Music Monday: January 23, 2023

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

Bruce quote 2023

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

One of the newest members of The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame celebrated birthday #77 last week. Dolly Parton was born January 19, 1946 in Sevier County, Tennessee. She joined fellow country superstars Hank Williams and Johnny Cash who were also recognized for their contributions to music history without being defined by one genre.

The Rock Hall’s introduction of Parton-“In a career spanning six decades, she has recorded more than 50 studio albums and, by her own estimation, written nearly 3,000 songs”-limit her talents to musician, singer and songwriter. Those are certainly impressive roots but only the first part of her story. She is so much more than just three things. She is a wife (who has spent many years honoring her husband’s wish for privacy), an actress (9 to 5 and Steel Magnolias are my favorites), an author, a businesswoman, a humantitarian (her Imagination Library is such an incredible mission) plus she has her own resort & theme park, Dollywood. She seems to grow in popularity every day, hitting three billion worldwide streams in 2021, according to her website. That is a massive reach but not surprising for a woman who has written some incredible songs, including today’s.

It was released nearly 50 years ago in October 1973, yet it is still one of the defining songs of Parton’s career. And it shows us all that a throw down is not always the way to go when confronting someone trying to hurt you. Maybe, just maybe, an honest conversation reminding them that even if they can cause you pain, perhaps they will choose not to.

I had to have this talk with you
My happiness depends on you
And whatever you decide to do
Jolene”.

Dolly Parton circa 2019. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Dolly Parton: “Jolene” (1973, written by Dolly Parton).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: October 17, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Earlier this month we said goodbye to The First Lady Of Country Music, Loretta Lynn. The woman who grew up in the rural hills of Kentucky went to the top of the charts and the box office in a life that spanned 90 years, with 60 of them as one of the strongest female pillars country music ever saw. Lynn wrote her own phenomenal chapter of the American dream. According to her website, she did that through 24 number one singles, 45 million singles sold and countless awards & accolades.

From her first album in 1963 she had a voice and a flair for translating the honest moments from her life into universal tales that spoke to her audience whether it was her husband’s drinking (“Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind), her first number one record in 1967), or another woman trying to come between them (“You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man), to her choice to take birth control into her own hands (“The Pill”), to her life as a southern girl (“Blue Kentucky Girl”) to her feelings about the Vietnam War (“Dear Uncle Sam”). She credited Patsy Cline as a mentor and influence and even had the chance to become friends with her before Cline died in 1963. And Lynn’s duets with Conway Twitty were some of the most popular and successful in country music in the 1970’s. She became a living legend in that genre all while still raising her six children.

In 2004 musician Jack White of The White Stripes produced Lynn’s 42nd solo studio album, Van Lear Rose. She wrote all the songs for it, with one co-credited to her late husband, Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn and another co-written with White. They promoted their duet, “Portland Oregon” on several platforms including a performance on “The Late Show With David Letterman“. White helped introduce her music to a new audience and Lynn continued her legacy as one of country music’s most revered and talented artists. She matched White note for note with a voice that still had all the strength and power of her early recordings. Their collaboration earned the pair two Grammy Awards in 2005: Best Country Collaboration with Vocals and Best Country Album.

I grew up listening to her thanks to my grandmother’s love for that genre. And she identified with Lynn because their early stories were so similar. My grandmother was a young bride, too (she got married when she was 18) and could relate to the struggles of learning about life, love & marriage at a time where most young women were completely in the dark about what to expect about any of that. Here were two women born twenty years apart in two different worlds who shared a similar background told in a song. That is the power of music. And that was the power of just one Loretta Lynn song out of the immemse catalog she blessed us with. Rest in peace to a true American artist and legend.

Well I was born a coal miner’s daughter
In a cabin on a hill in Butcher Holler
We were poor but we had love
That’s the one thing that daddy made sure of
He shoveled coal to make a poor man’s dollar
“.

Loretta Lynn

Loretta Lynn family

Loretta Lynn Sissy Spacek

Loretta Lynn Jack White

Loretta Dolly

A few snippets of Loretta Lynn’s extraordinary life (top to bottom): Lynn outside a Tennessee post office circa 1980; with her husband Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn and their twin daughters Peggy and Patsy (known as The Lynns today) at their Hurricane Mills, TN home circa 1971; with actress Sissy Spacek circa 2010, the 30th anniversary of the release of Lynn’s biopic, “Coal Miner’s Daughter”; in 2004 with musician Jack White who produced her 2004 album, “Van Lear Rose” and in the 1980’s with fellow country icon & friend, Dolly Parton. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Loretta Lynn: “Coal Miner’s Daughter” (1970, written by Loretta Lynn).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: September 5, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Today we observe Labor Day in the United States. Whether you work the hours referenced in today’s song or any other schedule, whether you do it in a store, an office, on the road, outside or from home, whether you are considered white collar, blue collar or no collar, you are a laborer. A person that makes this country run. Every. Single. Day. We are, as John Lennon sang, working class heroes. May this day of rest-if you are able to observe it-be one of leisure, peace or whatever down time means to you.

Tumble outta bed and
I stumble to the kitchen
Pour myself a cup of ambition and
Yawn & stretch & try to come to life
“.

Labor

Dolly movie

Top: Telephone operators at the turn of the 20th century. Bottom: Dolly Parton on the phone in the 1980 movie, “9 to 5”. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Dolly Parton: “9 to 5” (1980, written by Dolly Parton).

Stay safe and well.

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2021: Day 25

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the countdown.

Day 25

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate. May you find comfort in the peace, joy & meaning of the season.

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
“.

dolly

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Dolly Parton: “Joy To The World” (1990, Traditional).

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!!!

