Monday, October 19, 2020

The Senate A Silent Majority, and the #WrongSideOfHistory


 Just over a year ago, I wrote a blog titled, Save The Country, 50 Years Later and the #WrongSideOfHistory based on Laura Nyro's 1969 song, Save The Country. I made the graphic above, and then updated it for the 2020 election. The song, Save The Country spoke to me historically as I got to comparing the times of the Nixon and Trump administrations. In retrospect, Nixon was a peashooter compared to Trump's cannon of lies and corruption as Tricky Dick's got nothing on the Swamp Creature.

Senators Howard Baker (R) and Sam Ervin (D) 
during the 1973 Watergate Hearings

So like many of you, I grew up during the Vietnam War, the Nixon administration, and Watergate. In high school, Nixon and the threat of our democracy were being played out live on television and talked about in my history classes including, the Senate hearings headed by Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina. I remember being told, "We are living in historic times."

So here, almost a half century later from a teenager living during the shady Nixon years to now, a retired teacher living in the Trump years of chaos. From my perspective, historically Trump is our biggest threat to democracy since World War II. I tell people, "We are living in historic times." Years from now, people like my grandchildren will ask older Americans, "Did you vote for Donald Trump?"

I have no doubt that my grandchildren will learn in school and life that Trump threatened our democratic practices and policies domestically as well as with our trusted foreign allies. My grandchildren will also learn about the current Republication senators who abandoned their conservative principles and character for what? These senators have stood in lock step with Trump and have sacrificed their political party for one man, who wants to be an autocrat

The dictator and the wanna-be, Mussolini and Trump. | CC

In 1973, bipartisan Republication and Democrat senators came together to cause Nixon's resignation before he was going to be impeached in the Senate. That group of senators during the Nixon years are remembered to this day for doing the right thing. 

The present Senate majority (fifty-three) Republican senators have simply been, SILENT. 

Silent to act as Trump almost provoked a war with North Korea. Silent to act on any meaningful legislation like rebuilding our nation's infrastructure. Silent to act by watching immigrant children locked in cages at the southern border. Silent to act on the President's attempt to use a foreign power to influence our election. Silent to act on a world-wide pandemic with over 8 million U.S. cases and over 220,000 American deaths (so far). I could go on...

These majority senators have been silent in their duty and are utterly complicit in allowing Donald Trump's lies, high crimes and misdemeanors to go unchecked day after day, for four years. Oh, they did one thing, pass a huge tax cut to the top 1% of rich Americans!

There's a great hashtag for these people and it's called, #WrongSideOfHistory. Back in January, after the Senate turned back the House's impeachment vote against Trump, Jimmy Kimmel tweeted, "This is what the wrong side of history looks like," and used the collage of the fifty-one senator majority at the time below.

Ben Sasse
Now fast-forward to Nebraska's Senator Ben Sasse (R) this past week. He participates in an 11th hour confessional town hall phone call with his constitutes trying to play both ends of the game to keep his Senate seat in his re-election bid. Sasse seems to have suddenly found a conscience (maybe thinking of his grandchildren in the future) by looking to slam Trump and possibly save his reputation and seat of power. Here's a short read in the NY Times about his Town Hall titled, Slamming Trump, G.O.P. Senator Warns of a ‘Republican Blood Bath.’ Sorry Ben, you can't be silent for four years and now start talking truth about Trump. You're always going to be stuck with the #WrongSideOfHistory senator gang and here's hoping you go down with the rest of this sinking ship. Even your buddies Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, and even ol' Moscow Mitch made statements this past week distancing themselves from the President before his potential loss (Fearing a ‘Blood Bath,’ Republican Senators Begin to Edge Away From Trump).

Last week, my good friend Paul Hobbs sent me an audio file of a song that he had just completed, The Senate A Silent Majority. I loved it! He asked me to make a video of the song that he could post on his YouTube Channel. I made it by largely using Kimmel's graphic above, I don't think Jimmy will mind. 

So now enjoy Paul's wonderful new song, and then share it with a friend.


Okay America, time to VOTE and 'fire' the game show host President along with his boot-licking senators that do nothing to help our country and its hard working people. Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former personal lawyer for ten years is correct, to paraphrase he says, more than anything Trump is a 'con man' just out to enrich himself. Come on people, save democracy, save the country, and let's all get back to the future and leave Trump's sorry ass 'make America white again' shit show behind.

Stay well and stay strong friends. The next couple of weeks and possibly through November are going to be a Dumpty ride with this notorious foul-mouthed fat-shamin' old man and the irony of the things he says, he is.



Note- Here's a good site to track both the Senate Republication (23) and Democrat (12) seats up for re-election, 2020 Senate Race Ratings

Monday, October 12, 2020

50 Years of Music • Tumbleweed Connection

Elton John's third album, Tumbleweed Connection was released on October 30, 1970 in England, and in January, 1971 in the United States. This Americana-themed album is one of my favorites of all-time.

In 1970, Elton was having his breakout year with the release of Elton John in April, then his legendary August run at the Troubadour in Los Angles, followed by this fall classic release in October. 

