Let’s Take A Moment Day 414

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.

Today we remember The Godfather Of Soul. James Brown was born 88 years ago on on May 3, 1933 in South Carolina. Who was not completely fascinated watching this man’s cape routine? No one will ever say that he did not give his all every single time he took the stage, yet still left the crowd aching for more. He introduced the world to the glorious sound of funk music and raised the game for every artist who came after him. And that is exactly what innovators are supposed to do.

Come here mama
And dig this crazy scene
He’s not too fancy
But his line is pretty clean
“.

James Brown

James Brown circa 1958. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

James Brown: “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag, Part 1″ (1965, written by James Brown).

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 296

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.

Time for the first mid-week Motown break of the year. That means it needs to be extra special. Queue Marvin Gaye. In 1972 he was getting ready to release the follow-up to his enormously successful album, What’s Going On. The new record was poised to contain socially relevant material like its predecessor. The first single & title track, “You’re The Man“, was released first but between its less than stellar performance on the pop charts (it was a top 10 hit on the R&B one) & the continued clashes with label owner Berry Gordy over the politically charged material, Gaye cancelled the new album’s release.

Many of the songs were eventually introduced decades after they were recorded, including today’s song which was part of his 1995 posthumous boxed set, “The Master, 1961-1984”. Then in March 2019 Motown & Universal Music released the lost album in its entirety to coincide with Gaye’s 80th birth anniversary on April 2.

Today’s track is both beautiful & heartbreaking and not just because it was lost for nearly 25 years. The song begins with a message from the singer to parents. When addressing the mother, he mentions children in the plural sense. But when speaking to the father, the word is singular as if Gaye was speaking directly to his own parent and we all know the tragic nature of that relationship. I cannot verify if Gaye changed the lyrics for himself or merely followed the original text. The song was written by two women so perhaps they made the distinction, but there is not a lot of information online for me to be sure. Performing artist Carleen Anderson (who happens to be James Brown’s goddaughter) released her own version of the tune in 1998 and followed Gaye’s lyrics. Whatever the truth is behind the song, it is one of his most stirring vocals.

The song opens with an intense guitar solo and its message, delivered in Gaye’s pleading vocal, is crystal clear: Everyone needs to be accepted for who they are & not be molded into someone’s idea of who they should be. A timeless message that holds true for every generation from a man who moved from his gospel roots to secular songs to become one of the most important voices for soul music & social conscience in history.

Father stop
Criticizing your son
Mother please
Leave your daughters alone
Don’t you see that’s what wrong
With the world today oh
Everybody wants somebody
To be their own piece of clay”.

Marvin

Marvin Gaye’s lost 1972 album, “You’re The Man”, was released in 2019. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye: “Piece Of Clay” (1995, written by Gloria Jones and Pamela Sawyer).

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 225

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.

Tonight is the two hour season five premiere of “This Is Us”. I must tell you that as great as that show is, the level of drama was scaring me enough to reconsider watching it going forward. But that was before COVID and the rest of the ballast 2020 has thrust upon the world. Now I think bring it on. Problems from a fictional family will be a welcome relief.

But a two hour show means I will be crying for about 120 minutes. In that case, I need to start the day on a happy funky soulful note. There is no one better at that than The Godfather Of Soul, James Brown. And if there is a song on the planet with a better brass sound & arrangement, I have no idea what it is.

When I hold you in my arms
I know that I can do no wrong
And when I hold you in my arms
My love won’t do you no harm
“.

James Brown circa 1974

James Brown circa 1974. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

James Brown: “I Got You” (1965, written by James Brown).

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 149

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?

Charlie Brown No Music No Life

(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.

Time for another mid-week Motown break.  As much as Marvin Gaye gained popularity on his own, he also found it as part of a duo.  He recorded one album of duets with Mary Wells (1964’s “Together”) and another with Kim Weston (1966’s “Take Two” which included the top 20 hit, “It Takes Two”).  But when both women left the label after the release of these albums due to business reasons, Gaye found his most successful pairing with Tammi Terrell.  She was 20 years old when she signed with Motown in 1965, after two years as a member of James Brown’s Revue.  Her pairing with Gaye was magic right from the start.  They had three hits in 1967:  “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Your Precious Love” and today’s song.

