Music Monday: March 20, 2023

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.

Bruce quote 2023

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

One of the premier artists who defined a progressive sound in music celebrated eight decades on this planet last week. Sylvester Stewart a/k/a Sly Stone was born 80 years ago on March 15, 1943 in Denton, Texas. He is best known as the frontman, songwriter, producer & musician for Sly & The Family Stone. Their sound was a monumental fusion of funk, rock, soul, gospel & psychedelic music.

Stone formed the band when he was 24 years old in 1967. And in the middle of one of the most racially charged years of that decade, the group’s mere existence cut right through that tension & the looming gender divide by showcasing equality. As the The New York Times noted in 2015, the band “whose inclusion of black and white musicians of both sexes, and its hippie style, made it a living poster for the ideals of the counterculture”.

The group’s debut album, A Whole New Thing, came out in 1967. The title track from their next album, Dance to the Music, put them on the charts in 1968 with their first Top Ten hit. Over the next seven years Stone & his group would enjoy incredible success complete with three number one songs, numerous awards & accolades and sold out concerts. One of their incredible live performances is featured in the 2021 Oscar winning documentary, Summer Of Soul.

I think 80 years of life deserves to be marked with, at the very least, two songs. The first pick was released in 1968, it was the band’s first number #1 song (for four weeks in 1969) and in less than two & a half minutes, it defined equality for one and all. Talk about timeless.

I am no better and neither are you
We’re all the same whatever we do
You love me you hate me you know me & then
You can’t figure out the bag I’m in

Today’s second track is also celebrating a milestone. It was released 50 years ago and peaked at #12 in September 1973. Sadly, it was the last Top 20 hit for this man and his unbelievably talented group. But they went out with the proverbial bang as this song features one of the most fabulous base lines ever recorded.

And when you see me again
I hope that you have been
The kind of person that
You really are now

Top: Sly Stone circa 1968. Bottom: The band circa 1968 (L-R): Rose Stone, Larry Graham, Sly Stone, Freddie Stone, Greg Errico, Jerry Martini (seated) and Cynthia Robinson (Bottom picture credit-Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images. (Top image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Sly & The Family Stone: “Everyday People” (1968, written by Sly Stone).

Sly & The Family Stone: “If You Want Me To Stay” (1973, written by Sly Stone).

Stay safe and well.


Music Monday: March 13, 2023

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.

Bruce quote 2023

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

James Vernon Taylor turned 75 yesterday. Born March 12, 1948 in Boston, Massachusetts he was one of the first artists signed to The Beatles label, Apple Records. He recorded his self-titled debut album in London in 1968 but it was his second album released in 1970, Sweet Baby James, that would put him on the map. He followed that up with Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon, which contained the 1971 #1 hit written by Carol King, “You’ve Got A Friend”.

Five decades later, Taylor remains a beloved upper statesman in music after his reign as one of the first definitive singer-songwriters of the 1970’s. His list of honors and awards are vast and his songs have been beloved by multiple generations and audiences for over 50 years.

Happy birthday, JT.

Now the first of December was covered with snow
So was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston
Though the Berkshires seemed dreamlike on account of that frostin’
With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go”.

JT 1970

James Taylor circa 1970 (top) and in 2022 (bottom). (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

James Taylor: “Sweet Baby James” (1970, written by James Taylor).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: March 6, 2023

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.

Bruce quote 2023

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

This month marked what would have been the 73rd birthday for a women whose voice was gentle, clear and beautiful. Karen Carpenter was born on March 2, 1950 in New Haven, CT but moved to Downey, CA when she was a teenager . That is where she joined her brother, Richard, in his musical endeavors. That partnership eventually brought the siblings international fame as The Carpenters in the 1970’s for their soft rock, middle of the road sound, led by her smooth rich contralto voice.

Her distinctive range gave her the ability to hit every note gloriously, especially the low ones. She delivered each song perfectly in such an effortless way, which just underscored the true gift she was blessed with. It is hard to believe we have been without it for the last 30 years. She died on February 4, 1983, at the age of 32 as one of the first people to lose the fight against anorexia.

I have writen before that I wish life had given her more happiness than just that iconic voice. A rigorous touring schedule left her little time for much of a personal or social life, while her divorce robbed her of her dreams to be a wife and mother, as she reportedly longed to be. Luckily her successful career came with many of its own rewards and her talent as a female drummer made her a hero & inspiration to little girls everywhere, including me.

Long ago and oh so far away
I fell in love with you before the second show
Your guitar it sounds so sweet and clear
But you’re not really here it’s just the radio

Richard and Karen Ckaren_carpenter3

Left: Richard and Karen circa 1970. Right: The siblings behind their instruments of choice-Karen on the drums and Richard at the piano, circa 1971. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

The Carpenters: “Superstar” (1971, written by Bonnie Bramlett and Leon Russell).

Stay safe & well.