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Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Tune o’ the Day

You gotta love a song that includes the line, “There’s someone in my head, but it’s not me.”

According to Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, he began writing this song several years earlier, when Syd Barrett was kicked out of the band for excessive drug use and mental issues. The tune finally appeared on the album “The Dark Side of the Moon.”

Waters said the famous opening line “The lunatic is on the grass” referred not to marijuana, but to ignoring signs that ask you to keep off the grass. Waters also observed that most of us are mentally unbalanced to some degree and could easily end up meeting on the “dark side of the moon.”

No wonder this tune is a favorite of psychologists and philosophers.

Bonus fact: the laughter sprinkled throughout the song came from Peter Watts, the band’s road manager, who died of a drug overdose in 1976. His daughter is actress Naomi Watts.

Brain Damage

By Pink Floyd, 1973
Written by Roger Waters

The lunatic is on the grass.
The lunatic is on the grass.
Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs.
Got to keep the loonies on the path.

The lunatic is in the hall.
The lunatics are in my hall.
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor,
And every day the paper boy brings more.

And if the dam breaks open many years too soon,
And if there is no room upon the hill,
And if your head explodes with dark forebodings, too,
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.

The lunatic is in my head.
The lunatic is in my head.
You raise the blade. You make the change.
You re-arrange me ’til I’m sane.

You lock the door
And throw away the key.
There’s someone in my head, but it’s not me.

And if the cloudbursts thunder in your ear,
You shout, and no one seems to hear.

And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes,
I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.

https://rockysmith.files.wordpress.com/2021/08/brain-damage.mp3

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In 2000, the song “Things Have Changed” from the movie “Wonder Boys” won Bob Dylan both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for best original song. Dylan said he wrote it because he sympathized with the protagonist in the 1995 novel of the same name.

The story is a black comedy about an author and college professor (Michael Douglas) having an epic midlife crisis. His wife has left him, and his mistress is pregnant. His first novel years earlier was critically acclaimed, but the widely-anticipated second novel eludes him.

He smokes so much weed that he suffers regular blackouts. He is responsible for the death of his boss’s dog. His life is a mess and getting worse, but he soldiers on.

Dylan’s song is a succession of images about hopelessness, futility, and impending doom. It’s a great fit — even though the story somehow stumbles to a happy ending.

Things Have Changed

By Bob Dylan, 2000
Written by Bob Dylan

A worried man with a worried mind.
No one in front of me, and nothing behind.
There’s a woman on my lap, and she’s drinking champagne.
Got white skin. Got assassin’s eyes.
I’m looking up into the sapphire-tinted skies.
I’m well dressed, waiting on the last train.


Standing on the gallows with my head in a noose.
Any minute now, I’m expecting all hell to break loose.

People are crazy, and times are strange.
I’m locked in tight. I’m out of range.
I used to care, but things have changed.

This place ain’t doing me any good.
I’m in the wrong town. I should be in Hollywood.
Just for a second there, I thought I saw something move.
Gonna take dancing lessons, do the jitterbug rag.
Ain’t no shortcuts. Gonna dress in drag.
Only a fool in here would think he’s got anything to prove.


Lot of water under the bridge, lot of other stuff, too.
Don’t get up, gentlemen. I’m only passing through.

People are crazy, and times are strange.
I’m locked in tight. I’m out of range.
I used to care, but things have changed.

I’ve been walking forty miles of bad road.
If the bible is right, the world will explode.
I’ve been trying to get as far away from myself as I can.
Some things are too hot to touch.
The human mind can only stand so much.
You can’t win with a losing hand.


Feel like falling in love with the first woman I meet.
Putting her in a wheelbarrow, and wheeling her down the street.

People are crazy, and times are strange.
I’m locked in tight. I’m out of range.
I used to care, but things have changed.

I hurt easily. I just don’t show it.
You can hurt someone and not even know it.
The next sixty seconds could be like an eternity.
Gonna get low down, gonna fly high.
All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie.
I’m in love with a woman who don’t even appeal to me.


Mr. Jinx and Miss Lucy, they jumped in the lake.
I’m not that eager to make a mistake.

People are crazy, and times are strange.
I’m locked in tight. I’m out of range.
I used to care, but things have changed.

https://rockysmith.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/things-have-changed.mp3

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Tune o’ the Day

The alt-rock band 4 Non Blondes lasted five years, and their first (and only) album “Bigger, Better, Faster, More!” was on the charts for almost a year. Still, the group qualifies as a one-hit wonder because they were known almost solely for the song “What’s Up?”