Like so many British kids born right after World War II, both Bernie Taupin and Elton John were heavily influenced by American culture and music growing up. Tumbleweed Connection is a reflection of Taupin's obsession with the American West and perfect timing as the wild west was again back in vogue in the late 60's and early 70's in both film and music. Country Rock as a sub-genre was also getting a full head of steam from bands such as The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Linda Ronstadt and Leon Russell that inspired John and Taupin to dive into this country-themed album.

The artwork cover and inside photos are perfect - The wraparound cover photo for the album was taken at Sheffield Park railway station in Sussex, approximately 30 miles (50 km) south of London on the Bluebell Railway. Photographer Ian Digby Ovens captured John (seated to the right in the photo but appearing to the left on the front cover, shown above) and Taupin (standing to the left, on the back cover) in front of the late-nineteenth-century station, to represent the album's rural Americana concept despite the English location. Additional photos were taken from the interior of a train on the line for the album liner notes and libretto. Wikipedia 

I had always wondered where the cover photo was taken as none of the train station advertising signs seemed familiar. I think it's cool the way they used the English railway station with its dated feel and thus, the connection between to the two countries and culture.

The lyric insert is also a sheer delight as any fan loves to read the lyrics and look at the artwork while listening to the album on the turntable. This album had everything, great songs wrapped in an appealing consumer package. My friends and I all became Elton John fans immediately after Tumbleweed Connection. This past week, I'm holding my wife's original copy and its in prestine condition as she is a hardcore fan and my own memories just flood back as we listened to all his 70's records together in high school and college. When I opened the lyric insert after so many years, I thought, "They really nailed this thing!"

In 1970-71 as a sophomore in high school, even with the Vietnam War on the nightly news, this still was my age of innocence. Bernie and Reg had made a Western rock 'n' roll album as good as the 1969 film, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, and if you memorized lines and play acted scenes from that movie, you probably memorized a lot of the lyrics from Tumbleweed Connection. 

Please make the time this week to listen to the whole album and those lyrics will surely come back to you as quickly as the time from then to now. 

And it's good old country comfort in my bones
Just the sweetest sound my ears have ever known
Just an old-fashioned feeling fully-grown
Country comfort's in a truck that's going home

Monday, October 5, 2020

#NewMusicMonday • September • 2020

I've been working on this playlist for several weeks as these songs are mostly releases from September, 2020. As usual, I'm always discovering groups, albums and songs from earlier releases in the year and have included them here. One such find was discovering the band, The Immediate Family, a group formed of legendary session players who have played on a great number of rock 'n' roll albums. If you've ever listened to a James Taylor, Jackson Browne, or Linda Ronstadt album, you already know these guys very well. Check out their cover of Warren Zevon's Werewolves of London (cowritten by Waddy Wachtel) where Waddy sings a new line, "Except for Steve we've all been fired by James Taylor" that had me laughing out loud. 

Artists from this weeks playlist also include: Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keys, The Flaming Lips, Fleet Foxes, Waylon Payne, Ben Harper, Joan Osborne, Mike Polizze, Gillian Welch, Sarah Jarosz, Molly Tuttle, and Sierra Ferrell to name the multiple songs.

Enjoy and stay well my friends. 

Monday, September 28, 2020

50 Years of Music • September, 1970

Repipe came in through the bathroom walls
September, 2020 finds me in my (almost) 50 year old house and she's starting to show her age. The past several months have been, "Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling" as the ol' copper pipes sounded like a jackhammer when we turned the water on. This condition in the plumbing biz is actually called, "water hammer" or as the plumber called it, "Hammer Time."

This past month has been a scene right out of Beetlejuice as the walls would rattle and the downstairs bathroom floor tiles were getting warmer and warmer. It finally dawned on me, "Dear I believe we've sprung a hot water leak underneath the concrete slab."

Well, After consulting my old buddy and contractor, Ron Zieman he guided me to go with a complete "Pex" repipe of the entire house. A repipe, cuts off the copper lines leading under the slab and are replaced with the Pex pipe rerouted within all of the walls and ceiling. Why, because you don't have to tear out the floor and slab to fix one leak, and then do it all over again somewhere else in the house and keep rolling the dice.

Anyway, the repipe and drywall jobs went great and I just have to repaint the exterior stucco by the kitchen, the kitchen, downstairs bedroom, laundry room and this downstairs bath just completed yesterday to the missus specifications.

The really cool thing now is we have new shower and bath fixtures in both bathrooms with great water pressure throughout the house, and you don't have to worry about flushing the toilet in the downstairs bathroom and scalding the person taking a shower in the upstairs bathroom anymore!

I still found time this week to musically go back in time to 1970 where 'they' came up with the brilliant idea to put the plumbing system underneath the concrete foundation.

Music wise September, 1970 was a great month with releases from: The Byrds, The Rolling Stones (Live also featuring B.B. King and Ike and Tina Turner), Billy Preston, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, The Allman Brothers Band, Seals and Crofts, Jesus Christ Superstar, Glen Campbell, Santana, Johnny Winter, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and James Brown.

