This song is one that I truely love. It’s about driving… If you don’t know me, it’s one of my favorite hobbies (can driving be a hobbie?) This song is about a person who is on the long road to nowhere and ends up only finding harder times. He pushes through just like he always has. I think this song can have many layers, which, from a songwriting standpoint, is what you hope for. I wrote this song about struggling in life… having to take a job and make money just to survive… always hoping it gets better… but it doesn’t… but there is always hope.
BEN: The first of many David Bowie numbers on this countdown, “Ziggy Stardust” is the title track to arguably Bowie’s greatest record The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars. Featuring Mick Ronson’s searing guitar riff, and Bowie’s oddball lyrics about Ziggy’s “screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo, like some cat from Japan”, this song is the apex of Bowie’s space-rock era. Check out the intentionally-off doubled vocal in the chorus, the tasteful mix of acoustic and electric guitars, and the overall grandiose-ness that Bowie brings out in his larger-than-life yet campy vocal delivery. Genius!
Key lyric - “Making love with his ego, Ziggy sucked up into his mind. Like a leper messiah, when the kids had killed the man I had to break up the band.”
MARK: Love the opening riff, it gives me chills when I hear it. It sounds powerful and hopeful. It is such a classic riff and it is so simple. I love the lead guitar panned to the left. I love the arrangement, it is perfect, I love all the tones for the instruments. Some of the song is off tempo and they are a little sloppy, but the song is so good, it just adds to the character of the recording. This song is so cool! I love the double stereo vocal and the way Bowie sings it. This song blows my mind. I really love it. It always gets stuck in my head.
CLAUDIA MAINSTREAM REVIEW: I don’t know why you (Mark) and Ben like this song.
I was so excited to do these pictures!! Not only because I’ve never done any maternity pictures, but also because these are two of the nicest and cutest people you’ll ever meet. David is a very humble, down to earth, motivated and very inspiring guy. He owns the best magazine in Nashville… The Fringe. Carly is the most adorable and sweetest girl! She’s a nurse and is STILL working her night shifts a few weeks before she’s due! She has the cutest southern accent and just walks around all tiny with her cute little belly. You would never guess she’s due in a couple weeks!!! Needless to say, the two of them are going to make the most amazing little boy.
These pictures were so fun for me to do. Family is very important to both of them, so I tried to make their own family tree. We took some old photos of their parents and grandparents and nailed them to the trunk of the tree and then hung a bunch of old empty picture frames in the tree, representing their family to come. We had a few other photos in mind, but about halfway through the shoot, my camera decided to stop working! I guess I’ll just have to do more when little Warren gets here!!
I really enjoyed taking these photos, and I hope you guys love looking at them!
This week I wrote a song called ‘Morning Bird’. It’s about the birds you hear when you wake up full of songs and life. It’s also about being a songwriter and having a stream of melodies in your head and being afraid to share them with anyone.
I originally was going to make this an acoustic song. I woke up at 5:30am and sat out on the deck at the Hotel Lexington and had the birds singing in the background as I played my guitar and sang. It was an ok version, but it felt very empty. I decided to add some accordion. A friend of mine has a beautiful accordion that was passed down to him from his grandpa. So I have spent the last few weeks learning how to play it. It’s a great instrument. I added an old church organ and a cello. But it still wasn’t what I wanted it to sound like. With a listen from the Claw (Claudia my beautiful wife) she convinced me to add some drums. If you listen closely, you can hear the birds at the end of the song.
This song was a very frustrating song to make. It turned out completely different than my original idea, but it ended up being better than I could have imagined. Sometimes you have to keep working, adding, and taking away until you are happy.
