It’s a Freebie for today’s Monday’s Music Moves Me and believe it or not, we are coming to the end (well, almost) of my Kaleidoscope of Color Songs Series with the final color being BLUE. This series has focused on songs with colors in the title and every color has been highlighted. If you missed any and would like to check them out, I have a page of links to the various editions.
Because there were so many songs that I like with the color Blue in the title, I broke this edition into two parts. This is the BLUE Edition, PART 2. (If you missed Part 1, you can check it out here…and I highly encourage you to as there are some kickass blue songs in that group!). Today’s BLUE PART 2 has a number of fabulous blue songs too. Here is my playlist, followed by some interesting info on each of the blue songs featured. ENJOY!
Blue Money by Van Morrison – “Blue Money” is a song written by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. It was the second of two Top Forty hits from his 1970 album, His Band and the Street Choir (the other being “Domino”), reaching #23 on the US charts. The US single featured “Sweet Thing”, from the album Astral Weeks, as the B-side. It was released as a single in the UK in June 1971 with a different B-side, “Call Me Up in Dreamland”. The song became Morrison’s third best-selling single of the 1970s, remaining on the charts for three months.
Critical response to the song: Robert Christgau, writing in the Village Voice in 1971, described “Blue Money” and “Domino” as “superb examples of Morrison’s loose, allusive white R&B.” Writer M. Mark described it as “a pun-filled song about time and cash.” Biographer Brian Hinton compared the song’s sound to Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames—”boozy horns and a nonsensical chorus.” Maury Dean (musician, professor and author of “The Rock Revolution” which is in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame and the Smithsonian) also praises the song’s “snarly, snappity sounds” and Morrison’s “jazzy baritone.”
The lyrics have the singer promising his girl that they will paint the town together with her “blue money.” Critic Maury Dean states that the theme picks up from Lefty Frizzell’s 1950 #1 song “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time.” In a 1972 Rolling Stone interview with John Grissim Jr., Morrison commented about the popularity of “Blue Money” in cities like Boston and New York: “Out here I get asked to play ‘Blue Money’ all the time. All the kids love it, the kids in the street. It’s their favorite number.”
What is “blue money”? According to one source I found online: “Blue Money” is a song written and recorded by Van Morrison in 1970. What Blue Money refers to in the song, and in most uses of the term, is money earned from salacious or racy photographs and images. So, in the Van Morrison song, when he sings “The photographer smiles, take a break for a while, do your very best… when this is all over, we’ll be in clover, and we’ll go out and spend all of your Blue Money,” he’s watching his woman have naked or nearly naked pictures taken of her and is looking forward to spending what she makes- the aforementioned Blue Money!”
Hmm. I never thought it was that! Although I can see the tie-in with the lyrics referencing the photographer. Though I always assumed it meant rich-kid/trust-fund kid money, like that from a blue blood. Here’s another definition of blue money:
Blue Money. Slang; money that a person or business spends with poor management or accountability.
So what do you think Van Morrison is referring to, this “blue money”??
Blue Collar Man by Styx – “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” is the first single that Styx released from the 1978 album Pieces of Eight. The song reached No. 21 in the United States, and spent two weeks at No. 9 on the Canada RPM Top 100 Singles chart.
This song tells the story of a man who is sick of being mocked for being jobless. He tries to get a job and when he is denied, he tries to persuade people into hiring him.
Styx guitarist Tommy Shaw wrote this song and sang the lead vocals. It’s a good example of his songwriting philosophy, which is to write songs people can relate to and enjoy.
This is one of the songs Styx plays at just about every concert. On their 2011 tour, it was their opening number, as with unemployment in the United States over 9%, the song was more relevant than ever.
Tommy Shaw came up with the guitar riff after a pot-fueled deep sea fishing trip. He explained to The A/V Club that their cab driver gave them some potent weed on the way to the boat, which put them in a daze. Says Shaw:
“When we booked this fishing boat, we said, ‘We are going to be partying. Because we just finished this tour, and we have a cooler and drinks, and I hope you don’t mind if we party.’ Well, we smoked this pot, and by the time we got on the boat, we were paralyzed. We were, like, stone quiet for the first hour and a half. We finally started coming around a little bit and told [the boat owner] what happened. He’s like, ‘I wondered what happened to you guys, because you said there was going to be this big party, and you guys haven’t said a word.’ We’re all sitting there in this daze from this pot, and the boat was making this sound: ‘mmm mmm mmm.’ You are moving slowly when you are trolling through the water. The engines are at really low RPMs. The sound just sort of tattooed itself onto my psyche. And when I got back to the room, I got the acoustic guitar and wrote the music to ‘Blue Collar Man.'”
Lol. I can understand that happeneing…
Released in 1978, the single came in two 7″ vinyl formats: one with the b-side “Superstars” (a track from The Grand Illusion) and a second single with the instrumental album track “Aku-Aku” as the b-side. Some printings of the single were also issued in a translucent blue vinyl, which are now highly sought after collectors items. Do any of you have the blue vinyl copy?
Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) – “Mr. Blue Sky” is a song by British rock group Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), featured on the band’s seventh studio album Out of the Blue (1977). Written and produced by frontman Jeff Lynne, the song forms the fourth and final track of the “Concerto for a Rainy Day” suite, on side three of the original double album. The lyrics are uplifting, and follow the concept of a rainy day that comes to an end.
“Mr. Blue Sky” was the second single to be taken from Out of the Blue, peaking at number 6 in the UK Singles Chart and number 35 in the US.
In a BBC Radio interview, Lynne talked about writing “Mr. Blue Sky” after locking himself away in a Swiss chalet and attempting to write ELO’s follow-up to A New World Record:
It was dark and misty for 2 weeks, and I didn’t come up with a thing. Suddenly the sun shone and it was, ‘Wow, look at those beautiful Alps.’ I wrote Mr. Blue Sky and 13 other songs in the next 2 weeks.
