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Ryan’s Playlist No. 3: The Rise of Maren Morris + DMB that Needs a Re-listen + New John Prine!

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We’re already four days into August, and I’ve failed to post my July music list. Egad! For those of you new to the blog, each month I Shazam everything that really catches my ear, and then I re-listen to the music and write about the best.

The goal is to introduce everybody to at least one new awesome song, band or artist. It’s also to help me remember the songs that comprise my memories, remembering why I loved them at the time.

I’m certain I’ll achieve that this go-round. The theme this month is a lot more female. Not on purpose, but I’m glad it was. When my wife Kristi asked me if there was a theme to my picks for July, I replied that it felt like I had more women on this list. The first among them is already a pretty big star and I think she’s on the verge of elite stardom, Maren Morris.

She reminds me of Kacey Musgraves but with more of an edge. Who remembers “80s Mercedes” from 2016? Damn, this is fantastic:

I remember exactly where I first heard this song. It was in Buckeye, Arizona at our friends’ house on a spring training visit.

Here’s another great one called “My Church,” and imagine Shelby Lynne from 1999 on this one. Shelby’s “I Am Shelby Lynne” is one of the best albums I’ve ever owned, and Maren has perfected that sound, whether purposely or not.

But the tune that made my list for July is the best song I’ve heard from anybody in 2019. “GIRL.” If I could recommend one new artist to check out for anybody over 40 looking for new music, it would be Maren Morris. Dude, hand her all the Grammys. All of them. She’s the first artist since Amy that has made me want to stop and listen to everything she’s ever done.

“GIRL” is from earlier this year, but John Prine’s “Lonesome Friends Of Science” is brand new. Just posted to YouTube, it’s from his new album called “The Tree Of Forgiveness.” Charming and smart, even if it sounds a ton like Jerry Jeff Walker. Easily the best song title of 2019.

Another tune is from the Funky French Playlist, the compilation of songs Kristi and I listened to on our honeymoon. This comes from indie pop duo The Darcys. This has a funky hook and fantastic production.

Karen O of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs teamed up with Danger Mouse for this delightful lite rock vibe. Who else is totally hearing Nicolette Larson here?

This tune called “Bleachers” bleeds the boundaries of pop and country, but we were surprised to learn that Jillian Jacqueline is categorized country. This is smart pop in my book. It’s like the best pop music is coming from Nashville these days.

Speaking of which, laugh off this dude as bro country all you’d like, but Chris Lane’s “I Don’t Know About You” (again) is a fantastic, hooky pop song. My favorite part about watching the video on YouTube is the first comment, “Sounds like he’s trying to unlock her security questions for online banking lol.” Affected as the production might sound, this is a wonderful piece of songwriting. It’s like yacht rock with a country accent.

Speaking of yacht rock, can we all just admit that Art > Paul?

This next one is a song I Shazam’d from the car on my commute to Tulsa. Ronan Keating was part of an Irish group I’d never heard of called “Boyzone.” Love this. Catchy af. Vocally, I’m hearing a ton of Jude Cole from back in the day.

Speaking of back in the day, this is a tune from The Waitresses that we heard on “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Of course, this makes me want to hear their famous Christmas song, but I can appreciate how awesome and identifiable their overall sound was. And how kick-ass their bass player is.

Not sure where I first heard South Carolina’s own Chaz Bear, recording under the name Toro Y Moi, but I loved it even more after watching the video. Quirky and catchy.

And I’m not 100 percent certain where I first heard Port Cities, although they’re another Canadian act who could technically be on our Funky Fresh Playlist. This is beautiful. They don’t need anything beyond a guitar and vocals.

And a couple of classics to end my July list. This is a Gram Parsons tune called “Wheels” recorded by Emmylou Harris. The harmony alone sucked me in. The lyrical picture painted kept me locked in.

The last song on this list caught my ear on first listen, but upon subsequent listens, I’m realizing that this is one of the better rock songs of the past 20 years. It’s got a message. It’s powerful. It was written and performed by an immigrant. And it requires the volume cranked.

How to Play Kenny Rogers’ classic hit, “Lady”

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Kenny Rogers has had many hits, but this is arguably his most beautiful song. It was written by the great Lionel Richie, and it’s super easy to play. It starts with Dm.

That’s D minor. The chord progression is Dm, Gm9/D, C/D — so you’re basically going from D minor to G minor to C with the D in the right hand. Mind you, watch my right hand as I’m playing the intro. You’re not playing a straight Gm triad in the right hand. You’re playing a Bb, D and an A in the right hand — a Gm9 (G, Bb, D, F, A) You’ll just leave out the G and F.

