“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!

“Will It Grow” (Jakob Dylan Cover)

Originally posted 2010-03-15 19:24:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For Jakob Dylan chords & lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

I hope you enjoy seeing me with hair tonight, because as of Wednesday evening, it’s gone!  That’s right — I’ve decided to shave it all off.  Well, maybe “decided” is a strong word.  One of my colleagues, one who offered a great deal of useful advice during my first year teaching, asked me if I would join an English department team for this year’s “St. Baldrick’s” event.  I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to join in with my fellow English teachers, and as you may know, it isn’t all that often that someone asks me to join a team!  So, off goes the hair in the name of raising money to fight children’s cancer.  I’m currently at the bottom of the list of fundraisers on my team (listed online as $0, although I have raised about $65 from staff and students at school that will be added tomorrow).

If you’re interested in supporting this excellent cause, just CLICK HERE!

So, you may be wondering: what does this have to do with the Laptop Sessions?  Well, the answer should be clear if you read the title of my song choice tonight.  I thought “Will It Grow” would be a fitting question to ask on the eve of my head being shaved.  Of course, Jakob Dylan isn’t referring to hair, but I was able to add a bit more emotion to my interpretation of this track all the same.

“Will It Grow” was released in 2008 on Dylan’s solo album Seeing Things.  Since Jeff recorded “Something Good This Way Comes” prior to its release, I never felt the need to record a track from the album.  To be honest, I wasn’t as impressed with this album as I could have been.  Of all people, I should be able to appreciate a set of good acoustic performances.  That being said, it’s difficult to listen to an all-acoustic album from the front man for the Wallflowers — they’re such an incredible rock band!

Now, almost two years removed, I came back to Seeing Things by chance and thought it was a shame that I had never covered one of the tracks.  Not surprisingly, I found a set of chords online riddled with errors and transcribed for a capo.  I love capos as much as the next guy — and probably more! — but if it’s not necessary, I can’t see a good reason to use the capo.  Thus, I posted the chords here at the Laptop Sessions for those interested in a more straightforward, accurate description of how to play the song.  I can certainly understand how the errors may have been made, as I found it a bit difficult to pick up all the chord changes over the intricate fingerpicking.  Eventually though, I think I came to a fairly solid version of what Dylan originally intended.  I hope so — Jakob Dylan is one of my all-time favorite songwriters, so I took it very seriously.

In other Laptop Sessions news, I recently went through all the music reviews I posted previous to “The Weekend Review” series and added a rating out of five stars.  Why did I take the time to do this?  Well, initially I felt that ratings were arbitrary and that I really wasn’t qualified to make those sorts of judgments on music.  After all, I wouldn’t want someone assigning a low rating to the music I poured my heart into.  Still, the more I’ve been thinking about it, the more I realize how important the rating is to the review as a whole.  After all, half the fun of reading reviews is agreeing or disagreeing with the author’s rating.  Thus, how can I deny my readers (however few of them there are ;- ) the opportunity to think I’m right on, far off, or somewhere in between?  It was fun going back to these albums; most reviews I wrote before the Weekend Review were based on albums I loved, so that didn’t hurt.  And it reminded me of how much I enjoy holding to a weekly writing schedule.  It may be difficult at the time to carve out an hour or so on a Sunday to write, but it gives me a good reason to skim through my CD rack on Friday or Saturday to choose an album to listen to throughout the weekend.

Other than shaving my head, this week should be pretty normal.  I still have to get used to TNA Impact! being on Mondays.  It’s a great way to kick off the week, a relaxing night with friends and comfort food and wonderfully mindless television entertainment, but I do miss being able to look forward to Thursday nights.

Finally, I thought the new Locksley album was supposed to be out tomorrow, but it wasn’t listed on the Newbury Comics newsletter today.  Luckily, the White Stripes are releasing their first live CD this week — more and more, I’ve been growing fond of Jack White’s work, particularly with his side projects.  So, I’ll give it a shot and let you know…

See you next session!

“Stand By Me” (Ben E. King and/or John Lennon Cover)

Originally posted 2009-10-27 22:20:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome, welcome to another edition of the Laptop Sessions with me, Jim Fusco!  Tonight, I bring you the classic standard “Stand By Me”, made famous by Ben E. King and then covered by John Lennon years later.  And, no, I did not base my pick tonight on the cheesy movie we watched while growing up…

Tonight, as it has been in the past with a couple other songs, the version of “Stand By Me” that plays in my head is a combination of the John Lennon version and the Ben E. King version.  I hear the music to the Ben E. King version but John Lennon’s voice.  It’s probably because Lennon did such a spot-on cover.  Man, watching this video of John performing “Stand By Me” just makes me wish he were still alive to make music today.  I know he would’ve still been great today and that he would be coming out with the kind of music that Paul and Ringo are coming out with now (not to mention the great stuff George did before he passed-away).

Anyway, I’ve known this song for as long as I can remember- just listening to the radio growing up.  Then, while jamming with the Acai Berries a few weeks ago, we happened upon this tune and were going to do a cover video ourselves.  But, I figured I could just do it on my own because it doesn’t require another singer or really any other instrumentation (unless you want to be a purist and have someone play the riff constantly in the background).

As much as I don’t like the fact that my studio is gone, I’m really happy with the acoustics I’ve been getting!  You know, it’s terrible to have so much echo and reverb when recording a multi-track song, but it’s the greatest thing ever when recording a solo acoustic video like this.  On another note, I’m trying to justify purchasing an HDV video camera for two reasons: to play the high definition video tapes of our wedding into the computer for editing, and the prospect of having the Laptop Sessions in high definition!  How cool would that be?  We’re getting faster internet next week, too, so my uploads wouldn’t be too painful.  I’m watching an auction on eBay- let’s see what the Mrs. has to say…

We just found out this evening that we are CLEAR TO CLOSE on the house this Friday- right on schedule!  It was a rough ride getting to this point, but everything is finally ni place and we’re hoping that we’re all moved in and set up by end-of-day Saturday.  We bought all new furniture, hired movers, boxed everything up, got the condo rented- what a project.  The best part is that we’re doing it all at once and (hopefully) that’ll mean it will be DONE all at once, you know?  I hate stringing things out.  So, this weekend will be very busy.  But, hopefully things will be stable enough that I’ll be back with a fresh new video next Tuesday!  Then, the Acai Berries are getting back together to record some more tracks- we’ve got a TON of songs in mind, but we’re ready to do about four of them, so stay-tuned.

Have a great week (make sure to stop back on Thursday for Jeff’s post!) and please, please, please wish us luck with our crazy weekend ahead.  It promises to be one of the most important weekends of our lives!  Until Tuesday…