Tuesday, 28 October 2014

10 Great Songs By Artists With Famous Grave Sites

I was saving this one in the holster for this time of year. Usually around Halloween song lists are filled with the "Monster Mash"es and "Ghostbusters". Thats all fine and good, but i'm taking a different approach. Death is an inevitable part of life and when a musician goes down they often leave behind a grave site that was just a mercurial as they were. Here are 10 Songs by Artists with Famous Grave Sites

1. "From The Morning" - Nick Drake

Nick Drake's grave marker lies in Tanworth-in-Arden, England. Much like his lonely, isolated life, his grave marker is a small, underwhelming stone. Very easy to be overlooked. Though Drake rarely used them, fans seeking the grave often leave guitar picks at the stone. Having overdosed on sleeping pills at the age of 26 he never lived to see his music find a global audience. The epitaph is "Now We Rise & We Are Everywhere" it was chosen by Nick's mother and it comes from the final song off of his final album.

2. "53rd & 3rd" - The Ramones

It's a sad reality that all 4 of the original members of The Ramones have now all passed. Tommy Ramone being the latest died at the age of 65. Joey Ramone has a relatively modest tombstone featuring his real name Jeff Hyman. Johnny Ramone has an 8ft tall bronze statue put up in his honour (which he erected prior to his death) and Dee Dee Ramone, who died of a drug overdose in 2002, has a gravestone with an epitaph that reads "Ok...I gotta go now". Punk rock in life and death.

3. "Life Is A Carnival" - The Band

Though written by The Band's guitarist "Up On Cripple Creek" featured Levon Helm on lead vocals. Helm passed in 2012 after a long battle with cancer. His grave site at the Woodstock cemetery is notable for not having an epitaph in words, but a series of musical notes that is from The Band's own "Life Is A Carnival".

4. "Change" - Blind Melon

Blind Melon's meteoric rise to fame in the early 90's was sadly overshadowed by the drug-induced downfall of their own enigmatic frontman Shannon Hoon. Hoon struggled with drug addiction for most of his young life and made a last ditch gambit to get clean before the birth of his daughter Nico Blue in 1995. In August of that year Blind Melon was to tour to support their new album Soup, though the band hired a counselor for Hoon to keep him from relapsing, he was found dead on the tour bus in October after an all night drug binge. His grave stone is engraved with a line from "Change" the first song he wrote..."I know we can't all stay here forever, so i want to write my words on the face of today. And they'll paint it".

5. "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning" - Frank Sinatra

Sinatra is still one of the most legendary entertainers of the golden age of music and film. Enjoying a long career of countless albums and movies, Sinatra's life came to an end at the age of 82 after suffering a heart attack and battling numerous health problems. His tombstone has the simple and lovely epitaph "The Best Is Yet To Come"

6. "The End" - The Doors

Jim Morrison was perhaps the quinessential front man for a classic rock band. Poetic, dense lyrics. Crazy, drunken on stage antics. And a short life-span. One of the inaugural members of the "27 Club" Morrison died in France in 1971. The circumstances of his death are still heavily in question as no autopsy was performed as wast the norm in Paris at the time. He was buried in a Paris cemetery with no official grave marker until Parisian officials placed a shield over the burial. The shield was of course stolen as were various bronze busts created by artists that were also used as grave markers. Finally in the early 90's Morrison's father commissioned a bronze plaque be placed at the site with a Greek inscription which roughly translates to "True To Himself"

7. "To Live Is To Die" - Metallica

Metallica's early days of thrash-metal glory were cut short while on tour with Ozzy Osbourne in Europe in 1986. In support of their album Master Of Puppets, they were overnighting through Sweden when their tour bus lost control and overturned several times down the rocky hill beside the highway. Everyone on board was thrown clear except for 24 year old bassist Cliff Burton. Burton had become pinned beneath the bus and could not be saved.  The crash site hosts a memorial plaque for Burton with a line from "To Live Is To Die" that was posthumously released with lyrics from a poem that Burton himself had wrote. "Cannot The Kingdom Of Salvation Take Me Home"

8. "Hickory Wind" - The Byrds

Gram Parsons, who is most known for his work in the Country-Rock world, got his start with The Byrds in 1968. Later in life he became infatuated with the Joshua Tree National Monument and had spoken of desires to be cremated on famous Cap Rock there. In 1973 Parsons died of an apparent overdose of morphine and alcohol. While his body was waiting at the Louisiana Airport to be flown back to New Orleans, his body was stolen by some friends, driven to The Joshua Tree and ignited in flames in an attempt to fulfill his last rights. A tribute to Parsons can still be found at Cap Rock to this day.

