Hello, you night owls, and welcome to a very late Day 4 of Jim Fusco’s 14 Days of Rock’n’Roll Christmas!
Today, I bring you a great tune: “Don’t Need A Reindeer” by the Moody Blues. They came out with this song in the early 2000’s and I truly believe it’s the best Christmas song in the past 40 years! It’s got a great beat and such a catchy tune. I can’t believe it doesn’t get more airtime.
So, I decided to make my own version. It took a while to get the synth sounds right, but I think I got it pretty close. The harmonies were easy, but the times to sing them (they come in and out) was the really tricky part.
If you haven’t heard “Don’t Need A Reindeer” yet, I think you’ll really like it. And if you have heard it before, I hope my version lives up to the original! Have a good one and see you very soon for Day 5! Remember, all of these Christmas songs are FREE to download- just click the down arrow icon.
Hello and welcome to another all-new edition of the Laptop Sessions. To kick off another full week of new material, I’ve reached into the Moody Blues catalog of songs — specifically from their 2003 album December — to bring you a cover song version of their cover of the Mike Blatt and Tim Rice song “A Winter’s Tale.”
Now, although I am an English teacher, this is not to be confused with the William Shakespeare play “The Winter’s Tale.” Not only is there a notable difference in parts of speech (namely the indefinite – “a” – versus the definite – “the” – articles), but there is also a big difference in tone. Still, “The Winter’s Tale” is quite a trip. Consider, for instance, that this play contains one of Shakespeare’s most infamous stage directions: “Exit, pursued by a bear.” What I find the most interesting is that there is contention over whether he used an actual bear for the original productions, or simply a man dressed in a bear costume.
I would assume the latter, but the former is just so much more fascinating…
But this is all beside the point.
“A Winter’s Tale” is one of those songs that is indisputably beautiful, sung perfectly by Justin Hayward. For those who have seen them in concert recently, you may have noticed my apparel is a nod to Hayward’s typical onstage wardrobe. That wasn’t too difficult to arrange, as I simply removed my tie and jacket and voila! Of course, this is also one of those songs that, upon playback, forces me to remember I’m a rhythm guitarist hammering away at what is such a subtle, pretty song at heart. During our MoU Christmas concerts, Mike would front the band on this one, fingerpicking and taking the lead — and for good reason!
The reason I’m standing up is because the song simply didn’t sound right when I played it sitting down. I found I was having trouble getting comfortable as I played it.
Of course, the majority of the song being played on barre chords didn’t help either…
Several takes and several strained ligaments in my hands later, you’ve got yourself a new Laptop Session.
As a final note about the song, I found it very interesting that this song, originally written by songwriters Mike Batt and Tim Rice, hit #2 on the UK charts back in 1982. Batt teamed up with Rice to write the song for performer David Essex. Another interesting bit of trivia is that Batt went on to produce Justin Hayward’s solo album Classic Blue between 1988 and 1989 at Abbey Road Studios in London. Classic Blue, ironically, is an album of covers. The track listing includes three songs written by Batt, as well as classics from Brian Wilson, Lennon/McCartney, and Led Zeppelin.
I hope that you enjoy this installment of the Laptop Sessions, and I encourage you to hurry back for more very soon. In addition to your regularly scheduled (yuletide?) cover song music video tomorrow, there may be a brand new Guest Session on Friday, as well as another edition of the Weekend Review. If you missed last weekend’s music review, you should know that I just kicked off a top five albums of the decade countdown. Each weekend between now and January 2nd, 2009, I will reveal another album on the list, as well as a full review. Then, on January 2nd, I will post my full “Top Thirty Rock Albums of the Decade” list, along with my review for the number one rock album of the decade.
Thus far, the Barenaked Ladies’ Maroon (2000) has cinched the #5 slot. Which album will rank as the fourth best album of the decade?
You’ll have to tune in to the Weekend Review to find out…
To see how it’s played in the cover song music video, CLICK HERE!
