Hard-touring singer-songwriter Jackie Greene, whose new album "The Modern Lives – Vol 2" is out now, embraces the bluegrass and folk music of his youth on the six-track EP. To celebrate his new release, Greene curates a playlist of favorites for USA TODAY that reflect his eclectic taste, from vintage country and soul to '90s grunge and hip-hop and beyond.
Adam opens today’s podcast talking about his travel experience over the weekend when he forgot to bring his ID to the airport. The guys then try to kill a fly in the studio, and Adam explains why he loves Clay Aiken so much. James Carville then calls in, and the guys talk about the upcoming Politicon event happening this weekend. They also talk about how James got involved with politics, what the future holds for our current political parties, and who James would like to see run against President Trump in the next election. Adam then rants about people being weak, and complains about the color brown, Gatorade, and shoelaces. Before the break, enjoy today’s Good Sports!
Jackie Greene is in studio next, and Adam asks him about his year playing with The Black Crowes. Jackie then plays a song for the gang, and Gina reads news stories about Hurricane Michael, Ariana Grande splitting up with Pete Davidson, and the latest Germany or Florida entry. Other news stories include a letter of Albert Einstein coming up for auction, the latest over-expensive novelty food item, and Justin Timberlake joining the world of game show hosting. As the show wraps up, the guys talk about the newest Celebrity Reality series, and data from a Fitbit used to solve a crime.
This is a playlist about the new band’s favorite soul and funk music at the moment. We’re a diverse group of musicians with different tastes and backgrounds, and these are genres we all like and listen to together while rehearsing and recording.
Jackie Greene (Lead):
Sly & the Family Stone – “You Can Make It If You Try”
Who doesn’t love Sly? This is the funkiest circus I’ve ever heard.
Lee Dorsey – “Neighbor’s Daughter”
Sort of an obscure record, The New Lee Dorsey has a bunch of Allen Toussaint songs and all of them are awesome, but I always really liked this one.
Bill Withers – “Ruby Lee”
One of the baddest, rawest grooves ever. The album +’Justments is one of my favorite albums of all time.
Ben Rubin (Bass):
Marvin Gaye – “Got to Give It Up (Pt. 1)”
I love this song because the pocket is so deep and sparse and Marvin lays on top so sweet (yes I meant that figuratively and literally).
Prince – “Sign ‘O’ the Times”
I love this song, because to me it represents some of Prince’s best work. When the song came out, it was so ahead of the times in terms of lyricism AND production.
Megan Coleman (Percussion):
Aretha Franklin – “Day Dreaming”
The groove and musicality of this song legit brings tears to my eyes. Also, I’m a sucker for a good ole fashioned love song.
Michael Jackson – “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”
I mean…how beautiful is he in this music video? This was one of the first songs I fell in love with as a child and it will always hold a special place in my heart.
Jon “Smoke” Lucas (Drummer):
D’Angelo – “Playa Playa”
This is the intro to the era that captured my soul at 12 years of age. The sound, feel, and performance of this record is priceless! All-time favorite of mine…
Nathan Dale (Guitar):
Otis Redding – “Ole Man Trouble”
I wore out both sides of my The Dock of the Bay cassette during the summer of ’92. “Ole Man Trouble” was the last song before the auto-reverse tape deck flipped back to side 1. The song hooked me every time. There is some kind of magic happening between Cropper’s guitar parts and Otis’s painful vocal delivery. Otis opened the door to soul music for me.
Prince – “Sign ‘O’ the Times”
Prince’s brew of pop craftsmanship is something I was never embarrassed to admit I loved. His blend of funk, soul, blues, and R&B along with the addictive hooks is a perfect kind of music to me. The genius of his artistry is captured brilliantly in “Sign ‘O’ the Times.” Its sparse musical approach keeps the funk but leaves room for the lyric’s heavy topics of the 1980s.
Alex Kettler (guitar tech)
Lettuce – “Phyllis”
It’s a simple groove that opens up to a plethora of synths and horns. The song keeps progressing while always lightly grasping the main line until it goes full-circle.
Whether or not it was recorded subsequent to or simultaneous with its predecessor, The Modern Lives Vol. 2 is much superior. Otherwise fully complementary to Vol. 1 right down to the cover graphics, Jackie Greene’s second of two EP’s within roughly a year reaffirms the wisdom of his declaration of independence as a recording artist.
As with the best of other such self-played and recorded projects, his informality works in his favor because he sounds so sure of what he’s doing. “Crazy Comes Easy” may well be the best track of this bunch and the last: the crisp electric piano is the ideal foil for the topsy-turvy electric slide guitar, while a touch of harmonica lends an extra dollop of whimsy to the alternately bemused, bewildered vocal. Sidestepping the bane of such purely solo recordings, Jackie never sounds too careful here, during the more abandoned “Good Old Bad Times” or anywhere else on Vol. 2 for that matter.
