voice of America and it never let him down. Not, the VOA, of course, or America, but that sound. It never lets you down.
Ray Charles has the blues, smoky horns, I'm so sorry baby. "Come back baby, let's talk it over one more time.
" Ray's a snake, but she'll do it even though he mistreats her.
Sunnyland Slim and Hubert Sumlin don't want you to stay
, just come for a while. Lay up in that bed. Listening to Hubert, you can understand why Howlin' Wolf threatened to shoot Muddy Waters for stealing Hubert for Muddy's band.
The Thrills don't want your sorry ass around anymore. Don't come back
. Tough chicks. The Shangri-Las' daughters all grown up.
Speaking of the Shangri-Las, sometimes the boy can't come back. Look out, look out, look out, look out!
Popular music is full of loves songs, mostly of the dysfunctional kind. Baby, I'll die if you leave
. That sort of thing was a staple of pop music back in the days when radio mattered. Of course, there's a lot more to love than the sort of thing that can be captured in 2:46. Still some great pop songs have written about love angst, teen or otherwise.
The Shangri-Las were every greaser's wet dream, probably a lot of nerds too. Give Him a Great Big Kiss
isn't exactly a love song, more like teen lust, but it has the greatest spoken introduction in pop history. So good that David Johansen and the NY Dolls stole it stole it for Looking for a Kiss
. How can you go wrong with lyrics
Big bulky sweaters to match his eyes
Oh boy what a prize
Tight tapered pants, high button shoes
He's always looking like he's got the blues
How could a girl from Queens resist those dirty fingernails. This was one of Shadow Morton's teen symphonies. The Shangri-Las made the other girl groups like the Supremes and the Ronnetts look like goody-two-shoes.
When it comes to real love songs, Smokey Robinson is the master. Bob Dylan called Smokey the greatest romantic poet alive today. Smokey cranked out rhymes and produced hits for Motown in its heyday. For pure soul, you can't beat My Girl,
one of the hits he penned for the Temptations. It starts with James Jameson's bass heartbeat and then the guitar riff followed by that steady drum beat. Smokey wrote this for lead singer David Ruffin. It's tailored perfectly for his voice. No matter how many times I've heard this, I never get tired of it. I don't think anyone else does either.
Smokey also wrote the greatest teen makeout song, Ooh Baby Baby
. During the sixties, Mowton was a perfect hit making machine. The band on this song is also the Funk Brothers. Many bands tried to get that sound, but the bass and drums on this and so many other Motown songs of the period set a standard that none could match. And then there's Smokey's voice, like a voice you hear in a dream and that stays when you wake up.
The Cure know about Lovesong
) Too bad this video is so dumb. Robert smith singing in a cave, who thinks these things up?
Only Nick Cave could get away with opening a song with a line like "I don't believe in an interventionist God" and make it work, but Back Into My Arms
works, mixing prayer and love. It's supposedly dedicated to PJ Harvey.
Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane seems like an unlikely pairing, but they mesh perfectly. This entire album is just plain wonderful. The songs are very spare, usually just an intro by Trane followed by Hartman's baritone interpretation of the song. Together they manage to turn some fairly pedestrian tunes into great art. Pick any song on the album and it's great. My One and Only Love
is an example. Each track on the album was recorded in a single take, except one. That one was recorded twice only because Elvin Jones dropped a drumstick. That's an indication of how perfect the match between the Coltrane quartet and Johnny Hartman was.
Lamb is one of my favorite bands from the 90's. Lou Rhodes has one of those not perfect voices that delivers perfect songs. This one, Gabriel
, gives me chills. I'm not sure what it's really about, but to my mind it's one of the few mature love songs. (lyrics
I can love
But I need his heart
I am strong even on my own
But from him I never want to part
I'm good on my own, but you make me better.
The greatest love song of all
isn't about romantic love. Again, the heartbeat bass and steady drums, but this time function as a prayer. If I ever have a memorial service, I want this played.
Are you also freightened? by Animal Collective
is part of Animal Collectives paean
to domesticity, Merriweather Post Pavilion. John Lennon in his later period preached domestic bliss from time to time, but no one does like these guys. The lyrics
express the hopes and fears of having a family better than John ever did. It could just be sentimental but the sound removes any chance of that. The is a song where I'm glad I read the lyrics, but to me it is the sound that makes it so good. Animal Collective puts out a wall of sound - voices, drumming, keyboards, hand claps in a big bright mix. Then the chorus bursts out. Damn right, you're frightened, but no one should call you a dreamer. The whole production sounds like a campfire song for the first Martian settlers.
I think this:
If they should run in the dark,
we can't sweat it; one takes one by the hand,
Let them craw into the logs,
Let damp ground change the hue on their pants.
is a better transcription of one of stanzas. In any case, the song's meaning is clear. At least to me.
