My Album, Funeral Business, Is For Sale!

Posted in Willie Simpson's Original Music on February 22nd, 2014 by Willie

final funeral business cover

After nearly five years of writing, singing, recording and mixing, my first full-length album is complete and available for sale on practically every major internet music store. I actually finished “Funeral Business” three weeks ago but had to wait until iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and all the other music stores made sure I wasn’t uploading copies of “Thriller” by Michael Jackson instead of my own original music.

While “Funeral Business” isn’t “Thriller,” it certainly is a thrilling joy ride of electrifying rock and roll and heart-felt folk-rock stylings. I hate to be one to wave my own banner but I love every song on this record. In many way that was the main inspiration, to create a rock and roll record that I wanted to hear. Well, now that I’m sold on the wonderfulness of “Funeral Business,” I think it’s only appropriate that I share it with the world.

Now I know that buying music isn’t exactly in vogue these days and I completely understand. Often times I need to be convinced by an artist before forking over my money and devotion. Luckily, you can preview some of the best songs on my official YouTube channel by clicking here or by exploring the original music page on this website.

Before I re-list all the sale links, I’d just like to thank everyone who helped me make this record, starting with my great friend Andrew Lee. I’d also like to thank Matt Sturm, Ian Wehrle, Ken Kocses, Sonia Rapaport, Feliziano B. Flores and Lilja Nielsen. Thanks to all you wonderful and beautiful people who not only contributed to the music but also to the overall enrichment of my life.

Ok, to get your paws on “Funeral Business,” please follow the links presented below. All the best,

Willie

iTunes

Google Play

Amazon

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Willie Simpson, Memory Lane

Posted in Willie Simpson's Original Music on December 31st, 2013 by Willie

memory-lane

 

UPDATE 12/31/2013: Happy New Years everybody! I just want to let you know that I re-recorded Memory Lane and I updated the music video to reflect all the new sonic goodness! I hope you have a great 2014 filled with tons of dreamy memories.

UPDATE 12/22/2013: Today marks the end of what turned out to be a very productive weekend for me. As you can see below, I updated the song and music video for Chain Letter, and now I am adding a brand new original music video for my song Memory Lane. I wasn’t planning to make a music video for this but my dear friend Sonia and I were wondering around Southern Brooklyn and captured some footage of some swans and ducks and realized we had some interesting footage. Combined with some other stuff we’d filmed over the summer, we found ourselves with a video perfect for Memory Lane. In the clip, you can see me and Sonia bumbling around and excitedly pointing at things by Sheepshead Bay. I hope you enjoy it and I hope it gets you excited for my soon to be released album Funeral Business. Again, big thanks to the ultra-talented Andrew Lee for providing the beautiful electric guitar work to the song. I’d also like to thank Andrew for believing in the song when I was ready to throw it away for some reason. So, without further babbling, here is music video!

Originally Published May 8, 2011:  Andrew and I tweaked the song.  He redid his solo to make it more tuneful, and I redid the chorus to achieve a similar effect.  I’d love for everyone to hear it!

I woke up at 5 am on Saturday Morning and made this, my newest song, Memory Lane.  Well, to be honest, I had written most of the song last fall, but it wasn’t till this past weekend when I figured out how to record it.  Conceptually, I was very much inspired by the Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields single.  But unlike those songs, this one is more universal, and less personal.  The version I present to you is mostly finished.  I might tweak the drums or add a little more guitar color in a future version, but its basically done.  I hope you enjoy it.

Memory Lane featuring Andrew Lee on lead guitar.

(Words and music by Willie Simpson)

Oh, here are the lyrics if you wish to sing along.

Read more »

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My New Music Video, Chain Letter!

Posted in Andrew Lee, Willie Simpson's Original Music on December 22nd, 2013 by Willie

UPDATE: 12/22/2013.  This song has undergone an significant overhaul in the past few months. First, the immortal Feliziano B. Flores came by to help me flesh out the chorus and middle part. Mr. Flores was wonderfully inspiring, providing incredible work under time pressured conditions and my less than reliable producing. I thank him for that. Still, after working through some changes with the talented FBF, it still was missing something. At long last I found the missing piece and balance needed to send the song off on the glittering flying saucer I envisioned in my head when I first created it. As a result, I pulled the original YouTube video down and replaced it with the one below. I hope you enjoy it as I near the finish line of finally finishing my new album, Funeral Business!

