Showing posts with label Stephen Stills. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stephen Stills. Show all posts

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 16, 2020

Fifty Years of Music • November, 1970

This week is a cornucopia of something old and something old as I present two playlists this week. 

First, fifty years ago today is a wonderful BBC Concert with James Taylor. James has gone into his music vault and has remastered the original British television broadcast into YouTube video clips. I was impressed by the audio quality and I think you will enjoy his playlist as he has recently been releasing a song a week from the concert. So far, he has released nine videos, and don't hesitate to come back here to see if he's added a few more.

Second, is the very impressive month of album releases from November, 1970. I couldn't believe how many great albums were all released in this moment in time. I put together a playlist of seventy-two songs rather quickly as you will see I basically lifted almost all the songs from several personal favorites. 

A quick story. I'm fifteen and had a bunch of kids over from my church youth group. Being painfully shy, the thought of being a host for anything was terrifying. As the kids started coming into my family room and gathering, I was flummoxed, what to do to get this thing rolling? I had recently purchased Cat Stevens' Tea For The Tillerman and quickly retrieved it from my bedroom. I put the record on my parents stereo console in the family room and took a breath. Tommy Wishard, a couple of years older than me and a star basketball player at my high school, turned to me and said, "I love this album!" The evening went well, and another day saved by rock 'n' roll, not to mention my mom's French onion dip for the chips.

So I think I have you covered this week, enjoy, stay well and mask up!

James Taylor BBC in Concert • November 16, 1970


Doug's Playlist from albums released in November, 1970


Monday, November 04, 2019

Echo in the Canyon

Rickenbacker 360-12 Electric Guitar
 So I finally got a chance to see the Andrew Slater documentary echo in the canyon (2018) starring Jacob Dylan and just released this past week on Netflix and linked here.

This documentary has gotten a few harsh reviews, as notably Joni Mitchell is not even mentioned, even in the context of the California Sound evolving from surfing and car songs to more socially conscious and interpersonal songs. For god's sake, as a Laurel Canyon resident who released Ladies of the Canyon in 1970 she (and The Doors) deserved a little shout out here. Also the overuse  of clips from the 1969 art film Model Shop as Slater's and Dylan's inspiration for the documentary is annoying but is easily put aside.

With that said, this 1 hour and 22 minute doc has plenty of great clips of its own as you get a snapshot of the the mid to late 60's in Laurel Canyon with some of the famous musicians who lived there and some famous musicians who didn't. My favorite was getting to watch Tom Petty talk about music one more time as this was his last recorded interview. The beginning of the film with Tom is a fantastic hook that for me is my ultimate sweet spot of Monday Monday jingle jangle 60's rock 'n' roll and my original inspiration for writing this blog. For me, learning anything new about three of my all-time favorite bands- The Mamas & The Papas, The Byrds, and Buffalo Springfield are gem pieces to the rock 'n' roll puzzle for those of us who just can't get enough of this stuff. Man, to have a time machine and be a young adult in Laurel Canyon and on the Sunset Strip in the mid-sixties, would be...



Here's several key elements that make this film 'a must see' that covers the folk to folk rock transformation.

This starts with the transition of folk musicians and studio recording in New York mostly moving to Los Angeles shortly after The Beatles stepped off the plane in 1964. John Sebastian tells how Roger McGuinn started singing Beatles' songs in folk clubs in New York and Los Angeles with no success but with the guts of a pioneer and a Beatles inspired 12 string Rickenbacker 360-12 electric guitar. 

In the film, Roger McGuinn gets a much deserved feature as a major architect from musicians singing folk songs with acoustic guitars to composing folk rock songs with electric guitars. Here's a quick clip (not in the film) of Roger and his Rickenbacker.



In the film, Roger and The Byrds take traditional folk songs like Pete Seeger's The Bells of Rhymney and transform it in their 1965 version. Here's a set of clips, first with Seeger's original version, and then The Byrds.





I also enjoyed the conversations with famous musicians who discuss how art is a continual process of iteration and the 'cross pollination' of songs that influence song writing. I bought a book a couple of years ago by Austin Kleon with the perfect title to describe this process of creativity, Steal like an Artist. In the 1960's, Laurel Canyon becomes such a place where collaboration + competition = creativity. One example from the doc, is how George Harrison adapts Roger's riffs on The Byrds version of The Bells of Rhymney that influence him in his 1965 song, If I Needed Someone.



