Archive for August, 2008



Covers Day 3

Today I want to look at covers of one song, and why I think one is good and the other is not.

Dolly Parton is an artist who is not often covered. If you look at covers at pure tribute to the original artist, then this is a shame, because she wrote some of the most amazing music ever! Two of her songs have been covered quite a lot. One is very well known and the other not so well known. It is the well known song that I am dealing with today, although I will but some links to the other as well.

The interesting thing about I Will Always Love You is that the covered version was a much bigger hit that then original. That would probably invalidate it based on my original rules, but many people know it from Dolly Parton first, so I think it is fine (plus in a 1982 recording of the song, Parton reached number 1 on the country chart and 53 on the top 100. The better known recording of this song is from Whitney Huston and is often considered her signature song. It has also been covered by many others, including Linda Ronstadt. It was Ronstadt’s recording that brought it to the attention of the producer of The Bodyguard, the movie in which Huston sings the song.

So which is the better and which is the worse? I am much happier with the Ronstadt recording than the Huston. When you listen to Linda Ronstadt, I almost feel like I am listening to Dolly Parton. Whitney Huston is just way over the top and the song was played way too much on the radio.

As for the other covered Parton song, it is the wonderful Jolene, which was one of her biggest hits! It was covered more than any other of her songs. Here is a link to Dolly Parton live in England.

Enjoy!?

Linda Ronstadt

Whitney Huston

Dolly Parton (from the movie Best Little Whorehouse in Texas)

Covers Day 2

Today I have two songs for you and again we are using one group, but this time I am choosing two covers of this group.

Simon and Garfunkel’s songs have been covered quite a lot and you can find recordings from everyone from Willie Nelson to Charlotte Church. But this is best and worst, so I have to fine a great cover and a poor cover.

One reason I think covers don’t usually work is that a songwriter usually writes a song in a particular style and the song works in that style. Bands often change the style of the song for a cover. It does not take genius to figure out that if a song worked in a particular style, DON’T MESS WITH IT! (Remember in the Jazz Singer with Neil Diamond, when he sold the song Love on the Rocks to a famous rock singer, the song did not work as a fast hard rock song, but as a slow ballad!)

So here are covers of two S&G songs. The poor one is poor because of changing the style of the song, and the good one (I will comment more on that one) is good because it keeps the style.

Enjoy?

First is one of my favorite S&G songs, America (I cannot believe anyone would cover this one! You cannot mess with perfection!) Covered by YES.

Second, for your listening enjoyment is a cover of the underappreciated S&G song Richard Cory. This is a rarely covered song, but it was covered by none other than Wings in their Wings over the World Tour in 1975-1976. Denny Laine sang lead here but Sir Paul is in there too. This clip is from a sound check in Australia.

T Minus 6 days and counting

This coming Sunday we will be traveling to the happiest place on earth for our weeklong vacation. Of course, the “vacation” really starts now. Today mkm went to the local Disney Store and picked up our tickets for WDW and we have begun writing the lists. What clothing to pack. What supplies to pack. What food to pack. Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera! God willing everything will be done by Friday. Given that we don’t do any of this prep work on Shabbat, we need to have most of the packing done by Friday night as the plan is to pack up the car on Saturday night.

Yesterday, I helped my father-in-law but the carrier on top of his car so that will be ready. It is an SUV and we found that it is quite tall and not too easy to load and unload, but I am sure we will manage. Due to the lack of space, no suitcases for this trip! All of our clothing are going into these extra large Ziploc bags that are intended for clothing storage. Hopefully, we will go to bed (not too late on Saturday night and wake up ready to take on the day!

The plan is to leave the house by 8:00 am. We need to be in Lorton Virginia for the Auto Train by 2 pm for the 4 pm train (due to our oversized car). This gives us 6 hours to do a 4 hour trip. The real hope is to get there by 1pm so that gives us 5 hours and I think we will be fine.

So that takes us up to departure and I will pick up later this week.

