Let’s Take A Moment Day 162

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.

I have not yet finished celebrating the recording anniversary of the “Layla” album (see Day 159) only to find an even bigger milestone upon me.  Forty-five years ago today-August 25, 1975-another album that changed my life was released.  Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” is my heart.  It claimed it when I was 12 years old and has never let go.  He was 25 when it came out, and a year younger when he wrote lines like “You’re scared and you’re  thinking we ain’t that young anymore”. from “Thunder Road”.  He explained why in 2005 on VH1’a “Storytellers”:  “These songs were written in 1974, which is only two years after the end of the Vietnam War and nobody was that young anymore”.

On the same show he said this album was “his big invitation to his audience, to himself, to anybody that was interested to a long earthly journey. Hopefully in the company of someone you love, people you love and in search of a home you can feel a part of.”  So glad I went along for the ride. It was like taking the road less traveled and realizing it was the best one after all.  I will love Bruce forever.  He is home to me.

In an interview on BBC Television in 2016, Springsteen said he spent six months writing this album & six months recording it and as it went on it developed into this very big piece of music.  That is putting it mildly.  Today’s song is one of two on the album that does not feature a sax solo by The Big Man.  As much as I love to hear his signature sound, his absence is barely noticeable in this exquisite symphony.  This song is another one of Springsteen’s cinematic masterpieces that is like a six hour mini-series disguised as a six minute song.  It features colorful characters, dark imagery & tells the story of betrayed friendships in an absolutely heartbreaking way.  Every part of the song is a work of art, but if one instrument stands out, it is Roy Bittan’s piano.  His playing is astonishing.  As The Bossman has been for me virtually all of my life.  Swoon.

Blame it on the lies that killed us, blame it on the truth that ran us down
You can blame it all on me Terry, it don’t matter to me now
When the breakdown hit at midnight there was nothing left to say
But I hated him and I hated you when you went away“.

BTR 1

One of the pictures taken by Eric Meola during the “Born To Run” photo session in 1975.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Bruce Springsteen:  “Backstreets” (1975, written by Bruce Springsteen).

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 159

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.

Today is a huge milestone, both in my world and the music world as a whole.  Fifty years ago today-August 22, 1970-the recording sessions for the album, “Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs”, by Derek & The Dominos began in Miami, FL.  Four days later, August 26, engineer Tom Dowd took the group to see an Allman Brothers Band concert.  According to drummer Butch Trucks, that was the one time he saw his bandmate, guitarist Duane Allman, nervous when he spotted the Dominos’ Eric Clapton in the front row.  After the show Dowd introduced the two guitarists and an all night jam session ensued.  When it ended, Allman asked if he could stay to listen to the recording work.  Clapton agreed on one condition:  that Allman play on the album.  He did and that is how two of the most brilliant guitar players in the world teamed up to bring us one of the most unforgettable and iconic riffs ever on the album’s title track.  Sa-woon.

I would not discover this album, namely the title track at first, until nearly a decade later, when I was about 14 years old.  But I will never forget the first time I heard it (see Day 86) because it completely changed my life and what I thought music should sound like from that point on.  But when I went to buy this masterpiece, I could not find it.  My local record store guy told me it was out of print!!!  I had no idea that could even happen!!!  Since this was years before I could drive to other stores in search of this gem, and decades before the world had the internet & ebay, I was relegated to trying to record the song from the radio.  I mostly ended up with a dozen clips of the piano coda.

A few months later, I started babysitting for a couple around my neighborhood.  The wife knew I loved music and encouraged me to bring my records over to listen to after the kids were in bed.  The first time I went there, her husband showed me how to use the stereo system and told me to feel free to listen to any of his records.  His collection consisted of 237 albums.  It was like a record store right there in the living room.  When the kids were asleep, I put my copy of “Born To Run” (BTR) on the stereo & began looking through the records which were not in any particular order.  I put several aside I wanted to listen to before coming across an album with an abstract painting of a blonde haired woman on it.  There was something covering half her face which turned out to be a bouquet of flowers.  It was very pretty but it did not have a name or title on it.

