Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #4

A music countdown of any kind would never be complete without a song from the King himself, Elvis.  And a Valentine’s Day list of great love songs would never be complete without his 1961 hit  “Can’t Help Falling In Love“.

Written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore & George David Weiss, the song hit #2 on the Pop chart & #1 on the Easy Listening chart for six weeks.  It was featured in the movie “Blue Hawaii” and the soundtrack went on to spend 20 weeks in the #1 spot on the Albums Chart.

I cannot imagine anyone, male or female, who is not captivated by Elvis’ delivery of such beautiful and heartfelt lyrics:

“Take my hand
take my whole life too
For I can’t help
falling in love with you”

This song was Elvis’ finale for the last decade of his career, but my guess is women swooned as much then as they did during the early days of his hip shaking career.  One listen to this or any Elvis song for that matter and you understand why there was no one like Elvis Aaron Presley and there never will be.

He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 by Julian and Sean Lennon.  This year would have marked the King’s 80th birthday and even though he has been gone almost 40 years, you can still celebrate his legacy by taking a pilgrimage to Graceland.

I had the exquisite pleasure of hearing Bruce Springsteen perform this song as one of his encores, and it was phenomenal.  Of course Bruce’s voice is nothing like Elvis’ but then again who’s is?  But Springsteen gave the song all the passion he had , which made his performance simply gorgeous.  It was especially poignant for me as I sat there in the crowd thinking, “I am watching my musical idol sing a song by my mother’s musical idol.  Too cool.”

If only she could have been there with me to enjoy it in person.  Sigh.

Enjoy!!!

Image result for valentines day clip art

Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #8

The next song on my countdown is another duet (like song #14) but this one features a female/male collaboration by two of rock music’s most notable voices.  My pick at #8, a song which reached #6 on the Hot 100 Chart in 1982, is “Leather & Lace“.

The song was written by legendary singer/songwriter/Fleetwood Mac band member Stevie Nicks who recorded it with one of her old flames, Don Henley of the Eagles.  Nicks originally wrote the song for country superstar Waylon Jennings and his wife Jesse Colter’s 1981 album.  Despite naming it after the song, the husband & wife duo ended up leaving it off the record (I know, right???).

So Nicks added it to her debut solo album, “Bella Donna”, which was released the same year.  The song was the second single after “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around“, another duet recorded with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

“Leather & Lace” is like many of Nicks’ songs:  well written and well performed.  But the biggest appeal of it for me is how grown up and unschmaltzy the lyrics  are.  I love how direct they are, and how in their beautiful honesty you hear the story of love between adults, first from the perspective of the strong self-assured woman:

“I have my own life and I am stronger
Than you know
But I carry this feeling
When you walked into my house
That you won’t be walking out the door”

To the open and honest standpoint of the male putting it out there without fear of being shot down or belittled (OK yes, it is written by a woman but come on, Ladies, which one of us would not melt if a man ever said (or sang) these words to us):

“And you were right
When I walked into your house
I knew I’d never want to leave
Sometimes I’m a strong man
Sometimes cold and scared
And sometimes I cry”

To both parties acknowledging their desires and differences not as obstacles, but rather as things to be shared:

“I need you to love me
I need you today
Give to me your leather
Take from me my lace”

If there was ever a song perfect enough to celebrate that all important moment when a couple crosses over from “we” to “us”, I believe it is this one.

Enjoy!!!

BONUS:  If you want a good laugh, check out Will Ferrell and Dave Grohl’s version here.

TRIVIA:  Do you know what happened 51 years ago today?  The Beatles arrived in America for the first time.

Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #11

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame describes the singer at #11 as having a forlorn, crying vocal style.  I describe him as unbelievably great.   My pick at #11 is “When A Man Loves A Woman” by Percy Sledge.

The passion in Sledge’s voice coupled with the power of it and the delivery of the lyrics exudes pure unadulterated soul on every level.  Sledge’s roots are in gospel and that is evident in every note he sings.

This phenomenal song hit #1 in May 1966 for two weeks on the Hot 100 chart and four weeks on the R&B chart.  It also hit #1 on the pop charts again in 1991 when Michael Bolton recorded his own version of the song.