Song of the Day – Covers Week

Welcome back to song of the day from another short hiatus.

Covers. You either hate them or you love them. I have read blog postings about covers in the past, but I heard a cover of a song last week which I believe should be in the top 10 worst covers of all time! I spent some time thinking about covers and I have come to the realization that it is VERY easy to find horrible covers of songs, but not so easy to find great covers of songs.

In honor of that moment when I heard that song (which will be revealed below) I am going to call this week, covers week. Each song of the day post in covers week will contain two covers. One that I feel is one of the worst covers I have ever heard, and one that is one of the best. I have not yet thought this through, as the idea to do this just came to me as I have been typing, so I do not know if I will be able to come up with 5 covers that I like, but I will try.

So I think I should have some rules. I am going to exclude covers that were made specifically for movies or stage musicals. There are tons of them (especially movies) and some are good and some are bad, but they have some purpose other than a singer trying to make a buck off of someone else’s work. I am also going to exclude covers that were hits for the artist doing the cover, but not for the original artist. This excludes many many many great covers, for example, Turn! Turn! Turn! By The Byrds is really a cover of Pete Seeger’s song. I think it will be more fun (and more challenging) to find good cover songs without using songs that are obviously good. And that is it! Everything else is game, and I hope that those who read my blog (and there are plenty who do according to my stats!) will comment and add their choices as well!

To start it all off, I am going to include the horrible cover that I heard last week. I say include as I have a number of offerings for this first post, and they are all from the same group.

The Carpenters, Karen and Richard, sister and brother were a mega hit in the 1970’s into the early 1980s. They were a significant group for a number of reasons. First off, they became a pop hit in an era when bands were moving more and more toward heavy rock. The Carpenters were able to become a success with a very soft musical style. They were also one of the first groups to experiment with what we today call the music video. Their success is also attributed to Richard’s collaboration with some of the greatest songwriters of all time, most of whom came from Brill Building success. Richard is also a gifted songwriter, arranger and producer. One other thing that was interesting about them was Karen’s vocal range. Although Karen had a range that covered three octaves, she was well known for her use of her low register. Alto singers were mostly unknown to popular music and that also gave them a distinctive sound.

The Carpenters were also known for covering many songs. Although Richard did write music, more than half of their recordings were written by other songwriters. So for this inaugural episode of cover week I have five covers from the Carpenters. Three of them go on my list of the worst covers ever and two on the best side. I’ll start with the worst (as that is more fun!)

For sure the most covered group in history is The Beatles. Generally, it is my opinion that no one should cover Beatles music. Cover acts don’t bother me (and there are many good Beatles cover bands) but covered recordings are usually horrible (with the notable exception of one of my favorite movies, Across the Universe). The Carpenters covered a bunch of Beatles songs, and at least two were recorded.

Enjoy!?

First we have Ticket to Ride, which somehow became a hit for them.

Next is Help! which was not recorded but there is this live version. Interestingly, Karen was a talented drummer which you see here.

To their credit, this is not nearly as bad as Ticket to Ride, and for sure better than the one that really made my stomach churn

Now for the good side! They made a lot of money doing covers, so you would think there would be something good!

Their biggest hit was a cover of Please, Mr. Postman, a big song by the Marvelettes and coincidentally also recorded by the Beatles. One other note, this video is silly and it was filmed at Disneyland.

One more good cover is of Herman’s Hermits There’s a Kind of Hush.

Hiatus

I am on a short hiatus as my laptop is in for repair.  As soon as it is back I hope to start blogging again.  Our trip is in a week from Sunday so I will have stuff to talk about!

Song of the day

I have a particular love of Hebrew music, both tradition Jewish music and particularly modern Israeli music. I had a Hebrew song as the song of the day once before and I felt it was time to add another. This song is by Arik Einstein and is called Uf Gozal, Fly Away Little Chick. It is a beautiful song about children growing up and leaving home. There are dangers out in the world, yet the parents know that this is the way it has to be.

