Music Monday: December 26, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Well, we are at the end of another year. This time next week we will be in 2023. I want to thank you all for being here for the last 365 days. It means so much to me. I appreciate all of you. And I look forward to you joining me in the new year which I hope is a good one for all of us.

While celebrating all things Christmas for the last 25 days, I missed an important music birthday: Keith Richards turned 79 years young. The long time Rolling Stone guitarist & one half of the group’s prolific songwriting team was born December 16, 1943 in Dartford, Kent, England.

For 60 years The Stones have done it all, from being part of the British Invasion to defining classic rock to playing with their own musical heroes to reaching legendary status. And Richards has been one of the most recognizable faces behind the band with a sound that helped put The Stones in their rightful place in music & cultural history. I chose today’s song because I hope it is something will all get to be in 2023.

Happy birthday, Keith & Happy New Year to all of you.

“Always took candy from strangers
Didn’t wanna get me no trade
Never want to be like papa
Working for the boss every night and day
“.

Stones 2010

The Rolling Stones circa 2000 (L to R):  Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Ron Wood.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Rolling Stones: “Happy” (1972, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: November 21, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

If you have ever wondered when exactly Al Green became the R&B legend he is, it was 1972. The Forrest City, Arkansas native released not one but two of his best albums that year: Let’s Stay Together debuted in January and I’m Still in Love with You came out in October.

Both records gave us some great original music but also introduced us to the songs Green admired with his unique and incredible covers. The first album featured an unbelievably soulful rendition of “How Do You Mend A Broken Heart” initially recorded by The Bee Gees while the October release had a Kris Kristofferson track (“For The Good Times”) and a Roy Orbison classic (“Oh, Pretty Woman”).

If you hear a touch of a Stax beat happening on these albums, that is because Green’s drummer was Al Jackson Jr., a founding member of that label’s house band, Booker T. & the M.G.’s. Green took the music around him, his gospel roots, his influences like Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke and turned it all into a gorgeous hybrid of soul, R&B, pop and southern sass.

Today’s song is a favorite of mine thanks to a standout vocal by Green, the electric harmony of his backup singers, the incredibly sharp & powerful horns and a seductive rhythm that is impossible not to move along with. It is just one of the many blessings from the man we now call The Reverend.

Love is walkin’ together
Talkin’ together
Singin’ together
Prayin’ together
“.

Al Together

Al Still

(Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Al Green: “Love and Happiness” (1972, written by Al Green and Mabon Hodges).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: October 24, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Fifty years ago the landscape of cinematic history changed with the premiere of one of the greatest films ever made. “The Godfather”, Francis Ford Coppola’s Academy Award winning masterpiece about Don Vito Corleone, a man at the head of an organized crime operation in New York City, was released in 1972. From its debut, it was hailed as a work of art, a masterful tale of family, respect, business, honor and the Italian culture both in America & in Europe. It also produced two sequels.

As an Italian American woman, there was no way I could let a monumental anniversary like this go without paying homage to its place in history. My dad was a huge fan of the movie and the 1969 book by Mario Puzo (who also wrote the screenplay with Coppola). I remember trying to watch it with my father when I was barely a teenager but gave up after the heartbreaking death of heir apparent first born son Santino (“Sonny”, played by James Caan).

Once I watched it as an adult I, of course, saw it for the phenomenal event that it was. I was especially struck by how fair, balanced and gentle Don Corleone was (played to perfection by Marlon Brando, who won the Best Actor Oscar for the role, which he famously declined), a man of many traits who valued family and could clearly see justice in even the most offensive situations. Case in point: Don Corleone was asked by an undertaker to kill the two the men who brutally beat his daughter. The Godfather told the anguished man that was not justice as his daughter was still alive. But that did not mean the men who hurt her did not deserve to suffer as well. And when Sonny was killed, his heartbroken father called for a truce rather than an act of revenge in order to save the lives of his other two sons.

Yet none of his boys inherited their father’s sense of balance. Each one fell victim to the predominant trait they inherited from Don Corleone. For Sonny, it was his temper. For Fredo, it was his pride. For Michael, it was his need for revenge. It cost two of them their lives and for Michael, it cost him his first wife & his daughter, as seen in the third installment of the trilogy (Don Vito also adopted a fourth son, Tom Hagen, when he was a child. He grew up to be the family lawyer and conciliary, played by Robert Duvall).

