Monday, January 6, 2020

When I'm Sixty-Four... some reflective thoughts


When I'm Sixty-Four

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine

If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door
Will you still need me,
will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four


You'll be older too
And if you say the word
I could stay with you

I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more

Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four

Every summer we can rent a cottage
In the Isle of Wight, if it's not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck and Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away

Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four
–Paul McCartney


Paul McCartney wrote When I'm Sixty-Four when he was sixteen years old in the 1950's. It's an idyllic projection that he actually lived with wife Linda if not for her early death from cancer. It is also an early expression of love experienced in his own family upbringing and tapped into as a budding genius storyteller.

Paul would sing the song in early Beatle gigs at clubs between sets, or when some equipment broke down and the band had to stop for a bit. The song was recorded in 1966 for the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album when Paul's father was sixty-four. Another fun fact, Paul's kids surprised him on his own sixty-fourth birthday with their recording of the song with altered lyrics. But the ironic fact that stands out for me was that when Paul was sixty-four, he had separated from second wife Heather Mills and later divorced, or as the English say, "a fine kettle of fish."

This past year I turned sixty-four, and as I write this (on January 2) it's my lovely wife, Mary Kit's sixty-fourth birthday! On this day, we'll be living Birthday greetings bottle of wine.

Life is such a mixed bag. When you reach sixty-four years of age, you've lived through some fantastic, good, bad and even ugly times.

Here's a 2020 random ying yang stream of thoughts to my wonderful wife and extended to anyone who's hit the sixty-four mark and beyond.

You're Sixty-Four (+)

Empathy supersedes sympathy.

You used to be the youngest person at a meeting. 

"Until death do us part" has probably been officially said to you at least a couple of times by a minister or justice of the peace. Also, there were less people there the second time.

Ya go ahead and put it off, no rush.

In the 1950's or early 60's your mom or dad had to hit the breaks and then put out their arm to stop you from flying from the back seat and into the front dashboard or glass.

Grandchildren on your knee

'Surreal' is such an overused word by people who are being interviewed on TV.
The experience was NO dream or fantasy, shit gets real!

Some of your heroes in youth turns out were not heroes at all,
some even went to prison, some need to be.

You shout, "Putin pinko commie asset" at the TV,
while some old fart suddenly loves the Russians.

You get together with friends and talk about 'aches and pains' like it's an art form.

Insurance commercials must be banned from television. 
You miss The Marlboro Man in sweeping vistas and the theme song- 
(Elmer Bernstein's score for The Magnificent Seven "dum, da-da dum")
–minus the cigarettes.

Every summer we can rent a cottage

You now have a personal trainer.
No no, not a real person but a free iPhone runner's app with the synthesized female dominatrix voice, yelling, "faster faster!"

No regrets.

Remember rushing to finish writing assignments in school. Finishing was the only reward.
At some point editing became a friend, and the process a life-long reward.

The circle of life possibly now has you looking after your parents.
Work to keep the bond with your siblings and family strong.
In twenty or so years from now, you'll be where your parents were.

Pop quiz - Beemans, Blackjack, Clove - What are they?

Get off the concrete and asphalt and walk or run in nature.

You've been involved in a major accident, and lived to tell about it.

You don't give a rat's ass what anyone thinks about you. Anyone.

You watched the first SNL live.
44 years later, Eddie Murphy on SNL made you laugh through every sketch.

The Rolling Stone's recent No Filter Tour is the best name ever for a rock 'n' roll tour.

"Those kids are just standing on our lawn?"

Team Tortoise - slow and steady for the long run.

Tears now come like rain.

Retirement...
"Everyday is Saturday, and if not Saturday, Sunday."
(thanks Jimmer for that one)

At some point, you thought Don Henley was writing about you.

You can count your true friends on the fingers of one hand, hold that hand.

Up at 4:20am for no reason on God's green earth.
If you're up because you have to go to your day job, hang in there,
there's a light at the end of the tunnel; or as Mary Kit would say-
"There's a light at the end of the tunnel as long as it's not a gorilla with a flashlight."

You're a close friend to your children.

John Lennon sang, "love is real." He should have added, "but sometimes illusive."

You've had a major medical condition, and you're still here.

Ok, when does the wisdom thing kick in?

A smiling child yells, "Grandma" or "Grandpa" and they are looking at you.
The reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well 
is that they have a common enemy. –Sam Levenson (thanks Bill for that one)

Life's a three act play.
The third act just started right after you got up to go to the bathroom.

Someone has taken credit for your work.

Elderly people who lived through World War II now have to watch some news report of some dumb ass kids at some picture ceremony giving white supremacist signs and the Hitler salute.

You watch young children play and think what a wonderful world!

You can't prove or disprove that there is a God,
but at some point in adulthood you realized that rock 'n' roll saved your life.

Vaping is... hilarious to watch.

You've lived to see Science in the USA treated like it's astrology.

Every hit song that you've ever loved on the radio has been turned into a TV commercial.

