Let’s Take A Moment Day 390

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 2021 blog

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

On April 10, 1970 the self titled album by Elton John was released. It was his first for North American audiences and his second in the UK. Some of its tracks included “Take Me To The Pilot”, “Border Song” and his first hit record which went on to become one of his most beloved & enduring songs. It is also unbelievably beautiful, especially the lyrics and the string & harp arrangements.

The birth of that record is a spotlight in the movie of John’s life, 2019’s “Rocketman”. When John participated in “Carpool Karaoke“, he told host James Corden that today’s tune was the one that made John believe he & lyricist Bernie Taupin had taken a huge step forward in their songwriting partnership. I also believe that was the understatement of the decade.

I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss
Well a few of the verses, well they’ve got me quite cross
But the sun’s been quite kind
While I wrote this song
“.

Bernie and Elton 1975

bernie elton 2020

Top (L-R): Bernie Taupin and Elton John circa 1975 with a few of the gold records they earned over the years. Bottom (L-R): Taupin and John in 2020 at the Golden Globe Awards celebrating their win for Best Original Song for the 2019 film “Rocketman”. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Elton John: “Your Song” (1970, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin).

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 375

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?

March 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.

Yesterday marked another birthday for one of music’s elite, this one belonging to one of the earliest & greatest loves in my musical world. Reginald Kenneth Dwight, n/k/a Sir Elton John, was born 74 years ago on March 25,1947 in England. He acquired his stage name by combining the names of two musicians from his first band, Bluesology, Elton Dean and Long John Baldry.

Today’s song was a #2 hit in the US in 1973. It was the one that started it all for me & Elton. It was the second 45 I ever bought in my life and I cherish it to this day. It is why I fell in love with his voice, his sound and the words by his exquisitely gifted friend & lyricist, Bernie Taupin. The last time I heard it performed live was when Elton made his record setting 60th appearance at Madison Square Garden-on March 25, 2007-which was also his 60th birthday. It remains one of my favorite songs ever, not just by those two incredible songwriters, but of all time. Elton John’s voice is one of the best parts of my life.

They say Spain is pretty though I’ve never been
And Daniel says it’s the best place that he’s ever seen
He should know, he’s been there enough
Oh I miss Daniel, oh I miss him so much”.

Elton

Elton John circa 1974. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Elton John: “Daniel” (1973, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin).

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 345

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Feb 2021 Blog

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

On February 24, 1998 a a ceremony took place at Buckingham Palace where Elton John was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. It may only be a title but it is one of the highest ones an individual may earn in Great Britain. It is bestowed upon people known for extraordinary public service. The fact that musical artists are recognized in this category speaks volumes for how the U.K. values the arts. And John has been outstanding in that regard for over fifty years. My love for this man and his astonishing lyricist Bernie Taupin knows no bounds. I think today’s track is one of the most beautiful songs from their extraordinary catalog.

Did you paint your smile on when I said I knew
That my reason for living was for loving you
We’re related in feeling, but you’re high above
You’re pure and you’re gentle, with the grace of a dove
“.

Elton and Bernie

Bernie and Elton

Top: Bernie Taupin (L) and Elton John (R), circa 1970. Bottom: Taupin (L) and John circa 2019. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Elton John: “I Need You To Turn To” (1970, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin).

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 316

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.

Today in 1973 Elton John’s sixth studio album, Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Piano Player, was released. It contained his first US #1 record “Crocodile Rock” and the heartbreaking tale of “Daniel”, which is the first record I ever bought of John’s. I played that 45 for hours at a time and did not come close to tiring of it. But one day I did get curious about the B side so I gave that a listen. And it was one of the best discoveries of my young life to that point.

I found a beautiful moving song that instantly became my new favorite by John and his magnificent lyricist, Bernie Taupin. It dates back to 1968 when it was released as a single in the UK by another artist. It is on John’s 1969 UK debut album, Empty Sky, which did not get released in the US until 1975. That version features a different arrangement with John playing a harpsichord and an organ. Today’s rendition features him on the piano & was slated to be included on the LP released 48 years ago today. Somehow it did not make the final cut. It finally appeared on John’s 1992 Rare Masters release.

