Let’s Take A Moment Day 307

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 still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life 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.

Before today’s song, I want to wish the happiest of birthdays to a most spectacular “Golden Girl”, Betty White. This legend of radio, TV & film turns 99 today & has been entertaining the world for 82 years. I was lucky enough to meet her in May 2011 when she came to Barnes & Noble in Lake Grove, NY to sign copies of her book, “If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t)“.

She was an absolute delight. I was in complete awe, told her meeting her was like meeting one of the Beatles which made her laugh. But when I told her she & the other three Golden Girls were like my surrogate mothers from their very first episode she smiled and squeezed my hand. It was one of the most cherished moments of my life. Keep rocking, Betty. You are loved, worshiped & revered. And an absolute riot!!!

Betty White

Betty White in May 2011 in Lake Grove, NY. (credit: Me!!!)

Music nightclubs have been around forever, but for the music I love, some of the best saw the 1960’s & 1970’s as the peak of their success. The Troubador in West Hollywood, CA introduced artists like Elton John, Tom Waits & James Taylor. The Fillmore in San Francisco, CA hosted Cream, The Grateful Dead & blues greats Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. At NYC’s Fillmore East Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane and The Allman Brothers (who recorded their first live record there in 1971, At Fillmore East) appeared. Max’s Kansas City was a favorite hangout spot for John Lennon when he first moved to NYC, Deborah Harry was a waitress there and artists like The Velvet Underground & David Bowie performed there. Two other NYC clubs-The Bottom Line & CBGB’s hosted Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Linda Ronstadt & Van Morrison at the former and Patti Smith, Blondie, The Talking Heads and other punk/new wave artists at the latter.

Another West Hollywood club, The Whiskey-A-Go-Go, opened January 11, 1964 and quickly became one of the top music venues for up & coming artists. Two of my favorites-The Doors & Otis Redding-were featured there and it helped put them on their respective musical maps. For Redding especially this was a huge moment in his early career as it led to the recording of his live album, In Person at the Whisky a Go Go. It was recorded during his three shows in April 1966 but not released until October 1968, nearly a year after his death. A second release, Good to Me: Live at the Whisky a Go Go, Vol. 2, was released in 1993.

The shows at the club took place a year before Redding’s mainstream success thanks to his rousing performance at The Monterey Pop Festival in the summer of 1967. It included today’s song which was first recorded in 1932 but Redding’s version 34 years later took on a whole new style due in part to the producer, soul legend Isaac Hayes. Booker T & The M.G.’s played on the record & with Redding in person at the Monterey show. Redding’s complete five song set from the concert along with Jimi Hendrix’s performances were released on the 1970 album, Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival. Redding’s are included on a few of his posthumous releases plus you can also find the videos on YouTube. Today’s song was his last number of the night and it is nothing short of spectacular.

It’s not just sentimental no, no, no
She has her grief and care, yeah, yeah, yeah
But the soft words they are spoke so gentle, yeah
It makes it easier, easier to bear”.

Otis at Monterey

Otis Redding on stage at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967. Alan Jackson (back) was the drummer that night with the band Booker T & The MG’s. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Otis Redding: “Try A Little Tenderness” (Live performance at The Monterey Pop Festival in June, 1967. Originally recorded in 1966. Written by Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly and Henry MacGregor “Harry” Woods).

I only own the rights to the Betty White picture, nothing else. I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 302

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 still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life 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.

Every decade seems to have an immensely talented artist who is on the way to having a notable career in music until a plane crash ends his life. In the 1950’s we had the three singers who died together-Buddy Holly, “The Big Bopper” J. P. Richardson & Ritchie Valens. In the 1960’s it was Otis Redding. And in the 1970’s it was Jim Croce.