429. Ryan Adams - “Anybody Want To Take Me Home?” (2003)
BEN: As far as jangly guitar pop songs go, this plays like the flip side of the coin to “There She Goes” in that it highlights a more melancholy feeling and Ryan Adams’ sad sack vocals but it’s just as effective. Normally a alt/country artist, Adams tried his hand at straight up Rock N Roll, on his album appropriately titled Rock N Roll, and was a complete success or total failure, depending on who you talk to. I happen to be a big fan. I like the bass tone and the way it bass climbs up during the choruses. Adams’ vocal is dripping with reverb and the aforementioned jangly guitar is sweet and sad.
Key lyric: “I am in the twilight of my youth, not that I’m going to remember”.
Key lyric part 2: “All these people in my life, they seem so in love, well I am not. Memorizing my shoes in a cigarette shop.”
MARK: The sound is similar to The La’s. The intro has that same reverb guitar, with a pretty similar riff. Come on Ryan Adams… But I do like this song, the lyrics are very depressing and sad. But that’s what makes it a great emotional song. I can imagine walking the streets of New York, being lonely, and wanting to find someone. Great songs, but a little too much reverb, it makes my head feel like it’s going to explode. (I can’t really explain why) I don’t like the double fade out. It always makes me mad, I like it in Helter Skelter by the Beatles because they were the first to do it, but hate when others do it, I feel like there is no reason, it is now just an unoriginal idea. Best part of this song is the lyrics.
These pictures were some of the most layed back photos I’ve ever done. We took them over at Kyle’s house and literally just hung out while he played his guitar and listened to music. For these photos I wanted to really try to capture the essence of Kyle, which is very hard to do! Kyle has so many things that make up his character. He’s a very talented singer songwriter first of all. He’s studied just about every musician, and not a conversation goes by where he doesn’t know a fun fact about something or somebody that you’re talking about. He’s not one for technology. He still gets his newspaper everyday…or maybe every Sunday? And he probably will until the day he dies… or until the newspaper dies… He LOVES music, he has a huge record collection that Mark drools over. And he’s also such a fun loving guy! Kyle is very hard to sum up in just a few words… or even just a few photos. So, here’s some of the photos I got from my day with Kyle Thomas. :) Hope you enjoy.
BEN: London, England’s The La’s offer up a bit of Byrds-esque 12-string guitar jangle pop. ”There She Goes” is about as simple as a great song can be. I think it’s simplicity is what makes it great. There’s nothing much more to say about it except that it’s recommended that you put in on while driving down PCH with the top down on a breezy day. Also recommended is the admirable cover version by Leigh Nash and Sixpence None The Richer. Just so you know, this is the song that melts my wife’s heart everytime it comes on. Just the first few notes are enough to inspire an “awwwwww”. This one’s for you, babe!
Key lyric: “I just can’t contain this feeling that remains”
MARK: Such a happy song, it makes you feel happy and reminiscent. I like the feel of it, just a basic groove, could have been a bad song because it is so basic, but they have that great melody that really makes the song worth the listen. Nothing bad to say about it, it is very happy and great mood music. I can imagine this being on any mix you make about a girl. In a way, I think this may be a classic hook. It is a timeless hook, and for some reason does arouse a lot of feelings and memories, even if I try to stop them. To me, this is just a mix song… something I would only listen to occasionally.
CLAUDIA’S MAINSTREAM REVIEW: I like this song. I haven’t heard it in a while
This is a song I wrote based on a philosopher named Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche never accepted being told how to live. He believed the fullest life you can live is one where you are in complete control and question all the values that are placed before you. This song is based on that… questioning what you know and deciding for yourself what is right and wrong.
Like I mentioned before, I recorded part of this in a motel room in Florida. I finished it here at the ‘Hotel Lexington’ where The Claw and I are staying while we are homeless. I played all instruments except the drums are looped. I really like this song… mostly because I got to mix my two favorite things together: philosophy and music.
Also, The Claw is going to take a picture a week inspired by my song. Thank you Claudia.
Feel free to give me some feedback… good or evil. Please let me know if you like it or if you had any favorite lines!
THE BEN 500 - I FORGOT TO POST A 431-429… OOPS! Here we go.
