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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Making More Rock And Roll, Deconstructing Sgt. Pepper

Posted in The Beatles, Willie Simpson's Original Music on December 1st, 2012 by Willie

Well, I haven’t updated the ole’ website in a good while, and the reason is because I’m still making more rock and roll. The intention of this humble little corner of internet space was never to be a daily rock and roll blog, that happened more or less organically. The site was created to feature my music, and to that end, my album, which I’ve previewed extensively on this site, is nearly finished. The album in question, which I’ve named Funeral Business, is something I’m growing increasingly proud of. The album art, which the ever lovely Sonia Rapaport created, is the thing you’re looking at right above. Right now I’m collaborating on one last tune with Andrew Lee, and from there, the future promises to reflect the glimmering wonderfulness to be entailed within it. I’m planning a mini documentary movie in the coming weeks about the creation of the record, and a further reflection on my thoughts on rock and roll and what it means to me. Its a flourish of self centered activity that I find rather distasteful, but necessary to further spread the joy this music has brought to me. I want to thank all my friends and family who have helped me along the way here, and I also want to post this incredibly cool video someone made deconstructing the “Sgt. Pepper” song, because it goes against everything in my nature to provide an update without some music. This little video is really fascinating, breaking the song down into its component parts, giving you a sense of how the Beatles created their masterpieces. You will also be hypnotized by those groovy multicolored lines of sonic goodness. Enjoy.

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Willie Simpson, Heart On My Sleeve

Posted in Willie Simpson's Original Music on November 2nd, 2012 by Willie

For your consideration, I submit yet another song from my forthcoming album “Funeral Business.” “Heart On My Sleeve” is a moderately paced romantic dance rock song that I am very proud of. The lyrics were all true to my heart, written during a lonely time last year when I extra pathetic, giving it the double layer of heart broken authenticity. The music has that crunchy minor key harmonic wistfulness that I love, and the guitar solo by Andrew Lee soars and roars, but what else would you expect if you’ve been following along? Again, the stunning artwork was provided by Sonia Rapaport, including the sneak peak preview of the upcoming album art for the whole LP. I’m really excited about all this music and art I have laying around, just waiting to find its fans the world over. I hope you enjoy it. All the best, Willie.

 

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Willie Simpson, The Necrophiliac

Posted in Willie Simpson's Original Music on October 30th, 2012 by Willie

Are you OK? Did you survive the wrath of Hurricane Sandy? Somehow, in the middle of Brooklyn, I managed to hold onto power, internet, and hot water, a real miracle. I had never heard more menacing and frightening winds ever in my life. It was quite the experience. Well, I hope you are fine, and I hope you’d like to hear some new music. I wrote “The Necrophiliac” a long time ago in 2006, and like many songs I made in that era, when I was still learning how to be a good musician, it sat on the shelf. I always loved the pulsating rhythm and manic harmonized vocals, so I dusted it off for a remake. Like a lot of my recent releases, it fits in perfectly with the spooky season of Halloween, and is PERFECT for all your dance parties. The beautiful artwork was provided by Sonia Rapaport, and if you’d like to see more of her brilliance, just click on her name there, and you can explore her wonderful online gallery. The incredible rough and rumble guitar solo in the middle of the song was provided by my great friend, Matt S., who moonlights as a wanna Keith Richards when he’s not affecting government policy down in DC. Much thanks to him and his VOX sound-station.  So please, give a listen, I think you’ll like it, and lastly, I offer this one DISCLAIMER: The song “The Necrophiliac” was intended for artistic parody only. I do not support, endorse, or necrophilia or necrophiliacs of any kind. Having sex with dead things and corpses is horrible, and should never be attempted, or even thought about, may God have mercy on your soul.

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Willie Simpson, My Girlfriend Needs An Exorcism

Posted in Willie Simpson's Original Music on October 28th, 2012 by Willie

I wrote this song originally in 2007 (I think) in a fit of post break up madness. The song was my therapy for an otherwise sad separation. It went through a few iterations before I left it incomplete with shambling static laced vocals, unfinished drums, and an overall horrendous mix. I always kept the song on my back burner though because it had a good structure, and a funny message, and it being near Halloween, I thought it fitting to dust it off and completely re-record it. With the help of the beautiful guitar work of Andrew Lee, who provided me with gorgeous acoustic and electric slide work, not to mention a last minute brilliant backwards guitar solo, I was able to cobble together a more or less complete version of the tune. I’d also like to credit my old buddy Ken Kocses for helping me write the part the in the middle that starts, “what are you thinking?” Ken has always been an enthusiastic fan of my music, and anytime we have collaborated, its always been a fun and thoughtful experience. Anyway, the video below, is merely just the title card above with the song plodding away in the background. If you like what you hear, be sure to check out both the videos for “Funeral Business” and “Chain Letter,” my two other most recent rock and roll projects. Thanks for listening, and Happy Halloween.

