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Old 04-10-2017, 03:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Lights Down Low: Trollheart's Journal of Ballads and Slow Songs


You guys know how I love my slow songs. Ballads, love songs, all that stuff. If I rate an album track by track it's likely the slow songs are going to get the highest ratings, not always but very often. Not all slow songs of course have to be love songs, but there's nothing I like more than a nice solo piano, soft acoustic guitar or maybe some cello or violin, or a smoky sax, maybe a mandolin: hell, some orchestral strings really get me going! So that's rather obviously what I'll be doing here: talking about my favourite slow songs, classics, ones I know, ones I discover, and as slow songs are pretty much universal no matter the genre or subgenre – with the possible exception of Grindcore and Punk – the songs here will cover every type of music I can manage to listen to.

I'll be breaking down each song into various categories, rating it and dropping in the video, talking about it as much as I can, and perhaps on occasion comparing it to others, or even cover versions of the same song. If you want to suggest a slow song, go ahead, though I have a wealth of material to work with anyway. I think it goes without saying there will be no albums reviewed here, just single tracks, unless I happen across something so impressive that I simply have to review it. I doubt that will happen.

So let's kick things off with this one, which you may or may not know.


Title: “We've Got Tonite”
Artiste: Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
Nationality: American
Year: 1978
Genre: Rock
Subgenre: Americana, Heartland Rock, Country Rock
Source: 1978 album Stranger in Town
Written by: Bob Seger
Chart position(s) (Singles only): US: 13, UK: 41
Storyline: Two lonely people in a (perhaps) hotel or motel, the one trying to convince the other (presumably both strangers to each other, tying in with the title of the album) to stay for the night.
Main instrument: Piano
Other version(s) by: Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton (1983), Ronan Keating and Lulu (2002)
Comments: Stranger in Town is one of my favourite Seger albums, certainly from his seventies period, and it might seem odd to anyone who knows Seger that I prefer it to 1976's more popular Night Moves, but I feel the latter is a weaker album that stands on its singles – as in fairness does Stranger in Town, but whereas the former tails off with the last three tracks (in my opinion), the latter never flags even once, and this despite having a rare cover, Frankie Miller's “Ain't got no money” on it. This was one of the first Seger songs I heard, and I loved it right away, and it led to a lifelong love affair with the man's music which has continued to this day. Bob isn't the kind of artiste that most people dig (or will admit to anyway), straddling as he does the tenuous divide between Country and Rock or Pop, perhaps as The Eagles did, but I love his music and this song gets me every time.

From the opening piano lines and Bob's tired appeal to his lover “I know it's late/ I know you're weary/ I know your plans don't include me” to the powerful midsection where it builds up on the superb Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and those soulful female backing singers, this song hits all the right spots. Love it. I hated when Kenny Rogers covered it and annoyingly, duetting with Sheena Easton, changed the lyric to “Why don't we stay” instead of the original "Why don't you stay", which kind of made no real sense. Stick to your islands in the stream, Kenny, and leave Bob's music alone.
Rating:
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Old 04-10-2017, 04:12 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Sorry, could a kind mod please remove the "t" from after the word "slow" in the title, as I can't change it now? So that's change "slowt" to "slow". Thanks.
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Old 04-10-2017, 04:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 04-10-2017, 04:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Title: “Bright Eyes”
Artiste: Art Garfunkel
Nationality: American
Year: 1979
Genre: Soft Rock
Subgenre:
Source: Art Garfunkel 1979 album Fate for Breakfast and Watership Down OST, 1978
Written by: Mike Batt
Chart position(s) (Singles only): UK: 1
Storyline: A song depicting the short lifespan of a rabbit, as depicted in the movie Watership Down
Main instrument: Acoustic guitar
Other version(s) by:
Comments: It's impossible to hear this song without seeing in your mind's eye the video for it, taken from the movie of Richard Adams's classic children's novel, Watership Down, about a family of rabbits and the perilous journey they undertake to find a new home after their old one is dug up by humans. I doubt it was the first time I had heard of Art Garfunkel – I'm sure I'd heard Simon and Garfunkel at this point – but I do think it was the first time I heard him as a solo artist. Rather interesting that the song was written by a man who used to play in the band the Wombles, considering it's about rabbits! Specially written by Mike Batt at the request of the film's director, it was a huge hit, at least in the UK, getting right to the top and staying there for six weeks. Interesting too, that Chris Spedding, another from Batt's band The Wombles, plays the guitar here.

The song is a wistful, sad conversation between the writer (perhaps meant to be God, I don't know) and one of the rabbits, the hero of the tale, Hazel, who ends up dying. Sorry if you haven't read the book or seen the movie, but it's been forty years since the latter and forty-five since the former saw the light of day, so I think spoiler tags would be superfluous at this point. The narrator seems to be unable to understand or accept death - “How can the light that burned so brightly/ Suddenly burn so pale?” - and the overall theme of the song is sadness and bewilderment at the brevity and cruelty of life. A song that's hard not to tear up to when you listen to it, especially if you watch the video alongside it.
Rating:
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Old 04-10-2017, 05:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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[placeholder reserved for Ki to express his outrage that I have started up yet another journal]
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Old 04-10-2017, 05:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Another Trollheart jo...

