Let’s Take A Moment Day 138

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?

Charlie Brown No Music No Life

(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 WANT MY MTV!!!

It was 39 years ago today that this channel premiered and music was never the same again.  A station dedicated to letting the world see the music (and the people behind it) as well as hear it was revolutionary.  The rotation began with maybe 10 videos but that did not prevent me from watching it non-stop for hours at a time.  Music videos changed the game for fans and the industry alike.  But unlike streaming that has caused artists to lose control of their own copyrighted material in addition to their earnings, MTV was a money mother lode for anyone willing to climb on board the novel concept.

At first it was newer artists that appeared frequently on the channel, but eventually everyone jumped on the bandwagon.  Some ran with the concept-Hall & Oates, Huey Lewis & The News, Billy Squier, Michael Jackson-to name a few.  Soon even my heroes were embracing the genre.  Remember a pre-“Friends” Courtney Cox’s fancy footwork with Bruce Springsteen in the “Dancing In The Dark” video?  Or watching Eric Clapton’s beautiful hands play fiery solos on his Strat while singing “Pretending” in the pouring rain?  Or an elegantly dressed Marvin Gaye extolling the benefits of “Sexual Healing”?  Videos from other 1970’s artists followed including Elton John, Rod Stewart, Steve Winwood and a host of others who welcomed and embraced the new MTV audience.

Vintage clips of great musical moments were featured like the Beatles first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show”, performances from the 1967 Monterrey Pop Festival and the 1969 Woodstock concerts as well as the live broadcast of 1985’s “Live Aid” show from both America & the U.K.  Suddenly our living rooms were front row seats to the best music had to offer.  And thanks to directors from the TV & movie industries getting in on the trend (“Dressed To Kill” director Brian De Palma was the man behind Springsteen’s first clip), by the end of the decade and into the 1990’s videos became an art form.  The “Unplugged” series introduced us to the more intimate side of live performances.  Other music stations including VH1, BET and FUSE followed, but none compared to the original and its level of cool.

If there is one song that defined the early years of the MTV phenomenon, it is today’s.  While the references to homosexuals are outdated & considered offensive in this era of acceptance, and the once ground breaking channel is merely a reality show based venue in these days of YouTube and Instagram stories, this song still has the power to instantly transport those of us who were there at the beginning to the excitement of the new medium.  And to the poor choice some people made to wear sweatbands in their videos.

Now that ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
You play the guitar on the MTV
That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Money for nothing and your chicks for free“.

The MTV moon man logo circa 1981 (R) and John Illsley (bass guitarist)  and Mark Knopfler (lead guitarist) of Dire Straits circa 1985.  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Dire Straits:  “Money For Nothing” (1985, written by Mark Knopfler and Sting a/k/a Gordon Sumner).

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 #10

The next song on my list is dedicated to my mother who was a big fan of the singer in the #10 spot on my countdown.  His dance moves on stage earned him the nickname “Mr. Excitement” by some and “the black Elvis” by others. But make no mistake:  This man had a voice like no one else before or after him.  The singer?  Jackie Wilson.  The song?  “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher”.

Reaching #6 on the charts in 1967 & written by Gary Jackson and Carl Smith, rumor has it that Wilson recorded the vocal track for this song in one take.  If that is true, it is an incredible testament to his magnificent voice and talent.  He had an astonishing 47 R&B hit songs from 1958 to 1973.  They ran the gamut from ballads to dance tunes to true soul numbers. He was so popular overseas in 1963 that the Beatles opened for one of Wilson’s shows.

“Higher & Higher” is as close to perfect as a song gets, from its perfectly delivered lyrics, to its great impossible-to-sit-still-to-so-get-up-and-move beat, to the incredibly pristine horn arrangements, to the fantastic bass line, to the polish of the entire production. There are not too many love songs like this one, probably because there are not too many performers like Wilson.

His exuberant stage performances were copied by the likes of James Brown, Michael Jackson and Bruno Mars, to name a few.  But no matter how great his dance moves were, nothing compared with the range, power, intensity and considerable passion of Wilson’s voice.

Sadly, that voice was silenced in 1984 when Wilson was just 49 years old.  He became incapacitated after suffering a heart attack on stage in 1975 and spent his remaining years in a nursing home.  As was unfortunately common practice in the early days of Rock & Roll, Wilson died virtually penniless due to the machinations of his record company and manager.  The end of Wilson’s story is one of the saddest in music history.

He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 by Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band.

Notable covers of “Higher & Higher” have been done by Dolly Parton, Rita Coolidge, and Rod Stewart.  But my favorite cover is by one of my heroes (and future husband, if God is listening), Bruce Springsteen.  He started playing this song live with more and more frequency in the last decade, usually as one of his encores.  He and the E Street Band gave it everything they had in this clip from one of their shows in 2009.

Enjoy!!!