MONDAY’S MUSIC MOVES ME: A Kaleidoscope of Color Songs – The Rainbow Sherbet Edition

Wow, it is good to be back! I have been away from blogging since just after Thanksgiving. Life got a little crazy during December and that craziness carried over into this new year so my “holiday break” turned into an 8-week break! Honestly, the theme for Monday’s Music Moves Me (#4M) was ‘Christmas Holiday Music’ for the entire month of December and I wasn’t feeling any kind of holiday spirit so I decided to blow off the whole month. And then I apparently wasn’t ready for the break to be over so I skipped out on yet another Battle of the Bands this month and three weeks of #4M.

I was actually planning on posting last Monday because I LOVED the theme that our Spotlight Dancer, Mary from Jingle Jangle Jungle, came up with: SONGS WITH COLOR IN THE TITLE. I actually started working on it a little bit last month but I wasn’t quite finished.

The theme really excited me because I’m all about color. Those of you who know me surely agree. It’s no secret…my clothes, my house, me décor…I love color! So even though I missed last Monday’s 4M I was going to use today’s Freebie theme to post my Color Songs.

Now there are a zillion songs with a color in the title so I started out just putting together a playlist with my favorite colorful songs… but “wasn’t quite finished” was a serious understatement! When I began compiling a list of the color songs that I’m particularly fond of, it ended up being a ton of songs that would’ve yielded a real mother of a playlist — one way way too long for a single #4M post (and you all know I typically do long playlists and posts normally so for me to say it was too long, you know it has to be a monster list!)

So… I have decided to do a series: A KALEIDOSCOPE OF COLOR SONGS. The series will post over the next several Freebie weeks. Each post will focus on a specific color (or colors) until I’ve exhausted my list. I’m not yet sure how many weeks it will be. We’ll find out together.

Today my KALEIDOSCOPE OF COLOR SONGS is the Rainbow Sherbet Edition, a playlist featuring songs with the colors Orange, Green and Pink in the titles. Here is my playlist followed by some information and interesting facts about each of the songs. Hope you all enjoy!

THE RAINBOW SHERBET PLAYLIST

ORANGE

Orange Crush by R.E.M. – “Orange Crush” is a song by the American alternative rock band R.E.M. It was released as the first single from the band’s sixth studio album, Green, in 1988. It was not commercially released in the U.S. despite reaching number one as a promotional single on both the Mainstream and Modern Rock Tracks (where, at the time, it had the record for longest stay at number one with eight weeks, beating U2). It peaked at number 28 on the UK Singles Chart, making it the band’s then-highest chart hit in Britain, where they promoted the song by making their debut appearance on Top of the Pops.

Orange Crush was an orange flavored soft drink. In this case, though, it was meant to refer to Agent Orange, a chemical manufactured by Monsanto Corporation and Dow Chemical used by the US to defoliate the Vietnamese jungle during the Vietnam War. US military personnel exposed to it developed cancer years later and some of their children had birth defects. The extreme lyrical dissonance in the song meant that most people completely misinterpreted the song, including Top Of The Pops host Simon Parkin, who remarked on camera after R.E.M. performed the song on the British TV show, “Mmm, great on a summer’s day. That’s Orange Crush.”

The song does not refer to any single Vietnam-related experience for lead singer Michael Stipe, but simply that he lived in that era of American history. He wrote in Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011:

“[The song is] a composite and fictional narrative in the first person, drawn from different stories I heard growing up around Army bases. This song is about the Vietnam War and the impact on soldiers returning to a country that wrongly blamed them for the war.”

As a guest on the late-night show Last Call with Carson Daly, Michael Stipe explained that the song was about a young American football player leaving the comforts of home for the war in Vietnam.

Also, Stipe opened the song during The Green World Tour by singing the famous U.S. Army recruiting slogan jingle, “Be all you can be… in the Army.” Stipe’s father served in the Vietnam War in the helicopter corps.

The drill sergeant heard in the background during the middle of the song is just an imitation by Stipe. In the traditional Michael Stipe way, the words he says during the imitation are complete nonsense. By the way, this was not the first R.E.M. song to deal with the Vietnam War. That distinction goes to “Body Count,” an early unreleased song that they played live many times.

The song’s meaning keeps changing for R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck. He wrote in the In Time liner notes:

“I must have played this song onstage over three hundred times, and I still don’t know what the f*** it’s about. The funny thing is, every time I play it, it means something different to me, and I find myself moved emotionally.”

The video for the song, directed by Matt Mahurin, won the band its first VMA, for Best Post-Modern Video. And that surprised me. Frankly, I think the music video is difficult to interpret and I’m not really getting the whole Agent Orange reference at all. I was going to include that video in my playlist but instead chose one that I think conveys what the song is about so much better. It’s a documented video history of the chemical dump that took place in Vietnam when our guys were there serving the very country that just happened to be spreading poison on and around them at the same time. To see the streams and clouds of chemical raining down from the planes is quite chilling, knowing what we know now. In any case, you can see the official music video here if you want. If you have the time, check them both out and let me know what you think of the official award-winning video. Which one more depicts the song’s meaning and message, do you think?

GREEN

Green Grass & High Tides by The Outlaws – “Green Grass and High Tides” is a song by the Southern rock band Outlaws. It is the tenth and final track on the band’s debut album, Outlaws. The song is one of their best known, and has received extensive play on album-oriented radio stations, although it was never released as a single. The song is notable for having two extended guitar solos that stretch the song to nearly 10 minutes.

Outlaws founding member Hughie Thomasson said:

I wrote that song in St Augustine, Florida. We went to a cookout on the beach and everybody forgot to bring their guitars. I was standing by the ocean and there was a breeze and the words kept coming to me. It’s about all the rock stars I liked that died had come back and were playing a show just for me. Like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. And eventually more of course.

Henry Paul told Songfacts that this song is not about marijuana, but about deceased rock and roll luminaries, and the title, he says, was taken from the 1966 “Best Of” collection by the Rolling Stones called Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass):

“From what I gather, there was an album out, the best of The Rolling Stones, called High Tides and Green Grass. That was the name of the Rolling Stones’ greatest hits – this is like 1966 – and I think it was a manifestation of that title turned in reverse, ‘Green Grass and High Tides.’ I know that much. And I know that it was a song written for rock and roll illuminaries, from Janis Joplin to Jimi Hendrix, and it had nothing to do with marijuana. But it had to do with, I think, a specific person’s [Thomasson’s] lyrical look at rock and roll legends. ‘As kings and queens bow and play for you.’ It’s about Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. ‘Castles of stone, soul and glory.’ A lot of it is just sort of a collage of words that really don’t have all that much to do with anything, they just fit and sounded right. But I have to say it’s one of my favorite lyrics. My songwriting is more Steinbeck, really rooted in accuracy and reality; this is definitely Alice In Wonderland. It’s the whole ‘White Rabbit.’ It’s sort of like one of those magic lyrical moments that will forever be mysteriously, unclearly conceived.”

“Green Grass and High Tides” was the usual show closer for the Outlaws and the 20 minute+ version can be found on the concert album Bring It Back Alive (1978). The song is mentioned in Molly Hatchet’s song “Gator Country”, on Molly Hatchet (1978), and was featured on the Harley Davidson Road Songs album in 1995. The song also featured as a tribute to the recently departed from Lynyrd Skynyrd. The intro was: “We’d like to take a minute to remember some very good friends of ours, and friends of yours–the Lynyrd Skynyrd Band.”

I love this song! And I do remember that it was in the Top 3 of a radio broadcast I was listening to featuring the Top 100 songs of 1979. Such a good year…

Another great green song:

Green River by Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Green River” is a song by American rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival. The song was written by John Fogerty and was released as a single in July 1969, one month before the album of the same name was released. The song charted at #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100, #5 on Canada’s RPM and #19 on UK Singles.

This song was written by group leader John Fogerty, who explained in his Storytellers special:

“Green River is really about this place where I used to go as a kid on Putah Creek, near Winters, California. I went there with my family every year until I was ten. Lot of happy memories there. I learned how to swim there. There was a rope hanging from the tree. Certainly dragonflies, bullfrogs. There was a little cabin we would stay in owned by a descendant of Buffalo Bill Cody. That’s the reference in the song to Cody Jr. [“Up at Cody’s camp I spent my days…”]

The actual specific reference, Green River, I got from a soda pop-syrup label. You used to be able to go into a soda fountain, and they had these bottles of flavored syrup. My flavor was called Green River. It was green, lime flavored, and they would empty some out over some ice and pour some of that soda water on it, and you had yourself a Green River.”

John Fogerty has said that Green River is his favorite Creedence Clearwater Revival album, in part because it sounds like the ’50s albums by the likes of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash that came out of Sun Records in Memphis.

And I love this lyric video because sometimes CCR’s lyrics are hard to understand! (How many of you thought they were singing “There’s a bathroom on the right” in the song “Bad Moon Rising”?)

Green Tambourine by the Lemon Pipers – “Green Tambourine” is a song about busking (street performance and the act of performing in public places for gratuities), written and composed by Paul Leka (who also produced it) and Shelley Pinz. It was the biggest hit by the 1960s Ohio-based rock group The Lemon Pipers, as well as the title track of their debut album, Green Tambourine. The song was one of the first bubblegum pop chart-toppers.

Released toward the end of 1967, it spent 13 weeks on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 1 on February 3, 1968, and sold over a million copies. The record remained on the chart for three months. It was also the first U.S. number-one hit for the Buddah label. The Lemon Pipers never repeated this success, though their “Rice Is Nice” and “Jelly Jungle”, both also written by Leka and Pinz, made the charts in 1968.

The song’s lyricist, Rochelle “Shelley” Pinz (1943–2004) was a writer at the Brill Building, working with Leka. She said:

In early Spring, 1966, while standing in front of the Brill Building I watched a man holding a tambourine begging for money. I wrote a poem about him and called the poem, ‘Green Tambourine.’ I added it to my lyric collection…. Sometimes I wonder what happened to the man in front of the Brill Building, holding a tambourine begging for money. I remember writing the lyric, ‘watch the jingle jangle start to shine, reflections of the music that is mine. When you toss a coin you’ll hear it sing. Now listen while I play my Green Tambourine’ as if it were yesterday. In the 60s, on the streets between Seventh Avenue and Broadway there was a magic one could only imagine.

The song tells the story of a street musician pleading for someone to give him money. In exchange he offers to play his green tambourine. The song’s instrumentation contains the titular tambourine as well as an electric sitar, a frequent signature of the so-called “psychedelic sound.” Another hook is the heavy, psychedelic tape echo applied to the word “play” in each chorus and at the end, fading into a drumroll (“Listen while I play play play play play play play my green tambourine”). The musical arrangement also features sweeping orchestrated strings and the distinctive vibraslap percussion instrument. While the Lemon Pipers played on the record, producer and joint author-composer Leka hired a string section to accompany the band to add extra depth to the already psychedelic arrangement.

Green-Eyed Lady by Sugarloaf – “Green-Eyed Lady” is a popular single by the 1970s rock band Sugarloaf. Written by band member Jerry Corbetta along with J.C. Phillips and David Riordan, the song was featured on the band’s debut album, Sugarloaf, and was the band’s first single. It peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970 and was RPM Magazine‘s number one single for two weeks. It remains the band’s most popular song, according to the Last.fm rankings. It has been featured on dozens of compilation albums.