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Big Mama Thorton, Budddy Guy, Hound Dog

Posted in Big Mama Thorton, Buddy Guy on October 25th, 2012 by Willie

“Hound Dog” is one of the greatest blues rock songs of all time, so it should come as no surprise that this is the third instance of me posting a version of it. The other two occasions involved the King Elvis Presley, but for this time, I have the superior version. Its Big Mama Thorton and Buddy Guy teaming up to play the song that Mama made a hit 4 years before Elvis. Her version just roasts with perfection. The way Big Mama just growls and bites into the verses, singing like no one else could sing it, even the King of Rock and Roll. This performance is almost too hip for this galaxy, proof of human artistic perfection, and America couldn’t help but agree as Willie Mae Thorton sold 2 million copies of it in 1952 and 1953, spending 7 weeks at #1; an ultra smash for the early era of rock and roll. I’ve played this video about eight times this week and I can’t get enough, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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The Who, Pinball Wizard

Posted in The Who on October 15th, 2012 by Willie

My pal Jimm D. found this video, and boy do I owe him a thank you. This performance of “Pinball Wizard” by the Who is one of the single greatest rock and roll displays of all time. While I’m pretty sure that the instrumentation is mimed, as was the case in many 60s era television clips, the singing was live, evidenced by a few missed notes by Townshend. Whatever, this performance, whatever it is, shows the Who at their most dynamic, engaging, and most star powered. The best part is the dearly departed Keith Moon miming the words behind Roger Daltry’s back in hilarious English “goon” like insanity. In the fashion department, thumbs up to John Entwistle’s horrible attempt at a Fu Man Chu mustache. Its funny, I never was the greatest fan of this song until I saw this clip, its that unbelievably good, so enough of my hype, (50 years late) and just play this thing and dream about what rock and roll could still be, if only someone was good enough to try.

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Happy 72 John Lennon, Woman

Posted in John Lennon on October 9th, 2012 by Willie

Well, if John Lennon had survived, he’d be 72 years old today. I do think its kind of strange to wish a dead man happy birthday, but this is John Lennon, a guy that still lives in my fantasies and dreams. Along with Martin Luther King Jr., JFK, RFK, and Bob Marley, John Lennon is one of the mythic superstars of reality that I had wished lived to see the future. His work in life was unfinished, and the thought of wondering what music and outrageous activities he had saved in cranium can drive any Beatle lunatic fan mad. Recently I discovered that John was offered the role of Professor Falken in the cult classic “War Games,” and seriously considered it until his untimely murder stopped all that. At first I thought that would have been terrible, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought how brilliant John would have been in that role. John WAS an actor after all, with a lot of experience making movies and being in front of the camera. Most of his roles were Beatle related, and not exactly serious, though he shows flashes of brilliance in every movie he was in. John could have had a distinguished career as a wonderful character actor, a dimension that would have brought to life a whole new artistic light for him and the world. Anyway, its always fun to speculate on what might have been every time John Lennon’s birth, or death date, comes around, whether they be dreams about Beatle Reunions, or battling rogue AI in an effort to save the world from global thermonuclear war. But in the final analysis, to quote another dead hero, John was a musician, so here is some; the song and video for “Woman” from “Double Fantasy.” “Woman” is a beautiful soft rock ode to Yoko, and all women too. It’s a lovely philosophical and mature song on the subject of love, and its also a great feminist anthem, an awesome talent John possessed. Enjoy, and Happy Birthday Mr. Lennon.

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Petula Clark, Downtown, A Sign of the Times

Posted in Petula Clark on October 4th, 2012 by Willie

Normally, when you think about the end of the baseball season, you don’t think about Petula Clark, but I do. I’m a rabid New York Mets fan, and when I was a kid, I had a VHS of “Amazin Era,” a film about the history of the New York Mets from 1962-1985. I watched that tape endlessly, over and over, and the soundtrack from that tape just fills me with that special brand of nostalgia. As the Mets season came to another disappointing finish yesterday afternoon, I randomly stumbled on the old Petula Clark song “A Sign of the Times.” This song was featured prominently in the “Amazin Era” tape, and its etched in the loops of my childhood memories. Now, those who read my website know that when I’m posting songs from the 60s, they are usually the absolute best songs of the era; the most artistic, the most serious, the most life changing. Petula’s 60s output doesn’t live up to those standards, but she WAS a product of the most glorious time in pop music, and as a consequence, her cheesy music still IS powerful. “Downtown,” made famous in modern times as a minor subplot in a Seinfeld episode, is an example of this. Its about a lonely woman who just travels to the city to see a movie to lift her spirits. Its totally dumb, but the melody, and Petula’s singing are out of this world. The same goes for “A Sign of the Times,” a sterling diamond of a song. To me, and I know this is borderline insanity, but “A Sign of the Times” was exactly the type of song Paul McCartney was writing in early 1967. It has an awesome vintage British feel that has proven incredibly hard to replicate by anyone since that era. So, sit back, and enjoy these two hunks of 60s confectionery sugar.

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