“The Times They Are A-Changin’” (Bob Dylan Acoustic Folk Cover)

Originally posted 2008-11-03 11:42:05. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Never in my life have I felt that this song was more relevant than it is tonight and–especially–tomorrow.  This is Bob Dylan’s classic protest song, “The Times They Are A-Changin.'”  I’ve always appreciated the song, but I don’t think I’ve ever related to it as much as I did tonight as I was recording this music video.  Personally, I have always been more interested in the other songs on Dylan’s album of the same name, such as “Only a Pawn in Their Game” and “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.”  Yet, on the eve of the 2008 Presidential election, I could think of no song more fitting to record than this one.

And, God save me, I will be recording “With God On Their Side” for my Thursday video if McCain wins!  (Just search the lyrics to this song if you’ve missed the reference…).

I’ve tended to stay away from Dylan’s protest songs.  I have a great deal of respect for them, but as Dylan himself, I hate to see him labeled simply as “the voice of a generation.”  I am most interested in his more recent material — for instance, I’m still blown away by the new Bootleg Series release.

But tonight is a special occasion.  As I began practicing this song, I found that (although I haven’t heard or played this song for months and months) all the words came to me easily.  Line after line, verse after verse, this song rings so exceptionally true to me.  It doesn’t take a literary critic to connect lines like the following ones to contemporary society:

“Admit that the water around you has grown…”

“Don’t speak too soon, for the wheel’s still in spin…”

“Come senators, congressmen; please heed the call…”

“Don’t criticize what you can’t understand; your sons and your daughters are beyond your command.  Your old road is rapidly aging…”

“Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand!”

There is indeed a reason why Dylan’s lyrics have been lauded for decades, and this song is one of the many that have stood the test of time.  I hope that you’ll listen to the words and consider their meaning, and then think about “the state of this great nation of ours” (to quote the great Ben Folds) — it’s interesting and not so much of a coincidence that Obama’s campaign calls not only for change, but for “Change we can believe in.”  I haven’t been this hopeful for real change for a good long time!

In fact, I was just flipping through a book I bought before the 2004 elections, as I decided who to vote for.  I did a lot of research, reading that book and deciding between Bush and Kerry.  Looking back, I can’t believe I even hesitated on that particular choice.

This year, I saved the ten bucks I would have spent on a new campaign book, as I didn’t need to do any further research beyond the Presidential debates and subsequent news reports and fact checks, not to mention the SNL skits.

Well, I’m just rambling now, as I’m tired and currently in bed, listening to acoustic Dylan and dreaming of… well, dreaming!  Sleep is good.  Change is also good.  As my super-cool sister reminded me today, how could Obama not win with a catch-phrase like “BA-ROCK the vote!”

Okay; that’s it for me for a few days, but please hurry back to read Jeff’s election night blog post and Jim’s post-election Original Wednesday (I’m anxious to see what appropriate song he’ll choose).  Then, I’ll be back on Thursday.

See you next session!

 

“Wishful Thinking” (Wilco Cover)

Originally posted 2009-01-20 00:35:53. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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!

“Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” (Jim Croce Cover)

Originally posted 2008-10-19 22:19:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to your Sunday, Sunday, Sunday installment of the best acoustic cover song blog on the web today!  After a couple of nineties covers, I’ve decided to go back a bit further… to 1973 with Jim Croce’s “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.”  This is a song that I remember hearing for the first time when my father bought an audio tape (that’s a hint at how long ago it was…) and played it for me, along with “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim,” explaining that he always liked the story in the songs.  I instantly agreed, thinking that the way Croce described Leroy Brown and his lifestyle was really funny and catchy.

I just learned that Jim Croce’s life was sad, though, as he died the same year that this song (considered his biggest single) was released.  I found it really interesting to learn, according to Wikipedia, that he was the third singer/songwriter to score a posthumous #1 single (for “Time in a Bottle”), after Otis Redding and Janis Joplin.  What is even more sad, I think, is that he died in a plane crash.  I’ve got to be honest here — I don’t consider myself a superstitious person, but if I ever get a record contract and any degree of fame, I’m not setting foot on an airplane…

One of the best parts of doing so many Laptop Sessions this year is that I’ve had a chance to learn so much about great singer/songwriters and to remember so many great songs like this one.  Now, you may wonder how I learned this song if I haven’t heard it in so long.  Well, one of the best parts about having over 11,000 tracks available at my fingertips on my iPod is that I have access to a lot of songs that I have forgotten over the years.  In fact, one of my favorite things to do is to set my iPod to shuffle and just wait to see what great music will come up.  Unfortunately, there are just as many if not more not-so-great tracks that come up in search of the great ones…

But, as they say, it’s the journey and not the destination, right?