Since “Green-Eyed Lady” gets almost daily play on US radio stations to this day and none of their other songs do, many will be surprised to know that Sugarloaf is not a one-hit wonder; their other hit is “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” from 1975 at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Green-Eyed Lady,” at #3, is their best-known (and somewhat overplayed) single.

One of the reasons that the hook is so catchy is that it’s based on a piece of a scale exercise that frontman Jerry Corbetta found in a book.

Jerry Corbetta played the organ solo on this track in addition to singing lead. He played it in the style of jazz musician Jimmy Smith, his idol. In the single version, which is all you’ll hear on the radio and also in most compilation albums, the song length is about three and a half minutes. The album version is extended to seven minutes for Corbetta’s lengthy – but dazzling – organ solo. BTW, the version in my playlist here is the extended album version so you can experience Jerry’s dazzling organ solo. You’re welcome. 🙂

“Green-Eyed Lady” actually gave rise to that other hit for the band. Four years later, Sugarloaf described the process of recording the song and selling it to the recording industry (namely the failed attempt to get CBS Records to distribute the record) in its song “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You,” which also became a hit. (That’s a good one too. Check it out if you haven’t heard it).

Who is the green-eyed lady? According to lead singer Jerry Corbetta, it was his girlfriend at the time, Kathy, who his bandmates referred to as the green-eyed lady. He wrote the song with producer J.C. Phillips and a songwriter named David Riordan.

Fun Facts: The band was originally called “Chocolate Hair” but after getting signed to a record label, they had to change their name because managers were nervous about the potentially racist interpretation of that name (that and the name would have permanently branded them as ’60s psychedelics). They chose “Sugarloaf” after a local Colorado ski resort.

Sugarloaf was formed from the remains of the band The Moonrakers, with five members of that group carried over. Interestingly, “Moonraker” doesn’t just refer to a James Bond film, but also to a nickname for people from Wiltshire in South West Country England. The story goes that the people there were discovered running a rake through a pond at night, trying to retrieve treasure. When a revenue man asked what they were up to, their excuse was that they were trying to retrieve a wheel of cheese from the pond (the reflection of the full moon). The revenue guy walked off chuckling at their simple-mindedness, and the villagers didn’t have to pay taxes.

Green Onions by Booker T. & the MGs – “Green Onions” is an instrumental composition recorded in 1962 by Booker T. & the M.G.’s. Described as “one of the most popular instrumental rock and soul songs ever”, the tune is twelve-bar blues with a rippling Hammond M3 organ line by Booker T. Jones that he wrote when he was just 17. The Hammond organ was invented in 1934 by Laurens Hammond. Its mournful sound made it the instrument of choice for military chapels, but then in the 1960s the rockers got wind of it and the device became a standard keyboard instrument for jazz, blues, rock and gospel music.

Booker T. & the MG’s were the house band for the Memphis soul music label Stax Records. They recorded with many of the Stax artists, including Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, and Isaac Hayes, but they also recorded their own material between sessions.

The group was named after the British MG sports cars, but when the company expressed disapproval, they claimed the initials as “Memphis Group.” Members of the band were Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Al Jackson, and Lewie Steinberg (who was replaced in 1964 by Donald “Duck” Dunn). Jackson was killed in 1975, but the remaining members have gotten together often to play various events, including the “Bobfest” Bob Dylan tribute concert in 1992, and Neil Young’s 1993 tour. The band was integrated, which was unusual at the time in Memphis: Three members were black, and one was white (Cropper). When Martin Luther King Jr. was shot in Memphis in 1968, igniting already high racial tensions, they had two white and two black members.

In a Songfacts interview with Booker T. Jones, he credited the success of the song to its “apparent simplicity.” Said Jones: “‘Green Onions’ appears to be a simple song, but every time I play it I have to pay attention. I have to remember, and school myself on how the notes go, because it’s just not as simple as it sounds.”

The band developed this song while they were waiting for rockabilly singer Billy Lee Riley (a Sun artist) to show up for a session. In an interview with National Public Radio (NPR), Booker T. Jones said: “That happened as something of an accident. We used the time to record a Blues which we called ‘Behave Yourself,’ and I played it on a Hammond M3 organ. Jim Stewart, the owner, was the engineer and he really liked it and wanted to put it out as a record. We all agreed on that and Jim told us that we needed something to record as a B-side, since we couldn’t have a one-sided record. One of the tunes I had been playing on piano we tried on the Hammond organ so that the record would have organ on both sides and that turned out to be ‘Green Onions.'”

As the guys were calling it a night after recording this song, Jim Stewart asked them to listen to what he’d recorded on one particular take. They listened but weren’t as impressed as Jim, who asked: “If we released this as a record, what would you want to call it?” “Green Onions,” was Booker T. Jones’ reply. “Why ‘Green Onions'” Jim asked. Booker T: “Because that is the nastiest thing I can think of and it’s something you throw away.” Lol.

(Another story, according to guitarist Steve Cropper: the title is not a marijuana reference; rather, the track is named after the Green Badger’s cat, Green Onions, whose way of walking inspired the riff).

The group’s guitarist Steve Cropper brought this song to the Memphis radio station WLOK the day after they recorded it. The morning DJ, Rueben Washington, was a friend of Cropper’s, and put the song on his turntable to hear off-air. After listening to just part of the song, he cut off the record that was on air and started playing “Green Onions” for his listeners. Says Cropper: “He played it four or five times in a row. We were dancing around the control room and believe it or not, the phone lines lit up. I guess we had the whole town dancing that morning.”

The response to the song proved Cropper’s point that it should be the A-side of the single instead of “Behave Yourself,” and subsequent singles were pressed with the sides flipped.

“Green Onions” entered the Billboard Hot 100 the week ending August 11, 1962, and peaked at No. 3 the week ending September 29, 1962. The single also made it to No. 1 on the R&B singles chart, for four non-consecutive weeks, an unusual occurrence in that it fell in and out of top spot three times. It first appeared on the UK Singles Chart on December 15, 1979: the song was popular in dance clubs, but didn’t become a chart hit until 1979, when it was used in the movie Quadrophenia. (A character played by Sting danced to it in the movie). It peaked at No. 7 on January 26, 1980, and stayed on the chart for 12 weeks.

This song provides broadcasters with a wonderful instrumental bed which they can talk over or leave on its own without losing the audience. The NPR program Fresh Air uses it to great effect, and the song has also appeared in a number of films and TV shows, as well as in TV commercials for Mercedes.

As for its legacy, in 1999, “Green Onions” was given a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. In 2012, it was added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, a list of “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important” American sound recordings.

FUN FACT: According to Q magazine, a few years after this was released, Georgie Fame met Booker T and told him that he thought the Hammond sound on this song was amazing and asked him what the levers on the organ were set to. Apparently Booker T had been unaware that the settings could be changed and he replied, “What, those things move?” LOL!

The video in my playlist features movie clips of actors and actresses dancing to this very cool song. They include:

Marilyn Monroe, Eli, Wallach, Thelma Ritter, Clark Gable (The Misfits 1961)

Sophia Loren (It Started in Naples 1960)

Jayne Mansfield (Dog Eat Dog! 1964)

Natalie Wood (Gypsy 1962)

Kim Novak, William Holden (Picnic 1955)

Anita Ekberg (La Dolce Vita 1960)

Ann-Margret (The Swinger 1966)

Gina Lollobrigida, Rock Hudson (Come September 1961)

Romy Schneider, Jack Lemmon (Good Neighbor Sam 1964)

Brigitte Bardot (Come Dance With Me! 1959)

Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1966)

Jill St. John (The Oscar 1966)

Mamie Van Doren (Untamed Youth 1957)

Shirley MacLaine, Gene Kelly (What a Way to Go! 1964)

Cyd Charisse, Robert Taylor (Party Girl 1958)

Raquel Welch (Flareup 1969)

PINK

Pink by Aerosmith – “Pink” is a song by American rock band Aerosmith. It was written by Steven Tyler and professional songwriters Richie Supa and Glen Ballard. It was released as the third major single from Nine Lives in 1997.

The song reached No. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 38 in the United Kingdom, and No. 19 in Latvia. It also topped the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart for four weeks. The band re-released the song in the United Kingdom in 1999. The re-released version did much better, reaching No. 13.

The song is highlighted by a harmonica performance by Steven Tyler at the beginning, as well as a strong bass rhythm throughout the song, and a mix of acoustic guitars and jangling electric guitars throughout the verses.

Many of the lines in the verses start with the word “pink” (e.g. “Pink it’s my new obsession “, “Pink it’s not even a question”, “Pink on the lips of your lover”). The song is also highly suggestive, in that the origin of the fascination with pink stems from the admiration of a woman’s reproductive organs, particularly the inner side of the outer lips – the “pink in the middle” – and also the man’s penis – “I wanna wrap you in rubber” and “my favorite crayon”.

Regarding this song (and other matters), Steven Tyler was quoted as saying, “The only difference between pink and purple is the grip.”

The music video for the song used CGI to morph characters’ faces to other bodies. A variety of random characters mixed in with band members moving towards the camera, morphing into different characters in the process (e.g., Joe Perry as a centaur, Brad Whitford as a little boy, Steven Tyler as a skeleton, and a boy dressed as the Easter Bunny). It was directed by Doug Nichol.

Two versions of the music video exist. There are noticeable differences in each version. In the uncensored version, for example, there is a woman dressed in a blue jumpsuit walking towards the camera. For a brief second, the top, unzipped portion of the jumpsuit is pulled away, revealing her right breast. There is another instance where a woman’s breasts are briefly fully revealed when a woman, painted blue and green, does a pirouette.

The uncensored version caused minor controversy and MTV asked Nichol to censor the video for daytime airings. As a result, the edited version censored the pirouette scene. The clean version also shows Tyler and Perry presented as a two-headed man and only the coverup portion of the breast reveal scene (above) is present.

The video won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Rock Video in 1998. Additionally, in 1999, the song won a Grammy for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal. It was the fourth time Aerosmith won that award; Grammy voters didn’t warm to the band until the ’90s, when they gave them the trophy for “Janie’s Got a Gun.”

The song is a fan favorite and a live gem, and remains one of the only songs from Nine Lives consistently played on Aerosmith tours to this day.

Pink Houses by John Mellencamp – “Pink Houses” was released on John Mellencamp’s 1983 album Uh-Huh on Riva Records. It reached #8 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in early 1984. “Pink Houses” was ranked #439 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. (In case you’re interested in more John Mellencamp, check out my Artist Spotlight on John Cougar Mellencamp that I did for a 4M post last year).

Recorded in a farmhouse in Brownstown, Indiana, the song was inspired when Mellencamp was driving along an overpass on the way home to Bloomington, Indiana from the Indianapolis airport. There was an old black man sitting outside his little pink shotgun house with his cat in his arms, completely unperturbed by the traffic speeding along the highway in his front yard. “He waved, and I waved back,” Mellencamp said in an interview with Rolling Stone. “That’s how ‘Pink Houses’ started.”

The song also served as a scathing critique of Yuppies and Reaganomics and the overall “Greed is good” atmosphere of the time.

Its Use in Politics: In 2004, the song was played at events for Senator John Edwards’ presidential campaign. The song was also used at events for Edwards’ 2008 presidential campaign.

“Pink Houses” along with “Our Country” was played by Senator John McCain at political events for his 2008 presidential campaign. Mellencamp contacted the McCain campaign pointing out Mellencamp’s support for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and questioning McCain’s use of his music; in response, the McCain campaign ceased using Mellencamp’s songs.

In January 2009, Mellencamp played “Pink Houses” at We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.

