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VALERIE, 2007

Lead Vocal: Juanita Mankuleo

"If it wasn't for Amy ... one hundred percent I wouldn't have picked up a guitar."   

                                                -- Adele

The excitement and energy of grunge began to fade as the raw emotion of Nirvana turned into the "pop grunge" of  The Foo Fighters. The dark side of globalization meant Californication wasn't restricted to just Hollywood; it was equally applicable halfway across the world in Bollywood. Commercial standardization led to cultural homogeneity. Depth was irrelevant. All that mattered was the illusion of fame. Reality TV took over the world. Reality TV even took over the music industry.

American Idol and Sa-Re-Ga-Ma were must-watch TV, spawning carefully groomed and cultivated singers across continents.

But brewing in England was the 3rd 'British invasion,' this time led by women. Just like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones took the music of Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters and made it their own, a new generation of British singers looked to the music of jazz greats like Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughn for creative inspiration.

Amy Winehouse was the antithesis of the manufactured reality TV pop star. She wrote her own deeply personal songs, and sang them in a voice that belonged to someone 2 or 3 times her age. She also happened to wear her humanity and vulnerabilities on her sleeve, and for this was relentlessly hounded by paparazzi during her years of commercial success. Without a band of brothers or sisters to help cope, she was 27 years old when she died on July 23, 2011.

 

~~~

I wasn't very familiar with Amy Winehouse's music till a couple of years ago when we were looking for songs to fill out our set list. I asked band members for suggestions, and Juanita came up with "Valerie," a song originally by the Liverpool indie band The Zutons and covered by Amy.

We all thought we were going to play the upbeat, funky version of the song that Amy recorded with Mark Ronson; but Juanita brought us the slower, jazzier BBC Studios version, and I think it's nicer and truer to Winehouse's spirit.

 

Juanita sings it here, with Bobby filling out the harmonies. Parthiv plays some super cool bass. The shaker Parthiv plays on the drum track is actually a children's toy that has inexplicably been lying around our house for the last 2l years or so!

The song is in the key of Eb, and most of it is sung over just two chords: EbMaj7 and Fm7. I learned guitar listening to The Beatles, and for the longest time, I thought that 7th chords were the most important chord type you had to know! I've got to think the prolific use of seventh chords is a Liverpool thing.

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The 21 year old rattle.