Showing posts with label My Favorite Songs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label My Favorite Songs. Show all posts

Monday, December 26, 2022

My Favorite Songs of 2022

This is my last blog post of 2022 and I'm happy to say I will be back next year with a new music post every Monday morning if the fates and YouTube allow. In fact, I'm on a bit of a streak. For the last two years, I've posted a blog every Monday! Take a look at my Blog Archive on the right sidebar here and you will see I've been pretty steady since 2019 at getting a blog post out for almost all 52 weeks.

In January 2023, I start a new monthly series, 60 Years of Music • (Month), 1963. I discovered in my use of Wikipedia that in 1963 rock 'n' roll and folk music were growing so fast that Wikipedia starts to curate new album releases on a monthly basis. I'll be using 1963 in Music as my guide to return to my childhood at eight years of age, and maybe just a few years up or down from your age at that time, or if you're much younger and like the vibe here. I'm excited to chronicle the 1960's in music and bridge my blog posts and series leading up to 1963. 

In the right sidebar, you will also see my Under The Influence series that covers songs from 1949-1962. 

I'll still cover Fifty Years of Music on a monthly basis continuing with January, 1973 and leading up to my graduation from high school that year.

And still, I will cover #NewMusicMonday every month where I attempt to capture new rock 'n' roll and Americana (Folk) albums, song, covers, and YouTube videos.

So just like last week where I poured over all my monthly Fifty Years of Music from 1972 and presented My Favorite Songs of 1972, I've done the same right here for all my #NewMusicMonday(s) in 2022.

I've also taken a look at some other music magazines 'Best of 2022' in music and I must say, my 2022 playlist is just as worthy. If you like folk-Americana-indie and some good ol' rock 'n' roll here's a playlist to take you through the end of the year.

Enjoy my friends! Happy New Year and catch a whole new year of Monday Monday Music posts, starting January 2nd.

I'm keeping the streak alive, look out Cal Ripken Jr....

Monday, December 19, 2022

My Favorite Songs of 1972

 The Class of 1972 is a special group of people to me. I was a year younger and it seemed miles behind from the grade just in front of me. From my first neighborhood chums on West Sunset Street, my first girlfriend, and then the best life-long friends a fellow could ever have, mostly born in 1953-1954. 

I remember being a lowly 7th grader at Fesler Junior High School, the 8th graders were so much cooler, the girls cuter. My next door neighbor was in 8th grade and before I knew it, I was hanging out with his pals.

In high school, the class of 72 was way cooler than my class of 73. I quit their redneck football and baseball after my freshman year and started hanging with the longer-haired sophomores. When they all graduated in the summer of 72, I missed seeing them my senior year around campus. 

After school we would connect and continue our now religious practice of listening to music together. The mantra of "Drugs, Sex and Rock 'n' Roll" was a bit out of my league at that time. Well, one out of three ain't bad.

Here's a bunch (191) of my favorite songs from 1972 from even cooler people born in the 1940's singing to us younger wannabees born in the 1950's.

Hail Hail 1972!

Monday, December 27, 2021

My Favorite Songs of 2021

A Year Of #NewMusicMondays
Last Year, I began a monthly feature called #NewMusicMonday. This post is a culmination of 12 months of searching, sifting, and sorting new music every month across the Internet. YouTube Playlists have a built-in limitation of 200 songs when embedded into a web page like Monday Monday Music™.  This 200 song limit can be a blessing and curse. I basically had to revisit over a 1000 handpicked songs and whittle that down to 200 of my favorite favs, including any new songs from December. 

Last week, I did the same for my Fifty Years of Music series with the same process for songs from 1971. That was a much easier task for the many songs that were already part of my rock 'n' roll DNA. Here, this was a bit more work of current listening. In 2021, there are fewer great rock 'n' roll songs being written and recorded, but at the same time the 'Americana genre' continues to evolve often blending Rock 'n' Roll, Folk, Indie, Bluegrass, Country, and Blues.

Genre bending and blending is basically what music has been, is, and will be. For me, I'm a 'folkie' at heart... with a rock 'n' roll soul.

