And here it is- the end of the line. I can’t believe we’re already through all 14 days of my Rock’n’Roll Christmas celebration! Remind me to never do this again.
Today’s song is my original Christmas tune, “Christmas Morning”, that I wrote back in high school! I personally think every artist has ONE good Christmas song in them. And, to be honest, I’m not exactly sure that I’d ever be able to come up with another one as catchy as this one, so I don’t think I’m going to try!
I recorded this song for the first time back in 2004 for our Christmas album, “Our Christmas Gift To You”. At the time, I was just getting used to playing the guitar and recording with my digital 24-track. I had basic microphones, too. Now, I have a Cab Clone to record my guitars, various tube amps, high quality mics, compressors, preamps, and…the same 24 track mixer. But, if you’ve heard both versions, you can really tell a big difference. I’ll probably end-up recording this again in the future after my equipment gets even better!
My wife Becky helps me sing on this tune, too. I was going to have my brother Mike help out, but he was sick when he came home for Thanksgiving, so he couldn’t sing on it. Next time, though!
I hope you’ve had as much fun reading and listening to these Christmas songs as I have making them. It’s a pretty big accomplishment for me to do all of this while being so busy otherwise. I hope I can maybe just do one song a year from now on, just to keep me into the recording process. Enjoy “Christmas Morning” and have a Merry Christmas!
Here’s one plenty of people should know: the classic and beautiful “Warmth of the Sun” by the Beach Boys, written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love. The story goes that both Brian and Mike were together the night that President John F. Kennedy passed away. It must’ve been quite a night in America- I can only imagine it. But, in songwriters’ darkest hours come some great material. Most of the great songs you hear are a result of heartache- it’s usually due to losing a loved one. But, Brian Wilson and Mike Love of the Beach Boys were creative in their songwriting and made their feellings for the passing of their President known in song. Sure, they tailored it into a love-lost song (“The love of my life, she left me one day…”), but you can tell the sentiment in the song, especially considering the night they wrote it.
“The Warmth of the Sun” is a beautiful song in all ways- the chord changes are just great. Brian Wilson always had a knack at creating chord progressions that were familiar, but had a great twist. The bass line always moves in the opposite direction of where you expect it to go. In addition to great music (and the instrumental track, which I’m pretty sure was played by the Beach Boys band members themselves), this song has AMAZING harmonies. Brian Wilson’s voice simply soars in this song. With the addition of the dead-on background vocals, you’ve got a pretty perfect song. I’m just glad I found a way to put a solo acoustic performance together and record it with just an acoustic guitar for a cover song music video.
This video is fulfilling a request I received in my first week of doing the Laptop Sessions. I waited until now because I knew I had to get this one right. I had to practice the chords (not too easy, and this is my own interpretation- I didn’t even use a book), plus get the intricate tune correct. There’s so many subtleties to this tune and NO ONE was writing pop music like this in 1963. Talk about ahead of their time.
Please visit my website at http://jimfusco.com for more great music–original songs! One of the main ideas behind doing all of these cover songs for the Laptop Sessions is that if you like the style of music that I do live performances of, you’ll also love my original music, too! I really think that’s true- my original songs aren’t just throwbacks or anything like that. They’re unique songs that put a modern twist on my favorite influences, including The Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Beatles, and the Moody Blues. I hope you enjoy tonight’s Beach Boys cover song and I hope you’ll stay tuned for more. Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jimfuscomusic so you always know the latest on my songwriting endeavors, too!
Welcome everyone to another edition of the Laptop Sessions with me, Jim Fusco! It feels like these two-week spans between my acoustic cover song music videos fly-by each time. It’s already the second week of December and Christmastime is going by like a shot. This year, I’ll be bringing you one Christmas song music video that I recorded on piano. But, that will have to wait until next time.
Tonight, I bring you the second in my two-part series of songs titled, “I Need You”. The first was the cover video I did two weeks ago, “I Need You” by the Beatles. I’ve always loved that George Harrison song and it’s about time I got to make an acoustic video version of it here for the music blog. As I mentioned on that post, I think the band America, and specifically Gerry Beckley- the writer of today’s song- were heavily influenced by the Beatles. In fact, in each concert performance (and I’ve seen them about 15 times now) they play a Beatles song. They say that it was the music that made them want to become rock musicians and songwriters.
Now, I’ve also hypothesized that Gerry Beckley made a nod to George Harrison’s “I Need You” in his song by the same title. I can hear a similarity in the chord progression, especially at the end of the song when it goes to that minor chord. It’s such an interesting change and both songs feature it (though Harrison’s goes to an F#m and Beckley’s goes to an Em7). It would be such an honor if Gerry Beckley himself ever read this blog post and commented on my theory.
