365 Day Song Challenge: Day 77 – “I Know There’s Something Going On”

Day 77: A song you like with a female vocalist.

“I Know There’s Something Going On” – Frida

I Know There's Something Going OnIt’s funny how you can have a lot to say about a song you hate, but very little to say about a song you really like.

This is one of those cases. I don’t have a story to go with this song, per se, so what I do have is more along the lines of trivia and observations.

“Frida” for those who aren’t in the know, is actually singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad. This might normally mean nothing, but Anni-Frid is, in turn, one of the “A”s in ABBA. (For those that don’t know, each of the letters in “ABBA” stands for the first name of one of the four members. I could name all the others, but I wouldn’t want to show off. Okay, I can’t name all the others.)

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The song (and the album Something Going On from whence it came) was produced by Phil Collins and came on the heels of his unexpected success with his debut album Face Value and a little single called “In The Air Tonight.” (I’m not kidding. It may seems unbelievable now, but no one expected Phil’s solo stuff to do much of anything at the beginning.) He also played drums on the song, giving it his trademark gated drum sound.

To me, right from the get-go, the drums infuse the song with a bit of a sinister feel. The rest of the instrumentation does nothing to change that. And, I suppose if you’re writing a song about someone sneaking around doing naughty things, that’s kind of what you’re going for. Even Frida’s vocals seems less angry than it does accusatory, which still all plays into the mood.

I think the song is well done.

And that’s all I got.

I have no specific memory associated with the song; no story. I like the song quite a bit, and it’s not just because of the Phil Collins connection. (I liked it long before I even knew who Phil Collins was.) It’s a good song to listen to loud, thanks to the driving drumbeat. But an anecdote that does not make.

Tomorrow will be better. I promise. Okay, I can’t promise.

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 65 – “Find A Way To My Heart”

Day 65: Your favorite song by an actor turned singer.

“Find A Way To My Heart” – Phil Collins

Find A Way To My HeartIt’s funny how your memory can fail you. Like its counterpart—singers turned actors—I looked at this topic and racked my brain trying to come up with candidates. (I do a lot of brain-racking for this thing. I hope it’s not doing permanent damage.) And then even more trying to figure out if those candidates could possibly be a favorite.


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And then it hit me. (That happens a lot too. This whole blog thing is really kinda violent.) Phil Collins started as a child actor! Believe it, it’s true. Now, Phil’s a pretty talented guy, so the path actually goes drummer turned actor turned back to drummer turned singer turned actor. And a bunch of those he did all at the same time. Did you get all that?

But in terms of professional gigs, he was an actor first. He actually appeared in The Beatles film Help! as an extra, but that doesn’t really count as acting. He played the Artful Dodger in theater productions of Oliver Twist (no, not the movie Oliver!, although there is a passing resemblance) but his breakthrough role was in 1967’s Calamity The Cow. (You have no idea how hard it was to type that without laughing out loud. I can’t imagine what would happen if I actually tried to say it.)

At any rate, you can see a clip here. Phil has a close-up at 1:18. Yes, that’s what he looks like with hair. Really bad hair. He may actually be better off that he lost it.

Twenty-two years later he would release an album called …But Seriously. You may not have heard of it. It didn’t sell too well. Only like 4 million copies or something like that in the US. It might have barely charted, too. I can’t remember.

Anyway, for my money, the best song on the album is not any of the four singles that charted in the Top 4 of the Billboard Hot 100. It was the song that closed out the CD (but not the LP, interestingly enough), “Find A Way To My Heart.”

The song starts with a quiet, distorted guitar growl that slowly grows louder. Then a tribal-sounding drumbeat kicks in, and then, finally, at 0:40 the rest of the instrumentation kicks in. The song features a lot of the Phil Collins calling cards. Aforementioned prominent drums. Horns. Lyrics that he belts out too high and loud to reliably recreate in concert.

But its message is simple:

Find a way to my heart
And I will always be with you
From wherever you are
I will be waiting.
I’ll keep a place in my heart
And you will see it shining through
So find a way to my heart
And I will follow you.

