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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Baby Boomers Music

babyboomer

Baby Boomers are egotistical asses, especially when it comes to music!

 

I should know.  I’m a Baby Boomer.

 

You have to remember, most Baby Boomers have followed music from its early days.  Say, a Baby Boomer, born in 1954, will remember songs from the Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, The Big Bopper, and Buddy Holly, to name just a few.  This was the foundation of Rock & Roll.  This is also our foundation from which we build.

 

We’ve been through the challenges of life throughout history. First, just listening to Rock in the early years put us in dangerous territory with the church. Supposedly, music that made you shake your hips and jump around was “Devil Music”. Yeah, you should have been there convincing your parents it wasn’t.

 

Jerry Lee Lewis (Whole Lotta Shakin’)

 

The Beatles also made it easy for us. Why? Because immediately, guys wanted to start wearing their hair long. The Hell with the “Burr” and “Flat-Top” haircuts, we wanted it to grow and grow long. You should have been there telling that to your high school basketball coach. Talk about setting yourself up for running gut drills after regular practice for the rest of the week. Why? Because we were going against the norm of the day. We were showing the adults that we didn’t have to follow the same rules they had. Times were changing and we were, too. Long hair showed what side we were on.

 

The Cowsills (Hair)

 

We were also there for the Civil Rights movement. We fought for all to be treated the same and have the same opportunities regardless of race or sex. Talk about putting yourself in the firing line! When I talk about protesting and marching in the late 60’s in Indiana, people say, “Well, that wasn’t much. The South was where the violence was at.” Then I kindly remind them that the national headquarters of the KKK was in Indiana. Yeah, the Midwest had its share of screwed up attitudes, too. It just wasn’t picked up by the news agencies as much.

 

Temptations (Ball of Confusion)

 

The Vietnam War hit everyone. However, it was the first war where the average age of a combat soldier was only 19 years old. Kids were being sent to kill an enemy under the guise of Communism needs to be stopped. It didn’t take long for us to see that it wasn’t communism as our primary enemy, but the politicians that were using the war to create a profitable economy for their constituents that owned war machine factories. Protest after protest, kids leaving the United States and living abroad, and the rich filling the pockets of Congressmen to keep their kids from going to an early death were facts of life for the youth of the day.

 

Country Joe & The Fish (I Think I’m Fixin To Die Rag)

 

As we expanded our attitudes, we sought means to expand our minds. Marijuana, although scorned for years by the white population as a drug that destroys all will to succeed, became a drug of choice, and one that got many a person years in jail. LSD (acid, Mr. Love Saves, etc.) joined the field as a leader in allowing one to see beyond. Different strengths and compounds had varying effects on those who indulged. Most of the time, we simply enjoyed the trip. Of course, various pharmaceuticals also become common as downers and speed helped us through the madness, or maybe, even added to the madness.

 

Jefferson Airplane (White Rabbit)

 

Finally, ignoring our parents uptight feelings about sex, we made it happen. Free Sex meant that if you found someone you cared about, and they found you cool, too, there was no reason why you had to be married to get together and experience the beauty. Our parents knew this, but hid it because of the morality of the times. Oh, they had “affairs”, but they didn’t want everyone to know. Sex was a “dirty” topic that parents often only brought up too late. You learned about it from your friend’s fathers Playboy collection when they weren’t home. We wanted love, and sex was a part of that.

 

Mercy (Love Can Make You Happy)

 

Yeah, we were fighters. No matter what we wanted, it seemed society was against it in one way or another. But, we didn’t give up. We fought each battle and moved forward. Music was our partner. Regardless of the battle, it seemed as though there was a song that fit the time. We were unified, pacified, and verified by the music we listened to and believed in.

 

And now, we’re just like our parents were.

 

But, we’re still assholes with attitude!

Steppenwolf (Born To Be Wild)

 

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!”

Keep up with him at That’s Life…Sometimes!


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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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A New Wave Dance Playlist

New Wave Playlist

 

For me, Dance Music is New Wave 80’s music. Because that’s when I was disturbed and dancing.

I did some dancing in the late 90’s, but that’s when Dance music was just plain old disturbing to me.

Here are some notables:

Ministry with Everyday is Halloween – By the way, this song was our anthem. “Why are you dressed like its halloween?”

