Tag Archives: Madonna

Edge Of A Broken Heart: The Runaway Bon Jovi Song

As if Slippery When Wet could have gotten any bigger. Well it COULD have.

 

When we think of 80’s mega albums, Slippery When Wet rubs elbows with Thriller, Purple Rain, Make It BigMadonnaHysteria, Can’t Slow Down, Toto IV, Sports, Born In The U.S.A., and Back In Black.

 

The Bon Jovi Holy Grail spent 8 weeks at #1 (Billboard), 38 weeks within the top 5 albums, became the best selling album in 1987, is among the 100 best selling albums (currently #48) in the United States, and has sold over 12 million copies worldwide.

Richie Sambora’s white Fender Stratocaster

 

Those of us who lived through the New Jersey invasion of the airwaves from Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen, remember the 4 singles from Slippery When Wet:

 

You Give Love A Bad Name” (#1)
“Livin’ On A Prayer” (#1)
“Wanted Dead Or Alive” (#7)

 

The above trifecta here gave Slippery When Wet the notable distinction of being the first Glam Metal/Hard Rock album to have 3 top 10 hits. The Hair Metal floodgates opened from there. It was indeed a great time to own stock in Aqua Net.

 

The power ballad, “Never Say Goodbye” was released as the 4th single but not domestically so it wasn’t able the chart on Billboard’s Hot 100.  However it did reach #28 on another chart, the Hot 100 Airplay which measures how often a song is being played on radio stations and more recently streamed online as well.

 

That was the first missed opportunity for another official Bon Jovi single off of Slippery When Wet. The demand was certainly there. The second was “Raise Your Hands”, which was on the soundtrack of the classic 1987 Mel Brooks Star Wars spoof Spaceballsstarring John Candy as Barf, Rick Moranis as Lord Dark Helmet, and a pre Independence Day Bill Pullman as Captain Lone Starr.

 

The movie literally opens up with Bon Jovi. Can anyone picture flying a Winnebago in space without rocking out to “Raise Your Hands?” I mean what the hell did Han and Chewy do on the Millennium Falcon, listen to NPR and knit sweaters? Leave it to a comedy to portray something more accurate,

 

 

But the most egregious lapse in Bon Judgement was not including the amazing track “Edge Of A Broken Heart.” For whatever reason, it missed the tour bus for Slippery When Wet and has been thumbing for a ride in Bon Jovi limbo ever since. It’s a stronger song than many that were included on the album.

 

Slippery When Wet (1986) was the 3rd studio album from Bon Jovi, sandwiched between 7800° Fahrenheit (1985) and New Jersey (1988). It was also the first album they brought in songwriter Desmond Child who co-wrote the album’s 2 biggest tracks “You Give Love A Bad Name” (#1)
“Livin’ On A Prayer” (#1) with Jon and Richie as well as a few others. “Edge Of A Broken Heart” should have been on that list and on the charts.

 

For the longtime Bon Jovi fan or people who just know their songs from the radio, in either case the reaction is the same: WTF?! Why wasn’t this track [“Edge Of A Broken Heart”] released as a single?

 

Slippery When Wet (1986) had 10 songs on it of which 4 were released as singles. For comparison, other albums in this pre-CD era released more songs as singles from their respective albums as shown below:

 

Thriller (Michael Jackson, 1982) 9 tracks 7 singles all becoming top 10 hits, 8 Grammys, best selling album of all time
Can’t Slow Down (Lionel Ritchie, 1983) 8 tracks 5 singles.
Lionel should have released the title track “Can’t Slow Down” as well. It could have been his 6th single.

Back In Black (AC/DC, 1980) 10 tracks 5 singles
Sports (Huey Lewis & The News, 1983) 9 tracks 5 singles
Make It Big (Wham!, 1983) 8 tracks, 4 singles
Purple Rain (Prince, 1984) 9 tracks, 5 singles

Hysteria (Def Leppard, 1987) 12 tracks, 7 singles
Toto IV (Toto, 1982) 10 tracks 4 singles
Born In The U.S.A. (Bruce Springsteen, 1984) 12 tracks, 7 singles all becoming top 10 hits
Madonna (Madonna, 1983) 8 tracks 5 singles
Like A Virgin (Madonna, 1984/85) The 1985 reissue included “Into The Groove”, a track from the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan making the album 10 tracks with 6 singles

 




 

“Edge Of A Broken Heart” is chock full of classic Bon Jovi ingredients in their proprietary Jersey Shore stew: David Bryan’s keyboards, Sambora’s crisp crunchy power guitar parts, Jon singing a few long notes during the verses (the words “I’m” and “Now” in both verses of the song) teasing us for the bigger payoff we know he’ll deliver come chorus time.

 

The same kind of vocal hook was used in the verses of “You Give Love A Bad Name”:

Oh, oh, you’re a loaded gun
Oh, oh, there’s nowhere to run

 

This singing device is so Bon Jovi and we drink it up like like bacon flavored Kool-Aid, ready to become drooling rock zombies wearing overpriced tour T-shirts. The nutrition label on this track indeed gives us more than a full days RDA of RAWK—and you’ll still find yourself wanting second helpings of this lost hit.

 

There’s also the “Bon Jovi build” which starts up the song with Tico Torres drums, Sambora’s guitar riff and Bryan’s keyboard work until the band enters in for a full tidal wave of fun smiley 80’s rock before it recedes and gets calm again to let Jon sing about the latest fictionalized Femme fatale that crossed paths with a peaceful tour bus just trying to spread the Gospel of Rock & Roll. The lyrics even mention “Private Dancer” another classic 80’s hit/album from Tina Turner.

 

Then there’s the deluxe call and response vocal parts during the chorus between Jon and the band’s backing vocals giving us a double shot of satisfying volleyball of energy for the ears:

 

Bon Jovi Tickets

 

 

Rock chemists the world over have devised strategic formulas over the years and “Edge Of A Broken Heart” uses a tried and true mixture: The Root, Four, Five chord progression (AKA I IV V)—A classic example  being “Louie, Louie” by The Kingsmen.

 

Another well known chord progression is Root, Five, Four (I V VI) like Baba O’ Riley by The Who better known by as “Teenage Wasteland.”

Chords in Baba O’ Riley:  F  C  Bb  (1 5 4  or I V IV)

Chords in Edge Of A Broken Heart:  E  B  A     E  B  B  C#  A  (1 5 4   1 5 5 6 4  or  I V VI    I V V VI IV)

 

You can see and hear the first part of the chord progression is the same as Baba O’ Riley but just one note lower.

“Edge Of A Broken Heart” is also in the key of E Major like a few other classic rock tunes:

“Limelight” by Rush

“Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey

 

So Slippery When Wet COULD have had a total of 6 singles released by our count here.




Savvy Glam/Hair Metal fans will know the band Vixen also had a song in 1988 of the same name off their debut album Vixen which peaked at #26 .  This “Edge Of A Broken Heart” was actually written by two other 80’s vocalists/songwriters: Richard Marx and Fee Waybill of The Tubes. Richard Marx actually co–produced the album.

 

As you can see, the #MeToo movement back in the 80’s involved sharing each other’s hair care products as well as song titles:

 

 

But you can’t copyright a title. And Bon Jovi also has song called “Runaway” which Del Shannon had a hit with back in 1961. “Runaway” is one of the “Carpal Tunnel Classics” where there’s Eternal triplet notes for keyboard players like Toto’s “Hold The Line” where a bucket of warm epsom salt is a welcome spa treatment after a gig for your wrist.