Rickenbacker 360 Fireglo
That bent leads to what some (me included) would call, 'jingle-jangle' rock 'n' roll with the blending of acoustic and electric guitars. I'm going to start with The Beatles as my personal reference point in time, and John's early use of his black Rickenbacker 6 string electric guitar, and then in 1964, adding George's use of his Rickenbacker 360 Fireglo twelve string electric guitar shown here. 

In 1965, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds quickly follows George's lead and uses his Rickenbacker 360 'Mapleglow' 12 string on all their hit songs, including Mr. Tamborine Man and Turn, Turn, Turn

This tradition continues through the years most notably with Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, The Bangles, and The Jayhawks to name a few. 

By jingle-jangle, I'm basically identifying the signature sound of bands with typically two guitar players playing off each other in complement rhythm and riff of each other, like The Beatles' George and John, or The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards and Brian Jones (and later Ronnie Wood). These bands do not have an identified lead guitar god à la Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page to drive that rock sound. I love that sound too, but it often comes at limiting a song's lyrics with a melody and vocal harmonies to produce a more balanced sound. That last sentence, kind of defines the root elements of folk and I guess my bent to artists and bands and that sound.

In 2021, I found both older and newer artists and bands all over the world that satisfy my folk and rock 'n' roll DNA with their new music releases. Here are the artists, bands and albums that grabbed me this year (in somewhat of a slipshod rated order): 
  1. Joy Oladokun (Nashville, TN), in defense of my own happiness
    Joy Oladokun gets the top slot in that she taps into the heart of our times of 2020-2021. I found her lyrics compelling matched with a pure rich voice to carry her message, and one worth listening to.

    I've paddled upstream where the river ran
    I've turned sticks and stones to an olive branch
    I've made a full house from a shitty hand
    Yet, here I am, still gotta be bigger than the bigger man
    – Bigger Man, by Joy Oladokun and Maren Morris

  2. The War On Drugs (Philadelphia, PA), I Don't Live Here Anymore
    I said a couple of posts ago that Adam Granduciel the leader of The War On Drugs had me when he pulls out his Rickenbacker 330 Fireglo to go with this outstanding 2021 rock 'n' roll album.
  3. Madison Cunningham (Los Angeles, CA) 
    Madison Cunningham did not release an album in 2021, but she and many other artists took to Youtube and social media to record a plethora of songs on the Internet. In 2020-2021, the f*%#ing pandemic may have stopped live music in its tracks, but recorded music actually found a way to reach us (even in lock-down) and saved many souls. I found Madison on Youtube in 2021, and words can not express how I love this young singer-songwriter's work. 
  4. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (Denver Colorado), The Future
    I'll be honest, Nathaniel Rateliff at first pass was interesting, liked him some, but was not a fan. The Future album changed all that. I just love his new songs to go with the passion and the horn section!
  5. Watchhouse (formally known as Mandolin Orange) (Chapel Hill, NC), Watchhouse
    The name Mandolin Orange has always been one of my favorite band names ever. So why change your band brand after a decade of hard work to get exposure as a folk duo? Anyway, the new album is fantastic, so well crafted and a complete standout in the Americana pack. 
  6. Teenage Fanclub (Scotland), Endless Arcade
    These guys have been around since 1989, who knew? I'm a slow learner and still catching up to all the great UK jingle-jangle bands out there. Endless Arcade is endless fun!
  7. Lord Huron (Los Angeles, CA), Long Lost
    If you're a fan of David Lynch's Twin Peaks music, you'll be right at home in the Red Room. 
  8. Guided By Voices (Dayton OH), Earth Man Blues
    This album simply rocks! The riffs on this thing takes me back to the day.
  9. Dori Freeman, (Galax, VA), Ten Thousand Roses
    This woman simply stands out with her songs. I hope she will get her due down the road as she is miles ahead of many young artists with much bigger names and smaller songs.
  10. Crowded House (Australia), Dreamers Are Waiting
    I love Crowded House, I love this album and part of the 80's-90's bands revival of 2021.
  11. Big Red Machine (Ohio, Wisconsin), How Long Do You Think It's Going To Last?
    An Indie Folk supergroup? With Aaron Dessner and Justin Vernon at the helm, and with drop-in's like Taylor Swift, this album is a standout.
  12. Shannon Lay (Los Angeles, CA), Geist
    I had never heard of Shannon Lay until I heard a song from Geist on a streaming service. Then, that gets me interested and I listen to the whole album, and I'm picking songs right and left for the monthly playlist and then, songs left and right for this final playlist. Yeah, I like Shannon Lay a lot.
  13. Gary Louris (Minneapolis, Minnesota), Jump For Joy
    Gary Louris is the founding member of one of my favorite bands, The Jayhawks. Of course I'm going to love this solo album of folk and jingle-jangle rock 'n' roll!
  14. Bleachers (New York, NY), Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night
  15. Kings of Leon (Nashville, TN), When You See Yourself
  16. Jackson Browne (Los Angeles, CA) Downhill From Everywhere
    Jackson is simply one of the best still at the top of his game. I'm enjoying his ongoing collaboration with Val McCallum on electric guitar and vocals.
  17. Dylan LeBlanc (Shreveport, LA), Pastimes
    An EP of some of the best covers I've ever heard. 
  18. Elise LeGrow (Canada), Grateful
    Great soulful sound and nobody's heard of her? Grateful is so much better than Adele's 30, but that's just my little opinion.
  19. The Wallflowers (Los Angeles, CA), Exit Wounds
    Not bad for a band who haven't played together in nine years. The very wonderful Shelby Lynne provides backup vocals on several tracks.
  20. Natalie Hemby (Nashville, TN) Pens and Needles
    One of Nashville's best songwriter to the stars, gets to shine here on her second solo album.
  21. Allison Russell (Canada), Outside Child
  22. The Killers (Las Vegas, NV), Pressure Machine
  23. Death Cab For Cutie (Bellingham, WA),  The Georgia E.P.
  24. The Fratellis (Scotland), Half Drunk Under A Full Moon
  25. David Crosby (Santa Ynez, CA), For Free
  26. The Black Keys (Akron, OH), Delta Kream
  27. Flyte (England), This Is Really Going to Hurt
  28. Real Estate (Brooklyn, NY), Half a Human
  29. Hearty Har (Los Angeles, CA), Radio Astro
  30. Toad The Wet Sprocket, (Santa Barbara, CA), Starting Now
  31. Kings Of Convenience, (Norway), Peace or Love
Okay, I'm going to stop here at 31, I got to get to the finish line.

