Music Monday: September 19, 2022

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

Music Monday

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September 9 marked the 81st birth anniversary for The King Of Soul. Otis Ray Redding Jr. was born in 1941 in Dawson, Georgia and lived in that state for his entire all too brief life. Like many soul and R&B artists, he started his career singing in church when he was a child. By the age of 17 he had already won numerous local talent shows and became a member of Johnny Jenkins and The Pinetoppers.

In 1962 Redding drove Jenkins to Stax Records in Memphis to record a few songs. His session ended early so Redding was given that time to record some of his own tracks by none other than Jim Stewart, one of the owners of Stax. The rest of the story involves five incredibly short but unbelievably powerful years that would account for Redding’s entire career. And what an outstanding one it was.

If you are not already a fan, I suggest you find any of his performances from the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival on YouTube and watch them. I promise it will bot only change your mind, but your life as well. The energy, the passion, the soul, the presence, the unmitigated joy this man experienced on a stage was unmatched. That is why he remains a legend in every sense of the word.

Today’s song holds the number two spot on my top ten list of favorite songs of all time. The album of the same name was released in February 1968, a mere two & a half months after his death. But it changed music forever, as did Redding himself.

Look like nothin’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same”.

Otis circa 1965

Otis Redding circa 1965. (Image courtesy of otisredding.com. Original source unknown.)

Otis Redding: “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” (1968, written by Steve Cropper and Otis Redding).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: Sept 12, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Before we get to our song, let me pay tribute to four women who are quite dear to me. On September 14, 1985 my Girls, the world’s Girls, “The Golden Girls” debuted on NBC. And they have not left the airwaves in the last 37 years, living on in syndication & fans’ hearts all around the world. I love them for more reasons than I can ever count, but especially for how current they were on music. They made references to Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash and Prince, to name a few. Just one more reason why they were four of the coolest bad-ass chicks on the planet. Long live The Golden Girls! And a ginormous thank you to show creator Susan Harris & all the people behind the cameras who brought the show to life.

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The Golden Girls on their couch (L-R): Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Betty White and Estelle Getty. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

For as happy as the above anniversary makes me, it also reminds me that when I was watching that show the first time around, most of my life was still ahead of me. That is not the case now. And it forces me to take pause and reflect. Not only on what I have to be grateful for but also for those I have lost. And that makes me feel very sad.

Add to that the 21st anniversary of 9/11 yesterday, the fact that Great Britain is now in a mourning period for a Queen they celebrated for 50 years but more importantly, a family lost a mother, a grandmother and a great grandmother, plus the world continues to fight a pandemic after two & a half very long years. The passage of time just keeps reminding me not all changes are happy ones. Many transitions were and continue to be difficult.

Sometimes I just need to face that. So for today, I am going to let myself feel down. And hope tomorrow this weight will feel a little lighter. As always music is the way I cope, whatever mood I am in. Today, that mood is blue. Whatever color day you are having (Blanche Devereaux referred to some of her off days as “magenta”), I hope you enjoy today’s song. I do not know when or where I first heard it but I love it. Especially on days when the colors win.

You know my heart keeps tellin’ me
You’re not a kid at thirty-three
You play around you lose your wife
You play too long you lose your life
“.

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(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Danny O’Keefe: “Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues” (1972, written by Danny O’Keefe).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: September 5, 2022

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

Music Monday

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Today we observe Labor Day in the United States. Whether you work the hours referenced in today’s song or any other schedule, whether you do it in a store, an office, on the road, outside or from home, whether you are considered white collar, blue collar or no collar, you are a laborer. A person that makes this country run. Every. Single. Day. We are, as John Lennon sang, working class heroes. May this day of rest-if you are able to observe it-be one of leisure, peace or whatever down time means to you.

Tumble outta bed and
I stumble to the kitchen
Pour myself a cup of ambition and
Yawn & stretch & try to come to life
“.

