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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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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Mad Men, The Eleanor Rigby Experiment

Posted in Mad Men, The Beatles on July 5th, 2012 by Willie

One of the most exciting elements of the latest season of Mad Men was how the series creator, Matthew Weiner, somehow scored the rights to broadcast an actual Beatles song on his show.  The Beatles had never allowed their actual recordings to be directly featured in a television show, and have rarely allowed the privilege in movies.  It was interesting to read of how Weiner managed to pull off the feat.  It wasn’t an issue of money, though the price of airing the culturally priceless cut from Revolver, “Tomorrow Never Knows,” wasn’t cheap, but rather, he needed to get approval from Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, and Olivia Harrison.  Weiner took a big risk because securing the rights for the song meant having the Beatle people approving the script for a television show with a limited window for production time.  If his plan failed, he’d have to drastically alter the episode on short notice.  Luckily, his ploy worked, and us die hard Mad Men fans finally got to hear the musical group that dominated the decade in which the fictional show takes place.  In the original scene, Don Draper, feeling out of touch with the musical trends of 1966, asks his wife to bring him up to date on what the Beatles were up.  She gives him Revolver, and tells him to play “Tomorrow Never Knows,” the last, and most avant-garde far out psychedelic track on the legendary LP.  Don Draper dutifully plays the track, pours a drink, and tries to get into it.  As John Lennon drones on, we are treated to a montage of various characters that gets abruptly shut off when Don angrily stops the song midway through.  This scene annoyed me for a few critical reasons.  First of all, his wife, Megan, should have just told him to play the album from the start.  Don would have appreciated the conservative wit and word games of George Harrison’s “Taxman.”  Then, I have no doubt, that when “Eleanor Rigby’s” gorgeous harmonies and fast paced string quartet struck, that would have hooked him.  It’s the sort of song that speaks to Don’s character, a tale of anonymous lonely people living futile lives.  The pure black and white beauty of the song, combined with the commercial accessibility that only Paul McCartney can manufacture, might have stunned him emotionally and kept him listening.  Playing “Tomorrow Never Knows,” to someone who hasn’t heard too many Beatles songs,out of the blue, even in the year 2012, is just not the best way to indoctrinate a potential Beatle enthusiast.  I think Weiner chose the song because he wanted to contrast the insanely advanced sonic world the Beatles were operating in, with the old fashioned world that Don and many of his contemporaries were still living in, in 1966.  That in itself is cool, but to me, Don needed to hear a few other songs first before diving off the Tibetan Book of the Dead deep end.  So, I have rectified the situation.  The video I present below substitutes “Tomorrow Never Knows,” with “Eleanor Rigby.”  The montage of shots that follow are also of my choosing.  I tried to match the song to what I considered some of the most striking scenes and images from Season 5.  I also tried matching the images to the song in a loose abstract way.  All in all, I think it came out very well, and am very excited to share it.  Mad Men is currently my favorite TV show, and it goes without saying that the Beatles are my favorite band ever, so getting to mess around with two things I love so much was just a lot of fun.  So, enjoy it, and feel free to share it around town.

Mad Men, The Eleanor Rigby Experiment from Willie Simpson on Vimeo.

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Paul McCartney, Coming Up

Posted in Paul McCartney on June 27th, 2012 by Willie

This is my all time favorite solo Paul McCartney music video.  It would have been on the site years ago, but I could never find a version of it on youtube that I was able to embed on my website.  Those days are over, so, at long last, I can proudly paste “Coming Up,” on williesimpson.com.  The song, which kicked off the otherwise disappointing McCartney II, is one of solo Paul’s best ever.  Its a bubbling psychedelic techno folk anthem of positivity.  The song, and its genius accompanying video which debuted on Saturday Night Live, was so good, that it kicked a then retired John Lennon in the balls to start making pop music again.  John famously claimed that he couldn’t get the song out of his head, and also thought that he could do exactly what Paul was doing, saturating the pop music scene with delicious little throwaway pop numbers.  Personally, I believe it was the first ember that would spark the eventual reunion that never happened in the late 80s/early 90s.  I’ve posted about it before, but what people don’t really understand about the Beatles Anthology, was that it was decades in the making, with John having a firm hand in its creation, all with the idea that some sort of reunion would happen one day on an important anniversary.  Despite John’s needing to distance himself from the whole Beatle circus, he knew deep down that it was a special achievement in his life, and that one day, he’d have to take the effort to put the Beatle thing its place and history, from his, and the other Beatles’ perspectives.  Anyway, that is stuff that has little to do with “Coming Up,” and its hilarious music video that you should watch right now.  “Feel it in my bones!”