In 2010, “Pink Houses” was used by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) at events opposing same-sex marriage. At Mellencamp’s instruction, his publicist sent a cease and desist letter to NOM stating “that Mr. Mellencamp’s views on same sex marriage and equal rights for people of all sexual orientations are at odds with NOM’s stated agenda” and requesting that NOM “find music from a source more in harmony with your views than Mr. Mellencamp in the future.”  Love it!

Pink Cadillac by Bruce Springsteen – “Pink Cadillac” is a song by Bruce Springsteen released as the non-album B-side of “Dancing in the Dark” in 1984. The song did not appear on any album until 1998 when it was included on Tracks, a collection of Springsteen outtakes.

The song received moderate airplay on album-oriented rock radio, appearing on the Billboard Top Tracks chart for 14 weeks, peaking at number 27. The song was also a prominent concert number during Springsteen’s 1984-85 Born in the U.S.A. Tour.

Springsteen put this together after most of the crew had left the recording session. He started strumming the riff on an acoustic guitar, put down the basic track, and recorded it with the band in the morning.

Many Springsteen songs make references to cars. This is his second song with “Cadillac” in the title, the first was “Cadillac Ranch.” Like Prince’s “Little Red Corvette”, “Pink Cadillac” follows the tradition of the Wilson Pickett R&B classic “Mustang Sally” in using automobile travel as a metaphor for sexual activity, particularly as sung by Springsteen as the lyric: “I love you for your pink Cadillac” was originally a veiled pudendum reference. Springsteen, in fact, vetoed the first attempt by a female singer to release a version of “Pink Cadillac”, that being Bette Midler in 1983. However, “Pink Cadillac” had its highest profile incarnation via an R&B interpretation by Natalie Cole, which became a top-ten single in 1988.

FUN FACT: In 2001, AOL would not let users quote the song in a Springsteen discussion group because they felt the lyrics were too suggestive. One of the offending lines was “My love is bigger than a Honda, yeah it’s bigger than a Subaru.”  What??!

The Pink Panther Theme by Henry Mancini – “The Pink Panther Theme” is an instrumental composition by Henry Mancini written as the theme for the 1963 film The Pink Panther and subsequently nominated for the 1964 Academy Award for Best Original Score. The eponymous cartoon character created for the film’s opening credits by David DePatie and Friz Freleng was animated in time to the tune. The tenor saxophone solo was played by Plas Johnson.

The song was included on the film’s soundtrack album and issued as a single (in the United States) in 1964; the single reached the Top 10 on the U.S. Billboard adult contemporary chart and won three Grammy Awards.

Various recordings of the composition appeared in the opening credits of all The Pink Panther films except A Shot in the Dark and Inspector Clouseau. It has also been used in countless works in which the animated Pink Panther appears.

The video in the playlist is a fabulous live performance, not sure of the date or location, and it’s worth watching. The soloists are Plas Johnson on sax, Gus Bivona and Bill Green on flute, and Frank Capp on Drums. Pete and Conte Candoli, John Audino, Carl Fontana, Med Flory, etc… It is the Terry Gibbs Band with of course Henry Mancini on the piano.

I was notified that it can’t be viewed within my playlist so you’ll have to click into YouTube to watch it via this link. Imagine sitting in the audience watching. The sax blows me away….and I love the guy playing the Triangle!

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What did you think of these colorful songs? Do you have any favorites here? How about other songs that contain either Orange, Green or Pink in the title?

See you for the next Freebie theme week when I’ll present another Kaleidoscope of Color Songs!

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by JAmerican Spice, Stacy Uncorked and Curious as a Cathy.  Be sure to stop by the hosts and visit the other participants.

 

 

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Battle of the Bands RESULTS: Spooky by Classic IV

Hope all of you had a fabulous Thanksgiving and fun celebrating the holiday weekend with family and friends. It was a crazy busy time here for me with a zillion dogs boarding for the holiday and in fact I completely forgot to post the battle results so my apologies for being so tardy.

This is going to be short and sweet: my computer is acting up and I have to take it in to clear off whatever is making it stall and move so sluggishly. I’m getting irritated seeing “Not Responding” in every single program, and productivity is only a pipe-dream at this point.

Anyway, this month’s battle featured the Classics IV classic “Spooky” with Joan Osborne and Deana Martin both vying for the win.

JOAN OSBORNE steamrolled Deana Martin. Voters most definitely preferred Osborne’s smoky vocal style over Deana’s swing approach, myself included. I liked Deana’s version and enjoyed it very much. Her style set a whole new tone for the song, whereas I think Joan’s version is more fitting for the overall context of “Spooky.”

FINAL TALLY:

JOAN OSBORNE – 10 votes

DEANA MARTIN – 3 votes 

Another female vocal version that I considered using in this battle was a cover by Dusty Springfield. For those not familiar with Dusty, here’s the opening paragraph from her Wikipedia bio page:

Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien, OBE (16 April 1939 – 2 March 1999), professionally known as Dusty Springfield, was an English pop singer and record producer whose career extended from the late 1950s to the 1990s. With her distinctive sensual mezzo-soprano sound, she was an important blue-eyed soul singer and at her peak was one of the most successful British female performers, with six top 20 singles on the US Billboard Hot 100 and sixteen on the UK Singles Chart from 1963 to 1989. She is a member of the US Rock and Roll and UK Music Halls of Fame. International polls have named Springfield among the best female rock artists of all time. Her image, supported by a peroxide blonde bouffant hairstyle, evening gowns, and heavy make-up, as well as her flamboyant performances made her an icon of the Swinging Sixties.

To close this battle out, here is another fine cover of the classic “Spooky”. I really like the video of this particular performance: the set is really cool, love the colors and the overall style of the time period. I don’t know the date of this recording or the setting but I think you’ll like it. Here is Dusty Springfield’s version:

 

As always, thanks for participating in my battle. See you next month on December 15th for the final battle of 2017. Until then, rock on…

 

 

Another Rock Legend Gone: AC/DC’s guitarist and co-founder Malcolm Young dead at 64

photo credit: Martyn Goodacre/Hulton Archive

Upon hearing the news about the passing of the driving force behind one of my very favorite rock bands, AC/DC guitarist and co-founder Malcolm Young, I was immediately taken back to those days when my 8-track player would blast out countless songs by this Australian band that played an important and starring role in the soundtrack of my life.

I put together a tribute playlist of my favorite AC/DC songs. And I have to wonder: what happens to the band now? Sharing with you below the two articles that I read tonight. They left me begging the question, is it over for AC/DC?

While you read the folowing articles about the great Malcolm Young, enjoy these incredible songs by one of the most influential bands that helped to shape my musical ear. And then tell me,  How would you answer the question?

 

From Rolling Stone, the news article by Daniel Kreps announcing the death of AC/DC’s Malcolm Young:

Malcolm Young, AC/DC Guitarist and Co-Founder, Dead at 64

Subhead: Musician who co-founded Australian rock legends in 1973 with brother Angus Young dies following battle with dementia

Malcolm Young, guitarist and co-founder of AC/DC, died Saturday at the age of 64. Young had been suffering with dementia for the past three years, an illness that forced his retirement from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted band he founded with his brother Angus Young in 1973.

“Today it is with deep heartfelt sadness that AC/DC has to announce the passing of Malcolm Young,” AC/DC wrote in a statement.

“Malcolm, along with Angus, was the founder and creator of AC/DC. With enormous dedication and commitment he was the driving force behind the band. As a guitarist, songwriter and visionary he was a perfectionist and a unique man. He always stuck to his guns and did and said exactly what he wanted. He took great pride in all that he endeavored. His loyalty to the fans was unsurpassed.”

Angus Young added, “As his brother it is hard to express in words what he has meant to me during my life, the bond we had was unique and very special. He leaves behind an enormous legacy that will live on forever. Malcolm, job well done.”

The Young brothers lost their older brother George Young, the Easybeats guitarist and AC/DC’s longtime producer, in October at the age of 70.

In an additional statement from Malcolm Young’s family, the band said that Malcolm Young died peacefully Saturday with his family by his side.

“Renowned for his musical prowess, Malcolm was a songwriter, guitarist, performer, producer and visionary who inspired many,” the statement said. “From the outset, he knew what he wanted to achieve and, along with his younger brother, took to the world stage giving their all at every show. Nothing less would do for their fans.”

As rhythm guitarist for the legendary rock band, Malcolm Young served as an indispensable foil to Angus Young’s arena-stuffing riffs. After forming AC/DC in 1973, the Young brothers would be credited as co-writers on every song the band recorded from their 1975 debut High Voltage through 2014’s Rock or Bust. That final album marked AC/DC’s first without Malcolm, who announced in September 2014 that he would permanently leave the band due to dementia.

“We miss Malcolm, obviously,” AC/DC singer Brian Johnson said in July 2014. “He’s a fighter. He’s in [the] hospital, but he’s a fighter. We’ve got our fingers crossed that he’ll get strong again… Stevie, Malcolm’s nephew, was magnificent, but when you’re recording with this thing hanging over you and your work mate isn’t well, it’s difficult. But I’m sure [Malcolm] was rooting for us.”

Malcolm Young last performed live with AC/DC when their tour for 2008’s Black Ice concluded in June 2010 with a concert in Bilbao, Spain.

Malcolm Young, like his older brother George and younger brother Angus, was born in Glasgow, Scotland before the whole Young family immigrated to Sydney, Australia in the early Sixties.

Malcolm and Angus’ first brush with rock stardom came courtesy of their brother George, who found global fame thanks to his band the Easybeats and their song “Friday on My Mind.” Although Malcolm’s two older brothers found success in the music industry, their father still made Malcolm work as a mechanic in a bra factory after leaving school at 15.

“I’ve never felt like a pop star – this is a nine-to-five sort of gig,” Malcolm told Rolling Stone in 2008. “It comes from working in the factories, that world. You don’t forget it.”

In 1973, Malcolm recruited Angus to form a new band, which the brothers named after the “AC/DC” electrical current marker they spotted on their sister’s sewing machine. After a few lineup changes, the Young brothers were introduced to singer Bon Scott by their brother George, who would serve as AC/DC’s producer on their early albums.

Throughout AC/DC’s tenure, Malcolm and Angus Young served as the band’s main creative force, crafting the unmistakable riffs that would make AC/DC one of the biggest bands in music. Together, the brothers would create the music for hits like “Back in Black,” “Hells Bells,” “Highway to Hell,” “Thunderstruck,” “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You),” “You Shook Me All Night Long” and dozens more rock staples.

However, Malcolm’s time in AC/DC was not without strife: A heavy drinker, he briefly left AC/DC in 1988 during the Blow Up Your Video Tour – his only absence from the band up to and until his dementia diagnosis – to go to rehab to curb his drinking problem. After a few months, Malcolm returned to the band and remained sober ever since. “I was not surprised,” George Young said of his younger brother’s sobriety. “When Malcolm puts his mind to something, he does it.”

Reactions to his death:

E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt said in a statement to Rolling Stone, “Malcolm was the essential rhythm guitarist of the world’s greatest working class Hard Rock band. An irreplaceable loss.”

 

Guns N’ Roses’ Slash told Rolling Stone, “Malcolm Young was one of the best ever rhythm guitarists in Rock n Roll. He was a fantastic songwriter and he had a great work ethic too. I toured with AC/DC on their ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ tour. I found Malcolm to be a really cool, down to earth fellow. The entire rock n roll community is heartbroken by his passing.”

