Music Monday: March 7, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Last month singer/songwriter/pianist Gary Brooker died at the age of 76 in England. If you do not know his name, I am quite sure you knew his voice. He was the co-founder & lead singer of Procol Harum, so it is his glorious vocal that is front & center on their iconic 1967 hit. I have adored this song forever and it is featured in three of my favorite movies of all time: “The Big Chill”, “The Commitments” and “Pirate Radio” as the last song on the airwaves of “The Boat That Rocked”.

Brooker was also one of the composers of today’s phenomenal song, but he also played with several other artists, most notably for George Harrison (on 1971’s All Things Must Pass), Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton and Bill Wyman. Brooker also appeared in the 1996 film adaptation of “Evita”. But for me, nothing else he ever did would compare to his pensive melodic delivery of some of the greatest sing along lyrics ever written or recorded.

The room was humming harder
As the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
The waiter brought a tray
“.

1967 Procol

with Ringo

Top: Gary Brooker (pictured front left) with Procol Harum in 1967. Bottom: (Pictured left) with Ringo Starr circa 1999. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Procol Harum: A Whiter Shade of Pale (1967, written by Gary Brooker, Matthew Fisher and Keith Reid).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: February 28, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

 (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

As we say goodbye to February 2022, let’s focus on the milestone birthdays celebrated this month for two of music’s most incredible talents. Singer/songwriter extraordinaire Carole King turned 80 on February 9 (born in 1942) and blue-eyed soul Doobie Brother Michael McDonald turned 70th on February 12 (born in 1952). Plus, February 26th marked the 90th birth anniversary for The Man In Black, Johnny Cash (born in 1932). It is impossible for me to pick just one of these icons to spotlight today, so I am going to do things a little differently this week and feature one track from each. You’re welcome.

Cash circa 1965

Johnny Cash circa 1965. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

All three artists hold special places in my heart & mind. The first concert I ever attended was The Doobie Brothers. I liked them before McDonald joined them, but with him their sound evolved into rock & soul fusion which I absolutely adored. King is the genius behind the best album by a female artist, not to mention the composer of so many hits I have lost track. Cash was one of my first introductions to classic country music courtesy of my grandmother’s love of the genre. These are some of the greatest moments in my varied & extensive musical history. And I am thankful for this soundtrack in my life single day.

King circa 1990.

Carole King circa 1990. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

For McDonald I was going to choose my favorite from his early Doobie Brother years-“It Keeps You Running“-but then I remembered the title track from his 1990 album which still makes me swoon more than 30 years later. I chose a song from King’s 1971 opus because those were the best of her career in my world. As for Cash, he could sing anything. And he did. But one of his signature songs is always my pick to start a listening party by him because they bring back some of the fondest memories of my life. But any track from any one of these icons would obviously be welcome. Their talent & music speaks for itself. Enjoy.

Mcdonald circa 2000

Michael McDonald circa 2000. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Johnny Cash: “Ring Of Fire” (1963, written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore).

Carole King: “Tapestry” (1971, written by Carole King).

Michael McDonald: “Take It To Heart” (1990, written by Michael McDonald and Diane Warren).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: February 21, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

February 25th will mark the 79th birth anniversary of my favorite Beatle, George Harrison. Born in 1943 in Liverpool, England, he was the youngest of the group and quietly honed his skills as a songwriter and musician. By the time the band broke up in 1970, he was the first member to have a number one single when “My Sweet Lord” hit the top spot on the singles chart at the end of that year.

Harrison followed his spiritual conscience in both his music & his heart. That led to him organizing the first benefit show in 1971, “The Concert For Bangladesh”. After a successful solo career he became one fifth of the supergroup, “The Traveling Wilburys”, in 1988.

I love so much of Harrison’s music, but I have always felt that today’s pick is his most beautiful composition. He was inspired to write it after hearing James Taylor’s song, “Something In The Way She Moves”. Harrison borrowed the first line & the rest is history. Even Frank Sinatra, who supposedly was not a fan of the Beatles, called today’s track “the greatest love song of the past 50 years” when it was released in 1969. He also recorded his own version in 1970. But even The Chairman Of The Board’s rendition comes second to the original for me.

Something in the way she knows
And all I have to do is think of her
Something in the things she shows me
I don’t want to leave her now
You know I believe and how
“.

