Showing posts with label Frank Sinatra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Frank Sinatra. Show all posts

Monday, March 30, 2020

50 Years of Music • January - March, 1970

50 Years of Music Series • 1970
January - March | April - May

Simon and Garfunkel at the 1971 13th Annual Grammy Awards | Bettmann/Getty Images
Something old, something new... part of the good luck tradition for a bride on her wedding day. In the past several months I haven't seen any brides floating about, but thought I'd borrow the expression.

Three weeks ago, I put together a playlist of "something new" music releases from January-March, 2020 thinking that might be popular with so many people home and online. It wasn't a dud but maybe not the #ComfortSongs to go along with maybe some of the #ComfortFoods you've been wanting or having at your #StayatHome. By the way, has cooking made a comeback at your house too?

Last week, I put together the 50th anniversary of CSN&Y's Déjà vu album, and Joni Mitchell's Ladies of the Canyon, and that got a pretty good bump of blog hits coming in. With that in mind, I'll continue the "something old" theme by highlighting albums released from January - March from 1970. It's an amazing collection of albums and the number of great songs within those albums are truly impressive.

Here are a few thoughts I strung together while putting this 100+ Playlist together derived from my Wikipedia source, 1970 in music.

I'll start with the Grammy album of the year for 1970,
Bridge over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel. What's not to like on this entire album. If I have to pick one to start off the playlist, I'm going with Cecilia an all-time favorite which also reminds me of a quick story growing up in a Baptist Church. I remember when Love The One You're With was a hit by Stephen Stills in late 1970 and a girl in my youth group commented to me, "I just can't stand these dirty songs like Cecilia and Love The One You're With." About a year later, I came up to her at church and said, "Guess you'll have to add Change Partners to your dirty songs list."

The Magic Christian was a February 1970 movie starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr. The soundtrack, Magic Christian Music is by the band Badfinger and features their first big hit written and produced by Paul McCartney, Come and Get It. I thought this was going to be a quick skip-through album, but I kept saying to myself, "wait a minute, this one's good...this one's good" and so on. Like so many albums I discover fifty years after their release, Magic Christian Music's a gem from a truly great band as most people only know their hits.

Last week I watched a 2011 documentary about George Martin (the 5th Beatle) on Amazon Prime called, Produced by George Martin (link here) that I highly recommend. George Martin produced Ringo's first solo album, Sentimental Journey and the two make a great team doing a complete album of "standards" that had not had been attempted by any rock star until Ringo did it. Ringo has always been maligned by the press over the years, but now most critics say he's not only a great drummer but a very good singer to boot. Listen to Ringo sing Night and Day by Cole Porter.

When I was fifteen, I would have never have listened to Frank Sinatra's Watertown, much less Ringo's Sentimental Journey. In Watertown, Sinatra takes a 1970 ride on the singer-songwriter wave with a themed-based album.  All the songs were written by the same team of  Bob Gaudio and Jake Holmes which is something Frank had never done before. This indeed was a risky move as Watertown was Frank's worst selling album, but the critics loved it and I think it's a wonderful album too. It's a heartbreaking tale of a wife who leaves her husband and two children searching for stardom. Make sure you listen to, The Train.

If I didn't mention the band Mountain here, I'd probably get a concerning phone call from my old friend and childhood next door neighbor Ron Zieman wondering if I lost my mind. Ron introduced me to the best "heavy" rock bands over the years starting with Cream. Felix Pappalardi who produced some of Cream's albums started Mountain with Leslie West and their first album Climbing climbed the charts with their big hit, Mississippi QueenWhen the group proceeded to record "Mississippi Queen", Pappalardi insisted on numerous takes. Growing weary, Corky Laing the drummer started using the cowbell to count off the song. Pappalardi liked it so much he left it in the mix, creating the song's recognizable intro (Wikipedia). And as Christopher Walken would say, "More Cowbell."

