“Living Well is the Best Revenge” by R.E.M. – Chords & How to Play

Originally posted 2010-07-14 23:30:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

“Living Well is the Best Revenge”
R.E.M.

B
It’s only when your poison spins into the life you’d hoped to live
and suddenly you wake up in a shaken panic
B            A         B
now…

You had set me up like a lamb to slaughter,
Garbo as a farmer’s daughter.
Unbelievable.  The gospel according to… who?
I lay right down.

F#
All your sad and lost apostles
A                             E
hum my name and flare their nostrils,
F#                                                     A
choking on the bones you tossed to them.
F#
Now I’m not one to sit and spin because
A                       E
living well is the best revenge, and
D               A                    E
baby, I am calling you on that.

Don’t turn your talking points on me.
History will set me free.
The future is ours and you don’t even rate a footnote.
now…

So who’s chasing you?
Where did you go, you disappear mid-sentence in a judgement crisis…
I see my in and go for it.  You weakened shill.

All your sad and lost apostles
hum my name and flare their nostrils,
choking on the bones you tossed to them.
Now I’m not one to sit and spin
because living well is the best revenge,
and baby, I am calling you on that.

You, savor your dying breath.
I forgive but I don’t forget.
You work it out.  Let’s hear that argument again.  Camera 3.  Go.  Now.

All your sad and lost apostles
hum my name and flare their nostrils,
choking on the bones you tossed to them.
Now I’m not one to sit and spin
because living well is the best revenge,
and baby, I am calling you on that.
baby, I am calling you on that.
baby, I am calling you on that.

** These chords and lyrics are interpretations and transcriptions, respectively, and are the sole property of the copyright holder(s).  They are posted on this website free of charge for no profit for the purpose of study and commentary, as allowed for under the “fair use” provision of U.S. copyright law, and should only be used for such personal and/or academic work. **

“No More” (Original Song by Indie Music Songwriter Chris Moore)

Originally posted 2008-10-22 23:32:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

And welcome once again, one and all, to the most recent installment of new, original music here at the Laptop Sessions music blog.  We like to call this “Original Wednesday,” as we take a break from our daily acoustic covers to air a song written by one of us.

Today’s selection is the second in my “New Album Preview Project.”  Each time I post an original song, I will record the next song in order of my preliminary track listing for my new album.  From now until I’ve posted them all, I’ll be continuing this project, and hopefully it won’t be long after I finish this little side project that I will finish recording the actual album.

Probably the most difficult part of this project is that I needed to come up with a track listing now, as opposed to when I usually do — after I’ve recorded the principal tracks for an album.  To be honest, this order may change by the time I actually release the album, but it’ll be interesting to see how close I came to estimating what the final product will look like.

“No More” is going to be the second track on the album — one with strong guitars up in the mix and an energetic, driving beat.  The song is fairly self-explanatory, particularly in the first verse or so.  What I like about the song (and another reason why I like having the track so early on the album) is that the second half can be interpreted in a few different ways.  This works, as I hope you will see when it is released, for the album concept as a whole.

On the heels of Jim’s big announcement today, I’m definitely getting the itch to see my numbers going more quickly in an upwards direction, so I hope to come back with good news and milestones in the weeks and months ahead, to join him in these exciting times for the music blog.

Thank you, as always, to our loyal viewers (and, if you aren’t one, I hope you will be one starting now!).  This is really only the second or third time I’ve played this song in full since I finished writing it, so it’s just a starting poing.  I hope you enjoy it and see the potential in it.  That’ll be it for me for now, but stay tuned for Jeff and then Jim and then I’ll be back on Saturday.

See you next session!

R.E.M.’s “Accelerate” (2008) – The Weekend Review

Originally posted 2010-07-11 23:30:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

RATING:  5 / 5 stars

Raw energy, often the domain of a young band, is that elusive intangible that surges and passes and that, even when it is present, cannot always be tamed.  Sadly, it can be lost in veteran bands, and replaced though it may be with the polished products that come with years of practice, it is a poignant loss.

On Accelerate, R.E.M. recaptures this element for the first time in years with some of the most engaging recordings of their career.  Considering that their discography stretches a quarter of a century across fifteen studio albums, it is significant to claim Accelerate as one of the strongest albums in the R.E.M. catalog.

And it is.

Barely passing a half an hour in length, Accelerate — true to its name — attacks numerous focal points in politics and society with distortion guitars and biting lyricism.  Somehow, the band manages to strike a balance across the eleven tracks, including slower, more introspective tracks like “Until the Day is Done” and “Hollow Man” in what is otherwise a full-on alternative rock assault.

A less seasoned band might have forgotten to take the time to breathe.

The aforementioned tracks are not the standouts, but they are the pillars of the album.  “Until the Day is Done” is a thinly veiled protest song, thumping out the thematic pulse of the album as a whole.  Michael Stipe sings of “an addled republic, a bitter refund” and warns that “the verdict is dire, the country’s in ruins.”

Written near the end of George W. Bush’s time in office, Stipe’s references are crystal clear.  How have we responded to our state of affairs?  “We’ve written our stories to entertain these notions of glory and bull market gain.”  He goes on to conjure an Orwellian society as he sings, “An easyspeak message falls into routine.”

