Music Monday: November 28, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I hope you all had a wonderful extended holiday weekend of eating, shopping, resting or all three. Before we get to today’s songs (yes, plural as we have another triple play) let me remind you that the Christmas Music Coundtdown begins on December 1. For each of the 25 Days of Christmas, I will feature a different holiday song. I would love to hear some of your favorite music choices for this festive season so please share them with me in the comments below.

Today we are celebrating three milestones with three songs. The first is about one of my childhood heroes. Charles M. Schulz, the absolute genius who gave us Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts Gang, was born 100 years ago on November 26, 1922. Nothing in my life was ever the same after my first glimpse of the characters Schulz created. Meeting that brilliant, warm, quirky, kind, wise, friendly, talented, and irascible group introduced me to some of the best friends I ever had.

Their holiday specials, books and the comic strip, the merchandise & the movies remain as much a part of my life now as they ever did. And it is all thanks to the man known as “Sparky” to his friends. Part of the appeal of his gang was how relatable and human they were-they had real feelings, real hopes, real wants, real needs and real fears. They were children but not childish. And they loved to have fun which translated into lots of music and dancing to grown up songs. How do you thank one man for so much?

CB and Sparky

thumbnail_SPARKY TOON CLEANED UP WORD ADDED ETC 10 30 22 COLOR.j

Top:  Charles M. Schulz with one of his most famous friends, Charlie Brown, circa 1960 ((Image found online.  Original source unknown.)Bottom:  Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Steve Benson made this image for The Press Democrat’s special section “Celebrating Charles Schulz.” This appeared in print and online on Nov. 24, 2022. (Steve Benson)

Twenty years later one of the most iconic films of all time was introduced to the world when Casablanca  premiered on November 26, 1942. Eight decades later, Humphrey Bogart & Ingrid Bergman’s tale of love and loss during World War II remains one of the most beloved movies of all time with a theme song no one can ever forget.

Casablanca

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in a scene from “Casablanca:. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

That same year one of the greatest musicians to ever set an instrument on fire-both figuratively and literally-came into the world. James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix was born  November 27, 1942 in Seattle, WA. A singer, songwriter and performer best remembered as one of the prenier guitarists in rock music made a name for himself with original songs but also with one of a kind covers of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” and our National Anthem.

According to his website, Hendrix was a member of the “Screaming Eagles” paratroop division during his serivce to the U.S. Army in the early 1960’s. By the middle of that decade, he was playing with Ike and Tina Turner, Sam Cooke, the Isley Brothers, and Little Richard before forming his own band, Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. The rest is rock music history. Despite his death over 50 years ago, Hendrix is still unsurpassed in his esteem & tenure as one of the greatest of the greats.

Jimi

Jimi Hendrix circa 1967. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Vince Guaraldi Trio: “Linus And Lucy” (1964, written by Vince Guaraldi).

Frank Sinatra: “As Time Goes By” (1962, remastered in 1999, written by Herman Hupfeld).

Jimi Hendrix: “Little Wing” (1967, written by Jimi Hendrix).

Stay safe and well.

Music Monday: April 4, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Saturday marked the 83rd birth anniversary for one of the great musical loves of my life. Marvin Gaye was born April 2, 1939 in Washington, D.C. and became one of the most definitive soul voices in music history. Below is the tribute post I wrote for him on my blog from April 2, 2020.

Today’s marks what would have been Marvin Gaye’s birthday.  He sang some of the greatest songs to come out of the Motor City including today’s pick.  It was his first career number one record, and for a while it was the best selling hit on the Motown label, spending seven weeks in the top spot.

