Showing posts with label Fifty Years of Music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fifty Years of Music. Show all posts

Monday, October 16, 2023

Fifty Years of Music • October, 1973

October, 1973 is a monster month in rock 'n' roll. I've already featured three albums from this list of twelve shown above recently and decided to mix them all together and make a big ol' playlist this week. 

I always seem to surprise myself 50 years down the road, and this past week it was listening to Neil Young's Time Fades Away. This was the album that followed Harvest and it just became part of Young's succession of albums where he seemed not to care as much in making great records. Neil has a lot of personal history within this time period, so much so that this live album is not officially listed in his catalogue, and wasn't pressed as a CD until 2017. In my journey through the past this last week, I found Time Fades Away very satisfying. In a year, I'll give Neil's 1974 On The Beach, another try.

Two other gems, are Fleetwood Mac's Mystery to Me, and Dave Mason's It's Like You Never Left. I think I included every song from both albums here as the Brits just kept making great music.

Enjoy my friends, you've got a full week of listening enjoyment as I was personally having the time of my life with my girlfriend and into my first semester of college in October, 1973. 

Monday, January 16, 2023

Fifty Years of Music • January, 1973

In my Fifty Years of Music series I'm beginning to encounter months like January, 1973 where bands like Aerosmith emerge onto the scene and my jingle-jangle rock 'n' roll bands are fading. 

In going over all the albums released in January, 1973 and only the three above stick out. The Kinks album is basically a compilation of mostly unreleased songs so I added it because I'm such a Kinks fan. Since I'm talking about the Kinks first, I'll point out one song that is actually one of my favorite Kinks songs, the B-side to their 1966 hit single, Sunny Afternoon. So on the '73 compilation album, The Great Lost Kinks Album is a throw away The Kinks provided to Reprise Records to fulfill their contract before they moved over to RCA, Ray Davies includes that B-side single, I'm Not Like Everybody Else. Now instead of playing that version here, I'm going to play you a wonderful live version of the song recorded in 1996 and part of the 2 CD release in the U.S. called To The Bone.  I guess this paragraph makes my point, in looking for songs...

In January 1973, I'm back from Christmas break and ready to knock out four and a half months of my senior year in high school and get out of that place as soon as possible.

I won't know who Gram Parson is at that time, but his 1973 debut solo album is one of those harbinger albums that introduces Emmy Lou Harris on the scene and beats most of the Country music albums made at that time. Merle Haggard was going to produce this album, but backed out at the last minute, maybe he knew this was a change he couldn't be part of for whatever reason. Gram's flame would end up burning out way too fast with his death from an overdose of morphine and alcohol in September of 1973 at the tender age of 26. 

Let me just say, thank god for Elton John to emerge in the 1970's. His sixth album, Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player is his second straight Number 1 album. I have included the entire album here, but feel free to skip his big hits Daniel and Crocodile Rock if you suffer from their overplay or as I say, "Ruined by Radio." There's a lot of great songwriting here as Bernie and Reg are at the top of their game!

Also, as a departure from my usual mix of mixing all the songs from all the albums together, I'll play these first three featured albums here, and then add some other songs from January 1973 you may remember when rock was becoming not so young.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Fifty Years of Music • November, 1972

Monster month. That was my first thought as I scanned November, 1972 in Music in Wikipedia. No wonder why I'm writing this blog, I just can't believe the riches in music during that period. Listening to this collection of albums these past couple of days is a flood of emotion, nothing specific but an overwhelming sense of pure joy and happiness. I continue to marvel at the wonderful collection of artists born right after WWII. 

At seventeen, this music touched my soul. Whether it be in a car on the radio or purchasing one of these albums for around $3 dollars and change and coming home to listen to these vinyl gems in my bedroom.

On this Sunday morning, I see 90 songs in my playlist with nothing organized yet as I plot my purposeful randomness of curating a playlist. I have a quick thought about playing all the artists songs/albums in chronological order, some are whole albums. Then I think, but that would not be a Monday Monday Music Playlist. 

Note- I did make an exception here, Side Two of James Taylor's One Man Dog was left in place and ends the playlist this week. It would be kind of blasphemous to break it up, same as with the original inspiration of Side Two of Abbey Road.

So here's my shuffle- like a librarian already late for a date walking quickly and holding a neat stack of organized historical papers. Suddenly the librarian trips over his own feet falling as the papers scatter in the air softly landing all mixed up together on the floor. The librarian, thankful that nobody has seen the fall scrambles on his hands and knees quickly picking up the papers now sorted in a new stack by fate and a deadline. The librarian puts the papers on a shelf called, 'Historical Public Records' and heads off with no one seeing the haphazard accident and being none the wiser. Later, an older gentleman strolls into the library, somehow attracted to the title, Historical Public Records, sees the stack of ruffled papers and takes them over to a sofa chair in the corner of the library for a nice afternoon read.

