Raised on the Radio

Because growing up on 70s television didn't kill me. It just made me who I am today.


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Cozy Up With Your Classic Christmas Standards Playlist!

christmas classic songs playlist

 

Every year you think you want it – something new. You are so sure that you start messing with your iPod, maybe playing with your Pandora or buying a few of those “Target special purchase” CD’s.

But then you realize; it just doesn’t matter. Some songs were done right that one time. You can listen to Martina McBride singing The Christmas Song, but you know it should have been Nat King Cole. Or how about Brad Paisley doing Winter Wonderland, no… not that, that should be Ella.

No matter what your confused, Christmas muddled brain is saying to you, some Christmas songs are meant to be heard this one way, they are classics for a reason. We get all warm and fuzzy remembering them from our childhood being sung just the way we want to hear them today.

 

A Holly Jolly Christmas – The Best Christmas Playlist Ever – The Versions You Remember

The first link takes you to YouTube or you can pop down to the bottom to click and hear the whole playlist. As always *the second link will take you to iTunes so you can own these songs yourself.

Silver Bells – Bing Crosby and Ella Fitzgerald 
*Silver Bells – Silver Bells: Christmas Classics

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Andy Williams
*It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – The Andy Williams Christmas Album

Here Comes Santa Claus – Gene Autry
*Here Comes Santa Claus – Gene Autry

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives
*A Holly Jolly Christmas – Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole
*The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You) – The Christmas Song

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Ella Fitzgerald
*Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas – Perry Como and The Fontaine Sisters
*It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – Greatest Christmas Songs (Remastered)

I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Dean Martin
*I’ll Be Home for Christmas – The Dean Martin Christmas Album

The First Noel – Frank Sinatra
*The First Noël – A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra

Carol of the Bells – The Robert Shaw Choir
*Carol of the Bells – A Festival of Carols

We Need A Little Christmas – Percy Faith
*We Need a Little Christmas – A Very Percy Faith Christmas: The Christmas Song, Little Drummer Boy, And More Holiday Favorites

The Christmas Waltz – Frank Sinatra
*The Christmas Waltz – Christmas With Sinatra and Friends

Caroling, Caroling – Nat King Cole
*Caroling, Caroling – The Christmas Song

Happy Holidays! – Andy Williams
*Happy Holiday / The Holiday Season – The Andy Williams Christmas Album

Home For the Holidays – The Carpenters
*(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays – Christmas Portrait (The Special Edition)

Winter Wonderland – Ella Fitzgerald
*Winter Wonderland – Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas

 

Here are all of the songs on a YouTube playlist. And don’t forget to subscribe up there to get all of our latest posts! No spam EVER!

 


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Gordon Lightfoot

 

I’ve been listening to Gordon Lightfoot for 44 of my 44 years. It’s a gimme, isn’t it? If you were alive in the 70’s, you listened to Gordo.

That doesn’t mean I knew the ins and outs of the man. Actually…..I heard from a reliable source that his life took some serious wrong turns, and there may have been some unfortunate drinking involved. It was the 70’s, why am I surprised?

For most of us, it’s easy to brush Gordon Lightfoot off as some musician with a ton of songs on the Easy Listening radio station. Oh wait, I like that station. Okay, some guy who makes the easy listening station easier to listen to.

How many times have you heard Sundown, or If You Could Read My Mind on Lite FM?  I admit to being stuck in the land of 70’s pop music. Heck, I’m a child of 70’s radio, and frankly, feel lucky to have been so.

I often credit Gordon Lightfoot with my inspiration to be a writer.

Just like a paperback novel. The kind that drugstores sell.
-If You Could Read My Mind

But if you leave your knowledge of Gordon Lightfoot there. You would be missing so much. I was missing it too. It took my 8yo’s obsession with The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and then later The Canadian Railway Trilogy, for me to see it.

I Bet You Didn’t Know

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Gordon Lightfoot has a lot to be flattered about. In 1964 he wrote “The Early Morning Rain”, and because he was a nobody, he wasn’t even the first to record it. A couple of friends who “discovered” him offered to record his song on their album. It was a good move. For both of them.

He did record the song in 1966… and after that 74 other bands and artists recorded it too. Not the least of which were Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte, Judy Collins, The Grateful Dead, George Hamilton IV (who took it to #9 on the country charts), Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Peter Paul and Mary (the most well-known pop version).

At 13-years-old Gordon Lightfoot was already making a name for himself, he loved to sing and his parents encouraged him to do so. Between the ages of 13-17 he won multiple awards for singing. That recognition helped him find his path so he attended West Lake College of Music in Los Angeles. This decision would prove to be invaluable to him.

The 60’s started a fire in Gordon, by 1964 he had already written 75 songs. However, he felt none of them really had a “sound” he could call his own. And then – he met Bob Dylan. Through Dylan, and many friends that came along with that sound, he found his sound and that sound would take him all over the world.

Bob Dylan had something to say about Gordon Lightfoot as well. In an article written when Dylan inducted Gordon Lightfoot into the Canadian hall of fame he said, “He (Lightfoot) became a mentor (of Dylan’s) for a long time. I think he probably still is to this day.” Obviously the feeling was mutual. And from an article in The Huffington Post:

BF: Who are some of your favorite songwriters?

BD: Buffett I guess. Lightfoot. Warren Zevon. Randy. John Prine. Guy Clark. Those kinds of writers.

BF: You and Lightfoot go way back.

BD: Oh yeah. Gordo’s been around as long as me.

BF: What are your favorite songs of his?

BD: “Shadows,” “Sundown,” “If You Could Read My Mind.” I can’t think of any I don’t like.

Bob Dylan often covered the song “Shadows” when playing live.

As I sat down to write this, I began listening to some Gordon Lightfoot songs I have very little memory of hearing, it could be I never heard them. I was inspired to track them down when I happened upon a list of all of his songs that have been covered by other artists. This one piqued my interest – after all it was covered by Eric Clapton. I found Clapton’s version of it on YouTube, and frankly, I wasn’t impressed. But that irked me, there had to be a reason that Eric Clapton would want to play that song. Right? There was. The problem is, you cannot improve upon perfection.

The 1970’s would be when Gordon Lightfoot would truly see fame. Finally being recognized by listeners outside of the folk music scene, yet continuing to create using his own unique sound, his songs began to top the charts. Being a child of the 70’s, it was only natural that my experience with Gordon Lightfoot would be: If You Could Read My Mind, Sundown and of course The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. But being a lover of music, that is never enough. When a songwriter sings and plays with so much raw emotion I naturally want to know, what more?

Exploring Gordon Lightfoot was something I did many years ago, to connect with my father, who was very influenced by folk music. And now again I am finding it as a way to connect with my son, to expand his knowledge of music, as I capitalize on his fascination with The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald*. Every minute is a learning moment with music. With Gordon, it could be a lifetime.