So, I now got a new playlist to whistle while I work. Enjoy my friends, register to VOTE, and stay well.


Monday, September 21, 2020

My Social Dilemma

This past week I watched the Netflix documentary, /the social dilemma_ that I recommend you watch. If you are a parent with children at home, I'll add that I highly recommend you watch this documentary.

Here's the trailer that explains the purpose of the film.



This documentary catches me at an interesting time because as a music blogger I completely depend on social media to write and promote this blog. Now a blog by definition expresses a perspective, opinion, or bias by a writer of any post that is published on the Internet. My blog is no exception, you basically come here to read and listen to my personal taste in music.

From the middle 1990's through 2010, I was an educational technology resource teacher in San Diego Unified School District. My colleagues and I had the overarching goal to integrate educational technologies into the K-12 curriculum for students and teachers. This integration was based in our practice that technology was an essential tool for both learning and teaching. In 2006, our personal and professional world changed with the development of cloud computing. Along with colleagues Mary Lange and Mary Vieira, we started teaching teachers how to use Google Docs, a free web-based sharing word processor. As teachers, we felt the possibilities were endless for teachers and students. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, but in the early 2000's I believed that free cloud-based applications would actually help the world connect together and digitally realize John Lennon's dream in his song, Imagine. I laugh at that thought today, and boy was that a stretch of my utopian view of technology back then. 

In 2006, several important free cloud-based apps received public access including, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. In 2007, I began using Blogger, and in 2015 I chose Blogger as my tool to write this blog simply for the fact that it was owned by Google and maybe from a search standpoint, clicks and hits could magically come my way.

By 2015 and leading to the presidential election in 2016, my thoughts on technology have completely swung from utopian to an imbalance toward a dystopian use of social media technology. The thought of 'technology as tools' has been overshadowed by social media companies competing for our attention through their social media apps. My colleagues and I used to champion 'content creation tools' for students to create and express themselves. In my opinion, these tools have now been run over by social 'content consumption apps' designed to keep you looking at your digital screen to generate advertising dollars for these companies, and taking the definition of consumer to a completely different level.

Skinner Box, Source - Simply Psychology
It's like Psychology 101 and B.F Skinner with his positive reinforcement experiments with rats in his 'Skinner Box.' In the 21st century, I'll say the new Skinner Box is the smartphone, where Notifications are the signal lights and speaker designed for you to push/touch the lever/screen to get your positive food pellet/information reward that keeps your attention on the money-ticking screen.

The trouble with today's food pellet of information is that it is often programmed through artificial intelligence (AI) to give one a steady diet of chocolate and candy, rather than a balanced diet of literate nourishment found in books, magazines, newspapers, TV, radio and the Internet.

Remember when MySpace was king around 2006 as the most visited website in the United States. I loved the name 'MySpace' because it told consumers here is what you are getting- a space in the cloud you can call your own.

Facebook overtook MySpace in 2008 with Twitter not far behind. Facebook and Twitter were terrible names but actually perfect, one could look at picture books of people for hours in a day, or twitter their day away reading or texting quick short-term memory messages. YouTube, purchased by Google again in the transformative year of 2006, covered the area of video and now we could watch searchable free videos as the new and improved 'boob tube.'

My Dilemma
Now if you can feel my angst in 2020, you know our political climate since 2015 and leading up to the election this November. The ongoing "hands off policy" by the social media giants to monitor fake news and hate speak sums up their total lack of responsibility and accountability. It is so evident that their social conscience has been trumped by their ever expanding profit margins. These companies run big businesses but yet demonstrate their inability to monitor their vast social networks  and are clearly way in over their heads.

Here, I'm going to focus on the two fat cats I use to promote this blog: Facebook which I and many now call, "Fakebook" and Twitter, which I'm sure I'm not the first, but a leading practitioner in now calling it, "Spitter." Both Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook and Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter have both lost control of their social media babies as they have grown into two-faced teenage werewolves.

As the reader you might be saying to yourself, "Well if Doug feels so strongly about these horrible social media apps, why doesn't he stand on his principles and DELETE his Facebook and Twitter accounts?" I'm the first one to say that I would agree with this assessment.

Now wait for it... here comes the BUT- Facebook and Twitter combine to bring in 95% of my readers to this blog. In the past couple of months, I've grown my audience by now averaging about 130 hits a week as 'The little music blog that could.' Without Facebook and Twitter to promote the weekly blog (often twice daily), I would probably get about 15-20 hits a week which is basically my family and friends.

So the dilemma, to write a blog for myself and handful of faithful readers, or try to promote it using Fakebook and Spitter to increase my readership slowly over time? Call me a hypocrite, but right now I'm going to continue to use my social media accounts to increase my readership.

