Monday, April 22, 2019

April, 1969 - 50 Years of Music

April, 1969 (Source: Wikipedia 1969 in Music)
7Nazz NazzNazz-
Songs from a RoomLeonard Cohen-
8Three Week HeroP.J. Proby-
9Nashville SkylineBob Dylan-
15Green Is BluesAl Green-
21Uncle MeatThe Mothers of InventionSoundtrack
23With a Little Help from My FriendsJoe Cocker-
25On the Threshold of a DreamThe Moody Blues-
26It's Our ThingThe Isley Brothers-
28The Chicago Transit AuthorityChicago-
30M.P.G.Marvin Gaye-
-Blue MatterSavoy Brown-
HairVarious ArtistsLondon cast
Our Mother the MountainTownes Van Zandt-
Ramblin' Gamblin' ManThe Bob Seger System-
My deep dive back to 1969 in music this year has been fun in the appreciation for all the songs I dismissed the first time around as a young and stupid 14 year old. Nashville Skyline is a perfect example. I liked Bob Dylan, but what was he doing changing his voice and making a Country album? Several years later, I did take notice when Lay Lady Lay came on the radio one day and my mom said, "I hate that song" and I said to myself, "Hey maybe Bobby's got something here."

In the 50 years since, I've expanded my thinking a bit as well as my taste for different genres of music. If this Monday finds you wanting a little retrospection, this music will take you there.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Taxman Then and Now

One of George Harrison's homes - Friar Park

Taxman is one of The Beatles most famous songs and is the title track from their 1966 album, Revolver. George Harrison wrote the song when he realized that over 90% of his income was being taxed by the British government. Now even us wee folk would agree that rate excessive and that different tax rates should be set to what a society would deem fair from the super rich to the very poor.

In all the Monday Monday posts, I've tried very hard to stay away from politics and focus mostly on the positive aspects of music. But with this post falling on America's tax due date of April 15th, it was just too tempting to not let this day in our time in history and great song pass us by.

As you probably know, our tax laws have recently changed during Trump's presidency to favor the super rich. I like many middle income Americans had my worst tax year in memory.

At this very moment, the topic of Mr. Trump's own taxes are one of the top national news stories. In fact this story will only get hotter in the days, months or even years ahead, and likely won't be solved until the Supreme Court makes a decision on the matter.

Ultimately and in my personal opinion, Americans are going to have to push to pass a Federal law that any Presidential candidate would have to reveal 10 years of their latest tax returns in order to receive the nomination of their political party to run for President of the United States.

Now back to the wee folk. So, George wrote Taxman about himself as a rich person, but the song was a big hit because of its monster beat, not to mention, it spoke to the common man being taxed by 'the man.' So in that spirit of today and being the common men and women of America, give a heart felt listen to Taxman. 

Also, watch the second video below, The Beatles - Taxman (Explained) The HollyHobs, it's very entertaining and explains my choice for the lead in photo of Friar Park.

Wishing you, a happy Return.

Monday, April 8, 2019

School Days and 'This Land Is Your Land'

Growing up in America in the 1960's every school child learned the Woody Guthrie song, This Land Is Your Land.

For me, it is my most enduring folk song because I have such fond memories of singing it in school with a room full of kids, countless times. 

I'm not going to get into Woody's politics, but the song was written in 1940 after Guthrie's was literally blown away in the great dustbowl of the 1930's and saw thousands of working people forced to migrate to California in the search of a better life. Woody spent a lot of his life as a 'rolling stone' and he saw our great country, and wrote about the land and it's people from his perspective.

This Land Is Your Land has three controversial verses that were edited out of the school songbook versions, as Woody's publisher adeptly kept the more global verses for the American school children to learn and become an American anthem.

Recently, I saw Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger's rendition from Barack Obama's 2009 inaugural where Pete would only do it if they sang all the verses. I also came across the NPR article, How 'This Land Is Your Land' Roamed And Rambled Into American Life. Last week I was reviewing My 100 Songs Playlist where I placed This Land Is Your Land as my first song.

I also love Gary Clark's Jr. new song, This Land . The track was inspired by "This Land Is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie, with Clark commenting in an interview with American Songwriter: "It’s one of the first songs we learn, and we sing it together ... It's like the Pledge of Allegiance ... And when you're kids, everybody's together. You don't see differences until you get older, and older people influence you to think about other people a certain way. I just want to get back to singing that song like we were kids again, you know?" (Wikipedia)

This information kind of all collided at the same time for me to want to continue to celebrate this wonderful song this week. No matter your political stance we as Americans can all call this song, "our song."

