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Posts Tagged ‘Music’

The 1966 song “A Hazy Shade of Winter” by Paul Simon is a poet’s lament about the passing of time and his “manuscripts of unpublished rhyme.” The changing of seasons is a metaphor for the cycle of life, lost opportunities, and all that. Another pretty ballad that is bleak in tone.

Two decades later, The Bangles were asked to contribute a song to the soundtrack of “Less Than Zero,” a movie about drug addiction and wasted lives. The Bangles already performed Simon’s song regularly on stage (shortened to “Hazy Shade of Winter”), so it was the natural choice.

But at the recording session, oddly, their record producer objected to the line “Drinking my vodka and lime.” The Bangles accommodated him by shortening the verse that included itwhich deleted the reference to the poet. These lyrics were cut:

Funny how my memory skips
While looking over manuscripts
Of unpublished rhyme,
Drinking my vodka and lime.

If the deletion irritated Simon, and it probably did, I expect the royalties made up for it. The Bangles’ version was a much bigger hit than the Simon and Garfunkel original.

Bangles

Hazy Shade of Winter

By The Bangles, 1987
Written by Paul Simon

Time, time, time,
See what’s become of me…

Time, time, time,
See what’s become of me
While I looked around
For my possibilities.
I was so hard to please.

Look around.
Leaves are brown,
And the sky
Is a hazy shade of winter.

Hear the Salvation Army band
Down by the riverside.
It’s bound to be a better ride
Than what you’ve got planned.
Carry a cup in your hand.

Look around.
Leaves are brown,
And the sky
Is a hazy shade of winter.

Hang onto your hopes my friend.
That’s an easy thing to say,
But if your hopes should pass away,
Simply pretend
That you can build them again.

Look around.
Grass is high.
Fields are ripe.
It’s the springtime of my life.

Seasons change with their scenery,
Weaving time in a tapestry.
Won’t you stop and remember me.

Look around.
Leaves are brown,
And the sky
Is a hazy shade of winter.

Look around.
Leaves are brown.
There’s a patch of snow on the ground.

Look around.
Leaves are brown.
There’s a patch of snow on the ground.

Look around.
Leaves are brown.
There’s a patch of snow on the ground.

 

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Tune o’ the Day

“Yesterday” by The Beatles is one of the least Beatles-like of their songs, but among the most popular. In 1999, it was voted the best song of the 20th century by BBC Radio. In 2000, MTV and Rolling Stone named it the number one pop song of all time.

Those accolades may be a bit excessive, but the song is still exceptional. “Yesterday” has been covered over 2,000 times, which is amazing.

According to McCartney, the melody came to him during a dream. When he woke up, he hurried to a piano and played it so he wouldn’t forget it. The lyrics, however, weren’t written for another year.

As the months passed, the band gave the song the working title “Scrambled Eggs.” The opening verse was “Scrambled eggs. Oh, my baby, how I love your legs. Not as much as I love scrambled eggs.”

Eventually, Lennon suggested the title Yesterday, which clicked with McCartney, who finally did the rest.

Help!

Yesterday

By The Beatles, 1965
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Yesterday
All my troubles seemed so far away.
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Suddenly
I’m not half the man I used to be.
There’s a shadow hanging over me.
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.

Why she had to go, I don’t know,
She wouldn’t say.
I said something wrong,
Now I long for yesterday.

Yesterday
Love was such an easy game to play.
Now I need a place to hide away.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Why she had to go, I don’t know,
She wouldn’t say.
I said something wrong,
Now I long for yesterday.

Yesterday
Love was such an easy game to play.
Now I need a place to hide away.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Mm mm mm mm mm mm mm.

 

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Tune o’ the Day

Roy Orbison (1936-1988) was an unlikely guy to become a rock star. But his operatic voice was captivating — angelic, otherworldly — and he sang sad songs about unrequited love. (“Pretty Woman” being the exception because he got the girl.)

Most of Orbison’s love songs were melodramatic, sometimes cheesy, yet still beautiful and memorable. A few examples: “Only the Lonely,” “In Dreams,” “Running Scared,” “Dream Baby.”

Then there is the classic “Crying.” Orbison at the top of his game.

Orbison R

Crying

By Roy Orbison, 1962
Written by Roy Orbison

I was all right for a while.
I could smile for a while.
But I saw you last night.
You held my hand so tight
As you stopped to say hello.

Oh, you wished me well.
You couldn’t tell
That I’d been crying
Over you.
Crying
Over you.

When you said so long,
Left me standing all alone,
Alone and crying.
Crying.
Crying.
Crying.

It’s hard to understand,
But the touch of your hand
Can start me crying.

I thought that I was over you,
But it’s true, so true:
I love you even more
Than I did before,
But, darling, what can I do?


For you don’t love me,
And I’ll always be
Crying
Over you.
Crying
Over you.

Yes, now you’re gone,
And from this moment on,
I’ll be crying,
Crying,
Crying,
Crying,
Yeah, crying,
Crying
Over you.

 

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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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