Crazy Heart: A Q&A With Ryan Bingham

American Songwriter

Ryan Bingham has lived an itinerant life. Before becoming a professional musician, Bingham spent several years on the bull-riding circuit, a job that he says involves as much “bullshit” as the music biz. Today, the Texas-reared songwriter is best known for penning “The Weary Kind,” the Academy Award-winning song for the 2009 film Crazy Heart.

We sat down with Bingham at Bonnaroo, where he treated us to a performance of “Bread & Water,” a cut off his first album Mescalito. During our interview, he talked about his development as an artist, the inspiration behind the “The Weary Kind,” and why the state of Texas produces a special kind of songwriter.


Bruce Springsteen, “Brilliant Disguise”

September 10th, 2012

American Songwriter

Coming off the mega-success of Born In The USA, Bruce Springsteen could have easily churned out another ten rock and roll anthems and continued down that lucrative road endlessly. Instead, he turned inward with an album that delved into the deepest crevices of one of the most mysterious and terrifying places on earth: The human heart.

That album, Tunnel Of Love, is now adored by The Boss’ faithful for its uncompromising and unflinching look at relationship trauma, the same traits that might have turned off some of the casual fans back when it was released in ’87. Bruce chose “Brilliant Disguise” as the song to introduce this dark classic to the world, and the song still stands as one of his most compelling some 25 years after it was first released.

“Brilliant Disguise” reached #5 on the pop charts, helped along by a soaring arrangement featuring E Streeters Max Weinberg, Danny Federici, and Roy Bittan, that’s reminiscent of classic Roy Orbison. The sugary sound surely helped the medicine go down, because it’s rare for lyrics so bleak to invade Billboard’s rankings.

As Springsteen said when performing the song on VH1’s Storytellers in 2005, “I guess it sounds like a song of betrayal — who’s that person sleeping next to me, who am I? Do I know enough about myself to be honest with that person?” Indeed, the song’s narrator incriminates himself as much as he does his wayward significant other.

Bruce quickly shatters expectations by introducing the romantic scene of the couple dancing and then undercutting it: “What are those words whispered/Just as you turn away.” With the tone of paranoia set, it’s no surprise that this guy can’t escape his suspicions, not even in his home, not even in his bedroom.

At least he is self-aware enough to understand that his issues have more to do than with just his choice of lover: “I want to know if it’s you I don’t trust/’Cause I damn sure don’t trust myself.” Nonetheless, he gets drawn into the deceptive give-and-take. In the final refrain, he tells her, “So when you look at me/You better look hard and look twice/Is that me baby or just a brilliant disguise?”

If that wasn’t dire enough, Springsteen throws in an epilogue in which the narrator surveys the crumbling kingdom of his love and musters enough useless wisdom to give advice to anyone listening: “God have mercy on the man/Who doubts what he’s sure of.” It’s one of the best closing lines in rock.

In hindsight, many people read Springsteen’s own marital problems (he divorced actress Julianne Phillips a year after the album’s release) into this song and some of the others on Tunnel Of Love, but that somehow diminishes his accomplishment. “Brilliant Disguise” is relevant to anyone who has ever experienced the lonely feeling that occurs when you realize the person you love most is the person you trust least.

“Brilliant Disguise”

I hold you in my arms
as the band plays
What are those words whispered baby
just as you turn away
I saw you last night
out on the edge of town
I wanna read your mind
To know just what I’ve got in this new thing I’ve found
So tell me what I see
when I look in your eyes
Is that you baby
or just a brilliant disguise

I heard somebody call your name
from underneath our willow
I saw something tucked in shame
underneath your pillow
Well I’ve tried so hard baby
but I just can’t see
What a woman like you
is doing with me
So tell me who I see
when I look in your eyes
Is that you baby
or just a brilliant disguise

Now look at me baby
struggling to do everything right
And then it all falls apart
when out go the lights
I’m just a lonely pilgrim
I walk this world in wealth
I want to know if it’s you I don’t trust
’cause I damn sure don’t trust myself

Now you play the loving woman
I’ll play the faithful man
But just don’t look too close
into the palm of my hand
We stood at the alter
the gypsy swore our future was right
But come the wee wee hours
Well maybe baby the gypsy lied
So when you look at me
you better look hard and look twice
Is that me baby
or just a brilliant disguise