My granddaughter Elliot is visiting, and she came up to me last night while I was writing this and asked me what I was doing. She smiled when I told her and said, "We sing that song in school." We then sang it together.

This Land Is Your Land
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island; 
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters 
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway, 
I saw above me that endless skyway: 
I saw below me that golden valley: 
This land was made for you and me.

I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps 
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts; 
And all around me a voice was sounding: 
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling, 
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling, 
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting: 
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there 
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing." 
But on the other side it didn't say nothing, 
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people, 
By the relief office I seen my people; 
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking 
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me, 
As I go walking that freedom highway; 
Nobody living can ever make me turn back 
This land was made for you and me.

Monday, April 1, 2019

#InstrumentalMonday - As Far as I can See, Phil Cook

I found this gem this past week just released on 3/26/19 as it landed with me just wanting to hear some instrumental guitar. Hope this #InstrumentalMonday starts your week off with the positive vibe of Phil Cook.

Now I have never heard of Phil Cook so I looked him up on Wikepedia and discovered this wonderful sentence about him - Beyond his musical career, Cook works at the Center for Inquiry Based Learning at Duke University where he "assembles hands-on science kits for elementary schools."

As an educator, I spent a great deal of my career focused on Inquiry-based Learning and I just thought that was fantastic! Here's a great little review of  this album by Andy Kahn from JamBase as Phil comments on the tracks from  As Far as I can See.

"This is a collection of snapshots. Recording “D.L.’s Holler” in the upstairs hallway of an elementary school, outside my wife’s classroom while she graded papers in a thunderstorm. Listen for the thunder roll in one of the breaks. Recording “Waiting Round The Oven Buns” in my house in January while my wife Heather, pregnant with our first child, napped in the front room. Driving hours in the wrong direction during a blizzard into Tennessee on Highway 40, making us four hours late for the recording session I had booked for his Side Up. Loading in wet and snowy and then loading out four hours later with my friends Nick and Yan, finished, victorious and laughing. Recording “Saratoga” with one son next to me flipping through Calvin and Hobbes and my other son napping just a room away. Sitting on an old front porch in Birmingham, Alabama one hot spring morning with James’ beat-up classical guitar and recording a quick voice memo as we were packing up to leave. Sharing a joint with my brother Brad on the way to The Cave in Chapel Hill and feeling grateful for the spontaneous virtuosity of the Canine Boys and Libby Rodenbough. These moments, stacked up in a pile, feel like the kind of riches nobody can ever take away from me. The truest currency. I hope you, dear listener, also share this currency and feel this gratitude when you think of the journey of moments that has formed you."

Monday, March 25, 2019

50 Years of Music, March 1969

In March, 1969 I turned a restless and inexperienced 14 years old. I lived in a small town looking at the peace and love counter-culture from the outside, wanting in.

The March entry for Wikipedia's 1969 in Music is a great panoramic snapshot of what would make popular AM radio to the new hip bands from America and England finding their way to the FM side.

From that counter-culture side, you have bands recording nine minute jams and I'm just dreaming myself into the live Fillmore West scene in San Francisco.

On the pop side, I was a big fan of Dusty Springfield, and her Dusty in Memphis is such a knock out classic that I've featured it here in the playlist as my personal favorite of this grouping of albums.

As always, I've tried to put together a little eclectic mix and hope you enjoy the ride of March '69.

Monday, March 18, 2019

New Releases @ the River of Streams, January - March, 2019

For the past several weeks I have been listening to a lot of new music, some put out by people with name recognition, but more so by folks who play Folk that I have never heard of before.

I use Amazon Music to do my digital fishing as I search the 'New Releases,' listen and determine- 'catch and release' or 'catch and keep' by the river of streams.

This week's playlist has 50 songs caught and kept from probably a steaming base of over 100 albums or so. Amazon does a nice job of breaking the New Releases into genres to get you to some smaller fishing spots.

I suggest you shift through my 50 songs here and if you are a fan of Americana music, you're going to find some new keepers to put in your own digital fish basket.

Note 1- The March, 1966 Field and Stream cover kind of looks like my dad. He loved his fishing!

Note 2- I was going to go back to Sunday School and somehow metaphorically weave Jesus and the fish and the loaves of bread, but thought I'd spare you that. Enjoy and share with others my friends!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Yola, Walk Through Fire

Yola Carter is a 35 year old British singer-songwriter who's just around the corner from being the next Americana sensation. Thanks to her performance at AmericanaFest 2016 that eventually led to her getting her hooked up with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys and solo act sensation himself (check out his 2017 Waiting on a Song album). Auerbach has produced Yola's new album, Walk Through Fire, just released in February.

