August 6, 2009

New David Gray: “Fugitive” (and win tickets to see him tomorrow!)


My love for David Gray is vast and deep, the astounding way he can turn a lyric (these, for example are some of my favorite) or birth a simple piano melody to make my heart ache. His show in 2006 at the Colorado Convention Center still remains a top one for me.

Gray has just previewed a new track from his eighth full-length studio release, Draw The Line (due out Sept 22 on Mercer Street/Downtown Records).

Listen to ‘Fugitive’

The album has eleven new songs, two of which are duets with great female vocalists: Jolie Holland (on “Kathleen”) and Annie Lennox (“Full Steam Ahead”). I especially love Jolie Holland’s voice (of the Be Good Tanyas), and in an interview with Spinner, Gray said, “I’m a huge Jolie Holland fan. She’s absolutely fantastic and there’s not many people who manage to be so natural and unselfconscious. Her voice is just so warm. It reminds me of Cat Stevens in the best possible way.” Not a bad compliment, at all.

etown-780986COLORADO READERS! Friday night’s eTown taping with David Gray (yes, that’s tomorrow) has long been sold out, but Fuel/Friends has a pair of passes to give away to the first person who emails me and tells me their favorite David Gray lyric and why.

Easy peasy, and you’re welcome. It’s gonna be a marvelous show.

For those of you who don’t win (or aren’t in Colorado) be sure to check out the list of fall tour dates elsewhere, with more to be announced in the coming weeks.

Oct 23 – Boston, MA, Wang Theatre
Oct 24 – New York, NY, WAMU Theater
Oct 26 – Toronto, Canada, Massey Hall
Oct 27 – Upper Darby, PA, Tower Theatre
Oct 29 – Chicago, IL, Chicago Auditorium Theatre
Oct 30 – Minneapolis, MN, Orpheum Theatre
Nov 1 – Denver, CO, Paramount Theatre
Nov 2 – Salt Lake City, UT, Kingsbury Hall
Nov 4 – Portland, OR, Arlene Schnizer Concert Hall
Nov 7 – Oakland, CA, Paramount Theatre
Nov 9 – Los Angeles, CA, Orpheum Theatre

June 30, 2009

These United States cover this Bob Dylan :: “To Ramona”


The marvelously raw and literate These United States recently recorded a cover for a French compilation called Dylan Mania (which also features Magnet’s version of “Lay Lady Lay,” and Antony and the Johnsons knocking on heaven’s door alongside many French bands).

Where Dylan’s original of “To Ramona” waltzed and lilted in courteous measured style, These United States keel off into the hayloft as we hasten the jamboree. The thrumming and playfully creative drumbeat (courtesy of mohawked Robby) builds and drives the song along, while Jesse’s voice earnestly cracks exactly where you hope it will. There’s also some pedal steel bringin’ the lonesome, and a particularly nice clattery-taptastic breakdown towards the end.

Ramona come closer, shut softly your watery eyes
The pangs of your sadness will pass as your senses will rise
For the flowers of the city though breathlike get deathlike sometime
And there’s no use in trying to deal with the dying
Though I cannot explain that in lines.

To Ramona (Dylan cover) – These United States

One reviewer said that TUS plays their folk “the way it was meant to be played: hard, fast, big, slow, long, loud, loose, and at last unburdened. They play it like they mean it.” Personally they describe their music as cumulonimbus wordpop for the jangly railyard dreamer — I really like that.

tus-coverTheir 3rd full-length release in 18 months Everything Touches Everything (oooh!) is out September 1st; I think last year’s excellent Crimes was underrated and overlooked.

They have more live shows than anyone you’ve ever met, so go see ‘em. They put on one of the best live shows I’ve seen in a long time; we adored them at SXSW and our Hillbilly Prom they played.

For completists, here’s the original and a cover that David Gray did on his 2007 cover album A Thousand Miles Behind. And as David says at the beginning of the recording, “I absolutely loved this one from the first time I heard it…”

Oh, me too.

