Let’s Take A Moment Day 448

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?

June 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.

All the music released in 1971 is turning 50 this year. Along with powerhouse albums like Carole King’s Tapestry (released February 10, 1971 Day 331), Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On (released May 21, 1971 Day 431) and John Lennon’s Imagine (released September 9, 1971), Don McLean’s American Pie (Day 107) was released October 24, 1971. In addition to the exquisite title track, the record included the heartbreakingly beautiful “Crossroads” (Day 43) and today’s gorgeous track recorded earlier that year on June 7,

It is another example of McLean’s wonderful gift of intricate storytelling combined with a sparse yet undeniably elegant and stunning arrangement. He holds his audience captive hanging on every word, every note, every breath. His voice has a calm & soothing quality with a subtle use of range and power in just the right places.

As one artist telling the story of another, he holds the subject of the song in the highest regard. And the introduction of the strings in the last minute of the track brings even more elegance to an already opulent piece of music. Even without the story about “the day the music died”, Don McLean’s talent & place in music history is undeniable.

Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget
“.

McLean 1971

Don McLean circa 1971. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Don McLean: “Vincent” (1971, written by Don McLean).

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 431

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?

May blog 2021

(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 years ago today-May 21, 1971-Marvin Gaye released his masterpiece, What’s Going On. This album was an expression of the angst he was feeling between 1969 & 1970 due to the state of the world-the Vietnam War, the effect of pollution on the environment, racial injustice, poverty-and what was happening in his own world: the break-up of his first marriage, the death of his friend, Tammi Terrell, the trials his brother, Frankie, faced in service to our country & as a veteran returning home from the war to little support in how to rejoin society; Gaye’s inability to break free of the confines of his Motown contract to make the music he wanted to make, his strained relationship with label owner Berry Gordy and Gaye’s money troubles with the IRS due in part to his cocaine addiction.

He co-wrote all nine songs on the album & produced it as well, his first time in that role. Motown’s house band, The Funk Brothers, helped Gaye find the perfect sound for each song. Upon its release, it was hailed as a landmark album not only for the singer but for music as well. It was critically acclaimed as a concept record, a first for Motown, and was considered an important statement for black music, too. The album had three Top Ten hits: “What’s Going On” (Day 76) hit #2 on the main chart, #1 on the R&B chart, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” (Day 380) hit #4 on the main chart, #1 on the R&B chart and today’s song, which was the third single. It hit #9 on the main chart & was another #1 song on the R&B chart.

If Marvin Gaye only gave us his recording of “Grapevine” what a contribution that would have been all by itself. But the legacy of What’s Going On defines not only his talent but his heart, soul, intellect, empathy, strength & compassion for the world around him as well. His was one of the first voices I remember hearing and I have absolutely adored it ever since. The soulfulness, the passion, the intensity & the four octave range of his deep rich baritone to tenor voice, it is a truly beautiful & remarkable instrument. I miss him every single day. Happy anniversary to one of the greatest records ever made by one of the greatest artists who ever lived.

Hang-ups, let downs
Bad breaks, set backs
Natural fact is
Oh honey that I can’t pay my taxes
“.

Marvin 1971

Marvin Gaye circa 1970. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye: “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” (1971, written by Marvin Gaye and James Nyx 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 380

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.

Time for a mid-week Motown break. April 2 will mark the 82nd birth anniversary for the man behind one of the first voices I fell in love with, Marvin Gaye. I still ache from his loss nearly 40 years ago but I continue to be amazed at how vital & progressive his music & lyrics remain. His 1971 seminal album, What’s Going On, touched on the issues we are still struggling with today yet continue to provide so much comfort to those of us who get lost in music to find hope that humanity will someday find a way to peacefully co-exist in the world we all inhabit.

I love all the songs on the album and each track hits a nerve, but today’s pick has hit closest to home for me since I was a kid. At that time I did not understand or was even aware of war, the struggle faced by those who serve & racial inequality. But I was very aware of pollution. I remember hearing so much about it on TV, especially about what aerosol sprays were doing to the ozone layer and how littering was ruining our air & water quality.

One of the most profound memories I have is the commercial of the Native American shedding a tear as he stood near a street where some horrible soul threw garbage right at his feet. And then the ominous voice delivering the stern message: “Some people have a deep abiding respect for the natural beauty that was once this country. And some people don’t. People start pollution. People can stop it”

Isn’t it funny how certain images from our childhood never leave us? And isn’t it a relief to have songs that continue to deliver the messages we still need to hear, especially the music by the magnificent Marvin Gaye?

Oh, mercy mercy me
Oh, things ain’t what they used to be no, no
Oil wasted on the oceans and upon our seas
Fish full of mercury
“.

Marvin gaye

Marvin Gaye’s 1971 groundbreaking album. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye: “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” (1971, written by Marvin Gaye).

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 376

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.

Fifty years ago The Rolling Stones famous logo made its debut. On March 26, 1971 the band’s lips and tongue trademark appeared on their VIP passes for the Marquee Club show in London, making their emblem one of the most identifiable ones in the world.

