Let’s Take A Moment Day 192

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 23 marked the 90th birth anniversary of the man known as The Genius, Ray Charles. He gave us so much spectacular music throughout his career, and there is nothing I can write about him that has not already been said. He was one of the greats, an absolute legend, a phenomenal performer and an American treasure. And one of the best singers to take another person’s song and make it his own.

One of my favorite examples of this gift is a song he included on his 1993 album, “My World” It was written by another piano man, Leon Russell. He was another multi-talented performer who had a voice similar to that of Gregg Allman and hit those keys like Charles. Russell spent nearly 60 years playing & singing with some of the best known artists of the 20th century like Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Ike & Tina Turner, The Rolling Stones, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Joe Cocker and so many others.

He wrote hit songs like “This Masquerade”, “Lady Blue”, “Tightrope”, “Hummingbird”, “Delta Lady” & today’s track. It was covered by The Carpenters, Donny Hathaway, Willie Nelson, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse and, of course, Charles. His version won him his third Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1994 and brought out the heart of this song unlike anyone before or after, including Russell. But they are his words that Charles brought to life so beautifully.

I love you in a place where there’s no space or time
I love you for my life, you are a friend of mine
And when my life is over, remember when we were together
We were alone and I was singin’ my song for you
“.

ray charles

Ray Charles circa 1968. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Russell

Leon Russell in 1971. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Ray Charles: “A Song For You” (1993, written by 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 175

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?

Bruce 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.

Today is the birth anniversary of Charles Hardin Holley, better known to us as Buddy Holly.  Born 84 years ago today in Lubbock, Texas, he grew up during the Depression playing the guitar with the rest of his musical family.  Another artist from the south who found his roots in country, gospel and R&B music, he was part of a bluegrass/country/rockabilly duo in high school with Bob Montgomery simply called “Buddy and Bob” (Montgomery wrote “Misty Blue” recorded by several artists including Dorothy Moore who turned it into a #3 hit in 1976).

The duo opened for Elvis Presley several times in 1955 and eventually Holly changed the direction of his sound to rock & roll.  He was discovered and signed by Decca Records soon after and the rest is musical history.  His style influenced everyone from The Beatles to Bob Dylan to Eric Clapton to The Hollies who, according to founding member Graham Nash, were named as a tribute to Holly,

There is no denying that his effect is far reaching and as influential as they come.  His sound helped define the foundation of rock & roll and his legacy continues to radiate in music today, more than 60 years after his death.  Happy birthday, Buddy Holly.

A-well rave on, it’s a crazy feelin’ and
I know, it’s got me reelin’
I’m so glad, that you’re revealin’
Your love for me“.

Holly
Buddy Holly circa 1956.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Buddy Holly:  “Rave On” ( 1958, written by Norman Petty, Bill Tightman and Joseph “Sonny” West).

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 100

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.

Day 100.  It needs to be commemorated with a special performance of a phenomenal song.  That leads me to my favorite Beatle, George Harrison.  The year was 1968 and he had just written a staggering song that he felt needed the artistry of another guitarist to complete.  But there was a lot of resistance from the other Beatles as they were not known to have other famous musicians join them for recordings.  George persevered and in his infinite wisdom he asked his friend, Eric Clapton, to play lead guitar for today’s song.  That made him one of only two musicians to work with the Beatles in the studio (the other was Billy Preston who joined the band for the recording of the “Let It Be” album and is featured prominently on the song “Get Back”).  Clapton was a superstar in his own right thanks to the enormous popularity he achieved with the band, Cream.  Even today he is considered to be one of the best guitar players in the world. George’s song became a huge success and finally put him on a level of songwriting with Lennon & McCartney.

Thirty three years later, in November 2001, my favorite Beatle died of cancer at the young age of 58.  A year later, The Concert For George was held in England under the guidance of Harrison’s widow, Olivia and his son, Dhani, also a guitarist.  The musical director for the show was Clapton.  The show featured the two surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr, the surviving members of Harrison’s other band, The Traveling Wilburys (Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne & Tom Petty), Preston and several other musicians who had worked with Harrison on his solo records.

All the music performed was written by Harrison and his son played with the band.  Today’s song features Clapton & McCartney sharing vocals with Clapton playing lead guitar just like he did in 1968.  He also used one of Harrison’s guitars in another sweet tribute to his friend.  I love Clapton and he did an astounding job with this song, giving it everything he has as he always does.  But for me, the best part of the performance is at the end when Harrison’s son pats Clapton on the back for a job well done.  Their exchange is really touching, which is exactly the emotion great music should evoke.

