Summertime Blues

Summertime Blues

Summer Songs

We here in the northern hemisphere are in spring, and summer is not too far off so I thought it a good time to talk about some sunny songs. As often is the case there are many ‘summer’ songs that I have mentioned along the way in prior posts. Summer songs do not have to have the word summer in the title or even the lyrics; sometimes it’s just a tune that seems to go with the season.

The definition of a summer hit is a song released during the summer months, typically in June or early July that seems to coincide with summer activities and becomes widely (and sometimes globally) popular. There is such a thing as “the song of the summer”, where a tune will rise like the sun everyday and perhaps every hour and become either the most annoying or the most memorable. I’m not sure how songs these days get the ‘honour’ as there are so many sources to get your music from, so the Spotify song may not be the same as the Billboard tune nor the same as the one from Apple Play. There was a time when the majority of our music came from the good old fashioned radio, whether at home, in the car or when gathering with friends. It was much easier to get a consensus on a song, albeit if you are a Metalhead you may not care about “Fancy” from Iggy Azalea et al.

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April 19th (2022)

April 19th (2020)

Its my wife’s birthday today so I’ve given a couple updates to my post from two years ago. I’m going to write about some of the music through the years and add a few of her favorite songs that I hope others will enjoy as well. Before you decide to stop here, although I’m being self indulgent (and a bit personal), there’s some great songs to follow! I mentioned in ‘Classic Rock‘ the Led Zeppelin song “Fool in the Rain” being her favorite and the fact that she is not a huge music fan but supports my obsession. Having been dragged to more than one show that gets the “that was nice” response she has however seen live concerts of artists she likes such as; Elton John, Bon Jovi, David Bowie, Rod Stewart, and Jann Arden. She really enjoyed productions like, Les Misérables and Phantom of the Opera.Read More »

Radio, Radio

Radio, Radio

Where would popular music be without the Radio? “Radio Nowhere” that’s where. Okay, anytime I can work a Bruce Springsteen song into a sentence it’s a good day! Radio has always been a critical part of the world’s infrastructure and was the foundation of international communication. During emergencies, wartime or bad weather Radio has been there for us all. With a worldwide pandemic Radio has once again proven a vital link to keep us informed and entertained. Be it talk radio, news radio or any other type of programming, local radio in particular has never been more important than it is now. We rely on it to know what’s going on in our neighbourhoods, which stores are open, will it be sunny or cloudy or just to hear a friendly and familiar voice. I grew up listening to talk, sports (Go Knights!) and music radio quite a bit, I still do and it most definitely influenced my love of music a great deal.

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Healing Power of Music

Healing Power of Music

Whether a song can give you a little “pick me up” or make a tragic situation just a bit more bearable, many look to music in times of trouble. These days many people are concerned about the immediate future and some have been isolated, so turning to music is a good way to not only pass the time but improve your mood. For a personal crisis, a health concern or even in the face of imminent death there is solace in listening to your favorite music. I have quite a bit of personal experience with this so I will give just two examples you may be able to relate too. My mother while in palliative care enjoyed listening to music, albeit just for a song or two at a time, it would bring a smile to her face and mine as well, especially when she would gently let me know “that’s too loud”. Funny the little exchanges we remember at times like that. My brother in-law passed away more recently and we shared many a chat about music, being a musician and former DJ he’d slay me on music trivia. The last song I played for him was, “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor. My sister was trying to get her tablet to play some songs and was unsuccessful, the hospital wifi was not very strong and eventually I could only get that one tune to play on my phone, turns out it was his favorite song. I sincerely hope it brought him some peace in his final moments as it did to those around him. The day of his Celebration of Life my wife and I got into the car, I started it and “Fire and Rain” was playing on the radio. So yes, I believe in the healing power of music.

If you need to forget your troubles, destress yourself or just unwind from a tough day, music can be your best friend. Maybe you need to just cry it out and there are plenty of songs that will help you do that as well. I have read many stories and have seen hundreds of comments on YouTube videos about the positive effects of song. Recording artists are constantly being told how their music has changed their fans lives or gotten them through a rough patch. Maybe you have a “go to” song depending on your mood or perhaps it’s a new favorite. So if it’s Baroque, Beatles or Bieber to Yanni, Yes or Young Lyric that you enjoy it does not matter. What does is if you have a song, a playlist, album or even just a line or two that you can relate to. Maybe you are working on your own daily soundtrack or you have found one of the many lists out there already relating to this topic. Well, here are some songs and performances that perhaps are not on many ‘healing’ lists and a few that several of us have looked to for peace of mind, inspiration or at the very least a good distraction.