In all fairness, it’s a memorable tune in which lead singer Linda Perry demands to know “what’s going on?” and calls for revolution.

FYI, the term “what’s up?” isn’t in the song, but Marvin Gaye laid claim to “What’s Going On?” in 1971, so the Blondes had to compromise.

There is some debate about what, exactly, is going on. Some say the song reflects the frustrations of a woman making her way in a man’s world. Also, the song is widely considered a “gay anthem,” inasmuch as Perry is openly lesbian, so there’s that angle. Beyond that, society has plenty more ills to scream about at the top of one’s lungs.

After the group disbanded late in 1994, Perry began a career as a songwriter and record producer that is still going strong. She has produced and written songs for Alicia Keys, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, Pink, KT Tunstall, Brandi Carlyle, Celine Dion, Courtney Love, and Cheap Trick.

She has co-written songs with Adele, Pat Benetar, and Dolly Parton. Plus, she founded two record labels. Perry was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2015. Quite a career.

What’s Up?

By 4 Non Blondes, 1992
Written by Linda Perry

25 years, and my life is still
Tryin’ to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination.

I realized quickly when I knew I should
That the world was made up of this brotherhood of man,
For whatever that means.

And so I cry sometimes when I’m lying in bed,
Just to get it all out, what’s in my head,
And I — I am feelin’ a little peculiar.

And so I wake in the morning, and I step outside,
And I take a deep breath, and I get real high,
And I scream from the top of my lungs,
“What’s going on?”

And I say, hey, yay, yay,
Hey, yay, yay,
I said “Hey — what’s going on?”

And I say, hey, yay, yay,
Hey, yay, yay,
I said “Hey — what’s going on?”

Ooh, ooh,
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh.
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh.

Ooh, ooh,
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh.
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh.

And I try.
Oh, my God, do I try.
I try all the time
In this institution.

And I pray.
Oh, my God, do I pray.
I pray for things all day.
For revolution.

And so I cry sometimes when I’m lying in bed,
Just to get it all out, what’s in my head,
And I — I am feeling a little peculiar.

And so I wake in the morning and I step outside,
And I take a deep breath and I get real high,
And I scream from the top of my lungs,
“What’s going on?”

And I say, hey, yay, yay,
Hey, yay, yay,
I said “Hey — what’s going on?”

And I say, hey, yay, yay,
Hey, yay, yay,
I said “Hey — what’s going on?”

And I say, hey, yay, yay,
(Wake in the morning and step outside)
Hey, yay, yay,
(Take a deep breath, and I get real high, and I scream)
I said “Hey — what’s going on?”

And I say, hey, yay, yay,
(Wake in the morning and step outside)
Hey, yay, yay,
(Take a deep breath, and I get real high, and I scream)
I said “Hey — what’s going on?”

Ooh, ooh,
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh.
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh.

25 years and my life is still
Tryin’ to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination, mmm.

https://rockysmith.files.wordpress.com/2021/03/whats-up.mp3

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I think of “Against the Wind” as a song about aging and how life’s burdens become heavier as we get older. Bob Seger told an interviewer it’s about “trying to move ahead, keeping your sanity and integrity at the same time.” Close enough.

Seger ran cross-country in high school, so the running metaphor came naturally. We also know why he calls the queen of his nights “Janey”: His girlfriend from 1972 until 1983 was Jane Dinsdale.

Against the Wind

By Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, 1980
Written by Bob Seger

It seems like yesterday,
But it was long ago.
Janey was lovely, she was the queen of my nights,
There in the darkness with the radio playing low, and
And the secrets that we shared.
The mountains that we moved.
Caught like a wildfire out of control
‘Til there was nothing left to burn and nothing left to prove.

And I remember what she said to me,
How she swore that it never would end.
I remember how she held me oh, so tight.
Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.

Against the wind.
We were runnin’ against the wind.
We were young and strong.
We were runnin’ against the wind.

The years rolled slowly past,
And I found myself alone.
Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends,
I found myself further and further from my home. And I
Guess I lost my way.
There were oh, so many roads.
I was living to run and running to live,
Never worried about payin’ or even how much I owed.

Moving eight miles a minute for months at a time,
Breaking all of the rules that would bend,
I began to find myself searching,
Searching for shelter again and again.
Against the wind.
A little somethin’ against the wind.
I found myself seeking shelter against the wind.

