Thursday, April 25, 2019

Cat's in the Cradle

According to the redoubtable Cover Me, Harry Chapin was distressed with the original recording of "Cats in the Cradle," feeling it was far too fast. It's a funny story in hindsight, given how popular it became, and how lasting an impact the song has had.

But then you listen to his daughter's version and it seems ol' Harry might have been onto something.

The younger Chapin had serious musical training, and it shows, as she toys with the melody here and there but never strays far from the oh so well known basis. And the recording is emotionally devastating: the original had more than enough pathos, but it's impossible not to listen and think about the fact that she's singing this song about a distant father which was written by her own father who died when she was just 10.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Out of Time

In which the Rolling Stones simultaneously write the great (or at least a great) lost girl group song from the 60s and one of the greatest Darkness on the Edge of Town outtakes Bruce Springsteen never wrote or recorded.

Am I wrong? Of course I'm not. That would have fit beautifully on The Promise. The chorus obviously—the repeated word (in this case "baby") are practically as much a Springsteen hallmark as cars and girls—and, of course, it's a basic I-V-IV construction, with an added vi in the chorus, the exact kind of structure Springsteen consciously stripped down to on Darkness and to which he's largely stuck ever since.

And of course it's catchy as all hell and unusually poppy, both for the 1966 Stones and 1978 Springsteen, so of course he would have left in the vault. After all, if he'd written something like this at the time and actually released it, he might have had a hit single, and that just wouldn't do.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well this is just magical.

And now I am amazed I never ever heard this before today. This version, that is.

It's very, very difficult to imagine two voices going more perfectly together. When Cass comes in for the first harmony, that may be what it sounds like to hear music for the first time. No, I do not overstate.


(And how cool to see they were doing their own version of Rock the Vote back there in those Nixon days of 1972?)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Outta My Head / Separate Ways

How, in this post-post-postmodern world do you make a good video for your fine song? With a shot for shot remake of the worst video ever, of course.

I have very mixed feelings about this remix culture society we find ourselves in, where memes are so prevalent and truly great works of art are often first introduced to and best known by younger viewers/readers/listeners by the snide (and often very funny) jokes made out of them and at their expense. On the one hand, I love the way the internet has granted so many artists the tools and audiences to enable them to create in a way they likely never would have a few decades earlier. On the other hand, I don't think it comes without a cost.

But this? This is just gold. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Don't Do Me Like That

Oh J Mascis. Is there any song you cannot make your own, no matter how strongly identified the original is with its creator?

It is a well-known truism that cover albums tend to be a sign of artistic stagnation. There are exceptions, of course, but not many.

I don't care: I'd be delighted with a new cover album every month, just J running down whatever song catches his fancy, his laconic drawl accompanied by his lacerating guitar. Do me like that, J. Do me just like that.