Back in the day around the Ed Tech staff table, we used to talk about technology as the 'two-edged sword' for 'good uses' and 'bad behavior.' Remember the 'Arab Spring' in the early 2010s where citizens in several Arab countries rose in protest against their repressive regimes. In the news, social media has been heralded as the driving force behind the swift spread of revolution throughout the world, as new protests appear in response to success stories shared from those taking place in other countries. Wikipedia

Arab Spring was an example of how technology could help the human condition around the world and mobilize people against authoritarianism and ruling monarchies toward democracy. That shining example is now well sullied with the daily shit show in social media 'bubble politics' from a barrage of domestic and foreign citizens and organized groups.

YouTube
YouTube is the app I use to find and create my weekly playlists. YouTube is owned by Google and is no saint either as I'm sure you can easily find hate speech and other offensive things in seconds. For the time being, I'll give them a slightly better nod here as offensive stuff seems to quickly come down by Google itself, rather than pressure from the outside in, as Facebook and Twitter seem to defensively react before acting. Don't you just want to throw your flip flops at the TV when Zuckerberg appears before congress?

For the most part, I use YouTube exclusively for music because it is such a huge music machine. Their AI algorithms never sleep as I now call them, "SuggestTube." Why? Because when you search for a video the right linear part of your screen is literally AI SCREAMING, "Come on watch me too!"

In the past couple of years, YouTube's AI algorithms are getting so much better in getting to know my musical tastes and it's a little creepy how the Americana genre music suggestions keep coming up on my right as I watch a music video. In fact, my #NewMusicMonday playlists are increasingly getting easier to make as Google's suggestion engines are hard at work to feed me stuff I may like, while they feed themselves on the advertising dollars based on my next clicks.

So my point in all this? I just need to remind myself that my attention is being manipulated by social media on a daily basis and my addiction to it just needs to be constantly brought to my conscious brain's attention.

I'll end this with a YouTube event with my grandson this past weekend. I asked him a question about LEGO Star Wars spaceship models and he quickly got out an iPad and started to show me the many varieties of LEGO sets. He suddenly gets distracted by a video that pops up on his right linear screen and immediately clicks on it to watch it. I had to repeat my original question and steer him back to the Star War LEGO models video. This got me thinking, how many times have I done the same thing myself watching music videos? Squirrel!

Last night my daughter Katie told me she recently deleted her Facebook account as she just got tired of having to deal with all the BS that it brought to her. Maybe someday, I have that resolve to do the same.

Again, I recommend the Netflix documentary, /the social dilemma_ to help keep you on your toes, and as the film points out, technology companies and drug dealers are the only two that call their clients, "users."

 Okay, let's finish this with John Lennon's utopian vision of peace and unity through Imagine. 

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one



Oh, and how about some Gimme Some Truth.



(Note- Starting this week, I have now turned off the Comments section at the bottom of each post. Why? Because I'm tired of people often using broken English to misuse the comments section by praising the post while they embed a link to advertise their commercial web site, causing me to have to go back and manually delete the advertisement.)

Monday, September 14, 2020

50 Years of Music • After The Gold Rush

Inside jacket

Album cover
September 19, 1970 is the 50 year anniversary of After the Gold Rush by Neil Young and is often ranked as one of the best albums of all-time. In my recent blog - List Your FAV FIVE Albums, I ranked it #2.

1. The White Album, The Beatles
2. After the Gold Rush, Neil Young
3. Who's Next, The Who
4. Late For The Sky, Jackson Browne
5. Buffalo Springfield Again, Buffalo Springfield

Album back cover
In that FAV FIVE Albums blog, I didn't give a back story for any of my above selections and thought I'd share a couple of thoughts here about After the Gold Rush

In September, 2015 I wrote a blog, The songs playing in our heads this week where I said this, "Next up and in my head this past week, a couple of songs from Neil Young's 1970, After the Gold Rush. I absolutely wore this vinyl record out on my bedroom record player. It is a classic with Tell Me Why and Only Love Can Break Your Heart as two more favorites of mine since I was a sophomore in high school. I remember once writing my first girl friend a letter (whom I had broken up with as a freshman) and included the lyrics to Tell Me Why. She wrote back and said she didn't understand what the hell I was trying to say to her. Well, being a 15 year old kid, I probably didn't know what I was trying to say either. So who better for me to quote than the brilliant and often abstract Neil Young."

The part above where I say I wore the album out in my bedroom is actually the part that I was reflecting on this past week. I'm sure you have heard Brian Wilson's In My Room,

There's a world where I can go and tell my secrets to
In my room, in my room
In this world I lock out all my worries and my fears
In my room, in my room

Do my dreaming and my scheming
Lie awake and pray
Do my crying and my sighing
Laugh at yesterday

Now it's dark and I'm alone
But I won't be afraid
In my room, in my room
In my room, in my room
In my room, in my room

In My Room has always touched me deeply. I think as a young person when you're still living at home, your bedroom is your retreat, the place where you can sit still, think, and try to make sense of your world.



As a fifteen-sixteen year old, listening to After The Gold Rush was my go to 'in my room' album to listen to by myself. Most of the songs on After The Gold Rush would simply thrust me into a state of introspection that as I look back, was self-therapy.