 

Eddie Van Halen wrote following Young’s death, “It is a sad day in rock and roll. Malcolm Young was my friend and the heart and soul of AC/DC. I had some of the best times of my life with him on our 1984 European tour. He will be missed and my deepest condolences to his family, bandmates and friends.”

 

Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine, who regarded Malcolm as one of rock’s greatest rhythm guitarists, tweeted Saturday following Young’s death, “I have to go…I am losing it that Malcolm is gone. I hate this…”

 

Kiss’ Paul Stanley added, “The driving engine of AC/DC has died. A tragic end for a sometimes unsung icon. One of the true greats. RIP.”

 

Tom Morello praised Young as “#1 greatest rhythm guitarist in the entire history of rock n roll.”

 

Foo Fighters’ leader Dave Grohl honored Young by writing about how, at age 11, watching a live AC/DC performance from Paris in 1979 in the movie theater was life-changing. “That film … was the first time I lost control to music. The first time I wanted to be in a band. I didn’t want to play my guitar anymore, I wanted to smash it,” Grohl wrote. “Thank you Malcolm, for the songs, and the feel and the cool and the years of losing control to your rock and roll.”

 

The Young brothers and AC/DC were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. With over 110 million albums sold, AC/DC is also the best-selling Australian act of all time.

When Rolling Stone asked the Young brothers in 2008, “Who runs AC/DC?” Malcolm replied, “We both do, because we were there from the start.”

AC/DC's co-founder and guitarist Malcolm Young

“We pay tribute to the unassuming genius of AC/DC’s late Malcolm Young, whose unwavering vision drove the legendary hard-rock band for four decades. Bob King/Getty

Another excellent article appeared on UltimateClassicRock.com. A heartbreaking end to a rock legend.

MALCOLM YOUNG’S FINAL YEARS by Dave Lifton (November 18, 2017)

Even before AC/DC concluded their Black Ice tour on June 28, 2010 in Bilbao, Spain, they were aware that there was a problem with founder Malcolm Young’s health.

As his brother Angus said in November 2014, Malcolm had issues with memory and concentration since before they started work on their 2008 album, but he was still able to participate in the recording and the promotion of the record. “[Malcolm] was still capable of knowing what he wanted to do. I said to him, ‘Do you want to go through with what we’re doing?’ And he said, ‘Shit, yeah.’”

During the tour, which lasted nearly two years, Malcolm “got good help, good medical care,” Angus continued, even though he had to relearn many of the songs he wrote, “which was very strange for him. But he was always a confident guy, and we made it work.”

Out of respect for his privacy, the band kept the truth about his health a secret from the press. In 2012, singer Brian Johnson said that a delay in their next project was because, “One of the boys is a little sick and I can’t say anything, but he’s getting better. He’s doing wonderful. Full recovery fully expected.”

But by April 2014, a few weeks before they were planning to start recording Rock or Bust, word started to leak out that Young’s health had deteriorated to the point where he would have to leave the band. “One of the boys has a debilitating illness, but I don’t want to say too much about it,” Johnson said. “He is very proud and private, a wonderful chap. We’ve been pals for 35 years and I look up to him very much.” Later that day, AC/DC put out a statement confirming that Young was “taking a break” from the band he formed more than 40 years earlier.

They tracked Rock or Bust in Vancouver, with Angus and Malcolm’s nephew Stevie, who filled in for Malcolm in 1988 while he sought treatment for his alcohol addiction. Johnson later admitted that Malcolm’s absence affected the sessions.

“We missed Malcolm, obviously,” he noted. “Stevie was magnificent in his stead, but when you’re recording with this thing hanging over you, and your work mate isn’t well, it’s difficult. I’m sure he was rooting for us the whole time we were over in Canada.”

On Sept. 24, 2014, AC/DC announced that Stevie was permanently replacing Malcolm in the press release that accompanied news of the arrival of Rock or Bust. Two days later, it was reported that Malcolm was being treated for dementia in a nursing facility in Sydney after having suffered a stroke the previous year. The band confirmed the diagnosis on Sept. 30, and the artwork for the record featured two tributes to the guitarist.

But, as we later learned, it was more than just dementia. On the day of Rock or Bust’s release, Angus said that his brother “had a lung operation; he had a heart operation.. everything hit him at once, besides his dementia.” But again, that was an understatement. In January, it was revealed that he was diagnosed with lung cancer after the Black Ice tour, and that he had a pacemaker installed.

AC/DC opened up their tour on April 10, 2015 with a 20-song at the Coachella Festival in Indio, Calif. But by that time, there was another change in the band. A month before Rock or Bust’s release, drummer Phil Rudd was arrested for threatening to kill someone and drug possession. He was replaced by Chris Slade, who had previously drummed with the band from 1989-94. Rudd eventually pleaded guilty to slightly reduced charges and was sentenced to eight months of home detention.

During the tour, Angus would often give an update on his brother’s health, saying that he goes out for a walk and a cup of coffee daily, and that, “Every now and then he’s still the Malcolm I know.” Six months later, he was spotted on one of those walks, in the King’s Cross neighborhood of Sydney, near a facility where he received part-time treatment. Around that time, Malcolm and his wife purchased a waterfront house in the exclusive Sydney suburb of Palm Beach, reportedly for more than $10 million Australian.

While on the road, AC/DC were forced to make another change in the lineup. In March 2016, Johnson was told by doctors that if he didn’t stop touring immediately, he would risk a total hearing loss. The tour’s 10 remaining shows were in serious jeopardy, but Axl Rose offered his services to the band, and the dates were rescheduled for August and September, while Rose was on a break from Guns N’ Roses’ Not In This Lifetime dates that saw him reunited with Slash and Duff McKagan.

However, as they were waiting to make up the days, bassist Cliff Williams, who had been in the band since 1978 and, after Angus, was the second-longest tenured member of AC/DC, announced that he would retire upon the conclusion of the tour. “Losing Malcolm [Young], the thing with Phil [Rudd] and now with Brian [Johnson],” he said, “it’s a changed animal. I feel in my gut it’s the right thing.”

The tour concluded on Sept. 20 in Philadelphia, with Angus bringing Williams out from his usual spot in the back to the front catwalk during the traditional closing song, “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You).” As the tour wound down, Angus acknowledged that Malcolm’s condition had gotten worse in the two years since his condition was made public. “It’s hard to communicate,” he said. “I do pass on messages. I can’t be 100 percent sure it goes in there. But I let him know there are a lot of people missing him.”

Angus also admitted that he wasn’t sure what was next for the band. “We were committed to finishing the tour,” he said. “Who knows what I’ll feel after? When you sign on and say, ‘I’m gonna do this and that,’ it’s always good to say at the end of it, ‘I’ve done all I said I would do.'”

But he added that Malcolm’s drive kept the band going through difficult times, saying, “I feel obligated to keep it going, maybe because I was there in the beginning with him.”

photo: Hulton Archive, Getty Images

 

RIP Malcolm. 

 

Battle of the Bands – “Spooky” by Classics IV

It’s mid-November and that means it’s time for another Battle of the Bands. I’ll present two covers of a song that I choose and you guys listen to both and vote which one you like better. What does the winner get? Nothing but a slot on my BOTB Excel spreadsheet, but hey, it’s fun. So play along, will ya?

I had fun putting together my Halloween playlist for the other music bloghop in which I participate, Monday’s Music Moves Me (which I unfortunately missed the last two weeks because my greyhound Picasso had major surgery and he had a very rough recovery…and then my other greyhound Luca got sick too and I think I spent more time staying up all night with my dogs and hanging at the vet’s office than doing anything else). Anyway, one of the songs I featured on my Halloween playlist (which you should really check out because it’s good!) was “Spooky”. There I showcased two of the most popular versions, one from 1968 by the group Classics IV and the other from 1979 when it was covered by the Atlantic Rhythm Section.

Here’s a little backstory on the song with a mini-playlist including the two versions just mentioned plus the original for your enjoyment. But don’t vote on any of these! Below the Spooky song facts I’m posting two unique covers by female artists and therein lies today’s battle.

Spooky – “Spooky” was originally an instrumental song performed by saxophonist Mike Sharpe (Shapiro), written by Shapiro and Harry Middlebrooks, Jr., which first charted in 1967 hitting #57 on the US pop charts. Its best-known version was created by James Cobb and producer Buddy Buie for the group Classics IV when they added lyrics about a “spooky little girl”. In 1968, the vocal version of the song reached #3 in the U.S. (Billboard Hot 100) and #46 in the UK.

This was one of the first songs to get a lot of airplay on the Album Oriented Rock (AOR) format. FM was relatively new, and AOR was a great format for people who wanted to hear songs on rock albums that weren’t necessarily hits.

The Classics IV is a band formed in Jacksonville, Florida, United States, in 1965. The band is often credited for establishing the “soft southern rock” sound. The band, led by singer Dennis Yost, is known mainly for the hits “Spooky”, “Stormy” and “Traces”, released 1967 to 1969, which have become cover standards.

The song was also a hit when covered by the Atlanta Rhythm Section. The Classics IV member Cobb and bandmates Dean Daughtry and Robert Nix later became part of the Atlanta Rhythm Section and they re-recorded “Spooky” in 1979, also produced by Buie. It was the second of two singles released from their Underdog LP. Atlanta Rhythm Section’s version hit #17 in the US on Billboard and #15 on Cash Box. It also charted minorly (is that a word? If it is, I don’t believe I’ve ever used it before) internationally.

“Spooky” has also been covered by a number of artists including Dusty Springfield (whose gender-flipped version was featured prominently in the Guy Ritchie film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), Percy Sledge, Martha and the Vandellas, Michel Pagliaro (recorded song in French), Velvet Monkeys, R.E.M., Imogen Heap, Kid Montana, and jazz saxophonist David Sanborn, who released it as an instrumental.

For today’s battle, I’ve chosen two well-known female artists and their unique cover versions of this song.

CONTENDER #1:  Joan Osborne

Joan Elizabeth Osborne (born July 8, 1962) is an American singer, songwriter, and interpreter of music, having recorded and performed in various popular American musical genres including pop, soul, R&B, blues, and country. She is best known for her recording of the Eric Bazilian song “One of Us” (I love this song!). She has toured with Motown sidemen the Funk Brothers and was featured in the documentary film about them, Standing in the Shadows of Motown.

Joan Osborne performing in Wilmington, Delaware in November 2009

Originally from Anchorage, Kentucky, a suburb of Louisville, Osborne moved to New York City in the late 1980s, where she formed her own record label, Womanly Hips, to release a few independent recordings. She signed with other labels and released several albums over the years and had an interesting career journey along the way, including accompanying with her band the Dixie Chicks for a national tour in the summer of 2003. During that time she also joined veteran San Francisco jam-rockers The Dead (the American rock band composed of some of the former members of the Grateful Dead) as a vocalist, and released her fourth album, titled How Sweet It Is, a collection of classic rock and soul covers. Osborne is currently a member of Trigger Hippy, along with Steve Gorman, Tom Bukovac, Jackie Greene, and Nick Govrik. Trigger Hippy released their debut album on September 30, 2014.

Having grown up in New York City and lived there for many decades, Osborne has stated that she feels a particular attachment to the city, particularly the borough of Brooklyn. Her interest in her neighborhood’s culture, history, and society has multiple influences on her music. As well, she’s expressed admiration for American poetry, especially the works of Walt Whitman, and cited that as a major inspiration for her songwriting.

