Saturday, December 26, 2020

Breaking Find -- Bang! -- AJR

OK, one final bonus song for 2020: AJR's Bang. I've liked AJR since they went on tour with Ingrid Michaelson and sang The Lotto with her.

About 10 months ago, they sang this catchy tune. I'll forgive myself for having missed it, given what was going on in my life then. I love this as a theme song for December 2020: it's time to make a change. I'm personally ready to see what 2021 has in store.

I'm including the official song, but I don't like the video yet (it distracted me):

Friday, December 25, 2020

Not Christmas Songs -- Hallelujah -- Pentatonix and Lindsey Sterling

Our last regularly-scheduled song of the year is also one of the most complex: Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. As originally written and played, it was almost an anti-Gospel song, with Biblical references by the secular Jew Cohen throughout the first part of the song, but not correct ones (he mixes David and Bathsheba and Samson and Delilah liberally). There are 70 to 80 different verses to the song in one form or another.

Given the lyrics Cohen sang himself, the original song was a downbeat anti-gospel that had nothing to do with God, and more to do with sex and relationships. Jeff Beckley cleaned it up a bit, but it's been the modern singers and players, especially Pentatonix and Lindsey Sterling, who've given it some pro-God depth (despite Cohen).

I think this is because Cohen wanted to use the depths of dispare to show that calling "let it be so, God" or "Glory to God" at the bottom is cynical. Instead, it is human, and what God wants. When we've failed or we're at the bottom, God wants us calling to Him. If we're getting punished rightly in our sins, or if we're in a terrible position through no fault of our own but because God is with us, the only appropriate thing to say is "Your will, God". Saying "let it be so, God", one meaning of the original Hebrew word for Hallelujah, is what we have to do.

While we can interpret it as pseudo-Gospel song, it's not a Christmas song.

The Pentatonix version:

Lindsey Sterling's version:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas 2020 -- O Come, O Come Emmanuel -- Enya

This had to be number one on my carol list. This song is on the short list of gospel songs that always have the power to make me cry. Unlike many of the other Christmas carols listed, the song is well suited for instrumental and vocal power/energy, and Enya has that in spades. Most of the sounds on the song are her voice being layered out, and if she needs an instrument, she's playing it. It's powerful in English, and just as powerful in the original Latin.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Christmas 2020 -- Silent Night -- Pentatonix

This is Paula's favorite Christmas song. She loved the simplicity of the song, and wanted a simple version of the song. She loved the story that a church lost its organ, and needed a Christmas song that could be played on a single guitar.

I've looked for songs that matched that simplicity. I like Enya's version, but Enya can't do simple; her songs get big without her even trying. Kelly Clarkson has a decent version, but Paula would never forgive me for picking a version with Reba on it.

Back we go to this year's shortstop of Christmas songs: Pentatonix. The five don't over-produce this song. It's clear that they don't do multiple tracks for anyone, and they give a very basic performance that I love.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Christmas 2020 -- Joy to the World -- Blind Boys of Alabama and Aaron Neville

There are a lot of choices for this wonderful song, but the best in my music collection is from the Blind Boys of Alabama and Aaron Neville. Aaron Neville's voice gives the song an incredible lift, and the original singers of the band sing in perfect harmony. It's a rare acappella song out of the Boys. Again, my favorite version of this song.

(Again, no idea why the channel name is "Blind Boys of Mississippi"....

Monday, December 21, 2020

Christmas 2020 - Mary Did You Know - The Hound + The Fox and Cimorelli

I knew that Mark Lowry wrote this song, but I didn't know that there was a controversy (at least, according to Wikipedia) about the song being degrading towards Mary, the "dumb woman" who in reality did know. Let's deconstruct both of those for just a second.

First, the "Mary, did you know" is basically a version of the Socratic method in rhythmic melody. It functions as the repeat frame in the AB, AC, AD, etc. form of repeating used in lots of different musical forms and genres. (Think "Papa Don't Preach", or "Go Tell It On The Mountain" in both songs.)

Also, did Mary know? She might have been able to answer "yes" or "some" to some of the questions, but not all. Remember, Mary and Jesus' brothers came to one of the houses one day, to take him home and stop the ministry. That's not a woman who could answer yes to all the questions. Not even the 12 disciples could answer yes to all the questions until Jesus rose from the dead and then the Holy Spirit became active in their lives. Now, after Pentacost, she could answer yes, but all the church could by then (that's how the brother of Jesus went from being sarcastic about Him to being head elder of the church of Jerusalem).

While searching for alternatives to my first pick, I found a really beautiful version by a couple performing as The Hound + The Fox that bumped the alternatives. So technically, this is also a Breaking Find.

Bonus version: the Cimorelli sisters (performing as Cimorelli) also have a pretty decent acapella version of the song:

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Christmas Satire 2020 -- Good To Be Bad -- Pentatonix

I know I should give Pentatonix a break, but I can't help it. They're good, even when they're being bad. This is a neat new song in the general tradition of Santa Baby and Nuttin for Christmas, and the anti-heroine ends up getting coal for it.

It's a cheerful song showing off Kirstin's singing range (and the rest's abilties in melody) and her and Scott's writing chops.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Not a Christmas Song - Last Christmas - Wham! (et al)

The secular radio stations overplay this song to the point of nausea starting in October. It hits all their checkboxes: it mentions Christmas but has nothing to do with the religious holiday. This song could have easily been about Valentines Day, Guy Fawkes Day, or any two-sylable holiday in general, and there'd be nothing different. It's a generic "you done me wrong" song with Christmas in the title.

If I never hear it again, it'll be too soon.

In fact, I went looking for the most gonzo version of this song so I wouldn't have to hear George Michael again. I was tempted by Miley Cyrus (hard to get more gonzo than her), but I did find a top: Last Christmas being sung by the Band of the National Guard of the Russian Federation:

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Christmas 2020 - Carol of the Bells - Moya Brennan

Carol of the Bells is one of the my most favorite Christmas carols. Many people have made beautiful covers. I happen to love Moya Brennan's version. She used to spell her name Maire Brennan, and she is the lead singer of Clannad. (She's also Enya's older sister.) In addition to her Christian and secular albums, I've collected her An Irish Christmas album, and it includes this incredible rendition of Carol of the Bells.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Christmas 2020 - Good King Wenceslas - Loreena McKennitt

The song is propoganda; Wenceslas I wasn't a king, and the song has nothing to do with reality. He was a good man and a Christian martyr though, and the song is top-shelf. Michaelmas was the day after Christmas (day 2 of the 12 days), so it qualifies as a Christmas song. The last verse of the song also confers some gravitas to the song.

I am fond of Loreena McKennitt's version of the song because it seems more traditional and "older" than a lot of modern versions.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Christmas 2020 - Go Tell It On The Mountain -- Blind Boys of Alabama (Featuring Tom Waits)

The Blind Boys of Alabama were one of Paula's favorite groups. We never did get to hear them live, but any time we found a new show, song, or album, it joined the list of what we listened to. Here, we get to hear the gentlemen sing the wonderful African American spiritual carol Go Tell It On The Mountain.

(I don't know why YouTube has the author as "The Blind Boys of Mississippi". I think it's because the record company created a user to "take over" user videos, and they couldn't be bothered to get it right.)

