About greyzoned/angelsbark

Michele Truhlik is a writer, blogger and small business entrepreneur. Previously an owner of an advertising agency and a bar, she currently has a dog-sitting business and a jewelry business and is much happier being out of the corporate world. She is also following her calling and is an Animal Chaplain/Pet Shaman and will be officially credentialed and ordained in 2015. She has been rescuing and adopting greyhounds since 1999. She has been owned by 8 greyhounds. Pictured here is #7, Picasso. You can find her blogging at angelsbark.wordpress.com.

Monday’s Music Moves Me – SONGS ABOUT PLACES I’VE LIVED

It’s Monday so it’s time for Monday’s Music Moves Me. Today’s theme comes from Ellen at 15 and Meowing. The theme is “Names of Places” so I decided to take it in the direction of SONGS ABOUT PLACES I’VE LIVED. This was fun to put together and I hope you have fun listening to my playlist and reading some info on each of the songs. Enjoy!

NIAGARA FALLS, NEW YORK (BUFFALO)

I was born and raised in Niagara Falls, New York, way back in 1962. The city of Niagara Falls, aside from being one of the world’s seven natural wonders, had been booming since the 50s when everyone was moving there from other states because jobs were more than plentiful. My parents moved there from Pennsylvania for that very reason.

I love my hometown. And I miss it so much…Even though my friends tell me that it’s not the town we grew up in anymore. But the Falls itself is still the amazing, incredible, magnificent waterfalls it has always been. For those who aren’t familiar, Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls that straddle the international border between the Canadian province Ontario and the American state of New York. They form the southern end of the Niagara Gorge. (Tons of information at Wikipedia and the NY Falls website).

The view from Prospect Park Observation Tower, looking south, across the American Falls toward the Horseshoe Falls

The city of Buffalo in New York state is located on the shores of Lake Erie. It is known as the “Queen City of the Lakes,” and Niagara Falls is only 25 miles away. The two cities being so close together was great during my wild and crazy “party years” (starting when I was 17 — the legal drinking age in New York state back in my day was 18 but I guess I naturally passed for 18 because I always got into the bars): the bars in Niagara County closed at 3am so we’d hop over the county line because the bars in Erie County didn’t close until 4am! Ah, those were the days…

Anyway, here are a few songs that are about Niagara Falls & Buffalo:

“Niagara Falls” by Chicago – “Niagara Falls” is the fourth single released by the American rock band, Chicago, from their 1986 album, Chicago 18. Lead vocals were shared by Jason Scheff and Bill Champlin. When writing the song, the band misspelled “Niagara” as “Niagra”; this mistake can be seen in the music video’s title and most likely on the album, as Warner Bros. Records and Chicago never corrected it. I gotta say, it has always driven me crazy when people misspell Niagara. I don’t know why it bugs me so much…it bugs me as much as someone misspelling my name (and I’m not talking friends or regular people who misspell my name, I’m talking about professionals and companies who should have correct info in their databases…Like when my voter registration card came in the mail, my name was misspelled. It’s just a hassle and one of my pet peeves).

Following the successful singles, “Will You Still Love Me?” (#3 US pop) and “If She Would Have Been Faithful…” (#17 US pop), “Niagara Falls” only reached #91 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart.

Chicago’s ballad ‘Niagara Falls’ is stylistically much the same as many other 80s pop ballads, but hooks its romance overtures to the permanence of Niagara Falls:

As long as Niagara falls,

Until the end of time,

Till hell freezes over,

You are forever mine

“Niagara” by Barbra Streisand – “Niagara” appears on Barbra Streisand’s Wet, an album released by Barbra Streisand in 1979. The album is a concept album of sorts with all the songs referring to, or expressing different interpretations of, water. Wet is also the first and the last word sung on the album.

The album was a major success for Barbra Streisand, due largely to the album’s No. 1 hit single, “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)”, a duet with American disco singer Donna Summer which underwent a retitling and change of emphasis in order to qualify under the water theme.

The song “Niagara” continued the water-based theme of the album but also weaves the location into a weighted ballad about lost love.

Niagara Falls has a long history of inspiring songwriters, and the landmark has often found its way into the lyrics of iconic songs– and will continue to be quoted, referenced and called upon for inspiration for a long time to come.

Here’s another waterfalls song that doesn’t specifically mention Niagara Falls but I like it so I’m including it because the mighty Niagara Falls is definitely a waterfalls that many chase:

“Waterfalls” by TLC – “Waterfalls” is a song by American recording group TLC. It was written by band member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes with Marqueze Etheridge and Organized Noize for TLC’s second album, CrazySexyCool (1994). The song was released as the third single from the album on May 29, 1995 in the US followed by a UK release on August 5, 1995.

Often considered the group’s signature song, “Waterfalls” was an international hit, topping the charts in many different territories. The song spent seven weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, giving the group their second US number one. The song was the number two song of the year on the Billboard 1995 year-end chart. “Waterfalls” also peaked at number one in New Zealand, Switzerland, and Germany, while reaching the top ten in many other countries. “Waterfalls” received critical acclaim, earning two Grammy nominations at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards in 1996 for Record of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

The song tackled issues of the illegal drug trade, promiscuity and HIV/AIDS. Jarett E. Nolan of BMG noted that “Waterfalls” was the first number one song ever to reference AIDS in one of its verses. The accompanying music video for the song reflected its socially conscious lyrics. With a million-dollar budget, the video was an MTV staple credited for giving the single much of its success. It stayed atop the MTV Video Monitor chart for over a month, making TLC the first act to ever achieve this feat.

The music video was directed by F. Gary Gray and features Ella Joyce, Bokeem Woodbine, Shyheim, Paul J. Alessi and Gabrielle Bramford. TLC had to force Antonio L.A. Reid to get the budget for the music video, which was filmed at Universal Studios Hollywood from June 8–9, 1995.

Like the song itself, the video tackles issues of illegal drug trade and HIV/AIDS, two crises that plagued the 1990s. A young man (Shyheim) goes against his mother’s advice to stop selling drugs and is killed before a drug deal. In other scenes, a woman in a relationship is shown convincing her partner (Alessi) not to use a condom. Afterwards, he looks in the mirror and sees that he has an early symptom of AIDS visible on his face, in the form of Kaposi’s sarcoma. He then sees a small photo frame on the dresser, showing all the people she has had sex with previously. The video also intercuts scenes of liquified versions of TLC performing to the song while standing on top of an ocean and performing in front of a real waterfall. At the end of the video, the young man involved with drug gangs appears in ghost form. He tries to hug his mother as she is walking down the streets, every time he tries to hug her she walks right through him. The bedroom of the couple shows the man’s face faded from the picture with the woman sitting alone on the bed, she too fades away, as they both die from AIDS.

The video won four awards at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards: Video of the Year, Best Group Video, Best R&B Video, and the Viewer’s Choice Award. Watkins stated in retrospect that the “video spoke for a whole epidemic.” TLC was the first African American group or artist to ever receive the trophy. If you want to see it I’ve included that video in my playlist.

Now for a little Buffalo…

“Truckin’” by the Grateful Dead – “Truckin'” is a song by the Grateful Dead, which first appeared on their 1970 album American Beauty. Written by band members Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, and lyricist Robert Hunter, “Truckin'” molds classic Grateful Dead rhythms and instrumentation. The lyrics refer to a drug raid of the band’s hotel lodgings in New Orleans during a concert tour earlier in 1970:

Busted, down on Bourbon Street

Set up, like a bowling pin

Knocked down, it gets to wearing thin

They just won’t let you be

The line, “Busted, down on Bourbon Street” refers to the incident on January 31, 1970 when members of the band were arrested in a drug bust that netted 19 people in New Orleans. The group was in town to play two shows at a club called the Warehouse, and the raid happened the morning after their first show at the French Quarter hotel where they were staying. Lesh, Weir and drummer Bill Kreutzmann were all arrested along with crew members and fans of the band who had joined them at the hotel. The story made the front page of the New Orleans Times-Picayune the next day, and drew national attention, with Rolling Stone running an article on the incident. Owsley Stanley, a Dead associate known for his pioneering work with LSD, was also arrested and labeled the “King of Acid” in the Times-Picayune piece. According to the Rolling Stone article, the band paid for bail and legal fees for all 19 arrested.

As for the song, its climactic refrain, “What a long, strange trip it’s been”, has achieved widespread cultural use in the years since the song’s release. I know that I’ve used that line on more than one occasion. How about you? Ever find yourself saying that line?

“Truckin’” was recognized by the United States Library of Congress in 1997 as a national treasure. Pretty cool.

So what does it have to do with Buffalo? There’s a line in the song:

Truckin’, up to Buffalo…Been thinkin’, you got to mellow slow

Takes time, you pick a place to go, and just keep truckin’ on.

The line “Truckin’ up to Buffalo” became the title of an album: a double CD soundtrack to the DVD video, which was recorded at Rich Stadium in Orchard Park on July 4, 1989.

Rich Stadium was home to the Buffalo Bills. I didn’t see the Bills play there but I did see some awesome artists perform there. Some friends took me for my birthday, I think it was in 1980, to a killer concert. The lineup was George Thorogood, Loverboy, Journey and the Rolling Stones! What a concert that was! In the words of the Grateful Dead, I can honestly say it was a “long, strange trip.”

 

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO

I graduated with my Associates Degree in Liberal Arts/Social Sciences from Niagara County Community College in 1981. In 1982, I moved to Youngstown Ohio to attend Youngstown State University where I majored in Advertising & Public Relations and got my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (BSBA) in 1984.

Ohio has some good people there! I met a ton and made some very good and lasting friendships, and to this day still talk to several of them. On the phone, no less! Who talks on the phone anymore??! My time there was enlightening to say the least. It was college, my first time living away from home and need I say, I had a blast! A good many days spent ditching my Business Economics class to hit the local bar for 10¢ drafts that kicked in at noon. Lots of dating, a few interesting relationships thrown in for good measure, some cool part-time jobs, some wonderful professors…and of course, some trauma. I mean what’s college without some personal trauma.

Anyway, here are a few songs that I associate with my time in Ohio:

“Youngstown” by Bruce Springsteen – “Youngstown” is a song by Bruce Springsteen from his 1995 album The Ghost of Tom Joad. Although many of the songs on the album were performed by Springsteen solo, the lineup for “Youngstown” includes Soozie Tyrell on violin, Jim Hanson on bass, Gary Mallaber on drums, co-producer Chuck Plotkin on keyboards, and Marty Rifkin on pedal steel guitar.

Revisiting a common Springsteen theme, that of the division between the wealthy and the working class, this song is about an unemployed steelworker in Youngstown, Ohio. Most people think that Bruce is singing this song to a woman named Jenny (“my sweet Jenny I’m sinkin’ down” etc.), but “Jenny” is the nickname given to the Blast Furnace at Youngstown steelworks – The Jeanette Blast Furnace (owned by Youngstown Sheet & Tube, which shut down in 1977, and named after the daughter of W.A. Thomas, who was the President of Brier Hill Steel).

It’s common practice at steelworks to have nicknames for blast furnaces – for example, at Scunthorpe steelworks in the UK the four furnaces are known as Bess, Victoria, Anne and Mary (after four Queens of England/Britain). The fact that Bruce’s character is singing to the furnace, rather than a person, changes the song considerably.

More than a single unemployed steelworker, the song goes deep and tells the tale of the rise and fall of Youngstown, Ohio, over several generations, from the discovery of iron ore nearby in 1803 through the decline of the steel industry in the area in the 1970s. It tells of how in the Civil War, Youngstown made the cannonballs that helped the Union prevail. Then the city built tanks and bombs to help win later wars, such as World War II. Finally, the boys of Youngstown went to fight the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Despite the town’s history, when it became uneconomical to keep the steel mills in Youngstown going, they were shut down, thus doing “what Hitler couldn’t do,” to the devastation of the community.

The song’s story unfolds as the narrative of one family’s history as factory-workers in Youngstown. The narrator of the song himself is a Vietnam War veteran (continuing Springsteen’s fixation with that war, also evident in songs such as “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Lost in the Flood”) and his father fought in World War II. Both also worked in the steel mills. The narrator had worked himself up to the job of scarfer, a difficult but low-paying job that entails torching the steel to remove imperfections. Although he describes the job as one “that would suit the devil well,” it is enough to put food on the table, pay his debts and provide a sense of purpose. When the mill is shut down, he tells the owners that “Once I made you rich enough/Rich enough to forget my name.” Finally, he prays that “the devil comes and takes me/To stand in the fiery furnace of hell.” Towards the end of the song, the scope expands beyond Youngstown to other areas that were devastated by the decline of the steel industry, including the Monongahela Valley, Minnesota’s Mesabi iron range and Appalachia.

The song is set to a sparse melody. Its simple chorus is:

Here in Youngstown

Here in Youngstown

My sweet Jenny, I’m sinkin’ down

Here darlin’ in Youngstown

An abandoned facility of the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company, owner of the Jeanette Blast Furnace, “Jenny” in the song. Its rusting hulk still stood along the Mahoning River and was visible for miles, constituting with others like it what one newspaper writer described as “the remains of a lost civilization.”

I don’t know if what I saw and photographed back in the early 80s was this particular mill (below) but it sure looks like it. I took some fabulous black & white photos of the closed steel mills, one of them even appearing in a YSU arts publication. I wish I could put my hands on those photos now as I’d share them here. They were quite stunning in their massive starkness.

Bethlehem Steel Mill in Youngstown, Ohio, closed and abandoned

Springsteen was inspired to write “Youngstown” and “The New Timer”, another Ghost of Tom Joad song, after reading Dale Maharidge’s 1985 book Journey to Nowhere: The Saga of the New Underclass, illustrated by Michael Williamson. Journey to Nowhere chronicled the story of middle class Americans who lost their jobs and had become hobos riding freight trains like in the Great Depression. The stories of dying steel towns inspired “Youngstown” and the stories of boxcar hobos inspired “New Timer”.

