“Cowgirl in the Sand” (Neil Young & the Byrds Cover)

Originally posted 2008-04-15 14:26:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Thanks for stopping by for your Tuesday edition of the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog!

Today, I bring you a song written by Neil Young, “Cowgirl in the Sand”. Not only is this song one of his most famous, but it’s also generally well-known among country-rock music fans.

The version I’m doing is derivative of the version the Byrds did on their reunion album from 1975. That album isn’t wonderful by any means, but Gene Clark’s contributions are, of course, superb. He sings a great lead on this song, too.  Gene Clark just had a great timbre to his voice.  He could sing rock’n’roll music and country/western music with the best of them.  Of course, Gene Clark was a great songwriter, too, both with the Byrds and on his own solo recordings.  While searching around here on the music blog, be sure to click on Gene Clark’s category to see the other cover songs I’ve done written by him.  If you’re not a fan now (or haven’t heard of him), I guarantee his original songs will get your attention.

This is one song that I never planned on doing, but came into my head one night, so I just sat down and did it! I think some people were a bit surprised that I busted this one out at our first live show as a trio the other day.  My favorite aspect of the Byrds’ version of “Cowgirl In The Sand” is the harmonies on the chorus.  I really hope that we can get those harmonies right in future performances, as I think that’s the flare the Byrds added to make the version their own.

Considering how the Byrds first started, it’s a bit surprising that they gravitated over to country rock like they did.  They were initially marketed as a folk group, electrifying Bob Dylan songs like “Chimes of Freedom” and “Mr. Tambourine Man”.  But, the band members of the Byrds, especially Chris Hillman, started out loving folk music in a different way- the classic, down-home country style.  Chris Hillman is actually an accomplished mandolin player, and there is no better country guitarist than Roger McGuinn.  Basically, they just threw an electric bass in Hillman’s hands and a 12-string electric Rickenbacker guitar in McGuinn’s hands, and they had a big hit band.  In later albums, the band members of the Byrds would write original songs that had a country flare to them, including Chris Hillman’s “The Girl With No Name”, which I’ve also done a cover song music video of here on the music blog.

You may also notice the “incredible fluctuating hairdo” of myself- I recorded this song before getting a haircut, as you saw in the “Aware” cover video (of an original song) from last week.

I hope to do more Neil Young songs in the future and I hope this cover song video attracts some new viewers and music lovers to the Laptop Sessions live acoustic music video series!


“If You Leave Me Now” (Chicago Cover)

Originally posted 2008-04-27 22:38:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome to the start of “#1 Week”, where Chris Moore, Jeff Copperthite, and I are playing only songs that topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts, except for Original Wednesday, of course. But, I hope that the song I play on Original Wednesday will be a contender for a #1 week in the future! :-)

Tonight, I bring you a song that I just can’t get enough of. It’s Chicago’s first #1 hit and was written by the great Peter Cetera.

It’s a slow song, but has a great tune and some great chords. The only problem with the song is that it marked the beginning of Chicago’s “power ballad” phase. It was fruitful for them, yes, but it was also the end of their highly creative rock-n-roll style.

This is one of my favorite performances and I hope it ends up being even more popular than my first Chicago video, “Wishing You Were Here” ( http://laptopsessions.com/archives/26 ).



The Deep Racks Report: “Binaural”

Originally posted 2009-03-01 16:00:23. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

I think we’ve all heard the term “deep track,” used to refer to songs that do not receive much (or any) commercial radio airplay.  This series is dedicated to brief but focused reports on ALBUMS that do not receive as much commercial or critical attention as they should.

RELATED LAPTOP SESSIONS: Chris – “Thin Air” (chords included!)

When Pearl Jam released Binaural in 2000, they were met with solid sales — #2 on Billboard in the first week of its release — and decent critical reception — Rolling Stone gave it the 3.5 out of 5 stars nod.  For any other band, this may have been exciting.  However, for Pearl Jam, #2 on the Billboard 200 could be considered a minimum expectation, as even their debut album had hit that position.  As for the critical reception, Rolling Stone had rated all of their previous albums (except their first two, which had not been rated) a full four stars.  This may seem a minor change from 4 to 3.5, but it is a significant one.  The subtext?  Binaural is somehow inferior to Pearl Jam’s previous releases.

Fast forward to 2009, and let’s talk dollar signs.  I’m not referring to album sales — although Binaural is infamously the first Pearl Jam album to fail to reach platinum status, never mind the 7x and 5x platinum statistics of Vs. and Vitalogy respectively or the 12x platinum(!) heights of Ten.  I’m referring to the sticker price.  The average retail value in stores like Best Buy and Circuit City — stores at which the average for CDs is largely in the $12.99 – $14.99 range — is $5.99.  Even on Amazon.com, the price is higher (albeit a measly $1) at $6.99.  What does that say about this album, a fully studio-produced main catalog Pearl Jam release, that its retail value is less than half of the average price one would expect?