Friends have died.

In the 20th century, you thought recycling was the answer.
Today only 9% of the world's plastic is actually recycled.

The 'blended family' is now just, family.

You grew up wanting to stay at the Disneyland Hotel. You've done that.

As Billy Joel said, "We didn't start the fire." Our children think we did.
Greta Thunberg knows we did.

You've made When I'm Sixty-Four your new ringtone or ringback tone. This will last for only a few weeks before you go back to a standard iPhone tone.

Fuck cancer.

Giving exceeds receiving.

Back in the day, you've woken up on a friends dirty carpet with all your clothes on, and now wouldn't dare sleep on the ground in a sleeping bag. Camping!

Somewhere long ago you actually paid 25 cents for a gallon of gas.

You go to Las Vegas to see The Beatles' Love at the Mirage,
 like it's a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Be a light for someone.

Roger Daltrey now hates people smoking dope at Who concerts.
Times change, but The Who still sounds fantastic live.

John F. Kennedy was assassinated, you were told at school by your teacher.
You cried- if not at school, some place where no one could see you.

Keto smeto - I'm not giving up pizza!

You've held her hair back, or you've rubbed his back...
while bending over the toilet and hurling Boone's Farm and Cheetos.

Opportunity and choice are the greatest gifts you can give a young person.

I miss it when someone doesn't initiate and say, "good morning" when you pass and you're the only person around. Or you initiate, "good morning" and they ignore you and just walk on by.

We shall scrimp and save

You don't put your head under water at the pool or ocean, c'mon man!

The weight is always there, it hangs like a dark cloud, but dammit you're really happy.

The maturation of hair loss on the top of head to then sprout like spring weeds in your nose and ears is just a cruel joke.

Create, express you passions.

A New Year's resolution is just a cheap setup for a fail. Actions not words win the day.

Houdini said that the hardest thing for him was to get out of bed. You love your bed.

Email title in my Inbox- Domino's Stuffed Cheesy Bread is calling your name.
"hey, Fat Ass."

You're on your third impeachment, however experience tells you this one is completely different. You realize we are living in an epic historical period in our government while many seem oblivious to the challenge to our democracy. You're watching and talking to people of reason, stay vilangent.

Got to have a current project going. After that... onto the next project.

Listen to music like you did in your 20's.

Pay-per-view turned out pretty well. You never realized there would be so many good stories coming out of your flat panel television.

Will you still need me, will you still feed me

You're in a position where you don't have to work with assholes.
 If you are, at least you have an exit strategy.

You've had injuries and walked down that lonesome road all by yourself.
You've eaten orange slices with 7,000 people after the finish line.

A long time ago, a friend put a condom under the faucet
and filled it like a water balloon to show you it wouldn't explode.
BTW, have you seen those water balloon kits for kids at Costco, pure genius!

You know religion, you know spirituality.

Think of retirement as a set of retread tires, 
you've got new tread on old tires for the road ahead.

Walking is one of the essential keys of life- walk, walk, walk.

Your spouse says at the restaurant,"Don't tell them it's my birthday."
Mine for evermore

Your grandchildren play the song below on Alexia to you over FaceTime
while singing and dancing.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid - Music and 50th Anniversary

For my last blog of 2019, I'm going back to the 1969 well to celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of my favorite movies of all-time, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, released October 24, 1969.

The film won four Academy Awards: Best Cinematography; Best Original Score for a Motion Picture (not a Musical); Best Music, Song (Burt Bacharach and Hal David for "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head"); and Best Original Screenplay. It was also nominated for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Sound. Wikipedia

As kids in high school, my friends and I would reenact favorite scenes over and over as it instantly became our favorite western. The John Wayne torch of the Western had moved over to a new generation of movie fans that would champion new Westerns like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Little Big Man with Dustin Hoffman in 1970. 

I think what completes this perfect movie of script, cast and direction is Burt Bacharach's music. The score is a masterpiece that breathes so much life into the action and cinematography. For me the highlight of the soundtrack is the South American Getaway montage with Newman, Redford and Ross robbing banks and avoiding the Bolivian soldiers. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a quality video of the sequence but the audio track is classic Bacharach pop that should just take you back to the 1960's and start your Monday Monday with a little pep in your step. 

Here is the soundtrack on Amazon Music.
Here is the soundtrack on Spotify.

Here is the soundtrack on YouTube along with some selected clips from the movie that made us all want to play and be this trio on the big screen.

Note - The video for Come Touch The Sun is not part of the movie, but thought it added a nice visual touch to the audio soundtrack.


Monday, December 23, 2019

My Favorite Songs of 2019



I'm just an album guy at heart. If I like an artist or band I tend to like more than one song on the album. So it's really about my favorite albums of the year, and the 100 songs I have chosen here are mostly grouped with at least two or more of what I think are premium cuts of songs from the same album.

