Thursday, August 7, 2014

Two Sides to a Break-Up

So I've been a fan of Jason Mraz for over 10 years now. His voice gives me the same feeling I get when I eat a warm Krispy Kreme. His songs are fun, yet full of meaning and his life philosophy can be really helpful when you are having a dark day. He's also super handsome, and can rock a hat, so that doesn't hurt. When I learned that he was dating another singer-songwriter named Tristan Prettyman a few years ago, I was intrigued. The idea of two singers coming together and making duets in life and on stage is a really romantic one to me. Check out their performance of their song, "Shy That Way" to see what I mean:

 They seemed to have this epic romance. They had a big build up to being together, broke up and then found their way back together so that Mraz could ask her to marry him. What a happy ending! Or not. A few months after his proposal, the engagement was off, he grew his hair like a wild hippy and put out the song, "I Won't Give Up", which made the break-up fuzzy on the details, but we were all pretty sure that Prettyman must've done something to really break this boy's heart and hopefully she'll get her shit together because weren't they so cute?

I mean seriously, what girl wouldn't want her man to sing this to her after a break-up. Well, maybe after a nice shave and hair cut. So collectively, most likely subconsciously, we were all on Jason's side without even thinking that there are two sides to every break-up. 

So enter my iTunes gift card for my birthday and a purchase of Tristan Prettyman's CD Cedar & Gold released 10 months after Jason professed that he wouldn't give up (I know I'm two years late, but whatever). The first thing that strikes you about this disc are the song titles:

1. Second Chance
2. Say Anything
3. My Oh My
4. I Was Gonna Marry You
5. Quit You
6. Bad Drug
7. Come Clean
8. Glass Jar
9. When You Come Down
10. Deepest Ocean Blue
11. The Rebound
12. Never Say Never

Upon first glance, I saddled in for an ass-reaming the likes of which haven't been heard since Alanis made us all swallow her Jagged, Little Pill back in the 90's. I got it, sort of. "Second Chance", "My Oh My", "Bad Drug", and the hilarious "The Rebound" all make you rally behind Prettyman as she flips Mraz the high, hard one. Others, especially "I Was Gonna Marry You", and "Glass Jar", just make you feel sad. These two in particular really tell Prettyman's version of the events including the engagement and subsequent break-up. She also calls Mraz out that he did, in fact, give up on her.

I have to say after listening to this disc that I am feeling really sympathetic to Prettyman and more than a bit disappointed in Mraz who sings about these really idealistic, romantic ideals that seem faded and fake to me now. So in that way I guess I'm mad at Prettyman too for pulling back the curtain on one of my favorite artists.

Lastly, as a fellow writer of angry girl music, this really is some of the best I've heard. And as a break-up album goes, it captures every emotion you feel after having your heart ripped out, including the rebound guy, and trying to talk yourself out of ever going back to him/her again. It's a must listen for anyone who has recently been dumped, or likes reliving the feeling (are those people real?)

Enjoy the single "My Oh My"

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Story Behind My Songs

So I wrote these songs. A long time ago. When, frankly, I was a much different person than I am today. Also to be frank, I haven't written songs that are anywhere near the quality of those that I wrote when I was that person. Things happened to me then and I was experiencing the world with a different mindset than I have now.

The songs sat alone, unplayed, in their chunky, black spiral home until they started to call out to me from the shelf. Why have you forgotten us? We are part of you too! We deserve to be heard! The problem with them being heard is that taken out of context they didn't mean as much to me. To me, you really needed to understand the stories behind them in order for them to properly come alive. So how do I do that?

I write a book, about that time, that person that I was, those things I experienced. I include those songs as part of the book so that the reader can experience them with full understanding. Now what?

Well, if you're me you let the book sit (almost finished) on a shelf for two years. You do this for many reasons. One, you have a health issue that puts every other priority other than feeling better to the back burner. Additionally, you are too afraid of what people might say or think if they read it. You are a private person. Private people don't pull back the curtain for the world to see. So on the shelf, again, those songs, and the story behind them, sat. Those songs are angry songs at their core and so again started to bother me.

That brings us to now. I've finished this amazing piece of me. This story that was dying to be told, set to its own soundtrack. I'm healthy, but still private. It's been a hard decision, but what the hell is the point of writing a book if it's just going to sit on the shelf? So, here it is, world. Love it or hate it. It was a long time ago. I was a different person than I am now. I wrote these songs.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I'm Back

Well, it's been a little over two years and I'm finally back into my 'musical Kate' shoes. I won't bore you with the details of where I've been. Suffice it to say, I had recurring back troubles that made it almost impossible to play guitar, so I watched a lot of TV instead. Anyway, I'm back. My back is back, and I'm eager to make up for the two years lost on my 'Mixed Tape' project. I've put the final edits in, and the final copy is being reviewed by the publisher right now. I am eager to spread this project to the world, and tell you the stories behind my own songs.

In honor of my comeback, I've decided to tell you some fun facts about one of the most popular 'comeback' themed songs out today - On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons.

