Next show is Friday, March 16th with my very good friends Black Horse Motel at the very fine venue of Milkboy Coffee in Ardmore. Presale tickets are $8, and it’s $10 at the door, so I’d grab them early if you can. Tickets are available HERE!
Is realizing you never should have taken that first step.
Getting a little further into this “One take, one track” idea, I decided to record a version of “Angel From Montgomery.” Not really being familiar with the song when I first heard it, I think I filed it away for future reference under “Girl singing blues.” However, when I heard it again – shamefully, in the scene in Into the Wild where Emile Hirsch and Kristen Stewart are singing it in a trailer park – it piqued my interest again.
I dug a little further into it, realized it’s not, in fact, a Bonnie Rait tune, and learned that John Prine wrote it. Now, I’m not a HUGE John Prine fan, but I respect his stuff. The Chicago folk scene produced some of the best songwriters of the mid-70’s, and Prine is defintely up there. Songs like “Hello in There” and “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” are just these perfect little gems that without Prine’s dry, nasal delivery don’t seem to really ring true. I’ve never followed him religiously, but anybody that can write a song like “Decal” in ’70 or ’71 and then sing it in public has more balls than I’ll ever see.
That “Angel” is written strictly from a woman’s perspective (making it hard to tell it’s not a Bonnie Rait song), and the fact that whenever I’ve heard it covered by a guy they reverse the sex, made me want to work on it as well – the only other good song I can think of that’s written by a man about how a woman thinks is “House of the Rising Sun.”
So, after hearing this song in a weird movie about how to kill yourself in Alaska, I figured I’d learn it and come up with my own way to play it. It’s a little bit based on Bonnie’s version, leans more heavily on John’s, but I think it comes out sounding a little more like me in the end. I enjoy it, I enjoy playing it, and I hope whoever’s out there enjoys listening to it.
I have a rule about covers. I only cover a song if it says something in a way that makes it totally unique and unbeatable. There are songs that I would never be able to write – “Say It To Me Now” by Glen Hansard, or Robbie Robertson’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” Those are songs, that, god love ’em, I sincerely wish I had the ability to write.
On that note, I think I’m going to try something. Something like single takes of covers that I think are worth playing. Songs that make me want to be a better writer, or a better player. Learn it, sit down with one mic, one track, do it once and post the result to see what happens. The first in this series is below – “Isn’t It a Pity,” by George Harrison.
I like this song for a lot of reasons. Simplicity. Simplicity that on the original track blankets itself in lush, crazy production that somehow only reinforces the simplicity itself. There are only two “verses,” really, and one refrain. The song builds itself entirely around that. I think, at the heart of it, that’s what makes this song a special one for me. I hope you enjoy my take on it – unfortunately, the orchestra wasn’t available and I only had a guitar, but I think I managed pretty well. We shall see, I suppose.
Had a great time at MilkyBoy in Ardmore on Friday night, and was very happy to share the bill with some highly talented people from Philly and NYC – who says we can’t all get along!
Mark your calendars – the next show is Friday, February 3rd at The Legendary Dobbs on South Street in Philly. We’ll be upstairs in the “lounge,” but it’ll be a full band show, so come prepared to rock! And, the good lord willing, we’ll have some new songs ready for you! Keep an eye on Facebook for more info as we get closer. Also have a few other shows in the works for the next few months – idle hands being the devil’s playthings, we’re trying to stay busy!
…emergency show! I’ll be opening for Martin Rivas and Jason Leibman at MilkBoy Coffee in Ardmore on 1/6. Tickets are $8 pre-show (available here), or $10 at the door. Great venue, BYOB, and it ought to be a nice little intimate evening. Bring a friend, or bring two friends, and ring in 2012 with a great start.
Just a little something for anybody stopping by the site this week – it helps to remember around this time of year that it’s not what you have – it’s who you have to share it with – that makes this a seaons worth celebrating. So, in that spirit, a little holiday cheer from me to you. Merry Christmas, everybody!