Music Monday: January 16, 2023

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.

Bruce quote 2023

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I just finished the Showtime mini-series, George & Tammy, based on the true story of star crossed lovers & country music royalty, George Jones & Tammy Wynette. From several reviews I have read online, both Michael Shannon & Jessica Chastain portrayed the title characters incredibly well. I am not familiar enough with the original artists to comment on that one way or the other. But I have loved Chastain since her performance as Celia Rae Foote in the 2011 film, The Help. I also thought the actress captured the spirit of the title character in The Eyes Of Tammy Faye beautifully in her Oscar winning turn as the former first lady of the PTL.

I was not familiar with any of Shannon’s work prior to this series, but was very impressed by both his performance as an actor and a singer in his turn as Jones. He and Wynette were not artists I listened to. Their brand of music was a little too country for me-the heavy twang guitar, the almost overwhelming background singers or the songs about the struggles to raise a family or to find love after a D-I-V-O-R-C-E just did not speak to me. I knew they were both successful artists but I had no idea about the extent of their fame until I saw this series.

Their relationship had been compared to the story in the film A Star Is Born because Wynette was on her way up when she met Jones, a singer she idolized but whose drinking put his once illustrious career on a down turn. At the start of the series an on-screen note named him “the undisputed king of country music” in the late 1960’s who was slipping due to his heavy drinking. But with his third wife-Wynette-he had several career resurges with their numerous hit duets along with prolific periods on his own. That included today’s song, which was a #1 country hit in 1974 and his 1980 smash, “He Stopped Loving Her Today”. In my reasearch on Jones during the series, I also learned that his first #1 country hit, “White Lightning” from 1959, was written by J.P. Richardson, better known as The Big Bopper.

Jones & Wynette’s story is quite sad without question and not just because they were divorced in 1975 after only six years of marriage. They both struggled with addiction issues, multiple marriages & neglected children. Yet it appears the great love and passion they had for each other continued even after their subsequent marriages. The series was based on the book written by their daughter, Georgette, so perhaps there is a bit of a slant here as her perspective is skewered as most children’s perceptions of their parents romantic bond usually is. Plus her own relationship with her father was spotty at best until Wynette passed away in 1998 and Jones became sober for good in 1999. He died in 2013.

I am very late to this party but I must admit I have been obsessed with today’s song since I heard it in Episode 4. Shannon & Chastain did their own vocals throughout the series and his performance, especially on this track, was fantastically on point. It is a sad love song and was a perfect fit for the scene it appeared in. George & Tammy had just spent their first night together after she moved to a new home on the heels of an especially violent bender Jones was on. She had also started divorce proceedings and George found the papers. That ended their reunion and he left her house despondent, heartbroken and angry.

After apparently drowning his sorrows with a few drinks, George ends up at the recording studio where members of his team watch him deliver the vocal for this track. Ironically it was co-written by the man who would become Tammy’s fifth husband, George Richey (played by the utterly delightful & versatile Steve Zahn in the miniseries). It tells the story of a broken marriage & the no longer happy house the couple once shared, now empty of their love but spilling over in heart-wrenching memories of their better days. Interspersed with George singing in the studio are clips of Tammy taking pills & then lying in a hospital bed after an alleged possibly accidental suicide attempt.

I prefer Shannon’s interpretation even if I had not heard it first simply because it does not include the heavy country elements of the original. But Jones’ version is music history and is a sad footnote & reminder of what he and Wynette had and lost. It is country heartache at its best.

I have nothing here to sell you
Just some things that I will tell you
Some things I know
Will chill you to the bone
“.

George and Rammy series

Tammy

album

Top: Showtime’s promotional photo for its latest mini-series, “George & Tammy”. Middle: The real Tammy Wynette (L) and George Jones (R) circa 1972. Bottom: Jones’ 1974 album, The Grand Tour. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

George Jones: “The Grand Tour” (1974, written by George Richey, Carmol Taylor and Norris Denton “Norro” Wilson).

Michael Shannon: “The Grand Tour” (2022, written by George Richey, Carmol Taylor and Norris Denton “Norro” Wilson).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: January 2, 2023

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.

Bruce quote 2023

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Happy 2023, everyone. To paraphrase John Lennon, let’s hope this new year is a good one. I do not like to have expectations, but I have always thought of 23 as a good number. It has always been one of my favorites, it belonged to my most loved NY Islander (Bobby Nystrom), it was Jack Shephard’s number on “Lost” and he saved the island (if you have never seen the show you need to binge it NOW-it is unbelievably fabulous).