While I can’t tell you why it is valued for so low, I can report that this is an excellent album!  Admittedly, I purchased it during Circuit City’s store closing sale for only $4.  I didn’t expect to like it.  Rather, I wanted to get my feet wet with a Pearl Jam record before listening to their debut Ten when it is remastered and re-released later this month.  After a couple listens — and contrary to my expectations — I’ve become hooked on this album.  Right out of the plastic, the packaging is a positive sign — a three-fold digipack with full lyrics reproduced as images of typewritten and handwritten notes.  From the breakneck pace of the first track “Breakerfall” to the sad, soothing sound of the final track “Parting Ways,” the sequence of this album is just right.  The first three tracks are among my favorites on the album (“Evacuation” is possibly the best, most rocking track on the album) and make me reconsider every time I want to take it out of my CD player after a full rotation.  “Light Years” slows it all down and (contrary to Rolling Stone‘s criticisms) unwinds into an excellent ballad of sorts.  The single “Nothing As It Seems” comes next, which I do like, although I couldn’t tell you why this particular track was chosen as the single when there were so many other excellent choices.

For three more tracks, the pace is heavy and slower, but these are some excellent tracks — “Thin Air” (see above for the link to the Laptop Session version), the show-stopping “Insignificance,” and “Of The Girl.”  Truth be told, the next trio of songs are the only sequence on the album that I could do without.  The energy of “Grievance” and “Rival” are undeniable — the latter won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance — and “Sleight of Hand” is a nice lead-up to the final two songs on the album, but I can see why one might have seen Pearl Jam treading water with these tracks.  Then again, taking the Grammy into consideration, perhaps my opinion is simply the opposite of all paid critics.

The album ends slowly with “Parting Ways,” but the final highlight of the album — the song that first made me perk up and pay attention lyrically — is the penultimate track “Soon Forget.”  It’s just Eddie Vedder and a ukulele, but it’s so much more.  The arrangement fits the song perfectly, as Vedder sings about a man who “trades his soul for a Corvette,” “trades his love for hi-rise rent,” and is ultimately “living a day he’ll soon forget.”  As the song concludes with his funeral scene, Vedder sings, “He’s stiffening.  We’re all whistling, a man we’ll soon forget…”

Granted this is my first Pearl Jam album experience, but if the other albums are so much better, then I can’t wait to hear them!  There’s nothing wrong with this album, and it certainly doesn’t deserve the drastically reduced retail price or ho-hum reviews (Rolling Stone was so distracted that the review is largely a commentary on late 90s pop music, framed by a comparison between Matchbox Twenty and Pearl Jam).  Based on the quality of individual tracks and on the thoughtful sequencing of the album as a whole, Binaural is more than worth your time!

“Church on Sunday” (Green Day Acoustic Rock Cover)

We’re looking for more Guest Sessions submissions! So, sit down, pull up your acoustic guitar and camera, post the video on YouTube, and CLICK HERE!

It’s finally Friday and it’s time to add yet another guest to this, the Guest Sessions project, hosted at the best cover song and new music video blog on the web — the Laptop Sessions!

For tonight’s video, we are happy to bring you only the second Green Day cover that’s been released on the blog.  Tonight’s guest comes to you from Bournemouth, UK.  Isn’t that the beauty of the Internet?  Mike White, our “Guest” performer, can record a video in the UK and I can post it on this music video blog while sitting in bed in Connecticut, United States.  We’ve become so used to this web that it’s not all that amazing to most of us, particularly the younger generation (myself included).  I take it for granted sometimes, but every so often I step back and consider how amazing this really is…

Tonight’s selection is “Church on Sunday,” the third track on Green Day’s Warning: album.  Warning: was released in 2000 and rose to both gold status and number 4 on the Billboard charts.  Even still, this was the least impressive showing the band had ever had, since their debut album Dookie. What makes material from Warning: ideal for the Laptop Sessions, though, is the fact that this album incorporates acoustic elements more than any previous Green Day release.

And you may be seeing another Green Day cover song soon, as the band is planning to release their new album, 21st Century Breakdown, in May 2009.  Supposedly, it has been strongly influenced by the work of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and the Beatles, and is “more power pop than punk.”  Interesting… (I hope…)

So, without further ado, you should click on the video below and let Mike White’s energetic performance speak for itself!