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t bedford

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Reply with quote  #31 
bonnie, (and other non-residents of the USA) this article will explain where the Mrs. O'Leary's Cow title comes from:

I'm not a real billionaire, but I play one on TV!
Cantina Margarita

Posts: 347
Reply with quote  #32 

Hi Cindy,

I see your point –you want to establish the strongest tin song ever. To do justice to all of them, is a completely impossible task.

So what's my only option ? Judge them out of my momentary mood. Tomorrow's votes would be different, that's for sure (… here again, I can't help ranting at Cam's bashful dance on the volcano earlier this week), and today's votes might be regretted the next day. I'm glad this only deals with 4 songs to rate. Sorry for unrequested political comment.

I'll start my Mission Impossible upside down:

4. Be My Baby – The Ronettes

I know Brian adores this, but fortunately, it's not forbidden to come up with or even to leave behind your idols by lentgh. There's no note in it which Brian can't do much better (and not only Brian). That's the way pioneers often go. Great song, but for me the easiest one to give tin to.

3. Fire by BW and the Wrecking Crew

a fantastic peace of music, and a shame to rate it 3rd. I can do so because I like the solo version better, especially performed live with the jolly Swedes. But that's not the version you posted !

2. Rhapsody In Blue (spelled correctly?)

Again, a shame not to put it #1. What's my fly in the ointment here ? Without Brian's thankworthy reimagining effort, I'd have to confess quite honestly, I wouldn't be able to find a key to this great piece of music. Which means highlighting one of BW's major achievements.

1. The Warmth Of The Sun … exactly talking about this version !

That 1995 album continuously grows for me. Although his voice is at poor shape, it marks the beginning of Brian's wondrous resurrection. The arrangements have been charmingly stripped down to their elements (a good decision), suitable for me to finally get the complicated chord progressions of TWOTS, TID and Wonderful. This most beautiful song seems to be about „the world is rude, but I have my secure source of comfort“. And this is sympathetic to me these days.
Two years later, after Brian's second puberty vocal change, we got the wonder that made people join this board, and made me run to overseas concerts which I never did before that. And this lasts until today.

Great choices, Cindy, and congrats in advance for your name among the 2016 playoffs winners. I just hope you get more voters !

*** boasting-mode ON ***

But it's still me who once introduced the weakest tin participant ever:

*** boasting-mode OFF ***


bonnie bella

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Posts: 2,038
Reply with quote  #33 
... poor hapless cow ...

Clowns divorce: custardy battle.     Simon Munnery

Tom Tobben

Posts: 1,162
Reply with quote  #34 
Easy battle for me to rank this week, in that three of the four songs in this week's battle were songs I used when hosting some of our earliest battle weeks, back in weeks 7 and 8 in our initial Season 1 of the BOTBs six years ago (all but "Be My Baby"). Two of them, "The Warmth of the Sun" and "Rhapsody in Blue", won the gold in their respective weeks in Season 1 and both made it to the Gold Finals for the year, with "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" winning a bronze in week 8 that year. So, it's nice to see them reappear together in this week's battle some six years after they originally debuted in our early BOTBs. Here's my votes this week:

Gold -- "Rhapsody in Blue", George Gershwin. One of the greatest 20th century instrumental pieces by one of the century's greatest composers. Not only was its distinct blend of classical and jazz groundbreaking in its time, it remained a classic over the decades right up to the present. Likewise, it became a major musical influence on the impressionable young Brian Wilson when his mother first exposed him to it as a young child. In part, we can thank George Gershwin for his influence on Brian's extensive catalogue of memorable melodies, distinctive chord structures/progressions, and sophisticated arrangements over the decades. This song, and Gershwin's music in general, became such a significant influence on Brian that he even created his memorable Gershwin tribute album, Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin, back in 2010, the only songwriter/composer whom Brian has honored in such an extensive and formal manner.

Silver -- "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow", Brian Wilson. This song dramatically illustrates Brian's exceptional ability to create a complex musical soundscape that paints a clear musical picture of the subject he is trying to convey, in this case the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which wiped out most of old downtown Chicago, and remains a legendary part of Chicago's history. It also ultimately led to the major rebuilding of what eventually became the modern downtown Chicago of the 20th century. No, the song is not supposed to be pleasant; it is supposed to be unsettling and emotionally jarring, because of the tragically dramatic nature of the historic subject matter it evokes. When listening to the song, consider the picture of the great historic tragedy that Brian is painting for us to hear, feel, and experience vicariously, and also why it caused such intense emotional feelings for Brian in the studio back in 1966/67. This is not a pop confection; this is serious musical stuff and a complex song to create and produce to appropriately evoke the historic subject matter it presents. There is a very good reason why this viscerally powerful song won the Grammy Award for best rock instrumental back in 2005, after Brian's long-awaited Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE album was released in 2004.  

