Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Hands In The Sky Big Shot – Great Music Will Live On Forever

I have been on a Sons Of Anarchy binge lately. Just recently I finished Season 2 and the final episode had an unbelievable piece of music that complemented and enhanced the desperation of the final scenes. You need to see it, to understand what I mean.

Of course I wanted to know more about this piece of music. So I Google “Sons of Anarchy Season 2 Music”. I come across a WIKIA page that shows me each episode and the songs that played on each episode. I click on the final episode of Season 2 and I see that the last song listed is from a band called “Straylight Run” and that the song is called “Hands In The Sky”.

So I go onto YouTube, type in the band name, and there it is. I came across 16 videos with a combined play count of 1,498,818. Spotify streams have the count as 110,507.

I want to go deeper, because that is what we do, when we come across something that connects with us.

The song was released on an EP, called “Prepare To Be Wrong” from 2005. God damn. I am hearing this song in 2013. That is 8 years after its release.

The audience (both legal and illegal) who watched “Sons Of Anarchy” on December 1, 2009 heard the song for the first time. If you dig deeper you will see that the actual song hit YouTube from December 4, 2009, which is right after the “Sons Of Anarchy” episode.

By February 2010, the band went on indefinite hiatus due to money complications. This is strange, especially when “Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)” was doing the rounds courtesy of the TV show.

Of course, with Victory Records being the label that released the EP, it would be safe to assume that Victory Records would have kept their reputation intact by pocketing handsomely and not giving a cent to Straylight Run.

Straylight Run started off on Victory Records due to a contract that John Nolan and Shaun Cooper had with the label courtesy of their other band “Taking Back Sunday.” That contract was fulfilled with the EP release in 2005. Then Universal Republic picked them up for their 2007 release “The Needles The Space” only to be dropped when vocalist, guitarist and pianist Michelle DaRosa left. They went all independent for their next two EP releases and then called it a day after that.

Great music will always be found. “Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)” will live on forever. It is now a part of pop culture. It really captured the desperation of the scenes and now I can’t stop playing the song, along with Neil Young’s “Hey, Hey, My, My” which was used to close Season 3.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Lifehouse

Lifehouse just seems to hang around in my life. Maybe it is because my wife played the No Name Face album to death at home and in the car when it came out in 2000. While the lead-off single Hanging By A Moment had the traction, it was cuts like Cling and Clatter, Quasimodo and Everything that hooked me in. I especially enjoyed the song Everything and its movement from an acoustic introspective song into a Stairway To Heaven big finish.

No Name Face was the pinnacle. Stanley Climbfall and the self titled album didn’t even come close. I was starting to lose interest and to my surprise so was my wife. Who We Are in 2007 got my attention with the sorrowful Storm, the soul searching rock of Disarray and the Johnny Cash vibe of Broken . Then in 2010, came Smoke and Mirrors. Tracks 1 to 8 are top notch. They should have stopped the album right there. It would have been perfection. The most recent album Almeria has the song Moveonday, which reminds me of When The Levee Breaks from Led Zeppelin. The rest however pales compared to No Name Face and Smoke and Mirrors.

All In is a great song from the Smoke and Mirrors album released in 2010.

It’s a Jason Wade and Jude Cole composition. The soft first fret capo’d strumming in the intro is all an illusion to the rock song that lay in waiting. The chords that are played are F, C, G and Am, with a capo on the first fret. 

The chords then change to C, F, Am – G and F for the verse and the chorus. This is a part of Lifehouse I like a lot. They use the same chords for the verse and for the chorus and they change the vocal melody. This is the extreme opposite to say Dream Theater, who will have a verse riff that is unique and a chorus riff that is unique.

And I’m all in
Nothing left to hide

I’m all in
I’m all in for life

It’s those moments in time when you realise, yeah, I am in love, so let’s do this. My father always said to me that you marry for life. In 2013 my wife and I are going to celebrate 15 years of marriage with our three kids. It’s been a ride. There have been highs and there have been lows. However, I am all in for life.