Well those drifter’s days are past me now.
I’ve got so much more to think about.
Deadlines and commitments,
What to leave in, what to leave out.

(Against the wind) I’m still runnin’ against the wind.
I’m older now but still runnin’ against the wind.
Well I’m older now and still runnin’.
(Against the wind)
(Against the wind)
(Against the wind) Still runnin’.
(Against the wind) I’m still runnin’.
(Against the wind)
(Against the wind) I’m still runnin’.
(Against the wind) I’m still runnin’ against the wind.
(Against the wind) Still runnin’.
(Against the wind) Runnin’ against the wind, runnin’ against the wind.
(Against the wind) See the young man run.
(Against the wind) Watch the young man run.
(Against the wind) Watch the young man runnin’.
(Against the wind) He’ll be runnin’ against the wind.
(Against the wind) Let the cowboys ride.
(Against the wind) Aah!
(Against the wind) Let the cowboys ride.
(Against the wind) They’ll be ridin’ against the wind.
(Against the wind) Against the wind.
(Against the wind) Ridin’ against the wind.

https://rockysmith.net/2013/03/09/tune-o-the-day-30/

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The London new wave band The Dream Academy was formed in the mid-1980s, intending to make their mark using uncommon instruments and sounds. One item on their list was to create a song with an African-style chorus.

They did it in the band’s first, biggest, and only real hit, “Life in a Northern Town.”

Nick Laird-Clowes wrote the lyrics after working in the port city of Newcastle, where many workers were left unemployed when the shipyards closed down. The melancholy feel of the song reflects how the lives of the locals were affected.

The Dream Academy broke up in 1991, but still tours now and then.

The Dream Academy: Kate St. John, Nick Laird-Clowes, and Gilbert Gabriel.

Life In A Northern Town

By The Dream Academy, 1985
Written by Nick Laird-Clowes and Gilbert Gabriel

The Salvation Army band played.
And the children drunk lemonade.
And the morning lasted all day, all day,
And through an open window came,
Like Sinatra in a younger day,
Pushing the town away. Oh.

Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Dee-dew-dee-ny-ya
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Hey-ya
Life in a northern town.
Hey-ma-ma-ma-ma

They sat on the stony ground,
And he took a cigarette out,
And everyone else came down to listen.
He said “In winter 1963,
It felt like the world would freeze
With John F. Kennedy
And The Beatles.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Dee-dew-dee-ny-ya
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Hey-ya
Life in a northern town.
Hey-ma-ma-ma-ma
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Dee-dew-dee-ny-ya
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Hey-ya
All the work shut down.

The evening turned to rain,
Watched the water roll down the drain,
As we followed him down to the station.
And though he never would wave goodbye,
You could see it written in his eyes
As the train rolled out of sight.
Bye-bye.

Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Dee-dew-dee-ny-ya
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Hey-ya
Life in a northern town.

Hey-ma-ma-ma-ma
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Dee-dew-dee-ny-ya
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Hey-ya
Life in a northern town.

Hey-ma-ma-ma-ma
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Dee-dew-dee-ny-ya
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Hey-ya
Life in a northern town.

Hey-ma-ma-ma-ma
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Dee-dew-dee-ny-ya
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Hey-ya

Hey-ma-ma-ma-ma
Take it easy on yourself
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Dee-dew-dee-ny-ya
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Hey-ya

Hey-ma-ma-ma-ma
Take it easy on yourself
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Dee-dew-dee-ny-ya
Hey-oh-ma-ma-ma
Hey-ya

https://rockysmith.files.wordpress.com/2021/01/life-in-a-northern-town.mp3

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In 1989, guns killed about 35,000 Americans, and the band Concrete Blonde releases a song that called out the plague of gun deaths in the United States.

Not much has changed. In 2020, guns killed 41,000 of us. We probably shouldn’t be considered a civilized country.

Concrete Blonde spoke up about problems in society regularly, and I admire them for it. Sad that “God is a Bullet” is still so topical and powerful.

God is a Bullet

By Concrete Blonde, 1989
Written by Johnette Napolitano and James Mankey

There’s a green plaid jacket on the back of the chair.
It’s like a moment frozen forever there.
Mom and Dad had a lot of big plans for their little man.
So proud.
Mama’s gone crazy ’cause her baby’s cut down
By some teenage car chase, war out of bounds.
It was the wrong place, wrong time, wrong end of a gun.
Sad.

Shoot.
Shoot straight.
Shoot.
From the hip, y’all.
Shoot.
Gone forever in a trigger slip.
Well, it could have been,
It could have been your brother.


