RSS

Monthly Archives: March 2008

Out of the Ordinary is the Ordinary…Ray Charles

Ray Charles was such a complete and uncanny talent. There was really nothing he couldn’t sing nor anywhere he couldn’t sing it. Here are a few songs that demonstrate his unparalleled range and adaptability, throughout his magnificent career. I think he encapsulates it best in the interview here:

If you can sing what’s in your heart, and keep time…well, that’s it.

My Bonnie

In the Evening

Let the Good Times Roll, Tel Aviv

While I maintain that NOBODY sings Yesterday accept McCartney, I think Ray comes close:

Yesterday

But, perhaps my favorite of Ray’s Beatles’ covers is Let It Be. His tempo changes and little touches create a whole different feel to the wonderful classic, yet still makes it believable.

Let It Be

Ray had a certain af-FECK-shun and ap-PREE-she-ashun for The Beatles. Other wonderful Ray Beatles’ covers:

Long & Winding Road

Eleanor Rigby

Never short of genres to invade, Ray conquered them all and all of their artists.

Chattanooga Choo-Choo

Ring of Fire

Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma with Babs

Livin’ for the City, with Stevie Wonder

Oh Happy Day with The Voices of Jubilation

He even conquered the instruments:

On Lead Sax

And I just have to add this one, because it’s one of my all time favorite Ray tunes:

Drown in My Own Tears

Amen, Reverend.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 31, 2008 in blues, Country, music legends, ray charles

 

Sunday Smorgashbord

Hope you’re enjoying this splendid Sunday….get outside, take some pictures, have yourself an “Arnold Palmer”.

rcp_arnoldpalmer_290x210_20080320164727.jpg

RECIPE:

1/2 cup Lemonade

1/2 cup Iced Tea

1 jigger of Vodka 

1 shade tree

Sunday Morning, The Velvet Underground

Sunday Morning, Maroon 5

Pleasant Valley Sunday, The Monkees

Sunday Girl, Blondie

Gloomy Sunday, Billie Holiday

Easy, The Commodores

Sunday Morning Coming Down, Johnny Cash & Kris Kristofferson

Sunday, Bloody Sunday, U2

Sunday Kind of Love, Etta James (ignore the mildly disturbing cat video)

 
5 Comments

Posted by on March 30, 2008 in weekdays

 

The Queen of Soul…One Girl’s Perspective

aretha.jpg

Many a young girl (and old ones, as well) have belted out Aretha Franklin’s anthems like Chain of Fools, Never Loved a Man and House That Jack Built with fervor and passion, playacting at commanding an audience the way the Queen does.

One such mini-Ree is our own Shrew. This uber-fan of the Queen realized a dream and was able to attend Aretha’s concert in NYC, at Radio City Music Hall, no less.

aretha-ticket.jpg

Image Courtesy of Shrew

Rather than me trying to inadequately relay the experience, here it is straight from the horse’s mouth:

Imagine yourself walking through the fabulous streets of New York City…not the gritty streets of the 70’s and 80’s , but the lush sparkling streets of midtown in the 60’s.
The lush New York of Holly Go-Lightly…

The sophisticated city of May and Nichols…

The controversial vibe of Dylan and Cafe Waa…

and one site you would likely see is

The Queen of Soul, the Empress of Music…sold out for a two night engagement at the world famous Radio City Music Hall. But, this is 2008, right?

Not so for this gal, for one night it was 1966 and I was seeing Aretha.
The energy was electric as we walked into the beautiful Radio City Music Hall.

I wasn’t sure if it was my excitement or the design of the interior, but everything I saw assumed this golden rose hue. If you have never been to Radio City Music Hall you must understand that no detail is without the grace and beauty of art deco influences.
From the etched “Rockettes Glass” overseeing the main lobby…

 to the grand mural along the master stairwell.

Even the bathroom looks like a set from a Fred and Ginger movie…

There are Rockettes even waiting to take you back to your seat…

So we made our way to the doors. As we approached the full glow of the stage radiated through the door into the hall.

