Just what does that even mean – “Life turns on a dime?” A quick Google search will offer up some explanations for folks unfamiliar with the phrase:
“Since a dime is the smallest U.S. coin, the ability to “turn on it” is a figure of speech meaning you can change direction very quickly in a very small space. In this case, it means that life can change course very quickly. Depending on the circumstances, it can be either good or bad, but either way it will be rapid.“
To “turn on a dime” means turning sharply and/or suddenly. To say that “life can turn on a dime” means that a person’s life can change radically in an instant (or very quickly). It’s more often used to mean someone going from a “good place” to a not-so-good place, but it can also mean suddenly taking a turn for the better.
Turn on a dime is an English idiom meaningchange dramatically, suddenly and without warning or coming out of the blue unexpectedly. It usually results from a single event that dramatically alters the course of events either as a negative or a positive.
Stephen King uses that quote quite a bit in his time travel book 11.22.63. It is almost like a theme throughout it. One thing can change history (as in the case of the book) in the blink of an eye. I guess another way of explaining it is that life can change just like that (imagine a finger snap here.)
I had totally prepared to work on my article for the next round of Turntable Talk today, but some things have been tossed into our path that has led to this one instead. I write this as a reminder to you and myself to take nothing for granted. I write this as a reminder to live each day to it’s fullest. I write this as a reminder that life is a fragile thing.
In the baseball game of life, we are thrown many curveballs. Some of those we see coming and some brush us off the plate. Some of those we get ahold of and can knock them out of the park, while many of them we swing at – and miss.
Enjoy every moment. Never miss an opportunity to say “I love you.” Life is too short to hold grudges. These are all things that I have said in one way, shape or form in previous blogs.
It has been hard for me to scroll Facebook lately. So many of my friends are hurting because of sickness, death, grief, or struggle. I pray for each of them daily. Sure, there are plenty of happy moments shared on social media, but in amongst those things are people I care about – hurting. Life turned on a dime for them. Factor in some other news that we’ve been made aware of over the past few weeks and we see life turning on a dime again, this time closer to home.
The storm is off the coast. It is clear as day on the radar. Heading toward us. We will watch it’s course and the skies. We will prepare the best we can. We will do our best to be ready for it. In the meantime, we will enjoy the moments and savor each one.
This blog is part of the next installment of Dave from A Sound Day’s Turntable Talk. This time around, the subject is “cover songs.” Per our instructions:
This time around, wanting to get your thoughts on Cover Songs…what makes a really good one, maybe what your favorite bold one is. Do you like ones really faithful to the original, or ones that spin it in an altogether direction? Or conversely, what one is atrocious to you & why.
By ‘bold’ I mean covers of songs that were already known, and hits. I won’t set any minimum guidelines but as examples, most people never heard The Arrows version of ‘I Love Rock n Roll’ or The Clique’s ‘Superman’ so it was easy for Joan Jett & REM respectively make them their own. But to do a Beatles song, like Joe Cocker did only a couple of years after the original was released… that took …something.
So what cover songs work great for you?
If you do a Google search on “cover songs,” there are plenty of links to articles containing lists of “the best” ones. There are also links to video’s that feature countdowns and lists of “best and worst” cover songs. Those lists, no doubt, will include: Twist and Shout by the Beatles, Proud Mary by Ike and Tina Turner, Hurt by Johnny Cash, Last Kiss by Pearl Jam, Mony Mony by Billy Idol, All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix, and many many more!
Many people are unaware that some of their favorite songs are actually cover songs. A lot of the early Rolling Stones and Beatles songs were actually covers of songs they loved by other artists. In a way, a cover song is the ultimate “hat tip” to a band’s early influence.
Personally, I tend to love cover songs. If you were to grab my iPod, that becomes very clear! I recall a time when I was married to my ex-wife and her iPod was dead. She wanted to go walk and asked if she could take mine instead. Upon returning home, she said to me, “How many different versions of a song do you need?!”
Cover Song Example
Dave asked “what makes a good” cover song? He also asked, “Do you like ones really faithful to the original, or ones that spin it in an altogether direction?“
It is difficult for me to say what exactly makes a good cover song because I think it can be one that is faithful to the original, spun in a different direction, or a mixture of both of those elements. Take for example, the Rodgers and Hart song – Blue Moon.
