Videos

What’s Stuck In My Head – 13 December

In full disclosure, this song was not stuck in my head when I woke up this morning. But I was listening to The Beatles channel on SiriusXM on the way in this morning, and this came on.  It’s been stuck there ever since.

I do not usually like covers of Beatles songs, with the exception of Joe Cocker’s covers.  Those rock!  I will add this to my “approved covers” list. As far as those hideous “Love” and “Across The Universe” soundtracks go, they are right out.

This cover is by Rufus Wainwright, the son of one of my “counter-culture” heroes, Loudon Wainwright III

I was going back in forth on which Beatle wrote this song. I was leaning towards John, which is correct, simply due to the depth of the lyrics. But with the mantra thrown in there, I figure George had at least a little input.

From the wiki;

One night in 1967, the phrase “words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup” came to Lennon after hearing his then-wife Cynthia, according to Lennon, “going on and on about something”. Later, after “she’d gone to sleep – and I kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream”, Lennon went downstairs and turned it into a song. He began to write the rest of the lyrics and when he was done, he went to bed and forgot about them.
I was lying next to my first wife in bed, you know, and I was irritated, and I was thinking. She must have been going on and on about something and she’d gone to sleep and I kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream. I went downstairs and it turned into a sort of cosmic song rather than an irritated song, rather than a “Why are you always mouthing off at me?”[1] [The words] were purely inspirational and were given to me as boom! I don’t own it you know; it came through like that.[2]
The flavour of the song was heavily influenced by Lennon’s and the Beatles’ interest in Transcendental Meditation in late 1967 – early 1968, when the song was composed. Based on this, he added the mantra “Jai guru deva om” (Sanskrit: जय गुरुदेव ) to the piece, which became the link to the chorus. The Sanskrit phrase is a sentence fragment whose words could have many meanings. Literally it approximates as “glory to the shining remover of darkness”[3] and can be paraphrased as “Victory to God divine”, “Hail to the divine guru”, or the phrase commonly invoked by the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in referring to his spiritual teacher, “All glory to Guru Dev“.[4]
The song’s lyrical structure is straightforward: three repetitions of a unit consisting of a verse, the line “Jai guru deva om” and the line “Nothing’s gonna change my world” repeated four times. The lyrics are highly image-based, with abstract concepts reified with phrases like thoughts “meandering”, words “slithering”, and undying love “shining”. The title phrase “across the universe” appears at intervals to finish lines, although it never cadences, always appearing as a rising figure, melodically unresolved. It finishes on the leading note; to the Western musical ear, the next musical note would be the tonic and would therefore sound complete.
In his 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, Lennon referred to the song as perhaps the best, most poetic lyric he ever wrote: “It’s one of the best lyrics I’ve written. In fact, it could be the best. It’s good poetry, or whatever you call it, without chewin’ it. See, the ones I like are the ones that stand as words, without melody. They don’t have to have any melody, like a poem, you can read them.”[5]

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

So, anyway, here is Rufus Wainwright’s absolutely mesmerizing “Across The Universe”. I hope you enjoy it!

What’s your favorite Beatles song??

Peace,
B

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As Close As I Can Get

In case you haven’t heard, I absolutely despise Christmas Music. It’s old, worn out, and just plain boring.  Having said that, this is a close as I can get to playing a Christmas tune..  Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 30 November

Well here it is, the last day of November. Florida has had a bit of cold snap, very early for this year. 

Lately, I have been listening to the Deep Track channel on Sirius XM more. I do this for two reasons, primarily because I get to hear songs that don’t get a lot of airtime, and second for Earle Bailey’s Head Trip show.  Mr. Bailey is also the morning drive DJ on the Classic Vinyl channel. I really enjoy his DJ work. He has a great voice (whereas I was told I have the perfect face for radio!), is very knowledgeable about the music and has a rather dry sense of humor. 

