Neil Young, Southern Man

Posted in Neil Young on January 25th, 2013 by Willie

I’m back after a LONG break from the site. There are many exciting reasons for this. 1. I’ve been writing for Sheepshead Bites, the #1 local New York City News blog I am proud to say. 2. I planned to upload a LONG time ago with a series of new original music videos, but my camera helpers are currently in India, believe it or not, and those plans fell through. 3. I’ve spent the last month writing some new music which is coming along very shortly, and I’m very excited about. Anyway, here is Neil Young rocking out “Southern Man” in 1974. He is backed up by the immortal Stephen Stills, David Crosby and Graham Nash among others. I love this song. The lyrics are righteously howled by Young, an appropriate anthem in the wake of the excellent “Django Unchained” movie, which I recently saw twice in theaters and have grown to love. Classic rock radio loves to play “Sweet Home Alabama,” in which the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd famously trashed Young for this song, but they always forget to bookend it with “Southern Man.” While “Sweet Home” is uptempo and fun, everyone forgets how dark and destructive Neil’s masterpiece is. Personally, I’d much rather rally around an anthem that shames racism as beautifully as possible in a pop context then a song extolling the virtues of southern pride. The footage below is beautiful, the guitar solo rocks and the song is one of rocks greatest ever. Enjoy.

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Making More Rock And Roll, Deconstructing Sgt. Pepper

Posted in The Beatles, Willie Simpson's Original Music on December 1st, 2012 by Willie

Well, I haven’t updated the ole’ website in a good while, and the reason is because I’m still making more rock and roll. The intention of this humble little corner of internet space was never to be a daily rock and roll blog, that happened more or less organically. The site was created to feature my music, and to that end, my album, which I’ve previewed extensively on this site, is nearly finished. The album in question, which I’ve named Funeral Business, is something I’m growing increasingly proud of. The album art, which the ever lovely Sonia Rapaport created, is the thing you’re looking at right above. Right now I’m collaborating on one last tune with Andrew Lee, and from there, the future promises to reflect the glimmering wonderfulness to be entailed within it. I’m planning a mini documentary movie in the coming weeks about the creation of the record, and a further reflection on my thoughts on rock and roll and what it means to me. Its a flourish of self centered activity that I find rather distasteful, but necessary to further spread the joy this music has brought to me. I want to thank all my friends and family who have helped me along the way here, and I also want to post this incredibly cool video someone made deconstructing the “Sgt. Pepper” song, because it goes against everything in my nature to provide an update without some music. This little video is really fascinating, breaking the song down into its component parts, giving you a sense of how the Beatles created their masterpieces. You will also be hypnotized by those groovy multicolored lines of sonic goodness. Enjoy.

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The Who, Pinball Wizard

Posted in The Who on October 15th, 2012 by Willie

My pal Jimm D. found this video, and boy do I owe him a thank you. This performance of “Pinball Wizard” by the Who is one of the single greatest rock and roll displays of all time. While I’m pretty sure that the instrumentation is mimed, as was the case in many 60s era television clips, the singing was live, evidenced by a few missed notes by Townshend. Whatever, this performance, whatever it is, shows the Who at their most dynamic, engaging, and most star powered. The best part is the dearly departed Keith Moon miming the words behind Roger Daltry’s back in hilarious English “goon” like insanity. In the fashion department, thumbs up to John Entwistle’s horrible attempt at a Fu Man Chu mustache. Its funny, I never was the greatest fan of this song until I saw this clip, its that unbelievably good, so enough of my hype, (50 years late) and just play this thing and dream about what rock and roll could still be, if only someone was good enough to try.

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The Rolling Stones, Wild Horses

Posted in The Rolling Stones on July 21st, 2012 by Willie

There is something about “Wild Horses,” something quite emotional.  I remember driving home one snowy night when I was a 19 year old, thinking how perfect the song was against the lightly falling snow.  Every time I hear it, time just seems to slow down, and it feels like the whole world is listening, all strung out on this gorgeous song.  I really don’t have much to say about this song that hasn’t already been said.  This post is just to honor a classic, plain and simple.  The footage is taken from the “Gimmie Shelter” documentary, famous for unfortunately violent concert the Stones threw at Altamont Speedway, California in 1969.  At that concert, a member of the Hell’s Angels stabbed a man to death, a public slaying at what was supposed to be a happy event, horribly caught on film.  Today, everyone is still reeling from the shooting at the Colorado movie theater, another massacre at what should have been an otherwise fun public spectacle.  I don’t really have much commentary about that except for guns are evil, and the Rolling Stones “Wild Horses” casts the appropriate somber atmosphere for these grim times.  Lastly, my heart goes out to the victims and there families.  RIP.

