25 Days Of Christmas Music 2022: Day 5

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the countdown.

day 5 2022

A vintage Christmas card image found on Pinterest. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Time to add some soul to the countdown. Today’s song is another well loved classic but this one dates back to the middle of the 19th century. It is based on the French poem “Minuit, chrétiens” (“Midnight, Christians”) by Placide Cappeau & was set to music by fellow Frenchman, composer Adolphe Adam.

In 1855 it was translated to English by American classical music critic, John Sullivan Dwight. Both versions of the song celebratate the religious aspect of the holiday. And today’s R&B master recorded my favorite male rendition of this track in 1983. It is just stunning.

Led by the light
of Faith serenely beaming

With glowing hearts by

His cradle we stand
“.

Al 1

Al 2

The front & back of Al Greeb’s 1983 albun, “White Christmas”. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Al Green: “O Holy Night” (1983, written by written by Adolphe Charles Adam and John Sullivan Dwight).

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, happy listening!!!

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.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 512

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.

I may hate the Bee Gees for all of eternity for their disco foray, but before those unfortunate years, they made some very good music together. And today’s track is the one that put them on the map here in America. It was released in May 1971 and by August 7th of that year, it had become the #1 song in the country. It stayed in that position for four consecutive weeks giving the group their first number one record in the United States. The harmony of the brothers’ voices, the slow gorgeous string & trumpet arrangements and the melancholy feel of a sad love song made this track unbelievably beautiful.

My mother was insanely in love with this tune. I do not believe there was a moment in my childhood that I did not hear this song at least ten times a day. It is the one song I most closely identify her with. Even when I hear the extraordinarily great cover by soul legend Al Green, my first thought is about my mother. I can still recall the look of pure joy on her face whenever she listened to this track. Those were some of best moments of my life. And for the same reasons this song breaks my heart every time I hear it as well. I guess that is the definition of bittersweet, as are the lyrics.

I can still feel the breeze that rustles through the trees
And misty memories of days gone by
We could never see tomorrow
No one said a word about the sorrow
“.

Bee Gees circa 1970

The Bee Gees circa 1970 (L-R): Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Bee Gees: “How Do You Mend A Broken Heart” (1971, written by Barry Gibb and Robin Gibb).

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

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 476

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.

If the only thing you know about Marc Cohn is that he wrote & sang today’s song, that is enough. What a gift this track is. Forget the fact that it a fabulous tune and that he sings the heck out of it. It is a wonderful musical history lesson on the “land of the Delta blues”.

There is a reference to the self-appointed “Father of The Blues”, W.C. Handy (he wrote “Saint Louis Blues” amongst other notables songs) who was one of the first musicians to use folk music as the basis for his blues compositions. There are also nods to one of the city’s most famous roads known for its music-Beale Street-along with its most famous resident, Elvis Presley.

Cohn also mentioned his stop at the city’s Hollywood Cafe (“Now Muriel plays piano every Friday at the Hollywood”), one of the city’s best loved musical genres (gospel), soul singer Al Green’s church & a famous Carl Perkins song recorded at Sun Records Studio (“Put on my blue suede shoes…..”). Cohn visited the city in the 1980’s and turned the experience into a Top 20 hit in 1991.

Cohn was born July 5, 1959 in Ohio, making today birthday #62. I saw him at Jones Beach several years ago when he was touring as Stevie Nicks’ special guest. It was probably twenty years after today’s song was released and he sounded as great as he did on the record. He is wonderful live performer & a very talented musician. Here’s to 100 more birthdays for Marc Cohn.

They’ve got catfish on the table
They’ve got gospel in the air
And Reverend Green be glad to see you
When you haven’t got a prayer
“.

Marc

Marc Cohn circa 1991. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marc Cohn: “Walking In Memphis” (1991, written by Marc Cohn).

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 463

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.

Today marks the 85th birthday for one of the greatest artists this country ever produced. Kris Kristofferson is a poet, a songwriter, an actor, a singer, an entertainer, a Rhodes Scholar & a veteran. He was born June 22,1936 in Texas and except for having to watch him die in the 1976 version of “A Star Is Born”, I have loved-actually, adored-everything he has ever done. And don’t even get me started on those unbelievably gorgeous eyes, the hair, the beard and every part of his swagger that made him one of the most beautiful men I ever laid eyes on. Sa-woooooon.

Today’s song is from his 1970 debut album, Kristofferson. It contained three of his biggest hits: “Me & Bobby McGee” (Day 313), “Help Me Make It Though The Night” (Day 49), and “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down”. Fellow superstars Al Green, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn & The King himself Elvis Presley covered this track over the last five decades and they are all unbelievably good, of course. But there is something about Kristofferson’s own versions of his songs that highlight his exceptionally talented soul.

Happy birthday, Kris Kristofferson. May you celebrate 100 more. And thank you for every word you have ever written.

Let’s just be glad
We had some time to spend together
There’s no need to watch the bridges
That were burning
“.

Kris

Kris Kristofferson’s 1970 debut album. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Kris Kristofferson: “For The Good Times” (1970, written by 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 435

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.

Congratulations to Carole King who is finally being inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame as a performer in the Class of 2021. She has only been waiting over two decades for this well deserved honor. To reiterate the rules of the HOF, an artist is eligible 25 years after their debut album is released. King’s first album, Writer, came out 51 years ago in May 1970 (Tapestry just celebrated its 50th anniversary as it was released February 1971). So King was eligible for The HOF in 1995. And what a prestigious class that was: The Allman Brothers, Neil Young, Al Green, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, et al.