For this week's blog, I was working on featuring new music releases from January - March of this year, and had to put that on the digital shelf once I started listening to Walk Through Fire. Like so many people who hear her sing for the first time, I was simply knocked out. Auerbach was no exception, who instantly wanted to collaborate with her at his Easy Eye Sound studio and label in Nashville.

The result is a stunning album. Auerbach's influence as Producer who brought in a wealth of Nashville talent to support this project brings a very Waiting on a Song vibe without diminishing Yola's towering voice range across the album.

It is so rare for me to like every song on an album these days that it takes me back to my first listen to Carol King's Tapestry album in 1971. I'm not comparing the two, but Walk Through Fire is so well crafted as it goes to the deep well of American music and pre-digital recording.

Some would call this album 'Country Soul' but let's just embrace the entire palette of American music that has influenced this young woman as an example of why the Americana genre is thriving today, despite no mainstream radio time.

Check out these two articles to get Yola Carter's backstory (no Wikipedia page, yet) - St. George's Bristol and npr music 2016 and then, these two articles that review the album - npr music and the Tennessean.

For the playlist this week, I have included all 12 songs from Walk Through Fire, and several songs from her 2016 EP, Orphan Offering, and then some tracks recorded at live shows or radio streaming events. Maybe this is your first listen of Yola Carter, it won't be you last! Enjoy my friends.

Monday, March 4, 2019

50 Years of Music - February, 1969

It's February, 1969 and Cream is saying Goodbye in their last contractual record obligation with Polydor. As stated several times in my blogs over the years, the gem from that album is Badge written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison and included in the playlist this week.

Doing these blogs is always a blast to go back in time and listen to people like Mary Hopkin and hear her album Postcard, produced by Paul McCartney that includes several Donovan songs. It was also great to discover, Chicken Shack a British Blues band and Christine Perfect McVie's first band.

However, the pick of this grouping is an album that was not commercially successful at the time but later became a classic, The Gilded Palace of Sin by the Flying Burrito Brothers. I'm in the camp of people who see Gram Parsons as the "Godfather of Americana music" as a genre. Along with his other ex-Byrds bandmate Chris Hillman, they formed the perfect blending of country and rock that makes this album influential and legendary today.

From the driving Rock and Blues sounds of Cream, Ten Years After, Jefferson Airplane, MC5 and Vanilla Fudge, the soul of The Temptations and The Delfonics, to Michael Nesmith's country sound in The Monkees and the groundbreaking Flying Burrito Brothers debut album, there's still the sweet harmonies of The Beach Boys in early 1969. As Mary Hopkin sang,

Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way

Monday, February 25, 2019

Kacey Musgraves, 2/19/19 at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle

So what if Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson had a baby girl? Maybe she would be somebody like Kacey Musgraves, a singer-songwriter with model looks and clothes to match. This goes along with a strong sense of tolerance and minding one's own business, not to mention that she loves to smoke pot.

So ho​e your own row, yeah, and raise your own babies
Smoke your own smoke and grow your own daisies
Mend your own fences and own your own crazy
Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy
Yeah mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy
From the song, Biscuits

Kacey speaks to people with an inner voice that they can identify with; someone willing to break with tradition while holding many values of tradition at the same time. Some may see her music as "schmaltzy" but I think she's got a Dolly and Willie-like intelligence to deal with the Nashville establishment on her terms. She may call herself, "Spacey Kacey" but there's a lot going on inside her head with the dichotomy of what you perceive is not what you are going to get. 

There's certain things you're s'posed to know
When you're a girl who grows up in the south
I try to use my common sense
But my foot always ends up in my mouth
And if I had to walk a runway in high heels in front of the whole town
I'd fall down
And my mama cried
When she realized

I ain't pageant material
I'm always higher than my hair
And it ain't that I don't care about world peace
But I don't see how I can fix it in a swimsuit on a stage
I ain't exactly Ms. Congenial
Sometimes I talk before I think, I try to fake it but I can't
I'd rather lose for what I am than win for what I ain't
From the song, Pageant Material

Then there's Kacey creating a synth "Space Country" sound in her 2018 album, Golden Hour. A departure from her previous two albums, Same Trailer Different Park, and Pageant Material. Here you have a woman whose head over heels in love with her new husband, Ruston Kelly and she's writing about it with a world view of wonderfulness. When I first heard it last year, I said to myself, "Oh, this is going mainstream and could be big, yes very big!"

Two weeks ago, on February 10th, Golden Hour won Kacey four Grammy's including Best Country Album, and the granddaddy music industry prize, Album of the Year.

