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The Davenports’ Scott Klass joined me for a typically in-depth hour on the July 18 edition of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation to talk about his wonderful new album, Don’t Be Mad at Me, another feather in the Davenports’ cap. That’s a particularly apt way to describe a collection of 10 melodically-charged, literate pop songs gathered under one roof.
The lovely title song, one of my favorites from Klass’s esteemed catalog, and one of the finest melodic pop songs in recent memory, barely scratches the surface of the joys that this album brings. “I Don’t Know What to Do,” a miraculous Klass and David Myhr cowrite, and the first single, a fine ballad called “Where Shall We Hang Elena?”, are two more gems that will no doubt burrow in your brain upon first listen.
Scott and I spoke about his songwriting, collaborating with Pure Pop Radio favorite David Myhr, and Don’t Be Mad at Me’s attractive art direction (by Winterpills’ Philip B. Price). We also played and looked deep into three of the songs on his miraculous new album, and took a Davenports classic from Speaking of the Davenports, “I’ll Come Down,” for a spin.
Listen to my interview with the Davenports’ Scott Klass from the July 18 edition of Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation by clicking the play button on the following player, or click on the Pure Pop Radio button to the left to download (then right click and choose “Save audio as” to save the file to your computer). (This interview is presented in scoped format; the songs have been removed due to copyright concerns.)
Listen to a wide selection of previously-aired Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation interviews by clicking here.
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Pure Pop Radio’s signature shows, Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation (Wednesday, 9 pm ET) and Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show (Thursday, 8 pm ET), air exclusively on Pop that Goes Crunch Radio.
The subtly pounding, lithe piano run which appoints itself at the start of the Davenports’ achingly beautiful new song, “Don’t Be Mad at Me,” now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio, is joined by a gregarious, almost romanticized string section pleased to acquaint itself with a very “Martha, My Dear” ambiance in tow, an ambiance that later trades off with a lovely pop melody and, at the end, an even harder-edged, slightly manic, giddy even, melodic electric guitar attack straight out of the Carpenters “Goodbye to Love” school, but for now leads into the first words of the opening verse, which themselves lead to a cautionary plea: “Betty, don’t be mad at me, Betty,” delivered by the always soothing and satisfying voice of Scott Klass as he seeks to make it all better with more than a few dollops of sincerity. “Don’t cry girl, I’ve got your keys,” he sings, because the time has come to take pause and leave the driving to someone else.
“It’s not conspiracy, revenge or trying to hurt your feelings, Betty,” Klass asserts, lovingly. It’s just the way it is, is what it all means, and you barely wrestle with the idea that at a certain point in everyone’s life–yours, for example–time will come to change the course and allow a loved one or a friendly neighbor or someone else with the power of love in his or her pocket to help, just help, just help steer the course. “But it’s clear now that you’re mixing up your Christophers and Larrys…”
And so it goes as Klass, who wrote the song, sings a litany of wise words that make it all clear as we tumble along the way in our lives. This gorgeous creation, just such a grand achievement and a raise of the bar in the ongoing songwriting life, blinks brightly with all the hallmarks of a Davenports song: the way the words match the rhythm of the melody around quick breaths; the seemingly disparate instrumental elements that come together perfectly to create a winsome, winning musical base; and the idea that a whole life, and all its twists and turns, can be communicated quite clearly in only four minutes and 13 seconds with lively invention and the truth of the songwriter’s craft.
Yes, this is a pop song with strings and a catchy melody and percussion and swooping background vocal harmonies reminiscent of the closing sections of Andy Partridge’s “1,000 Umbrellas,” and it just begs, literally begs that you sing along with it (and you can, because the video, which you can watch below, includes some of the lyrics right there on the screen) and, even if there wasn’t any begging going on, you’d want to sing along anyway, because it’s that kind of a delightful number and that’s what great pop music does: it includes you as if you’re a member of the family, and, of course, you are.