That latter arrangement, again including prominent harmonica, continues the folksy feel Greene amplifies further through the addition of vocal harmonies and, on “Women And The Rain,” the prominence of dobro. Here, the singer/songwriter sings ascends to a higher vocal register he rarely uses that’s also effective during “Victim of the Crime:” it’s an approach that dampens the philosophical musings running through the lyrics to some tunes, thereby allowing high-spirits to permeate most of The Modern Lives Vol. 2.
Emotions turn tender, however, on “Fragile And Waiting” where Jackie uses the acoustic piano to imbues the track with a gospel feel that remains even when some orchestral crescendos appear late in the cut: they’re demonstrably restrained, thereby rendering this a demonstration of influences as authentic as Greene’s other such gestures here. The modified bluesy shuffle of the sly “That Ain’t Love, That’s Sugar” thus becomes the perfectly appropriate closer to this six-cut collection.
A logical sequencing of the tracks doesn’t become readily apparent til this point, a signal of how astute is David Simon Baker’s editing. Equally crucial, if not more so however as the mixing of Michael H. Brauer and mastering of Joe Laporta: the clarity of sound offers further proof of Jackie Greene’s justifiable pride in his work on The Modern Lives project.
Sponsored by the Americana Music Association, the 19th annual Americana Music Festival & Conference features a broad range of music showcases from diverse musicians in alt-country, roots-rock, bluegrass, R&B, blues and folk as well as dozens of day time industry panels.
This year, NPR Music, WMOT and World Cafe present the inaugural AmericanaFest Day Stage from The Local in Nashville. Performances will be broadcast on WMOT with video webcasts on NPR Music and World Cafe via VuHaus. Over 25 bands will appear over the five days, plus a live webcast of the Americana Music Honors & Awards ceremony, which aired on Wednesday, Sept. 12, presented by NPR Music and World Cafe.
Thanks to the great folks over at Spotify for adding “Crazy Comes Easy” to Fresh Folk & The Pulse of Americana Playlists. Take a listen below:
Fresh Folk Spotify Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/37i9dQZF1DXaUDcU6KDCj4?si=SCrziPnjRwCI3v1jeZoujQ
The Pulse of Americana Spotify Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/37i9dQZF1DX3Fzl4v4w9Zp?si=NfDZ_lU0ReqwDJQkgG9aEQ
Greene doubles down on his musical roots with “Crazy Comes Easy,” a bluesy blast of Southern rock and sunny soul. The song pays tribute to love’s addled affect on the human mind, with a chorus that evokes the Black Crowes — whose final lineup featured Greene on electric guitar — and plenty of slide guitar. Recorded in the songwriter’s home studio in Brooklyn, “Crazy Comes Easy” is the kickoff single from The Modern Lives – Vol. 2, which arrives next month.
Greene recently released a new music video, called "Crazy Comes Easy," a song from his forthcoming The Modern Lives, Vol. 2 EP, dropping in October. Popdust caught up with Greene, asking him about his beginning in music, his influences, and his songwriting process.
Singer-songwriter Jackie Greene will release a new EP entitled The Modern Lives – Vol 2 via Blue Rose Music this October. Greene confirmed a series of dates in support of the record featuring The Modern Lives Band.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a more feel-good video than the clip for Jackie Greene's "Crazy Comes Easy," premiering exclusively below from his upcoming Modern Lives, Vol. 2 EP.
Singer-songwriter Jackie Greene shared a new single entitled “Crazy Comes Easy.” The track appears on his upcoming EP The Modern Lives – Vol 2, which is due out on Blue Rose Music in October.
Greene issued the six-song The Modern Lives – Vol. 1 EP last year, marking his debut with Blue Rose. Both The Modern Lives volumes were recorded in Greene’s Brookyln home studio. Before that, the multi-instrumentalsist released the full-length studio album, Back To Birth, in 2015.
The video for the new single “Crazy Comes Easy” will be available on June 20. A teaser of the video is below, followed by the full track.
What do animator Bill Plympton and singer-songwriter Jackie Greene have in common? Well, they’re both devoted to exploring the complexities of the human condition in their individual art forms. The two also came together for a music video for Greene’s new song “Modern Lives” — which is being screened at NYC’s SVA Theatre on Mar. 28 as part of an evening of musical shorts by Plympton (including his work with Madonna, Weird Al, and Kanye West). Since Greene will be performing live at the event, we took this opportunity beforehand to check in with both artists about their recent collaboration.
Q: SVA in NYC is going to be screening an evening of Bill Plympton music videos. Is there one in particular that you’re eager to see on a big screen?
Jackie Greene: I’m excited to see anything and everything that gets shown. I’m a fan of the medium and I think Bill’s work is fantastic.
