Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lost and Swirling


There isn't a lot going on lately that can be easily expressed through the written word so today I thought I would just post a bunch of songs that I have been thinking about including in the "one song each post" section I usually include. In an effort to not forget about wanting post these when and if I happen to think of something worth posting I will just put some up now cause I'm at work and I'm bored and, while I don't know if people out there like reading them, I like writing about music. Hopefully this does somebody some good.

"Red House" by Jimi Hendrix from Are You Experienced? I've loved Jimi Hendrix for most of my life and there are a lot of favorite songs to choose from (don't be surprised if this isn't the last one you see here), but this one has always stuck with me. It's not his most innovative or rocking track, but it shows better than any other that Hendrix was always first and foremost a blues guitarist. Albert King was once quoted as saying upon seeing Hendrix play "I could play everything he played tonight, but he could never play what I play" (or something like that) and it's true, Hendrix does not have the uniqueness or the oddly structured times and rhythms of the more traditional bluesmen, but no one married blues with a more easy to digest rock vibe better than he did. And "easy to digest" does no mean watered down, the real power of this track is Hendrix's complete and total control of melody, rhythm, lyric, and emotion. It is nearly impossible not to react to this song physically. I always find my face or body sliding and twitching to each masterful flick of Hendrix's wrist. My eyebrows raise at the high, piercing, squeals and my head rolls into my back with each slide back down the fretboard. What makes this song truly great though is that it isn't just fantastic guitar work; it's also clever lyrics, the trademark Hendrix humor (''that's ok, I still got my guitar"), and the rare successful classic blues song that is both traditional and fresh. There are many versions of this song but this is hands down my favorite, and the fact that it came off his debut album makes it all the more telling of his crazy talent. (There's little about that record that could not be featured on here, but I promised myself I would limit this to single songs)

"Simple Twist of Fate" by Bob Dylan from The Bootleg Series Vol. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue,. Yes, this song is originally from Blood on the Tracks and there's really not a lot of difference between the two versions (there is a slight lyric change in the last verse), but I prefer this version because it seems more personal and off the cuff. Along with Lennon/McCartney, Bob Dylan has one of the largest collections of songs that still touch you even though you are pretty sure you don't know what he's talking about. This song is one of his few relatively lyrically straight forward efforts and it's simplicity adds to it's effectiveness. Blood on the Tracks is probably my first experience with an album collectively making you FEEL something sort against your will, as opposed to feeling like an album really taps in to something you're feeling right now. It is nearly impossible to listen to that album all the way through without feeling heartbroken. I can't explain why that is, but it's true. Fortunately, when individual songs are heard outside of the whole they don't have as powerful an effect...well they are still affecting, but heartbreak isn't necessarily the result. Anyway, I guess this song is hard to write clearly about because there isn't a lot to it, but for what ever reason, I never get tired of hearing this track. It always makes me pause and feel and that's a very rare and welcome thing.

"Up on The Roof" by The Drifters...I don't know what album exactly to point you to on this one, I have it as a 45" vinyl single...I did find a greatest hits on Amazon that has it so I imagine that will work. Anyway, I was introduced to this song's existence by my mom, who taught me to slow dance to the James Taylor (bless you, YouTube) version. Fast forward a few years to when I owned my own record player and began trawling my parents' record collection for gems to take with me to college and I found The Drifters version. I have to admit I was a little disappointed that the original (well, not original, but older) was not my introduction to the tune, but anything that ends with me hearing the song is far better than nothing. It's probably a case of hearing this song at the exact right time, but I think it's perfect. It's peppy and concise, but speaks to some very true things...the idea that one can, and should, have a place to go to feel comfortable was something incredibly appealing to me at that time in my life-a place that one could escape to when things are overwhelming that can sometimes be just as fulfilling as going out with people ("At night the stars put on a show for free"). However, the real key to this song is the final verse "So if the world is getting you down/There's room enough for two"-making it known that our personal retreats become open to the one we love...and that's the real marker of love, I think, the desire to share the things that you did to feel safe and peaceful. There are a number of things that make me connect to this song, I love to look at the stars, I used to go out onto the roof of our old house, and I was always someone who sought out little places of my own (when I was younger I for one reason or another picked a step halfway up the stairs and stretched out lengthwise)...Add to that the great motown instrumentation and smooth, guy-group vocals and you have a classic all around. Emotional without being corny, and an oldie without sounding dated. I actually used the song as a centerpiece for one of my college video projects, One Night, as the soundtrack to the main character's romantic dream sequences.
(again, YouTube is amazing)

That's it for the moment because this is getting long...i'll probably do another one of these tomorrow or later in the week. Let me know what you think or what some of your favorites are.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for these quick reviews. I have never been very much in to Jimi Hendrix, and Im not really sure why. I respect him and his work very much and agree that he requires you to move to listen.

    Interestingly enough, Bob Dylan makes me feel like I'm home in Wisconsin again. There's something about the way he puts things together that just bleeds the midwest, well...our midwest. The older I get, the more I love that about his work, even the stuff that I don't know.