I will not leave you without Sundown:

Some trivia:

Aside from his success in writing, singing and performing his own songs, Lightfoot has found fortune in having his songs recorded and performed by other great artists including:  Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Jr., Marty Robbins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Judy Collins, Johnny Mathis, Anne Murray, Olivia Newton-John, Sarah McLachlan, Barbra Streisand, Peter Paul & Mary, Harry Belafonte, Jane’s Addiction, Richie Havens, Glen Campbell, Toby Keith, George Hamilton IV and Eric Clapton.

In June of 2012 Lightfoot’s legacy was further enhanced when he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.  Lightfoot was honored for his role in defining the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and ’70s.  There are fewer than 400 inductees who make up the impressive roster enshrined in the Songwriters Hall of Fame including Barry Mann, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Hal David and Burt Bacharach, John Fogerty, Bob Dylan, Isaac Hayes, Carole King, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Sir Elton John, Bernie Taupin, Brian Wilson, James Taylor, James Brown, Bruce Springsteen, Jim Croce, Phil Collins, Loretta Lynn, Jimmy Webb, Van Morrison, Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, Diane Warren, Garth Brooks, Leon Russell and Leonard Cohen.

* Shameless plug alert. This is a YouTube video of my son singing every single word of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald 3 years ago. He still sings that song almost everyday.

Gordon Lightfoot Graphic.png


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Blood Sweat and Tears

How will you be remembered? Will you be the guy who fought for a cause? Or will you be a guy who had an amazing idea for a band, a band that would turn into a pop sensation?!

What if you don’t want your band to be a pop sensation? You dig your heals in the sand. Will it become one anyway?

It’s happened before, it will happen again, just ask the founding members of Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Blood, Sweat & Tears began as a jazz-fusion-rock band that incorporated horns with a rock n’ roll sound. They were it. New York loved them. But as important as the sound was, they put a lot of effort into the message they were sending. War was bad, the man was bad, they were making a statement. They made that statement so well and their music was so new and exciting that they were one of many amazing musicians picked to headline at Woodstock. Blood Sweat & Tears were part of a movement of musicians that would inspire a generation to Fight the Man! For a little while.

However, only one year in, the band had split with its “leader” Al Kooper. Al was the backbone of their “underground” connection – which in retrospect would turn out to be so much more than an underground. It was his finger on the pulse of the counter-culture. Without him, the beat lived on, but the fever of the cause was gone. So although their appearance at Woodstock was already without Kooper, their ties with the counter-culture phenomena that drove their fans, were now tenuous.

This reformation of sorts began what would be the band’s own spinning wheel. Arguments about the path their band should take, questionable personal choices and the desire to try new things would be the start of more personnel changes than I could list. Arguably the most important, was the selection of a new Lead Singer, David Clayton-Thomas. Bobby Colomby and Steve Katz, two of the original members, found Clayton-Thomas thanks to their good friend Judy Collins who had heard him sing in a small bar in New York. Lucky for them she did, because Clayton-Thomas would become the “voice” of Blood, Sweat & Tears to those of us being raised on the radio of the 70’s.

In late 1968, with David Clayton-Thomas as the frontman, they released their second album. The self-titled Earth, Wind & Fire would go multi-platinum with a performance very different from their first album, but the people loved it. The album won the Grammy for Album of the Year, beating out The Beatles Abbey Road.

 

blood sweat & tears second album

This album included the songs that I, and many, remember as part of the Soundtrack of our personal Seventies. Spinning Wheel, You’ve Made Me So Very Happy, And When I Die, Hi-De-Ho, and Lucretia MacEvil (which was the worst chart performer of that album, never breaking #29. No other BS&T would ever do better.)

As 1969 became part of the past, BS&T apparently made a critical error in judgement; in exchange for an expedited visa for Clayton-Thomas, who was a Canadian citizen, they agreed to play as part of a U.S. State Department sponsored tour of Eastern Europe in May/June 1970. At this volatile time in our history any voluntary association with the government was highly unpopular and the band definitely felt the repercussions of that decision. Obviously they could not disclose the reason they agreed to play.

I would say this was the beginning of the end for them, because after that tour they did not have another highly successful album or single. But as anyone who has grown up in the 70’s and 80’s knows, Blood Sweat & Tears is part of our favorite music memories and our most listened to mixes. Bobby Colomby knew that the same music that won multiple Grammy’s became part of our culture. Not the counter-culture they had thought, but a much bigger culture of the infectious music that would tie us together. Bobby somewhat prophetically understood that BS&T’s fans would not let their music die, it was just too good. And so, he basically created a Blood, Sweat & Tears franchise. Much like the bands of Duke Ellington and Glen Miller, long after those amazing men were gone, their names lived on through Big Bands playing their hits, their styles as The Glen Miller Band and The Duke Ellington Band. He said on the official Blood Sweat and Tears website “The obligation of a band is to be entertaining, and be mindful that the audience is there to hear your hits. And for many years, the Blood, Sweat & Tears brand has provided enjoyable evenings. We were trying to make sure that people walked out of our concerts feeling they’d just heard a great show. And the feedback we’ve gotten confirmed that’s been the case.”

A little part of me wants to shiver when I hear a band being referred to as a Brand or a Franchise, another part of me says, bring it on, I’ll buy the tickets! A chance to hear a band composed of some of the best musicians in the business, play some of my favorite songs? Bobby Colmby was prophetic alright.

WHAT (1)

 

 


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There Must Be Some Misunderstanding – How a Missing Genesis Album was Eclipsed by Van Halen

guest dj 200 dark

This week’s Raised on the Radio Guest Post, is by Doug Foster. Doug and I go waaaay back and I am thrilled to have him on Raised on the Radio.

Please click this link to read this post about love and loss and Van Halen,  There Must Be Some Misunderstanding

As much as I have loved having Raised on the Radio as it’s own site, we will now be moving back to where it all began. If you want to stay on top of all the newest posts from Raised on the Radio guests, regular contributors and me, please click over to My Skewed View and subscribe.


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A Letter to Carole King Concerning Tapestry

Dear Carole,

In 1971 you released an album called “Tapestry”.  This is an album in which you either wrote all the songs either by yourself, or with a little help from your friends, with the exception of “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman” and “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.”  I say this not to tell you something you already know, but to simply state facts since so many artists in today’s world have absolutely no idea how to write a decent song.  So sad, but so true!

I was in the midst of a great love with a young lady I imagined would be my mate the rest of my life when I heard the first single, “I Feel The Earth Move”.  Indeed, she did make the Earth move under my feet, and everything else for that matter.  I’d lost my mother when I was only thirteen, and she had become the sole female in my life.  We’d walk together, hand in hand, through all of life’s trials and tribulations regardless of the odds.  And, you were there with us.

(“I Feel The Earth Move”)

How fragile young love is.  It wasn’t long before your second single, “It’s Too Late” was telling our story.  I know, your were telling the story from your own experiences and from a female point of view, but believe me, your words never fit a situation better.  She’d grown tired of walking the halls at high school alone and had found another.  Yes, she’d returned my engagement ring, only to ask for it the following week.  That was when I found it wasn’t I that she’d desired, but the status of wearing a diamond to high school.  I should have known better.

