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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…
V is for VAN MORRISON – ““Van the Man,” as he’s called, is a singer/songwriter musician from Northern Ireland who started his career as a teenager in the late 1950s. He played a variety of instruments including guitar, harmonica, keyboards and saxophone for various Irish show-bands covering the popular hits of the day. He rose to prominence in the mid-1960s as the lead singer of the Northern Irish R&B band “Them”, with whom he recorded the garage band classic “Gloria”. His solo career began under the pop-hit oriented guidance of Bert Berns with the release of the hit single “Brown Eyed Girl” in 1967. After Berns’ death, Warner Bros. Records bought out his contract and allowed him three sessions to record Astral Weeks in 1968. Even though this album would gradually garner high praise, it was initially a poor seller; however, the next one, Moondance, established Morrison as a major artist, and throughout the 1970s he built on his reputation with a series of critically acclaimed albums and live performances. Morrison continues to record and tour…” (Source: Wikipedia)
His performances have been described as mystical and transcendental. I’ve never seen him live but I just know when I hear his music, I immediately get in a good mood! Especially being that I’m a brown-eyed girl myself, this song is one of my favorites:
Brown-Eyed Girl – “Captured on the 22nd take on the first day, this song was released as a single in mid-June 1967, reaching #10 in the US charts in 1967. “Brown Eyed Girl” became Morrison’s most played song and over the years it has remained a classic; forty years later in 2007, it was the fourth most requested song of DJs in the US.” Source: Wikipedia
Here is a video of Van at the “It’s Too Late to Stop Now” tour in 1973 with the never released live version of Brown Eyed Girl with the Caledonian Soul Orchestra. Originally on “Blowin’ your mind” 1969. Copyright lyrics and music Exile
Moondance – the title track from his third solo album, released in 1970:
In 1971, Morrison released the acclaimed album Tupelo Honey, which produced this big hit: Wild Night. Here’s the complete version, with Ronnie Montrose on electric and acoustic guitars and backing vocals (audio only with video being a still of the Tupelo Honey album cover):
Wavelength – LOVE this song!
Into the Mystic – Van Morrison’s music, and in particular this song, makes me feel like I’m sitting on the grassy edge of a lake, with soft breezes brushing my face, and clouds rolling by on a sunny sky. Here’s a lyric video of the song. Close your eyes: feel the music and tell me, to where does this song take you?
V is for VAN HALEN – Van Halen is an American rock band formed in Pasadena, California, in 1972. From 1974 until 1985, the band comprised guitarist Eddie Van Halen, vocalist David Lee Roth, drummer Alex Van Halen, and bassist Michael Anthony. In 1985, the band replaced David Lee Roth with ex-Montrose lead vocalist Sammy Hagar (who I covered in M is for Montrose and S is for Sammy Hagar sections of this A-Z). They were one of the most successful rock acts of their time. “Van Halen achieved worldwide fame for their many popular songs and larger-than-life stage performances; unfortunately, they also became known for the drama surrounding the departures of former members. Controversy surrounded the band following the exits of Roth, Hagar, and Anthony; this controversy often included numerous conflicting press statements between the former members and the band.” Source: Wikipedia. There is serious drama with this band and you can get your fill of it here.
One thing that they revolutionized in the industry is the use of contract riders. I had heard the stories of Van Halen’s “outrageous” contractual demands (they wanted a bowl of M&Ms in their room but there couldn’t be any brown M&Ms, only the colored ones). You may have heard that too. Well, they did that for a very good reason and it’s actually pretty darn smart. The explanation, detailed on Wikipedia, goes like this: ”Van Halen had a notable effect on the modern rock music tour with their use of the concert technical contract rider. They were one of the first bands to use contract riders to specify a “wish list,” a practice now used throughout the music industry. They pioneered extensive requirements including power availability and stage construction details. The band’s demands were not limited to technical issues; their now-infamous rider specified that a bowl of M&M’s, with all of the brown M&M’s removed, was to be placed in their dressing room. According to David Lee Roth, this was listed in the technical portion of the contract not because the band wanted to make capricious demands of the venue, but rather as a test of whether or not the contract had actually been thoroughly read and honored, as it contained other requirements involving legitimate safety concerns. If the bowl was present, then the band members could safely assume the other, legitimate, items in the technical rider were being fulfilled to their satisfaction. Conversely, if the bowl was missing, or brown M&M’s were present, then the band members would be within their rights to have the venue inspect the work, ask it be redone, etc. Their concern for safety was real: during their earlier tours, not only had equipment been damaged, but several members of their road crew were nearly electrocuted, both due to inadequate safety measures and preparation on the part of the local venue.” Impressive, no?