My favorite song of 2019 is There Goes My Miracle by Bruce Springsteen from his Western Stars album. Bruce once said that with his plain voice and looks he better be a damn good songwriter if he was going to make it in the music business. I think his vocals have actually improved over the years as Bruce works so hard in everything he does. His vocal on There Goes My Miracle got the hairs on the back of my neck to attention the first time I heard the song. I think the song's a masterpiece of writing, arrangement and a simply fantastic vocal that drives the emotion of the song.

Another song that got me literally tinkling with pure joy was Street Song by The Who from their just released album, WHO. Street Song is an instant classic in my mind because Pete Townshend throws in a little bit of everything that you would associate with the sound of the band in the 1970's. Roger Daltrey's vocal is outstanding, but the thing that brought tears to my eyes when I first heard it (very loudly in my earphones), was Zak Starkey's (son of Ringo) drumming. Zak doesn't imitate his godfather Keith Moon, but the spirit of Keith just came back like a wave through Zak's drumming! Keith Moon is in fact my favorite drummer of all-time because of his unique double tom-toms sound that just rolls like no other in rock. In the 1970's, you could be in any car with crappy speakers and a song from Who's Next would come on the radio and you could hear Keith's drumming just like it was making the car hum down the road.

2019 goes down as the year the 'California Sound' made a comeback. Composers such as Burt Bacharach and Jimmy Webb come to mind that hark back to a time and sound of great songwriting combined in pop with sweeping orchestrations and in rock 'n' roll with great harmony and electric guitars blending with acoustic guitars.

In Western Stars, Bruce embodies Bacharach and Webb and channels Wichita Lineman. In the folk rock documentary, Echo in the Canyon, Jakob Dylan does a similar exploration of groups like The Byrds as the California Sound evolved from beach music to folk rock. Both albums are peppered through my favorites playlist this year.

I have to mention, Dan Auerbach. First for his producing Yola Carter's Walk Through Fire a vocal tour de force by the young British singer-songwriter. Her song, Lonely the Night takes me back to mid-60's English pop like Dusty Springfield and is a must listen. Second, Dan reunites with Patrick Carney and The Black Keys to make a great rock album also featured here and aptly titled, Let's Rock.

Album making is hard work combined with the talent to pull it off. It's a special magic to write, sing, play, and produce 10 or so songs woven together as an album and out into the world. A good album is a great find, a great album is a treasure for life.

So here's 100 songs I really liked this year and mixed together to represent some good and great albums by some fine rock 'n' rollers and Americana musicians in 2019. Enjoy my friends and here's to more great music in 2020!


Monday, December 16, 2019

Hey, the 70's called and want you to listen to some lads in their 70's















The Who's twelfth studio album, WHO was just released last week but you would swear it was straight out of the 1970's. Roger Daltrey at 75 still has his vocal chops and is a model for how to take care of one's self. Pete Townshend at 74 still has his songwriting, singing and guitar chops, and together these lads just made a fan pleasing classic album to go with their current tour.

I finally saw the band for the first time on their tour stop in San Diego this year, and this album will just keep The Who selling out arenas until they say, "WHEN." This just might be the best rock 'n' roll album of the year as I'm picking songs right and left here to include on my year ending blog, My Favorite Songs of 2019. I've got both a Spotify and YouTube Playlist of the new album.

WHO (Deluxe) on Spotify



Next up is almost 72 year old (Dec. 30th) Jeff Lynne and his band now updated from ELO to Jeff Lynne's ELO. Jeff wrote every song and plays every instrument (minus the orchestration) on the new album just released in November, From Out of Nowhere. Much like the new album title, ELO is back with new material to keep the fan base rocking on tour that I caught for the first time this past June at the Honda Center in Anaheim. Jeff Lynne just blew me away at this show with his voice preserved like a 1970's time capsule that continues to blast off on this new album. I saw a lot of bands and solo acts in 2019 (including Paul McCartney) but I have to say, Jeff's performance at the Honda Center had the highest sound quality production of any live act I heard in 2019. This new album will take you back and forward at the same time.

Here also, I've got both a Spotify and YouTube playlist of the new album.

With these two new 2019 releases, these rockers all born in the 1940's continue to prove why they are part of the greatest generation of Rock 'n' Roll.

From Out of Nowhere on Spotify


Monday, December 9, 2019

Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed - 50th Anniversary (2019 Remaster)

I first heard Let It Bleed on friend and childhood next door neighbor Ron Zieman's bedroom record player. I recently recall him saying, "I wore the damn thing out."

Fifty years later and on this spin of the digital turntable, two things stand out. One, Keith Richards playing almost all the guitar parts because Brian Jones was so far gone that the Stones had to kick him out of the band in June, 1969. Brian was found dead in his swimming pool less than one month later.