The song was written in 1934. There were recordings made as early as 1935. One of the best known versions is the Doo Wop hit from 1961 by the Marcels. Dean Martin did a stripped down version with piano and drums that was performed as a slow ballad. Frank Sinatra’s version was more “swingy”. Sam Cooke’s “bounced” and in 1997 a swing band called the Jive Aces covered it as a bouncy boogie woogie sounding cover. Every single version I mentioned, I like for different reasons.
Some of My FavoriteCovers
If I were to make a list of all the cover songs I have on my iPod and feature one a day on my blog, I would have enough songs to write about for about 6 months! Instead, I grabbed a piece of paper and off the top of my head started jotting down the cover songs that came to mind. I gave myself 5 minutes to do this and came up with about 18 songs. The reality is that I know that I will complete this blog and after it posts say, “Oh, man! I forgot (insert cover song here)!” That’s ok.
While it may be hard for me to tell you exactly what I love about cover songs, maybe by giving some examples of some of my favorites, the music will answer the question for both of us.
The first three I came up with are all from movie soundtracks. There is no shortage of cover songs in the movies. These covers will often give new life to old songs – examples include Sweet Child of Mine by Sheryl Crow from Big Daddy, Hallelujah by Rufus Wainwright from Shrek, Hazy Shade of Winter by the Bangels from Less Than Zero, Girl You’ll Be a Woman Soon by Urge Overkill in Pulp Fiction, and, of course, I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston in The Bodygaurd.
Johnny B. Goode – Marty McFly and the Starlighters
From Back to the Future, this is the song Marty McFly plays at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. In the movie, He goes off on a Eddie Van Halen type solo and the entire crowd looks at him stunned. On the soundtrack, however, there is a full version with an additional verse not in the movie. What I love about this version is the stripped down instrumentation, the saxophone and piano, and the whole feel of it. It really sounds like an “early” version of the song. It’s actually quite good.
From the soundtrack of Honeymoon in Vegas, which contains some very good Elvis covers. This one is my favorite. It has the feel of the Elvis version, with a little “boogie woogie” piano feel to it. Simple background vocals enhance the Billy Joel version. One addition I love is the bass drum hit after he sings, “I’m in love ….”
I stumbled on this by accident. This cut was used in the movie Little Big League. I’ve always been a fan of Fats Domino, but this version is just so much better. It has “meat” to it. The driving bass line keeps it moving, the piano is still there, and those saxes in the background – LOVE them. Add the electric guitar and Taj Mahal’s vocal to the mix and it is just perfect! This is one that I find myself listening to at work when I need a “pick up”
Phil Phillips did the original of this, but how can you NOT love this version?! First and foremost, you have Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page as well as Jeff Beck in the group! Add a beautiful string arrangement and background singers to compliment them and you have a top 5 record!
Not many people are aware that this is actually a cover song. It was originally done in 1964 by Gloria Jones. The song was written by Ed Cobb, who was in the Four Preps, and was actually the B-side of a song called My Bad Boy’s Comin’ Home. The original had a “Motown” feel to it, while Soft Cell certainly has more of an 80’s feel to it.
This one was written and recorded by the legendary Otis Redding. Otis’ version is already great, but I love this one equally. It certainly has a great feel to it. It doesn’t sound dated at all. It’s funky and a great jam!
The original was done by Johnny Burnette, who was known for rockabilly, in 1960. It’s not that I dislike the original, I just think Ringo’s version is … more fun. For years I thought Paul McCartney was playing Kazoo in this, however, one article says, “Michael Verity has quoted the song’s producer Richard Perry as revealing that it wasn’t actually a kazoo: “In fact, the solo on ‘You’re Sixteen,’ which sounds like a kazoo or something, was Paul singing very spontaneously as we played that track back, so he’s singing the solo on that.” Ringo’s version remains one of the few No. 1 singles to feature a ‘kazoo-sound’ solo. (It sure sounds like a kazoo to me!) I also love the driving piano bassline in his version.
Elvis did his share of covers, and this is one that comes from his Aloha From Hawaii concert special. I have always preferred this version to the James Taylor version. To me, it is more “bluesy.” I love everything about this cut!!
This one was originally done by the Ronettes in 1963 and featured Phil Spector’s “wall of sound.” Andy Kim recorded his version in 1969 and had a top 10 hit with it. It mimics the “wall of sound” but if you listen in headphones, there is a lot of little stuff going on in the background – jingle bells, glockenspiel, castanets, and more. I remember hearing it a lot as a kid.
