Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits

dire-straits-150Dire Straits were a British rock band formed in 1977 by Mark Knopfler (lead vocals and lead guitar), his younger brother David Knopfler (rhythm guitar and backing vocals), John Illsley(bass guitar and backing vocals), and Pick Withers (drums and percussion). Dire Straits’ sound drew from a variety of musical influences, including jazz, folk, and blues, and came closest to beat music within the context of rock and roll. Despite the prominence of punk rock during the band’s early years, their stripped-down sound contrasted with punk, demonstrating a more “rootsy” influence that emerged from Pub rock. Many of Dire Straits’ compositions were melancholic. Dire Straits’ biggest selling album Brothers in Arms has sold over 30 million copies, and was the first album to sell a million copies on CD.

They also became one of the world’s most commercially successful bands, with worldwide records sales of over 100 million Dire Straits won four Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards—winning Best British Group twice, two MTV Video Music Awards, and various other music awards. The band’s songs include “Money for Nothing”, “Sultans of Swing”, “So Far Away”, “Walk of Life”, “Brothers in Arms”, “Private Investigations”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Tunnel of Love”, and “Telegraph Road”.

According to the Guinness Book of British Hit Albums, Dire Straits have spent over 1,100 weeks on the UK albums chart, ranking fifth all-time. Their career spanned a combined total of 15 years. They originally split up in 1988, but reformed in 1991, and disbanded for good in 1995 when Mark Knopfler launched his career full-time as a solo artist. There were several changes in personnel over both periods, leaving Mark Knopfler and John Illsley as the only two original bandmates who had remained throughout the band’s career.

Sultans of Swing

“Sultans of Swing” is a song by the British rock band Dire Straits from their eponymous debut album, which band frontman Mark Knopfler wrote and composed. Although it was first released in 1978, it was its 1979 re-release that caused it to become a hit in both the UK and U.S.

The song was first recorded as a demo at Pathway Studios, North London, in July 1977 and quickly acquired a following after it was put on rotation at Radio London. Its popularity soon reached record executives, and Dire Straits were offered a contract with Phonogram Records. The song was then re-recorded in February 1978 at Basing Street Studios for the band’s debut album.The record company wanted a less-polished rock sound for the radio, so an alternative version was recorded at Pathway Studios in April 1978 and released as the single in some countries including the United Kingdom and Germany.

The music for “Sultans of Swing” was composed by Mark Knopfler on a National Steel guitar in an open tuning, though Knopfler did not think very highly of it at first. As he remembered, “I thought it was dull, but as soon as I bought my first Strat in 1977, the whole thing changed, though the lyrics remained the same. It just came alive as soon as I played it on that ’61 Strat which remained my main guitar for many years and was basically the only thing I played on the first album and the new chord changes just presented themselves and fell into place.”

Inspiration for the song came from witnessing a jazz band playing in the corner of a practically deserted pub in Deptford, South London. At the end of their performance, the lead singer announced that they were the “Sultans of Swing”, and Knopfler found the contrast between the group’s dowdy appearance and surroundings and their grandiose name amusing.

Columbia recording artist Bill Wilson allegedly made an unsubstantiated claim to many of the lyrics to the song while he and Knopfler were both studio musicians working a session in Nashville. His claim was dismissed as being highly improbable, since Knopfler had not first visited Nashville till long after the song was released.

According to the sheet music published at by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the song is set in the time signature of common time, with a tempo of 146 beats per minute. It is composed in the key of D harmonic minor with Knopfler’s vocal range spanning from G3 to D5. The song has a basic sequence of Dm–C–B–A as its chord progression for the verses, and F–C–Bfor the choruses. The song’s riff makes use of triads, particularly second inversions. The song is in the andalusian cadence or diatonic phrygian tetrachord.  Knopfler would later use similar triads on “Lady Writer”.

Critical reception to the track was universally positive. Ken Tucker of Rolling Stone singled out “Sultans of Swing” as a highlight of the album for its “inescapable hook” and compared Knopfler’s vocal stylings to that of Bob Dylan.  The New Rolling Stone Album Guide called the song “an insinuating bit of bar-band mythmaking” whose lyrics “paint a vivid picture of an overlooked and underappreciated pub combo”. The Spokane Chronicle‘s Jim Kershner wrote that “Sultans of Swing” is “remarkable, both for its lyrics that made fun of hip young Londoners and the phenomenal guitar sound of Knopfler”, which “sounded like no other guitar on radio”. Jon Marlowe of The Palm Beach Post called it “an infectious, sounds-damn-good-on-the-car-radio ode to every bar band who has ever done four sets a night, seven nights a week”. Georgiy Starostin praised the “breathtaking arpeggios on the fade-out”.

