Skip to content

The Curse of Ugliness, The Curse of Beauty: Two Songs.

October 11, 2020

Two songs by two women..

Most people would agree that ugliness is a curse. Men who are ugly can still get lots of women if the men become rich, famous, or both.

But women, not so much.

Beauty is not so commonly seen as a curse. But it can be.

After reading the lyrics to the first song, I think it actually covers both curses, a little.

This song is called “At Seventeen,” and was released by Janis Ian in 1975. It was the second single off her seventh album, called “Between the Lines.” The single became a massive hit, won Ian a Grammy, was covered by many artists, and eventually sold over a million copies.

It is a heartbreaking and somewhat bitter song.

As with my other song posts, I’ll present the lyrics first:

I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired

The valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen I learned the truth

And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phoneWho called to say “Come dance with me”
And murmured vague obscenities
It isn’t all it seems
At seventeen

A brown eyed girl in hand-me-downs
Whose name I never could pronounce
Said, “Pity, please, the ones who serve
They only get what they deserve”

And the rich relationed hometown queen
Marries into what she needs
With a guarantee of company
And haven for the elderly

Remember those who win the game
Lose the love they sought to gain
In debentures of quality
And dubious integrity

Their small-town eyes will gape at you
In dull surprise when payment due
Exceeds accounts received
At seventeen

To those of us who knew the pain
Of valentines that never came
And those whose names were never called
When choosing sides for basketball

It was long ago and far away
The world was younger than today
When dreams were all they gave for free
To ugly duckling girls like me

We all play the game, and when we dare
To cheat ourselves at solitaire
Inventing lovers on the phone
Repenting other lives unknownThey call and say, “Come dance with me”
And murmur vague obscenities
At ugly girls like me
At seventeen

.. Most of the lyrics are pretty clear – about the heartbreak of not being beautiful, and the advantages the beautiful have..

But..

Remember those who win the game
Lose the love they sought to gain
In debentures of quality
And dubious integrity

… Wouldn’t the first line refer to beautiful girls? Those who win the game?How do they lose the love they sought to gain?

“Debentures” – I had to look up that word. It means an unsecured loan. A loan not backed up by anything.

Debentures and dubious integrity.. I think I understand these lines, but I’m going to go down a few more before I get to what I think is the meaning..

Their small-town eyes will gape at you
In dull surprise when payment due
Exceeds accounts received
At seventeen

So.. I’m thinking this is quite a contrast with previous lyrics, which are about beautiful girls having all sorts of advantages, even when they are elderly.

These later lyrics seem like a bitter sort of view of what will happen to beautiful girls who were banking on their looks to get them through life, but their looks faded, and bad things happened, such as the women losing their love.. being abandoned by their men.

Since their looks were all the women had, they ended up with nothing, and people were unpleasantly surprised to see them after they had aged.

That’s the meaning of the second song I want to get to, but first I will post Ian’s song for you to hear.

I usually don’t like to post live versions, because those can be visually distracting. Better to post the audio-only video.

This second song is less well-known. It is called “Drive-In Movies and Dashboard Lights,” and was released as one of the songs from an album called “Storms,” in 1989, by Nanci Griffith. “Storms” was Griffith’s eighth album.

Here are the lyrics:

Sister had a crystal voice
She played a Silverstone from Montgomery Ward
Baez songs and Monroe hair
She sure could turn the boys heads to stare
Swimwear saunter, tan and haunt them
Was all she learned in school
Books were for the other girls
And the other girls were fools
Texas back in ’69 was drive in movies and dashboard lights

Father waltzed her down the aisle
‘Cause college didn’t suit her style
The sad truth was she could barely read
But if you told dear father, well he wouldn’t believe you
The telephone rang and drove mother insane
From all the hearts left on the shelf
Sisters gone and she won’t be home
Cause she didn’t take care of herself
Texas back in ’69 was drive in movies and dashboard light
s

Where is she now
The backseat queen of fraternity
Where is she now
She’s heavy on thigh
And light on integrity
Someone should have told her
When beauty’s all you offer
How soon the world discovers
That your beauty’s gone
Its gone

Mother can’t you hear your daughter crying
Father wake up her youth is dying
The kids are gone
Husbands gone away
And its a shame cause she had such a lovely face
Can’t you see she needed more than
“Oh what a pretty child”
You never taught her truth from lie
All you told her was to smile
Texas back in ’69 was drive in movies and dashboard lights

Where is she now
The backseat queen of fraternity
Where is she now
She’s heavy on thigh
And light on integrity
Someone should have told her
When beauty’s all you offer
How soon the world discovers
That your beauty’s gone
Its goneTexas back in ’69 was drive in movies and dashboard lights.

Beauty is a curse, if the person is objectified and not cared for and raised well.

Interesting how both songs mention the word “integrity,” and how beautiful women in both songs do not have it.

“The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.”

“The state of being whole and undivided.”

“Internal consistency or lack of corruption.”

If all a woman has is beauty, and her personhood is not nurtured, then her growth as a human being is severely stunted. It is possible she will become someone lacking in morals, who has a divided self, and who has become corrupt.. corrupted or corrupting or both.

Here is the song:

One last thought before I go..

I first encountered the lyrics to “At Seventeen” long before I heard the song. Even though the song was released in 1975, I did not hear it until I was an adult… probably sometime in the ’90’s, when I was in my twenties.

I was maybe 12 years old, and listening to a lecture series on adolescence by Dr. James Dobson, a well-respected Christian psychologist, that I heard the lyrics.

Dobson talked about the difficulty of not being attractive, and quoted some of Ian’s lyrics.

I think it was in the same lecture series that Dobson mentioned a study of who stayed married and who was happy… how looks affected women.

According to the study, women who were of “average” appearance tended to have happier and longer-lasting marriages.

These women were neither especially ugly, nor especially beautiful.

Make of that what you will.

That’s all for now. More posts on music.. someday..

The Covers: XV: “Woodstock.”

September 15, 2020

Time to get your hippie groove on!

This song is about going to and arriving at the Woodstock music festival, which took place in 8/15-8/18, 1969, in Bethel, NY. The festival did not actually take place in the town of Woodstock. The people who ran the town turned the concert promoters down.

A dairy farm in Bethel was their fourth choice. They liked the name “Woodstock,” so they kept it.

And that is why the song I am writing about today is not called “Bethel.”

As with so many of these songs, what I thought was an original turned out to be a cover. Many years ago, I heard the classic, “Woodstock,” as performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Pretty much anyone who is either old enough to remember the ’60’s. (and yes, I am familiar with the quote, “If you remember the ’60’s, you weren’t there!), or who went through a ’60’s music phase decades after will be familiar with the music festival and this song.

Ok, so, this song was released in 1970, news to me.

Something stranger: Three versions of this song were released in the same year.

The version that I heard, which is a cover, was released first. if Wikipedia is to be believed.

But Joni Mitchell wrote the song, and was the first to perform it live, in 1969, shortly after the festival ended. She did not perform at Woodstock, because her manager thought it would be better for her to be on the Dick Cavett show. Dick Cavett interviewed many many celebrities – even John Lennon and Yoko Ono, if I remember correctly.

So Joni Mitchell did not go. Crosby, Stills, and Nash performed, with Neil Young, according to what I’m reading online. However, Young was not in the film.