Originally published on September 7, 2012: I wrote this song by accident.  I came home from Australia after five months of having no guitar to play with, and started to write a song about how miserable life could be.  The opening line, “27 lonely years, you’ll be living with your fears, if you don’t send, this message to your friends,” was all I had.  I had no idea what the song would be about, but I loved the rhyme scheme and the rapid fire delivery.  As I kept writing lines that fit the pattern, it dawned on me that I was writing about the doom and gloom found in chain letters.  After that revelation, it was only a matter of ripping off “Paperback Writer” and “Day Tripper,” and boom, I had a delirious new psychedelic pop song.  My last music video, “Funeral Business,” featured the Ghostbusters rocking out to that jam, so I figured I’d return to the pop culture well for the equally spooky “Chain Letter.”  One of my favorite shows ever, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” offered the perfect template for a song about tempting supernatural fate.  I’d like to thank my friend Andrew Lee, first and foremost, for his incredible guitar solo.  I’d also like to thank Lilja Nielsen for much needed video editing critiques, and the brilliant George Gross for more of the same.  Lastly I’d like to thank my friends Matt Sturm, Sonia Rapaport, and Ian Wehrle for a bunch of moral support and musical advice.  That’s enough yapping, so please enjoy the song and video below, and remember, chain letters only work when you share them with all your friends, so if you don’t wish to be cursed with 27 years of misfortune, please share this video with everyone you can!

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The Beatles, Words Of Love

Posted in The Beatles on November 17th, 2013 by Willie

words of love

I had a dream the other night (no, please keep reading) where the Beatles were reunited in the 1980s and John Lennon was still alive. It was an incredibly visceral dream with the four guys aged perfectly for the time. They were recording a track in the studio. John was decked out in a red and black leather jacket with his hair pulled back in a pony tail, rocking his classic black circular sunglasses. Paul was dressed in a large Christmas sweater, holding his Hofner bass and looking very nervous. John was also a bundle of nerves, pacing near the microphone with a grey colored Fender. I don’t remember what George and Ringo looked like but they were there as well. Then, the magic happened. They started playing Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be The Day,” harmonizing beautifully, restarting a few times in the process. The dream felt real and the music sounded live. I was thrilled to experience it.

Anyway, as fate would have it, the Beatle company Apple, released a new music video, “Words of Love,” another Buddy Holly cover, just the a few days ago. The song originally appeared on Beatles For Sale, a criminally underrated Beatle record (if there is such a thing) that got a lot of slack for featuring too many covers and carrying a bit of a depressed vibe. The record was released late in 1964 and reflects the exhausted around the world impact that Beatlemania had on the guys. The songs like “I’m a Loser” and “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party” had a sense of world-weariness to them but like any Beatle record, the performances and production are immaculate, creating a warm and intimate listening experience.

The “Words of Love” music video is just gorgeous. Mixing in psychedelic animation, a bit of CGI and sparkly magic to priceless clips of the Beatles running around during the height of Beatlemania. I would be incredible if Apple released a video like this for every song in the catalog. A massive task for sure, but, who cares, the music still holds up so breathing new life into the old songs with gorgeous imagery is a wonderful idea. I always wised that Apple should make a sequel to Yellow Submarine, featuring music of the White Album. The Beatles themselves didn’t voice Yellow Submarine when they were all alive in the first place so a new animated movie wouldn’t be so sacrilegious and would be really awesome. That will probably never happen unless I somehow become president of Apple records one day so in the meantime, enjoy the limitless splendor and charm of this wonderful “Words of Love” music video.

