Let’s Take A Moment Day 323

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?

Feb 2021 Blog

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life 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 always loved songs with horns in them and no one featured them quite the way the band Chicago did. From their debut album in 1969 through all the ones which followed in the 1970’s, their distinctive sound set them apart from the usual radio fare. That is until their first #1 hit in 1976, “If You Leave Me Now”. The softer more AM radio sound prompted the hit songwriter, bassist Peter Cetera, to push the band away from their FM oriented music.

One of the group members most disturbed by this change was co-founder & guitarist Terry Kath. He was called a better guitarist than Jimi Hendrix by Hendrix himself when Chicago opened for him at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go in the late 1960’s. And Kath’s deep baritone voice, which was often compared to Ray Charles, was behind some of the band’s most recognizable songs including “Colour My World”, “I’m A Man”, “Wishing You Were Here” and today’s track. Kath wanted to stay true to the groups rock & jazz infused style rather than veer off into pop music.

Like many musicians of the decade, Kath struggled with drug & alcohol abuse. That combined with his love of firearms created the perfect storm of a tragic situation when Kath accidently shot himself to death on January 23, 1978. The loss obviously stunned the band who seriously contemplated a break up after the loss. They reconsidered and dedicated the song “Alive Again” to Kath later that year. Ironically though Kath’s death & a new producer led the band into the soft pop sounds they created in the 1980’s.

January 31 marked his 75th birth anniversary and like him I consider Chicago’s rock roots to be their best. Today’s song showcases both Kath’s vocal ability & musicianship skill perfectly and the horns are absolutely resplendent. He was inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2016 with the rest of the band where his only child, Michelle Kath Sinclair, accepted her father’s award. The same year she released the documentary, “The Terry Kath Experience” about his life, influence & legacy.

Living life is just a game so they say
All the games we used to play fade away
We may now enjoy the dreams we shared so long ago
“.

Chicago circa 1975

Terry Kath circa 1972

Top: The band Chicago circa 1975. Terry Kath is on the end far right. Bottom: Kath circa 1972. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Chicago: “Make Me Smile” (1970, written by James Pankow).

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 319

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?

Shakespeare music

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life 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.

When Fiorello La Guardia became NYC’s mayor in 1933, one of his first acts was to ban burlesque shows in the city. This caused Hurtig and Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater to close its doors after nearly twenty years in business. While this was obviously a bad thing for that show, it turned out to be one of the greatest blessings in musical history. A year later, on January 26, 1934, that venue was reborn as The Apollo Theatre.

From its first amateur night to the features of major musical performers, The Apollo stage has hosted the best artists in swing, bebop, jazz, gospel, blues, R&B and soul. In the 1930’s Billie Holiday, Lena Horne & the Count Basie Orchestra made their debuts there. The next decade featured Amateur Night winners like Sarah Vaughn and Ruth Brown. In the 1950’s James Brown was discovered the same way and “Showtime At The Apollo” began. That decade also saw the premiers of jazz greats Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk.

The 1960’s featured numerous shows by Stax & Motown artists. In 1972 John Lennon & Yoko Ono took part in a benefit concert there to help families of the inmates who were shot during the Attica Prison riots in 1971 (Admit it-now you hear Al Pacino in your head screaming “Attica!” “Attica!” from the movie, “Dog Day Afternoon”, right?)

The Apollo closed briefly in the late 1970’s but reopened in 1981. That decade brought about the debut of the television show, “Showtime at the Apollo”. For 87 years the theater located on W 125th Street in Harlem has been a beacon for legendary music & comedians. My parents are part of that history as they were there at a show in the 1960’s to see one of my mother’s favorite singers, Jackie Wilson. Today’s song is one of the biggest hits of his career and always reminds me of how lucky my parents were to see this man live during the height of his fame.

And in a great example of symmetry, I saw my own musical hero Bruce Springsteen play this song in concert several times (one of his best versions was with an all star band at The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame’s 25th anniversary concert in 2009). Dolly Parton did a gospel inspired country version of it as well in 1977. But today’s track features an electrifying horn arrangement & music by The Funk Brothers so that makes it the premiere version of this incredible song.

Now once I was downhearted
Disappointment was my closest friend
But then you came and he soon departed
And you know he never showed his face again
“.