One of the best parts of a new year is the feeling of a clean slate in front of us. The chance to write or tell any story we wish within the parameters of what life has in store for us. Whatever new chapter we are starting to write for ourselves this year, it will start the same way as the others-with a blank page.

Found someone who can comfort me
But there are always exceptions
And she’s good at appearing sane
But I just want you to know
“.

Traffic

Traffic’s 1970 album. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Traffic: “Empty Pages” (written by Jim Capaldi and Steve Winwood).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: December 26, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Well, we are at the end of another year. This time next week we will be in 2023. I want to thank you all for being here for the last 365 days. It means so much to me. I appreciate all of you. And I look forward to you joining me in the new year which I hope is a good one for all of us.

While celebrating all things Christmas for the last 25 days, I missed an important music birthday: Keith Richards turned 79 years young. The long time Rolling Stone guitarist & one half of the group’s prolific songwriting team was born December 16, 1943 in Dartford, Kent, England.

For 60 years The Stones have done it all, from being part of the British Invasion to defining classic rock to playing with their own musical heroes to reaching legendary status. And Richards has been one of the most recognizable faces behind the band with a sound that helped put The Stones in their rightful place in music & cultural history. I chose today’s song because I hope it is something will all get to be in 2023.

Happy birthday, Keith & Happy New Year to all of you.

“Always took candy from strangers
Didn’t wanna get me no trade
Never want to be like papa
Working for the boss every night and day
“.

Stones 2010

The Rolling Stones circa 2000 (L to R):  Charlie Watts, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Ron Wood.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Rolling Stones: “Happy” (1972, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: November 28, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I hope you all had a wonderful extended holiday weekend of eating, shopping, resting or all three. Before we get to today’s songs (yes, plural as we have another triple play) let me remind you that the Christmas Music Coundtdown begins on December 1. For each of the 25 Days of Christmas, I will feature a different holiday song. I would love to hear some of your favorite music choices for this festive season so please share them with me in the comments below.

Today we are celebrating three milestones with three songs. The first is about one of my childhood heroes. Charles M. Schulz, the absolute genius who gave us Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts Gang, was born 100 years ago on November 26, 1922. Nothing in my life was ever the same after my first glimpse of the characters Schulz created. Meeting that brilliant, warm, quirky, kind, wise, friendly, talented, and irascible group introduced me to some of the best friends I ever had.

Their holiday specials, books and the comic strip, the merchandise & the movies remain as much a part of my life now as they ever did. And it is all thanks to the man known as “Sparky” to his friends. Part of the appeal of his gang was how relatable and human they were-they had real feelings, real hopes, real wants, real needs and real fears. They were children but not childish. And they loved to have fun which translated into lots of music and dancing to grown up songs. How do you thank one man for so much?

CB and Sparky

Family Circys Schulz tribute

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Lockhorms Schu;lz tribute

Top: Charles M. Schulz and his famous friend, Charlie Brown, circa 1965. Then three of the many cartoonists who remembered Sparky on the 100th anniversary of his birth including Bil and Jeff Keane of “Family Circus“, Lynn Johnston’s “For Better or For Worse” and Bunny Hoest and John Reiner’s “The Lockhorns. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Twenty years later one of the most iconic films of all time was introduced to the world when Casablanca  premiered on November 26, 1942. Eight decades later, Humphrey Bogart & Ingrid Bergman’s tale of love and loss during World War II remains one of the most beloved movies of all time with a theme song no one can ever forget.

Casablanca

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in a scene from “Casablanca:. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

That same year one of the greatest musicians to ever set an instrument on fire-both figuratively and literally-came into the world. James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix was born  November 27, 1942 in Seattle, WA. A singer, songwriter and performer best remembered as one of the prenier guitarists in rock music made a name for himself with original songs but also with one of a kind covers of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” and our National Anthem.

According to his website, Hendrix was a member of the “Screaming Eagles” paratroop division during his serivce to the U.S. Army in the early 1960’s. By the middle of that decade, he was playing with Ike and Tina Turner, Sam Cooke, the Isley Brothers, and Little Richard before forming his own band, Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. The rest is rock music history. Despite his death over 50 years ago, Hendrix is still unsurpassed in his esteem & tenure as one of the greatest of the greats.