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Paul McCartney’s Queenie Eye And His Long Road To Simulated Creativity

Posted in Paul McCartney on October 27th, 2013 by Willie

paul queenie eye

Well, I haven’t updated since May and there are many reasons folks. New apartments, new jobs, working on new music and finishing my album all led to a general lack of time to devote to my website. On top of that, I spent last weekend furiously going through as many old posts as possible, replacing all the busted video links I could. I know there are still many more that don’t work and I hope to get to them someday. Just drop me a line on ones you find that don’t work that you’d like to see and I’ll see what I can do. Anyway, it’s good to be back to talk all things rock and roll.

Paul McCartney has released dozens and dozens of records since the Beatles split in 1970. When the Beatles broke up, he was only 28 or 29-years-old, still incredibly young for all he had accomplished and still burning to make music. And make it he did. Throughout the 1970s, with his wife Linda and then with Wings, he produced a plethora of hit records and singles. My favorite record from this era is Ram, his second solo LP. If you ever wanted a sequel to Paul’s work on the White Album, Ram is your record. Critics often point to Band on the Run as representing the peak, but to me that album is Paul’s effort to overhaul his experimental and intimate pop sound into something more slick, energized and urbane. I think Paul is at his best when he is sitting around with his acoustic guitars, overdubbing psychedelic style blues riffs, and crafting intricately layered vocal harmonies over his melodies. I never really dug the slicker ‘big band’ style Paul, which I feel was his attempt to create a larger than life stage show built around bombastic circus anthems and 70s influenced guitar stylings. Don’t get me wrong, there are many tracks that are great in this style, including Jet or the title track from Band on the Run, but I can’t help but feel that even those songs feel a bit forced.

In the 1980s, Paul, like many of the great 60s rockers of his generation, fell off his artistic peak. He produced many shitty electronic albums like Pipes of Peace or the abysmal 1986 effort Press to Play. That record was described by huge Paul McCartney fan and genius rock rock critic George Starostin as “Pure electronic garbage. One of the lowest moments in rock history.” It was hard to blame Paul for starting to suck. He was a workaholic in spite of his constant stream of massive success and he burned out. The 1980s marked the end of his career as a contemporary artist.

As the 1990s dawned, Paul, like his legendary pals who were still alive, entered into what I call the nostalgia museum phase. His new records would be attempts to give audiences what they loved most about him in the first place, namely, Beatles music, and his shows would be more carefully pruned to forever ditch the stuff that nobody every cared about. To achieve that goal, he stripped back any pretense of trying to keep up with musical trends and just come up with the same mix of experimental (now traditional) pop and clever little love ballads. The results were mostly mixed to bad. Flaming Pie from 1997, was awful. Starostin wrote that “The search for simplicity has ended in banality and primitive tunelessness.” Paul, and the rest of the music business, hadn’t figured out how to give people a simulation of the magic that could never really be repeated anyway.

So, with that in mind, let’s jump to the musical world of 2013. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, a lot of embarrassing music was produced by everybody but improvements in technology and a whole new generation of obsessed and passionate music nerds started changing the way music was being made. When I talk about passionate music nerds, I’m not just talking about purists in any specific sense, I’m talking about purists across the board. An army of hardcore music fans, each holding up a banner for a certain genre, be it hip-hop, classic rock and roll, indie rock, disco, bubblegum, techno and everything in between, emerged. These music geeks were not only armed with an encyclopedic history of their favorite types of specific music, but were training themselves to make it, using relatively cheap recording and producing technology. From this bubbling explosion of intelligent and self motivated music enthusiasts, the very best found themselves in studios, working with technology that allowed for practically any style of music to become possible. Retro could somehow be made to sound new and the aesthetics of handmade creations could be designed to come off corporate and slick. This technological revolution has seemingly made it possible for current music stars, motivated to stay relevant, to churn out a never ending stream of stylish pop music that is as hard to ignore once released as it is easily forgotten.