Jackie Wilson

“Mr. Excitement” Jackie Wilson circa 1960. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Aretha at Apollo

The marquee’s announcement of The Queen Of Soul’s return to The Apollo Theater in New York City on June 3, 1971. (Tyrone Dukes/The New York Times).  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Jackie Wilson: “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher” (1967, written by Gary Jackson, Raynard Miner, and Carl Smith).

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 293

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?

Shakespeare music

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life 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 we celebrate the 76th birthday for one of the most prolific voices from the 1960’s Laurel Canyon music scene. Stephen Stills, a man Neil Young calls a genius, was born on January 3, 1945 in Dallas, TX. Best known as a member of the ground breaking groups-Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash (CSN) and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (CSN&Y)-Stills is also the writer behind one of the 60’s best protest anthems (“For What It’s Worth”) and the voice behind the song that celebrated the biggest concert the country had ever seen to that point (“Woodstock”). He is a two-time inductee into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame for his work with the aforementioned bands.

Stills has released a number of solo records throughout his career with notable songs like “Love The One You’re With”, “Sit Yourself Down” & “Treetop Flyer”. He is also noted for his guitar work and his multi-instrumental skills. He has worked with an array of artists including Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Richie Havens, Jerry Garcia, & Joni Mitchell, amongst others.

His work with CSN stands out the most for me. “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”, written about his one time girlfriend Judy Collins, is a musical odyssey. Just when you thought it could not get any better Stills closed out the song by singing in Spanish. But my favorite track of his is today’s, a stunningly beautiful ballad of lost love & heartbreak, with lyrics that define the word poetic.

Wordlessly watching, he waits by the window and wonders
At the empty place inside
Heartlessly helping himself to her bad dreams, he worries
Did he hear a goodbye
Or even hello
“.

CSN album

Stills & Young

Top: CSN’s 1969 debut album. Bottom: Stills (L) & Neil Young circa 2000. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Crosby, Stills & Nash: “Helplessly Hoping” (1969, written by Stephen Stills).

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 286

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?

Shakespeare music

(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 to catch-up on a rock & roll birthday.. Paul Rodgers, the mighty passionate & unbelievably gifted voice behind two incredible 1970’s bands turned 71 years old on December 17. Born in 1949, he started his career in music as a bass player but took over lead vocals when that bandmate wanted to concentrate more on his guitar work. Rodgers helped form Free in 1968 and two years later their colossal hit, “All Right Now”, earned the band international acclaim. The song was written by the group’s bassist Andy Fraser and Rodgers, who went on to write many songs & sing lead for another band co-founded, Bad Company, as well.

He was with them from 1974-1982 after which time they disbanded. The group reformed later in the decade but without Rodgers who was making solo records and part of a new group. The Firm. He rejoined Bad Company again around 2000 and remains with them today, but he continued with his solo work and joined forces for a while with Queen. I absolutely adore his voice and consider him one of the best rock singers of all time. I am truly stunned by how sorely underrated he is. He & Bad Company are one of the biggest snubs by The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, currently waiting 21 years to earn their rightful place in history. Regardless, Rodgers’ voice and the music he has made for over 50 years is some of the best I have ever heard, especially today’s song.

“Rebel souls
Deserters we are called
Chose a gun
And threw away the sun
“.

Bad Co 1974

Bad Company

Top: Bad Company circa 1974 (L-R): Boz Burrell, Simon Kirke, Paul Rodgers & Mick Ralphs. Bottom: Bad Company circa 2015 (L-R): Mick Ralphs, Simon Kirke, Paul Rodgers & Todd Ronning. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Bad Company: “Bad Company” (1974, written by Simon Kirke and Paul Rodgers).

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 217

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 we celebrate the birthday of a brother. A Doobie Brother. Patrick Simmons was born 72 years ago today in 1948. He has been the only consistent member of the band since they first formed in California fifty years ago in 1970. He is a singer, songwriter & guitarist who wrote today’s song. It was the band’s first #1 record, hitting the top of the chart in March 1975. The song is from the band’s 1974 album which has one of the best titles for a record I ever heard, “What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits”.

