Let’s Take A Moment Day 219

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.

In 1978 SNL cast members John Belushi & Dan Aykroyd introduced us to their singing counterparts, The Blue Brothers, through the song, “Soul Man”. At one point in the tune, Belushi said “Play it, Steve”. That Steve is the innovative legendary guitarist Steve Cropper who has been gracing the world with his impeccable talent for six decades. Today marks his 79th birthday.

Born today in 1941 in Missouri, his family relocated to Memphis when he was nine. He started playing guitar at age 14 and the first band he was in went on to become a session band, The Mar-Keys. That brought Cropper to the attention of Stax Records owner Jim Stewart who hired Cropper as the label’s A&R man. Around the same time he co-founded his own group, Booker T & The MG’s with keyboard player Booker T. Jones, drummer Al Jackson Jr. and bassist Lewie Steinberg, who was eventually replaced by Donald “Duck” Dunn. That band was unique for two reasons: their trailblazing sounds which formed the foundation of southern soul music with elements of funk sounds and despite the fact that it was Memphis, Tennessee in 1962, the band was an equal balance of race with two white members and two black members.

Booker T & The MG’s became the house band at Stax and set the sound, tone & rhythm for the label, just as The Funk Brothers were doing for the Motown label in Detroit. Cropper not only played guitar for his group but started composing songs with many of the singers on Stax. He co-wrote “Knock On Wood”, “Raise Your Hand” & “634-5789” with Eddie Floyd, “In The Midnight Hour” (Day 131) with Wilson Pickett and “Mr. Pitiful”, “The Happy Song”, “Just One More Day” & “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” (Day 28) with Otis Redding. He & Cropper had become good friends and it was left to him to finish & produce “Dock Of The Bay” after Redding’s tragic death in 1967. It became a #1 hit in March 1968 for four consecutive weeks.

Cropper, who appeared in both Blues Brothers films (released in 1980 & 1998, respectively), is still actively playing & touring. He is considered to be one of the greatest guitar players of all time. He has contributed his signature sound or produced records by Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Levon Helm, Albert King, Roy Orbison, Rod Stewart, Leon Russell, Etta James. Art Garfunkel, Peter Frampton, Dolly Parton and John Mellencamp. He released 11 solo records between 1969-2018 and 13 albums with Booker T & The MG’s between 1962-1994, including today’s song which hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart & #1 on the R&B chart in 1962. It is considered one of the finest instrumentals ever recorded and I concur.

Booker T The MGs

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Top: Booker T & The MG’s circa 1962 (L-R): Donald “Duck” Dunn, Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper & Al Jackson Jr. Bottom: Cropper & his beautiful talented hands circa 2000. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Booker T & The MG’s: “Green Onions” (1962, written by Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Lewie Steinberg & Al Jackson, Jr.).

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 169

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?

Bruce quote

(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 have loved “Saturday Night Live” since I was too young to see it.  But that did not stop me from doing so by secretly watching it in my room or on the weekends when I was out of the house babysitting.  By the fall of 1981, Lorne Michaels departed as producer and a whole new group of performers replaced the “Not Ready For Prime Time Players”.  The new producer, Dick Ebersol, attempted to reclaim some of the show’s old magic by hiring the first head writer for the show, Michael O’Donoghue.  His first tenure with the show was from 1975-1977 but his second one in 1981 was even shorter because of alleged problems with the cast due to his temper (by the mid 1980’s he re-established his writing talent as a co-writer of the screenplay for SNL alumni Bill Murray’s 1988 movie, “Scrooged”).

But while he was at SNL the second time O’Donoghue wrote today’s song.  It was performed by then cast member, Christine Ebersole, in a skit with her sitting in a bar.  No comedy, just her singing this incredible song with a piano accompaniment.  I remember watching that night, listening to her voice and being completely floored by her performance and the song itself.  She went on to do a lot of other things, including plays & guest TV appearances.  In 2005 I was lucky to see her on Broadway when she played M’Lynn in “Steel Magnolias”.  She was also in one of my favorite “Will & Grace” episodes from 2001 as a rival to Karen (season 3 episode 19).