I could list umpteen Van Halen songs, but these are my ultimate favs:
Runnin’ with the Devil – a lyrics video:
The Best of Both Worlds – my theme song! I want the best of both worlds. Always. Don’t we all?? Here’s a performance from 1989, Live at Tokoyo:
Finish What Ya Started – This collection video clips are from Van Halen Video Hits Volume 1 recorded in 1999
Jamie’s Cryin’– (audio only):
And the Cradle Will Rock – from 1980:
V is for VANILLA FUDGE – Vanilla Fudge is an American rock band known predominantly for their extended rock renderings of contemporary hit songs. The band’s original lineup—vocalist/organist Mark Stein, bassist/vocalist Tim Bogert, lead guitarist/vocalist Vince Martell, and drummer/vocalist Carmine Appice—recorded five albums during the years 1966–69, before disbanding in 1970. … The band has been cited as “one of the few American links between psychedelia and what soon became heavy metal.” Source: Wikipedia
Season of the Witch – extended song version (8+ minutes), with a very cool photo-montage video: (audio remastered in 2006):
This next song is probably their best known song and their biggest hit: their cover version of You Keep Me Hangin’ On, originally recorded by The Supremes. It was a Top 10 hit in the US and Australia and a Top 20 hit in the UK back in 1967. “This version featured Stein’s psychedelic-baroque organ intro and Appice’s energetic drumming… According to Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord, Vanilla Fudge’s organ-heavy sound was a large influence on the UK band Deep Purple, with Blackmore even stating that his band wanted to be a “Vanilla Fudge clone” in its early years.” (Source: Wikipedia)
That’s it for Letter V. Who are your favorite V bands and music artists? Who would you have included here?
Vanilla Fudge is a real blast from the past. I used to enjoy them–still do though they sound kind of dated I think.
I liked “Brown Eyed Girl” but for the most part I never cared for Van Morrison. Then in the mid-80’s I got a copy of the album Poetic Champions Compose and decided that it was one of the best albums ever. I became a big Van fan at that point and started acquiring every album I could find by him. He is now one of my favorites. Some great stuff over the years.
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Wrote By Rote
Yes, I agree that Vanilla Fudge has a dated sound, but to me, someone who spends a lot of time reminiscing, that’s what makes it so wonderful.
Did you know there was debate between biographers on the catagorizing of Van Morrison’s lyrics as poetry. From Wikipedia: “His lyrics show an influence of the visionary poets William Blake and W. B. Yeats and others such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. Biographer Brian Hinton believes “like any great poet from Blake to Seamus Heaney he takes words back to their origins in magic…Indeed, Morrison is returning poetry to its earliest roots – as in Homer or Old English epics like Beowulf or the Psalms or folk song – in all of which words and music combine to form a new reality.” Another biographer John Collis believes that Morrison’s style of jazz singing and repeating phrases preclude his lyrics from being regarded as poetry or as Collis asserts: “he is more likely to repeat a phrase like a mantra, or burst into scat singing. The words may often be prosaic, and so can hardly be poetry.””
Poetry or not, I think it’s brilliant!
Van Morrison is a music icon, but I liked his earlier stuff with “Them” more than the solo work.
Van Halen and Eddie’s guitar prowess in particular are cool. Their best period IMO was with Diamond Dave as front man. 🙂
LOVE VANILLA FUDGE!! ♥♥ Their psychedelic remakes are so unique!
Another V band I like is Velvet Revolver. Anything with Slash rocks, in my book! 😀
I’m not familiar with Velvet Revolver but they have really good sound. I’m listening to Fall to Pieces right now and I like it. Will definitely be checking them out more. Are they Canadian?
