Showing posts with label Joni Mitchell. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joni Mitchell. Show all posts

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.

Monday, February 08, 2021

Fifty Years of Music • Tapestry


Update - 2/19/21

James Taylor's Quote
from The Guardian - 'It shook me to my core': 50 years of Carole King's Tapestry - 2/12/21

"The singer-songwriter genre was named around 1970, give or take, and was said to apply to me and, among others Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens and Jackson Browne. Why that supposed movement didn’t begin with Bob Dylan or even Woody Guthrie or Robert Johnson beats me – maybe they were still “folk”. But, if it means anything, Carol King deserves to be thought of as its epitome. I’d been deep into her songs – Up on the Roof, Natural Woman, Crying in the Rain – for a decade before Danny Kortchmar introduced us in Los Angeles in 1970. She played piano on my Sweet Baby James album while working on the songs for her own Tapestry. Our collaboration, our extended musical conversation over the next three or four years was really something wonderful. I’ve said it before, but Carole and I found we spoke the same language. Not just that we were both musicians but as if we shared a common ear, a parallel musical/emotional path. And we brought this out in one another, I believe.

It was a big change for Carole to leave New York for LA. She left behind an established, hugely successful career as a Brill Building [era] tunesmith, with her husband and lyricist, Gerry Goffin, and went west, on her own, with two young daughters. She started writing by herself, about herself – that is to say, from her own life. It came out of her so strong, so fierce and fresh. So clearly in her own voice. And yet, so immediately accessible, so familiar: you knew these songs already. I had that experience the first time I heard Carole sing You’ve Got a Friend from the stage of the Troubadour: “Oh yeah, that one.” Incredible that this song didn’t always exist. Carole’s focus was her family: [children] Louise and Sherry, and imminently, Levi and Molly. She had no time for the stuff the rest of us in Laurel Canyon were up to. She had her family and her songs. Certainly she would have her adventures, dramatic emotional switchbacks, in years to come. But in those days, she seemed to watch the dancers with a kind, wry detachment. To me, she was a port in the storm, a good and serious person with an astonishing gift, and, of course, a friend."


Breaking News - 2/10/21
Carole King Gets Rock Hall Nomination on Tapestry’s 50th Birthday


Original Blog - 2/8/21
February 9th is Carole King's 79th birthday, Happy Birthday Carole!
Released in April, 1971

Tapestry, with all of its songs written, co-written and performed by Carole King was recorded 50 years ago in January and released February 10, 1971. It was recorded at the same time James Taylor was recording his new album Mud Slide Slim and the Blue HorizonBoth Joni Mitchell and James (a couple at the time) sing/play on Tapestry as well as James loving and recording King's song from TapestryYou've Got a FriendIt became a #1 hit for Taylor from Mud Slide Slim as this cross-pollination of friendship and musicianship puts the 'singer-songwriter' as the driving force in rock 'n' roll in 1971. 
 
Tapestry has sold 10 million copies in the U.S. and 25 million worldwide.

It received four Grammy Awards in 1972, including Album of the Year. The lead singles from the album—"It's Too Late" and "I Feel the Earth Move"—spent five weeks at number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts. 

Tapestry, topped the U.S. album charts for 15 weeks in 1971 and remained on the charts for more than six years. [The album] held the record for most weeks at No. 1 by a female artist for more than 20 years.

In 2020, Tapestry was ranked number 25 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
–Wikipedia

By the spring of 1971, everybody in America knew Carole King and her equally famous Tapestry album cover with her long flowing golden curly hair, sweater and jeans in a teenage boy's hippie dream, perched by the window sill with her gray tabby cat (Telemachus). Most of the Tapestry songs were playing all the time across the radio dial, and the album itself was selling at a blistering pace. 

Joni Mitchell's, Ladies of the Canyon (1970) may have gotten a lot of teen girls (boys too) starting to buy records by female singer-songwriters, but Tapestry kicked that up to a whole new mass market level. Women were breaking barriers across the culture, including the growing number of female solo singer-songwriters not relegated to just being a singer or singer in a band. Carole King had in fact, written or co-written many hits for women singers in the 1960's, now she was helping to launch a new day where women could start to create and control their own destiny in the very male-oriented music business. For many young aspiring women musicians in the early 70's, Joni may have planted the dream, and Carole may have planted the plan.