This is a stark vision, punctuated as it is with the self-doubt of questions like “What have I done?” and “Where are we left to carry on until the day is done?”

Lest this album be represented as preachy or whiny, it stands to be noted that there is just as much self-reflection woven into these tracks.  Consider “Hollow Man,” a song which finds Stipe reflecting on “saying things I didn’t mean and don’t believe.”

The voice that Stipe takes on here is one quite familiar to many individuals in a modern age driven by so-called ideals of productivity and consumerism: “I’m overwhelmed, I’m on repeat.  I’m emptied out, I’m incomplete.  You trusted me, I want to show you I don’t want to be the hollow man.”  It might be easy to overlook the reflective aspects in Stipe’s lyrics amidst the more scathing remarks, yet the album’s greatest strength is its balance between pointing out external as well as internal inconsistencies and failings.

Taking this heart on one’s sleeve approach into consideration, these two tracks in particular, may serve to bring the remaining nine tracks even more sharply into focus.

R.E.M.'s "Accelerate" (2008)

R.E.M.'s "Accelerate" (2008)

“Living Well is the Best Revenge” is an excellent opening track; the instrumental components are reason enough to set this song on repeat, driven as it is by Peter Buck’s gritty guitar parts, Mike Mills’ frenetic bass line, and Bill Rieflin’s breakneck pacing on drums.  Stipe’s vocals set the tone for the other songs to come, spewing out lines about poison spinning into “the life you’d hoped to live” and lashing out with epithets like “you weakened shill.”  Likewise, “Living Well is the Best Revenge” serves up the first round of religious allusions, Stipe singing of lambs to slaughter, “sad and lost apostles,” and asking “the gospel according to…who?”

This is followed up by “Man-Sized Wreath,” which boasts lyrics on par with the best Stipe has ever written.  The song opens with a continued reference to the media (think: “camera three” from the previous track, in addition to numerous later lines), “Turn on the TV, what do I see?  A pageantry of empty gestures all lined up for me, wow.”  It would seem from these lines that the “man-sized wreath” is the metaphor for those news anchors and other television personalities who contribute their “empty gestures” to the “pageantry” of the boob tube.

Later, Stipe sings that our “judgement [is] clouded with fearful thoughts,” but by the end of the song, he asserts that “I am not deceived by pomp and odious conceit.”  This song could be a call to buck the system – “Throw it on the fire, throw it in the air; kick it out on the dance floor like you just don’t care” — or a tongue in cheek request to join in the “festivities” that so many seem so comfortable to be a part of — “Give me some…”

Either way, there is something quite sad about the way in which Stipe states, “I’d have thought by now we would be ready to proceed.”

It doesn’t get much darker than three tracks later on “Houston,” as they kick off the song with an opening organ barrage that sounds like a cross between industrial noise and a funeral dirge.  Stipe fires off with “If the storm doesn’t kill me, the government will,” although he quickly adds, “Gotta get that out of my head.”  For all his harsh words, there is still hope and beauty in the places that Stipe sings of — Texan cities: coincidence? — as he clarifies that the “meaning has not been erased.”

By “Mr. Richards,” the frustration lurking underneath “Houston” is directed at one man, to whom Stipe asserts, “You can thump your chest and rattle, stand in front of your piano, but we know what’s going on… we’re the children of the choir.”  This is a shift from the perspective of “Man-Sized Wreath” — whereas before it was Stipe against the world, now it seems that there is a sense of unity with his audience.  Mr. Richard’s “camp moved on” and “the public’s got opinions,” “we’ve begun to bridge the schism.”

Progress is being made.

Stipe is practically cheery by the next track, “Sing for the Submarine,” reassuring that “It’s all a lot less frightening than we would’ve had it be.”  Here, “lift[ing] up your voice” is the way to fight the machine: “we’ll pick it all up and start again.”  Still, the instruments and even Stipe’s vocal delivery belies the hope expressed in his words:  the drums plodding, the bass playing ominous, and the guitar haunting.

In “Horse to Water,” Stipe notes, “I could have kept my head down.  I might have kept my mouth shut…  You lead a horse to water and you watch him drown.”  This firmly establishes “Horse to Water” as a statement on the album as a whole, particularly with Stipe following up in the chorus by singing, “It’s not that easy.  I am not your horse to water.  I hold my breath, I come around, round, round.”

In the special edition lyric booklet, a full two page spread is devoted to the final line of the song: “this run around… IS BOUND TO POUND THE DAYLIGHTS OUT OF YOU.”  Bottom line?  The state of affairs that Stipe and company have cut a path through to expose and expound on are very real.  Earlier, on the title track, Stipe sings, “I’m not alone, a thousand others dropping faster than me,” so Accelerate is clearly an album that calls for community.

It is primarily an album that digs into the uglier aspects of our private lives and the least sunny undercurrents of our society, and yet does so with a sense of unabashed honesty and even, at times, levity.  Take the single “Supernatural Superserious,” which deals with identity via the metaphor of the “humiliation of your teenage station.”  “I’m Gonna DJ” is only the second outstanding end-of-the-world rocker that R.E.M. has cooked up, and it’s perfectly placed as the closing track.

