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Old 04-15-2017, 01:13 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Title: “Clair de Lune”
Artiste: Claude Debussey
Nationality: French
Year: 1905
Genre: Classical
Subgenre:
Source: n/a
Written by: Claude Debussey
Chart position(s) (Singles only): n/a
Storyline: n/a
Main instrument: Piano
Other version(s) by: Too numerous to mention; classical standard
Comments: I don't know too much of Debussey's work (that will change once I get my arse in gear and sort out my History of Classical Music – no, I haven't forgotten it! - but I do know this piece, as do most aficionados of good classical music. Even if you're not one, you'll surely have heard it as it's been used in ads, films, on TV, just about everywhere. One of the most relaxing piano pieces, along with Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and Chopin's Nocturnes that you will ever hear. Just beautiful. Ethereal, fragile, sad, dreamy, emotional, powerful, wistful, and so much more.
Rating:
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Old 12-03-2021, 02:44 PM   #22 (permalink)
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With the resurrection of my thread on rock/metal ballads recently I remembered this journal and went looking for it. Right at the back of a dusty cupboard in the farthest recesses of the mustiest vault, accessible only by crossing a very rickety bridge over a gaping chasm, fording three brooks, each more babbling than the last, creeping past the sleeping dragon and finally abseiling down a sheer cliff face - or maybe just clicking the mouse a few times - I found it, and here it is. Hasn’t been updated in four years now, so let’s deal with that.

Title: “Where Did Your Heart Go?”
Artist: Wham!
Nationality: English
Year: 1986
Genre: Pop
Source: Album The Final (also appears on the compilation Music From the Edge of Heaven)
Written by: Dave Was/Don Was
Chart position(s) (Singles only): 50 (technically no. 1 as the B-side of Edge of Heaven, but I don’t think that counts)
Storyline: The usual thing about a breakup, with the man in the somewhat uncustomary role of the one being left behind and wondering why it all fell apart.
Main instrument: Acoustic Guitar
Other version(s) by: Was (Not Was) which was the original
Comments: When I first heard this I do admit that I thought "hold on, that's a Wham! song! That's pretty damn good!" but I more or less steered clear of it because of who Wham! were, and how much I, at the time, hated them for their pretty-boy image and dominance of the charts with uptempo, dancy, pop tunes. This was taken from the last album released by Wham! in 1986, Music From the Edge of Heaven as well as The Final, the latter of which was basically a greatest hits album, both released just prior to the band breaking up ahead of George Michael's shot at the solo limelight. It was also the B-side of their last number one hit single, the eponymous "Edge of Heaven". It makes a lot more sense to me now that I read that the song is in fact a cover version, which is not surprising as it was, at the time, totally different to anything else these guys had released. In fact, the only song comparable at all is 1984's "Careless Whisper" from the second album, and when released as a single it was credited to Michael only, and in effect became his first number one.

"Where Did Your Heart Go?" was originally written by and performed by electro/funk/disco outfit Was (Not Was), best known for their hit “Walk the Dinosaur”, but this did not chart for them. In fairness, Wham! Had as little success really, as it barely scraped into the top fifty, unless you count its presence as one of three - count ‘em, three! - B-sides to the final single “Edge of Heaven”, which took the number one spot in 1986. When George Michael rearranged it for Wham! - Andrew Ridgeley not only had no input into the process but it looks to me like he didn't even play on the song - he kept it fairly true to the original, and the result is a laid back, soft, melancholy love song that yearns for answers to questions that rarely yield such. It has some lovely smooth sax care of Andy Hamilton, and quite a downtempo South American feel to it. Although not his own composition, it shows the direction George Michael was leaning in, and foreshadows great ballads like "Father Figure", "A Different Corner" and "Kissing a Fool"; more mature, thoughtful songs that would often take a look at social issues, and culminate in, for me, his most telling and powerful song, "Mother's Pride".

It's clear at this point that Ridgeley is surplus to requirements, and Michael does not need him. He has built his career to date on the success of Wham! but he knows he is the only real member: he writes almost all the songs, does the arrangement and production, and takes the lion's share of the vocal duties. He is, quite literally, the voice of Wham! and everyone knows it. No-one is going to wonder what happened to "the other guy", and indeed Ridgeley will later give up the pretence of a musical career. But this song does show that George was beginning perhaps to realise that the Wham! formula had been stretched as far as it could reasonably be expected to be, and it was time for a change. The party was over, but for him, a whole new one beckoned.

This is as I say a total step away from anything Wham! had done before. The guys who brought us “Young Guns (Go For It)”, “Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)” and “Club Tropicana” had only attempted the odd ballad over two albums and several top ten singles. The little girls didn’t want that, perhaps, or maybe they just didn’t feel it fit in with their image. It’s also possible that writing a ballad might have taken more out of Michael (look, just forget about Ridgeley will you? The guy was nothing more than the equivalent of a session guitarist and another face to put on the album so that they had a duo to work with) who slowly grew into his songwriting. Either way, this song can’t be credited to him, since as I say it’s a cover, but I do like the idea of sort of reversing the theme of “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” where it asks “Where did your heart go? Did you put it on a train? Did you leave it in the rain or down in Mexico?” It’s also slightly atypical as it sees the man, not the woman, dumped, and wondering what went wrong.

