Let’s Take A Moment Day 248

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.

It’s funny how certain dates follow people throughout their lives. For example, on November 7, 1972 The Divine Miss M, Bette Midler’s debut album, was released. Not only did it get a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year but Midler won the Best New Artist Award for that record. On the same date in 1979, Midler’s movie, “The Rose” came out. It gave her a top five hit with the song of the same name (Day 50) and earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

I cannot remember the first time I saw Midler. I believe it was on a TV variety show before I saw an HBO special of hers based on her nightclub act from the 1970’s. But that is the one that stuck. I was completely taken with her voice, her fearless & commanding stage presence and her comedy. And as fabulous as the up-tempo songs were, it was the ballads that completely captivated me. When I heard her debut album, I fell in love with her cover of one of Leon Russell’s most beautiful songs. It was co-written by Bonnie Bramlett of “Delaney & Bonnie” fame who sang the original version in 1969 featuring Eric Clapton on guitar. Swoon.

This song was a hit for The Carpenters in 1971 and it was that interpretation that led to Chris Farley and David Spade’s unbridled emotional sing along in the 1995 movie, “Tommy Boy”. Karen Carpenter’s version is heartbreakingly beautiful without a doubt, but with the increased tempo of the chorus you are given a chance to breathe. Midler’s cover just crushes you from start to finish. It is not just her sadness that is palpable but her agony as well, especially by the end of the track. It is simply sublime.

Long ago, and, oh, so far away
I fell in love with you before the second show
Your guitar, it sounds so sweet and clear
But you’re not really here, it’s just the radio
“.

Bette

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Bette Midler: “Superstar” (1972, written by Bonnie Bramlett and Leon Russell).

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 192

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.

September 23 marked the 90th birth anniversary of the man known as “The Genius”, Ray Charles. He gave us so much spectacular music throughout his career and there is nothing I can write about him that has not already been expressed. He was one of the greats, an absolute legend, a phenomenal performer and an American treasure. And one of the best singers to take another person’s song and make it his own.

One of my favorite examples of this gift is a song he included on his 1993 album, “My World” It was written by another piano man, Leon Russell. He was another multi-talented performer who had a voice similar to that of Gregg Allman and hit those keys like Charles. Russell spent nearly 60 years playing & singing with some of the best known artists of the 20th century like Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Ike & Tina Turner, The Rolling Stones, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Joe Cocker and so many others.

Russell wrote hit songs like “This Masquerade”, “Lady Blue”, “Tightrope”, “Hummingbird”, “Delta Lady” & today’s track. It was covered by The Carpenters, Donny Hathaway, Willie Nelson, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse and, of course, Charles. His version won him his third Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1994 and brought out the heart of this song unlike anyone before or after, including Russell. But they are his words that Charles brought to life so beautifully.

I love you in a place where there’s no space or time
I love you for my life, you are a friend of mine
And when my life is over, remember when we were together
We were alone and I was singin’ my song for you
“.

ray charles

Ray Charles circa 1968. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Russell

Leon Russell in 1971. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Ray Charles: “A Song For You” (1993, written by Leon Russell).

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 125

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.

Today’s song has been covered by a myriad of artists including Robert Plant, The Four Tops, Bob Seger, Johnny Cash (as a duet with his wife, June Carter Cash) and Leon Russell, and all of them are great versions.  But my favorite one was recorded by Walden Robert Cassotto, better known by his stage name, Bobby Darin.  It was a top ten hit for him in 1966.  If you are not too familiar with Darin, it is very easy to write him off as a novelty act because of his first hit song, “Splish Splash”.  But make no mistake, he was an excellent musician playing guitar, piano and drums.  He also wrote and recorded songs in all different types of musical genres including pop, rock & roll, jazz, swing, country & folk.

That is how he took us from “Dream Lover”, “Mack The Knife” and “Beyond The Sea” in the 1950’s to today’s song and “Simple Song of Freedom” in the 1960’s.  He began his career as a songwriter at The Brill Building in NYC, the same place where Carole King & Gerry Goffin started.  It was there that Darin met & was signed by record executive Ahmet Ertegun, who discovered people like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton (when he was in the band, Cream), Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Led Zeppelin.  I think Darin’s vocal has a haunting sadness in it that just resonates throughout today’s song.  And with superb lyrics by songwriter Tim Hardin and a beautiful arrangement, this tune just had everything it needed to be something both remarkable & unexpected all at once.

Save my love through loneliness
Save my love for sorrow
I’ve given you my onlyness
Come give your tomorrow.”

Bobby-Darin-The-Direction-Albums-

Bobby Darin circa 1969.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Bobby Darin:  “If I Were A Carpenter” (1966, written by Tim Hardin).

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.

Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #6…..& A Happy Anniversary

Before we get to the countdown, let’s take a moment to recognize a happy anniversary-and one of the most important events to occur in music history.

On February  9, 1964 the Beatles made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.  They performed “All My Loving”, “Till There Was You”, “She Loves You” “I Saw Her Standing There” & “I Want To Hold Your Hand”.

Sunday nights, not to mention music itself, was never ever the same again.

For those of you lucky enough to have witnessed the performance the night it took place, you were part of history in the making plus you had a front row seat to the start of the British Invasion.

BONUS:  Congratulations to George Harrison who was honored with a Lifetime Achievements Award for his work as a solo artist at the Grammy Awards last night.

My #6 pick in the countdown is “A Song For You” by Ray Charles written by Leon Russell.

I never thought I could choose from the genius that is Charles.  After all, this is the man who took “America The Beautiful;” and made it seem as if it were written for only him.

Perhaps what made it easy to narrow down was the beautiful marriage of Charles’ voice with simplistic beauty of Russell’s lyrics:

“You taught me precious secrets
Of a true love, withholding nothing
You came out in front and I was hiding
Now I’m so much better
And if my words don’t come together
Listen to the melody
Cause my love is in there hiding

I love you in a place where there’s no space or time
I love you for my life
You’ re a friend of mine
And when my life is over
Remember when we were together
We were alone and I was singing this song to you”

This song earned Charles the 12th Grammy Award of his illustrious career in the category for Best Male R & B Performance in 1994.  There is nothing I can write about Ray Charles that has not already been written except that the world became a sadder place when we lost his voice in 2004.  He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of fame in 1986 by one of his closest friends, Quincy Jones.  Here’s one of my favorite songs the two did together, with a little help from Chaka Khan.

Enjoy!!!

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