Badfinger – Baby Blue

This is my ninth song pick for Hanspostcard’s song draft. Badfinger’s Baby Blue.

The holy trinity of power pop for me are…Badfinger, Big Star, and The Raspberries…those were the 70s  pioneers. Badfinger was the most successful out of the three…hit wise anyway. You can hear later bands like Cheap Trick, The Posies, Teenage Fanclub, Matthew Sweet,  and even KISS get something from each three.

My love for this song is so over the top. Baby Blue, to these ears, is the perfect power pop song. It has the right combination of the hard British crunch and pop with an irresistible guitar riff. Lets talk about that guitar riff. I know there are other good rock riffs but the perfection in this one is sensational. He plays a variant of it through the song always changing plus a walk down or two. Nothing is purely defined and that is just pure brilliance. The solo is simple but fits perfectly. No nuance in this song is wasted…it was in there for the good of the song…not meant to be flashy.

It’s a hook here, a hook there, and a hook everywhere…and…I’ve been hooked since I first heard it. Everything blends. Even the ending is perfect. On top of that it was produced by a power pop guy Todd Rundgren.

You can hear a young Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick listening and learning from this.

I had gone through Han’s entire album draft without mentioning my name sake…Badfinger…I’m here to rectify that now. I learned about Badfinger as a wee young kid who thought “Come and Get It” was a long lost Beatle song. I found out more about them and bought the album Straight Up. I liked many of their album cuts more than their hits.

As they went along they started to move away from the power pop genre because of the too close Beatle connection. During live performances they sorta became a jam band. Later on they made some excellent albums that no one heard because of a manager who would make Allen Klein (Satan, snake, etc) look good. Arguably the most tragic story in rock and roll…but that is for another day. We are looking now at Badfinger in 1972 before the rug got pulled out from underneath them.

A year ago or so I posted a ranking of my favorite power pop songs. This one was at the top of my list before I wrote it, during the process of writing it, and is still at the top. The others have changed places depending on my mood but not this one.

The song peaked at #14 in the Billboard 100 in 1972. The “Dixie” in the song was Pete Ham’s ex-girlfriend, Dixie Armstrong whom he’d met during the band’s US tour of 1971. Dixie was from Wichita Kansas (thanks run-sew-read).

The song was revitalized again in the great show Breaking Bad. I’m happy that Breaking Bad showcased this song so that another generation knows the song and hopefully that will lead more people to learn about Badfinger. After the show’s finale with this song…the song entered the charts again.

*** Here is the clip from Breaking Bad…but warning…it has a major spoiler for those who haven’t watched it.

Or you can watch them below that with an awkwardly cool Kenny Rogers introducing them. The music is not live but the vocals are…they are playing to a backing track…but listen to those live voices….although they are mic’d up so they are probably playing low along with the backing track.

Baby Blue

Guess I got what I deserved
Kept you waiting there too long, my love
All that time without a word
Didn’t know you’d think that I’d forget or I’d regret
The special love I had for you, my baby blue

All the days became so long
Did you really think, I’d do you wrong?
Dixie, when I let you go
Thought you’d realize that I would know
I would show the special love I have for you, my baby blue

What can I do, what can I say
Except I want you by my side
How can I show you, show me the way
Don’t you know the times I’ve tried?

guitar solo

Guess that’s all I have to say
Except the feeling just grows stronger every day
Just one thing before I go
Take good care, baby, let me know, let it grow
The special love you have for me, my Dixie, dear.

Buzzcocks – Harmony In My Head

Happy Monday everyone! Everything that I’ve heard by them is loud, catchy, aggressive, and with a power pop hook. I listened to the Buzzcocks in the 80s with some friends that owned some imports. I hoped they would break in America but never did.

The Buzzcocks crossed pop with punk. The Go-Go’s have said they were a huge influence. Jane Wiedlin said: “our favorite band, the band that we always tried to emulate was the Buzzcocks, who had that great pop song done in a punky style.”

Grunge bands admired the Buzzcocks also. Pearl Jam  invited the band to open US shows for them in 2003, including the Buzzcocks’ first ever appearance at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Nirvana invited them to open dates on their last ever European tour, in early 1994.

