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 23: Happy

After last week’s potentially downbeat theme I was looking to counterbalance it this time round. I’ve recently been thinking a lot about what music means for me and why, and one of the things that kept popping into my brain was that music has the power to make us happy. What better theme could there be? So, ‘Happy’ it is, for this week.

I’ve chosen three songs for you which feature the word ‘happy’ in their title, and a bonus video which shows the effect music can have in creating happiness and pleasure. My first video is one which oozes happiness:

I really should have saved last week’s opening picture till now, shouldn’t I! But don’t worry, a Julie Andrews song won’t be appearing here any time soon. Shiny Happy People appeared on R.E.M.’s seventh album, Out Of Time, released in 1991. It was the only one of their singles to reach the top ten in both the UK and the US: #6 here and #10 across the pond. Apparently the band hated the song: they have only ever played it live once – on Saturday Night Live – and refused to allow it to appear on their first ‘greatest hits’ album, though it did feature on the second such collection. Maybe they were miffed that it was considered for the title music for the tv series Friends, but was passed over in favour of the Rembrandts? Despite their disapproval I‘ve always rather liked it, and it is a good starting point for this week’s theme: anything with the delightful Kate Pierson (of the B52s) happily bouncing around with a beaming smile has got to be worth watching, right? And over 48m viewers of the video can’t be wrong!

For this week’s second tune I’m going way back to my teenage years. This was one of those songs that got me interested in American music: we had the Beatles, the Stones, and seemingly the entire population of Liverpool, whilst the US was giving us Dylan and the Byrds, and a selection of hit records by other bands. This was one such:

That song was the title track of the Turtles’ third album, released in 1967, and was the only time they made it to the top of the US singles chart. It also got a lot of airplay here and reached #12. I didn’t have the album, but the song featured on a ‘best of’ album, which I did have, along with the grandly titled follow up The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands, which included their subsequent hit singles Elenore and You Showed Me. I think it demonstrates a certain amount of chutzpah to release a greatest hits album after just three previous records, but they had some style and confidence!

This week’s third song is one that was ubiquitous in 2014. This was a #1 for Pharrell Williams in both the UK and the US. In fact, it reached the top spot on three separate occasions here in the UK, and is our eighth highest selling single of all time. I’m sorry if this disappoints anyone who is a fan of the original, but I’m sharing a cover version:

If you haven’t come across them before, I can’t recommend Walk Off The Earth (WOTE) highly enough. They first stormed to YouTube fame with their unique take on Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know (currently at over 188m views) and have made a large number of very creative videos since then. They make their own music, which is great, but their many cover versions of other people’s songs are also well worth your time: as well as the aforementioned, I suggest their take on Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off to get you going. For the sake of clarity, WOTE are those in the front row of the video apart from the guy on the left, plus the inimitable (much loved and missed) Mike Taylor, aka Beard Guy, in the sleeping rack. I’ve featured them several times before in posts, and you’ll find these by putting ‘WOTE’ or ‘Walk Off The Earth’ into the search box, if you want to see more. As I said, I make no apology for sharing this version: it embodies so well the spirit of the song and music’s capacity to make us happy and have fun. I defy anyone to watch that without smiling!

I promised you a bonus song. This one doesn’t include the word ‘happy’ in its title, but this performance demonstrates how much fun music can bring to so many:

The song was written by Steve Earle and featured on his 2000 album Transcendental Blues. Mundy had a huge hit with it in Ireland in 2008. Personally, I think his version isn’t even in the same league as the original but when he’s being drowned out by a crowd of more than 15,000 other performers I can just about take him! I saw the Sharon Shannon band live (with guests) some years ago and they played this as an encore. As the only male guest artist was Shane MacGowan, who had been barely capable of standing up and singing his own songs, they wisely didn’t ask him to sing this: it was performed by one of the roadies, whose version was at least the equal of Mundy’s. But no matter how much I knock him, it is undeniable that his version of the song has brought pleasure to many in Ireland, and this was a wonderfully happy occasion, at the heart of which was a simple song. Music = happiness: just look at all those smiling faces! You’ll see a few more if you stay till after the credits, as there are some more shots taken during the performance which didn’t reach the main video.

Who would have thought that I would still be running this series five months on, when it began as just a germ (pun intended) of an idea to lighten things up as the pandemic took hold? There were some worrying predictions in yesterday’s paper about what might happen in the next few months: not only do we have Covid to contend with, but we could be facing the ‘perfect storm’ of a second wave coupled with the effects of a no deal Brexit. More than ever, I think there will be a need for music to brighten our lives, so I don’t think this series will have run its course for a while yet! I know statistics aren’t always reliable, but mine aren’t ‘created’ by the government so I think I can trust them: judging by the increasing number of views and ‘likes’ these posts are receiving there is an audience out there, and I’m grateful to each and every one of you who visits, likes, comments on and shares these posts. I’m still having fun with them, and I hope you are, too.

I’ll be back next week with another theme and some tunes. I have several thoughts as to what the theme will be, so watch this space. Be safe, wear your mask when required, and keep your distance. Take care 🙂

#ChristmasSongOfTheDay 2019 – Part Four

IT’S CHRIIIISTMAS! But that’s as close as I’ll be getting to ‘that’ song, don’t worry. This is being posted on Christmas Day but I would imagine that most readers have far better things to do today than read my blog so, on the assumption that you are catching up after the main event, I hope it was a good one for you.