 

A fun trivia tidbit here is Steve Vai is married to former Vixen bassist Pia Maiocco (playing the red guitar in the above video). They met at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Richard Marx makes a cameo as well at the 2:41 mark.

 

The Bon Jovi “Edge Of A Broken Heart” was included on the 1987 film Disorderlies starring The Fat Boys who are best known for the single “Wipe Out” (1987) with The Beach Boys doing back up vocals. It was a rap using The Surfaris 1963 hit instrumental of the same name.

 

And speaking of films, there’s an interesting connection with drummer Tico Torres. He was also a studio player for fellow New Jersey band Franke and the Knockouts who are best known for their 1981 hit “Sweetheart” which reached #10.

 

Namesake and lead singer Franke Previte also went on to have a few of his tunes appear in movies like his Bon Jovi brother. Previte is co–writer (along with John DeNicola and Donald Markowitz) of “Hungry Eyes” and “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” which were the anchor tunes on the classic 80’s film Dirty Dancing (1987) with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.

 

The original versions were recorded by Franke and the Knockouts but went onto greater acclaim as covers by Eric Carmen (#4 in 1987) and Bill Medley (of The Righteous Brothers) & Jennifer Warnes (#1 in 1987) respectively. The later won an Academy Award, Golden Globe and a Grammy.

 

Looking back, 1986 and 1987 were great years for both New Jersey bands. And here we are some 30 years later coming full circle from when Bon Jovi seemingly took over the world on a steel horse. The funny irony of Slippery When Wet was that it had massive international success with one of the cheapest album covers EVER. Just a step up from Metallica’s The Black Album, where Jon write “Slippery When Wet” on a wet trash bag.

 

So with that, we extend an esteemed “Shock to the Hearty” congratulations to Bon Jovi for making it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Class of 2018. A photographer I know worked on the New Jersey tour and had nothing but positive things to say about them. It’s always a bonus when people who aren’t a bunch of arrogant egomanics get a deserved honor. Jon is an authentic humanitarian who has his own charity feeding homeless/low income people as well as homeless veterans:

JBJ Soul Kitchen (www.jbjsoulkitchen.org)

Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation (www.jonbonjovisoulfoundation.org)

 

Oh and Jon has stated this lost Bon Jovi tune should have been included on Slippery When Wet and actually apologized believe it or not. So they’ll have to answer for the “Edge Of A Broken Heart” transgression on Bon Judgement Day, but in the meantime, we can forgive them because we’ve found their missing runaway.

© Composer Yoga


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Rock Star And Meditation Joke

Hair Metal Heaven: Cinderella “If You Don’t Like It”

Awesome 80s Albums You May Have Overlooked

Closet Singles: Billy Idol “Hole In The Wall”

Sound Mines: The Outfield “Taking My Chances”

Sound Mines: Prince “Mountains”

George Michael: The Careless Whisperer

Closet Singles: The Outfield “New York City”

Yoda’s iPod: “When Doves Cry” By Prince

 

Recommended:

Hair Metal Joke (Hair Metal And Horror Movies)

Hair Metal Joke (Hair Metal Salad)

Prince Joke (Little Red Corvette)

The Prince Prophecy & The Let’s Go Crazy Code




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Entertainment Earth

Awesome 80s Albums You May Have Overlooked

Count me among the minority who truly likes all genres of music and yes, no ones going to drive a bulldozer over my disco CD’s either. F*ck no. Not Donna Summer! Not Saturday Night Fever! I’ll be like the famous photo of the student in Tiananmen Square facing the tank. And a guitarist friend of mine who’s toured with Arlo Guthrie and other Folk legends like Willie Nelson will join me in solidarity and brotherhood here as he is a die hard Bee Gees fan too. So there. Say what you want about Barry Gibb’s “faggy falsetto” voice in misdirected machismo, he’s a great songwriter. Grease is the Word, brothers and sisters. Barry wrote that. See now you can’t possibly make fun of him out of ignorance anymore.

 

Okay. Moving on. Since plenty of my family and friends are 80’s freaks, I felt it appropriate to give out some suggestions for 80’s music lovers everywhere still lost in the land of Loverboy headbands. Which by the way yours truly has seen and they are fantastic as well as TONS of fun live.

 

Actually, the Archangel of 80’s music, Archangel Flockofsegulliel commanded me to enlighten the masses an iota (technically, more than a tad). So it is by Divine Decree I write this article. You’re probably asking “So how’s things in your padded cell?” Couldn’t be better. Cable TV, internet. Thanks for asking.

 

Anyhow, another reason that lead to this list was a musical comrade and I were talking about our Desert Island Discs, a concept of which has since been negated by the invention of the iPod. I then thought about the more obscure albums most people don’t know about from the era of music known as New Wave or 80’s.

 

My friend rightly calls The Cure’s Disintegration “a gift to Humanity.” Indeed, but the average 80’s fan knows about that album. I’m partial to the Cure’s Faith too. It’s got the grooves I need to “Let the coolness flow into our vertebrae” in the words of a Mel Brooks film History Of The World Part I.

 

In fact, years ago I developed complications due to wisdom teeth extractions. I got a post op infection and had to take heavy painkillers every 4 hours. I remember one night sitting in my living room after the painkillers whisked me away to groggy land while listening to The Cure. Boy did Mr. Smith’s music make so much sense to me then. It occurred to me that I was very near to the state most of it was written in and from. Robert Smith has stated he doesn’t remember writing or recording the Pornography album because he was so strung out on heroin. My friend does a fantastic Robert Smith impersonation of this interview blurb complete with the British inflection “That’s the album I don’t remember writing.”

 

In the same vein (pun intended), author William Burroughs doesn’t remember writing Naked Lunch, the novel which gave Steely Dan their name.  Yes they remain the only Grammy Award winning act named after a dildo. So that said, let’s stop talking track marks and start talking tracks!

 

Saga

Worlds Apart (1981)

Heads Or Tails (1983)

Saga is an oh-so-underrated Canadian band that you should definitely know more about. This is intelligent yet danceable grooving Proggy New Wave from Canada. They do other things up there besides play hockey and drink Molson you know. Seems Billboard needs to be reminded that Canada exists from time to time.  Listener’s also need to be tipped off that there are other acts from the Great White North besides Rush, Bryan Adams, The Guess Who, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, and Neil Young.  Oh and surprise, that other band I mentioned earlier, Loverboy also wear maple leaf underwear too.

 

Saga is reminiscent of the Power Pop style of The Outfield but with way more keyboards. I put them in the same category as far as energy vibe and positivity goes. They have over 20 studio albums in their catalog and have been recording for over 35 years. They’re only a one hit wonder to boneheads who wait to be spoon fed singles by MTV, commercial radio and record companies . They won a Juno award in 1982 (The Canadian version of a Grammy) after this album dropped for Most Promising Group Of The Year. Our friends Loverboy still hold the record for 6 Junos in one year, so rock those red Mike Reno headbands with pride kids because they are indeed a symbol of Canadian recording industry royalty.

 

Saga had two singles released that got some airplay off of Worlds Apart, their 4th album: “Wind Him Up” and their biggest single “On the Loose” which peaked at #26 on Billboard. However, in “On the Loose” much of the instrumental solo section was chopped off to fit the anal retentive 4 minute radio decree from Mount Sinai which is of course the Eleventh Commandment. One hopes the karmic entertainment in hell people for such song sushi chefs consists of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, Golden Earring and the Grateful Dead among others. The Beatles fell from grace too with “Hey Jude.” Thankfully Saga was saved from eternal damnation here but you can hear the song in it’s entirety safely on the album.