Enjoy my friends!

Monday, October 24, 2022

#NewMusicMonday • October, 2022

Americanaas defined by the Americana Music Association (AMA), is contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band.

That use of a full electric band is basically taking the above definition of what is called "roots" music and literally plugging that into the amalgamation know as "rock 'n' roll."

Most of the playlist this month just fell into albums that lean towards folk with a funky bend to it. There, yet another blended-genre is formed, "Funky-Folk."

Enjoy the 80 song playlist including a few cuts from The Beatles new deluxe box set release of Revolver on October 28th!

Monday, September 19, 2022

Fifty Years of Music • September, 1972

Folk. The influence on our culture from its rebirth in the late 50's through the early 70's is profound. As I listened to albums released in September of 1972, I was struck by its sheer world-wide appeal and the talent of many to modernize folk and make top 10 hits from a genre they grew up with.

In America, you have the seemingly shy and unassuming folk musicians like John Denver and Seals and Crofts writing and performing big mainstream hits. Meanwhile, the UK mounts a second-wave invasion of sorts with artists like Cat Stevens, Sandy Denny (from Fairport Convention), and groups like The Pentangle, not to mention Jethro Tull, Genesis, Yes and a host of others taking the traditional English Folk genre and bending that into rock. In progressive rock, Yes releases Close to the Edge turning their back on the 2-3 minute hitmaker format, making continuous movements that take up the whole side of an album. AM radio dazed and confused needs FM to take over the progressive sides of blues and rock 'n' roll. 

Folk is roots music. Where ever you come from and no matter your taste in popular music, strands of folk are always there to bond a tune with its audience.

Note- I wanted to mention the passing of Jim Seals (79) this year (June, 6). For anyone growing up in the 1970's, the duo Seals and Crofts were very popular and very humble. In an ever growing environment of substance abuse destroying musicians lives and ultimately thinning the herd of quality rock 'n' roll in the 1970's, Seals and Crofts were well, a summer breeze. 

I also wanted to mention John Denver who was never really on my radar in high school. Like Glen Campbell and The Carpenters, I came to appreciate their music later. In about four years from now, I'll be writing specifically about 1976 and a summer camp I worked at for children with disabilities. Let me tell you, John Denver music was king around the campfire!

Enjoy my friends!

Monday, July 18, 2022

Fifty Years of Music • July, 1972

  • July 1 - 
    • U.S. actress Jane Fonda tours North Vietnam, during which she is photographed sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun.
    • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms becomes independent from the IRS. 
  • July 8 – The U.S. sells grain to the Soviet Union for $750 million.
  • July 11
    • The long anticipated chess match between world champion Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union, and United States champion Bobby Fischer, began in Iceland at Reykjavík.
  • July 10–14 – The Democratic National Convention meets in Miami Beach. Senator George McGovern, who backs the immediate and complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Vietnam, is nominated for president. He names fellow Senator Thomas Eagleton as his running mate.
  • July 18 – Anwar Sadat expels 20,000 Soviet advisors from Egypt.
  • July 21
    • Bloody Friday: 22 bombs planted by the Provisional IRA explode in Belfast, Northern Ireland; nine people are killed and 130 seriously injured.
    • Comedian George Carlin is arrested by Milwaukee police for public obscenity, for reciting his "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television" at Summerfest.
  • July 25 – U.S. health officials admit that African-Americans were used as guinea pigs in the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.
  • July 31 – The Troubles, Northern Ireland:
    • Claudy bombing ("Bloody Monday"), 10:00 AM: Three car bombs in Claudy, County Londonderry, kill nine. It becomes public knowledge only in 2010 that a local Catholic priest was an IRA officer believed to be involved in the bombings but his role was covered up by the authorities.
  • August 1 – U.S. Senator Thomas Eagleton, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, withdraws from the race after revealing he had been treated for mental illness.
From Wikipedia, 1972

In looking back to the events of July, 1972 as a 17 year-old, it's the first Presidential race where I had an introductory grasp of our nation's domestic and international politics. I had just completed my junior year in high school where I had taken a class titled, "International Relations" taught by History teacher and my freshmen football coach, Randy Enberg.

Up until that spring semester, I had only known the rather tall Mr. Enberg by his hunched over cranky demeanor on the practice field in the summer of '69, getting us ready for the fall season. Jeff Muro, who would later play linebacker for UCLA was our fullback. During practice one day he was carrying the ball through the line and hit me square in my chest with his helmet and drove me straight down on my back into the turf. Now that left an impression. Mr. Enberg just looked at me and said, "Well McIntosh, are you going to get up?"

