Thursday, July 8, 2010

Article: Where I'm Coming From Musically Speaking

How I became such a huge fan of a blues guitarist who sings with a slight country twang (Casey James from American Idol) is a mystery to me.  My musical taste traditionally runs the gamut from A-B.  It's alternative rock, rock, and 70's folk-rock.  Not much in the way of diversity.  I don't own a Stevie Ray Vaughan or B.B. King CD, I have nothing on my Zune from Keith Urban or Shania Twain.  I did once own a kd lang album, but it was never uploaded to my MP3 player, so I'm not sure it counts. 

If you want to know about the musical taste of the person whose blog you've been reading, I like R.E.M.  They are up here (my arm is fully extended, I'm typing one-handed).  Every other band is down here (about at my waist).  I am excluding The Beatles, the ones without whom no music would matter, from this ranking.  If you're interested in knowing what my favorite Beatles' songs are, it just so happens that I posted about that very topic here.

My obsession with R.E.M. started in 1985.  I was first introduced to them by my now-husband and after seeing them in concert the first time I was -- confused.  What's with the weird lead singer?  I called him a poor man's Joe Cocker.  I admit, I didn't get them at first.  But once I started listening to their songs, I was transformed.  Nothing can make me feel what I feel when I hear Michael Stipe's voice.  That's just the way it is.  But that's not to say I haven't been moved to great heights of emotions by other songs, other singers.  Why some hit me and others don't is not something that can be scientifically explained. Music is not rational or logical, it's all about how it makes you feel.

At various times, I will write about a song or an artist who did that for me -- really  made me feel something.  Had an impact, left a mark.  That's the great thing about music, what other art form can do that for you?  I don't think anything else can transport you in place and time and make you feel something completely different like music can.  So, now you know that the person who's been writing all these posts about some Texas singer/guitarist really cares about music.  And whether you agree with my taste, I hope you can appreciate that music matters to me.

I'll be posting the occasional videos, like these below, from some of my other favorite artists and bands. Maybe you'll find some you like here, maybe you'll discover something new.  Or you can just skip to the next Casey James post, that's absolutely fine too.

The Replacements

Answering Machine

I cannot tell you how much I loved The Replacements.  They were the ultimate underachievers.  Paul Westerberg wrote the most haunting lyrics, like in this song above -- then would follow it up with a stupid song about being told to put out his cigarette on an airplane (Waitress in the Sky).  I was watching the movie Adventureland last night and it was set in 1987, so to establish the time frame (and to relate to the wayward young adults in the movie) the movie was bookended by two Replacements' songs -- Bastards of Young and Unsatisfied.

Here's a live version of Bastards of Young. Sorry the sound is not great. 

I failed at YouTube Searching 101 and was unable to find a Replacements' version of Unsatisfied.  Here's Paul Westerberg playing it post-Mats:

It's impossible to name my favorite Replacements' song.  Alex Chilton is the most radio-friendly of their songs and possibly the best introduction to the band.  There is no video for the song, a YouTube search offered just the album track with a picture of the album cover.  Very high tech.  But what they lacked in MTV-ready productions, they more than made up for in honest music.  And this is the schizophrenic band at their most joyous.  A perfect 3:13 of bouncy percussion, fuzzy background guitars, rapid-fire guitar solos, and raw-boned vocals.  How prophetic that Westerberg would give it the chorus "I'm in love, with that song."  I am indeed.

The Feelies

Higher Ground

The jangly-guitars of this New Jersey band of course immediately attracted this R.E.M. fan (for whom they are listed as an influence), but they stood apart as focusing more on their instruments and less on the vocals.  Intricate, overlapping guitar solos, layers of sound, urgency and vibrancy -- almost sounds like the same ingredients for blues music.  But this is pure rock, the kind of music that saved the 80s from the synthesizer-heavy new wave bands or the pop stars that owned the charts. 

If you're a fan of guitar playing, take a listen here, a live version of the song Slipping Into Something from a very recent concert.  For a band that formed when Ford was president, it's amazing how they can still sound so good.


  1. Just to get you acquainted, it's actually Stevie Ray Vaughan ;)

  2. I am not a blues fan also...I love pop and love songs...I was once in love w/ Shania Twain, that was when she released her first album...but didn't realize she's country...I love Colbie Caillat, Taylor Swift and the Carpenters...I am more of a fan of R&B which I thought is also pop until now...okay,I admit...I'm not into all those genres...doesn't really know exactly what they are...but when I hear a song and likes the melody or lyrics...that's when I prefer it.
    So, what I am trying to say here is that...liking Casey James' music is a mystery to me as well...there's something that made me drawn to him...I really can't figure it out...when I saw him first during his audition, I immediately liked him...maybe his character or maybe his hair...but his music??? Now, I can't get enough of his songs. I'm into his GENRE...makes me think that he has a mission...making people realize what real music is esp on this generation of more commercialized songs...

  3. LOL, typo corrected!

  4. I don't know, maybe Casey James has some as-yet identified super power that pulls everyone in. Since following him I have been compelled to explore music of artists I never paid attention to before -- including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gavin DeGraw, and Ian Moore. The man knows good music, and I can't wait to hear more of his original stuff which -- God willing -- others will be covering someday. There's definitely a soul behind those eyes. That's what pulls me in. Some call it charisma or sexy, but I think it's more than that. Just a good soul. A sweet soul. An inner light. Like he's seen stuff that we don't completely understand.

  5. "After ELVIS, THERE IS CASEY". Is that make sense?
    Casey is all kind of combination, his look, his personality and most of all, his voice which reaches into the deep inside the heart and touches our emotion like Elvis...
    Casey has definitely has a power of magnatic charisma. I think he will shine as a star for a long time. He was a hidden gem and now we got it and we will share his gift with so many of us!!!