(“It’s Too Late”)

After her, I found another.  Yet, Vietnam was on the horizon reminding me how unsure the future could be.  I was having fun with my new partner, doing things that I’d never imagined doing, as she was an entirely different person than the first.  Much more daring and one to seek out the fun things life had to offer, I left the land of the narrow-minded and experienced my own “Smackwater Jack” person.  From concerts to going ice fishing (and accidentally toasting crickets along the way with the rear heater vent in the VW), she taught me that it wasn’t only material goods that brought a smile, but the small things that could be shared together in a very special moment.

(“Smackwater Jack”)

“Tapestry” continued to follow me in my life.  The military caught up with me and I couldn’t escape its  grasp.  After a trip home for leave, I’d started the eighteen hour drive back to the base in Virginia when “So Far Away” hit the radio.

Yes, we’d visited and shared not only some good times, but also our physical love for each other.  There were no promises made to be broken in the future.  We’d acted as how we’d expected adults to act.  It wasn’t the most loving goodbye, but it was sufficient, or so we’d thought.

(“So Far Away”)

Would you believe I turned the car around after listening to your song and drove an hour and a half back to do it all over again?  I did!  But this time, with love and affection.  I asked her to gather her things and go with me.  Of course, she didn’t as her college obligations and such kept her cemented to her surroundings.  But, at least your song made our goodbye one in which we knew we might have a chance to get back together in the future.

Your 8-track accompanied me in my journeys for many years, later becoming a cassette and then a cd.  Every song has a personal story that I could relate, but restrain myself for respect for your time.  I will say that “Home Again” was there when I returned to her and my home after the military, as well as “You’ve Got A Friend” every time I tried to cheer up someone over the years that needed a smile.

(“Home Again”)

I really don’t know if you knew how deep “Tapestry” would affect a person over the years when you released it.  I can only tell you that to this soon to be 60-year-old, it has created a musical bond between you and millions like me, whose lives have been much better places to be with “Tapestry” a part of them.

Now, you and I and millions of others are getting older by the second.  One by one, we tend to leave this Earth and head off into another existence … or, so we hope.  It’s been a long and interesting journey, and the next one promises nothing different.

I have to say “Thank You” for providing us with “Tapestry”.  It enlightened, nurtured, consoled, and entertained us for many a decade.

I’m just wondering, will “Home Again” be played as an encore when we reach our final destination?

With Love,

Rich

To Download Carole King Tapestry, click this link: Tapestry – Carole King

Having grown up during the 50′s & 60′s, Rich was a personal witness to the confusion of the times. His love of music drew him into the conflicts of the day as he protested many of the atrocities in civil rights and an overseas war. Ironically, military service, during the final days of the Vietnam Conflict, ended a music career in a successful band. However, his love of music held true as he later chose a career as a radio announcer over law school. Here, along with being able to play the music he cherished, he interviewed many top music acts. This allowed him to gain much knowledge of the recording industry and the psyche of music artists in rock, jazz and R&B. Later, his love of performing transformed him into a career in stand-up comedy. Twenty years later, his love for music continues. Quote: “Being born in 1954, Rock ‘N Roll and I have grown up together. I wouldn’t have had it any other way!”


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Thanks Dad, For Raising Me on The Radio

michelle liew.jpg

The site happens to have an apt title that resonates with me,because I was almost literally raised on the radio by parents who were, and still are, drawn to the music of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. The literal edge of being raised on the radio stems from the fact that Dad, Tony, is a lead guitarist in several bands and jams professionally at musical events and functions. I suppose piano lessons, including those in jazz and pop, also allow me to call myself a “radio baby.”

Being raised by a musician was quite akin to a ride on Disneyworld’s Space Mountain. I never quite knew what thrills or spills to expect.  I never knew where dad’s next gig would take us to or who we would end up meeting. It is the same today. One can describe being raised by him in any number of ways, but one thing it was certainly not-ordinary. Being his daughter meant encounters with a few of Singapore’s radio and musical personalities.

“Raised on the radio”, as far as I am concerned, equates with a little pressure. Dad used to, and always sets, high standards. It can be a challenge living up to his expectations, especially of musicianship. With that pressure came the opportunity to learn, grow and embrace the new, certainly different types of music.

Many thanks to Dad for raising me on the radio. I have put together a Raised By Dad’s Radio Mixtape of songs I was raised with! I hope you’ll enjoy this selection!

The Way You Look Tonight

Originally performed by the Fred Astaire cum Ginger Rogers pair and featured in the song Swing Time, The Way You Look Tonight won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1936. Written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, it has become a standard for swing.

The song certainly emotes, and has unsurprisingly spawned cover versions by Bing Crosby and the latest by Michael Buble. Let’s go a little retro and view the original, shall we?

Going Out of My Head/Cant Take My Eyes Off You

This hit medley for the Lettermen in 1968 showcases the soothing vocals of these fine singers with a little pomp.

With 16 Top Ten Singles including a number 1 on the Billboard Charts, the close-harmony group has scored 5 grammy nominations and 11 gold records. Eclectic harmonies ensure that their tunes cannot be done without.

Dindi

If one has discounted the medicinal of jazz, surely he has to listen to this. Written by Antonio Carlos Jobim for the Brazilian singer Sylvia Telles, nicknamed Dindi, who unfortunately met with a fatal motor accident in 1966.

Soothing and haunting, this is a good number to prompt a little romance or simply lull the senses into soothing sleep. I include a cover version of the song by none other than our favorite swing singer, Ol’ Blue Eyes.

Girl from Ipanema

Again by the musically illustrious Antonio Carlos Jobim, the sexy bossa nova charm of this piece makes it a to-die-for draw. The Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius De Morales give the song a mysterious, sensual edge that has not been lost till this day.

The version performed by Astrud Gilberto became a US hit in 1964, peaking at number 5 on the hot 100 and was at number one for two weeks on the Easy Listening chart.

I seem to have a little affinity with Frank, so include a version sung by him.

Just the way you are

When I interviewed my father viz his favorite song choices, I almost did a war whoop when he picked one of my eternal favorites, Just the Way You Are. What draws me to this Billy Joel number is its meaningful lyrics that stress unconditional acceptance in relationships with others.

From his 1977 album, The Stranger, the song was Joel’s first US Top 10, reaching number three on Billboard. It made a positive change for Joel’s career, giving it the long-lasting success that it has had.

Many thanks to dad for suggesting 5 great songs and to my friends at Raised on the Radio for allowing me to make a guest contribution this week! Do enjoy this playlist!

About the Author:

Michelle Liew is a literature cum ardent pet lover who simply loves music! Fiction and poetry make her tick! Read her wonderful blog Getting Literal


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Indie Artist William Steffey

Although we may be highly influenced by the music that came along before the digital age, the beauty of technology is how it has opened doors for Indie artists to record, produce and distribute their music without the 100s of thousands usually put up by a record company and promoters.

william steffey

William Steffey is one of those musicians so dedicated to his art that the creating and sharing is more important than the time and energy needed to deal with a producer and record company. He’s all those guys wrapped in to one and has been recording his own music for 25 years.

I recently had a chance to talk to him about his music and what makes him tic, to take a look inside.

