The Cranberries – Everybody Else is Doing it, So Why Can’t We? (1993)
Continuing with June’s theme of Women of the ’90s, let’s take a look at why The Cranberries, Everybody Else is Doing it, So Why Can’t We?, is one of my Quintessential Albums.
A Little History:
Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? is the debut album by The Cranberries. Released in 1993, it was their first full-length album after having released four EPs and is also their first major label release.
The album was written entirely by the band’s lead singer Dolores O’Riordan and guitarist Noel Hogan. It reached # 9 in the Irish charts and # 1 in the UK.
The album was re-released in 2002, under the title Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? (The Complete Sessions 1991-1993). This version of the album featured bonus tracks as well as B-sides from the singles lifted off the album. (from Wikipedia)
After the release of a first single, “Dreams” in September 1992, The Cranberries proposed their debut album, Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, in March 1993 (which “Dreams” is featured on). Neither the album nor the single gained much attention, nor did a second single, “Linger”, also on the album.
When the band embarked on a tour supporting Suede, they then caught the attention of MTV, which put their videos into heavy rotation. Although “Linger” was first released in the UK in February 1993, peaking at # 74, it was later re-issued in February 1994 peaking at # 14. (from Wikipedia)
This was followed by “Dreams” (re-released in May 1994, peaking at # 27) which helped their debut album to reach # 1 on the UK Album Chart, becoming one of only five artists to ever achieve a re-entry at that chart position.
After a North American and European Tour, O’Riordan married the band’s tour manager, Don Burton, in July 1994. (from Wikipedia)
What Makes This “Quintessential” to me?
Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? is so completely ’90s to me, not just in sound and style, but in the way it makes me feel like I am back there, back in 1993, living in my favorite apartment on Wilshire with my then husband (though in the same year we would split) and our year old daughter. I could usually be found wearing baby doll floral dresses and crushed velvet leggings, staying up late at the Winged Heart Cafe, and being utterly confused with who I was. I fell out of love that year, and then in it anew not so long after. I had no idea what I was doing with my life, but I was trying hard to figure it out.
This album, every song, it reminds me of sitting in the cafe down the road, after hours, this album playing. I felt lost, but some small part of me felt like I was finding people to belong with. I was trying hard to figure out how to be a Mom, how to go to school still, how to turn a bad relationship into a functional family. It never could.
That year, I met the man who I’d spend a huge chunk of my life with. Who I would live in four different states with, ever chasing the chance to be okay. Together. We had so many dreams. He was broken in ways I could never fix, though I tried. I tried so hard. All the broken parts in me, the times I needed help, he couldn’t stand. He needed me to be the strong one. Always.
We took this album with us. Every step of the way. Every state line, new home, to every stop-and-start. It was part of our shared favorites. We new ever song, we knew every line. He even played one on the guitar, singing to me in our first apartment bedroom, and later, singing it as a lullaby to our first child together.
Though the “hits” on this album suffered from mass overplay for awhile, they persist as great songs, twenty-six years later they still sound incredible.
And the non-radio “hits”? They are gorgeous, emotional, and stunning. The whole album is really.
My Top 5 Favorite Songs:
“Now you’re just walking away (walking away),
when you said you always would stay (always would stay).”
2. “I Still Do”
“Need some time to find myself.”
3. “Put Me Down”
“I can’t take this anymore.
I decided to leave,
Walked out through the door.”
I swore I would be true,
so did you.”
5. “I Will Always”
“I will always,
go beside you,
You will always,
Since it is my birthday, I thought I’d highlight one of my all-time favorite albums. Tori Amos’ From the Choirgirl Hotel. Though I vacillate between four of her albums as being my absolute favorites, it’s this one that I come back to most often.
There will never be another Little Earthquakes, and the impact it had on me in 1992 is immeasurable, and Under the Pink is so connected to who I was in the mid-’90s that I will never lose my ties to it, and oh my stars, the gut-and-heart double-whammy punch of Boys For Pele, I may never be the same.
From the Choirgirl Hotel (1998) by Tori Amos
All that said, though, there is something about From the Choirgirl Hotel that gets me so deeply, at any time, and at any age. It may very well be my favorite Tori. It bypasses nostalgia, it drives over break-ups and memories, living somewhere forever under my skin, and fitting right into wherever I am in my life. From the start of “Spark”, From the Choirgirl Hotel’s got me.
