Monday, November 27, 2023

New Music and Documentary Monday • September - November, 2023

Boy, a day late and a dollar short here. I might be slippin' in my diligence to bring you the latest Americana and rock 'n' roll but what's a couple of months when my grandchildren look at this someday and think... we'll he'd been slippin' for years.

As usual, I don't have much to say about all the good new music here other than letting the shifting and sorting of putting together a respectable playlist represent the heavy-lifting in the last quarter of 2023. The Americana genre dominates my new music selections as that's were the talent lies these day. Yep, you're still waiting for the ghost of _____________ (fill in the blank) to turn up in a youthful form and spark the great rock 'n' roll revival of 2025. 

Now before you get to the playlist, here's a list of recent documentaries that I have watched and highly recommend as you plant yourself into some soft seating during the holidays. Speaking of which, don't miss my annual Christmas Mix 2023 next week, followed in the weeks ahead by My Favorite Songs of 1963, 1973, and 2023 to take us to the end of the year.

  • The Stones and Brian Jones  (Just released in theaters and rent on Amazon Prime $7.99) - Featuring candid interviews with the Rolling Stones and never-before-seen footage, this captivating documentary explores how Brian Jones, the genius founder of the greatest rock band in the world, was left behind in the shadows of history.

  • Born In Chicago (Amazon Prime)  - In 1960, a group of white teenage Chicago musicians traveled to the city's southside music clubs to learn the blues from the original masters. This is their story.

  • Tom Petty: Somewhere You Feel Free - The Making of Wildflowers (Amazon Prime) - In 2020, a collection of 16mm film was discovered of Tom Petty, capturing a prolific songwriting streak from 1993-95 making the album Wildflowers with producer Rick Rubin. Known for being reclusive about his personal life & creative process. The award winning & critically acclaimed, Somewhere You Feel Free is a candid & musically rich look into the legendary artist's creative genius.

  • David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived (HBO) - Gymnast David Holmes played Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double in the Harry Potter films until a tragic on-set accident left him paralyzed. With his life turned upside down, David's extraordinary spirit of resilience becomes a source of strength and inspiration to everyone around him. Featuring intimate interviews with David, Daniel Radcliffe, friends, family, and colleagues, David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived reflects on living with adversity, forging a new identity, and the bonds that bind us together and lift us up.

  • Albert Brooks: Defending My Life (HBO) - From stand-up to acting to writing and directing, Albert Brooks has been a major force in American comedy since the late 1960s. With testimonials from comedians, friends, family, and Brooks himself, Albert Brooks: Defending My Life explores the origins and evolution of Brooks’ career, the impetus for his creativity, and his enduring impact on comedy.

  • Stand Up & Shout: Songs From a Philly High School (HBO) - This heartfelt documentary follows a unique music program at Hill-Freedman World Academy that teaches students to write, compose, produce, and perform original songs. Together with local musicians, they create an album that captures the challenging times they’re living in and the joy that music brings. Stand Up & Shout: Songs From a Philly High School explores the transformative power of music and how arts education can be a source of hope and healing.

  • and coming in December - The Immediate Family - The Immediate Family is a unique group of iconic musicians who have played together for decades but never as their own band. Known for their long, illustrious careers backing up such Hall-of-Fame artists such as James Taylor, Keith Richards, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Stevie Nicks and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, guitarists Danny Kortchmar and Waddy Wachtel, drummer Russ Kunkel, and bassist Leland Sklar have come together, along with guitarist Steve Postell, to perform their own songs as The Immediate Family, a band that can legitimately be called a supergroup.

Enjoy the Playlist my friends! 

Monday, November 20, 2023

With the Beatles and JFK • November 22, 1963

Friday, November 22, 1963. I was an 8 year-old in third grade at Robert Bruce Elementary when our teacher told the class that our President, John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed. 

My searing memory of that day is that I had not cried like our teacher and many of my classmates. I remember getting home and immediately heading towards the bathroom. I closed and locked the door, put the toilet seat lid down and sat on it, bent over and put my hands to my face, and cried. 

I'm shedding a tear now as I write this, 60 years later as if it were yesterday. It is my first historical day as an American citizen and the anguish never goes away. Anyone who was old enough knows this day, in their heart and soul. We all share a similar story of where we were on the day Camelot died.

This past week, I watched National Geographic's three-part documentary,  JFK: One Day in America. It's also streaming on Disney+ and Hulu, so you can plan for this sobering sit down. I highly recommend this documentary on the 60th anniversary of that day that has been a yearly reminder to me since it happens to always be just before Thanksgiving. I don't remember Thanksgiving in 1963, but it was just six days later after the President had been killed. I'm sure the Thanksgiving prayer around the dinner table that year was a tearful hand-holding extended affair for most families.

Now as an 8 year-old I had no idea that another event happened on that same day, the release of The Beatles second album, With the Beatles. That in itself is not significant compared to the assassination of JFK, but just three months later, The Beatles would come to America on February 7, 1964. On February 9th, The Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan Show for the first time and gave a reeling nation a release of pure joy, and a spark to the healing process. 

The timing of these two juxtaposed events kicks off my experience of the 1960's. It makes me think of Pete Seeger's song taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes and made famous by The Byrds in 1965, Turn, Turn, Turn.

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

A time to kill, a time to heal. Assassination and Vietnam, baseball and rock 'n' roll. The Beatles had come to America and love was going to win over hate.

Enjoy the lad's second album, and their hit single, I Want to Hold Your Hand, released November 29, 1963, with the B-Side, I Saw Her Standing There.

Happy Thanksgiving my friends.

Monday, November 13, 2023

#BestSongIHeardToday • Volume 27 • I'm Free

There's the scene in the 1975 movie, Tommy where Roger Daltrey is running through a field of flowers in The Who song, I'm Free. This was the image I got immediately after breaking through a roadblock that had been holding me back for several months. So in celebration of all breakthroughs, I made this little eclectic playlist to be used in one's own imagination to create the inspiration to keep moving forward.

Enjoy the playlist my friends!

Monday, November 06, 2023

The Beatles • Now And Then • The Last Beatles Song

I watched the short film about the making of Now and Then when it came out last Wednesday, and I began to cry. Sad and happy tears all at once. Then, I cried when the song was released on Amazon Music this past Thursday, and then Friday morning at the Peter Jackson premier of his music video of the song.

"I realised we needed the imagination of every viewer to create their own personal moment of farewell to The Beatles." –Peter Jackson

If you're a Beatle fan, my God all the emotions, still now and all those years ago. 

If you haven't watched the short film yet, watch it first, then the video song. On Saturday, I created a playlist that you might like. 

Also, avoid reading any reviews of the song. This song was re-constructed from a homemade cassette tape recording of John's while living at the Dakota in New York City. Nobody's pretending it's Strawberry Fields Forever. It's the last little scrap of Beatles music with all four of the lads on a track together. Give it a little quiet respect.

What an unbelievable gift. 

Enjoy the playlist my friends.

  • The Beatles - Now And Then - The Last Beatles Song (Short Film) - Released on YouTube, 11/01/23
  • The Beatles - Now And Then (Music Video) - Released on YouTube, 11/03/23 that includes a B-Side with the 2023 remix of The Beatles 1962 first single, Love Me Do (but...with a music video substitution).

Not to mention a couple of other Johnny come lately tracks...

Thank you forever John, Paul, George, and Ringo!