I can still remember the first time I heard this song.  I was sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car and from the second it came on the radio, I felt something inside of me tremble.  Like a part of me I did not even know I had suddenly woke up and made its presence known.  It was strong, and steady and felt so familiar yet so new at the same time.  It was as if I suddenly had an internal voice that was singing all on its own without any help from my real voice. Years later I would hear the phrase “soul music” and I realized that is why they call it that-because it is music that hits you in the deepest place.  And that is what I felt in the car that day.

marvin-gaye-1964

Marvin Gaye circa 1964. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Gaye had one of the greatest voices ever, not just in the soul genre.  He was also a talented musician playing piano, synthesizers and drums.  Despite being a solo artist he performed several duets during his career, most notably with Tammi Terrell.  He also wrote and/or co-wrote several hits for other artists including Martha & the Vandellas (“Dancing In The Street”), the Marvelettes (“Beechwood 4-5789″) and the Originals (“Baby, I’m For Real”).  He wrote many of his own songs as well, and as the turbulence of the 1960’s became too hard for him to ignore, he channeled his feelings into songs about the war (“What’s Going On”), social injustice (“Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)”) and the state of the environment (“Mercy Mercy Me”), amongst others.  

Gaye took some time off in the late 1970’s for personal reasons including his exit from the Motown label.  He signed with CBS Records and came back stronger than ever in 1982 with his album “Midnight Love” which included another number one hit, “Sexual Healing”.  That song earned him his first two Grammy Awards after over 20 years as a recording artist.  Also in 1983, he sang an incredibly soulful rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the NBA All Star Game.  While he was in the middle of his enormous comeback tour, I was lucky enough to see him give a magnetic performance at Radio City Music Hall.  It was one of the greatest nights of my life.

So many singers have died tragically young either by drugs, plane crashes, car accidents or suicide.  But Gaye was the third of my musical heroes to be shot to death-first Sam Cooke (one of Gaye’s idols) in 1964 and then John Lennon in 1980.  In those two tragedies both men died by a stranger’s hand.  Gaye was killed by his own father on April 1, 1984. I have never fully recovered from the senselessness of that act.  I wonder almost daily what else this unbelievably talented man would have accomplished in his career.

People say believe half of what you see, son
And none of what you hear
But I can’t help bein’ confused
If it’s true please tell me dear
“.

Marvin

Gaye circa 1971. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Marvin Gaye: “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (1968, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong).

Stay safe & well.

Music Monday: January 24, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Saturday marked the 91st birth anniversary of an extraordinary soul pioneer. Sam Cooke was born January 22, 1931 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Raised in Chicago, his first foray into music was in church courtesy of his father, a Baptist minister. When he was 15 Cooke began singing with a gospel group, The Soul Stirrers. In 1958 he released his first album of secular music, a mix of standards, Broadway tunes and one original track, the magnificent “You Send Me”.

Over the next six years Cooke would write & record many other songs, including “Cupid”, “Chain Gang”, “Another Saturday Night”, Wonderful World” and the civil rights inspired “A Change Is Gonna Come”. He also became an important member in the early days of that movement along side Muhammad Ali & Martin Luther King Jr. Cooke took an even bigger role in his career by starting his own record label (SAR Records) and publishing company (KAGS Music) to preserve his artistic legacy. Losing him in 1964 at age 33 was an unmitigated tragedy & one of music’s saddest moments. But more than six decades after his first hit record, Cooke remains one of the most important & enduring figures in music history. And rightfully so.

All of his songs are are wonderful beyond words but today’s song from his tenure with The Soul Stirrers is from my top five. His strong beautiful soulful and evocative vocal is stunning. I could listen to him sing the word “mile” for days and days and still not hear it enough. A suave elegant gifted performer with an unbelievable stage presence, Cooke defined the soul genre with every note he sang.

When I’ve gone the last mile of the way
I shall rest at the close of day
For I know there are joys awaiting
When I’ve gone the last mile of the way”.

Sam-Muhammed-singing_Abkco-Records-credit-scaled-1

Muhammad Ali (left) in the studio with Sam Cooke (right) circa 1964. Courtesy of officialsamcooke.com. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Soul Stirrers: “The Last Mile Of The Way” (Recorded between 1950-1957. Written by Johnson Oatman, Jr.).

Stay safe & well.

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2021: Day 11

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the countdown.

day 11

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Sam Cooke is considered to be one of the preeminent soul artists in music history. During his career as a singer, songwriter, arranger & business man, Cooke was successful in nearly everything he did. He started performing as a gospel singer with The Soul Stirrers, then embraced secular music as the original soul crooner before playing a significant role in the civil rights movement. His influence was worldwide and inspired many artists, including Motown legend Marvin Gaye.

