Songs You May Have Missed #505

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Lily Allen: “Somewhere Only We Know” (2013)

In other news you may have missed if you aren’t a pop Anglophile…

Lily Allen just scored a number 1 single on the British charts with a cover of Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know”, actually besting the band’s original, which peaked at number 3 there (#50 U.S.) in 2004.

After a three-year break from music, Allen has returned in a big way with two songs currently in the British top ten.

“Somewhere Only We Know” was featured in a Christmas advert by leading British retailer John Lewis, and the ad has been a runaway success there. Sales of a Hare and Bear alarm clock featured in the ad have exhausted supplies and the clocks are now selling on eBay for nearly three times the retail price.

The ad has surpassed 9 million views on YouTube….so of course, it was removed.

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2012/08/17/songs-you-may-have-missed-167/

Songs You May Have Missed #504

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Kris Delmhorst: “Wasted Word” (2003)

Boston singer-songwriter Kris Delmhorst covers a range of styles over the course of a typical release, evoking at turns Sara Bareilles, Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Lucinda Williams, even Norah Jones.

Songs You May Have Missed #503

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David Ramirez: “The Forgiven” (2013)

Gifted lyricist David Ramirez wonderfully articulates the dilemma of the songwriter whose audience wants hard-hitting truths…just not the inconvenient, overly-truthful ones.

They love me for being honest

They love me for being myself

But the minute I mention Jesus

They want me to go to Hell

It’s hard to find the balance

When I don’t believe in one

When you mix art with business

You’re just shooting an empty gun

You’re just a songwriter, you ain’t a preacher

We came to mourn you, not to look in the mirror

Sing about those hard times, sing about those women

We love the broken, not the forgiven

These songs will only take me

As far as the people will go

If I can’t make them happy

Well then they won’t come to my shows

Maybe that’s what killed

All the great voices in the world

Always bleeding for every line

But no one was bleeding in return

You’re just a songwriter, you ain’t a preacher

We came to mourn you, not to look in the mirror

Sing about those hard times, sing about those women

We love the broken, not the forgiven

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2013/09/17/songs-you-may-have-missed-474/

Songs You May Have Missed #502

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Arlo Guthrie: “I’ve Just Seen a Face” (1978)

One measure of the quality of the Beatles’ catalogue is the way in which the material lends itself to reworking in myriad styles. Case in point: McCartney’s “I’ve Just Seen a Face”, which makes a fine bluegrass romp in the hands of Arlo Guthrie.

Arlo has always mined the catalogues of his contemporaries (Dylan in particular) for songs that would benefit from the old time country treatment in which his band Shenandoah specialized. He shows great instincts here.

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2015/10/25/recommended-albums-64/

Recommended Albums #57

kings

Kings of Convenience: Riot On An Empty Street (2004)

Erlend Øye and Erik Glambek Bøe are Norwegian indie folk duo Kings of Convenience, part of the short-lived “new acoustic movement” of the previous decade which brought such artists as Damien Rice, Turin Brakes and Starsailor to the fore.

Their 2001 album’s title, Quiet is the New Loud, practically became the movement’s rallying cry. Riot…followed a three year gap between releases which saw Øye experimenting with dance pop before returning to his acoustic folk roots here.

kings ofThis album builds on the lilting, appealing acoustic folk sound of the earlier release while expanding the sonic palate with well-placed strings, cello, horns, banjo and upright bass.

“Homesick” echoes the sound of Simon & Garfunkel’s “two soft voices blended in perfection”. The existential confusion of “Misread” wafts across on a gentle bossa nova rhythm.

Perhaps the album’s most affecting song, “Sorry or Please” finds its protagonist, recently released from prison, reconnecting with the old neighborhood and a potential new flame. The coy, clumsy, tentative first steps of a nascent love affair are articulated by both the lyric and the wistful trumpet-and-banjo solo (an unlikely but effective pairing). Exquisite.

Five weeks in a prison,
I made no friends.
There’s more time to be done, but
I’ve got a week to spend.
I didn’t pay much attention first time around,
But now you’re hard not to notice,
Right here in my town.
Where the stage of my old life
Meets the cast of the new.
Tonights actors… me and you.

Each day is taking us closer,
While drawing the curtains to close.
This far, or further, I need to know.
Your increasingly long embraces,
Are they saying sorry or please?
I don’t know what’s happening,
Help me.