In the summer of 1971, I remember coming home in the car from the beach with friend Tim Patterson driving. I have the distinct memory of that day. I was in the front passenger seat, window rolled down, looking out west at the ocean heading south from Avila Beach, somewhere between Pismo Beach and Shell Beach on the U.S. 101. The sun was shining not a cloud in the sky, Carole King's, It's Too Late*, comes on the radio as Tim and I are silent, just listening to the song, absorbing the sun and central coast. There's a common association of long-term memory with time, place and song. This was obviously one of those moments for me as I can't remember more important details from 50 years ago, but that specific memory came to mind this past week thinking about Tapestry.

Steve Patterson
That memory triggered a couple more of 1971 or thereabouts, as I briefly hung out with Tim in high school as we both grew up in the same church and also just lived a couple of blocks from each other. Tim Patterson was just a year older than me, and our star center on the Santa Maria High School basketball team. In 1971, Tim a Junior was just getting taller and taller, as I'm going to guess around 6' 8'' or thereabouts at the time. Tim would go on to play four years of basketball as center at Stanford, then two years of professional basketball in Sweden, and later become a lawyer and settle around Palo Alto, California. 

By 1971, Tim's older brother, Steve Patterson was the star center at UCLA and is known as the center between Kareem Abdul Jabbar (Lew Alcindor) and Bill Walton years. Steve as starting center at UCLA won back to back NCAA National Championships in 1970 and 1971 with legendary coach John Wooden. Steve Patterson went on to play five years in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls. 

Now how this memory relates Tim, Steve and me starts somewhere in time in high school between 1971 or 1972. Tim calls me up and asks me if I want to go with him to the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes (Oso Flaco) to ride the dunes in his brother's 4-wheel drive Ford Bronco. Tim picks me up and the two of us head out to the dunes listening to his brother's tapes on the ride out. We get to the dunes and the wind is blowing something fierce where we can't even see the ground with the blur of moving sand. 

Guadalupe-Nipomo (Oso Flaco) Sand Dunes
We're about 15 minutes in, going up and down the dunes when it dawns on me, man I should probably put on my seat belt. No sooner do I snap the belt, than the Bronco crashes down into a small sand ravine about 5 feet deep and wide that neither one of us saw coming. I would estimate the car was going probably about 30 miles an hour when we hit the opposite bank of the ravine head-on and an instant stop. Tim's face hits the rear view mirror just above his right eye and starts to bleed like he's been hit by a left hook from Joe Frazier.* At the same moment upon impact, I hit the front wind shield with the right side of my head. I unbuckle and stumble out of the Bronco with an instant headache. I walk around to Tim, we find a rag or t-shirt in the car and he presses that on his wound to stop the bleeding.

Long story short, a guy in a Jeep comes along and he has a winch on his front-end and pulls the Bronco out from its back-end. We get back to Tim's house and talk to his mom, the nicest lady ever. Anyway, it was either that day or next, the Patterson's discover that my head impact had actually popped out the entire front windshield from its rubber seal. Looking back, I probably had a slight concussion but nobody even thought about that back in the day. Mrs. Patterson did come up to me at church several days later to make sure I was still okay. I think she said something about me having "a hard head," which something I have heard many times since in my life, from two different wives...

This past week, I pulled out the Tapestry album from the combined vinyl record collection from my wife Mary Kit and me. We combined our collections in 2020 after being in boxes in the attic for a long time. She made me laugh when she started to initial all her albums with a black Sharpie, well for, just in case, you never know if it's going to work out... Anyway, Tapestry with the initials 'MK' on the back cover have been playing on the turntable this past week as it certainly primed the pump for this week's blog.

The playlist this week is two halves. First, are the original 12 songs from the Tapestry album. Second, is Carole, Carole and James, or other artists performing songs from Tapestry mostly in the 21st century.

