Music Monday: January 23, 2023

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

Bruce quote 2023

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

One of the newest members of The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame celebrated birthday #77 last week. Dolly Parton was born January 19, 1946 in Sevier County, Tennessee. She joined fellow country superstars Hank Williams and Johnny Cash who were also recognized for their contributions to music history without being defined by one genre.

The Rock Hall’s introduction of Parton-“In a career spanning six decades, she has recorded more than 50 studio albums and, by her own estimation, written nearly 3,000 songs”-limit her talents to musician, singer and songwriter. Those are certainly impressive roots but only the first part of her story. She is so much more than just three things. She is a wife (who has spent many years honoring her husband’s wish for privacy), an actress (9 to 5 and Steel Magnolias are my favorites), an author, a businesswoman, a humantitarian (her Imagination Library is such an incredible mission) plus she has her own resort & theme park, Dollywood. She seems to grow in popularity every day, hitting three billion worldwide streams in 2021, according to her website. That is a massive reach but not surprising for a woman who has written some incredible songs, including today’s.

It was released nearly 50 years ago in October 1973, yet it is still one of the defining songs of Parton’s career. And it shows us all that a throw down is not always the way to go when confronting someone trying to hurt you. Maybe, just maybe, an honest conversation reminding them that even if they can cause you pain, perhaps they will choose not to.

I had to have this talk with you
My happiness depends on you
And whatever you decide to do
Jolene”.

Dolly Parton circa 2019. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Dolly Parton: “Jolene” (1973, written by Dolly Parton).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: January 16, 2023

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

Bruce quote 2023

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I just finished the Showtime mini-series, George & Tammy, based on the true story of star crossed lovers & country music royalty, George Jones & Tammy Wynette. From several reviews I have read online, both Michael Shannon & Jessica Chastain portrayed the title characters incredibly well. I am not familiar enough with the original artists to comment on that one way or the other. But I have loved Chastain since her performance as Celia Rae Foote in the 2011 film, The Help. I also thought the actress captured the spirit of the title character in The Eyes Of Tammy Faye beautifully in her Oscar winning turn as the former first lady of the PTL.

I was not familiar with any of Shannon’s work prior to this series, but was very impressed by both his performance as an actor and a singer in his turn as Jones. He and Wynette were not artists I listened to. Their brand of music was a little too country for me-the heavy twang guitar, the almost overwhelming background singers or the songs about the struggles to raise a family or to find love after a D-I-V-O-R-C-E just did not speak to me. I knew they were both successful artists but I had no idea about the extent of their fame until I saw this series.

Their relationship had been compared to the story in the film A Star Is Born because Wynette was on her way up when she met Jones, a singer she idolized but whose drinking put his once illustrious career on a down turn. At the start of the series an on-screen note named him “the undisputed king of country music” in the late 1960’s who was slipping due to his heavy drinking. But with his third wife-Wynette-he had several career resurges with their numerous hit duets along with prolific periods on his own. That included today’s song, which was a #1 country hit in 1974 and his 1980 smash, “He Stopped Loving Her Today”. In my reasearch on Jones during the series, I also learned that his first #1 country hit, “White Lightning” from 1959, was written by J.P. Richardson, better known as The Big Bopper.

Jones & Wynette’s story is quite sad without question and not just because they were divorced in 1975 after only six years of marriage. They both struggled with addiction issues, multiple marriages & neglected children. Yet it appears the great love and passion they had for each other continued even after their subsequent marriages. The series was based on the book written by their daughter, Georgette, so perhaps there is a bit of a slant here as her perspective is skewered as most children’s perceptions of their parents romantic bond usually is. Plus her own relationship with her father was spotty at best until Wynette passed away in 1998 and Jones became sober for good in 1999. He died in 2013.

I am very late to this party but I must admit I have been obsessed with today’s song since I heard it in Episode 4. Shannon & Chastain did their own vocals throughout the series and his performance, especially on this track, was fantastically on point. It is a sad love song and was a perfect fit for the scene it appeared in. George & Tammy had just spent their first night together after she moved to a new home on the heels of an especially violent bender Jones was on. She had also started divorce proceedings and George found the papers. That ended their reunion and he left her house despondent, heartbroken and angry.

