Let’s Take A Moment Day 479

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?

Tom Petty music quote

(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.

One of the many things that made The Allman Brothers Band such a unique group was the fact that they had two drummers. One of them is celebrating a birthday today. Jai “Jaimoe” Johanny Johanson was born Johnny Lee Johnson 77 years ago on July 8, 1944 in Mississippi.

Before his role as a founding member of The ABB, he was part of soul superstars Otis Redding and Sam & Dave’s touring bands. Once Johanson became Duane Allman’s first recruit for his new group in February 1969, Johanson’s fate in one of the most innovative talented blues inspired bands in rock history was sealed. He & guitarist Dickey Betts-are the last surviving members of that fabulous group.

He and Allman shared lead guitar duties in the band, another facet that differentiated the ABB from other bands. Betts wrote today’s song which is from their 1972 album, “Eat A Peach”. It is one of the last to feature Allman before his death in 1971. In a 2017 article listing the 20 greatest ABB’s songs, Billboard magazine wrote the following about today’s track:

One of the last songs recorded by Duane Allman before his death, the Betts-delivered vocals are saccharine-sweet without being overly-sappy, while the twin guitar solos by Allman and Betts showcase just how effortlessly in tune and precise the two could be. There may not have ever been a better pairing of two lead guitarists in their prime in rock history than Allman and Betts, and “Blue Sky” is among their greatest showpieces. That Duane died before their Eat a Peach album was released is still one of rock’s saddest tales“. So true. Sigh.

Happy birthday, Jai “Jaimoe” Johanny Johanson May you continue to make great music for 100 more years.

Walk along the river, sweet lullaby, it just keeps on flowing
They don’t worry ’bout where it’s goin’, no, no
Don’t fly, mister blue bird, I’m just walking down the road
Early morning sunshine tell me all I need to know
“.

the-allman-brothers-1969-a-billboard-1548-compressed

(L-R) Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Gregg Allman, Jai Johanny Johanson, Berry Oakley and Butch Trucks sit on some railroad tracks on May 5, 1969 outside of Macon, Ga. (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images. Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Allman Brothers Band: “Blue Sky” (1972, written by Dickey Betts).

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 466

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?

June 2021 blog

(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.

Any song Otis Redding sang he made his own. But two songs he wrote were basically stolen away from him-in good ways, of course. He said as much about Aretha Franklin turning “Respect” into her signature tune, not to mention a #1 song for two weeks in June 1967. As for today’s song, he gave it to the co-writer-Arthur Conley-who turned it into a gold record in the same month.

It was originally called “Yeah Man” by Sam Cooke, but Conley & Redding re-wrote it together. The two Georgia natives met after Redding heard Conley’s 1964 song, “I’m a Lonely Stranger”. Redding signed Conley to his new label, Jotis Records, and in May 1967 today’s song went to the #2 spot in the country.

It paid tribute to many of the singers both Redding and Conley admired, and the latter even added a few lines about Redding as well. It is a great get-up-on-your-feet-and-move kind of song. And it was one of the great joys of my life to see Bruce Springsteen perform this live in concert. What can I say? The man’s got soul. And so does today’s song. Not to mention one heck of a horn arrangement.

Do you like good music
That sweet soul music
Just as long as it’s swingin’
Oh yeah oh yeah”.

Arthur and Otis

Left to right: Singers Ben E. King, Otis Redding, Johnnie Taylor, Arthur Conley and Percy Sledge circa 1967. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Arthur Conley: “Sweet Soul Music” (1967, written by Arthur Conley, Sam Cooke and 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 365

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?

March 2021 Blog

(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.

Well, here we are. The one year mark of a global pandemic. In a lifetime of say, 70 years, one year is a blip. Some years we may barely recall if not a lot happened and they just seemed to roll into the next. But with everything that transpired in the last 12 months, no one over the age of 10 will forget 2020 anytime soon.

But like most years there were similarities-the best of times, the worst of times & all the times in between. I think it was a great break from where we were, the constant go-go-go mentality as if not being insanely busy was something to be feared. It was a time to reflect, rediscover, reassess, renew & rejoice, especially if you made it through without losing anyone you loved. But again, that’s not any different than other years, is it?

We went through the pandemic together but in many different ways. Some struggled to survive alone while others had a lot of support around them. Some worked tirelessly at essential jobs while others lost their only source of income. And healthcare workers struggled under the weight of it all while giving it everything they had. Despite those efforts the virus claimed an incomprehensible number of lives. But there is hope in this new season, with the vaccine, that there is an end in sight. It is not over yet, but we are closer than we were. Until then I am still being as careful as possible and continuing to cope with songs that I love. So back to the music.

On March 16, 1968 Otis Redding hit the #1 spot in the country with “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay”. It was the first chart topping posthumous hit ever for a musical artist as the world was still mourning the singer’s death in a plane crash three months earlier. That song was featured on Day 28 but I think Redding deserves to be celebrated every day and is a perfect choice to commemorate a year in quarantine. Thank you all for your continued support, but especially for being here during the last twelve months. I hope you remain safe & well and continue to find comfort in music.

“If you want to really roll now
Gotta do the thing with soul
Shake, shake with all your might
Now, if you do it, do it right
“.

otis-redding-6

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

Otis Redding: “Shake” (1966, written by Sam Cooke).

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 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.