And the doors opened….

The full splendor of Radio City can not be told through words and pictures. The grandure of the space is lost. I was pleased to see despite being in the second to last row on the third mezz. our view of the stage was terrific.
The place filled up rather quickly. The crowd was a melange of young packs of twenty-somethings to couples reliving there 1960’s memories. The atmosphere equaled a gospel revival…reverant and jublient all in the same breath.
The lights dimmed and the funky pulse of a tight ensamble pierced the air. Then the lights lifted…

The crowd bubbled with anticipation as the band limbered up…then THE moment.
A legend is announced~
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the EMPRESS OF MUSIC, AREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETHA FRAAAAAAANKLIN.”


The music vamped for a while and from stage right she walked on, giving a few saucy side bobs of her head and then headed center stage.

And then…She sang. Those first few notes hit my ears and my heart lept. Vibrations of sound that she was making, left her throat and traveled through the air directly connecting with my ears. At first all I heard was emotion; pure energy and soul heaped out of one being and offered up to hundreds.
My eyes welled, was I really hearing the same woman as she sang that I danced to when I was four? That I grooved to when I was 15? That I made countless others listen to when I was 20? That I sang with at the top of my lungs while I drove to work the day before? Live, here, now, in front of me, sounding every bit the woman I have heard on record all my life.
Then in an instant: I was present hearing what Aretha was singing, “Your Love is Lifting Me Higher” as if an ode to each and everyone of us who continue to love her. Aretha shifted to a rendition of My Funny Valentine that was bluesy and introspective. Then she went back to one of my favorite songs…her number one hit cover of Don’t Play That Song.

Now, if you have come to read the set list I will disappoint you…I stink at getting them. I do know, she made Moody’s Mood For Love a worthy inclusion for the set, gliding effortlessly through each vocal obsticle slung her way.
And then before I knew what was happening…”bada-bang, bada-bang, bada-bang, bada-bang. HOO- What you want? Hoo-Baby I got it” Radio City errupted…all jumped to their feet enmass to groove. All, excpet for the guy sitting next to me. Dude? Really? You can sit through one of the most electric songs ever? I guess so because he just sat clapping together his finger tips in time like he was listening to a Bach concert. Weird no? All I could think is he MUST be bad in bed.
Ms. Franklin welcomed to the stage Ali-Ollie Woodson of Temptation fame to “take us to church” with some gospel. And we went to church. One word for Aretha and gospel…resplendent!

Halfway through the show, Aretha welcomed her seventeen year old son KeCalf, a christian hip-hop artist onto the stage. He did a yoeman’s job of performing while his mother rested. The two songs felt long and I was accutely aware of the crowd’s discomfort. As a treat, Ms. Franklin sang Chain of Fools upon return.

All in all the evening was all I wished…then the strains of Old Landmark began and Aretha and crew raised the roof. All concerned were out of our seats and boogying on down

“Shouting, shouting, shouting, shouting…Stay in the service of the Lord.”

and off she went…stage right.

Clapping… and many vamps of the band.

On she came…

The encore she chose was the seasonal, Berlin’s Easter Bonnet. As she sang, you could not help but feel this one song was more for her than for us. That fact did not deminish the enjoyment of the simple melody and wish.
Soul, Gospel, Jazz, Contemporary R&B, American Standard…why indeed…Empress of Music is accurate.

90 minutes…much much too short.

Fabulous.

 

 

 

Click here for video. Take that Beyonce’.

 

Ray LaMontagne Re-visited

Last June, I did a post on Live From Abbey Road, on The Sundance Channel and the fact that Ray LaMontagne was one of the sessions. I happened to be exploring and came across Ray’s session again. Ray is akin to Thursday to me so it just seemed right for a Thursday post. You know, latter part of the week so you’re counting down to the weekend with much anticipation, but still in work mode enough that you can’t relax just yet.

Ole Ray is still whack but I’m drawn to him like a moth to a flame. What is it about his Ted Kacynzki manner that I like so much? This interview is a prime example of the dichotomy that is Ray LaMontagne.