He was born 78 years ago on Jan 10, 1943 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He released five studio albums between 1966 and 1973 which included one with his wife, Ingrid. They were married in 1966, the same year he released his first album made with his own money. His musical career began in earnest when he was a student at Villanova University. He started playing in bands, performing in coffee houses & university parties. After he was married he served in the Army National Guard & continued to work on his music. He was also working various odd jobs to earn money to support his family, which by 1971 included his son, Adrian James (A.J.). A year later Croce signed a record deal with ABC Records.

His third album, “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim”, was released in April 1972, It featured four hits: “Time In A Bottle”, “Photographs and Memories”, the title track & today’s pick which I absolutely adore. It is one of those songs that brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. I am no stranger to sad love songs but one where a guy loses his girl to his “best old ex-friend” is especially heartbreaking in a simple yet elegant way. And despite the fact that this song is almost 50 years old & the profession Croce sings about no longer exists, it does not seem dated to me at all. It just feels like a beautiful sadness.

Croce died at the age of 30 in a plane crash on September 20, 1973. The five other passengers onboard were his guitarist Maury Muehleisen, 24, comedian George Stevens, 36, who was the opening act at Croce’s shows; his road manager Dennis Rast, 30; Croce’s booking agent Kenneth D. Cortose, 28, and the pilot. Croce’s son A..J. became a singer-songwriter himself & often performs his father’s songs in concert.

Operator, oh, could you help me place this call?
‘Cause I can’ t read the number that you just gave me
There’s something in my eyes, you know it happens every time
I think about a love that I thought would save me
“.

croce

Maury Muehleisen (L) and Jim Croce (R) circa 1973. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Jim Croce: “Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels)” (1972, written by Jim Croce).

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 301

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 still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life 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.

Time for another rock & roll birthday. Rod Stewart was born on January 10, 1945 in London, England making this birthday his 76th. His long and varied career started in the 1960’s as a member of a few bands including The Jeff Beck Group & The Faces before he completely focused exclusively on his solo career in the 1970’s. His first hit single “Maggie May” (see Day 242), a #1 hit for five weeks in the US in 1971, established his career and he never looked back. His music embraces soul, rock, dance, pop, Christmas and the big band genres.

I absolutely LOVE today’s song, I love the video for it, too & I love this time in Stewart’s career. This track is from his 1988 album, Out Of Order. which also featured “Forever Young”, “Lost In You” & Stewart’s cover of “Try A Little Tenderness”, a hit for Otis Redding in 1966. Stewart was well past the disco tunes, heavily immersed in his love for all things soul & doing great covers like his duet with Ronald Isley on “This Old Heart Of Mine” in 1989 followed by the Tom Waits beauty, “Downtown Train” later the same year. Rod Stewart is another voice that has followed me my whole life through a number of fantastic songs including today’s.

I don’t want you to come ’round here no more
I beg you for mercy
You don’t know how strong my weakness is
Or how much it hurts me
“.

Rod circa 2017

Rod Stewart circa 2017. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Rod Stewart: “My Heart Can’t Tell You No” (1988, written by Simon Climie and Dennis Morgan).

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 274

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?

Christmas sled

(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.

This past weekend my great love Bruce Springsteen was the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live”. He was nothing short of fabulous during his performances of two songs, “Ghosts” &”I’ll See You In My Dreams” from his new album, Letter To You. I must admit I was hoping he was going to do one of his two Christmas songs but alas, it was not to be. So I will share one today.

“Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” is his most famous holiday track and I adore it, of course. And as a Long Island girl who worships The Boss, I love that he recorded it while he was on tour for my favorite album, Born To Run, at Long Island University’s C.W. Post Campus on Dec. 12, 1975.

Bruce cw post

The concert poster for the Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band show at Long Island University’s C.W. Post Campus on Dec. 12, 1975. Credit: Joseph Kivak from an original picture by Eric Meola. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

But his other holiday tune is an R&B Christmas standard first recorded in 1947. It has been a favorite of mine since I heard Otis Redding’s 1967 version while I was discovering his music as a teenager. Springsteen’s cover was included on the 1987 compilation album, A Very Special Christmas, and I have been swooning over it ever since. And it is another gem recorded on Long Island as well. He recorded it at my home base, my teenage stomping grounds, the place I saw my first of many concerts & spent hours watching NY Islanders games at-The Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY-on New Year’s Eve 1980. That is just too special for words.