Enjoy my friends, stay well and mask-up.


* It's Too Late, is one of my all-time favorite songs and is on My 100 Songs playlist.

* On March 8, 1971 Joe Frazier defeated Muhammad Ali, staggering Ali in the 11th and knocking him down in the 15th with his staggering left hook. Wikipedia

Monday, December 14, 2020

My Favorite Songs of 1970





1970 was an incredible year in rock 'n' roll history. Some of my favorite songs of all-time are contained in the albums above. The playlist this week is a treasure of jewels for me, some discovered in 1970, and some discovered much later.

The year was full of great music and news.

The biggest news of 1970 was the biggest band break-up that ever was as The Beatles go their separate ways and start making their own albums. Their fans never stop hoping that they will get back together.

The Beatles also released their last album, Let It Be recorded before Abbey Road and released after. 

Simon and Garfunkel also made their last album together, Bridge Over Trouble Water. The album wins 6 Grammy's and wins The Song, Record, and Album of the Year. Their fans never stop hoping that they get back together.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young make a masterpiece, Déjà Vu  and then promptly break-up for the first time, as their fans never stop hoping that they will get back together again, and again, and again...

Drugs and death also intersect in 1970, as both Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin both die of overdoses just three weeks apart at the tender age of 27. Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones had died the year prior in 1969 at 27, and in the following year of 1971, Jim Morrison would also die of an overdose at 27 and fuel the rock culture phenomenon of Club 27.  

Speaking of phenomenon, the singer-songwriters to emerge as stars in 1970 is literally on the charts. James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Carole King, Kris Kristofferson, Stephen Stills, Leon Russell, Cat Stevens, Van Morrison, and Elton John all breakout with solo albums that will put them on the map and on the road for years to come. In 1970, Stevens, Morrison, John, and Badfinger each release two albums during the same year as fans cannot get enough. 

I was hooked by all these talented people and I start buying their albums whenever I could scrap up the money. My friends are doing the same, and we are all listening to each other's albums. Getting into rock concerts was going to be the next big step.

At fifteen, I'm becoming aware that two of my new heroes- James Taylor and Neil Young, are a bit like me, painfully shy to the point that it wasn't helping me move forward in life. By listening to their songs by myself in my bedroom, I began to get a sensibility for their music and what they were communicating to the world. I began to internalize their music, like millions of other kids. I start to examine who I am- my self-worth, what will I do? James and Neil didn't magically answer these questions, but they did give me a feeling, a new sense that I wasn't alone. James has this beautiful voice and yet he's always hunched over (like me), walking and talking without a lot of confidence. Neil's as quirky as hell and has this unique shaky voice and distant stare. But yet, both are opening up on a big stage in the spotlight, and becoming massively successful, folk-rock stars no less. Could I actually make something of myself? 

1970 was a new decade but still part of the 1960's, and I wanted in, to be a long-hair. Music was becoming a part of my identity and it was a cornerstone of the counter-culture. I wanted to be part of something bigger, something completely different from my parents and my conservative upbringing.

This year in the blog, I started the reoccurring monthly post of 50 Years of Music. As I reflect back over the entirety of 1970, the blog often serves as a retro-journal to myself. This year, I also caught myself playing an old game, the 'shoulda-woulda-coulda' mind game. I wished I had joined the cross-country team, I wished I had started playing tennis with my dear friend Bill DeVoe as he would eventually go on to become the number one player on the high school varsity team. I wished I hadn't quit piano lessons, and I wished that I had starting writing a journal when I was young. In retrospect, all these wishes where not a lack of opportunities presented to me, but a basic lack of self-confidence on my part. 

I would go through most of the 1970's with that general lack of confidence that slowly melted away as I began my professional career as a K-12 teacher with a variety of job assignments and experiences. Over the years, I discovered that confidence is often revealed in a couple basic ways. One, you see the overt confidence, often coupled with words over action. Second, and the confidence I tried to model from the good people around me was the purposeful actions that followed their words.

