Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Case For: Roy Bookbinder

Roy Bookbinder: Delia [YouTube link]
Purchase: [Roy Bookbinder: Delia]

Almost nobody knows this musician and that is a pity: reason enough for a “case for”. I was introduced to Roy Bookbinder (b. ’43) back in the days when I was a middle-of-the-night radio DJ at WQFS. Blown away by the man's skills back in the 70s, I not too long ago googled the man and came up with a YouTube link or two showing that he still picks a tune or two.
Admittedly, I tend to gravitate to American folk/country: I have boundless respect for anyone who can pick a clean, fast, stringed instrument. Think Earl Scruggs or Bella Fleck . It's the picking skills combined with vocal harmonies that turn me on. I confess that a clean/fast "saz" is at least as good.
One of the issues on my mind for this post is musicians that keep traditions alive: picking the guitar and then recording it without digital assistance; choosing songs that are 100 years old, but that still resonate. That's why I love Ry Cooder.
The song "Delia" goes back a long ways - like many of Bookbinder's songs. The song was likely written by Blind Willie McTell back around 1929, and has since been covered by many others including Bob Dylan. It's kind of a sad song about a relationship gone bad, but the listener’s take-away emotion depends on how fast you pick the strings. He sings:

Delia's dear mother, took a trip out west.
When she returned, little Delia had gone to rest.
She's all I got, is gone

The Case For: Dexys Midnight Runners

NOTE: I have been required to remove the download link to "Come On Eileen".  I'm sure you can find it if you want to.

I’m kind of cheating here. I wrote a piece called “In Defense of Dexys Midnight Runners” a few months ago at Cover Me, which, not surprisingly, focused on the high quality of the band’s covers. But it also laid out the kind of stuff that I would have written here for this theme, so please go here and read that piece before continuing. It’s O.K., I’ll wait.

Dum de dum de dum de dum de dum de dum……..

Great—thanks for coming back. So now you know the background. I know that “Come On Eileen” has become one of those songs that it is easy to make fun of. There is singer Kevin Rowland’s unusual voice, there was the silly video that admittedly made the band members look like goofy denim overall-clad slumming posers, it was terribly overplayed at the time and there have been decades to allow the hatred of the song to apparently become gospel. But let me ask you to do a thought experiment. Turn off the lights. Listen to the song—just listen and try to divorce yourself from the years of negative comments or the video (if you even remember it). And I think that you might just agree with me that it is a good song.

And if I can’t convince you to like “Come on Eileen,” and if the covers that I wrote about over on the other site don’t do it for you, tell me this song is no good:
Or this one:

I’ve given it my best shot. If you aren’t convinced now, you never will be.