The first chorus is a pretty straight ahead Gm7, Am7, BbM7, Am7, Dsus

After two verses and choruses, you glissando up and down the piano and hit the BIG BIG chorus where Kenny sings, “LADYYYYYYY” — and that’s BbM7, C/Bb, F, C/E, Dm7, F/C and repeat until you get to the end.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard from Kenny Rogers came on an episode of ‘American Idol’ a whole bunch of years ago: Play the notes and sing the lyrics, but emote the words. Pay attention to the story as you’re singing / playing.

SING ALONG! Here are the lyrics to “Lady” by Kenny Rogers

Lady, I’m your knight in shining armor and I love you
You have made me what I am and I am yours
My love, there’s so many ways I want to say “I love you”
Let me hold you in my arms forever more
You have gone and made me such a fool
I’m so lost in your love
And oh, we belong together
Won’t you believe in my song?
Lady, for so many years I thought I’d never find you
You have come into my life and made me whole
Forever, let me wake to see you each and every morning
Let me hear you whisper softly in my ear
In my eyes, I see no one else but you
There’s no other love like our love
And yes, oh yes, I’ll always want you near me
I’ve waited for you for so long
Lady, your love’s the only love I need
And beside me is where I want you to be
‘Cause, my love, there’s somethin’ I want you to know
You’re the love of my life, you’re my lady

I’m Still Standing: Elton John cover + chord progressions, lyrics

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Elton John’s 1983 hit, “I’m Still Standing,” is my favorite song from the Rocket Man.

I am not playing it in the original key. I’m playing it in A. If you’re following along with the video to try to learn the song, here are the chords:

INTRO: Left hand should stay on A. The chords in the right hand are: Am, Dm7, E, F, G 2X

VERSE: A, D/A, E/A, D/A, A … Bm7, A/D, E, F#m+5, D, A

CHORUS: Am7, G7/B, C, Em, G6 … Dm, E7

And then the “I’m Still Standing” part: Am, Dm7, E7

BRIDGE: A … D, E, F#m, D6 … to the chorus

The tempo to this song is faster than what I’m playing it. I’m guessing 110 BPM? Maybe my BPM radar is a little off. “I’m Still Standing” should definitely be a little faster than this. If you dig the cover and like such things on YouTube, if they ‘spark your joy’ as Marie Kondo says, I’d love it if you’d pay me a visit on YouTube.

Lyrics to “I’m Still Standing”

You could never know what it’s like
Your blood like winter freezes just like ice
And there’s a cold lonely light that shines from you
You’ll wind up like the wreck you hide behind that mask you useAnd did you think this fool could never win
Well look at me, I’m coming back again
I got a taste of love in a simple way
And if you need to know while I’m still standing you just fade awayDon’t you know I’m still standing better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid
I’m still standing after all this time
Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mindI’m still standing yeah yeah yeah
I’m still standing yeah yeah yeahOnce I never could hope to win
You starting down the road leaving me again
The threats you made were meant to cut me down
And if our love was just a circus you’d be a clown by nowYou know I’m still standing better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid
I’m still standing after all this time
Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mindI’m still standing yeah yeah yeah
I’m still standing yeah yeah yeahDon’t you know I’m still standing better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid
I’m still standing after all this time
Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mindI’m still standing yeah yeah yeah
I’m still standing yeah yeah yeahI’m still standing yeah yeah yeah
I’m still standing yeah yeah yeah

Ryan’s Playlist No. 2: Mrs. Maisel & June Musical Randomness

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The first part of my June playlist is heavily influenced by one of my favorite shows, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Extraordinarily well done, smart and beautiful — it’s the first new show I’ve seen since Mom died that I knew she would have loved.

Save for Midge’s potty mouth.

For me, Alex Borstein’s Susie Myerson makes the show with Tony Shalhoub’s Abe Weissman very close. And I just am figuring out that Borstein is Lois Griffin. Blown away. Anyway, if you haven’t started watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, this gets my highest recommendation.

The rest of this month’s list is pretty random. No country this month, but I’ve got pop, indie and even a tune from a Christian artist. Here goes, and it starts with two songs I heard on Maisel.

This is Mary Hopkin’s version of “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” featured at the end of S2E2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The music selections on this show have been eclectic, and I constantly find myself Shazaming songs.

This is the second song I’m including from Maisel, and it’s “Some Other Time” from Blossom Dearie. This was featured in the scene where Rose Weissman resigned herself to returning to New York from Paris, to where she had fled to find herself. The song is incredibly wistful and beautiful.

“Stronger Than Before” by Carole Bayer Sager was a Top 30 hit for Sager back in 1981, and it has that classic soft electric piano, not-quite-a-true-Rhodes sound and easy listening instrumentation that I loved from the era. Dionne Warwick also recorded this later in the decade.