Labor

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Top: Telephone operators at the turn of the 20th century. Bottom: Dolly Parton on the phone in the 1980 movie, “9 to 5”. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Dolly Parton: “9 to 5” (1980, written by Dolly Parton).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: August 29, 2022

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

Music Monday

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Happy almost 77th birthday to Sir George Ivan Morrison OBE. Born August 31, 1945 in Northern Ireland. he started performing and singing as a teenager, inspired by his father’s country, gospel & blues records. By 1964 Morrison formed the band Them who saw success with songs like “Gloria” and “Here Comes The Night”. In 1967 Van The Man went solo with his fusion of rock, blues and jazz music. That inspired and incredible sound combined with his voice & poetry gave way to songs like no others, especially on albums like Astral Weeks (1968), Moondance (1970) and Saint Dominic’s Preview (1972), just to name a few.

His fame and influence range from The Doors, Bruce Springsteen, The Band, U2, John Mellencamp, The Counting Crows, David Gray, Ray Lamontagne and so many others. After over six decades of performing, Morrison is still making new music. Earlier this year he released What’s It Gonna Take?, his 43rd studio album.

The hard part for me when listening to his music is choosing which record to start with, mainly because I will usually stay with that album for days or possibly weeks at a time. It is nearly impossible to absorb every nuance of Morrison’s voice in ten sittings, let alone one. Even all these years after first discovering this man’s music, it still surprises me with something I missed before. Today’s song, the title track from his 1973 album, falls into that category every time I hear it. It may not be as popular as some of his other songs, but for me it is one of the best vocals of his acclaimed career.

Put your money where your mouth is
Then we can get something going
In order to win you must be prepared to lose sometime
And leave one or two cards showing
“.

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Van Morrison circa 2010. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Van Morrison: “Hard Nose the Highway” (1973, written by Van Morrison).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: August 22, 2022

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

Music Monday

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Bruce Springsteen released his exquisite life changing career altering third album 47 years ago. Born To Run made its debut on August 25, 1975 and became one of classic rock’s greatest moments. I have written numerous times that this is the record that changed the trajectory of my life. And I know I am not alone in that as many fans attest to the same miracle. But it changed things for The Boss as well. It was the first commercially successful album of his career. It put him on the rock & roll map as well as on the covers of Newsweek and Time magazines in the same week of October 1975, just two months after the album’s debut.

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(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Earlier this year Springsteen announced a new tour for 2023. So many tracks from BTR are highlights of the live shows, with “Thunder Road” and “Backstreets” as staples, “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” as the number where he introduces the band and today’s track as one of the encores. And my favorite song of all time, not just from this record, “Jungleland” is saved as a special track he pulls out occasionally on stage (but more often now that Soozie Tyrell and her violin have become a permanent part of The E Street Band). The group, music, life & Springsteen have changed exponentially since BTR came out in 1975. But the poetry, the music, the power, the energy, the vibe but most importantly the promise of this incredible album still holds true: Music is the answer, no matter what the question. And Springsteen tells us that in the opening track: “What else can we do now except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair”.

Thank you, Bruce, for so much, but especially for the exquisite wonder of album number three of your illustrious career.

The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist
I wanna die with you out on the streets tonight
In an everlasting kiss
“.

BTR

The “Born To Run” album cover photograph by Eric Meola.

Bruce Springsteen: “Born To Run” (1975, written by Bruce Springsteen).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: August 15, 2022

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

Music Monday

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It was 57 years ago today that The Beatles made history in New York for the second time in two years. On August 15, 1965 the band played their now famous concert at Shea Stadium. It was the first time a musical group held a show in that type of venue in the United States. The Fab Four performed 12 songs-eight originals, four covers-during their 30 minute set in front of a sold out crowd of nearly 56,000 fans. Most of that crowd were young girls screaming so hysterically they drowned out the music, including today’s song.

I cannot even imagine what it must have been like to witness the kind of history The Beatles made on their first trip to America in February 1964, let alone the monumental concert nearly six decades ago. But I relived it vicariously through Sally Draper when she screamed & jumped for joy after her father, Don, told her he was taking her to the concert. That episode of “Mad Men” (S4 E10) aired 45 years after “The First Play At Shea”, but what a way to let those of us who missed Beatlemania experience a piece of that magic.

