Elliott Smith – “I’ll Be Back”



Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Four: Day 001
Wed. Jan 1, 2014

“I’ll Be Back”
Elliott Smith


“♫ I
told you
but I came
back again ♫”

side wave Elliott
My first post of 2014 will be my last in a long while. I initially started Don’t Forget The Songs 365 to spark myself to write every day as a way to obtain my goal— to be accepted into grad school. Now that my dream has come true, I need to keep all my focus on Graduate School. Grad School had become my full time job and my energies needs to be on my studies, my writings and my soon to be field study position.

I leave you with one of my favorite Beatles covers of all time. Recorded during the From a Basement on the Hill sessions, Elliott was one of the biggest Fab Four fans. You may recall Smith recorded a rendition of “Because” for the American Beauty soundtrack. Remembering a quote from William Todd Schultz’s Torment Saint, one of Elliott’s former bandmates and friends Pickle described the multi-talented Smith as “Elliott was John, Paul and George and we were all Ringo.” Pickle’s quote perfectly reflects Elliott’s cover of “I’ll Be Back.” Not only is Smith playing all the instruments but at the end, my favorite part, is hearing Elliott, inspired by the Beatles Anthology outtakes of the late nineties, taking on the voices of John, Paul and George blaming each other for “messing up” this near perfect take.
I’m not saying good-bye forever; I don’t know how long I’ll be gone, so let me just so long for now. Think of this farewell as an extended sabbatical. Thank You to all my readers, my friends, my family and especially my wife for all the feedback, kind words and support during my Don’t Forget the Songs-365 adventure. I will miss posting songs every day but my grad school duty calls and I gotta accept the charges.

Happy New Year!

Peter Doherty’s acoustic version of “Can’t Stand Me Now” and the story behind the song that broke up the Libertines



Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 274
Tues. Dec 31, 2013

“Can’t Stand Me Now (acoustic)”
Peter Doherty

“♫ I’ve
read every
they all
The first single from The Libertines eponymous album, released after Peter Doherty much publicized prison sentence that was the fire stake that led to demise in the core collaborative friendship between chief songwriters Carl Barât and the soon to be Babyshambles vocalist Doherty. “Can’t Stand Me Now” was supposed to be the song that brought Barât and Doherty back together, ironically, this was the song that ended up breaking up The Libertines.

According to Anthony Thornton and Roger Sargent in their book The Libertines: Bound Together, “Can’t Stand Me Now” was written by the duo Barât and Doherty on a songwriting retreat to Paris to try to reclaim their splinter partnership as Peter explained, “Biggles [Barât’s nickname] has asked me to go away to Paris, just the two of us. We’re going tomorrow. Do some writing.” Thornton and Sargent detailed the session when they wrote, “In the Hotel France Albion in Montmartre [Barât and Doherty] completed two new songs: “Can’t Stand Me Now” and “The Saga.”

Because of Peter’s continuing drug use, the saga continued, Barât and the rest of The Libertines banned Doherty from playing with them until he got clean. Things between Peter and his bandmates went sour fast as detailed in Alex Hannaford’s book Peter Doherty: Last of the Rock Romantics, “The band had been playing ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’—the Pete penned paean to his and Carl’s soured relationship. And that night on stage at Brixton, whether it was due to love lost between them, paranoia from drug use or simply tiredness, Pete took offence at how emphatic Carl had been while singing the words to the song. ‘It had taken six, seven years for him to say it, to say the truth,’ Pete afterwards told journalist Betty Clarke for the Guardian. ‘He sang it to me and I thought, you’re right. We’ve used each other, got here, but underneath it all, you’re not my mate. So I kicked his amp over, smashed up his guitar and cut myself up.” It sounds like Peter took offense when Barât sung Peter’s song, it made Carl look like the victim and Doherty was the villain in their musical drama.

To counter Carl’s rendition, Peter recorded a brilliant acoustic version with one of the most infamous lines that Doherty cleverly added to the lyrics when the now lead singer of Babyshambles sang, “♫ I’ve read every review/they all prefer you. ♫” Commenting on his coy lyric, many years later, Peter once said, “Reviews are always busting their guts with comparisons… but I don’t listen to anything you would know. Apart from Babyshambles and The Libertines. But I don’t even listen to them much. Only if I wanna play an old song for a special reason or concert and I need to remember the parts (shameful moments).”