In an interview with BBC Radio, Springsteen stated that his connection to this song was

“probably through my own kids and my own job, in the sense that the thought of being told after 30 years or so, that what you’re doing isn’t useful anymore, or has no place, or that the world has changed and that’s the way it is. And you’re 50 and gotta find something else to do. That’s almost impossible … I don’t know what I would do in that circumstance.”

With “Youngstown”, he managed to trace the rise of America as an industrial power, and the subsequent breaking of its social contract. This contrast between the mythology of the American Dream and the realities faced by its working-class citizens is among Springsteen’s most familiar themes. Activist historian Howard Zinn included the lyrics of the song in his 2004 book Voices from a People’s History of the United States.

Writing for The New York Times Magazine, author Nicholas Dawidoff said that “Youngstown” was the best song on the album and was an example of “best of his songs [which] have all the tension and complexity of great short fiction.” Not everyone was taken with the song; The Dallas Morning News criticized its “ham-fisted factory/hell metaphor”.

No singles were released from the album in the United States, but “Youngstown” was the song that Columbia Records most pitched to album oriented rock radio stations. The effort met with little success; as one station program director remarked, “Yeah, that’ll get everybody up and dancing.”

The song was popular in Youngstown itself, getting frequent local radio airplay and generating brisk sales of The Ghost of Tom Joad. An editor at The Youngstown Vindicator said that town reaction split into three camps: “Some people are taking this as, ‘Yea Youngstown! Finally somebody noticed!’ Some people are taking it as a real vindication of the working man. And some people feel, ‘Oh no, we thought we had all this behind us!”

Springsteen made a point of playing Youngstown’s Stambaugh Auditorium in January 1996 during the solo acoustic Ghost of Tom Joad Tour, and tickets for the 2,600-seat venue were sold in record time. During the visit he was given the key to the city by Mayor Patrick Ungaro.

Springsteen introduced “Youngstown” at that show by saying, “This is about the men and women who lived in this town and who built this country. It’s about [the people] who gave their sons and daughters to the wars that were fought … and who were later declared expendable.” He added that “You get into tricky territory when you write a song about someone’s hometown. You don’t want to get it wrong.”

The audience, which included many who worked in the mills or had family members who did, was hushed during the performance and then gave Springsteen a standing ovation after its completion. Afterward, Springsteen was relieved that the performance had gone over well and changed his travel plans to stay an extra day and visit historic sites in the area.

Springsteen stands in front of the “Jenny” – a shut-down steel furnace in Youngstown Ohio

And that’s why Bruce Springsteen is so beloved by blue collar folks, of which I proudly am one…

“Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – “Ohio” is a protest song and counterculture anthem written and composed by Neil Young in reaction to the Kent State shootings of May 4, 1970, and performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. It was released as a single, backed with Stephen Stills’s “Find the Cost of Freedom”, peaking at number 14 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 16 in Canada.

The record was mastered with the participation of the four principals, rush-released by Atlantic and heard on the radio with only a few weeks’ delay. Although a live version of “Ohio” was included on the group’s 1971 double album Four Way Street, the studio versions of both songs did not appear on an LP until the group’s compilation So Far was released in 1974. The song also appeared on the Neil Young compilation albums Decade, released in 1977, and Greatest Hits, released in 2004. The song also appears on Neil Young’s Live at Massey Hall album, which he recorded in 1971 but did not release until 2007.

Young wrote the lyrics to “Ohio” after seeing the photos of the incident in Life Magazine. On the evening that CSN&Y entered Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles, the song had already been rehearsed, and the quartet—with their new rhythm section of Calvin Samuels and Johnny Barbata—recorded it live in just a few takes. During the same session, they recorded the single’s equally direct B-side, Stephen Stills’s ode to the war’s dead, “Find the Cost of Freedom.” It was released just ten days after the tragedy.

After the double’s release, it was banned from some AM radio stations because of the challenge to the Nixon Administration in the lyrics but received airplay on underground FM stations in larger cities and college towns. Today, the song receives regular airplay on classic rock stations.

The lyrics help evoke the turbulent mood of horror, outrage, and shock in the wake of the shootings, especially the line “four dead in Ohio,” repeated throughout the song. “Tin soldiers and Nixon coming” refers to the Kent State shootings where Ohio National Guardsmen shot and killed four students and Young’s attribution of their deaths to the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, even though the National Guardsmen had not been federalized and were under orders from Ohio Governor Jim Rhodes. A tin soldier is a toy soldier, mindlessly controlled by its owner. In this song, Young likens the National Guard troops to tin soldiers controlled by Nixon. It’s likely he got the metaphor from a 1969 song by The Original Caste called “One Tin Soldier,” which went to #1 in Young’s native Canada (it was an American hit two years later for the band Coven). Other songs with the phrase in the title include “The Little Tin Soldier” by Donovan (1965) and “Tin Soldier” by the Small Faces (1967).

Crosby once stated that Young keeping Nixon’s name in the lyrics was “the bravest thing I ever heard.” The American counterculture took the group as its own after this song, giving the four a status as leaders and spokesmen they would enjoy to a varying extent for the rest of the decade.

In his liner notes for the song on the Decade retrospective, Young termed the Kent State incident as ‘probably the biggest lesson ever learned at an American place of learning’ and reported that “David Crosby cried when we finished this take.” Indeed, Crosby can be heard keening “Four, why? Why did they die?” and “How many more?” in the fade.

An article in the Guardian in 2010 describes the song as the ‘greatest protest record’ and ‘the pinnacle of a very 1960s genre.’ while also saying ‘The revolution never came.’

The following is from a Songfacts interview with Jerry Casale, co-founder and bassist of the new wave band Devo, who was on campus the day of the shootings and gave this firsthand account:

“I was a student, I was a member of SDS – an antiwar group called Students for a Democratic Society, trying to restore Democracy at a time when LBJ and Nixon were running roughshod over it. There were several antiwar groups. That protest that day where everybody got shot was a protest against the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia. It was a secret expansion, Nixon had done it the night before and we found out about it the next day – the whole nation did. They did it without an act of congress, without passing any new law or having any meetings. It was completely unconstitutional.

So we’re out there at noon, about 3,500 students at Kent State were out there. The governor, who certainly was a pro-war kind of guy, Governor Rhodes, he had placed the National Guard inside the heating plant of the school the night before anticipating what would happen when the students found out about Cambodia. Not only did he do that, but he waited until about 9 a.m. on May 4th to declare Martial Law, which suspends all first amendment rights of The Constitution, meaning that any assembly is automatically illegal, you’re automatically committing a crime.

These National Guardsmen poured out of the heating plant, surrounded the protesters, and with a bullhorn announced that Martial Law had been declared and that we were all going to jail. Everybody starts chanting and screaming and they start shooting tear gas and some of the more ballsy protesters, while they’re coughing and choking and puking are trying to throw it back, but most of the kids were anywhere from 50 to 100 yards away from these lines of National Guardsmen with guns.

Nobody believed that the guns were actually loaded with live ammo. They just suddenly formed a row. The first one knelt and the second one stood, and they just shot right into the crowd, shot at all of us, down the hill at all of us. The worst thing about it is that two of the four students killed weren’t part of the demonstration, weren’t part of an antiwar group. They’d just come out of class from the journalism building at that time and come out on their way to their next class and were looking at the protest, just seeing what the hell’s going on, and they got killed. The bullets just went everywhere, it was like a scatter-gun approach, like shooting geese. A lot of the bullets went over the heads of the protesters and kept going straight down the hill. One of the kids that’s paralyzed for life was getting into his car to leave campus after his class, and they shot him in the back. He was at least 200 yards away and wanted nothing to do with what was going on. It was shocking. It pretty much knocked any hippie that I had left in me right out of me that day.

I had been a member of the honors college and the only way I went to school was with a scholarship. My family was poor and I got a scholarship to go to school. What I had to do every year to earn my scholarship was work three months in the summer for the university admitting new students to the honors college, the incoming freshman, and helping them arrange their curriculum, taking them through the registration process. The summer before May 4th, I had befriended Jeffery Miller and Allison Krause, two honor students, and they turn out to be two of the four killed on May 4th. So I’d known both of them nine months before this happened, and so when I realized that this girl on her stomach with a huge exit wound in her back with blood running down the sidewalk was Allison, I nearly passed out. I sat down on the grass and kind of swooned around and lied down. I was in shock, I couldn’t move.

The government and the press tried to lie about what happened as well as they could. The fact that anybody knows what happened is amazing because they did such a good job of muddying it up and lying, it was amazing. The final chapter there was that the parents of the students who were shot and killed banded together and went on a class action suit against Governor Rhodes and the state of Ohio and the National Guard, and summarily lost across the board. These kids that were shot were 18 and 19 years old. Two of them were 18 and two of them were 19. They lost because by law, no one was allowed to be having a protest once Martial Law was declared, and they threw it out of the court system. I don’t think anyone wants to know the truth. It ruins the myth of freedom in America to find out how easily it can be gone.”

The Kent State shootings had a profound effect on some of the students who later became prominent musicians. Chrissie Hynde was a student at the time, and eventually formed The Pretenders. (Interestingly, Chrissie Hynde with the Pretenders is included here in my playlist post as another one of my Ohio songs).  Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale were also on campus, and after the shootings, they developed the band Devo based on the concept of “De-Evolution,” meaning the human race was regressing. Said Casale, “It refocused me entirely. I don’t think I would have done Devo without it. It was the deciding factor that made me live and breathe this idea and make it happen. In Chrissie Hynde’s case, I’m sure it was a very powerful single event that was traumatic enough to form her sensibility and account for a lot of her anger.” Mothersbaugh added, “It was the first time I’d heard a song about something I’d been a participant in. It affected us. It was part of our life.”

The music videos I chose for my playlist have actual news photos from the event. I included a second “Ohio” video at the end of the playlist because it has different event photos and just because it’s a great song worth hearing twice.

“My City Was Gone” by The Pretenders – “My City Was Gone” is a song by the rock group The Pretenders. The song originally appeared in October 1982 as the B-side to the single release of “Back on the Chain Gang”. The song was included on the album Learning to Crawl released in early 1984, and it became a radio favorite in the US. It is sometimes referred to as “The Ohio Song” for its constant reference to the state, though it is not part of the song’s title. The song’s final title was because there had already been a song called “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

The song was written by Pretenders leader Chrissie Hynde, and reflected her growing interest in environmental and social concerns; the lyrics take the form of an autobiographical lament, with the singer returning to her childhood home of Ohio and discovering that rampant development and pollution had destroyed the “pretty countryside” of her youth. The song makes a number of specific references to places in and around Akron, Ohio including South Howard Street (line 5), the historic center of Akron which was leveled to make way for an urban plaza with three skyscrapers and two parking decks (line 8).

The opening bass riff from this song “was something that Tony Butler used to play just as a warm-up,” said Steve Churchyard, the engineer for the record.

Use by Rush LimbaughUgh!

The instrumental opening of the song (before Hynde’s vocals appear at about 40 seconds) has been used as the opening theme ‘bumper’ for Rush Limbaugh’s popular American talk radio program since 1984, during his days at KFBK in Sacramento, California. Limbaugh said in 2011 that he chose it because of the irony of a conservative using such an anti-conservative song, though he mainly liked its “unmistakable, totally recognizable bass line.”

In 1999, Rolling Stone magazine reported that, according to Hynde’s manager, Limbaugh had neither licensed the song nor asked permission to use it. According to Rolling Stone, EMI took action after Limbaugh told a pair of reporters in 1997 that “it was icing on the cake that it was [written by] an environmentalist, animal rights wacko and was an anti-conservative song. It is anti-development, anti-capitalist and here I am going to take a liberal song and make fun of [liberals] at the same time.” EMI issued a cease and desist request that Limbaugh stop using the song, which he did. When Hynde found out during a radio interview, she said that her parents loved and listened to Limbaugh and she did not mind its use. A usage payment was agreed upon which she donated to PETA. She later wrote to the organization saying, “In light of Rush Limbaugh’s vocal support of PETA’s campaign against the Environmental Protection Agency’s foolish plan to test some 3,000 chemicals on animals, I have decided to allow him to keep my song, ‘My City Was Gone’, as his signature tune…”

“Girl from Ohio” by the Outlaws – I love the Outlaws. And I love this song! I’m not sure what album it first appeared on but it’s on The Best of the Outlaws: Green Grass and High Tides, a sixteen track compilation album by that southern rock band Outlaws, released in 1996 that featured all their major hits.

This song is a particular favorite of Outlaws founding member Henry Paul. It holds a very special place in his heart: “I really love that song,” Paul says. He wrote it about “my girlfriend, you know that first big one that you get when you’re in high school? She moved to Ohio after she graduated from high school, and it was just like me trying to make it in the music business and wanting to ride back into town as a big star and sweep her off her feet and get her back. And I’ve had a lot of success with that song.”

In fact, it was because of this song that he was able to reconnect with his lost love. Says Paul, “Oh my God, it rekindled this incredible love affair. That woman and I would rekindle that love affair almost like clockwork every ten years. It was a reoccurring sort of theme right up ’til somewhat recently, at which point we figured out that it wasn’t so much her and I, it was more the time in our life. God, I loved that girl. I just loved her.”

 

WASHINGTON DC

I lived in the Washington DC area for six years (1985-1991) and this is where my advertising career sprouted and flourished. It was a very exciting, fast-paced, deadline pressured, high stress, incredibly social industry: as a media planner/buyer I was constantly wined & dined by the television and radio sales reps; as an Account Executive at a classic rock radio station (WCXR 105.9) I was constantly wining and dining my clients and buyers. And then there were all the parties, the fancy-schmancy glitz and glamour events put on by the local media. On top of all that craziness was the reality that I was in a very exhilarating city, a metropolitan tri-state region that is the culturally rich environment of the nation’s capital.