This remake I stumbled on by watching MTV!! The original was done by Ivory Joe Hunter in 1956. I remember seeing the Title and Artist show up on the bottom left side of the screen when the video started and couldn’t believe that Dean Martin was on MTV. He recorded it for his The Nashville Sessions Album and I love that it stays true to the original, yet is purely Dean.
It better be good if you are covering the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, and this one is! Aretha did the original in 1968 and then covered herself for a version in the Blues Brothers. I don’t remember how I stumbled on Joan Osborne’s version, but it is different enough that I love it. It has such a cocky attitude to it. Dig it –
Originally done by Wilson Pickett, this is one of greatest soul songs of all time! I heard this on the Blues channel on Sirius XM and fell in love with it. I’ve always dug Buddy Guy and while this stays pretty true to the original, it has a sound of its own!
Carl Perkins seemed to have all of his songs covered and many times, his songs became associated with the other artist rather than him. That’s the case with Blue Suede Shoes – it is Elvis. Elvis’ version is so much better than Carl’s in my opinion.
Originally done in 1952 by the late Hank Williams Sr. this takes a whiney and twangy song and cranks it up about 10 notches. We had Crystal in for a show when I worked at the country station and she was fantastic. This was on her debut album. I’m not sure she isn’t a huge star. Her voice is amazing and she is very talented.
Written by and a hit for Don Henley, I have always loved this song. The content of the song is about mass media and how they exploit just about everything. Henley had a top 5 hit with it. I didn’t even know that Lisa Marie Presley had done this song until I heard it on some Pandora playlist. Her vocal is sultry and sells the content lyrically. A great cut!
A cover of James Brown’s classic! James has a hit with this in 1956 and it went top 10 on the R&B charts. I think Delbert McClinton is someone who just doesn’t get enough praise for all he does. He’s a singer songwriter who can play many instruments and has released many albums. This version comes from his Honky Tonk and Blues album, which is a personal favorite.
Jimmy Van Heusen composed this song in 1962 with lyrics by Sammy Cahn. According to Mel Torme’, the song was written for Judy Garland to sing on her TV show. It was written as a parody to her well-known problems. Many people have done versions on the song – Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Eddie Fisher, Julie London, and more. Michael Buble’ used this as the title track for his 2007 album. It get’s me right from the opening “walking” bass lick. Buble’ has made a career out of covering so many songs from the Great American Songbook, as well as many originals. He has a great band backing him and he sings this effortlessly.
I love Bill Withers. he wrote and recorded this for his 1972 Still Bill album. It was a smash and was a number 1 song. I never cared for the cover version. Yes, it stayed very close to the original, but I just never cared for the arrangement at all. It’s almost annoying to me. It is actually playing in my headphones as I am typing this. To me, the whole 80’s synth sounds just sound out of place. Not to mention the whole “We be jammin” part – URGH!! One good thing about this was that it won a Grammy for Bill Withers as the writer for Best R&B song.
So what can we say about cover songs? Are they done as a tribute to the original artist? Are they done because it’s a favorite to perform? Are they done to “improve” on the original? Are they done because an artist feels it should be presented in a different way? Who knows, really!? One could easily ask the same questions about all the crappy movie remakes that have come about.
Some of my favorite concert memories are hearing the singer do a song that is totally unexpected. My favorite memory of the Billy Joel concert I attended wasn’t Piano Man. It was when he talked about loving the Motor City and breaking into his own version of I Heard it Through The Grapevine! Magical!! Aaron Tippin played a county fair for us and one point he threw on a fedora and sang Fly Me To the Moon, which blew my mind! Very cool songs – never released – but covers, nonetheless.
In the end, a good song is a good song. I love listening to a great song done by many other singers. It says something about the song melodically and lyrically. I don’t always love the cover, but that’s ok. It’s fun to hear the artist’s take on it.
I want to thank Dave for allowing me to ramble on and on about this month’s topic. I’ve wanted to feature cover songs on my site, but just couldn’t figure out how to present it. I guess I better stop typing because the more I think about it … the more songs are coming to my head!
This blog is part of Turntable Talk, a feature created by Dave at A Sound Day.
Since I started this blog four years ago, I have wanted to write a blog about The Beatles. Outside of a few “mentions” and a couple guest blogs from my buddy Max, I have just never tackled a Beatle Blog. So let me tell you how I was finally “forced” to write about the boys from Liverpool.
