For Woody Guthrie, Billy Bragg, & Wilco chords and lyrics, CLICK HERE!
By Chris Moore:
As promised, I’m up to the plate for the second time this evening, as I sonically celebrate New York Mets baseball opening day 2009!
For my next trick, I picked my familiar acoustic guitar up and learned a song from Mermaid Avenue, Volume II. This album is comprised of songs whose lyrics were composed by Woody Guthrie, predominantly in the 1940s. Then, in the mid to late 1990s, Billy Bragg and the boys of Wilco (Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Jay Bennett, and Ken Coomer) teamed up to write music to the words. The result was Mermaid Avenue. The first album is, in my opinion, a masterpiece. In both individual tracks and the sequence of songs as a whole, the first album is amazing. There’s something about the production quality and the combination of vocals — alternating between Bragg’s deep clarity and Tweedy’s roughness — and instrumentation is masterful.
The second collaboration is essentially a compilation of tracks left off the first release. As Bragg and Wilco had had a falling out, I can’t imagine that there was much in the way of actual collaboration on the second album. This is evident, and it perhaps accounts for why I have never really gotten into the second album as much as the first. Still, there are some standout tracks, such as “Airline to Heaven” and “Someday Some Morning Sometime.”
Admittedly, “Joe DiMaggio Done It Again” is not a song I would, under normal circumstances, choose to record for a Laptop Session. (And it’s a bit of an anomaly, as the music is written by Bragg, yet Tweedy sings it — a good decision, in my personal opinion!) That being said, I couldn’t think of a more perfect track for today. Although Joe DiMaggio was a player for the Yankees (and I’m a Mets fan!), I think DiMaggio belongs to an era of baseball history that is timeless. There are certain players — Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb, and others — that fans of all teams can appreciate.
It doesn’t hurt that the Mets won 2-1 over Cincinnati, led by the strong starting pitching of Johan Santana and a home run by Daniel Murphy to name a couple. Even though I wasn’t home to watch the game, I was able to watch via live phone feed — um, I mean the internet connection to the Mets homepage on my iPhone. As Mike texted today, “We’re back to iPhone scoreboard watching!”
As a final note, today is special for another reason…
It’s fellow Laptop Sessions contributor Mike Fusco’s birthday! Here’s to the big 2-3, Fusc! His birthday seems to come at the best time of the year for him — just as the weather is starting to turn warmer (not that you could tell from today’s weather!). For those of you who don’t know, one of Mike’s favorite pastimes is going to the beach. I was there this weekend, and let me tell you… it’s just about time!
Well, that’s about enough for one post. I mean, two posts. 🙂 Have a great week and don’t forget to stop back regularly this week for more all-new cover song music videos and posts; the second installment of my “Together Through Life” article is coming this weekend…
Okay, so here’s a bit of an anomaly. Most of us cast members of WCJM.com Free Internet Radio will be surprised, if they’re not listening to the shows as often as I do, to find me playing a Billy Joel song. I want to take this opportunity to clear the air.
If you listen to the Beach Boys’ music through the ages, you’ll hear a progression in the music. The styles may be different as the years go on, but most of it is just building on what was previously there.
Conversely, you can listen to Paul McCartney or the Moody Blues through the years and notice that their song/music styles change with the TIMES. For instance, in the seventies, songs got longer, then got disco-y, then got electronic once they reached the eighties. Around 2000, you heard drum loops and “new age” production on albums from both McCartney and the Moodies.
But, their SONGS and the general “type” of music (rock or pop) stayed pretty constant. I’m not giving any free passes for horrible disco versions (Beach Boys fans can goan at “Here Comes the Night”) or electronica from the early 80s, but at least you still knew it was a “Paul” song or a “Moodies” song.
Billy Joel, for me, falls into two categories, both of which I’ll briefly address:
As you’ll note with the bands I like, I tend to stay away from bands that are generally “overrated”. Yes, the Beatles are lauded all the time, but it’s pretty clear they’re the ONLY band that deserves the accolades they get. But, Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys NEVER won a Grammy for their songs (unless you count “Best Instrumental” for “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow” a few years ago- what an insult). The Moody Blues STILL aren’t in the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame. I don’t think America’s had a decently reviewed album in Rolling Stone since their first one.
But, look at who gets ALL the attention:
– Bruce Springsteen – Elton John (who sells concert tickets like Tickle-Me-Elmos did the day after Thanksgiving) – Bob Dylan, whom I’m convinced can fart on the microphone and earn a Five Star Rolling Stone review. Don’t get me wrong, I love the man, but he is overrated, as well.
Now, Billy Joel is playing TEN, yes TEN shows at Mohegan Sun Casino here in Connecticut and sold them all out. The man hasn’t done an album in like 15 years and is more popular than ever. I swear more people go to his concerts than have EVER bought his music. And THAT’S the kind of crowd that makes someone so overrated. The “Starbucks” crowd that loves what all the other soccer moms love.
The theme here: It’s not Billy Joel’s fault. I really don’t blame HIM for my dislike of his music.
2. He changes the TYPE of music he plays ALL THE TIME.
As I said earlier, bands I like have changed their styles through the years, either through progression, or just keeping up with the times. But, again- a Beach Boys song was a Beach Boys song, you know?
Now, Billy Joel:
Sometimes, he’s the crooner, singing in that horrid “holier than thou” voice about “regular people” from New York and their stories.
Then, out of nowhere, he’s formed a barbershop quartet in “For The Longest Time”.
Then, he’s some teeney-bopper singing “Uptown Girl”.
Then, 80’s rocker while singing “We Didn’t Start the Fire”.
And, finally, he’s a good old fashioned rock’n’roller on tunes like this one, “You May Be Right”.
What style of music IS this man? Epic piano numbers? Guitar-based rockers? Vocals-only diddies? What?
That question, I cannot answer. And maybe I’m being a bit too general here, as since I’ve noticed this trend, I’ve never gotten past the Greatest Hits.
In closing, I love this song, I love the style, and I wish this was the REAL Billy Joel. I hope you enjoy my rip-roarin’ rendition of this Billy Joel song! (What a rant…)