Category Archives: aretha franklin

America’s Got Talent…Well, at least Emily David does

Ladies and Gentleman, Aretha, Jr.

40 year old, Emily David, the next great find from America’s Got Talent:



Posted by on July 27, 2008 in aretha franklin, Emerging Artists, TV


Is YouTube Down the Tube?


In the on-going battle between media moguls Viacom and YouTube/Google, Viacom has had to take the defensive and quell fears of invasion of privacy of hordes of internet video purusers of the wildly popular YouTube.  It seems that as part of the $1 BILLION dollar copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Viacom against YouTube and its parent, Google, a judge ruled that YouTube must turn over it’s vast database of videos and the usage data along with it.  This data would include user names, IP addresses and profile information that users have included such as hometowns and even names. 

Privacy advocates went ballistic, accusing Viacom of trying to acquire the names of YouTube uploaders and viewers in an attempt to pursue, in the vein of the RIAA’s prosecution of those downloading illegal music.  Viacom suddenly was thrust into a PR nightmare and had to substantially back-pedal and qualify that they only wanted the usage data to either prove or disprove that the majority of YouTube’s content is user established and proprietary to uploaders, rather than copyrighted programming.  As such, YouTube agreed in principle to provide the data “masked” through other naming or numbering to hide the actual user names and information from Viacom.  This may or may not appease the ACLU-types, as masking doesn’t necessarily protect users if they can be tied via a usage pattern to other databases that could provide user data.

It is interesting to me that Viacom had no real issue with YouTube until Google and their deep pockets made the scene.  Perhaps Viacom sees this suit is an easier money maker than, say, providing quality programming that would attract more and better advertisers. 

No, Viacom has chosen to pursue a company that has repeatedly shown that it proactively tries to prohibit copyrighted material from its servers and has always complied with taking down material upon request.  That complies full with the DMCA — the law by which this case is governed.  Confused?  Perhaps this video can shed some light.

In the meantime, there is speculation that Steven Colbert and Jon Stewart will actually be called as witnesses in the case.  Why?  I have no idea.  Perhaps it will be to lament how their pockets are being picked by wanton pirates who are uploading their shows, as well as nefarious viewers who are illegally watching their shows through YouTube instead of on The Comedy Channel, where advertisers pay hordes of money to Colbert and Stewart, by way of Viacom, for viewers to tune in there.

Here is a NEWSFLASH.  Viacom, along with many other media companies have MISSED THE BOAT.  Again.  Instead of joining forces with YouTube to further distribute their programming and broaden their audiences, they are once again, shooting themselves in the foot by trying to cripple or destroy one of the outlets that are actually helping them to sustain viewers.

Go through this with me.  Let’s use The Daily Show for an example.  Now, certainly, there are people who watch The Daily Show every day.  They consider Jon Stewart a god and tune in every day at x:30 to soak up his sardonic witticism and sarcastic political diatribes.  Let’s say that he gets a 10 share or 10% of American TVs were tuned in (a generous number, here).  That leaves 90% of us who are not watching him or maybe not watching anything, for that matter.

Common sense tells us that unless they happen to miss an episode, the loyal 10% are not relying on YouTube to provide their Jon Stewart fix.  So, YouTube is really a big, ole billboard for The Daily Show in that people like me may tune in to a YouTube video linked onto a blog that I read or that someone emails me.  Then, perhaps, Mr. Stewart intrigues or entertains me enough to take a real interest in what he has to say.  Well, I will want to hear him say it at x:30 on the days that he’s on and if I can’t make it, I can always set my DVR to record it.  Regardless, I am going to the source to get my content.

Let’s face it, old movies and TV shows don’t make YouTube until they’ve already been played on TV.  How does this affect my viewership of something like The Daily Show on The Comedy Channel?  They aren’t running every show in re-runs for me to catch up.  Some networks like NBC do provide episodes of their TV programs to watch via their websites, so I can understand their beef.  But, again, isn’t YouTube simply providing trailers for people to find these shows?  Very rarely are you going to find ALL of the episodes of a particular TV program on YouTube.  But, a snippet of one might just cause you to seek out the TV program (on its network), if you are appropriately stimulated to do so.

