“Please, Mrs. Henry” (Bob Dylan Cover)

Originally posted 2009-04-27 21:13:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For Bob Dylan chords / tabs / lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

And, just like that, I’m back with my second session of the night!

As a follow-up to my previous music video, this is “Please, Mrs. Henry,” also from Bob Dylan’s 1975 release The Basement Tapes.  Generally, I am most impressed with complete, clean studio recordings of songs from my favorite bands, yet there are many instances of great music being created when an artist has stripped away at all the usual standards and practices of studio recording.  A most recent — and admittedly weird — instance of this is the re-release of Beck’s early nineties indie rock release One Foot in the Grave.  While this album really isn’t the kind of music I’ll be showing off to my friends, there is this really raw and unique sound to it.  One of the benefits to these types of recordings is the quantity of music usually available — i.e. 24 Basement Tapes tracks and 32 tracks on the aforementioned Beck album.  In the first 16 album tracks, songs like “Cyanide Breath Mint,” “Asshole” (later covered by Tom Petty for the She’s the One soundtrack!), and “Painted Eyelids” would never make it anywhere near the radio.  I love the lyrics and sound to some of the bonus tracks, as well — “Favorite Nerve,” “Burning Boyfriend,” and, “Feather in Your Cap” to name a few.

Of course, with these types of recordings, there are always going to be throwaway tracks and songs that will make you want to say, “What was he thinking?!”  But that’s to be expected…

Getting back to the Laptop Session at hand, “Please, Mrs. Henry” is one of the songs I initially disliked from this album.  More specifically, I found it kind of plain.  Now that I’ve gone back to it — specifically during my Bob Dylan mp3 marathon earlier this month — I have a newfound appreciation for the lyrics as well as the music.  Where else can you get the perspective of a singer/narrator who is not only telling you he is drunk, but actuallly sounds drunk while he’s doing it?  Dylan’s inflection aside, how else can you read lyrics like “I’ve been sniffin’ too many eggs…Drinkin’ too many kegs” or “I’m groanin’ in a hallway; pretty soon, I’ll be mad” or, who could forget, “Why don’t you look my way and pump me a few?”

Great stuff.

With that, I’ll leave you to watch my interpretation of one of the many songs on The Basement Tapes that have been capturing the attention of fans since it was recorded in 1968.  Even before the album was officially released, these tracks became some of the most bootlegged songs in rock music history.  (Think: Great White Wonder.)  And now you have my version to add to the mix.  It certainly doesn’t approach the level that Dylan’s on, but it was a lot of fun to try!  (Check out the chords, linked at the top of this post, so you can play, too…)

See you next session!

“Worlds Apart” (Original Wednesday Song by Co-Songwriter Jim Fusco)

Originally posted 2008-06-11 21:12:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome to Original Wednesday here at the Laptop Sessions! It only comes but once every three weeks for me, so you know I’m going to make it a good one.

Tonight, I bring you an original song I wrote with the help of my fellow MoU (at http://jimfusco.com/albums.html ) bandmates for our latest album, “Homestead’s Revenge”. The album is GREAT, and you can listen to the whole thing for free on our website.

This song is track two off the album and follows a very interesting pattern. You might notice that the verse never comes back after the first round. It just has the chorus and middle instrumental parts play again and again. You almost don’t even notice it only has that one full verse until you stop and think about it.

I recorded this video last night. That is, I recorded this video BEFORE I made my huge discoveries pertaining to my original and cover songs videos.

First, I found a great program called iGlasses that allows me to manually control the iSight camera in my Macbook. It’s about time- I can’t stand when the camera just decides, “You know what, why don’t I just make it a lot darker for no reason?” Now, I’ll be able to control the exposure and brightness (plus white balance and color controls) BEFORE I record the video. This will save me time and, as we video professionals know, will make the end-result a lot nicer looking. It’s much more difficult to fix something in post-production than it is to do it right the first time around.

Second, I finally got my ZOOM H2 to record at the same time my iSight camera does!! You see, iMovie HD doesn’t give you the option to record using a different audio source. It just says “Record with iSight”.

Well, I went out to the main Apple preferences, switched the input in there, and presto- crystal clear sound without that incessantly loud fan noise that comes from the laptop.

But again, this was all learned AFTER I recorded the videos you’ll see from me for about the next month. BUT, at least we know great looking AND sounding video for me is on the horizon.

And the best part? I don’t have to do any extra work! :-)

Thanks for watching and keep spreading the word about our great acoustic cover songs and original music!

 



“Sister Golden Hair” (America Cover)

Originally posted 2008-02-15 23:16:51. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

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.

Jim and Chris with the band America.

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!