Electric Light Orchestra’s “Last Train To London,” for me is unremarkable until the chorus, where it gets very hooky, very fast.

Barenaked Ladies, “Odds Are,” has been in my heavy rotation for months now. I joked inside my own head that I might try to wage a public campaign to join the band since I love them so much and since I’m practically Canadian after rooting so hard for the Raptors. We’ll see how that goes. BNL are a musical treasure.

“Cuddly Toy” by British band Roachford is way funkier than I gave it credit for in 1988. But did you know that lead singer and namesake Andrew Roachford later joined Mike & The Mechanics!?

“Patience,” by Tame Impala is incredibly well produced, as is everything from the band. All of their tracks are catchy and interesting.

You, me, the entire world knows this song, “It’s Strange,” from a Nissan commercial. It’s from a DJ duo called Louis The Child with a singer who goes by the name K. Flay. The production is amazing. The video is captivating, and K. Flay brings a ton of personality to it. This one gets better for me with each listen.

British singer-songwriter JP Cooper caught my ear with “September Song,” which to me sounds like Nick Jonas’ “Jealous.” And then I read that Cooper has written songs for the Jonas Brothers, and it makes me wonder.

Don’t judge, lol. This is apparently from 2012, and it’s a contemporary Christian singer named Britt Nicole with a song called “Gold.” Loved the positive vibe, and the ‘SUS’ chord progression in the verse. Big, fat hook in the middle. I have zero idea where I heard this. The car? The mall? Forever 21? (Never been. So, just kidding, ha!)

Featured photo from Ninac26 on Flicker.

Ryan’s Playlist No. 1: Canada & Beyond (Willin’ To Be Movin’ Edition)

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One of the things I noticed about Canadian radio on our honeymoon is that a lot of the songs we heard aren’t marketed in the States. Some for good reason, and others perplexing. A lot of the songs are in French; so that stands to reason.

But there was a lot I liked, and I love to share terrific music.

This isn’t the whole of the ‘Funky French Playlist’ as Kristi and I have called it, but this works in some of my favorites from Canada and adds a handful of songs I’m obsessing over during the past month. And I’ll start with the first, which I heard on Dwight Yoakam’s Bakersfield Beat channel on SiriusXM. It’s Linda Ronstadt’s famous cover of the Lowell George (Little Feat) tune called “Willin’.” I’ve listened to about 30 versions over the past couple of days, and hers is the best.

There is more soul in that song than anything on the radio in 2019. I’m pretty sure I own this album, too, and didn’t really even realize it. Not the first time that’s happened.

For what it’s worth, my second favorite version is Mandy Moore’s. I like the electric guitar and all although admittedly I’m having trouble juxtaposing ‘This Is Us’ Mandy singing a song I know came from the girl who sang “Candy.” Kidding aside; she’s super underrated vocally. Her “Whole Of The Moon” cover is one of my favorite songs.

Anyway, that’s not a Canada honeymoon trip tune. I’ll tell you when I get there. I’m knocking out my other recent musical obsessions first. This next one is a classic from Led Zeppelin that struck me while driving a few days ago. It struck me by how beautiful the verse is against the soulful, gritty rock chorus. It’s “What Is And What Should Never Be.”

This next tune I keep hearing on old early-1980s ‘American Top 40’ broadcasts. It’s a Commodores hit called “Old Fashioned Love.” Over the years it’s really grown on me.

OK, we’re almost to the Canada songs, but first a tune that stunned me Sunday as I was setting up Kristi’s Sirius XM subscription presets. I heard this song (“Raining In My Heart”) from Buddy Holly and had to do a double-take because, to me, it was akin to hearing the male version of Dinah Washington’s “September In The Rain.” Much respect to a long-gone legend whose discography was apparently much more broad stylistically than I ever would have guessed. This is beautiful.

Next up is Kacey Musgraves’ “Slow Burn,” whose craftsmanship really hits the ear upon second or third listen, especially the second verse. If you haven’t listened to the album, do. It’s wonderful.

Last on the not-Canada part of the playlist is a funky ear-worm from DNCE, the band headed by Joe Jonas. Want me to fight you? Disrespect the musicality of Hanson or the Jonas Brothers, either one. Between Nick’s “Jealous” and this, they’ve earned my listening time. This is as good a pop song as I’ve heard in years.

Now for the Canadian honeymoon tunes, the first of which is a rap that became our theme song for the entire trip, “Bonjour, Hi” from ST X LIAM and Mori$$ Regal. I have very little idea what they’re saying except for, “Bonjour, Hi,” which is the greeting you get in every Montreal establishment — and as you might be guessing, these cats are from Quebec. Love it.



