Let’s Take A Moment Day 213

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.

Today in 1958 Jackie Wilson recorded one of his signature songs. It was another tune co-written by future Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr who also co-wrote “Reet Petite”, “To Be Loved” & “We Have Love” for Wilson the year before. The proceeds earned from these songs helped Gordy start Tamla Records in 1959 which became the iconic Motown label in April 1960. The success of today’s tune also helped establish Wilson as one of the premier R&B singers not only the 1950’s & 1960’s but of all time.

He was born Jack Leroy Wilson Jr. in Detroit, Michigan in 1934. He began singing in church when he was a child which led to him joining a gospel group in his teens. He learned to box during a couple of stints in detention for bad behavior and competed in the local boxing circuit before he quit to marry at 17 because he was going to become a father. He joined several groups (including one with his cousin, future Four Tops lead singer Levi Stubbs) until Wilson signed a solo record deal with Decca Records subsidiary label, Brunswick, in 1957. “Reet Petite” was his first release which helped launch his career through its moderate success. Between his four octave tenor range and his dynamic dance moves on stage, Wilson earned the nickname “Mr. Excitement” and enjoyed over a decade of success throughout his career.

Unfortunately the rest of his story is not as happy. Wilson was besieged with problems in his personal life including getting shot by a girlfriend, several arrests and legal issues, financial losses & IRS liens due to an embezzling manager as well as multiple children from in & out of his two marriages. He also lost a son, Jackie Jr in 1970 when the 16 year old was shot to death. That sent Wilson into a depressive state which included drug use. In 1975 he suffered a heart attack onstage which left him in a semi-comatose state. He remained in a nursing home until his death from pneumonia in 1984. Wilson left a legacy on music, fans and the performers he influenced especially Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, and Michael Jackson among many others. My mother was a big fan of his & she and my dad were lucky enough to see Wilson perform around 1960 at the acclaimed Apollo Theatre in Harlem. Swoon.

Just give me another chance for our romance
Come on and tell me that one day you’ll return
‘Cause, every day that you’ve been gone away
You know my heart does nothing but burn, crying
“.

Wilson and Elvis

Elvis Presley (L) with Jackie Wilson (R) circa 1959. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Jackie Wilson: “Lonely Teardrops” (As performed on “American Bandstand” in March 1959. Originally released in 1958, written by Berry Gordy Jr, Gwen Gordy & Roquel “Billy” Davis as “Tyran Carlo”).

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 143

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?

Charlie Brown No Music No Life

(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 Left Banke was one of those groups that burst onto the scene in the mid-1960’s and left an indelible mark on music despite their brief stay.  Best known for two songs, the exquisite “Pretty Ballerina” and today’s pick, the success of same came quickly for the band leading to tension amongst the group members and eventually disbandment.  While they were together, they helped coin a new phrase, baroque rock, which critics felt best described their unique sound and string arrangements.  Today’s song was also done by the Four Tops which is also wonderful.  But the Left Banke’s version, led by the vocals of Steve Martin Caro  who sadly died earlier this year at the age of 71, is in my opinion absolutely gorgeous.

Your name and mine 
inside a heart upon a wall
Still finds a way to haunt me 
though they’re so small“.

Left Bank

The LEft Bank circa 1965.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Left Banke:  “Walk Away Renee” (1966, written by Michael Brown, Bob Calilli, and Tony Sansone).

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 135

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.

Time for another mid-week Motown break.  The Four Tops had tremendous success whether they were singing their own Motown originals or covers like “Walk Away Renee” (first recorded by The Left Banke in 1966), “If I Were A Carpenter” (written & recorded by Tim Hardin in 1967) or “River Deep Mountain High” (originally recorded by Ike & Tina Turner in 1966).  The reason they never missed was because Levi Stubbs was as close to perfection as a vocalist could be.  He had a smooth polished vocal as opposed to the impassioned raw emotion of his Temptations counterpoint, David Ruffin.  I often thought of Stubbs singing to be close in style to Sam Cooke’s while Ruffin’s was more like Otis Redding’s.  All four men had incredible iconic voices, just different styles.

Added to Stubbs’ vocals were the harmonious backing sounds by his group members- Abdul “Duke” Fakir, Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Lawrence Payton-along with the music of The Funk Brothers and the historic magical sound of The Four Tops was complete.  All four members stayed together for 44 years, a record unmatched by any other act on the label.  To this day they remain one of Motown’s most beloved and renowned groups and one of my great loves from that era.