Perhaps it’s his obvious vulnerability or maybe it’s just his passion of the music. It could be that he’s just so unpretentious. Whatever it is, I keep coming back.

Hold You in My Arms

I particularly like this performance of Trouble:

From the BBC Four Sessions performance….

Empty

Three More Days

Forever My Friend on Letterman:

However, likely my most favorite Ray tune is Shelter:

Happy Thursday, Ray. Oh, and you too, guys.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on March 27, 2008 in acoustic, ray lamontagne

 

Most Original? Think Not.

So, my sistah from anutha mistah (ShrewbieDoobyDo), recommends that I watch just one performance from last night.  Reluctantly, I clicked on the You Tube link to experience this:

Now, I have to say that Dude blew that crap away.  He’s been somewhat overlooked to date but this performance certainly got him noticed.  While I was impressed by his take and delivery, I cannot agree with Randy as to the most original on the show ever.

As you can imagine, THIS guy was the most original…

Contrary to popular belief, NOBODY out boogies “The Boogie”.  While David Cook is good and different than the celluloid fembots and testosterone challenged males, he is very reminisicent of this dude:

And, the first guy to RAWK on Idol has to be recognized:

Idol really needs some new writers.  Words like “original”, “pitchy”, “just aight”, “drunk”, and “karoake” should be banned from use on the show.  I mean, Randy, Paula and Simons are gazillionaires because of the show, can’t they put a little more into it?

Cue the theme from Jaws….

 
17 Comments

Posted by on March 26, 2008 in american idol, taylor hicks

 

Colette’s Corner: Look Ma, I’m in the Hall of Fame

Don’t want to be remiss in posting about the recent inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  Colette, once again, provides a wonderful dossier on the legendary Leonard Cohen.  I have a few comments on the other inductees following Colette’s post… 

Leonard Cohen:  A Hall of Famer at last…..
            The great Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen was just  inducted into the Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame, an honor well-earned. And  the 74-year old troubadour  just announced he’ll be embarking on his first tour in many years, with dates announced in Canada and Europe.  None, unfortunately, announced yet for the U.S., but a fan can hope — can’t she?
            Leonard Cohen, Canada’s great troubadour, has a songbag that’s deep, varied and stuffed with gems.  Many other brilliant musical artists adore his songs and eagerly cover them.  And his own recordings and live versions of his odes are husky, conversational, yet uniquely moving.
              Born into a Jewish Montreal family in 1934,  Cohen was a Canadian star as a gifted poet, fiction author and composer before his American popularity began, thanks to Judy Collins’ famous interpretation of his dreamy love song, “Suzanne.”  In 1967, Columbia Records brought out “The Songs of Leonard Cohen.” More albums followed, and the use of some of his songs in popular movies (starting with Robert Altman‘s  “McCabe and Mrs. Miller”) brought his brilliantly  tunes to more listeners.    Every wave of new singer-songwriters since has re-discovered him, and cherished his songs.
              To me, Cohen’s wit, lyricism, his ability to celebrate humanity’s angels and demons, and his miraculous turns of phrase and “humanitarian cynicism,” as someone put it, give his work a European flavor and tone.  But his songs are globally admired and performed, as they should be. They speak to the mind, the heart and the intellect at the same time.   A recent documentary about him, featuring a concert in Australia of his songs sung by Rufus Wainwright, Nick Cave and others, is worth a look:  it’s called  “I’m Your Man.”
              I was fortunate to meet Cohen in the early 1990s, during his last U.S. tour.  I had one of those “six degrees of…” connections to him:  we shared a wonderful friend, who had died a few years earlier.  Leonard and I talked about her,   about music, and about his devotion to Zen Buddhism.  (He spent  five years in a Zen monastary in California, and was ordained as a Buddhist monk there.)
             Sometimes when you meet a hero of yours, you are disappointed.  The absolute opposite occured for me in this instance.   Leonard was warm, kind, funny, and open.  As our hour together ended,  I asked him to sign a book I had of his lyrics and poems.  He took a beautiful little ink stamp out of a special case, telling me it spelled out his name in Japanese characters.  He stamped my book, and then wrote a dedication, saying it was for “a member of the family.”  How thrilled I was to be part of that extended “family,” and I still am. 
             Congratulations, Leonard, for the good things coming to you — all deserved.   And here is a small tribute to your genius:
        
