“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (Traditional/Brian Wilson acoustic rock cover)

For Brian Wilson chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

If you have found yourself suffering from a “pernicious case of the Mondays” and need something to turn your week around, then look no further than the best cover song music video blog on the Internet today!

This week, as with all weeks, there’s a lot to look forward to.

Tonight, there’s Chris Moore Monday.  Tomorrow, there’s Jim Fusco Tuesday.  On Saturday, there’s chords to one of the most classic Christmas songs of all time.  And, finally, there’s The Weekend Review on Sunday, a very special edition during which I’ll reveal my pick for the #3 best rock album of the decade, 2000-2009.  Thus far, it’s been The Barenaked Ladies’ Maroon at #5 and, as of yesterday, Elliott Smith’s Figure 8 at #4.

But that’s enough about the future.  For now, let’s live in the moment.

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is a traditional song, which basically means that no one knows who wrote the song.  I learned tonight that the song is more accurately referred to as “God rest you merry, gentlemen,” even though it is often incorrectly punctuated as “God rest you, merry gentlemen.”  Of course, as an English teacher, I found this fascinating.  Don’t you?

And, as if that wasn’t enough, Charles Dickens referred to this song in his classic holiday novel, A Christmas Carol.  This is a novel that I loved when I first read it in my Charles Dickens class at CCSU, and I loved it even more when I returned to it a couple years ago.  If I wasn’t so busy this month, I would re-read it for a third time.

Instead, I’m grading, getting car work done, attending real estate meetings, and, of course, decorating for Christmas.  We had a lot of fun pulling out old decorations and buying some new ones to complete the Christmas spirit in the apartment.  Even now, I sit bathed in the multi-colored glow of Christmas lights, and really, there’s no better atmosphere for typing a yuletide post.

I’m very proud of tonight’s session for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I couldn’t find any reliable chords on the web to work from, so I essentially started from scratch.  I used a set of lyrics and chords for the traditional arrangement as a foundation from which to transcribe, but Brian Wilson, true to form, added some twists as well as an instrumental middle section that I figured out on my own.  Being that I’m more of a lyrics guy, I always feel excited when I crack a musical code, no matter how simple or complex it might be.

How long it took me, I won’t mention…  🙂

The other main reason I’m happy with this session is that, for whatever reason, this became one of those songs that I just couldn’t relax for.  For instance, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember which line to sing after the instrumental break.  I kept opting for the blending of the first and third bridges, singing, “To save all those who…”  So, I played more takes than I’m willing to admit here, but in the end, I walked away with a complete session that I’m happy with.  I especially enjoyed being able to play my Bb harmonica, a first for the Laptop Sessions!

“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is one of those songs that I’ve known forever.  As I mentioned, it’s a traditional Christmas song that anyone who has gone to church has heard.  I never particularly cared for the song — even the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan version was one I appreciated but never really loved.

Then, I listened to Brian Wilson’s 2004 Christmas album, What I Really Want for Christmas.  I was immediately drawn to Wilson’s arrangement of this song, and it has become an instant favorite for me these past several years.  The album as a whole has become a favorite of mine, right up there with the Beach Boys’ Christmas album and the Moody Blues’ December.  (And, after five years, another top holiday album has been added in Bob Dylan’s Christmas in the Heart.)

If you’ve heard Brian Wilson’s Christmas album — or even if you haven’t — I strongly recommend you go to YouTube and search “Brian Wilson What I Really Want for Christmas Video Part I.”  I just watched this documentary today, which includes some great behind-the-scenes making-of footage, interviews, and clips from the album.  If you love the album, it will remind you why.  If you haven’t heard the album, it will make you want to.

And, on that note, I hope that my video makes you interested enough to want to hear the Brian Wilson version.

See you next session!

“California Callling” (The Beach Boys cover)

By Jim Fusco:

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of the Laptop Sessions with Jim Fusco!  Today I go back to my ol’ stomping grounds to give you another Beach Boys cover song.

“California Calling” is from their self-titled album from 1985.  It’s the only track on the whole album that features real drums…and as an added bonus, they’re played by Ringo Starr!  Of course, Dennis Wilson, the band’s drummer since they began, passed away in 1983.  I think Ringo is just about the only drummer fitting enough to be the first person to play drums on a Beach Boys song after Dennis’ passing.  And the drumming on “California Calling” is very similar to what Dennis would’ve played.  I like to think they did that as a tribute to Dennis.  Supposedly, the sequenced drum track on the hit “Getcha Back” was done in the style of Dennis Wilson as a tribute.  I hope that’s true because it would be a great tribute.

To be honest, this really wasn’t one of my favorite songs on the album for many years.  I think I was just irked by the fact that it’s another Love/Jardine “Don’t F with the formula” song that didn’t fit in with the rest of the album.  But I’ve changed my mind on that recently.  I mean, when you’re looking for a Beach Boys song, you’re looking for a song just like “California Calling”!  Plus, it’s a good tune and I’m a sucker for that classic Beach Boys sound.

