Posts Tagged ‘Steve Forbert’

Steve Forbert has been a favorite of mine since his first album back in 1978. He’s just one of those guys that writes music that speaks to me, ya know? He never really hit it big and had only had one real hit, Romeo’s Tune. Still, he’s been churning out albums and touring for nearly 40-years.

It’s really hard to describe his style, so I’m not even going to try. I will say that Steve Forbert is a true poet, and an absolute master storyteller and lyricist. And perhaps the most unique thing about Steve Forbert is his voice. Listen to it, man. If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’. I’ve been lucky enough to see him live a few times and even met him once. Highly recommended.

Factoid: Steve Forbert had a cameo appearance in Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” video, playing her boyfriend.

After beginning with about 70-songs I have meticulously narrowed it down to my Top 10. Let us commence . . .

10. Hope, Faith & Love (1988)

Just an optimistic song about three things we all need.

I need hope to look for the good through the bad
I need faith to know I ain’t lost what I had
When they’ve lied and cheated me
And tear what I care for in two
Oh, I need love, to rise up above and renew.

9. Goin’ Down to Laurel (1978)

A beautifully simple song about going to see a girl.

Well I’m goin’ down to Laurel
It’s a dirty stinkin’ town yeah
But me I know exactly what I’m going to find
Little girl I’m goin’ to see
She is a fool for lovin’ me
But she’s in love and love’s a funny state of mind.

8. Prisoner of Stardom (1982)

A song about a young woman from Ohio who, although she’s hit the big time, finds it’s not all it was cracked up to be.

She’s a prisoner of smiling
It’s expected night and day
Its a burden on her everywhere she goes
Still she’s looking for some magic
Like those teenage magazines
That she read in ’65 in Ohio.

7. Lonely Girl (1980)

Just an absolutely gorgeous song about a sad and lonely girl.

All the guys who dance for you, they’re so unsatisfied

Their hungry hands come reachin’ out, to get your bows untied

And I come ’round to sing to you, starvin’ just like them

As I talk with you and long for you, and sing my midnight hymns

To a lonely girl.

6. He’s Gotta Live Up to His Shoes (1981)

A great song about a guy who’s a big talker, but now he has to back up his big mouth.

So let him walk
Let him walk real proud
And let him talk
Let him talk real loud
And let him do
Anything he choses to
He’s gotta live up to his shoes.

5. Laughter Lou (Who Needs You?) (1980)

Rolling in at #5 is a song that rips some dude to shreds. Everyone has a Laughter Lou in their life, believe me.

You criticize most everything, hey but what have you ever done?

You’re always putting something down or laughin’ at someone.

Can’t never tell what’s somethings like ’til you’ve been there yourself

You’ve spent your whole life sitting down, just watching some else.

You criticize most everyone, but what have you got to show?

At least the ones you’re putting down, got up to have a go.

Tell me Laughter Lou, who needs you?

4. Romeo’s Tune (1978)

Ah, Steve’s biggest hit. It’s been covered by Keith Urban, among others. Just a catchy, pretty, uptempo song with, as always, amazing lyrics. Fantastic piano as well.

Oh, Gods and years will rise and fall
And there’s always something more
It’s lost in talk, I waste my time
And it’s all been said before
While further down behind the masquerade the tears are there
I don’t ask for all that much I just want someone to care.

3. Say Goodbye to Little Jo (1979)

I love this song about a man defending a woman from a guy she wants nothing to do with anymore. In this song some man is completely eviscerated by Steve.

You’ve shown so much of your hate
She’s seen so much of your greed
She’s taken shit for so long, yes, yes
You ain’t got nothin she needs
You don’t deserve her no how
Go fading back into fate
Go sit ya down where ya were
Don’t grab and beg, it’s too late.

2. Search Your Heart (1988)

A beautiful ballad of encouragement that tells us to never, ever give up.

The world is too much with you all of the time
You got no space for grace inside of your mind
Some things can’t be conquered
So your thoughts all say
But if you search your heart
You’ll find a way.

1. Settle Down (1978)

Ever hear a song that just speaks to you? It’s almost as if you could have written it about yourself? This is once such song for me. One of my favorite songs of all-time.

Well, I hear you when you whisper
And I’ve seen your nervous eyes
I’ve known your fear and held your doubtful hand
You’re judging way too soon
You’re underestimating me
Sometimes I rock a bit but I can stand.

So won’t you settle down, settle down
Baby love, my baby love
Don’t quit your faith in me.

So yeah, Steve Forbert. Love his music. If you’ve liked what you’ve heard here’s an entire concert from ’79. Enjoy.

 

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Matthew Sweet

Matthew Sweet.

Or maybe you have. Who am I to judge? Anyway…

Over the years I have been a huge fan of several bands I felt sure would hit the big-time. Some have and some haven’t. It’s a pretty hard and fast rule that when you love an unknown band and they hit it big some of the lustre immediately wears off. I remember listening to REM back in the early 80′s, and there was something cool about knowing something other music fans didn’t. Then, after the world woke up to them, things changed. I went from watching them along with a couple hundred other fans in a Springfield, Ohio gymnasium to watching them in 20,000 seat arenas. Trust me, there’s nothing more annoying than sitting beside some idiot screaming “SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE!” Sing SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE!” when all you want to hear is some of the early stuff like “Gardening at Night” or “Pretty Persuasion.” Sidenote: REM doesn’t play that song anymore and I know not why. It’s all a part of life’s rich pageant after all.

