Showing posts with label Stevie Wonder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stevie Wonder. Show all posts

Monday, August 31, 2020

50 Years of Music • August, 1970

This week's playlist is dominated by three albums.

The first is Eric Clapton's solo debut, Eric Clapton listened by me many times in 1970 and over the years thanks to pal Ron Zieman's initial purchase of the album.

This week's listen to that album reminded me of a blog I wrote last year as I've grown to appreciate Delaney & Bonnie and Friends (1967-1972) who contributed greatly to Eric Clapton.

In my July 1969, 50 Years of Music blog, I wrote- "The great musicians who passed through this band in the late 60's and early 70's is truly astonishing and a huge influence on why Eric Clapton quit Blind Faith to move towards Bonnie & Delaney's sound, not to mention co-opt much of their band when he formed Derek and the Dominoes in 1970." 

Bonnie and Delaney Bramlett, 1970
In my opinion, Bonnie and Delaney Bramlett simply have not been given the recognition they deserve for developing Clapton's sound in the early 70's. Delaney arranged and produced and Bonnie co-wrote many of the songs on Eric Clapton. You will also hear their influence that Leon Russell brought to Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen in this week's playlist, and bump that back to Russell's time spent as a band member in Delaney & Bonnie and Friends in 1969 as the genesis of Cocker's sound. It is that similar large band and vocals ensemble that Clapton would carry to Derek and the Dominoes and George Harrison leading to All Things Must Pass as Delaney Bramlett also introduced Harrison to slide guitar.

Eric Clapton was Eric's first solo album but was very much a collaborative project with the Bramlett's. As time marches on, I believe most people have never heard of Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, or simply, "Bonnie and Delaney" as we used to call them back in the day. Bonnie and Delaney got me thinking about 'influence' this past week and that most influential people are in fact forgotten, but their influence lives on in others work.

The second album is Spirit in the Dark by Aretha Franklin, an album I had never listened to until last week.

In fifty years, I can look back to my youth without musical judgement in the sense of my small town cultural exposure at fifteen versus my cumulative cultural experiences now into my sixty-fifth year. Stevie Wonder's August, 1970 Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours was a monster hit on pop AM radio that opened that R&B door a little wider for me, but there was not much 'Retha on my local radio dial back then to turn my head in her direction.
(Hey Nineteen that's 'Retha Franklin, she don't remember the Queen of Soul –Steely Dan)

What I can appreciate all these years later in Aretha's Spirit in the Dark is her complete mastery as a writer, singer and kick ass piano player. This was her seventeenth studio album and she also knew a thing or two about attracting a crowd of very talented people around her. The record includes three of the top producers in recording history with Tom Dowd, Arif Mardin and Jerry Wexler. The supporting band members include, Duane Allman and the famous Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.

The third album is Stage Fright by The Band and in this listen, I have a greater appreciation in how they used three different singers that could lead a song or provide backup vocals for each other. I've always loved Rick Danko's voice as I use the The Last Waltz video clip of the title song Stage Fright to feature the band. In my blog last week, The Band was on several reader's top five bands of all-time list.

For me, Stage Fright just keeps getting better as it stands the test of time as any of their albums. In fact as I was listening to this album this week it made me think about the many artists and bands in the mid-1970's through 80's that lost their rock 'n' roll way. Radio creatures like country pop or that stupid soft jazz tenor saxophone phase finally gave way in the 90's to older and newer bands reclaiming a more authentic 'Americana sound' like well, The Band.

Thanks to Paul and Duskin Hobbs
for this book recommendation
In 2020 everybody loves The Band and if you feel the same way, I highly recommend reading, This Wheel's on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of the Band. I'm only a quarter way in and I'm completely hooked with Levon Helm's folksy writing style and the stories he tells that are just so spellbinding. I keep saying to myself as I'm reading, "This book would be a fantastic movie!"

By the way, If you have never seen the 1980 movie, Coal Miner's Daughter it is a good one to catch. In fact, the first half of that movie where Levon Helm plays Loretta Lynn's father is outstanding! He is right there with Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones and if you read Levon's book above, you'll see from his childhood how he poured that right into his performance in that movie.

I hope you will also enjoy this eclectic mix from The Moody Blues, Canned Heat, The Beach Boys, The CarpentersLittle Richard, Roberta Flack, The Mothers of Invention, and Judy Collins.  This weeks 50 song playlist ends with a few select video clips from the now famous Isle of Wight Festival, in August of 1970.

The Isle of Wight Festival is a British music festival which takes place annually in Newport on the Isle of Wight, England. It was originally a counterculture event held from 1968 to 1970.

This event was held between 26 and 30 August 1970 at Afton Down. Attendance has been estimated by the Guinness Book of Records to have been 600,000 or even 700,000, due to an announcement by British Rail at that time concerning the amount of sold ferry tickets, although promoter Ray Foulk has said he believes it to have been only half of that. It was widely reported on, due to its line-up and extremely high attendance. Acts included Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, Chicago, The Doors, Lighthouse, The Who (whose set produced a live album), Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Moody Blues, Joan Baez, Free, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Kris Kristofferson, Donovan, John Sebastian, Terry Reid, Taste, and Shawn Phillips
Wikipedia


Monday, August 26, 2019

Summer of '69 (August), 50 Years of Music

August of '69, I'm about to enter high school and be on the freshmen football team. The tradition was that every football player at Santa Maria High School had to buzz cut their hair in order to try-out.