I've included here, below my votes this week, a copy of an in-depth post I wrote about this song, here on the Brian Wilson message board (the old "blueboard") some ten years ago, about the instrumental majesty and sound imagery of this classic song and its related historical aspects.

Bronze -- "The Warmth of the Sun", Beach Boys. Others this week have already described the history and emotive power of this lovely song, on its own merits, but also taking into context its alleged writing by Brian and Mike around the time of JFK's tragic assassination, which shocked a nation and the world. A memorable and powerfully moving piece, indeed.

Tin -- "Be My Baby", Ronettes. It's a mighty good battle week when this classic song ends up receiving a tin rating. One of the ultimate Phil Spector "Wall of Sound" classics, and featuring the compelling voice of Veronica "Ronnie" Bennett and the Ronettes. Both Phil Spector's "wall of sound" songs/arrangements and this song, in particular", were important influences on Brian Wilson's music in the early/mid-60s, before he moved on to grander musical visions like Pet Sounds and SMiLE, which took his music to a whole new creative level.   

Finally, here's a copy of the extended post I wrote here back in early 2006 regarding Brian's powerful instrumental from the vaunted SMiLE project, "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow":

There is a lot of history and legend behind this song ("Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow"), and some amazing musical arrangements and imagery

(posted by Tom Tobben on January 14, 2006)


Back when Brian was first developing this song during the original 1966-67 SMiLE sessions, the working title of the song was "Fire". It was part of a planned movement that was called The Elements, with songs about earth, wind, fire, and water. You will see these themes in the third movement of the actual SMiLE album that Brian released in 2004.

As for the song, "Fire", documented legend has it that when Brian was first creating the song with musicians in the studio, he was trying to recreate the actual intense feeling of a real fire. To do that (and under the influence of controlled substances at the time, mind you), Brian had the musicians and himself wear plastic firemen's hats and he had a fire burning in a bucket in the studio to help create a real atmosphere of fire. In fact, around the time they were working on this song in the studio, there was a fire in a nearby building in LA, and Brian (under the influence, mind you) began to feel that this music might be taking on some type of special psychic powers), and he eventually put the song aside for fear of what else it might cause to happen, as the legend goes. (If you read the various books and numerous articles about the original SMiLE sessions, you can get the full story behind these legendary recording sessions.)

As the song's title indicates, it is also intended to evoke the intense nature and feeling of the disastrous Great Chicago Fire from the 1800s, when legend has it that Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicked over a lantern in a barn, leading to a massive fire which caused much of the old city of Chicago (much of what is now downtown Chicago) to burn down and causing numerous deaths.

Give the song a close listen with your eyes closed, your headphones on, and the volume sufficiently loud, then imagine the sensory and visual feeling of this massive fire building up and spreading, with such intense heat, getting completely out of control and spreading like crazy, the fire trucks coming to try to put it out, and the huge fire eventually being put out (in reality a major two-day rainstorm eventually doused the Chicago fire after it had burned out of control for several days). Brian's music, the specific instrumentation he uses (notice how the intensity of the drums, strings, keyboards, guitars, the wordless voices, and the other percussion instruments build to a peak as the fire builds), then how it all gradually subsides after the musical and emotional climax and the fire is finally exhausted. Finally, as the song concludes and the music dies down, it leads into the soothing words "water, water, water, water..." as the movement segues into the next song.

After you've listened to the song closely, put yourself into the setting, and captured the mental image and intense emotional feel of what the great Chicago fire must have actually been like, through Brian's music and instrumental arrangements, then go watch Brian's band perform the song in concert on the SMiLE live DVD. It is the ultimate concert showpiece, with the whole band and string section in action, playing out this amazing piece of music. There you'll also see the added visual imagery they use in concert with the blazing fires on stage, the fire hats, the fire hose, the whistles, etc.