Here is Joan Osborne’s cover of Spooky:

 

CONTENDER #2:  Deana Martin

Deana Martin (born August 19, 1948) is an American singer, actress, author, performer and daughter of well-known entertainer, Dean Martin. Deana was born in Manhattan, New York, to Dean Martin and his first wife, Elizabeth (Betty) MacDonald. She moved to Beverly Hills, California with her family by the age of one. She later went to live with Dean and his second wife, Jeanne Biegger. During her childhood, it was not unusual for her dad’s Rat Pack friends, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr., to stop by for a visit. Being around her father and his friends led Deana to decide that she wanted a career in the entertainment industry.

She made her television debut in 1966, performing on The Dean Martin Show. She became a frequent guest, taking part in both musical and comedy numbers with a wide array of entertainers including Frank Sinatra. She trained professionally as an actress at the Dartington College of Arts in the United Kingdom and performed in theater productions in a variety of leading roles onstage and co-starred in several movies alongside some of Hollywood’s greatest actors.

Martin first established herself as a recording artist with producer Lee Hazlewood for the Reprise Records label. The recordings included her country hit, “Girl of the Month Club,” while she was still a teenager. Other tunes on the project were “When He Remembers Me,” “Baby I See You” and “The Bottom Of My Mind,” all recorded during the 1960s. Musicians from the famous Los Angeles group the Wrecking Crew, which included Glen Campbell on guitar, played on these recordings.

In 2009 the singer’s CD Volare was in both the Billboard Top Jazz Albums chart and the Billboard Heat Seekers chart. It was preceded by Memories Are Made of This in 2006. Deana’s 2013 release, Destination Moon, is a compilation of her favorite jazz and pop songs, plus a duet with her father, Dean Martin, on “True Love.” Martin returned in 2016 with Swing Street, an album of swing standards mixed with new songs soon to be classics. This is where you’ll find her cover version of “Spooky.”

The singer is also an author with her New York Times best-selling book, “Memories Are Made of This: Dean Martin Through His Daughter’s Eyes.” Deana performs her father’s songs as well as favorite classic pop hits in venues around the world including symphony halls, performing arts centers, blues venues, jazz clubs and festivals. She and her producer/husband, John Griffeth, divide their time between a home in Beverly Hills, California and Branson, Missouri.

From the Swing Street album, here is Deana Martin’s cover of “Spooky”:

If you can’t access the above video, here is a link to Spotify where you’ll be able to listen to Deana’s version of Spooky on her album there. She has some good songs on that album for anyone who may want to check out some more of her songs. (Thanks Debbie Doglady for pointing the problem out to me and providing the solution. You rock Sister!)

TIME TO VOTE! Which version do you like better and why? When you’re done voting, please visit these other BOTB participants and check out their cool battles:

Thanks for your participation and your votes! I’ll be back on the 26th to post the results. Until then, rock on…

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me – HALLOWEEN SONGS!

It’s a special holiday edition of Monday’s Music Moves Me this week with our theme being HALLOWEEN. I got into Halloween as a kid and have fond memories of Trick or Treating on cold Western New York evenings (and once I even remember trick or treating in the snow!). But I’ve never really been into Halloween as an adult, especially since my friend Kathie and I were accosted by three men in masks one Halloween night as we were bar-hopping in downtown Niagara Falls. It’s a long story and it wasn’t fun. Since then, I hate people wearing masks. It weirds me out. I don’t like it.

BUT there are some really awesome Halloween songs! I’ve put together a playlist with my favorite Halloween-y songs, with some background information for your enjoyment.

My Halloween Playlist

 

Season of the Witch by Donovan – “Season of the Witch” is one of the first songs to fit the “psychedelic” genre. It was written by Donovan and Shawn Phillips and released in September 1966 on Donovan’s Epic Records (USA) album Sunshine Superman. (Donovan recorded it in May 1966, shortly before his highly publicized arrest for possession of marijuana). Donovan is the Scottish-born singer/songwriter and guitarist most known for his hits “Sunshine Superman”, “Mellow Yellow” and “Hurdy Gurdy Man.”

Although originally written and recorded by Donovan, a version by The Pandamonium was released in the United Kingdom as a single in November 1966 while Donovan’s version was finally released in June 1967 on the Pye Records compilation Sunshine Superman. (The song was never released as a single but it became a very popular song with fans, enough so that Donovan himself played it live more than most of his other hits.)

Fun Fact: The recording features Bobby Ray on bass and “Fast” Eddie Hoh on drums. The hauntingly eerie guitar is provided by Jimmy Page, then a noted session guitarist working in England.

The song was covered by many artists but one that I’m very fond of is by this next band:

Season of the Witch by Vanilla Fudge – Vanilla Fudge is an American rock band known predominantly for their extended rock arrangements of contemporary hit songs (most notably “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”). The band has been cited as “one of the few American links between psychedelia and what soon became heavy metal.” Vanilla Fudge also is known to have influenced other major bands such as The Nice, Deep Purple, Yes, Styx, and Led Zeppelin.

The band’s original lineup—vocalist and organist Mark Stein, bassist and vocalist Tim Bogert, lead guitarist/vocalist Vince Martell, and drummer and vocalist Carmine Appice—recorded five albums during the years 1967–69, before disbanding in 1970. (The band is currently touring with three of the four original members, Mark Stein, Vince Martell, and Carmine Appice with Pete Bremy on bass as Bogert retired in 2009).

Their cover version of “Season of the Witch” was on Vanilla Fudge’s third album Renaissance, released in June of 1968. The band also interpolated lyrics from an Essra Mohawk song, “We Never Learn” into their rendition of “Season of the Witch”. It’s the longest song on the album at 8:40 (8 minutes and 40 seconds).

Witchy Woman by the Eagles – “Witchy Woman” is a song written by Don Henley and Bernie Leadon, and recorded by the American rock band Eagles. Released as the second single from the band’s debut album Eagles, it reached No. 9 on the Billboard Pop singles chart and is the only single from the album to feature Henley on lead vocals.

Background of the song: The guitarist Bernie Leadon first started writing “Witchy Woman” while he was a member of the Flying Burrito Brothers. After joining the Eagles, Leadon and Don Henley then finished the song together, and it would be the only song on the Eagles’ debut album where Henley had a writing credit. The song was conceived while Don Henley was living in an old house near the Hollywood Bowl, with his flat mate, Henry Vine (aka ‘Blitz’). Henley said of the origin of the song: “[Leadon] came over one day and started playing this strange, minor-key riff that sounded sort of like a Hollywood movie version of Indian music — you know, the kind of stuff they play when the Indians ride up on the ridge while the wagon train passes below. It had a haunting quality, and I thought it was interesting, so we put a rough version of it down on a cassette tape.” Henley also gave the song an R&B pulse in its music.

The inspiration for the title and lyrics about a seductive enchantress came from a number of women, although Henley had one particular woman in mind – Zelda Fitzgerald whose biography he was reading while writing the song. According to Henley, he was suffering from flu with a very high fever and become semi-delirious, and every time the fever subsided, he would continue to read a book on the life of Zelda Fitzgerald, and the character in the song would be a mix of Zelda Fitzgerald “along with amorphous images of girls [he] had met at the Whisky and the Troubadour”. Zelda, the muse behind her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald, was known as a wild, bewitching and mesmerizing “Flapper” of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties, and is sometimes thought to be the model for the character of Daisy Buchanan in his novel, The Great Gatsby. In “Witchy Woman”, the line “She drove herself to madness with the silver spoon” may be a reference to Zelda’s time in a mental institution and the special slotted silver spoon used to dissolve sugar cubes with absinthe, the popular 1920s alcoholic beverage distilled from the wormwood tree and called “the green fairy” for sometimes inducing hallucinations.

According to Henley, other influences for the song include books by Carlos Castaneda on shamanism, and a girl he knew who was interested in the occult. Henley said of the song: “An important song for me, because it marked the beginning of my professional songwriting career.” 

Spooky by the Classics IV – “Spooky” was originally an instrumental song performed by saxophonist Mike Sharpe (Shapiro), written by Shapiro and Harry Middlebrooks, Jr., which first charted in 1967 hitting #57 on the US pop charts. Its best-known version was created by James Cobb and producer Buddy Buie for the group Classics IV when they added lyrics about a “spooky little girl”. In 1968, the vocal version of the song reached #3 in the U.S. (Billboard Hot 100) and #46 in the UK.

This was one of the first songs to get a lot of airplay on the Album Oriented Rock (AOR) format. FM was relatively new, and AOR was a great format for people who wanted to hear songs on rock albums that weren’t necessarily hits.

The Classics IV is a band formed in Jacksonville, Florida, United States, in 1965. The band is often credited for establishing the “soft southern rock” sound. The band, led by singer Dennis Yost, is known mainly for the hits “Spooky”, “Stormy” and “Traces”, released 1967 to 1969, which have become cover standards.

The song was also a hit when covered by the Atlanta Rhythm Section. The Classics IV member Cobb and bandmate Dean Daughtry later became part of the Atlanta Rhythm Section and they re-recorded “Spooky” in 1979, also produced by Buie. It was the second of two singles released from their Underdog LP. Atlanta Rhythm Section’s version hit #17 in the US on Billboard and #15 on Cash Box. It also charted minorly internationally. I’ve also included their version in my playlist.

Monster Mash by Bobby Pickett (and the Cryptkickers) – “Monster Mash” is a 1962 novelty song and the best-known song by Bobby “Boris” Pickett. The song was released as a single on Gary S. Paxton’s Garpax Records label in August 1962. Paxton distributed it to radio stations around southern California. Response was overwhelming, as the stations saw their phone banks lighting up with requests for the song. A deal was struck with London Records, who distributed the song worldwide.

The “Monster Mash” single was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on October 20–27 of that year, just before Halloween. It has been a perennial holiday favorite ever since.

When a novelty song becomes a surprise hit, a hastily produced album typically follows. In this case, the album was called The Original Monster Mash and included several other monster-themed songs like “Blood Bank Blues,” “Graveyard Shift,” “Transylvania Twist,” “Me And My Mummy” and “Irresistible Igor.”

Pickett was a nightclub entertainer who performed with a group called The Cordials. He wrote “Monster Mash” with his friend Lenny Capizzi. They were both big horror movie fans, and Pickett would do an impression of the actor Boris Karloff (known for playing the monster in many Frankenstein movies) during the speaking part of “Little Darlin'” that went over well in his act. As Capizzi played the piano, he and Pickett put together this song with his Karloff impression in mind. They came up with the plot about Frankenstein’s monster starting a dance craze.

The lyrics are based on the story of Frankenstein, which started as an 1818 novel by Mary Shelley and evolved into various film adaptations. In the story, Dr. Frankenstein creates a creature who comes to life, but what he created is a monster. The book is sober tale of regret and unexpected consequences, but the story is often played for comedy. In this song, the monster throws a big dance party, which is enthusiastically attended by many other creatures of lore (Dracula, Wolfman).

Pickett is imitating Boris Karloff, but is narrating the story as Dr. Frankenstein, not the monster that Karloff famously portrayed. Here he is performing the song on American Bandstand on October 13, 1964, with a comical introduction by a young Dick Clark. I just love his facial expressions!

Pickett and Lenny Capizzi wrote this song in about two hours. They recorded a demo to tape and brought it to Gary Paxton, lead singer of The Hollywood Argyles (“Alley Oop”). They recorded the song with Paxton and studio musicians Leon Russell, Johnny McCrae and Rickie Page, who were credited as “The Cryptkickers.” Paxton, who is credited as the song’s producer, also added the sound effects.

