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Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Tune o’ the Day

The last studio album by the British rock band The Police was the superb “Synchronicity.” It was ranked number one in both the US and the UK, and “Every Breath You Take” won a Grammy for Song of the Year.

At the time, Sting and Stewart Copeland were involved in an epic feud that once led to a fist fight. To keep the lid on, Sting, Copeland, and Andy Summers recorded in separate rooms, and the results were mixed in the studio.

“Every Breath You Take” sounds like a gentle love song, and it gets played regularly at weddings. But, as you may be aware, it’s the opposite. The lyrics are spoken ominously by a jealous and possessive former lover. Essentially, a stalker.

When he wrote it, Sting said, “I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance, and control.” He said the song is “very, very sinister and ugly.”

Mind the details when you choose the music for your wedding, people.

Synchronicity

Every Breath You Take

By The Police, 1983
Written by Sting

Every breath you take,
Every move you make,
Every bond you break,
Every step you take,
I’ll be watching you.

Every single day,
Every word you say,
Every game you play,
Every night you stay,
I’ll be watching you.

Oh, can’t you see
You belong to me.
My poor heart aches
With every step you take.

Every move you make,
Every vow you break,
Every smile you fake,
Every claim you stake,
I’ll be watching you.

Since you’ve gone, I’ve been lost without a trace.
I dream at night — I can only see your face.
I look around, but it’s you I can’t replace.
I feel so cold, and I long for your embrace.
I keep crying baby, baby, please.

Oh, can’t you see
You belong to me.
My poor heart aches
With every step you take.

Every move you make,
Every vow you break,
Every smile you fake,
Every claim you stake,
I’ll be watching you.

Every move you make,
Every step you take,
I’ll be watching you.

I’ll be watching you.

(Every breath you take, every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take)
I’ll be watching you.
(Every single day, every word you say, every game you play, every night you stay)
I’ll be watching you.
(Every move you make, every vow you break, every smile you fake, every claim you stake)
I’ll be watching you.
(Every single day, every word you say, every game you play, every night you stay)
I’ll be watching you.
(Every breath you take, every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take)
I’ll be watching you.
(Every single day, every word you say, every game you play, every night you stay)
I’ll be watching you.

 

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Tune o’ the Day

Richard Lester, the director of the second Beatles movie “Help!” said he wanted to make a film in the vein of the Marx Brothers’ “Duck Soup.” He delivered a madcap story about members of a sinister cult chasing Ringo because a sacred ring needed to perform sacrifices was stuck on his finger.

The working title of the 1965 film was “Eight Arms to Hold You.” According to a cousin, Lennon came home one night and said, “God! They’ve changed the title of the film. It’s going to be called ‘Help!’ now. So I’ve had to write a new song with the title called ‘Help!'”

Paul McCartney gets credit as co-writer, but he acknowledged that the song was Lennon’s baby.

Lennon elaborated in 1980. “I just wrote the song because I was commissioned to write it for the movie. But later, I knew I really was crying out for help.

“So it was my fat Elvis period. You see the movie: he — I — is very fat, very insecure, and he’s completely lost himself. And I am singing about when I was so much younger and all the rest, looking back at how easy it was.”

Amazing. Lennon was asked to conjure up a usable song with the title “Help!” and he delivered something this good.

Help

Help!

By The Beatles, 1965

Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Help! I need somebody.
Help! Not just anybody.
Help! You know I need someone.
Help!

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody’s help in any way.
But now, these days are gone, and I’m not so self-assured.
Now I find I’ve changed my mind. I’ve opened up the doors.

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down.
And I do appreciate you being ’round.
Help me get my feet back on the ground.
Won’t you please, please help me?

And now my life has changed in oh, so many ways.
My independence seems to vanish in the haze.
But every now and then, I feel so insecure.
I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before.

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down.
And I do appreciate you being ’round.
Help me get my feet back on the ground.
Won’t you please, please help me?

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody’s help in any way.
But now, these days are gone, and I’m not so self-assured.
Now I find I’ve changed my mind. I’ve opened up the doors.