Hope and faith;

“Oh Happy Day” from the The Edwin Hawkins Singers  cover by Aretha Franklin and the amazing Mavis Staples (1987) with a somewhat different arrangement.
Kanye West with”Jesus Walks“, cover by NYU’s ‘Mass Transit’ “Kanye Medley

Love and Peace; 

K’naan, “Wavin’ Flag“, cover by ‘Young Artists For Haiti
All You Need is Love” The Beatles, cover by Elvis Costello
Brinsley Schwarz “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding“. covered by Elvis Costello

Uplifting songs;

Three Little Birds” from Bob Marley, covered by I-Three
Juice” by Lizzo, covered by Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox feat. Mario Jose

Dancing;

Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & The Waves, cover by The Dollyrots
Le Freak” by Chic, cover medley “Ain’t No Stoppin / Le Freak” by Wet Wet Wet
Mark Ronson “Uptown Funk” ft. Bruno Mars, this is the original melody “I Don’t Believe You Want to Get Up and Dance (Oops!)” by The Gap Band

Rock it out;

Blind Melon “No Rain” cover by Meiko
Sheryl Crow  “If It Makes You Happy“, cover by Scary Pockets feat. Rachael Price
Queen “Don’t Stop Me Now“, covered by The Vandals 

Sing it out;

Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” covered by Bad News
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” The Beatles, cover from No Doubt

Hold on to Love;

Like I’m Gonna Lose You” Meghan Trainor , ft. John Legend, cover Jasmine Thompson
Amy Winehouse “Valerie“, original by the Zutons
Happy” by Leona Lewis, cover by Gaby Borromeo

Git your Country on;

Brad Paisley  When I Get Where I’m Going ft. Dolly Parton cover by Justin Ryan
Girl” by Maren Morris covered by Maddie Wilson
Taylor Swift -“Everything Has Changed”  ft. Ed Sheeran, covered by Hannah Trigwell

Changes in life;

Carole King “So Far Away” cover by Rod Stewart
David Bowie “Changes” covered by The Muffs

Mellow out;

Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett, cover from Sammy Hagar
Astrud Gilberto With Stan Getz  “Girl From Ipanema“, covered by Diana Krall (Boy from Ipanema)

Happy Songs; there are likely thousands of songs that have the word happy or a derivative in the title or in the lyrics themselves. Not all are always on the positive side of the Happy equation but these ones are;

Happy” Pharrell Williams cover by Maroon 5
Don’t Worry be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin, covered by George Ezra
And from my own playlist the Boss, the Man, Bruce Springsteen from 1998 “Happy

Spotify Playlist; MMC Blog Healing Power of Music

References; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page, Secondhandsongs.com,
 https://spinditty.com/playlists/Pop-Rock-and-Country-Songs-About-God-Faith-and-Churchhttps://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/lyric-michellragston-29538.phphttps://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/brucespringsteen/happy.htmlhttps://rockpasta.com/10-happiest-rock-songs-ever/

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If you like my blog, please consider filling in the follow by email link at the top right hand of the page. Remember to confirm the subscription when you get the first email. Confidentiality is assured unless you are a close friend or family member then all bets are off. While I can compile data from my blog it’s not tracking in terms of any one’s identity. For past blog posts click on the menu at the top right corner. Pass it along to a friend who might enjoy it as well or post it to your timeline on FB. And many thanks as always for reading my blog!

Get the Message Songs

Get the Message Songs

Having had a household were I was outnumbered by three females to one male (me), I think for the most part “I got the message”. I am versed on at least the basics like “put the toilet seat down”, don’t ask how much she spent at the hair salon and yes of course one must get their nails done at least twice a month! My wife also has messages about Global Human Resource Strategies, (my since moved on) two daughters messages about; Linguistics and Advanced Geriatric Care respectively, these I understand much less. Apart from those and a few others I’ve picked up messages through songs, so I thought it might make for a good topic and if not… it’s been nice talking to you all every week 😉Read More »

Love Songs

Love Songs

Well it’s a bit obvious being Valentine’s Day why I choose this topic. Yet another area where I could blog exclusively and not put a dent in. The list of love songs can take on many forms and definitions; love of someone or something, love of the place of your birth, (for the country fans) the love of your pick-up truck or your dog…and many other sources.

