Song of the Week: A Day in the Life

This Song of the Week is “A Day In The Life” by The Beatles.  This song closes out what many consider the Greatest Album of All Time.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band may be the most written about and glorified album ever.  It’s shorthand for good music, as evidenced in sayings like “That album’s OK, but it’s no Sgt. Pepper”  or “When you play high, everything sounds like Sgt. Pepper, no matter how bad it sounds the next morning”[1], or even “that’s like expecting Nickelback to come out with the next Sgt. Pepper“.

I’m pretty sure with all the articles written about this album, there’s nothing I could say that hasn’t been said before.   I’m sure the same could be said for the song.

One thing I don’t think people appreciate is that this music came out long before it was common to make videos, and the songs themselves had to tell stories and create their own images.  Sgt. Pepper surely led the way in that respect.

Footnotes:

[1]  I think I remembered reading this in an issue of Guitar Player magazine.  I also remembered reading in a guitar magazine one of the members of Blind Melon dissing a lot of musicians from the psychedelic era, saying they sucked because “apparently they weren’t doing the same drugs The Beatles were on when they made Sgt. Pepper“.

RIP Ikutaro Kakehashi

In this post we say good-bye and thank you to Ikutaro Kakehashi, the founder of Roland corporation.

Roland is known primarily as a company which makes synthesizers.  They are also known for making drum machines, particularly the TR-808 Rhythm Composer, which has been immensely popular in hip-hop and dance music.  Roland also created the JC-120 Jazz Chorus  amplifier, which is an iconic amp used by Andy Summers of the Police, The Edge of U2, and many others.

Roland also has a division Boss Corporation, which manufactures guitar gear.  If you go to the Guitar Geek Database, you will be hard pressed to find a guitarist without a Boss pedal in their rig.

All of these are pretty huge accomplishments.  However, his contribution which most changed the world was the MIDI Specification, for which he and Dave Smith won a Technical Grammy in 2013.

For those not familiar, MIDI allows musical instruments, effects, and computers to communicate with each other.  It also has been used to control lighting for stage shows.  Most importantly, MIDI allows musicians to use computers as a tool to compose music.

For all these reasons we would like to thank Mr. K. for his contributions and console his loved ones on their loss.

 

Song of the Week: Pretty Pimpin’

The Song of the Week for this week is Pretty Pimpin’ by Kurt Vile.

One of the things I like about this song is that it has a chord progression which is simple, but leaves one with the feeling that something is not right, much like watching an episode of The Twilight Zone where everything seems ok but the viewer knows the twist will be coming where the protagonist is jolted into realizing that everything in his life is wrong.

That off-kilter feeling from the chord progression marries well with the lyrics which paint a vivid picture of disorientation:

Then I woke up one morning
Didn’t recognize the man in the mirror
Then I laughed and I said, “Oh silly me, that’s just me”
Then I proceeded to not comb some stranger’s hair
Never was my style

But I couldn’t tell you what the hell it was supposed to mean
Because it was a Monday, no a Tuesday, no Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
Then Saturday came around and I said “Who’s this stupid clown blocking the bathroom sink?”
But he was sporting all my clothes
I gotta say I’m pretty pimpin’

I’m sure we’ve all had times where we feel like we don’t recognize ourselves anymore, and this song perfectly captures that feeling.  Check it out.

 

Song of the Week: Do You Still Love Me

This weeks song of the week is Do You Still Love Me by Ryan Adams.

Ryan Adams is the sort of artist who isn’t well known outside of record critics or music geeks.  Some people might remember his video which went viral for “Do Miss America” which featured clips of models slipping and falling while walking down the catwalks (my apologies for not being able to find that version of the video).  Others might remember having heard that he released a song by song cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989 album.  Still others might have read that he recently ended his long-term marriage with Rapunzel.

Unfortunately, when you mention his name, most people thing of a singer from the 80s with a similar name.  Which is a shame, because he has quite a few  good songs in his catalog.

“Do You Still Love Me” has a vibe similar to a classic Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song.  It begins with an organ playing chords mournfully, and the band throws in a few stabs to get your attention.  The whole band comes in at the pre-chorus and if you listen closely you can hear a glockenspiel through the chorus.

After the second chorus, the band stops to allow a ratty sounding guitar to take the lead.  This is not an over-practiced display of technicality, but a passionate burst of staccato notes and wiry bends.  The fret noise and amp hum don’t even seem like distractions here, but rather contribute to the overall feeling.  The guitar here is a good example of how a simple instrumental lead can say more in a few seconds than a lot of vocalists can say in the whole song.

If you like this song, you’ll be glad to know that Ryan Adams has been around for a long time and has been pretty prolific at that, so there’s a lot of stuff to look through.

Song of The Week: This Will Be My Year

Every week I will be sharing a song with you.  Sometimes it might be a song that seems really relevant to what is going on; in other cases I might choose it because I think something about it is cool.

This week’s song is “This Will Be My Year” by Semisonic.  It’s one of those songs that at first seems upbeat, but reveals a lot of frustration and disappointment.  The protagonist feels that his efforts in life has exhausted him without much to show.  While he sings “This will be my year” he doesn’t sound confident of it.

Of course, you really do have to believe this will be your year.  Good luck in making it a year of love, health and blessings.