Look who’s here!

Hooray! My long-awaited Hudson Taylor CDs are here! The EP has been on Spotify for a few days already, but having it in hand makes it real, somehow.

Here’s my quick review (rundown?) of the Feel It Again EP.

“Run With Me” – If I hadn’t already  liked the song, the adorable video would have won me over. Rescue dogs. A VW camper van. Harry in a headband. What’s not to like? The song gets stuck in your head quite nicely, too.

“Easy Baby” – This is the one I’m least familiar with, so I’m going to have to listen a few more times and let you know later.

“Travellin'” – I love this song. I have a whole story made up in my head about it, that Alfie wrote it about Gabrielle (his love) and being a traveling musician (his other love), and how she encourages him to go on the road (and she knows how important it is for him because she is a touring musician as well). *Sigh* It’s so sweet. And on tour, Alfie sang, “Here I am, in Portland, Oregon!” which was a very nice touch.

“Old Soul” – This is slow and beautiful and dreamy. The video is so, so good; it shows Harry and Alfie walking and busking through Europe, Harry being silly and Alfie mostly serious. It’s funny; ever since I met him more than four years ago — when he wasn’t even old enough to drink — I’ve described Alfie as an “old man.” He just has this kind manner and seems so incredibly sweet, like a doting old granddad. It’s hard to describe. I mean it as a tremendous compliment.

“Feel It Again” – When I first heard this, months ago, I thought, “Wow, they are going in a whole new direction!” It was such a bigger sound than anything on the first album. The video is pretty (but silly) and the song is incredibly catchy.

So that’s the record! Signed and everything; I’m getting quite the collection. I can’t wait until they come back to Portland with a full band and play all these songs live.

Musical musings

Quinland posted a list of his favorite cover songs on his blog yesterday and asked everyone to share their favorites. I replied but couldn’t link to the songs themselves, so I thought I’d do so here. The list is by no means complete, but they were the first ones that came to mind, which must mean something!

“Tears of a Clown” was the first one that came to mind. Way back in 1981, when I first heard it, I had no idea it was a cover. I was a freshman in high school; I was totally into ska music after a friend of a friend brought a cassette back from England that had One Step Beyond by Madness recorded on one side and The Beat’s I Just Can’t Stop It on the other. I remember the first time I heard the oldie, about 10 years later. I was floored. I do like it, but it can’t compare to the ska version, to me.

“Tainted Love” was another high school favorite. I don’t apologize for not knowing that was a cover, since I bet most people think that Soft Cell’s version is the original. This was a very handy song to play while in the midst of a relationship meltdown in college. By “play,” I mean opening the dorm room window and cranking the stereo up as high as it would go. . . which was 40. (I don’t know what the Spinal Tap guys were thinking with the whole “11” thing.)

It goes without saying that I was not a rocker in my youth. With apologies to David Thompson, Van Halen was not my cup of tea. So when the lovely and talented Roddy Frame decided to cover “Jump,” I could not have been happier. I like the Loaded Version; it’s still slightly lounge-y, but still with a blistering guitar solo. Because, of course, Mr. Frame was a child guitar prodigy.

The Bobby Fuller Four must have time traveled to the future, realized that The Clash would need to sing “I Fought The Law,” and then come back and written it for them. (Dang it. I just looked it up and they didn’t actually write it. It was written by the guy who replaced Buddy Holly in the Crickets. That would have been a hard job to take. Kind of like being the guy who replaced Ian McCullough on that one Bunnymen album.)

Miles Hunt from The Wonder Stuff loves The Jam. I know this because he told me so, one summer evening back in 1998. I’d heard “That’s Entertainment” by The Jam years and years before, but didn’t give it much thought until I saw Miles sing it to a crowd of 18,500 people in Bescot Stadium on their Welcome to the Cheap Seats documentary. I fell in love, looked up The Jam’s original version, and became somewhat obsessed.

Now, “Closer to Fine” had been a song I loved from the very first. (I saw Indigo Girls as an opening band for Hothouse Flowers at Pine Street Theater back in the day!) The Stuffies do a lovely, respectful cover of it as an extra track on Construction for the Modern Idiot.

I have to get this posted in the next five minutes, so suffice it to say that I love Smashing Pumpkins’ cover of “Landslide.” Stripped down and gorgeous.

Cat Stevens in the cradle

My phone has three voice mail messages from my sister. I decide I had better call back.

I’m glad I did. It is a legitimate emergency.

“Do you know who sings Cat’s in the Cradle?”

Of course I do. “Harry Chapin,” I say. This is correct, but it is apparently not the right answer.

“Nooooo! Who is Harry Chapin?! How do you know that? It should be Cat Stevens!”

It turns out she has always believed that Cat’s in the Cradle was a Cat Stevens song, but when she shared this mistaken opinion with my two music-obsessed nephews, she had, in time-honored tradition, been thoroughly mocked.

She has decided to redeem her reputation by proving that most people think the song is by Cat Stevens. She is about to be surprised.

Her first call is to Quinland.

“Which of these singers sang Cat’s in the Cradle?” Four choices are given, including Harry Chapin and Cat Stevens.

Q’s response? “I have no idea who actually sings it, but I know it’s not Cat Stevens.” Strike one!

After David and I complete the inning with strikes two and three, she gives up (although she is still convinced that everyone else on earth thinks it’s Cat Stevens, and not some other random guy no one has heard of).

We, meanwhile, happily start scouring the internet for trivial facts about Harry Chapin.

Photo by Jason Blanchard / CC BY