25 Days Of Christmas Music 2021: Day 12

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the countdown.

13

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

This song is a yearly tradition I learned from David Letterman. He reintroduced this woman’s tremendously versatile incredibly powerful voice to his audience in the 1980’s & continued to do so every year until he retired in 2015. It created a ripple effect that finally helped this singer get the recognition she so greatly deserved. And that is just one of the many debts I owe that witty sarcastic smart wonderful funny talented adorable man.

Pretty lights on the tree
I’m watching them shine
You should be here with me
Baby please come home
“.

dave

Darlene Love with David Letterman circa 2010. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Darlene Love: “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” (1963, written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector).

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, happy listening!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2021: Day 1

Happy December, everybody!!!

December

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

We have officially arrived at the Christmas season so what better way to celebrate this festive time of year than with a daily countdown of great holiday songs to usher in the big day. All are welcome even if you are not a fan of this type of music or you do not celebrate the holiday, Great music of any kind is meant to be enjoyed by all.

If today’s song does not immediately make you think of Will Ferrell in yellow tights, then you have not watched his 2003 movie, “Elf”, nearly enough times. This song is playing as he & his newly discovered little brother are jumping on beds at Gimbels Department Store. The moment simultaneously introduced a whole new generation to the magic of Stevie Wonder. Both Darlene Love and Michael McDonald do fantastic versions of this tune, but who can really compare to the eighth Wonder of the world?

I feel like runnin’ wild
As anxious as a little child
To greet you ‘neath the mistletoe
Kiss you once and then some more
“.

S Wonder

Elf soda

Top: Stevie Wonder circa 1975. Bottom (L-R): Daniel Tay (Michael) and Will Ferrell (Buddy) as everyone’s favorite elf downing a two liter bottle of Coke in one eighth of a second. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Stevie Wonder: “What Christmas Means To Me” (1967, written by Anna Gaye, George Gordy and Allen Story).

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, happy listening!!!

Let’s Take A Moment Day 319

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?

Shakespeare music

(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.

When Fiorello La Guardia became NYC’s mayor in 1933, one of his first acts was to ban burlesque shows in the city. This caused Hurtig and Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater to close its doors after nearly twenty years in business. While this was obviously a bad thing for that show, it turned out to be one of the greatest blessings in musical history. A year later, on January 26, 1934, that venue was reborn as The Apollo Theatre.

From its first amateur night to the features of major musical performers, The Apollo stage has hosted the best artists in swing, bebop, jazz, gospel, blues, R&B and soul. In the 1930’s Billie Holiday, Lena Horne & the Count Basie Orchestra made their debuts there. The next decade featured Amateur Night winners like Sarah Vaughn and Ruth Brown. In the 1950’s James Brown was discovered the same way and “Showtime At The Apollo” began. That decade also saw the premiers of jazz greats Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk.

The 1960’s featured numerous shows by Stax & Motown artists. In 1972 John Lennon & Yoko Ono took part in a benefit concert there to help families of the inmates who were shot during the Attica Prison riots in 1971 (Admit it-now you hear Al Pacino in your head screaming “Attica!” “Attica!” from the movie, “Dog Day Afternoon”, right?)

The Apollo closed briefly in the late 1970’s but reopened in 1981. That decade brought about the debut of the television show, “Showtime at the Apollo”. For 87 years the theater located on W 125th Street in Harlem has been a beacon for legendary music & comedians. My parents are part of that history as they were there at a show in the 1960’s to see one of my mother’s favorite singers, Jackie Wilson. Today’s song is one of the biggest hits of his career and always reminds me of how lucky my parents were to see this man live during the height of his fame.

And in a great example of symmetry, I saw my own musical hero Bruce Springsteen play this song in concert several times (one of his best versions was with an all star band at The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame’s 25th anniversary concert in 2009). Dolly Parton did a gospel inspired country version of it as well in 1977. But today’s track features an electrifying horn arrangement & music by The Funk Brothers so that makes it the premiere version of this incredible song.