A couple of years later, I meet a completely different man in the classroom as Mr. Enberg would start a discussion on a world topic and then let us freely discuss as students. He would essentially moderate and keep the conversation going. I loved it! For the second part of the semester, we did a research project where he guided us to independent study and we had to submit a paper with all our references to him a couple of weeks before school got out. 

I had handwritten my report, put it in a folder and for the life of me forgot where I put it! I had worked in the library like two weeks straight on this thing. I went to Mr. Enberg to tell him (like... my dog ate it) but decided to tell him the truth of how I just screwed up and lost it. He looked down at me like he had on that practice field a few years prior, and said, "Meet me after school in my class." Oh shit!

So I go to his classroom and he's sitting at his desk. He tells me to pull up a chair and looks at his notebook and says, "Your report was on Israel and Arab relations, correct?" I said, "Yes." Then he says, "Tell me what you learned." We spent the next 20 minutes or so talking about Israel becoming a nation after World War II and the hot button issues of religion and politics including American and the Soviet influence in the region. Mr. Enberg gave me a B for the class. 


Summer of 1972 has me buying Son of Schmilsson by Harry Nilsson and Trilogy by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. 

In listening to Son of Schmilsson after many years and a lot more knowledge of Harry Nilsson's life, I realize this is the beginning of the end. I loved this album as a kid, but you can kind of hear between the record grooves that all is not well, and the extremely talented Mr. Nilsson is kind of doing it here half-ass. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of good songs on this album, especially, Remember (Christmas) but you know he could have worked it a bit harder.

Trilogy by Emerson, Lake and Palmer is an album that I listened to a lot the year it came out. They really were at the forefront of progressive rock and got a lot of kids to listen to their reworks of the classics. 

I have never really been a Rod Stewart fan, but all these years later I can appreciate his band, Faces as the second-string to The Rolling Stones. I say that as a high compliment as Rod after he blew up the band a few years prior. He used all the guys from Faces to back him up on his albums in the early 70's when he became a huge star. Never a Dull Moment has me listening carefully to the very tight rock and roll of Ronnie Wood, Ronnie Lane, and Kenny Jones. In three years, Ronnie Wood would join the Rolling Stones and is still a band member today, and Kenny Jones would be the Who's drummer for a few years after Keith Moon died in 1978.

Enjoy the playlist my friends!

Monday, May 23, 2022

Fifty Years of Music • May, 1972

In America you get food to eat
Won't have to run through the jungle
And scuff up your feet
You just sing about Jesus and drink wine all day
It's great to be an American
–Sail Away, Randy Newman

So I was wondering when the streak would end?

Meaning, what month would I only have three albums to showcase as the header for this month fifty years ago. Typically, I can have between 6 and 10 albums that I feel are worthy as whole albums. Was this the month where the rock 'n' roll well started to lose water?

In 1972, The 60's were officially dead, not to mention Jimi, Janis, and Jim. The Beatles were no more. The Beach Boys were done, Bob Dylan was where? The original Byrds had long flown, Neil Young was embarking on making non-selling solo albums, CS&N were toast, Motown took the last train for the coast...

Yet, The Rolling Stones make their critically received Exile On Main St., an album I would appreciate much later but I'm sure for many, a 'stay calm and rock on' moment... we still have the Stones. Elton John has moved from the new kid in town into being a huge superstar, and Randy Newman ascends into 'American Treasure' songwriter status even though many people will only know him for his much later, Toy Story movie score.

These three albums are for me a perfect moment in rock 'n' roll time. 

The Stones are the 60's past but in 1972 are still making great rock 'n' roll and white boy blues. In the 70's, The Rolling Stones cement their 'best rock 'n' roll band of all time' title in that they are the band who lived for another day, then year, and as it's turned out decades... 60 years baby! 

After Brian Jones death in 1969, The Stones have only had two new members, guitarist Mick Taylor who lasted 5 years (1969-74) because he probably thought he'd be dead in another 5 years, and his replacement, Ronnie Wood (1975-present). The line up of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Ronnie Wood would remain the same until Charlie's death last year. And, they're still a band today adding all-star drummer Steve Jordan recently. Of all the bands in the world, nobody can deny their greatness and appreciate their sheer longevity in an industry that chews up bands and spits them out as sport. Not to mention most bands tendency to self-destruct once money, drugs and fame enter the picture. Long live The Rolling Stones.

Elton John represents the transition to 1970's rock 'n' roll. He with David Bowie become huge stars. In an odd way, Elton replaces Neil Young for me. Elton with Bernie Taupin are fantastic songwriters. He is also a great singer and entertainer, basically the whole package. Loggins & Messina replace the whole sorted mess with Crosby, Stills & Nash, then Young, then not any of them. James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Carol King and Linda Ronstadt continue to rise as great solo artists, and another big band is about to break out in my 50 years feature next month, the Eagles.

