Covering the Past Ten Grammy Winning Songs: 2008 - Rehab (Amy Winehouse)

While recording this cover, I was (am) fully immersed in the Mark Ronson craze.  Of course, when we think of this song, we think of the incredible Amy Winehouse, as we should, but we often forget that Mark produced the thing and gave it that perfect tonal balance between stylishness and rawness and nowness and all other ness-es necessary to create a bonafide SMASH!  The Mark Ronson of 2015 has an even more highly tuned sonic ear.  This guy is borrowing from and riffing on everyone from Prince to Minnie Ripperton to Grandmaster Flash to Steely Dan, and I love it.  Needless to say, I'm a big fan of his work and what he does for music.  He's a proponent of inserting yourself into music history, as am I.  It's GOOD to be giddy about music, people!!  

Anyway, here's my take on 2008's Song Of The Year, REHAB.  I sort of imagined what it would sound like if 2015 Mark Ronson were to re-do one of his songs from earlier in the decade.  This one was fun.

Here's a youtube link as well, for those of you who find comfort in the glow of a YouTube clip:

Talk soon, 

Covering the Past Ten Grammy Winning Songs: 2007 - Not Ready To Make Nice (Dixie Chicks)

It's interesting to look at this song almost a decade removed from the controversy that spawned it.  You remember the ordeal -- the Dixie Chicks told the world that they were ashamed of President Bush Jr. and the Iraq war he was currently selling the American people, outrage ensued, and band went from being perceived as a group of Good Ol' Girls to a trio of liberal renegades.  It didn't take long for the rest of the country to follow.  Pretty soon, we were all shouting, "WE DON'T WANT THIS WAR!" at the top of our lungs.  For these reasons, this song remains a symbol for an important shift in the American psyche. 

But now our outrage is focused elsewhere.  Very few people are even talking about the time the Dixie Chicks created a political frenzy.  So what does the song mean today?  Is it simply a time capsule?  A reminder of this one very specific, confusing, sensitive moment in our history?  Or does it represent something wholly new?  Without the specificity of events, is it a more personal piece?  A more universal message?

I'm not going to pretend to know the answers to those questions, but what I did try to provide here is a very stripped down, live version of the tune, that will hopefully give you a chance to hear it again from a new perspective.  

Up top, you have the video.  Below, you have the audio.  But you already know that.  You are smart internet people.  

Talk soon, 

Covering the Past Ten Grammy Winning Songs: 2006 - Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own (U2)

Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own.  This track brings back a lot of memories for me.  In particular, a Madison Square Garden experience that taught me many lessons, and a rehearsal studio experience that involved me nervously singing for Bono and The Edge.  Maybe I'll blog about those memories later, but for now, please enjoy the music!   

2 down...8 to go!  

Talk soon, 

Covering the Past Ten Grammy Winning Songs: 2005 - Daughters (John Mayer)

Mark your calendars — The Grammy Awards are coming up on February 8!  This is always an interesting time to reflect on the state of music.  What are we listening to these days?  How are we currently defining pop music?  But it can also be a good time to look back and rediscover the course that pop music has taken in its recent past.

So I decided to celebrate and re-record the last 10 years of songs that won the Grammy for "Song Of The Year".  I wasn’t sure exactly what I would do with them when I started the project, but I found myself trying to personalize my relationship with each song — listening to them with fresh ears, spinning them around, trying to appreciate and perform them from new angles.  If these songs are three dimensional beings (I like to think they are), how have they evolved since the day they won the Grammy?  Have they grown up?  Do they represent something different now than they did then?  Musically?  Lyrically?  Rhythmically?  

When you dig in to well crafted songs, they sort of speak to you; as long as you don’t impose any preconceived notion or irony about what it’s supposed to represent, you come out the other side with something fresh.  This is the way these songs sound in my head, at this moment in time.  

Above, you have the first of 10 tracks that I'm going to release, back to back, until Grammy weekend.  

Daughters.  A beautiful track by a truly great musician.  I think I can remember the exact moment I first heard this song, and maybe I'll blog about that at another time, but for now I'd just like you to enjoy the music.  

Stream away!  Share with your pals!  Happy Monday!

