“One After 909” (Beatles Cover)

Originally posted 2013-09-22 13:54:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jeff:

Assistant Editor’s note: This was originally posted on September 17, 2009.  The TV in this post is still the one in my living room, and I still have one HDMI input free.

Welcome to Thumpin’ Thursday!  I’ve dug back in time for this week’s video, and gone to a classic song, and one of our many Beatles cover songs.

The song is “One After 909” by The Beatles, from their album “Let It Be”.  I wonder if this song is in their new Rockband game?  Well, if it isn’t, it perhaps should be.  It’s simple, but just has a catchy, bluesy feel to it.

I first heard this song thanks to Chris, when the two of us and our friend Alberto did a show at his house.  This song opened the show and it stuck with me because of how catchy it is.

When you look at the lyrics, you see it’s definitely a train story.  It apparently is about a man who’s going to pick up his friend/girlfriend/wife/whatever at the train station, but the woman, who was supposed to get on 909, gets on the one after!

I ordered a new HD TV yesterday because our old box went boom on me.  I was watching Sportscenter Tuesday morning and all of a sudden “BEOUUUU”, and then that was followed by the smell of electronics burning.  Not good.  So, I purchased a 32 inch LG LCD with a whole lotta HDMI inputs.  I was a little nervous, but then I noticed my cable box has an HDMI out.

Funny thing, is last week I said to my wife “Do you think it’s time to get a new TV?”

Stupid karma.

Ok well i’ll see you next week for my next video!  Toodles!

Reflections on Rock Music: How to Become a Songwriter…

Originally posted 2009-04-20 23:38:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Regardless of which genre of rock music you listen to, chances are that you are a fan of songwriters.  As recently as the fifties and even into the sixties, it was considered par for the course to have the songwriting separated from the performance.  For instance, consider Lieber and Stoller’s contributions to Elvis Presley’s catalog.  Johnny Cash wrote some of his songs, but he certainly covered more than he wrote.  And this was an understandable system.

Somewhere along the line, the singer/songwriter became a closely watched and more appreciated commodity.

It really began in the sixties, predominantly with Dylan and the Beatles.  Both acts began by playing traditional music and covers before they started writing their own music.  Whatever it was, something struck them, and from that point forward, it only made sense to record their own material.  This most likely contributed to the legendary heights that sixties rock music reached.  Consider Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde, Dylan’s groundbreaking records that truly sounded like nothing that had come before.  Take Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Beatles’ experimental and, in the case of the latter, concept albums that literally changed the texture of album making as we know it.

Meanwhile, don’t forget all the other singer/songwriters who emerged during that period and since.  Brian Wilson went so far in the mid-sixties as to stop touring and devote his attentions one hundred percent to songwriting and arranging lush, complicated — and, of course, beautiful — background tracks, perhaps best showcased on Pet Sounds and the finally-released SMiLE (the latter of which literally drove him crazy).

Since then, some of my personal favorite bands and individual artists have been, first and foremost, songwriters.  Take Warren Zevon’s unique brand of songwriting, particularly his dark humor and literary references.  Or R.E.M. and their contributions to the genre now known as “alternative rock,” wherein Michael Stipe purposely cut out electric guitar solos and — at least in the band’s early work — muffled the lyrics so that there was no single set of understood words for each song.  It was literally left up for interpretation.

Later acts have split off in a range of directions.  For instance, acts like Ben Folds, the Barenaked Ladies, and the Wallflowers have clearly taken their lead from classic sixties songwriters and then added their own unique lyrical and instrumental twists.  Other bands, such as Pearl Jam and Wilco (to name only a couple), continue to make music that stretches and redefines the boundaries that have previously been set for rock music and songwriting in general.  (This is a painfully short list of five contemporary bands that I love, but they are enough to provide fodder for conversation…)

So, based on this, how does one become a songwriter?

If you’ve always wanted to be a songwriter but were never sure how, or even if you’ve just been curious, then this list is for you…

1)  Rebel Against Something

This is a requisite coming-of-age process for all you prospective songwriters who hope to make it to the big time.  Whether you have grown up in suburbia or on the streets, there are always reasons to rebel.  For Bob Dylan, it was the dull realities of daily life in a dying mining town in Minnesota that caused him to see music as an escape.  He has described his exhilaration as he tuned his radio in to whatever distant stations he could pick up.  Others, such as Eddie Vedder, found music as a way to channel their emotional reactions to what they experienced and witnessed around them.  Vedder reflected on such experiences from young adulthood as abusive relationships, dysfunctional people, and secrets being kept from him.

