Music Monday: May 23, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Two of the biggest songwriters this country ever gave us were born in May. Their songs were staples on the radio in the 1960’s & 1970’s and continue to inspire “anyone who has a heart”.

Lyricist Hal David was born on May 25, 1921 in New York City. Almost eight years later, his collaborator, Burt Bacharach was born May 12, 1929 in Kansas City, Missouri. David started writing songs in the 1940’s for bandleaders like Guy Lombardo and Sammy Kaye while also contributing lyrics to the 1951 movie soundtrack of “Two Gals And A Guy”.

Bacharach was raised in Queens, NY and studied classical piano before discovering his love for jazz music. He received a degree in music in 1948, then served two years in the United States Army in the early 1950’s. After his tour of duty he worked as a pianist for Vic Damone before touring Europe in 1956 as the part time music director for actress Marlene Dietrich’s nightclub shows. In 1957 Bacharach met David at The Brill Building in NYC. That same year the duo had their first hit together, a #1 country song, “The Story Of My Life” by Marty Robbins.

After a number of successful collaborations over the next several years, Bacharach & David made their partnership official in 1963. That move & their work with today’s singer started the songwriting duo’s reign as two of America’s most treasured composers. They won every award out there including the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1970 for “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” from Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid.

Oscars

Bacharach (L) and David (R) at the 1970 Academy Awards Ceremony. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Fans of their music include Herb Alpert, Bette Midler, Patti LaBelle, Luther Vandross, Elvis Costello and a myriad of others including The Ambassador Of Cool, Isaac Hayes. He did a glorious 12 minute soulful/psychedelic/funk inspired cover of today’s song on his 1969 release, Hot Buttered Soul.

In a previous post about this song I wrote:

Years later I heard today’s song, written by this prolific duo, and I absolutely swooned.  The singer is not one of my favorites but her work with this extraordinary writing team was a powerful force in the 1960’s.  Her voice is so soft and pretty, and delivers a great vocal to a gorgeous arrangement.  It is the best of what a sad love song should be:  succinct, poignant, evocative and leaving you begging for one more note.  I love so many Bacharach & David compositions (“Anyone Who Had A Heart”, “This Guy’s In Love With You”, “One Less Bell To Answer”, “A House Is Not A Home” “The Look Of Love” to name a few) but this one I adore.

David died in 2012 at the age of 91. Bacharach turned 94 years young on May 12. Together they wrote a chapter of music history that remains unmatched. And today’s track remains my favorite from their remarkable partnership.

If you see me walking down the street
And I start to cry each time we meet
Walk on by
Walk on by
“.

Burt Hal

L to R: Hal David, Dionne Warwick & Burt Bacharach in the studio circa 1964  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Dionne Warwick: “Walk On By” (1964, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: May 16, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

This week is a Motown Music Monday because we have three powerhouses from that genre with birthdays this month. I discovered this polarizing style of singing as a young child thanks to my parents. They bought a K-Tel compilation of this remarkable sound and that four album set changed me in a profound way. The voices from the Motor City became my first great musical love.

Songwriter & producer Norman Whitfield was born in Harlem, NY on May 12, 1940. He co-wrote & produced my favorite Motown song of all time, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” along with other tracks recorded by Marvin Gaye including “That’s The Way Love Is” and “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby”. Whitfield was also one of the writers behind Edwin Starr’s “War” and several hits by The Temptations including “I Wish It would Rain”, “I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)”, “I Can’t Get Next to You”, “I Know) I’m Losing You” as well as one of today’s featured songs.

After Whitfield left Motown in 1970 when the label relocated to California, he started his own eponymous recording company. His success as a songwriter continued with hits like “Smiling Faces Sometimes” for The Undisputed Truth and the theme song from the 1976 movie, “Car Wash” by Rose Royce. The mark Whitfield left on music, Motown & the industry is indelible. We lost this prolific artist in 2008.

Whitfield

Norman Whitfield circa 1975. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.).

