Let’s Take A Moment Day 137

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.

Only two famous musicians are known to have played with both The Beatles as a group and then with all four members individually.  The first is my great love Eric Clapton, who played lead guitar on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, although he went uncredited on The White Album.  He then went on to play with Lennon in The Dirty Mac (along with Keith Richards on bass and Mitch Mitchell, the drummer from The Jimi Hendrix Experience) and on several songs by Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band.  Clapton played with Paul on his 2001 song, “Freedom” & at The Concert For George.  Clapton co-wrote “Badge” for Cream with George, played on his 1970 album, “All Things Must Pass” and appeared at The Concert For Bangladesh in 1971 with him as well.  Ringo was also at The Concert For Bangladesh and Clapton wrote music & played guitar for Ringo’s 1976 album, “Ringo’s Rotogravure” and 1983’s “Old Wave” amongst others.  Clapton also played with Ringo in person at The Prince’s Trust Concert in 1987 as well as The Concert For George in 2002.

The other musician to boast the same accomplishment with The Beatles was Billy Preston.  He was nicknamed “The Fifth Beatle” after playing organ for them on “Abbey Road” (on “I Want You (She’s So Heavy”) & “Something”), then he played electric piano on the “Let It Be” album and in the movie during the rooftop concert scene for “Get Back” & “Don’t Let Me Down”.  After the band broke up Preston played on John’s song “God”, on George’s album “All Things Must Pass” and at The Concert For Bangladesh.  Preston also played on a few of Ringo’s solo albums (1973’s self titled record & 2005’s “Choose Love”), in his All-Starr Band & at The Concert For George (where he sang a rousing version of “My Sweet Lord”) and played with Paul at this show as well.  And for added interest, Preston played Sgt. Pepper in the 1978 film of the same name where he sang his own version of “Get Back”.

He was hailed as a self-taught child prodigy who played with Mahalia Jackson & Nat King Cole by the ages of 10 and 11, respectively.  By the age of 16 he met The Beatles in Hamburg, Germany when he was playing with Little Richard’s band.  Later that year he played for Sam Cooke and five years later, he joined Ray Charles’ band.  He has played on several albums for The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton while working on songs by artists like Luther Vandross, Patti LaBelle & The Band.  Preston also worked as the musical director for David Brenner’s short lived late night show, Nightlife, from 1986-1987.  He co-wrote today’s song with songwriter Bruce Fisher and both men also penned the Joe Cocker hit, “You Are So Beautiful” (there are rumors that Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys had a hand in writing it as well but allegedly his brother Brian Wilson said that was not the case).  Preston died too young at the age of 59 in 2006 but left a legacy of great performances that showcase just how gifted he was.

Billy Preston in 2002 at The Concert For George (L) and as Sgy. Pepper (R) in the 1978 movie of the same name.  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Billy Preston:  “Nothing From Nothing” (1974, written by Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher).

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 117

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.

For as much as the Beatles influenced a generation, The Beatles themselves were inspired by their idols.  Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Little Richard and Elvis had a huge impact on the Fab Four.  So did Buddy Holly.  Even the name of The Beatles came from John Lennon thinking naming a band after an insect was the way to go following Holly’s lead in calling his band The Crickets.

Holly is long remembered for his all too brief but eternal contribution to the early days of rock & roll with songs like “That’ll Be The Day”, “Oh Boy”, “Rave On”, “It’s So Easy To Fall In Love” and others.  But in reality his death had as much of an impact on the world as his life did since he died so young and with two other singers, one even younger than Holly’s 22  years.  I often read articles where people speculate how different music might be today if Holly were alive.  But that is just a waste of time.  Holly fulfilled his destiny or he would be here.  It’s just that simple.  He was only meant to be here for the time we had him and not a minute more.  We may hate it, but that was the plan all along.  But what a legacy we have to enjoy from his brief tenure as rock & roll’s prince.

B Holly

Buddy Holly circa 1958.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Buddy Holly & The Crickets:  “Not Fade Away” (1957, written by Buddy Holly and Norman Petty).

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 56

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?

Peanuts 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.

In one of my all time favorite movies, Diner, there is a great scene where a husband admonishes his wife for not following the correct procedure to listen to his records.  He worships music, she just likes to hear it.  How they ever got together is beyond me.

Wife:  “What are you getting so crazy about?  It’s just music.  It’s not that big a deal.”

Husband:  “It is!  Don’t you understand this is important to me!”

Later, he gives her a record and tells her to ask him a question.  “You never ask me what is on the flip side of a record.”

Wife:  “No, because I don’t give a shit.  Who cares about what’s on the flip side of a record!”

Husband:  “I do!  Every one of my records means something.  When I listen to my records, they take me back to certain points in my life.”  Amen.

The record in the middle of this exchange was “Good Golly Miss Molly” with “Hey Hey Hey Hey” on the flip side.  The artist?  Little Richard, who we lost over the weekend.  I am so very sad to say goodbye to this incomparable talent.  His outlandish and commanding stage performances, his high pitched “woos” and his boogie woogie style piano playing helped him become one of the first crossover black artists in the late 1950’s while laying the groundwork for soul and funk.  No wonder he was given three titles of honor:   The Innovator, The Originator and The Architect of Rock & Roll.

