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 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

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 -


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  
  1. Bob Dylan
  2. James Taylor
  3. Neil Young
  4. Jackson Browne
  5. Pete Townshend

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

Roger Demchak's FAV FIVE  
  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

Monday, August 10, 2020

List Your FAV FIVE Albums

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

Last week's blog, LIST Your FAV FIVE Songs was a lot of fun! I'm so thankful to the people who participated and made Monday Monday Music a little more interactive. For the little music blog that could, I got a larger number of hits than most weeks, as I think that some readers passed along the blog to family and friends who may have cast a silent ballot at home.

The feedback I got from several people was that it was really hard to pick only five songs, and that's why I liked it so much! So if you either electronically responded or silently made your list on a napkin, I thought I'd continue the reader participation theme this week by stepping it up a notch. This week let's all put our heads together and list our five favorite albums of all-time.

As I write this on the weekend before the Monday post, I've started a brainstorm list (on recycled printer paper) of 33 albums and initially only knew one album that would will make the final five. My suggestion- just start looking through your vinyl album/CD collections, or music streaming service favorites. That should get you going.

After studying my list of 33, it came down to:
  • Which Beatle album(s) to pick;
  • Which singer-songwriter album(s) to pick;
  • and most importantly, what albums did I know every song and played them into my heart and soul.
Paul Hobbs texted me last week after participating in the FAV FIVE Songs blog and wrote, "It would be interesting to hear what made one choose a particular song. As music is a time machine, specific incidents and events can certainly play a role in creating a list such as this." I couldn't agree more; and so my third bullet point above and Paul's words lead me to this list of five albums that have stayed with me since "the era" of the 60's and 70's. 
  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
This week I will forgo why I chose these five albums as your list will also come to me without an explanation to the "time machine, specific incidents and events" that influenced your short list. 

What makes your list and my list interesting, is that we may or may not have some background information of 'why' one made a specific album selection, but the mystery and our speculation may be enough to make our music week a little more intriguing. So share this blog with friends and family as it may spark an interesting conversation. 

Note- For kicks, you might be interested in 'my weekend brainstorm' of 33 albums and I've included it here at the end of the blog. I made my list within a hour and then put my pen down and did that on purpose because knowing myself, it quickly would grow to fifty, then one-hundred and hey thats' a horse of a different color.

One last thing before I turn you loose to think and create your own list; I want to simply make the distinction between 'best' and 'favorite.' Citizen Kane is often ranked by critics as the best movie of all-time and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is similarly ranked as the best album of all-time. My list could have easily included Sgt. Pepper, but the emotional impact of The White Album for me comes from a place in the time machine that makes it an extra special favorite.

Now it's your turn.

If you do not see the Google Form in this blog from your browser, use this direct link -

I'll be looking forward to making and posting Your FAV FIVE Albums playlists this week, so come back to see everyone's playlists! (note- I will create the playlists in the order I receive them on my end.)

Doug McIntosh's FAV FIVE Albums

Mary Kit McIntosh's FAV FIVE Albums

Paul Hobbs' FAV FIVE Albums

Ron Ouellette's FAV FIVE Albums

Desperado, Eagles (on Spotify, as the complete studio album is not available on YouTube)

Desperado (pieced together with various studio and live song versions)

Shawna McIntosh's FAV FIVE Albums

Vicki Forman's FAV FIVE Albums

Ken Forman's FAV FIVE Albums

Ron Zieman's FAV FIVE Albums

Are You Experienced • Jimi Hendrix (This link is available on Spotify as there are only a few original studio tracks from the album available on YouTube)

Note - Ron suggested I get this album as I purchased Are Your Experienced and Buffalo Springfield Again at the same time in 1968 as these two albums were the first albums I actually bought with my own money (from my paper route). It's so fitting to find it here as one of Ron's FAV FIVE along with my Buffalo Springfield Again pick above.

Roger Demchak's FAV FIVE Albums

Jane Hobbs' FAV FIVE Albums

Hotel California • Eagles
(This link is available on Spotify as there are only a few original studio tracks from the album available on YouTube)

Doug's Brainstorm List of 33 FAVorite Albums
(Listed in the order they came into my head)
  1. Late For The Sky, Jackson Browne
  2. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles
  3. Who's Next, The Who
  4. The White Album, The Beatles
  5. Abbey Road, The Beatles
  6. Innervisions, Stevie Wonder
  7. Buffalo Springfield Again, Buffalo Springfield
  8. Desperado, Eagles
  9. Tumbleweed Connection, Elton John
  10. Madman Across the Water, Elton John
  11. John Prine, John Prine
  12. After The Gold Rush, Neil Young
  13. Deja Vu, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  14. Sail Away, Randy Newman
  15. A Hard Day's Night, The Beatles
  16. There Goes Rhymin' Simon, Paul Simon
  17. Tea For The Tillerman, Cat Stevens
  18. Court and Spark, Joni Mitchell
  19. Sweet Baby James, James Taylor
  20. Talking Book, Stevie Wonder
  21. Moondance, Van Morrison
  22. Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon and Garfunkel
  23. Tapestry, Carol King
  24. Blue, Joni Mitchell
  25. Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan
  26. Blood On The Tracks, Bob Dylan
  27. Revolver, The Beatles
  28. Cover Girl, Shawn Colvin
  29. Prisoner in Disguise, Linda Ronstadt
  30. Nilsson Schmilsson, Harry Nilsson
  31. Karla Bonoff, Karla Bonoff
  32. Damn The Torpedoes, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  33. If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, The Mama's and the Papa's