In 1972, Randy Newman is both the past and the present. He's steeped into an early 20th century songwriting style, becoming a timeless artist with a quirky voice who writes songs like Mark Twain wrote books. More importantly, he's a songwriter's songwriter. His influence with his peers and now a couple of generations is unmeasurable. Over the years he's had a few non-movie based hits, Short People and I Love LA come to mind, but I'll take songs like Dayton, Ohio - 1903. If there's one person to take in this week on the playlist, take him in, you've got a friend in Randy Newman.

Enjoy the playlist my friends.

Here is the YouTube Music app which is great for listening to this playlist on your phone. Click on the text link below.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Fifty Years of Music • February, 1972

February 1972 , I get down to the record shop to promptly purchase Neil Young's new album Harvest. It's got a great album graphic but I'll never forget the tactile textural feel of the recycled paper cover. Vinyl albums for me in the 1970's sometimes became a total sensory experience. Now in my opinion Harvest is a really good album, but not as great as his previous album in 1971, After The Gold Rush. Harvest would become the best selling album of 1972. 

The success of Harvest scares Neil, he's become too mainstream, too popular and promptly retreats into making non-commercial albums for many years thereafter.

Sometime in 1972, I visit my friend Paul Hobbs as he wants me to listen to Todd Rundgren's new double album, Something/Anything? We both love it! In 2003, the album was ranked number 173 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

The success of Something / Anything? apparently scares Todd too. He's become too mainstream, too popular and promptly retreats into making non-commercial albums for many years thereafter.

What the f***?

Paul, I guess we were just two young and stupid consumer capitalists feeding the corporate record gods. Geez and 1972 was a good music year too... but not as great as 1971...

1972 is a continuation from the late 60's of all these wonderful bands just falling apart and members making solo albums or forming new splinter bands. This past week, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Hot Tuna, the break-off project of Jefferson Airplane's members Jorma Kaukonen (guitarist/vocals) and Jack Casady (bassist). I also enjoyed Traffic's Dave Mason and Jim Capaldi's solo albums. But that lead me down the path of 'what if' these bands had just stayed together and made better albums together with their mothership bands. I guess it was just 'too soon' at the time with my break-up traumas of The Beatles and CSNY. Hell, I still haven't gotten over that, not to mention the late 60's break-ups of Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, and The Mamas & The Papas.


Speaking of  The Beatles and 1972, let's finish this installment with my recommendation to watch Good Ol' Freda. (Here is the link on Amazon Prime.) This is a 2013 documentary about The Beatles secretary, Freda Kelly hired by Brian Epstein when she was only 17 years old. She was also the The Beatles fan club president and worked for them from 1962-1972. I came upon it the other night and thought it was fantastic.

Enjoy the playlist my friends!

Monday, January 24, 2022

Fifty Years of Music • January, 1972

The future hides and the past just slides, England lies between
Floating in a silver mist, so cold and so clean
California's shaking like an angry child will
Who has asked for love and is unanswered still
from Something Fine by Jackson Browne

The California sound is evolving in January, 1972. The terms 'folk rock' and 'country rock' are promoted by record companies and radio stations riding the next wave. The artists themselves hate these sub-genre terms as the money vise works to squeeze them into neat AM/FM formats and the integration of my childhood 60's pop – the mixed airplay of rock 'n' roll, country, blues and R&B moves into separate silos across the radio dial.

Now as a teenager, all the record companies have mostly moved to Los Angeles as movies and music begin to merge into mega-media corporations. The end of my rock 'n' roll innocence is not yet realized at the time. 

More folk-country-rock musicians like Jackson Browne continue to emerge on the national stage and continue the trend of singer-songwriters making their own hit records. With the release of his first album, Jackson Browne as an LA native and known to many within the music business for his songwriting (since he was 16), instantly joins the top-tier class of singer-songwriters in Los Angeles. January 1972, also gives us Paul Simon's wonderful debut solo album and my record collection starts to grow – funded by doing a variety of janitorial jobs around town. 

Linda Ronstadt releases her self-titled third solo album and is just about a year away from hitting the big time herself as she will start working with James Taylor's producer/manager, and former Peter & Gordon 60's pop star, Peter Asher.  

LA is a beacon for music and I'm in a sleepy town just 2 1/2 hours north that's ready to wake up with a new crop of teenagers anxious to hear the blend of acoustic and electric guitars on records and in concerts.

I'm a junior in January '72, starting to see the light at the end of the high school tunnel. I've been doing a part-time janitorial job at a heavy-duty diesel truck repair shop for about a year now. I clean a place where thick grease is manufactured by the minute, traveling from the trucks to the shop's cement floors to work boots, and then to tile floors in the offices and lunchroom. I still have a vivid image of cleaning and mopping the lunch room tile floor just to walk back by that room five minutes later to see a fresh trail of black grease Vibram® soles tracks leading to and from the vending machines. Who in God's name puts white linoleum tile in a diesel truck repair shop?

