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.

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2021: Day 17

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the countdown.

Day 17

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Today’s song makes my list every year.

It is by Ray Charles.

End of story.

Sleigh bells ring are you listening?
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight we’re happy tonight
Walking in a winter wonderland
“.

ray

Ray Charles circa 2004. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Ray Charles: “Winter Wonderland” (1985, written by Felix Bernard and Richard Bernhard Smith).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, happy listening!!!

Let’s Take A Moment Day 530

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.

The 1950’s saw an emergence of big records by black artists like Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Bo Didley, B.B. King The Platters and The Drifters. However, another big performer of that era, Fats Domino, is credited with having the first R&B song to break through to the Pop chart when today’s track hit #10 on August 27, 1955. It eventually hit the top spot on the R&B chart for several weeks, his first of three top sellers that year.

Despite that accomplishment, the song was given to a white artist to sing for mainstream release the same year. It was a sad and unfortunate practice that was commonplace for that time in history where black music was treated with such irreverence, not to mention insulting to the original artist to lose that control over his own work. What made this atrocity even worse was that many times the white cover became a top seller, as was the case with Domino’s track. Less than a month after his version peaked on the Pop chart, the re-worked rendition recorded by Pat Boone reached #1 for two weeks.

Luckily the story did not end there. Domino went on to have a very successful career with a multitude of hit songs throughout the 50’s & 60’s including “Walking To New Orleans”, “I Want To Walk You Home” and “The Fat Man”. The latter track is often called the first rock & roll single and the genre’s first million seller by many music historians. Even The King himself, Elvis Presley, cited Domino as a major influence early in his career.

I do not think “Happy Days” would have been the same show if Richie Cunningham sang another song other than Domino’s “Blueberry Hill” on his way out on a date. And John Lennon said today’s song was one of his favorites and recorded his own version for his 1975 album, “Rock ‘n’ Roll“. Covering a song in tribute to an artist is one thing but giving it to another singer to make famous is another. Luckily the universe corrected itself from those & other iniquities against talented performers in the past. For most music lovers including myself, Domino’s original rendition of today’s song will always be the premier recording.

You broke my heart
When you said we’ll part
Ain’t that a shame
My tears fell like rain
“.

Fats

Antoine Dominique “Fats” Domino Jr. circa 1955. (Image found on Fats Domino Official. Original source unknown.)

Fats Domino: “Ain’t That A Shame” (1955, written by Dave Bartholomew and Antoine Domino 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 501

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.

Tomorrow marks the 98th birth anniversary for a man who introduced us to some of the greatest artists in music history. Ahmet Ertegun, president and co-founder of Atlantic Records, was born on July 31, 1923 in Istanbul, Turkey. He was the man who launched the careers of John Coltrane, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Otis Redding, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Aretha Franklin, to name a few.

I cannot imagine my life or this world without the likes of Redding, Clapton or Franklin, let alone the rest of that group. But to choose a way to salute the man we remember today comes down to one word: genius. And no one comes closer to that word than Ray Charles. Thank you, Ahmet Ertegun, for bringing us some of the most profound music of the 20th century.

She saves her loving, just for me
Always loves me, so tenderly
I got a woman, way over town
She’s good to me, oh yeah
“.

Ray 1956

Ray 2002

Top (L-R): Ray Charles and Ahmet Ertegun circa 1956. Bottom (L-R): Charles and Ertegun circa 2002. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Ray Charles: “I Got A Woman” (1954, written by Ray Charles and Renald Richard)

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 464

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.

When Ray Charles left Atlantic Records in 1959, he was given artistic freedom & the rights to all his songs at his new home with ABC Paramount. But that was not all that changed. Charles decided to explore other types of music after years of playing rhythm & blues. In April 1962 he released one of the best records of his career, Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music.

On June 23, 1962, it hit the #1 spot on the album chart in the U.S. for 14 consecutive weeks. It marked a milestone in Charles career, showing his diverse talent & vocal ability in a completely different genre of music. It also helped him gain more mainstream success, which in turn pushed the racial boundaries of music during the early days of the Civil Rights Movement. There was nothing Ray Charles Robinson could not do.

They say that time
Heals a broken heart
But time has stood still
Since we’ve been apart
“.

Ray

Ray Charles’ 1962 landmark album. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Ray Charles: “I Can’t Stop Loving You” (1962, written by Don Gibson).

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 363

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.

If you remember any part of the 1980’s, then you know Quincy Jones was a huge part of music in that decade. He was the producer behind Michael Jackson’s biggest albums (Off The Wall, Bad, Thriller) & USA For Africa’s 1985 charity song, “We Are The World”, to name just a few of his accomplishments. Jones began his musical journey as a trumpeter when he was about ten years old. When he was 14 he met Ray Charles and the two remained friends & collaborators until Ray’s death in 2004.

Jones left a scholarship at Boston’s Berklee School of Music in the early 1950’s to work for bandleader Lionel Hampton. Jones would eventually work with everyone from Sarah Vaughn, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington & so many others. And if all that was not cool enough, Jones married Peggy Lipton (Julie from “Mod Squad”) in 1974.