Jones and fellow guitarist Keith Richards developed a unique style of guitar play that Richards refers to as the "ancient art of weaving" where both players would play rhythm and lead parts together; Richards would carry the style on with later Stones guitarists and the sound would become a Rolling Stones trademark. Wikipedia

The second, is my respect for the craftsmanship on ALL the songs beyond the hits. The Rolling Stones idolized the Blues and the men and women who created the genre. I was listening to a live song by B.B. King on tour with the Stones the other day on Amazon. King says in the intro before the song that he wanted to thank the Stones for having him open for them, because "without the Rolling Stones you wouldn't be listening to B.B. King." Sometimes this world is just ass-backwards...

The new Let It Bleed 2019 remaster on YouTube is outstanding! Take a little holiday time on this one, but don't forget to go back to my Christmas Mix 2019 - Going Home. Baby gimme some shelter!

Our ol' pal Ron is currently visiting his father Ray in Rochester, New York. Happy Birthday Ron and Merry Christmas to you and your family and stay warm by the fire.


Monday, December 2, 2019

Christmas Mix 2019 - Going Home


This is the 5th anniversary of my Christmas Mix Playlist! I've linked all the previous mixes right here, so you'll be covered for the holidays. As always, my Christmas Mix is a blend of traditional and non-traditional music because after 60+ years of listening to Bing and Nat, ya gotta mix it up.

I remember Paul Simon talking about the song Kodachrome many years ago and his inspiration for writing the song was not photography but rather the sound of the phrase 'going home,' now say, "Kodachrome," and there's another hit from Rhymin' Simon. If there ever was a color film for the holidays, it was Kodachrome. It was my film of choice until this digital stuff took over...

One of the central themes of Christmas is in fact, going home. Children have Santa with all the presents under the Christmas tree, but adults get a holiday theme too- the loneliness, and/or longingness to be back home with family, friends, and possibly that one person you love more than anything.

Since vinyl records became popular in the 1940's, songwriters have created countless hits using the 'going home' theme. In 1943 and in the middle of World War II, Bing Crosby's hit, I'll Be Home For Christmas was written for the soldiers longing to be home at Christmas. It remains today a Christmas standard sung by countless singers that still can elicit tears... I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.

McKee Anderson DeVoe
Here's a current shout out to McKee Anderson DeVoe who just graduated from Marine Boot Camp down here in San Diego at MCRD and is currently stationed at Camp Pendleton. Mary Kit and I attended the ceremony with his proud dad Bill and his family, and we all wish him the best in the days, months and years ahead as a proud Marine!

This past week I headed up the coast to my OG hometown, Santa Maria, CA. I spent Thanksgiving with my mom, brother and sisters in the house we all lived in growing up. It was nice for all of us to be back together again under the same roof on Tunnell Street. I'll be home for Christmas this year in San Diego with my girls and grandkids. I cherish everyday with all my family spread out across California and Washington.

Happy Holidays to all , and may your days be filled with good spirits and cheer wherever you are!

Also, a very special Merry Christmas wish to Ray Zieman who is in his 95th year and truly one of the finest human beings on the planet. Ray spent his career at Kodak and did some incredible top secret work with the military for Kodak at Vandenberg Air Force Base to keep our country safe. Merry Christmas Ray, Ron and Retta too!

Yesterday's sunrise on the mystical 'Ventura Highway' just out of Santa Barbara, going home to San Diego.




Monday, November 25, 2019

Leonard Cohen - Thanks for the Dance


Thanks for the Dance is Leonard Cohen's fifteenth and final studio album and one that will probably grow on you the more you hear it. It was just released on November 22nd, a holy day for millions since my childhood, and maybe a fitting date for Cohen's finale. It has been a labour of love from son Adam Cohen who has been working on this project before and since his father's death in November, 2016.

Leonard Cohen is a perfect example of why music never stops teaching one about life. Like food and drink, your tastes change, blend, and mature. I don't remember the first time I heard a Leonard Cohen song, but as a young teenager probably would have said, "a droning poet."

I believe I have a memory of seeing Cohen's first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen thumbing through Paul Hobbs' album collection but don't ever think we listened to that one on his record player. Paul was and still is light years ahead of me musically and probably would have had that teenage listen with fellow friend Jeff McCarthy as together they would have appreciated Cohen's songwriting prowess as young lads.

Like fine wine through the years, I find Leonard Cohen's words and music to be wonderful, his voice a treasure of expression and experience. Give Thanks for the Dance a good deep listen in this week of reflection, and Happy Thanksgiving my friends.

Moving On

I loved your face I loved your hair
Your t-shirts and your evening-wear
As for the world the job the war
I ditched them all to love you more

And now you're gone, now you're gone
As if there ever was a you
Who broke the heart and made it new?
Who's moving on, who's kiddin' who?

I loved your moods I love the way
They threaten every single day
Your beauty ruled me though I knew
Twas more hormonal that the view

Now you're gone, now you're gone
As if there ever was a you
Queen of lilac, queen of blue
Who's moving on, who's kiddin' who?