Oh, what a world, 
I don't wanna leave
There's all kinds of magic, 
it's hard to believe

Northern lights in our skies
Plants that grow and open your mind
Things that swim with a neon glow
How we all got here, nobody knows
from the song, Oh What a World

Last week I got to see Kacey Musgraves in Seattle in what turned out to be the hottest ticket in town as she came into the Paramount with that fresh Grammy win to a wildly excited sold out crowd. The audience was quickly on its feet for the whole show with all the ladies enthusiastically singing along, knowing every word of every song.

A man in the center front row, got down on his knee and proposed to his girlfriend during Oh What a Wonderful World, Kacie looked down paused at that moment and said, "He's proposing!"

At another point in the concert, Kacey put the microphone down to her side and let the audience sing two verses of one her songs as that must be such a rush to be in Freddy Mercury territory! I see arena bookings in some cities just around the corner.

All that I know
Is you caught me at the right time
Keep me in your glow
'Cause I'm having such a good time
With you
from the song, Golden Hour

I hope you enjoy the wit and charm of Kacey Musgraves from my Playlist this week from her four studio albums. I believe she is one of the key people currently saving Country Music from itself.

Monday, February 18, 2019

For Real, Tom Petty

For Real - The previously unreleased track, taken from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers career retrospective ‘The Best of Everything’. Pre-Order Now for the March 1st release.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Linda Ronstadt Live in Hollywood

Linda Ronstadt is a legend. I don't really know anybody older or younger who doesn't like Linda Ronstadt. Like many males of my generation, we not only loved her beautiful voice but carried a huge crush to match.

In 1980, she was at the top of her game, a bona fide rock 'n' roll star with a succession of platinum selling albums. In April of that year, she performed a live concert at Television Center Studios in Hollywood for an upcoming HBO Special.

Through a friend, I was able to get a bootleg cassette tape of the entire concert and played that thing to death in my new 1980 blue Toyota truck cassette player.

The concert has now just been released, Feb. 1st as a live album (view sources here) and I have delighted in revisiting these tracks with Linda and her wonderful band including, Wendy Waldman, Kenny Edwards, Danny Kortchmar, Dan Dugmore, Billy Payne, Bob Glob, and Russ Kunkel. If you ever read album jacket covers in the 70's and 80's, these guys were on everybody's records.

Nobody could belt it out like Linda, and it's extremely emotional for me to see one of my teenage idols stopped in 2009 from singing and doing the thing she loved the most due to her Parkinson's diagnosis. Now at 72, you can catch up with her in her recent February 7th interview in Rolling Stone and on the TV show, Sunday Morning  from February 3rd.

Here is my playlist starting with the Sunday Morning interview with Linda. Then, a mix of good and poorer quality video of the concert along with the better audio tracks from the album, as sometimes the 80's tape hiss is a bit much, but I love to watch Linda perform! Enjoy my friends.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Gary Clark Jr. - This Land (preview)

Here's a little sneak preview with a couple of songs from Gary Clark Jr.'s new album to be released on February 22nd, This Land. Gary just gets bigger and bigger with every album and I can't wait for the full release. I'll add songs to the playlist once they become available. Enjoy my friends!

Monday, January 28, 2019

50 Years of Music - January, 1969

In 2019, I will write a monthly feature of music released 50 years ago from that month in 1969.

I'm going to use 1969 in music from Wikipedia as my primary source as you can see by the January list here. If I (or Wikipedia) miss a big album, please feel free to write a comment, and I'm sure I will correct that in a re-edit from that blog.

I also plan to feature an entire album deemed 'great' (by me of course) from a month in 1969. Abbey Road and Crosby, Stills & Nash are just two albums that come to mind.

In January, 1969 I was in Mr. Richard Ziegler's 8th grade homeroom class. During that year, I became President of the Antique Bottle Club and certified nerd. Mr. Ziegler formed the club after his passion for finding and collecting old bottles in the creeks and old dump sites around the central coast of California. I did the same for a couple years and to this day still have boxes of antique bottles that I've carted to every apartment or house that I have ever lived in.

Looking back, I remember one Jr. High dance where a local cover band of high school students performed the song, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida while I watched from the sidelines as kids tried to dance to it. As a side note- the album also titled, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida released in 1968 was the biggest selling album of 1969.

If you follow Monday Monday Music, the real content is listening to the weekly YouTube playlists that I put together. And I thought it was my fantastic writing. No dummy, you just began the last sentence with, "And."

Ok, so one of the keys of life is making the time to do the things YOU want to do. If you've followed me this far, listening to music is one of those magical things of life.

