Monday, 27 February 2012

10 Great David Bowie Songs

Death is an inevitable part of life. With the recent loss of Whitney Houston and the reaction it garnered from the public it got me thinking. Every time one of our beloved music icon passes they are remembered so lovingly and so gracefully you'd think they hung the moon. However we rarely honour them thusly during their lives. So a new feature on Void Drops, the Living Legend Lists. Honouring great artists who are still with us. Who deserve praise and attention. First up.....David Bowie...

1. "Rebel, Rebel" (1974)"

Born David Jones he changed his last name to Bowie to avoid confusion with Davy Jones from the Monkees. Bowie was originally known for being a pillar in the glam rock movement. His album Diamond Dogs saw a departure from the glam though and into a more focused direction. "Rebel, Rebel" is a great song from 1974, about a girl who struggles with a gender identity...something many early fans were struggling with about Bowie

2. "Moonage Daydream (1971)"

Bowie liked creating characters and often sung his songs through these personas...which is why his music spans multiple genres and has withstood the test of time. He was always able to stay fresh and reinvent himself. "Moonage Daydream" was originally released as being by the band Arnold Corns, being one of Bowie's side projects. It would later be included on another character's album in 1972. The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars.

3. "The Man Who Sold The World (1970)"

Though his personal life, sexuality and eccentricities usually took the media's attention during the 70's, Bowie should be best remembered as a remarkable songwriter. To this day his songs are still being recorded and covered by modern artists. Perhaps one of the best known cover versions of his songs was done in 1994 when Nirvana performed "The Man Who Sold The World" for their MTV Unplugged performance.

4. "Little Wonder (1997)"

During the confused 90's when no one was sure what they liked and artists were trying anything and everything to make a few bucks, David Bowie released the left-of-centre Earthling. It was critically acclaimed and highly electronic. It's first single "Little Wonder" clearly plays on the techno remixing and sonic instruments that were becoming more prominent at the time. Bowie fit in to it seamlessly however and for a long time it was one of my favourites.

5. "Queen Bitch (1971)"

Back to the 70's for my favourite David Bowie track. "Queen Bitch" from the album Hunky Dory.  It's actually a tribute to Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, a group that Bowie was very fond of. A simple rock song with simple lyrics...but it's got that Bowie charm which makes sure you pay attention. It was used swimmingly at the end of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou a wonderful movie and a great fit.

6. "Suffragate City (1972)"

If you haven't heard Ziggy Stardust I recommend you go and give it a listen. If you consider yourself a fan of great music then you won't be disappointed. Every track is worth a listen and it inspired many, MANY artists for years to come. Still considered Bowie's best. 'Suffragate City' is a fun song with catchy piano licks and guitar chords. It even references A Clockwork Orange. Delightful.

7. "Starman (1973)"

Another track from Ziggy Stardust, and it was a late addition apparently, but a solid one. It continues the concept of the album as Ziggy brings a message from an alien messiah to Earth.

8. "Modern Love (1983)"

Into the 80's we go where Bowie is usually hailed as an artist from. His album Let's Dance was definitely more accessible, easier to listen to for a casual fan. Which is fine, it just meant more people were noticing him and the things he was performing rather than giving 2 shits about his personal life.

9. Mott The Hoople - "All The Young Dudes"

I know it isn't a David Bowie song but he wrote this song specifically for the band Mott The Hoople. It's definitely got his flavour all over it. Lyrically, slow drawn out choruses and even a hint of the theatrics that Bowie's songs usually encompass. Apparently he first offered them "Suffragate City" but the band rejected it. Who the hell are they to reject a song David FUCKING Bowie writes for them? Friggin' one hit wonders.
Still good song.

10.  "TVC15 (1976)"

This song was from the 1976 album Station To Station, which apparently Bowie remembers very little from the recording session as drugs were very available to him at the time. Iggy Pop once told Bowie of a story of himself being so high that we hallucinated his television set eating his girlfriend. Bowie used that story as his basis for "TVC15". Cool, quirky song.

Hope you enjoyed the first of many Living Legend Lists. I'll have regular themed lists on the go as well.
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Monday, 13 February 2012

10 Great Love Songs

Yes it's that time of year once again. Valentine's Day. Whether you're on board with it's themes of romance or think it should be abolished for it's greedy commercialization of one of man's purest emotions, there is no avoiding it. And while I won't be spending it with anyone in particular, i'm sure there are those out there who may need a hand finding a soundtrack for your special night. Jonny's got you covered. 10 Great Love Songs.

