Lisa Lauren

Satellite radio has not been the same since Lee Abrams’s departure.

I don’t want to be an apologist for Mr. Abrams, but that sluts video that got him fired at the "Tribune"…he was Dixie Chicked.  There was no uproar at first.  It was all after the fact.

Not that I believe the "Tribune" staff shouldn’t have been fired.  Radio guys running newspapers?  Isn’t that like baseball managers becoming football coaches?

But what made Mr. Abrams so great, so effective at XM, was his elimination of all the radio b.s., the shuck and jive, along with "Stairway To Heaven" and "Free Bird" and all the burned out tracks that we never need to hear again in our life.  XM was made for fans. And fans built it.

Until Hugh Panero destroyed it by failing to make a deal with Howard Stern.

And now the Sirius brass is in charge of satellite radio.  And all the lame bumpers, all the stuff that appeals to no human being but consultants think is necessary, is stuffed into the cracks, along with all the tuneouts.

But not on every station.

I can no longer sell satellite radio.  Whereas I used to be a free evangelist.  But that was eight years ago, a lifetime in the media world.  But I still listen, because it’s better than anything else, but not as good as it could be and once was.

Which is an extremely long introduction to telling you about tracks I heard on the Coffee House yesterday.  Hell, that’s an original Sirius station.  And it’s not cohesive, it’s got jive bumpers, but every once in a while I hear a song that elates me, changes my life, if only for a few minutes on the highway.

Like "Marry Me".

I was a huge fan of Train before they started swinging for the fences.  Do you know "I Am" and "Free" from their debut?  You should.

And now I’m a fan again.  Because "Marry Me" is exquisite.

It’s not my favorite song on this subject, that would be Don Henley’s cover of Larry John McNally’s "For My Wedding" on "Inside Job".  Still, the feel, the vibe of "Marry Me" is what music does best.  It’s wistful, it’s personal, it penetrates you because it’s so simple.  Don’t even bother to listen to the lyrics, just marinate in the sound.

Eventually I heard "When I Was In Your Heart".  After my doctor’s appointment.  I haven’t gotten David Gray since "White Ladder".  He changed his sound, the records were slick, they didn’t touch me in the same way.  But this???  If you were ever a fan, check this out.  It’s almost creepy, you almost want to leave the room.  It’s like you stumbled on your best buddy alone in a room and you just can’t handle the raw intensity.  This isn’t reflection, David is still feeling these feelings.  And nothing you say to him will be able to soothe him, to make him lighten up and forget.  This is so honest, so real that it almost scares you.

But right after that Train track, I heard a cover of "Love Me Do".

That’s a cheap shot, right?  Covering the Beatles?  Covering anybody?  But this version was rearranged just enough to be different, and to add insight.  I mean "Love Me Do" is one of the simplest Beatle songs, from the very beginning, it’s sing-songy, it’s about the rhythm, the sound.  But Lisa Lauren’s version is also about the lyrics.  Suddenly, I got them, in a way I never did listening to the original.

Lisa Lauren?  Who’s that?

I e-mailed myself her name.  And just Googled her.

She’s not famous enough to have her own Wikipedia page.

But she did work with David Sanborn…come on, he’s GREAT!

And "Love Me Do" is from a complete album of Beatles covers. Which I pulled up in Spotify (they were in Spotify??)  Then I played "Dear Prudence".  It had the same magic of "Love Me Do"…  It was just different enough to be enticing.

The Coffee House is all acoustic music.  Usually live takes, although all three of these are studio originals.  You won’t hear any of this stuff on Top Forty radio, but that doesn’t mean it’s not great, that it’s not worth your time.

It’s like we’re living in 1968 all over again.  All the good stuff’s on FM, AM is a wasteland.  If you hate today’s music, I get it.  Because the mainstream stuff that’s being jammed down your throat is too often crap.  Did you read Jon Pareles’s story about the minimalism of today’s tracks in last Sunday’s "New York Times" ("Want A Hit? Keep It Simple":  Pretty soon, a track will just be a shout.  Or a beat.  Or a yelp. Something a consultant can point to in callout research to get those not playing by their guts to program by.

But we know better.  We know it’s all about your gut.  It’s about feeling.  It’s about thought.

Play this shit.  It’ll turn your head.  You won’t be able to say there’s no good music anymore.

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