When I moved there, I found a condo close to the office of my new job, having just been transferred from Buffalo, and ended up settling in suburban Maryland, along the B-W Parkway (the Baltimore-Washington Parkway). So it was just a quick hop on the parkway and I could be in Baltimore, which is also a cool city. I always enjoyed the Inner Harbor and the Baltimore Orioles games are fun too.

Here are a few songs about the DC area:

I’m starting off with a goofy ditty that I know absolutely nothing about but sometimes when I think of my days back in DC and Maryland, I think about some of fun times I’ve had with friends and associates there. I always think about crabs. Maryland is known for its crabs, especially blue crabs…and their incredible crab cakes (YUM!). One night a friend took me to her favorite crab house and introduced me to Steamer Clams. We had a big ol’ bucket of Steamers and a bunch of beers and had so much fun. I have not had Steamer Clams since then.

So anyway, here’s a fun little holiday Maryland crab song:

“Crabs for Christmas” by David DeBoy  Lol!

Next up is:

“Rock Creek Park” by The Blackbyrds – Rock Creek Park is a large urban park that bisects the Northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C. The park was created by an Act of Congress in 1890, and today is administered by the National Park Service.

Donald Byrd was a celebrated jazz trumpeter whose career spanned over half a century and included more than 50 recordings as a bandleader, with dozens more as a sideman. He was one of the few jazzers to come out of the bebop era and successfully transitioned into R&B and funk. During the 1970s, Byrd served on the jazz faculty at Howard University and assembled several of his students to form The Blackbyrds, and he served as the ensemble’s producer. “Rock Creek Park” is the opening track on the band’s third album, 1975’s City Life. There isn’t much to the lyrics, but we can imagine the encounter that gave rise to them. The melody also serves as the hook for Oddisee‘s 2011 track of the same name, which is the title track to an entire album of songs that Rock Creek Park inspired.—from contributor Sriram Gopal

For some reason, this song reminded me of an incredible sculpture, The Awakening by Seward Johnson, that I was introduced to when visiting Hains Point which is on the southern tip of East Potomac Park, a peninsula that is a tourist spot during Washington’s Cherry Blossom time. Although the song has nothing to do with the sculpture, it brought the image of the immense art works to mind.

The Awakening was created by J. Seward Johnson, Jr. in 1980 as part of Washington, DC’s 11th annual Sculpture Conference, and the sculpture was originally installed at Hains Point in East Potomac Park, Washington, D.C.. Hains Point was designated by Congress as the site for a National Peace Garden in 1987. Although no work had started on the National Peace Garden for many years, the decision still prompted the eventual sale of the sculpture by its owner, The Sculpture Foundation. Milton Peterson purchased the sculpture for $750,000 in 2007 for installation at his new National Harbor development in Maryland. Crews removed The Awakening from Hains Point in February 2008 for its move to National Harbor. At the National Harbor development, the sculpture was installed on a specially built beach along the Potomac River.

The Awakening (1980) is a 72-foot statue of a giant embedded in the earth, struggling to free himself, located at National Harbor in Prince George’s County, Maryland, USA, just outside the District of Columbia (As mentioned, it used to be in Hains Point).

The statue consists of five separate aluminum pieces buried in the ground, giving the impression of a distressed giant attempting to free himself from the ground. The left hand and right foot barely protrude, while the bent left leg and knee jut into the air. The 17-foot high right arm and hand reach farther out of the ground. The bearded face, with the mouth in mid-scream, struggles to emerge from the earth.

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The Awakening in its former site at Hains Point, Washington, DC. Photos from the Seward Johnson Atelier website

The Awakening was Seward Johnson’s first monumental-scale public artwork. This giant, emerging from the earth at 70 feet in breadth and l7 feet tall, became an international sensation as it sparks multitudes of interpretations.

“It seems as though I’ve had the story of The Awakening described to me in at least sixty different ways. People have asked me if it’s the Second Coming, or Gulliver. I’ve had Buddhists write to ask if it symbolizes man breaking free from bondage, as it does in their religious tradition. A piece like The Awakening is always a hell of a lot of fun because the scale produces such strong effects. Every volume of fairy tales or myths has stories about giants, starting with the Greeks and before.” – Seward Johnson

“Washington, DC” by the Magnetic Fields – The Magnetic Fields (named after the André Breton/Philippe Soupault novel Les Champs Magnétiques) is an American indie pop band founded and led by Stephin Merritt. Merritt is the group’s primary songwriter, producer, and vocalist, as well as frequent multi-instrumentalist. The Magnetic Fields is essentially a vehicle for Merritt’s songwriting. Merritt’s recognizable lyrics are often about love and with irregular or neutral gender roles, and are by turns ironic, tongue-in-cheek, bitter, and humorous.

The band released their debut single 100,000 Fireflies in 1991. The single was typical of the band’s earlier career, characterized by synthesized instrumentation by Merritt, with lead vocals provided by Susan Anway. A more traditional band later materialized; it is now composed of Merritt, Claudia Gonson, Sam Davol, and John Woo, with occasional guest vocals by Shirley Simms. The band’s best-known work is the 1999 three-volume concept album 69 Love Songs.

69 Love Songs is their sixth studio album, released on September 7, 1999 by Merge Records. As its title indicates, 69 Love Songs three-volume concept album is composed of 69 love songs, all written by Magnetic Fields frontman Stephin Merritt.

The song “Washington DC” is on Volume 2 of the 69 Love Songs album. Vocals by Claudia Gonson.

D.C. is but a blip on the sprawling 1999 masterpiece 69 Love Songs, but it nevertheless inspired one of the album’s most cheerful tracks. That lighthearted mood is probably helped by the fact that it’s led not by Stephin Meritt’s morose bass baritone but Claudia Gonson’s unassuming warble. The song’s lyrical nods to tourist favorites like the cherry blossoms and The Mall seem charmingly unironic, perhaps seen through love goggles because, after all, “It’s my baby’s kiss that keeps me coming back.”—Pat Padua

“Don’t Go Back to Rockville” by R.E.M. – “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville” is the second and final single released by R.E.M. from their second studio album Reckoning. The song failed to chart on either the Billboard Hot 100 or the UK Singles Charts.

The song was written by Mike Mills (credited to Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe), in 1980, as a plea to his then girlfriend, Ingrid Schorr, not to return to Rockville, Maryland, where her parents lived. Schorr, who later became a journalist, has written about her amusement with the factual inaccuracies about her relationship with Mills and the background of the song that often appear in books about the band. Peter Buck has stated that the song was originally performed in a punk/thrash style, and that it was recorded for this single in its now more-familiar country-inspired arrangement as a joke aimed at R.E.M. manager Bertis Downs.

Over time, Mike Mills has taken lead vocals instead of Michael Stipe. On R.E.M.’s appearance on VH1 Storytellers in 1998, Mills performed the song solo on piano. A live version of the song was released as the B-side to “Leaving New York” in 2004 and on R.E.M. Live in 2007.

Might as well leave the DC section with this recognizable tune:

“Washington Post March” by John Philip Sousa – “The Washington Post” is a march composed by John Philip Sousa in 1889. Since then, it has remained as one of his most popular marches throughout the United States and many other countries.

In 1889, the owners of The Washington Post newspaper requested that John Philip Sousa, the leader of the United States Marine Band, compose a march for the newspaper’s essay contest awards ceremony. Sousa obliged; “The Washington Post March” was introduced at the ceremony on June 15, 1889, and it became quite popular. It led to a British journalist dubbing Sousa “The March King”. Sousa is honored in The Washington Post building for his contribution to the newspaper and his country.

The composition is in the public domain in the US, as its copyright has expired.

AUSTIN, TEXAS

With all that’s wonderful about Washington DC, it started to get on my nerves. Suddenly the excitement had worn off and I felt like I was in the midst of 3.2 million people with an attitude…and the city kinda turned me into a bitch and I didn’t like it. I wasn’t happy there anymore. I considered going back home and in fact was offered a job at one of the rock stations there but I decided I didn’t want to schlep around making sales calls in 3inch heels having to climb over snow-packed curbs to get in to see clients. (I visited this station in the winter so I experienced it firsthand, trying to navigate the ice and snow going to the interview).

Anyway I went back to my place in the DC area (Maryland) and tried to figure out what to do with my life. When my next vacation came up, I went to visit a good friend who had been living in San Antonio, Texas for several years. To say I was completely blown away is an understatement: the people were super friendly, the attitudes were fantastic, the vibe was completely laid back … it was me! After my vacation there I went back to DC and started telling my friends I wanted to move to San Antonio. Several of my friends had graduated from UT (University of Texas) and they me, “If you liked San Antonio, you will LOVE Austin.” The more I talked to folks, the more that was the apparent general consensus. And so, when I had my next vacation, I set up 12 interviews between the two cities: I interviewed in the beer industry in San Antonio (why, you ask? Well, while in radio, I had several beer clients and dealt with the sales reps and they had a great gig, doing promotions at bars and festivals and having fun all the time so I thought, “Why not? Selling beer can’t be much different from selling radio, right?”) and will most of the radio stations in Austin. I ended up getting a job offer at a station in Austin. I went home, gave notice to the radio station where I had worked for three years (and it was hard to leave those folks), packed up my stuff and three weeks later I was in Austin.

I’ve been here since 1991 and I’m still in love with this city. I could write a book about all that’s happened in my life over these last 27 years and I’ll save that for another time. Being that Austin is the “Live Music Capital of the World”, let’s get right to the music.

I found an article online that was a treasure trove of great songs about Austin and Texas. Since it’s 3:00 in the morning on Monday, I don’t have time to go deep on all these great Texas songs, I’m just going to borrow from the article’s author.

Song blurbs taken from an article on the Mapquest Travel website, “10 Songs About Austin” by Andy L. Kubai:

“Texas on a Saturday Night” by Willie Nelson – If there’s anyone who personifies Austin as a musical and socially aware city, it’s Willie Nelson. Heck, the man had a statue erected to him on the corner of Willie Nelson Boulevard (formerly Second Street). His song, “Texas on a Saturday Night,” although never mentioning Austin by name, might as well be about Austin because there are few places in Texas with weekends (and weeknights) as musically and culturally active as Austin. There aren’t any other cities that scream “Willie Nelson” like the one he calls home.

“Travis County” by Gary Clark Jr – (also from Andy’s article): An Austin original, Gary Clark, Jr. is a guitar wizard on the rise. With sonic influences spanning jazz, blues, hip hop, garage, and soul, he’s one of rock’s rising stars. In 2012, he first lit up the stage at ACL (Austin City Limits) with this smart little jumper. Referencing not just the county but the jail, this rock and roller tells the story of a run-in with the law and a stint in Travis County jail. It also hints at the social injustices beneath the fabric of every modern cosmopolitan wonderland.

“Texas Flood” by Stevie Ray Vaughan – (another Andy article blurb): Stevie Ray Vaughan made his bones on the Austin City Limits stage, so his song “Texas Flood” is especially poignant in the wake of 2015’s horrendous flooding. With talent forged in the emerging Austin music scene of the early 80s, Stevie Ray Vaughan was local guitar hero until David Bowie scooped him up for his Let’s Dance album. After that, Vaughan’s elevator was headed straight up to the top floor. “Texas Flood” represents the sound of Austin City Limits in the 1980s, and Stevie is still a quintessential Austin musician. In fact, his statue welcomes tourists to Lady Bird Lake trail.

Here’s a classic live performance of Stevie doing “Texas Flood” with Double Trouble and Jimmie Vaughan at the Washington Convention Center for the Presidential Inaugural Concert in 1989. The black-tie event was an historical moment: an official inaugural event featuring some of the finest musicians of the ’50s and ’60s from Stax and Chess Records including Bo Diddley, Percy Sledge and Carla Thomas, along with several hotshot Texas blues guitarists such as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmie Vaughan at the height of their careers. You can buy the complete concert from Shout! Factory right here.

In case this video gets denied here on my post, be sure to click here to see it on YouTube. Awesome and classic Stevie!

“Gimme Some” by Grupo Fantasma – Although this song never actually refers to the city by name, it’s all Austin. If any band represents the fusion sound of this diverse city, it’s Grupo Fantasma. This nine- to ten-piece Tejano, funk, soul, jazz fusion combo has been shaking butts in Austin since 1990. Not only does “Gimme Some” characterize the city’s cultural blend, but with its off-beat humor, it acts as the flip side to Spoon’s “Anything You Want.” Their comical video, lampooning the PBS pledge drives, was shot on renowned local theater group Rude Mechanical‘s stage.

“Screw You, We’re From Texas” by Ray Wylie HubbardThis one makes me giggle because it is sooooo Austin and one of the reasons I love this town!

If there’s any song that covers the devil-may-care attitude that characterizes old Austin (and to a lesser extent, new Austin), it’s Ray Wylie Hubbard’s offbeat “Screw You…” Active in the cow punk, blues, outlaw country, and roots rock scene, Hubbard’s snarky song gets to the nub of Austin’s weirdo vibe, discussing the eclectic style of dress (cowboy boots, jeans, Hawaiian shirt, and mirrored sunglasses) that once characterized the town. He also gives a shout out to classic local venues like StubbsJohn T Floore’s Country Store, and scores of local musicians.

 

That’s all folks! Hope you enjoyed the 4M post I put together with Songs about Places I’ve Lived. Thanks Ellen, from 15 and Meowing for giving us today’s theme. So tell me, were any of these songs new to you? What songs would you include in a post with Songs about Places YOU’VE Lived?

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.

This is a Blog Hop!

