Tuesday Tunes 26: New Music – Part 2

This week, Tuesday Tunes is showcasing music videos for another five songs which have been released in the past six months, since lockdown/quarantine began. There will, however, be seven videos – you’ll see what I mean shortly. Again, as last week, these are ‘regular’ videos, as distinct from the home sessions or live streaming which have become our new norm in recent months. And as last week, these are all songs which are on new (or forthcoming) albums or which have been released as singles.

Question: what do you do if you haven’t released anything in fourteen years, apart from a live concert recording, a couple of compilations and a few collaborations, and you need to announce your return? Answer: hit people with an absolute belter of a track:

That is the title track from the Chicks’ latest album, which was released in July. To date the album has peaked at #3 in the US and #5 in the UK, and will hopefully continue to sell. Their previous three albums have all been US #1, and all five of their studio albums, including Gaslighter, have been #1 on the US Country Albums chart. You may have spotted their name change: this was an acknowledgement that their original name had connotations with which they felt uncomfortable. No doubt it was greeted with the same disapproval from the redneck morons who burned their CDs after Natalie Maines criticised President Bush, but as far as I know they haven’t been sent any death threats this time. In Trump’s America that is, I’d have thought, quite likely, but I hope it doesn’t happen. With over 6.6m video views in five months I think their fans are still with them!

I’ve said before that Walk Off The Earth (WOTE, for short) are my favourite videos band, so I just had to include their new single in this piece. My only problem was in choosing which video: typically, for them, their creativity has been at work and they have so far released three for this song! At the risk of overloading this post, I’m going to be self-indulgent and share all of them. Bear with me, there are some other tunes coming too! This lyric video, which features Sarah and Gianni’s son (the one with the very long, slightly darker hair) was the first:

There followed the ‘official’ video:

And just a few days ago, they gave us an A Capella version with some friends:

That one really highlights their harmonies, and is probably my favourite. They are all lovely though: I think it’s a really nice song with a message for us all to ponder: when did the simple things get so complicated?

Last week I shared one of the songs from Molly Tuttle’s new album of cover songs, But I’d Rather Be With You, which is a fabulous album. Back in May she also released a single of another cover, which was aimed at raising funds for the WhyHunger charity. Her voice is lovely, and she really does justice to one of my favourite Neil Young songs:

I think that is beautiful: it’s as if the song was written for her, and the video is powerful in conveying its message in support of a charity doing such good and, sadly, necessary work.

You may well have noticed that Old Crow Medicine Show (OCMS) are credited as featuring on that last track. They provided the musical backing and the harmony vocals, and it is their leader, Ketch Secor, who you can see on the video. OCMS and Molly share close links – I’m guessing they are friends, as they have collaborated before. Most recently this was on another charity single, this time OCMS’ one in support of disaster relief after the tornados that struck Nashville. Although the band aren’t Nashville natives they have mostly lived there for twenty years or so, and Ketch was moved to want to do something for the community of which he had become  part. This song is also rather good:

As he says on the song, that is now his home town, and the strength of feeling is clear. Did you also spot a rather serious looking Molly playing guitar with the band?

I hope both charity songs have raised some much needed funds – they deserve to.

The last song in this week’s mini-marathon is brand new, having only been released last Thursday, and having already achieved nearly 1.4m views. Not many could do that, except perhaps The Boss:

That is the lead and title track for Bruce’s new album, which is scheduled for release on 23rd October. I, for one, can’t wait – a new album from him is such an event and, judging from this first song, he and the E Street Band are on form!

That’s a wrap for this week’s bumper crop of tunes. Have fun listening to them – as usual, they are the fruits of my impeccable musical taste, and all songs come highly recommended. By me, anyway.

Have a good week, everyone. I’m off to try and decipher what the latest changes to the rules on socialising here in the UK mean for me, and for the plans I have been making to see daughters and granddaughter. Wish me luck! See you next time.

Tuesday Tunes 24: Strength

I’ve seen much recently in the news, in social media, and in tv shows about how people’s strength is supporting them and others in these pandemic days. It gave me the idea that this might be a good theme for one of these posts: I had been pondering ‘empowerment’ as a theme but thought that might become overtly political, which isn’t my aim. I just want these to be fun, but I may come back to that one at some point.

