Tuesday, December 29, 2015

(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman

There is so much to love about this clip. In fact, there is absolutely nothing not to love.

Carole King's out of her skull joy.

The president crying before the song's even 30 seconds in.

The Queen of Soul's piano playing, of which there is never ever ever enough. (Dear Unplugged people: why in the hell didn't you get her? Justifiably afraid no other would ever come close to measuring up?)

How she owns the lower register for the first 2/3rds the song, leading one to understandably recognize that she's 73 and no longer has the force of nature vocal chords she did as a young woman but can still more than bring all the emotion any singer could ever dream of?

Or when she stands up and shows that, yeah, no, she may have lost a few miles per hour off her fastball but she can still bring the heat with all the authority there is.

Or maybe it's at the end, when George Lucas, standing next to Carole King, is clearly thinking, "well...shit. My tribute wasn't nearly that awesome." Don't feel bad, George. Nobody's was. Nobody's could be.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


I've always had something of an aversion to jazz covers of rock, since so often it (to my ears) bowdlerizes the source into EZ-listening mush, but Brad Mehldau clearly has not a lounge player's approach but one much closer to that of John Coltrane, and the results are always engaging and often extraordinary. And I'm always pleased when my tastes line up with an artist's I like, since I think this is maybe the single most gorgeous song, melodically, that Paul McCartney ever wrote. Which, you know, isn't sayin' nothin', all things considered.

In fact, if I have any quibbles with this version, it's that I'd have liked it to go on about another half hour.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Today is 35 years since John Lennon was killed.

Wow is that a long time. Which in no way at all seems that long.

Here's something I noticed recently. For the first time, oddly.

When he was 25 he wrote a song called "Girl," a great song, no doubt, but one filled with anger bordering on petulance about the "girl" in his life he just couldn't seem to get over and just couldn't seem to understand. He sounded like a boy singing this song, because he pretty much was a boy.

Fast forward 15 years to when he was 40, tragically the last year of his life. The last great song he would ever write came out that year, also squarely centered on the female in his life.

Only this one was called ""Woman." Gone was the bitterness and frustration, replaced here by contrition and an outright, plainly spoken vow of love and devotion. He sounded like a man singing it. Because he now was a man.

John Lennon the brash brat became John Lennon the grownup. "Girl" became "Woman." And rock-n-roll became all the greater by him making these contributions. Again and again.

Just one more gift from John Winston Ono Lennon, 1940-1980. Taken too soon and gone too long.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Going to California

I think the mighty Zep, despite—or perhaps because of—their sometimes cartoonishly macho image, benefits more from being covered by the opposite gender than maybe any other artist. As is standard for most Led Zeppelin, it's less about the lyrical content than the musical, and the way the change in timbre gives a surprisingly potent additional boost to an otherwise straightforward cover.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Favorite Song Friday: I Love

This may be cheating ever so slightly as I'd never heard this song before five minutes ago but the fact remains it's the song I love more dearly than any other song I've ever heard before. And somehow the video is even better.