2)  Show Your Distaste for Tradition and “The Man”

Once you’ve begun the process of rebelling (and perhaps even winning over the masses), it’s time to stick it to “the Man.”  The Beatles’ history epitomizes this development.  They certainly didn’t go from “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “Happiness is a Warm Gun” overnight, but one thing is certain: the more they rebelled, the more fans flocked to Beatlemania.  Bob Dylan brought a giant light bulb to a press conference, refused to communicate in a straightforward manner with any member of the press, and plugged in — full volume — at the Newport Folk Festival.  The Moody Blues promised they would record a classical album, then turned around and used the studio time alotted to them to record their own original material for Days of Future Passed.  Pearl Jam fought the good fight against the “convenience charges” implimented by Ticketmaster, and Eddie Vedder, after a fan threw a copy of Rolling Stone onstage during a concert, wiped his butt with the magazine, explaining to the crowd that RS printed a cover photo of him without the other members of his band in the shot.  When Trent Reznor tired of record label interference and corporate nonsense, the Nine Inch Nails frontman began releasing his music online — including his 2008 album The Slip — for free.

And the list goes on…

Perhaps the best example of the importance of this step in the successful songwriter’s career is found in the Beach Boys’ decision not to play at the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival.  For the late 1960s and well into the 1970s, they were labeled as “them” instead of “us” by many music fans.  It is arguable that the Beach Boys’ clean cut image that skyrocketed them to success in the early sixties ultimately led to the band’s decline in popularity.  Ah, the irony…

3)  Go Through Rehab

This sounds like a terrible and heartless suggestion to make to you.  Yet, while there are some artists who have not gone through rehab, there are indeed many great musicians and songwriters who have had to face their addictions and other demons at some point in their careers.  Recently, Jeff Tweedy underwent rehabilitation to deal with an addiction to painkillers.  He, like many other artists in the past, was asked what the effect would be on his music.  (I was delighted with his reply — essentially, he said he was feeling better than ever and that his state of mind can only have a positive effect on Wilco’s music.)

Dylan’s 1966 motorcycle crash was asserted by many to be his way of stepping back from the spotlight after a wild tour overseas where he was known to take downers before the acoustic half of his show and then take uppers during the intermission before coming out with the Band.  He was quickly setting a precedent that no individual could survive.  Brian Wilson, of course, withdrew from music and life in general for decades after failing to release SMiLE; it is apparent to anyone who has seen him recently that he still battles with those personal demons.

If not rehab, then every songwriter certainly needs to undergo a period of reflection after a fall from grace.  Take the case of the Barenaked Ladies’ Steven Page, who recently left the band in the aftermath of his cocaine bust.  To read many so-called fans’ scathing rants against him online, you would think you had stepped back into Puritan times.

(Still, I can imagine that he will only be stronger for the experience, and I can’t wait to hear what his next album will be like…)

4)  Have a Family Period

As a songwriter, you may lead the life of a rock star for a matter of years, but eventually everyone has to bring it all back home.  This is the point at which you must find a wife, have one or more kids, and attempt (probably unsuccessfully) to live an ordinary, anonymous life for a while.  The most notable example of this truth is Paul McCartney whose utter failure to accomplish domestic normalcy has been given a name.  It’s called Wings, his band for much of the seventies.  The lineup, much to the chagrin of his earlier fans,  included his wife, Linda.  The lyrical content was often nonsensical enough to make even the most gullible, innocent three year old ask, “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”  And yet this is a rite of passage for all music fans, as well.  We’ve all gone through a Wings phase.  Go on, you can admit it…

The Barenaked Ladies have been in a family phase for years, evidenced most recently by the masterful Snacktime.  Ben Folds briefly indulged in the “normalcy” of family life, recording such simple, touching songs as “Gracie,” but his 2008 album Way to Normal strongly suggests that he’ll be a bachelor for some time to come.  Dylan’s so-called family period lasted from the aforementioned motorcycle crash until about 1974 when he apparently got the itch to tour and record music again.  As he sings in the Planet Waves deep track “Something There Is About You,” “I can say that I’ll be faithful.  I can say it in one sweet, easy breath.  But to you that would be cruelty, and to me, it surely would be death.”

