Light Rock Monday

4th May
2009
written by Jeff

Normally on Monday’s, I’ll post one of my favorite light rock songs from the 70’s or early 80’s. Today, I go with something a little different. Since I’m turning 40 this week, I’m spending the week talking about the last decade and for this week’s Light Rock Monday, I feature my favorite sorta-kinda light rock songs of the last ten years.

While these probably don’t fit the traditional mold of what is normally considered light rock, they are all very singable and are favorites of mine.

10. The Broken West – Abigail

This is almost more like 60’s light rock than 70’s with its quirky hook, background vocals and jangly guitars, but it’s a good pop song and that’s really all that matters.

Abigail – The Broken West

9. The Damnwells – Heartbreaklist

Sometimes, light rock can be a ballad. In this case, it is. The Damnwells slow and sparse “Heartbreaklist” is a good, sad song for a cold day.

8. Finn Brothers – Anything Can Happen

I first heard this I think on an ad for HBO or TNT or something like that. The prolific nature of the Brothers Finn and their pop music sensibilities over the years makes them good candidates for this list and “Anything Can Happen” is a fantastic, sing-songy acoustic rocker in 3/4.

7. Jonatha Brooke – Eye in the Sky

This song could probably make it on my regular Light Rock Monday by its original artist, the Alan Parsons Project. In fact, “Don’t Answer Me” was already featured. The singer-songwriter Brooke has never received much recognition even with a Lilith Fair stint and it’s a shame because she has an amazing voice. This sweet, acoustic version of “Eye in the Sky” is showcase for it.

6. k.d. lang – Extraordinary Thing

k.d. lang may be the best singer on the planet. What’s more, she’s freaking cool! This song is from her Summerfling album that was co-written and produced by Abraham Laboriel, Jr., who is, among other things, the drummer for Sir Paul McCartney. This is just a great pop song in the vein of Tears for Fears. Check the odd syncopation of the guitar in the middle break.


Extraordinary Thing – k.d. lang

5. Wilco – What Light

This may be one of the smartest songs in the last 20 years. Leave it to Jeff Tweedy.

When the whole world’s singing your song,
And all your paintings have been hung,
Just remember what was yours,
Is everyone’s from now on.

4. Duncan Sheik – Magazine

There are quite a few songs from Sheik I could pick. He fits the category quite nicely and his new album Whisper House is really amazing. But, I love this song for its interesting lyrical content and shape shifting melody.

3. Fountains of Wayne – Michael and Heather at the Baggage Claim

Fountains of Wayne have a way with melody. They can deliver some pretty rockin’ stuff or they can sing a sweet, heartfelt ballad like this one.

Michael and Heather on the shuttle bus,
Staring alongside the rest of us.
Michael says, “Heather, have you had enough?”
Heather says, “Michael, you know that it’s you I love.”

2. Guster – Satellite

Now, THIS is a song that would fit perfectly in the late 70’s. It almost feels like Fleetwood Mac, but with those signature soft, clear Guster vocals. This is one of my favorite songs in the last ten years, light rock or otherwise.

1. Ben Folds – Still Fighting It

This song reminds me of my dad and that makes me happy and sad. I rarely can get past the words, “You’re so much like me. I’m sorry.” without crying. Ben Folds is the epitome of great songwriting that doesn’t have to take itself too seriously.

The video below is from Austin City Limits, but do yourself a favor and watch the video Folds made for the song with his son. I can’t embed it, but it is tremendous.

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20th April
2009
written by Jeff

I was a child in the 70’s and early 80’s, a time marked by some of the sweetest, sensitivist and soulfullest pop songs ever. Each Monday, I give you a chance to learn about some of the music I heard as a kid right here on Light Rock Monday.

Lady - Little River BandA former girlfriend of mine has this awesome cat named Tubby. When I would hang out over at her apartment, I would, naturally, pet Tubby and pay attention to her like I do my own cats. I even wrote a song for her to the tune of today’s light rock song, “Lady” by the Little River Band.

My lyrics went:

Tubby, let me take a look at you now.
You’re there on the blanket box,
Makin’ me wanna pet you somehow.
Tubby, I think it’s only fair I should say to you,
Don’t be thinking I don’t wanna pet you, cuz, Tubby, I do.

The first time I sung this, my ex appeared from around the corner and said, “You are so weird” and laughed.

I have made up songs for many of my animals and I have friends who have done the same. I recently found out that two friends of mine have songs they sing to their dogs to the tune of “Still Fighting It” by Ben Folds. We’re all a little weird I guess.