So before we spent three days in Montreal, we stayed in Toronto for four. On one of our day-tours, we stopped in an Asian-food store and heard this K-pop tune from a group called Seventeen or SVT for short. The song is called “Mansae,” and I have zero idea what they’re saying. However, the music hearkens memories of early-90s pop and Jeremy Jordan’s “Wanna Girl.”

Side note: that Toronto store had the best, strangest candy selection of all-time.

We listened to a lot of CBC Radio while there, and I was a Shazam-using fool. This song translates to something like “As We Wait For Spring” or “As It Happens In Spring.” The singer, Jerome Couture, is a La Voix Season 1 runner up, the French-Canadian version of “The Voice.”

This is “Comme On Attend Le Printemps.” This song is permanently etched into my brain as a honeymoon song.

Francesco Yates is a kid we heard a lot of in Canada. Shades of MJ and Bruno, and we both wondered how soon it would be before he was a North American star. “Better To Be Loved” was the best tune we heard from him. Maybe consider him to be the funky Bieber.

Echosmith was a band that caught my ear a couple years ago with “Cool Kids.” I don’t know that I loved, loved this song, but their vibe comes off as a more-pop version of Paramore. And I 100 percent believe Sydney Sierota is destined for solo stardom if she wants it. This is “Over My Head.”

Color me among those who thought Mac Miller was musically gifted, highly so. This tune we heard in Canada was one of many examples I could provide — and it foreshadows the mental anguish that afflicted him. It’s called “Come Back To Earth.”

The last song for this edition of the playlist is called “Last Tango In Paris” from a French group called Gotan Project. It’s beautiful, and I was immediately struck by how much my mom would have loved it, especially when the chromatic harp (or what mimics it) comes in.

If you’ve got any music, new or old, I need to be listening to, add it to the comments below!

Featured photo from Ninac26 on Flicker.

My Shazam! 10 songs I’m digging in January 2019

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We hear great music everywhere these days. We hear it on TV, in movies, at the grocery store, restaurant and bar. And we have an app that will help us keep it all straight until we can check out the band, artist or up-and-comer later.

It’s Shazam, and I think most of us use it pretty regularly.

In a new fun feature I’m adding to the site, I’m posting a handful of songs that I’ve Shazam’d in the past month that I really like. They’re not necessarily new songs. They’re new to me.

“Kids” by OneRepublic

Headed by Tulsa native Ryan Tedder, OneRepublic has done a fantastic job reinventing themselves over the years. While this track sounds a ton like 2013 song “Elevate” by St. Lucia, it is nevertheless fantastic. Love the hook, the vibe and the production. Heard it at The Container Store. God bless Shazam.

BTW, if you don’t believe me on the similarities to St. Lucia’s “Elevate,” here you go. Side note: advantage, St. Lucia. Both are fantastic though.


“Future Me Hates Me” by The Beths

One part punk, one part Pixies, ergo one part Breeders and a good chunk of pop: liked this tune a lot. Vocals remind me of Courtney Barnett, too. Shazam’d it from SiriusXMU.


“Barrie” by Tal Uno

Suddenly, I was transported back to 1986 as I listened to and eventually Shazam’d this tune from SiriusXMU. Barrie is a dream-pop group from Brooklyn, and their keyboard player is named Spurge. I don’t know about that, but he nailed the vibe of this song when he said, “It has an 80’s prom feel to it.” Damn, did they nail it.

http://www.thefader.com/2018/05/22/barrie-tal-uno-interview


“Simple Romance” by Coin

Formed and based in the great city of Nashville, Tennessee, they bring a bit of Jamirquai mixed with a super early 80s new wave vibe to the tune “Simple Romance.” I have no idea where I heard this one. It’s in my Shazam though!


“Different For Girls” by Dierks Bentley ft. Elle King

Lest you think this list is all-pop, think again. There is a lot of great country music being made right now if folks will search it out. In this tune, country music’s Bentley teams up with pop, blues up-and-comer Elle King for a country track that’s as much pop as it is anything. Side note, and this will blow your mind: Elle is Rob Schneider’s daughter.

Mind. Blown.

She’s fantastic. Shazam’d this one in Kristi’s car. There’s a little turnaround in the chorus that caught my ear immediately.

Another side note, as a fan of really early 80s music, I saw this title and immediately thought of Joe Jackson.


“These Days” by Wallows

A super smart-sounding pop song from this L.A. indie pop trio from earlier in 2018. Reminded me quite a bit of something we would have heard from the U.K. either in the early 2010s or as far back as the early 80s. Shazam’d it somewhere, but don’t get me to lying. I forgot.


“Anywhere” by Passenger

Despite the mismatch between Michael David Rosenberg’s beard and his voice (as another YouTuber said) … I dig it. No idea where I Shazam’d it.


“Name For You” by The Shins

Sounds like The Police in the beginning and then ventures on to The Knack. Shazam’d this from SiriusXMU.