431. The Beatles - “Yer Blues” (1968)
BEN: A killer from The White Album, this is John Lennon just cutting loose, and the rest of the Beatles beating out the heaviest blues they can muster. This is one of the few instances where a bass played with a pick really accentuates the song. It sounds sloppy but I think the more appropriate word is raw. I dig the way that the the guitar acts as a response to the vocal. John screams “Yes I’m lonely” and guitar wails its approval or understanding. I also love the echo/reverb effect on the vocals when John starts singing about eagles picking his eye and worms licking his bones. Eww! The White Album was such a crazy mix of styles, it’s hard to believe this song is on the same album as “Goodnight" and "Honey Pie". It’s a testament to The Beatles’ musicianship and vision. They turned the musical world on it’s ear and nothing was ever the same.
Key lyric: “My mother was of the sky/My father was of the earth/And I am of the universe, and you know what it’s worth”
MARK: I don’t know how I feel about this song. I always am a sucker for blues songs. I love the screaming bluesy John vocal. I like the echo on the vocal too. If it wasn’t for the vocal, I think this wouldn’t be that great of a jam. The bass sounds like it wasn’t recorded very well. When the tempo picks up I like the prominent snare drum right in the middle. I don’t necessarily like the lead part, it starts to annoy me a bit. The solo doesn’t really blow my mind either. I like the solo that is panned off to the left better, (the one you can barely hear) its more bluesy. I don’t like after the pick up-tempo part when it cuts and then goes back into the slower tempo part. It sounds off to me. This song is ok, it’s good but not great.
CLAUDIA’S MAINSTREAM WOMAN REVIEW: It was stuck in The Claws head after hearing it, so she must have liked it.
I am almost finished with my song of the week and will put it up Wednesday. It’s a song I started a few months ago down in a Hampton Inn in Mary Esther, FL. I recorded vocals, (midi) bass, organs, and a slide guitar in the closet at the motel… It turned out much better than it should have. I wanted to perfect it this week because up to this point it was just a rough demo at best. I didn’t have to change that much… I left the original vocals and harmonies, slide guitar, and bass. I changed the organs and added electric guitar and drums. After I put on a few finishing touches, I should be all the way done!
BEN: It’s a remarkable start to an incredible career. “Ol’ 55” is the first song on the debut album of someone who would become a songwriting icon, and the owner of one of the most distinctive voices ever put to tape. Tom Waits started out his career playing the sad drunk in the diner at 4am, a worn out party animal who’s down on his luck and down to his last cigarette. Tom’s early years featured songs filled with characters like this. Who else could get away with songs titled “Christmas Card from a Hooker In Minneapolis” or “Eggs and Sausage (In a Cadillac With Susan Michelson)”. Tom’s voice was made for it. “Ol’ 55” is as good of a place to start as any. This song, which was covered to lesser (and lamer) effect by The Eagles a year later, features a sad piano, a small rhythm section and Tom’s sad sack voice telling the story of a guy seeking freedom out on the highway, but with a slight tinge of regret that only grows with every passing mile. Key lyric: “As I pulled away slowly, feeling so holy, God knows I was feeling alive.” MARK: This is one of my favorite songs of all-time! I love the arrangement of the piano, guitar, bass and drums. I love the piano riff at the beginning. I think what I love most about this song is the build to the chorus. It is subtle and the drums don’t even come in till then. I love the early Tom Waits voice, before he sounded like Hell Boy. I love the feel of the song, like it was recorded in a bar after ‘Closing Time’ (the title of the album). This is a great song to listen to when you are driving early in the morning. Beautiful melody and some great vocal builds. The lyrics almost shadow what kind of time he had the night before. This is one melody that I will never get sick of, it’s timeless and I wish I could write a song this great. Everything about the music, lyrics, emotion, and recording are all perfect. GRADE: A+ CLAUDIA’S MAINSTREAM REVIEW: Oh Mark makes me listen to this song all the time… but I still like it.