George

George Harrison circa 1969. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Beatles: “Something” (1969, written by George Harrison).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: February 14, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

One of Neil Young’s most important albums celebrated its golden anniversary earlier this month. Harvest was released 50 years ago on Feb 1, 1972. It introduced the world to legendary songs like the title track, “Old Man”, “The Needle And The Damage Done” and today’s impossibly beautiful & heartbreaking pick. I have loved this magnificent tune forever. It holds a permanent place in my top ten list of favorite songs of all time.

It was my first introduction to acoustic music & placed the bar so high it remains a perfect performance in my heart, mind & soul. And with today being Valentine’s Day, it underscores the need we all have to find that perfect love. So whatever the great joy of your life is-whether it be a person, place or thing-celebrate it with everything you have whenever you can. Life goes by too fast not to. Love is love.

“I want to live
I want to give
I’ve been a miner
For a heart of gold”.

V day

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Neil Young: “Heart Of Gold” (1972, written by Neil Young).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: February 7, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

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On February 7. 1964 The Beatles arrived in America for the very first time. Two days later they made their historic appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show”. After their first song that night, as I have written before, the world changed into a brand new color called John, Paul, George & Ringo. The rest of the hues, along with music, life & Sunday nights from that point on, would never be the same ever again. And for this I and the 73 million viewers who tuned in that night are eternally grateful. Today’s song is from The Fab Four’s first movie, released five months after that landmark evening.

It’s been a hard day’s night
And I’ve been workin’ like a dog
It’s been a hard day’s night
I should be sleepin’ like a log
“.

Feb 7

The Beatles arriving in New York during their first trip to America on February 7, 1964. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Beatles: “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: January 31, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

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February 3 will mark the 63rd anniversary of “The Day The Music Died”. On that day in 1959 three musical artists-Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens & Jiles Perry (J.P.) Richardson, a/k/a “The Big Bopper”-along with their pilot were killed in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa. All three performed as part of The Winter Dance Party Tour just hours before. The cause of the crash was never determined but it remains one of the biggest tragedies to ever occur in music history.

Many people were affected by this devastating event but only one put it into words in such an eloquent stirring way set to music. It was released 12 years after the crash in to a world that looked completely different than it did on that winter’s night in 1959. Yet it struck a nerve with nearly everyone who heard it and gave the singer & the three musicians who died over a decade earlier a perfect narrative to mark their places in history.

“But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step

I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died
“.

three singers

Don

Top (L-R): Jiles Perry (J.P.) Richardson, a/k/a “The Big Bopper”, Buddy Holly & Ritchie Valens. Bottom: Don Mclean’s 1971 album. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Don McLean: “American Pie” (1971, written by Don McLean).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: January 24, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Saturday marked the 91st birth anniversary of an extraordinary soul pioneer. Sam Cooke was born January 22, 1931 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Raised in Chicago, his first foray into music was in church courtesy of his father, a Baptist minister. When he was 15 Cooke began singing with a gospel group, The Soul Stirrers. In 1958 he released his first album of secular music, a mix of standards, Broadway tunes and one original track, the magnificent “You Send Me”.

Over the next six years Cooke would write & record many other songs, including “Cupid”, “Chain Gang”, “Another Saturday Night”, Wonderful World” and the civil rights inspired “A Change Is Gonna Come”. He also became an important member in the early days of that movement along side Muhammad Ali & Martin Luther King Jr. Cooke took an even bigger role in his career by starting his own record label (SAR Records) and publishing company (KAGS Music) to preserve his artistic legacy. Losing him in 1964 at age 33 was an unmitigated tragedy & one of music’s saddest moments. But more than six decades after his first hit record, Cooke remains one of the most important & enduring figures in music history. And rightfully so.

All of his songs are are wonderful beyond words but today’s song from his tenure with The Soul Stirrers is from my top five. His strong beautiful soulful and evocative vocal is stunning. I could listen to him sing the word “mile” for days and days and still not hear it enough. A suave elegant gifted performer with an unbelievable stage presence, Cooke defined the soul genre with every note he sang.

When I’ve gone the last mile of the way
I shall rest at the close of day
For I know there are joys awaiting
When I’ve gone the last mile of the way”.

