EML’s Favorite Songs – “Don’t Wanna Fall In Love” by Jane Child

I was reminded about the great song “Don’t Wanna Fall In Love” by Canadian singer-songwriter Jane Child the other day when my friend Dale tagged me in a tweet about it. The song was released in January 1990 as the second single from Child’s self-titled debut album Jane Child, and was a huge hit, spending three weeks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 that April (it was kept from the top spot by Tommy Page’s “I’ll Be Your Everything” and Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”). I’ve always loved the song, which is one of my top 10 favorite tracks of 1990.

Child’s rather quirky fashion style back then, which included a hairstyle that was spiked on top with ankle-length braids, along with a rather imposing nose chain piercing, was inspired by her love for African and East Indian cultures, as well as the punk movement. Child wrote “Don’t Wanna Fall In Love” shortly after having relocated from New York City to Los Angeles. The song, along with all the tracks on Jane Child, was solely written and produced by Child, who also sang all the vocals and played all the instruments, except for the guitar parts. Well, she does a superb job, crafting an exuberant synth-driven soundscape built around an irresistible head-bopping groove. Her powerful, emphatic vocals are fantastic, adding more fuel to the song’s exhilarating combustible vibe.

Child has stated that this was not intended to be a happy love song, but more a reflection on the Freudian concept of the pleasure vs. pain principle, generally defined as the instinctive seeking of pleasure and avoiding of pain to satisfy biological and psychological needs. (Wikepedia) In the lyrics, she sings to a man who drives her wild with sexual and romantic desires, while insisting that she’s going to resist his powerful charms to protect her own well-being.

Ain't no personal thing, boy
But you have got to stay away
Far, far away from my heart, my heart
Don't you know what your kiss is doing
Let me tell it to you from the start, boy

I don't wanna fall in love, no, no
Love cuts just like a knife
You make the knife feel good, baby
I'll fight you to the end, baby

You've been hanging around boy
And you have started sinking in
Ooh baby, you're way out of line now
Unaware how this all got started
Let me tell it to you one more time, boy

I don't wanna fall in love no, no
Love cuts just like a knife
You make the knife feel good, baby
I'll fight you to the end

I don't wanna fall in love no, no
Love cuts just like a knife
You make the knife feel good, baby
I'll fight you to the end

I learned something about myself
Last night with you I knew
I didn't want nobody else
And your scaring me to death now, baby

I don't wanna fall in love no, no
Love cuts just like a knife
You make the knife feel good, baby
I'll fight you to the end

Fresh New Tracks, Vol. 18 – Black Bear Kiss, The Metal Byrds, Tough on Fridays

Given my hiatus from writing reviews (notwithstanding my recent 30-day song challenge), it’s been over three months since I’ve written a Fresh New Tracks post. Now that I’m feeling more rested, I’ve decided to dip my toes back into the turgid waters of review-writing, steadfast with determination going foward to not allow myself to become overwhelmed or burned out. With that in mind, today I’m featuring new songs by three great bands I’ve previously written about on this blog – British rockers Black Bear Kiss, and two female-fronted rock bands from Texas, The Metal Byrds and Tough on Fridays.

BLACK BEAR KISS – “Chasing All I Know”

Black Bear Kiss have been a favorite of this blog for over four years, since June 2018 when I reviewed their terrific debut single “Hooks”. Over the succeeding four years, they’ve released a number of fine singles, most of which I’ve also reviewed. With their exhilarating, guitar-driven rock sound, strong charisma and rowdy live performances, they’ve built a loyal following in their home base of the West Midlands/Shropshire region of England and beyond. In June of last year, the band was shaken by the tragic and sudden passing of one of their guitarists Rob Jones from a previously undisclosed heart ailment. Now soldiering on as a four-piece, Black Bear Kiss consists of Chris Leech on lead vocals, Colin Haden on guitar, Rich Sach on bass, and Chris Bagnall on drums.

