Songs that rock our world
It’s been a long time since I have been taken by surprise by the music that Robert likes to listen to: he can go from Metallica to Mozart, Stevie Ray Vaughan to Vivaldi; The Beach Boys, Elvis; listens to guitar greats like Tommy Emmanuel and Doc Watson; admires contemporary bottleneck blues performers Keb’ Mo’, Steve James and Roy ‘Book’ Binder; plays The Mavericks, Jeff Lynne, listens to piano greats Fats Domino and James Booker… the list goes on.
The music he likes to perform, especially on guitar, might have a different slant. On bass he can – and will – play anything that’s required but playing guitar is a different discipline for him. Then, on piano he plays classical pieces like Dubussy’s Claire de Lune and Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude to name just two.
There are a few songs that would be special for him and to him. And, of course, to me.
Love Me Tender ~ This is number one on our list: not only is it a beautiful song that we both love and sing very well together (she said modestly), but Bob chose it as one of the songs he wanted to hear on our Wedding Day. When he and I do it, Robert sings the harmony and over the years our phrasing and intonation have become so close that it almost sounds like one voice. Robert’s guitar-playing on this is beautiful, and of course he’s a huge (early) Elvis fan – who wouldn’t be. But there is one particular reason for it being my number 1 – a long time ago we were in his mum and sister’s house in Clonsilla; Bob was across and down the table from me and he suggested we do this song. At some point while we were singing we looked at each-other and I knew he was happy and proud of us, and of me, and he must have seen the same feelings reflected in my expression. We smiled at each-other and kept singing. It was one of the happiest moments of our entire relationship and one that will stay with me forever.
Some years later, just as we were leaving Clonsilla Robert’s mother Rita said: ‘wait for just a second…’, went over to the piano and played the first eight or so bars of ‘Love Me Tender’. She smiled at us. ‘It’s your song’, she said.Love Potion No. 9 ~ While probably not one of Robert’s favourite songs, it was the one that he and The Negatives released as a single via Warner Brothers which led to their securing support for Eric Clapton’s 1981 tour of Ireland (http://irishrock.org/irodb/bands/negatives.html). The B-side was an original song of his, The Prize.
Crazy ~ Robert worked out the most beautiful and clever guitar arrangement for this song which he initially had to talk me into singing. Of course I grew to love it and it was part of every gig we did for a long time.
We used to work as a duo in what was then our local pub, The Cumberland Inn in Dun Laoghaire where husband and wife owners Peter and Collette served behind the bar. Peter didn’t know the song was made famous by Patsy Cline: he thought it was ours – said he heard someone singing ‘your song’ on the radio. Very flattering! And another song we could claim as ours…
Lawdy Miss Clawdy ~ Written by Lloyd Price (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawdy_Miss_Clawdy), this song has been covered by everybody: Presley, Little Richard and Travis Tritt to name just a few, but I always associate it with Bob. He can wail this song and sometimes would do it more than once a night if the gig was long.
He and I did a gig in Clifden in Galway one New Year’s Eve and the night before (both nights). Our lineup was Dave McInaney on keyboard and Barry Crossan on drums. Bob and I were fronting the band. On the second of the two nights, New Year’s Eve, the gig lasted for about three hours before I began to lose my voice. Robert sent me off to bed at about 2.30am (New Year’s Day), telling me he wouldn’t be long. He continued that gig for at least another 40 minutes singing every song. I could hear the band through the hotel floor. When I heard Miss Clawdy for the second time I knew they’d be done soon. Talk about a professional – he kept going until the other two lads had had enough. It was always a song that he could put his heart into, and I can see him getting tucked into it like it was the first time he’d ever sang it.
Fiddler’s Green ~ This could never be described as a song Bob liked but while we worked as a duo in the Irish bars in San Diego, California and Phoenix, Arizona, we had to do some Irish songs. I got to sing the lion’s share but I insisted Robert sing the occasional one (just being contrary, really). His way of dealing with being forced to sing a ballad or folk song was to ‘forget’ the words or even the name of the song. This particular one got called ‘Fisherman’s Friend’ and ‘Fiddler’s Feck’, and there were fish hanging from trees and bottles of rum splashing around in the water. One particular night he made such a pig’s ear of the words that I was incapable of continuing the harmony because I was laughing so much. Of course he did it deliberately – he doesn’t forget these things.
