Music Monday: April 25, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Today marks the 105th birth anniversary for The First Lady Of Song. Ella Fitzgerald was born April 25, 1917 in Newport News, VA. By 1934 she appeared at The Apollo Theatre for Amateur Night. Two years later she was in the studio to record her first song. And for the rest of history, she will be regarded as one of the greatest female singers of all time. Today’s track is my absolute favorite by her, not to mention my most beloved Gershwin tune.

Although he may not be the man
Some girls think of as handsome
To my heart he carries the key
“.

Ella 1

Lady Ella Fitzgerald circa 1950. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Ella Fitzgerald: “Someone To Watch Over Me” (1959, written by George Gershwin & Ira Gershwin).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: April 18, 2022

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

Music Monday

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On April 18, 1970 today’s song hit the #1 spot in the country for the second week in a row. It is the title song from The Beatles last album which remains my favorite of theirs to this day. I was lucky enough to see the movie by the same name dozens of time one summer when it was on a loop on a movie channel. I was too young to realize The Fab Four were fighting but not to realize I was witnessing the greatest band of all time rehearsing some of their final songs in a studio together. And that rooftop scene needs no further accolades from me. The performance speaks for itself over five decades later.

I still have yet to see Peter Jackson’s “Get Back” documentary released nearly six months ago for a more in-depth take on that movie. That is not because I do not think it will be a great watch. I have no doubt it is stunning. It is about The Beatles, after all. I am procrastinating because I am worried it might take away some of the magic from my first look at that moment in time. It was such a turning point in my life to see the band that changed everything so up close & personal, sharing their process with the world. It left an indelible mark on my life & the direction of my musical choices every day since.

As the band’s final album was growing in popularity in the world, the news that The Beatles broke up the same month also altered the landscape of the universe. The phenomenal ride those four lads from Liverpool took us on had ended. That devastating news in early 1970 changed the world as much as their first appearance did on that glorious Sunday night just six years earlier on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in February 1964.

And when the brokenhearted people
Living in the world agree
There will be an answer
Let it be
“.

Beatles

 

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Beatles: “Let It Be” (1970, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: April 11, 2022

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

Music Monday

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I need to spend some extra time with the man I consider to be the greatest frontman of all time. So, a trip to the Morrison Hotel it is. Ladies & Gentlemen, The Doors.

Well I woke up this morning
And I got myself a beer
The future’s uncertain
And and the end is always near
“.

Hotel

The cover of The Doors’ 1970 album. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Doors: “Roadhouse Blues” (1970, written by The Doors: John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: April 4, 2022

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

Music Monday

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Saturday marked the 83rd birth anniversary for one of the great musical loves of my life. Marvin Gaye was born April 2, 1939 in Washington, D.C. and became one of the most definitive soul voices in music history. Below is the tribute post I wrote for him on my blog from April 2, 2020.

Today’s marks what would have been Marvin Gaye’s birthday.  He sang some of the greatest songs to come out of the Motor City including today’s pick.  It was his first career number one record, and for a while it was the best selling hit on the Motown label, spending seven weeks in the top spot.

I can still remember the first time I heard this song.  I was sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car and from the second it came on the radio, I felt something inside of me tremble.  Like a part of me I did not even know I had suddenly woke up and made its presence known.  It was strong, and steady and felt so familiar yet so new at the same time.  It was as if I suddenly had an internal voice that was singing all on its own without any help from my real voice. Years later I would hear the phrase “soul music” and I realized that is why they call it that-because it is music that hits you in the deepest place.  And that is what I felt in the car that day.

marvin-gaye-1964

Marvin Gaye circa 1964. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Gaye had one of the greatest voices ever, not just in the soul genre.  He was also a talented musician playing piano, synthesizers and drums.  Despite being a solo artist he performed several duets during his career, most notably with Tammi Terrell.  He also wrote and/or co-wrote several hits for other artists including Martha & the Vandellas (“Dancing In The Street”), the Marvelettes (“Beechwood 4-5789″) and the Originals (“Baby, I’m For Real”).  He wrote many of his own songs as well, and as the turbulence of the 1960’s became too hard for him to ignore, he channeled his feelings into songs about the war (“What’s Going On”), social injustice (“Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)”) and the state of the environment (“Mercy Mercy Me”), amongst others.  

Gaye took some time off in the late 1970’s for personal reasons including his exit from the Motown label.  He signed with CBS Records and came back stronger than ever in 1982 with his album “Midnight Love” which included another number one hit, “Sexual Healing”.  That song earned him his first two Grammy Awards after over 20 years as a recording artist.  Also in 1983, he sang an incredibly soulful rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the NBA All Star Game.  While he was in the middle of his enormous comeback tour, I was lucky enough to see him give a magnetic performance at Radio City Music Hall.  It was one of the greatest nights of my life.