The beautiful ballad that started off Cohen’s American popularity:
  — SuzanneLeonard Cohen & Judy Collins, during the 1960s
One of Cohen’s best known, most recorded tunes, “Bird on the Wire”  (a 1979 performance):
A very cool cover of the same song, by New Orleans’ fab Neville Brothers:
== “Bird on a Wire” — The Neville Brothers
One of my favorite Cohen tunes, written to a former friend of his who became a Scientologist  (clip also from the 1970s):
– “Famous Blue Raincoat” — Leonard Cohen
In recent years a cult has developed around this moody,  soaring anthem.  Here’s Cohen performing it:
 — “Hallelujah” — Leonard Cohen
And here is a rendition of it that has its own fervent cult, by the late Jeff Buckley:
 – Jeff Buckley — “Hallelujah”
In the 1990s, Cohen put out some terrific, scarey new songs — sensuous, mordant, darkly prescient.  Here’s one of my favorites, “The Future” —

 — “The Future” — Leonard Cohen

Here’s his great “ladie’s man” anthem,  in a hit version by fellow Canadian Michael Buble — you’d think his style wouldn’t mesh with Cohen’s but give a listen:
 — Michael Buble, “I’m Your Man”
Finally, a marvelous song about getting older, but being a musician at heart forever:
– “Tower of Song”  — Leonard Cohen
And here is a 10-minute clip of his induction ceremony for the Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame, featuring a mini-documentary and Lou Reed’s little speech:  “We’re so lucky to be alive at the same time Leonard Cohen is….”   Yes, Lou, I agree!
 — Leonard Cohen‘s hall of fame tribute,  March 2008

Other inductees from this year’s class include:

John “Cougar” Mellencamp

  Cherry Bomb

Madonna

  Like a Virgin

The Dave Clark 5

  Catch Us If You Can

The Ventures

  Wipeout

Little Walter

  Hall of Fame film

  Wild About You Baby (With Hound Dog Taylor)

Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff who were architects of the “Philly Soul Sound” and who wrote for and worked with the likes of Lou Rawls, The O’Jays and Teddy Pendergrass were also inducted, but I think that warrants an individual post.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on March 24, 2008 in colette's corner, music legends, rock

 

A Trip Around the Sun

Hard to believe it but it’s been a year since I took the fateful leap into bloggerland.

With this historic post, my life took a decided turn for the better.  I’ve found a great creative outlet that allows me to enjoy the thoughts of others while vomiting out my own.  My life has been enriched by your support to pursue the things that I really enjoy and to explore more music.

Thanks to all of you who read and comment and to those who just read.  While I invite you to comment, I understand if you don’t.  To those of you who have been here since the beginning (and you know who you are), I want to particularly thank you for your loyalty and friendship.  Of course, I’d like to thank that somebody who showed us how it’s done.  For without that brave soul, hundreds of tiny, unnoticed blogs would not have proliferated; freeing the captives.  (I keed.  I keed.)

Hopefully, I’ll have some more time soon to get into some discussions I’ve been noodling on in my big ole head.  Funny thing about finding a job that you really like…you end up spending a lot of time doing it.  However, I’m trying to carve out my moments of blog time and ideas but it’s like my swearing to get organized.  Mr. D. says that I just need to break down and admit that it’s just not going to happen.  This is how he sees me in terms of my projects and work, etc.

pig-pen_peanuts.png

I’ve gotten better and this blog, in particular, keeps me somewhat focused.  Just don’t throw any shiny objects in front of me and I’m pretty much o.k.

