Songs You May Have Missed #550

Magna Carta: “The Fields of Eden” (2015)


Sit back in your most comfy chair with something seasonal in your mug (perhaps a pumpkin ale or an English tea?) and let piano, acoustic guitar and gentle strings take you on a journey back to the Yorkshire dales of songwriter Chris Simpson’s youth. If you’ve got some years on the clock this is the type of song that you’ll feel in your bones…

Times change with the tide, for such is the way of things

The old order can not stand forever, unmoving

All that goes around comes around, as indeed it must

…Look over your should, pilgrim, rest awhile

And consider on what ground you stand…


Simpson’s spoken reflections and the song they frame elicit at turns nostalgia, sadness, defiance, resignation and reassurance as he conjures an image of an idyllic place standing in the looming shadow of fast-changing times.

Guitarist Elliot Randall (Steely Dan/Doobie Brothers), who played on this album, notes its “wonderful tune-smithing” and “sonic loveliness” and compares it to a good book–“the kind you can’t put down.”

Other superlatives heaped on Simpson and his senescent progressive folk band are here duplicated from the liner notes:

“Chris Simpson — the English Paul Simon.”–Fred Dellar (Mojo)

“The boy still writes a fair toon.”–Doug Morter (guitarist)

“One of the greatest singer/songwriters in the world.”–Roy Teysee (Universal Records, Holland)

“A master songwriter and natural born storyteller”–Graham Chalmers (Ackrill’s Newspapers)

“They are the whole story of contemporary acoustic music”–Colin Irwin (Melody Maker, Mojo, BBC Radio 2)

“Magna who?”–Bob Dylan

See also:

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Carole King’s Lost Album–and Band


Between her run as half of a prolific hit songwriting duo with her husband Gerry Goffin (“One Fine Day”, “The Loco-Motion”, “Pleasant Valley Sunday”, “Up On the Roof”, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”…) and the singer-songwriter genre-defining Tapestry album, Carole King’s short stint with folk-rock band The City is the long-lost missing link.

Carole+King_07As King’s marriage to Goffin was breaking up, she headed in a different direction–geographically, by moving west to California’s Laurel Canyon with her two daughters; and musically, by meshing her talents with guitarist/vocalist Danny Kortchmar and bassist (and King’s future husband) Charles Larkey, finding a more progressive sound and unbridling from her Brill Building pop standard style of writing.

The City released one mostly-forgotten album which is being re-released this week by Light in the Attic Records.

Now That Everything’s Been Said shows touches of the folk queen King would become, and it’s not without hit material of its own, although it would be via other artists that several of its songs would reach a wider public, since the album itself went, as lyricist David Palmer says, “number zero with a bullet”.

“Hi-De-Ho” became a top 20 single for Blood, Sweat & Tears in 1970:

The Byrds made “Wasn’t Born to Follow” their own with a version that appeared in the film Easy Rider:

And American Spring and the Monkees interpreted “Now That Everything’s Been Said” and “A Man Without a Dream” respectively.

Check out the City’s mellow “Snow Queen” with jazzy fills by drummer Jimmy Gordon of Derek & the Dominos and Pet Sounds fame:

With production by Lou Adler and lyric contributions by Gerry Goffin and David Palmer (later of Steely Day) and of course Carole King stepping up to the microphone to interpret her own material for the first time, Now That Everything’s Been Said deserved a better fate than to languish in obscurity. But with its re-release we’re given the second chance to hear the lost chapter in the career of one of pop’s most accomplished writers.

You can sample all of this album’s tracks here

15 Craziest Urban Legends of Rock and Roll


(via Purple Clover)

by John Birmingham

Paul Is Dead

Urban Legend: Paul McCartney was killed in a car crash in 1966, but the Beatles kept it secret, replacing him with the winner of a Paul look-alike contest.

Kernel of Truth: McCartney’s Mini Cooper was involved in a collision, but Paul wasn’t in it. Yet fans found many clues of his demise, from the “funeral procession” on “Abbey Road” to John Lennon saying “I buried Paul” in “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Lennon’s actual words: “Cranberry sauce.”

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Songs You May Have Missed #549


Ezra Furman: “Pot Holes” (2015)

It seems every time I begin to feel jaded about new music–thinking nothing will ever again be released but regurgitated tripe–someone like Ezra Furman steps in right on cue to show me there are still new ways to stir the old pot.

The unlikely combination of ingredients here include a punk sensibility and a doo wop arrangement featuring producer Tim Sandusky on sax. It’s like the Del Vikings’ “Whispering Bells” meets the Violent Femmes.