Pretty much speaks for itself…

5)  Um… Continue to Write Songs!

So, after all these steps, phases, and experiences, what’s a songwriter to do?

Continue to write songs, of course!

At this point, you can pretty much choose career paths from a plethora of options.  For instance, you could “find religion” and record a series of records devoted to expressing your spirituality.  You could get more personal and vulnerable by going acoustic for an album, or for that matter, turn to harder rock and roll to showcase your newfound rage over a breakup.  Why not record music for a different genre?  (I would recommend country music, as that seems to be the going trend these days.)  Oh, and don’t forget to release an album exclusively through Wal-Mart, although that’s probably best reserved for a planned reunion or comeback album.  In the meantime, you can always record four non-album tracks per release and split them up, offering one exclusively at iTunes, Target, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart respectively.  It may seem like you’re screwing the fans at the time, but don’t worry; you’ll eventually release a rarities CD that will contain all the non-album tracks.  Put your heart into those non-album tracks now, as there’s nothing more disappointing — and perhaps more predictable — than a sub-par rarities compilation.  Consider it an investment in the future… a future in which you may be writing songs more slowly than ever and yet still be in need of a record to satisfy your contract.

If none of that works, you can take a break from writing for a while to work on covers.  Record a traditional album?  Contribute to a compilation of covers for a famous artist?  Join a supergroup?

The opportunities and options are endless…

Whatever you do, don’t stop caring about what you’re writing and recording, because you’ll always have a fanbase out there that will buy whatever you put out, be it a masterpiece or a recording unworthy of serving even as a paperweight.

So, good luck, and we’re all counting on you!

“You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” (Beatles Cover)

Originally posted 2009-09-28 22:52:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For Beatles chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to my first traditional “video and a post” Laptop Session in weeks!  For the past few posts, I’ve opted to write reviews, but now its back to Beatles cover songs for me!  This was actually a lot of fun, but I don’t get to write as directly and personally as I do in a post like this one.  Thus, I’m back with a guitar, recording my first cover song music video since “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.” Let’s just say it’s good to be “back”!

You’ve probably already noticed that the Laptop Sessions main page has suddenly been filled with “chords & lyrics” posts.  Let me start by explaining these four new additions to the blog.

First, the Beatles chords (for “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”) are obviously meant to accompany this post.  If you enjoy it, then by all means, jump in and start playing it yourself.  Actually, you might want to read the rest of my post before you break out your axe…

So, why the added chords and lyrics?

Well, I’ve been itching to record a cover version of a track from the new Pearl Jam album Backspacer ever since I started listening to it last Sunday.  Specifically, there are two largely acoustic tracks that are very easily translatable into acoustic music videos — namely, “Just Breathe” and “The End.”  The first single, “The Fixer,” is more of a full-band, harder rock affair, but its structure is fairly simple and it is truly a great deal of fun to sing.  I’m still deciding which song to record for my session (anyone care to hazard a guess before next week?).

Now, normally I would wait until next Monday to post the chords, but I’ve been learning/practicing all three and going out of my mind attempting to comprehend how anyone could post the chords and lyrics without having even the slightest idea as to what the correct words are.  This, in fact, is one of the most profoundly aggravating aspects of the decline of CD’s, at least in my mind — people who download digitally do not necessarily get a booklet, and even if they do, do not necessarily take the time to read the liner notes and lyrics.  Has music really become that abundant and easily accessible that we couldn’t care less what the singer is actually saying, or what the album as a whole is actually about?  This is the feeling I get when I surf the web for chords and lyrics.