JK: I’m really interested to know what created your passion for music?

WS: I had a rather stormy childhood, but was always able to find refuge from the elements in the grooves of vinyl 45’s in my parents’ basement. Paperback Writer, Day Tripper, Paint it Black, I Get Around, Kodachrome. Music was a magical world where I could escape and reflect. In my early teens I remember visiting Lake Geneva regularly with my mom and her boyfriend where I was introduced to the great songwriting of Chapin, Croce, and Lightfoot.

JK: How did that translate into you playing and recording your own music?

WS: I [began playing] all the ‘rock instruments’, which basically translates to guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, and vocals. I also have been producing since my father gave me a 4-track recorder when I was 12.

JK: Wow, that’s a lot of instruments! Do you have a favorite?

WS: My primary and favorite instrument is “the song”. All the instruments I play are just the tools used to compose and realize a solid track.

JK: It sounds like you had a really solid foundation in Rock and Folk Music.  Is there a musician or songwriter that influenced your sound more than any other?

WS: From a production standpoint, Thomas Dolby has probably influenced my sound more than anybody else. He’s known by his 80’s hit “She Blinded Me With Science”, which was somewhat of an anomaly in his catalog. The lion’s share of his other songs feature Introspective lyrics, interesting chord changes, and lush production. Guitar-wise I’m largely influenced by Johnny Marr who began his career with The Smiths.

JK: So now, with your varied musical influences, what is the genre with which you most identify?

WS: My songs fall somewhere in between new-wave, rock, and electronic with a tiny hint of jazz. I sometimes use the phrase “post-modern rock” to describe the pastiche of styles. Some of the groups that I find influential (e.g. Prefab Sprout, Roxy Music, The Smiths) have been labeled “sophisti-pop” and I think that works for me, too. The genres tend to move around a lot on my albums, and it’s only just in the past year that I’ve consciously been honing in on a more solidified sound. I recorded a song called “Scattering Platinum” and I liked the feel of it so much that I decided to make more songs using the same sound palette. I’ve been writing a few more tracks sticking to the exact same drum kit, effects, guitar tone, and keyboard patches. It makes for a kind of cohesion that comes naturally for bands that go in and record in a more traditional studio.

JK: Clearly your music is constantly evolving, where do you see it going next?

WS: I think my lyrics have always been honest, but they’ve also been incredibly cryptic. While I still have been writing with a decent amount of word play and metaphor, I am becoming more direct. I’m almost getting to a point where two listeners might come up with the same interpretation for the same song!

JK: (chuckle) That being said, who is your primary audience?

WS: Many of my songs are played online several hundred times a month… the song “Molly Molly” is consistently the most popular, but I have no way of telling who the audience is. I’m guessing much of my audience is comprised of people named Molly?

JK: Do you have a lot of interactions with Molly your listeners?

WS: Just enough to keep me going, and not enough to disrupt my routine at all. I occasionally get email from listeners, and just recently was recognized by a fan while I was out having coffee. He took a picture with me, and had me autograph one of my cds which he happened to have on his person. It is entirely possible that I was more excited than he was.

JK: How has the readily available digital download effected you?

WS: I like that my music is available online all over the world. It has allowed me to connect with people I never would have otherwise. Also, it costs me practically nothing to release an album, whereas manufacturing cds on a regular basis was getting pretty expensive. Also, I don’t have to worry about my catalog of songs getting lost.

JK: Is it possible for you to be a full-time musician?

WS: The fact that I don’t regularly play out makes full-time musicianship impossible. When I was younger I thought that fame was the end-all-be-all, but now I think I would just find it incredibly invasive. I don’t like being the center of attention, and I don’t enjoy the idea of being on the road constantly, either. I’m perfectly content with the amount of attention my music gets. I do freelance web design to make my way, and I enjoy it very much.

As much as we love our well-known artists here at Raised on the Radio, we recognize the amazing music that is being made by Indie artists who are playing for the love of music.

Since conducting this interview William Steffey’s song Belfast was nominated in Best Song’s of 2013 by DePaul Radio’s Atttagag Radio Show

Please take the time to check out William Steffey’s music:

WilliamSteffey.com

William Steffey on CD Baby

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Twitter

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I Thought Billy Joel and Billy Crystal Were the Same Person

I admit it, I watched a lot of TV as a kid in the 70’s. So much TV, that as a virtual latch-key kid, my sister and I often joked that TV was our mother. That same kid somehow managed to watch SOAP when no one was looking, which was basically always. Except on those rare occasions, when my dad would commandeer the television and we would get to watch SOAP without hiding out – if he forgot we were there.

In May of 1976 Billy Joel released the album Turnstiles. The first single (which means the song that they sent out to the radio stations) was New York State of Mind. That song meant a lot to us as a family because that album just happened to be released the same month my family moved from New York to Chicago. So whether it was my insistence, or my father’s love of music and all things New York, all we had to do was hear that song on the radio and that album was ours. This album is in my top ten albums of ALL TIME, so do yourself a favor and take the time to take a listen:

A few short months later, a new show hit the airwaves to an amazing amount of pre-protesting and talk of scandalous content. When the show aired, it actually warned the viewers that the content might not be suitable for all viewers, which was unheard of in the 70’s. However, the problem was the original line-up for Tuesday nights was Happy Days (I’m there), Laverne & Shirley (I am SO there) and Three’s Company (TV is my mother). Basically, I was already irrevocably glued to the TV by the time SOAP came along and although I can guarantee you I didn’t know what was going on, and some of it even seemed a little scary to me, enough of it was funny and weird that I was hooked.

Now here’s the rub. I spent most of my after school hours sitting next to the stereo, headphones on, staring at this album cover:

turnstiles

And then on Tuesday nights I sat glued, un-blinking to this guy:

photo credit: wikipedia

photo credit: wikipedia

You have to see my point. I’m almost 8-years-old, definitely too young to be watching SOAP, so the trauma (good and bad) forever etched the characters into my brain.

Back to the music – I could write a whole post on the genius that was Turnstiles. This album that could not reach the general pop culture because it was much to complex, it was more a jazz album with a pop bent. Each song was like a symphony. Each song IS a symphony, Billy Joel’s fingers move like the piano is just an extension of his arms. The complex arrangements of horns, the long solos… And if you have read my Steely Dan post you would know that the combination of amazing musicianship in the form of Jazz influence and pop is my sweet spot. And so, I would just listen to each song, so closely, memorizing each note and just stare at his picture, trying to imagine that guy making this amazing music. I knew (and still know) every word. But since I never actually got to see Billy Joel sing these songs, no MTV yet, and I did get to see Billy Crystal act every Tuesday night; that 8yo mind of mine did something I think was quite natural, it put two and two together and got one Billy. Because frankly the guy on the cover of that album looked a little mean, and the music was so amazing I thought he must really be a nice guy. I searched his face over and over for that. I found it in Billy Crystal.

So here’s the funny thing – that’s not where the similarities end. Billy Joel was born in The Bronx in 1949 and raised on Long Island. Billy Crystal was born in Manhattan in 1948 and raised in The Bronx. Both were born to Jewish immigrant families and both were raised under a very strong musical influence.

