Maybe the Pop Song - in its classic form of verse/chorus/verse . . . and don’t forget the bridge - belongs to the 20th century; outdated, unloved and irrelevant in the Music Business of the 21st century that values, it seems, midriffs and obvious tattoos over melodies and surprising chord changes.
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This would not be the best news for Jim Boggia, for Jim Boggia writes Pop Songs. Pop Songs like the kind found in record collections when record collections were on . . . well, records. Sometimes, Boggia even writes Pop Songs about record collections, as he does in ‘Bubblegum 45s’, with its chorus: “And I know that I’m gonna be right/Right back in my room like I was four/Bubblegum 45s scattered on the floor/Spin ‘Crimson and Clover’/sing along over and over/trying to get it right.”
“I grew up alone, I mean, really alone.” he says, explaining the genesis of the tune. “No siblings, in the middle of nowhere with no kids around me. I had a guitar, a record player and a stack of singles and about 20 albums my Uncles had given me. That was my life for, like, about ten years when I was growing up when I wasn’t in school . . . and what I learned from being around kids in school was that the guitar and the record player had a lot more to offer.”
Boggia absorbed these records - by artists like the Beatles, The Kinks, Harry Nilsson, Simon and Garfunkel, Sly and the Family Stone, Cat Stevens, Stevie Wonder and a host of others from Pop and Rock’s purple patch, roughly from ‘65 to ‘75 - “down to their molecular level, I sequenced their DNA” he says.
Absorbed them and synthesized them and what came out is a sound both old and new, joyous and infectious. A musical landscape broad enough to contain not just the requisite bass, drums, guitars, but also glockenspiel, cellos, old funky keyboards like Mellotrons and Optigans, newer technology like loops and virtual synths, even toy pianos, slinkys and bounced basketballs.
“Anything that makes sound fascinates me and I always look for ways to employ unusual sounds” Jim claims. In fact, he’s been known to fill stages with various instruments and noisemakers and amaze audiences by darting back and forth between them at shows, sometimes even during the same song.
Those audiences include those old enough to remember firsthand the music that influences Boggia’s writing, (though Boggia himself isn’t - “The music people were listening to when I was young was crap. If my Uncles hadn’t given me their old records, I’d probably sound like Kajagoogoo, or worse, Journey”). But a surprisingly large number of his fans are young enough to have grown up on a musical diet of Britney/O-Town/Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit.
And Boggia’s list of fans also includes the likes of Aimee Mann, Jill Sobule (a frequent stage partner and collaborator), and Michelle Branch who, after hearing Jim’s debut album ‘Fidelity is the Enemy’ and seeing him perform live has invited him to open shows on her current tour.
But back to the Pop Songs.
Boggia’s Pop Songs include the infectious ‘Several Thousand’ - a surefire radio hit that often becomes a spontaneous audience sing-along at shows.
He covers familiar topics like the up side of love (“And now I look/upon my life/ and I can’t believe the view.” - from ‘That, For Me, Is You’) and its downside (“So take my latest failure/and be sure to write it down/so you can pour it out like water on me/when I start to drown.” - from ‘Black and Blue’).
He also covers less than usual topics both light (‘O/P’ is about optimism, though in the context of warning one who doesn’t have it - “There are silver clouds all over the sky/but you’ll find the black lining.”) and dark (post ‘FITE’ song ‘Where’s the Party?’ deals with friends caught in an endless cycle of drinking and drugging - “He says he doesn’t have the bread to pay the bills to keep the lights on/but then I watch him give a guy some money for a bag of blow.)
And, apparently, a few songs to spare. His song ‘Glory’, written for Jaci Valasquez, became a #1 Billboard CCM hit. And time to spare? Boggia teamed up with fellow Philadelphia songsmiths Ben Arnold, Scott Bricklin and Joseph Parsons and formed 4 WAY STREET. Originally conceived as a one-time event, the combination proved so successful that their first album was just released on Sanctuary Records (BMG), featuring songs written individually by each as well as several co-written by all four.
“The harmonies are something really special, unusual for now,” Jim says of the collaboration “kind of like what The Band used to do, blending but remaining individually identifiable at the same time. Plus, It’s another vehicles to get the songs out”
So, Jim Boggia keeps a candle burning in the window for the seemingly beleaguered Pop Song.
And since he was named “Artist of the New Millennium” at the 2000 Philadelphia Music Conference, maybe the Pop Song has a future in the 21st century after all.
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