Thank you John, Paul, George & Ringo for EVERYTHING.

You tell lies
Thinking I can’t see
You can’t cry
‘Cause you’re laughing at me
“.

Beatles Shea

The Fab Four on stage in Shea Stadium in 1965 (L-R): Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Beatles: “I’m Down” (1965, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: August 8, 2022

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

Music Monday

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Nearly 50 years ago one of my favorite bands released their debut album. Bad Company’s self-titled first record came out in the summer of 1974. They were classified as a supergroup because all four members were once in other successful groups: drummer Simon Kirke and lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist & keyboard player Paul Rodgers were in the band Free; lead guitarist Mick Ralphs was in Mott The Hoople and bass player Boz Burrell was a part of King Crimson. All four members of Bad Co. were songwriters but Rogers & Ralphs handled the majority of that task. The band also had the distinction of being the first group signed to Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song record label.

The debut album was a #1 hit & was followed by five other records until Rodgers left the band in 1982. He returned a few times after that, staying for good in 2008. Kirke has been with the group all along. Sadly, Burrell died of a heart attack in 2006 and Ralphs left the band in 2016 due to medical reasons.

If there was an audio definition for the word “underrated”, I think any song by Bad Co. would suffice. The musicianship was top tier and Rodgers soaring powerful & distinct vocals put them in a universe all their own. Yet they have been snubbed by the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame for over 20 years and none of the members have ever received any type of British honor, either. I find both of those facts sad & disturbing.

They are part of classic rock royalty & are still one of the strongest most recognizable bands of the 1970’s. Today’s song is from their debut album & remains my top pick from that record. The music from this incredible quartet is intense, incredible and captivating while Rodgers’ voice elevates the entire experience to a stunning level. To quote the song, “Bad Company ’til the day I die”.

Company
Always on the run
Destiny
Is a rising sun
“.

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Bad Company circa 1974 (L-R): Boz Burrell (bassist), Mick Ralphs (lead guitarist), Paul Rodgers (lead vocalist) and Simon Kirke (drummer). (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Bad Company: “Bad Company” (1974, written by Simon Kirke and Paul Rodgers).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: August 1, 2022

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

Music Monday

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Unless you were asleep for most of last weekend, you know that music-actually life, for that matter-got a much needed win during this year that just will not stop disappointing us. On Sunday July 24, the legend known as Joni Mitchell made an unexpected yet glorious return to the stage at the 2022 Newport Folk Festival.

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Joni Mitchell on stage at the Newport Folk Festival on July 24, 2022. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

She sang, she played guitar & she brought the crowd to their feet proving she is still as vibrant & as moving as ever. This after fighting her way back from a serious health crisis-a brain aneurysm in 2015-that took her out of commission. I learned she has been slowly making her way back over the last few years, mostly by way of the “Joni Jams” she hosted in her living room to stay in touch with her musical friends. Earlier this year she was named Musicares Person Of The Year and last year she was celebrated as a Kennedy Centers Honor recipient.

If you need a crash course in her genius, influence & reach, there is a whole 2013 “Parenthood” episode centered around her music (S5 E4, “In Dreams Begin Responsibility”), not to mention an endless supply of YouTube videos to choose from.

The last time Mitchell played at Newport was 53 years ago in 1969. That was the same year she released today’s song. She has written some really beautiful ones in her life but this one makes me tear up every time. It took me years to appreciate the talent of this woman and for that I will always feel ashamed. But this track is her pinnacle, as was her performance last weekend on a magical stage in New England.

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost but something’s gained
In living every day
“.

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Joni Mitchell circa 1969. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Joni Mitchell: “Both Sides Now” (1969, written by Joni Mitchell).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: July 25, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

July is filled with several high profile musical birthdays. In fact, there are so many I broke them up into two separate posts to do the artists justice. Last week we focused on the women. This week it is all about the men.

