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GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

Posted on: September 26, 2009 10:22 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2009 10:51 am
 

                                 THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK


In this version. I would like to continue with what I call complete songwriters, those who write both lyrics and melodies, that originated from some part of the British Empire. At it’s greatest, the British Empire included England, Ireland, India, Australia, parts of the Caribbean and the Asian islands around Indonesia and the Philippines. For argument’s sake, let’s include continental Europe so I have some place to put Mark Knopfler(I guess this would also make ABBA eligible although I won’t be writing that one!!!!) Once again, I’m asking everyone to hold back on songwriters who are primarily collaborators, such as JAGGER/RICHARDS, PINK FLOYD, U2, ELTON JOHN/TAUPIN, etc. as we can cover them in part 3. This should still give us a large amount of  songwriters to discuss. Again, I tend to be most knowledgeable in the mainstream rock genre from the mid 60s to the late 80s and will concentrate my writings in that area. Others of you who can fill in the niches I’m less familiar with or who have particular songwriters they feel strongly about please should feel free to extol their virtues as I don’t want my own point of view to dominate this too much. OK, enough rules, let’s try to have some fun.

I have a theory that much of the succcess of the British invasion and their point of view on life and art is the result of growing up in post World War II England. I have seen many interviews/shows on how many of this generation of English kids were fatherless and grew up in bombed out suburban settings that Americans can never duplicate or fully understand. It has to be more than a coincidence that so many significant musical figures come from England and were born between 1938 and 1950, including all of THE BEATLES, THE ROLLING STONES, THE WHO and THE KINKS. These kids didn't have playgrounds, they had remnants of bombed buildings to play in. A large percentage of them attended British art schools as well. Perhaps this required them to develop their creative imaginations at an earlier age, perhaps its all just a fluke. Regardless, this has to be the richest period for producing a new generation of artists that all longed for the paradise they thought America to be compared to their homeland and sought it out in the rhythm and blues of the black musicians of the American south.


Category: General
Comments

Since: Mar 20, 2008
Posted on: October 1, 2009 4:34 pm
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

ROCK, that is a great call on JOE JACKSON.  LOOK SHARP is a great debut album and unfortunatley, the only Joe Jackson album I own. Like Dylan, the song titles are not always obviously related to the actual songs, so people like me have heard more of his work than they are aware of because they don't know the names of the songs. The radio station I prefer plays one of his tracks that I really like and the only line I can really remember is "something's going on around here" I think. It could even be on LOOK SHARP and I wouldn't know it as I haven't gotten that piece of vinyl out since I took the CD plunge around 1990. His name has crossed my mind when I hear one of songs, but honestly I would never have thought to include him here though he is totally deserving. He passes my main test in that he is more interested in writing a song for it's artistic value rather than for commercial success. A truly diverse and vastly underappreciated talent and kudos to you for bringing him into this debate. BRAVO ROCK!! 



Since: Jul 23, 2007
Posted on: October 1, 2009 2:20 pm
 

JOE JACKSON

Contrary to popular belief, Joe Jackson is not just a poor man's Elvis Costello.  Actually, he is a very fine songwriter who uses incorporates jazz, classical and pop atandards into his music.  In his early career, he was part of a trio of "angry young men" (along with Costello and Graham Parker) who challenged punk rock and helped to usher in the New Wave that dominated the early 80s music scene.  Jackson will always be remembered for "Is She really Going Out With Him?", a classic power pop tune bemoaning the fact that all the pretty girls have gorillas for boyfriends.

Jackson then began to explore jazz and the American pop of crooners like Frank Sinatra.  His 1982 album Night And Day paid tribute to the wit and style of Cole Porter, as well as to Jackson's new home, New York City.  NIght And Day became Jackson's most successful album and "Steppi' Out" was a huge hit.

Later in hs career, Jackson would focus on movie scores, then abandon pop music entirely for years in favor of classical music.  In 2008, he returned to pop music with his album Rain.



Since: Jul 23, 2007
Posted on: October 1, 2009 1:55 pm
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

Fans, I'm blown away.  Thanks for the great article on Van the man.



Since: Mar 20, 2008
Posted on: October 1, 2009 11:17 am
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2



      
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;    Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic


      
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bsp; VAN MORRISON

Van Morrison is simply one of the most diverse, prolific, influential, spiritual songwriters to ever grace us. Listening to a complete album of his songs is like taking a transcendental trip into an otherworldly existence. Morrison may be the purest artist to ever record, totally devoted to his vision of music and uncompromising in his approach to making it. He has recorded songs of every genre imaginable, even creating a genre of which he is the only member, CELTIC SOUL. While many people will take him as a lightweight based on his most commercially successful  songs BROWN EYED GIRL and DOMINO, it is the masterpieces that many of his albums are considered that we should judge him by. Rather than just gush my own feeling about him, I am going to quote several rock music critics and musicians here to show just how important Van Morrison is in rock history.

