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Kiss’s Weekly Calendar

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Songs You May Have Missed #139


The Redwalls: “Thank You” (2005)

Another song which possesses a degree of that power ballad magic, the Redwalls’ soulful “Thank You”. You can hear the muscles they aren’t flexing here.

I really like this band’s look, and was surprised to see they were from Chicago. Their Stones-inflected licks and snarled, Lennonesque vocals had me assuming they were British.

Foundational Composition for This City

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Bob Dylan Classic, “Forever Young,” Animated for Children

(Source: Open Culture)

Bob Dylan recorded “Forever Young” on his 1974 album Planet Waves. It’s a classic “paternal love song,” a song inspired by his then four year-old son Jakob, who later became the frontman of The Wallflowers. Countless musicians have since covered this Dylan standard — from Joan Baez and Johnny Cash to Rod Stewart, The Pretenders, Eddie Vedder and even Norah Jones, who sang a poignant version at Steve Jobs’ memorial service last year.

The lyrics of “Forever Young” lend themselves perfectly to a children’s book:

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young

And so, in 2008, Dylan teamed up with Paul Rogers to publish the illustrated version of Forever Young. The lyrics are the only text; and the illustrations (highlighted in the video above) provide the real narrative, showing a youngster coming of age in the folk scene of 1960s Greenwich Village. The book (available in paper and digital formats) is a pleasure to read to kids. But it’s even better when they read it to you…


To Paris Hilton: Don’t Quit Your Day Job (…What IS Your Day Job?)

(Source: Spinner)

Everyone’s favorite socialite screw-up, Paris Hilton, has conquered reality television, acting and homemade porn — now she’s trying her hand at DJing. And boy, is it going so well! (I kid! I kid!)

In the words of Mixmag, the auditory “car crash” took place at the Pop Music Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil where Hilton blasted an unsuspecting audience with juiced-up top ten’ers.

Let’s be honest here: Several mistakes were made. To start, during Gotye’s “Somebody I Used to Know,” the DJ-in-training accidentally shifts the pitch of the song, giving the mix a warble like a warped vinyl record.

Secondly, you’ll notice that the show’s smoke machine and pyrotechnics seem louder than the, erm, performer’s set. Despite her onstage “help,” it looks like Hilton could’ve turned up the volume.

But the best part of the evening is Paris’ failed attempt at playing her new single “Last Night.” Instead of blasting Brazil with her Afrojack cut, the “DJ” mistakenly cues Rihanna’s “We Found Love.” To make matters worse, she tries to sing her track over the top.


Songs You May Have Missed #138


Aerosmith: “You See Me Crying” (1975)

The phrase “power ballad” means something different to everyone who hears or uses it. For me the term is inescapably accurate for describing a type of music that holds an undeniable fascinating and appeal for me. The next several songs I’ll share have the traits I consider this type of song to possess.

They would include something I can only describe as a latent-sounding power, a feeling of something held in reserve. Perhaps a lead vocal sung in a voice that’s clearly built for screaming rather than cooing to an audience. Or a mix that’s a little heavier on the drums or bass than the producer of a ballad-singing artist would have thought appropriate. And an overall rough-edged sound that gives you the feeling you’re hearing a band in a tender moment, but that it’s clearly a band who doesn’t often have tender moments–giving the song, of course, more “power”. “You See Me Crying”, from Aerosmith’s 1975 Toys in the Attic LP fits my definition at least of the term “power ballad” perfectly.

I must digress for a moment to say that Toys… is far and away Aerosmith’s greatest moment as a band. Not only does the album contain classics “Walk This Way” and “Sweet Emotion” but it’s loaded with great album cuts like “Adam’s Apple”, “No More No More”, title track “Toys in the Attic” and their cover of boogie-woogie blues chestnut “Big Ten Inch Record”, which surely would have been covered by David Lee Roth, with or without Van Halen, had Aerosmith not beat him to it.

“You See Me Crying” is the perfect closer to this classic album, and a nice contrast to everything that precedes it. Joining the melancholy piano figure opening the track are a pair of woodwinds–an oboe, of all things!–and Steven Tyler’s ragged voice is nicely offset by a gradually swelling orchestral arrangement.

Alice Cooper’s “Only Women Bleed”, which was released as a single in the same month of April ’75 and was the shock rocker’s first foray into power ballad territory, uses an almost identical formula. If you haven’t heard it recently, listen again to its breathtaking arrangement, which beautifully incorporates horns and strings alongside traditional rock guitar/bass/drums for maximum emotional impact. It’s a true rock masterpiece–perhaps the greatest “power ballad” of them all.

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