Pop music these days is a purely transient experience, like an express train flying by a local subway stop. It is not only designed to push your emotional pleasure buttons, but stomp them in a fury of dazzling and breath-taking maneuvers. Producers are getting so good at crafting these things that people who hate Beyonce for instance, are finding themselves surprised to be liking her single in the back of their minds, even though they are consciously rejecting it both viscerally and emotionally. As I eluded to before, the biggest side-effect of this phenomenon is forgetability. Everyone sounds fresh. Everyone sounds retro. Every song is pulsing with those homemade ramshackle garage drums while being spliced with the addictive beat of authoritative drum machines. It’s a sensory overload that sounds phenomenal at a club or at a concert but is quickly disposed of once it’s time to release the next batch of songs. No one can even characterize the decades anymore by what types of music is being produced. It’s all becoming a meaningless white noise designed to flash across our brains like a multi-colored strobe light.

Whew. So, back to our friend, and one of the originators of practically everything going on today some how. Paul’s newest single, off of his stupidly named album “New,” is everything I was just talking about. Why is “New” a stupid name? Well, my biggest gripe with the title of his record is that it reminds me of this new trend of “minimalist corporate futurism.” People try to sell everything with this element of simplicity, trying to capture the iPhone marketing mentality. It’s gotten dumb. Also, besides the slick marketing presentation, God love him, Paul has undergone a series of face lifts and hair transplants and despite this, the 70-year-old ‘cute’ Beatle is finally showing his age. The power of his voice, once capable of scorching out high notes as well as Little Richard, has diminished significantly. When he was playing Beatle classics on the Colbert Show earlier this year, astute fans had noticed that he transposed the songs down a whole step to match his lost ability. No longer can he belt out those gorgeous upper register notes that he used to hit so effortlessly. I am not faulting him for aging, or trying to cover it up, in fact I’m not faulting him for anything. I just find it all interesting to witness. Still, whatever, he can’t really be blamed for any of this. In fact, he should be applauded for continuing to entertain his millions of fans, both young and old, decade after decade.

When I first heard Queenie Eye, I caught it for 30 seconds at the end of a rather unrevelatory Howard Stern interview, where Paul dished on John’s LSD use and the making of “Getting Better” off Sgt. Pepper. One nugget I did take away from the talk was Paul talking about the first song he wrote with John called “Just Fun,” or something like that. I am always surprised to hear new Beatle trivia as I have practically memorized their entire story. Anyway, the flash of that song had everything I explained above. It pushed all my Beatle buttons. The melodies seemed to curve unexpectedly and the harmonies were lush and intricate. The stomp of the music had that classic marching Ringo beat and the energy was way up for someone trying to disguise their increasing weariness. Queenie Eye is some meaningless story about an obscure British game played by children Liverpool. The song would probably be perfect for scoring a scene from a Harry Potter Quidditch match, capturing a childhood sense of magic, Britishness and sports.

Anyway, whoever produced it, had access to the magic “sound like solo Paul doing Beatles” button in the studio, stuffing it with all the touchstones. I don’t for one second believe Paul himself really directed the production of the song. Sure, he wrote it, arranged it and possibly played most of the instruments on the track but there is no way he was fiddling with all the modern compression and equalization knobs found in the latest version of whatever fancy recording software is being used in Abbey Road these days.  I doubt Paul was telling the producer to fill the piano sound all the way up to the front, creating that deafening modern wall of sound effect that practically all songs have now. I’m also certain it wasn’t Paul’s idea to have that mellotron drone so loudly in the mix, giving the song that delicious 60s vibe. Also, I’d bet that the radio effect on Paul’s voice is there to mask his increasingly elderly sounding voice.

In the end, what we are left with is a simulation of everything we love about Paul McCartney. Twisting melodies, harmonies, interesting and homespun sounding keyboard sounds, chants, choruses, anthmatic refrains and rainbows. All of it curiously sucked dry of anything resembling reality. The only thing it proves is that Paul is a master of his style, a hallow thing considering he has proved it a billion times before. What is the point of him proving this at age 70? His fans know him, inside and out. Maybe Paul realized that many of his failed records in his later career are too filled with the sort of sad energy that comes with aging. This record itself might be full of those songs too actually, I have no idea, but Paul did announce with this album that he will never retire, so he has probably given up the idea of trying to communicate to people that he is tired and old. Again, I’m not blaming him for anything. The man obviously needs to keep the charade going for his mental health, which is fine. After all, life is mostly a charade, basically. Also, when ranking the most authentic Beatles, you have John and George at the top, godly in their lofty punkishness, Ringo next, never pretending to be anything other than a drummer from Liverpool who made it big, and Paul at the bottom, desperate to keep reminding people of his fame decade after decade, despite never realizing that there was nothing he could do to ever really lose it.