On this day, I'm thankful for my core group of friends who helped me believe in myself, and I'm thankful for the music we shared together as kids and continue to share today with old and new songs.

The playlist(s) this week are 220 songs as it is contains some of the best music I ever heard when first released 50 years ago that has endured the test of time. To quote John Lennon on the roof of Abbey Road Studios in the Let It Be film, "I would like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we've passed the audition." Yes John, your band certainly passed the audition- giving all the people you inspired to pick up musical instruments and make rock 'n' roll. Those musicians and the listening fans from all over the world are forever indebted and eternally grateful for the music of 

(Note- I just discovered this morning in publishing the blog that an embedded YouTube playlist will only display 200 videos, damnit-all. So, I have taken the last 20 videos and created a Part II Playlist and embedded below the first playlist. There's some great songs in the last group of 20, including the last song which has a lot of meaning to me.)

Merry Everything! Stay well my friends and mask-up. 

So let's now get back to where we once belonged.


 

 Reference:

Monday, November 30, 2020

#NewMusicMonday • November • 2020

A YEAR of #NewMusicMondays  
On the scout for cool new songs released this month or thereabouts, I also discovered new covers of older songs by artists of all ages. During the time of coronavirus, this is particularly true for musicians with a lot of time these days being @home with a stockpile of instruments and recording equipment. As a working musician that stuff's right in the next room, or maybe if they've made a little money, their barn or basement recording studio or, even a famous empty music venue wants them to come down and record a session.

As COVID has disrupted the music business like most businesses, the creativity side of making music has actually never been better. The sheer output is hard to keep up with live streaming shows happening everyday as well as release dates of new singles, EP or LP albums, not to mention that song from the past musicians want to honor and cover.

Also noteworthy this month is Joni Mitchell's Archives Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963-1967). This first collection was just released and even though the songs are from the past, most of us are hearing these versions for the first time. So something old and new at the same time, and that's a great treat and Christmas gift for Joni fans.

Here are several sources for all the 119 song and interesting song introductions from the box set on- 
3) Joni Mitchell Store - Good Background Info

This next week starts December and that means I'll start the first Monday (December 7th) with my 6th annual Christmas Mix (2020) of traditional and non-traditional winter holiday music. So look for that as well as my Favorite Songs of 2020 that will come out later in the month as a few songs from this week's playlist have made the final cut. 

Stay well my friends, and mask-up.

Monday, November 23, 2020

#BestSongIHeardToday • Volume I

 Volume I • II • III • IV  • V • VI • VII • Team Tortoise Blogs

The #BestSongIHeardToday series is often centered around hearing great songs while exercising. These posts will tend to drift into health related topics but will always come back to the music that brought you here. This particular series is probably more about a self journal to help me stay on the path of healthy living that includes, listening to old and new tunes. If you're looking for a great mix playlist of 25-30 songs, just click on one of my Volumes above.

"No regrets, coyote"
On my weekly trail run,
I always listen to my Amazon 'My Music' on shuffle with the sound on speaker mode on my armband. Originally, I did this to alert the coyotes that I'm on the trail and maybe they should just move into the brush. I also now do this to alert walkers or joggers to mask up as I can tell they usually hear me coming before seeing me. Unfortunately, as now is often the case, they have NO mask to mask-up.

In the photo on the left, I've seen this juvenile coyote before usually on this stretch of the trail. The coyote is all ears as it hears my music (a Poco song I believe) and has quickly spun around and we are having a little staring contest while I snap this shot. I actually enjoy running into this ol' soul whereas the humans, not so much these days. My once good old Transcendental "Good Morning,"  greeting has been displaced 'in the time of coronavirus' with me now muttering inside my brain, "Mask-up motherf......"

But then, it's back to the wonderful canyon rustic trail cutting through my suburb, my rhythmic pace and often the surprise of the next song. On my typical hour run, I hear about 14 - 18 songs and play a game as I say to myself, "Oh this one is the best so far." Then usually several songs later, another song has knocked that one off the mantle of what potentially could be, the #BestSongiHeardToday running on this trail. 

