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 173

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?

Bruce 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.

There was an endless array of music available in the mid 1960’s.  There were bands that were part of the the British Invasion, groups from Motown, folk artists which translated into singer/songwriters and good old pop acts.  There was also a group that was just pure soul rock and that was Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels.  Ryder, born William Levise, Jr., with his unbelievable ability to encompass blue eyed soul in his rough bellowing signature voice, is undoubtedly one of the best soul rock singers ever.  

He started singing when he was a teenager, greatly influenced by his father, also a musician.  He was the lead singer of two bands in high school and it was the second one that eventually became The Detroit Wheels: lead guitarist Jim McCarty, rhythm guitarist Joe Kubert, bassist Earl Elliot and drummer Johnny Badanjek.  Together they had several hits between 1964-1967 including “Jenny Take a Ride”, “Little Latin Lupe Lu”, “Sock It to Me, Baby!” and today’s song before Ryder left for a solo career.  Unfortunately neither he nor the band achieved the success alone they did as a group.  But together they were a force to be reckoned with.    

Ryder also has the distinction of being the last person to ever sing with Otis Redding.  The two men closed a local Cleveland TV show together with a performance of “Knock On Wood” on December 9, 1967.  It was the next day that Redding, four members of his band, The Bar Kays & their valet died in a plane crash with the pilot. 

I discovered Ryder through-who else, Bruce Springsteen-when I bought the “No Nukes” concert album in 1979 and heard his cover of what he named the “Detroit Medley”.  It included parts of today’s pick plus two other songs, “C.C. Rider” & “Jenny Take A Ride” before seguing back to the first song to close it out.  This performance, however, was not included in the movie as the powers that be chose three other Springsteen performances for the film:  “The River”, “Thunder Road” & his cover of Gary U.S. Bonds’ 1961 hit, “Quarter To Three”.  But because of Bruce I discovered Ryder & The Wheels which is yet another reason why I love The Boss.   

Wearin’ her perfume, Chanel No. 5
Got to be the finest thing alive
Walks real cool, catches everybody’s eye
Catch you too nervous and you can’t say hi“.  

Ryder The Wheels
Mitch Ryder (center) with The Detroit Wheels circa 1964.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels:  “Devil With A Blue Dress On/ Good Golly Miss Molly” ( 1966, “Devil With A Blue Dress” written by Frederick “Shorty Long and William “Mickey” Stevenson circa 1964 and “Good Golly” written by John Marascalco and Robert “Bump” Blackwell circa 1955).   

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

Stay well.

Christmas Song Countdown #10

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

I wanted to share with you a creative way some people are being festive.

Country Living Magazine’s site features trees made of books!!!

I think they are adorable!!!

small-book-tree

Courtesy:  Country Living Magazine

The singer with the #10 song is my second favorite singer ever after Bruce Springsteen.  More importantly, he is probably the greatest soul singer who ever graced this Earth.  The power of his voice, the passion he sang with, the intensity of emotion he put into every single note is what we remember most about him.  And it sealed his legacy as the King of Soul.

His voice put Stax Records on the map.  His death at the age of 26 on this day 49 years ago was the end of the label, for all intents and purposes.  A month after his death the last song he recorded was released.  Soon after it became the #1 song in the country.  This year his foundation celebrated the 75th anniversary of his birth.

The night before his death, he & his band the Bar Kays (most of whom died with him in the plane crash that took his life), performed “Respect” on a show called Upbeat.  Over the closing credits, he sang “Knock On Wood” with Mitch Ryder.  It is 88 seconds of joy.  Thanks to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, you may watch that here.

During his short career, he recorded two Christmas songs.  Ironically enough for me, Bruce Springsteen covered the first one (Merry Christmas Baby).  The second one is today’s pick and by far my favorite of the two.

bruce-merrychristmasbaby

Courtesy:  Eric Meola

Otis Redding:  White Christmas.

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!!!

book-trees

Courtesy:  Country Living Magazine