I also did other jobs around the shop basically located in an open field that was farming land just a few years prior. Anyway, I had to often clear weeds around the property. My friend, Paul Hobbs who lived nearby would sometimes see me working outside as he rode his bike over the US 101 freeway overpass. Paul and I would talk until I got skittish about my boss seeing us talking and I would suddenly tell him he had to leave. C'mon Doug?

I remember my boss unloading a huge but old rototiller for me to clear a section of weeds to add some plant landscaping. Everything was going fine until the rototiller started smoking something fierce and suddenly froze and died. I had one of the mechanics come out to see what was wrong, and he started laughing when he discovered our boss had failed to add oil and ruined the motor! That was a good one for him to tell the crew in the shop and make fun of the boss. The shop of mechanics were good ol' boys where no one was spared the butt-end of a joke or prank. I learned a few things in my time there... and yes, to always check the oil level in my future cars. On one occasion, the men closed the shop early one Friday and I was invited as a special guest to watch my first porn film on a 16mm reel to reel projector and screen in the back of the Parts Department with the guys. 

At some point in my junior year, I got another janitorial job by a guy at my church to work at his cleaning business. I remember cleaning a data processing building that had rooms filled with large rectangular metal machines with windows of reel to reel tape. At the time, I didn't even know these were early computer storage systems. I would later have a long career as an educational technology teacher in San Diego.

Now these cleaning jobs were boring as hell and I would often invite friends to tag along as a talking buddy. I started inviting a friend from my church, Jeff McGill to come and kill time with me at John Deere and the Toyota dealership on West Main. Unbeknownst to me, my boss was tailing me and warned me if I kept bringing friends along, he would fire me. I think I was at the Toyota dealership with Jeff, when in comes my boss and fires me on the spot. Jeff felt bad, but he did me a big favor as I hated that job.

A year later as a senior in high school, my friend Bill DeVoe and I got a janitorial/gardening contract to clean and maintain our church, Grace Baptist Church on West Alvin and Lincoln in Santa Maria. I remember we made a presentation to the Board of Deacons at the church and beat out an adult church member who just happened to be, my former boss with the cleaning business. Oh lordy lordy that was a bit of Instant Karma and Oh Happy Day!

Monday, November 08, 2021

Fifty Years of Music • November, 1971

1971 has been often critiqued as the best year in rock 'n' roll. If you've been following my Fifty Years of Music series this year, it's hard to argue with that statement, and this month is one of those monster months in music history that delivered iconic albums and songs. 

I spent more time listening than writing this past week which made me think that for rock 'n' roll fans in 2021, we probably would have died and gone to heaven with these caliber of songs spread over a current year must less 30 days.

So let's get right to it with this impressive group of albums released in November, 1971 just in time for the holiday shopping season with our boys still fighting in Vietnam. 

Playlist of 129 Songs from Albums Released 11/71

  1. Nilsson Schmilsson, Harry Nilsson (Entire Album)
  2. Madman Across The Water, Elton John (Entire Album)
  3. Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin (Entire Album)
  4. Year of Sunday, Seals and Crofts (Entire Album)
  5. Gonna Take A Miracle, Laura Nyro (Entire Album)
  6. The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys, Traffic (Entire Album)
  7. Fragile, Yes
  8. Anticipation, Carly Simon
  9. Nursery Cryme, Genesis
  10. Quiet Fire, Roberta Flack
  11. A Nod Is Good As A Wink... To A Blind Horse, Faces
  12. Sunfighter, Paul Kanter and Grace Slick
  13. I Wrote A Simple Song, Billy Preston
  14. Aerie, John Denver
  15. Bonnie Raitt, Bonnie Raitt
  16. Farther Along, The Byrds
  17. Asylum Choir II, Leon Russell and Marc Benno
  18. 'Nuff Said, Ike and Tina Turner
  19. Deuce, Rory Gallagher
  20. Pictures At An Exhibition, Emerson, Lake and Palmer
  21. There's A Riot Goin' On, Sly and the Family Stone
  22. Liv, Livingston Taylor
  23. The Inner Mounting Flame, Mahavishnu Orchestra
  24. Good and Dusty, The Youngbloods
  25. Flowers of Evil, Mountain

Monday, September 20, 2021

Fifty Years of Music • September, 1971

When a big album like John Lennon's Imagine hits the fifty-year mark, there's a fair amount of press to celebrate the occasion. I've decided to just include it here in the fraternity of September, 1971 albums that take us back to a great year in rock 'n' roll. 

The song, Imagine was John's biggest single as a solo artist reaching #3 on the Billboard charts. It also took off again after his death in 1980, and for me, made my list of Great Songs Ruined By Radio in its continual overplay as one's mind rebels to the satiation. How can something once so lovely slowly torture the listener to sadly change the dial, or today hit the 'Skip' button .