Then, Brian Wilson is blown away by Rubber Soul and that inspires him to write Pet Sounds in 1966. In turn, The Beatles are inspired by Pet Sounds, and in 1967 create Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. (As a side note to the playlist below- I also include Buffalo Springfield's (Stephen Stills) Questions, which morphs into Carry On with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and then Eric Clapton adapts the Questions riff for his song, Let It Rain (1970) .

July 25, 1965 - Newport Folk Festival
The film's MC role is played with perfect Bob Dylan DNA detachment by son Jakob Dylan, born in 1969. I think son Dylan does a great job tapping into dad's influence without mentioning his name. As the greatest songwriter of his generation, Bob Dylan himself also makes the historic transition from acoustic folk to electric rock 'n' roll and turns the music world on its head at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.

As the documentary unfolds, I realize Jakob is the perfect medium to tell this story. His quiet casual manner and approach to the material works perfectly for the famous musicians who take his questions and run with it (e.g. David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Tom Petty,  Eric Clapton, Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne, Lou Adler and Michelle Phillips).

Jakob brings in his own generation of musicians to update 13 songs from the California Sound era that in their interpretation remain both current and true to the originals. In the playlist below, I start with the original 60's version and then follow it with the Jakob and friends take. I love his selections as Jakob goes for some of the deeper cuts, not just the hits and hey that's my kind of playlist! I highly recommend you make the time to watch echo in the canyon this week on Netflix, it's a trip!



Monday, May 13, 2019

Crosby, Stills & Nash - Celebrating 50 Years of Their Debut Album

Back and Front Album Cover - Photo by Henry Diltz | Source - PopSpots by Bob Egan
On May 29, 1969 Crosby, Stills & Nash was released by Atlantic Records. I love all ten songs today as much as I did when I was a teenager because their place in time helped define my place in time.

The album cover photo taken by Henry Diltz was scouted by Graham Nash and Art Director, Gary Burden in LA. As the two were driving around, they found an abandoned house in West Hollywood with the infamous couch in the front. On the day of the photo shoot, the band had not decided on a name yet. A day or so after the shoot, the boys decided on Crosby, Stills & Nash. They then went back to do a reshoot so that their names would correspond with their left right order on the couch. When they got there, the house had been torn down and lay in a pile of rubble. Oh well, the dye was cast, and Diltz's photo is a rock 'n' legend in its own right.

I love this story because I've always felt the band's last names order was always out of order. As any person that follows music in the 1960's knows (or at least in my opinion)- Stills' name should have gone first, Nash second, and Crosby third. Don't get me wrong, they are all truly gifted as they came together from famous bands to make the supergroup of harmony, but Stephen is the music genius of the three. Like a five-tool baseball player, Stephen Stills is a superstar songwriter, singer, and both an acoustic guitar and electric guitar master. And I suppose the fifth tool being, he publicly appeared to keep his ego a little more checked at the doorstep than his other star bandmates (starting with his name being second).

When I saw Graham Nash perform in San Diego last year, he warmly talked about the making of the debut album and how Stephen arranged and played every instrument on the album with the exception of Dallas Taylor on drums (shown behind the door on the back cover of the album photo).

I've always been a Stephen Stills and Neil Young fan, but I would say I was a Stephen Stills fan first starting with the two in Buffalo Springfield. As the two alpha's of Buffalo Springfield, Neil has always had a propensity to just leave and he did just that to Buffalo Springfield in 1968. 

In July of 1968, Cass Elliot took Nash (still in The Hollies) to meet the now band-less Stills (from Springfield) and Crosby (fired from The Byrds) to a party at Joni Mitchell's house in Laurel Canyon, and the birth of the band was born that day. 

In the formation of Crosby, Stills & Nash, I believe this was Stephen's chance to get out from Neil and do his own thing. The debut album is such a fresh start for all three that embodies the pure joy of collaboration. It was also Stephen's moment to lead and I became a HUGE Stephen Stills fan after this album with his fingerprints all over it. 

And yes, the album was a big hit, but more importantly, it was all the buzz within the music industry in Los Angeles. A few years later in the mid-seventies, another famous LA band would say in a famous song..."we haven't had that spirit here since 1969, and still those voices are calling from far away"...