Now before I send you to this great 2021 playlist below, I have to give myself a little squeak of the wheel and pat on the ol' back. 

In January, I made a promise to myself (and Paul Hobbs) that I would write a Monday Monday Music every Monday for the entire 2021 year. Well boys and girls it's week 52 and this is my 52nd post for 2021! Heck, I could have done it with 48 in 2019, and 50 in 2020 if I had been paying attention and kept my eye on the ball. But now that I've done it, I have decided to pull the plug on the blog, and learn how to play piano... 

Just kidding. I hope I didn't make Paul's heart skip a beat. Yes, I'll be back next Monday, January 3 to start a new year of music posts. I actually do want to learn to play piano and work on my house a bit, so I'll just take it a week at a time, and a transition to...

Thank you dear followers for reading my post every week and making the time to dive into the playlist, most weeks. There's a lot of great music being made every day and remember pilgrims, Music Saves!

Now for starting the playlist this week the first video I picked back in January was Katy Perry's, Firework for Joe Biden's Presidential Inauguration. Her performance made me cry tears of happiness for the fact that the orange fat fascist was actually NOT the President anymore. I follow that with Joy Oladokun's, i see america, and then complete my little trilogy of American life with Harry Styles', Treat People With Kindness. After that, the songs in the playlist are in a random order and are not ranked, including a bunch of songs not mentioned in the albums listing.

Enjoy these 200 songs my friends, and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2021

My Favorite Songs of 1971

Music is playing inside my head
Over and over and over again
My friend, there's no end to the music

Ah, summer is over
But the music keeps playing
And won't let the cold get me down

Pictures are forming inside my brain
Soon with the colours they'll rain together and grow
Then don't you know, don't you know there'll be music

Ah, it's not always easy
But the music keeps playing
And won't let the world get me down
–Carole King, Music

This blog is a twelve month culmination of my ongoing series Fifty Years of Music where I feature a month and year fifty years ago. 