Several weeks ago, I asked and got back many of my original vinyl albums from my youth from my ex-wife Pam, who happened to have them. She also gave me our old turntable that I connected to my current bedroom stereo system. Thank you Pam! It's kind of cool after all these years to have my old vinyl record collection back in my room.

Last Friday, I pulled out After the Gold Rush from the collection and listened to it while lying on my bed. It was very relaxing. My back-to-the-future therapy.

So my suggestion, make some time this week to listen to After The Gold Rush in a quiet space, by yourself.

Stay well my friends.


Monday, September 7, 2020

#NewMusicMonday • July-August • 2020

The Listener
Recently, I've had a couple of people ask me what my blog is about. The short answer is I write about rock 'n' roll. Since 2015, it's a passion where I developed a process over time that I compare to fishing. I cast my digital fishing pole into the river of musical streams.

To create a blog, I always start at the end. The end is the playlist, the second part of the blog. I spend the most time on any blog making the playlist because it's the heartbeat, the music itself that motivates me to organize a group of songs and then write about them.

The actual first part of the blog, the writing is always the hardest part. Sometimes like this week, I don't have much to say about the songs because it's new music that I don't have experiences to tie them to, other than I like the songs I've caught. Sometimes, I wonder how many people actually listen to an entire playlist that I've created? I'm guessing a handful. I like to think my playlists communicate a message- the songs selected and their linear order, an iteration with its own rhythm and if explored, probably reveals more about me than the writing of the blog.

I have two kinds of playlists. One, songs compiled from my youth in long-term memory, and two, songs compiled from recent times and often experienced as fun short-term memories.

The long-term playlists are often like fishing in a familiar fishing hole, you just cast your line with bait and wait, and then you catch that big song from long ago and just slowly reel it in.

The new songs have an exciting element of the unknown, you're fishing with a lure, casting out and quickly reeling it in with only your shiny lure staring back at you. But every now and then you catch a fresh new song, a keeper for a week, or one that actually becomes a long-term favorite.

In this metaphor, the bait or lure is my musical sense, my personal preferences to beat, rhythm, melody, vocals, lyrics, and the musical instruments used, and then categorized as an artist's musical sound, style, and/or genre.

In the past several weeks of putting this #NewMusic playlist together, I have been examining my musical taste in both my old and new likes, and my recent dislikes that stereotype most pop music today by assuming every young person must have an electronic pulse sound in the song in order for them to buy it.

Now, take my 'digital lure fishing' method to catching songs and it's something like 'speed dating' where couples sit for a minute, talk, the bell sounds, and then you move onto the next table. I cast my 30 second lure- listen to the intro, does it grab me, or skip to the second quarter, continue to listen or skip to the third quarter, continue to listen, or it's one and done with that song. This may sound cold, but my method gives a lot of artists and bands I have never heard of a fighting chance with my musical 'Crap-O-Meter.'

So, it's a lot like fishing, mostly misses but a few wonderful hits too. This week I discovered new favs for the first time- Josh Ritter, Kathleen Edwards and the band, Travis as well as new material from recent favorites as The Killers, Black Pumas, and The Lemon Twigs. Also, a couple of new old songs from The Rolling Stones, Green Day, and Prince.

My hope is that you're saying, "Cool thanks for sharing this new music." Or,
"Seriously Doug, you mean you have never heard of Travis until last week, and you call yourself a music blogger?"

Enjoy my friends and stay well out there.


Monday, August 31, 2020

50 Years of Music • August, 1970

This week's playlist is dominated by three albums.

The first is Eric Clapton's solo debut, Eric Clapton listened by me many times in 1970 and over the years thanks to pal Ron Zieman's initial purchase of the album.

This week's listen to that album reminded me of a blog I wrote last year as I've grown to appreciate Delaney & Bonnie and Friends (1967-1972) who contributed greatly to Eric Clapton.

In my July 1969, 50 Years of Music blog, I wrote- "The great musicians who passed through this band in the late 60's and early 70's is truly astonishing and a huge influence on why Eric Clapton quit Blind Faith to move towards Bonnie & Delaney's sound, not to mention co-opt much of their band when he formed Derek and the Dominoes in 1970." 

Bonnie and Delaney Bramlett, 1970
In my opinion, Bonnie and Delaney Bramlett simply have not been given the recognition they deserve for developing Clapton's sound in the early 70's. Delaney arranged and produced and Bonnie co-wrote many of the songs on Eric Clapton. You will also hear their influence that Leon Russell brought to Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen in this week's playlist, and bump that back to Russell's time spent as a band member in Delaney & Bonnie and Friends in 1969 as the genesis of Cocker's sound. It is that similar large band and vocals ensemble that Clapton would carry to Derek and the Dominoes and George Harrison leading to All Things Must Pass as Delaney Bramlett also introduced Harrison to slide guitar.

