Sampling

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No, not in the food sense of sampling. I only recently learned that it is also a term used in the music industry. Not sure how I missed that. Whereas covers of songs don’t require permission from the copyright owner, sampling does. I found a full explanation here: How Music Sampling Works.

From the article,

Few deny that it takes talent to sample a classic song effectively and use it in a new, creative way. And the practice has played a major role in shaping the entire genre of hip hop. But sampling has had a longer history and more complex legal implications than many people realize.”

Why did I get so curious about this? A Melanie song that was “sampled”, of course! It started with a video shared to a Facebook group for Melanie fans. It was an Australian hip hop band, the Hilltop Hoods, performing a song live that sampled an original Melanie song (The People in the Front Row). From what I gathered, it might be their signature song. I have never been much into hip hop and maybe it is just the pandemic isolation, but I want to be on this boat at a dance party singing along with music that includes Melanie lyrics! 😀

Such fun!

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A conversation with Melanie

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Stephen Hurley and I first connected online, then later in person, because of education advocacy events and gatherings. Even though my involvement in education has lessened since then, I have continued to connect with Stephen because of music! Most Saturday nights for a number of years now, I have “met” Stephen on The Dock — his specific music related broadcast on VoicEd radio. (More recently, Sara Candela, has joined him in hosting this fun and interactive global gathering around a topic or theme in music.)

Over this time, Stephen became well aware of my favourite singer, Melanie. I would like to think that he now loves her music as much as I do! But it still came as a big surprise when he contacted me that he would be interviewing Melanie in March! Yesterday was the big day! I listened to the full recorded interview as soon as it was available. Well done, Stephen and Melanie! Some great stories were captured about the music industry, Melanie’s career over the decades, and her current musical pursuits and performances in spite of a pandemic!

Having said all that, I am so excited to link this interview on my blog! Here is the link to information about the interview and the recorded audio from Stephen’s podcast segment, On The Edge: https://www.spreaker.com/user/voicedradio/melanie-safka

Thanks again, Stephen! Here’s to more musical connections and journeys!

The Day After Groundhog Day

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As 2021 rolls along, as well as a pandemic, I still aim to find some celebratory moments in the special days on the calendar. Although every day can seem like “Groundhog Day” lately, the actual Groundhog Day yesterday had slipped my mind until I saw mention of it on social media!

Since I am a big Melanie fan, the day after Groundhog Day also has significance to me — It is Melanie’s birthday. This past weekend she live-streamed a performance just shy of her 74th birthday! Her commitment to making music is quite remarkable and all three of her children have musical careers. Speaking of which, Melanie also wrote a song called Groundhog Day, but it is an expression about returning to her career after a few years of being more focused on motherhood.

People will most likely remember Melanie with the mention of her pop-style hit in the 70s, Brand New Key. Fans know there is so much more to her musical palette. I often suggest listening to the contrast between Brand New Key and Beautiful People.

If you would like to do so:

A early version of Brand New Key:

A couple of other ways to enjoy Brand New Key: One of her daughters who is an established country singer covers it here; and for a different experience, the music of the song on a 100 year old organ here!

I have posted to my blog before about her song, Beautiful People (If you look for it…). What is more beautiful than Beautiful People?: Watching her record the song — from the initial attempts to the final product!

Melanie has had different styles of music over the decades and her songs continue to be an important part of the stages of my life — and now during a pandemic. I hope she has many happy returns of the day!

When it all comes together…

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When it all comes together for a good cause…

I came across a 2020 Pittsburgh Earth Day anthem by Voices for the Earth a little late for the day, but I enjoyed checking it out nonetheless.  I enjoy listening to many covers or remakes of songs in general, but this particular anthem is a Melanie Safka original, Lay Down (Candles in the Rain).  I can’t say the song is in my top 5 favourites of Melanie’s, but it was a breakthrough hit of hers in the U.S. in 1970.  She wrote it after performing (in the rain) at Woodstock (1969) and being inspired by the experience and the audience.

I thought the video of the “behind the scenes” in the making of this new version (50 years later) was very impressive and well done.

 

Melanie’s 1970 recording of it was a collaboration with the Edwin Hawkins Singers (usually known for their 1969 hit, Oh Happy Day).  This video starts with an interview about her inspiration for the song and her vision to include a gospel choir, followed by a live performance in The Netherlands:

 

Hope you enjoyed both (Melanie fan or not 🙂 )  I think it is cool how and why both recordings of the song came together — 50 years apart.

“And we all sang the songs of peace… “

Old Music and Lyrics

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Full title could be, “Old music and lyrics that align with current times now”.

In my previous post, I linked my thoughts and writing about the current pandemic to a Melanie song.  It turns out that I am not the only one who has had lyrics of Melanie’s songs come to mind during this pandemic.  I am a member of a Facebook group of Melanie fans and at some point I noticed others posting “Melanie-isms”, as in songs and lyrics that resonated with them since self-isolation and physical distancing.

Although many of Melanie’s songs can be on the melancholic side, I still had a few playing to cheer me up and fill my time at home lately.  I decided to collect and share more of the lyrics that came to mind and matched the current times for me.  Many of these songs were written decades ago, of course (although Melanie is still performing many of them).  I will include YouTube links for my own archive and in case anyone else wants to listen to the whole song.