So strike a match, light the incense and get back to a little 1969 in music.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Tommy Emmanuel, Accomplice One

One of the goals this year with my blog is to present whole albums from the past and present.

Great albums much like great novels are a musical narrative that must be experienced  whole.

Songs brought together in an album often write their own little chapters that bring together an emotional and cerebral experience. Collective songs on an album have the power to alter your state of mind, rise you up, take you on a journey, or just make you smile and shake your head to the rhythm.

Tommy Emmanuel is one such musician who is revered by many around the world. You can look at his discography and realize that he has made an album almost every 2-3 years since 1979. When you accomplish something like that, you realize he is making these albums for his joy, and the joy that it will bring others.

"One of six children, Emmanuel was born in Muswellbrook, New South Wales, Australia, in 1955. He received his first guitar in 1959 at age four and was taught by his mother to accompany her playing lap steel guitar. At the age of six in 1961, he heard Chet Atkins playing on the radio. He vividly remembers that moment and said it greatly inspired him." Wikipedia

Growing up, Tommy's family formed a band, sold their house and went on the road to perform when he was seven years old. Over the years he played in numerous bands traveling the world. His fame developed over the years as a highly coveted 'session player' recording on many musicians albums, not to mention his fun and relaxed personality made him friends and fans everywhere he went.

Tommy's gift as an acoustic guitar player begins with his hero, Chet Atkin's and following Chet's Travis picking style. Tommy as an Australian, is pure Americana in that his passion is to mix- jazz, blues, bluegrass, country, folk, rock and world beat rhythms into a musical deep dive accompanied by his famous finger picking. Tommy often beats his guitar with his right hand while laying down a percussion line with his left thumb on the top bass strings, while the remaining left fingers blend in a melody. When you watch this you realize his right fingers are literally dancing on the strings and he becomes, a one man band. Tommy does around 300 concerts a year all over the world. His heart and soul is the definition of troubadour.

If Tommy is anything, he is a collaborator.  He loves to play with other musicians and boy do they love to play with him. In late 2018, I discovered Accomplice One (you can buy it here on Amazon), released in January, 2018. So I'm about a year late to the Tommy E. party, that on this album includes- Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires, Ricky Skaggs, Jorma Kaukonen, David Grisman, Mark Knopfler, Jake Shimabukuro, and Rodney Crowell to name just 'the names.'

This album is a real collective treat that tells a story based on your imagination.  All the songs from Accomplice One are on the playlist this week, and please make time to watch Tommy's TED Talk at the end. Tommy's a classical gas!

As a footnote- I see Tommy has just released a new album called Heart Songs with John Knowles on January, 11th. And, in the story of my concert life have just discovered he played in San Diego at the Balboa Theatre on January 12th. I can't believe I missed this opportunity, my verbal language is quite colorful at the moment!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Val McCallum, at the end of the day

One of my new finds on Netflix is Off Camera (Sam Jones Pictures). In the 2014 Series 1: Episode 4 (Netflix Link) is Sam's interview with Val McCallum.  I had never heard of Val before, even though he probably was introduced by Jackson Browne at his Balboa Theatre concert in San Diego a couple years back. Val is Jackson's long-time lead guitar player on tour.

Val McCallum is the son of famous parents David McCallum and Jill Ireland. Val was born in 1963 and his father David starred in one of my all-time favorite TV shows from 1964-1968, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. as secret agent, llya Kuryakin.

I hesitated to write the above paragraph, as I'm sure Val lives the constant reminder of his famous parents before discussing his music, but for me being a baby boomer, I think he can appreciate the connection.

However, it is Val's closeness to his mother Jill in the Off Camera interview and her long journey with breast cancer that sucked me into the world of Val McCallum. I enjoyed his stories of youth, going to school with the Jackson Five, and into the life of becoming a musician and a session with Harry Nilsson as his first professional gig.

Sam Jones dives his into his 2012 solo album, at the end of the day which I immediately streamed off Amazon and then began the YouTube playlist for this week. In following last weeks blog about Scott Hirsch and his new album, Lost Time Behind the Moon; both albums are perfect January listening to albums as I'm writing this on a rainy cold Saturday with the fireplace gas logs burning.

If you're into the Americana genre, at the end of the day is a must listen with Val's well crafted songwriting combined with his sparkling acoustic and electric guitar.

And speaking of Americana, Val is also in what you might call a comic country band called Jackshit. Not only is Val having a blast just having a fun band, he's teamed with Elvis Costello's rhythm section, Pete Thomas on drums and Davey Faragher on bass. This is an extremely talented band in the same tongue-in-cheek vein as Dan Hick and His Hot Licks was, but completely different.