The same year today’s song hit #1 in four countries including the US and it peaked at #2 hit on the UK charts. It features another one of the band’s iconic guitar riffs and a smoking sax solo by Bobby Keys. The track is from the Stones 1971 Sticky Fingers album which had another legendary picture related to the group-the infamous Andy Warhol designed photo of a man’s crotch area featuring a functional zipper. The Rolling Stones were masters of both innovative music & iconic images.

I bet your mama was a tent show queen
And all her boyfriends were sweet sixteen
I’m no schoolboy but I know what I like
You shoulda heard me just around midnight
“.

Lips logo

Sticky Fingers

Stones 1971

Top: The Rolling Stones lips & tongue logo. Middle: The Sticky Fingers album cover. Bottom: The Stones circa 1971 (L-R): Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

The Rolling Stones: “Brown Sugar” (1971, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards).

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 351

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.

The Carpenters have the distinction of being one of the greatest duos of all time thanks to the talents of siblings Richard and Karen Carpenter. Their sound was distinctive thanks to Richard’s knack for song writing, his ear for pop melodies punctuated by layered arrangements that highlighted the absolute beauty of his sister’s voice. Karen was born on March 2, 1950 in New Haven, CT. Her family relocated to Downey, CA in 1963 to help Richard, a musician from childhood, pursue a career in music.

Karen went through a few instruments before deciding on the drums, making her one of the first female percussionists to rise to prominence. By 1965 they were playing as a jazz trio with an upright bass player. After he departed the siblings continued together. In 1969 they signed to A&M Records after label co-founder Herb Alpert heard their demo. Karen was 19 years old and it was her vocal tracks that would help make the duo achieve the international success that followed.

It began with a cover of The Beatles song, “Ticket To Ride” followed by the song that launched their career, “Close To You”, written by the iconic songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It went to #1 for four consecutive weeks in the summer of 1970. After that a slew of hits followed, including today’s song, which was a #2 hit in 1971.

Alpert was the one who convinced the duo to record their first #1 song. In a 2011 interview he gave to “CBS Sunday Morning” he spoke about Karen, who died in 1983 from complications related to an eating disorder. He said, “She never realized how great she was. She never really accepted the fact that she really had it”. Alpert also got choked up thinking of her, because even though nearly 30 years had passed since Karen’s death, he still found her loss incomprehensible. I think that pretty much sums up how all her fans feel.

What I’ve got they used to call the blues
Nothin’ is really wrong
Feelin’ like I don’t belong
“.

Carpenters-Horizon-Cover

Karen and Richard Carpenter circa 1971. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Carpenters: “Rainy Days & Mondays” (1971, written by Roger Nichols and Paul Williams).

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 331

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?

Feb 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.

When I remember the albums that changed my life while I was growing up, Born To Run, Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs, Elton John’s Greatest Hits & Let It Be are amongst the first ones I recall. But before I heard any of them, I was in love with another one that I did not even know existed. I only knew I was in love with songs like “I Feel The Earth Move” and “It’s Too Late” and the woman behind them when I was only a little kid. It was not until I heard today’s song that I finally sought out the album all three songs were a part of. It was Tapestry by Carole King, released 50 years ago today, Feb 10, 1971. It was not only transformative in teaching me about great music, it also taught me how talented one person-a woman-could be. She wrote & performed her own songs, arranged them and played her own accompaniment as well.

King, who was born Carol Joan Klein in NYC 79 years ago on February 9, 1942, started playing piano as a child. She learned from her mother who played as well. King met her songwriting partner & future husband, Gerry Goffin, when they were both students at Queens Community College and were married in 1959 when King was 17. Soon they became songwriters at the Brill Building & after the success of 1960’s “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” they were on their way. Ten years later King recorded her landmark album, released before she turned 30 years old. And by 1977, it had spent a record breaking 302 weeks on the Billboard albums chart.

I adore several female artists and each has her own gifts. Aretha Franklin is the undisputable Queen of Soul, Linda Ronstadt’s voice has an undeniable power & range all its own and Joni Mitchell is an eloquent poet & story teller. But King has an unbelievable gift and uniqueness that separates her from a group even that distinguished. And the songs from her 1971 album are absolutely invaluable to music. Happy birthday, Carole King. And happy anniversary to the beautiful Tapestry.

“Traveling around sure gets me down and lonely
Nothing else to do but close my mind
I sure hope the road don’t come to own me
There’s so many dreams I’ve yet to find
“.

Tapestry

Carole King’s iconic 1971 album, Tapestry. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Carole King: “So Far Away” (1971, written by Carole King).

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 313

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?

Shakespeare music

(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.

This month marked the 50th anniversary of Pearl, Janis Joplin’s final album released three months after her death in October 1970. This month also marked her 78th birth anniversary. Joplin, who was born January 19, 1943 in TX, was the second of three artists to die at the age of 27 of a heroin overdose in a one year period. Jimi Hendrix died first in September 1970, then Joplin & then Jim Morrison in July 1971 (No autopsy was ever performed on Morrison so that is the suspected cause of his death). For many who lived through the 1960’s, these three deaths marked the end of what that decade represented: peace, love, the surge of American music after the British Invasion years & the break-up of The Beatles.