Writing in 2013 on the impact of the song, Rick Moore of American Songwriter reflected:

With “Sultans of Swing” a breath of fresh air was exhaled into the airwaves in the late ’70s. Sure, Donald Fagen and Tom Waitswere writing great lyrics about characters you’d love to meet and Jeff Beck and Eddie Van Halen were great guitar players. But Knopfler, he could do both things as well or better than anybody out there in his own way, and didn’t seem to have any obvious rock influences unless you try to include Dylan. Like his contemporary and future duet partner Sting, Knopfler’s ideas were intellectually and musically stimulating, but were also accessible to the average listener. It was almost like jazz for the layman. “Sultans of Swing” was a lesson in prosody and tasty guitar playing that has seldom been equaled since. If you aren’t familiar with “Sultans of Swing” or haven’t listened to it in a while, you should definitely check it out.

Record Mirror ranked the song tenth in its end-of-year countdown of the best songs of the year. In 1992, Life named “Sultans of Swing” one of the top five songs of 1979. In 1993, Paul Williams included “Sultans of Swing” in his book “Rock and Roll: The 100 Best Singles”. The song is on The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list, Dire Straits’ only appearance. In 2006, Mojo included “Sultans of Swing” in its list of the 50 best British songs. The song’s guitar solo reached #22 on Guitar World‍ ’​s list of the greatest guitar solos and #32 on Rolling Stone‍ ’​s list of greatest guitar songs.

Sultans of Swing – Knopfler

You get a shiver in the dark
It’s raining in the park but meantime
South of the river you stop and you hold everything
A band is blowin’ Dixie double four time
You feel alright when you hear that music ring

And now you step inside but you don’t see too many faces
Comin’ in out of the rain you hear the jazz go down
Competition in other places
Oh but the horns they blowin’ that sound
Way on down south, way on down south London town

You check out Guitar George, he knows all the chords
Mind he’s strictly rhythm he doesn’t wanna make it cry or sing
Yes and an old guitar is all he can afford
When he gets up under the lights to play his thing

And Harry doesn’t mind if he doesn’t make the scene
He’s got a daytime job, he’s doin’ alright
He can play the honky tonk like anything
Savin’ it up for Friday night
With the Sultans… with the Sultans of Swing

And a crowd of young boys they’re fooling around in the corner
Drunk and dressed in their best brown baggies and their platform soles
They don’t give a damn about any trumpet playing band
It ain’t what they call rock and roll
And the Sultans… yeah the Sultans play Creole

And then the man he steps right up to the microphone
And says at last just as the time bell rings
‘Goodnight, now it’s time to go home’
And he makes it fast with one more thing
‘We are the Sultans… We are the Sultans of Swing’

  • Audio from the 1978 album, Dire Straits:


Play Sultans of Swing - by Dire Straits

Billion Dollar Babies ~ Alice Cooper

alice_cooper___cia_by_nadineballantyne-d5j0ay4Alice Cooper was an American rock band led by Vincent Furnier, who later changed his legal name to Alice Cooper. The band was famous for their elaborate, theatrical shock rock stage shows.

The band consisted of members, all from the previous 60s garage rock band, the Spiders. They created everything as a group and wrote virtually the lion’s share of what was to become the classic Alice Cooper canon.  Neal Smith’s sister Cindy Smith Dunaway (Dennis Dunaway’s wife) designed the bands costumes and also performed in the stage show (she was the “dancing tooth” during the band’s Billion Dollar Babies tour). 

The Alice Cooper band was the subject of media criticism after Furnier (Alice Cooper) threw a live chicken into the audience during the 1969 Toronto Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival Festival. The audience ripped the chicken to shreds.

The band was featured on a Warner Bros sampler album Zapped of bands produced by Frank Zappa for the label, and then went on to release several chart-topping albums and headlining major tours before breaking up in 1975.  Vincent Furnier took “Alice Cooper” as his own name and carried on with a new group of musicians.,   the original band becoming officially defunct.

Bruce, Dunaway and Smith would go on to form the short-lived band Billion Dollar Babies, producing one album – Battle Axe – in 1977. While occasionally performing with one another and Glen Buxton, they would not reunite with Alice until October 23, 1999, at the second Glen Buxton Memorial Weekend for a show at CoopersTown in Phoenix (Buxton having died in 1997). They reunited for another show, with Steve Hunter on guitar, on December 16, 2010, at the Dodge Theatre in Phoenix.  This lineup would perform together again (televised) on March 14, 2011, at the induction of the original Alice Cooper group into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as on May 11, 2011, at London’s Battersea Power Station at the Jagermiester Ice Cold 4D event (webcast). Bruce, Dunaway and Smith appeared on three tracks they co-wrote on Alice’s 2011 album Welcome 2 My Nightmare.

A documentary about the Alice Cooper band entitled Super Duper Alice Cooper premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 17, 2014, and was scheduled to be screened at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival a week later.