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The Beatles, If I Needed Someone

Posted in The Beatles on June 20th, 2012 by Willie

“If I Needed Someone” written by George Harrison in 1965, is one of my all time favorite songs.  George was listening to the Byrds, especially Roger McGuinn’s “The Bells of Rhymeny,” which George based his guitar riff on.  Like all great artists, the Beatles stole from other great artists, but what was special about them was how honest and appreciative they were of the source inspirations.  Before the song was released, George sent Roger a recording of the song and a note extolling the influence McGuinn had on George in that era.  The Beatles made few, if any, enemies of their contemporaries in their era.  The song is a gorgeous effort by George, fully fitting in the Rubber Soul vibe of heavy harmony and folk rock psychedelia.  I also like the bizarre message that the lyrics paint.  George is saying to a potential girlfriend that he would date her in a minute if he wasn’t already in love, but please, leave your phone number in case something happens.  Its kind of a dicey, yet honest admission from an international rock star who happened to be married.  For me though, the song’s greatest attribute is the full throated three part harmony courtesy of John, Paul, and George.  It’s powerful and wistful at the same time, and there is something tragically nostalgic in the sound of it, much like John and Paul’s “In My Life.”  The video below was made by the fantastic youtube uploader named Beatles Mirko, who finds and assembles some of the best Beatles clips on the internet, so thanks to him for cobbling together this nice video featuring performances of the song from their legendary Tokyo concert.

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23 Year Old Michael Jordan With David Letterman

Posted in David Letterman, Michael Jordan on June 16th, 2012 by Willie

I just tuned into the fabulous new documentary on the 1992 Dream Team, the magical group of Olympic All-Stars led by Michael Jordan.  If you grew up as a kid in the 90s like I did, Michael Jordan was the closest thing to experiencing Babe Ruth.  It didn’t matter what team you were a fan of, watching Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dominate basketball was a thrill right out of a comic book.  Jordan played with passion, creativity, and inspiration, and he came to represent the icon of American achievement, proudly setting the bar for success higher and higher.  The thing I like most about Michael was that he never shrank from the spotlight and never felt embarrassed to be who he was.  Many icons of sports and popular culture exude a bitterness and resentment in the face of overwhelming media attention and praise, but Michael embraced it and owned it.  Criticism did grow around Jordan, concerning the colossal commercialization of his name and likeness, but I always felt that criticism was a bit wrong headed. While it was certainly true that Michael lent his name to anyone with a big enough paycheck, he never pretended that it wasn’t anything other than enjoying the spoils of money and fame.  His appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman when he was then just a 23 years old emerging phenomenon, shows Michael constructing this public identity, which was a cross between a crass walking commercial, and, somehow, an unpretentious everyman burning with the universal desire to be great.  Letterman, also young and spry, does his part in helping create the myth and legend, and the clip below is just a lot of fun.

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Nancy Sinatra, You Only Live Twice, Mad Men Season Finale

Posted in Mad Men, Nancy Sinatra on June 11th, 2012 by Willie

Mad Men is a hell of a show.  When it first premiered, I was intrigued because I loved the Sopranos, and knew that Matthew Weiner, one of that shows head writers, was behind its creation.  At first I wasn’t hooked.  I thought many of the characters were overly stylized and inauthentic.  I also thought much of the first season’s hook was portraying the chauvinistic and racist world that world that was very much in full swing in the early 1960s.  So, after a few episodes, I stayed away from Mad Men, casually sympathizing with those who thought the show to be an over-hyped and empty experience.  The show drew me back though after the conclusion of season 2.  I had caught a few more episodes, and was reluctantly entertained.  When I made an effort to follow up on several of the episodes’ smokey cliffhangers, the reluctance was gone, and I was hooked.  This past week, in gearing up for the season 5 conclusion, I found myself looking back at season 1 with fresh eyes, re-watching classic moments from other moments of the show, like how the characters react to the Kennedy assassination, and all around just soaking in the smugly rewarding atmosphere that indulging in this show offers.  Season 5 ended last night, and I am a bit sad because it was my favorite season by far.  At last, in the midst of season 5, and to apparent great expense, the Beatles were heard on the show.  Hearing “Tomorrow Never Knows,” from Revolver, finally filled a great cultural void that existed only due to the near impossibility of getting all the Beatle heirs to agree to allow a real Beatle master tape to be played on television.  It was immensely satisfying as a Beatle fan to hear the group that could not be avoided in the real 60s, to finally find a place in the fictional Mad Men 60s.  Then there was the inevitable LSD episode, also executed brilliantly, capturing an unsensationalized and mature look at that curious drug’s power, a welcome change of pace from the countless overblown depictions of the drug and its effects across the span of pop culture history.  Those highlights aside, the season was full of the same witty writing, stunning dramatics, and impeccable set and prop design which are the show’s hallmarks.  Season 5 ended like many Mad Men episodes do, with a montage of our favorite characters in their most private and isolated moments, all set to “You Only Live Twice,” by Nancy Sinatra.  Nancy had some spellbinding hits throughout the 60s, really capturing the more “swinging” side of the 60s through her cinematic cool anthems.  This song, known mainly as a James Bond theme song, finds new life spilling over the secret worlds of our favorite group of spiritually desolated protagonists.  I’ve got the song below, but I do want to close by saying that if you’ve had reservations about Mad Men, drop them.  Start with season 2 and either work yourself forward or backwards.  Like I said, its a hell of a show.