Eric Clapton was Eric's first solo album but was very much a collaborative project with the Bramlett's. As time marches on, I believe most people have never heard of Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, or simply, "Bonnie and Delaney" as we used to call them back in the day. Bonnie and Delaney got me thinking about 'influence' this past week and that most influential people are in fact forgotten, but their influence lives on in others work.

The second album is Spirit in the Dark by Aretha Franklin, an album I had never listened to until last week.

In fifty years, I can look back to my youth without musical judgement in the sense of my small town cultural exposure at fifteen versus my cumulative cultural experiences now into my sixty-fifth year. Stevie Wonder's August, 1970 Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours was a monster hit on pop AM radio that opened that R&B door a little wider for me, but there was not much 'Retha on my local radio dial back then to turn my head in her direction.
(Hey Nineteen that's 'Retha Franklin, she don't remember the Queen of Soul –Steely Dan)

What I can appreciate all these years later in Aretha's Spirit in the Dark is her complete mastery as a writer, singer and kick ass piano player. This was her seventeenth studio album and she also knew a thing or two about attracting a crowd of very talented people around her. The record includes three of the top producers in recording history with Tom Dowd, Arif Mardin and Jerry Wexler. The supporting band members include, Duane Allman and the famous Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.

The third album is Stage Fright by The Band and in this listen, I have a greater appreciation in how they used three different singers that could lead a song or provide backup vocals for each other. I've always loved Rick Danko's voice as I use the The Last Waltz video clip of the title song Stage Fright to feature the band. In my blog last week, The Band was on several reader's top five bands of all-time list.

For me, Stage Fright just keeps getting better as it stands the test of time as any of their albums. In fact as I was listening to this album this week it made me think about the many artists and bands in the mid-1970's through 80's that lost their rock 'n' roll way. Radio creatures like country pop or that stupid soft jazz tenor saxophone phase finally gave way in the 90's to older and newer bands reclaiming a more authentic 'Americana sound' like well, The Band.

Thanks to Paul and Duskin Hobbs
for this book recommendation
In 2020 everybody loves The Band and if you feel the same way, I highly recommend reading, This Wheel's on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of the Band. I'm only a quarter way in and I'm completely hooked with Levon Helm's folksy writing style and the stories he tells that are just so spellbinding. I keep saying to myself as I'm reading, "This book would be a fantastic movie!"

By the way, If you have never seen the 1980 movie, Coal Miner's Daughter it is a good one to catch. In fact, the first half of that movie where Levon Helm plays Loretta Lynn's father is outstanding! He is right there with Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones and if you read Levon's book above, you'll see from his childhood how he poured that right into his performance in that movie.

I hope you will also enjoy this eclectic mix from The Moody Blues, Canned Heat, The Beach Boys, The CarpentersLittle Richard, Roberta Flack, The Mothers of Invention, and Judy Collins.  This weeks 50 song playlist ends with a few select video clips from the now famous Isle of Wight Festival, in August of 1970.

The Isle of Wight Festival is a British music festival which takes place annually in Newport on the Isle of Wight, England. It was originally a counterculture event held from 1968 to 1970.

This event was held between 26 and 30 August 1970 at Afton Down. Attendance has been estimated by the Guinness Book of Records to have been 600,000 or even 700,000, due to an announcement by British Rail at that time concerning the amount of sold ferry tickets, although promoter Ray Foulk has said he believes it to have been only half of that. It was widely reported on, due to its line-up and extremely high attendance. Acts included Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, Chicago, The Doors, Lighthouse, The Who (whose set produced a live album), Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Moody Blues, Joan Baez, Free, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Kris Kristofferson, Donovan, John Sebastian, Terry Reid, Taste, and Shawn Phillips
Wikipedia


Monday, August 24, 2020

List Your FAV FIVE Rock 'n' Roll Bands

List Your FAV FIVE Series
Songs • Albums • Singer-songwriters Rock 'n' Roll Bands



Rock and roll (often written as rock & roll, rock 'n' roll, or rock 'n roll) is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s from musical styles such as gospel, jump blues, jazz, boogie woogie, rhythm and blues, and country music. While elements of what was to become rock and roll can be heard in blues records from the 1920s and in country records of the 1930s, the genre did not acquire its name until 1954. 

In the earliest rock and roll styles, either the piano or saxophone was typically the lead instrument, but these instruments were generally replaced or supplemented by guitar in the middle to late 1950s. The beat is essentially a dance rhythm with an accentuated backbeat, which is almost always provided by a snare drum. Classic rock and roll is usually played with one or two electric guitars (one lead, one rhythm), a double bass (string bass) or after the mid-1950s an electric bass guitar, and a drum kit. Wikipedia

A rock band or pop band is a small musical ensemble that performs rock musicpop music, or a related genre. Wikipedia

I start this installment with the question, "Would you consider Simon and Garfunkel a rock band?"

To answer that question for the purposes of this blog, I'm going to say, "Yes and no."

Yes, because the duo embodies the above definitions with their blending of folk and rock 'n' roll genres.

And no, in the sense of rock 'n' roll moving in the mid-1960's to a more electric 'rock' sound.

