Memories and Differences in Perspective- M9Q2

“In My Life,” a tune originally written and performed by the Beatles, is a song about memories. The feeling of nostalgia – a sort of happy longing over past memories – can be heard and understood from listening to the Beatles’ performance. Time changes the world around us; people are born, pass away, move into and out of our lives, but we can still hold onto the memories of the past and reminisce over the good times.

In contrast, Judy Collins’ cover of this song presents a much more lamenting mood than the joyful one of the Beatles’ version. Without any change to the lyrics, Collins creates a distinctively different tone for the song. Perhaps the solo performance style adds to this feeling of longing/loneliness – with only Collins’ voice, acoustic guitar and a bass accompaniment –  compared to the Beatles’ full electric band, bright vocal harmonies, and lively piano bridge section. The use of drums in the Beatles’ version adds a lively beat to the song, whereas Collins’ absence of rhythm emphasizes a darker emotion within the piece. Without a change in lyrics, the message remains the same for both performers; they are reflecting on their cherished memories. The Beatles are looking back on these life moments and carrying on with a brighter outlook on life. Collins looks back on these recollections and, though recalling some good times, continues to give off a feeling of longing.

Thank you for reading – have a great day – and be sure to check out our fellow classmate’s blog discussion on Nine Inch Nails’ and Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”! (I really like that selection!)



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Joni Mitchell’s “Blue”: Setting the Standard for Singer-Songwriters – M8Q2


In 1971, now critically-acclaimed and highly influential singer-songwriter, Joni Mitchell broke the conventions of folk style, creating a highly individual 10-song suite titled: Blue. This would be the album that kick-started her career, turned Joni Mitchell into a household name, and set the standard for all future singer-songwriters to follow. Listed below are three pieces from the album that exemplify this set standard through the transformation of folk lyrics, melody, and accompaniment into a deeply personal reflection of life and love.

A Case of You:

“A Case of You” reflects a relationship that has come and gone – sung as a conscience admission of the relationship’s end. Mitchell’s lyrics carry a level of poetic skill that constructs  vivid imagery in the minds of her listeners; this song is a prime example of the poetic skill that Mitchell is known for and the standard for other artists to try to match. As the title of the song discusses regarding the relationship, Mitchell could “drink a case” of this person and “still be on [her] feet” – a very sobering thought that leaves a strong impression on those who hear it.

This Flight Tonight:

“This Flight Tonight” tells the story of Mitchell’s conflict as she boards a plane, leaving her lover. The rapid-fire delivery of these lyrics could be compared to Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” but with more musicality. This piece specifically highlights how Mitchell took the conventions of folk style and transformed them into a design of her own – filled with highly poetic lyrics, unpredictable melody, and unique rhythmic accompaniment.

My Old Man:

In “My Old Man,” Mitchell describes her significant other at the time and how he made her feel. It should be noted that while one’s “old man” is commonly referring to a father figure in today’s vernacular, the term was more-so used in reference to a boyfriend when the song was released. This tune has Mitchell playing the piano instead of the dulcimer like in most of the other tracks; this displays her multiple talents as a musician. The main feature to listen for in this piece is the distinct shift in mood when Mitchell describes how she feels with her partner near and when he is absent – switching from a happy-sounding major key to a sad-sounding minor key then back to the major key. Mitchell’s use of vivid imagery, distinctive melody and harmony, and solo piano playing in this piece further reinforce the significance of this album to the world of music.


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The Motown Sound- M7Q1

Founded by Berry Gordy Jr. in 1959, Motown records lifted African-American music to a level of popularity where everyone and anyone could enjoy listening to its catchy tunes. Motown included several particular characteristics of production that gave songs of the record label a signature sound. Such characteristics are borrowed influences from other genres like the syncopation of jazz, the call and response of gospel, the use of strings, horns, and backup vocals from pop, and the storytelling of blues. Other aspects of the Motown sound include a melodic electric bass line, clear back-beat, catchy and memorable melodies, and simple, common themes like love and heartbreak, and distinctive melodic and chord structures that would appeal to the largest audience possible. Here are ten songs that highlight the best of Motown’s signature sound:

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell: melodic electric bass, call and response between two lead vocalists, distinctive back-beat, pop influence with inclusion of strings

Please Mr. Postman – The Marvelettes: distinctive back-beat, call and response with backup vocals, blues lyrical influence

Do you Love Me – The Contours: blues lyrical influence, distinctive back-beat, call and response with backup vocals, melodic electric bass

My Girl – The Temptations: call and response with backup vocals, distinctive back-beat, pop influence with inclusion of strings and horns

I Want You Back – The Jackson 5: melodic electric bass, pop influence with inclusion of strings and horns, call and response with backup vocals

Signed, Sealed, Delivered – Stevie Wonder: pop influence with inclusion of horns, melodic electric bass, call and response with backup vocals, distinctive back-beat

Stand By Me – Otis Redding: melodic electric bass, pop influence with inclusion of horns, jazz influence in syncopation, blues lyrical influence

Lean On Me – Bill Withers: melodic electric bass, blues lyrical influence, call and response with back-up vocals,

Dancing In The Street – Martha and the Vandellas: call and response with backup vocals, pop influence with inclusion of horns, distinctive back-beat

Love Train – The O’Jays: call and response with backup vocals, distinctive back-beat, pop influence with inclusion of strings and horns, melodic electric bass


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