So, George Harrison my favorite Beatle, today’s song is in your honor.  Thank you for the great music, the lessons in spirituality and for helping me discover Clapton through your invitation for him to play on this song all those years ago.  You are loved and missed every single day.

Eric and Dhani
Eric Clapton (L) and George Harrison’s son, Dhani, at The Concert For George on November 29, 2002.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Eric Clapton & Paul McCartney:  “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” from The Concert For George, 2002 (written by George Harrison in 1968),

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 88

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.

I have always been interested in finding out what kind of music inspired and influenced the artists I listen to.  Bruce Springsteen led me to Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison.  The Beatles led me to Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins.  Otis Redding led me to Sam Cooke and gospel music.  And Eric Clapton led me to many of the blues greats like Muddy Waters and B.B. King, with the latter becoming a favorite of mine.

He has collaborated with so many singers I love including Clapton (on the 2000 release “Riding With The King”), Elton John (on the song “Rock the House”) and Van Morrison (on the song “Early In The Morning”).  King also recorded a song with U2 (“When Love Comes to Town”).  But when I listen to him, my go to is his 1969 album, “Completely Well” because it has today’s classic on it.  He recorded another version of this song with Clapton for 2005’s “B.B. King & Friends: 80” with a fabulous string arrangement that is now my second favorite.  But nothing beats the original.

BB King     (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

B.B. King:  “The Thrill Is Gone” (1969, written by Rick Darnell and Roy Hawkins).

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 60

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.

There are still people who have not forgiven Bob Dylan for switching from his original folk sound to electric music in the mid 1960’s.  But if he had not made that change, he would not have needed back-up players and then we might have never been introduced to The Band.  And that would have been a terrible misfortune because they were a remarkable group of musicians.  They were credited as the inventors of a new sound called country soul, but most people just called them fabulous.  And I am one of them.

The Band

The Band circa 1976  (left to right:  Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko & Richard Manuel.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Band:  “The Weight” (1968, written by Robbie Robertson).

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 45

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.

If I had to pinpoint how rock & roll music officially began, my timeline would be this:

1908:  The year American bandleader & swing/big band/R&B musician Louis Jordan is born.

1916:  The year American rockabilly songwriter Claude Demetrius is born.

1926:  The year American guitarist Charles Edward Anderson Berry is born.  The world would come to know him as Chuck Berry.  Soon he learns to “play a guitar just like a-ringin’ a bell and, oh my, that little country boy could play”.

1946:  Demetrius writes a song (co-written with Jordan’s wife, Fleecie Moore) called “Ain’t That Just Like A Woman” which Jordan records and turns into an R&B hit the same year.

1958:  Berry writes and records his semi-autobiographical groundbreaking hit, “Johnny B. Goode”.  The song begins with a note for note replica of the introduction to Jordan’s 1946 song, written by Demetrius.  A new sound is born from combining music from the swing/big band/R&B/rockabilly genres and Berry is christened “The Father of Rock & Roll”.

Young impressionable youths like John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix and many others are entranced by what Berry does with a guitar.  Fast forward to 1963 & 1964 where The Beatles record Berry covers “Roll Over Beethoven” & “Rock & Roll Music ” and stop by America for that Sunday night show at the same theatre David Letterman was in and there you have it.

Yes, Elvis (who covered a few of Berry’s songs, including today’s), Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Carl Perkins and many other early architects of this new sound were coming up around the same time as Berry.  However, his musicianship, his stage dance moves (most notably the “duck walk”) and his songwriting talent made him a triple threat and set him apart from the others.  Elvis will always be the King, but Berry was and remains The Master.

Today’s song also has the distinction of being part of NASA’s Voyager Space Mission as one of the pieces of music from Earth.  And honestly, can you imagine Marty McFly sliding across the floor to any other song in “Back To The Future” than this one?

Chuck-Berry-Johnny-B-Goode

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Chuck Berry:  “Johnny B. Goode” (1958, written by Chuck Berry).

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 22

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?

music heart

(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 was inducting today’s singer into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987, he said, “I wanted to sing like Roy Orbison. Now, everybody knows that nobody sings like Roy Orbison.”  If there was ever one voice so completely recognizable from the very first note he sang, it was Orbison’s.  It sounded almost operatic with his smooth and rich delivery, earning him the nickname “the Caruso of Rock”.  Even when he was singing with the likes of Bob Dylan, George Harrison and the other Traveling Wilburys in the late 1980’s, Orbison’s sound took center stage.  Springsteen has covered today’s song many times as an encore in his own concerts, and Orbison re-recorded it himself as a duet with k.d. lang in 1987.  It was very nicely done, but I prefer the original recording from 1961.