Monday, December 14, 2020

Christmas 2020 - Christmas Angels - Clannad

This isn't the only newer song on my list, but it is the only one that's from one artist only. Clannad came together and released this song on one of their best-of collections, In A Lifetime. There are some better new songs (Mary, Did You Know is an obvious one), but none of them have Clannad singing them. Moya and crew are at top form, and incredibly beautiful on this song.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Christmas Satire -- Nuttin' For Christmas -- Stan Freberg

There's a subgenre of Christmas songs about kids/people so bad they're not getting presents (Santa Baby is close, Pentatonix's Good To Be Bad is a new addition to the genre). One of the classics is Stan Freberg's Nuttin' For Christmas.

The hero (or should I say anti-hero) of the song admits to any number of tricks and bad acts that would earn him coal in his stockings, even (spoiler alert) helping the robber case the house at the end of the song.

Nothing is exactly what the "hero" of this song deserves.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Not a Christmas Song -- Baby It's Cold Outside - Multiple

First, and most importantly: this is not a "date rape" song. This is a "talk me into it" song, common in the 1950s. The lady wants an excuse to give when confronted later why she didn't come home, but she wants to stay. This is clear when you reverse the parts:

While I think the song is cute, and any "talk me into it" song is quaint in this era of "let me talk all about it", this has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Would You Say Stop? - Acid House Kings

This is another Apple free song that I fell in love with. I don't know why I have kept this in my favorites list; it's a cheesy little pop song with little redeeming value on the surface. However, it's also a happy, cheerful little Sweedish pop tune that gets stuck in your head.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Listen To The Man - George Ezra

When she first started, I never understood how LeeAnn Rhymes could sing as maturely as she did. Rick Astley was very similar. George Ezra is another wonderkind. He sounds 45, but looks 15.

This of course is a romance song, and should be on anyone's list to sing to a romantic interest. I can't say enough about loving this song.

I really wish they'd left Ian McKellan off of this video though.... I like Sir Ian, but not in this video.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Christmas Satire and Better In The Video -- Twelve Pains of Christmas -- Bob Rivers

This is a two for one special, because we have a special video for our Christmas Satire song. I've always adored the Twelve Pains as a Christmas Satire song. Like all good satire, it digs for that button of truth, and then presses hard. As I've heard others mention, I have been the "lights" guy way too often for my taste (and let's not even go into the "five months of bills"...).

While searching for a video for the song, I found the Third Hour TV version. I've never heard of these kids before, but the video they made for this song is hilarious. It compliments the song well and even throws a few jabs of its own, but doesn't try to go too far out on a limb itself. I laughed through the whole thing, and even played it a couple more times.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Not Christmas Songs - White Winter Hymnal - Pentatonix

I'll admit that I'm picking on Pentatonix a bit here, because two of the songs in this list will include their versions. The first is White Winter Hymnal, which I first heard off of That's Christmas To Me. It's a vaguely winter song, but nothing in it has anything to do with Christmas. The author (Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold) generally disclaims a conclusive meaning to the song, but that the lyrics tell a story. (Figure that one out....) The concensus is that there's a general allusion to the loss of innocense for the singer, but it's high allegory, and nothing related to Christmas.

The Pentatonix version is pretty though.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Breaking Find -- Today Is The Saviour’s Day -- Rand Collective

Thanks to Valerie Vanover for this link. I'd never heard Rand Collective before. I am fixing that one after Christmas.

This is an excellent modern Christmas carol that respects tradition without blindly following or stealthfully mocking them. I love it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

On My Knees - Nicole C Mullen

I first heard this song when I discovered K-Love. While I haven't been able to stick with CCM music, this song has stayed in my favorites playlist. There are many times when I have had to get on my knees, and will do so again.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Breaking Find - Christmas in Dixie -- Home Free and Alabama

This is the ultimate breaking find, because Home Free just released it today. Alabama sings their hit song Christmas in Dixie, with Home Free on backup vocals and "instruments".

The most bittersweet part of this for me was Jeff Cook. I was unaware that Mr. Cook was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2013, and has been public about it (and semi-retired) since 2017. As is clear from the video, he is impared by his illness. However, Randy and Teddy have been clear that Jeff Cook is in Alabama, and will be on stage with the band whenever he wants. Mr. Cook clearly wanted to be on stage for this song. I am impressed by the physical and mental strength shown just to be on that stage and able to sing as much as he can in year 7 of Parkinson's.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Dreams -- The Cranberries

This song came out as I was a sophomore in college, and one of my nighttime habits on campus was listening to the radio (and calling the nighttime DJ at WKQQ to play Roy Orbison, which they all refused to do). I've listened to The Cranberries since then, and Dolores O'Riordan has only grown over the years. She and the band were only a couple of years older than I was, so it was especially hard to hear that she drowned due to alcohol intoxication.

Dreams is a haunting song about love, and one's first love in specific. Even 25+ years later, I still love hearing it pop up on the playlist.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Christmas Satire -- Dropkick Murphys -- The Season's Upon Us

Warning: Video is PG-13 or worse. Funny, but adult themes do happen. Also, to quote John Prine, "This song is completely non-autobiographical. It has nothing to do with my family."

The strongest unintended tradition in the extended Rankin household was the Adult Table. My grandfather, his brothers and sisters, and their spouses ate in the dining room at the adult table. At first, the adult table was a mystery to the kids, and kids are always attracted to mystery. Then some of us got towards adulthood, and some of the older adults passed or were unable to come, and we got our chance. To get stuck getting quizzed and lectured by Uncle Russell. Voluntarily choosing the adult table was only done once. Recently, the last of my grandfather's generation has passed away or is unable to come to Christmas, and the adult table is now just my mother's dinner table or dad's cousin's dinner table, and there's nothing particularly bad about being at the adult table.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Not Christmas Songs -- Jingle Bells

This song is a winter song, or more importantly a Thanksgiving song. It was written for a Thanksgiving play, for a time when Thanksgiving to Christmas was hard winter. These days, most of the US is "lucky" to have any winter conditions at all in December.

That said, it's a catchy, fun song with a lot of versions. I happen to be fond of the one by the Brian Setzer Orchestra myself:

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Best of All Possible Worlds -- The Little Willies

I always loved the title of this song. The Little Willies (Norah Jones and crew) are covering a drinking song by Kris Kristofferson. I have a weakness for drinking songs, but I've always liked the concept that this really is the Best of all possible worlds. It's a positive outlook, and one that should encourage us during stuff that's not so good.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Breaking Find -- Sometimes I -- Rising Appalacha

For the first time in weeks, YouTube actually delivered a good new song. I hadn't heard of Rising Appalacha when I listened to this song. The sisters Chloe and Leah Smith are persuing an independent music career in the intersection of world, folk, and soul music.

This is a pretty song I've had on repeat all day. It's definitely going into my favorites lists, and the rest of their albums are getting added to my Library.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Demento November - Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take The Garbage Out - Shel Silverstein

I had a lot of choices here. There are some really strong candidates on this album. There's Star Trekkin', The Time Warp, and Steve Martin's King Tut. Julie Brown's "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun" was such accurate satire that it became a little too real in the late 90s. Der Fuehrer's Face and Fish Heads are both interesting choices too. However, I want to focus on a rarer track.