First up is the man who made a triumphant return to music in 2006 after a self-imposed career sabbatical that lasted way too long. Yusuf Islam, commonly known as Yusuf f/k/a Cat Stevens, turned 74 this month. He was born July 21, 1948 in Marylebone, London, England and was one of the most prominent voices of the early 1970’s. He is best know for the hits “Peace Train”, “Wild World”, “Morning Has Broken”, “Father & Son” along with the stunning soundtrack to the 1971 black (yet incredibly endearing) comedy, “Harold & Maude”.

Cat Stevens

Cat Stevens n/k/a Yusuf pictured in the early 1970’s. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The man with the voice behind one of the greatest songs ever recorded was born July 26, 1940 in Simonton, Texas. Dobie Gray started singing gospel music as a child in church. By 1964 he had his first hit with “The In Crowd“. But he is best known for one of today’s songs, a Top Ten hit from 1973, which has become a classic rock anthem. The same year he did a beautiful cover of the Tom Jans classic, “Loving Arms“. Gray’s career spanned several genres of music including soul, R&B, pop & country. Sadly, he died in 2011 at the age of 71.

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Dobie Gray circa 1972. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

One of the most famous, charismatic & influential front men of all time is turning 79 years young tomorrow. Sir Michael Philip Jagger was born July 26, 1943 in Dartford, Kent, England. He & The Rolling Stones, are celebrating their 60th year together with only Jagger & his song writing partner & guitarist Keith Richards as the band’s last two original members after the death of drummer Charlie Watts nearly one year ago. The group went on tour last year in the late drummer’s honor and are a lock as one of the world’s greatest bands in music history.

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Mick Jagger circa 1978. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Yusuf f/k/a Cat Stevens: “Trouble” (1970, written by Cat Stevens).

Dobie Gray: “Drift Away” (1973, written by Mentor Williams).

The Rolling Stones: “Let’s Spend The Night Together” (1967, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: July 18, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

July is filled with several high profile musical birthdays. In fact, there are so many I decided to break them up into two separate posts to do the artists justice. This week we will focus on three female performers and next week will be all about the men. So stay tuned for another triple play next week.

The month began with the lead singer of an iconic group turning 77 years young. Deborah Ann Harry was born on July 1, 1945 in Miami, Florida but grew up in Hawthorne, New Jersey. She & her group, Blondie, defined rock & roll cool and New York City suave in the 1970’s until the new millennium and gave the group superstar status. Harry was not just the pretty face of the group-she was also the voice and one of its primary songwriters, too. She made her way to the small & big screens, with her roles in 1988’s “Hairspray” & 2003’s “My Life Without Me” as my favorites. Her 2019 autobiography, “Face It: A Memoir”, is worth the read as well.

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Debbie Harry sometime in the 1980’s. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Christine Anne McVie was born July 12, 1943 in Bouth, UK. making her 79 years young. One of the beautiful talented women of Fleetwood Mac, it was one of today’s song that turned out to be the group’s first hit, just one of many penned by McVie. Her prowess on the keyboards has helped define the band’s sound in every decade of their existence & led to her own successful solo career.

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Christine McVie circa 2000. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

One of the premier voices of all time turned 76 this month. Linda Maria Ronstadt was born July 15, 1946 in Tucson, AZ. She helped define the Laurel Canyon sound of the late 1960’s & early 1970’s, dominated that decade & the 1980’s as a solo performer before ending the latter decade with hit duets with Aaron Neville. She branched out into several diverse musical genres such as Broadway, Big Band, Mexican and Opera, amongst others. The sheer power & beauty of her voice continues to influence every generation after her & helps insure her place as one of the best selling artists in music history.

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Linda Ronstadt in the 1970’s. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Blondie: “Dreaming” (1979, written by Deborah Harry and Chris Stein).

Fleetwood Mac (featuring Christine McVie): “Over My Head” (1975, written by Christine McVie).

Linda Ronstadt: “Heart Like A Wheel” (1974, written by Anna McGarrigle).

Stay safe & well.