A Few Moments with Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell first came into my consciousness more than 20 years ago when Prince mentioned her as one of his biggest influences in an interview. He’s covered Joni’s “A Case of You” (“U”, naturally, when Prince does it) over the years, and “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” has that Joni influence as well.

Oh, I’ve heard “Big Yellow Taxi”, and I’ve seen her sing with The Band in The Last Waltz. But beyond that, not much Joni in my life.

But I heard her new single, “Shine”, in the car a few weeks ago (on Sirius of course – “terrestrial” radio would never play such a song – at least not in Phoenix: Radio Wasteland America). It’s a beautiful, fascinating song. I can’t quite measure the feeling it gives me. It’s contentment, but guilt. Joy and sadness, if that’s possible. Just read her amazing lyrics to this song. Well, listen first, then go back and read along the second time.

It’s raining steadily outside right now for the first time in ages. Has been all day. It’s dark, quiet, and all I hear are the rain and this beatiful song. They perfectly complement each other.

Joni Mitchell – Shine (mp3)

Buy: Shine

Joni’s Official Site

Citizen Cope – D’Artagnan’s Theme

I’ve been meaning to post this song for a while now. And it’s Michael’s great Alice Smith post that spurred me into action. Alice had been opening up for Citizen Cope on his recent tour.

Cope is the pseudonym of Clarence Greenwood, and I’ve been enjoying his last couple of albums – 2004’s The Clarence Greenwood Recordings and last year’s Every Waking Moment – for a while now. They truly surprise me, as they seem to get better and better the more I listen. It was one of those iTunes shuffle moments when this song came up, and made me stop what I was doing to enjoy the laid back, semi-sad vibe.

D’Artagnan refers to Charles de Batz-Castelmore, Comte d’Artagnan, one of the the fictionalized Three Musketeers. I can’t quite figure out who the protagonist is, but the lyrics evoke an outlaw type who has no time for the woman he’s singing to.

Well I don’t know how else to say it
In a different way
But why don’t you just fade away
‘Cause there’s a battle going on
Down south of Babylon
So why don’t you just fade away

The tune is a breeze on the acoustic guitar. C-F-G. Impress your family and friends!

This one comes from The Clarence Greenwood Recordings….

Buy: The Clarence Greenwood Recordings | Every Waking Moment

Citizen Cope on Citizen Cope

Citizen Cope’s Official Site

Mmmemphis

I missed Cry Cry Cry, a folk supergroup of sorts, the first time around. The group was made up of Dar Williams, Lucy Kaplanski, and Richard Sindell. They released only one album, in 1999.

I sure am glad I heard this song a few weeks ago on Sirius Disorder. It’s really one of the most beautiful and bittersweet songs I’ve come across in a while.

“I saw my choices, and I chose Memphis, now all I can see is you.”

Cry Cry Cry Memphis (mp3)

Buy Cry Cry Cry.

Simple Twist of Fate, Jerry-Style

Jerry Garcia Band

Regardless of your general palate for the Grateful Dead, it’s pretty hard to listen to this version of the Bob Dylan-penned “Simple Twist of Fate” and not be moved. Whether it’s Garcia’s pleading and perfect vocal, or his crisp and cascading guitar solos, this performance is simply gorgeous.

The Jerry Garcia Band was Jerry’s opportunity to let loose and play some of his favorite music outside of the Dead “scene”, from Dylan to Motown to gospel. And in my opinion, it got no better than this…

Jerry Garcia BandSimple Twist of Fate (mp3)

Buy: Jerry Garcia Band

Back in time with Shaw / Blades Influence

Shaw Blades

A Shaw / Blades post seemed to be inevitable: seeing them on VH1-Classic one afternoon, hearing them on Howard Stern the following week, and then being approached by a friend, demanding Shaw / Blades exposure on Ickmusic. So here goes…

Jack Blades, formerly of 80’s super hair-pop group Night Ranger, and Tommy Shaw, singer / guitarist for Styx, first joined together as two members of Damn Yankees (along with the Nuge) in 1990. Seventeen years later, the two are still collaborating, as Shaw / Blades. Influence, released in February, is actually their second release. Hallucination was released back in 1995.

Influence, as the title suggests, is a journey through the classic tunes of yesteryear that influenced the two. They take on tunes by the likes of Buffalo Springfield, the Zombies, and Yes. But they also show their soft sides by covering Orleans, Seals & Crofts, and the Mamas & the Papas. Well actually, soft is a theme throughout the album. They put the soft, smooth, seventies lite-rock twist on every tune on it.

It’s nothing groundbreaking by any means. The covers stay very true to the originals. But it’s … nice. Shaw and Blades are two very down to earth, likeable guys. And they’re sharing the music that means something in their lives. You can’t knock that. And to the fans who have followed them through their careers – like my friend Shannon – it means something to them too.

Shaw/Blades: Time of the Season (mp3) -originally by the Zombies

Buy:

Track List:
1. Summer Breeze (Seals & Crofts)
2. Time Of The Season (Zombies)
3. Your Move (Yes)
4. I Am A Rock (Simon & Garfunkel)
5. Lucky Man (Emerson, Lake and Palmer)
6. The Sound Of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel)
7. California Dreamin'(Mamas & Papas)
8. On A Carousel (the Hollies)
9. Dirty Work (Steely Dan)
10. For What It’s Worth (Buffalo Springfield)
11. Dance With Me (Orleans)

Shaw / BladesOfficial Site | MySpace

Luna’s Waiting on a Friend

Luna

I could easily sit down, bring up the Stones’ “Waiting on a Friend” in iTunes, put it on repeat, and listen to it for 24 straight hours. Love the song, always have, and never tire of hearing it. So I was intrigued today when I was nerdily scouring my web site statistics, and noticed someone had hit my site by searching for “Luna – Waiting on a Friend”. I have Luna’s 1994 release ‘Bewitched‘, which I really like (especially “Great Jones Street”), but I haven’t heard much Luna since. But I certainly am familiar with their soothing vibe.

So off I went to eMusic to download post haste. And I’m glad I did. They put their laid back twist on a great song, and though no one will ever touch the original, this is a great second.

Luna: Waiting on a Friend (mp3) – from Close Cover Before Striking

Luna’s Official Site

Here’s some more mp3’s from their official site.

Listen to Lanois

lanois

I finally picked up my first Daniel Lanois solo album. Every time I’ve heard his solo stuff I’ve been drawn to it: spare, atmospheric, and rich. Lanois, of course, is the producer extraordinaire behind U2, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan, and scores of other artists. From 1988 to 2001, he set up shop in Kingsway Studios on Esplanade Avenue in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Here’s a taste from Shine, his 2003 release. Bono joins him on this one. It was written during the All You Can’t Leave Behind sessions.

Daniel Lanois: Falling At Your Feet (mp3)

Daniel Lanois’ Official Site.

Buy Shine…….
Shine

Koop Island Blues

koop

I heard this on Radio Paradise yesterday, and was instantly forced into stress-free relaxation mode. Koop is a group from Stockholm, Sweden, led by Magnus Zingmark and Oscar Simonsson. They’ve got some very cool jazz and swing vibes going on. As it’s put in their bio: “the swing of the 1930s, the exoticism of forgotten orchestras and entertainers performing on late 40s yacht cruises to Jamaica.”

They have Japanese singer Yukimi Nagano singing on a few tracks on their latest album, Koop Island, including this song. Her voice just puts me in a nice place.

Koop: Koop Island Blues (mp3)

Buy Koop Island (only available as an import in the US).

Watch a short YouTube clip of Koop with Yukimi Nagano.

Koop’s Web Site | MySpace