Let’s Take A Moment Day 140

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Charlie Brown No Music No Life

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Our first birthday of the new month belongs to the one and only Tony Bennett who turns 94 today.  Born and raised in Astoria, New York he started singing early in life but did not start his professional career until he served in the army for two years at the end of WWII.  According to his website the first time he sang in a nightclub was in 1946.  In 1949 Bob Hope saw Bennett perform and invited him to Paramount Studios.  The website also states it was Hope who came up with Bennett’s stage name because Hope did not like the one Bennett used at that time, which was Joe Bari.  Bennett’s first hit came in 1951 with “Because Of You” which means he has been recording songs for 69 years in seven different decades.  That is astonishing.

With that many years of music to choose from, you might think it was a daunting task for me to pick only one to share.  But it really wasn’t as today’s song is timeless like Bennett himself.  This tune began as an instrumental in 1936 but by 1954 lyrics were added to the beautiful music.  That same year Nat King Cole did an absolutely stunning version of his own with Bennett recording his in 1959.  That is a great rending as well, but I really love the updated one he did in 1965 which was included on his record, “The Movie Song Album”, released the following year.  The production is prettier and includes a truly gorgeous string arrangement.  Add to that Bennett’s nearly perfect voice and it is just my absolute favorite performance of this song ever.

Continued health, love, happiness and success to you, Anthony Dominick Benedetto.  You are an absolute gift to anyone who has ever heard you sing and to music & life itself.

Tony

 (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Tony Bennett:  “Smile” (1965, written by Charlie Chaplin (music, 1936) and Geoffrey Parsons and John Turner (lyrics, 1954).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 135

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Thoreau music quote

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Time for another mid-week Motown break.  The Four Tops had tremendous success whether they were singing their own Motown originals or covers like “Walk Away Renee” (first recorded by The Left Banke in 1966), “If I Were A Carpenter” (written & recorded by Tim Hardin in 1967) or “River Deep Mountain High” (originally recorded by Ike & Tina Turner in 1966).  The reason they never missed was because Levi Stubbs was as close to perfection as a vocalist could be.  He had a smooth polished vocal as opposed to the impassioned raw emotion of his Temptations counterpoint, David Ruffin.  I often thought of Stubbs singing to be close in style to Sam Cooke’s while Ruffin’s was more like Otis Redding’s.  All four men had incredible iconic voices, just different styles.

Added to Stubbs’ vocals were the harmonious backing sounds by his group members- Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton-along with the music of The Funk Brothers and the historic magical sound of The Four Tops was complete.  All four members stayed together for 44 years, a record unmatched by any other act on the label.  To this day they remain one of Motown’s most beloved and renowned groups and one of my great loves from that era.

All you left is our favorite song
The one we danced to all night long
It used to bring sweet memories
Of a tender love that used to be.” 

Four Tops

The Four Tops circa 1965 (L-to-R) Renaldo “Obie” Benson, Levi Stubbs, Abdul “Duke” Fakir, and Lawrence Payton.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Four Tops:  “It’s The Same Old Song” ( 1965, written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 131

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Thoreau music quote

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Record labels are as much a part of musical history as the singers and musicians signed to them.  One of the labels very close to my heart is Stax Records.  Based in Memphis, TN and founded in 1957 as Satellite Records but it changed to Stax in 1961 when it began sharing the same offices as one of their subsidiaries, Volt Records.  The name Stax was derived from combining the first two initials of the owners last names, ST from Jim Stewart and AX from his sister, Estelle Axton.

The label’s house band was Booker T & The MG’s and featured recording artists like Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Rufus Thomas and his daughter, Carla Thomas, Isaac Hayes, The Bar-Kays, Eddie Floyd, Albert King and Wilson Pickett, who sings today’s song which he co-wrote with The MG’s guitarist, Steve Cropper.  By 1967 the label saw its greatest success as well as the loss of its heart, soul and much of its financial stability after the deaths of Otis Redding and four members of The Bar-Kays in a plane crash that December.  Despite success in the 1970’s by The Staple Singers and Shirley Brown the label filed bankruptcy at the end of 1975.  By 1982 it became a reissue label and in 2003 The Stax Museum of American Soul Music opened in Memphis.  But for a little while, Stax was the record label with the most soul in the south.  And one listen to today’s song by The “Wicked” Pickett proves that point beautifully.