To me personally, "Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow" is one of the most amazing and sensory rock instrumental pieces I've ever heard or seen live in concert, and with Brian at his very best as a composer and arranger. While this song is in the rock genre, to me it is akin to the very best classical pieces (e.g., Copeland, Stravinsky, Ravel, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Rossini) in how well it captures and depicts through sound and instrumentation some very specific and intense visual and emotional imagery. This song may not be for everyone, but for me it is one of the most amazing, emotionally gripping, and cathartic pieces of popular (or any) music that I have ever experienced. And certainly very deserving of the Grammy it won last year!


Posts: 234
Reply with quote  #35 

Hi Cindy


Here is my vote for this week.


Gold - Be My Baby – The Ronettes

Silver - Warmth of the Sun - Brian Wilson

Bronze - Rhapsody In Blue - George Gershwin

Tin - Element Fire - Mrs. O'Leary's Cow


Graciegirl J

Tom Tobben

Posts: 1,162
Reply with quote  #36 
One more thing -- big thanks to Cantina Margarita for bringing back to us his past BOTB classic, "Die Trompeten von Mexiko" by the inimitable Helge Schneider. It may be have received the lowest points / average score of any song in BOTB history but, for me, it is still one of the most entertaining and humorous songs in our illustrious BOTB history. As I recall, it received nothing but Tin votes during its battle week -- a perfect score!

Always a treat to see/hear it, Cantina!
John E

Posts: 863
Reply with quote  #37 
I always find it hard to pitch a classical or otherwise alternative genre track against rock greats, but I'll go for this order.

1. Be My Baby

2. Warmth of the Sun

3. Rhapsody in Blue

4. Mrs. O'Leary's Cow
paul g adsett

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Posts: 1,399
Reply with quote  #38 
cindy - 'o maid, you started the fire!
you can extinguish the flame!'
a weekend at the rfh,
immersed in two marathon wagner workshops,
as a pre-prelude to attending the whole ring cycle over next week
is this week's poor excuse
for not yet wotan, er, sorry, voting
(and that's next week's reason sorted too)...

tin: 'be my baby'
- as i recall, it's the first words siegfried utters to brünnhilde
after he braves the fiery pyre to rescue her from her sleep
(but, of course, i may be mistaken).
this song deserves better placing in any other week.

bronze: 'mrs o'leary's cow'
- bronze? how could i do this?
magically, majestically magnificent.
a piece of nearly wagnerian proportions,
with its portrayal of elemental forces
(with more than a nod to the masonic trials
that the candidate has to pass through in
 mozart's 'magic flute').
especially after wotan had set those flames around daughter.
(as an aside,
when writer o. henry was on his deathbed
and his chums about him weren't sure if he'd gone,
one of them suggested touching his feet since
'nobody ever died with warm feet'
he's said to have opened an eye and mumbled 'joan of arc did'
before expiring there and then...).

silver: 'rhapsody in blue'
- it's a great, syncopated work that could include
the pitched anvils played as wotan and loge descend into nibelheim.
the piece would be definitely gold were it not this,
for me too jazz age jaunty (and, therefore most authentic?) recording
(for a not modern version,
i'd go for earl wild and the boston pops
or, for a spirited recording, leonard bernstein & the l.a. philharmonic).

rheingold: 'warmth of the sun'
- how can a short popular song win out over a magnificent gershwin piece?
well, because, in a short pop song,
it's an almost perfect utterance of the triumph of the eternal,
redemption, setting everything back in kilter after distress...
not unakin to the whole plot of the ring.

which, on topic, oh yes,
leads me to include a greatly precised version of elements
of the great love duet 'twixt seigfried and brünnhilde 
that include lines such as:
b: 'hail, bright sunlight!
hail, fair sky!
hail, o radiant day!'

s: 'i can see your eyes 
that shine so bright,
i can feel your warm and fragrant breath;
I can hear your song so clear and sweet...'

b: '
virginal light, flare into frenzy,
heavenly wisdom fly to the winds:
love, and love alone inspires all my heart'

b: 'can you not see?
when my eyes blaze on you, then are you not blind?
when my arm’s embrace, not set you on fire?
by the heat of my blood, in its passionate surge,
a fire is kindled - can you not feel?'

s: 'o maid, you started the fire!
you can extinguish the flame!'
'...even if we're just dancing in the
(oops, where did that last line come from?)

thanks for a set of luvverly, gorgeous contenders, cindy.