Steve Diggle wrote this song and did the lead vocals on it. He said the “harmony” in the song is the sound of the crowd when they played.

To get the right sound for the song, Diggle smoked 20 cigarettes to get the gruff sound of the vocals. The song peaked at #32 in the UK charts in 1979. The song was just released as a single not an album.

They released 3 albums, 6 non-album singles, and broke up in 1981 after a dispute with their record company. They reunited in 1989 and released 6 more albums. Pete Shelley continued to play with the band until his death of a heart attack in 2018. The band still continues to tour with Diggle.

Steve Diggle: “I was reading James Joyce’s Ulysses, which is a heavy book but it had a lot of cinematic imagery – so ‘Harmony’ wasn’t a linear story like pop songs are. The Arndale Centre had just been built and it gave me a real sense of alienation. I wanted to walk down the street and hear the percolation of the crowds – that was the ‘harmony.’ Life was never going to be sweet and nice and it’s not always doom and gloom. The ‘Harmony In My Head’ was the sound of the crowd. That’s how real life is.”

From Songfacts

When Buzzcocks played their first concert, Steve Diggle was their bassist, but founding frontman Howard Devoto’s departure prompted the band to reshuffle, with Pete Shelley becoming lead vocalist/guitarist and Diggle moving from bass to guitar and co-vocalist.

Diggle also had a few early co-writing credits and contributed chords and choruses to “Promises” shortly after Pete Shelley’s “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve).” “Harmony In My Head,” which reached #32 in the UK, is probably Diggle’s best known song.

 Engineer Alan Winstanley recalled to Uncut: “‘Harmony’ is interesting as it’s the only one Steve Diggle sings – it doesn’t have that Pete Shelley sweetness – but when he comes in on the chorus it really changes it. Then off Steve goes again with his growly voice.”

Released as a standalone single on July 13, 1979, the song spent six weeks on the UK singles chart, peaking at #32.

Harmony In My Head

Whenever I’m in doubt about things I do
I listen to the high street wailing sounds in a queue
Go out for my walking sailing social news
Don’t let it get me down I’m long in the tooth

When I’m out in the open clattering shoppers around
Neon signs that take your eyes to town
Your thoughts are chosen your world is advertising now
And extravagance matters to worshipers of the pound

But it’s a harmony in my head
It’s a harmony in my head

The tortured faces expression out aloud
And life’s little ironies seem so obvious now
Your cashed in cheques have placed the payments down
And there’s a line of buses all wait to take you out

But it’s a harmony in my head
It’s a harmony in my head
It’s a

It’s a harmony in my head
It’s a harmony in my head
It’s a harmony in my head
It’s a harmony in my head

Whenever I’m in doubt about things I do
I listen to the high street wailing sounds in a queue
I go out for my walking sailing social news
Don’t let it get me down I’m long in the tooth

‘Cause it’s a harmony in my head
It’s a harmony in my head
It’s a harmony in my head
It’s a harmony in my head

In my head, in my head

Big Star – Kanga Roo

This album was quite different than the other two Big Star albums. This song has a wonderful melody but it sounds like the world is collapsing around him when he sings it.

This song was on their 3rd album “Third/Sisters Lovers.” By this time the bands founder Chris Bell had been gone since the debut album was released and bassist Andy Hummel quit after their second album Radio City. There were only two original members on the album…Alex Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens. This album sometimes has been looked at as an Alex Chilton solo album…Jody did contribute a song and brought in a string section that was used in other songs.

They used different Memphis musicians on the album. Alex was dating Lesa Aldridge (who would go on to form a punk band calle The Klitz) and she helped with the album also.

Jim Dickinson produced this album and he got close to Chilton and encouraged him to try new things. Alex sometimes cut tracks late at night, then presented them to Jim the following day. After the two had been discussing the producer’s role, Alex showed up with “Like St. Joan,” possibly referencing the martyred Joan of Arc, which morphed into “Kanga Roo.”