Mitchell’s boyfriend at the time was Graham Nash. Nash told her all about the festival, and Joni felt inspired to write the song. Then she performed the song at the Big Sur Music Festival in 1969.

She recorded it, CSNY recorded it as well, and so did a band I’ve never heard of until now, Matthews Southern Comfort. If you are from the UK, you are nodding your head, and if you, like me, are an American, you are thinking.. who?

Alright then..

I quite like the lyrics to this song. Woodstock being a sort of Garden of Eden, and a “child of God” walking along the road.. a child of God not necessarily being a religious person though.. someone spiritually tuned in to all the good going on in 1969. Yes, many horrible things went on that year, and the Vietnam War was still raging, and would not end until 1975.. but there were some good things going on too, like the Woodstock music festival.

The lyric “Yasgur’s farm,” that is where the festival was set up. If you haven’t seen the film.. it’s amazing. Some nudity.. It rained hard during part of the festival, and .. yeah, lots of naked hippies in the mud, tripping on acid..

“Do not take the brown acid..” went on repeatedly over the loudspeakers. Someone had cooked up a bad batch. Most people had better acid than that though.

Alright then..

First the lyrics, written by Joni Mitchell.

I admit, I don’t get all the references..

I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, where are you going
And this he told me
I’m going on down to Yasgur’s farm
I’m going to join in a rock ‘n’ roll band
I’m going to camp out on the land
I’m going to try an’ get my soul free

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man
I don’t know who l am
But you know life is for learning

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation

We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil’s bargain
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

….

… We are stardust, billion year old carbon. Scientific fact. We are made up of the elements of the stars.

Half a million strong at Woodstock? Possibly. Hordes of people who did not pay for tickets crashed the party. It’s pretty much impossible to find an accurate total online of how many people were there.

Bombers in the sky.. obviously on Joni Mitchell’s mind.. bombers that were used in the war. I like the image of the bombers turning into butterflies.

Caught in the devil’s bargain? I don’t know about this one. I looked up the phrase, and I found the term defined as being a really bad deal.

But I also think about the old crossroads stories.. musicians meeting the devil in a rural area, at night, at the crossing point of two roads. And selling their souls to the devil for great musical skill.

These stories go back awhile. The most famous is about Blues pioneer Robert Johnson, He died in 1938. A charter member of the 27 club… so many musicians died at age 27..

But I digress..

Back to the song..

I’m going to post the version I’m familiar with first, then Joni Mitchell’s version. I didn’t hear her version until a few months ago. I’m not very familiar with Mitchell’s music.

That’s a good rocker, that is.

Mitchell’s version is more mellow, which should not be surprsing.

Totally different vibe, but that really works too. I like it. When I first heard her version, I quickly googled the song, to figure out who wrote it.. and was surprised it was Mitchell.

Here’s a bit of bonus content, for those of you who have not seen the Woodstock film..

Before I post it though, I feel the need to point out there were two Woodstock festivals held in the 1990’s. The festival went well in 1994, but there were riots and lots of destruction at Woodstock 1999.

So let’s just focus on the original festival.

I can’t post the original trailer, apparently. It is age-restricted, and requires signing in.. so here is the trailer for the PBS American Experience film.

That’s it for now, star children!

The Covers XIV: “Summer Breeze.”

September 11, 2020

Alright. This is the second of two posts featuring a cover by goth metal legend Type O Negative. They did several more covers, but these are the two I’m familiar with and like. The previous one was “Cinnamon Girl,” originally recorded by Neil Young.

The original recording of “Summer Breeze” was written and recorded by the folk duo Seals and Croft. The album was also called “Summer Breeze.” It was released in 1972.

From Wikipedia:

Seals and Crofts were an American soft rock duo made up of James Eugene “Jim” Seals (born October 17, 1941) and Darrell George “Dash” Crofts (born August 14, 1938). They are best known for their Hot 100 No. 6 hits “Summer Breeze” (1972), “Diamond Girl” (1973), and “Get Closer” (1976).

Here is the original. It’s pretty good.

I really like the opening riff, but I think it is odd. Kind of dark and almost mournful, compared to the rest of the song. Perhaps that is one reason why Type O Negative covered it.

Another reason is of course irony.

Type O Negative was a very very dark band with many songs that have quite disturbing lyrics. Also, the leader of the band, Peter Steele definitely had a sense of humor, and probably thought it would be funny to make this song really heavy and dark.

I first heard this cover on the soundtrack for the 1997 horror film “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” The film was a hit, but I thought it was pretty bad. A dumb slasher movie. If you want to see a good slasher film from the ’90’s, watch “Scream.” It is a classic. And I don’t even like horror movies, generally. Skip the “Scream” sequels though.

The only thing good about “I Know What You Did Last Summer” was this song.

The cover was first released not in 1997, but in 1993, on Type O Negative’s first big album, “Bloody Kisses.” It is often considered to be their best album.

This is the 1993 version, which is a blend of two songs. The other is called “Set Me On Fire.” I don’t remember the second one being on the soundtrack, but anyway.. here it is:

That’s it for tonight. (I always write these posts after midnight. I don’t know why).

More covers to come.

The Covers XIII: “Cinnamon Girl.”

September 6, 2020

I like picking cover tunes that are at least somewhat different from the original recordings. This one counts.

I’m not a huge Neil Young fan. He’s got the sort of voice that gets on my nerves after a few songs, like the voices of Bob Dylan, Robert Plant, and Geddy Lee (from the band Rush),  but I really like some of his songs. “Old Man” and “Heart of Gold” are my favorites, but I like this one quite a bit as well.

What would a cinnamon girl look like? I picture a brunette with light brown eyes – the sort of look I’m really attracted to.

Anyway.. this is one of Neil Young’s rockers. It’s fun.

Since Neil Young is such a legend, I’m not going include info about him.

The song is an original by Young. It was released on the “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere” album in 1969.

According to Wikipedia..

“The lyrics have the singer daydreaming for a girl to love, singing that he waits “between shows” for his lover.[8] Young has said that he wrote the song “for a city girl on peeling pavement coming at me through Phil Ochs‘ eyes playing finger cymbals. It was hard to explain to my wife.”[5] The city girl playing finger cymbals is a reference to folk singer Jean Ray.[8]

Here is a photo I found of Jean Ray:

img_2007

She was part of a folk duo I’ve never heard of until today, called Jim and Jean.

And here is the original version of the song, performed live by Young in 1991.. some hot women in this video!

 

 

Alright then..

Type O Negative..

Their cover can be found on their fourth album, “October Rust,” which was released in 1996.

Why the name?

“Steele came up with the name “Type O Negative” after hearing a radio advertisement requesting donations of type O negative blood.[26]

More about the band..

“Type O Negative was an American gothic metal band formed in Brooklyn, New York in 1989,[3][4] by Peter Steele (lead vocals, bass), Kenny Hickey (guitar, co-lead vocals), Josh Silver (keyboards, backing vocals), and Sal Abruscato (drums, percussion), who was later replaced by Johnny Kelly. Their lyrical emphasis on themes of romance, depression, and death resulted in the nickname “the Drab Four”[5] (in homage to the Beatles‘ “Fab Four” moniker).[6] The band went Platinum with 1993’s Bloody Kisses, and Gold with 1996’s October Rust, and gained a fanbase through seven studio albums,[7] two best-of compilations, and concert DVDs.