When Carl was once asked about the meaning behind the Doherty and Barât penned first single from The Libertines album, the singer was famously quoted in Hannaford’s book, “‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ was the most self-explanatory song in pop.” Libertines’ bassist John Hassall had a better explanation of the song when he told Q Magazine in 2008, “The song that stands out is ‘Can’t Stand Me Now.’ Maybe the only thing Pete and Carl could honestly sing about was the situation, what they felt about each other. Almost a sort of therapy in itself.”
IMG_1318 copy
It’s probably no surprise that my favorite is Peter’s version; it’s just that Doherty’s acoustic rendition is more honest, naked and emotional than Carl’s. You can feel the aching sadness in Doherty’s vocal. Despite his drug use and actions against his former partner and band, Peter truly felt hurt by the way he was treated by his mates and the way the media made Doherty looked like the drugged out villain. Peter explained his reasons on finally staying away from The Libertines and starting his own band Babyshambles when he said, “Sometimes doing Libertines songs with Babyshambles just doesn’t feel right – for them and for me,” he said. “In the same way that back in the Libertines days…playing certain songs that were all about how much I hated playing song with The Libertines…I wasn’t really happy playing [those songs] with The Libertines. I had to get another band on the go.”

Which ever version you prefer, the original first single from The Libertines final album or Carl’s, one thing you can say about Peter’s acoustic rendition, Doherty doesn’t hold back, the Babyshambles vocalist’s acoustic version is a stripped down tale that singled the end of one of the best bands UK that had so much passion but couldn’t make it through their personal madness. “Can’t Stand Me Now” is the song that broke up The Libertines. Nothing else to say except, when the clock strikes midnight, honor ‘the good old days’ by cranking up Peter’s acoustic classic of “Can’t Stand Me Now” to eleven and just sing along.

Happy New Year!

Carl Barât vs. Peter Doherty in the Battle for the “The Ballad of Grimaldi”



Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 273

Mon. Dec 30, 2013

“The Ballad of Grimaldi”
Carl Barât; Peter Doherty


“♫ Because
she knows
how I adore
you/ we
won’t be

Welcome to the battle for “The Ballad of Grimaldi,” in this corner we have the poster lyrical boy of excess Peter Doherty squaring off against his former Libertines mate Carl Barât. Although “Girmaldi” was first tracked by The Libertines for the infamous Babyshambles sessions in 2003, Doherty actually struck first in this musical battle when Peter recorded an acoustic version for his Shaken and Withdrawn sessions of 2004.

Six years later after Carl helped Peter co-write “A Little Death Around The Eyes” on Doherty’s Stephen Street produced solo album Grace/Wastelands. Soon after, the Babyshambles vocalist recorded a studio version for the b-side of “Broken Love Song.” Unfortunately, that flip side is probably my least favorite versions of all the “Grimaldi’s;” but Doherty redeemed himself this year when Peter shared an exquisite live rendition for the Raise the Bar compilation to help save the Kentish Town pub The Torriano. It’s difficult to capture the essence of Doherty in the studio when the Babyshambles vocalist is such an enigmatic presence on the stage. Watch Peter shine in this gloriously live acoustic version, enjoy:

Capitalizing on the 2010 Libertines reunion shows, Carl used his own newly re-recorded rendition of “The Ballad” to re-spark the battle of “Grimaldi.” I also thought that Barât was the more promotionally savvy between the two, and the proof can be found when Doherty’s former collaborator was Carl’s when talking to This Fake DIY about songs his former band should have recorded, Barât said, “I think The Ballad of Grimaldi, which just happens to be on my EP (ho ho – I’m doing some corporate plugging – oh what’s the world become!) should have been recorded as something more colossal.”

As you can hear, Carl’s version is a little more polished and refined. Barât’s studio version sounds like an almost Libertines recording that’s beginning for his former songwriting partner, Peter Doherty’s vocals. A duet between the two would definitely be a hit single for all of us Libertines fans longing for a reunion beyond on the stage and inside the studio again. Until then we’re going to have to settle for these brilliant versions by solo artists Peter Doherty on the Raise the Bar charity album and Carl Barât on his EP, Death Fires Burn at Night.

