Let’s Take A Moment Day 344

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?

Feb 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.

On February 26, 1985 my great musical love & New Jersey’s favorite rocker Bruce Springsteen won his first Grammy Award for Best Male Vocal Performance for the original recording of today’s song. It was the first single from his ginormous 1984 album, Born In The USA.. The title track was misinterpreted as an American anthem when in reality it was a protest song about what happened to the men & women when they returned home after their service in the Vietnam War. The video for the track made it appear like a song of US pride as well. The Boss was decked out in red (bandana), white (t-shirt) & blue (jean jacket) while he pumped his fist in the air each time he sang the chorus.

The dark message of today’s original track was also disguised by the video. The fast tempo song, performed on a stage with a slick set design and Springsteen’s dance moves with a pre-“Friends” Courtney Cox, looked like nothing but pure fun. In reality the song was a bleak tale of self-loathing where the singer wanted to change everything about himself & his surroundings and basically run away from who he thought he was. He felt there was something more to life, yet did not know of a way to start the change. But it was a hit record anyway and one of the highlights of Springsteen’s live shows to this day as he still invites someone on stage to dance with him during the coda.

Another very talented singer & songwriter from New Jersey, Pete Yorn, was not a fan of Springsteen’s or his 1984 release because he was bothered by the popularity of the album & because he was into metal music at that time. But years later a friend suggested that Yorn listen to “New York City Serenade” from Springsteen’s second album, The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle. Yorn was instantly entranced, became a fan of The Boss’ music. and eventually recorded his own version of that tune.

Yorn also recorded a cover of today’s song as a stripped down acoustic track. It was an excellent choice and adding a harmonica was inspired. Springsteen has reworked many of the tracks from Born In The USA in concert over the years and today’s song sounds like his touch which is a huge compliment to Yorn’s skill & talent. The slower tempo of his version gives the song a pensive tone which helps to underscore the dismal feeling of the lyrics. In doing so Yorn turned his cover of today’s track into one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful songs I ever heard, let alone a Springsteen cover.

Yorn has a really nice voice-evocative, steady and strong but not too overpowering as to drown out the message of the lyrics. What he has done with today’s song by highlighting those words gives it new significance, one that means more to me at this stage of my life than the original does. It is by far the best Springsteen cover I have ever heard.

The situation’s getting clearer, radio’s on and I’m moving around my place
Check my look in the mirror, wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face
Man, I ain’t getting nowhere, just living in a dump like this
There’s something happening somewhere, baby I just know that there is
“.

Bruce Courtney

Pete Yorn

Top: Courtney Cox (L) dances with The Boss (R) in the 1984 video for “Dancing In The Dark”. Bottom: Pete Yorn circa 2018. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Pete Yorn: “Dancing In The Dark” (2001, written by Bruce Springsteen).

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 141

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?

Charlie Brown No Music No Life

(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.

On this date in 1984 Prince’s album, “Purple Rain” hit #1.  Remarkably it held that spot for 24 straight weeks until Jan 18, 1985.  Released less than two months earlier on June 25 and a month before the release of the movie by the same name on July 27, it was his first album to hit the top spot.  It was also the first time Prince credited his band, The Revolution, with assisting in the composing, arrangement and  production of a record.

The movie went on to gross 72 million dollars.  The first single from the album, “When Doves Cry”, went to #1 for five weeks straight (July 7-Aug. 10) and became the biggest song of 1984.  (Not so fun fact:  That song kept Bruce Springsteen’s single, “Dancing In The Dark” out of the top spot, leaving it in the #2 spot for three weeks before it fell to #3 on July 28.  Poor Bruce 😦  But his “Born In The USA” album would knock “Purple Rain” out of the #1 spot on Jan 19, 1985, ending its 24 week reign in that position).

By September 1984 the next single, “Let’s Go Crazy” hit #1 for two consecutive weeks.  Ultimately two more singles would be released:  the title track which peaked at #2 (and is my favorite song for a multitude of reasons but especially because of the exquisite string arrangement) and “I Would Die 4 U” which made it to #8.  The soundtrack was so popular even Sophia from “The Golden Girls” was heard singing along to the title track in the show’s first season.  I love that Prince and that show are their own pop culture reference!!!

Some of you might remember that it was this album that eventually lead to the formation of the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center) in 1985 by Tipper Gore and friends.  That was due to the sexually charged lyrics on the song, “Darling Nikki” that Gore heard when her 11 year old daughter was playing this record.  The group demanded that any music with questionable lyrics or subject matters (i.e. sex, drugs, violence and references to the occult) be sold with warning labels on them.  But even with the controversy (or perhaps because of it), the record would go on to sell over 25 million copies.  For most music lovers and Prince fans around the world, this album remains his masterpiece and I agree.  No offense towards him intended, but does anyone else but me believe he got the idea for the song from hearing the line in America’s “Ventura Highway” that goes:  “Sorry boy, but I’ve been hit by purple rain”?  🙂

I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted to one time to see you laughing
I only wanted to see you
Laughing in the purple rain“.

Prince
 (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Prince:  “Purple Rain” (1984, written by Prince).

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 138

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?

Charlie Brown No Music No Life

(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 WANT MY MTV!!!

It was 39 years ago today that this channel premiered and music was never the same again.  A station dedicated to letting the world see the music (and the people behind it) as well as hear it was revolutionary.  The rotation began with maybe 10 videos but that did not prevent me from watching it non-stop for hours at a time.  Music videos changed the game for fans and the industry alike.  But unlike streaming that has caused artists to lose control of their own copyrighted material in addition to their earnings, MTV was a money mother lode for anyone willing to climb on board the novel concept.