I also find it interesting that The Daily Show can be found on the front page of, so evidently they are not above having viewers watch their show on a competing network’s vehicle.  (Hulu is owned by NBC/Universal.)  While I understand that they are getting paid, why not try to strike a similar deal with YouTube.  YouTube actually approached Viacom about cutting a deal that would allow them to broadcast Viacom shows and in return, YouTube would build filters (similar to their porn filters) that would block material from Viacom projects from being uploaded without consent.  Viacom views this as strong-arming and has declined.  It just appears a bit hypocritical to me that Viacom agrees to sell its programming to Hulu (a competitor) and won’t work out a deal with YouTube and Google.  Sadly, what they miss is that if they did, they would be viewed as pioneers of progress and amply rewarded by increased viewership. 

While the revenue stream for musicians and writers is more convoluted, they are missing the same boat by not embracing the awareness-building outlet of YouTube to gain exposure for their music.  Some artists “get it” and that’s why you’re starting to see YouTube channels like Radiohead, AliciaKeys, mayermusic, and AmosLeePodcast.  These guys understand that YouTube is a vehicle for distribution.  To engage the viewer/listener.  To evoke enough of an interest to have that viewer buy tracks, seek out concert tickets, and become A FAN.  Once you’ve got fans, then the word of mouth of people like you and me become more precious than diamonds and gold.  The label is not getting the arist the kind of exposure YouTube and other non-traditional on-line outlets, like blogs, are providing.  Again, why not embrace the change instead of trying to eradicate it.  In the annals of history, there is no-one who has ever stopped progress through limiting technology.  Why try something that has been proven to fail every time?

YouTube may have a bit of a rock road to travel, however because of Google’s deep pockets they are here to stay.  IMO.  If not, I’m going to be really pissed.

Here’s some Tubeliciousness that I came across today.  Imagine being deprived of these?

  Astral Weeks, Van Morrison

  Street Corner Preacher, Amos Lee

  It Take Two to Tango, Aretha Franklin & Ray Charles

  Slip Slidin’ Away, Paul Simon (live @ Abbey Road)


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Colette’s Corner: A Birthday Contribution

That’s right. Today is Colette’s Birthday, so a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Ms. C.

In addition to reflecting on her birthday, Colette has also been reflecting on the late, great Dusty Springfield. A soul icon, I always considered Dusty a bit of a white-bread Janis Joplin — and I mean that in a good way.

She’s worshipped in England, and a soul queen for many in other nations. Once you hear that tender, sultry, bluesy sound of her unique voice, you just want more of it.

The personification of blue-eyed soul, Dusty Springfield was a passionate devotee of Black American music, with a thrilling set of pipes. She came up in the ’60s with her family band, The Springfields, then quickly hit the charts with a string of solo hits. The many wonderful songs she introduced are matched by her covers of a big sampling of the greatest pop/r & b tunes of the 1960s and ’70s.

Though she died fairly young, at age 59, after a lengthy bout with breast cancer, Dusty left behind a slew of albums. And aficienados can be grateful for the tremendous cache of videos of her live performances, thanks to fans collecting numbers from the popular TV musical variety shows she hosted in England. She was also among the first people to introduce British TV audiences to the glories of Motown, by hosting the “Ready, Steady, Go” series, “The Sound of Motown.” (The whole thing is available on Youtube, and it is fabulous.)

Recently the American singer Shelby Lynne recorded a lovely tribute disc of Dusty tunes, titled “Just a Little Lovin.” And in the wake of that release it’s great to share some of Dusty’s finest performances and those of her colleagues/acolytes. (If you like’em, more will come later — including some smashing duets.)

Let’s start with one of Dusty’s first major hits:

This boppin’ little tune by Phil Spector has a melody I can’t get out of my head. It’s a total delight, and a major fave in Dusty’s repertoire. Fashion note: Dusty loved big blonde ‘dos, heavy Cleopatra-style eye makeup, and very glam, sparkling duds. But if she often had a plastic-fantastic look, her bubbly personality and terrific musicality were totally for real:

— “I Only Want to Be with You”

Here’s Shelby Lynne’s charming bossa nova-style take on the same song:

— “I Only Want to Be With You”

Here is another great Dusty hit, performed on the “Sound of Motown” show with the fantab Martha Reeves and the Vandellas.