If everyone yearns to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, you can believe nearly everyone wanted to be Italian after seeing this film, despite the gangter underscore to the story. And it has been part of our pop culture vernacular for five decades. It has been referenced in so many other movies and TV shows I have lost count (but probably most famously in “The Sopranos” for obvious reasons). I think my favorite ones are in “You’ve Got Mail” (both Tom Hank’s & Greg Kinnear’s characters acknowledge quotes from the film) and in “Modern Family” in S4 E13, “Fulgencio”. Surprisingly in that story arc it was nice guy Phil Dunphy who took his turn as The Godfather to save his family’s honor with the help of his son, Luke. It was an exceptionally funny episode from a series full of them & definately worth the watch if you have not seen it.

But for me, like with everything else, the film was about the music-in particularly-the theme song. I remember being in another room of my house when I heard the hauntingly beautiful instrumental score coming from the living room. My dad was watching the movie again but this time it looked remarkably different than what I remembered. Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) was walking along the hills of Sicily as the gorgeous theme played. I loved it so much (and the music from Connie’s wedding scene too, especially The Tarantella) that my dad bought me the album. But surprisingly enough, the theme song was not on The Godfather’s Family Wedding Album.

My grandmother remembered hearing a version of it by Italian vocalist Jerry Vale, so we searched the stores for it and found it on his 1974 greatest hits compilation. Crooner Andy Williams had a hit with his interpretation of the song in 1972 but not many singers have covered it in the past five decades, so Vale’s is still the rendition I come back to time and time again (although Andrea Bocelli’s 2015 Sicilian version, Brucia la terra, is quite beautiful). And as gorgeous as the instrumental score by Nino Rota was, the addition of the lyrics by Larry Kusik turned the song into an event fitting for a film considered the second best ever made after “Citizen Kane”.

Viva IL Padrino.

“Wine-colored days
Warmed by the sun
Deep velvet nights
When we are one”.

The Godfather movie poster

The men of The Godfather

Godfather Wedding Album

Jerry Vale

From top to bottom: The 1972 movie poster for “The Godfather”; The Corleone men (L-R): Michael (Al Pacino), Don Vito (Marlon Brando), Santino (James Caan) and Fredo (John Cazale): The Godfather’s Wedding Album (1972) and “The Greatest Of Jerry Vale” (1974). (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Jerry Vale: “Speak Softly Love” (The Love Theme To “The Godfather“), music by Nino Rota, lyrics by Larry Kusik).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: Sept 12, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Before we get to our song, let me pay tribute to four women who are quite dear to me. On September 14, 1985 my Girls, the world’s Girls, “The Golden Girls” debuted on NBC. And they have not left the airwaves in the last 37 years, living on in syndication & fans’ hearts all around the world. I love them for more reasons than I can ever count, but especially for how current they were on music. They made references to Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash and Prince, to name a few. Just one more reason why they were four of the coolest bad-ass chicks on the planet. Long live The Golden Girls! And a ginormous thank you to show creator Susan Harris & all the people behind the cameras who brought the show to life.

golden 1

The Golden Girls on their couch (L-R): Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Betty White and Estelle Getty. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

For as happy as the above anniversary makes me, it also reminds me that when I was watching that show the first time around, most of my life was still ahead of me. That is not the case now. And it forces me to take pause and reflect. Not only on what I have to be grateful for but also for those I have lost. And that makes me feel very sad.

Add to that the 21st anniversary of 9/11 yesterday, the fact that Great Britain is now in a mourning period for a Queen they celebrated for 50 years but more importantly, a family lost a mother, a grandmother and a great grandmother, plus the world continues to fight a pandemic after two & a half very long years. The passage of time just keeps reminding me not all changes are happy ones. Many transitions were and continue to be difficult.

Sometimes I just need to face that. So for today, I am going to let myself feel down. And hope tomorrow this weight will feel a little lighter. As always music is the way I cope, whatever mood I am in. Today, that mood is blue. Whatever color day you are having (Blanche Devereaux referred to some of her off days as “magenta”), I hope you enjoy today’s song. I do not know when or where I first heard it but I love it. Especially on days when the colors win.

You know my heart keeps tellin’ me
You’re not a kid at thirty-three
You play around you lose your wife
You play too long you lose your life
“.

Good_Time_Charlie's_Got_the_Blues_-_Danny_O'Keefe

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Danny O’Keefe: “Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues” (1972, written by Danny O’Keefe).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: March 21, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

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: February 14, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

One of Neil Young’s most important albums celebrated its golden anniversary earlier this month. Harvest was released 50 years ago on Feb 1, 1972. It introduced the world to legendary songs like the title track, “Old Man”, “The Needle And The Damage Done” and today’s impossibly beautiful & heartbreaking pick. I have loved this magnificent tune forever. It holds a permanent place in my top ten list of favorite songs of all time.

