RSS

Monthly Archives: July 2009

50 Years Ago Today…

Thanks to Cocodrie Pat for bringing this to my attention!

It’s the Golden Anniversary of the release of this 1959 classic.

I made reference to Sleepwalk in an earlier post about Shelby Lynne’s Where I’m From, but didn’t expand on the Johnny & Santo eclectic composition that has been an inspriation for many steel guitar riffs in popular music.  While steele guitar was a staple in Country Music, it was not a factor in “Pop” music until the Farina brothers’ 1959 chart topper.

While it might be a bit of a stretch, I’m thinking that Sleepwalk may have been a bit of an inspiration to Robert Randolph, no?

  The March, Robert Randolph

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Waiting on an Angel

Some things are beautifully simple…I discovered this song when my father was dying.  It helped.

  Waiting on an Angel, Ben Harper

Music, the healer.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on July 28, 2009 in acoustic, blues

 

Tags: , ,

Colette’s Corner: The Beatles LIVE, via Sir Paul

Deja Vu

Deja Vu

Colette checks in from Summer with a terrific tribute to those fabulous lads from Liverpool, with a focus on the irrepresible Macca at the fore. 

Music Maven commentary at the conclusion.

Last week was great for Beatle fans.  Paul McCartney was on the Letterman show for the first time, and insisted on performing on the roof of the Broadway theater that used to be The Ed Sullivan Theatre — where (inside) the Beatles made their US debut, 40-plus years ago.  Then he played at the opening of CITI Field in New York, which replaced the old Shea Stadium where the Beatles performed, on the their final US tour.

The rooftop concert on Broadway was also nostalgic because it included Get Back, which the Beatles sung on the roof of a London building in 1969 while doing an amazing, impromptu set during the filming of Let It Be.  They didn’t know it would be their final performance together, ever.  On the “unplugged” album of Let It Be, you hear them chatting about how great it would be to do a tour again.

Alas, it was never to be. 

John and Yoko moved to NYC, and created such amazing tunes as Imagine and Woman, before he was gunned down so tragically in 1980.  George turned out some fine music too (My Sweet Lord, etc.) on disc, and branched out into producing movies (including Monty Python flicks).  Ringo kept drumming, and touring, but low-key as always.

Paul McCartney was the one who kept doing what the  Beatles spent their teens and twenties doing together —  being a working rocker — and staying remarkably youthful, positive and productive, despite losing his wife and his longtime musical partner, both too young.

After John’s death, McCartney gradually dusted off the amazing Lennon-McCartney songbook — which is simply unmatched by any other pop band.  And what a gift it’s been to hear these songs again, by one of the guys who made them, mostly in their grand original arrangements, with Paul keeping the flame going for a new generation of fans and admiring musicians — including Beatles-lovers like American Idol’s Kris Allen (who does Hey Jude on the Idol tour),  Dave Grohl (of the Foo Fighters) and  Eddie Vedder.

Here are some of Paul’s finest post- Beatle live performances of the Beatles catalogue, culled from the last 20 years — with an emphasis on splendid songs that haven’t been covered extensively by others.

I just want to add for people younger than this Baby Boomer:  you can’t imagine how much the Beatles mattered to us.  They emerged right after the death of JFK, which was deeply traumatic for the whole nation, but especially us children, and they brought with them freshness, cheekiness and a musical magic that helped us heal.

Paul at the Citi Stadium concert, with Billy Joel (a huge Beatles fan and NY hometown hero) chiming in, on a rousing early  hit — the “B” side of I Want to Hold Your Hand.

  —  I Saw Her Standing There

Sir Paul gave us Beatlemaniacs a treat with his “unplugged” concert in 1991, where he played acoustic instruments and revived  gorgeous Beatles harmonies with his new band mates, on fab songs like this  from Rubber Soul.  Note that he let the gray show in a mullet “do” — now he dyes it, but who cares?  The man is ageless:

 — I’ve Just Seen a Face (Unplugged)

On this exquisite ballad from Revolver, Paul’s beautiful falsetto gives me shivers …..and, he added accordion!