“Spark” by Tori Amos
Are you sure where my Spark is?”
From the Choirgirl Hotel is Tori Amos’ fourth studio album (unless, of course, you count Y Kant Tori Read). When it was released, in 1998, the album was considered a departure from Tori’s previous works. This time around Tori had a full rock band sound, with heavier production than in the past when her sound was more of a minimalist, stripped-down piano sound. But, to me, it still had that rawness that had always been one of the things I love about her music.
Upon its release in May of 1998, the album debuted at #5 in the US and #6 in the UK. While falling short of the #2 debut for Tori’s previous release, Boys for Pele (1996), From the Choirgirl Hotel was Tori’s strongest debut in US sales, selling 153,000 copies in the first week of release.
Tori received two 1999 Grammy nominations, for Alternative Music Performance, and Female Rock Vocal Performance for the song “Raspberry Swirl”.
The lead single, “Spark” became a hit after its release in June 1998 and was followed by “Jackie’s Strength” in September 1998, and then “Cruel/Raspberry Swirl” in November 1998. (from Wikipedia)
“Jackie’s Strength” by Tori Amos
Beene’s got some pot,
you’re only popular with Anorexia.
So I turn myself inside out,
in hope someone will see,
Thematically and conceptually, the “Choirgirl Hotel” of the title refers to the fictional, imaginary place where the songs “live.” Amos pointed out that although the songs are recorded, they are also alive themselves – they can be re-modeled and reshaped in concert etc. Tori imagined the songs as living their own lives, all checking into the “Choirgirl Hotel”, but living separate lives outside the confines of the album.
In the album’s artwork, Tori included a hand-drawn map detailing the stomping ground of these songs.
From the Choirgirl Hotel’s artwork was created by the UK-based photographer, Katerina Jebb. The artwork features full-body color photocopies of Amos (in various couture outfits) as scanned by a human-sized photocopier. (from Wikipedia)
There are so many reasons why From the Choirgirl Hotel is “quintessential” to me, so many connections and emotions and memories are attached to this album, for me. Just listening to it this today, I find myself in tears.
Beyond the memories it evokes, I also feel the here and now when I hear these songs now. I still connect so much to “Northern Lad” (one of my forever favorite Tori songs), and “Playboy Mommy” (which I can’t hear without crying).
Tori has always had an impact on my life, her albums always coming around when I most needed them, or at least that is how it always felt with the first five. There is strength I’ve gathered from her songs, and things I have faced in my life because of entire albums, words I didn’t have to express that I could call to her lyrics to help explain. For me, I felt like her music got me, and I got the music right back.
And the magic of From the Choirgirl Hotel is the never going away kind. I’m always going to want to listen to these songs.
“Northern Lad” by Tori Amos
“Guess you go too far,
when pianos try to be guitars.”
“Northern Lad” hit me first listen. I felt like it described so painfully perfect the relationship I found myself in as the “nineties” came to a close. I would sit on the floor next to my stereo, hitting repeat over and over again, feeling every part of the song so completely. I’d listen to it while I filled pages and pages of handwritten journals, trying to write myself into a solution. I found it eventually, the song acting as a companion and confidante, and eventually as my strength to say “it’s over“.
I would garner that same kind of strength years later with “Jackie’s Strength”, a song that I’ve kept close to me, as a totem, of sorts, for my belief in love even after so many failed attempts at it.
“Playboy Mommy” by Tori Amos
“I’ll say it loud here by your grave,
those angels can’t ever take my place.”
“Spark” and “Playboy Mommy” would break me and piece me back together when I went through my own miscarriage. Both songs still bring me to tears, but sometimes we all need that. I know that I clung so tightly to both tracks when I was trying to face such a loss, finding the smallest solace in at least knowing that I wasn’t alone. They are both such beautiful songs, albeit so very heartbreaking (especially the latter).
The songs from Tori’s From the Choirgirl Hotel have stayed with me, and many of them remain on my life-list of all-time favorite songs. I still go back to them, revisit them, slip them into playlists and sometimes find new connections to them. The album, too, I often listen from start-to-finish, usually letting it play a few times through.