Another symmetry that I love? He & Redding are two of my great musical loves, each recorded only two Christmas songs in their careers and they share one in common. Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley & B.B. King are a few of the other artists who have recorded their own bluesy renditions of this song and all three absolutely shine. But today’s rocking version by The Boss is all his own.

I feel real good tonight
And I got music on the radio
I feel just like I wanna kiss you
Underneath my mistletoe
“.

Bruce

The Big Man Clarence Clemons (L) and The Boss Bruce Springsteen (R) circa 1988. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Bruce Springsteen: “Merry Christmas Baby” (1980, written by Lou Baxter and Johnny Moore).

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 270 & My Top 10 Favorite Christmas Movies

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?

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.

wonderfulpic.0

“It’s A Wonderful Life” movie still. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

With two weeks to go before Christmas, some of you may be tired of the formulaic but understandably watchable Hallmark movies. So before we get to today’s song, I am sharing my Top 10 Christmas film picks for anyone who might be looking for something different.

10. THREE DAYS (2001)

An angel (Tim Meadows, SNL’s “The Ladies Man”) gives a husband three days to convince his wife he loves her before she dies.

9. IF YOU BELIEVE (1999)

A bitter female Scrooge-like woman gets the chance to heal her inner child-who is an actual little kid following her everywhere that no one else can see, of course.

8. YOU’VE GOT MAIL (1998)

A Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan classic-and my favorite of their four collaborations-set in the greatest city in the world, NYC. With Jean Stapleton, Dabney Coleman, Dave Chappelle & Greg Kinnear in the cast as well, it is a fun watch.

7. WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING (1995)

Sandra Bullock became America’s sweetheart in this utterly charming film.

6. ELF (2003)

What is not to love about Will Ferrell as a 30 year old 6 foot tall elf? Ed Asner, Bob Newhart & James Caan help tell this thoroughly enchanting & adorable story.

Elf 1A

Buddy The Elf (Will Ferrell, L) & Santa (Ed Asner, R) in “Elf”. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

5. THE CHRISTMAS LIST (1997)

A 30-something woman (Mimi Rogers) makes a list for Santa and suddenly starts receiving everything she asked for. But not in the way she expected. Improbable, yes, but entertaining nonetheless. And completely enjoyable. Not very popular but not to be missed.

4. A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983)

I triple dog dare you not to adore this movie. What I love the most about it? How simple the celebration of the holiday actually is. No one is trying to do too much, the mom is not frantic to make everything Christmas card perfect and ends up giving her family a lovely, warm, comfortable & happy celebration. The house is not overwhelmed with decorations so the one big beautiful tree is the centerpiece to love, admire and inhale. Plus we see a bully finally get what he deserves. Delightful in every way.

3. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)

The film equivalent of Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song”, it’s just not officially the holiday season without George Bailey’s self-sacrificing good guy persona. And as Monica told Phoebe in “Friends”, it has “wonderfulness baked right in”.

2. LOVE ACTUALLY (2003)

Before Liam Neeson declared himself & his skills a nightmare to the people who took his daughter, he was helping his stepson navigate his first crush. And Bill Nighy is his usual brilliant self. Plus it features two musical standouts: Today’s song by Otis Redding and Joni Mitchell’s 2000 version of “Both Sides Now”. And even though it does end with a group performance of “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, somehow it works.

1. SCROOGED (1988)

Oh, do I love, love, LOVE this movie. The classic Dickens story told with such colorful characters portrayed by Bill Murray, Alfre Woodard, David Johansen, musical street players like Miles Davis, Dave Sanborn & Paul Shaffer, a theme song featuring Al Green & Annie Lennox and the lovably quirky Carol Kane, who delivers the best line ever spoken by any “Ghost of Christmas Present”: “You know I like the rough stuff, don’t you?”

