Let’s Take A Moment Day 525

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?

Aug 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.

This weekend we lost a pioneer in two musical genres. Isaac Donald “Don” Everly died August 21 at the age of 84. Born February 1, 1937 in Kentucky he and his younger brother, Phil (January 19, 1939 – January 3, 2014), were a trailblazing duo in both country music & the birth of the rock & roll era who used harmonizing vocals to create their signature sound. Don sang lead and Phil provided the harmony.

The two men started singing with their parents on their father’s radio show on KMA in Iowa in the 1940’s as The Everly Family. They moved to TN in the early 1950’s where the brothers pursued music full time once Don graduated from high school in 1955. They were soon discovered by guitarist Chet Atkins who helped introduce them to Acuff Rose publishers & the songwriting team of Boudleaux Bryant.

They wrote the brothers’ first hits in 1957, “Bye Bye Love” (a cross over hit on both the country & rock & roll charts) & “Wake Up Little Susie”. The duo was also the first to record the Boudleaux Bryant song “Love Hurts” in 1960 before it became a hit for Roy Orbison a year later. The boys did write some of their own songs including “Cathy’s Clown” (1960, written by Don) & “When Will I be Loved” (1960, written by Phil).

The brothers success led to their 1960 contract with Warner Brothers Records for one million dollars. At that time it was an unprecedented amount of money for a rock & roll act and would keep the boys with the label for ten years. But the unrelenting work schedule took its toll on the duo. So did contract disputes, sibling rivalry, drug use and more which led their official break up in 1973. They did reunite a decade later but their relationship remained strained.

Some of the biggest names in music were fans of The Everly Brothers. In his 1976 Wings song “Let ‘Em In”, Paul McCartney mentioned the duo by their first names (“…Martin Luther, Phil and Don”). George Harrison recorded a demo of today’s song that was included on his 2012 posthumous album, Early Takes: Volume. His friend & Traveling Wilbury bandmate Bob Dylan covered today’s song for his 1970 album, Self-Portrait. Both Everly Brothers sang on the track “Graceland” by another of their admirers, Paul Simon. In 1986 they were a part of the inaugural class inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame by Neil Young.

Today’s song was based on a French recording of “Je t’appartiens” from 1955. It was a Top Ten hit for the brothers in 1959. As much fun as their faster songs are, I think it is the ballads that show off their vocal harmonies best. Rest in peace, Don Everly.

Each time we meet love
I find complete love
Without your sweet love
What would life be
“.

Don and Phil

Don (L) and Phil Everly circa 1957. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Everly Brothers: “Let It Be Me” (1959, written by Gilbert Bécaud (music), Manny Curtis (English lyrics) and Pierre Delanoë (French lyrics).

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 115

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.

There are sad stories in life and then there are ones too sad for words.  The only way to describe today’s singer, Jackson C. Frank, is as the second coming of Job.  When he was 11 years old he suffered burns to fifty percent of his body when a furnace exploded at his elementary school.  He lost many of his classmates including his girlfriend and was in the hospital for months.  This would set the stage for a multitude of physical and mental ailments that would plague him for the rest of his life.  A teacher gave him a guitar while he was recovering so Frank learned how to play and eventually write songs.

When he turned 21 in 1964, he received an insurance settlement for his injuries due to the fire and went to Europe to pursue a career in music.  There he met Paul Simon who produced Frank’s 1965 debut self-titled album which contained today’s song (Simon & Garfunkel would do their own version the same year but would not release it until 1997 on the boxed set, “Old Friends”).  Frank began to garner a small following due to his record but by 1966, his mental health began to unravel.  He was hospitalized in Europe before returning to America when his insurance money ran out.

Soon after he got married and had two children, a boy and a girl.  But when his son died from cystic fibrosis, Frank’s mental health deteriorated again and he was hospitalized a second time.  His wife left him, taking their daughter with her, and Frank became increasingly unstable and despondent.  His only album was reissued in 1978 but failed to change his situation.

His physical health began to decline due to complications of the injuries of the fire.  He lived with his parents for a while but eventually left the house when he was unsupervised to go to NYC to look up Simon.  Instead Frank ended up homeless and hospitalized several times, finally receiving a diagnosis as a paranoid schizophrenic.  One of the times he was living on the street some kids were playing with a pellet gun and accidentally blinded Frank in the left eye.  Eventually a fan found Frank, became his guardian and placed him in a supervised living center until he died of pneumonia at age 56 in 1999.

Rolling Stone Magazine called Frank one of the best forgotten songwriters of the 1960s.  His genre of music, folk, is just one I could not embrace.  I respect the musicianship but the sound never hit my soul like the other types of music I love did.  But then again I do not ever remember hearing this man before today’s song was featured in the third episode of season one of “This Is Us”.  That was more than 50 years after Frank recorded it and 17 years after he died.  I am forever thankful that I can know him through the rest of his music I found online, too, because it & he are too good to be forgotten.

I share his story because I firmly believe it is my responsibility as a music lover and fan to expose the songs I love to those who might not yet know them.  It is how they live on.  And because I think today’s song is just that special.

Jackson C Frank
Jackson C, Frank circa 1965.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Jackson C. Frank:  “Blues Run The Game”  (1965, written by Jackson C. Frank).

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

Stay well.