The first track tonight is from John Hiatt - The title track off of his 16th album, released in 2000, this was the first album that John actually owned outright. Straightforward, acoustic, much more ‘americana’ sound, with the brilliant lyrics, forward mixed vocals. It’s obvious that the words are very important.
John Hiatt is a master songwriter, and I love how clearly he describes the reality of the craft.
“People tend to, especially with singer-songwriters, take songs as literal snippets of the writers’ lives,” he says. “My point in that song was that they’re not, exactly--it comes out of a whole mess of images and only the song survives.” John Hiatt
LA Times article.
Our second track is from the badass supergroup ‘I’m With Her’ comprised of Sarah Jarosz, Sara Watkins, and Aoife O’Donovan.
It’s the same song, but with different decisions made, to highlight the strengths of the the group. I’ve seen them do this live, and it is incredible how much of a dynamic arc they can produce, three women, each playing one instrument and in one piece there are so many layers.
what did you hear? Does everyone play all the time? Does everyone sing all the time?
And now, let’s go a little further afield. what happens when the inspiration comes from a different genre.
Tonight we are going a bit rock and roll, this piece spent 4 weeks as no 2 on the billboard hot 100 charts, sold over one million singles. It’s 4 minutes of attitude, synth, and the Boss doing his born in the USA dance moves.
Springsteen wrote "Dancing In the Dark" overnight, after Jon Landau convinced him that the album needed a single. According to journalist Dave Marsh in the book Glory Days, Springsteen was not impressed with Landau's approach. "Look", he snarled, "I've written seventy songs. You want another one, you write it." Despite this reaction, Springsteen sat in his hotel room and wrote the song in a single night. It sums up his state of mind, his feeling of isolation after the success of his album The River, and his frustrations of trying to write a hit single. Six takes of "Dancing in the Dark" were recorded on February 14, 1984, at The Hit Factory, and after 58 mixes, work was completed on March 8, 1984. The 12-inch single was released May 9, 1984, and was the highest-selling 12-inch single in the US that year
So what happens when you want to cover a tune? what do you do, you’re not Springsteen, so why try to be him. Don’t set yourself an impossible task. Find what aspects of the song are essential, what things can be transferred to other instruments, what instrument has a percussive pop to fill in for drums? what instruments can hold long soundscape pads like a synth? Do you change the tempo? can you add in harmonies? Is there a problematic verse you don’t want to use? lyrics you want to adjust?
So without further Adieu I give you a this wonderful version of Dancing in the dark, by Ruth Moody from her album These Wilder Things Adam Dobres (guitars), Adrian Dolan (fiddle, mandolin, accordion), Sam Howard (upright bass) and her brother Richard Moody (viola)–
What do we do?
Join us to be inspired by music from around the world, no preparation, prerequisites, or practicing required. I’ll read a short composer bio, highlight some historically relevant material or interesting context, we’ll listen to a piece of music, and then take the time to reflect on what we heard, ask questions, and explore.