All you left is our favorite song
The one we danced to all night long
It used to bring sweet memories
Of a tender love that used to be.” 

Four Tops

The Four Tops circa 1965 (L-to-R) Renaldo “Obie” Benson, Levi Stubbs, Abdul “Duke” Fakir, and Lawrence Payton.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Four Tops:  “It’s The Same Old Song” ( 1965, written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland).

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 125

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.

Today’s song has been covered by a myriad of artists including Robert Plant, The Four Tops, Bob Seger, Johnny Cash (as a duet with his wife, June Carter Cash) and Leon Russell, and all of them are great versions.  But my favorite one was recorded by Walden Robert Cassotto, better known by his stage name, Bobby Darin.  It was a top ten hit for him in 1966.  If you are not too familiar with Darin, it is very easy to write him off as a novelty act because of his first hit song, “Splish Splash”.  But make no mistake, he was an excellent musician playing guitar, piano and drums.  He also wrote and recorded songs in all different types of musical genres including pop, rock & roll, jazz, swing, country & folk.

That is how he took us from “Dream Lover”, “Mack The Knife” and “Beyond The Sea” in the 1950’s to today’s song and “Simple Song of Freedom” in the 1960’s.  He began his career as a songwriter at The Brill Building in NYC, the same place where Carole King & Gerry Goffin started.  It was there that Darin met & was signed by record executive Ahmet Ertegun, who discovered people like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton (when he was in the band, Cream), Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Led Zeppelin.  I think Darin’s vocal has a haunting sadness in it that just resonates throughout today’s song.  And with superb lyrics by songwriter Tim Hardin and a beautiful arrangement, this tune just had everything it needed to be something both remarkable & unexpected all at once.

Save my love through loneliness
Save my love for sorrow
I’ve given you my onlyness
Come give your tomorrow.”

Bobby-Darin-The-Direction-Albums-

Bobby Darin circa 1969.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Bobby Darin:  “If I Were A Carpenter” (1966, written by Tim Hardin).

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 102

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?

Kerouac

(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.

If you ask most people who the greatest band of all time is. many will tell you The Beatles.  However, the question as to who comes in second would spark a debate by fans and music scholars alike since there are so many to consider.  But not for me.  Only one answer is clear.  It is The Funk Brothers.

They were a group of blues and jazz musicians who became the house band at the Motown label for 14 years, from 1959 until 1972.  Look at those dates again carefully because what they reveal is every song recorded for the label in the 1960’s had The Funk Brothers on it.  That is every song by Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Marvelettes, The Supremes, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Martha & The Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Junior Walker & The All Stars and every other act on the label during that time.  That is an absolutely staggering accomplishment.

The Funk Brothers story was told in the 2002 documentary, “Standing In The Shadows Of Motown”.  During the opening credits it is revealed they played on more number one hit records than Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys combined.   Even the word genius does not seem to adequately describe that achievement.  And the only reason why their streak ended is because Berry Gordy moved the label’s base of operation from Detroit to Los Angeles without including the band in the relocation.  And prior to that they were never given the proper recognition they deserved during Motown’s heyday.

The film identified 13 men as Funk Brothers.  Remember the Apostles were 13 when they were with Jesus.  Coincidence or the second coming?  You decide.  Outside of the Motown label they played on The Contours “Do You Love Me”, Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher” and on the song “Boom Boom” by one of the greatest blues singers to ever pick up a guitar, John Lee Hooker.

Of course, the songwriters and performers were needed to deliver the sound created by The Funk Brothers, but without their incredibly talented and intense consistent playing the songs would have never soared like they did.  For example, today’s track was written by the same two men who wrote Gaye’s smash “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” and I find it nothing short of hypnotic.  There is a lead guitar riff played quickly and sporadically throughout the song that just reaches inside of me and leaves me gasping for air despite it being all around me.  It is just that intense.