I would have to start with Alone Together (a favourite live performance here)

We’re believers, we’ve been hurt by believing
Needing people, we know looking’s not seeing
I see needs that might be answered by forever
Together on our own
Let’s be together alone

Next, Ring The Living Bell, because the title of the song and chorus have a positive vibe that cut though some of the sad news. I first heard it on an album, but this is a great live version.

Ring the living bell, ring the living bell
Shine the living light

Beautiful People is beautiful any time.

Beautiful people
You ride the same subway
As I do ev’ry morning
That’s got to tell you something
We’ve got so much in common
I go the same direction that you do
So if you take care of me
Maybe I’ll take care of you

I just realized that the title of my previous post could connect to two songs: Here I Am and Again.

From Again,

Nothing for me to do
But be alone
Tonight
Maybe I’ll sit and write
‘Cause if I don’t
The ones I met won’t
Be my friends for life

I love singing out loud to this one:  The Good Guys.

But if we keep on trying
Though our purpose isn’t clear
We just may move the universe
We’ll learn to really care

Eventually the whole facade
Becomes more than a whim
By starting to build on the outside
We’re gonna fill up the walls within

It was easy to think of this one, title and lyrics:  Save Me.

Take my dreams on vacation to a room with a view
Out the window all I see is the space inside of me
That could be filled with you

And easy to think this at times: We Don’t Know Where We’re Going.

And we don’t know what it is
And we don’t know where we’re goin’

Bound together by something
But we don’t know what it is
And we don’t know where we’re goin’

I think this one comes to mind more when I listen to White House briefings 😀 — Stop! I Don’t Wanna’ Hear It Anymore.

Now all the things that you defend, are what you hide behind…. Oh, Stop…

Although a song about dying, it has an upbeat vibe about life and living, Life Will Not Go Away.

You can’t take it with you but there is this little part
That goes and continues in the realm of the heart
So rejoice in living and let the music play
Life will not go away!

And for fun, Jigsaw Puzzle.  It was originally written by Mick Jagger, but I have always preferred Melanie’s cover of it.

I’m just trying to do … a little jigsaw puzzle…

I am going to end with, Smile.

Wear it well and it could appear in your heart
Indelibly printed on someone a world apart
Lights in the window all through our darkest day
Human kindness outdistances being afraid

And I love people who smile
If everybody smiles, we’ll have a hometown all over the world

If you have made it to the end of this “playlist”, I would be happy to hear about your connections to old songs or lyrics that may have comforted you recently.

I thought this was an interesting article about something else that is going with lyrics of songs now.  Sub-headline:

Snippets of songs are often becoming popular faster than the songs themselves….

 

 

Here I Am Again

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I have had mixed feelings about posting on this blog during a pandemic.  I no longer post regularly, so I wasn’t sure what would be appropriate.  I have done some personal writing as I often do to process events and clarify emotions, but nothing I would post online at this point.  Writing is important to me, but I think I will always remain shy about it — posted publicly or not.

I did appreciate Doug Peterson’s approach and nudge in his post, 10 Things I’ve learned.  Soon into this alarming COVID-19 situation, I said to my family, “We will probably learn a lot about ourselves and others, and the world.”  But then, this is all new territory to navigate and our emotions and behaviours will be confusing.  I shared a quote on Facebook recently (via @thereisgoodinstore) that resonated,

There is no right way to feel right now.”

I am trying to take one day at a time, one feeling at a time, and trying to reserve judgement of others in their own struggles.  The focus is often in the short term, as with many emergencies.  I still have moments that I wonder what we will learn about the virus, our communities, and our world.  Will we learn more compared to past pandemics?  What will change?  Will there be a lasting imprint?  Yet, preoccupation with my own life and health quickly takes over, as well as worry about family members.  This pandemic has overshadowed everything.

There will definitely be much learning.  There will also be mistakes — mistakes made because of fear and also out of love for our family.  This is only human, I believe.

I have been finding comfort in music a lot lately.  The title of this post is taken from the title of my first post to this blog, Here I Am.  I didn’t give proper mention/credit of that title at the time — it is also a title of a Melanie song.  The lyrics came to mind and really hit me this time:

Here I am, standin’ still
Knowin’ I’m not goin’ nowhere today
And maybe not tomorrow
No no, maybe not tomorrow
Maybe not tomorrow
But that’s okay …

Here I am, dear I am, standing still
With a lot of time to make a rhyme
And a lot of time to kill …

If you want to hear her sing the whole song:

 

Take care, everyone!

 

Following the music

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It may come as a surprise to some who know me, but for a number of years I didn’t follow Melanie Safka’s music and career very closely.  I loved her songs when I was a pre-teen in the 70s (hearing them first from my older sister’s record player in her room).  I collected some more of her LPs in my teen years.  I was most familiar with and loved her music of the 60s and 70s.  I headed off to university in the early 80s and my following of her music career drifted.  Eventually I started to play my old favourites again from time to time and I collected a few more “Best of..” collections on… yes, cassettes and CDs!

