Let’s Take A Moment Day 321

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Shakespeare music

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Today’s song was originally released by Jefferson Airplane in 1967. I enjoyed that rendition, especially because it was written and sung by my favorite lead singer of the group, Marty Balin. In 1999 he released his greatest hits album with a new version of this song. Then around 2014 I heard a live performance of the updated track that absolutely slayed me. It was one of those songs I found so incredibly beautiful it hurt, a gorgeous acoustic arrangement with Balin’s entrancing reflective and gentle vocal. I was in complete awe. And I feel that way every time I hear it. At the end of today’s clip Balin referred to the track as “a heavy drug song” but I do not hear that at all. I hear an absolutely stunning piece of music. January 30 marked Balin’s 79th birth anniversary and as much as I love his work with Jefferson Starship especially “Miracles” (Day 99), it is today’s song that I am most grateful for.

You came to stay and live my way
Scatter my love like leaves in the wind
You always say you won’t go away
But I know what it always has been

Marty Balin

Marty Balin circa 1974. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marty Balin: “Comin’ Back To Me” (1999, written by Marty Balin).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 320

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Shakespeare music

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Today marks the 52nd anniversary of The Beatles impromptu & now famous rooftop concert featured in the documentary, “Let It Be”. On January 30, 1969 The Fab Four went to the top of the Apple Records building in London to play a handful of songs before the police brought the miraculous event to a close. What initially gave their fans hope that the group was testing the waters to start touring again soon became the heartbreaking reality that this was The Beatles final public performance as they disbanded in April of the following year.

Can you imagine leaving your office for lunch on an otherwise ordinary day, go walking down the street to get something to eat and suddenly hear the most famous group in the world playing music from a few blocks away? In today’s clip you can see some of those lucky people standing next to the makeshift stage while others gathered on the street below. The only thing missing is a shot of Billy Preston playing those funky keyboard parts. But you can clearly hear him playing with everything he had on the songs the group performed that day including “I Dig A Pony”, “I’ve Got A Feeling”, “One After 909”, “Get Back” and today’s song. Eventually they would all be released on the “Let It Be” album.

I saw the documentary when I was barely a teenager & the thing I remember so vividly about it, aside from the remarkable music, was how different they all looked from the images I had in my head of their mop-top days. The decade changed them and not just because it was the decade of change. They were four young men from a small town in England who played in a band & ended up changing the course of music history. They conquered the world while it was changing and while they were changing. They were growing up, falling in love, starting families all while navigating the enormous price of fame. They were trying to find happiness & eventually discovered they could not achieve that together.

As much as it might have hurt to see them going their separate ways, it was heartwarming to hear how happy John Lennon was, especially on today’s song. The raw passion of his intense vocal was an announcement of his finding love “for the first time” and how it changed him from the inside out. He & his bandmates deserved that & so much more for everything they did for us.

I’m in love for the first time
Don’t you know it’s gonna last
It’s a love that lasts forever
It’s a love that had no past
“.

The-Beatles-Rooftop-500

The Beatles on the roof (L-R)” Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and George Harrison. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Beatles: “Don’t Let Me Down” (Live rooftop performance recorded January 30, 1969. Released in 1970, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 319

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Shakespeare music

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

When Fiorello La Guardia became NYC’s mayor in 1933, one of his first acts was to ban burlesque shows in the city. This caused Hurtig and Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater to close its doors after nearly twenty years in business. While this was obviously a bad thing for that show, it turned out to be one of the greatest blessings in musical history. A year later, on January 26, 1934, that venue was reborn as The Apollo Theatre.

From its first amateur night to the features of major musical performers, The Apollo stage has hosted the best artists in swing, bebop, jazz, gospel, blues, R&B and soul. In the 1930’s Billie Holiday, Lena Horne & the Count Basie Orchestra made their debuts there. The next decade featured Amateur Night winners like Sarah Vaughn and Ruth Brown. In the 1950’s James Brown was discovered the same way and “Showtime At The Apollo” began. That decade also saw the premiers of jazz greats Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk.

