“Down Under” (A Men at Work Cover)

Originally posted 2008-07-15 23:50:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

This is another all-new cover video here at your source for the best cover songs on the web or anywhere: the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover song music blog! Since I haven’t introduced a brand-new band to the video blog in a while, I decided to record a song that I had considered recording back in the specialty “Number Ones Week.” I never recorded this song, which was a number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the eighties, for that week, and I put it aside — out of sight, out of mind — in my bookmarks menu. Then, I came across it tonight and decided to make it official.

This is “Down Under,” originally performed by the Men at Work. This is an eighties band that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to see here on this acoustic cover song blog. But, my father and I had always laughed and enjoyed this song whenever it came on the radio, so I thought it deserved its fair shake as an unplugged performance. It is an extremely easy song to play — the verse and chorus sections are different only by one chord — and it’s right in my comfortable vocal range.

Truth be told, it did take me quite a few takes. Unlike my last post, which I happily reported on Saturday was a one-take (my first ever!) recording, this took me about ten takes, false starts and all. It wasn’t so much that it’s a difficult song because, as I said before, it’s not. However, I haven’t really listened to the song in full for years, so I needed to find it on the YouTube videos search and watch it a couple times. Well, I really only had to listen to it, but it was so funny to watch that I simply couldn’t resist. I love the flute player in the tree and, of course, the man behind the counter “from Brussels” with “muscles” who gives the singer a “Vegemite sandwich.”

To this day, I’m really not even sure what a Vegemite sandwich is…

I actually just looked it up on Wikipedia now, and I found that it’s a “dark brown savoury food paste made from yeast extract, used mainly as a spread on sandwiches, toast and cracker biscuit.” It’s no surprise that I didn’t know what it was because, even though it is distributed by food manufacturing giant Kraft Foods, it has simply not caught on in Western nations such as the United States of America.

Vegemite knowledge notwithstanding, it really took me a long time because I needed to relearn the song. But, as my fellow FMP songwriters Jim and Jeff probably know all too well, I was very tired and had my mind on other things when I realized that tonight was my night to post another quality cover video. So, wiping the mid-summer sweat from my forehead and ignoring the headache that was creeping in, I did what any responsible video blog poster — or at least one who has committed himself to the session-a-day promise — would do… I recorded a Laptop Session.

I hope you enjoy it, as it really is a fun song, and I only wish that I had been able to record this acoustic cover song with some flute accompaniment… If this doesn’t quench your thirst for quality cover videos, you’ll just have to hurry back for Jeff’s next all-new session tomorrow, here on the Laptop Sessions Music Blog.

See you next session!



Music Review: Green Day’s “21st Century Breakdown”

Originally posted 2009-06-15 23:43:29. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For the acoustic cover music video of “Peacemaker,” CLICK HERE!

RATING:  4 / 5 stars

By Chris Moore:

Try as I might, I just couldn’t get into American Idiot. (I know, I know… send your complaints care of Chris at the Laptop Sessions.)  What possessed me to buy 21st Century Breakdown?  I’m not entirely sure.

But, I’m glad I did.

Green Day has followed up their 2004 rock epic/concept album American Idiot with an even more ambitious concept album, aiming this time at the realities and challenges presented to the next generation at the turn of the century.  If I read the lyrics of the title track properly (“We are, we are the class of ’13), Billie Joe Armstrong refers to the first decade of the 20th century as an incubation period and 2013 as a graduation year of sorts.  Interestingly this is the year that we will inaugurate our next president.  Considering the subject matter of their previous album, Armstrong seems to be holding 2013 up as a test of what we as a nation and a society have learned over the past couple decades.

Will we — as “graduates” — demonstrate tangible, calculable progress, or will we recede back into the mentalities and mistakes of our forefathers?

As Armstrong sings, “I was made of poison and blood; condemnation is what I understood.”  And, of course, he doesn’t forget the government on this most recent release, noting that “Homeland Security could kill us all.”  Indeed, he traces the “class of ’13” back to — and suggests that we have been raised by — “the bastards of 1969.”

In this sense, 21st Century Breakdown is connected at its heart to the era and perhaps the first year that Americans lost an innocence and faith in their government that at least appeared to exist previously.  Consider the difference between the lighter, folk-inspired protest music of the civil rights movement and the heavier protest material of the late sixties and early seventies.  Indeed, 1969 began in January with the inauguration of Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States who was most infamous for the Watergate scandal.  In March, Assistant Attorney General Richard Kleindienst spoke out against what he called “ideological criminals,” referring perhaps to the the alternative opinions being expressed by college students among others.  In May, Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas resigned following a financial controversy.  In the final months of the year, mass protests were staged against the war, including what came to be known as “Vietnam Moratorium Day” and a march on Washington, DC.

