Monday, August 11, 2008

Three Years o' Fong Songs

We've reached a very special milestone here at Fong Songs. This is my 300th post, but more importantly today is the Three Year Anniversary of this blog's existence.

"Three-- Oh three-- it's a magic number. Oh yes it is, it's the magic number."

It's hard to believe that I've been at this for 3 years and it's been a blast. Initially blogging along for a readership of one (me), not a lot has really changed in my approach even as the visitor count very slowly grew, not that I'm immune to occasionally "chasing" readers in an effort to recapture conspicuous spikes in traffic.

Now that I really think about it, the Fong Songs experiment pre-dates the blog itself, initially started as a beta gmail account (since abandoned) with a shared password so that my friends and I (mostly me) could "post" unique or favourite songs with a little story to go with it. Eventually everyone lost interest as it was a pretty unwieldy process for sharing songs. In Summer 2005, I moved to Vancouver for 2 months to take a part-time course in 2D animation. Armed with my first post-switch Mac, I discovered a few things that summer that eventually led to the creation of Fong Songs as we now know it. Following a link on The Covers Project, I found myself completely drawn into the wonderful world of Coverville, a magical land where covers reigned supreme. I had never even heard of podcasting before and here was Brian Ibbott with already more than 100 shows under his belt. That's when I first got an inkling that I wasn't the only one obsessed with covers. Hours were spent crawling through the Coverville archives with delirious ears. I also stumbled upon Liza's Copy, Right? (dearly missed) and the concept of MP3 blogs in general. Oh, what I had been missing out on! I started wondering what it would take to start my own blog (answer: not much), since I was already notorious for usurping control of the music selections on car rides. Someone distinctly noted that there was an absurdly high ratio of cover songs to originals on my iPod, which had never really occurred to me. My first two posts very tellingly concerned the White Stripes, as Jack & Meg inevitably come up more often than any other subject. I noted in that first post that my covers collection was pushing 1200 and now that number is closer to 8400. There are songs I've been "meaning to post" for years now and still haven't gotten around to them. If and when this blog goes belly up, it certainly won't be for lack of material.

Since this began, the cover blog corner of the blogsphere has blossomed into what I like to refer to as a covers community. Cover Freak, Coverin' the Mouse, Cover Lay Down, Cover Me, Blowin' Your Cover, and probably more have all sprouted up in the last couple years. Having these cover colleagues has lead to some mutual guest posts, which I had never imagined when I started off, not to mention being invited to partake in a Cover Blog Roundtable on an episode of Coverville. Victory! So what does the future have in store for Fong Songs? From the get-go, my slapdash tagline has been "cover songs, my fav bands, and whatever the hell I feel like" and that pretty much sums up everything I write about. Mostly cover songs with the leeway to venture off into fanatical ravings about my favourite bands and I look to continue that tradition. Boyhowdy once wrote that I have an "incredible ability to compile cross-genre coverlists the likes of which [he's] never seen" in regards to my penchant for thematically linked cover songs and just a couple days ago, reader Tarty made the comment that "reading your blog is often like doing a paint-by-numbers project but on a time/space continuum". Those two quotes both warm my little ego and describe Fong Songs better than I can put it myself.

On to the covers!

The first time I heard of Three is a Magic Number was when my sister came back from a Captain Tractor show and raved about a new addition to the live show, "an awesome sing-along song about the 3 times table". Sure enough I was treated to this song at the next show I attended. The local Edmonton band, who we've seen innumerable times over the years, had recently gained a new member keyboard/accordionist Jason Kodie. this was the one song where he would take over lead vocal duties and teach the audience a basic math lesson. Admittedly Schoolhouse Rock! is a bit before my time, but I was aware of it mainly through that spot-on parody of I'm Just a Bill on The Simpsons. Soon after "discovering" Three is a Magic Number, I found the wonderful tribute album Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks at the library, a full album of Schoolhouse Rock! covers including Blind Melon's take on that very song.

Schoolhouse Rock - Three is a Magic Number
Here's the original, written and performed by Bob Dorough who composed the majority of the Schoolhouse Rock! tunes. This was actually the very first song ever recorded for Schoolhouse Rock!.

Bob Dorough - Three is a Magic Number
Bob Dorough revisits the classic song in this awesome live cover. In light of the fact that the crowd seems to be filled with some kids that "are bigger than the regular kids", he takes the song all the way up to 3 times 20, which makes the counting backwards part a lot trickier than you'd expect.

Blind Melon - Three is a Magic Number

The Jellydots - Three is a Magic Number
I love this rock cover from The Jellydots, a kids band started by music teacher Doug Snyder.

Elizabeth Mitchell - Three is a Magic Number
Embrace - Three is a Magic Number (live)
Wilco - Three is a Magic Number (live)
Jeff Buckley - Three is a Magic Number

Jack Johnson - The 3 R's
From the Curious George soundtrack, Jack Johnson expands on the original multiplication theme and teaches a lesson about The 3 R's: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. It's funny, I remember a childhood jingle that included a 4th R: Recover. What ever happened to that?

De La Soul - Three is a Magic Number
A riff on Three is a Magic Number from hip hop group De La Soul's 1989 debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising. Recently, they're probably most well known for collaborating with the Gorillaz on the Grammy-winning Feel Good, Inc. This track also samples the drums from Led Zeppelin's The Crunge.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Fongobongo! Looking forward to another 300 posts. :)

Ray said...

Congratulations sir! 100 posts a year is equally impressive, especially when most involve such in-depth writing. Keep up the great work!

PS. Coincidentally enough, I just acquired Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks a couple days ago. I was shocked then there were so many SR covers, and reading your post I'm shocked all over again.

Anonymous said...

Bon anniversaire

Anonymous said...

I hope we will see your 600th post and 6th birthday !

quietcore said...

happy birthday fong songs! i hope you keep going and i hope one day to be able to post half as much as you do, i'm off to an awful start!

Kurtis said...

Way to go dude! Happy anniversary!

Fongolia said...

Thanks everyone!

Stéphane said...

Bon anniversaire ! Shame on me, I only knew the De La Soul version of this song, thank you for the increase of my musical culture...

rod said...

This song actually appeared on TV before Schoolhouse Rock. Chuck Jones produced a program called "The Curiosity Shop" which starred my childhood crush, Pamelyn Ferdin. That's where I first saw the animated piece which later ran as part of Schoolhouse Rock, and fell in love with the song.

Happy anniversary!

Dane said...

Happy blog birthday! I found you only a couple of months ago, and I see I've been missing out.