Now once I was downhearted
Disappointment was my closest friend
But then you came and he soon departed
And you know he never showed his face again
“.

Jackie Wilson

“Mr. Excitement” Jackie Wilson circa 1960. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Aretha at Apollo

The marquee’s announcement of The Queen Of Soul’s return to The Apollo Theater in New York City on June 3, 1971. (Tyrone Dukes/The New York Times).  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Jackie Wilson: “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher” (1967, written by Gary Jackson, Raynard Miner, and Carl Smith).

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 285

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?

Shakespeare 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.

Oscar Levant said, “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity”. In music history one person who crossed that line was Phil Spector, who turns 80 years old today. Born December 26, 1940 in the Bronx, NY, he was highly regarded as the industry’s first auteur and the inventor of one of the defining sounds of the 1960’s. But there is no denying his story has a sad tragic ending. In 2009 he was convicted of the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson, which carried a 19 year sentence that will most likely end his life in jail (he will not be eligible for parole until 2024). In 2014 he lost his voice due to an illness that paralyzed his vocal chords and he is also reportedly suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

During Spector’s two trials (the first one ended in a mistrial because of a hung jury) his lawyers argued that his mental decline began in 1974 after he was badly injured in a car crash where he was thrown through the windshield. The serious head injuries he suffered required several hours of surgery with over 700 stitches to his face and the back of his head. He lost his father to suicide when Spector was only nine plus there were reports he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder at some point in his life. However, there was no mention of any type of drug regimen for that illness. None of this justifies the actions he allegedly took which led to Clarkson’s death, but I think anyone who draws a firearm to get someone’s attention as he was reported to have done on more than one occasion is not someone who is of sound mind. For more insight into Spector’s world throughout the trials, I recommend the 2013 HBO movie about him starring Al Pacino. He is riveting in the title role as Spector.

But there is also no denying how powerful his reach was in music. In 1960 he became the youngest person (to that date) to own a record label when he co-founded Philles Records with Lester Sill. Spector was primarily known as a record producer but he was also a musician and songwriter of hits like “To Know Him Is To Love Him”, “Walking In The Rain”, “Chapel Of Love”, “Spanish Harlem” and “Then He Kissed Me”, amongst others. He created the “Wall Of Sound” behind such groups as The Teddy Bears, The Ronettes and The Righteous Brothers. And it was Spector who took the songs from the Let It Be sessions and gave us the album of the same name. Whether you appreciated his work on that record or not, without him who knows how long it would have taken for that music to be released. And that was the album that made me fall head over heels in love with The Fab Four, so I cannot help but be grateful to Spector in that respect.

He also worked a lot with John Lennon (as co-producer of several of his solo albums including 1971’s Imagine) & George Harrison (as co-producer of All Things Must Pass and The Concert For Bangladesh, which won Spector his only Grammy Award for Album Of The Year in 1972). He also worked with The Ramones and had fans throughout the industry including Bruce Springsteen, who has often said he worked on his Born To Run album as if he were trying to recreate Spector’s signature sound. He is amongst only a handful of producers to have a number one record in three consecutive decades (1950s, 1960s and 1970s). That is an incredible feat.

Spector’s touch & influence on my musical choices is so clear that without putting any conscience effort into it, I have already shared six songs connected to him. One was produced by him (“Let It Be” Day 26), another was co-produced by him (George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”, Day 252) & four were written/co-written by Spector: Darlene Love’s “River Deep, Mountain High” (Day 77) & “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” (Day 278), The Ronettes “Be My Baby (Day 147) and The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” (Day 187).

I chose today’s track not only because Spector co-produced it but because it is from my favorite Beatle, George Harrison. And I also love the message of this song that whatever is happening, whatever we are going through, it is only temporary. This, too, shall pass.

Now the darkness only stays the nighttime
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good
At arriving at the right time
It’s not always gonna be this gray
“.