If you have followed John as long as I have you know he was one of the first artists to lead the fight for AIDS research which continues to this day with his AIDS Foundation Academy Award Party started in 1993. But back in 1984 when a 13 year old boy from Indiana named Ryan White was one of the first children diagnosed with the disease after a blood transfusion, John reached out to him & became his friend. When White died from the illness in 1990, John performed today’s pick at the funeral.

He had a record on the US Hot 100 charts for 31 consecutive years from 1969 to 2000 and even though today’s track is not included in that staggering statistic, I think it is one of the most beautiful songs of his career. I cannot imagine a day of my life without the music of Elton John & Bernie Taupin.

For this dark and lonely room
Projects a shadow cast in gloom
And my eyes are mirrors
Of the world outside
“.

Taupin and John 1968

Bernie Taupin (L) and Elton John (R) circa 1969. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Elton John: “Skyline Pigeon” (1968, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin).

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 307

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.

Before today’s song, I want to wish the happiest of birthdays to a most spectacular “Golden Girl”, Betty White. This legend of radio, TV & film turns 99 today & has been entertaining the world for 82 years. I was lucky enough to meet her in May 2011 when she came to Barnes & Noble in Lake Grove, NY to sign copies of her book, “If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t)“.

She was an absolute delight. I was in complete awe, told her meeting her was like meeting one of the Beatles which made her laugh. But when I told her she & the other three Golden Girls were like my surrogate mothers from their very first episode she smiled and squeezed my hand. It was one of the most cherished moments of my life. Keep rocking, Betty. You are loved, worshiped & revered. And an absolute riot!!!

Betty White

Betty White in May 2011 in Lake Grove, NY. (credit: Me!!!)

Music nightclubs have been around forever, but for the music I love, some of the best saw the 1960’s & 1970’s as the peak of their success. The Troubador in West Hollywood, CA introduced artists like Elton John, Tom Waits & James Taylor. The Fillmore in San Francisco, CA hosted Cream, The Grateful Dead & blues greats Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. At NYC’s Fillmore East Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane and The Allman Brothers (who recorded their first live record there in 1971, At Fillmore East) appeared. Max’s Kansas City was a favorite hangout spot for John Lennon when he first moved to NYC, Deborah Harry was a waitress there and artists like The Velvet Underground & David Bowie performed there. Two other NYC clubs-The Bottom Line & CBGB’s hosted Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Linda Ronstadt & Van Morrison at the former and Patti Smith, Blondie, The Talking Heads and other punk/new wave artists at the latter.

Another West Hollywood club, The Whiskey-A-Go-Go, opened January 11, 1964 and quickly became one of the top music venues for up & coming artists. Two of my favorites-The Doors & Otis Redding-were featured there and it helped put them on their respective musical maps. For Redding especially this was a huge moment in his early career as it led to the recording of his live album, In Person at the Whisky a Go Go. It was recorded during his three shows in April 1966 but not released until October 1968, nearly a year after his death. A second release, Good to Me: Live at the Whisky a Go Go, Vol. 2, was released in 1993.

The shows at the club took place a year before Redding’s mainstream success thanks to his rousing performance at The Monterey Pop Festival in the summer of 1967. It included today’s song which was first recorded in 1932 but Redding’s version 34 years later took on a whole new style due in part to the producer, soul legend Isaac Hayes. Booker T & The M.G.’s played on the record & with Redding in person at the Monterey show. Redding’s complete five song set from the concert along with Jimi Hendrix’s performances were released on the 1970 album, Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival. Redding’s are included on a few of his posthumous releases plus you can also find the videos on YouTube. Today’s song was his last number of the night and it is nothing short of spectacular.

It’s not just sentimental no, no, no
She has her grief and care, yeah, yeah, yeah
But the soft words they are spoke so gentle, yeah
It makes it easier, easier to bear”.