This is an album I’d really like to acquire on vinyl for my own collection someday.
It’s a hard thing to pick a favorite Bowie album. I’ve spent so much of my life with his music, discovering, and re-discovering, hits and deeper cuts alike, album to album. I’ve listened to them on vinyl, cassette, CD, and yes, even 8-Track. Although time has changed what songs hit me, and what albums I gravitate towards, there’s one that has remained consistent, beloved, and even made it to the number 1 spot of Lyriquediscorde’s Top 30 Albums. Hunky Dory.
David Bowie – Hunky Dory
Hunky Dory is David Bowie’s fourth studio album. It was released on December 17, 1971, by RCA Records. It was Bowie’s first release through RCA, which would be his label for the next decade. (from Wikipedia)
The album was recorded at Trident Studios in July 1971, several days after his Glastonbury appearance. Hunky Dory has been said to capture Bowie’s transition from the pot-enhanced rock of The Man Who Sold the World, to the grand concept of Ziggy Stardust. (from BBC Music)
Although I was alive in 1971, I was too young to have taken in Hunky Dory at its “birth”. Bowie wasn’t played in my house, so my access to him took some time. It happened through Duran Duran talking about Bowie and his influence. It was an article with Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, where he mentioned his favorite Bowie song. It was the first Bowie I’d hear. “Starman”.
From there it was a crash-course of Bowie for me. Lucky for me MTV had videos like “China Girl”, “Modern Love”, and “Let’s Dance” on heavy rotation, as did my favorite radio station at the time (KROQ). I wanted more though. I have always been one to dig in deep with artists and bands I fall in love with. Hunky Dory was the first album I bought. On vinyl. And I devoured it.
The album opens with “Changes”. Hearing this song as a teenager was deeply impactful. I related deep beneath my skin, wrapping my insecurities, dreams, and uncertainties on it. I wanted to change just about everything in my life. I wanted to leap into the world and get far away from my world. I wanted to recreate myself and become something new.
Lyrics from “Changes” would open the movie The Breakfast Club, solidifying its teen angst understanding to me. Funny thing though, playing it at age 49 hits me just as deeply. I think we are all longing for some kind of change. Always. I think that desire for change is what living is.
Bowie would touch on so many different aspects of life on Hunky Dory. Some would take years for me to connect with. “Kooks”, which tells the story of a young, unconventional couple and their young child, did not truly resonate with me until I was myself a young and unconventional parent. “Eight Line Poem” would hit me when I was deeply immersed in literature and poetry, during my first run at college in the early ’90s.
And, “Life On Mars?” would knock me completely to the ground in the early 2000s when I’d hear it for what felt like the first time. Something about the song changed me, and it soon became one of my forever favorite Bowie tracks.
Music does that. You hear a song once, twice, a hundred times, and then one day you hear it again and it unravels you, takes you apart and puts you back together, and becomes a part of you. “Life On Mars?” did that to me.
It remains my favorite on the album. What is your favorite track?
My Top 5 Songs from David Bowie’s Hunky Dory
1. “Life On Mars?”
“It’s a God-awful small affair.
To the girl with the mousy hair.
But her mummy is yelling no.
And her daddy has told her to go.”
“Will you stay in our lovers’ story?
If you stay you won’t be sorry.
‘Cause we believe in you.
Soon you’ll grow so take a chance,
with a couple of Kooks,
hung up on romancing.”
3. “The Bewlay Brothers”
“With our backs on the arch,
and if the Devil may be here,
but he can’t sing about that.
Oh, and we were gone,
real cool traders.
We were so turned on,
you thought we were fakers.”
4. “Oh! You Pretty Things”
“Wake up you sleepy head.
Put on some clothes,
shake up your bed.
Put another log on the fire for me,
I’ve made some breakfast and coffee.
Look out my window,
and what do I see?
A crack in the sky and a hand reaching down to me.
All the nightmares came today,
and it looks as though they’re here to stay.”
5. “Eight Line Poem”
“But the key to the city,
is in the sun that pins –
the branches to the sky.”
