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On Repeat: October 6, 2023
Stevie Nicks, Dixie Chicks, Chappell Roan, Aretha, and Etta.
I haven’t done one of these in a while, so herewego.
First off, I kicked off Spooky SZN last Sunday night (October 1) with Stevie Nicks at Madison Square Garden. Aside from some fuckery on Ticketmaster’s side (adding hidden fees after making the tickets unavailable to purchase), it was a fantastic evening. Stevie sounds incredible and delivered a killer set, in addition to the surprise unveiling of her brand new Barbie doll.
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I’m a Stevie novice at best. I know some of the hits and that’s it, but I always value getting acquainted with more of an artist’s music at a show. Sunday night was no exception. I was also thrilled to discover a remix single on Spotify while on my morning cycle the following day. The remixes happen to be for one of the songs I enjoyed most at the show, “Stand Back.”
As I’ve continued to dig around, I’ve learned that around the same time these remixes were released, a whole slab of remixes for “Edge of Seventeen” were also created and seemingly left unreleased. So, now I’m on a mission. More on that at some point in the future, hopefully. In the meantime, I’ll have to settle for this, which I do love:
Final Stevie-adjacent moment: Hearing “Landslide” live drove me back to the version that I became obsessed with two decades ago, a remix of the Dixie Chicks’ cover produced by one Sheryl Crow. It used to play on VH1 endlessly, and I eventually succumbed to it. More on that in the near future. Sheryl’s remix is very frustratingly not on streaming services, but it is on YouTube, albeit not labeled.
I also have to shine a light on Chappell Roan, whose debut album The Rise and Fall of a Midwestern Princess also dropped on September 22 alongside Kylie and Anastacia, who both commanded the bulk of my attention. I got absolutely gut-punched by “Kalediscope” about 2 weeks prior and didn’t even realize the album was on the horizon. It’s a great record with a patchwork of sounds (notably angsty pop-rock and some 80’s synth-pop), but this damn “Kalediscope” will fuck you up. I’m seeing her live next weekend, so expect more on her in a few weeks.
Last weekend also marked the anniversary of Aretha’s second Aretha LP, released as her Arista debut in 1980. It’s a solid record, and her cover of The Doobie Brothers’ “What A Fool Believes,” deserves to be the definitive version. One listen is all it should take to convince you.
Last week was also the anniversary of the release of Aretha’s cover of Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep.” Sorry not sorry, but auto-tune aside, it’s better than the original. Aretha is authoritative as fuck on it. She magnifies the subtle gospel of the track by emphasizing the already-present soul claps and adding a B3 organ (played masterfully by the late Big Jim Wright). It sounds like an Aretha record, because, after all, it and other songs like it wouldn’t exist without her inescapable influence. Go argue with your mama.
The Letterman performance which debuted it to most of the world gets a lot of attention, because of the dress and the Cissy Houston of it all, but Aretha doesn’t disappoint. Despite the airiness of some formerly full notes, she sinks her teeth into the song and delivers some seriously dizzying runs. Aretha always took a little bit to warm up, and by the run in 1:52, you can hear it. There are areas of her voice that remain raspy, but others, even higher up, come through with staggering clarity.
One last thing. Etta James. I would love that to be it, and that to be the post, but I need to elaborate. Etta James is one of the baddest vocalists to grace a microphone during the 20th and 21st centuries, and she frankly does not receive the attention she deserves. Simply, she doesn’t have the rabid fans that others do (and yes, older rabid fans/stans do in fact exist, I know an Aretha Franklin stan who qualifies for AARP).
But I digress. A tweet has been circulating from a certain rabid stanbase, about another singer doing their thing on an Etta song, which of course deteriorated into implications that she outsang Etta. You do not outsing Etta. Period. Case and point.
And with that. I’m through for the week. Enjoy your long weekend (and as an Italian-American, I say this with authority, fuck Christopher Columbus)!
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