“I Need You” (America Cover)

Originally posted 2011-12-09 00:45:09. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

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!



“Bastard” (Ben Folds Cover)

Originally posted 2012-02-11 12:13:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Tonight’s session, Ben Folds’ “Bastard,” is the opening track to one of the most memorable albums in my collection. Songs For Silverman was released in 2005, a few years after I had really gotten into listening to albums. When I say “gotten into,” I mean that albums quickly became one of the few subjects that truly captured my attention and imagination as a high school senior. As I got into college, I quickly found a slew of new albums that I thought were incredible, ranging from the classics like Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde to new music from Paul McCartney and the Wallflowers. I will always look back at that period of my life and fondly recall how new it all felt.

By 2005, I unwittingly began to fall into the traps that I had scoffed others for, specifically those like the Dylan fans who booed him when he went electric. Was it different? Yes. But, was it amazing music? Absolutely! I couldn’t fathom how close-minded people could be to new music. Unfortunately, two albums that I disliked upon their release — the Wallflowers’ Rebel, Sweetheart and the aforementioned Ben Folds’ Songs For Silverman — I later went on to greatly respect. I had to ask myself, why didn’t I initially fall in love with them?

The answer to this question lies in expectations. I expected Songs For Silverman to be as dynamic a record as Rockin’ The Suburbs, his previous and debut solo release. I expected him to play all the instruments and sing all the harmonies. When I listened to the album, there was a consistent sound throughout each of the tracks. He used a bass player and a drummer to augment his piano. It simply wasn’t what I expected. And to top it off, magazines like Rolling Stone were praising it for being more mature and overall better than Rockin’ The Suburbs, an album that I absolutely loved.

It is for this reason that Songs for Silverman holds a special place on my CD rack — it is an album that I didn’t give a fair chance. Ever since this realization, I have tried to approach each new album for what it is — a new album. It may not be the same or even as good as previous work, but if I give it a chance, I might enjoy it or even find it to be better! I know how much Jim Fusco and my sister, Jaime, love the songs on this album — Jaime didn’t take this CD out of her car for weeks after its release — and I’m glad I finally came around.

Well, I hope this makes up for my lack of post on my “7 8 9” video three days ago; I was just so tired that I couldn’t think straight. And I felt that video spoke for itself; it was amazingly fun to record. With Jim there to add acoustic flairs and background vocals, we knocked it out in a couple takes. We would have recorded some more from our long duet list — about ten or fifteen at this point — but hunger (and the need for ant traps) set in…

I hope you enjoy “Bastard.” You’ll get to hear my embarrassing and mercifully rare falsetto. You’ll get to hear me flub a couple of words noticeable only to the Ben Folds fanatic. You’ll get to see me (most likely) create enemies because I’ve broken Ben Folds’ general no-guitars policy and recorded an acoustic cover song of this song.

See you next session!

“The Way It Is” (Bruce Hornsby Cover)

Originally posted 2008-05-04 19:57:08. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Welcome to your Sunday installment of the Laptop Sessions! Coming on the heels of Number Ones week, I decided to play one of my father’s favorite songs from Bruce Hornsby & the Range, “The Way It Is.” Only after I recorded it did I realize that it, in fact, was a #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week in 1986! So, it appears that I’m subconsciously having a hard time leaving the #1 songs behind…

I remember making mock-radio shows on my stereo when I was in middle school, even before I owned a CD player. I used to make shows for my father to listen to while he was working in the garage, so I wanted to find music that he would enjoy. I spent countless hours with a blank cassette tape in the stereo and switching stations constantly, waiting intently to hear a disc jockey announce that “The Way It Is” would be on next. I finally got a version recorded for my show, but I got to the record button a bit slowly, so a good chunk of the intro was cut off.

I did buy him the Bruce Hornsby greatest hits CD years later, when I finally caught up with technology.

I really love this song for a couple reasons. I love how it’s powered by piano, but sacrifices none of the soloing and backbeat that I value in rock music. I also love how the chorus is built around the G – Fmaj7 – C riff (which I duplicated in only a rudimentary fashion). The song was also a lot of fun to sing!

I should mention that everything that could have possibly interrupted my recording did, in fact, interrupt my recording today. My first take was lost for the incredibly raucous chirping of the birds downstairs. (Yes, that’s right–I wasn’t even on the same floor with them). My second take was lost due to stubbornness, as I refused to close my door and the birds continued to chirp. A later take was lost to the vibrating of my cell phone.

The funniest by far, and certainly the most ironic was when my cell phone alarm went off loudly during a good take — it was the alarm I had set to remind me to record a Laptop Session today!

My most perfect take was lost when I forgot the second to last line of the final verse. But, this one will have to do!

Thanks for watching; I hope you’ll leave a comment for me if you liked the song or have any requests for future songs.

See you next session!



Bruce Hornsby: LIVE IN CONCERT – MGM Grand, Mashantucket, CT (March 27, 2009) – REVIEW

Originally posted 2009-03-28 23:43:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Right off the bat, I have to address how proud I am of myself that I was able to suppress the strong urge to title this concert review “That’s Just the Way It Was.”  As tempting as it was, I’m sure it’s already been used somewhere by someone…

At 8:02 on Friday night at the MGM Grand, only two minutes after the official start time of the concert, Bruce Hornsby appeared unceremoniously by walking out of the shadows, approaching his piano from stage right.  No announcements, no opening band.  (For a moment, I thought this might be a technician coming out for one last equipment inspection – and, if you’ve ever seen America perform, you know how many times it’s possible for a techie to inspect and tune  the guitars!)

