Posts Tagged ‘River’

Friday night, while scrolling through my iPhone’s Photo Library, I came across ancient family photos that I imported via the Photomyne app while packing for our Big Move in late 2018. When used, taking a picture of a page in a photo album results in auto-cropped files for each photo thereon. The big plus: It’s faster and easier than the scanning process, as it only requires a click. It also, obviously, preserves the integrity of the album(s). The downside: The quality, as shown to the left (that’s me in the early 1970s), is nowhere near as good as a scan. As thumbnails, the photos of photos look okay – washed-out, but good enough to recall the moment in time. Up close, however, they’re somewhat blotchy and pixelated.

Cover songs work in similar fashion. At their best, they’re metaphoric pipelines to and from the collective unconscious, shedding insights not just into the singer and song, but all who have braved the same musical journey. At their worst, they’re little more than carbon copies of the original, somewhat faded and hard to hear, but enjoyable nonetheless.

And, with that out of the way, here’s Today’s Top 5: Cover Songs, Vol. 55…

1) Courtney Marie Andrews – “One of These Days.” This Neil Young song (originally from Harvest Moon) is obviously dear to CMA’s heart, as she’s covered it before.

2) Phoebe Bridgers – “If We Make It Through December.” So, a few years back, I compiled a list of songs Courtney Marie should cover… and this Merle Haggard song was one of them. To my ears and heart, it’s one of the greatest songs written about making it through tough times – and Bridgers does it justice.

3) Malin Pettersen and Darling West – “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” This is a haunting beautiful rendition of a song that is, itself, hauntingly beautiful.

4) Margo Price – “River.” Who hasn’t covered this non-Christmas song? Yet when it’s done right, as it is by Ms. Price, who can complain? The heart aches while listening to it.

5) Molly Tuttle – “White Rabbit.” Molly boards the Jefferson Airplane for a flight high above the clouds with this very cool rendition of a Summer of Love standard.

And one bonus…

Scary Pockets featuring Rett Madison – “I’m on Fire.” I’m somewhat over covers of this Boss tune, as the Staves’ rendition from a few years back sort of made all others moot. But this kind of redraws the blueprint. (Rett, by the way, is an up-and-coming L.A.-based singer-songwriter – her recent single, “Kerosene,” absolutely smokes; and Scary Pockets is a funk band with a knack for cool covers.)

 

Last night saw a who’s who of singer-songwriters gathering for a swank soiree at one of the region’s finest (if over-priced) restaurants. While some arrived in tuxedoes and others in gowns, a few underdressed artists explained/complained that they would have bedecked themselves if only they’d known they should. (“Who would’ve thought,” said one of the offenders.) The occasion: the Old Grey Cat’s first-ever “Album of the Decade” fete.

The six-hour event is now being edited into a one-hour TV special to air on the world’s top TV networks next Saturday night; apparently, watching an LP rotate on a turntable isn’t as enthralling as initially imagined. (That said, watching the LPs spin turned out to be more exciting than watching the CDs being dropped into a CD tray and then disappearing inside the player.)  

One of the night’s highlights came when select performers took to the stage to sing holiday songs. Up-and-coming Rhode Island-based country singer Charlie Marie, for instance, warmed hearts when she sang her latest single, “Old-Fashioned Christmas.”

And Shelby Lynne and Daryl Hall recreated their Live From Daryl’s House duet on Shelby’s bluesy “Xmas.” 

Lucy Rose, for her part, chided the Old Grey Cat for forgetting her No Words Left album in his rundown of the top albums of 2019 before forgiving him with her sweet rendition of Shakin’ Stevens’ “Merry Christmas Everyone.”

Maja Francis and First Aid Kit brought the house down with their stirring cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River.” (Technically, it’s not a Christmas tune, but…)

Finally, the Greta Garbo of rock ’n’ pop ’n’ soul, Duffy, returned from reclusion to close the festive fun with her stripped-down spin on Nat King Cole’s “Christmas Song.”

It’s been a whirlwind few months for me and mine – we’re preparing to leap into a new life in the Raleigh-Durham area. It’s not just packing up for the move to another house, which would be a relative breeze: We’re downsizing. We just have way too many things, and it’s time others enjoyed them. (That’s my mantra, and I’m sticking to it.) We parted with the bulk of our CD and LP collection a while back and are now sorting through the hundred-plus boxes of books that have cluttered the attic for years. Most of those tomes are being given to our local library.

It’s why my posts to this page have dwindled. What free time I have has been focused on shedding the ephemera from our lives – and there’s much, much more to shed between now and the day when the movers knock on our door.

Finding the time to listen to music (as opposed to having it play in the background) has been difficult, and will be difficult until January; and finding the time to write about it has been all but impossible. That said, my ballyhooed Album of the Year honor – which I will post at some point in the next month – was locked-in long ago, as were the the runners-up.

All of which has nothing to do with today’s post on Jade Bird. She’s not in the running for any of the Old Grey Cat’s awards save one, Concert of the Year, due to not releasing an album in 2018. (Spoiler alert: She’s in the Top 3.) But, as fans can attest, Jade has released a string of strong singles over the past 11 months. “Love Has All Been Done Before,” her latest, is absolutely killer. Here she is performing it when she played Philly in September. 

She played a stripped-down version of the song for Indie88 in the Collective Arts Black Box Sessions, which was posted to YouTube just this week:

She also performed a rockin’ “Uh Huh” during the session.

And here’s her take on Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere,” posted way back in January, for Indie88.

Here she wins with “Lottery,” and plays a few other tunes, in a video posted this week by 102.1 The Edge.

And, finally, two bonuses:

“Something American,” posted last month by The Bridge 909 in Studio:

And, from last year, her spellbinding rendition of Joni’s “River.”

Christmas is the time to say “I love you.” I’m not sure why, but that Billy Squier lyric (and accompanying melody) has stuck with me since I first heard it way back in…1981?! Yes, I suppose so. I was never a Squier fan, never bought anything by him, but this song –

– just takes me back. Martha Quinn, aka Mrs. Bobby Brady, introduces it; the song itself starts at the 1:40 (or so) mark. In fact, I likely saw the clip when it first aired or shortly thereafter, as we had MTV by then (I think).

Seeing Martha reminded me that I have an autographed photo and letter from her, circa April 1983 – perhaps a post for another day? – and, somewhere lost in my archives, I possess a letter from Santa…yes, you read right – not to, but from. The jolly old elf took pity on me one year, though I don’t remember the specifics. Perhaps that’s the year I got hit in the eye by a mud ball? Could be.

Anyway, for today’s Top 5: Christmas Songs. No rhyme or reason to the picks, just songs and performances that I enjoy – and, hopefully, you will, too!

1) Duffy – “The Christmas Song.” This has become one of my favorite Christmas videos and renditions of “The Christmas Song.”

2) David Crosby & Bing Crosby – “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.” What needs to be said about this classic clip?

3) The Supremes – “Children’s Christmas Song.” Pure joy set to music – that’s this song in a nutshell.

 

4) Hayley Westenra – “River.” Not a real Christmas song, but it’s become a seasonal favorite – as this Washington Post article explains. And I love Hayley’s crystalline voice.

 

5) The Waitresses – “Christmas Wrapping.”

And, of course, a few bonuses…

6) Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”

7) Bob Seger & the Last Heard – “Sock It to Me, Santa.”

 

8) Paul McCartney – “Wonderful Christmastime.” Yeah, some folks hate this. I don’t. And Annie Zaleski over at Salon gives a good defense of it.