 

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Battle of the Bands RESULTS: Jump Into the Fire by Nilsson

I’m finally coming in with my Battle of the Bands RESULTS post. Sorry for the delay but my Mom had surgery today and it’s been a bit crazy getting everything ready and taken care of beforehand — like getting her taxes done yesterday, which was a long grueling process, and just all the rest. You know. Anyway, I just bounced in to tally up the votes. Our battle was between the Hollywood Vampires and Low Cut Connie as to who did the best cover version of Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire.”

Before the winner is crowned I’ll share with you my vote:

I thought this was a tough battle because both bands brought their A-games to this one. The Hollywood Vampires version is great and I love how they incorporate into the song two of Harry Nilsson’s other hit songs, “One” at the beginning and “Coconut” at the end. This all-star supergroup no doubt has some powerful musicianship.

However, as much as I liked the Hollywood Vamps version, I was bowled over by Low Cut Connie’s energy and the band’s synergy that come together to crank out some kickass music. Frontman Adam Weiner rocks the piano…and I love me some decent piano-playing. I also enjoyed watching their video as it’s obvious that this group of guys really enjoy what they’re doing and they have fun performing.

So my vote for “Jump Into the Fire” goes to Low Cut Connie.

Now, how did everyone else vote? Well, it was a nail-biter battle for sure. It’s pretty evenly split. In fact, had I voted for Hollywood Vampires, this battle would be ending in a tie. But since my vote landed with Low Cut Connie, the tally shakes out like this:

LOW CUT CONNIE   –  7 votes

HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES  –  5 votes 

Thanks everybody, for playing along. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed putting it together for you. I’ll close out this Results post with another great music video of Low Cut Connie doing their song “Boozophilia”, which you know if you read my battle blurb on the band, was on Obama’s 2015 summer Spotify playlist. Give this a watch and you’ll see why I like these guys so much. So much in fact that I’ll be doing an “Artist Spotlight” on the group in one of my upcoming Monday’s Music Moves Me posts. Stay tuned.

So, what did you think of this Low Cut Connie music video?

Hey, I’ll be back next month on the 15th with my next Battle of the Bands. Until then, shake it up and rock on…

 

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me – A Kaleidoscope of Color Songs – The GOLD Edition

(Note: If you’re looking for my Battle of the Bands post, well, you just passed the link but anytime you come here, you can find a list of my recent posts with links on my sidebar; or you can simply scroll down on the Home page until you reach it. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…)

Today’s Monday’s Music Moves Me hop is a Freebie theme, meaning we can do anything we want with our music posts. I’m sure it won’t be any surprise that I’m continuing my KALEIDOSCOPE OF COLOR SONGS SERIES. Since I did Silver last week, today I’ll be highlighting the color GOLD.

Here is my playlist with my favorite songs with the color GOLD in the title. I’ve pulled together some cool info, backstories and fun facts about each of the songs. After that is an interesting bit on the meaning of the color Gold. Enjoy!

Sister Golden Hair by America – Remember the band America? Every time I hear a song by them, it takes me back to when I had just started college and was working part-time for Waldenbooks. It was a great job! I remember my starting pay was minimum wage which at the time was $2.65/hour (!) but Walden’s was a great company and we got regular raises. (It’s shocking to think that was the hourly wage back then in 1980 but that was 38 years ago! Good God, we sure as hell should be A LOT farther along with the minimum wage rates in this country! …but that’s a topic for another day).

Back to music: You know the music that is usually played in bookstores: it’s typical book-browsing music, background music. But the managers I worked for (Kevin & Sue) were extremely cool people and while the store’s album collection consisted primarily of classical and instrumental “elevator music”, they did have the America’s Greatest Hits album.

The album actually has two names: History, to keep with the group’s tradition of issuing albums with names beginning with the letter “H,” and America’s Greatest Hits, to indicate that it is a compilation of the group’s hits. Of course I’d always put on that album during every shift I worked, usually playing it a few times each shift. Those were some good days back then…good people, good times.

Anyway, about America: They were a rock band formed in England in 1970 by Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek, and Gerry Beckley. The trio met as sons of US Air Force personnel stationed in London, where they began performing live.

Beckley, Peek and Bunnell in 1972

America achieved significant popularity in the 1970s and was famous for the trio’s close vocal harmonies and light acoustic folk rock sound. The band released a string of hit albums and singles, many of which found airplay on pop/soft rock stations.

The band came together shortly after the members’ graduation from high school, and a record deal with Warner Bros. Records followed. Their debut 1971 album, America, included the transatlantic hits “A Horse with No Name” and “I Need You”; Homecoming (1972) included the single “Ventura Highway”; and Hat Trick (1973), a modest success on the charts which fared poorly in sales, included one minor hit song “Muskrat Love”. 1974’s Holiday featured the hits “Tin Man” and “Lonely People”; and 1975’s Hearts generated the number one single “Sister Golden Hair” alongside “Daisy Jane.” History: America’s Greatest Hits, a compilation of all of their charting hit singles to date, was released the same year and was certified multi-platinum in the United States and Australia. Peek left the group in 1977, and their commercial fortunes declined, despite a brief return to the top in 1982 with the single “You Can Do Magic”. The group continues to record material and tour with regularity. Their 2007 album Here & Now was a collaboration with a new generation of musicians who credited the band as an influence.

“Sister Golden Hair” is a song written by Gerry Beckley and recorded for their fifth album Hearts (1975). It was their second single to reach number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, remaining in the top position for just one week. (America’s first single, “A Horse with No Name,” went to #1 in 1972).

“Sister Golden Hair” was another enigmatic track with lots of harmony. Written and sung by Beckley, he says that it was based on a composite of different girls. When asked if it was written to anyone, Beckley said: “No, this is all poetic license. With ‘Sister Golden Hair,’ as far as my folks were concerned, I was writing a song about my sister, and I couldn’t quite fathom it; they must not have listened to the lyrics.”  Haha

America 1976
Left to Right: Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek, Gerry Beckley. Photo credit: Associated Press

In his Songfacts interview, Gerry Beckley remembered writing the song by starting with the first line:

Well I tried to make it Sunday, but I got so damn depressed

“I’d like to point out that you can have a #1 record with a line that enters that darkly,” he said. “That’s kind of my thing: I try to mix these emotions and I think ‘Sister’ was a great example. Pretty good message in there. John Lennon famously said, ‘We don’t know what these songs are about till people tell us.’ So all of our songs, including ‘Horse,’ are open to interpretation. But ‘Sister’ was a relationship song and there is a variety of elements. We always combine them as songwriters so that they’re not verbatim, word for word, for a particular circumstance. Poetic license we call it.”

Later he explained that he made a demo of this song before America recorded their fourth album, Holiday, but he was happy with the songs they chose for that album so “Sister Golden Hair” sat on the shelf for a year, making the cut for their next album, Hearts.

“I can’t really tell you if it was a lack of faith in the song or not, but it was interesting to see,” he said. “It shows you that songs can have a life of their own – they might just need the right time and circumstances to surface.”

FUN FACT: This song was used in a bloody scene in the 2001 episode of the HBO TV series The Sopranos, “Another Toothpick.” After a mobster kills two people, the song plays on his car radio as he drives off. When he has trouble breathing and can’t reach his inhaler, he crashes the car and dies, but the song keeps playing.

Here’s the clip of The Sopranos episode that features the “Sister Golden Hair” song. It’s the part of the story when Bobby Baccalieri, Sr. comes out of retirement to whack his godson Mustang Sally. WARNING: THIS VIDEO CLIP IS RATED TV-MA-L,V for language and violence.

The part with “Sister Golden Hair” playing starts at the 4:15 mark if you want to forego the blood and foul language. But hey, it wouldn’t be The Sopranos if there weren’t blood and cussing, right?

I’d say there was some golden retribution there, eh?

The Power of Gold by Dan Fogelberg – Dan Fogelberg (Daniel Grayling Fogelberg (August 13, 1951 – December 16, 2007) was an American musician, songwriter, composer, and multi-instrumentalist.

Dan Fogelberg, Morrison Hotel Gallery

In 1972, Fogelberg released his debut album Home Free to lukewarm response, although it eventually reached platinum status. He performed as an opening act for Van Morrison. Fogelberg’s second effort was more successful – the 1974 Joe Walsh-produced album Souvenirs. The song “Part of the Plan” became Fogelberg’s first hit. After Souvenirs, he released a string of gold and platinum albums, including Captured Angel (1975) and Nether Lands (1977). His 1978 Twin Sons of Different Mothers was the first of two collaborations with jazz flautist Tim Weisberg, which found commercial success with songs such as “The Power of Gold”. The song was written by Dan Fogelberg.

The closing track of the album, “The Power of Gold,” was released as a single, reaching number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978. (The record would be Weisberg’s lone chart hit as an artist).

I found a wonderful tribute article on the Performing Songwriter website called Remembering Dan Fogelberg by Lydia Hutchinson (August 13, 2013). The author admits to having a “deep, abiding and often embarrassing love for Dan Fogelberg and his music” and actually credits Fogelberg (and her desire to meet him) as being her inspiration for starting Performing Songwriter magazine in 1993. She did meet him and interviewed him in 1994. Here are excerpts from the interview pertaining to this song and its album:

Tell me about that Twin Sons of Different Mothers with Tim Weisberg.

That was a real quickie. I had called Tim in to work on Nether Lands on a track. We just hit it off and I really liked his stuff, and it would be interesting to see what we could come up with. So I just started thinking about writing without lyrics, which is something I love to do. I started composing all of these pieces and asked Tim if he was interested. And he listened and said, “let’s do it.” So it was about six months, start of finish.

That album did really well, didn’t it?

Yeah, that just blew the top off the whole thing. And I was embarrassed to even put it out, you know. I mean, I liked it but I just thought it would be torn to shreds and ignored. And so I said, “Irving, you hold it for a week, I’m going to Europe,” (laughs). “I don’t want to be around when it comes out.” And then I got these calls in Amsterdam saying I had a hit record with it.

And “The Power of Gold” was the single from that?

Yeah. That was one of the few things that I’ve written specifically for radio that worked. We had this whole thing of all this instrumental bossa nova and other stuff—a pretty eclectic mix of music—and we had this big huge grandiose symphonic piece that I had written and actually tried to record. And I went home thinking that that wasn’t what we needed to end that album with. We needed something that rocked. And we had already done most of the album. So I remember just going home and banging this thing out in a day or two and calling Tim and saying let’s cut this other track. And we did it, threw it on there, and the next thing you know it was on the radio.

This song is about greed taking a person over without that person being aware of it. At one point, the singer asks a friend if he or she is “under the power of gold,” because “the face you’re wearing is different now,” and to “balance the cost of the soul you lost, with the dreams you lightly sold.”

Dan Fogelberg, at the age of 56, died on December 16, 2007 from prostate cancer. In tribute to Fogelberg, his hometown of Peoria, Illinois renamed Abington Street in the city’s East Bluff neighborhood “Fogelberg Parkway”. The street runs along the northeast side of Woodruff High School, Fogelberg’s alma mater, and where his father was a teacher and bandleader. Fogelberg Parkway continues northwest, then west, to the intersection of N. Prospect and E. Frye, the location of the convenience store where Fogelberg ran into his old high school sweetheart one Christmas Eve – as described in the song “Same Old Lang Syne”.

The Dan Fogelberg Memorial is located in Riverfront Park in Peoria. A Memorial Committee was formed to initiate funding, design and installation. The project was privately funded by Dan’s friends, colleagues and fans and officially dedicated August 28, 2010. The Dan Fogelberg Memorial was honored yearly by fans during the Fogelberg Foundation of Peoria’s ‘Dan Fogelberg Celebration Weekend’ from 2011-2015, where a blessing and song of Dan’s are performed prior to the Saturday afternoon picnic next to the site. The landscaping is lovingly cared for and enhanced so that it remains a beautiful tribute all year round. This tribute memorial is enjoyed by the citizens of Peoria and visiting fans from across the country. (I was curious as to why the celebration weekends seemed to end in 2015 so I found on a Facebook page some comments that alluded to the city wanting to build apartments on that site so I’m not sure whether the DF Memorial is actually still there. I’ll look it up when I have more time…). In the meantime, here’s a slideshow of the Dan Fogelberg Memorial:

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Gold Dust Woman by Fleetwood Mac – “Gold Dust Woman” is a song from the best-selling Fleetwood Mac album Rumours. It was written and sung by Stevie Nicks and released as a B-side to the “Don’t Stop” single (in the UK) and the “You Make Loving Fun” single (in the US).

The take chosen for release on the 1977 Rumours album was reportedly recorded at 4 a.m., after a long night of attempts in the studio. Just before and during that final take, Stevie Nicks had wrapped her head (though not mouth) with a black scarf, veiling her senses and tapping genuine memories and emotions. Many unusual instruments were used in the recording, including an electric harpsichord with a jet phaser, which was marked with tape so Mick Fleetwood could play the right notes. To accentuate Stevie’s vocals, Mick broke sheets of glass. “He was wearing goggles and coveralls — it was pretty funny. He just went mad, bashing glass with this big hammer. He tried to do it on cue, but it was difficult. Eventually, we said, ‘Just break the glass,’ and we fit it all in.”

In Mick Fleetwood’s book My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac, he explains that it took Nicks eight takes to get the vocal right, and they were recorded early in the morning. Fleetwood described Nicks as “hunched over in a chair, alternately choosing from her supply of tissues, a Vicks inhaler, a box of lozenges for her sore throat and a bottle of mineral water.”

Fleetwood Mac

Cris Morris, who was a recording assistant on the sessions, explained in Q magazine: “Recording ‘Gold Dust Woman’ was one of the great moments because Stevie was very passionate about getting that vocal right. It seemed like it was directed straight at Lindsey and she was letting it all out. She worked right through the night on it, and finally did it after loads of takes. The wailing, the animal sounds and the breaking glass were all added later. Five or six months into it, once John had got his parts down, Lindsey spent weeks in the studio adding guitar parts, and that’s what really gave the album its texture.”