As he neared the piano, he surveyed the assortment of papers strewn about the top of his piano.  Notes to himself?  A set list?  Lyrics for the less familiar tunes?

Negative, on all accounts.

Apparently, Hornsby does not work from a setlist.  Instead, he takes in requests from the audience before shows in the form 0f handwritten song titles slipped onto the stage.  His offical website reports, “Yes, it’s true. Bruce does not have a set list for his concerts. He comes up with the set list through requests from the audience. So, if you attend a concert, be sure to carry paper to write your requests on and place them on the stage.”  This is a novel approach, to be certain.  I wanted to participate in the process, but I have only been a “greatest hits” fan.  Aside from that, I would have had to design a paper airplane that was a marvel of physics in order to have my request reach the stage from my seat in the “Parterre” section of the MGM Grand theater, which is French for orchestra seats (and, apparently, English for “far away from the stage, but still technically on the ground level”).

After a brief, positive commentary from Hornsby about the array of requests, he started into the first song.  From the moment his hands touched the keys, it was apparent that he is truly a masterful musician, one of the few that is able to blend intricate classical arrangements into catchy pop/rock, country, and bluesgrass songs.

His first couple selections were played alone, but he was soon joined onstage by the Noise Makers (J.T. Thomas on keyboards, Bobby Read on saxophones (etc.), J.V. Collier on bass, Doug Derryberry on lead guitar, and Sonny Emory on drums).  Soon after, they launched into the first song with which I was familiar.  “Every Little Kiss” was all piano riffs and rock’n roll catchiness.  Well, maybe more adult contemporary than rock, but…

This was the first of several “greatest radio hits” tracks that Hornsby and the Noise Makers performed, much to the delight of my father and I.  Overall, the set list was a diverse collection of the hits, the deep tracks, and covers.  Some were note-for-note replicas of studio versions, such as “The Good Life,” while others were stripped apart and turned inside out, like “The Way It Is.”  There was a definite, if controlled sense of a jam band mentality.  During the final jam of the main set, Hornsby slipped from one song to the next, folding in a couple of high-energy verses from Bob Dylan’s “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry.”  I had begun to tire of the jamming by the end of the show, and this fine touch really brought it all back home for me. (Please send your criticisms of that shameless pun to Chris, care of a comment below…)

At one point, Hornsby left the piano to strap on his accordion and take center stage for two songs.  As he approached the microphone with the new instrument, he commented that he had recently been with Levon Helm.  He introduced the following song by saying that this would please those in the crowd who enjoyed nostalgia, as this was a track from the band — namely, “Evangelne.”  The version did not disappoint and proved further that Hornsby is nothing if not an excellent multi-instrumentalist.

Hornsby was a personable, likable figure onstage.  In between songs, he kept a running commentary going, reflecting on the state of the economy and thanking everyone for coming out to see him perform all the same.  Early on, he revealed that Foxwoods management had told him to play for only 65 minutes.  Just over an hour for some who had paid $50 plus a “convenience” charge — that’s outrageous!  In his very laid-back manner, he said about as much and said they would stretch it to 90 minutes or so.  It sounded as if they told him that 65 minutes was the suggestion and 90 minutes was the outside limit.  He was true to his word, as the main set took the show’s running time to just over an hour and a half plus an encore.

Later on in the show, he expressed how happy he was that he remembered all the words to a track from his first album, a song that he played by request.

On the whole, this was a truly enjoyable concert.  I have an increased respect for Hornsby’s abilities as a pianist and performer, the Noise Makers were a flexible and vastly talented group, and the MGM Grand is a comfortable environment with excellent acoustics.  For my taste, there was too much of a jam band mentality on many of the selections — even Hornsby commented at one point that, due to the time limitations, the songs would be shorter than usual.  Maybe that’s not a bad thing, he said.  He continued, “There’s a fine line between self-expression and self-indulgence,” glancing with a grin to his bandmates.  I couldn’t agree more.

This concert was a bonding experience of sorts for me, as my father is a longtime fan of Hornsby and an even longer-time fan of the song “The Way It Is.”  While we both enjoyed the show, the low point of the show was indisputably their performance of the aforementioned hit single.  Aside from the initial keyboard blast of the familiar riff, the song was given a new, more jumpy tempo and the tune was stripped apart into an understated sequence of lines.  There was none of the charm of the studio version, and all biases being admitted, this version was nothing to brag about on its own.  For those five minutes, I appreciated what it must be like to attend a Dylan concert expecting to hear faithful versions of his hits, only to be met with deep tracks and rearranged versions.  Still, I maintain that the Dylan live experience offers up new and interesting, entertaining takes on his songs, whereas this was disappointing from all angles.

Regardless, the show as a whole was well worth the $35, and is an experience that I will remember fondly for years to come.  Part of that comes out of a bias, but this time a positive one!