George Phil 1964

George and Phil 1971

Top: George Harrison (L) and Phil Spector (R) circa 1964. Bottom: Harrison (L) and Spector (R) in the studio in 1971. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

George Harrison: “All Things Must Pass” (1970, written by George Harrison).

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 278

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?

Dec 19

(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.

Six days before Christmas in 2014, I was still struggling with David Letterman’s decision to retire from “The Late Show” the following year when the moment I knew was coming arrived: The last appearance from Darlene Love to sing today’s song. It was a long standing holiday tradition dating back to 1986 (then on “Late Night With David Letterman” on NBC) for Love to come on and tear the roof of the place with her mighty voice every December. It was as much a part of my Christmas traditions as watching The Peanuts dance during the rehearsals for their holiday play. So the end of this era was going to hurt big time.

But Letterman was always a class act on his show and this night was no exception. He pulled out all the stops and had the entire stage set up for Love’s song. There was a huge gorgeous tree & other sparkly decorations, a full band complete with horns, strings & ten back up singers with everyone dressed in their holiday best. Paul Shaffer played a decorated grand piano which Love stood upon to sing the second half of the song as well as the encore. The performance closed out that night’s episode as a reign of faux snow fell down on everyone present. It was one of the show’s truly bittersweet moments for everyone involved including broken-hearted fans like me. And I remember that moment & how great it felt to be a member of Dave’s world every time I hear this song. U2 does a great version, too, but even Bono’s unbelievable voice is no match for the power of Love.

They’re singing Deck The Halls
But it’s not like Christmas at all
I remember when you were here
And all the fun we had last year
“.

darlene-love-letterman

Darlene Love (center on top of the piano) from her final appearance on Letterman’s show in 2014. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Darlene Love: “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” (Live performance from “The Late Show With David Letterman” on December 19, 2014. Originally released in 1963, written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich & Phil Spector).

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 77

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.

Happy first day of June.  Let’s hope this is the month that finally turns 2020 around.  Perhaps we should start it off with a little extra Love.  Take it away, Darlene.

Love     Darlene Love circa 2010.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Darlene Love:  “River Deep, Mountain High” (Performed live on The Late Show With David Letterman in 2007.  Recorded in 2004, written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector).

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

Stay well.

My Top 10 Halloween Songs

Happy Halloween, everyone!!!

mantel

Courtesy of Pinterest & ehomedecors.com (original source unknown)

You know for me it is all about the music, so I could not let this holiday pass without honoring it with my favorite songs (in no particular order), which are guaranteed to put you in a  Halloween mood.

1.  “I Put A Spell On You” (1956, written by Jalacy “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins).

 

bette

(Original source unknown)

The songwriter’s own version from 1956 is a powerful number all on its own.  But, there are several unbelievably intense & stunning covers you cannot miss by Nina Simone (1965), Annie Lennox (2014), Them featuring Van Morrison (1966), Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968), Chaka Khan (2019) and of course, Winifred Sanderson a/k/a  Bette Midler (1993) from the film “Hocus Pocus”.

2.  “Sympathy for the Devil” – The Rolling Stones (1968, written by Mick Jagger & Keith Richards).

Rolling Stones

(Original source unknown)

From the opening beats of the congas combined with Jagger’s first scream, the Stones pull you into this masterpiece and refuse to let you go.  And honestly, you would not want to leave anyway.  There are several covers out there by respectable artists, but compared to the original they really are not even worth mentioning.

3.  “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” – The Charlie Daniels Band (1979, written by the Charlie Daniels Band). 

charlie daniels

(Original source unknown)

A fantastically fun song.  But how can a song about the devil be fun, you ask?  Just include a contest with a human, a ,smoking hot fiddle player and lyrics like “Chicken in a bread pan pickin’ out dough, Granny, does your dog bite? No child, no!” and you are all set.  Personal note:  This song is featured in one of my favorite episodes of “The Drew Carey Show” (season 2, episode 5:  “The Devil, You Say”) guest starring Grant Shaud (“Murphy Brown’s” Miles Silverberg) convinced he is the prince of darkness in the living flesh.  Watch it if you can find it.  I couldn’t. 