To honor Rob, as well as to help raise funds for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY), a charity aimed at raising funds for cardiac screening, research and the support of families affected, the band released a single “The First Time” this past February. Now they return with their latest single “Chasing All I Know“, which was one of Rob’s favourite songs. The track was recorded at the iconic Foal Studio in Wales, with Rob’s cousin Mike playing rhythm guitar using Rob’s own Gibson Les Paul. About the song, band vocalist Chris Leech explains: “We all have different pressures in our lives. This track is about feeling like you’re at the centre of everything and trying to get back to a place or feeling that you know – it’s also got some grunt which is what we are all about!” Black Bear Kiss delivers their signature driving rhythms we’ve come to love and expect, overlain with roiling riffs of grungy guitars and thumping drumbeats. Leech’s expressive vocals sound better than ever as he fervently sings “There’s all these people standing by my side. I just want you to tell me it’s alright. I’m at the center of it, I’m chasing, I’m chasing all I know now, whoa.”

Follow Black Bear Kiss:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

THE METAL BYRDS – “Vicious Circle”

The song is an exhilarating banger, driven by a hard-charging rhythm, courtesy of Mac’s brilliant chugging bassline and Charlie’s pummeling drums. Sly lays down an aggressive onslaught of gnarly riffs, highlighted by a blazing guitar solo in the bridge. And Suzanne’s powerful, resonant vocals are in fine form as she fervently wails the lyrics describing the torture of insomnia, keeping her awake with worries and anxiety that she’ll never be able to sleep: “Here we go again, a vicious circle. Can’t get it started. Round and around again.” It’s a fantastic song, and I think it’s one of their best yet. The wonderful video shows Suzanne suffering the agonies of insomnia, interspersed with rather humorous scenes of her bandmates performing the song while on her bed, adding to her sleepless misery.

The Metal Byrds are a female-fronted rock band based in Austin, Texas, who play a hard-hitting style of rock, infused with healthy doses of rock’n’roll and power pop, along with enough metal in the mix to give their songs a dark, edgy quality. Formed in 2018, the band has undergone a few personnel changes, and now consists of founding members London-born singer-songwriter Suzanne Birdie and guitarist Sly Rye, along with bassist Mac Jacob and drummer Charlie Breeze. Over the past three-plus years, they’ve released three EPs – The Song Byrd in April 2019, Byrds on a Wyre in June 2020, and Life in 20 in October 2020 (which I reviewed) – and an album simply titled 4, in September 2021. On July 15th, they released “Vicious Circle“, the lead single from their forthcoming album BIRDIE LANE, due for release later this year. 

Follow The Metal Byrds: Facebook / Twitter

TOUGH ON FRIDAYS – “Growing Pains”

Hailing from Georgetown, Texas, not far from Austin, grunge pop-rock trio Tough on Fridays have been on an upward trajectory since forming in 2017. Now consisting of Caleigh Oceguera on vocals & guitar, Carly Fairchild on bass & vocals, and Chris Schreck on drums, they’ve garnered an enormous base of loyal fans through their memorable music, relatable lyrics and high-energy live shows. Blending elements of indie, alt-rock, pop and grunge, they create their own unique style of edgy rock ‘n roll. Since 2017, they’ve released numerous singles and EPs, which culminated in the release of their outstanding debut album A Fantastic Way to Kill Some Time, in September 2020 (my review has been viewed more than 1,100 times, making it the fourth most-viewed album review I’ve written.)

In the two years since, they’ve released several singles, the latest of which is “Growing Pains“, which dropped August 15th. The song has a pleasing folk-rock vibe, highlighted by Caleigh’s lovely strummed guitar work, while Carly and Chris keep the lively rhythm on their bass and drums. The subtle piano keys are a nice touch, adding to the song’s melodic sound. Caleigh’s slightly echoed vocals have a vulnerable quality, providing a rather melancholy undercurrent to the track as she plaintively sings the lyrics directed to a former loved one that she’s moving on from the relationship: “Growing pains. Sick of hearing how I’ve changed. Cause I’ve outgrown you, I don’t need you. Cause I’m pulling all your weight. Done cleaning up the mess you’ve made. You always made./ Am I bitter? Just feeling better.” It’s a wonderful, beautifully-crafted and masterfully-arranged track that nicely showcases Tough on Fridays’ continued growth and musical maturity.

Follow Tough on Fridays:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 30 – “Brighter Days” by Jamie Alimorad

Photo by Mikhail Goldenberg

Well, I’ve reached the end of my 30-day Song Challenge, and the subject for Day 30 is “A song that gives you hope“. There have been many wonderful songs of hope and inspiration released over the years, but I’ve chosen a more recent song, “Brighter Days” by Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Jamie Alimorad. Jamie is a talented, hard-working and charismatic guy who I’ve been following for about three years, and I’ve written about him twice, most recently this past January when I reviewed his marvelous single “Give a Little Lovin'”. “Brighter Days” is taken from his excellent 2019 album This Is Tomorrow Calling, which I also reviewed.