 

Another track which I always groove out to on the album, “No Stranger” could have also been released as a single. But again, the slower intro/build section topping 2 minutes would have been seen as “dead space” to commercial radio and would have been chopped off by the radio station sushi chefs.

 

Another Saga album from the 80’s you should definitely own is Heads Or Tales. It perfectly showcases why I love the guitar player in this band, Ian Crichton. He has such a physicality to his licks, riffs and solos. Ian’s playing is very animated and slippery with notes and phrasing. Listen to my favorite tune off this album “Catwalk” for an example of this. There’s a visual animation to his style almost as if the music was made for a soundtrack to a film but can surely stand on it’s own without accompanying visual images.

 

By this I don’t mean overacted facial expressions, atomic windmills or overdone stage gestures. I’m talking about the Holy manipulation of soundwaves. The producer on these Saga albums was Rupert Hine. Yes, you may know the name from your The Fixx albums. What you don’t have any The Fixx albums? No Howard Jones either? You need remedial ’80s then. You can chew gum and throw paper airplanes in that course. This article is for those who know about the Journeys, Loverboys and Madonnas already.

 

For you ’80s 201 students, Rupert Hine is a Composer/Producer who has also recorded his own albums. They tend to be hard to come by. One of the songs you’re probably familiar with if you’ve seen a bunch of John Cusack movies is “With One Look (The Wildest Dream)” off the Better Off Dead soundtrack which plays during the end credits. This is a quirky classic 80’s movie I’ve seen probably 900 times:

 

“Two dollars!”

“Go that way really fast, if something gets in your way, turn.”

 

See I told you. Rupert Hine wrote much of original soundtrack and the title track mentioned here features The Fixx vocalist Cy Curnin and guitarist Jaime West-Oram. A Saga track on Heads Or Tales that sounds like it could have just as easily been a Fixx tune or a Rupert Hine solo track is “Scratching The Surface.” There’s often a lot of “musical overlap” with Producers and the groups they write and work with, and you can get a decent 80’s Fixx (haha) with any of these.




 

Tubeway Army

Replicas (1979)

A seeming technicality on the album release date of April 1979, but New Wave and the music considered ’80s actually started in the late 1970’s. Before you knew him singing about “Cars” Gary Numan was in this group. “Cars” is a classic 80’s track, a song where drums accent on the 4 and by a white British guy before 1980. Wow. I’m speechless.

 

Replicas is a science fiction epic which you can nicely zone out to. I heard this album on college radio and had to pick it up. Thanks WRPI!! College radio is a beacon of actual music variety even more so than internet radio which tends to be just one genre per station just like commercial radio.

 

Although Replica’s lyrics and themes are science fiction, don’t let that turn you off. It’s not inaccessible, overdone and definitely not 80’s campy (but still fun) as Styx’s Kilroy Was Here (Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto–Japanese for “Thank You Very Much…”). There’s some really cool keyboard work on Replicas as far as 80’s goes–several tracks on par or exceeding “Cars” in my opinion. That being because essentially Tubeway Army was pretty much all Gary writing. Some of my favorite tracks on Replicas are “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” which was released as a single and reached #1 in the UK, “You Are In My Vision”, “It Must Have Been Years”, and  the bonus tracks off the 1997 and 2008 Beggars Banquet reissues “We Are So Fragile” and “We Have A Technical.” The 80’s synth on this album will put a Miami vicegrip on your eardrums.

 

Utopia

Oblivion (1984)

P.O.V. (1985)

Utopia was a project of Todd Rundgren, another writer/producer known for singing “Hello it’s Me” and “Bang the Drum All Day.” Don’t we all Todd. And what do Grand Funk Railroad’s We’re An American Band and Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell have in common? Todd produced those albums among others. Not too shabby for a boy from Pennysylvania hey? I guess Hall & Oates, CinderellaPaul Gilbert (Mr. Big) and Poison carried that states pride in the 80’s too.

 

Todd also wrote “Love is the Answer” and Utopia recorded it on Oops! Wrong Planet, then England Dan And John Ford Coley recorded it shortly afterwards and that’s the version everyone is used to hearing on the radio. Yup, the Carole King Effect strikes again.

 

The Carole King Effect: When you write a song, record it and later somebody else records it but makes 10 times the money you did.

 

Carole wrote it first dammit!! So if you want to protest outside BMI headquarters there’s some picket sign

suggestions.

 

Anyhow, 2 Utopia albums any 80’s collection is lonely without are Oblivion and P.O.V. Really any album by Utopia is worth checking out. Rhino records released a double CD a few years back called P.O.V., Oblivion & Some Trivia. It has both albums plus the 2 new tracks from the Trivia compilation album. This is a great starting point to get you into this under the radar late 70’s-80’s group. This CD is also worth it for the song “Fix Your Gaze.”

 

The 2 albums included on this release have some of the coolest Utopia songs on them. EVERYONE in Utopia sang lead vocals so you get a variety of singers and really fat full multi part harmonies. The musicians Todd had with him in Utopia were professional touring musicians and session players as well. Keyboardist/vocalist Roger Powell for one toured with David Bowie. Bassist/vocalist Kasim Sulton toured with Meat Loaf (bassist on the Bat Out Of Hell album), Hall And Oates, and Joan Jett (was a Blackheart). So I’d say there’s a tad more than garage band creds here folks.

 

Some of the tracks on these albums that rock 80’s style are “Bring Me My Longbow”“Crybaby” ,“Welcome to My Revolution”  and “Winston Smith Takes It on the Jaw” from Oblivion and “Zen Machine” and “More Light” off of P.O.V. There’s plenty of lost 80’s gold buried on these albums. It’s like totally an 80’s tragedy that NONE of the tracks off of Oblivion were released as singles. There’s some absolutely slamming uptempo tracks like the ones listed above as well as some amazing slower introspective tracks like If “I Didn’t Try”“Maybe I Could Change” (which has a gorgeous piano arpeggio intro) and “I Will Wait.” Still, the album charted in the US at the number 74 position despite the lack of a single. If it had even one single, it would have climbed higher instead of getting lost in the oblivion of radio station shelves.

 

I’m not sorry I own any of these 80’s albums and you won’t be either. Mike Reno gives his blessing for you to own them as well. Some I found in bargain bins, which just goes to prove the old axiom one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and with music, one man’s earwax is another man’s earworm.