Shel Silverstein had an interesting drawing, writing, and songwriting career. He is most famous for "Where The Sidewalk Ends", but he also wrote "25 Minutes to Go" and "A Boy Named Sue" for Johnny Cash, and "The Cover of the Rolling Stone" (and most of Dr. Hook's early songs). This song he recorded for himself. He sounds a lot like Mark Hamell forgot his cough drops before jumping into the time machine for the early 1970s. It also sounds a lot like one of his children's books being read.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Breaking Find - Rise - Caroline Jones

Not only is this a breaking find for me, but I found it before Wesley. Again, it happens so rarely. Also, YouTube has not been suggesting new songs for a while, and it's irritating me. I'm afraid they're breaking the web service trying to force people onto YouTube Music.

The song and the video is both beautiful, and it's an incredibly uplifting song. I've added it to my favorites playlist already, and added her album to the Apple Music collection.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Lost Boy -- Ruth B

So far Ruth is a one-hit wonder, but I really hope that doesn't continue. She is a really good singer, and this is a neat song. It's clearly a retelling of Peter Pan from the perspective of one of the lost boys, and Ruth B makes you feel the lonliness of the boy and then the sense of inclusion.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Just Preach Jesus -- Kingdom Heirs

Another free Amazon song, this is an incredible gospel song by an interesting gospel quartet. This was the only song I really liked off the compilation, so I kept it in my favorites collection, and that was about it.

It ends up that The Kingdom Heirs essentially acted as a "house band" for Silver Dollar City in Pigeon Forge, and stayed on when it became Dollywood. The group has had a numerous rotation in its membership, but still focuses on singing gospel songs at Dollywood and a limited touring schedule.

Back to the message: I love the simplistic message of this song. We can sometimes get wrapped up in getting complex. When in doubt, just preach Jesus; the rest of the gospel will follow.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Lady In Red -- Chris de Burgh

Say hello to an old friend. I had to go obtain this one hit wonder from the 80s after I heard it again in 2011. A lot of people don't like it or think it's overwrought. I don't. I think it's incredibly sweet and positively sentimental, and always did (even before I got married myself).

I have to admit to one fault: the song is about de Burgh remembering what his wife was wearing the first time they met, unlike most people. Like me. I was and am usually clueless about people's clothing. (One time I had to call the police on someone harassing walkers, and was asked what he was wearing. "Um, clothes....").

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Logical Song - Supertramp

A lot of people are unable to pick a specific time when you transitioned from thinking like a child to thinking line a young adult. You may be able to remember thinking "how did I change", or you may just look back and know it did change. I've always loved this song because it captures that feeling of "how exactly did I head down the path to becoming a responsible adult, anyway?"

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Demento November -- Poisoning Pigeons In The Park - Tom Lehrer

The song is inspired by Boston's program in the 50s of poisoning pigeons to control population. Of course, Tom Lehrer had to run with it.

Tom Lehrer became famous for his satirical songs with excellent melodies (that, unlike other satirists, he usually created himself), but this is one of his early works from the fifties. The Wikipedia story goes that the pianist came to the studio not knowing the song, and his sheet music was untitled. He read the music and thought "This is a neat, simple, cute waltz." Then the engineer goes "take 1 for Poisoning Pigeons in the Park", and he fell off his stool in shock.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Burning Down The House - Tom Jones and The Cardigans

There's no use trying to make sense of this song. David Byrde just said stuff that sounded good together. There really isn't a theme at all.

However, this cover is part of a theme. Tom Jones went to musicians he liked, and said "I want to do a duet with you. Pick a producer you like, and let's do a song in your general style; I just want to sing."

This makes a song that's an interesting mix of Jones' hamming and the Cardigans' indie pop. (The video is even more gonzo, but it doesn't improve the song enough to make it a Better in the Video song.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Next To Me - Emeli Sande

This is another Paula song that I downloaded for free from when Apple was giving away music, but I've grown to love Ms. Sande's singing. In this case, this is a song from a woman who knows that her man will be at her side no matter what. I always worked to live up to that kind of standard....

(Supposedly Taylor Swift wrote a song that sounds a lot like the beat of this one. Shame on her.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

1000 Ships (Acoustic) - Rachel Platten

I am so proud of myself: I have out-hipstered Wesley Hope. I knew about this song before Wesley did. Wesley heard it in 2018, and I downloaded this one from NoiseTrade in 2017. It happens so very rarely; I have to take my wins when they come.

I usually don't include multiple versions of the same song, much less multiple versions of the same song by the same artist, in my favorites playlist. However, the Acoustic version we're covering today is sufficiently different from the original "all instruments" that I like both separately on their own merits. We'll talk about the other version when it comes around on the guitar.

This song is an incredibly sweet song about love and caring for someone, and wishing that that person were with you. Like Long Monday, I can't help but think about that 15 months that Paula and I did long distance dating.

The best part for you: I downloaded this song from NoiseTrade, and it's STILL free over there. Go to and listen to it. You'll then need to log in to download the song, but do it. Then go buy everything else she's ever made.

(The version in this video isn't identical, but it's pretty close. Again, go download the identical song.)

Monday, November 9, 2020

Breaking Find -- Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) - Pentatonix

Last week, Pentatonix released their version of Amazing Grace. It's not the best I've ever heard (it's missing the "Ten Thousand Years" verse), but it's very very good.

Pentatonix is most certainly a secular band, and most of the members are not orthodox Christian (although Kentucky-born and GSA alum Kevin Olusola and new member Matt Sallee are professing Christians). However, they've performed very orthodox Christian songs (Mary, Did You Know and How Great Thou Art) very well. This song fits that pattern.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Demento November -- Ti Kwan Leep -- The Frantics

I absolutely adore this skit (it's attached to a song on the Dr. Demento album, but the song is actually separate on the original album). It works as an effective satire making fun of all of the martial arts movies and "wise sensai" tropes. There's not much more I can say about it other than to tell you to listen:

Friday, November 6, 2020

Christian Music Week: Elijah by Rich Mullins

I have enough songs for a Christian Music Month, and a Rich Mullins Fortnight, so we'll definely come back and do this again. However, we can't go past Friday without mentioning Rich Mullins' theme song: Elijah.

This life is a gift, and we're supposed to consider it a gift from God, but it's not our home. When God calls us, we're supposed to be ready to go and look forward to leaving to be with him.

It reassures me greatly that those who have gone ahead of us consider this life like a "candlelight in Central Park", and that I have a place there when it's my time too.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Christian Music Week : Nothing But The Blood - Jars of Clay and The Blind Boys of Alabama

If I were forced to pick one album, and one album only, to take on a desert island, I pick Redemption Songs by Jars of Clay. It's 13 of the old classic hymns, respectfully converted into modern (but still timeless) versions.

Nothing But The Blood is an excellent sample from the album. The message is plain and accurate: there is nothing that can cleanse us from sin except the Blood of Jesus. The harmonies of the Blind Boys of Alabama (some of the best singers in the world) just add to a wonderful arrangement and excellent singing and instrumentation of Jars of Clay themselves.

I adore listening to this song, and to this album.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Christian Music Week: Shortstop - Steve Taylor (from Roaring Lambs)

I wasn't at all familiar with whom Steve Taylor is. I just knew that this song (as well as Akehlulek Ubaba) off Roaring Lions weren't your ordinary CCM songs. Shortstop tells the story about how a lot of Christians are willing to be satisfied with not trying, not improving, not getting better, and relying on those few Christian superstars who fill in the gaps (whether at church or in the world in general).

