Hello and welcome to not only a brand-new Laptop Session, but the introduction of a new artist to our list of covers! Today, I’m playing “Waltz #2 (XO)” from Elliott Smith’s XO album. I actually just realized a couple weeks ago that he did indeed have an album between my two favorites from him — Either/Or and Figure 8 — and I had to get it. I’ve been listening to it ever since, and it feels kind of like a new album to me, considering that I thought I had heard all of his studio material.
Like I said, I’ve been listening to the album for over a week, and even though I still have several Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash “Laptop Sessions” videos, I just had to sit down and record this one (thus, the late-night, down-to-the-wire posting).
I hope you enjoy it; I certainly enjoyed learning it and playing it! Don’t forget to check out an all-new session from Jeff tomorrow, right here at http://LaptopSessions.com !
I was so disappointed to find that Monday’s video wasn’t a Beatles song- myself and my fellow Acai Berries had an all-new Beatles video ready to go to keep the streak alive, but now I guess I’ll save it until next week. It’s a cool one, too, so be sure to check back!
Onto tonight’s video:
“You Can Do Magic” is one of those songs that I didn’t need to convince Becky to like. This was a Top 5 Billboard hit for America in the mid eighties and was their last big hit to date. Of course, they didn’t write this song and, if my memory serves me from reading the America Box Set liner notes like seven years ago, they didn’t play any of the instruments on it, either. The writer of the song basically wrote it for the members of America (namely Gerry Beckley, whose “unique” voice actually works pretty great on this song) to sing and had the whole thing ready. All Beckley and Bunnell had to do was overdub some vocals. The guitar solo part in the beginning does sound like Beckley’s style, so maybe it’s him on that part…
That first guitar part was something I tinkered with before going to our recording session last week. But then Steve came in and said, “Hey Jim, how about this over the beginning chords,” and busted out a great part on the 12-string Gibson that blew me away. So, out went my dinky solo on regular acoustic and in came Steve’s jangly solo on the 12-string. You can even hear Chris C. playing in the background (he’s actually on camera during next week’s video) if you turn it up, as he was picking the bass parts (an octave higher) on his mandolin.
Let me take this opportunity to say that I’ll finally admit that a Martin guitar is probably worth the extra money. Every time I pick up Steve’s guitar, I’m just in awe of how clean and clear it sounds. The low strings are especially crisp and it stays in near-perfect tune, too. They make a new all-wood version for around $999 (the company cited the recession as a reason to make an “affordable” guitar), but it’s probably going to be quite some time before I can justify purchasing that. Could be a nice Christmas present from Becky…for the next ten years…
And how about Steve’s vocals? He did a great job backing me up on this song- again, it’s like singing with my father or my brother. They already know the parts and just sometimes ask for me to clarify something. It’s not like I have to teach them the part- it just sorta comes naturally. What a breath of fresh air. It’s one of the big reasons (besides his ability to pick up chord changes by ear) why we can bust-out two videos during a recording session. And Chris C. can sight-read. One take and he’s ready to go. My vocals, even though I don’t like to point these things out, were a bit weak, as this take was done after two solid hours of playing and singing. Earlier takes (done in the first half-hour) were much stronger on my part- my voice was just tired at this point.
And, we get a rare glimpse of Steve on camera this week!! Don’t get used to it- you don’t see him at all in next week’s video!
I hope you enjoy this classic America tune. Of course, I’ll be back next week with another Traveling Acai Berries video, so come on back. But, while you’re at it, remember that we post every Monday and Thursday, as well! I, for one, love to keep up with the posts and I’ve read every single one. It’s great to check your email (remember to subscribe to the blog- click the links on the sidebar to the left) and get a fresh new post/video three times a week! Plus, check out our past videos, as they’re just as good as the new ones (I sound like one of those annoying AT&T Rollover Minutes commercials) and even if you started today, you’d have well over a year of quality entertainment at your fingertips.
On the personal front, this has been a good week of getting stuff done- painting over the weekend and securing a renter for our place (!!!!) was followed by delivering the lighting to our new house, which we got a mini tour of today. It looks amazing (we have trim around the windows, which is a novelty that we didn’t have in the condo) and it’s really coming together. I can’t believe it’s about three weeks away…
Until next week, enjoy tonight’s video and enjoy Jeff’s video on Thursday! It’s sure to please- talk to you then!
