“Friend of the Devil” (Grateful Dead Cover)

Originally posted 2010-02-11 00:10:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Well, as promised, I’m back with your Wednesday edition of Jim Fusco Tuesdays!  Don’t understand that?  Then you should be visiting the blog more often! :-)  Tuesdays are my usual day to post, but unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera last night, so I had to put-off doing the video until today.  I also recorded another video for next week that you’re going to LOVE.  It’s from a guy you probably haven’t heard of, but he’s new to the blog and he’s a well-respected musician.  I guess you’ll have to wait in suspense until then!

I can’t believe it- this blog has been up for well over two years and there hasn’t been a Grateful Dead song done yet!  Late last year, I decided that I wanted to learn more about the Grateful Dead.  Back in high school and early college, I used to work at the now defunct Cheshire Video and Disc (a local video store).  I used to work with this hippy girl named Karen.  She was cool- we used to work on Sunday mornings together and always had a nice time.  She used to play this Grateful Dead VHS tape during our shift every week.  It was from the 80’s.  It was a trippy kind of concert- crazy 80’s video effects and extended drum solos.  But, I really enjoyed the songs.

Fast-forward about seven years to the present-day.  I finally got my Grateful Dead “Best Of” for Christmas from my mother in law and I was so excited to play it for the first time.  My boss had re-ignited my interest for the band, as he put a few of their songs on a mix CD for me.  So, I got the CD and played it at work for the first time.  I LOVED IT!!

It’s 17 songs and, believe me, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better overall “Best Of”.  It has all of my favorite elements: harmonies, good guitar, everyone plays their own instruments, and (my personal favorite) multiple band members writing songs!!  Actually, my favorite song on the whole “Best Of” CD (which I will definitely cover in the future) is “Box Of Rain”, written by bassist Phil Lesh.  (On another note, I hear he and former Dead member Bob Weir are now touring as “Furthur”, but the show in my hometown of Wallingford, CT is SOLD OUT!  Grrr….)

Anyway, there are so many great songs on this disc- from the ones you’ve heard of (and probably didn’t know they did them) like “Truckin'”, “Casey Jones”,  and “Touch of Grey” to the ones that you haven’t heard of yet, this is a top-to-bottom rare “Best Of” find.  The last times I felt this great about a “Best Of” was when I purchased the America and Doobie Brothers’ discs.  So, what I’m saying is, if you haven’t purchased the Grateful Dead “Best Of” (the one with 17 tracks- NOT the cheap 10-track version), then you should really give it a try.

Tonight’s song is “Friend of the Devil”.  At first, this wasn’t one of my favorites, but it’s catchy and the story is pretty cool, so it grew on me quickly.  I love singing it in that Jerry Garcia drawl.  Plus, this was an easy one to convert to acoustic.  Most of their songs aren’t so easy because of their great harmonies.  I’ve wanted to do so many of their songs, but it just won’t sound right without someone else singing with me (who knows the song really well, too).

So, whatever idea you had of the Dead (I thought it was just a stupid stoner band that jammed nonsensical songs for hours on end…which may be true for the live sets, as I’ve heard), throw it away!  They’re a tight band that last quite a while and came up with some great songs.  And now I’m even more excited that I can build my vinyl record collection with some of their interesting albums, such as their lone 60’s record (from 1967, which I’m INCREDIBLY interested in hearing) and their all-time classic from 1970, American Beauty.

Enjoy tonight’s LSHD video and make sure to come back next week for my newest obsession in music!



“Ding Dong Ding Dong” (George Harrison Cover) : Jim Fusco’s 200th Video!

Originally posted 2010-01-06 03:06:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

And a Happy New Year to you- I’m Jim Fusco back for another year of the Laptop Sessions.  I’m also back with Number 200!  That’s right, tonight’s video is my 200th and it kicks off a brand new year of great acoustic cover song music videos here on the most popular music blog that isn’t corporately-owned…well, I can’t substantiate that claim… :-)

Anyway, I figured I’d kick the New Year and new decade off right with a New Year’s song in “Ding Dong Ding Dong”, a hit single off of George Harrison’s Dark Horse album.  If you’ve heard the original version of this song, you probably wondered why George’s voice sounded so raw and raspy.  No, he wasn’t taking vocal cues from his pal (and future Traveling Wilburys member) Bob Dylan.  He was actually suffering from a terrible break-up when his wife ran off with his best friend, Eric Clapton.  It forced the two friends to not speak for a long time (yes, significant others can change people and break friends apart, that’s for sure), but eventually they reconciled…once she and Eric broke up, too!  That’s a fairytale friendship story if I ever heard one.

