Geoff Geis

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Cover song: “Rockin’ Around with You” (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)

Download “Rockin’ Around with You” (Tom Petty cover, featuring Sarah Cisco)

Boy, do I ever love Tom Petty. During the summer between fifth and sixth grade, it was a chance encounter with the “Into the Great Wide Open” that first inspired me to start paying attention to pop music. That led to a blossoming over the summer of ’94 and my discovery of groups like Nirvana, R.E.M., Beck, and Green Day. But while I loved “alternative music,” Tom Petty was my favorite. I had three of his albums before I had any albums by anyone else.

One of my earliest vinyl LPs was the band’s self-titled debut from 1976 — the one that’s got a picture of Tom smirking and wearing a bullet belt over his shoulder. That album, along with a story I read in the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock N Roll about how the band withheld the masters of the Hard Promises LP in a game of high-stakes brinksmanship with MCA over sticker price, was the proof that I used when my friends who liked Green Day and the Offspring called me a “poser” for liking Tom Petty so much. Bullets and a smirk are pretty punk, and so are the rockabilly grooves and odes to teenaged abandon on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. “Into the Great Wide Open” may have introduced me to Tom Petty, but it was this album that made the long-term impact on my taste.

So, here’s a cover of “Rockin’ Around with You,” the first song from that album. I recorded it a couple of weeks ago with the indescribably fabulous Sarah Cisco, my love and a damned fine musician who will hopefully continue to share her talents with the world. Sarah sang with me, and I did the drum machines, guitars, bass, and synth parts. It’s a pretty straightforward, shuffling jam that doesn’t stray too far from the original.

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Wonderful Christmas Music: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Normally I don’t like secular Christmas songs. “Jingle Bell Rock” sucks. Songs like that just don’t take the holiday seriously, and are lame because they’re just dumb rock songs and don’t particularly have anything to do with Christmas. Real Christmas carols have a unique feeling to them.

There are exceptions, of course, to this rule. Generally, the exceptions go like this: if you’re an artist I like, then it’s okay if you have a stupid secular Christmas song! I’ve already mentioned that I love Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”

Another song I really like comes from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: “Christmas All Over Again.” It’s such a fun song, and I realize that my love of it contradicts my earlier statement because it’s totally just a dumb rock song with Christmas lyrics and some sleighbells. But the sleighbells really compliment Tom’s style, which has always been influenced by the Byrds and gets even janglier with the ruckus coming out of the bells. The grandiosity of Jeff Lynne’s production is also appropriate – this song has the “bigness” that a Christmas song ought to have. There are some very fancy Traveling Wilburys-style vocal harmonies that sound much more thought out than the stuff that some bands crap out in a couple of hours and call “Christmas songs.”

The lyrics are funny. He talks about not wanting to kiss relatives, but he does it in that same rebellious Florida redneck tone that snarled like this back in the 1970s. Well, maybe it’s a little toned down, but it’s still cool. At the end of the song, he asks Santa for some cool instruments.

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Music

This is Soft Sailors! We're a new band from Los Angeles. We don't have any upcoming shows scheduled, but you can hear us online:

Also, here are some solo songs I've uploaded recently to Soundcloud. I'm playing solo July 19th at the Pickle Factory at 647 Lamar Street in Los Angeles and September 1st at Los Globos in LA for a KCHUNG benefit.

In 2011, I released my first solo album, Princess. You can listen to it and download it on Bandcamp:

From 2005 until 2011, I was in the band Pizza! This is our album We Come From the Swamp:

From 2008-2010, I was in the band Big Whup. Here's one of our songs that I sang, called "Cover My Eyes:"

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