Here are the words in Hebrew, and transliteration into English and a basic translation.

Hagozalim sheli azvu et haken
parsu knafayim ve’afu
Va’ani tzipor zkena nisharti baken
mekave me’od shehakol yihe beseder
Tamid yadati sheyavo hayom
shebo tzarich lehipared
Aval achsahv ze ba li kacha pit’om
az ma hapele she’ani ktzat do’eg

Chorus:
Uf gozal chatoch et hashamyim
tus le’an sheba lecha
Rak al tishkach yesh nesher bashamyim
gur lecha


Achshav nisharnu levadenu baken
aval anachnu beyachad
Chabki oti chazak tagidi li ken
al tid’agi beyachad kef lehizdaken


Uf gozal….


Ani yode’a shekacha ze bateva
vegam ani azavti ken
Aval achshav ksheba harega az
machnik ktzat bagron


Uf gozal….

הגוזלים שלי עזבו את הקן
פרשו כנפיים ועפו
ואני ציפור זקנה נשארתי בקן
מקווה מאוד שהכל יהיה בסדר.

תמיד ידעתי שיבוא היום
שבו צריך להיפרד
אבל עכשיו זה ככה בא לי פתאום
אז מה הפלא שאני קצת דואג.

עוף גוזל
חתוך את השמיים
טוס לאן שבא לך
רק אל תשכח
יש נשר בשמיים
גור לך.

עכשיו נשארנו לבדנו בקן
אבל אנחנו ביחד
חבקי אותי חזק תגידי לי כן
אל תדאגי ביחד כיף להזדקן

עוף גוזל…

אני יודע שככה זה בטבע
וגם אני עזבתי קן
אבל עכשיו כשבא הרגע
אז מחניק קצת בגרון
מחניק קצת בגרון.

עוף גוזל…

My chicks left the nest
spread their wings and flew away
I am an old bird left in the nest
I hope that all will be well
I always knew the day will come
to say good bye
But now when it is here
no wonder I am worried

Chorus:
Fly away chick cut the sky
Fly where ever you want to
Just don’t forget there is an eagle in the sky
be aware

Now it is only us in the nest
but we are together
Hug me tight say yes
don’t worry it is fun getting old together

Uf gozal….


I know it is the way of nature
I left a nest as well
But now when the time comes
I feel a lump in my throat

Uf gozal….

Here is an Israeli music video of this song. The audio is a bit off when you see him sing, but otherwise it is a very nice video.

Enjoy!

Favorite Lyric Friday

After writing a post in memory of Mama Cass, it occurred to me that I forgot another major music death that happened in July. On July 16, 1981, Harry Chapin died in a car crash in Long Island.

Harry was a singer and social activist similar to Pete Seeger. His big cause was world hunger and in 1975 together with radio DJ Bill Ayres he founded World Hunger Year. Beyond his own activism, Harry worked within the music community to get other performers socially active. It was Harry’s work that enabled things like We Are the World and Live Aid to happen.

The world had a major loss with Harry’s death.

There are many lyrics of Harry’s that are amazing, and I am putting two here. First is from the song Mercenaries which is a song about men going to war and what they do when they get leave. The meaning of the song is clear in the last verse.

And you’re back in your army
Back shedding red blood
And you dream of the girl
As you sleep in the mud
And you know you’d swap with her
If the deal could be made
‘Cause you’d rather be working
At love as your trade

And finally on Harry’s tombstone it reads from the song I Wonder What Would Happen to this World:

Oh if a man tried
To take his time on Earth
And prove before he died
What one man’s life could be worth
I wonder what would happen to this world

Here is a link to Mercenaries. You need to click a few buttons to get the song, but it is worth it.

And here are two youtubes for I Wonder What Would Happen to this World. The first audio of Harry and his band and the second is a jazzy version by his daughter Jen.

Enjoy!

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nQh8fwHrHg]


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