4.  “Werewolves of London” – Warren Zevon (1978, written by Warren Zevon, LeRoy Marinell & Waddy Wachtel).

warren zevon

(Original source unknown)

Zevon referred to this as a novelty song, and if that is so, it is undoubtedly one of the best of all time.  How could it not be with an opening line like “I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand”.  Wouldn’t that make a great costume???!!!  Adam Sandler did a more than respectable cover of this song on the 2004 Zevon tribute album, “Eat Every Sandwich”.  And you thought Sandler only sang about Hanukah!!!

5.  “Spooky” –Atlanta Rhythm Section (1979, written by Mike Shapiro and Harry Middlebrooks Jr,)

ARS 1

(Original source unknown)

I adored this band from the first time I heard “So Into You” but fell in L-O-V-E with them thanks to “Imaginary Lover“.  It still makes me swoon.  But I digress.  Two members of the group, Dean Daughtry and James B. Cobb, Jr-who were previously members of the band which first recorded this song, the Classics IV-decided to record another version with their new group.  Two other versions you cannot miss are by Joan Osborne   (1998) and Dusty Springfield (1970).

6.  “Season of the Witch” – Donovan (1966, written by Donovan and Shawn Phillips).

scary stories

(Original source unknown)

I am not a fan of folk Donavan, but psychedelic rock Donavan is a different story.  The music is undeniably from the late 1960’s but his vocals transcend the era.  There is some weight and a whole lot of feeling behind them that keeps up with the music perfectly so as not to be outdone.  If you can forgive the one dated reference to beatniks, you can enjoy this song anytime, but it is perfect for this time of year.  Al Kooper & Stephen Stills’ cover is a guitar & brass spin on the original and is absolutely worth a listen.  And if you are planning to see the movie “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”  you will hear a new version of the song by Lana Del Ray which is very well done.

7.  “Black Magic Woman” – Fleetwood Mac (1968, written by Peter Green).

Peter Green

(Original source unknown)

If you are a fan of this band you know they formed years before Lindsay Buckingham & Stevie Nicks joined them.  Peter Green was one of the founding members of the group  and wrote and recorded this song with them in 1968.  Prior to Fleetwood Mac he was a member of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, joining them to fill the void left by Eric Clapton’s departure.  This song became more famous when it was covered by  Santana  in 1970 which featured Gregg Rolie on vocals.  He went on to join Journey, leading to him being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with each band.

8.  “Superstition” – Stevie Wonder (1972, written by Stevie Wonder).

stevie 1

(Original source unknown)

The lyrics may evoke fear and trepidation, but the music is nothing but mesmerizing, from the opening drum beats to the synthesizer bass to the tenor sax and more.  It is a banquet of sounds that, as the line goes, keeps you in a daydream.   For an equally funky version, give Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble’s version from 1986 a listen.  It does not disappoint.  Wonder even participated in the video for Vaughn’s version by appearing at the end and singing a line from the song……..with a black cat in his arms.  Fabulous.

9.  “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” – Denmark & Winter  (2016, written by Buck Dharma).

denmark

(Original source unknown)

Of course, Blue Oyster Cult’s 1976 original version is a classic, and that was years before the SNL cowbell skit.  But the indie band’s evocative stripped down version with its slower pace brings this song to a whole new level of intensity and beauty.

10.   Monster Mash” – Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers (1962, written by Bobby Pickett & Lenny Capizzi). 

MonsterMash

(Original source unknown)

How can this not be on the list???  It is the embodiment of the holiday AND it has Darlene Love on backing vocals!!!  I grew up listening to this song every Halloween season thanks to my mom.  She would play it over and over again while we danced around the living room.  That is how I learned you are never too old for this holiday.  Two cover versions that are almost as popular as the original are by Vincent Price (1977) and Alvin & the Chipmunks ( 1994).     

Honorable mention:  “Psycho Killer” – The Talking Heads (1977, written by the Talking Heads).

