I’m On Fire – Bruce Springsteen (Cover)

“I’m On Fire” is my favourite Bruce Springsteen song. It was one of 7 songs from his Born In The USA album that made it into the top 10 in the states, so was obviously written when Bruce was at the top of his game.

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FEATURE SONG – Liar

Veronica LakeI had a tendency in my early 20s to fall in… lust with ridiculously beautiful women who were most probably out of my league.

Doing so was not particularly beneficial for my mental health.

So this song is about looking back at those times.

I’ve always loved the whole film noir aesthetic, so was going for that kind of imagery lyrically.  And film noir, of course, has femme fatales that men lose their shit over, so it was kind of an obvious choice.

Oh, and just as a point of interest. Liar evolved out of song idea 1.

 

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Here Comes The Sun – George Harrison (Cover)

‘Here Comes The Sun’ was written by George Harrison and is one of his most well known contributions to the Beatles. It was written in 1969 at Eric Clapton’s house during one of the UK’s clearest April’s on record after (and yes, funnily enough, the meteorological data has been analysed) a colder than usual winter.

Anyways, spring is here. It’s sunny in Sydney, so the song seemed appropriate to cover.

The 4 Chords That Make A Hit Song

N.At the 2009 Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Axis Of Awesome illustrated hilariously how a particular four-chord chord progression is the basis for numerous hit songs from the last forty years.

The progression is I V vi IV.

In the key of E major (the key in which their examples are given), using the E major chord scale (or harmonised scale) this equates to E, B, C#m A.

Check it out:

Now, as much as I think this is a hilarious sketch, the truth, as is common with a lot of comedy, isn’t really something they have concerned themselves with.

Benny say’s “It’s dead simple to write a hit pop tune, you just use those four chords”, but the reality of writing a great song is that, whereas a good chord progression can be a benefit, the hardest thing is to write a catchy melody.

But, more to the point, there are numerous other chord progressions that have each been the basis for a plethora of hit songs.

I have been working my way through a book called ‘Chord Progressions For Songwriters’ by Richard J. Scott for the last few months and the number of examples for each chord progressions is extraordinary.

As any musician will tell you, I IV V progression (known as the Rock ‘N’ Roll progression) is probably even more common than the I V vi IV.

Here are just a few examples:

‘La Bamba’, Ritchie Valens; Twist And Shout’, The Beatles; ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’, The Beatles; ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’, The Beatles; ‘I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll, Joan Jett; ‘Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport’, Rolf Harris; California Girls’, Beach Boys… and the list goes on.

Then there’s the classic rock progressions of the late 60’s and 70’s that used ‘borrowed chords’ (chords that are taken from the parallel minor or major – ie both keys have the same root).

The I bvii IV I for example (the flattened vii chord being the vii in the parallel minor key):

‘Sympathy For the Devil’, Rolling Stones; ‘Fortunate Son’, Creedence Clearwater Revival; ‘Addicted To Love’, Robert Palmer; ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine, Guns N’ Roses; Norwegian Wood’, The Beatles; ‘Rikki Don’t Lose That Number’, Steely Dan…

In fact, you could probably go through about ten progressions (possibly more) and give as many examples as the Axis of Awesome presented, if not more of hit songs that used each progression.

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photo by: ValetheKid

Rock ‘n’ Roll Theatre – The case of Ziggy Stardust

Sukita Bowie: Speed of LifeWhen David Bowie appeared on the UK’s Top of the Pops singing ‘Starman’ as Ziggy Stardust on July 5th 1972 a strange androgynous alien visitation was beamed to 15 million viewers across the nation.

He was shocking, bizarre, beautiful and talented and within days Bowie mania swept the country.

Too many it seemed that he had appeared from nowhere, but Bowie had spent the previous ten years in a long, varied and difficult artistic gestation.

From his early teens to that career defining moment he’d tried almost anything, from R&B and Rock ‘n’ Roll bands, to mime theatre, acting, television commercials and a folk trio called Feathers.

He even had a go at a children’s novelty record, The Laughing Gnome.

Check it out:

 

In 1969 Bowie timed the release of his single ‘Space Oddity’ with the luna landings and had a hit. But with remnants of his aforementioned folk incarnation on the rest of the album, his image was confused and he seemed destined to be a one hit wonder.

It wasn’t till Bowie met pop music manager Tony Defries, who launched the careers of Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, that things changed.

Tony, you see, had money, and, perhaps more importantly, Tony had a plan.

He introduced Bowie to the New York underground theatre and music scene, which in the early 70’s was as weird and wacky as it gets. There he met Andy Warhol, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop and became fascinated with the avant-garde.

The brilliant Hunky Dory was released soon after, but the record didn’t sell.

Bowie, it seems, needed more than just good music. He needed a fully formed persona, an otherworldly character, to fully engage the imagination of his audience – to become, perhaps, some kind of identity defining cultural phenomenon that all the kids could attach themselves to.

He needed Ziggy Stardust.

So wanna-be rock stars take note: despite David Bowie’s undeniable talent, it took Ziggy Stardust, an alien who had assumed human form as a rock star, appearing on the Top of the Pops to shoot him out of stratosphere and make him the Starman we love.

So there is certainly something to be said for musical theatrics.

That said, seeing it now, it seems pretty tame (especially with the daggy kids dancing around the stage). But remember, this was 1972:

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photo by: Shemp65