ELO leader Jeff Lynne puts “Blue” in a lot of his songs… “Mr. Blue Sky,” “Out of the Blue,” “Midnight Blue,” etc. Lynne is from the Birmingham area in England, where the Birmingham Football Club (or as Americans know it, soccer team) is called the Birmingham Blues. The “blues” in these songs are a tribute to his team.
“Mr. Blue Sky” is played before the start of every football (soccer) match played by Birmingham Football Club (commonly nicknamed “The Blues”)
The song’s arrangement has been called “Beatlesque”, bearing similarities to Beatles songs “Martha My Dear” and “A Day in the Life” while harmonically it shares its unusual first four chords and harmonic rhythm with “Yesterday.”
The arrangement makes prominent use of a cowbell sound (although this is credited on the album to percussionist Bev Bevan, as that of a “fire extinguisher”).
The song also features a heavily vocoded voice singing the phrase “Mr. Blue Sky.” A second vocoded segment at the end of the song was often interpreted as “Mister Blue Sky”; it is actually “Please turn me over” as it is the end of side three, and the listener is being instructed to flip the LP over. (Remember the old days when we used to listen to our music on vinyl and we had to turn the record over to hear the other side?) This fact was confirmed by Jeff Lynne on October 3, 2012 on The One Show.
FUN FACT: The song was played as a wake-up call to astronaut Christopher Ferguson on Day 3 of STS-135, the final mission of Space Shuttle Atlantis.
Black & Blue by Van Halen – “Black and Blue” is a rock song written by the group Van Halen for their 1988 album OU812 (“Oh, You Ate One Too”). It is one of six singles issued for the album, and was the first from the album to hit #1 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart, and peaked at #34 on the Billboard Hot 100. Songwriters credited were Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony.
This song is from the years that Sammy Hagar was with Van Halen. A lot of Van Halen hardcore fans much preferred David Lee Roth and believe that Sammy Hagar “ruined” Van Halen. In fact, the 13 years that Sammy Hagar was with Van Halen, the band is often referred to as “Van Hagar”. OU812 was the second album to feature Sammy Hagar as lead singer.
The lyrics of “Black and Blue” are typical Van Halen (or Van Hagar, whichever). Lots of sex in their songs. And this song is no different. In an interview with Martin Popoff, Sammy Hagar gives a retrospective of the album. Regarding the song, Hagar says:
“I’m a very sexual type person. If I ever write something like that, it’s usually a true experience. It’s a true experience I happened to have had on the 5150 tour, where I was actually bruised up pretty bad, and in the wrong areas too, man. It took me out of commission for a week or so. But it was a good thing and I thought, hat a great phrase “do it to me black and blue.” It’s kind of a typical goofy old-time ‘80s rock ‘n roll lyric. But my most proud thing about that lyric is the way it rhythmically phrases against the music. Because in Van Halen, when Eddie and Alex get together, there weren’t many holes in the music to sing to. I like to sing in the holes. You don’t sing over the lick; you should sing in holes. Well, there’s never any holes in Van Halen. So lyrically, I was a master on that song and I sang completely…you just listen to it some time. It was like ‘boom, dat, oomph, dat, boom, uh’. If you just took it and made drumbeats out of everything I sang and everything else that was on there, it would sound like a Latino song, it was so rhythmically correct. And lyrically, it’s not easy to do that, to find a word that’s going to fit with what you’re trying to say and rhymes and rhythms like that. So I think it’s a masterpiece of phrasing if anything.”
Angel in Blue by J. Geils Band – “Angel in Blue” is a song written by keyboard player Seth Justman that was first released by the J. Geils Band on their 1981 album Freeze Frame. Released as a single in 1982, the song reached the Top 40. Cissy Houston and Luther Vandross appear on the song as back up vocalists.
J Geils Band 1973
In a Classic Rock Review (dot com) article reviewing the album, the following was written:
“…Although the band bears the name of founding guitarist J. Geils, this album really belongs to keyboardist, songwriter, and producer Seth Justman.
… Through the 1970s, the band achieved moderate commercial success with a few minor hits, but nothing like the worldwide fame that they would enjoy in the early 1980s with Freeze Frame, fueled by the Justman’s catchy and cleaver #1 hit “Centerfold”, which introduced the band to much of the mainstream pop world.
… The album is really a potpourri of songs that can be segmented into one of about three distinct categories. The first of these is the direct pop category, consisting of the smash hit “Centerfold” and the opening title song. Both are bouncy and catchy and lead by an airy and accessible organ riff and upbeat entertainment, while carefully flirting with some risque subject matter. “Freeze Frame” has a great stop-start chorus, and was itself a successful top-ten hit. The band also produced a couple of entertaining music videos for the brand new MTV for these songs, no doubt helping their climb in the charts.
…The next category of songs are synch-dominated, pop-art compositions that deviate vastly from the band’s traditional sound. Here, Justman’s genius shines through as he accomplishes this deviation while he still preserves the album’s overall integrity.
The final category of songs on Freeze Frame maintains the band’s traditional rock/soul sound through the ballad “Angel In Blue” and the rockers “Flamethrower” and “Piss On the Wall.”
“Angel In Blue” is a pleasant tune with a melancholy tone, containing the biggest presence by Geils on the entire album. The song is masterfully constructed with just the right touch of organ and drum beat, and a nice ensemble of backing vocals and horns in the outtro.”
AllMusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine describes the song as “terrific neo-doo wop.” Viglione praises it further, stating that it is “arguably the smartest lyric in the J. Geils Band catalogue” with a “strong melody,” concluding that it is “four minutes and fifty-one seconds (on the album) of Peter Wolf reading Seth Justman’s post-“Centerfold” wet dream.” Music critic Robert Christgau describes the song as “slick get-’em-off trash” about “a whore with a heart of brass that I’m just a sucker for.” Mark Coleman of The Rolling Stone Album Guide finds the song to be “haunting.”
“Angel in Blue” peaked at #40 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining there for two weeks. It also reached #55 in the UK. The song also made the Billboard Singles Radio Action chart in a number of regions, including Buffalo, New York, Annapolis, Maryland, Nashville, Tennessee and Jacksonville, Florida. “Angel in Blue” was also released on a number of J. Geils Band compilation albums, including Centerfold, The Very Best J. Geils Band Album Ever and Best of The J. Geils Band, as well as several multi-artist compilation albums.
In April of 2017, J. Geils, founder and longtime guitarist of the J. Geils Band, was found dead in his Groton, Massachusetts, home on Tuesday (April 11), police confirmed. He was 71 years old.
Angel in Blue Jeans by Train – “Angel in Blue Jeans” is a song recorded by American rock band Train for their seventh studio album Bulletproof Picasso. The album’s first single, released June 9, 2014, finds Pat Monahan singing of falling in love at first sight with an “angel in blue jeans.” Monahan penned the song with the New York-based Norwegian songwriting and music production team consisting of Espen Lind and Amund Bjørklund. The same trio also wrote Train’s hit tunes “Hey Soul Sister” and “Drive By.”
The song’s Western-themed video, influenced by the spaghetti western film genre, features seasoned character actor Danny Trejo (Spy Kids, Machete) going against type by playing the good guy. (Monahan is the villainous sheriff). New Girl’s’ Hannah Simone co-stars as the “angel in blue jeans.” Monahan told Entertainment Tonight he thrived playing the baddie. “I think my face is really good at being a bad guy and it’s great ’cause Danny, who usually is a bad guy, ends up being the hero, which is super cool,” the vocalist said.
Trejo had to listen to the track around 50 times so he could lip syncs the words properly for the video. “I drove everybody crazy with it, but thank God everybody likes the song. Now everybody’s singing it,” he joked to ET. “This song is gonna be a hit, I’m telling you. Everybody’s heard it. Low riders are all bumping it pretty loud!”
Monahan explained the song’s meaning to Radio.com: “The song is literally about dreaming about trying to find that woman that did a magical thing to you and then you wake up from the dream at the end and you’re laying next to her,” he said. “And then you can relax.”
Blue Jean by David Bowie – “Blue Jean” is a song written and recorded by David Bowie for his sixteenth studio album Tonight, released in 1984. One of only two tracks on the album to be written entirely by Bowie, it was released as a single ahead of the album and charted within the Top 10 in the UK and the United States, peaking at No. 6 and No. 8, respectively. The song is loosely inspired by American rockabilly musician Eddie Cochran.
Bowie described this Eddie Cochran-inspired single in a 1987 interview as “a piece of sexist rock ‘n roll. [laughs] It’s about picking up birds. It’s not very cerebral, that piece.”
Following the commercial success of Bowie’s previous album, Let’s Dance, its singles and the Serious Moonlight Tour, “Blue Jean” was launched with a 21-minute short film, Jazzin’ for Blue Jean, directed by Julien Temple. The song performance segment from this was also used as a more conventional music video. The film won the 1985 Grammy Award for “Best Video, Short form”, later renamed “Best Music Video”, which proved to be the only competitive Grammy Award Bowie won during his lifetime for over three decades, although Bowie posthumously won four Grammies for his album Blackstar (2016).
“Blue Jean” would remain in Bowie’s live repertoire for the rest of his career, being performed on his Glass Spider Tour (1987), Sound+Vision Tour (1990) and A Reality Tour (2004).
Devil with a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels – “Devil with a Blue Dress” (also known as “Devil with the Blue Dress On”) is a song written by Shorty Long and William “Mickey” Stevenson, first performed by Long and released as a single in 1964. A later version recorded by Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels in 1966 peaked at #4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
The song describes a particularly attractive woman who is highly accessorized and has caught the eye of the singer.
The song was originally recorded by Shorty Long in 1964 as “Devil With The Blue Dress.” Long was signed to a Motown label that specialized in Soul recordings, and this was his first single on the label. Long wrote the song with Motown producer Mickey Stevenson. Long’s version was kind of Bluesy and didn’t have the typical Motown sound. Unfortunately for Long, it failed to chart and his only hit was the 1968 novelty song “Here Comes the Judge.” Long died in a boating accident in 1969 at age 29.
Two years later, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels recorded the song as a medley with an original arrangement of Little Richard’s “Good Golly, Miss Molly”. Their version was notably more up-tempo than Long’s more blues-influenced rendition. Reaching #4 on the Hot 100, their version of the track would end up becoming their most well-known and highest charting hit in the United States.
The Duke Blue Devils (Duke University’s NCAA teams) use “Devil with a Blue Dress On” as a victory song.
Crystal Blue Persuasion by Tommy James & the Shondells – “Crystal Blue Persuasion” is a 1968 song originally recorded by Tommy James and the Shondells and composed by Eddie Gray, Tommy James, and Mike Vale. When released as a single in June 1969, “Crystal Blue Persuasion” became one of the biggest hits for the group, peaking at number two on the Billboard Pop Singles chart for three weeks.
A gentle-tempoed groove, “Crystal Blue Persuasion” was built around a prominent organ part with an understated arrangement, more akin to The Rascals’ sound at the time than to James’s contemporary efforts with psychedelic rock. It included melodic passages for an acoustic guitar, as well as a bass pattern.
