Category Archives: Paul

Steve Earle – I Ain’t Ever Satisfied

I’m participating in Hanspostcard‘s Song Draft – here’s my eighth pick.

For my 8th round pick in the song draft, I’d like to feature a song by one of my favorite artists, Steve Earle.  Together with Bruce Springsteen, John Hiatt, and Frank Turner, Steve Earle would comprise the Mt. Rushmore, if you will, of my favorite artists.

I Aint’ Ever Satisfied is off of Earle’s second record, Exit 0, released in 1987.  Given Earle’s life history (the varied musical styles, from country to rock to folk to bluegrass; the many record companies, string of marriages, and drug and addiction issues) it could perhaps be viewed as his theme song.  The singer in the song is never satisfied, always moving on to the next thing, culminating in this humorous conclusion:

Last night I dreamed I made it to the promise land
I was standin’ at the gate and I had the key in my hand
Saint Peter said “Come on in boy, you’re finally home”
I said “No thanks Pete, I’ll just be moving along”

I’ve always loved that image, of Earle standing at the gate, and the bearded St. Peter welcoming him to heaven, and Earle saying no thanks, and walking off into the clouds (or whatever).

This is one of my favorite songs by Steve Earle, and that’s saying something since there are many.  I think part of it is because of how I first heard it.  I was driving in my car, flipping channels on the radio, looking for a song I recognized.  I hit one channel and heard the initial acoustic guitar part of the song.  Not recognizing it, I quickly flipped away.  And then for some reason, I can’t tell you why, I decided to flip back to just hear a bit more of the song.  And that’s when I heard the drums and piano kick in, and the main melody start, and I was hooked!  Luckily at the end of the song, the DJ announced who it was, and I immediately knew I had to seek out the album.  I had heard of Steve Earle but didn’t know any of his music.  I loved Exit 0, went out and got his first album Guitar Town, loved it, and have been a fan ever since.  In my mind, Steve Earle is one of the best American songwriters out there.

Would I have become such a big fan of Steve Earle if I had not flipped back to I Ain’t Ever Satisfied? Perhaps, as I’m sure I would have been exposed to his music some other way.  But this experience made me feel that I was destined to be a fan if that makes sense.  Something made me switch back to the song.  And it taught me an important lesson – always be open to hearing new music, give a new song a chance even if it doesn’t sound like what you are expecting.  Don’t ever be satisfied, if you will, by what you know or enjoy.

Roy Orbison – Running Scared

I’m participating in HansPostcard’s 2021 Song Draft. Here’s my 7th round pick.

Ok so far during the draft, I have 3 songs from the 1970s, 2 from the 1980s, and 1 from the 1990s.  Time to go back, to the foundational times, and feature a song by, for my money, one of rock and roll’s best voices ever – Roy Orbison.  Orbison’s voice seemed otherworldly at times, and gave his songs an added power emotion that would exist with someone else singing it.

While there are any number of songs I could feature, I have always loved Running Scared.  It was released in March 1961, and went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, #9 on the UK Singles chart.

 Written by Orbison and his songwriting partner Joe Melson, the song is a great example of the kind of melodramatic mini-opera type song that Orbison excelled at.  Its unusual in that it has no chorus, and begins in a bolero style, with the insistent guitar strumming immediately setting the tension of the song.  The singer is with his girl but is “running scared” that her former lover is going to show up and steal her away. As AllMusic puts its: “The keys to the building tension of “Running Scared” are the mounting layers of instrumentation to the arrangement, as orchestral instruments and backup voices slowly pile on over the first few verses to create an atmosphere of growing suspense.”  You can feel the singer’s anxiety building, his insecurity about his status with his girl evident in his voice.  Then the climax of the song, as his worst fears are realized, and there in front of them stands the former lover.  What will his girl do?  The music builds to a crescendo as she makes her choice.  It’s a testimony to the power of Orbison’s powerful vocal performance that even though the lyric’s rhyme scheme kind of gives it away (“be” doesn’t rhyme with “him”), you aren’t totally sure what’s going to happen until the final line (“ You turned around and walked away with me.”  A life time’s worth of drama, all in 2 minutes and 15 seconds!

A couple of interesting facts I discovered while researching the song, all according to Songfacts – Orbison and Melson claim they wrote the song in 5 minutes. The recording engineer for the session gave the song an exaggerated dynamic range – while most songs of that era had a range of 3 decibels, Running Scared had a range of 24 decibels. 

This was the last song Roy Orbison ever sang live. As was his usual habit, he closed his December 4, 1988 show with Running Scared, just two days before his sudden passing from a heart attack on December 6.

As an added bonus, I’ve also included a clip of Orbison performing Running Scared live as part of A Black and White Night, a 1988 concert film that featured Orbison backed by an all star band, and I mean all star – Elvis Presley’s TCB band, along with Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther, k.d. lang, Jennifer Warnes, Bonnie Raitt, among others.  It gives you a sense of Orbison’s incredible talent to hear him sing the song live, and its also a kick to see all these famous musicians in the background and happy, in fact honored to be backing Orbison.