It's good that God calls up shortstops in our lives to help us, but our goal should be to be able to be one of the star players in our community that other people look up to.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Christian Music Week (extra songs): The Jesus Demos and The Jesus Records

Since I posted a song this morning, I'm going to also post a double album as a bonus feature this evening. Rich Mullins was working on this concept album when he died, and the Demos were recorded on a tape player a few days before his death. While his friends got together and recorded the Records versions of the songs, a very good sound engineer used then-cutting edge software to clean up the demos to their current state.

This is an "extras"; we will come back and discuss My Deliverer and That Where I Am (at least) in future posts. However, the entire 2 albums are worth listening to if you've never heard them before.

(Note that this is a 19 song playlist. You might want to click through to YouTube...()

Christian Music Week: Creed by Third Day

I know that there's a "newsworthy" event today. I'm going to ignore it completely. I even wrote this post early so that I could post it when the day starts, so you'd have a chance to see it during the day.

Rich Mullins wrote this song, and his version is very good, but Third Day rocks it. It's strange to call a singing version of the Apostle's Creed a rocker, but Third Day is good at doing stuff like this.

I am a believer in the Restoration Movement, also known as the Stone-Campbell movement. The Restoration Movement believes in the unification of the denominations, and that there are "no creeds but Christ". Creeds like the Apostle's Creed or the Nicene Creed.

Even so, I used this song as the start of one of my lessons to the high schoolers a couple of years ago, and I will do so again. Here's one English translation of the Apostle's Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of the saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
If you're reading this post, I want to ask you two questions:
  • Do you believe that each of these sentences are accurate and literally true?
  • Are you living your life so that each person who meets you would be able to say "I'm more inclined to believe those 12 statements because of X"?
If you can't answer yes to the first question, you need to find a Christian whom you can trust to find out what you need to turn that no into a yes. (I am quite willing to help with that as needed, and can refer you to others who are better at explaning it than me if needed.)

If you're having trouble with answering yes for number 2, then go to a Christian small group and ask for prayer and mentoring. There are probably items in your life that you need their help identifying that are interfering with your walk with Christ.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Christian Music Week: Come Save - Sarah Reeves

When I hear this song, I cry. It is a "we song" (there's a lot of I's and we's in it), but it's a sorrowful, repentant we song. Sarah cries for God's mercy and his repentance in the face of our sinfulness. To quote the second verse and the chorus:
Addicted to our pride, come save
Consumed in self delight, come save
Break us and free us from these chains
We desperately need Your grace

Your sons and Your daughters cry for You
The waves of the waters reach for You
And all of creation rises up and screams out Your name
Oh Lord

I have no problem starting the week out by crying out to the Lord.

Christian Music Week

I was considering making a theme week this week, because of the election, and then even making a Christian theme week. However, I just hit shuffle on the Music app, but up pops Shortstop from the great album Roaring Lions. I guess God wants Christian Music week...

(Yes, we'll cover Shortstop Wednesday.)

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Demento November -- The Ballad of Irving -- Frank Gallop

With all of the seriousness in the world right now, let's listen to something a little lighter.

I refuse to start talking about Christmas songs until December, so I decided to break out an album I was introduced to in college. A friend of mine played the second CD of Dr Demento's 20th Anniversary Collection, and I thought it was hilarious. Then I mostly forgot about it until I just happened to find a copy of the album (missing CD 1, interestingly enough) at Half Price Books. We'll talk about 4 of the funny songs off this album, and then come back to songs that tend to get played in December on 11/29.

The first I'll talk about is The Ballad of Irving. This is a satire song inspired directly by Lorne Greene's song "Ringo", although it makes fun of all of the Western character ballad songs. Irving is the 142nd fastest gun in the west, and not very good at that. He doesn't even get a heroic ending....

Friday, October 30, 2020

Don't Worry, Be Happy - Bobby McFerrin

Listen to this song without singing along. I dare you.

You can't. You may think it's silly. You may think it's stupid. You WILL sing along.

Both Paula and I always adored this song. While it's a secular song, I also think it's a very Christ-like song. God is aware of our needs, and wants to be able to meet them. It is sinful for us to fret about what we'll wear, or what we'll eat, or whether we will get this disease or that disease, because we are in God's hand.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Mummers' Dance - Loreena McKennitt

Everyone's heard this song at one time or another, but a lot of people don't know where or why. I had to find this album again in the clearance rack, but when I did it went back into my favorites pile quickly. Ms. McKennitt is also in my "collect everything" list (and I'm very close).

I love the pseudo-Celtic, medieval sound of the song. You can listen to the song, and imagine going across the moors with the actors, essentially begging for extra food and money to suppliment the year's crops and wages.

(I had to skip the official video because the audio track on it is a terrible version. You're stuck with an audio-only version.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Another Way To Die -- Jack White and Alicia Keys

For a lot of people, this is a forgetable theme song from a forgettable Bond. Quantum of Solace suffers from second-child syndrome. It wants to introduce Spectre, but can't (because they don't own the rights yet). It wants to expand upon this underworld empire that appeared in Casino Royale, and it does some, but it also tries to tie too neat a bow on that group too.

I'm not sure why people dislike Another Way to Die. It's guitar-heavy for a Bond song (I'd rather have heard trumpets), but Alicia can keep up with many of the Bond singers, and Jack White can hold his own here. It's not great, but it's catchy and I like to sing along with it, and that's enough.

Monday, October 26, 2020

I Don't Have A Name For It -- Steam Powered Giraffe

This is another Wesley band, and I love their stuff. They play as a neo-steampunk band (they're supposedly robots created about a hundred years ago), but their songs are all over the place.

I like how this song describes the two people. I always considered this a "Paula" song as well, and I would never consider dating anyone else if I couldn't feel the same way about her as the singer feels about his love.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Better In The Video -- Weapon Of Choice -- Fatboy Slim

We're going to conclude our current set of Better In The Video weekend specials with my favorite video of all time, Weapon of Choice.

The song: This song is about Doom. The main character has a voice implant that's a weapon. Walk without rhythm, and you won't attract the sandworms. Etc. The song is neat and rhythmic, but I wouldn't have fallen in love with it like I have.

The video: Thriller by Michael Jackson was important to the music industry and to music videos, but it's more like a movie novella than a music video. Weapon of Choice is an incredible video that has little to do with the song, but makes the song an incredible statement about travel and trying to break free from the monotony.

Christopher Walken plays "the business traveler". There is little more mind-numbing than business travel. You're flying to the same airport, driving the same rental car to the same hotel in the same business district, with the same fast food restaurants around you. It is practically impossible to keep it from feeling soul-crushing. Then the traveler starts dancing to the song.

Apparently, Spike Jonez and the film crew shut down an LA Marriott at 3AM to film this video, and it shows. Walken himself created much of the dance moves (he got a coreography credit), and he did practically every move in the video despite being about 57 (you can catch a stand-in on some of the roughest stunts).

And then he jumps off the balcony around 2:54. Jonez and Walken had to go to a wire harness company that specialized in green screen flying, and then they digitized the lobby of the hotel to stick Walken back into it. However, Walken really is bouncing from wall to wall in the green screen room at 2-3 stories up, and that sheer look of amazement and joy wasn't made up.

In the end, the traveller has to end the trip into the fantasy world, and return to his chair.

