Friday, June 29, 2007

Crowded House released “Silent House”

Silent House

Crowded House

Writer(s): Neil Finn, Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines, Emily Robison (see lyrics here)

Released: 6/29/2007 (album cut on Time on Earth)

First Charted: --

Peak: 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming

Awards (Crowded House):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Dixie Chicks):

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Silent House” was a joint writing effort between Neil Finn and the Dixie Chicks. Neither released it as a single, but both recorded versions. It was first featured on the latter’s 2006 album Taking the Long Way Home, which won the Grammy for Album of the Year. A year later, Finn recorded his version of the song with his band, Crowded House. It was featured on Time on Earth, the band’s first album in fourteen years.

Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks said the song is about her grandmother, who’d been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for a decade. The song reflects on “memories of her triggered by walking through the house.” SF She described it as “a sad song that tries to be sweet” BT and that it takes the perspective that “it’s okay to forget, I’ll try and carry on.” BT

The Dixie Chicks’ version “is quintessential country, complete with banjos a-plucking and fiddles a-whining.” GW It isn’t a fast song, but the drums do give it momentum. Vocally, Maines has a “strong, forthright” voice and “the melody is firmly in her wheelhouse.” GW

By contrast, on the Crowded House version, the drums are “barely there: less percussive, and more like thumps, like heartbeats.” GW Additionally, Finn’s “voice is softer, more vulnerable.” GW As such, the latter version ends up striking a more somber, reflective tone. The song takes on even more weight with the knowledge that Paul Hester, Finn’s bandmate in Crowded House and Split Enz, had committed suicide in 2005. While a different kind of loss, one can’t help but wonder if Finn thinks about Hester when he sings the song.


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First posted 5/6/2020; last updated 11/13/2023.

Crowded House released Time on Earth

Time on Earth

Crowded House

Released: June 29, 2007

Peak: 46 US, 3 UK, 38 CN, 11 AU

Sales (in millions): 0.45 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: adult alternative rock


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Nobody Wants To
  2. Don’t Stop Now (6/16/07, –)
  3. She Called Up (9/17/07, –)
  4. Say That Again
  5. Pour Le Monde (12/10/07, --)
  6. Even a Child
  7. Heaven That I’m Making
  8. A Sigh
  9. Silent House
  10. English Trees
  11. Walked Her Way Down
  12. Transit Lounge
  13. You Are the One to Make Me Cry
  14. People Are Like Suns

Total Running Time: 58:31

The Players:

  • Neil Finn (vocals, guitar, piano)
  • Nick Seymour (bass, backing vocals) Mark Hart (piano, keyboards, electric guitar, harmony vocals)
  • Matt Sherrod (drums, backing vocals)


3.790 out of 5.00 (average of 21 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Crowded House released four albums in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Frontman Neil Finn then ventured out as a solo artist and released “the kaleidoscopic Try Whistling This and the hazy One Nil, both book-ended by albums with his brother Tim.” AMG Year after year went by without new music from Crowded House.

Then tragedy struck in 2005 when Paul Hester, who’d drummed with Finn on all four Crowded House albums and even worked with him back in his Split Enz days – committed suicide. This sparked Neil to reconnect with Nick Seymour, the bassist on all four Crowded House albums. Multi-instrumentalist Mark Hart, who’d worked on Together Alone, also rejoined the fold and what had initially been intended as Finn’s third solo album evolved into the first Crowded House album in fourteen years.

However, this still looks and sounds more like a Neil Finn solo outing than a Crowded House effort. Most of the album was recorded with session musicians – nost notably guitarist Johnny Marr of the Smiths. The team of Finn, Seymour, Hart, and Sherrod only appear on four of the album’s tracks. As a result, “it’s streamlined where their previous albums were ragged, and the most notable element that’s been trimmed is the humor that ran throughout each of their albums.” AMG

“This curtailing of good spirits is an appropriate, even expected, reaction to Hester’s death, and his ghost does linger over the whole of Time on Earth.” AMG Nick Seymour did the cover art, as he did for the previous Crowded House albums, and made it a tribute to Hester. The cover – a direct reference to the sea serpent in Olaus Magnus’ book History of the Northern Peoples, features a blue dragon eating a human, a symbol of the depression that consumed Hester. WK

