25 Days Of Christmas Music 2022: Day 2

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the countdown.

day 1

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Yesterday’s song was by Elton John who is retiring from the road. Well, as one legend leaves the live stage, another one has returned to it in an incredibly triumphant way. Joni Mitchell performed at the Newport Folk Festival this summer after years of recovery from a medical event. It was a glorious moment for her and those of us who have followed her career and believed in her words, music, talent and artistry.

I learned she was slowly making her way back over the last few years by hosting “Joni Jams” in the living room of her home to play with many of her famous friends. Now Mitchell has announced some show dates for 2023. And on the subject of Elton John again, he hosted an episode of his Rocket Hour show last month right from Mitchell’s house. It is an absolutely delightful interview in which John pointed out “music brought her back to life”. Amen. Say it with me: Music is the answer.

Today’s pick is one of Mitchell’s most beloved and most covered tracks. I love the original version she recorded for her 1971 album, Blue. It was reissued last year for its 50th anniversary and went to #1. My absolute favorite cover of this track was recorded by actor Robert Downey Jr. in 2000 for his role as Larry Paul on “Ally McBeal”. It has a cello arrangement that is absolutely exquisite. In the spirit of this giving season, I am presenting both for your enjoyment.

Welcome back, Joni Mitchell. We missed you.

It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
“.

Joni

robert downey jr

Top: Joni Mitchell on stage at the Newport Folk Festival in July 2022. Bottom: Robert Downey Jr. circa 2000. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Joni Mitchell: “River” (1971, written by Joni Mitchell).

Robert Downey Jr.: “River” (2000, written by Joni Mitchell).

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, happy listening!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2022: Day 1

Happy December, everybody!!!

December

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

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

We begin with an iconic artist who held his final U.S. concert last month at Dodger Stadium in California. It was also livestreamed so anyone who wanted to could watch the show that closed the American leg of his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour. From the first time I heard “Daniel” I was completely enamoured with Sir Elton Hercules John and his impossibly prolific, eloquent & poignant lyricist, Bernie Taupin. It was one of the first records I ever bought for myself and John’s 1974 “Greatest Hits” compilation was the first album I ever owned. I have loved, adored and worshiped him for my entire life.

He has been a vital part of music and culture from day one. His artistry, his philanthropy, his 1997 Princess Diana tribute song, his foray into songs for film & Broadway and his own 2019 biopic, “Rocketman”, confirmed his legendary status while continuing his reign as one of the greatest artists of all time.

Even though my reverence for John knows no bounds, I have not been able to bring myself to watch his last concert yet. As happy as I am for him that he has found such happiness and contentment in his personal life with his husband and two sons, the idea of never attending another one of his shows just crushes my heart. It is a chapter I just do not want to close. But John deserves every blessing in life for his mere existence in this world for all the sublime music he has bestowed upon the world for over 50 years. His melodies & Taupin’s lyrics are love, light, hope & joy defined.

EJ 1975

ej 1975 B

EJ 2022

ej 2022 B

Top: Two images from Elton John’s 1975 concert at Dodger Stadium. Bottom: John’s last show in America at the same stadium in November 2022. The last photo shows John on stage the night of the show when he was joined on stage by his two sons and husband, David Furnish. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Elton John: “Step Into Christmas” (1973,written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin).

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, happy listening!!!

Music Monday: May 16, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

This week is a Motown Music Monday because we have three powerhouses from that genre with birthdays this month. I discovered this polarizing style of singing as a young child thanks to my parents. They bought a K-Tel compilation of this remarkable sound and that four album set changed me in a profound way. The voices from the Motor City became my first great musical love.

Songwriter & producer Norman Whitfield was born in Harlem, NY on May 12, 1940. He co-wrote & produced my favorite Motown song of all time, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” along with other tracks recorded by Marvin Gaye including “That’s The Way Love Is” and “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby”. Whitfield was also one of the writers behind Edwin Starr’s “War” and several hits by The Temptations including “I Wish It would Rain”, “I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)”, “I Can’t Get Next to You”, “I Know) I’m Losing You” as well as one of today’s featured songs.

