Have You Seen Ferguson Hodges? A Two Kinds Of Light Playlist.
The Little Ones was written for piano. Piano lends itself certain to harmonic and melodic ideas, which are on display in this playlist. This playlist also includes different genres of songs which influenced The Little Ones, 2019.
Coming July 31st 2020, look for The Little Ones 2.0 Remix.
Spotify is kind of a mystery to this old dog. I’m just kinda getting the hang of this ‘playlist’ thing. Well, actually, it’s nothing new. In a way it’s just a newer version of an old past-time, recording favorite songs onto cassette tapes.
My first good tape deck was a Toshiba deck that I bought at a stereo store. Maybe Pacific Stereo? Back in ’79 or ’80? I couldn’t afford a new one. I bought this one as a demo-floor-model, and connected it to a small Harmon-Kardon stereo AM/FM radio receiver, and a JVC direct drive turntable. When I got this rig together, it was as if I’d arrived. I was rockin’.
One of the main functions of the tape deck, was, it served the purpose of copying albums onto cassettes. So you could then listen to the albums on a tape deck in the car. Or on a ghetto blaster. You’d buy blank cassette’s, that were better than the store-bought pre-recorded albums that you could get on tape. Better than ‘normal’ tape, these were Chrome tapes. TDK. Or Memorex. You could record songs off your FM radio receiver that was hooked directly to the deck. And mix those selections, with songs off your vinyl album collection off your turntable. Putting songs together this way was a form of storytelling, really.
I think the term “mix-tape” eventually came into being. But I don’t remember, calling these tapes that, back then. Putting together this Spotify playlist reminds me of those days. Except it’s a hell of a lot easier now. As a kid, you’d sit there waiting for a song to play on the radio, with your finger on the record button. Hoping to hit the record button at just the right time, and hoping it’d be a good song. This new Spotify way of playlisting lends itself to telling a more complete, or more comprehensive story, with a playlist. I can search specific songs, and also explore newer things, or things I didn’t even know existed.
I wanted to tell you a story about this song, The Little Ones. I was thinking about how the melody of The Little Ones would never have happened had, I tried to write it on guitar. I’d learned to play the Eagles’ Desperado on my piano. Believe it or not, 'Desperado', was the song that served as an inspiration for The Little Ones. Not so much in it’s emotional vibe, or rhythm. But in the way the Eagles used chord extensions, and such, to create their melody for that song. To me, it’s a completely different approach to composition, than composing on the guitar. The guitar to me, is a rock n roll machine. When I’m writing on one, I usually drive directly to where I’m going, and get right to the point. Where-as writing on piano, I feel more like a passenger, rather than the driver. I get to look around. Check out the scenery. Maybe see a different way to get to where I’m going.
In The Little Ones, the piano melody informed the lyrics. The lyrics about those little critters. In turn, the lyrics informed the guitar parts. When it all came together my sister said it sounded like 70’s glam rock. Upon review I had to agree. Maybe it represents a combination of my latest eighty-eight key explorations, with the glam and pop rock that I absorbed, going back to my vinyl record and cassette days of the 70’s and early 80’s. It was with this song in mind that I tried to create a playlist that explores these pathways. Pathways that lead to, and from, this song.
'Since You’ve Been Gone' was a song by Rainbow. It was one of my favorite songs by them. I was thinking about that song. Searching for it on Spotify and I found this updated version on piano, by the original composer, Russ Ballard. I love how it represents this same combination of mixing the pop-rock of old, with new melodic pathways that are organic to the piano. This was the jumping off point for me, in creating this playlist.
Mott The Hoople’s Greatest Hits was a record my older brother brought home, when I was a pre-teen. It was huge. I appropriated that record every chance I got. Ian Hunter rocked the piano hard on that record. The singing guitar notes of Mick Ralphs and Aerial Bender, playing on their Les Paul Juniors, represents a tone that I still chase to this day. I hear it in The Little Ones. I added some T-Rex for good measure to the playlist, because it helps tell part of the story, “I was dancing when I was twelve”. The glam-hit by The Sweet, ‘Little Willy’, was a 45 that I bought in grade school. The innuendo that’s obvious now, was lost on me as a kid. I just thought it was about some kid named Willy. Who wouldn’t go home! All this stands in stark contrast to the Americana styling which I'm known for these days on guitar. Taking up the piano now, seemed to create an alchemy which really brought me back to my real roots, rock n roll.
I learned John Hiatt’s, ‘Have A Little Faith In Me’, on piano. It’s the first real song, outside of a beginner’s songbook, that I learned on piano. When I first heard the album ‘Bring the Family’ back in the 80’s, I thought, "someday I’m going to learn that song". The next song I learned on piano, after that, was Desperado. I included these, because these songs are the basis for my piano playing. The Danny Whitten penned, ‘I Don’t Want to Talk About It’, is just a pretty song that maybe someday I’ll learn on the piano. I love the acoustic guitar and slide on the original, but I think it would kill on piano. ‘Shine the Light on Me’, and ‘On the Table’ are newer examples of songs that I like, using the Ebonies and the Ivories to play rock music.
On July 31st you’ll be able to hear The Little Ones 2.0 on Spotify and other streaming sites. We re-mixed it to bring out the piano a little bit more. It was, after all, written on piano. The new 2.0 version also has the entire piano intro, which was abbreviated for the 2019 'I Can Shine' album. And it has new backing vocals added by Terry and Lacey Watkin, too. I hope you enjoy it!
I hope you playlist some Two Kinds Of Light, too!
Salty Rose, 2020
Here is the YouTube Video featured on the Two Kinds of Light YouTube Channel-