In 1971, I was a sixteen year old sophomore and then in the fall started my junior year of high school. Here's a look back at the historical, film, and musical events of that year. (The following selected dates are from Wikipedia in italics: 19711971 in Film and 1971 in Music. I have also added my own little commentary in regular text on some of the date entries.)

  • January 2 – A ban on radio and television cigarette advertisements goes into effect in the United States. I think my mom banned my dad from smoking in the house around the same time.
  • January 12 – The landmark United States television sitcom All in the Family, starring Carroll O'Connor as Archie Bunker, debuts on CBS. Brilliant script writing, so funny and serious to expose the underbelly of prejudice and belief systems through the eyes and mouth of a lovable bigot.
  • January 25 - In Los Angeles, Charles Manson and 3 female "Family" members are found guilty of the 1969 Tate–LaBianca murders. The word, "psychopath" is integrated into my vocabulary.

  • February - Carole King releases her second solo album, TapestryThe album was certified 13× Platinum by RIAA and it is one of the best-selling albums of all time, with over 25 million copies 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. In 2020, Tapestry was ranked number 25 on Rolling Stone list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. And if that isn't enough for 1971, she releases her third solo album, Music in December. 
  • February - Yes releases its third album, The Yes Album, and turns around and releases Fragile in November. 
  • February 3 – Davy Jones announces he is leaving the Monkees. Davy, Peter and now Michael this last week (12/10/21).  Rest in peace dear lads. 
  • February 5 – Apollo 14 lands on the Moon
  • February 9 - Satchel Paige becomes the first Negro league player to become voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Social justice happens very very slowly in America.
  • February 13 – Vietnam War: Backed by American air and artillery support, South Vietnamese troops invade Laos. Maybe LBJ wasn't so bad after all, sure could use him now dealing with Joe Manchin.
  • February 28 – Evel Knievel sets a world record and jumps 19 cars on a motorbike in Ontario, California. Knievel was the race car crash everybody was waiting for, just on a motorcycle.

  • March - Elton John releases the soundtrack album to the movie, Friends. Then, turns around and in November releases, Madman Across the Water. Creativity is simply on fire in 1971.
  • March 1 - A bomb explodes in the men's room at the United States Capitol; the Weather Underground claims responsibility.
  • March 8 - "Fight of the Century": Boxer Joe Frazier defeats Muhammad Ali in a 15-round unanimous decision at Madison Square Garden. I was bummed, always rooting for Ali.
  • March 11 – THX 1138, George Lucas' first full-length film, premieres in theaters. I saw it several years later in a community college film class.
  • March 12 - The movie,  The Andromeda Strain is released. I just love 'the last person' scenario in Sci-Fi.
  • March 12–13 – The Allman Brothers Band plays their legendary concert at the Fillmore East. Friend Gary Hill is all in with this band.
  • March 28 – The Ed Sullivan Show airs its final episode. End of an era. We saw all the pop and rock 'n' roll bands first on Ed Sullivan. What a fantastic format of entertainment and music right in our living room. Topo Gigio forever!
  • March 29 - U.S. Army lieutenant William Calley is found guilty of 22 murders during the My Lai Massacre and is sentenced to life in prison (he is later pardoned). For me, this was one of those 'end of the innocence' moments. 
  • March 30 – Starbucks coffee shop is founded in the U.S. state of Washington. At Pikes Place Market in Seattle you can go to the original Starbucks and see the original mermaid logo on the storefront window complete with her breasts not covered by her long flowing hair.

  • April 24 - An estimated 200,000 people in Washington, D.C. and a further 125,000 in San Francisco march in protest against the Vietnam War. At 16, I naively thought there would never be another proxy war like Vietnam with America sending its teenagers to fight and die in another country's war.

  • May - Paul McCartney releases Ram, an album I played to death in my bedroom. Then in December, Paul releases Wildlife with his new band Wings. On this one, Paul seems to be wandering in the wilderness, looking for his dear friend.
  • May 1- Amtrak begins intercity rail passenger service in the United States.