There are a great many songs I could have chosen, both those that talk of being strong for oneself or for someone else. I’ve managed to keep the selection to what is becoming my usual four tunes, which probably means that I’ve left out some you might have chosen. But that’s the beauty of music: it would be very boring if we all liked the same things! My selection features two songs that speak of staying strong in oneself, and two about being strong for someone else – that’s my attempt at balance!

This week’s first tune is very much of the ‘I’ve survived because I’m strong’ type:

That song was on Reg’s seventeenth album, Too Low For Zero, released in 1983. The album reached #7 in the UK and #25 in the US. I’m Still Standing was released as a single, peaking at #4 in the UK and #12 in the US. It was, he said at the time, his response to feeling that he had become less relevant after the rise of disco, punk and the New Romantics. The video was filmed in Cannes and has been viewed more than 92m times – it did much to garner airplay and contribute to both the single and the album being successful. For him that was a real statement of personal strength, which he needed after a poor run of performance in the singles chart.

My second choice this week is of the ‘I’m here for you’ type. I featured the Boss a few weeks ago, but make no apology for doing so again – he has, after all, made many great records in a career going back to 1973. This is one of his gentler ones:

The song was on Bruce’s eighth studio album, Tunnel Of Love, released in 1987. This was the follow up to Born In The USA so it tends to pale by comparison. I bought it at the time – it was actually the last vinyl album I bought – and I have always loved it. In my view it has been underrated, though it has sold well over 5m copies, which most acts would die for! This was the fourth of five singles released from the album. It didn’t chart in the US but reached #13 here: I guess most who wanted it had bought the album by then, as that was #1 on both sides of the Atlantic.

There have been several covers of Tougher Than The Rest, one of my favourites being that by Shawn Colvin on her 2015 album Uncovered. That leads me neatly into my next selection for this week which is by, you guessed it, Shawn Colvin. It’s almost as if I plan this, isn’t it? One of her cover versions appeared in my previous post, but this is one of her own. It is another of those ‘use my strength’ songs:

Apologies for the static video but with a song as good as that, who needs pictures anyway? The song featured on Shawn’s second album, Fat City, from 1992. She has never been one to make huge dents in the charts: that album got as far as #142 in the States and didn’t chart here at all. In fact, her best chart performances have only been a #39 in the US and a #67 here – and not with the same album. Her singles haven’t fared much better, either. This one didn’t chart anywhere, as far as I can tell, and she has only ever hit the top 100 once in the US, with Sunny Came Home in 1997. That reached #7 there and #29 here, but at least we’ve got six of her other singles into our top 100 too! I’ve heard it said that some music is too good for the charts: if that is true, Shawn is a case in point, as her output has been uniformly excellent.

For this week’s final choice I’m returning to one of my favourite artists, ever. Somehow I’ve reached the 24th in this series without him, and it’s long overdue that I fixed that. I’ve written about his music before, in particular when I marked his passing with my tribute. This song didn’t feature in that tribute – I had so many to choose from! – but it is still one of my favourites, of his or anyone else’s:

That is just so good! Not a bad backing band, either. The song was on what was officially Tom’s debut solo album, Full Moon Fever, released in 1989, though members of the Heartbreakers played on several tracks, particularly Mike Campbell, who you saw playing guitar in the video. The album was #3 in the US and #8 here, and has sold over 6m copies. Three of its tracks, including this one, were released as singles – this one peaked at #12 in the US and #28 here. Its message of strength and defiance against the odds is a perfect fit for my theme this week. It has also been used by a number of US politicians as music at their campaign rallies, most notably in June this year by the orange moron, who received a ‘cease and desist’ letter from Tom’s family, saying that Tom had always wanted his music to bring people together, not divide them. And so say all of us – well, apart from the aforementioned moron, that is.

A little footnote for you, too. As Wikipedia notes: ‘The song has become a tradition at Florida Gators football games at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Petty’s hometown. Petty died unexpectedly on October 3, 2017, and at the next home game the following Saturday, the song was played between the third and fourth quarters after the traditional university song “We Are The Boys From Old Florida.” It has been played at that time at every subsequent Florida home game, with fans singing along and holding aloft cell phones to fill the stadium with lights.’

Here is that first time:

That, for me, is a perfect example both of the strength and power of music, and of its ability to unite us. A suitable place to end this week’s tunes, I think. Take care, be safe and stay strong.