If you didn’t already, you should read Jim’s post from yesterday.  He pretty much summed up our day that led to an as-usual great performance by Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley, aka the band America.  Not only was the show great, but they are really nice guys.  After the show, they signed autographs and shook hands with the fans.  I got the chance to tell Dewey that, when teaching the Transcendentalism unit in my English class (Emerson and Thoreau, “Nature” and “Walden,” etc…), I used the Here & Now track “Walk in the Woods.”  He seemed interested, as Gerry smiled and said that he’d been thinking about playing that song in concert so they could do the whistling part!  We all laughed, and for a brief moment, it felt like Jim and I had broken the usually solid barrier between fan and artist.  Cool moment.

I have looked forward to their shows ever since the first time Jim took me to go see them several years ago, and I’ve regretted missing any opportunity to see them.  He had initially gotten into the band because of such songs as “Sister Golden Hair.”  As with many bands he’s gotten into, I felt like I was missing out on something and had no choice — I had to get into them too!  My only past experience with them had been their hit single “A Horse With No Name” that I first heard as a kid (where else?) on a seventies tape that my father had.

And so this session comes full circle!  I present to you an acoustic cover of a song my dad played for me as a kid, and not 24 hours after going to a concert by a band that I first heard in my father’s music collection.  I’ll see you again on Wednesday for one of my own songs, track two from my soon-to-be-recorded new album.

See you next session!

For all those around us…a review of Those Around Us

Originally posted 2012-02-13 20:40:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jeff Copperthite:

Wait a minute…who is this?

Why yes it’s Jeff!  I hope you missed me.  I for one have missed my contributions to the web site, but I am back to post a review – a review of Jim Fusco’s incredible album Those Around Us.

As one of many eager fans of Jim Fusco (and as a good friend), I was thrilled as always to hear that he was releasing a new album.  I have been among the people that are privileged enough to have heard the evolution of Jim’s work – from Walkin’ in the Dark to Halfway There.  He went from using a MIDI program to track his music to dedicating space in his own home strictly for the incredible collection of instruments, microphones, recorders, drum sets, and of course his guitars.

So naturally when his CD release party came about for Those Around Us, I was the fifth person to purchase the CD.  I was hoping for a limited edition numbering on it, but that’s ok.  I’ll just get it from his next album Three Quarters There.

I don’t write reviews often, but I’m required to use a set up.  Now for the album review.

Those Around Us is an album that continues to make me say “How does Jim top himself?”  Every time Jim comes out with another collection of his work and recording, he manages to raise his own level in such a stunning way.  Jim has really pulled off an incredible collection of songs that showcase his songwriting ability, sound engineering, and instrumentation.  I always joke with Jim when I listen to a new album “How did you get all those guys to sound like you?”

The starting track is called “Run My Way” and starts off with a soft opening acoustic guitar.  Then in kicks the lead guitar riff, followed by a drum fill.  The album kicks off with this great song with a super catchy chorus.  Jim manages to work in the right effect at all parts of the song – whether it be the phased electric during the verse, or the stereo panned vocal track.  The song even tosses in a whammy bar.  The outro to the song is like the intro – gradually reducing the instrumentation until it’s just the acoustic guitar.  It is a great opening track – something Jim has a knack for.

The next song “Choose Your Words (carefully)” is another equally strong track.  Jim is putting more effort into making his guitar sound stand out, yet work perfectly in the background of his songs.  In this song, everything blends so well.  The chorus of the song stands out a bit more than the rest of the song – not a flaw by any means.  Just like the previous track, very catchy.  I like how the pre-chorus lead guitar changes ever so slightly to lead perfectly into the “You say those words…” line.

“Don’t Give Up” is an interesting track because Jim has made the song sound full, but there are some typical elements missing – again, not a flaw.  Jim uses only one vocal track for this song, and throws in some delayed vocals during the verse.  The chorus is once again quite catchy.  One minor blip is during the instrument break – the song seems to lose its drive.  The chorus in the song is another catchy one as well.  The line “Don’t stop don’t ever give up on me girl” is complemented nicely by the instrumentation.  The 12-string guitar also stands out in this song.