Otis at Monterey

Otis Redding on stage at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967. Alan Jackson (back) was the drummer that night with the band Booker T & The MG’s. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Otis Redding: “Try A Little Tenderness” (Live performance at The Monterey Pop Festival in June, 1967. Originally recorded in 1966. Written by Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly and Henry MacGregor “Harry” Woods).

I only own the rights to the Betty White picture, nothing else. I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 257

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.

On this day in 1974 John Lennon made his final concert appearance ever when he joined Elton John on stage in Madison Square Garden (see Day 246). Two years after Lennon’s death, John wrote a beautiful tribute to his friend. To this day I cry until it hurts whenever I hear this song.

Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop

And now it all looks strange
It’s funny how one insect can damage so much grain
“.

EJ empty garden

Elton John in the video from 1982’s “Empty Garden”. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Elton John: “Empty Garden” (1982, written by Elton John & Bernie Taupin).

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 246

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.

On November 16, 1974 John Lennon hit the top of the charts with the first single from his “Walls and Bridges” album. The song was released in September of that year and Lennon’s friend, Elton John, provided harmony vocals & the piano track for the record. It was his way of thanking Lennon for playing guitar & singing back-up vocals on John’s cover of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” recorded several months earlier (Lennon was credited as “Dr. Winston O’Boogie” on the cover to keep legal issues from the record company at bay).

John was so sure Lennon’s tune would become a #1 record John bet Lennon that if that happened, he would have to join John onstage at his concert at Madison Square Garden on November 28. Lennon agreed because he did not think the song would do that well. But between the upbeat get-you-up-on-your-feet tempo, Lennon’s incredible vocal with sing-along lyrics, John’s boogie- woogie playing style & a horn section that just owned every note they played, this song could not miss.

Once the song made it to the top of the chart, John reminded Lennon of the bet & he was almost physically sick the night of the show because he was terrified to take the stage. It had been a while since he played in a venue that large (The Beatles had stopped touring in 1966 & Lennon was playing smaller places as a solo artist). But all went well & the two men performed three songs together: the “Lucy” cover, today’s pick and a Beatles tune, “I Saw Her Standing There” (the live recording was released as the B-side to John’s single, “Philadelphia Freedom” in February 1975).

The original track featured Paul McCartney on lead vocal, so when Lennon introduced it to the audience, he said it was a song from “an old estranged fiance of mine, old Paul”. And the ecstatic crowd, who cut short their Thanksgiving feast to be at the John concert that night, heard the number one song in the country by Lennon as well as two Beatles songs. If there was ever a concert I wish I could have attended, this is one of them. And one of my favorite rock & roll stories ever.

I also believe this was the last time Lennon was ever on stage, or at least in an arena of this size. He was separated from his wife, Yoko Ono, for about 18 months at the time of this show. John invited her to the concert where she and Lennon reunited backstage afterwards. She gave birth to their son, Sean Ono Lennon, on Lennon’s birthday the next year. John was named Sean’s godfather.and Lennon became a stay at home dad to his son until he went back into the studio five years later to record “Double Fantasy”. It was released 40 years ago today on November 17, 1980.

In March 1982, John recorded “Empty Garden” in honor of Lennon. John performed the song in Madison Square Garden in August of that year and invited his godson and his mother on stage in tribute to Lennon.

Whatever gets you through your life
It’s all right, it’s all right
Do it wrong, or do it right
It’s all right, it’s all right

Don’t need a watch to waste your time
Oh no, oh no
“.

elton john john lennon

Elton & John

Elton and John backstage

Elton Sean circa 1982

Top two pictures: Elton John (left) and John Lennon (R) on stage at Madison Square Garden on November 28, 1974. Third picture: Lennon backstage with John & his band the same night (Lennon is third from left, standing with John to his right). Last picture (L_R): Sean Ono Lennon (age 6) & Yoko Ono join John on stage at his concert at the Garden in August 1982 after he performed his tribute song to Lennon, “Empty Garden”, (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

John Lennon featuring Elton John: “Whatever Gets You Through The Night” (1974, written by John Lennon).

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 239

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.

