For My Sunday Song #112, I am going to talk about “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman. Released on April 6th, 1988, and on her self-titled album, “Fast Car” was a massive hit reaching all the way to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. I remember seeing the video on MTV and thinking what an amazing and beautiful song. It was not like anything else on the radio at the time.
The song is an acoustical track with just Tracy, an acoustic guitar and some percussion. Tracy is a folk pop or folk rock singer and her haunting vocals are so impactful and heartfelt that you believe the hardships this person is facing. It was her vocals performance that made me fall in love with this song (and this album). It was the most honest performance from I song I had heard on the radio at that time. It made me think, if she could write such a powerful song, what else can she write about. And the album doesn’t disappoint.
The song is about a young woman who has grown up with a very rough life. Her dad is an alcoholic and her mom left them. She had to quit school to take care of her dad and they were very poor. She has a boyfriend and she dreams about taking a fast car and driving to the city and starting over and having a better life in the city. Sadly, her boyfriend is a drunk just like her dad and she can’t break free from the hold poverty has on her world. Such a sad song and story, yet it is so beautiful.
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For My Sunday Song #111, we are going to examine “Blue On Black” by Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. The song was released in 1998 and was off their album ‘Trouble Is”. “Blue on Black” was #1 on the Mainstream Rock Chart where it stayed for 6 weeks and it stayed on the charts for around 42 weeks. It also won the Billboard Music Award for Rock Track of the Year. Not bad for a Blues song.
“Blue on Black” as a song can mean anything to the listener. Kenny won’t say what it means, but people interpret it as either losing someone whether by death or end of a relationship or that the relationship was abusive. For me, I view at as the end of a relationship. I don’t see it as abusive but it ended badly with things were said that shouldn’t have been and maybe anger got the best of them and someone was push and shoved. But you interpret it as you want.
Another interesting thing about the term ‘Blue on Black’. The idea for the song came from Kenny wearing a shirt and those two colors were the main colors of the shirt. Tia Sillars, one of the songwriters, thought how when you take those two colors and put them together you actually don’t get a new color. The dominance of the black just absorbs the blue and still makes black. I take that to mean when things are dark and you are blue, you can get consumed by it and things just get bleaker.
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For My Sunday Song #110, we are going to explore the world of Live and their song “Lakini’s Juice”. The song is off their 1997 album ‘Secret Samadhi’ and was the first single off the record. It did pretty well as it went to #1 on the Mainstream Rock Track chart and when it came out it caught my attention.
But what is Lakini’s Juice? For that, you have to delve into the world of Hindu. Lakini is goddess and is described below…
She has a black or dark-blue vermilion color; three faces, each with three eyes; is four-armed; holds a thunderbolt, the arrow shot from the bow of Kama, fire and makes the gesture of granting boons and dispelling fear. She is seated upon a red lotus. (wikipedia).
Lakini is the goddess of the Manipuraka Chakra and Lakini’s Juice comes from this…
In Hinduism, Lakini is the goddess of the Manipuraka (city of jewels), which is the third of the seven Chakras. This Chakra represents the solar plexis of the human body, just above the navel, and is responsible for the pancreas and gall bladder as well as intuition (gut feelings). Lakini’s “juice” is the bile, pancreatic fluid, and other chemicals produced by this region of the body that aid in digestion and excretion. (popdose.com)
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For My Sunday Song #109, “Ace of Spades” by Motorhead gets the focus this week. This is one of the most iconic Motorhead songs and it reached #15 on the charts when it was released back in 1980 on the album titled ‘Ace of Spades’. The song actually hit the UK charts again after Lemmy’s death in 2015. It went all the way to #13, two spots higher than the original run.
The song is all about gambling and has every known gambling cliche known to man included in the song and yet it works. It was only 2:48 in length yet so memorable and impactful. The menacing opening bass riff by Lemmy and that fast driving, dirty rock sound matched up with that gritty vocal by Lemmy is what makes this one of the great rock songs of all time. It was the song that introduced me to Motorhead and I am sure I am not the only one.
As I am not a gambler (ok I am not a good one), I was curious about the dead man’s hand. It turns out the Dead Man’s Hand relates to the hand that Wild Bill Hickok had when he was shot in the back of the head by Jack McCall while playing poker back in 1876. The hand he supposedly had was 2 Black 8’s and 2 Black Aces.
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For this month’s The Original Vs The Cover, we are comparing the versions of the song “Higher Ground” originally performed by Stevie Wonder and then later covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Two great artists and two very different versions so which will come out on top.
The song was written by Stevie Wonder and it came out on his 1973 album ‘Innervisions’. It went all the way to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the R&B chart. It was a very successful song for Stevie and in 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #265 on the Top 500 Songs of all time. Not bad.
The song is possibly about two things. One being second chances and the other is reincarnation (which could also be considered a second chance I guess). Stevie wrote the song and recorded it in a span of 3 hours which to me is amazing. According to Stevie, he felt a sense of urgency to get it done as if something was going to happen and he needed to finish it. Just a few months later, he was in a car accident that put him in a coma for four days (3 days after the album was released).
Okay, let us get to the songs…
Stevie’s song is pure 70’s funk. It has such an awesome little groove and that unique wah sound comes from a clavinet using a Mu-Tron III pedal. What are those? Here is a picture (thanks wikipedia).
