Hey, it’s been a while. Now that I have more time for my self than I ever could have asked for, I had no excuse not to start putting things up on this blog again. This week’s (or whatever length of time it ends up being) video is “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” by R.E.M. I thought it was an appropriate song for reasons that I’m sure we can all guess. The video itself is relatively simple, just a kid and his dog sorting through junk in a broken-down shed, and I feel like, yup, that’s pretty much how the end of the world as we know it looks like right now. People stuck inside, forced to look at their own odds and ends all day, perhaps even going through or rearranging said odds and ends now that they have literally nothing else to do with their time, except maybe watch music videos on a blog that nobody’s ever heard of. Anyway, enjoy.
Video of the Week: “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” by R.E.M. April 6, 2020
Cover Story: “Love Hurts” November 22, 2019
So this heartbroken lament of a song has been covered so many times that I honestly didn’t have a clue who originally did it until I started researching it for my Cover Story. Turns out, it was the Everly Brothers in 1960, a version I don’t think I’d heard until now.
Next up we have Roy Orbison’s take on the song, released in 1961. The emotion is palpable in this version thanks to the singer’s unique, haunting vocals.
The first version of the song that I became familiar with is the countrified duet between Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris off of Parson’s 1974 album, Grievous Angel. The gorgeous harmony between the two singers is what really sells it, as does the pained moan at the end of the song. This might be my favorite version of the song, with Orbison’s rendition being the only possible exception. Maybe.
Now we come to the most well-known version of the song, Nazareth’s 1975 hard-rock rendition. This version replaces the word “stove” with “flame”, which on the surface makes the comparison to love more poetic, but I take issue with this change, as the phrase that follows is “burns you when it’s hot”, and a flame is never not hot, whereas a stove has a mode in which it isn’t hot. But that’s just me nit-picking. This is a stellar performance regardless.
Finally we have another countrified version, this time by two people not particularly known for country music. In 2004, Keith Richards and Norah Jones performed “Love Hurts” live at a Gram Parsons tribute concert. They did a pretty good job of it, too, if you ask me.
Video of the Relaunch: “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People November 21, 2019
I’m back! Hi, Mom! It’s been over six years, but I’ve finally gotten around to posting again. I’ve chosen “Pumped Up Kicks” as the video to herald my return, as it is one of my favorite, possibly my very favorite, song of this decade which is fast coming to a close (and which I’ve been absent for most of (sorry). Fun fact: the first time I heard this song was on VH1 or Fuse, and the words “gun” and “bullet” had been bleeped out, so for about a month or so I thought they were saying “better run, better run, outrun my shit.” The song got much better in my opinion, albeit more disturbing, when I found out the bouncy little ditty was actually about a would-be school shooter (not unlike the equally inappropriately catchy “I Don’t Like Mondays” by the Boomtown Rats). So the more you know, I guess? Anyway, enjoy.
What?! No! August 2, 2013
This is just terrible, terrible, terrible news:
I will be writing more on this later, but I need to gather my thoughts together on this one before I can even begin to express my opinion on the matter in any coherent way. All I can say is, I’m fucking pissed off right now.
Cover Story: “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself” April 15, 2013
Hey, after over a year, I finally got around to posting a second “Cover Story”. This time, it’s “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself”, which I chose because its title perfectly describes how I feel about my life right now, although for different reasons than those detailed in the song. This oft-covered break-up song was written by prolific songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and was first recorded in 1962 by Tommy Hunt. Whom I’d never heard of until doing research on this song, but you learn something new every day.
Probably the most famous version of the song (at least for pre-millenials, but more about that later) was recorded in 1964 by Dusty Springfield. Who, if you are one of those young’n’s who aren’t as oldies-literate as yours truly, was basically the Adele-meets-Florence-Welch of the 1960s. She was frickin’ awesome, mmkay? Springfield sang the hell out of this song, which peaked at #3 on the singles chart in her native UK, but never charted in the US. Two years later, Dionne Warwick released her own version of the song, which made #26 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Warwick’s version is very similar to Springfield’s in sound, if only a tiny bit slower and softer.
In 1968 yet another version of the song was released by Dionne Warwick’s aunt (and Whitney Houston’s mother) Cissy Houston. This version never did anything in the charts (I’m not sure if it was ever even released as a single), but I have to say, this version really stands out to me with its faster tempo and more upbeat sound (not that the lyrics are any less melancholy). This is probably the most unique-sounding version of the song I’ve yet encountered.
The following version of “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself” I decided to put here mostly because I know my mom reads this blog and that she is a big fan of Elvis Costello (and, well, so am I) and seems to be fond of his interpretations of other artists’ works. It also just happens to be an awesome version of the song, a slinky new wave renditions with a nice creeping bassline. Elvis Costello & the Attractions released this in 1978 on their Live Stiffs Live album.
