“Sister Golden Hair” (America Cover)

By Jim Fusco:

I’m pretty excited today, as I give you a new band to the Laptop Sessions: America!

I got into this band because of today’s cover song, Sister Golden Hair.  I used to hear it on the radio many times growing up and decided that it would be perfect for a cover song.  I’ve now seen the band America in concert at least ten times, meeting them and getting their autographs on many occasions. They’re great guys and that only helped make them one of my favorite bands.

Jim and Chris with the band America.

I love their album “Homecoming” and will be doing most of the songs off it in the future. But, for now, I give you the tune that started it all for me. Once I found out that this song was from the same guys that did “Horse With No Name”, I had to get the “Best Of” CD. After that, I scoured CT (this was before eBay was huge) for any America CDs I could find. I even bought some of the LPs. The band was surprised to see such a young guy asking to get those signed.  My gravitation towards America was probably due to the fact that I could tell they were influenced by the Beach Boys- their harmonies and melodic songs drew me in.  And, they put a classic rock spin on things- kind of like Crosby, Stills, and Nash, but even more mellow.

“Sister Golden Hair” is really one of my favorite songs.  The chorus is so catchy, but Gerry Beckley (the singer and songwriter for this song) didn’t stop there- he began the song with a great acoustic guitar part and some really cool slide guitar.  One of the reasons why the original recording of “Sister Golden Hair” sounds so good is because Beatles producer George Martin actually produced it!  Yes, that’s right- he even produced a few other albums for America in the mid 70s.  The first song he produced for them was the big hit “Tin Man”.

America had two #1 Billboard hits- “A Horse With No Name” and “Sister Golden Hair”.  It’s a shame they didn’t have a third, because then each member would’ve had their shot at having a Number One Hit.  “A Horse With No Name” was written by Dewey Bunnell, but original member Dan Peek (left in the late 70s, but is now deceased) never got a song up to Number One.  He did have a popular song, though, in “Lonely People”, which is instantly recognizable.  So, I guess all of the band members had their chances to shine.

Like many of my acoustic cover song videos, I’m using my nylon string guitar here.  Sure, it doesn’t sound exactly like the original, but I thought it allowed me to sing over the guitar without shouting.  On the verses, I found that I needed a softer sounding guitar because the tone is so “conversational” and not soaring above the music (like a Beach Boys song would be, for instance).

I hope you all enjoy this America acoustic cover song- truly one of my favorites. Stay tuned for more cover song music videos from the musicians here at the Laptop Sessions video blog!


A Christmas Music Catalog – Playlists on Parade

By Chris Moore:

There’s a LOT of Christmas music.

As is to be expected, some is excellent, some is terrible, and much of it is mediocre.  Over the years, in a variety of formats, I’ve been exposed to a lot of Christmas music.  This year, I assembled all the songs that have survived over the years, and I’ve created a 340 song playlist for your perusal below.  This master list has served as the source from which I derived my “Christmas, Volumes 1-3” playlists the past several weeks.

I’m sure I’m missing some tunes here that are very meaningful to you, so I encourage you to comment below to recommend any tracks I should seek out for a listen.

From our blog to you, I wish you the merriest of Christmases and a happy new year!

CHRIS’ CHRISTMAS MUSIC CATALOG:

Alvin & the Chipmunks:             “Christmas Don’t Be Late,” “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”

America:                                     Holiday Harmony

Band Aid:                                    “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

Barenaked Ladies:                         Barenaked for the Holidays

The Beach Boys:                        Ultimate Christmas

The Beatles:                                     “Christmas Time is Here Again,” “Everywhere It’s Christmas”

The Bee Gees:                         “Holiday”

Ben Folds:                                    “Lonely Christmas Eve”

Bing Crosby:                                    “Mele Kalikimaka,” “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays,” “White Christmas”

Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans,

the Crystals, Darlene Love,

the Ronettes, & Phil Spector:  A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector

Bob Dylan:                                    Christmas in the Heart

Bobby Helms:                         “The Bell That Couldn’t Jingle”

Bobby Helms, The Brian

Setzer Orchestra, Charles

Brown, Clarence Carter,

Nat King Cole, Darlene Love,

Johnny Mathis, David Newman,

Lou Rawls:                                     The Jingle All the Way Soundtrack

Brenda Lee:                                     “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” “Papa Noel”

The Brian Setzer Orchestra:             Boogie Woogie Christmas

Brian Wilson:                                     What I Really Want for Christmas, “White Christmas,” “Little Saint Nick” (Web Version)

Burl Ives:                                     “Holly Jolly Christmas”

The Carpenters:                         “The Christmas Song,” “Merry Christmas Darling”

Chicago:                                     Christmas: What’s It Gonna Be, Santa?