There’s no taking back what we’ve got
It’s too strong we’ve had each other’s back for too long

There’s no breaking up this time

When I come across people that tell me they never argue and that everything is perfect, I just smile and reply that they are so lucky. However I am thinking that at least one person in the relationship is not telling the truth. Eventually they implode. It could have been a secret gambling addiction, not being truthful about money and so on. There have been times in our relationship were it is easier to just walk away, however we have had each other’s backs for so long, walking away was never an option that came in our minds.

It’s the best song on Smoke and Mirrors.

Falling In would not be out of place on a Daughtry album. It’s the laid back feel that hooks me in. It’s a Jason Wade, Jude Cole, Jacob Kasher Hindlin and Kevin Rudolf composition.

Outside writers can bring a lot to the table, however they can also make the song very formulaic. Kevin Rudolf is known to be the “King Of The Cross Genre”. His resume is diverse, involving song writing credits with Timbaland, Cobra Starship, My Darkest Days, Lil Wayne, Natasha Bedingfield, Flo Ride and so on. As I mentioned earlier, the overall sound of the song would not be out of place on a Daughtry album. I am hearing the pop formula at work.

This is another song where the verse riff and chorus riff use the same chords. In this case they are G, D, Em and C. The vocal melody is designed to carry the song and it does a marvellous job at it.

Every time I see your face
My heart takes off on a high speed chase

Now don’t be scared, it’s only love
Baby that we’re falling in

It’s that moment when you commit. You don’t know what the outcome is going to be, you just know at that point in time there is nothing else you want except the love.

Smoke And Mirrors

It’s the Tom Petty and REM influence that hooks me in. It’s another Jason Wade and Jude Cole composition. The Intro of Em, G and D times 3 is the familiar Chorus progression. This ends with a dissonant Eb6 sus4 chord and then a C/G chord.

The verses move from C to D times 3 and it ends with the same dissonant Eb6 sus4 chord and then a C/G chord.

Now the days roll hard and the nights move fast
They say be careful what you wish

But having everything means nothing to me now
What we had is everything to miss

All the riches we have, we cannot take to the grave. All that will be left is the memories. That is the legacy we leave behind. If people talk about their experiences and the moments they had with you, that is a legacy. No one is going to remember if you had millions or billions in your bank account. This whole song is about striving to be someone you are not, and then when you get those riches, you realise that it really meant nothing to you. The real smiles, the romance, the good and the bad of a relationship are the things that really mattered.

Gonna drive all night ’til we disappear
Chasing down the miles so far from here

As the smoke and mirrors start to fade away
And we’re all we’ve got so let’s hold on tight

When the masquerade is over and all the crowds are gone you are either all alone or you still have your loved one hanging in. Strange as it is, this song reminds me of the Savatage song, When The Crowds Are Gone from the Gutter Ballet album, released in 1987. The message of the song is about a person who is sitting on the empty stage, reflecting on all the unfinished dreams and trying to remember those memories that seem to slip away like faded photographs. Throughout his or her life, they conformed to win over the masses and then when the masses then went on to something else, what is left?

The story’s over, when the crowds are gone

You need to have that other life, that place of sanity, that when the crowds disappear and all the money disappears, you still have that love. When one story ends, the other story still continues.

This is the beauty of music were a song from a different genre brings back a memory of another song that is 26 years old.

When the crowds are gone
And I’m all alone

Playing a final song

For any artist or an actor, that is the way it will end. The crowds and the riches will not be around forever. Look at Johnny Cash, who in his last days was recording his music from a hospital bed, without the crowds and the riches. He just had his family.

Had Enough is an interesting song. First it is written by Jason Wade, Chris Daughtry and Richard Marx. What a combination of Top 10 writers. It also features Chris Daughtry. Furthermore, Bon Jovi has been trying to write a song like this for years, however he just never nailed. Just Older from the Crush album is probably the closest Bon Jovi got.

