Music Monday: July 25, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

July is filled with several high profile musical birthdays. In fact, there are so many I broke them up into two separate posts to do the artists justice. Last week we focused on the women. This week it is all about the men.

First up is the man who made a triumphant return to music in 2006 after a self-imposed career sabbatical that lasted way too long. Yusuf Islam, commonly known as Yusuf f/k/a Cat Stevens, turned 74 this month. He was born July 21, 1948 in Marylebone, London, England and was one of the most prominent voices of the early 1970’s. He is best know for the hits “Peace Train”, “Wild World”, “Morning Has Broken”, “Father & Son” along with the stunning soundtrack to the 1971 black (yet incredibly endearing) comedy, “Harold & Maude”.

Cat Stevens

Cat Stevens n/k/a Yusuf pictured in the early 1970’s. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The man with the voice behind one of the greatest songs ever recorded was born July 26, 1940 in Simonton, Texas. Dobie Gray started singing gospel music as a child in church. By 1964 he had his first hit with “The In Crowd“. But he is best known for one of today’s songs, a Top Ten hit from 1973, which has become a classic rock anthem. The same year he did a beautiful cover of the Tom Jans classic, “Loving Arms“. Gray’s career spanned several genres of music including soul, R&B, pop & country. Sadly, he died in 2011 at the age of 71.

Dobie

Dobie Gray circa 1972. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

One of the most famous, charismatic & influential front men of all time is turning 79 years young tomorrow. Sir Michael Philip Jagger was born July 26, 1943 in Dartford, Kent, England. He & The Rolling Stones, are celebrating their 60th year together with only Jagger & his song writing partner & guitarist Keith Richards as the band’s last two original members after the death of drummer Charlie Watts nearly one year ago. The group went on tour last year in the late drummer’s honor and are a lock as one of the world’s greatest bands in music history.

Jagger

Mick Jagger circa 1978. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Yusuf f/k/a Cat Stevens: “Trouble” (1970, written by Cat Stevens).

Dobie Gray: “Drift Away” (1973, written by Mentor Williams).

The Rolling Stones: “Let’s Spend The Night Together” (1967, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: July 18, 2022

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

July is filled with several high profile musical birthdays. In fact, there are so many I decided to break them up into two separate posts to do the artists justice. This week we will focus on three female performers and next week will be all about the men. So stay tuned for another triple play next week.

The month began with the lead singer of an iconic group turning 77 years young. Deborah Ann Harry was born on July 1, 1945 in Miami, Florida but grew up in Hawthorne, New Jersey. She & her group, Blondie, defined rock & roll cool and New York City suave in the 1970’s until the new millennium and gave the group superstar status. Harry was not just the pretty face of the group-she was also the voice and one of its primary songwriters, too. She made her way to the small & big screens, with her roles in 1988’s “Hairspray” & 2003’s “My Life Without Me” as my favorites. Her 2019 autobiography, “Face It: A Memoir”, is worth the read as well.

Debbie

Debbie Harry sometime in the 1980’s. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Christine Anne McVie was born July 12, 1943 in Bouth, UK. making her 79 years young. One of the beautiful talented women of Fleetwood Mac, it was one of today’s song that turned out to be the group’s first hit, just one of many penned by McVie. Her prowess on the keyboards has helped define the band’s sound in every decade of their existence & led to her own successful solo career.

McVie

Christine McVie circa 2000. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

One of the premier voices of all time turned 76 this month. Linda Maria Ronstadt was born July 15, 1946 in Tucson, AZ. She helped define the Laurel Canyon sound of the late 1960’s & early 1970’s, dominated that decade & the 1980’s as a solo performer before ending the latter decade with hit duets with Aaron Neville. She branched out into several diverse musical genres such as Broadway, Big Band, Mexican and Opera, amongst others. The sheer power & beauty of her voice continues to influence every generation after her & helps insure her place as one of the best selling artists in music history.

Linda

Linda Ronstadt in the 1970’s. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Blondie: “Dreaming” (1979, written by Deborah Harry and Chris Stein).

Fleetwood Mac (featuring Christine McVie): “Over My Head” (1975, written by Christine McVie).

Linda Ronstadt: “Heart Like A Wheel” (1974, written by Anna McGarrigle).

Stay safe & well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 206

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.