Walken loved doing this video so much that he considers it a highlight of his career, and tried to turn down his paycheck (his agent finally said "I need to get paid"...). Walken even went on the MTV Music Awards that year to accept the coreography award the video won.

Friday, October 23, 2020

It's Probably Me - Sting and Eric Clapton

From the era when Eric Clapton was writing everything, this is the ultimate buddy song from the third best buddy movie, Lethal Weapon 3. I like the theme of friendship in the song, and Clapton's guitar work is better than average. It has stayed in my favorites collection a long time.

Sting re-recorded this song without Claption et. al., but I don't like that version nearly as well....

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Breaking Find -- Can't Find My Way Home -- Bonnie Raitt, Lowell George, et. al.

This is a 2015 release, but I just found out about it a few minutes ago, so I'm sharing. My other post for tonight gets moved to Monday.

In 1972, Bonnie Raitt, Lowell George, John Hammond, etc. were all together at Ultra-Sonic Studios, recorded for a live broadcast on WLIR. I'm still looking for the actual recording for sale (it does exist), but the Internet Archive has a hissy version of it up here. (Given the transmission path on the 2nd CD of one commercial version, the Internet Archive version may be the best version there is.)

This isn't the only version of Can't Find My Way Home she's done, but it's awfully good, and it's good company.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

If I Had a Heart - Fever Ray

This is Wesley's favorite song. (Just ask her.)

No, not really, she actually hates it. This is one of my "creepy songs" that came about because I received the video free on iTunes. I thought the video is very artistic, and the song is neat too. Even if Wesley makes me turn it off if she's there to listen to it.

Friday, October 16, 2020

El Shaddai - Amy Grant

I am conflicted by this recording. The song as written is spectacular. It was one of the first contemporary Christian recordings that I fell in love with, and I still love the recording today. The lyrics are simple, powerful, and praise God unabashedly with zero "I"s.

My problem is that I love the song, and I love this recording, but Amy Grant is still unqualified to be in a public leadership roll as a Christian. I don't object to her "going pop"; she's free to sing what she wants and is lead to do. However, she is still unrepentant about divorcing Gary Chapman and marrying a divorced Vince Gill. Her divorce may have been unavoidable; I will not claim to know the details enough to make an opinion. I do know that doesn't excuse a marriage to Gill, who probably wasn't eligible to remarry himself either.

This all can be repented from, and I wouldn't dare judge Ms. Grant's salvation. However, IMHO it does disqualify her from any form of leadership in Christian ministry, and that includes gospel music. I won't listen to her new albums or buy anything she participates in otherwise.

However, there are no alternatives IMHO. Michael Card is an incredible songwriter, but he's not in Amy Grant's league as a singer. The cover by Eden's Bridge is just not the same, and I can't bare to even try to find the Pat Boone version. Most non-commercial covers on YouTube have mediocre recording qualities (one exception is below). Therefore, I present the original version of El Shaddai by Amy Grant:

As a bonus, the one non-commercial version I've found that I liked, by a musician named Hannah Milchak. I can't put this in the favorites playlist because she doesn't sell her music or give it away for downloads. Here it is on YouTube though:

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Tools For the Soul -- Danny Flowers featuring Emmylou Harris

Danny Flowers is an example how one song can make a songwriter. He's the writer for Tulsa Time, and between Clapton's version and the various covers, he's got enough money to do what he wants for the rest of his life.

In 2007, Danny Flowers decided to record a Christian-themed album that Paula discovered, and then of course sent me to download. The lead song for that album is Tools For the Soul. Paula loved this album. The entire album is worth listening to (especially the "hidden" end track after "I Was A Burden"), but Tools For The Soul has entered and stayed in my favorites playlist.

(I was going to link to a live version, but Emmylou was having issues that day, and it wasn't very good.) You're "stuck" with the album version.

Bonus second song: the hidden end track from YouTube. Listen to it, then skip back to I Was a Burden:

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Rusty Cage -- Johnny Cash

Yesterday was a song that I thought was a cover, and wasn't. Today we listen to Johnny Cash cover a Soundgarden song, and take it completely over. This was a heavy metal guitar-fest that Mr. Cash (backed by Petty and most of the Heartbreakers) managed to completely make his own.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Old Friend - The O. C. Supertones

Our old friends the OC Supertones are back, with the song Old Friend. I always thought that this was a modified cover (like Christian groups singing "Spirit in the Sky"), but it seems I was wrong. This song sounds like several 60s songs, but appears to be unique to the Supertones.

I'm just happy to listen to it again while typing this up for you.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Needs to Be a Video - Last Night -- Traveling Wilburys

Listen to the song, and then visualize this script:

Prelude and First verse:The song starts with The Hero singing at the bar, flashing back to The Hero selling 3 of 4 gold coins to Mr Big (Mr. Big wants all 4). The Lady is walking around the bar, until she comes up to the Hero and whispers in his ear. Orbison's second verse: The camera is pointed out the window to the party in the street, then pulls back to a romantic moment in the bedroom, and steam dripping onto the dresser mirror.

a Petty's third verse: set up next verse

a Orbison's fourth verse: the Lady pulls a knife on The Hero and wants the fourth coin.

a Fifth verse: the Hero is back at the bar, drinking a whiskey. He tosses the fourth coin to the bartender ("to pay for the mess"), and drives his motorcycle off into the sunset.

Song Ending: The bartender goes up to The Hero's room. The door is shut, and the bloody knife is sticking out of the door.

Fade out to the Hero driving into the sunset.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Vacation Day 5 -- Jet Airliner — Steve Miller Band

I really tried to come up with a fifth story, mostly about flying, but I just couldn't manage to come up with something that wasn't mean or nasty. I used to be OK with flying, but I had managed to not fly from about 1999 or so until after 2010, and I have maybe flown 10 times since then.

s I am not a fan of the city of Atlanta, and I hate having to make a connection in ATL. This is the first time I've actually driven into ATL, and I don't want to do that again.

The song Jet Airplane went with the day though.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Vacation Fiction Day 4 -- You're Beautiful - James Blunt

When you reach my age, you start keeping track of the gas left in the tank, and you keep track of how long you have before needing the bathroom. I was driving I-65 north at 0-dark-30, and both were starting to hit the warning signs. Just as I passed the sign saying "Exit 57 return ramp is closed", the radio started playing "You're Beautiful". Great, my prostate's trying to do a fandango on my bladder, the next gas station is miles down the road, and I get to hear Mr. Millenial whine because he saw a pretty girl while stoned out of his head, and how they had a cosmic connection for five minutes. I almost threw up my Baconator.

Finally, there's a gas station, and I can pull in. Gas first, bathroom second. Yes, it was a mistake, but it sounded good at the time. I'm hurrying to pull up the mask and turning the corner to the bathrooms, barely noticing that there's no one in my way. After a few minutes in the restroom, I stop by the water cooler for another bottle, and the candy bin for cherry slices or orange slices. Then I look up.

I think I owe the idiot Blunt an apology. I looked up into the kindest, most gentle pair of eyes I have ever seen, and she smiled kindly to me. I couldn't tell you her name, what color her eyes were, or what she was wearing. I don't even know what city we were in. At that moment, all I could think is "Boy, she is beautiful.".

Then I paid my bill, told her "Thank you", and drove off into the night.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Vacation Fiction Day 3 - I Don't Care -- Darius Rucker and Brad Paisley

It's Saturday, 4PM on the beach, Spring Break week 3. I'm sitting on a chair near the water line, keeping warm and trying to soak up the last rays of sun before I have to leave and go home. The circus is in full force, and I'm not sure I want to come back.

