my listening year 2011

Surf's Up (Piano Demo)
  • Surf's Up (Piano Demo)
  • Brian Wilson
  • The Smile Sessions
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Brian Wilson, “Surf’s Up: Piano Demo” off The Beach Boys’ Smile Sessions

The Smile Sessions is out today, and I’ve been listening to this song on repeat. Supposedly, Wilson and Van Dyke Parks wrote it in a single night in Wilson’s sandbox. (He had his grand piano at home put in the middle of a huge sandbox.)

In November 1966, Wilson played the song for Inside Pop - The Rock Revolution a CBS News Special on pop music that Leonard Bernstein hosted. You can watch him play it in this clip. Beautiful.

Tom Waits, “Back In The Crowd,” off Bad As Me (2011)

Waits on the song:

Well, that song was an attempt at some of the– you know what they call it– Spanish Tinge. It’s actually a musical category, like “Under the Boardwalk” is Spanish Tinge. “It’s Over” by Roy Orbison, Spanish Tinge. It was done in the 60s. You can still hear it, but most people don’t even know that expression.

[Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo] put castanets and claves on it– you know [imitates Spanish Tinge]– but this was a little more subtle. My wife had this melody on a tape recorder, just something she sang in the car or wherever, all by herself– [sings a melody]. Like that. And I just rescued it from oblivion. Sometimes words are just music themselves. Like “Chicago” is a very musical sounding name.

Album drops tomorrow.

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Jerry Butler “I’m A Telling You” (1961)

I get up, I go to work
I try real hard to do my job
But before the day is done
I found I done something wrong

I’m a telling you
I’m a telling you

Days are getting longer and
My nights are getting shorter
And my way gets darker
And my work gets harder

I can’t stop listening to this. Fun fact: Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield sang in the same church choir and went on to sing together in The Impressions. (This song was actually written by Mayfield—and he’s singing harmony!) Butler also wrote “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” with Otis Redding!