Let’s Take A Moment Day 411

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?

May blog 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.

I was raised in a home with a very progressive grandmother. However, that did not mean she was open to everything. And while I was fully immersed in my teenage music addiction, she stepped in with the kiss of death: censorship.

Two albums prompted this course of action. The first was by my great musical love, Eric Clapton. The first time I put “Slowhand” on the stereo, she questioned why I would listen to someone exalting the benefits of “Cocaine”. I thought telling her he did not write the song would be enough to ease her mind. It only begged the question “Was he too high to write it?”

I skipped to the next song which was “Wonderful Tonight”. No problem. But when I was singing along to track three (“Lay Down Sally”), once again she became irritated. She demanded I turn off a song that was clearly “suggestive”. And let me just add that when your 65 year old grandmother uses a word like that, it conjures up images that are horrifying. From that point on, I listened to Clapton in my room alone.

Not long after that debacle I was starting to explore Neil Young’s rock side so I borrowed a copy of his second solo album from a friend. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. which was released 52 years ago today on May 1, 1969 featured the song, “Down By The River”. Admittedly, I found the subject matter disturbing. A man singing about killing the woman he loved was not the stuff songs were made of in my world. But I got completely swept up in Young’s mesmerizing guitar riffs until my grandmother’s screams snapped me out of my musical reverie.

A conversation about whether or not I was using drugs ensued followed by who was more disturbed-a person who expressed such a terrifying thought in a song or the person (read: me) who listened to it. Thinking I was helping the situation, I pointed out to my grandmother that when Young referred to shooting his “baby”, it was not his child but rather his girlfriend. It did not take long for me to see that only made things a million times worse.

Threats of taking my records away & removing the stereo from the house were mentioned as was a lecture from my father when he got home about how my musical choices could be harmful to my five year old brother. The phrase “Too bad military schools do not accept girls” was also batted around. My grandmother monitored my listening choices for the next several weeks which consisted mostly of my Bruce Springsteen records that she enjoyed as much as I did. Soon life took over and another crisis emerged so my indiscretion eventually became old news.

But my love for Neil Young never subsided and today’s song from that same album became my favorite track from the record. And at least this tune does not conjure up memories of the brief period in my life when my house turned into a deleted scene from the movie “Footloose”.

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

Neil Young

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

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

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 259

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?

kurt v

(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 written on several occasions how 1978 was a monumental year in music for me & the industry in general. Well, when the universe gives you something it takes something else away. And the thing it took away from me was my peaceful relationship with my grandmother-for a while, anyway.

For two years she enjoyed listening to my records with me. She may have not remembered the artists names correctly (she called Bad Company “the not so nice visitors”) but I knew what she meant so we were good. Until the first time I played “Slowhand” by my great love Eric Clapton, that is. It started with side one track one, “Cocaine”, and went downhill from there. She asked me what kind of person would write a song about drugs. I thought I was helping by telling her that he was only singing about them, that he did not write the tune. That led her to wonder out loud, “Was he too high to write it, perhaps?” I moved the needle to track two which was “Wonderful Tonight” so that stopped her scolding. But when track three came on, she became irritated again. She ordered me to turn the album off because she thought “Lay Down Sally” was too suggestive for a girl my age. Then she asked where Bruce was (as in Springsteen) and told me to put his music on so she could eat dinner in peace.

A few weeks later I was listening to a Neil Young album I borrowed. All I can tell you is that when “Down By The River” came on, my grandmother decided I must have started taking drugs because how else could I listen to a man brag about shooting someone. My punishment was twofold-I was banned from bringing any new records home for the foreseeable future AND I had to sit through her music shows. That way, she told me, I would hear songs that did not resort to questionable subject matter for shock value. Since she liked country music that meant episodes of “Hee-Haw” & “The Barbara Mandrell Show”. The first one was tough-not because of the music as much as what passed for humor. Mandrell’s music, while not really a favorite of mine, was tolerable. So imagine my grandmother’s horror & dismay when Mandrell premiered her new song, a tale of a woman unapologetic about her love for a married man. Music had beat my grandmother at her censorship game. And I must say, it was not a bad song. But the original was so much better.