My plan is to collect twenty-five songs as a stand-alone playlist. Here's Volume I of my random best while on the run. 

Note- This week I introduce my 'new and improved' blog look that I hope you will enjoy. I think it's easier to navigate to all my blog posts and works well with smartphones. 

I have also reintroduced the 'Comments' section below. Feel free to leave a comment, but please DO NOT piggyback a free advertisement with a LINK to a business site. Thank you.

Have a great Thanksgiving week, be safe and mask-up my friend!

Monday, August 17, 2020

List Your FAV FIVE Singer-songwriters

FAV FIVE Series 
Guitar Players • Bass Players • Drummers • Keyboard Players



"Singer-songwriter" is used to define popular music artists who write and perform their own material, which is often self-accompanied generally on acoustic guitar or piano. Such an artist performs the roles of composer [writes the songs music], lyricist, [writes the songs words] vocalist, sometimes instrumentalist, and often self-manager. According to AllMusic, singer-songwriters' lyrics are often personal but veiled by elaborate metaphors and vague imagery, and their creative concern is to place emphasis on the song rather than their performance of it. Wikipedia

Again, I enlisted my dear friend and singer-songwriter Paul Hobbs to help me navigate the guidelines for this week's challenge, list your five favorite singer-songwriters of all-time. Paul helped me clarify a couple key points to lay down the basics for filling out the Google Form below.
  1. You can only list one person on each line 1-5. By the definition above, the singer-songwriter composes the music, writes the lyrics and performs the song by singing and/or playing an instrument. My wife Mary Kit immediately threw a wrench in the works by saying she was going to write, "Elton John and Bernie Taupin" together on one line. I started to get into the weeds saying, "You know, Bernie first writes the lyrics separately and then Elton writes the music to craft a song around the lyrics, so by definition... Mary Kit cuts me off and says, "If you're going to make this too complicated, nobody is going to fill out your form." I get it. Elton John is 3/4th a singer-songwriter, and a hell of one at that so I tell her, "Just write Elton John on the bloody form."
  2. This list is based on a singer-songwriter's SOLO career. Okay, getting back on the lawnmower and heading to the weeds again- somebody like Tom Petty is a good example where the mower can get hung up. Tom is mainly known for his body of work with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and the Traveling Wilburys. If you look at Tom's discography, he has three solo albums. So, if you write Tom Petty in you list of five, you are selecting him based on his solo work NOT his band compositions. Same for Neil Young, John Lennon, Pete Townshend, etc.
As a teaser for next week, we're going to list our FAV FIVE Bands where all the fabulous writing combinations of Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards, Stills/Nash/Crosby, etc. are all contained within by simply naming your favorite bands, albeit the short list.

Okay, here's my ranked list of FAV FIVE Singer-songwriters. Boy this was tough as a couple of readers have said in the previous FAV FIVEs, it's something like Sophie's Choice. For me, what it came down to was how many albums/CD's did I own of that artist as a solo singer-songwriter.
  1. James Taylor
  2. Joni Mitchell
  3. Jackson Browne
  4. Paul Simon
  5. Neil Young
Note- Like last week you can see my random brainstorm list at the end of this blog.

Now it's your turn.


If for some reason, the Google Form does not appear in your web browser, click on this direct link here - https://forms.gle/JDRCVasREuAtDPadA

_________________

Mary Kit McIntosh's FAV FIVE  Singer-songwriters
  1. Don Henley
  2. Elton John
  3. Glenn Frey
  4. Prince 
  5. Stevie Nicks

Ron Zieman's FAV FIVE  Singer-songwriters
  1. Joni Mitchell
  2. Neil Young
  3. George Harrison
  4. Eric Clapton
  5. Don Henley


Ken Forman's FAV FIVE  
Singer-songwriters
  1. Bob Dylan
  2. James Taylor
  3. Neil Young
  4. Jackson Browne
  5. Pete Townshend