He was devastated by Cooke’s untimely death in 1964 but Gaye continued Cooke’s legacy of making stunning music with a social conscience. That extended to today’s holiday song which Gaye co-wrote in 1972 to express what his brother & others in service to our country in Vietnam were longing for every day, especially during the Christmas season.

I’d give anything to see
A little Christmas tree
And to hear the laughter
Of children playing in the snow
To kiss my baby under the mistletoe
“.

Sam

Marvin

Top: Sam Cooke circa 1960. Bottom: Marvin Gaye circa 1971. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Marvin Gaye: “I Want To Come Home For Christmas” (1990, written in 1972 by Marvin Gaye and Forest Hairston).

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 549

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?

blog Sept 2021

(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.

Several musical variety shows debuted in the 1960’s. One of the best was also one of the most short-lived. Shindig! premiered on September 16, 1964 on the ABC Network in America. It was cancelled 18 months later but during its short run the show featured an impressive array of artists including Aretha Franklin, Jackie Wilson, James Brown, several Motown artists and The Beatles (in an installment filmed in England), to name a few.

The first episode that aired 57 years ago featured soul and R&B master Sam Cooke. He sang three songs that night, two by himself & one with The Everly Brothers who were also guests. One of the songs Cooke sang was written by Bob Dylan. Cooke also performed it at his Copacabana show in June 1964 & it became part of the album, Sam Cooke at the Copa, released a month after his appearance on this show.

This year marked Cooke’s 90th birth anniversary. To watch his vibrancy & utter joy in performing in this clip can only be described as bittersweet. The fact that he would be gone less than three months later is so heartbreaking I cannot even find the words to express it properly. The video may not be the best quality but who cares? It is Sam Cooke & he was too beautiful for words.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky
And how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry
“.

Sam

Sam Cooke circa 1964. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Sam Cooke: “Blowin’ In The Wind” (Live performance from ABC’s Shindig! which was broadcast on September 16, 1964. Written by Bob Dylan).

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 542

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?

blog Sept 2021

(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.

We have yet another rock & roll birthday to celebrate today. Ironically as was the case with the last two artists featured here, this man also died in a plane crash, eight years after Buddy Holly & four years after Patsy Cline. Like her he left behind a young family and like Holly, this year also marks a milestone birth anniversary year. The King of Soul, Otis Redding, was born 80 years ago today on September 9, 1941 in Dawson, GA. His voice is one of the ones I love most in the universe.

The first album I bought by him was Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul which was originally released Sept 15, 1965. But unlike all the other LP’s I ever bought, I could not listen to this one all the way through in one sitting. In fact, It took me days to get through all 11 songs. I just had to hear each track at least a dozen times before I felt I could move on to the next one. And then the same thing would happen all over again.

I had never heard anyone sing with such raw aching unabashed emotion before in my life. He sang of such heartache and pain that every note was like live or die for this beautiful man. I could not help but hurt right along with him while also praying I would someday know what that type of all consuming love felt like.

The album included Redding’s original version of “Respect” along with covers of The Temptations’ “My Girl”, The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” & three Sam Cooke songs. But today’s track was written by William Bell who was another singer on the Stax Label with Redding. It showcases his signature angst ridden soul & leaves you wondering how he will ever get through such immense pain. Redding sang like he had lived 100 lifetimes when in reality he barely lived one. But how he spent his 26 years on this earth is what keeps him alive over five decades later.

I sit here and wonder
How in the world this could be, my oh my
I never thought, oh, I never thought
You’d ever leave me
“.

Otis

Redding family

Top: Otis Redding circa 1967. Bottom: Redding’s family circa 2017 (L-R): Daughter Karla Redding-Andrews, wife Zelma (who never remarried), sons Dexter and Otis III. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Otis Redding: “You Don’t Miss Your Water” (1965, written by William Bell).

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 493

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.

Sam Cooke released the single “Chain Gang” on July 26, 1960.  It reached the #2 spot in the country later that year, the second time he was in the Top Five following the success of his #1 hit from 1957, “You Send Me” (Day 261).  Three years later he was in the Top Ten with today’s song. 