The Beatles were part of his earliest admirers and opened for his concerts when he was touring Europe in 1962.  The US leg of that same tour featured Sam Cooke as the opening act.  Billy Preston and Jimi Hendrix were both members of Little Richard’s bands in 1962 and 1964, respectively.  When John Lennon made his “Rock & Roll” record in 1975 it included two Little Richard covers:  “Slippin’ and Slidin'” and a medley of “Rip It Up/Ready Teddy”.  Little Steven Van Zandt added the “Little” to his name in honor of his musical hero.  The list of admirers is endless.  Little Richard was just that good.  Was.  Past tense.  Incredibly big sigh.

I have not shared a song by him yet because I was having trouble trying to pick only one.  I had it narrowed down to three but got stuck there.  But he needs to be honored so I am choosing the last song of his I listened to prior to his death.  Godspeed, Richard Wayne Penniman.  You were one of the greatest kind.

 

(Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Little Richard:  “Long Tall Sally” (1956, written by Enotris Johnson, Robert Blackwell and Richard Penniman).

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 45

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?

Peanuts 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.

If I had to pinpoint how rock & roll music officially began, my timeline would be this:

1908:  The year American bandleader & swing/big band/R&B musician Louis Jordan is born.

1916:  The year American rockabilly songwriter Claude Demetrius is born.

1926:  The year American guitarist Charles Edward Anderson Berry is born.  The world would come to know him as Chuck Berry.  Soon he learns to “play a guitar just like a-ringin’ a bell and, oh my, that little country boy could play”.

1946:  Demetrius writes a song (co-written with Jordan’s wife, Fleecie Moore) called “Ain’t That Just Like A Woman” which Jordan records and turns into an R&B hit the same year.

1958:  Berry writes and records his semi-autobiographical groundbreaking hit, “Johnny B. Goode”.  The song begins with a note for note replica of the introduction to Jordan’s 1946 song, written by Demetrius.  A new sound is born from combining music from the swing/big band/R&B/rockabilly genres and Berry is christened “The Father of Rock & Roll”.

Young impressionable youths like John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix and many others are entranced by what Berry does with a guitar.  Fast forward to 1963 & 1964 where The Beatles record Berry covers “Roll Over Beethoven” & “Rock & Roll Music ” and stop by America for that Sunday night show at the same theatre David Letterman was in and there you have it.

Yes, Elvis (who covered a few of Berry’s songs, including today’s), Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Carl Perkins and many other early architects of this new sound were coming up around the same time as Berry.  However, his musicianship, his stage dance moves (most notably the “duck walk”) and his songwriting talent made him a triple threat and set him apart from the others.  Elvis will always be the King, but Berry was and remains The Master.

Today’s song also has the distinction of being part of NASA’s Voyager Space Mission as one of the pieces of music from Earth.  And honestly, can you imagine Marty McFly sliding across the floor to any other song in “Back To The Future” than this one?

Chuck-Berry-Johnny-B-Goode

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Chuck Berry:  “Johnny B. Goode” (1958, written by Chuck Berry).

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 #2

The next singer on the countdown had what I believe was the greatest voice EVER.  No one before or since can sing a song with such a heart wrenching achingly impassioned vocal that was Otis Redding’s signature sound.  His talent for writing songs was also phenomenal, as he either wrote or co-wrote such classics as “Respect”, (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”,  “I Can’t Turn You Loose”, “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember”, “These Arms of Mine” and the #2 song on the countdown, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long“.

Co-written with Jerry Butler and released in the spring of 1965, the song hit #2 on Billboard’s R&B chart & #21 on its  Hot 100 chart, giving Redding his first hit song.  The lyrics are simple, straight forward yet unbelievably powerful in Redding’s pleading vocal:

My love is growing stronger, as you become a habit to me
Oh, I’ve been loving you too long
I don’t wanna stop now

This song is ranked #110 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list, with Redding ranked at #8 on their list of the 500 Greatest Singers of All Time.  If you have never heard this man’s glorious voice or this song, please listen to it now.  You have been denied this gift long enough.

Or better yet, watch Redding’s entire performance from 1967’s  Monterey Pop Music Festival.  This song comes on at the 6:53 mark, but all 5 songs Redding delivers in his high energy persona are worth the watch (not to mention a glimpse of Booker T & the MG’s and the Mar-Keys providing the music to his phenomenal show) .  If you have never seen any part of this performance, it will change your life.  Nothing I write will come close to describing this legend of soul.

Redding was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 by Little Richard.

In the blog featuring the #10 song on the countdown, I wrote that the end to Jackie Wilson’s story was one of the saddest in music.  Well, Redding’s is the first, in my humble opinion.  His entire music career took place by the time he was 26 years old, with the exception of his only #1 record which hit that spot several weeks after his death (for “Dock of the Bay”, which also earned Redding two posthumous Grammy Awards for Best Male R&B Performance and Best R&B Song).  Add to that the fact that Redding left behind a young wife, three very small children and only gave us a glimpse of what his voice could have done for the world throughout his future career, and the story is almost too sad for words.

Redding died in a plane crash in Wisconsin’s Lake Monona on December 10, 1967.  Five members of his touring band, the Bar-Kays, were also killed.

I have been to the R&R HOF twice since it opened, and while I loved the history of it all and the spectacular artifacts on display to help illustrate the story that is rock & roll, it was unbelievably daunting to come thisclose to the display showcasing parts of the twin-engine Beechcraft plane wreckage Redding was killed in.  The fact that we have lived without his voice for almost half a century is heartbreaking enough on its own.

At least we had him for a little while.  What a gift he was to music.

Enjoy!!!