Music

Happy Birthday

Some time ago I posted about a discussion between my brother and myself about who was the greatest American songwriter.  (Part 1 of that discussion is here, and part 2 here).  To sum it up we decided on Paul Simon.  Actually, my brother told me it was Paul Simon, I was holding out for Bob Dylan.  But we both agreed that John Lennon was the greatest songwriter of our era.

Today would have been John’s 80th birthday.

Happy birthday John.

Peace,
B

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Skeeter’s Family

Guitar Gods – Chapter Five

Today’s featured guitarist will not be on a lot of folks’ radar, even if he did rank 28th on Rolling Stone’s 2003 list of “The 100 Greatest Guitarist of All Time” and then 47th on the 2011 list.  Not too shabby at all.

Mr. Stills has been around a while.  While known primarily for his work with Buffalo Springfield and the Crosby, Stills and Nash (with or without Young), he was part of the house band for the New York City club Café au Go Go, known as Au Go Singers.  While the groups name leaves some to be desired, the 9-part harmony was spot on.  At least that’s what I read; I was way to young to visit.  Plus, I lived several hundred miles away.

Since Stephen was a military brat (much like my boys) he travelled quite a bit as a youngster.  He spent several years in Florida and Central America.  You can tell he must have picked up his Spanish on the street and not in a class room by his basically unintelligible Spanish ramblings at the end of the CS&N hit “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”.  Having grown up in Miami I had many native Spanish (Cuban) speaking friends.  Not a single one could figure out what he was saying.  They’d get words here and there, but nothing that really made any sense.

Stills has said that he intentionally made the final stanzas unexpected and difficult, even using a foreign language for the lyrics, “just to make sure nobody would understand it” (not even Spanish speaking people). 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suite:_Judy_Blue_Eyes

As much as CS&N or CSN&Y are a mainstay of my listening habit, Stills solo work can be just as good, and at times even better.  His eponymous titled first solo album features Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, two other guitarists on this list of guitar gods.  It also had his biggest solo hit “Love The One You’re With”.  That track peak at 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970.  His guitar can also be heard on Bill Withers major hit “Ain’t No Sunshine”.

I think my first remembrance of him doesn’t even feature his guitar.  It would have been with the Springfield and “For What It’s Worth”.  Neil Young played lead on that one.  I featured that song some time ago here

Stills is known for using the “Palmer modal tuning” when playing acoustic guitar.  I think I need to learn this method as he’s using it in the video below.  And this is one of his songs that I have tried to learn and could never get it even close.  I know he was using a different tuning than the standard tuning I was using, but still.  Palmer tuning has the guitar set to D A D F# A D (or E E E E B E according to some places), whereas standard tuning is E A D G B E.

Stills received an Honorary Doctorate in Music from the University of Florida in 2018.  I had heard that he was a political science student at UF but dropped out, but have not be able to verify that.

So here is Stills, solo, with 4+20.

Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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A Little Funk For Your Day

While I was out driving today, I was listening to Peter Asher’s From Me To You show on The Beatles channel (#18 on SiriusXM).  I do enjoy this show for two reasons.  Not only did Mr. Asher have a great music career as both a member of Peter and Gordon but also as a Grammy winning producer.  Not to mention that his sister Jane was a longtime girlfriend of Paul McCartney (before he was Sir Paul). This gives him inside knowledge about almost all things Beatles.

One of the cool things about his show is that he always starts off with a Peter and Gordon song that sets the theme for that particular episode.  Today’s opening song was “Nobody I Know”, which was written by Sir Paul, but credited to Lennon and McCartney. 

One of The Beatles songs featured today was “I Want to Hold your Hand”.  A monster hit in the UK.

I Want to Hold Your Hand” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and recorded on 17 October 1963, it was the first Beatles record to be made using four-track equipment.

With advance orders exceeding one million copies in the United Kingdom, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” would have gone straight to the top of the British record charts on its day of release (29 November 1963) had it not been blocked by the group’s first million-seller “She Loves You“, their previous UK single, which was having a resurgence of popularity following intense media coverage of the group. Taking two weeks to dislodge its predecessor, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” stayed at number one for five weeks and remained in the UK top 50 for 21 weeks in total.