 

Billy Joel’s father was an accomplished classical pianist and his half-brother became an acclaimed classical conductor in Europe who is currently chief musical director of the Staatstheater Braunschweig. Billy Joel began supporting his mother while still in high school by playing piano at piano bars. His past was fairly checkered after that, but once he found his passion, well the rest is what musical theory classes are made of.

I am sure his past was the muse for this song:

Ironically Billy Joel and Billy Crystal still kind of look a like, which vindicates my 8-year-old brain

And… I’m not the only one who thinks so.

billy or billy

I highly recommend checking the album Billy Joel Turnstiles out. Click this link to go to iTunes:

Turnstiles – Billy Joel


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The Magical Mystery of Music

If there was no such thing as the magical mystery that is music, I wonder what humans would do to pass the time? If I couldn’t hum to myself or learn to produce tonal incantations from odd and diverse objects, then how would I express myself beyond the fragmentary thoughts that bind my mind and yet escape before I ever once catch them?

I am a child of the 70s. Technically I was conceived in the spring of ’69, which I’m told was a pretty darn good year. My mother used to tell of having morning sickness while watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. Now that’s a prenatal story if I’ve ever heard one.

And as a child of the wild and woolly 70s, I was epically, perhaps even defiantly, Raised on the Radio. My father came from the time of the Stones and the Beatles, and my mother loved Elvis. There was rock, country, rockabilly, Motown, blues, and everything in-between.

Home on Deranged Top of the World

One of my most vivid memories from when I was probably 3 or 4 was standing on the stool at my parents’ bathroom sink, my dad’s trusty transistor radio blaring in the early morning hours as he dressed for work, my mom still snoozing in bed. Karen Carpenter’s heart-achingly beautiful voice was telling me she was “On top of the world /looking down on creation /and the only explanation I can find /is the love that I’ve found /ever since you’ve been around /Your love’s put me on the top of the world.”

Do you know I can still sing along perfectly to that song? That’s how much I loved it, and that’s how much it moved me, even if I didn’t understand it, and even if I had no idea what was waging in the newspapers that very day.

I can remember John Denver (one of the first concerts my parents took me to), and Peter, Paul & Mary, as they told me about “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” and I knew that the song had a sad ending, even if I couldn’t tell you why. But then they would play “If I Had a Hammer,” and I would revive my hope for the world.

There was Johnny Cash, telling me about some kind of “Ring of Fire,” but why in the world would he walk it? Then Conway Twitty would step in, usually with Loretta Lynn, and remind me that true love won’t let any obstacle stand in the way.

My parents introduced me to Ray Charles and Mac Davis, Charlie Pride and Herb AlpertHome on Deranged Herb Alpert

(the lady with the shaving cream on the album cover was delightfully naughty to a 5 year old), along with Bill Cosby and his humor albums and Ricky Nelson, who I loved to watch on “Ozzie & Harriett.” Garden Party, anyone?

As for myself, I found Shaun Cassidy and the glory of “Da Doo Ron Ron,” because I just knew he invented that song. The first 45 I ever bought with my own money was Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes,” and nearly played it til the grooves wore off the thing.

There was Kenny Rogers, and I can still sing along to “The Gambler,” “Lady,” and “Ruby,” as the soldier begged, “Oh girl, don’t take your love to town/for God’s sake, turn around.” The Vietnam War echoed all around the land, even in music, because I’ve heard Marvin Gaye and Buffalo Springfield telling us all to ask what’s that sound.

Some of my best radio memories are trips to my grandparents’ house, where I would lie in the back seat (it was the 70s, people) and listen to the “oldies” station for the two hour drive. As the Four Tops and the Temptations and The Supremes told me all about love, Jim Croce, Carole King and James Taylor smoothed out the rough edges to lull me into sleep.

I saw “The Graduate” when I was probably younger than appropriate, but Simon & Garfunkel colored my world for years. Then the raw storytelling of Harry Chapin, Don McLean and Marty Robbins…stories that you don’t really hear anymore.

Sure, I’m an 80s baby, too. I love me some Duran Duran and U2, Bon Jovi and Motley Crue, REO Speedwagon and ABBA, but the Eagles will always be one of the most defining bands for me, because they are ingrained indelibly on my memory as powerfully as mind pictures of my mom and dad.

Home on Deranged music memories

I still listen to the radio. There’s a station here that plays a mix of 70s, 80s, 90s and now. I even listen to the top 40 and adult contemporary. But I hope I raise our girls on the radio, too, because you never forget the music that binds you across the years and generations and forever holds you, grounded, and yet, on top of the world.

About the author:

After a career as a newspaper reporter and editor, Melissa Swedoski thought she was well informed on the chaos of everyday life. Then she married a man 13 years her junior and became a SAHM to two toddler girls. Now, she’s mumbling through the mayhem of marriage and motherhood in a small Texas town, turning her investigative eye on the mishaps and misadventures of parenting and the marathon that is marriage, always with the emphasis on humor and love. You can find her living her big little life at Home on Deranged.


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How On Demand Is Cheating Our Kids

In an age when it’s too easy to become a Ninja Netflix addict, stealthily clicking “next episode” on the iPad at 2am, knowing that you’ll regret it, and not being able to resist doing so, because it’s RIGHT THERE, right NOW, on demand, it’s hard to imagine that there was a time when life was so completely not on demand.

There was a time when television and radio controlled what and when you watched, and listened to.

When On Demand didn’t exist.

Let me take you back. To pre-1981, and before MTV even existed.

In 1979, music had become an important part of my life. Big important. I’d hear a song on the radio, love it, and then have to wait for the next time they’d play it to find out the name of the band, if they didn’t announce it afterwards.

And, they usually didn’t announce it afterwards, as the practice was to introduce it beforehand, play it, and then fade out the music while the DJ said what he thought about it while immediately going into the next introduction. The next new song.

Back then, the radio made or broke bands. Enough airtime meant that we – the public – would have a shot at hearing it, before, or after, school hours.

Enough airtime meant that we’d have a shot at knowing what the band’s name was. It meant bicycling to the local Walgreens after babysitting for 8 hours to afford a purchase of the next coveted LP. It meant bicycling home, LP mostly-safely tucked into a backpack, finally gotten home, and then, it meant a dedication to listening to the entire record. Back, and front. Over and over again.

Ah. Can you even remember listening to the entire record? Front and back? I think we’re missing out, a bit, now….

We put up holiday lights, on our ceilings, because we didn’t have You Tube, or anything else, and our holiday lights were beyond festive. We made magic. Before You Tube and MTV magic existed, even. We saved up to see bands, live. To buy their records.

Teenage girl lying on floor 80s floyd_edited-3

I miss those days.

Back then, it meant that liking a record was an investment. That when you “LOVED” a band, that it mattered.

Years later, when tapes came out, and you could drive, it meant that liking a song meant rewinding that tape in the car, to the song that you needed to hear again. And again, and again.

