Music Monday: August 29, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Happy almost 77th birthday to Sir George Ivan Morrison OBE. Born August 31, 1945 in Northern Ireland. he started performing and singing as a teenager, inspired by his father’s country, gospel & blues records. By 1964 Morrison formed the band Them who saw success with songs like “Gloria” and “Here Comes The Night”. In 1967 Van The Man went solo with his fusion of rock, blues and jazz music. That inspired and incredible sound combined with his voice & poetry gave way to songs like no others, especially on albums like Astral Weeks (1968), Moondance (1970) and Saint Dominic’s Preview (1972), just to name a few.

His fame and influence range from The Doors, Bruce Springsteen, The Band, U2, John Mellencamp, The Counting Crows, David Gray, Ray Lamontagne and so many others. After over six decades of performing, Morrison is still making new music. Earlier this year he released What’s It Gonna Take?, his 43rd studio album.

The hard part for me when listening to his music is choosing which record to start with, mainly because I will usually stay with that album for days or possibly weeks at a time. It is nearly impossible to absorb every nuance of Morrison’s voice in ten sittings, let alone one. Even all these years after first discovering this man’s music, it still surprises me with something I missed before. Today’s song, the title track from his 1973 album, falls into that category every time I hear it. It may not be as popular as some of his other songs, but for me it is one of the best vocals of his acclaimed career.

Put your money where your mouth is
Then we can get something going
In order to win you must be prepared to lose sometime
And leave one or two cards showing
“.

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Van Morrison circa 2010. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Van Morrison: “Hard Nose the Highway” (1973, written by Van Morrison).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: August 22, 2022

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

Music Monday

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Bruce Springsteen released his exquisite life changing career altering third album 47 years ago. Born To Run made its debut on August 25, 1975 and became one of classic rock’s greatest moments. I have written numerous times that this is the record that changed the trajectory of my life. And I know I am not alone in that as many fans attest to the same miracle. But it changed things for The Boss as well. It was the first commercially successful album of his career. It put him on the rock & roll map as well as on the covers of Newsweek and Time magazines in the same week of October 1975, just two months after the album’s debut.

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(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Earlier this year Springsteen announced a new tour for 2023. So many tracks from BTR are highlights of the live shows, with “Thunder Road” and “Backstreets” as staples, “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” as the number where he introduces the band and today’s track as one of the encores. And my favorite song of all time, not just from this record, “Jungleland” is saved as a special track he pulls out occasionally on stage (but more often now that Soozie Tyrell and her violin have become a permanent part of The E Street Band). The group, music, life & Springsteen have changed exponentially since BTR came out in 1975. But the poetry, the music, the power, the energy, the vibe but most importantly the promise of this incredible album still holds true: Music is the answer, no matter what the question. And Springsteen tells us that in the opening track: “What else can we do now except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair”.

Thank you, Bruce, for so much, but especially for the exquisite wonder of album number three of your illustrious career.

The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist
I wanna die with you out on the streets tonight
In an everlasting kiss
“.

BTR

The “Born To Run” album cover photograph by Eric Meola.

Bruce Springsteen: “Born To Run” (1975, written by Bruce Springsteen).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: August 15, 2022

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

Music Monday

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It was 57 years ago today that The Beatles made history in New York for the second time in two years. On August 15, 1965 the band played their now famous concert at Shea Stadium. It was the first time a musical group held a show in that type of venue in the United States. The Fab Four performed 12 songs-eight originals, four covers-during their 30 minute set in front of a sold out crowd of nearly 56,000 fans. Most of that crowd were young girls screaming so hysterically they drowned out the music, including today’s song.

I cannot even imagine what it must have been like to witness the kind of history The Beatles made on their first trip to America in February 1964, let alone the monumental concert nearly six decades ago. But I relived it vicariously through Sally Draper when she screamed & jumped for joy after her father, Don, told her he was taking her to the concert. That episode of “Mad Men” (S4 E10) aired 45 years after “The First Play At Shea”, but what a way to let those of us who missed Beatlemania experience a piece of that magic.

Thank you John, Paul, George & Ringo for EVERYTHING.

You tell lies
Thinking I can’t see
You can’t cry
‘Cause you’re laughing at me
“.

Beatles Shea

The Fab Four on stage in Shea Stadium in 1965 (L-R): Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Beatles: “I’m Down” (1965, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: August 8, 2022

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

Music Monday

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Nearly 50 years ago one of my favorite bands released their debut album. Bad Company’s self-titled first record came out in the summer of 1974. They were classified as a supergroup because all four members were once in other successful groups: drummer Simon Kirke and lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist & keyboard player Paul Rodgers were in the band Free; lead guitarist Mick Ralphs was in Mott The Hoople and bass player Boz Burrell was a part of King Crimson. All four members of Bad Co. were songwriters but Rogers & Ralphs handled the majority of that task. The band also had the distinction of being the first group signed to Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song record label.

The debut album was a #1 hit & was followed by five other records until Rodgers left the band in 1982. He returned a few times after that, staying for good in 2008. Kirke has been with the group all along. Sadly, Burrell died of a heart attack in 2006 and Ralphs left the band in 2016 due to medical reasons.

