Tag Archives: pop song

Reid’s Pop Song of the Month and Why

Introduction

 Quick definition of pop song: any popular song from any era regardless of musical genre.

            The criteria for getting to be Reid’s Pop Song of the Month is simple: I have to love the tune. It has to dye me, heal, console and inspire me, teach, enlarge and challenge me, contribute to my personal evolution, resonate through my lifetime and be a wonder-filled marriage of music and lyrics. Each tune has to have “seen me through” somehow. Not much to ask of a pop song, is it?  

          There are certainly elements of “trying to tell a stranger about rock and roll” when writing intimately about something utterly subjective like your favourite songs. I’ll keep my tongue firmly in my cheek and the tone light and fluffy just like the music. With every song in this series, it might take a few listens to hear what I hear but if you never hear it, that’s fine too. Ear of the beholder. Besides, it’s only a pop song.

            Lest we fall into a pop culture miasma of foolishness and desire and lose track of our balance, I suggest you click on the Culture is not your friend link on my blogroll and let Terence McKenna fill you in. He makes a very clear distinction between art and culture, a distinction that is mostly invisible today.

 REID’S POP SONG OF THE MONTH IS

 Whatever Gets You True

 Paddy Casey

             Neither the song nor artist is well-known but this bright positive little ditty has been caught in my musical craw for a number of years. Plus it has an imaginative video that actually has something to do with the song! Give it a look and listen then I shall expound. I dedicate the song and video to my old buddy Mitch who has “seen it all” during his decades of driving taxi on Winnipeg streets.

  

            From street busker to open mike night at a club to signing with Sony to being managed by U2’s management company, Paddy Casey‘s career is a classic story of  musical discovery. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, street performer Paddy’s appearance at the International Bar caught the ear of a Sony A & R man who signed him to the label. In 1999 he released his first album Amen (So Be It) from which the Pop Song of the Month comes. From folk to rhythm and blues to full-out rock & roll, Paddy expresses his influences with sincerity and creative honesty. Whatever Gets You True is a shining example.

            This cheerful concoction infected with a swirling wheezy roller-rink organ and a solid beat conveys its uplifting message with just the right amount of sickly sweetness, raw truth and inspiring lyrics to be Reid’s Pop Song of the Month. Paddy’s voice, phrasing and inflection qualify him for inclusion on the long list of “the next Bob Dylans.” His imagery – “I like elevators, too,” – supports the theory. The song’s message is simple: follow your bliss, be yourself, whoever that might be.

            The video shows specific examples of the message in the context of taxi fares, an imaginative time lapse free-for-all that includes firebugs, jocks, lesbians, precocious children, transvestites, sinister combinations of people, drunks, musicians and pets, ending with Paddy being absorbed into a spacecraft, ascending into the Godhead or something. Great use of the roof hatch! There is appropriate homage to Dylan with the lyric cue cards a la Subterranean Homesick Blues in the taxi.

            This song makes me happy! Let it make you happy too.

The Final Tally for Whatever Gets You True

             On the ascending scale of sweetness according to The Beatles song Savoy Truffle:

Savoy Truffle

Coconut fudge

Nice apple tart

Cool cherry cream

Coffee dessert

Ginger sling with a pineapple heart

Montelimar

Crème tangerine

 Number of teeth you’ll need to pull (out of 32): 9

 Compared to glucose/fructose, the likelihood of getting diabetes from listening to this tune repeatedly is: 32%            

Leave a comment

Filed under Music

Reid’s Pop Song of the Month and Why

Reid Dickie

Introduction

Quick definition of pop song: any popular song from any era regardless of musical genre.

         The criteria for getting to be Reid’s Pop Song of the Month is simple: I have to love the tune. It has to dye me, heal, console and inspire me, teach, enlarge and challenge me, contribute to my personal evolution, resonate through my lifetime and be a wonder-filled marriage of music and lyrics. Each tune has to have “seen me through” somehow. Not much to ask of a pop song, is it?  

          There are certainly elements of “trying to tell a stranger about rock and roll” when writing intimately about something utterly subjective like your favourite songs. With every song in this series, it might take a few listens to hear what I hear but if you never hear it, that’s fine too. Ear of the beholder. Besides, it’s only a pop song.

            Lest we fall into a pop culture miasma of foolishness and desire and lose track of our balance, I suggest you click on the Culture is not your friend link on my blogroll and let Terence McKenna fill you in. He makes a very clear distinction between art and culture, a distinction that is mostly invisible today.

REID’S POP SONG OF THE MONTH IS

And Your Bird Can Sing

The Beatles

            This time Reid’s Pop Song of the Month is my favourite all-time Beatles song, which comes from my all-time favourite Beatles album. Not one of their better-known tunes, And Your Bird Can Sing appeared on the 1966 album, Revolver, the UK edition. Click on the cover and give it a listen.

