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.

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


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.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Summer of '69 (August), 50 Years of Music

August of '69, I'm about to enter high school and be on the freshmen football team. The tradition was that every football player at Santa Maria High School had to buzz cut their hair in order to try-out.

Can you imagine, all my friends are growing long(er) hair and I have to look like I'm going into the military. In 1969, the military draft were taking boys just 4 years older than me, to Vietnam.

My new buzz cut was a serious blow to my wannabe hippy thing. Maybe listening to bands like Jethro Tull with my next door neighbor Ron would keep me at least at the counterculture back door, looking in.

Now listening to Jethro Tull's album, Stand Up 50 years later is like a lightning bolt flash back. Ron had purchased the album, and like I've said many times in my blogs, I'm sitting on his bed listening and looking at the album cover art. Our auditory music memory is like our sense of smell, you hear it and you're right back in a place long ago. Stand Up holds up!

Next up, Green River by Creedence Clearwater Revival. I loved this album with one of my top 100 songs of all-time, Bad Moon Rising.

Mary Kit and I saw John Fogerty in Las Vegas a couple of years ago and he really puts on a fantastic show. If you have not seen John Fogerty recently, I highly recommend you go to one of his shows, it will make everything in the world pause for a couple of hours. Mary Kit says he's back in Vegas this November with his 50 Year Trip.

John's music is so pure and I often link Booker T. and the MG's and CCR with both having a simple and authentic sound that has stood the test of time. Green River holds up!

I have most Donovan albums checked in my Amazon Music app and he randomly comes up on many a trail run, and I rarely skip a song. By 1969, Barabajagal was his seventh studio album and he kept his hits streak rolling with this album. I've included the song, I Love My Shirt which so reminds me of a song that the great children's songwriter, Raffi  could have written. Donovan always did his own thing and didn't try to imitate Bob Dylan. I like that Donovan usually did an anti-war song on his many albums and on this one penned, To Susan on the West Coast Waiting [From Andy in Vietnam Fighting].

Santana is Santana's debut album who were one of the unknown bands to the Woodstock audience a few weeks prior in August of '69. Talk about great timing! Santana took off like a roaring lion and Carlos has never stopped. I'm partial to this original lineup and had the pleasure of seeing the organ and lead singer for Santana, Gregg Rolie several years ago in Ringo Starr's All-Star Band. Greg sings Santana's early hits and is never recognized until he starts singing and Ringo's crowds love it!

Harry is Harry Nilsson's fourth studio album and like most people I didn't get back to this album until he became more famous in the 1970's. The big song from this album is I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City, the similar sounding song to Fred Neil's Everybody's Talkin', the smash hit from the 1969 film, Midnight CowboyDirector John Schlesinger had been using Nilsson's cover of Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin'" as an example of the kind of song he wanted on the final soundtrack but then decided not to replace it. If "I Guess the Lord ..." had been included, it would have been eligible for an Oscar, as it was an original song. Harry Nilsson did win a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Everybody's Talkin'" [in 1970]. Wikipedia.

The summer of '69 is a memorable  period for millions of Americans. We landed on the moon in July and then Woodstock in August. In September, The Beatles release Abbey Road and we begin to close out a decade with some of the most memorable music ever made.

At fourteen, I didn't realize the impact of living in 1969 until years later, but often reflect back here in this blog with the knowledge and experience of When I'm Sixty-Four.

Grandchildren on your knee...

Peace and Love 2019 my friends!

Here is the Spotify Playlist link this week- Summer of '69 (August), 50 Years of Music.
Youtube Playlist embedded here.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Woodstock- August 1969 and 2019, 50 Years of Music

Original Woodstock Poster
Update Monday August, 26, 2019 - Netflix has posted the PBS American Experience Film, Woodstock: Three Days that Defined a Generation. I watched it last night and highly recommend!