Slant critic Barry Walsh described the song as finding Nicks “at her folky (not flaky) best with one of her most poignant character studies”.

The lyrics allude to cocaine, which the band was consuming in quantity during the Rumours sessions. The line, “Take your silver spoon, dig your grave,” can clearly be seen as a reference to a coke spoon.

When asked about the song in an interview with Courtney Love for Spin in October 1997, Nicks confirmed that “gold dust” was a metaphor for cocaine.

              “Everybody was doing a little bit–you know, we never bought it or anything, it was just around–and I think I had a real serious flask of what this stuff could be, of what it could do to you…And I really imagined that it could overtake everything, never thinking a million years that it would overtake me. I must have met a couple of people that I thought did too much coke and I must have been impressed by that. Because I made it into a whole story.”

Nicks’ relationship with Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham may also have influenced the song, as they had broken up and were going through some very difficult times, using songs as a medium for expressing their feelings to each other.

In an interview for VH1’s Classic Album series, Nicks offered further insight into the song’s meaning:

              “”Gold Dust Woman” was my kind of symbolic look at somebody going through a bad relationship, doing a lot of drugs, and trying to make it. Trying to live. Trying to get through it.”

On Fleetwood Mac’s 2014-2015 tour, they did an extended version of this song that often stretched past 10 minutes, with Stevie Nicks losing herself in the music during the long instrumental break. She would often feel the effects the next day, as the dancing took a toll on her back. Speaking with Rolling Stone, she explained: “It’s the drug addict in ‘Gold Dust Woman’ who is breaking her back. She’s out there looking for drugs, and I’m trying to create that situation onstage so people get what it’s about, which was a very heavy, bad time in my life.”

I found a very interesting video on YouTube, edited and produced by Munrow’s Retro and I was intrigued by his interpretation of the lyrics, which is depicted through his video. I’ve included his video in my playlist so be sure to give it a view and read his interpretation here:

“The premise was originally about cocaine use and the fear of where it might lead to. Stevie Nicks told Courtney Love in a 1997 interview: “You know what, Courtney? I don’t really know what ‘Gold Dust Woman’ is about. I know there was cocaine there and that I fancied it gold dust, somehow. I’m going to have to go back to my journals and see if I can pull something out about ‘Gold Dust Woman’. Because I don’t really know. It’s weird that I’m not quite sure. It can’t be all about cocaine.”

I would suggest that in the end it had almost NOTHING to do with cocaine, although maybe it did in the first draft of the lyrics. In any event, somehow tumultuous and personal romantic relationships got into the mix and a whole lot of real pain. This I believe was the actual working model and that the “cocaine” as a sort of “gold dust” became a more incidental starting point part of the story. Unraveling the actual “story” will probably never happen as this appears to be fragments of feelings and experiences and real personal fears of the future (Nicks’ future) pulled together to form a whole.

Ultimately, the listener can make whatever story out of this song they want to or think they hear in it. The ending is very ominous and quite hopeless as the lyrics attest.

The “Gold dust woman,” I believe in this case, is a woman of privilege and eventually power, born with a “silver spoon” in her mouth, who nevertheless manages to “dig her grave” with it. Her wealth and high position bring her only unhappiness and disappointment as she goes through an endless series of “lousy lovers.” Something painful happens, something very bad that is not to be found in the lyrics. That part you can make up as you see fit. It leads to the woman ultimately being reduced to a “pale shadow” of her former self, and then becoming a “woman of dust.” Thus, she returns to the dust … and dust in this context means Death. In her case, in a twist of macabre irony, the dust this wealthy woman returns to is gold. But whether the dust is gold or grey, the ending is the same for all: “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” In the end this is a frightening, eerie folk ballad based partly on fact and partly on fiction. “

So what have your interpretation of this song’s lyrics been?

In addition to the creative video that goes along with the above interpretation I’ve also included the live performance of “Gold Dust Woman” during the concert that was recorded for Fleetwood Mac’s MTV The Dance special at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, California on May 23, 1997.

The Dance is the live album that hailed the return of the band’s most successful line-up of Lindsey BuckinghamMick FleetwoodChristine McVieJohn McVie and Stevie Nicks, who had not released an album together since 1987’s Tango in the Night a decade earlier.

This was the last Fleetwood Mac album to feature Christine McVie, who left the group a year after the album’s release. Debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with sales of 199,000, The Dance became the fifth best-selling live album of all time in the United States, selling a million copies within eight weeks, spending more than seven months within the top 40, and eventually selling over 6,000,000 copies worldwide. The DVD version has been certified 9x platinum in Australia for selling 135,000 copies. The 44-date tour grossed $36 million.

Fields of Gold by Sting – “Fields of Gold” is a song written and recorded by Sting. It first appeared on his 1993 album Ten Summoner’s Tales. The song was released as a single but only made it to number 16 on the UK Singles Chart and to number 23 in the United States Billboard Hot 100. But it became one of Sting’s most famous songs, with many renowned artists covering the song.

“Fields of Gold” and all the other album tracks were recorded at Lake House, Wiltshire and mixed at The Townhouse Studio, London, England. The harmonica solo is played by Brendan Power, and the Northumbrian smallpipes are played by Kathryn Tickell. Sting started writing this on the guitar. He thinks his simple songs are often his best, and uses this as an example.

This song is about feeling joyous, but knowing that the joy is going to end someday. Sting wrote it after he bought a house near a barley field. The sunsets and the colors of the field were an inspiration for the lyrics, along with his love at the time, Trudie Styler, who he married in 1992. Styler has said that the song is one of her favorites.

The major theme in this song is commitment. It is about a man who has broken promises before, but is determined make this relationship last.

The story is chronological. It is about courtship, marriage, and eventual death. The two people in the song meet, court, fall in love (at this point, he reveals that he has never really made such a strong promise/commitment to someone) but feels he is ready to now. “See the children run,” their offspring and the “jealous sky” refer to the Heavens. Even Heaven is jealous of their love/relationship. The esteemed sun is jealous. Eventually, he dies and tells his love that they will always remember their love specifically, when she thinks of him, he wants to be personified as such… walking in fields of gold (barley).

In Lyrics by Sting, the singer described the view from his 16th-century Wiltshire manor house:

“In England, our house is surrounded by barley fields, and in the summer it’s fascinating to watch the wind moving over the shimmering surface, like waves on an ocean of gold. There’s something inherently sexy about the sight, something primal, as if the wind were making love to the barley. Lovers have made promises here, I’m sure, their bonds strengthened by the comforting cycle of the seasons.”

I’m sitting here listening to the song as I’m reading some background on it and the music is penetrating my very being; I find myself moving, slowly, rhythmically back and forth, surrendering to the music…and then I come across this little Sting tidbit:

‘Audiences have taken to swaying like the barley fields in the breeze when Sting performs this, which annoys the singer to no end. He told Mojo in 1995: “It’s disconcerting. But you can’t stop them, can you? Oi! Stop that fucking shite!”’

Eh, c’mon Sting, dial it back Dude, and just be happy that your music makes people sway and swoon… Geez!

The music video, directed by Kevin Godley, is included in the playlist and features a silhouette of Sting walking through a village containing common features seen throughout the UK such as a red telephone box and a red pillar box.

Golden Years by David Bowie – “Golden Years” is a song written and recorded by David Bowie in 1975. It was originally released in a shortened form as a single in November 1975, and in its full-length version in January the following year on the Station to Station album. It was the first track completed during the Station to Station sessions, a period when Bowie’s cocaine addiction was at its peak. At one stage it was slated to be the album’s title track. As of January 2017, the single had sold over 2.6 million units worldwide.

There’s a great article in the January 23 2017 issue of Rolling Stone magazine that explores the making of the album. Read how David Bowie’s dark, cocaine-fueled L.A. lifestyle inspired his 1976 masterpiece ‘Station to Station’.

Photo Credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Bowie was looking to emulate something of the glitzy nostalgia of “On Broadway”, which he was playing on piano in the studio when he came up with “Golden Years”.

Bowie’s ex-wife Angela claims this was written for her. Bowie does appear to be addressing someone specific in this song, encouraging them to revel in their “golden years”: “Don’t let me hear you say life’s taking you nowhere, angel, come get up my baby, look at that sky, life’s begun, nights are warm and the days are young.”

But Ava Cherry also claims to be the inspiration for the song. Ava Cherry was a singer/model who spent four years as a back-up singer for David Bowie between 1974 and 1978, part of a trio along with Robin Clark and Luther Vandross. She was also a lover of Bowie’s during this period, and remained friends with the artist for years.

Bowie performed this song when he appeared on the American TV show Soul Train in 1975. He was one of the first white singers to appear on the show. Bowie reportedly got drunk beforehand to try and calm his nerves and the footage does appear to show him stumbling over his lyrics.

The resultant video clip was used to promote the single, and assisted Bowie’s continued commercial success in the United States, where it charted for 16 weeks and reached No. 10 in early-1976. It achieved No. 8 in the UK and No. 17 in Canada. The song was also a top ten hit in Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden. As a digital download, it reached number four in the Hungarian singles chart in 2016. He does indeed kinda look a little drunk in this clip:

FUN FACT: Bowie wrote “Golden Years” with the intention of giving it to Elvis Presley, but he reportedly refused the song. Elvis died two years later.

After the Gold Rush by Neil YoungAfter The Goldrush is an acoustic album that led to many other confessional singer/songwriter works in the early ’70s (James Taylor, Carole King, etc.). Young had injured his back lifting a slab of polished walnut and standing up to play his electric guitar was impossible. In addition, he had dropped Crazy Horse as his backing band so he prepared an album of acoustic songs.

“After the Gold Rush” is a song written, composed, and performed by Neil Young and is the title song from the 1970 album of the same name. In addition to After the Gold Rush, it also appears on Decade, Greatest Hits, and Live Rust.

In his extensive biography on Mr. Young, author Jimmy McDonough reveals that After the Goldrush was an album loosely conceptualized around a screenplay of the same named written by child star, and Neil Young neighbor, Dean Stockwell. Apparently the only two songs on the album that are based on the as-yet-unproduced screenplay are this song and “Crippled Creek Ferry,” the closing song on the album.

The song consists of three verses, two of which describe dream visions involving Mother Nature. The three verses move forward in time from the past (a medieval celebration with the sun floating on the breeze), to the present (the singer lying, distressed, in bed with the full moon in his eyes when there is a nuclear bomb explosion i.e. sunburst), and, finally, the future (spaceships transporting the chosen ones to a new home in the sun). The theme of the sun links all three verses. On the original recording, in addition to Young’s vocals, two instruments are used in the song: a piano and a french horn. The french horn solo in the middle of the song is often replaced by a harmonica solo by Young in live performances. The line “Look at Mother Nature on the run / In the 1970s” has been amended by Young in concert over the decades and is currently sung as “Look at Mother Nature on the run / in the 21st century.”

Neil Young – After the Goldrush 1970

FUN FACT: The song has been covered a variety of artists. When Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt recorded it in 1999 for their collaboration Trio, they got some unique insight into the song from the man who wrote it. Said Parton:

“When we were doing the Trio album, I asked Linda and Emmy what it meant, and they didn’t know. So we called Neil Young, and he didn’t know. We asked him, flat out, what it meant, and he said, ‘Hell, I don’t know. I just wrote it. It just depends on what I was taking at the time. I guess every verse has something different I’d taken.'”

This wasn’t first time Parton recorded the song: she included a version with Alison Krauss on her 1996 album Treasures.

Heart of Gold by Neil Young – “Heart of Gold” is a song by Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young. Released from the 1972 album Harvest, it is so far Young’s only U.S. No. 1 single. In Canada, it reached No. 1 on the RPM national singles chart for the first time on April 8, 1972, on which date Young held the top spot on both the singles and albums charts. Young became the first Canadian to have a #1 album in the US when Harvest topped the Billboard 200 for two weeks in April 1972. Billboard ranked it as the No. 17 song for 1972.

The song, which features backup vocals of James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt, is one of a series of soft acoustic pieces which were written partly as a result of a back injury. Unable to stand for long periods of time, Young could not play his electric guitar and so returned to his acoustic guitar, which he could play sitting down. He also played his harmonica during the three instrumental portions, including the introduction to the song.

This photo, taken in 1971, is Neil’s first time performing live his haunting folk ballad “Heart of Gold,” a song about searching for love in a world that is progressively becoming darker.

Neil Young, performing “Heart of Gold” for the time Live, in 1972

“Heart of Gold” was recorded during the initial sessions for Harvest on February 6–-8 1971 at Quadrafonic Sound Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. Ronstadt (who herself would later cover Young’s song “Love is a Rose”) and Taylor were in Nashville at the time for an appearance on Johnny Cash’s television program, and the album’s producer Elliot Mazer arranged for them to sing backup for Young in the studio.

James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt don’t come in until the end of the song and they came into the studio on Sunday, February 7, the day after the rest of the song was completed. When it was their turn to add harmonies, the task proved rather arduous. Ronstadt recalled to Mojo: “We were sat on the couch in the control room, but I had to get up on my knees to be on the same level as James because he’s so tall. Then we sang all night, the highest notes I could sing. It was so hard, but nobody minded. It was dawn when we walked out of the studio.”

By far, this was the biggest hit for Young as a solo artist. A very influential musician, he was never too concerned about making hit records. Young wrote in the liner notes of his 1977 compilation album Decade: “This song put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there.” This statement was in response to the mainstream popularity that he gained as a result of the number-one status of “Heart of Gold”. This statement reflected Young’s aversion to fame, and was not meant to demean the song. In a later interview with NME, he clarified: “I think Harvest is probably the finest record I’ve made.”

FUN FACT #1: This was the song that tweaked Bob Dylan; Young had made no secret that he idolized Dylan, but when Dylan heard “Heart of Gold” he thought this was going too far.