Another woman heard this song and decided to record it.  Since that women is Dolly Parton (Truvy in the 1989 “Steel Magnolias” movie) you know her version is nothing short of fabulous.  It was a top ten hit for her in 1982 and features a wonderful sax arrangement.  I have struggled for months to pick just one of her incredible songs to share, and even though she did not write this one herself, I still think it is one of her best.  And SNL may have its ups and downs, but it is moments like the one created for today’s song that keeps me tuned in week after week because I know the magic of that show is just one surprising skit away.

And it’s gettin’ near to closing
And the seconds pass like years
Lots of friends to share the laughter
Not a one to share the tears“.

Christine Ebersole on SNL in 1981 and Dolly Parton as Truvy in “Steel Magnolias” from 1989.  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Dolly Parton:  “Single Women” (1982, written by Michael O’Donoghue).

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 32

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?

music heart

(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.

Today marks the 104th birth anniversary of my beloved grandmother Ida, or as I affectionately called her, Idie.  I think about her and miss her everyday, but even more so since we have been dealing with this pandemic.  She would not have handled the self-quarantine well at all.  She barely went two days in a row without going to bingo so not being allowed to play it for all this time would have undoubtedly put her in a straight jacket by now.  But still, I wish she was still here, for all the obvious reasons.  And so I could have seen the look on her face when she found out that my dream of spending my time listening to music and watching TV all day long not only came true, but is government mandated!!!  Ha!!!  Take that, Idie!!!  LOL.

While I was growing up, we always had music on in the house and usually it was from my records.  Idie learned to like many of the songs I played including “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac and “Factory” by Bruce Springsteen.  But one hour a day, usually while we were cooking together, she made me turn off my albums so she could listen to the local country music radio station.  And that is how I discovered legends like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Don Williams, Merle Haggard and the singer of today’s song, Johnny Cash.

He was usually referred to by his nickname “the man in black” but since I first heard him on the radio, that did not really tell me anything other than his preferred garment color.  But his voice and his songs told me all I needed to know about him.  Yes, he was one of the greatest musical talents to ever exist but he was also my first introduction to a true crossover artist.

He sang everything from country songs to religious hymns, to Americana music (like “The Battle Hymn of The Republic”) to covers of  songs by rock artists like Bob Dylan (“It Ain’t Me Babe”), The Rolling Stones (“No Expectations”) and The Band (“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”).  He was also on TV and not just as a musical guest.  He appeared in an episode of  “Little House On The Prairie” as a bad guy turned good guy after meeting the pious people of Walnut Grove.  And he was mentioned in a few “Golden Girls” episodes.  My favorite one is a quip by Dorothy after she & Sophia walk in the house wearing dark clothes and Rose is, as usual, confused.

Rose:  “Why are you both wearing black?  Did you just come from a funeral?

Dorothy:  “No, Rose.  We were singing back up for Johnny Cash”.

He continued to make incredible music for the rest of his life, on his own and as a member of the supergroup, The Highwaymen.  He also covered more rock songs by Neil Young (“Heart of Gold”), Nine Inch Nails (“Hurt) and U2 (“One”).  And he continued to act, most notably on “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” with the great love of his life, June, by his side.  I grew up believing there wasn’t anything Cash could not sing or do.  He proved me right.  I am so thankful I discovered his music, all because my grandmother brought country songs into my world.  Thank you, Idie.  And happy birthday.  xoxox

Johnny Cash "Folsom Prison Blues" 7 inch Album Cover

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Johnny Cash:  “Folsom Prison Blues” (1955, written by Johnny Cash).

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 15

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?

music heart

(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.