This is my final post of this year’s Christmas series, and I’m grateful to everyone who has read the three previous episodes and commented on their enjoyment of my musical choices. I’m guessing that anyone who thought they were rubbish just moved on without saying so! This part takes us from day 20 up to today, which should mean six songs – but as I’ve taken to doing, I posted a bonus track today, so there would actually have been seven. No prizes for guessing which was the bonus song, as it has already appeared in another post this month. But then a new video was uploaded to YouTube yesterday, which I just had to include. So, should I drop one of my choices? No, it’s Christmas, so I went a little mad and posted the new one as well! So there are now eight songs in this collection. Oh, and another bonus one too. Are you keeping up?

On the 20th I posted a version of Silent Night. I’ve included this song every year I’ve done this (all five of them) but, as there are so many versions of it, I try a different one each year. This time, I shared a very recent live performance by Sarah Darling, from her concert at the Union Chapel in London. That is one of my favourite venues and it has great acoustics, as you can hear from Sarah’s performance:

I think that is lovely, and is why I made a break from my usual habit of not featuring the same artist twice in this series: Sarah now shares that dubious honour with just four other acts that were double choices in previous years. It’s probably no coincidence that three of them are featured in this post.

One of those was the estimable Mary Chapin Carpenter, whose seasonal album Come Darkness, Come Light is required listening for me at this time of year. I chose the title track on the 21st, as it is a beautiful song and the video that someone has made to accompany it fits it well:

A song that I have featured each year was my song for the 22nd. I try to share a carol on Advent Sundays, and as Kate Rusby has now made five albums of these I’m rather spoilt for choice, as I love her voice and her music. I’ve seen her play live, so I know that she needs no studio trickery to make her sound good. This is the title track of her first Christmas album, Sweet Bells, which was released in 2008. If I’m honest, I still think this is her best of the five, but they are all fabulous. The animated video that accompanies this isn’t ‘official,’ but it is a perfect accompaniment, and the depiction of Kate is extremely good:

On Monday (23rd) I chose one that I’ve not featured before. You may well know Santa Baby from Marilyn Monroe or one of the countless other versions, but you probably haven’t seen the treatment given to it by Walk Off The Earth. This band has also been a double entry in a previous year: you may not know them but they have a very loyal following, get multi-million views for most of their videos – which are often very inventive – and their live shows are always sold out. Here’s a rather different Santa Baby or, in this case, Baby Santa:

And just to confirm, those puppets are very good likenesses of the band members, and the baby is the child of two of them, so I very much doubt that he was trying to drink real alcohol!

For Christmas Eve (i.e. yesterday) I chose the same song I have done every year. This may sound repetitious, but I never tire of hearing it, and given its title there is only one day on which it could be shared! Mindy Smith is another of that select band who have featured twice in the same set in a previous year. I think this video shows why, as her voice is lovely and the song captures what every parent of a small child is thinking on the night before the big day:

I try to vary my choices for Christmas Day itself and, whilst this one has been a selection in a previous year, this was not on Christmas Day. As its title is Christmas Must Be Tonight I may have been missing something! It’s a great song from the best band ever to be called ‘The Band’:

I am by nature a creature of habit and have shared today’s first bonus song every year, though not always on Christmas Day. But it is a fairly obvious choice for today, and has become a pop classic in the 32 years since it was first released. I featured it in my recent post Christmas Number Twos – my Christmas just wouldn’t be complete without Kirsty MacColl and the Pogues:

I once saw a Snoopy cartoon which had the tagline ‘in every programme, Charlie Brown, there are some last minute changes.’ Courtesy of the lovely people who produce the live music show Live From Here, this is one such change. The show is fronted by Chris Thile, formerly of the excellent band Nickel Creek. Another former member, Sara Watkins, is now in a female trio called I’m With Her, with Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan, and the three of them are regular guests on the show, either solo or in combinations of two or three. A couple of weeks ago they had a little bit of pre-Christmas fun with a children’s song, and it is so charming that I just had to share it. I never thought I’d hear the lovely Sarah Jarosz singing I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas, but now I have and its fabulous:

I’ve ended the three previous episodes of this series with the wonderful adverts made by Hafod Hardware, a local store in the small Welsh town of Rhayader. Made with love by the family who run the business, on a budget of around £100 each year (for the beautiful backing music by Andrea Von Kampen) these really put to shame the big budget extravaganzas of the large UK retailers. So, as another Christmas bonus, here is this year’s again:


I think there’s something in my eye….

* * * * *

Well, that’s it for this year. I hope you’ve enjoyed at least some of my choices across the four episodes. Twelve of the twenty seven have been first timers this year: I like to refresh things but it has been very hard to leave out so many good songs that I could have included. I suppose there’s always next year…

From tomorrow until New Year’s Day the daily songs on my Facebook page and Twitter will be #NewYearSongOfTheDay choices. Unless anything pops into my head in the meantime, you’ll next see me back here on New Year’s Day with a round up post of those.

One final word from me for this year: thank you to everyone who has read, ‘liked’ and/or commented on any of my posts this year. I am very aware that we all have pressures on our time, and I’m grateful to you for spending some of it with me and my ramblings.

Enjoy the rest of your Christmas: I hope it is a happy and peaceful one.