Jimi

Jimi Hendrix circa 1967. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Vince Guaraldi Trio: “Linus And Lucy” (1964, written by Vince Guaraldi).

Frank Sinatra: “As Time Goes By” (1962, remastered in 1999, written by Herman Hupfeld).

Jimi Hendrix: “Little Wing” (1967, written by Jimi Hendrix).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: November 14, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Novenber 12 marked birthday #77 for Neil Young, Both an acoustic master & a rocker at heart, this Canadian native has been making music for over five decades as a solo artist and in classic rock bands, The Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

His lyrics make me feel as if I speak and understand another language. Whether it is his perspective on life, love, death and everything else we see or encounter in this world, Young’s vision is all his own but makes it ours as well. His stories are raw, beautiful and heartbreaking in one aching succinct eloquent tale after another. But they are his to tell and ours to celebrate.

Happy birthday, Neil Young.

Ten silver saxes
A bass with a bow
The drummer relaxes
And waits between shows
“.

Neil Young circa 2000. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Neil Young: “Cinnamon Girl” (1969. written by Neil Young).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: September 19, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

September 9 marked the 81st birth anniversary for The King Of Soul. Otis Ray Redding Jr. was born in 1941 in Dawson, Georgia and lived in that state for his entire all too brief life. Like many soul and R&B artists, he started his career singing in church when he was a child. By the age of 17 he had already won numerous local talent shows and became a member of Johnny Jenkins and The Pinetoppers.

In 1962 Redding drove Jenkins to Stax Records in Memphis to record a few songs. His session ended early so Redding was given that time to record some of his own tracks by none other than Jim Stewart, one of the owners of Stax. The rest of the story involves five incredibly short but unbelievably powerful years that would account for Redding’s entire career. And what an outstanding one it was.

If you are not already a fan, I suggest you find any of his performances from the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival on YouTube and watch them. I promise it will bot only change your mind, but your life as well. The energy, the passion, the soul, the presence, the unmitigated joy this man experienced on a stage was unmatched. That is why he remains a legend in every sense of the word.

Today’s song holds the number two spot on my top ten list of favorite songs of all time. The album of the same name was released in February 1968, a mere two & a half months after his death. But it changed music forever, as did Redding himself.

Look like nothin’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same”.

Otis circa 1965

Otis Redding circa 1965. (Image courtesy of otisredding.com. Original source unknown.)

Otis Redding: “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” (1968, written by Steve Cropper and Otis Redding).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: Sept 12, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Before we get to our song, let me pay tribute to four women who are quite dear to me. On September 14, 1985 my Girls, the world’s Girls, “The Golden Girls” debuted on NBC. And they have not left the airwaves in the last 37 years, living on in syndication & fans’ hearts all around the world. I love them for more reasons than I can ever count, but especially for how current they were on music. They made references to Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash and Prince, to name a few. Just one more reason why they were four of the coolest bad-ass chicks on the planet. Long live The Golden Girls! And a ginormous thank you to show creator Susan Harris & all the people behind the cameras who brought the show to life.

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The Golden Girls on their couch (L-R): Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Betty White and Estelle Getty. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

For as happy as the above anniversary makes me, it also reminds me that when I was watching that show the first time around, most of my life was still ahead of me. That is not the case now. And it forces me to take pause and reflect. Not only on what I have to be grateful for but also for those I have lost. And that makes me feel very sad.

Add to that the 21st anniversary of 9/11 yesterday, the fact that Great Britain is now in a mourning period for a Queen they celebrated for 50 years but more importantly, a family lost a mother, a grandmother and a great grandmother, plus the world continues to fight a pandemic after two & a half very long years. The passage of time just keeps reminding me not all changes are happy ones. Many transitions were and continue to be difficult.

Sometimes I just need to face that. So for today, I am going to let myself feel down. And hope tomorrow this weight will feel a little lighter. As always music is the way I cope, whatever mood I am in. Today, that mood is blue. Whatever color day you are having (Blanche Devereaux referred to some of her off days as “magenta”), I hope you enjoy today’s song. I do not know when or where I first heard it but I love it. Especially on days when the colors win.

You know my heart keeps tellin’ me
You’re not a kid at thirty-three
You play around you lose your wife
You play too long you lose your life
“.

Good_Time_Charlie's_Got_the_Blues_-_Danny_O'Keefe

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Danny O’Keefe: “Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues” (1972, written by Danny O’Keefe).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: August 15, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.

