Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Songs from A to Z!

From Tom Petty's action-packed anthem "American Dream Plan B", to the zephyrean zen of Conor Oberst's "Zigzagging Towards the Light", we've got 'em all! Here they are:

"American Dream Plan B" by Tom Petty: Is there a better way to start out this week's blog than with a solid, rockin' tune like Tom Petty's "American Plan B"?! I don't think so! One of the greatest advantages Tom Petty has over fellow "heartland rockers", like Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp, is that Petty typically seems to stick to rock 'n' roll music more than they do, instead of switching between rock and folk/country. Apparently, this time around, Petty wanted his entire album to have a no-frills rock sound, from start to finish. That being said, "American Dream Plan B" brings his newest album, "Hypnotic Eye" off to a great start!

"Out On the Street" by Spanish Gold: This marks the second time that a member of My Morning Jacket has joined a supergroup, the first of whom was lead singer, Jim James, with his side project, Monsters of Folk. This time, MMJ drummer Patrick Hallahan takes a swing at joining a supergroup, along with Dante Schwebel from Canadian indie-folk/rock group, City and Colour, and Adrian Quesada from Grupo Fantasma. Though two thirds of the group started out as folkies, their song "Out On the Street" doesn't fit that description, and is instead a rather soulful number that sounds remarkably like "Somebody's Watching Me" by '80s one-hit wonder and R & B musician, Rockwell. The coincidence in sound to that song is not accidental, as the members of Spanish Gold wanted their sound to recall the R & B and early hip-hop music of the 1980's, since all three of them grew up watching MTV during the first couple of years the channel was on the air.

"The Line" by Phish: And here we have yet another soulful, slinky, jazzy track, albeit in a more mellow, blissed out mood, typical of Phish. At least it SEEMS like a typical Phish song until you realize that the song is actually about a basketball player! Not exactly a common subject among post-hippie jam bands, but apparently the members of Phish were big fans of basketball player, Darius Washington, Jr., so they decided to dedicate a song to him. The song is written from the perspective of a basketball player whose destiny hangs in the balance (or "the line", hence the title of the song). I'm the last person you'd ever want to have join a basketball team, but I still appreciate this song.

"Zigzagging Towards the Light" by Conor Oberst: You've gotta love the title of this song!! It uses both an unusual letter and an unusual word beginning with the letter, and adding "towards the light" after the first word of the title makes it sound poetic! The song is a laid back, roots-y folk tune with a rock 'n' roll undercurrent, almost like a long, lost Traveling Wilburys song. The title is not the only poetic lyric in the song. It is full of cosmic sounding metaphors and descriptions, actually, like "my mind's a weathervane, it spins around just like a top", "it forms a figure eight, and goes on for eternity", and "I fly by interstate across a purple mountain range". So basically, "Zigzagging Towards the Light" is the tale of a dissatisfied youth product of bohemian pop culture trying to search for the meaning of life through dream-like descriptions of his surroundings. It's like Kerouac's "On the Road" set to music!