It was also the group’s first American number-one hit, entering the Billboard Hot 100 chart on 18 January 1964 at number 45 and starting the British Invasion of the American music industry. By 1 February it topped the Hot 100, and stayed there for seven weeks before being replaced by “She Loves You”. It remained on the Billboard chart for 15 weeks. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” became the Beatles’ best-selling single worldwide selling more than 12 million copies. In 2018, Billboard magazine named it the 48th biggest hit of all time on the Billboard Hot 100. In the UK, it was the second highest selling single of the 1960s, behind “She Loves You”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Want_to_Hold_Your_Hand

Now what I found amazing about this piece was a cover by none other than Al Green.  I had never heard this cover, and it quite literally blew my mind.  OK, maybe not literally, but it came close.

So without further ado, from the 2011 album “Come Together:  Black America Sings Lennon & McCartney”, here’s the Rev. Al Green with an amazingly funky “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.

Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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Guitar Gods – Chapter Four

Last night my dear older brother (whose birthday was Friday – so Happy Birthday again), texted me to go to you tube to listen to Europa by Santana.  He was impressed by the bass line.  Realizing that he was an amazing bass player in his day, but I wonder how he could avoid the absolute genesis of Carlos Santana.  I have written about this particular track some time ago, in Guitar Gods – Chapter One, so I guess it slipped his mind that I knew the song.

Over the course of the two hours or so we went back and forth via text (well I went on for two hours, he gave up about 90 minutes in) we talked many guitarists from Santana, where we started, to David Gilmore, Mark Knopfler, and Stephen Stills.  But these guys didn’t come up once until I stumbled on the video below.

Stevie Ray Vaughn is way up there on my guitar gods list.  As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, son-the-younger was almost named for him.   Albert King, on the other hand, was not on the list.  But he is now.  I knew of Mr. King from the blues channels on Sirius.  But I thought he was, as a guitar player, of the B.B. King and Muddy Waters style.  By that I mean he would play little licks only when not singing.  Both King and Waters are amazing blues artists, but I find their guitar work not as strong as King’s.  Maybe I just haven’t seen the proper videos.  Leave a comment directing me to watch something to educate me. 

This is from a 1983 In Session recording.

In Session is a blues album by Albert King with Stevie Ray Vaughan recorded live for television on December 6, 1983, at CHCH-TV studios in Hamilton, OntarioCanada, when Vaughan was 29 and King was 60. It was released as an album on August 17, 1999 and re-released with a supplemental video recording on DVD on September 28, 2010.  It has also been released on CD and SACD.

It was the first of two collaborations captured for television, the second being as invited guests on a show led by B.B. King in 1987. It was recorded for one of a series of live television sessions recording the performances of various artists. The show was called In Session.  The album includes a few short segments of the banter by King and Vaughan between songs.

Initially, King was not going to do the show as he did not know who Vaughan was.  He did not realize that Vaughan was actually ‘little Stevie’, the ‘skinny kid’ that he let sit in when King played in Texas.  King talks about this on one of the conversation tracks.  When he realized who Vaughan was, he agreed to play.

The album’s material is mostly King’s concert line up, with one Vaughan cut, “Pride and Joy” on the audio CD (the DVD also features Vaughan’s “Texas Flood”).  King is ‘driving’ the session, but he features Vaughan’s guitar extensively on most of the songs. According to the introductory credits on the DVD, a number of the tunes are included there for the first time, having been omitted from the original TV broadcast for reasons of time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Session_(Albert_King_and_Stevie_Ray_Vaughan_album)

Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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Singer-Songwriters – Chapter One

Before we begin this series, I need your input; what exactly (in your most humble opinion), is a “Singer – Songwriter”?  Does one have to be a solo act, or are band members in amongst this talented group?

