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From: Eric Carmen

Subject: Re: Rhinofy-I Won't Hold You Back

Re: Luke, Toto, "I Won't Hold You Back"

Hi Bob,

"I Won't Hold You Back" is my favorite Toto track. I love the sincerity of Luke's vocal, and, as anyone who sings on records knows, it's all about convincing the listener you MEAN IT. It's believability that makes a track monumental, or not.

You can sing a sharp note, or a flat note here and there, and no one is going to say that ruined the record for them. It's the performance that counts. It's Paul McCartney's voice recorded and mixed so that when you hear "Hey Jude" on the radio it feels like Paul is sitting next to you, in the passenger seat, singing in your ear, while the rest of the band is coming out of your radio speakers (the magic of Sir George Martin). Same thing for all of James Taylor's records.

Listen to "Save The Best For Last" by Vanessa Williams and you can "hear" the smile on her face when she sings certain lines. That's a performance.

At any rate, having played in a band that similarly got no respect, (until now, 30 years too late) I often ask myself at what point did a great melody become anathema to popular music? And why?

When did "beats" replace great songwriting, and why would any rock critic think someone rapping over a computer generated track was somehow superior to a singer who could actually sing and write a terrific, melodic, memorable song? I actually believe I have the answer. It's that songs with beautiful melodies, sung with sensitivity by a male singer, make Alpha males uncomfortable. Men are supposed to be tough. We're not supposed to HAVE feelings. If we do, it's a sign of weakness. This is why AC/DC and Metallica are huge, popular big selling bands. Guys don't want to like the same records their sisters like. It's much safer to like "Highway To Hell" than to admit you like "I Won't Hold You Back" or (God forbid) "All By Myself." If I had a dime for every time that song has been referred to as "Eric Carmen's cheesy, self-flagellating ballad" in print, I'd never have to work again. There seems to be something empowering about guys removing themselves from any emotional availability. It's just more "manly" to put those songs down.

In any case, I guess that's a problem for psychologists to ponder. I, for one, loved "I Won't Hold You Back." But then, you could have pretty much expected that, couldn't you? I loved the songs J.D. Souther wrote for Linda Ronstadt, too. And I love "Somewhere" from "West Side Story" and "Some Enchanted Evening" from "South Pacific" and "Someone To Watch Over Me", and "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning" by Sinatra.

Maybe it's just the times we live in.

And so it goes.

Eric

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My son and I have a running joke where some macho, steroid frat boy will say, in his gruffest voice (insert voice here) "I like Dave Matthews". He'll text me from some party and simply say "It happened again". I challenge him to walk up to the thug and yell "Well, I like the Raspberries, ass hat." He hasn't done it yet.

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"You can sing a sharp note, or a flat note here and there, and no one is going to say that ruined the record for them. It's the performance that counts. It's Paul McCartney's voice recorded and mixed so that when you hear "Hey Jude" on the radio it feels like Paul is sitting next to you, in the passenger seat, singing in your ear, while the rest of the band is coming out of your radio speakers"

Wow! Now THAT is a quote worth repeating!

Bernie

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Listen to "You've Got A Friend" by James Taylor. You can "hear" the smile on his face and the warmth and sincerity in his voice. That's great recording and a perfect performance. It's amazing how much emotion you can transfer through a good mic

and onto disc. The first one to figure it out, amazingly, was Bing Crosby. Sinatra was certainly aware of it, too.

You can sing the same line in the studio, once with no facial expression, and the second time with a smile on your face and they sound completely different.

Emotion and believability are the things people hear on records, and what they identify with. Without those two qualities, you're wasting your time.

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I found a way to hear the drums, bass, rhythym guitar, and background vocals, by listening with the part you put into the CD player halfway.

And what a treat, if you can do this. To hear the three together, then her voice in lower volume, while listening to Carole King's CD, of her greatest hits. I'll see whether or not this works on James' CD's.

