Music Monday: September 26, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Last week we crossed over into my favorite season. And what is not to love about fall? The crisp air especially in the evening when it is ripe with the aroma of wood burning fireplaces, the vibrant colors of the changing leaves, harvest festivals, not one but two holidays revolving around food (yes, I consider Halloween candy a food), pumpkins, gourds and jack-o-lanterns (oh my), the coziness of sweaters & warm blankets and we get an extra hour of sleep. Who is not on board with that? And what better way to celebrate a new season than with music?

fall pinterest image

(Pinterest image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Today’s song dates back to 1946 when it was written for the French film, Les Portes de la nuit (Gates Of The Night). Not long after American lyricist extrairdinaire Johnny Mercer wrote an English version of the track. Since then over a thousand renditions of this song have been recorded-some with vocals, some just instrumentals. Many of them are very well done but the interpretation I always found exceptional was by one of America’s greatest entertainers, Nat King Cole. His polished serene yet evocative vocals convey the loss of both love & one of the season’s most beautiful gifts in a truly sublime performance. He may be universally remembered best for his interpretation of Mel Torme’s classic, “The Christmas Song”, but Cole shines in all the other seasons too, including my favorite one of all.

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall
“.

Nat circa 1955

Nat King Cole circa 1955. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Nat King Cole: “Autumn Leaves” (1955, music by Joseph Kosma, English lyrics by Johnny Mercer, French lyrics by Jacques Prévert).

Stay safe and well.

Happy birthday, Bossman!

Today we wish the man known as “The Boss” the happiest of birthdays.

Bruce 1973A

Bruce Springsteen circa 1973. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Born September 23, 1949, Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen has been an integral part of the American music canvas for nearly 50 years. In the last one alone he has announced a new tour, sold his song catalog for an astonishing but incredibly well deserved 500 million dollars, released a film featuring his perfomances at the 1979 “No Nukes” concerts and was featured in a book based on his 2021 podcast with former president Barack Obama, Renegades: Born in the USA. He also became a grandfather. And that is just one 12 month stretch in Springsteen’s extraordinary life & career.

I am thankful every day for this man, his art, his poetry, his music, his heart, his soul and his mind. It has been an extraordinary privledge and experience to be part of his audience all these years, to be part of his narrative and to cheer for him at a show. He has won almost every award and honor there is yet he continues to give us everything he has during his marathon concerts. As Bono so eloquently put it when he inducted Springsteen into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, “He’s not the Boss-he works for us!”

Happy birthday, Bruce. Thanks for every note and every word. Cent’anni.

Now promise me baby you won’t let them find us
Hold me in your arms, let’s let our love blind us
Cover me, shut the door and cover me
I’m looking for a lover who will come on in and cover me
“.

img_1326

Bruce Springsteen performing at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA on 09/14/2016 (yes, I was there!!!). (Image courtesy of me!)

Bruce Springsteen: “Cover Me” (1980, written by Bruce Springsteen).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: September 19, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

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.

golden 1

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
“.

Good_Time_Charlie's_Got_the_Blues_-_Danny_O'Keefe

(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

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

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

Dolly movie

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

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

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
“.

Van_Morrison_Website_Profile

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

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

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.

Bossman

(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

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.

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

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

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
“.

Bad-Company-Promo-Shot-Web-559x359

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

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

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.

Joni2

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
“.

joni-mitchell-2022-musicares-person-year-py_22_editorial_1644x925-4

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

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

Stay safe and well.