Saturday, September 3, 2011

Weather Report: Waters of March

Cassandra Wilson: Waters of March


Listen to the words to Waters of March, and you may not hear why I am posting it for this week’s theme. There are a few mentions of rain, but it doesn’t appear to be the subject of the song. Actually, there doesn’t appear to be a subject, just a list of things and impressions. The music offers no particular assistance, offering the cascading gentleness that is a hallmark of Brazilian music. The key is that many of the objects named in the song are things that might be carried away in a sudden flood. Waters of March is by Antonio Carlos Jobim, and he hails from Rio de Janero. In Rio, the month of March marks the end of summer, and the month is known for sudden heavy rains. So Jobim sees this as a cleansing process which inspires a hope for spring. Jobim wrote versions of the lyrics for the song in both Portugese and English. The English version reaches for universal appeal, so it removes cultural references from the Portugese version that are specific to Brazil. Cassandra Wilson’s interpretation of the song is up to her usual high standards.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Weather Report: Hurricane

Alex Bach: Hurricane


Being from South Florida, singer-songwriter Alex Bach probably knows a thing or two about hurricanes. So when she writes a song likening a man in her life to a hurricane we know she is talking about the destructive path he is laying.

Her song "Hurricane" appears on her 2002 album "Miles to Go" . The whole album is lovely, but my favorite thing about Alex as a songwriter is that she can put her lovely lyrics with the acoustic ballads such as this song, but can also just as easily rock your face off in the next song. I think it's quite a talent to be that versatile.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Weather Report: The Cape of Storms

Hyde: The Cape of Storms

Hyde: The Cape of Storms (Last Quarter Mix)


So where do I sail?
A ship losing control,
My cries swallowed up, lost in the raging sea.

So where has love gone?
Will I ever reach it?
The Cape of Storms echoes the pain I feel inside.

You can't really call this J-rock; it's really a power ballad (and quite angsty, to boot) and it's sung in English. Still, it's a solo effort by Hyde, the vocalist of L'Arc~en~ciel, definitely a J-rock band. It's from his 2002 album Roentgen, released in both Japanese and English. Both versions, however, have this song available only in its original English.

To me, what really makes this song is its arrangement: Sometimes, nothing beats a full chorus of strings swelling under a heartfelt lyric to get across strong emotion. And whoever arranged this tune had a real knack for cutting back and then rebuilding the tension. For contrast, I've tucked in the piano-backed remix. It's nice, showcasing the raw vocals the way it does, but it's not nearly as powerful as the full arrangement. Hey, I guess that's why it's called a power ballad.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Weather Report: Stormy Weather

Doc and Merle Watson: Stormy Weather


Weather in songs is often a metaphor for emotional turbulence. Stormy Weather is the classic example of that. Comparing raindrops to tears may be a cliché now, but it wasn’t so much when this was first written. Doc and Merle Watson do a great job here of finding the emotional truth of the song with their performance. Merle Watson takes a solo on slide guitar, Doc on regular guitar, and Sam Bush on fiddle. These solos are all brief but sweet. This Stormy Weather is fine example of artist taking an old familiar song and making it their own.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Weather Report: Rain, Sleet Or Snow

Not everything Paul Revere and the Raiders recorded turned to gold. Their 1967 holiday album, A Christmas Present...And Past, never broke the Billboard Top 100 album chart or even launched a single. In fact one Columbia exec hated the album so much  he frisbee'd his preview copy across the room.

Rain, Sleet or Snow" would have been the single. A heavily distorted tongue-in-cheek rant from the point of view of an overworked holiday mailman, it sounds kind of like Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion" at half speed.

On his website, singer Mark Lindsay admits the Christmas album is a mess but it reflected the counterculture attitudes of those times:
"Most of our singles weren’t political, but the Christmas album totally was. It was a disaster, but it reflected what we were feeling at the time. It was a good time for flower power and protest.”

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Weather Report : Have You Ever Seen The Rain

Back in the late 60s / early 70s, it was Joey hearing a question...
There is some cataclysmic nature wending it's way about.

The Ramones - Have you Ever Seen The Rain
[buy it]

I hope everybody gets to be safe.
I hope everybody gets to hear less violent rains again.

Star Maker Debuts => Weather Report: Preston School of Industry - Caught in the Rain

Preston School of Industry: Caught in the Rain


I didn’t expect to be posting a transition song this week for two reasons. First, I didn’t realize that I had a weather song by a band that had never been on Star Maker Machine before. And second, sitting here in the path of Hurricane Irene, I wasn’t sure I would have electricity. At the moment, it is strangely quiet outside, which may mean that the storm will wallop us again soon. But hopefully, I can get this done and posted before then.

Scott Kannberg records these days under the name Spiral Stairs, but when he first left the band Pavement, he formed the group Preston School of Industry. The band lasted long enough to record one EP and two full length albums, and then went on hiatus in 2004. The album Monsoon included guest musicians from Wilco and The Minus Five. All of this added up to songs like Caught in the Rain. There is nothing very profound about the song. But breezy pop songs like this are harder to get right than most people realize. The first verse reminds me of the mud I experienced at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival last year. That is about the happiest memory of mud I am ever likely to have.