Music Monday: November 29, 2021

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Before we get to this week’s song, I wanted to let you know that beginning December 1, I will once again feature my 25 Days Of Christmas Music series. I would love for you to join me. And please share your favorite holiday tunes in the comments. Thanks to suggestions by so many of you in the past I have discovered new seasonal music I might not have found on my own. I hope I will do the same for you this year.

On November 9, 1970 Derek & The Dominos released Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs. I adore this album for so many reasons: the one-two punch of Eric Clapton’s virtuoso playing matched note for note with Duane Allman’s, some of Clapton’s best singing & writing were on these tracks, the band as a whole was unbelievably gifted, they did a beautiful cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” & several blues classics plus the power & beauty of the title track helps it remain an iconic staple in rock music history.

Several artists supposedly based a few of their songs on today’s tune. Two of my favorites are Dolly Parton’s “It’s All Wrong But It’s All Right” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Fade Away”. But even without those tributes, this song is still one of my all time favorites. Clapton’s expression of pain & angst is palpable in every word he sang and the band stayed with him every step of the way.

He has continued to perform this song throughout his career during his live shows and many versions are incredibly good (most notably the “24 Nights” version). But the original just knocks me out every time I hear it. Derek & The Dominos only made one record together but without it the landscape of rock music would look & sound unbelievably different. Bravo to a great album.

“It’s all wrong but it’s alright
The way that you treat me baby
Once I was strong but I lost the fight
You won’t find a better loser
“.

Allman and Dominos

Layla album

clapton allman

Top: Duane Allman with Derek & The Dominos in 1970 (L-R): drummer Jim Gordon, bassist Carl Radle, pianist Bobby Whitlock & Eric Clapton (center). Middle: The cover of the “Layla” album. Bottom: Clapton and Allman in 1970. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Derek & The Dominos: “Bell Bottom Blues” (1970, written by Eric Clapton and Bobby Whitlock).

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 546

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?

blog Sept 2021

(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.

As I have shared before, my grandmother is the one who introduced me to country music, How do you thank someone for bringing Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton & others into your life? And that was only one of the many invaluable gifts my grandmother gave me. Today marks 20 years since she died. I miss her every moment of every day. And since September 17 marks the 98th birth anniversary of Hank Williams, I thought today’s song was a great way to remember them both.

When tears come down like fallin’ rain
You’ll toss around and call my name
You’ll walk the floor the way I do
Your cheatin’ heart will tell on you
“.

Idie's wedding picture

Hank

Top: My grandmother (with my grandfather) on their wedding day in April 1934 Hank Williams circa 1950. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Hank Williams: “Your Cheatin’ Heart” (1952, written by Hank Williams).

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 463

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?

June 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.

Today marks the 85th birthday for one of the greatest artists this country ever produced. Kris Kristofferson is a poet, a songwriter, an actor, a singer, an entertainer, a Rhodes Scholar & a veteran. He was born June 22,1936 in Texas and except for having to watch him die in the 1976 version of “A Star Is Born”, I have loved-actually, adored-everything he has ever done. And don’t even get me started on those unbelievably gorgeous eyes, the hair, the beard and every part of his swagger that made him one of the most beautiful men I ever laid eyes on. Sa-woooooon.

Today’s song is from his 1970 debut album, Kristofferson. It contained three of his biggest hits: “Me & Bobby McGee” (Day 313), “Help Me Make It Though The Night” (Day 49), and “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down”. Fellow superstars Al Green, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn & The King himself Elvis Presley covered this track over the last five decades and they are all unbelievably good, of course. But there is something about Kristofferson’s own versions of his songs that highlight his exceptionally talented soul.

Happy birthday, Kris Kristofferson. May you celebrate 100 more. And thank you for every word you have ever written.

Let’s just be glad
We had some time to spend together
There’s no need to watch the bridges
That were burning
“.

Kris

Kris Kristofferson’s 1970 debut album. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Kris Kristofferson: “For The Good Times” (1970, written by Kris Kristofferson).

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 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 315

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.

One of country music’s most iconic & revered singers celebrated a milestone birthday last week. Dolly Parton, who was born in 1946 in TN, turned 75 years young on January 19. She has been a staple in the genre for over 50 years in a career that has seen her cross over into pop & mainstream music, acting, business ventures including her own amusement park, Dollywood, writing books and countless charity endeavors including her reading initiative, Imagination Library.

But it is her songs that she is probably most beloved for including her tale of confronting the other woman in “Jolene” to the famous theme song to the movie “9 To 5” to Whitney Houston’s chart topping rendition of “I Will Always Love You” to Parton’s work with fellow artists Kenny Rogers, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris and so many others. Another of her most cherished songs, “Coat Of Many Colors” inspired TV movies based on Parton’s childhood. There is almost nothing this woman has not tried or done in the last five decades. And currently 3.9 million followers on Instagram are eagerly awaiting her next move.

I have always thought of today’s song as the female take on Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through The Night”. It is from her 1977 album Here You Come Again & tells the story of a woman looking for company on a lonely night-a hook up, if you will. For a woman in any genre of music to tackle this subject in 1977 was controversial, but for a country artist it was down right risky. Yet for Parton it was a powerful statement that not only worked, it became a #1 song for two weeks in May 1978 & was featured in the 1979 film, “Norma Rae”. It is also one of the best vocals of Parton’s career. Happy birthday, Dolly.

The amber sunset glow has died
My needs are very much alive
Is it ok if I stop by
It’s all wrong, but it’s all right
“.

Dolly circa 2010

Dolly Parton circa 2010. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Dolly Parton: “It’s All Wrong But It’s All Right” (1977, written by Dolly Parton).

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 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

Crop

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.