© Composer Yoga




 

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The Colors Of Rock: Songs

A list of songs on the palette making The Colors Of Rock (updated periodically)

18 Yellow Roses (Bobby Darin)
99 Luftballons/Red Balloons (Nena)
All Cats Are Grey (The Cure)
Baby Makes Her Blue Jeans Talk (Dr. Hook)
Back In Black (AC/DC)
Bad, Bad Leroy Brown (Jim Croce)
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
Black Celebration (Depeche Mode)
Black And Blue (Van Halen)
Black Cat (Janet Jackson)
Black Cow (Steely Dan)
Black Diamond (Kiss)
Black Is Black (Los Bravos)
Black Night (Deep Purple)
Black Water (The Doobie Brothers)
Blue Collar Man (Styx)
Blue Eyes (Elton John)
Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain (Willie Nelson)
Blue Jean (David Bowie)
Blue On Black (Kenny Wayne Shepard)
Blue Suede Shoes (Elvis Presley)
Bluer Than Blue (Michael Johnson)
Brown Eyed Girl (Van Morrison)
Brown Shoes (Frank Zappa)
Brown Sugar (The Rolling Stones)
Caribbean Blue (Enya)
Crystal Blue Persuasion (Tommy James & The Shondells)
Colour My World (Chicago)
Desert Rose (Eric Johnson)
Don't Eat the Yellow Snow (Frank Zappa)
Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue (Crystal Gayle)
Fade to Black (Metallica)
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Elton John)
Green Earrings (Steely Dan)
Green Eyed Lady (Sugarloaf)
Green Green Grass Of Home (Johnny Darrell, Porter Wagoner, Bobby Bare, Tom Jones)
Green Light (Lorde)
Green Onions (Booker T. & The M.G.s)
Green Tinted Sixties Mind (Mr. Big)
Gold (John Stewart)
Golden Lady (Stevie Wonder)
Golden Slumbers (The Beatles)
Lady In Red (Chris Deburgh)
I Saw Red (Warrant)
Indigo Eyes (Peter Murphy)
It's Not Easy Being Green (Kermit the Frog)
Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini (Brian Hyland)
Little Red Corvette (Prince)
Mellow Yellow (Donovan)
Men In Black (Will Smith)
Midnight Blue (Lou Graham)
Mr. Brownstone (Guns N' Roses)
Orange Crush (R.E.M.)
Paint It Black (The Rolling Stones)
Pink Cadillac (Bruce Springsteen, Natalie Cole)
Pink Houses (John Cougar Mellencamp)
Purple Haze (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
Purple People Eater (Sheb Wooley)
Purple Rain (Prince)
Red Barchetta (Rush)
Red House (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
Red Sector A (Rush)
Red Skies (The Fixx)
Song Sung Blue (Neil Diamond)
Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree (Tony Orlando and Dawn)
Touch Of Grey (The Grateful Dead)
True Blue (Madonna)
True Colors (Cyndi Lauper, Phil Collins)
Still Got The Blues (Gary Moore)
White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane)
White Room (Cream)
Yellow (Coldplay)
Yellow Flicker Beat (Lorde)
Yellow Submarine (The Beatles)

© Composer Yoga

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Rock Clergy, Religious & Spiritual Issues: Artists

A list of artists who get their namesake from the Clergy, Religious & Spiritual Issues (updated periodically)

Alan Parsons
Billy Idol
Black Sabbath
Blind Faith
Christopher Cross
Collective Soul
Creed
Creedence Clearwater Revival
De La Soul
Exodus
Faith No More
Fifth Angel
Genesis
Godsmack
Gram Parsons (The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers)
Helloween
John Deacon (Queen)
Jesus And Mary Chain
Jesus Jones
Judas Priest
Jon Lord (Deep Purple)
Lamb Of God
Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam
Lorde
Madonna
Maxi Priest
Nazareth
Reverend Horton Heat
Terri Nunn (Berlin)
The Cult
Sister Hazel
Shotgun Messiah
Smokey Robinson And The Miracles
Soul Asylum
Spirit
Testament
Tora Tora
Wall Of Voodoo

© Composer Yoga




LANY “Where The Hell Are My Friends”

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One of the things I love about college radio is you hear all kinds of songs you’ll never hear anywhere else. You’ll hear things before you’ll hear them on mainstream radio. And things you’ll never hear on mainstream radio but are cool enough to be there and even better than much of the stuff on there. Such is the case with “Where The Hell Are My Friends” by LANY, a track they released as a single in 2016 on the internet not connected to any particular album they did.

 

That said, I do like how artists have more control over making and releasing music these days. LANY used the same do-it-yourself ethic punk rock groups employed decades earlier because back then radio and recording companies wouldn’t give them the time of day. And college radio is as do-it-yourself as you can get along with Low Power FM (LPFM/Community Radio) stations. It’s just students and residents with their music collections and NO CAR COMMERCIALS. What a concept. Wow, there is a God. You can sing about a Little Red Corvette or a Little Deuce Coupe but I don’t want to hear any crap about 0.9% financing, capisce?

 

College radio is where I first heard the Disco Biscuits before Camp Bisco became a major stop on the tour map. So wherever I am, if I’m there for a few weeks or months, I try to find the local college station(s) and look up their program schedule. I can stream my favorites online as wherever I am as well. It’s a fountainhead of new music straight from the horses mouth. Compare that to the beached whale of Clear Channel that swallowed up numerous independent stations across the airwaves.  They only play songs by heavily promoted major label backed artists. You won’t hear the next “Where The Hell Are My Friends” on their dials because their band width is pretty anorexic as far as variety goes.

 

LANY is made up of Paul Jason Klein (lead vocals, keyboards, guitar), Les Priest (keyboards, guitars, vocals), and Jake Goss (drums, percussion, programming/sampling). If you can tell by looking, the band name isn’t another first or last name like Adele, Beyonce, Prince, Madonna, Britney, Usher, The Jacksons, The Ramones and the like–It’s a combination of two cities: Los Angeles and New York said like “Laney.” Stylistically, my ear tells me there’s a few New Order and Depeche Mode albums in their music collections.

 

The vocal triplet staccato line “And I don’t, and I don’t, and I don’t know why” is a neat hook which gallops like a horse in the beginning of the verses. The chorus is sung honestly and questioningly where Paul Klein is actually inside and merged with those lyrics. “Where The Hell Are My Friends” is a neon soliloquy in the moonlight of one man’s mind who speaks the thoughts of thousands of men and women who’ve encountered similar moments of isolation. And not just LA but especially places like LA and being a recent transplant to the “City Of Angels.” Places like that can quickly magnify one’s sense of loneliness, difficulties making connections and fitting in, and feeling out of place:

The song contains some daring lyrics for an unassuming sounding pop song. LANY seems to have taken a page from Professor Sting on that one as he was always slipping in topics, references and concepts beyond what’s typically required for pop music lyrics. “Every Breath You Take” is a classic example of this. It’s actually a song about a stalker. Yet it’s more often “re-purposed” for Valentine’s Day radio station dedications and wedding playlists. I’ve bit my tongue at more than one wedding behind a camera because of Mr. Sting.

 

“Where The Hell Are My Friends” also crosses a cultural red line. It’s almost sacrilegious to utter a discouraging word about the film and entertainment capital of the world. But for those who’ve been to LA (even the tongue in cheek tune for “losers” out there who value exercise, “Walking In L.A.” by Missing Persons), moved there recently, have lived there for any amount of time, the lyrics will resonate with you to varying degrees. “Where The Hell Are My Friends” is kind of an electronic music version of  the Guns N’ Roses L.A. County tourism classic “Welcome To The Jungle.” The theme is similar even decades and genres apart. It captures that state of mind, the inner unspoken dialogue, the doubts and disorientation of being in LA wondering if it was mistake:

 

Am I starting to hate California
Why am I in LA
40 million in California
No one cares if I stay

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There’s not much middle ground with a place like LA. People either love it or hate it I’ve found. I have friends who moved there, moved back, went to music school there (MI–Musicians Institute), went there to “make it”, and friends who still live there. Paul Klein is voicing some common experiences which don’t often get said out loud. It breaks the taboo in pop culture to express any doubts about the hallowed home of the film industry, the zip codes of Brenda and Brandon Walsh, the beaches of Baywatch. Friends of mine who grew up or live there are often surprised at how overly impressed people are when they tell them they live in Southern California. It’s not surprising: California in pop culture has had decades of impressions on the world often at odds with the everyday social and economic realities of being there as natives and residents will tell you.

