Into My Playlist: Careless Whisper

Welcome back to my playlist!

Once again, we have a song that’s been done a couple times. As far as I know, the original version of “Careless Whisper” was done by Wham!. And I like that version fine. I’ve played it in jazz band. It sounds good with a decent sax player.

The version I have, however, is the Seether cover.

There’s a few things I really like about this version. The first is, Seether. I just really love Seether. Don’t know why, but a lot of post-grunge bands are just that way. This has long been one of my favorites, maybe because it’s such a sick cover.

While I often appreciate covers that sound much like the original, but with small updates and minor changes, one of the things I love about this one is that it’s totally different and in a way that isn’t awful. It’s so hard to completely change a song and have it come out as good or better than the original, but Seether really pulled it off.

It comes out sounding something like any other post-grunge rock ballad, but appropriate for the content. It’s kind of melancholy, and… I don’t know how else to describe it, but it’s sort of achy, like as the guy is singing, his heart’s breaking. I always got that feeling from the original, sort of melancholy and achy. Some singers can do that whenever they feel like it, like Ron Pope or Miranda Lambert. And this song deserves that kind of voice.

And basically, it was nailed.

This is a great song to listen to when you’re in the need for catharsis, because it just makes you feel like you want to cry, like crying is okay and perfectly appropriate. It’s good to have a song or two like that.

Cheers!

-C

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Into my Playlist: Come See About Me

Hello, and welcome back to my music!

First of all, apologies for the long absence. I had finals, and illness. I’m back, and I’ll try to make it up to you with super-regular posting in the future. I will say in advance that I have a couple of internet-free holidays coming up, but we’ll see what I can do.

So, I maybe mentioned this before, but if I haven’t: I love Motown. I’ve been devoted to Motown for as long as I can remember, and the highlight of one summer program in Michigan was getting to take a day trip to Detroit where we, among other things, visited the Motown museum.

One of the cool things about Motown, especially the early years, is how almost every song is done by two or more artists. I mention this, because while I aim to collect all my favorites in their various forms, when I post about a song, I’m going to talk about which version it is, and then if I write about another version I’ll compare the two on the second go.

Today, I’m writing about “Come See About Me,” and this being The Supremes version.

One of the things I love most about Motown is that all of the songs are upbeat, even the sad ones. This is another breakup song that’s maybe a bit too cheerful for its content, which is exactly my kind of song. I mean, just think about the tempo, the upbeat music intro, and then we have the first lines, “I’ve been crying (ooo-ooo) cause I’m lonely for you. Smiles have all turned to tears, but tears won’t wash away the fears…”

I mean, it doesn’t get a lot darker than that in songs not about death, and yet the music is just the kind of thing to invite a jaunty stroll/strut down the street.

Don’t you just love things at odds with themselves?

The essence of the song is that the singer is super depressed because their significant other is completely abandoned by someone they gave up everything else for, and they’re asking the significant other to return because they have nothing and are super depressed. They can still sing cheerful, but they’re depressed. Really.

As I contemplate the mental health of the person singing this, it occurs to me that songs like this are a kind of manipulation. I mean, haven’t you heard horror stories of people manipulating exes into coming back to them by saying they’re going to kill themselves because the breakup was too much for them? I actually knew a guy who did that…. And let me tell you, whether or not the person is actually suicidal, it’s absolutely emotional blackmail and NOT OKAY.

So similarly, is it okay to just say, “I’m so depressed, come back. Everything’s terrible without you and I can’t be happy because I gave up my whole life for you.” Is that okay?

I’m thinking probably not. Regardless of the nature of your relationship, you gave up those things. Even if you were emotionally abused and your significant other bullied you into giving up those things…. Why would you want that person back??? It’s not healthy. Get new friends, reconnect with old ones. Watch a chick flick. Eat ONE BOWL of ice cream. Travel, even if it’s just to a day at the zoo. Live vicariously through the poor choices of others in music or on television, and then don’t make those choices.

Don’t beg for the person to take you back. It’s not attractive. It’s not cool. And it’s not healthy.

But it does make for great music, so maybe write a song and then NOT actually do it.