On October 6, 2015, a surprise reunion show took place in Dallas at Dunaway’s book signing session where he was joined by Bruce, Smith, Cooper and Ryan Roxie, who replaced the late Glen Buxton

Billion Dollar Babies

Billion Dollar Babies” is a popular 1973 single by rock group Alice Cooper, taken from the album Billion Dollar Babies. It was released in July 1973, months after the album had been released. The track is a duet between Alice Cooper and Donovan, who provides the falsetto vocals.  BMI lists  the composers of “Billion Dollar Babies” as Alice Cooper, Michael Bruce and Reggie Vinson (a session guitarist who had worked with the Alice Cooper band previously.). Some sources list the composers as Cooper, Bruce, drummer Neal Smith, and “R. Reggie,” the latter being an allusion to Vinson’s nickname “Rockin’ Reggie Vinson.”. The chorus has the same melody asThe Hollies’ 1966 song “Tell Me to My Face.”

Billion Dollar Babies also became the name of a band which descended from the Alice Cooper band that recorded the song. The Billion Dollar Babies album was one of the last recorded by the Alice Cooper band, before singer Alice Cooper went solo. Legal complications ensued; all five Alice Cooper band members had shared ownership of the band’s name. The original band never again recorded under the name Alice Cooper, but former Alice Cooper Band members Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway, and Neal Smith, along with additions Bob Dolin, Stu Daye and Mike Marconi, recorded as Billion Dollar Babies.  The band Billion Dollar Babies only released one album, 1977’s Battle Axe, before disbanding.

Billion Dollar Babies – Cooper, Bruce, Vinson

Billion dollar baby
Rubber little lady, slicker than a weasel,
Grimy as an alley
Loves me like no other lover.

Billion dollar baby
Rotten little monster, baby, I adore you.
Man or woman living couldn’t love me like you, baby.

We go dancing nightly in the attic
While the moon is rising in the sky.
If I’m too rough, tell me,
I’m so scared your little head will come off in my hands.

Yeah, billion dollar baby
I got you in the dimestore,
No other little girl could ever hold you
Any tighter, any tighter than me, baby.
Billion dollar baby
Reckless like a gambler, million dollar maybe
Foamin’ like dog that’s been infected by the rabies.

We go dancing nightly in the attic
While the moon is rising in the sky.
If I’m too rough, tell me,
I’m so scared your little head will come off in my hands.

Million dollar baby,
Billion dollar baby,
Trillion dollar baby,
Zillion dollar baby.

  • Audio from the 1973 album, Billion Dollar Babies:


Play Billion Dollar Babies - by Alice Cooper

Clint Eastwood ~ Gorillaz

GorillazGorillaz are an English virtual band created in 1998 by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett. The band consists of four animated members: 2D (lead vocals, keyboard), Murdoc Niccals (bass guitar), Noodle (guitar, keyboard, and backing vocals) and Russel Hobbs (drums and percussion). These members are completely fictional and are not personas of any “real life” musicians involved in the project.  Their fictional universe is explored through the band’s website and music videos, as well as a number of other media, such as short cartoons. The music is a collaboration between various musicians, with Albarn being the only permanent musical contributor. Writers and critics have described their music as alternative rock,  Britpop,  trip hop,  hip hop,  electronica, indie,dub, reggae and pop.

The band’s 2001 debut album Gorillaz sold over seven million copies and earned them an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the Most Successful Virtual Band.  It was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2001, but the nomination was later withdrawn at the band’s request.  Their second studio album, Demon Days, released in 2005, went five times platinum in the UK,  double platinum in the US, earned five Grammy Award nominations for 2006  and won one of them in the Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals category.  The band has won numerous other awards, including two MTV Video Music Awards, an NME Award, three MTV Europe Music Awards, and have been nominated for nine Brit Awards. The combined sales of the Gorillaz and Demon Days albums had exceeded 15 million by 2007.  The band’s third studio album, Plastic Beach, was released in March 2010. Their latest album, The Fall, was released in December 2010 as a free download for fan club members, then in April 2011 as a physical release. Gorillaz plan to release new material in 2016.

Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood” is a song by British virtual band Gorillaz, released as the first single from their self-titled debut album in March 2001. The song is named after the actor of the same name due to its similarity to the theme music of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The song is a mix of electronic music, dub, hip hop and rock. The verses are rapped by Del the Funky Homosapien, portrayed as a blue phantom in the video, while the chorus is sung by 2D (voiced by Damon Albarn). It peaked at number four on the UK Singles Chart and number 57 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The single has sold 480,000 copies in the UK according to the Official Charts Company. Rolling Stone ranked it number 38 on its 100 best songs of the 2000s.  In October 2011, NME placed it at number 141 on its list “150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years”.  The magazine also ranked it at number 347 on their list of “The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time”.

Demo versions of “Clint Eastwood” were originally recorded by Damon Albarn on a four-track using a drum machine and guitar. A re-recording similar to these demos were recorded into Logic for use as a backing track. The strings featured in the song are from a string machine, the Solina String Ensemble. According to engineer, Jason Cox, “Damon gave us the OK to set fire to it on stage, but we said ‘No, you can’t set fire to that! It’s a classic!'”, and it ended up being used on the song as well as some other tracks on the album.  The drums are provided by a drum machine and the main instrument used in the song is the melodica, which Albarn used to make the basic track as well.