— “Wishin’ and Hopin'” with Martha Reeves and Vandellas

This song is perhaps my favorite female/male-duet song ever. I love the Carly Simon/James Taylor version, the gritty Inezz & Charles Fox original. But even though I don’t know (or care) much about the band she’s performing with (The Echos) the way Dusty tears into this just slays me:

— “Mockingbird”

Among Dusty’s many, many cover gems, give a listen to her take on a little Herman’s Hermits ditty that she turns into a kick-butt soul tune. Sing it sister! (sorry for bad visuals, but the sound is swell):

-“Can’t You Hear My Heart Beat”

Even when drenched in musical melodrama and soapy strings, Dusty’s great voice rang through. This is one of them big ‘ol, schmaltzy love songs from the early 1960s, a huge hit for Dusty — and a challenge for most singers, including quite a few American Idol contesants who’ve botched it. Dusty’s peerless original:

— “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”

Here is a bit of Shelby Lynne’s poignant version of the same song:

— “You Don’t Have to Say Love Me”

Here’s one of the choicest of Dusty hits, on a tune that Aretha (stupidly, in my book) passed on. Recorded on her great album recorded in Muscle Shoals, “Dusty in Memphis,” it tells such a poignant story. (Eat your heart out, Joss Stone…..)

— “Son of a Preacher Man”

Aretha recorded “Preacher Man” later, with predictably awesome results:

Probably the song most associated with Dusty is this ultra-seductive Burt Bacharach tune. I first heard it on the soundtrack of the James Bond flick, “Casino Royale,” and it went right into my musical bloodstream:

— “The Look of Love”

I’ll end this set with a rare clip of Dusty singing an Anthony Newley song, from his Broadway musical “The Roar of the Greaspaint, the Smell of the Crowd.” This is Dusty picking up on the roots of black music, jubilant in her understanding of its passion, and backed up by three great backup singers:

— “Gonna Build a Mountain”

Thanks for a great look back at the great Dusty Springfield, Colette….and a very Happy Birthday to You!


The Queen of Soul…One Girl’s Perspective


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.


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~

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.





Click here for video. Take that Beyonce’.


And the Winners Are…

If, like me, you did not tune in to watch the Grammys, here is Entertainment Weekly’s List of Winners.

The biggest winner, by far, was Amy Winehouse with five Grammys.  While she couldn’t be there, in person, she rocked the house in London performing her mega-hit, real life drama, Rehab, as well as I’m No Good.

What a great night for real music.  Congratulations to Amy Winehouse for being the standard bearer.  Make no mistake, her wins make a real statement to the industry. 

Lefsetz has a pretty scathing assessment of the travesty of trying to associate Frank Sinatra with the music prowess of Alicia Keys.  To quote Aretha…”C’mon now.  Please.”  Even this is a cry by the industry to harken back the days of good music because, frankly, so little of it is found on today’s charts.

I have to admit that I did flip over from catching up on Jon & Kate Plus Eight on TLC and caught Ree Ree and BeBe Winans singing Never Gonna Break My Faith, which tied with The Clark Sisters to win a Grammy in Best Gospel Performance.

Awesome.  But, lawsy mercy she is large.  This has to be affecting her health.

Although I was extremely disappointed in the status quo with Justin Timberlake beating out John Mayer in the Best Male Pop Performance for that lame-ass song, What Goes Around Comes Around, it seems that perhaps the tide is starting to turn as Daughtry was shut out, even though his CD was by far the best-seller of the year. 

The excitement of the crowd when the legends of great music, like Aretha, Tina Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis, John Fogerty, and the incomprable Little Richard performed indicates that there is a yearning for the great music that built this business.  In my opinion, it also exposes how shallow the current promoted music is.

Sorry, but there is nobody even close to the great Richard Penniman in today’s music.  As usual, makes ma toe shoot up in ma boot!

Alas, my buddy Geno Delafose lost to Zydeco Legend Terrence Simien.  Maybe next year.


Posted by on February 11, 2008 in aretha franklin, grammys, Music Today


So, it’s the Grammys…Do You Care?

Tonight is the vaunted Grammy Awards at 8pm Eastern, on CBS.