A couple of my musical heroes list Motown/Funk Brothers songs as ones they cannot live without.  For Eric Clapton it is “I Was Made To Love Her” by Stevie Wonder.  For Bruce Springsteen it is two (because he is just that cool):  “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye & “Baby I Need Your Lovin'” by The Four Tops.  Covers of Motor City songs were made by The Beatles (“You Really Got A Hold On Me”) Rod Stewart (“I Know I’m Losing You”), The Rolling Stones (“Going To A Go-Go”) and countless others.  Motown’s influence, lead by the music of The Funk Brothers, is so far reaching it would be nearly impossible to comprehend.  But without it, the landscape of music would be devoid of soul.  I may bow at other altars of music, but I am brought to my knees in the church of the Brothers Funk.  Can I get an amen?

Stevie Wonder in the Motown studio with some of The Funk Brothers circa 1967 and the movie poster for 2002’s “Standing In The Shadows Of Motown” (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Marvin Gaye featuring the music of The Funk Brothers:  “That’s The Way Love Is” ( 1969, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong).

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 31

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.

The early 1960’s introduced us to the Motown sound out of Detroit.  In the late 1960’s-early 1970’s we were presented with Philly Soul from-where else- Philadelphia.  Motown enthroned us with power groups like The Temptations, The Four Tops & The Miracles.  Philly Soul blessed us with the likes of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, The O’Jays and the group I am most grateful for from that genre-The Stylistics.  And the reason is today’s song.

Where the other groups were lead by singers with booming mostly baritone voices, the Stylistics were lead by the falsetto of Russell Thompkins Jr.  That unique sound combined with the Philly Soul staple of gorgeous string & horn arrangements set this group apart from the others.  It also gave them a dozen consecutive top ten hits in the 1970’s.  I really like almost every one of them, but I think today’s song is an absolute masterpiece.

Stylistics

The Stylistics circa 1972 (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Stylistics:  “You Are Everything” (1971, written by Thom Bell and Linda Creed).

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 21

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.

Motown is one of my favorite genres of music.  I cannot even imagine my life without it.  I have always believed that some of the greatest voices in music came out of Detroit and one of them belonged to Levi Stubbs.  He and the other three members of The Four Tops gave us some of the biggest hits to come out of the Motor City, thanks to their collaborations with the label’s premier songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.  The trio wrote many of the group’s biggest hits including “Baby I Need Your Loving”, “Standing In The Shadows Of Love”,  “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” and today’s song.

The Four Tops had the one of the longest runs of any group in any genre of music.  They were together for 44 years before the death of one of the original singers forced them to recruit a new member.  That longevity was due in large part to Stubbs never wanting to strike out on his own once the group became successful.  That was so unlike so many lead singers from groups in all types of music who go on to make solo records during a band’s hiatus or leaving it entirely for a solo career.  Stubbs never never forgot he was part of a group and did not want to outshine the other members of it.  He and his rich powerful baritone voice remained loyal to The Four Tops until his death in 2008.

  Levi Stubbs alone and with The Four Tops circa 1964  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

The Four Tops:   “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” (1967, written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland).

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

Stay well.

Thrifted Finds Friday & A Shout Out To Galentine’s Day

This week I was finally able to cross off a bucket list item with the purchase of this vintage angler’s creel for $8.00.

creel A

I love baskets and the shape of this one has always appealed to me.  And the handle makes it easy to display.

creel one

I think the size is perfect also.  Not too big, not too small, just right.  And the square opening gives it even more interest and usefulness.

creel 3

I originally wanted one for my bathroom to hold my blow dryer and hair brushes.  But now I am considering putting it on the back of my entry door or on a peg rack near the door as a landing place for keys, mail or to hold books/dvds to return to the library.

creel 4

If you sew, knit or crochet you could use one of these baskets to hold all those supplies.

Have you thrifted any bucket list items recently?  I would love to see your finds.  Please share them with me in the comments or tag me on Facebook or Instagram.

Now for a song (actually three songs).

Valentine’s Day is not just about romantic love.  It’s a day to honor all the love in your life.  Love of any kind is something special and should be celebrated.  Just like Thanksgiving has evolved into Friendsgiving for some, women choosing to celebrate with their favorite girls refer to this as Galantine’s Day (thank you, Queen Amy Poehler!!!)

Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler (courtesy:  NBC/Parks and Recreation).

So this first song recognizes the women we are honored to share our lives with.  On an interesting side note, at 4:04 of the video, Annie Lennox states “Equal pay, hear what we say”.  Sadly, we are still waiting for that 35 years later.

Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin:  “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” (1985, written by Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart in 1985).