Talk Soon, 

Everything Has To Start Somewhere

The metrics are in, and it turns out the readership for this blog is the size of an average Thanksgiving dinner.  Big enough that we had to add a leaf to the dining room table, but small enough that we can still hear Uncle Bill picking turkey out of his molars.  

But everything has to start somewhere, and I am so grateful to those of you who have already jumped into this journey with me.  Because I really do want to use this blog as a constant canvas for flowing ideas. 

Me: You say that now, but you'll disappear in frustration next month. 
Other Me:  Why would you say that!?  No he won't! 
Third Me:  Are you two fighting again? 
Fourth Me: I'm hungry for bacon.  

Anyway, I want to give you guys a head start on a little project that I'm going to start posting on Monday.  I'll leave an element of mystery until next week, but here are a few details: 

a) I'll post a different song every week day for the next two weeks. 
b) It's a countdown to something...
c) I didn't write these songs, but I'm sort of reimagining them. 
d) Some will be produced tracks that I made in my home studio, and others will be live performance videos. 

I hope that gets you excited.  Or at least makes you go, "huh".

Now I'd like to reply to some of the comments that have already hit the blog.  When there are questions, I'll do my best to answer as completely as I can. 

Julie says: 

"This is so great! Thanks for writing this blog, I can't wait to hear why 2015 is going to be a fun year for you. Please let us know soon!!"

Thank you, Julie!  I will let you know.  And, forgive me, but I have to tell you that I love your voice work as Marge Simpson.  I think it's an underrated display of genius.  I am assuming you are Julie Kavner. 

Valerie says:

"'I'm going to tend to these pages like an old, toothless heiress tends to her multitude of feral cats.' - My new favourite simile."

How about this one: 
"The full green hills are round and soft as breasts."
First person to google this and list the author wins an afternoon in a library with Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Kayleigh says:

"Now THIS should be interesting. Hoping to see more updates than your other social media platforms cause they kinda suck to be honest. After being a fan for... 11?..12? Something like that. .. years, I'm looking forward to seeing what this brings"

Well, I've been your fan for 13 years, so I have you beat.  And yes, I'm looking forward to seeing what this brings too.  The great thing about this display of my relentless narcissism and deep seated desire for attention is that it's not confined to 140 characters! 

Chrismailtopher Gohr says:

Are you going to do a cast album of What's IT ALL About????? I only aw it like 6 times. Miss the music.

I'll keep you posted.  Cool stuff coming soon.  Signed, Kymaille.

Alright, that's good for now. 
Thanks again for visiting this blog, you guys.  I really appreciate it.  This is something that I've been wanting to do for a long time and I have a feeling it could be a really positive thing for my life right now.  It makes me happy to write for you.

Talk soon, 

One More Chance

We all have those songs that hold the key to our brain's secret serotonin stash, right?  You press play and BANG – instant happiness.  This is one of those songs for me:

Isn't that a beauty?  I was listening to Solomon Burke's much loved, but little talked about 1964 album, "Rock 'n' Soul" one day last year and this track stood up, jumped out of my earholes, and slapped me right in the face.  Now, it's a go-to.  

Why do I love it so much? 

Is it the fact that Burke's voice is an unparralled instrument?  Possibly the greatest, most human, R&B voice of all time?  (Lots of debate there, but I like to throw Solomon into the conversation because most people don't.)  Is it the vaguely latin rhythm, pushed along by that presumably 12 string guitar panned almost completely to the left?  (Talk about making a choice!)  

Or is it the story?  

"Just let me prove that my love is real 
And baby won't you let me show you how I feel."

This begging for forgiveness makes for a great song and a great story because it implies that something bad has already happened.  What was it?  We don't know.  We've been introduced to this guy mid-story.  (Or, for you latin freaks, In media res)  The listener's subconscious imagery fills in the rest.  I know mine does, when I hear the backup singers wail: 

"All he wants is one, justa one more night
That's all he needs to make things right."

Sounds like they're talking from experience!  This fella is trying to win back his girl, and to do so, he's enlisted the help of a spicy hot trio of ladies!?  That's like holding up a glass of bourbon and saying, "Here's to never drinking again!"  