After Whitfield left Motown in 1970 when the label relocated to California, he started his own eponymous recording company. His success as a songwriter continued with hits like “Smiling Faces Sometimes” for The Undisputed Truth and the theme song from the 1976 movie, “Car Wash” by Rose Royce. The mark Whitfield left on music, Motown & the industry is indelible. We lost this prolific artist in 2008.

Whitfield

Norman Whitfield circa 1975. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.).

What is left to say about “The Eighth Wonder Of The World”, Stevie Wonder, who turned 72 last week? The child prodigy born Stevland Hardaway Morris on May 13, 1950 in Saginaw, MI began his career in The Motor City at age 11 as Little Stevie Wonder. His career grew even bigger as an adult in the 1970’s with three Album Of The Year Grammy awards for Innervisions (1973), FulfillingnessFirst Finale (1974) and Songs in the Key of Life (1976). His career grew from there and today, with over six decades of musical brilliance under his belt, Wonder continues to show us all how talent is defined.

Stevie wonder

Stevie Wonder circa 1974. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

“The Empress Of Soul” Gladys Knight will celebrate birthday number 78 on May 28. She was born that day in 1944 in Atlanta, GA & began singing in the church by age five. Three years later, she won an amateur hour contest on a local TV show, then joined her brother (future Pip Merald “Bubba” Knight, Jr.) and a few other relatives to form a group, By the late 1950’s, they were signed to Brunswick Records and were opening shows for Jackie Wilson & Sam Cooke. In 1966 Knight & her revised group, The Pips, signed with Motown. But their real success came with their next label, Buddah Records, in the early 1970’s. Knight became a solo act in the following decade & collaborated with the likes of Elton John, Ray Charles, Patti LaBelle and others. She also became part of the James Bond movie music legacy when she recorded “License To Kill” in 1989. She remains one of the greatest female singers of all time.

Gladys 1

Gladys Knight circa 1972. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.).

NOTE: Both Wonder & Knight appear in the stunning Oscar-winning 2021 documentary, “Summer Of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”. If you have not seen it yet, PLEASE stop reading now (you can come back later) and head over to Hulu NOW to watch it. You cannot go another day without the music & performances from this film in your life. You’re welcome.

The Temptations: “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” (1966, written by Norman Whitfield and Edward Holland Jr.).

Stevie Wonder: “I Was Made To Love Her” (1967, written by Stevie Wonder, Lula Mae Hardaway, Sylvia Moy and Henry Cosby).

Gladys Knight & The Pips: “Midnight Train To Georgia” (1973, written by Jim Weatherly).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: May 2, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

May 6th marks my Dad’s 83rd birth anniversary. Both of my parents loved music & filled my childhood with some of the best. But as I got older my father did not always agree or understand the singer’s I fell in love with. In fact, he was not a fan of today’s artist until he heard “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” & today’s track. Then my father was a fan for life. And he was sitting right next to me the first time I heard today’s song live. I am so grateful for that experience & cherish that memory. Music is yet another powerful tie that binds our past, present & beyond.

Army picture

Elton 1975

Top: My father, Phil, in his army photo circa 1957. Bottom: Elton John at Dodger Stadium, 1975.

(Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Elton John: “Bennie & The Jets” (1973, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: March 28, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

We have another triple play this week to honor three of the biggest legends in music celebrating birthdays this month.

March 25 marked the 80th birth anniversary for the eternal Queen Of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Born in 1942 in Memphis, TN she remains the greatest female vocalist in the universe. It has been nearly four years since she died and just look at where we are without her.