Chris Moore:                                     “Christmas From Now On,” “Feliz Navidad” (with Jim Fusco & Dana Camp), “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” “Green Christmas” (with Jim Fusco), “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Moment,” “Must Be Santa,” “The New Year,” “A Winter’s Tale”

Chris, Jim, & Mike:                         Our Christmas Gift to You

Chuck Berry:                                     “Run Rudolph Run”

Copeland:                                     “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

Death Cab for Cutie:                         “Christmas”

The Drifters:                                     “White Christmas”

The Eagles:                                     “Please Come Home for Christmas”

Eartha Kitt:                                    “Santa Baby”

Eisley:                                     “The Winter Song”

Elmo & Patsy:                         “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” “Percy the Puny Poinsettia”

Elton John:                                     “Step Into Christmas”

Elvis Presley:                                    If Every Day Was Like Christmas

Emerson, Lake, & Palmer:             “I Believe in Father Christmas”

The Fold:                                     “Oh Holy Night”

Fountains of Wayne:                         “I Want an Alien for Christmas”

Frank Sinatra:                                     “I Believe”

Gene Autry:                                     “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)”

George Harrison:                         “My Sweet Lord,” “Ding Dong Ding Dong”

The Harry Simeone Chorale:             “The Little Drummer Boy”

Hawk Nelson:                                     “Last Christmas”

Ingrid Michaelson:                         “Winter Song,” “Snowfall”

Jack Johnson:                                     “Someday at Christmas”

Jeff Foskett:                                     “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day”

Jethro Tull:                                     “Ring Out Solstice Bells”

Joe Pesci:                                     “If It Doesn’t Snow for Christmas”

John Lennon:                                     “Happy Xmas (War is Over),” “Happy Christmas & Give Peace a Chance”

Johnny Cash:                                     Classic Christmas

Jose Feliciano:                         “Feliz Navidad”

Joy Electric:                                     “What Child is This?”

Judy Garland:                                     “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

Lady Gaga:                                     “Christmas Tree”

Mae:                                                 “Carol of the Bells”

The Magnetic Fields:                         “Everything is One Big Christmas Tree”

Mavis Staples:                         “Christmas Vacation”

The Moody Blues:                         December, “Another Morning,” “Eyes of a Child,” “What Child is This?”

The Moonglows:                         “Hey Santa Claus”

MoU:                                                 MoU Holiday Party 2006

Nat King Cole:                         “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “The Little Boy Santa Claus Forgot”

NewSong:                                     “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

The Orioles:                                     “Crying in the Chapel”

Paul McCartney:                         “Wonderful Christmastime”

The Percy Faith Orchestra:             “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”

Ray Charles:                                     “What Child is This?”

Relient K:                                     Let it Snow Baby… Let it Reindeer

Ringo Starr:                                     I Wanna Be Santa Claus

Roger Whittaker:                         “Ding Dong Merrily on High”

Roy Orbison:                                     “Pretty Paper”

The Royal Guardsmen:             “Christmas Bells”

Simon & Garfunkel:                         “Seven O’Clock News/Silent Night”

Smashing Pumpkins:                         “Christmastime”

Spike Jonze:                                     “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth”

Starflyer 59:                                     “Christmas Time is Here”

Stevie Wonder:                         “Someday at Christmas”

The Temptations:                         “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: “Christmas All Over Again”

Weezer:                                     Christmas with Weezer

Wham!:                                     “Last Christmas”

The Who:                                     “Christmas”

The Wilsons:                                     “Hey Santa!”

“Last Kiss” (Wayne Cochran Cover)

By Jeff Copperthite:

Welcome to Tremendous Tuesday!  It’s so good, it’s “like a potential delay or closing tomorrow because of inclement weather” good.