America’s “I Need You”, off of their first (self-titled) album, was one of the songs that got me into the group’s music. Other Beckley songs like “To Each His Own” and “Only In Your Heart” are personal favorites, as well. I always gravitated to Beckley’s songwriting, as I can tell the clear Beatles and Beach Boys influences. After a show of theirs I attended, the band signed autographs. I brought in my copy of Beckley, Lamm, and Wilson’s “Like A Brother” CD and Gerry was surprised that I had it. I loved that album, especially because we got to hear some great Carl Wilson songs. He told me that he spoke at Carl’s funeral and that he was a very, very close friend. To me, that’s amazing- growing up and listening to your favorite group…and then becoming a musician and eventually friends with one of the members. To me, this made sense, as Carl Wilson was the youngest Beach Boy, more Beckley’s age.
In the studio version of “I Need You”, you hear a great acoustic 12-string guitar over the piano. For my Laptop Sessions cover version, I took a rare seat at the piano and stripped this song down to its basic elements. And when you just sit back and listen to the words, you realize how great of a song it really is. Beckley wrote this song right out of high school and you can tell- going away from all of your friends (like he talked about in “To Each His Own”) is really tough, and the emotions that you feel for people in high school feel like they’re SO important. I remember feeling that I’d be alone forever if a relationship didn’t work out back in high school. If only I could give myself some late-20s wisdom.
I hope you enjoy tonight’s “I Need You” piano cover song music video. I’ll be back with a Christmas song music video for you in a couple of weeks, so I hope you’ll stay tuned! In the meantime, get that shopping done (without getting too stressed) and we’ll see you back here on the music blog!
Hello everyone and welcome to another new edition of the Laptop Sessions with Jim Fusco! Glad to be back for my regularly-scheduled Thursday timeslot. Remember- check back every two weeks for a brand-new video!
I went into a bit of a Jack Johnson phase recently because I ordered his new album, “To the Sea” on vinyl. I was home cleaning or working one Saturday morning and decided to fire-up the record player. I instantly liked the album and decided to add it to my car rotation. However, I still hadn’t listened to Johnson’s previous album, “Sleep Through the Static”, from a couple of years ago. I even bought it on the first day it came out, but was in another phase at the time (can’t remember what band). My brother Mike didn’t give “Sleep Through the Static” great reviews, so I thought others should come first. And there the album sat. First at the condo, then in my car, and finally in my new house.
So, I listened to “Sleep Through the Static”. It’s not a bad album. But, it’s not a great album, either. I mean, the songs are fine- I really have yet to find a Jack Johnson song I don’t like. But, and I’m being completely honest here, there’s not too many Jack Johnson songs I truly “LOVE”. “Sitting, Waiting, Wishing” is probably the closest. But, all of Johnson’s songs have that same vibe and are semi-simple, for the most part. Now, if you know anything about my musical tastes, you’ll know that those two traits are things I like in music. But, on “Sleep Through the Static”, the music is very low-key. There’s a lot of slow songs and nothing too catchy.
But on “To The Sea”, you start with “You and Your Heart”, which (in my opinion) is the catchiest, most single-worthy song since “Upside Down” off of the Curious George soundtrack. And since this isn’t a kids’ song, it should get a bit more respect. Mike doesn’t like the way Johnson sings the verses to “You and Your Heart”, so I hope I did a “better” job with that.
The song, as I mentioned earlier, is pretty simple to play. If I had accompaniment, I would’ve played the riff the whole way through, though it’s very difficult to do while singing lead. I chose to do rhythm guitar for most of the song because it sounds better on a solo performance and helps me keep time better. It took quite a few takes to get this one right- those fast-paced words during the verses are very tricky. The first line starts with, “Watch you when you say what you…” That’s three “you”s in the first seven words of the song! But, Jack Johnson’s alliteration has always been his strong point, lyrically.
I hope you enjoy tonight’s video. I’ve got the next three videos planned-out already and they’re sure to please. A quick note on my musical ambitions: The new website is coming along nicely after a tedious start (coding!) and I’ve started creating a new Facebook page just for me and my music. Also, please remember to follow me on Twitter @jimfuscomusic! You’ll get up-to-the-minute news and will always be notified of new videos and blog posts.
I’ll be back sooner if I can get the new website done first, but if not, I’ll see you in two weeks. For now, enjoy, “You and Your Heart”!