Scrooged

Bill Murray (L) and Carol Kane (R) in “Scrooged”. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Honorable mention to “The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” (2008). Henry (“The Fonz”) Winkler plays a retired NY cop who goes to Illinois to spend Christmas with his niece, her son & the kind helpful stranger he met on the plane. This was actually one of the first Hallmark Christmas movies before the concept was turned into an assembly line franchise. Maybe that accounts for the lack of sugary side effects in this thoroughly pleasant film.

And if you are vehemently opposed to Christmas movies but are still reading this post? Yes, Virginia, there is one for you, too: “Bad Santa” (2003). Billy Bob Thornton is the ultimate ne’er do well and best part of this film, but hearing Bernie Mac shout “Pull your damn pants up” to a kid wearing them close to knee cap level is everything.

Now back to the music.

Today’s song is my absolute favorite version of this Christmas staple. Bing Crosby’s may be the classic recording of this tune, but to hear Otis Redding sing anything will always be my first choice. His cover is chock full of heart, soul, blood, sweat & tears. It is an absolute must for any holiday playlist.

May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white
“.

Otis

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Otis Redding: “White Christmas” (1967, written by Irving Berlin).

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 219

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 quote 2

(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 1978 SNL cast members John Belushi & Dan Aykroyd introduced us to their singing counterparts, The Blue Brothers, through the song, “Soul Man”. At one point in the tune, Belushi said “Play it, Steve”. That Steve is the innovative legendary guitarist Steve Cropper who has been gracing the world with his impeccable talent for six decades. Today marks his 79th birthday.

Born today in 1941 in Missouri, his family relocated to Memphis when he was nine. He started playing guitar at age 14 and the first band he was in went on to become a session band, The Mar-Keys. That brought Cropper to the attention of Stax Records owner Jim Stewart who hired Cropper as the label’s A&R man. Around the same time he co-founded his own group, Booker T & The MG’s with keyboard player Booker T. Jones, drummer Al Jackson Jr. and bassist Lewie Steinberg, who was eventually replaced by Donald “Duck” Dunn. That band was unique for two reasons: their trailblazing sounds which formed the foundation of southern soul music with elements of funk sounds and despite the fact that it was Memphis, Tennessee in 1962, the band was an equal balance of race with two white members and two black members.

Booker T & The MG’s became the house band at Stax and set the sound, tone & rhythm for the label, just as The Funk Brothers were doing for the Motown label in Detroit. Cropper not only played guitar for his group but started composing songs with many of the singers on Stax. He co-wrote “Knock On Wood”, “Raise Your Hand” & “634-5789” with Eddie Floyd, “In The Midnight Hour” (Day 131) with Wilson Pickett and “Mr. Pitiful”, “The Happy Song”, “Just One More Day” & “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” (Day 28) with Otis Redding. He & Cropper had become good friends and it was left to him to finish & produce “Dock Of The Bay” after Redding’s tragic death in 1967. It became a #1 hit in March 1968 for four consecutive weeks.

Cropper, who appeared in both Blues Brothers films (released in 1980 & 1998, respectively), is still actively playing & touring. He is considered to be one of the greatest guitar players of all time. He has contributed his signature sound or produced records by Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Levon Helm, Albert King, Roy Orbison, Rod Stewart, Leon Russell, Etta James. Art Garfunkel, Peter Frampton, Dolly Parton and John Mellencamp. He released 11 solo records between 1969-2018 and 13 albums with Booker T & The MG’s between 1962-1994, including today’s song which hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart & #1 on the R&B chart in 1962. It is considered one of the finest instrumentals ever recorded and I concur.