If there was an audio definition for the word “underrated”, I think any song by Bad Co. would suffice. The musicianship was top tier and Rodgers soaring powerful & distinct vocals put them in a universe all their own. Yet they have been snubbed by the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame for over 20 years and none of the members have ever received any type of British honor, either. I find both of those facts sad & disturbing.

They are part of classic rock royalty & are still one of the strongest most recognizable bands of the 1970’s. Today’s song is from their debut album & remains my top pick from that record. The music from this incredible quartet is intense, incredible and captivating while Rodgers’ voice elevates the entire experience to a stunning level. To quote the song, “Bad Company ’til the day I die”.

Company
Always on the run
Destiny
Is a rising sun
“.

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Bad Company circa 1974 (L-R): Boz Burrell (bassist), Mick Ralphs (lead guitarist), Paul Rodgers (lead vocalist) and Simon Kirke (drummer). (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Bad Company: “Bad Company” (1974, written by Simon Kirke and Paul Rodgers).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: August 1, 2022

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

Music Monday

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Unless you were asleep for most of last weekend, you know that music-actually life, for that matter-got a much needed win during this year that just will not stop disappointing us. On Sunday July 24, the legend known as Joni Mitchell made an unexpected yet glorious return to the stage at the 2022 Newport Folk Festival.

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Joni Mitchell on stage at the Newport Folk Festival on July 24, 2022. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

She sang, she played guitar & she brought the crowd to their feet proving she is still as vibrant & as moving as ever. This after fighting her way back from a serious health crisis-a brain aneurysm in 2015-that took her out of commission. I learned she has been slowly making her way back over the last few years, mostly by way of the “Joni Jams” she hosted in her living room to stay in touch with her musical friends. Earlier this year she was named Musicares Person Of The Year and last year she was celebrated as a Kennedy Centers Honor recipient.

If you need a crash course in her genius, influence & reach, there is a whole 2013 “Parenthood” episode centered around her music (S5 E4, “In Dreams Begin Responsibility”), not to mention an endless supply of YouTube videos to choose from.

The last time Mitchell played at Newport was 53 years ago in 1969. That was the same year she released today’s song. She has written some really beautiful ones in her life but this one makes me tear up every time. It took me years to appreciate the talent of this woman and for that I will always feel ashamed. But this track is her pinnacle, as was her performance last weekend on a magical stage in New England.

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost but something’s gained
In living every day
“.

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Joni Mitchell circa 1969. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Joni Mitchell: “Both Sides Now” (1969, written by Joni Mitchell).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: July 25, 2022

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

Music Monday

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July is filled with several high profile musical birthdays. In fact, there are so many I broke them up into two separate posts to do the artists justice. Last week we focused on the women. This week it is all about the men.

First up is the man who made a triumphant return to music in 2006 after a self-imposed career sabbatical that lasted way too long. Yusuf Islam, commonly known as Yusuf f/k/a Cat Stevens, turned 74 this month. He was born July 21, 1948 in Marylebone, London, England and was one of the most prominent voices of the early 1970’s. He is best know for the hits “Peace Train”, “Wild World”, “Morning Has Broken”, “Father & Son” along with the stunning soundtrack to the 1971 black (yet incredibly endearing) comedy, “Harold & Maude”.

Cat Stevens

Cat Stevens n/k/a Yusuf pictured in the early 1970’s. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The man with the voice behind one of the greatest songs ever recorded was born July 26, 1940 in Simonton, Texas. Dobie Gray started singing gospel music as a child in church. By 1964 he had his first hit with “The In Crowd“. But he is best known for one of today’s songs, a Top Ten hit from 1973, which has become a classic rock anthem. The same year he did a beautiful cover of the Tom Jans classic, “Loving Arms“. Gray’s career spanned several genres of music including soul, R&B, pop & country. Sadly, he died in 2011 at the age of 71.

Dobie

Dobie Gray circa 1972. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

One of the most famous, charismatic & influential front men of all time is turning 79 years young tomorrow. Sir Michael Philip Jagger was born July 26, 1943 in Dartford, Kent, England. He & The Rolling Stones, are celebrating their 60th year together with only Jagger & his song writing partner & guitarist Keith Richards as the band’s last two original members after the death of drummer Charlie Watts nearly one year ago. The group went on tour last year in the late drummer’s honor and are a lock as one of the world’s greatest bands in music history.

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Mick Jagger circa 1978. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Yusuf f/k/a Cat Stevens: “Trouble” (1970, written by Cat Stevens).

Dobie Gray: “Drift Away” (1973, written by Mentor Williams).

The Rolling Stones: “Let’s Spend The Night Together” (1967, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: July 18, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

July is filled with several high profile musical birthdays. In fact, there are so many I decided to break them up into two separate posts to do the artists justice. This week we will focus on three female performers and next week will be all about the men. So stay tuned for another triple play next week.