Onto some personal business: “The Easy Ways”, my new album, is coming out very, very soon- on September 20th, in fact!  It’s an album full of 16 original songs that are assembled into a true “album” instead of just a collection of songs.  You’ll just have to check back soon and grab a copy of the album on CD or digitally to hear what I mean!  I’ve been practicing non-stop for my album release party, so I hope everyone in the Connecticut area will come check it out!  It’s at 5:30 on Saturday, September 20th at Silver City Restaurant in Meriden, CT.

I’ll be back next week with another original song in anticipation of my new album’s release.  I hope everyone enjoys tonight’s Laptop Sessions cover song music video of The Beach Boys’ “California Calling”!



“You’re So Good To Me” (Beach Boys Cover)

By Jim Fusco:

Hello all, and welcome to your weekend edition of The Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog with me, Jim Fusco. After two strong outings from Jeff and Chris, I decided to pull my ace-in-the-hole and do a Beach Boys song.  I always have good luck doing a Beach Boys cover song, as growing up, I would constantly sing these while in the car.  After a while, I think my voice just grew into the Beach Boys tone, so I’m able to bring you fairly accurate cover song videos here on the music blog!

This is an earlier Beach Boys song that doesn’t have way too much emphasis on the background vocals, so it was a nice transition into Laptop Sessions form.  Normally, I like to take more produced songs and turn them into cover song videos, but tonight, I’m taking a lesser-known song and bringing it to the public’s attention again.

I love the way Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys sings this song. It’s like he’s semi-screaming it at some points, but he’s singing about how someone is “so good” to him! I think this might have been an attempt to sound a bit more “macho” on Brian’s part, and if I were in his shoes, I would completely understand.  Of course, I think the “macho” aspect goes away on the falsetto, “And I love it, LOVE it!” line.  That’s okay, though, as it’s my favorite part of the song.  I’ve noticed lately that one of Brian Wilson’s strengths as a songwriter (and there are many) is his ability to write a great bridge.  Those catchy transition periods between the verses and choruses are usually my favorite parts of a song.  I’ve been putting a lot of focus on them in my original songs, as well.  For instance, in “Good Enough” off of my album, “Those Around Us”, I love the way the bridge came out.  It features really cool harmonies and a catchy tune.  Plus, I like the line, “And now my heart is hardened like a heart of gold.”

I hope everyone likes this one, even though it doesn’t have my favorite Mike Love low part in there. Gotta get Chris to stop correcting high school English papers one of these nights and do some more collaborations!  Actually, this cover song video doesn’t feature any of the background vocals.  The “la-la-la” part in the chorus can be considered annoying by some people.  In fact, it took away from my love of the song until just recently.  I guess it grew on me.  But, here I give you a version with no background vocals for the acoustic cover songs music video blog so you can hear just what a great little song “You’re So Good To Me” is!

See you Tuesday with another Session, but stay tuned for Chris and Jeff’s entries over the next two days! Haven’t missed a day in ’08!

Ranking every Beach Boys song/album: The Beach Boys Christmas Album (by Songwriter Jim Fusco)

By Jim Fusco:

BEACH BOYS CHRISTMAS ALBUM:

We Three Kings of Orient Are – 9.5
*Little Saint Nick (single) – 10
Little Saint Nick (album) – 9.5
*Our Father – 5
*Auld Lang Syne (alternate) – 5
Santa’s Beard – 7 (LOVE the chord progression and the combination of Mike’s low part and Brian’s high part on “He wants to meet old Santa Claus”)
Christmas Day – 6
I’ll Be Home for Christmas – 7 (I consider this the standard for this song)
The Man with All the Toys – 7.5 (The same reason why I like this song is the reason why it gets docked some points. It has this “dark” sound to it that kinda doesn’t sound very Christmas-song like. However, I like the darker sound because I love those dark Christmastime nights)
Blue Christmas – 6.5
White Christmas – 6
*Little Saint Nick (alternate) – 6.5
Merry Christmas, Baby – 7
Santa Claus is Coming to Town – 5
Frosty the Snowman – 5
Auld Lang Syne – 4 (They couldn’t have done ONE more take to let Dennis have another chance?)

** This is one of my favorite albums. That doesn’t mean it’s the best by any means, but this always makes me SO happy. I have 200 Christmas songs and know how to play most of them. I love Christmas and everything that goes with it. This album contains songs that make me SO happy every time I listen to them, that it automatically brings back memories. I love Elvis’ first Christmas album because of that, too. Something about that innocence and that late ’50s, early ’60s Christmas time vibe… I’ll never live in that kind of world. I’ll never get to experience that, seeing as I grew up in the ’90s (and still growing, in fact, at 23). I hope to give my future children Christmases like that, and that’s why every note on this album is like gold to me. I listen to it about 50 times a year- more than any other album. I know the songs aren’t perfect and the recording sounds a bit rushed, at best. But, they’re voices are at top-notch form here. Classic. **