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 300

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.

Day 300. I never imagined when I started down this road it would last this long. But then again I never lived through a global pandemic before so I did not exactly have a point of reference. Or a clue as to how much life would really change as a result of it. But this has been anything but a chore so I will keep going.

When famed Beatles record producer Sir George Martin died in 2016, Paul McCartney is reported to have said, “If anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle it was George.” And if anyone had the right to bestow that title on someone, it was one of The Fab Four. Martin was born on January 3, 1926 in London, England. He was the man who signed The Beatles to EMI Records in 1962 and helped mold the band’s sound in the recording studio with his skills as an arranger & producer. He wore a few other hats throughout his career including musician, composer, engineer & conductor.

Martin’s influence was clear from the group’s first US album, Introducing… The Beatles, released 57 years ago today, January 10, 1964. A month later, they arrived in America for their first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show”. If there ever was a moment that changed the course of music history in America, it was that Beatles’ Sunday night performance on February 9, 1964. Less than a year later-January 9, 1965-The Fab Four’s popularity showed no signs of slowing down when their album Beatles 65 soared from #98 to #1 in only one week.

The rest of The Beatles story is very well documented from their 1965 concert at Shea Stadium, their final concert a year later in Candlestick Park in San Francisco, their two movie features (“A Hard Day’s Night” & “Help”) to their groundbreaking albums including Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, The White Album & Abbey Road. Every album by the band with the exception of “Let It Be” was produced by Martin. The last one started with him in charge but then the project was put on hold for the band to record “Abbey Road“. They then returned to the Let It Be tapes to finish it but between all the fights amongst the band members including John Lennon’s departure at the beginning of 1970, the tapes were shelved. Eventually they were placed in the hands of Phil Spector who put his Wall Of Sound spin on them to give us the finished product in May 1970.

Martin continued his esteemed career in music after his seminal work with The Beatles. His more notable projects include his work on two James Bond soundtracks (“Goldfinger” in 1964 & “Live And Let Die” in 1973), producing several albums for the band America, collaborating with Pete Townsend on the musical arrangements for The Who’s 1993 Broadway production of “Tommy” & producing Elton John’s 1997 Princess Diana tribute recording of “Candle In The Wind”. Martin worked with his son, Giles Martin-also a composer, producer & multi-instrumentalist-on the arrangement of the music for the 2006 Cirque du Soleil show, “Love” based on The Fab Four’s music. The Beatles would not have been The Beatles without George Martin.

And anytime you feel the pain
Hey Jude, refrain
Don’t carry the world
Upon your shoulders
“.

Martin and The Beatles

The Beatles in the Studio with producer George Martin circa 1967 (John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Martin (center) George Harrison and Paul McCartney. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Beatles: “Hey Jude” (Live performance from “Frost On Sunday” broadcast in the UK on September 8, 1968. Rebroadcast in the US on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” on October 6, 1968. Written by John Lennon & Paul McCartney).

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 285

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 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.

Oscar Levant said, “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity”. In music history one person who crossed that line was Phil Spector, who turns 80 years old today. Born December 26, 1940 in the Bronx, NY, he was highly regarded as the industry’s first auteur and the inventor of one of the defining sounds of the 1960’s. But there is no denying his story has a sad tragic ending. In 2009 he was convicted of the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson, which carried a 19 year sentence that will most likely end his life in jail (he will not be eligible for parole until 2024). In 2014 he lost his voice due to an illness that paralyzed his vocal chords and he is also reportedly suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

During Spector’s two trials (the first one ended in a mistrial because of a hung jury) his lawyers argued that his mental decline began in 1974 after he was badly injured in a car crash where he was thrown through the windshield. The serious head injuries he suffered required several hours of surgery with over 700 stitches to his face and the back of his head. He lost his father to suicide when Spector was only nine plus there were reports he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder at some point in his life. However, there was no mention of any type of drug regimen for that illness. None of this justifies the actions he allegedly took which led to Clarkson’s death, but I think anyone who draws a firearm to get someone’s attention as he was reported to have done on more than one occasion is not someone who is of sound mind. For more insight into Spector’s world throughout the trials, I recommend the 2013 HBO movie about him starring Al Pacino. He is riveting in the title role as Spector.

But there is also no denying how powerful his reach was in music. In 1960 he became the youngest person (to that date) to own a record label when he co-founded Philles Records with Lester Sill. Spector was primarily known as a record producer but he was also a musician and songwriter of hits like “To Know Him Is To Love Him”, “Walking In The Rain”, “Chapel Of Love”, “Spanish Harlem” and “Then He Kissed Me”, amongst others. He created the “Wall Of Sound” behind such groups as The Teddy Bears, The Ronettes and The Righteous Brothers. And it was Spector who took the songs from the Let It Be sessions and gave us the album of the same name. Whether you appreciated his work on that record or not, without him who knows how long it would have taken for that music to be released. And that was the album that made me fall head over heels in love with The Fab Four, so I cannot help but be grateful to Spector in that respect.