Yesterday’s Head Trip was all instrumentals. When he first promoted the concept, I was intrigued. The show did not disappoint. Earle talked about a song I had never heard. Taurus by Spirit. The interesting thing about this particular track is, well, let me quote from the wiki;


 Guitar World magazine stated that “California’s most enduring legacy may well be the fingerpicked acoustic theme of the song ‘Taurus’, which Jimmy Page lifted virtually note for note for the introduction to ‘Stairway to Heaven‘.”[4] The Independent noted the similarity in 1997.[5] In 2014, Mark Andes and a trust acting on behalf of Randy California filed an copyright infringement suit against Led Zeppelin in an attempt to obtain a writing credit for “Stairway to Heaven”.[6][7] Page denied copying “Taurus”,[8] and the suit was unsuccessful.[9] The verdict was overturned on appeal in September 2018.

If you listen to Taurus, I think you’ll agree that Stairway is a copy.

But as Alro and I said in this post; “That’s not what I came here to tell you about”. 

When there is a show about “Classic Rock” (and I still hate that term), that’s all instrumental, I will always listen for one song in particular. 

This track has always been near the top of my list of all-time favorites. I would dream of one day being able to play it myself. Sadly, I can only play it on the radio. My guitar skills suck.

In case I’m being too obscure here, I’m talking about Classical Gas by Mason Williams. Reading up on Mr. Williams, I didn’t realize that he was also a comedy writer. He has written for some of my favorite shows, The Smother Brothers Comedy Hour and Saturday Night Live among others. 


It was on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour that he created and perpetuated the 1968 “Pat Paulsen for President” campaign, an elaborate political satire. Williams also helped launch the career of entertainer Steve Martin. Martin was hired by Williams as a writer on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, for which his contributions were initially paid out of Williams’ own pocket. In 1968, he won an Emmy Award for his work as a comedy writer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

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

I’m not sure if this clip is from The Smother Brothers show or not, but it’s still impressive.  Enjoy!

What’s your favorite instrumental?

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 21 November

So you either know this song, or you have no idea what I’m talking about. This particular track has become a Thanksgiving classic. But it’s only tie to the holiday is that the beginning of the story takes place at Thanksgiving, but as Arlo says; “That’s not what I came to tell you about”. The true message of the song is anti-draft and against the Vietnam conflict.

I am, of course, talking about the classic Alice’s Restaurant Massacree“.  The song was originally released in October of 1967. I don’t think I heard it until 1974 or so. Since the song is long (over 18 minutes), it wouldn’t fit on a 45 RPM single, and therefore was never released for airplay. It would take the advent of the “AOR” (Album Oriented Radio) format, a precursor to today’s “Classic Rock” format (Oh! How I hate that term) for radio to start playing longer tracks like this. Think Iron Butterfly’s iconic In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida“.

Alice’s Restaurant is based on a true story. Arlo Guthrie, like a lot of folks at that time, resisted the draft. I don’t totally blame those that did resist. Even though I went on to join the military and eventually retire from the Army, the prospect of going to Vietnam was not something I was looking forward to. But I was too young for the draft.

The moral behind the song is summed up in one line;


 The ironic punch line of the story is that, in the words of Guthrie, “I’m sittin’ here on the Group W bench ’cause you want to know if I’m moral enough to join the Army—burn women, kids, houses and villages—after bein’ a litterbug.” 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice%27s_Restaurant_Massacree

What I find is that in all my years in the military, I served alongside plenty of folks that had much worse than being a litterbug on their records. In the end, Arlo was not drafted. And though the draft board used this arrest as the reason not to draft him, I think was more that his dad, Woody Guthrie, also a singer-songwriter, and a political activist, that had more to do with it. They just didn’t want a potential disturbance in the ranks.

So, go grab you a beverage, and a snack, and sit back and listen to the tale of Alice’s Restaurant Massacree. 

Oh! And have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow (if you’re here in the USA). Otherwise, just have a great Thursday! 

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 9 November

This is one of those songs that has been with me since childhood. It reached #2 on Billboard’s Top 100 chart on 5 June 1965.  Which would mean I was all of about 6 years, and not quite 6 months old. But it’s a fun song so it would have appealed to me.  Of course, back in those days, it was AM radio only, and in the suburbs of Miami Florida, we had two great top 40 stations. Years (and I do mean many years) later, I was lucky enough to be an on-air DJ with one of those stations.) So I heard it often.

