Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Tears of a Clown

Posted in Smokey Robinson on May 16th, 2015 by Willie

tears of a clown

“If there’s a smile on my face, it’s only there trying to fool the public, but when it comes down to fooling you, now honey that’s quite a different subject.”

I don’t think there is a better opening line of lyrics and verse melody ever crafted in a pop song. It’s the perfect combination of clever introspective word play and a soaring melody that cuts through the air like a skyscraper. It’s sublime and it’s no wonder that it was crafted primarily by Motown titans Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder. In the past week, I must have played this song about 30 times on my iPod. This song has become a key part of my late Spring 2015 soundtrack as I walk around the city. The music just animates NYC as I turn corners, climb steps and gaze at crystal blue colored skies with this jam kaleidoscoping through my brain.

It’s ironic how much joy this song gives me despite it’s depressing subject matter. It’s a great breakup song with perfect rhymes. The only complaint I have is the circus like orchestral melody which is supposed to tie in with clown theme. It’s incredibly catchy and suits the song musically but I wish they made it a bit cooler and less commercial. Maybe record it with a Rhodes electric piano or a fuzzed up electric guitar line. That doesn’t matter, this song is fantastic and will probably be replayed thousands of times in the lives of the people who come to love the song. Become one of them by watching the video below.

BTW, here is the friendly reminder to check out my album “Funeral Business,” which is for sale on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon. More information on this modern rock and roll classic album masterpiece can be found by clicking here. Also, for previews of the album you can check out the cool videos on my YouTube channel or check out my Pandora radio station. Thanks for all the continued love and support!

-Willie

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My Top 100 Youtube Favorites, a Retrospective, Part 1

Posted in Youtube Favs on June 27th, 2011 by Willie

Now that my countdown is complete, I thought it’d be fun to look back at the whole list, organize it, link it up, and add a fresh comment or two for posterity’s sake.  So, without further ado, here it is, part 1 of my youtube countdown featuring the last 25 songs to appear on the list.

#100.  The Beatles, All You Need is Love – Is it my favorite Beatles song?  Not technically, but I think it’s their greatest triumph.  FYI, this video was originally in black and white until the art gurus at Apple colorized it based on photographs from the event.

#99.  The Beatles, Nowhere Man – The song that inspired me to become a Beatle slave, and a musician myself.  Fun fact, not many songs have a guitar solo after the first verse.

#98.  Tribalistas, Ja Se Namorar – 21st century island cool Brazilian pop at its finest.

#97.  Carl Perkins and Friends, Rockabilly School – One of the greatest TV concerts in rock and roll history.  Does anyone have a magic pair of blue suede shoes so I can travel back in time and be at this show?

#96.  Simon and Garfunkel, The Sounds of Silence –  You get to see S & G in all their young nerdy early 60s glory in this vid…Amazing. Read more »

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Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, Ebony and Ivory

Posted in Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Youtube Favs on June 14th, 2011 by Willie

Welcome to part 89 of my legendary youtube countdown.  Countdown to what?  I have no idea, but lets hope the world finds peace along the way.  One way to help this planet on that quest are the musical stylings of Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder singing “Ebony and Ivory” from Paul’s 1982 LP Tug of War.  By the way, pick up Tug of War if you see it sitting dusty in a record store.  It’s one of Paul’s better 80s albums produced by the legendary Beatles George Martin no less.  That record also features Paul’s tribute song to John Lennon, “Here Today,” a track I might cover in the future.  Anyway, Paul wrote this mega hit “Ebony and Ivory” after hearing an old Spike Milligan phrase, “black notes, white notes, and you need to play the two, to make harmony folks!”  Well, the phrase is right, and the song is true.  Paul and Stevie performed the song live in studio, which is always a cool yet difficult feat.  Ironically, due to scheduling conflicts, they had to film their parts in the music video separately.  It’s an amazing feat, considering they are sitting next to each other, but its just camera trickery folks.  What IS true is that they both traveled to Bolivia to dance on the world’s largest piano. ; )

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Paul McCartney Cries Listening to John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy"

Posted in John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Youtube Favs on March 20th, 2011 by Willie

In part 20 of my youtube favorites countdown, we delve a bit into the sadder side of Beatle history with a clip of Paul McCartney reflecting on the life of his then recently deceased pal John Lennon.  Now, when most people think of Paul’s reaction to John’s death, they either think of this clip where he says rather horribly, that “Its a drag,” and nothing more.