— Wikipedia.

Back in the ’90’s, I was aware of Type O Negative, but had probably only heard them once or twice. The alt-rock station I listened to back in Modesto played some heavy groups as the big four from Seattle: Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, and Nirvana, as well as other bands such as Stone Temple Pilots and Smashing Pumpkins.

I do not know why Type O Negative did not get airplay on this station! They had a very heavy, very dark sound, which would have fit in well with the Seattle bands, especially Soundgarden.

But nope, I didn’t hear them.

I became a student broadcaster at the college radio station at a small university near Modesto, and quickly got into a LOT of music that wasn’t mainstream. Many many indie bands, and lesser known groups.

I would not have been allowed to broadcast the bands I mentioned, the ones that got regular airplay on the commercial stations, but Type O Negative was just obscure enough that I could have played them over the airwaves.

But still, I never attempted to listen to them, I don’t know why.

One reason could be that the band was considered goth metal and associated with the goth scene. I only had one friend who was into that stuff. And he was the only goth person I could put up with.

He was a hardcore Marilyn Manson fan, loved horror movies, mostly wore black, and occasionally liked books on satanism and demonic magic.

And yet he was easy to get along with and not particularly creepy.

I don’t remember him mentioning this band, but he might have. Whatever band he mentioned was easy for me to take no notice of, because he was into it.

I did buy a goth sampler album from the most notorious and evil store in malls at that time, Hot Topic.

I thought the music was ok, but never really got into it.

And I never paid much attention to Type O Negative much more recently.

And I don’t know why.. why now?

Most of their songs I don’t care for. Their lyrics are dark, disturbing, sometimes heavily sexual in a rather creepy sort of way, and occasionally quite blasphemous.

Ironically, or perhaps not so much, the singer, Peter Steele, became a Catholic. Actually, more accurately, was raised Catholic, became an atheist, was for much of his life, and then re-converted.

Catholicism is gothic and morbid. Morbid? Oh yes. Catholics believe that when a priest blesses the bread and wine, it literally becomes the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. Which the priest and parishioners then consume.

And of course the logo of the Catholic Church is an emaciated dead man with a crown of thorns, practically naked, and hanging on a cross.

Morbid? Yes!

I can see how that religion appealed to Steele.

Plus, he was fond of red wine.

Here’s some info on Steel and Catholicism:

In April 2007, Steele revealed that he began identifying himself as Roman Catholic in recent years, after decades of self-professed atheism.[15] In an interview with Decibel magazine, Steele explained:

There are no atheists in foxholes, they say, and I was a foxhole atheist for a long time. But after going through a midlife crisis and having many things change very quickly, it made me realize my mortality. And when you start to think about death, you start to think about what’s after it. And then you start hoping there is a God. For me, it’s a frightening thought to go nowhere. I also can’t believe that people like Stalin and Hitler are gonna go to the same place as Mother Teresa.”[55]

Peter Steele was the most macho-looking rock star I have ever seen. Dude was 6’6″ and a body builder. Also, he had a bad-ass look and a deep voice. And he played bass with a heavy, distorted sound to it.. quite rare. Most bass players like a clean sound.

Ironically, Steel suffered from mental health issues, including various anxiety problems, including bad stage fright. He also suffered from bi-polar disorder, other health issues, and was a heavier substance user. He looked like the epitome of someone with great confidence, but he was not that way.

He was also reported to be a very nice guy, generous and easy to get along with.

He was even a parks dept. worker in NYC. Park maintenance and etc. Really liked the job and had it for seven years before the band got big enough to pay the bills.

You might not be able to tell that from the interview just below..  But I think he and the woman who interviewed him were pals. Some people are playful in their insults.. a form of flirtation.

In the interview, Steele talks a bit about doing covers.

The interview contains some adult content.

 

According to one wikipedia article, Steele died of an abdominal disease called diverticulitis. Another wikipedia article reports his death as caused by heart failure –  aortic aneurysm. I don’t know what is true. Steele passed away on April 14, 2010. He was 48. The band broke up after that.

I’ve been thinking about Steele.. one of the most unique rock stars I’ve read about. I like unusual, creative people, who are pretty deep.

Also, no other band really sounded like Type O Negative. There were some other heavy goth bands, like Ministry and The Sisters of Mercy, but they didn’t sound like Type O Negative.

The other goth metal acts, the ones that got big, also had their own sound.. Marylin Manson and Nine Inch Nails. But I like Type O Negative best.

I may not like a lot of their songs, but I certainly admire their sound and originality and performances, even when they were doing covers.

Here is their version of “Cinnamon Girl.”

 

 

Next post is going to be another of the Type O Negative covers, and then after that on to other bands.

 

The Covers XII: “God Gave Rock and Roll To You.”

September 1, 2020

If you are new to my covers posts, or to my blog in general, I want to let you know that I like to ramble on a bit. I’ll take you on a journey.. a musical one, yes, but occasionally back into my past.

“God Gave Rock and Roll To You.”

This is a really fun song! I first heard it back in 1985, on an album called “Beat The System,” by a Christian Rock group called Petra. (Petra means “rock” in Greek, so I’ve heard) I had no idea the song was a cover.

Petra was very popular in the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) scene, and had been for years, but was not at all well known to the public at large.

The only Christian band to have major crossover success was Stryper, and Stryper would not achieve their success until the following year, with their 3rd release, “To Hell With the Devil.” That was in ’86.

In ’85, I turned 13, and was living in Chicago. I’d already been a Petra fan for two years.

My dad was a graduate student at North Park College and Seminary. Our family moved out from the Central Valley California city of Modesto to Chicago, so dad could earn a Master’s of Divinity degree. He was hoping to become a chaplain. That didn’t work out, but that’s another story.

It took dad three years to earn his M.A. The first year, he, my mom, my little brother, I and our two pet rats lived in a very small apartment. After a year passed, dad was able to get us into a much larger apartment, in a big old building – a classic Chicago brownstone.

Amazing square footage for an apartment. Not fancy at all, ancient radiators, no air conditioning except those AC boxes that fit in windows. We had the third floor apartment, which was the top floor. The first floor was a walk-up, because there was a basement apartment beneath, that was not quite a basement. I loved the place.

I spent a LOT of time in that apartment listening to music. Not just Christian music, but ’80’s top 40. Such a huge variety! I first became a music fanatic in that apartment. I had a little off-brand boom box which I listened to every day.

I had been a fan of Petra since 1983, when I first heard them. That was the year we moved to Chicago. Dad took me to a Petra concert that was part of their “Not of this World” tour. Someone, I don’t remember who, gave us free tickets.

Quite an experience for a 5th grader! Pretty big concert for a Christian band. Even had pyrotechnics. I was amazed, thrilled. And temporarily deafened. I didn’t mind. Such a powerful experience!

At the time, I didn’t know the tour name. I was hoping to purchase a cassette with the songs from the concert that were most memorable to me, but by mistake, I bought a previous album, “More Power To You,” which was released in 1982. Not a bad mistake that I made. The album was excellent. I eventually bought “Not Of This World.”

Two years later, “Beat The System” came out. It is hard for me to describe the sound. More distorted – not a crunchier guitar sound – but a weird use of synthesizers and sound effects – not exactly an album that would fit into a genre later called Industrial, but moving a bit in that direction.