1. Joseph Arthur - "Honey & The Moon"

Kick it off with a sweet acoustic ditty. This one sounds like Arthur just had a realization one day, picked up his guitar and let it flow through him. It's got some great lyrics like "If you weren't real I'd make you" and "You're the honey and the moon that lights up my night" Solid.

2. Nick Drake - "Northern Sky"

I feel I haven't really talked about Nick Drake that much on this blog. He's been very influential and meaningful to me, and to be honest...i fear my words wouldn't do his impact on this music world during his short time on this earth justice. "Northern Sky" is a great example of his brilliance. Though most of his songs were a darker reflection of his mental state in 2005 NME called "Northern Sky" the greatest English love song of modern times.

3. Alicia Keys - "No One"

I always dreamt that some day some beautiful woman would write a song like this about me. I have a soft spot for female musicians that sing and play the piano, not quite sure why that is. This song is a great testament to having that one person no matter how many factors or adversaries try to stand between you. Trust. Faith. Love.

4. Dave Matthews Band - "Crush"

Another one of my favourites that hasn't gotten much attention on Void Drops. I hate the stigma that the Dave Matthews Band has gotten of being only for college kids and stoners. I think most people are intimidated by their diverse instruments and length of their songs. "Crush" comes in at 8 minutes and 8 seconds, and Dave admits that he wrote it with his wife on his mind. Crash seems to get most of the attention as DMB's greatest album, but I think Before These Crowded Streets edges it out slightly with masterfully crafted songs such as "Crush".

5. U2 - "All I Want Is You"

The eighties were known for it's over the top, highly produced ballads proclaiming everlasting love. Artists like Peter Cetera, Chris DeBurgh and Kenny Loggins made good careers out of the theme. U2 went the opposite way with this gem. Flying so low under the radar it usually gets forgotten when talking about the great U2 singles. "All I Want Is You" has a certain stillness...reminiscent of the chills and short,quick breaths one takes when seeing that one person that you burn so painfully for. It's desire...I pity anyone who has never felt that. Hopelessness and excitement going to war on the fringes of your brain as your body is powerless to react. Amazing.

6. Damien Rice - "Cannonball"

This was once my song. It will always remind me of someone. In fact i'm not sure theres much I could write about this song...the lyrics kind of speak for themselves. Damien Rice has many great songs to pick from for a list like this "Delicate", "The Blower's Daughter", "Cheers Darlin'" but this one is my favourite...for the memories that flood my mind upon hearing the opening guitar riffs.

7. Peter Gabriel - "In Your Eyes"

This one is almost an automatic add. Especially with it's involvement in a pivotal scene in the romantic 80's movie "Say Anything". I will say that people's eyes tell you almost anything you need to know about somebody. At the end of the day, sometimes you don't need words. Just look in their eyes.

8. Bruno Mars - "Marry You"

I know. Odd right? I first heard this one in Iceland and brushed it off as another 'Bruno Mars' song. It got stuck in my head though...a silly little love song, which sometimes, are just as important and meaningful as those about love everlasting. It comes in all styles.

9.  Method Man - "You're All I Need To Get By" feat. Mary J. Blige

Love doesn't care what kind of music you play or what your reputation is. It will find you. Method Man was known as one of the masterminds behind the gangsta rap group Wu-Tang Clan. This song was featured on his solo 1995 album Tical, and it showed his soft side and his lyrical genius. Mary J. Blige added a "thug-love" vibe with her perfect delivery of the chorus.

10. Ryan Adams - "Desire"

One of the better singer/songwriters active right now is Ryan not Bryan Adams. Ryan is from North Carolina. "Desire" is a straight forward song about loving one single person. It's short and sweet and you'll know it complete. A great way to finish off the list and kick off Valentine's Day.

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Thursday, 2 February 2012

10 Great Musical Tributes

When writing songs inspiration can come from many places. Maybe you want to tell a story, or confess your love for someone. Perhaps you're really wicked high and want to get that across too. Sometimes, however, a great song can come from great pain or the loss of someone influential. Here are 10 Songs that are tributes to those lost.

1. "Hell's Bells" - AC/DC

AC/DC's first vocalist was the legendary Bon Scott. Known not only for his unique singing style but also for his unforgiving drinking habits. In 1980 he passed away after a night of hard partying and AC/DC, who were sky rocketing to the popularity moon at the time, had a difficult decision on their hands.  Back In Black was already in the works, and with Bon's Mother's encouragement the group found a new singer and finished the record. The 13 tolls of the bell at the beginning of the album, along with the majority of the songs themselves, are a tribute to Bon.

