Let’s Take A Moment Day 219

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?

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(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.

In 1978 SNL cast members John Belushi & Dan Aykroyd introduced us to their singing counterparts, The Blue Brothers, through the song, “Soul Man”. At one point in the tune, Belushi said “Play it, Steve”. That Steve is the innovative legendary guitarist Steve Cropper who has been gracing the world with his impeccable talent for six decades. Today marks his 79th birthday.

Born today in 1941 in Missouri, his family relocated to Memphis when he was nine. He started playing guitar at age 14 and the first band he was in went on to become a session band, The Mar-Keys. That brought Cropper to the attention of Stax Records owner Jim Stewart who hired Cropper as the label’s A&R man. Around the same time he co-founded his own group, Booker T & The MG’s with keyboard player Booker T. Jones, drummer Al Jackson Jr. and bassist Lewie Steinberg, who was eventually replaced by Donald “Duck” Dunn. That band was unique for two reasons: their trailblazing sounds which formed the foundation of southern soul music with elements of funk sounds and despite the fact that it was Memphis, Tennessee in 1962, the band was an equal balance of race with two white members and two black members.

Booker T & The MG’s became the house band at Stax and set the sound, tone & rhythm for the label, just as The Funk Brothers were doing for the Motown label in Detroit. Cropper not only played guitar for his group but started composing songs with many of the singers on Stax. He co-wrote “Knock On Wood”, “Raise Your Hand” & “634-5789” with Eddie Floyd, “In The Midnight Hour” (Day 131) with Wilson Pickett and “Mr. Pitiful”, “The Happy Song”, “Just One More Day” & “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” (Day 28) with Otis Redding. He & Cropper had become good friends and it was left to him to finish & produce “Dock Of The Bay” after Redding’s tragic death in 1967. It became a #1 hit in March 1968 for four consecutive weeks.

Cropper, who appeared in both Blues Brothers films (released in 1980 & 1998, respectively), is still actively playing & touring. He is considered to be one of the greatest guitar players of all time. He has contributed his signature sound or produced records by Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Levon Helm, Albert King, Roy Orbison, Rod Stewart, Leon Russell, Etta James. Art Garfunkel, Peter Frampton, Dolly Parton and John Mellencamp. He released 11 solo records between 1969-2018 and 13 albums with Booker T & The MG’s between 1962-1994, including today’s song which hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart & #1 on the R&B chart in 1962. It is considered one of the finest instrumentals ever recorded and I concur.

Booker T The MGs

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Top: Booker T & The MG’s circa 1962 (L-R): Donald “Duck” Dunn, Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper & Al Jackson Jr. Bottom: Cropper & his beautiful talented hands circa 2000. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Booker T & The MG’s: “Green Onions” (1962, written by Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Lewie Steinberg & Al Jackson, 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 28

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?

music heart

(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’s song is less than three minutes long but the first time I heard it my whole life changed.  And every time I have heard it since I am overwhelmed by two very distinct emotions:  sheer utter joy and deep heartbreaking sadness.  I am elated that Otis Redding was here on earth, albeit too briefly, to give us every recording we have of him.  But I am unbearably sad that he died at the age of 26.  Of all the artists who died young, I believe his was the most tragic.  Not only because we lost his immense talent, but because he left a young wife and three small children behind.  The four of them have worked tirelessly for the last 50 years to keep his music and legacy alive.  However, even without those efforts, the legend of the man crowned “The King of Soul” is not one that could ever be erased, despite the fact that his career lasted only five short years.

Redding wrote many of his own songs and gave one of them to Aretha Franklin who turned “Respect” into a monster hit and eventually her signature song.  He began writing today’s song a few weeks after his renowned performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967.  He went on to write the rest of the music and lyrics with his friend Steve Cropper, the guitarist for the group, Booker T & the MG’s.  However, Redding was still working on ideas for additional vocals for the record when he died in a plane crash on December 10, 1967.  So the task of completing the song fell on Cropper who did so despite his own grief over his friend’s death.  The result became a number one song in March 1968 and one of the greatest recordings of all time.  It holds the number two spot on my top ten list of favorite songs of all time.

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Otis Redding at the Monterey Pop Festival June 1967 (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Otis Redding:  “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” (1967, written by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper).

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

Stay well.

Christmas Song Of The Day #1

Hello, Vixens!!!  How are your Christmas plans coming along?  Are you getting all your shopping/baking/decorating/celebrating/wrapping done?  I try to adhere to a less is more approach to this season (operative word here is “try”), but it always includes some great music.

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Source:  caryschmidt.com

So while you are knee deep in holiday preparations, give yourself a well deserved break by pouring a mug of your favorite beverage, grabbing a Christmas cookie or candy cane as a snack, and indulge in the sounds of the season.

Today’s song was featured in one of my all-time favorite movies, holiday or otherwise, “Love Actually“.  It is by a man who, as of today, has been sadly & unbelievably gone from this world for 48 years.  But thankfully, the phenomenal gift of his voice stays with us in such classics like “(Sittin’ On ) The Dock of The Bay“, “Try A Little Tenderness“, “Shake” and “I Can’t Turn You Loose“.  Please note that I do not own the rights to the music or the videos.  I am just sharing my favorites and some great performances from the man himself 🙂 .

Here is Otis Redding’s sublime rendition of “White Christmas“.

Enjoy!!!

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                   Source:  OtisRedding.com