9. "What's Your Name" - Lynyrd Skynyrd

It was said Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young had a feud in the late 60's/early 70's due to members of Skynyrd taking exception to themes in Neil Young's song "Southern Man". While both parties claimed it was goodnatured and light-hearted, some fans took the rumours too far. In 1977 while Lynyrd Skynyrd were embarking on a tour to support their album Street Survivors, the small air plane they chartered had a small engine and it crashed into the forests of Mississippi. Band members Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines were killed along with Gaines' sister, the road manager and both pilots. Sometime around their deaths a rumour started to swirl that Van Zant had been buried with a Neil Young t-shirt on. In 2000 vandals had exhumed the graves of both Van Zant and Gaines in attempt to determine if the rumours were true.

10. "Bobby Brown" - Frank Zappa

Zappa was a musician known for his eccentricities and individuality as much as he was known for his music. He has children named Dweezil and Moon Unit Zappa. He was outspoken and critical of mainstream education and religion and was an advocate for free speech and the abolition of censorship. His musical style was difficult to categorize as his influences and resources spanned a wide variety. In 1993 he died from prostate cancer and was buried in an unmarked grave. It might be difficult to believe that a man with so much whimsy and gusto could be left to rest in an unmarked grave, but I guess that's the way the Zap wanted it.

Have a great Halloween everyone!!!!


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

10 More Great Cover Songs

Nothing more really to expand on beyond that blog title. Cover songs are a part of the music world and as we all know, some are great...some not so much. Thankfully, we'll be focused on the good ones today. Save the not so great ones for later. 10 More Great Cover Songs.

1. MaxAmillion - "Sexual Healing"

As blasphemous as it is to say a cover of a Marvin Gaye song is great, but it is. Probably because MaxAmillion transformed a song intended for intimate one on one time into a dance hall reggae-pop hip grinder. To this day it's impossible not to make it through the whole track.

2. Happy Mondays - "The Boys Are Back In Town"

The dog's bollocks indeed! Thin Lizzy's anthemic ode to a boy's night out was never high on my re-listen to list. A quick spin of the Happy Monday's re-hash and it's clear to see that this track is must have for any pump up party mix!

3. Krokus - "Stayed Awake All Night"

It must have been a struggle for metal bands to make it big in the 80's. It's one way to explain why so many of them choose to cover each other's obscure tracks. Quiet Riot covered Slade. Slayer covered Iron Butterfly. And Switzerland's Krokus had their fair share as well. My fave by them was a cover of an obscure song by Canada's Bachman Turner Overdrive, "Stayed Awake All Night"

4. They Might Be Giants - "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)"

Originally a 50's swing tune by The 4 Lads....what a typical name for a swing-vocal band from that era...a Canadian group originally named the Otnorots. They Might Be Giants sped the tune up and added just a tinge of their quirky change of the decade flair to this already quirky song. Either way it worked.

5. Santana - "Hold On"

Another song written by a Canadian that found worlds more success after it was covered. Hamilton's Ian Thomas (who happens to be younger brother of actor Dave Thomas) wrote and released "Hold On" in 1981 only to have Santana record a version a year later and see it reach much more success.

6. Pussycat Dolls - "Don't Cha"

Well not so much of a cover, but "Don't Cha" was originally written by CeeLo Green in 2004 and recorded by Alamaze, a former backing singer for Outkast. Alamaza then backed out of her contract with her label and the song was re-recorded by The Pussycat Dolls singing group fabricated by the same label. The rest is quasi-memorable-pop-chart-topping-sorta history.

7. Helmet - "Army Of Me"

90's bands covering 90's songs. What more can I say?

8. Ben Gibbard - "Indian Summer"

I've written about "Indian Summer" before and how it's been referred to as the "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" of the Indie scene in Seattle. Well that's because everybody has done a version of it. Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie and The Postal Service recorded a version for his involvement with the Kurt Cobain biopic "About A Son"

9. Hayden - "Gouge Away"

Speaking of the Indie Scene in Seattle, The Pixies were grunge before anyone knew who Nirvana were. Hayden's version of their classic "Gouge Away" shifts from grunge to a semi-folk grunge fusion. It's delightful.


10. The Offspring - "Killboy Powerhead"

I'm not sure The Offspring's 1994 album Smash needed the help of  a cover song to get it noticed, but they included a rare track from Illinois punk group The Didjits anyway. "Killboy Powerhead" was originally on The Didjits 1990 release Hornet Pinata, and barely had time to breathe before The Offspring got a hold of it 4 years later

Thanks again for reading!