Carole King

Carole King

 

 
Carole King (born Carol Joan Klein, February 9, 1942) in Manhattan is now 76 years old. At the age of four her mother (a piano player) and father noticed she had absolute pitch. What was known to me and others I’d imagine as ‘perfect pitch’ it means among other things that little Carol could name any note she heard, her formal music lessons began shortly thereafter. Her genius had her accelerated through school and she attended Queens College at The University of New York at age 17. She had changed her name in High School, a common practice among Jewish people to try to avoid Antisemitism .
Also at age 17 Carole met Gerry Goffin, got pregnant and then married. Initially after quitting college to raise their daughter Louise they worked day jobs and started writing songs at night, Gerry wrote lyrics, Carole the music. The two of them would form one of the most formidable writing duos of the 1960’s and part of the legend of the Brill Building in New York City.

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John Denver

John Denver

Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. December 31, 1943-October 12, 1997. Most will know of the tragic passing of John Denver at the age of 53. Denver was an experienced pilot but according to the investigation a poorly designed fuel switch in his experimental plane caused him to turn around in the cockpit and he lost control. His plane crashed into Monterey Bay near Pacific Grove, California.
Apart from being a gifted singer he played a very decent acoustic guitar and wrote some of the most memorable songs of the 1970’s. Known for is concern for ecology, his photography and his humanitarian works he also made inroads in international relations being one of the first U.S. artists to be welcome into post cold war U.S.S.R. as well as touring mainland China.

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Simon and Garfunkel

Simon and Garfunkel
The pair were very close friends in high school and actually had a bit of a hit song in 1957 but their career didn’t really go anywhere at that point. Not ones to quit on music they persevered and eventually got a contract with Columbia Records in 1963 and produced the Album “Wednesday Morning 3 a.m.”.  Recorded in March 1964, the album was released on October 19. The music did not sell enough to convince Columbia Records to keep Simon and Garfunkel, so they went their separate ways. Still working in the industry, the duo split up but stayed in touch. As there are few businesses stranger than the world of recorded music, fate would have other plans.

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Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash

 

John R. Cash (born J. R. Cash; February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003)
It’s difficult to talk about someone like Johnny Cash and not repeat what many have already read, heard or seen. So please forgive some of my personal stories as it relates to Johnny Cash. I never had the opportunity to see the man himself play live, though I’ve heard his music for most of my life. My father was a fan, so it was not unusual to hear his records, or my Dad pluck one of his songs on his steel guitar or on an old organ we had for awhile. And unfortunately for me, the gene pool of talent for playing an instrument ran out after my two older brothers, leaving me to finally give up after several failed attempts.

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Shania Twain

Shania Twain

Born; Eilleen Regina Edwards, August 28, 1965 (age 52), Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Most of you will know a bit of her story I’m sure, she grew up and in Timmins, Ontario and from an early age worked very hard at her singing, guitar and songwriting. She was not an overnight success but when it came it has put her into a class with very few others. Given the title of “Queen of Country Pop” because we seem to really like to label people, she has had over 100 million in record sales making her second only to Taylor Swift for a female in the Country genre and who knows, had she come on the scene when social media and streaming were popular how much better she would have done.
She is the 25th best selling artist of all time (US sales) so trying to pin down what to talk about is difficult and she’s had so many #1 hits; 13 in Canada, 7 in the US and one of the most successful crossover (Country) artists showing up on the pop charts in Canada, US and around the world. Not to mention all the songs that made into the top ten or top 40 charts as well. She was back at it again in 2017 with another #1 hit.
No One Needs to Know Right Now” written by Shaina Twain and Mutt Lange released on the The Woman in Me album in 1996. Charted #1 in Canada and the US. Not widely covered but hey its my favorite ST song!
Crystal Bowersox from American Idol 9 Top 6, Brandon Ray an up and coming Country singer, Niamh McGlinchey, a lovely young singer from County Londonderry in Northern Ireland.
You’re Still the One” written by Shania Twain and Mutt Lange, released on the Album ‘Come on Over’ in 1997, was nominated for four Grammy Awards in 1999, winning two. It won Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance and lost Record of the Year and Song of the Year to fellow Canadian, Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”. Covered over 20 times including 7 instrumental versions.
A nice jazz version from Austria, Simone Kopmajer
It was also ranked number 46 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the ’90s. Harry Styles performed a cover of Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One” alongside Kacey Musgraves during a recent concert at Madison Square Garden.
From This Moment On” written by Shania Twain and Mutt Lange released in 1997. #1 in Canada #2 in Australia. Covered more than 20 times to date. Not the smash hit like many of her other songs but a very lovely tune for sure.
This song lends itself very nicely to a duet and was originally recorded with Bryan White, an American Country singer, however White was unable to tour with Shania due to scheduling conflicts so she re-recorded the song. Most of the covers of this song are done as duets.
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References;

Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell

Born Roberta Joan Anderson, November 7, 1943 (age 74) Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada
I have included some covers of Joni’s songs in previous posts but there is more to be said about her amazing talent and song writing ability. Firstly, her guitar playing is superb and what makes it all the more remarkable is the fact she had polio as a child (age 9) and as a result has weakness in her left hand in particular. Despite this she learned ukulele, piano and then guitar creating her own tunings to compensate, resulting in a very unique sound. While standard tunings (determining the string pitch) were then commonly used, Joni turned to open tunings which reduced the dependency on her left hand. If you research guitar tunings Joni Mitchell comes up frequently and remains a guide and influencer in this area. Rolling Stone ranks her at #75 of the world’s best guitarists and she (along with fellow Canadians Sue Foley and Liona Boyd) ranks in the top female guitarists on just about any other authoritative list you can find.

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Paul Anka

Paul Anka



Paul Anka has written and recorded some monster songs. A total of 52 of his songs have been covered. He wrote the theme song for Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show”, there is a link at the end to the story about it. He wrote the English words to “Comme d’habitude” (written by Claude François, Jacques Revaux, Gilles Thibault) sung by Claude François (1967), titled “My Way” for Frank Sinatra, recorded in 1968. This song of course you may know went on to be his (Sinatra’s) signature song. Paul himself would record “My Way” in 1969 one of 75 versions of the song.
Paul Anka wrote and recorded the chauvinistic yet catchy tune “She’s a Lady” in 1969, Tom Jones would have a smash #1 hit with this song in 1971. This song has been covered 30 times, including a re-written version by Anka cutting out some of the more chauvinistic lyrics.
Paul Anka, the original version, the big hit was from Tom Jones
Paul’s first big hit that reached number one or two on charts around the world was “Diana” written and recorded by Anka in 1957. Covered 70 times.
Conway Twitty, who could sing just about anything in 1961
Recorded by Bobby Vee, Bobby Rydell , Frankie Avalon and The Pete Best Band. If you’re Australian and likely from New Zealand as well you will remember the version by Ol’ 55 (1975)
Also recorded in German, Finnish, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and French.  Here is a Portuguese version by Carlos Gonzaga
He would follow that up with another number one hit “Lonely Boy” in 1958, covered (18 times) most notably in 1964 by Freddie and the Dreamers (I’m Telling You Now).
Put Your Head on My Shoulder” released in 1959 a number two hit on the Hot 100 , reaching near the top of the Charts in many countries. The Beach Boys’ “Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulders) clearly took inspiration from this song in my opinion.  BTW how does one put their head on both someone’s shoulders? Covered 49 times.
Paul Anka from the Ed Sullivan show in 1959. Fellow Canadian Michael Bublé in 2003, Rex Gildo in German (1959)
Some Kind of Friend”, recorded in 1972 written by Paul Anka. It was also recorded by the Gospel Group the Edwin Hawkins Singers (1973) of “Oh Happy Day” fame (1967) they would also record “Jubilation” written by Anka. I include these to show the breadth of Paul Anka’s talent.
(You’re) Having My Baby” (1973) by Paul Anka was another smash number one hit and that is all I have to say apart from it being covered mercifully only 6 times. He is an amazing talent, composer, writer, bona fide Teen idol, vocalist and another living musical legend. 
References, Wikipedia,  https://secondhandsongs.com/, http://www.megalyrics.net/paul-anka/some-kind-of-friend, https://www.youtube.com/ image from: https://tidal.com/browse/album/76282078

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 or post it to your timeline on FB or other social media. And many thanks as always for reading my blog!