And finally we have the White Stripes’ cover of “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself”. Released on their 2003 album Elephant, this particular version is what you might call “stripped down”, using Jack’s guitar and Meg’s drums as the sole instruments and throwing out about half of the song’s original lyrics. It is probably my favorite version of the song, as it is the first version of the song that I ever remember hearing (which is actually pretty surprising, considering I’ve been raised on oldies music since before I can remember and only really started listening to The White Stripes in 2009), and there’s just something about the jangly repeated guitar riff and Jack’s over-the-top falsettos. And, well, obviously, those who have read this blog before should know by now how much I love The White Stripes. Depending on how far back you’ve been reading this blog, you might also have some idea of how much I absolutely loathe the video that was made to go along with this song. So for this song, I’m deliberately including a clip of it being performed live. But it’s not just because I think the music video is dull unimaginative poop that doesn’t deserve to ever again see the light of day. It’s also because, frankly, this song as interpreted by The White Stripes is best appreciated as it’s performed live, in all its jangly, falsetto-y, vibrato-tastic glory.
There are like a gazillion other artists who’ve covered this song as well, including (but not limited to) Isaac Hayes, Linda Ronstadt, and even Gary Puckett (whose version is surprisingly not as nauseating as I’ve come to expect from him, but that’s probably because “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself” doesn’t have the words “woman”, “girl”, or “lady” anywhere in its lyrics). Those that I mentioned on this post are merely those that I found to be particularly noteworthy and/or enjoyable. If you have a favorite version of this song that wasn’t mentioned here, please feel free to comment (or even if you just feel like commenting on this song in general. And definitely leave a comment if you’ve got any suggestions for future “Cover Story” songs I might feature. But I would really appreciate some feedback. It gets lonely here sometimes).
Video of the Week: “Video” by India.Arie March 9, 2013
This week’s music video is a feel-good number from way back in the year 2000. I remember VH1 used to play this video a lot back when I was in seventh grade (back when I was a VH1 junkie and the channel’s motto was still “Music First”), which was a very self-conscious time for me. I really don’t want to go into detail about how much I’d learned to hate myself at that time, but I will say this much: the great thing about this song is that it not only declares the singer’s own-self esteem, but it does so in a way that actively encourages self-esteem in others. Which is a really big deal, since it seems that most works of self-praise (especially those done for and/or about women) imply that one has to put others down before one can feel good about oneself. But self-esteem need not be a zero-sum game, as India.Arie so effortlessly demonstrates with “Video”. Enjoy.
Video of the Week: “Rock ‘N’ Roll” by The Runaways March 2, 2013
Today (or yesterday, depending on when this gets posted and what time zone we’re going by) starts Women’s History Month. So I’ve decided to celebrate with this video capturing a live performance by one of the most badass bands of all time, The Runaways. For some reason (probably that they were more or less seen as a gimmick or a novelty or whatever, which yeah, they were kind of marketed as), they were way more popular in Japan than in their native US (probably because being a gimmick/novelty does not hurt one’s street cred in Japan like it does in the states. It might even be actively encouraged, or so I’ve been led to believe). Which is a shame, because they really rocked hard-core. Their image and musical style was very glam (check out frontwoman Cherie Currie’s Ziggy Stardust swagger in this video), but as far as attitude and sticking it to the man, they were just as punk as, well, their punk contemporaries (yeah, deal with it, Sex Pistols). I mean, they were the biggest all-female rock band of their time, and just in case their name doesn’t ring a bell, surely you’ve at least heard of Joan Jett and possibly Lita Ford, both of whom got their start in The Runaways (Joan’s the one in the red jumpsuit, like I even need to point that out since her look still hasn’t changed much except for that brief period when she had the platinum blond buzzcut; Lita’s the one in the supershiny short-shorts). That’s right. Two guitar hero(in)es in the making here. And the thing I love about this song is, it’s like those myriad songs about how rock ‘n’ roll had a profound impact on an impressionable youth (think “Shooting Star” by…one of those Paul Rogers groups or something…you know the one, about Johnny and how old he was when he heard his first Beatles song. That one), but this one is about it affecting a young girl in that way, which is kind of unusual even today. Enjoy.
Oh, and one last thing: a few years ago, a biopic of The Runaways called (duh!) The Runaways was made. The feature-length debut of music video director Floria Sigismondi (she did that weird Christina Aguilera “Fighter” video. Also, she’s done at least one video for each of Jack White’s bands. Which makes her pretty awesome in my book), the flick is worth a watch, even if you’re a bit skeptical of Kristen Stewart’s acting skills (I was/still kind of am. But she was pretty good as Joan Jett in this movie, I thought) or wary of seeing Dakota Fanning in fancy lingerie (don’t ask. For what it’s worth, it’s an iconic outfit that Cherie Currie really did wear in real life when she was about the same age, and she was more or less marketed against her will as jailbait. Currie, I mean, not Fanning. Oh, and just be glad you’re not watching Hounddog. Yipes), or if you’re made uncomfortable by the occasional lesbian subtext (because Joan Jett actually is…I’m not entirely sure what, but she’s almost definitely not totally heterosexual, at the very least).