“Settle Down” by The 1975

Their sound is more 80s than 70s, and they remind me a ton of Tears For Fears without the huge hit yet. Shazam’d from SiriusXM’s Alternative Nation channel.


“Throwback Kid” by U-Nam

When I tell you that U-Nam is a Frenchman who plays smooth jazz, it won’t jibe with what you hear. “Throwback Kid” is funky, fun and something you’d expect from George Benson or Norman Brown. Absolutely one of my favorite contemporary jazz tunes of the past several years. This inspires me to get back into the studio pronto.

Easy, easy, easy: How to play “Rosanna” by Toto

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One of my first memories of pop music growing up was being at Camp Egan in Tahlequah, in the pool, and hearing Toto’s “Rosanna.” Sure, I was at “church camp,” but let me assure you that it was closer to something out of “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” more than it was anything our parents hoped it would be.

And “Rosanna” was the jam of the summer.

I didn’t know who this woman was or why she’d leave that poor man, causing him to “hurt so bad.” Then 30 years after thinking the song was about Rosanna Arquette, I learn she was coincidental to the masterpiece. Sure, Steve Porcaro was dating her, but David Paich wrote it about a long lost love and imprinted her name upon it because Steve wanted to divulge his love to her in song.

And then they broke up, and it became all too real.

This song was pretty much the moment I decided that music was awesome. I literally remember being in the pool, thinking two things: I can’t swim, and how awesome was church camp if Toto was its soundtrack!? I wish I was a better player in terms of technique. I’ll never be Toto-level good. I started playing the piano when I was three or four, whenever my dad started showing me flash cards with notes and chords. My dad was a professional musician, straight out of the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, and I’ve been fakin’ it for four decades.

But what I’ve lacked in technical skill I’ve more than made up for in passion.

So, I put together this tutorial to help other passionate musicians fake their way through “Rosanna” to impress somebody at work, the bar or maybe a girl named Rosanna.

The song starts in G, and you can chord between G and C in that opening shuffle.

First verse is G-F-Em, and then go to a C. I play it in here as a Bb/C, but really it should just be a C. That takes you to an F-Eb-Dm before a bridge of Gm-F/A-Bb.

The verse ends with a bang: Eb-Bb-F. You’ll have to watch the video to see how I do that little riff to get in the chorus.

I also address the almighty Toto “Rosanna” solo, which is way beyond my technical ability. However, I’ve got the framework down and describe it in my video. If you like piano tutorials, I hope you’ll come find me on YouTube at youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic because for every cover I do from here on out, I’ll also do a tutorial describing the EASIEST way to learn it. I might not give you the technically perfect way to play it, but you’ll be able to impress folks after five minutes with me — if you can play piano at all.

My 10 favorite songs from the most awesome band in the world, Barenaked Ladies

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Before I made the trek from Tulsa to Oklahoma City the other night, one of my colleagues at the station in T-town noted on Facebook how “One Week” wasn’t nearly the best Barenaked Ladies song.

And I totally agree.

But his post set me off on a 90-minute BNL listening-fest on the way home, and it inspired this blog post where I’m going to try to rank my Top 10 Barenaked Ladies songs. It’s not that tough to narrow to ten, but ranking them from there is really tough.

I wouldn’t boot a one of ’em.

My relationship with this Canadian band goes back to my days working at Insite Interactive in Dallas, where my buddy Danny turned me on to Steven Page, Ed Robertston and their classics. With Barenaked Ladies, you’ve got a batch of early quirky acoustic classics and the more modern pop gems. This was right about the time “One Week” became popular. It was that tune that put the band on the broader map, although I think I’d argue that it was “The Old Apartment” that separated their acoustic era from the pop one.

One of the things that has always appealed to me about Barenaked Ladies is how positive their songs are, even amid the band’s own turmoil. Steven Page left or was fired a few years ago due to drug problems and bi-polar disorder, as I understand it, and it was kind of heartbreaking for fans who washed themselves in their uber-optimistic vibe. They were sort of the last band you’d expect this from, and it was kind of like seeing your favorite married couple get a divorce.

For what it’s worth, Page did reunite with the band for the band’s 2018 induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and it might portend further reunions. Page told The Globe and Mail that the decision to let him perform with vocal partner Ed Robertson and the rest of the group was up to them.

One never knows what the dynamics were that caused the split, and addiction takes a toll on behavior and relationships, many of which can’t be repaired, especially at a professional level. However, if I could wave a magic wand, I’d love to see these guys roll into their 50s and 60s back together, making crafty new pop music.

They’re the musical heroes the world needs right now, to be perfectly honest.