  • June movies released - McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Klute, Carnal Knowledge, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
  • June 13 - Vietnam War: The New York Times begins to publish the Pentagon Papers. The antiwar movement is picking up steam.
  • June 17 - President Richard Nixon declares the U.S. War on Drugs. Nixon just liked war... and oh, how did all those drug wars work out?
  • June 27 – Promoter Bill Graham closes the Fillmore East in New York City with a final concert featuring The Allman Brothers Band, The Beach Boys and Mountain. Patrons are given commemorative posters at the door and find red roses on their seats

  • July 3 – Jim Morrison is found dead in a bath tub in Paris, France, aged 27. Alain Ronay would claim, years later, that he assisted Morrison's lover, Pamela Courson, in covering up the circumstances. Courson surely wouldn't be the last to help a famous person OD.
  • July 4 – The Fillmore West is closed in San Francisco with a final show featuring Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Grateful Dead. I was just young enough to miss all this cool hippie stuff that was starting to fade away...
  • July 5 – Right to vote: The 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution, formally certified by President Richard Nixon, lowers the voting age from 21 to 18. In 2021 looking back- How does a Republican President, no less Richard Nixon pass voting rights legislation??? Nothing like that would ever happen today with a Republican President.
  • July 7 - The movie 'Two-Lane Blacktop' is released starring songwriter James Taylor, the Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson, Warren Oates, and Laurie Bird. James Taylor has said he has never seen this movie! I loved this movie and thought James was great!
  • July 9 – Grand Funk Railroad becomes only the second band (after The Beatles) to perform a sold-out concert at Shea Stadium breaking The Beatles record of selling out the venue. Listen, young people make mistakes. You were once young and stupid yourself. How does this entry even make Wikipedia?
  • July 23 - Alison Krauss, American country singer is born. She's a baby and her future musical collaborator, Robert Plant (23 years old at the time) is having another monster year in Led Zeppelin.
  • July 31 – Apollo 15 astronauts David Scott and James Irwin become the first to ride in the Lunar Roving Vehicle, a day after landing on the Moon. Americans are starting to take this for granted.

  • August 1 - The Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden, New York, starring George Harrison, Ravi Shankar, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan and Leon Russell; also featuring Billy Preston, Eric Clapton, Jesse Ed Davis and Badfinger. George was on a roll.
  • August 1971 - The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour premieres on CBS. From Ed Sullivan to now Sonny & Cher on Sunday nights, was the fall of western civilization far behind?
  • August 14 – The Who release their fifth studio album Who's Next, reaching Number One in both the UK and the US. I wore this album out! Like Tapestry, this album is a greatest hits album all by itself. The one thing that always stood out for me even at 16, was Keith Moon's drumming on this album, simply the best I've ever heard over one album. What a birthday present this must have been for someone?
  • August 31 – John Lennon leaves Britain for New York City and will never return. Now the shit that John got from Tricky Dick and his government FBI thugs trying to deport him didn't work and he eventually won permanent residency status in 1976.

  • September 6 – Dolores O'Riordan, Irish singer (The Cranberries) is born. Don't you just love bands named after bugs and fruit.
  • September 8 – In Washington, D.C., the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is inaugurated, with the opening feature being the premiere of Leonard Bernstein's Mass. Nothing like watching the Kennedy Center Honors or any other arts honors ceremony when Trump isn't in the White House.

  • October movies released - The French Connection, Play Misty for Me, The Last Picture Show.
  • October 1 – Walt Disney World opens in Orlando, Florida. My wife and I went there several years ago and were not impressed. Nothing beats the OG.
  • October 29 - Duane Allman, American rock guitarist, co-founder and leader of the Allman Brothers Band is killed in a motorcycle accident. He was only 24 and one can only imagine if he would have been around longer, same for Buddy Holly, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix and Gram Parsons.

  • November movie releases- Fiddler On The Roof, Duel (TV), and Brian's Song (TV).
  • November 8 – Led Zeppelin release officially untitled fourth studio album, which would become the biggest-selling album of the year (1972), the band's biggest-selling album, and the fourth best-selling album of all time. I wasn't a huge hard rock fan but no one could deny their presence and power in the 70's. They came along at such a critical time reminding the world what great Tier 1 Rock really sounded like- as so many crappy Tier 2 and 3 rock bands emerged in the 70's to fill the airwaves with just hot air.