It was my first introduction to acoustic music & placed the bar so high it remains a perfect performance in my heart, mind & soul. And with today being Valentine’s Day, it underscores the need we all have to find that perfect love. So whatever the great joy of your life is-whether it be a person, place or thing-celebrate it with everything you have whenever you can. Life goes by too fast not to. Love is love.

“I want to live
I want to give
I’ve been a miner
For a heart of gold”.

V day

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Neil Young: “Heart Of Gold” (1972, written by Neil Young).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: November 15, 2021

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

November 12 marked birthday #76 for one of the greatest artists Canada ever gave us-Neil Young. It goes without saying that he has written a number of outstanding songs throughout his over five decade career. But for me, it is today’s song that remains his finest piece of music.

I fell in love with it the first time I heard it as a young child & it remains one of my Top Ten favorite songs of all time. This was my first introduction to an acoustic sound and it is beyond spectacular. I will adore Young forever for the plethora of music he has given us, but especially for this heartbreakingly beautiful song most of all.

I’ve been in my mind
It’s such a fine line
That keeps me searching
For a heart of gold and I’m getting old
“.

Neil

Neil Young circa 1970. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Neil Young: “Heart Of Gold” (1972, written by Neil Young).

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 550

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?

blog Sept 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.

Well, ladies & gentlemen, we have come to the end of the long & winding road of songs. I think it is time to end this marathon of music. Schools have reopened, concerts & sporting events have resumed and several Broadway shows reopened earlier this week with more to follow. While masks are here to stay for the foreseeable future as we battle the Delta Variant, we are a lot closer to normal then where we were at the beginning of this year and certainly 12 months ago.

When I started this in Match 2020, I had no idea it would last this long. But then again I never lived through a pandemic before. When we first went into quarantine, I remember hearing a person on a news program say it was going to bring out the best in some of us and the worst in others. No doubt we have all seen both of those extremes but hopefully more good than bad. Thank you all for coming along with me for 550 songs, critiques, memories, reviews, stories, facts and fun (I hope). I will still feature a song on my blog every week on Music Mondays so be sure to join me for that. And now, time for our final song.

The Doobie Brothers hold a special place in my heart, not only for their music but because theirs was the first concert I ever attended. They performed today’s song that night. It was their first big hit, reaching #11 in November 1972. It is from their second album, Toulouse Street, released four months earlier. This song has been one of the mottos of my life since the first time I heard it. And it is the best piece of advice I would ever offer anyone. Stay safe & well, friends. And always listen to the music.

If I’m feelin’ good to you
And you’re feelin’ good to me
There ain’t nothin’ we can’t do or say
Feelin’ good, feeling fine
Oh baby let the music play
“.

Doobies

The Doobie Brothers 1972 album, Toulouse Street. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Doobie Brothers: “Listen To The Music” (1972, written by Tom Johnston).

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 533

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.

We close out this month with another musical birthday. Today Van “The Man” Morrison turns 76 years young. Born August 31, 1945 in Northern Ireland, he gained his love of music from his parents. His mother was a singer and his father’s record collection educated his son in all genres of music. But it was the blues that resonated most with him. His father bought Morrison a guitar when he was 11 leading him to form his first band a year later. By the age of 17 he was touring Europe with another band but his breakthrough came in 1964 when he joined the group Them.

They charted three times including their most well known song, “Gloria”. That brought Morrison to America for the first time in 1966 on a tour that included several shows at Los Angeles’ acclaimed Whiskey A-Go-Go where he met & performed with The Doors. By 1967 Them disbanded leading to Morrison’s relocation to the US and the start of his solo career. After his song, “Brown Eyed Girl” became a Top Ten hit in the country, Van The Man was on his way.

I am such a fan of his beautiful songs & his unique interpretations of the lyrics. His evocative tone tells a story all its own separate and apart from his sublime poetry. As much as I adore his ballads, Morrison’s take-no-prisoners approach to his faster tempo songs envelopes me into each and every note. Today’s track is no exception. Happy birthday, Sir George Ivan Morrison. May you see 100 more.

And when you walk
Across the room
It makes my heart go
Boom boom boom
“.

Van

Van Morrison’s sixth studio album released in 1972. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Van Morrison: “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)” (1972, written by Van Morrison).

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 482

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.

In 1969 a series of concerts took place in New York City. Dubbed “The Harlem Cultural Festival” and held at what is now Marcus Garvey Park, it featured so many of my favorite performers from the Motown soul & gospel genres. These concerts were held over a six week period & most of the shows were recorded. But at the time there was no interest in buying them for a film Those involved did not know if that was because another music festival-Woodstock-was taking place that August or because black music was still considered secondary in the summer of 1969.