Can you imagine, all my friends are growing long(er) hair and I have to look like I'm going into the military. In 1969, the military draft were taking boys just 4 years older than me, to Vietnam.

My new buzz cut was a serious blow to my wannabe hippy thing. Maybe listening to bands like Jethro Tull with my next door neighbor Ron would keep me at least at the counterculture back door, looking in.

Now listening to Jethro Tull's album, Stand Up 50 years later is like a lightning bolt flash back. Ron had purchased the album, and like I've said many times in my blogs, I'm sitting on his bed listening and looking at the album cover art. Our auditory music memory is like our sense of smell, you hear it and you're right back in a place long ago. Stand Up holds up!

Next up, Green River by Creedence Clearwater Revival. I loved this album with one of my top 100 songs of all-time, Bad Moon Rising.

Mary Kit and I saw John Fogerty in Las Vegas a couple of years ago and he really puts on a fantastic show. If you have not seen John Fogerty recently, I highly recommend you go to one of his shows, it will make everything in the world pause for a couple of hours. Mary Kit says he's back in Vegas this November with his 50 Year Trip.

John's music is so pure and I often link Booker T. and the MG's and CCR with both having a simple and authentic sound that has stood the test of time. Green River holds up!

I have most Donovan albums checked in my Amazon Music app and he randomly comes up on many a trail run, and I rarely skip a song. By 1969, Barabajagal was his seventh studio album and he kept his hits streak rolling with this album. I've included the song, I Love My Shirt which so reminds me of a song that the great children's songwriter, Raffi  could have written. Donovan always did his own thing and didn't try to imitate Bob Dylan. I like that Donovan usually did an anti-war song on his many albums and on this one penned, To Susan on the West Coast Waiting [From Andy in Vietnam Fighting].

Santana is Santana's debut album who were one of the unknown bands to the Woodstock audience a few weeks prior in August of '69. Talk about great timing! Santana took off like a roaring lion and Carlos has never stopped. I'm partial to this original lineup and had the pleasure of seeing the organ and lead singer for Santana, Gregg Rolie several years ago in Ringo Starr's All-Star Band. Greg sings Santana's early hits and is never recognized until he starts singing and Ringo's crowds love it!

Harry is Harry Nilsson's fourth studio album and like most people I didn't get back to this album until he became more famous in the 1970's. The big song from this album is I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City, the similar sounding song to Fred Neil's Everybody's Talkin', the smash hit from the 1969 film, Midnight CowboyDirector John Schlesinger had been using Nilsson's cover of Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin'" as an example of the kind of song he wanted on the final soundtrack but then decided not to replace it. If "I Guess the Lord ..." had been included, it would have been eligible for an Oscar, as it was an original song. Harry Nilsson did win a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Everybody's Talkin'" [in 1970]. Wikipedia.


The summer of '69 is a memorable  period for millions of Americans. We landed on the moon in July and then Woodstock in August. In September, The Beatles release Abbey Road and we begin to close out a decade with some of the most memorable music ever made.

At fourteen, I didn't realize the impact of living in 1969 until years later, but often reflect back here in this blog with the knowledge and experience of When I'm Sixty-Four.

Grandchildren on your knee...

Peace and Love 2019 my friends!


Here is the Spotify Playlist link this week- Summer of '69 (August), 50 Years of Music.
Youtube Playlist embedded here.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Christmas Mix 2017

Christmas Mix:  2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020


Update Monday, December 18, 2017
Ok, last call on this blog, I've added a few more songs. Bill, you now have 46 songs and comedy bits for your office building party! The Hope and Music fund is now at $2,105 as of this morning!

Update Monday, December 11, 2017
I got busy over the weekend and upgraded the blog with a new and cleaner look! I also added some new songs and comedy bits to this post that I think you will enjoy. I will continue to add more videos up until Christmas so keep checking back to the playlist. Also, I included my Youtube Christmas mixes from years past to play at your office party or just around the house.

Note - Bob Caligiuri's Hope and Music fund is now at $1,755 as of this morning! Yippee, more music instruments for the children of Aquila, Mexico!
_______________

I want to thank the people who read my Monday Monday Music blog this year as many of you continue to give me positive feedback to keep this little blog going (most) every Monday!

Before I get to my Christmas Mix playlist this year, I would like to revisit my blog from two weeks ago, Hope and Music for the Children of Aquila. As of this writing, it is my most successful blog to date with close to 200 hits. More importantly, I'm hoping in a very small way to help my friend Bob Caligiuri reach his goal of creating a youth center filled with musical instruments and music lessons for the children of Aquila, Mexico.