The month began with the lead singer of an iconic group turning 77 years young. Deborah Ann Harry was born on July 1, 1945 in Miami, Florida but grew up in Hawthorne, New Jersey. She & her group, Blondie, defined rock & roll cool and New York City suave in the 1970’s until the new millennium and gave the group superstar status. Harry was not just the pretty face of the group-she was also the voice and one of its primary songwriters, too. She made her way to the small & big screens, with her roles in 1988’s “Hairspray” & 2003’s “My Life Without Me” as my favorites. Her 2019 autobiography, “Face It: A Memoir”, is worth the read as well.

Debbie

Debbie Harry sometime in the 1980’s. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Christine Anne McVie was born July 12, 1943 in Bouth, UK. making her 79 years young. One of the beautiful talented women of Fleetwood Mac, it was one of today’s song that turned out to be the group’s first hit, just one of many penned by McVie. Her prowess on the keyboards has helped define the band’s sound in every decade of their existence & led to her own successful solo career.

McVie

Christine McVie circa 2000. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

One of the premier voices of all time turned 76 this month. Linda Maria Ronstadt was born July 15, 1946 in Tucson, AZ. She helped define the Laurel Canyon sound of the late 1960’s & early 1970’s, dominated that decade & the 1980’s as a solo performer before ending the latter decade with hit duets with Aaron Neville. She branched out into several diverse musical genres such as Broadway, Big Band, Mexican and Opera, amongst others. The sheer power & beauty of her voice continues to influence every generation after her & helps insure her place as one of the best selling artists in music history.

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Linda Ronstadt in the 1970’s. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Blondie: “Dreaming” (1979, written by Deborah Harry and Chris Stein).

Fleetwood Mac (featuring Christine McVie): “Over My Head” (1975, written by Christine McVie).

Linda Ronstadt: “Heart Like A Wheel” (1974, written by Anna McGarrigle).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: July 11, 2022

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

Music Monday

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When I was six or seven, I spent a lazy Sunday afternoon watching a movie with my mother. It was the very first time I can remember seeing Elvis Presley on TV, not just on all his records in my mom’s collection. And what a difference seeing him dancing as well as singing, especially the moves he had in “Jailhouse Rock”.

Over the years I saw most of his other movies and enjoyed them a lot. But it is the singer side of him that has remained my first love. In this era of YT and streaming services, I have seen many of his concerts as well. Those are truly the comprehensive EP experiences. The stage was his but his band & his audience were as much a part of his performance as his classic tunes. I never had the chance to see him live, but growing up with one of his biggest fans made me one, too. For that I am eternally grateful.

Love me tender
love me long
take me to your heart.
For it’s there that I belong
and we’ll never part
“.

Elvis Presley

The King himself, Elvis Presley, circa 1957. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Elvis Presley: “Love Me Tender” (1956, written by Vera Matson, George R. Poulton and Elvis Presley).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: June 20, 2022

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

Music Monday

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Sir James Paul McCartney celebrated his 80th birthday over the weekend. Born June 18, 1942 in Liverpool, England, the man who would become one fourth of the band that changed music forever & one-half of one of the greatest songwriting teams ever has spent six decades making music. There is not much for me to add to a legacy like that.

Today’s song has been my #1 favorite of McCartney’s since I first heard it during one of my most beloved scenes from the “Let It Be” movie. But once I discovered the “naked” version of this song, it took the top spot on that list.

The wild and windy night
That the rain washed away
Has left a pool of tears
Crying for the day
“.

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Paul and Linda

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Top: McCartney in his Beatles days circa 1964. Middle Paul & his first wife, Linda, in the 1970’s. McCartney (L) on stage in NJ last week with one of that state’s favorite sons, Bruce Springsteen (R). (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

The Beatles: “The Long & Winding Road” (1970 original, 2003 reissue, written by John Lennon & Paul McCartney).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: June 6, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to the first edition of Music Monday for June.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Two members of The Rolling Stones share the same birthday month. Guitarist Ron Wood celebrated birthday number 75 on June 1. Before he joined the band in 1976, he made a name for himself in The Jeff Beck Group, The Faces and with Rod Stewart. Their 1993 collaboration on Unplugged…..and Seated remains one of my favorites from that series.

Original member Charlie Watts was born June 2, 1941 in London, England. We lost the stylish dashing drummer last August & it hurt in a way I never saw coming. We all know musicians age like the rest of us but when a band is together for nearly 60 years, you start to believe they will outlive us all. Maybe that is just me. But what an ache Watts left behind in all of us who love The Stones.

Today’s song is in my permanent Top 10 list. It has been that way since the first time I heard it. It does not feature Wood but it is still one of the band’s greatest tracks of all time. It is from their 1969 Let It Bleed album and has been one of their signature tunes since then. I cannot even imagine my life without this monumental song in it. I am pretty sure Martin Scorsese feels the same way.

A storm is threatening
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
I’m gonna fade away
“.

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The Rolling Stones circa 2010 (L-R): Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Ron Wood.

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Rolling Stones: “Gimme Shelter” (1969, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards).

Stay safe & well.