Woodstock was a music festival held August 15–18, 1969, which attracted an audience of more than 400,000. Billed as "an Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music", it was held at Max Yasgur's 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York, 43 miles (70 km) southwest of Woodstock. It was alternatively referred to as the Bethel Rock Festival or the Aquarian Music Festival. Thirty-two acts performed outdoors despite sporadic rain. It has become widely regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history, as well as the definitive nexus for the larger counterculture generation. Wikipedia

My thoughts on Woodstock 50 years later are similar to the millions of people who wished they would have been there- it was one of the greatest "one-offs" in the history of mankind. Woodstock should have been a disaster, but in its totality was a wonderfully unique event in time.

The big 50th Anniversary concert promoted by original Woodstock co-founder, Michael Lang tried his best this round, but the big festival was recently cancelled, and in my thinking probably for the better. Like the disastrous, Woodstock '99, it just wasn't meant to be. 

Max Yasgur
1969 @ Woodstock/his farm
However, in the town of Bethel, New York, the original site at Max Yasgur's dairy farm something wonderful happened this past weekend. A Woodstock anniversary concert was held there and no national news organizations seemed to be reporting on it as of my Saturday 8/17 draft of this blog, other than the regional Poughkeepsie Journal. Considering our times, and with a much smaller crowd, nothing happened other than peace and music.

I'm just now learning and about the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts • Site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival. This past weekend, they quietly put on a great show! I guess it doesn't matter if I'm 14 or 64, I'm still a day late and dollar short finding about concerts after the fact.

Well here's a little playlist of Woodstock-
somethings old-
  • Max Yasgur, the conservative Republican was the hero of Woodstock. Without Mr. Yasgur saving the day and allowing the Woodstock promoters to use his natural theater farm fields, Woodstock would not have happened, or happened as it turned out on Yasgur's Farm.
  • So you didn't see Woodstock live August 15-18, 1969, but a lot of young people like me watched Dick Cavett on August 19, 1969. Guests included Joni Mitchell (who was not at Woodstock), Jefferson Airplane, Stephen Stills and David Crosby who were at Woodstock. I love when Stephen shows off his Woodstock mud from his jeans. Where was Graham Nash? (He was there but off camera because his visa wouldn't allow him to do TV in America at the time.)
  • Joni Mitchell singing her song Woodstock, in 1970 on the BBC.
  • Some Woodstock moments in time...
 and somethings new-
  • The 2019 Woodstock lineup at Bethel Woods included- John Fogerty, Arlo Guthrie, Santana, Ringo Starr and His Allstar Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, The Doobie Brothers, and Edgar Winter. It would have been fun to be there. From the Poughkeepsie Journal, I watched a couple on video who said they were 14 and in Junior High, living in the region, and their parents wouldn't dare let them go to the original at that age. They were there this time to soak it all in live, and with some perspective. I like to think they represented me...
  • I could only find live video of Ringo... I have interviews with John Fogerty and Arlo.
  • and, look what they have done with the place! If you get a chance, go to the Bethel Woods story link above and the Poughkeepsie Journal stories with videos.
  • The 50th anniversary made me think of Max. Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, and Max Yasgur?
    John Fogerty performs on the final day of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock
    at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel on Sunday, August 18, 2019. (Photo: John Meore/The Journal News)

    Enjoy my friends!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Summer Tunes

La Jolla Shores Beach Bonfire

Summer Tunes
is a playlist I started a couple of years ago. Here's a major update with 100+ (and counting) YouTube videos that is the perfect long-playlist for any summer activity. Enjoy my friends!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Bruce Springsteen, Western Stars

Western Stars is Bruce Springsteen's nineteenth studio album released on June 14th. I think the album is timely in that the late 60's and the "California Sound" are all the rage with a new crop of movies and documentaries covering the subject.

Here's a list of films I can't wait to see-
If you haven't noticed, I'm personally obsessed with the 60's in general but the sweet spot for me is LA from the mid 60's to the early 70's.

Bruce pays homage to that era of songwriting with thirteen new gems of his own. This theme-oriented album harks back to the days of listening to entire albums at a sitting. I would recommend you make time to do the same. Enjoy my friends!

