This week I’m serving up music this hour that dives into some deep territories in story-telling and emotional content, with a show titled Beyond The Surface. Sometimes it’s good to focus on musical themes. This time I have songs involving letting go, betrayal, forgiveness, and love. New music and some older stuff all in the mix with the flavors of soul, folk, rock, and even gospel. The Appetizer is available for seconds, thirds, or even eighths. Hear the show again. Click HERE. Enjoy!
Your House (Hidden Track)/Alanis Morissette/Jagged Little Pill Acoustic
Long Road to Forgiveness (feat. Jason Mraz)/Brett Dennen/Live Session (iTunes Exclusive)
The A Team/Ed Sheeran/The A Team – Single
Dear Refuge Of My Weary Soul (Live)/Indelible Grace Music/The Hymn Sing: Live In Nashville
Grux/Dave Matthews Band/Big Whiskey and the Groo Grux King
Be Your Man (Acoustic)/Ivan & Alyosha/The Cabin Sessions
No Strings/Mayer Hawthorne/No Strings – Single
I Like You/Rosi Golan/Lead Balloon
I Will Walk/Release the Sunbird/Brushfire’s Greatest Hits of 2012
Concrete Wall (RAC Remix)/Zee Avi/Brushfire’s Greatest Hits of 2012
The Reaping/Coheed & Cambria/Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Vol. 2: No World For Tomorrow
Bigger Man/Maya Solovey/ Forte
Born to Die/Lana Del Rey/Born to Die – Single
Little Balloon/Jenny & Tyler/Open Your Doors
The Promise/Bruce Springsteen/Bruce Springsteen: 18 Tracks
I was having a conversation recently with 2 amazing songwriters that I know and they were both commenting on the layers of depth in really great writers, as illustrated in how one line can take the listener to a variety of places and multiple meanings depending on the experiences of the person hearing the song. For both of my friends, Simon and Garfunkel’sThe Boxer accomplished this feat in ways other songs miss the boat entirely.
I agree. This nugget of conversation got me thinking about other songs that dive into waters avoided by many other artists. There are those artists who tend to write only a few types of music, “party” songs or similar where a baseline beat is laid out and only a few lines of lyrics compose the track. There’s really no depth to the tune, it’s point and purpose is fun, partying, and the like. That has its place. But when that’s all you can write, there’s a lot missing.
Without necessarily intending to do so, I compiled an hour of music that will be featured in the next episode of The Appetizer that illustrates a lot of this dynamic, in that some artists have a gift in not just writing beautiful music with well-crafted lyrics, but also going beyond the surface to tackle stories, situations and feelings that are not only off the beaten path, but sometimes not articulated near as clearly or powerfully as they are in music.
Some examples of this include songwriters like Simon & Garfunkel, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, Gordon Lightfoot, and Bob Dylan. But those guys are the givens, the people usually attributed to amazing storytelling about tough issues including betrayal, heart-ache, murder, retribution, forgiveness, sorrow, redemption, and love. I spent some time not only diving into the legends but also getting into some music that doesn’t get the credit it deserves for being layered with depth that compares to the icons.
I’m talking about songs like Alannis Morissette’sYour House. It’s a hidden track on her Jagged Little Pill album. The song is about trying to let go of a love that is no more, and that letting go can be the hardest thing. The way she describes having to separate herself from the memories of her lost love by going back to the places where the relationship existed is something we’ve all had some form of experience in.
How about a band that probably isn’t thought of off the top of our heads when we think about deep storytelling-Blink 182. Yeah these punk stars had a few songs in the 90s that dealt with everything from teenage suicide (Adam’s Song) to divorce (Stay Together For The Kids). Then again I’m a child of the Grunge era, where alternative rock took the headlines and spit them back in the faces of the people most responsible for them-us. That was one of the subjects that fueled the writing of Cobain, Vedder, Cornell and others. They weren’t alone. Many artists in just about every genre of music dive into deeper waters, trying to speak for the voiceless and attempting to raise awareness of the victims of issues who have no power (a followup of additional aspect of this kind of songwriting can be found on an AbileneTexan post I did on Tim Palmer).
What about you? What artists or songs really jive with you on deeper realms of music that’s more than just good sound, music, or fun? I’d love to get your take.
By the way, the two amazing songwriters from the conversation were Elliott Park and Ed Priest. They’re home-grown Texas guys with an incredible talent for creating stories in music that pales in comparison to just about everything else that’s out there.
I had lunch with my friend Grant (yes he’s a different dude and I’m not speaking in third-person) about the subject matter of this past week’s show (Return of the CD). Together we share an affinity for both CDs, as well as mp3s. There’s something about having the hard copy of something that has a value and meaning for some people that younger individuals or generations might not understand.
I’m 30, so I’ve lived during the eras of different forms of audio experience. As a kid, my parents still had records and there were remnants of 8-tracks, though my folks didn’t embrace that medium. We had cassette tapes that we listened to constantly. When CDs came out, we were about 5 years behind the pop-culture curve. I got my first CD player in middle school as a teenager. My first 2 CDs were Eric Clapton’s Greatest Hits and the first Weezer album. I still listened to TONS of mix tapes that I either recorded off the radio or were assembled by friends. In college, Napster and the other music download sites became huge. I have thrown away the cds I made or picked up from those places (I honestly did around age 24). But that was the cusp of the change into our current era, where music is acquired over the Internet in a digital form that your hands will never touch.
Apple took the mp3 method of gaining sound for yourself and added a higher quality to it (your iTunes download is aac not mp3, if you didn’t know). Now you can buy digital versions of songs that are many many times higher quality than mp3, and higher quality than CD. I don’t know the name of this version of audio, but I hear it costs about $25. That’s wild.
When I have to turn in reports at work, the question is asked whether I need to submit a digital copy or a hard copy. I wonder how much longer we’ll live in a world that knows both of those mediums. Will anything that’s digital make what is tangible obsolete? Grant was telling me that he gets solicitations regularly for albums for sale in CD version for 50-75% off. I get some of those too. We speculated what the reason for that is. I don’t know if there is one reason or answer. Here’s my theory: The industry or disc makers have decided that CD sales are such a small percentage of the digital track and album sales, so the cost to produce and publish hard copies is on the rise. Therefore, they’re not going to make as many discs for an artist as they used to. Maybe even going so far as to say that disc copies make it more expensive for indie labels and mainstream labels to cut back on their production. Stores hearing this have hence decided to cut back their inventory and restructure how their stores are set up for selling hard copies.
That’s just a theory and the only thing to corroborate that is looking at how stores that sell CDs and/or movies are changing the way their departments for those items are configured. I’m finding that stores are changing how they’re setup and seemingly liquidating a lot of hard copies. So for these reasons, or at least with this impression, it seems to me that now is the time to buy CDs. If you can find a hard copy of an album for $4 or $5, that’s cheaper than downloading it for $10 or more online. Plus you have the hard copy in case some strange thing happens where your hard drive crashes or your computer dies and you lose your music collection. I confess that’s a reason why I’m not sold on this whole “cloud” thing. I want the hard copy. There’s insurance in having it.
These are just some thoughts that came to light in conversation. There’s more to be said and in the coming weeks I’ll elaborate more on it. Your thoughts are always welcome. Leave a comment and let’s talk.