Today’s song has been covered by a variety of artists such as Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, Paul Young & Rod Stewart.  But my absolute favorite one is by the woman who defined the cool rock chick persona in the 1970’s with her unmistakable powerful gorgeous passionate voice.  But her talent and love of singing was too big to be confined to one genre.  In her 45 year career she has sold over 100 million records which included country, mexican, big band, broadway and pop songs.  She has also collaborated with many artists, most notably with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris on the country “Trio” albums and Aaron Neville on hits like “Don’t Know Much”, “All My Life” and “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby”.  Her contribution to music is immeasurable and despite her retirement from performing in 2011 she remains one of the greatest female singers of all time.

Linda

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Linda Ronstadt:  “Love Has No Pride” (1973, written by Eric Kaz & Libby Titus).

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

Stay well.

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2019: Day 20

Welcome back to the countdown!!!

A Christmas hello from me and jolly ol’ St. Nick!!!

day 19

Found on Pinterest (original source unknown).  

A common theme in many Christmas songs is going home for the holiday.  For many people, the sentimental pull of family gatherings, traditions we learned as children and the nostalgia invoked from seeing decorations we either made or put on the tree when we were kids is just too much to resist.  Of course, for many the stress of too much family togetherness is enough of an issue to skip the trip home.  Some have committed to defending our country so home is on the other side of the world.  And for others, there is no home to go to.  But the one thing we all have access to is the music of Christmas.  That may help us all find a memory that takes us back home, if only in our dreams.

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Michael Bublé:  “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” (2011, written by Kim Gannon, Walter Kent and Buck Ram circa 1943).

And for a very pretty female take on this song, my choice is by the second funniest woman in one of my all time favorite movies, “9 to 5”.  And she only came in second because Lily Tomlin is a comedic genius.  So I am sure Dora Lee Rhodes understands completely why she is my number two.

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Dolly Parton:  “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” (1990, written by Kim Gannon, Walter Kent and Buck Ram circa 1943).

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!!!

Golden Globes 2019

Hello, Everyone!!!  Did you watch the Golden Globe Awards last night?

Don’t you just love awards show season???  I do.  I adore it.  I love the escape into a dress up ball I will never get to go to but will always have a front row seat to every year.  I find out about new TV shows and movies I have not heard about yet like “The Wife” which led to Glenn Close’s win for Best Actress in a Drama.  I have loved her since “The Big Chill” & “The World According To Garp”.  Her acceptance speech was empowering to every woman watching her, wherever they watched her from.

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Glenn Close accepting her Best Actress in a Drama award (Getty Images).  

I also love getting to see some of my favorite people in Hollywood.  Like “The Dude” himself, Jeff Bridges, who won the Cecil B. DeMille Award (and looked unbelievably gorgeous doing so).

Golden Globe Awards - Season 76

Jeff Bridges accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award (Getty Images)

And Sandra Oh & Andy Samberg who were hilarious as the hosts of the evening.  I always liked her on “Grey’s Anatomy” & he killed me in his regular “Saturday Night Live” skit, In The Cage with Nicholas Cage, where Samberg impersonated-you guessed it-Nicholas Cage.

And two of my favorite funny ladies, Amy Poehler & Maya Rudolph.   They always make me laugh till I ache.

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Amy Poehler & Maya Rudolph sharing an intimate & hilarious moment (Getty Images)

And speaking of funny ladies, how about the Grand Dame of Comedy herself, Carol Burnett???  Not too many people have awards named for them.  But not too many people set the bar as high as she did.  But it was sad when she talked about how her show would never make it to air today.   Sometimes progress isn’t all it is cracked up to be.  What a tragedy it would have been if this woman never got the chance to share her meteoric talent & gifts with all of us!!!

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Carol Burnett accepting the first award named for her (Getty Images)

Then there is the red carpet.  I love to see all the fashion.  Here are some of my favorite looks of the night.  The first two are the ones I loved the most.  Soooo pretty.

 

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Kiki Layne in a dreamy pink custom Dior dress (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images). 

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One of my favorite “Community” alums, Alison Brie, in a beautiful Vera Wang gown with an embellished bralette (Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock).  

