A series about songs that have been covered often and by a wide-range of artists. We'll listen to the original, discuss it and then listen to/talk about the most interesting cover versions.
WTSCF Ep. 23 A Conversation with Michael Nesmith on The Prison
Episode 23 of WTSCF has been a long time coming, basically due to life getting a bit derailed. But I hope you'll agree that it was worth the wait. What we have here is not your average interview with Michael Nesmith. This is sort of grad-level Nez. Spirituality. Metaphysics. Creativity. Psychedelics. Turning away from the darkness of that era. Not a word about The Monkees. No MTV. No Country Rock Pioneer. No Liquid Paper. Have you noticed that most bios and interviews with Nez seem to gloss over The Prison (1974) and his life at the time? As a long time fan of Nez, The Prison for a long time was this mysterious work that I kept trying and failing to get into. Eventually I realized I wasn’t hearing the original work-I was hearing the touched up version Nez released in the 90’s. A few years ago I finally heard the 1974 original, and it all came together. Plus, I sensed a psychedelic infliuence which turned out to be accurate. In this podcast, my long-winded intro is followed by Nez onstage in 1975 telling the plot of The Prison, and finally, the main course: my conversation, recorded in April 2019. Stuff gets very deep, very spiritual, puzzling, funny and always fascinating. Enjoy.
Ep. 22 Reason to Believe
New episode! Note to self: think twice before doing another one with 25+ cover versions. That was a haul.
"Reason to Believe" is a thoughtful and mature Tim Hardin song from 1966 in which the singer is fully aware that he's choosing to carry on a relationship with someone who deals in dishonesty and disrespect. The song's timeless theme struck a chord with many artists (and countless listeners) upon its release, and it was covered by about a dozen artists in 1967 alone. This episode features over 25 versions of this song (spanning from 1966 to 2017) so most aren't played in their entirety. I feel compelled to include some post-production footnotes, as I had a few thoughts once it was too late to include them in the episode. So here are a few things I wished I'd touched on:
1. A mention of Artie Butler and how his string arrangement on the Hardin original was an important component on many subsequent versions; and the many cool ways it was adapted and expanded upon.
2. How the electric piano on the Ian and Sylvia version seems to have influenced a few other versions, including the Carpenters'.
3. How some alternately sing "still I'd LOVE to find a reason to believe".
4. How I mentioned the fusion of Eastern European violin and country fiddle in relation to both Rod Stewart's version and in relation to Camper Van Beethoven's music, but not in relation to each other.
5. How Hal Blaine's drumming on the Scott McKenzie version is magnificent as always.
6. How I can actually see why Doug Dillard wasn't into The Dillards' new direction on Wheatstraw Suite. The fluffy woodwinds on their version of Reason to Believe are a little corny and while Doug obviously didn't object to pop, he wanted to keep things real in his own projects.
Ep. 21 The Long Black Veil
Conceived of (successfully) as an "instant folk song" in the age of instant mashed potatoes and instant coffee, "Long Black Veil" is a tale of murder and infidelity, yes, but is it also a tale of (I hate to say it) "bros before hoes" taken to its senseless, meaningless extreme? The narrator of this song, singing from The Great Beyond, may have wanted to go down a hero by admitting to a crime he didn't commit (murder) so he wouldn't have to admit to a crime he did commit (sleeping with best friend's wife). But I can't help but see him as a selfish coward who's done nothing but add to the burden of those still living. Life goes on without him, and that means 1) there's still a murderer at large and the townsfolk have no idea 2) he died while his best friend was still in belief of his lies 3) neither his mistress' nor his best friend's life is going to get any easier now that he's gone. Not in the short term anyway. Great song though! I'm a bit rusty after some time off, so forgive me any production errors.
Ep. 20 Michael Nesmith's The Grand Ennui: An Exploration of its meaning and its musical evolution through seven "iterations" 1971-2013.
This episode had quite an evolution of its own. It began as a written piece intended for the forum on Nesmith's Videoranch website during my brief, experimental stint working for the site. Once the experiment was abandoned and I was back writing for myself, I decided to turn this into a podcast. In retrospect I should have cut much of the armchair psychoanalysis contained in the first 15-20 minutes, and if you agree, you can always skip to the musical analysis. I'll just say in my defense that I wrote that part while in a very analytical mindset influenced by the vibe of the stuff being written, by myself and others, on the Videoranch forum. Add to that it being the dark days of New England winter as well as my mother living out her final weeks. Things were heavy and I was reflecting that mindset. But as I got more into the podcast, I remembered "entertainment value!" and lightened up. So if you find yourself zoning out at the beginning, I encourage you to utilize the fast-forward until it sounds like things are getting fun. Because they do get fun! And as I say, please go to my Facebook page or my Blogger site and let me know which version is your fave!
Ep 19 - An Alternate History of The Monkees 1967-1969
Truth is at least as strange as fiction. Fact intertwines with my flights of fancy in this episode. At its core is an analysis of the fifth album The Monkees SHOULD have released. I was asked to contribute something to the excellent blog, Monkees Live Almanac back in May of this year to help celebrate the band's 50th anniversary. I thought about it intermittently for two months, wrote it sporadically over the course of the next two months and recorded/produced it in fits and starts over the last two months. And here it is. You do not have to be a fan of the band to dig this one. Enjoy.
Ep. 18 A Conversation with Andrew Sandoval Pt. 2 of 2
My conversation with Andrew Sandoval continues and concludes in this episode. More stories, revelations and insights into the life and career of one of the hardest working people in the music industry. I admittedly turn into a bit of a chatty fanboy in this half but pull myself together and stick with my planned questions. Enjoy.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Thank you so much for the episode on The Prison. It has been an extremely enjoyable and meaningful work for me since I first heard it when the first cd version was released. I am hopeful you will be able to complete a book on this topic.
A comprehensive, dazzling, and fun podcast for true music geeks
What a joy to discover this wonderful podcast, perfect for lovers of obscure music trivia and minutiae. Whether you know and love or know and hate or are about to discover the songs discussed here, you will surely be entertained. Brian does an excellent job engaging the listener with his charming factoids an antidotes. Additionally, you just may find a new version of your very favorite song. Every episode is essential for music nerds. Thanks, Brian!
A joy to listen to
A podcast that speaks directly to my trivia-lovin' heart. Brian is more than just a music fan, he's a musician himself, and he brings such unique insights to the program. There's nothing quite like this out there in the pod-o-sphere, and you'll marvel at the weird ways the likes of Jerry Garcia and Michael Nesmith manage to sneak their way into practically every other episde.