Courtesy:  Disney/Pixar

For the romantics celebrating love on any day here are two songs to help you with that, one from the male perspective and the other from the female one.  The first song combines a gorgeous string arrangement with one of the greatest lead singers to come out of Motown.  The second is by a female who has won every award and accolade because of her incredible voice, and her delivery on this song just underscores her talent.  Plus, it was written by a an incredibly prolific songwriter who gives us a piece of herself with every word she writes.

The Four Tops:  “I Believe In You And Me” (1983, written by Sandy Linzer and David Wolfert in 1982).

Celine Dion:  “If You Asked Me To” (1992, written by Diane Warren in 1989).

I do not own the rights to the music.  I am just sharing what I love with you.

Until next time, happy listening!!!

25 Days Of Christmas Songs: Day 21

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

durango-co-christmas

(Original source unknown)

My love for Motown is immense.  I have adored it since I was a kid, thanks to my parents.  They bought one of those K-Tel compilations which consisted of four albums of the Motor City’s greatest hits and the rest is history.

So many great songs and singers came out of that era, and to this day four of them are still on my list of favorite voices of all time:  Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, David Ruffin (lead singer of the Temptations) & Levi Stubbs (lead singer of the Four Tops.

Despite the fact that Motown gave us some of the greatest music ever made, so many of the holiday music recorded by those artists is hardly ever heard during the Christmas season.  With radio stations starting earlier and earlier every year to play holiday songs, I do not know how this era of music gets overlooked.  I listen to these four Christmas songs year round, and maybe after hearing them you will understand why.

marvin gaye     Temptations

Marvin Gaye (R) – The Temptations (L) (original sources unknown)

Stevie Wonderthe-four-tops-abdul-duke-fakir-levi-everett

Stevie Wonder (R) – The Four Tops (L) (original sources unknown)

Marvin Gaye:  “I Want To Come Home For Christmas

Stevie Wonder:  “What Christmas Means to Me

The Four Tops:  “Away In A Manger

The Temptations:  “Silent Night

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!!!

Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #12…..And A Sad Anniversary

Before we get to today’s countdown song, let’s take a minute to observe the 56th anniversary of the day the music died. On February 3 1959, a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa claimed the lives of musicians Buddy Holly, J.P. Richardson a/k/a the Big Bopper and Richie Valens.  Holly was 22, Richardson was 28 and Valens was just 17 years old.  They were all part of a three week long American city tour called the Winter Dance Party.

What a lot of people do not know is that country music legend Waylon Jennings, who was a member of Holly’s new band after he parted ways with the Crickets, was supposed to be on the flight but gave up his seat to Richardson because he had the flu.

If you saw the movie based on Valens’ life story, “La Bamba”, you know that Valens won his seat in a coin toss from another of Holly’s band members.  One more member of the tour, Dion Dimucci (of Dion & the Belmonts), decided he could not afford the ticket for the flight so he passed on a seat.

The crash was so devastating to the music industry and fans alike it was dubbed “the day the music died” then and in Don McClean’s song “American Pie” which was released over a decade after the crash.  Ironically, the song was number one in 1972 on the anniversary of the crash.

The musical influence of Holly and Valens never waned, and both were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and 2001, respectively.  As of 2015, J.P. Richardson has not been elected to the HOF.

For countdown song #12, we visit one of my favorite periods of music ever-the Motown era.  So many of my favorite singers have come from the Motown years:  Marvin Gaye, David Ruffin, Stevie Wonder and Levi Stubbs.  In fact, it is Mr. Stubbs’ group-the  Four Tops-that sang my #12 favorite love song.  “I Believe in You & Me“, written by David Wolfert and Sandy Linzer, was released in 1982.

It is unequivocally one of the highlights of Stubbs’ career, showcasing not only the range of his voice but its passion as well.  His delivery is clear, smooth and so heartfelt it saves the borderline syrupy sentiment of some of the lyrics to ones that are just moving and hopeful.  Even the esteemed Whitney Houston could not deliver her 1996 cover of this song any where close to the beauty of Stubbs’ original.  We lost his voice in 2008, and music in general has never quite sounded the same to me since.

The lyrics refer to love as a miracle, and the older I get and the more I realize how hard true love is to find, I believe romantic love may really be a wonder after all.

Enjoy!!!