If You Haven't Heard It, You Should: Story Songs #2
Album Of The Year
Singer Tim Kasher, bassist Stefanie Drootin-Senseney, multi-instrumentalist Ryan Fox, and drummer/percussionist Roger Lewis are the indie band The Good Life. They derived their name from the previously-used slogan for the state of Nebraska. Kasher performs in the emo band Cursive and uses The Good Life as a place where he can express his sound in a different voicing and musical direction.
"Album of the Year" is the title track to an entire album that goes over an ill-fated relationship over one year's span. The band will be touring the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and South in August and September of this year.
It's been almost seven years since the world lost Jerry Reed, the talented and hilarious country singer/songwriter from Atlanta, Georgia. But, his music is still considered highly original.
For example, the 1970 track "Amos Moses" is about a Cajun boy who hunts and wrestles alligators in the Louisiana bayou. The song was a mixture of country and funky rock and roll, but it still kept the country music tradition of telling a story.
"Amos" would be the first big crossover hit of Reed's career, which included a song called "Guitar Man" which Elvis Presley covered. A few months after the success of the gator hunter's tune, Reed would score his biggest hit, "When You're Hot, You're Hot". Jerry was also famous for his acting appearances, which included all three Smokey and the Bandit movies. Reed, in fact, wrote the first movie's theme song, "East Bound And Down".
"Amos Moses" was also used in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Warning: Explicit Language
It Was A Good Day
When "The Predator" was released in 1992, it became the first album to ever debut at the top of the Billboard 200 chart and the R&B chart. The co-founder of NWA had already found success as a solo artist, but with The Predator, he was entering the stratosphere.
Part of that success was buoyed by a two-part story told in the music videos for "It Was A Good Day" and "Check Yo Self" (featuring Das-Efx). The song "It Was A Good Day" became so iconic, it - much like Reed's "Amos Moses" - was even used in the top-selling video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Of course, Ice Cube has gone on to be an actor, producer, and director. But, his roots are in the rap game and he is considered one of the most important figures in the history of hip-hop.
Before you listen to the Ice Cube (born O'Shea Jackson) hip hop classic, give a listen to the video below. Cube got the sample for his track from one of The Isley Brothers' most famous R&B hits, Footsteps In The Dark.
The Sample Ice Cube Used For "It Was A Good Day"
Other famous songs used as Hip Hop samples
Hip Hop Track
Notorious B.I.G. - Big Poppa
The Isley Brothers - Between The Sheets
Mariah Carey (feat. ODB) - Fantasy
Tom Tom Club - Genius of Love
Sugarhill Gang - Rapper's Delight
Chic - Good Times
Through The Wire - Kanye West
Chaka Khan - Through The Fire
Warren G (feat. Nate Dogg) - Regulate
Michael McDonald - I Keep Forgettin'
Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby
Queen (feat. David Bowie) - Under Pressure
Kool Moe Dee - How Ya Like Me Now
James Brown - Night Train
De La Soul - Eye Know
Steely Dan - Peg
2pac - Changes
Bruce Hornsby - The Way It Is
Wyclef Jean - We Trying To Stay Alive
Bee Gees - Stayin' Alive
Run DMC - Walk This Way
Aerosmith - Walk This Way
City of New Orleans
The most famous version of this song is either the 1972 version done by Arlo Guthrie or the 1984 Willie Nelson version. Perhaps you may also be partial to the versions by either Judy Collins, Johnny Cash, or one of the ones done in other languages. But, the song was originally written in 1970 by Steve Goodman, an artist who was discovered by Kris Kristofferson.
Nelson's version earned a Grammy in 1985. Guthrie, the son of much heralded folk singer Woody Guthrie, would score his only Billboard chart hit with his version. Also, the first line of the chorus "Good morning, America. How are you?" became so iconic, it would become the basis for the title of a new morning news show ABC premiered in 1975.
Goodman was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 20 years old. He would succumb to the disease in 1984, meaning Goodman would never know that his songwriting earned him that Grammy in 1985.
Which version of "City of New Orleans" is your favorite?
The standout song on Suzanne Vega's 1987 album Solitude Standing was a powerful tune about child abuse called Luka. Vega did, in fact, know a boy who lived upstairs from her named Luka. She said the boy had the same last name as her and they met when she received his Junior Scholastic by accident.
Years later, the teen came back to the building with a girlfriend and tried to prove that Vega did indeed live downstairs from him. But, by then, the only person lived there was Suzanne's old roommate. But, in real life, that boy was not abused by his parents.
She originally wrote the song in 1984, but kept a hold on it until 1987. Vega wrote the song in two hours. The tune was about a nine year old boy trying to hide the fact his parents are abusing him. She received a number of letters from fans after the release of the song.
Vega is also known for the song "Tom's Diner", which was also on Solitude Standing. Both songs continue to get airplay on mix and 80s radio stations all over the world.
The Last Time I Saw Richard
Her recent health troubles cannot take away from the fact Joni Mitchell is not only one of the most talented songwriters native to Canada, she is one of the most influential singer/songwriters of all time.
In 1971, she released one of the most emotionally bare albums of our times, Blue. "The Last Time I Saw Richard" could be considered one of the strongest tracks on an album filled with them - an ode to the hopeless romanticism of a skeptic, the musical chairs-like way of love, and the aching nostalgia that came with the aftermath.
Rolling Stone picked as #30 on their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. Time Magazine placed the album on its list of the All-Time 100 Albums. Mitchell is in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She also has a Century Award from Billboard and a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.
According to singer and guitarist David Crosby, Mitchell recently had an aneurysm which has left her without the ability to speak.