Farmer’s Daughter – 6 (early promising song) Surfin’ USA – 6 (catchy, but also a stolen melody, so it loses some points) Lana – 5 Lonely Sea – 7
Shut Down – 7 (this is a great bluesy song) Finders Keepers – 6 (endearing) Let’s Go Trippin’ – 4 (filler) Stoked – 3 (see last song) Misirlou – 2 (because at this point in the album, I am sick of instrumentals!) Noble Surfer – 6 Honky Tonk – 1 (why all the instrumentals!!) *The Baker Man – 1 (probably the most ridiculous song they did next to Ding Dang) Surf Jam – 1 (we get the idea)
** Here’s another album I like, but I think it’s a step back from their first. I know they were trying to make music people could dance to at parties, but the instrumentals don’t stand up now. They come across as a lack of effort. They have so much vocal talent- it’s a shame there’s not more songs with vocals! **
If you have found yourself suffering from a “pernicious case of the Mondays” and need something to turn your week around, then look no further than the best cover song music video blog on the Internet today!
This week, as with all weeks, there’s a lot to look forward to.
Tonight, there’s Chris Moore Monday. Tomorrow, there’s Jim Fusco Tuesday. On Saturday, there’s chords to one of the most classic Christmas songs of all time. And, finally, there’s The Weekend Review on Sunday, a very special edition during which I’ll reveal my pick for the #3 best rock album of the decade, 2000-2009. Thus far, it’s been The Barenaked Ladies’ Maroon at #5 and, as of yesterday, Elliott Smith’s Figure 8 at #4.
But that’s enough about the future. For now, let’s live in the moment.
“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is a traditional song, which basically means that no one knows who wrote the song. I learned tonight that the song is more accurately referred to as “God rest you merry, gentlemen,” even though it is often incorrectly punctuated as “God rest you, merry gentlemen.” Of course, as an English teacher, I found this fascinating. Don’t you?
And, as if that wasn’t enough, Charles Dickens referred to this song in his classic holiday novel, A Christmas Carol. This is a novel that I loved when I first read it in my Charles Dickens class at CCSU, and I loved it even more when I returned to it a couple years ago. If I wasn’t so busy this month, I would re-read it for a third time.
Instead, I’m grading, getting car work done, attending real estate meetings, and, of course, decorating for Christmas. We had a lot of fun pulling out old decorations and buying some new ones to complete the Christmas spirit in the apartment. Even now, I sit bathed in the multi-colored glow of Christmas lights, and really, there’s no better atmosphere for typing a yuletide post.
I’m very proud of tonight’s session for a couple of reasons. First of all, I couldn’t find any reliable chords on the web to work from, so I essentially started from scratch. I used a set of lyrics and chords for the traditional arrangement as a foundation from which to transcribe, but Brian Wilson, true to form, added some twists as well as an instrumental middle section that I figured out on my own. Being that I’m more of a lyrics guy, I always feel excited when I crack a musical code, no matter how simple or complex it might be.
How long it took me, I won’t mention… 🙂
The other main reason I’m happy with this session is that, for whatever reason, this became one of those songs that I just couldn’t relax for. For instance, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember which line to sing after the instrumental break. I kept opting for the blending of the first and third bridges, singing, “To save all those who…” So, I played more takes than I’m willing to admit here, but in the end, I walked away with a complete session that I’m happy with. I especially enjoyed being able to play my Bb harmonica, a first for the Laptop Sessions!
“God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is one of those songs that I’ve known forever. As I mentioned, it’s a traditional Christmas song that anyone who has gone to church has heard. I never particularly cared for the song — even the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan version was one I appreciated but never really loved.
Then, I listened to Brian Wilson’s 2004 Christmas album, What I Really Want for Christmas. I was immediately drawn to Wilson’s arrangement of this song, and it has become an instant favorite for me these past several years. The album as a whole has become a favorite of mine, right up there with the Beach Boys’ Christmas album and the Moody Blues’ December. (And, after five years, another top holiday album has been added in Bob Dylan’s Christmas in the Heart.)
If you’ve heard Brian Wilson’s Christmas album — or even if you haven’t — I strongly recommend you go to YouTube and search “Brian Wilson What I Really Want for Christmas Video Part I.” I just watched this documentary today, which includes some great behind-the-scenes making-of footage, interviews, and clips from the album. If you love the album, it will remind you why. If you haven’t heard the album, it will make you want to.
And, on that note, I hope that my video makes you interested enough to want to hear the Brian Wilson version.