This is also why I enjoy spending time in CD stores like Newbury Comics or — as I visited today — Exile on Main Street.  It’s a good feeling to see albums that you had forgotten about, never actually seen in person, or perhaps never even heard of before.  I left today with my hands covered in a thin layer of dust, having purchased an album that had collected a considerable amount of that aforementioned dust — the Charlie Sexton Sextet’s Under the Wishing Tree.  (Sexton played with Dylan for a few years, left the band a while back, and just recently rejoined — he was perhaps my favorite guitarist that I’ve seen in Dylan’s band, so I had to check it out.  More to come after I’ve listened more closely to the album…)

After all this posting, I suppose I should actually take a few moments to address the video you’re about to watch…

Following Jeff’s excellent rendition of “Yesterday” last Thumpin’ Thursday, I decided I couldn’t let the Beatles marathon slip away on my watch.  I had been planning to record a Pearl Jam song (as I mentioned earlier), so I opted instead to record a Beatles song that had been sung by Eddie Vedder in a cover version a few years back.  “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” is the third track from the Beatles’ excellent 1965 album Help! — Nicole’s favorite Beatles album.  Thankfully, I was able to borrow her copy of the 2009 remastered version of Help! and ensure that I was more than prepared to record this great song.

The video that follows is a perfect example of what seems like a short, simple song but is in actuality a little gem.  To me, this song exemplifies how the Beatles really aren’t overrated — even with a simple verse-verse-chorus-repeat-fade song, Lennon and McCartney had to throw in some interesting chords and variations.  It’s not simply G or C that you’re hearing — instead, my underworked and not-so-dexterous pinky finger was called into play to make the song sound entirely accurate.  Even as I type, my hand is still recovering from the workout!  Overall, I’m very pleased with how the recording came out, even if my lips ended up a bit dry and thus led to a few flubs during my “vocal flute” solo at the outro.  I hope you can forgive the slight inaccuracies and enjoy this great Lennon/McCartney classic!

Oh, as a quick “P.S.,” I should mention that my review of the 2009 remaster of Let It Be really will be coming eventually.  My internet was a bit screwy last week and I lost all my progress, so I put it aside temporarily.

It’s been a great Yom Kippur (see my Twitter posts above), and although it’s back to school for me tomorrow, I still have another surprise up my sleeve for later this week.  That is, if my internet connection can hold steady…

See you next session!

“Things We Said Today” (The Beatles Cover)

Originally posted 2008-04-03 22:13:45. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome to your Thursday edition of The Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog with me, Jim Fusco! I just reached 100 subscribers and I know it’ll only grow faster from here! I hope you’ll tell your friends about the music blog, too.

Anyway, now to today’s cover song video. Today, I give you another in our series of Beatles cover songs that I’ve loved for a long time, “Things We Said Today”.

Paul McCartney said that this song was about a girlfriend of his he met while in another country. They had such a great time together and made all those crazy young promises of “always waiting for you”, etc. So, he’s singing about remembering the things they said to each other while feeling alone and far away. What a great, heartfelt idea for a song!

One of the things I’ve always liked about “Things We Said Today” is the cool strumming pattern of the A-minor chord that starts the song.  For a song about such a melancholy feeling, the opening chords are so harsh.  Of course, that harsh feeling comes up again in the bridge of the song, where Paul gets a bit rougher with his singing style.  I think the middle-8 is one of the best that Paul McCartney ever wrote.  He flawlessly transitions his voice from sweet and mellow to biting.  It’s very impressive.

I guess the duality in “Things We Said Today” between the verses and middle sections is reflected in the lyrics of the song.  On the surface, you’ll notice that Paul is first saying how they’ve promised to “be the only one” for each other.  But, if you read into it a little bit, you’ll hear what he really means.  He knew, because of the distance between him and the girl he’s talking about, that the promises of “being the only one” were empty and could never be true.  He knew it was only a passing fling.  In the middle section, he says, “And though we may be blind, love is here to stay.”  He’s saying that in a new relationship like that, people tend to overlook obvious challenges like, you know, living thousands of miles away from each other.  And, in the minds of these naive folks that are newly in love, it’ll stay great forever!  Those of us who have been through that situation know the real eventual outcome.

On a funnier note, I had to relocate to my room for this song (good thing I have a Laptop!) because my parakeets would not stop chattering downstairs! But, I’m glad they’re getting along, even if it is to the detriment of my acoustic cover song videos.

I hope you enjoy today’s Beatles acoustic video- I’ll catch you on Sunday with an all-new Beach Boys song!

We have a NEW album out called Homestead’s Revenge (by Masters of the Universe- the band I’m in). You can buy the high quality mp3s or the CD version. Here’s the web address: http://jimfusco.com/albums.html.  PLEASE check it out and let me know what you think!  I hope you all enjoy today’s Session, and REALLY enjoy the new album- it’s two years in the making!