So many singers have died tragically young either by drugs, plane crashes, car accidents or suicide.  But Gaye was the third of my musical heroes to be shot to death-first Sam Cooke (one of Gaye’s idols) in 1964 and then John Lennon in 1980.  In those two tragedies both men died by a stranger’s hand.  Gaye was killed by his own father on April 1, 1984. I have never fully recovered from the senselessness of that act.  I wonder almost daily what else this unbelievably talented man would have accomplished in his career.

People say believe half of what you see, son
And none of what you hear
But I can’t help bein’ confused
If it’s true please tell me dear
“.

Marvin

Gaye circa 1971. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye: “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (1968, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: March 28, 2022

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

Music Monday

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We have another triple play this week to honor three of the biggest legends in music celebrating birthdays this month.

March 25 marked the 80th birth anniversary for the eternal Queen Of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Born in 1942 in Memphis, TN she remains the greatest female vocalist in the universe. It has been nearly four years since she died and just look at where we are without her.

Aretha

Aretha Franklin circa 1968. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

As if the gift of royalty was not enough to receive on March 25, that day also marked birthday #75 for Sir Elton John. Born in Pinner, UK in 1947 his voice is the one I discovered first out of the three artists featured today. I found him even before I found Springsteen. From the first moment I heard “Daniel”, I was captivated by John’s beautiful evocative voice & the music he created with the poetry of his sublime unbelievably talented collaborator, Bernie Taupin. These two men have been part of the soundtrack of my life ever since. It makes complete sense to me that while I was doing my Song Of The Day feature during 17 months of the pandemic, John appeared more than any other solo artist with 16 entries. He was second only to The Beatles who had 18 songs (Springsteen appeared 14 times, Clapton had 12 entries including two collaborations (but not counting his group entries) and Elvis had 11 songs, in case you were wondering).

Elton

Elton John circa 1970. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The first album I ever bought was John’s 1974 compilation album, “Greatest Hits”. I thought my heart would break when he announced his retirement a few years ago. Apparently the entire planet needed more time to adjust to that news as well because thanks to the pandemic, his farewell tour has been extended. But if anyone deserves to be a happily retired father & husband left to raise his beautiful family in the peace of a life without work, it is John. He deserves every happiness he has given the world. And we all know that figure is immeasurable. Today’s pick for him is one of the most elegant & beautiful tracks from his extraordinary catalog.

This week Eric Clapton will celebrate his 77th birthday. Born March 30, 1945 in Ripley, UK, my life was altered forever the second I heard the opening riff of today’s song. And I have listened to music for decades since that moment & I still have not had anything hit me quite like that. Behold the power of Slowhand.

Clapton

Eric Clapton circa 1975. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Aretha Franklin: “(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone” (1968, written by Aretha Franklin & Ted White).

Elton John: “I Need You To Turn To” (1970, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin).

Eric Clapton / Derek & The Dominos: “Layla” (1970, written by Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: March 21, 2022

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

Music Monday

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We all have songs that take us back to some of the best memories of our lives. Moments when we were truly complete & happy. When for a short time a million years ago we had a real life, a whole life, a beautiful life. Those memories may sometimes feel like a dream that could not have possibly happened. But it did. And the songs we remember from those times bear witness to those memories & remain a testament to that period of time. Today’s song is one of my most beloved rides back to my Camelot.

The track is from 1972 but more than 30 years later I heard a fabulous cover of it in the 2003 movie, “Stuck On You”. That version introduced me to a musician I was thrilled to discover, Pete Yorn. But even his extraordinary take on this song cannot match the emotional comfort I get from the original, even all these years later.

Got on board a westbound 747
Didn’t think before deciding what to do
Oh, that talk of opportunities, TV breaks and movies
Rang true, sure rang true
“.

Albert Hammond 1972

albert-hammond-new

Top: Albert Hammond circa 1972. Bottom: Hammond circa 2015. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Albert Hammond: “It Never Rains In Southern California” (1972, written by Albert Hammond and Mike Hazelwood).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: March 14, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

On March 15, 1975 one of my all time favorite bands hit the top spot in the country with today’s song. From their gloriously titled 1974 album, What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits and written by guitarist Patrick Simmons, the ode to his favorite New Orleans sound & the Mississippi River was a surprise B-side hit that gave the group the first #1 song of their career. They did a really wonderful 2020 version of this tune with fans participating via video clips during lockdown as part of the band’s “Live In Isolation” series. But the original track still gets me every time, especially the sublime viola arrangement.

Well I built me a raft and she’s ready for floatin’
Ol’ Mississippi, she’s callin’ my name
Catfish are jumpin’, that paddle wheel thumpin’
Black water keeps rollin’ on past just the same

Doobies 1974

Doobie 2020

Top: The Doobie Brothers circa 1974 (L-R): Michael Hossack, Patrick Simmons, Tom Johnston, Tiran Porter and Jeff Baxter. Bottom: The 2020 version of the band (L-R): Michael McDonald, Simmons, Johnston and John McFee. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

The Doobie Brothers: “Black Water” (1974, written by Patrick Simmons).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: March 7, 2022

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

Music Monday

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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.