In the blog today, I want to emphasize bands using electric guitars, electric bass, drums, keyboards and technology connected to large amplified speakers as the primary instruments used across a group's repertoire. Sure Simon and Garfunkel recorded songs like A Hazy Shade of Winter, but the rock-oriented beat of that song is more the exception than the rule to their catalog of music. Or, in my clumsy way of saying they had 'less rock and more roll' and boy did their music roll. (Note- Simon and Garfunkel were voted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.)

John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers
Okay, what about individuals like Eric Clapton who was in so many terrific bands across his career, but also did a significant number of 'solo' rock albums. Here I'm going to say, "No" just pick one or more or these bands he was in.
I want this to be a focus on a two or more member rock-oriented ensemble. Okay, what about bands that have a front person identified by name but also have that critical collaborative ensemble that makes them a rock band? Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band quickly come to mind, because all the bandmates in those two bands became famous in their own right over time, so that's a big, "Yes."

My wife Mary Kit is going to bring up Elton John again, so is Elton John a band? I'm going to say, "Yes" because I'll have hell to pay if I said "No," but I'm going to say "yes" because Elton John wasn't ever in another famous band other than his own, and Elton had a life-long collaboration with his bandmates Nigel Olson, Davey Johnston and Dee Murray (RIP) who helped create the rocking Elton John sound. How 'bout Elton John and the Jets? Anyway, I'm not going to veto solo acts from anyone's list like Dylan, Bowie, or Prince, but first think of 'electric-ensemble bands' and their fascinating band names for your favorites list this week.

So hopefully this is all clear as mud and let the proceedings begins.

In this FAV FIVE it started like the previous episodes with a pen and paper brainstorm. This one flowed like a breeze compared to the others as I nailed the first four bands out of my head and into their final ranking order on paper. Now for number five? I said this is going to be easy as I thought of band name after band name feeling a little more doubtful as the list got longer and longer. Who to choose after The Who?

Doug's brainstorm list-

1. The Beatles
2. The Rolling Stones
3. The Who
4. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Now for that last pick.
  • The Beach Boys
  • Eagles
  • Fleetwood Mac
  • Cream
  • Traffic
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • Creedance Clearwater Revival
  • The Hollies
  • The Band
  • Elton John
  • David Bowie
  • Queen
  • Yes
  • Electric Light Orchestra
  • The Moody Blues
  • The Byrds
  • Buffalo Springfield
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
  • The Allman Brothers
  • The Flying Burrito Brothers
  • Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Emerson, Lake, and Palmer
  • Chicago
  • (5) Loggins and Messina
  • Dire Straits
  • The Bangles
  • REM
  • The Black Keys
  • Tedeschi Trucks Band
  • Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
  • The Jayhawks
  • Sheryl Crow
  • Gary Clark Jr.
I could have easily picked the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, The Byrds, CSNY or Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, but went with Loggins and Messina. Loggins and Messina was my first rock concert (Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo) in 1972 after their Sittin' In album had been released in November, 1971. They opened for The Youngbloods and blew The Youngbloods and gym audience away. (In fairness to The Youngbloods, they were actually breaking up at the time and no telling the behind the scenes circumstances.)

A couple of years later, I saw Loggins and Messina at the UCSB gym in Santa Barbara, and it is still one of the best concerts I have ever attended. I purchased all six of their studio albums from 1971-1976. Are their better bands in my list above, yes but Loggins and Messina has that special time in place element to take my #5 spot, not to mention a hell of an ensemble of supporting bandmates to see live.

Now it's your turn.

Use this direct link to the form if for some reason, it does not appear in you browser -

Looking forward to posting your list below here in the order that I receive them. Stay well my friends!

Mary Kit McIntosh's 
FAV FIVE  Rock 'n' Roll Bands
  1. Eagles
  2. Fleetwood Mac
  3. Creedence Clearwater Revival
  4. The Beatles
  5. Elton John

Paul Hobbs' 
FAV FIVE  Rock 'n' Roll Bands
  1. The Beatles
  2. The Rolling Stones
  3. The Band
  4. The Beach Boys
  5. The Who

Ron Zieman's
FAV FIVE  Rock 'n' Roll Bands
  1. The Beatles
  2. Cream
  3. The Rolling Stones
  4. The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  5. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Ron Ouellette's
FAV FIVE  Rock 'n' Roll Bands
  1. The Beatles
  2. Eagles
  3. Decemberists
  4. Steely Dan
  5. The Alternate Routes


Ken Forman's
FAV FIVE  Rock 'n' Roll Bands
  1. The Beatles
  2. The Rolling Stones
  3. The Who
  4. The Band
  5. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Bill DeVoe's
FAV FIVE  Rock 'n' Roll Bands
  1. The Doors
  2. The Band
  3. Dire Straits
  4. The Moody Blues
  5. Electric Light Orchestra 

Shawna McIntosh's
FAV FIVE  Rock 'n' Roll Bands
  1. Radiohead
  2. Arcade Fire
  3. Animal Collective
  4. The Beastie Boys
  5. Beach House

