And here it is- the end of the line. I can’t believe we’re already through all 14 days of my Rock’n’Roll Christmas celebration! Remind me to never do this again.
Today’s song is my original Christmas tune, “Christmas Morning”, that I wrote back in high school! I personally think every artist has ONE good Christmas song in them. And, to be honest, I’m not exactly sure that I’d ever be able to come up with another one as catchy as this one, so I don’t think I’m going to try!
I recorded this song for the first time back in 2004 for our Christmas album, “Our Christmas Gift To You”. At the time, I was just getting used to playing the guitar and recording with my digital 24-track. I had basic microphones, too. Now, I have a Cab Clone to record my guitars, various tube amps, high quality mics, compressors, preamps, and…the same 24 track mixer. But, if you’ve heard both versions, you can really tell a big difference. I’ll probably end-up recording this again in the future after my equipment gets even better!
My wife Becky helps me sing on this tune, too. I was going to have my brother Mike help out, but he was sick when he came home for Thanksgiving, so he couldn’t sing on it. Next time, though!
I hope you’ve had as much fun reading and listening to these Christmas songs as I have making them. It’s a pretty big accomplishment for me to do all of this while being so busy otherwise. I hope I can maybe just do one song a year from now on, just to keep me into the recording process. Enjoy “Christmas Morning” and have a Merry Christmas!
Hi folks! Welcome to another Jim Fusco Tuesday! This was one of those weeks where, after such a great long weekend, I truly dreaded the four-day week ahead. I have two immediate video programs to edit, a whole bunch of PSA’s, an audio mastering project, and multiple projects looming around the corner… And that’s all stuff I have to do AFTER a crazy day at work! I feel myself getting a better handle on things at work, but it’s still a struggle on a daily basis, as I’m constantly trying to dig out of a growing hole. It’ll get better, but it’s just these weeks when everything piles up that I get a bit nervous. Becky’s been helping (bringing me coffee and snacks, plus trying to keep me to a schedule), so it’s definitely hurt less than it should’ve.
Anyway, onto tonight’s video:
I’ve been churning out the new artists to the blog lately (and ones you might even have heard of, by the way), but tonight I might break that mold a bit. I had never heard of Brett Dennen before, but my boss kept telling me about him after he heard Dennen’s music on Last.fm, a music service on Xbox 360. Anyway, he burned me a copy of Brett’s songs (don’t worry, Brett- I bought the LP version of “Hope for the Hopeless” afterward and so did my brother!). But, even though he kept asking me about it, I didn’t put the CD in because I was still hooked on the Grateful Dead! So, about four weeks ago now, I popped Brett’s “Hope for the Hopeless” album in and completely fell in love with the music.
The man is simply a good songwriter. His songs are not overly complicated (which I LOVE)- he uses some pretty simple chords in some songs (and some cool inversions in others, too) and the songs are short and sweet. The songs pretty much follow the verse-bridge-chorus model and there’s one or two guitar solos spattered throughout the album. It’s a short one with only 11 songs, but I don’t care- the quality definitely makes up for the quantity.
Dennen’s two previous releases before “Hope for the Hopeless” had the feel of Jack Johnson’s first album- sparsely produced to its detriment. Yes, there are good songs, but I need a little more than an acoustic guitar to make me love an album. “Hope for the Hopeless” is different. It’s almost like he got signed to a label that gave him some more money to produce an album. The result is amazing- I just love the production on this disc. You won’t find a lot of harmonies here and the instruments are no-frills. Mostly, you have an acoustic, an electric, bass, piano/organ, and drums. That’s a perfect mix for me. What’s great about this album, and I plan on trying with my next album, is that there really is no rhythm guitar. The guitar only plays what it needs to. So, the music sounds open, but not lacking. You’ll just have to listen to get what I’m saying.
I could’ve picked any of the 11 songs from “Hope for the Hopeless” to cover. My favorites are “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Make You Crazy”, but I chose “Heaven” because it’s just one of those “perfect” songs. It has such a message- kind of like “Imagine” by John Lennon. This song, according to Dennen fans, will stand as his masterpiece. On the recording, I challenge you not to get chills once the band comes in at the start of the second chorus. It’s AWESOME!
So, I decided to record my version of this song just acoustically, though I’ve been playing it on the piano recently, as well. “Heaven” is a great song to sing by yourself, as it only has one vocal in the album version anyway (the single version suffers from a female lead vocal in the second verse- I much prefer the album version and I’m glad he did it that way).
One thing about Dennen- when you hear his songs, you’ll notice his…let’s say “accent”. I’m not really sure what it is. It sounds Louisianan to me. At first, I really didn’t like it. But, if you get past the way he says certain words (like instead of “trouble”, he says, “trugh-bowl”), you’ll really like these songs. And now, I even like the way he says those words, because I can tell he’s not doing it on purpose (just to sound different)- it’s just the way he talks/sings.