The song has a breezy, upbeat groove and an infectious dance beat, with a bit of a country-rock vibe thanks to twangy guitars and some great vocal harmonies. Jamie has a terrific singing voice, and does a fine job conveying his earnest message of not letting our problems and worries overwhelm or defeat us, and trying to remain positive in the belief that things will get better. A phrase in one of the lyrics is used for the album’s title, and really encapsulates its overall theme of love and resilience. “When living’s hard and you think you’re better off dead, this is tomorrow calling, there are brighter days ahead.”

The walls are closing in
It's getting hard to breathe
Thinking of cashing in my chips
Don't have an ace up my sleeve
But I hear a little voice inside me say
Before I go and throw it all away

When it rains it pours
Such as the weatherman said
This is tomorrow calling
There are brighter days ahead
When living's hard
And you think you're better off dead
This is tomorrow calling
There are brighter days ahead

I look at my reflection
All I see are broken dreams
But I hear a voice say look a little deeper
It ain't what it seems

There's a light behind a house full of scars
Crack the shell and find out who you really are
When it rains it pours
Such as the weatherman said
This is tomorrow calling
There are brighter days ahead
When living's hard
And you think you're better off dead
This is tomorrow calling
There are brighter days ahead

In the darkness there's a heaviness that ways me down
I moan like a rescue dog in the lost and found
No one in this stormy world to turn to
Except for that little voice like a patch of blue

When it rains it pours
Such as the weatherman said
This is tomorrow calling
There are brighter days ahead
When living's hard
And you think you're better off dead
This is tomorrow calling
There are brighter days ahead

The video for “Brighter Days” was filmed as a live performance and mini-documentary at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of The Darkness Walk in Santa Monica on October 19, 2019. More than 2,200 people and 200 teams participated in the walk.

To learn more about Jamie, visit his Website
Connect with him on:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream his music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase:  Bandcamp / Amazon 

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 29 – “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt

The subject for Day 29 of my 30-day Song Challenge is “A song that breaks your heart“, and there are few songs I can think of that are more heartbreaking than “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by the legendary Bonnie Raitt. Aside from the death of a loved one or a beloved pet, unrequited love is probably one of life’s most painful experiences. Many of us – me included – have been in romantic situations where someone we loved did not feel the same toward us, and vice versa. And sometimes, our guilt from the pain we’ve caused by not loving someone who loves us can feel almost as bad as not having our love returned by another.

“I Can’t Make You Love Me” was co-written by Nashville country music songwriters Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin, who took many months and numerous rewrites until they were happy with the song. In an interview with Peter Cooper for the Nashville Tennessean, Shamblin remarked: “We wrote, most every week, in Mike’s basement, and we’d worked on this song for more than six months. One day, he said, ‘Come up to the living room,’ where his piano was. He sat down and started playing this melody, and it was one of the most moving pieces of music I’d heard. I mean, it hit me in a hard way … Instantly, I knew it was the best thing I’d ever been a part of.”

They originally wrote the song as a fast, bluegrass number, but upon slowing the tempo down considerably, they realized the song became even more powerful and compelling. They had three artists in mind for the song – Bonnie Raitt, Bette Midler and Linda Ronstadt – with Raitt eventually winning out. She recorded the song for her eleventh studio album Luck of the Draw (1991), with both song and album co-produced by Raitt and record producer Don Was. She recorded the vocal in just one take, later saying that the song was so sad that she could not recapture the emotion: “We’d try to do it again and I just said, ‘You know, this ain’t going to happen.‘” (Wikipedia)

Over a sparse soundscape of gentle instrumentals, highlighted by a beautiful piano accompaniment by Bruce Hornsby, Raitt sings of the heartache of unrequited love with a sad, understated resignation, while maintaining her own self respect.

