Every year, there are a wide variety of compilations, best of’s, essentials, greatest hits, and retrospectives that are released. I usually only buy one here or there. This year, there were three outstanding compilations, which are recognized below. In each case, the packaging is excellent, notable if only for the excellent attention to liner notes that provide further context and insight into the tracks. Even though all three were of high quality, Ben Folds’ reasonably-priced, beautifully packaged, well-selected Best Imitation of Myself takes the prize without debate.
1) The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective – Ben Folds
Welcome to an all-new season of the Laptop Sessions with Jim Fusco! This time around, I’m bringing you a mix of cover songs and a selection of original music. There will be original songs from my past albums, as well as my upcoming album, “Those Around Us”. The whole album is mixed and pre-mastered…at least my first crack at it. After that, I need to secure the album cover (hopefully another painting like “Halfway There”) and get the album professionally mastered. It’s very exciting and I can’t help but draw parallels to the creativity and experimental style that I used on my second album, “My Other Half”. If you haven’t heard “My Other Half”, you can listen to the whole album on my website for free! Just click here to listen.
“Those Around Us” is not really a concept album like “My Other Half”. With “My Other Half”, I wrote the album around the concept. With “Those Around Us”, I just realized that I wasn’t writing about me, for a change. I was writing about the people around me- the people I know and care about- and my interactions and feelings about them. I’m convinced that this is my best effort yet- the best production value, songwriting quality, lyrics, vocals, and most of all- musicianship. Plus, my brother Mike plays the drums on a few tracks, just like the old days.
I will try to update the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog as often as I can with new updates, but for the most part, I just update my official Twitter account @jimfuscomusic. Remember, if you follow me on Twitter, I’ll send you a link where you can download five of my songs for free!
One more thing- you’ll notice the new “set” for my acoustic cover song music videos. Since my new home studio is complete, I wanted to record my videos in front of my guitar collecxion, which proudly hangs on the wall behind me. 🙂
Onto tonight’s video- the first video this season!
Grateful Dead (or “The Grateful Dead”, as most people call them) have really become one of my mainstay bands. I look forward to getting the rest of their studio stuff. I know it’s weird- most Dead Heads love the band for their versatility on stage over thousands of concerts and bootlegs. But, my love for the band started after getting a Best Of CD with all of their studio tracks. They combine my favorite elements of a band- harmonies, guitar solos, and most of all: multiple songwriting band members! I’m so happy my friend Bill turned me on to Grateful Dead a couple years ago. I’m so excited to have another band I can explore.
Tonight’s video, “Ripple”, was written by Jerry Garcia (and a lyricist, as you can tell these aren’t the poetic words of Jerry…). I’ve always liked this song, though it seemed out of place as the last track on that Best Of CD I have. I guess this song was a mild hit (they never really had any big chart hits- they must’ve played these songs on early FM radio, where the Moody Blues and ELO would dominate the airwaves). In fact, my father, who always has strong opinions of music, says this is his favorite Grateful Dead song, and I can see why.
It’s a nice melody and the lyrics instantly take you to the shores of a southern US river- I can see myself sitting on a rock with my Martin, gently playing this song. I thought of doing this video when I heard it again at my sister-in-law’s wedding a couple weekends ago. Both my wife and I were part of the wedding, as my (now) brother-in-law and I have become very good friends over the past few years. Instantly, I thought doing “Ripple” would be a great tribute video to do for their new marriage and I hope I did the song (and their marriage, for that matter) justice.
I hope you enjoy tonight’s video, too! I’ll be back every other Thursday for at least the next three or four months, as I’m really dedicated to making new music online while finishing my album. I want everyone to listen to “Those Around Us” and (if the ambition carries me) I’ll stop at nothing to make that happen. I’d love to hear your opinion of this song, my performance, and what your favorite Grateful Dead songs are in the comments section or on YouTube. Thanks to all for your support as I begin my fifth year of the Laptop Sessions!
Welcome to your Saturday dose of The Laptop Sessions, brought to you by me, Jim Fusco!
Today, I’m doing a fairly-unknown song that’s technically only by Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork, but billed as the Monkees. This song was on their first greatest hits CD in the late eighties and actually continues to make appearances on “Best Of” albums. I love this song and I’ve known it for many years now. Actually, the Monkees were my favorite band before I found out about the Beach Boys. I LOVED that Monkees Greatest Hits CD when I was like 4, and I find that I still love all the songs today.
They didn’t write this song, but in a few weeks, I’ll be putting another Monkees song that they did write (by Michael Nesmith) on https://laptopsessions.com .
We also did a radio show on our free internet radio station, WCJM Internet Radio at http://wcjm.com , called the “That Was Then, This Is Now” Show. This show not only featured this song, but also featured songs (and comedy skits) that give a look at bands both then and now.
I think this Session may fall under the same category that my most famous, “I’m So Lonely”, video falls under: the over-produced and way-too-eighties-sounding songs that I took and made into an acoustic song. These versions always tend to come out the best because you can just LISTEN to the real song and cut through the production.
That’s why I’m always a big fan of people that use production to make the song the best it can sound, but not just “make” the song. That’s why Brian Wilson is so great: he wrote (and writes) great songs, then uses the production to make them shine even better. But, they’d still be great songs without all the instrumentation, which is what I try to prove with these cover songs on the Laptop Sessions.
On a slightly different note, I think it’s obvious by now that we’re doing all of these cover songs because we’re songwriters and the only way we can think of people showing interest in our original music is to play other people’s songs right along with it. I figure, if you like the same songs I like and I write similar songs to the songs I like (in general, of course), you’ll like my music by the transitive property!
With that said, I hope you’re checking out our weekly “Original Wednesday” songs and going to my original music website at jimfusco.com. We have some pretty great stuff- we’re not looking to make a fortune, although we are looking for people to pay….attention!!
Thanks for watching today’s Laptop Session and stay tuned for Chris’ new song tomorrow!