To Ramona – Bob Dylan
To Ramona (Dylan cover) – David Gray

I’d forever talk to you but soon my words
would turn into a meaningless ring
for deep in my heart I know there’s no help I can bring
Everything passes, everything changes
just do what you think you should do
And someday maybe, who knows baby
I’ll come and be crying to you

[photo taken in a sweaty bar at SXSW by one Todd Roeth]

February 3, 2009

First ever Song-Off! (makes me weak in the knees)


I have a friend out in them hills o’ Utah named Dainon who is a competitive chap in the best way. One of his joys is listening to fabulous music and then hosting song-offs with various other blogger friends. The concept is simple: on the same day we both pick a song (perhaps around a common topic) and you vote which one you like best, and then I win in a haze of glory. See — easy.

Since this is the short bleak month of February, punctuated by nothing but a big hot heart in the middle, our theme for this first Song-Off is love songs, specifically those that make you weak in the knees. This song, my contribution, not only makes me weak in the knees but it also makes my heart ache, and sometimes a lump forms hard in my throat.

Tidal Wave – David Gray

This song is about that amazing, spine-tingling moment where you know you’re in deep (and probably done for) but all you can manage is half-sentences remembering. Ever since your fingertips…. All your favorite eyelashes . . . Comin over Waterloo, dreaming of your hands. It is a tidal wave, every time. Maybe that’s why we keep doing it.


Ever since your fingertips…
Ever since your eyes…
Talking with the light on
Bluer skies

Even if I wanted to
How could I explain?
Coming through my head now
This tidal wave

All your favorite eyelashes
All your bluest skin
Bring them and I’ll meet you in
That room again

Even if I told it true
Why should they believe
Coming through my head now
This tidal wave
Tidal wave

Coming over Waterloo
Dreaming of your hands
Want to run away now
Foreign lands

Even as I lie with you
Listen to you breathe
Coming through my head yeah
This tidal wave
Tidal wave
Tidal wave


Dainon has made his selection here (I don’t know what he’s picked, as of this writing) and yeah, he is one of the next to the last romantics so I’m sure it’s good. But the question is….which love song is better? Vote here or there, we’ll tally them collectively.

But no, seriously. Can we please skip February 14th this year? Like a leap year, we’ll just vault over it.

May 26, 2008

Ok, so what’s the plan b?

Slow Motion (live 3/13/06) – David Gray

[full show here; highly recommended]

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October 16, 2007

A Thousand Miles Behind :: New live covers album from David Gray

When I saw David Gray last year in Denver, his cover of Tim Buckley’s ethereal “Song To The Siren” hit me in the gut and sliced diagonal across my heart. I have the boot of that show, and I still sometimes can’t listen to that track; there’s a funeral-playable quality to the song itself, and I loved the haunting, circuitous way Gray performed it. He also covered (and endearingly flubbed) Dylan’s “One Too Many Mornings” at that show as well, so it’s like I got a mini-preview of this concept album back then. I loved his take on both songs.

david-gray-a-thousand-miles-behindYou can find excellent versions of both those tunes on David Gray’s new self-produced live covers album A Thousand Miles Behind, as well as 11 others from varied original artists — three Dylan, two Springsteen, Will Oldham (devastating), Barry Gibb (surprisingly fantastic), Johnny Cash, and more.

The cover of British songwriter John Martyn’s “Go Down Easy” is emotive and amazing and sounds like something Gray could have penned himself. And wow, I just recognized the Randy Newman cover as being sung by Bette Midler on the Beaches soundtrack, of which I just remembered in a horrifying flashback that I used to own on cassette.

One With The Birds (Will Oldham) – David Gray
In The Morning (Barry Gibb) – David Gray

The album is available exclusively through, as of last week.

While you’re on his site, also take a listen to 1 of the two new original songs from his forthcoming Greatest Hits collection (Nov 13) — “The World To Me” is streaming at the bottom of the main page.

1. Song To The Siren (Larry Beckett, Tim Buckley)
2. To Ramona (Bob Dylan)
3. One With The Birds (Will Oldham)
4. Long Black Veil (Danny Dill, Marijohn Wilkin)
5. One Too Many Mornings (Bob Dylan)
6. I Think It’s Going To Rain Today (Randy Newman)
7. Mansion on the Hill (Bruce Springsteen)
8. In The Morning (Barry Gibb)
9. I Tremble For You (John Cash, Lewis Calvin De Witt, Jr.)
10. Buckets of Rain (Bob Dylan)
11. Go Down Easy (John Martyn)
12. Streets of Philadelphia (Bruce Springsteen)

And hey! Why not go see him on tour too?