Turn down the lights
Turn down the bed
Turn down these voices inside my head
Lay down with me
Tell me no lies
Just hold me close, don't patronize
Don't patronize me

'Cause I can't make you love me if you don't
You can't make your heart feel something it won't
Here in the dark, in these final hours
I will lay down my heart and I'll feel the power
But you won't, no you won't
'Cause I can't make you love me, if you don't

I'll close my eyes, then I won't see
The love you don't feel when you're holding me
Morning will come and I'll do what's right
Just give me till then to give up this fight
And I will give up this fight

'Cause I can't make you love me if you don't
You can't make your heart feel something it won't
Here in the dark, in these final hours
I will lay down my heart and I'll feel the power
But you won't, no you won't
'Cause I can't make you love me, if you don't

The song was a fairly big hit for Raitt, reaching #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #6 on the Adult Contemporary chart. It also reached #4 on Canada’s Adult Contemporary chart.

And here’s her stunning performance of the song, with Bruce Hornsby on piano, at the 1992 Grammy Awards

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 28 – “The Less I Know the Better” by Tame Impala

Interest in my 30-day song challenge seems to be waning, as the number of views and likes have generally declined over time, but I’ll press on to the end. The subject for Day 28 of my 30-day Song Challenge is “A song that makes you want to fall in love“. There’ve been hundreds, if not thousands, of love songs released over the years, for love has long been the primary subject of many a song. Some of the great – or at least most popular – love songs include “At Last” by Etta James, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley, “She Loves You” by the Beatles, “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” with versions by Marvin Gaye, Jr. Walker & the All Stars, and James Taylor, “Crazy For You” by Madonna, “Lovesong” by The Cure, “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton and later Whitney Houston, “I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis, “Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden and “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, to name but a few.

But the song that really makes me want to fall in love is “The Less I Know the Better” by Tame Impala. As I wrote in my article ranking the song at #25 on my Top 100 Songs of the 2010s, “the achingly beautiful song about young lust and love makes me wish I was 18 again, and is so fucking gorgeous it stirs the hopeless romantic in me, bringing a tear to my eye and a lump in my throat every time I hear it.” Despite the wrenching emotional roller-coaster ride of anxiety, longing and potential heartache, there’s nothing else in life that compares to the thrill of falling in love with someone new and exciting. I love this song so much I can listen to it on an endless replay loop.

The lyrics express a guy’s intense longing for a girl he can’t have, which Tame Impala front man Kevin Parker so beautifully expresses with his enthralling vocals:

Someone said they left together
I ran out the door to get her
She was holding hands with Trevor
Not the greatest feeling ever
Said, “Pull yourself together
You should try your luck with Heather”
Then I heard they slept together
Oh, the less I know the better
The less I know the better

Oh my love, can’t you see yourself by my side
No surprise when you’re on his shoulder like every night
Oh my love, can’t you see that you’re on my mind
Don’t suppose you could convince your lover to change his mind
So goodbye

She said, “It’s not now or never
Wait 10 years, we’ll be together”
I said, “Better late than never
Just don’t make me wait forever”
Don’t make me wait forever
Don’t make me wait forever

Oh my love, can’t you see yourself by my side?
I don’t suppose you could convince your lover to change his mind

I was doing fine without ya
‘Til I saw your face, now I can’t erase
Giving in to all his bullshit
Is this what you want, is this who you are?
I was doing fine without ya
‘Til I saw your eyes turn away from mine
Oh, sweet darling, where he wants you
Said, “Come on Superman, say your stupid line”
Said, “Come on Superman, say your stupid line”
Said, “Come on Superman, say your stupid line”

The entertaining official video brings the song to life with an imaginative and humorous blend of romance, surrealism and colorful animation. It shows a high school basketball player lusting after a cheerleader, who soon begins a relationship with the team’s gorilla mascot named “Trevor”, who’s referenced in the lyrics. The video was filmed in Barcelona at the visual arts collective CANADA, and the two primary characters are played by Spanish actors Laia Manzanares as the cheerleader and Albert Baro as the basketball player.

Rather ridiculously, the video has been age-restricted by YouTube due to a couple of provocative scenes, so click on the “Watch on YouTube” link to watch it.