Case in point – Paul Simon (you can read my thoughts on Paul here).  He is most definitely a singer – songwriter, but does he qualify for his solo work only, or does his work recorded under the Simon and Garfinkle duo count as well?  The same could be asked of any of The Beatles or Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

As per my usual, I asked my brother his thoughts.  He says, and I tend to agree with him, that anyone that has written the song that they’re singing qualifies. In that way, any of the gentlemen in The Beatles or CSN&Y qualify.  For the most part, I will limit myself to solo artists for now, with some exceptions such as Mr. Simon and maybe a few others.

So, I ask you, dear reader, to leave a comment with your thoughts.  I won’t guarantee I’ll take your advice, but let your vote be counted anyway.  Also, please let me know any folks you would think qualify for this list (or any other of my series).  As with my other list, Guitar Gods (in the process of being expanded to Guitar Gods & Wizards), this list is in my head only.  As such names are likely to be forgotten (hey – I’m old!) and a reminder now and then would be helpful.

One last note on suggestions.  Please leave all comments here on the blog.  Anything placed on the various social media sites are not likely to be seen quickly.  I have become very scarce on most social media, and Facebook particularly.  Now, on with our first of the “Singer – Songwriters”.


Carole King Klein (born Carol Joan Klein; February 9, 1942) is an American singer-songwriter who has been active since 1958, initially as one of the staff songwriters at the Brill Building and later as a solo artist. She is the most successful female songwriter of the latter half of the 20th century in the US, having written or co-written 118 pop hits on the Billboard Hot 100.  King also wrote 61 hits that charted in the UK, making her the most successful female songwriter on the UK singles charts between 1962 and 2005.

King’s major success began in the 1960s when she and her first husband, Gerry Goffin, wrote more than two dozen chart hits, many of which have become standards, for numerous artists. She has continued writing for other artists since then. King’s success as a performer in her own right did not come until the 1970s, when she sang her own songs, accompanying herself on the piano, in a series of albums and concerts. After experiencing commercial disappointment with her debut album Writer, King scored her breakthrough with the album Tapestry, which topped the U.S. album chart for 15 weeks in 1971 and remained on the charts for more than six years.

King has made 25 solo albums, the most successful being Tapestry, which held the record for most weeks at No. 1 by a female artist for more than 20 years. Her record sales were estimated at more than 75 million copies worldwide. She has won four Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for her songwriting. She is the recipient of the 2013 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, the first woman to be so honored. She is also a 2015 Kennedy Center Honoree.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carole_King

As most young kids of the time, my musical introduction to her was the Tapestry album.  I bought a pirated 8-track (told you I was old!) at a flea market, and promptly wore it out.  I was lucky enough to see Ms. King live on Halloween night, 1975.  It was a David Crosby and Graham Nash concert and she joined them for a couple of songs.  It was spectacular. 

As the quote above mentions, along with her then husband she wrote so many songs that other artists recorded.  I remember how surprised I was when I learned that they wrote “The Loco Motion”.  As far as I was concerned that was a Grand Funk Railroad tune, not to mention the Herman’s Hermits hit “I’m Into Something Good” or Aretha Franklin’s monster hit “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”. I could go on and on.

Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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Guitar Gods – Chapter Three

For us music geeks the sad news this weekend that Peter Green had passed away came as a real blow.  May folks may not know who he was, so here’s a quick recap.  He was the guy that replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers.  Still not ringing a bell?  He was a founding member of Fleetwood  Mac.  Surely, you’ve heard of that band!

Of course, the version of Fleetwood mac you probably recognize is not the original group.  Seems that back in 1966 (I won’t mention who young I was) Peter left the Bluesbreakers taking drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie, who had only been with the Bluesbreakers for a few weeks to start Fleetwood Mac as a blues band.  Fleetwood Mac didn’t really become the commercial juggernaut of rock/pop fame until Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham came along a bit later.

Peter Green (born Peter Allen Greenbaum; 29 October 1946 – 25 July 2020) was an English blues rock singer-songwriter and guitarist. As the founder of Fleetwood Mac, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Green’s songs, such as “Albatross“, “Black Magic Woman“, “Oh Well“, “The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown)” and “Man of the World“, appeared on singles charts, and several have been adapted by a variety of musicians.