Tonight our bed is cold
I’m lost in the darkness of our love
God have mercy on the man
Who doubts what he’s sure of

– Written by Bruce Springsteen

Amy Winehouse: only now can we glimpse her legacy

Amy Winehouse: ‘There’s nothing more pure apart from your love of music’

Via theguardian

Like many other dead artists, it’s easy to remember the late singer as a tragic caricature. But that betrays her real musical worth

On the first anniversary of the death of Amy Winehouse, found in her bed at her north London home, the afternoon after a night of furious drinking. It was a strangely quiet end to a life racked by drug abuse, musical accolades and wild, reckless love affairs; an evening, according to her bodyguard, of television, vodka and laughter.

In the aftermath, the days were filled with a great swirl of tributes from her admirers, with the graffiti that appeared on the walls of Camden, with the fans who flocked to her local pub, the Hawley Arms, and left flowers outside her home. “We all love you and will continue to love you,” read one. “Your legend lives on.”

As the months rolled by, the fuss slowly settled: the paparazzi decamped from her stomping ground; her parents, Mitch and Janis, began to speak to the press less often. A foundation was set up in her name.

Last December, Island Records released Lioness: Hidden Treasures, a collection of unreleased songs and demos selected by Winehouse’s family along with producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi. It immediately reached No 1 in the UK album charts, selling almost 200,000 copies in its first week. To some it seemed rushed out with undue haste, but for others it met not only a demand but a need – solace for the devastated fans who craved more of her very particular brand of salty, rough-edged soul.

It was also, crucially, the first step in the shift away from the Winehouse of common caricature, the Olive Oyl figure with the beehive, and the drug abuse, the saucy mouth and the baleful talk of “Blake Incarcerated”; the artist people had sadly come to expect – who had once offered to lamp a member of the audience at Glastonbury, and who had last graced a stage at a festival in Serbia, where she stood swaying and mumbling before a baying audience of 20,000.

How we process the death of an artist and how their legacy is then established is a peculiar and somewhat unsettling art. There is a gulf to be bridged between the rawness of a musician’s departure and the new world of biopics and boxsets; a period of grace, in which their image and their music must lie in state.

But the velocity of our world now, and the encyclopaedic inclinations of modern technology, make this period of sitting musical shiva harder. In our desire to refresh and consume new entertainment, we are eager to forget that which went before; and should we wish to remember, all of the misdemeanours, the unflattering photographs, the phone camera footage of that shambolic performance in Belgrade are preserved online in perpetuity.

On the cover of its latest issue, Q magazine labels Winehouse “the voice of our time”. It is a bold claim (and some might argue that the true voice of our time is the autotuned drone of American pop), but it is another stride towards the cultivation of her legacy, the fading of those images of the singer roaming the streets with bloodied feet and wild eyes.

After all, though she provided fodder for the gossip columns and the morally outraged, Winehouse also brought something remarkable to the music world, a tarry, beetle-black voice and lyrical humour. A songwriter who wrote of an intensely female experience, of the pain of love, as well as the hunger for sex, drugs and alcohol. And, of course, she helped create an appetite for the soulful British voice, paving the way for the likes of Adele, Duffy and Plan B. It is the voice that we hope will be remembered.

A few months ago, Sony released The Pearl Sessions, a 40th-anniversary edition of Janis Joplin’s first solo album, with previously unreleased recordings and demos. I was struck afresh by that extraordinary voice, by all the hurt and joy and desire wrapped up in the way she sang. And I thought not of the singer dead on the floor beside her bed at the Landmark Hotel in Los Angeles, of the heroin and alcohol and her final, scattered months, but only of the sweet release of her songs. This is how we love an artist and continue to love them. This is how the legend lives on.

• This article was amended on 24 July 2012. The original said a drug addiction charity had been set up in Amy Winehouse’s name. The Amy Winehouse Foundation helps to support young people who are in need for many reasons, including ill health, disability, financial disadvantage or addiction.

