Let’s Take A Moment Day 530

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.

The 1950’s saw an emergence of big records by black artists like Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Bo Didley, B.B. King The Platters and The Drifters. However, another big performer of that era, Fats Domino, is credited with having the first R&B song to break through to the Pop chart when today’s track hit #10 on August 27, 1955. It eventually hit the top spot on the R&B chart for several weeks, his first of three top sellers that year.

Despite that accomplishment, the song was given to a white artist to sing for mainstream release the same year. It was a sad and unfortunate practice that was commonplace for that time in history where black music was treated with such irreverence, not to mention insulting to the original artist to lose that control over his own work. What made this atrocity even worse was that many times the white cover became a top seller, as was the case with Domino’s track. Less than a month after his version peaked on the Pop chart, the re-worked rendition recorded by Pat Boone reached #1 for two weeks.

Luckily the story did not end there. Domino went on to have a very successful career with a multitude of hit songs throughout the 50’s & 60’s including “Walking To New Orleans”, “I Want To Walk You Home” and “The Fat Man”. The latter track is often called the first rock & roll single and the genre’s first million seller by many music historians. Even The King himself, Elvis Presley, cited Domino as a major influence early in his career.

I do not think “Happy Days” would have been the same show if Richie Cunningham sang another song other than Domino’s “Blueberry Hill” on his way out on a date. And John Lennon said today’s song was one of his favorites and recorded his own version for his 1975 album, “Rock ‘n’ Roll“. Covering a song in tribute to an artist is one thing but giving it to another singer to make famous is another. Luckily the universe corrected itself from those & other iniquities against talented performers in the past. For most music lovers including myself, Domino’s original rendition of today’s song will always be the premier recording.

You broke my heart
When you said we’ll part
Ain’t that a shame
My tears fell like rain
“.

Fats

Antoine Dominique “Fats” Domino Jr. circa 1955. (Image found on Fats Domino Official. Original source unknown.)

Fats Domino: “Ain’t That A Shame” (1955, written by Dave Bartholomew and Antoine Domino Jr.).

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

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 216

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?

Thoreau quote 2

(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.

Today’s song was written by singer Rick Nelson about his rather unhappy experience at an oldies show that took place in October 1971. He was on the bill along with superstars Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley & others. Ozzie & Harriet’s heartthrob son, who was 31 years old at the time & stopped going by “Ricky” since his 21st birthday in 1961, understandably “didn’t look the same” as the lyrics go. He began his set by performing two of his older hits which the crowd enjoyed. But their mood changed during his country cover of The Rolling Stones hit, “Honky Tonk Women”. Suddenly the audience started to boo, offending Nelson so much he walked off the stage and refused to return, not even for the all-star finale.

Eventually another story emerged that the crowd’s reaction was not directed at him but rather at police officers attempting to remove an over inebriated man from the arena. But the experience rattled Nelson so much he wrote about it in what became his last top ten hit ever in 1972. I grew up singing this with my mother because she adored it and played the single to death. I knew all the lyrics to the track but would not come to understand them until years later as they were basically written in code. For instance, two of The Beatles attended the show (as fans, not performers) so Nelson mentioned them with the lines “Yoko brought a Walrus” (about John Lennon and his wife Yoko) and “Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes wearing his disguise” (about George Harrison, as Hughes was supposedly Harrison’s alias and he was rumored to be making an album of all Bob Dylan songs at that time).

As for himself, Nelson wrote, “I said hello to Mary Lou, she belongs to me” in reference to his 1961 hit song “Hello Mary Lou” which he performed that night. The next line, “But when I sang a song about a honky tonk, it was time to leave” referred to him ending his set due to the crowd’s sour reaction to his cover song. By the last verse, Nelson mentioned one of the show headliners but not by his name (Berry),, but rather by using references to his most famous song: “…out stepped Johnny B. Goode, playing guitar like a-ringin’ a bell and lookin’ like he should“. The final line, “But if memories were all I sang, I’d rather drive a truck” was supposedly a reference to Elvis Presley who did just that while he was trying to get a record deal and not receiving too much recognition for either vocation. The song was Nelson’s final hit record. He died in 1985 in a plane crash at the very young age of 45, nine years before his mother.

In the years before MTV, many music artists appeared on variety shows to promote their songs. If they could not attend due to scheduling conflicts or tour dates, they would pre-tape their performance to be shown in place of a live one. I was fortunate to find the clip of Nelson singing today’s song with his band that I saw as a kid. It brought back unbelievably poignant memories. Music & YouTube are the closest things to time travel we will probably ever see in our lifetimes. 🙂

“But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well
You see, you can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself”.

Ozzie-Nelson-Harriet-Hilliard-David-Ricky-The

Rick 1

Top: The Nelsons circa 1955 (L-R): Ozzie, Harriet, Ricky & David. Bottom: Rick Nelson in 1972 in a still from today’s video. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Rick Nelson: “Garden Party” (1972, written by Rick Nelson).

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

Stay well.