Today I continue my romp of classic songs that have been covered more recently.  Chances are you’ll think that Pearl Jam is the composer of the song “Last Kiss”, but if you do your research you’ll know it is a cover of a song that’s over 40 years old!  It was actually written by Wayne Cochran, but he didn’t get a lot of publicity for the song.  It took his song being covered a few times for the song to be successful.

This is among the easiest songs one can learn to play.  I remember teaching this to one of my friends’ cousins at a guitar lesson.  If you can play a G, Em, C, D progression, then congratulations you can wham out this song!

I had an incredibly busy day today, so i’m going to keep this brief.  But short posts doesn’t mean a subpar video!  The video itself came out well, and my voice “naturally” scratched during the higher notes, and it is really effective for this song that it happened.  I think it is still an after effect of my voice still recovering from last week.

But Jim “Like an entire Christmas Village playing the same thing at once in their minature houses so it comes out peaceful and awesome” Fusco will be supplying us with an original tune tomorrow.  I have a hunch at what it could be (if he hasn’t played it already), but chances are it will be a song I haven’t heard yet.

See you then!

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!

“Wishful Thinking” (Wilco Cover)

For Wilco chords, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

Welcome back for another installment of “Chris Moore Monday” here at the Laptop Sessions.  I’m excited to bring you another installment in my little Wilco project.  I decided a couple months ago that I would like to record one song from each of their albums — since there are six, I figured that would be a reasonable goal.

I’ve already recorded from their first album (“Box of Letters” from A.M.), third album (“How to Fight Loneliness” from Summerteeth), fourth album (“I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot), and now I’m happy to present “Wishful Thinking,” a track from their fifth album, A Ghost is Born.

This album took me a little time to get into, but once I did, I really grew to love the songs.  There aren’t really any songs on the album that stand out as single-worthy; in fact, I don’t believe they even released a single.  But, as you become more and more familiar with the songs, you begin to pick up on the subtle nuances in both the instrumentation and the vocals.  Considering the album’s twelve tracks, I thought this one would work best as a solo acoustic number.  In addition, I think the vocals are a particularly good match for my range and style, so I’m always excited when that happens…

Although I chose this song, my instant favorite track on the album was “Company In My Back.”  I didn’t even know what that meant at first, but I loved the song, so I had to do some research so I could fully understand what I was singing along to!  I may yet record that track (coincidentally the song that follows “Wishful Thinking”) for a future “Members Only” video or a surprise non-Monday video.  After all, with so many great bands and songs that we haven’t covered, I don’t feel like I can spend too much time on any one artist, even if they’re one of my favorites…

So, I’ll hold myself back from recording my final two Wilco songs of this little “project” at least for a while.  I did finally buy the second Wilco studio album today with a Best Buy gift card from Christmas.  That was exciting, if a bit sad, since that’s the final gap in my Wilco collection.  But, it’s a double album, so it’s a sizeable gap and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.  I’ve only had time to listen to the first disc, and I was distracted for part of it, so I think I’ll put it on as I get ready for bed.

I should share that the second CD I bought with the gift card today is Warren Zevon’s 1991 album Mr. Bad Example.  Apparently, this is the “Encore: Back in Print Imprint” version.  If I recall properly, this album was such a flop when it came out that it went out of print until recently.  I couldn’t be more excited, as my second favorite Zevon album of all time is The Envoy, his eighties album that was so poorly received that his record label dropped him.  And I love that one!  What a shame.

On a personal note, outside of my DVD player temporarily going haywire last night, I had a really relaxing weekend.  For those of you who don’t teach and/or have work that you bring home, that’s also code for “I didn’t really get much work done.”  Oh, well.  The week will begin soon enough, and as good ole T.S. Eliot wrote, “There will be time.  There will be time.”  I hope so, because I’m going into midterms with a slightly larger pile of work than I hoped for and my BEST portfolio on the horizon…

Oh, and I almost forgot.  If you haven’t already, you should check out my review of Meade Skelton’s new single “My Loudoun County Home,” which I posted yesterday.  Jim and I are quite excited to have our music reviews section expanding, so go ahead and read them all!  Or, if you don’t have time for that, then just get yourself back here tomorrow night for another awesome “Jim Fusco Tuesday.”

See you next session!