So my friends just sit back on this winter's day and enjoy the music of Val McCallum.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Scott Hirsch, Lost Time Behind the Moon

In my last blog, My Favorite Songs of 2018, I included several songs from Lost Time Behind the Moon by Scott Hirsch.

Here's a nice review from Pitchfolk by Stephen M. Deusner that will get you up to speed about Scott. I myself wasn't aware of his music until I stumbled upon Lost Time Behind the Moon on Amazon Music's New Releases section.
After reviewing and rejecting many songs for my 2018 list from famous artists who didn't make my cut, Scott Hirsch was a great fresh find!

After this past hectic holiday season, you might find yourself just needing to let your mind drift a bit. This album is just the ticket to putting you on the 'lost highway' of thought.

In this weeks playlist on YouTube I have included all the songs from Lost Time Behind the Moon and Hirsch's 2016, album, Blue Rider Songs.

I have to mention that Scott Hirsch lives in Ojai, California which always brings me back home to my days growing up (and trips back up to) the central coast. I'm going to venture that this region and state are the inspiration for many of his songs. Most people think of California as just a bunch of freeways when it in fact it has so many back roads and open space to explore.

I also see that Scott is a frequent performer at the Ojai Underground Exchange (and just this past Saturday), as I have included a couple of live video songs from there as well.

Also, just updated (1/12/19) - Living Liner Notes for Lost Time Behind the Moon.

Monday, December 24, 2018

My Favorite Songs of 2018

In 2018, I've made the time to listen to a lot of new albums. For me, listening to new records for the first time is like mining. In any type of mining, you spend most of your time digging and shifting. In the digs for new music, I'm trying to hear the golden songs that first hook my attention, and then work on my head and heart. 

As AM/FM radio is a wasteland in San Diego except for NPR (including NPR Music), and Jazz 88.3, Amazon Music and YouTube are now my go to digging. I'll also mention the podcasts- WTF with Marc Maron and the Americana Music Show as great resources for expanding my search for fresh songs and learning about the musicians behind the music . 

Music is such a personal thing for all of us. My wife and I love each other but our tastes in music would never have been the magical online dating algorithm to make us a match. I just love it when she gently yells up the stairs to me, "Would you please put your headphones on!"

As this blog took about 15 minutes to write, the playlist (now at 100 songs) has been going on for several months now. I publish it with the hopes that you will find at least a few golden nuggets of song that maybe you have never heard before.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Christmas Mix 2018

Well it's my fourth year doing a YouTube Merry Christmas mix without any single artist repeats from previous years with the one exception of John Williams, Carol of the Bells. After this fourth one, I had to reach a little deeper this year for NOT giving you the typical Christmas shopping mall loop tape.

Feel free to visit my past mixes above and have a wonderful Christmas. Now don't forget to play this mix with your family and friends while sipping on the eggnog, or my favorite, Kahlua N Cream (no vodka). Happy days my friends!

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Beatles: 50th Anniversary White Album - Esher Demos/Instrumental Backing Tracks Mix

On November 9, 2018 The Beatles released their 50th Anniversary edition(s) of the 1968 White Album. For many (including me), it's the best rock 'n' roll double album ever made and recorded in arguably the best year in rock 'n' roll history. It was released to the world on November 22, 1968, which happened to coincide with the 5th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination. 

The six, yes 6 CD Super Deluxe Set includes 107 tracks or 5 hours and 26 minutes remastered by George Martin's son Giles Martin. Giles to many Beatles fans, is 'the keeper of the flame.' I end this week's playlist with Giles being interviewed about the White Album. 

Here is the Super Deluxe version for purchase on Amazon.

Here is the streaming version on Amazon Music.

One of my most favorite Christmas shopping memories was driving down to the La Cumbre Plaza shopping center in Santa Barbara to Christmas shop with my next door neighbor Ron Zieman and his family. Ron was on a mission from God to get The Beatles White Album for Christmas, as it was not yet available in our small town of Santa Maria, CA. I was along for the ride, but I remember Ron's expression as I believe he found it in a department store and held it up like the Willy Wonka 'golden ticket.' When we got back home, it was never Christmas wrapped, but rather unwrapped quickly from it's shrink wrap and we were listening to it in Ron's bedroom on his portable record player that night. 

Fifty years later, I realize the magnitude of 1968 on the world, but I had no idea how the music of that time would shape my life in such a profound manner. It in fact helped me look at the world from a bigger prism than my small town projected. The music and particularly The White Album came to me in my 13th year and today, frames a place in time when I was just starting to grow up. 

Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated on April 4th, and Bobby Kennedy on June 6th, 1968. On the night of June 6th, the California Primary, my dad and I stayed up to watch the race and results and I remember it as a bonding moment as we talked with my questions and his explanations about how this game was played.  I went to bed with Bobby winning and then was awakened by my dad with the news. I'll never forget the look on his face as he told me. This was a beginner's punch in the gut lesson of politics, swirling and evolving in my head.

Then in the fall, the White Album is released and it's simply a masterpiece of music. No concept album here, an eclectic mix of styles all blended to expand a young person's perceptions of music, and thinking. For example, as a 13 year old, John's line in Revolution"But if you go carrying pictures of chairman MaoYou ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow" was synthesized by me to- think for yourself, not to blindly follow a leader or the crowd.

The 50th Anniversary mix gives us all more Beatles to listen to. It includes the 27 rehearsal 'Esher Demos' made in one magical day at George Harrison's house shortly after the group had returned from their trip to India together. These demos were taped on George's reel to reel tape recorder in late May of 1968 and before the band entered Abbey Road Studios to cut the album. 

For a deeper look, read Rob Sheffield's article in Rolling Stone - The Beatles’ Esher Demos: The Lost Basement Tapes That Became the White Album

Last week, I was so excited to find the Super Deluxe (all 107) tracks posted on YouTube that I had to write this blog and include it here. 

For the Playlist this week, I've mostly assembled the Esher demos coupled with the instrumental tracks, out takes and remix tracks from the 50th Super Deluxe Set to make my own little White Album. These tracks capture the acoustic and harmonizing Beatles- all of whom seem to be having a wonderful time together. There has been a lot said about the internal discord of the making of this album that would eventually lead to the breakup of the band. But I agree with Giles Martin, if you listen to his interview, he says he can't hear the discord but rather the genuine Beatle banter and laughter on all the audio he poured through to do this 2018 remix.

So what's your favorite songs on the White Album, old or new mix? Let me know in the comments section below if you like.

This go around, my favorite is the lads singing backup vocals to Ringo's lead on Goodnight (Take 10 With A Guitar Part From Take 5).  

Take it from the 1968 thirteen-year old and the current sixty-three year old as it is agreed,
The White Album is a marvel to listen to at any age.

Monday, November 19, 2018

My Thanksgiving (Playlist)

South County Turkey Trot 2014 (Pismo Beach, California)

I hope this holiday Thanksgiving week provides you with a little time to spend with family and friends. Mary Kit and I are off to Santa Maria this week to do both while visiting my childhood home with my mom. 

On Thanksgiving morning, my sisters and I will be bringing back our "Team Tortoise" group to do the annual 10K Turkey Trot in Pismo Beach to benefit the San Luis Obispo Food Bank. Here is an updated link to the Santa Maria Times Article of the event.

I have a lot to be thankful for and want to wish all my family and friends the best as we are all blessed to live together in this great country. A couple of songs came up this past week on my Amazon Music stream while jogging that are the inspiration for this play list. Don Henley songs seem to always have a timeless relevance (to me) and when I heard his My Thanksgiving on the trail, well it just captured my feeling in these current times and leads this eclectic selection of 31 "thankful" videos.

Enjoy my friends, Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Jesse Colin Young • Live at the Belly Up • 10/28/18

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Jesse Colin Young with my old buddy Mark Hunter at the Belly Up in Solana Beach, CA.  Mark and I go way back to our college days together as we became fast friends in our first year at San Diego State in the Toltec Dorm in 1975. We used to meet in the Toltec commons area where they had a big console TV and we watched several of the first episodes of Saturday Night Live during that year.

For high school graduation, I had received a rather large stereo system as a gift from my parents, and managed to cram that into my little dorm room with my roommate Kevin Kuhlmeyer. Anyway, my room became a kind of hangout for listening to music and my girlfriend, Mary Kit would bring her Zapotec girl dorm friends over, so it was kind of a happening place for a nerd like me.

We listened to all kinds of music as some would bring over cheap beer and their albums.  Mark would drop in with either his Martin guitar, or have some really cool records in hand to listen to, like Jesse Colin Young.

Now I had seen The Youngbloods (Loggins and Messina opened) at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1972, but really didn't know much about Jesse Colin Young who like Mark had lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mark provided this introduction so to speak.

After that first year, Mark and I broke from the dorms and got a two bedroom apartment together about a mile from campus. We listened to a lot of music that year, because we were both broke and I remember us heating tortillas up on the stove and eating peanut butter burritos many a night.

It was during that school year of 1976-77 that I got my stereo system stolen after we had left the windows open during a heat wave.