A 12-year-old Amy Winehouse wrote that she wanted to make people forget their troubles. On the anniversary of her death, Tim Jonze talks to those who knew her at the start of an extraordinary career

Amy Winehouse in her absolute prime, you MUST WATCH:

On the first anniversary of Winehouse’s death, it’s worth remembering just what a natural, instinctive musician she was. Her later, often shambolic shows (in particular that heartbreaking final performance in Belgrade) have gone some way to obscuring the memory of Winehouse at her best: she was one of the last decade’s true superstars, a performer who could be strong, emotionally devastating, yet vulnerable, too. A 2006 appearance at the Other Voices festival in Dingle, which screens for the first time on BBC4 on Monday night, remains one of her most powerful: the singer is mesmerising as she interprets several songs from Back to Black over a stripped-back band.

Airing on BBC4 Monday July 23rd at 10pm and the opening film of the East End Film Festival on July 3rd this BBC Arena / Other Voices co-production with exclusive concert and archive footage, highlights Amy’s unique talent and explores her deep affection for jazz, soul and gospel.

Music artist (occupation)

A music artist is an individual that creates and releases music through a record label or independently. Working as a music artist requires an immense amount mental and physical conditioning as music artist live very erratic, nomadic, taxing lifestyles. Music artists spend long nights in the studio recording music, travel constantly performing their music and also have to deal with the uncertainty of their income. Although it can be a lonely occupation, it is one of the most oversaturated occupations today.[1]

Music artists are paid in a very different manner than most conventional occupations. Instead of receiving a wage from a single employer like most occupations, music artists have what are called income streams. These income streams are the different avenues through which the music artists receive compensation for their work.[2]

Mechanical Royalties

Music Artists make most of their money from what are referred to as mechanical royalties. Mechanical royalties are the payment the music artist will receive per song per album sold. The current mechanical royalty rate is 9.1 cents per song per album.[3] For example if a music artist releases a ten-song album that sells five hundred thousand copies, the mechanical royalties would equal:

500,000 (albums sold) x 9.1 cents (per song) = $45,000 $45,000 (per song rate) x 10 (ten-song album) = $450,000

At the end of each quarter, meaning at the end of every March, June, September and December, the artists will receive a check from their record label for their calculated mechanical royalties earned.[3] Mechanical royalties used to be the way music artists made most their money but as record sales have decreased due to digital downloading this is no longer the case.

Performance Royalties

Performance royalties are monies a music artist is paid every time his or her song is performed. “Performed” in this sense is any time the song is transmitted digitally, performed live, broadcast and/or played in a public place.[4] These monies are collected by Performing Rights Organizations (PROs). What these organizations do is retrieve money on behalf of the artist every time his or her songs are performed to ensure the artist is being properly compensated for their work. In the United States the three major PROs, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. In order to be properly compensated music artists must choose which PRO they will have collect their performance royalties. Upon the release of their music to the public and use in different types of media, their PRO will start collecting their performance royalties.[5] At the end of each quarter, meaning at the end of every March, June, September and December, the artists will receive a check for the performance royalties collected from the prior quarter.[5]

Synchronization Rights

Synchronization rights are the monies a music artist receives when their music is synchronized to a video, be it a music video, a movie, television show or commercial.[4] A music artist can choose whether or not to grant a license to anyone interested in synchronize his or her song to a visual. This is a very common thing, especially if a music artist releases a very popular song. Companies will want to use that song in commercials to better market their products. Movie studios such as Universal acquire thousands of synchronization licenses every year for music they put in their movies.[4] Because of the immense use of music in marketing, granting synchronization licenses has become the way in which music artists make most of their money.

Special Permission

Music artists also make money by licensing their songs to stores, restaurants and nightclubs that allow these places of business to play their music.[4] Music artists usually grant these places of business “blanket licenses” that allow them to play a collection of songs instead of licensing each song individually. Stores such as Walmart, Best Buy, GAP are all holders of blanket licenses that allow them to play music.[5]


Music artists are businesses in the sense of their ability to generate revenue from selling a product.[5] In order to continue to generate that revenue they have to continue making product to sell. In order to focus on doing so, most music artists hire a team to handle everything they either do not have the time or knowledge to handle. This teams job, as a whole, is to ensure the music artist’s business dealings, legal matters and overall comfort are taken care of so they can make music and thus money.[1]