  • December movies releases - Mary, Queen of Scots, Sometimes A Great Notion, A Clockwork Orange, Harold and Maude, Dirty Harry, Straw Dogs, and Diamonds are Forever.
  • December 4 - The Montreux Casino burns down during a Frank Zappa concert (the event is memorialized in the Deep Purple song "Smoke on the Water"). Now Deep Purple, that's a Tier 1 Rock band. I remember teaching in the early 90's and my young assistant who loved to talk music didn't know Deep Purple or the song Smoke on the Water, I was perplexed?

1971 is often called by music critics as the "Best" year of rock 'n' roll. I can't deny that this week's playlist of 200 could have easily taken on many more songs but for the fact that YouTube stops embedded playlists at 200. 

I know I lose marketing hits to the blog by using the term, "Favorites" but so be it, people want to be told what are the "Best" songs to listen to.

Here's my Favorite 'Top 40' albums of 2021. I did rate them, blending my 16 year-old self with my 66 year-old self. The majority of the 200 great songs in the playlist this week come from these 40 albums. I did not rate the songs themselves but simply created my standard handmade random-feel mix. 

Shuffle icon
This mix got me thinking about the first cassette mix tapes I started making in the 70's and playing in my car. In 1979, Sony created the Walkman® and revolutionized taking your personal music with you on a walk or run. When the Apple iPod came out in 2001, it continued making personal music portable and lighter, but also freed songs from being in a linear order with the digital 'Shuffle' feature. For me, Shuffle has been a concept I have fully embraced for twenty years now for listing to playlists, or when listening to all your songs on a device or service. My YouTube playlists are almost always designed to create a handmade random-feel of the Shuffle button I use on my smartphone music app. 

But putting all order aside, this is an endearing if not enduring group of albums and songs from just one year in rock 'n' roll. Long live 1971!

  1. Who's Next, The Who
  2. John Prine, John Prine
  3. Nilsson Schmilsson, Harry Nilsson
  4. Tapestry, Carole King
  5. Madman Across The Water, Elton John
  6. American Pie, Don McClean
  7. Sticky Fingers, The Rolling Stones
  8. Teaser And The Firecat, Cat Stevens
  9. Ram On, Paul McCartney
  10. Mudslide Slim And The Blue Horizon, James Taylor
  11. Year Of Sunday, Seals and Crofts
  12. If I Could Only Remember My Name, David Crosby
  13. Imagine, John Lennon
  14. America, America
  15. Stephen Stills 2, Stephen Stills
  16. Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin
  17. A nod is as good as a wink... to a blind horse, Faces
  18. Straight Up, Badfinger
  19. Aqualung, Jethro Tull
  20. The Yes Album, Fragile, Yes
  21. Live At The Fillmore East, The Allman Brothers
  22. Crazy Horse, Crazy Horse
  23. Bryter Layter, Nick Drake
  24. Friends, Elton John
  25. Music, Carole King
  26. The Low Spark Of The High-Heeled Boys, Traffic
  27. Mudlark, Leo Kottke
  28. What's Going On, Marvin Gaye
  29. Every Picture Tells A Story, Rod Stewart
  30. Tupelo Honey, Van Morrison
  31. Anticipation, Carly Simon
  32. Thirds, James Gang
  33. The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions, Howlin' Wolf
  34. Liv, Livingston Taylor
  35. If You Saw Thro' My Eyes, Iain Matthews
  36. Dave Mason & Cass Elliot, Dave Mason & Cass Elliot
  37. every good boy deserves Favour, The Moody Blues
  38. Mirror, Emitt Rhodes
  39. The Point, Harry Nilsson
  40. Grin featuring Nils Lofgren, Grin

Enjoy my Friends and Happy Festivus... for the rest of us!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Under the Influence • Songs of 1949-1951

Songs of 1949-1951 • 1952-1955 • 1956-1959 • 1960-1962

Howlin' Wolf and band in the 1960's
In May of 2020, I started my Fifty Years of Music series where I feature my favorite songs from a month and year 50 years from when I publish a post on the subject. Then at the end of the year, I post My Favorite Songs of (that year). I started with 1970, and at the end of this year will post My Favorite Songs of 1971.

Since I started the series in 1970, I thought I should go back to the birth of rock ''n' roll in the 1950's and the explosion of rock 'n' roll in the 1960's with lots of treasure to mine into playlists.