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down.
And I do appreciate you being ’round.
Help me get my feet back on the ground.
Won’t you please, please help me?

Help me, help me, Ooh.

 

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Tune o’ the Day

The English poet George Gordon, Lord Byron popularized the phrase “time, the avenger” in the 1880s. If you’re like me, however, you probably think of Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders when you hear it.

Their song “Time the Avenger” is the story of a married businessman who has an affair, drinks to numb his feelings, eventually realizes that time is no longer on his side, and ends up on the street with his possessions in a briefcase.

The tune is from the 1984 album “Learning to Crawl,” the group’s first album after two of the four original Pretenders died of drug overdoses and Hynde had a baby.

The album, made with a new line-up, was a big success and, as you can imagine under the circumstances, heavy on retrospection. Chrissie had a lot on her mind.

Her daughter, by the way, was learning to crawl at the time.

Learning to Crawl

Time The Avenger

By the Pretenders, 1984
Written by Chrissie Hynde

Nobody’s perfect.
Not even a perfect stranger.
But, oh, what a gal.
She was such a perfect stranger.

And you’re the best in your field,
In your office with your girls
And desk and leather chair.
Thought that time was on your side.
But now it’s time the avenger.

Nobody’s permanent.
Everything’s on loan here.
Even your wife and kids
Could be gone next year.
And with what you have left,
You’ll be forever under pressure
To support her.
And a lover who looks strangely
Like time the avenger.

Time, time, hear the bells chime
Over the harbor and the city.
Time — one more vodka and lime
To help paralyze that tiny little tick, tick, tick, tick.

Nobody’s perfect.
Not even a perfect gent.
When your property took the A Train,
I wonder where your manners went.
You were standing at the station.
In your briefcase was your aftershave and underwear.
Can you hear the whistle blow?
Sounds like time the avenger.

Time, time, hear the bells chime
Over the harbor and the city.
Time to kill another bottle of wine
To help paralyze that tiny little tick, tick, tick, tick.

 

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(Note: I chose “We Will Rock You” as a Tune o’ the Day because I heard a toddler belting it out in the Jefferson Kroger recently. That kid, he rocked.)

After a concert in 1977, guitarist Brian May of Queen wondered what audiences can do in confined spaces to express themselves. He concluded “They can clap their hands, they can stomp their feet, and they can sing.”

May decided Queen needed a song, something simple and catchy and rousing, that would cause audiences to get involved.

He said he woke up the next morning with the idea for “We Will Rock You” in his head, including the famous STOMP-STOMP-CLAP beat.

The song’s lyrics are a “three ages of man” story. In the first stanza, a boy on the streets dreams of a better life. In the second stanza, as a young man, he still struggles to make something of himself. In the third, he is a defeated old man whose life went nowhere.

(I tried to figure out what the energetic “we will rock you” chorus has to do with the three verses, but I gave up.)

Queen recorded the song in an empty London church because the band liked the acoustics. May said he found some old boards under the stairs that “just seemed ideal to stomp on.”

The stomping was done separately in a studio as the band, the staff, and the recording engineers all joined in to create and record the distinctive STOMP-STOMP-CLAP. No actual drums were used.

Creating a classic rock anthem is a lot of work.

Queen

We Will Rock You

By Queen, 1977
Written by Brian May

Buddy, you’re a boy,
Make a big noise,
Playing in the street,
Gonna be a big man someday.

You got mud on your face, You big disgrace,
Kickin’ your can all over the place, singin’

We will, we will rock you.
We will, we will rock you.

Buddy, you’re a young man,
Hard man,
Shouting in the street,
Gonna take on the world someday.

You got blood on your face, you big disgrace,
Waving your banner all over the place.

We will, we will rock you.
Sing it!
We will, we will rock you.

Buddy, you’re an old man,
Poor man,
Pleading with your eyes,
Gonna make you some peace someday.

You got mud on your face, big disgrace,
Somebody better put you back into your place.

We will, we will rock you.
Sing it!
We will, we will rock you.
Everybody!
We will, we will rock you.
Hmm
We will, we will rock you.