Jim jumped into action, adding electric guitar feedback, strings via a Mellotron, and his own amateurish drums—since Jody wasn’t there that day—including a very loud cowbell. Inspired, Alex grabbed a drumstick to use as a bow on his Strat, creating an eerie sound. Effects were added to Alex’s drowsy vocals, which presumably related the story of his and Lesa’s love affair:

Jim Dickinson: “Alex came in one morning and he had this little evil grin on his face,” “He said, ‘Lesa and I cut something last night I want you to hear.’ Okay, so he plays me ‘Like a Kangaroo’ [its second title], which is acoustic twelve-string and vocal on one track [making it difficult to separate the sounds]. I said, ‘Yeah, Alex, what do you hear on that?’ And with the evil grin, he says, ‘Well, why don’t you produce it, Mr. Producer?’” “I first saw you, you had on blue jeans / Your eyes couldn’t hide anything . . . Thought you were a queen, oh so flirty.” Alex later said of the lyrics that he was spewing things out loud, just song after song. . . . The whole process was kind of automatic, free association.” “I think of Alex as a collaborator. He allowed me to collaborate with him.

Kanga Roo

I first saw you
You had on blue jeans
Your eyes couldn’t hide anything
I saw you breathing, oh
I saw you staring out in space

I next saw you
You was at the party
Thought you was a queen
Oh so flirty
I came against

Didn’t say excuse
Knew what I was doing
We looked very fine
‘Cause we were leaving

Like Saint Joan
Doing a cool jerk
Oh, I want you
Like a kanga roo

Fountains of Wayne – Stacy’s Mom …. Power Pop Friday

It’s hard not to like this song. it’s fun and the video should not to be missed. When I was growing up…I don’t remember any friend’s moms looking like Rachel Hunter though.

The song was credited to  Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger…but Schlesinger wrote it. Stacy’s Mom was released in 2003 on the Welcome Interstate Managers album.

The intro resembles the Cars Just What I Needed and they even asked Ric Ocasek to be in the video for the song. He never responded but they had some tributes to him in the video.  A license plate reads “I ♥ RIC” and a young kid dressed similar to Ocasek with dark hair and sunglasses. They also re-created the scene from the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which featured the Cars’ “Moving in Stereo.”

Adam Schlesinger said that he had Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” in the back of his mind when he wrote Stacy’s Mom… “It was a contrast of that story against a track that sounded like ’80s new wave, like The Cars or something.”

Adam also said that one of his friends when he was 11 or 12 was attracted…not to his mom but to his grandmother. He told Schlesinger that she was “really hot.” That incident helped him write the song.

It peaked at #21 in the Billboard 100, #11 in the UK, and #13 in Canada in 2003

The band Bowling For Soup has been misidentified as the band that did Stacy’s Mom. Youtube and even some of their fans even thought they were the band that did the song…so…they covered it! They do sound somewhat like Fountains Of Wayne.

Jaret Reddick (Bowling for Soup leader) said that by finally releasing their own version of the song, “I’ve basically just taken care of a large part of the population that’s been wrong for years, and I’ve made them right.” The cover art for their version of the  song release reads: “Finally you can say this is your favorite song by BFS and not look like an idiot!”

Unfortunately Adam Schlesinger passed away on April 1, 2020 from complications of Covid-19…he was only 52 years old.

Songfacts

The Cars’ influence is obvious – just compare the intro of their track, “Just What I Needed,” to the intro of “Stacy’s Mom” to hear for yourself.

This song was a commercial success and reached #1 on iTunes’ Most Downloaded Songs chart. In 2004, it was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Vocal Pop Performance. Adam Schlesinger told us “Stacy’s Mom” “is definitely the biggest of my own band stuff.” Schlesinger added to Bullz-Eye.com that he does not think Fountains of Wayne will achieve the same level of success they did with “Stacy’s Mom” ever again: “I think ‘Stacy’s Mom’ was a fluke thing where it was the right song and the right video, and you kind of had the novelty factor, and all that stuff. And you can’t really make that happen again.”