Aretha

Aretha Franklin circa 1968. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

As if the gift of royalty was not enough to receive on March 25, that day also marked birthday #75 for Sir Elton John. Born in Pinner, UK in 1947 his voice is the one I discovered first out of the three artists featured today. I found him even before I found Springsteen. From the first moment I heard “Daniel”, I was captivated by John’s beautiful evocative voice & the music he created with the poetry of his sublime unbelievably talented collaborator, Bernie Taupin. These two men have been part of the soundtrack of my life ever since. It makes complete sense to me that while I was doing my Song Of The Day feature during 17 months of the pandemic, John appeared more than any other solo artist with 16 entries. He was second only to The Beatles who had 18 songs (Springsteen appeared 14 times, Clapton had 12 entries including two collaborations (but not counting his group entries) and Elvis had 11 songs, in case you were wondering).

Elton

Elton John circa 1970. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The first album I ever bought was John’s 1974 compilation album, “Greatest Hits”. I thought my heart would break when he announced his retirement a few years ago. Apparently the entire planet needed more time to adjust to that news as well because thanks to the pandemic, his farewell tour has been extended. But if anyone deserves to be a happily retired father & husband left to raise his beautiful family in the peace of a life without work, it is John. He deserves every happiness he has given the world. And we all know that figure is immeasurable. Today’s pick for him is one of the most elegant & beautiful tracks from his extraordinary catalog.

This week Eric Clapton will celebrate his 77th birthday. Born March 30, 1945 in Ripley, UK, my life was altered forever the second I heard the opening riff of today’s song. And I have listened to music for decades since that moment & I still have not had anything hit me quite like that. Behold the power of Slowhand.

Clapton

Eric Clapton circa 1975. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Aretha Franklin: “(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone” (1968, written by Aretha Franklin & Ted White).

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

Eric Clapton / Derek & The Dominos: “Layla” (1970, written by Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon).

Stay safe & well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 531

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?

Aug 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 August 25, 1970 a young up and coming singer from England made his debut in America when he played his first show at The Troubadour in West Hollywood, CA. It was such a success that within 14 months he had released four studio albums including 1971’s Mad Men Across The Water. It was the first of many incredibly successful years in Elton John’s monumental career.

Levon sells cartoon balloons in town
His family business thrives
Jesus blows up balloons all day
Sits on the porch swing watching them fly
“.

elton and bernie

Left: Elton John (L) and Bernie Taupin (R) circa 1971. Right: Taupin (L) and John (R) circa 2016. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Elton John: “Levon” (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 514

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?

Aug 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.

I am not sure if today’s song is considered PC or not anymore given the whole cancel culture climate we are in. I do not mean to offend if it is. I just hear it as a great track by one of my favorite bands. And in honor of Garth Hudson’s 84th birthday earlier this month I want to share it. He was born on August 2, 1937 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and he was the only member of that fabulous band who did not contribute vocals. He was too busy as a multi-instrumentalist to add that to his resume. He contributed keyboards, saxophone and accordion playing to the group which helped define their sound from day one.

Robbie Robertson may have been the principal songwriter for The Band, but he alone could not have given life to those songs in the phenomenal way the five men did as an ensemble. He & Hudson, who has been working as a solo artist for the last two decades, are the only living members left from this incredible group. I think it is so sad the other three have missed so much. But together they reached the likes of Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Diamond, Neil Young, Elton John & many others who were completely inspired by what The Band created as a whole. That is one impressive fan base. Here’s to 100 more birthdays for Garth Hudson.

Now I don’t mind chopping wood
And I don’t care if the money’s no good
You take what you need
And you leave the rest
“.

Garth 1971

The Band 1970

Top: Garth Hudson circa 1971. Bottom: The Band circa 1970 (L-R): Rick Danko, Hudson, Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson and Richard Manuel. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

The Band: “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” (From the music documentary “The Last Waltz”, released April 26, 1978. Recorded live on November 25, 1976 at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. Originally released in 1969, written by Robbie Robertson).

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 500

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?

Tom Petty music quote

(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.

July 13th marked the 36th anniversary of the Live Aid benefit concerts. Elton John performed today’s song at the event’s UK show with George Michael and it was a great success. As much as I appreciated that version, nothing compares to the original for me.