There’s more than just a smattering of songs about love already in my blog such as Beautiful by Gordon Lightfoot, as it’s the most written about topic. Here are some songs that are popularly known as great ‘romantic’ love songs and I’ve tossed in a couple that you may not have heard, all leaning to the positive side, as opposed to angst and heartbreak. One of my favorites I just posted in the ‘Grammys’, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face“.

Something” written by George Harrison, recorded by the Beatles on ‘Abbey Road’ (1969). Covered at least 364 time according to Secondhandsongs.com
Elvis Presley (officially 1973 though there are earlier recordings)
Della Reese with an great rendition (1970). Frank Sinatra (1971).

“The Glory of Love” written by Billy Hill and first recorded by Willie Bryant in 1936, the next to do this song a couple months later was Benny Goodman who had a number one hit. As was the style back then a considerable instrumental lead into the vocals by Helen Ward. Covered over 120 times. My favorite cover is from the amazingly talented Dean Martin. A cover by Otis Redding, this man had soul. Bette Midler from the ‘Beaches’ soundtrack. And the writer of some of the worlds best love songs, Paul McCartney. Not to be confused with the similarly named “Glory of Love” performed by Peter Cetera (Chicago) and written by David Foster, Peter Cetera and Diane Nini.

“How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” written by the dynamic trio; Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, performed by Marvin Gaye (1964). Covered well over 100 times. A great jazz version by Leslie Uggams (1966) more familiar these days as ‘Blind Al‘ from the ‘Deadpool’ movies. Perhaps the best known version is by James Taylor (1975) with some great harmony from Carly Simon.

Love Story” written and performed by Taylor Swift (2008). Cover by Marcela Mangabeira (2010).

Endless Love” written by Lionel Richie and performed with Diana Ross (1981) is ranked as BillBoard’s top love song; it hit #1 across four different charts in the US, and number one in Canada, South Africa and Australia. Cover by Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey.

Words of Love” written and performed by Buddy Holly (1957). A future blog subject with a simple little tune. Covered by Jimmy Gilmer (1964). The Beatles (1964).

Because You Loved Me” performed by Celine Dion (1996)  and written by Diane Warren, another blog worthy artist that has had 32 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, nine of them number-one songs. I believe she has the record for most #1 songs recorded by different artists. Siti Nurhaliza.

“You Make Loving Fun” written by Christine McVie, another amazing songwriter, Fleetwood Mac (1977). Cyndi Lauper (1984) with a dance version.
Jewel (1998).

My Love” written by Paul and Linda McCartney (1973) Just a simple and beautiful song. Covered over 80 times. The legendary Tony Bennett (1973).

The Look of Love” performed by the “The Sound” a well deserved nickname for saxophonist Stan Getz. Written by Burt Bacharach as an instrumental, his oft colaborator Hal David added lyrics and produced this from Dusty Springfield (1967) . Covered close to 400 times. Diana Krall (2001). Shelby Lynn (2008), I own this album “Just a Little Lovin” a nice departure from her usual Country music style.

It’s Your Love” performed by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. Written by Stephony Smith a jingle writer turned country hit machine. This song was a huge smash in 1997 and won four awards at the Academy of Country Music Awards. A cover by ‘She Moves‘ (1998).

Sweet Lovin’ Baby” written and performed by Laura Nyro. Here is one I can guarantee most will not have heard, and it requires some intent listening because it’s not your average love song. Laura Nyro (Laura Nigro, October 18, 1947 – April 8, 1997) from the Bronx. She has written songs you may know; “Wedding Bell Blues” #1  (1969) and “Stoned Soul Picnic” #3 (1968) for the 5th Dimension, “And When I Die” (Nyro was just 17 when she wrote this and sold it to Peter, Paul and Mary for $5000) #1 in Canada, #2 in the US for ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’ (1969). “Eli’s Comin’” #10 (1969) ‘Three Dog Night’. “Stoney End” #2 in the US, #5 in Canada for Barbra Streisand (1970). “Sweet Blindness” another not your average love song. Her R&R Hall of Fame Induction.
Apart from Elton John once saying “I idolized her” the following are some of the artists that have acknowledged her influence on them; Elvis Costello, Rosanne Cash, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Alice Cooper, Cyndi Lauper, Steely Dan and Kate Bush. Todd Rundgren was quoted as saying, once I heard her “I stopped writing songs like the ‘Who’ and started writing like Laura”. ”

For my money this is one of the best love songs ever, followers will be not be surprised, sung by Elvis Presley.  “Love Me Tender” (1956) lyrics written by Ken Darby. Perhaps not the only song but the most famous to be based on the tune “Aura Lee” written by George Poulton and W.W. Fosdick (1861). Here is the first recording from the “Shelton Brothers” in 1938. Covered close to 400 times under both titles. Used in the 1936 movie “Come and Get It” sung by Frances Farmer.
Love Me Tender” from the lovely voice of Keely Smith.
A playlist of all the songs.

