For My Sunday Song #224, we are going to discuss one of Queen’s fun songs, “I’m in Love With My Car”. The song is off the album, “A Night at the Opera” which was released in 1975. The song was written by Roger Taylor and is one of his more famous songs mainly because it was the B-Side to a little known Queen hit “Bohemian Rhapsody”, you may have heard of that one. There is a whole story to that which we will get to shortly.
The song was actually inspired by one of the band’s roadies, Johnathan Harris. Johnathan loved his car to death which was a Triumph TR4. Roger wrote it and played all the instruments for the demo and the band kind of thought of it as a joke, but Roger wasn’t joking. They recorded the song and Roger pitched a royal tantrum to get on the B-Side of “Bohemian Rhapsody” which the band finally caved after Roger had locked himself in a closet (or cupboard) until Freddie finally agreed. This ended up causing a lot of tension between him and Freddie because Freddie was pissed he got as much in royalties for that “Bohemian Rhapsody” single he didn’t write-it. But because his song was on the B-Side he got a big piece of the pie as well. Turned out that whole tantrum trick worked out quite nicely in Roger’s favor.
The song is actually pretty great. What guy hasn’t fallen in love with his car. I had a friend that spent so many long hours fixing up their 69 Firebird and they loved their car so much. It was also fun to do burnouts with. And I love my car now as it is fun to drive and just hugs the road. So I get it. Musically, Brain May’s guitar work is great as he recorded it with his own Red Special guitar. Freddy is on the piano playing away and Roger’s vocals sound great. The song ends with a motor revving and that was Roger’s own car which was an Alfa Romeo.
For My Sunday Song #222, we are focusing on the song “Tenement Funster” off the Queen 1974 album, ‘Sheer Heart Attacks’. The song was written by Roger Taylor and sung by Roger Taylor. It was not a single and was actually part of a 3 song medley on the album with “Flick of the Wrist” and “Lily of the Valley”. Since the songs are only tied together somewhat musically, they are all 3 different songs lyrically and don’t really go together in any kind of story. For that reason, I want to focus only on the first track, “Tenement Funster”. What a song name. I love saying it…”Tenement Funster”, “Tenement Funster”, “Tenement Funster”…you try it now…see lots of fun and hard to say it 3 times fast.
As I said, the song was written by Roger and seems to be about youth and rebellion which is a typical rock & roll theme. Lyrically, it seems a little out there as I know idea what is so special about his “new purple shoes”, but his “rock-and-roll 45s, been enraging the folks on the lower floor” makes total sense as I can imagine if I was living in an apartment complex my music would enrage many a neighbors. I am still not sure what a “Tenement Funster” is except maybe it is as simple as a guy who lives in a tenement (apartment) and loves to have fun and not worry about what everyone else thinks. Good enough for me.
Musically, it is a solid rock track and Roger sounds really great on it. There are elements of the Beatles and yet there is still the Brian May guitar sound, the theatrical feel to it and the Queen backing vocals and if you listen close someone goes really, really high singing “Young and we’re crazy”, it is actually quite funny. You have John Deacon doing the bass and opening the track on the acoustic guitar while Brian still handles the lead. Freddie Mercury doesn’t do any vocals, but he does contribute on the piano. Roger’s drumming is great and it is an all around fantastic Roger sung song and one of my favorites of his.
For My Sunday Song #221, we are starting the next set of 10 songs with the band Queen and first up is “Innuendo”. The song is the title track to their 1991 album ‘Innuendo’ which was their 14th studio album and for me their last proper studio album as Freddy died a short time later after its release. The song was the first single off the album and went to #1 in the UK and #17 in the US. I bought this album the day it came out and loved this song instantly.
The song was written by Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor and actually developed from a jam session that was going on by Brian May, John Deacon and Roger. It was very “Bohemian Rhapsody” with all the style changes and is actually longer than that song. It was pieced together from many different pieces, but when joined together it is a kind of magic. The lyrics are part tribute to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’ (Roger’s part) and part shout out to the stories on Freddie’s health (Freddie’s part).