Last year, JOHN LENNON. GIMME SOME TRUTH. THE ULTIMATE MIXES was released. This past week, I watched the Imagine, Ultimate Mix (2020) video of John and Yoko filmed at their Tittenhurst Park English country estate. It struck me that the verse-

Imagine, Ultimate Mix (2020) image capture
Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can 
No need for greed or hunger - a brotherhood of man 
Imagine all the people sharing all the world...

was just a tad over the top when juxtaposed with the video of the loving couple's walk up to Tittenhurst's spacious white mansion. Okay my cynicism aside, what got my attention about the video was John singing directly into the camera, communicating his message to all of us. It's like only 26 seconds of the video, but it was stunningly fabulous! During the video shoot, someone should have suggested, "a little more John at the piano?"

In the Imagine, Ultimate Mix (2020) liner notes description, I do like John's later words giving credit to Yoko for their collaboration on the song.

John: ‘Imagine’ was inspired by Yoko’s Grapefruit [Book]. There’s a lot of pieces in it saying like ‘Imagine this’ or ‘Imagine that’. If you get a copy of Grapefruit and look through, you’ll see where I was influenced by her. ‘Imagine’ could never have been written without her. And I know she helped on a lot of the lyrics but I wasn’t man enough to let her have credit for it. So that song was actually written by John & Yoko, but I was still selfish enough and unaware enough to take her contribution without acknowledging it. The song itself expresses what I’d learned through being with Yoko and my own feelings on it. It should really have said ‘Lennon/Ono’ on that song, because she contributed a lot of that song.

In the playlist this week, I end with the beginning in the sense that the people doing John's archives found the 'original demo' tape of Imagine and it was released in 2018. I especially love Beatle demo's because they are just as brilliant in their raw form. Here's the video liner notes on the demo.

While sifting through boxes upon boxes of the original tapes for Yoko Ono, engineer Rob Stevens discovered something truly remarkable that had gone unnoticed all these years. “Early 2016, during the gestation period of this project, I'm in the Lennon archives with my people going through tape boxes that have labeling that's unclear, misleading, or missing entirely”, says Stevens. “There's a one-inch eight-track that says nothing more on the 'Ascot Sound' label than John Lennon, the date, and the engineer (Phil McDonald), with DEMO on the spine. No indication of what material was on the tape. One delicate transfer to digital later, the “Imagine” demo, subsequently enhanced superbly by Paul Hicks, appears within this comprehensive set. It was true serendipity.”

I love this original demo and the video with just the animated clouds, and hey this version is not played on the radio. Also, check out the 2018 Documentary, John & Yoko: Above Us Only Sky on Netflix. 

Another big album in 1971 was John Prine's debut album,
John Prine. It actually wasn't so big when released but over time like the man himself became a classic for all time. Rolling Stone magazine had it ranked last year in their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time at 149. Prine himself has always been uncomfortable about the recording of John Prine as he said, "I was terrified. I went straight from playing by myself, still learning how to sing, to playing with Elvis Presley's rhythm section." (Wikipedia). I do sense a little tenseness in his voice in this first recording as later recorded versions bring out John's comfort and joy in performing his folksy masterpieces. He also shared his displeasure in an interview with the hokey country photo shoot.

"I had never seen a bale of hay in my life! I tried to explain that to Jim Marshall when he took the picture in his studio in San Francisco. We were making small talk when a pickup truck arrives with three bales of hay. He said, “I’m gonna do a head shot of you and the straw will make an interesting background.” Next thing I know it’s about five days before the album comes out and I’m at the record company in New York and I saw the cover photo, and there I am sitting on a bale of hay. And I pipe up that while I like country music, this looks like “Hee-Haw.” But it was too late to change it, and I’ve been making up for it ever since. (

Bob Dylan's quote at John Prine's passing in 2020 has always stuck with me and seems a good time to bring it out on the 50th anniversary of just a remarkable album of songwriting. "Prine's stuff is pure Proustian existentialism. Midwestern mindtrips to the nth degree."

The writer, Patrick Doyle has stated, "John Prine is the Mark Twain of songwriting." 

For me, John Prine the album is just a variation of the great American novel. Here's some selected lyrics I have picked from each song on the album, a masterpiece of Americana songwriting. 