Shoot.
Shoot straight.
Shoot.
Shoot to kill, yeah.
Blame each other. Well, blame yourself.
You know, God is a bullet.
Have mercy on us everyone.

They’re gonna call me sir. They’ll all stop picking on me.
Well, I’m a high school grad. I’m over five-foot-three.
I’ll get a badge and a gun, and I’ll join the P.D.
They’ll see.
He didn’t have to use the gun they put in his hand.
But when the guy came at him, well, he panicked and ran.
And it’s 30 long years ‘fore they’ll give him another chance.
And it’s sad, sad. Yes, sad.

Shoot.
Shoot straight.
Shoot.
From the hip, y’all.
Shoot.
It’s all gone in a trigger slip.
Well, it could have been,
It could have been your brother.

Shoot.
Shoot straight.
Shoot.
Shoot to kill.
You blame each other. Let’s blame ourselves.
You know, God is a bullet.
Have mercy on us everyone.

Shoot.
Shoot straight.
Shoot.
From the hip, y’all.
Shoot.
Gone forever in a trigger slip.
Well, it could have been,
It could have been your brother.


Shoot.
John Lennon.
Shoot.
Dr. King, yeah,
And Harvey Milk died, and all for goddamn nothing.
God is a bullet.
Have mercy on us everyone.

God is a bullet.
Have mercy on us everyone.

https://rockysmith.files.wordpress.com/2021/01/god-is-a-bullet.mp3

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The song “Dreaming” by OMD has the sad distinction of being the last single by the group’s original members before they split up, as rock bands often do.

Also typically, OMD reunited and is touring again today.

Although the song was a hit and popular with music critics, co-writer Andy McCluskey said he never liked the lyrics, and he wishes the song had never been released. Go figure.

The subject of “Dreaming” is simple enough: some poor guy lamenting unrequited love.

Dreaming

By Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark, 1988
Written by Paul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey

If you were born in heaven girl, I’d understand so well.
But ever since I’ve met you, child, you’ve made my life such hell.
With every day that passes, I fall nearer to the ground.
It seems that I’ve been looking for something that won’t be found.

I was only dreaming.
I was only trying to catch your eye.
I was only wishing you would notice me.
Instead, you said goodbye.

Could this be the new answer, then, to all the dreams we’ve made.
Could there be some solution, please, to rid me of this grace.
But every single second that you held me in your arms,
You build me up, you raise me up, you kill me with your charms.

I was only dreaming.
I was only trying to catch your eye.
I was only wishing you would notice me.
Instead, you said goodbye.


Would you stay with me tonight?
Won’t you make these feelings last?
Can we start this all again?
Would that be just to much to ask?

I was only dreaming.
I was only trying to catch your eye.
I was only wishing you would notice me.
Instead, you said goodbye.

I was only dreaming.
I was only trying to catch your eye.
I was only wishing you would notice me.
Instead, you said goodbye.


https://rockysmith.files.wordpress.com/2020/12/dreaming-omd.mp3


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Tune o’ the Day

Being a devoted fan of 80s alternative rock, I tune out most songs of other genres — hip-hop, country, soul, Italian opera. In the case of hip-hop, I tune it out completely.

But an occasional song in those lesser categories turns out to have merit. Hip-hop excluded, of course. One of those is “Slip Away” by Clarence Carter.

Carter was born in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1936 (he is now 84). He earned a BS in Music in 1960 and began a career as a soul singer. He started out as half of the duo “Clarence and Calvin” with Calvin Scott, but soon went solo.

Although “Slip Away” is one of his best-known songs, his infamous “Strokin’” also gets plenty of attention. “Strokin’” which is too bawdy for radio or TV, found a niche on jukeboxes and in strip clubs.

Slip Away,” I assure you, is safely G-rated.

Slip Away

By Clarence Carter, 1968
Written by William Armstrong, Marcus Daniel, and Wilbur Terrell

What would I give
For just a few moments.
What would I give
Just to have you near.

Tell me you will try
To slip away somehow.
Oh, I need you, darling.
I want to see you right now.

Can you slip away.
Slip away.
Slip away.
Oh, I need you so.

Love, oh, love,
How sweet it is
When you steal it, darling.
Let me tell you somethin’ now.

How sweet it is.

Now I know it’s wrong,
The things I ask you to do.
But please believe me, darling,
I don’t mean to hurt you.