I loved your face I loved your hair
Your t-shirts and your evening-wear
As for the world the job the war
I ditched them all to love you more

And now you're gone, now you're gone
As if there ever was a you
Who held me dyin' pulled me through
Who's moving on, who's kiddin' who?
–Leonard Cohen, Moving On


Monday, November 4, 2019

Echo in the Canyon

Rickenbacker 360-12 Electric Guitar
 So I finally got a chance to see the Andrew Slater documentary echo in the canyon (2018) starring Jacob Dylan and just released this past week on Netflix and linked here.

This documentary has gotten a few harsh reviews, as notably Joni Mitchell is not even mentioned, even in the context of the California Sound evolving from surfing and car songs to more socially conscious and interpersonal songs. For god's sake, as a Laurel Canyon resident who released Ladies of the Canyon in 1970 she (and The Doors) deserved a little shout out here. Also the overuse  of clips from the 1969 art film Model Shop as Slater's and Dylan's inspiration for the documentary is annoying but is easily put aside.

With that said, this 1 hour and 22 minute doc has plenty of great clips of its own as you get a snapshot of the the mid to late 60's in Laurel Canyon with some of the famous musicians who lived there and some famous musicians who didn't. My favorite was getting to watch Tom Petty talk about music one more time as this was his last recorded interview. The beginning of the film with Tom is a fantastic hook that for me is my ultimate sweet spot of Monday Monday jingle jangle 60's rock 'n' roll and my original inspiration for writing this blog. For me, learning anything new about three of my all-time favorite bands- The Mamas & The Papas, The Byrds, and Buffalo Springfield are gem pieces to the rock 'n' roll puzzle for those of us who just can't get enough of this stuff. Man, to have a time machine and be a young adult in Laurel Canyon and on the Sunset Strip in the mid-sixties, would be...



Here's several key elements that make this film 'a must see' that covers the folk to folk rock transformation.

This starts with the transition of folk musicians and studio recording in New York mostly moving to Los Angeles shortly after The Beatles stepped off the plane in 1964. John Sebastian tells how Roger McGuinn started singing Beatles' songs in folk clubs in New York and Los Angeles with no success but with the guts of a pioneer and a Beatles inspired 12 string Rickenbacker 360-12 electric guitar. 

In the film, Roger McGuinn gets a much deserved feature as a major architect from musicians singing folk songs with acoustic guitars to composing folk rock songs with electric guitars. Here's a quick clip (not in the film) of Roger and his Rickenbacker.



In the film, Roger and The Byrds take traditional folk songs like Pete Seeger's The Bells of Rhymney and transform it in their 1965 version. Here's a set of clips, first with Seeger's original version, and then The Byrds.





I also enjoyed the conversations with famous musicians who discuss how art is a continual process of iteration and the 'cross pollination' of songs that influence song writing. I bought a book a couple of years ago by Austin Kleon with the perfect title to describe this process of creativity, Steal like an Artist. In the 1960's, Laurel Canyon becomes such a place where collaboration + competition = creativity. One example from the doc, is how George Harrison adapts Roger's riffs on The Byrds version of The Bells of Rhymney that influence him in his 1965 song, If I Needed Someone.



Then, Brian Wilson is blown away by Rubber Soul and that inspires him to write Pet Sounds in 1966. In turn, The Beatles are inspired by Pet Sounds, and in 1967 create Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. (As a side note to the playlist below- I also include Buffalo Springfield's (Stephen Stills) Questions, which morphs into Carry On with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and then Eric Clapton adapts the Questions riff for his song, Let It Rain (1970) .

July 25, 1965 - Newport Folk Festival
The film's MC role is played with perfect Bob Dylan DNA detachment by son Jakob Dylan, born in 1969. I think son Dylan does a great job tapping into dad's influence without mentioning his name. As the greatest songwriter of his generation, Bob Dylan himself also makes the historic transition from acoustic folk to electric rock 'n' roll and turns the music world on its head at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.

As the documentary unfolds, I realize Jakob is the perfect medium to tell this story. His quiet casual manner and approach to the material works perfectly for the famous musicians who take his questions and run with it (e.g. David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Tom Petty,  Eric Clapton, Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne, Lou Adler and Michelle Phillips).

Jakob brings in his own generation of musicians to update 13 songs from the California Sound era that in their interpretation remain both current and true to the originals. In the playlist below, I start with the original 60's version and then follow it with the Jakob and friends take. I love his selections as Jakob goes for some of the deeper cuts, not just the hits and hey that's my kind of playlist! I highly recommend you make the time to watch echo in the canyon this week on Netflix, it's a trip!



Monday, October 21, 2019

September & October 1969, 50 Years of Music

In the past several weeks I have highlighted The Beatles' Abbey Road and Laura Nyro's New York Tendaberry, both released in September of 1969. This week, I focus on other albums released in September and October of that year with an ear to AM Radio. Being fourteen and a white kid from a small farming town, my main exposure to music of the day came from AM stations.

Even though I never purchased a 45 single or album from Motown (until Stevie Wonder in the 70's), I constantly was exposed to pop, soul and R&B by black artists on AM Radio. I didn't realize it at the time, but those tunes sunk in deep in my soul, and as I got older, I began to appreciate them more and more, and don't you know they stand the test of time.