Then I look to my left, and just stop.

I've seen a lot of strange sights involving alcohol. I've watched an old man wash a bucket of KFC down with Jack straight out of the bottle. I've seen thousand dollar wine and Mad Dog 20/20, and never seen either help their owners. This young man took them all.

He was walking down the beach at the slow, rolling gait of someone one drink away from holding the ground with both hands to keep from falling off. One sandal had survived the exercise, but the other was gone to the wind. He was carrying the dregs of a $10 plastic gallon of cheap scotch in one hand, but his precious treasure was in the other hand.

He was dragging a white plastic card table like it was a pirate's chest. Three of the legs were gone, and every usable surface of the top and bottom were covered with Sharpie signatures. He must have spent all week partying and collecting names. Now he was almost out of time, almost out of whiskey, and almost out of places to sign, but he wasn't quite done yet.

I watched him heading down the island towards Mobile, dragging his prized possessions off to his next destination.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Vacation Fiction Day 2 -- When The Coast Is Clear -- Jimmy Buffett

George loved Orange Beach, and he hated crowds. Vacations were such sweet torture. Nearly every inch of beach at Orange Beach had high rise condos, so the ocean beaches stayed covered in people year round. If he had liked Gulf Shores, he could have at least gone to the part of the island that was only houses, but it wasn't the same. It wasn't Orange Beach.

Then George's chance came. The Chinese took a page from the Russian book: if you can't come up with the technology yourself, steal it from the Americans. If there was a man from whom one could steal a super-virus, it was George. His work on engineering viruses for cancer treatment was the best in the world, and the easiest to weaponize. When the CIA found out that the Chinese wanted it, they asked George to help them give the Chinese broken information. The Chinese were barely able to make something infectious before they accidentally released the virus in Wuhan.

Of course George got the call when the US started making a vaccine, and that's when his plan could go into motion. His vaccine introduced a small gene into the population that made you vulnerable to the next virus. Three months later, George made a few plane trips...

George looked out across the white, empty sand. The manditory evacuation orders had sent the tourists running, and most residents had left or died at home as well. This pesky raspy cough and shortness of breath was an annoyance, but he had plenty of time to deal with that. The coast was clear, after all.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Vacation Fiction Day 1 -- It's Five O'Clock Somewhere -- Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett

I've seen the same four walls for 93 days straight. My wife is one room over, fighting with her boss over a report that no one will ever read about a product no one will ever buy. The kids have finished what they're pretending is school these days, and they were fussing about whether to watch Disney or PBS.

It wouldn't take much to open that box hidden in my underwear pile and simply lubricate this problem away. I'm not an alcoholic, after all, haven't had much of anything to drink since college. It was always more fun to watch the other idiots get drunk than spend the next morning hugging the toilet myself.

Nah. Alan does have a point; I think I need a vacation, and now's just as good as a time as any. Click on Skype here, and send the boss "Feeling sick; need to take the rest of the day off". I close the laptop before he can respond.

"Kids, grab a basketball and your mother, and let's go up to the park"

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Fiction Week — Vacation Songs

I have a travel playlist I listen to every time I head towards Gulf Shores. I also listened to my normal playlist, and a couple of albums I'd downloaded recently. When I started thinking about this week's posts, I decided to try something different: song-inspired short stories.

Be aware that they are all fiction, and I'm not going to even claim I like them all...

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Better In the Video -- Groove Is In The Heart -- Deee-Lite

The Song: I'm a sucker for 90s alt-pop, in the B-52/They Might Be Giants vein. This is a neat proto-electronica techno pop song that has an interesting dance beat.

The Video: One YouTube commenter hits the nail on the head: it's a 90s video that looks like an 80s video, pretending to be a 70s video. It is an incredible fusion of funk and techno to go along with the song. It also doesn't hurt any that Lady Miss Kerr has the Diana Rigg style catsuit thing going on....

Amazon Associates Links for World Clique: CD MP3

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

I Go To Extremes — Billy Joel

I have to admit: I have been on a multi-year burnout of Billy Joel. If I hear Piano Man on the radio, I turn the channel. However, I have this song in my playlist, and I heard it pop up for this list, and I refused to skip it on the list. So, let's go face the man.

Listening to the song again, it's an interesting package that wraps Billy Joel up in a bow. It's definitely a 80s/90s borderland pop hit, and it's prretentious like a lot of songs were. Joel says he wrote it to apologize to Christie Brinkley about how he was all over the place; a lot of critics point out it identifies undiagmosed bipoloar disorder.

If you like Billy Joel, you'll like this one. If not, you won't.

(I will come back later with a purchase link; I am away from the computer.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Wake Me Up -- Avicii

Wesley turned me on to this song, and I adored it from the start. I was too old to be the target audience, but I like the lines:
So wake me up when it's all over
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself, and I
Didn't know I was lost
There's times even today when I wish I could wait until I'm wiser and older. Like I tell the High School class at church sometimes, "Somehow I turned around and people started thinking I was a responsible adult."

Amazon Associates Links for True: CD MP3

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Better in the Video -- Crazy -- Gnarls Barkley

The song: I love this song. The imagery is strong, and it gets its point across without dragging out. I have to respect someone brave enough to sing "You're crazy, just like me"....

The video: Someone tripped on acid while looking at an inkblot test. It's the only explanation.

The video takes images of Ceelo and Danger Mouse (the two people in Gnarls Barkley), as well as the anamorphic mouse character representing Danger Mouse, and mix them in with ink blot madness. It's the perfect mix of imagery to go with the song's message that living the way that his heros were is crazy.

Amazon Associates Links for St. Elsewhere: CD MP3

Friday, September 25, 2020

Radioactive -- Pentatonix and Lindsey Stirling

I was following Lindsey Stirling on YouTube when this video popped up. It was the first time I'd ever heard of Pentatonix, and it certainly isn't the last.

I am not a fan of the original version of Radioactive, but this version is incredible. Pentatonix yields their "no instruments" general rule to allow Kevin (a Kentucky native and GSA alum) to play his cello along with Lindsey's violin. It makes an incredible combination.

Amazon Associates Links for PTX: CD MP3

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Desert Rose -- Sting featuring Cheb Mami

(Looks like this didn't show up right Thursday night...)

I have to agree with the YouTube commentators who complain that Cheb Mami (the Arabic singer) didn't get even a Featuring credit on this song. His singing ability makes this song, and he easily keeps up with Sting. He should have received official credit, and I'm giving it here.

The mix of Arabic and Sting's lyrics make a very beautiful song that stands the test of time.

Amazon Associates Links for Brand New Day: CD MP3

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Electric Avenue -- Eddy Grant

I suppose this is one of the earliest electronica songs I can remember. Reading Wikipedia, it was apparently inspired by the 1981 Brixton Riots and the poverty in the immigrant neighborhoods around Electric Avenue in the London, England area.

Amazon Associates Links for The Very Best Of Eddy Grant - Road To Reparation: MP3

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

As I Lay Me Down -- Sophie B Hawkins

I adore the dream imagery in the song. We've all had to be away from loved ones from time to time, and Ms. Hawkins manages to capture the optimistic melancholy of that feeling. According to Wikipedia, she thought of the good memories of her father (who had passed away) while writing the song.