This is the 50th Grammy Awards ceremony. Do I care? Should I watch? This flowchart from Vulture in New York Magazine give some great insight to these questions:

I think that the Grammys is a poster child for all that is wrong with the music industry. First, it’s basically monopolized by Clive Davis and the mega labels’ warlords. The major categories — which, let’s face it, are the only ones that anyone really knows about — are full of the same old shite (Beyonce’ and Justin Timberlake) and a bit of new, contrived shite (Chris Daughtry and Taylor Swift) that the major labels have crammed down our throats through obnoxious overplay on the radio and manipulation of record sales and charts.

However, I must say that there a few diamonds in the rough that are shining through. Amy Winehouse, whose Rehab, CD is nominated in six categories. Unfortunately, she won’t be attending because her Visa didn’t come through in time. Perhaps her recent detox will have her better prepared in the future, but this time she’ll likely be accepting via satellite.

Corrine Bailey Rae is also nominated for Song of the Year with Like a Star. Sadly, she doesn’t stand a chance against the bought juggernaut of Carrie Underwood’s Before He Cheats. Also, ma girl Feist is nominated for best new artist. Riddle me this, how is it that Daughtry is nominated in three or four categories, yet not nominated for Best New Artist? And, Amy Winehouse who has been around a while, is?

As for the men, Johnny Boy is nominated for Belief, and is truly the most deserving of those in the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. I think Sir Paul’s nominations are nostalgic and a nod of respect, but Memory Almost Full just wasn’t that good. Dance Tonight was cute but Best Performance? And, of course, Justin Timberlake received his obligatory four or five nominations. Wasn’t his CD released, like, two years ago? Strangely, he performs What Goes Around Comes Around at last year’s Grammys and it’s nominated in 2008?

Just how much exposure can they give this guy? This is the best song he’s ever written? Really? That should about say it all.

To me, the organic and worthy music is peeking through sporadically, but the manufactured and over-synthesized productions are still dominating the music industry and award shows. The Grammys are just a microcosm of the celluloid and shallow state of music today. If Britney Spears wasn’t mentally imploding before our very eyes, she would most assuredly would also be front and center, showcasing the Grammys and the music business as it really is.

Clive Davis once again threw his pre-Grammy self-adoration gathering, with his loyal subjects all in attendance and performing at the feet of the master who controls their fate. Obviously feeling some pressure from the fallout of the dying recording industry, Mr. Davis was compelled to throw a a dig at the critics out there (like me) who blame the demise on mediocre music. “How wrong you are!”, the Puppet Master proclaimed, before introducing The Foo Fighters.

The only redeeming thing about the Grammys is that the great Aretha Franklin was honored last night as the MusiCares’ Person of the Year. Lefsetz describes her performance as bordering on a religious experience.  Speaking of religious experience, The Queen of Soul is also nominated tonight for Best Gospel Performance for her duet with Mary J. Blige on Never Gonna Break My Faith, a Music Maven favorite.

Earlier in the week USA Today interviewed Ree Ree about the award and I was particularly struck by her very blunt statement about her thoughts on today’s music:

R&B is “alive and well,” says Franklin, but it’s no match for the music of the ’60s and ’70s. “You had stronger artists, unquestionably. Sam & Dave, Ray Charles, Etta James, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson. C’mon, you know. Please.”

Right on.

On a homeboy note, here’s wishing Geno Delafose good luck tonight in the Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Performance category.


Posted by on February 10, 2008 in aretha franklin, John Mayer, Music Today


Colette’s Corner: Comfort & Joy

This seems to be a recurring theme, this year. As we strap in for the ride that is “Christmas weekend”, here’s a great post from Colette.

Colette has some surgery earlier this week and here’s wishing her a speedy and pur-FECK recovery. I have a few comments at the end of this piece, but guys, remember that the most important part of Christmas or Hanukkah is sharing TIME with family and friends….the gift of self.

Comfort & Joy

As this year of big challenges ends for me, I find myself wanting to share two songs of solace.

Both are tunes that have inspired many singers, in a multitude of covers. And both songs endure because they are musically captivating as well as meaningful. They are songs of faith, resilience and love, in the best sense, and after a year of dealing with the death and illness of loved ones, and my own health issues, I take comfort in them and hope you will too.