It meant that when your parents told you that your stereo – that took up half of the wall because you had speakers and an amp and a tape thing and a record player on top – was too loud, that you could put on hubcap-sized earphones. Shut them out.

And just listen.

It meant that when you found out how much you loved U2 and Billy Idol, that you’d spend hours in front of the radio, waiting to record your new favorite song, and that, often times, the DJ spoke over the beginning and the ending of it.

Which meant that your favorite songs, before you could bicycle to Walgreens and purchase the record, were listened to with a DJ’s voice wrecking the beginning and end. It meant HOURS, sitting in front of your too-large stereo, waiting to tape your favorite song.

It meant laser light shows. If you’ve never seen one, I highly recommend it.

Mostly though, being raised on the radio means that we were, actually, raised on the radio.

Being raised on the radio was special, in a way that being raised On Demand, is not. It means that I want to teach my son the art of patience, and practice, and practicing patience.

It means that I will never let go of how it felt, waiting with anticipation for a station to play A Song. It means that although we live in a life of On Demand, that I’ll do my very best to teach my son that the best things in life are not clicked with a button.

That they’re worth waiting for.

That they’re not on demand.

Kristi and Tucker November 2009_edited-1Kristi Campbell is a semi-lapsed career woman with about 18 years of marketing experience in a variety of national and global technology companies.  More recently, she was a co-host on a hilarious (and under funded) weekly radio show.  Once her son was born, she became the mom who almost always leaves the house in either flip-flops or Uggs, depending on the weather.

While she does work part-time, her passion is writing and drawing really stupid-looking pictures for her blog http://www.findingninee.com.  Finding Ninee (pron. nine-ee for her son’s pronunciation of the word airplane) started due to a memoir, abandoned when Kristi read that a publisher would rather shave a cat than read another memoir.  Its primary focus is humor and support in a “Middle World,” one where the autism spectrum exists but a diagnosis does not.


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Sly and The Family Stone takes you Higher!

sly higher!

Everybody is a Star

The best thing that could have ever happened to me and Sly was the release of the new box set – Sly and the Family Stone, Higher!

Growing up in the 70’s I was spoon fed Sly. I wasn’t living in San Francisco, and even if I was, I am pretty sure they wouldn’t have let a 4-year-old in his shows. So how could I possibly know?! HOW!

The truth is, I really didn’t become acquainted with Sly that much until I was a, let’s say, “free-thinking” college student looking for the funk. But even then it was just the freaking tip of the iceberg. And when you spend a lot of time with the tip of the iceberg, it starts to get old. And boring. And gray.

Ah, so how is it, that 40 years after Sly’s genius was being recognized I am only seeing it now? Because, this is one of those rare instances where the record industry did see it. Those record puppeteers pretty much gave Sly free rein. That is how you KNOW he was a genius. Sure, they gave him so input, and he gladly took it. He was not at all averse to “dumbing it down” to get in the door.

But the sheer truth is, that Sly and the Family Stone were at their very best playing live, they never failed to fill a venue. And frankly, when they were given free rein to jam in the studio, it was magical.

Did you know he wasn’t always the singer, or ever the only one? He was the magician, the creator – the genie on the sweet keys, or maybe making those strings sing, or maybe all of it. Because he was that guy.

He was that guy who ONLY played what he felt, he only wrote his truth. The music, the words they really came from his soul. He never sold out, he was perfectly happy with the idea of making his music accessible to the masses because even the straight folks should be able to enjoy his music.

If you ever had any doubt at all of his genius or his truth. Listen to this Live version of Stand! Sly will bare his soul and lend you a hand all at once.

Oh, you have to listen to this.

The more I read about Sly, the more I wanted to hug him, sit with him, be in his presence, have a conversation with him. A gift like his is so rare. It really is, that to just be able to share a moment with it, can enrich for a lifetime. And although The Family Stone has played without him, and don’t get me wrong they are some FREAKING amazing musicians, it’s not the same as the man. You can play the music, but the music was born out of the man.

I’ve read a lot of people who said is music was “simple” but when you look at the big picture, it was anything but. Sure some songs were technically simple, but look at The Beatles, it doesn’t make them any less genius.

And I’ve read that Frank Zappa didn’t think much of him, which I find fascinating and disappointing. There must be some underlying story there, because my only reason for looking into that question was some similarities I heard, as a Zappa fan. There’s allusion to Frank thinking he was a sell-out, but Sly was not a sell-out, he genuinely wanted everyone to “Dance to the Music”.

Following The Dead for so many years I can only imagine that a Sly and the Family Stone show would have been like that times a million as far as the jams and getting down, man Getting Funky!

Talk about a time when you had to be there to truly understand! Luv N’ Haight, man – I took a break from life for a while and crashed with some friends for a few months in San Francisco. Spent many a day up by the Haight, but it was not this. Nope. Those days are gone, we can only listen now.

Also, love to hear Cynthia sing.

Sly and Carlos Santana got really close, listen to this song, sound familiar? Music was love, Sly was happy for his songs to be repurposed and redone between people who loved music.

I Ain’t Got Nobody – Sly and the Family Stone

Do you know how many songs you’ve known and loved by other artists?

Turn You Loose – Sly and the Family Stone – This is how it’s done.

How about a song that starts out as a dis-jointed children’s song we all grew up with and turns into a funky jam, with an amazing horn section about social injustice?

Underdog – Sly and the Family Stone

Sy and the Family Stone opened the door for R&B funk bands like Ohio Players, George Clinton, The Parliament Funkadelic (or P-Funk), Kool and the Gang and even Stevie Wonder. Disco owes its life to Funk and Funk owes its acceptance to Sly Stone and James Brown.

Look further into Sly and The Family Stone, you won’t be sorry. I admit his Greatest Hits get’s your body groovin’, but the hidden gems are the songs that got no air time, and even the songs that never made it to an album.

Check the new box set out, you won’t be sorry.  Grab it on Amazon, don’t take a short-cut and just get the music. You NEED the book that comes with it. The images and the biographical information about each song is priceless.

Sly and The Family Stone Box Set – Higher

I never intended to write Sly and the Family Stone Higher! Review I discovered it at my local library and had to have it. So if funds are tight for you, I get that. I would totally check out your local library! Mine had this! But then it was so awesome I had to buy it anyway.

About the Author:

Jen Kehl is a 40-something chick, who has finally come to terms with the fact that she is still a deadhead music freak trapped in side the body of someone’s mother. She often finds herself stuck in the 70′s with the all of the rainbows and unicorns.  She blogs at My Skewed View and created the music site Raised on the Radio, where she’s tricked a bunch of awesome writers into sharing their music experiences with you. She is also a published author as part of the anthology The Mother of All Meltdowns available on Amazon.

Connect with her on twitter @jenkehlFacebook, and Google+.


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Deep Sleep: In Remembrance of DEVO’s Bob 2

Devo bob2

Unlike he, I had by then passed the Bauhaus test, you see.

Having previously purchased, initially hated, then grown to respect and finally admire their seminal album “Mask,” I was already well versed in the true nature, flavor and potential of what would eventually be coined as “alternative music.”