Sadly, the song’s lyrics and music were actually written by Sledge but in what can only be called terribly misguided judgment, he gave the writing credits to two members of his band-Cameron Lewis and Andrew Wright-because they put together the song’s arrangement.  Sledge had several other hits throughout his career, but none of those songs came close to the beauty or the power of this one.

Sledge was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 by one of his biggest fans, Rod Stewart.

The clip of the song I have included is a live performance by Sledge.  I found it on YouTube but I do not know what show it is from.  But what I do know is that the man who introduced Sledge is none other than soul legend Otis Redding.  If any of you know what show it is from, please share it in the comments below.

Enjoy!!!     

Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #12…..And A Sad Anniversary

Before we get to today’s countdown song, let’s take a minute to observe the 56th anniversary of the day the music died. On February 3 1959, a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa claimed the lives of musicians Buddy Holly, J.P. Richardson a/k/a the Big Bopper and Richie Valens.  Holly was 22, Richardson was 28 and Valens was just 17 years old.  They were all part of a three week long American city tour called the Winter Dance Party.

What a lot of people do not know is that country music legend Waylon Jennings, who was a member of Holly’s new band after he parted ways with the Crickets, was supposed to be on the flight but gave up his seat to Richardson because he had the flu.

If you saw the movie based on Valens’ life story, “La Bamba”, you know that Valens won his seat in a coin toss from another of Holly’s band members.  One more member of the tour, Dion Dimucci (of Dion & the Belmonts), decided he could not afford the ticket for the flight so he passed on a seat.

The crash was so devastating to the music industry and fans alike it was dubbed “the day the music died” then and in Don McClean’s song “American Pie” which was released over a decade after the crash.  Ironically, the song was number one in 1972 on the anniversary of the crash.

The musical influence of Holly and Valens never waned, and both were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and 2001, respectively.  As of 2015, J.P. Richardson has not been elected to the HOF.

For countdown song #12, we visit one of my favorite periods of music ever-the Motown era.  So many of my favorite singers have come from the Motown years:  Marvin Gaye, David Ruffin, Stevie Wonder and Levi Stubbs.  In fact, it is Mr. Stubbs’ group-the  Four Tops-that sang my #12 favorite love song.  “I Believe in You & Me“, written by David Wolfert and Sandy Linzer, was released in 1982.

It is unequivocally one of the highlights of Stubbs’ career, showcasing not only the range of his voice but its passion as well.  His delivery is clear, smooth and so heartfelt it saves the borderline syrupy sentiment of some of the lyrics to ones that are just moving and hopeful.  Even the esteemed Whitney Houston could not deliver her 1996 cover of this song any where close to the beauty of Stubbs’ original.  We lost his voice in 2008, and music in general has never quite sounded the same to me since.

The lyrics refer to love as a miracle, and the older I get and the more I realize how hard true love is to find, I believe romantic love may really be a wonder after all.

Enjoy!!!

Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #14

Happy February Vixens!!!

I have a love hate relationship with a lot of holidays.  I like to decorate for most of them but I do not like being told I have to feel something based on a date on the calendar instead of how I feel in my heart.  The worst offender to me is Valentine’s Day.

I like to express my love to my significant other, my family and everyone else in my life every day, so I do not feel the need to do it just because the calender reads February 14.  Don’t misunderstand me-I like pretty things.  I am a girl, after all.  But part of me cannot help but see this merely as a commercial holiday designed to sell cards, flowers and candy so I am reluctant to join in on the excess commercialism of it all.  Plus I hate the color red, especially for roses (I think pink or white ones are soooo much prettier!!!)

I also hate bubble gum music of ANY kind, and sappy syrupy love songs are the worst!!!  However, there are indeed some really great love songs out there and my favorites do not require an insulin shot to listen to.

So over the next two weeks I will be counting down my favorite love songs.  Hopefully it will not only help you handle all the hype surrounding this holiday, but it will also keep that overwhelming feeling to amputate your own ears away (okay, maybe that is just me).

My first pick, “A Love Song“, is from one of my favorite duos of all time. Kenny Loggins & Jim Messina.  It appeared on L & M’s third album, “Full Sail”  in 1973.  It was a hit for Anne Murray the same year but her version only included two of the three versus.  This song is simple, succinct and beautiful, and has a similar vibe to “Danny’s Song” which was released two years earlier.

Enjoy!!!