He also worked a lot with John Lennon (as co-producer of several of his solo albums including 1971’s Imagine) & George Harrison (as co-producer of All Things Must Pass and The Concert For Bangladesh, which won Spector his only Grammy Award for Album Of The Year in 1972). He also worked with The Ramones and had fans throughout the industry including Bruce Springsteen, who has often said he worked on his Born To Run album as if he were trying to recreate Spector’s signature sound. He is amongst only a handful of producers to have a number one record in three consecutive decades (1950s, 1960s and 1970s). That is an incredible feat.

Spector’s touch & influence on my musical choices is so clear that without putting any conscience effort into it, I have already shared six songs connected to him. One was produced by him (“Let It Be” Day 26), another was co-produced by him (George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”, Day 252) & four were written/co-written by Spector: Darlene Love’s “River Deep, Mountain High” (Day 77) & “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” (Day 278), The Ronettes “Be My Baby (Day 147) and The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” (Day 187).

I chose today’s track not only because Spector co-produced it but because it is from my favorite Beatle, George Harrison. And I also love the message of this song that whatever is happening, whatever we are going through, it is only temporary. This, too, shall pass.

Now the darkness only stays the nighttime
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good
At arriving at the right time
It’s not always gonna be this gray
“.

George Phil 1964

George and Phil 1971

Top: George Harrison (L) and Phil Spector (R) circa 1964. Bottom: Harrison (L) and Spector (R) in the studio in 1971. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

George Harrison: “All Things Must Pass” (1970, written by George Harrison).

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 267

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?

Dec 8

(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 December 1, 1971 John Lennon released today’s song in the U.S. Ten years earlier on December 6, 1961 Brian Epstein became The Beatles’ manager. What transpired in the decade between those two milestones is how Lennon went from a mop-top Beatle to a man who celebrated his honeymoon with Yoko Ono by having two bed-ins for peace for a world torn apart by the Vietnam War (by 2020’s standards consider it the first virtual protest). If nothing else took place in that decade, Lennon’s presence in it still would have changed the world.

In October we celebrated his 80th birth anniversary. Today marks 40 years since we lost him. To think four decades have passed is unfathomable. But the fact that his music is still being played and revered today is proof of his status as a legend. The words he wrote almost 50 years ago have as much meaning today as they ever have. Happy Christmas, John.

A very Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
“.

bed in John

John Lennon & Yoko Ono during one of their bed-ins for peace in 1969. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

John Lennon & Yoko Ono and The Plastic Ono Band with The Harlem Community Choir: “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” (1971, written by John Lennon & Yoko Ono).

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 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 227

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.

When I was a teenager and I would visit my cousins, they usually had music playing while they watched whatever sports game was on. They were huge Paul McCartney fans so for a while the album I heard the most was “Wings Over America”. As a Beatles fan myself of course I enjoyed it. But I must admit the one song I loved the best from that record was not by McCartney but rather the group’s lead guitarist, Denny Laine, who turns 76 today.

Born Brian Frederick Hines in England on this day in 1944, Laine started playing guitar very young, joined his first band at age 12 & took on the stage name he became known by. In 1964 he left his group and helped found the band that would become The Moody Blues. In November of that year they released their first single which is today’s song. It was first recorded earlier the same year by American singer Bessie Banks. By 1965 The Moody Blues version hit #1 in the UK and #10 in the US. When the band failed to capitalize on the success of that hit record Laine quit in October 1966 and was replaced by Justin Hayward.

For the next five years Laine played in a couple of other bands and made some music as a solo artist. In 1971 he, McCartney & his wife, Linda, formed Wings with the three of them staying as the consistent members until the group broke up in 1981. Laine put out two solo records during his time with Wings and continued with his own career when the band broke up. Rumour has it that Laine forced the band’s end when McCartney announced he no longer wished to tour out of fear for his safety after John Lennon’s death. But for ten years, Laine performed this song on tour with Wings and Paul & Linda McCartney were his back-up singers. Not a bad gig.

I don’t want you to tell me just what you intend to do now
‘Cause how many times do I have to tell you darlin’, darlin’
I’m still in love, still in love with you now
“.

Moody Blues 1964

Wings 2

Top: The Moody Blues circa 1964 (L-R): Clint Warwick, Graeme Edge, Denny Laine, Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas. Bottom: Wings circa 1978 (L-R): Linda McCartney, Paul McCartney & Laine. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Denny Laine with Paul McCartney & Wings: “Go Now” (recorded live for the 1976 album, “Wings Over America”. Based on the 1964 version by The Moody Blues. Written by Larry Banks and Milton Bennett).

