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?

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.

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

Crop

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 169

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?

Bruce 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.

I have loved “Saturday Night Live” since I was too young to see it.  But that did not stop me from doing so by secretly watching it in my room or on the weekends when I was out of the house babysitting.  By the fall of 1981, Lorne Michaels departed as producer and a whole new group of performers replaced the “Not Ready For Prime Time Players”.  The new producer, Dick Ebersol, attempted to reclaim some of the show’s old magic by hiring the first head writer for the show, Michael O’Donoghue.  His first tenure with the show was from 1975-1977 but his second one in 1981 was even shorter because of alleged problems with the cast due to his temper (by the mid 1980’s he re-established his writing talent as a co-writer of the screenplay for SNL alumni Bill Murray’s 1988 movie, “Scrooged”).

But while he was at SNL the second time O’Donoghue wrote today’s song.  It was performed by then cast member, Christine Ebersole, in a skit with her sitting in a bar.  No comedy, just her singing this incredible song with a piano accompaniment.  I remember watching that night, listening to her voice and being completely floored by her performance and the song itself.  She went on to do a lot of other things, including plays & guest TV appearances.  In 2005 I was lucky to see her on Broadway when she played M’Lynn in “Steel Magnolias”.  She was also in one of my favorite “Will & Grace” episodes from 2001 as a rival to Karen (season 3 episode 19).

Another woman heard this song and decided to record it.  Since that women is Dolly Parton (Truvy in the 1989 “Steel Magnolias” movie) you know her version is nothing short of fabulous.  It was a top ten hit for her in 1982 and features a wonderful sax arrangement.  I have struggled for months to pick just one of her incredible songs to share, and even though she did not write this one herself, I still think it is one of her best.  And SNL may have its ups and downs, but it is moments like the one created for today’s song that keeps me tuned in week after week because I know the magic of that show is just one surprising skit away.

And it’s gettin’ near to closing
And the seconds pass like years
Lots of friends to share the laughter
Not a one to share the tears“.

Christine Ebersole on SNL in 1981 and Dolly Parton as Truvy in “Steel Magnolias” from 1989.  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Dolly Parton:  “Single Women” (1982, written by Michael O’Donoghue).

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

Stay well.

 

25 Days Of Christmas Music 2019: Day 23

Welcome back to the countdown!!!

Merry Christmas Eve eve!!!

day 23

Found on Pinterest (original source unknown).

Is it weird that one of my favorite versions of today’s song is from a 1996 “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) skit?  It featured two of my favorite regulars, Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon, along with a very funny Whitney Houston a few years after “The Bodyguard” was released.  The skit is hilarious and ends with her and Shannon trying to out-sing each other on this song.  No, I don’t think it’s weird.  I think it would be strange if I did not appreciate this fabulous piece of pop culture.  Another one of my favorite versions of today’s song is by a 1960’s girl group who not only gave us some great music, but also helped to introduce all of us to another part of pop culture-The Wall of Sound.

Ronettes

The Ronettes:  “Sleigh Ride” (1963, music written by Leroy Anderson in 1948 & lyrics written by Mitchell Parish in 1950).

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!!!