SONGWRITING STYLE

Bob Dylan, a like-minded soul mate of Van Morrison, has said that "Tupelo Honey" has always existed and that Morrison was merely the vessel and the earthly vehicle for it. Dylan intended his comment, of course, as the ultimate compliment. Morrison responded in a Rolling Stone interview in 1984 that "That's the only way I write. That's the only way I can write." In other words, these writers, like Keith Richards, feel that the best songs are in the firmament, the collective unconscious, and great artists have their "antennas" up ( Richards' metaphor) to receive them. "Tupelo Honey" does indeed have that timeless quality of, say, the Band's songs from the same era. Morrison had tapped into the "mystic" already starting on his masterwork Astral Weeks, and his explorations of the soul, on all its levels -- transcendence, exuberance, misery -- continued through the 1970s on records like Moondance and Veedon Fleece. His muse during this period was clearly his wife, Janet Planet (formerly Janet Rigsbee and now known as Janet Morrison Minto), who he had met during his tenure with the seminal Irish R&B outfit Them and who had inspired many of his early great songs like "Ballerina. "Tupelo Honey" is an ebullient look at the domestic bliss Morrison had found. Morrison's lyrics, singing, and phrasing are so free and natural on the country-soul song that it is indeed hard to imagine that the song, and the original recording of "Tupelo Honey," has not always been there. "Men with insight, men of granite," which Morrison playfully pronounces "gran-eyete," no one and nothing can stand in their way "to freedom." There is loose a joie de vivre, a peaceful contentment to Morrison's near-perfect recording, which begins with drummer Gary Mallaber's jazzy shuffle and a bittersweet theme -- played on flute ( Stuart "Boots" Houston), organ ( Ted Templeman, who is also the record's producer), and vibes ( Mallaber) -- which reoccurs throughout the piece. By the time of the vamp at the end of the song, Morrison and the band have kicked it up a bit into a joyful incantation.   By Bill Janovitz

GREAT RECORDINGS

ASTRAL WEEKS   This is so not a rock and roll record that it cannot fit into any one genre, but it is probably the record that best shows off Morrison’s guitar skills.

Astral Weeks is generally considered one of the best albums in pop music history. For all that renown, Astral Weeks is anything but an archetypal rock & roll album: in fact, it isn't a rock & roll album at all. Employing a mixture of folk, blues, jazz, and classical music, Van Morrison spins out a series of extended ruminations on his Belfast upbringing, including the remarkable character "Madame George" and the climactic epiphany experienced on "Cyprus Avenue." Accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, Morrison sings in his elastic, bluesy voice, accompanied by a jazz rhythm section (Jay Berliner, guitar, Richard Davis, bass, Connie Kay, drums), plus reeds (John Payne) and vibes (Warren Smith, Jr.), with a string quartet overdubbed. An emotional outpouring cast in delicate musical structures, Astral Weeks has a unique musical power. Unlike any record before or since, it nevertheless encompasses the passion and tenderness that have always mixed in the best postwar popular music, easily justifying the critics' raves.
By William Ruhlman

MOONDANCE  My favorite album of his

The yang to ASTRAL WEEKS’ yin, the brilliant Moondance is every bit as much a classic as its predecessor; Van Morrison's first commercially successful solo effort, it retains the previous album's deeply spiritual thrust but transcends its bleak, cathartic intensity to instead explore themes of renewal and redemption. Light, soulful, and jazzy, Moondance opens with the sweetly nostalgic "And It Stoned Me," the song's pastoral imagery establishing the dominant lyrical motif recurring throughout the album -- virtually every track exults in natural wonder, whether it's the nocturnal magic celebrated by the title cut or the unlimited promise offered in "Brand New Day." At the heart of the record is "Caravan," an incantatory ode to the power of radio; equally stirring is the majestic "Into the Mystic," a song of such elemental beauty and grace as to stand as arguably the quintessential Morrison moment.
By Jason Ankeny


IT’S TOO LATE TO STOP NOW

IT’S TOO LATE TO STOP NOW has been on several lists of greatest live albums of all time. Johnny Rogan states that “Morrison was in the midst of what was arguably his greatest phase as a performer.” The album was made from tapes of the three month tour of the US and Europe in 1973 with the backing group The Caledonia Soul Orchestra. While Van Morrison is, to be kind, an erratic and temperamental live performer, he's in stellar form throughout the double album It's Too Late to Stop Now, a superb concert set that neatly summarizes his career from his days with THEM (represented by scorching renditions of "Gloria" and "Here Comes the Night") through 1973's HARD NOSE THE HIGHWAY ("Warm Love," "Wild Children"). In addition to the hits, including "Caravan," "Domino," and "Into the Mystic" (the final line of which gives the album its title), Morrison even pulls out a handful of R&B chestnuts ("Bring It on Home to Me," "Ain't Nothin' You Can Do") before capping off the collection with a show-stopping rendition of ASTRAL WEEKS' "Cyprus Avenue." An engaging, warm portrait of the man at the peak of his powers.  By Jason Ankeny

