25 Days Of Christmas Music 2019: Day 11

Welcome back to the countdown!!!

Enjoy this sweet vintage image of an angel holding a small Christmas tree.  Heavenly!!!

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Found on Pinterest (original source unknown).  

Yesterday, we celebrated the King of Soul,  Today, we hail the Queen.

While we may never be able to agree on the greatest male voice of all time, there is only one woman who qualifies as the top female choice.  She sang everything from gospel to R&B, soul to pop, mainstream and rock to opera.  She appeared on TV and not just in music awards specials.  Who can forget Murphy Brown’s reaction when she finally met her idol?  She also sang in movies (“The Blues Brothers” and its sequel) and won every honor and award in existence during her 50 plus years as a singer.

She became a cultural icon along the way as well.  Not too many singers have had the opportunity to perform at a presidential inauguration, but this woman did.  She sang “My Country Tis Of Thee” for Barack Obama in January 2009.  Towards the end of her performance, as she sang the words “let freedom ring”, the camera cut away from her and went to an American flag waving in the wind.  It was a beautiful moment for our country, and just one of dozens this woman gave us.  How we have survived the last 16 months without her is a complete mystery to me, and a heart breaking one at that.

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                                                                      Aretha Franklin, Jones Beach, NY July 2011.

Aretha Franklin: “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” (based on a 1739 Christmas carol with various writers including Charles Wesley and George Whitefield).)

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, happy listening!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2018: Day 11

Hi, Everybody!!!  Welcome back to the countdown.

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Vintage Shiny Brite ornaments found on Pinterest (original source unknown). 

We lost today’s singer over the summer, and a part of me died that day, too.  I still have not stopped crying.  My world lost a great deal of its light.  Life will never sound the same without her in it.

She was without a doubt the greatest female singer this world has ever known.  In 1958 when she was 16, she met singer Sam Cooke, who died 54 years ago today at the age of 33.  He wanted her to sign with his label, RCA Records.  However, her father-a minister who was her first manager-eventually had her sign with Columbia Records.  She and Cooke remained friends and fans of each other’s work, and she recorded several of his songs after his death, most notably “A Change Is Gonna Come” (1967) and “You Send Me” (1968),  She referred to him as “a prince of a man”.

From the second I heard she died, all I could think of was how even more beautiful Heaven sounded now that she and Cooke could sing together.  I cannot even imagine what a breathtaking sound that was.  The true definition of Heaven itself.

Yes, I believe in Heaven.  And I believe one day I will be there myself.  And after I have thanked God in person for everything he gave me, and hugged and kissed all my family and friends that passed before me, I want to be front and center to hear this woman sing with Cooke, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, John Lennon, Jackie Wilson, Luciano Pavorotti and anyone else she chooses.  Maybe Jim Morrison???  And then I will bow to her, which is the appropriate action to take when meeting a Queen.

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Aretha Franklin:  “Angels We Have Heard On High” (2008).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, happy listening!!!

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Hello again.  Hope you all had a great summer.  Fall is almost here.  Yay!!!

Sorry for the unplanned/unannounced hiatus.  It has been a rough summer (year actually) for me personally & professionally, and it has all taken a toll on my creativity.  When I am in that place, I do a lot of reflecting.  The older I get, that seems more normal than looking ahead.  I am trying desperately to change that, but it is so very difficult.

I am looking forward to reawakening myself with the upcoming change of season we are about to begin.  Like the quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald goes, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall”.  I feel reborn when the weather cools and the leaves change.  This year I need a fresh start more than ever.

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The summer was hot and humid which was to be expected.  It was also full of loss which was not.  Kate Spade & Anthony Bourdain losing their battle with depression was not only heartbreaking, but terrifying to anyone who suffers from that same disease (read:  me, although I prefer not to discuss this battle publicly).  I always hoped with more love and more success in my life I would feel more stable in fighting this demon.  But their stories only prove how much I have been kidding myself about this illness.  A few years ago I lost a dear family friend to the same battle.  We grew up together and I never knew what he was going through.  It scared me so much I had to stop looking at my fear because I was afraid if I didn’t, I was going to get lost in it and never come back.  Spade & Bourdain’s deaths so close together has made it impossible to look away.  And that is incredibly scary, too.  That is my present.

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Kate Spade & Anthony Bourdain (original sources unknown).

The reflecting started with the death of one of my childhood heroes, legendary disc jockey Dan Ingram.  One of the best things about growing up in New York was listening to music radio WABC-77.  All of the DJ’s were phenomenal (especially Harry Harrison & Ron Lundy), but Ingram’s time slot of 2PM-6PM was the one I could listen to almost all the way through, and I fell head over heels in love with his voice.  It was deep yet elegant, sharp yet comforting and funny and irreverent as hell.  He was the reason I fell in love with both voices and vocabulary.  One of his daily events featured a word of the day.  I always thought he was making them up until I was in sixth grade and one of my spelling words-eloquent-was one I heard on his show.  Then I learned the words were real but his definitions were the punch line.  It made me love Ingram even more and helped expand my vocabulary exponentially.

His show also featured an honor group of the day which ranged from those in certain professions, or hobbyists and club members to every other group in between, making anyone feel welcome in his world.  He referred to his audience as “the Ingramess” but kept it personal with his signature sign off  of “Bye now, Kemosabe” while big band music played him off.  Years later he moved to WCBS-FM where he did weekend shows and he was better than ever.  When he died on June 24 at the age of 83 it was like losing one of my dearest, oldest friends.   And for those of you not lucky enough to know who this man was, here’s a clip of his genius.

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Dan Ingram at WCBS-FM circa 1990’s (courtesy of the NY Times).

The friends we make in childhood we remember forever.  And I had some of the best.  Winnie the Pooh courtesy of A.A. Milne & Walt Disney, Mr. Rogers, the Peanuts courtesy of Charles M. Schulz and the disc jockeys at 77-WABC.  All of them held a special place in my heart, but Ingram had me holding on to every word.  His comments were as important to me as the lyrics of the songs he played every weekday afternoon.  He was one of the best teachers I ever had.  My childhood was briefer than most but he was a huge part of it.  And in those memories of when my life was whole, happy and full of color, he was one of the most vibrant ones.  I had the chance to interview him by phone many years ago when I was writing an article about CBS-FM’s yearly Thanksgiving countdown and it was one of the high points of my life.  Getting the chance to thank him for being such a hero of mine was one of the greatest gifts I was ever given.  His loss has me heartbroken in so many ways.  It is like losing the last piece of my childhood.

Then less than two months later, we lost the Queen:  Aretha Franklin.  For those of you who follow my blog, you know how much I love music, so this loss is ENORMOUS.  There will never EVER be a singer like Aretha.  Her voice, her soul, her passion, her songs……sublime.  The world is truly a darker place without her in it.  Yes, we will always have the music.  But her mere presence made our world a better place.  I am just devastated.

This is not as popular as some of her other songs, but it is one of my favorites:  “Angel“.

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                                                     Aretha Franklin at her concert at Jones Beach, NY July, 2011. 

Now we have lost Burt Reynolds.   If you saw my Instagram post about him yesterday, you know the first film I saw of his was “The Longest Yard”.  His infectious laugh hit me harder than his looks.  Who did not love him in the “Smokey & the Bandit” films?  Or with Goldie Hawn in “Best Friends”?  And how great was he on one of my favorite (and sorely underrated) shows, “Evening Shade”?  And how about him with my favorite ladies on “The Golden Girls”?  He was definitely a big part of my childhood, and now he is gone too.  Sigh.

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Burt Reynolds on “The Golden Girls” in 1986.  

I know full well that loss is a part of life, but this year has just brought so many that have forced me to revisit parts of my life I try to steer clear of.  Yes, avoidance works well for me.  Sometimes.

I tried writing about these losses as they occurred, but again, avoidance & the lack of creativity stopped that from happening.  But now that the summer is over but the losses continue, I am hoping that by finally writing about them will change my luck and the trajectory of the universe for a while.  One can hope, right?

The song I have been listening to almost non stop these last few months is one I have ADORED forever.  It is a sad song about the loss of a love but it is so achingly beautiful I find myself identifying with it while reflecting on the losses of my youth.  When I remember that this horribly underrated singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist wrote this song nearly 50 years ago before he turned 25 I am blown away.  If this was all he ever gave us, what a contribution it was on its own.  But he also blessed us with “For What It’s Worth”, “Suite:  Judy Blue Eyes”, “Love the One You’re With”, “Southern Cross” and many other songs which are enigmatic, timeless and beautiful.

“Stand by the stairway

You’ll see something certain to tell you

Confusion has its cost”

Stephen Stills (via Crosby, Stills & Nash):  “Helplessly Hoping“.

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some of the people & things I love with you.

Until next time, happy digging.

Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasies & A Song

It still isn’t feeling much like spring yet, despite the fact that last week’s storm gave us only about two inches of snow.  And estate sales have been few and far between thanks to the weather and the upcoming Easter holiday.  I needed a break from the ballast of everyday living, so I did the only thing I could do-I went for a ride to listen to some music.  It’s like a mini-vacation for my soul.

My mind goes to so many different places as I drive, and one of the things I kept thinking about was how many artists I have been lucky enough to see in my life, but especially in the last several years because I could capture a moment of the show with my cell phone.

The quality is not the best on some of these shots, but here are several of the people I have been fortunate to see live.

Chris Isaak:

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Marc Cohn:

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Stevie Nicks (in her different looks):

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Todd Rundgren:

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The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin (who celebrated her 76th birthday yesterday):

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Yusuf Islam (f/k/a Cat Stevens):

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Sir Ringo Starr:

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And The Boss, of course:

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I do not have any shows to go to yet for 2018, but with the arrival of spring and the upcoming summer, I am sure it is just a matter of time before a few I want to attend are announced.  Then I will be able to add to this picture collection.