Through the streets,
On the corners,
There’s a scent in the air.
I ask you out and I lead you.
I know my way around here.
There’s a bench I remember,
And on the way there I find that the movements you’re making,
Are mirrored in mine.
And your hand is held open,
Intentionally, or just what I want to see?

Your increasingly long embraces,
Are they saying sorry or please?
I don’t know what’s happening, help me.
I don’t normally beg for assistance,
I rely on my own eyes to see,
But right now they make no sense to me,
Right now you make no sense to me.

This is a remarkable album of gentle folk with a sweet nostalgic feel. It makes a persuasive case for the power of quiet music.

Listen to: “Homesick”

 

Listen to: “Misread”

 

Listen to: “Cayman Islands”

 

Listen to: “Stay Out of Trouble”

 

Listen to: “Sorry or Please”

 

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2013/08/11/songs-you-may-have-missed-461/

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2014/09/19/songs-you-may-have-missed-514/

Songs You May Have Missed #501

wilcox

David Wilcox: “Language of the Heart” (1989)

Sometime in 1989, during a four-or-five-year phase of following popular country music (which wasn’t nearly as hackneyed or stuck in cliché as the current brand) I happened to have The Nashville Network on TV at work when this very performance aired:

I was instantly mesmerized by gifted songwriter David Wilcox. The song’s lyric pulled me in, as did the musicianship–he made eye contact with the audience while playing complex guitar lines throughout the song. This wasn’t your standard TNN fare.

So I went looking for his album (on cassette, my format of choice for most of the 80′s, sorry to say). However, by the time I made it to the shop, I’d forgotten his name.

Undaunted, I began the needle-in-a-haystack exercise of browsing through the cassette selection at Jerry’s Records in Pittsburgh, thinking I just might get lucky and recognize the guy’s name if his cassette happened to be there. Of course, looking alphabetically, it took a while to get to Wilcox, but I did indeed recognize his name. And the album’s title, How Did You Find Me Here, was startlingly appropriate.

When I finally got a chance to see him live his talent as a musician blew me away. I’d never seen a guitarist change tunings every song or two, or use multiple capos. (Wilcox shaved down parts of his capos so they only touched certain strings. On a given song he’d use as many as three of them.)

David Wilcox is worth a listen–or better yet the price of a live show–if you prefer substance to gimmick; if you like a well-turned metaphor or a life lesson in a lyric. You may not find yourself dancing in the aisles–but it’s a worthwhile tradeoff for the journey into your own head he’ll lead you on.

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2013/02/13/songs-you-may-have-missed-330/

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2015/03/27/songs-you-may-have-missed-527/

Songs You May Have Missed #500

war
Justin Hayward: “Forever Autumn” (1978)

 

war 2Jeff Wayne’s 1978 musical version of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds relatively unknown in the U.S. But the two album set has sold millions of copies around the world and is the 38th best-selling album of all time in the UK, where live tours, video games and DVDs have all resulted from its status as a perennial bestseller. Recently a “New Generation” CD has appeared featuring a contemporary cast of singers reprising the roles played in the original by notables such as Phil Lynott (of Thin Lizzy), David Essex, Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, and Richard Burton, who narrated the story.

Hayward’s performance of Wayne’s “Forever Autumn” placed at number 47 on the American singles chart, but performed much better in his native UK (#5)

As a die-hard Moody Blues fan in ’78 I was a proud owner of a copy of this 45, which my older brother, who’d instilled the love of the band, had passed on. Thank goodness for CD reissues, since the 45 is long gone, lent to a friend and never returned if I’m not mistaken (the friend has a different story).

JEFF WAYNE'S MUSICAL VERSION OF WAR OF THE WORLDS.The song occasionally crops up in live performance, either on Hayward’s rare solo tours or even in a Moodies set. Numerous fans have set the evocative song to beautiful pictorial settings on YouTube.

Despite Hayward’s initial reluctance to participate in the War of the Worlds project, it spawned a true perennial in “Forever Autumn”, and a song Hayward seems to have been born to sing–as is mentioned by NYC DJ Ken Dashow in the video below, in which he also points out that the it was a perfect and poignant song with which to ease back into music (and life) after the horrible events of 911.

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2012/09/16/songs-you-may-have-missed-173/

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2012/11/21/songs-you-may-have-missed-253/

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2015/02/17/songs-you-may-have-missed-523/

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