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Category Archives: kun-neck-shuns

A Moment of Silence

9/11.

Synonymous with tragedy, evil, sacrifice, loss, love and hope.

10 years ago, I was working at a large bank in Memphis and driving into the parking lot when I first “heard”. Never thought that we’d have that Pearl Harbor “moment” in my lifetime, but here it was and of course, I remember.

I actually spent my Sunday on the water in the boat with my husband and it was a glorious day. I just couldn’t watch the whole funeral again. However, this morning I saw this…

For me, THIS was the PERFECT tribute. Funny how a song written nearly 50 years ago in the wake of a different tragedy could so amply provide comfort all these years later and be so relevant. That’s what music is, no? A talisman that provides clarity of the emotion that allows people from all walks of life to experience the intention of the writer at the moment of hearing it.

Extrememly fitting that New Yorker Paul Simon delivered the most inspiring moment of “The Rememberance.” Carrie Fisher must be proud.

 
 

I’m Alive

Orange Beach, AL

Orange Beach, AL

Lovin’ this Kenny Chesney/Dave Matthews collaboration, lately.

  I’m Alive, Kenny Chesney with Dave Matthews

I’m pretty much in the “order” camp and don’t believe in consequences, so I think that certain things are put in our path to show us the way, teach us lessons, wake us up, whatever.  This song seems to be one of those needed entities, coming along at just the right moment to comfort, heal, encourage appreciation.  It speaks to me for several reasons.

First, the lyrics.  While I absolutely adore the melody of this song, I’m a lyrics maven.  For me, the power of the words are what really defines a song, and these particularly speak to me:

So damn easy to say that life’s so hard
Everybody’s got their share of battle scars
As for me I’d like to thank my lucky stars that
I’m alive, and well

It’d be easy to add up all the pain
And all the dreams you sat and watched go up in flames
Dwell on the wreckage as it smolders in the rain
But not me, I’m alive

And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathin’ in and out’s a blessin’ can’t you see
Today’s the first day of the rest of my life
And I’m alive, and well
I’m alive, and well

Stars are dancin’ on the water here tonight
It’s good for the soul, when there’s not a soul in sight
But this boat has caught its wind and brought me back to life
Now I’m alive, and well

And today you know that’s good enough for me
Breathin’ in and out’s a blessing can’t you see
Today is the first day of the rest of my life
Now I’m alive, and well
Yeah I’m alive, and well

I’m a bit sympatico with Kenny Chesney due to his love of water, beach and life, in general, and most of his songs absolutely resonate with “everyday” people on everyday issues and concerns.  We visit the beach fairly regularly and recently spent the Labor Day weekend there.  Every time I go to the beach, it presents an opportunity to unwind, relax, and contemplate.  (And I am a World Champion Contemplater.)  This is a perfect song for that.

Second, it makes me feel good/better and makes me thankful for this day and for things to come.  It reflects on the fact that LIFE IS HARD.  And, it is…but as my BIL says, “God is good”.  While we all have trials and tribulations, we all have great triumphs and joys and really, isn’t that what makes it worth getting out of bed every day?  So, while I’m caught up in the tornado of life with Senior year, college choices, house selling, house building, aging parents, job worries, etc., etc., it illuminates the fact that HEY!  I’M ALIVE.

Lastly, this song shows that country isn’t all twang based (yes, Shrew I’m looking at you).  This is a song that Dave Matthews’ fans can accept and relate to — hell, even love.  Kenny truly is more crossover than most Country artists and songs like this one really show his broad influences.  I think when you boil it all down, a good song is a good song.  As when Ray Charles did Country, it brings a new credibility to the once twang-laden genre.  It’s all about the emotion…the kun-NECK-shun.

So, take Kenny’s song to heart today.  While you trudge through whatever hell you suppose you have, remember….YOU’RE ALIVE!

 

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Example of Legacy

Thanks to @johncmayer on Twitter:

  The Way You Make Me Feel, David Ryan Harris

The great ones live forever….

 

R.I.P. Bob Bogle

bob bogle

 

 

Bob Bogle, lead guitarist for the legendary surf-rock band, The Ventures, lost a battle to leukemia at the age of 75. 