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The Kinks, Rats

Posted in The Kinks on April 2nd, 2012 by Willie

I was wandering around New York City feeling depressed as hell last week when “Rats” by the Kinks popped on my iPod.  It was the kind of song just randomly on my music player without my knowledge, and without me ever hearing it before.  It immediately altered my mood from depressed and sad, to something rocking, vicious, and righteous.  In this digital world where our music collections have outgrown our capacity to possibly hear it all, its a beautiful feeling when a song strikes you like a bolt from the blue.  “Rats” was written by Ray’s overshadowed brother Dave, the lead guitarist of the Kinks, and its just an awesome paranoid rocker about being lost in a city and being bitten by human vermin.  The song has some destructive non-corny power chords, and a driving forceful melody of power.  It’s become one of my favorite new Kinks songs, and it gets my pick of rocking song of the month, a category I just invented.  There is no proper music video of the song, so I’ll just post the youtube still….I’ve gotten heavily into video editing, so perhaps I’ll make my own video for this overlooked gem soon…Look out for it.

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John Lennon, New York City, Live in Madison Square Garden

Posted in John Lennon, Youtube Favs on March 9th, 2012 by Willie

Well, I’m back in America, the land I love, and the city that made me, New York.  After 48 hours of near continuous travel by boat, car, and plane, I’ve made it home to Brooklyn.  Over the last five months I’ve been to Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Bangkok, and Railay Beach in southern Thailand.  For someone who has never left the USA before, and never really planned to, it was an eye opening experience.  I found people in the Australasia region to be both extremely warm and friendly, and positive to Americans especially because they love Barrack Obama.  Thanks Mr. President for making Americans cool again overseas.  I’ve also arrived just in time for the American Spring, which will lead right into summer, giving me 3 summers in a row, suck it winter.  I’ve only been in New York for 24 hours, but I’m already looking for a new apartment, been invited to a musical, and eaten the most delicious NYC bagel I’ve ever had.  To celebrate even further, I’m posting John Lennon’s performance of “New York City,” from his fabled Madison Square Concert live performance.  I’ve already linked to performances of “Come Together,”  “Mother,” and “Cold Turkey,” from the same concert, so it doesn’t hurt to keep globbing on more of the same Lennony goodness.  Anyway, it’s good to be back, and it’s good to be home, and I look forward to resuming my daily activities of providing you with the best rock and roll music in the world.

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WillieSimpson.com One Year Anniversary! The Beatles, Birthday

Posted in The Beatles, Youtube Favs on February 12th, 2012 by Willie

One year ago, as a birthday present to myself, I launched williesimpson.com to a total of 12 viewers, 99% of those viewers being myself, and even I wasn’t impressed.  Yes, the start was slow, but over the course of the year, after presenting a top 100 list of my favorite youtube videos, being nominated for CBS’s best NYC blogger, and updating you fine folks from all over the world with my own homemade music, I’d like to say that the site has really gained its wings, all with practically zero publicity.  Over the past year, I’ve had close to 140,000 page views, from every state in America, and practically every country in the world.  It’s astounding, and a fantastic motivator to keep going.  The site, if you’ve noticed, has been on a bit of a hiatus the last two weeks as I transition for the last leg of my international journey.  For those not aware, I have been spending time in the beautiful Sydney, Australia the last 5 months.  I’m going to spend the next month in Thailand, and will have very limited internet access.  The site will kick into full gear again around late March, when I return to New York City, so stay tuned.  Lastly, I couldn’t have an update without some music, and I couldn’t celebrate an anniversary without the Beatles.  So here is some cobbled together fake live performance of “Birthday,” the Beatles White Album thriller for you all to enjoy.  Again, thanks a lot to everyone, I couldn’t do it without you.

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