America is easily my favorite Simon and Garfunkel song. Let’s listen…
This may be as close to perfect as you can get. I still get goosebumps listening to the lyrics:
“Kathy, I’m lost” I said, though I knew she was sleeping
“I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why…”
Counting the cars on the New Jersey turnpike
They’ve all gone to look for America
So….it should come as no surprise to anyone that Paul Simon was one of the recipients of the Polar Music Prize last month in Stockholm, Sweden. Here is what the award committee had to say about Paul:
“The Polar Music Prize 2012 is awarded to Paul Simon. Nobody else is more deserving of the epithet of “world-class songwriter.” For five decades, Paul Simon has built bridges not only over troubled waters but over entire oceans by (re)joining the world’s continents with his music. With consummate skill, innovative arrangements and provocative lyrics that never fail to capture the currents of his age, Paul Simon has compiled a library of songs which will remain open to future generations.”
As part of the ceremony, First Aid Kit performed America in honor of Paul. Let’s listen to their cover version of the song.
For those of you who don’t know, First Aid Kit is two Swedish sisters (I did another post about them back in January). I thought they did an excellent job with America and Paul seemed to really enjoy the performance.
As always, let me know what you think!
In 1987 Dan Fogelberg released, Exiles, his tenth album. He was in the process of going through a divorce (not one that he initiated) and coping with a seriously broken heart. The album is all about grief with songs that touch on all of its stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Today we are focused on Anger.
Dan wrote all of the songs on Exiles with the exception of It Doesn’t Matter which was written by Stephen Stills and Chris HIllman and originally released by Manassas. We featured the Manassas version our Southern California Sound #13 post but let’s listen again to refresh our memory of what the original sounded like…..
I love this song and, while the lyrics are sad, I never considered it to be angry. If I had to categorize the tone of the Manassas performance it was resigned…..definitely not angry.
Back to Dan and his cover version of the song. Believe it or not, his version is not on YouTube so I put it on my private channel just for you guys. Let’s listen and then we will talk.
Angry, Angry, Angry….the last 90 seconds of this song are amazing. Although I have huge respect for Dan’s guitar skills, I never imagined that he had that solo in him. I don’t know if Dan had screaming matches as part of his divorce but if he didn’t that guitar solo definitely got it out of his system. It was a musical, one sided, all out screaming match and I am willing to bet that he was emotionally spent after recording it. I am seldom surprised by musical performances but this one was an exception.
All I can say is well done Dan……..we miss you very much!
If you haven’t done it already, go back to yesterday’s post and sign the petition to get Dan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
I am sure that everyone thought this was a good idea in 1968. Elton John clearly had an abundance of talent but had not proven himself yet as a songwriter (note: Elton had just recently teamed up with Bernie Taupin and their songwriting chops would be evident to the world in a couple of years) . Nick Drake was recording his first album and had some amazing new songs. Why not have Elton sing Nick….
So today I offer you Elton singing a cover of Nick’s Way To Blue. To be honest, I don’t care for Elton’s version. Maybe if would be different if I had never heard Nick’s original performance, I don’t know? Let me know what you think…
The Cover (Elton John)
The Original (Nick Drake)
I have an interesting one for you today. As I am sure you will remember, we discussed Elliott Murphy in an earlier post named Just A Story From America. If you read that post you know I am a huge Elliott fan but I have to say that his songs are not widely covered. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a John Mellencamp cover of Last of the Rock Stars from a 1984 concert in Cleveland, Ohio. I don’t think you will find this one anywhere else. Enjoy.
The Original (Elliott Murphy)
The Cover (John Mellencamp)
The original version of today’s song is one of my favorites from the Beatles. I know you will enjoy the song but you may enjoy the rare video footage of the Beatles even more.
The cover version of this song is a rarity itself. The song is an instrumental by a band called Hour Glass and I would be willing to bet that many of you of have never heard of them. The band was formed in LA in 1967 and were contemporaries of many of the bands we have been discussing in our California Sound posts (Hour Glass opened for Buffalo Springfield and Neil Young wrote the Liner notes for their second album). The gentleman playing the electric sitar on this cover song ended up being a decent guitarist. See what you think about his sitar chops and then we will talk more.
I think the picture on the video has probably spoiled the surprise, the Hour Glass guitarist, and sometimes sitarist, was Duane Allman….Guitar God for the Allman Brothers and Derek and the Dominos. By the way, his kid brother Greg was the keyboard player and vocalist for the Hour Glass. Let’s listen to another Hour Glass song, this one with vocals, so you see how Greg sounded while still developing his vocal and songwriting prowess.
While this piece of 1960s psychedelic music is a far cry from what was to come with the Allman Brothers, if you listen close you can just sense that these guys are headed for far bigger things.
Speaking of the far bigger things to come, I have a question for you. Do you like/are you interested in US Southern Rock (Allman Brothers, Lynard Skynard, Marshall Tucker, Outlaws, etc.)? I am thinking about writing about it in a couple of months once we finish the California Sound posts. Let me know what you think.
Since yesterday’s post was focused on the Stills Young Band, today I decided to focus on the other two members of CSNY.
The original version of today’s song is from the Bryds and is one of David Crosby’s best songs with them. The cover is by his partner in crime Graham Nash. I don’t really know the story behind Graham’s cover, although I understand it is from a CSN studio archive tape. I think you will enjoy both takes but I admit that I am partial to the Byrds original with David on lead vocal. Let me know which version you like the best.
The Original (The Byrds)
The Cover (Graham Nash)
The Original (Paul McCartney)
The Cover (The Faces)
With no disrespect to Paul McCartney, I love the Faces 1972 cover of his first solo record. The cover serves to reminds us of: what a powerhouse the Faces were as a band; what a great musician/singer Ronnie Lane was; and what a tragedy it is that we lost him way too early to MS. Of course Rod’s performance is great as usual.
Speaking of losing Ronnie to MS, you might not be aware that Rod, Ronnie Word, and Jimmy Page paid his medical bills for years. Rod and Ronnie Wood also donated all of their Faces royalties to Ronnie once he got sick. Musician’s take care of their own and we all have to respect that. As always let me know that you think.
This is my first post presenting interesting covers of well-known songs.
The Original (The Beatles)
The Cover (Crosby, Stills, and Nash Studio Demos)
Let me know what you think about this specific cover and whether you like this type of post in general.