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Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
[placeholder reserved for Ki to express his outrage that I have started up yet another journal]
Oh.
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Old 04-10-2017, 07:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post

Title: “Bright Eyes”
Artiste: Art Garfunkel
Nationality: American
Year: 1979
Genre: Soft Rock
Subgenre:
Source: Art Garfunkel 1979 album Fate for Breakfast and Watership Down OST, 1978
Written by: Mike Batt
Chart position(s) (Singles only): UK: 1
Storyline: A song depicting the short lifespan of a rabbit, as depicted in the movie Watership Down
Main instrument: Acoustic guitar
Other version(s) by:
Comments: It's impossible to hear this song without seeing in your mind's eye the video for it, taken from the movie of Richard Adams's classic children's novel, Watership Down, about a family of rabbits and the perilous journey they undertake to find a new home after their old one is dug up by humans. I doubt it was the first time I had heard of Art Garfunkel – I'm sure I'd heard Simon and Garfunkel at this point – but I do think it was the first time I heard him as a solo artist. Rather interesting that the song was written by a man who used to play in the band the Wombles, considering it's about rabbits! Specially written by Mike Batt at the request of the film's director, it was a huge hit, at least in the UK, getting right to the top and staying there for six weeks. Interesting too, that Chris Spedding, another from Batt's band The Wombles, plays the guitar here.

The song is a wistful, sad conversation between the writer (perhaps meant to be God, I don't know) and one of the rabbits, the hero of the tale, Hazel, who ends up dying. Sorry if you haven't read the book or seen the movie, but it's been forty years since the latter and forty-five since the former saw the light of day, so I think spoiler tags would be superfluous at this point. The narrator seems to be unable to understand or accept death - “How can the light that burned so brightly/ Suddenly burn so pale?” - and the overall theme of the song is sadness and bewilderment at the brevity and cruelty of life. A song that's hard not to tear up to when you listen to it, especially if you watch the video alongside it.
Rating:
I spent several minutes crying with this song after learning about Richard Adams's death. He was one of my literary heroes. I wrote to him once and was lucky enough to receive a response. Art Garfunkel was the perfect choice to sing it. Nice write-up.
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Old 04-11-2017, 06:06 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Kiiii View Post
Another Trollheart jo...



Oh.
Nice to see the sense of humour remains.
Like the new avvy by the way.
Feel free to suggest a Kanye ballad if he has one, or a slow song you like.
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Old 04-11-2017, 08:12 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by The Batlord View Post
Yeah, I probably should have the journal retitled Lights Down Low: Trollheart's Gay Journal of Ballads and Slow Songs. Yeah, we won't be doing that...


Title: “The Sun Goes Down”
Artiste: Thin Lizzy
Nationality: Irish
Year: 1982
Genre: Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
Subgenre:
Source: Thin Lizzy's final album, 1982's Thunder and Lightning
Written by: Darren Wharton and Phil Lynott
Chart position(s) (Singles only): UK: 52
Storyline: I have no idea; I have never understood what this song is about
Main instrument: Guitar
Other version(s) by:
Comments: Proving that Lizzy could write the odd stunning ballad (and there were very few in their catalogue), this song proved extremely prophetic and tragic. Although it's not the last song on their final album, it was the last single to be released from it (as you can see above, it totally bombed) but its title certainly presaged the end of a band who had struggled with, achieved and then somewhat lost their fame over the course of a decade. I say above that the main instrument is guitar, and it is, but really the song would be a lot less without the atmospheric keyboard soundscapes of Darren Wharton, who co-wrote it. If anyone knows what it's about - “There is a demon among us/ Whose soul belongs in Hell/ Sent here to redeem us/ She knows it all too well” ???? - then please do enlighten me as I have no clue. It's a beautifully laidback song though, with Lynott's trademark brogue slightly toned back and a superb guitar solo from John Sykes, who had just joined the band at this point.

Although of course nobody in the band knew or expected this would be their final record, four years later Phil Lynott would be dead, and Lizzy as a band would be over. They've sort of resurrected themselves recently as The Black Star Riders, but it kind of isn't the same. Just as Queen will never be Queen without Freddie, it really can't be denied that Lynott was Lizzy, and with his death the sun really did go down on this fine band. Such a waste.

Rating:

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Old 04-11-2017, 09:46 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
Nice to see the sense of humour remains.
Like the new avvy by the way.
Feel free to suggest a Kanye ballad if he has one, or a slow song you like.
Thanks. I'll fetch you something sweet once I have time to compile a list. Nice journal idea btw
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