Throughout 21st Century Breakdown, there are repeated references to an entire generation of people whose confusion and “anguish” has been spawned from having inherited this legacy.  Certainly, there is a positive underlying message somewhere on this album, a suggestion that 2013 could indeed be a graduation year of sorts and a chance to move on to a new and different generational mindset than the one that has preoccupied us particularly over the past eight years.

Of course, we must remember that 1969 also saw Neil Armstrong’s moon walk and the Woodstock music festival.  Although the album is angsty and even angry throughout — and ends with tracks like “21 Guns” and “American Eulogy” — Armstrong and company depart with a message of hope in the final track, “See the Light” — he sings, “I want to see the light… I want to learn what’s worth the fight.”  To be certain, there is a positive energy and hesitant hopefulness that simply did not come through on American Idiot.

Under normal circumstances, it is probably not advisable to apply all that much scrutiny to Armstrong’s lyrics.  “It’s punk,” I have been told.  And that is true.  Indeed, this is perhaps why I have had a mental block of sorts that has prevented me from getting into, appreciating, and enjoying their previous work.  But anyone, myself included, who has so much as thumbed through the lyric booklet for American Idiot knows the effort and forethought that went into that album.

On 21st Century Breakdown, it all seems to come together.

As with Bruce Springsteen’s Working On A Dream (released earlier this year — CLICK HERE for a full review), this is an album written and recorded by a group that has worked hard over a lengthy career and is now able to put together the pieces — in Green Day’s case, there is straightforward, all-out punk rock but there are also more subtle acoustic guitar and piano-driven tracks.  There is screaming and there is crooning.  There are power chords pounded out on electric guitar, but there are also carefully constructed (if fairly simple) harmonies.

For my money, this is Green Day’s most ambitious — and perhaps most fully realized — album yet.

Breakdown opens with “Song of the Century,” emerging from the hiss of radio static as a simple, a cappella introduction to the concept of this album.

The title track follows immediately with several stabs at the piano before a heavy drum beat picks up and kicks in.  This song lays out the premise of the album to come, referencing the aforementioned “class of ’13” and the “bastards of 1969.”  This is a song presented in movements, reminiscent of a more mainstream take on the progressive format embraced by Weezer’s “I Am the Greatest Man (That Ever Lived)” from last year’s Red Album.  The closing line — “Scream, America, scream.  Believe what you see from heroes and cons” — is not only a call to the people of this society, but also evokes Brian Wilson with the reference to “heroes and cons” (think: “Heroes and Villains”, the multi-movement second track of Brian Wilson’s legendary SMiLE).

Next comes “Know Your Enemy,” a punk tour-de-force.  As many have noted, its roots are planted firmly in the Clash.  Boneheaded? Yup.  Bound to get stuck in your head? Yup.

Part one continues in a roller coaster ride: starting deceptively slow with “Viva La Gloria!” and “Before the Labotomy” (which introduce the recurring characters of young Gloria and Christian) and throttling back with “Christian’s Inferno” before coming to a melancholy conclusion with “Last Night On Earth.”

Part two, titled “Charlatans and Saints,” delivers more of the same.  The standout tracks are the electric rocker “East Jesus Nowhere” — a scathing commentary — and the acoustic rocker “Peacemaker” — another scathing, sarcastic commentary on its oxymoronic title.

This section ends with “Restless Heart Syndrome,” a song boasting perhaps the worst lyrical pun of the year, but a strong track nonetheless.

The third, final, and perhaps strongest section is “Horseshoes and Handgrenades,” the title track employing these handheld items — one thrown by the well to do and the relaxed, the other thrown by soldiers engaged in mortal combat — as part of a rhetorical device.  As Armstrong sings, ” ‘Almost’ only counts in horseshoes and handgrenades.”  A unique way to put it, but I suppose that’s true…

The final four tracks are at the thematic heart of the album: “The Static Age” rails against the confusion of the modern age, “21 Guns” asks the important and sadly relevant question “Do you know what’s worth fighting for?”, “American Eulogy” begins with a reprise/continuation of “Song of the Century” and unrolls a two-part attack (“Mass Hysteria” / “Modern Age”), and “See the Light” eases the album into its final phase, reinforcing the desire to “know what’s worth the fight” and, of course, to “see the light.”

**                                                   **                                                   **

Two years after the American Idiot tour ended, it was reported that Armstrong had finished writing 45 new songs.  Oddly enough, though, this album was released after the longest gap between releases in the band’s history.

Or, perhaps not so odd.  The album is proof positive that Green Day took their time not only with the writing, but also the recording and sequencing of the tracks for 21st Century Breakdown.

The result?

An entertaining but thoughtful album that is more than worth your time.