Actress and model, Rachel Hunter, portrayed Stacy’s mom in the song’s official video – directed by Chris Applebaum. Parts of the video bear a striking resemblance to the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High. At one point in the movie, a character named Brad is in a bathroom fantasizing about his sister’s friend and the friend walks in on him. His sister’s name, coincidentally, is Stacy. .

The song featured in a commercial for the Cadillac SRX, which shows a woman picking up her daughter from school. As she does so, men gaze longingly at her “beautifully practical and practically beautiful” …car.

Stacy’s Mom

Stacy’s mom has got it goin’ on
Stacy’s mom has got it goin’ on
Stacy’s mom has got it goin’ on
Stacy’s mom has got it goin’ on

Stacy, can I come over after school? (after school)
We can hang around by the pool (hang by the pool)
Did your mom get back from her business trip? (business trip)
Is she there, or is she trying to give me the slip? (give me the slip)

You know, I’m not the little boy that I used to be
I’m all grown up now, baby can’t you see

Stacy’s mom has got it goin’ on
She’s all I want and I’ve waited for so long
Stacy, can’t you see you’re just not the girl for me
I know it might be wrong but I’m in love with Stacy’s mom

Stacy’s mom has got it goin’ on
Stacy’s mom has got it goin’ on

Stacy, do you remember when I mowed your lawn? (mowed your lawn)
Your mom came out with just a towel on (towel on)
I could tell she liked me from the way she stared (way she stared)
And the way she said, “you missed a spot over there” (a spot over there)

And I know that you think it’s just a fantasy
But since your dad walked out, your mom could use a guy like me

Stacy’s mom has got it goin’ on
She’s all I want, and I’ve waited so long
Stacy, can’t you see you’re just not the girl for me
I know it might be wrong
But I’m in love with Stacy’s mom

Stacy’s mom has got it goin’ on
She’s all I want and I’ve waited for so long
Stacy can’t you see you’re just not the girl for me
I know it might be wrong
I’m in love with (Stacy’s mom oh oh)
I’m in love with (Stacy’s mom oh oh)
Stacy can’t you see you’re just not the girl for me
I know it might be wrong, but
I’m in love with (Stacy’s mom oh oh)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stacy%27s_Mom

Buzzcocks – Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve?)

This song is really catchy and has a punk pop sound. Some times a title is so good that you listen to the song regardless of who it is. This title fits that description and unlike some…it lives up to it.

The song title came from a line Marlon Brando spoke in the 1955 movie, ‘Guys And Dolls’ which Pete Shelley watched in a hotel room while on tour.

The Buzzcocks formed in Bolton, England in 1976 by singer-songwriter-guitarist Pete Shelley and singer-songwriter Howard Devoto.  They chose the name Buzzcocks after reading the headline, “It’s the Buzz, Cock!”, in a review of the TV series Rock Follies in Time Out magazine. The “buzz” is the excitement of playing on stage; “cock” is northern English slang meaning friend.

They released 3 albums and broke up in 1981 after a dispute with their record company. They reunited in 1989 and released 6 more albums. Pete Shelley continued to play with the band until his death of a heart attack in 2018. The band still continues to tour.

The song peaked at #12 in the UK in 1978.

Songwriter Pete Shelley: “The song dates back to November 1977. We were on a roll. It was only six months since we’d finished the first album. Up in Manchester this was what we used to dream of… a whirlwind of tours, interviews, TV. We were living the life. One night in Edinburgh we were in a guest house TV lounge watching the musical Guys and Dolls. This line leaped out – ‘Have you ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn’t have?’ The next day the van stopped outside a post office and I wrote the lyrics there. I did have a certain person in mind, but I’ll save that for my kiss’n’tell. The music just seemed to follow, fully formed.”

“The opening line was originally ‘You piss on my natural emotions,’ but because ‘Orgasm Addict’ hadn’t been getting radio play because of it’s title, I needed something a bit subtler. So I came up with ‘spurn.’ It had the same sort of disregard, but wasn’t so likely to offend!”

The Fine Young Cannibals had a no. 9 UK hit with their cover version, recorded for the soundtrack of the 1986 film Something Wild.