Bill Plympton: I think the short “Tupelo” is the one I’m most excited about because it’s a more subtle music video, and there’s a lot of detail in it that’s difficult to see on a small computer screen.
Q: The recent music video for “Modern Lives” visually and sonically calls to mind a youthful road trip (with a sci-fi twist). Do you have a particularly memorable road trip you took when you were younger?
BP: The first cross-country road trip I took in 1972. It was with two strange guys who also needed to travel from New York to Oregon. The problem was the driver was very drowsy and I fell asleep and drove off the road — we rolled three times — but I survived with no injuries. The other guys went to the hospital, and I took a bus for the rest of the trip.
JG: One of my first tours was opening up for B.B. King. It was just me and my tour manager Ben, who was basically my best friend from high school. Anyway, Ben and I followed B.B. King all summer in a rented Subaru. Pretty sure the A.C. was shot. Sometimes the drives between shows were over ten hours. I’d have to get up there and play to an audience that doesn’t necessarily give a shit about me and try and convince them to go to the merch table and pick up my debut CD. I think we used to get like, 200 bucks a night, or so. Somehow, we made that work, even if involved pulling over and sleeping in the car. The cheapest motel we could find was often still too expensive…
Q: What’s your favorite music video of all time?
JG: If I answer honestly, I’d probably have to say “Devil Inside” by INXS. Mainly because I was obsessed with that song when I was a kid. For pure epic ridiculousness, I’d say “November Rain.” I mean come on — Slash doing yoga poses, mid-solo, in the middle of a desert? In front of an abandoned church?? That shit is epic. There’s not a rock and roll guitar player on earth that doesn’t know that scene.
BP: My favorite music video is actually an extended music video. It’s The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” — What a perfect union of great imagery by Heinz Edelmann and great music by The Beatles.
Learn the songwriting secrets behind many of The Beatles' greatest hits
Q: If you two were to collaborate again on a music video that was based on a classic rock track, what might that song be?
BP: I would love to do something for The Eagles’ “Hotel California” and I’d love to see what Jackie could do with that song.
JG: Something psychedelic would be great. Maybe something off of Anthem of the Sun… It’d be cool to try to write music for an animated feature-length at some point.
Q: Jackie, was there a specific animated work by Plympton that made you want to collaborate with him on this music video?
JG: I’ve been a fan of Bill’s for awhile, so probably not one work, in particular. “The Date” is pretty damn funny. “Footprints” is very thought-provoking and symbolic. “The Kiss” is hilarious and works really well all stripped down and without much color. I really like Bill’s style and the subtle shifts within his style. It’s like peeking into a very active and unpredictable imagination.
Q: Bill, You’ve done a handful of music videos in the past: Parson Brown’s “Mexican Standoff,” Kanye West’s “Heard ‘Em Say,” and Weird Al’s “TMZ”. What was it about “Modern Lives” that inspired you?
BP: I’ve turned down a lot of music video offers so what attracted me to his music was the blend of old-time blues and modern poetic lyrics. I was interested in this kind of format. It’s really rare to find a 30-minute long music video. It brings to mind Pink Floyd‘s The Wall which is very political and powerful, but I prefer the music of Jackie and I feel so lucky I was able to be a part of the project.
Photo Credit: “Modern Lives” animation by Bill Plympton (courtesy of Shorefire)
PS. Going to be in NYC on Mar. 28? Get tickets to the Bill Plympton Music Video Extravaganza at SVA.
On March 28 in New York City, Jackie Greene and Bill Plympton come together for the screening of the "Modern Lives" short film. The screening will also feature some of the more famous Bill Plympton videos, Q&A, and a short acoustic performance by Jackie. If you are in NYC, come check it out!
Jackie Greene comes full-circle with his self-produced and engineered EP The Modern Lives Vol. 1. His early records were somewhat derivative efforts released on a small label, before the California native embarked on a variety of high-profile collaborations, including Trigger Hippy (with Joan Osborne and Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman) plus an extended run with Phil Lesh and Friends. The multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter also continued to issue a series of increasingly polished solo albums as well as touring on his own and in the company of Bob Weir and Chris Robinson at one point.
This six-track set is the first result of Greene’s relocation to the East Coast, specifically, Brooklyn, New York, where in a basement studio of his own devise, he put together a finished product that wholly belies its DIY concept. “Back of My Mind,” to name just one, earmarks the professionalism Jackie brought to the project, not just in terms of the musicianship—he sounds like a whole band playing all by himself—but also because the clarity and depth of the audio mix, highlighted here by piano, is as impressive the song itself.
It’s one of the better numbers of the half-dozen here because it sounds completely natural, in its words and music, as well as in the author’s relaxed yet knowing vocal tone. In contrast, for the title song and “Tupelo,” Greene strains for effect: it’s almost as if he’s trying to live up to press nominating him a standard bearer of Americana music. While it is no sin in itself to prominently feature banjo, but he might better have elevated dobro in the arrangement of the latter to render it more distinct from its companion cut and reaffirm its authenticity.