 

The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary

 

Siouxsie & The Banshees with Cities in Dust

 

The Cure – Close To Me

 

Sorry I just got so darn nostalgic I couldn’t leave this one out.
The Cure – Love Cats

 

New Order – Blue Monday

 

What was New Wave to you? Did you even know it existed? What makes you want to dance? Speak up!

Tell me about the Music New Wave in your life.

 

Jen Kehl often finds herself stuck in the 70’s with the all the rainbows and unicorns. Where life just drifts away as she listens to her favorite 60’s and 70’s music. She blogs at My Skewed View and created the music site Raised on the Radio, where she invites other writers to share 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 @jenkehl.


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What Are Your First Musical Memories?

vinyl on player

What are the first songs you remember in your life?

Of course, the answer may have something to do with when you were born.  It may also have something to do with the type of music your parents listened to.  And, believe it or not, it may also have to do with what your mother used to put you to sleep when you were a baby.

C’mon, don’t tell me you don’t remember:

Rockabye Baby

Being born way, way back in 1954, I have the benefit of seeing Rock ‘n Roll grow up with me.  Of course, one of the very first artists that really hit me as someone to emulate was known as the King.  Oh, you might even have heard of him, too.  Yep, the one and only Elvis Presley!

Elvis Presley “Hound Dog”

I think there were many songs that I heard as a youngster that really didn’t stick with me.  What I do remember is a time when I was 4 years old.  My mother and I were on vacation visiting my grandmother in Cranston, R.I.   We’d gone shopping to pass the afternoon, and to get out of the heat of the apartment building (which had no air conditioning back then), and stepped into a Dime Store. (Once known as department stores … now known as having been devoured by Wal-Mart stores.)  At the end of an aisle, I remember piles and piles of printed T-Shirts, stuffed animals, and an old 45 rpm record player cranked up to full volume playing Sheb Wooley’s “Purple People Eater!”

Sheb Wooley  “Purple People Eater”

After that, I started paying attention to music.  It wasn’t long before I had my own record player and wasn’t shy about throwing a fit to get more and more records.  (It’s a trick I still use today with my wife!)  Thanks to a loving grandmother, I soon received my own copy of “Purple People Eater”, and the Three Stooges doing their version of this hit for kids.

The Three Stooges  “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas”

I must admit, I didn’t really know much about Rock ‘n Roll at that time.  Oh, Ed Sullivan’s Show and other variety shows we’d watch on a 19″ black and white television always had some singers of sorts, but I found that Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons” and Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John” were favorites of mine.

Tennessee Ernie Ford  “16 Tons”

Jimmy Dean  “Big Bad John”

And, as much as I hate to admit it, three more novelty songs are next on my list of early memories.

Hollywood Argyles  “Alley Oop”

Brian Hyland  “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”

Larry Verne  “Please, Mr. Custer”

And then, before you knew it, the Beatles came to America.  Then the Rolling Stones, and Herman’s Hermits, and The Kinks, and … well, the story can only continue with the British Invasion and how it changed music in the states.

But, that’s another story!

(How about you?  What was the first music you remember?  Be sure to leave it in the comments below!)

Ciao!

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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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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I Wanted My Own Bitchin’ Camero

 camero

 

It’s the mid 1980s. Bands like REO Speedwagon, Foreigner and Wham! ruled the charts. But there’s an underground movement bubbling up — punk rock.

Listening to my Sony Walkman late at night, the local college station would spin strange songs and bizarre artists. Sometimes, the songs were so awful my ears hurt. Other times, the music seemed plain boring and vanilla. But some magical nights, the DJ was speaking directly to me.

One evening while laying in my bed, staring out at the darkness, two sarcastic whiney voices popped through the headphones. A walking bass played in the background while these kids just shot the breeze, making fun of Motley Crue and talking about nothing of importance. What kind of song was this?

Then suddenly, the tone of the song changed. Fast guitar. Banging drums. Staccato voice. The Dead Milkmen’s Bitchin’ Camero took over. Welcome to punk rock.

Check out Bitchin’ Camero. The song takes a crazy turn around minute #2. Although Bitchin’ Camero was The Dead Milkmen’s breakout song, their most popular tune by far is Punk Rock Girl.

The Dead Milkmen introduced me to the idea that music could be irreverent, sarcastic, silly and funny for the sake of just being fun. Songs didn’t have to be about love. They didn’t have to have a deeper meaning. Bands could inspire and move an audience with their acerbic wit and raw musicality.