Posts: 1,190
Reply with quote  #39 
GOLD Warmth Of The Sun - from the first BW solo album I ever bought and I was just reading Paul Williams' review of it earlier today (in a book compilation of his articles, "How Deep Is The Ocean")


BRONZE Rhapsody In Blue

TIN Mrs O'Leary's Cow - couldn't put it higher against this competition
Cindy Hood

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Posts: 1,522
Reply with quote  #40 
Voting is now closed on Brian's birthday week.
Thanks to all who voted in this battle.
Also, a great big thanks to Darren, David and others who found the workable links for all countries.  That's a HUGE help!

Paul, '...even if we're just dancing in the dark'  
Bruce Springsteen's Dancing in the Dark, right?

Tom, you never cease to wow me with your very indepth research and reviews!  I guess the Grammy panel judges felt the same way you did and from the standpoint of how musicians would see it, this is quite a groundbreaking piece of musical art.  To the rest of the masses, especially on here, it seems to instill fear and anxiety.  So, what you said about the feelings this piece gives of the same feelings as during the Chicago fire, hits the nail on the head, or should I say, made the "cow kick the bucket".  Poor cow....

I'll be back a little later with the tallies and winners.

"They're not gonna catch us. We're on a mission from God".
Cindy Hood

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Posts: 1,522
Reply with quote  #41 
Darren and I have matched our tallies perfectly, so without further adieu, here are the official rankings.

GOLD:  The Warmth of the Sun/Brian Wilson at 66 pts. (8G, 8S, 4B, 2T)

SILVER:  Rhapsody In Blue/Gershwin -  58 pts. (7G, 4S, 7B, 4T)
BRONZE:  Be My Baby/The Ronettes - at 57 pts.   (5G, 8S, 4B, 5T)

TiN/PEWTER:  The Elements/Fire/Mrs. O'leary's Cow/Beach Boys - at 39 pts. (1G, 4S, 6B, 11T)
22 voters at 10 pts each: 220

A VERY happy birthday to Brian, indeed - he won the GOLD in his Birthday Battle of the Bands!

Thanks again to everyone!


"They're not gonna catch us. We're on a mission from God".
Darren J. Ray

Posts: 3,431
Reply with quote  #42 
Well done, Cindy. 

And they're in the book - now relegated to page two of this forum. 

It was the first time 'The Warmth of the Sun' from I Just Wasn't Made for These Times had been used. 

The original Beach Boys recording had been used twice. 

In Season I, it won the Gold in Tom Tobben's Week 7 and finished 2nd overall (Season Silver) in the Gold Play-Off. 

In Season V, it won a Silver in Jo McGuire's Week 10, comfortably won the Silver Play-Off, won the Preliminary Final, and again finished overall 2nd (Season Silver) in the Gold Play-Off. 

Then, in the Ultimate Battle to celebrate five completed seasons of the Battle where we pitched the Top 3 from each year against each other, it finished 9th. 

It was the second time around for 'Rhapsody in Blue'. 

Tom also used it in Season I (in Week 8). It won the Gold, came 3rd in the Preliminary, and finished 9th in the Gold Play-Off. 

It was also the second time for 'Be My Baby'. 

It won the Gold in Week 35 of Season III (Sue Schlichter) and came 4th in the Gold Play-Off. 

The Ronettes' Battle record so far is: 

(The Best Part of) Breakin' Up (a Tin in Week 21 of Season II - David Wilson), 
Be My Baby (a Gold in Week 35 of Season III, 4th in the Gold Play-Off - Sue Schlichter), 
So Young (a Bronze in Week 35 of Season III - Sue Schlichter),
I Wonder (a Tin in Week 14 of Season VII - Larry Franz), 
Be My Baby (a Bronze in Week 18 of Season VII - Cindy Hood)

As tipped earlier in the week, it looks very likely to make this year's Bronze Play-Off, such was the closeness of the scores (and the turnout - 22 voters - a sure sign of a popular week). 

It it wins, both it and 'The Warmth of the Sun' and 'Rhapsody in Blue' will progress to the Preliminary Final. 

The top three from that final will progress to the Gold Play-Off. 

It was the first time the 'Fire' track from The Smile Sessions had been used. 

Previously, 'Mrs. O'Leary's Cow' from BWPS had been used in Season I (Week 8, Bronze - Tom Tobben) and in Season VI (Week 34, Gold - t Bedford). 

Neither selection made the play-offs and this version is unlikely to this season, with a low percentage of just 17.73% of the vote. 

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