2. "Bro Hymn" - Pennywise

Jason Matthew Thirsk was the original bass player for legendary punk band Pennywise. When three of his close friends were killed in a car accident he wrote the song "Bro Hymn" in their honour. Jason suffered from his own demons however and committed suicide in 1996. The band would re-release the song as "Bro Hymn Tribute" with the new lyrics "Jason Matthew Thirsk this one's for you"

3. "Hey, Hey. My, My. (Into The Black)" - Neil Young

This is another song that grew a life of it's own more than Neil could have ever expected. He was inspired by the lives of some of his musical influences such as Elvis and Johnny Rotten whom the song is a tribute to. In 1994 Kurt Cobain included the line "It's better to burn out than to fade away" in his suicide note. Since then Young has felt the song is a tribute to all those who live to fast and leave before they had a chance to truly live.

4. "Thief" - Our Lady Peace

Our Lady Peace singer Raine Maida and his wife Chantal Kreviazuk met a young girl named Mina Kim with a devastating cancerous tumor. Maida was so shaken by the thought of such a sweet child suffering at the hands of something few would understand he wrote "Thief" in her honour. Listen at the end of the track for actual audio of Kreviazuk singing with me chills every time.

5. "American Pie" - Don McLean

Everybody knows this one. "American Pie" is McLean's epic tribute to Buddy Holly or "The Music" as he's referred to in the song. In case you don't know, Buddy Holly was killed on February 3, 1959 when the single engine plane he was riding in crashed to the earth. Contrary to urban legend, the plane he was riding in was NOT named the American Pie. There have been many analyses of the song and it is quite intriguing to get into it's mythos, but perhaps i'll leave that for another list.

6. "Gypsy" - Fleetwood Mac

Stevie Nicks was a great songwriter, really under appreciated nowadays. This one is kind of a cheat. It was written for Nicks' solo album Bella Donna but was left off due to time constraints. By the time Fleetwood Mac were ready to work on their 1982 studio album Mirage one of Nicks' closest friends was dying of leukemia. The song was included on the album and was dedicated to her.

7.  "Angel's Son" - Sevendust

This one is a tribute to James Lynn Strait, lead singer of the group Snot. Though they weren't well known in the mainstream, the respect they had within the musical underworld was immense. Strait list of fans included Incubus, Sugar Ray, Korn, Slipknot, Sevendust and on and on. Strait was killed in 1998 in a six car pile-up along with his dog, Dobbs. This song and the video (which includes Strait's mother) is one of the most beautiful and powerful tributes i've ever witnessed.

8. "Because Of The Shame" - Against Me!

I may have talked about this one on my Against Me! list, but it's a good enough song it deserves another mention. Against Me! front man Tom Gabel was attending a funeral for a friend of his who was murdered. His friend's mother approached him and told him that his friend always felt Gabel's other song "Thrash Unreal" was a swipe at her and that he owed her another song. This was the's similarity to Bruce Springsteen's "No Surrender" was was one of her favourite songs.

9. "Would?" - Alice In Chains

Andrew Wood was the front man for Seattle grunge group Mother Love Bone. The band never amounted to much attention but it's roots grew deep in the Seattle scene. Mother Love Bone members would go on to form Pearl Jam and ties with other groups like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains were formed. Alice guitarist Jerry Cantrell wrote "Would?" for the fallen Wood when he died after a heroin overdose in 1990. Alice In Chains front man Layne Staley passed in a similar fashion in 2002. Pearl Jam released a song in his honour called "4/20/02"

10. "To Live Is To Die" - Metallica

In 1986 while on tour in Sweden, Metallica's tour bus slid off the side of the highway and rolled down a rocky embankment. After being thrown from the bus guitarist Kirk Hammett remembers hearing everyone's voice except for bass player Cliff Burton. Burton was killed after the bus rolled over top of him. His unique bass style and one of a kind personality is what helped Metallica stand out from the rest of crowded California metal scene in the 80's. His flavour is evident on songs like "Anesthesia", "Orion", "Damage Inc." and 'For Whom The Bell Tolls". When time came for Metallica's next album 1988's ...And Justice For All! they included this 9 minute instrumental in Burton's memory. At Cliff's funeral his sister gave singer James Hetfield a poem Cliff had written years can hear it being quietly read over the end of the song.

May they all rest in peace