Or, just listen to the song in this audio only video:

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 27 – “The Drop” by David Oakes

The subject for Day 27 of my 30-day Song Challenge is “A song by an instrumental artist“, and once again, the possible choices are immense. Musicians and composers have been creating instrumental music since the dawn of time I suppose, with classical music, followed by jazz, being the two most widespread forms of instrumental music composed up until the beginning of the so-called ‘rock era’ in the mid 1950s. After that, instrumental music created by more mainstream artists became popular, and from the mid 1950s through early 1980s, scores of singles like “Tequila”, “Sleep Walk”, “The Theme from ‘A Summer Place'”, “Green Onions”, “Stranger on the Shore”, “Love is Blue”, “Classical Gas”, “Grazin’ in the Grass”, “Frankenstein”, “Love’s Theme”, “T.S.O.P.” and “Chariots of Fire” became huge hits. Why instrumental songs failed to become hits after that has been a subject of debate, which I won’t delve further into here, other than to say that I think it’s unfortunate.

That said, there are still lots of musicians and artists out there who are creating some great instrumental music, and I’ve featured many of them on this blog over the years. One of my favorites, and also the very first I wrote about as a new blogger way back in March 2016, is David Oakes. Born in England and now living in Wales, he’s an imaginative and prolific musician and composer of electronic alternative rock music, ranging from gentle synth-driven compositions to aggressive guitar-driven hard rock, and everything in between. I really like his music, and have written about quite a lot of it (you can read some of those reviews by clicking on the links under “Related” at the end of this post).

David’s been actively involved in making music since his late teens, when he started playing in various bands. From 2001-06, he and his younger brother were members of the rock band KOTOW, for which he played drums. He went on to study guitar and music theory at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildord, England from 2009-12, after which he started composing and recording music as a solo artist. Since 2012, he’s released an astonishing 10 albums! One of his non-album singles is “The Drop“, which I’ve chosen for my latest song challenge.

It’s an intense song, with a strong chugging bass line overlain with gritty staccato guitar and relentless pummeling drumbeats, highlighted by some tasty melodic riffs of metal guitar riffs. As with all his music, David played all the instruments, and recorded, produced and mixed the track.

The equally intense, horror-film like video, produced by Dark Fable Media, shows David playing the song on his guitar in the woods, where he encounters a man in a frightful-looking mask. The masked man attacks him, whereupon they struggle until David stabs him and runs off. The story seems to be a kind of nightmare, as all three men shown in the video are the same guy, stuck in a disturbing time loop. The entire video is filmed in black and white, with the only color shown being the red blood on the knife and the stabbed man’s hands.

Here’s David’s latest release Ten Years A Dave, featuring what he feels are his ten best tracks over the past ten years, including “The Drop”.

Stream/purchase David’s music on SpotifyApple MusicBandcamp

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 26 – “2am” by Foals

The subject for Day 26 of my 30-day Song Challenge is “A song by an artist whose voice you love“. This was another difficult category, as I love the singing voices of literally hundreds of artists, a few of whom I’ve already featured on this song challenge: Judy Garland, Chris Cornell, Karen Carpenter, Ray Charles and MISSIO’s Matthew Brue. To make my selection easier, I decided to narrow the field a bit by choosing an artist who’s still actively putting out new music, and my pick is Yannis Philippakis, the lead singer and guitarist of British alt-rock band Foals, and their recent single “2am“.

Formed in Oxford, England in 2005, Foals current line-up consists of Greek-born Philippakis, drummer and percussionist Jack Bevan, and rhythm guitarist Jimmy Smith. They’ve ranked among my favorite bands for the past seven years, and I love their exciting, incredibly melodic music, bolstered by Philippakis’ vibrant and distinctive vocal style that makes their songs instantly recognizable as only theirs. They’ve released seven studio albums to date: Antidotes (2008), Total Life Forever (2010), Holy Fire (2013), What Went Down (2015), and Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1 & 2 (2019), and Life Is Yours, which dropped June 17th. “2am” was the second single released from Life Is Yours, and has spent the past 15 weeks on my Weekly Top 30.

Written mostly during the bleak Covid lockdowns, Life Is Yours is purposefully more upbeat than their previous albums, many of which featured more serious themes. In an interview with webzine NME, Philippakis remarked how writing upbeat tracks like “2am” offered much needed hope and escapism. “We were thinking about parties, club nights and being drunk on the bus at 2 a.m. trying to get home. All of it: the excitement before you go out, meeting up with your friends, the wild abandon. We really wanted to revel in the power of rhythm and music, and what that brings to your body, heart and soul.” While the lyrics are introspective and melancholic – “It’s about repetitive cycles of destructive behavior, which I think lots of people can relate to, and certainly it’s an expression of something that I struggle with,” Philippakis explained, adding: “There’s something cathartic about expressing that feeling to this upbeat music that’s got a sense of release and the hope of resolution. It’s an absolute banger of a track and feels joyous and full of light to us.” It feels joyous and full of light to me too!