             The Beatles and the development of most of their songs have been well-documented and fully-exploited, giving us audial delights and candid peeks into their creative process. And Your Bird Can Sing evolved noticeably from the rough idea Lennon brought to the studio. In this age of instant retrieval, I found two earlier versions of the song. Working backwards, the version before the final has a distinct Byrds feel to it, appropriate to the tune’s content. The chiming guitars and sweet harmonies suggest Lennon’s fascination with the Byrds and his wonderful ability to mimic other musicians. The second and third verses are switched for the album version. By the time the final version appears, it has evolved from being a song influenced by the Byrds to being very much a Beatles song. Hear the middle version by clicking on the Lennons.

         Previous to that, we have an earlier, almost demo version very much at the kibitzing stage of development – stoned young Beatles having fun in the studio. Bass, tambourine, lyrics in progress, laughter and whistling at the end are all being developed but George’s guitar riff in the break and at the end is nearly complete. Later the riff  becomes the solid fuming basis used throughout the final cut. Click on the Remco Beatles dolls to give this earliest version a listen.

         What makes And Your Bird Can Sing sound so great to my ears?

            Let’s start with its context. The British version of Revolver is as the Beatles planned it with three songs the North American version lacked, one of them And Your Bird Can Sing. In addition to being my fave Beatles album, Revolver is also my Number One favourite album of all-time. A pristine moment in pop history, something utterly ephemeral passed through these four men and the surrounding crew and environment resulting in this Divine creation. The distance in sophistication and creative ease between Revolver and Beatlemania, recorded just 30 months earlier, is a quantum leap. Tracing Revolver’s musical evolution: Ticket To Ride, Rubber Soul, We Can Work It Out, Nowhere Man, Paperback Writer, Rain.

            This is how I interpret the whole album. After they get the taxes and death songs (Taxman and Eleanor Rigby) out of the way, the dream that is Revolver begins in earnest with I’m Only Sleeping. Every subsequent track takes us deeper and deeper that by track nine, And Your Bird Can Sing, we are lucid dreaming along with the lads. Here the dream takes flight.

            A perfect Lennon tune, oblique, lively and cutting, everyone comes through here. The searing break from the earliest version becomes the foundation for the whole song. Raw, harsh and rousing, George’s riff sounds like it’s been playing for five minutes before the song starts, creating immediate tension. The urgency of the riff reinforces and maintains the tension and the vitriolic tone of Lennon’s lyrics, a putdown of a woman who owns everything except Lennon. In British slang, a bird meant a girl, putting another spin on the lyric.

            McCartney comes through with yet another inventive bass line; his subdominant chord at the end releases the song’s tautness in a flutter. Muted (he sounds like he’s playing a cardboard box) but solid, Ringo’s masterful backbeat is complemented by his trippy high-hat work.

            The four guitar waves and McCartney’s exuberant harmony that accompany the line “You tell me that you’ve heard every sound there is” at 1:20 in the final version represent, to these humble ears, the three most stunning, thrilling and expansive seconds of pop music ever created, a fleeting gem of magic in a strikingly unusual setting, an astonishing musical moment in a career loaded with astonishing moments. The guitars in those subtly diminishing waves quintessentially define for me Chuck Berry’s description of Johnny B. Goode, “He could play guitar just like ringing a bell.”

            Though Rubber Soul has its moments, Revolver is the Beatles’ first cohesive challenge to fans, to other musicians, to the world. It directs us to look inside, to seek our true nature, to experiment with our consciousness, not in the blatant druggy Sgt Pepper fashion like a year later, but in a subtle, kind and innocent way that suggests creative play and a love for the world and all its problems. It made the world’s teenagers think about death and transcendence! For those reasons this music matured as I did, growing along with me, guiding me in some way, its message becoming clearer as I changed, yet changing with me. At the same time, Revolver has always been a comfortable reliable place to return to, to retreat from the world and dream along. I’m very grateful to have this album to accompany me through my life. It truly has dyed me. Thanks Fabs!

The Final Tally for And Your Bird Can Sing

            On the ascending scale of sweetness according to The Beatles song Savoy Truffle:

Savoy Truffle

Coconut fudge

Nice apple tart

Cool cherry cream

Coffee dessert

Ginger sling with a pineapple heart

Montelimar

Crème tangerine

Number of teeth you’ll need to pull (out of 32): 1

Compared to glucose/fructose, the likelihood of getting diabetes from listening to this tune repeatedly is: 2%

1 Comment

Filed under Music

Reid’s Pop Song of the Month and Why

Reid’s Pop Song of the Month and Why

 Introduction

Quick definition of pop song: any popular song from any era regardless of musical genre.

