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: June 27, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Let’s send the month of June out on a funk-filled note. My favorite group from that genre is Sly & The Family Stone. Formed in 1966 and headed up by the incredibly multi-talented singer, songwriter, musician & producer Sly Stone, the group’s sound was unique & infectious. They had one of the first diverse lineups which included black, white & female members. And when they took the stage, there were few bands who could match their talent and energy.

Today’s song, the first single from their 1968 album Stand, went to #1 for four weeks the following year. The track was a commentary on inclusion extended to anyone who saw themselves in the lyrics or who just wanted a place in the dance party. All were welcome, even if you were on the sidelines just tapping your foot to the beat. The group’s invitation was open to all and brought them to the top spot on the charts for the first time in their career.

I am no better and neither are you
We’re all the same, whatever we do
You love me, you hate me, you know me and then
You can’t figure out the bag I’m in
“.

Sly & The Family Stone Portrait

Sly & The Family Stone circa 1971. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Sly & The Family Stone: “Everyday People” (1968, written by  Sylvester Stewart a/k/a Sly Stone).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: April 4, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

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.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 505

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?

Aug 2021 blog

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life 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 the man born Anthony Dominick Benedetto turns 95 years young. The legendary performer better known by his stage name, Tony Bennett, was born on August 3, 1926 in Queens, NY. Frank Sinatra called him “the best singer in the business”. Pretty hard to argue with the Chairman Of The Board. Bennett released today’s song, his signature tune, in February of 1962. Nearly 60 years later, it remains as timeless as the singer himself. Here’s to 100 more birthdays for the great Tony Bennett.

The loveliness of Paris seems somehow sadly grey
The glory that was Rome is of another day
I’ve been terribly alone and forgotten in Manhattan
I’m going home to my city by the Bay
“.

Tony 1

Tony 2

Top: Tony Bennett circa 1964. Bottom: Bennett circa 2004. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Tony Bennett: “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” (1962, written by George C. Cory Jr. and Douglass Cross).

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 Tale A Moment Day 498

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?

Tom Petty music quote

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life 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.

Fifty five years ago the first supergroup was born. Former Yardbird Eric Clapton joined forces with drummer Ginger Baker and bassist Jack Bruce from the Graham Bond Organization to form the band Cream on July 16, 1966. They would stay together for only three years mostly due to the incessant fighting between Baker and Bruce.

But in that time they released four albums together and redefined what live music sounded like. Those performances consisted of the band playing what they felt rather than what they were supposed to. Today’s song is a perfect example of that improvisational magic. They took an old blues song, fused it together with their own sound and turned it into nothing short of sheer excellence.

Going down to Rosedale
Take my rider by my side
You can still barrelhouse, baby
On the riverside
“.

Cream 1

cream 3

Top: Cream’s 1968 album Wheels Of Fire. Bottom: Cream circa 1968 (L-R): Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Cream: “Crossroads” (1968, written by Eric Clapton and Robert Johnson).

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 492

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?

Tom Petty music quote

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life 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.

John Lennon & Paul McCartney met as teenagers 64 years ago in Liverpool, England in July 1957. Both were from the same city, both had already lost their mothers, both wanted to play music & eventually both were in the same band. They became songwriting partners, their group morphed into The Beatles which turned into that whole redefining music & culture thing and they all became legends. But that is where the similarities ended.

One listen to the songs they co-wrote together and it was obvious which one was the primary songwriter. And it had nothing to do with who was on lead vocal. Lennon’s music was deeper, spiritual, insightful & intellectual. McCartney had his moments with that approach as well, as evidenced on songs like “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude” to name two.

But McCartney was a master at catchy tunes, pop lyrics & storytelling. If there was one album that showcased both men’s’ distinct qualities, it was 1968’s showpiece, The White Album. And like most of The Beatles records, I found myself completely enthralled with Lennon’s songs, especially today’s pick.

The sun is up the sky is blue
It’s beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence
Won’t you come out to play
“.

The Beatles

The Beatles circa 1969 (L-R): John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Beatles: “Dear Prudence” (1968, written by John Lennon and 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 485

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?

Tom Petty music quote

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life 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. Today’s song was released on July 9, 1968. It was written by the husband & wife songwriting team of Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson. They started writing for the label two years earlier and wrote several other songs recorded by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell including “Ain’t’ No Mountain High Enough”, “Your Precious Love” and “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing”. Today’s pick was a Top Ten hit on the main chart & #1 on the R&B chart in 1968. It was also the last song the beautiful Terrell ever sang in public due to her illness & subsequent death in 1970.

Darling in you I found
Strength where I was torn down
Don’t know what’s in store but
Together we can open any door
“.

marvin-gaye-tammi-terrell

Tammi Terrell (L) and Marvin Gaye (R) circa 1967. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell: “You’re All I Need To Get By” (1968, written by Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson).

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 419

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?

mothers day

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life 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.

My mother loved Elvis Presley. And my paternal grandmother who was the strongest woman I ever knew, was brought to her knees every time she heard “In The Ghetto”. It was written by Mac Davis, another singer my mother enjoyed. So on this second Sunday of May, I offer this song for the two women who raised me. And because there is never a bad time to listen to The King as the other mother figure in my life-my dad-used to say.

Happy Mothers Day to all.

Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened through the ages just like wine
Quiet thought come floating down
And settle softly to the ground
“.

Elvis

The King circa 1957. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Elvis Presley: “Memories” (1968, written by Mac Davis and Billy Strange).

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 365

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?

March 2021 Blog

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life 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.

Well, here we are. The one year mark of a global pandemic. In a lifetime of say, 70 years, one year is a blip. Some years we may barely recall if not a lot happened and they just seemed to roll into the next. But with everything that transpired in the last 12 months, no one over the age of 10 will forget 2020 anytime soon.

But like most years there were similarities-the best of times, the worst of times & all the times in between. I think it was a great break from where we were, the constant go-go-go mentality as if not being insanely busy was something to be feared. It was a time to reflect, rediscover, reassess, renew & rejoice, especially if you made it through without losing anyone you loved. But again, that’s not any different than other years, is it?

We went through the pandemic together but in many different ways. Some struggled to survive alone while others had a lot of support around them. Some worked tirelessly at essential jobs while others lost their only source of income. And healthcare workers struggled under the weight of it all while giving it everything they had. Despite those efforts the virus claimed an incomprehensible number of lives. But there is hope in this new season, with the vaccine, that there is an end in sight. It is not over yet, but we are closer than we were. Until then I am still being as careful as possible and continuing to cope with songs that I love. So back to the music.

On March 16, 1968 Otis Redding hit the #1 spot in the country with “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay”. It was the first chart topping posthumous hit ever for a musical artist as the world was still mourning the singer’s death in a plane crash three months earlier. That song was featured on Day 28 but I think Redding deserves to be celebrated every day and is a perfect choice to commemorate a year in quarantine. Thank you all for your continued support, but especially for being here during the last twelve months. I hope you remain safe & well and continue to find comfort in music.

“If you want to really roll now
Gotta do the thing with soul
Shake, shake with all your might
Now, if you do it, do it right
“.

otis-redding-6

Otis Redding circa 1965. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Otis Redding: “Shake” (1966, written by Sam Cooke).

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

Stay well.