After apparently drowning his sorrows with a few drinks, George ends up at the recording studio where members of his team watch him deliver the vocal for this track. Ironically it was co-written by the man who would become Tammy’s fifth husband, George Richey (played by the utterly delightful & versatile Steve Zahn in the miniseries). It tells the story of a broken marriage & the no longer happy house the couple once shared, now empty of their love but spilling over in heart-wrenching memories of their better days. Interspersed with George singing in the studio are clips of Tammy taking pills & then lying in a hospital bed after an alleged possibly accidental suicide attempt.

I prefer Shannon’s interpretation even if I had not heard it first simply because it does not include the heavy country elements of the original. But Jones’ version is music history and is a sad footnote & reminder of what he and Wynette had and lost. It is country heartache at its best.

I have nothing here to sell you
Just some things that I will tell you
Some things I know
Will chill you to the bone
“.

George and Rammy series

Tammy

album

Top: Showtime’s promotional photo for its latest mini-series, “George & Tammy”. Middle: The real Tammy Wynette (L) and George Jones (R) circa 1972. Bottom: Jones’ 1974 album, The Grand Tour. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

George Jones: “The Grand Tour” (1974, written by George Richey, Carmol Taylor and Norris Denton “Norro” Wilson).

Michael Shannon: “The Grand Tour” (2022, written by George Richey, Carmol Taylor and Norris Denton “Norro” Wilson).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: January 9, 2023

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

Bruce quote 2023

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

It is only the second week of the new year and already we have a triple play. And the first milestone is closest to my heart because this artist holds mine in both of his hands. Fifty years ago on January 5, 1973 Bruce Springsteen released his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. The nine tracks from this record is how the musical legacy for The Boss began and it was quite stunning. Several of the songs have become well loved classics including “Blinded By The Light” (which was a #1 hit for Manfred Man’s Earth Band in February 1977), “For You”, “Growin’ Up” and today’s song, my favorite cut from the record. Fifty years later, this man is getting ready to tour again since the pandemic shut everything down. But he spent that time making new music, co-writing a book and hosting a couple of podcasts, amongst other things. And he continues to be the constant in my life.

Kenny Loggins was born January 7, 1948 making this birthday #75. I fell in love with him as a solo performer before discovering his impressive work with Jim Messina (from Buffalo Springfield & Poco). Today’s song is from their first album, Sittin’ In, which was released in 1971. Loggins was also co-writer of The Doobie Brothers hit, “What A Fool Believes” in addition to a lot of movie music from films like Caddyshack, Footloose & Top Gun. And in my favorite episode of “Dharma & Greg”, Loggins not only performed “Danny’s Song” but flexed his comedic muscles when he participated in the hilarious quirky one-of-a-kind wedding between Abby & Larry.

Yesterday marked the 88th birth anniversary for the man the world crowned The King. Elvis Aaron Presley was born January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi. Roughly two decades later, he changed the face of music, the landscape of pop culture, the word censorship in the television medium, the image of what a U.S soldier looked like and basically put the world on a whole new path. It was the one less traveled and it made all the difference. All hail The King.

Greetings 1

Greetings 2

Loggins_Messina_sittingin

Elvis

Top two pictures: The front and back covers, respectfully, of Bruce Springsteen’s 1973 debut album. Middle: Loggins & Messina’s 1971 debut album. Bottom: Elvis Presley from his 1968 televised comeback special. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Bruce Springsteen: “Spirit In The Night” (1973, written by Bruce Springsteen).

Loggins & Messina: “House At Pooh Corner” (1971, written by Kenny Loggins).

Elvis Presley: “Love Me Tender” (1956, written by George R. Poulton, Vera Matson, Elvis Presley & (uncredited) Ken Darby).

Stay safe.

Music Monday: January 2, 2023

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

Bruce quote 2023

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Happy 2023, everyone. To paraphrase John Lennon, let’s hope this new year is a good one. I do not like to have expectations, but I have always thought of 23 as a good number. It has always been one of my favorites, it belonged to my most loved NY Islander (Bobby Nystrom), it was Jack Shephard’s number on “Lost” and he saved the island (if you have never seen the show you need to binge it NOW-it is unbelievably fabulous).

One of the best parts of a new year is the feeling of a clean slate in front of us. The chance to write or tell any story we wish within the parameters of what life has in store for us. Whatever new chapter we are starting to write for ourselves this year, it will start the same way as the others-with a blank page.

Found someone who can comfort me
But there are always exceptions
And she’s good at appearing sane
But I just want you to know
“.