About the Author:

Jennifer is the moms of boys, the better half (occasionally), a family cruise director, a short order cook, a techie and always evolving. When she’s not playing house, you can find her at The Jenny EvolutionGeneration iKid and The Sensory Spectrum.


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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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New Releases by Some Classic Rockers and Singer Songwriters

new releases.jpg

Are you as burnt out as I am?

I’m ready for something new … something different … something that I can get into and forget everything that’s been going on.

tommy castro

Tommy Castro and the Painkillers just put out a new blues album. If you’re a fan of the blues, you’ll be happy to know that some of the guest artists on this release include Joe Bonamassa, Tasha Taylor, Tab Benoit, Marcia Ball, Magic Dick and The Holmes Brothers. Here’s a sample for you:

“The Devil You Know”

David Crosby  Croz

David Crosby (yeah, of Crosby, Stills & Nash fame) just released one last week, too! It’s called “Croz”, and is one of the best collections of songs he’s put out in years. Close your eyes and mellow out a bit and you’ll be able to imagine being around in the late sixties and early seventies when he was in his prime.

“What’s Broken”

bruce springsteen   98797879

And, the Boss is back. New Jersey’s own, Bruce Springsteen has just released “High Hopes”, an album of great songs that remind you who really is the boss to this day. True, Clarence is up in the sky serenading Rock Angels with his haunting saxophone. However, the Boss and is still accompanied by Nils Lofgren, Stevie Van Zandt, Max Weinberg, Patti Scialfa and others that have been with him for decades, in addition to a new relationship brewing with lead guitarist Tom Morello.

“High Hopes”

Neil Young  Live At The Cellar Door 1974

Who doesn’t like Neil Young? Okay, I saw a hand or two out there. Yes, there’s times when he goes too far with his music. But, wouldn’t you rather have that than someone who bores you to death time after time sounding the same as the previous twenty albums? No? Well, just for you, Neil released an archived performance from 1970 at the Cellar Door. Here’s a cut I know you’ll remember.

“Old Man”

Passenger   All The Little Lights

There’s a new kid on the block that brings back memories only too well. Passenger is a singer that sounds like Cat Stevens so much, you’d swear he was his son. (Could be, but who’s telling?) Seriously, if you’re looking for modern mellow, Passenger is for you. Listen to this one and tell me I’m not right.

“Let Her Go”

London Grammar  If You Wait

What do you say about a group you only discovered because their album download was just $3.99 on Amazon.com? How about far freaking out! I can only relate to the 90’s group Portishead in comparing them with any recent band, and I personally feel they exceed them in quality. London Grammar doesn’t seem like they’re going to be a flash in the pan. If they keep putting out music like this, they’ll be around for years to come.

“Hey Now”

Jennifer Nettles   That Girl

Feel like a little Country music? Remember Sugarland? Well, Jennifer Nettles has decided to give a solo album a go. It’s a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n roll, and a little bit boring. But, if you’re looking to just sit back and lounge around for an hour, you couldn’t pick a more fitting album. “That Girl” came out a few weeks ago, and has been doing well on the charts. Give this song a chance and see if you don’t like it.

“That Girl”

So, sit back, shake the chill out of the system, and relax awhile with this Chill Out Playlist. You deserve it. Remember, soon the snow and ice will be gone and Springtime will be here! And, remember what April brings!

beatles rain

“Rain”

Ciao!

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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Music Transports Me

 time machine

The other day, I woke up disoriented to the sound of my husband’s clock radio alarm going off. In the split second it took me to process my surroundings and realize that it wasn’t the middle of the night and my toddler hadn’t woken me up coughing again, I became aware of the song. Not fully awake, the sensory memory slammed into me. As Natalie Merchant sang, “Because the night belongs to lovers,” I was no longer the sleep-deprived mother of two who had been up on and off with a sick child. I was sixteen years old – hormones, life, and infatuation coursing through my veins. I was lying in my twin bed in my childhood home, listening to 10,000 Maniacs and craving my next fix from the person I couldn’t live without. In less than ten seconds, I had left my adult life and re-entered my adolescent body and brain. Because of a song. Paired, of course, with the highly susceptible state of waking from a dream, and I nearly lost who I was for a minute.

As a music therapist, I am well-acquainted with the healing and transformative powers of music. I have witnessed firsthand men and women whose minds were ravaged with dementia clearly singing along to every word of a song I played. They were able to describe to me with great lucidity where they’d lived and who they were with the first time they heard that song. They had re-entered their younger brain-space. Because of a song. But somehow I am continually in awe when music has the same power in my own life to take me back in time.