From Songfacts

.In 1987 when Fine Young Cannibals covered this, their more laid back, soulful version peaked at #9 in the UK. They recorded the song after being asked by the director Jonathan Demme to provide him with a song for his upcoming film Something Wild. It is featured on the film’s soundtrack released as “Ever Fallen in Love.”

In the same Uncut interview the song’s producer Martin Rushent recalled: “Pete played me ‘Ever Fallen In Love…’ for the first time and my jaw hit the floor. I felt it was the strongest song that they had written-clever, witty lyrics, great hooklines. I suggested backing vocals-to highlight the chorus and make it even more powerful. No one could hit the high part-so I did it. I’d sung in bands in my youth and I also worked as a backing singer.”

The story of how The Buzzcocks came up with their name: In February 1976 Shelley and guitarist Howard Devoto read an article about a band called the Sex Pistols who had just played in London. “It was a realization of someone else doing what we already wanted to do,” Shelley told Reuters. The pair borrowed a car and drove from Manchester down to London to seek out the Sex Pistols. “We bought a copy of Time Out, which had no mention of them at all,” recalled Shelley. “But in the magazine was a preview for a TV series called Rock Follies. The headline was, ‘It’s the buzz, cock.” And that’s how we got the name.”

Thea Gilmore, Pete Yorn, Will Young, Billy Talent and Anti-Flag are among the acts to cover this song. The New York City band SUSU released their version in 2020 in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. They explained: “A good cover is hard to find. Turns out this one was a telling tale, a perfect sonic and energetic fit. We were a brand new band, consummated on Valentine’s Day, in the pink of our five-week European honeymoon. We found ourselves leaving behind the tour we had just fallen in love with due to circumstances beyond our control – a pandemic. Proper heartbreak. But we all know the first breakup never sticks.”

Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)

You spurn my natural emotions
You make me feel I’m dirt and I’m hurt
And if I start a commotion
I run the risk of losing you and that’s worse

Ever fallen in love with someone
Ever fallen in love, in love with someone
Ever fallen in love, in love with someone
You shouldn’t have fallen in love with?

I can’t see much of a future
Unless we find out what’s to blame, what a shame
And we won’t be together much longer
Unless we realize that we are the same

Ever fallen in love with someone
Ever fallen in love, in love with someone
Ever fallen in love, in love with someone
You shouldn’t have fallen in love with

You disturb my natural emotions
You make me feel I’m dirt and I’m hurt
And if I start a commotion
I’ll only end up losing you and that’s worse

Ever fallen in love with someone
Ever fallen in love, in love with someone
Ever fallen in love, in love with someone
You shouldn’t have fallen in love with?

Ever fallen in love with someone
Ever fallen in love, in love with someone
Ever fallen in love, in love with someone
You shouldn’t have fallen in love with?

Ever fallen in love with someone
Ever fallen in love, in love with someone
Ever fallen in love, in love with someone
You shouldn’t have fallen in love with?

Fallen in love with
Ever fallen in love with someone
You shouldn’t have fallen in love with?

The Scruffs – She Say Yea —-Power Pop Friday

Introducing the Scruffs. I love that name for a band. They have been around since the  70s and have released an album in 2011.

Big Star wasn’t the only power pop band in Memphis in the 70s. This band formed in Memphis in 1974. It was started by writer/guitarist/vocalist Stephen Burns along with guitarist David Branyan, bassist Rick Branyan, and drummer Zeph Paulson.

“She Say Yea” was influenced by the Beatles and Byrds but also early 70s American power pop greats like the Raspberries and Big Star.

They used Big Star’s same studio (Ardent) and their producer Jim Dickinson who along with Big Star worked with the Rolling Stones,  Carmen McRae, Delaney & Bonnie, Jerry Jeff Walker, Dee Dee Warwick, Ronnie Hawkins, Sam & Dave, Dion, Brook Benton, Lulu, Sam the Sham and others.

I have heard some great power pop in the last 10 years but for me the golden era of Power Pop was in the 70s and 80s…I do believe in the last ten years it has made a comeback with newer bands…but I love these seventies bands that with a little more luck could have had major success.

