303: Sara Bareilles, ‘Yellow Brick Road’

Yellow Brick Road’ (Live) –acoustic, but electrifying.

Gonna Get Over You’–the car was made in 1961, the girl in 1979; Millenial doo-wop chic–how can you not love this? Make sure you stay for the last half minute.

Love Song‘–an irresistable ‘fuck-you’ song to her record company, which ironically turned into a giant hit. And check out her audience in this live performance.

King of Anything‘–she’s got a mouth on her, this young lady; ouch!

Manhattan’–this is some talented singer/songwriter/balladeer/chanteuse

Chasing the Sun’–my personal favorite. Go live!

Brave‘–a video of children with cancer dancing to this anthem of bravery became an internet phenomenon. And if you want to go for hard-core sweet, watch her sing the song with little Joshua.

LtoR: Jeff, Mike

“There’s no good new music,” grouches my friend Mike, “it’s all rap and crap.”

“Not all of it!” I snort back. “There’s lots of good new stuff!”

Sometimes Mike and I sound a lot like Statler and Waldorf.

Mike is a good friend, and he likes his music. His tastes are wide and ecumenical (he has a higher tolerance than me for opera and musicals), so he lets me drag him along on some of my more esoteric musical travels, like Nordic Roots, Mongolian throat singing and The Bulgarian State Radio and Television Women’s Choir. Or even concerts by young performers, if I insist.

Like that genuine Millenial, Jacob Collier (b. 1994), making genuine Millenial music. Mike, like most of the grownups in the audience, got a headache. I, an experienced practitioner of arrested development, was wowed. But, yeah, some of it was getting a little too teenagerily enthusiastic even for me.

LtoR: b. 1961, b. 1979

Don’t tell anyone I said so, but basically I agree with Mike. To quote John Sebastian, “I been listening to my radio for 2 or 3 years/And the music that they’re playing is so doggone bad that it’s offending to my ears.” Some people ‘of a certain age’, despite their professed eclecticism, are known to listen to Motown in the car. Not me or Mike, of course.

“Oh yeah?” Mike snarls at me. “Name me one ‘young’ artist I’d like.”

“Sara Bareilles,” I snap back.

“Never heard of her,” Mike retorts skeptically. “How do you spell her name?”

“Incorrectly,” I say, “but she’s a good Millenial.”

“Ain’t no such thing,” grouches Mike.

AMG calls Ms B “a throwback to another era [whose] retro vibe rested upon her reliance on audaciously melodic songcraft [which] managed to spin classic singer/songwriter tropes into the modern era.”

Statler crooked an eyebrow. I mean Mike.

Beginning in 2007, Sara B (b. 1979) had a string of hit albums and singles, firmly keeping alive the classic singer-songwriter vibe, more on the fun-ky side than the moribund. Her big chart hits from back then included ‘Love Song’, ‘King of Anything’ and ‘Brave’, and her bag is chock full of goodies of that quality, garnering her a slew of Grammy nominations.

She sits at the piano and writes great, memorable, hit songs with the occasional cover. Stylistically and generically, she’s the thoroughly modern granddaughter of Carole King and Elton John on one side, Jackson Browne and Laura Nyro on the other.

In fact, that’s how I encountered Sara B, performing at the divine Laura Nyro’s induction into the R&R Hall of Fame singing ‘Stoney End’. I wrote an entire posting (SoTW 270) about a Laura bootleg recording of the song. I’ll try to rein in my hyperbole here, because I already wrote there that “Laura challenges me, astounds me, bewilders me, frustrates me, rivets me, inspires me, teaches me, consoles me, excites me, reassures me, loves me. She even gets me to dance.” I don’t say this lightly: Sara Bareillis’ ‘Stoney End’ is the best cover I know of a Laura Nyro song.

Need to see some more respect for Ms B from Our artists? Here are Carole King and Sara B mashing-up CK’s ‘Beautiful’ and SB’s Brave’, together, nose to nose, at the Grammies. What a knockout show! A passing of the torch, before our very eyes. Watch Sara at the very end, showing an awful lot of emotion for a Millennial. Well, she’s in the presence of The Earth Mother…

Need more? How about our SoTW, Sara Bareillis’ cover of ‘Yellow Brick Road’. It’s stark, dark, acoustic, and electrifying. Those chops! As one friend said, “At one point I found myself holding my breath.”

The lyrics, in case you’ve never bothered to pay attention, express the ignonimy of a gay country bumpkin being passed around by his older lover (“I’m not a present for your friends to open”).

And Sir Elton, visibly moved: “I was so blown away by her version of Yellow Brick Road’, I’ve never heard anyone sing one of my songs like that, ever.” Then he joins her on her virtuoso ballad, ‘Gravity’. (“My very first boyfriend cheated on me, and I wrote a song about it,” she says here with a Millennial grin.) These are two very fine singers in an emotional duet.

Oh, and if Millenial validation impresses you, here’s no less than Taylor Swift herself singing ‘Brave’ with Sara B  (“I’ve listened to this song hundreds and hundreds of times, by an artist I simply adore”).To tell you the truth, I’m a bit frightened by the unfettered adulation the audience exhibits here, but that’s somewhat mitigated by what appears to be Return of Hot Pants.

“And that’s just her first chapter,” I tell Mike.

“Harumph,” he responds.

The bittersweet chickflick “Waitress” (2007), starring Keri Russell (‘Felicity’, ‘The Americans’) got turned into a musical, for which Ms B was commissioned to write the music. It got her both Tony and Grammy nominations. “What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress” is her recording of that music, and it’s a doozy. Unabashedly Broadway, but sharp and sassy and contemporary and relevant. Check out the song ‘What’s Inside’—(her pies are her dreams).

“Harumph,” begrudges Mike. “That’s pretty good.”

Then she wrote a book. Then she performed in “Waitress” on Broadway for a while.

Mike crooks his eyebrow again.

Then she wrote the music for a Broadway adaption of “SpongeBob SquarePants: The New Musical”, which got her another Tony nomination.

Then she appeared in Jesus Christ, Superstar, got another Grammy nomination.

Then she did a bunch of stuff like this very glitzy thing with Josh Groban that ain’t my style but I do admire her performance, and got herself a whole bunch more awards and prizes and stuff.

Mike yawned.

And then she finally won the Grammy for her song ‘Saint Honesty

Oh, yeah, and they just made a TV series, “Little Voice”, based on the songs from her first album.

And she’s starring in a TV series, “Girls5eva”.

And then she got nominated for yet another Grammy for performing ‘Moments in the Woods’ in the Broadway revival of Sondheim’s “In the Woods”.

You watch that last clip, Mike, you see she’s no diva. She’s no extraterrestrial like Jacob Collier nor a de-emoted Millenial. She’s one of us.

 “Harumph,” grumbled Mike. “Can we watch that ‘Yellow Brick Road’ of hers again?

And that’s just Chapter Two.