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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lady Antebellum charted with “Need You Now”: August 29, 2009

Originally posted August 29, 2012.

image from cmt.com

Lady Antebellum first made its mark in 2008 with its eponymous debut, an album which included the country chart-topping “I Run to You.” The country-pop trio had no problem battling the sophomore slump. The second album’s lead-off single, “Need You Now,” was a multi-format smash which first topped the Billboard country charts, but later reached the top slot of the adult contemporary and adult top 40 charts as well. It peaked at #2 on the pop charts.

The song also took home Grammys for Song and Record of the Year, as well as ACM Awards for Single and Song of the Year. It was named the #2 song of the year by Billboard, behind only Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok,” WK and the most-played song on jukeboxes in 2010. SF As of April 2011, it was one of the top ten most downloaded songs in history and the top country download of all time. WK

Lyrically, the song (which all three band members helped write) is basically a booty call. Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott said, “All three of us know what it’s like to get to that point where you feel lonely enough that you make a late night phone call that you very well could regret the next day.” SF Member Charles Kelley said record execs were leery about the line, “I’m a little drunk,” but were convinced to leave the line in. WK

Billboard’s Ken Tucker said the song “will connect with anyone who’s ever dumped a significant other and regretted it in the early morning hours.” WK Critics also commented on how Scott’s voice fit perfectly with the song’s dark tone (Jim Malec, the 9513). WK Roughstock’s Bobby Peacock said her traded-off lead vocals with, as Tucker said, “a soulful Kelley,” WK gave the song more depth. WK

Need You Now


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Friday, August 14, 2009

Woodstock "Remembered" - by Someone Who Wasn't There


Check the Dave’s Music Database Facebook page for daily music-related posts. Also check out books by Dave Whitaker, including the collection of past blog entries, No One Needs 21 Versions of “Purple Haze”…And Other Essays from a Musical Obsessive. This essay is included in that book.


Note: the original 8/14/09 post was re-edited in August 2011 with images and videos added.

When the original Woodstock thrust itself upon the world four decades ago, I was all of two years old. Considering my parents were neither interested in rock & roll nor the counterculture, I have no great tale of toddling along in a diaper amidst the hippie masses. I didn’t behold Jimi Hendrix wailing on “The Star Spangled Banner” or witness Country Joe’s infamous – ahem – “FISH” chant (or any of the behavior it advocated). There will be no firsthand accounts from me of seeing people destined for the “freak out” tent or slithering nude through the mud. All I’ve got to “remember” what transpired at Yasgur’s farm on that August weekend in 1969 is a computer hard drive stocked with hours of live performances.



There’s an old joke that if all those who claimed to be there really were, then the 400,000+ official festival goers would swell to millions. Subtract those who may have been present physically but not necessarily otherwise, and there’s no telling how many people were or weren’t there. It begs the question of whether actually being there was a prerequisite to claiming the event as one’s own.

Perhaps more importantly is the question of whether it still matters. Certainly Woodstock has been co-opted as the definitive symbol of a generation’s passions, be they the more hedonistic pleasures of sex, drugs, and rock & roll or the more idealistic dreams of peace, love, and harmony in the face of the Viet Nam War and the draft. Interestingly, there isn’t complete agreement on the significance of Woodstock even among actual attendees. Some “treasured the festival as an adventure that changed their lives. Others found it nothing but a messy, dirty, disorganized debacle.” BWC



So what lasting effect can that “Aquarian Exposition” boast amidst debate over what it meant even then? In the USA Today article, writer Jerry Shriver asks if “Woodstock’s organic, peace-and-love-through-music legacy still resonates – and whether it’s relevant to young people living in a high-tech, marketing-driven era of splintered musical tastes, widely diverse political views and short attention spans.” JS

Festival co-founder Michael Lang asserts that “a lot of those seeds planted in the Woodstock era are beginning to flower…From the green movement to sustainable development and organic gardening, all these things seem to be coming back to us.” JS Sam Yasgur, whose father Max Yasgur offered up his farm as the festival grounds, says that Woodstock was about “the right to gather, the right to criticize, the right to dress funny, the right to listen to your own music.” JS That message resonates with the youth of any generation.