Music transports us. Through decades and across thousands of miles. When I hear the opening strains of certain songs, I find myself desperately longing for people whose faces I haven’t seen in nearly a decade. As a self-proclaimed nostalgia junkie, I am beyond grateful for the power of music to take me back in time.

  • When I hear The Indigo Girls’ “Rites of Passage” album, I become a moody, love-sick teenager burning incense in my bedroom, high on a new sense of independence. (And nothing else, I assure you. I was a good girl until college.)
  • Hearing Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” transports me to a crummy off-campus apartment, where I am dancing with my three best college friends. We stop to rest on afghan-draped couches, cooling our legs with ice-cold bottles of (cheap) beer to combat the roasting apartment. (This was before my A/C days. Wait, I’m 35 and I still don’t have central air. Never mind.)
  • When I hear Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” I am riding in a crowded second-hand Oldsmobile, my companions and I consciously disregarding legalities as we weave our own moral fabric and compose a new set of rules by which to live.
  • Whenever the song “8 Days a Week” plays, I am dancing to a Beatles cover band at a summer street festival in Milwaukee, celebrating my liberation from academia.

I created a playlist that I listened to daily during those heady months when I was falling in love with my husband. Whenever I hear songs from it, my heart flutters momentarily.  I know my oldest daughter—seven years old—experiences this phenomenon as well. She was three years old when I remarried and my husband adopted her; she vividly remembers walking down the “aisle” on a beach in Mexico scattering rose petals. Whenever she hears Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” she announces, “Listen, Mommy! It’s my song from our wedding!”

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, my brother—who is not quite three years younger than I am—began compiling a series of mixed tapes that lasted for years. These tapes contained the songs that accompanied all the memories and angst of these deeply important, often turbulent years of life.  I am terrified to listen to them as an adult, lest I lose my grip on reality and drown in nostalgia.

One of my biggest disappointments in life– that I still haven’t quite come to terms with—is the fact that I don’t get to go back and do everything again. I don’t ever get to ride in the backseat of the van with my brother during family road trips, listening to Elton John on our Walkman together. I don’t get to rock my babies and sing them lullabies as an old woman. I don’t get to fall in love again. I have this long-term goal to create a playlist that is essentially the story of my life. This epic digital mix tape will span my earliest childhood music—from the Beach Boys to Aerosmith—through my teenage years, college years, and up through my adulthood as a mother. Because if I can’t actually go back in time, having a playlist that serves as a time machine is the next best thing.

I am still hopeful for a day when the known laws of the universe have shifted and it is possible to travel in time to return to these formative experiences that comprise my Do-Again List. Maybe that is what happens after we die – we are granted one last cosmic road trip to stop by and visit all those moments and people who shaped us. I had better get to work on my legendary playlist so that the divine powers can easily access the perfect soundtrack to accompany my journey.

IMG_4342

Stephanie is a freelance writer, music therapist, and mother of two young girls. She blogs about the imperfect reality of life with kids at Mommy, for Real  and women’s friendship at The HerStories Project. Stephanie can usually be found behind her guitar, in front of her laptop, or underneath a pile of laundry. She can also be found wasting time on Facebook and 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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Sunday Playlist – Dinner Party Music

swinging dinner party

Whether you are relaxing at home or heading out, I hope you have great music to listen to.

We all know that music sets a mood, when you are visiting with friends and family the last thing you need is jarring music in the background.

Dinner Party Music should uplift without being noticed, you should have that feeling of being in a good mood and not knowing why. If the mood of the party is talkative (not too loud) and happy, then you know you’ve done your job. I suggest hi-jacking the playlist to ensure an amazing night.

I set my personal Dinner Party Playlist to shuffle, here are the first 10 songs. I didn’t cheat – except one song I could not find anywhere to link. And by the way, if you watch Woody Allen movies, you might recognize – not the songs – but the mood.  Click on the songs are hotlinked to take you straight to the song in YouTube. Take the time to listen, you won’t be sorry, this is a go to list for me. #5 is a jem, a classic French song, don’t miss it.

