If you just started following my V-Week blogs, I’m posting a video of myself performing a different cover song about love each of Monday through Thursday this week before posting a new original song on Friday. If you missed them, be sure to check out the other videos I’ve already posted:
And now it’s time for some Tom Waits action…
Hold on… Tom Waits?
Those of you who’ve been to our acoustic concerts know that my version of Hold On differs drastically from the original. Tom Waits’ version of the song is what I would call “texture music.” He blends instruments and vocals into a beautifully complex sound that breathes slowly from the beginning to the end of the song. My version, on the other hand, simplifies the music into a more rock feel, which in turn puts a greater focus on Tom’s absolutely incredible lyrics.
The other significant change I’ve made to the original is in the third verse. In the original version, Tom sings, “St. Louis got the best of me.” I don’t know what the line means, but I have to assume that it relates to a personal experience. I don’t think that singing a line I don’t understand in any way preserves the heart of the song, so I have changed the line to “Phoenix stole the soul from me,” which relates a personal experience of my own, thereby preserving both the cryptic nature of the line in the audience’s ears and maintaining the level of personal investment on the part of the artist.
Love: Romantic and Otherwise
The story told in “Hold On” obviously includes plenty of romance and heartbreak, but the instance of love which I find most moving is of an entirely different kind.
I recorded the vast majority of Chrysalis myself, did all of the editing and mixing myself, and put more than one hundred hours into the album art. I spent my entire life savings (and then some) publishing Chrysalis and am solely responsible for marketing it. I wrote every note of every instrument on that CD. I wrote both Believe and No Way Home as alternatives to suicide. I literally have more hours in Chrysalis than in college and law school combined.
The end result of all of this work, however, is little more than a prayer. Chrysalis is my outstretched palm. Its value comes from the connection that it makes with listeners–when people play my songs and for a moment, their hearts connect with mine.
Today, people tell me about them and it moves me to no end. Now, when I take the stage and feel the hearts of the audience. When I was putting in the vast majority of those long, painful hours, though, there was nobody listening. There was no connection, no validation, and no music. All I had was hope and the song inside my head.
The second half of the fourth verse of “Hold On” sings the story of that experience in a way so moving that I’ve never been able to sing it without throwing my entire heart into it. There’s certainly a story of romance in this song, but what I find most moving is this short story about my heart:
But it’s so hard to dance that way; when it’s cold and there’s no music. Your old hometown’s so far away, but inside your head, there’s a record playing a song called ‘Hold On.’
Hold On, by Tom Waits
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