I'm introducing a new feature today for my Monday Monday Music playlists by creating a Spotify Playlist to duplicate my YouTube Playlist for each blog. Spotify Playlists can be downloaded to your phone if you want to listen to to my playlists offline. However, you do have to be a Spotify Premium Member ($9.99 a month) to download songs, albums and playlists. Thanks to loyal reader and great friend Paul Hobbs for this suggestion!

Click here for my first Spotify Playlist - Bruce Springsteen, Western Stars

or, the YouTube Playlist embedded below.

Monday, July 29, 2019

July 1969, 50 Years of Music

Photo source - The Year Men Walked on the Moon

I thought I couldn't let the month of July, 1969 go without a mention of the moon landing by Apollo 11. In a previous blog, I mentioned my father's Norelco reel to reel tape recorder which I used to record an audio tape of Walter Cronkite's broadcast of the moon landing. The tape and recorder have long disappeared, but sometime in my 20's I snagged the omnidirectional external microphone that I used to tape stuff off TV and albums. To this day, I keep the microphone in a glass cabinet of souvenirs, including my first 35mm Minolta camera Mary Kit gave me in 1974. 

This month, when I walked by the glass cabinet, I thought of the moon launch, landing and return to earth. That memory is very alive in my brain due in part to me knowing as a 14 year old how important this event was to mankind and the thought that I'd need to preserve an audio copy for history. Well, here's YouTube with "Uncle Walter" very much keeping what I had in my mind, back in the summer of '69.

As for the music of July of 1969, my outstanding memory is the song, Touch Me by The Doors. This song's got a bit of everything with the horns, the strings and Jim's vocals moving from gruff to smooth on the chorus, I loved this song!

Technically, the band's It's a Beautiful Day's by their self-titled first album was released in June, 1969 but wasn't on the Wikipedia list I was using and thus didn't make my June, 1969 playlist. Here I feature three songs from that album and didn't think you would mind...

I feature Delaney and Bonnie's second album The Original Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. The great musicians who passed through this band in the late 60's and early 70's is truly astonishing and a huge influence on why Eric Clapton quit Blind Faith to move towards Bonnie & Delaney's sound, not to mention co-opt much of their band when he formed Derek and the Dominoes in 1970.

I also love the Byrd's Preflyte album which was released in July, 1969 from their 1964 demo sessions when they were a little known band called the Jet Set.

Lastly, I have to mention my 8th grade home teacher, Mr. Richard Ziegler who got me hooked on collecting antique bottles and loved the band Canned Heat. I remember our last day of school in June, 1969 and Mr. Ziegler bringing in his record collection to play us his tunes.

Enjoy the Playlist my friends!

Monday, July 22, 2019

#QueenForum 7/20/19

Saturday was a great summer day! Mary Kit and I had so much fun driving up from San Diego and kicking around at Disneyland during the day, and then driving over at sunset to The Fabulous Forum to see Queen + Adam Lambert. Take a look at the Twitter #QueenForum pics, videos and comments of simply a wonderful fan experience. Here is a setlist from the 7/20/19 show.

The Forum does a bang up job for the big acts by putting a band's famous lyric lines on the columns surrounding the building. (Pictured here is a shot Mary Kit took of me before the show.)

I've been to three big concerts this summer with ELO, Paul McCartney, and now Queen. All of these shows have been great family entertainment draws. As I've said before, classic rock 'n' roll now brings out three generations of fans which often includes mom, dad and the kids all coming together. Right in front of us, we had mom, dad and two teenage sons who were rocking out as much as their parents! I'm trying to picture my parents taking me to a rock concert in the 60's and that image simply does not compute.

