Saturday, May 30, 2009

Metals: Silver Hair

Michael McNevin (with Tom Prasada-Rao): Silver Hair


Major life challenges have kept me from posting the last few weeks... but I love this song, co-written by Michael McNevin and Tom Prasado-Rao, so much that I'm attempting to come up for air to share it with all of you - I dedicate it to my mom, who is fighting the good fight, and sports the most beautiful head of silver hair... which I am proud to have inherited...

On a lighter note, I ran across the following, applicable to our outgoing theme, on

"Dreams of gold lead the gang to boron the safe at the chemical plant but when the copper arrived they felt out of their element and now they argon."

Metals: Silver and Gold

Bono & Keith Richards: Silver & Gold


Can I get one more under the wire?

This song originally appeared on the Artists United Against Apartheid album in 1985. It came out the year before I moved to South Africa, and my understanding of apartheid at the time that I heard this record was very limited. I understood it more as a fashionable cause than as a reality.

After arriving in the country, it didn't take long to recognize that apartheid was worthy of worldwide condemnation and protest. Seeing an entire race of people legally and consistently relegated to second class status, and worse, was horrifying to an American kid. Bravo to Little Steven, Bono, The Specials, Keith Richards, and everyone else in the international artistic and political communities who took a stand. Even more props to the people of South Africa, who I've always loved, for making an incredibly difficult change - not without its bumps, bruises, and fractures.

This is not Bono at his best - he's a little too breathy and affected for my taste, but the song is pretty strong, and Richards's guitar is excellent.

Metals: Gold In The Air Of Summer

Kings of Convenience: Gold In The Air Of Summer


... slipping one more in under the wire from my #1 favorite Norwegian artists (except maybe Sissel Kyrkjebø).

Metals : Lift The Iron Curtain

Lord Ivanhoe & His Carribean Knights : Lift The Iron Curtain


It was Winston Churchill in 1946 who first used the expression "iron curtain" that had "descended on the continent". This is big wall of suspicion and fear was an obesssion to a lot of people, especially in the 1950s, and everywhere in the World, even in the peaceful and sunny archipelago of Trinidad & Tobago, where the colorfull, local music style was about to invade the whole world before the neighbors in Jamaica took over.
As blogger Zero G noticed in his post, ""Lift the Iron Curtain" is a sincere plea with a sly dig at Britain ("I think the Russians are selfish/In a way, they are like the British/For no man can get inside/To see what Moscow has got to hide").
On the other side of the curtain, people were probably thinking the same thing...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Metals: Brass In Pocket

The Pretenders: Brass In Pocket


Brass is a metal alloy consisting of copper and zinc, but within this song it's a synonym for money. Indeed, brass and other copper alloys, were often used in making coins in ancient times.

This #1 hit from 1980 features Chrissy Hynde singing about all the things she has going for her and why she's going to make you notice her...she's special.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Metals: You Got The Silver

The Rolling Stones: You Got The Silver [purchase]

Susan Tedeschi: You Got The Silver [purchase]

A blast from the past to clear the palate and the plate for the second half of the week. The loose, surprisingly sparse original was the first Stones song to feature Keith Richards on solo vocal, way back on their seminal 1969 recording Let It Bleed; the cover, from modern blueswoman extraordinaire Susan Tedeschi, retains both the arrangement and the pacing of the original -- the slow start, the high wailing finish -- but tightens it up a notch throughout. Both are beautiful.

Metals: Going For The Gold

Bright Eyes: Going for the Gold


Musical Wunderkind, Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes, has been composing music since he was 13 years old. He has been extremely prolific in his career, releasing no fewer than 22 albums under various band names before his 30th birthday, and that doesn't even count the many guest appearances & singles that he's released during that same time period. Oberst is also a co-founding member of Saddlecreek Records, which now boasts a few bands that have been heard of outside of Omaha (e.g., Smashmouth, Rilo Kelly, Neva Dinova, and others).

Going for the Gold is a really great song, from an album that collects songs from four artists. It's worth checking out.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Metals : Heart of Gold

Jean-Jacques Milteau (With Mighty Mo Rogers) : Heart Of Gold


A perfect transition post, If I had known last week end. Both a guest star and a "metal" song, this cover of Neil's "Heart of Gold" was recorded in Memphis by French harmonica player Jean-Jacques Milteau with la creme de la creme of local studio musicians, giving this folk-rock standard a strong Soul flavor. Bluesman Mighty Mo Rogers sings, and JJ plays with a bluesy sound. Contrary to Neil Young, he plays in 2nd position or "cross harp". The song being in G, he plays a with a C harp (instead of a simple G) that gives him all the blue notes. Of course it's not the original, but I like this version. In fact I really love when soul and folk meet thet way.

Seems like sometimes the most original things I come up with are by French musicians. Hope you don't mind.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Metals: Lithium

The Polyphonic Spree: Lithium


Lithium is the lightest of metals. In fact, it corrodes quickly under normal conditions and therefore must be kept in an oil or gel to be sustained for any period of time. It only occurs naturally on the planet in compounds because of this. A number of practical uses have been found for it, most notably being its use in batteries. But another use is as a mood stabilizer. It can be used to treat bipolar disorder, mania and depression, but must be monitored because above a very small amount it is very toxic.

The mood stabilizing affects of lithium is what inspired the Nirvana song named after it. The song is a tale of all the highs and lows a person can go through and how the lithium makes us stop feeling the things we once did. The song deals with the feelings of this treatment and how sometimes feeling awful is better than feeling nothing at all.

This cover of the song by The Polyphonic Spree takes a completely different feel to it. The Polyphonic Spree is a "choral symphonic rock" group that features about 20 members in robes that makes music that's entirely too happy for its own good. Many have thought the group to be some kind of religious cult before, but really it is just the brainchild of rocker Tim DeLaughter, previously of the group Tripping Daisy. When The Polyphonic Spree takes on this Nirvana classic all of the sudden it feels like a song by Stuart Smalley with it's overly happy and hopeful take on life. Overall, I really like this cover simply because it takes a classic song that almost everyone knows, and gives it a whole new spin.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Metals: Gold Rush

Mark O'Connor: Gold Rush


Gold has no utilitarian value, but it was the very first metal discovered anyway -- way back in 6000 BC, apparently by some stone age man looking for a nice anniversary gift for the stone age woman who has everything.

Since then, of course, gold has built a reputation for driving men mad enough to face malls on Christmas Eve, fork over two month's pay for tiny round fingerhoops, or even swarm California to sift dirt by the side of some muddy stream all day. People write songs about all of its uses, and there's enough good ones out there; it's a good bet you'll see a few more gold tunes as we pursue our metals theme this week.

But this jumpin' tune is a great starting point for any set. Bill Monroe wrote it, and fiddle master Mark O'Connor's version is just light and frothy, a full-blown reel in a bottle. That's Bill there on mandolin, spinning the gold himself.