Welcome to the first edition of ALBUM HIGHLIGHT LYRIQUEDISCORDE, a new series at lyriquediscorde dedicated to albums and music discovery. The first album for “episode one” is Townes Van Zandt’s 1972 album, High, Low and In Between. The album will be part one in a two-part Townes Van Zandt feature, as the CD version I’m listening to is a double album collection, with High, Low and In Between, as well as The Late, Great Townes Van Zandt. It is one of my boyfriend’s albums from one of the first two boxes of music we’ve brought to our house from his storage. He has quite a collection, and I can’t wait to see, and listen to, all of it.
I decided to start with Townes Van Zandt for a few reasons. One, he is part of an early relationship memory between Chris and I. It was one of our first nights spent together, and we were listening to music while lying in bed together, talking, and not talking. We were discussing music, and different artists and bands we liked, and Chris brought up Townes’ music, except that he couldn’t remember his name. From the hints to the style of music and sound of songs, I couldn’t guess it either.
We went a little crazy trying to figure it out. It was like a musical Rumplestiltskin game, except without the first born baby wager. We scanned lists online, searched our musical memories, and did various Google searches until finally, we spotted his name on a country/folk list from the 70’s. It was a huge relief, as silly as that may sound. I’m sure anyone who’s ever wracked their brain to remember a song, or movie, or name of a singer, or actor, will know the kind of relief I mean.
Ever since, its become a shared, fond memory of ours.
Another reason I chose Townes to start off with is that this weekend we are planning to go see the film Blaze, which features Townes as a character (played by Charlie Sexton, another favorite musician of mine).
Oh, and last but not least, Chris has sent me songs of Townes that I’ve loved, and I want to know and hear more. So, here I am. Hearing more. Starting with High, Low and In Between by Townes Van Zant, the first album for the Album Highlight Lyriquediscorde feature.
Townes Van Zandt – High, Low and In Between (1972)
Album Highlight Lyriquediscorde
At first listen, High, Low and In Between feels Southern rooted. I expect to find that it was recorded in Tennessee, or maybe Alabama. But no, the 1971 released album was recorded in Los Angeles, at Larrabee Sound Studios. The album was produced by Kevin Eggers, who had worked with Townes previously. The album features very sparse arrangements, incorporating what has been described as a folk-rock edge.
“Greensboro Woman” by Townes Van Zandt
My favorite track, well tracks really, are “Greensboro Woman” and “Standin'”. The track, “To Live Is To Fly” has been noted as the best on the album, even by Townes himself. I’ll agree it is a good song, but I love the other two just a little bit more.
“Standin'” by Townes Van Zandt
The songs on High, Low and In Between seem to be tales of redemption or the seeking of. There are contemplations on religion and God, questions about love and loss, and sense of self. There are themes that deal with moral dilemmas, and tunes that celebrate both the pleasure of sinning and the joy of being saved.
There are Gospel-soaked numbers that remind me of music my Grandmother used to play and passionately exclaim “amen” to. There is a song about a drunk who falls for a teenage girl, who declares if Heaven has no whiskey or women he is going to the other place. There is a melancholic story-song about a lonely troubadour which seems autobiographical, a mirror to Townes drifter-musician existence.
“To Live Is To Fly” by Townes Van Zandt
The life-affirming “To Live Is To Fly” is one of Townes’ most celebrated songs. In the biography, To Live’s To Fly: The Ballad of the Late, Great Townes Van Zandt (written by John Kruth), Townes is quoted as saying:
“It’s impossible to have a favorite song, but if I were forced at knifepoint to choose one, it would be ‘To Live Is To Fly’.”
Some have speculated that several of the songs on High, Low and In Between were informed by the murder of Towne’s girlfriend Leslie Jo Richards. It was August of 1971, during the Los Angeles recordings of this album. Leslie was abducted while hitchhiking back to Houston from San Diego. She crawled onto a stranger’s doorstep in Leucadia Beach (in San Diego) and begged for help as she bled to death from stab wounds. Her death was said to have devastated Townes.
Townes was also in the throes of a heroin habit while recording the album, an addiction that would continue to plague him throughout his life.
“Highway Kind” by Townes Van Zandt
Another standout song to me is “Highway Kind”. This particular track reminds me of songs from other country-folk/alt-country artists I love, including Ryan Adams, Ryan Bingham, Gillian Welch, Guy Clark, John Prine, and Cowboy Junkies. The latter actually recorded a cover of “Highway Kind” for a Townes Van Zandt cover album.