            The criteria for getting to be Reid’s Pop Song of the Month is simple: I have to love the tune. It has to dye me, heal, console and inspire me, teach, enlarge and challenge me, contribute to my personal evolution, resonate through my lifetime and be a wonder-filled marriage of music and lyrics. Each tune has to have “seen me through” somehow. Not much to ask of a pop song, is it?  

          There are certainly elements of “trying to tell a stranger about rock and roll” when writing intimately about something utterly subjective like your favourite songs. I’ll keep my tongue firmly in my cheek and the tone light and fluffy just like the music. With every song in this series, it might take a few listens to hear what I hear but if you never hear it, that’s fine too. Ear of the beholder. Besides, it’s only a pop song.

            Lest we fall into a pop culture miasma of foolishness and desire and lose track of our balance, I suggest you click on the Culture is not your friend link  here or on my blogroll and let Terence McKenna fill you in. He makes a very clear distinction between art and culture, a distinction that is mostly invisible today.

REID’S POP SONG OF THE MONTH IS

Love Changes (Everything)

Climie Fisher

            This smart little ditty has long been one of my all-time favourite pop songs. Aside from the basic truth of its title, Love Changes (Everything) by Climie Fisher chugs along with enchanting simplicity, prompting the poor brokenhearted boy to churn out his sad lost love story – two verses of pain, hope blooms with every chorus and the middle eight brings the wisdom home. Love can go either way and this four and a half minute celebration is a simple joyful expression of its pursuit.  

Please listen to the song and watch the video.  Click pic to play

            Released in 1987 and an international hit, Love Changes (Everything) is the ultimate British synth/haircut band pop song. Rather than evolve, it flakes off in sickly saccharin layers. The sweet chiming guitar and firm backbeat set in a synth drone with warbling keys build a comfortable nest for the fragile boy to somehow find his way through the confusion, the heartache and the hormones and live with his new wisdom: love changes everything. His do-do-do chorus and the big hopeful sky help him realize it’s third time lucky. He’s so happy about it all by the end of the song he almost sings falsetto. The parallels between his story and mine are strong and personal, diverging only because I have never been able to sing falsetto.

            Pop song lyrics have given us endless samples of the somber, the insipid and the silly. For me lyrics have to live up to the music, to be as smart or as dumb as the tune and the band. With Climie Fisher, let’s start with the inexplicable brackets around Everything: pointless. It gets better.

            The pop song format shines brightest when it poetically encapsulates basic truths. In Love Changes (Everything) we hear “Love makes you fly; it can break your wings,” “Love makes the rules from fools to kings” and “I’ve seen the way love shakes ya, makes ya, breaks ya. It’s got a power all its own.” Who can argue successfully with that? Though a little lumpy here and there with an extra syllable snuck in the last line of both verses, the lyric gets the story across just fine. Of course, it’s the same old story, tired and ever true.

            Who were Climie Fisher? Simon Climie sang and Rob Fisher, formerly of Naked Eyes, played keyboard. Both their hit records came out in 1987. The featured song went Top Ten in half a dozen countries, Rise To the Occasion, its follow-up, was less of a hit. Fisher died in 1999 and the group disbanded. Climie and Fisher share the writing credits for Love Changes (Everything).

            For me, the video seriously aids and abets Love Changes (Everything). Besides appealing to my latent train thing, I love the sepia colouration and the highly attractive people. It’s a study in fine faces, several of them seemingly made of pure white porcelain, set against the horizontal movement of boxcars passing by a “Kansas skies” railroad station. Panning cameras enhance the almost continuous horizontal motion, as do all the straight lines in the set. Subtly sexual use of vertical lines and movement abounds; the out-of-focus backgrounds, body-as-landscape and spinning windmill add to the effect. The luscious tableau created at 1:41 and its resolution give me a little shiver every time I see it.

The Final Tally for Love Changes (Everything)

             On the ascending scale of sweetness according to The Beatles song Savoy Truffle:

Savoy Truffle

Coconut fudge

Nice apple tart

Cool cherry cream

Coffee dessert

Ginger sling with a pineapple heart

Montelimar

Crème tangerine

Number of teeth you’ll need to pull (out of 32): 11

Compared to glucose/fructose, the likelihood of getting diabetes  from listening to this tune repeatedly is: 17%

             Now listen to the song and watch the video again. Any difference?

1 Comment

Filed under Music

New today! Coming Friday!

         The Tom Waits Song of the Week now on my Blogroll features one of his best songs and one of his most evocative videos – Downtown Train. Although it has a Guy Maddin feel to it, the video was directed by French photographer and video maker Jean-Baptiste Mondino. The old man at the beginning is boxer Jake LaMotta. Treat yourself.

         As promised! Coming Friday! The Very First Reid’s Pop Song of the Month and Why. Who will it be? Got you curious?

Leave a comment

Filed under Music