In 1985, Bob Dylan admitted that he disliked hearing this song, despite always liking Neil Young. As quoted in Neil Young: Long May You Run: The Illustrated History, Dylan complained,

“The only time it bothered me that someone sounded like me was when I was living in Phoenix, Arizona, in about ’72 and the big song at the time was “Heart of Gold”. I used to hate it when it came on the radio. I always liked Neil Young, but it bothered me every time I listened to “Heart of Gold.” I think it was up at number one for a long time, and I’d say, “Shit, that’s me. If it sounds like me, it should as well be me.””

FUN FACT #2: In 2005, “Heart of Gold” was named the third greatest Canadian song of all time on the CBC Radio One series 50 Tracks: The Canadian Version. It ranked behind only Barenaked Ladies’ “If I Had $1,000,000” and Ian and Sylvia’s “Four Strong Winds”, the latter covered by Young on his 1978 album Comes a Time.

FUN FACT #3: Lady Gaga references this in her song “You and I.” The line goes, “On my birthday you sung me ‘Heart of Gold,’ with a guitar humming and no clothes.”

 

Silver, Blue & Gold by Bad Company – The following blurb is a repeat as I included this song in last week’s Silver Edition post (and I’ll probably include it when I get to the Blue portion of my series…because it’s one of my favorite songs and because I can…) 😊

“Silver, Blue & Gold” is a song from Run with the Pack, the third studio album by the English supergroup Bad Company, written by Paul Rodgers. A fixture on rock radio for decades, Paul Rodgers has been the driving force behind countless rock ‘n’ roll classics. The bulk of his legacy, however, remains with Bad Company.

Co-founded in 1973 by Paul Rodgers, Mick Ralphs (Mott the Hoople guitarist), Simon Kirke (drummer) and the late Boz Burrell (former King Crimson bassist & vocalist), Bad Company grew out of Free, which also featured Rodgers and Kirke. Over the next nine years, they released four platinum or multi-platinum albums together before Rodgers departed for a lengthy hiatus. During that period, he could be found bending the ears of music fans worldwide with the Firm (with Jimmy Page), the Law (with Who drummer Kenney Jones) and later even toured with the members of Queen.

“Silver, Blue & Gold” was released in January 1976 on the wildly successful Run with The Pack   album, which was the band’s third consecutive platinum seller. It was recorded in France with The Rolling Stones Mobile Truck in September 1975 with engineer Ron Nevison and mixed in Los Angeles by Eddie Kramer.

Upon its release, the album soared to No. 5 on the US Billboard 200 and peaked at No. 4 in the UK Albums Chart. With three albums now to their credit, the central ingredient to the group’s remarkable success was their steady stream of first rate original material. Rodgers and Ralphs were the group’s composers. “I always thought it was important for the group to have more than one writer,” states Rodgers.

Coupled with the strength of the group’s song writing was the clarity and unmistakable power of Rodgers’ voice. Rodgers moved with ease among a wide range of emotions and musical styles.  Rodgers’ “Silver, Blue & Gold” celebrated the group’s skills for ballads, highlighting a softer, more introspective vocal performance by Rodgers.

Although “Silver, Blue & Gold” remains one of the band’s most popular compositions, the song was never released as a single. “Silver, Blue and Gold” is a fan favorite and it’s one of Bad Company’s very best songs, artfully charting the oft-experienced tale of a love gone wrong and the aftermath as the spurned party seeks solace in silver, blue and gold–and the rainbow that’s long overdue.

 

That’s it for my favorite Gold songs. What are your favorite Gold songs? Please share in the comment section below. To close, I’ll leave you with:

THE MEANING OF THE COLOR GOLD

Taken from the Bourn Creative’s Color Meaning Blog Series:

The color gold is the color of extravagance, wealth, riches, and excess, and shares several of the same attributes of the color yellow. The color gold is a warm color that can be either bright and cheerful or somber and traditional. The color gold is cousin to the color yellow and the color brown, and is also associated with illumination, love, compassion, courage, passion, magic, and wisdom.

Gold is a precious metal that is associated with wealth, grandeur, and prosperity, as well as sparkle, glitz, and glamour. Gold is the official fiftieth wedding anniversary gift, with copper as the official seventh wedding anniversary gift and bronze as the official eighth wedding anniversary gift.

Gold gemstones are believed to increase personal wisdom and power, aid in health and wellness, create success and prosperity, and illuminate the path toward your goal.

Other meanings associated with the color gold:

  • The term “fool’s gold”refers to anything mistaken for gold, or something that is worthless.
  • The phrase “gold star”is used to signify praise, accomplishment, and commendation.
  • The saying “solid gold”refers to superior, high-quality, outstanding, and best of the best.
  • The term “gold standard”is a measure of the best, quality, and excellence.
  • The phrase “gold brick”is used in reference to a trick, cheat, or actions of deceit.
  • The phrase “good as gold”means that something is valuable or positive.
  • The expression “golden child”refers to a favored person.
  • The expression “gold digger”describes someone who is only after a person’s money.

Additional words that represent different shades, tints, and values of the color gold: goldenrod, yellow gold, honey, bronze, copper.

 

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.

This is a Blog Hop!


 

 

Battle of the Bands – JUMP INTO THE FIRE by Harry Nilsson

 

It’s mid-month and that means it’s time for another Battle of the Bands. (If you’re looking for my Monday’s Music Moves Me post, click on it in my sidebar or scroll down). BOTB is simple: i have chosen two covers of a favorite song; You listen to each cover version and vote on which version you like better by telling me in the comment section. And if you care to share, let us know why you chose the way you did. Then I’ll come back in 6 days, tally up the votes and determine & post the winner and the battle votes tally.

“Jump into the Fire” is a song by American singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson, released on his 1971 album Nilsson Schmilsson. Issued as the album’s second single, after “Without You”, it peaked at number 27 on America’s Billboard Hot 100 chart and at number 16 in Canada.

Written by Nilsson, the song is in the hard rock style – a departure from his previous work. Produced by Richard Perry, it includes a segment in which bassist Herbie Flowers audibly detunes his instrument. “Jump into the Fire” gained further recognition owing to its use in a pivotal scene in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 gangster thriller Goodfellas.

Journalist Matthew Greenwald likened the song’s style to the early 1970s sound of the Rolling Stones. He adds: “Lyrically, on the surface, it’s a hot lovers plea; however, it could easily be taken as a plea to society as a whole. Like a lot of Nilsson’s greatest songs, it works on many different levels.” Stephen Thomas Erlewine describes the track as “surging hard rock”, while James Parker of The Atlantic calls it “livid, dragon-bones funk”.

Nilsson recorded the song in London in 1971 for Nilsson Schmilsson. As with much of the material on the album, it marked a departure from his previous work, as Nilsson was keen for commercial success after years of recognition as a quality artist and songwriter. He later commented: “What do you say to a man who writes ‘The Puppy Song’ and then writes ‘Jump into the Fire’? I really needed [to make that change], too; that was exactly what I was hoping would happen.” Nilsson acknowledged producer Richard Perry was instrumental in this progression.

Musicians on the basic track were Nilsson (piano), Chris Spedding (guitar), Herbie Flowers (bass) and Jim Gordon (drums). Flowers recalls that Nilsson gave only vague instructions: “Lots of tom-toms, a bass riff in D major.” The bass part includes a section where, following Gordon’s drum solo, Flowers detunes as he plays. According to Flowers, he began loosening the bottom string “for a laugh”, believing the performance would be faded on the released recording. Overdubs on this take included Nilsson’s vocals, guitar solos by John Uribe and a rhythm guitar part by Klaus Voormann.

Release

“Jump into the Fire” received substantial airplay throughout the early 1970s. After the international success of Nilsson’s cover of the Badfinger ballad “Without You”, the song was a surprising choice for the second single from Nilsson Schmilsson. It was edited down from around seven minutes to three-and-a-half for this release. The single peaked at number 27 on America’s Billboard Hot 100 chart, number 16 on the RPM singles chart in Canada, number 26 on Australia’s Go-Set National Top 40, and number 34 in West Germany. Later in 1972, Nilsson included “Jump into the Fire” in his musical horror film Count Downe. The film was produced by Ringo Starr and later retitled Son of Dracula for its limited cinema release in 1974.

In 1990, the song was used by director Martin Scorsese as the soundtrack to a frenetic scene in Goodfellas, when Ray Liotta’s character, a cocaine-addicted gangster, fears the authorities are closing in on his illegal activities. Rolling Stone described the effect: “This is what paranoia sounds like … the more the filmmaker fades those ‘Oh oh ooohs’ in and out, the more your own nerves start to fray.” Sean O’Neal of The A.V. Club writes: “I have to admit, even when I play ‘Jump Into The Fire’ today, I keep seeing that same helicopter.”

Michael Gallucci of the website Ultimate Classic Rock lists “Jump into the Fire” at number 3 in his list of the ten best Nilsson songs, behind “Without You” and “Everybody’s Talkin'”.

From the MediaLoper site, an interesting take on the song:

Certain Songs #581: Harry Nilsson – “Jump Into The Fire”

Posted by Jim Connelly in Certain Songs on Jun 30, 2016

Album: Nilsson Schmilsson
Year: 1971

I kinda love that Harry Nilsson chose “Jump Into The Fire” to be the single that followed the massive “Without You,” even though it barely cracked the Top Thirty, because the two songs couldn’t be more different.

Driven by a pumped-up Herbie Flowers bassline and clipped rhythm guitar from Klaus Voormann, “Jump Into The Fire” establishes its groove early and then piles on with crazy-ass lead guitar from John Uribe and a vocal performance from Harry Nilsson that starts at psychotic and only gets more unhinged from there.

Gang, this is a disturbing song on any number of levels.

Take the lyrics, for example:

You can climb a mountain
You can swim the sea
You can jump into the fire
But you’ll never be free
You can shake me up
Or I can break you down
Oh, oh, oohhhoooohhhhh

With Nilsson’s vocals swathed in loads and loads of reverb, we can tell from the start that maybe this guy isn’t in his right mind, and after the lead guitars start clattering and chittering, the chorus — which reads perfectly fine on paper — begins to sound like a veiled threat.

We can make each other happy
We can make each other happy
We can make each other happy
We can make each other happy

What’s left unspoken here, is the “or else.”

And as he shouts and screams and repeats the verses and choruses in ever more unhinged fashion, the guitars futilely rise up against Nilsson to seemingly no avail. He’s too possessed. Too obsessed.

WE CAN MAKE EACH OTHER HAPPY!!!

Eventually it takes drummer Jim Gordon just surrounding him and putting him down as the rest of the musicians look on in awe.

Eventually the guitars and bass return, but Harry Nilsson is nowhere to be found. My assumption is that he used the opportunity to break out of the studio, and is now screaming “WE CAN MAKE EACH OTHER HAPPY!!!!” at random people while running down the street towards the Thames.

One of the greatest songs ever written about obsession, “Jump Into the Fire” is one of those songs that gets periodically recontextualized by seemingly unrelated artists, reminding us just how uncomfortable it remains.

So Martin Scorsese used it to underscore a coke-fueled breakdown in Goodfellas, and LCD Soundsystem covered it on an early single and during their “last” show, and in both cases it fit right in.

Give a listen to this original version and you’ll maybe understand the point the author of this article was trying to get across. And by all means, TURN UP THE VOLUME! But don’t vote for this original: it’s only here for your enjoyment. Battle contenders are below.

 

THE BATTLE SHOWDOWN:

CONTENDER #1:  Low Cut Connie

Low Cut Connie is an American rock and roll band based in Philadelphia which was formed in 2010. The band has been recognized by various media in the US for their records and high-energy live show, of which the Los Angeles Weekly said “Their ferocious live show…is unmatched in all of rock right now.” Frontman Adam Weiner plays a piano named “Shondra,” after a dancer at the Clermont Lounge in Atlanta.

Weiner performed as a solo artist prior to starting Low Cut Connie. While living in New York City, he played piano in gay bars, karaoke bars, restaurants and ballet classes, often under the name Ladyfingers. He toured throughout North America and Europe playing to often unforgiving crowds in dive bars, honky tonks, anarchist squats, warehouses, drag bars, etc. Weiner started the project that would become Low Cut Connie with former members Dan Finnemore (from Birmingham, U.K.) and Neil Duncan (from Gainesville, Florida). The band’s name refers to a waitress who often wore low-cut tops at a restaurant near where Weiner grew up.

The group has released four albums, Get Out the Lotion (2010), Call Me Sylvia (2012), Hi Honey (2015) and their latest, released in 2017, Dirty Pictures (Part 1).

FUN FACTS re: their second album: The band began work on their second album, Call Me Sylvia, with the goal of trying harder to make a “real” album than they were with their debut, when their songs were less arranged. Finnemore moved to the U.S. in advance of the record release. The album was released on September 24, 2012, and currently holds a score of 80% on Metacritic, indicating “generally favorable reviews”. Among these reviews was a four-star (out of five) review from AllMusic‘s Stephen Thomas Erlewine, who praised them for making music in a style that originated in the 1960s, but without seeming outdated. PopMatters also reviewed the album, giving it a score of 7 out of 10 and also noting that the album’s sound resembled that of mid-20th-century music, as well as specifically comparing Weiner’s piano style to Jerry Lee Lewis. The album’s song “Boozophilia” was ranked the 31st best song of 2012 by Rolling Stone, which described it as “like Jerry Lee Lewis if he’d had his first religious experience at a Replacements show.” It was also chosen by President Barack Obama as one of the songs on his Spotify summer playlist in 2015. Weiner posted on Facebook that they were “completely humbled and honored and confused” by Obama doing this. I’d say that’s pretty cool…

Here is Low Cut Connie’s version of “Jump Into the Fire”. These guys are definitely High Energy! They are totally having a blast and really dig performing. And I like what they did with the song, incorporating elements of the Goodfellas scene that utilizes the Nilsson song.