A manager is an individual or company that guides the professional career of a music artist in the entertainment industry.[5] The manager overlooks the day-to-day business affairs of the artist. This is usually the first person on the team of any music artist. In the early stages of a music artists’ career, the manager usually assumes the role of business manager, as well as booking agent.[5] As the music artist’s career grows it will become necessary to hire individuals who’s sole duties are the responsibility of those position but until that becomes the case the manager usually handles them (10). The manager receives a compensation of 10-20% of the music artists’ gross income. The exact percentage, and sometimes the monies the percentage will be applied, is negotiated between the music artist and the manager.[5] This commonly happens early in the music artist’s career before any major income is being generated.

Entertainment Lawyer

An entertainment lawyer handles all legal matters for the music artist. As contracts and agreements are a commonality in the music industry, it is absolutely imperative that a music artist has an entertainment lawyer on their team.[5] An entertainment lawyer’s duties include handling talent agreements, producer agreements, synchronization licenses, music industry negotiations and general intellectual property issues, especially relating to copyright.[6] Most music industry contracts are lengthy, densely worded and are usually written to be negotiated. Thus every music artist should have an entertainment lawyer that can comprehend contract language and can negotiate terms favorable to the artist.[1]


Because of the very strange means and irregular manner, compared to a standard occupation, a music artist receives his or her income an accountant is almost always necessary to have on their team.[1] All income a music artist receives is untaxed. Mechanical royalties, performance royalties and money acquired from granting synchronization and general licenses all comes to the artist untaxed.[4] Also, music artists receive several checks, from several different places that can easily become difficult to keep track of. Not only does this leave the music artist open to being unpaid, underpaid and/or have money stolen from them, this creates a nightmare come tax season.[1] This could lead to immense problems with the Internal Revenue Services and even the demise of their career if ignored. For this reason an accountant is absolutely necessary. The high time demand of being a music artist makes it much too difficult for the artist to also keep track of their own accounting.[1] The accountants job is to make sure other team members, as well as the artist themselves are paid on time and the correct amount. In most cases the accountant will also handle the artist’s taxes and make sure the artist’s filing done and is in accordance with the law.[7]


^ a b c d e f Baskerville, David and Tim Baskerville. Music Business Handbook and Career Guide. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2009. Print.
^ Baskerville, David and Tim Baskerville. Music Business Handbook and Career Guide. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2009. Print
^ a b U.S. Copyright Office. U.S. Copyright Office. U.S. Government, 1 January 2006. Web. 10 November 2010
^ a b c d e Brabec, Jeffry and Todd Brabec. Music, Money and Success: The Insider’s Guide to Making Money in the Music Industry. New York: Schirmer Books, 2006. Print
^ a b c d e f g h Passman, Donald. All You Need To Know About the Music Business. New York: Free Press, 7th edition, 2009. Print.
^ Burr, Sheri. Entertainment Law in a Nutshell. Eagan: West, 2007. Print.
^ Moore, Schurley. Taxation of the Entertainment Industry. Washington: CCH. Inc., 2008. Print

See Wikipedia for more information

Bear in Heaven: ‘I Love You, it’s Cool’ Review

Bear in Heaven band

The Brooklyn band’s third album grabs the listener from its first play.

If you’ve got a spare four months you might like to listen to the stream of I Love You, It’s Cool which Brooklyn’s Bear in Heaven have slowed down by 400,000%. The as-good-as interminable 2,700 hours of pure drone is a neat skit, and it allows reviewers to make the know-it-all point that, actually, you need to give this band time. Aren’t we writers just so perceptive?

Time isn’t necessarily what you need to give this album at all, though. The Reflection of You is an immediate winner that grabs you by the lapels and pulls you right in close. It’s a synth-driven pure pop gem that requires next to no time to take hold.

Sinful Nature is another effort that’s deliciously hooky from the first taste, and while Bear in Heaven’s card might’ve been marked as psychedelic prior to this third LP’s release, there are no outré elements purely for the sake of it, and nothing is ever overblown.