Roy Orbison

Roy Orbison circa 1964 (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Roy Orbison:  “Crying” (1961, written by Roy Orbison and Joe Melson).

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

Stay well.

Christmas Song Countdown #13

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

picture-wreath

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.

lethal-weapon

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???

u2-mojo-254-770

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!!!

Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Songs @ #7 & My Grammy Boycott

There are two songs tied for the #7 spot on the countdown, so we will look at them individually.  The first one comes from a man who is considered by some as not only the inventor of soul music, but the genre’s most distinctive voice as well:  Sam Cooke with “You Send Me“.

This song, penned by Cooke but credited to his brother LC Cook to keep record executives from taking the profits, hit #1 in December 1957,  ending Elvis Presley’s 7 week run in the top spot with “Jailhouse Rock”.

Crooning is what Cooke does throughout this song, using his smooth sophisticated voice’s range to lure the listener into his story of how his feelings came to be (and he even uses the M word):

“At first I thought it was infatuation
But oh, it’s lasted so long
Now I find myself wanting
To marry you and take you home

Cooke’s roots began in gospel music, but with the success of this song he became fully emerged in secular music. Then he used what he learned to help some other singers crossover from the gospel genre as well, including Lou Rawls who returned the favor by singing on Cooke’s song “Bring It On Home To Me“.

Singing, songwriting and producing records were not the only parts of the business Cooke was interested in. He was one of the first performers to take both artistic & financial control of his career and eventually started his own publishing company and record label.  He also has the distinction of writing a song that went on to become an anthem for the Civil Rights movement, “A Change Is Gonna Come“.  It has been covered by both black and white artists from Otis Redding, Al Green, Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan, who inspired Cooke with his song  “Blowin’ In The Wind“.

1964 started on a somber note with the country still mourning the assassination of President Kennedy.  Unfortunately, the year also ended the same way as the country mourned Cooke’s tragic death on Dec 11 at the age of 33 after being shot at a Los Angeles motel.  His murder was eventually ruled a justifiable homicide.  The events of that night have been revisited several times over the last five decades to bring his friends and family a better understanding as to what actually transpired the night Cooke was shot.  Whatever it was does not change the outcome because there was nothing justifiable about the loss of this soul music renegade.  It was a heartbreaking ending to a stellar career.

Sam Cooke was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame at its first ceremony in 1986 and Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him 4th on its list of the “100 Greatest Singers”.  His music has been featured in several movies over the years, but is most recognizable from “Animal House” (who can forget John Belushi’s character Bluto eating his way down the cafeteria line to “(What A) Wonderful World“) and “Innerspace” (Martin Short & Dennis Quaid dancing to “Twistin’ The Night Away“).

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The other song sharing the #7 spot on the countdown is by a man referred to as one of the greatest singers of all time, and I cannot express it any better than that.  The singer is Van “The Man” Morrison with his song “Have I Told You Lately“.

If you cannot tell, I love words, and this song has some of the most beautiful ones ever set to music:

“Fill my heart with gladness
take away my sadness
ease my troubles
that’s what you do”

“You fill my heart with laughter
Somehow, you make it better
Ease my troubles, that’s what you do”

“There’s a love that’s divine
and it’s yours and it’s mine
and it shines like the sun”

Just stunning.  And the music and delivery are perfect, too, completing the holy trinity hallmarks of a great song.

Even Rod Stewart became choked up with emotion and when he sang his cover of the song on “MTV’s Unplugged” in 1993.

There really is not a genre of music Morrison has not explored with his voice, and that coupled with his immense talent has influenced performers like the Counting Crows, Bob Seger, U2, Bruce Springsteen and The Band.  In fact, that was a bit of a mutual admiration thing as evidenced by Morrison’s part in their swan song movie, “The Last Waltz“.   My favorite performance of his in that movie?  Caravan.

It was one of the members of The Band, guitarist and songwriter Robbie Robertson, who inducted Morrison into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.  In his induction speech, Robertson said of Morrison:  “…in the tradition of the great Irish poets and the great soul singers, he is the Caruso of rock and roll”.  Compliments do not get much better than that.  And Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Morrison 24th  on its list of the “100 Greatest Singers”.

