Raised on the Radio

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

hard days hard nights review


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Ever wish you were a concert promoter?

I know I wish it EVERY. DAY.

I usually write about music here, and everything else over at my other site. But today I wrote a book review for an amazing story over on JenKehl.com you HAVE to read it!

He even has an insider view on Sly and the Family Stone, I wish I read his perspective before I wrote my review on the boxed set.

The story of Pat DiCesare, Pittsburgh legend, and their first concert promoter. You don’t want to miss this story!

Hard Days, Hard Nights: Stories From Pittsburgh’s First Concert Promoter

hard days hard nights review


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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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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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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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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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Cover Songs, Uncovered

cover songs

Have you ever heard a song that sounded so familiar you knew you’d heard it before, but it was now somehow different?

Yeah, it was probably a cover.

In the 1960’s, laws against taking a song and changing it to fit your style was common practice.  Chuck Berry and many more artists saw their classic tunes suddenly transformed into Pop Tunes performed by artists that just couldn’t meet the standards of the originals.  And, to make matters worse, there were no laws against doing it!  So, the original artist found himself listening to someone else performing their work, and reaping huge profits, without sharing a dime with the originals.

Doesn’t quite seem right, does it?

Recently, there have been accusations of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” taking from an older Marvin Gaye song.  And, Katy Perry’s “Roar” has been accused of stealing from Sara Bareilles’ song “Brave.”  Is this intentional “stealing”, or is it accidental copying by over zealous record producers?  You be the judge.

Now, I’m not including times when performers are actually honoring the original performers.  Tribute shows, such as the Beatles 50th Anniversary special, are immune from legal action.  If they weren’t, both Katy Perry’s version of “Yesterday” and Imagine Dragons rendition of “Revolution” would be cause for the performers to be incarcerated for pre-meditated butchery.  These were unfortunate in that in their attempt to honor, they demonstrated weaknesses of their own.

Still, there have been some worthy covers over the years.  Let’s look at some of them!

“The House of the Rising Sun” had originally been recorded in 1934, and had been covered many times by artists such as Roy Acuff, Woody Guthrie, Nina Simone, The Animals, and several others (including sadly, Dolly Parton).  Still, this version by the one hit wonder band, Frijid Pink, brings about a power to the song not demonstrated by others.

Frijid Pink  “House Of The Rising Sun”

 

Since I brought up the Beatles earlier, let’s talk about them a minute.  Many have attempted Beatles tunes.  In fact, Roberta Flack and others have even devoted full albums to their music.  None have ever done well on the charts as the Beatles are somewhat “untouchable” in the way they put it all together.  One man succeeded for many years in bridging this gap as he did the songs his way, instead of trying to duplicate.  His roaring acoustic guitar and rough vocal deliveries paved the way for success.  The man, Richie Havens.

Richie Havens  “Here Comes The Sun”

Marvin Gaye’s history is far and wide.  His ability to transform a song into a story that engulfed your senses and intensify your emotions is legendary.  Still, two performers have done songs by him and been very successful.  The first would be successful in whatever she tried.  Her voice is signature and her career one of the longest in music.  Here’s Gladys Knight & The Pips.

Gladys Knight & The Pips  “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”

Another artist completely surprised the listeners of the 80’s.  Orange and red hair, clothing combinations that snubbed the designers of the day, and a voice that sounded more like a New York nasal tone than a singing voice stunned the radio audiences of the day with this Marvin Gaye hit.  Here’s Cyndi Lauper.

Cyndi Lauper  “What’s Going On”

Now, for our last selection.  The question is, “Who’s the real original?”  Seems like David Crosby (of Crosby, Stills & Nash) had this boat in Florida. One weekend, Paul Kantner of the Jefferson Airplane came by for a visit.  While there, Kantner, Crosby and Stephen Stills sat down and wrote the song “Wooden Ships.”  It was done by both groups on albums that came out at almost the same time.  So, who actually recorded it first?  We’ll leave that one for the lawyers to figure out.  Here’s the CSN version.

Crosby, Stills & Nash  “Wooden Ships”

So, until you hear your favorite song done by someone who needs to keep their hands off of it, enjoy the music!

Ciao!

About the Author:

Having grown up during the 50′s & 60′s, Rich Rumple 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.