Relive the glory of the track that Carl recently called “the beauty […] of an old Libertines’ song that I did with Pete years ago on there called the Ballad Of Grimaldi.” So you choose the victor in the battle for “The Ballad of Grimaldi.” Who do you prefer Carl or Peter’s version? You decide!

a Poet + an M.I.T. Media Lab Scientist + the Eternal Harp + Björk = “Solstice”



Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 272
Fri. Dec 27, 2013


“♫ When
your eyes/
pause on
the ball/
that hangs
on the third
from the

If you’re looking for the most non-traditionally magnificent song for this or any winter holiday season, you must discover the mystically wondrous sound of Björk’s “Solstice.” Björk described this hauntingly beautiful Biophilia track as, “Sjón wrote this poem which I really, really love and it’s called “solstice,” which is basically a Christmas carol and it’s sort of about the fact that the four seasons are because of the tilt of the earth.” Sjón’s poetics are what first caught my lyrical ear but then I learned how Björk brought “Solstice” to light.

According to Scott Snibe, Biophilia’s executive producer, who described how Björk recreated her 2011 on the stage, when he told The Vine, “You’ve got Bjork, you have a 24-women Icelandic choir — which is really something, they accompany her on most songs — you have a round performance space with a central stage with audience all around. Eight video screens on top, video on the floor and then five or six custom-made instruments she had made. One is called a Gravity Harp, which plays a harp component of a song called ‘Solstice’.

Björk had to have her musical devices commissioned to create “a new instrument that would harness a force of nature.” If you’re wondering how you create such an instrument, Björk turned to a master student at M.I.T’s Media Lab, Andy Cavatorta. Cavartorta’s was to bring Björk’s idea of a Gravity Harp to life. Andrew Maranntz of The New Yorker described Cavartorta’s and Björk’s creation as “It is made of spruce, walnut, rubber bushings, epoxy, forty-four harp strings, and six five-pound dumbbells. When it moves, it looks like a set of wind chimes on a giant robot’s front porch.”

When Bjork saw Andrew’s creation, the Icelandic singer described the “Gravity Harp” as “If there is an element in nature that is similar to counterpoint, it would be the effect of gravity on a pendulum, when you see and animation, like the one we found online of double pendulums, the way they interact is very similar to how melody and counterpoint work… Maybe that’s why I was attracted to pendulums, or maybe it could be just the simple thing that I’m trying to break out of the 4/4 (time signature) and the computer. I really like this idea of a bass-line that works like a pendulum and that is kind of driven by gravity and sort of has regularity but is sort of irregular at the same time.

Irregular and innovative are two words that are synonymous with Björk. In fact, Biophilia was a musical project that Björk created on her I-pad. But Björk’s dream is for Biophilia to be more than just an album but a living breathing interactive project as she told The Independent UK, “I don’t want to promise anything but I would like to find a future international home for Biophilia – even though it’s actually in an app. My dream originally was that it would be a museum or something, in Iceland, in nature, where kids could come and do courses.”

For now, we Björk fans get to experience her multi-media creation Biophilia from home. I suggest you begin with “Solstice.” The song that began as a Christmas poem by Björk’s lyricist Sjón and who’s musical structure was so complex that M.I.T’s Media Lab Andy Cavatorta had to create a new instrument called a “Gravity Harp” to bring “Solstice” from Björk’s mind to life. Any track that needs a poet and a Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist to help create Björk’s song is one for me. Celebrate the seasons with this timeless Bjork i Pad creation that mixes poetics, technology and imagination all in the span of a five minute anti-pop song, the future begins now.

David Bowie – “Heroes”



Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 271
Thurs. Dec 26, 2013

David Bowie


“♫ Yes
we’re lovers/
and that is

One of the most misunderstood songs in David Bowie’s eclectic song canon has to be 1977’s “Heroes.” While working on the title track to “Heroes” at now historic Hansa Studios in Berlin, producer Tony Visconti left David Bowie alone to come up with the lyrics, as Visconti told Sound on Sound, “He gets very, very tense, because he’s now got to commit. So, I could feel it in the air.” The cold winter air was where Tony went to meet his secret paramour, by the Berlin Wall, that Bowie witnessed, the scene of to illicit lovers that spawned the classic storyline to one of the most passionate songs David had ever written.