“A Winter’s Tale”
The Moody Blues
Intro: F Bb F Bb F C F
The nights are colder now
Maybe I should close the door
F C Dm
And anyway the snow has covered all your footsteps
And I can follow you no more
The fire still burns at night
My memories are warm and clear
But everybody knows
C Bb C F
It’s hard to be alone at this time of year
It was only a winter’s tale
Just another winter’s tale
And why should the world take notice
Of one more love that’s failed?
A love that can never be
Though it meant a lot to you and me
On a world-wide scale
We’re just another winter’s tale
Instrumental: F C Dm Dm/C/Bb C F
While I stand alone
A bell is ringing far away
I wonder if you’re here
I wonder if you’re listening
I wonder where you are today
Good luck, I wish you well
For all that wishes may be worth
I hope that love and strength
Are with you for the length
Of your time on earth
Sing the following over the end of the instrumental:
Bb C F C – F
We’re just another winter’s tale.
** 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. **
Here they are: the final two reviews of the year! It’s taken me a week, but I’ve prepared all my “end of the year” lists, and they’ll be going live a day at a time, starting tomorrow…
El Camino (The Black Keys)
Producer: Danger Mouse & The Black Keys
Released: December 6, 2011
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Top Two Tracks: “Little Black Submarines” & “Lonely Boy”
Instantly accessible, this new Black Keys album picks up more or less where its predecessor, Brothers, left off, though this time around some of the nuances have been dumped in favor of a streamlined, more formulaic sound. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it does create a sort of unity on the album, but it also tends to make the tracks run together a bit too seamlessly. “Little Black Submarines” is the standout here, if only for its use of acoustic guitar to establish the track before picking up, though “Lonely Boy” was the perfect choice for a lead-off single (you’ll get no argument from me there). Others, like “Run Right Back” and “Nova Baby,” are notable for their hooks, but the remainder of the songs generally feed into one album-length grunge/blues-rock fest that is, again, instantly accessible for the tracks’ consistent tightness, brevity, and catchiness.
Cloud Maintenance (Kevin Hearn)
Producer: Kevin Hearn & Michael Phillip Wojewoda
Released: December 20, 2011
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Top Two Tracks: “Always Changing” & “Northland Train”
Cloud Maintenance is about what you would expect from a Thin Buckle or a Kevin Hearn solo album, with an added sense of sonic and thematic unity that hasn’t always been present on previous releases. Perhaps due to his soothing vocals or to the overwhelming sense of utter calm his instrumentation often projects, Hearn’s releases have the potential to be overlooked, or simply admired for their quirkiness yet denied the honor of future listens. Here, however, there is a thread that weaves each track together, and the lyrics, though quite simple in most cases, tell a story for those willing to listen. From the opening refrain of “Northland Train,” there is a theme of departure and loss — of presence, of position — that pervades the first several tracks. “She Waved” adds a bus to the transportational imagery (not to mention a gorgeous barrage of lush vocal harmonies), just as “Don’t Shuffle Me Back” brings in playing card imagery to express, again, the loss of a position once held dear. “Grey Garden” delves deeper into the sense of loss, and “Tell Me Tell Me” ponders, albeit from afar, on what Hearn has disclosed as the cover painting by artist Don Porcella. In “The House of Invention,” the tone begins to shift to a brighter, fairy tale-esque perspective. The touching, beautiful “Always Changing” settles the contemplation explored earlier in a sturdier, life-encompassing paradigm that suggests wisdom and ease arriving at last. “The City of Love” opens up a brief window that hints at fresh possibilities in a world that was previously possessed by the “could have been” and the “once was.” Finally, “Monsters Anonymous” takes a twist, adding the humorous MA meeting introductions of seven classic scary fellows, each suggestive of a deeper layering of underlying thoughts, concerns, and regrets. In this sense, there is the same positive, if pensive, energy here on Cloud Maintenance: you just need to experience the indecision and sad feelings of loss to reach it. (And, with only eleven days to share, Hearn offers up my favorite stanza of lyrics of 2011: “I’m Frankenstein’s creation / and here’s my explanation, / why I’m bad at pro-creation: / my nuts are in my neck.” So, there’s that.)