Traffic

Traffic’s 1970 album. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Traffic: “Empty Pages” (written by Jim Capaldi and Steve Winwood).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: December 26, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Well, we are at the end of another year. This time next week we will be in 2023. I want to thank you all for being here for the last 365 days. It means so much to me. I appreciate all of you. And I look forward to you joining me in the new year which I hope is a good one for all of us.

While celebrating all things Christmas for the last 25 days, I missed an important music birthday: Keith Richards turned 79 years young. The long time Rolling Stone guitarist & one half of the group’s prolific songwriting team was born December 16, 1943 in Dartford, Kent, England.

For 60 years The Stones have done it all, from being part of the British Invasion to defining classic rock to playing with their own musical heroes to reaching legendary status. And Richards has been one of the most recognizable faces behind the band with a sound that helped put The Stones in their rightful place in music & cultural history. I chose today’s song because I hope it is something will all get to be in 2023.

Happy birthday, Keith & Happy New Year to all of you.

“Always took candy from strangers
Didn’t wanna get me no trade
Never want to be like papa
Working for the boss every night and day
“.

Stones 2010

The Rolling Stones circa 2000 (L to R):  Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Ron Wood.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Rolling Stones: “Happy” (1972, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: November 28, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I hope you all had a wonderful extended holiday weekend of eating, shopping, resting or all three. Before we get to today’s songs (yes, plural as we have another triple play) let me remind you that the Christmas Music Coundtdown begins on December 1. For each of the 25 Days of Christmas, I will feature a different holiday song. I would love to hear some of your favorite music choices for this festive season so please share them with me in the comments below.

Today we are celebrating three milestones with three songs. The first is about one of my childhood heroes. Charles M. Schulz, the absolute genius who gave us Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts Gang, was born 100 years ago on November 26, 1922. Nothing in my life was ever the same after my first glimpse of the characters Schulz created. Meeting that brilliant, warm, quirky, kind, wise, friendly, talented, and irascible group introduced me to some of the best friends I ever had.

Their holiday specials, books and the comic strip, the merchandise & the movies remain as much a part of my life now as they ever did. And it is all thanks to the man known as “Sparky” to his friends. Part of the appeal of his gang was how relatable and human they were-they had real feelings, real hopes, real wants, real needs and real fears. They were children but not childish. And they loved to have fun which translated into lots of music and dancing to grown up songs. How do you thank one man for so much?

CB and Sparky

Family Circys Schulz tribute

For Better For Worse  - fb_c221126.tif

Lockhorms Schu;lz tribute

Top: Charles M. Schulz and his famous friend, Charlie Brown, circa 1965. Then three of the many cartoonists who remembered Sparky on the 100th anniversary of his birth including Bil and Jeff Keane of “Family Circus“, Lynn Johnston’s “For Better or For Worse” and Bunny Hoest and John Reiner’s “The Lockhorns. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Twenty years later one of the most iconic films of all time was introduced to the world when Casablanca  premiered on November 26, 1942. Eight decades later, Humphrey Bogart & Ingrid Bergman’s tale of love and loss during World War II remains one of the most beloved movies of all time with a theme song no one can ever forget.

Casablanca

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in a scene from “Casablanca:. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

That same year one of the greatest musicians to ever set an instrument on fire-both figuratively and literally-came into the world. James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix was born  November 27, 1942 in Seattle, WA. A singer, songwriter and performer best remembered as one of the prenier guitarists in rock music made a name for himself with original songs but also with one of a kind covers of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” and our National Anthem.

According to his website, Hendrix was a member of the “Screaming Eagles” paratroop division during his serivce to the U.S. Army in the early 1960’s. By the middle of that decade, he was playing with Ike and Tina Turner, Sam Cooke, the Isley Brothers, and Little Richard before forming his own band, Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. The rest is rock music history. Despite his death over 50 years ago, Hendrix is still unsurpassed in his esteem & tenure as one of the greatest of the greats.

Jimi

Jimi Hendrix circa 1967. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Vince Guaraldi Trio: “Linus And Lucy” (1964, written by Vince Guaraldi).

Frank Sinatra: “As Time Goes By” (1962, remastered in 1999, written by Herman Hupfeld).

Jimi Hendrix: “Little Wing” (1967, written by Jimi Hendrix).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: November 21, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

If you have ever wondered when exactly Al Green became the R&B legend he is, it was 1972. The Forrest City, Arkansas native released not one but two of his best albums that year: Let’s Stay Together debuted in January and I’m Still in Love with You came out in October.