Booker T The MGs

Crop

Top: Booker T & The MG’s circa 1962 (L-R): Donald “Duck” Dunn, Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper & Al Jackson Jr. Bottom: Cropper & his beautiful talented hands circa 2000. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Booker T & The MG’s: “Green Onions” (1962, written by Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Lewie Steinberg & Al Jackson, Jr.).

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 177

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?

Bruce 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.

Today is another music birth anniversary.  This one belongs to the greatest soul singer who ever held a microphone (in my opinion), Otis Redding.  He was born 79 years ago in Dawson, GA but raised in nearby Macon.  He started singing in his church choir when he was a child.  By 1956 he was out of school helping to support his family.  He entered a local talent show 15 times and won the $5 prize every time.  Eventually he joined two vocal groups, first The Upsetters (who backed Little Richard) and then The Pinetoppers (who backed blues guitarist Johnny Jenkins).

In August 1962, after driving Jenkins to Stax Records in Mississippi, Redding met label owner Jim Stewart.  He gave Redding a chance to sing during some remaining studio time.  The song he recorded was “These Arms Of Mine”.  It became a hit and sent Redding on the path to his destiny as one of the most phenomenal performers in music history.  Since his death in 1967, his widow, Zelma (co-writer of “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember”), his daughter, Karla Redding- Andrews and his two sons, Dexter and Otis III (both music producers & songwriters) continue his legacy through The Otis Redding Foundation.  In addition to that, the website lists its mission statement as follows:  “To empower, enrich,and motivate all young people through programs involving music, writing and instrumentation”.

Today’s song was the B side to “Just One More Day” in 1965 but became more popular than the A side.  If you are a fan of The Blue Brothers, you will recognize today’s song as their introduction music, although in that capacity it is at a faster tempo.  But still fabulous, of course.

The link to the song is a performance video.  If you have never watched Redding sing, I strongly encourage you to view this and not just listen to the audio.  It is two minutes and ten seconds long and worth every single second.  To see his energy, his stage presence, his smile, his vibrance, his sheer utter joy of performing is just too grand not to see.  His voice was one of a kind and so was the way he absolutely owned any stage he was on.  As much as the people in the audience enjoyed watching him, no one had a better time during his shows than Redding himself.  And that was another gift he gave us.

I can’t ever turn you loose now
If I do, I’m gonna lose my life
I can’t turn you loose to nobody
‘Cause I love you baby, yes I do now“.

Otis

  Otis Redding circa 1965.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Otis Redding:  “I Can’t Turn You Loose” ( 1965, written by Otis Redding).

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 173

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?

Bruce 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.

There was an endless array of music available in the mid 1960’s.  There were bands that were part of the the British Invasion, groups from Motown, folk artists which translated into singer/songwriters and good old pop acts.  There was also a group that was just pure soul rock and that was Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels.  Ryder, born William Levise, Jr., with his unbelievable ability to encompass blue eyed soul in his rough bellowing signature voice, is undoubtedly one of the best soul rock singers ever.  

He started singing when he was a teenager, greatly influenced by his father, also a musician.  He was the lead singer of two bands in high school and it was the second one that eventually became The Detroit Wheels: lead guitarist Jim McCarty, rhythm guitarist Joe Kubert, bassist Earl Elliot and drummer Johnny Badanjek.  Together they had several hits between 1964-1967 including “Jenny Take a Ride”, “Little Latin Lupe Lu”, “Sock It to Me, Baby!” and today’s song before Ryder left for a solo career.  Unfortunately neither he nor the band achieved the success alone they did as a group.  But together they were a force to be reckoned with.    

Ryder also has the distinction of being the last person to ever sing with Otis Redding.  The two men closed a local Cleveland TV show together with a performance of “Knock On Wood” on December 9, 1967.  It was the next day that Redding, four members of his band, The Bar Kays & their valet died in a plane crash with the pilot. 

