Tuesday, 17 February 2015

REM - Everybody Hurts

Rusty's waltz wednesday presents: Everybody Hurts, by REM

Wellsir, it's the week after valentine's day. I was having a movie night with myself last friday when I decided to watch The Dictator. It was pretty hilarious, especially the bit in the helicopter when they're yelling at each other in arabic (that's actually hebrew), I literally died from laughter, and am writing from beyond the grave.

The point is that "Everybody Hurts" - in Arabic - was on the soundtrack, and as soon as it started I jotted this song down on my notepad.


REM is one of those bands that I know I'll like when I get around to listening to them, but just haven't yet. They're credited with pioneering alt-rock, and its members were singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry. They've sold upwards of 85 million records worldwide, which is just staggering.

I hope to find another waltz by them when I start listening to their albums.

The song:

I'm going to talk about REM's own version of this song, even though I really like the arabic version.

Like last week's selection, this is another song that I had - perhaps again like you, dear reader? - only ever heard on TV, movies(, starbucks?). The song was first released in 1993, and made it pretty high on the charts, though not to number one.

I'm pretty sure the timing is in 6/8 here: each beat is tapped on the snare drum, and the fourth (of six!) beat always has a louder high-pitched "tock" sound.

The melody is really nice, Stipe's voice is set in a pretty high register, and he sings gently as the verse alternates between two chords (D and G). My favorite part of this song is when the piano steps down to the E-minor of the chorus and Stipes sings "don't let yourself go" for the first time. He kicks up the power behind his voice, and adds a waver to it that's more subtle than an overwrought vibrato.

As the song progresses, I confirmed that it was the first time I'd listened to this song, because I had no idea there was a bridge (2:23). Here, I find that his singing borrows from soul music, as he modulates his voice - like when he sings "don't throw your haa-ayyaa-aaaa-aand" (where he modulates on "hand").

The song ends with increased layering, and a pretty nice string arrangement - which Wikipedia tells me was written by Led Zepplin's John Paul Jones. All in all, it's a nice way to finish a pretty darn good song.

Don't forget to check out the Arabic version, and share this blog with your friends. If you're going to email it to anyone, I'd ask of you to please only type in allcaps with no punctuation, e.g. "CHECK OUT THIS BLOG ITS ABOUT WALTZES AN OFT NEGLECTED MUSICAL FORM TODAY LOVE GRANDAD"

I Aladeen this song...

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Percy Sledge - When a Man Loves a Woman

Rusty's waltz wednesday presents: When a Man Loves a Woman, by Percy Sledge

Wellsir, it's valentine's week here at Rusty's waltz Wednesday, and as it happens, in the world at large. So I could not resist the urge to feature this smoocher: When a Man Loves a Woman (WAMLAW), by Percy Sledge.

Percy Sledge:

Mr. Sledge is from Alabama, and began playing gigs while working as a hospital orderly. His musical roots are in southern gospel, and when WAMLAW was released in 1966, he became the first southern soul artist to top the charts: 2 weeks at the top, in May 1966.

Imagine if it were today, people: Mix 96 Virgin Radio playing this song 12 times a day; second cup embroiled in an ill-fated bidding-war with starbucks for the musical rights; background music for a Fido Mobile ad; and young people gyrating on the dance floor to the slick 1-2-3-1-2-3 set out by the hi-hat.

The song:

I'm deliberately choosing to share the live version of WAMLAW, found on Mr. Sledge's VEVO channel, because he sings with great feeling and effort, it sort of revived my appreciation for the song.

For you see, I - like you, dear reader - had become sort of numb to this song. And that is to the singer/songwriter's own credit, a reflection of how huge this song is: I - like you - have likely heard this song upwards of fifty times without ever having pressed a "Play" button.

This was the first song he recorded for his first ever record contract, in 1966. This recording is from 1966 or 1967, because Otis redding introduces the song, and poor Otis died in late 1967.

He sings this song in such a high register without breaking or going falsetto, it's stupefying. Fellas, try it at home tonight in the shower, you will sound like an idiot, and your partner might break up with you.

He also brings some great motifs from the souther gospel tradition, like the "hah!" (0:42), and ending some words with "wronggg...AH!" (3:42). On that note, this one goes out to my special lady Sarah, whom I encourage to visit each page multiple times to increase my page count.........................

Alright, enough text, enjoy! Happy love day babies....AH!