The title track from Dark Horse also features George’s gravelly vocals and it’s actually a nice tool he uses well on these somewhat bitter songs.  I mean, George was always one to write songs against the “establishment” (like “Taxman”, “Not Guilty”, and “Devil’s Radio”), but this time, it was a more personal fight.  One can only think that “ringing out the old and bringing in the new” has to be correlated to his estranged wife leaving the picture.

And, in the end, George ended up finding his real soulmate in Olivia Harrison, whom he was with until the end and continues to preserve George’s legacy to this day.  Now there’s a woman who really appreciated and “got” him.  So, it all worked out.  I guess sometimes a broken heart is just an opportunity to find something (or someone) better!

I’ve always considered this a Christmas song- remember my post from a few weeks ago about my father’s famed Christmas Compilation tapes?  Well, this song was on it.  And even though it’s loosely based on the New Year and it’s idea of “starting anew”, it’s really not a Christmas song at all.  But, you’ll still never find me listening to “Ding Dong Ding Dong” from January through October!

I’ve already recorded a video for next week- I was on a bit of a roll tonight.  I could’ve done more, but work is really driving me into the ground lately.  So, hopefully I’ll get more gusto in two weeks to record some more videos.  My list is ever-growing.  I have a great forgotten 60’s song lined-up, but next week’s video is a late-90’s Top 10 Billboard hit that is officially the song played most on the radio- it spent 18 weeks at Number One on the Billboard Airplay charts.  That’s the most for any song- ever!

And I can’t believe we haven’t covered it.  My only thought is that I’m the only one here that can sing the chorus, so I’m glad I finally got around to it.  Look for some new bands to come in the near future, as well- it’s going to be another productive year of great cover song music videos…if I can find the time and energy to keep up with it week after week.  Until next week, enjoy “Ding Dong Ding Dong” in LSHD (Laptop Sessions High Definition)!



“Heaven” (Brett Dennen Cover Version)

Originally posted 2010-02-17 02:27:46. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Hi folks!  Welcome to another Jim Fusco Tuesday!  This was one of those weeks where, after such a great long weekend, I truly dreaded the four-day week ahead.  I have two immediate video programs to edit, a whole bunch of PSA’s, an audio mastering project, and multiple projects looming around the corner… And that’s all stuff I have to do AFTER a crazy day at work!  I feel myself getting a better handle on things at work, but it’s still a struggle on a daily basis, as I’m constantly trying to dig out of a growing hole.  It’ll get better, but it’s just these weeks when everything piles up that I get a bit nervous.  Becky’s been helping (bringing me coffee and snacks, plus trying to keep me to a schedule), so it’s definitely hurt less than it should’ve.

Anyway, onto tonight’s video:

I’ve been churning out the new artists to the blog lately (and ones you might even have heard of, by the way), but tonight I might break that mold a bit.  I had never heard of Brett Dennen before, but my boss kept telling me about him after he heard Dennen’s music on Last.fm, a music service on Xbox 360.  Anyway, he burned me a copy of Brett’s songs (don’t worry, Brett- I bought the LP version of “Hope for the Hopeless” afterward and so did my brother!).  But, even though he kept asking me about it, I didn’t put the CD in because I was still hooked on the Grateful Dead!  So, about four weeks ago now, I popped Brett’s “Hope for the Hopeless” album in and completely fell in love with the music.

The man is simply a good songwriter.  His songs are not overly complicated (which I LOVE)- he uses some pretty simple chords in some songs (and some cool inversions in others, too) and the songs are short and sweet.  The songs pretty much follow the verse-bridge-chorus model and there’s one or two guitar solos spattered throughout the album.  It’s a short one with only 11 songs, but I don’t care- the quality definitely makes up for the quantity.