It plays to the sappy romantic that I am at heart. Plus, for a love song, it rocks. I guess I like that combination.

Before I remembered the Phil/actor connection, I had some other possibilities:

So, apologies to David Soul. I had to go with someone who could actually sing. Better luck next time.

Hopefully the next few blogs with have less racking and hitting. I need to heal.

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 36 – “I’ve Been Trying”

Day 36. Your least favorite cover song.

“I’ve Been Trying” – Phil Collins

PhilLoveSongsAs I’ve said before, there are a lot of cover songs out there. Trying to narrow the field down to your least favorite is kind of like trying to find the one grain of rice on your plate that is the most undercooked. So when thinking of a candidate for today’s post, what I finally decided was that I needed to find a cover I couldn’t stand from an artist that I normally like. I didn’t have to go too far. Phil Collins has done a lot of really good cover songs. Right out of the chute, his debut solo album Face Value included two covers (“Behind The Lines,” which was the first known recorded Genesis cover, and a cover of The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows”). The follow-up album, 1982’s Hello! I Must Be Going included perhaps his best-known cover, “You Can’t Hurry Love.” Heck, his last album (to date) Going Back, was a whole album of Motown covers. But, time out. Let’s take a step back. For the sake of completeness.. or maybe parallel construction.. or (the most likely) padding my post…

LandOfConfusionPhil

For those that don’t know, Phil Collins happens to be the same Phil Collins who is/was in Genesis. Or for those that know Genesis only by the “Land Of Confusion” video, the guy to the left. Alright, you probably know who Phil Collins is. I told you it was padding. Go with it.

<rant>To be clear, Genesis is a band all on its own. Don’t let me catch you pulling that “Phil Collins and Genesis” crap that the DJs like to do. What Genesis does is, in general, noticeably different from what Phil does solo (except for “Hold On My Heart”). To insinuate that Genesis was somehow Phil’s backup band does them a huge disservice. And I will beat you mercilessly if you try it.</rant> Back to the covers. Given Phil’s history with covers, you’d think he’d know what he was doing. But, even the best of artists have low points, and the subject of today’s post is, in my opinion, in the bottom five of Phil’s career output. Some background: In 1993, Phil did an album called Both Sides on which he played all the instruments. I’ll be honest: it was uneven. Shortly thereafter A Tribute to Curtis Mayfield appeared, and Phil Collins had a song on it: “I’ve Been Trying.” So, being a lunatic completist who needs everything any member of Genesis ever did… er… collector, I bought it. Turns out it was another example of Phil playing all the instruments. And it was worse than anything on Both Sides by far. Now, I’m not intimately familiar with Curtis Mayfield’s output. I don’t know the original of this song, and Phil’s version did nothing to make me want to track it down. But I hope it’s better than the plodding, boring, monotonous thing that is Phil’s cover.  It’s got to be. No song good enough to actually inspire someone to cover it can be that bad. Unless some crazy person has covered Rick Astley. Or Color Me Badd. Or Michael Bolton. But I digress. Phil must like the song, because it showed up later on his Love Songs compilation. Granted, it’s a two-disc set, so maybe he felt he needed some padding, too. I can respect that. But it’s more likely that he’s got a soft spot for the recording. God knows why. Like I said everybody has their low points. Everybody makes bad decisions. Phil had been married and divorced three times, so that may tell you something about some of his decisions. He did manage to redeem himself a little bit afterward. He did a cover of “The Times They Are A-Changin'” that I think is better than Bob Dylan’s original (because, y’know, Phil can actually sing) and a cover of “Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End” for George Martin’s Beatles tribute that was perhaps on par with the original. Oh yeah, and “True Colours” on his Hits album. And… wow, he’s done a lot of covers when you think about it. So I guess I can forgive him for the occasional misstep when it comes to his covers. If I have to. You still can’t make me like the song. So, out of curiosity, what is your least favorite cover?