I must admit it has given me some satisfaction over the years when a former student has come up to me and said, “I remember you playing Mudhoney and Soundgarden in class w-a-y before we knew what grunge was all about” or “How in the world did you get away with playing Frank Zappa music to a bunch of 8th graders?” Hell, I have no idea. In my mind I was just expanding musical and cultural horizons the best I could, so to speak.

But back to the point of this blog. There are still several bands/artists left that, for the life of me, I cannot figure out how they’ve missed out. For the record, I won’t include the following artists because, though not necessarily mainstream, they have achieved some sort of notable success:

  • The Eels – The Eels are so big (especially in Europe) that I don’t think E is starving or anything. It was a slow grind but I think they’re near the top of the music scene in some circles now.
  • They Might Be Giants – Although not widely known, they’ve been too commercially successful to make my list. Still love ‘em, especially live.

Now let’s get to the artists that, for one reason or another, have not found the pot at the end of the rock rainbow. Rock Rainbow. Wasn’t that a psychedelic band from the late 60′s? And what exactly would be in a pot at the end of a rock rainbow? The mind reels. But again I’m off-point. Apologies all-around.

Let us begin. Thank ya kindly in advance for clicking on the links as ya go.

  • Nerf Herder – This band was at the forefront of the Punk-Pop sound that came alive in the early to mid-90′s. Picture a cross between Blink-182 and Weezer. Better yet, think Nerf Herder = Peyton Manning, Blink 182 = Eli Manning, and Weezer = Cooper Manning (Note: I’m awesome). These guys have a clean, catchy, whimsical, hook filled sound combined with some of the most intelligently offbeat lyrics in rock music. Granted, a lot of the stuff is tongue-in-cheek and downright juvenile, but I love it. Give a listen to “New Jersey Girl” and you’ll catch the vibe. For a spot of fun, put on “Sorry“, a true punk/pop gem. Just make sure the headphones are on.
  • Teenage Fanclub – These guys from Scotland have been around since the early 1990′s and have never quite caught on, and I know not why. Their sound will remind you of The Byrds, Tom Petty, The Beach Boys, Big Star, hell, even America. They combine great guitar layered tunes, tight harmonies, and smooth vocals. They’ve been solid for almost 20-years now. Give a listen to “Sparky’s Dream” and see if I’m lyin’.
  • Fury in the Slaughterhouse – Easy there, easy. Don’t let the name fool you. These guys ain’t no punk speed metal outfit. Instead, these German badasses play straight ahead rock (with a good dollop of pop) that will leave you wanting more. Formed back in ’87, the lead singer (Kai Uwe Wingerfelder) has a strong, unique voice that brings a certain panache to any song. Listen to “Milk and Honey” to get the vibe.
  • Hoodoo Gurus – What can I say? My love for the Gurus is well documented. There’s nothing fancy about these Aussies, they’re pretty much straight-up unapologetic rockers. For a treat, download “Like Wow – Wipeout“, a Hoodoo Guru classic. Even better, check out “Death Defying“, and sing along with the chorus.
  • Matthew Sweet – When Mathew Sweet released “Girlfriend” in 1990 it was hailed by critics as a masterpiece and Sweet was annointed the NEXT BIG THING. He never quite rose above that great album, at least in the critic’s minds, although I’ve stuck with him through all the ups and downs. Listen to 1993′s “The Ugly Truth” or 1995′s “We’re the Same” for some vintage Sweet. By the way, he’s ungodly good live.
  • Carbon Leaf – Carbon Leaf is a band that I first heard down in The Outer Banks, and I’ve since fell in love with their sound. At first I thought they were some Celtic based band from Scotland or Ireland (where the hell is Celtic music based anyway?) but it turns out they hail from none other than Richmond, Virginia. Who knew? Anyway, you must listen to the music to get what I mean. Give “What About Everything?” a go and let me know what you think. Note: Lead singer Barry Privett decribes their sound as “Porch Music”.
  • The Alarm – These guys are sort of a poor man’s U2 I guess, although I’d put that the other way around (blasphemy!). They emerged as an 80′s alt group and, although they can be a tad pretentious (I told you they were U2ish) they have a great sound. A lot of their stuff is political and rock anthem oriented which is fine by me. Listen to “68 Guns” and “Spirit of ’76” to get the feel. Sidenote: Saw these guys open for Mr. Bob Dylan in 1989. Unforgettable.

There are others I could put on the list, such as:

  • Steve Forbert – In my mind this cool cat should be ranked right up there Petty and Mellencamp.
  • John Hiatt – Maybe the most underappreciated rockers of our time.
  • Todd Rundgren – Pretty well-known, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why he’s not a household name. A true genius.

So there you go. I’m sure you all have some faves that you think of in the same way.

Let’s hear ‘em.

Originally published on April 1st, 2012, and before that on my old website Rock Hard Times.