Paul Hobbs' FAV FIVE  
Singer-songwriters
  1. James Taylor
  2. Joni Mitchell
  3. Bob Dylan
  4. Jackson Browne
  5. Paul Simon
Ron Ouellette's FAV FIVE  
Singer-songwriters
  1. Cat Stevens
  2. Warren Zevon
  3. Al Stewart
  4. Vienna Teng
  5. Joanne Shaw Taylor
Chuck Stark's FAV FIVE  
Singer-songwriters
  1. Neil Young
  2. Bob Dylan
  3. James Taylor
  4. Paul McCartney
  5. Bruce Springsteen


Roger Demchak's FAV FIVE  
Singer-songwriters
  1. Paul McCartney
  2. John Lennon
  3. Neil Young
  4. James Taylor
  5. Bob Dylan

__________________
Doug's random brainstorm list of his favorite singer-songwriters as a solo artist.
  • Paul McCartney
  • John Lennon
  • Jackson Browne
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Shawn Colvin
  • Randy Newman
  • Neil Young
  • James Taylor
  • John Prine
  • Paul Simon
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Van Morrison
  • Don Henley
  • Bob Dylan
  • Mark Knopfler
  • Carol King
  • Laura Nyro
  • Cat Stevens
  • George Harrison
  • Billy Joel
  • J.D. Souther
  • Harry Nilsson
  • Elvis Costello
  • Tom Waits
  • Eric Clapton
  • Jesse Colin Young
  • Sting
  • David Bowie
  • Bonnie Raitt
  • Donovan
  • Peter Gabriel
  • and yes Mary Kit, Elton John

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 23, 2020

Déjà Vu • March, 1970

 déjà vu (from Merriam-Webster)
a: the illusion of remembering scenes and events when experienced for the first time

b: a feeling that one has seen or heard something before


In March 1970, I turned fifteen. This week I turn sixty-five and as my music blog is often an exercise of personal reflection, I wonder if my long-term memory is really just a mix of illusions and feelings all woven seamlessly together in my current-thinking brain.

Sometime in that spring of 1970, I'm at the house of my friend Gary Hill. Gary has just purchased Déjà Vu, the new Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Album. It has the best album cover I've ever seen.

I'm in Gary's living room looking out of his large front window and listening to the album by myself. Gary has gone outside to wash his light green family station wagon and as his custom, he dries the car by speeding off to the nearby US 101 freeway to let the wind finish the job. All alone, I listen to the album a couple of times. In fact his mom, the always smiling Madeline Hill has come home before he is back. She doesn't seem to mind that I'm alone in her house listening to a record on her stereo console. That memory is etched in my brain.

The release of Déjà vu with the addition of Neil Young to the band was a pleasant surprise to me. The album did not disappoint as the band had surpassed the first album and elevated themselves to even a higher level. As a freshman in high school, I thought it was one of the best albums ever made and nothing has changed my opinion of that music in these last 50 years.

In the ensuing years, what did change was the déjà vu-like experience of either/or David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young in never-ending breakups and makeups in just too many incarnations to describe here. As I write this, I'm currently reading Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: The Wild, Definitive Saga of Rock's Greatest Supergroup by David Browne. My friend Paul Hobbs highly recommended it to me awhile back and I pass along the same if you are a CSN&Y fan.

Paul's assessment kind of threw me back when he said, "Doug, they're all assholes."

Okay, we all know David Crosby's is the obnoxious self-indulgent asshole. He's said it about himself many times on stage and in rock documentaries, not to mention the overarching reason he was kicked out of The Byrds. Yes, Stills was always demanding to be the hard charging alpha general, Nash the very pleasant and chatty hitmaker and peacemaker with social skills, and Young the aloof alpha, the restless free agent who often took his ball and went looking for different players to play with. But all of them, assholes? Well I'm up to 1974 in David Browne's comprehensive behind the curtain book and yep, they're all assholes.

I call it the Mickey Mantle effect (my first hero). As a child or young person, you admire that person's public persona because their art or talent were truly special and influenced you. You only find out later in life that the actual person was in fact an arrogant ass, or sometimes even worse...