Cooke had so many things going for him:  his silky smooth voice, his suave debonair good looks and his ease & confidence in front of an audience to name a few.  But another important talent that set Cooke apart from other performers of his day was his songwriting ability.  He was succinct, eloquent & expressive with both his words & music.  Today’s track is no exception.  It also contains a bit of levity which only adds to its charm.    

“Another fella told me he had a sister who looked just fine 
Instead of being my deliverance 
She had a strange resemblance 
To a cat named Frankenstein”.

Sam
Sam Cooke circa 1960.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Sam Cooke: “Another Saturday Night” (1963, 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 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 447

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.

The beginning of the 1970’s marked the end of an incredible era of television. After a 23 year run, “The Ed Sullivan Show” came to an end on June 6, 1971. If you lived through any of those years or are remotely acquainted with pop culture, you know some of the highlights of the program: Elvis Presley’s hips being censored, The Beatles American debut in February 1964, The Rolling Stones being forced to change the lyrics to one of their songs and The Doors refusal to do the same thing are just a few.

The first show was broadcast on June 20, 1948 under its original name, Toast Of The Town, when Sullivan was 46 years old. It was renamed for the host in 1955. His progressive attitude welcomed & embraced the changes brought about over the next two decades and he took his audience along for that incredible ride. The list of guest stars was vast and varied, from not only musicians but to comedians, actors, dancers, jugglers, ventriloquists and many more. But for me it was the musical moments I cherished the most, as it was a chance to see the singers I grew up to love who predated me.

One of the performances I absolutely adore is from soul crooner Sam Cooke in 1957. Because his life was so tragically short and his death came in the middle of the 1960’s before concerts & studio sessions were routinely recorded, any appearance he made on film that was preserved is absolutely platinum. And Sullivan’s show is one of those gems. We get to see Cooke in his prime, as a talented beautiful charming suave happy young man.

Like Sullivan, Cooke was a pioneer. He helped introduce black music to white audiences and is considered by some critics to be the inventor of soul music. He recorded today’s song in tribute to one of his idols, Nat King Cole. And thanks to the genius of Ed Sullivan, we have this superb performance by Cooke to cherish forever. Ed Sullivan was the premiere starmaker.

I think of you every morning
I dream of you every, every, every, every night
And no I’m never lonely
Whenever you are in sight
“.

Ed and Sam

Ed Sullivan (far left) watches Sam Cooke (center) perform in 1957. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Sam Cooke: “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons” (Live performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” broadcast on December 1, 1957 Originally released in 1957. Written by William “Pat” Best and Ivory “Deek” Watson).

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 433

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?

May blog 2021

(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.

Today we remember one of the finest female big band singers of all time. Rosemary Clooney was born 93 years ago on May 23,1928 in Kentucky. She started performing with her sister, Betty, and in 1945 they won a radio contest that awarded them a singing spot on a Cincinnati radio station. A year later Rosemary was singing with The Tony Pastor Band. By 1951 she had her first hit, “Come On-A My House”, produced by Mitch Miller. More hits and acting parts followed including her role in “White Christmas” opposite Bing Crosby & Danny Kaye.

She spent many years fighting addiction & mental health issues until she was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1968. She fought her way back to the career she loved as a “…a sweet singer with a big band sensibility…” which is how she described herself in her second autobiography, 1999’s “Girl Singer: An Autobiography”.

A year after Clooney’s death in 2002, Bette Midler released a tribute album, Bette Midler Sings the Rosemary Clooney Songbook, produced by Barry Manilow. In 2005 Clooney’s daughter-in-law, Debby Boone, released her own salute with Reflections of Rosemary.

Today’s song is from the musical “The Pajama Game” & was a #1 song for Clooney in 1954. Sam Cooke did a glorious cover of this track in 1960 and it is probably my favorite male version of this tune. But Clooney’s is the absolute best there is. As was she.

Won’t you take this advice I hand you like a mother
Or are you not seeing things too clear
Are you too much in love to hear
Is it all going in one ear and out the other
“.

rosemary-clooney-1-d12-c12

Rosemary Clooney circa 1952. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Rosemary Clooney: “Hey There” (1954, written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross).

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

Stay well.