Of course, Hester’s presence is “most apparent in the subdued, contemplative tone of the album.” AMG Uncut’s Bud Scoppa says the opening cut, Nobody Wants To, sets “the prevailing melancholy mood.” WK Regarding People Are Like Suns, Finn said “part of it is the idea that people burn brightly and then they fade out.” WK Yahoo! Music’s Andy Strickland asserts that English Trees is a “brilliant weaving of a tale of loss and yearning…[that puts him] up there with the very best songwriters working today.” WK

Less direct are songs like Silent House, which Finn initially wrote with the Dixie Chicks prior to Hester’s death. It first appeared on their 2006 album Taking the Long Way, but resurfaces here. The song reads specifically as a reminiscing excursion sparked by going through a grandmother’s belongings after her death from Alzheimer’s. However, on a grander scale it works as a reflection on loss of loved ones in general.

“This mildly mournful vibe is enhanced by the subdued tone of the album.” AMG Billboard’s Jessica Letkemann says, “Gone are the more overtly ‘80s top 40 flourishes.” WK “This set of songs takes its time, relying heavily on ballads and meditative, mid-tempo pop tunes, and even the brighter numbers like She Called Up are far from sprightly.” AMG

“Finn may in a ruminative mode but Time on Earth is not heavy-handed or oppressively sorrowful: it’s contemplative and sweetly melancholy. Given this hushed vibe, it’s not surprising that the album, as a whole, is a bit of a grower, as Finn’s tunes take some time to reveal their gifts. A few songs have an immediate impact; such as the gently propulsive Don’t Stop Now, the snappy, jangly Marr collaboration Even a Child (the closest this record comes to a rocker) and the spacy, tongue-in-cheek Transit Lounge, featuring Beth Rowley as vocal support; but most of these are subtle songs that unfold at their own speed. It may take some time for the songs to catch hold, but once they do, they dig deep, sticking around in the memory like much of Finn’s best work.” AMG

Pour Le Monde (French for “For the World”), one of Finn’s “achingly fine ballads,” WK was inspired by a demonstration Finn observed in Paris against the war on terror. WK Transit Lounge is about the time Finn spent in transit lounges around the world, particularly Singapore and Bangkok. WK

“Even if the best of this album does stand proudly alongside the best of Finn’s music, Time on Earth is still quite unlike any of his other records: strangely, it feels more like a solo album than either of his solo albums, partially because it’s such an introspective work, partially because it sustains a bittersweet tone from beginning to end, whereas his other solo efforts careened wildly between moods.” AMG

While this is “Neil Finn’s show, this also does feel like the work of a band, since there is a warmth here, a feeling of support, that sounds like a group, not a one-man-band. This curious intermingling of sounds and intent makes Time on Earth a haunting yet comforting affair that is quite unique in Neil Finn’s body of work, yet functions as an oddly appropriate, utterly worthy, comeback as Crowded House.” AMG

Notes: The CD was released with a bonus DVD.

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First posted 3/3/2008; last updated 8/9/2021.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

50 years ago: Jerry Lee Lewis charted with “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

Jerry Lee Lewis

Writer(s): Dave Williams, Roy Hall (see lyrics here)

Released: April 15, 1957

First Charted: June 17, 1957

Peak: 3 US, 5 CB, 5 HR, 12 CW, 12 RB, 8 UK, 4 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 6.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 23.3 video, 49.25 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

This is “the song that proved rock ‘n’ roll wasn’t all a bunch of noisy guitars. It could be noisy pianos as well.” DT Jerry Lee Lewis was “the last great artist to be discovered by Sun Records.” AH Label chief Sam Phillips said the Louisiana native “was the most naturally talented musician he ever worked with.” AH He had a “go-for-broke, maniacal approach;” TC he was “more like a force of nature than a piano player.” TC He had “that Baptist Holy Roller in him but he also had the Devil there as well.” TC When he came to Sun to audition in November 1956, SS producer “Cowboy” Jack Clement saw him as “a wild country & western singer.” TC

