“Believe” (Cher cover)

Hello and welcome to another edition of the Laptop Sessions with Jim Fusco! It’s getting a bit lonely around here- I gotta start bugging the guys to post again. It’s funny how I didn’t post for five years…and I was thinking, “Why was it five years?” And then I realized that my son turns five this week- ah, that’ll do it!

Today, I bring you a song and an artist that I don’t think anyone would’ve predicted. It’s actually something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time- possibly a decade or more. But, I was never confident enough in the vocals to pull it off. Well, thanks to the coronavirusp-related lockdown and the fact that I haven’t gotten sick for months with my teacher wife and school-age kids at home, I’m in fine voice to finally give this one a try. And, you know what, I’m proud to say that I can sing as well as a 75-year-old woman!

Okay, that’s not really fair. I’d be willing to bet that many parts of Cher are actually YOUNGER than me! 🙂 I actually stole that joke from myself. I came up with a product promo for the fuel efficient Jeep Grand Cher-okee, for all of those who “believe in life” after high gas prices. And much like Cher, the car features a bunch of plastic parts tacked onto it…and a curly black wig.

Really, though, if we could all look like her in our 70s!! She looks better now than she did in the 1960’s! She can also belt out those songs without missing a beat, though I’ve always been opposed to the overused and ridiculous sounding autotune in this song. I’m okay with a little of the that autotune effect but I’m not a fan of the T-Pain classic 90’s sound. And that’s what this song (now dubbed the Cher-effect) has. So, what better tune to turn into an acoustic cover version, right? Strip away the auto-tune, the fake bass drum loop, and the warbly synthesizers and you’ve got, what I believe to be, a really great song. The message is a good one: I’m bummed that I lost you, but you know what, I was losing my faith but now I’m thinking that I’m too good for you!

The song is fairly easy to play, but I had to do some interesting capo positioning to make it easier to get the proper sound on that Fmaj7 chord. If you don’t know what that is, that’s the cool second chord you hear in the verses. There’s not a great inversion to play for that chord to make it sound like the original, so I had to throw a capo on to help me play that one chord only. It actually made the rest of the song more difficult to play, but it made that one chord easier, so I went with it. See, the more you know!

I think I may be one of the only guys to ever attempt this song acoustically. Or at the very least the only one who sings it in the original key! To me, this is one of those songs that has the potential of getting very popular on YouTube, thanks in part to its inclusion in that ridiculous Netflix movie with Will Farrell and Rachel McAdams, “Eurovision Song Contest: the Story of Fire Saga.”

I’m going to keep the Sessions coming for at least another couple of months this “season”- I can’t believe this is already my sixth video since coming back! I’m glad that the channel seems to have increased in popularity again and let’s hope it continues to do so. It’s been so much with my new set up, as I just flip a few switches, tune-up, and start playing. Just like those good ol’ days when I used to record on an actual laptop… 🙂

Take care of yourselves and we’ll see you next time!

“Sloop John B” (Beach Boys cover)

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of the Laptop Sessions with Jim Fusco! I went back to the Beach Boys cover songs well again for today’s video, but in a unique twist, this is one everyone’s heard of! Don’t worry, I’ll be back next time with a really obscure one. But, that one, along with “Sloop John B”, fits the theme of this season’s Laptop Sessions cover song music videos: songs that my kids love. You seem, there’s no Raffia playing in my house- my children listen to oldies songs just like their dear old dad. And they like them and request that I play them over and over again! So, I figured I should record these videos because my little Angie likes to watch them when we’re having our book reading time together before bed. It’s truly a joy to spend that time with her and I hope it never ends.

Today’s video is actually for my son, Jonny. I got him a copy of Al Jardine’s children’s book adaptation of “Sloop John B”, which is the Beach Boys’ adaptation of the Kingston Trio’s adaptation of a traditional folk song. Got that? 🙂 Anyway, the book is similar to the song, but has adapted lyrics that don’t include getting drunk and getting into a fist fight with a sea captain. It’s a cute book and I know Jonny likes the song. So, I figured I should give this one a try.

Now, I’ve been trying to take “big” songs with a lot of production and strip them down to a simple one-person acoustic. However, that’s kind of tough to do when the original song was a sea shanty that was sung by one person with an acoustic guitar. So, I took things a step further and adapted Brian Wilson’s arrangement that he did for the Beach Boys (at the behest of Alan Jardine) that ended up on the Pet Sounds album (and the biggest hit from that album, ahead of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, “God Only Knows” and “Caroline, No”).

So, this is a pared-down version of the Beach Boys’ masterpiece, with just me and my Martin MMV acoustic guitar. You’ll notice that this was still during the “quarantine hair” phase, as well. At the time I actually didn’t think it looked ridiculous, which is why I recorded these videos then. Wow, was I wrong! But, the performance came out nicely and I’m happy to present one of the Beach Boys’ biggest hits for you here on the music blog, which is the ultimate source for acoustic songs.