The 1960’s featured numerous shows by Stax & Motown artists. In 1972 John Lennon & Yoko Ono took part in a benefit concert there to help families of the inmates who were shot during the Attica Prison riots in 1971 (Admit it-now you hear Al Pacino in your head screaming “Attica!” “Attica!” from the movie, “Dog Day Afternoon”, right?)

The Apollo closed briefly in the late 1970’s but reopened in 1981. That decade brought about the debut of the television show, “Showtime at the Apollo”. For 87 years the theater located on W 125th Street in Harlem has been a beacon for legendary music & comedians. My parents are part of that history as they were there at a show in the 1960’s to see one of my mother’s favorite singers, Jackie Wilson. Today’s song is one of the biggest hits of his career and always reminds me of how lucky my parents were to see this man live during the height of his fame.

And in a great example of symmetry, I saw my own musical hero Bruce Springsteen play this song in concert several times (one of his best versions was with an all star band at The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame’s 25th anniversary concert in 2009). Dolly Parton did a gospel inspired country version of it as well in 1977. But today’s track features an electrifying horn arrangement & music by The Funk Brothers so that makes it the premiere version of this incredible song.

Now once I was downhearted
Disappointment was my closest friend
But then you came and he soon departed
And you know he never showed his face again
“.

Jackie Wilson

“Mr. Excitement” Jackie Wilson circa 1960. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Aretha at Apollo

The marquee’s announcement of The Queen Of Soul’s return to The Apollo Theater in New York City on June 3, 1971. (Tyrone Dukes/The New York Times).  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Jackie Wilson: “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher” (1967, written by Gary Jackson, Raynard Miner, and Carl Smith).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 318

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Shakespeare music

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Watching David Letterman’s shows for over 30 years was not just an education in humor but an introduction to a lot of different people and music, too. One of his favorite guests was singer & songwriter Warren Zevon, born January 24, 1947 in IL. I saw him for the first time on Letterman’s NBC show but I had been listening to his music for years before that appearance.

Zevon’s most well known song, “Werewolves Of London” was a staple of FM radio in the 1970’s as were covers of his songs by Linda Ronstadt including “Poor Poor Pitiful Me” and today’s pick. Zevon included it on his 1976 self titled album which was produced by his friend Jackson Browne. It is a heartbreaking song about a man realizing he is losing the woman he loves not to another man but just because her feelings for him simply faded away. The beautiful harmony vocals are by Phil Everly, who met Zevon when he joined The Everly Brothers touring band in the 1970’s.

She’s so many women
He can’t find the one who was his friend
So he’s hanging on to half her heart
He can’t have the restless part”.

Warren Zevon circa 1979

Warren Zevon circa 1979. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Warren Zevon: “Hasten Down The Wind” (1976, written by Warren Zevon).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 317

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Shakespeare music

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Time for another mid-week Motown break & unbelievably our last one for January 2021 already. I tend to see Marvin Gaye’s career with the label in three parts: his early years working with the songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland (“How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”, “Little Darling (I Need You)”, “You’re A Wonderful One”), the later years featuring the songs written by Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield (“I Heard It Through The Grapevine”, “That’s The Way Love Is”, “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby”) & his social awareness period (“What’s Going On”, “Mercy Mercy Me”, “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)”. Today’s song is my favorite from the early years.

Up early in the morning with her on my mind
Took to find it out all night I been cryin’
But I believe a woman’s a man’s best friend
I’m gonna stick by her till the very end”
.