It’s saying something when a song about the end of the world is a welcome, light respite from the topic matter of the first ten tracks.

Throughout, R.E.M. succeeds in handling the topic matter with the perfect sound and a fitting sense of the greater scheme of things.  Even the booklet is branded with the caption “This book will fall apart.”  Aside from the fact that they’re not kidding (seriously: it’s tied together loosely with some thin thread), this is a nuanced manner of adding to the overall theme of decay.

The chorus of the title track, itself situated at the heart of the album, says it best:  “Where is the rip chord, the trap door, the key?  Where is the cartoon escape hatch?  No time to question the choices I make.  I’ve got to fall in another direction.  Accelerate.”  The message seems clear enough, a call for change that is desperately needed.  Read this as you will, either as a personal statement or as an indictment of the nation.  Regardless, the determination to be realistic and forthcoming is a quality we all too often lack when faced when crises come creeping into our lives.

It is human to see “the future turned upside down” and it is oh so very Prufrockian to “hesitate.”

If I read Stipe right, hesitation simply is no longer an option.  The solution seems to be to change direction and… you guessed it: accelerate.

“Will It Grow” (Jakob Dylan Cover)

Originally posted 2010-03-15 19:24:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For Jakob Dylan chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

I hope you enjoy seeing me with hair tonight, because as of Wednesday evening, it’s gone!  That’s right — I’ve decided to shave it all off.  Well, maybe “decided” is a strong word.  One of my colleagues, one who offered a great deal of useful advice during my first year teaching, asked me if I would join an English department team for this year’s “St. Baldrick’s” event.  I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to join in with my fellow English teachers, and as you may know, it isn’t all that often that someone asks me to join a team!  So, off goes the hair in the name of raising money to fight children’s cancer.  I’m currently at the bottom of the list of fundraisers on my team (listed online as $0, although I have raised about $65 from staff and students at school that will be added tomorrow).

If you’re interested in supporting this excellent cause, just CLICK HERE!

So, you may be wondering: what does this have to do with the Laptop Sessions?  Well, the answer should be clear if you read the title of my song choice tonight.  I thought “Will It Grow” would be a fitting question to ask on the eve of my head being shaved.  Of course, Jakob Dylan isn’t referring to hair, but I was able to add a bit more emotion to my interpretation of this track all the same.

“Will It Grow” was released in 2008 on Dylan’s solo album Seeing Things.  Since Jeff recorded “Something Good This Way Comes” prior to its release, I never felt the need to record a track from the album.  To be honest, I wasn’t as impressed with this album as I could have been.  Of all people, I should be able to appreciate a set of good acoustic performances.  That being said, it’s difficult to listen to an all-acoustic album from the front man for the Wallflowers — they’re such an incredible rock band!

Now, almost two years removed, I came back to Seeing Things by chance and thought it was a shame that I had never covered one of the tracks.  Not surprisingly, I found a set of chords online riddled with errors and transcribed for a capo.  I love capos as much as the next guy — and probably more! — but if it’s not necessary, I can’t see a good reason to use the capo.  Thus, I posted the chords here at the Laptop Sessions for those interested in a more straightforward, accurate description of how to play the song.  I can certainly understand how the errors may have been made, as I found it a bit difficult to pick up all the chord changes over the intricate fingerpicking.  Eventually though, I think I came to a fairly solid version of what Dylan originally intended.  I hope so — Jakob Dylan is one of my all-time favorite songwriters, so I took it very seriously.

In other Laptop Sessions news, I recently went through all the music reviews I posted previous to “The Weekend Review” series and added a rating out of five stars.  Why did I take the time to do this?  Well, initially I felt that ratings were arbitrary and that I really wasn’t qualified to make those sorts of judgments on music.  After all, I wouldn’t want someone assigning a low rating to the music I poured my heart into.  Still, the more I’ve been thinking about it, the more I realize how important the rating is to the review as a whole.  After all, half the fun of reading reviews is agreeing or disagreeing with the author’s rating.  Thus, how can I deny my readers (however few of them there are ;- ) the opportunity to think I’m right on, far off, or somewhere in between?  It was fun going back to these albums; most reviews I wrote before the Weekend Review were based on albums I loved, so that didn’t hurt.  And it reminded me of how much I enjoy holding to a weekly writing schedule.  It may be difficult at the time to carve out an hour or so on a Sunday to write, but it gives me a good reason to skim through my CD rack on Friday or Saturday to choose an album to listen to throughout the weekend.

Other than shaving my head, this week should be pretty normal.  I still have to get used to TNA Impact! being on Mondays.  It’s a great way to kick off the week, a relaxing night with friends and comfort food and wonderfully mindless television entertainment, but I do miss being able to look forward to Thursday nights.

Finally, I thought the new Locksley album was supposed to be out tomorrow, but it wasn’t listed on the Newbury Comics newsletter today.  Luckily, the White Stripes are releasing their first live CD this week — more and more, I’ve been growing fond of Jack White’s work, particularly with his side projects.  So, I’ll give it a shot and let you know…

See you next session!