It's a pretty song that I'm happy to hear again and again.

Amazon Associates Links for Whaler: CD MP3

Monday, September 21, 2020

Better Class of Losers -- Randy Travis

I try to pretend that I can get away with singing along with this song. In reality, we used to grind our coffee beans (I don't drink coffee, Paula did), I pay my bills on home computers, and I can't drink cheap wine.... Even so, I still feel closer to the Better Class of Losers that Randy Travis feels part of than the upper middle class to which I technically belong.

Amazon Associates Links for High Lonesome: CD MP3

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Worse in the Video - Red Solo Cup - Toby Keith

The Song: It's stupid. It's so stupid that it loops around past cute and cult classic right back to stupid. But it's MEANT to be stupid and silly, and it works.

The Video: The video for Red Solo Cup takes everything silly and stupid about the song, and puts it in video form. It's a cliche presentation of that one party in college that everyone says rocked, but no one quite remembers the details about. At least those of us over 30 don't have to worry about cell phone videos of our indiscressions....

Amazon Associates Links for Clancy's Tavern: MP3

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Away From You - The OC Supertones

We're back to another Christian ska tune by The OC Supertones. I adore the "island" feel of the song, even if they're all Californian white guys (and at least one lady). This has been in my collection a very long time, and I still adore it as much as the first time I heard it.

Amazon Associates Links for Chase the Sun: MP3

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Creepin' In - Norah Jones (with Dolly Parton)

This is one of my favorite songs from Norah Jones' second album, Feels Like Home. She was originally billing herself as a jazz singer, but you can feel the love of country that she finally took ownership of. This song is fun and light, a good one for putting on repeat and listening to a bunch when you don't want a heavy song.

Amazon Associates Links for Feels Like Home: CD MP3

Monday, September 14, 2020

I Love You Baby - Aldo Vanucci

This is another Amazon freebie that I never quit listening to. I adore the 60s jazz feeling of this song. It's also incredibly romantic, and I like that too. It's hard to quantify, but it's stayed on my playlist for 12 years now.

I can't tell you much about "Aldo Vanucci", the singer's incredibly resistent to Google, apparently.

Amazon Associates Links for Straight Lift: MP3

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Better in the Video -- I Drove All Night -- Roy Orbison

The Song: This song was originally written for Roy Orbison, not Cyndi Lauper, and Roy recorded it in 1987. I think Roy Orbison is the best singer who has ever lived, but I'm glad they put this recording on the shelf. It took Jeff Lynne's work in 1992 to make something worth listening to, and even then, it's just not as good as Cyndi's version. If I didn't have the experiences I did with a long-distance relationship with Paula, this version would probably stay on the shelf for me, Roy or no Roy.

The Video: An incredible video rescues a middle-shelf song. The video features Jason Priestley and Jennifer Connelly as the two lovers in the song. They picked two incredibly attractive, skilled actors who had an outstanding chemistry with each other. They sell a sensuous, romantic, sexy relationship while staying PG to PG-13.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Cry To Me - John Hiatt

Paula and I loved John Hiatt during our early married days, but I had lost track of him. Then the 2018 Americanafest Mixtape came around, and I found this song from him. I love one of the lines "I'm probably going to let you down, but I swear I won't keep you down". That has to be a classic husband's line...

I hadn't watched the video for this song until now, and John Hiatt looks old. (Then I look in the mirror, and I'm not surprised why...)

Amazon Associates Links for The Eclipse Sessions: CD MP3

Thursday, September 10, 2020

No Place to Hide -- Alison Krauss and Union Station

This is a banjo and mandolin masterpiece off of an excellent album by Alison Krauss and Union Station. There's been many a day or night that this entire album's been on rotation. Adam Steffey takes vocals for this song. It's an interesting song about how hard it is to have to adult when bad stuff starts to happen.

There's no video unfortunately, so you'll have to make do with the album version of the song.

Amazon Associates Links for so long so wrong: CD MP3

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Sweet About Me -- Gabriella Cilmi

This was a free iTunes video, and then I was able to pick up the album in the cheap rack. It's an interesting song from a (then very) young lady who plays with the image of girls as sweet, or not so much.

The song almost qualifies for a "Better as a Video", because the video is interesting to watch.

Amazon Associates Links for Lessons To Be Learned: CD MP3

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Old Time Religion - Savae

This was an Amazon freebie from 2011. I couldn't even confirm until a few minutes ago that Savae actually was the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble. I've had trouble finding other stuff by them, but boy is their version of Old Time Religion a killer:

The sampler I got for free for them is still $0.99, it's a bargain: MP3

Saturday, September 5, 2020

The Motown Song -- Rod Stewart and The Temptations

This came up on the random draw for Friday, when I thought "Didn't it have a wacky music video?" Yes, indeed, it did.

The song: It's a 90s Rod Stewart pop song. I love singing along with The Temptations, and it's really nice. I like it enough for it to be in my list of favorites. Sometimes you stick with the music you grow up with....

The video: Now this is where it gets gonzo. The trend of mixing animation and live action was in full swing (Paula Abdul and MC Stray Cat, anyone?), and Rod both turned the knob to 11 and made fun of nearly everyone in the industry. He manages to make fun of Sinead O'Connor, Madonna, Vanilla Ice, and even makes a jab at Elton John's Eisenhower hat phase, all while keeping a catchy beat going.

It's not great, and I'm not even certain it's good, but it's certainly fun and an experience.

Amazon Associates Links for Vagabond Hearts: CD MP3

Friday, September 4, 2020

Static Waves -- Andrew Belle and Katie Herzig

Sometimes I think I have too many songs in my collection; I can't pay attention to artists like I should. This is off Andrew Velle's debut album, and it's another Amazon freebie I got in a sampler (for TuneCore Records this time).

I always could relate to it because Paula and I almost didn't meet. She didn't want to come to that New Year's Eve party, and had to get talked into it. I actually left it before meeting her, because I was working with some people on a project (that I later got thrown out of...), but a guy who rode with me wanted to go back to see someone else there. God meant for us to meet, so we would have, but it could have gone so differently...

I need to go back and start looking for Andrew Belle music...

Amazon Associates Links for The Ladder: CD MP3

Thursday, September 3, 2020

The Lotto -- Ingrid Michaelson and AJR

This is a NoiseTrade special, hyping Ingrid Michaelson's then-next tour (the "Hell No" tour in 2016). You know, way back in pre-history before COVID when people actually went out and heard musicians in person...

Anyway, I technically get to be a hipster here, because I became a fan of AJR before they hit it at least somewhat big.

Moreover, this was a big David and Paula song. This fit our life, since we never had a bunch of money and were happy doing free (or low priced) stuff instead of spending a lot of money.

I was going to show you a live version of the song, since they never made a video, but most had poor sound quality. Instead, you get the song-only version:

Amazon Associates Links for The Lotto: MP3

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

See Hey (I Love You) -- Michael Franti & Spearhead featuring Cherine Anderson

The iTunes Store freebies strike again. Technically, this is "Alternative", but it's a neat mix of reggae, rap, and pop. Plus, I love the basic message of romance and a guy loving a girl (and vice versa). I've kept this in my favorites rotation ever since I got it in 2009, and it's not coming out.

A bonus: Cherine Anderson is a good singer in her own right, and has a neat gospel song named Victory deserving of a listen. I'm buying it right now, and we'll cover it in more detail when it comes around on the guitar.