Visconti talked to author David Buckley in his book Strange Fascination about the background to Bowie’s historic lyric and verse when Tony explained, “David and I sang the backing vocals, embellishing and answering certain lines. You can hear my lovely Brooklyn accent on lines like “I remember” and “By the wall.” It had been erroneously written that Brian Eno and David sang back-ups on “Heroes”, but the album credits clearly state that they were sung by David, myself and sometimes Antonia Maass, a singer we met in a club in Berlin. Yes, Antonia and I were interested in each other, and we left David alone that afternoon, so he could have some quiet time to write lyrics to the title track. We stopped by the wall and kissed. David saw us from the control-room window and that inspired a verse for the song.

Bowie explained the impetus for the lyrics to “Heroes” when he told NME in 1977, “The situation that sparked off the whole thing was – I thought – highly ironic. There’s a wall by the studio – the album having been recorded at Hansa by the Wall in West Berlin – about there. It’s about twenty or thirty meters away from the studio and the control room looks out onto it. There’s a turret on top of the wall where the guards sit and during the course of lunch break every day, a boy and girl would meet out there and carry on. They were obviously having an affair. And I thought of all the places to meet in Berlin, why pick a bench underneath a guard turret on the wall? And I – using license – presumed that they were feeling somewhat guilty about this affair and so they had imposed this restriction on themselves, thereby giving themselves an excuse for their heroic act. I used this as a basis… therefore it is ironic.”

Ironic is the perfect word because Bowie’s song is not one for two soul-mates but for two hopeless lovers as author Thomas Jerome Seabrook explored in his book Bowie in Berlin a New Career in a New Town when he wrote, ““Heroes” is still widely mistaken to be an anthem to fist-pumping optimism, when in fact Bowie is singing about the self-delusion of clinging to a relationship that might last, at best, “just for one [more] day”.

I can remember an old flame that longed this Bowie to be one of ‘our’ theme songs; looking back now, “Heroes” was a lyrical reflection that doomed our affair between two starry eyed lovers lost in a moment we could only cling to nakedly. But she wasn’t the only one, many music lovers have misunderstood a more hopeful message inside Bowie’s classic song. It’s no wonder co-writer Brian Eno once described “Heroes” as, “It’s a beautiful song. But incredibly melancholy at the same time. We can be heroes, but actually we know that something’s missing, something’s lost.”

One thing I will agree with Bowie, as he told Allan Jones from Melody Maker, to me, “Heroes” will remain a soundtrack to a Boxing Day snap-shot moment captured, “the very simple pleasure of being alive,” inside this classic song between two star crossed lovers that will continue flickering on, misunderstood, eternally.

Cat Power – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”



Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 270
Wed. Dec 25, 2013

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
Cat Power


“♫ Let
heart be

Chan Marshall, aka the artist we all love and know as Cat Power, once said, “For me, the moment the mic is on and it’s rolling, it’s impossible to vocally relax for some reason. But one day, I’m going to be able to sing the way I sang when I was a little kid, completely open and free. That’s, I think, the one thing that’s changed: Growing older, I’m not ashamed to hear my voice.” Smile, Chan. There’s no reason to be ashamed anymore, you already sound open and free. Thanks to you and this glorious version of this holiday classic, we’re all going to have a Merry Little Christmas!

From all of us here at Don’tForgetTheSongs-365, Feliz Navidad to you and everyone you love!

Paul McCartney – “Wonderful Christmas Time”



Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 269
Tues. Dec 24, 2013

“Wonderful Christmas Time”
Paul McCartney


“♫ We’re
simply having
a wonderful

This song which sounds like the sequel and more synthesizer based son of “Let Me In,” was actually, because all of his 70’s hits with Wings, Macca’s first solo single since 1971’s “Another Day.”