   — Here, There and Everywhere   (Unplugged) 

Thanks to this timeless ballad, The Beatles eventually started to get serious props from older musicians and “serious” critics, who assumed they were just a pop craze and would fizzle out.   I remember my own snobby, jazz musician brother saying, “Well, maybe they’re better than I thought….”   Here, Paul is singing it at a charity concert, just him and a guitar, in 1997:

 — Yesterday

I adore everything on Meet the Beatles, their first American LP.   This was their first big hit in England, and it still pleases.   I have no idea where this clip originated, but Paul is performing it in a big stadium somewhere with mobs of people groovin':

Please, Please Me

John’s death hit Paul very hard.   He’s paid homage in several ways, but I love this remarkable medley that begins with A Day in the Life from Sergeant Pepper and ends with Give Peace a Chance, best.   Filmed during a big concert in the Beatles’ hometown of Liverpool, in 2008:

 —  A Day in the Life

 Two from the early 1960s, not often covered, but played by McCartney in the last decade at concerts which always drew in several generations,  all getting high together on the music….

 — I’ll Get You

 — I’ll Follow the Sun

The  Beatles proved they could ROCK like nobody’s business!   They wrote all those pretty love songs, but they loved doing rave-ups too, like this classic, encored by Paul in that Liverpool concert.  Note the trademark McCartney Scream!  It’s still fearsome –

 — Can’t Buy Me Love

At this point, I need to bring The Beatles in on this set.  Paul does a tremendous job keeping their sound alive,  but it’s wonderful to hear the Real Thing too.  They didn’t have decent amplification or recording technology back then.   And as Garth Brooks once noted, it’s astonishing they stayed in tune and together despite the dinky speakers, crappy mikes and orgiastic screaming of fangirls!   They’d just played together so long in so many little divey clubs in England and Germany, that they were TIGHT:

  — Can’t Buy Me Love  (the Beatles version, live in 1964)

Here’s Paul dusting off a rock-out crowd pleaser from the 1960s, in the CITI Field concert — at which he played 30 SONGS! 

  — I’m Down

And The Beatles version at Shea Stadium more than four decades ago…

    — I’m Down,  Beatles at Shea, 1965   

 I adore this clip because it shows both their musicianship and great their love and delight in making music together.  John is cutting up, George is breaking up, Paul is trying to keep it together, and Ringo is bashing away happily behind them.    Pure joy. 

Finally, here’s Paul doing Get Back on the Sullivan theatre’s roof   — and kidding around with the crowd while they were waiting to start.  This is a fan’s video, and expresses the excitement on the street where a lucky 4,000 people were allowed to congregate and watch.   (Sir Paul sang several songs they didn’t show on TV, but they’re all posted on YouTube now).  So here it is:

 — Get Back,  July 19, 2009

 And here are The Beatles singing it in 1969, on a London rooftop — where the cops broke up their final concert!  Well, at least we have this wonderful clip — the good sound makes you pine for what might have been if they’d gotten back on the road.  

 —  Get Back,  1969

 

BEATLES FOREVER!

 

 

Another great contribution from Colette!

I just wanted to interject one small point about the most under-appreciated Beatle of all, Ringo.  While he was never the at the forefront of The Beatles and is sometimes forgotten due to his unassuming, laid back style, Ringo is quite a force himself.

After The Beatles breakup, Ringo rivaled Sir Paul in hits in the early 70s.  First came It Don’t Come Easy in ’71:

He followed up with one of my personal favorites, Back Off Bugaloo in ’72, Photograph in ’73 and You’re Sixteen  in ’74.  While lesser recognized, these hits were certainly on par with McCartney’s Band on the Run and Jet and Hell on Wheels, yet Ringo gets the least love of all The Beatles.  I recognize that many only associate Ringo with the dreadful 1981 film, The Caveman, but Ringo is a solid one-quarter of The Beatles and is as accomplished as John, Paul, and George. 