Forum - 7/19/19 - (Source iHeartRadio)
Anyway, I can't say enough how much Adam Lambert brings to creating a whole new generation of Queen fans for the 21st century. Adam does a fantastic job in that he doesn't pretend to be Freddie Mercury but embodies his spirit in every song! I've read some comments from hard core fans who say Freddie can't ever be replaced and that is so true, but Freddie is also dead. (Still too soon?) Wouldn't you rather see Brian May and Roger Taylor play live with someone who's got the vocal chops and personality to masterfully keep Queen's music alive, if not thriving? And what a power triangle these three produce with the two legends in their early 70's playing and singing like their 37 (Adam's age) and Lambert's voice carrying the day in every classic song. There's nothing like going to a concert where you can see all this acted out in real time. As we were walking out after the show, I heard a guy say, "I never would've believed Adam Lambert was that damn great!" As an older fan, I was watching and thinking of Brian and Roger throughout the show and how all their hard work together with Adam is not just about making piles of money, but they still get to do their passion in the present and on the big stage.

I hate to feature fan phone videos from the audience because of the sound and video quality, but I want to give you a little feel for Queen's two back to back shows in Los Angeles. I scoured the YouTubes here to find some worthy videos from the start of  The Rhapsody Tour which is sold out everywhere, not to mention the bump from the film Bohemian Rhapsody. Long live Queen!

Monday, July 15, 2019

1960's Favorite Female Singers and Songs

1965 Santa Maria, CA 
It's November 1964 and Petula Clark releases her single Downtown and by January, 1965 it is #1 on the U.S. Billboard charts.

A couple of years ago, I was talking to my mom who recalled 1965 and how she would pile my younger siblings- sister Stephanie, brother Steve, and myself into the car (no seat belts) and drive downtown. During this time, my mom was pregnant with our soon to be little sister Susan, born in May of that year. I loved going downtown with my mom as she would take us in different shops on Broadway or Main Street in Santa Maria, CA. Other times she would just leave us in the car to play while she did an errand, like run into the old W.A. Haslam department store. We would jump from the front seat to the back seat and back and forth, windows down and the car unlocked. It was a different time back then.

My mother would often take us into the Blue Chip Stamps store where she (and sometimes me) had licked and pasted the stamps into paper books, that were saved and accumulated to be later redeemed for merchandise at that store. I remember combing the store and making suggestions to mom for what I would like her to buy. She was way ahead of me as she would save for weeks or months to get that item she had in mind.

What struck me about this conversation so many years later was her fondness for the Petula Clark song Downtown and how it would be playing on the car radio or in the stores as she was shopping. It's a great memory for her to share with me, and last week our family celebrated her 84th birthday in Arroyo Grande, CA after a little shopping there. Mom, here's to you and your lifetime love for shopping in many different downtowns across the United States.

My love for music started around 1964 at age nine with the English invasion of pop, and American radio and television. 1964 is just one year after John F. Kennedy's assassination as our nation was ready for some new positive energy and rock 'n' roll surely delivered that year!

It is during this wave of male dominated bands, that women singers start to shine too. More songs were starting to be written for women. Songs featuring solo female singers, mixed duos, mixed groups featuring a female lead singer, mixed groups, and all female groups were popping up everywhere.

Warwick and Bacharach
One such writing pair that literally created a gateway for women in song were Burt Bacharach and his collaboration with lyricist Hal David. These two composed some of the most beautiful pop songs of the 1960's that most often featured a woman's voice.

His music is characterized by unusual chord progressions, influenced by his background in jazz harmony, and uncommon selections of instruments for small orchestras. Most of Bacharach & David's hits were written specifically for and performed by Dionne Warwick, but earlier associations (from 1957 to 1963) saw the composing duo work with Marty Robbins, Perry Como, Gene McDaniels, and Jerry Butler. Following the initial success of these collaborations, Bacharach went on to write hits for Gene Pitney, Cilla Black, Dusty Springfield, Jackie DeShannon, Bobbie Gentry, Tom Jones, Herb Alpert, B. J. Thomas, the Carpenters, among numerous other artists. He arranged, conducted, and produced much of his recorded output. Wikipedia

I then started thinking about another song writing pair Carole King and then husband, Gerry Goffin that delivered so many hits for many groups in the early-mid 1960's and before King became a superstar singer-songwriter herself in the 1970's. 