Particularly on songs, "Jazzman" and "Sweet Seasons".

I was amazed to hear the clarity of the background vocals, also. It had a reverb affect, where it sounded to me like her voice was behind the tempo, when really she was on the tempo, but the low volume made it sound delayed (from the reverb, again).

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Eric:

It took me years to understaand that we are drawn toa song by the truth in the singer's voice...it is a difficult thing to acheive to males because as you said, we were tought that 'grown men don't cry"...

I have to say that though there are many of your songs that I don not like, either becasue of the melody, arrangement, or production....but you have never failed at the vocal end of things, singing the crap out of it, and creating mood swings from tenderness, to joy to anger, pain, anxiety, tension ( you are a master at this one) , intrepidation, awe, sense of defeat, callousness, regret, excitement, arrogance..and many others...

Tension (with a touch of frustrated eroticism): On The Beach ---- " Ooo...I wanna...Oooo I wanna....Oh I wannna!"....it's not so much the lyric alone, but the vocal rising in tension, basically the same lyric three times over...but each time it it sung with different accents and different color...THAT is the magic...and you do it better than almost anyone in the rock-pop world.

Great thread...

Bahoo

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Great thread. It is always good to hear Bahoo opine. He knows his stuff.

And Eric, it´s a treat (huge treat) to hear your thoughts.

I mentioned here that I thought Agnetha´s (ABBA) vocal performance on "The Winner Takes It All" was up there with the best ever pop vocal performances. Her sincerity and raw emotion coming through the record is the main reason I believe this. The other reason of course is the greatness of her voice itself.

Anyway, I think another one that is noteworthy whether you like it or not is Alanisse Morisett´s performance on the song "You Oughta Know"....so sincere it gives me nightmares as a male!..( ;-) ).

James

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Eric:

I have to say that though there are many of your songs that I don not like, either becasue of the melody, arrangement, or production....but you have never failed at the vocal end of things, singing the crap out of it,...

Bahoo

e.g., see "Hungry Eyes" for reference

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Posted by Eric Carmen:

Quote:
You can sing the same line in the studio, once with no facial expression, and the second time with a smile on your face and they sound completely different.

And that is exactly why Eric's performances are world class. He puts every fiber of his being into his performances and every nuance is shaded to perfection. The result is a virtual orchestra of timbres that give colors to his voice no other singer I ever heard has. My best friend in college had the most amazing female classical voice I ever heard--she could switch instantly from coloratura to Wagnerian opera. She understood that singing involved her entire being. So does Eric. And the attraction in the listener is visceral. That's how I play the violin--from INSIDE, not from outside. You have to LIVE the music. You can't learn it and you can't fake it. It's true artistry.

Thanks for the AMAZING insight and post, Eric!

:)--Dar

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So does being a good actor make you a better singer? If you can fake like your heart is breaking, or you are goo goo gaa gaa in love with the person the song is about, even if it is not true at the time, you can sing a better vocal track?

Eric makes us think of such things deeper than we normally do. I love it when our guy chimes in! He should have his own radio show in Cleveland so the masses could get his insights on music and more 5 days a week!

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I so agree, Tony. Eric should have his own radio show in Cleveland. smile

As for the "acting," I think you have to feel it to really be spectacular. Or connect whatever emotion you're performing to something you really experienced, felt or gone through.

Method acting relives a similar experience/emotion REAL in your life and connects it to the role or situation you're playing. It's more recalling real emotion than acting. Actors "dig deep" into their psyches to pull out every emotion, even demons, some they'd rather forget. That's why some roles are so mentally and emotionally exhausting.