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SIDE BAR:  Today is the 2015 Grammy Awards and for the first time in more than three decades I will neither be watching the show nor saving it to my DVR.  The only performances I would want to see from the broadcast are Hozier’s with Annie Lennox and Tony Bennett’s, but I can just look them up on YouTube tomorrow.

But I am happy to see super-talented singer/songwriter/musician Ryan Adams up for best rock song (“Gimme Something Good”) and Best Rock Album (for his self-titled release).  Tom Petty and U2 are also nominated in the latter category but I do not think either of them will be there to accept if they win, if that award is even broadcast.

Same holds true for the Best American Roots Performance, which is usually announced before the telecast.  Gregg Allman & Taj Mahal are nominated for their collaboration on “Statesboro Blues”, from “All My Friends: Celebrating The Songs & Voice Of Gregg Allman”.  Keb’ Mo’ Featuring The California Feetwarmers is nominated in the same category for “The Old Me Better” from the album “BluesAmericana”, which is also up for Best Americana Album.

“Twenty Feet From Stardom” is nominated for Best Music Film, and if you like music, this is a must see.  If you never saw “Standing In The Shadows of Motown” either, add that to your Netflix queue NOW.  The history and performances are way too good to miss.

I do like Sam Smith-this decade’s Rick Ashley-who is up for a slew of awards including Record, Song & Album of the Year, but not enough to sit through the boring list of  performers (and speaking of boring, weren’t we all just forced to sit through a very over-hyped lackluster Katy Perry half-time show?)  Shouldn’t her involvement tonight be limited to presenter only?

Let’s make it a rule-rather, a law-that a bubble gum pop princess who is too busy with her make up commercials to learn how to sing well should only be allowed to play one event per month.  Same rule should apply to anything-but-reality people and hosts (yes, Adam Levine, this includes you and your face stubble.  Don Johnson called and said it’s over, move on already!!!).

I am actually refusing to watch this year (read:  BOYCOTT) because the industry is continuing to change for the worse. Between Miley Cyrus even being nominated (and for her entire album no less-UGH) to that irritating trite Meghan Trainor “Bass” song (isn’t it perfect to become part of a new Big Mouth Billy Bass singing fish in the not so distant future?  How they got the rights to songs such as “All Shook Up”, “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Take Me To The River” in the past is beyond me).

I am a music purist so for me the rules are simple:  If you make bad music PLEASE STOP NOW before someone gets hurt (do you hear me Miley, Meghan, Gwen, Katy, Maroon 5 and the Black Eyed Peas, whether as a group or individually, for starters).  If you make good music please don’t sell out to hear it in a TV commercial.  It demeans us all.  I do not want nor do I expect to hear decent music used in commercials with the exception of car ads.  Those seem to leave the songs virtually intact with some redeeming qualities to them.

A good example from this year:  Bobby Day & the Satellites’ “Beep Beep Beep” used in a Kia Sorento spot.  Some bad examples:  The Who’s “I’m Free” in a local cable commercial ad & the Kinks selling yogurt with “All Day & All Of The Night”. The worst use of a phenomenal song to sell ANYTHING:  The Allman Brothers’ exquisite “Midnight Rider” as part of the Geico campaign (one more reason why that that dippy little gecko needs to disappear!!!).

But to be honest, the biggest reason why I will not watch the Grammy Awards is because I prefer to remember Sir Paul McCartney, a freaking Beatle for God’s sake, the way he was……before he chose to collaborate with the ego-maniacal Kanye West (or did West kidnap McCartney and torture him until he said Uncle?  That would make this easier to swallow, not to mention understandable).

Whatever possessed Sir Paul to even appear at the same award show as West is belittling enough to us Beatles fans, but actually working with that poor sport brat is so over the line it has now been eradicated.  I did not think anything could top the colossal lack of judgement U2 showed several years back when they decided to let no talent No Doubt open for them for a leg of the tour.  I am still wearing black and taking mood stabilizers from that debacle.  But this Sir Paul misstep may require me to go on a 72 hour suicide watch with round the clock doses of ECT treatments.

But it does make me profoundly sad that the longest tradition of my life is coming to an end after 30 years.  Music is so important to me & continues to be that.  It is a part of me, like a dear old friend.  I have looked forward to the Grammy Awards ever since I was a kid.  I loved getting the chance to finally see my favorite singers on TV (as this was the pre-music video & pre-internet age-yes, I know I am old!!!) and the outfits they wore, what collaborations they would participate in and what songs they would perform.

