Welcome to your Thumpin’ Thursday edition of the Laptop Sessions! I bring you yet another song from the Wallflowers, and one that not everyone is going to catch.
The song is “Empire in My Mind”, which is a bonus track from their album “Red Letter Days”. It is a solidly written song as well. While simple as well, it remains a favorite of mine.
The Laptop Sessions continue the trek through 2008 for a Session a day! Stay tuned for my next video on Sunday, and then my next edition of Original Wednesday, where you will get to hear a world premiere from my upcoming album!
I hope you are enjoying the Laptop Sessions!
Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, Jeff’s acoustic cover song music videos are no longer on YouTube, but we decided to keep his cover song blog posts up. We figured these music blog entries would be good for posterity’s sake and because Jeff always gave such insightful posts each Session. We hope to see Jeff’s impressive catalog of acoustic rock songs here on the Laptop Sessions cover songs and original music blog again in the future. But, for now, please make sure to check-out hundreds of other acoustic cover songs from all of your favorite bands here on the Laptop Sessions music blog!
Tonight’s session, Ben Folds’ “Bastard,” is the opening track to one of the most memorable albums in my collection. Songs For Silverman was released in 2005, a few years after I had really gotten into listening to albums. When I say “gotten into,” I mean that albums quickly became one of the few subjects that truly captured my attention and imagination as a high school senior. As I got into college, I quickly found a slew of new albums that I thought were incredible, ranging from the classics like Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde to new music from Paul McCartney and the Wallflowers. I will always look back at that period of my life and fondly recall how new it all felt.
By 2005, I unwittingly began to fall into the traps that I had scoffed others for, specifically those like the Dylan fans who booed him when he went electric. Was it different? Yes. But, was it amazing music? Absolutely! I couldn’t fathom how close-minded people could be to new music. Unfortunately, two albums that I disliked upon their release — the Wallflowers’ Rebel, Sweetheart and the aforementioned Ben Folds’ Songs For Silverman — I later went on to greatly respect. I had to ask myself, why didn’t I initially fall in love with them?
The answer to this question lies in expectations. I expected Songs For Silverman to be as dynamic a record as Rockin’ The Suburbs, his previous and debut solo release. I expected him to play all the instruments and sing all the harmonies. When I listened to the album, there was a consistent sound throughout each of the tracks. He used a bass player and a drummer to augment his piano. It simply wasn’t what I expected. And to top it off, magazines like Rolling Stone were praising it for being more mature and overall better than Rockin’ The Suburbs, an album that I absolutely loved.
It is for this reason that Songs for Silverman holds a special place on my CD rack — it is an album that I didn’t give a fair chance. Ever since this realization, I have tried to approach each new album for what it is — a new album. It may not be the same or even as good as previous work, but if I give it a chance, I might enjoy it or even find it to be better! I know how much Jim Fusco and my sister, Jaime, love the songs on this album — Jaime didn’t take this CD out of her car for weeks after its release — and I’m glad I finally came around.
Well, I hope this makes up for my lack of post on my “7 8 9” video three days ago; I was just so tired that I couldn’t think straight. And I felt that video spoke for itself; it was amazingly fun to record. With Jim there to add acoustic flairs and background vocals, we knocked it out in a couple takes. We would have recorded some more from our long duet list — about ten or fifteen at this point — but hunger (and the need for ant traps) set in…
I hope you enjoy “Bastard.” You’ll get to hear my embarrassing and mercifully rare falsetto. You’ll get to hear me flub a couple of words noticeable only to the Ben Folds fanatic. You’ll get to see me (most likely) create enemies because I’ve broken Ben Folds’ general no-guitars policy and recorded an acoustic cover song of this song.
Here’s a great tune from the Beach Boys, originally sung by the legendary Carl Wilson (written mostly by Brian). Good Timin’ is one of those gems that clocks in at just over 2 minutes. But, so do many of the Beach Boys’ hit songs. Of course, most of those I’m talking about came out in the early 60s. “Good Timin'” is from 1980, off of the “Keepin’ the Summer Alive”. It’s not the best album of all time, but it holds some serious sentimental value with me.