The Way You Look Tonight – Michael Buble

(Gettin’ Some) Fun Out of Life – Madeleine Peyroux

Let’s Never Stop Falling in Love – Pink Martini

The Look of Love – Dusty Springfield

Que Reste T’il De Nos Amour – Charles Trenet

Whisper Not – Bobby Hutcherson

Why Think About Tomorrow – Itzhak Perlman and Oscar Peterson

You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To – Nancy Wilson

Girl Talk – Howard Roberts

Samba de Mon Coeur qui Bat – Coralie Clement

Hope you have a fabulous Party, or quiet evening, listening to these tunes.

Jen Kehl is the Music Director of her universe. She created Raised on the Radio after she realized her missed callings in life, were actual jobs – Boss of Music or Radio DJ. Now Raised on the Radio helps her live her dream. Since Woody Allen lives in her mind, there is the possibility he may be attempting to escape through music, don’t mind him, he’s harmless. If you’d like to live your dream, drop us a line by clicking Like To Be Our Guest?


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Memories of Jim Croce, Like Time in a Bottle – Guest post by Meg Hammil

time in a bottle
I think most of us experienced in our youth what I think of as a “Day the Music Died” moment.  We learned about the unexpected death of a performer we admired, and not only did we feel what was for many the first twinges of mortality, but we grasped the bitter truth that even our heroes are not with us forever.
For me that moment was September 1973, 40 years ago this month. I was sitting on a school bus riding to school when I heard a radio announcement that Jim Croce had been killed in a plane crash.
Back in 1973 I was a moody 8th grader just really becoming aware of pop music, but lucky to be witnessing what was probably the greatest era of singer songwriters ever. The first to really catch my ear was Jim Croce.  The first song by him that I like was “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown.” I remember how cool and edgy we all thought we were singing a song with “damn” in it.  But I also soon discovered his heartbreaking love songs starting with “Time in a Bottle”.  This is music I have never outgrown my affection for.
Croce’s songs kind of divide themselves into 2 types. There are character studies, usually humorous; “Leroy” of course is the best known, but also Big Jim Walker of “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” and “Rapid Roy the Stock Car Boy”. There are also the working class job songs, like “Working at the Car Wash Blues” and “Top Hat Bar and Grill.” Many of the songs involve someone getting their comeuppance like Jim Walker who learns “its not hustling people strange to you, even if you do have a 2 piece custom-made pool cue,” and Leroy who “Learned a lesson ‘bout messing’ with the wife of a jealous man.”
Then there are the love songs, among the most melancholy ever written, as one can see by the titles alone: “Photographs and Memories”, “One Less Set of Footsteps,” “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way,” “New York’s Not My Home,” and of course “Time In a Bottle.” Certain themes occur again and again. Either the singer has lost his love, or he feels he will soon.  He feels the passage of time is coming between them. “There never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them” (“Time in a Bottle”)
The very best in my opinion, is “Operator (That’s Not the Way it Feels)”.  The story of a broken romance is told through a man’s conversation with the telephone operator. The song is notable for how it tells the story:
“She’s living in LA
With my best old ex friend Ray
A Guy she said she knew well and sometimes hated.”
(So much better than “My woman left me for my best friend”)
He wants the phone number so he can tell the girl that he’s over her, and moving on, but can’t even convince himself, let alone anyone else. Finally in the end he gives up the effort. To me, the last lines of Operator are some of the best ever written:
“Thank you for your time
You’ve been so much more than kind
And you can keep the dime.”
The shortness of his life simply adds another layer of melancholy to what is already there. He was only 30 when he died, with a wife and 2-year-old son. When you listen to the few recordings we were lucky enough to get, one can’t help but think, here is a songwriter who was nowhere near his peak. When I listen to his music I always find myself grieving all the untold tales.
Meg Hammil is the mom of two Freshmen (high school and college)  and a book addict who gets all the double Jeopardy questions right. In her spare time she is a 911 operator, where she collects stories she can blog in retirement. Meg posts at  Meg on the Go and can be followed on Facebook  and on Twitter  @TheHachmom and Bloglovin’.


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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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Thanks For That Magic Yellow Box

Sony_Walkman02

Thanks for That Little Yellow Box

While children and teenagers across the land were secretly reading books by flashlight under the covers, I was covertly listening to the radio. My parents were none the wiser, thanks to a plastic yellow box — the Sony Sports Walkman.

With the Walkman came the ability to listen without creating noise through the stereo. This meant I could lie in the darkness of my room while my parents watched television downstairs. (But don’t tell them. I don’t want to get in trouble.)

