Ronnie Lawson - Composer/Producer/Music Director Ronnie Lawson has long been a presence on the New York music scene, honing his keyboard and arranging skills recording and touring with such diverse artists as Edgar Winter, Joan Jett, Steve Forbert, Chuck Berry, Barry Manilow, Darlene Love, David Johanssen and Phoebe Snow. Over the past 11 years, Ronnie has written music for some of the largest corporate events in history, commercials (Grape Nuts, Millstone Coffee, Branola, Lincoln-Mercury, Abari, Lilii), TV Shows (Sci-Fi Channel, Blade Warriors, Music Scoupe, Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?) and film ("Harley" for Miramax Films). Ronnie is very excited about the recent launch of his own company, aptly called Ronnie Lawson Productions, Inc.


As I Hear It

By Ronnie Lawson


Hi Gooch! readersÉhope you had a great summer. There are a couple of recent CD releases that IÕve been listening to constantly for the past few months. The first is David ByrneÕs Grown Backwards. David Byrne, the driving force behind Talking Heads, has had a busy solo career since the Talking Heads disbanded. I happened to catch Mr. Byrne and his band on Bob CostaÕs show a few months ago Ð they performed the song ÒGlass, Concrete and StoneÓ, which is the opening song on Grown Backwards. This song grabbed me immediately Ð the sound is unique, thanks to the unusual instrumentation of the band Ð Mr. Byrne on lead vocal and guitar, accompanied by bass, drums, percussion/vibes and the 6 person Tosca Strings. The sound is fresh and organic - a perfect match for Mr. ByrneÕs instantly recognizable voice. I picked up the CD the next day Ð it turned out to be one of the most interesting collections of songs IÕve heard in a long time. There is great variety of style, from Bossa Nova flavored pop (ÒShe Only SleepsÓ) to opera (yes, opera!) (ÒAu Fond du Temple SaintÓ by Georges Bizet); beer hall (ÒThe Other Side Of This LifeÓ) to scorching dance (ÒLazyÓ). Some of the songs defy description, but all are interesting. Mr. ByrneÕs lyrics are alternately political (ÒEmpireÓ), comedic (ÒPiratesÓ and ÒGladÓ) and self deprecating (ÒLazyÓ). All in all, this is a rich collection Ð smart, beautiful, funny, topical and completely unique Ð highly recommended.

Those of you who read my column will know that I am a huge fan of the British band Coldplay. I recently learned that Chris Martin (lead singer and composer) was a guest artist on FaultlineÕs Your Love Means Everything. Faultline is the work of one person, named David Kosten, also British. He is a composer and programmer, who records most of the music on his own and occasionally adds to it with guest musicians and singers. Many of the songs are electronic and ambient in sound, but somehow even on the completely electronic tracks one feels warmth, emotion and humanity. Chris Martin appears on 2 songs, ÒWhere Is My Boy?Ó and ÒYour Love Means EverythingÓ. IÕm not sure if itÕs because Mr. Kosten is very clever to have Mr. Martin sing on these particular songs, or that Mr. Martin is such a good singer that he sounds good on everything, but the pairing of the two works wonderfully. Another great pairing of song and voice is Mr. KostenÕs arrangement of the haunting classic ÒGreenfieldsÓ sung by Florafox Michael Stipe. Some of the pieces on this CD are reminiscent of the Chemical Brothers, with lots of interesting sound design and beats, but what sets this apart is the incorporation of traditional song form and vocals. This is the one CD of late that both my 17-year-old son and I are listening to Ð a really cool combo of cutting edge and tradition.

When I first heard of the collaboration of Jack White (White Stripes) and country music legend Loretta Lynn on the CD Loretta Lynn-Van Lear Rose, I couldnÕt imagine how it could work or what it could possibly sound like. Another TV performance, this time on the Letterman show made me a believer. Loretta Lynn accompanied by Jack White and band performed the song ÒPortland OregonÓ and immediately won me over. The song starts instrumentally with a sort of swinging Dick Dale-esque intro, and then morphs into a new tempo and feel for the body of the song, which is the story of some wild, drunken carousing by Mr. White and Ms Lynn Ð in theory, this culture & generation clashing couple, the 20-something, super-cool rock star and the 70-something country music queen should be an embarrassing disaster, but surprise, surpriseÉitÕs brilliant. Loretta Lynn has written a bunch of great songs, and Jack White has arranged and recorded them with hard-edged guitars, drums and bass. The result is a sound that is bare and real, and very likable. The songs go from classic country (ÒFamily TreeÓ) to scathing blues/rock (ÒHave MercyÓ) to ÒLittle Red ShoesÓ, where Ms Lynn recites a story from her childhood, with hipster backing from Mr. White and band. This is a really refreshing CD Ð itÕs probably not for everyone, but this daring experiment really works, and I for one hope it will yield at least one more CD. Look for Ms. Lynn, Mr. White and band on tour together É wow!



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