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



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.