A Thing About…Part2: The Men

Thursday 23 – Saturday 25 July 2015

Last week I wrote about a bunch of songs that I have a thing about that were performed by women in music. So, it’s only fair that I cover a bunch of songs that I have a thing about that are performed by men. Unlike last week where there were some more recent songs however, the majority of these songs are older. Let’s get stuck into this.

First off, let us welcome Damien Rice, and his song ‘Cannonball’. I first heard this song in the last scene of the very first episode of The L Word. Rice has got this gentle tone, innocence, a softness in his voice when he sings this song, and that control just lends itself to expressing the vulnerability that the lyrics are filled with. The second verse: ‘Still a little bit of your ghost, your witness/Still a little bit of your face I haven’t kissed/You step a little closer each day/That I can’t say what’s going on’ and the chorus: ‘Stones taught me to fly/Love ‒ it taught me to lie/Life ‒ it taught me to die/So it’s not hard to fall/When you float like a cannonball’ are probably my favourite. That being said, the introduction and first verse are what captured my ear, and my appreciation of the rest of the song followed on from that. If you’ve not heard ‘Cannonball’, be open-minded, and give it a listen. I like it. I like it a lot.

Dishwalla, a band that few people in Australia seem to have heard of, but one that people should make themselves aware of. I have three Dishwalla songs in particular that I’ve got a big thing for. The first is the song that sort of hit it all off for the band, ‘Counting Blue Cars’. I think it’s safe to say that if you ask any Dishwalla fan to name their favourite songs, the majority will tell you that ‘Counting Blue Cars’ is it. But what really makes this song is J. R. Richards’ delivery. He sings in rich tones that seem to me to be just a lil velvety. ‘Must have been late afternoon/As on our way the sun broke free of the clouds/We count only blue cars skip the cracks, in the street/And ask many questions like children often do’ – oh the memories of childhood that I have from these lyrics. Hanging out with friends in the street in front of our houses, playing street cricket or street tennis, or just sitting around watching the world go by. And of course, everyone who loves this song I think loves the chorus: ‘We said, “Tell me all your thoughts on God/‘Cause I would really like to meet her/And ask her why we’re who we are?/Tell me all your thoughts on God/‘Cause I am on my way to see her/So tell me am I very far, am I very far now?”’ Tell me all your thoughts on God . . . Dishwalla fans, tell me that you read that line without singing it?

Following that one, I’m really taken by ‘Somewhere In The Middle’. Love, love, love this, and I’d say that ‘Opaline’ is my favourite Dishwalla album. ‘You had this look that of an angel/it was such a bad disguise/when you drink it makes you angry/when I drink I want you more and more and more/tripping hard falling down onto the ground/‘cause I can’t stand up/and I can’t fall down/and I’m somewhere in the middle of this/well I find it hard/I always tried to find the sane life/but I don’t like the way things are/and I keep falling to my knees somewhere in the middle of this’. I’m just going to let these lyrics sit here, because I like them . . .

The last Dishwalla number that I’ve got a thing about is ‘Every Little Thing’. The chorus, ‘I wish I could be/every little thing you wanted/all the time/I wish I could be/every little thing you wanted/all the time/some times’, yeah, it’s a good one. And then there’s verse two: ‘Lift me up/just lift me up don’t make a sound/and let me hold you up before you hit the ground/see all come/you say you’re alright/but I get the strangest feeling/that you’ve gone away – you’ve gone away/and will you find out who you are too late to change?’ Lyrically, it’s perhaps a lil bit heavier than a lot of the songs that I have a thing about, but it’s just a beautiful combination of lyric and melody that sets everything right.

And we have a nice segue way into an artist who I have a big thing for – J. R. Richards, former lead singer of Dishwalla. His song ‘A Beautiful End’ is, well, beautiful, but it’s also melancholic but uplifting. It’s a celebration of a life, albeit a lost life. The first verse, ah well: ‘Fate – we say goodbye on this day/a Potter’s field angel lay/the sunlight fills from your grace -/and so much love gives this place the feel of warmth inside/I hear the words of your life/an angel gone……. moved on’ and then on to the chorus: ‘it’s a beautiful end to a beautiful life/a beautiful night to a beautiful day/it’s a beautiful end to a beautiful life/A beautiful soul gone this day’. But, the lyrics that have stayed with me are the first couple of lines of the second verse: ‘the flame – a candle burns in your stead/roses line white and red’. Add to that imagery the actual footage from the video clip, and consider the meaning behind the words, and potentially it could be a massive sob-fest every time I hear this song.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve covered in another post at some point, the fact that I really, really like J. R. Richards’ work both solo, and as lead singer and songwriter of Dishwalla, but I’ll say it again. If you can get your hands on his solo album ‘A Beautiful End’, grab it with both hands, and don’t let go until you get that CD to a CD player, or that digital download on to your iPod. Beautiful songs, beautiful voice.