Once the little hairs on the back of your neck relax after taking in the title of this song, the rest of your body becomes entranced by the remarkable baseline underscoring Byrne’s vocals in English and French punctuated by his fa-fa-fa’s.  Just genius.

What songs do you love for Halloween?

I hope your holiday is filled with more treats than tricks!!!

i got a rock.jpg(Courtesy of Charles M. Schulz/United Feature Syndicate)   

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

Until next time, happy listening!!!

 

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2018: Day 23

Hi, Everybody!!!  Welcome back to the countdown.

Day 23

Courtesy of bhg.com.

Today’s song was written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich & Phil Spector.  It did not have chart success in either the year it was originally released-1963-or the one where it was reissued-1964.  But it did have Cher on backing vocals (along with west coast girl group The Blossoms) and Sonny Bono on percussion (as part of the group, The Wrecking Crew).

Dedicated to all our service men and women who cannot be home with their loved ones and families this year.  Praying you all make it back safely for Christmas 2019.

Darleme love

Darlene Love:  “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” (1963 studio version).

***** Since it is not Christmas to me until I see her perform this on “The Late Show with David Letterman”, here is the video from her last appearance on  2014.  With all due respect to the immensely talented Rockettes, that night the “Christmas Spectacular” was in The Ed Sullivan Theater and not Radio City Musical Hall.

*****And since I am feeling nostalgic, here is the clip from her first appearance on Dave’s show (1986).

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, happy listening!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Music: Day 12

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

perfect-snowman

(Original source unknown)

When the original version of this song came out in 1958, the singer was only 13 years old.  For nearly 60 years it has been a holiday staple.  I like it a lot, but there are two covers of this song I enjoy as well.  Then I remembered my favorite version of this song, which I could not get enough of when I was kid.

I have included all four here today so you may choose your favorite.  But for me and the rest of the little girls who grew up thinking someday they would marry David Cassidy,  the Partridge Family version is dedicated to you.

Here is to our dreams of youth, and for getting the chance to relive them however briefly each time we hear one of these songs.  RIP Keith.  We all still love you!!!

Partridge 1

(Original source unknown)

Partridge 2

(Original source unknown)

The Partridge Family:  “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” (1971)

Brenda Lee:  “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” (original 1958)

Ronnie Spector & Darlene Love:  “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” from (1992)

Bill Haley & The Comets:  “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” (1968)

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!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Songs: Day 3

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

tree

(original source unknown)

Several musical genres define the 1960’s:  Rock & Roll, Motown, The Beatles, The British Invasion, the San Francisco sound and the Wall of Sound-a technique which layered music tracks for a song to give the music a deeper sound.  Introduced to the world courtesy of songwriter and producer Phil Spector, the sound would become synonymous with his premier girl groups like the Teddy Bears, the Crystals and the Ronettes whose song “Be My Baby” stands as a definitive example of the unique sound Spector created.

He worked with men too, most notably the Righteous Brothers on “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling“, the Walker Brothers on “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” and the Beatles (he was responsible for finishing the “Let It Be” album after the group broke up).  He also co-produced four of John Lennon’s solo albums & three of George Harrison’s, as well as several of their singles.  Bruce Springsteen channeled the Wall of Sound sound on his epic “Born To Run” album while his bandmate/best friend Steven Van Zandt regularly features Spector produced records on his “Underground Garage” radio show.

Spector album

(original source unknown)

In 1963 Spector released an album of holiday songs which were given the Wall of Sound treatment.  Entitled “A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector” , it featured primarily all women, two of whom are my favorite female singers of all time:  Darlene Love & Ronnie Spector.  So to avoid making a difficult choice, I am including a song from each to share with you today.  Enjoy!!!

Darlene Love:  “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)“.

Darlene Love

Darlene Love circa 1963 (original source unknown)

The Ronettes “Sleigh Ride“.

Ronettes

The Ronettes circa 1963 (original source unknown)

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!!!