Let’s Take A Moment Day 407

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?

May 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 owe you all another apology for skipping over another song I was sure I featured already. I think the oversight was because I shared the story of today’s band-Badfinger-on Day 63 when I chose Harry Nilsson’s version of their song, “Without You”. To recap that post, this was a band that saw the highest of highs & the lowest of lows.

The highs? They were the first group to be signed to The Beatles’ Apple Records label in 1968. Paul McCartney wrote & produced their first hit record (“Come and Get It”) while George Harrison produced today’s song and played slide guitar on it as well. Nilsson’s hit & today’s track were written by Badfinger’s frontman & lead guitarist, Pete Ham, who remained close with Harrison even after The Beatles broke up. The two musicians played together on Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” album & his benefit concerts for Bangladesh in NYC in 1971.

The lows? Not one but two members of this incredible band died by suicide: Ham died three days before his 28th birthday in 1975, leaving behind his pregnant girlfriend and a stepson. His bandmate & co-writer of “Without You” Tom Evans, died in 1983 after fighting with another bandmate-Joey Molland-over the royalties of that song, which hit #1 for four straight weeks in 1972. Evans was survived by his wife and son. The band’s trouble with money began after their manager stole all their earnings and left them in financial ruin.

In the end, it was too much for Ham, who was born April 27, 1947 in Wales. We can blame the money issues & perhaps the subsequent legal fallout to the suicides, but a lack of mental stability also contributed to the choices both Ham & Evans made. They convinced themselves that what they lost was far more important than what they created.  That is only part of the damage depression can do.

Today’s song is heartbreakingly beautiful & I felt that way before I ever knew the band’s tragic story. It is a song of lost love & betrayal told in a succinct eloquent way. It is highlighted by Harrison’s stunning slide guitar arrangement, Leon Russell’s piano performance and Ham’s sophisticated vocal. His music is often credited as the start of the power pop ballad sound. Whatever category his music falls into, I am just thankful every day that this man & his talent are part of the musical universe.

I remember holding you
While you sleep
Every day I feel the tears
That you weep
“.

Harrison and Ham

Badfinger

Top: George Harrison and Pete Ham in the recording studio circa 1971. Bottom: Badfinger circa 1971 (L-R): Bassist Tom Evans, guitarist Pete Han, drummer Mike Gibbins and guitarist Joey Molland. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Badfinger: “Day After Day” (1971, written by Pete Ham).

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 252

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.

A few days before starting my last year of junior high, I went shopping with a friend to buy a new pair of shoes for the school year. My dad gave me the money to buy them and decided I was now old enough to go on my own for this yearly tradition. As my friend and I were walking through the mall, I spotted a newly opened record store. I think you know what happened next.

I went in “just to look” & inhale the fabulous rows upon rows of vinyl records in a store five times the size of the one I usually shopped in near my house. My friend grew concerned, however, when she noticed my glassy eyed stare as I flipped through the H bin and found, in all of its magnificent glory, George Harrison’s 1970 three album boxed set solo masterpiece, “All Things Must Pass”. This record had eluded me for years because each time I went to buy it either it was sold out or too expensive. And the only way I could buy it that day was to use my shoe money. My friend reminded me of the wrath and possible body cast that I would get from my father if I made such a reckless choice. But to me it was a no brainer and clearly worth the risk, so I bought the album. I could figure a way out of the hole I dug myself into later. For now, I was on a high that even my friend’s look of sheer horror could not shake me from.

She still had to buy her own shoes so off to that store we went. As I sat next to her while she tried on multiple pairs, I got lost in the reverie of my first boxed set as I read through the song listings and the liner notes. But my friend kept asking my opinion on her options so I left my happy place to offer my help. I liked her final choice and decided when I came back, I would buy the same pair. I also decided I should try them on then & there so it would save me some time on my next trip. But they did not have any size that fit me as that summer my feet turned into cruise ships. The clerk told me he could order a bigger size and it would take about a week to come in. The music gods had smiled on me. My dad would tell me to hold onto the money to pick up the shoes when they came in and with a steady babysitting gig I could earn back the cash I had spent on the album. Win win.

That night I bathed in the glory of The Quiet Beatle, The Spiritual Beatle, The Youngest Beatle. Both versions of “Isn’t It A Pity” were glorious as was the title track, “Beware Of Darkness”, the cover of Dylan’s “If Not For You”, the track he wrote with Harrison, “I’d Have You Any Time” and today’s song. It was the album’s first single released 50 years ago today November 23, 1970. It featured an array of guest performers including former Beatle Ringo Starr on drums & percussion, Billy Preston on piano and five musicians on acoustic guitar in addition to Harrison: Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton and three members of the first band signed to The Beatles’ Apple label, Badfinger (Pete Ham, Tom Evans & Joey Molland). But it was Harrison’s vocal & slide guitar arrangement that put the song over the top. And the love for the tune was universal as it went to #1 in the US, the UK and 15 other countries. This was the record that told the world that as great as he was in The Beatles, Harrison was a star all on his own.

I really want to see you
Really want to be with you
Really want to see you Lord
But it takes so long, my Lord

All_Things_Must_Pass_BW

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

George Harrison: “My Sweet Lord” (1970, written by George Harrison).

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 63

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?

Peanuts 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.

There once was a band named Badfinger.  They were the first group to be signed to The Beatles’ Apple Records label in 1968.  Paul McCartney wrote & produced their first song “Come and Get It” which became a hit record.  Three more big songs followed:  “No Matter What”, “Day After Day” (which was produced by George Harrison) and “Baby Blue”.  All three of those songs were written by the band’s lead singer & guitarist, Pete Ham.  He remained close with Harrison even after The Beatles broke up, and the two musicians played together on Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” album & his benefit concerts for Bangladesh in NYC in 1971.  Warner Brothers became Badfinger’s new label after Apple Records was dissolved following The Fab Four’s breakup so Badfinger did not miss any time recording new material.  All was going well for the band.

But then Badfinger’s manager stole all their money and left them in financial ruin.  Lawsuits & other serious issues followed.  The band tried desperately to overcome them and the pending insolvency.  In the end, all the problems became too overwhelming for Ham and he committed suicide three days before his 28th birthday in 1975.

He co-wrote today’s song with his bandmate, Tom Evans, who also died by suicide in 1983 after fighting with another bandmate, Joey Molland, over the royalties of this song.  Badfinger recorded it in 1970 but it was not a hit until about a year later after singer Harry Nilsson released his version.  By February 1972 it became the country’s number one song for four weeks in a row.  It seemed destined to be successful with its absolutely gorgeous arrangement highlighted with Nilsson’s incredibly stunning and powerful vocal.

Both songwriters had so much to live for aside from their music.  Yet, even after hearing the masterpiece their song became with Nilsson’s version, both men still convinced themselves that what they lost was far more important than what they created.  That is only part of the heartbreak of depression.

We have a plethora of horrible diseases in this world.  I pray that someday soon we eradicate all of them.  And that the cure for mental illness is close to the top of that list.

Badfinger circa 1970 L-R:  Joey Molland, Tom Evans, Pete Ham & Mike Gibbons.  Harry Nilsson circa 1973.  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Harry Nilsson:  “Without You” (1971, written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans).

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

Stay well.