Moondance is simply one of the greatest albums of all time. As a teenager I really didn't appreciate Van Morrison until I got to San Diego State and started rooming with my buddy Mark Hunter. Mark was from Millbrae CA, just south of San Francisco and if you're from the Bay Area you know "Van the man." Every song on this album is fantastic. In the last several years, I've really taken a deeper dive into his music and loved seeing him in Las Vegas in February. Check out Into the Mystic, this song is right up there...

The personnel on Leon Russell's debut album is largely a who's who of rock 'n' roll royalty, not to mention half of England. Again, so many great songs on this album including the all-time, "A Song for You", written by Russell, is a slow, pained plea for forgiveness and understanding from an estranged lover, the tune is one of Russell's best-known compositions. It has been performed and recorded by over 200 artists, spanning many musical genres. Elton John has called the song an American classic (Wikipedia).

I purchased Nilsson Sings Newman in a used record shop after Harry Nilsson become really famous with his 1971 album, Nilsson Schmilsson. Again, this album is filled with great songs. Both albums followed me to college and I listened to them often in my dorm room and then in a series of forgettable apartments. In fact in my first forgettable apartment, my complete stereo system was stolen (a high school graduation present) with Harry Nilsson's 1974 Pussy Cats album on the turntable. I'll never forget coming home, opening the door and seeing a large empty space where the stereo system used to be with now the Pussy Cats empty album jacket laying in its place. My first thought was F***!!!!!, then I thought, well Pussy Cats was not Harry's finest hour on vinyl. But as long as I'm talking today about great "standards" albums like Sentimental Journey and Watertown today, check out Nilsson's 1973 A Touch of Schmilsson in the Night, a classic and one of Harry's finest hours.

Mary Kit says to me, "108 videos this week, man you must have some spare time..."

Monday, March 25, 2019

50 Years of Music, March 1969

In March, 1969 I turned a restless and inexperienced 14 years old. I lived in a small town looking at the peace and love counter-culture from the outside, wanting in.

The March entry for Wikipedia's 1969 in Music is a great panoramic snapshot of what would make popular AM radio to the new hip bands from America and England finding their way to the FM side.

From that counter-culture side, you have bands recording nine minute jams and I'm just dreaming myself into the live Fillmore West scene in San Francisco.

On the pop side, I was a big fan of Dusty Springfield, and her Dusty in Memphis is such a knock out classic that I've featured it here in the playlist as my personal favorite of this grouping of albums.

As always, I've tried to put together a little eclectic mix and hope you enjoy the ride of March '69.

Monday, February 13, 2017

My Funny (unconventional) Valentine

The original 1937 My Funny Valentine song was staged in the Broadway musical, Babes in Arms as a woman singing to a man. However, many males from Frank Sinatra, Chet Baker to Sting have sung this song, but listen to the lyrics as I don't think it plays so well in 2017. If you're going to play a tune like this to your love, I would suggest, Just The Way You Are by Billy Joel.

In this next video, you'll see my point exactly from my comments above...

Dan Hicks, the master of satirical country swing. MK played me a couple of Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks albums on our first dates together in 1973 and I guess from my positive reaction, we were meant to be. Dan, you are missed!

Stephen Stills gave us all permission to not be so faithful. I guess this one came to him based on his experience with drugs, sex and rock n' roll.

But Simon and Garfunkel gave the ladies an all is fair in love with this one.

Now for some wedding musical comedy.

And, from marriage often comes the babies in the carriage.

Hey, this Valentine's myth is just getting old and the pressure that we all have to be coupled to preserve some religious plan, screw that.

Can't have enough Dan Hicks today!

Don't got it all figured out? Kacey says you're in good company.

Here's a fun love story song.

and maybe this is how the whole thing goes down in time.

Damn it Paul McCartney, you made me hum this song until I finally caved over the years and liked it! I'll let Kurt Hummel and Glee take us out with this one.