The intro and verse are built around an Am, F, C and G progression, moving to a Dm and F progression just before the chorus. The chorus is built around a C, F, Am and F progression. I like the movement from the minor key sadness in the verses to the major key “hope” and it’s time to move on mantra in the Chorus.

Loneliness facing up and down these hallways
Second guessing every thought

Mystified, just spinning ’round in circles
Drowning in the silent screaming with nothing left to say

You know the feeling of suffering in silence trying to make things work, but really doing nothing special to make it work.

Every time I reach for you, there’s no one there to hold on to
Nothing left for me to miss, I’m letting go, letting go of this

Lost my mind thinking it through, the light inside has left me too
Now I know what empty is, I’ve had enough, I’ve had enough of this

The part in the relationship where you know that the other side has checked out emotionally and lovingly, however they are still around physically because both sides cannot find the strength and the effort to call full time.

From Where You Are is a Jason Wade composition. According to Wikipedia the song is dedicated to the teens who have lost their lives in car accidents.

The intro and verse is a F, Am and G progression, while the Chorus moves to a Am, F, Am, G progression. The song moves from a major key in the verses to a minor key in the Chorus.

I miss the years that were erased
I miss the way the sunshine would light up your face

I miss all the little things
I never thought that they’d mean everything to me

In the end, no one is going to miss the wealth or the fame. We will miss all those little things that at first glance we didn’t see as important.

It Is What It Is

It’s another Jason Wade and Jude Cole composition.

Play the Capo on the 4th fret and the intro/verse progression is Em | C | G-D | G-D. The Chorus progression is G | D | Em | C and the Bridge progression is C | D | Em | Am.

It is what it is
I was only looking for a shortcut home

But it’s complicated

It’s hard trying to keep a relationship going. There are no shortcuts and its very complicated. So many strings are attached to it. Sometimes in those times of doubt it is better to be without each other. Love is complicated. More complicated than we think.

If the time could turn us around
What once was lost may be found

For you and me, for you and me

Time moves on. Once it is gone, we cannot get it back. To use a plate analogy for love, once the plate is broken, it doesn’t matter how the plate is glued back together, it is never the same.

Nerve Damage

It’s another Jacob Kasher Hindlin, Jude Cole, Kevin Rudolf and Jason Wade composition. It has that Stairway To Heaven feel at the beginning that hooks me in. In this case the song begins in Bm instead of Am. I also love the bluesy feel of the lead.

New circus freak
With black eyes that speak

Life takes it’s toll
You push and it pulls
You’re losing control

The mask that we wear makes us look like circus freaks. Even though this song is about a relationship, I take a different meaning from this verse.

I see the lines “New circus freak with black eyes that speak,” is the aftermath of the violence. The person is so battered and so bruised, they look like a circus freak. The black eyes is the result of the violence.

The lines, “Life takes its toll, you push and it pulls, you’re losing control,” is the result of the bed the person made for themselves. There is an old saying, “you live and die by the life you lead.” In this instance, the person is losing control of their life as the situation they are in takes its toll.

Meltdown’s looking for a new clown
Living in a world that’s make believe
Used up burned out always got a hand out
Ain’t nothing here for free
Now you’re hanging on the edge of tomorrow
Let go let it be

This is what happens when you play a game of being someone you are not. You end up used, burned up and hanging by a thread to this thing called life. The meltdown is like the machine of life, always looking for new souls to keep it running. In the end, nothing is for free. We all end up paying the price for something we have done.

Hell bent looking for a god send
Kicking down the door waiting for a sign

Right side turning on the bright side
That might not be what you find
Wake up move on nothing left to prove
Got nightmares in your dreams

This last verse is about restoration. Get out of the make believe nightmare you created and move on. Let that past life be a nightmare in your dreams from this point forward. Don’t let it drag you down anymore.