The Davenports have never been anything less than top-flight purveyors of fanciful, melodic pop songs. Here, as stated above, they have upped their game and delivered a momentous achievement. There is nothing like this song in the whole wide world–a world, as depicted in this song’s video, that is alive and well within the confines of a View-Master lying in a box left silently on a sidewalk. A young girl, curious as to the box’s contents, takes hold of the View-Master and there is Betty’s, or someone’s, life, conveyed to the girl in one snapshot after another; little wisps out of time that tell a story.
“Generally,” it is said on the band’s website, this song is “about salad days to sad days, youth to old age, power to weakness, forefront to backdrop. ‘Betty’ is an old great aunt who was once almost like a matriarch of the family–strong, with style, a leader, who drove a huge old Caddy. The narrator is a younger relative who has to take away the keys to the Caddy because Betty has grown old and demented.”
“Betty, don’t be mad at me…” Undoubtedly, this song could be about someone in your life, which makes the message universal. Betty, well, could well be you, some day.
Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation’s special Drink a Toast to Innocence: A Tribute to Lite Rock Week ended this past Saturday, capping off six days of talks with Producer Andrew Curry and nine of the artists who contributed tracks to the project. All 10 interviews are now posted on the In Conversation PodOMatic podcast page, ready for you to listen to and download.
In addition to the extensive and in-depth interview with Andrew Curry, you’ll find talks with:
– Linus of Hollywood (“More than I Can Say”)
– Kelly Jones (“I’d Really Love to See You Tonight”)
– Brandon Schott (“Thank You for Being a Friend”)
– Christian Phillips (The Sonic Executive Sessions) (“On and On”)
– Wyatt Funderburk (“Bluer than Blue”)
– Willie Wisely (“So Into You”)
– Michael Carpenter (“We Don’t Talk Anymore”)
– Lannie Flowers (“Dance With Me”)
– Scott Klass (The Davenports) (“Just When I Needed You Most”)
If you already have Drink a Toast to Innocence, your enjoyment of this compilation will be suitably enhanced. If you’re new to the album, you’ll be moved to purchase it and enjoy it along with the rest of us.
Thanks, as always, for listening to Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation!
We shouted it from the rooftops throughout 2013, and now it’s come true: Drink a Toast to Innocence: A Tribute to Lite Rock has been showered with huzzahs from seven music critics, websites and a rockin’ National Public Radio affiliate down in sunny Florida. And we’re going to celebrate all next week on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation with six days of in-depth interviews with the compilation’s executive producer, Andrew Curry, and nine of the artists who contributed tracks. All told, these interviews constitute the bible on one of the best various artist collections to be released last year or any other year.
Beginning Monday, January 20, and ending on Saturday, January 25, Alan Haber will be talking to Andrew and the incredibly talented group of artists that contributed to Drink a Toast to Innocence. On Monday and Wednesday nights, and on Friday afternoon, Andrew steps up to the microphone and takes you from the idea’s inception to the compilation’s release. Everything you’ve wanted to know about this landmark record will be communicated during this hour and 45 minute-long chat that features tracks from the album. And then Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, it’s the artists’ turn to talk about the tracks they tackled, taking you from choosing the songs to recording them and beyond. We’re writing the audio book on Drink a Toast to Innocence, dear music fans, and you can only hear it on Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation.
Here’s the on-air schedule for this exciting group of interviews:
– Monday, January 20 and Wednesday, January 22 at 8 pm ET: Andrew Curry (also Friday, January 24 at 4 pm ET)
– Tuesday, January 21, 8 pm ET: Michael Carpenter talks about “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” Kelly Jones talks about “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight,” and Brandon Schott talks about “Thank You for Being a Friend”
– Thursday, January 23, 8 pm ET: Lannie Flowers talks about “Dance With Me,” Wyatt Funderburk talks about “Bluer than Blue,” and Linus of Hollywood talks about “More than I Can Say”
– Saturday, January 25, 6 pm ET: Christian Phillips (The Sonic Executive Sessions) talks about “On and On,” Scott Klass (The Davenports) talks about “Just When I Needed You Most,” and Willie Wisely talks about “So Into You”
Don’t miss this exciting event! Jot down the dates and times and immerse yourself in an unprecedented group of interviews with pop’s greatest artists and the man of the hour, Executive Producer and Lite-rock Impresario Andrew Curry!