Well, here goes nothing — my Top 10 Barenaked Ladies songs:

10. Be My Yoko Ono

Favorite line:
I mean if I was John and you were Yoko I would gladly give up musical genius
Just to have you as my very own personal Venus

 

9. It’s All Been Done

Favorite line:
Alone and bored on a thirtieth-century night
Will I see you on The Price Is Right?
Will I cry? Will I smile?
As you run down the aisle?

 

8. Brian Wilson

Favorite line:
You can call me Pavlov’s Dog
Ring a bell and I’ll salivate
How’d you like that?
Dr. Landy tell me you’re not just a pedagogue

 

7. Too Little, Too Late

Favorite line:
I’m gaining strength, trying to learn to pull my own weight
But I’m gaining pounds at the precipice of too late

 

6. One Week

Favorite line: the whole damned song. It is lyrically odd and brilliant. Make no mistake, this is a wonderful tune.

 

5. Falling For The First Time

Favorite line:
I’m so thrilled to finally be failing
I’m so done, turn me over cause it feels just like I’m falling for the first time

 

4. Get Back Up

I really, deeply love this song. It was recorded and released well after Steven Page left the band, and it feels like Ed Robertson wrote this as encouragement to himself and the band. Plus, he references one of my favorite movies, “Moneyball.”

Favorite lines, two of them:
Now I’m ready for the big rebound
I know you can’t win them all, but I’m swingin’ like Pitt gettin’ hits in Moneyball

Standing eight and I’m on the ropes
Knees givin’ but I wont lose hope
Not the second coming of Muhammad Ali, but can I get a “WOOT” for the boxing imagery?

 

3. Pinch Me

As I understand it, this is a tune Ed Robertson wrote largely about feeling down when the band returned to Canada after first having big success in the United States. As always, and as I’m apt to do in my writing as well, BNL makes it all feel upbeat.

Favorite line is really a favorite verse:
On an evening such as this
It’s hard to tell if I exist
If I pack the car and leave this town
Who’ll notice that I’m not around
I could hide out under there
I just made you say “underwear”
I could leave but I’ll just stay
All my stuff’s here anyway

 

2. Odds Are

Truth be told, this is my favorite Barenaked Ladies song — and like “Get Back Up,” it was released after the great Steven Page left the band. This is catchy, clever, positive and 100 percent true. I wish people would listen to this song more often because, truly, regardless of what one is going through, the odds are that it’s gonna be alright.

Favorite line is, again, a whole verse:
Hit by the A-Train, crashed in an airplane
I wouldn’t recommend either one
Killed by a Great White or a meteorite
I guess there ain’t no way to go that’s fun
But somewhere in the world someone is gonna fall in love by the end of this song
So get up, get up
No it’s never gonna let up so you might as well sing along

 

1. If I Had $1,000,000

It’s hard to discount anybody’s opinions; they’re just opinions. But I’d guesstimate that at least 90 percent of BNL fans would list this as their favorite. The way I’d describe it is that, to me, clearly, this is the most beloved classic in their discography and it’s the reason we all fell in love with ’em.

My favorite line, and there’s so many to pick from:
Well I’d buy you some art (a Picasso or a Garfunkel)

It’s like their success has given the rest of us songwriters permission to let our inner nerd shine.

Shine on.

You can find my music at youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic

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Ryan’s Weekend Soundtrack (July 14-15): BLOXX, Spencer Lee Band, Elvis Costello

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It’s clear that 2018 is a year of transition. I’m finishing up my first year back in a newsroom, and that feels great. I’m gradually going through the process of moving to northwest Oklahoma City, and of course, my brothers and I are working to sell Mom’s house after her passing June 5.

Transition isn’t all bad; it’s a precursor to new beginnings. For me, this weekend, however, it just meant work — a lot of it. I have a high tolerance for a big to-do list, and this weekend it meant three lawns and more house organization, specifically getting my new (er, our new) office put together.

And did I mention I was by myself for the weekend as Kristi and her daughter were at Disney World.

That meant a lot of Ryan-ing.

And that birthed a new idea for a regular blog post: Ryan’s weekend soundtrack. I hear lots of different music, both old and new, and I like to share my treasures. Depending on your taste, these may also fall into the category of musical trash.

The inspiration for this weekend’s songs was listening to BBC Radio London (formerly BBC 94.9) Saturday afternoon with the great Gary Crowley, this after an out-of-this-world lunch at The Garage on Rockwell, which is turning out to be my go-to spot in the new neighborhood. Saturday’s special was Banh Mi tacos for $6.99, and I paired it with a New Belgium Fat Tire (amber). The food was great; the beer was only so-so. Should have had an IPA or a Mexican beer with the tacos.