Halfway Gone is a Jason Wade, Jude Cole, Kevin Rudolf and Jacob Kasher composition. It is using the same chords as Had Enough, which are Am, F, C and G with a capo on the 4th fret.

You were always hard to hold
So letting go ain’t easy

I’m hanging on but growing cold
While my mind is leaving

You know that it is over in your head, but you haven’t called it quits in the physical realm.

Cause you’re halfway in but don’t take too long
Cause I’m halfway gone, I’m halfway gone

The contradiction. One is halfway in, while one is halfway gone. 

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Hellyeah – Stand Or Walk Away

This song is so underrated. It’s got that Kashmir groove and even though the band is called Hellyeah, the song would not be out of place on a Mudvayne album.

Stand Or Walk Away is not one of those tracks you listen to passively. Your whole body becomes involved. The head nods, the foot starts to tap and your fingers start to lay down the beat. There is heaps of stuff happening in the track. There is a sense of classic rock familiarity that intrigues you and it is modern at the same time.

It’s dark yet uplifting and at position number nine it is best track from the 2010 album Stampede. With all the negative reviews around the overall album, it is very easy to miss a great song.

The Diary Of A Madman influenced acoustic intro kicks it off and then the Led Zeppelin Kashmir groove kicks in. Any song that is a derivative work of two classic songs that came before it, deserves attention.

I was told that life is beautiful
Well I’m not looking through those eyes
Wished upon a star and watch it fall away
Well that’s just one more thing that couldn’t be forever

Growing up I wasn’t told that life is beautiful. My father was quick to remind me that life is hard. He is an honest realistic man. He didn’t sugar coat things. So as I got older and I started to see what my father was taking about come to fruition it wasn’t much of a shock or a letdown to me as it was to some of my friends, who had parents that raised them with unrealistic ideals. There is a difference between providing realistic guidance and providing false guidance.

Don’t know if I should live or die
Should I stand or walk away

This is the reason why this song makes a connection with me. It is those two sentences. This world that we live in forces you to measure your worth in gold and status. It forces you to betray the honest ideals you grew up with to attain both. Then that moment comes were I needed to press the reset switch and start again.

I’m full of scars but I’m not made of stone
And my hearts exposed, my transparent life of terror

Our life is mistake riddled. That is the only way that we can really learn. You don’t appreciate the value of money until you hit rock bottom and have lost it all. You don’t appreciate the value of life, until you are laying in a hospital bed, broken and bruised.

Did I throw it away because of my ways?

If you are asking the question, then you know the answer to it.

The band Hellyeah is sort of like an enigma. Chad Gray is a great vocalist. His voice is unique and original. That is why the Mudvayne tag is hard to shake. Much in the same way that Device is seen as an extension of Disturbed due to David Draiman’s uniqueness, I am pretty sure that the fans see it same way between Mudvayne and Hellyeah. For me, it is all about the songs. If the songs are there to make a connection with me, then I am tuned in.

The Stampede album is nothing special. I only have this one song on my iPod from it. When I heard that Hellyeah was a goer, I thought to myself, geez, this band is going to have to live up to a lot of expectations, with the fusing of Mudvayne, Pantera and Nothingface. Those expectations to me is still the Achilles heel of the band.

It will be interesting to see what kind of magic, Kevin Churko brings to the next album. Kevin Churko to me is the definition of a rock star. He has the same traction as the musicians he works with. I can honestly say that I will purchase an album of music just because Kevin Churko produced it. I seriously believe that Churko will get a better crafted album from them.

One last thing, when the future generations write the history of metal guitarists, talented players like Greg Tribbet will be forgotten. But they shouldn’t be. Tribbet is a sum of his influences. He can be progressive (Mudvayne’s 2nd album is the piece d resistance in progressive riffage), he can be heavy, he can be the guitar hero and he can be soulful, bluesy and even countrish. He is very underrated and a great talent.

So since we are in the single music era, go and stream the crap out of this song. It will be worth your time.

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