The album opened up but there were not any identifying names inside either, just a collage of pictures of people I did not recognize.  When I turned it over, I saw a picture of a guitar in the middle of the floor surrounded by an array of several other objects, but I still did not see a name.  What I did see were the album song listings below the picture.  It was a double album and when I got to side 4 track 3 & read the title, “Layla”, I said it over and over as if I was trying to convince myself it was real.  I remember thinking could there be another song with the same name other than the one I could not find because there is no way the actual “Layla” album could just fall into my lap like this, right?  Then my eye went up to the top of the back cover where I finally saw the title of the album:

LAYLA
and other assorted love songs
  DEREK AND THE DOMINOS

Layla framed

Top (L) The front and back covers of the “Layla” album.  The picture on the front,”La Jeune Fille au Bouquet” (Young Girl with Bouquet) is by Émile Théodore Frandsen. Top (R) is the inside of the album.  The bottom picture is my framed copy of the iconic album.  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

I do not remember what happened immediately after that.  I might have passed out for several minutes, I might have let out a huge internal scream, I cannot really recall.  But I do recollect that my hands were shaking and I did not know what day it was.  When I regained my clarity, I was in complete denial that I had found the actual “Layla” album.  I opened it up to look at the pictures of the band again but I did not see anyone that looked like Clapton from photos I saw of him previously, so I still refused to believe my luck.  Then I took the albums out to read the song titles and saw his name credited under several of them.  Finally I decided the only way to know for sure was to put the record on and listen to it.  So I took BTR off the turntable (sorry Bruce) and put on side 4.  As I held the needle over track 3, I said a prayer that if this was indeed the real “Layla” song I had been searching for, I would never ask for anything again.  Ever.  I put the needle down, closed my eyes and held my breath.  Then I heard that unsurpassable delicious opening riff and I swooned.  And said thank you for the gift of such a sublime song, for stumbling upon this album and for everyone involved with making this musical paragon.

I stood there and listened to that one track for the next 90 minutes or so until the parents came home.  When the wife walked in she asked if I was alright because she said I was completely flushed.  I picked up the album to show her what I was listening to when her husband walked in as well.  He just looked at me, nodded and said “Clapton”.  And I nodded right back.

I asked if I could come back the next day to tape the album but he told me to take it home and bring it back next week when they wanted me to babysit again.  He also gave me his copy of “Slowhand” to take as well so I could have a Clapton double play party.  I had a new hero helping me learn more about one of my musical heroes.  It was exhilarating to find another kindred spirit who got music & all its wonder the way I did, the way the first cool autumn wind feels after the endless humid days of summer.

Once I listened to the whole “Layla” album I discovered other gems like “Bell Bottom Blues” (See Day 81), “It’s Too Late” and “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad“.  On that last one, Allman’s solo segues into “Joy To The World” (yes, the Christmas carol.  Give it a listen.  You hear it at the 3:45 mark of the song and it is stupendous).

The last time I babysat for that couple before I left for college, the husband gave me that album as a going away gift.  I still have it, in a frame on a wall next to the two other albums that changed my life, BTR and “Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul”.  Aside from a handful of family heirlooms, those three records would be the things I would save in the event of a catastrophe.  It’s only right.  After all, they saved me.  How could I not do the same for them?

Duane and Dominos

L-R:  Allman with Derek & The Dominos in Miami, FL 1970 (L-R):  Duane Allman, Jim Gordon (drums), Carl Radle (bass), Bobby Whitlock (piano & vocals) & Eric Clapton, center (guitar & vocals)..  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Eric and Duane

Clapton & Allman in Miami, FL 1970.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

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

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 124

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 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.

Earlier this week drummer & percussionist Jamie Oldaker passed away at age 68.  He specialized in a few different music genres including rock, blues and country.  He played with a lot of diverse artists including Bob Seger, Leon Russell, Stephen Stills and Freddie King.  But I will remember him best for all the work he did with Eric Clapton, including as one of his drummers during his Live Aid set.  You can see both men in action by watching that performance on YouTube (they did three songs:  “White Room”, “She’s Waiting” & “Layla”).  Incidentally, that show took place 35 years ago this month.  That is absolutely mind-boggling to me!!!

Clapton wrote a really sweet tribute to his former drummer on his Facebook page today, crediting Oldaker’s sound as the reason Clapton wanted to play music again after getting lost in his drug addiction for too long in the early 1970’s.  Oldaker’s magic is heard on Clapton’s 1977 album “Slowhand” & 1978’s “Backless”.  So when you hear songs like “Cocaine”, “Wonderful Tonight”, “Lay Down Sally” and today’s pick, that is Oldaker’s superb rhythm you are hearing.  Today’s song has special meaning for me because for about two months when I was a teenager, I went to sleep with this record on every night.  Every.  Single.  Night.  I found it calming, soothing and a bit of a lullaby thanks to the “la la la” chorus.  And falling asleep to Clapton’s voice was a guarantee of oh so sweet dreams.

Rest in peace, Jamie.  Thank you for all the great music and for reuniting Clapton with his guitar.  All of his fans owe you so much.

 

Eric Clapton (R) and drummer Jamie Oldaker (L) at the Live Aid concert at the John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia on July 13, 1985.  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Eric Clapton:  “Promises” (1978, written by Richard Feldman and Roger Linn).