Considered pioneers of hard guitar laced, instrumental “surfer” rock of the very early 1960′s, The Ventures are the guys responsible for such surf-rock staples as:

  Wipeout

  Perfidia

walk-dont-run-the-very-best-of-the-ventures

Perhaps their most well known “hit” was courtesy of Steve McGarrett:

  Hawaii Five-O Theme

However, the genesis of surf-rock actually started with the Tacoma, Washington band’s release and hit of Walk, Don’t Run in 1960.

Typical of musical kun-NECK-shuns, Walk, Don’t Run was actually a cover for The Ventures.  The song was originally done by the one and only Chet Atkins. 

One of the bandmembers had been listening to the guitar impresario and it was decided to update Walk, Don’t Run to their signature sound.  The rest is history.  The Ventures (and Bob Bogle) were signficant influencers to many rock legends to come.  In 2008, they were indcuted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  Bob Bogle was too ill to attend.

  John Fogerty induction of The Venture  into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2008

So, a tip of the hat to one of the guitar legends of rock.  May he rest in peace.

 

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The Day the Music Died: Finale – Buddy Holly

buddyholly

1936 - 1959

By now, you know the details of the crash fifty years ago that shocked the music world.  Graham Nash explains it best:

  Graham Nash talks about “The Day the Music Died”

 At 22, the lanky kid from Lubbock, TX  had been re-writing music rules.  At the tender age of 18, Holly had taken the sagging Rock & Roll scene by storm with stark rhythms and the strains of non-traditional instruments.  No hearthrob, Holly’s attraction was purely “the music”.

While Holly was quite a personality, it’s his music that has had the most lasting affect.  Many artists of the 60s and 70s, point to Buddy Holly as a major influence.  A young Robert Zimmerman’s life changed the night he watched Buddy Holly perform on the Winter Dance Party tour in Diluth, MN.  As Bob Dylan, he would also influence generations of music.

More after the jump

 

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The Day the Music Died: Part 2 – The Big Bopper

J.P. Richardson

J.P. Richardson

“Hellllllooooo, Baaaabbbeeee!………………….”

Consider J.P. Richardson, the DJ/Singer/Songwriter from Beaumont, TX the man who brought you such songs as Luckenbach, TX,  Amanda, Mamma Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys and Suspicious Minds.  You can thank The Big Bopper for the legendary Outlaws album. 

On a frigid night in February, J.P. Richardson — The Big Bopper — simply couldn’t face another night on the cold, drafty bus that served as transportation for the 1959 Winter Dance Party Tour.  Suffering with the flu, Richardson was desperate to avoid another long ride in freezing tempatures, sleeping upright on hard seats.  When he learned that Buddy Holly was chartering a small plane to get to the next stop for him and his band, The Crickets, he approached the bass player and asked if he would mind giving up his seat so that The Bopper could get some rest and try to recover.  The young, affable 22 year old Waylon Jennings agreed.

Buddy Holly ribbed his bandmate about giving up the seat.  “I hope your ole’ bus freezes up again”.  Jennings sarcastically snapped back, “Well, I hope your damn plane crashes.”  Jenning was riddled with guilt for trading places with The Big Bopper and was very reluctant to ever discuss his role in “the day the music died”.

1958, The Big Bopper, traveled extensively on tour, promoting his music.  His new single, Chantilly Lace, had recently caught on when fate coupled him with new sensation, Ritchie Valens; rock and roll stalwart, Buddy Holly; and mega-popular, Dion & The Belmonts for the Winter Dance Party tour in early 1959.

  Chantilly Lace, The Big Bopper

The Big Bopper was big and bold.  After an army stint, J.P. Richardson returned to his hometown of Beaumont, TX and eventually ended up as a DJ at KRTM.  In 1957, he broke the record for continuous on-air broadcasting — 5 days, 2 hours, and 8 minutes.  Shortly thereafter, he adopted the name The Big Bopper, originated from watching college students in Beaumont doing the dance, The Bop.  His first foray into performing and recording was the old-time Country Beggar to a King, but it struggled to gain any traction on the charts:

  Beggar to a King, The Big Bopper

He quickly recovered with Chantilly Lace and took the show on the road to capitalize.  His goal was to make as much money as he could to build a recording studio in Beaumont where he could make music and produce other acts.  He was also working on a new concept that he called a “music video”.  His live shows were part skit, part song and he was wildly popular.