Illegal Smile
When I woke up this morning, things were lookin' bad
Seem like total silence was the only friend I had
Bowl of oatmeal tried to stare me down, and won
And it was twelve o'clock before I realized
I was havin' no fun

Spanish Pipe dream
She was a level-headed dancer
On the road to alcohol
And I was just a soldier on my way to Montreal

Hello in There
Me and Loretta, we don't talk much more
She sits and stares through the back door screen
And all the news just repeats itself
Like some forgotten dream that we've both seen
Someday I'll go and call up Rudy
We worked together at the factory
But what could I say if he asks "What's new?"
"Nothing, what's with you? Nothing much to do"

You know that old trees just grow stronger
And old rivers grow wilder every day
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, "Hello in there, hello"

So if you're walking down the street sometime
And spot some hollow ancient eyes
Please don't just pass 'em by and stare
As if you didn't care, say, "Hello in there, hello"

Sam Stone
Sam Stone came home
To his wife and family
After serving in the conflict overseas
And the time that he served
Had shattered all his nerves
And left a little shrapnel in his knees
But the morphine eased the pain
And the grass grew round his brain
And gave him all the confidence he lacked
With a purple heart and a monkey on his back

There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes
Jesus Christ died for nothin' I suppose
Little pitchers have big ears
Don't stop to count the years
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios

Then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.

And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away

Pretty Good
I heard Allah and Buddha were singing at the Savior's feast
And up in the sky an Arabian rabbi
Fed Quaker Oats to a priest
Pretty good, not bad, they can't complain
'Cause actually all them gods are just about the same

Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore
While digesting Reader's Digest
In the back of a dirty book store,
A plastic flag, with gum on the back,
Fell out on the floor.
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside
Slapped it on my window shield,
And if I could see old Betsy Ross
I'd tell her how good I feel.

But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
They're already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for,
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.

Far From Me
Well, I started the engine
And I gave it some gas
And Cathy was closing her purse
Well, we hadn't gone far in my beat old car
And I was prepared for the worst.
"Will you still see me tomorrow?"
"No, I got too much to do"
Well, a question ain't really a question
If you know the answer too

Angel From Montgomery 
I am an old woman
Named after my mother
My old man is another
Child who's grown old

If dreams were lightning
And thunder were desire
This old house would've burned down
A long time ago

Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin'
Is just a hard way to go

Quiet Man
Last Monday night I saw a fight
Between Wednesday and Thursday over Saturday night
Tuesday asked me what was going on, I said
"Sunday's in the meadow and Friday's in the corn"

Donald and Lydia
Small town, bright lights, Saturday night,
Pinballs and pool halls flashing their lights.
Making change behind the counter in a penny arcade
Sat the fat girl daughter of Virginia and Ray

Lydia hid her thoughts like a cat
Behind her small eyes sunk deep in her fat.
She read romance magazines up in her room
And felt just like Sunday on Saturday afternoon.

But dreaming just comes natural
Like the first breath from a baby,
Like sunshine feeding daisies,
Like the love hidden deep in your heart.

Bunk beds, shaved heads, Saturday night,
A warehouse of strangers with sixty watt lights.
Staring through the ceiling, just wanting to be
Lay one of too many, a young PFC:
There were spaces between Donald and whatever he said.
Strangers had forced him to live in his head.
He envisioned the details of romantic scenes
After midnight in the stillness of the barracks latrine.
Hot love, cold love, no love at all.
A portrait of guilt is hung on the wall.
Nothing is wrong, nothing is right.
Donald and Lydia made love that night.

The made love in the mountains, they made love in the streams,
They made love in the valleys, they made love in their dreams.
But when they were finished there was nothing to say,
'cause mostly they made love from ten miles away.

Six O'Clock News
Wanda had a baby in 1951
The father was stranger and a stranger was the son
Call that child James Lewis, call these rooms a home
Changing all them diapers, polish all that chrome

Flashback Blues
While window shopping through the past
I ran across a looking glass
Reflecting moments remaining in a burned out light
Tragic magic prayers of passion
Stay the same through changing fashions
They freeze my mind like water on a winter's night

Spent most of my youth
Out hobo cruising
And all I got for proof
Is rocks in my pockets and dirt in my shoes
So goodbye nonbeliever
Don't you know that I hate to leave here
So long babe, I got the flashback blues.


Albums Featured in the September, 1971 Playlist

  1. Imagine, John Lennon
  2. John Prine, John Prine
  3. Cahoots, The Band
  4. Electric Warrior, T. Rex
  5. Welcome to the Canteen (Live), Traffic
  6. From The Inside, Poco
  7. Future Games, Fleetwood Mac
  8. Santana III, Santana
  9. Aereo-Plain, John Hartford
  10. Bark, Jefferson Airplane

Monday, April 19, 2021

Fifty Years of Music • April, 1971

The last couple of weeks I've featured two entire albums from April 1971, James Taylor's Mudslide Slim and the Blue Horizon, and the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers. A complete album feature is often the kiss of death in terms of people hitting the blog post and/or sampling the playlist. I did take a drop in the hit count these past couple of weeks, but for 1971 we are still very much in the sweet spot of the classic generation of the rock 'n' roll era, and I plan on featuring more entire albums in the months ahead from fifty years ago, and the continual roll in time. 