I think these songs are for everyone, whether you have a “Valentine” or not, Happy Valentines Day to all! … I’m lucky to have ‘my girls’ 💘.

References: https://secondhandsongs.com/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
https://www.billboard.com/articles/list/6792625/top-50-love-songs-of-all-time
http://dsoworks.com/all-posts/aura-lea-becametheme-variations/

If you like my blog, please consider filling in the follow by email link at the top right hand of the page. Remember to confirm the subscription when you get the first email. Confidentiality is assured unless you are a close friend or family member then all bets are off. While I can compile data from my blog it’s not tracking in terms of anyone’s identity. For past blog posts click on the menu at the top right corner. Pass it along to a friend who might enjoy it as well! And many thanks as always for reading my blog!

This Song inspired by …

This Song was inspired by …

Everyday I Write the Book“, the words to this song according to Elvis Costello were written in 10 minutes. So I might guess there was about zero inspiration and about the same ‘perspiration’ that went into this song which somewhat ironically parallels writing and romance. Many great song writers have similar experiences where a song just ‘came to them’ but for the most part I think songs have some traceable origin, some spark or idea that triggered the imagination of the songwriter(s).
If you check Wikipedia for “songs by source” there are hundreds of links, there’s one about real life events, it has 184 pages (songs) alone. As to how many songs were written with a particular person in mind that’s a more difficult number to arrive at as many songwriters don’t divulge their ‘source’. I suspect if we knew, that number would make the 184 pages look like your average shopping list compared to say the ‘Lord of  the Rings‘.  Songs also get triggered by other songs, this in particular shows up in the music composition rather than the lyrics themselves, however many times in both and as I’ve blogged previously, this sometimes also ends in lawsuits.
The need to know the origin of songs and their meaning is a great pastime for many and obsession for some. People have speculated on the muse for many songs, “You’re so Vain” written and performed by Carly Simon comes to mind, “who is she writing about?” and “is it really about Warren Beatty?” Also “American Pie” by Don McLean which might actually have books written about it, google “the meaning of American Pie” and you get 207 million results!
In 2015 Simon revealed that yes, at least parts of the song refer to Beatty, so much for that sort of non-mystery, McLean who sold the manuscript for 1.2 million thinks most of the speculation is just plain stupid. At the other end you have songs like “Brian Wilson” (1992) written by Steven Page and performed by ‘The Barenaked Ladies’ or once again Don McLean, being quite unambiguous this time with “Vincent” (1972).  For my first attempt at this I’ll wander a bit on the origins of a few songs and will revisit this topic as I could blog this alone and never even scratch the surface. Whatever the motivation is; a date, time, place, catharsis, heartbreak, rage, love, lust, hate, tragedy, tribute, autobiographical, intentional, inadvertent or a subconscious thought, these songs and others are either quite obviously or maybe even just passively connected to one source or another. Analyzing the lyrics certainly gives the most tangible ‘food for thought’ when it comes to pondering most songs.

This example provides a bit of a segue into the topic, “The Jean Genie” written and performed by David Bowie (1972) was musically influenced by this song “La fille du père Noël” by Jacques Dutronc (1966). The name possibly from French writer Jean Genet,  and the lyrics contain obtuse references to the life of singer Vince Taylor (who wrote the song he’s singing in the clip). So influences do not have to be singular.

True” by Spandau Ballet was apparently inspired by a crush Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp had on ‘Altered Images’ singer and ‘Gregory’s Girl’ star Clare Grogan. Here is a cover by Will.I.Am & Fergie from the movie “50 First Dates” soundtrack.

Girl From The North Country” written by Bob Dylan was partly based on “Scarborough Fair” written by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.

LCD Soundsystem’s “All I Want” is a tribute to Bowie’s ‘Heroes‘ album/song with some reminiscences of John Cale.

LCD Soundsystem

Our House” written by Graham Nash (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) about a moment in time during his relationship with Joni Mitchell.

Candle in the Wind” written by Elton John with lyrics by Bernie Taupin. Most will know this 1973 song was about Marilyn Monroe, and was re-written in 1997 as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, Candle in the Wind (Goodbye England’s Rose).

I Don’t Like Mondays” written by Bob Geldof and performed by the Boomtown Rats, written about the 1979 San Diego school shooting by sixteen year old Barbara Ann Spencer.