This being 1962, many of the sound effects had to be created in the studio. The sound effects on the song were done as follows:

The coffin being opened was made by pulling a rusty nail out of a lump of wood with the claw of a hammer.

The bubbling sounds came from blowing through a straw in a glass of water.

The sound of the chains was made by dropping chains onto plywood planks on the record studio floor.

This is arguably the most successful novelty song of all time. Bobby Pickett accomplished the rare feat of reaching the top 100 music chart three times with the same song. On October 20, 1962, the original release hit #1 in the US. The song re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 on August 29, 1970 peaking at #91, and then again on May 5, 1972 when it went all the way to #10. The song has sold over four million copies and continues to be a Halloween favorite.

Frankenstein by Edgar Winter Group – “Frankenstein” is an instrumental by The Edgar Winter Group from their album They Only Come Out at Night.

The song topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for one week in May 1973, being replaced by Paul McCartney’s “My Love”. It sold over one million copies. In Canada it fared equally well, reaching #1 on the RPM 100 Top Singles Chart the following month, the same month that saw it peak at #18 in the UK.

This is one of the most famous instrumental rock songs. In fact, Rolling Stone lists “Frankenstein” as one of the top 25 best rock instrumentals. The single sold over 1 million copies and became a classic rock staple.

It got its title because of the intense editing that went into the song; it became a monster when it was pieced together in the studio. Said Winter: “When we were editing it in the studio, back in those days when you edited something, you physically had to cut the tape and splice it back together, so it was all over the control room, draped over the backs of chairs and the couch. We were making fun of it, trying to figure out how to put it back together, saying ‘Here’s the main body; the leg bone’s connected to the thigh bone… ‘ Then Chuck Ruff, my drummer, says, ‘Wow, man, it’s like Frankenstein.’ As soon as I heard that, I went, ‘Wow, that’s it!’ The monster was born.” Winter frequently refers to the appropriateness of the name also in relation to its “monster-like, lumbering beat.”

Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s Monster

Winter played many of the instruments on the track, including keyboards, saxophone and timbales. Rick Derringer produced this and played guitar on the track along with Ronnie Montrose. As the release’s only instrumental cut, the song was not initially intended to be on the album, and was only included on a whim as a last-minute addition. It was originally released as the B-side to “Hangin’ Around”, but the two were soon reversed by the label when disc jockeys nationwide in the United States, as well as in Canada, were inundated with phone calls and realized this was the hit. The song features a “double” drum solo, with Ruff on drums and Winter on percussion. In fact, the working title of the song was “The Double Drum Song”. This was the first hit song that used a synthesizer as the lead instrument.

The group performed the song on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1973. The song was actually performed three years previously when Edgar was playing with his older brother Johnny Winter at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970. This rare recording was recently released as one of several live bonus tracks included in the two-disc Deluxe Edition CD of Johnny Winter’s Second Winter.

Speaking of They Only Come Out at Night, how about my next pick for a Halloween song:

Thriller by Michael Jackson – “Thriller” is a song recorded by American singer Michael Jackson, composed by Rod Temperton, and produced by Quincy Jones. It is the seventh and final single released by Epic Records from his 1982 studio album Thriller. A 14-minute video showing Jackson in a horror-themed performance premiered on November 14, 1983. It was first shown on MTV on December 2, 1983. The song was not released as a single until January 23, 1984.

In the song, sound effects such as a creaking door, thunder, feet walking on wooden planks, winds and howling dogs can be heard, and the lyrics contain frightening themes and elements. “Thriller” received positive reviews from critics and became Jackson’s seventh top-ten single on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart from the album, while reaching the top of the charts in France and Belgium and the top ten in many other countries.

“Thriller” was adapted by director John Landis into a highly successful music video, known independently as “Michael Jackson’s Thriller”. At fourteen minutes the video is substantially longer than the song, which ties together a narrative featuring Jackson and actress Ola Ray in a setting heavily inspired by horror films of the 1950s. In the video’s most iconic scene, Jackson leads other actors costumed as zombies in a choreographed dance routine. Though it garnered some criticism for its occult theme and violent imagery, the video was immediately popular and received high critical acclaim, being nominated for six MTV Video Music Awards in 1984 (the very first MTV Video Music Awards) and winning three (Best Performance Video, Best Choreography, and Viewers Choice). Considered the most famous music video of all time, it was added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2009, the first music video ever selected. How cool is that?!

Most homes had VCRs in 1983 and sales of videos were big business. Along with the Jane Fonda workout tapes, you could buy a VHS or beta copy of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which included the full video and also “The Making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller,” a behind the scenes documentary. This tape became the best-selling music video at the time, and was later certified by Guinness World Records as the top selling music video of all time, moving nine million units. Part of its appeal was the price, a mere $24.95 at a time when movies on tape cost much more.

The video distribution deal was through a company called Vestron, who approached John Landis about selling the film directly to consumers, which turned out to be very profitable. The timing helped, as the video was released a few weeks before Christmas.

Thriller is by far the best-selling album in the world. In the United States, it was overtaken by The Eagles Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, but reclaimed the title after Jackson’s death.

Fun Fact: Rod Temperton recalled that when he wrote this song he envisaged “this talking section at the end and didn’t know really what we were going to do with it. But one thing I’d thought about was to have a famous voice in the horror genre to do the vocal. Quincy (Jones, producer)’s wife knew Vincent Price, so Quincy said to me, ‘How about if we got Vincent Price?'” (Source Q magazine August 2009).

Vincent Price, an actor best known for his work on horror films, did the narration at the end of the song, including the evil laugh. Price’s rap includes the line “Must stand and face the hounds of hell.” (This was inspired by the most popular Sherlock Holmes novel to date, The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in which Sir Henry Baskerville’s family is supposedly cursed by a bloodthirsty, demonic hound. Price’s personal friends, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee (who appeared in several horror films with him), starred in a loose 1959 film adaptation of it. It was the first Sherlock Holmes film shot in color). Price recorded the central spoken section in this song on his second take, after it had been written by Rod Temperton in the taxi on the way to the studio for the recording session.

Vincent Price, while a guest on the Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, laughingly stated that when he did the narration for “Thriller” (at the request of Michael Jackson who was a big fan of Price) he had a choice between taking a percentage of the album sales or $20,000. Price was well along in his career, so he took the $20,000. He was good-natured about it when Carson told him he could have made millions off of the royalties due to the vast number of copies sold even at that time. Price laughed heartily and said: “How well I know!”

Vincent Price in Twice Told Tales (1963)

Ghosts by Michael Jackson – “Ghosts” is a 1996 song by Michael Jackson. “Ghosts” was written, composed and produced by Michael Jackson and Teddy Riley in 1996. Commentators made observations about the paranoid lyrics, a common theme in Jackson’s work. Its music video was a five-minute clip taken from the much longer film of the same name. It was released as part of the single release “HIStory”/”Ghosts”, a double A-side single from Michael Jackson’s 1997 remix album Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix.

The song would become a top five hit in the UK and Italy, but did not chart as highly elsewhere. Specifically “HIStory/Ghosts” did generally well of music charts worldwide, having charted within the top-ten and top-twenty in multiple countries. The song’s highest peak position was in Italy, charting at number three. In the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden “HIStory/Ghosts” spent seventeen to eighteen weeks on the charts. In Australia “HIStory/Ghosts” peaked at forty-three before falling off the chart. The single did not appear on any United States Billboard charts.

The music video for “Ghosts” was a five-minute cut-down of the short film of the same title, which Jackson unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival as part of the album promotion. It was released theatrically in the US in October 1996 and made its UK debut the following May at the Odeon Leicester Square. The music video won the Bob Fosse Award for Best Choreography in a Music Video.

Written by Jackson and Stephen King and directed by Stan Winston, the short film was inspired by the isolation the singer felt after he was accused of child sexual abuse in 1993. It centers on the Maestro (Jackson), who’s nearly chased out of his town by the residents and the mayor (who intentionally resembles Tom Sneddon, a prosecutor in the 1993 accusations) because they believe him to be a “freak.” The film includes several songs and music videos from the albums HIStory and Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. At 38 minutes, the film holds the Guinness World Record for longest music video. The short version is included in Michael Jackson’s Vision.

Ghost Riders in the Sky by the Outlaws – The original song is “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend,” a cowboy-styled country/western song written in 1948 by American songwriter, film and television actor Stan Jones.

The song tells a folk tale of a cowboy who has a vision of red-eyed, steel-hooved cattle thundering across the sky, being chased by the spirits of damned cowboys. One warns him that if he does not change his ways, he will be doomed to join them, forever “trying to catch the Devil’s herd across these endless skies”. Jones stated he had been told the story when he was 12 years old by an old cowboy friend. The story resembles the northern European mythic Wild Hunt.

More than 50 performers have recorded versions of the song. One of the charting versions that I’m most familiar with was recorded by the American southern rock band Outlaws and appears on their sixth album Ghost Riders, released in 1980. It is regarded by many fans as the last Outlaws album that followed their old fashioned southern rock style, and also a comeback after some mediocre albums saleswise. Their cover of “(Ghost) Riders In the Sky” was one of their most successful songs, and has earned the band some attention from outside the southern rock circles.

Goblin Girl by Frank Zappa – I’m not much of a Zappa fan but I just had to include this song. “Goblin Girl” is from Frank Zappa’s double album You Are What You Is. It was originally released as a double album in 1981 and later by Rykodisc as a 20-song CD.

Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon – “Werewolves of London” is a rock song composed by LeRoy Marinell, Waddy Wachtel, and Warren Zevon and performed by Zevon. Included on Zevon’s 1978 album Excitable Boy, it featured accompaniment by drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie of Fleetwood Mac. It was produced by Jackson Browne.The single was released by Asylum Records and it entered the American Top 40 charts on April 22, 1978, reaching number 21, and remained in the Top 40 for six weeks. In New Zealand, the song reached number 15. This was the only Top 40 hit for Warren Zevon as singer.

When Zevon was working with The Everly Brothers, he hired Wachtel to play in their backing band. At one point, Phil Everly asked them to write a dance song for the Everly Brothers called “Werewolves of London.” Wachtel and Zevon were good friends and were strumming guitars together when someone asked what they were playing. Zevon replied, “Werewolves of London,” and Wachtel started howling. Zevon came up with the line “I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand,” and they traded lyrics back and forth until they had their song.

The lyrics tell the story of “a hairy-handed gent who ran amok in Kent.” He’s well-dressed (“I’d like to meet his tailor”), well-groomed (“His hair was perfect”), and “preying on little old ladies.”

Henry Hull as Werewolf of London (1935)

Fun Facts: The Chinese restaurant mentioned in the song, “Lee Ho Fook,” is a real location. It is situated on Gerrard Street in London’s Chinatown (the nearest Tube station is Piccadilly). The patron proudly displays Zevon’s photo.

When Zevon played this live, he sometimes replaced the line “I’d like to meet his tailor” with “And he’s looking for James Taylor!”

In 2000, a fight broke out while Zevon was performing this at the Bowery Ballroom in New York. Zevon stopped, waited for the fight to end, said “I bet this never happens at Sting concerts,” and continued the song.

Zevon filled in for bandleader/keyboardist/producer Paul Shaffer at Late Night with David Letterman whenever Shaffer was unable to attend the taping of the show. Letterman was a big fan of Zevon, and did some very moving interviews with him before his death, including one in which Zevon gave this advice: “Enjoy every sandwich.”