The only two songs I liked on that album were “Witch Hunt,” which was a bit humorous, and “God Gave Rock and Roll To You,” which was very enjoyable. Also, this song sounded more like the music on their previous two albums than the other songs on “Beat The System.”

One of the most famous bands ever, Kiss, later covered this tune, in 1991. It was released on the soundtrack for “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.” The film was the sequel to the classic, strange and hilarious comedy, “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” In the first film, Bill and Ted (Ted played by Keanu Reeves, who surprisingly because hugely famous.. he played the dumber of the two characters) traveled through time in a phone booth, collecting historical figures.

In the second film, Bill and Ted were killed. I forget how exactly. Most of the rest of the film was their funny and bizarre journey through various realms of the afterlife.

Although I’m not a Kiss fan, I think that band did a heck of a job covering the song.

Their cover was really a shock to me. Why? Because up until doing some research for this post, I thought the 1985 Petra version was the original. I was stunned that Kiss was even aware of Petra, and that they’d heard and liked the tune.

But the Petra version I heard in ’85 was.. not the original..

The original song was recorded by British band Argent (not a Christian band). Argent was started by a guy named Ron Argent. Argent means “silver” or “silvery white” in French, by the way. I had a feeling the name meant something, so I googled it.

The band Argent recorded the song in 1971 during their sessions for their album, “All Together Now,” which was released in 1972. However, the song was not on that album.

If you are an American, and not very familiar with Argent, don’t feel bad. They only had one hit over here, called “Hold Your Head Up,” from “All Together Now.”

“God Gave Rock and Roll to You” did not show up until their next album, “In Deep,” released in 1973.

Here is the original by Argent:

Here are the original lyrics. I’m posting the lyrics because Petra later got permission not only to cover the song, but change the lyrics. And after that, Kiss tweaked the lyrics.

God gave rock and roll to you
Gave rock and roll to you
Put it in the soul of everyone
God gave rock and roll to you
Gave rock and roll to you
Saved rock and roll for everyone
Love your friend and love your neighbour
Love you life and love your labor
No it’s never too late to change your mind
Don’t step on snails, don’t climb in trees
Love Cliff Richard but please don’t tease
It’s never too late to change your mind
God gave rock and roll to you
Gave rock and roll to you
Put it in the soul of everyone
God gave rock and roll to you
Gave rock and roll to you
Saved rock and roll for everyone
If you wanna be a singer or play guitar
Man you’ve gotta sweat or you won’t get far
‘Coz it’s never too late to work nine to five…

Cliff Richard? Mentioned in the song, but, as I am an American, I’ve never heard of this guy. Some pop stars in the UK don’t make it over here. However, Cliff Richard was so successful in his native land that he was made a Knight of the British Empire. He’s called Sir Cliff Richard. He is 79 now.

The lyric “please don’t tease” might have been a reference to Richard’s practice of Christianity, and his softer music sound that contrasted with his earlier recordings. Maybe he became less popular because of this choice. He was very popular before the Beatles became famous.

Enough about Sir Cliff..

I want to return to Petra for a bit..

After doing some reading, mostly on Wikipedia, I learned that Petra actually covered this song twice. The first Petra album I bought was their 5th release, “More Power To You.”  I didn’t go that far into their back catalog, and so was unaware of their second album, called “Come and Join Us,” released in ’77, and the first of two Petra albums to feature this song.

Petra’s sound had changed over time. Their first four albums were sort of generic rock, although in their 4th release, “Never Say Die,” it was clear they were starting to develop their own sound.

“More Power To You” and “Not of This World” were a lot more interesting than their previous albums.  A prog rock sound that was heavier than their earlier recordings, more bold, and had much more focus on keyboards.

And then, as I already mentioned, they made “Beat the System.”

But back in ’77, Petra didn’t have an official lead singer. They got a guy named Greg X. Volz to sing a couple songs on “Come And Join Us,” including the song I am writing about. Volz eventually became the lead singer, (I still think he was a truly great rock singer.. very unique voice) and recorded the song with the band a second time, in 1985.

Here are the Petra lyrics.. obviously Christian..

God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Put it in the soul of everyone.
God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Put it in the soul of everyone.
You can learn to dance
Or you can be a square
You can let the music take you anywhere
But where will you be when the music’s gone?
You can learn to sing
You can play guitar
You can learn to rock
You can be a star
But where will you be when the music’s gone?
If you love the sound
Then don’t forget the source
You can turn around,
You can change your course,
‘Cause it’s never too late to change your mind.
You can love the rock
And let Him free you soul
Or you can let the old man take his toll
It’s never too late to change your mind.
Here is the second of Petra’s renditions, and the one I first heard..

On to Kiss..

Because Kiss, like Petra, changed the lyrics some, Kiss released the song as “God Gave Rock and Roll to You II.”

Here are the Kiss lyrics..

God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Put it in the soul of everyone
Do you know what you want? You don’t know for sure
You don’t feel right, you can’t find a cure
And you’re gettin’ less than what you’re lookin’ for
You don’t have money or a fancy car
And you’re tired of wishin’ on a falling star
You gotta put your faith in a loud guitar
God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Gave rock and roll to everyone (oh yeah)
God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Put it in the soul of everyone
Now listen
If you wanna be a singer, or play guitar
Man, you gotta sweat or you won’t get far
‘Cause it’s never too late to work nine-to-five
You can take a stand, or you can compromise
You can work real hard or just fantasize
But you don’t start livin’ ’till you realize
I gotta tell ya
God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Gave rock and roll to everyone
God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Put it in the soul
God gave rock and roll to you (to everyone he gave the song to be sung)
Gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to everyone
God gave rock and roll to you (to everyone he gave the song to be sung)
Gave rock and roll to you, saved rock and roll for everyone
Saved rock and roll
God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Gave rock and roll to everyone
God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Put it in the soul of everyone
God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Gave rock and roll to everyone
God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you put it in the soul
I know life sometimes can get tough and I know life sometimes can be a drag
But people, we have been given a gift, we have been given a road
And that road’s name is rock and roll
Gave rock and roll to everyone
God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Put it in the soul of everyone
God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
Gave rock and roll to everyone
God gave rock and roll to you, gave rock and roll to you
And here is Kiss, with plenty of clips from the film.
https://youtu.be/ybmEK64OkjA
Damn. It is not showing up.. hopefully at least the link will work. I haven’t had a youtube glitch in years. I don’t know what is going on now.
That’s it for this entry. Coming up in later covers posts.. Neil Young, Type O Negative, Joni Mitchel, and Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Stay with me..

“East of Eden” by Leif Vollebekk… A truly beautiful song of peaceful longing.

August 23, 2020

This song caught my attention immediately the first time I heard it. Before I even heard the vocals. A song with an evocative guitar line of only a few notes, sparse instrumentation, and lyrics and vocals that all go together to make something bleak and yet warm, in a loving, longing way.

First a little about the singer, then a bit about the possible significance of the title.

After that, I present the lyrics, and try to interpret them as best I can. Then the recording. And lastly, I write a bit about the song’s origin.

The singer..