Amazon Associates Links for All Rebel Rockers: MP3

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Black Velvet - Alannah Myles

Technically she's not a one-hit wonder in the US, because a second song charted in the top 40, but she's pretty close to one. Alannah Myles had more success overseas and in her native Canada than in the US with her career. Here in the US, this one tune about Elvis is all the fortune she's had.

Interestingly, it isn't the only version of the song to chart at the same time. Atlantic worked with Robin Lee to release a country version of the song at the same time, and it charted as well. I'm not sure how I managed to miss this the first time around.

Amazon Associates Links for Alannah Myles: CD MP3

Monday, August 31, 2020

Heavy Fuel -- Dire Straits

I have a soft spot for this song. Like "Deacon Blues" before it, it's so over-the-top on favoring the hard drinking and living lifestyle of rock and roll, it has to be satirical. Several people have criticised it as derivative of Money for Nothing, but I'm not going to go down that path.

Any day hearing Mark Knoffler singing and playing the guitar is a good day. Seeing Randy Quaid pre-breakdown is fun too (not enough to qualify for our "Better in Video" Saturdays, but close...).

Amazon Associates Links for On Every Street: CD MP3

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Better In The Video -- Rollin and Tumblin (MTV Unplugged) by Eric Clapton

For the next few Saturdays (until I run out of songs), I'm going to talk about songs that are good (or even just OK), but whom have a video that is something special.

The Song: Rollin' and Tumblin' is a stable of Eric Clapton's blues songlist. It's a classic, and every time he comes to it, he makes it special. The MTV Unplugged version here is a great and fun rocker. Clapton and the band had run through the songs to record the first time, and several takes weren't that good (the audience was too loud, the band was too tight, etc.). The band and crew went on break, but Clapton stayed out. Supposedly the audience talked Clapton into starting another song, and he got the band back out to run through Rollin and Tumblin again, jam style. The recording crew (audio and visual) had to run to get back into position to record, and they actually missed the first little bit of the song (the record catches Clapton's "Did you get that?" at the end of the song).

Why the video is better: Mr. Tamborine Man.

Ray Cooper is a percussionist most famous for playing and touring with Elton John, but he has played with Eric Clapton quite often, and Clapton tapped him for the Unplugged sessions as well. As you watch the Rollin and Tumblin video progress, you can see Mr. Cooper get more and more energetic and flamboyant with his tamborine, until the audience catches him and starts cheering around 3:15. Clapton at first doesn't really notice, but around 3:40 Clapton sees it (you can hear the little "Cought you" when he stops playing the guitar).

It's not quite a tamborine solo, but it's the best tamborine feature I've ever seen.

BTW, I'm using DailyMotion here instead of YouTube because the video quality is a LOT better...

Friday, August 28, 2020

Country Trash (American 3) - Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash made a third career out of covering other people's songs towards the end of his life, in the American Records series. It's only appropriate that we talk about a song that he did himself earlier in his career, and then "covered" again in American 3, "Country Trash". It's an upbeat, traditional song about country living in the late 1800s. As Johnny was want to do, he sets the final expectations at the end: "We'll all be equal under the grass / And God's got a heaven for country trash".

Amazon Associates Links for American 3: CD MP3

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Settle Down - Kimbra

I first heard Kimbra from Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know", and then collected a couple of her songs for free. I picked this album up in the cheap rack, I believe.

Like "Hey There Delilah", this is a "lover" song with a creepy twist. Delilah wasn't in a relationship with Tom Higgenson and barely knew him (although she was flattered enough to go to the Grammys with the band when the song was up for an award). Settle Down starts off a bit sweet, but then you start feeling a bit sorry for Mr. Jones.... And the video turns that knob up past 11.

Amazon Associates Links for Vows: CD MP3

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Ocean Floor - Audio Adrenaline

This is an all-time classic from a really great CCM album. How can I improve on the lyrics?
All my selfish thoughts
All my pride
The things I hide
You have forgot about

There is something incredible about knowing that all we have to do is ask, and all of our sins are as far from God as the east is from the west....

Amazon Associates Links for Lift: CD MP3

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

People Get Old - Lori McKenna

This was one of the last good festival mixtapes I was able to download. AmericanaFest 2018 released a mixtape of the participants on Noisetrade (long deleted, unfortunately), and I have kept 53 of the 68 songs for occasional listening.

One on regular rotation is Lori McKenna's People Get Old. I never understood the "old people" complaining about getting old, feeling bad, etc. Then I hit middle age, and have probably sailed a bit past it, and I get it.

It's hard enough with the people who you are watching grow up or grow older. It's even harder for the people who no longer are.

Amazon Associates Links for Songs: CD MP3

Monday, August 24, 2020

Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing -- Chris Isaak

Anyone familiar with MTV in the 80s and 90s knows Chris Isaak from Wicked Game (which is in our playlist), but he kept making music and kept getting better. This song is off of Forever Blue, and is an incredibly playful song for being a real-life story of a lover who actually did Chris wrong. It was used in Eyes Wide Shut according to Wikipedia (a movie I don't care to see to confirm the report....).

Normally, I'd use the music video here, but I had forgotten how provokative and R rated it was. You get the official album version instead:

Amazon Associates Links for Forever Blue: CD MP3

Friday, August 21, 2020

Price Tag -- Jessie J (featuring B.o.B)

I love this song, but Jessie J had disappointed me. Price Tag is a bit more rappish than I'd normally like, but you have to love any song that's about rejecting the excesses of musicians and scantily clad women, and just embracing the music. Then she went and sang a song with Ariana Grande and Nicki Manaj with a video full of scantily clad women.... At least she's gone on to redeem herself slightly with "Not My Ex", which I just found searching for the video for Price Tag, and which will go into my playlists once I buy it.

Sorry, having trouble finding a non-explicit version of the album. I'd recommend considering just buying the one song on MP3 or the Apple Store if you really like it.

Amazon Associates Links for Who We Are (Deluxe Edition): MP3

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Layla (MTV Unplugged) -- Eric Clapton

When this song came out, I had a friend who hated it. She said "it wasn't Layla, it was an enntirely different song." A lot of critics panned Clapton for the Unplugged album, and others damned it with faint praise. I have to disagree: Clapton nneeded Unplugged, and Layla, to fid his way into the early 1990s.

The MTV Unplugged version of Layla isn't the same song that came out of Derek and the Dominos, because Clapton's not the same man in 1992 that he was in 1970. In the original rock version, I can hear and feel the young man "knowing" that life will end without his impossible woman in his life, but that if she comes to him, life will be perfection. The older, wiser man of 1992 is more world-weary, wondering how in the heck he has managed to get himself in this bad situation, knowing that there probably isn't a happy ending to the story after all.

Clapton needed this album financially, artistically, and personally to get himself in a place to influence the 90s, and he leveraged it for all it was worth.

The remastered, deluxe version of Clapton's MTV Unplugged album on MP3

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Acapella -- Kelis

This is a free video from the era of Apple giving away neat songs in audio or video form. Kelis wrote this song after the birth of her son Knight, and it celebrates his effect as a child upon her life. It is a positive, uplifting song and it's electronica, so it checks off multiple boxes in my "favorites" categories. Knight even makes a cameo at the end of the video.

Amazon Associates Links for Flesh Tone: MP3