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Welcome to the A-Z Musical Tour of My Life! I have wanted to put something like this together for a long time now and the A-Z Challenge just seemed like the perfect opportunity. I’ve compiled stories, trivia, research, music videos and live concert footage on all the bands and musical artists who have been important to me over the years, especially during my youthful years in the 60s and 70s. At first glance, the posts may seem long – and some of them are due to the number of videos included – but it’s really laid out in a way that will enable you to scroll through and read, see or hear just what you want and then either move on to the next A-Zer or linger and listen to the great music that you’ll find here. By all means, bookmark my blog so you can come back! In addition to individual songs, there are some full albums here for those who may want to enjoy some music while they’re surfing or working. I hope you find that the stories are entertaining, the information educational and the trivia interesting. It would be a tremendous honor if you would bookmark the A-Z Musical Tour of My Life as a resource for great music and music information! Now, let’s get started with…
N is for Nazareth – One of my favorite Nazareth songs is the title track from the Hair of the Dog album. Love the beat in this song and I always find it a challenge to try to count how many times they say “Now you’re messin’ with a son-of-a-bitch.” Just how many times do they repeat that line? Play the song, try to do an accurate count and put your answer in the comments section below. I want to see if we come up with the same number!
Nazareth is a Scottish rock band, formed in 1968. They had several hits in the UK in the early 70s. They established an international audience with their 1975 album Hair of the Dog.
Besides Hair of the Dog, there are a few songs that I like on that album. The other one that got tons of radio airplay is Love Hurts. It’s probably their biggest hit here in the US. This is Nazareth performing the song in 1976:
Whiskey Drinkin’ Woman is a fun song. And this video is pretty funny too. Not sure where all these photos came from but some of them are hilarious:
Beggars Day is another song that I really like.
Of course I have to be in a certain mood to listen to Nazareth. I have to be in a Hard-Rock frame of mind, otherwise it just gets on my nerves. You ever feel like that with music? I got chastised one day when I told my ex that I had to turn off Jimi Hendrix because the music was hurting my ears! It was like I had committed the ultimate sacrilege. There is a lot of music that I used to listen to when I was younger that I don’t care to listen to anymore. The Nazareth Hair of the Dog album was one of the many 8-tracks that I used to blast in my ’71 Monte Carlo. I just don’t see myself blasting Nazareth these days. Well, maybe Hair of the Dog. Yeah, definitely Hair of the Dog. But not the rest…
N is for Neil Young
Oh, how I love Neil Young! This Canadian-born singer/songwriter/musician moved to California in 1966 and co-founded the band Buffalo Springfield (with Stephen Stills) and in 1969, became the fourth member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (also known as CSNY). Since I’ve already covered Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Buffalo Springfield within other letters, I’ll just concentrate on Young’s solo career.
His second solo album is when he recruited and introduced his backup band Crazy Horse. The album was released in May of 1969 (“Everybody Knows This is Nowhere”). From Wikipedia: “Recorded in just two weeks, the album opens with one of Young’s most familiar songs, Cinnamon Girl, and is dominated by two more, Cowgirl in the Sand and Down by the River, that feature improvisations with Young’s distinctive electric guitar solos billowing out over the hypnotic Crazy Horse backing. Young reportedly wrote all three songs on the same day, while nursing a high fever of 103 °F (39 °C) in bed.” That’s pretty impressive. When I’m sick, all I want to do is sleep. I can’t imagine writing a song, let alone three hit songs!
Down By the River (from an Austin City Limits concert)
Cowgirl in the Sand (Live at Massey Hall, 1971)
I remember hearing that there were tensions and in-fighting while Young was with Crosby, Stills and Nash. Here’s the story as reported in Wikipedia: “Shortly after the release of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Young reunited with Stephen Stills by joining Crosby, Stills & Nash, who had already released one album Crosby, Stills & Nash as a trio in May 1969. Young was originally offered a position as a sideman, but agreed to join only if he received full membership, and the group – winners of the 1969 “Best New Artist” Grammy Award – was renamed Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The quartet debuted in Chicago on August 16, 1969, and later performed at the famous Woodstock Festival, during which Young skipped the majority of the acoustic set and refused to be filmed during the electric set, even telling the cameramen: “One of you fuckin’ guys comes near me and I’m gonna fuckin’ hit you with my guitar”. During the making of their first album, Déjà Vu (March 11, 1970), the musicians frequently argued, particularly Young and Stills, who both fought for control. Stills continued throughout their lifelong relationship to criticize Young, saying that he “wanted to play folk music in a rock band.” Despite the tension, Young’s tenure with CSN&Y coincided with the band’s most creative and successful period, and greatly contributed to his subsequent success as a solo artist.”