Almost everything is tight and controlled, returning time and again to the simple power of a pop song. Frontman Jon Philpot seems in thrall to John Travolta on The Reflection of You when he winks, “If you come dance with me / I think you will like my moves.” Elsewhere, with his big mouth and strut strapped on, he very nearly channels Ian Brown on the stomping Space Remains.

But if there’s a criticism to direct this trio’s way, it’s that they perhaps could get lost in the moment a bit more, as when they do it’s glorious. Three-minutes-fifty into World of Freakout and then again during Sinful Nature they stretch the song at hand further than it should go, upping the ante, volume and intensity into elongated crescendos that Hot Chip would be proud of. And maintaining these directions even longer wouldn’t have seemed self-indulgent – they could swell to mountainous proportions and please any listener.

The qualities that may have led to comment that this album needs time to sink in are found during slower, moodier moments: lugubrious grooves like Warm Water and Noon Moon, each a thoughtful slice of modern electronica. Longevity might ultimately be an issue, but if we’re living in the moment – as the superb title of this record seems to suggest we do – then who cares? Just dance.

Bear in Heaven – “Reflection of You” (Official Video by John Lee of PFFR)


1 Idle Heart
2 The Reflection of You
3 Noon Moon
4 Sinful Nature
5 Cool Light
6 Kiss Me Crazy
7 World of Freakout
8 Warm Water
9 Space Remains
10 Sweetness & Sickness

About the band:

Bear in Heaven is a Brooklyn-based rock band formed by Jon Philpot. The sound of the band incorporates influences from psychedelic music, electronic music, and krautrock.

Jon Philpot has previously released music as part of the duo Presocratics, in collaboration with guitarist and composer Need Thomas Windham. Presocratics released two albums on the record label Table of the Elements in 2001; both were produced by Philpot.

The first Bear in Heaven release (Tunes Nextdoor to Songs, Eastern Developments 2003) was an EP of solo recordings by Philpot, with guest musicians performing on various instruments. Shortly after the release of Tunes Nextdoor to Songs, Philpot joined with guitarist Adam Wills, keyboardist/guitarist Sadek Bazarra (a graphic designer with Brooklyn design collective GH avisualagency), guitarist David Daniell (of San Agustin), and bassist James Elliott (Ateleia, School of Seven Bells). Eventually drummer Joe Stickney (formerly of Perpetual Groove, drummer with Paul Duncan, Rhys Chatham’s Essentialist project, and current touring drummer with Panthers) was added to the lineup. Daniell left Bear in Heaven in 2005 to focus on his solo project.

In 2006 they did a Take-Away Show video session shot by Vincent Moon.

Red Bloom of the Boom, Bear in Heaven’s first full-length album with the full band, was released in 2007 by the Hometapes record label.

Elliott left the band after the completion of the recordings of Red Bloom of the Boom to focus on School of Seven Bells and his solo project, Ateleia. Bear in Heaven now performs as a four-piece with Philpot on vocals, guitar and keyboards; Wills on guitar and bass; Bazarra on bass and keyboards; and Stickney on drums.

Their 2010 album, Beast Rest Forth Mouth, received the “Best New Music” award from Pitchfork Media, with the reviewer stating: “Beast Rest Forth Mouth is as familiar-feeling as it is difficult to pinpoint. Mostly made up of textural, spacious three- to four-minute pop anthems with towering choruses, BRFM is a welcome reminder that an album doesn’t have to be bombastic to feel huge and important. Take out the earbuds and let it fill a space: This is music that’s bigger than your iPod—music you’ll want to feel all around you. Though not quite coming out of nowhere, BRFM seems like a surprise gift—a striking consolidation of the spiky psych-prog tendencies of their debut into a pop framework.”

Their most recent album I Love You, It’s Cool was previewed to fans on the band’s website in March 2012 – capturing the album and slowing it down to 2,700 hours of drone. It has so far received positive reviews and was previewed by the website NPR. The album was released on April 3rd.


Tunes Nextdoor to Songs – Eastern Developments CDEP, 2003
Red Bloom of the Boom – Hometapes CD, 2007
Beast Rest Forth Mouth – Hometapes CD, 2009
Beast Rest Forth Mouth UK release – Hometapes/Dreamboat Records CD, 2010[5]
I Love You, It’s Cool – Hometapes CD, 2012