Three of my all-time Motown favorites are featured here with releases by the singing duo of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Tammy died in 1970 at the age of  twenty-four from brain cancer. For me, this was Motown's best singing duo that was cut way too short and as the saying goes, "the good die young." Also got to give a shout out to The Temptations and The Supremes who made an album together in 1969. The Supremes are a very special group in the history of american music as their world wide fame reached across the races and opened up the door for many black artists to perform center stage in any city.

So here's my own TOP 40 (actually now 44) from that period that include some BIG hits and some songs you may have never heard before. Enjoy my friends.


Monday, October 14, 2019

Save The Country, 50 Years Later and the #WrongSideOfHistory

Graphic by Doug McIntosh
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the 50 year anniversary release of Abbey Road by The Beatles. On September 24th 1969, two days before Abbey Road hit the airwaves, Laura Nyro released New York Tendaberry.

Laura is a singer-songwriter best know as a composer much like her New York Brill Building contemporaries in that other people made monster hits from her songs.

Between 1968 and 1970, a number of artists had hits with her songs: The 5th Dimension with "Blowing Away", "Wedding Bell Blues", "Stoned Soul Picnic", "Sweet Blindness", and "Save the Country"; Blood, Sweat & Tears and Peter, Paul and Mary, with "And When I Die"; Three Dog Night with "Eli's Comin'"; and Barbra Streisand with "Stoney End", "Time and Love", and "Hands off the Man." Wikipedia.

During this past year, I've been exploring Laura Nyro and find her completely fascinating. As I got into New York Tendaberry, I discovered the song, Save The Country inspired by the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy and the times of the late sixties. 

After listening to Save The Country 50 years later, I couldn't help but link the lyrics with our current political times under one Donald Trump as history's loop-tape back to the civil rights movement and the policies and behavior of the Nixon administration. These lyrics are as relevant today as when Laura Nyro wrote them in 1968 expressing her fortitude with the continual efforts to preserve our democratic principles and the dreams they are built on.

Come on, people, come on, children
Come on down to the glory river
Gonna wash you up and wash you down
Gonna lay the devil down, gonna lay that devil down

Come on, people, come on, children
There's a king at the glory river
And the precious king, he loved the people to sing
Babes in the blinking sun sang "We Shall Overcome"

I got fury in my soul, fury's gonna take me to the glory goal
In my mind I can't study war no more
Save the people
Save the children
Save the country now

Come on, people, come on, children
Come on down to the glory river
Gonna wash you up and wash you down
Gonna lay the devil down, gonna lay that devil down

Come on, people, sons and mothers
Keep the dream of the two young brothers
Gotta take that dream and ride that dove
We can build the dream with love, I know
We can build the dream with love
We could build the dream with love, I know
We could build the dream with love

I got fury in my soul, fury's gonna take me to the glory goal
In my mind I can't study war no more
Save the people
Save the children
Save the country, save the country, save the country
Save the country

Here's four different versions of this patriotic call to save We the People from the #WrongSideOfHistory. Gotta take that dream and ride that dove, we can build the dream with love...

Laura Nyro, from New York Tendaberry, 1969
Complete album on Spotify | YouTube



The 5th Dimension, From Portrait, 1970



Rosanne Cash, From Time and Love - The Music of Laura Nyro, 1997
Complete album on Spotify | YouTube



Shawn Colvin, Chris Botti, and Billy Childs, Map to the Treasure:
Reimagining Laura Nyro, 2014
Complete album on Spotify | YouTube



Monday, October 7, 2019

Catch & Release @ the River of Music Streams July-October, 2019



UPDATE 10/28/19 - I have added songs to the playlist from new albums released by:
Neil Young, The Milk Carton Kids, Illiterate Light, Lana Del Rey, Green Day, No Vacation, Allison Moorer, Boy & Bear, The Cowsills and more, so check it out.

I have been so preoccupied with music from 1969 that I thought I'd better get back in tune with music happening now. After playing a little listening catch up since July (with a few albums released earlier this year), I now have a list of 80 songs from some great new albums.

In making a 'New Releases Playlist', I hit the music streaming services to cast and catch songs with the confidence of the Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of our lives ear for Rock 'n' Roll and Americana.

This trip, my recent catch includes-

Jeremy Ivey's debut solo album, The Dream and the Dreamer (on Amazon) is my big fish catch for this playlist. The album produced by wife and collaborator Margo Price is a wonderful delight of songs. To learn more about Jeremy read the Rolling Stone article by Joseph Hudak, At 41, Jeremy Ivey Scoffs at Age on His Debut Album.

My metaphor of fishing for songs is a joke with myself as I hated fishing from an early age with the boredom and lack of movement involved for a fidget spinner like me. But when you listen to a song that gives you that back neck goosebump tingle excitement it's like the feeling of a fish striking your line, bending the ol' fishing pole and reelin' em in. To top all this off, Jeremy's got a great song on the album and included in my playlist (#59) called Story of a Fish. Sometimes the blog just writes itself...

