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21 January 2010 @ 07:50 am
Bp's Song of the Week #72: Tom Cochrane "All the King's Men" (acoustic)  
We’re headed back up to Canada for a stunning version of Tom Cochrane’s “All the King’s Men” (yes, to those Stateside, Tom actually recorded more than just “Life is a Highway” and Red Rider’s “Lunatic Fringe”).

Tom Cochrane (with Tara MacLean) – “All the King’s Men”

My first exposure to Tom was that guitar riff breaking the atmospheric swells at the beginning of “Lunatic Fringe” back in the early ‘80s. Oh, and how about the pickslide down the neck of the guitar - it was enough to put chills down your spine – and Tom’s distinctive searching vocal, calling out, “Lunatic fringe, I know you’re out there…” Of course being in the States, that was basically the only thing I remember about Tom until 1992 when the explosion of the summertime, top-down anthem, “Life is a Highway” stormed up the charts. Forget for a moment that you think of Tom as a one-hit wonder (he was far from it in Canada) and the millions of times you heard that track, so much so that you might never want to hear it again. After you listen to this track, click the link below for Highway and listen again – it’s a great track. And if you dig into that album, Mad Mad World, there are some absolute gems on there (“Flowers in the Concrete,” “Sinking Like a Sunset,” “The Secret is to Know…”).

It was that album that spurred me to check out the Red Rider material and Tom’s other solo work. I would gobble up each new release and that was the case when 1997’s Songs of a Circling Spirit was released. A collection of Tom’s Red Rider material and his solo tracks re-worked acoustically. The song on the album that turned my head when I heard it was “All the King’s Men.” The fragility and the pain; it was palpable. But while it was sorrowful, it was hopeful as well. And while I had a handful of his records already it wasn’t until this version that I realized how genuine and rich his voice was. Sure he could tear it up on “Highway” and there are some sizzling cuts on the Ragged Ass Road CD, but this song and the album as a whole really makes you appreciate not only his songwriting, but that brilliant voice. Team that up with the female backing vocal which highlighted, but didn’t detract, and this was as close to perfection as you could reach. Little did I know that 3 years later I would discover that female vocalist on her own and she would set my musical world on its ear.

The production on the track as well is wonderful – check out the tone on the acoustics from Tom & Bill Bell. The percussion, very light, but effective – everything is shaping those vocals from Tom & Tara. But everything is breathing in its own space, nothing is crowded and it sounds as if they are in your living room. But your living room never sounded this good.

Listen the first time and just bask in the beauty of the song. Then spin it again and focus in on Tom’s vocals and arrangement and texture of Tara’s backing vocals – pure magic.


All the King’s Men
Shut your eyes my darling there's nothing you can say
the man in the moon won't fall on you
he doesn't live there anyway
you don't have to be a soldier to fight in your private war
let the blood you might see rain down on me
you don't have to fight no more

there's nothing you can say
there's nothing you can send
there's nothing that can change all that
not all the king's men

I’ll ride upon your stallion
You’ll ride upon my mare
we'll ride so far ride so hard
far away from here
when we look back upon them
it all will become so clear
the gates will open up for us
we won't have no more fears

there's nothing you can say
there's nothing you can send
there's nothing that can change all that
not all the king's men
look away look away

you might be tired and troubled but not today
when they come down upon you
I won't let them get anything on you
and we'll dream away all those fears and troubles may
look away

we both were motherless children
they sent us separate ways
the family you'd seen beat down on you
mine it was okay
I've come to take you back may
save you from this fate
they won't have any more chances
to treat you in this way

there's nothing you can say
there's nothing you can send
there's nothing that can change all that
not all the king's men

there's nothing you can say
there's nothing you can send
there's nothing that can change all that
not all the king's men

More Tom Cochrane:
Life is a Highway (video)
Sinking Like a Sunset
Just Scream