The Sony Walkman changed how we listened to music. You could be in a room full of people and individually enjoy your tunes. No one knew if you were rocking out to Henry Rollins or loving on Lionel Richie. The notes were just for you.

At night, the radio became a jungle of new sounds. Nationally syndicated shows, deemed “too mature” for younger audiences, grabbed airtime late at night. The doctors suddenly took over the airwaves — from Dr. Demento to Dr. Ruth. My local college radio station — Siena College’s WVCR 88.3 FM — turned up the heat in the evening, pulling out new songs and obscure artists.

Music isn’t just something I listened to, I devoured it. My ever-present friend whacked me over the head with the punk scene, introduced me to new wave depression and snuck in a random rock ballad once in a while.

I was able to step into a different ecosystem of music and culture thanks to Sony. While friends were bopping to Tiffany, I was hanging with King Crimson. While classmates were swooning over Wham!, I was angry with early U2. Those late night rendezvous with my Walkman radically changed how I viewed the world. It transplanted me from my sleepy suburbia to a thriving urban oasis of sound.

I can’t even imagine how my mind would have been molded without the eye-opening tunes of emerging artists and underground amateurs. So thank you little yellow box. You rocked my world.

Jennifer is the moms of boys, the better half (occasionally), a family cruise director, a short order cook, a techie and always evolving. When she’s not playing house, you can find her at The Jenny EvolutionGeneration iKid and The Sensory Spectrum.


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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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You Thought They Said What? The Sadder But Wiser Girl Spills It.

you thought they said what dots

My good friend Sarah, from The Sadder But Wiser Girl was kind enough to humiliate herself for our pleasure. I asked her to share they lyrics of a song she has sung wrong all of these years, and she happily obliged. The song?

Jet Airliner by The Steve Miller Band

 steve miller band jet airliner
J: So Sarah, do tell, what was it you thought they were singing? 
S: Well Jen, I thought they were singing “Big old Jeb had a lighthouse…”
J: What did you think those lyrics meant or did you just go with it?
S: I just went with it. Maybe big old Jeb did have a lighthouse.
J: Do you know the actual lyrics? 
S: Big old jet airliner, don’t carry me too far away…
J: When did you realize that you’d had it wrong all along?
S: I think when I saw the song on Twisted Mixtape Tuesday. Yeah, I’m slow like that.
J: Uhm, Sarah, that was just a few months ago.
J: Did you ever sing the wrong lyrics in public, you know, in front of someone? 
S: Probably.
J: What happens when you hear the song now? 
S: I just start giggling and can’t stop.
J: Sarah, thanks for baring your innermost soul and sharing this embarrassing moment with us.
S: My pleasure. Now please ask your readers to go visit my blog.
J: Will do.
Sarah Almond “The Sadder But Wiser Girl” is a mom of two children and is married to an evil genius. Suffering from ADD, Anxiety, and a phobia of washing dishes by hand, she blogs to save the world from boringness. Though she is college educated, she would gladly trade her degree in for something useful, like a cheese sandwich. Find her at The Sadder But Wiser Girl
*I’d like to thank Linda of Elleroy Was Here for coming up with this fun idea. Feel free to share yours in the comments!


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FirstNotes and ForeverMusic

lizzi guest post ROTR

I was raised in a pretty shut-down household, where the music available was a strict diet of Classic FM (which I now love), Classical CDs (I love some of them), ‘Churchy’ music (still not that keen), and Gilbert and Sullivan (hate it with a passion).

There was one exception (other than the stalwart ‘sung Times Tables’ tapes) – one copy of a hearkening back to my Dad’s childhood; a ‘Hello Children Everywhere’ CD. I listened to it obsessively, whenever I was allowed to use the (gigantic old monster of a) stereo system, in brushed steel, with heavy dials and buttons which swirled deliciously in my hands and would land me in trouble, because somehow the volume always seemed to end up louder.

danny-kaye

So thanks to the lifeline of this one CD, I caught a tiny break and spent my childhood having my mind blown by such wonders as Suzi Miller’s ‘Bimbo’, Burl Ives’ ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’ and Danny Kaye’s ‘Little White Duck’.

My musical world exploded into life when I went to secondary school.

I’d chosen a school in a town outside the city, which meant being bussed in with a bunch of other local kids. We were herded onto a scabby old, white mini-bus, with a snarkastic driver who tended to be either overly friendly or overly mean, but the journeys had one HUGE redeeming feature, which quite made them a favourite part of my day. The radio.