What is left to say about “The Eighth Wonder Of The World”, Stevie Wonder, who turned 72 last week? The child prodigy born Stevland Hardaway Morris on May 13, 1950 in Saginaw, MI began his career in The Motor City at age 11 as Little Stevie Wonder. His career grew even bigger as an adult in the 1970’s with three Album Of The Year Grammy awards for Innervisions (1973), FulfillingnessFirst Finale (1974) and Songs in the Key of Life (1976). His career grew from there and today, with over six decades of musical brilliance under his belt, Wonder continues to show us all how talent is defined.

Stevie wonder

Stevie Wonder circa 1974. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

“The Empress Of Soul” Gladys Knight will celebrate birthday number 78 on May 28. She was born that day in 1944 in Atlanta, GA & began singing in the church by age five. Three years later, she won an amateur hour contest on a local TV show, then joined her brother (future Pip Merald “Bubba” Knight, Jr.) and a few other relatives to form a group, By the late 1950’s, they were signed to Brunswick Records and were opening shows for Jackie Wilson & Sam Cooke. In 1966 Knight & her revised group, The Pips, signed with Motown. But their real success came with their next label, Buddah Records, in the early 1970’s. Knight became a solo act in the following decade & collaborated with the likes of Elton John, Ray Charles, Patti LaBelle and others. She also became part of the James Bond movie music legacy when she recorded “License To Kill” in 1989. She remains one of the greatest female singers of all time.

Gladys 1

Gladys Knight circa 1972. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.).

NOTE: Both Wonder & Knight appear in the stunning Oscar-winning 2021 documentary, “Summer Of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”. If you have not seen it yet, PLEASE stop reading now (you can come back later) and head over to Hulu NOW to watch it. You cannot go another day without the music & performances from this film in your life. You’re welcome.

The Temptations: “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” (1966, written by Norman Whitfield and Edward Holland Jr.).

Stevie Wonder: “I Was Made To Love Her” (1967, written by Stevie Wonder, Lula Mae Hardaway, Sylvia Moy and Henry Cosby).

Gladys Knight & The Pips: “Midnight Train To Georgia” (1973, written by Jim Weatherly).

Stay safe & well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 134

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 music 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.

When two of my favorite singers join forces it is just magical for me.  And no two voices ever sounded quite so good together than Patti Labelle’s and Michael McDonald’s.  I loved her from her 1970’s group Labelle and her solo career that followed, and I just swooned over him as a member of The Doobie Brothers.  Together they took this song to number one for three weeks in June 1986.  Written by the ineffable Burt Bacharach and his then wife, Carole Bayer Sager. this is a gorgeous tale of two broken hearts.  And one of my favorite duets ever.

So many promises never should be spoken
Now I know what loving you cost
Now we’re up to talking divorce
And we weren’t even married.”

Patti

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald:  “On My Own” (1986, written by Burt Bacharach & Carole Bayer Sager).

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 123

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 music 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.

When I was 11 years old, I learned the lyrics to a song from the radio.  I only heard it once yet I knew the words to the chorus after one listen.  Yes, I had a good memory but most of the credit was due to the unique and catchy lyrics.  Even more impressive was the fact that the part of the song I learned was in French and before that I could not recall ever speaking one word in that language.  So the next time the song came on the radio, I sang along.  And my mother thought it was adorable.  Until a week later when her cousin told her what the words in french meant.

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?  Translation:  Do you want to sleep with me?

Even more shocking is the fact that this song was co-written by Kenny Nolan who had a hit in 1976 called “I Like Dreaming”.  How he got to that god-awful song from today’s is beyond me.  But thanks to his collaboration on today’s pick I discovered Patti LaBelle, her glorious voice and outrageous wardrobe.  Oh, and a song I was banned from ever singing again for all of eternity.  Which only made me love it that much more.  🙂

LaBelle

LaBelle circa 1975 (L-R):  Nona Hendrix, Patti LaBelle & Sarah Dash.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

LaBelle:  “Lady Marmalade” (1974, written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan).

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

Stay well.