Ellie Greenwich
My friend, Paul Hobbs last week was telling me on a run at the beach how much he admired Ellie Greenwich as an all around singer-songwriter for many women singers in the 1960's. I then looked her up and dived into her collaboration with her then husband, Jeff BerryShe wrote or co-wrote "Be My Baby", "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)", "Da Doo Ron Ron", "Leader of the Pack", "Do Wah Diddy Diddy", and "River Deep – Mountain High", among others. Wikipedia

I then discovered that many of these talented writers worked around Bacharach and David with a host of other songwriting teams at the Brill Building in New York City during this magical time of music.

The Brill Building (built in1931) is an office building located at 1619 Broadway on 49th Street in the New York City borough of Manhattan, just north of Times Square and further uptown from the historic musical Tin Pan Alley neighborhood. It is famous for housing music industry offices and studios where some of the most popular American songs were written. It is considered to have been the center of the American music industry that dominated the pop charts in the early 1960s. Wikipedia

Laura Nyro
When I started this week's playlist, one of the first woman singer-songwriters that came to mind was Laura Nyro. She's one of those artists where her music is all over 60's radio whether sung by her or groups like The 5th DimensionBlood, Sweat and TearsThree Dog Night or Barbara Streisand. And, guess who also worked at the Brill Building, yes Laura Nyro was right there too!

I assume most of us have a great long-term radio memory as we listened and soaked up songs like a sponge. It's amazing when you hear a song after a long absence, the emotions of the past associated with the song comes pouring out. That is how I felt in putting this 60's women's playlist together and I'm thinking there's several here that will do the same for you.

One song that just rings a sponge of tears for me is Bacharach & David's Alfie. I don't know why this song effects me so, but I first heard the Dionne Warwick version on radio that just calls to me from my youth. I read that it's Bacharach's favorite song of all his songs. Alfie has a perfect blending of masterful lyrics and melody that simply pulls the emotions right out of your soul.

What's it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What's it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give
Or are we meant to be kind?

And if only fools are kind, Alfie
Then I guess it's wise to be cruel
And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie
What will you lend on an old golden rule?
As sure as I believe there's a heaven above, Alfie
I know there's something much more
Something even non-believers can believe in

I believe in love, Alfie
Without true love we just exist, Alfie
Until you find the love you've missed you're nothing, Alfie
When you walk let your heart lead the way
And you'll find love any day, Alfie
Alfie ...

Enjoy the women and their songs my friends in this exceptional period of songwriting and singing.

Monday, July 8, 2019

A Baby Boomer's Guide to Rock 'n' Roll - Part II The Concert Experience

The "Renovated" Forum, Inglewood CA
Photo - Eric Meyer, 10/5/74 - The Forum
In 1974, Mary Kit and I drove from Santa Maria, CA to Inglewood in LA to see Elton John at The Forum (setlist that night). The Forum is where the Lakers and Kings used to play from 1967-1999 and was a prestigious venue for big time rock 'n' roll bands. We sat in the cheap seats up top in the back and my most vivid memory of that concert was the volume and how the sound bounced off the walls. Mary Kit's most vivid memory were Elton's costumes and Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting. Elton sold out four straight nights and was on top of the world. 

After the Lakers left The Forum, the building really lost its luster and I think was forgotten by many. That all changed in 2012, when the Madison Square Garden Company purchased it for $25.5 million and put a whopping $100 million into renovation. Since the renovation, Mary Kit and I have seen Don Henley and Eric Clapton there and are excited to see Queen + Adam Lambert there later this month. In our opinion, the sound quality at The Forum is the best place to see an arena concert in Southern California, if not the west coast. 

I think a lot of people are into music in their teens and early twenties BC (Before Children), then life completely changes when a couple has children. For me, having children didn't wipe out my love of rock 'n' roll, I just kind of put it further down on my priority list and slowed way down in buying albums and cassettes, and then CD's. For many, one's career and family life takes over and going to a concert would be great fun, but just gets pushed to the back burner.