Marvin

holland_dozier

Top: Marvin Gaye circa 1964. Bottom (L-R): The legendary songwriting team at Hitsville USA circa 1964: Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland and Brian Holland. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Marvin Gaye: “Can I Get A Witness” (1963, written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 316

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Shakespeare music

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Today in 1973 Elton John’s sixth studio album, Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Piano Player, was released. It contained his first US #1 record “Crocodile Rock” and the heartbreaking tale of “Daniel”, which is the first record I ever bought of John’s. I played that 45 for hours at a time and did not come close to tiring of it. But one day I did get curious about the B side so I gave that a listen. And it was one of the best discoveries of my young life to that point.

I found a beautiful moving song that instantly became my new favorite by John and his magnificent lyricist, Bernie Taupin. It dates back to 1968 when it was released as a single in the UK by another artist. It is on John’s 1969 UK debut album, Empty Sky, which did not get released in the US until 1975. That version features a different arrangement with John playing a harpsichord and an organ. Today’s rendition features him on the piano & was slated to be included on the LP released 48 years ago today. Somehow it did not make the final cut. It finally appeared on John’s 1992 Rare Masters release.

If you have followed John as long as I have you know he was one of the first artists to lead the fight for AIDS research which continues to this day with his AIDS Foundation Academy Award Party started in 1993. But back in 1984 when a 13 year old boy from Indiana named Ryan White was one of the first children diagnosed with the disease after a blood transfusion, John reached out to him & became his friend. When White died from the illness in 1990, John performed today’s pick at the funeral.

He had a record on the US Hot 100 charts for 31 consecutive years from 1969 to 2000 and even though today’s track is not included in that staggering statistic, I think it is one of the most beautiful songs of his career. I cannot imagine a day of my life without the music of Elton John & Bernie Taupin.

For this dark and lonely room
Projects a shadow cast in gloom
And my eyes are mirrors
Of the world outside
“.

Taupin and John 1968

Bernie Taupin (L) and Elton John (R) circa 1969. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Elton John: “Skyline Pigeon” (1968, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 315

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Shakespeare music

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

One of country music’s most iconic & revered singers celebrated a milestone birthday last week. Dolly Parton, who was born in 1946 in TN, turned 75 years young on January 19. She has been a staple in the genre for over 50 years in a career that has seen her cross over into pop & mainstream music, acting, business ventures including her own amusement park, Dollywood, writing books and countless charity endeavors including her reading initiative, Imagination Library.

But it is her songs that she is probably most beloved for including her tale of confronting the other woman in “Jolene” to the famous theme song to the movie “9 To 5” to Whitney Houston’s chart topping rendition of “I Will Always Love You” to Parton’s work with fellow artists Kenny Rogers, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris and so many others. Another of her most cherished songs, “Coat Of Many Colors” inspired TV movies based on Parton’s childhood. There is almost nothing this woman has not tried or done in the last five decades. And currently 3.9 million followers on Instagram are eagerly awaiting her next move.

I have always thought of today’s song as the female take on Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through The Night”. It is from her 1977 album Here You Come Again & tells the story of a woman looking for company on a lonely night-a hook up, if you will. For a woman in any genre of music to tackle this subject in 1977 was controversial, but for a country artist it was down right risky. Yet for Parton it was a powerful statement that not only worked, it became a #1 song for two weeks in May 1978 & was featured in the 1979 film, “Norma Rae”. It is also one of the best vocals of Parton’s career. Happy birthday, Dolly.

The amber sunset glow has died
My needs are very much alive
Is it ok if I stop by
It’s all wrong, but it’s all right
“.

Dolly circa 2010

Dolly Parton circa 2010. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Dolly Parton: “It’s All Wrong But It’s All Right” (1977, written by Dolly Parton).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 314

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Shakespeare music

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Happy 80th birthday to the man born Neil Leslie Diamond on January 24, 1941 in Brooklyn, NY. Singer, songwriter, poet, actor, legend. Whether you sang along with The Monkees version of “I’m A Believer” or the cover version from the “Shrek” soundtrack, or if you sang “Hello Again” during “The Jazz Singer” movie or during “Saving Silverman”, or if you joined in with the Fenway crowd to sing “Sweet Caroline” or laughed at the quarantine version of that song, there has not been a generation that was not touched by Diamond’s music in nearly 55 years. That is the stuff superstars are made of. As a native New Yorker myself, I could not be more proud to hail from the same state as one of the most prolific songwriters of the 20th century. Happy birthday, Neil Diamond.