Follow Foals:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 25 – “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart” by Chris Cornell

The subject for Day 25 of my 30-day Song Challenge is “A song by an artist who is no longer living“. I’ve already featured several artists no longer with us on this song challenge, including Ray Charles, Karen Carpenter, former Beatles John Lennon & George Harrison, George Gershwin, former Bee Gees Robin & Maurice Gibb, Jimi Hendrix, Kyu Sakamoto and Judy Garland. For this particular challenge, I’ve chosen the late, great Chris Cornell, and his stunning 2015 single “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart“.

I trust Cornell needs no introduction, but to briefly summarize, he was born in Seattle, and was involved in numerous music projects both as a solo artist and a member of three notable bands over his prolific 30-year career. Widely considered one of the key figures of the 1990s grunge movement, he was lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for rock bands Soundgarden and Audioslave, as well as the founder and frontman of Temple of the Dog, a one-off tribute band dedicated to his late friend Andrew Wood. As a solo artist, Cornell released four solo studio albums, Euphoria Morning (1999), Carry On (2007), Scream (2009), and Higher Truth (2015). “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart”, released in August 2015, was the lead single from Higher Truth.

An impossibly beautiful man with an arresting powerhouse voice to match, Cornell was truly one of a kind. With his raw, nearly four-octave vocal range, he belted out his song lyrics with a passionate intensity that never failed to send chills up and down our spines. As Luke O’Neil so beautifully articulated in his tribute to Cornell for Esquire, “... there was perhaps no one who had such a mastery of his instrument as Cornell. When you can sing like that, it would be criminal not to. It sounds like the casual murmurings of a stoned guy in the crowd to say it in writing, but man, Cornell could shred. A voice like his doesn’t let you tune it out. It is a force that grabs you. It gets inside of you.”

“Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart” has a bit of a Western vibe, thanks to some wonderful twangy notes coming from either a ukelele or mandolin – or both, but there’s so much more going on musically. Throughout the song, our ears are treated to gorgeous plucked strings, vibrant piano and strident percussion, all creating a marvelous cinematic soundscape for Cornell’s glorious vocals. Then there are those grungy distorted riffs that enter halfway into the track, lending a dramatic and edgy aura of tension to the proceedings. It’s a magnificent song.

The lyrics speak of a troubled on-and-off relationship with a woman who rescued him from a broken heart, but ever since then has only caused him even more grief. In an interview with Yahoo! in 2015, Cornell elaborated on his inspiration behind “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart”: “I was on tour with Soundgarden, and I remember writing down the title. The title immediately brought up the idea of the song, which is that someone is so distracted by a new person or a new thing in their life that they kind of forgot that they had given up on life. Sometimes it just happens without us even noticing.

Every time I stare into the sun
Trying to find a reason to go on
All I ever get is burned and blind
Until the sky bleeds the pouring rain

When you came along the time was right
Pulled me like an apple red and ripe
Wasn't very long you took a bite
And did me wrong, and it serves me right

And I nearly forgot my broken heart
It's taking me miles away
From the memory of how we broke apart
Here we go round again, again

Every little key unlocks the door
Every little secret has a lie
Tryna take a picture of the sun
And it won't help you to see the light
Every little word upon your lips
Makes a little cut where blood pours out
Every little drop of blood a kiss that I won't miss
Not for anything

And I nearly forgot my broken heart
It's taking me miles away
From the memory of how we broke apart
Here we go round again

Every single feeling tells me this is leading to a heart
In broken little pieces and you know I need this
Like a hole in the head
Every single feeling tells me this is leading to a heart
In broken little pieces and you know I need this
Like a hole in the head

And I nearly forgot my broken heart
It's taking me miles away
From the memory of how we broke apart
Here we go round again
And I nearly forgot my broken heart
It's taking me miles away
From the memory of how we broke apart
Here we go round again

The song reached #5 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, #7 on the Rock Airplay chart, and #1 on the Canadian Rock chart. I ranked it #30 on my Top 100 Songs of 2015 list.