Zevon died of lung cancer in 2003. He lived with the disease longer than doctors expected and made his last album, The Wind, while he was dying.

Psycho Killer by the Talking Heads – “Psycho Killer” is a song written by David Byrne, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth and first played by their band the Artistic in 1974, and as Talking Heads in 1975, with a later version recorded for their 1977 album Talking Heads: 77.

The band’s “signature debut hit” features lyrics which seem to represent the thoughts of a serial killer. Originally written and performed as a ballad, “Psycho Killer” became what AllMusic calls a “deceptively funky new wave/no wave song” with “an insistent rhythm, and one of the most memorable, driving basslines in rock & roll.”

The song was the result of lead singer David Byrne trying to write an Alice Cooper song, but it came out much more introspective. It ended up being about the thoughts of a murderer. They lyrics were inspired by the character Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins, in the 1960 movie Psycho. Byrne never thought this would be a hit. He considered it a “silly song” at the time, and was surprised when it took off.

Part of the chorus and the bridge are in French. The verse translates to “What I did, that evening, what she said, that evening fulfilling my hope I throw myself towards glory.” The chorus lyric “Qu’est-ce que c’est?” means “What is this?”

The “Fa Fa” part comes from an Otis Redding song called “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song).” Redding and other Soul singers were a big influence on Talking Heads.

An acoustic version was the flip side of the single. In the liner notes for Once in a Lifetime: The Best of Talking Heads (1992), Jerry Harrison wrote of that b-side acoustic version that featured Arthur Russell on cello, “I’m glad we persuaded Tony [Bongiovi] and Lance [Quinn] that the version with the cellos shouldn’t be the only one.”

The song was composed near the beginning of the band’s career and prototype versions were performed onstage as early as December 1975. When it was finally completed and released as a single in December 1977, “Psycho Killer” became instantly associated in popular culture with the contemporaneous Son of Sam serial killings. Although the band always insisted that the song had no inspiration from the notorious events, the single’s release date was “eerily timely” and marked by a “macabre synchronicity”.

“Psycho Killer” was the only song from the album to appear on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at number 92. It reached number 32 on the Triple J Hottest 100 in 1989, and peaked at number 11 on the Dutch singles chart in 1977. The song is included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr.“Ghostbusters” is a song written and recorded by Ray Parker Jr. as the theme to the film of the same name starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson. Debuting at #68 on June 16, 1984, the song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on August 11, 1984, staying there for three weeks, and at number two on the UK Singles Chart on September 16, 1984, staying there for three weeks. The song re-entered the UK Top 75 on November 2, 2008, at No. 49.

It was nominated at the 57th Academy Awards for Best Original Song, but lost to Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You”.

According to Parker, he was approached by the film’s producers to create a theme song for the film, though he only had a few days to do so and the film’s title seemed impossible to include in any lyrics. However, when watching television late at night, Parker saw a cheap commercial for a local service that reminded him that the film had a similar commercial featured for the fictional business. This inspired him to write the song as a pseudo-advertising jingle that the business could have commissioned as a promotion.

Parker added that he got his girlfriend and her friends to shout the title for the chorus, since he didn’t want to sing it. Parker, who was a renowned session musician, played most of the instruments on the track.

Fun Fact #1: Lindsey Buckingham claims to have been approached to write the Ghostbusters theme based on his successful contribution to Harold Ramis’s National Lampoon’s Vacation (the song “Holiday Road”). He turned down the opportunity as he did not want to be known as a soundtrack artist. He mentions this on the “Words & Music” interview disc.

The music video for the song was directed by the same director as the Ghostbusters film, Ivan Reitman, and produced by Jeffrey Abelson. It features a young woman, played by actress Cindy Harrell, who is haunted by a ghost portrayed by Parker, roaming a nearly all-black house interior with vibrant neon designs outlining the sparse architectural and industrial features until the woman finally calls the service. It also contains footage from the film and features cameos from many celebrities of the day, including Chevy Chase, Irene Cara, John Candy, Melissa Gilbert, Ollie E. Brown, Jeffrey Tambor, George Wendt, Al Franken, Danny DeVito, Carly Simon, Peter Falk, and Teri Garr; all of whom exclaim the song’s “Ghostbusters!” refrain when shown. Chase appears again after Garr, but chokes on his cigarette when he tries to exclaim “Ghostbusters!” Franken also pops up in the house before the separately framed cameos begin.

The video concludes with Parker and the stars of the film, in full Ghostbuster costume, dancing down the streets of New York City. The Ghostbusters also perform the same dance in the closing credits to the Real Ghostbusters cartoon series as well as in a trailer for the 2009 Ghostbusters video game.

Fun Fact #2: Huey Lewis sued Parker for plagiarizing the medley to his song “I Want A New Drug” on this track. They settled out of court and agreed not to talk about the case in public, but in 2001, Lewis revealed that Parker paid to settle the suit on an episode of VH1’s Behind the Music. Parker then sued Lewis for violating the terms of their agreement and breaching confidentiality.

Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult – “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” is a song by the American rock band Blue Öyster Cult from their 1976 album, Agents of Fortune. The song, written and sung by the band’s lead guitarist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser, deal with eternal love and the inevitability of death. Dharma wrote the song while picturing an early death for himself.

Released as an edited single, the song was Blue Öyster Cult’s biggest chart success, reaching #7 in Cash Box and #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1976. Additionally, critical reception was mainly positive and, in 2004, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” was listed at number 405 on the Rolling Stone list of the top 500 songs of all time.

Blue Öyster Cult was considered a “cult” band, somewhere in the realm of heavy metal with complex and often baffling lyrics dealing with the supernatural. Those inside the cult took the time to understand that like Black Sabbath, BOC combined outstanding musicianship with fantasy lyrics, and they weren’t for everyone. “Don’t Fear the Reaper” exposed them to a wider audience, which was good for business but bad for art. Buck Dharma said in a 1980 interview with NME: “Ever since ‘The Reaper’ was a hit we’ve been under pressure to duplicate that success; the body of our work failed. Even on (1977 album) Spectres everyone tried to write a hit single and that’s a bad mistake. The Cult is never destined to be successful at a format. To be a singles band you have to win the casual buyer.”

Fun Fact #1: The song has been used in several horror movies, including Halloween, The Frighteners and Scream. Stephen King cited the song as the inspiration for his novel The Stand. He quoted the lyrics to this song at the beginning of his novel, in which 99.9% of the US population is killed by a manmade disease called “Superflu.” It is also used in King’s miniseries of the same name during a montage showing the corpses of those who had been killed by the disease. King often quotes songs in the beginning of his books.

Fun Fact #2: The song was memorialized in the April 2000 Saturday Night Live comedy sketch “More Cowbell”. The six-minute sketch presents a fictionalized version of the recording of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” on an episode of VH1’s Behind the Music. Will Ferrell wrote the sketch and played Gene Frenkle, an overweight cowbell player. “Legendary” producer Bruce Dickinson, played by Christopher Walken, asked Frenkle to “really explore the studio space” and up the ante on his cowbell playing. The rest of the band are visibly annoyed by Frenkle, but Dickinson tells everyone, “I got a fever, and the only prescription–is more cowbell!” Buck Dharma thought the sketch was fantastic and said he never gets tired of it.

For some reason, the skit’s embed code wouldn’t work but here’s the link to the NBC site where you can watch the entire hilarious skit. Besides Christopher Walken and Will Ferrell, James Franco and Jimmy Fallon are also in the skit. Enjoy!

Murder by Numbers by the Police – “Murder by Numbers” is on English rock band The Police’s fifth and final studio album, Syncronicity, released in June 1983.

The lyrics describe how to get in the mindset of killing people. Sting said it is about the evil deeds of politicians. Sting wrote this with guitarist Andy Summers. It was their only collaboration on Synchronicity; besides the songs “Miss Gradenko” (Stewart Copeland) and “Mother” (Summers), the songs on the album were written entirely by Sting.

This was used as the B-side of “Every Breath You Take,” but it was omitted from the vinyl copy of Synchronicity. At the time, vinyl copies went on sale before cassettes, and CD technology was just emerging. Many people would buy the vinyl copies right away, so leaving this off encouraged them to also purchase the “Every Breath You Take” single or the cassette. At some concerts, Sting introduced this by saying it was about the manipulation of large groups of people, knowing that the audience were being manipulated the whole time.

Fun Facts: This song was featured in the Sigourney Weaver movie Copycat. In the film, a serial killer leaves the lyrics to the song as a clue.

Murder by Numbers is the title of a 2002 movie starring Sandra Bullock.

TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart said that this song was performed by “The sons of Satan.” In 1988, a few years after he made his comments, Swaggart was involved in a sex scandal.

Sting appeared at a Frank Zappa concert after meeting the eccentric composer before the show. When he got onstage, the band started to play “Murder by Numbers” as Sting talked about the comments Jimmy Swaggart made about this song being written by Satan, Beelzebub, and Lucifer. He concluded by saying, “I wrote the fucking song, alright?” He went on to sing the whole song with the band and the track appears on Zappa’s live album, Broadway the Hard Way.

Superstition by Stevie Wonder – “Superstition” is a song by American singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder. It was released as the lead single from his fifteenth studio album, Talking Book (1972). The album was called Talking Book because wonder considered the songs akin to chapters in a book that tell a whole story. On the cover is a rare photo of Wonder without his sunglasses on.

The song’s lyrics are chiefly concerned with superstitions, mentioning several popular superstitious fables throughout the song, and deal with the negative effects superstitious beliefs can bring. Wonder wrote this about the dangers of believing in superstitions. Some of the bad luck superstitions he alludes to include walking under a ladder, breaking a mirror (said to bring seven years of bad luck), and the number 13.

It reached number one in the U.S. and number one on the soul singles chart. The song was Wonder’s first number-one single since “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours” and topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973. Overseas, it peaked at number eleven in the UK during February 1973. In November 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the song at No. 74 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

This was intended for Jeff Beck, who was brought in to play some guitar parts on the album in exchange for a song. At one of the sessions, Stevie came up with the riff and wrote some lyrics, and they recorded a rough version of the song that day for Beck. It took Beck a while to record the song due to album delays, and by the time he released it, Wonder’s version had been out for a month and was a huge hit. Beck felt shortchanged, and made some statements in the press that Wonder didn’t appreciate. In 1975, Beck released an instrumental version of Wonder’s “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” on his album Blow By Blow. The album was a hit and helped solidify Beck’s reputation as an elite guitarist.

Jeff Beck finally recorded his own version of this song in December 1972 with bass player Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice. They recorded as Beck, Bogert and Appice, and while their album did well, their version of this song was hardly noticed.

Several artists besides Jeff Beck have covered this. None made much of an impact until Stevie Ray Vaughan released a live version as a single in 1986 on his album Live Alive. His version is still played on Classic Rock radio, and has grown even more popular since Vaughan’s death in 1990.

This song incorporates many elements of rock music, which helped Wonder extend his appeal to a white audience. Before Talking Book was released, Stevie went on tour with The Rolling Stones, which boosted his credibility in the world of rock. When “Superstition” was released, it was warmly welcomed on the same radio stations that played The Stones, earning Wonder many new fans. It also helped Wonder move past his image as a child star.

Wonder appeared in Bud Light commercials that debuted during the Super Bowl in 2013. As part of the “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work” campaign, which showed superstitious fans acting compulsively in an effort to steer their teams to victory, Wonder appeared as some kind of witch doctor in New Orleans (where the game took place). Asking, “Are you looking for a little mojo?” Wonder then transports our hero to the big game, where he has a voodoo doll to help his cause. The song “Superstition” plays throughout.

