Something in music: origin
One evening at a hot, trendy L.A. nightclub on a rare solo outing, yours truly found himself standing alone at the bar preparing to review the upcoming act. Before he had taken more than a few notes, however, he was bookended by a pair of vivacious vixens who insisted on engaging your rockin’ writer in cozy conversation. Strangely, the subject of “marriage” arose.
One of the young ladies noted that when a gal is about to get hitched she needs “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.” Your provocative penman was immediately inspired. After all, those very same terms could be applied to music too: “Something old” or classic, “something new” or recently released, “something borrowed”, a cover, and “something blue”, a blues song or a song with “blue” in the title. The rest is history.
‘Something’ in Music 188
Our “something old” this edition is the classic cut “Prove It All Night” by American singer-songwriter and musician Bruce Springsteen. It was the first single off his 1978 platter Darkness on the Edge of Town. This music video is (obviously) a live version taped that same year in Phoenix, Arizona.
Our “something new” here is the new single “Imagine” recorded by the Asheville, North Carolina-based music and art collective Saint Disruption. It is a 50-year celebration of John Lennon’s 1971 classic cut “Imagine” with a new arrangement by Saint Disruption and Asheville’s hip-hop quartet Free Radio. This re-imagined take also includes additional lyrics by Free Radio’s co-founder Austin Hayes.
It features John Medeski on keyboards, Jeff Firewalker Schmitt on drums, Grammy winner Warren Haynes on slide guitar, Jake Wolf on bass, and Grammy winner Debrissa McKinney, Datrian Johnson, and Austin Hayes on vocals. In a recent email, Austin discussed the song. He said:
“‘Imagine’ has long been one of my favorite songs. Although John Lennon’s classic might not make most people think about hip-hop, for me, I’ve always wanted to remix it and rap on it. In this dark time our world is currently in, I attempted to meet Lennon on his committed frequency of love and add some poetic confidence in the spirit of hip-hop. Working with this group of musicians was humbling and encouraging because they really helped create the space for the presence and camaraderie that brought our version to life. I couldn’t be more grateful that it turned out exactly how it did.”
Warren Haynes added: “[It’s] such a cool, inventive take on this timeless tune. It highlights the amazing strength and importance of the song while taking it into the future. It’s a real honor to work alongside my nephew Austin, my Asheville cohorts, and my old friend John Medeski.”
Medeski admitted: “I’m very sensitive about covering songs. I don’t see the point unless you have something personal to say or want to shed a different light on the original. ‘Imagine’ is an anthem, so at first, I was tentative. It was essential that we evoke a different emotional landscape as the backdrop for the song— something all of us were feeling. I think it happened. Nothing felt forced, it all came together easily and naturally, a good sign!”
Firewalker spoke of the origins of the piece. “We were inspired to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of Lennon’s classic recording ‘Imagine,’ as we feel the message is more pertinent than ever. There are no human dilemmas, no global issues, no societal imperatives that the message of ‘Imagine’ doesn’t touch. We hope that our rendition stands as a ‘call to action,’ as we ask ourselves, ‘Are we courageous enough to dismantle the structures that have not served us?’ ”
Our “something borrowed” this time is the song “Walk This Way” originally recorded by the American rock band Aerosmith. It was written by band members Joe Perry and Steven Tyler for their 1975 platter Toys In The Attic. This rockin’ rendition is by the all-female Aerosmith tribute band Ragdolls.
The band roster includes founder Susie Major (lead vocals and harmonica), Ali Handal (lead guitar and vocals), Masha McSorley (guitar and vocals), Tara Rae (electric bass), Marisa Testa (drums and vocals), and Julie Dolan (keyboards and vocals). Would you like to hear more of their music and see them perform live? Check out their tour schedule!
Finally, our “something blue” this edition is the song “Bumble Bee” by blues guitarist and singer-songwriter Memphis Minnie and her second husband, entertainer Joe McCoy. They recorded it in February 1930 for the Vocalion record label. They had already recorded it for Columbia Records. It went on to become one of her biggest songs and recorded a total of five versions of it.