Like a Bridge

Ironically, Paul Simon wrote his 1969 ballad “Bridge Over Troubled Water” as the “waters” of his longtime friendship and artistic partnership with Art Garfunkel were becoming troubled.

But songs come to composers for so many reasons – not just as depictions of life as it is, but also as how we yearn for and imagine it to be, at its ideal.

So out of the vanities and frictions of these two musicians, who for a decade really did need and complete one another, came a gorgeous anthem of selfless love and concern.

Simon later reportedly regretted having Garfunkel sing lead on the song in the original hit recording, and Artie apparently didn’t want to in the first place. They were both wrong. A very moving live performance, with Artie’s unearthly falsetto, from their 1981 Central Park reunion:

– Simon and Garfunkel

Aretha Franklin was among the first to pick up on the song’s spiritual, hymn-like nature. OK, y’all know I’m an Aretha maniac – but her version is a great, great treasure. She performs it here, just after picking up a Grammy for her recorded rendition. Catch that bright orange sari!:

— Aretha Franklin

MM, you know I’ve never been big into Elvis, but his performance of “Bridge” is to be cherished, as I’m sure you’ll agree. It’s also poignant, given his own private anguish at the time. Here he is performing the tune live in 1972:

— Elvis

Last, an entirely simple, humble and beautiful acoustic interpretation by the late Eva Cassidy. This very gifted singer, who died young and achieved limited success when alive, has left a wonderful legacy on youtube:

[] – Eva Cassidy

A Little Prayer

“I Say a Little Prayer,” though uptempo and more pop-ish, also carries a lot of meaning for me. Written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach for Dionne Warwick, it was a cut David didn’t want to release as a single. Thank heaven Bacharach felt otherwise!

When it came out in 1967, the Vietnam War was escalating and the song was widely interpreted as a woman’s message to a loved one in battle, that throughout the day she was “saying a little prayer” for him.

But the recording is beguiling in any context, for a lot of reasons – its lyrics sweet and flippant, its charming duet between Dionne’s voice and the horns, the unusual time signatures (a trademark of Bacharach’s) and a wonderful soaring bridge – “For ever and ever….”

Here’s the studio version, with pics of the great Dionne in her prime:

It wasn’t long before that sharp-eared Aretha chimed in with her more soulful take on the tune, released on her spectacular 1968 album, “Aretha Now.” (Also on it: “Think,” “You Send Me” and “Seesaw.”)

Aretha slows “Prayer” down, really sings like she means it, and her spiraling high notes are pure ecstasy in this British 1970 TV version – with her inimitable backup gals. And don’t she look fly? One of my favorite Aretha clips ever:

– Aretha Franklin

All great songs can mean a variety of things, and this rendition by the (often underrated) Natalie Cole and the (sometimes overrated) Whitney Houston, is a stone tribute to down-home sisterhood. In this 1980s duet, they have a ball topping each other. (They also do “Bridge Over Traveled Water” in the same set, but that’s more of a scream-a-thon):

– Whitney Houston & Natalie Cole

Finally, a quietly enchanting instrumental of the tune by a Brazilian artist, Naudo, who does beautiful acoustic guitar renderings of great songs on youtube. Here’s Bacharach’s rich melody, at its essence:

— Naudo

Thank you, Colette, for the wonderful posts that you have contributed to me wee lil’ blog. It’s so wonderful to have people come here who are interested in music, it’s history and influences. I appreciate all you guys.

As for Ms. Ree, she really is fantastic and there is honestly nothing that she can’t “do”. Someone I know will be going to see her in the Spring and if that person doesn’t provide pictures and a review to this blog, I will be highly upset. Not to worry, however, as I don’t think I will be disappointed.

Lastly, regarding “comfort” songs, I discovered The Prayer about 10 years ago from Celine Dion’s Christmas CD. I immediately fell in love with it but always associated it with Christmas until one of my friends used it in their wedding. It was absolutely beautiful and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. (Yes, I’m a schmuck for weddings, too.)