Back at home in Texas, his wife was pregnant with their second child, a son who would be born two months after his death.  J.P. Richardson, Jr. now performs as his father and oddly, “met” his father for the first time in 2007 when he had The Big Bopper’s body exhumed to rule out foul play.  (It was.)

Perhaps The Big Bopper’s most lasting legacy is the three songs he wrote that were #1 hits for other artists.  White Lightnin’ was recorded by George Jones in 1959 and ended up at the top of the Country charts. 

  White Lightnin’, George Jones

Richardson not only wrote Running Bear, but provided back up vocals on the Johnny Preston hit that was released in September 1959.  It hit #1 on the Country charts shortly thereafter.

  Running Bear, Johnny Preston

Finally, Jerry Lee Lewis re-leased Chantilly Lace, scoring a #1 Country hit in 1972.

  Chantilly Lace, “The Killah”

Much like Buddy Holly, J.P. Richardson was an “evoluntionary”.  He was perfecting a successful songwriting formula, experimenting with new facets of music via film performances, and was aspiring to produce other acts.  At 28, The Big Bopper was pushing the “norms” of the music business and had nowhere to go but up.  

The plane crash threw his body 40 ft. from the wreckage and he suffered severe trauma, dying on impact.

 

The Day the Music Died: Part 1 – American Pie

americanpie1

….A long, long time ago….

Singer/song-writer, Don McLean penned one of the most recognizable songs ever recorded.  American Pie is part of our musical and American lexicon.  Not only does the song lament the change in music with the passing of Buddy Holly, but it catalogues the changes and additional “deaths” of music through the decade of the ’60s.  There is a real dichotomy in this era.  The mutation of music in the 1960s provided revolutionary new sounds, electric music and much different attitudes.  While many would look at this as positive progression, many also mourned the loss of the music of the past, as well as the innonence of the time.

  American Pie, Don McLean

McLean has never commented extensively on the meaning of the song, preferring to let the aire of mystique remain.  When asked what the song means, he generally gives the elusive answer of “It means I’ll never have to work again” or “It’s the story of America”.

For my personal experience, I spent many a high school night memorizing every word of every verse, rewinding my cassette recorder over and over again to get every word.  On the way home after a night out, my friends and I would pop the tape into the car cassette player and passionately belt out the lyrics.  I imagine that American Pie has been a staple on playlists across America for the last 35 years.

Perhaps the most eloquent explanation of American Pie is the original Rolling Stone review from ’72 by Lester Bangs:

Don McLean’s “American Pie” has ripped out of nowhere and taken the country by storm both in its album and truncated single versions. It took exactly two weeks to shoot to the top of the charts, everybody I know has been talking excitedly about it since first hearing, and, even more surprisingly, it has united listeners of musical persuasions as diverse as Black Sabbath and Phil Ochs in unbridled enthusiasm for both its message and it musical qualities.

All of which is not so surprising once you’ve heard it, because it is a brilliant song, a metaphor for the death and rebirth of rock that’s at once complex and immediately accessible. For the last couple of years critics and audience alike have been talking about the Death of Rock, or at least the fragmentation of all our 1967 dreams of anthemic unity. And, inevitably, somebody has written a song about it. About Dylan, Buddy Holly, the Beatles, Stones, Byrds, Janis and others. About where we’ve been, the rush of exhilaration we felt at the pinnacle, and the present sense of despair. Don McLean has taken all this and set it down in language that has unmistakable impact the first time you hear it, and leaves you rubbing your chin–”Just what did that line mean?”–with further listenings because you know it’s all about something you’ve felt and lived through. A very 1967ish song, in fact, in the way it makes you dig for deeper meaning, but not the least bit mawkish.

