Category Archives: Elvis Costello

Today’s Top 5: As Brought to You by Karrie

In the first of what I hope to be an ongoing, occasional feature, I’m turning today’s Top 5 over to someone else – in this case, the Irish singer-songwriter Karrie, whose 2016 album Perpetual Motion I reviewed a few weeks back. She released the single, “I Don’t Hear You,” a few weeks back, too.

As detailed elsewhere, she got a late start in the music business, swapping horse training for singing after the economy tanked in 2009 -, though you wouldn’t know it from her music. (More on that here.) Job change aside, she still maintains her farm – and took time out of making hay (literally) to field my questions.

Did you sing around the home prior to transitioning to music? You have such a wonderful voice, I can’t imagine that you didn’t share it with, at the least, family and friends – and horses, for that matter. 

I come from a family of nine children. (I’m last in the line, the youngest.) Everyone can sing. When it’s not an unusual thing, it’s a given. We always sing at family get togethers. Having a big family puts you in line. My older sisters and brothers pretty much chose what music the younger ones heard. Joni Mitchell’s song “Carey” is on her 1971 album Blue; I was nicknamed after it.

I won’t ask your age, but it sounds like you were in your mid-30s when you shifted to music.

I was born in ’75 . That in mind, my influences were well embedded in my head by the time I wrote my very first song at 34, “Stay Away.” (It’s on my first album, Jelly Legged).

That first open-mic night – about how many people were in the audience? What song did you sing?

I don’t really like to recall my first gig . I think it was an ill chosen venue in Cork city. An open-mic night for rock music . Think I bombed!

About “I Don’t Hear You” – it’s such a wondrous piece. What inspired it? 

“I Don’t Hear You” is a song I wasn’t very careful about writing. Its content must be a delayed reaction to continuous pressures. Kinda like getting numb to something.

I hear what I imagine are several influences in it. The opening bass (as short as it is) reminds me of the opening to “Wichita Lineman,” for example, and the horns conjure the Style Council (my wife hears it, too, but we’re also Paul Weller fans; or she’s just saying so to humor me). Both add to my delight with the song. Were those nods intentional? Happy accidents?

I really love hearing about what people get from my music . This is funny because “Wichita Lineman” is right up there in my most favorite songs. An interesting note on this might be that I don’t write the instrumental music for my songs bar having some ideas here and there. I mostly write a cappella, probably 99% of the time. I do make sure my song is complete when I give it over to “wardrobe.” It’s a selfish thing I guess. Jimmy Smyth produced here. I don’t tell him how to play guitar.

——————–

And, with the Q&A out of the way, here’s today’s Top 5: As Brought to You by Karrie. They are not (necessarily) her all-time favorites, just songs that she loves –

1) Joni Mitchell – “Carey.” My memory of it is I was very small  My sisters would pick me up  in their arms and dance with me singing along to Joni. Joni Mitchell influences me now in almost everything I write.

2) John Martyn & Danny Thompson – “Sweet Little Mystery” from Live In Dublin. John Martyn lived in Ireland. He was alive here and I didn’t I know how important his music would be to me. I was still training horses when I heard him first on the radio and thought this guy is out on his own. It very nearly made me turn from horses years before I did. I wish I had sought him out. I think It would have made a very big difference to my then poor decision making. It still bothers me that I ignored my own self wanting to go hear him live. Such a regret.

3) Elvis Costello – “Brilliant Mistake.” This song is like a movie. It’s perfect in every way.

4) Rickie Lee Jones – “Flying Cowboys.” This, along with its video, is also so perfect. (Unfortunately, the video isn’t on YouTube. But the song is…)

5) Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “Don’t Come Around Here No More.”

And one bonus…

6) Thom Moore & Midnight Well – “Soldier On.”

 

Today’s Top 5: January 1982 (via Record Magazine)

IMG_0795This issue, the third in the magazine’s history, marks the start of my half-decade-long subscription to Record. You’ll notice, on the cover, that the date is listed as “Jan. 1981.” That’s incorrect, as becomes evident once one unfolds it to its newspaper-size front page, where the date is listed as “Jan. 1982.” It wasn’t the only flub the magazine made during its run. One issue, and I’ll likely feature it in the coming weeks, lists Joan Jett on the cover, but includes nada thing about the former Runaway inside.

Rod Stewart’s mug, obviously, graces the cover. I wasn’t a fan of his then, and am still not a fan – though I did see him in concert once, on a very muggy summer’s night at Hershey Stadium in ’88 or ’89. In the accompanying interview, he says about his late-‘70s work: “I probably deserve all the criticism I got. I was listening to Britt Ekland, having stupid album covers done. But we’re allowed to make mistakes, and I think I’ve come through the other end of the tunnel. I just let the image run away with itself, posing all the time.”