Anyway, in honor of Tubby I present you with “Lady,” a song by Australian 70’s light rockers Little River Band. LRB is one of those bands I often refer to when discussing middle of the road pop bands of the 70’s. They had a handful of hits (none reaching number one) and a very solid career selling 25 million records worldwide, but they aren’t a band everyone knows right off.

“Lady” reached #10 on the Billboard charts in the US and has been featured in a number of movies. Like a lot of the songs I love from the 70’s, “Lady” contains some really odd if not completely nonsensical lyrics that sound like they may have been yanked from a rhyming dictionary, but probably made a lot of sense in the pale haze of the cocaine-coated late 70’s.

Look around you, look up here
Take time to make time, make time to be there
Look around, be a part
Feel for the winter, but don’t have a cold heart

Honestly, I don’t even know what the hell that means.

And I love you best
You’re not like the rest
You’re there when I need you
You’re there when I need
I’m gonna need you

Well, thankfully, he loves you best because otherwise all that work of being there when he needs you would be a huge waste.

A long time ago I had a lady to love
She made me think of things I never thought of
Now she’s gone and I’m on my own
A love song has come into my mind
A love song, it was there all the time

Again, what the hell? You just said you had someone and now you’re talking about someone you lost. Stay on point here, buddy.

So lady, let me take a look at you now
You’re there on the dance floor, making me want you somehow
Oh lady, I think it’s only fair I should say to you
Don’t be thinkin’ that I don’t want you, ’cause maybe I do

It’s really like someone just threw a bunch of lyrics together that rhymed and said, “Hey, that sounds good.” First, he has a lady, then he HAD a lady and now he’s looking at a lady. And she’s making him want her “somehow,” like he’s not sure and that trend continues when he says “maybe” he wants her. I’m glad he thinks it’s fair to tell her that maybe she’s hot enough for him to want her, but maybe not.

I smell commitment issues.

Look around, come to me
I have no answers, but know where I wanna be
I look around, play a part
I was born in the winter and cooled by a warm heart

Again, no clue. I don’t think they have a clue either. How the hell are you cooled by a warm heart?

This is proof that a really good melody can overcome even the most ridiculous of lyrics.

Video and Song Stream on LastFM
Wikipedia (Band)
Band Official Website
Lyrics

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13th April
2009
written by Jeff

I was a child in the 70’s and early 80’s, a time marked by some of the sweetest, sensitivist and soulfullest pop songs ever. Each Monday, I give you a chance to learn about some of the music I heard as a kid right here on Light Rock Monday.

Hall & Oates - She's GoneThe undisputed king of the 70’s pop star porn stache is John Oats. This has absolutely nothing to do with the song for today, but it needed to be said because, I mean, look at it!

Daryl Hall and John Oates, both from Philadelphia, began performing what they called “rock and soul” in the early 1970’s. They have had 34 songs chart on the Billboard Hot 100 including six that went to number one. They have six gold and six platinum albums and sold over 80 million records worldwide.

But, their first albums had very little success. It wasn’t until the release of “Sara Smile” in 1976 that they had their first hit and that was followed by today’s song, “She’s Gone.” The song was recorded for one of the first H&O records in the early 70’s, but re-released by the label in 1976.

“She’s Gone” is a soul ballad about heartbreak. It’s expertly performed, has a great hook and contains a rarely heard three straight key modulations right before the last chorus, which is shocking enough. But, what the hell is with the lyrics?

Sorry Charlie for the imposition
I think I’ve got it, got the strength to carry on
I need a drink and a quick decision
Now it’s up to me, ooh what will be

Um, she’s gone, dude. You just sung it! There’s no quick decision to make. The bartender (or the tuna fish guy) can’t help you with this one.

Up in the morning look in the mirror
I’m worn as her tooth brush hanging in the stand

Um, gross. Frankly, any chick who would use her toothbrush so long that you can tell immediately it is worn down is probably not really worth saving. Dental hygiene is like important.

Think I’ll spend eternity in the city
let the carbon and monoxide choke my thoughts away

I’m not a scientist or anything, but I don’t think it’s not “carbon and monoxide” so much as it’s just “carbon monoxide.” And it probably won’t choke your thoughts away. It’ll just like, you know, kill you, which puts a damper on that whole spending eternity in the city thing.

She’s Gone Oh I, Oh I’d
pay the devil to replace her

Why would you pay the devil to replace her? Wouldn’t you pay the devil to bring her back? You can probably replace her yourself without having to pay anyone, especially Satan.

Clearly, this girl leaving has messed this dude up.