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Fifty by Four
In addition to David Browne's book, Paul texted me on Sunday and recommended, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Fifty by Four (linked here), a 2 hour 44 minute documentary free on Amazon Prime. I watched it last night and again Paul is spot on calling it, "a visual embodiment of the book more or less." Damn it Paul, I'm going to have to start paying you reference fees...

Okay, how about two more memories in Gary Hill's station wagon.

First, it's late May 1970 after the Kent State shootings. Gary is behind the wheel of the green station wagon. Ron Zieman is riding shotgun, and I believe Paul is with me in the backseat, but maybe it's Steve Spencer too. The radio is on and the DJ introduces Ohio, the Neil Young song by CSN&Y recorded and released in what would appropriately be, record time. Neil's and then Stephen's electric guitars start and we just all look at each other as Gary is turning up the volume.


Second, it's maybe 1970 or '71, same scenario, Gary's driving the wagon, Ron's in the front bench passenger seat, and I'm by myself in the back bench seat, left side. Gary's moving fairly fast on the back country two lane CA Route Highway 166 . We come upon a VW bug going very slow. Gary moves in the oncoming lane to pass the bug as we're approaching a crossroad. Suddenly without any form of signaling the VW suddenly makes a left turn striking a glancing blow to the right side of the station wagon as we're exactly parallel with the bug. The wagon skids sideways left across the crossroad intersection.

At that moment, I realize I don't have my seatbelt on and instinctively dive to the floor and hold on to the backside of the driver's lap seat belts bolted down to the floor directly behind the driver's seat. The wagon skids for what seems like an eternity and then stops. I sit up from the floor and look out the left window and there's no ground! I then look down and we have stopped about a foot from a 20ft steep embankment leading down to a ditch. The guy driving the VW with long black hair and beard who looks like Tommy Chong is walking towards us, and in no rush. He comes up to us as we are now out of the car and just staring down at the f***ing embankment.  In what seems like a Cheech and Chong  skit he says in perfect Tommy Chong stoner voice, "Hey man... you dudes ok?"

For CSN&Y, as strange as the band members were on and off with each other (and their many associates) for over five decades, the music on those first two albums is so very special to me and helped elevate my appreciation of top-tier rock 'n' roll in a special time and place.

I highlighted the first CSN album in a blog a while back- Crosby, Stills & Nash - Celebrating 50 Years of Their Debut Album and here, I present the entire Déjà Vu album in the following YouTube Playlist.


Now, if you go back to the first three months of music in 1970, it will blow you away. Fact be told I was preparing to write another blog this week, 50 Years of Music: January - March, 1970, but heck that's now my teaser for next week's blog. I'm already feeling somewhat guilty because Bridge Over Troubled Water was released in January, 1970 and I didn't make that a blog feature as- Simon & Garfunkel release their final album together. The title track and album stay #1 on the Billboard charts for six weeks and go on to win a record six Grammys at the 13th Grammy Awards, including "Record of the Year", "Song of the Year", and "Album of the Year." Wikipedia

Then in my Wikipedia search, I get to March 1970 and there are these two albums a couple of weeks apart, Déjà Vu and Joni Mitchell's, Lady of the Canyon.

The fact that these two albums are released in the same month is not really astonishing once you know a little about the history of Joni Mitchell with CSN&Y. Think back, we get Joni's acoustic Woodstock song version that is preceded a few weeks earlier by CSNY&Y's rocking version of Woodstock!

As I recall, I'm listening to the full Ladies of the Canyon album for the first time with Paul in his bedroom. The music business in 1970 was still as misogynistic as it could be, but here are two young teenage boys listening (and learning) to songs from a female's perspective. Back then, boys grew up listening (and learning) to songs mostly from a guy's perspective, songs like Under My Thumb by The Rolling Stones comes to mind. In the 1970's, Joni gave us all a fresh if not introspective look at relationships, now from both sides. One of my favorites songs from that album is about her soon-to-be former boyfriend, Graham Nash.