IMG_0796The issue does have a few cool articles, however, including one by David McGee about legendary producer Bob Ezrin. Ezrin explains that “[t]here are certain philosophies behind what I do in terms of how I construct a record and where I think things belong. Part of my style might be that I don’t believe in stereo drums. You know why? Because if you sit back listening to a record you will automatically think of a live performance in front of your face somewhere. And when you hear a guitar player who’s far left, and a guitar player who’s far right, and a bass player who’s in the center and a singer who’s in the middle and you have a drummer who’s in the center too but he’s got one tom-tom 20 feet out to the side and the other 20 feet out in the other direction, the only way for that guy to play that kit is to run real fast from one side of the stage to the other, right? I think that’s psycho-acoustically disturbing.”

There’s also a piece about the new wave in music videos: concept videos. Other articles focus on Foreigner, Molly Hatchet and the Rolling Stones, who’d just wrapped a major tour.

And, with that, here’s today’s Top 5:

IMG_07991) David Bowie – “Cat People (Putting Out Fire).” There’s this, on page 6: “Director Paul Shrader and composer-producer Giorgio Moroder…have enlisted David Bowie to write lyrics and sing the title song for Shrader’s remake of the 1942 horror classic, Cat People.” Skip down a few paragraphs and… “Although he hasn’t heard Bowie’s lyrics yet, Shrader says the artist described the song to him as ‘very Doors-like, Jim Morrison and all that,’  which jibes well with Moroder’s plan to use ‘strange noises and a kind of low note which keeps the tension throughout the film.”

IMG_08022) Garland Jeffreys – “R.O.C.K.” The song comes from Garland’s 1981 Escape Artist album, as well as his live Rock ’n Roll Adult LP from the same year. He’s the focus of a short report that reads: “Garland Jeffreys continues to confound the savants. At a time when touring has soured for most bands, he’s drawing crowds in areas where he’s never had a track record of serious album sales. Now he’s planning to test the international arena with a world tour in 1982. ‘Comes this time next year,’ he asserts, ‘you’ll know where I’ll be—on the road. And I’m enjoying it because I’m getting what I want—I put out a record and I tour around it.’” He also had an MTV special lined up; was planning a new album; and was “in the process of fulfilling his ’35-millimeter dreams’ by writing music for a new film titled The Breaks, which tentatively costars Jeffreys and Harvey Keitel.”

IMG_08073) Garland Jeffreys – “96 Tears.” Garland is also mentioned in one of the articles about the Rolling Stones’ tour, as he opened for Mick & the Boys in Hartford. “Although Garland Jeffreys had been set to open the Brendan Byrne Arena shows, a scheduling foul-up within the Stones organization resulted in his dates being shifted to Hartford. Nevertheless, when all was said and done, Jeffreys found it an exhilarating experience. ‘When it came down to the show in Hartford, the Stones and their crew treated us wonderfully. Mick, Charlie, and Bill came backstage to greet us…I was very moved.’”

So, though I rarely indulge in twin spins, the double mention deserves a double-shot. As with the first clip, here’s Garland on the ABC late-night sketch-comedy show Fridays.

IMG_08064) Neil Young – “Shots.” re*ac*tor receives a negative review from Wayne King, who writes: “What saves the record is the last song, ‘Shots,’ the kind of song Young always comes up with when he needs it. Car horns and exploding amplifiers become the shots, ‘ringing all along the border’ of the nightmare world that Young transports us to with his best material. It’s probably appropriate that the song’s best line points up why so much of Reactor is a failure: ‘lust comes creeping in/through the night/to feed on hearts.’ If Young had focused less on the objects that move people, and more on the emotions that drive them, he might have made a great record.”

I think I’ve written this before on this blog, but if I haven’t: re*ac*tor was the first Neil album I purchased; and I liked it enough to name it my Album of the Year for 1981. Of course, I was 16 and heard music in a different way than, say, I do today. In retrospect, I wouldn’t choose it for top honors – that would go to my No. 2 that year, Beauty and the Beat by the Go-Go’s. But, while re*ac*tor isn’t a great album, per se, it does possess some truly stupendous moments, such as “Southern Pacific,” “Rapid Transit” and, as Mr. King mentions, “Shots.”

IMG_08105) Elvis Costello – “A Good Year for the Roses.” Another album reviewed by Wayne King is Elvis’ country outing, Almost Blue: “Elvis, known to be a bit of a wise guy on his own, doesn’t sound too convincing on a track like ‘Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down,’ and, hell, I don’t think he’s much of a drinker, either. Right there is the dilemma Almost Blue never resolves: imagine this punning, paranoid Britisher as a good ol’ Southern boy. That would require a leap of faith that the music won’t let you make.”

I’ve written before about this song, and shared this same video, but – hey, unlike Mr. King, I find the album extremely listenable and likable. Maybe not Elvis’ best, but definitely worth a spin.

And… one bonus:  the Go-Go’s – “Lust to Love.” As Record’s list shows, Belinda & Band opened for the Stones in Rockford. There’s no mention of them in the article, though. One wonders how they were received – hopefully well, as they were a punky bunch. Here they are in December ’81: