25 Days Of Christmas Music 2022: Day 7

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the countdown.

Day 7 2022

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

There is no denying that George Clooney is a huge movie star & celebrity. But he was not the first member of his family to achieve stardom. His aunt, the transcendent and beautiful Rosemary Clooney, defined musical excellence as a vocalist first as part of a duo with her sister, Betty, in 1945 and then as a professional singer recording music in 1947.

Her own TV show and movies followed (including 1954’s “White Christmas” also starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen) and numerous hits and albums leading to her place as the premier “girl singer” for six decades. Her influence & reverence shine through fans like Tony Bennett, Bette Midler, Barry Manilow, Linda Ronstadt, Diana Krall and many others. But Clooney described her role rather succinctly in her second biography, Girl Singer: “I’d call myself a sweet singer with a big band sensibility”. The rest of us described her with one word: great.

“Rosie” as she was affectionatelt dubbed, married three times, twice to actor José Ferrer with whom she had five children: actor Miguel Ferrer (1955-2017), Maria, Gabriel, Monsita, and Rafael. Today’s song is from Clooney’s 1996 Christmas album, named for her most famous & well known movie. But anything this woman sings is perfection, making her holiday music one of the best parts of this season.

Frosted window panes
Candles gleaming inside
Painted candy canes on the tree
Santa’s on his way
“. 

Rosemary Clooney circa 1954. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)


Rosemary Clooney: “Christmas Waltz” (1996, written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne).

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, happy listening!!!

Music Monday: October 31, 2022

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

Happy Halloween to all!!!

(Pinterest image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I always salute this spooktacular holiday with one song, but this year I think it deserves two. That is because 2022 saw the release of “Hocus Pocus 2” and even though I have not seen it yet, I think any movie that stars Bette Midler deserves to be celebrated. She recorded the first of today’s two songs for the original film which premiered in 1993. The track has also been covered in great fashion by Annie Lennox, Nina Simone, Bryan Ferry and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Bette Midler as Winifred Sanderson in Disney’s “Hocus Pocus”. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Our second spotlight tune is the quintessential song of the holiday and has been ever since it was released 60 years ago in 1962. Even if you do not embrace the scary side of this holiday (or wish to skip it all together) this is an amusing tale about characters that are usually seen in a very frightening way enjoying themselves with a dance that is all their own. A fabulously fun novelty song if ever there was one.

Hope you all enjoy this last day of October, however you choose to spend it.

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Bette Midler: “I Put A Spell On You” (1993, written by Jalacy J. “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins).

Bobby “Boris” Pickett: “Monster Mash” (1962, written by Leonard Capizzi and Bobby Pickett).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: May 23, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Two of the biggest songwriters this country ever gave us were born in May. Their songs were staples on the radio in the 1960’s & 1970’s and continue to inspire “anyone who has a heart”.

Lyricist Hal David was born on May 25, 1921 in New York City. Almost eight years later, his collaborator, Burt Bacharach was born May 12, 1929 in Kansas City, Missouri. David started writing songs in the 1940’s for bandleaders like Guy Lombardo and Sammy Kaye while also contributing lyrics to the 1951 movie soundtrack of “Two Gals And A Guy”.

Bacharach was raised in Queens, NY and studied classical piano before discovering his love for jazz music. He received a degree in music in 1948, then served two years in the United States Army in the early 1950’s. After his tour of duty he worked as a pianist for Vic Damone before touring Europe in 1956 as the part time music director for actress Marlene Dietrich’s nightclub shows. In 1957 Bacharach met David at The Brill Building in NYC. That same year the duo had their first hit together, a #1 country song, “The Story Of My Life” by Marty Robbins.

After a number of successful collaborations over the next several years, Bacharach & David made their partnership official in 1963. That move & their work with today’s singer started the songwriting duo’s reign as two of America’s most treasured composers. They won every award out there including the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1970 for “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” from Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid.

Oscars

Bacharach (L) and David (R) at the 1970 Academy Awards Ceremony. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Fans of their music include Herb Alpert, Bette Midler, Patti LaBelle, Luther Vandross, Elvis Costello and a myriad of others including The Ambassador Of Cool, Isaac Hayes. He did a glorious 12 minute soulful/psychedelic/funk inspired cover of today’s song on his 1969 release, Hot Buttered Soul.

In a previous post about this song I wrote:

Years later I heard today’s song, written by this prolific duo, and I absolutely swooned.  The singer is not one of my favorites but her work with this extraordinary writing team was a powerful force in the 1960’s.  Her voice is so soft and pretty, and delivers a great vocal to a gorgeous arrangement.  It is the best of what a sad love song should be:  succinct, poignant, evocative and leaving you begging for one more note.  I love so many Bacharach & David compositions (“Anyone Who Had A Heart”, “This Guy’s In Love With You”, “One Less Bell To Answer”, “A House Is Not A Home” “The Look Of Love” to name a few) but this one I adore.

David died in 2012 at the age of 91. Bacharach turned 94 years young on May 12. Together they wrote a chapter of music history that remains unmatched. And today’s track remains my favorite from their remarkable partnership.

If you see me walking down the street
And I start to cry each time we meet
Walk on by
Walk on by
“.

Burt Hal

L to R: Hal David, Dionne Warwick & Burt Bacharach in the studio circa 1964  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Dionne Warwick: “Walk On By” (1964, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David).

Stay safe & well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 433

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.

Today we remember one of the finest female big band singers of all time. Rosemary Clooney was born 93 years ago on May 23,1928 in Kentucky. She started performing with her sister, Betty, and in 1945 they won a radio contest that awarded them a singing spot on a Cincinnati radio station. A year later Rosemary was singing with The Tony Pastor Band. By 1951 she had her first hit, “Come On-A My House”, produced by Mitch Miller. More hits and acting parts followed including her role in “White Christmas” opposite Bing Crosby & Danny Kaye.

She spent many years fighting addiction & mental health issues until she was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1968. She fought her way back to the career she loved as a “…a sweet singer with a big band sensibility…” which is how she described herself in her second autobiography, 1999’s “Girl Singer: An Autobiography”.

A year after Clooney’s death in 2002, Bette Midler released a tribute album, Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook, produced by Barry Manilow. In 2005 Clooney’s daughter-in-law, Debby Boone, released her own salute with Reflections of Rosemary.

Today’s song is from the musical “The Pajama Game” & was a #1 song for Clooney in 1954. Sam Cooke did a glorious cover of this track in 1960 and it is probably my favorite male version of this tune. But Clooney’s is the absolute best there is. As was she.

Won’t you take this advice I hand you like a mother
Or are you not seeing things too clear
Are you too much in love to hear
Is it all going in one ear and out the other
“.

rosemary-clooney-1-d12-c12

Rosemary Clooney circa 1952. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Rosemary Clooney: “Hey There” (1954, written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross).

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 400

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 remember R&B singer Luther Vandross who was born 70 years ago today on April 20, 1951 in New York City. When he was a teenager he was inspired to become a singer after seeing Dionne Warwick in concert. In 1967 he lost four Amateur Night competitions at The Apollo Theatre but came in second place twice with his first vocal band, Shades Of Jade.

By the 1970’s Vandross was doing backup vocals for the likes of David Bowie, Bette Midler, Chaka Khan, Carly Simon & Donna Summer, amongst others. By 1981 he was signed to Epic Records and released his debut album, “Never Too Much”, the same year. He wrote all the songs except for one cover track & also produced the record himself. For the next 20 years he was one of the biggest voices in music.

He died too young at age 54 in 2005 after suffering a stroke in 2003. But his legacy still resonates through songs like “Dance With My Father”, the wedding favorite “Here And Now” and a glorious cover of a Burt Bacharach-Hal David tune that Vandross made all his own.

A room is a still a room
Even when there’s nothing there but gloom
But a room is not a house and a house is not a home
When the two of us are far apart
And one of us has a broken heart
“.

Luther

The 1981 debut album by Luther Vandross, Never Too Much. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Luther Vandross: “A House Is Not a Home” (1981, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David).

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 392

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.

I do not consider myself a full fledged “Fanilow” since I only like a handful of his songs and let’s face it, he recorded a heck of a lot more than a few tunes in his day. But I am not a hater, either, nor can I forget that in the early 1970’s Barry Manilow was the pianist & musical director for The Divine Miss M, Bette Midler.

But I do remember the first track I ever heard by him. I completely swooned over the lyrics, especially the line “You kissed me & stopped me from shaking”. He performed it during his first US television appearance in March 1975 on the show he wrote the theme for, “American Bandstand”. It was the first #1 hit of his career, hitting the top spot for one week on January 18, 1975. All these years later, I still find it enchanting.

I’m standing on the edge of time
I’ve walked away when love was mine
Caught up in a world of uphill climbing
The tears are in my mind and nothing is rhyming
“.

Manilow 1

Manilow 2

Top (L-R_: Barry Manilow and Bette Midler circa 1973. Bottom (L-R): Manilow and Midler circa 2003. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Barry Manilow: “Mandy” (1974, written by Richard Kerr and Scott English).

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 248

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.

It’s funny how certain dates follow people throughout their lives. For example, on November 7, 1972 The Divine Miss M, Bette Midler’s debut album, was released. Not only did it get a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year but Midler won the Best New Artist Award for that record. On the same date in 1979, Midler’s movie, “The Rose” came out. It gave her a top five hit with the song of the same name (Day 50) and earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

I cannot remember the first time I saw Midler. I believe it was on a TV variety show before I saw an HBO special of hers based on her nightclub act from the 1970’s. But that is the one that stuck. I was completely taken with her voice, her fearless & commanding stage presence and her comedy. And as fabulous as the up-tempo songs were, it was the ballads that completely captivated me. When I heard her debut album, I fell in love with her cover of one of Leon Russell’s most beautiful songs. It was co-written by Bonnie Bramlett of “Delaney & Bonnie” fame who sang the original version in 1969 featuring Eric Clapton on guitar. Swoon.

This song was a hit for The Carpenters in 1971 and it was that interpretation that led to Chris Farley and David Spade’s unbridled emotional sing along in the 1995 movie, “Tommy Boy”. Karen Carpenter’s version is heartbreakingly beautiful without a doubt, but with the increased tempo of the chorus you are given a chance to breathe. Midler’s cover just crushes you from start to finish. It is not just her sadness that is palpable but her agony as well, especially by the end of the track. It is simply sublime.

Long ago, and, oh, so far away
I fell in love with you before the second show
Your guitar, it sounds so sweet and clear
But you’re not really here, it’s just the radio
“.

Bette

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Bette Midler: “Superstar” (1972, written by Bonnie Bramlett and Leon Russell).

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 108

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?

Kerouac

(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.

Percy Sledge’s songs personified what music critic Dave Marsh called “emotional classics for romantics of all ages”.  Sledge’s biggest hit has been around for over 50 years and despite excellent covers by fans like Gregg Allman, The Guess Who’s Burton Cummings and Bette Midler in the movie “The Rose”, it is the original that people still want to hear.

When a man loves a woman
He can do her no wrong
He can never want
Some other girl.

Percy Sledge

Percy Sledge circa 1966 (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Percy Sledge:  “When a Man Loves a Woman” (1966, written by Calvin Lewis and Andrew Wright).

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 92

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?

Kerouac

(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.

When Bruce Springsteen released his live album, “1975-1985”, the last song on the three CD set was “Jersey Girl”.  I would have sworn on everything I had that he wrote it.  But when I checked the credits, there appeared a different name:  Tom Waits.  I was shocked it was not a Springsteen original and curious to learn as much as I could about the songwriter.  Like The Boss, Waits was inspired by Bob Dylan.  Waits first album (“Closing Time”) came out in 1973 to critical acclaim and garnered him an underground following.  He collaborated with his then girlfriend Bette Midler on the 1977 song, “I Never Talk To Strangers”.  By 1980 he moved from a jazz sound to one featuring blues, rock and experimental/alternative sounds.  His 1985 release, “Rain Dogs” includes the song “Downtown Train” which was a hit for Rod Stewart in 1989.

Jay Pritchett (Ed O’Neill’s character on “Modern Family”) described Waits’ rough gravelly voice as ugly and beautiful at the same time.  To me it is just beautiful, like a rusty patina on an old metal sign.  It adds such a strong tone to today’s song which is another one of those hauntingly beautiful numbers thanks to that voice, an absolutely resplendent string arrangement and his talent for storytelling using colorful, expressive & detailed lyrics.  I am grateful to Springsteen for so many things, and introducing me to this poet of a man is one of them.

And it’s a battered old suitcase to a hotel someplace
And a wound that will never heal
No prima donna, the perfume is on
An old shirt that is stained with blood and whiskey
And goodnight to the street sweepers
The night watchman flame keepers and goodnight, Mathilda too.”

Tom Waits

Tom Waits circa 1985.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Tom Waits:  “Tom Traubert’s Blues” (1976, written by Tom Waits).

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 50

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.

Bette Midler is so accomplished she is capable of singing anything.  But when she performs a ballad, she is glorious.  Along with cleaning up parts of NYC with her New York Restoration Project and sending Johnny Carson’s show off into that good night, I think this is one of The Divine Miss M’s best moments.

When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed, that with the sun’s love in the spring becomes the rose.”

 

Bette-Midler1
(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Bette Midler:  “The Rose” (1979, written by Amanda McBroom).

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

Stay well.