INFLUENCES

Morrison's influence can readily be heard in the music of a diverse array of major artists and according to The Rolling Stone's Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll (Simon & Shuster, 2001), "his influence among rock singers/song writers is unrivaled by any living artist outside of that other prickly legend, Bob Dylan. Echoes of Morrison's rugged literateness and his gruff, feverish emotive vocals can be heard in latter day icons ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Elvis Costello". His influence includes U2 (much of The Unforgettable Fire );Bono ("I am in awe of a musician like Van Morrison. I had to stop listening to Van Morrison records about six months before we made The Unforgettable Fire because I didn't want his very original soul voice to overpower my own."John Mellencamp; Jim Morrison; Joan Armatrading(the only musical influence she will acknowledge);Rod Stewart; Tom Petty; Rickie Lee Jones (recognises both Laura Nyro and Van Morrison as the main influences on her career); Elton John; Sinead O'Conner; Phil Lynott,of Thin Lizzy; Bob Seger ("I know Bruce Springsteen was very much affected by Van Morrison, and so was I." from Creem interview) Dexys Midnight Runners ("Jackie Wilson Said"); Jimi Hendrix ("Gloria"); Nick Drake and numerous others, including the Counting Crows (their "sha-la-la" sequence in Mr Jones , is a tribute to Morrison).  Morrison's influence reaches into the country music genre, with Hal Ketchum acknowledging, "He (Van Morrison) was a major influence in my life."
From WIKIPEDIA

GENRE

The music of Van Morrison has encompassed many genres since his early days as a blues and R&B singer in Belfast. Over the years he has recorded songs from a varying list of genres drawn from many influences and interests. As well as blues and R&B, his compositions and covers have moved between pop music , jazz , rock , folk , country , gospel , Irish folk and traditional , big band , skiffle , rock and roll , new age , classic and sometimes spoken word ("Coney Island ") and instrumentals . Morrison defines himself as a soul singer. Some of Morrison's music has been classified in a genre of its own and referred to as "Celtic soul" or what biographer Brian Hinton referred to as a new alchemy called "Caledonian soul." Another biographer, Ritchie Yorke quoted Morrison as believing that he has "the spirit of Caledonia in his soul and his music reflects it." According to Yorke, Morrison claimed to have discovered "a certain quality of soul" when he first visited Scotland (his Belfast ancestors were of Ulster Scots descent) and Morrison has said he believes there is some connection between soul music and Caledonia. Yorke relates that Morrison "discovered several years after he first began composing music that some of his songs lent themselves to a unique major modal scale (without sevenths) which of course is the same scale as that used by bagpipe players and old Irish and Scottish folk music."   From WIKIPEDIA

IN CONCLUSION

Van Morrison has to be included in any list of  greatest songwriters. His career spans over four decades, he has influenced some of the most influential songwriters of all time and he continues to devote himself to his CRAFT out of love, not financial need. Minstrel is probably a term that applies more to Van Morrison than to anyone else of my lifetime. I definitely put Van Morrison in my ALL TIME FIVE BEST, both as a songwriter and as a performer.

And we'll send you glad tidings from New York
Open up your eyes so you may see
Ask you not to read between the lines
Hope that you will come in right on time
And they'll talk to you while you're in trances
And you'll visualize not taking any chances
But meet them halfway with love, peace and persuasion
And expect them to rise for the occasion
Don't it gratify when you see it materialize
Right in front of your eyes
That surprise

And they'll lay you down low and easy















Since: Jul 23, 2007
Posted on: October 1, 2009 8:47 am
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

Thanks for the kind words, Fans.  I love reading your blogs and you are so much better at writing these in-depth reviews of artists/songwriters than I am.  I just enjoy getting to talk about some of the srtists that I like that other people may not have heard much of.  Sorry, but I'm not familiar enough with Nick Drake to write an article.  I do love everything I've heard by him, and he is one of those guys that I should make more of an effort to listen to.  I'm trying to think of someone else to write on, but the only thing I'm coming up with is one of my favorite writing duos, whom I'll save for blog on songwriting teams.

Clean, Graham Gouldman is(was?) a great pop songwriter.  Like Fans, I hadn't even thought of him in regards to this blog.  Good job coming up with him.

JP, a real conversation with Ray Davies?  Wow!