I’ll weave his web of rhyme
Upon the summer night
We’ll leave this worldly time
On his winged flight
“.

Neil D

Neil Diamond circa 1974. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Neil Diamond: “Longfellow Serenade” (1974, written by Neil Diamond).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 313

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Shakespeare music

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

This month marked the 50th anniversary of Pearl, Janis Joplin’s final album released three months after her death in October 1970. This month also marked her 78th birth anniversary. Joplin, who was born January 19, 1943 in TX, was the second of three artists to die at the age of 27 of a heroin overdose in a one year period. Jimi Hendrix died first in September 1970, then Joplin & then Jim Morrison in July 1971 (No autopsy was ever performed on Morrison so that is the suspected cause of his death). For many who lived through the 1960’s, these three deaths marked the end of what that decade represented: peace, love, the surge of American music after the British Invasion years & the break-up of The Beatles.

For a woman to be in that arc when many of her female counterparts were pursuing folk sounds & singer/songwriter status, Joplin was in a class all by herself. She had just fully established herself as a solo performer after her lead singer role in Big Brother & The Holding Company rock band. While I was never a big fan of most of the music I heard from her-it was a little too raw and explosive for my taste-there is no denying her sound was all her own with its blues/jazz/rock interpretations.

As much as I worship one of the writers of today’s song-Kris Kristofferson-I must admit today’s version is my favorite. It hit the top spot in the country for two weeks in March 1971. And there are many reports that she is who Don McLean referenced in his hit “American Pie” in the lines: “I met a girl who sang the blues/And I asked her for some happy news/But she just smiled and turned away”. However, I could not find any confirmation of this in my online research. But it makes a great story, as do the lyrics of today’s song.

I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandana
I was playin’ soft while Bobby sang the blues
Windshield wipers slappin’ time
I was holdin’ Bobby’s hand in mine
We sang every song that driver knew
“.

Janis Pearl

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Janis Joplin: “Me & Bobby McGee” (1971, written by Fred Foster and Kris Kristofferson).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 312

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Shakespeare music

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

One of my favorite singers in the 1980’s was Robert Palmer. He might have made pop music but it was so much more sophisticated than the average Top 40 fare thanks to his influences of soul, reggae and rock. He did not look like a typical artist you would see on MTV, either. He was smooth & sophisticated in his custom fitted suits and his debonair persona. Add to that the power & polish of his voice behind hits like “Looking For Clues” “Bad Case Of Loving You”, “Hyperactive”, “Addicted To Love” & “Simply Irresistible”. I really enjoyed his work with The Power Station, especially “Some Like It Hot”. Palmer was one of the few singers who did justice to Marvin Gaye with a cover medley of “Mercy Mercy Me/I Want You” from the 1990 album, Don’t Explain.

I was lucky enough to see Palmer in concert at Radio City Music Hall where he did not disappoint. He made every song sound incredible & look effortless. But I waited all night to hear today’s song from 1978. It was written by Andy Fraser, a songwriter & musician who began his career as the bass player & founding member of the band Free (“All Right Now” Day 182) when he was 15 years old. January 19th marked Palmer’s 72nd birth anniversary and every time I hear today’s song I relive that night at the Music Hall and feel incredibly lucky to have seen this man deliver an unbelievably fabulous show.

Someone’s looking for a lead
In his duty to a king or to a creed
Protecting what he feels is right
Fights against wrong with his life
“.

robert-palmer-front-row-photographs-com

Robert Palmer circa 1986. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Robert Palmer: “Every Kinda People” (1978, written by Andy Fraser).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.