Let’s Take A Moment Day 525

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.

This weekend we lost a pioneer in two musical genres. Isaac Donald “Don” Everly died August 21 at the age of 84. Born February 1, 1937 in Kentucky he and his younger brother, Phil (January 19, 1939 – January 3, 2014), were a trailblazing duo in both country music & the birth of the rock & roll era who used harmonizing vocals to create their signature sound. Don sang lead and Phil provided the harmony.

The two men started singing with their parents on their father’s radio show on KMA in Iowa in the 1940’s as The Everly Family. They moved to TN in the early 1950’s where the brothers pursued music full time once Don graduated from high school in 1955. They were soon discovered by guitarist Chet Atkins who helped introduce them to Acuff Rose publishers & the songwriting team of Boudleaux Bryant.

They wrote the brothers’ first hits in 1957, “Bye Bye Love” (a cross over hit on both the country & rock & roll charts) & “Wake Up Little Susie”. The duo was also the first to record the Boudleaux Bryant song “Love Hurts” in 1960 before it became a hit for Roy Orbison a year later. The boys did write some of their own songs including “Cathy’s Clown” (1960, written by Don) & “When Will I be Loved” (1960, written by Phil).

The brothers success led to their 1960 contract with Warner Brothers Records for one million dollars. At that time it was an unprecedented amount of money for a rock & roll act and would keep the boys with the label for ten years. But the unrelenting work schedule took its toll on the duo. So did contract disputes, sibling rivalry, drug use and more which led their official break up in 1973. They did reunite a decade later but their relationship remained strained.

Some of the biggest names in music were fans of The Everly Brothers. In his 1976 Wings song “Let ‘Em In”, Paul McCartney mentioned the duo by their first names (“…Martin Luther, Phil and Don”). George Harrison recorded a demo of today’s song that was included on his 2012 posthumous album, Early Takes: Volume. His friend & Traveling Wilbury bandmate Bob Dylan covered today’s song for his 1970 album, Self-Portrait. Both Everly Brothers sang on the track “Graceland” by another of their admirers, Paul Simon. In 1986 they were a part of the inaugural class inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame by Neil Young.

Today’s song was based on a French recording of “Je t’appartiens” from 1955. It was a Top Ten hit for the brothers in 1959. As much fun as their faster songs are, I think it is the ballads that show off their vocal harmonies best. Rest in peace, Don Everly.

Each time we meet love
I find complete love
Without your sweet love
What would life be
“.

Don and Phil

Don (L) and Phil Everly circa 1957. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Everly Brothers: “Let It Be Me” (1959, written by Gilbert Bécaud (music), Manny Curtis (English lyrics) and Pierre Delanoë (French lyrics).

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 237

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.

Time for another cautionary rock & roll tale. This one belongs to Gram Parsons who was born Ingram Cecil Connor III in Florida on Nov 5, 1946. He overcame a tough childhood (both parents were alcoholics, which led to his father’s suicide when Parsons was 12 & his mother’s from cirrhosis when he was in high school). He quit Harvard University in 1965 after one semester to pursue music, a talent he acquired when he learned how to play the piano as a child.

By the late 1960’s he met Chris Hillman of The Byrds & contributed to the band’s 1968 album, “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo”. It is considered to be one of the earliest country rock records due in large part to Parson’s influence of what he called “Cosmic American Music”. Then he & Hillman formed The Flying Burrito Brothers and continued with that sound.

It was also around this time that Parsons met The Rolling Stones and became fast friends with Keith Richards. The friendship centered around music and drugs, but the latter began to dominate Parsons life and career. By 1971 he had been dismissed from the Burrito Brothers & was all but kicked out of Richards house (and life) by his girlfriend and allegedly Mick Jagger as well. That is when Parsons started his solo work with a young female singer named Emmylou Harris, who provided harmony vocals for all his songs, including today’s pick.

It was written around 1960 with the original version credited to The Everly Brothers in 1961 followed by Roy Orbison’s rendition later the same year. But for the younger crowd, the more well known version of this song was released in 1974 by the band, Nazareth. That was my favorite rendition until I heard Parsons’. Since it is basically a duet with Harris, it highlights the sadness of the lyrics as if they were singing about their own heartbreak to each other. The slower tempo and stripped down musical arrangement only adds to the desolate feeling of the song. It is truly beautiful.

So is the version Richards performed with Norah Jones at the 2004 tribute concert for his old friend, who covered “Wild Horses” with the Burrito Brothers in 1970 for their second album. Parsons died in 1973 from a drug overdose at the age of 26. His second and final solo album, “Grievous Angel”, was released a year after he died and features today’s track.

Some fools think
Of happiness, blissfulness, togetherness
Some fools fool themselves, I guess
They’re not foolin’ me
“.

Gram Parsons

Harris and Parsons

Top: Gram Parsons circa 1972. Bottom: Emmylou Harris & Parsons circa 1972. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Gram Parsons featuring Emmylou Harris: “Love Hurts” (1974, written by Boudleaux Bryant).

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

Stay well.