King was inducted in 1990 as a songwriter with her ex-husband, Gerry Goffin. But even if she did not get in as a performer with her first record, Tapestry should have made her a slam dunk for the Class of 1996. Then she would have been inducted with The Shirelles who turned her & Goffin’s song, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” into a #1 hit in 1961. David Bowie and Gladys Knight & The Pips were also part of that year’s honored group.

Now King will be inducted alongside another fabulous female artist, Tina Turner, which is great. But their class includes two rappers and a 1980’s bubble gum pop girl band. UGH!!! BUBBLE GUM POP In the same institution as King, Turner, Elvis, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, etc. Ugh again. My heart.

So to celebrate King’s insanely long overdue honor and to commemorate the anniversary of her free concert in NYC’s Central Park on May 25, 1973, today’s song is from her 1971 masterpiece. Tapestry is probably the greatest record ever made by a female artist. All hail Carole King!!!

Sometimes I wonder
If I’m ever gonna make it
Home again it’s so far
And out of sight
“.

Carole King

Carole King, LA 1983. Photo by Jim Shea (Courtesy of caroleking.com). (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Carole King: “Home Again” (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 393

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 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 we celebrate the 75th birthday for The Reverend himself, Al Green. Born April 13, 1946 in Arkansas., he is another in a long line of singers who started out in a group with siblings-in his case, his brothers. But after a fight with his father Green was forced out of his family home as a teen. In high school he formed a vocal group and by 1969 he caught the attention of record producer Willie Mitchell. He signed Green to his label and by the early 1970’s Green was on the map as one of the finest R&B singers in the industry.

His wild living lifestyle of that decade gave way to a religious enlightenment, leading to his ministry in 1976 and his gospel recordings during most of the 1980’s. But he returned to secular music through a duet with Annie Lenox on “Put A Little Love In Your Heart” for the 1988 movie, “Scrooged”. Green went on to become one of the premier soul singers in history and a beloved legend of music. He is also one of my all time favorites, due in large part to today’s song. Happy birthday, Al Green.

Love is…
Walking together
Talking together
Singing together
Praying together
“.

Al Green

Al Green circa 1974. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

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

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 245

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.

In November 1971 Al Green released the song that catapulted him to fame. It hit the #1 spot for one week in February 1972, became one of his signature tunes & is arguably one of the greatest R&B songs ever recorded. He performed it frequently on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and blew the roof off of The Ed Sullivan Theatre each time. Tina Turner covered this track in 1983 and as good as it was, even her version could not compare to the original. Whether it is on a stage or at the pulpit of his Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis, The Reverend Green always delivers a stirring performance.

Why, somebody, why people break-up
Oh, turn around and make-up
I just can’t see
You’d never do that to me
“.

Al green circa 1972

Al Green circa 1972. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

A Green: “Let’s Stay Together” (1971, written by Al Green, Al Jackson, Jr, & Willie Mitchell).

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 186

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.

September 17th marked the 97th birth anniversary of country’s first and arguably greatest star, Hank Williams. Born in Alabama in 1923, Hiram “Hank” Williams began playing guitar around age 14. By 1938 he was already playing in a band, “Drifting Cowboys”. In 1946 he recorded for Sterling Records which led to a contract with MGM Records and his first hit, “Move It On Over”. When he moved to Nashville in 1949 he was on his way to achieving his legendary status with songs like “Hey Good Lookin'”, “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You”) and today’s track.

Williams, who was born with the disease spina bifida occulta, suffered intense back pain because of this condition. It led to an early reliance on alcohol to help cope with it but eventually he formed a dependency on it that began to interfere with his personal life as well as his musical career. His alcoholism became so bad he was fired from The Grand Ole Opry in August 1952. He died en route to a show on January 1, 1953 at age 29. But with the songs he wrote and recorded his legacy as a musical powerhouse was already sealed.

He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation Award in 2010 “for his craftsmanship as a songwriter who expressed universal feelings with poignant simplicity and played a pivotal role in transforming country music into a major musical and cultural force in American life”. Williams influenced everyone from Elvis Presley to Bob Dylan to The Rolling Stones to countless country artists. His songs have been covered by Al Green, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Norah Jones, Jeff Buckley and an array of other artists in many different genres. He remains one of the top legends in music nearly seven decades after his death. He was just that great.

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill
He sounds too blue to fly
The midnight train is whining low
I’m so lonesome I could cry
“.

H Williams 1

Hank Williams circa 1945. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Hank Williams: “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” (1949, written by Hank 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 71

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?

Peanuts 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.

Sam Cooke was not just a soul singer.  He was also an early activist in the civil rights movement and fought against segregation, especially at musical venues.  Perhaps his boldest statement in his quest for equality came in one of his most important songs written in early 1964.  He was inspired to write it after he, his wife and his band were refused rooms at a hotel in Louisiana and his subsequent arrest for disturbing the peace after Cooke demanded an answer from a manager as to why his reservations were not being honored.

His own version is powerful with a great production behind it, but still done mostly in Cooke’s hallmark polished sound.  It was just the natural state of his beautiful voice.  When Otis Redding recorded it in 1965, in his trademark achingly impassioned voice, it gave the song and its message even more meaning.  It was my favorite version until September 2, 1995.  On that day Al Green sang it at the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Concert.  He did not just sing it, he sang the hell out of it and gave 10,000% of himself while doing so.  The band behind him-Booker T & The MG’s along with guitarist G.E. Smith and friends-did not miss a beat while clearly enjoying the performance as much as the crowd did.  Despite Green’s appearance coming fairly early on in the show, he brought the house down.  But what else should we expect when The Reverend takes his rightful place at the pulpit?

Al Green

Al Green at the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Concert in 1995 (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Al Green:  “A Change Is Gonna Come” (As performed live at the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Concert in Cleveland, Ohio in 1995.  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.