Reflections on Rock Music: The Subtleties of the Playlist

Originally posted 2009-06-22 23:50:42. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

For those who don’t know me, it can safely be said I’m a music dork for the ages.  And so, with that distinction clearly in place, it is with great honor that I present to you an article for the Laptop Sessions new music blog dedicated to what is perhaps my favorite digital innovation:

The playlist.

For anyone that owns an mp3 player and certainly anyone that uses iTunes, playlists offer new and unique ways to group your songs.  Whether you’re making one for yourself, a friend, or significant other, there are countless formats you can use.  Here are the major categories:

1.)  The Artist Compilation

This is the ultimate test of your knowledge and love for a given artist:  Can you create a compilation of a band or artist’s best songs?  Here’s the added twist:  In my personal opinion, I think compilations should adhere either to the length of a CD (about 74 minutes) maximum, or 20 songs at most.  Giving yourself a boundary to work within forces you to nix some songs that just shouldn’t make the cut, even if they do remind you of the first time you kissed your significant other, or whatever.

The trick here is to compile a set of tracks that are both comprehensive and satisfying in one grouping, taking care to order them in an interesting manner that gives the compilation a life of its own.  Sometimes, chronological is okay.  But if you’re just going to choose tracks and throw them randomly into a playlist, then please don’t even try.

These are valuable playlists to have, particularly for more under-the-radar bands like Ben Folds and (until last week’s “Best of” release) the Wallflowers, as well as artists whose greatest hits come in multiple and/or unsatisfying formats, like R.E.M. and (until recently) Bob Dylan.  Even when you love albums like I do, you may just want to hear a mix from time to time.

2.) The Artist Catalog Playlist

Similar to the artist compilation, the artist catalog playlist focuses on one band or artist.  However, this is for true fans only.  The playlist comprises a chronological collection of any and all tracks you can get your hands on.  Oh yeah, I’m talking about all those demos, live tracks, and soundtrack cuts you’ve accumulated over your long career as a fan.

Personally, I drop all the studio albums into the playlist first, ordering them by release date, and then I add all other tracks around those mainstays.  Even when a track has technically come out previous to a studio album during the same year, I put the tracks after the album.  My reasoning?  Hey, the albums are — hopefully — the first, best source for great tracks and provide some great structure to what could be an exhaustive (and exhausting) playlist.

This works very well for bands with popular, lengthy careers — like Pearl Jam — or more under-the-radar artists, such as Wilco (I spent more time than I should have compiling my “Wilco, etc.” playlist, which includes a ton of Jeff Tweedy solo work, Golden Smog, Loose Fur, and more) and Jim Fusco (don’t even ask — of course I included such great rareties as “Parody Writer” and all the bonus tracks on releases like My Other Half and the enhanced CD section of Formula).

3.)  The Themed Playlist

Perhaps the most popular of all playlists, I think anyone who considers him/herself a fan of music or of life in general should have to make at least one themed playlist for someone special, or at least for personal use.  Just last night, my friend Dana Camp was describing the track listing of a “Date Playlist” that he has.

Recently, I’ve made playlists for the drive to the beach, rush hour traffic, the unfortunate bank overdraft/identity theft crisis of a friend, and you better believe that I had a downright melancholy compilation prepared and put to good use while I was broken up from my girlfriend last year.  These sorts of playlists are the most versatile, and the degree to which you take the song choice and track order into consideration say at least as much about you as the tracks say about the artist/band.

4.)  Long Format Playlists

Last but not least we come to the long format playlist.  Similar to the artist catalog playlist (which can be played straight through in chronological order if you prefer), this list is most often played while your iPod or other mp3 device is in shuffle mode.

My favorite examples of this type are the “Albums by Year” compilations I put together recently.  On my iPod, I have playlists titled “Albums – 1990,” “Albums – 1991,” and so on up to the still-expanding “Albums – 2009.”  Because I’ve been spending a lot of time working recently, each day I choose a year and just let it play.  This is fun and fascinating because you can laugh and say, “Wow, I haven’t heard that song in FOREVER!,” as well as begin to appreciate in retrospect the songs and albums that came out during the same years.  For instance, I didn’t really fall in love with albums and music in general until the turn of the millennium.  Now that I’m listening to the 1991 playlist, I’m coming to appreciate the juxtapositon of Tom Petty’s more straightforward Into the Great Wide Open with the more alternative Ten (Pearl Jam) or Temple of the Dog (by the one-off band of the same name), as well as the atypical acoustic format and vocal clarity of R.E.M.’s Out of Time.  What will it be today?  Maybe I’ll go back to the hey day of my early musical roots, circa 1997 or 1998…

…and then remember why I came to love the Sixties music of bands like Bob Dylan and the Beatles!

Seriously, though, I hope you have enjoyed my breakdown of playlist formats.  If you have any of your own, please comment — I would LOVE to be able to think of more ways to effectively utilize the playlist functions of my iPod.