Blueberry Hill ~ I was playing Fats Domino for Bob this morning and remembered how many times I’ve heard him play this song: he can play it on piano too which is brilliant. When Bob went to Ibiza in 1986 he was playing guitar in a bar called Refugio, or El Refugio – ‘The Refuge’, I guess – for several weeks before a rival bar owner reported El Refugio for having live music but no licence, so Bob was out of a job for a while. On his last night in El Refugio he started messing around on the piano, and did Blueberry Hill, one of his favourite songs. A German lady in the bar took a bit of a shine to either him or the song, and bribed him with a Jagermeister to ‘play the Blueberry Hill’ again, and again… several Jagermeisters later he was not too sober and ever since then, when I’d say to him ‘play The Blueberry Hill’, he’d look a little wistful and wonder just how many times he’d played the song that night… Bob has always loved Fats Domino and those great piano players: Nat ‘King’ Cole, James Booker and Mose Allison, and introduced me to a lot of these amazing musicians (apart from Nat – my mother introduced me to him). Fats does a version of ‘One Night’ (later covered by Elvis) which actually begins ‘one night of sin, is what I’m paying for’ and not ‘one night with you, is what I’m praying for’ (as per Elvis). Bob loves this type of ‘cleaning up’ of what was originally quite a naughty song.
Pride and Joy ~ Stevie Ray Vaughan ~ If you’ve never heard Stevie Ray then please, please! listen to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NU0MF8pwktg I can’t remember when Bob first said ‘listen to this’ about SRV but I do know that from the first time I heard him, I was not only blown away but sad, excited and amazed that someone so talented had turned out so much beautiful music and died so young. I guess that’s the way it goes sometimes. We’ve got several DVDs of Stevie Ray and have only been able to listen/watch three or four tracks at a time because it’s so intense and exciting. The words of Pride and Joy describe a man’s love for a woman but I can easily translate them into a woman’s love for a man, and do (please see https://robertbolton.org/2012/05/23/our-california-years-1992-to-1997/ ‘I love my baby heart and soul; love like ours will never grow old; she’s my sweet little thing; she’s my pride and joy; she’s my sweet little baby; I’m her little lover boy…’ that’s the way to do it.
Life by the Drop ~ Stevie Ray Vaughan ~http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7ZPMScX9-k Again, a galvinising piece of music performed by a virtuoso of guitar and vocal who can pin you to the wall with his sheer vitality. Bob and I both love Stevie Ray – no apologies for that.
Fearless Heart – Steve Earle ~ ‘Don’t you worry ’bout what you been told; cause honey I ain’t even close to cold…’ I got me a fearless heart, strong enough to get you through the scary part…’ this describes my love for Bob pretty much the way it has been – ‘a fearless heart just comes back for more…‘ Have a listen: (album ‘Guitar Town’, I think: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzDGvtJ2pgI Steve Earle is brilliant and we both admire his songwriting and musianship – we’ve rocked to him too many times to count.
Living in a Moment ~ Ty Herndon ~ http://youtu.be/hry1zgushrw We supported Ty Herndon sometime during our time in the San Diego, and a more talented singer you couldn’t meet. We both became immediate fans – his songs were catchy, he was so impressive live (and his beautifully produced album had three or four songs we really liked) and he was a really nice person. What’s not to like? ‘Living in a Moment’ is a song I’ve been learning to play for Bob while he’s in hospital as I know it’s a song he’ll remember.
I Have to Surrender ~ Ty Herndon ~ A song that describes a little how falling in love can be a strength – just have a listen: http://youtu.be/mMpCW3DIGQA
This song list would not be complete without Dwight Yaokam making an appearance: If you’ve never heard this you should: ‘Inside the Pocket of a Clown’ http://youtu.be/eQcGkzXmPjY, I Ain’t That Lonely Yet’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4cPQ9mHYVo&feature=related ‘A Thousand Miles from Nowhere’ http://youtu.be/oLprAUar11U, ‘Guitars & Cadillacs’, ‘Fast as You’ http://youtu.be/A2qo1x9rcCc – brilliant and pristine songs beautifully performed and addictive as nicotine. Mr Yoakam can say what the heart feels and wrote songs both of us could identify with. And then sometimes, instead of words, he’ll just moan… His lyrics cut to the chase and his ability to project an amazing image – a bit like Stevie Ray Vaughan – is dazzling. Bob has always been indulgent of my tendency to moon a little over Mr Yaokam (or any of my mooning, to be fair) – even though I knew he was highly stylised (check out his performance in ‘Swing Blade’ – he’s a very talented actor as well as a multi-hued musician).
Bob loves Julie London – her voice and inflection, and introduced me to her unique style (http://youtu.be/DXg6UB9Qk0o)/ He also loves Ella Fitzgerald , Patsy Cline, Bonnie Raitt (a big fan, he particulary liked this http://youtu.be/6Mylo0piAgc. Martina McBride and Tricia Yearwood – it’s possible this ‘favourites list’ sounds more masculinely-inclined but bear in mind it’s a woman compiling it…