In a 1985 interview in Hitch magazine, James said the title of the song came to him while he was reading the Biblical Book of Revelation:
I took the title from the Book of Revelations [sic] in the Bible, reading about the New Jerusalem. The words jumped out at me, and they’re not together; they’re spread out over three or four verses. But it seemed to go together, it’s my favorite of all my songs and one of our most requested.
According to James’s manager, James was actually inspired by his readings of the Book of Ezekiel, which (he remembered as) speaking of a blue Shekhinah light that represented the presence of the Almighty God, and of the Book of Isaiah and Book of Revelation, which tell of a future age of brotherhood of mankind, living in peace and harmony.
Many listeners thought “Crystal Blue Persuasion” was a drug song advocating the use of “crystal meth” (methamphetamine), while on the West Coast. At the time of the song’s release there were several popular types of high quality blue-colored LSD tablets in circulation—some listeners generally assumed James was referring to “acid”. In 1979, noted music writer Dave Marsh described it as “a transparent allegory about James’ involvement with amphetamines.”
The lyrics, “It’s a new vibration,” are about James becoming Christian, but many listeners had their own interpretation. He explained:
“Of course, everybody thinks if they don’t understand what you’re talking about it must be about drugs. But it wasn’t. We were going through a real interesting time back then, and a very wonderful time. Everybody in the band, by the way, became Christian. And we’re very proud of it. And ‘Crystal Blue Persuasion’ was sort of our way of saying that in a kind of pop record way.”
This would have made a great performance at Woodstock, and the song was peaking on the charts at the time of the famous festival. Tommy James & the Shondells were invited to appear, but, as Tommy explains:
“Like dopes we turned it down. I gotta tell you what – we were in Hawaii at the foot of Diamond Head. This was in August of ’69, and we played a date in Hilo, and then we had two weeks off and then we were gonna play in Honolulu. They put us at these gorgeous mansions at the foot of Diamond Head, right on the ocean. And our biggest decision of the day was, Do I go in the ocean or in the swimming pool? We were sitting around drinking margaritas, and it was wonderful. And I get this call from JoAnn, my secretary, and she said, ‘Artie Kornfeld was up,’ Artie Kornfeld was one of the principals at Woodstock, and he was also a friend of mine. He produced the Cowsills and a whole bunch of other acts, and he was very successful producer. We had the same lawyer. And so she said, ‘Artie was up and asked if you could play at this pig farm up in upstate New York.’ I said, ‘What?!?’ ‘Well, they say it’s gonna be a lot of people there, and it’s gonna be like a really important show.’ And I said, ‘Did I hear you right? Did you say would I leave paradise, fly 6,000 miles, and play a pig farm? Is that what you just asked me?’ She said, ‘Well, you could put it like that, but it’s gonna be a big show. It’s important.’ I said, ‘Well, I’ll tell you what, if I’m not there, start without us, will you please?’ And I hung up the phone. And they did. And by Thursday of that week we knew we messed up really bad. (laughing) But in the end I think I got probably more mileage out of that story.”
A primitive non-representational music video was made, that showed various scenes of late 1960s political and cultural unrest and imagery of love and peace.
Blue Bayou by Linda Ronstadt – “Blue Bayou” was originally written and recorded by Roy Orbison on his legendary 1963 album In Dreams. While it only scored as high as #29 in the US (despite scoring #1 in Ireland and #10 in Norway), Linda Ronstadt took it to far greater fame as her only gold-selling single and her signature song.
Linda Ronstadt took the song to number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1977, where it held for four weeks, as well as number 2 Country and number 3 Easy Listening. It also reached number 2, for four weeks, on the Cash Box Top 100 chart.
The single was RIAA certified Gold (for sales of over 1 million US copies) in January 1978. It was the first of Ronstadt’s three Gold singles. Don Henley of the Eagles sang backup on the recording. “Blue Bayou” was later certified Platinum (for over 2 million copies sold in the United States). It was a worldwide smash and was also popular in a Spanish-language version called “Lago Azul”.
Linda Ronstadt has been called “the most successful and certainly the most durable and most gifted woman rock singer of her era” in Andrew Greeley’s book God in Popular Culture.
The song has been recorded by many other artists over the years.
Ronstadt later performed the song on the episode 523 of The Muppet Show, first aired October 26, 1980 on UK, and May 16, 1981 on United States.
Ronstadt’s version appears, in edited form, in the 2017 movie American Made.
FUN FACT: Because of this song, Dickson’s Baseball Dictionary records that a “Linda Ronstadt” is a synonym for a fastball, a pitch that “blew by you”. That phrase was coined by Mets broadcaster Tim McCarver, during a Mets telecast in the 1980s.
Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue by Crystal Gale – “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” is a song written by Richard Leigh, and recorded by American country music singer Crystal Gayle. It was released in March 1977 as the first single from Gayle’s album We Must Believe in Magic. Despite the title, Gayle herself has blue eyes.
Songwriter Richard Leigh was inspired by his dog, who had brown eyes, while writing this song. It was his second #1 Country hit for Crystal Gayle. Leigh also wrote many other Country classics and is in the Nashville Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.
The song became a worldwide hit single. It was a huge crossover hit for Gayle, making her famous outside the world of Country music. In the United States, it topped the Billboard country music chart and was Gayle’s first (and biggest) crossover pop hit, reaching number 1 on the Cashbox Top 100 for two weeks, and number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, behind Debby Boone’s smash hit, “You Light Up My Life”. The album received Platinum status, the first by a female country singer. The song became Gayle’s signature piece throughout her career. This won 1977 Grammy Awards for Best Country Vocal plus Best Country Song for writer Richard Leigh. In 1978, the song won Gayle a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. In 1999, the song was recognized by ASCAP as one of the ten most-performed songs of the 20th century. The song has a jazzy feel to it when compared to many other country songs of that era. Gayle had many more hit singles for the next ten years, such as “Talking in Your Sleep”, “Half the Way” “You and I” (a duet with Eddie Rabbitt) and “I’ll Get Over You”, but none have achieved the same level of success as “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”.