Here's My Funny (unconventional) Valentine Playlist.
Note - For some reason my Playlist would not embed in my blog this week, so I have broken them out in individual videos today.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Viva Lost Wages

Writing Sunday morning at 5:45 am in the Las Vegas Airport. My head is remarkably clear but my stomach is now saying, "dude, what in the hell have you been putting in me for the past 4 days!" I'm not eating anything on this plane ride back to San Diego that's for sure. Anyway, I'm popping Altoids to settle things down so let's talk Vegas, history and music as I'm hearing country pop piped in from the ceiling.

For me, Las Vegas is always a fish out of water experience as I land here and start my little venture with wall to wall people from all over the world, coming to have a little fun in sin city. This trip included my sister Stephanie, her husband Roger and my lovely wife Mary Kit. My daughter Shawna
Beatles Play a Slot Machinerecommended that we see the Mob Museum located in the historic federal courthouse and U.S Post Office building. It was fantastic! You've got to do this on your next visit here as it will not disappoint. By the way if you're ever in Memphis, you must also see the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel (site of Martin Luther King's assassination). For Boomers, both museums let you travel through our parents and our own generation's history either directly experienced or connected through conversation, books, news, television and the movies. You get little mental flashbacks of yes I remember that and lots of new info too. I didn't realize for example that the Beatles were scheduled to play at the Sahara Hotel on their 1964 tour, but with the overwhelming response the two shows had to be moved to the Las Vegas Convention Center to hold at least 8,000 screaming fans. The mafia ruled the town back then with a lot of other interesting people who made this place America's playground. It got me thinking about being born in the 1950's. We landed right in the middle of the 20th century and I think it gives many of us an unique perspective on life. For example, we know a lot of things about The Great Depression and World War II even though we weren't there. We know who Moms Mably was and are interested in Frank Sinatra (see new HBO documentary) and the Rat Pack  all the while streaming new digital music to our smartphones. We experienced the middle and end of the industrial age, created the digital age and will carry that probably to some middle stage before we check out. I just hope this perspective can be valued a little more as we get older because we have something to share to young people about our times here. We were good listeners.

Well now, back to Vegas 2015. The low cost hotel rates and meal days are long gone here and you're just going to have to shell out some cash from your savings if fun is on your agenda. The only thing that's the same and eerily nostalgic about Las Vegas is the deja vu levels of second hand smoke you experienced as a child. You literally get that thick-head smoke high once you enter the casinos, combined with the recycled AC, your body is changing and you haven't even started drinking beer, cocktails and eating rich food yet. Oh did I mention that other thing, the part about giving your hard earned money away to shiny machines or to a person sitting around a table with strangers?

But oh, the musical entertainment in this town is the reason many of us come here in the first place and Las Vegas doesn't disappoint. First off, we got to see The Beatles Love at the Mirage for the second time (Mary Kit her third). It's becoming a religious pilgrimage for us and we converted Stephanie and Roger too. I don't think you can ever see this very special Cirque du Soleil show too many times.

Fleetwood Mac TicketsSecond up, we got to see Fleetwood Mac at the MGM Grand. A simply fabulous show by the same people who formed the 1975 - present lineup of the band: Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and the wonderful Christine McVie. (Mary Kit, pal Mark Hunter and I saw the band way back in 1975 at the old Balboa Stadium in San Diego with Heart, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Rod Stewart on the same bill.) Anyway, Christine is back touring with the band after a 16 year absence and makes them complete. Mary Kit and I just saw them in December in San Diego (40 years later) when they started their tour and they even seemed more energized this time while doing this long tour together. Stevie said this was their 78th show of the tour and they just had the place rockin', lots of smiling from the band and the crowd was in a very singalong groove. With that I leave you some YouTube videos from the recent April shows, and as the band says, "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow." Or as Frank would say, "Vegas baby." So get online, check out who's playing when and where and start planning that Vegas trip soon!