Nov 6 – Newcastle Carling Academy
Nov 8 – Glasgow Academy
Nov 9 – Wolverhampton Civic Hall
Nov 10 – Manchester Apollo
Nov 12 – London Roundhouse
Nov 13 – London Roundhouse
Nov 14 – London Roundhouse
Nov 17 – Dublin National Stadium
Nov 18 – Killarney INEC
Dec 2 – Toronto, ON Massey Hall (On-sale Oct 19)
Dec 4 – New York, NY Beacon Theatre (On-sale Oct 19)
Dec 5 – Boston, MA Orpheum Theatre (On-sale Oct 20)
Dec 7 – Denver, CO Paramount Theatre (On-sale Oct 20)

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March 22, 2007

And now, a cover that is vastly better than the original

I’d go on a limb and say that on most days my favorite David Gray song is “Say Hello Wave Goodbye,” the beautiful, winding, 9-minute behemoth from White Ladder. It’s not catchy, no chorus that sticks in your head; it reminds me more of a confessional poem of a complicated relationship. I have a hard time articulating exactly why I love it so much, but from those opening notes (do it, click the blue arrow) it just seems to encapsulate some ephemeral longing and an intangible sadness.

Say Hello Wave Goodbye – David Gray

The nine minutes give the lyrics time to unfold and breathe –it is long enough to tell an intricate, sad story with the brutal refrain of “Take your hands off me, hey. I don’t belong to you, you say. Take a look at my face for the last time. I never knew you, you never knew me. Say hello, goodbye . . .”

To me, it’s about a mismatched pair that nonetheless feels that inexorable pull: “We tried to make it work, you in a cocktail skirt and me in a suit, but it just wasn’t me. You’re used to wearing less, and now you’re life’s a mess, so insecure you see.” And perhaps I like the line about how he claims to want “a nice little housewife who’ll give me the steady life, and not keep going off the rails” — but the subtext of the song tells me that he really wants her and not that at all.

My jaw dropped to the floor when I learned that this is originally a Soft Cell song (yes, they of the Tainted Love fame), and it is horrific, clunky, and synthy. In retrospect, perhaps I should have known, though — do songs get any more ’80s than one that starts with the lyric, “Standing in the door of the Pink Flamingo crying in the rain”?

I had that recent post about cover songs that are awful, this is one cover that actually redeems the original.

Say Hello Wave Goodbye – Soft Cell

Gray also adds his own outro to the original lyrics, and it always gets to me:

We were born before the wind, who are we to understand?

We were born before the wind . . .
Say goodbye
Through the rain, hail, sleet and snow
Say goodbye
Get on the train, the train, the train and
Say goodbye
Say goodbye
Say goodbye

In the wind and the rain my darling . . .
Say goodbye

In the wind and the rain my darling . . .

And with that, as you listen you can almost picture the train start moving on the tracks and pulling away from the station. It’s cinematic.

And just since the mood kind of fits, here is one other interesting cover, from Embrace‘s Ashes CD single (the b-side):

How Come – Embrace

How Come – D12 and Eminem
(the original – ha!)

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May 23, 2006

David Gray: “Falling Free”

This is an incandescent bit of poetry masquerading as a love song. The lyrics, oh. The lyrics are saturated with an intense beauty that tightens up my throat a bit — the feeling of falling and being not in control. The realization that sometimes connections with another person don’t make sense. From David Gray’s reissued 1994 album Flesh, this version live at KCRW (god bless em).

