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 171

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.

He was introduced to the world as Johnny Cougar on his debut album in 1976. By his third album in 1979 he was billed as John Cougar. In 1983 he added his real last name so he became known as John Cougar Mellencamp. Eventually he was simply John Mellencamp. He has been singing about his love of music and his midwestern roots for nearly 45 years in close to 25 studio albums. He co-founded “Farm Aid” in 1985 with Willie Nelson & Neil Young which still continues today with one big concert each year.

Whatever name you associate with him, you probably immediately recall Mellencamp’s more well known hits like “Jack & Diane”, “Hurts So Good” or “Lonely ‘Ol Night”, to name a few. My favorites include “Check It Out”, “Cherry Bomb” and “Pink Houses”. But to narrow it down to one, today’s song wins in an extremely close race. It is from his fourth album, 1980’s “Nothing Matters And What If It Did”, produced by soul legend & guitar great, Steve Cropper. This was Mellencamp’s third career single and the first to crack to top 40. The premise is a lot like “Fooled Around And Fell In Love”, where the singer describes how he was the love them & leave them type until he met the one he could not walk away from. I must admit I really like songs where guys own what the right one does to their heart.

You got your arms around my shoulders
You got my soul confused with my heart
You were too smart to believe all those tired lines
And I was too dumb to know what had started
“.

John Cougar Mellencamp circa 1980 (L) and 2019 (R). (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

John Cougar Mellencamp:  “This Time” (1980, written by John Cougar Mellencamp).

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 131

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 music 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.

Record labels are as much a part of musical history as the singers and musicians signed to them.  One of the labels very close to my heart is Stax Records.  Based in Memphis, TN and founded in 1957 as Satellite Records but it changed to Stax in 1961 when it began sharing the same offices as one of their subsidiaries, Volt Records.  The name Stax was derived from combining the first two initials of the owners last names, ST from Jim Stewart and AX from his sister, Estelle Axton.

The label’s house band was Booker T & The MG’s and featured recording artists like Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Rufus Thomas and his daughter, Carla Thomas, Isaac Hayes, The Bar-Kays, Eddie Floyd, Albert King and Wilson Pickett, who sings today’s song which he co-wrote with The MG’s guitarist, Steve Cropper.  By 1967 the label saw its greatest success as well as the loss of its heart, soul and much of its financial stability after the deaths of Otis Redding and four members of The Bar-Kays in a plane crash that December.  Despite success in the 1970’s by The Staple Singers and Shirley Brown the label filed bankruptcy at the end of 1975.  By 1982 it became a reissue label and in 2003 The Stax Museum of American Soul Music opened in Memphis.  But for a little while, Stax was the record label with the most soul in the south.  And one listen to today’s song by The “Wicked” Pickett proves that point beautifully.

I’m gonna wait till the stars come out
And see that twinkle in your eyes
I’m gonna wait ’till the midnight hour
That’s when my love begins to shine.”

Steve Cropper (L) and Wilson Pickett (R), both circa 1965.  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Wilson Pickett:  “In The Midnight Hour” (1965, written by Steve Cropper & Wilson Pickett).

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.

Otis Monterey

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.

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.

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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 #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