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Keri Russell & Matthew Rhys (Ftazer Harrison/Getty Images).   

76th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 06 Jan 2019

Irina Shayk & Bradley Cooper (Steve Granitz/WireImage).   

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Alaina Meyer & Johnny Galecki (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images).  

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Katherine Ross & her swooon-worthy man, Sam Elliot (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images).  

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Chrishell Stause & Justin Hartley (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images).  

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Another of my “Community” faves, Ken Jeong & his wife Tran Jeong (Steve Granitz/WireImage).   

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Joanna Newsom & Andy Samberg (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP).    

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Susan & Jeff Bridges (Getty Images).  

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Maya Rudolph & Amy Poehler (Getty Images)

I firmly believe Dolly Parton’s song. “The Girl In The Movies” (which she co-wrote with Linda Perry for the Netflix film “Dumplin’ “) should have won the award for Best Original Song In A Motion Picture.  It has a great message of empowerment,  gives hope to those of us who might be thinking our time to shine is over (or worse, might never come) and Parton delivers a vocal with so much passion we know her own rags to riches story is part of where this song originated from.  And it is Dolly freakin’ Parton, for crying out loud!!!

“I want to be the girl in the movies

Wish I had a nickel for each dime I’ve spent
Watching others live their lives with confidence
Here’s a preview of some things to come
It’s not too late for me to be someone
I can’t keep living in their make-believe
Coming attractions will be starring me

Gonna stand up
And I’m gonna matter
‘Cause I’ve had enough of my dreams being shattered
And I’ve had enough of my tears being splattered
I’ve already been that girl

I want to shine (I want to shine)
I want to shine (I’m gonna shine)
It’s my time
And I want to shine
I want to be happy, I want to be free
Just like the girl in the movies”.

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

Until next time, happy watching & listening!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Songs: Day 6

 

Hi, Vixens!!!  Welcome back to the countdown!!!

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I have been a fan of this woman’s since I was a kid.  After Aretha Franklin, she is my favorite female singer.  From the first time I heard “You’re No Good” I was hooked and never looked back.  After that came album after album of original music and covers of songs written by the likes of Warren Zevon (“Poor Poor Pitiful Me”), Smokey Robinson (“The Tracks of My Tears”), Chuck Berry (“Back In The USA”). Holland-Dozier-Holland (“Heatwave”), Eric Kaz & Libby Titus (“Love Has No Pride“-my absolute favorite version of this song), Phil Everly (“When Will I Be Loved”), Mick Jagger & Keith Richards (“Tumbling Dice”) and many others.

Despite being called “The Queen of Rock”, she has sung practically every type of music imaginable-rock, pop, country (I adore her “Trio” albums with Dolly Parton & Emmylou Harris), jazz, big band/standards (with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra) and Mexican.  She was also in one of my favorite movies ever (“FM”) and on Broadway (in “The Pirates of Penzance”).

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THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, Linda Ronstadt, 1983, (c)Universal

She retired in 2011 and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.  She did not appear at the ceremony due to her announcement a year earlier that she could no longer sing as a result of Parkinson’s Disease.  Such a sad ending to her unbelievably powerful voice, enormous talent and incredibly lustrous career that earned her 11 Grammy Awards, 3 American Music Awards, 2 Academy of Country music Awards and many other accolades.

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Linda Ronstadt circa 1975 (original source unknown).

Before her HOF induction, Rhino Records put together a collection of duets with some of her previous collaborators and influences, many of whom happen to be some of the top female voices in history and several more of my favorites.  Two of the songs are covers from the movie “White Christmas.  I already love her solo version of  “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas“, but now I have added the two movie songs to my list.  One has nothing to do with Christmas, but since it was in the movie, I believe it qualifies for the countdown.

Linda Ronstadt and Rosemary Clooney:  “White Christmas

Linda Ronstadt and Bette Midler:  “Sisters“.

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!!!