Since: Apr 6, 2009
Posted on: September 30, 2009 9:01 pm
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

Fansince,your interpretation is correct.One day,the 60's and 70's were a long time ago,like another lifetime.Now we need some Raider wins.



Since: Mar 20, 2008
Posted on: September 30, 2009 8:57 pm
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

JP ,  am I interpreting your post correctly in that you are actually on speaking terms with Ray Davies???    If so, that is very cool. I have had several close encounters with some band prominent band members and performers and had the chance to talk(and even PARTAYYYYY if you know what I mean mid 80s style) but not anyone as prominent or artistic as Ray Davies. Also thanks for the kind words. Someday you have to tell me why you are no longer an active musician as I am a frustrated musician, a guitarist good enough to be asked to become a band member several times on a local level but just not willing to make the commitment to the type of night life required of struggling bands to make money. I have a good understanding of music theory and could talk music for days with someone like minded. That is also where I approach a lot of my assessments of artists, from learning their songs and patterns. Anyway, good to see you drop by and GO RAIDERS.

CLEAN , again you make a valid point about someone I had overlooked. I really liked 10CC and have two of their albums, THE ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK  and THE BEST OF.  I haven't gotten them out in years and didn't realize how many of their songs were written by Graham Gouldman or that he had a solo career of his own as a songwriter and performer. Good call as they were one of the most cerebral bands with a pop sound to emerge from the 70s scene in England. Very underappreciated in this country.

BTW, glad to see the traffic picking up here and THANK YOU to everybody for coming by and tolerating my preachiness. Please invite any others you all think might like this type of discussion format. While it's labor doing this, it's a LABOR OF LOVE(one of my favorite Kinks songs, BTW). And I know most of you that are regular visitors pretty well and really respect all of your's knowledge of music, I'd like a little more diversity but I'll take what I get as blogging is definitely more time consuming than cxaasual chatting  on the threads.



Since: Apr 6, 2009
Posted on: September 30, 2009 7:58 pm
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

Fansince, great work on Lennon,McCartney and Townsend,but you struck a chord on your piece about Ray Davies.The Kinks were one of my favorite bands and Ray was in my  opinion one of the greatest songwriters of all time.You Really Got Me,and All Day and All of the Night,were an early indication of the bands ability to write and perform Rock and Roll songs but gave no indication of what was to come .The late 60's,' were Davies lauching pad for satire. Well Respected Man,followed by Dedicated Follower of Fashion,and would continue with Lola.and Apeman.

Ray wrote some beautiful, introspective songs that reflect his upbringing and his feelings of the times and his surroundings.Songs such as Autumn Almanac,Days,Death of a Clown,Dead End Street,Victoria,See My Freinds and Tired of Waiting,reflect Davies' ability to look inside himself and put his thoughts together in song.Ray was also a producer or co-producer of almost all of the Kinks work.

The true genius of Ray came to light on what I and many others believe was his greatest piece of work and that was Waterloo Sunset.In our last conversation about six months ago, we reflected on being musicians,Ray knew I no longer was one and he said "you know ,once a musician ,always a musician...it never leaves you,".I said you are right and for the first time in over 30 years I asked what was his favourite composition was ,without hesitation he said 'Waterloo Sunset".I believe he was right.



Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: September 30, 2009 7:30 pm
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

Before I sign off, I'll offer a good collaborating team - Keith Reid and Gary Brooker of Procol Harum.

About Nick Lowe, one of my favorites is Half a Boy and Half a Man. It's got that ? Mark and the Mysterians, Tex-Mex vox continental that I like so much.   



Since: Mar 20, 2008
Posted on: September 30, 2009 4:56 pm
 

GREAT SOLO SONGWRITERS FORUM - PART 2

BRAVO ROCK!!!!   I have been a fan of Nick Lowe, and naturally Dave Edmunds, since their one ROCKPILE album. Lowe is a true musical genius and producer of the first degree. And I had not even thought of writing something about him. I so apprerciate youe ability to find these wonderfully talented artists that fly beneath the radar of mainstream music fans. Nick Drake is another artist that would fit this profile, highly revered within the industry, virtually unknown outside it. I don't know if you are familar with his work, but if so, I would be honored to have you enlighten us on him as you have with Nick Lowe as I intend to devote most of my time to the more mainstream acts I am comfortable with. I also appreciate your contributions as it just takes a fair amount of time to research and develop something I consider worthy of posting(at least my process is pretty slow as I have 5 websites I visit on everybody I post about.) Your insight into these lesser known but equally talented artists is tremendously interesting and unmeasurably appreciated by myself and hopefully all who find their way hear to read and contribute. Don Was is another of the genre of artists that flies below most people's radar but is very talented. ANYWAY, thank you for your contributions and please contribute whenever and whatever you like.

FANS


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