Dennen’s two previous releases before “Hope for the Hopeless” had the feel of Jack Johnson’s first album- sparsely produced to its detriment.  Yes, there are good songs, but I need a little more than an acoustic guitar to make me love an album.  “Hope for the Hopeless” is different.  It’s almost like he got signed to a label that gave him some more money to produce an album.  The result is amazing- I just love the production on this disc.  You won’t find a lot of harmonies here and the instruments are no-frills.  Mostly, you have an acoustic, an electric, bass, piano/organ, and drums.  That’s a perfect mix for me.  What’s great about this album, and I plan on trying with my next album, is that there really is no rhythm guitar.  The guitar only plays what it needs to.  So, the music sounds open, but not lacking.  You’ll just have to listen to get what I’m saying.

I could’ve picked any of the 11 songs from “Hope for the Hopeless” to cover.  My favorites are “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Make You Crazy”, but I chose “Heaven” because it’s just one of those “perfect” songs.  It has such a message- kind of like “Imagine” by John Lennon.  This song, according to Dennen fans, will stand as his masterpiece.  On the recording, I challenge you not to get chills once the band comes in at the start of the second chorus.  It’s AWESOME!

So, I decided to record my version of this song just acoustically, though I’ve been playing it on the piano recently, as well.  “Heaven” is a great song to sing by yourself, as it only has one vocal in the album version anyway (the single version suffers from a female lead vocal in the second verse- I much prefer the album version and I’m glad he did it that way).

One thing about Dennen- when you hear his songs, you’ll notice his…let’s say “accent”.  I’m not really sure what it is.  It sounds Louisianan to me.  At first, I really didn’t like it.  But, if you get past the way he says certain words (like instead of “trouble”, he says, “trugh-bowl”), you’ll really like these songs.  And now, I even like the way he says those words, because I can tell he’s not doing it on purpose (just to sound different)- it’s just the way he talks/sings.

On a side note, check out one of my new favorite tunes, “Make You Crazy”, on YouTube- the music video is pretty cool.

Now, I had a feeling I’d heard of Brett Dennen before.  I mean, that voice is so unmistakable.  Becky and I both agree that we’ve heard his most “famous” song, “Ain’t No Reason” (not one of my favorites and if you heard it and know my musical tastes, you’ll understand why).  We must’ve heard it in a TV show.  Then, my brother Mike ended up knowing (and loving) “Make You Crazy”, too, from his days working at Hollister, where they played the song on a daily basis.

Okay, enough talk- time to watch the LSHD version of “Heaven” performed by me, Jim Fusco!  I’d love to hear your thoughts about the song, my performance, and Brett Dennen.  I hope you have a great week and make sure to stop back next Tuesday for another acoustic cover song.  I plan on it being a classic early 60’s tune that Becky and I heard in the car while on our way to Albany, NY for our weekend trip.  We had a blast- check my Twitter (jimfusco) for all the updates and photos from the road!  Until next week!



“Up From Under” (Wallflowers Cover)

Originally posted 2010-02-19 12:31:02. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Ryan V:

Cover of “Up from Under” by the Wallflowers.  I did this with a freeware webcam recorder – sorry about that…  Thus the audio and video are kinda crappy, plus that annoying watermark.  But the vocals/guitar is all me, just a bit delayed.

** EDITOR’S NOTE: **

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s extend a warm welcome to the latest addition to the Guest Sessions team of performers… Ryan!

Ryan’s choice is an excellent one for an acoustic cover song.  In fact, after all the Breach covers that Jeff Copperthite and I have done over the years (“Sleepwalker,” “Hand Me Down,” “I’ve Been Delivered”), we’ve somehow managed to miss this little gem.  Breach really is an underrated album with a wide selection of beautiful songs, and Dylan and company strike a perfect balance between electric and acoustic work.

As Ryan points out above, the quality lags a bit on this music video.  Still, I think you’ll find it to be a solid, faithful cover version with some great fingerpicking.  He’s been watching the Laptop Sessions for some time, and I’m proud to welcome him to the blog via this performance. Seeing as how we were less than ten days away from the one year anniversary of our last Wallflowers post (Jeff’s February 27, 2009 cover of “I’ve Been Delivered”), we thank Ryan for sending this in just in time…

Here’s to many more great cover song music videos!