Gayle made a lot of TV appearances when this became a hit. For many viewers, it was their first look at Gayle, who had hair down to her feet.
Crystal Gayle nailed this on the first try. “That was a first take,” she recalled to Billboard magazine. “I did not re-sing it. It just fell into place beginning with Pig Robbins’ opening work on the piano. It was magic in the studio that day.”
Misty Blue by Dorothy Moore – “Misty Blue” is a song written by Bob Montgomery, who was Buddy Holly’s high school singing partner, that has been recorded and made commercially-successful by several music artists. Although Montgomery wrote the song for a different artist in mind, it was brought first to the attention of Wilma Burgess in 1966. It was subsequently recorded by Eddy Arnold the following year, whose version became more successful. A decade later, R&B artist Dorothy Moore released the highest-charting version of the song and it reached the top ten in several different radio formats. Following Moore’s revival of the track, numerous artists re-covered the tune, including country artist Billie Jo Spears. Spears’s version would also go on to become a successful single release. Numerous other artists and musicians of different genres have recorded their own versions of “Misty Blue”. The song is now considered both a country music and R&B standard.
The story of Dorothy Moore’s cover version of this song is sure a case for “all in good time” and “meant to be.” Prior to Moore’s R&B version of “Misty Blue”, Joe Simon cut the song in a similar format. Released in 1972, Simon’s version of the song only became a regional hit.
It was through the Joe Simon version that Malaco Records owner Tommy Couch was familiar with “Misty Blue” which Couch would record in 1973 with Dorothy Moore, a native of Jackson MS who had recorded a number of tracks at the Malaco Studios in Jackson. Moore would recall receiving a morning call at her home from Couch inviting Moore to Couch’s studio to hear a song he deemed perfect for her: (Dorothy Moore quote:) “I didn’t have a car at the time, so I took the bus to Malaco [where] I listened to the song [and] liked it…The rhythm section [was] there [so] we decided to record it. They had the lyrics typed out and [put] in front of me. And we did that record in one take. ‘Misty Blue’ was meant for me” – although Moore admits: “I recorded it just like I did any other. I didn’t say: ‘This is a hit.’ I never saw [great success] coming.”
Evidently reluctant to release the track themselves, Malaco Records shopped Moore’s “Misty Blue” to major labels without success, with the track remaining “in the can” until November 1975 when the cash-strapped Malaco Records used the last of its resources to press Moore’s “Misty Blue” which they released themselves. When Moore was advised of her recording’s belated release by Couch (Dorothy Moore quote:) “I [asked to] come in [to the studio] and add one thing to it. I had a copy of the recording [and had realized] the intro was too long – and [so] I put that ‘mmmm-ooh-a-ooh’ over the first few notes.” Also Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section veteran Jimmy Johnson overdubbed his rhythm guitar work on to the 1973 track. Malaco Records did shop the updated track to Florida-based TK Records whose owner Henry Stone passed on releasing Moore’s “Misty Blue” while agreeing for TK to act as national distributor for Malaco’s own release of the track which Stone began promoting heavily via his own independent network.
After receiving its initial airplay in Chicago and Washington DC, Moore’s single broke in the southern states in April 1976 and three months later it was nominated for a Grammy Award. In 1976 the single reached number 2 on the R&B chart and 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as number 14 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 19 song for 1976.
“Misty Blue” was also a UK hit, reaching number 5 there on the chart dated for the week of 8 August 1976. Moore’s single also achieved hit status in Australia (#5), Canada (#4), New Zealand (#4), and South Africa (#11).
Dorothy Moore was originally a member of the female vocal group The Poppies, who had a #56 pop hit in 1966 in the US with the song “Lullaby of Love.” Moore went solo in the mid-’70s and her version of this song became her biggest hit. On backing vocals was her former Poppies bandmate Fern Kinney, who later in 1980 enjoyed a #1 hit in the UK with “Together We Are Beautiful.”
Midnight Blue by Melissa Manchester – Midnight Blue is the color of the sky under certain shades of moonlight. “Midnight Blue” is a title of a Top Ten hit single by Melissa Manchester that was taken from her 1975 album Melissa: Billboard magazine described the song as “a classically elegant quiet ballad about a pair of longtime lovers putting aside their aggravations until the dawn in order to try making it one more time in memory of all their old times together.”
The song is about a relationship that has been through the ringer; the singer is looking to give it another try, approaching it from a different angle: “Think of me as your friend.”
After meeting Manchester backstage after Bette Midler’s Carnegie Hall concert of 23 June 1972 Bayer Sager suggested she and Manchester write a song to cut as a demo, the result being “Midnight Blue”.
The song had been written by Manchester in 1973 as her first collaboration with Carole Bayer Sager, who would be Manchester’s regular lyricist over the next five years; Manchester would recall: “the songs that I wrote with Carole…all came out of conversations. Therefore the tone of the songs was very conversational. The listener always feels like they are in the moment when that first line is uttered.”  According to Manchester the genesis of “Midnight Blue” was a conversation she and Bayer Sager “had about our young husbands, and how as young women we didn’t know how to get through the hard times that every relationship has”; the song was essentially finished but still lacking a title when either Manchester or Bayer Sager said: “Midnight Blue” which Manchester opines “was the perfect fit for the [song’s] overall feeling”.