 

Alienation. Like Phil Collins and Genesis said “Its no fun being an illegal alien.” Its no fun being a legal one either. LA is a place that can easily happen in. Stranger In A Strange Land in your own country. Like Roddy Piper in John Carpenter’s They Live but with shades that suddenly make you privy to all the plastic people with plastic boob surgery.

 

The song also walks the tightrope of how you can love the place and still have outsider status with the people–wandering the meandering hedgerows of social cliques. Duff McKagan remarked in his book It’s So Easy: And Other Lies of how playing the L.A. club scene in the early days of Guns N’ Roses was being in front of some of the most judgmental people in the world. I had friends tell me it was difficult to meet friends when they moved there and network. My thoughts echo back to those conversations with them hearing the lyrics “Where The Hell Are My Friends” and “No one cares if I stay.”

 

People I know who grew up in California have said to me, “It’s really easy to leave but hard to move back.” What they mean is that if your family doesn’t own property to pass down multigenerationaly, the pricing of housing and cost of living is prohibitive to most transplant hopefuls. Unless of course you have wads of cash you’re laundering for Mexican cartels through your amp stacks, not that I would know anything about that.

 

I spent time in LA and the surrounding areas and had many of these same thoughts. LA certainly wasn’t like it was on TV and movies. The first glaring dose of reality beyond Beach Boys anthems was it looks so much greener on screen than with your own eyes. I quickly realized that I didn’t need to live here. I found my California in the Bay Area. It resonated with me more on multiple levels, which it’s understandable how you can have a love–hate relationship with such a big state like California like “Where The Hell Are My Friends” describes. California is like several states in one hence the chorus lines “Am I starting to hate California” and “But, god, I’m so in love with this place.” Geographically, there’s only 3 states on the west coast whereas 14 states touch the Atlantic Ocean on the east coast.

 

Am I starting to hate California
Why am I in LA
40 million in California
But, god, I’m so in love with this place

 

“Where The Hell Are My Friends” is an ambivalent narrative that strikes a chord with genuine experience. It speaks to the suspended animation of being a permanent tourist and outsider in “Hotel California”: The conflicting thoughts and feelings with no neatly wrapped up resolution unlike how the film industry likes to package it’s products for mass worldwide consumption.  Like 90210’s Dylan McKay (Luke Perry) the undisputed James Dean of primetime teen soap opera TV would say, “I’ve been there.”

© Composer Yoga

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Yoda’s iPod: “When Doves Cry” By Prince

I realized something being a longtime fan of Science Fiction: that Yoda’s favorite Prince song would be “When Doves Cry.”

 

Wait for it…Some of the lyrics are just the phrasing the Jedi Master himself would appreciate. Prince is clearly speaking Yoda’s native tongue here—all three verses begin in “Yoda” or Yodaspeak”:

Dig if you will the picture

Dream if you can a courtyard

Touch if you will my stomach

 

Can you picture Yoda singing it in the shower? While taking his morning constitutional on planet Dagobah? Can you picture this?

 

Deeper questions then emerged. Did the Jedi Master himself inspire “When Doves Cry?” Did Prince channel Yoda in the recording studio? Pop culture influences and inspires other pop culture and we may never know.

 

Linguistics scholars would also appreciate that “Yoda” is a Romance language like French and Spanish. And speaking Yoda is quite fun as well. In the control room of the music instructional video company I used to work for, we’d joke around and talk Yoda on a regular basis. This would frequently spill over the VOG (Voice Of God) to rank on the talent in the studio—yelling at them in “Yoda” for botching up a take as well as providing motivation and guidance for the proper corrective course of action.

 

“When Doves Cry” was the first number one single for Prince. Ironically it was the last song written for the film/soundtrack to Purple Rain as Director Albert Magnoli needed another song for a montage scene and requested Prince write additional music for it. You’ll notice with all the other songs written for Purple Rain, Prince and The Revolution perform them onstage in the film except “When Doves Cry.” “When Doves Cry” was written to musically portray Prince’s character, The Kid’s parental issues with his father Francis L. and his simultaneous blossoming romance with Apollonia.

 

Looking at “When Doves Cry” deeper musically, it’s a pretty minimalist song in A minor. There’s no bass line throughout the entire song. Most listeners don’t notice things like this until it’s pointed out to them, and besides the pop rock world has caught fans sleeping at the wheel before. For instance, Free’s classic rock tune “All Right Now” had a hibernating bass line all through the verses and only emerges on the chorus and bass solo leading into the guitar solo overlaying it. And that was during the 70’s–when rock, pop, dance & funk fans were far more rabid about bass in your face.

 

Still none of this “multi–track lack” reduces the appeal of “When Doves Cry.” Prince was very good at writing for what fits the song. I myself am a believer that every song does not need a guitar solo (or any kind of solo) nor have to contain every instrument in the band just because someone will feel “left out” onstage during a performance. Prince was a screaming guitar player and I dig how he never overplayed or overused his chops at the expense of what a particular song called for. In cover bands, when there was no keyboard part for the song, I’d just either double the bass or a guitar part to fatten things up not add a keys part. The Police were another band that was very good at this non oversaturation and not bludgeoning the listener with excessive musicality at the price of playing within the songs actual needs and parameters. We can take an example from Prince & The Police (an 80’s superband that never happened) here: Musicians have to realize that sometimes “space”, silence, and breathing room are part of the song like in “When Doves Cry.”

 

There is some flash (no pun intended, Prince was only nude in the music video) of virtuosity in “When Doves Cry” though it’s sparsely and tastefully done. The opening guitar flourishes and the classical cello part towards the end add some moments of heightened tension, higher energy & angry spiciness to the song’s recipe. If memory serves and I’m not the victim of my own Purple Haze, I remember reading years ago in the Prince biography Purple Reign: The Artist Formerly Known As Prince by Liz Jones that Wendy Melvoin’s brother Jonathan Melvoin wrote the classical string part for “When Doves Cry” but I’d have to check that book again if I can find which cardboard storage box it now resides in.




Back to Prince’s #1 Jedi fan, Master Yoda. I can picture an alternate version of the “When Doves Cry” music video being done with Yoda superimposed over Prince (someone on Youtube who has more free time than I preferably). We’d see Yoda stepping out of the bathtub and subsequently crawling on the floor sans Jedi robe. Then Yoda cruising around Minneapolis and the suburbs on Prince’s motorcycle (or riding on the back–riding in the front would be “Too E.T.“), and kissing Apollonia passionately horizontally while levitating over her—hey he’s a Jedi Master remember? Hopefully this won’t be in a galaxy far far away but just in case, here’s your “When Doves Cry” refresher:

 

Whoa…that crawling on the floor was so much fun Madonna had to try it herself in her video “Express Yourself” and add some bovine special effects.

 

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Since it was an 11th hour recording request for the film, “When Doves Cry” is pretty much Prince by himself with his trusty drum machine playing several instruments and without the vocal harmonizing of The Revolution like on most of the Purple Rain soundtrack. The vocal audio looping bears little resemblance to an actual dove crying not that I’ve crossed the line being cruel to animals to scientifically gather such information. It’s a droning “I” or “Aye” sound making Prince’s looped vocal yearnings sound more like a zombie pirate brigade or some species of South American tree frog that would definitely make you Delirious if you lick its skin. And I’m sure you’d see Paisley Parks and Strawberry Fields Forever but let’s not go there just yet.