And I sooo love the Vanilla Fudge remakes. So psychedelic!
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Not Canadian, but a “super group” made up of members from Guns ‘n’ Roses and Stone Temple Pilots. From wikipedia: Velvet Revolver is an American hard rock supergroup consisting of former Guns N’ Roses members Slash, Duff McKagan, and Matt Sorum, alongside Dave Kushner formerly of punk band Wasted Youth and Stone Temple Pilots vocalist Scott Weiland who left the band in 2008. In 2004, the band achieved commercial success with their debut album, Contraband. Despite positive reviews, some critics initially described Velvet Revolver as a mere combination of Stone Temple Pilots and Guns N’ Roses, criticizing them for a “disconnection” between Scott Weiland and the rest of the band. With their single “Slither”, they won the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance.
Slash is an incredible guitarist and I love just about anything he does. Check this out:
Van Morrison is almost the only V you need. Mrs C is a brown eyed girl, too, and I suspect there are a lot of you out there with a soft spot for that song. I very much like his album Pay The Devil which is him doing various country songs. His Northern Ireland twang goes very well with those songs.
As an additional V might I suggest British punk rockers The Vibrators. Baby Baby and Stitch You Up were pretty good singles.
Nearly there, Michele. Get next week over and we can all take a rest!
Great name the Vibrators! Lol. I really like their Baby Baby song. They have good sound. And yep, Mark, we’re almost there! No more lengthy posts from me: the rest of the letters are pretty lean with bands. I’m looking forward to a rest tomorrow for sure! Blessed Sunday! 🙂
Reading another blog I was reminded of a group that I used to listen to a lot–Violent Femmes. They were a great band. Eventually I’ll be using one of their songs in a Battle of the Bands post and will tell the story of when I went to see them in concert.
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Wrote By Rote
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hmm, a new one to me. I thought, anyway. When I pulled up one of their albums on YouTube, I immediately recognized the song Blister in the Sun. Will look forward to that BOTB… Thanks for the band referral.
I’ve always thought the members of Van Halen were smart. Not all rock stars are dummies.
Indeed. Most musicians are not dummies. They are full of talent and smarts: I was so impressed by many of them as I read their biographies and the stories of their careers. Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your visit.
I don’t think I’ve listened to a lot of his music. And I actually thought the m&m thing was just being a diva.
I did too Sonia! I thought they were being outrageous but the M&M clause in the contract was actually quite brilliant. Ya gotta love Wikipedia 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.
I could listen to Van Morrison forever. Thanks for sharing all these great musicians!
Glad you enjoyed! Thanks so much for stopping by.
I just found you because you visited my mystery terms blog for the A-Z Challenge. I am super impressed you know so much about music. I am so dependent on DH to find what we listen to. Somehow, as a teen, I never got into the music scene. It wasn’t part of the life I led. Everyone tells me how much I missed out on, but then again, I can discover it all with a more mature ear now!
Ah, it’s never too late! Hope you can find something that you like here. Maybe your husband would like to check it out? For me, music is all about memories: a few notes of a song and I’m transported back to some place in time, experiencing flutters of nostalgia. That’s what music does for me. My friends who are more progressive in their music choices tell me I’m stuck in the 70s… but that’s pretty okay with me… 🙂
Thanks so much for stopping by!
I have the original single release of “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison. I really liked him from the get go, from his recordings with Them, notably, “Here Comes the Night” and that garage band classic, “Gloria.”
I also have the original single release of “You Keep Me Hanging On” by Vanilla Fudge. Boy, was I confused the first time I heard the extended album version on an underground FM Station. I hated to see them disband. Beck, Bogart and Appice just did not click for me.
As for Van Halen, I bought all their albums, until David Lee went solo. Then, I just bought David Lee Roth solo albums… I never had a problem with driving 55 miles an hour. 🙂
Great old music – all of them.
Thanks Sunni. Thanks for stopping by!
what an absolutely amazing theme for the A to Z Challenge!. Great work and very nice blog. Good luck with the rest of the challenge. I’ll be back often.
Oh Thanks Theresa! I’m so glad you liked it. I would love to have you back often! Thanks for taking the time to hang out here today…