Cheers,

C

Into My Playlist: Boys of Summer

Hello, and welcome back to my music!

Today we’re covering another cover of a song: “Boys of Summer,” originally done by Don Henley.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the Don Henley version of this song. Someday, I will purchase the Don Henley version of this song. But the version I currently own is The Ataris version of the song.

Why?

When I was maybe eleven or so years old (I was pretty young) I bought my first stereo. Nothing fancy or expensive, just speakers, a CD player, and a radio. I bought one CD (Country) to go with it, and then collected CDs from there. I have since bequeathed that stereo, which still works wonderfully, to my little brother, but when I first got it, I was looking for a radio station.

And I first began to listen to rock music.

Songs that are now “old” were brand new then, and even the ones that were covers of much older songs, like this one, were still brand new to me. And I forever recall that young, musically naive moment of my life in conjunction with these covers, notably, this one.

The Ataris version is a fairly faithful cover rendition, which I appreciate. The instrumentation is different, which amps up the sound a bit, but this is more in keeping with the sound at the time when it was made. More of a post-grunge sound.

There is only one significant lyrical difference. Instead of “I saw a Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac,” this cover version says, “I saw a Black Flag sticker on a Cadillac.”

Not a huge difference, except again, a sort of generational update. When I first heard the song, it was literally brand new, on its first play on the Portland radio station I was experimenting with. I don’t remember what the station was now, but I do remember the radio host pointing out this line when he compared it with the Don Henley version (I had never heard of Don Henley, so that meant nothing to me), and he said that it was the prerogative of The Ataris to update something small like that, make it relevant to their listeners.

This was a strange concept to me, because I had – to that point – always valued the most accurate copy possible in covers, in book-to-film, etc. A few years later, I would grow to understand why a slightly personalized artistic interpretation is good, and how it can still be faithful by becoming something new. At the time, my mental development was simply not ready for this sort of thinking, and this simple statement by the radio host blew my mind.

I think of that every time I hear this song, in either version. Now I know who Don Henley is. I know what Dead Heads are (ah, how young and naive I was), and I’ve heard so many cover versions of so many songs that I actually can appreciate the cover as an art form.

I think I can safely say that this version of this song – while in many ways simply a suitable cover version of a good song – was a seminal moment in my artistic development, and in many ways changed the way I look at art forever.

All thanks to a radio host I don’t even remember the name of on a station that I couldn’t find again if I tried.

Cheers,

C

Into My Playlist: Bluebird

Welcome back!

I’ll preface this by saying while this is currently the only Christina Perri song I own, “Bluebird” is more an acquisition of opportunity.

There was a time in my life when I trolled the iTunes free releases, and the super-discounted songs. “Bluebird” was released as a free song during this period, so I snagged it because I had fallen in love with “Jar of Hearts” on the radio and figured there was a good chance I would like this one.

And to be fair, I do.

It’s about losing someone, though, and someone you aren’t ready to lose, and then their moving on with someone you both know. And like so many songs on my playlist that are sad, in spite of a lack of driving beat, this manages to be remarkably – for lack of better word – chirpy.

Christina Perri writes a good song, and this one tells a very good story. I think my issue with this song at the moment is that I always really liked it, but didn’t love it, and I maybe over-listened to it. So lately I only listen to it when it pops up on my “play all” shuffle. I still enjoy it, but I never feel the urge to listen to this song. And thinking back, I don’t think I ever did.

Cheers,

C

Into My Playlist: The A-Team

Welcome back to my playlist!

I’ve decided to stick in one of my many Ed Sheeran songs now.

Like many other people in the world, “The A-Team” was the first Ed Sheeran song I ever heard. It was his first major single, and the first single off his hit album, +. Yes. He has an album that is the plus symbol.

I don’t really know why, but I find that fantastic.

The first time I heard the song, it was too chill for me. I was coming to the end of my “I hate chill music” phase. This song may have helped me reach the end of it.

You may recall that it was basically all over the radio for ages, so it was hard to avoid it at the time. The more I heard it, the more it grew on me, until I knew all of the words.