But that’s totally unfair, as Paul was probably so stunned, that he was just rambling answers to the press in hopes to just get the fuck away from them.  For a fairer look at Paul’s feelings on the subject, we have this priceless clip.

In it, we see Paul first talk about the old days at the Cavern Club, going on about “Searchin’,” an old Coasters song.  I love his imitation of teenage John’s singing, its borderline mocking, but you could tell he really loved him.  Then the clip skips to Paul playing John’s “Beautiful Boy,” from John’s last record Double Fantasy.  Paul immediately wells up  and starts singing along.  It’s a touching moment.  I’ve read quotes about how around this era, Paul was desperate to write with John again, and it shows here.  It’s a magic bond thing Paul tried to recreate with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, and Michael Jackson, but never came close to finding.  However, I have read a lot about how the ice between the two was beginning to crack around this time, and that a reunion was inevitable.  It’s not well known, but a reunion was in the works for over a decade, as they all agreed to create the “Anthology” project long before it had a name.  They were very cognizant of managing their legacy and Beatle empire in the coming years, and John was to play a big role in it.  Why?  Because what was becoming evident was, since they broke up, the Beatles popularity and myth continued to explode, and they were consistently among, if not the top sellers in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, in all commercial music.  In fact, people don’t really understand that the reason Paul, George, and Ringo united to do the “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” singles was because they knew, had John lived, a reunion of some form or another was likely in the late 80s or early 90s.  Well, anyway, you can read more about that stuff on wikipedia’s history of the Beatles Anthology by clicking these words, but for now, enjoy this great clip, and genuine moment.

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We are the World, and the Rest of You Can Watch…

Posted in Michael Jackson, Youtube Favs on February 17th, 2011 by Willie

Continuing the journey down my youtube favorites list, I give you the infamous “We Are the World.”  This tune was written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson sometime in 1985, as a response to the horrendous Ethiopian famine which killed over a million people.  I guess it did some good as it raised between 50-60 million dollars according to Wikipedia, which is all well and good, but honestly, no one remembers the humanitarian crisis, but rather the image of all those super famous humans gathering in one room to belt out this piece of classic schmaltz.  Now, from a distance, this song really sucks.  Its cheesy, overwrought, and covered with a layer of outdated 80s glitter, but still, there is no denying the underlying charm of all these ultra-stars, and a few artists manage to give this thing some heat by the end.  Here are a few random comments I have for you before enjoy the vid.

#1.  Billy Joel, I love you, but go home, also that goes double for Kenny Loggins (for sucking), Kenny Rogers and Paul Simon (for making insanely strange faces.)

#2. Bruce Springsteen, you absolutely RULE the end of the song when you manage to hold your own with Stevie Wonder, but wouldn’t like you like a new take of your first line earlier in the song?  You make this face in which you look like you were shot in the stomach.  Although, I gotta hand it to him overall, this is the coolest look he ever had.  He’s like a combination of Elvis, the Fonz, and Dean Martin.  Man, what a rock star.

#3. We can all agree, this is Steve Perry’s greatest moment in music history. I think Journey is horrible, but what a soaring voice this guy has.

#4.  This video marked the beginning of when Michael Jackson thought it was a good idea to basically dress up as the fifth member of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band…for the rest of his life.

#5.  The story goes that Prince skipped out on the recording of this song for some ego bruised reason…which, ironically makes Prince the most genuine superstar out of this whole group.  Why?  Because Prince wasn’t about to pretend he didn’t have an ego, unlike every single one of these stars, who tried their damnedest to make you believe they were selfless.

#6.  And lastly, Bob Dylan and his disciple Bruce Springsteen are dressed exactly the same.  Must have been awkward…

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The Jackson 5 Singing I'll Be There and Rockin Robin, Acapella!

Posted in Michael Jackson, The Jackson 5, Youtube Favs on February 16th, 2011 by Willie

Welcome to Part 2 of all the youtube videos I’ve favorited in the past 3 years.  And because its part 2, I’m giving you a double dip of J5.  I must have favorited these right after Michael Jackson died a few summers ago.  A little cheesy, but still an incredible display of raw talent.  Michael Jackson was clearly one of the greatest childhood prodigies of all time, right up there with Stevie Wonder and Mozart.  I found these videos from a series of youtube videos featuring just the vocal tracks of all the Motown greats.  Worth searching around for all of those.

I’ll Be There

Rockin Robin

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