Alright.

 

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Bob Dylan said he wrote ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ in ten minutes. “Just put words to an old spiritual, probably something I learned from Carter Family records. That’s the folk tradition. You use what’s been handed down.”

I read somewhere that “Blowin’ in the Wind” succeeds because it’s ambiguous enough to have meaning for everyone. Fair enough, but the song has plenty more going for it.

It had the chops to became an anthem of the anti-war movement, to be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and to place no. 14 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The “old spiritual” to which Dylan put words is “No More Auction Block,” a marching song of black soldiers during the Civil War, origin unknown. Dylan performed that, too.

Dylan also said this about “Blowin’ in the Wind”:

“It’s critical and it’s hard, this litany of questions about what’s wrong with the world. If one had to choose one subject to label the song, it would be a song asking ‘why.’ In other words, it asks why we have the issues we do in our world. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

Dylan B

Blowin’ In The Wind

By Bob Dylan, 1963
Written by Bob Dylan

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, and how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

Yes, and how many years can a mountain exist
Before it is washed to the sea?
Yes, and how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

Yes, and how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, and how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, and how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

 

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According to rock musician Mark Knopfler, he wrote the 1985 hit song “Money for Nothing” after hearing a delivery man in an appliance store make comments about the musicians on MTV.

Knopfler said it happened in a store in New York. On a back wall, several TV sets were tuned to MTV. While watching the bands perform, a male employee wearing a baseball cap used the terms “money for nothing,” “that ain’t working,” and “what are those, Hawaiian noises?”

Knopfler has been criticized for including the term “faggot” in the lyrics. In 2011, the tune was even banned in Canada for being offensive — which created howls of protest about banning songs. Knopfler maintains it’s a term the song’s character would use.

Bonus fact: Knopfler shares the songwriting credit with Sting, who wrote and sings the “I want my MTV” lines.

Dire Straits-1

Money For Nothing

By Dire Straits, 1985
Written by Mark Knopfler and Sting

I want my MTV.
I want my… I want my MTV.
I want my… I want my MTV.
I want my MTV.

Now, look at them yo-yos. That’s the way you do it.
You play the guitar on the MTV.
That ain’t workin’. That’s the way you do it.
Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free.

Now, that ain’t workin’. That’s the way you do it.
Lemme tell ya, them guys ain’t dumb.
Maybe get a blister on your little finger.
Maybe get a blister on your thumb.

We got to install microwave ovens.
Custom kitchen deliveries.
We got to move these refrigerators.
We got to move these color TVs.

The little faggot with the earring and the make-up —
Yeah, buddy, that’s his own hair.
That little faggot got his own jet airplane.
That little faggot, he’s a millionaire.

We got to install microwave ovens.
Custom kitchen deliveries.
We got to move these refrigerators.
We got to move these color TVs.

Got to install microwave ovens.
Custom kitchens deliveries.
We’ve got to move these refrigerators.
Got to move these color TVs.

I shoulda learned to play the guitar.
I shoulda learned to play them drums.
Look at that mama. She got it stickin’ in the camera, man.
We could have some fun.

And he’s up there — what’s that? Hawaiian noises?
Bangin’ on the bongos like a chimpanzee.
Oh, that ain’t workin’. That’s the way you do it.
Get your money for nothin’, get your chicks for free.

We got to install microwave ovens.
Custom kitchen deliveries.
We got to move these refrigerators.
We got to move these color TVs.

Listen here…

Now, that ain’t workin’. That’s the way you do it.
You play the guitar on the MTV.
That ain’t workin’. That’s the way you do it.
Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free.

Money for nothin’. Chicks for free.
Get your money for nothin’ and your chicks for free.
Money for nothin’. Chicks for free.
Get your money for nothin’. Chicks for free.

Money for nothin’. Chicks for free.
Get your money for nothin’ and your chicks for free.
Your money for nothin’, the chicks for free.
Get you money for nothin’ and the chicks for free.

Look at that, look at that.

I want my… I want my… I want my MTV.