Other songs Carole Bayer Sager wrote with Manchester include “Just You And I,” “Come In From The Rain” and “Home To Myself” – lots of confessional songs from a female perspective. Bayer Sager explained: “I think just by writing about the things we were going through, we were able to tough the hearts of women who were also struggling, so I’m very proud of those songs.”
In 2012 Manchester would recall promoting “Midnight Blue”:
“I [had been] an album artist [with no cause] to worry about a single. Suddenly, Bell Records was absorbed into Arista Records [whose president] Clive Davis…spoke of things like singles success. [For] ‘Midnight Blue’ we did a really vigorous tour of radio stations and secondary markets” – “I crisscrossed the country to break the song on college radio stations, which were very important at the time. It was right before radio went into automated playlists. Music directors and disc jockeys still had pull. Right after ‘Midnight Blue’, everything changed” – “We traveled thousands of miles shaking hands and playing: when [the song] finally got from the east coast to the west coast it was so huge…I [will] never forget that first experience of playing the intro to ‘Midnight Blue’ [to have] people started cheering….That was the power of radio.”
Melissa Manchester released two hitless albums on Bell Records before signing a deal with Arista, which issued her third album, Melissa, which contains “Midnight Blue.” The song went to #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart and established Manchester as both a songwriter and artist.
“Midnight Blue” debuted at #90 on the Hot 100 in Billboard magazine dated 10 May 1975: the same issue of Billboard showed the track ranked at #22 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart where “Midnight Blue” was in its fourth week on the Easy Listening Top 50. In its sixth week on the Billboard Hot 100, “Midnight Blue” entered the Top 40 at #40 on the chart dated 14 June 1975, with the track ranked at #2 on that week’s Billboard Easy Listening chart: “Midnight Blue” would spend the weeks of 21–28 June at #1 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart – eventually being cited as the #1 Easy Listening hit of the year 1975 – while on the Hot 100 the track would ascend to a peak of #6 (8 August 1975).
Manchester’s later accomplishments include co-writing the Kenny Loggins/Stevie Nicks duet “Whenever I Call You “Friend”” and Top 10 singles as an artist with “Don’t Cry Out Loud” and “You Should Hear How She Talks About You.”
FUN FACT: Manchester had personally pitched “Midnight Blue” to Dusty Springfield according to Springfield’s friend Sue Cameron who recalls Manchester visiting Springfield’s Laurel Canyon home and playing Springfield the demo of “Midnight Blue” – Cameron (quote): “She told Melissa no. Melissa leaves the house. I went: ‘Are you crazy?'”
Midnight Blue by Lou Gramm – After doing a decade in Foreigner, Lou Gramm set out on his own in 1987, releasing his first solo single, “Midnight Blue.” The song was hit, going to #5 in America thanks in large part to a video that made the rounds on MTV and also on VH1, which launched two years earlier.
“Midnight Blue” is the first single released by Lou Gramm as a solo artist from his debut solo album Ready or Not in 1987. He had staggering success as the lead singer of Foreigner, which in the previous 10 years had become one of the biggest bands in America. Gramm, who co-wrote most of their songs with guitarist Mick Jones, was disheartened by the direction that band had taken, fearing that slick ballads like “Waiting For A Girl Like You” and “I Want to Know What Love Is” had gotten them away from their roots.
Looking to rediscover a raw, spontaneous sound, Gramm released the album Ready Or Not in early 1987. His “Midnight Blue” spent five weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot Album Rock Tracks, starting on February 14, 1987, and by April, peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100, Gramm’s highest-charting solo hit.
(Later in 1987, Foreigner released another successful album (with Gramm on lead vocals), Inside Information, which contained the hits “Say You Will” and “I Don’t Want to Live Without You.” Gramm released another solo album in 1989 with contained the hit “Just Between You and Me.”)
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic calls Gramm’s “Midnight Blue” the “last great single of the album-rock era”. Allmusic reviewer Bret Adams posits that, “despite its hit status, it’s one of the decade’s truly underappreciated singles.”
In this song, Lou Gramm sings about how life is simple, really: it’s either cherry red or midnight blue.
In our interview with Gramm, he explained that cherry red is “everything going as best as it can,” while midnight blue is “dark and mysterious.”
On this track, he makes it clear that he is the darker shade, letting the girl know that he’s going to forge his own path, and while they are split at the moment, he’ll be coming back for her. It’s a very unapologetic love song, as Gramm makes it clear that he doesn’t regret the way he treated her, but is confident that everything will be cherry red once he decides to win her back.
As for the music video: Jim Hershleder (who would later direct videos for Steve Earle, Kathy Mattea and John Fogerty) got the call to make “Midnight Blue.” Gramm was best known in the video age for “I Want to Know What Love Is,” the big Foreigner ballad, but he always considered himself a rocker. For “Midnight Blue,” Hershleder left him unadorned in leather jacket and jeans with his new band. The concurrent storyline is the stuff of teenage dreams: taking the convertible to gather the girl and ride off into the moonlight.
Jim Hershleder directed the video, which benefited from airplay on VH1, which had launched two years earlier. Hershleder told Songfacts:
“The concept stemmed from the power of the song, which seemed to me captured the feeling of being young, having your first car, and picking up your girlfriend who had just snuck out of her house to meet you. My teen years in Minnesota, basically.”
Blue Suede Shoes by Elvis Presley – “Blue Suede Shoes” is a rock-and-roll standard written and first recorded by Carl Perkins in 1955. It is considered one of the first rockabilly (rock-and-roll) records, incorporating elements of blues, country and pop music of the time. Perkins’ original version of the song was on the Cashbox Best Selling Singles list for 16 weeks and spent two weeks in the number two position. Elvis Presley performed his version of the song three different times on national television. It was also recorded by Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran, among many others.