My toughest part of teaching advanced students who had to play concertos and very mature pieces was to "connect" the emotion in the piece to something they knew. Some "appassionata" or "con amore" piece was difficult to explain to a nine year old little virtuoso violinist. They don't know romantic love. So I would equate it to a tender moment with their little baby puppy or a tender moment with a little baby. Anger was even more difficult. "Con fuoco" or "Allegro Agitato" was "You worked 8 weeks on a science fair project and report and your little brother tore it up and threw it away." THAT they could understand. Suddenly the fiery accents were there and I would make up little phrases to match the musical rhythms like, "You're gonna be punished, so THERE!" Yielded a spicy performance every time. Ecstatic happiness? "You're going to DISNEY WORLD!" It was always about changing characters. For teenagers, the Beethoven Quartet Op 18 #6 had a change of character to a serene, stately feeling but had dramatic accents. So I told them to picture Grandma in a ruffled blouse in the drawing room, but she had a machete. The stately theme gave way to "stabbing" accents when Grandma, whom you couldn't trust, pulled out her machete. It worked. They won the competition and judges were asking "How did you get them to UNDERSTAND that quartet so well? They communicated it so beautifully to the audience." Answer: emotions they could feel and understand.

:)--D

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  • 8 months later...

From: Eric Carmen

Subject: Re: Rhinofy-I Won't Hold You Back

Re: Luke, Toto, "I Won't Hold You Back"

Hi Bob,

"I Won't Hold You Back" is my favorite Toto track. I love the sincerity of Luke's vocal, and, as anyone who sings on records knows, it's all about convincing the listener you MEAN IT. It's believability that makes a track monumental, or not.

You can sing a sharp note, or a flat note here and there, and no one is going to say that ruined the record for them. It's the performance that counts. It's Paul McCartney's voice recorded and mixed so that when you hear "Hey Jude" on the radio it feels like Paul is sitting next to you, in the passenger seat, singing in your ear, while the rest of the band is coming out of your radio speakers (the magic of Sir George Martin). Same thing for all of James Taylor's records.

Listen to "Save The Best For Last" by Vanessa Williams and you can "hear" the smile on her face when she sings certain lines. That's a performance.

At any rate, having played in a band that similarly got no respect, (until now, 30 years too late) I often ask myself at what point did a great melody become anathema to popular music? And why?

When did "beats" replace great songwriting, and why would any rock critic think someone rapping over a computer generated track was somehow superior to a singer who could actually sing and write a terrific, melodic, memorable song? I actually believe I have the answer. It's that songs with beautiful melodies, sung with sensitivity by a male singer, make Alpha males uncomfortable. Men are supposed to be tough. We're not supposed to HAVE feelings. If we do, it's a sign of weakness. This is why AC/DC and Metallica are huge, popular big selling bands. Guys don't want to like the same records their sisters like. It's much safer to like "Highway To Hell" than to admit you like "I Won't Hold You Back" or (God forbid) "All By Myself." If I had a dime for every time that song has been referred to as "Eric Carmen's cheesy, self-flagellating ballad" in print, I'd never have to work again. There seems to be something empowering about guys removing themselves from any emotional availability. It's just more "manly" to put those songs down.

In any case, I guess that's a problem for psychologists to ponder. I, for one, loved "I Won't Hold You Back." But then, you could have pretty much expected that, couldn't you? I loved the songs J.D. Souther wrote for Linda Ronstadt, too. And I love "Somewhere" from "West Side Story" and "Some Enchanted Evening" from "South Pacific" and "Someone To Watch Over Me", and "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning" by Sinatra.

Maybe it's just the times we live in.

And so it goes.

Eric

Eric,

 

I read this post last night - long after I wrote on the topic of "E's Voice."  I've always considered you to be an alpha male, but you have that "mod-angel" voice.  I've read and obviously agree, your singing makes millions of women swoon because your vocal  range and music created with the Rs' makes women feel wanted and needed.  I couldn't agree more. 

 

Stephen Sondheim has said "the only reason to write is from love" and he also wrote the lyrics to "Somewhere" didn't he?  I know your writing and singing come from love too, and that is VERY good.  That fact alone makes you fearless.

 

xxxxxooooo back to you ec!!

Mary Ellen

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