Tuesday Tunes 21: Growing Up

When I was growing up, all those years ago, the age of majority in the UK was 21, and the occasion was usually marked by a special birthday party. Things began to change in 1969 when the voting age was lowered to 18, giving rise to much confusion: did we now reach majority at 18? Did all those years of tradition have to be thrown out of the window? In typical British style we somehow managed to compromise by counting both as the birthday at which we were suddenly supposed to become mature, and many lucky people had two big birthday celebrations. Me? I had neither! But that may be a story for another day. After going themeless for a couple of weeks I’m returning to the usual plan for this week, and am marking the 21st post in this series with the theme: Growing Up.

There are many songs which talk about what growing up means to us, how a milestone can be a time to both look back and ahead, how it can be a time of reflection and of hope. I had so many from which to choose that I had difficulty even getting the selection down to four songs, so that is what I’m going with.

Where to begin? You just can’t beat the Boss, can you? This song really says a lot about casting off the shackles and constraints that you feel in youth and becoming your own person, and is the ideal launchpad for this week:

As is fairly obvious from the images in the video, this was on Bruce’s debut album, Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ, which was released in January 1973. As debut albums go, it didn’t do badly, reaching #41 in the UK albums chart and #60 in the US. Probably helped by later sales, after his career took off in a big way, it has sold around 3m copies. As I said, not bad!

This week’s second tune is one that takes the concept of growing up rather differently – in this case, wishing that a youngster could always stay the way they are. I have previously written a post themed around Taylor Swift’s Never Grow Up (find it in the search box if you’d like to) and Rod Stewart covers similar ground, with a lovely video to match:

From its title you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a Bob Dylan song. It is, in part. Rod borrowed a lot from Bob’s song in writing his own, and asked Bob for permission to use his words. They agreed on a co-writing credit and a 50/50 share of the royalties from Rod’s song. That sounds like a good compromise to me – it avoided the long legal wrangles that other songwriters have found themselves in. The song is included on Rod’s 15th studio album, Out Of Order, released in 1988, which peaked at #11 in the UK and #20 in the US – though it did make #1 in Sweden! The track was the second single released from the album, reaching only #57 in the UK and #12 in the US: I think it deserved better.

The next song for this week takes the theme of looking back on life when major changes have impacted you. John Lennon was 25 when he wrote this reflection on how his life had altered, and how he had grown up, in just three years after the Beatles’ massive success began:

Apologies for the static image, but that is the official video for the 2009 remaster of the track, and offers a huge improvement in quality over previous versions, allowing the song’s simple beauty to really shine. As you probably know, it was on Rubber Soul, which was the Beatles’ sixth album, released in December 1965. Unsurprisingly, it peaked at #1 in both the UK and the US, and in a number of other countries too. Like the other songs on the album, it wasn’t released as a single – the Beatles mostly kept singles and albums apart in those days, though a couple of tracks were released as singles in the US in 1966, one of which – Nowhere Man – reached #1. Here in the UK, we just bought their LPs by the shed load!

Having given you songs from three of the best known acts of all time, this week’s final selection is from one of my favourite bands, who will probably be unknown to most of you. Oysterband were formed in my East Kent homeland, and have been a major feature of the English folk music scene for forty years or so. They are also very popular throughout Europe, but have, as far as I know, never achieved much in the US – you guys have really missed out! This is a song about growing up to the point where the life you’ve known no longer gives you all that you need. I think it bookends this week’s post rather neatly with the Boss. Again, this is solely an album track, but is none the less superb for that:

I never fail to be uplifted by that! I don’t think the Oysters have ever dented the charts, here or anywhere else, but their gigs are always sold out (when we’re allowed to go) and they are a brilliant live band: I know, I’ve seen them! The female singer on that one is Rowan Godel, who isn’t a band member but occasionally lends her powerful vocals to their songs, as well as having her own band. The counterbalance between the two voices really makes that one for me. A little side story: several of the then members of the band were also part of Fiddlers Dram, who had a novelty #3 hit in 1979 with The Day We Went To Bangor. Sadly for them there was no follow up success but, if you’ve heard that song, you’ll probably agree that the current version of the band is far better!

That’s about it for this week. I’m off to celebrate my coming of age with a cup of tea and maybe a Mars bar (other chocolate bars are available). Have a great week, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday. TTFN 👋