Both records gave us some great original music but also introduced us to the songs Green admired with his unique and incredible covers. The first album featured an unbelievably soulful rendition of “How Do You Mend A Broken Heart” initially recorded by The Bee Gees while the October release had a Kris Kristofferson track (“For The Good Times”) and a Roy Orbison classic (“Oh, Pretty Woman”).

If you hear a touch of a Stax beat happening on these albums, that is because Green’s drummer was Al Jackson Jr., a founding member of that label’s house band, Booker T. & the M.G.’s. Green took the music around him, his gospel roots, his influences like Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke and turned it all into a gorgeous hybrid of soul, R&B, pop and southern sass.

Today’s song is a favorite of mine thanks to a standout vocal by Green, the electric harmony of his backup singers, the incredibly sharp & powerful horns and a seductive rhythm that is impossible not to move along with. It is just one of the many blessings from the man we now call The Reverend.

Love is walkin’ together
Talkin’ together
Singin’ together
Prayin’ together
“.

Al Together

Al Still

(Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Al Green: “Love and Happiness” (1972, written by Al Green and Mabon Hodges).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: November 14, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Novenber 12 marked birthday #77 for Neil Young, Both an acoustic master & a rocker at heart, this Canadian native has been making music for over five decades as a solo artist and in classic rock bands, The Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

His lyrics make me feel as if I speak and understand another language. Whether it is his perspective on life, love, death and everything else we see or encounter in this world, Young’s vision is all his own but makes it ours as well. His stories are raw, beautiful and heartbreaking in one aching succinct eloquent tale after another. But they are his to tell and ours to celebrate.

Happy birthday, Neil Young.

Ten silver saxes
A bass with a bow
The drummer relaxes
And waits between shows
“.

Neil Young circa 2000. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Neil Young: “Cinnamon Girl” (1969. written by Neil Young).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: November 7, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The last surviving architect of the music we call rock & roll passed away last month. Jerry Lee Lewis died at age 87 on October 28, 2022 at his home in Nesbit, Mississippi. Incredibly big sigh.

He and his fellow innovators appeared at a time when music needed a new sound and they did not disappoint. That new genre exploded on the scene in the 1950’s and made the world take notice. And not too many of us ever looked back.

Lewis was part musician, part stage performer, part wild man and part rebel all wrapped into one volatile package. He would switch between a boogie-woogie player to a piano thumping wild man so many times during one song it was like watching two performers at once.

Rest in peace to the musician nicknamed “The Killer”, the original & true piano man, someone who lived as fiercely as he played, who helped make Sun Records the legend it became, who was one fourth of its Million Dollar Quartet and gave us all another reason to call music the answer to whatever ails us.

Come over baby whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on
Yes, I said come over baby baby you can’t go wrong
We ain’t fakin’
Whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on
“.

Jerry Lee Lewis

million dollar quartet B

Top: Jerry Lee Lewis circa 1965. Bottom: Sun Records’ Million Dollar Quartet (L-R): Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley (seated), Carl Perkins and Lewis in the studio circa 1956. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Jerry Lee Lewis: “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” (1957, written by James Faye “Roy” Hall and Dave “Curlee” Williams).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: October 31, 2022

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

Happy Halloween to all!!!

(Pinterest image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I always salute this spooktacular holiday with one song, but this year I think it deserves two. That is because 2022 saw the release of “Hocus Pocus 2” and even though I have not seen it yet, I think any movie that stars Bette Midler deserves to be celebrated. She recorded the first of today’s two songs for the original film which premiered in 1993. The track has also been covered in great fashion by Annie Lennox, Nina Simone, Bryan Ferry and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Bette Midler as Winifred Sanderson in Disney’s “Hocus Pocus”. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Our second spotlight tune is the quintessential song of the holiday and has been ever since it was released 60 years ago in 1962. Even if you do not embrace the scary side of this holiday (or wish to skip it all together) this is an amusing tale about characters that are usually seen in a very frightening way enjoying themselves with a dance that is all their own. A fabulously fun novelty song if ever there was one.

Hope you all enjoy this last day of October, however you choose to spend it.

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Bette Midler: “I Put A Spell On You” (1993, written by Jalacy J. “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins).

Bobby “Boris” Pickett: “Monster Mash” (1962, written by Leonard Capizzi and Bobby Pickett).

Stay safe and well.