In fact, putting “Pot Holes” up against “Whispering Bells” illustrates just how much of a song you can borrow and still call what you created your own. Although Furman claims the only songwriting credit on “Pot Holes”, the elements of the Pittsburgh group’s 1957 hit–the rhythm, chord progression, sax stylings and even the guitar motif that becomes the “bow-dow-dow-dit-dit-dit” lyric line–all seem to be lifted. (Also tagged in this clip is a familiar 70’s tune with a strikingly similar hook).

Is there a “Blurred Lines”-type lawsuit in Furman’s future?

Nevertheless, this does nothing to diminish my enjoyment of “Pot Holes”. For the adventurous listener and/or anyone who identifies as societal outsider, Furman’s  Perpetual Motion People album is worth the exploration. His frantic energy, musical experimentation, and willingness to let his freak flag fly (that’s him on the cover in the dress and lipstick) blow some dust off pop convention.

Video of the Week: Cranberry Sauce–The Paul Is Dead “Hoax” [Part 1]

On This Date…


In 1969, the Northern Star newspaper of Northern Illinois University ran a story claiming that Paul McCartney had been killed in a car crash in 1966 and had been replaced by a look-alike. Russell Gibb of WKNR-FM in Detroit picked up on the claim and the story went worldwide. By late October 1969, the hoax was so well entrenched that McCartney came out of seclusion at his Scottish farm to deny the story. When McCartney was asked to comment by a reporter visiting Macca’s farm, he replied, “Do I look dead? I’m as fit as a fiddle.”

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A Great Compilation of “The Lick” Found in Music Everywhere: From Coltrane & Stravinsky, to Christina Aguilera

(via Open Culture)

by Josh Jones

“…there is one lick in particular, as you can see and hear in the supercut above, that…has managed to seed itself everywhere. “The Lick,” it seems, “pervades music history.” It shows up in Stravinsky’s “Firebird,” Player’s “Baby Come Back,” Christina Aguilera’s “Get Mine, Get Yours.” Writes Santa Maria, “Everyone from Coltrane to Kenny G has put this hot lick to the test.” It even has its own Facebook page, where users submit example after example of appearances of “The Lick.”…

…no one seems to know where exactly “The Lick” came from. At some point, its origin ceased to matter…“The Lick” seems to have worked itself so deeply into our musical unconscious that many players and composers likely have no idea they’re reproducing a musical quotation. For whatever reason, and your guess is as good as mine, “The Lick” has become a genuine musical meme, a “unit of imitation” that propagates musical culture wherever it lands.

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On This Date…


One of the great voices in the history of music left use 42 years ago today. Jim Croce along with 5 others lost their lives when the plane they were riding in hit a treetop on take off from the Natchitoches Regional Airport in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

Maury Muehleisen Jim’s long time friend and music partner was also killed along with charter pilot Robert N. Elliott, comedian George Stevens, manager and booking agent Kenneth D. Cortose, and road manager Dennis Rast. Croce had just completed a concert at Northwestern State University’s Prather Coliseum in Natchitoches and was flying to Sherman, Texas, for a concert at Austin College. The plane crashed an hour after the end of the concert. Croce was 30 years old.

Jim had finished recording the album “I Got a Name” one week before his death. During his tours, Croce grew increasingly homesick, and decided to take a break from music and settle down with his wife and infant son after his “Life and Times” tour was completed.

In a letter he wrote to his wife, which arrived after his death, Croce stated his intention to quit music and stick to writing short stories and movie scripts as a career, and withdraw from public life.

(via The College of Rock and Roll Knowledge)

What is the Most Influential Song of All Time?


(via The Almanac)

Clive Davis, chief creative officer, Sony Music

Who will ever forget Joan Baez’s leading a crowd of 300,000 singing “We Shall Overcome” during the March on Washington, or Martin Luther King Jr.’s reciting the lyrics in his final sermon? Whether fighting for civil rights in South Africa or in Ireland or in the U.S., can any song be more inspiring?

Alex Ross, music critic, The New Yorker; author, Listen to This

Claudio Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, first performed in Mantua in 1607, was the first opera to endure. The Italian master used a dazzling array of styles—fanfares, dances, arias, laments—to retell the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Four centuries later, it still holds audiences transfixed.

Marin Alsop, music director, Baltimore and São Paulo Symphony Orchestras

In 1967, Aretha Franklin made the Otis Redding song “Respect” thoroughly her own. It not only became her personal anthem, winning her two Grammy Awards, but also came to represent the feminist movement. She added the refrain “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” What more needs to be said?

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Video of the Week: The Who on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

Recorded 48 years ago tonight on September 15, 1967 (for airing two days later) here is the performance that introduced much of America to the band who had the reputation for smashing their instruments on stage.

Their performance of “I Can See For Miles” and “My Generation” is capped by a pyrotechnic finale that included an explosion so great it caused Pete Townshend permanent hearing loss.

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