The Prayer – Celine Dion & Andrea Bocelli

This song always soothes me and makes me feel better. It’s a very powerful song that, for me, is best delivered by Andrea Bocelli. I’m not a Josh Groban fan, although his rendition with Celine is very good.

As for “joy”, this Christina Augilera rendition of Angels We Have Heard On High is particularly appealing to me this season. And, just for Shrew…a little Garth with Baby Jesus is Born. I can’t help but move and groove when these songs pop up in my Christmas song rotation. (A site to behold, to be sure!)



When it all comes down to it, aren’t we all really looking for a little respect?

R-E-S to the P-E-C-T

Unless you can sing like Ree Ree, respect is a little harder to come by. Usually, it’s earned through the decent treatment of others. You know, the thing you were taught in Kindergarten, in Sunday School, in Catechism…..”The Golden Rule”, a/k/a the Law of Reaping and Sowing, better known as “karma”.

Pardon this rant, but this has been on my mind.

To me, the problem manifests when people somehow think that they’ll gain respect by bashing others or bullying or making fun of someone. I HATE THAT CRAP. Intelligent disagreement and civil debate on a particular subject is fine. Got no problem with that. But, what I really abhor is when somebody — anybody — makes other people feel crappy to have some kind of control and quasi-respect. Has that ever worked?

I mean, who enjoyed being teased or ridiculed growing up? Who has ever endeared themselves by making others feel crappy? Aren’t there 1,000 movies like Revenge of the Nerds, Never Been Kissed, She’s All That, Just Friends, etc.? And don’t you just want to punch the jock, cheerleader, clearly evil asshats bent on making people feel bad?

My theory of people that live to tear down others is a lack of respect for self. Because they do not like themselves, they can’t love others. In not loving others, they have little or no remorse in inflicting great pain on others. That brings retribution and lack of acceptance which feeds the vicious cycle.

What is the point? Isn’t life too short? Isn’t it easier to be supportive and positive rather than critical and negative? And, does anybody really get satisfaction in making fun of someone’s weight? height? looks? handicap? misunderstood humor? lack of intelligence? religion? ethnicity?

Isn’t time better spent encouraging and building others up? Yeah, yeah, I know…..rainbows, kitties, baby ducks and squishy muffins…

I’ll conclude this pontificating with a little Staple Singers:

Give a cahoot, don’t pollute.


Posted by on November 15, 2007 in aretha franklin, random crap, that's life


Never Gonna Break My Faith


Sometimes, there is a song that just sticks with you.

A good friend recently told me that she always wanted to be Aretha Franklin. Now, Aretha is just one of those pulsars that grace a generation. She’s an institution, yet she’s not so self-consumed that she forgets that her gift is to provide music that kun-NECKs with folks. Makes you feel. Makes you sing along.

While Aretha is not high profile anymore, recently she recorded “Never Gonna Break My Faith” with Mary J. Blige and the Harlem Boys’ Choir. Wow. Here are the powerful lyrics to that song, highlighted in the movie, Bobby, about the late Robert F. Kennedy. These lyrics are sooooo powerful to me:

My Lord
I have read this book so many times
But nowhere can I find the page
that says what I experience today
has any Grace.

Now I know that life is meant to be hard
that’s how I learn to appreciate my God
Though my courage made me tried
I can tell you I won’t hide
Because the footprints show you were by my side.

You can lie to a child with a smilin’ face
Tell me that color ain’t about race
You can cast the first stones, you can break my bones
But your never gonna break, You’re never gonna break my Faith.

Faith and Hope aint yours to give
Truth and liberty are mine to live
You can steal a crown from a king
Break an angels wings
But your never gonna break, You’re never gonna break my Faith

My Lord
Won’t you help them, help them to understand
that when someone takes the life of an innocent man
Well they never really won because all they’ve really done
is set the soul free where it’s supposed to be


For those we lose before their time,
I pray their souls will find the light.
I know that the day will surely come,
When His will, His will, will be done.

While designed to pay homage to Bobby Kennedy and his “walk”, the song has meaning in so many of today’s struggles. In light of all those “situations”, this song — delivered with added emphasis from Misses Franklin and Blige, parlay courage to face the day….

Remember, no-one can make you feel bad about yourself without your permission.


Posted by on April 14, 2007 in aretha franklin, Influences