Like I said, my love for music has never died, but something wonderful happened as I was getting closer to retiring from being a school teacher for 35 years. Mary Kit and I started going to concerts. There's nothing quite like seeing a live concert of an artist or band that you really like. For me, it's kind of like running a 10K or half-marathon with thousands of strangers. You're surrounded by people with the same shared interest and the energy is very positive and exciting!

Mary Kit and I have now gone to a number of concerts where we've picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. I'm hoping even my seasoned concert going readers can pick up at least one idea here for future concerts. Every concert gives you a different experience but all share the wonderful vibe that live music brings to our hearts and souls.

Social Media
  • Follow artists and bands you like on social media. We often get our first alert to a concert we are interested in through social media.
  • In that same vein, follow venues you like as their concert series schedule will often be posted and you can start planning.

San Diego Civic Theatre
Tickets and Pre-sale for Large Venues
  • The ticket game is rigged and not in your favor! There is no fair first in line for the general public. The best seats or even blocks of tickets are already taken by the promoter and ticket agencies.
  • A rule of thumb - Purchase the most expensive tickets you can afford.
  • Knowing the ticket sale date and time is essential for purchasing a hot in demand concert.
  • Have a map of the venue printed out so you can refer to it when you are purchasing your tickets online. Literally, every second counts if you are wanting to see someone like Paul McCartney.
  • There is a way to get ahead of the masses in line and that means having a credit card account with the specific credit card holder that is aligned with the concert. This perk qualifies you for PRE-SALE. Pre-sale with that particular credit card, gets you a day or two head start and sometimes even a week on tickets sold before the official ticket date is opened to the general public. Yes, this means you have to have more credit cards in your life like American Express, Chase and Citibank, but just put them away and only use them for concerts.
  • Ticketmaster - If the concert is really a hot ticket, you have to act fast on your phone or computer. Ticketmaster is the largest ticket agency and be ready by having a Plan B like -
    The spinning wheel of death as the website is overwhelmed. Have both your computer and your phone logged into the site at the same time, and see which one hits first. It's weird, we've started with our phone or computer, and we haven't liked the "best seats" tickets presented. We then quickly switch to another device and low and behold we are offered better seats at the same price.
  • StubHub or Vivid - Third party ticket agencies will gouge you on price, but if you hear about a concert, later than sooner, sometimes you can find the seats you want and live with the price. Also, the artist may have their own lottery ticket plan (e.g. Mark Knopfler). We have not found this useful and just wastes time. If you want the tickets and venue, sometimes you just have to suck it up. Ironically, some of our best concert seats and experiences have been the Plan C of using StubHub or Vivid.
Direct Ticket Buy and Smaller Venues
  • In smaller venues, you can usually buy tickets over the phone with a human being. This is often preferable, because that person knows their venue and will usually get you the best seats for the price you can afford. The Belly Up in Solana Beach CA is a good example. The Belly Up often has general admission which is stand only. But, they do have upper loft reserved seating if you call the second the ticket sale date opens up for that show. 