 

But then again these made up syllable loops worked well for Jon & Ritchie on the Bon Jovi hit “Livin’ On A Prayer.” Did Bon Jovi sample a neighbor’s dog or have Chewbacca come in for a session to lay down a vocal track? “Livin On A Prayer” is one of the most frequent songs I hear when I work weddings—and every now and then I hear a Prince tune. But “When Doves Cry” isn’t the optimal Prince song to inaugurate a lifetime together—more salient choices in this department that better suit the occasion are “Kiss” or “I Would Die 4 U” as people can get their pointer finger on while ripping up the dancefloor and impress a slightly inebriated crowd with some stellar rudimentary choreography. Plus it looks pretty cool against uplightling as I can attest. But hey, I’m just a dude behind a camera so what do I know.

 

“When Doves Cry” was Prince’s directorial debut—it was racy for it’s time and had to threaten heterosexual males watching MTV for the half naked girls. I mean could middle America start liking a song with a naked guy coming out of a bathtub and crawling towards them? It turned out the Bible Belt was on the floor with the rest of Prince’s clothes in that regard.

 

Fashion wise, I always found it interestingly dapper how The Revolution (save keyboardist Dr. Fink) dressed in ornate clothing similar to the upper crust during the French Revolution. There’s also a funhouse mirror effect in the later dance routine which creates a kaleidoscopic effect with Prince in the center. And Prince wasn’t a slacker on stage performance—he loved to dance with his own trademark moves as well as nods to the Godfather James Brown.

 

Come to think of it, if Michael Jackson didn’t become the megastar of 1980’s pop, Prince would have been seen as a better dancer than he was usually given credit for. But Prince held his own on his own terms and wasn’t in music to compete with others which isn’t what art and creativity is about—actually competition diminishes the joy of creativity and one’s personal enjoyment of the process.

 

If Prince was competitive, he would have come out with some lame dance move in response after Michael premiered the Moonwalk with his own version “The Cherry Moonwalk.” Prince never challenged Michael Jackson to a dance off like MC Hammer. Nor did Prince extrapolate his songs into stylized themed dances over the abyss of the campy canyon with The “When Doves Cry Waltz”, the “Let’s Go Crazy Conga” or “The Purple Raindance.”




Yet with all his contributions to pop culture and writing songs for other artists, Prince wouldn’t allow parody of his songs even though Weird Al Yankovic was aching to do so for decades. Some, like Mark Knopfler said yes on one condition—that he play guitar on the parody track. This is why Weird Al’s parody of Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing” called “Beverly Hillbillies” musically matches the original version more than his other parodies.

 

For “When Doves Cry”, I can picture Weird Al doing “When Spuds Fry” starting off saying the word “Fry” as that’s what it sounds like Prince is uttering in the original recording. Weird Al did do a similar themed parody to the Robert Palmer song “Addicted To Love” called “Addicted To Spuds.” And I know for a fact that Weird Al would not pass up the opportunity of being naked in a bathtub to parody the video. That’s the stuff Weird Al bucket lists are made of. Buckets of dove’s tears.

 

Yankovic was never able to secure permission for parody of any of Prince songs when he was alive. When Prince’s estate gets settled and who owns the licensing to his song catalogue is decided, Weird Al may get to parody Prince songs in the future.

 

Yankovic is far from malicious towards the artists he parodies—it’s a nod and a tribute, though some like Coolio get miffed when Al does a parody of a song he himself didn’t even write the music to in the first place (Coolio’s 1995 single “Gangsta’s Paradise” sampled the 1976 Stevie Wonder song “Pastime Paradise”).

 

One thing for certain that’s probably in the works already is a Hollywood biopic about Prince. Within a few years it’ll likely hit theatres. One can only hope Hollywood will see Purple instead of getting tangled up in green and Prince won’t be physically miscast with someone like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. But then again I’d pay to see Arnold Schwarzenegger singing Prince songs and buy that soundtrack. William Shatner can cut a Prince tribute album as well. It’s all become part of our shared collective culture and part of celebrating that will encompass some obligatory moneymaking schlock along the way. But this doesn’t diminish the original inspiration for it nor hamper appreciation of Prince’s contribution to popular culture.

 

As with Michael Jackson’s glove, that bathtub Prince used in “When Doves Cry” has to fetch a pretty penny on eBay—the perfect gift for those who already have a bottle of Elvis’ bathwater. And then Yoda can whisper at the end of that revamped “When Doves Cry” music video, “There…is…another…Moonwalker.”

© Composer Yoga

Related Posts To Check Out:
Sound Mines: Prince “Mountains”
The Prince Prophecy & The Let’s Go Crazy Code
Prince Joke (Little Red Corvette)
First Recording Of Purple Rain In America
Talking To Your Bandmates During The Song Vol. 1

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The Prince Prophecy & The Let’s Go Crazy Code

There’s the Bible Code and the Da Vinci Code—but is there a “Let’s Go Crazy” Code?

 

Before anyone thinks I’ve stared at the Abbey Road & Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album covers Clockwork Orange style way too long, isn’t a bit of poetic coincidence that Prince died in an elevator?

 

I mean you know the narration before the full band enters in “Let’s Go Crazy”:

And if de-elevator tries 2 bring u down
Go crazy – punch a higher floor!!!

 

It seems Prince indeed punched a higher floor in that Paisley Park elevator and left the Earth plane.
The second verse of “Let’s Go Crazy” going into the chorus is even more prophetically elaborated:

We’re all excited
But we don’t know why
Maybe it’s ‘cuz
We’re all gonna die

And when we do (When we do)
What’s it all 4 (What’s it all 4)
U better live now
Before the Grim Reaper come knocking on your door

Tell me, are we gonna let de-elevator bring us down?
Oh, no let’s go!

 

(Note to Steven Tyler & Aerosmith: The Grim Reaper takes elevators)

 

I never met Prince nor saw him perform live but he was one of the people on my concert bucket list I wanted to see. Actually the only time I was in his home state of Minnesota was in Minneapolis to catch a connecting flight from the west coast. One of my relatives however did meet Prince at a club in Miami and talked with him.

 

An actor friend also met Prince when he worked for a network TV station in New York City. He didn’t get to ride in an elevator with Prince (most definitely a Scavenger Hunt Selfie), but did so with Neil Young. Interestingly, Neil Young had a backing band called Crazy Horse…hmmm…and further down the Purple Paisley rabbit hole we go. Later in his career, Prince also wrote a song called “Cinnamon Girl” which was one of the biggest hits of Neil Young And Crazy Horse.

 

When I was out in Hollywood visiting friends and wandering around (the occasional olfactory overture of concrete mingled with fermented urine while on The Walk Of Fame comes to mind), I came upon the fabled Sunset Sound recording studio where so many famous acts such as The Doors recorded their historic and iconic albums. Prince also recorded there in a cute story by Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks.

 

Nicks was working on her solo album The Wild Heart at the time. She was driving around and heard “Little Red Corvette” on the radio and came up with lyrics to “Stand Back.” Since a song written by Prince inspired her lyrics, she called him up and asked if he was in the area (Prince had another residence nearby) and if he would like to come down and play on the track.

 

Like calling a pizza delivery session player, Prince was there in under 30 minutes and laid the keyboard parts down for “Stand Back.” Prince influences Nicks and in turn it seems Nicks influences Prince. Being asked to play on “Stand Back” seemed to give Prince the foundational ideas for one of my favorite Prince tunes: “I Would Die 4 U.” There’s an apparent aural geneology to these two songs: “Stand Back” and “I Would Die 4 U” have similar tempos and utilize the same kind of pulsating staccato synth bass bed.