Welcome to another edition of the Laptop Sessions with me, Jim Fusco!
I’m back again tonight after a short sabbatical. I’m glad to present a great song, “San Francisco” off of Brett Dennen’s 2009 album “Hope for the Hopeless”.
I’ve been in love with this album ever since my friend (and boss) Bill gave me the album to listen to. I’ve since purchased it on vinyl- you’ll see my copy behind me in the video.
I’ve also been purchasing a lot of new albums on vinyl, including Jack Johnson’s “To the Sea” and “Stone Temple Pilots”, both of which I haven’t listened to yet. I’m getting myself ready for the STP album by listening to their previous effort, “Shangri-La-Dee-Dah”. Jeff always used to talk about that album, so I asked for it for my birthday and I’m loving the album. I’m so excited about the new disc! Actually, I did listen to it once while transferring my vinyl copy over to the computer using my brother’s ION USB turntable. Mine’s on the fritz…of course…
I’ve been taking it a bit easier lately, which is good because it’s been BUSY. I’ve gotten a lot more done around the house and have been watching my Mets, who’ve been on a big roll lately.
I hope to keep up with this light Laptop Sessions schedule- I’ll definitely make it a point to.
Anyway, I’ve wanted to record “San Francisco” for a very long time now and was happy to get the opportunity now. What’s cool is that Brett Dennen himself used his Martin D-28 acoustic guitar to record this album. Hearing his great sound and great songs was a factor in my choosing a Martin, too. Even though mine cost about half the price of his, mine’s still all solid wood and (in my opinion) sounds just as good! Remember all the research I did? Well, I truly believe I got the best I could for the money.
Over the next few weeks, I plan on covering songs from Ringo Starr, Scissor Sisters, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Jack Johnson, and Stone Temple Pilots- ALL of whom have albums out this summer! So, the cover song list keeps on growing. So, have a great Tuesday and be sure to come back again for another Laptop Session with Jim Fusco soon!
I’m pretty excited today, as I give you a new band to the Laptop Sessions: America!
I got into this band because of today’s cover song, Sister Golden Hair. I used to hear it on the radio many times growing up and decided that it would be perfect for a cover song. I’ve now seen the band America in concert at least ten times, meeting them and getting their autographs on many occasions. They’re great guys and that only helped make them one of my favorite bands.
I love their album “Homecoming” and will be doing most of the songs off it in the future. But, for now, I give you the tune that started it all for me. Once I found out that this song was from the same guys that did “Horse With No Name”, I had to get the “Best Of” CD. After that, I scoured CT (this was before eBay was huge) for any America CDs I could find. I even bought some of the LPs. The band was surprised to see such a young guy asking to get those signed. My gravitation towards America was probably due to the fact that I could tell they were influenced by the Beach Boys- their harmonies and melodic songs drew me in. And, they put a classic rock spin on things- kind of like Crosby, Stills, and Nash, but even more mellow.
“Sister Golden Hair” is really one of my favorite songs. The chorus is so catchy, but Gerry Beckley (the singer and songwriter for this song) didn’t stop there- he began the song with a great acoustic guitar part and some really cool slide guitar. One of the reasons why the original recording of “Sister Golden Hair” sounds so good is because Beatles producer George Martin actually produced it! Yes, that’s right- he even produced a few other albums for America in the mid 70s. The first song he produced for them was the big hit “Tin Man”.
America had two #1 Billboard hits- “A Horse With No Name” and “Sister Golden Hair”. It’s a shame they didn’t have a third, because then each member would’ve had their shot at having a Number One Hit. “A Horse With No Name” was written by Dewey Bunnell, but original member Dan Peek (left in the late 70s, but is now deceased) never got a song up to Number One. He did have a popular song, though, in “Lonely People”, which is instantly recognizable. So, I guess all of the band members had their chances to shine.
Like many of my acoustic cover song videos, I’m using my nylon string guitar here. Sure, it doesn’t sound exactly like the original, but I thought it allowed me to sing over the guitar without shouting. On the verses, I found that I needed a softer sounding guitar because the tone is so “conversational” and not soaring above the music (like a Beach Boys song would be, for instance).
I hope you all enjoy this America acoustic cover song- truly one of my favorites. Stay tuned for more cover song music videos from the musicians here at the Laptop Sessions video blog!