This is the song that everyone grabbed onto - My Girls
. The lyrics are here
. I think they get it about right. It would be hard to make this tune better. The lyrics are simple. It's the "whooo" at the end of the chorus that makes it perfect.
Panda Bear (Noah Lenox, the song's author) says this anout it "I wish I could say I was that globally minded! But I guess it's more of a self-centred sort of thing; it was really just my desire on a basic level to own my own place and kind of provide a safe house for my family and the people I care about. I thought that was at once a kind of weird materialistic thing but at the same time a noble thing."
I don't want to get into much about the band. You can get their story at wikipedia
. Born at an early age, met at school, many albums blah, blah.... Not that it's not interesting, but if you said they were from Krypton, it would explain as much about these songs. These two and the other on the album, especially Summer Clothes, stand up to repeated listening. This stuff is so good, even the radio can't totally ignore it.
The Animal Collective pieces are sophisticated songs about looking at the future and choosing a path that matters, taking care of the ones you love, and making some of the best music of the early 21st century. The next song Michelle Shocked's Ankorage
, tells the story of two friend's whose path diverged. (lyrics
) One became a housewife and the other went for fame. Although I don't think there was ever a chance that 'Shelle would become a housewife, the song is wistful and more than a bit sentimental. Ms. Shocked certainly sees the virtues of home life, but it's not for her. She can only appreciate it from a distance. Her friend? Well, New York City, imagine that. Wistful, but there's no going back.
This is a straightforward folkie type tune, it's plain compared to the layered Animal Collective compositions: simple bass, drum, and guitar. Ms. Shocked delivers it with no frills. The tale is told and it's done. We made our choices and we go with our lives.
It's not all domestic bliss. Ask Kid Creole and the Coconuts
about Endicott (lyrics
). Kid Creole looks and sounds like the bastard child of Cab Calloway, no Endicott in him. Do the girls really want Endicott, or the Kid? They want him to be like Endicott, but maybe they prefer the Kid after dark. This song is from some time in the 80's. It has always been one of my favorites. The video captures the whole Endicott scene.
Once you leave home, you're always looking back, but like the cliche says "You can never go home again". Rod Stewart understood that. Before he was Rod the Mod, Rod the Bod, and finally Rod the Sod, Rod was one hell of a singer, fronting what may have been at the time, the best band in England. Rod could walk the fine line between sentiment and schlock and never cross it. His first two solo albums were perfect mixes of rockers and ballads. The first album, simply called The Rod Stewart Album
is worth a listen for An Old Overcoat Won't Let You Down
and Handbags and Gladrags
. And what a band! Ron Wood and Martin Quittenton on guitar, Ronnie Lane on bass, Mick Waller on drums etc. They play simple but perfect music on Gasoline Alley
. The music makes a perfect fit with Rod's lyrics
. This band would go on to becomes the basis for the Faces, one of the hardest rocking outfits of the 70's. Ron Wood became a Stone. Ronnie Lane became a Face, and Rod makes music for old ladies. Talk about paths diverging. 'Schelle Shocked could probably tell you a few thing about that. Might be a song in it.
The last song is also from the 80's, Streets Of Your Town
by the Australian band The Go-Betweens. (lyrics
) It's extremely catchy. It bounces aright along but the lyrics are ominous "And this town is full of battered wives." How do you go home again when they tore it down? It was never your town. It was their town.
I'm in Frownland
There are a lot of musicians that I respect. However, there are two geniuses that i respect above all others, John Coltrane and Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart
. I was immensely sadded to hear of his death yesterday. Others will give elegies the Captain. I'll just go and listen to Trout Mask Replica
Music wants to free
It doesn't really want to be anything, but you want it to be free and lots of it is. Two great sources of free music are the Free Music Archive
and the Internet Audio Archive
. The latter has much more than just music. It's loaded with news, radio programs, lectures etc. Two recent discoveries from the Internet Archive are Noir
and French Afrocentric
by Twin Muses both from Dusted Wax Kingdom
Noir is acid jazz like and Twin Muses remind me of Portishead. Dusted Wax Kingdom is a Bulgarian label.
The Musical Golden Age
This is the golden age of music. I'm not referring to the quality of the music produced, although there's a tremendous amount of wonderful music being made right now. Rather, I mean the ability to listen to whatever you want, whenever you want it. Pick any tune or performance and google it and you'll likely find it available to be streamed or downloaded, usually legally. The streaming music services have improved over the last year so much that they represent an alternative to having your own collection. The popular services have millions of tunes of all type.
I subscribe to Rhapsody
, probably the most complete library, but there are a number of other streaming services with similar libraries: MOG All-Access
to name just two others.