It was a big record for singer Luther Ingram in 1972, hitting the #3 spot on the Hot 100 chart & the #1 spot on the R&B chart that year. He was born on this day in 1937 in Jackson, TN and thanks to his deep soulful voice, he had a record deal by the time he was 18. However, he did not see any success until he was signed to a small independent label, Koko Records, in the late 1960’s. They were associated with Stax Records at that time and by 1971, Ingram had co-written the hit song, “Respect Yourself” for that label’s group, The Staple Singers. Three songwriters from Stax wrote the song that Ingram became best known for and despite covers by Mandrell, Rod Stewart, Isaac Hayes David Ruffin and others, it is Ingram’s version that I find most inspired & soulful.

And am I wrong to hunger
for the gentleness of your touch
knowing I got somebody else at home
who needs me just as much
“.

Luther Ingram

Luther Ingram circa 1972. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Luther Ingram: “(If Loving You Is Wrong) ] I Don’t Want to Be Right” (1972, written by Homer Banks, Carl Hampton and Raymond Jackson).

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 241

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?

kurt v

(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 am somewhat amazed that it took me until the eight month mark to get to a song from one of my favorite albums, “After The Gold Rush” by Neil Young. Of course I have played a few songs by him already but none from that work of art. So I will do that today, in honor of his 75th birthday.

Born Nov 12, 1945 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada Young dropped out of high school to pursue a career in music. He met Stephen Stills in Ontario in the mid 1960’s when he was there on tour with one of his early bands. Then Young met fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell when both were writing two of their finest tracks. Legend has it this is when Young wrote “Sugar Mountain” about his fleeting youth (supposedly he wrote it in 1964 on his 19th birthday). Mitchell has said she wrote “The Circle Game” (Day 55). to help him cope with his growing pains. Around this time a local band, The Guess Who, recorded Young’s song, “Flying on the Ground is Wrong”. He spent the rest of his time in Canada as a solo artist and as a member of The Mynah Birds with future R&B singer, Rick James.

Young relocated to Los Angeles around 1966 and met up with Stills in the Laurel Canyon music scene of the 1960’s. The two formed Buffalo Springfield & had a major hit with 1966’s “For What It’s Worth”, a song credited as one of the first ones to combine folk rock with country rock. But the group had several problems going on behind the music and Young felt confined within a group setting so when the band split up he returned to his solo work. He released his self-titled album in early 1969 followed by “Every One Knows This Is Nowhere” later that year. Both records focused on Young’s electric sound with the second featuring “Cinnamon Girl”, “Down By The River” and “Cowgirl In The Sand”.

It was around this time that Young again reunited with Stills in his new band which was renamed Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. They performed at Woodstock but Young missed one set & refused to be filmed for the other, allegedly because he was in the US illegally (he did not get his green card until 1970). When the band was recording “Deja Vu”, Stills & Young fought frequently over the sound of the band. But they managed to put aside those differences long enough to record his song “Ohio” in May 1970 in response to the Kent State shootings. After that Young left the band for good and went on to his enormously successful solo career.

It began in earnest 50 years ago with 1970’s “After The Gold Rush” which was highlighted by his move to a more acoustic driven sound. Thank goodness for that shift because it continued with the next release, 1972’s “Harvest” album which contains his masterpiece, “Heart Of Gold” (Day 24). But “Gold Rush” has several gems including “Tell Me Why”, “Southern Man”, “Don’t Let It Bring You Down”, “I Believe In You”, the title track and today’s pick. It is another of Young’s heartbreakingly beautiful ballads that just takes hold of me and will not let go. They make my heart hurt for all the right reasons, especially today’s song.

I have a friend I’ve never seen
He hides his head inside a dream
Someone should call him and see
If he can come out
Trying to lose the down that he’s found
“.

Neil 1970

Neil Young Opening Night Reception For "Special Deluxe" Art Exhibition

Top:  Neil Young circa 1970.  Bottom:  Young circa 2015.  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Neil Young: “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” (1970, written by Neil Young).

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

Stay well.