Maybe I’m Amazed” written by Paul McCartney about his wife Linda. One of McCartneys finest love songs which means by default; it’s one of the best songs ever written.

Back in the U.S.S.R.” written by Paul McCartney and performed by the Beatles (1968) from the “White Album”. With influences from Chuck Berry’s “Back in USA“, the Beach Boys sound and the original concept from the I’m Backing Britain patriotic campaign, somehow McCartney comes up with a tribute to the women in the Soviet Union.

Someone like You” written by Adele Adkins and Dan Wilson is based on Adele’s first serious relationship break-up and his subsequent marriage to someone else. BTW I just listened to “Rolling in the Deep” check out the view count, approaching 1.5 billion omg, then someone noticed my blog was slightly smaller than a speck!

The Edge Of Glory” written by Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga), Fernando Garibay and Paul Blair. The original inspiration for this song came from the death of Lady Gaga’s grandfather, apparently she felt the look on her grandmothers face was a reflection of a of glorious and well lived life. While as with many songs the origins may not always be played out in the song, it is interesting to see the thought process at work. Of note Clarence Clemons was flown in at the last minute to record a late night and early morning saxophone session. A great country cover from Amanda Hagel.

A playlist of all the videos.

References: https://secondhandsongs.com/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page, https://pitchfork.com/reviews/tracks/11881-lcd-soundsystem-all-i-want/
http://www.lifebuzz.com/song-inspirations/4/

If you like my blog, please consider filling in the follow by email link at the top right hand of the page. Remember to confirm the subscription when you get the first email. Confidentiality is assured unless you are a close friend or family member then all bets are off. While I can compile data from my blog it’s not tracking in terms of anyone’s identity. For past blog posts click on the menu at the top right corner. Pass it along to a friend who might enjoy it as well! And many thanks as always for reading my blog!

California

California

It is unimaginable what some of the people of California are suffering right now. In a part of the world known for its natural beauty, nature and mankind have delivered a tragic blow. I’d like to dedicate this blog edition to the people of California, those who have lost and are suffering and those who are no doubt deeply affected by these terrible fires. My family and I have some close friends in California and thankfully they have not been directly impacted.

There are thousands of songs that sing the virtues (and a few the opposite) of the state of California, its cities, towns and landmarks. There are hundreds of different songs each named just “California” alone. Likewise many an artist has come from California or honed their craft there in its rich music scene. In no particular order here are some songs (many sung and or written by residents of California) that to me are representative of the people and places from the Golden State.

I Left My Heart in San Francisco”, written by George Cory, Jr. and Douglass Cross. First performed by Claramae Turner in 1954. The first released recording is by Tony Bennett in 1962 which became his signature song. Covered over 175 times since then, and a quintessential California song. Another great version is by the amazing Sarah Vaughan (1967)

 “California BlueRoy Orbison (1988) written by Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty. A lovely song about missing California from that legendary voice.
California” by Phantom Planet (2002) written by B.G. DeSylva, Alex Greenwald, Joseph Meyer, Jason Schwartzman, Al Jolson. (a bit of a story on song credits, short version…words used from”California Here I Come”).
California Sun” written by Henry Glover and Morris Levy. Originally recorded in 1961 by Joe Jones, but popularized by The Rivieras (1963) where it spent 10 weeks at #5 in 1964. A great cover by The Ramones (1977). A little sexist in today’s context but a lighthearted song about the California beach scene in the 1960’s.

California” by Frank Sinatra (1963) written for Sinatra by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen. A not so well known song from Frank that is a clear tribute to his state of residence for many years.

California Girls” as we can’t go without mention of The Beach Boys. Written by Mike Love and Brian Wilson (1965).

” California Dreamin’ ” written by Michelle and John Phillips, performed by the Mamas and the Papas (first release in December 1965). The song was first recorded by Barry McGuire earlier in 1965 but his version was held back until January of 1966 (might that it should have been a bit longer as there’s a reason you’ve never heard of this version 😉 Covered close to 200 times.

California” written and performed by Joni Mitchell (1971). This is an ode to her state of residence as she has had a home for a long time in Bel Air, West Los Angeles.

Here is a great song to finish, the State Anthem “I Love You, California“.
Performed by Rick Pickren (2013), written in 1913 by Francis Beatty Silverwood, music composed by Abraham Franklin Frankenstein.

A link to the Red Cross to donate to help those affected by the forest fires.

References: https://secondhandsongs.com/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page.