My little brother, however, had no such tutelage, no such pedigree. And as a result, he revolted in a sulking fashion over the tape that I had just purchased and listened to via my Walkman – the sort that came complete with TWO headphone jacks – as we traversed over the bridge that brought us back from “The Falls” (Niagara, that is) to good old Buffalo. The tape in question was DEVO’s “Duty Now For The Future,” and the track that finally made Alex pull the minimally foam-covered plastic hubs from his ears in disdain, was track # 7 – better known as “S.I.B.” – or “Swelling Itching Brain,” to those of you who aren’t fluent in the Devolutionary tongue.

I liked it – connected with it – because it spoke to me on a wholly different level than my usual punk rock fare. In lieu of the generic anger, frustration, and pissitude I was used to, this went far deeper in. It went to the core of my hurt. The connect of my disconnect. The point of my pain. The feeling of my feeling of being all alone in a world full of people, all of whom were trying very hard to ignore the fact that they were all alone. You see, those silly Spuds from a planet wholly foreign – known simply at the time as “oHIo” – in some ways knew me far better than even did the biological life forms who shared DNA with me, and the same car, as it and we traversed a bridge between The Falls (of Niagara) and The Depths (of Buffalo.)

And of those Spuds, Bob 2 was one of them.

Bob 2

Much like his other fallen cohort, drummer Alan Myers, Bob 2 spoke to me, even though he never knew me. And much like the other three gentlemen still standing today – those who felt that wearing flowerpots atop their heads and toilet seats round their necks was their best option in order to avoid becoming “plugs without sockets” – Bob “2” Casale helped me to understand that while I still was all so terribly alone, I wasn’t quite so “all so terribly alone” as I imagined.

Now, to my continued melancholy, I learned that Bob died last week at the age of 61 due to sudden heart failure (see, it’s NOT always drug abuse, you know). He now joins one other Spud, three (or is it more?) Ramones, a whole slew of New York Dolls and Joe Strummer of The Clash in what could be presumed to be the BESTEST band that Heaven has ever heard.

And as with all the rest, I cry a little bit more with each passing. Not so much because he (or any of the others) is merely gone – I mean, as noted before, I didn’t even know the guy, after all – but because I appreciate that he opened windows for me that no one else could’ve. That he let me know, at a time when it was most important, that I too could “rip away the gates of steel.”

So rest in peace, Bob Casale. Rest in peace, Bob 2. Thanks for the knowledge you shared with me. For the record, I totally understood – and will now forever miss – your  unique potato.

•••

About the Author:

She calls me “Tweetless” because I suffer from a Twitter deficiency. In fact, other than WordPress and Facebook, I’m pretty much a social media recluse all together. I am however, as I like to call it, a Wanna-be Writer who “writes weakly, thrice-weekly.”
Mostly fiction and flash-fiction, I intersperse these two with a smattering of pieces on musical history, culture and memories. You may also find me doing what I would term an “inspirational piece” now and again, though most others would likely just call these works “woe-is-me mope-abouts.” 
As well as that, I am the father to three beautiful, smart, and wholly pain-in-the arse children (side note: normally I would never use the word “arse,” but in writing the bio, I felt it’s use made me sound much more “continental.”) All three of whom have provided me with much more joy than sorrow – much more love than pain. So I suppose I’ll keep them around.
For now.
If you’d care to dig deeper into my writing weakly, thrice-weekly, or just want to see what’s currently floating about in my head  – pop on over to http://aslongasimsinging.wordpress.com


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New Releases by Classic Artists

new releases by classic rock

Cher has just released yet another album.

No, the plastic surgery hasn’t hurt her singing voice.

Still, the constant beat that accompanies her voice, one that we hear on 90% of the Pop tunes put out by idiotic record producers of today, tends to be annoying after a couple of songs.  I wish it was only in a couple of songs.  No such luck!

Why would someone with such a great voice allow this to happen?

Could it be that she’s afraid of aging and losing her younger audience?  Is her fear so strong that she, the all powerful and definitely one that could tell today’s producers where to go, actually feels that she must reduce herself to the norm and cover up her vocals with techno pulse electronics?

There are a couple of songs in which she allows her voice to shine.  You can feel her sincerity, love, hopes and dreams in each of these selections.  It’s a shame.  An entire album comprised of these type of songs could be a benchmark for all to reach.  But, fear can be a factor in making the wrong decision.  It is unfortunate that she seems to allow it to rule her career.

Hit Single “Woman’s World”

But, she’s a millionaire and I’m not, so perhaps I’m the one that’s stupid!

Does selling out in order to make money really do her musical talent justice?

For some of us that have followed her career since her “Sonny & Cher” days, we know she’s more than one of today’s “throw away” Pop artists.  Her sound is unique as it calls to your heart in a song like “The Way Of Love”, and mischievous in “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves.”  But, from way back then to today, something changed.  Something happened to her.  Something occurred in her life that demanded she aim towards the Pop audience only and produce tunes that wouldn’t stand the test of time, but only supply funds for the day.

I’m not saying her new album, “Closer To The Truth” doesn’t have substance.  It does, but in a frivolous manner.  It’s basically a Pop/Dance album that says little in message, but will do well for exercise class music or Pop dance halls.

There’s a difference in “keeping up with the times” and “being true to your music.”  You could do much better, oh talented goddess of the decades!  Please, before it’s too late and the years eat away at your precious vocal ability, give us all something worthy of the praise you deserve!

Something like Elton John’s new album, “The Diving Board.”

I am a fan of early Elton John.  There have been many hits along the way, but there have also been many misses.  I will admit to having every album he’s composed in my collection.  However, most of those released in the 80’s and 90’s are doing a good job of gathering dust.

I will make a statement here that many will probably shoot me for.  Not since “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” has Elton had the complete quality in an album as his latest presents.

Strong statement, huh?  Believe me, it won’t be a popular one to the snot nosed music reviewers employed today.  You know, the ones that were raised on 90’s music and have never listened to anything previous to  that time period.

At first listen, the album will pull you into a world of mournful loss and storytelling beauty.  This, regardless of Pop opinion, is what Elton does best and what originally put him on the music map.  I won’t bore you with details, as I’ll let his music and words speak to your heart and soul when you listen to it for the first time.

Elton John  “Home Again”

But, if you’re looking for something to raise you out of this world with an electronic beat, you’ll be disappointed.  He doesn’t use such cheap thrills to get his point across and make a buck.  This, to me, is what Cher needs to see and take note of.  If it is to be Elton’s swan song album, he couldn’t have left a better example of quality of music.

I’ve bought so many albums in the last few months, my wife is going crazy wondering where I’m going to store them.  (Even those downloaded, I make a hard copy to keep in my collection in case of hard drive disaster.  It’s happened twice, so I learned by experience!)  Anyway, out of all of those I’ve purchased, this is the album of the year.  Oh, the Grammy’s won’t recognize it as such.  They only look at the throw away artists for the most part.  But, real music lovers will cherish this selection.

Needless to say, it holds my highest recommendation!

Not so the latest Sting release, “The Last Ship.”