Bailen, a sibling band that includes twin brothers, Daniel on bass, David on drums, and younger sister Julia on guitars. Julia is probably identified as the lead singer, but what sets them apart from many young groups today is their detail for harmony.

Their debut album, Thrilled to be here (on Amazon) has so many wonderful songs carefully crafted with harmony that I was just began adding most to this playlist. I can't tell you how many albums I listen to that have so little spark from one song to the next. I was thrilled and look forward to more of their songs in the future.

Liam Gallagher's second solo album Why Me? Why Not. (on Amazon) answers his own question with his usual growl look and parka to go against some of the catchiest pop songs since well, Oasis. I can't help but like this guy and hope he and brother Noel can some day bury the hatchet together and just get along.

And speaking of siblings, The Avett Brothers new album Closer than Tomorrow (on Amazon) plays to a strength of the brothers commitment and moral center as humans, family, and bandmates. You can't help but feel along with producer Rick Rubin that these guys care are about what's going on in their community and country. Their unique style is why the genre of Americana came to be in the last couple of decades because bands like the Avett Brothers were not exactly folk, rock, country or bluegrass, but a mix of everything. Like the albums above, I just kept adding their new songs to the playlist.

There's also a lot of new single or double songs from a number of artists in the YouTube Playlist this week. Over time, I hope you can listen to the whole thing including new albums to come in the weeks ahead from The Milk Carton Kids, and The Who (who as for the later, I'll be seeing on October 16th at San Diego State).

Enjoy my friends, and sorry Paul, I didn't have time to make a Spotify Playlist (so far) this week.


Monday, September 30, 2019

The Beatles - Abbey Road 50th Anniversary

September 26th, 1969 marks the 50th anniversary The Beatles released Abbey Road. The album cover is one of the most recognized photos of the 20th century. I personally have it on the mouse pad I'm using to write this blog. I also have a framed 3D image of it (and this is for real), in my Yellow Submarine bathroom- painted completely school bus yellow with an assortment of Beatle photos on the walls and memorabilia scattered about.

My outstanding 1969 memory of the photo, is George Harrison's Clarks Desert Boots. Seeing that on the cover was just the coolest thing because all my friends and I had a pair, or at least a rip off version of the Clarks originals. In fact, I probably got mine at JC Penny after telling my mom I just had to have them. I believe in junior and senior high school I went through several pairs of both the low and high top versions. I can't speak for the rest of the world, but George had 1969 California chic down in that photo!

Now the desert boots got me thinking about the Schwinn Stingray. My stingray was in fact a rip off model from Montgomery Ward which we used to call, "The Monkey Ward." Speaking of monkey, the banana seat and monkey bars were great for my paper route. You could wrap the cloth bag holding the rubber-banded newspapers on the bars in a perfect position for grabbing and throwing.

Products are one thing to imitate, but The Beatles represented the music that launched the aspirations of thousands of bands across the globe. By 1965, The Beatles were the measure, the absolute standard of excellence in rock 'n' roll to emulate. And speaking of imitation, what about the countless graphics of Star Wars, Muppets, Simpsons, and other characters, or photos of people all in Beatle formation in the Abbey Road crosswalk.

In 1969,  who knew that this was going to be their last album as a band (not counting Let it Be, recorded earlier and released after Abbey Road). It's only shortly thereafter in 1970 that "the dream is over" sunk in as reality. There were not going to be anymore Beatles albums coming out of Abbey Road StudiosAbbey Road, as brilliant as it was when we all heard it in 1969, continues to blossom with time and gets better, better, better...

By the way, you're listening to music on the radio or let's say on a digital device in shuffle mode and a Beatles song comes on, do you ever change the station or hit skip? I can't answer for you, but I think you can for me.

It's 50 years later this past June, Mary Kit and I are at Paul McCartney's Freshen Up Tour in Phoenix. Paul (now 77) finishes his three-hour set with the famous side two Abbey Road medley of Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight, and The End. I had read the setlist in advance and knew I was going to cry, and I did.

For the 50th Anniversary, The Beatles on September 26th released a three CD or vinyl 40 song box set versions of Abbey Road. The box set includes- illustrated book, demos, outtakes, and several other songs recorded during the Abbey Road sessions not on the original album, all remixed by Giles Martin.

Here is the 2019 Abbey Road Super Deluxe Edition on Spotify.

Here is the 2019 Abbey Road Super Deluxe Edition on Amazon Music.

Here is the Audio CD's and Vinyl's of the  2019 Abbey Road Super Deluxe Edition sold on Amazon.

Here's the 2019 Abbey Road Super Deluxe Edition on YouTube embedded below.

So for your #MusicMonday, let's Come Together and give a listen to the best band that ever was. Long Live The Beatles!