I discovered Ryder through-who else, Bruce Springsteen-when I bought the “No Nukes” concert album in 1979 and heard his cover of what he named the “Detroit Medley”.  It included parts of today’s pick plus two other songs, “C.C. Rider” & “Jenny Take A Ride” before seguing back to the first song to close it out.  This performance, however, was not included in the movie as the powers that be chose three other Springsteen performances for the film:  “The River”, “Thunder Road” & his cover of Gary U.S. Bonds’ 1961 hit, “Quarter To Three”.  But because of Bruce I discovered Ryder & The Wheels which is yet another reason why I love The Boss.   

Wearin’ her perfume, Chanel No. 5
Got to be the finest thing alive
Walks real cool, catches everybody’s eye
Catch you too nervous and you can’t say hi“.  

Ryder The Wheels
Mitch Ryder (center) with The Detroit Wheels circa 1964.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels:  “Devil With A Blue Dress On/ Good Golly Miss Molly” ( 1966, “Devil With A Blue Dress” written by Frederick “Shorty Long and William “Mickey” Stevenson circa 1964 and “Good Golly” written by John Marascalco and Robert “Bump” Blackwell circa 1955).   

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

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 172

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?

Bruce 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.

As much as I loved Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Otis Redding & The Beatles while I was a teenager, there were two other people that were equally important in the soundtrack of my life:  Elton John & Bernie Taupin.  In fact, I discovered them when I was even younger because the first album I ever bought in my life was “Elton John’s Greatest Hits”.  The second single I ever purchased was “Daniel” (the first was “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)” by George Harrison).  Man, the roots of my love for GREAT music were sowed quite young, if I do say so myself!!!  But I digress.

I loved Elton so much I remember begging my parents to let me go see him in the movie, “Tommy”.  They agreed and he was fabulous, of course.  But I must confess I was much too young to see that film.  The music was great because, after all, it was mostly done by The Who, a great band in their own right.  But the subject matter was just too much for my tween mind to comprehend.  Two scenes in particular truly scared me.  The first was the scene with Sally Simpson, who snuck out of her house to go see Tommy in concert.  I was not a teenager yet but loved music enough to know I could not wait to go to my first concert, so I really identified with her character.  She not only made it there but she got all the way to the stage before being kicked off by Tommy’s evil step-father.  Her fall caused her to cut her face, after which she was left with an ugly disfiguring scar.  What happened next?  She married a singer who dressed up like Frankenstein.  The moral of the story I took from that scene:  When you are a pretty girl you want to marry a guy who looks like Tommy:  dreamy blue eyes, curly blond hair, in a word, gorgeous.  But when you turn into a disfigured soul the best you can hope for is a guy that looks like a monster.  Yes, it was a dark thought to have as a young girl, but it looked like a fairly straight line to me.  I wish I could have said the same about Sally’s horrendous scar.

The other scene that gave me nightmares to this day was the one with the faith healer who led the Marilyn Monroe cult.  That statue of her terrified me, especially the black slits for eyes.  And when her disciples came out wearing masks that looked like it I nearly cried.  I also remember pondering what she had to do with Nazis because (I thought) there were rows of them sitting in the church pews around Tommy and his mother.  They all had gray flannel suits on with what looked like Nazi stars on the lapels.  Even the faith healer held up what appeared to be a Nazi star with Monroe’s picture in the center of it and forced the attendees to look at it.  I wondered over and over to myself in the theatre, what the heck the connection was between Monroe and those despicable people?  I thought, was she German or brainwashed or just mean?  By the time her statue crashed to the floor after Tommy knocked it over I blocked that memory out of my mind and only relived it through the occasional bad dream.  Until quarantine, that is.

When I was looking for Elton’s performance to relive his great scene, YouTube recommended another scene from the movie, “Eyesight To The Blind”.  I could not recall that song from the film so I watched the clip.  Much to my absolute amazement, it was the Monroe scene.  I was thrilled to discover that the people I thought were Nazis sitting in the pews were not in fact from that army, just people wearing the same coats with buttons, not stars, on their lapels.  And while I am still not sure about the type of star the faith healer was holding, since it had a picture of Monroe in it my guess is it was innocuous.