But could you just slip away
Without him knowing you’re gone?
Then we could meet somewhere —
Somewhere where we both are not known.

And just can you slip away.
Slip away.
Slip away.
I need you so.

Oh, can you slip away, baby.
I’d like to see you right now, darling.
Can you slip away now, baby.
‘Cause I got to, I got to see you.
I feel a deep burning inside.

https://rockysmith.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/slip-away.mp3

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Tune o’ the Day

According to members of the Canadian rock band The Guess Who, their 1970 hit “American Woman” is not, as many think, an anti-war song or an attack on U.S. politics (the lines about war machines and ghetto scenes notwithstanding). Rather, it’s a declaration that the guys in the band prefer Canadian girls because they’re nicer.

Lead singer Burton Cummings, who composed the lyrics, described American girls as “well, dangerous,” and after a long tour, “it was a real treat to go home and see the girls we had grown up with.”

Cummings said both the music and the lyrics to “American Woman” were improvised. During a concert, the band paused while guitarist Randy Bachman replaced a broken string. When tuning the guitar, Bachman spontaneously played a riff the band liked.

Before resuming the concert, they paused for a brief jam session based on the riff. Cummings improvised the first of the lyrics on the spot, and the tune was finalized later.

That story seems plausible, considering that neither the melody nor the lyrics are what you’d call deep or sophisticated.

American Woman

By The Guess Who, 1970
Written by Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings, Jim Kale, and Garry Peterson

American woman gonna mess your mind.
American woman, she gonna mess your mind.
Mmm, American woman gonna mess your mind.
Mmm, American woman gonna mess your mind.

Say A
Say M
Say E
Say R
Say I
C
Say A
N, mmm

American woman gonna mess your mind.
Mmm, American woman gonna mess your mind.
Uh — American woman gonna mess your mind.

Uh!

American woman, stay away from me.
American woman, mama, let me be.
Don’t come a-hangin’ around my door.
I don’t wanna see your face no more.
I got more important things to do
Than spend my time growin’ old with you.

Now woman, I said stay away.
American woman, listen what I say.

American woman, get away from me.
American woman, mama, let me be.
Don’t come a-knockin’ around my door.
Don’t wanna see your shadow no more.
Colored lights can hypnotize.
Sparkle someone else’s eyes.
Now woman, I said get away.
American woman, listen what I say, hey.

American woman, I said get away.
American woman, listen what I say.
Don’t come a-hangin’ around my door.
Don’t wanna see your face no more.
I don’t need your war machines.
I don’t need your ghetto scenes.
Colored lights can hypnotize.
Sparkle someone else’s eyes.
Now woman, get away from me.
American woman, mama, let me be.

Go, gotta get away, gotta get away.
Now go, go, go.
I’m gonna leave you, woman.
Gonna leave you, woman.
Bye-bye.
Bye-bye.
Bye-bye.
Bye-bye.

You’re no good for me.
I’m no good for you.
Gonna look you right in the eye.
Tell you what I’m gonna do.
You know I’m gonna leave.
You know I’m gonna go.
You know I’m gonna leave.
You know I’m gonna go, woman.
I’m gonna leave you, woman.
Goodbye, American woman.

https://rockysmith.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/american-woman.mp3

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The career of the late singer/songwriter Bill Withers, best known for “Lean on Me” and “Ain’t No Sunshine,” followed an unusual path. Withers stuttered badly as a child. He joined the Navy at 17 and overcame the stuttering with the help of speech therapy arranged by his commanding officer.

At age 33, Withers left the Navy and released his first album. He went on to win three Grammies, and he was inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

But his music career lasted only from 1970 to 1985. By the early 80s, he was butting heads with the bosses at Columbia Records (he called them “blaxperts”), who wanted to alter his style. When Columbia delayed a new Withers album and released one by Mr. T instead, Withers quit.

Ain’t No Sunshine” won a Grammy in 1971 for Best Rhythm and Blues Song.

Ain’t No Sunshine

By Bill Withers, 1971
Written by Bill Withers

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.
It’s not warm when she’s away.
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone,
And she’s always gone too long,
Anytime she goes away.

Wonder this time where she’s gone.
Wonder if she’s gone to stay.
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone,
And this house just ain’t no home,
Anytime she goes away.

And I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know — hey —
I oughta leave the young thing alone,
But ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.
Only darkness every day.
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone,
And this house just ain’t no home,
Anytime she goes away.
Anytime she goes away.
Anytime she goes away.
Anytime she goes away.

———

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