Today’s post features, Star Carol, a song that was written by Alfred Burt. He finished the song on February 4, 1954 and died less than 24 hours later from lung cancer. (Mr. Burt’s history is quite interesting….you might want to check it out on Wikipedia.)
Star Carol is a beautiful song but not one that you are likely to have heard so today I’m offering you two different versions in today’s post. The first version was recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford for his 1958 Christmas album. I think this was the first non-choir recording of the song. The second version was recorded by Simon and Garfunkel in 1967 but this version wasn’t included on any Simon and Garfunkel release until the 1997 Old Friends compilation. I think this version might become one of your favorite Holiday songs in the future. Enjoy!
I prefer the simpler Simon and Garfunkel version. Let me know what you think….
A week or so ago I posted Simon and Garfunkel’s 1969 TV special as a Monday Matinee. The next day, I was telling a friend about the special and describing some of the highlights including the performance of America.
My friend asked if I had ever heard the Yes cover of America. I admitted that I hadn’t, even though I’m a Yes fan, and that I was intrigued by the fact that Yes had covered the song. When I finally got home and listened to the Yes version of the song I was unbelievably pissed! What a tone deaf interpretation of a beautiful song. While I love Jon Anderson, and fully believe that he could have done an amazing version of the song, his phrasing and the groups musical interpretation destroyed one of the best songs ever written. The melody was lost, the meaning was lost, and we were left with an exercise in musical excess. Let me be blunt it was a piece of shit and I hereby declare it to be the worst cover song of all time. Since it is Two’fer Tuesday you don’t have to take my word for it, you can decide for yourself. First up is America (the beautiful) by Simon and Garfunkel which is quickly followed by America (the 1972 abomination) by Yes.
I would like to issue a challenge to all of the readers of this blog to try to identify a worse cover song and post a comment identifying your nomination for worst cover song of all time. I will keep track of all of your nominations, post about them, and after a month or so stage an on-line vote to select our collective pick for the all time worst cover song of all time. Come on…..join in and let’s have some fun identifying some really bad music!!!!
Today’s Monday Matinee offering is a classic 1969 Simon and Garfunkel TV special that had not been seen in many years until it was released in DVD format as part of a 40th Anniversary release of Bridge Over Troubled Waters. The special was originally aired on US TV at on November 30, 1969 (it was later shown on BBC which is apparently the source of this version). Here is what thevideobeat.com has to say about the special.
Controversial and rare TV show containing in-studio rehearsal and recording, road travel, political viewpoints, concert performances and video montages of key events of the 1960s.
The program was originally to be a “Bell Telephone” TV special but when they saw the finished product they said, “No!” When video images of JFK, RFK and MLK were shown while “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” played, the Bell Telephone executives commented, “They’re all democrats, why no republicans?” Simon & Garfunkel said, “Is that what you see? How about they were all assassinated?” Simon & Garfunkel met with CBS and they sympathized with the content and agreed to air the program.
Songs include: “America,” “So Long Frank Lloyd Wright,” “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” “Scarborough Fair, ” “El Condor Pasa (If I Could),” “Punky’s Dilemma,” “Mrs. Robinson,” “Mystery Train,” “Feeling Groovy,” “The Boxer,” “Homeward Bound,” “Sounds Of Silence,” and several others.
Seeing Simon and Garfunkel at the height of their power in 1969 is definitely worth an hour of your time but this video offers much more that that. Watch it and let me know what you think……..
In 1987 the Bangles were huge having released major hit singles and albums during the previous three years. The group sounded great, looked even better, and I was in love with Susanna Hoffs (far left hand side in the picture above). I know, I know….but how could you not fall in love with that?
The girls were picked to record a song for the soundtrack of Less Than Zero. Instead of writing an original song for the movie, they decided to cover a song that was more than twenty years old…..A Hazy Shade Of Winter. The song was written by Paul Simon and recorded by Simon and Garfunkel in 1966. At first glance the pick was a strange one. The original was an acoustic song and sounded nothing like a Bangles song but the girls were not looking to do a note for note cover…..they had plans. With the help of producer Rick Rubin they turned the song into a rocker with a killer riff. Let’s listen…….
The song was a huge hit, rising to #2 on the Billboard singles chart but amazingly enough was not included on any Bangles album until they released a greatest hits album.
Amazingly the Bangles cover was a much bigger hit that Simon and Garfunkel’s original recording that topped out at #13 on the 1966 Billboard singles chart and was later included on their Bookends album.
Let’s listen to the original…….
I love both versions of the song but have to say that The Bangles deserve a lot of credit for reworking the song and making it their own! As always, let me know what you think….
This has always been one of my favorite Holiday songs (or what some might consider an anti-Holiday songs). I couldn’t think of a better way to kickoff this thirty day countdown to December 25th.
Tonight’s special gift is a video of an impossibly young Simon and Garfunkel performing at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Enjoy!
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!
A Poem on the Underground Wall Back Story
Today’s post is a 1967 Simon and Garfunkel performance of A Poem on the Underground Wall in New York City. While it is a wonderful performance of a really good song, the prize here is Art’s story about the making of the cover for the Wednesday Morning 3 AM album. I really enjoyed the story which also explains the inspiration for the song that follows. As always, let me know what you think