Jim’s first fast track is “Opportunities”.  This song reminds me of another song from Masters of the Universe called “Only a Dream” during the chorus.  The bass in this song really pops to me (as a bassist).  Jim effectively displays his vocal prowess superbly in this song.  He mixes oohs in during the chorus, and double tracks his vocals during most of the song.  The instrument break is absolutely incredible in this song.  It really should be considered a vocal break as it gradually builds to the end.  A really terrific song in the clean-up spot.

“Good Enough” is the next song.  Jim succeeds in having the music blend perfectly with his vocals.  The builds leading into the chorus are spot on.  He lets his voice do most of the work in this song.  The guitar solo is very strong in this song.

Jim typically does not do very many down tempo songs in his albums.  “Chameleon” is very unique in Jim’s repertoire.  The song works so well that it makes me wonder why he hasn’t written other songs in a similar vein.  The xylophone and electric piano make a very solid chorus riff and build into the nice backing vocals.  I love the electric guitar work in this song as well – the offbeat strumming that Jim does make the song work quite well.  The fade out seems a bit quick on the song, however.  I think it would’ve benefited from a good 15-20 seconds in that department.

I think my 2nd favorite song in the album is the next track “Look Around”.  I almost don’t want to write too much about this song.  The vocals work so superbly at all points, the bass punches, the guitar work is incredible, and the percussion pushes the song forward.  Jim manages to work in a guitar slide to a few tracks, and a lap steel guitar to boot – including the guitar solo.  This song is so impressive – a clear standout.

“Anything for Love” is another “fast” song.  I am a big fan of the bass line of this song.  Jim’s vocal work stands out in this song.  The pitch range in the chorus may sound a bit odd at first, but it catches on really quick.  This one you’ll find yourself singing in the car.  The guitars work solidly in the background, but given the vocals, they seem like they’re there simply to let Jim know what notes belong to the backing vocals.  They work very well in the song.  Again, the bass line makes a great hook.

“Helpless” is my favorite song lyric-wise.  As a fellow married man, I share the feeling of the song.  Jim’s vocal work is at it again making beautiful harmonies during the chorus and echoes.  The guitar tracks are wonderfully played – even though at times there’s a lot going on, it works very well.

“In Your Head” is the third “fast” song on the album.  The chorus is catchy and the instrumentation drives the song very well.  In the interlude after the 2nd chorus, there is something about the vocals that seems out of place to me.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it is after the line “up front with me”.  The song’s ending is great, but the way it ends makes it seem like there should be more.  It’s probably the music theorist in me.  It actually works as a great way to lead in the next song, however.

“Follow You Home” is the next song on the album.  This song reminds me most of “classic” Jim – a driven quarter note piano track that is constant in the entire song.  His vocal work is great.  I absolutely love the chorus and the interlude he places in the chorus.  The guitar in the background complements the song quite well.

My favorite song on the album – as has been the case for the last four albums – is again the last track.  Again, everything just works together so well.  Jim’s multitracked lyrics are perfect, as is the electric keyboard that reminds me so much of The Doobie Brothers.  The distorted guitar lead is another great compliment.  I think the catchy outro is what makes the song for me.  Having everything come together and lead the album out just ends the album on such a high note.  This you’ll find yourself singing along to even on the first listen.

To summarize, Those Around Us is an incredible work by Jim Fusco.  How he continues to top himself is an attestation to his ability to improve his own standards and methods.  What amazes me continually is how I say “Wow this album is the best I’ve heard” and then the next one is even better.  Jim has succeeded in what he does best – creating a great rock album that sounds great at any volume with enough hooks and catches to keep you listening to the entire album over and over again.  Jim has really outperformed himself.   You will not be disappointed in this album.

 

—–

If you are curious, my life has treated me well since my last session despite the loss of my Youtube channel.  Due to a variety of copyright flags I was forced to close my account.  Jim can attest to the annoyance that was.  What I will do in the meantime is re-upload some of my old videos and re-publish the pages when I do so.  Hopefully in the future I will begin to post new videos – if my daughter will actually let me do so!

Until then, buy Those Around Us and enjoy it!  My daughter loves it and can sing along to 4 of the songs already.  Maybe Jim will let me cover a song from the album…

Click to go to the Those Around Us page and buy the album for $10 with Free Shipping!