Music Monday: June 27, 2022

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

Music Monday

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Let’s send the month of June out on a funk-filled note. My favorite group from that genre is Sly & The Family Stone. Formed in 1966 and headed up by the incredibly multi-talented singer, songwriter, musician & producer Sly Stone, the group’s sound was unique & infectious. They had one of the first diverse lineups which included black, white & female members. And when they took the stage, there were few bands who could match their talent and energy.

Today’s song, the first single from their 1968 album Stand, went to #1 for four weeks the following year. The track was a commentary on inclusion extended to anyone who saw themselves in the lyrics or who just wanted a place in the dance party. All were welcome, even if you were on the sidelines just tapping your foot to the beat. The group’s invitation was open to all and brought them to the top spot on the charts for the first time in their career.

I am no better and neither are you
We’re all the same, whatever we do
You love me, you hate me, you know me and then
You can’t figure out the bag I’m in
“.

Sly & The Family Stone Portrait

Sly & The Family Stone circa 1971. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Sly & The Family Stone: “Everyday People” (1968, written by  Sylvester Stewart a/k/a Sly Stone).

Stay safe & well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 482

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.

In 1969 a series of concerts took place in New York City. Dubbed “The Harlem Cultural Festival” and held at what is now Marcus Garvey Park, it featured so many of my favorite performers from the Motown soul & gospel genres. These concerts were held over a six week period & most of the shows were recorded. But at the time there was no interest in buying them for a film Those involved did not know if that was because another music festival-Woodstock-was taking place that August or because black music was still considered secondary in the summer of 1969.

Whatever the reason, the tapes of the Harlem shows were left in a basement for 50 years until 2019. At that time they came to the attention of a producer who purchased them & turned them into a film that was released this year. Unbelievable, right? Another shocking aspect to this story? I KNEW NOTHING ABOUT THE CONCERTS OR THE MOVIE UNTIL LAST WEEK!!!

I uncovered the film about seven days ago when I went to Hulu for my weekly “Lost” re-watch. Instead I saw the ad for the movie, aptly titled “Summer Of Soul”. It premiered at The Sundance Film Festival in January and in theatres & on Hulu in June. My jaw dropped as I read the info about the film. It spotlights the performances of the incredible artists who were there interwoven with present day interviews with them and others involved in the festival itself.

How could something so incredible like a concert series of this magnitude get shelved for five decades? I am a native New Yorker, not to mention a profound fan of music, yet I lived all these years without even knowing this festival took place??? I cannot help but hang my head in extreme shame.

The film marks the directorial debut of Questlove, the co-frontman & drummer of Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” band, The Roots. In addition to being a musician and songwriter, Questlove has also made a name for himself as a producer, music journalist, author, disc jockey and now film director.

Discovering that an event like this took place but was never a matter of record matches my shock & amazement from the first time I saw “Hidden Figures”. To discover how important women-black women, especially-were assisting the U.S. Space Program & that was left out of the history books we read as kids is astounding. How many young girls might have had different dreams if they knew intelligent groundbreaking women were busting through glass ceilings half a century before? And how many aspiring musicians would have been inspired by this concert series?

But there is so much more to enjoy about this movie than the music. It is a time capsule to revisit the past. A look back at what are now vintage images of the culture at that time, the fashion, the style, the city store fronts and the people is simply hypnotic. The same goes for the clips of archived vintage footage from national news programs regarding the current events of the day like the Vietnam War & the Apollo landing which occurred the same summer. Those were interspersed with local stories about the heroin epidemic, the poverty level & the downward spiral of Harlem in general.

We also get a look at the city’s mayor at the time-John V. Lindsay-as well as a 27 year old minister, Reverend Jesse Jackson, who lead the crowd in a spiritual moment while he gave them his first hand account of watching Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King get shot. Undeniably powerful stuff.

My favorite moments include a newly solo David Ruffin singing “My Girl” sans The Temptations & hitting those high notes in such a remarkable effortless way; Stevie Wonder exhibiting his numerous talents from behind a microphone, a keyboard and a drum set; Sly Stone, the original poster boy for diversity not only as a black performer with white band members but with female ones as well. And they were not just back-up singers, either. They both sang & played instruments like the keyboards & the trumpet. The Family Stone performed three songs “Sing A Simple Song”, “Everyday People” & “Higher” which played as the credits began to roll.

Then there was Nina Simone captivating the audience with her powerful voice as she slammed the piano keys throughout her fierce performance. Gladys Knight & The Pips were on fire as were the gospel numbers, especially The Edwin Hawkins Singers rousing performance of “Oh Happy Day”. One of the women interviewed in the present who attended the show as a teenager summed it up best when she said: “Those artists crossed genres. They were trying to reunite people with music”. I have never been without music but I am just thrilled to be united with this movie. It is that good.

Another group that performed on what was called the festival’s “gospel day” was The Staple Singers. They were a family group comprised of Roebuck “Pops” Staples & his children: son Pervis & daughters Cleotha, Yvonne & Mavis, who turned 82 years young yesterday In addition to singing with her family, Mavis also sang a gospel song with Mahalia Jackson on “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” after Jackson’s stirring speech about and in honor of Rev. King’s favorite church song. It was nothing short of sublime.