The Venue
The more you go to concerts, you learn the venues you like and the ones that are not so hot. Sometimes, the venue is actually the #1 thing that gets you looking at whose coming to play there.
Balboa Theatre, San Diego CA
  • Overall, smaller venues are generally better than larger venues. You're always closer with a cheaper ticket price at a smaller venue. Smaller venues also give you an opportunity to see either rising stars or a star that doesn't have superstar status or just doesn't want to play arenas anymore (Jackson Browne comes to mind). Here are our best venue types rated 1-5.
           1. Performing Arts Center or Small Theater (Seating <500)
           2. Concert Hall or Large Theater (Seating < 3000)
           3. Amphitheater (Seating <5000)
           4. Arena (Seating < 18,000)
           5. Stadium (Seating from 30,000>)
  • Indoor venues are better than outdoor venues. You don't have to deal with the weather conditions, airplanes, ambulance noise, and general lower quality of sound. Parking is 90% better at or around indoor events.
  • Parking - Avoid parking structures if possible, unless you are super early and can park in level 1. Otherwise, it seems like it will take you as long to get out of the structure than the concert itself. If the concert venue is in a safe area, park several blocks away in a small pay lot (usually cheaper) with easy street to freeway access. In any event, plan your exit strategy.
  • Travel and Lodging - If you are traveling to another city for a concert, make it a small vacation and get a hotel room for the night. Get a hotel that is walking distance to the concert venue and enjoy a few extra drinks without driving responsibilities. We like to scout out a restaurant near the venue, park at the hotel or in a small pay lot, have drinks and dinner, and then walk to the concert and avoid the crush of cars. Remember, if you buy tickets say for a show or two in Las Vegas, get reservations for nearby restaurants at the same time. In Vegas, it's amazing how many restaurants are sold out months before the night of a big show because a lot of people have figured out to play this concert game.
  • Women's Purse or Handbag - For security reasons more and more venues are now limiting the size of a woman's purse. As a rule, we would suggest you just carry in what Mary Kit calls a small "clutch" purse. At one large stadium venue, they were making women get out of line and this caused a lot of panic, especially if your car is parked outside the venue, or you didn't even arrive by car! We saw one women take out the contents of her purse and throw her purse in the trash can. Anyway, Mary Kit is now ready for the security people with her clutch packed as full as humanly possible.
  • Sound Quality is important for the money we are all paying for tickets in 2019! If a building is notorious for "poor sound" it may not be worth the money. For example many older sports arenas like The Sports Arena in San Diego (now called Pechanga Arena) are not the best place to see a loud rock band because the sound will bounce off the walls. I went to see James Taylor at the SD Sports Arena a couple of years ago, and the sound was bouncing off the walls with the king of soft rock!
  • Aisle End Seating - If you can, try to get an aisle end seat if the venue is broken into sections like an arena, as this generally does not apply to older theater seating with long miles of aisles. With an aisle end seat, you simply have a few more options. One, the largest person in your party gets a little more leg room. 
  • Flat Level or Theater Seating with Little to No Slope - Stack chair seating is a drag because you feel like a can of packed sardines. Mary Kit is smaller than me and always takes one for the team by sitting next to my aisle end seat. If the venue has plastic stack chairs all tied together (like Humphries Concerts by the Bay in SD), and Mary Kit has someone encroaching on her space, I can lean one cheek over my aisle end seat and she can slide my way. Also the easy exit is a no brainer. 
  • Floor Seating at an Arena - Unless you are young or willing to stand for two-plus hours do not buy seats on the floor. Floor seating at an arena is for STANDING, it's a concert rule!
  • Off the floor at an Arena are in Tiered Sections. We have found if we can sit in a section just above the floor and somewhere in the middle of the arena, we can get a great view of the stage and actually see the band without always looking at the big screen. We just no longer buy tickets in the noise bleed upper level where the band members are dots that you have to watch on the big screen. If you have to watch a live show with a big screen TV the whole time, well there's your sign.
  • Large Party - If your party of concert goers is larger than four, we suggest buying a group of seats in two rows. This allows you to freely talk before the concert and not be all strung out in a long line.
Concert Etiquette - Things You Can and Can't Control
  • Most people attending concerts are wonderful people! We are all having a blast together, and the great majority of people attending concerts are well-behaved fans.
  • Be a good neighbor for the people on other side of you, in front of, or behind you. Sometimes if you strike up a little small talk especially with the people directly in front of you before the show, that will pay off big time once the concert starts.
