Tres Songs – Pop, Glorious Pop

As much as I like blues and jazz and all that good stuff, I’m still a sucker for good pop or pop-rock music. After all, pop constitutes much of what I grew up on before I even discovered those other genres.

Wikipedia in its typical bloodless though not entirely inaccurate way says, “Pop music is eclectic, and often borrows elements from other styles such as urban, dance, rock, Latin, and country; nonetheless, there are core elements that define pop music.

Identifying factors include generally short to medium-length songs written in a basic format (often the verse-chorus structure), as well as common use of repeated choruses, melodic tunes, and hooks.” (And BTW, typically three minutes or less.)

The Raspberries were a band from Cleveland, Ohio who had a couple of hits, most notably the naughty-for-its times (and banned by the stodgy BBC), “Go All the Way.” Allmusic says, “The Raspberries cut through the epic pretensions and pomposity of ’70s-era rock to proudly reclaim the spirit and simplicity of classic pop, recalling the heyday of the British Invasion with their exquisitely crafted melodies and achingly gorgeous harmonies. ”

Yes indeed, a song about fucking made its way into the Top Ten in the US and did well in Australia and Canada. (Not so sure about the UK thanks, one supposes, to the Beeb). Lead singer/songwriter Eric Carmen went on to score solo hits, most notably “All By Myself.”

Baby, please, go all the way
It feels so right (feels so right)
Being with you here tonight
Please, go all the way
Just hold me close (hold me close)
Don’t ever let me go

Spotify link

One learns things by researching these songs. For example, I found out that Arizona-founded Gin Blossoms list “jangle pop” as one of their genres. Old friend Wikipedia says: “Jangle pop is a subgenre of pop rock that emphasizes trebly, ringing guitars (usually 12-string electrics)  and 1960’s-style pop melodies.

While the Everly Brothers and the Searchers laid the foundations for the style, the Beatles and the Byrds are commonly credited with launching the popularity of the “jangly” sound that defined the genre.”

The Gin Blossoms released their debut album Dusted in 1989 (and a new one a few months ago) and it includes a great piece of “you betrayed me” jangle pop (or call it what you will) called “Found Out About You.” (The song was re-released on New Miserable Experience to capitalize on its hit status.)

Street lights blink on through the car window
I get the time too often on AM radio
You know it’s all I think about
I write your name drive past your house

Your boyfriend’s over I watch your lights go out
Whispers at the bus stop
I heard about nights out in the school yard
I found out about you

Spotify link

Marshall Crenshaw (pictured on top of post) is a singer/songwriter from Detroit, Michigan. We first learned his name when he played John Lennon in a Broadway show called Beatlemania that ran in the late ’70’s. He subsequently launched a solo career (and has recently been touring), releasing his eponymous debut album in 1982. Crenshaw has also sat in with the Smithereens on the death of singer Pat DiNizio.

If there’s a better piece of power pop (yet another subgenre) than “Someday, Someway” then I need to hear it. “Some of the stuff I’ve done you could call power pop,” he told an interviewer, “but the term does have sort of a dodgy connotation.” Sure, whatever that means. My guess is he doesn’t much like being pigeonholed.

I’ll love you for my whole life through
I can’t stand to see you sad
I can’t bear to hear you cry
If you can’t tell me what you need
All I can do is wonder why

Someday, someway aw
Someday, someway, yeah yeah
Someday, someway
Maybe I’ll understand you

Spotify link

Trivia – Crenshaw played Buddy Holly in the 1987 Ritchie Valens biopic, La Bamba. Ace guitarist Brian Setzer played Eddie Cochran in that movie and Los Lobos had a hit with their cover of the title song.

27 thoughts on “Tres Songs – Pop, Glorious Pop

  1. Great choices Jim! I used to love the Gin Blossoms tune back in the day. And I agree I don’t think there is a more classic pure power pop song than Someday Someway.

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  2. It’s kind of funny how some old school music fans consider the word “pop music” as something dirty. My all-time favorite band The Beatles are considered pop. Or how about Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, one of the best albums ever recorded? Pop – they didn’t call him the King of Pop for nothing.

    As for your specific choices, I like all of them. I hadn’t heard that Gin Blossoms tune in a long time – totally dig that sound. I’m relieved to know it’s called “jangle pop.” Clever name, though I admit it kind of nicely captures the sound, which definitely is reminiscent of The Byrds.

    As for The Raspberries, I wonder whether their name gave any inspiration to The Cranberries. Other than this tune now, I don’t know The Raspberries, and I’m not saying The Cranberries’ sound like them, though Wikipedia also describes The Cranberries as “jangle pop,” in addition to “alternative rock”, “pop rock”, “Celtic rock” and “dream pop” – gee, my head is spinning!

    To me that Raspberries tune has a great ’60s vibe (yet another attribute!) as does Marshall Crenshaw’s “Someday, Someway.” Or maybe forget about all these pop sub-genres and simply call it good and catchy music! 🙂

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    1. You can’t beat pop. Much of Todd Rundgren’s output is that. It’s funny but if you go to any club on any night and see a band they can probably do, say, “Johnny B. Goode.” But how many bands can pull of the voices and harmonies to do this kind of stuff?

      Curious – did Raspberries and Cranshaw make their way to you prior to this or were they new tunes for you?

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  3. I’ve heard that Gin Blossoms cut but I don’t think any thing else. They remind me of a band i really dug back then. ‘The Bodeans’
    I’ve been on the Crenshaw thing since he emerged. Didn’t know a lot of the trivia (as usual) that you turned up. Robert Gordon I think has something to do with that song. Some kind of connection with Marshall.

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    1. I don’t know a lot about the Bodeans but I remember they did a song that had a chorus that sounded a lot like a Dylan song. Gordon covered Crenshaw’s tune. Don’t know if it was a hot. Seems like an odd choice for him.

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      1. I heard Gordon’s version first (I think).
        Yeah I’m a big fan of the Bodeans. I think it was Sammy who did background vocals on Robertson’s ‘Crazy River’. He has a real distinct voice. Seen them a couple of times.

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  4. I haven’t lost to anything by the Gin Blossoms in a while. No doubt a fine band, but I have to admit that I rarely think about them. Anyhoo, this Crenshaw chap is completely new to me… I need to hear more of that.

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  5. Great choices, Jim. I’ve always loved the Raspberries, and I have Crenshaw’s first two LPs, both of which are good. Haven’t heard much Gin Blossoms, but they sound a lot like another band I like, called Teenage Fanclub. “Pop” is short for “popular” and “pop-rock” can cover a lot of territory. The term I always use for this retro, muscular, guitar-driven pop is “Power Pop,” which kind of distinguishes it from the more lightweight pop my wife likes. BTW, I used to know a guy who once jammed with guitarist Wally Bryson of the Raspberries. I think Bryson’s still performing in the Cleveland area.

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    1. Yes, I think that you and I had a Raspberries conversation once, tangential to some other topic. I’ve heard of Teenage Fanclub but that’s another one that is under the radar for me.

      As to what we call this music, Aphoristic made the same argument for power pop and so power pop it shall be. I’m, on a powe pop binge, expect more soon.

      As to Bryson, a brief interview here with him:

      http://www.jemwriting.com/interviews/10-questions-wally-bryson-guitarist-raspberries

      As to your wife and pop, er, how does she feel about the beloved Dan Hill? 🙂

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