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.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 206

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?

Jane Austen Music 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.

Today in 1987 one of my favorite musical documentaries was released. “Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll” took an in-depth behind the scenes look into the life & career of “The Father Of Rock & Roll”, Chuck Berry. The film ended with clips from two all-star concerts that took place in honor of Berry’s 60th birthday in 1986 featuring Etta James, Eric Clapton, Linda Ronstadt and Julian Lennon. The show was organized by band leader Keith Richards with help from guitarist Robert Cray and Berry’s longtime pianist, Johnnie Johnson. The music was without a doubt phenomenal but the glimpses into Berry’s personal life including scenes with his father (who died the year the film came out), other family members and longtime friends gave more weight to Berry’s life. His 94th birth anniversary is in about a week-October 18, to be exact-so today is a celebration of that as well as the movie’s anniversary.

He was born in 1926 & raised in St. Louis, Missouri by his Baptist church deacon father & public school principal mother. Music was an early hobby for Berry who performed at his high school when he was around 15. But when he was arrested for armed robbery just before his 18th birthday, he was sent to a reformatory school until he was 21. It was there he started singing in a quartet.

Berry got married in 1948, became a father in 1950 and soon after began playing in local clubs with various bands for extra money while he worked regular jobs during the day. By 1953 he began working with Johnson’s trio, performing R&B and country music. Two years later he met blues great Muddy Waters who encouraged Berry to reach out to Chess Records president Leonard Chess. That led to Berry’s first recording for the label (and his first million seller), “Maybellene”, in 1955. Thus a legend was born.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Clapton & Richards are rehearsing today’s song with Berry and he is having trouble remembering the lyrics. It is from his second studio album for Chess Records, “One Dozen Berrys” released in 1958. The record includes three hits: “Sweet Little Sixteen”, “Rock & Roll Music” & “Reelin’ & Rockin'”. But ever since I saw the documentary, today’s track is the one I enjoy the most.

One of his biggest fans, John Lennon, said, “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.” Amen. Hail! Hail! Chuck Berry!!!

When I see those big brown eyes that’s when I take my queue
It don’t take me but a few minutes to get a message through
I talked to you, and you talked to me and we talked to one another
It don’t take us but a few minutes to understand each other
“.

Hail Hail

A concert scene from the movie featuring (L-R): Check Berry, Keith Richards & Eric Clapton performing “Wee Wee Hours”. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Chuck Berry: “It Don’t Take But A Few Minutes” (1958, written by Chuck Berry).

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 195

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?

Jane Austen Music 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.

When I was growing up my mother had about ten 45’s that she played over and over. And that is not a complaint as those songs are still some of my all time favorites. One of them was “I Never Promised You A Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson. We saw her sing it on one (or maybe several) of the variety shows between 1970 & 1971. I remember admiring her pretty long blonde hair and how much she smiled while singing her song. She was a country artist but the track became a massive crossover hit, reaching #3 on the Hot 100 chart.

Fast forward to March 1977. I was watching my two favorite cops, “Starsky & Hutch” in the episode, “Long Walk Down A Short Dirt Road” (season two, episode 23) when who appeared but Anderson herself. She played a country singer (what else, right?) named Sue Ann Grainger who Hutch went to see at a local bar only to discover she was being stalked by a disgruntled former fan. S&H helped solve the case, of course, and to say thank you Grainger invited Hutch on stage to sing a song during her show to close out the episode. The tune he sang is today’s pick.

It was written by singer/songwriter Tom Jans who started his career singing with folk artist Joan Baez’s sister, Mimi Farina, around 1970 in California. She & Jans recorded an album in 1971 entitled, “Take Heart”. When it failed to chart the two singers parted ways the following year. Jans then moved to Nashville to write for a music publisher. His first song-today’s tune-was recorded by Kris Kristofferson and Elvis Presley and then by Jans himself for his own solo release in 1974. Unfortunately it did not have any success so Jans moved back to California. He recorded two more albums that did not sell so Jans moved to Europe. In 1983 he was in a serious motorcycle accident and died the following year allegedly from a drug overdose.

Today’s track has also been recorded by a few other artists including Etta James, Natalie Cole and Livingston Taylor. But to me, the best version is by Dobie Gray, whose gorgeous harmonies are reminiscent of his work on “Drift Away”. It only hit #61 on the charts in 1973 which I find absolutely criminal. This song is Jans’ beautiful legacy.

I’ve been too long in the wind, too long in the rain
Taking any comfort that I can
Looking back and longing for the freedom from my chains
Lying in your loving arms again
“.

tom_jans

Tom Jans circa 1973. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Dobie Gray 1973

Dobie Gray circa 1973. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Dobie Gray: “Loving Arms” (1973, written by Tom Jans).

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 2018: Day 25

Merry Christmas, Everybody!!!  Welcome back to the countdown.

church

Beautiful winter holiday scene found on Pinterest (original source unknown).  

This woman, hailed as the Matriarch of R&B, had her roots in gospel before branching out into blues, jazz, soul and rock & roll.  She was one of the pillars of Chess Records in the 1950’s & 1960’s and is best known by her signature song “At Last”.  It took almost her whole lifetime for her to be recognized for her impeccable voice, but there is no mistaking her talent once you hear her sing the first note of any of her songs.  And there is not a better one to celebrate the meaning of Christmas Day than this one.

Etta

Etta James:  “Joy To The World” (1998).

And for the new year, my hope and wish is the same:  peace in the new year.  Here’s to 2019!!!

Amy Vince Michael

Michael McDonald,  Amy Grant, Vince Gill & Chet Atkins:  “Let There Be Peace On Earth” (1993-Christmas with Vince Gill in Tulsa, OK).

Thank you all for your support & for following along with me this year!!!  I truly appreciate each and every one of you!!!  I wish you all the best in the new year!!!

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!!!