Amy Mantis


Intensive Listening

Oh my goodness it’s late!  And I didn’t even touch my guitars today - except to pack them up and bring them to Maine.  I really did not play a single note.

But that’s okay.  One of the best parts about songwriting is that you can benefit greatly from listening intensively.  Sometimes I benefit from that more so than I do from sitting down with my guitar.

I drove from Boston to Maine tonight and did some intensive listening on my way.  I spent the day packing, babysitting (aka hanging out with three of the coolest kids I’ve ever known), and catching up with a very dear friend of mine whom I hadn’t spoken to in far too long.  I also woke up late.  These aren’t excuses or reasons - they are what they are.  I used to get mad at myself when I didn’t practice.  I quickly learned that getting mad doesn’t solve the problem.  Practicing as soon as you can does.

Anyway.  Tonight’s intensive listening began after I was unhappy with my radio presets.  Even though SiriusXM usually rocks my world, tonight it all went downhill after Led Zeppelin’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.”  So who did I turn to?

First Tom Petty.  Tom Petty became one of my favorite artists this past year.  May, to be specific.  I feel like every song he’s ever written somehow relates directly to me.  That’s the goal: make the listener feel like you are truly talking to them.  ”Free Falling” is an incredibly simple song.  What’s the chorus?

And I’m free
I’m free fallin’

That’s it.  But we all can relate to that.  Four words.  Four brilliant words that cause people to sing triumphantly with their emotions all over the spectrum.  I get excited just thinking about that.

"Free Fallin’" isn’t one of my favorite Tom Petty songs.  It’s a great song, but I like the following better, with reasons.

In no particular order:

Don’t Come Around Here No More - Who hasn’t felt like that about someone?  Just..don’t come around here no more.  I’m done - we’re through.  Time to move on.  The best part might be the hey’s strategically placed throughout.

I Won’t Back Down - Come on.  This is an anthem for everyone.

Nightwatchman - That riff!  Mike Campbell rocks.  Plain and simple.

Two Gunslingers - It paints a picture, and it has a great ending.  When enemies realize who the enemy really is..I love it.

Honey Bee - One of TP’s heaviest tracks in terms of guitar riffs.  I adore it.

Don’t Do Me Like That - It comes in hard and doesn’t let up.  ”What if I need you baby - don’t do me like that.”  See Don’t Come Around Here No More.

I could list his entire discography.  Tom’s the anti-hero in a lot of ways, but he’s the hero.  Because even the losers get lucky sometimes.  Except he’s not a loser anymore.

Next was Carole King.  I gravitate towards guitar songwriters, but Carole is untouchable.  Tapestry is a masterpiece.  I listened to the bulk of the album and I thought, how do I incorporate Carole King into my own writing?  When I find out I’ll let you know.

Also, I admire Carole King for her passion for singing.  Her voice is unmistakable, and some would argue that’s a bad thing because she’s not exactly a terrific singer.  No, her voice is not silky smooth by any means, but the passion behind it makes up for it.  And the songs are phenomenal.  The biggest difference between Carole and me is that she wants to sing (or fakes it really well), and I don’t.  I thought I did, but that’s for another post.

I went over my time limit.  Oops.  And it’s almost 4AM.

Merry Christmas!

Oh, today’s top five:

Carole King
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Joni Mitchell
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Jeff Beck 

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