The video itself, presented below, is the perfect compliment to the dazzling nothingness that the song represents. You have Paul, blithely playing piano with his frail hands, which indicate how withered his face really should be, while A-list celebrities appear out of nowhere to listen in. As Paul pounds away, the celebrities either gawk at him, bob their heads slowly or dance in a spirit that doesn’t come close to reflecting the nature of the song. Paul, who has always had a problem appearing natural on camera, doesn’t even register their presence and acts like this is all par for the course, which in his insanely amazing universe, probably is. It might have been nice to see Paul actually backed by other musicians. As it is, he looks like he is drowning in the middle of the music instead of being the source of it. It also would have been nice to see Paul get up and dance around with the celebrities or shake their hands. If I were directing this, I’d have told them all to lift him on their shoulders and carry him around or something. Instead, everyone appears to be divorced from reality, again, unintentionally reflecting the truth of the matter despite best efforts made not to. It’s kind of a shame because Paul was once part of a video that captured everything incredible about this kind of environment. In “All You Need Is Love,” the Beatles are seen performing the song with a live orchestra, surrounded by a mix of normal people and celebrities like Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger. Those megastars are seen sitting on the floor and singing along, forced to the honor the majesty of the Beatles in a non-phony way.

Well, I am out of things to say. As you can see, the longer the layoff, the longer the posts. I hope to keep updating on a more regular basis again and continue to clean up the site as I get closer to releasing my record. All the best everybody!

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Friend And Lover, Reach Out In The Darkness

Posted in Friend And Lover, Mad Men on May 14th, 2013 by Willie

friend-and-lover

Hello everybody! I’m back again! My beloved website was hacked. It was a malicious assault on my home base but I woke up and it was fixed, I have no idea how. Thank you mysterious internet savior! In honor of its return, I am posting this awesome 60s jam I heard at the end of the latest episode of Mad Men. Those who might remember know I love the show, even going as far as making my own video tribute to the 5th season last summer. You can watch that groovy video by clicking here. Anyway, here is Jim and Cathy Post, the once married couple that churned out this top 10 1968 hit song, “Reach Out in the Darkness.” The song has many parts, some really corny in that late 60s hippie style, some really catchy and timeless. I’ll let you decide what your favorite part of the song is. I had never heard the song before, much to the surprise of my girlfriend and her sister. They assumed I have heard every 60s nugget produced, but that is not the case. Anyway, as far as Mad Men goes, this song was playing when Don Draper and his wife Megan discovered that Bobby Kennedy was killed, providing an almost ridiculous counter balance to the historic misery of RFK’s horrendous death. It was an incredible scene, and it is well worth checking out the episode. Hope you like it!

 

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Paul McCartney And Carl Perkins, My Old Friend (Documentary)

Posted in Carl Perkins, Paul McCartney on March 22nd, 2013 by Willie

paul and carl

Every once in a while I stumble across something really beautiful and rare. This is one of those finds. Zod bless YouTube users for cataloging practically everything in filmed existence that would otherwise be lost or inaccessible to mass audiences. This 45 minute documentary features guitar legend Carl Perkins and Beatle legend Paul McCartney just hanging out, strumming, picking and singing the time away. The video also has some interesting Carl Perkins history tucked away between the performances. I particularly loved the history of “Blue Suede Shoes” and how Carl always thought ‘suede’ was spelled ‘swade.’ The closing song, “My Old Friend,” was also touching, especially the revelation of Carl playing it for Paul right after John had died. It is a beautiful song and its remarkable how Paul has the ability to just create wonderful vocal harmonies and backing melodies on the spot. This is a nice companion piece to the Carl Perkins and Friends Rockabilly School (where George Harrison got to sit in as Carl’s best friend), and it is well worth your time.