Whatever the reason, the tapes of the Harlem shows were left in a basement for 50 years until 2019. At that time they came to the attention of a producer who purchased them & turned them into a film that was released this year. Unbelievable, right? Another shocking aspect to this story? I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT THE CONCERTS OR THE MOVIE UNTIL LAST WEEK!!!

I uncovered the film about seven days ago when I went to Hulu for my weekly “Lost” re-watch. Instead I saw the ad for the movie, aptly titled “Summer Of Soul”. It premiered at The Sundance Film Festival in January and in theatres & on Hulu in June. My jaw dropped as I read the info about the film. It spotlights the performances of the incredible artists who were there interwoven with present day interviews with them and others involved in the festival itself.

How could something so incredible like a concert series of this magnitude get shelved for five decades? I am a native New Yorker, not to mention a profound fan of music, yet I lived all these years without even knowing this festival took place??? I cannot help but hang my head in extreme shame.

The film marks the directorial debut of Questlove, the co-frontman & drummer of Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” band, The Roots. In addition to being a musician and songwriter, Questlove has also made a name for himself as a producer, music journalist, author, disc jockey and now film director.

Discovering that an event like this took place but was never a matter of record matches my shock & amazement from the first time I saw “Hidden Figures”. To discover how important women-black women, especially-were assisting the U.S. Space Program & that was left out of the history books we read as kids is astounding. How many young girls might have had different dreams if they knew intelligent groundbreaking women were busting through glass ceilings half a century before? And how many aspiring musicians would have been inspired by this concert series?

But there is so much more to enjoy about this movie than the music. It is a time capsule to revisit the past. A look back at what are now vintage images of the culture at that time, the fashion, the style, the city store fronts and the people is simply hypnotic. The same goes for the clips of archived vintage footage from national news programs regarding the current events of the day like the Vietnam War & the Apollo landing which occurred the same summer. Those were interspersed with local stories about the heroin epidemic, the poverty level & the downward spiral of Harlem in general.

We also get a look at the city’s mayor at the time-John V. Lindsay-as well as a 27 year old minister, Reverend Jesse Jackson, who lead the crowd in a spiritual moment while he gave them his first hand account of watching Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King get shot. Undeniably powerful stuff.

My favorite moments include a newly solo David Ruffin singing “My Girl” sans The Temptations & hitting those high notes in such a remarkable effortless way; Stevie Wonder exhibiting his numerous talents from behind a microphone, a keyboard and a drum set; Sly Stone, the original poster boy for diversity not only as a black performer with white band members but with female ones as well. And they were not just back-up singers, either. They both sang & played instruments like the keyboards & the trumpet. The Family Stone performed three songs “Sing A Simple Song”, “Everyday People” & “Higher” which played as the credits began to roll.

Then there was Nina Simone captivating the audience with her powerful voice as she slammed the piano keys throughout her fierce performance. Gladys Knight & The Pips were on fire as were the gospel numbers, especially The Edwin Hawkins Singers rousing performance of “Oh Happy Day”. One of the women interviewed in the present who attended the show as a teenager summed it up best when she said: “Those artists crossed genres. They were trying to reunite people with music”. I have never been without music but I am just thrilled to be united with this movie. It is that good.

Another group that performed on what was called the festival’s “gospel day” was The Staple Singers. They were a family group comprised of Roebuck “Pops” Staples & his children: son Pervis & daughters Cleotha, Yvonne & Mavis, who turned 82 years young yesterday In addition to singing with her family, Mavis also sang a gospel song with Mahalia Jackson on “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” after Jackson’s stirring speech about and in honor of Rev. King’s favorite church song. It was nothing short of sublime.

In the present interview as the clip of the two women played, Mavis revealed that she still considers that moment her biggest honor and the experience “the time of my life”. She was born July 10, 1939 in Illinois. She & her family moved from gospel to secular music in the mid 1960’s. In 1968 they were signed to Stax Records. By June 1972, they had the #1 song in the country for one week with today’s track. It may be her birthday but it is her audience that receives a gift every time she sings.

Happy birthday, Mavis & here’s to 100 more. And a ginormous thank you to everyone who put this festival together, all the artists who performed there & the people who gave us the movie showcasing it all. It is an astounding treasure.

I know a place
Ain’t nobody cryin’
Ain’t nobody worried
Ain’t no smilin’ faces
“.

Soul picture

Mavis and Mahalia

Top: The movie poster for 2021’s “Summer Of Soul”. Bottom: Mavis Staples (L) and Mahalia Jackson (R) in a still from the film. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

The Staples Singers: “I’ll Take You There” (1972, written by Al Bell).

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

Stay well.