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 86

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?

Kerouac

(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.

As all of you have realized by now, I love music.  Moreover, I am in love with it.  For me, it is one of the most beautiful & most necessary parts of life.  What would our lives sound like without it?  How would we transport back in time to special moments or years in our lives without it?

I can remember where I was the first time I heard certain songs because the impact they had on me was just massive.  They were so beautiful it actually hurt to listen to them.  The first time I heard the opening guitar riff of Derek & The Dominos “Layla” I froze.  All I could think was, “what the hell was that?”  Then the second riff followed and I thought, “My God, what the hell is that?”  I managed to stagger to the edge of my bed, sat down and stared directly into the radio as if a sign was going to pop up to tell me what this unbelievably gorgeous but heartbreaking sound was that I had never heard before.  I remember having to close my eyes and take in some deep breaths because I was in sensory overload.  And this was before Eric Clapton sang.  One. Single. Note.

Decades later and I still lose my breath whenever I listen to it.  And that includes the absolutely sublime four minute piano exit with the chirping birds at the end.  No wonder Scorsese used that part of it to end the movie “Goodfellas” with.  He is an artist who appreciates the craft of a fellow artist.  There was a reason someone declared “Clapton is god” back in the late 1960’s when this song was not even an idea yet.  He is just that  insanely talented.

As much as that song impacted me, so has today’s.  It is a beautiful ballad by a man who, initially frustrated by how long it was taking for his wife to get ready for them to go out, used that time to write a love letter to her.  No grand gestures, no gifts, no sugary metaphors, no special circumstances needed.  Just the love for his wife in an ordinary moment.  Simple.  Elegant.  Breathtakingly beautiful.  Eric Clapton has single handedly given every man alive a lesson on how it is done (although one missed it as evidenced in this commercial).  Bravo to an incredibly great man.  And to this unbelievably gorgeous song.

I feel wonderful because I see
The love light in your eyes
And the wonder of it all
Is that you just don’t realize how much I love you.”

Eric-Clapton 6 30 1990 Knebworth

Eric Clapton at the Knebworth Concert, June 1990.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Eric Clapton:  “Wonderful Tonight” (1977, written by Eric Clapton).

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 81

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?

Kerouac

(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.

For those of you who do not know the history of George Harrison and Eric Clapton, allow me to fill you in.  The two met in the mid 1960’s while Harrison was a Beatle and Clapton was in the Yardbirds.  They became closer friends as the decade progressed.  Clapton went on to join the band Cream in 1966, and wrote the song “Badge” with Harrison.  Clapton also played lead guitar on”While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that Harrison wrote for “The White Album”.  The two men stayed friends after the Beatles broke up, and Clapton played at Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh in NYC in August 1971.

While all this friendship and music was going on, Clapton began to have very strong feelings for Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd.  According to her autobiography and his, along with statements he has made over the years, she spurned his advances in 1970 leading him to write many songs about her on the album, “Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs”, while he was a member of the band, Derek & The Dominos.  He said it also led to his heroin addiction that he would not recover from until approximately 1973.  A year later Boyd finally decided to leave Harrison because of his repeated infidelities & go to Clapton.  They were married in 1979 and Harrison harbored no ill will toward the new couple and the three remained friends.  Say it with me:  wow.

Clapton & Boyd’s love story was short-lived, however, and the two divorced in 1989.  But Boyd cemented her place in rock history as one incredible muse.  She inspired Harrison to write several love songs while he was with The Beatles including “Something”, “If I Needed Someone” and “For You Blue”.  Clapton wrote “Layla”, “Wonderful Tonight” and today’s song for her.  Let’s say it again:  wow.   I love all the music included here, but Clapton’s vocal expression of romantic pain & agony in today’s song is remarkable.  Plus I really adore the song’s title, which Clapton said came from Boyd asking him to buy a certain pair of blue jeans for her from America when he went there for a tour.  Whether you like Clapton or not, you have to admit it is one hell of a story.  And he is one hell of a musician.  Wait, how could you NOT like Clapton???

Bell bottom blues, you made me cry
I don’t want to lose this feeling
And if I could choose a place to die
It would be in your arms“.

Top:  Derek & The Dominos ((L–R: Jim Gordon (drums), Carl Radle (bass), Bobby Whitlock (keyboards & vocals) & Eric Clapton (guitar & vocals).  Bottom:  Clapton circa 1975.  Right:  Pattie Boyd & George Harrison circa 1966.  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Derek and the Dominos:  “Bell Bottom Blues” (1970, written by Eric Clapton and Bobby Whitlock).

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

Stay well.

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!!!