From Wikipedia:

Leif Vollebekk is a Canadian indie folk singer-songwriter, of mixed Norwegian Canadian and French Canadian descent[4] and originally from OttawaOntario,[5] he learned to play violin, guitar and piano in childhood.[4] While studying philosophy at the University of Ottawa he spent some time in Iceland on an educational exchange,[4] before moving to Montreal after graduation to pursue his musical career.[5]”

“East of Eden” is from Vollebekk’s third album, “Twin Solitude,” which was released in 2017.

The title..

Genesis:

The Book of Genesis is the first book of the Bible. The Bible is better thought of as a collection or library of books, written over the course of more than a thousand years, than thought of as one book, like a novel.

Those of you familiar with the Bible know that Adam and Eve, the first man and first woman created by God, according to the story, were banished from the Garden of Eden, and were sent east. They were banished because they had disobeyed God and had eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

We know they were sent east of Eden because of Genesis 3:24 (The parenthetical explanations are mine, not found in the text): “So He (God) drove out the man (and his wife, of course) , and placed cherubim (an angel) at the east of the Garden of Eden, and a flaming sword, which turned every way, to guard the tree of life.”

Eve did not bear her first child until after she and Adam were banished. Their first child was a son, who they named Cain. Cain was not only the first human born of woman, but the first murderer.

The second son was named Abel. Abel brought to God an offering that pleased God. Abel was a shepherd and brought God the best of his lambs, slaughtered. Cain was a farmer, and brought God the best of his crops. God did not like this offering. no mention why, in the Bible, except that God said Cain had done wrong.

Cain was very angry that God did not like his offering, so he killed Abel in a field. After he killed his brother, Cain was banished.

“Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the Land of Nod on the east of Eden.” Genesis 4:16. 

Land of Nod?

From Wikipedia: “Nod” (נוד‎) is the Hebrew root of the verb “to wander” (לנדוד‎). Therefore, to dwell in the land of Nod can mean to live a wandering life.”

.Like his parents, Cain was banished. East of Eden represents a place that is away from paradise. Cain was not born in Eden, and he never was allowed to go there. He became a wanderer.

John Steinbeck.

The title of John Steinbeck’s classic novel, “East of Eden,” was taken from this Bible verse. I wish I could tell you that I’ve read the book, but I have not, though I have read several others by Steinbeck. Going by the title, and by some of Steinbeck’s other works, I’m guessing the novel is a tragedy.

The story was turned into a film many years ago, one of only three movies starring James Dean.

No, I haven’t seen the film either.

But what does the song have to do with the Bible story or Steinbeck’s novel?

Seems like the song is about a wonderful relationship that ended. Paradise was lost, and we don’t know why.

The woman went wandering.

The singer, the narrator, is looking back on the relationship, savoring the memories, and wondering where his lost love has gone.

When I write about a song that is not well-known, I like to post the lyrics first, and the song later.

Here are the lyrics, and you will notice the Eden reference:

Tell me where are you going
You got the jack of diamonds
I got the knight of hearts
When the cards get stuck together
So hard to pull them apart
I think your face is showing
Ain’t the first time that it’s snowing
The first time in years
That it has stayed on the ground
And when it hits the streets
Oh, it don’t make a sound
But there’s just no way of knowing
Tell me is she east of Eden
She’s just like a book
And I don’t want it to end
Take it with me where I go
Turn the pages slow
She’s just like a book
I don’t want it to end
Love, how we talk at night
Love, how we talk at night
In the blue electric lights
Love, how we talk at night
Well, love, how we talk at night
In the blue electric light
No, I’m not the only one
No, I’m not the only one
At least I’m not the lonely one
No, I’m not the only one
No, I’m not the only one
At least I’m not the lonely one
Do what you are doing
Just do what you are doing
Do what you are doing
Just do what you are doing

 

I already wrote about what I think of the Eden reference, and what the song is about, so I’ll just start at the beginning and try to puzzle out the rest of the lyrics.

I know playings cards have meanings, so I decided to look up the two cards mentioned in the beginning of the song.

Presumably, it is the woman Vollebekk is speaking directly to, at first, and then later, but in the middle of the song, seems to be talking with someone else.

In the beginning of the song, it is the woman who has the Jack of Diamonds.

Here are some meanings for this card:

“Isolated, the Jack of Diamonds represents the postman or, better said, the messenger. It also symbolizes a young soldier or an unfaithful servant (assistant, employee); sometimes a young blond man, traitor and of bad morals. If the consultant is a young man, it is the announcement of new lovers.” – from cardarium.com.

How can the significance of this card be applied here? I can’t think of anything that really fits. The woman is not a messenger. Unfaithful? Doubtful. It is possible the narrator would still wish for the woman to be with him again, and be in a sadly romantic, reminiscing mood even if she cheated on him, but probably not.

Nope, I can’t make anything out of the Jack of Diamonds, and why it is associated with the woman.

The man has the Knight of Hearts.. well guess what.. there is no “knight of hearts” in a standard playing card deck. No knights at all.

Closest I can get to this card is in a Tarot deck, the Knight of Cups.

“In the Knight of Cups, a knight rides on a white horse and holds out a golden cup as if he bears a message from the heart.”  – from biddytarot.com

Tarot cards have two meanings. One is positive, and one negative. From biddytarot.com,

UPRIGHT: Creativity, romance, charm, imagination, beauty.

REVERSED: Overactive imagination, unrealistic, jealous, moody.

The narrator of the song and the song itself is definitely romantic, creative. Perhaps he also has the negative traits of this card, and that is why the woman left.

“The cards get stuck together..”  I think this could be a reference to a couple going from two to become one. All mixed up in each other, so much so, that seeing the individual can be difficult.

But the next line says.. “I think your face is showing.”

It seems the woman has disentangled herself from her man. She can be seen as an individual.

The reference to the weather I think does not have much symbolic significance, except that it emphasizes the bleak and lonely and beautiful feel of the music and the mood.

I imagine the man is alone watching the snow fall, and thinking about the woman.

In the next part, he is talking to someone else, or thinking to himself.. “Tell me is she east of Eden?”

So, yes, the woman has gone somewhere else.. wandering.

“She’s just like a book and I don’t want it to end..”

I like this line.. You probably remember reading a book for the first time that eventually became one of your favorite novels. You felt the same way. You didn’t want the story to end.

I think what he is referring to is his memories. He can take his memories with him and think about her wherever he is.

Not only that, but also he’d like to have her with him. She is wonderful, and he didn’t want to be separated from her.

Next he is talking to the woman again.. “Love, how we talk at night in the blue electric light.”

I think of blue at night as a soothing color. Peaceful.

Back when I was living in the Central Valley of California, I would, at night, sometimes drive past a little place called The Blue Light Motel, on the outskirts of the small city of Ripon, on my way home.

I really liked that landmark. A very small hotel with one line of neon blue running horizontally just under the eaves.

I always felt peaceful when I slowly rode past.

When I heard the song, I imagined a couple standing late at night at the motel, underneath the blue light, quietly talking.

The following line..

“No, I’m not the only one?” What does he mean?

Not the only one who loves to talk at night.  He means his woman loved this too.

But I also think he is referring to couples in general enjoying talking at night.

“At least I’m not the lonely one.”

An ironic line. He is lonely. He’s looking back to the time when he wasn’t, but is feeling romantic and lonely now.

“Do what you are doing.”