Max Yasgur


Then there’s the business model of Woodstock. As Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell points out, “the staging of Woodstock, haphazard as it was, remains important because it influences every large concert and festival staged today.” JS The original festival treated its guests to a bevy of inadequate conditions including lack of shelter, food, water, bathroom facilities, and parking. Today’s festivals have largely heeded those lessons – even if the variety of festival options has spread the audience thin enough that today’s festival planners are unlikely to face gate crashing on the scale of Woodstock.

Here’s the thing – even if you dismiss Woodstock as a symbol of ‘60s counterculture and the “make love, not war” ethos or as the how-to-make-a-buck-at-a-festival-gone-haywire business model, it mattered. It wasn’t just what ABC News called “the most celebrated rock festival of all time” SDJ for those reasons – it was also about the music, stupid! As Justin Gage, founder of the music blog Aquarium Drunkard, asks, “Were people going to Woodstock for change or to party and listen to music? I think it’s more of the latter.” JS



Creem magazine editor Dave Marsh cynically states, “It wasn’t utopian…Utopian has plumbing. It wasn’t idyllic. Woodstock is important because it was big.” JS Oddly, what generates the least press is the festival’s astounding lineup – Jimi Hendrix; the Who; the Grateful Dead; Crosby, Stills & Nash; Creedence Clearwater Revival; Janis Joplin; Santana; Jefferson Airplane; Sly & the Family Stone; the Band; Joan Baez; Joe Cocker; Blood, Sweat & Tears and more. Oh sure, there were some “where are they now” performers thrown in the mix (the Keef Hartley Band? Quill? Bert Sommer?), but mostly the big names at Woodstock are still big names today.

So, in response to the question of whether or not Woodstock still matters, I can speak only from the perspective of a rock music fan who wasn’t among the throngs. I’ll be spending as much time as I can this weekend glued to my computer, downloading and listening to music while scouring the Internet for others’ reminiscing about the events of 40 years ago. Alas, there will be no mud or nudity involved in my exploit; I’ll be wearing a freshly-laundered tie-dye shirt.




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Les Is More

image from waukeshaart.com

Elvis gave rock and roll its swagger. The Beatles gave it pop. But Les Paul, dead at age 94, gave it its sound. Rolling Stone called him “the father of the electric guitar” and “the most influential rock guitarist ever” (Mark Kemp). MTV’s blog said “it’s impossible to overestimate the impact guitarist and inventor Les Paul…had on rock music.” Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards said, “without Les Paul, generations of flash little punks like us would be in jail or cleaning toilets” (Jay Lustig, New Jersey’s Star-Ledger).

As the inventor of the first solid-body electric guitar at a time when hollow-body guitars were the norm, Paul “revolutionized music and created rock ‘n’ roll as surely as Elvis Presley and the Beatles” (Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press release). That alone would have snared him a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but in transforming “the way sound is recorded via innovations such as multi-tracking, reverb and close-miking” (Lustig), Paul also became an Inventors Hall of Fame inductee. Who knew?

While it wasn’t until 1952 that first issued a Les Paul solid-body guitar, Paul’s inclination for retooling the guitar dates back to 1929. Disappointed that he couldn’t get more sound from his guitar, a thirteen-year-old Paul placed a telephone receiver and later a phonograph needle in the guitar to amplify the sound (Moody), creating “a working prototype of the electric guitar” (Moody).

By 1936, he recorded as country act Rhubarb Red and appeared on records by blues singer Georgia White. He later formed a jazz trio and, in 1938, moved to New York to work with Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians’ popular dance orchestra (Billboard). He also would work with Bing Crosby, Nat “King” Cole, and the Andrews Sisters. He and his wife Mary Ford landed a slew of hits on the pop charts in the ‘50s.

In 1947, Paul released “Lover,” “the first commercially available multi-track recording” (Lustig). The song “changed the course of popular music as much as Elvis Presley’s ‘Sun Sessions’…[Paul] layered eight guitar tracks on top of each other: he would record one part on a wax disc, then record himself playing along with the earlier recording. He kept doing that until all eight parts were on one disc” (Lustig).

At his death, he was still doing a weekly gig at a New York jazz club, despite arthritis that forced him to reinvent, yet again, how to use his guitar.

As Paul said when inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, “I have been credited with inventing a few things you guys are using…About the most I can say is, ‘Have fun with my toys.’” Speaking on behalf of rock and roll fans everywhere, your toys have given us great joy. Thank you, Les Paul.