The lyrics of “Good Advice” sound a bit self-conscious as well. Jackie aims for a rustic atmosphere, but the treatment he applies to the vocal track only ends up overstating his point. But the man doesn’t make the same mistake on “The Captain’s Daughter,” because he’s telling a story and creating a character within that story through whom he expresses sentiments of his own. And the pithy electric guitar Greene plays on this cut is an indirect but legitimate link to the influence of the Band on his music.
“Alabama Queen” works for many of the same reasons and ends The Modern Lives Volume 1 on a high note. This finale radiates that ease in writing, singing and playing with which Jackie Greene has distinguished himself in all manner of settings prior to this release, so he certainly whets the appetite for the sequel to this set, not to mention creating some healthy anticipation for future recordings and live shows.
Jackie Greene and his friends are up to something good.
Greene, an acclaimed Americana singer/songwriter, has rocked with the likes of the Black Crowes and the Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh and Bob Weir over the years.
On Wednesday, Oct. 18, Greene and fellow musical journeyman Anders Osborne kick off their joint tour on the Asbury Park Press Stage at the Count Basie Theatre, and they'll be joined for the occasion by Steve Earle, Joan Osborne, Steve Forbert and Jason Crosby.
The sextet is set to deliver a one-night-only songwriters-in-the-round performance.
“We all know each other, so I assume it’s going to feel like a big campfire, or something like that," Greene said. "I think it’ll be comfortable for everybody, so I think that’s going to allow us individually to have a lot of fun because we know each other and hopefully we’ll be able to joke around a little bit. I think it’ll be real entertaining.”
And all of that entertainment will be in service of a good cause. The show, dedicated to the memory of Marie and Fred Hope, is hosted by the Blue Rose Foundation. All proceeds go to the Monmouth Day Care Center in Red Bank.
Greene explained that childhood education, particularly music education, is a topic he is incredibly passionate about.
“I’ve often said I may be one of (members of) the last generation of kids to have music (education) in public schools, I think it’s one of the things that goes away quite quickly," Greene said. "And for me, I’m not a scientist or anything, but it’s not about finding the next Mozart or anything like that.
"It’s more about if kids are exposed to music education early, I think it does something to their brains, it allows them to problem solve in a different way. It helps open a creative Pandora’s Box in the brain ... and I think that’s important for kids growing up and I support it.”
After the Red Bank show, Greene and Anders Osborne's Tourgether run of dates brings them to City Winery for a pair of sold out performances Friday, Oct. 27, on Varick Street in New York City, followed by a Saturday, Oct. 28, engagement at the Ardmore Music Hall in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.
The Red Bank show also will serve as a reunion for Greene and Joan Osborne; the pair previously joined forces for the rootsy super group Trigger Hippy.
“I think we both have a natural affinity for certain kinds of blues music and soul music that we sort of get along with," Greene said of his work with the "One of Us" hit-maker. "So I think there’a a similarity, a camaraderie there. It seems to work."
Greene also has a new EP to celebrate, the Oct. 13 Blue Rose Music release "The Modern Lives - Vol. 1."
The six-song collection is lyrically insightful and topical while being musically rich, blending Americana with folk and soul.
A California native now based on the East Coast, Greene created the EP in his Brooklyn basement and played all of the instrumental parts himself.
“I look at it more like a wood shop," he said. "I go in, go downstairs and cut a few planks and nail things together and bring it back upstairs, see if it works. I do that every day. It’s a little bit like going to work. I go down and have a thermos of coffee and come back up for lunch, that kind of thing.”
BLUE ROSE FOUNDATION BENEFIT CONCERT
WITH: Steve Earle, Joan Osborne, Jackie Greene, Anders Osborne, Steve Forbert and Jason Crosby
WHEN: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18
WHERE: The Asbury Park Press Stage at the Count Basie Theatre, 99 Monmouth St., Red Bank
TICKETS: $20 to $40, $300 for VIP package with meet-and-greet
INFO: 732-842-9000 or www.countbasietheatre.org
BackStory Events and Guitar World invite you to join us for the live stream of our exclusive interview with Jackie Greene.
The interview will take place Thursday, October 12 at 6:00 p.m., live from the Cutting Room in New York City.
We’ll be discussing Green’s new self-recorded album, The Modern Lives – Vol 1, which is set to release the very next day. There will also be a short performance, an opportunity for audience questions, and a meet and greet.
Greene will be interviewed by New York Times best-selling author and journalist Alan Paul. The event is part of the BackStory Events online series and will be live streamed by Guitar World.
To find out more, visit jackiegreene.com.
Once we go live, the stream will appear below.