Some may call this, Paul’s classic holiday song, cheesy, dated and über schmaltzy but who truly cares what those grinchy fools think? No other song reminds me of sitting in front of the fireplace, sipping warm milk out of a coffee cup with whip cream on top, laughing & singing along whilst enjoying the warmth of my familia during our favorite Christmas time of the year. No other song brings in the modern synth spirit of the holidays than this classic from Paul McCartney. You know you heart this one. Press play and croon while dancing along to “Wonderful Christmas Time.” Feliz Navidad, amigos!

John Lennon and Yoko Ono & Plastic Ono Band – “Happy Xmas (War is Over) [featuring the Harlem Community Choir]”



Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 268
Mon. Dec 23, 2013

“Happy Xmas (War is Over) [featuring the Harlem Community Choir]”
John Lennon & Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band


“♫ And
so this is

How can I forget this time of year, when I was younger, wrapping paper would be rolling around us, with bows, as the X-mas tree was lighting us, but I would spread with my head dreaming inside the vinyl sleeves. If it was Christmas time, Beatles music always heard coming from the large stereo speakers of my parent’s home. I remember how I would watch the needle land on the vinyl imagining it was Santa landing on the record to bring us the Fab Four music I loved to hear.

Did you realize, Lennon was inspired to pen his peaceful anthem using the lyrical lesson he used while recording Imagine, when he explained, “Now I understand what you have to do: Put your political message across with a little honey.” Did you also know, Lennon also claimed he wrote this Happy holiday song “because I was sick of White Christmas.

I know I’ll never tire of spinning Happy Xmas. Lennon song was always one of my favorites, and one we must have played on my parent’s record player over and over again, so much that my Papi thought we’d wore off the grooves from the vinyl; luckily we never did and every December I would bring out this record and spin all of John & Yoko’s yuletide glory all over again.

“Happy Xmas” always brings me back when I was younger wearing Santa’s oversized hat and sung all of John’s songs with all the cheer. My favorite part is singing along to the Yoko and Harlem choir’s harmonies. Speaking of, how about Yoko’s harmonies? “Happy Xmas” is definitely her best on any of John’s songs! You can feel the love and joy in Ono’s vocals. Happy Xmas to all my readers, enjoy your holidays and have a happiest of New Years!

The Breeders – “Off You”



Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 267
Fri. Dec 20, 2013

“Off You”
The Breeders


“♫ I
am the
on your

Today I watched the trailer for Spike Jonze’s new movie Her. A post-modern, artificially intelligent, love story between a lonesome Joaquin Phoenix writer her pens letters for clients and the sultry operating system voiced by Scarlett Johansson. The premise isn’t as preposterous as it sounds, how many of us have had “world wide webbed-long distanced internet” romances with lovers using only voices on page, e-mail, text and cell phones?

One of the songs that could be the theme of Spike’s film is The Breeders 2002 gem “Off You.” This Title TK treasure matches the mood of the film which director Jonze described as, “It’s this quiet, simmering electricity. I knew it was a love story and I wanted the emotions to be very simple and strong. Very base and not intellectual. The score is loneliness, it’s excitement, it’s romance, the score is pain, her pain and her love and her disappointments and all—it was a love story and maybe even more so a relationship story.”

Talking about songwriting in 2010, Kim Deal said this to The Cleveland Scene, “I can’t handle being part of a bad song. Writing a song is super easy. You can go to the library or bookstore and there’s actually a formula for writing songs. But here’s the hard part —writing a song I’m going to want to sing in front of people five years from now.” Deal definitely accomplished this with “Off You,” and over ten years later and not only are all Breeders fans still talking about this underrated Title TK gem but Spike Jonze has included Deal’s song on the film and soundtrack to his new film Her.

“Off You” isn’t the quintessential example of a typical Breeders song, in fact; it’s my favorite of any and all the songs that Kim Deal has ever written. I would argue that Deal has been trying to recapture the same spirit she created on “Off You.” If you don’t believe me listen to any of the new songs that Kim has released as iTunes singles like “Are You Mine” and especially “Likkle More.”