You could find anywhere on the web what it’s about, why it’s unique musically, whatever. It’s a chill song about a prostitute who’s a crack addict. But somehow, it manages to be beautiful and thoughtful, and the line about “crumbling like pastries” is probably the most poetic and perfect thing that’s been in music for a long time.

That’s the thing about Ed Sheeran that I’m sure I’ll bring up many times before I’ve exhausted posts about his music. In every song, from the most brilliant to the more conventional, there’s always at least one line that I hear and go, “That is the thing that makes this song wonderful.”

Every song, without fail. In this one, it’s “crumbling like pastries.” There’s plenty of other brilliant lines here, but that’s the one that made me fall in love with the song, and in the end, with Ed Sheeran.

This song is also, funnily enough, the first on the playlist I listen to when I’m winding down for the night and getting ready for bed. Not for content. Just for chill factor. If I were worried about the content of my before-bed music, I wouldn’t listen to Welcome to Night Vale while I sleep.

Cheers!

C

Into My Playlist: Blinded By The Light

Welcome back to my music! You’re getting a break from Fifth Harmony for a while, YOU’RE WELCOME.

Today, we’re going to talk about a very well-known song: Manfred Mann’s cover of “Blinded by the Light.”

A lot of my friends didn’t actually know this, but this was originally a Bruce Springsteen single, released by the Boss in ’73. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band released their cover version in ’77, and it hit #1 on the Billboard 100.

To me, I have no idea why the cover hit it so big where the original is mostly unknown to the general public. One small (but famously misheard) line was changed, from “cut loose like a deuce” to “revved up like a deuce.” There’s an interesting piano solo in the second one that’s sort of iconic as well.

The only other difference I can see is the length. The original is less than six minutes (I don’t recall exactly how long), where my iTunes tells me that the Manfred Mann version is 7:06.

But this could be lies. iTunes may lie to me often. It’s giving the copyright as ’75, when I know that this single hit the top 100 in ’77. This isn’t totally implausible, but it messes with my head, so I’m deciding to call it falsehood.

I have a complicated relationship with iTunes.

The simple reason for my having the cover version is that it’s the one that I listened to on the radio, and was being offered on a discount on iTunes.

The complicated reason is…. I don’t really like Bruce Springsteen. (Go ahead, collectively gasp)

His voice is fine. His songs are fine. I just have never liked either enough for me to feel it merited spending money on. Why buy an original version that I never really heard when this is the one I know and love, even if it is one of maybe two Manfred Mann songs I actually know?

As far as the song itself is concerned: It’s fun to try to figure out what all the loopy lyrics are, and to listen to people try to decide what it’s about. A lot of the time I actually don’t feel much like listening to it, but when I do, it’s nice that I have it because it never pops up on any of my Pandora stations.

So that’s my thoughts on this song. What’s up next week?

Maybe not Fifth Harmony? Not sure. You’ll have to wait and see.

Cheers,

C

Into My Playlist: Better Together (DayDrunk Remix)

Hello, and welcome back to my playlist! We’re doing another day of Fifth Harmony and the many versions of their song “Better Together.”

This will be a short post, if you missed the previous ones, check them out here:

https://charlotteblackwood.com/2015/08/02/into-my-playlist-better-together/

https://charlotteblackwood.com/2015/08/08/into-my-playlist-better-together-acoustic/

Today we’re talking about the remix. They did a whole EP of remixes of the original EP, and generally speaking I’m not really a remix girl. Why did I buy the remixes?

I ask myself that some days. Today is one of those days.

The remix of this song is actually sort of a step backward from the original. It stands to reason that if I feel the acoustic is a step in the right direction, I’m going to think pumping up and remixing the original is not necessarily a positive change.

And that leads me to a point that I will probably make again while talking about the Fifth Harmony work (and usually the remixes): They shouldn’t necessarily have done a new version of EVERY song for EVERY EP version. Not every song on that album makes sense as an acoustic. Most of them didn’t really benefit from a remix. I actually don’t have any issues with having a Spanish version of each song (we’ll come to those later), but why not have a single EP where SOME songs are acoustics and OTHER songs are done as remixes? It would have made so much more sense.

But then, I bought both. So call me stupid.

Cheers,

C