Willy

Willy is my child, he is my father
I would be his lady all my life
He says he'd love to live with me
But for an ancient injury
That has not healed
He said I feel once again
Like I gave my heart too soon
He stood looking through the lace
At the face on the conquered moon
And counting all the cars up the hill
And the stars on my window sill
There are still more reasons why I love him

Willy is my joy, he is my sorrow
Now he wants to run away and hide
He says our love cannot be real
He cannot hear the chapel's pealing silver bells
But you know it's hard to tell
When you're in the spell if it's wrong or if it's real
But you're bound to lose
If you let the blues get you scared to feel
And I feel like I'm just being born
Like a shiny light breaking in a storm
There are so many reasons why I love him

Willy is my child, he is my father

As I look back, what a pair of albums to have in your collection if not your soul for a lifetime. Here's the playlist for Ladies of the Canyon.

This blog post is dedicated to Gary "Crazy Legs" Hill. 
Rest in Peace ol' pal, your friends will never forget you.

Monday, May 27, 2019

May 1969, Wow! 50 Years of Music


Earlier this month, I began to work on my now monthly feature of albums released 50 years ago in the month I post the blog. When I first looked at the Wikipedia 1969 in Music #May list I just said, "Wow!"

Here is a representative group of 50 songs from this monster month of albums released in May, 1969. Enjoy my friends!


Monday, December 18, 2017

Women of Heart and Mind

50 Amazing Signs from Women’s Marches Across the Globe
As this year of 2017 wraps up in a couple of weeks, I'm going to pick up with a blog I did in January called, Our Democracy and Takin' It To The Streets. The focus was on the March, 21st Women's March across the world. In the time since, it has been quite a year through the total black hole experience of Donald Trump, and the emergence and sustainability of the #MeToo movement. Even with the dark shadow of Trump, women have emerged from behind all shadows and came to triumph and own this year.

As a man, I've become so sick and tired of male politicians, business moguls, actors and news people evoking their daughters into the public dialog either in their own defense of sexual allegations against them, or pontificating on how they are a protector of women. So, as a father of two daughters, two step-daughters and three granddaughters, I say, BULLSHIT. Men in general need to stop being hypocritical about their simultaneous protection and sexual objectification of women, and simply behave and treat ALL women with respect as equals.

My admiration of women runs deep and started young. I remember when I was probably eleven or twelve years old, I had a paper route. At the end of each month, I would go around and collect the money subscriptions door to door. On occasion, somebody would stiff me by moving out without paying me and I would lose my take as the newspaper delivery rules stated that it was my responsibility to make the collection. On one such occasion, a couple moved and didn't pay me. My mother actually tracked this couple down, took me in her car to their new location, walked with me to the door, and demanded payment when a shocked man opened the door. I'll never forgot the man's expression but better yet, my mom's smile to me on the walk back to the car with the cash in my hand.

As a teenager in the 1970's, I started listening to music as a passion. Men dominated rock 'n' roll but I began listening and buying records by women, especially women singer-songwriters. I loved Carol King, Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell to name some of the greats of the day. Their perspective in song, helped shape me. If you were a guy back in the day and were into Joni Mitchell, well that didn't hurt in your conversations with girls, but more importantly, Joni made you think about things a little differently than most male songwriters.

During this month, I've watched three TV streaming shows of significance that actually inspired the writing of this post. I recommend you see all three in the weeks ahead. First on Netflix, Godless, a western that turns the "damsels in distress" thing on it's head. Second on Amazon, Good Girls Revolt, a "Mad Men" from a woman's perspective with three key female leads working at Newsweek magazine in 1969-1970. (As a side note- as you watch the opening credits, you'll see a paperboy on his bike throwing a paper somewhere towards a house. I swear to God that kid looked like/was me.) And third on Amazon, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, a housewife in the 1950s decides to become a stand-up comic. In all three shows, the women are front and center, great writing, acting and must sees for watching in the year of 2017.

In putting the playlist together for this post, I couldn't help but notice the increased level of empowerment by women singers as the decades rolled up to current times. I hope you enjoy my mix of old and newer songs performed by women of heart and mind, and if you're a guy out there, there's wisdom to be mined here toward our respect, work, and gift of women in our lives. And, a final thought, women are going to save this world, just as they have always done.