Monday, August 3, 2020

List Your FAV FIVE Songs

List Your FAV FIVE Series

In the past, you may have seen my favorite 100 Songs, Second 100, Third 100, and I'm currently working on a Fourth 100 song playlist. Now doing a list of 100 of your 'fav' songs I found to be a bit of a challenge. My friend Paul Hobbs, found it to be harder than he first realized, as he has just completed his TOP 100 (on Spotify) which I've linked here for you to check out. (By the way, this Hobbs fellow has extremely good taste in my opinion.)

In fact, if you spend the time to make a 'My 100 Songs' list on Spotify, I will link it in a future blog. But for now, let's do the warm up!

So I ran an idea by my wife Mary Kit the other day, and said, "What if I give my readers a ten song challenge to rank their favorite ten songs of all-time?" She didn't hesitate and said, "Make it five and you'll get more responses back." Well, I listened to that advice and when I made my own list, I found that doing a list of five songs is actually harder than a ten song list, which one's to leave out, oh not that one! Anyway, I liked the five song challenge and think you will too.

So here's how you can easily participate in LIST Your FAV FIVE Songs.
  1. Rank 1-5 your favorite songs of all-time.
  2. Name the song, and also identify the band or musician performing the song.
    (I would suggest- you write all the songs that come to mind down on paper. Then whittle it down and rank the top five.)
  3. Fill out the Google Form below, and submit. Please Submit only ONE TIME. The deadline for submittal will be Sunday, August 9th, 1pm.
  4. I will create a YouTube Playlist of your FAV FIVE Songs released from record labels that would typically have the song published on YouTube. By sending me your list, you will also agree that I will Title the playlist with your first and last name.
    (example-  Bill DeVoe's FAV FIVE Songs)
This week, I'll work on all the responses and embed all the playlists in this blog this week! In creating a playlist, I try to do two things: 1) Find a high quality audio YouTube video of a track or performance; 2) Find a video of the band performing. If I can't find a video of the band performing, I usually opt for the artist's original audio track on video from their album.

For this post, I tried to find one live or concept video for each playlist, but understand I couldn't always match my #1 requirement. I also usually hate concept videos, but you'll see several here. Speaking of concept videos, my wife's #1 song is The Boys of Summer by Don Henley. For some reason, Don keeps pulling down the original 1984 MTV video, too soon Don? Well I hope the video I found makes it to the Monday post before being pulled down. C'mon Don!

a disclaimer (of sorts) - By filling out the form, it goes directly to my Google Forms account. I will only share on this blog what you have agreed to share- Your first and last name, and the 5 songs you have listed on the Google Form. A friend jokingly asked me if this was going to William Barr's desk? I said no. I can also safely say that your submittal will not be part of Hillary's 30,000 emails. 

So, here's my- All-Time Favorite Five Songs
  1. Penny Lane, The Beatles
  2. Like a Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan
  3. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones
  4. Sweet Baby James, James Taylor
  5. Carry On, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Now it's your turn.

If for some reason, the Google Form is not showing in this blog, click on the LINK Here for the form.

I'll be looking forward to making and posting Your FAV FIVE Songs YouTube playlist soon! (I will create the playlists in the order I receive them on my end.)

You can see below that I already got a little help from my friends to get this party started so if they can do it, you can too. Thank you for reading my blogs!

Stay well and come back to this blog post to view your playlist, and as the number of fav five playlists will grow daily this week, I know you will be wanting to see everyone's list!

Doug McIntosh's FAV FIVE Songs

Mary Kit McIntosh's FAV FIVE Songs

Jeremy Ouellette's FAV FIVE Songs

Jeff McCarthy's FAV FIVE Songs

Chuck Stark's FAV FIVE Songs

Paul Hobbs' FAV FIVE Songs

Ron Zieman's FAV FIVE Songs

Shawna McIntosh's FAV FIVE Songs

Roger Demchak's FAV FIVE Songs

Bill DeVoe's FAV FIVE Songs

Ken Forman's FAV FIVE Songs

Ron Ouellette's FAV FIVE Songs

Jane Hobbs' FAV FIVE Songs