But it was also in October of the same year that Terrell would collapse onstage in Gaye’s arms due to the discovery of a malignant brain tumor shortly thereafter.  She fought the illness through eight unsuccessful surgeries over the next two and a half years but sadly lost her fight to it on March 16, 1970 at age 24.  According to many friends and several Motown history biographers, Gaye never recovered from losing her.  Shortly after her death his fight with depression and addiction began.  He also entered the studio to write and record a more introspective album.  It became his career defining “What’s Going On” album released May 21, 1971.

In 1983 I was lucky enough to see Gaye in concert at Radio City Music Hall in NYC.  He performed today’s song by himself in a slower tempo while pictures of him & Terrell flashed on a giant screen behind him.  It was one of the most poignant moments I have ever witnessed at a concert.  A year later, almost 14 years exactly after he lost his dear friend, Gaye died, too.  It is no secret that too many of the performers at Motown had such sad endings to their stories.  It breaks my heart that today’s two singers, the ones I adore most of all from that label, had their stories end the same way.  I believe people who bring the world so much happiness with their music should find it themselves.  My heart tells me they have it together now.

If I could build my whole world around you
I’d make your eyes the morning sun
I’d put so much love where there is sorrow
I’d put joy where there’s never been none“.

tammi_terrell_marvin_gaye

Tammi Terrell & Marvin Gaye circa 1967.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell:  “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” (1967, written by Harvey Fuqua, Johnny Bristol and Vernon Bullock).

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

Stay well.

Christmas Song Countdown #11

Hello, Vixens!!!  Welcome back to the countdown!!!

1940s-tree

Vintage Christmas Scene (original source unknown)

 

If a line was drawn in history as to three biggest voices to put soul music on the map,  it would read like this:  Sam Cooke, Otis Redding (featured in yesterday’s post) & the singer with today’s song.

Side note:  It is not James Brown.  While he was without question “The Godfather of Soul”, he was also credited with being one of the inventors of funk music.  Hence, he was on a completely different path than the other three singers. In his own league, as the saying goes.

But, as usual, I digress.

vintage-christmas-cards

Vintage Christmas Card (original source unknown)

 

Today’s singer carried the torch after Redding’s death, and never put it down.  While Motown & Philly Soul were more than respectable outlets for great music, today’s singer cruised past both with the same achingly impassioned vocal delivery that made Redding a legend, but giving it a more polished sound, much like Cooke.  The combination was electric.  That is how his sound rose above everything else in the 1970’s.

When I saw him in concert, he ran into the audience and I was lucky enough to get a great big bear hug from him.  Unfortunately, it took place at a time when cameras were still banned from concerts, so I do not have a picture of the momentous occasion.  But I relived it every time I saw him take the roof off of the Ed Sullivan Theater when he made his yearly visit to “The Late Show With David Letterman” (another reason why I miss that brilliant show!!!)

Al Green:  Winter Wonderland.

I chose Green’s song specifically for today because on this date in 1964, Sam Cooke died at the age of  33.  Through the time machine that is YouTube, I came across this holiday greeting he made in 1963.  I am not sure why he recorded it.  Perhaps it was done as a radio station promotion or for his record label.  All I know is it is a gift, so Christmas came early for me.  Listen to it here.

sam-cooke-620x480

Sam Cooke (original source unknown)

 

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, fellow Vixens, happy listening!!!

 

Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #1

The #1 song on the countdown was called “the greatest love song of the past 50 years” when it was released in 1969 by none other than Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra.  It also has the distinct honor of being the most covered Beatles song second only to “Yesterday”.  The top song on my list is…drum roll please…”Something” by the Beatles.