However, I never knew there was a video of the song until I stumbled upon it yesterday while playing around on Facebook waiting on an A/C guy to finally show.  Judging by the poor video quality this must be a screen capture of a TV show. But a quick search (at 5 AM – and only one cup of coffee) turns up no clues as to what show, or when this was recorded.

From the Wiki;

(It) was the band’s first and biggest hit. It became a worldwide success, selling three million copies and reaching No. 2 on the American Hot 100 chart on June 5–12, 1965, kept off the top by The Beach Boys’ “Help Me, Rhonda” and The Supremes’ “Back in My Arms Again”. It was the first American record to sell a million copies during the British Invasion and was influenced by the British rock sound which was mixed with traditional Mexican-American conjunto rhythms. It stayed in the Hot 100 for 18 weeks, the longest time for any song in 1965, and was nominated for a Grammy Award. It was named Billboard’s “Number One Record of the Year” despite never reaching No. 1 on a weekly Hot 100; this feat was achieved again by Faith Hill’s “Breathe” in 2000 and Lifehouse’s “Hanging by a Moment” in 2001 (all three hits peaked at #2). On August 5, 1965, the single was certified as gold by the RIAA.

Also of note from the band’s wiki page is that they, in an earlier incarnation, were the house band at a bar near Leesville, Louisiana. While that may not be of interest to you, dear reader (you are still reading this, right?), also just outside of Leesville is Ft. Polk. And I retired from the Army at Ft. Polk. Just a little piece of trivia for me to tuck away.

I can’t really apologize for the quality of the video. It’s not one of my productions (not that I could have done it any better).  I love the energy that most of the band has. Then when you add in the two girls standing stock still, it becomes a great piece of performance art. And it’s fun to watch, just don’t go full screen, then it really looks bad.

If you know of a better version of this video or know what show this is from, please leave a comment below!

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 6 November

So, today is midterm election day here in the USA. Please go out and vote!  There is one thing I think we all (as in not just here in America, but the world over) need is love.  And the repeating phrase “Love is everywhere” from this song is what we need to remember on this election day.

This track really shows off the guitar work of Dickey Betts (who wrote the song) and Duane Allman on acoustic guitar. I love the parallel guitar voices, running in thirds.

From the Wiki on the song;

His first songwriting contribution to the band, guitarist Dickey Betts initially wrote “Revival” as an instrumental. He began singing along, and lyrics came as an afterthought, which was not typical. Betts tended to naturally write instrumental songs first; he later commented, “You have to have an altogether different approach; an instrumental has to be real catchy and when you succeed it’s very satisfying because you have transcended words and communicated with emotion.”

This was the first song of the Allman Brothers to chart. Although it only reached 92 on the Billboard Top 100, and only stayed on the chart for three weeks.

So, without further ado, I give you Revival (Love Is Everywhere).

Peace,
B

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P.S. – GO VOTE DAMMIT!!!!! Please, vote your conscience. 

What’s Stuck In My Head – 1 November

I was listening to SiriusXM’s Deep Tracks channel yesterday on the way to work, and this song got stuck in my head.

This, of course, is the late great (I’ve been using that term way too much. All my favorite musicians are dying off!), Frank Zappa.  Frank never was a big commercial artist. And while I did know some of his music, this was the first album of his I bought. Sheik Yerbouti was released in March of 1979.  And with the title track and Dancin’ Fool, they are probably his only commercial hits other than Valley Girl. I have since bought several of his earlier releases, with Weasels Ripped My Flesh (August 1970) and Waka/Jawaka (July 1972) as my favorites. But Baby Snakes (March 1983) is an excellent album as well.  Valley Girl is his only track to be nominated for a Grammy and remains his top-selling single.