Monday, September 23, 2019

Rodney Crowell - Texas

I've been listening to Rodney Crowell's new album Texas and enjoying his collaborations with a slew of great artists including Ringo, Willie Nelson, Billy Gibbons, Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, and Lee Ann Womack. Here is a review from the Americana Music Show.

Rodney Crowell - Texas on Spotify.
Rodney Crowell - Texas on Amazon Music.

Buy Texas (the album) on Amazon.

Enjoy my Texas Playlist below on YouTube.


Monday, September 16, 2019

John Mayer - SDSU 9/11/19

Photo by Matthew Rea | SDSU Viejas Arena, 9/11/19
The first thing you notice about John Mayer's current Summer Tour stop in San Diego is the PA music before the concert, all 80's music. For a classic generation rock 'n' roller like me it's a subtle, "I'm glad you're here but my peeps are your children."

In fact, John Mayer's maturation from teen idol with screaming girls, to a large diverse audience of college kids, millennials, and gray hairs all screaming is a reflection of his setlist- an eclectic mix of singer-songwriter acoustic and electric guitar magic. Viejas Arena never sounded so good. If your mindset about John Mayer is stuck in a early 2000's tabloid magazine, please snap out of it.

I believe John Mayer is one of the best examples of an artist who may in fact be the definitive BRIDGE of rock 'n' roll from people like me who attended SDSU in the 70's to the current crop of students I saw at Mayer's concert last week. I knew John was going to perform his electric guitar mastery because I've been listening and watching him the last decade, but what really got me excited were the kids.

I stood with the entire arena that moved like a gentle wave to Mayer's set delivering the Blues, R&B, Funk, Folk and Rock 'n' Roll to a generation of young people that rocked to his groove. In a time where the "thump, thump" of DJ electronic club music is the default, it's good to see this generation of young people embrace an artist who writes contemporary music for them with a tune lineage from folks that carry Stratocasters. This won't be my last John Mayer concert, and along with fellow artists like Gary Clark Jr., I'll be going to rock 'n' roll shows for years to come.

My playlist this week are the 24 songs John performed at the SDSU show. Enjoy my friends!

Here's my John Mayer - SDSU 9/11/19 Setlist Playlist on Spotify.

Here's my John Mayer - SDSU 9/11/19 Setlist Playlist on YouTube.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Heart

It's second semester, I'm going to guess February or March, 1976 and Chris Mitchell walks into my dorm room in Toltec Hall at San Diego State University. Chris was a couple of doors down, and I believe he got a madman (punk kid liar) as his second semester roommate. His previous roommate Larry had moved back to San Francisco and Chris was suddenly spending more time in my room. Fellow hallmate and new lifelong friend, Mark Hunter may have also been in the room as the three of us would often listen to music together.

Anyway, to the best of my best recollection Chris comes in with the new Heart album Dreamboat Annie and says, "You guys have got to listen to this!"

Chris was all over this band.  The album cover of the Wilson sisters, Anne and Nancy had me before the needle hit the record. I also remember Chris leaving a note on my door one day that said, "Joe Walsh has joined the Eagles." That note blew my mind!

Fast forward to September, 2019 and I'm floating down the lazy river in Las Vegas with Mary Kit all these years later. As always we catch Love at the Mirage and Bill Maher as well this round. Last night we saw Elle King, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and Heart at the Pearl Theater at the Palms. Wow, what a night of rock 'n' roll with these wonderful women!

Here's my Heart Spotify Playlist link.

Here's my Heart YouTube Playlist that is heavily influenced by the Pearl Theater setlist.

Cheers to Chris Mitchell as I believe he would have loved this show too!


Monday, September 2, 2019

Sheryl Crow - Threads

Threads is Sheryl Crow's eleventh studio album and she says her last. She plans to continue touring and making singles but just won't be making complete albums anymore.

This album is special as it has been three and half years in the making with every song having one or more great guest artists. In a who's who starting with Johnny Cash to present day stars like Maren Morris and Chris Stapleton this album weaves an Americana vibe of artists and influences.

As by design, you will want to listen to every song on this album, multiple times. In the first pass, you might think you have found a favorite and the next song is just as good. The album builds strength off each song and you know why Sheryl named it Threads.

I have always loved Sheryl Crow as she kept classic rock 'n' roll fresh and alive in the 90's as the genre declined with new talent and airplay. Sheryl is one of the people who provided the bridge between women in the folk-country-rock 'n' roll classic era with the many talented women artists of today.

As Mavis Staples, Bonnie Raitt, and Stevie Nicks inspired Sheryl, she has in turn inspired younger women like St. Vincent, Brandi Carlile and Margo Price. This album is a real treat with all the above mentioned as contributors to this album, not to mention a few old guys who've penned a few songs in their time as well.

Thank you Sheryl Crow for all the great albums over the years as this one goes out on many high notes. And, with all these great artists around, these are Still the Good Old Days. Enjoy my friends!

Here is the Spotify Playlist of Threads, and my YouTube Playlist embedded below.