 

Prince wrote several pop rock anthems: “1999”, “Purple Rain”, “I Would Die 4 U”, “When Doves Cry”, and “Let’s Go Crazy” to name a few. I remember first becoming aware of Prince with the single “Little Red Corvette.” After Purple Rain, I went on to buy all his earlier work and then every now and them, I’d pick up his later post 80’s material.

 

The albums 1999 and Purple Rain are still my favorites because I really liked the musical chemistry of Prince and the Revolution as well as the mix of male/female vocal trading and harmonizing. The Revolution was for Prince his “original Kiss lineup” to my ears. Another irony here being Prince wrote a song called “Kiss.” With bands, there’s a certain unique chemistry every now and then that can’t be duplicated even if the band goes on without earlier members for any number of reasons in the Rock and Roll playbook.

 

In 1984, “Let’s Go Crazy” became a number 1 hit. If only George Orwell lived to see that. Big Brother in a Jheri curl*? Dressed in a purple trench coat wielding a white guitar? Prince’s Purple Rain soundtrack and the movie became joined at the hip with the 1980’s. The eulogy intro narration to “Let’s Go Crazy” is one of those 80’s pop culture moments along with the intro to Twisted Sister’s music video “We’re Not Gonna Take It” that nearly every child of the 80’s has grooved into their neurons. “1999” was a playful dig by Prince at Big Brother and his nuclear arsenal during the Cold War 80’s with the lyrical mention:

 

Yeah, everybody’s got a bomb,
We could all die any day

But before I’ll let that happen,
I’ll dance my life away

 

This was misheard by some at the time to be a reference to President Ronald Reagan (Yeah, Ronnie’s got a bomb, we could all die anyday…)

*Invented by a white guy from Illinois—go figure




For a guy who rode a motorcycle, Prince was never the “biker type rocker.” Then again those types of bands wouldn’t dare to write a song like “When Doves Cry”, “Purple Rain”, “Raspberry Beret”, or “Kiss.” I mean can you imagine Mötley Crüe pulling that off?

 

Prince was more multifaceted as an artist which gave him broad appeal over successive generations and crossed lines of gender and race with his fan base. This is hard do do especially now as the recording industry tries to segregate fan bases to maximize profit. Michael Jackson, Madonna, Sade, Gloria Estefan are other contemporaries of Prince that crossed these “Pop Picket Lines.” Prince’s music also escaped the vinyl witch hunt of rock radio station record burnings and steamroller rodeo rides over popular Disco hits. He was rock enough for the rockers—one of his fans being, oh some guy named Eric Clapton.

 

Enjoy The Talents Of Others And Let It Inspire Your Own

Prince was an incredibly creative and multi–talented musician. I know many critics and fans will use the word Genius when referring to him and his prolific body of work. It’s a deserved compliment and helps celebrate how his music touched millions of people around the world. However I take a different perspective on the nature of Genius as I believe the current way it’s used and how who’s labeled as such or not separates people from participating in art and their own creativity.

 

The Genius label encourages the “Why should I bother, when THOSE people are Geniuses and I can only play “Lean On Me” on piano or “Pretty Woman” on guitar mentality.” If we all felt that way as we did when we were young looking up to our heroes and inspirations, no one would try to write music on their own—even Prince.

 

We all should participate in art and creativity. It’s just fun and a form of play which becomes in shorter and shorter supply when many people become adults. Every child innately enjoys art and music and participates in these then they get to a certain age and internalize the cultural message that they are wasting their time because they aren’t Geniuses or they aren’t that talented.

 

By all means be inspired by artists like Prince and whoever came before you that inspired you down the road of creativity so you can take your own tuning forks to deeper self expression. But don’t get stuck behind the starting gate just because certain people are better or more successful than you. No one comes out of the womb a concert pianist. Every future “Genius” can’t even play “Three Blind Mice” during that early stage of life.

 

What often gets lost in praise, compliments and fan worship is the nature of art and creativity itself—which even Prince would have probably said the following of his body of work. That Genius, like gender identity and sexuality is along a spectrum, not a black or white, either or static state. Stated another way, a Genius will not always produce works of Genius every single time and an artist of average talent can produce works of Genius at times.

 

The more important thing as an artist or anyone producing works of creativity is to keep producing and don’t censor or judge. Your favorite pieces may very well differ from the works your audience loves and considers “your best stuff” or “your works of Genius” but it’s all part of you and you don’t want to play favorites—even your own.

 

In another example from baseball, for decades Babe Ruth held the record of 714 career home runs. His nickname was “The Sultan Of Swat” not to be confused with Dire Straits “Sultans Of Swing.” What people fail to often see with such talent and ability is that Babe Ruth struck out quite a large number of times in his career as well (1,330 times in fact as has EVERY other Hall of Famer). He could have just as easily earned the derogatory nickname “The Sultan Of Flyswat” or “The Sultan of Sloth” if he wasn’t getting his “hits” on the other side of the ledger.

 

The important thing was Babe Ruth kept stepping up to the plate, kept having another opportunity at bat. Similarly, Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler has stated he is not the most skilled guitar player on the technical level yet he still wrote “Sultans Of Swing” which is an amazing guitar composition by any standard. And music schools crank out dozens of dazzling technicians every year yet how many have actually written a piece with the depth of “Sultans Of Swing” or “Purple Rain?”




The Prince Prophecy

Prince dying in an elevator is one of those coincidences we can embellish into pop culture lore and legend. Songwriter John Denver died in a glider accident and one of his well known songs was called “Leaving On A Jet Plane.” If Denver’s tune was titled “Leaving On A Glider”, I’d weigh that more in the neighborhood of authentic foreknowledge.

 

Another coincidence here is John Denver was one of the people who testified against the PMRC (Parent’s Music Resource Center) along with Frank Zappa and Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister after one of Prince’s songs on Purple Rain, “Darling Nikki” sent Tipper Gore into a tizzy over it’s masturbation reference.

 

Such ironies of life will happen on occasion as statistics and probability can demonstrate. Case in point, say I wrote a novel about a female pilot and named her Amelia Earhart. You’d think the characters name was made up for the fiction novel because it alludes literarily that Amelia has her heart in the air—hence the two words “air heart” combined in her last name and more poetically spelled as Earhart.

 

But such “novel names” and situations like our “Let’s Go Crazy Code” here actually do happen in real life some of the time. So have we negated the “Prince Prophecy theory” and de–romanticized the departure of a pop legend? We’re just chasing white doves formulating such theories—dig if you will that picture.

 

The body of work is what matters and the body of work is what’s still here. We have to look deeper and ask the internal question: What did the creative works of Prince mean to you? For starters, it didn’t make anyone’s life WORSE in the final analysis. It even had a happy ending for Darling Nikki.

 

The Aural Autopsy on the artist we knew as Prince is clear though. Prince is one of the best selling artists of all time with over 100 million records sold. Prince released 39 studio albums, racked up 7 Grammys, an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. He was a shoe–in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the first year he was eligible in 2004. He walked down the Red Carpet but also made his own Purple Carpet as well—and luckily didn’t slip on any purple bananas while dancing on it.

 

Still, none of these awards, accolades and sales figures means as much as the fun and joy of making music. And Prince loved making music. It was about making music long before the money and about making music even after he had plenty of it. And that’s what I really admire about him.

 

There’s works of his I absolutely love, there’s works I think are cool and okay, there’s works I think aren’t his best. But Prince was never alive to write to specifically please me nor or any of his audience. He had the right to be an artist, to explore his creativity and he truly exercised that right—just look at his creative output.