Clint Eastwood – Albarn

I ain’t happy, I’m feeling glad
I got sunshine, in a bag
I’m useless,but not for long
The future is coming on
I ain’t happy, I’m feeling glad
I got sunshine, in a bag
I’m useless, but not for long
The future is coming on
It’s coming on
It’s coming on
It’s coming on

Yeah… Ha Ha!
Finally someone let me out of my cage
Now, time for me is nothing cos I’m counting no age
Now I couldn’t be there
Now you shouldn’t be scared
I’m good at repairs
And I’m under each snare
Bet you didn’t think so I command you to
Panoramic view
Look I’ll make it all manageable
Pick and choose
Sit and lose
All you different crews
Chicks and dudes
Who you think is really kickin’ tunes?
Picture you gettin’ down in a picture tube
Like you lit the fuse
You think it’s fictional
Mystical? Maybe
What appears in you is a clearer view cos you’re too crazy
To know the definition for what life is
For you because I put you on the hype shit
You like it?
Gunsmokin’ righteous with one token
Psychic among those
Possess you with one go

I ain’t happy, I’m feeling glad
I got sunshine, in a bag
I’m useless,but not for long
The future is coming on
I ain’t happy, I’m feeling glad
I got sunshine, in a bag
I’m useless, but not for long
The future is coming on
It’s coming on
It’s coming on
It’s coming on

The essence the basics
Without it you make it
Allow me to make this
Child, like in nature
You have it or you don’t that’s a fallacy
I’m in them
Every sprouting tree
Every child apiece
Every cloud you see
You see with your eyes
I see destruction and demise
Corruption in disguise
>From this fuckin’ enterprise
Now I’m sucking to your lies
Through Russ, though not his muscles but the percussion he provides
with me as a guide
But y’all can see me now cos you don’t see with your eye
You perceive with your mind
That’s the inner
So I’m gonna stick around with Russ and be a mentor
With a few rhymes so mother fuckers
Remember where the thought is
I brought all this
So you can survive when law is lawless
Feelings, sensations that you thought were dead
No squealing, remember
(that it’s all in your head)

I ain’t happy, I’m feeling glad
I got sunshine, in a bag
I’m useless, but not for long
The future is coming on
I ain’t happy, I’m feeling glad
I got sunshine, in a bag
I’m useless, but not for long
My future is coming on
It’s coming on
It’s coming on
It’s coming on
It’s coming on
My future is coming on
It’s coming on
It’s coming on
It’s coming on
It’s coming on
My future is coming on
It’s coming on
It’s coming on
It’s coming on
It’s coming on
My future is coming on
It’s coming on
It’s coming on
My future is coming on
It’s coming on
It’s coming on
My future is coming on
It’s coming on
It’s coming on
My future is coming on….

  • Audio from the 2001 album, Gorillaz:


Play Clint Eastwood - by Gorillaz

One of Us ~ Joan Osborne

joan-osborneJoan Osborne is an American singer-songwriter. She is best known for her song “One of Us”.  She has toured with Motown sidemen the Funk Brothers and was featured in the documentary film about them, Standing in the Shadows of Motown.

Originally from Anchorage, Kentucky, a suburb of Louisville, Osborne moved to New York City in the late 1980s, where she formed her own record label, Womanly Hips, to release a few independent recordings. She signed with Mercury Records, and released her first full length album, Soul Show: Live at Delta 88, in 1991. Her second (and first major label) album was Relish (1995), which became a hit on the strength of the single “One of Us”. Apart from this song, the rest of the album was steeped in country, blues and folk music. “Right Hand Man” and “St. Teresa” became minor hits following the success of “One of Us”.

In 2001, Osborne appeared on Austin City Limits, singing material mainly from Righteous Love. In a brief interview segment at the end of the episode, Osborne reflects on her gladness to have gotten out of the limelight of her mid-90’s stardom.

She was featured in the 2002 documentary film, Standing in the Shadows of Motown, and toured with Motown sidemen the Funk Brothers. She and her band accompanied the Dixie Chicks for a national tour in the summer of 2003, during which time she also joined veteran San Francisco jam-rockers The Dead as a vocalist, and released her fourth album, titled How Sweet It Is, a collection of classic rock and soul covers.

During 2005 and 2006, Osborne performed on numerous occasions with Phil Lesh and Friends. In February 2007, she appeared on the Grand Ole Opry.

In May 2007, she issued Breakfast in Bed, a return to the soul music that she had covered on How Sweet It Is. Breakfast in Bed also featured the two songs (“Heatwave” and “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”) that she had covered for the film Standing in the Shadows of Motown.

She sang lead vocals on the cover of “Spoonful” on Vivian Campbell’s solo album Two Sides Of If. She also provided some vocals for “Wayfaring Stranger” on Spearhead’s 1997 album Chocolate Supa Highway. She covered Dolly Parton’s “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” on the 2003 tribute album Just Because I’m a Woman: Songs of Dolly Parton. She is featured on the Holmes Brothers 2007 collection State of Grace performing “Those Memories of You”, an old Allan O’Bryant and Bill Monroe bluegrass tune.