One of the lyrics in the song below talks about one leg being shorter than the other. This is a reference to an event that took place in London.  From the wiki page;

On December 4, 1971, Zappa suffered his first of two serious setbacks. While performing at Casino de Montreux in Switzerland, the Mothers’ equipment was destroyed when a flare set off by an audience member started a fire that burned down the casino. Immortalized in Deep Purple‘s song “Smoke on the Water“, the event and immediate aftermath can be heard on the bootleg album Swiss Cheese/Fire, released legally as part of Zappa’s Beat the Boots II compilation. After losing $50,000 (equivalent to $302,000 in 2017) worth of equipment and a week’s break, the Mothers played at the Rainbow Theatre, London, with rented gear. During the encore, audience member Trevor Howell pushed Zappa off the stage and into the concrete-floored orchestra pit. The band thought Zappa had been killed—he had suffered serious fractures, head trauma and injuries to his back, leg, and neck, as well as a crushed larynx, which ultimately caused his voice to drop a third after healing.

This attack resulted in an extended period of wheelchair confinement, making touring impossible for over half a year. Upon return to the stage in September 1972, Zappa was still wearing a leg brace, had a noticeable limp and could not stand for very long while on stage. Zappa noted that one leg healed “shorter than the other” (a reference later found in the lyrics of songs “Zomby Woof” and “Dancin’ Fool“), resulting in chronic back pain.

Have a favorite song of Zappa? Can’t stand him? Leave a comment!

Peace,
B

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They Say It’s Your Birthday

Today, 9 October, would have been John Lennon‘s 78th birthday. Sadly, along with my favorite Beatle, George Harrison, he is no longer with us.

But let’s talk of music, and not sad things.  I have been trying to decide which is my favorite Lennon song. He’s written some of the best music of my generation. From All You Need Is Love, Cry Baby Cry, Dear Prudence to Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey and of course, the iconic Imagine.  And those are just a few. Here’s the Wiki page for a list of Beatles songs, and solo songs.

I’m stuck between two songs for my “favorite” Lennon tune. It’s almost impossible to pick just one song out of all of his stuff. The first track I’ve selected is Rain. This song was before it’s time. Although it uses the “standard” I – IV- V chord structure (in this case G – C – D), it has unusual features such as backwards vocal tracks.  From the Wiki article;

Rain has a simple musical structure. Set in the key of G major (the final mix pitches it about a quarter of a semitone below this, while the backing track was taped in G sharp), it begins with what Alan W. Pollack calls, “a ra-ta-tat half-measure’s fanfare of solo snare drums”, followed by a guitar intro of the first chord. The verses are nine measures long, and the song is in 4/4 time. Each verse is based on the G, C, and D chords (I, IV, and V). The refrain contains only I and IV chords, and is twelve measures long (the repetition of a six-measure pattern). The first two measures are the G chord. The third and fourth measures are the C chord. The third measure has the C chord in the so-called 6/4 (second) inversion. The fifth and sixth measures return to the G chord. Pollack says the refrain seems slower than the verse, though it is at the same tempo, an illusion achieved by “the change of beat for the first four measures from its erstwhile bounce to something more plodding and regular”. After four verses and two refrains, a short solo for guitar and drums is played, with complete silence for one beat. Following this, the music returns accompanied by what Pollack terms “historically significant” reverse lyrics. Musicologist Walter Everett cites this closing section as an example of how the Beatles pioneered the “fade-out–fade-in coda”, a device used again by them on Strawberry Fields Forever and Helter Skelter, and by Led Zeppelin on Thank You.

Allan Kozinn describes McCartney’s bass as “an ingenious counterpoint that takes him all over the fretboard … while Lennon and McCartney harmonize in fourths on a melody with a slightly Middle Eastern tinge, McCartney first points up the song’s droning character by hammering on a high G (approached with a quick slide from the F natural just below it), playing it steadily on the beat for twenty successive beats.”

Ringo Starr called it his best drumming ever recorded.

The other track and I would probably place it above Rain in my list is Hey Bulldog. This is from the Yellow Submarine soundtrack. It was cut from the USA release of the movie to shorten the time but was added back in for the 1999 re-release. When granddaughter-the-elder was an infant I would sing Yellow Submarine to her when she was fussy. Both granddaughters still love the song.

The biggest appeal for this song is that I can play the riff (along with the riff from Day Tripper). I know that’s not a good reason to call this a favorite, but it works for me. You can always make your own list!

So here on John’s birthday, I implore everyone to follow his advice, and “Give Peace A Chance”.

Have a different favorite of John’s? Tell me in a comment!

