“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!

“Jane” (Ben Folds Five Cover)

Originally posted 2008-02-29 18:18:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jeff Copperthite:

Welcome to your Fabulous Friday edition of The Laptop Sessions, and I am proud to bring you a session that I’ve been waiting to do for a while.

This session is “Jane” from Ben Folds Five’s last album “The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner”. I last did a song from this band as my 2nd Laptop Session – “Emaline”. That session is close to 1,000 views, so I thought this would be a good time to do another from Ben Folds Five.

Not only that, but for this video I kept my guitar on the stand, and performed it on my keyboard.

I think this version came out quite well, although I did have a bit of a “crack” in the chorus as I changed to falsetto. Ben Folds has an incredible vocal range that is just slightly out of reach to my voice. Other than that, I think that this video is a great one (it better be after 23 takes).

Oh, and I should break 4K views over the weekend! Thank you everyone for making the Laptop Sessions so popular!

I hope you enjoy “Jane”!

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!

“The Long and Winding Road” (The Beatles piano cover song)

Originally posted 2010-04-22 23:14:53. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome to another episode of The Laptop Sessions with me, Jim Fusco!  I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since my last video- the time is flying lately.  Now that things are coming along nicely with the new house (driveway is in and the grass is looking better), I hope to start enjoying everything a bit more soon.

Today is a record-breaking day here on the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog.  Today, the site got it’s highest view count EVER: over 5,600 hits and still counting!  Yes, most of these hits were to the homepage, which is great.  But, the part I’m very excited about is the fact that close to 200 of those hits have been to “deep” pages on the site (past posts, etc.)!  That’s a pretty big deal, especially considering that just a couple months ago, the site was getting only about 200 views a day- total!  So, the promotion I’ve been doing seems to be working nicely.

Now, you would think that, after last week’s article, I would be playing on my new Martin MMV guitar tonight.  But, some sad circumstances lead me to this new video- the first in a long time on the piano.

“The Long and Winding Road” is a song by the Beatles that everyone knows.  It’s one of those songs that you hear in a restaurant, a department store, and the radio from time to time.  It’s a great Paul McCartney song that appeared on the “Let It Be” LP, but I personally like the one on “Let It Be…Naked” better.  Even though I found the chords with the words “Capo on 1st fret” above them, I transposed the chords to piano on the fly and let this one rip.  As with most Laptop Sessions cover songs I do, it’s SO much easier when I already know the words by heart.  Chords are easy to remember because they’re logical- for instance, if the sound goes up (in pitch), then chances are the chord goes up (in pitch).  So, I almost always instantly remember the chords.  But, when you have to think about lyrics, things get difficult.

Tonight, I dedicate this cover song music video to my good friend and colleague, Diane.  For the past year and a half, she’s been my SAVIOR at work.  She works down at the warehouse our company uses and is always so helpful.  She’ll get anything done instantly- she’s truly the best.  She’s made my life so much easier over the time I’ve been with the company.  Plus, we’ve come to have countless conversations over the phone and we’ve always had a great relationship.  It’s even possible that we’re distantly related!  We’ve been out for drinks after work on a few occasions, as well, and we always have a great time.

But, unfortunately, the higher-ups at my company decided to move to a different warehouse.  I understand- business is business.  But, I know I’m not the only one that’s going to miss Diane terribly- she’s that valuable to my working life.  Hey, maybe she’ll want to move to Florida and work at the new place! :-)

Anyway, months ago, she requested “The Long and Winding Road” by the Beatles as a Laptop Session after she began watching my videos.  She waited patiently for a long time.  But, Steve (of the Traveling Acai Berries) was very, very busy and we couldn’t find the time to get-together and play this song on camera.  The goal was to bring Steve’s electric piano in, too.

So, when I heard the news about Diane no longer working with me, I knew I had to record “The Long and Winding Road” for her.  Now that I have Becky’s piano in the house, it was easy to set everything up and record one of my more unique videos.  I think it came out great (especially the way I got the audio to record) and I hope it will make Diane realize how much I’ll miss her.  Plus, what a perfect song (subject matter) for the occasion.

Thanks for stopping-by for this edition of the Laptop Sessions in HD with Jim Fusco.  Stay tuned for a special “26th Birthday” post by me next Thursday night and then two weeks from now, I’ll be back with my first cover song music video on my new Martin MMV acoustic guitar.  Have a great week and enjoy “The Long and Winding Road”, one of our many Beatles cover songs!