But it is the music that blows me away with it’s drum roll opening and eerie tones building until we get to Freddie’s voice. It is dark and haunting and then goes “Bolero style” with its flamenco guitars with help from Steve Howe of Yes and Brian May. Steve actually handles the solo part. There is full on orchestration which harkens back to ‘Bohemian” and then it rocks out. The orchestration was done all on keyboards by Freddie and David Richards the producer. It is progressive rock, 1991. It is one of those songs that has so much going on that you find little nuggets that you missed in the prior listens. It is a song that keeps on giving. Queen does excess well and this song screams excess and over-the-top and it works on so many levels. What an opening track to an album.
For My Sunday Song #220 and the last one in the Matt Nathanson 10 song set is “Come on Get Higher” off his 2007 album ‘Some Mad Hope’. This is the one song that people most definitely know as it was his biggest hit. It didn’t break the Top 40, but it did sell over 2 million copies of the song alone which is why it is his biggest hit.
The song is about a lost love and missing them terribly. He longs for her touch and even misses the bad parts with her violent words and sweet words she would yell at him. It sounds like a very dysfunctional relationship, but when it was good, it sounds sensual, sexy and amazing and when it was bad, it was truly bad. Despite all that he wants to show her that it can work out and they would be amazing. Matt has way of writing that is so sexual without being obscene or even vulgar. It is more sensual and sexy. Lyrics like…
So come on, get higher, loosen my lips Faith and desire and the swing of your hips Just pull me down hard And drown me in love
It is those little touches in his lyrics that make his song magical and the songs so memorable. It is another shining example of why I think he is such an underrated songwriter.
For My Sunday Song #219, we are discussing a song called “Modern Love” by Matt Nathanson. The song is the title track on his album ‘Modern Love’ which was released on June 21, 2011. This song was the fourth single off the album and though it didn’t chart it is still a shining light on this album.
What I love about this song is it cynicism. The song seems to be inspired by the “hook-up” culture of the younger generation. This poor girl is tired of “all of these salesmen” who are serving up lie after lie. She is tired of no one wanting to be committed to anything. She is done with it, no more sleeping around, no more bullshit and she is just plain done. I love the line…“Oh this modern love is a taco truck”…Matt stated in an interview that the line is about the fact people stand there and eat the food without actually sitting down and enjoying the meal which is how people are treating relationships. With Tinder and other disappointing apps, it is a fast food world of relationships. I believe he is spot on.
Musically, the song is an upbeat, pop song that is full of life and joy even though the lyrics aren’t truly happy thoughts. That is one of the joys of Matt’s music is that the lyrics and music often contradict themselves. The music is full of bouncy keyboard/horn sounds, a nice danceable groove and some simple guitar playing that all blends together in to a happy musical experience.
For My Sunday Song #218, we are going to discuss the song “Used to Be” by Matt Nathanson off his album ‘Sings His Sad Heart’ that was released on October 5, 2018 just a couple short years ago. The album is one of my favorites as it is one of the saddest albums you will ever hear, but the music doesn’t necessarily match that sadness. They are a beautiful contradiction.
“Used to Be”, however, is not that contradiction. The music and lyrics are both sad although that sadness is more nostalgia. The singer is looking back about an old flame and he is missing her so much. He is letting her know that if she is starting to forget those memories, he can help her remember. Basically, the person he is jonesing for has completely moved on, but he can’t move forward. He is stuck in the past. There is a line in the song that is so brilliant and one of the coolest lines I’ve ever read…
And if you’re having trouble, baby, holding on to memories I’ve got a king-sized bed and a Ph.D. in the way it used to be
“King-sized be and a PH.D. in the way it used to be”, I don’t know…it just sounds so perfect. This part of the chorus just sinks in and grabs you and is so memorable, you can’t help but sing along and it starts to feel like an old friend you’ve known forever. Matt has a way of writing that sounds so familiar and comfortable. He writes for the everyday person and although his stuff is so personal to him, it is the same thing everyone else is feeling or have felt at some time in the life.
For My Sunday Song #217, we will talk about the song “Last Days of Summer in San Francisco” by Matt Nathanson. The song is off his 2013 album “Last of the Great Pretenders” which went to #16 on the Billboard charts. The song was never released as a single, but most of Matt’s songs aren’t and it is those deep cuts that draw me to his music. Okay that and the incredible song writing.