He turns 88 today, born on March 14, 1933 in Illinois. One of my favorite songs by him came out in 1989 and featured his buddy Ray Charles & Chaka Khan on vocals. Happy birthday, Quincy Jones.

We’ve been together
For so very long
I’d hate to break up
Break up my happy home”.

quincy-jones-and-ray-charles

chaka quincy

Top (l-R): Quincy Jones and Ray Charles circa 1988. Bottom (L-R): Chaka Khan and Jones circa 2010. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Quincy Jones featuring Ray Charles & Chaka Khan: “I’ll Be Good To You” (1989, written by George Johnson, Louis Johnson and Sonora Sam).

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 279

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?

Dec 20

(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.

Ray Charles singing any song is magic. Ray Charles singing any song related to Christmas is heaven.

Gone away is the bluebird
Here to stay is the new bird
He sings a love song
As we go along
Walkin’ in a winter wonderland
“.

Ray Charles backstage San Francisco 12/5/71 
sheet 905 frame 25a

Ray Charles circa 1970. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Ray Charles: “Winter Wonderland” (1985, written by Felix Bernard and Richard Bernhard Smith).

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 243

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

kurt v

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Sixty years ago today “The Genius”, Ray Charles, had the #1 record in the country. It may have only held the top spot for one week but it went on to become one of his signature tunes. In 1979 it became the official song for the state of Georgia where he was born in 1930, the same year this track was written & originally released. Once he got his hands on a song, Charles made it his own.

Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you
“.

Ray

Ray Charles at the Georgia State Capital in 1979 for the official ceremony naming his version of “Georgia On My Mind” as the official state song. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Ray Charles: “Georgia On My Mind” (1960, music written by Hoagland Howard “Hoagy” Carmichael & lyrics written by Stuart Gorrell).

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 236

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.

Today in 1989 Eric Clapton released his 11th solo studio album, “Journeyman”. It was his first since completing rehab two tears earlier and continued the new chapter in his career which began with 1985’s “Behind The Sun” record, his first with producer Phil Collins. He also worked with Clapton on his next album, “August”, which contained his duet with Tina Turner, “Tearing Us Apart” along with the hit “It’s In The Way That You Use It” featured in the 1986 film “The Color Of Money”. Clapton followed that up with a re-recording of the song “After Midnight” for a 1987 Michelob commercial, capitalizing on his new found success on MTV.

As great as all that music was, “Journeyman” took his musical choices even further as it included covers of “Hard Times” by Ray Charles and “Hound Dog” by Leiber & Stoller. But rather than follow Elvis Presley’s 1956 interpretation, Clapton opted for a cover more in line with Big Mama Thornton’s original blues version of the song released in 1953. The album also had a cover of “Run So Far” by George Harrison (who also played guitar on the track) along with songs that featured backing vocals by Collins, Daryl Hall, Linda Womack (Sam Cooke’s daughter) and Chaka Khan.

“Journeyman” hit the top 10 in the UK and the top 20 in the US. Two songs went to #1 on the US Mainstream Rock Chart, “Bad Love” and today’s track, which received heavy play on MTV. It is not surprising because whoever came up with the video’s concept of drenching the very sexy & beautiful Clapton in water and then putting a guitar in his hands should have won every prize known to man. Swoon. Swoon. Swoon. Oh, and because it’s a really good song. too.

Satisfied but lost in love
Situations change
You’re never who you used to think you are
How strange
“.

E CLAPTON

Eric Clapton in 1990 at the Knebworth Concert. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Eric Clapton: “Pretending” (1989, written by Jerry Lynn Williams).

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 192

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?

Jane Austen 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.

September 23 marked the 90th birth anniversary of the man known as “The Genius”, Ray Charles. He gave us so much spectacular music throughout his career and there is nothing I can write about him that has not already been expressed. He was one of the greats, an absolute legend, a phenomenal performer and an American treasure. And one of the best singers to take another person’s song and make it his own.

One of my favorite examples of this gift is a song he included on his 1993 album, “My World” It was written by another piano man, Leon Russell. He was another multi-talented performer who had a voice similar to that of Gregg Allman and hit those keys like Charles. Russell spent nearly 60 years playing & singing with some of the best known artists of the 20th century like Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Ike & Tina Turner, The Rolling Stones, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Joe Cocker and so many others.

Russell wrote hit songs like “This Masquerade”, “Lady Blue”, “Tightrope”, “Hummingbird”, “Delta Lady” & today’s track. It was covered by The Carpenters, Donny Hathaway, Willie Nelson, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse and, of course, Charles. His version won him his third Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1994 and brought out the heart of this song unlike anyone before or after, including Russell. But they are his words that Charles brought to life so beautifully.

I love you in a place where there’s no space or time
I love you for my life, you are a friend of mine
And when my life is over, remember when we were together
We were alone and I was singin’ my song for you
“.

ray charles

Ray Charles circa 1968. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Russell

Leon Russell in 1971. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Ray Charles: “A Song For You” (1993, written by Leon Russell).

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

Stay well.