April, 1971 also featured fine albums from John Denver, The Doors, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, John Sebastian, James Gang, and CSNY. 

Palomar Observatory, photo source- hikespeak
John Denver's Poems, Prayers & Promises was not on my hit parade in 1971, but by the time I became
a summer camp counselor for individuals with disabilities in 1976 at Camp-A-Lot on Palomar Mountain, John Denver was in heavy rotation at the campfire sing-alongs. I'm tripping back right now to a memory of friend Mark Hunter playing and singing Sunshine On My Shoulders with the band of acoustic playing counselors while a beautiful young camp counselor named Kim provided sign language with a ton of good vibes interpretation.

I believe in the summer of 1977, John Denver did in fact visit the Palomar Observatory for a television special he was filming that featured some of our campers from Camp-A-Lot, and a dream come true for many of them to see and interact with him on that day... take me home country roads.

Where's The Money (1971) is another album that didn't register for me until the summer of 1973 when I started dating a special girl who turned me on to the very funky and funny swing band, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. She had all of Dan's albums, with one of my favorite songs ever... How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away? 

In 2014, I reconnected with music in a big way after years of doing the day job career thing. That special girl and I wanted to start going to concerts again, and she found out online that Dan Hicks would be performing just north of San Diego, in Escondido. We hopped at the chance and got tickets right away, as this was to be our first concert together after many years. Shortly after, we found out the show had been cancelled as Dan had developed both lung and liver cancer. Dan Hicks died in 2016, and we didn't get that chance to see him live. I'm sure his many fans miss him dearly, and I never skip his songs when one comes on during a run.

This past week I also enjoyed listening to John Sebastian'sCheapo-Cheapo Productions Presents Real Live John Sebastian (1971). Like Dan Hicks, Sebastian's a good musician and terrific entertainer who puts a smile on all who listen to his records or see him live. John Sebastian, born in 1944 and raised in Greenwich Village grew up in what would be the epicenter for folk music in the early 60's and is part of the folk and rock 'n' rollers that influenced a generation, and... a younger girl keeps rollin' 'cross my mind.

Enjoy my friends, stay well, and mask-up!

Monday, April 12, 2021

Fifty Years of Music • Sticky Fingers

Opting for the above promo photo shoot for the Rolling Stones 1971 album, Sticky Fingers is probably the better decision than blowing up the Andy Warhol designed album cover.

By 1971, 'The Stones' weren't holding anything back with the new album title and cover photo, and were certainly living up to the band's shortened name. 

As iconic as the Sticky Fingers cover was with its functional zipper the bad boys of rock had just left their record label Decca and Mick wanted a new logo for their own record label.

A London artist, John Pasche who had done some poster work for the band, created the lips and tongue logo over a weekend for 50 pounds (around $76). The logo was first introduced as the inside cover sleeve of Sticky Fingers and has now gone on to be the band's logo for fifty years. The tongue and lips graphic is in fact the most famous of all band logos, if not one of the most recognized icons used on t-shirts and promotion products around the world.

The logo pictured above was used to commemorate the band's 50 Year Anniversary in 2012, and works well here for the 50th year of Sticky Fingers, a masterful album full of hits with new bandmate Mick Taylor aboard for his first full-time studio Stone's album.

Here's the complete Sticky Fingers with a couple alternate tracks including my mix from the Sticky Fingers Deluxe and Super Deluxe Editions of live tracks in 1971 as your must listen to playlist this week to get you rolling.

Enjoy my friends, stay well, and zip-up!

Monday, April 05, 2021

Fifty Years of Music • Mudslide Slim and the Blue Horizon

My first thought after looking at James Taylor's third album, Mudslide Slim and the Blue Horizon was, is James wearing the same blue shirt as his second album, Sweet Baby James? After examination, they're two different shirts, but wait a minute, yes he's wearing another blue shirt on his fourth album, One Man Dog.

What's my point? I don't really have one. You've just got to love the simplicity that is James Taylor and maybe his fondness for the color blue. During this time in James' life, he was going with Joni Mitchell as she sings backup vocals on three Mudslide Slim songs. I've always loved their voices together. In June of 1971, Joni would release her now revered album, Blue, so maybe a theme was developing.

Here's a 1970 live version of You Can Close Your Eyes, a song James wrote for Joni, where they did a couple of shows together in Europe. Man, what I would have given to have been there. I've always loved this version as a duet with two of the best of all-time during this magical time of acoustic music.

Here's a great story by James about being with Joni Mitchell.

Here's a video by Peter Asher about the making of Mudslide Slim.

Enjoy my friends, stay well and mask-up. 
And, here is Mudslide Slim and the Blue Horizon, released in April, 1971.