Inspired by James Taylor’s 1968 song “Something In The Way She Moves” and written by George Harrison for his first wife, Pattie Boyd, the song was the masterpiece of his career as a Beatle.  It was released on the album “Abbey Road” and issued with “Come Together” as a double single which hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1969.

That was the Beatles 18th chart topper, putting them one song ahead of Elvis Presley’s previous record of 17.  A video of the Beatles and their wives set to the song was also released that year to promote it and the album amid rumors that a break up of the Fab Four was imminent.

Harrison’s lyrics expressed  both his love for his wife while acknowledging the uncertainty that is the future:

Something in the way she moves
Attracts me like no other lover
Something in the way she woos me

You’re asking me will my love grow
I don’t know, I don’t know
You stick around now it may show
I don’t know, I don’t know

Legends including Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley, James Brown, Elton John & Willie Nelson have covered “Something” either on record or live in concert.  Sadly Harrison’s marriage to Boyd did not grow, as she eventually left him for his best friend, Eric Clapton.  But that’s another song (“Layla” to be exact).

After the Beatles broke up, Harrison went on to have a successful solo career and hosted one of the first benefit concerts ever-1971’s Concert for Bangladesh.

The Beatles were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1988 by Mick Jagger and Harrison was inducted as a solo artist in 2004 by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, who were members of Harrison’s other band-the Traveling Wilburys .

As if the attacks of 9/11/01 were not devastating enough to the world that year, two months after those tragedies we lost George Harrison to cancer, which left only two of the four Beatles around to carry on the legacy of one of the greatest bands of all time.  Sigh 😦

There you have it, Vixens-my picks for the top 14 love songs.  Hope I included some of your favorites or helped you discover some new ones.

***BONUS:  One of my favorite songs is named “Valentine” and it is by E Street guitarist Nils Lofgren, with a little help from the Boss himself.

***BONUS TWO:  If you have never seen the Golden Girls episode entitled “Valentine’s Day“, take about 20 minutes out now to watch it.  I love all their episodes, but this one is in their top 10.

Enjoy!!!

Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #10

The next song on my list is dedicated to my mother who was a big fan of the singer in the #10 spot on my countdown.  His dance moves on stage earned him the nickname “Mr. Excitement” by some and “the black Elvis” by others. But make no mistake:  This man had a voice like no one else before or after him.  The singer?  Jackie Wilson.  The song?  “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher”.

Reaching #6 on the charts in 1967 & written by Gary Jackson and Carl Smith, rumor has it that Wilson recorded the vocal track for this song in one take.  If that is true, it is an incredible testament to his magnificent voice and talent.  He had an astonishing 47 R&B hit songs from 1958 to 1973.  They ran the gamut from ballads to dance tunes to true soul numbers. He was so popular overseas in 1963 that the Beatles opened for one of Wilson’s shows.

“Higher & Higher” is as close to perfect as a song gets, from its perfectly delivered lyrics, to its great impossible-to-sit-still-to-so-get-up-and-move beat, to the incredibly pristine horn arrangements, to the fantastic bass line, to the polish of the entire production. There are not too many love songs like this one, probably because there are not too many performers like Wilson.

His exuberant stage performances were copied by the likes of James Brown, Michael Jackson and Bruno Mars, to name a few.  But no matter how great his dance moves were, nothing compared with the range, power, intensity and considerable passion of Wilson’s voice.

Sadly, that voice was silenced in 1984 when Wilson was just 49 years old.  He became incapacitated after suffering a heart attack on stage in 1975 and spent his remaining years in a nursing home.  As was unfortunately common practice in the early days of Rock & Roll, Wilson died virtually penniless due to the machinations of his record company and manager.  The end of Wilson’s story is one of the saddest in music history.

He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 by Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band.

Notable covers of “Higher & Higher” have been done by Dolly Parton, Rita Coolidge, and Rod Stewart.  But my favorite cover is by one of my heroes (and future husband, if God is listening), Bruce Springsteen.  He started playing this song live with more and more frequency in the last decade, usually as one of his encores.  He and the E Street Band gave it everything they had in this clip from one of their shows in 2009.

Enjoy!!!