Of the many blogs I follow, many of them are musically oriented. One of those is A Sound Day. Dave is the author, and you can follow Dave’s blog here: https://soundday.wordpress.com/
Dave reached out to a few of us and had an idea for a monthly blog topic. The topic would be music oriented and geared toward something that we’d all be familiar with. Each of us will write on that and it will be featured on his blog. The first topic suggested was “The Beatles – why are we talking about them 50 (+) years on?”
With that being a “base” to start with, we were given the option to write about (1) why they are still relevant (2) why they remain popular (3) is their popularity justified, etc… The Beatles themselves was the “prompt” and we can veer off how we want to. That being said, the questions that Dave presented are among many “sub” topics that I have in my notebook (Beatles Cover Songs, Songs covered by the Beatles, Favorite album, Top 10 favorites, etc…)
I have to admit, I had a difficult time trying to decide what angle I was going to go with. Then I began to think, “What if someone was unfamiliar with The Beatles? How would I introduce that person to their music? If I could only pick 10 of their songs to give an overall picture of the group, what would they be?” I made a list. This blog will reflect that list.
Before I go on, let me say that I hate my list! I cannot even begin to tell you how much I struggled to narrow it down to 10 songs that encompassed what I felt expressed why the Beatles were so fantastic. Oh, the songs that I cut from my list! There are SO many fantastic songs, and no doubt, you will question why certain ones did not make this list. I found myself questioning that, too.
After editing, re-editing, adding and removing songs, and editing again, I finally said “This is the list. No going back.” Like it or not, here are the 10 songs that I chose to introduce someone to the Fab Four:
I Saw Her Standing There
This has always been one of my favorite tracks. Paul’s “1-2-3-4” count off into the driving guitar grabs me every time. It was the first track of their first album – what a way to start an album! After all the years, I was still playing this at weddings and parties when I was DJing and it always filled the dance floor.
The story goes that Paul saw a teenage gal dancing the Twist at a dance and that event was the basis for this song. It is hard not to tap your foot as you listen to this one. (Side note: I feel the guitar solo in this song is kind of lame. The boys were still quite young at this time. Compare this solo with solos from songs just 3 years later and you can get a feel for just how far they came musically.)
If I Fell
When I think of the Beatles, I think of their harmonies. As I tried to pick songs, I tried to find one that showcased some of those harmonies. In a Playboy interview in 1984, Paul said If I Fell was recorded during “our close-harmony period.”
John called this his “first attempt at a ballad proper.” As a music guy, I love the chord changes in this song. Simple chords, diminished chords, and some ninth chords are all featured in the song. It is simple, yet complex.
On a personal note, after my divorce, I heard this song on the Beatles channel on Sirius XM just as my current wife and I were starting to date. I related to these lyrics. Who isn’t scared about starting a new relationship after being hurt by someone?
Got To Get You Into My Life
Brian Epstein wrote in his 1964 autobiography that the Beatles were turned down by Decca Records. He was told “guitar groups are on their way out.” I chose this song because it shows that they were more than just a guitar group. This was the first time the group ever used a horn section in one of their songs.
Paul admits that the song is an ode to marijuana. That is certainly not why it made my list. I’ll be honest, I never would have guessed that. I always heard it as a guy wanting a girl. I guess I’m just dumb. I chose it because, as a horn player, I loved the brass in it.
I’ll Follow The Sun
As you can see by the photo above, the song is credited to both Lennon and McCartney as writers, but the truth is that Paul wrote it. He remembered, “I wrote that in my front parlour in Forthlin Road. I was about 16. ‘I’ll Follow the Sun’ was one of those very early ones. I seem to remember writing it just after I’d had the flu and I had that cigarette. I remember standing in the parlour, with my guitar, looking out through the lace curtains of the window, and writing that one.”
He said that the group was always ready to sound different. They didn’t want to get into a place where all their songs sounded the same. This one certainly was a very different sound. I love the guitar work in this one. It is beautiful. This is another song that features some good Paul/John harmonies.
Eight Days A Week
This is a song that never left my list. It has always been one of my top Beatles songs. It’s a feel good song. I love the message of this song – There aren’t enough days in a week to show how much he cares about his love.
This was the group’s second #1 song in the US. It is just a solid Beatles pop song. It’s hard NOT to like it. There are varying stories as to how they came up with the title. Some sources say it was a “Ringoism,” something Ringo said that struck a chord with John and Paul. Another source says that Paul was in a car and he asked the chauffeur how he was. The driver supposedly replied, “working hard – working eight days a week.”