Osborne’s latest album, Little Wild One, was released in September 2008. Osborne performs as a guest vocalist on Sgt. Pepper Live, the 2009 album and DVD by Cheap Trick.

Recently her song “One of Us” was performed by the cast of Glee in the episode “Grilled Cheesus”.

She performed with The Waybacks at Merlefest, 2011, during the Hillside Album hour, featuring The Allman Brothers’ Eat a Peach.

Osborne is currently a member of Trigger Hippy, along with Steve Gorman, Audley Freed, Jackie Greene, and Nick Govrik.

One of Us

One of Us” is a song written by Eric Bazilian (of The Hooters) and originally released by Joan Osborne. Released in March 1995 on the album Relish and produced by Rick Chertoff, it became a Top 40 hit in November of that year. The song is the theme song for the American television series Joan of Arcadia. The song was nominated for three Grammys and peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100, but Osborne was unable to repeat the success and is considered a one-hit wonder.

In an interview, Bazilian said, “I wrote [‘One of Us’] one night — the quickest song I ever wrote — to impress a girl. Which worked, because we’re married and have two kids. But we were in the middle of writing Joan’s album, which was a group effort with Rick Chertoff and Joan and Rob and I, and I did a demo of ‘One of Us,’ this wacky little demo which I ended up putting as a hidden track on the CD of my first solo record, and I played [it] for them. And it really hadn’t even occurred to me that it was something that Joan might do, but Rick, in his wisdom, asked Joan if she thought she could sing it. And I think it was better that he asked it that way rather than ‘Do you want to sing it?’ Because the answer to that might not have been yes. But she definitely said she could sing it, and we did a little live demo of a guitar and her singing it. And when I got into my car and popped the cassette in, I started practicing the Grammy speech that I should’ve gotten to give.”[

The song deals with various aspects of belief in God by asking questions inviting the listener to consider how they might relate to God, such as “Would you call [God’s name] to his face?” or “Would you want to see [God’s face] if seeing meant that you would have to believe in things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints and all the prophets?” The title of the song comes from religious statement, “What if God was one of us?”

The album version starts off with the first four lines of a recording titled “The Aeroplane Ride”, made on October 27, 1937 by American folklorist Alan Lomax and his wife Elizabeth for the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress, of Mrs. Nell Hampton of Salyersville, Kentucky singing a variation of the 1928 John S. McConnell hymn “Heavenly Aeroplane”

One of Us – Bazilian

If God had a name what would it be?
And would you call it to his face?
If you were faced with him
In all his glory
What would you ask if you had just one question?

*And yeah, yeah, God is great
Yeah, yeah, God is good
Yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah-yeah

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home

If God had a face what would it look like?
And would you want to see
If seeing meant that
you would have to believe
in things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints
and all the prophets (*)

Trying to make his way home
Back up to heaven all alone
Nobody calling on the phone
‘cept for the Pope maybe in Rome(*)

Just trying to make his way home
Like a holy rolling stone
Back up to heaven all alone
Just trying to make his way home
Nobody calling on the phone
‘cept for the Pope maybe in Rome

  • Audio from the 1995 album, Relish:


Play One of Us - by Joan Osborne

Black ~ Pearl Jam

pearl-jamPearl Jam is an American rock band, formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1990. Since its inception, the band’s line-up has comprised Eddie Vedder (lead vocals), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar) and Jeff Ament (bass). The band’s fifth member is drummer Matt Cameron (also of Soundgarden), who has been with the band since 1998. Boom Gaspar (piano) has also been a session/touring member with the band since 2002. Drummers Dave Krusen, Matt Chamberlain, Dave Abbruzzese and Jack Irons are former members of the band.

Formed after the demise of Gossard and Ament’s previous band, Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam broke into the mainstream with its debut album, Ten, in 1991. One of the key bands in the grunge movement of the early 1990s, over the course of the band’s career, its members became noted for their refusal to adhere to traditional music industry practices, including refusing to make proper music videos or give interviews, and engaging in a much-publicized boycott of Ticketmaster. In 2006, Rolling Stone described the band as having “spent much of the past decade deliberately tearing apart their own fame.”

To date, the band has sold nearly 32 million records in the U.S. and an estimated 60 million worldwide.  Pearl Jam has outlasted and outsold many of its contemporaries from the alternative rock breakthrough of the early 1990s, and is considered one of the most influential bands of that decade.  Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic referred to Pearl Jam as “the most popular American rock & roll band of the ’90s.”

Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament were members of pioneering grunge band Green River during the mid-1980s. Green River toured and recorded to moderate success but disbanded in 1987 due to a stylistic division between the pair and bandmates Mark Arm and Steve Turner.  In late 1987, Gossard and Ament began playing with Malfunkshun vocalist Andrew Wood, eventually organizing the band Mother Love Bone. In 1988 and 1989, the band recorded and toured to increasing interest and found the support of the PolyGram record label, which signed the band in early 1989. Mother Love Bone’s debut album, Apple, was released in July 1990, four months after Wood died of a heroin overdose.  