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Then I got to work on the house with BBC Radio London on. The theme for the show was flying, and I’ve forgotten why it was the theme. It just was. First tune was Jigsaw’s “Sky High,” a delightful tune from the mid-70s. And check out the drummer singing lead. How he’s able to do that with that lick is beyond me:

The next song is just awesomely bizarre. One part ABBA, one part pure-Brit pop, and check out the Jeff Daniels look-a-like on bass! This is my new jam anytime I’m going to Will Rogers World Airport. It’s The Motors with “Airport” from 1978:

One part of the Gary Crowley evening show on BBC Radio London (afternoon in the States) is about older music, but then he does this show called “Introducing,” where new music gets the spotlight. First tune that caught my ear is Stereo Honey’s “Don’t Speak,” although I think it was more of an acoustic version, maybe?

The next song that caught my ear ended up being my favorite new find of the weekend. Group called Bloxx and a song called “Novocain.” This is terrific. I cranked it several times on the way to Henryetta Sunday.

Of course, this is how the rabbit hole goes. That song reminded me of a group called Metric and a song called “Help I’m Alive.” This tune is very Liz Phair.

At this point I’m into early Saturday evening. The office is in shape, and I’ve got the front room and kitchen put together. I’m so domestic, folks. Truly. But now I needed to mow the yard, and I’ve abandoned the Texas-Baltimore game for more BBC Radio London, which played Roxy Music’s 1979 hit “Dance Away.”

BTW, speaking of Texas-Baltimore, what is up with the Orioles’ unis Saturday night? They were celebrating Maryland, so they incorporated the state’s already loud flag into their beautiful uni. Gross.

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So, we get to Sunday, and my rambling continues. That’s all this new blog feature will be: quick impressions of the weekend gone by and the music that influenced it. The early part of my Sunday was spent fighting with Public Service of Oklahoma’s parent company AEP for trying to auto-debit from Mom’s bank account after I had told them she had died – and they had the nerve to charge us an extra $22. I think they’re going to waive it; it’s the right thing to do. However, I’ve got all sorts of thoughts on how empathy could transform every call center in the country.

The problem is that business call centers have no vested interest in *more* phone time between employees and customers. Most call centers are trying to reduce their total help hours, forcing the end user to help themselves. That’s an actual metric goal for most call centers. It’s highly shiteous.

My jam for the ride to Henryetta was Courtney Barnett’s “Avant Gardener.” She just sounds so weary in this one.

Don’t think for a second that all my music selections are all cool-kid hipster tunes. Hell, no. Peter Allen and Waylon Jennings were part of the playlist as was this tune, which I think is the best thing Taylor Swift has ever done. This is her “Borderline,” if you will.

Oh, I did stumble upon a new guy I really like: Spencer Lee. Dude sounds like Bill Withers and Justin Timberlake had a baby with Robin Thicke. Seriously polished. The song I heard while driving was called “Kissing Tree.” I’m just hoping he didn’t borrow too much from Bill Withers’ “Use Me.” Just don’t steal from Marvin Gaye, dude. His estate goes hard.

Great voice. He actually sounds like a young Withers in the first verse. Here’s another one from Lee’s band called Spencer Lee Band. The Wolf. He’s far too good to not be very, very famous soon enough.

By this time, I’m in Henryetta mowing yard No. 3, and the whole weekend was a giant sweat bath. I think I’m burned also despite the fact that I put on sunscreen. I’m definitely zapped.

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The road home was Elvis Costello central — “Everyday I Write The Book” and “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love & Understanding.” Costello was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. I’m a huge fan of his; hope the surgery got it all and that Mr. Diana Krall keeps making music.

As for me, I’m enjoying a cold Yuengling and preparing for the week, a short one. I’m headed for a quick vacation across the deep South, including Atlanta, Myrtle Beach, Asheville and Nashville. But soon enough, I’ll be recording new videos for YouTube on Dad’s piano, which is now my piano – set up at home and tuned thanks to the folks at Bruce Music in Edmond!

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Cheers for now! Have a great week.

Songwriter’s notebook: Perfection is the enemy of good

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Perfection is the enemy of good. Perfection is the enemy of good. Repeat it and repeat it.

It’s not that creatives don’t strive for greatness; it’s just that many of us nitpick our own work to the point that our quantity of production is minimal with no tangible improvement in quality. Some of the time, production for the sake of production is tantamount to a repetition that gets us closer to the significant improvement we desire.

As a songwriter, I try to be prolific. I try to churn out the tunes.

Sometimes, I go about a song as if it were a long-term project. Heck, I have one song that I’ve dummy-titled “Joy” that I’ve been sitting on musically for five or six years, waiting for the perfectly open day when I could devote all of it to its lyrics.

If you’re waiting for the perfect time, for anything, you’ll be waiting forever.

Trust.