I am not alone in my love for Kim and The Breeders “Off You,” in fact, Drowned in Sound J.R. Moores said this about his favorite, and my own, Title TK track, when he wrote, “Off You’ is Title TK’s greatest moment, The Breeders’ greatest moment, one of alternative music’s greatest moments. Sadness and intrigue pour out of this frail lullaby in a way unlike any other record.” I wholeheartedly agree with J.R.’s take and so does Darren Levin of Faster Louder who named Title TK, home of “Off You” one of the most underrated albums of all time.

“Off You” would have just been a forgotten Title TK treasure, championed by J.R. Moores, Darren Levin and myself hadn’t Spike Jonze decided to add this Breeders vintage song of loneliness on the soundtrack to his new film Her. Kim has rarely talked about “Off You” during interviews and when she has mentioned this Title TK gem, Deal has praised her sister Kelley’s work on the song like when she told VH-1, “We were at the studio. ‘Off You’ sounds good. The bass is done, the guitar is done. Then Kelley wanted to play bass pedals. It came out as so obviously not a noise that would go with the song, but it sounded cool. Whenever I hear it, I say, ‘Kelley’s landed.” Kim is wrong, whenever I hear “Off You” it sounds like Deal has made her mark in one of the most unheralded songwriters of our generation. The way that Kim captures the sound of loneliness as an island is transcendentally emotional and timeless. Do yourself a favor and re-experience the magnificence that is The Breeders “Off You.” Sadness never sounded this eternally beautiful.

The Beatles – “Watching Rainbows”



Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 266
Thurs. Dec 19, 2013

“Watching Rainbows”
The Beatles


“♫ Instead
of watching
I’m gonna
make me

I woke up this morning to the sound of “Watching Rainbows” in my head. “Rainbows” is one of the plethora of songs the Beatles recorded at Twickenham Studios during the Get Back Sessions while filming Let It Be. Often bootleg, the genesis of this John Lennon creation seems to stem from a line of John’s “I Am The Walrus;” on “Rainbows” John sings, “♫ Standing in the garden, waiting for the sun to shine ♫” which is similar to the lyrical refrain from “Walrus’s” “♫ Sitting in an English Garden, waiting for the sun ♫.” The difference between the two songs, besides the psychedelics which run rampant on “Walrus” is that Lennon’s song persona seems to be more proactive in “Rainbows.” Instead of just “Watching Rainbows,” John sings, “I’m gonna make me some.”

“Rainbows” seems to be a metaphor for dreams or songs, speaking of Lennon talked about the magic of songwriting when he once said, “When real music comes to me – the music of the spheres, the music that surpasses understanding – that has nothing to do with me, cause I’m just the channel. The only joy for me is for it to be given to me, and to transcribe it like a medium… those moments are what I live for.”

Lennon was a born artist. Even as a child, John can attest, that he always seems to have a different perspective from the other children in his class as he once explained, “In one way, I was always hip. I was hip in kindergarten. I was different from the others. There was something wrong with me, I thought, because I seemed to see things people didn’t see. I always saw things in a hallucinatory way.”

John used his child-like perception, lyrically, in songs like “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “I Am The Walrus,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and even “Watching Rainbows.” John talked about transforming the visions he saw in his head into his art when Lennon once said, “Surrealism had a great effect on me because then I realized that the imagery in my mind wasn’t insanity. Surrealism to me is reality.”

Since, “Watching” was left on the cutting room floor; The Beatles did use some elements of this rare cut on other songs. You may recognize the guitar from “Rainbows” as being the main riff from Let It Be’s “I’ve Got A Feeling.” And Lennon resurrected the “shoot” part on his most famous Abbey Road cut, “Come Together.”

Although “Watching Rainbows” has been unreleased for over forty years, there is still something wondrous about rediscovering the magical beauty in this rare Beatles treasure that not many Fab Four fans have heard. But Lennon doesn’t mind if some of his more devoted fans have yet to unearth this treasured recording as John once explained, “When you do something noble and beautiful and nobody noticed, do not be sad. For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps.” John Lennon and Beatles fans of the world unite. It’s time for you to get out of bed, run outside and catch some rainbows. Even if it’s not raining you can still catch them, start by “Watching Rainbows” and then open your mind—it’s easy if you try.