 

Song Sung Two

Hi again, Vixens!!!  Thanks for tuning in for the second song of the Christmas season.

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Ogden City Village, Utah

Today’s tune dates back to 1943.  It has been covered by singers like Perry Como to Frank Sinatra to Kelly Clarkson to Michael Buble.  With so many diverse artists covering it in the last 70 years, a lot of people do not realize that the roots of the song go back to World War II and the soldiers stationed overseas who could not be home to celebrate the holiday with their families.  Hence, the last line of the song:  “I’ll be home for Christmas if only in my dreams”.  And with so many of our servicemen and women still serving our country on foreign soil far away from their families, the song’s original meaning holds true for them today.

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New York, 1942 Photo by Alfred Eisenstaed

At this moment, the song can be used as a prayer for the people of Tennessee who have either lost their homes or have been forced out of them because of the horrific wildfires raging near Gatlinburg.  So it was easy to pick the version of today’s song by the Tennessee native who just set up a fund to help the people of her home state who have lost everything because of those fires.  Not surprising for this powerhouse of a woman who is a singer, songwriter, musician, actress and author.  This year marked not only her 70th birthday but her 50th anniversary as an entertainer as well.  One of her other major humanitarian projects, “Imagination Library“, has provided close to 80 million free books to children.

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Courtesy of Imagination Library

She is also one third of an unbelievably great “Trio” and starred in two of my all-time favorite movies, “9 to 5” and “Steel Magnolias“.

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STEEL MAGNOLIAS, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Daryl Hannah, Dolly Parton, 1989

Dora Lee & Truvy.

Sa-woon x 2 on day 2!!!

So as you listen to her beautiful rendition of this song, please say a prayer for our servicemen and women & all the people being displaced by the wildfires.  Let’s hope they are all safe at home soon.

Dolly Parton:  I’ll Be Home For Christmas.

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

Until next time, fellow Vixens, happy listening!!!

trees

 

Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #10

The next song on my list is dedicated to my mother who was a big fan of the singer in the #10 spot on my countdown.  His dance moves on stage earned him the nickname “Mr. Excitement” by some and “the black Elvis” by others. But make no mistake:  This man had a voice like no one else before or after him.  The singer?  Jackie Wilson.  The song?  “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher”.

Reaching #6 on the charts in 1967 & written by Gary Jackson and Carl Smith, rumor has it that Wilson recorded the vocal track for this song in one take.  If that is true, it is an incredible testament to his magnificent voice and talent.  He had an astonishing 47 R&B hit songs from 1958 to 1973.  They ran the gamut from ballads to dance tunes to true soul numbers. He was so popular overseas in 1963 that the Beatles opened for one of Wilson’s shows.

“Higher & Higher” is as close to perfect as a song gets, from its perfectly delivered lyrics, to its great impossible-to-sit-still-to-so-get-up-and-move beat, to the incredibly pristine horn arrangements, to the fantastic bass line, to the polish of the entire production. There are not too many love songs like this one, probably because there are not too many performers like Wilson.

His exuberant stage performances were copied by the likes of James Brown, Michael Jackson and Bruno Mars, to name a few.  But no matter how great his dance moves were, nothing compared with the range, power, intensity and considerable passion of Wilson’s voice.

Sadly, that voice was silenced in 1984 when Wilson was just 49 years old.  He became incapacitated after suffering a heart attack on stage in 1975 and spent his remaining years in a nursing home.  As was unfortunately common practice in the early days of Rock & Roll, Wilson died virtually penniless due to the machinations of his record company and manager.  The end of Wilson’s story is one of the saddest in music history.

He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 by Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band.

Notable covers of “Higher & Higher” have been done by Dolly Parton, Rita Coolidge, and Rod Stewart.  But my favorite cover is by one of my heroes (and future husband, if God is listening), Bruce Springsteen.  He started playing this song live with more and more frequency in the last decade, usually as one of his encores.  He and the E Street Band gave it everything they had in this clip from one of their shows in 2009.

Enjoy!!!