Sam-Muhammed-singing_Abkco-Records-credit-scaled-1

Muhammad Ali (left) in the studio with Sam Cooke (right) circa 1964. Courtesy of officialsamcooke.com. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Soul Stirrers: “The Last Mile Of The Way” (Recorded between 1950-1957. Written by Johnson Oatman, Jr.).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: January 17, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

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The Temptations’ David Ruffin was born January 18, 1941 in Mississippi. He had one of the best voices in Motown, right on par with Levi Stubbs and Marvin Gaye who was a huge fan of Ruffin’s as well. His group member Eddie Kendricks did a great job on his falsetto led songs. But to me, the achingly impassioned vocal Ruffin delivered on each of his tracks got me. Every. Single. Time. And the strings on this song elevate it to a level of perfection that just makes me swoon.

Girl, I can’t believe my ears
Are you really telling my goodbye?
See, you’ve taken away my reason for livin’
And you won’t even tell me why
“.

Temps

The Temptations circa 1965 (L-R): David Ruffin, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Otis Williams and Eddie Kendricks. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Temptations: “I Could Never Love Another (After Lovin’ You)” (1968, written by Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong and Rodger Penzabene).

Stay well.

Music Monday: January 10, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

A new video for today’s song premiered last month. When the track was originally released in November 1970, it hit the #1 spot in the country by the end of that year where it stayed for four consecutive weeks. The groundbreaking album that song was on became #1 in America on January 2, 1971. All Things Must Pass was George Harrison’s masterpiece and proved he was so much more than The Quiet Beatle. Over 50 years later we are still celebrating the brilliance of this album and its first hit.

I really want to see you
Really want to be with you
Really want to see you, Lord
But it takes so long, my Lord
“.

All_Things_Must_Pass_BW

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

George Harrison: “My Sweet Lord” (1970, written by George Harrison).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: December 27, 2021

Hi, everyone. Welcome to the last edition of Music Monday for the year.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Before we get to the final song of 2021, I want to thank all of you for joining me, especially this year. We are still dealing with so much, so to have this outlet available to come to for a much needed break from all that has been a tremendous relief. I enjoy sharing my love of music & my thoughts and stories with you. There is more to come in 2022 so please stay tuned. And I wish us all love, peace, health, happiness & more in 2022. Now for the finale.

Unless you slept through the last two weeks, then you know the big news in the music industry & the universe as a whole was Bruce Springsteen’s 500 million dollar deal. That is the price Sony Music paid for his entire catalog, i.e. every song he has ever written.

In 2014 Forbes Magazine estimated Springsteen’s salary at $81 million dollars per year thanks to his sold out marathon shows. His net worth before the sale of his catalog was estimated to be $650 million dollars. With his current deal, that gives him an amassed wealth of over a billion dollars. That is staggering but unbelievably well deserved for the man we call The Boss.

His first album was released 49 years ago in January 1973. For at least half that amount of time he has performed his three hour plus concerts all around the world. He learned to work hard from his blue collar upbringing. That work ethic combined with his talent for poetry, storytelling, showmanship & music helped him complete the holy trifecta of music after Elvis Presley & Bob Dylan.

Bruce by Terry O'Neil 1975

Bruce Springsteen in Los Angeles in 1975. Photo by Terry O’Neil.

As thrilled as I am that Bruce has earned this type of wealth for his words & music, a part of me never thought I would hear his music used in ads. He was just that protective of his work. But we all know that will be part of what Sony will do to earn back the cost & profit on this deal. However, given the long & continuing relationship Springsteen has with his record company (Sony is the parent company of Columbia Records) and their reverence for his breathtaking talent, I am hopeful the songs will be sourced in a refined manner.

Of course, this deal will also make the Boss’s music more available for shows & movies, too. In the few times I have heard them that way (“Copland” is my favorite since it features several songs from The River, including my top pick, “Drive All Night”) it has been an unbelievable & quite unexpected treat. Bruce continues to be the gift that just keeps giving in my life.

In honor of Springsteen’s mammoth deal, I am using this last Music Monday of 2021 to feature the most exquisite piece of music I have ever heard. From the first moment I listened to this track as a 12 year old girl, I have ached from the beauty of it. Bruce Springsteen is my heart and this song is how that happened.

The midnight gang’s assembled
And picked a rendezvous for the night
They’ll meet ‘neath that giant Exxon sign
That brings this fair city light
“.

BTR collage

A collage of pictures from the 1975 “Born To Run” photo shoot. All images by Eric Meola.

Bruce Springsteen: “Jungleland” (1975, written by Bruce Springsteen).

Stay well.