Sometimes, I knock it out super fast, knowing that the music and subject matter isn’t so much “throw away” but that it’s not in the realm of something I consider seriously to be good. Truth be told, some of the times, however, I end up with my best work when I don’t think about it so much.

Take last Saturday when I decided I was going to conceive both the music for a new song and its lyrics in a three-hour window, whatever it took to accomplish. That type of setup can be too much pressure on some days, and I end up on the couch watching baseball or surfing the interwebs.

What I do is start pounding the keys. I typically start with something funky and see if a brave new c-jazz or Steely Dan-esque progression emerges. Barring that, I find myself rerouted toward something that’s more yacht rock or 80s pop. I’ll go back and forth and forth and back until a riff and a melody emerges.

If one doesn’t after 20-30 minutes, I get up from the bench and do something. Sit on the porch. Read a book. Mow the yard. Run a mile. Eat. Maybe not eat; I don’t like to be all belchy before I record.

Periodically, I force myself to go basic on the progressions and focus on 1-4-5 type of songs. Keeping things to three chords can force a meandering brain like mine to keep things simple enough that I can focus on developing a melody.

That’s what I did this weekend with my new song, “Wandering, Wandering Me (The Container Store Song).”

Although it’s not technically 1-4-5 (it’s 1-6-4-5, I believe — F to Dm to Bb to C in the verse), it’s still super simple. In terms of inspiration, I was trying to channel a little bit of Glen Campbell or Jerry Jeff Walker, especially in the chorus. It might not surprise you to know that I loved Glen Campbell, but it might shock you to know how much I love Jerry Jeff Walker, especially this song, which lyrically was kind of an inspiration for this song.

Musically, it’s quite different.

The title for the tune just started coming to me, “Wandering, Wandering Me.” I don’t know where it came from. I think I was THINKING about Warren Zevon and “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me” when I was riffing with the chords. However, I liked the title, and as my process goes, I rolled with it.

And then I get to writing lyrics.

I had an afternoon appointment to make, so I needed to boogie and get words to paper. My process is pretty simple. I start rhyming and see how the story develops. It’s as if I don’t even know what I’m going to write when I do, searching instead for interesting phrasing or well-crafted rhymes.

Once I get a verse, I immediately get to a chorus, even foregoing a pre-chorus until a second- or third-take.

At this point, you know kind of what the story is about, and if you’re feeling traditional, you try to develop that story. Advance the story is what my far-more-experienced songwriter friends call it.

However, I don’t let curve balls or crazy ideas throw me. In this case, I was writing about the week after Mom had died and the trips I took back-and-forth to Henryetta. There was no Texas. It was a metaphor (or just an excuse to mention the great Lone Star State). In the third verse, I talked about wanting to settle down, which I’m presently doing (details soon), while at once maintaining my freedom.

In my case, that mostly means freedom to create (content creation, songwriting) and freedom to “Ryan.” Ryaning is the name I give to the process of me taking a whole day to work on projects of interest to me, which typically includes household errands, cleaning and organization. So, I wrote my truth and then faced a conundrum.

How do I explain, “How to write some songs and organize?”

Does he mean organize such as in a union or as in a community organizer? Is he an activist?

That’s where I threw in the line about The Container Store.

And just like that, I’ve explained what was an extraordinarily satisfying afternoon of songwriting, fighting the urge to review and edit and take months to produce a piece of content. Truly, if somebody came along and said, “Great concept. Would you mind hooking up with a co-writer for some collaboration?” then I’d do that in a heartbeat.

Yet the sooner that you finish one song, you can get to the next.

I don’t necessarily apply this to all pursuits, and it’s definitely not an excuse for sloppiness. But I find that striving for perfection is just a recipe to quash production.

Strive for good. There is no perfect. Check out my new song, “Wandering, Wandering Me” and read the lyrics, below. You can find more from me at youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic


“Wandering, Wandering Me”
Copyright 2018, Ryan Welton

Verse:
I have a hard time trying to stay in one place
One day I’m here then I’m gone with no trace
Though it might be hard to swallow
I do not want to be followed
It’s just wandering, wandering me

I like to take the back roads Into small country towns
One minute I’m your neighbor then I’m never around
If you think it’s cause I’m flaky
You can take me at my word
It’s just wandering wandering me

Chorus:
Baby, I remember Tulsa, Oklahoma
Summer nights of harmless fun
Then I packed my bags and drove to Texas
With the sun
Put a lot of miles on
Never took a day off
Saddle up, and there I’d go
And there’s not a single minute
Hardly even seconds
I’m not missing you so

Verse:
It’s mostly human nature as I know it to be
I wanna settle down, but I want to be free
Free to write some songs and organize
But end my day deep in your eyes
It’s wandering wandering me

 

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