Let’s Take A Moment Day 226

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 quote 2

(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 a long overdue mid-week Motown break. Today’s song has been covered as a gorgeous ballad by both Luther Vandross (in 1982) and Michael McDonald (in 2003). The uptempo 1965 original by The Temptations features music not only by The Funk Brothers but by The Detroit Symphony Orchestra as well. It was co-written by Smokey Robinson, features the incomparable David Ruffin on lead vocal with an assist from bass singer Melvin Franklin & those luscious backing harmonies. It’s another of The Temps exquisite lost love songs that only Ruffin could tell. The addition of the orchestra only amplifies the power and heartbreak of each note he sings. I think if the heart made noise when it was crying, it would sound exactly like Ruffin’s trademark pleading vocal.

Oh, determination is fading fast
Inspiration is a thing of the past
Can’t see how my hope’s gonna last
Good things are bad and what’s happy is sad
“.

Temps 2

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

The Temptations: “Since I Lost My Baby” (1965, written by Warren (Pete) Moore and William “Smokey” Robinson Jr.).

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 225

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 quote 2

(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.

Tonight is the two hour season five premiere of “This Is Us”. I must tell you that as great as that show is, the level of drama was scaring me enough to reconsider watching it going forward. But that was before COVID and the rest of the ballast 2020 has thrust upon the world. Now I think bring it on. Problems from a fictional family will be a welcome relief.

But a two hour show means I will be crying for about 120 minutes. In that case, I need to start the day on a happy funky soulful note. There is no one better at that than The Godfather Of Soul, James Brown. And if there is a song on the planet with a better brass sound & arrangement, I have no idea what it is.

When I hold you in my arms
I know that I can do no wrong
And when I hold you in my arms
My love won’t do you no harm
“.

James Brown circa 1974

James Brown circa 1974. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

James Brown: “I Got You” (1965, written by James Brown).

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 207

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?

Jane Austen 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.

Today is all about the man born John Winston Lennon on this day 80 years ago in Liverpool, England. In one decade he went from a Quarrymen to The Smart Beatle to The Walrus to simply John. In every one of those roles, he was a man who brought dreams to life. I am grateful for his words, his music, his intellect, his efforts to bring love and peace to the world and for his heart.

Lennon’s work in the later years with The Beatles & most of his solo music could best be described as introspective. He was learning about himself through spirituality, the enormity of the group’s fame, his expanding talent as a musician & as a songwriter. But to me Lennon was never better than when he embraced his rock & roll side. He did just that on a lot of The Beatles early music & with his covers of many of the songs he loved on his 1975 “Rock ‘N’ Roll” album. Today’s track is my absolute favorite rocking vocal of his with The Fab Four. Sending prayers, “limitless undying love” & thanks his way today and always.

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me
“.

Fab Four

Lennon

Top: The Fab Four circa 1965 (L-R): George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr & Paul McCartney. Bottom: Lennon circa 1971. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

The Beatles: “Help” (1965, written by John Lennon & Paul McCartney).

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 170

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?

Bruce 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.  I adore Martha & The Vandellas.  Lead singer Martha Reeves met Vandella Rosalind Ashford in the late 1950’s when she joined her and another singer, Annette Beard, in a group called The Del-Phis.  By 1962 they were known as The Vels backing up Marvin Gaye on his song, “Stubborn Kind Of Fellow”.  Then the female singers recorded a demo for Motown in singer Mary Wells absence and were offered a recording contract by label president Berry Gordy.  At that point they christened themselves by the group name they would become famous with.  In 1964 Beard left the group to have her first child so she was replaced by Betty Kelley, who joined just in time to record the trio’s signature hit, “Dancing In The Street”.  Kelley was fired from the group during the summer of 1967 allegedly for arguments with Reeves and for missing performances.  But a lot of the tension in the group came from declining record sales & their loss of Gordy’s support of them and many other Motown artists while he took over Diana Ross’ career to turn her into the first lady of the label.  By 1972 the group broke up when Reeves pursued a solo career.  That was the end of my favorite female group from the Motor City.   But in their prime, Martha & The Vandellas made some great music.