It's a rich song, man.  Lots to be mined here.  Recklessness and Soulfulness and everything between.  

So I started thinking – who else has tackled this topic in song form?  Turns out "One More Chance" is one of the most singable lines in music history, evidenced by the following playlist, hand picked and embedded by yours truly.  Enjoy:

I love that opening line: 

"Everybody loves a star,
When he's on the top.
But no one ever comes around 
When he starts to drop."

MJ revisited the subject later in his career (with the help of R. Kelly, who wrote this one):

I think Derek and The Dominoes Clapton might be my favorite Clapton.  Here he is, singing through our topic of the day:

And how could we leave out Dylan and his rusty old harmonica?

You think Dylan would mind being a lead-in for the Pet Shop Boys?

And finally...

"Girls pee pee when they see me."  Now that's a lyric.  (Interestingly, R.Kelly did not write that one.)

We'll leave it there for today.  I'm sure there are more.  Because one thing we can learn from music is that, whether you're a soul singer from Philly or a 12 year old Motown super-star, or a guitar player from England, or a folk singer in Greenwich Village or an electronic pop duo, or the King of East Coast Hip Hop, there are certain themes we all like to sing about.   

Talk soon, 



Welcome, one and all (or maybe just one – Hi, mom), to my brand spanking new website and blog.  I've had sites in the past, but this time I'm taking personal responsibility for the content.  I'm going to tend to these pages like an old, toothless heiress tends to her multitude of feral cats.

Maybe that's the wrong simile for the occasion.  

Nevertheless, I'm going to keep this site in shape.  Just wait!  You'll see!  Exclamation point!  

In preparation for this new endeavor, I took seven years of intensive Website Training, in which I learned everything from Secrets of HTML to The Art of Mastering Minesweeper.  

[It should be noted that this was actually a two week course, spread out over seven years.  It should also be noted that I'm just kidding – I didn't actually take a class.  That would be ridiculous.  Finally, it should be noted that no one really knows what HTML stands for, or exactly what the point of Minesweeper is.]

Me, writing this blog.  

Me, writing this blog.  

This site and blog is meant to be a simple place of calm, curious, artistic expression.  If you're reading this now, you probably know something about me from one or more of the various projects I've been involved in over the years, and I thank you for your ongoing encouragement.  While this is a place where I'll talk about and promote those types of projects (albums, theater, tv, etc.), it's also where I'm going to go when I feel like making something that isn’t necessarily connected to a grand scheme or a large scale project.  This is where I’m going to collect those floating ideas that are currently scribbled on hotel stationary all over my apartment.  

Basically, I want to start giving you a lot of STUFF.

What kind of STUFF, you ask?  Music, mostly.  Thoughts too.  Maybe a little bit of prose, for those of you who are into that kind of thing.  And hopefully you'll feel like you can contribute to the party --- listen, watch, read, comment, share, tweet, engage, rearrange, remix, reply, review, vine, whine, draw, or whatever else your computer's CPU power allows.

[Rule one of Website Training:  Always be aware of your computer's CPU power.  Also, it's good to know the CPU power of your closest friends.]



2015 is shaping up to be a pretty fun year for me.  When I can tell you exactly what I mean, I will.  And I'm excited to take you along for the ride.  

Hang on.  My phone's ringing.  

Me: Hello? 
Famed Internet Mogul, Mark Zuckerberg: Hey, kid. 
Me: Sup, Z?
Mark: You writing that blog? 
Me: Yeah.  It's going really well so far.  Like REALLY well.  
Mark: Make sure you add a video. 
Me: A wha?
Mark: A video.  You know, to welcome everyone to your site.  People dig videos. 
Me: I already added, like, two pictures. 
Mark: Moving or still?
Me: Still, but...
Mark: Post a video. 
Me: Saying what?  
Mark:  Just, like, "Hello", or some shit like that.  People dig that kind of thing.  [Sound of cheering in the background.]  Sorry, man, I gotta go.  Someone just mixed soda and pop rocks in the cafeteria. 
Me: But what else do I need to know about making this video?  
Mark: Just say, "Hello" and be sincere.
[Mark hangs up.]

Talk soon,