The Scruffs  released their debut album in 1977 named Wanna Meet the Scruffs? The single from the album was Break the Ice  with  She Say Yea as the B side. Another single off the album was Shakin’ / Teenage Girls…we will go over that one in a few weeks.

All 13 tracks were written by guitarist Stephen Burns though lead guitarist Dave Branyan gets partial credit for three numbers.

(Sorry… could not find the lyrics)

Cheap Trick – I Want You To Want Me —Powerpop Friday

I Want You To Want me is when I first started to notice Cheap Trick…the version off of the Cheap Trick At Budokon album

The song was included on their second album In Color, which was released later in 1977. This version had a medium tempo with a country feel and a honky-tonk piano throughout the song.

By 1978, the band had dropped this song from their setlist but restored it when they toured Japan that year since Japanese audiences loved the song. They played it on April 28 and 30 at their famous concerts that took place at the Budokan temple in Tokyo, which was a big deal because many Japanese citizens felt the temple was sacred and not appropriate for rock concerts. When the Beatles played at Budokan their were protests a decade before.

The song peaked at #7 on the Billboard 100 in 1979.

 

From Songfacts

This song has a long and intriguing history. It was written by Cheap Trick’s guitarist Rick Nielsen and recorded for their 1977 self-titled debut album, but it didn’t make the cut. 

 The concerts were released as the Live At Budokan album, which captured Cheap Trick’s live energy and turned their fortunes around in America, where the album was released in February 1979 and sold over 3 million copies. The extracted “I Want You To Want Me” became their first hit, charting at #7.

According to Rick Nielsen, the band considered this “sort of hokey pop” when they first recorded it, and the arrangement matched that sentiment, with finger snaps and a plaintive country feel. Robin Zander played up the schmaltz in the vocal, sounding like a woebegone cornpoke. This studio version fell flat, but when they played it as an earnest rocker, it worked.

The famous At Budokan version of this song was inspired by a French cover version (“J’attends Toutes les Nuits”) by a fairly obscure French synthpop artist named Niko Flynn, who sped up the tempo and put a beat to the song.

Many early Cheap Trick songs written by Rick Nielsen are from the perspective of characters who are a little unhinged (see: “Dream Police”), and the band played that up with their eccentric fashions and accessories. The guy in this song is a bit desperate and delusional, figuring a shoeshine and a new shirt will make the girl love him.

This is one of the few rock songs that starts with the chorus.

In 1978, this appeared as the B-side of Cheap Trick’s single “California Man.”

In 1997, the group recorded a new version of the In Color album (complete with this song), with producer Steve Albini, but it was never released.

The studio version

The live version

I Want You To Want Me

I want you to want me
I need you to need me
I’d love you to love me
I’m beggin’ you to beg me
I want you to want me
I need you to need me
I’d love you to love me

I’ll shine up my old brown shoes
I’ll put on a brand new shirt
I’ll get home early from work
If you say that you love me
Didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I
See you cryin’ (cryin, cryin’)
Oh, Didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I
See you cryin’ (cryin, cryin’)
Feelin’ all alone without a friend
You know you feel like dyin’ (dyin’, dyin’)
Oh, didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I
See you cryin’ (cryin’, cryin’)

I want you to want me
I need you to need me
I’d love you to love me
I’m beggin’ you to beg me

I’ll shine up my old brown shoes
I’ll put on a brand new shirt
I’ll get home early from work
If you say that you love me
Didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I
See you cryin’ (cryin, cryin’)
Oh, Didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I
See you cryin’ (cryin, cryin’)
Feelin’ all alone without a friend
You know you feel like dyin’ (dyin’, dyin’)
Oh, didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I
See you cryin’ (cryin’, cryin’)

Feelin’ all alone without a friend
You know you feel like dyin’ (dyin’, dyin’)
Oh, didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I
See you cryin’ (cryin’, cryin’)
Feelin’ all alone without a friend
You know you feel like dyin’ (dyin’, dyin’)
Oh, didn’t I, didn’t I, didn’t I
See you cryin’ (cryin’, cryin’)

I want you to want me
I need you to need me
I’d love you to love me
I’m beggin’ you to beg me