Richard Thompson – Beeswing

This past week my selection for Hanspostcard‘s song draft was 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, by Richard Thompson, available here. In the comment thread, fellow blogger Aphoristical pointed out that Thompson’s Beeswing was just as good. Having not heard it in a while, I went back and listened to it, and I have to agree!

Since I haven’t posted any Sunday morning song in forever, I thought this would be a great choice

Beeswing is off of Thompson’s 1994 album Mirror Blue. Like 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, its a slower ballad about two doomed lovers, although this time there’s no death or motorcycles involved. This time, the individual needs and desires of the two, and their inability to agree about what they want in life and in their relationship, leaves each alone by the end of the song, and regretting the ways things turned out (at least from the protagonist’s perspective, but maybe from both?).

The couple meet working in a wash house, and he’s immediately taken with her beauty, but she wants no type of commitment:

Oh she was a rare thing, fine as a bee’s wing
So fine a breath of wind might blow her away
She was a lost child, oh she was running wild
She said “As long as there’s no price on love, I’ll stay
And you wouldn’t want me any other way”

They move on from the wash house, living here and there, until he suggests settling down – that doesn’t go over too well:

And I said that we might settle down, get a few acres dug
Fire burning in the hearth and babies on the rug
She said “Oh man, you foolish man, it surely sounds like hell
You might be lord of half the world, you’ll not own me as well”

They end up splitting up, and we get to the song’s conclusion, where the man laments how things turned out:

And they say her flower is faded now, hard weather and hard booze
But maybe
that’s just the price you pay for the chains you refuse

Oh she was a rare thing, fine as a bee’s wing
And I miss her more than ever words could say
If I could just taste all of her wildness now
If I could hold her in my arms today
Well I wouldn’t want her any other way

Thompson’s brilliance is in telling this tragic love story so eloquently in a five and a half minute song – the lyrics stand alone even if you removed the music – you feel the heady early romance, the pain and torment as things start to go astray, and the bitter regret looking back at a lost love.

Beeswing is a great example of Thompson’s brilliance as a songwriter.

2021 SONG DRAFT- ROUND 6 PICK 4- MIKE AND PAUL’S MUSIC BLOG SELECTS- ‘1952 VINCENT BLACK LIGHTNING’- RICHARD THOMPSON

2021 Song Draft- Round 6 Pick 4- Mike and Paul’s Music Blog selects- ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’- Richard Thompson. Richard Thompson 1952 Vincent …

2021 SONG DRAFT- ROUND 6 PICK 4- MIKE AND PAUL’S MUSIC BLOG SELECTS- ‘1952 VINCENT BLACK LIGHTNING’- RICHARD THOMPSON

2021 SONG DRAFT- ROUND 2 PICK 8: MIKE AND PAUL’S MUSIC BLOG SELECTS-‘INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET’- BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

2021 Song Draft- Round 2 Pick 8: Mike and Paul’s Music Blog selects- ‘Incident On 57th Street’- Bruce Springsteen. Bruce Springsteen – Incident on …

2021 SONG DRAFT- ROUND 2 PICK 8: MIKE AND PAUL’S MUSIC BLOG SELECTS-‘INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET’- BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

Five of my Favorite Christmas Songs

Well, its Christmas Eve 2020 here and while this year has been unique (and not in the good sense) the holidays helps anchor us to the traditions that make our lives meaningful and that can carry us through these challenging times. Yes the pandemic has altered Christmas as well, but it won’t stop me from posting some of my favorite Christmas songs! While there are many to choose from, here are five of my current favorites.

Eurythmics – Winter Wonderland

From the very first A Very Special Christmas benefit album from 1987 – I really love Annie Lennox’s vocals on this track, a very Eurythmics take on this classic. While the album was a mixed bag (imho) this was one of the standouts.

Fairytale of New York – The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl)

I’ve heard plenty of other versions of this song, but for me the original cannot be matched. There’s something about Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl’s vocals, and the Irish instrumentation that does it for me.

Pretenders – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Another standout from the A Very Special Christmas album – love Chrissie Hynde’s vocals on this.

Bruce Springsteen and the E. St. Band – Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Of course this Bruce holiday classic would make my list – probably one of most popular rock versions of a Christmas classic ever. There’s nothing like hearing this song live in concert (which I’ve been lucky to hear several times) and hear old Clarence’s HoHoHo. Really miss the Big Man. Here’s a live version from 1978.

Bob Dylan – Must be Santa

I discovered this Dylan cover a few years ago and its my new favorite. To be honest, the video makes it for me – Dylan in the white hat/Santa hat, the accordion player, the unexplained altercation and escape and the exchange of glances between Dylan and Santa. Looks to be a fantastically fun Christmas party!

Hearing wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!