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For My Sunday Song #108, I am going to discuss the song “Hell is for Children” by powerhouse singer Pat Benatar. The song was recorded in 1980 and released on her album ‘Crimes of Passion’ which went to #2 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart. The song itself was never released as an official single, but became a hit nonetheless.
The song was inspired by an article that Pat had read in the New York Times that told the story of child abuse. She was so moved by the article that she started writing this song. In a time when no one was speaking publicly about child abuse, it was really groundbreaking for an artist to tackle such an intense subject.
The lyrics capture the sadness and despair the children of abuse face each day. Just read the opening verse:
“They cry in the dark, so you can’t see their tears
They hide in the light, so you can’t see their fears
Forgive and forget, all the while
Love and pain become one and the same
In the eyes of a wounded child”
The lyrics go on to talk about the abuser telling the kids not tell mommy and to lie to everyone about what happened while they apologize for what they had done yet continue to abuse. It doesn’t get more raw than this song, so powerful.
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For My Sunday Song #107 is going to take us out into a world that is so strange and bizarre you might never want to return. We will explore the world of Rob Zombie and his song “Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown”. The song is off his 2013 album ‘Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor’. The song did chart at #15 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks, but that doesn’t matter for Rob Zombie.
The song is in the normal Rob Zombie industrial style music. It is hard, heavy and slams a fist into your face. The main draw for me is his guitar player, the guitar god himself, John 5. John 5 is a beast of a guitarist. The sounds and his touch are always perfection and with this one there is at times a whole Sabbath vibe with some of his tone.
The song is about the state of rock radio today. What was once a flourishing hot bed of good music is dying off in droves. It changed the way we listened to music, but thanks to the internet and the digital download and streaming, the art of radio is dying off. I have to agree that radio seems to be a dying form. The problem with radio is no variety. They play the same songs and artists over and over and you don’t really discover new music on the radio anymore. That is what Youtube and streaming is for now.
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For My Sunday Song #106, I bring you “Renegade” by the band Styx. The song was released in 1978 off the album ‘Pieces of Eight’. It did pretty well on the charts and reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song for me is much better than that.
The song is about an outlaw (or renegade) who has been arrested for his crimes and is about to be hanged for those said crimes according to the lyrics…”Hangman is comin’ down from the gallows and I don’t have very long”. The lyrics are basically a letter to the renegades mom telling her that he has been caught and is going to die.
There is a dark, ominous feel to the song especially in the opening verse which is just Tommy’s vocals and small kick drum in the first two lines and then a chorus of voices for the next two. It is so eerie that it is wonderful. And don’t forget the scream that kicks the song into overdrive. And damn, that opening line is so impactful…”Oh, Mama, I’m in fear for my life from the long arm of the law”.
What is also great about this song is the music. Whether it is the guitar solo by James “JY” Young, the keyboards by Dennis DeYoung or John Panozzo’s drumming or a combination of all three, it just works. Normally when Tommy write’s a song, he does the guitar solo, but he let JY do it instead and I think that was a good choice so he could focus on the vocal delivery.
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For My Sunday Song #105, I am bringing to you “Edge of Seventeen” by the wonderful and talented Stevie Nicks. The song was released as a single in 1982 and appeared on her 1981 album ‘Bella Donna’. The song reached all the way to #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 just missing going Top Ten.
This is one of my favorite songs by Stevie and it is from a time where she could do no wrong whether it was her solo work or her work with Fleetwood Mac. She was everywhere. She didn’t have this beautiful, angelic vocals of the pop stars of that era. She was graced with a little gritty voice that is even better and is pure rock & roll. And if I had to pick my favorite female vocalists, she would be at or near the top.
The song is about death. It was written due to the death of two individuals. First one was John Lennon (heard in the lyric…”With their words of a poet / And a voice from a choir”) and the other death was her uncle. Her uncle was diagnosed with cancer and within weeks died and all those emotions she was feeling came out in the song.
What I also love about the song is the line “Just like the white winged dove” and then the chorus of “Whoo, Whoo, Whoo” which sounds like the bird is singing. The dove is symbolic of the spirit leaving the body and she flies away she sings. It is really a beautiful visual.
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For My Sunday Song #104, we are covering one of the great songs to come out of the Grunge Era, “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden. The song was all over the radio although it never broke the Top 40. It did reach #1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks. The song was featured on the band’s fourth album ‘Superunknown’ back in 1994.
The grunge era was permeated with depressing songs and this was no exception; however, there was something more to it. Whether it was the songwriting, the vocals, or the music itself, Soundgarden was different than the other bands. They had talent, they had musicianship and they had one of the greatest vocalist at the time with Chris Cornell. I never got into grunge, but Soundgarden was one of the very few bands I got into because of the songs.
“Black Hole Sun” was juxtaposed with the darkness of a black hole and the brightness of the sun…at least in the title. It had this really beautiful chorus, but what the song was really about I had no idea. The words didn’t really make sense (see the lyrics below); however, they sounded great together. The song is really sad and dark although at times the song doesn’t sound that way. It all just kinda worked.
Chris was asked about the song after it became a hit and he said this…( SOUNDGARDEN: PAINTING BEAUTIFUL PICTURES by Jennifer Clay)
“It’s funny because hits are usually sort of congruent, sort of an identifiable lyric idea, and that song pretty much had none. The chorus lyric is kind of beautiful and easy to remember. Other than that, I sure didn’t have an understanding of it after I wrote it. I was just sucked in by the music and I was painting a picture with the lyrics. There was no real idea to get across.”
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