 

CONTENDER #2:  Hollywood Vampires

Hollywood Vampires is an American rock supergroup formed in 2015 by Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, and Joe Perry to honor the music of the rock stars who died from excess in the 1970s. The band name derives from The Hollywood Vampires, a celebrity drinking club formed by Cooper in the 1970s which included but was not limited to: John Lennon and Ringo Starr of The Beatles, Keith Moon of The Who, and Micky Dolenz of The Monkees. Touring members include or have included Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum of Guns ‘N Roses fame, as well as Robert DeLeo from Stone Temple Pilots.

The band has released one studio album, Hollywood Vampires (2015), featuring guest appearances by Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Joe Walsh, and Christopher Lee among others. Cooper and Perry have discussed plans for a future live album, stating that Depp’s schedule works differently than theirs.

The group’s debut live performances were held at Roxy Theatre (West Hollywood) in Los Angeles across September 16 and 17, 2015. The three core members were accompanied by bassist Duff McKagan, drummer Matt Sorum, rhythm guitarist Tommy Henriksen, and Bruce Witkin on keyboards and additional guitar. Guest performers for both nights were Tom Morello, Geezer Butler, Perry Farrell, Zak Starkey, and Kesha, and Marilyn Manson guesting on the second night. The next week, the group performed at Brazil’s Rock in Rio festival on September 24, 2015, and was webcast live by AOL. Guest performers were Lzzy Hale, Zak Starkey, and Andreas Kisser.

In February 2016, the group performed at the Grammy Award ceremony as a tribute to Lemmy, who had died at the end of 2015. The group also announced their first concert tour, which began at Turning Stone Resort & Casino on May 24 (2016). The group was scheduled to make their first late-night television appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on July 11, 2016; however, lead guitarist and co-founder Perry collapsed on stage during a performance on July 10. The band continued to perform without Perry prior to his return to the tour on July 22.

Current (and founding) band members:

Alice Cooper – lead and backing vocals, harmonica (2015–present)

Johnny Depp – rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals, slide guitar, keyboards (2015–present)

Joe Perry – lead and rhythm guitar, backing and lead vocals (2015–present)

Current touring members are Tommy Henriksen – rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals, keyboards (2015–present), Matt Sorum – drums, backing and lead vocals (2015–present), Bruce Witkin – rhythm and lead guitar, keyboards, backing and lead vocals, percussion, bass guitar (2015–present) and Robert DeLeo – bass guitar, backing vocals (2016–present)

Former touring members were Duff McKagan – bass guitar, backing vocals (2015–2016), Kesha – lead and backing vocals (2015), Lzzy Hale – lead and backing vocals, rhythm and lead guitar (2015), Brad Whitford – rhythm and lead guitar (2017) and Glen Sobel – drums (2017)

The Hollywood Vampires version of “Jump Into the Fire” is unique in that it truly highlights the group’s primary mission of honoring dead rock stars: their “Jump Into the Fire” song version starts out with a nod to another of Nilsson’s original songs: “One” (a song written by Harry Nilsson and made famous by Three Dog Night whose recording reached number five on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1969 and number four in Canada. The song is known for its opening line “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do”. Nilsson wrote the song after calling someone and getting a busy signal. He stayed on the line listening to the “beep, beep, beep, beep…” tone, writing the song. The busy signal became the opening notes of the song).

And the Hollywood Vampires version ends in similar fashion by including a bit of one of my favorite Nilsson songs, “Coconut” (a novelty song written and first recorded by American singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson, released as the third single from his 1971 album, Nilsson Schmilsson. It was on the U.S. Billboard charts for 10 weeks, reaching #8, and was ranked by Billboard as the #66 song for 1972. It only minorly charted in the UK, reaching #42. “Coconut” did best in Canada, where it peaked at #5).

Here it is. Kick back and give this one a listen.

 

Okay, it all comes down to this:

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 21st to post the results. Until then, Rock On my friends…

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me – A Kaleidoscope of Color Songs: the SILVER Edition

Today’s Monday’s Music Moves Me hop theme happens to be “Color Me with Music”. This fits in nicely with the series I’ve been presenting these last few weeks so I am continuing on with my KALEIDOSCOPE OF COLOR SONGS SERIES, highlighting the color SILVER. The following playlist is my favorite songs with the color Silver in the title and includes information and fun facts about each “silver” song.

Silver, Blue & Gold by Bad Company – Silver, Blue & Gold is a song from “Run with the Pack,” the third studio album by the English supergroup Bad Company, written by Paul Rodgers. A fixture on rock radio for decades, Paul Rodgers has been the driving force behind countless rock ‘n’ roll classics. The bulk of his legacy, however, remains with Bad Company.

Co-founded in 1973 by Paul Rodgers, Mick Ralphs (Mott the Hoople guitarist), Simon Kirke (drummer) and the late Boz Burrell (former King Crimson bassist & vocalist), Bad Company grew out of Free, which also featured Rodgers and Kirke. Over the next nine years, they released four platinum or multi-platinum albums together before Rodgers departed for a lengthy hiatus. During that period, he could be found bending the ears of music fans worldwide with the Firm (with Jimmy Page), the Law (with Who drummer Kenney Jones) and later even toured with the members of Queen.

“Silver, Blue & Gold” was released in January 1976 on the wildly successful “Run with The Pack”   album, which was the band’s third consecutive platinum seller. It was recorded in France with The Rolling Stones Mobile Truck in September 1975 with engineer Ron Nevison and mixed in Los Angeles by Eddie Kramer.

Upon its release, the album soared to No. 5 on the US Billboard 200 and peaked at No. 4 in the UK Albums Chart. With three albums now to their credit, the central ingredient to the group’s remarkable success was their steady stream of first rate original material. Rodgers and Ralphs were the group’s composers. “I always thought it was important for the group to have more than one writer,” states Rodgers.

Coupled with the strength of the group’s song writing was the clarity and unmistakable power of Rodgers’ voice. Rodgers moved with ease among a wide range of emotions and musical styles.  Rodgers “Silver, Blue & Gold” celebrated the group’s skills for ballads, highlighting a softer, more introspective vocal performance by Rodgers.

Although “Silver, Blue & Gold” remains one of the band’s most popular compositions, the song was never released as a single. “Silver, Blue and Gold” is a fan favorite and it’s one of Bad Company’s very best songs, artfully charting the oft-experienced tale of a love gone wrong and the aftermath as the spurned party seeks solace in silver, blue and gold–and the rainbow that’s long overdue.

Silver Springs by Fleetwood Mac – “Silver Springs” is a song written by Stevie Nicks and performed by Fleetwood Mac. It was originally intended for the band’s 1977 album Rumours, but became a B-side to the song “Go Your Own Way”. A live version of “Silver Springs” was released as a single from the 1997 album The Dance; this live version of the song received a Grammy Award nomination.

Written by Stevie Nicks, “Silver Springs” was originally intended for the album Rumours. Years after the fact, Nicks commented that the song’s exclusion from the album marked a growing tension in the band. The track describes Nicks’ perspective on the ending of the romantic relationship between her and Lindsey Buckingham. She has said,

I wrote “Silver Springs” about Lindsey. And we were in Maryland somewhere driving under a freeway sign that said Silver Spring, Maryland. And I loved the name … Silver Springs sounded like a pretty fabulous place to me. And, ‘You could be my silver springs…’, that’s just a whole symbolic thing of what you could have been to me.

According to Rolling Stone, “Nicks’ tender yet vengeful post-mortem on her breakup with Buckingham [became] an emotional lightning rod. The song would have behind-the-scenes repercussions for decades to come – nearly leading to the breakup of the band.” Due to the limited space available on the LP format of the time (and over strenuous objections from Nicks), the song was excluded from the Rumours album due to its length. It was bumped off the album by another song Nicks wrote called “I Don’t Want To Know,” which the rest of the band liked better and fit better on the album because it was shorter. Stevie was very upset with the decision and considered refusing to sing “I Don’t Want To Know” in protest.

In a 1997 documentary on the making of Rumours, Richard Dashut, the engineer and co-producer, called it “the best song that never made it to a record album”. The song was, however, released in late 1976 as the B-side of the “Go Your Own Way” single, the Buckingham-written song to which it is regarded as being a response.

Years later, the band went on a world tour to promote the Fleetwood Mac album Behind the Mask. After the tour concluded, Nicks left the group over a dispute with Mick Fleetwood, who would not allow her to release “Silver Springs” on her album Timespace – The Best of Stevie Nicks because of his plans to release it on a forthcoming Fleetwood Mac box set. The song did appear in the 1992 box set 25 Years – The Chain.

In 1997, the song got a second life on the reunion album The Dance. It hailed the return of the band’s most successful line-up of Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, John McVie and Stevie Nicks, who had not released an album together since 1987’s Tango in the Night a decade earlier.

During the filming of the reunion concert that brought Nicks and Buckingham back to the fold, “Silver Springs” was on the set list.

“Nicks has admitted that the fiery take on the song that appears in The Dance was ‘for posterity… I wanted people to stand back and really watch and understand what [the relationship with Lindsey] was.'”

During this song’s performance on Fleetwood Mac’s 1997 DVD The Dance, halfway through the song while singing, Stevie turns towards Lindsay and appears to be singing directly to him. It was as if she was reminding him who the song was about. Once they locked eyes, you could see and feel the emotions they must have felt many years ago when they dated and eventually broke up. A very intense moment.

The band earned a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals nomination for this live version from The Dance.

“I never thought that “Silver Springs” would ever be performed onstage [again],” [Nicks] reflected during a 1997 MTV interview. “My beautiful song just disappeared [20 years ago]. For it to come back around like this has really been special to me.”

In 2004, “Silver Springs” finally appeared where it was supposed to on the DVD-A (audio) re-issue release of Rumours. This is a 2-disc set which also includes a longer bonus version of the song.

The song also appeared on Nicks’ compilation album, Crystal Visions – The Very Best of Stevie Nicks. She wrote in the album’s liner notes that the song was intended as a gift for her mother, who now refers to it as her “rainy day song”, and that the exclusion of the song from Rumours was a source of anger for many years.

FUN FACT: Stevie Nicks used to check into hotels on the road under the alias “Miss Silver Spring.”

FUN FACT: Stevie Nicks appeared on two episodes of the TV series American Horror Story: Coven, including the finale, where she performed “Seven Wonders” to open the show. Later in the episode, this song was used to underscore a scene where a witch was sent to burn at the stake.

Man on the Silver Mountain by Rainbow – “Man on the Silver Mountain” is the first single by Rainbow and the first track of their debut album, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Written by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and singer Ronnie James Dio, this song is, as Dio said, “a semi-religious one, a man on the silver mountain is a kind of God figure everyone is crying out to”. This track became one of Rainbow’s best-known tracks and was also a live favorite for any Rainbow line-up, and also for the band Dio. The words “The man on the silver mountain Ronnie James Dio” are inscribed on his grave.

According to the Ultimate Classic Rock site, “Man on the Silver Mountain” is a song that first codified Ritchie Blackmore’s creative vision for Rainbow and proved the group would be a force to be reckoned with for years to come: Though lacking somewhat in production punch, the song’s signature riff and evocative lyrics have gone down in heavy metal lore — even following Ronnie James Dio to the grave by being etched onto his tombstone. (See tombstone photo below)

“The Man on the Silver Mountain” was recorded at Musicland Studios, Munich in January and February, 1975. Interesting fact, the whole project, including the song, was supposed to be a solo album of Ritchie Blackmore; however in collaborating with Ronnie James Dio, it eventually ended up as a new band, Rainbow. Though, it was not Ritchie that got the most out of it, but rather Dio – his popularity and fan base reached the sky and he became one of the most influential and critically-acclaimed frontmen of all time. Later on, Ritchie was joking that this album should’ve been named “”Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio’s Rainbow”.

Rainbow’s music was partly inspired by classical music since Blackmore started playing cello to help him construct interesting chord progressions, and Dio wrote lyrics about medieval themes. Dio possessed a versatile vocal range capable of singing both hard rock and lighter ballads, and, according to Blackmore, “I felt shivers down my spine.” Although Dio never played a musical instrument on any Rainbow album, he is credited with writing and arranging the music with Blackmore, in addition to writing all the lyrics himself. Blackmore and Dio also found a common ground in their sense of humor.

Dio left Rainbow in 1979 and soon joined Black Sabbath, replacing the fired Ozzy Osbourne. On November 25, 2009, Dio’s wife Wendy Gaxiola (who also served as his manager) announced that Dio had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. On May 4, 2010, his then band Heaven & Hell announced they were canceling all summer dates as a result of Dio’s ill health. A statement made by Dio’s wife stated that Dio had died at 7:45 am (CDT) on May 16, 2010, of metastasized stomach cancer, according to official sources.

The words “The man on the silver mountain Ronnie James Dio” are inscribed on his tombstone.

The tomb of Dio (note the “throwing horns” sign on the flanking urns)

FUN FACT: Regarding Ronnie James Dio: He fronted and/or founded numerous groups including Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio, and Heaven & Hell. He is credited with popularizing the “metal horns” hand gesture in metal culture and was known for his medieval-themed lyrics.

Vocalist Ronnie James Dio making the sign at a Black Sabbath “Heaven and Hell” tour concert in 2007. The gesture is quite common within heavy metal culture.

According to Wikipedia’s page on the “metal horns”: Ronnie James Dio was known for popularizing the sign of the horns in heavy metal. He claimed his Italian grandmother used it to ward off the evil eye (which is known in Southern Italy as malocchio). Dio began using the sign soon after joining the metal band Black Sabbath in 1979. The previous singer in the band, Ozzy Osbourne, was rather well known for using the “peace” sign at concerts, raising the index and middle finger in the form of a V. Dio, in an attempt to connect with the fans, wanted to similarly use a hand gesture. However, not wanting to copy Osbourne, he chose to use the sign his grandmother always made. The horns became famous in metal concerts very soon after Black Sabbath’s first tour with Dio. The sign would later be appropriated by heavy metal fans under the name “maloik”, a corruption of the original malocchio.

