Tuesday, 18 November 2014

10 Great Songs With Biblical References

Let's not shit ourselves just yet. Yes, this is going to be a post about songs with biblical references. No it will not be a commentary on the Catholic/Christian religions, nor will it seek the validity of any passage that the songs may refer to. Since this blog's inception I have been diligent to keep the content strictly about the music. Not the race, religion or sexual orientation of any of the artists behind the songs. Could give a shit about that. Here are 10 Great Songs with Biblical References.

1. Metallica - "The Four Horsemen"

The Bible is a great place for metal bands to draw inspiration for lyrics. It's got some very violent and messed up parts. Especially the book of Revelations which basically is describing the end of the world. One of the most famous elements from that book is the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Their names vary but the most famous incarnations are War, Famine, Pestilence and Death. In this song War is replaced by Time. Like I said variations exist. On a side note you might notice a similarity between this song and the song "Mechanix" by Megadeth. Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine was the guitarist for Metallica when this song was written and is given writing credit for the song on Kill 'em All. After he split from the group he released the song on Megadeth's album Killing Is My Business....And Business Is Good! Metallica reworked the lyrics and added a bridge so they weren't the exact same songs.

2. Regina Spektor - "Samson"

Samson was essentially a Herculean figure in the Bible's Old Testament. A man of superhuman strength could squash an army by himself and killed a lion with his bare hands. His powers came from his flowing locks of hair, which also made him invincible. Sadly Samson had a thing for shady woman and fell for the Sorek woman Delilah. Delilah was paid off by Samson's enemies and she shaved his head one night as he slept. He soon captured and killed by the Philistines.

3. Mumford & Sons - "Babel"

The story of The Tower Of Babel is how The Bible explains all of the Earth's languages. After the Great Flood the descendants of Noah tried to build a tower so high that it would reach the heavens. To quell their efforts God changed all of their tongues so they couldn't understand one another. Mumford & Sons themselves say the song is about human discontent, which is a theme in the story of Babel.

4. Leonard Cohen - "Hallelujah"

This song has grown a life of it's own since it's original release in 1984 with countless artists recording all sorts of versions of it. In my opinion there are only 2 versions of "Hallelujah" that you need to be arsed with: Jeff Buckley's haunting recording for his 1994 debut Grace and the original written by Leonard Cohen. Cohen knew he had something special on his hands and was careful not to be hasty when releasing it. "Hallelujah" went through several demos with dozens of sheets of lyrics and content that Cohen was drawing inspiration from. The Bible was perhaps the biggest source of inspiration as several stories from it are referenced. The aforementioned Samson & Delilah, the 12 Commandments and King David and Bathesba.

5. Bob Dylan - "Jokerman"

Much like Leonard Cohen Bob Dylan was known for his whimsical, clever and often poetic lyrics. His song "Jokerman"off his 1983 album Infidels is chalk full of references to renaissance times, Greek mythology and yes The Bible. Most notably the line "You go to Sodom and Gamorrah, but what do you care; Ain't nobody there would want to marry your sister". Sodom and Gamorrah was a city known for it's debauchery. Wan't an example? Look up the story of Lot and his angel buddies. That should be enough.

6. The Rolling Stones - "Saint Of Me"

Though very obvious biblical allusions litter this track off of Bridges To Babylon, "Saint Of Me" is actually written about Billy Preston a legendary R&B performer known for his run-ins with the law. Preston actually plays keyboards on the track. The Stones were sued for this song by a husband and wife duo who claimed this song sounded like their track "Oh Yeah" though it appears the lawsuit went nowhere.

7. Avenged Sevenfold - "Beast and The Harlot"

Remember what I said about Metal bands finding great inspiration from The Book of Revelations? Here's another beauty, it's from Avenged Sevenfold who have made a living writing songs inspired by literature. "Beast and The Harlot" has lyrics paraphrasing the story of The Great City Of Babylon's fall which describes several beasts and a harlot who ushers in the downfall of earth's kings. It's a wild story and this song kicks so much ass. Just alot of fun all around!

8. Jars Of Clay - "Flood"

Jars of Clay are the only self-proclaimed Christian Rock Group on this list. Not only is the song "Flood" an obvious allusion to a biblical tale. (If you don't know the story of Noah's Ark yet I ain't the one who should be telling you) but their band name is one too. It's from the book of Corinthians that describes people as jars of clay, or something. To show that God created an awe-inspiring treasure not humans. I think.

9. The Byrds - "Turn! Turn! Turn!"

Where metal bands can find inspiration in The Bible to form songs of death and destruction, hippie bands can use it to create lyrics for songs of peace, love and happiness. The part of the song that is explaining that there is a time for this and that is almost taken verbatim from the book of Ecclesiastes.

10. The White Stripes - "Cannon"

This song features a sample from an a capella song by Son House called "John The Revelator". It is said that St. John wrote the Book of Revelations that all those crazy fiery beasty brimstoney visions come from. \Hence he is "John The Revelator". I like the White Stripes...in fact most of what Jack White comes out with I enjoy. He's released s much music and has been part of so many groups I could probably write a rather diverse blog post about him. Hmmmm......

Thanks again all!!

Follow me! Comment! Request!

