Son's Gonna Rise
I was sitting at a bar with a friend a few years ago, lost in a blurry of depressing thoughts, when she leaned over and said, "Hey, you ever heard of Citizen Cope?"
I shook my head no and she proceeded, "He's bad ass."
I feigned interest and replied, "What genre of music?"
"I don't know, he's kind of all over the place."
"Umm alternative? Folk? Reggae?"
"Uh... not so much?"
"You know I like my music heavy."
I turned back to my beer and she hit me on the arm pretty hard (the girl is a rock climber).
"Just come listen to a fucking song."
Out in the car she plays one song, "Sideways." "Well, diamonds they fade/And flowers they bloom/And I'm telling you/These feelings won't go away."
"Sideways" is the song I would recommend you listen to if you're listening to him for the first time. The beauty of the song, and of Citizen Cope in general, is that no matter what mood you're in, he fits your mood. If you're sad "Sideways" is a sad song. If you're happy or particularly in love "Sideways" is a love song. The song is on his album The Clarence Greenwood Recordings which came out in 2004. Which apparently is when I heard it, because she said it was new.
The next day I went out and not only bought that album, but I got his first major release Citizen Cope (2002). When Every Waking Moment came out in 2006 I bought it the day it was released. If you were to flip through my CD collection you'd find Pantera, Sevendust, Static X, Machine Head, Godsmack, Rob Zombie, Bleeding Through, Strapping Young Lad, and a smörgåsbord of other metal bands, then, out of nowhere Citizen Cope. I can't really explain how, or why, I fell in love with him but I did, and all it took was that one song.
On his first album a highlight that you may have heard would be "Let the Drummer Kick," its poppy and infectious, it was in an Acura commercial last year, among other things. Then again you got "Theresa," the song is slow and heartfelt with a simple beat playing through.
That's another thing that can be said about Citizen Cope, he's not really technical, there is nothing "amazing" about his skill. His voice isn't all that fantastic either, a bit monotone with a lisp sound. His lyrics aren't astounding. If it wasn't just for the energy of the music he would probably suck. However he can put all these "faults" together and make something wonderful.
The Clarence Greenwood Recordings is one of those CD's you can put in and listen to the whole fucking thing without skipping a song. It's just one great track after another. From my personal favorite "Pablo Picasso" (especially after I figured out what the song is about) which is like a medium tempo, to "Sideways," very slow, to "Son's Gonna Rise" and "Bullet and a Target" which go back to that faster pace of "Let the Drummer Kick." As soon as I typed "Son's Gonna Rise" that song popped in my head crystal clear. "Well the son's gonna rise in a mile/In a mile you'll be feeling fine /In a mile you will see/After me /You'll be out of the dark/Yeah you'll get your shot, yeah." I just laughed when I remembered playing "Hurricane Waters" in a biker bar. The look I got from around the room was priceless, it seemed I had just become a gay outcast. What was even better was that I simply looked at the other guy's in the bar and sat down, ignoring the glares. Within a minute I saw a lot of tapping feet. His music is just, like I said...infectious. Also check out "My Way Home."
Citizen Cope --- Son's Gonna Rise
"Son's Gonna Rise"
When I went and saw him play live on March 6, 2008, at this wonderful little venue here in Atlanta called Center Stage, I think I kept a smile on my face the entire night. I went with an ex, well at the time she wasn't an ex, we were at the height of our romance...anyway. The crowd was a mixture of college kids, artsy looking late twenty/early thirty year olds, and some younger ladies. Standing in line, waiting inside, hanging out after, I never had that feeling a fight would happen. You know the feeling I'm talking about, that feeling when you walk into a bar and can tell that something might happen between that guy in the corner wearing a muscle shirt and the skinny white guy with horrible tattoos in a wife beater. Yeah, that feeling, it never came. Inside everyone was all smiles, jokes and laughter...I think I smelled at least ten different types of weed in a three foot radius. When Cope got onstage (his real name is Clarence Greenwood) he looked kind of like a homeless person mixed with a rapper. New, crisp dark jeans with the tan work boots unlaced, a white shirt, a few days worth of stubble on his face and his dreads pulled up in a knot on the top of his head. He started out not moving much, just singing into the microphone, but by the end of the show he was jumping up and down, clapping his hands to the band, and...smiling. That was refreshing as well, a singer who not only looked like he loved his music, but who loved his job.
Citizen Cope: 'Hurricane Waters'
I think he gets a little softer on Every Waking Moment; his songs don't seem to have the "energy" that possessed him on his other CD's. Well maybe softer isn't the word -- how about cleaner? One of the appeals to me on his first two albums is the raw attitude to his music. He sounds exactly like he does on those CD's live. Every Waking Moment has its bright spots to me, songs like "All Dressed Up," "Friendly Fire," and of course "Brother Lee," but it just doesn't have that smooth playability that The Clarence Greenwood Recordings has. I'm not trying to say the CD is bad in anyway, it's still ten times better then a lot of shit floating around out there, it just has a few tracks I can skip over.
According to his website he's got a new album coming out in February called The Rainwater. On the site you can download a song from said upcoming album called "Keep Askin'" My opinion, it kind of sounds like the blues, mixed with some jazz, and a little gospel? Yeah.
My point, in this long statement, was that you should give the guy a listen. I can't classify him in a genre, because, well, you can't fucking classify him in a genre. If you're a stoner...I think you'll like it. If you consider yourself indie...I think you'll like it. If you like to kick back, have a few beers, and watch a sunset...I think you'll like it. If you're just looking for something new, look him up. Why are you still reading? Go do it.
Deistbrawler lives in Kennesaw, GA. You can read more about him on his blog, Mindless Rants Of A Mindless Person.