I had to think about this one a little.  Just saying keep on with whatever you are doing and wherever you are, I’m not going to come find you.

I value these memories. I miss you, but I’m going to let you be.

That’s the feel of the song, I think.

Before I present the song, I want to write just a bit about the instrumentation. Although I am not a good guitar player, I am a pretty good listener.  The guitar tone is not quite like any I’ve ever heard, and neither is the guitar line.

I’m guessing the guitar is one equipped with single coil pickups – I won’t get in depth into guitar electronics now, but single coil pickups, like those commonly found on Fender electric guitars, have a slightly thinner sound than pickups called humbuckers, which are two single coils wired together  to get a fuller sound. A single coil-equipped guitar could be partially responsible for this particular tone.

I don’t know if my guess is correct. I don’t know what kind of guitar was used on the recording. But in a few live videos, Vollebekk is indeed playing a Fender equipped with single coil pickups.

What guitar effects is he using? I’m really not sure. The drums have a certain way about them too, especially when the cymbals are hit. The drums were skillfully mic’d to achieve this sound.

Lastly, I read in an article on the the website brightonsbest.com (https://brightonsfinest.com/music/album-reviews/leif-vollebekk-twin-solitude/2017/) that Vollebekk recorded this album the old-fashioned way – on analog tape. Also, he mostly played live in the studio, instead of doing a lot of overdubs and laying each track down individually.  The sound is raw and honestly and purposefully a bit imperfect this way. And that’s another reason why it sounds the way it does.

The music, lyrics, and Vollebekk’s voice go together beautifully.

Here is the song..

 

The song’s origin..

According to Jeff Hemmings, the writer of the article I mentioned, Vollebekk is, “very straight-forward about his source. In this case it’s Gillian Welch’s spiritualist-cultural epic ‘I Dream A Highway’. Vollebekk says he found himself singing new verses to the existing rhythm and melody of the song. But, in doing so, has created a new, albeit much shorter version.”

Gillian Welch is one of the greats of Americana music. “I Dream A Highway,” is over 14 minutes long. No wonder Vollebekk wanted to write a shorter song.

I’ve found conflicting information about who actually wrote “East of Eden.”. Mostly, this song is credited to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, but elsewhere, Vollebekk is listed as one of the songwriters.

Regardless, it is lovely, and one of my favorite songs that I have discovered in the past year. I spend a LOT of time exploring music – sometimes using a streaming service – that’s how I found this song – and sometimes by buying a great many used CD’s from various decades –  most of them sampler albums – and harvesting the songs I like – adding them to my digital collection.

Yes, “East of Eden” is one of the best I’ve heard in a long time.

Beautiful.

Thanks to Leif Vollebekk, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, Jeff Hemmings, and the websites brightonsbest.com, cardarium.com, biddytarot.com, and of course thanks to the many writers of the articles on Wikipedia.

 

 

 

The NCAA, Transgender Athletes, Economic Sanctions, and Totalitarianism.

June 16, 2020
Almost all my posts are apolitical. My goal is to submit images and words that are of benefit to all.
However, on rare occasions, I read something in the paper that pisses me off so much that I feel a strong need to write about what I have read.
If you wish to comment, please do me the courtesy of reading this entire essay and thinking about what I have written before you leave a comment. Thank you.
My essay concerns the NCAA, transgender athletes, economic sanctions, and totalitarianism.
But first, some definitions are in order:
Girl/Woman – a female human being with a genuine vagina, ovaries, and etc. who was born female.
Trans-woman – a male human being with a penis and testicles, etc., who may or may not have had his genitalia voluntarily amputated, and who may or may not have had breast implants, or taken estrogen shots in an attempt to make “herself” more feminine. This person was born a male human being, but suffers from a serious mental disorder, sometimes called Gender Identity Disorder, and believes he is a she, but is not actually a she.
Boy/Man – a male human being with a penis and testicles, and the male plumbing that goes along with these body parts, who was born male.
Trans-man – A female human being with a genuine vagina, ovaries, etc. who may or may not have had her breasts surgically removed, and who may or may not be taking testosterone shots in an attempt to be more masculine. This person incorrectly identifies as male, has a serious mental disorder, and was born female.
Does everyone understand? If so, good. If not, go back and re-read the previous paragraphs as many times as necessary until you understand.
Now, the article I read today, Tuesday, June 16, 2020, in the Idaho Press, a local paper published in Nampa, ID.
It is important to know at least the core of what the article is about, and so I will type up the first part of it here:
Headline: “Anti-transgender law puts sports revenue at state.”
(The headline should read “Anti-transgender law puts sports revenue at stake.” But anyway..)
“Idaho’s anti-transgender sports law goes into effect July 1. But already the state risks losing millions of dollars as advocates call for an NCAA boycott.
The soon-to-be law bans transgender women and girls from competing on sports teams that align with their gender identity.
Athletes and rights groups are demanding the NCAA move its national basketball tournament and other college competitions from Boise next year. That would deal a further blow to businesses in an ailing economy.
‘That is one of our larger economic impact events for sure,’ said Carrie Westergard, director of the Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau.
She says when March Madness came to Boise in 2018 it brought $15 million to the state. The tournament games accounted for about 2,000 hotel nights. On top of that, those thousands of visitors are going out for dinner and drinks.
If the tournament happens on schedule, it could boost a service industry hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions.
‘We definitely do not want to lose business like the NCAA that has a huge impact on our community.'”
Leftist activists want to impose economic sanctions on Boise and the rest of the state by banning NCAA events here, and costing the city and the state of Idaho millions of dollars because a state law was passed to ban “girls and women” from being on girls’ and women’s teams, and ban “boys and men” from being on boys’ and men’s teams.
Why do I have a problem with transpersons being on teams whose gender they identify with?
Consider this possiblity: A “woman,” who is, in actuality, a man, who stands 6’9″, and weighs 220 pounds – all muscle – is allowed to play on a women’s basketball team. Let’s say this individual is not only an actual man, but someone who is exceptionally skilled at basketball. This person will dominate the sport, and give the team “she” is on a decidedly unfair advantage over teams who have only women athletes.
Not only that, but this “woman” will break all sports records for the team, and receive a woman’s scholarship – thereby denying a scholarship to someone who is a genuine woman.
Also, this “woman” will likely be allowed to change clothes and perhaps even shower with real women.
In order to remain competitive, other teams will have to find other “women” to join their rosters. More and more “women” will be on the teams, and less and less real women will play. And more and more trans-women will win athletic scholarships meant for real women.
Is this fair? No, it is absurd. And especially unfair to female athletes who are genuinely female.
Now, let us consider a woman who is a trans-man, playing on a male sports team, and changing clothes and showering in the men’s locker room. A small minority of male athletes in this country are terrible people. They are both able and willing to abuse and rape this tran-man, who is in fact a woman.
And a trans-woman, who is a man, has ample opportunity to damage women, if this person is allowed full access to a women’s locker room.
You may argue that the Idaho law discriminates against transgender athletes. But the law protects genuinely male and female athletes from being discriminated against. This law also aims at preventing abuse.
The Idaho congress recently passed this law to ensure that the vast majority of athletes, who are genuinely female and male, are protected, and to attempt to make sure the playing field is truly as level as possible.
But activists do not want this. They care most about furthering the cause of the LGBT
community (and whatever letters and symbols you want to add after so as to be inclusive.. I have sometimes seen LGBTQ+ and other designations), no matter who else is a victim. Even if they inadvertently put members of this community at risk of abuse.
These activists even want to punish not only of the city of Boise, but the state of Idaho by denying incredibly important revenue.
This is totalitarian ideology put into practice. That is, if the boycott actually happens.
Such a thing has already happened. Here is the rest of the article:
“The NCAA pulled tournament games from North Carolina for a law that forced transgender people to use bathrooms that did not align with their identity. The state legislature then repealed the bill.
Representative Barbara Ehardt is the Idaho Falls Republican who sponsored the Idaho law. She maintains the law is meant to protect female athletes and wouldn’t say whether the financial hit would be worthwhile if the NCAA pulled competitions from the state.
‘It’s disappointing because particularly looking at the women on this letter, these women benefited, absolutely, from Title IX,’ she said.
Title IX is a law mandating equal treatment of men and women in education.
The Idaho Attorney General’s Office has warned the new law may violate the Constitution’s Equal Protection clause. And the ACLU has sued the state, saying the law is unconstitutional.
The NCAA is reviewing whether the law violates its anti-discrimination policies.”
Unconstitutional? Seriously? If interpreted this way, the Equal Protection clause can eventually be applied to.. anyone.. regardless of what kind of destructive disorder a person has.. regardless of what horrible things a person wants to do. This goes way beyond sports!
To quote a line from a song I heard long ago, “If you tolerate this, then your children will be next.”
We are on a very slippery slope, and haven’t nearly reached the bottom.
 support the anti-transgender law, and I support keeping sports for actual girls and women and actual boys and men. This might not stop “progress,” but at least it will make a positive difference for student athletes, and stand against the madness of the leftist agenda and politically correct society.
Woe to those who oppose the left. Especially when lots of money is at stake.
Will Idaho cave and repeal the law, so as to keep our city and state economy from being severely crippled?
We shall see.
But we have already seen totalitarianism in action. And we shall soon see more and more of this in America.