We Three Kings of Orient Are – 9.5
*Little Saint Nick (single) – 10
Little Saint Nick (album) – 9.5
*Our Father – 5
*Auld Lang Syne (alternate) – 5
Santa’s Beard – 7 (LOVE the chord progression and the combination of Mike’s low part and Brian’s high part on “He wants to meet old Santa Claus”)
Christmas Day – 6
I’ll Be Home for Christmas – 7 (I consider this the standard for this song)
The Man with All the Toys – 7.5 (The same reason why I like this song is the reason why it gets docked some points. It has this “dark” sound to it that kinda doesn’t sound very Christmas-song like. However, I like the darker sound because I love those dark Christmastime nights)
Blue Christmas – 6.5
White Christmas – 6
*Little Saint Nick (alternate) – 6.5
Merry Christmas, Baby – 7
Santa Claus is Coming to Town – 5
Frosty the Snowman – 5
Auld Lang Syne – 4 (They couldn’t have done ONE more take to let Dennis have another chance?)
** This is one of my favorite albums. That doesn’t mean it’s the best by any means, but this always makes me SO happy. I have 200 Christmas songs and know how to play most of them. I love Christmas and everything that goes with it. This album contains songs that make me SO happy every time I listen to them, that it automatically brings back memories. I love Elvis’ first Christmas album because of that, too. Something about that innocence and that late ’50s, early ’60s Christmas time vibe… I’ll never live in that kind of world. I’ll never get to experience that, seeing as I grew up in the ’90s (and still growing, in fact, at 23). I hope to give my future children Christmases like that, and that’s why every note on this album is like gold to me. I listen to it about 50 times a year- more than any other album. I know the songs aren’t perfect and the recording sounds a bit rushed, at best. But, they’re voices are at top-notch form here. Classic. **
Welcome to another edition of the Laptop Sessions with Jim Fusco! A quick update: the recording for my new album has been a fun process and every day I’m more and more excited to hear the finished results. If you haven’t been following my progress, either go to my website at http://jimfusco.com or directly to my music Twitter feed @jimfuscomusic.
Tonight’s video is one from The Beach Boys- my favorite band of all time. This song is from one of their most liked albums among fans. Unfortunately, I don’t fall into that category. “15 Big Ones” is an interesting album. Sure, it’s the album where the other members finally got Brian Wilson back into the studio, but to me, it spelled the end of a once-great band. You see, in the years leading up to “15 Big Ones”, the Beach Boys (the members other than Brian) were writing and producing some amazing music. IN fact, “Sunflower” may be my favorite album from them. But, as the nostalgia of the Beach Boys’ #1 greatest hits album, “Endless Summer”, grew in popularity, the band decided to get Brian back to the forefront. Of course, Brian wasn’t really ready. He’d been locked away in his room, listening to old music he loved from Fats Domino, Freddy Cannon, etc. These were songs he loved as a kid and were what got him into rock’n’roll.
So, Brian wasn’t that interested in writing new songs- he ended up going into the studio and having the Boys record many of his old favorites, such as “Rock’n’Roll Music” and “Blueberry Hill”. Those are the good ones on the album- I’m pretty sure they could’ve left off “A Casual Look” and made it “14 Big Ones” instead.
But, the pun in the title was because the Beach Boys had been a band for 15 years. And, if I’m not mistaken, this was considered their 15th album.
It’s not a bad album, but it’s definitely dated now. The synthesizer, brought to even more prominence on “Love You” from the next year, is hard to play for someone right now. Playing “Palisades Park” for someone and saying, ‘This is from an album considered one of their best” doesn’t really make much of a case for potential fans.
Anyway, there are some great tracks on “15 Big Ones” though, including “It’s OK”. Actually, I’ve already covered “Blueberry Hill”, “Just Once In My Life”, “Palisades Park” – I must like this album after all! But, “Everyone’s In Love With You” is my favorite. It’s definitely Mike Love at his best. His vocals are sweet and it’s got a great melody. Songs like this make me wish he had written more (that is, as long as they aren’t “Summer Of Love” from 1992).
I’ve always wondered if “Everyone’s In Love With You” had a bit of a racy meaning to it. I mean, if you just literally listen to the words, you’ll see what I mean. But, Mike has said the song is about transcendental meditation, which he was really into at the time. It’s more of a feeling that everyone shares “love” with each other and individuality takes a back seat to a collective well-being. At least, that’s what I’ve gained from the whole thing over the years…
I hope you enjoy this song- maybe it’ll prompt you to give “15 Big Ones” a shot someday. It’s definitely worth a listen, I’ll say that. I’m pretty busy for the next couple of weeks, but I won’t forget about the music blog. I’ll be back with another great video soon, so stay-tuned!