The Kinks, Autumn Almanac

Posted in The Kinks, Youtube Favs on December 9th, 2011 by Willie

The Kinks.  I love them.  I love Ray Davies, the writer of this song, “Autumn Almanac,” an absolute stunning piece of musical genius from 1967.  A lot happened in 1967.  It was the year when the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper to critical and international fame, when Jimi Hendrix was revolutionizing the use of the electric guitar, and when the world’s youth was dropping acid and dreaming of the future.  Ray Davies was thinking of the past; of autumn days, his old school notebook, hiking in the woods, and Sunday dinners.  There is no better writer of nostalgic pop then Ray, and this song is his shining anthem to that feeling.  At his creative height, Ray challenged the Beatles in terms of melodic brilliance and was as good as Bob Dylan in creating emotive original lyrics.  He was that good, and “Autumn Almanac” is one of his best songs and greatest examples of his powers.  The song is a stream of consciousness, both lyrically, and melodically, but its not without coherence, form, and beauty.  The song exists at the limit of creativity a person can achieve with an acoustic guitar writing in the pop song format.  I hope you enjoy it.

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Jimi Hendrix, Johnny B. Goode

Posted in Jimi Hendrix, Youtube Favs on November 10th, 2011 by Willie

And here it is, the ultimate rock and roll guitar song played by the ultimate guitar rock god.  We have Jimi Hendrix, taking the Chuck Berry classic “Johnny B. Goode,” to a place no one thought imaginable.  His guitar sounds like a galloping steed from Hell, riding headlong into a firestorm, conquering everything in its path.  I mean, what are we listening to here really?  It’s kind of like that scene from “Back to the Future,” where Marty McFly takes you through the history of rock and roll with the song.  The one difference being that Jimi just plays the song at the end of the history.  He takes the song to the limit of rock and roll, almost breaking it forever.  It’s remarkably spellbinding and should be studied by musicologists.  So, until then, it’ll just be up to us try our best and take in what’s presented below, enjoy.

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Jimi Hendrix, Hear My Train A Comin'

Posted in Jimi Hendrix, Youtube Favs on November 10th, 2011 by Willie

You’d suspect on a site like mine, there would be no shortage of Jimi Hendrix material to peruse through, but alas, this is the first one I’ve got.  It’s not for lack of love for the man, as in fact, I possess great quantities of the emotion for the guy.  I sit firmly in the camp of considering him the greatest rock and roll guitarist ever, a controversial position I know, (wink) and one that requires a bit of elucidation.  When Chuck Berry laid down his signature riff for Johnny B. Goode, he showed the world how electric guitar was all that was really needed for rock and roll.  No offense to Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard’s patented piano lead attack, but the sound and image of the electric guitar would define the genre of music, truly giving the style its rock more than anything else.  Jimi proved this thesis by taking the electric guitar to its logical end point through his experimental rocking.  It’s not like Jimi was technically the best guitar player ever, he was simply the most innovative, and the most in tune with its possibilities.  His insights transformed him into something the world had never seen before, a sort of improvisational Mozart, creating manic symphonies on the spot, all with just one instrument.  Now, with all that said about Jimi changing the world of music with his electric guitar, I present to you quiet acoustic Jimi on 12 string acoustic…Hah!  Don’t worry, electric monster Jimi is coming tomorrow, but no proper introduction of the man would be complete without a thorough discussion on his pioneering efforts in the field of electricity.  This performance of his original, “Hear My Train A Comin,'” is an awesome stunning and intimate look at the man just playing his guitar in a white room, singing the blues.  It’s among the best moments in music history, and luckily its here for all of us to enjoy, so please do.

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Greatest Rock Vocalists #1, Little Richard, Good Golly Miss Molly

Posted in Greatest Rock Vocalists, Little Richard, Youtube Favs on October 7th, 2011 by Willie

Little Richard is the greatest vocalist in rock and roll history.  He is the man that was James Brown’s #1 influence, the man Paul McCartney copied, the man who first employed Jimi Hendrix, and the man that arguably started rock and roll with the second he let out his primal rock and roll roar for the first time.  Little Richard had the voice of a super-being out of a comic book.  His vocal chords were just blessed with the most perfect construction necessary to start a world wide revolution, and they did.  Oh yea, he also played a mean piano as you can see in the glorious video below.  Yea, this was an odd early 90s promo video for the John Goodman movie King Ralph, but God bless that movie for giving Little Richard another spotlight to elevate his classic hit “Good Golly Miss Molly,” to an absurd level of perfection.  He just tears the roof off, proving that even at an advanced age, he hadn’t lost a lick of talent.  Richard’s voice really was one of the most remarkable miracles in the history of music, and there is no one that can take away from him.  Watch the hell out of this video below and just try to find someone with a better voice.  It’s impossible.

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Marvin Gaye, The National Anthem

Posted in Marvin Gaye, Youtube Favs on June 8th, 2011 by Willie

Soul week grooves on with part 84 of my youtube countdown.  Today I have Marvin Gaye, the Prince of Soul, singing “The National Anthem” at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game.  For my money, this is the greatest National Anthem ever, slightly better than Jimi Hendrix’s psychedelic Woodstock performance.  Marvin managed to turn the normally stuffy and militaristic anthem into a smooth soul jam complete with the most seductive beat and vocal delivery ever achieved for the song.  There is just too much to love about this video.  I love the way he sexualizes the song, driving every woman in the crowd absolutely crazy.  I love the way the NBA arena reflects off his large sunglasses.  Most of all, I love the way he squeezes all that emotion from his performance to the point where he looks like he is going to cry.  The most amazing feat of the song is that Marvin’s version somehow reflects the entire history of cultural cool that America has produced in its history, not just its military glory and political power.  It’s almost a personal anthem, reflecting Marvin’s sad yet sexy soul.  Whatever it is, its a pure wonder, and an essential listening experience.  Enjoy.  Oh, PS, expect more Marvin this week.

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Jake Shimabukuro, While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Posted in George Harrison, Jake Shimabukuro, The Beatles, Youtube Favs on May 21st, 2011 by Willie

Well, the world didn’t end, which is nice, so the youtube countdown continues with part 68.  I have the “Jimi Hendrix of Ukelele,” Jake Shimabukuro, performing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” from the “White Album.”  Taking place at Strawberry Fields in Central Park, this is one of the most amazing performances I have ever seen.  This guy plays the song with flawless soulful precision.  The way he incorporates the melody of the song into his beautiful precise rhythm is uncanny.  It’s also just a flat out wonderful tribute to George Harrison, who LOVED the ukelele.  Actually, all the Beatles loved the ukelele, having gained an appreciation from John’s sweet mother Julia.  If you’ve never played or heard a ukulele in person, I highly recommend it.  It’s really easy to play, and just produce the most buttery gorgeous tones.  Anyway, enjoy this video, its really something else.

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