Ament and Gossard were devastated by the death of Wood and the resulting demise of Mother Love Bone. Gossard spent his time afterwards writing material that was harder-edged than what he had been doing previously.  After a few months, Gossard started practicing with fellow Seattle guitarist Mike McCready, whose band, Shadow, had broken up; McCready in turn encouraged Gossard to reconnect with Ament.  After practicing for a while, the trio sent out a five-song demo tape in order to find a singer and a drummer. They gave former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons the demo to see if he would be interested in joining the band and to distribute the demo to anyone he felt might fit the lead vocal position. 

Irons passed on the invitation but gave the demo to his basketball buddy, San Diego, California singer Eddie Vedder.  Vedder was the lead vocalist for a San Diego band, Bad Radio, and worked part-time at a gas station. He listened to the tape shortly before going surfing, where lyrics came to him.  He then recorded the vocals to three of the songs (“Alive”, “Once”, and “Footsteps”) in what he later described as a “mini-opera” entitled Momma-Son.  Vedder sent the tape with his vocals back to the three Seattle musicians, who were impressed enough to fly Vedder up to Seattle for an audition. Within a week, Vedder had joined the band. 

With the addition of Dave Krusen on drums, the band took the name Mookie Blaylock, in reference to the then-active All-Star basketball player. The band played its first official show at the Off Ramp Café in Seattle on October 22, 1990.  and soon signed to Epic Records and renamed themselves Pearl Jam.  In an early promotional interview, Vedder said that the name “Pearl Jam” was a reference to his great-grandmother Pearl, who was married to a Native American and had a special recipe for peyote-laced jam.  In a 2006 Rolling Stone cover story however, Vedder admitted that this story was “total bullshit”, even though he indeed had a great-grandma named Pearl. Ament and McCready explained that Ament came up with “pearl”, and that the band later settled on “Pearl Jam” after attending a concert by Neil Young, in which he extended his songs as improvisations of 15–20 minutes in length.

Pearl Jam entered Seattle’s London Bridge Studios in March 1991 to record its debut album, Ten.  McCready said that “Ten was mostly Stone and Jeff; me and Eddie were along for the ride at that time.”  Krusen left the band in May 1991 after checking himself into rehabilitation;  he was replaced by Matt Chamberlain, who had previously played with Edie Brickell & New Bohemians. After playing only a handful of shows, one of which was filmed for the “Alive” video, Chamberlain left to join the Saturday Night Live band.  Chamberlain suggested Dave Abbruzzese as his replacement. Abbruzzese joined the group and played the rest of Pearl Jam’s live shows supporting Ten.

Released on August 27, 1991, Ten (named after Mookie Blaylock’s jersey number)  contained eleven tracks dealing with dark subjects like depression, suicide, loneliness, and murder. Ten‘s musical style, influenced by classic rock, combined an “expansive harmonic vocabulary” with an anthemic sound.  The album was slow to sell, but by the second half of 1992 it became a breakthrough success, being certified gold and reaching number two on the Billboardcharts.  Ten produced the hit singles “Alive”, “Even Flow”, and “Jeremy”. Originally interpreted as an anthem by many,  Vedder later revealed that “Alive” tells the semi-biographical tale of a son discovering that his father is actually his stepfather, while his mother’s grief turns her to sexually embrace her son, who strongly resembles the biological father.  The song “Jeremy”  and its accompanying video were inspired by a true story in which a high school student shot himself in front of his classmates. Ten stayed on the Billboard charts for nearly five years, and has gone on to become one of the highest-selling rock records ever, going 13x platinum.

With the success of Ten, Pearl Jam became a key member of the Seattle grunge explosion, along with Alice in Chains, Nirvana, and Soundgarden. The band was criticized in the music press; British music magazine NME said that Pearl Jam was “trying to steal money from young alternative kids’ pockets.” Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain angrily attacked Pearl Jam, claiming the band were commercial sellouts,  and argued Ten was not a true alternative album because it had so many prominent guitar leads.  Cobain later reconciled with Vedder, and they reportedly were on amicable terms before Cobain’s death in 1994.

Pearl Jam toured relentlessly in support of Ten. Ament stated that “essentially Ten was just an excuse to tour,” adding, “We told the record company, ‘We know we can be a great band, so let’s just get the opportunity to get out and play.'” The band’s manager, Kelly Curtis, stated, “Once people came and saw them live, this lightbulb would go on. Doing their first tour, you kind of knew it was happening and there was no stopping it.”   Early on in Pearl Jam’s career, the band became known for its intense live performances. Looking back at this time, Vedder said that “playing music and then getting a shot at making a record and at having an audience and stuff, it’s just like an untamed force…But it didn’t come from jock mentality. It came from just being let out of the gates.”  In 1992, Pearl Jam made television appearances on Saturday Night Live and MTV Unplugged and took a slot on that summer’s Lollapalooza tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, and Ministry, among others. The band contributed two songs to the soundtrack of the 1992 Cameron Crowe film Singles: “State of Love and Trust” and “Breath”. Ament, Gossard and Vedder appeared in Singles under the name “Citizen Dick”; their parts were filmed when Pearl Jam was known as Mookie Blaylock.