 

It’s easy to slack off on the Fame Train after even one or two successful albums. As an artist, I experience and understand creativity this way because I write to enjoy doing so myself BECAUSE making art and being creative is it’s own reward. Whoever resonates with a creative work besides the originator is secondary and an added bonus to the joy of creation. And the more work you produce, those odds on connecting and resonating with an audience go up exponentially.

 

For myself, I have Prince tunes in iPod mixes for all moods and occasions. I’ve grooved out his classic tunes at friend’s dance parties into the early morning hours numerous times. Writing music is a celebration of life and listening and dancing to music is celebrating life as well. We can all always party like it’s 1999 on the dance floor and revisit our own sacred time outside the confines of the calendar. Why? Because the Messiah of the Minnesota Music scene said so. Stick that white dove feather in your Raspberry Beret.

 

Indeed, the Pale Blue Dot did turn a bit Purple with his time on the planet.

So goodbye Prince, and thank you for adding to the soundtrack of my life.

© Composer Yoga

Related Posts To Check Out:
Prince Joke (Little Red Corvette)
Sound Mines: Prince “Mountains”
Yoda’s iPod: “When Doves Cry” By Prince
First Recording Of Purple Rain In America
Talking To Your Bandmates During The Song Vol. 1

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Closet Singles: Hall & Oates “You’ll Never Learn”

This is the inaugural installment of a segment where we’ll highlight songs that “Coulda been a contender.” Don’t feel sad there Marlon Brando, you WERE a contender having been mentioned in David Bowie’s “China Girl.” These are songs we refer to as “Closet Singles” and aim to sing their praises and give them a coming out party almost as good as Diana Ross could.

 

What usually happens with a musical duo is one becomes the lead vocalist in the eyes of the public, or as in this case, Private EyesSimon & Garfunkel, Loggins & Messina, Hall & Oates.

 

This holds true even if the other part of said duo CAN and does sing. Even so if the duo records albums with each trading lead vocals on various tracks like Hall & Oates regularly did on their albums.

 

Why does this happen? Well, with hit singles, record company marketing and desire for ROI (Return On Investment) heavily influence this.

 

Once a song becomes a major hit, that’s the lead singer—that’s the map, the formula: repeat the previous success in the future for their bottom line as well as for listeners wanting to hear the next song by whatever act with that same lead vocalist.

 

Strangely, Hall & Oates first well known single, “She’s Gone” off their 1973 album Abandoned Luncheonette was with John Oates on lead vocals and Daryl Hall secondary.

 

Technically, it’s actually a dual lead vocal line in the verses—Daryl doubles John with a falsetto but since it’s high and thin aurally, John’s deeper voice takes precedence in the auditory foreground then they trade for a “call and response” chorus.

 

A few years later however, after “Sara Smile” and “Rich Girl”, their first number one single, it was pretty much all singles with Daryl Hall on lead vocals and John Oates as backing vocalist.

 

Record companies use the same formulas of established success within bands as well as in the industry as a whole—think boy bands and rest assured, there’ll be new ones for every generation. They might even outlive cockroaches & Keith Richards.

 

They also follow this template with previously successful artists—they re–market, repackage, resell “them”, that style to new generations. An example of this is Lady Gaga.

 

When I first listened to her Born This Way album, a woman I worked with asked me what I thought of it. My first reaction was “They’re Madonna songs sung by someone else.” I could totally see why Lady gaga was being backed by and was a priority artist on a record company’s roster.

 

You can see and hear how they follow previously successful formulas and sign artists that fit this sound/style and/or groom their talent pool more in that direction because they do not want to take chances. Taking chances is a business risk and they want a sure predictable return on their investment.

 

So it is with the first hit single—for Daryl Hall & John Oates it was “Sara Smile” with Daryl Hall at the helm. It seems “She’s Gone” just wasn’t a big enough single to perk their ROI radar. If it had, they’d have been looking for the next single with John Oates on lead vocals, and that’s where this installment of Closet Singles comes to the much belated rescue.




That song is “You’ll Never Learn” which is also off the same album as their first #1 single “Rich Girl”—their 1976 release Bigger Than Both Of Us. If you love Hall & Oates like I do, you’ll love this song. It’s another great example of John Oates the vocalist, how there was another “She’s Gone” in the batting cage, waiting to get another chance at bat to become a hit.

 

“You’ll Never Learn” showcases John Oates’ range and intensity alongside solid lyrics and orchestration. His vocals on this capture that sublime sense of awe—his nuance and tasteful use of falsetto makes this melody soulfully soar:

“You’ll Never Learn” is a flat out great Hall & Oates song that never met the airwaves—it’s a great song for ANYONE that few people know about.

 

Now picture a Parallel Pop Song Universe. Imagine if John Oates was a solo artist and released “You’ll Never Learn.” If you have hairspray induced amnesia or if I used The Force and made you forget Hall & Oates, what would your impression of this song in that context be?

 

I can say if this was a song I heard on the radio or saw on MTV, Solid Gold, The Midnight Special, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, etc., back then, I definitely would have bought the hypothetical John Oates album She’s Gone And You’ll Never Learn it was off of.

 

Which brings us to another point—The dynamics of a duo are different: Batman is more likely to have a successful solo career than Robin.

 

Think about bands that have/have had one or more lead vocalist:

Chicago
The Eagles
Kiss
Fleetwood Mac
Journey
Toto




These are just some well known ones that come to mind. Notice how it’s more permissible and acceptable to vary vocalists with the industry and audience AS A BAND than if you are known and billed as a duo?

 

In the case of Fleetwood Mac, it’s not only 2 different female vocalists, but also a dude in the mix: Lindsey Buckingham. They had songs chart with each different vocalist including songs with split vocals like the anthem “Don’t Stop” off their Grammy Award winning Rumours album.

 

Following this strategy and seeming recording industry/audience loophole, say for instance the songwriting duo Hall & Oates called themselves by a band name instead. I mean Steely Dan was mainly 2 guys and could have went by the duo name Becker & Fagen.

 

Lets work some revisionist history magic and say Hall & Oates called themselves by what they coined their own style of songwriting & music: Rock N Soul. Since they were from the Philadelphia area, let’s add that to the mix as well. So they are now known as “Philly Rock & Soul” after Marty makes it back in Doc’s DeLorean or PRS for short.

 

This is assuming Paul Reed Smith guitars (PRS) doesn’t have a problem with that. What then? Well now the duo bias and audience ADD is removed and PRS can have hit singles with more than one vocalist doing leads. Furthermore they can each have successful solo careers afterwards like Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Peter Cetera, Ace Frehley, etc.

 

…And they can all live happily ever after with Rich Girls.

 

So if Batman & Robin should happen to read this, they should call their band the “Caped Crusaders” instead of “Batman & Robin” ensuring both may have successful solo careers sans capes, masks & spandex later on in the Gotham City music scene.

 

Perhaps they could even do a cover of Steve Miller’s “The Joker.”

© Composer Yoga


Related Posts To Check Out:

R&B Hive: Brothers Johnson “I’ll Be Good To You”

Closet Singles: Alan Parsons Project “Can’t Take It With You”

Sound Mines: The Outfield “Taking My Chances”

I Believe In Father Christmas: It’s Not Christmas Until Greg Lake Says So

 

Recommended:

Awesome 80s Albums You May Have Overlooked

Closet Singles: The Outfield “New York City”

Closet Singles: Billy Idol “Hole In The Wall”

Closet Singles: Devo “Later Is Now”

 

Journey Tickets

 




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