Terry “Geezer” Butler of Black Sabbath can be seen “raising the horns” in a photograph taken in 1971. The photograph is included in the CD booklet of the Symptom of the Universe: The Original Black Sabbath 1970–1978 compilation album. This would indicate that there had been some association between the “horns” and heavy metal before Dio’s popularization of it.

When asked if he was the one who introduced the hand gesture to metal subculture, Dio said in a 2001 interview with Metal-Rules.com:

I doubt very much if I would be the first one who ever did that. That’s like saying I invented the wheel, I’m sure someone did that at some other point. I think you’d have to say that I made it fashionable. I used it so much and all the time and it had become my trademark until the Britney Spears audience decided to do it as well. So it kind of lost its meaning with that. But it was…. I was in Sabbath at the time. It was a symbol that I thought was reflective of what that band was supposed to be all about. It’s NOT the devil’s sign like we’re here with the devil. It’s an Italian thing I got from my Grandmother called the “Malocchio”. It’s to ward off the Evil Eye or to give the Evil Eye, depending on which way you do it. It’s just a symbol but it had magical incantations and attitudes to it and I felt it worked very well with Sabbath. So I became very noted for it and then everybody else started to pick up on it and away it went. But I would never say I take credit for being the first to do it. I say because I did it so much that it became the symbol of rock and roll of some kind.

Gene Simmons of the rock group KISS attempted to claim the “devil horns” hand gesture for his own. According to CBS News, “Simmons filed an application Friday, June 16, 2017 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a trademark on the hand gesture he regularly uses during concerts and public appearances – thumb, index and pinky fingers extended, with the middle and ring fingers folded down. According to Simmons, this hand gesture was first used in commerce – by him – on Nov. 14, 1974. He is claiming the hand gesture should be trademarked for “entertainment, namely live performances by a musical artist [and] personal appearances by a musical artist.” Simmons abandoned this application on June 21, 2017.

 Eyes of Silver by The Doobie Brothers – “Eyes of Silver” is a deep cut off the What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits studio album by American rock band The Doobie Brothers, released in 1974. This 4th studio album reached #4 on the Pop Albums chart in 1975.

Tom Johnston’s “Another Park, Another Sunday” was chosen to be the album’s first single. “It’s about losing a girl,” stated Johnston. “I wrote the chords and played it on acoustic, and then Ted [Templeman] had some ideas for it, like running the guitars through Leslie speakers.” The song did moderately well on the charts, peaking at #32.

The second single released was “Eyes of Silver”, another Johnston penned tune with a horn-driven funk sound. During this period and for several subsequent tours, the Doobies were often supported on-stage by Stax Records legends The Memphis Horns. According to Johnston, “Word-wise, that one really isn’t that spectacular. I wrote them at the last minute.” That song didn’t have much success on the charts either, reaching only #52. Grasping for chart action, Warner Brothers re-released the band’s first single, “Nobody”. This release was soon overshadowed when radio stations discovered “Black Water”. Other stations joined in and the song was officially released as a single that went on to sell over a million copies and became the Doobie Brothers’ first #1 hit. Ironically, “Black Water” had been featured as the B-side of “Another Park, Another Sunday” eight months earlier. (“Black Water will be featured when I do my Black edition of the Kaleidoscope of Color Songs Series).

Maxwell’s Silver Hammer by the Beatles – “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is a song by the Beatles, sung by Paul McCartney on their album Abbey Road. It was written by McCartney, though credited to Lennon–McCartney. “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is a pop song with dark, eccentric lyrics about a medical student named Maxwell Edison who commits three murders with his silver hammer. He murders his girlfriend Joann, his teacher, and a judge but it is never explained why. The lyrics are disguised by the upbeat, catchy, and rather “childlike” sound of the song.

Paul McCartney said of this song:

“It epitomizes the downfalls in life. Just when everything is going smoothly, Bang! Bang! Down comes Maxwell’s Silver Hammer and ruins everything.”

The song was written in October 1968, intended for the album The Beatles, but left off because of time constraints. It was rehearsed again three months later, in January 1969, at Twickenham film studios during the Get Back sessions but would not be recorded for another six months. The film features two brief rehearsal takes compiled together showing the band’s progress on the song up to that point. Lennon is shown to be participating on electric guitar despite not featuring on the recording for Abbey Road at all. Road manager and Beatles associate Mal Evans participates by providing the anvil hits.

Linda McCartney said that Paul had become interested in avant-garde theatre and had immersed himself in the writings of Alfred Jarry. This influence is reflected in the story and tone of the song, and also explains how Paul came across Jarry’s word “pataphysical”, which occurs in the lyrics.

Beatles guitarist George Harrison described the song in 1969 as “one of those instant whistle-along tunes which some people hate, and other people really like. It’s a fun song, but it’s kind of a drag because Maxwell keeps on destroying everyone like his girlfriend then the school teacher, and then, finally, the judge.” Lennon described it as “more of Paul’s granny music”.

In 1994, McCartney said that the song merely epitomizes the downfalls of life, being “my analogy for when something goes wrong out of the blue, as it so often does, as I was beginning to find out at that time in my life. I wanted something symbolic of that, so to me it was some fictitious character called Maxwell with a silver hammer. I don’t know why it was silver, it just sounded better than Maxwell’s hammer. It was needed for scanning. We still use that expression now when something unexpected happens.”

Recording began at Abbey Road Studios on July 9, 1969. John Lennon, who had been absent from recording sessions for the previous eight days after being injured in a car crash, arrived to work on the song, accompanied by his wife, Yoko Ono, who, more badly hurt in the accident than Lennon, lay on a large double-bed in the studio. Sixteen takes of the rhythm track were made, followed by a series of guitar overdubs. The unused fifth take can be heard on Anthology 3. Over the following two days the group overdubbed vocals, piano, Hammond organ, anvil, and guitar. The song was completed on August 6, when McCartney recorded a solo on a Moog synthesiser.

The recording subsequently drew comment from the entire band; other than the composer (McCartney), none appear to have fond memories of their work on the song:

Lennon said “I was ill after the accident when they did most of that track, and it really ground George and Ringo into the ground recording it”, adding later “I hate it, ‘cos all I remember is the track … [Paul] did everything to make it into a single, and it never was and it never could have been.”

Harrison characterized the song as “fruity” and commented “we spent a hell of a lot of time on it”, and later “after a while, we did a good job on it”. Starr added retrospective input on the finished result in a Rolling Stone article from 2008: “The worst session ever was ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.’ It was the worst track we ever had to record. It went on for fucking weeks. I thought it was mad.”

McCartney recalled: “The only arguments were about things like me spending three days on ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.’ I remember George saying, ‘You’ve taken three days, it’s only a song.’ – ‘Yeah, but I want to get it right. I’ve got some thoughts on this one.’ It was early-days Moog work and it did take a bit of time”.

In his 1969 review of Abbey Road, John Mendelsohn of Rolling Stone magazine observed that in “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”, McCartney “celebrates the joys of being able to bash in the heads of anyone threatening to bring you down. [He] puts it across perfectly with the coyest imaginable choir-boy innocence.”  Robert Christgau referred to the song as “a McCartney crotchet.”

McCartney has never implied a specific inspiration for this song, but fans speculated that he was expressing his frustrations with certain people in the band’s inner circle, perhaps hoping that a figurative hammer would crash down on Yoko Ono or their manager, Allen Klein.

Just for Fun, since we’re talking about a song that talks of killing people and appears on the most controversial Beatles album ever, let’s explore Abbey Road for a minute:

The cover of the album fueled rumors that Paul McCartney was dead. The cover shows all four Beatles walking in a crosswalk of Abbey Road. John is leading, followed by Ringo, Paul, and finally George. According to the rumor, what they were wearing signified a funeral procession. John was dressed in white as if he was God, Ringo was dressed in a black suit as if he was a Preacher, and George was wearing grungy clothing, as if he was the grave digger. Paul was dressed in a dark-gray suit, was carrying a cigarette, and has his eyes closed. Also, he is the only one walking barefoot.

I very fondly remember when the rumor that “Paul is Dead” was running rampant around the world. “Paul is dead” is an urban legend and conspiracy theory alleging that Paul McCartney died in 1966 and was secretly replaced by a look-alike.

In September 1969, American college students published articles claiming that clues to McCartney’s supposed death could be found among the lyrics and artwork of the Beatles’ recordings. Clue-hunting proved infectious and, within a few weeks, had become an international phenomenon.

How do I remember all the hoopla so well? It was in 1969. I was only 7 years old. One of my (young) school teachers was so fascinated with the rumor that she brought in a record player and tried playing the record backwards, all the time sharing with the class all these bizarre clues that supposedly point to the validity of the rumor. I remember as a class we were all enthralled. I’m sure I’m not the only child who excitedly brought it up at the dinner table that night!  There is a plethora of info online about this whole subject but here’s a quick read from Biography.com: Paul is Dead: The Kooky Symbolism on the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” Album Cover

References to the legend are still occasionally made in popular culture. McCartney himself poked fun at it with his 1993 live album, entitling it Paul Is Live, with cover art parodying clues allegedly on the cover of the Beatles’ album Abbey Road.

Rumors declined after a contemporary interview with McCartney was published in Life magazine in November 1969.

The Life magazine report that rebutted the rumor (Nov 1969)

Wasn’t that fun? I still get a kick out of it. Do you remember when the rumors about Paul’s alleged death and all the clues proving the theory were circulating? Were you captivated by it? Did any part of you ever fall for it, even just a little bit?? Do tell!

FUN FACT: McCartney’s handwritten lyrics for the song “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” were sold at auction for $192,000.

Silver Bells by Bing Crosby – It’s the wrong time of year for this song but I just couldn’t do a Silver themed post without including “Silver Bells”. “Silver Bells” is a popular Christmas song, composed by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. Among the many other hit records the duo have written are two Academy Award winning numbers, “Buttons and Bows” and “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)”.

“Silver Bells” was first performed by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in the motion picture The Lemon Drop Kid, filmed in July–August 1950 and released in March 1951:

The first recorded version was by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards on September 8, 1950 with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra and the Lee Gordon Singers which was released by Decca Records in October 1950. After the Crosby and Richards recording became popular, Hope and Maxwell were called back in late 1950 to re-film a more elaborate production of the song.

“Silver Bells” started out as the questionable “Tinkle Bells.” Said Ray Evans, “We never thought that tinkle had a double meaning until Jay went home and his first wife said, ‘Are you out of your mind? Do you know what the word tinkle means?'” Naturally she was referring to tinkle being the slang for urination.

This song’s inspiration has conflicting reports. Several periodicals and interviews cite the writer Jay Livingston stating that the song’s inspiration came from the bells used by sidewalk Santa Clauses and Salvation Army solicitors on New York City street corners. However, in an interview with NPR co-writer Ray Evans said that the song was inspired by a bell that sat on an office desk shared by Livingston and himself.

Livingston told American Songwriter Magazine July/August 1988 that this originally had a different title. He recalled:

“We wrote a song called ‘Tinkle Bell,’ about the tinkly bells you hear at Christmas from the Santa Clauses and the Salvation Army people. We said ‘this is it, this will work for the picture,’ so I took it home and played it for my wife. She said ‘you wrote a song called ‘Tinkle Bell’? Don’t you know that word has a bathroom connotation?’ So I went back to Ray the next day and told him we had to throw the song out, and we did.”

However as the duo continued to work on their assignment, they found themselves taking many of the lines and part of the melody from their “Tinkle Bell” song. In the end, they used the original song, except for substituting the word silver for tinkle, and the song became “Silver Bells.”

The song has been covered by a zillion artists over the years. Take your pick.

FUN FACT: The song charted in the UK for the first time in 2009 when a duet by BBC Radio 2 DJ Sir Terry Wogan and Welsh singer Aled Jones recorded for the Bandaged charity reached the Top 40, peaking at no. 27.

So that’s it for my favorite Silver songs! To close out this post, here is some cool information about the color Silver:

THE MEANING OF THE COLOR SILVER

Taken from the Bourn Creative’s Color Meaning Blog Series:

Silver, the metallic refined, distinguished color of riches, has cool properties like gray, but is more fun, lively, and playful. The color silver is associated with meanings of industrial, sleek, high-tech, and modern, as well as ornate, glamorous, graceful, sophisticated, and elegant.

Silver is a precious metal and, like gold, often symbolizes riches and wealth. Silver is believed to be a mirror to the soul, helping us to see ourselves as others see us. As a gemstone silver represents hope, unconditional love, meditation, mystic visions, tenderness, kindness, sensitivities, and psychic abilities.

Silver affects the mind and body as a conductor and communicator that aids in public speaking and eloquence. Silver is believed to draw negative energy out of the body and replace it with positive energy.

Traditionally gray-haired seniors are viewed as just being old, while the phrase silver-haired traditionally describes a distinguished individual who is aging gracefully. Silver is the traditional twenty-fifth wedding anniversary gift. Silver together with turquoise and brown is often used in Southwestern artwork.

Other meanings associated with the color silver:

  • The phrase “silver screen” used in reference to movies and Hollywood.
  • The saying “silver-tongued” is used to describe a witty and eloquent speaker.
  • The term “pieces of silver” refers to money and coins.
  • The expression “silver-tongued devil” refers to an articulate speaker who is insincere and possibly a liar.
  • The phrase “silver spoon” is used as a descriptor for someone born wealthy who has never had to work for a living.

Additional words that represent different shades, tints, and values of the color silver: gun metal, gray, metallic grey.

* * * * * * *

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Silver Edition of the Kaleidoscope of Color Songs Series. There are quite a few songs with silver in the title. My playlist features my favorites. What are your favorite Silver 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.

This is a Blog Hop!