Follow on tweeters!!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

10 Great Songs Used As TV Show Themes

Television shows often get dumped on as a form of entertainment or even art. Just because something gets watched on television rather than the silver screen or (nowadays) digital media, it's looked down on. Over the course of it's now dwindling history, there have been some very important moments in Television and it has even crossed over and made friends with other art forms. In this case music. Here are 10 Great Songs that were used as TV Themes.

1. "Woke Up This Morning" - Alabama 3

Criminally known as A3 in North America to avoid confusion with the Country band Alabama from the state of the same name, Alabama 3 are an English band known for fusing rock with electronic, blues and even country music into one. Their biggest North American hit is "Woke Up This Morning" which has been used for the opening credits of the HBO show The Sopranos.  The song is now virtually inseparable from gangland culture and throbbing machismo, even though it was originally written through the woman's point of view who was sick of enduring an abusive relationship.

2. "Closer To Free" - BoDeans

Going from being virtually unknown to the top of the Billboard charts overnight is an experience that Wisconsin's BoDeans can live to tell about. In 1996 the TV show Party Of Five used their song "Closer To Free" which is about people being able to have a relationship with whomever they choose, as it's main theme. The song landed at #16 in 1996 despite being originally released 3 years earlier on their 1993 album Go Slow Down.

3. "Maybe Tomorrow" - Terry Bush

In 1975 Canadian Televsion network CTV decided to revive the classic 60's series The Littlest Hobo, a series about an ownerless dog traveling the country side and helping people along the way. When the producers approached Terry Bush to write the theme song, they initially rejected his song "Maybe Tomorrow", but later came back to Terry and accepted the song. Bush wisely retained the writes to his song and in 2005 he released a more commercially appealing version. While us Canadians may remember a mangy German Shepard trotting down a dirt road to this tune, it's been gaining popularity in the UK recently, being used in several TV ads.

4. "Superhero" - Jane's Addiction

When the HBO series Entourage debuted in 2004 it needed a theme song that would catch the ear and also fit along with the crash-bang lifestyle the starry-eyed protagonists lived. Which better band to provide the song than notorious larger-than-life rockers Jane's Addiction. "Superhero" was the song and now it's almost tough to hear the tune without picturing Vince and the boys cruising the Sunset Strip.

5. "WKRP Cincinnati" - Steve Carlisle

Don't ask me who Steve Carlisle was because I don't know, but it seems like he was merely the vocalist chosen to sing a theme song written for the show. WKRP In Cincinnati was an iconic show from the mid 70s to early 80s that many broadcasters (such as myself) hold dear and many critics praised for it's realistic take on the world of Radio Broadcasting. Though it was out before my time, I have many fond memories watching the show in syndication and being very excited whenever I heard this magical theme song.

6. "We Used To Be Friends" - The Dandy Warhols

Some theme songs are picked because they line up perfectly with the plot or themes of the show they are promoting. Other times certain artists are approached by the showrunners to write a song specifically for the show. In this case however, Dandy Warhols front man Courtney Taylor-Taylor has no idea why his song "We Used To Be Friends" was picked for the opening theme for Veronica Mars, he figures they just dug the track.

7. "South Park Theme" - Primus

When Matt Stone and Trey Parker got the green light to bring their filthy, animated creation South Park to television their first choice for the theme song was Primus. Frontman Les Claypool watched one of their shorts and came up with the idea rather quickly. Though the original theme song was deemed to long to be acceptable, Stone and Parker simply sped up the music and asked Claypool to re-record his vocals over the accelerated track. The result is what is played before every epsiode.

8. "I'll Be There For You" - The Rembrandts

The ever iconic theme song to the 90's ratings juggernaut Friends was written by professional songwriters and given to the LA group The Rembrandts to record. Originally a simple 30 second ditty, as are most TV themes, "I'll Be There For You" was soon being played on the radio by DJs who had recorded the song and looped it to make it around 3 minutes. Soon the heat was on for The Rembrandts to release it as a proper single, but since they didn't write it they refused. A compromise came about which saw the group write a second verse and the bridge, which allowed the band to receive writing credit and the song was released as a proper single in 1995. it hit #17 in the US and #5 in the UK.

9. "With  A Little Help From My Friends" - Joe Cocker

Written and recorded by the Beatles for the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band "With A Little Help From My Friends" was not released as a single until Joe Cocker covered it in 1968. Impressed with his version Paul McCartney and John Lennon printed an ad in a music paper praising it. In 1988 the TV show The Wonder Years used it as the theme song. Joe's signature scratchy voice and slowly drawn out 3/4 waltz timing really helped cement this song in the time frame that The Wonder Years was set.

10. "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" - Gary Portnoy

In 1982 when the show Cheers was seeking out a song to use over it's opening credits, the producers were looking for something more serious and adult themed rather than the poppy-silly theme songs that saturated the airwaves of the 80's. Songwriter Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo came up with this sad tune that is reminiscent of those played by piano men at the bars that Cheers was based on. Instead of hiring an established star to record the theme the producers were impressed with Portnoy and even got him to record a longer version when audiences would request the sheet music and pressings of the song.


11. "Having An Average Weekend" - Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet

The Kids In The Hall were a sketch-com group composed of 5 young lads from Canada. When they were given a weekly show on A&E they recruited equally surreal and quirky Canadian instrumentalist band Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet. Most of their songs were short and fast-paced. "Having An Average Weekend" (The show's theme) is no exception.

Thanks again!!!

Seriously a big list is coming!!