“God’s Gonna Cut You Down” (Johnny Cash acoustic folk song)

Originally posted 2009-08-31 22:00:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For Johnny Cash chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

As the Mamas and the Papas would say: “Monday, Monday!”

Welcome to the first acoustic cover song music video of a brand new week here at the Laptop Sessions.  Tonight, I’m bringing you my second cover from Johnny Cash’s first posthumous release, American Recordings V: A Hundred Highways.  Yes, that’s right…  I specified “first” posthumous release, because I just read that American VI is scheduled for release later this year.  Apparently, Cash was working on V up until he passed away.  I was under the impression that V was a collection of material that was still unreleased, but that’s more along the lines of what VI will be.  Even so, I am very excited to hear this final collection when it is released.

What brought on this sudden return to Johnny Cash’s recent work, you might ask?  Well, I found the first American Recordings CD on sale at Newbury’s last week and decided to pick it up.  Truly good new albums have been far and few between this summer, with the exception of the Fruit Bats’ The Ruminant Band earlier this month — a very pleasant surprise to say the least!

I’ve been enjoying American Recordings thus far; it clearly displayed a lot of potential, which was explored on the four — and soon to be five — subsequent editions of the series.  The only one I have yet to hear is American Recordings II, which includes the classic “I’ve Been Everywhere,” which Jim worked into my version of “Folsom Prison Blues” way back when for my second Laptop Session cover song video ever.

The song I chose for tonight is “God’s Gonna Cut You Down,” one of my favorites from American Recordings V.  It is a traditional song that Cash truly made his own, a song that has the ability to be simultaneously catchy/rockin’, and yet haunting/foreboding.  I had a fun time playing and practicing it the past few days, and I hope you’ll enjoy watching it.  As I mentioned earlier, this is the second song I’ve covered from this album, if you count Johnny Cash’s cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind,” one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

In other music news, I spent some time tonight reading about R.E.M.’s forthcoming double-CD live album that will include 39 tracks culled from their 2007 shows at the Olympia.  To be more specific, they played five shows in a row as they tried out new material for their 2008 album Accelerate.  In addition, they also played their hits and deep tracks.  I’ve wanted to hear these performances since I heard their new album, and I’m truly thrilled to hear this concert when it comes out in a couple months.  If you’re an R.E.M. fan, too, you should check out the videos for the two songs — the excellent “Living Well is the Best Revenge,” for which I recorded a Laptop Session, and Automatic for the People opening track “Drive — that have debuted on RollingStone.com.

And if you’re someone who has lost interest in Michael Stipe and company since they went through what can only be called a boring streak recently, then you need to give Accelerate a shot.  You won’t be disappointed.

I’ll leave you with one final, music-related note.  I added to Paste Magazine‘s trending topic on Twitter.com about the best albums of the 00’s, and shortly thereafter learned that I am the only person in the universe to have ever tweeted about the Wallflowers’ Red Letter Days, much less mention the album as one of the best during the decade.

I know; it’s quite the distinction…

See you next session!

“Peacemaker” by Green Day – Chords, Tabs, & How to Play

Originally posted 2009-05-18 21:11:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For the cover song music video, click HERE!

“Peacemaker”
Green Day

Bm
Well, I’ve got a fever,
A non-believer.
I’m in a state of grace,
For I am the caesar.
Bm                           F#
I’m gonna seize the day.
Well, call of the banshee…  Hey, hey.
(Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey)
As God as my witness,
F#                                Bm
The infidels are gonna pay.

Well, call the assassin
The orgasm,
A spasm of love and hate
For what will divide us?
The righteous and the meek…
Well, call of the wild… Hey, hey.
(Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey)
Death to the girl
At the end of the serenade.

F#
Vendetta, sweet vendetta,
F#     Bm
This beretta of the night,
Bm  Em                  Bm
This fire and the desire.
F#                                               Bm
Shots ringing out on a holy parasite.

I’m a killjoy from Detroit
I drink from a well of rage.
I feed off the weakness
With all my love.
Call up the captain… Hey, hey.
(Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey)
Death to the lover that you were
Dreaming of.

This is a standoff,
A molotov cocktail is on the house.
You thought I was a write off;
You better think again.
Call the peacemaker… Hey, hey.
(Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey)
I’m gonna send you back to the place
Where it all began.

Vendetta, sweet vendetta,
This beretta of the night,
This fire and the desire.
Shots ringing out on a holy parasite.

Instrumental:  Bm – F# – Bm – F#  Bm   Em   Bm   F#   Bm

Well, now the caretaker’s
The undertaker.
Now, I’m gonna go out
And get the peacemaker.
This is the neo
St. Valentine’s Massacre.
Well, call up the Gaza… Hey, hey.
(Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey)

Death to the ones
At the end of the serenade. (x4)

** 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. **