This is where things get strange.  This album seems to be a follow-up to several of his past albums.  It brings about many references to past songs and characters in those songs.  It’s slow, told in a story manner, and I must say, somewhat boring to which to listen all the way through.

“The Last Ship” has it’s good points, especially if you’re trying to get some sleep and need some background music to finish the job.  Yes, boys and girls, can you say, “Boring?”

But, it’s not produced badly, and I guess, if you’re a real Sting fan, you’ll find it has some production value.  Sting’s vocals seem to have dropped and octave over the years, and may even be classified as unrecognizable at times.  But, let’s be real.  The guy is getting up in years and did put a lot of effort into this release.  Sorry, Sting!  I’ve really been a fan for years.  It just didn’t touch my sensitive spot.

Sting  “The Last Ship”

Finally, lets take a look at an artist that may not be too familiar to you.

Laura Mvula has recently released “Sing To The Moon” to the world.  (Thank God, a new artist that dares to be different!)

I can’t classify her music.  I’d love to say R&B, but it’s not.  Jazz?  Nope!  Easy Listening?  Not by any manner!  Pop?  Dream on!  Rock?  Not the furthest thing from the truth!   World Music?  Maybe this is the closest genre she enters.

There is no specific beat.  What?  Listen to it and you’ll see what I mean.  The songs break up into multiple beats, runs, and storylines.  It’s almost like a Broadway music score at times, taking you on a journey into the weird but beautiful land of “keep up with me and you’ll enjoy it!”

This may not be an album for those who love today’s standard trash that’s being aired.  Even I can’t say as though this would be an album that I’d play everyday.  But, I will say that I completely enjoyed it.  “Sing to the Moon” is refreshing in our world of formula sound.  Different?  You bet!  Fun?  You bet!  Storytelling?  Oh My God, YES!  (Just listen to the song “Green Garden” or “Is There Anybody Out There” and enjoy the vision!)

Laura Mvula  “Sing To The Moon”

Laura is a true artist from the meaning of the word.  They still exist (believe it or not) and can hold true to their music.  Not a sell out, at least for now.  Let’s hope she never does!

Remember, music is for the listener.  You may not agree with the above reviews.  That’s okay!  I may not agree with everything you like or dislike either.  The fact remains that there’s a lot of good music available for you to sample.  Don’t hold back.  Experiment with different styles and genres to increase your perspective and collection.  You may be surprised at what you’ll discover.

Ciao!

 

About The Author

Having grown up during the 50′s & 60′s, Rich was a personal witness to the confusion of the times. His love of music drew him into the conflicts of the day as he protested many of the atrocities in civil rights and an overseas war. Ironically, military service, during the final days of the Vietnam Conflict, ended a music career in a successful band. However, his love of music held true as he later chose a career as a radio announcer over law school. Here, along with being able to play the music he cherished, he interviewed many top music acts. This allowed him to gain much knowledge of the recording industry and the psyche of music artists in rock, jazz and R&B. Later, his love of performing transformed him into a career in stand-up comedy. Twenty years later, his love for music continues. Quote: “Being born in 1954, Rock ‘N Roll and I have grown up together. I wouldn’t have had it any other way!”


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Lessons Learned From a Cheap Trick Concert

ravinia fest

It’s the end of the summer; we try and make it to as many concerts at our local Ravinia Festival during their short season. It’s a completely unique venue, sprawling lawn lot’s of giant trees shading the area, planted in the middle of a residential neighborhood. It was originally built in the 1940’s as the summer home for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The sound is simply amazing for a place so big. This year, we saw 7 concerts, and for our last concert of the season – we planned to see Cheap Trick.

I’m not going to lie, I was burnt-out. My sister and I leave the house at 1:00 to wait in line to be the first in the park to run our butts off to get what we think is the best possible spot on the lawn. It’s like the running of the bulls. And by concert #7 I was wondering if we even wanted to go.

Amazingly, the husbands stepped up. They didn’t want us to blow off the show, and they were willing to wait in line for 3 hours and then sit in our perfect spot for another 3 until the show started. (now don’t get me wrong, we do it up. Wine, cheese, beer, salted caramel chocolates…. you name it, we have it. Books and card games too)

Still, I wasn’t expecting much.

During sound check – the beauty of early arrival, my husband called me and tried to hold the phone up. All I heard was a lot of noise, I was not impressed. Although I am a lover of all things music, I only have a few favorite Cheap Trick songs. And since they haven’t been on my radar, I was not aware of the surprise to come.

Cheap Trick was performing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in its entirety.

cheap trick sgt pepper

Actually, our husband’s told us this, but we figured they were full of it. Imagine our surprise when Rick Nielsen came out and announced they would be doing Sgt. Peppers, some Cheap Trick and then more Beatles! Well now they had my attention! And with a full orchestra? That called for a shelving of outside entertainment.

The show was amazing, the talent of the band was still strong, the Chicago Philharmonic was flawless and Gingger Shankar on the double violin was breath-taking!

The magic of this concert brought up these thoughts:

  • I am of a generation that never got to see The Beatles live and never will (duh). (btw I’m 43, so there’s that)
  • It must have been a mind-blowing experience to hear these songs performed live if hearing Cheap Trick perform them was borderline mind-blowing.

The most important thought:

  • No one listens to albums anymore. It occurred to me that ever since the iPod became a regular part of my life in 2002 I haven’t listened to an album from first song to last. (OK maybe a few in the beginning, but certainly not in the last 5 years)

The age of album rock and concept albums is basically dead. Sure you can create one, and you can even hope to have some people care enough to buy it. But really? When you can have the instant gratification of downloading that one song you just love without buying the whole album, what’s your motivation?

And by “providing” this service we are encouraging mediocrity. While once upon a Beatles time, an album was conceptualized from first song to last. Now all you need is a few hits and the rest is “filler”, because really, whose going to buy the whole album anyway? Our children will never understand, or even think about the choices a band made in the order of songs. They will never know what a b-side is. They will never need to buy a whole album just to own their favorite song.

I left the concert feeling energized and frustrated. Frustrated by the fact that as I attempt to raise my son with a deep appreciation of music, I have been going about it all wrong. Energized by the fact that it’s never too late. I never tossed all of those CD’s I uploaded into iTunes. The day after Cheap Trick, I popped in the first disc that’s been in my car’s CD player ever. The Beatle’s Sgt. Pepper’s is in rotation. All my son will hear for the next few weeks in the car is that same album over and over, that’s how we did it (but on a record player in the living room). I am thinking the next CD in rotation will be some Jazz. He already loves the jazz mixes I’ve made, but I can guarantee you that every Jazz album I own was meant to be listened to from beginning to end. I am making a promise to myself to seek out new musicians that are making music for the music and not for the highest number downloaded.

Just to give you an idea of the caliber of musicianship that was part of this amazing concert here is a video of Gingger Shankar playing the double violin. She is an amazing artist and composer. She has played with The Smashing Pumpkins and she wrote the score for The Passion of the Christ, she has done so much more, and continues to be a prolific composer and artist. Go click on that link up there and check her out.