Somebody’s Watching Me by Rockwell – “Somebody’s Watching Me” is a song by American singer Rockwell from his 1984 debut studio album Somebody’s Watching Me. Rockwell is Kennedy Gordy, son of Motown founder Berry Gordy from a relationship with Margaret Norton. The Motown brain trust came up with the name “Rockwell.” Prince and Madonna were doing very well using one name, and inspiration struck when someone saw a photo of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Kennedy put the demo together with the help of a Motown producer named Curtis Nolen. Berry Gordy didn’t have much faith in his son as a recording artist, but when he heard this, he knew it was a hit and agreed to release it.

The song was released as Rockwell’s debut single and lead single from the album on January 14, 1984, by Motown. It features former Jackson 5 members Michael Jackson (vocals in the chorus) and Jermaine Jackson (additional backing vocals).

“Somebody’s Watching Me” became a commercial success internationally, topping the charts in Belgium, France and Spain. “Somebody’s Watching Me” also peaked at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as reaching number six on the UK Singles Chart.

Due in part to the popularity of the music video, the song is sometimes used for Halloween celebrations, with cover versions found in various collections of Halloween music.

The single’s music video underscores the song’s paranoid tone with a haunted house-inspired theme, including imagery of floating heads, ravens, graveyards, and shower scenes referencing Psycho.

The video opens with Rockwell coming home to discover that the wrong newspaper has been delivered to his doorstep. As he takes a quick shower, he begins to have strange visions (in a manner recalling The Dead Zone) of himself being pursued around his house by assorted ghoulish appartions, of the looming figure of a cadaverous-looking man, and of finding a tombstone engraved with his own name. His shower is interrupted when he hears something outside and goes out on his balcony to investigate. He is shocked to see the man from his visions standing at his gate, but as he struggles to get a better look in spite of the sun in his face he is greatly relieved to see that he is merely a mailman, come to deliver the correct newspaper. As the mailman walks up the path towards the front porch, however, a brief close-up of his arm reveals that he is, in fact, a zombie. Rockwell emerges onto the porch to receive the paper, which the mailman genially hands over. As the mailman brings his other arm around to strike, Rockwell has just enough time to notice that he is not human.

This is Halloween – “This Is Halloween” is a song from the 1993 film, The Nightmare Before Christmas, with music and lyrics written by Danny Elfman. In the film it is performed by the residents of the fictional “Halloween Town”, which is the film’s main setting, and introduces the town’s Halloween-centered lifestyle.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (also known as Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas) is a 1993 American stop-motion animated musical dark fantasy film directed by Henry Selick, and produced and conceived by Tim Burton. It tells the story of Jack Skellington, a resident from “Halloween Town” who stumbles through a portal to “Christmas Town” and decides to celebrate the holiday, with some dastardly and comical consequences. Danny Elfman wrote the songs and score, and provided the singing voice of Jack. The principal voice cast also includes Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Ken Page, Paul Reubens and Glenn Shadix.

The Nightmare Before Christmas originated in a poem written by Tim Burton in 1982, while he was working as an animator at Walt Disney Feature Animation. With the success of Vincent in the same year, Walt Disney Studios began to consider developing The Nightmare Before Christmas as either a short film or 30-minute television special. Over the years, Burton’s thoughts regularly returned to the project, and in 1990, he made a development deal with Disney. Production started in July 1991 in San Francisco; Disney released the film through its Touchstone Pictures banner because the studio believed the film would be “too dark and scary for kids”.

The film was met with both critical and financial success, grossing over $76 million during its initial run. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, a first for an animated film. The film has since been reissued by Walt Disney Pictures, and was re-released annually in Disney Digital 3-D from 2006 until 2009, making it the first stop-motion animated feature to be entirely converted to 3D.

And since my Halloween tradition for the last several years is to turn off all the lights and pretend no one is home and then watch the original 1978 movie Halloween by John Carpenter…and maybe a few more in the franchise… I’m including the Halloween movie trailer here, followed by the theme song.

Halloween, the movie: For those who aren’t familiar: Halloween is a 1978 American slasher film directed and scored by John Carpenter, co-written with producer Debra Hill, and starring Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut. It is the first installment of the Halloween franchise. In the film, on Halloween night in 1963, Michael Myers murders his sister in the fictional Midwestern town of Haddonfield, Illinois. He escapes on October 30, 1978 from Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, and returns home to kill again. The next day, Halloween, Michael stalks teenager Laurie Strode and her friends, while Michael’s psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis, pursues his patient.

Halloween was produced on a budget of $300,000 and grossed $47 million at the box office in the United States, $23 million internationally, for a total of $70 million worldwide, selling almost 30 million tickets in 1978, equivalent to $269 million as of for 2017. It became one of the most profitable independent films. Many critics credit the film as the first in a long line of slasher films inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960). In 2006, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Some critics have suggested that Halloween may encourage sadism and misogyny by audiences identifying with its villain. Others have suggested the film is a social critique of the immorality of youth and teenagers in 1970s America, with many of Myers’ victims being sexually promiscuous substance abusers, while the lone heroine is depicted as innocent and pure, hence her survival. Nevertheless, Carpenter dismisses such analyses.

Movie Fun Facts: After viewing Carpenter’s film Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) at the Milan Film Festival, independent film producer Irwin Yablans and financier Moustapha Akkad sought out Carpenter to direct a film for them about a psychotic killer that stalked babysitters. In an interview with Fangoria magazine, Yablans stated, “I was thinking what would make sense in the horror genre, and what I wanted to do was make a picture that had the same impact as The Exorcist.” Carpenter and his then-girlfriend Debra Hill began drafting a story originally titled The Babysitter Murders, but, as Carpenter told Entertainment Weekly, Yablans suggested setting the movie on Halloween night and naming it Halloween instead.

Akkad agreed to put up $300,000 for the film’s budget, which was considered low at the time. (Carpenter’s previous film, Assault on Precinct 13, had an estimated budget of $100,000). Akkad worried over the tight, four-week schedule, low budget, and Carpenter’s limited experience as a filmmaker, but told Fangoria, “Two things made me decide. One, Carpenter told me the story verbally and in a suspenseful way, almost frame for frame. Second, he told me he didn’t want to take any fees, and that showed he had confidence in the project”. Carpenter received $10,000 for directing, writing, and composing the music, retaining rights to 10 percent of the film’s profits.

Because of the low budget, wardrobe and props were often crafted from items on hand or that could be purchased inexpensively. Carpenter hired Tommy Lee Wallace as production designer, art director, location scout and co-editor. Wallace created the trademark mask worn by Michael Myers throughout the film from a Captain Kirk mask purchased for $1.98. Carpenter recalled how Wallace “widened the eye holes and spray-painted the flesh a bluish white. In the script it said Michael Myers’s mask had ‘the pale features of a human face’ and it truly was spooky looking. I can only imagine the result if they hadn’t painted the mask white. Children would be checking their closet for William Shatner after Tommy got through with it.” Hill adds that the “idea was to make him almost humorless, faceless—this sort of pale visage that could resemble a human or not.” Many of the actors wore their own clothes, and Curtis’ wardrobe was purchased at J. C. Penney for around a hundred dollars.

It took approximately 10 days to write the script. Yablans and Akkad ceded most of the creative control to writers Carpenter and Hill (whom Carpenter wanted as producer), but Yablans did offer several suggestions. According to a Fangoria interview with Hill, “Yablans wanted the script written like a radio show, with ‘boos’ every 10 minutes.” Hill explained that the script took three weeks to write and much of the inspiration behind the plot came from Celtic traditions of Halloween such as the festival of Samhain. Although Samhain is not mentioned in the plot of the first film, Hill asserts that:

           “…the idea was that you couldn’t kill evil, and that was how we came about the story. We went back to the old idea of Samhain, that Halloween was the night where all the souls are let out to wreak havoc on the living, and then came up with the story about the most evil kid who ever lived. And when John came up with this fable of a town with a dark secret of someone who once lived there, and now that evil has come back, that’s what made Halloween work.”

Hill wrote most of the female characters’ dialogue, while Carpenter drafted Loomis’ speeches on the soullessness of Michael Myers. Many script details were drawn from Carpenter’s and Hill’s adolescence and early careers. The fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois was derived from Haddonfield, New Jersey, where Hill grew up, and most of the street names were taken from Carpenter’s hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Laurie Strode was the name of one of Carpenter’s old girlfriends and Michael Myers was the name of an English producer who had previously entered, with Yablans, Assault on Precinct 13 in various European film festivals. In Halloween, Carpenter pays homage to Alfred Hitchcock with two characters’ names: Tommy Doyle is named after Lt. Det. Thomas J. Doyle (Wendell Corey) from Rear Window (1954), and Dr. Loomis’ name was taken from Sam Loomis (John Gavin) from Psycho, the boyfriend of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh, who is the real-life mother of Jamie Lee Curtis). Sheriff Leigh Brackett shared the name of a Hollywood screenwriter.

“I met this six year old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes; the devil’s eyes […] I realized what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply…evil.”

— Loomis’ description of a young Michael was inspired by John Carpenter’s experience with a real life mental patient.

Carpenter’s inspiration for the “evil” that Michael would embody came when he was in college. While on a class trip at a mental institution in Kentucky, Carpenter visited “the most serious, mentally ill patients”. Among those patients was a young boy around twelve to thirteen years-old. The boy gave this “schizophrenic stare”, “a real evil stare”, which Carpenter found “unsettling”, “creepy”, and “completely insane”. Carpenter’s experience would inspire the characterization that Loomis would give of Michael to Sheriff Brackett in the original film.

The limited budget also dictated the filming location and time schedule. Halloween was filmed in 20 days in the spring of 1978 in South Pasadena, California, and the cemetery at Sierra Madre, California. An abandoned house owned by a church stood in as the Myers house. Two homes on Orange Grove Avenue (near Sunset Boulevard) in Hollywood were used for the film’s climax. The crew had difficulty finding pumpkins in the spring, and artificial fall leaves had to be reused for multiple scenes. Local families dressed their children in Halloween costumes for trick-or-treat scenes.

The Halloween Theme Music: Another major reason for the success of Halloween is the moody musical score, particularly the main theme. Lacking a symphonic soundtrack, the film’s score consists of a piano melody played in a 10/8 or “complex 5/4” meter composed and performed by director John Carpenter. It took Carpenter three days to compose the entire score for the film. Critic James Berardinelli calls the score “relatively simple and unsophisticated”, but admits that “Halloween’s music is one of its strongest assets”. Carpenter stated in an interview, “I can play just about any keyboard, but I can’t read or write a note.” In the end credits, Carpenter bills himself as the “Bowling Green Philharmonic Orchestra” for performing the film’s score, but he did receive assistance from composer Dan Wyman, a music professor at San José State University.

Some songs can be heard in the film, one being an untitled song performed by Carpenter and a group of his friends who formed a band called The Coupe De Villes. The song is heard as Laurie steps into Annie’s car on her way to babysit Tommy Doyle. Another song, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by classic rock band Blue Öyster Cult, appears in the film.

 

And this wraps up my Halloween themed Monday’s Music Moves Me playlist. Hope you all enjoy it. HAPPY HALLOWEEN and be sure to keep your doors locked and whatever you do, don’t open the closet door or go down in the basement!

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by JAmerican Spice, Stacy Uncorked and Curious as a Cathy.  Be sure to stop by the hosts and visit the other participants.