Pretty Heart

Pretty Heart

I’ve been listening to music and answering my e-mail.

I started off listening to the Spotify Top 50, and a few songs in I wondered who this music was made for. It’s all surface with no soul, made to be played in the background. As for the vaunted Taylor Swift…this is what all the critics are raving about? It seemed like she was busy studying the business trying to figure out how to make a strategic strike. As for working with Jack Antonoff…he’s not only a producer, he’s a writer and Taylor’s not the only one to use him, so uniqueness is difficult. As for these tracks, Taylor’s voice is not in service to them, it’d be like having Judy Collins making a record with Max Martin. And so what you end up with is something catchy that does not penetrate, it’s not made to do that, it’s made to satiate the crowd, whereas Taylor triumphed originally by connecting one to one, opening her heart to the equally wounded, who adopted her first.

So I switched to Release Radar, and the first track was an amalgamation of artists as disparate as Andra Day, Gary Clark, Jr. and…CHUCK D? And Sheryl Crow. Sounds atrocious doesn’t it? BUT IT’S NOT!

I’ve got a love/hate relationship with Sheryl Crow. I was not a fan of “Tuesday Night Music Club,” but everyone said she couldn’t do it all by her lonesome, but eventually she triumphed with “The Globe Sessions,” where she was totally in charge and it was great, sales were boosted by highly produced videos, but the music was totally listenable.

And then “Soak Up The Sun” was just too obvious. And I guess I had a problem with the facelift. She was selling honesty, I figured it would be best to age naturally. But she did have a hit, and then the bottom fell out not only for Sheryl Crow but the sound she was selling, anybody who was not rapping, to the point where you can release a new album and we don’t even know about it. Hell, Sheryl put out a live album last year and I just found out about it when I went to her page on Spotify, see what I mean?

Oh yeah, one more thing, “Safe and Sound,” premiered in Jimmy Iovine’s 9/11 concert, when we were all ensconced in our homes afraid to go anywhere. When you “get” a song the first time through you know it’s something special, when you can sing it to yourself after hearing it only once, when you wait for it to come out on wax…actually I had to steal the file on Macster, that’s how much I had to hear it.

But that was nearly two decades ago, before the streaming revolution, before it became all hip-hop all the time, before you could tour playing your old hits but the crowd went to the bathroom when you played something new.

Now there’s been a ton of print hype on Sheryl’s new record, about the collaborators, her saying it’s her last…yeah, right, even Sinatra could not retire, players don’t give up until they can’t play anymore, it’s in their blood.

But liking “Story of Everything,” the track referenced above, I clicked over to the new album, “Threads,” and the second song, entitled “Live Wire,” with Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples had that roots rock, gut-punching honest sound Bonnie specializes in. It was good, even though it shouldn’t be, haven’t we heard enough of these collaboration albums before, didn’t it become a cliche? But the game with “Threads” is almost all the songs are new! A twist on the formula.

“Tell Me When It’s Over,” featuring Chris Stapleton had the vibe, the feel of one of his tracks, you know, laid back, but penetrating, the kind that starts your head nodding and…

Joe Walsh wails on “Still The Good Old Days.”

I can’t say that Sheryl’s vocal always fits the track, but I’m nearly stunned. What should be nostalgic crap is anything but. Sure, she’s a brand name, but that’s what gets you attention in today’s world. If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool rocker, ever liked Sheryl Crow, you should check “Threads” out. It suffers from digital reproduction, it’d be best on vinyl, but crank it up and feel it.

But back to the e-mail. I came across a missive from my number one country guru, the guy who got me into modern country, the subject line said: “New Track -Its gonna be big”

And it will be.

I pulled up Parker McCollum’s “Pretty Heart,” released only two days ago, and as soon as it hit the chorus, I got it, this was definitely gonna be a hit.

This is what too many musicians don’t understand, they want acclaim, they want an audience, they believe the system is rigged against them, but the truth is they don’t know how to write a hit.

What makes “Pretty Heart” a hit is the chorus. It gets into your system immediately. After that the groove resonates, as do the lyrics.

I tried to do research on Parker, but there was not much info. I couldn’t figure him out. He’d put out indie albums previously and…

I went back to the e-mail, and it said:

He will sell 3000 tickets tonight in Waco, TX
He has 128,000 followers on twitter
This was all built before the label got involved
This is 1st Universal Records Signing release

Ah, I’ve got it now, it sounds like a major label record, it’s not gonna change the world, but I had a yearning to find out what garnered Parker McCollum so much attention. I went to Spotify and played “Hell of a Year,” with 8,362,572 streams, and it’s the opposite of “Pretty Heart,” it’s much less produced, and totally genuine, you can resonate. And “Meet You In The Middle” was just as strong. So this guy is for real, he’s writing his own songs, he decided to do it himself, and he built his own fan base, illustrating it doesn’t only happen in hip-hop.

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