1. This song was licensed for a soccer video game in 2013, one of the band's favorite games.

2. The PS22 Chorus sang this song at President Obama's 2nd inauguration.

3. At the end of 2013, this song peaked at position #26 on the US Billboard Hot Rock Songs Chart

So enjoy this great comeback song. I know I'll be humming it to myself as I put the finishing touches on my project!

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Launch

I have finished my book and am working on the unique versions of the original songs to be included with it. I have started a Kickstarter page to try to raise money to print copies of the book and CD. I'm also hoping to spread the word by going on tour this summer. If you love music, partially fictionalized memoirs, original artists, and/or being part of making something small into something huge - please lend your support HERE or click the box above. I will be running a live chat above starting at 8pm on the night of the launch!

For the foreseeable future this blog will take a break from writing about the stories behind the music, and start keeping track of the story behind this project. Thank you in advance to all who choose to support me. I truly appreciate you helping to make my longest lasting dream come true.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Holiday Present

Several weeks ago I put out a Tweet encouraging artists to submit their own song with the story behind it. I received two responses that I wanted to share with you, my readers. My original intention was to put the story into my own words here for you, but then I thought, "who the hell am I?" and so instead, have just decided to post their own words and music here. So here they are, my holiday present for you, because what's better than new music?!

Angelo Melendez - What Isn't

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


This is a week of giving thanks and I have a lot to be thankful for. The list is so long in fact that I could take up a whole blog post with it, but that's not why you are here is it? As turkey day has come creeping upon me it's occurred to me that there really aren't a lot of Thanksgiving songs - except, of course, the Adam Sandler classic. Who doesn't love to eat turkey? Well, unless you're a vegetarian, but I digress. It's kind of pathetic actually given the overwhelming number of Christmas songs in comparison. Why no turkey caroling? Why no radio stations dedicated to thankful music? I say - LAME!

So I started thinking about songs that were about being thankful, or giving thanks or just had something to do with the word thank, and there are actually quite a few (still not enough for a dedicated Sirius channel though). I knew that I couldn't feature them all so I decided to pick the one I thought was the best - "Be Thankful" by Natalie Cole.

This is the perfect song for preparing stuffing, glazing the ham, or singing door to door if you want to pave the way for a new neighborhood tradition. It's simple, catchy, and will be stuck in your head long after the tryptophan has warn off. In addition to that, it has a powerful upbeat message that is sure to make even crabby Aunt Cathy smile. It was actually featured on Natalie's 1977 album - 'Thankful' so if you really wanted to get into the holiday spirit you could play the whole thing, although you would probably only recognize the song "Our Love" as it was the only hit on the album - reaching #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 list.

That's my pick - my turkey jam so to speak - message me on Twitter (@kateoquinn) to tell me yours!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Two out of Three? Seriously?

It was 80's day at the hair stylist yesterday. There was plenty of crimped and feather hair, leg warmers, bangle bracelets, and I'm pretty sure I might've even seen a Member's Only jacket. In addition to the righteous duds, they also had some totally bodacious 80's music playing in the background. Halfway through my snipping, one of the worst songs of the 70's and into the 80's came onto the boombox - "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" by Meatloaf.

This song was on the "Bat Out of Hell" album - sandwiched in between, "You Took the Words Right out of my Mouth" and "Paradise by the Dashboard Light". Now all three songs were written by Jim Steinman, which is interesting only in so far as how one person could write such dramatically different lyrics. 

Of course I, along with every other person alive in the 1980's, has heard this song and pondered to themselves - What kind of an a-hole could actually say that to a woman? - but it didn't occur to me until that moment in the cutting chair how terribly awful that song truly is. What's even more pathetic than the sentiment of the song, is the fact that I haven't been able to get it out of my brain for over 24 hours now. What a depressing earworm. 

So I started thinking that maybe the Loaf was refusing to leave my brain for a reason. The first thing I did was to add a new line to my book referencing the song. It actually hadn't dawned on me until yesterday that the lead character in my book, Jay, was essentially singing this song to me on repeat for almost a year before I realized the mute button was on and opened my ears. With that mission accomplished, the earworm still was burrowing its way into my consciousness. Hence, I'm giving the song its own blog post and hoping that that will be enough for the cheesy music Gods. 

The story behind this song? It was an attempt to write a 'simple' song. It was the last song written for 'Paradise' and in a conversation with a cast member of one of Steinman's musicals (he'd been writing them since school-age) he was asked why he had to write such complicated songs. The challenge became to write something simple. During the conversation, Elvis' "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" was on the radio. Can't you write something simple like that? - So he went home and came up with the chorus, "I want you, I need you, but there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you". He called it his most simple song, and the epitome of cheese had ascended past the likes of "Billy Don't be a Hero," "Seasons in the Sun," and even the impossible to beat, "Disco Duck". 

The only question I can think to ask is which song do you think was the 2nd WORST song of the 1970's?

And one last note - I'd like to give a shout-out to Alex at Lens Crafters for making the proce pick out some awesome stage glasses yesterday. They are purple, sparkly, have a paisley design, and I can't wait to rock them on stage this Friday at the Music Buffet.