What I also discovered, to my shock and horror, was that the cult was actually led by a preacher, not the faith healer.  And who was the preacher, you ask?  None other than my great musical love, Eric Clapton, who performed the song in the scene.  I had no recollection whatsoever that he was in that film.  If that is not a testament to how traumatized I was then a better one does not exist.  I did not discover Clapton until junior high when I read a book on The Beatles and he was referenced for his guitar work on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and on George Harrison’s first solo record.  To think I could have had an additional year or so with that beautiful man in my life just reopens the traumatic wounds left by that movie all over again.

But at least I got to see Elton in all his glory, from his size 1000 Dr. Martens to his diamond studded glasses to his hat with a pinball in place of a pouf.  And those fabulous looks of disdain on his face when he could not keep up with Tommy’s pinball prowess.  How do you think he does it?  I don’t know.

He’s a pinball wizard
There has to be a twist
A pinball wizard’s
Got such a supple wrist

EJ 1
Elton John as The Pinball Wizard in “Tommy”.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Elton John:  “Pinball Wizard” (1975, written by Pete Townsend).

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 158

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?

Bruce 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.

In the fall of 1991, I saw a fabulous movie that celebrated one of my favorite genres of music:  The Commitments.  It is a story of a hastily put together soul music band in Dublin, Ireland as an easy get rich & famous scheme by music lover/band manager, Jimmy Rabbitte, played by Robert Arkins.  The lead singer of the group was played by Andrew Strong, who was only 17 when the movie was being filmed.  What a voice.  The movie was directed by Alan Parker, who died last month at the age of 76 (Some of his other films include “Fame”, Midnight Express” and “Pink Floyd:  The Wall”).

The most well known member of the cast is probably guitarist, vocalist & songwriter Glen Hansard.  He won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2008 with musician, vocalist & songwriter Marketa Irglova for the achingly beautiful song, “Falling Slowly“, from the 2007 movie, “Once”.  Later Hansard appeared on the show “Parenthood” when he used The Luncheonette recording studio where Adam & Crosby worked (Wow, I really miss that show.  Sigh.).

I knew all the songs The Commitments performed except one.  But it was beautiful with a fantastic horn arrangement and I immediately became obsessed.  So I bought the soundtrack CD and set out to learn everything I could about it.  Since this was 1991 that meant going to that year’s internet, the public library.  The songwriters, Dan Penn and Chip Moman, also wrote Aretha Franklin’s hit, “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” together, and individually they wrote songs for other artists as well.

The first singer to record the song was James Carr, who was rejected by Stax Records but eventually was signed to a small Memphis, TN label, Goldwax Records, in 1964.  They believed he could be their Otis Redding.  He was a great singer, but to me, he sounded more like Percy Sledge.  But Goldwax shut down in 1969 after only five years in business, so Carr tried recording at a couple of other labels.  However, he suffered from bipolar disease and it frequently affected his ability to perform live, so his career languished throughout the 1970’s & 1980’s.  He did enjoy a career resurgence in 1991 after he released a new album when Goldwax was revived.  Carr performed at local musical festivals for the next couple of years before releasing another album in 1994.  But soon after he was diagnosed with lung cancer and died from the disease in 2001 at the very young age of 58.

He did, however, leave us his fantastic recording of today’s song.  It was eventually covered by Sledge himself and other superstars like Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt, Gregg Allman, Elvis Costello and the group, The Flying Burrito Brothers.  How I never heard this song before the movie is a complete mystery to me, but I am unbelievably thankful for finding it and its original incredible singer.

At the dark end of the street
That’s where we always meet
Hiding in shadows where we don’t belong
Living in darkness to hide our wrong
You and me, at the dark end of the street“.

James Carr
   (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

James Carr:  “The Dark End of the Street” (1967, written by Dan Penn and Chip Moman).

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

Stay well.