No worries, I downgraded where I found an ad on campus and got a simple record player. Both Mark and I took that cheap stereo with us to another apartment on a street actually named Jessie St. I'll never forget that time thanks to Mark, listening to Jesse Colin Young's hot streak of albums through the 70's including, Song for Juli, Lightshine, Songbird, On the Road, and Love on the Wing.

So, it was incredibly fitting that Mark and I would get together all these years later and spend an evening together listening to Jesse Colin Young with his wonderful band of young people. I say that because it seems Jesse went shopping one day at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and literally recruited all these talented, young musicians to be in his band. Actually, Jesse saw all these musicians as students performing at their graduation ceremony with Jesse's son Tristan Young, also a graduating student at Berklee, and now bass player in the band.

Mark commented how brilliant it was for Jesse to assemble this group and take them out on the road and into the studio together. As good as Jesse is to his band, they are equally good to a 76 year old legend who has suffered greatly over the years as he was not correctly diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Jesse said last night that ten years ago he thought he'd never be able to perform again and now that he is being treated for his disease, has been given another chance to be the troubadour he has always been. Now, he gets to do his thing surrounded by a fresh group of young people that give a real pop to the Jesse Colin Young jazzed infused sound of folk rock of the middle 1970's.

Here is my shot of the group from my cool loft seat at the Belly Up last night.

It was truly an evening to remember. Jesse has all these great songs he has written over the years as a folk singer in Greenwich Village, leader of the Youngbloods, and then his successful solo career. I had forgotten how many great love songs he has written that still touch me today. In this week's playlist, I got a chance to catch up on some "newer" songs that I had never heard before and look forward to his new album coming out in early 2019.

So Mark, this one's for you, thanks for all the good times- past, present and future!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Graham Nash - Humphreys San Diego 10/13/18

A music wish list of mine from the past was to see Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young together, and now, all of them separately. I did see CSN a couple of times over the years, but never as CSNY. In the past two years, I have seen David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Neil Young as separate solo acts (with Stephen Stills with The Rides).

Last Saturday night, I got to complete the four way treat by seeing Graham Nash at Humphreys by the Bay in San Diego. Now when you think of Graham Nash, your first thought is not as a solo act, not that he can't pull that off and did brilliantly on Saturday.  It's just that you think of Graham as a team player in a band. His beautiful voice was first made famous with The Hollies and his pairing with Allan Clarke. He then went on to make music with David Crosby and Stephen Stills, then later adding Neil Young to make CSNY. I also have to mention his 1971 solo album, Songs for Beginners, as one of my favorite records of all-time

Over the years, the pairing of David Crosby and Graham Nash has transcended CSNY as those two voices blended together to make a perfect sound of harmony. As a fan today, it is heartbreaking that David and Graham are still not talking to each after several years.

It's no secret that David Crosby is an asshole as he himself told the audience at his SD Balboa Theatre concert in 2016. I listened as he told a story about his behavior being the reason he got kicked out of The Byrds in 1967.

Over the years, I have always admired Graham because he was the definition of a good friend, especially to David Crosby. Crosby's huge ego coupled with his legendary drug problems, prison sentence and liver transplant have been well documented over the years, with Graham always there to support his friend. Let's hope these two can square up before one of them dies. Too many friends have made that mistake over our time on this earth. I'm actually hoping David is the first to reach out and pick up the phone and call his old buddy. Life typically only gives you one handful of people that you can count as true friends, and those gifts are not meant to be broken.

In the meantime, Graham Nash is having a grand time singing solo in smaller venues. But wait a minute, once you go see Graham as a solo act, you quickly learn of a new partner, one Shane Fontayne. Shane is a great guitar player and good backup singer. For Graham's latest album, This Path Tonight the two co-wrote 20 songs together in preparation and Shane produced the album.

The pleasant surprise of seeing these these two guys live is that you get to hear all these great Graham Nash songs that he has written since the mid 1960's, but with an electric guitar master to help interpret the songs with new colors. During the concert, Mark Knopfler came to my mind as Shane can subtilely bend and slide notes with the best of them. His guitar "Whale Sounds" on Wind on the Water, knocked me out. Graham at the end of that song said, "Shane does Whale well."

What was not a surprise, is the well preserved 76 year old voice of Graham Nash. Graham has always taken good care of himself and it shows. Nothing better than listening to two guitars in sync with a timeless voice that still carries the day in 2018.

In this week's playlist, I've tried to capture Saturday's concert with current videos of the 70+ year old Graham Nash mixed with some of his rock 'n' roll hall of fame recordings, along with a few short interviews as well. Enjoy my friends!