For a woman to be in that arc when many of her female counterparts were pursuing folk sounds & singer/songwriter status, Joplin was in a class all by herself. She had just fully established herself as a solo performer after her lead singer role in Big Brother & The Holding Company rock band. While I was never a big fan of most of the music I heard from her-it was a little too raw and explosive for my taste-there is no denying her sound was all her own with its blues/jazz/rock interpretations.

As much as I worship one of the writers of today’s song-Kris Kristofferson-I must admit today’s version is my favorite. It hit the top spot in the country for two weeks in March 1971. And there are many reports that she is who Don McLean referenced in his hit “American Pie” in the lines: “I met a girl who sang the blues/And I asked her for some happy news/But she just smiled and turned away”. However, I could not find any confirmation of this in my online research. But it makes a great story, as do the lyrics of today’s song.

I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandana
I was playin’ soft while Bobby sang the blues
Windshield wipers slappin’ time
I was holdin’ Bobby’s hand in mine
We sang every song that driver knew
“.

Janis Pearl

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Janis Joplin: “Me & Bobby McGee” (1971, written by Fred Foster and Kris Kristofferson).

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 292

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?

Shakespeare music

(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 was 50 years ago today that George Harrison had the #1 album on the US chart with his first release after the breakup of The Fab Four. All Things Must Pass hit the top spot on January 2, 1971 and stayed in that position for seven consecutive weeks. It was poetic justice for him to achieve this honor as a solo artist after years of his songwriting contributions being limited on The Beatles’ records. I adore the entire album but I especially love his vocal on today’s song which is a Bob Dylan cover.

Aside from what this album did for Harrison, it was career changing for his friend & fellow guitar master, Eric Clapton, as well. It was during the recording sessions for this album that led to the formation of Derek & The Dominos. Say it with me: Layla. Without that band, that song does not exist. Harrison’s chart topping album was a gift that just kept giving.

If not for you
The winter would hold no spring
Couldn’t hear a robin sing
I just wouldn’t have a clue, if not for you
“.

All_Things_Must_Pass_BW

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

George Harrison: “If Not For You” (1970, written by Bob Dylan).

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 263

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?

kurt v

(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.

On this day in 1971 Sly & The Family Stone hit the #1 spot with today ‘s song where it would stay for three weeks. It spent five weeks at the top of the R&B chart as well. It was released Nov 9, 1971 and by December 4 it was the number one record in the country. Unfortunately, it was to be the group’s third & final top selling hit. But what a way to go out.

This tune was a departure for the group because this was more of a solo effort for Stone. He not only wrote, produced, arranged and sang today’s song but he also played bass guitar, electric guitar and programmed the drum box. Two of his musician friends joined him on the track-Billy Preston on electric piano & Bobby Womack on rhythm guitar-and Stone’s sister, Rose, sang the refrain. So despite its title, this song was not a “family affair” by group standards. But it was still a fabulous record and a testament to Stone’s immense talent.

One child grows up to be
Somebody that just loves to learn
And another child grows up to be
Somebody you’d just love to burn
“.

Sly and family

Rose Stone (L) and Sly Stone (Right, front) with The Family Stone circa 1971. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Sly & The Family Stone: “Family Affair” (1971, written by Sly Stone).

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 247

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?

kurt v

(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 most well known songwriting team to come out of the Motor City was undoubtedly Holland-Dozier-Holland. Just behind them, however, was the prolific duo of Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield. They wrote some of my favorite Marvin Gaye songs (“I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (Day 17), “That’s The Way Love Is” (Day 102), “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby”), a few of my favorite Temptations’ songs (“I Wish It would Rain”, “I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You) (Day 44)”, “I Can’t Get Next to You”), Edwin Starr’s “War” and many others.

Strong was one of the first singers signed to Motown (when it was originally known as Tamla Records) and was the voice behind its first hit, 1959’s “Money (That’s What I Want)”. He was originally credited as a writer as well (along with label founder Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford) but Gordy claimed that was an error and eventually removed Strong’s name. But he clearly displayed a talent for songwriting as his & Whitfield’s catalog clearly proves, including today’s song. It may not be as well known as Gaye’s hits and the group behind it may not be as famous as The Temptations (who recorded this tune first) but it is still one fabulous track. And it offers some of the best advice I think anyone has ever received from a song.

Smiling faces show no traces
Of the evil that lurks within (can you dig it?)
Smiling faces, smiling faces, sometimes
They don’t tell the truth”.

Strong vWhitfield

undisputed truth

Top: Barrett Strong (seated) and Norman Whitfield circa 1972. Bottom: The Undisputed Truth (L-R): Billie Rae Calvin, Joe “Pep” Harris ( lead singer) and Brenda Joyce Evans circa 1971. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

The Undisputed Truth: “Smiling Faces Sometimes” (1971, written by Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield).

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

Stay well.