With Thanksgiving just around the corner, there’s no better time than the present to give thanks. But if you’re anything like me (which I know, is very likely) then I’m sure you’d rather sing it than say it!
“Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” by Sly and the Family Stone
Let’s all be thankful that Sly and the Family did not become English teachers and stuck to what they did best: gettin’ funky.
“Thank You For Being a Friend” by Andrew Gould
I highly doubt that Andrew Gould had four silly senior women living under roof on his mind when he wrote this song.
“Thank You For The Music” by ABBA
Thank you for not making music videos like this one anymore.
“Thank You” by Dido
Eminem still needs to send Dido a thank-you card for letting him use this song in one of the most critically acclaimed songs of his career. He then needs to send her an apology letter for letting Elton John steal her part at the MTV VMAs when the song made it big.
“Thanks, That Was Fun” by Barenaked Ladies
One of the coolest music videos ever made, and not just because it’s Barenaked Ladies. In a song written exclusively for their greatest hits album, the song acts as a retrospective both in its lyrics, and the way it utilizes footage from their past music videos to go along with this new song. You can thank me later for showing you this one.
Hugh Laurie was mastering sarcasm and elaborate wordplay on
television long before House went on
the air, but, he was doing so across the sea. With his comedy partner Stephen
Fry, he hosted a short-lived but seriously funny sketch show titled A Bit of Fry and Laurie, which invaded
innocent British households on a weekly basis. It was during that show that
viewers were introduced to the lesser-known side of Laurie: a musical side. In
almost every episode, Laurie would perform an original song in various styles
that were often as hilarious as they were catchy (I’m still waiting for him to
make a real recording of the very politically-correct “Protest Song,” a song
that is equal parts silly and satirically astute). Never having released a
proper album, Hugh Laurie has corrected that with Let Them Talk, a blues album comprised of well-known classics. The
album opens with “St. James Infirmary,” a haunting interpretation of an old
English folk song. Another highlight is his take on “Winin’ Boy Blues,” which
is proof alone that Hugh Laurie is much more than his on-air persona. Let Them Talk is a wonderful endeavor in
New Orleans blues, and makes a strong case that not all actors-turned-musicians
are necessarily a bad thing.
The Civil Wars’ Barton
Hollow is the stuff of magic. Two completely earnest singer-songwriters,
Joy Williams and John Paul White, have joined forces simply for the sake of
good music. No Fleetwood Mac backstage drama, for this relationship is strictly
platonic between two people and their love for music. Their debut album, Barton Hollow, is nothing short of pure
bliss. The music is being marketed as country, but due to their fondness for
plucking their strings instead of strumming them, they technically fall into
the folk category. They are a powerhouse duo who realizes that the strength of
their act lies in the combination of their voices, and not in their individual
performances. “I’ve Got This Friend” is a highlight on an album full of them,
and it plays to their winning chemistry as they sing about their “friends” who
would be perfect for one another. The song is a wonderful embodiment of the
perfect interplay the two have developed. Now let’s just hope they don’t ruin
it by making it “real.”
Wilco has returned to the music scene with their latest
album, and after 17 years of making music, they remain just as vital as ever. The
Whole Love finds the group diving back into their more experimental side, a
side they’ve mostly ignored for the last two albums. It’s nice to see them
shaking things up again, but, their less experimental songs on the album are the
highlights. The experimentation is surprisingly shallow for a band that is
anything but. Still, in today’s music scene, we need bands like Wilco to remind
us that there’s always something new to be made. The real high point of the
album comes in the form of a 12 minute folk-rock ballad entitled, “One Sunday
Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend).” This song alone is worth the price
of this album. Wilco still has some blood left in its veins, that much is
clear. Let’s hope though that on their next outing they’ll be able to draw a
Listen up all you loyal inTune@SCPL readers, it’s time for some soothing music! WARNING: Do not play this just after you’ve had a big lunch. Eyelids will close.
Ahh the lullaby. So sweet the melody, so calming of the nerves. Though Herr Brahms opus is my personal go-to lullaby of choice there are quite a few others to choose from in our collection. Here’s a few recommended by Warren Truitt at kidsmusic.about.com. (Click on the image to get catalog information.)
Are you having trouble sleeping at night? Well, you’re in luck. There are plenty of doctors out there that can help you. In the meantime, why don’t we sing about it? 1, 2, 3, 4…
-”Who Needs Sleep?” by Barenaked Ladies (Appears on the album Stunt)
Even when he’s not singing his lungs out, Steven Page is still giving it 110% on the flute. I guess it’s true what they say: “There ain’t no rest for the wicked.” Sorry… I still haven’t gotten over him leaving the band.
Billy Joel once sang “Don’t go changing, to try and please me. You’ve never let me down before.” Someone needs to force him to listen to “Uptown Girl,” and ask him: “Was it worth it Billy? Was it really worth it?” There are plenty of great artists that make tragic missteps when they step outside their comfort zone (The Beatles’ migraine inducing “Revolution 9″ and Kanye West’s attempt to be the next R. Kelly on 808s & Heartbreak are just a couple that spring to mind). However, not every time an artist branches out is it necessarily a bad thing. In fact, sometimes an artist can pull out a song so different and bold from their normal sound, it eclipses anything else they’ve ever done. These are those songs that an artist produces that are in a league of their own.