I think that music is God’s way of providing a Rosetta Stone for folks to feel common emotions and to kun-NECK, you know, soothe the savage beast.  For the life of me, I am flabbergasted when someone tells me that they don’t really listen to music or they don’t know a watershed tune like We Can Work it Out or Hallejuah.  That’s why I feel that Music Maven’s purpose is to educate, discuss and advance music and artists of interest.  Bridge generations, genders, race and creed via the love of music.

I must say, however, that the best explanation of music that truly resonated with me came from some guy that happened to capture my attention a few years ago:

It’s music, man.  If music’s in your heart, you feel it, you play it, you sing it, you perform it, you bust your buns doin’ it.  And, that’s what it’s all about….

 

 

The Sanity of The Beatles

beatles.jpg

After being “idolized”, I need to get The Beatles back into perspective. Feel free to add your sanity-saving cuts….

Help

Saw Her Standing There

Norweigan Wood

Don’t Let Me Down

And Your Bird Can Sing (Revolver Session)

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Oh Darlin’!

and finally, this is the ONLY person who should EVER sing Yesterday, period.

ahhhhhhhhhhh.

 
27 Comments

Posted by on March 19, 2008 in the beatles

 

Odd Coincidence

In my vast and intricate exploration of the internets, I uncovered something of an odd coincidence.

Now, mind you, I am not watching American Idol anymore, mainly because I’ve been so dern busy that I haven’t had time. Now, The Biggest Loser, Top Chef, and John Adams are all competing for my precious time and frankly, are more entertaining. However, several of you have kept me indirectly abreast of the happenings on AI.

Through such back channels, I heard that Chikezie had one of the best performance during Beatles’ Week. So, in an effort to stay up to speed, I consulted the music authority of YouTube.

When I previewed Chikezie’s performance, something was oddly familiar, so I dug a little deeper. I found that this was the first performance of the Top 12 finalists on American Idol and the new “big stage” where the bulk of the competition is held and contestants really learn how to “work” the cameras.

I must say that I loved his performance. He put a very different twist on She’s a Woman, yet it didn’t come off silly or contrived as the blondette’s Country version of Eight Days a Week. His performance was just different enough, yet remained the familiar melody we are all so acquainted with. It was evident that the judges loved it, as well. It’s here that something oddly familiar hit me.

Compare the Top 12 performance of Chikezie’s She’s A Woman to Taylor Hicks’ Season 5 Top 12 performance of Livin’ for the City and tell me that there not some very odd similarities.

Chickezie, She’s a Woman

Taylor Hicks, Livin’ for the City

Notwithstanding Ryan the Little Pixie’s antics, the judges remarks are eerily similar. This could bode well for Chikezie.

 
16 Comments

Posted by on March 18, 2008 in american idol, taylor hicks, the beatles

 

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!

St. Patrick’s Day blessings opun ya.

st-pats.jpg

Me own wee laddie bids you a fine day (just don’t tell him I put this picture up).

While I am predominantly French, my great-grandmother was Irish and I suspect, the origin of my green eyes and fiery temper. Mr D. and I’s favorite movie is The Quiet Man, with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. If you have never seen it or haven’t seen it in a while, I invite you to treat yourself this year for St. Paddy’s Day.

Among other Irish contributions like Guiness and Yeats, there is music….of course. Here are some favorites:

Celtic New Year, Van “The Man” Morrison

One, U2

Love Hurts, Elvis Costello (with Emmylou Harris)

Bullfrog Blues, Rory Gallagher

The Irish Rover, The Pogues & The Dubliners

The Green & Red of Mayo, The Sawdoctors

Perhaps my favorite song about an Irish subject, is from the wonderful (yet under-utilized) Jonny Lang and Irish Angel.

This is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard and Jonny’s passion and emotion is palpable. The way it’s supposed to be….

Lastly, the day would be incomplete without a little Johnny Boy. Luckily, he just happens to have a song to fit the bill:

St. Patrick’s Day, John Mayer

ireland_flag.gif

 
13 Comments

Posted by on March 17, 2008 in Good Stuff, holidays

 
 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.