Black” is a song by the American rock band Pearl Jam. The song is the fifth track on the band’s debut album, Ten (1991). Featuring lyrics written by vocalist Eddie Vedder and music written by guitarist Stone Gossard, “Black” is a soliloquy by a broken-hearted man, who is remembering his absent lover.

After Ten became a commercial success in 1992, Pearl Jam’s record label Epic Records urged the group to release the song as a single. The band refused, citing the song’s personal nature. Despite the lack of a commercial single release, the song managed to reach number three on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Remixed versions of the song were included on Pearl Jam’s 2004 greatest hits album, Rearviewmirror, and the 2009 Ten reissue.

The song originated as an instrumental demo under the name “E Ballad” that was written by guitarist Stone Gossard in 1990. It was one of five songs compiled onto a tape called Stone Gossard Demos ’91 that was circulated in the hopes of finding a singer and drummer for Pearl Jam. The tape made its way into the hands of vocalist Eddie Vedder, who was working as a San Diego gas station attendant at the time. Vedder recorded vocals for three of the songs on the demo tape (“Alive”, “Once”, and “Footsteps”), and mailed the tape back to Seattle. Upon hearing the tape, the band invited Vedder to come to Seattle. On his way to Seattle, Vedder wrote lyrics for “E Ballad”, which he called “Black”.

Guitarist Mike McCready on the song’s lead guitar work:

“That’s more of a Stevie [Ray Vaughan] rip-off, with me playing little flowing things. I was way into that trip—I still am, actually, but it was probably more obvious back then. I really thought the song was beautiful. Stone wrote it and he just let me do what I wanted.”

Vocalist Eddie Vedder on the song’s lyrics:

Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder had been a fan of American Music Club for years. Pearl Jam’s song ‘Black’, [Melody Maker’s Allan] Jones maintains, “couldn’t have been written without AMC’s songs as an example. ‘Black’ doesn’t quote directly from ‘Western Sky,’ but it paraphrases the line ‘Please be happy baby’ where Vedder sings in a very Eitzel way, ‘I hope someday you’ll have a beautiful life’.” Vedder confirmed Jones’ interpretation when they first met. ” Oh yes, nobody ever picked up on that, ” the singer told him. “It is American Music Club, but I’m surprised that anyone here has even heard of them.”

“Black” became one of Pearl Jam’s best known songs and is a central emotional piece on the album Ten. Despite pressure from Epic Records, the band refused to make it into a single, feeling that it was too personal and the feeling of it would be lost by a video or a single release. Vedder stated that “fragile songs get crushed by the business. I don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t think the band wants to be part of it.”  Vedder personally called radio station managers to make sure Epic had not released the song as a single against his wishes. In spite of this, the song charted at number three on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number 20 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart in 1993. The popularity of “Black” gained it everlasting rotation, putting it amongst Pearl Jam’s most enduring songs.

Stephen M. Deusner of Pitchfork Media said, “On songs like…’Black,’ with strangely dramatic vocalizations, there’s a hardscrabble dynamic that the band would be unable to capture on subsequent releases.”

In March 2009, “Black” was made available as downloadable content for the Rock Band series as a master track as part of the album Ten.  The song was featured in the Cold Case episode “Into the Blue” in 2009.

In May 2011, “Black” was voted the 9th best Ballad of all time by readers of Rolling Stone magazine.

Black – Vedder, Gossard

Hey… oooh…

Sheets of empty canvas, untouched sheets of clay
Were laid spread out before me as her body once did.
All five horizons revolved around her soul as the earth to the sun
Now the air I tasted and breathed has taken a turn

Ooh, and all I taught her was everything
Ooh, I know she gave me all that she wore

And now my bitter hands chafe beneath the clouds of what was everything.
Oh, the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything…

I take a walk outside, I’m surrounded by some kids at play
I can feel their laughter, so why do I sear?
Oh, and twisted thoughts that spin round my head, I’m spinning, oh,
I’m spinning, how quick the sun can drop away

And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass of what was everything
All the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything…

All the love gone bad turned my world to black
Tattooed all I see, all that I am, all I’ll be… yeah…

Uh huh… uh huh… ooh…

I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life,
I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s sky,
But why, why, why can’t it be, can’t it be mine?

Aah… uuh..

Too doo doo too, too doo doo [many times until fade]

  • Audio from the 1991 album, Ten:


Play Black - by Pearl Jam

Buy Me A Boat ~ Chris Janson

Chris JansonChris Janson  is an American country music singer and songwriter. He has written singles for Justin Moore and Tim McGraw among others, and has released two extended plays: one for Bigger Picture Music Group and one for Columbia Records. Janson has also charted four times on Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay, including the top 5 “Buy Me a Boat” in mid-2015, which also reached No. 1 on Mediabase.

