Let’s Take A Moment Day 259

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.

I have written on several occasions how 1978 was a monumental year in music for me & the industry in general. Well, when the universe gives you something it takes something else away. And the thing it took away from me was my peaceful relationship with my grandmother-for a while, anyway.

For two years she enjoyed listening to my records with me. She may have not remembered the artists names correctly (she called Bad Company “the not so nice visitors”) but I knew what she meant so we were good. Until the first time I played “Slowhand” by my great love Eric Clapton, that is. It started with side one track one, “Cocaine”, and went downhill from there. She asked me what kind of person would write a song about drugs. I thought I was helping by telling her that he was only singing about them, that he did not write the tune. That led her to wonder out loud, “Was he too high to write it, perhaps?” I moved the needle to track two which was “Wonderful Tonight” so that stopped her scolding. But when track three came on, she became irritated again. She ordered me to turn the album off because she thought “Lay Down Sally” was too suggestive for a girl my age. Then she asked where Bruce was (as in Springsteen) and told me to put his music on so she could eat dinner in peace.

A few weeks later I was listening to a Neil Young album I borrowed. All I can tell you is that when “Down By The River” came on, my grandmother decided I must have started taking drugs because how else could I listen to a man brag about shooting someone. My punishment was twofold-I was banned from bringing any new records home for the foreseeable future AND I had to sit through her music shows. That way, she told me, I would hear songs that did not resort to questionable subject matter for shock value. Since she liked country music that meant episodes of “Hee-Haw” & “The Barbara Mandrell Show”. The first one was tough-not because of the music as much as what passed for humor. Mandrell’s music, while not really a favorite of mine, was tolerable. So imagine my grandmother’s horror & dismay when Mandrell premiered her new song, a tale of a woman unapologetic about her love for a married man. Music had beat my grandmother at her censorship game. And I must say, it was not a bad song. But the original was so much better.

It was a big record for singer Luther Ingram in 1972, hitting the #3 spot on the Hot 100 chart & the #1 spot on the R&B chart that year. He was born on this day in 1937 in Jackson, TN and thanks to his deep soulful voice, he had a record deal by the time he was 18. However, he did not see any success until he was signed to a small independent label, Koko Records, in the late 1960’s. They were associated with Stax Records at that time and by 1971, Ingram had co-written the hit song, “Respect Yourself” for that label’s group, The Staple Singers. Three songwriters from Stax wrote the song that Ingram became best known for and despite covers by Mandrell, Rod Stewart, Isaac Hayes David Ruffin and others, it is Ingram’s version that I find most inspired & soulful.

And am I wrong to hunger
for the gentleness of your touch
knowing I got somebody else at home
who needs me just as much
“.

Luther Ingram

Luther Ingram circa 1972. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Luther Ingram: “(If Loving You Is Wrong) ] I Don’t Want to Be Right” (1972, written by Homer Banks, Carl Hampton and Raymond Jackson).

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 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 177

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.

Today is another music birth anniversary.  This one belongs to the greatest soul singer who ever held a microphone (in my opinion), Otis Redding.  He was born 79 years ago in Dawson, GA but raised in nearby Macon.  He started singing in his church choir when he was a child.  By 1956 he was out of school helping to support his family.  He entered a local talent show 15 times and won the $5 prize every time.  Eventually he joined two vocal groups, first The Upsetters (who backed Little Richard) and then The Pinetoppers (who backed blues guitarist Johnny Jenkins).

In August 1962, after driving Jenkins to Stax Records in Mississippi, Redding met label owner Jim Stewart.  He gave Redding a chance to sing during some remaining studio time.  The song he recorded was “These Arms Of Mine”.  It became a hit and sent Redding on the path to his destiny as one of the most phenomenal performers in music history.  Since his death in 1967, his widow, Zelma (co-writer of “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember”), his daughter, Karla Redding- Andrews and his two sons, Dexter and Otis III (both music producers & songwriters) continue his legacy through The Otis Redding Foundation.  In addition to that, the website lists its mission statement as follows:  “To empower, enrich,and motivate all young people through programs involving music, writing and instrumentation”.