PS- If you are wondering where I have been, take comfort in the fact that I pretty much do blog style reporting for a living. Check out my work at Sheepshead Bites and Bensonhurst Bean, covering all the ins and outs of Southern Brooklyn.

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The Beach Boys, When I Grow Up To Be A Man

Posted in The Beach Boys on February 12th, 2013 by Willie

beach boys when i grow up to be a man

It’s my birthday today and its kind of funny that this cheesy (genius) Beach Boys song has been in my head for weeks. This song accomplishes an incredible goal, merging the corny Mike Love teenage introspection with Brian Wilson’s soaring human introspection. Its a beautiful tune with wonderful harmonies and creeping mature Beatle arrangement methods. I just want to thank all my friends and family who have made this a delightful day. All the best.

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Neil Young, Southern Man

Posted in Neil Young on January 25th, 2013 by Willie

neil young

I’m back after a LONG break from the site. There are many exciting reasons for this. 1. I’ve been writing for Sheepshead Bites, the #1 local New York City News blog I am proud to say. 2. I planned to upload a LONG time ago with a series of new original music videos, but my camera helpers are currently in India, believe it or not, and those plans fell through. 3. I’ve spent the last month writing some new music which is coming along very shortly, and I’m very excited about. Anyway, here is Neil Young rocking out “Southern Man” in 1974. He is backed up by the immortal Stephen Stills, David Crosby and Graham Nash among others. I love this song. The lyrics are righteously howled by Young, an appropriate anthem in the wake of the excellent “Django Unchained” movie, which I recently saw twice in theaters and have grown to love. Classic rock radio loves to play “Sweet Home Alabama,” in which the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd famously trashed Young for this song, but they always forget to bookend it with “Southern Man.” While “Sweet Home” is uptempo and fun, everyone forgets how dark and destructive Neil’s masterpiece is. Personally, I’d much rather rally around an anthem that shames racism as beautifully as possible in a pop context then a song extolling the virtues of southern pride. The footage below is beautiful, the guitar solo rocks and the song is one of rocks greatest ever. Enjoy.

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George Harrison, Ravi Shankar, Sitar Lesson and Within You Without You

Posted in George Harrison, Ravi Shankar, The Beatles, Youtube Favs on December 12th, 2012 by Willie

EDIT: Ravi Shankar died yesterday, Tuesday, December 12, 2012, at the age of 92 in Southern California. RIP you beautiful man; legend of music, Beatle guru, sitar master.

Orignally Published May 5, 2011- Part 56 is a double dose adventure of Indian/English fun.  First we have an awesome rare clip of George Harrison in India taking a sitar lesson with legendary sitar master Ravi Shankar in 1966.  After the Beatles quit touring the mad, mad, world in early 1966, they all took long vacations.  George decided to take his wife, Patti Boyd, to India, where he met Ravi, and insisted on becoming his apprentice.  The first video shows Ravi instructing George on some scales near a beautiful lake and mountain, while Ravi narrates the experience, expressing total shock and bewilderment at why a pop musician of George’s stature would be interested in classical Indian music.  Of course, George’s interest in sitar music caused an international explosion in the instrument and genre, and made Ravi Shankar an international star.  Video two shows the results of all of these efforts, “Within You Without You,” the second best song off Sgt. Pepper, (“A Day in the Life” being the best.)  This song is so incredible.  It’s a total masterpiece of artistic expression.  John Lennon said it best about the song, saying that George was “so clear” on this track, and that it was one of his favorite songs.  The lyrics are some of the most brilliant in the entire Beatles catalog, and sonically, its just perfect, a psychedelic joyride through George’s Indian soaked mind.  I also think its a stunningly original song coming from a man who adopted gurus to learn from his whole life, (Perkins, Lennon, McCartney, Dylan.)  This song has nothing to do with any of those guys, its just pure George, and its brave of him to stick his head out, in the Beatles of all groups, with a song like this.  And its undeniably fantastic!

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