The dark music video produced for the song was directed by Jessie Hill, and featured Cornell and actor Eric Roberts as prisoners about to be hanged in an old Western town. (Cornell’s 10-year-old son Christopher also appeared in the video.) Cornell insisted on doing his own stunts and had an accident on set. The filming of the mock hanging ended up requiring several takes, and a liquid chemical used to singe the noose tied around Cornell’s neck rubbed off, causing second degree burns on his shoulder. Three weeks after his tragic suicide by hanging on May 18, 2017, the music video was pulled from YouTube. (Wikipedia) Consequently, I’ve embedded the lyric video.

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 24 – “Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland

The subject for Day 24 of my 30-day Song Challenge is “A song from a movie you love“, and there was only choice for me – “Over the Rainbow“, sung by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. The 1939 classic has been my favorite film for my entire life, and I’ve seen it more than 50 times. Each time I watch it, it moves and excites me every bit as much as it did when I was a child, and I never grow tired of seeing it. There are so many great scenes and songs in the film, and one of the best of them all is when Garland, as young teenager Dorothy Gale, wistfully sings “Over the Rainbow” after being told by her Auntie Em to find “a place where you won’t get into any trouble“.

“Over the Rainbow” was written by composer Harold Arlen, with lyrics by Edgar “Yip” Harburg, who together wrote all the wonderful music and song lyrics for The Wizard of Oz. “Over the Rainbow” was the final song written for the film, as Arlen and Harburg had struggled to come up with an appropriate song for the Kansas farm scene that takes place early in the film. Harburg claimed his inspiration was “a ballad for a little girl who was in trouble and… wanted to get away from Kansas – a dry, arid, colorless place. She had never seen anything colorful in her life except the rainbow“. Arlen decided the idea needed “a melody with a long broad line“. (Walter Frisch (2017) Arlen and Harburg’s Over the Rainbow)

Shockingly, the song was initially deleted from the film at the direction of MGM chief Louis B. Mayer because he thought it slowed down the picture, was too far over the heads of its targeted child audience, and “sounded like something for Jeanette MacDonald, not for a little girl singing in a barnyard“. Mayer was clearly wrong on all counts, as Garland’s heartfelt, vulnerable vocals beautifully conveyed a young girl’s hopes and dreams of a better place, far away from her dull, troubled life. Though still only 16 when she recorded “Over the Rainbow”, Garland had a powerful, incredibly emotive vocal style beyond her tender years.

Director Victor Fleming, producer Mervyn LeRoy, associate producer Arthur Freed, and Garland’s vocal coach and mentor Roger Edens all joined together to fight to have the song reinserted into the film. Freed told Mayer “The song stays—or I go,” to which Mayer replied: “Let the boys have the damn song. Put it back in the picture. It can’t hurt.” (Gary Shapiro (2017) Columbia News)

For a song that almost didn’t happen, “Over the Rainbow” has become one of the most beloved songs of all time, leaving an indelible legacy for both The Wizard of Oz and Judy Garland. It was awarded an Oscar for Best Original Song, and in 2001, was voted the greatest song of the 20th century in a joint survey by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Recording Industry Association of America. Numerous singers have recorded their own versions of the song, with one of the most popular being that of Hawaiian artist Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, who included “Over the Rainbow” in a beautifully moving ukulele medley with Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”.

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 23 – “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry

The subject for Day 23 of my 30-day Song Challenge is “A song that tells a story“. I feel confident in stating that just about everyone loves songs that tell a story, as they’re often very compelling, reeling us in as their lyrics unfold, and keeping our attention all the way to the end. Some of the great “story” songs that come to mind are “El Paso” by Marty Robbins (which I wrote about in 2019, and is my 8th most-viewed post ever), “Harper Valley P.T.A.” by Jeannie C. Riley, “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash, “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin, “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, “Taxi” by Harry Chapin, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot, and “Stan” by Eminem. But the one I’ve chosen is one of the very best – “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry. I remember loving it as a 13-year old back in 1967.