“Last Days of Summer in San Francisco” is like a lot of songs on this album that seem to be a love letter to San Francisco with shout-outs to locations and landmarks. This particular song seems to be about a powerful Summer love that helped define the person who he became. The person showed them who they were and gave them the strength to do things they didn’t think they could even if some of them were stupid stuff. It sounds like a Summer romance that blew hot and then burned out. But it is that first verse that sums up the song to me perfectly…
We spent July in a Berkeley basement, Half read books, and bold declarations. There was so much I didn’t believe in And then, there was you. You made me brave, You made me stupid Gave me this skin, that I could move in.
It is that kind of writing that makes Matt so special. His word phrasing, his pacing, it is all just brilliance to me. His music connects to the most human of experiences and emotions. He sings of life, love and heartache in ways most people dream they could do.
For My Sunday Song #216, we are going to explore the song “Room at the End of the World” by Matt Nathanson. The song is off his stellar 2011 album, ‘Modern Love’ and it was the 2nd single off the album. Although I don’t think the song charted, the album did debut at #17 on the Billboard charts. The fact that it didn’t chart is no surprise as Matt has never been a darling of public radio. His songs are way too good for radio as they are well crafted masterpieces and lyrical poems about life and he is pure talent unlike the bozos on radio. No, I am not biased…okay…yes I am. You got me!
I think the song is talking about being with the one you love and nothing to take away that fact. Even if the world was ending, you two would get a room and make the best of what was to come. I love how the song talks about how he was lost and had given up on love until he found “The One”. The One that makes him whole, The One that he will be with until the end of time, The One true love. There is line that says “one heart is never enough alone” and I don’t think it is saying you have to be someone to be whole, I think it is saying that he never felt complete until he found her (or him). His lyrical phrasing is always so eloquent and so beautiful. He doesn’t sing a love song in the same cliched way other songs do.
Musically, the song is an upbeat, feel-good song that dances along with its ups and downs the same way we go through life. The drum beats towards the end are your heart beating as the love builds and the song keeps promising to deliver more and does just that as the final choruses are sung with all his heart and the music is full of life and love.
For My Sunday Song #215, we are going to discuss “Suspended” by Matt Nathanson off his 2003 album ‘Beneath the Fireworks’. The album was one of the first I heard by Matt and helped me get on board to become a full-fledged fan. “Suspended” was a single off the album but failed to chart. His first charted single didn’t come until his next album, ‘Some Mad Hope’ in 2007.
The song seems to be about being with someone that that you think is pretending you are the one. You are scared. You are feeling things that you haven’t felt before. You are alive, no longer numb. You feel she might actually be the one, but you are scared that she is. You freak out a little, but you finally suspend disbelief and except her for what this is and it could be beautiful. For me, it is a song about hope in finding your true love. I find it it to be a beautiful and the way he captures the emotions in the lyrics is amazing.
Musically, it is a pop song, plain and simple. Nice beats, good grove, great vocal delivery. There is nothing special about it, no outstanding moment. It perfectly captures the tone of the lyrics and it is catchy, fun and pleasant. Sometimes, the beauty is in the simplicity.
For My Sunday Song #214, we are going to discuss the song “Adrenaline” off Matt Nathanson’s album ‘Show Me Your Fangs’ from 2015. The album contained 4 singles and next to “Headphones” this might be my favorite single off the album. It charted as high as #26 on the US Adult Alternative Charts and did as well as “Headphones”.
I picture “Adrenaline” as a song about longing and desire. After a bad breakup and you run in to that person again and you want to be with them so badly you can taste it. All you remember is how great it was and wanting to capture that desire, that passion that emotion one more time and if you could grab hold, you wouldn’t let go this time. Lyrically, the song captures that feeling beautifully as well as full of some imagery of Los Angeles and of that desire that make the song a little on the sexy side.
Musically the songs starts off with an almost angelic vocals full of echo and a haunting delivery. There is a great drum beat throughout that gets you moving and bobbing the head. The highlight for me is how Matt delivers the song vocally. They way he dances with the lyrics and loses himself in the lyrics makes you feel everything that the song is trying to make you feel. A talent on both as a songwriter and a singer and when those too mesh together in the right way, you are treated with something magical and this song is exactly that.