Green was a major figure in the “second great epoch” of the British blues movement. B.B. King commented, “He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.” Eric Clapton praised his guitar playing; he was interested in expressing emotion in his songs, rather than showing off how fast he could play[8] and used string bendingvibrato, and economy of style.

Rolling Stone ranked Green at number 58 in its list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”. His tone on the instrumental “The Super-Natural” was rated as one of the 50 greatest of all time by Guitar Player. In June 1996, Green was voted the third-best guitarist of all time in Mojo magazine.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Green_(musician)

Peter was featured on the Bluesbreakers album A Hard Road in 1967 with two of his songs making the album.  One of which is featured below.  I have also featured one of my favorites of his originals here.

It seems that Peter may have really messed his head up with a bad acid trip in March 1970 while in Munich.  Most reports say this was the beginning of his mental illness issues.  He did spend time getting treatment and managed to get back to playing about 1979.

In 1988 Green was quoted as saying: “I’m at present recuperating from treatment for taking drugs. It was drugs that influenced me a lot.  I took more than I intended to. I took LSD eight or nine times. The effect of that stuff lasts so long … I wanted to give away all my money … I went kind of holy – no, not holy, religious.  I thought I could do it, I thought I was all right on drugs.  My failing!”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Green_(musician)

He was 73 when he died in his sleep on the 25th of July, 2020.  He will be missed.

Peace,
B

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Guitar Gods – Chapter Two

Today is a 3 for 1 blue light special!

No, I’m not trying to get through my list quick.  I thought it would be cool to combine several of the gods in one post.  There is an exceptionally good chance that all these gentlemen will appear here again.

This is a song written by George Harrison, and the lead guitar on the original recording (on The Beatles AKA “The White Album”) is played by Eric Clapton, and here is Peter Frampton doing it live.  I also saw covers by lots of other guitar wizards, but I went with this one mainly because as I was starting this post, as only a 2 for 1, with George and Eric. Then I heard Peter’s cover playing on the radio.  So, I changed the video and went with this one.

As I mentioned this was originally on the White Album; 

While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1968 double album The Beatles (also known as “the White Album”). It was written by George Harrison, the band’s lead guitarist. The song serves as a comment on the disharmony within the Beatles following their return from studying Transcendental Meditation in India in early 1968. This lack of camaraderie was reflected in the band’s initial apathy towards the composition, which Harrison countered by inviting his friend and occasional collaborator, Eric Clapton, to contribute to the recording. Clapton overdubbed a lead guitar part, although he was not formally credited for his contribution.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/While_My_Guitar_Gently_Weeps

I have featured this song here and here.

Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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Guitar Gods – Chapter One

So…  Happy anniversary to me!  Today marks the 3rd anniversary of this here silly assed blog, AND the 12th anniversary of me on Twitter, which is even more silly assed!  So, I got that going for me.

But of course, that’s not what I came here to tell you about (been a while since I’ve used that line and thank you Mr. Guthrie).

For those of you that have been paying attention you may have noticed my every now and then mentioning a certain list of guitar gods.  On this most auspicious day (see paragraph one above) I feel it’s time to start honoring those gods (and goddesses).  As a reminder, this list has not been written down, it’s all in “me ‘ead”.  As such, it is a very fluid list.  Any ranking on said list is purely whimsical and is subject to change depending on my mood and/or alcohol consumption.

For those that know me best the artist I’m using to start this series off may come as a surprise.  Those that have been reading this blog (and thanks to each and every one of you) know that my “top three” guitar gods, both chronologically and favoritism are Mike Nesmith, George Harrison, and Eric Clapton.  I have featured each of those artists many times, so I went with someone else this time.

I guess it’s not all that surprising that my favorite songs by this gentleman are instrumental. After all, Carlos Santana doesn’t sing on his recordings. He is first and foremost a guitarist.  I can’t say for sure, but I would think the name Santana, as a band, first hit me with Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen. After all the AM radio stations didn’t play tracks like Soul Sacrifice it just wasn’t radio friendly. Along with the aforementioned Soul Sacrifice, the other great instrumentals I can dig are Samba Pa Ti and Europa (Earth’s Cry Heaven’s Smile).  