They performed today’s pick back in April in their “Live In Isolation” series and the ending chorus featured clips of fans singing along with them from home videos. It was a fabulous way to connect with their audience. So many of us are missing live music, one of the great casualties of this virus. But the Brothers made it happen. They hold a special place in my heart as theirs was the first concert I ever attended. I adore their music and remain completely in love with 1978’s “Minute By Minute” album to this day.

The Doobie Brothers are part of the Class of 2020 R&R HOF Inductees that did not get their official ceremony in May since it was cancelled because of the pandemic. But they should have been inducted decades ago. The band’s first album came out in 1971, making them eligible for the HOF in 1996. That is according to the Hall’s rule which makes an artist first eligible 25 years after the release of their debut album. Do the math, everyone. The Doobie Brothers have waited nearly twice that long.

The band’s page on the Hall’s website even acknowledges this (“They have been a mainstay in the rock & roll landscape for nearly five decades”) yet offers no apology nor explanation for the delay. But do not get me started on that place since John Coltrane, Bad Company, Warren Zevon, Pat Benatar, Jim Croce & Tina Turner (as a solo artist) are also still waiting to get in. But Abba was inducted 10 years ago. Completely ridiculous.

Simmons is being inducted with fellow Brothers Tom Johnston, John McFee, John Hartman, Michael Hossack (1946-2012), Tiran Porter, Keith Knudsen (1948-2005), Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Michael McDonald, who rejoined the group last year (yay!!!). The live ceremony has been revamped to “an exclusive special” to air on HBO & HBO MAX on November 7. In any case it will be a nice belated birthday gift for Simmons.

Well, I built me a raft and she’s ready for floatin’
Ol’ Mississippi, she’s callin’ my name
Catfish are jumpin’, that paddle wheel thumpin’
Black water keeps rollin’ on past just the same
“.

Doobies minute picture 1978

Top: The Doobie Brothers in 1978 (L-R, top to bottom): John Hartman, Patrick Simmons, Michael McDonald, Keith Knudsen, Jeff Skunk” Baxter & Tiran Porter. Bottom: The Brothers circa 2020: Simmons, Tom Johnston, John McFee & McDonald. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Doobie-Brothers-Clay-Patrick-McBride

The Doobie Brothers: “Black Water” (1974, written by Patrick Simmons).

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

Stay well.

Third One’s A Charmer

Hello, dear Vixens!!!  We have arrived at song #3!!!

woodland-christmas-tree

This legend from my home state of NY just announced his 50th world tour, and getting tickets to one of his shows will be this year’s Christmas gift to myself (he will be in CT next June).

During those 50 years he has sold over 120 million records (including the Monkees hit “I’m a Believer”), has had eleven number 1 hits, is in both the Songwriters Hall of Fame & the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, appeared in one of the greatest concert movies ever made (“The Last Waltz“), starred in the 1980 blockbuster, “The Jazz Singer” and was the focus of idolization in the movie “Saving Silverman” where he appeared as himself.

last-waltz

Courtesy of IMDb.

SAVING SILVERMAN, Neil Diamond, Jason Biggs, Jack Black, Steve Zahn, 2001

                                                    Courtesy of Cineplex.com                                                                                

Total aside…..hilarious movie!!!

With Steve Zahn & Jack Black starring in it, how could it not be, right???

But I digress.

Over the summer I went to several games at Fenway and loved singing the stadium staple “Sweet Caroline” with the rest of the crowd for the 8th inning sing along.

I have always been a believer that less is more, and sometimes an acoustic performance is so much more powerful than a full band sound.  This is so true on “Acoustic Christmas“, his newest release that features 10 simply gorgeous Christmas songs including today’s pick, which features a stunning string arrangement.

Neil Diamond:  Hark!  The Herald Angels Sing.

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you.

Until next time, fellow Vixens, happy listening!!!

day-3

 

Goodbye To Two Legends…..

Last week we said two very sad goodbyes, one in music and the other in TV.

How will the music world recover from the loss of the King of the Blues, Riley B “B.B.” King?  “The Thrill Is Gone” virtuoso passed away on May 14 at the age of 89.  Not since Les Paul has one man done so much for the guitar, and with that guitar-affectionately named “Lucille”-King gave us some of the greatest jazz/blues/rock & roll music the world ever saw.

kin2-011[1]

Photo courtesy of the American Academy of Achievement.