  • If two or more people are talking non-stop during the concert, politely ask them to stop and listen to the show. Most of the time this works.
  • Drunks are the worst. Never raise your voice or act mad, that will only explode the situation. I had a guy a couple of seats from me in my row at a Fleetwood Mac concert in Las Vegas try to get the drunks in front of him to settle down, he took the tough guy approach and the fists started flying. If you're at a stadium show and you have drunks next to you, scout the seats around. Mary Kit and I were at an Eagles/Doobie Brothers Concert at Safeco Field in Seattle and the drunks two rows down from us were killing the show for all the good people around them. I spotted a number of empty seats in the next section to our right, and got up and we sat over there. Soon, about 10 neighbors from our previous seats came over to join us.
  • Scenario - We are in theater type seating where all the seats are fairly leveled with one another. We get settled in our seats with average sized people all around us. The two seats in front of us are open and we're hoping, hoping, damn here comes a 6' 4" dude and a gal with a cowboy hat and sits right in front of us! The place is packed and under the category of "things you can't control," you are leaning left and right all night. Several years ago I went to a Jackson Browne concert at Balboa Theatre in San Diego. Jackson finishes his first song and the house lights come up. I look to my right and a few rows over I see Bill Walton sitting and cheering. I'm thinking about the guy behind Bill, poor bastard. Most concerts are a clear unobstructed view. Overtime, I have learned to relax and try to go with the flow...
  • If you are at a Boomer concert where the star or band are in their 70's, the vast majority of people attending the show are 60+ years old themselves. What is really uncool is when the person, couple, or group stand in front of you for most of the concert. Remember, prolonged standing is for the people who have purchased floor seats and know what they are in for. Sitting in a tiered section at an arena is for sitting, and then with bursts of standing for the "big hit songs." Then, sit your ass back down, because the person behind may be using a cane and needs to sit back down. You don't want them to weaponize the cane...
  • Category - Things I Can't Comprehend. The guy way up in section ZZ 250 in the rafters who stands and videos the entire concert with his phone! Do not watch these horrible quality self-uploaded videos on YouTube, life is too short.
  • If you like to smoke pot and relive your Grateful Dead years at concerts, don't. Boomers often bring their children, and they in turn bring their children. I see whole generations of families having a wonderful time together at so many concerts. Hey it's 2019, marijuana is legal in most states I visit. Simply go to your local marijuana Dispensary and get some THC gummy edibles (and know your dosage level). So simple and you won't have to blow smoke and smell up your concert neighbors. Nothing worse than someone yelling at a pot smoker at a Neil Young concert (that just doesn't seem right), but I understand. A gray-haired woman did this a few rows up from us at the Santa Barbara Bowl and was vocal because her 10 year old granddaughter was with her. In 1971, this woman probably smoked joints herself with all her peers seeing Neil at the Fillmore West, but that was then, and now she's bringing a little one to see her hero.
Go See Younger Artists and Bands -
  • If you are a Boomer, your rock 'n' roll heroes are not getting any younger. Almost all of the rock gods I talked about in last week's blogs are in their 70's (Ringo turned 79 yesterday, Happy Birthday Ringo!) Go see the great classic acts now!
  •  But also, go see younger artists and current bands on the run. Mary Kit and I have enjoyed so many younger people making great music today. I'm not going to tell you who to see, that's your own taste and passion. Also, many young artists are on the rise and not filling up arenas, yet. Kacey Musgraves and Jason Isbell are two examples of people who have recent Grammy wins but are mainly filling up large theaters and concert halls. This is often the ideal time to see your new and current favorites in that more intimate setting.
The Benefits of a Live Show - 
  • Science Says Regularly Attending Concerts Makes You Happier - "An Australian study involving 1000 people has concluded that people who regularly go to concerts are happier with their lives overall than those who don't. Basically, the survey reports that people who went to any sort of communal musical event said they were pretty satisfied with their lot, on a bigger scale than those who didn't."  
  • If you are a younger person reading this blog, don't stop seeing concerts AD (After Debt) with your newer responsibilities with spouse, children, or mortgage, etc. 
  • Music keeps us young in mind and spirit. We have so many options to listen to recorded music today. My suggestion here is that you include going out and experiencing live music when you can, it just might save your life.
If you missed Part I of this blog series you can catch it here and read about the great generation of rock 'n' rollers born between 1940-1950 that not only remain relevant today, but you can still see live.

And like last week, no new playlist but just some of my all-time favs.

My 100 Songs

My Second 100 Songs