Monday, April 7, 2008

Introduction:-->Graham Parker and Some Lost Diamonds

"I remember rainy nights I thought I'd drown.
Was it London, New York, Paris or Amsterdam?
I forget the details now, I must admit.
But you were there through all of it.
And it shook me, and I'm still shaking now."
Graham Parker

Although never quite reaching the same commercial level of success as some of his peers...Graham Parker has been writing and performing incredible songs for over 30 years.

Often compared to Elvis Costello (who I like as well)...I find Graham Parker's songwriting and his "on the sleeve" vocals much more varied and interesting. In fact, in making my top 50 living songwriters list...I have Parker easily making the cut. (an artist Paste magazine ignored on their list..oops!).

Parker's clever turn of a phrase and honest observations will make any "wordsmiths of song" smile in understanding. Sadly, hearing any songs from this legitimate RnR HOF candidate on the radio is nye on impossible.

This underrated singer/songwriter has recorded 23 studio albums and several live offerings...and simply has been too good/too long to go on being ignored.

For those in the is my list of twelve great Graham Parker songs to seek out and add to your ever expanding musical crayon box.
Check It Out.

1) "And It Shook Me"--------------------Struck By Lightning (1991)
"Some believe in a heaven up above
with a God that forgives all with his great love.
Well I forgive you if you forgive me, hey! who needs the third party anyway.
And it shook me and I'm still shaking now."

2) "Gypsy Blood"-------------------------Howlin' Wind (1976)
"Now don't you try to put it down. Don't pour cold water over me,
'cause I've been up and I've been down. She's the warmest thing I've ever seen,
'cause she got red hot gypsy blood keeping me warm tonight."

3) "Love Gets You Twisted"-----------Squeezing Out Sparks (1979)
"When she's in my arms I get tangled up it's true.
I can't see the other point of view.
Love gets you twisted. Love gets you twisted. Love gets you twisted.
Screw yourself up. Screw yourself up."

4) "Stick to the Plan"---------------------Don't Tell Columbus (2007)
She brought Jesus out of hock and
put Mary on the side with some fries.
Meanwhile, in the closet there's a funny little man
with a Bunsen burner and a pen in hand.
Writing his theory and checking his chemistry set.
But it's only a theory so don't place any bets yet."

5) "You Hit The Spot"--------------------Another Grey Area (1982)
"You hit the spot...everybody makes me cringe.
It's worth a shot...I'd rather burn than singe.
When the walls close in...I feel crushed.
I'll take your calls...I'll take your loving touch."

6) "You Can't Be Too Strong"-----------Squeezing Out Sparks (1979)
"Well I ain't gonna cry, I'm gonna rejoice
And shout myself dry, and go see the boys.
They'll laugh when I say, I left it overseas."

7) "Devil's Sidewalk"---------------------The Up Escalator (1980)
Had a minor...misunderstanding
with a street night.
The smell of burning rubber...hit my senses.
I thought I'd reach the other side."

8) "The Kid With The Butterfly Net"---Struck by Lightning (1991)
"And when you see her by the see what you want to.
And all the chains around you cannot keep you prisoner.
They haven't been made yet...for the kid with the butterfly net."

9) "Life Gets Better"----------------------The Real Macaw (1983)
"I used to think that it all stopped happening
By the time you reached twenty one.
They said there's nothing like the first love you get.
Boy, they were wrong, oh so wrong.

10) "Passion Is No Ordinary Word"---Squeezing Out Sparks (1979)
"It worked much better in a fantasy.
Imagination's one thing that comes easy to me.
Cause this is nothing else...if not unreal.
When I pretend to touch you, you pretend to feel."

11) "Partner for Life"-----------12 Haunted Episodes (1995)
"From the backyard to the wide, wide open spaces.
From the pounding of the the gentleness of your smile.
We're in this together...going the distance
right down to the last mile."

12) "Wrapping Paper"--------------------Struck by Lightning (1991)
"I've broken your glass, called someone a dirty name,
Made a nuisance of myself in front of friends.
I've dug my own grave, please don't let me lie in it.
Instead let's bury everything that caused us pain."

Definitely check these gems out. You'll be pleasantly surprised if you've never listened to GP.
And I'm only scraping the edges. If I missed one of your favorites let me know.
Good stuff!

Graham Parker on Letterman performing
"Passion Is No Ordinary Word"...Good Stuff!


Graham Parker:-->"And It Shook Me" (Struck By Lightening) (1991) (Must Own)


Anonymous said...

Glad to see someone else apreciates this legend. Parker would have been bigger but never really played the game.

I was given Stick to Me as a Xmas present (yes Parker was mainstream enough then to be on High St shopping !!) and loved the energy, then sought out the two earlier ones. With New wave taking off in 78 it was an odd choice to release a three side live album, with 4th side a 12" single of old stuff. The Parkerilla didnt fit.

Luckily for him the next two Squeezing out Sparks and the Up Escalator were fantastic records and probably why he has been able to keep finding new labels so long.

He then seemed to disappear, his 80s records Another Grey Area and the one with a bird on the cover the Real Macaw were lifeless and so out of sync with anything. (Costello at least tried to keep up with his awful Goodbye Cruel World !!)

I dont have anything else until the 90s and now find I seem to have a new Parker album every two years - If he keeps making them I keep getting them. I now have 16 so I'll search out the other 7 !!

Now in my middle age I have a handful of artists who I get whatever they produce, Parker Costello, Morrison, Ryan Adams, Springsteen, Dylan, Lowe. So good company.

I also think Sufjan Stevens, Ben Folds, and Josh Rouse will join them soon !!

Casey said...

You're absolutely right. Graham Parker was mis-labeled from the start...being lumped with every other 'New Wave' artist like The Cars or Thomas Dolby.

Even Tom Petty was lumped in the same genre as Oingo Boingo and on & on.

Parker could never recover from this label...and his management was no help.

Parker has whithered the storms his new stuff adds testament, too.

Graham Parker has been under-rated and sadly ignored his entire career...But if he able cuts a track through the Midwest...I'm there!
Thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

'Difference between you and Me' from Howlin' Wind

'Fools Gold' from Heat Treatment

'Nothings Gonna Pull Us Apart' from Howlin' Wind

'Watch The Moon Come Down' from Stick To Me

'Hotel Chambermaid' from Heat Treatment

Casey said...

Leatherbag...My hardest choices was deciding which tune to pull from..."Heat Treatment" & "Howlin' Wind".
Both are filled with great tracks.
Parker is such an underrated songwriter.