In the present interview as the clip of the two women played, Mavis revealed that she still considers that moment her biggest honor and the experience “the time of my life”. She was born July 10, 1939 in Illinois. She & her family moved from gospel to secular music in the mid 1960’s. In 1968 they were signed to Stax Records. By June 1972, they had the #1 song in the country for one week with today’s track. It may be her birthday but it is her audience that receives a gift every time she sings.

Happy birthday, Mavis & here’s to 100 more. And a ginormous thank you to everyone who put this festival together, all the artists who performed there & the people who gave us the movie showcasing it all. It is an astounding treasure.

I know a place
Ain’t nobody cryin’
Ain’t nobody worried
Ain’t no smilin’ faces
“.

Soul picture

Mavis and Mahalia

Top: The movie poster for 2021’s “Summer Of Soul”. Bottom: Mavis Staples (L) and Mahalia Jackson (R) in a still from the film. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

The Staples Singers: “I’ll Take You There” (1972, written by Al 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 364

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.

Today we celebrate another birthday from the musical calendar, this one belonging to the man who helped define the sound of funk in the late 1960’s & early 1970’s. Sylvester Stewart, a/k/a Sly Stone, front man for the group Sly & The Family Stone, was born 78 years ago on March 15, 1943. in Texas. He got his start in gospel music performing at church with his siblings & future band mates, Freddie, Rose & Vaetta,

But Sly was the prodigy, mastering several instruments including the guitar & keyboards by the age of 11. He played in a few bands in high school and after graduating he worked as a radio disc jockey in California. He met Cynthia Robinson through a band in 1966 & she helped him form Sly & The Family Stone soon after. By 1967 they had their first hit, “Dance To The Music” and they were on their way.

Sadly Stone’s erratic behavior, his & other members drug use & failure to show up at performances led to the group’s demise in 1975. Many members went on to modest solo careers, including innovative bassist Larry Graham who had a hit in 1980 with “One In A Million You”. Several members of the group also worked with other artists as well. But none of them could recreate the lightening in a bottle that was The Family Stone, led by the master of funk himself. Happy birthday Sly Stone.

Got to get in straight,
How could I ever be late,
When you’re my woman taking up my time
“.

Sly

Sly Stone circa 1972. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Sly & The Family Stone: “If You Want Me to Stay” (1973, written by Sylvester “Sly Stone” Stewart).

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 337

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?

Feb 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.

On February 14, 1970 today’s song hit the top spot for the first of two consecutive weeks. I do not think anyone played funk music like Sly & The Family Stone. Twenty years later when I saw Eric Clapton on the “Journeyman” tour, he played a sample of today’s song when he introduced his band. It was an unexpected twist to an already great show & a fabulous tribute from one groundbreaking musician to another. And it made me adore Clapton even more which I did not think was possible.

Dance to the music
All night long
Everyday people
Sing a simple song
“.

Sly Fa,ily Stone

Sly and the Family Stone circa 1970 (L-R): Rose Stone, Larry Graham, Sly Stone, Freddie Stone, Greg Errico, Jerry Martini (seated) and Cynthia Robinson. Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Sly & The Family Stone: “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” (1969, written by Sly Stone).

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 263

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.

On this day in 1971 Sly & The Family Stone hit the #1 spot with today ‘s song where it would stay for three weeks. It spent five weeks at the top of the R&B chart as well. It was released Nov 9, 1971 and by December 4 it was the number one record in the country. Unfortunately, it was to be the group’s third & final top selling hit. But what a way to go out.

This tune was a departure for the group because this was more of a solo effort for Stone. He not only wrote, produced, arranged and sang today’s song but he also played bass guitar, electric guitar and programmed the drum box. Two of his musician friends joined him on the track-Billy Preston on electric piano & Bobby Womack on rhythm guitar-and Stone’s sister, Rose, sang the refrain. So despite its title, this song was not a “family affair” by group standards. But it was still a fabulous record and a testament to Stone’s immense talent.

One child grows up to be
Somebody that just loves to learn
And another child grows up to be
Somebody you’d just love to burn
“.

Sly and family

Rose Stone (L) and Sly Stone (Right, front) with The Family Stone circa 1971. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Sly & The Family Stone: “Family Affair” (1971, written by Sly Stone).

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 47

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.

The success of soul music, R&B & Motown in the 1960’s lead the way for a new genre called funk.  One of the best known groups that mastered this sound was Sly & The Family Stone.  They brought it to the mainstream and were so successful with it they even played at Woodstock.  Their string of hits included “Stand”, “Hot Fun In The Summertime”, “Family Affair”, “Dance To The Music”, “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” and “Everybody Is A Star”.  But for me. today’s song was their best and earned the band its first number one song.

Sly  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Sly & The Family Stone:  “Everyday People” (1968, written by Sly Stone).

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

Stay well.