Friday, January 9, 2009

#13 (Colours Edition)

Fitfully Frantic Friday, Friends,

One of the cooler things in music is seeing an artist you love reference another artist you love. I was particularly delighted when this girl I know passed along a new song from new-bohemian songwriter Elvis Perkins. Something about his lyrics and his melody reminded me immediately of another song from some time ago (one of my mother's favorite songs of all time). It seems that Perkins has written a little tribute to the great sunshine superman Donovan and thrown in a delicious twist to all those folk music historians paying attention. It's amazing all the things that colors can be. Enjoy!

Donovan: "Colours" (1972):

Opening line: "Yellow is the color of my true love's hair."

Elvis Perkins in Dearland: "Shampoo" (2009):

Opening Line: "Yellow is the color of my true love's crossbow." :)

As always, let me know what you think.

Colourfully Yours,
PS. Love you, mom.

Friday, January 2, 2009

#12 (Strut Your Stuff, Womanchild Edition)

As my friend Aaron recently pointed out, Curtis Mayfield is one of those artists that our generation knows is good but fails to appreciate as much as we should. We've heard the name many times. We may know a few of his more famous songs. Few of us, however, have taken the time to dig into his records and explore just how spinetinglingly baddass he is (myself included). In order to whet your appetite for what hopefully becomes a personal investigation into all things Curtis, I am including in this week's email two consecutive songs from Curtis's Superfly soundtrack, "Pusherman" and "Freddie's Dead."

The production and arrangements on Mayfield's tracks are incredible. Few include both strings and horns with the success that he does, blending lush full string chords with hard woodwind and horn hits and rythmic accentuations. I've included the following two songs in a row because it shows the range of Mayfield's songwriting musically and lyrically.

Track one, Pusherman, romanticizes the life of a dopepeddler in the first person. The song is driven by a rich, consistent bass line and flourishes on conga drums and a clean guitar tone.

Track two, Freddie's Dead, contrasts that glorified image of the drug dealer with the stark reality of the addict:
"If you want to be junkie, well, remember Freddie's dead." Musically, the song has its foundation in it's tremendous, sweeping strings. And then at 2:15, Curtis hits you with a key change, and then well, womanchild, Freddie's dead. And then with the bass breakdown, at 2:55, well, Freddie's dead. That bass tone, if a peanut butter, would be Superchunk.

Please enjoy, and don't be afraid to strut.

Peacockerily Yours,