Get you money for nothin’ and the chicks for free.
Money for nothin’, chicks for free.
Get your money for nothin’ and the chicks for free.
Get your money for nothin’ and the chicks for free.

Easy, easy money for nothin’. Easy, easy chicks for free.
Easy, easy money for nothin’. Chicks for free.

That ain’t workin’.

Dire Straits-2

Dire Straits-3

 

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Tunes o’ the Day

In 1958, the Kingston Trio’s recording of “Tom Dooley” gave the folk music craze a healthy boost.

The song is a solid, musically-pleasing folk ballad, and the subject (murder, hanging) made it stand out from most popular music of the time. Moreover, the tune is tantalizingly simple and only hints at the events in question.

FYI, Tom Dooley met a young woman, allegedly stabbed her to death, was apprehended because of someone named Grayson, and faced the gallows the next day.

The song may be lean, but the story behind it is detailed, lurid, and sensational.

“Tom Dooley” is based on the saga of a former Confederate soldier who was convicted and hanged for the 1866 murder of Laura Foster in Wilkes County, North Carolina. His name was Thomas C. Dula, pronounced “Dooley” in the local dialect.

The tale involved Tom, three women, much hanky-panky, and the fact that all four were being treated for syphilis. Some say the real murderer was one of the women, and Tom went to the gallows out of love for her. Grayson? He was a Tennessean who helped the posse catch Tom.

Not long after Dula’s execution, Thomas Land wrote a poem, “The Murder of Laura Foster,” that seems to be the source of the song. The origin of the music is unknown. You can Google “Tom Dula” for more.

The Kingston Trio version earned accolades aplenty — number one rated, chosen one of the Songs of the Century, and so on. I also like the funkier Steve Earle version from 2002, which added some additional details about the murder from Tom.

Here are both versions.

Kingston Trio

Tom Dooley

By the Kingston Trio, 1958
Based on a poem by Thomas Land

Throughout history, there have been many songs written about the eternal triangle. The next one tells the story of a Mr. Grayson, a beautiful woman, and a condemned man named Tom Dooley. When the sun rises tomorrow, Tom Dooley must hang…

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley,
Hang down your head and cry.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley,
Poor boy, you’re bound to die.

I met her on the mountain. There I took her life.
Met her on the mountain. Stabbed her with my knife.

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Hang down your head and cry.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Poor boy, you’re bound to die.

This time tomorrow, reckon where I’ll be.
Hadn’t o’ been for Grayson, I’d o’ been in Tennessee.

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Hang down your head and cry.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Poor boy, you’re bound to die.

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Hang down your head and cry.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Poor boy, you’re bound to die.

This time tomorrow, reckon where I’ll be.
Down in some lonesome valley, hangin’ from a white oak tree.

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Hang down your head and cry.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Poor boy, you’re bound to die.

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Hang down your head and cry.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Poor boy, you’re bound to die.
Poor boy, you’re bound to die.
Poor boy, you’re bound to die.
Poor boy, you’re bound to — die.

Earle Steve

Tom Dooley

By Steve Earle, 2002
Traditional lyrics embellished by Earle

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Hang down your head and cry.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Poor boy, you’re bound to die.

I met her on the mountain.
I said she’d be my wife.
I met her on the mountain.
Stabbed her with my knife.

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Hang down your head and cry.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Poor boy, you’re bound to die.

I drug her to the river,
As God Almighty knows.
The man beside the water
Hid her shoes and clothes.

I dug her grave four foot long.
I dug it three foot deep.
I threw the cold clay on her,
Tramped it with my feet.

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Hang down your head and cry.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Poor boy, you’re bound — poor boy you’re bound to die.

By this time tomorrow,
Reckon where I’ll be:
Down there in that hollow
Hangin’ from a tree.

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Hang down your head and cry.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Poor boy, you’re bound to die.

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Hang down your head and cry.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Poor boy, you’re bound to die.

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Hang down your head and cry.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Poor boy, you’re bound to die.

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Hang down your head and cry.
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley.
Poor boy, you’re bound — poor boy, you’re bound to die.

Yeah, that sounds like a phonograph record to me. That one right there.

 

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