My favorite Grammy moment ever?  Aretha Franklin’s performance of “Nessun Dorma” in 1998.  Unbelievably gorgeous. Some of my favorite collaborations (“London Calling”  with Bruce Springsteen & friends; “The A-Team” by Ed Sheeran & Elton John; “Across The Universe” introduced by the sinfully gorgeous Anthony Lapaglia) and salutes to some of those who died (Solomon Burke, Warren Zevon &  Levon Helm’s tributes).

Here’s to hoping the 2016 Grammy Awards are something worth tuning in for.

Enjoy!!!

“…May your song always be sung…”

This week I, along with the rest of their fans, bid a very sad farewell to my extended family-the Bravermans of NBC’s “Parenthood“.

150114_2840417_The_Cast_Reflects_on_Parenthood

Photo courtesy of NBC.

I adored this show. The entire cast was outstanding, but any scene Craig T. Nelson was in was his-period. How this man was not even nominated for an Emmy Award for his performance as family patriarch Zeek Braverman is beyond me.

And for anyone who thinks of Ray Romano as a mere comedy actor needs only to watch one second of any of his scenes on this show to realize how wrong that thought is. Romano’s portrayal of Hank Rizzoli, a man who realized he had an undiagnosed case of Asperger’s Syndrome and how it had damaged his life was simply stunning. As was his relationship with Sarah Braverman (the very entertaining Lauren Graham).

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Photo courtesy of NBC.

It was one of the first honest portrayals of a couple over 40 who learned how to navigate the murky waters of a real adult relationship by owning the mistakes that led to where they were in their lives, and where they wanted their cautiously optimistic hearts to take them in the future.

The other thing I have loved as much as the diverse group of characters on this show is the music. The series had the perfect backdrop for it because one of the characters, Crosby Braverman (the adorable and funny Dax Shepard) was a music engineer and spent the last seasons as co-owner of the Luncheonette, a fictional recording studio that saw the likes of people like Janis Joplin in its heyday.

The show also paid homage to the 60’s in many other ways: The family lived in the Bay area of California (home to the Flower Power origins, Haight-Ashbury and many other iconic 60’s movements); Nelson’s character was a Vietnam Veteran; his grandson, Drew, was a college student at Berkeley; Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” as the show’s theme song, to name a few.

The musical directors of this show did a phenomenal job with the songs they hand picked for each episode (see list HERE), but two Dylan covers win my praise for the best songs of the show’s varied soundtrack (honorable mention to Cat Steven’s “Wild World” performed by Jimmy Cliff as heard at Hank & Sarah’s wedding).

To conclude season five, Richie Haven’s raw and beautiful acoustic version of “The Times They Are A Changing” sent the Bravermans and their fans off to uncertainty about whether or not there would be a sixth season, but not without the benefit of closure and resolution for all of the characters.

For the last song of season six, the series finale, the producers and writers took us on a flash forward a few years into the future to the beauty of Dylan’s “Forever Young” sung as an exquisite duet by Rhiannon Giddens & Iron and Wine (Sam Beam).

That in and of itself would have elicited enough tears, but just prior to this song, Zeek died. My heart sunk. I predicted this from the first episode of this season when he fainted from a cardiac event and many on-line reports had speculated all season that this death was coming. But I hoped for a happy ending…..a real happy ending, where I could imagine Zeek’s expression when he heard the song his grandkids promised to record in honor of his 80th birthday, or how his eyes would well up with tears at the sight of his oldest son Adam (Peter Krause) walking his daughter Haddie (Sarah Ramos) down the aisle.

But sadly, happy endings are not real, and what made this show so damn good was that it was about a real family with real life issues. Which is what life is. And that includes the bittersweet ending as opposed to the happy ending. For anyone of us who has said goodbye to someone in our own lives, we are all too familiar with the bittersweet. So there really was no way for Zeek’s death not too happen, which is why it hurt so very, very much.

A lot of people do not live to see their 80th birthday. Some people will not have their grandparents present when they get married-or even their parents, for that matter. And like real life, no matter how much time you have, it is just never enough. Six years was not nearly enough time with this family. To borrow a line from Jimmy Webb, “endings always come too fast”, whether they occur in real life or on TV.

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Photo courtesy of NBC.

So goodbye, my beloved Braverman family. I will miss the heck out of all of you.