Today’s song was the B side to “Just One More Day” in 1965 but became more popular than the A side.  If you are a fan of The Blue Brothers, you will recognize today’s song as their introduction music, although in that capacity it is at a faster tempo.  But still fabulous, of course.

The link to the song is a performance video.  If you have never watched Redding sing, I strongly encourage you to view this and not just listen to the audio.  It is two minutes and ten seconds long and worth every single second.  To see his energy, his stage presence, his smile, his vibrance, his sheer utter joy of performing is just too grand not to see.  His voice was one of a kind and so was the way he absolutely owned any stage he was on.  As much as the people in the audience enjoyed watching him, no one had a better time during his shows than Redding himself.  And that was another gift he gave us.

I can’t ever turn you loose now
If I do, I’m gonna lose my life
I can’t turn you loose to nobody
‘Cause I love you baby, yes I do now“.

Otis

  Otis Redding circa 1965.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Otis Redding:  “I Can’t Turn You Loose” ( 1965, written by 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 157

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.

Today marks the birth anniversary of soul superstar Isaac Hayes, who was born on this day 78 years ago.  Many people may remember him for today’s tune which won the Academy Award For Best Original Song in 1972.  It also has the distinction of being the funkiest song to ever win an Oscar.  Others may remember him for his interpretations of songs like “Walk On By”, “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”.  Or maybe some remember him for co-writing (along with David Porter) several of the biggest hits for Stax Records duo, Sam & Dave, including “Soul Man”, “Hold On I’m Coming” & “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby”.

I love him for all those reasons, too.  But I also love him for voicing the character of Chef on “South Park” from 1997-2006.  I loved his character’s eye for the ladies which inevitably led to him dropping his already low baritone voice another 10 octaves before delivering his hilarious pick-up lines.  I also loved how he broke into song whenever he needed to explain things to the kids but not before he prefaced the conversation with “Oh, Children”.  But mostly I loved how he brought some soul to the quiet little fictitious town in Colorado.  Can you dig it?

Who’s the cat that won’t cop out when there’s danger all about? (Shaft)
Right on
You see this cat Shaft is a bad mother (Shut your mouth)
But I’m talkin’ about Shaft (Then we can dig it)
He’s a complicated man but no one understands him but his woman (John Shaft)“.

L-R:  Isaac Hayes at the 1972 Oscars & his alter ego, Chef, with children (L-R) Stan, Eric & Kyle of “South Park”.  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Isaac Hayes:  “Theme From Shaft” (1971, written by Isaac Hayes).

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 Songs: Day 10

Hello, Vixens!!!  Welcome back to the countdown.

robin

(Original source unknown.)

I can remember the exact moment when I fell in love with this singer.  I was seven or eight years old, and I was in the back seat of my mom’s car while we were on our way home.  She always had the radio on but suddenly I heard a voice like nothing I had ever heard before.  Now in my young life, I had already heard a lot of great music courtesy of my parent’s records:  Elvis (my mom’s swoon-worthy crush when she was a teenager), Motown (my parents had a K-Tel four album compilation set) Doo-Wop & the Crooners (Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, etc.).

But what I heard on the radio that day was not like anything I had heard before, and more importantly, it hit me in a place so deep inside I did not even know existed.  Being so young, I could not verbalize what I was feeling, but when the song was over I remember the DJ saying something about “soul music”.   I took that literally to mean “music that touches the soul” and figured that is what had just happened to me.  The song was less than three minutes long but in that time it changed my whole life.