I’m gonna wait till the stars come out
And see that twinkle in your eyes
I’m gonna wait ’till the midnight hour
That’s when my love begins to shine.”

Steve Cropper (L) and Wilson Pickett (R), both circa 1965.  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Wilson Pickett:  “In The Midnight Hour” (1965, written by Steve Cropper & Wilson Pickett).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 115

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Thoreau music quote

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

There are sad stories in life and then there are ones too sad for words.  The only way to describe today’s singer, Jackson C. Frank, is as the second coming of Job.  When he was 11 years old he suffered burns to fifty percent of his body when a furnace exploded at his elementary school.  He lost many of his classmates including his girlfriend and was in the hospital for months.  This would set the stage for a multitude of physical and mental ailments that would plague him for the rest of his life.  A teacher gave him a guitar while he was recovering so Frank learned how to play and eventually write songs.

When he turned 21 in 1964, he received an insurance settlement for his injuries due to the fire and went to Europe to pursue a career in music.  There he met Paul Simon who produced Frank’s 1965 debut self-titled album which contained today’s song (Simon & Garfunkel would do their own version the same year but would not release it until 1997 on the boxed set, “Old Friends”).  Frank began to garner a small following due to his record but by 1966, his mental health began to unravel.  He was hospitalized in Europe before returning to America when his insurance money ran out.

Soon after he got married and had two children, a boy and a girl.  But when his son died from cystic fibrosis, Frank’s mental health deteriorated again and he was hospitalized a second time.  His wife left him, taking their daughter with her, and Frank became increasingly unstable and despondent.  His only album was reissued in 1978 but failed to change his situation.

His physical health began to decline due to complications of the injuries of the fire.  He lived with his parents for a while but eventually left the house when he was unsupervised to go to NYC to look up Simon.  Instead Frank ended up homeless and hospitalized several times, finally receiving a diagnosis as a paranoid schizophrenic.  One of the times he was living on the street some kids were playing with a pellet gun and accidentally blinded Frank in the left eye.  Eventually a fan found Frank, became his guardian and placed him in a supervised living center until he died of pneumonia at age 56 in 1999.

Rolling Stone Magazine called Frank one of the best forgotten songwriters of the 1960s.  His genre of music, folk, is just one I could not embrace.  I respect the musicianship but the sound never hit my soul like the other types of music I love did.  But then again I do not ever remember hearing this man before today’s song was featured in the third episode of season one of “This Is Us”.  That was more than 50 years after Frank recorded it and 17 years after he died.  I am forever thankful that I can know him through the rest of his music I found online, too, because it & he are too good to be forgotten.

I share his story because I firmly believe it is my responsibility as a music lover and fan to expose the songs I love to those who might not yet know them.  It is how they live on.  And because I think today’s song is just that special.

Jackson C Frank
Jackson C, Frank circa 1965.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Jackson C. Frank:  “Blues Run The Game”  (1965, written by Jackson C. Frank).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 95

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Kerouac

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

One of the biggest stars to shine during the 1980’s was Phil Collins.  He was everywhere-on the charts, working with other artists (my favorite collab was as a co-producer on Eric Clapton’s 1985 album, “Behind The Sun”) and playing both Live Aid shows by taking the Concorde from one continent to another.  But my favorite P.C. moment of the decade is today’s song, which was also a hit in 1965 for The Mindbenders.  But I believe it was Collins version that inspired the string arrangement used on “Friends” when Chandler was escorted down the aisle by his parents at his wedding to Monica.

When I’m feeling blue, all I have to do
Is take a look at you, then I’m not so blue
When you’re close to me, I can feel your heart beat
I can hear you breathing in my ear
Wouldn’t you agree, baby you and me got a groovy kind of love.”

Phil Collins

Phil Collins circa 1985.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Phil Collins:  “Groovy Kind Of Love” (1988, written by Carole Bayer Sager and Toni Wine).   

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.