Stay tuned, as I will continue bringing you new videos here on The Laptop Sessions, which is now in its 14th year. I hope you enjoy “Sloop John B” and we’ll see you soon!

“You Won’t Have To Cry” (Byrds cover)

Another week and another new Laptop Sessions acoustic cover song music video for you here on the best (and probably only) cover songs blog ever! Today, I continue two different ongoing series: “The quarantine hair sessions” (in which my hair looks particularly ridiculous this time) and the “My kids’ favorite songs sessions”.

Yes, “You Won’t Have To Cry” is a favorite of my Angelina Rose, who is two years old. Every time she cries (again, she’s two, so this is a common occurrence) I pick her up and I sing her this song. She asks me to sing it for her (something my son never really did- he never asked me to play or sing songs to him and would rather do it on his own!) and loves watching my other videos so I figured I’d make a video of this song for her to add to the repertoire. Her current favorite Laptop Sessions videos include “Sorry Again” (which she calls “The Captain song” because Captain Feathersword of the Wiggles sings it!) and “Do You Wanna Dance?”. She also insists on hearing the song I wrote for her (which she calls “the Angie Rose song”) on a daily basis.

“You Won’t Have To Cry” is one of the earliest Byrds songs, which was workshopped during the Preflyte sessions before they hit it big with Columbia Records and “Mr. Tambourine Man”. This is a classic Clark-McGuinn composition and I just love those opening chords. There’s actually a second guitar playing a different part, as it’s McGuinn on his 12-string electric Rickenbacker (which I weighed using for this cut but decided against because I wouldn’t be playing McGuinn’s picking part anyway) and Crosby’s rhythm. I chose to go with the chord shape I used in this video because it sounded the most full when playing it solo on acoustic (cue my father saying, “Solo you can’t hear it”).

This song is also a duet with Gene Clark and David Crosby (who does some great high notes) singing together. I thought it would be interesting to sing this by myself because that’s how I sing it to Angie in her rocking chair each evening before bed. And, because I’m clearly obsessed with these kids and love the fact that my daughter likes her father’s music, I’m pretty much sticking with what makes them happy for a while. I also, though, hope it makes you happy, too! I’m over 2,000,000 views on my YouTube account now and have been doing so much work fixing the blog, creating title cards for all my old videos, redoing all the keyword tags, and so much more that my daily views have doubled in the past three weeks. Not bad. But, there’s still plenty of work to do if I’m going to get back to (and over) the 1,200 views per day I had at the peak of the series. Maybe if I cut my hair people will want to watch these videos more… 🙂

“She’s Got Rhythm” (The Beach Boys cover)

Hello and welcome to another edition of the Laptop Sessions! It’s great to be back doing these songs again. I have so many that I want to record and they’ve been mostly successful so far. I’m even going back and remastering some of my old videos. My thought is this: I may lose the views that I had on the video before, but is anyone actually hanging around to watch these videos that look like they were recorded in the dark and inside an air conditioner? So, cleaning them up has been fairly easy to do and it seems to breathe some new life into them.

But today I bring you a new video in “She’s Got Rhythm”. This is the lead track off of the 1978 album, “M.I.U. Album”. This is one of the Beach Boys’ most panned albums, and for good reason. It’s so disjointed. Of course the songs aren’t bad (at least, in my opinion), but you could tell that Brian was fading away from his brief resurgence during the 15 Big Ones and Love You albums of the previous two years. The other members had a chance to add songs, but you didn’t get much input from Carl or Dennis on this one- you’d have to wait till 1979’s “L.A. (Light Album)”to hear more written by them. However, Dennis does get the lead on probably my favorite track on the album, “My Diane”. I don’t think I should cover that one, though- seems like it’s too personal and written for a very specific person for me to jump in.

So, I chose “She’s Got Rhythm” in keeping with one of the goals of the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog. This song is done in a slightly disco style and would probably turn some people off, especially four decades later. So, I thought I’d give it the full acoustic treatment…but still keep the falsetto because, why not? I’d be really interested to hear from folks to see if this song translated well to acoustic guitar and vocals. It just popped into my head one day while playing some songs on piano with my daughter and I knew the chords before I even started playing. And you can tell Brian wasn’t in command of the session for the original track because it’s in the key of D. If he was there, you know this would be in C#…

I hope you enjoy today’s Laptop Sessions cover song video. I have a couple more Beach Boys songs in the can that I’ll debut over the next few weeks. It won’t be easy gaining fans back after letting the site go dormant for so long, but it’s been fun igniting this passion once again! Stay tuned to my YouTube channel (http://youtube.com/jimfusco – I’m uploading new and newly-remastered videos all the time!