I'm posting a track from my new album each week until the official release of "Held Momentarily" on January 20, 2015.   If you haven't already, check out the promotional video for the album on youtube (or here).

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"So Now What?" is the ninth song on the album.  I wrote this song in 2012, the year I left the safety of my non-musical career in pursuit of writing and performing in NYC--the reason I moved here almost 12 years ago.  The lyrics reflect a moment of doubt that many of us wrestle with from time to time.  The effects on the opening piano parts were inspired by John Martyn--whose use of tape delay on some of his biggest work really surprised me when I was turned on to him a couple years ago.  The song features Jonathan Ahrens on bass, and was mixed by Igor Stolarsky.

 

10 The Beatles - The White Album

010: The Beatles – The Beatles (The White Album) (1968)

This is the first Beatles record I ever gave a listen--back in the early aughts.  Until then, I had been reluctant to give them much of a chance.  A co-worker urged me to give this double-album a listen--and she was right.  I loved it.

This album was written during a time when The Beatles were in India studying Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi.  While there, according to the wiki page, they went without drugs (marijuana the exception--hey it was the 60's) and were able to write around 40 songs.  30 of them ended up on this record.  Much of this album was recorded via overdubs, with the full band rarely working together...apparently the rift that led to their break-up began during the recording of this album.

I loved it when I listened to it about 10 years ago...and for some reason, the first two times I listened to it now, I was having trouble remembering why that was. By the third time, again, I was shaking my head and loving every song (with a few exceptions).

This album is not available on Spotify, so no embedded player, but I'll comment on some of my favorites anyway.

To me, Rocky Raccoon, is the best song on the album--and one of the best songs ever written.  It's a perfect example of storytelling being central to a song--but the melody and production don't take a back seat.

11 songs were written by McCartney (including Rocky Raccoon), 10 by Lennon, and only 2 songs written by both (Birthday and Cry Baby Cry).  Harrison wrote four of the songs (including another favorite While My Guitar Gently Weeps).  Ringo wrote 2 songs (including Good Night, which I like so much that I've decided to forgive Octopus's Garden).  That leaves Revolution 9, which I'm not sure even gets songwriting credit.

During the past year, I've come to respect John Lennon for his artistic integrity and searching nature almost to the exclusion of any affection for Paul McCartney (as if it has to be one or the other).  Once I look at who wrote what, I realize that Paul is certainly John's equal, even if he was his own animal.  I've never explored their solo work much (beyond Lennon's entries on this list).  I look forward to exploring even more of their work--especially George Harrison's.

 During the coming weeks, I plan to watch the 9+ hours of their mid-nineties documentary Beatles Anthology (available here).

9 Bob Dylan - Blonde On Blonde

009: Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde (1966)

Before this project, this is the only Bob Dylan record I had ever listened to...and I honestly loved it.

I had trouble listening to it again (perhaps this is because I had a stomach virus that turned into a full-blown cold that has yet to exit my weakened body).  I just wasn't connecting.

This was one of the first double-albums in the Rock & Roll era.  It was recorded in Nashville with some of the top session musicians of the time.  You can tell too--focus on any backing instrument on any track and behold the mastery.   You want an example?  OK.  Check out the piano on One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later).  Or check out the guitar on I Want You.

I have to say that I still have trouble with the length of many of Dylan's songs...just too many verses.  That's probably more an indication of my ADD (face it, we all have it at this point).  I'm more partial to songs (like with The Beatles) where you get in, say what needs to be said, and get out.  Bob likes to pull that taffy as far as it will go, and he certainly gets at some beautiful things by doing so...but while the taffy doesn't break, my attention eventually does.  I'll work on it.

Who wouldn't love the energy on the opening track Rainy Day Women #12 & 35?  They sound like they're having a great time.

I love pulling and distorting syllables, doing my best Bob Dylan impersonation.  The best song to do this with is Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again.  It's just so perfectly Dylanesque (especially the titular line).  The song also has my favorite lyric:

Mona tried to tell me

To stay away from the train line.

She said that all the railroad men

just drink up your blood like wine.

And I said, Oh I didn't know that

but then again there's only one I've met.

And he just smoked my eyelids

and punched my cigarette.

Just Like A Woman is my ringtone for Jeanne.  She loves Dylan.  I love her.  So it seemed to make sense.  Another thing I love about this song is that it isn't verse, verse, verse, verse, verse like so many of his songs (again, this offends my ADD).  This song has a bridge to break up the song.

It definitely helps to have his lyrics in front of you as you listen to the album.  Some things take shape, while others stay in the misty middle space.  You almost have to study his songcraft--as many have.

I'm not sure that I'll ever be compelled to.

But I've been wrong so many times before.

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Verdict

I had trouble with both of the double albums this weeks--even though I'd loved them both before this project.  It's a lot to absorb...especially while visiting family for Thanksgiving and then fighting off not one but two illnesses.  With The White album, my affection came back in full effect.  With Blonde On Blonde, I'm not sure it has.  I still love a hand full of those songs, but have trouble with the lengthier, more dense ones.  I am more than aware that the problem lies with me.  I'll keep trying.

Up Next

Two more double albums?  Fantastic.

008: The Clash – London Calling (1979) 007: The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main St (1972)

Want to listen ahead, or see some posts you may have missed? Check out the full list of the 100 Greatest Albums here.

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