The Covers: XI – “Enjoy The Silence.”

May 15, 2020

Ok.. moving away from classic country, after posts featuring Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash..

Definitely shifting genres..

Tonight’s selection is one of the best known, best loved songs by a group called Depeche Mode.. a band famous in the ’80’s and early ’90’s.

This band is unique in that, for much of their music, they did not use any instruments except synthesizers, the only exception being one of the guys playing a guitar occasionally.

Odd concerts they did.. not like most bands. Dudes standing at keyboards, mostly.

“Enjoy The Silence” is my favorite song of theirs, but a big reason for that is a cover version which I will present after the original.

First though.. a little bit about the band.

When they became popular here in the U.S., I was living in Chicago, and utterly enthralled by Top 40 radio. Back in the ’80’s, Top 40 radio was astonishing in both quality of music and variety.

Depeche Mode’s first big hit was in 1985, and was called “People Are People.” Being a conservative Christian kid, I was troubled by the lyrics, “What makes a man? Takes another man, help me understand.”

I thought it was a woman made a man .. you know, in movies there’s an attractive young woman, and an older man winks at a younger man and says something like, “Yeah, go with her, son, she’ll make a man out of ya.”

And this song was clearly promoting a gay lifestyle. Yeah, I was kinda uncomfortable with that (though I liked the song, otherwise. It had a lot of weird sounds, even for a new wave band) The culture back in the ’80’s, with new wave bands, especially Culture Club, with the obviously, famously gay singer, Boy George, was just starting to be more gay friendly, but not like our culture is today.

Considering the lyrics of “People Are People,” it’s no surprise that when a fellow 6th grader told me one of the band members, Martin Gore, was gay, I just accepted this.

I thought Martin Gore was gay until about an hour ago when I looked up the dude on Wikipedia.. as far as I can tell.. nope.. been married to two women, first marriage ending in a divorce and I think he is still married to second one.

I’ve read a load of Wikipedia articles in the past. A person’s sexual orientation comes up in some way or other in every article.

Can’t blame the kid who gave me the wrong information for being confused though.. gay reference in the lyrics, and Martin Gore’s androgynous image.. But then, who didn’t have an androgynous image back in the ’80’s? The hair metal guys did, especially Stryper, one of my favorite bands from back then, the new wave bands like Depeche Mode and Duran Duran, even Michael Jackson looked effeminate.

Alright so that rumor.. false.

Second thing I was told about the band when I was young.. the word “depeche” is French for “depressed.”

The band has made some.. many.. depressing songs.. but “depeche” meaning “depressed” has also turned out not to be true.

According to Wikipedia, the band liked the name of a certain French magazine, and used the name for their band.

But “depeche” means “dispatch” (which is what I came up with on google translate), or “news report.” And “mode” means something quite different than it does in English. The word, in French means “fashion.” I didn’t know that either..

The band thought the phrase meant “hurried fashion or fashion dispatch.” But according to Wikipedia, the name is best translated as “Fashion News,” or “Fashion Update.”

So… two things I believed about the band are in fact false. I so often learn something about songs and/or bands when I do a bit of research for these posts!

The band did not have another hit in the U.S. for 5 years.

1990 was a very good year for the band.. the year their album “Violator” was released. That album.. broke big.

First single was called “Personal Jesus.” Being an uptight Christian kid, I did not like that one either. Actually, I still don’t.. not because of the lyrics (I’m still uptight, but haven’t been a Christian in decades), I don’t like the music.. just don’t care for the song.

It was a very upbeat tune for Depeche Mode.

Their second single from Violator was much more somber, and I really liked it. That song was “Enjoy the Silence.”

 

If you haven’t heard this one in awhile, your reaction might be.. “hmmm… pretty ’80’s,” even though it was released in 1990. Still a great song though.

Here’s a live version from 1993..

 

.. But I like the cover version sooo much better.

Would I call myself a metalhead?

Yes, and no. I’ve been listening to metal since the ’80’s.. ok.. mostly hair metal back then.. but some Metallica tossed in, and a bit of Iron Maiden, and a whole lot of music by a very heavy (though perhaps not metal) Christian band called Rez, originally called Resurrection Band.. for more on this band, see my first two covers posts..

I still listen to metal. Often.

But.. the vast.. I mean the VAST majority of metal bands I cannot stand. I just have a few favorites.

The band I’m about to introduce to you is one of them.

Lacuna Coil.

Italian band (lyrics written and sung in English), formed in 1994.

“Lacuna” means empty.”

You might have encountered the word “lacuna” in a rather strange film.. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” One of my favorites. I will put the trailer at the bottom of this post, just for fun.

In the film, Lacuna is the name of a company that creates memory loss.. helping people not remember past traumas and disappointments. An empty space in the mind where the memory had been. Not a bad idea, or maybe..

The band Lacuna Coil thought of the name as meaning “empty spiral.” Why they chose the name, I do not know.

The group features both a female and male vocalist. The woman, Cristina Scabbia, sings more often than the male vocalist. Scabbia is a very good singer and frontwoman. She really impresses me.

There have been many metal bands that have female and male vocalists, such as the American band with the name I can’t spell and had to look up, Evanescence, the Finnish band Nightwish (another favorite of mine), and Amaranthe, from Sweden (yes, it really does seem like practically half of all metal bands come from Sweden). Amaranthe has one female singer and two male singers, but anyway..

