Saturday, July 4, 2009

Smile: Your Smile's a Drug

Patrick Park: Your Smile's a Drug


Patrick Park is a singer-songwriter who, like many, hasn't gotten a fair shake due to record label issues. His 2003 debut album "Lonliness Knows My Name" should be known by more than it is, there are many great folk-pop songs on there that college girls should be swooning over. He reminds me a bit of Rhett Miller's folkier more melancholy side.

The song's title tells us most of what we need to know. He has fallen for a girl who's smile he is addicted to. Despite knowing that pursuing a relationship with her will mean a lot of work and possible torment, he can't seem to help himself. She smiles, and he loses all sense of what's good for him.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Smile: Your Smile Stops The Hands Of Time

Roddy Frame: Your Smile Stops The Hands Of Time


Roddy Frame was signed by David Bowie when he was only 16 years old. Since then, he has produced a long string of hit albums in the UK and has had some limited success in the US. As much as I loved Aztec Camera when I was in high school, it is Roddy's solo work that has stood the test of time. The all acoustic album, Surf, is his best work. This song is one of a couple of slow moving, but beautiful, tracks from that album.

Smile: The Cheshire Cat Song

Gilbert Hetherwick: The Cheshire Cat Song

[purchase, by download only]

I wasn’t about to let this week go by without honoring the most famous smile in western literature. But I also didn’t know of any particular songs on the subject, and I certainly didn’t have any. So, I went hunting. And I found that there seems to be a rule that, in order to tackle this subject, you have to be someone I never heard of. Try it yourself, and see if you get the same result. Obviously, however, I did find something I like.

Gilbert Hetherwick was once a record store manager in a shop that sold classical music to the people of Louisiana. He began writing to people at the record companies, telling them how to improve their albums. Soon enough, Hetherwick had a job at one of these companies, and in due time, he rose to be the head of the classical division at Sony/ BMG. So what would someone like that do with his spare time? Why, he would write and record a psychedelic rock musical, based on Alice in Wonderland and the life of Lewis Carol. Oh yes, of course.

The Cheshire Cat Song comes from that musical, Dreams For Alice. And the song is on the soundtrack album, from 2002. The songs were written over a ten year period, and given to friends, before the whole thing was released as an album. I can find no information to indicate that the show was ever staged. The version of The Cheshire Cat Song on Dreams For Alice is marred by a production full of the worst cliches of psychedelic rock; here are corny electric guitar parts and heavy reverb on the vocals, for starters. But, in 2008, Hetherwick returned to these songs for a live album. Now The Cheshire Cat Song has a nice mostly acoustic arrangement, and the quality of the songwriting comes through much more clearly. This is the version I chose.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Smile : (You Caught Me) Smilin'

Sly & The Family Stone : (You Caught Me) Smilin'


Simple, melodic, fun, just like a smile ... illegal smile ? With Sly, it's likely...

PS : Can somebody explain me the meaning of this AMG review (I mean the part about the lyrics). Maybe I got it wrong, but why does the guy think the hedonistic lyrics feel so wrong ? Is it because what happened to Sly next (his addiction)? Or is it that this man thinks that being hedonistic is wrong ? Why would an artist be necessarily depressed to write great things ? And is smiling when you're hurt a forbidden thing ?
I'm just wondering...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Smile: Bathsheba Smiles

Richard Thompson: Bathsheba Smiles


In the bible, Bathsheba is the beautiful woman who causes David to turn away from God. How could anyone have such a powerful allure? According to Richard Thompson, it’s her smile. His lyric describes this power in some detail. And that’s all there is to the song. But it’s enough.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Smile: When You Smile

The Dream Syndicate´s ´84 album The Days Of Wine And Roses is one of the great debuts of all time if you ask me. Right up there with the first signs of life from the Velvets, the Stooges, the Doors, the Modern Lovers and Television, to name but a few kindred souls. Just check the bittersweet, feedback-drenched (that´s their guitar wiz Karl Precoda btw) When You Smile for proof.

"When you smile, I don't know what to do
´cause I could lose everything in a minute or two
and it seems like the end of the world when you smile..."

Smile: I Can't Stop Smiling

Velocity Girl: I Can't Stop Smiling


I can't stop smiling
And I am not sure why I'd want to anyway.
I can't say rock and roll is known for it's utter joy. It's difficult to be edgy when you can't stop smiling. All the same, Washington D.C.-based 90's rock band Velocity Girl made a fantastic pop-rock song about that feeling when you can't seem to wipe the goofy grin off your face, and did it well.

This particular song is from their aptly-named sophomore album "Simpatico!", and is one of my favorite Velocity Girl tracks. The band broke up in 1998, but singer Sarah Shannon has since released a few solo albums.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Smile: Winsome Smile

Chris Smither: Winsome Smile


Acoustic bluesman Chris Smither does the blues exceptionally well, but his wry vocal mannerisms and fast fingerstyle are also surprisingly well-suited for upbeat songs such as this one. Listen carefully, though -- while the song is celebratory on the surface, there's a mature dissonance between the tune and tempo on one hand, and the lyrics on the other. Cue the last verse:

Time will wound all heels, and it ain't pretty
With any luck at all, she'll find some dope that you can pity
Your loss is measured in illusions
And your gain is all in bittersweet intelligence
And your winsome smile will lose some of its innocence...