It was 57 years ago today that The Beatles made history in New York for the second time in two years. On August 15, 1965 the band played their now famous concert at Shea Stadium. It was the first time a musical group held a show in that type of venue in the United States. The Fab Four performed 12 songs-eight originals, four covers-during their 30 minute set in front of a sold out crowd of nearly 56,000 fans. Most of that crowd were young girls screaming so hysterically they drowned out the music, including today’s song.

I cannot even imagine what it must have been like to witness the kind of history The Beatles made on their first trip to America in February 1964, let alone the monumental concert nearly six decades ago. But I relived it vicariously through Sally Draper when she screamed & jumped for joy after her father, Don, told her he was taking her to the concert. That episode of “Mad Men” (S4 E10) aired 45 years after “The First Play At Shea”, but what a way to let those of us who missed Beatlemania experience a piece of that magic.

Thank you John, Paul, George & Ringo for EVERYTHING.

You tell lies
Thinking I can’t see
You can’t cry
‘Cause you’re laughing at me
“.

Beatles Shea

The Fab Four on stage in Shea Stadium in 1965 (L-R): Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Beatles: “I’m Down” (1965, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: August 8, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Nearly 50 years ago one of my favorite bands released their debut album. Bad Company’s self-titled first record came out in the summer of 1974. They were classified as a supergroup because all four members were once in other successful groups: drummer Simon Kirke and lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist & keyboard player Paul Rodgers were in the band Free; lead guitarist Mick Ralphs was in Mott The Hoople and bass player Boz Burrell was a part of King Crimson. All four members of Bad Co. were songwriters but Rogers & Ralphs handled the majority of that task. The band also had the distinction of being the first group signed to Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song record label.

The debut album was a #1 hit & was followed by five other records until Rodgers left the band in 1982. He returned a few times after that, staying for good in 2008. Kirke has been with the group all along. Sadly, Burrell died of a heart attack in 2006 and Ralphs left the band in 2016 due to medical reasons.

If there was an audio definition for the word “underrated”, I think any song by Bad Co. would suffice. The musicianship was top tier and Rodgers soaring powerful & distinct vocals put them in a universe all their own. Yet they have been snubbed by the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame for over 20 years and none of the members have ever received any type of British honor, either. I find both of those facts sad & disturbing.

They are part of classic rock royalty & are still one of the strongest most recognizable bands of the 1970’s. Today’s song is from their debut album & remains my top pick from that record. The music from this incredible quartet is intense, incredible and captivating while Rodgers’ voice elevates the entire experience to a stunning level. To quote the song, “Bad Company ’til the day I die”.

Company
Always on the run
Destiny
Is a rising sun
“.

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Bad Company circa 1974 (L-R): Boz Burrell (bassist), Mick Ralphs (lead guitarist), Paul Rodgers (lead vocalist) and Simon Kirke (drummer). (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Bad Company: “Bad Company” (1974, written by Simon Kirke and Paul Rodgers).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: August 1, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Unless you were asleep for most of last weekend, you know that music-actually life, for that matter-got a much needed win during this year that just will not stop disappointing us. On Sunday July 24, the legend known as Joni Mitchell made an unexpected yet glorious return to the stage at the 2022 Newport Folk Festival.

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Joni Mitchell on stage at the Newport Folk Festival on July 24, 2022. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

She sang, she played guitar & she brought the crowd to their feet proving she is still as vibrant & as moving as ever. This after fighting her way back from a serious health crisis-a brain aneurysm in 2015-that took her out of commission. I learned she has been slowly making her way back over the last few years, mostly by way of the “Joni Jams” she hosted in her living room to stay in touch with her musical friends. Earlier this year she was named Musicares Person Of The Year and last year she was celebrated as a Kennedy Centers Honor recipient.

If you need a crash course in her genius, influence & reach, there is a whole 2013 “Parenthood” episode centered around her music (S5 E4, “In Dreams Begin Responsibility”), not to mention an endless supply of YouTube videos to choose from.

The last time Mitchell played at Newport was 53 years ago in 1969. That was the same year she released today’s song. She has written some really beautiful ones in her life but this one makes me tear up every time. It took me years to appreciate the talent of this woman and for that I will always feel ashamed. But this track is her pinnacle, as was her performance last weekend on a magical stage in New England.

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost but something’s gained
In living every day
“.

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Joni Mitchell circa 1969. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Joni Mitchell: “Both Sides Now” (1969, written by Joni Mitchell).

Stay safe and well.