Stream “She’s Gone” on BlipFM
Lyrics
Hall & Oates Official Site
Wikipedia

Hall & Oates on the Daily Show:

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6th April
2009
written by Jeff

I was a child in the 70’s and early 80’s, a time marked by some of the sweetest, sensitivist and soulfullest pop songs ever. Each Monday, I give you a chance to learn about some of the music I heard as a kid right here on Light Rock Monday.

Easy - The CommodoresThere are songs that are great for listening, dancing, steering wheel drumming and whistling, but there are few songs that are as good for singing in the shower as “Easy” by the Commodores. Ok, for me anyway.

Sure, Lionel Ritchie looked like he emptied an entire crate of Soul Glo onto his head every night and a band that penned the funk anthem and ode to bodies that go KAPOW! “Brick House,” turned soulfully wussie with the release of this ditty, but, damn is it ever good for sangin’.

In fact, it was “Easy” that led the funk outfit to get all ballad-y and eventually release their biggest hit, “Three Times a Lady.” “Easy” reached #1 on the Billboard R&B Charts and #4 on the Hot 100 Charts in 1977 and has been covered by a number of artists, but none nearly as awesome as the literal version done by Faith No More.

Unlike the typical ballad with it’s sweet love themes, “Easy” is a soulful slap-yo-momma-in-tha-kissah song about a guy who is sick of his girl’s lame ass ways, so he kicks her to the curb and turns free agent.

Know it sounds funny
But I just cant stand the pain
Girl I’m leaving you tomorrow

Listen, girl. Pain ain’t funny, you dig? This a MAN we’re talking about, the kind of man who has the balls to announce that he’s leaving you tomorrow. Not now. Not in a minute. To-freaking-morrow! That’s gumption with a capital umption!

You know I’ve done all I can
You see I begged, stole
And I borrowed

I mean, what else can a brother do? The guy is practically a criminal for your love and he’s had enough, baby. You gotta let a man be.

Why in the world
Would anybody put chains on me?
I’ve paid my dues to make it

Seriously, sugar, why would you try to put chains on a man so cool and successful as him? He’s paid his damn dues already! Give a brother a break!

Everybody wants me to be
What they want me to be
I’m not happy when I try to fake it!

It breaks my heart to see this poor guy getting steamrolled like this. Nobody wants it to be real. He has to fake it so bad, he needs an exclamation point and he’s NOT happy!

I wanna be high, so high
I wanna be free to know
The things I do are right
I wanna be free
Just me, babe!

Let a boy be high already. Give him back his joint and let the man go.

It should be noted that the above bridge is freaking great for singing so loudly you wake your neighbors and is only second in coolness to the killer fuzzy guitar solo that comes immediately after it. Ritchie leads into the solo with a nasty “EEEWWW!” and boom goes the dynamite. The solo is SO cool, in fact, you can sing it too and, oh yes, I do.

Stream “Easy” on BlipFM
Lyrics
Wikipedia (Song)
Wikipedia (Commodores)

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30th March
2009
written by Jeff

I was a child in the 70’s and early 80’s, a time marked by some of the sweetest, sensitivist and soulfullest pop songs ever. Each Monday, I give you a chance to learn about some of the music I heard as a kid right here on Light Rock Monday.

Player - Baby Come BackThere were a lot of bands in the late 70’s that weren’t just one-hit wonders. Some of them sunk so far into a popular genre, they were mistaken for other, more popular acts.

Enter Player whose #1 hit single in 1977, “Baby Come Back,” was often incorrectly attributed to the more successful white soul duo Hall and Oates. “Baby Come Back” was just the kind of soulful, white guy funk that Hall and Oates became popular for producing and Player emulated it perfectly if for only that one song.

Formed in LA, Player rose to popularity with their one hit and with a stint as the opening act for Eric Clapton. They never did much after their one hit recording only four albums total in their brief lifespan as recording artists. The various members split up and found other outlets including Ron Moss, who has been a regular cast member of the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful since 1981.

Peter Beckett performed live with another 70’s soft rock group, Little River Band, in the 80’s and would do “Baby Come Back” at live shows. J.C. Crowley managed to carve out a nice country career for himself in Nahsville landing a few top 20 hits as a solo artist.

The band is reportedly working on a reunion, perhaps on the strength of their hit song’s inclusion in the flim Transformers or in the commercials for Swiffer. Who knows?

One thing is for sure, as good as “Baby Come Back” might be, Player is no Hall and Oates.

Stream “Baby Come Back” on BlipFM.
Lyrics
Wikipedia (band)
Wikipedia (song)

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