My 45 single of “Ode to Billie Joe”

Bobbie Gentry wrote “Ode to Billie Joe” with the intention of having Lou Rawls record it. But after Capitol Records producer Kelly Gordon received her demo for her song “Mississippi Delta”, he liked it and asked her for a B-side that could be released on a single. She then recorded a demo of the song, with just her vocals accompanied by an acoustic guitar, in February 1967. Gordon liked her vocals on the demo, but decided to add an instrumental arrangement to the recording. He enlisted Jimmie Haskell (a composer and arranger for both motion pictures and an array of popular artists, including Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Steely Dan, Billy Joel, and the Everly Brothers) to prepare a string arrangement with four violins and two cellos. Haskell felt the song sounded like it could be from a film and decided to write the arrangement with a more cinematic feel, as if it were a score. Gordon then overdubbed Gentry’s recording with the haunting string arrangement, and decided that “Ode to Billie Joe” would be the A-side of the single, with “Mississippi Delta” as the B-side.

The song was written in the form of a first-person narrative, told by the young daughter of a rural Mississippi Delta family, and sung by Gentry. It features perfect rhymes from the first to the sixth line of every verse and, unlike most songs, contains no chorus. The lyrics tell the story of the family’s reaction to the news of the suicide of Billie Joe McAllister, a local boy to whom the daughter (and narrator) is connected. The song quickly became popular upon its release in July 1967, because it created curiosity in listeners, leaving them wondering what the narrator and Billie Joe threw off the Tallahatchie Bridge, and what caused Billie Joe to commit suicide. In numerous interviews, Gentry clarified that she intended the song to portray the family’s indifference to the suicide in what she deemed “a study in unconscious cruelty”, while she remarked the object thrown was not relevant to the message.

In an August 1967 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Gentry compared the song to a play, and said she wanted to show “people’s lack of ability to empathize with others’ tragedy“. She pointed at the mother, noticing but not understanding her daughter’s lack of appetite, while later in the song, the daughter seems unable to fully grasp the similarity of her mother’s behavior after the father dies. Gentry explained that both characters had “isolated themselves in their own personal tragedies“, and remained unconcerned for the others. Regarding the object thrown off the Tallahatchie Bridge, she commented that people had found more meanings than she had intended, such as “a baby, a wedding ring, or flowers“, among other things. While she indicated that what happened at the bridge was the motivation behind Billie Joe’s suicide, she’d intended to leave that open to the listener’s interpretation, adding that her sole motivation was to show “people’s apathy“. (Wikipedia)

“Ode to Billie Joe” was a big hit, spending four weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and also reaching #1 in Canada. Surprisingly, it peaked at only #17 on the Country chart. The song was also nominated for eight Grammy Awards, with Gentry and arranger Jimmie Haskell winning three between them, and later adapted for the 1976 film Ode to Billy Joe.

It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day
I was out choppin’ cotton, and my brother was balin’ hay
And at dinner time we stopped and walked back to the house to eat
And mama hollered out the back door, y’all, remember to wipe your feet
And then she said, I got some news this mornin’ from Choctaw Ridge
Today, Billie Joe MacAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge

And papa said to mama, as he passed around the blackeyed peas
Well, Billie Joe never had a lick of sense; pass the biscuits, please
There’s five more acres in the lower forty I’ve got to plow
And mama said it was shame about Billie Joe, anyhow
Seems like nothin’ ever comes to no good up on Choctaw Ridge
And now Billie Joe MacAllister’s jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge

And brother said he recollected when he, and Tom, and Billie Joe
Put a frog down my back at the Carroll County picture show
And wasn’t I talkin’ to him after church last Sunday night?
I’ll have another piece-a apple pie; you know, it don’t seem right
I saw him at the sawmill yesterday on Choctaw Ridge
And now ya tell me Billie Joe’s jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge

And mama said to me, child, what’s happened to your appetite?
I’ve been cookin’ all morning, and you haven’t touched a single bite
That nice young preacher, Brother Taylor, dropped by today
Said he’d be pleased to have dinner on Sunday, oh, by the way
He said he saw a girl that looked a lot like you up on Choctaw Ridge
And she and Billie Joe was throwing somethin’ off the Tallahatchie Bridge

A year has come and gone since we heard the news ’bout Billie Joe
And brother married Becky Thompson; they bought a store in Tupelo
There was a virus going ’round; papa caught it, and he died last spring
And now mama doesn’t seem to want to do much of anything
And me, I spend a lot of time pickin’ flowers up on Choctaw Ridge
And drop them into the muddy water off the Tallahatchie Bridge