On a side note, check out one of my new favorite tunes, “Make You Crazy”, on YouTube- the music video is pretty cool.
Now, I had a feeling I’d heard of Brett Dennen before. I mean, that voice is so unmistakable. Becky and I both agree that we’ve heard his most “famous” song, “Ain’t No Reason” (not one of my favorites and if you heard it and know my musical tastes, you’ll understand why). We must’ve heard it in a TV show. Then, my brother Mike ended up knowing (and loving) “Make You Crazy”, too, from his days working at Hollister, where they played the song on a daily basis.
Okay, enough talk- time to watch the LSHD version of “Heaven” performed by me, Jim Fusco! I’d love to hear your thoughts about the song, my performance, and Brett Dennen. I hope you have a great week and make sure to stop back next Tuesday for another acoustic cover song. I plan on it being a classic early 60’s tune that Becky and I heard in the car while on our way to Albany, NY for our weekend trip. We had a blast- check my Twitter (jimfusco) for all the updates and photos from the road! Until next week!
Hey folks! Today, I bring you a favorite song of the Fusco family in “Little Willow” by Paul McCartney. “Flaming Pie” is one of my favorite all-time albums and that’s because we listened to it CONSTANTLY when it came out, during vacation, and all throughout the summer. It always brings back fond memories and I always play the album when I take my own vacations now.
It’s fitting that I’m presenting this song today, as we’re in the midst of Tropical Storm Hanna up here in Connecticut. Hopefully it won’t be too bad because I have a video job (taping an anniversary party) up at the Mohegan Sun casino tonight. Should be fun, but who wants to drive an hour in a tropical storm?
So, why is it so fitting? Well, I read in the liner notes of “Flaming Pie” (which is the booklet I modeled the booklet to my first album, “With Or Without You”, after exactly) that this song, “Little Willow”, was written to calm people after a hurricane. It’s such a great song- so simple, but it has a great calming effect. I thought it was a perfect one to do while outside with my nylon string guitar.
There’s also “Heaven on a Sunday” off of this album that makes me feel so calm. I guess that’s the point of the song, but it always reminded me of a particular summer when I went to Boy Scout camp in Camp Sequassen. That must’ve been a busy summer. No wonder I remember this album so well! Anyway, I used to get to fish off of a row boat there. Having “Heaven on a Sunday” (“cooling my fingers in the bay…”) stuck in my head while peacefully fishing was a zen-like experience. I think of that moment and it takes me right back there.
On another topic, how about Jeff with his Beatles cover yesterday? And Chris doing Hendrix? Amazing, folks- you never know what you’re going to get next on this music video blog- the BEST music video blog in the universe! Starting in a couple weeks, we’ll be bringing you yet another “New Bands Week” here on the Sessions because we love to challenge ourselves and entertain you.
I’ll be making a couple of BIG announcements in the next few minutes here on the music blog, so stay tuned and for now, enjoy today’s music video!
Cory Brown is a songwriter with quite the pedigree. Growing up in California (my personal favorite breeding ground for musicians), he had his father Barry (of the 70s band Morning) to look up to while he learned to play guitar and write songs. Clearly, he picked something up from the genre of music that his father helped pioneer: the melodic tunes and soft-rock style is in great form on Cory’s 2012 debut album, “Days In A Life”. But, Cory’s music still sounds fresh and relevant today. His songwriting ability and style will fit well on any contemporary rock station.
This may be the debut album for Cory Brown as a solo artist, but he’s garnered some success already in his young career with a band called 7th Direction. Clearly, Cory’s first solo album allowed him to express himself more- the songs on “Days In A Life” are introspective and poignant. They’re the kind of songs that would only sound right on a solo record. It’s kind of like Brian Wilson when he made “Pet Sounds”- even members of the Beach Boys have said that “Pet Sounds” was essentially a Brian Wilson solo record. And they were correct- with the raw emotion and personal tales of longing, as in “Days In A Life”, it’s work that comes from the heart of only one person.
My favorite track on the album is “Her Eyes”. The guitar hook and the well-crafted unique harmonies on the chorus really make this a stand-out track. The track features just the right amount of that Crosby, Stills, and Nash semi-country-rock feel with the great guitar soloing throughout. The track just begs for multiple listens. I have a feeling I’ll be listening to “Her Eyes” for quite a while.
One theme I noticed throughout the whole album is the theme of traveling. In many tracks, from “Wingman”, “Grass on the Highway”, and “Lacy Ann”, Cory weaves in visions of traveling. He talks about driving across the country and even living life on “overdrive”. He asks various people not to leave him and travel away, but also talks about the youthful need to run away. As a songwriter myself who has gone through those same emotions early in life, I can definitely relate. And, with Cory’s God-given talents, his songs and subject matter will only get more complex and interesting as time goes on.