Otis 4

Otis Redding (original source unknown)

The song was “(Sittin’ On The) Dock On The Bay“by Otis Redding, who we lost 50 years ago today when he was just 26 years old.  His career was for only five short years, but his reach has endured the last fifty years because his voice changed the landscape of music as it was.  In the mid 1960’s music was changing and with the death of Sam Cooke (one of Redding’s heroes) in December 1964, soul music was getting lost in a sea that included the Beatles, the British Invasion, Motown, etc.  When Redding’s voice began to be heard through his records and live shows, there was no denying his immense talent.  No one before or since has sung with his gut-wrenching, achingly impassioned vocal.  It quickly & rightfully earned him the title of “King of Soul”.  Redding put Soul Music back on the map, and just as importantly, became the voice of Stax Records.

Incidentally. “Dock of the Bay” was co-written by legendary guitarist Steve Cropper, a member of Stax’s house band, Booker T & The M.G.’s.  “Crop”, as he is affectionately known, had the heartbreaking task of finishing the song after the death of his best friend.  Learn more about that and more about Redding’s career in this fantastic interview by CBS News correspondent & fellow music connoisseur, Anthony Mason.

Otis 3

Otis Redding at the Monterey International Pop Music Festival-June 1967 (original source unknown)

Even more sad than his loss to the music industry, Redding left behind a young wife and three small children when he died.  All of them have worked incredibly hard to preserve his legacy.  Also, on December 15, Rhino Records is releasing “OTIS REDDING: THE DEFINITIVE STUDIO ALBUM COLLECTION”, a 7-LP set.  More proof that the world still cannot get enough of Otis Redding’s timeless talent.

There is not a song by Redding that I do not like, so I decided to share several of my favorites below.  After you listen to his two Christmas songs, indulge yourself by listening to the rest, including his phenomenal performance at the Monterey International Pop Music Festival from June 1967.  If you have never seen it before, you cannot miss it.  He performed five songs in twenty minutes…..and STOLE the show.

Thank you, Otis Redding.  You are missed every day.

Otis Redding:  “White Christmas

Otis Redding:  “Merry Christmas Baby

Otis Redding:  “Try A Little Tenderness

Otic Redding:  “You Left The Water Running

Otis Redding:  “A Change Is Gonna Come

Otis Redding:  “These Arms of Mine

Otis Redding:  “My Lover’s Prayer

Otis Redding:  “You Don’t Miss Your Water

Otis Redding and Carla Thomas:  “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby“***

***(It was hard to beat Sam & Dave’s original passion infused version, but between Redding’s voice & the phenomenal horns added to the fact that this was a male-female duet, this cover is as close to perfection as possible.  Redding & Thomas did several duets together, but this is by far my favorite followed closely by “Tramp“.)

Otis Redding:  Full Monterey International Pop Music Festival Performance (1967)

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, fellow Vixens, happy listening!!!

 

 

 

Christmas Song Countdown #19

Hello, Vixens!!!  Welcome back to the countdown!!!

durango-co-christmas

Durango, Colorado  Courtesy:  TopValueReviews.net (original source unknown)

 

The singer with today’s song is another phenomenal soul and R&B singer.  Like the others in the countdown, he got his start singing in church. That early training laid the foundation for the passionate delivery on almost every song he sang.

He recorded some music at Stax records and worked with the house band-also known as Booker T. and the MG’s-and Isaac Hayes, who would go on to win an Oscar for “Shaft”.  This singer also wrote his own music, putting him on the same level as contemporaries Sam Cooke and Otis Redding; but, he is also known for a fantastic cover of the Beatles song, “Hey Jude“, which features a pre-Allman Brothers Band guitarist named Duane Allman.

 

wilson-duane Wilson Pickett and Duane Allman circa 1968 (original source unknown)

 

This singer recorded several Christmas songs, but this one is my favorite.

Wilson Pickett:  Jingle Bells

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, fellow Vixens, happy listening!!!

small-town-christmas

Courtesy:  Cape Night Photography 

Christmas Song Countdown #10

Hello, Vixens!!!  Welcome back to the countdown!!!

I wanted to share with you a creative way some people are being festive.

Country Living Magazine’s site features trees made of books!!!