Day 203 commemorated the release date of Elton John’s opus, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”. Well, on this day in 1973, the album hit #1 in America and held that spot for eight consecutive weeks. The year ended with his record in the top spot and, coincidently, so did 1974. That year came to a close with “Elton John’s Great Hits” in the #1 album spot.

The title track of “Brick Road” was released before the album and peaked at #2 on the Hot 100 chart. But even if it was never a hit, I would still consider it one of John’s best songs of all time. It was always one of the high points at every concert of his I ever attended. And it was featured in one of the most riveting scenes from John’s 2019 biopic, “Rocketman”.

You know you can’t hold me forever
I didn’t sign up with you
I’m not a present for your friends to open
This boy’s too young to be singing the blues
“.

Elton circa 1977

Elton John circa 1974. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Elton John: “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (1973, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin).

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 234

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.

Elton John is celebrating several career milestones this time of year. October 26 marked the 50th anniversary of the release of his first hit, “Your Song”. On November 4, 1992 publishing giant Warner/Chappell signed him & his writing partner extraordinaire, Bernie Taupin, to a $39 million dollar deal which was the most lucrative one ever offered at that time. That contract came 25 years after he & John signed their first major publishing deal in 1967 when John was still known by his real name, Reginald Dwight. He was 20 years old & Taupin was 17.

John had a live radio concert broadcast on November 17, 1970 which was released as an album the following April. (The station which broadcast the event-WABC-FM in NYC-became WPLJ-FM in February 1971 which was one of my favorites during my teenage years). And 49 years ago today-November 5, 1971-John released the album with today’s tune on it. The record contains two of his best know songs-“Levon” and “Tiny Dancer”-and as much as I enjoy them, it is the title track that I am most enamored with.

Once a fool had a good part in the play
If it’s so would I still be here today
It’s quite peculiar in a funny sort of way
They think it’s very funny everything I say
“.

Taupin and John

Bernie Taupin (L) and Elton John (R) circa 1971. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Elton John: “Madman Across The Water” (1971, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin).

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 212

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.

Today’s artist comes from a musical family. Rufus Wainwright’s parents are American songwriter, folk singer, entertainer & humorist Loudon Wainwright III and Canadian folk singer & songwriter Kate McGarrigle. She & her sister, Anna, formed the duo, The McGarrigle Sisters, in Montreal in the 1960’s & continued together until Kate’s death in 2010. Their songs have been covered by many artists including Marianne Faithful, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, most notably her cover of “Heart Like A Wheel” which was written by Anna.

Wainwright was born in Rhinebeck, NY in 1973 and his sister, Martha Wainwright (also a singer) was born three years later, the same year his parents divorced. That sent his mother back to Montreal to raise her two children. Wainwright started playing piano at the age of six and by the age of 13 he & his sister were touring with their mother and aunt as “The McGarrigle Sisters and Family”. He developed a strong affinity for opera music around that time and went back to New York for high school. After that he moved back to Montreal where he began playing the club circuit. That is how he was discovered and by 1998 his self-titled debut album was released. However, he continues to perform with his family on various musical collaborations.

In a 2004 interview with the AP, Elton John called Wainwright “the greatest songwriter on the planet”. In addition to writing his own songs, he has also done outstanding covers of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (Day 161) for the “Shrek” soundtrack & The Beatles “Across The Universe” featured in the “I Am Sam” movie. My favorite song of Wainwright’s is from his third studio album, “Want One” and features an orchestra & choir arrangement. As lovely as the original track is, today’s interpretation only has a piano accompaniment to his elegant vocal. You will notice at the 2:07 mark of the video that he is playing that instrument with just one hand. There is something so exquisitely beautiful about a simple acoustic number. And this version is one gorgeous example of how less is more.

My phone’s on vibrate for you
But still I never ever feel from you
Pinocchio’s now a boy who wants to turn
Back into a toy
“.

Rufus Wainwright

Rufus Wainwright circa 2000. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Rufus Wainwright: “Vibrate” (2003, written by Rufus Wainwright).

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

Stay well.