Saturday, June 29, 2013

Post 18: Let's teach The World To Sing In Perfect Harmony (But with songs instead of Coke)

   Hey guys... HARMONY.  I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but I have a pretty massive weak spot when it comes to songs with good harmonies. Like, really massive. I'm pretty much willing to forgive a song that's terrible in every other respect if it's got good enough harmonies. Luckily for anyone reading this, however, today I'm talking about the songs I love that both have good harmonies and are also actually good. This is one of those topics where, as soon as I begin trying to think of good songs to talk about, I immediately come up with a couple of hundred different options. This is somewhat problematic, in that writing is time consuming and I try to get at least three hours of sleep every night (whether I need it or not), and since I don't actually want to cull any of the songs because I love all of them, I'll be putting up a follow up post tomorrow with more luscious things that you can put in your ears without being yelled at by your family doctor.

   I'm going to try to keep this roughly chronological, but honestly I don't care that much. Today is going to be older music, tomorrow's post will be newer music, and other than that all I guarantee is that the songs will in order to within  a thirty year margin of error. I want to start off with one of my all time favorite harmonies ever: the chorus from I Feel Fine by the Beatles. I love the Beatles of course; if you don't love them you're either lying, wrong, or suffer from some terrible trauma. There are no other options. They have so many great songs, and such great vocal arrangements, that I could (and probably will, at some point) write a post just about them, but I Feel Fine has always stuck out to me as one of their best harmonies. It's not my favorite song by them, but the chorus line is just... perfect.

   Most people reading this are probably aware that I'm not a huge country music fan, but I do like several songs (especially older ones, almost exclusively older ones in fact) that walk the thin line between country and other, more palatable genres, because a lot of them have great vocals. F'rexample, a lot of the stuff the Everly Brothers did  was right on the line between country and early rock 'n roll, but it was also great. My personal favorite is probably Dream A Little Dream, but you are welcome to pick a favorite of your own. You might consider Bye Bye Love or Crying In The Rain. Another group that walked this line was the Statler brothers. I don't actually like them as much as the Everly brothers, but I grew up listening to them and have always liked Daddy Sang Bass. For one thing it has great parts, but it also actually made me understand the concept of part singing, so I feel like I owe it a debt. An awesome debt.

  This next song (and group) is kind of inevitable. The Four Seasons were a tightly harmonised group that used falsetto in almost all of their songs, and as I've already mentioned, falsetto is basically my kryptonite. I feel like a lot of their songs weren't actually all that great, but I also don't care; I freaking love Big Girls Don't Cry and no one can take that from me. Also, Walk Like A Man, which always seemed faintly ironic to me, since it sounds like it's being sung by castratos. Also Rag Doll and Opus 17. Guys, I really like The four Seasons.

I mentioned The Kingston Trio back in my post on folk music, but I want to mention them again because I really like Tom Dooley and Raspberries, Strawberries. Also, The Seine, which is a song I tend to forget about for years at a time but which I absolutely love, because it's lovely. I should also mention that basically every folk group I talked about there also had great harmonies, but I try not to repeat myself too much so if you're curious you'll just have to go read the post for yourself. It's twice the literary goodness! Or at least 1 1/2 times the mediocrity.

And lastly, here's a group that I haven't talked about nearly enough: The Byrds. I should specify, when I say I want to talk about the Byrds, what I mean I mean is I want to talk about Mr. Tambourine Man. And Turn Turn Turn if I get the time, but mostly just Mr. Tambourine Man. I really can't overemphasize how much I love their version of the song, but... it's a lot. Out of all the songs I've mentioned in this post, all of which I have loved for most of my life, the Byrds cover of Mr. Tambourine Man may be my favorite. It's really, really good. Also, Turn, Turn, Turn is pretty great. Not Mr. Tambourine Man great, but pretty great.

And of course, here's a bonus song. Recently I've been listening to a podcast called All Back No Front, which I'm enjoying a lot. Frankly I'm tired too really describe it effectively, but it has lots of different songs, and you can listen to them. Anyway, I found that song because I was looking up a different song by that artist, Kuedo. I like it a lot, kind of a moody electronic vibe.

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