In the months following the debut, Ahmet Ertegun, the President of Atlantic Records had the idea to suggest adding Neil Young to the group. Now that was both brilliant and ballistic at the same time. Brilliant because we get the album Déjà Vu and the song, Ohio in 1970, and ballistic because Neil is Neil and he tends to just do his own thing, which is also brilliant by the way.  

The storied history of CS&N and CSN&Y through their breakups, makeups and breakups has been well chronicled and I won't go into depth here. I will indulge in the idea of  "what if" because like Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills & Nash were broken up as a band shortly after take off. It would have been special for the trio to have ridden that moment of 1969 and carry on as a trio. The inclusion of Neil Young cut short the magical run that many monster bands or single artists have, 5+ successive years of lighting the fire and being at the top of the music game. Not surprisingly, Neil Young did just that in his 1970's solo run while using a splash of Stills, Nash, Crosby, The Stray Gators, and of course Crazy Horse mixed in.


Side note- I was in Maui last October and wanted to see Mick Fleetwood's restaurant. Fleetwood's On Front St. It's in an old general store building upstairs (pictured above), but the gem is walking downstairs to Henry Diltz's photo studio, Morrison Hotel Gallery in Fleetwood's General Store in Lahaina, HI. In the Gallery, was an original print of the Crosby, Stills & Nash album cover. The Gallery's Art Consultant, Sharon Cholet filled me in on all the history of the photo shoot and I appreciated her time. The print cost $500 and I wanted it so bad.

Enjoy my friends, this one is special.


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, January 23, 2017

Game On

Since last Friday, I've been playing in my head, Game On by The Rides with Stephen Stills on lead vocals. I hark back to Stephen's song, For What It's Worth, about the Sunset Strip riots in 1966 and the feeling that LA City Government was restricting young people's rights through a 10 pm curfew on the Strip. However, For What It's Worth, released in 1967 by Buffalo Springfield was often viewed of as a Vietnam War protest song. For me, it was the dawn of a political awakening beginning in 7th grade and a song I never tire of listening to. Anyway, Game On is my new theme song for our current national leadership and government as I go around singing, "Get your game on" as the news plays out on my flat screen. Thanks Stephen, you rock as always!






Monday, July 18, 2016

The Rides and Stephen Stills being one of the best band mates ever!


The Rides are a kicking Blues band with Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepard and Barry Goldberg (on keyboards). Stills from Florida and Louisiana and Shepard from Louisiana bring a tradition of Delta Blues along with a complementary sharing of lead and rhythm guitar duties. The two are a powerful combination as they both play off each with mutual respect.

You have to hand it to Stephen for being the elder star here as he equally shares the stage with grace and style in a trio totally in sync with one another.

Can't Get Enough - Amazon
Pierced Arrow - Amazon
MK and I saw The Rides on June 1st of this year at the Balboa Theatre. This is a great old palace in downtown San Diego that was built in 1924. We had also seen David Crosby earlier this year at the Balboa and love the acoustics as David's voice was built for the place. Anyway, I love The Rides first two albums and what a pure delight to see them live at this venue and, see Stephen having such a great time!

Growing up, Stephen Stills was always one of my favorite musicians with a spectacular career in two of the most iconic bands in rock 'n roll history. Buffalo Springfield is one of the first bands that really grabbed my attention to "stop, children what's that sound" and listen to a unique band that just ended much too soon. Their second album, Buffalo Springfield Again is the first album I ever bought myself (with my paper route money, along with Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced). Then, the long ride with CSN and CSNY. His solo career with Stephen Stills, Stephen Stills 2 and Manassas are just great memories of music in high school.

Like many musicians whom became famous in the 1960's and 70's, it is nice to see artists like Stephen Stills still creating new music. You also come to recognize from the greats is their ability to be a collaborator, as their art and participation contributes to making a successful whole band album. Stills embodies this collaborative spirit and thus is one of the greatest band mates of all-time. This is also an inspiration for me personally, in that we all can keep on creating new things with new people and have fun at the same time. Look at Stephen's smile here in the studio with Barry and Kenny Wayne, that says it all.

Enjoy my playlist, The Rides.