Each night as I sleep, into my heart you creep
I wake up feelin’ sorry I met you, hoping soon that I’ll forget you
When I look in the mirror to comb my hair
I see your face just a smiling there“.

Vandellas

Martha and the Vandellas in 1965. (L-to-R) Rosalind Ashford, Martha Reeves, and Betty Kelley.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Martha & The Vandellas:  “Nowhere To Run” (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 156

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.

Time for another mid-week Motown break.  In 1963 Stevie Wonder scored his first #1 song with “Fingertips”.  He was 13 years old.  But for the next two years he could not get a record into the top 20.  When he turned 15 his voice changed and the songwriters he was working with modified their process to adapt to Wonder’s new tenor voice.  He wanted something with a fast tempo to match the pace of The Rolling Stones song, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” which was a huge hit at the time.  The result is today’s song which went to #3 on the charts and began a streak of hit songs that would follow Wonder into the 1970’s.

No football hero or smooth Don Juan
Got empty pockets, you see I’m a poor man’s son
Can’t give her the things that money can’t buy
But I’ll never, never make my baby cry“.

Stevie Marvin

Stevie Wonder (L) and Marvin Gaye (R) in the Motown studios circa 1965.  Gaye played drums for Wonder and several other Motown artists before his own successful recording career.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Stevie Wonder:  “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” (1965, written by Henry Cosby, Sylvia Moy and Stevie Wonder).

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 152

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.

It happened fifty-five years ago today on August 15, 1965.  The Beatles performed a concert at Shea Stadium in Queens, NY.  It was a Sunday night just like their appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” over a year earlier.  The Fab Four accomplished so many great things as a band, and becoming the first ones to ever play a stadium venue was just one more unbelievable achievement to add to their resume.  If you asked any of the 56,000 fans in attendance, the staff or security guards who worked this show I doubt any of them could name the songs the group played since the screams by hysterical heart sick girls were so loud they drowned out the music.  Luckily the show was well documented and a film about the show by BBC Television came out the following year.  August 11 also marked the anniversary releases of two of the group’s movies, “A Hard Day’s Night” in 1964 and “Help” in 1965.  The band performed both movie title songs at Shea along with 10 other songs.  Today’s pick is one of my top choices from the show.

Baby says she’s mine, you know
She tells me all the time, you know
She said so
I’m in love with her and I feel fine“.

Beatles Shea
The Beatles on stage at Shea Stadium August 15, 1965.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Beatles:  “I Feel Fine” (1964, written by John Lennon & Paul McCartney).

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 150

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.

We have hit another benchmark as we are now at day 150 of the pandemic.  Wow.  So let’s commemorate it with an extra special song & singer to make it easier to realize the five month mark.

Otis Redding.  Otis Redding.  Otis Redding.  My heart belongs to this beautiful talented singer with the most intense, passionate & soulful voice I ever heard.  I swoon over every single note of his music each time it is played.  When I really need an Otis fix, I watch his Monterey Pop Festival performance from 1967 where he literally stole the show from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Jefferson Airplane and other well established musical acts.  Redding’s music has been featured in movies like “Dirty Dancing” (“These Arms Of Mine” & “Love Man”), “Love Actually” (“White Christmas”), “Platoon” (“Dock Of The Bay”) and in TV shows like “The Sopranos” (season 2 episode 9 featured “My Lover’s Prayer”) and in the original “Magnum, P.I.” (season 7 episode 16 featured “Try A Little Tenderness”).  Today’s song, which is included on the album, “Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul”, arguably his best album released in September 1965, was featured on “The Wonder Years” in season 1 episode 6 where Kevin & Winnie danced to it at a school function.  Only Redding’s music could make a show as great as that one even better.

I’ve been loving you a little too long
I don’t want to stop now, oh
With you my life
Has been so wonderful
I can’t stop now“.

Otis

Otis Redding at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Otis Redding:  “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” (1965, written by Otis Redding and Jerry Butler).

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 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 rendition 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.