Let’s Take A Moment Day 285

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?

Shakespeare 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.

Oscar Levant said, “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity”. In music history one person who crossed that line was Phil Spector, who turns 80 years old today. Born December 26, 1940 in the Bronx, NY, he was highly regarded as the industry’s first auteur and the inventor of one of the defining sounds of the 1960’s. But there is no denying his story has a sad tragic ending. In 2009 he was convicted of the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson, which carried a 19 year sentence that will most likely end his life in jail (he will not be eligible for parole until 2024). In 2014 he lost his voice due to an illness that paralyzed his vocal chords and he is also reportedly suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

During Spector’s two trials (the first one ended in a mistrial because of a hung jury) his lawyers argued that his mental decline began in 1974 after he was badly injured in a car crash where he was thrown through the windshield. The serious head injuries he suffered required several hours of surgery with over 700 stitches to his face and the back of his head. He lost his father to suicide when Spector was only nine plus there were reports he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder at some point in his life. However, there was no mention of any type of drug regimen for that illness. None of this justifies the actions he allegedly took which led to Clarkson’s death, but I think anyone who draws a firearm to get someone’s attention as he was reported to have done on more than one occasion is not someone who is of sound mind. For more insight into Spector’s world throughout the trials, I recommend the 2013 HBO movie about him starring Al Pacino. He is riveting in the title role as Spector.

But there is also no denying how powerful his reach was in music. In 1960 he became the youngest person (to that date) to own a record label when he co-founded Philles Records with Lester Sill. Spector was primarily known as a record producer but he was also a musician and songwriter of hits like “To Know Him Is To Love Him”, “Walking In The Rain”, “Chapel Of Love”, “Spanish Harlem” and “Then He Kissed Me”, amongst others. He created the “Wall Of Sound” behind such groups as The Teddy Bears, The Ronettes and The Righteous Brothers. And it was Spector who took the songs from the Let It Be sessions and gave us the album of the same name. Whether you appreciated his work on that record or not, without him who knows how long it would have taken for that music to be released. And that was the album that made me fall head over heels in love with The Fab Four, so I cannot help but be grateful to Spector in that respect.

He also worked a lot with John Lennon (as co-producer of several of his solo albums including 1971’s Imagine) & George Harrison (as co-producer of All Things Must Pass and The Concert For Bangladesh, which won Spector his only Grammy Award for Album Of The Year in 1972). He also worked with The Ramones and had fans throughout the industry including Bruce Springsteen, who has often said he worked on his Born To Run album as if he were trying to recreate Spector’s signature sound. He is amongst only a handful of producers to have a number one record in three consecutive decades (1950s, 1960s and 1970s). That is an incredible feat.

Spector’s touch & influence on my musical choices is so clear that without putting any conscience effort into it, I have already shared six songs connected to him. One was produced by him (“Let It Be” Day 26), another was co-produced by him (George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”, Day 252) & four were written/co-written by Spector: Darlene Love’s “River Deep, Mountain High” (Day 77) & “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” (Day 278), The Ronettes “Be My Baby (Day 147) and The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” (Day 187).

I chose today’s track not only because Spector co-produced it but because it is from my favorite Beatle, George Harrison. And I also love the message of this song that whatever is happening, whatever we are going through, it is only temporary. This, too, shall pass.

Now the darkness only stays the nighttime
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good
At arriving at the right time
It’s not always gonna be this gray
“.

George Phil 1964

George and Phil 1971

Top: George Harrison (L) and Phil Spector (R) circa 1964. Bottom: Harrison (L) and Spector (R) in the studio in 1971. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

George Harrison: “All Things Must Pass” (1970, written by George Harrison).

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 252

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.

A few days before starting my last year of junior high, I went shopping with a friend to buy a new pair of shoes for the school year. My dad gave me the money to buy them and decided I was now old enough to go on my own for this yearly tradition. As my friend and I were walking through the mall, I spotted a newly opened record store. I think you know what happened next.

I went in “just to look” & inhale the fabulous rows upon rows of vinyl records in a store five times the size of the one I usually shopped in near my house. My friend grew concerned, however, when she noticed my glassy eyed stare as I flipped through the H bin and found, in all of its magnificent glory, George Harrison’s 1970 three album boxed set solo masterpiece, “All Things Must Pass”. This record had eluded me for years because each time I went to buy it either it was sold out or too expensive. And the only way I could buy it that day was to use my shoe money. My friend reminded me of the wrath and possible body cast that I would get from my father if I made such a reckless choice. But to me it was a no brainer and clearly worth the risk, so I bought the album. I could figure a way out of the hole I dug myself into later. For now, I was on a high that even my friend’s look of sheer horror could not shake me from.

She still had to buy her own shoes so off to that store we went. As I sat next to her while she tried on multiple pairs, I got lost in the reverie of my first boxed set as I read through the song listings and the liner notes. But my friend kept asking my opinion on her options so I left my happy place to offer my help. I liked her final choice and decided when I came back, I would buy the same pair. I also decided I should try them on then & there so it would save me some time on my next trip. But they did not have any size that fit me as that summer my feet turned into cruise ships. The clerk told me he could order a bigger size and it would take about a week to come in. The music gods had smiled on me. My dad would tell me to hold onto the money to pick up the shoes when they came in and with a steady babysitting gig I could earn back the cash I had spent on the album. Win win.

That night I bathed in the glory of The Quiet Beatle, The Spiritual Beatle, The Youngest Beatle. Both versions of “Isn’t It A Pity” were glorious as was the title track, “Beware Of Darkness”, the cover of Dylan’s “If Not For You”, the track he wrote with Harrison, “I’d Have You Any Time” and today’s song. It was the album’s first single released 50 years ago today November 23, 1970. It featured an array of guest performers including former Beatle Ringo Starr on drums & percussion, Billy Preston on piano and five musicians on acoustic guitar in addition to Harrison: Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton and three members of the first band signed to The Beatles’ Apple label, Badfinger (Pete Ham, Tom Evans & Joey Molland). But it was Harrison’s vocal & slide guitar arrangement that put the song over the top. And the love for the tune was universal as it went to #1 in the US, the UK and 15 other countries. This was the record that told the world that as great as he was in The Beatles, Harrison was a star all on his own.

I really want to see you
Really want to be with you
Really want to see you Lord
But it takes so long, my Lord

All_Things_Must_Pass_BW

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

George Harrison: “My Sweet Lord” (1970, written by George Harrison).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.