Lastly, Ringo paid special tribute to John in singing the Lennon-esque I Call Your Name on the 1oth anniversary of John’s death with special help from Joe Walsh and Jim Keltner along with Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty of  Traveling Wilbury fame.

While Sir Paul is definitely the Beatles’ standard bearer, even he recognizes the force that is Ringo.  I’ll close with Sir Paul getting by with a little help from his friend:

 

Tags: , ,

“One Small Step…”

moon-walk-49807-sw

40 years ago today, the now infamous Neil Armstrong uttered those famous words and in doing so, declared a de facto victory in the “space race” and fulfilling JFK’s goal of putting a man in space by the end of the decade.

I was nearly five years old when Armstrong took those fateful steps and it is one of my earliest memories.  Oddly, I remember watching it on that big, old console TV with Walter Cronkite commenting.

It was one of those “American” moments where everyone comes together for common support, regardless of affiliation.  Like the 1980 USA Hockey Team vs. USSR and the days after 911, Americans were united in their awe and pride during these sweltering days of July four decades ago.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have such a commonality again, for something so positive? 

There’s just something about that big old light in the sky that inspires, with music being no exception.  Over the years, many a song have been dedicated to the moon and its alluring and romantic qualities.  In honor of the moon and man’s seeming conquering of it 40 years ago, here is Music Maven’s Moon Playlist:

  Fly Me to the Moon, Frank Sinatra

  Paper Moon, Nat King Cole

  Blue Moon of Kentucky, Patsy Cline

  Harvest Moon, Leon Redbone

  Moon River, Audrey Hepburn (“Breakfast @ Tiffany’s”)

  Moondance, covered by Michael Buble’ because Van Morrison is an anti-internet Nazi

  Bad Moon Rising, Creedence Clearwater Revival

  Moonshadow, Cat Stevens

  Yellow Moon, The Neville Brothers

  Shame on the Moon, Bob Seger

  Dancin’ in the Moonlight, King Harvest

  Cajun Moon, Ricky Skaggs

 
8 Comments

Posted by on July 20, 2009 in on this day, through the years

 

Tags: , ,

The Trust is Broken

1916 - 2009

1916 - 2009

This is the face I saw every day, growing up.  Next to my father, Walter Cronkite, was the most prevalent male role model in my life for the first 14 or 15 years.  Every night at 5:30pm, Walt would deliver the news while my Mother was cooking dinner.  Most nights, my much older brother and sister were off somewhere doing their teenager thing, leaving my Dad and I to take in the world happenings of the day.  My father was not an extremely demanding parent, but he did encourage us to read the newspaper and to watch the evening news so that we understood the issues of our time.  It’s something that has proven to be invaluable in work and life, in general.

I’m not sure why, but our daily newspaper always came in the afternoon.  My father usually picked up the paper when he returned from work, precisely at 5:05 pm (his nursery business was around the corner).  Then, he went straight to the den, kicked off his shoes, put his feet up on the stool, and cracked open the newspaper.  I’d enter after finishing homework, turn on the enormous RCA console TV and flip the big manual knob to Channel 10, which was CBS in our town, to catch the sports and weather from the local news.  You see, I was the remote control to switch between the four channels we had access to.  I had just the right wrist action to fly between 10 and 3, around to 7 with a short stop at 15.  It took a special talent and an understanding of the optimum UHF antenna position, but after years of practice I had it down pat.

At promptly 5:30 pm, the reliable and familiar “Good Evening” from the most trusted man in America.  He then would dispense whatever vile and unconscienable acts mankind was committing on each other that day.  While I know that every generation has absorbed “news” that is astonishing and unbelievable, growing up in the late ’60s and ’70s was an endless diet of war, pestilence and death.  I’m talking assassinations, riots, protests, war fronts, burning bodies, cracked heads, hateful words, corruption, lies, murder, and general mayhem.  In short, it was NOT the best of times.