Today in 1987 one of my favorite musical documentaries was released. “Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll” took an in-depth behind the scenes look into the life & career of “The Father Of Rock & Roll”, Chuck Berry. The film ended with clips from two all-star concerts that took place in honor of Berry’s 60th birthday in 1986 featuring Etta James, Eric Clapton, Linda Ronstadt and Julian Lennon. The show was organized by band leader Keith Richards with help from guitarist Robert Cray and Berry’s longtime pianist, Johnnie Johnson. The music was without a doubt phenomenal but the glimpses into Berry’s personal life including scenes with his father (who died the year the film came out), other family members and longtime friends gave more weight to Berry’s life. His 94th birth anniversary is in about a week-October 18, to be exact-so today is a celebration of that as well as the movie’s anniversary.

He was born in 1926 & raised in St. Louis, Missouri by his Baptist church deacon father & public school principal mother. Music was an early hobby for Berry who performed at his high school when he was around 15. But when he was arrested for armed robbery just before his 18th birthday, he was sent to a reformatory school until he was 21. It was there he started singing in a quartet.

Berry got married in 1948, became a father in 1950 and soon after began playing in local clubs with various bands for extra money while he worked regular jobs during the day. By 1953 he began working with Johnson’s trio, performing R&B and country music. Two years later he met blues great Muddy Waters who encouraged Berry to reach out to Chess Records president Leonard Chess. That led to Berry’s first recording for the label (and his first million seller), “Maybellene”, in 1955. Thus a legend was born.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Clapton & Richards are rehearsing today’s song with Berry and he is having trouble remembering the lyrics. It is from his second studio album for Chess Records, “One Dozen Berrys” released in 1958. The record includes three hits: “Sweet Little Sixteen”, “Rock & Roll Music” & “Reelin’ & Rockin'”. But ever since I saw the documentary, today’s track is the one I enjoy the most.

One of his biggest fans, John Lennon, said, “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.” Amen. Hail! Hail! Chuck Berry!!!

When I see those big brown eyes that’s when I take my queue
It don’t take me but a few minutes to get a message through
I talked to you, and you talked to me and we talked to one another
It don’t take us but a few minutes to understand each other
“.

Hail Hail

A concert scene from the movie featuring (L-R): Check Berry, Keith Richards & Eric Clapton performing “Wee Wee Hours”. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Chuck Berry: “It Don’t Take But A Few Minutes” (1958, written by Chuck Berry).

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 45

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?

Peanuts music

(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.

If I had to pinpoint how rock & roll music officially began, my timeline would be this:

1908:  The year American bandleader & swing/big band/R&B musician Louis Jordan is born.

1916:  The year American rockabilly songwriter Claude Demetrius is born.

1926:  The year American guitarist Charles Edward Anderson Berry is born.  The world would come to know him as Chuck Berry.  Soon he learns to “play a guitar just like a-ringin’ a bell and, oh my, that little country boy could play”.

1946:  Demetrius writes a song (co-written with Jordan’s wife, Fleecie Moore) called “Ain’t That Just Like A Woman” which Jordan records and turns into an R&B hit the same year.

1958:  Berry writes and records his semi-autobiographical groundbreaking hit, “Johnny B. Goode”.  The song begins with a note for note replica of the introduction to Jordan’s 1946 song, written by Demetrius.  A new sound is born from combining music from the swing/big band/R&B/rockabilly genres and Berry is christened “The Father of Rock & Roll”.

Young impressionable youths like John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix and many others are entranced by what Berry does with a guitar.  Fast forward to 1963 & 1964 where The Beatles record Berry covers “Roll Over Beethoven” & “Rock & Roll Music ” and stop by America for that Sunday night show at the same theatre David Letterman was in and there you have it.

Yes, Elvis (who covered a few of Berry’s songs, including today’s), Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Carl Perkins and many other early architects of this new sound were coming up around the same time as Berry.  However, his musicianship, his stage dance moves (most notably the “duck walk”) and his songwriting talent made him a triple threat and set him apart from the others.  Elvis will always be the King, but Berry was and remains The Master.

Today’s song also has the distinction of being part of NASA’s Voyager Space Mission as one of the pieces of music from Earth.  And honestly, can you imagine Marty McFly sliding across the floor to any other song in “Back To The Future” than this one?

Chuck-Berry-Johnny-B-Goode

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Chuck Berry:  “Johnny B. Goode” (1958, written by Chuck Berry).

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

Stay well.