I remember the first time I heard Europa. When that track hit the stylus on my turntable everything else stopped. The sustain Carlos gets out of his guitar then followed by the machine gun like riffs just blew me away.

To see a young Carlos and band, check out the footage from Woodstock.  Rumor has it that Carlos was tripping on LSD while on stage.  Their set was delayed by a rain storm and Carlos was hanging out with Jerry Garcia (he of course is on the list as well) in the artist trailer and well, you can imagine what happened.

Major rock music promoter Bill Graham, a Latin Music aficionado who had been a fan of Santana from its inception, arranged for the band to appear at the Woodstock Music and Art Festival before its debut album was even released. Its set was one of the surprises of the festival, highlighted by an eleven-minute performance of a throbbing instrumental, “Soul Sacrifice”. Its inclusion in the Woodstock film and soundtrack album vastly increased the band’s popularity.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlos_Santana

Here is a live video with two my favorite instrumentals.  Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 16 June

Coronavirus Edition Part 7

Before I get into the music, let’s do a quick catch-up since it’s been awhile since my last post.

Wifey starts her new job today.  She was laid off due to the coronavirus on St. Patrick’s Day (17 March for those that don’t have a calendar handy). She’s back in a law office, which is what she was doing for the last 5 years or so.  And trying to claim unemployment here in #Floriduh has been a pain.  But we made it work (again).

Obviously, I made it through the cardiac ablation fine.  I haven’t had a follow up with the cardiologist that did the procedure yet, but I did have a follow up with my regular cardiologist and have a tele-medicine call with my family doctor tomorrow. No big warning signs have popped up, although my blood glucose is trending a bit high as well as my blood pressure.  I’m blaming the blood pressure on the fact that I have had the anti-arrhythmia drugs stopped.  Plus the fact that I am more than a bit overweight, which adds to both the blood pressure and glucose issues.  Neither of the “problems” are serious at this time.  Wifey and I are trying to maintain a better diet and now that my heart is beating normal again, we have restarted our walking in the mornings.  The biggest issue I have from the procedure is the itching from where they shaved my groin for all the catheters they used.  By my count I had one catheter in my right femoral vein, four in my left femoral vein and one in the left femoral artery.  Even though I had stopped the Eliquis (blood thinner) two days prior to the procedure, I still bruised badly.

Other good news is that son-the-younger also has found a new job, and son-the-elder has finally made it back stateside from his Europe deployment, but back home quite yet.

Now, on to the music.

I have no clue why this is stuck in my head.  I am not that big of fan of Mr. Springsteen.  It is notable that the line “Well I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk” is what keeps repeating.  Realizing of course, that “talk” rhymes with “walk”, I’m more used to hearing that guitarists strive to make their instruments “sing”.  But then again, Bruce doesn’t really sing all the well either.  Not that I do any better, but still.  In retrospect, it’s no worse that Eric Clapton and George Harrison using the line “Then I told ‘bout our kid / Now he’s married to Mabel”.  Mabel rhymes with “table” the last word of the previous verse.  Artistic license as it best/worst?

I picked this version of the song simply because of Melissa Etheridge.  I had a cassette tape of her first album when I was stationed in Korea.  I wore that tape out.  I love her voice!

Enjoy!

Peace,
B

P.S. I had blood work done yesterday and I just got the results. My glucose is firmly in the normal area. So disregard the above!

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 26 April

Coronavirus Edition Part 6

Not too long ago (I can’t really remember exactly when – the days here in self-isolation just blend together), I watched the ZZ Top documentary on Netflix.  A very enjoyable show it was.  It gives a good background on how they got started and had bit and pieces of lots of their music scattered throughout the show, as well as the band playing live.

One line that stuck with me, but I can’t remember who said it (not a band member), was “ZZ Top took the blues and turned it into party music”.  That’s a very true statement.  It goes right along with front man Billy F. Gibbons’ reply when asked why fans still come to see them play live; (paraphrasing here) “I don’t know.  We’re just the same three guys playing the same three chords”. 

I hope they keep those same I-VI-V chords going!

This song has been stuck in my head off and on since I watched that show.

Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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