I can’t find the right romantic line
But see me once and see the way I feel
Don’t discard me just because you think I mean you harm
But these cuts I have they need love to help them heal
“.

live aid

Elton John performing at Live Aid, July 1985. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Elton John: “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” (1974, 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 468

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.

In 1973 while John Lennon & Yoko Ono were living in NYC, their marriage hit a rough spot. They separated for 18 months & he relocated across the country to California. Ono often referred to that time as Lennon’s “lost weekend”. But despite the state of his marriage, Lennon was incredibly busy making music during those months. He recorded two solo albums-1974’s Walls And Bridges and 1975’s Rock & Roll. He also worked with Elton John on his cover of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” & Lennon’s song, “Whatever Gets You Through The Night” (Day 246). He & Ono reconnected backstage at John’s concert in November 1974, but Lennon was not done making great music.

He collaborated with David Bowie on a cover of “Across The Universe” and today’s song. Lennon co-wrote the track, played guitar & did the backing vocals as well. It was released on June 28, 1975 and by September of that year it hit the top spot in the country for two different weeks. It was Bowie’s first #1 hit in the United States.

In October 1975 Lennon turned 35 and became a father for the second time. The following year, he received his green card after years of fighting with the U.S. government for it. He finally became a permanent resident of NYC, where Bowie had moved to the year before. They remained friends until Lennon’s death in 1980.

Fame what you like is in the limo
Fame what you get is no tomorrow
Fame what you need you have to borrow
Fame”.

Bowie Lennon

L-R: David Bowie, Yoko Ono & John Lennon backstage at the Grammys in 1975. Photo by @kwamebphoto. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

David Bowie (featuring John Lennon): “Fame” (1975, written by Carlos Alomar, David Bowie and 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 432

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.

In 1994 Elton John was inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. In his acceptance speech, he admitted he was not very good with words.

“I had someone to write my words for me and without him, the journey would not have been possible. I kind of feel cheating standing up here accepting because without Bernie, there wouldn’t of been any Elton John at all. And I would like him to come up and I would like to give this to him”. At that point Bernie Taupin joined him on stage, the two friends embraced and Taupin said one word: “Music”.

Today that legendary lyricist & poet who co-wrote all those beautiful & spectacular songs with John celebrates his 71st birthday. He helped create the soundtrack to my life & millions of others as well. Together they are one of the greatest & most important songwriting teams of all time, right up there with Lennon & McCartney, Bacharach & David and Leiber & Stoller.

Taupin was born May 22, 1950 in England. He grew up on a farm and wanted to become a journalist given his love for writing. When he was 17 years old, he answered an ad placed by a record company executive who was looking for new talent. Elton John, known then by his given name of Reginald Dwight, responded to the same one. That is how the two men met & began working as a team. Taupin wrote the words and gave them to John who set them to music.

They have countless hits together but it took them 53 years to finally win any awards for their exquisite work. In 2020 they received both a Golden Globe & an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from the movie based on John’s life, “Rocketman”.

Taupin became a US citizen in 1990. He has been married to his fourth wife since 2004. They have two daughters together and live in California. I fell in love with him & John the first time I heard “Daniel” (Day 375) and I am filled with an abundance of gratitude everyday for these two immensely gifted extraordinary men.

Today’s song was released 49 years ago on May 6, 1972. It was my favorite from the first album I ever bought, Elton John’s Greatest Hits. Happy birthday, Bernie Taupin. May you see 100 more. Thank you for your words & your heart.

And all this science
I don’t understand
It’s just my job
Five days a week
“.

Bernie and Elton 1975

Oscar

Top (L-R): Bernie Taupin and Elton John circa 1975 with a few of the gold records they earned over the years. Bottom: John and Taupin in 2020 after winning the Oscar for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from the movie “Rocketman”. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Elton John: “Rocket Man” (1972, 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.