Falling Free – David Gray (live on KCRW)

All of my senses overthrown
by the might of your skin
and the lamplight on your cheekbones
drawing me further in

No sentence I can speak
for the wonder so unique
breaking like a wave upon the shore

Mercy me
I’m falling free
since you opened up the door

See how the sky is made of sapphire
the colours flowing through our hands
the moon is fire in your hair
a million miles beyond what science understands

Smell that purple heather
I don’t remember ever
feeling like this before

Mercy me
I’m falling free
since you opened up the door

And if every window pane should shatter
if every wall should fall apart
well it might hurt a bit
but would it matter
with this diamond in my heart?

And there’s no need to nail it to the ground
no need to smother it with sense
just listen to the rhythm of your heart
that pounding
and trust it all to chance

Cos we’re standing face to face
with the angel of grace
and don’t it just taste so pure

Mercy me I’m falling free
mercy me I’m falling free
mercy me I’m falling free
since you opened up the door

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March 14, 2006

Seeing David Gray’s spit and sweat

David Gray was amazing last night. My sister Kristy and I got to the lecture hall in the Denver Convention Center last night with our tickets in-hand. These were a birthday present from my sis last August, but then the show was canceled in October, so this was the rescheduled date. We walked in to the ushers, who ush us on our way, pointing to the front section. This was delightful, that they told us to keep moving closer. They keep ushing us forward ’til one blazered chap tells us that our seats are, indeed, in the FIRST ROW. Right in the center. Thank you Ticketmaster! I didn’t know Ticketmaster loved me so much. What a great late birthday present! I haven’t been in the first row of a huge show like that since Pearl Jam in 1995 in San Diego. We kept looking at each other and laughing in disbelief that we were so close!

David Gray absolutely gouges me; his beautiful playing on both piano and guitar, the way he pours his soul into he music (which you can really see up close – he feels it with his whole body), and that *voice,* both the lower register for the verses and then that sweet, affected, honest higher tenor for the emphasis and soaring parts. It was sheerly fabulous. I lack words (yet I keep trying).

And yep, that setlist includes both a Bob Dylan cover (One Too Many Mornings) AND a Tim Buckley cover immediately following (Song to the Siren, which was haunting in its ethereal beauty). I was in heaven. Ain’t No Love (read the lyrics on his site – gorgeous) and Lately were also both show-stopping, as well as one entitled Shine. And as many times as I’ve heard Please Forgive Me, it remains such an amazing song; it could be one of my top ten. I love the lyric, “feels like lightning runnin’ through my veins every time I look at you.”

I was really hoping for Say Hello, Wave Goodbye (possibly my favorite song he sings, although I was shocked – shocked! – recently to find out that it is a Soft Cell tune), but no such luck. It’s okay, I really couldn’t have absorbed any more.


Alive (new) – David Gray
One Too Many Mornings (Dylan cover) – David Gray
Song To The Siren (Tim Buckley) – David Gray
Far From Here (new song) – David Gray

VIDEO: Simon also took some video of the recent show in Cinci:

Video 1Video 2Video 3

By the way, these cell-phone pics are all I have to regale you with. Not the best quality, but kind of avant-garde artsy, no? I finally figured how to get them off my phone and it wasn’t as hard as I thought! They were just getting stuck in my spam filter.

Oh, and speaking of good shows, if I were in the San Francisco Bay Area tonight, I would be tempted to head on out to Hotel Utah and enjoy me some Newcastle while partaking in a good show with two local band favorites. Santa Clara University’s own favorite good-time band The Otters are playing with 735 Institution at rad historic venue the Hotel Utah Saloon tonight at 9pm:

“Perhaps the most underrated SF institution, the Hotel Utah has outlasted DJ-bar mania, dive-bar revival and every other nightlife trend to hit the city. Since its doors opened in 1908, the hip factor has never been part of the Utah’s organic M.O. This classic saloon showcases 20th-century novelties like a walk-in wooden phone booth, old-fashioned, inner-lit streetlamps and hand-carved mahogany bar back. The Utah packs in a casual and virtually ageless crowd.”

It’s only $6, so if you are one of my readers from Santa Clara, Stanford, San Fran, Palo Alto, San Jose, Oakland, etc. etc. etc., head on over. The Otters are preparing a rockin’ little acoustic set with some original tunes, and I hear there may also be a sexy little number by the Rolling Stones thrown in the mix.

Ooh, bring on that harmonica.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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