Social media ushered me into a whole new way of enjoying and experiencing her music again.  It started with YouTube searches and then I discovered that Melanie, now in her 60s, embraced social media too!  The 15 year old me would never have predicted I would follow Melanie on Twitter and read her blog.

Just when I think I have scouted out most of her early performances and my favourites on YouTube, I find new gems.  She still has quite a fan base uploading her tunes and covers.  She also has an official YouTube channel as well as SoundCloud, a blog, a Facebook page, etc.

In a previous music related/musing post of mine, I had wondered who Tim Hardin was and that led me to learning that he sang If I was a carpenter at Woodstock.  In the post, I mentioned other musicians who did covers of that song since he died.  Melanie also sang at Woodstock, but I didn’t realize that she also did a cover of Hardin’s song in the past.  I came across it on YouTube recently.  Interestingly, it is an audio from an original acetate recording in 1968.  The YouTube post’s description claims that it has never been previously recorded or released on an album and the person who created the music video commented further,

This was taken from one of the acetates I borrowed for one day from Melanie’s Mom. I transferred all the tracks from three acetates to Reel to Reel Tape. You can hear slight clicks from the acetate easily.”

And then I realized I didn’t know much about acetate recordings.  Wikipedia helped clarify.  How cool, this “transfer” of music — from a rare “demo” recording on acetate to reel to reel tape to video upload on the internet.  I’ll take it!  I only had two possible opportunities in my past to see her live in concert, but circumstances and timing of other events prevented such.  She is still doing some performances in other countries, so maybe one day…

 

The Cover Debate

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I thought this tweet was both funny and engaging (and the numbers reveal…):

I had a scroll through the responses a few times out of curiosity.  It was Matthew Oldridge’s tweet that led me down initially…

I am not certain if the debate was settled, but I can easily think of covers that I like better than the original.  I might be biased if a cover is by a favourite musician though.  I am sure most people will have a listen to anything a favourite singer or band puts together.  It is likely a very subjective thing.  For example (from responses to the tweet):  The Man Who Sold the World — Bowie or Nirvana?

While there are many songs that I think could not be covered better than the artist’s original version (e.g.  Neil Young’s Harvest Moon, Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, many songs by the Beatles…), there are many covers of songs that I appreciate and some that I only began to enjoy as a cover.

I thought of a few “oldies”:  I didn’t really care for the song Young Folks (by Peter, Bjorn and John) until I heard (sorry) James Blunt’s cover.  Bob Dylan was before my time and I am not really drawn to his voice, but I am glad that many covers of his songs by others have helped me appreciate his talent.  I didn’t care much for Mick Jagger’s Ruby Tuesday and Jigsaw Puzzle, but I love Melanie’s covers of each.  (If you wish to compare.. here and here).  I equally love James Taylor’s original of Carolina In My Mind and Melanie’s cover of the same.  (Thanks to Denise for the reminder of that beautiful “JT” one!)

Some songs get so many covers, for example, Something Just Like This by the Chainsmokers and Coldplay.  I find the original both catchy and annoying, but then I stumbled upon this cover and it appealed to me.  It would be difficult not to appreciate the effort and talent in that cover.  Someone else also commented on the video, “Better than the original..”

I love discovering new music to enjoy and I also like it when good stuff gets attention again through covers.

Please share a favourite cover, or your thoughts on covers!

I have also posted a few times in the past on this blog related to covers:

Dancing in the Dark — Then and Now

Behind Blue Eyes – Then and Now

Pass the jam

Poetry, man.

Poetry, man.

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I thought the news today about Bob Dylan being a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature was pretty cool.  I appreciate the poetry in his song lyrics, but I read that some didn’t agree with this recognition.  I came to know his music and songs through my following of Melanie’s music career.  I often think of her music and lyrics as poetry, so if she also covered Dylan, than it must be poetry… 🙂

Blowin’ in the Wind was probably one of the first five songs that I learned on guitar, but my favourite Dylan song is Mr. Tambourine Man.  I heard and fell in love with Melanie’s version of it first, of course.  I loved singing along to those lyrics.  I had to listen to both today:

Check out this live performance of Bob Dylan in 1964:

Who do you consider to be the poetic songwriters of today, or who might be ahead? I have been trying to think who else comes close to Bob Dylan (and Melanie :)).

If you look for it…

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I enjoy and appreciate some of the “viral” videos that have great messages, songs, or provide a good chuckle.  I also enjoy finding a video that someone created to music just to be creative and/or express a message that is important to them and probably not with the intent for it to become “viral” — just tucked away on the internet.

One of my favourite songs by Melanie Safka is Beautiful People, which led me to come across a video that someone created to the original song (there are many others to that song as well). The people of all ages and the scenes featured from around the world in this one are beautiful and powerful. The creator of the video ends it with a slide with the following quote as well:

“Listen with ears of tolerance! See through the eyes of compassion! Speak with the language of love.” ~ Rumi

I appreciated the messages in her images and video and wanted to post and share to my blog:

 

This video recording of Melanie performing the song live quite some time ago is the gem I was looking for :

 

 

 

 

 

 

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