Other Neil Young favorites are:
Rockin in the Free World – Taken from Wikipedia: “The lyrics criticize the George H. W. Bush administration, then in its first month, and the social problems of contemporary American life, directly referencing Bush’s famous “thousand points of light” remark from his 1989 inaugural address and his 1988 presidential campaign promise for America to become a “kinder, gentler nation.” Despite this, the song became the de facto anthem of the collapse of communism, because of its repeated chorus of ‘Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World’.
An edited version of the song accompanies the end credits of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. In the film, the phrase “That’s one more kid that’ll never go to school, never get to fall in love, never get to be cool,” which in the song references the second verse’s abandoned child, is used in reference to a young US soldier killed in Iraq.
The song is rated number 216 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time…”
This music video showcases great social commentary interspersed with concert footage:
After the Gold Rush –(from the Rust Never Sleeps album): live performance. I love his melodic piano and haunting harmonica in this song:
The Needle and the Damage Down – a song about heroin use and its effects on musicians: “…A lot of great art goes down the drain,” says Neil Young as he’s featured and performing the song on the Johnny Cash show:
Heart of Gold – an acoustic performance in 1971 at the BBC:
Like a Hurricane – from Live Rust:
Hey Hey My My (Into the Black) – Great concert video of Neil Young & Crazy Horse and elated fans, recorded on the “Ragged Glory” tour 1991:
Only Love Can Break Your Heart – from a recent performance at Carnegie Hall (NYC, January 9, 2014):
Harvest Moon – I love this song. The musical arrangement just makes me feel good. Hope it does you too! Studio version, music video.© 2012 WMG:
N is for NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND – an American Country-Folk-Rock band that was formed in California in 1966. It’s a band that went through at least a dozen changes in membership over the years, including changing the name from Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to just Dirt Band and back to Nitty Gritty! Two band members who remained loyal and were part of each of the band’s incarnations was Jeff Hanna (guitars, vocals) and Jimmie Fadden (drums, harmonica, vocals). The band is probably best known for its cover of the Jerry Jeff Walker song, Mr. Bojangles.
Here’s a performance of that song taken from the “Country Gold” fest in Mt. Aso, Kumamoto, Japan in 1990:
They are also known for the song Will the Circle Be Unbroken. Their 1972 album, with the same title, is a collaboration of bluegrass and country-western talent and musical greats. The history of this collaboration was the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s desire to tie together two generations of musicians.
From Wikipedia: “The album’s title comes from a song by Ada R. Habershon (re-arranged by A. P. Carter). Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was a young country-rock band with a hippie look. Acuff described them as “a bunch of long-haired West Coast boys.” The other players were much older and more famous from the forties, fifties and sixties, primarily as old-time country and bluegrass players. Many had become known to their generation through the Grand Ole Opry. However, with the rise of rock-and-roll, the emergence of the commercial country’s slick ‘Nashville Sound,’ and changing tastes in music, their popularity had waned somewhat from their glory years.
Every track on the album was recorded on the first or second take straight to two-track masters, so the takes are raw and unprocessed. Additionally, another tape ran continuously throughout the entire week-long recording session and captured the dialog between the players. On the final album many of the tracks—including the first track—begin with the musicians discussing how to do the song or who should come in where. …
Much later, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band recorded two subsequent albums, Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Volume Two and Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Volume III, in an attempt to repeat the process with other historically significant musicians. Volume Two won the Country Music Association’s 1989 Album of the Year as well as three Grammys. In 1990, the album was celebrated on the PBS music television program Austin City Limits, which featured a performance by the full ensemble of guests on the Carter Family song, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, from the original 1972 album.”
Here’s a fabulous video from Will the Circle Be Unbroken – Volume Two, featuring several musicians coming together to perform a studio version of the song, including JOHNNY CASH (I love that guy!), Bruce Hornsby, EmmyLou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, Chet Atkins, just to name just a few. Recorded in 1989. If you’re going to watch one video from this blog post, make it this one:
N is for No Doubt – I always loved this song by No Doubt. Only recently did I realize that Gwen Stefani was the lead vocals in this band, before she went solo. No Doubt was formed in California back in 1986 and their musical style was characterized as punk, reggae fusion, punk rock, pop punk, new wave, alternative rock and pop rock; they obviously experimented with a variety of styles and sounds. Their song Don’t Speak “was released in 1996 as the third single from the band’s third studio album, Tragic Kingdom (1995). Vocalist Gwen Stefani wrote the song with her brother Eric Stefani about her bandmate and ex-boyfriend Tony Kanal shortly after he ended their seven-year relationship.” (Source: Wikipedia)
Another No Doubt song that I really like:
It’s My Life
So who are your favorite N artists or bands? Who did I forget? Did you count the number of times Nazareth says “Now you’re messing with a son-of-a-bitch” in Hair of the Dog? If yes, what number did you come up with? Let us know in the Comments section!