It opens with a slow, mournful sequence about reading the headlines about the deaths of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper while delivering papers as a child, then into the chorus: “Bye bye, Miss American Pie/Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry/Them good ole boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye/And sayin’ this’ll be the day that I die.” Then all at once it rears up and charges through the years in a giddy rush: “I was a lonely teenage bronckin’ buck/With a pink carnation and a pickup truck,” the “Book of Love,” sock hops in the gym and puppy jealousy, and then into the heart of the myth, where Dylan is a Jester “in a coat he borrowed from James Dean,” laughing at the king “in a voice that came from you and me.”

The halcyon days of Sgt. Pepper are brilliantly caught: “The half-time air was sweet perfume/As the Sergeants played a marching tune,” but suddenly the Jester is on the sidelines in a cast, the stage is taken by Jack Flash (“Fire is the devil’s only friend”), and Altamont, the Angels and the despairing resentment the Stones left many fans with pass in a dark panorama. Finally coming down to the levee again, where the good old boys are draining the bottles and talking as if it’s all over, as they did when the plane bearing “The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost” fell and as they will again and again through the years. It’s just the old Calvinist sense of impending apocalypse and perdition, but they’re good old boys anyway and we can’t resent them because we too “believe in rock ‘n’ roll/And [that] music can save your moral soul.” Because they’re us.

“American Pie” is a song of the year, and its music is just as strong as those lyrics, propelled with special resonance by the piano of Paul Griffin, who played with the Jester when his myth was at pinnacle. The single version is considerably shorter than that on the album, and I only wish that I could recommend the latter unhesitatingly. Unfortunately, the eight-minute hit is the only tune of real substance and vitality on it; the rest is given over to a series of moody, rather bland songs stereo-typically deriving from the Sixties folk tradition and the current proliferation of songwriters specializing in introspective, watery poeticizings. Shucks, I almost wonder from struggling to keep my attention on them whether “American Pie” won’t be the only important song Don McLean will ever write. But maybe that’s being premature and petty; because he did write it, and we needed it, did we ever. If you’ve ever cried because of a rock & roll band or album, or lain awake nights wondering or sat up talking through the dawn about Our Music and what it all means and where it’s all going and why, if you’ve ever kicked off your shoes to dance or wished you had the chance, if you ever believed in Rock & Roll, you’ve got to have this album. (RS 100)

LESTER BANGS

I have to disagree with Lester on the rest of McLean’s American Pie album.  There are several great tracks on this album, with Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) as a particularly compelling song about artist Vincent Van Gogh.

  Vincent (Starry, Starry Night), Don McLean

Don McLean was friends with folk legends The Weavers, as well as Pete Seeger and briefly attended Villanova with Jim Croce.  McLean’s style is very much in the vein of old-time singer/songwriters with tunes that are easy on the ear and hard on the mind.  His songs MEAN something.  They’re not catchy and snazzy, they are deep.

A young girl named Lori Lieberman attended one of Don McLean’s performances and was so touched by it that she wrote a poem, entitled Killing Me Softly with His Blues.  Composers Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel later turned that poem into a song immortalized by Roberta Flack as Killing Me Softly. 

   Killing Me Softly, Roberta Flack

It was later re-mixed and covered by The Fugees.

MUSIC MAVEN Trivia:  Lori Lieberman went on to provide music for the critically acclaimed Schoolhouse Rock…”I’m just a bill, only a bill…”

NOTE:  I refuse to post  covers of American Pie, as among those that attempted it, the Madonna and The Brady Bunch (a kid you not) versions are hideous.  Garth Brooks does a minimally decent rendition but it doesn’t come close to Don McLean. 

Don McLean immortalized the great Buddy Holly, paying apt homage to the legend’s musical importance and ensuring  Holly is known to new generations.  American Pie is proof that songs with meaning, songs than resonate with listeners, are recognized, treasured and endure forever.

Tune in tomorrow for the next installment in The Day the Music Died series.  Until then, if you’re so inclined, take a look at Music Maven’s take on American Pie‘s lyrics, verse by verse.

  Click here for Music Maven’s Lyric Interpretation of American Pie

 

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