Music Monday: January 2, 2023

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

Bruce quote 2023

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Happy 2023, everyone. To paraphrase John Lennon, let’s hope this new year is a good one. I do not like to have expectations, but I have always thought of 23 as a good number. It has always been one of my favorites, it belonged to my most loved NY Islander (Bobby Nystrom), it was Jack Shephard’s number on “Lost” and he saved the island (if you have never seen the show you need to binge it NOW-it is unbelievably fabulous).

One of the best parts of a new year is the feeling of a clean slate in front of us. The chance to write or tell any story we wish within the parameters of what life has in store for us. Whatever new chapter we are starting to write for ourselves this year, it will start the same way as the others-with a blank page.

Found someone who can comfort me
But there are always exceptions
And she’s good at appearing sane
But I just want you to know
“.

Traffic

Traffic’s 1970 album. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Traffic: “Empty Pages” (written by Jim Capaldi and Steve Winwood).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: December 26, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Well, we are at the end of another year. This time next week we will be in 2023. I want to thank you all for being here for the last 365 days. It means so much to me. I appreciate all of you. And I look forward to you joining me in the new year which I hope is a good one for all of us.

While celebrating all things Christmas for the last 25 days, I missed an important music birthday: Keith Richards turned 79 years young. The long time Rolling Stone guitarist & one half of the group’s prolific songwriting team was born December 16, 1943 in Dartford, Kent, England.

For 60 years The Stones have done it all, from being part of the British Invasion to defining classic rock to playing with their own musical heroes to reaching legendary status. And Richards has been one of the most recognizable faces behind the band with a sound that helped put The Stones in their rightful place in music & cultural history. I chose today’s song because I hope it is something will all get to be in 2023.

Happy birthday, Keith & Happy New Year to all of you.

“Always took candy from strangers
Didn’t wanna get me no trade
Never want to be like papa
Working for the boss every night and day
“.

Stones 2010

The Rolling Stones circa 2000 (L to R):  Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Ron Wood.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Rolling Stones: “Happy” (1972, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: November 28, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I hope you all had a wonderful extended holiday weekend of eating, shopping, resting or all three. Before we get to today’s songs (yes, plural as we have another triple play) let me remind you that the Christmas Music Coundtdown begins on December 1. For each of the 25 Days of Christmas, I will feature a different holiday song. I would love to hear some of your favorite music choices for this festive season so please share them with me in the comments below.

Today we are celebrating three milestones with three songs. The first is about one of my childhood heroes. Charles M. Schulz, the absolute genius who gave us Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts Gang, was born 100 years ago on November 26, 1922. Nothing in my life was ever the same after my first glimpse of the characters Schulz created. Meeting that brilliant, warm, quirky, kind, wise, friendly, talented, and irascible group introduced me to some of the best friends I ever had.

Their holiday specials, books and the comic strip, the merchandise & the movies remain as much a part of my life now as they ever did. And it is all thanks to the man known as “Sparky” to his friends. Part of the appeal of his gang was how relatable and human they were-they had real feelings, real hopes, real wants, real needs and real fears. They were children but not childish. And they loved to have fun which translated into lots of music and dancing to grown up songs. How do you thank one man for so much?

CB and Sparky

Family Circys Schulz tribute

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Lockhorms Schu;lz tribute

Top: Charles M. Schulz and his famous friend, Charlie Brown, circa 1965. Then three of the many cartoonists who remembered Sparky on the 100th anniversary of his birth including Bil and Jeff Keane of “Family Circus“, Lynn Johnston’s “For Better or For Worse” and Bunny Hoest and John Reiner’s “The Lockhorns. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Twenty years later one of the most iconic films of all time was introduced to the world when Casablanca  premiered on November 26, 1942. Eight decades later, Humphrey Bogart & Ingrid Bergman’s tale of love and loss during World War II remains one of the most beloved movies of all time with a theme song no one can ever forget.

Casablanca

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in a scene from “Casablanca:. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

That same year one of the greatest musicians to ever set an instrument on fire-both figuratively and literally-came into the world. James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix was born  November 27, 1942 in Seattle, WA. A singer, songwriter and performer best remembered as one of the prenier guitarists in rock music made a name for himself with original songs but also with one of a kind covers of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” and our National Anthem.

According to his website, Hendrix was a member of the “Screaming Eagles” paratroop division during his serivce to the U.S. Army in the early 1960’s. By the middle of that decade, he was playing with Ike and Tina Turner, Sam Cooke, the Isley Brothers, and Little Richard before forming his own band, Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. The rest is rock music history. Despite his death over 50 years ago, Hendrix is still unsurpassed in his esteem & tenure as one of the greatest of the greats.

Jimi

Jimi Hendrix circa 1967. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Vince Guaraldi Trio: “Linus And Lucy” (1964, written by Vince Guaraldi).

Frank Sinatra: “As Time Goes By” (1962, remastered in 1999, written by Herman Hupfeld).

Jimi Hendrix: “Little Wing” (1967, written by Jimi Hendrix).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: November 14, 2022

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

Music Monday

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Novenber 12 marked birthday #77 for Neil Young, Both an acoustic master & a rocker at heart, this Canadian native has been making music for over five decades as a solo artist and in classic rock bands, The Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

His lyrics make me feel as if I speak and understand another language. Whether it is his perspective on life, love, death and everything else we see or encounter in this world, Young’s vision is all his own but makes it ours as well. His stories are raw, beautiful and heartbreaking in one aching succinct eloquent tale after another. But they are his to tell and ours to celebrate.

Happy birthday, Neil Young.

Ten silver saxes
A bass with a bow
The drummer relaxes
And waits between shows
“.

Neil Young circa 2000. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Neil Young: “Cinnamon Girl” (1969. written by Neil Young).

Stay safe and well.

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.

Bossman

(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

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.

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

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

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

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

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

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

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.