5. “Here’s Looking at You, Kid” by The Gaslight Anthem — appears on the album The ’59 Sound
When The Gaslight Anthem appeared on the music scene, one thing was for sure: punk-rock music sung with near Springsteen-like vocals sounds even better with aged pop culture references sprinkled throughout. Brian Fallon cannot hide his love for all things nostalgic. I don’t think anybody could have predicted though, that the best song on their first full-length album would be a slow-moving bar stool ballad, that is as touching as it is sad. Perfectly tying into Fallon’s love for the past, “Here’s Looking at You, Kid” is a nostalgic trip alright, but it is filled with sorrow and bitterness as the singer looks at what could have been…
Although unintentional, there’s something quite ironic about the fact that “Train in Vain” was the only song on London Calling without mention in the lyrics and on the track listing (it was created quickly after they printed out the album cover and liner notes and tacked it on as the last song of the album). It’s a bittersweet love song, bouncing from one pop-fueled melody to another, differing wildly from all the Brit-punk slashing songs before it. The Clash’s most recognizable song to mainstream audiences is one that was simply just an afterthought.
3. “Human” by The Killers — appears on the album Day & Age
The Killers were the alternative band to look out for at the start of the last decade. Their eclectic taste in influences brought Springsteen choruses, Vegas glamor rock, and modern day guitar anthems together in a unique blend matched by no other band at the time. As the years went on though, Brandon Flowers kept pushing the band’s sound to new heights, wanting the sound to be bigger and better each time. It all culminated on their third and latest album Day & Age with “Human”: an enormous dance anthem centered around existential questions… Not since Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest has there been such a public case of mistaken identity. It’s the same Brandon Flowers vocals; it’s just that the band is hiding in plain view behind a perfectly executed dance anthem.
The debut album from Looking Glass included a lot of Grateful Dead influenced tracks, and one radio-ready pop single simply called “Brandy.” On an album full of mellow rock, “Brandy” rose to the top for being surprisingly different from the rest of the album, and shamelessly the same as everything else on the radio in the early ’70s. If “Brandy” hadn’t caught on, who knows what style the band would have landed on next?
1. “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” by The Hollies — appears on Greatest Hits
The Hollies lost Graham Nash in late 1968. He was tired of the fandom, and Nash disliked his group’s identity as a “pop group.” He left the British pop group to go form Crosby, Stills, & Nash, one of the most celebrated American acts. The Hollies (minus Nash) went on to create the song “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” in 1972, a very American sounding rock song, as if to say: “now that Nash is gone, out with our Beatles persona, and in with Creedence Clearwater Revival influences!” But none of that stops “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” from being one of the best songs from the ’70s, or from being incredibly annoying to type out.
Bon Iver by Bon Iver Justin Vernon (the man behind the pseudonym Bon Iver) buried himself in a cabin to create his first album, For Emma, Forever Ago. It was a beautiful album, pairing luscious folk music with gritty whispering, and it ended up being one of the best albums of 2008. It took him nearly three whole years to follow up with a second album, but patience was rewarded for those who waited. Vernon named his second album Bon Iver, which makes sense, because he has seemed to really come into his own as an artist. He is no longer a novelty, but a true visionary. His songs are much larger in scope, while sacrificing none of the minimalistic qualities that got him noticed. His lyrics are as beautifully cryptic as they’ve ever been. and it’s great to see he made it out of the cabin alive.
Write About Love by Belle & Sebastian Belle & Sebastian is a band where there is much more than meets the eye… And not just because there are actually six members, in which none of whom have the name Belle or Sebastian. They produce sugar-coated pop songs that are as catchy as they are full of life, but they also have something deeper on their mind. In “Calculating Bimbo” the narrator chastises a woman for always relying on him to help her out, not her strong and rich boyfriend. In “Write About Love” the band gets meta and declares that sometimes the best way to cope with the fact that life can be a drag is to just write songs about love. With Belle & Sebastian, they don’t need a name to give insight to who they really are. They already do that in spades through their songs.
Hey all you organ music lovers – this one’s for you.
Poor old organ, it’s been elbowed off the radar by church officials claiming it is of no interest to young (and middle-aged) churchgoers. This is nuts.
The organ is the most powerful instrument ever invented. There’s a reason Bach wrote all that glorious music. It was so when you were falling asleep during the sermon the organ would blast you back into cognition.
Here are some of my suggestions for organ-ic listening (click on the image to be linked to the catalog).
Finally, I leave you with this link. Please click on it and enjoy some fantastic organ music from one of America’s most talented organists – that is, besides SCPL’s very own Dan W. and Deborah A., both of the Circulation department.
Miles Davis’ legacy reaches far more people than just “jazz fans.”
His influence is everywhere, and his talent is unmatched. Brian Fallon, of
punk-rock band The Gaslight Anthem, named a song after him (with the album
title also working as an allusion). He’s been referenced in slacker
comedies fronted by Adam Sandler, and just the other day I recognized his
composition “Freddie Freeloader” over the phone while I was put on
hold for the umpteenth time. Although all of his music deserves a place in
music history, it was his album Kind of Blue that solidified him as a
true music pioneer. He was doing things that no one ever tried before, and
he was doing them well. Kind of Blueis such a universal piece of composition
that it compliments just about anything: doing homework, a late-night drive, or
even a slow-burning jog.
Billy Joel is a master craftsman. He can go from stadium-ready rock
(“The Stranger”) to sincere ballads (“Vienna”) without losing
his artistic direction. The Stranger is arguably his best album
because it does the best job balancing the two personas. He even does it
masterfully in the course of one song, with the superb “Scenes from an
Italian Restaurant.” In “Scenes,” he tells the story of high
school sweethearts falling out of love over the course of their lengthy courtship.
There’s surprisingly deep pathos for a song centered around wine-guzzling high
school lovers, because Joel treats his characters with respect, and doesn’t
look down on them. Staying together out of routine will only get you so far,
but at least a fantastic song was made of it.