Monday, August 17, 2020

List Your FAV FIVE Singer-songwriters

List Your FAV FIVE Series
Songs • Albums Singer-songwriters Rock 'n' Roll Bands



"Singer-songwriter" is used to define popular music artists who write and perform their own material, which is often self-accompanied generally on acoustic guitar or piano. Such an artist performs the roles of composer [writes the songs music], lyricist, [writes the songs words] vocalist, sometimes instrumentalist, and often self-manager. According to AllMusic, singer-songwriters' lyrics are often personal but veiled by elaborate metaphors and vague imagery, and their creative concern is to place emphasis on the song rather than their performance of it. Wikipedia

Again, I enlisted my dear friend and singer-songwriter Paul Hobbs to help me navigate the guidelines for this week's challenge, list your five favorite singer-songwriters of all-time. Paul helped me clarify a couple key points to lay down the basics for filling out the Google Form below.
  1. You can only list one person on each line 1-5. By the definition above, the singer-songwriter composes the music, writes the lyrics and performs the song by singing and/or playing an instrument. My wife Mary Kit immediately threw a wrench in the works by saying she was going to write, "Elton John and Bernie Taupin" together on one line. I started to get into the weeds saying, "You know, Bernie first writes the lyrics separately and then Elton writes the music to craft a song around the lyrics, so by definition... Mary Kit cuts me off and says, "If you're going to make this too complicated, nobody is going to fill out your form." I get it. Elton John is 3/4th a singer-songwriter, and a hell of one at that so I tell her, "Just write Elton John on the bloody form."
  2. This list is based on a singer-songwriter's SOLO career. Okay, getting back on the lawnmower and heading to the weeds again- somebody like Tom Petty is a good example where the mower can get hung up. Tom is mainly known for his body of work with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and the Traveling Wilburys. If you look at Tom's discography, he has three solo albums. So, if you write Tom Petty in you list of five, you are selecting him based on his solo work NOT his band compositions. Same for Neil Young, John Lennon, Pete Townshend, etc.
As a teaser for next week, we're going to list our FAV FIVE Bands where all the fabulous writing combinations of Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards, Stills/Nash/Crosby, etc. are all contained within by simply naming your favorite bands, albeit the short list.

Okay, here's my ranked list of FAV FIVE Singer-songwriters. Boy this was tough as a couple of readers have said in the previous FAV FIVEs, it's something like Sophie's Choice. For me, what it came down to was how many albums/CD's did I own of that artist as a solo singer-songwriter.
  1. James Taylor
  2. Joni Mitchell
  3. Jackson Browne
  4. Paul Simon
  5. Neil Young
Note- Like last week you can see my random brainstorm list at the end of this blog.

Now it's your turn.


If for some reason, the Google Form does not appear in your web browser, click on this direct link here - https://forms.gle/JDRCVasREuAtDPadA

_________________

Mary Kit McIntosh's FAV FIVE  Singer-songwriters
  1. Don Henley
  2. Elton John
  3. Glenn Frey
  4. Prince 
  5. Stevie Nicks

Ron Zieman's FAV FIVE  Singer-songwriters
  1. Joni Mitchell
  2. Neil Young
  3. George Harrison
  4. Eric Clapton
  5. Don Henley


Ken Forman's FAV FIVE  
Singer-songwriters
  1. Bob Dylan
  2. James Taylor
  3. Neil Young
  4. Jackson Browne
  5. Pete Townshend

Paul Hobbs' FAV FIVE  
Singer-songwriters
  1. James Taylor
  2. Joni Mitchell
  3. Bob Dylan
  4. Jackson Browne
  5. Paul Simon
Ron Ouellette's FAV FIVE  
Singer-songwriters
  1. Cat Stevens
  2. Warren Zevon
  3. Al Stewart
  4. Vienna Teng
  5. Joanne Shaw Taylor
Chuck Stark's FAV FIVE  
Singer-songwriters
  1. Neil Young
  2. Bob Dylan
  3. James Taylor
  4. Paul McCartney
  5. Bruce Springsteen


Roger Demchak's FAV FIVE  
Singer-songwriters
  1. Paul McCartney
  2. John Lennon
  3. Neil Young
  4. James Taylor
  5. Bob Dylan

__________________
Doug's random brainstorm list of his favorite singer-songwriters as a solo artist.
  • Paul McCartney
  • John Lennon
  • Jackson Browne
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Shawn Colvin
  • Randy Newman
  • Neil Young
  • James Taylor
  • John Prine
  • Paul Simon
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Van Morrison
  • Don Henley
  • Bob Dylan
  • Mark Knopfler
  • Carol King
  • Laura Nyro
  • Cat Stevens
  • George Harrison
  • Billy Joel
  • J.D. Souther
  • Harry Nilsson
  • Elvis Costello
  • Tom Waits
  • Eric Clapton
  • Jesse Colin Young
  • Sting
  • David Bowie
  • Bonnie Raitt
  • Donovan
  • Peter Gabriel
  • and yes Mary Kit, Elton John