I got into Lacuna Coil after reading about them in a guitar magazine. And right away, I bought their album “Karmacode,” released in 2006. Actually.. I first took an interest in the band after hearing an amazing song of theirs, called “Swamped,” on a sampler CD, then read about them..

Karmacode was Lacuna Coil’s third full-length album. I was thrilled to find a cover of “Enjoy the Silence” on that album.

If you want to get into Lacuna Coil, start with their second full-length album, “Comalies,” (the title being a combination of two words, “coma,” and “lies,” the song “Swamped” is the first track on that album) and then move on to “Karmacode.”

They’ve made some albums since, but I haven’t paid attention.

Why? A personality trait I have regarding music.. if I really love a few of a band’s songs, those are the only ones I want to hear, and have serious doubts any new material will sound as good. Pessimistic, I suppose, and I’ve not always been right.

Another reason, I listen to a staggering amount of bands.. but most bands in my various playlists, only one song per band. More variety that way, and also, so many bands seem to only be able to create just one good song.. or at least one song I like.

I’ve got at least six songs by Lacuna Coil in my playlists though, most of them from Karmacode. And “Enjoy the Silence” is the one I listen to the most.

Thanks for being so patient.. you are probably thinking.. play the damn song already!

So here it is, the version I like a lot more than the original.. (With artwork from the single, which is better than the pretty dull but strange album artwork)..

If you want to see what the band looks like.. here’s the video. Why are there cows in the video? I don’t know..

Alright! You were bangin’ your head, weren’t ya?

Not sure what cover tune I’m going to write about next..

Bonus material..

A Rolling Stone magazine article about Depeche Mode, published in 1990: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/depeche-mode-want-your-respect-233038/

And the trailer for “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Watch this movie!

 

Thanks for reading and listening, friends!

The Covers: X – “The Man In Black.

April 27, 2020

Last of four posts featuring Johnny Cash.

This one is odd for three reasons:

  1. It is not entirely a cover, since Johnny sings on part of the cover – he does a duet with the singer of the band covering this tune.
  2. This version is a hard rock/punk version by an obscure band. A punk cover had been made the year previous to this recording, but it was made by a much better-known band. In an earlier post, I presented the classic punk group Social Distortion’s cover of “Ring of Fire.” Cash did not sing on that one. What’s strange is the band this time was not at all famous. And Cash was on the recording. Only people like me who are in their 40’s or older, and who were into Christian hard rock when we were young (I graduated high school in 1991), probably remember the band Cash did this cover tune with.
  3. The third strange thing is I can find no information online on how this collaboration came to be.

This song is one of Cash’s best known and best loved. Here is some info from Wikipedia on the history of the song:

Man in Black” (or “The Man in Black“) is a protest song written and recorded by singer-songwriter Johnny Cash, originally released on his 1971 album of the same name. Cash himself was known as “The Man in Black” for his distinctive style of on-stage costuming. The lyrics are an after-the-fact explanation of this with the entire song as a protest statement against the treatment of poor people by wealthy politicians, mass incarceration, and the war in Vietnam. In the intro to his first performance of the song, Johnny Cash revealed he had talked to some of the audience members from Vanderbilt University that weekend, and was inspired to write “Man in Black,” revising it a few times just before the concert on Wednesday. He performed the song holding a piece of paper with the just-revised lyrics. At the end of the song he received a standing ovation.”

And now, the cover version/duet.. with the Christian punk/hardrock band One Bad Pig – a band who many Christians did not like.. these guys enjoyed smashing guitars and doing Gallagher-like stunts (though no watermelon smashing), and generally had a good time on stage. They, like pretty much all Christian bands except Stryper, were unknown outside of Christian circles.

But Cash was cool enough and had a good enough sense of humor to not only allow this recording, but to sing on it.

Cash purists will not like this cover version, but I am still going to post it. Why? Because it is a lot of fun. Also, I remember, back in ’91, a friend telling me “Johnny Cash is on the new One Bad Pig album!” I’d already bought OBP’s first album, and was a fan. I was very surprised to hear Cash on the second one.

So, from the 1991 album, “I Scream Sunday,” here is Johnny Cash and the band, One Bad Pig:

 

Alrighty..  Hope you aren’t deaf..

This was the last of four posts with Johnny Cash. I don’t plan on doing multiple posts on bands in the future, but who knows.. Actually, yes, I do have two Led Zeppelin covers in mind.. but I won’t be doing either of those next..

Next post is a song from one of the best known ’80’s syth-pop/new wave bands, and an Italian metal group’s fantastic cover.

RIP Johnny Cash.. you were, and always will be, The Man in Black.

The Covers: IX – “Hurt.”

April 27, 2020

This is the third of four posts featuring Jonny Cash.

As I mentioned in the previous post, Cash made several albums late in his career, with producer Rick Rubin.

Rubin had some unusual ideas for songs he thought Cash could cover. Last post was about the Soundgarden song “Rusty Cage,” and Cash’s cover of it.

This is the other cover that Cash is most famous for, at least for people of my generation,  “Hurt.” The song was originally recorded by Nine Inch Nails, an incredibly popular industrial hard rock band, fronted by Trent Reznor. (Supposedly, the nails used to crucify Christ were nine inches long. And no, NIN is not a Christian band).

Reznor wrote “Hurt,” and most if not all NIN songs. He also has created much of the musical arrangements. Reznor pretty much is Nine Inch Nails. “Hurt” was from NIN’s bestselling album, “The Downward Spiral,” released in 1994.

A word about industrial music before I go any further.. it is a genre that blends elements of dark hard rock, such as distorted guitar tones and intense vocals, as well as disturbing lyrics, with strange sound effects, including noises you might hear at a construction site, auto shop, or a factory. Lots of different mechanical noises, and sounds created on a computer or with a synthesizer, programmed drum beats.. Weird stuff.

Here is the original recording.. it starts almost imperceptibly, with just an eery sound effect for a few seconds..

 

And here is Johnny Cash’s version, from the album “American Recordings IV: When the Man Comes Around.” This album, from late 2002, was the last of Cash’s to be released while he was still alive. Cash died in 2003, at the age of 71.

Here is the cover song, not just the audio, but the video as well. One of the best videos ever made, I think. Especially if you know about Johnny’s past – struggles with drug addiction and so forth that not only caused damage to himself, but those closest to him as well.

 

If you would like to know the story of Cash teaming up with Rick Rubin, and how this song came to be covered by Cash, please take 10 minutes or so to watch this video from one of my favorite youtube channels, Rock and Roll True Stories. In the video are scenes from Cash’s last interview, as well as audio from an interview with Trent Reznor, the writer of this song.

 

 

For my fourth and last post on Johnny Cash, I am going to do something rather odd, that I don’t feel exactly good about. I think “Hurt” would have been a good place to end things with Cash, but..

Next post I’m going to present to you a song that isn’t entirely a cover song, since Johnny sings on both the original, one of his classics, and does a truly bizarre duet with an obscure Christian hard rock band that covered the song. I’m doing this to show a lighter, humorous side of Johnny Cash, and what a good sport he was to re-record one of his most famous songs in such a strange way.

After that post.. not sure.. too many ideas..

Stay with me..