The three mentioned above require a monthly payment, although they all have free trials. Grooveshark
is a free service where you can stream music uploaded by other people. It has music that doesn't show up on the other services, Zappa
Of course, there's still lots of net radio, despite SoundExchange's attempt to kill it
. The best web radio, of course, is WFMU
, the greatest radio station in the universe.
You are what you listen to
According to this Australian article
, doctors should ask their teenage patients what type of music they prefer to determine if they are at risk of developing a mental illness or committing suicide.
Here's the rundown on musical types and social problems: Pop - Conformists, overly responsible, role-conscious, struggling with sexuality or peer acceptance; Heavy metal -Higher levels of suicidal ideation, depression, drug use, self-harm, shoplifting, vandalism, unprotected sex; Dance - Higher levels of drug use regardless of socio-economic background; Jazz/R&B - Introverted misfits, loners; Rap - Higher levels of theft, violence, anger, street gang membership, drug use and misogyny.
I think I'm doomed. Here's what I listened to today while I worked: Eklektik Radio
- obscure and classic new wave, surf, spy, exotica, weird (sadly, going off the air); Paul Weller - pop; Weather Report - jazz; Hank Crawford - jazz; Muddy Waters - blues. Right now I'm listening to some downtempo stuff on Rhapsody - dance.
No heavy metal or rap so far. I guess i don't have to worry about suicide or committing any crimes tonight. I guess I'm just an overly responsible, role-conscious, struggling with my sexuality or peer acceptance, drug using, introverted loner and misfit. Oh, well.
Probably this only applies to teenager. Most adults fall into the overly responsible, role-conscious mode anyway. Maybe that's why they listen to pop so much.
It's a bit hard to tell from the news article whether there is anything to this. My bet is that there isn't much. This seems like a case of confounding variables and weak correlation. If you surveyed all heavy metal listeners, would the suicide rate be higher than for opera listeners?
The Supremes sing Dylan
The absence of any right to the substantive recovery means that respondents cannot benefit from the judgment they seek and thus lack Article III standing," Chief Justice Roberts wrote. " 'When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.' Bob Dylan, Like a Rolling Stone, on Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia Records 1965).
Chief Justice John Roberts
citing Bob Dylan in his dissent in Sprint v. APCC Services.
I would have thought they would have used To live outside the law, you must be honest.
I do a lot of commuting by car. During my drives, I like to listen to audio books and podcasts. I recently listened to an exceptional collection of podcasts, The Traneumenatary
. The Traneumentary is a collection of commentaries on John Coltrane's life and music by musicians and writers. Even if you're die-hard Coltrane fan like me, you'll find new insights into Coltrane and his music. If you are not familiar with Coltrane, it's a wonderful place to start. 'Trane is a towering figure in modern music. Forty years after his death, the music world still hasn't completely come to terms with him.
My affair with Coltrane's music began when I was in high school. During that time, I would occasionally listen to an R&B station out of the Baltimore-Washington area . On one of the early anniversaries of Coltrane's death, the DJ played a couple of Coltrane tunes. Even hearing the music on a scratchy AM station, I knew it was something special. A couple of days later, I checked out the Coltrane bin in a local record store. I found the Expression
album. Expression was recorded shortly before Coltrane's death. Knowing nothing about 'Trane or his music, I figured it should be his best. In some ways, I was right.
During those days, some friends and I would play poker at my house with my dad. It was strictly a nickel-dime game; if you won or lost $2.00, it as a big night. My Dad said, "why don't you put on that record that you bought?", so I stuck Expression on the record player. Expression has some pretty "out-there" parts. 'Trane pushes the limits of the sax, but with absolute control. The title piece and the cut, Offering, have some parts that to some ears might be considered harsh or atonal. Needless to say, the poker crowd reacted negatively ("WTF is that!"), except for me and one other guy, Mike Mayes (I wonder where he is today). I was spellbound. I had never heard or even imagined music like that.
Over the years, I have listened to the Expression album and every other Coltrane piece I could find over and over. There is a deep spiritual quality to the music coupled with the coolest damn jazz you can imagine. More importantly, the man himself comes through the music.
I think the spirit of Coltrane is expressed best in these two quotes:
I start from one point and go as far as possible. But, unfortunately, I never lose my way. I say, unfortunately, because what would interest me greatly is to discover paths that I'm perhaps not aware of of.
I would like to bring to people something like happiness. I would like to discover a method so that if I want it to rain, it will start right away to rain. If one of my friends is ill, I'd like to play a certain song and he will be cured; when he'd be broke, I'd bring out a different song and immediately he'd receive all the money he needed.
If I could live like that, maybe I would really be doing something.
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