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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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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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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The Beach Boys, Good Vibrations

Posted in The Beach Boys on August 24th, 2012 by Willie

“Good Vibrations” was never my favorite Beach Boys song.  Its taken me years of casual indifference before I really warmed up to it, and it was only when I found the song’s proverbial sunny side.  For years I was turned off by the songs aggressive psychedelic atmosphere.  I was always slightly afraid of the dark and foreboding atmosphere going on, but one day I caught the song somewhere, and it just hit me.  This is just a gentle song about falling in love, like practically every Beach Boys song.  Brian Wilson’s innocent teenage heart, his best songwriting weapon, is in full effect here through a myriad of electro-theremins.  “Good Vibrations” was set to be the dynamic first single of Smile, Brian Wilson’s answer to Sgt. Pepper.  Unfortunately it would take Brian 40 years or so to finish Smile, a reflection of the intense pressure Brian subjected himself to in the 60s.  Luckily Brian successfully over came his demons, came out of his shell, and received all the love he was deserved when his legacy got resurrected in the late 90s.  Anyway, I think this is a good point to cap my two week odyssey into the sounds of Southern California, and begin the slow sad goodbye to the summer of love.

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The Beach Boys, God Only Knows

Posted in The Beach Boys on August 21st, 2012 by Willie

After accidentally realizing that he was a musical genius, Brian Wilson stepped up his efforts by the mid 60s.  Looking for a more serious direction, he began collaborating with lyricist Tony Asher, who helped interpret Brian’s musical ideas into focused lyrical concepts.  The increased level of lyrical and musical sophistication also stretched the limits of what was acceptable in pop music in 1966.  There weren’t practically any pop songs from that era with “God” in the title, and putting that word in the title was the source of great anguish to Brian as he was convinced it would ruin the chances of the song being a hit.  It was a hit in Europe, but only a minor success in America.  The song was an even bigger hit with Wilson’s contemporaries.  Paul McCartney has consistently rated “God Only Knows” as his favorite song ever, and it clearly influenced him to keep ramping up his sophisticated brand of mid 60s pop.  The song’s success with McCartney might have actually ended up being a negative for Brian’s psyche.  McCartney was already busy with Revolver, a masterpiece that would equal, if not surpass Pet Sounds, and nary a year later Paul and the Fabs came out with Sgt. Pepper.  There was no way Brian could compete with that level of production, and the pressure to match the Beatles led to his famous nervous breakdown.  It’s really too bad because when Brian wasn’t losing his mind, he was one of the greatest songwriters in American history.  One last fun fact, its actually Carl Wilson singing the lead vocal on the track.  Brian gave his brother the vocal because he liked Carl’s natural delivery on the song.  Nice guy that Brian Wilson.

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The Beatles, Help! The Entire Film, in HD!

Posted in The Beatles on August 2nd, 2012 by Willie

One of the coolest evolutions in YouTube history was the removal of the oppressive 10 minute time limit for video clips.  Such advancements have led to the wonder of allowing the Beatles movie “Help!” to be seen and shared in its entirety, for free!  Now “Help!” is probably the least essential Beatle movie, even more so then “Magical Mystery Tour,” (also available for complete viewing on this site.)  Why?  Probably because it was their least creative, and most commercial effort.  “Help!” came out in 1965 at the tail end of the original Beatlemania ultra craze.  In this era, the Beatles were already evolving from happy go lucky rock stars into more introspective individuals, but “Help!” still captures them as inseparable best friends who all dress the same and do everything together.  During the filming, the Beatles were incredibly uninterested in its production, and were notorious for sneaking marijuana before takes constantly.  The effect is noticeable in their tired and bleary eyes and giggly unfocused performances.  Their stoned indifference really does nothing to film, already a slight and silly story about a magical ring that Ringo can’t seem to get off his finger.  Like all Beatle movies, the music, and the musical interludes are timeless.  The title song is one of John Lennon’s greatest singles, and the rest of the soundtrack hints at the creative explosion of psychedelic folk music the Beatles would explore later that year on “Rubber Soul.”  Some of my favorites include “Another Girl,” and “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl.”  Its also worth noting that George Harrison’s burgeoning obsession with the sitar began on the set of “Help!” when he started fiddling around with one played by the Indian musicians in the restaurant scene.  The video encoded below is fully remastered in beautiful HD, and it really is worth watching, especially for Beatles fans that have never seen it.  If you don’t have a lot of time, I’d recommend just skipping to any random point in the film and watching for ten minutes.  Its impossible for the film to make less sense then it already does, and you’ll likely land on a beautiful and priceless Beatle performance.  Enjoy.

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