But, there were also fantastic, new “discoveries”….the space program, microwaves, trans-atlantic Concorde flights, The Beatles, cassette tapes, and unleaded gas.  Both good and bad, Walter Cronkite brought it all to us, with integrity, honesty and wit.

Unlike the biased and entertainment focused news from the likes of Katie, Brian, and assorted cable “anchors”, Cronkite’s news was gospel.  And, while there may have been some manipulation of the news, most journalists were searching for the “story”, to right wrongs, to change the world.  It was a serious time for serious news and Mr. Cronkite let us know the happenings of the day with appropriate seriousness.  While I don’t long for the crazy, volatile times of those days, I do long for the time when there was at least a perception of truth and trust in the news of today.  In Cronkite’s passing, perhaps today’s media will undertake a little introspection into just how shallow and superficial their news has become.  In the 24/7, sensational reality news of the new millenium, “news” people have lost the ideals of true journalism that Cronkite so aptly displayed in his tenure over some of America’s darkest days.  It is a credit to Cronkite’s integrity that no-one really knew, until well after his retirement, that he was a Democrat.  It was a testament to his objectivity and commitment to impartiality.  With all of the accolades sure to follow his passing, those delivering the news would be wise to follow more of his example. 

When CBS forced Cronkite into retirement in 1981 to replace him with a younger, shinier Dan Rather, it subsequently sold its soul and eventually lost its hold on night time news.  Rather’s obvious left bias would be his undoing, leaving him woefully short of Cronkite’s legacy and class.

As a child of the ’70s, I tip my proverbial hat to Walter Cronkite on a career and life well lived.  Perhaps the most appropriate homage to the end of Uncle Walt’s personal broadcast are his own iconic words:

And, that’s the way it is….July 18th, 2009

Musically, the one song that kept coming to my mind is John Mayer’s Waiting on the World to Change…

…when they own the information, oh, they can bend it all they want…..

 
3 Comments

Posted by on July 19, 2009 in John Mayer, memorials, the seventies, TV

 

Tags: , ,

The BEST Insurance Commercial

Just to prove that I’m not totally anti-insurance, here’s what I consider to be the BEST insurance commercial in a lllloooonnnngggg time.  I give you The Travelers’ “Trouble”:

To me, much more effective in making the point…besides it’s RAY LAMONTAGNE.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on July 11, 2009 in ray lamontagne

 

Tags: , ,

The Circus That Wasn’t

It had all the makings of a cheap, promotional opportunity at the expense of a tragic, much aligned icon, but…the Michael Jackson memorial was actually very well thought out and done.  Word is that his baby brother, Randy, took the reins and finalized the plans and format for the memorial.  Hat’s off, Randy.

mjmemorial

 While there were awkward moments, like John Mayer’s instrumental Human Nature, Brooke Shields’ obvious out-of-placeness, and Al Sharpton’s declaration that “there was nothing strange about your Daddy”, all in all the memorial was in good taste and an appropriate send-off for the King of Pop.

Queen Latifah was eloquent, Jennifer Hudson was once again, brilliant and the great Smokey Robinson was touching, but the speaker who captured Michael Jackson the best, was the one and only founder of Motown, Berry Gordy:

Berry’s declaration that Jackson was “the greatest entertainer that ever lived” is difficult to dispute, even though you have to throw up an asterick to ackowledge that he was also the weirdest entertainer that ever lived. 

I’m very conflicted on the whole Michael Jackson over exposure and pedestal topping, in light of the very serious questions around his behavior and thoughts around sharing his love with young boys and the questions around drug use, appearance alterations, and just generally abnormal life — even for a celebrity.  However, one moment put into perspective that this odd, lonely, questionable character was a beloved Daddy who is no longer there.

In the end…the very end, the “event” was brought into stark perspective….by a grieving eleven-year old daughter.

R.I.P.

 

Tags: , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.