At first it was newer artists that appeared frequently on the channel, but eventually everyone jumped on the bandwagon.  Some ran with the concept-Hall & Oates, Huey Lewis & The News, Billy Squier, Michael Jackson-to name a few.  Soon even my heroes were embracing the genre.  Remember a pre-“Friends” Courtney Cox’s fancy footwork with Bruce Springsteen in the “Dancing In The Dark” video?  Or watching Eric Clapton’s beautiful hands play fiery solos on his Strat while singing “Pretending” in the pouring rain?  Or an elegantly dressed Marvin Gaye extolling the benefits of “Sexual Healing”?  Videos from other 1970’s artists followed including Elton John, Rod Stewart, Steve Winwood and a host of others who welcomed and embraced the new MTV audience.

Vintage clips of great musical moments were featured like the Beatles first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show”, performances from the 1967 Monterrey Pop Festival and the 1969 Woodstock concerts as well as the live broadcast of 1985’s “Live Aid” show from both America & the U.K.  Suddenly our living rooms were front row seats to the best music had to offer.  And thanks to directors from the TV & movie industries getting in on the trend (“Dressed To Kill” director Brian De Palma was the man behind Springsteen’s first clip), by the end of the decade and into the 1990’s videos became an art form.  The “Unplugged” series introduced us to the more intimate side of live performances.  Other music stations including VH1, BET and FUSE followed, but none compared to the original and its level of cool.

If there is one song that defined the early years of the MTV phenomenon, it is today’s.  While the references to homosexuals are outdated & considered offensive in this era of acceptance, and the once ground breaking channel is merely a reality show based venue in these days of YouTube and Instagram stories, this song still has the power to instantly transport those of us who were there at the beginning to the excitement of the new medium.  And to the poor choice some people made to wear sweatbands in their videos.

Now that ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
You play the guitar on the MTV
That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Money for nothing and your chicks for free“.

The MTV moon man logo circa 1981 (R) and John Illsley (bass guitarist)  and Mark Knopfler (lead guitarist) of Dire Straits circa 1985.  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Dire Straits:  “Money For Nothing” (1985, written by Mark Knopfler and Sting a/k/a Gordon Sumner).

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

Stay well.

A Clean Slate

Hello, Everybody!!!  Happy New Year!!!  Welcome 2019.

Don’t you just love the start of a new year?  It’s like seeing the world as a pristine canvas, similar to the way we see our neighborhood after the first snowfall of the year:  clean, fresh, pretty, still, pure.  And all you want to do is go outside and take in a ginormous cleansing breathe.  Or is that just me???

Vermont pinterest.jpg

Beautiful scene of Vermont in winter from Pinterest (original source unknown).

Of course, there will always be the unresolved problems and issues that carry over, and the baggage we all lug around with us is forever present.  But for a moment the new year feels inspiring, hopeful and exciting.  Our calendars are more empty than cluttered.  There are trips and vacations to plan, new three day weekends to enjoy, birthday celebrations to attend, days to relax all by ourselves, concerts or plays to see, road trips to take, estate sales to go to and vintage decor to swoon over.  These are the things I try to focus on more than setting myself up for failure with a bunch of ineffectual resolutions.  They just discourage me because all I do is picture myself failing again.  On the other hand, music is what has always inspired me.  And 2019 will not be any different.  So to begin this new year, I am giving myself some motivation.  And yes, I am talking about The Boss.  And two songs by him are always better than one…..unless that one song is “Jungleland”, of course.

For my first choice, a picked a song he wrote because of the change in his romantic life.  However, it also extended to the rest of his world and and how he needed to stop waiting for the future to change things but rather put the focus and work in to the now.  Great advice for all of us who forget the present is today and needs our time, our attention and our love.  Read:  me.

“Well my soul checked out missing as I sat listening
To the hours and minutes tickin’ away
Yeah just sittin’ around waitin’ for my life to begin
While it was all just slippin’ away
I’m tired of waitin’ for tomorrow to come
Or that train to come roarin’ round the bend”

But it’s a sad man my friend who’s livin’ in his own skin
And can’t stand the company
Every fool’s got a reason for feelin’ sorry for himself
And turning his heart to stone”

“These are better days baby
These are better days it true
These are better days
There’s better days shining through”

bruce

Bruce Springsteen:  “Better Days” (1992).

The next song is probably one of his most famous after “Born To Run” and by far his most well known video.  It was his first performance one and featured a woman who went on to become a “friend”.  It is a huge part of his live show-he stills pulls an audience member (or two or three, including some from his own family) on stage to dance with him-while the crowd sings “oh-oh-oh’s” in between the lines of the last verse of the song, and we go home with the chorus stuck in our heads.  I heard it on the radio on New Year’s Eve and it brought me back to the first few times I heard the song and felt incredibly inspired by his lyrics.  And, of course, The Boss is right-everything takes a spark to ignite.  Even ourselves, sometimes.  A point especially good to remember with the clean slate of a new year right in front of us.

I ain’t nothing but tired
Man I’m just tired and bored with myself
Hey there baby, I could use just a little help
You can’t start a fire
You can’t start a fire without a spark
This gun’s for hire
Even if we’re just dancing in the dark“.
bruce and his mom 2012
Bruce Springsteen and his mother, Adele, after dancing together on stage in 2012 (Photo by Kris Noyes/NJ.com).

Bruce Springsteen:  “Dancing In The Dark” (1984).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

All the best in 2019, Everyone!!!

Until next time, happy listening!!!