Tuned for the first time in my LIFE to something beyond the realms of the classical, 103.2 Power FM gave me my first taste of what I’d been missing, and just what depths of wonder there were to explore. Chaka Demus and Pliers ‘Twist and Shout’, D:Ream ‘Things can only get better’, UB40 ‘(I can’t help) Falling In Love With You’, not to mention Rednex, who I can probably hold fully responsible for my ongoing love of countryish music, since then broadened to include such gorgeousness as Bill Monroe, Rascal Flatts and Blake Shelton

I remember with absolute delight my very first tape.

It was given to me for my birthday by neighbours over the road. It was Robson & Jerome’s version of Unchained Melody, with B sides of ‘I believe’ and ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’ (so deeply ingrained in my mind that I didn’t even look it up to check the B sides – I’m probably right, and if not, well it was 18 years ago…). I can’t remember how, but I got a tape player, and discovered, to my delight and awe, that I too, could get Power FM tuned in, directly into my bedroom and began listening at home, ignoring repeated shouts to “Turn that horrible noise down!” as often as I could.

I then discovered (oh sweet day) that a store nearby actually SOLD the music I’d heard on the radio (yes, I was *that* sheltered). My pocket-money immediately became a hugely important deal, and I even began forgoing my weekly Beano comic to buy tapes and tapes…and then I discovered CDs, back when a single was still 99p. To my shame, I can’t remember my first single. Or my first album.

Buying blank tapes and sitting hunched over the radio waiting for my favourite songs to come on, with my finger hovering, poised, over ‘Play’ and ‘Record’ was a massive pastime for me. The irritating DJ or radio jingle forever intertwined with the intro and outro, the missing first three seconds when my attention span had waned.

I developed some serious musical crushes, my ears, mind and soul being touched in ways I’d never felt before – thoughts and emotions expressed in ways I’d never considered possible. I became a cray-cray fan of such acts as Robbie Williams, Alisha’s Attic and All Saints.

And gradually the radio became my companion.

I branched out, finding new stations which weren’t all pop. I discovered rock, house, trance, dance, disco, and later on, music from generations slightly before my own, which is where I feel my musical soul now lives, courtesy of my new-found favourite radio station – 106 Jack FM. They play music from about early in my own musical introduction back to a generation or so before my time, mixed with a few newer tracks for good measure – Aerosmith, Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Edmunds, Faith No More, Queen, Reef, ELO, T-Rex, Tommy James and the Shondells …. But even though it’s my favourite, I can’t stay faithful – my car (which is my ‘Radio Place’) has an old-fashioned stereo/tape player, with a different station (yes, including Classic FM – shh!) programmed into each of its five buttons.

(Small Victory – takes a while to get going; if you want to skip straight to the Good Stuff, head to 2:22 for a guitar riff which just *does things* to me)

In spite of that, my musical ‘old soul’ still has to resort to the not-the-radio resource of YouTube to supply such gorgeousness as The Andrews Sisters, The Beach Boys, Elvis, Flanders and Swann; usually with one or two tracks hitting my ‘favourites’ list on YouTube, as opposed to loving everything the band produced, as in the heyday of First Discovering Music.

But it’s not the same. YouTube is cold and clinical, and sometimes highly irritating (although everything’s ‘on tap’). The DJs on Jack FM have become my pals – I know the ins and outs of their public personas. I follow their news. I even follow the station on Twitter and Facebook. I recognize their voices. I dance in my car to their music choices, and I love it.

The world of music has become an outlet – I can use music to describe how I feel far better than I can use words. Music speaks to the soul rather than the intellect, and since my very first introduction, I knew that radio and I would get along, though it’s definitely moved up in status over the years from ‘companion’ to ‘Forever Friend’. Thank you Radio, for giving me so much.

About the Author:

Lizzi Rogers is a non-professional blogger over at Considerings. Her aim is to Think Deeply, Tell Truths and Actively Seek the Good in life. Creator of the weekend-long ‘Ten Things of Thankful’ hop, she blogs about her thoughts, her world and being a member of The Invisible Moms Club. She finds that when she runs out of words, music can be used to speak for her, and if she had to lose four of her five senses, would keep her hearing, for the idea of a world without music would be far too desolate to contemplate.”

You can follow her on Twitter: @LRConsiderer and on Facebook