Blue suede shoes were a luxury item in the South, a stylish footwear for a night out. You had to be careful with them, however, since suede isn’t easy to clean.
Perkins never owned a pair, but Johnny Cash told him a story about someone who did. As Cash told it, he and Perkins were performing at a show in Amory, Mississippi along with Elvis Presley. When Presley was on stage, Cash told Perkins a story from his days serving in the Air Force in Germany. Cash’s sergeant, a black guy named C.V. White, would wear his military best when he was allowed off base, and at one point said to Johnny, “don’t step on my blue suede shoes.” The shoes were really just Air Force-issued black, but white would say, “Tonight they’re blue suede.”
The story Perkins told is that later on, he was playing at a high school sorority dance when he came across a guy who wasn’t paying much attention to his date, but kept telling everyone not to stop on his “suedes,” meaning his blues suede shoes. At 3:00 a.m. that night, Perkins woke up and wrote the lyrics based on what happened that night and the story he heard from Cash. He couldn’t find any paper, so he wrote it on a potato sack.
Perkins recorded this in Memphis for Sam Phillips at Sun Records. As he was driving to make his first national appearance to promote it (on the Perry Como Show), he got into an accident that seriously injured him and killed his brother. “I was 85 miles away from being the first rockabilly on national television,” he recalled.
Perkins never fully recovered, either emotionally or career-wise. With Perkins unable to touring and promote it, Elvis’ cover version became a massive hit. Presley’s copy was done at RCA studios in Nashville.
Elvis’ Rendition: Recording cover versions of songs was a common practice during the 1940s and 1950s, and “Blue Suede Shoes” was one of the first songs RCA Victor wanted its newly contracted artist, Elvis Presley, to record. “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Shoes” rose on the charts at roughly the same time. RCA Victor, with its superior distribution and radio contacts, knew it could probably steal a hit record from Phillips and Perkins. Presley, who knew both Perkins and Phillips from his days at Sun Records, gave in to pressure from RCA, but he requested that the company hold back his version from release as a single. Presley’s version features two guitar solos by Scotty Moore, with Bill Black on bass and D.J. Fontana on drums.
According to Moore, when the song was recorded, “We just went in there and started playing, just winged it. Just followed however Elvis felt.” According to reports confirmed by Sam Phillips, RCA Victor producer Steve Sholes agreed not to release Presley’s version of the song as a single while Perkins’ release was hot.
Presley performed the song on national television three times in 1956. The first was February 11 on Stage Show. He also performed it again on his third appearance on Stage Show on March 17, and again on the Milton Berle Show on April 3. On July 1, Steve Allen introduced Presley on The Steve Allen Show, and Presley, dressed in formal evening wear, said, “I think that I have on something tonight that’s not quite right for evening wear.” Allen asked, “What’s that, Elvis?” “Blue suede shoes” was the answer, as he lifted his left foot to show the audience. Presley mentioned blue suede shoes a second time on this show: in a song during the “Range Roundup” comedy skit with Allen, Andy Griffith, and Imogene Coca, he delivered the line, “I’m a-warnin’ you galoots, don’t step on my blue suede shoes.”
Moore has said that Presley recorded the song to help out Perkins after his accident. “Elvis wasn’t really thinking at that time that it was going to make money for Carl; he was doing it as more of a tribute type thing. Of course Carl was glad he did. It really helped as his record started going down.”
“Blue Suede Shoes” was the first song on the groundbreaking album Elvis Presley, which was released in March. RCA Victor released two other records with “Blue Suede Shoes” the same month: an extended play with four songs (RCA Victor EPA 747) and a double extended play with eight songs (RCA Victor EPB 1254).
RCA Victor released the Presley version as a single on September 8, one of a number of singles RCA issued simultaneously, all culled from the album Elvis Presley. This single reached number 20, whereas Perkins’ version had topped the chart.
In 1960, Presley re-recorded “Blue Suede Shoes” for the soundtrack of the film G.I. Blues. While Presley’s character and his band, the “Three Blazes”, play a ballad at a Frankfurt nightclub (“Doin’ the Best I Can”, by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman), a bored GI plays Presley’s version of “Blue Suede Shoes” on the jukebox, remarking that he wants “to hear an original”. When another soldier tries to unplug the jukebox, the audience erupts in a fight. This studio re-recording was one of the few occasions in Presley’s career in which he agreed to re-record a previously issued song. He did it on this occasion because the rest of the soundtrack was recorded in stereo, and thus a stereo version of “Blue Suede Shoes” was required. The 1960 version uses virtually the same arrangement as the 1956 recording. This version was included on the soundtrack album to G.I. Blues but was never released as a single in the United States.
In 1985, RCA issued a music video of Presley’s original version of “Blue Suede Shoes”. The video featured a contemporary setting and actors (and Carl Perkins in a cameo appearance), with Presley shown in archival footage.
In 1999, Presley’s version was certified as a gold record by the RIAA.
Blue Jay Way by the Beatles – “Blue Jay Way” is a song recorded by those English blokes the Beatles. Written by George Harrison, it was released in 1967 on the group’s Magical Mystery Tour EP and album. The song was named after a street in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles where Harrison stayed in August 1967, shortly before visiting the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. The lyrics document Harrison’s wait for music publicist Derek Taylor to find his way to Blue Jay Way through the fog-ridden hills, while Harrison struggled to stay awake after the flight from London to Los Angeles.