While it was a little late to be saying “look! Wham! are a serious band” - they were breaking up - this really could be credited as a George Michael song. Sure, he didn’t write it, but he did arrange and produce it, and of course sing it, and to be perfectly honest, I think he should have kept it for his debut solo album, rather than kind of wasting it here as a B-side and then a non-charting single. I’m actually surprised it didn’t do better than it did, but then maybe I’m not. Maybe that shows the priorities of the teenies who shook their booties and screamed to “Wake Me Up (Before You Go-go)” and “I’m Your Man”, and indeed “Edge of Heaven”, many of whom may not even have bothered with the B-side. Wham! fans were not the correct audience for this song, and I feel George Michael fans would have responded to it better, once he had shrugged off once and for all the memory of that group.

Nevertheless, it stands for me as a very clear signpost to what Michael would achieve in his too-short musical career, how mature he already had become in musical terms, and how already he knew a damn good song when he heard it, even if his fans didn’t.
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Last edited by Trollheart; 12-03-2021 at 03:11 PM.
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Old 12-03-2021, 03:56 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Title: “For the Good Times”
Artist: Perry Como (yeah yeah shut up)
Nationality: American
Year: 1973 (original version 1968)
Genre: Easy Listening (written though as a country song)
Source: No idea; a million “best of” Perry Como albums. I think I heard it on Perry Como: 20 Golden Greats but I couldn’t swear to it.Oh no wait: it’s on And I Love You So, as shown above.
Written by: Kris Kristofferson
Chart position(s) (Singles only): 1
Storyline: A man and woman spend a last night together before breaking up forever.
Main instrument: Orchestra
Other version(s) by: Bill Nash (1968) Ray Price, Kris Kristofferson, Lynn Anderson (1970), Andy Williams, Loretta Lynn (1971), Al Green, Jerry Lee Lewis (1972), Tennessee Ernie Ford and Glen Campbell (1975), Rita Coolidge (1984 and again in 1996), Johnny Cash (2010; posthumously) and a ton of others including Sinatra, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson and Michael Jackson.
Comments: Look, just fuck off will you? Yes, I used to take my mother’s records and play them. It was a time when money was tight, I wasn’t working and there was no such thing as the internet, streaming or YouTube, and I got bored listening to my collection of about 400 albums after a few years. I listened to Barry Manilow (I SAID, shut UP!), Johnny Mathis, Elkie Brooks and Andy Williams (look, I won’t tell you again…) and found that there is some damn fine music there. This was one of the favourites for me on her Perry Como album (I don’t know; I think it was something like 20 Golden Greats or some other inspired title for a greatest hits album. The cover was green. I think) and it’s a beautiful song, treated with Como’s trademark croon and perfect diction. I love that about these sort of songs: there’s no dropping of g’s - it’s always dreaming not dreamin’ - and all words are perfectly and fully enunciated, with "and" being "and" not "an'", "why don’t you" being just that instead of "why don’t ya" and "I want to", never "I wanna". Class.

But at its heart, this song, written by country supremo and star of the movie Convoy Kris Kristofferson, is a man getting laid one last time before he breaks up with the woman. The reason for the split is not alluded to; he just turns to her in bed and says “I know it’s over” and then comes out with all sorts of platitudes, such as “life goes on and this old world will keep on turning”, assuring her that she’ll “find another” and that he’ll “be there if you should find you ever need me.” Yeah, right. As sentiments go, it’s pretty selfish and heartless, though in fairness I can’t say his woman is feeling and doing the very same thing, getting some before leaving him. Still, the song does open with the words “Don’t look so sad, I know it’s over”, which could be interpreted two ways.

It could be that she was about to tell him she was leaving but he’s telling her he knows and understands, or he could have just dropped the bombshell on her and she’s now processing it. If the latter, he doesn’t give her much time to get her head around it before she’s, um, getting something else around something else, if ya catch my drift. But for all that, the imagery is gorgeous - “Hear the whisper of the raindrops falling soft across the window” - and then that’s kind of taken off by his request “Make believe you love me one more time.” So we’re back to the question: is she leaving him? She must be, if he wants her to pretend she loves him, but then again… well, this could go on forever. Being originally a country song (and written by not only a man, but a man’s man - remember “Help Me Make It Through the Night”?) you would have to assume it’s written very much from a dominant male perspective. Really, the only country songs that look sympathetically at a woman’s plight tend to be written by, well, women. What about “Ruby (Don’t Take Your Love to Town)”? Hardly an understanding woman in that, is there?

The song has become so popular and famous that both Como AND Andy Williams (who I tend to see almost as twins separated at birth, and hell, throw in Val Doonican and you have triplets) covered it, as did a whole host of other people, shown above. Even ol’ Blue Eyes himself had a go, Michael Jackson sung it to his mother on her birthday (wait, what? That’s an odd song to sing to yer ma! “And I Love You So” maybe. “It’s Impossible”, sure, but this? “Lay your head on my what, son?”) and country legend Willie Nelson had a go too. Even the Man in Black recorded a version, just prior to his passing, which was released after his death.

It would probably be interesting to see what the other versions are like, especially the earlier, presumably more country ones, but I’m a busy man and time does not wait for me so here’s the version I know and love, and even if you think Perry Como’s surname is misspelt, you need a heart of stone not to be just a little moved by this.
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