It is my Christmas wish that you visit his GoFundMe page @
Hope & Music for Children of Aquila and pledge a donation of $10 to help Bob get over the $1,000 mark of his goal for $18,600. Bob leaves for his third trip down to Aquila in mid-December through Christmas. Bob's a damn skinny Santa, but every bit will help as he goes down with his fat Santa bag of musical instruments!

Now on to this year's (and third annual) Christmas mix. My current favorite singer-songwriter is Texas born, Kacey Musgraves. I'll be writing a blog on her soon as I continue to discover her song catalogue on Amazon and videos on YouTube. I would love to see her live, so if you all hear anything on a Southern California stop on tour, let me know. Anyway, I somehow missed her Christmas album last year, A Very Kacey Christmas, but this year it's front and center on my 2017 Christmas mix.

I'm sure I'm repeating myself from year one or two about being so damned tired of hearing the same 1940's - 1960's traditional Christmas recordings.  Not that I'm above a new take on a traditional Christmas song (as there's several here) but please a little more variety. My local UPS clerk, Patrick was telling me how the traditional Christmas loop tape in his branch store was sheer torture. I think Bing's White Christmas was playing through the ceiling speakers during my package drop-off, but kind of like having to listen to Hotel California on classic radio, or even John and Yoko's Happy Xmas (War is Over) for the millionth time. (Too soon? and really, Yoko on the chorus, yes my friends and I still haven't gotten over it.)

So here's my latest mix, again heavy in the Americana genre, but that's how I holly jolly roll these days. I wish you all a Merry Merry Christmas (and no Donald, I'm not saying that because of you)!


Monday, July 25, 2016

Transcendental Good Morning

On my trail run, songs inevitably start playing in my head that often begin the spark of a blog idea as I jog in the dirt alongside the brush and Eucalyptus trees. From suburban sidewalks and street traffic, I arrive at a greenbelt trail head that starts my hour routine of movement and solitary thought. I've come to cherish this time and call it, my moving meditation.

I almost always run in the morning with a Good Day Sunshine start to my day. On some days, if I get an early start, I will see no one on the trail. On other days, I will encounter my regular group of strangers that have a similar walking, running or biking route to me and I see all the time.  This is a public access community trail and I also see a lot of new strangers as well. What I find fascinating (enough to write a blog about), is the spectrum of social skills when I encounter people especially in the close proximity of this winding trail. In fact, I believe there is a Murphy's Law of trail running, as it seems you're most likely to encounter an oncoming person (usually with their dog) at the narrowest parts of the path.

So, using my greeting skills, I initiate a hardy, "Good morning", "Hello", "Hi" (at least 90% of the time). To my regular trail pedestrians, I sometimes throw in a "Howdy" or something like, "Hey, isn't this just a great day!" I would say that people respond back, roughly 80% of the time. So one day, I decided to add a couple of visual prompts to my greeting by also waving "hi" coupled with a big smile. Over time, this has raised the percentage of non responses to now most people giving a verbal response or at least, a parroting hand wave back.

This past week was typical. I said to a couple of regulars I see every week on their daily walk, "Stay cool" (as temperatures are getting in the 90's here), this was followed by.....crickets. Then, about a mile up the trail, a woman initiates, "Good Morning" with a wave and big smile. I happily respond back, but the smile stays on my face for several more seconds as we pass. She has that morning sunshine beaming in her and she beamed it right at me, simply wonderful.

 You see, we're having fun being on this trail, enjoying life with some of the best weather on earth (in San Diego). But often and I mean often, I encounter disengaged, grumpy, too busy to look away from their phone people, or the classic straight ahead stare of avoidance with the oncoming me in their path.

Now I'm not going to ever be remembered as starting world peace here, but I think it's important to express a positive attitude when encountering strangers, even if the result is- it makes only me feel positive in that moment. But just maybe in my dirt travels, I snapped a few people out of their funk. Maybe someone is taking a walk to get out of a funk and suddenly a welcoming Mr. Sun just runs by. I know, no big deal. But in our current times where intolerance is making an overt cultural comeback, we need to employ the power of kindness and respect to one another. The power of "Good morning" is the power of the sun as the two dance together in a simple exchange to connect with people on the human highway.

On three occasions on the trail, I've stopped one of my regular strangers and introduced myself. When we now see each other, we stop and talk for a couple minutes just to ask each other, "How ya been?" I now have three people who have moved up from the regular stranger category to the, "Good Morning Tony", "Good Morning Martin" and "Good Morning John" acquaintance status.

The first video below is a Ted Talk by Ali Ghambara. I meet Ali through my buddy Bill DeVoe on Cherry St. (outside of Ali's coffeehouse) in downtown Seattle on one fine morning this past spring. He greeted us with an enthusiastic, "Good morning" and we all had a brief street conversation together. I still remember his body language and hand shake expressing that it was good to meet and connect, he meant it.

Hope you can take the time to listen to Ali's talk and then listen to my Transcendental Good Morning Playlist, it is guaranteed to start your Monday off on a positive note.