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 5 October

This song has been going around and around for the better part of a month. I almost posted it before, but let it sit instead.  In the time that it’s been on hold, I found out some more cool things about the song.

First, it was written by Shel Silverstein, he of The Giving Tree, Where The Sidewalk Ends and so many other cartoons, books, albums, you name it.

It’s based on a true story. From the article on Songfacts;

In the song, Sylvia’s mother is Mrs. Avery, and while that wasn’t her real last name, the rest of the story – exaggerated a bit – was true. Silversteen told Rolling Stone in 1972: “I just changed the last name, not to protect the innocent, but because it didn’t fit. It happened about eight years ago and was pretty much the way it was in the song. I called Sylvia and her mother said, ‘She can’t talk to you.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ Her mother said she was packing and she was leaving to get married, which was a big surprise to me. The guy was in Mexico and he was a bullfighter and a painter. At the time I thought that was like being a combination brain surgeon and encyclopedia salesman. Her mother finally let me talk to her, but her last words were, ‘Shel, don’t spoil it.’ For about ten seconds I had this ego charge, as if I could have spoiled it. I couldn’t have spoiled it with a sledge hammer.”

It’s interesting to know that it was based on a true story because I always thought it could happen to me!

Dr. Hook is one of my favorite musicians. His style (and by that I mean the Medicine Show since there is no real Dr. Hook) has always intrigued me. And of course, the crazy hit (also penned by Shel Silverstein) The Cover Of  ‘Rolling Stone is absolutely hysterical! And it did land them on the cover.  Although only in caricature.

But back to our song, Silvia’s Mother.  I found two very humorous articles about the song. The first is from UnNews.

4 October 2008

Sylvia’s mother, Mrs. Avery, who famously prevented her daughter from continuing her relationship with eyepatch-wearing boyfriend Dr Hook, admitted yesterday to lying during the famous telephoneconversation.

For the first time in over 35 years, she came clean about the call that ended forever hopes of a reunion between Hook and Sylvia.

Yes, Sylvia’s mother lied. What a surprise.

The second is from Ultimate Classic Rock.  The article linked is an excerpt from Dear Mr. Pop Star, by English father-and-son team Derek and Dave Philpott.  This is a collection of Monty Python-like letters to artists and witty responses from a large number of targets. The book follows the project’s online success over the past 10 years.  It’s a “letter” written to Dr. Hook advising him what he should have done during the infamous phone call. The reply is written by Dr. Hook frontman Dennis Locorriere.  It’s quite entertaining. (Hint: Click the link above to read it…).

So that’s all I have for this entry.  Please enjoy the video, I have a feeling some folks may have never heard this track before.

Oh yeah, please leave your comments here if you can. Thanks!

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 27 September

Neil wrote this song about the caretaker that “came with” a ranch he bought in 1970. He tells the whole story on the video below. As he’s quoted in wiki page about the song;

About that time when I wrote (“Heart of Gold“), and I was touring, I had also—just, you know, being a rich hippie for the first time—I had purchased a ranch, and I still live there today. And there was a couple living on it that were the caretakers, an old gentleman named Louis Avila and his wife Clara. And there was this old blue Jeep there, and Louis took me for a ride in this blue Jeep. He gets me up there on the top side of the place, and there’s this lake up there that fed all the pastures, and he says, “Well, tell me, how does a young man like yourself have enough money to buy a place like this?” And I said, “Well, just lucky, Louis, just real lucky.” And he said, “Well, that’s the darnedest thing I ever heard.” And I wrote this song for him.

I’ve always enjoyed Neil’s work. Some time ago I read where (but don’t remember exactly where) he was voted as one of the top 10 guitarists. I wouldn’t go quite that far. He is very skilled in his playing, but not top 10, at least not in my opinion. You can make up your own mind about that. And we won’t get into his singing other to ask “Who told him he could sing”?

Mr. Young was elected to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (1982) and twice to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. First in 1995 for his solo work and again in 1997 as a member of Buffalo Springfield.

This song speaks to me in the way it tells the title character that even younger folks have a lot of the same wants and needs. Some things just don’t change over time.

What do you think of this song or Neil Young? Leave a comment!

Peace,
B

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