Video of the…er…Current Indeterminate Interval of Time: “I’m Shakin'” by Jack White February 21, 2013
If you’re a faithful follower of my blog (yeah, as if), you probably know that I love me some Jack White. And if you recall the last time I posted about Jack White, you’ll remember that this was my reaction to his then-pretty-new music video for “Freedom at 21”:
I’m not even going to trouble myself with explaining once again why I had such an averse reaction to the video. If you’re curious, you can read it all here (hint: sexism and cliches beget such ugly babies). Well, I want you all to know that even though I still consider the aforementioned video to be a pathetic disappointment, I’ve decided not to let that weigh too much on my opinion of Mr. White, because since then he’s done several things to remind me that he’s still absolutely wonderful. And one of those things was his next video, “I’m Shakin'”, which came out back in October or whenever. Yeah, I was going to write about it back then, but only a few days after I discovered the video, Sandy happened, and I was living in (okay, a really spoiled version of) the dark ages for several days. Thus, my plans for this blog post kind of fell by the wayside. The reason I’m writing about it now is because I’ve recently fallen even more head-over-heels back in love with Jack White since then, what with him performing on the Grammys a couple weeks ago, which actually gave me a reason to bother watching the Grammys, which I haven’t done since 2009 (back when Consolers of the Lonely was up for some awards but didn’t get anything, so I wasted a good two or three hours waiting to at least see the Raconteurs accept an award, but to no avail. That’s right; Jack White is pretty much my only reason to ever watch the Grammys). And well, that rekindled my love for the man all over again, to the point that I spent Valentine’s Day watching my DVDs of Under Blackpool Lights, It Might Get Loud, and Under Great White Northern Lights to celebrate my unabashed fangirl love for the man (I’m single and unemployed; what else am I supposed to do?).
Anyway, more about this video: it’s basically the most badass Doublemint gum commercial that never happened. There’s two Jack Whites in this video (because the only thing that could possibly be better than one Jack White is two Jack Whites), one fronting each of his two backing bands, the all-male Buzzards and the all-female Peacocks (which I think is a weird name for an all-female group, considering peacocks are, by definition, male peafowl. But peahens are neither as well-known, nor nearly as pretty as their male counterparts, so whatevs. I’d say birds are weird that way, but it’s actually humans who have all the weird ideas about gender presentation). Yay for pretty much equal representation of men and women! And yay for badass women rockers! Special mention also goes to Jack’s two female backup singers, who, along with Jack, get to perform with both groups, which means that the ones performing with the Buzzards get to wear some snazzy suits. Not stripperiffic versions of male uniforms, either; I mean suits that are maybe tailored a bit more to the female body, but otherwise just like the suits the dudes are wearing. They even got hats. Now the only thing that would make this even more perfect is if one of the Jacks was wearing a kilt (he’s been known to wear kilts on occasion, or at least back when he was in The White Stripes and The Raconteurs. He’s part-Scottish and everything, too), but hey, the photo-negative-y suits he wears are awesome enough (and for me, kinda reminiscent of “Daddy’s Song”). Plus, the two dancers who are in the video for no discernable reason beyond just being totally awesome (I’m especially impressed with the male dancer’s moves. Holy crap). And then there’s that little wiggle Jack does at about 1:50-1:53 which is the most adorable thing in the whole wide world. Well, that and the way Jack pronounces the word “nervous” in the song (I’d say it was in a “Joizee” accent, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m from New Jersey and know better. But I’ve been in love with that pronunciation of “nervous” ever since I heard Mae West say it in She Done Him Wrong). So anyway, enjoy.
Check out my new blog! January 29, 2013
Due to my increasing feelings (mostly rage) regarding media that isn’t necessarily music, I’ve decided to create another blog to address those issues so that this blog doesn’t go kind of off-topic as often. I call it “Nope. Not Impressed.”, and it is an outlet for all my media-induced-rage (and occasionally more positive feelings, I guess) and feminist screeds not relating to music (those relating to music will probably get cross-posted to this blog). I will still be posting on this blog (once in a blue moon, I guess), as my love for music has not diminished one iota; rather, the things I tend to want to write about have expanded beyond music, and I’d rather not let my angry media critic/feminist side completely overtake my happy music fan side all on this single blog.
In infinitely awesome news… August 9, 2012
(note for all you cynical types who think that just because a band got together in a way that was less than organic and at least partially for the purposes of “selling a product” other than music automatically negates any kind of musical talent or cultural merit: I fart in the general direction of your elitism. That means you too, Jann S. Wenner)
The (three remaining) Monkees have announced that they’re going back on tour! Yes, even Nesmith (who, contrary to popular belief, wasn’t so much opposed to joining previous Monkees reunions as he was insanely busy at that time being a multimedia renaissance man and coming up with the prototype for MTV)! Of course it won’t be quite the same without Davy Jones, but I’m sure their departed bandmate will be anything but forgotten on this tour. There ought to be many a moving tribute in his honor, I’d imagine (just so long as they don’t do one of those creepy duet-with-a-holographic-dead-guy numbers).