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Paul McCartney's John Lennon Tribute, Here Today, Most Emotional Performance Ever

Posted in Paul McCartney on July 18th, 2012 by Willie

I’m nearly done with Peter Doggett’s excellent biography, You Never Give Me Your Money, a book that chronicles in precise detail the breakup of the Beatles.  The book is one of the best Beatle books I’ve ever read, mainly because it delves into the Beatles’s complex interpersonal relationships and not so much their broader history of artistic and cultural achievements.  The book details a moment in 2007 when ever self-conscious Paul McCartney is playing for 200 people at a California record shop, and nearly breaks down in tears singing his John Lennon tribute song, “Here Today.”  The book describes the moment as one of, “naked reality almost unmatched in his career, a gesture of love and pain, and a wound that could never be healed.”  Immediately after I read that line, I put the book down and raced to the internet.  I was lucky enough to find the performance generously persevered on youtube by a fan filming Paul with their camera phone.  The film is letter-boxed and a bit grainy, but the sound is good, and the moment is captured wonderfully.  Paul plays his guitar beautifully, and visibly has trouble holding back his tears.  Paul himself commented that he saw a young girl weeping in the audience, and once his eyes locked with hers, his emotion just poured out.  “Here Today,” from 1982’s Tug of War, is one of the most haunting and bittersweet Paul McCartney songs ever.  I’ve always felt a deep desire to hear more from Paul in this song and this subject, but its the nature of the song, and the nature of John’s death, that makes it impossible.  Its a masterpiece coming from an artist of unparallelled decency.  Check it out.

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Derek and the Dominos, Presence of the Lord, Covered by Andrew Lee

Posted in Andrew Lee, Derek and the Dominos, Eric Clapton on July 11th, 2012 by Willie

Andrew Lee is an amazing guitar player.  Better then amazing actually, a genius.  How do I know?  Well outside of the fact that he has played lead on a ton of my recordings, including this one, he has just today started making no frills videos showcasing his incredible talent.  The video below shows Andrew, matching Eric Clapton of Derek and the Dominos, note for bloody note.  Andrew’s casual perfection was attained through a hard earned, borderline servile dedication to blues music, a dedication that if you know him in person, is awe inspiring.  Andrew is a real talent who pours genuine emotion into everything he does with a guitar, so please, just take a few minutes to bask in the “Presence of the Lord,” and remember who brought you there, Andrew LEE!

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Paul McCartney, Coming Up

Posted in Paul McCartney on June 27th, 2012 by Willie

This is my all time favorite solo Paul McCartney music video.  It would have been on the site years ago, but I could never find a version of it on youtube that I was able to embed on my website.  Those days are over, so, at long last, I can proudly paste “Coming Up,” on williesimpson.com.  The song, which kicked off the otherwise disappointing McCartney II, is one of solo Paul’s best ever.  Its a bubbling psychedelic techno folk anthem of positivity.  The song, and its genius accompanying video which debuted on Saturday Night Live, was so good, that it kicked a then retired John Lennon in the balls to start making pop music again.  John famously claimed that he couldn’t get the song out of his head, and also thought that he could do exactly what Paul was doing, saturating the pop music scene with delicious little throwaway pop numbers.  Personally, I believe it was the first ember that would spark the eventual reunion that never happened in the late 80s/early 90s.  I’ve posted about it before, but what people don’t really understand about the Beatles Anthology, was that it was decades in the making, with John having a firm hand in its creation, all with the idea that some sort of reunion would happen one day on an important anniversary.  Despite John’s needing to distance himself from the whole Beatle circus, he knew deep down that it was a special achievement in his life, and that one day, he’d have to take the effort to put the Beatle thing its place and history, from his, and the other Beatles’ perspectives.  Anyway, that is stuff that has little to do with “Coming Up,” and its hilarious music video that you should watch right now.  “Feel it in my bones!”