He bought his first guitar while he was growing up in Mississippi  and began his career in 1947 on Beale Street in Memphis.  The rest of the story is history, complete with 15 Grammy Awards, inductions into various halls of fame (including the Rock & Roll HOF in 1987 by Sting) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, amongst others.  Still King never forgot his roots, performing in his home town of Indianola, MS every year for the last three decades.  That town is also home to the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center.

Performers from Buddy Guy to the Rolling Stones to Eric Clapton to Tracy Chapman and many others have been influenced by King, and he worked with them and many others because his appeal appeared to have no limits.  One of my favorite collaborations of King’s was with U2 in 1988, “When Love Comes To Town” .

Thank you for the music, Mr. King.  Rest in peace.

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

The second goodbye goes to AMC’s masterpiece, Mad Men.  In a word, I am verklempt.

The 17 month hiatus between seasons four and five was bad enough, but now the break is final.  Sigh.

Mad-Men[1]

Photo courtesy of AMC.

It was hard enough saying goodbye to NBC’s “Parenthood” earlier this year (read about that here).  But now this?  Whatever will I do without my weekly Don Draper fix (a/k/a the scrumptious Jon Hamm)?  Or Betty and Joan’s gorgeous dresses to swoon over?  What about Roger Sterling’s one liners?  I gave up smoking over 5 years ago but each time one of the characters lit up a cigarette, I inhaled with them vicariously.  And I am no longer embarrassed to order an Old Fashioned when I go out since Don & Roger enjoyed them as well.

And like the “Parenthood” finale, the end of the “Mad Men” series forced fans to deal with a death also-that of Betty Draper’s (the beautiful & talented January Jones).  No, it did not happen on screen, but it was imminent from her lung cancer diagnosis in the penultimate episode.  It was widely rumored on the internet that one character would have to suffer the consequences of all that smoking, but I was hoping it would be Peter Campbell.  I know he did not smoke but he could have contracted the illness from the second hand effects (he was my least favorite character-can you tell?).

I just felt like the Draper kids had already been through so much as a result of their absentee father, their mother’s dysfunction, the death of Grandpa Gene, their parent’s divorce, the loss of their maid/nanny Carla and their subsequent move from the only home they knew to their step-father’s mansion.  I wanted a better end to the kids story, not more grief.  And the loss of their mother was one they were all too young to deal with.  But Betty’s handling of her doom, and the letter she wrote to Sally about the funeral arrangements in the second to last episode?  January Jones’ voice was so melancholy yet so resigned as she was heard reading the note that I was absolutely inconsolable.  Kudos to her and her on-screen daughter Kiernan Shipka for the way they handled that & every scene of this story line-hell, in the entire series.

Other than that I was quite satisfied with the ending, despite how much I was dreading the show’s run coming to a close.  Peggy found love as did Roger, and with a woman his own age-go figure.  I was in such a “Mad Men” haze since AMC ran the entire series-all 7 seasons-from last Wednesday night leading up to the finale Sunday night.  I was happy to relive as much of it as I could because in addition to the great acting, great writing and great directing, I will miss the spectacular music featured in each episode.  Even the send off song the network used in promoting the end of the series-Paul Anka’s “The Times Of Your Life“-was perfect.

But my favorite song heard in the series was an instrumental of “Love Is Blue” by Paul Mauriat and his Orchestra.  Written by French composers André Popp and Pierre Cour, Mauriat’s version was released in 1967 and became an international smash.  By early 1968 it hit #1 on the US charts for five weeks.  I am ashamed to admit it, but this fantastic piece of music fell off my radar for many years until I heard it again at the end of episode 5 of season 6, “The Flood”.  (If you prefer a more rock and roll version, check out Jeff Beck’s cover here.)

So goodbye, Mad Men.  I cannot say I will miss you most of all since my favorite TV shows are dropping like flies this year, but this loss definitely hurts my heart so.  And getting the chance to live through the decade of 1961-1971 through you and with you was a fascinating ride.  Thanks for seven remarkable seasons.  Uh oh, I am getting verklempt again.  Talk amongst yourselves.  I’ll give you a topic:  Jon Hamm was neither a john nor a ham.  Discuss.