In June 2009, Janson co-wrote and recorded two duets with Holly Williams on her album Here with Me: “I Hold On” and “A Love I Think Will Last”. Janson signed to BNA Records in October 2009 and released his debut single, “‘Til a Woman Comes Along,” in April 2010. Matt Bjorke of Roughstock gave the single a five-star rating, with his review praising Janson’s vocals as well as the arrangement. The song debuted at No. 56 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts dated for the week ending May 1, 2010.

After BNA was re-structured, Janson left the label. He co-wrote Tim McGraw’s 2012 single “Truck Yeah”, played harmonica on Lee Brice’s album Hard 2 Love, and wrote the title track to Justin Moore’s 2013 album Off the Beaten Path. Janson has also had additional songs recorded by Hank Williams, Jr., Tim McGraw, Randy Houser,Joe Nichols, Parmalee, Frankie Ballard, Tyler Farr, Jerrod Niemann, Craig Campbell, JB and the Moonshine Band, and LoCash.

In 2013, he signed to Bigger Picture Music Group and released “Better I Don’t.”Janson wrote the song with his wife, Kelly, and Pat Bunch,and Keith Stegall produced it “Better I Don’t” peaked at number 40 on Country Airplay in mid 2013. A second single, “Cut Me Some Slack”, peaked at number 60 before Bigger Picture closed in 2014. That same year, Columbia Records released Take It to the Bank, which included “Til a Woman Comes Along” and other songs that he had recorded while on BNA.

Janson self-released the single “Buy Me a Boat” in early 2015. The song debuted at No. 33 on Hot Country Songs after it received airplay on the Bobby Bones Show.It was officially released as a single via Warner Bros. Records Nashville in May 2015, and became Janson’s first top 5 hit by August. In September, Janson announced that his debut studio album, also titled Buy Me a Boat, would be released on October 30.”Buy Me a Boat” peaked at No. 3 on Country Airplay and No. 1 on Mediabase. The album’s second single is “Power of Positive Drinkin'”. Also in 2015, Janson co-wrote LoCash’s “I Love This Life”.

Buy Me A Boat

“Buy Me a Boat” is a song by American country music singer Chris Janson. It is Janson’s fourth single release overall, and also is the lead single to his debut album for Warner Bros. Records Nashville. Janson co-wrote the song with Chris DuBois.

The song has a male narrator expressing the fact that “money can’t buy happiness / but it can buy [him] a boat” and other recreational items.

On writing the song, Janson told Billboard that “I didn’t pull any influence from anywhere except the stuff that I loved. The song came so quick and it felt so right and easy and we did it. I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t know what a hit is. There was a special feeling and the song had that something, whatever that is… but we didn’t want to jinx it. It wasn’t a big plan where we were scheming behind the scenes. This is real.”

Janson’s previous label, Bigger Picture Music Group, closed in May 2014. After its closure, he self-released “Buy Me a Boat” to iTunes on March 20, 2015. The song gained attention after it received a few radio airplay on the Bobby Bones Show the day of its release, sending the song to the top of iTunes country chart. The song also received a boost from Toby Keith who tweeted his support to his fans.  On the strength of its performance, Janson became signed to Warner Bros. Records Nashville, and the song was re-released as a single. The single was selected by iHeartMedia for their “On The Verge” program that showcased new artists, giving the song airplay on 140 country radio stations for six weeks, starting  May 4, 2015.

Buy Me A Boat – Janson, DuBois

I ain’t rich, but I damn sure wanna be
Working like a dog all day, ain’t working for me
I wish I had a rich uncle that’d kick the bucket
And that I was sitting on a pile like Warren Buffett
I know everybody says
Money can’t buy happiness

But it could buy me a boat, it could buy me a truck to pull it
It could buy me a Yeti 110 iced down with some silver bullets
Yeah, and I know what they say,
Money can’t buy everything
Well, maybe so,
But it could buy me a boat

They call me redneck, white trash and blue collar
But I could change all that if I had a couple million dollars
I keep hearing that money is the root of all evil
And you can’t fit a camel through the eye of a needle
I’m sure that’s probably true,
But it still sounds pretty cool

‘Cause it could buy me a boat, it could buy me a truck to pull it
It could buy me a Yeti 110 iced down with some silver bullets
Yeah, and I know what they say,
Money can’t buy everything
Well, maybe so,
But it could buy me a boat

To float down on the water with a beer…
I hear the Powerball Lotto is a-sitting’ on a hundred mill…
Well, that would buy me a brand new rod and reel…

And it could buy me a boat, it could buy me a truck to pull it
It could buy me a Yeti 110 iced down with some Silver Bullets
Yeah, and I know what they say,
Money can’t buy everything
Well, maybe so,
But it could buy me a boat

Yeah, and I know what they say,
Money can’t buy everything
Well, maybe so,
But it could buy me a boat
It could buy me a boat.

  • Audio from the 2015 album, Buy Me A Boat:


Play Buy Me A Boat - by Chris Janson

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