Gordon Lightfoot

Gordon Lightfoot

It does not surprise me that this song has been covered 85 times, a finer piece of music mastery you’ll rarely find. Few artists have had the international reach that Lightfoot has obtained.
Early Morning Rainwritten by Gordon Lightfoot, recorded December 1964, released in 1966 on “Lightfoot”.
Pavel Bobek from the Czech Republic. Here is an out take version from some guy named Elvis.
And if you like Bluegrass here are New Shades of Bluegrassfrom 1980
As he had a job as a songwriter before he had much success as a singer many may have thought he covered Peter, Paul and Mary (1965). Other notable versions are; Bob Dylan (1970), Paul Weller (2004), very few female artists did this one but Judy Collins did in 1965 and Julie Felix (1969).
If You Could Read MyMind” written by Gordon Lightfoot and recorded in 1969 is for me the quintessential Lightfoot song, there are 122 versions of this song. Ok this one surprised me! Viola Wills from 1980 with a Disco version!
Johnny Cash, fellow Canadians; Diana Krall feat. Sarah McLachlan (2015) Wow! And most recently a young Bailey Pelkman in 2017.
Other versions feature a who’s who of music; Barbra Streisand, Glen Campbell, Andy Williams, Jeannie C. Riley, Liza Minnelli, Don Williams and Neil Young.
So, this next song puzzles me a bit, as it’s only been covered 8 times. Beautiful” written by Gordon Lightfoot and recorded in 1972.  So “Beautiful” written by Linda Perry (Christina Aguilera song) is about something else altogether and a lovely and meaningful song in its own right. However, the James Blunt song “You’re Beautiful” is apparently a popular wedding song, which is odd, clearly not too many people pay attention to lyrics cause it’s a little stalkerish and he professes his love for someone he hasn’t met or will never see again, but hey what’s not romantic about that? If you want a wedding or anniversary song look no further than this. Here is a nice rendition from Glenn Willow
Sundown” written by Gordon Lightfoot and released on the album “Gordon Lightfoot” in 1974. It peaked at #1 in Canada and the U.S. in June of 1974 and would be his only US number one hit song. There has been much said about this song and Gord himself has made comments about its meaning over the years. You can listen and decide for yourself what the song is about. I think it’s highly likely it relates in some way to Cathy Smith, his (at that time) sometime girlfriend and for that matter the girlfriend of many musicians (The Band) and other celebrities. She would later find the height of her notoriety when sentenced to prison for injecting John Belushi with an overdose of drugs in 1982. But I digress.
The song clearly resonated with a lot of people and while none of his songs enjoyed the chart success of this one he has made a very good living I suspect and he is still playing today. He himself has been through a lot of heartbreak and health problems. A true musical living legend. 
Recorded in November of 1973, this song has since been covered 22 times.
Toby Keith covered it on the album Bullets in the Gun 2010. This is a live performance. Not an official cover but here is Eric Church in concert March 2017. L’amour c’est commel’été by Nana Mouskouri, 1974. Elwood in 2000 if you are in the mood for something different!

Blackie And The Rodeo Kings with “Summer Side Of Life” from the  album ‘Beautiful, A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot’ 2003 on Borealis Records.


Sources, Wikipedia, Secondhandsongs.com, BillBoard.com, Songfacts.com, YouTube, http://www.lyricsfreak.com/
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 or post it to your timeline on FB or other social media. And many thanks as always for reading my blog!

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen

What can one say about the late and great Leonard Cohen that hasn’t already been said. If you didn’t know who Cohen was and you are under the age of 30, someone need only say “Hallelujah” (250 cover versions) and the Shrek movie (a much-sanitized version of the song) takes over from there. If ever there was a song that’s been co-opted, then this one in my mind comes first. Although Cohen himself has changed up the lyrics when performing the song and has written many different verses.

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