What concerts are you hoping to attend this year?

For this week’s song, I reached back to a band that released their ground-breaking self-titled debut record, “Boston”, in 1976.  Two years later, the group released “Don’t Look Back” and it is the title song that I played over and over during last week’s car ride.   Between Tom Scholz empowering lyrics and Brad Delp’s soaring vocals, it’s hard to feel anything but unshackled and free of the past with words like these:

A new day is breakin’
It’s been too long since I felt this way
I don’t mind where I get taken
The road is callin’
Today is the day”

“It’s a bright horizon and I’m awakin’ now
Oh I see myself in a brand new way
The sun is shinin’
The clouds are breakin’
‘Cause I can’t lose now, there’s no game to play

I do not own the rights to the song.  I am just sharing something that I love with you  🙂

Until next time, happy digging!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Music: Day 24

Hello, Vixens!!!  Merry Christmas Eve!!!  Welcome back to the countdown.

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 (Original source unknown)

Today’s song dates back to 1847 and combined the words of French poet Placide Cappeau and the music of Adolphe Adam.  The more familiar singing edition came to life in 1855 courtesy of Unitarian Minister John Sullivan Dwight.

In whatever language this song is sung, the message is clear:  to rejoice over the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ.  No matter how many signs we see at stores that read “Jesus is the reason for the season”, it may be easy to forget that Christmas is a religious holiday for those who believe in him.  We all know how commercial this holiday has always been (even Charlie Brown commented on that in 1965) and how it is arriving earlier and earlier in stores and the media each year.  But the little Catholic school girl I used to be 100 years ago cannot choose any other song for Christmas Eve than the one which celebrates the greatest gift God gave us.

These are my top three favorite versions of this song:

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                                                                                             (Original sources unknown)                                        

Aretha Franklin:  “O Holy Night

Al Green:   “O Holy Night

Mahalia Jackson:  “O Holy Night

And for the sarcastic adult that I have become, I cannot resist including this irreverent version every year because it makes me laugh until I cry.

Eric Cartman:  “O Holy Night

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 (Original source unknown)

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you   🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, fellow Vixens, happy listening!!!

Christmas Song Countdown #13

Hello, Vixens!!!  Welcome back to the countdown!!!

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Courtesy of Widadesign.com 

 

Today’s singer has been performing for decades, and is probably the greatest and most famous back up singer that ever was.  She has worked with the likes of Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Bruce Springsteen, Steven Van Zandt and Aretha Franklin, whom she channels in today’s song.

A phenomenal singer in her own right, she will probably always be best remembered for her work with Phil Spector’s groundbreaking “Wall of Sound” recordings in the 1960’s; namely ”He’s a Rebel,” ”(Today I Met) the Boy I’m Gonna Marry,” and today’s featured song which she performed regularly on David Letterman’s show during the Christmas season.

She was one of the main singers spotlighted in the 2014 Best Documentary Oscar winning film, “20 Feet From Stardom”.  She also played Danny Glover’s wife in all four “Lethal Weapon” movies and Judy Burrell on my soap “Another World” in 1993.

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Danny Glover & Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon” (Courtesy of IMDb)

 

If all that were not impressive enough, the New York Times paid her one of the greatest compliments ever when they said her voice is ”as embedded in the history of rock and roll as Eric Clapton’s guitar and Bob Dylan’s lyrics”.  Wow.  Who would not want to be remembered like that?

Darlene Love:  Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).

P.S.  An honorable mention to U2 for their version of today’s song.  Who does not want to imagine themselves as the reason for Bono’s pleading?  Or more to the point, who does not want to listen to Bono and the rest of U2, period???

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U2 by Mattia Zoppellaro for MOJO magazine

 

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you   🙂

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, fellow Vixens, happy listening!!!

Christmas Song Of The Day #7

Hi, Vixens!!!  How are all of you today?  Ready for another great holiday song???  Then let’s get to it.

Soul music-whether in the form of Motown, R&B, Philly Soul, Gospel or some other variation-has been a favorite of mine forever.  I love music that is consumed with so much emotion.  It reminds me I am alive and hits my soul like a bolt of electricity, which is perhaps where the term “soul music” came from-music that touches the soul.

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Original Source Unknown

So many moments hit me like that:  the first time I heard Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay“, and Ray Charles’ “America The Beautiful“, and Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard it Through The Grapevine” not to mention his absolutely sublime version of “The Star Spangled Banner“, anything at all by Aretha Franklin and “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green, to name a few.

And while we are on the subject of Al  Green, his version of “O Holy Night” sent shivers down my spine from the second I heard it.  Done in his signature style, it oozes personality, charm, soul, R&B and every emotion it makes you feel.  It is simply majestic!!!

I do not own the rights to anything, I am just sharing some of my favorite music with you.

Enjoy!!!

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Source:  steppersusa.com