Let’s Take A Moment Day 173

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.

There was an endless array of music available in the mid 1960’s.  There were bands that were part of the the British Invasion, groups from Motown, folk artists which translated into singer/songwriters and good old pop acts.  There was also a group that was just pure soul rock and that was Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels.  Ryder, born William Levise, Jr., with his unbelievable ability to encompass blue eyed soul in his rough bellowing signature voice, is undoubtedly one of the best soul rock singers ever.  

He started singing when he was a teenager, greatly influenced by his father, also a musician.  He was the lead singer of two bands in high school and it was the second one that eventually became The Detroit Wheels: lead guitarist Jim McCarty, rhythm guitarist Joe Kubert, bassist Earl Elliot and drummer Johnny Badanjek.  Together they had several hits between 1964-1967 including “Jenny Take a Ride”, “Little Latin Lupe Lu”, “Sock It to Me, Baby!” and today’s song before Ryder left for a solo career.  Unfortunately neither he nor the band achieved the success alone they did as a group.  But together they were a force to be reckoned with.    

Ryder also has the distinction of being the last person to ever sing with Otis Redding.  The two men closed a local Cleveland TV show together with a performance of “Knock On Wood” on December 9, 1967.  It was the next day that Redding, four members of his band, The Bar Kays & their valet died in a plane crash with the pilot. 

I discovered Ryder through-who else, Bruce Springsteen-when I bought the “No Nukes” concert album in 1979 and heard his cover of what he named the “Detroit Medley”.  It included parts of today’s pick plus two other songs, “C.C. Rider” & “Jenny Take A Ride” before seguing back to the first song to close it out.  This performance, however, was not included in the movie as the powers that be chose three other Springsteen performances for the film:  “The River”, “Thunder Road” & his cover of Gary U.S. Bonds’ 1961 hit, “Quarter To Three”.  But because of Bruce I discovered Ryder & The Wheels which is yet another reason why I love The Boss.   

Wearin’ her perfume, Chanel No. 5
Got to be the finest thing alive
Walks real cool, catches everybody’s eye
Catch you too nervous and you can’t say hi“.  

Ryder The Wheels
Mitch Ryder (center) with The Detroit Wheels circa 1964.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels:  “Devil With A Blue Dress On/ Good Golly Miss Molly” ( 1966, “Devil With A Blue Dress” written by Frederick “Shorty Long and William “Mickey” Stevenson circa 1964 and “Good Golly” written by John Marascalco and Robert “Bump” Blackwell circa 1955).   

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

Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #2

The next singer on the countdown had what I believe was the greatest voice EVER.  No one before or since can sing a song with such a heart wrenching achingly impassioned vocal that was Otis Redding’s signature sound.  His talent for writing songs was also phenomenal, as he either wrote or co-wrote such classics as “Respect”, (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”,  “I Can’t Turn You Loose”, “I’ve Got Dreams To Remember”, “These Arms of Mine” and the #2 song on the countdown, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long“.

Co-written with Jerry Butler and released in the spring of 1965, the song hit #2 on Billboard’s R&B chart & #21 on its  Hot 100 chart, giving Redding his first hit song.  The lyrics are simple, straight forward yet unbelievably powerful in Redding’s pleading vocal:

My love is growing stronger, as you become a habit to me
Oh, I’ve been loving you too long
I don’t wanna stop now

This song is ranked #110 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list, with Redding ranked at #8 on their list of the 500 Greatest Singers of All Time.  If you have never heard this man’s glorious voice or this song, please listen to it now.  You have been denied this gift long enough.

Or better yet, watch Redding’s entire performance from 1967’s  Monterey Pop Music Festival.  This song comes on at the 6:53 mark, but all 5 songs Redding delivers in his high energy persona are worth the watch (not to mention a glimpse of Booker T & the MG’s and the Mar-Keys providing the music to his phenomenal show) .  If you have never seen any part of this performance, it will change your life.  Nothing I write will come close to describing this legend of soul.

Redding was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 by Little Richard.

In the blog featuring the #10 song on the countdown, I wrote that the end to Jackie Wilson’s story was one of the saddest in music.  Well, Redding’s is the first, in my humble opinion.  His entire music career took place by the time he was 26 years old, with the exception of his only #1 record which hit that spot several weeks after his death (for “Dock of the Bay”, which also earned Redding two posthumous Grammy Awards for Best Male R&B Performance and Best R&B Song).  Add to that the fact that Redding left behind a young wife, three very small children and only gave us a glimpse of what his voice could have done for the world throughout his future career, and the story is almost too sad for words.

Redding died in a plane crash in Wisconsin’s Lake Monona on December 10, 1967.  Five members of his touring band, the Bar-Kays, were also killed.

I have been to the R&R HOF twice since it opened, and while I loved the history of it all and the spectacular artifacts on display to help illustrate the story that is rock & roll, it was unbelievably daunting to come thisclose to the display showcasing parts of the twin-engine Beechcraft plane wreckage Redding was killed in.  The fact that we have lived without his voice for almost half a century is heartbreaking enough on its own.

At least we had him for a little while.  What a gift he was to music.

Enjoy!!!