At Lewis’ first session, Clement had him record “Crazy Arms,” a country hit for Ray Price and pop hit for the Andrews Sisters. It became a regional hit. For the follow up, Clement eyed one of his own songs, “It’ll Be Me,” until Lewis suggested “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” a song he’d been playing for awhile. Clement wisely opted to capture the manic energy of Lewis’ stage presence. As Clement said, “I just simply turned on the machine, mixed it on the fly.” RS500

The song that had been recorded four times but had yet to meet with success. RS500 In March 1955, blues singer Big Maybelle recorded an arrangement produced by Quincy Jones. SS Black singer Dave “Curlee” Williams and white pianist Roy Hall each claimed to write the song and Hall recorded a version a few months after Big Maybelle. AH Lewis, however, was most inspired by a version by bass player Johnny Littlejohn. The song was played faster than earlier versions and included a spoken section instructing the audience how to wiggle. AH

The song became associated with Lewis in April 1956 when he was booked for a gig at the Rebel Room in Osceola, Arkansas. When the band ran out of material, Lewis turned to “Whole Lotta Shakin’.” RS500 Obviously Lewis – and the crowd – was taken with the song. He performed it 21 times in a row! SJ

Author Jimmy Guterman called ith the #1 rock and roll record ever SS and author Paul Williams said it is “as perfect a rock and roll record as one could hope to find.” PW The lyrics left some listeners aghast; the words “were rather lascivious and quite shocking coming from a singer from the Bible Belt” SF making the case “that prudes really did have something to fear from rock and roll.” DM Song-licensing organization BMI thought so, initially banning the song. PW On the piano, Lewis’ blend of “honky-tonk and blues shuffle” DM in “a relentless, pounding boogie rhythm” AMG left listeners’ mouths agape and their toes a-tapping. “Like Lewis himself, [they] had a hard time remaining seated during the performance.” NRR

Meanwhile, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” became a hit after Lewis’ TV debut on July 28, 1957 on The Steve Allen Show. SF Lewis introduced some of his trademarks to the world – sitting at the piano and looking sideways at the camera and kicking his piano stool. Neither he nor Allen ever heard louder applause. SS


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Last updated 8/23/2023.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Rihanna hit #1 with “Umbrella”


Rihanna with Jay-Z

Writer(s): Terius “The-Dream” Nash, Christopher “Tricky” Stewart/Jay-Z (see lyrics here)

Released: March 29, 2007

First Charted: April 8, 2007

Peak: 17 US, 14 BA, 15 DG, 2 RR, 28 A40, 4 RB, 110 UK, 14 CN, 16 AU, 7 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 8.0 US, 1.2 UK, 11.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.5 radio, 1127.2 video, 1205.67 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Rihanna had a string of hits throughout the decade, but “this song was 2007, plain and simple” PE and “may be the track that most defined pop music in the ’00s.” PD While constructed around a hip-hop beat and given a slick R&B-style production, it also had “an edgy rock sound” AB and a “quasi-yodeled chorus” CBC “so toweringly great it transcends genre boundaries.” NME

Rihanna told Q magazine “’it was one of the most original sounds that I’d heard for a while. But a lot of people didn’t really understand it. They thought the repetition was annoying. But I knew that was what people would catch on to right away, because that’s what stuck in my head.’” SF As Adam Graham notes in the Detroit News, “just try to deny that you’ve added your own ‘ella… ella… ay’ every time you’ve heard or used the word umbrella since.” DN

The song was first sent to Britney Spears, who had recorded “Me Against the Music,” which Nash also helped pen, but after her people rejected it as not having hit potential, it was offered to Mary J. Blige. However, Jay-Z aggressively pursued the song, deciding it was perfect for Rihanna. SF He even added “a fairly unnecessary, but marketable, guest rap.” PD

The song also works as a metaphor as Rihanna sings to a partner about being there for him through good and bad. SF She says, “‘an umbrella is protection, it protects you from rain. The rain in this case is negativeness and vulnerability.’” SF Rihanna told the Daily Mirror umbrellas have now cropped up in mass quantities at her shows and dancefloors. SF The song became the longest-running #1 of the decade in the U.K. and topped the charts in multiple other countries.


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Last updated 7/23/2023.