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 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 216

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 song was written by singer Rick Nelson about his rather unhappy experience at an oldies show that took place in October 1971. He was on the bill along with superstars Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley & others. Ozzie & Harriet’s heartthrob son, who was 31 years old at the time & stopped going by “Ricky” since his 21st birthday in 1961, understandably “didn’t look the same” as the lyrics go. He began his set by performing two of his older hits which the crowd enjoyed. But their mood changed during his country cover of The Rolling Stones hit, “Honky Tonk Women”. Suddenly the audience started to boo, offending Nelson so much he walked off the stage and refused to return, not even for the all-star finale.

Eventually another story emerged that the crowd’s reaction was not directed at him but rather at police officers attempting to remove an over inebriated man from the arena. But the experience rattled Nelson so much he wrote about it in what became his last top ten hit ever in 1972. I grew up singing this with my mother because she adored it and played the single to death. I knew all the lyrics to the track but would not come to understand them until years later as they were basically written in code. For instance, two of The Beatles attended the show (as fans, not performers) so Nelson mentioned them with the lines “Yoko brought a Walrus” (about John Lennon and his wife Yoko) and “Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes wearing his disguise” (about George Harrison, as Hughes was supposedly Harrison’s alias and he was rumored to be making an album of all Bob Dylan songs at that time).

As for himself, Nelson wrote, “I said hello to Mary Lou, she belongs to me” in reference to his 1961 hit song “Hello Mary Lou” which he performed that night. The next line, “But when I sang a song about a honky tonk, it was time to leave” referred to him ending his set due to the crowd’s sour reaction to his cover song. By the last verse, Nelson mentioned one of the show headliners but not by his name (Berry),, but rather by using references to his most famous song: “…out stepped Johnny B. Goode, playing guitar like a-ringin’ a bell and lookin’ like he should“. The final line, “But if memories were all I sang, I’d rather drive a truck” was supposedly a reference to Elvis Presley who did just that while he was trying to get a record deal and not receiving too much recognition for either vocation. The song was Nelson’s final hit record. He died in 1985 in a plane crash at the very young age of 45, nine years before his mother.

In the years before MTV, many music artists appeared on variety shows to promote their songs. If they could not attend due to scheduling conflicts or tour dates, they would pre-tape their performance to be shown in place of a live one. I was fortunate to find the clip of Nelson singing today’s song with his band that I saw as a kid. It brought back unbelievably poignant memories. Music & YouTube are the closest things to time travel we will probably ever see in our lifetimes. 🙂

“But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well
You see, you can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself”.

Ozzie-Nelson-Harriet-Hilliard-David-Ricky-The

Rick 1

Top: The Nelsons circa 1955 (L-R): Ozzie, Harriet, Ricky & David. Bottom: Rick Nelson in 1972 in a still from today’s video. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Rick Nelson: “Garden Party” (1972, written by Rick Nelson).

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 211

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.

Four years ago today Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first time for an American citizen in 23 years. It put him in the same company with other great writers like Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and William Faulkner, amongst others. Dylan received this prodigious & well deserved honor “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

His road to this esteemed prize began in 1962 when he released his self titled debut album. Comparisons to one of his major influences, Woody Guthrie, were almost immediate. Dylan also drew inspiration from the blues, country music & rock & roll while he was growing up. He started playing guitar while he was in high school in Minnesota and his band covered songs by Elvis Presley & Little Richard. As much as Dylan enjoyed rock & roll music, he wanted his own music to show life in a more honest realistic way.

In 1960 he dropped out of college and soon relocated to New York City. It was there that he began performing but also where he would meet the man he called “the true voice of the American spirit”, Guthrie himself. Dylan started playing around Greenwich Village, getting great reviews for his work and playing on records by other folk singers like Carolyn Hester. It was through that collaboration that he met producer John Hammond who signed Dylan to Columbia Records. By 1962 he released his first record & legally changed his name from Robert Allen Zimmerman to Bob Dylan.

His debut album contained only two original songs but his sophomore release, “The Free Wheelin’ Bob Dylan” contained all his own material and the first of his many masterpieces, “Blowin’ In The Wind”. The record also included “I Shall Be Released”, “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”. His third album from 1964, “The Times They Are a-Changin'” cemented Dylan’s genius & his voice as the one to articulate the social issues of the era.

He took the world from his acoustic folk music to his electric guitar sound & introduced his back-up group, The Band, along the way. He influenced everyone from John Lennon to Joni Mitchell to Bruce Springsteen to Patti Smith to countless others. He has written some of the most iconic songs of the 1960’s & 1970’s and his profound words are what he is most revered and beloved for. The Nobel Prize is proof of what he has bestowed upon us all. To quote the many lines he is known for would take more than one blog post to list, so I will use one of my favorite verses from today’s song as an example of his immense talent. The phrase “national treasure” is overused sometimes, but if there is one person who defines the phrase perfectly, it is Bob Dylan.

Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms quite clear, no doubt, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then I’m younger than that now
“.

Dylan

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Bob Dylan: “My Back Pages” (1964, written by Bob Dylan).

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

Stay well.