In 2019, I wrote a blog called,  Rock 'n' Roll: The Classic Generation 1940-1950. I started that blog by identifying three essential groups of musicians:

  1. The Founding Generation of Rock 'n' Roll born in 1910-1925;
  2. The Pioneering Generation of Rock 'n' Roll born in 1925-1940;
  3. The Classic Generation born between 1940-1950.

The Classic Generation includes all the musicians in: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Cream, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, just to name a few...

I thought I should go back to 1940-1950 where this classic generation of rock 'n' rollers as World War II babies and children, absorbed the music of the day from their parent's radios and records. 

Sun Records, Memphis Tennessee
I then started sifting through Wikipedia's (Year) In Music as my guide starting in 1945. When I got to 1950, I found my starting point-

January 3, 1950 
Sam Phillips launches Sun Records at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee.

Sam Philips [brought in] performers such as B.B. King, Junior Parker, and Howlin' Wolf, who made their first recordings there. Phillips then sold the recordings to larger labels [like Chess Records].

Chess Records located in Chicago was also founded in 1950 by the Chess brothers Leonard and Phil. The brothers formed an early business association with Sam Phillips as both Chicago and Memphis became magnets for the Blue's and early rock 'n' roll.

Sam Phillips
In 1951, Sam Philips produced "Rocket 88" (originally stylized as Rocket "88") is a rhythm and blues song that was first recorded in Memphis, Tennessee, in March 1951. The recording was credited to "Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats", who were actually Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm. The single reached number-one on the Billboard R&B chart [and as distributed by Chess Records].

Many music writers acknowledge Rocket 88's importance in the development of rock and roll music, with several considering it to be the first rock and roll record.

Alan Freed
Also in 1951,  Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed began broadcasting rhythm, blues, and country music for a multi-racial audience. As one source points out, there was some controversy in his selection of recordings: "Freed would play the original singles by the black artists instead of waiting for a white singer to cover them".

Freed, familiar with the music of earlier decades, used the phrase 'rock and roll' to describe the music he aired over station WJW (850 AM).

Several sources suggest that Freed discovered the term (a euphemism for sexual intercourse) on the record "Sixty Minute Man" by Billy Ward and his Dominoes. The lyrics include the line, "I rock 'em, roll 'em all night long". Freed did not acknowledge the suggestion about that source (or the original meaning of the expression) in interviews, and explained the term as follows: "Rock ’n roll is really swing with a modern name. It began on the levees and plantations, took in folk songs, and features blues and rhythm".

This past week, I found a great little documentary titled, Howlin' Wolf - The Howlin' Wolf Story - The Secret History Of Rock & Roll (2003) on Amazon Prime. This 90 minute film gives insight into the beginnings of rock 'n' roll as older black Blues artists influenced many white kids in England hungry to experience American music and culture in the post-war 1950's. 

As a child of the 1960's, I was totally unaware of who Howlin' Wolf was or any other Blues musician. Without the backstory of bands like The Rolling Stones starting out as a Blues cover band in London; I would only later learn in the 1970's about these Blues players and their great contribution to the birth of rock 'n' roll and great influence on bands like The Rolling Stones. The name, "Rolling Stones" actually comes from a Muddy Waters song, Rollin' Stone picked by Stone's guitarist Brian Jones in 1962.  

In 1965, The Rolling Stones were invited to play on the popular ABC music variety show, Shindig!. They said they would do the show only if Howlin' Wolf would perform. On one hand, that's brave of the Stones to do that, on the other hand, it's sad that it took a bunch of young white upstarts from England having the privilege and power to coerce an America TV network to feature a black musical legend and national treasure, born right here the United States.

Note- Billy Preston is the piano player for this performance on Shindig.

I rather enjoyed the interrupted intro of the Shindig host by Brian Jones who basically calls out his BS and tells him, "I think it about time you shut up and we have Howlin' Wolf on stage." 

Another side note- You may have noticed my recent and complete interest in everything Rolling Stones of late. Well the debauchery continues.

Brian Jones
This week, I recommend two Rolling Stones documentaries. First up is, Rolling Stone: The Life and Death of Brian Jones on Amazon Prime. And, if you are a budding 'True-crime podcast' detective, Brian Jones' death would make for a great future podcast series... just saying.

