Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Owner of a Lonely Heart

Been listening to a lot of Yes since Chris Squire's passing which is how I got to this and, well, it's pretty revelatory. I'd read that Trevor Horn had heard this Trevor Rabin demo and convinced a skeptical Rabin to work on it, but I'd never actually heard the demo and holy god does Trevor Horn have golden ears. How the hell do you hear a #1 hit in this sporadically really interesting but generally really generic 80s AOR skeleton?

Going from that to this

is...unlikely. And yet.

Alan White's drum part is magnificently understated, while this may be the most underplayed bass part Squire ever played. Also, damn, Rabin's one hell of a rock guitarist.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Liberty Bell

30 years. 30 years I've known this like the back of my hand. And I had no idea it was John Philip Sousa.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015

Thursday, June 25, 2015


It can't be easy to borrow a line from a song as great and catchy and well-known as Jackie DeShannon's great "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" and not the rest of the song. Props to the Apples in Stereo for somehow finding someplace else to take this song.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Eleanor Rigby

I saw a puff piece a few years ago that was nevertheless right on the money in one regard. It started with something like "there are famous musicians like U2 and Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie. There are really famous musicians like Madonna and the Rolling Stones. And then there's Paul McCartney." 

That was fame. Then there's accomplishments. And even if he kinda mugs a bit in this performance, still, at the end of the day, who else could have written this song, and sang it quite this way? (Even if John Lennon really did write most of the lyrics.)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sister Golden Hair

So apparently Gerry Beckley wrote this song with Jackson Browne in mind. Which is interesting and might go some way towards explaining why it's America's least-bad hit, lyrically. (Talk about damning with faint praise.)

But also amazing when you compare it to Browne's then-current work: he would have released Late for the Sky the year before, home to the staggeringly brilliant "Fountain of Sorrow," and was working on The Pretender. Which, I mean. It's not my favorite of Browne's 70s work—in fact, it's probably my least favorite. But it's "The Fuse" and "Here Comes Those Tears Again" and, oh yes, the phenomenal title track.

And from that we get...this. Which, as this dandy cover makes plain, is—don't get me wrong—delightful, with its crazily catchy melody, neat chord changes, and lyrics that are, by America's (very, very low) standards, pretty okay.

But Jackson Browne they ain't. Still, not everything needs to be. I suppose.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Souls of the Departed

This is from one of the Vote for Change shows in 2004. But I'd love to know just how this came about. "Hey, Neil, wanna come out and play?" "Sure! Can we do a deep cut off one of your two least known and liked LPs?"

However it happened, I'm just glad it did. (And keep an ear out for the couple times Neil seems to quote "Cinnamon Girl" at the end of phrases.)

Thursday, June 4, 2015


Look at this guy.

Nearly 75 years old. And still the coolest man in rock-n-roll. Bar none.

"I love it. It's always a thrill for me when I play with Paul. It's like good friends, people who know each other and have been through a lot together. And you know, the bass and the drummer usually are friends."

Those were some of his remarks following his much-deserved solo induction into the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame (televised last weekend).

And in typical Ringo fashion, his comments are equal parts incredibly poignant and so crazily understated. His acknowledgement of he and Paul having been through it all together is just so lovely in its simplicity, the only two remaining people on this earth who could have possibly known what it was like to be in The Beatles, the only band of its kind and import that's ever existed. And then he has to throw in the whole "the bass and the drummer usually are friends." Because, you know, ho hum. That's all we are. Just the bassist and the drummer in a little band. Hangin' out. Only Ringo could make a lifelong friendship with a fellow freaking Beatle sound as simple as two close friends in an after-work garage band.

And in terms of his, "It's always a thrill for me when I play with Paul?" I cannot speak on behalf of Sir Macca, of course, but my guess is his comment would be something like, "Right back atcha, mate."

After all, that's kinda what this picture right here is saying, all by itself.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


I love this so much my chest hurts.

It's not just that he looks like the cavemen from that old insurance commercial. It's not just that it's obvious he's not lip-synching. It's not the weird smile around 0:26. It's not even the overalls, maybe the oddest clothing trend for rock stars during an entire decade that was almost nothing but odd clothing trends for rock stars. (I mean, okay, I get the crazy excess of most of the clothing trends—I may not find them attractive, but I understand where they're coming from. But overalls? Really?)

Is is the use of the word "autobahn"? The word "whiskey"? The term "moonlight bar"?

It is not. Those things are all wonderful. But, no, it's the way he keeps glancing at the camera, as though to make sure it's still there. (Understandably.) It's the little laugh during the breakdown. And it's how happy he looks when the performance is over—and unlike the original artists, you don't get the feeling it's just because he's counting up how many hundreds of thousands they each just made.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Hotel California

Dammit, Eagles. I just can't quit you. No matter how awful you are in so many ways, oh those sweet seductive melodies will keep dragging me back in. Also, except for Don Henley's voice, Don Felder's guitar is the best part of y'all. Well, maybe your melodies. But Felder's guitar is just a tiny bit better than Joe Walsh's guitar and miles better than Henley's and Frey's lyrics and don't even get me started on Henley's pedestrian drumming.