You see, every year on the last day of school, we would get picked up from school in my dad’s 1990 Camaro. He’d pull up to the school, blasting “Keeping the Summer Alive”. It was the sure-fire way to know that summer was here! So, I associate this album with being extremely happy and that great times were ahead. So, even though I know “Keeping the Summer Alive” isn’t the Beach Boys’ best album, I still love it. I’ll be doing many acoustic cover songs off of that album in the future.
“Good Timin'” just sounds like a classic Beach Boys song. I can imagine that they were all very proud of this track when they were finished. Plus, the song has a great message. I end up singing “Good Timin'” to myself quite often. And nothing feels better than when you’ve got good timing on something- it could even be a well-timed joke. When the timing clicks, you can’t help but feel good about yourself.
One note about “Keepin’ the Summer Alive”- it’s the last album Dennis Wilson appeared on for the Beach Boys, but he’s hardly on it. In fact, the credits only say he played percussion on the song “Endless Harmony”! I always thought he had the line, “Goin’ on!” in the raspy voice (in the song with the same name), but it turns out it was just a 350 pound Brian that sang that line. It’s such a shame that Dennis didn’t get to contribute, whether it was his fault or not. He had such a great contribution to “L.A. (Light Album)” the year before with songs like “Baby Blue” and “Love Surrounds Me”, plus an amazing lead vocal on “Angel Come Home”, written by his brother, Carl. I’ll probably be recording acoustic versions of those songs, too, as they could use the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover song treatment!
I love this period in Beach Boys history, as they were making great music from every one of the band members, not just Brian. I hope you’ll agree and that you’ll enjoy tonight’s Beach Boys cover song.
And now, pinch-hitting for an under-the-weather Jeff, is Jim Fusco! I’m sitting in to bring you yet another great acoustic cover song music video here on the best music blog around: The Laptop Sessions! Tonight, I bring you one of my favorite songs from the Moody Blues, “The Voice”, from their #1 album, “Long Distance Voyager”.
Actually, this tune is climbing up my all-time favorites list as it has all the criteria for a song I would love: a catchy tune, faster paced, that glorious late 70’s, early 80s sound that’s not too overdone, and a great guitar solo. Of course, I’ve stripped all of that out in my version here, except for the tune and the tempo, but I think it gives a different take on the song as a whole. And that’s what you should expect from all of my cover songs- a different take on my favorite songs of all time. And, if you like the same songs I like, you’re sure to love my original music, as well! Visit my website at http://jimfusco.com and take a listen!
I actually recorded a full version of this song a few weeks ago, complete with synthesizers! I think it sounds just like the original and was a lot of fun to try recreating the sounds. There’s something about that synthesizer sound that the Moody Blues used. They hired Yes keyboardist Pat Moraz and updated their sound for the late 70s. Of course, they didn’t have Mike Pinder’s mellotron anymore, so they had to have something to replace it. I know the songs probably sound very “80s” to everyone now (“The Voice” is very heavily based on synthesizers), but to me, the music has worn pretty well. There are some 80s songs that I can’t even listen to. The synthesizers sound so fake and dated. But, the music of the Moody Blues during the Pat Moraz years doesn’t sound embarrassing like those other songs from the same time period (like the synths the Beach Boys used on “Love You”).
But, again, my acoustic cover song versions take away the synthesizers (and everything else, for that matter) and give you the song in its raw form. I want people to know what the song really sounds like. It’s interesting, though- you’ll actually hear all of the other parts in your head as you listen to my cover video.
By the way- if you haven’t heard “Long Distance Voyager” yet, please get a copy! It’s an amazing album and features some of my favorite songs of all time in “The Voice” and “Gemini Dream”. Plus, there are great contributions from drummer Graeme Edge (“22,000 Days”) and Ray Thomas (“Veteran Cosmic Rocker”).
Okay, look for a new cover song music video from Jeff tomorrow and again on “Original Wednesday”, as no matter the circumstance- you’re getting a Session a Day in ’08!