Second is Keith Richards: Under The Influence, a 2015 Netflix one hour and 22 minute film that serves as a video companion to Keith's 2010 autobiography, Life. 

I think Under the Influence is a great title and I've ripped it off to use here for a series of blogs to showcase songs that influenced the development of rock 'n' roll. I think this will serve as a good lead in to My Favorite Songs series that will have a starting date around 1963. 1963 in Music is the first year in Wikipedia where new albums released for that year start to be categorized on a monthly basis. Let that big bang begin! 

Now on to the playlist. Enjoy my friends.

Songs Featured in this 'Under the Influence' Playlist
  1. Rock Awhile is a song by American singer-songwriter Goree Carter, recorded in April 1949 for the Freedom Recording Company in Houston, Texas. The song was released as the 18-year-old Carter's debut single (with "Back Home Blues" as the B-side) shortly after recording. The track is considered by many sources to be the first rock and roll song, and has been called a better candidate than the more commonly cited "Rocket 88", which was released two years later. And, I would agree with that assessment making it my first song to start this playlist.

  2. Move It On Over (1947) Hank Williams. Often cited as one of the earliest examples of rock 'n' roll music. I thought I'd insert it here. The influence of Folk and Country music is unmistakeable to the birth of rock 'n' roll. Hank was right there.

  3. Rock The Joint  (1949) Jimmy Preston & His Prestonians. Another contender for first rock 'n' roll song, there are hundreds and the playlist here is just a sample of the power of R&B and its influence towards rock 'n' roll. 

  4. Rollin' Stone - (1950), Muddy Watters - In 1962 Brian Jones takes the title of this song and names his band, 'Rollin' Stones', then changed to 'Rolling Stones', then finally 'The Rolling Stones.' Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf had a friendly rivalry as both were fearless leaders in the Chicago Blues sound.

  5. Rocket 88- (1951) The original version of the twelve-bar blues song was credited to Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, which hit number one on the R&B charts. Brenston was Ike Turner's saxophonist and the Delta Cats were actually Turner's Kings of Rhythm back-up band, who rehearsed at the Riverside Hotel in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Brenston sang the lead vocal and is listed as the songwriter, although Turner led the band and is said to have been the actual composer of the song.

  6. Sixty Minute Man is a rhythm and blues (R&B) record released in 1951 by Billy Ward and his Dominoes. It was written by Billy Ward and Rose Marks and was one of the first R&B hit records to cross over to become a hit on the pop charts. It is regarded as one of the most important of the recordings that helped generate and shape rock and roll.

  7. Good Night Irene - (1950) 13 weeks at #1 in the U.S. - The Weavers. The song was written by Lead Belly a great influence to the American folk music revival movement in the late 50's and early 60's. 

  8. Down in the Bottom (Written by the great Blues songwriter, Willie Dixon) - Howlin' Wolf 

  9. If You’ve Got The Money I’ve Got The Time (1950) Lefty Frizzell. And you thought Willie Nelson wrote that song. Willie loves Lefty Frizzell. 

  10. Move - (1950) Birth of the Cool - Miles Davis. The man was miles ahead his whole life. 

  11. Rollin' & Tumblin'  - (1950) Muddy Waters. Muddy made it a classic, and in the middle to late 60's he and Howlin' Wolf would be playing songs like this to a whole new generation of fans via rock 'n' roll bands from England.

  12. Hey, Good Lookin' - (1951) 8 weeks at #1 C&W charts - Hank Williams

  13. The Thrill is Gone (1951) Roy Hawkins. B.B. King makes this a #1 hit song in 1970, a magical time when some of the Blues greats finally got their due.

  14. How High the Moon (1951) 9 weeks at #1 in the U.S. - Les Paul & Mary Ford

  15. Unforgettable - (1950) Only #14 in the U.S. Later in 1961 Nat King Cole would record the song again and it became his biggest song. 

  16. Cold Cold Heart (1951) #1 Country & Western charts - Hank Williams

  17. Walkin' Blues (1950) Muddy Waters. England is listening and learning.

  18. Moanin' at Midnight (1951) Howlin' Wolf. England is listening and learning.

References - All Wikipedia