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Paul McCartney, Heart of the Country

Posted in Paul McCartney on May 28th, 2012 by Willie

Its the conclusion of Ram week, a jolly excursion if there ever was one, and I’m drawing the final curtain with “Heart of the Country.”  This song is one of those perfect folk/blues/country acoustic ballads that Paul McCartney had no trouble pulling out of his pants.  It sounds like an outtake from the “White Album,” which is to say that its so good that it could have easily fit on that classic Beatles record.  The song is about the search for happiness by way of pastoral living coming from one of the most well traveled superstars in the world.  This sort of song is the reason that Paul McCartney is really beloved.  He gets a lot of crap for being the commercial Beatle, but in reality, he was just as down to earth as any of the Beatles, which of course is true because the Beatles would have been nowhere near as successful if they hadn’t possessed that quality in spades.  They are authentic people, and this is an authentic song.  Much like John Lennon proclaimed that George Harrison’s “Within You, Without You,” was George at his “most clear and direct,” I feel that this song falls in the same category.  Paul was finding genuine joy getting out of London, buying a farmhouse, getting some animals, and having to just tell everybody about this simple pleasure.  Its a great tune from a great album, and I hope you enjoy it as much as me.  Ram on….

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Paul McCartney, Dear Boy

Posted in Paul McCartney on May 22nd, 2012 by Willie

“Dear Boy,” is one of my favorite cuts off Ram.  Its a delicious piece of angry piano pop that has the added benefit of messing with John Lennon’s head.  When Paul wrote this song, he wrote it as an autobiographical message to himself, commenting on how lucky he was to meet and fall in love with Linda.  John Lennon heard something different.  John interpreted the lyrics as being a direct attack on John’s decision to kill the Beatles, claiming that his love for Yoko, while wonderful and special, was not the be all and all, and that he’ll end up regretting giving up Beatle magic for a love affair.  Personally, that’s the way I always heard it too.  The song makes less sense when Paul McCartney himself is the subject of his razor sharp lyricism, but makes perfect sense if he is singing to John.  Paul, ever affable and diplomatic, of course would never admit that this song is about John, and it probably wasn’t, but his relationship with John was such that he was almost certainly writing about him subconsciously, a fact Paul would probably cop to.   The point is, whether intentional or not, this is essential post-Beatle breakup listening, and one of Paul’s most clever pop songs.  RAM!…WEEK!….continues!

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Paul McCartney, Monkberry Moon Delight

Posted in Paul McCartney on May 19th, 2012 by Willie

If you glance over the music trade papers (or internets) as I do on occasion, you might have noticed on the periphery that Paul McCartney is planning a re-release of his incredibly great solo album Ram.  Now Ram is quite simply one of my favorite albums of all time.  It’s easily my favorite solo McCartney album by a mile, and rotates in and out of the #1 spot for my own personal best solo Beatle album list.  At the time of its release,  Ram was unjustly criticized by rock critics for a bunch of complicated reasons.  One of them was that many of the tunes are credited to both Paul and Linda McCartney, a fact many cynical rock people had trouble swallowing.  John Lennon himself took offense to the album as two songs on there, “Too Many People,” and “Dear Boy,” had biting little obscure inside jokes, or digs at John and Yoko.  I’ll cover those songs and their natures later this week though.  Anyway, the point is, everybody was caught up in the bullshit of Ram, and not the music.  Now, objectively, the music on Ram is basically as good as anything you’d find on the “White Album.”  If you loved what McCartney was doing in 1968, you’ll love what he was doing in 1971.  It’s the only way I can describe it, Ram is Paul McCartney’s “White Album” songwriting stylizations part II.  Its Paul at his psychedelic best.  Just take a listen to “Monkberry Moon Delight,” in many ways Paul’s response to “I am the Walrus.”  It’s a frenzied piano stomping masterpiece of jibberish.  You can almost see Paul frothing at the mouth, mashing the keys the so hard that it detunes the piano.  It’s a cult classic, and if you never heard it, you’re in for quite the treat, so check out the song below, and watch the fantastic assortment of Paul and Linda home movies that go along with it.  Ram on….

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