It is one of many Beatles songs that features “hand clapping.”
While the bulk of the Beatles songs were penned by Lennon and McCartney, George Harrison was responsible for writing some fantastic songs. A perfect example is Something. It is what some call “the perfect love song.” Frank Sinatra (who never really had a lot of nice things to say about the Beatles) even called it “the greatest love song of the past 50 years.”
George says he wrote it “on the piano while we were making The White Album. I had a break while Paul was doing some overdubbing so I went into an empty studio and began to write. That’s really all there is to it, except the middle took some time to sort out.” George actually gave the song to Joe Cocker a year before they cut it.
The song was George’s first single and first number 1. It has been covered by many artists, and George has said that his favorite cover was done by James Brown!
A Hard Day’s Night
This song had to be on my list. Musicologist Alan Pollack says that this song “arguably holds a place within the upper echelon of the Beatles catalog.”
According to A Hard Day’s Write, Ringo is quoted as saying, “I came up with the phrase ‘a hard day’s night.’ It just came out. We went to do a job and we worked all day and we happened to work all night. I came out, still thinking it was day and said, ‘It’s been a hard day…’ looked around, saw that it was dark and added…’ ‘s night.”
There is a lesson in this song – If you work hard, romantic and domestic bliss will follow.
This song gets me from that opening chord! It’s also one of the great cowbell songs of our time!
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
This one is another George Harrison composition. Some have called this his greatest song. To me, this is a great example of just how mature the group had become in 4 years. The guitar work in this song is fantastic (Eric Clapton appears on the song). I love the interplay between the piano and high hat cymbal in the intro.
When I worked in Classic Rock, someone played me a clip of a comedian (can’t remember who) who goes off on classic rock radio. He says that there are more classic rock songs that “Stairway to Heaven,” “Layla,” and “While My Guitar gently Weeps.” This is funny, but it is a good example of just how popular this song is with music fans.
This song has the distinction of being covered by more artists than any other song in history. Paul calls it his “most successful song” and says that it is “amazing that it came to me in a dream.” Paul stated that he had the melody from the dream but didn’t have the words – so he “blocked it out with ‘Scrambled Eggs’.”
The sheer beauty of this song is in the arrangement. It is Paul, a guitar and a string quartet – and it works. It is hard to imagine it any other way (despite the countless covers). When Paul played it for the group, Ringo said it didn’t need any drums and John and George said it didn’t need any more guitar, and from there, it became the first “solo” song.
Fun Fact: The four members of the string quartet had never played together as a group before they played on the session.
Right up until the time I was ready to start writing, the final question I had was – “Let it Be” or “Hey Jude”? Which one do I include? In the end, Hey Jude won out because it is sort of an anthem. It is a stand alone Beatles song. It’s like none other.
At 7 minutes long, it is what radio people called a “bathroom song.” Before the days of automation, DJ’s had to start a new record when one ended. Today, computers do that for them and they can walk away from the computer or studio for 10 minutes at a time as long as they didn’t have to talk. Back in the day, though, that wasn’t the case.
If you really stop and think about it, the song itself is only 3 minutes long. The last 4 minutes is just a refrain and fade out. The end of the record is longer than the song itself!
The song was written by Paul for John Lennon’s son Julian, who was then 5 years old. He was upset about his father and mother getting a divorce. It was written to help console him. Julian said, “It’s hard to imagine that this man was thinking about me and my life so much that he wrote a song about me…If I’m in a bar and the song comes on the radio, I still get goose pimples.”
I was dead set on Let it Be being the final song, until I listened back to both. Hey Jude is more “Beatles” to me, in that we have great lyrics, great instrumentation, and great harmonies. Let It Be, almost falls into that “solo” status, as it is pretty much Paul.
After writing on these 10 songs, I looked back over my initial list of like 50 songs. It makes me sad that I didn’t include some of them. Others, I had on the list just because I liked them. Should I have added a Ringo vocal song? There were some good ones, but … no.
So back to Dave’s question: “The Beatles – why are we talking about them 50 (+) years on?”
Their stuff from 1964 still sounds fresh and stands out. People still request their songs, sing along with their songs, and dance to their songs! Movies are being made about them (Yesterday, Get Back). Their albums still sell. They have their own Sirius XM channel. The only answer I can come up with is “Because they are THAT good.”
Thanks, Dave for allowing me to take part in this! I look forward to reading the other posts from you and my music blogger friends.