Much lesser known, certainly internationally, is the next song that I’ve got a thing about. Good ol’ Iva Davies and Icehouse produced a perfectly fabulous album many, many years ago. It was 1987 when the album ‘Man Of Colours’ was released, and the song ‘Man Of Colours’ is the one that has been my favourite. Oh sure, ‘Crazy’, ‘Electric Blue’, and ‘My Obsession’ were absolute chart toppers, but ‘Man Of Colours’ . . . it has this gorgeous lil cor anglais riff throughout it. I know, the words cor anglais and riff don’t really go hand in hand, and I’m sure that they are probably rarely, if ever other than my sentence, appear in the same sentence. Trust me on this though, it is a haunting instrument when played well, and I do so love an oboe break in a piece of music. 😉

Like many of the songs that I love, the imagery in ‘Man Of Colours’ has a strong pull for me. ‘There’s a noise upstairs in the attic/It’s the shuffle of worn out shoes/And the scent of the oil and brushes/Drifts down like a pale perfume’ – tell me that you don’t understand what this guy looks like, what he does, just from those few words. Follow it up with another verse: ‘He says, “I keep my life in this paintbox/I keep your face in these picture frames/And when I speak to this faded canvas it tells me/I have no need for words anyway…”’ You’re left in no doubt who he is. And I don’t think anyone else could get those words across as beautifully as Iva Davies does.

Tal Bachman, son of Randy Bachman of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and The Guess Who, oh I totally had a big thing for Tal just from the cover of his debut self-titled album. And then he opened his mouth and sang ‘Darker Side Of Blue’, and ‘She’s So High’. The chorus of ‘Darker Side Of Blue’ is what I personally love belting out when I sing murder this song: ‘You walk in the room with your attitude/You’ve got an awful lot to prove/At the end of the day/When you walk away/Are you on the darker side of blue?’ To me, it kinda starts off ballsy . . . and then continues that way with verse two: ‘You used to be/Someone just like me/Do you wonder what you’re missing?/And when the paparazzi stare/At your face and clothes and hair/Do you wonder what they’re whispering?’. Again, to me, it’s a bit of a confrontational song. Give it a listen.

Of all of Tal Bachman’s songs, the one you’ve probably heard the most often, or at all, is ‘She’s So High’. It’s a well sweet piece about a natural woman, granted she’s high society and he knows his place, but she’s no plastic Barbie kinda girl. Call me old fashioned, but it’s nice to hear a guy sing about falling for a woman who’s relatively normal, or at least plastic, nip, and tuck free. ‘She’s blood, flesh and bone/No tucks or silicone/She’s touch, smell, sight, taste, and sound/But somehow I can’t believe/That anything should happen/I know where I belong/And nothing’s going to happen, yeah/‘Cause she’s so high/High above me/She’s so lovely/She’s so high/Like Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, or Aphrodite’. Oh, and there’s a lil bit of history in there as well. Ooooh, errrrrr. 😉

When I was younger I had a massive thing for George Michael. Yep, he was my sorta guy. That wasn’t something that panned out very well. Apparently, he wasn’t anywhere near my sorta guy, nor would he ever be. So, I’m left with only his music, and ‘A Different Corner’ from all those years ago is still a song that I enjoy listening to. And George’s voice isn’t unpleasant to my ears either. I must have been twelve or thirteen when the song was released and I first heard it. I was in my WHAM! phase. I had all of their albums, knew the lyrics to every WHAM! song, and played them at every opportunity. But ‘A Different Corner’, that song had an entirely different feel to it than other WHAM! songs. It was, and still is, quite a melancholic song to me. Bit of a pattern happening with these songs that I have a thing about.

I’ve tried to pick out what I think are the best parts of the song, lyrically speaking, but it’s so bloody hard with this one because every verse, every syllable of ‘A Different Corner’ is emotionally brilliant. If I could isolate something, I’d go with these two verses: ‘I’d say love was a magical thing/I’d say love would keep us from pain/Had I been there’, and ‘Take me back in time/Maybe I can forget/Turn a different corner/And we never would have met/Would you care?’ Oh George . . . George, George, George . . . you broke my heart, you really did.

Last song on my list of songs I’ve got a thing about is another George Michael number. ‘The Strangest Thing’ was off of his ‘Older’ album, and I kinda feel as though it was an underrated song. I certainly never really heard it on the radio or TV. But it’s a great song. The verses are catchy, but the first couple and the chorus would have to be the ones I sing out loud: ‘Take my life/Time has been twisting the knife/I don’t recognise/People I care for/Take my dreams/Childish and weak at the seams/Please don’t analyse/Please just be there for me/The things that I know/Nobody told me/The seeds that are sown/They still control me/There’s a liar in my head/There’s a thief upon my bed/And the strangest thing/Is I cannot seem to get my eyes open’. Add in a few ‘la la las’ and it’s a keeper of a song. I think George has a bit of a gift for song writing . . . a great hair, especially in the WHAM! ‘Make It Big’, and ‘Faith’ phases of his career. Great, great hair. Oh, and of course, a great voice. Yep, you broke my heart, George.

There are, undoubtedly, many other songs that I have a thing about. Some of them I’ve written about in other posts, and probably there will be future posts that I write about more songs that I have a thing about. Because that’s what good music, good literature, good films and TV shows, and good art does – it works its way into your brain and heart and soul, and it makes itself comfy, and it makes you have a thing about it.

Think about it. What are the songs that you have a thing about, and why do you feel that way about them?

* * * * *

Cannonball – D. G. Rice

Counting Blue Cars – Dishwalla & G. Kolanek

Somewhere In The Middle – Dishwalla

Every Little Thing – Dishwalla

A Beautiful End – J. R. Richards

Man Of Colours – I. Davies

Darker Side Of Blue – D. J. Miller, T. C. Bachman, & S. Solomon

She’s So High – T. Bachman

A Different Corner – G. Michael

The Strangest Thing – G. Michael

* * * * *

Footnote: 1. I don’t own the copyright of any of these songs, and I apologise if I’ve left any songwriter off of the credits list.

  1. If I left any writer off of the list of song writing credits, I deeply apologise.
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About Danielle

I like to write. What more is there to know?
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