I think they are adorable!!!

small-book-tree

Courtesy:  Country Living Magazine

The singer with the #10 song is my second favorite singer ever after Bruce Springsteen.  More importantly, he is probably the greatest soul singer who ever graced this Earth.  The power of his voice, the passion he sang with, the intensity of emotion he put into every single note is what we remember most about him.  And it sealed his legacy as the King of Soul.

His voice put Stax Records on the map.  His death at the age of 26 on this day 49 years ago was the end of the label, for all intents and purposes.  A month after his death the last song he recorded was released.  Soon after it became the #1 song in the country.  This year his foundation celebrated the 75th anniversary of his birth.

The night before his death, he & his band the Bar Kays (most of whom died with him in the plane crash that took his life), performed “Respect” on a show called Upbeat.  Over the closing credits, he sang “Knock On Wood” with Mitch Ryder.  It is 88 seconds of joy.  Thanks to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, you may watch that here.

During his short career, he recorded two Christmas songs.  Ironically enough for me, Bruce Springsteen covered the first one (Merry Christmas Baby).  The second one is today’s pick and by far my favorite of the two.

bruce-merrychristmasbaby

Courtesy:  Eric Meola

Otis Redding:  White Christmas.

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, fellow Vixens, happy listening!!!

book-trees

Courtesy:  Country Living Magazine

Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Songs at #5 (Yes, it’s another tie!!!)

What do you get when you combine a Gershwin tune with the First Lady of Song?  You get an event, a magnificent moment in music.  You get “Someone To Watch Over Me” by Ella Fitzgerald.

Her 1950 version of George & Ira Gershwin’s 1926 song is arguably the most famous version of the song despite having been covered by the likes Sinatra, Garland, Vaughn and Clooney.  Fitzgerald earned her accolades as the “Queen of Jazz” & “Lady Ella” for the beauty, sophistication and three octave range of her voice.

I love how cosmopolitan the lyrics are:

“…I like to add his initial to my monogram…I know I could be always be good
To one who’ll watch over me…

Won’t you tell him please to put on some speed,
follow my lead,
Oh, how I need
someone to watch over me.”

This is how Fitzgerald’s website describes her:  “Her voice was flexible, wide-ranging, accurate and ageless. She could sing sultry ballads, sweet jazz and imitate every instrument in an orchestra.”  She was also one of the greatest singers this world will ever see.

***************************************************************************************************************

When Something is Wrong With My Baby” by the duo of Sam (Moore) & Dave (Prater) is the other song we celebrate in the #5 spot.

Written by Isaac Hayes (“Shaft”) & David Porter, with music performed by Booker T & the MG’s and released by Stax Records (the label who amongst their many accomplishments, introduced the world to soul legend Otis Redding), this song had way too much going for it not to be a hit-#2 on the R&B chart in 1967.

It has the hallmarks of an unbelievably great song:  fantastic composition, sublime passionate vocal, incredible brass accompaniment, exquisite delivery (Dave Prater was a great singer, but on this song he was just phenomenal) and simply beautiful lyrics:

“When something is wrong with my baby
Something is wrong with me
And if I know she’s worried
Then I would feel that same misery

We’ve been through, so much together
We stand as one and that’s what makes it better
When something is wrong with my baby
Something is wrong with me, now listen

Just what she means to me now
Oh, you just wouldn’t, you just wouldn’t understand
People can say, she’s no good
But oh, she’s my woman and I know I’m her man

And if she’s got a problem, oh
I know, I know, I know, I gotta help her solve them
When something is wrong with my baby, 
Something is wrong with me”

Talk about being in it together…..or is it just another case of enabling behavior???  However you look at it, this song did not leave you wondering if this man loved his woman.  You knew it because his delivery made you feel it.  And that is what makes a song great.

Linda Ronstadt & Aaron Neville recorded a version of this song in 1990 that hit #5 on the Pop chart.

Enjoy!!!

Image result for valentines day clip art