Blue Jay Way, art by Jacob Jenkins
As with several of Harrison’s compositions from this period, “Blue Jay Way” incorporates aspects of Indian classical music, although the Beatles used only Western instrumentation on the track, including a drone-like Hammond organ part played by Harrison. Created during the group’s psychedelic period, the track makes extensive use of studio techniques such as flanging, Leslie rotary effect, and reversed tape sounds. The song appeared in the Beatles’ 1967 television film Magical Mystery Tour, in a sequence that visually re-creates the sense of haziness and dislocation evident on the recording.
While some reviewers have dismissed the song as monotonous, many others have admired its yearning quality and dark musical mood. The website Consequence of Sound describes “Blue Jay Way” as “a haunted house of a hit, adding an ethereal, creepy mythos to the City of Angels”. Among its continued links with Los Angeles, the song was one of the first Beatles tracks that cult leader Charles Manson adopted as the foundation for his Helter Skelter theory of an American race-related countercultural revolution. Artists who have covered the song include Bud Shank, Colin Newman, Tracy Bonham, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Greg Hawkes.
Background & Inspiration: George Harrison wrote “Blue Jay Way” after arriving in Los Angeles on August 1, 1967 with his wife Pattie Boyd and Beatles aides Neil Aspinall and Alex Mardas. The purpose of the trip was to spend a week with Derek Taylor, the Beatles’ former press officer and latterly the publicist for California-based acts such as the Byrds and the Beach Boys. The visit also allowed Harrison to reunite with his sitar tutor, Ravi Shankar, whose Kinnara School of Music and upcoming concert at the Hollywood Bowl he helped publicize.
“I told [Derek Taylor] on the phone that the house was in Blue Jay Way … There was a fog and it got later and later. To keep myself awake, just as a joke to fill in time, I wrote a song about waiting for him in Blue Jay Way. There was a little Hammond organ in the corner of this rented house … I messed around on this and the song came.”
– George Harrison to Hunter Davies, 1968
The title of the song came from a street named Blue Jay Way, one of the “bird streets” high in the Hollywood Hills West area overlooking the Sunset Strip, where Harrison had rented a house for his stay. Jet-lagged after the flight from London, he began writing the composition on a Hammond organ as he and Boyd waited for Taylor and the latter’s wife, Joan, to join them. The home’s location, on a hillside of narrow, winding roads, together with the foggy conditions that night, created the backdrop for the song’s opening lines: “There’s a fog upon L.A. / And my friends have lost their way.” Harrison had almost completed the song by the time the Taylors arrived, around two hours later than planned.
The week with Taylor proved to be important for the direction of the Beatles. At the height of the Summer of Love and the popularity of the band’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, Harrison, Taylor and their small entourage visited the international “hippie capital” of Haight-Ashbury, in San Francisco, on August 7th. Harrison had expected to encounter an enlightened community engaged in artistic pursuits and working to create a viable alternative lifestyle; instead, he was disappointed that Haight-Ashbury appeared to be populated by drug addicts, dropouts and “hypocrites”. Following his return to England two days later, Harrison completed work on “Blue Jay Way” at his home in Esher, and he shared his disillusionment about Haight-Ashbury with John Lennon. The Beatles then publicly denounced the popular hallucinogen LSD (or “acid”) and other drugs] in favor of Transcendental Meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, whose seminar in Bangor in Wales the band attended in late August. While noting Harrison’s role in “inspiring the West’s mainstream acquaintance with Hindu religion” through his leadership in this aspect of the Beatles’ career, author Ian MacDonald describes “Blue Jay Way” as a “farewell to psychedelia”, just as “It’s All Too Much”, which the Beatles recorded in May 1967, became Harrison’s “farewell to acid”.
Appearance in Magical Mystery Tour film: The song’s segment in Magical Mystery Tour was shot mainly at RAF West Malling, an air force base near Maidstone in Kent, during the week beginning on 19 September. Described by Womack as “the movie’s hazy, psychedelic sequence”, it features Harrison sitting on a pavement and playing a chalk-drawn keyboard. Dressed in a red suit, he is shown busking on a roadside; next to his keyboard are a white plastic cup and a message written in chalk, reading: “2 wives and kid to support”. The depiction of Harrison, seated cross-legged, matched his public image as the most committed of the Beatles to Transcendental Meditation and Eastern philosophy.
The filming took place in an aircraft hangar, with the scene designed to re-create a typically smog-ridden Los Angeles. Music journalist Kit O’Toole writes that the smoke surrounding Harrison “almost engulf[s] him, mimicking the ‘fog’ described in the lyrics”. Through the use of prismatic photography, the “Blue Jay Way” segment also shows Harrison’s “image refracted as if seen through a fly’s eye”, according to author Alan Clayson, who describes the scene as mirroring “the requisite misty atmosphere” suggested by the recording. In its preview of Magical Mystery Tour in 1967, the NME highlighted the segment as one of the film’s “extremely clever” musical sequences, saying: “For ‘Blue Jay Way’ George is seen sitting cross-legged in a sweating mist which materializes into a variety of shapes and patterns. It’s a pity that most TV viewers will be able to see it only in black and white.”
At other times during the sequence, the four Beatles alternate in the role of a solo cellist. These scenes were filmed on 3 November, on the rockery at Sunny Heights, Starr’s house in Weybridge, Surrey. Tony Barrow, the production manager for Magical Mystery Tour, recalls that, as “a colourful conclusion” to the segment, they set off fireworks that had been bought for the upcoming Guy Fawkes Night celebrations.
The reviews and criticisms of the song varied wildly. The first time I heard it I was like “Whoa, this is awful!” And I pretty much felt like these critics did: A critic of the Beatles’ output immediately post-Sgt. Pepper, Ian MacDonald found “Blue Jay Way” “as unfocused and monotonous as most of the group’s output of this period”, adding that the song “numbingly fails to transcend the weary boredom that inspired it”. Writing for Rolling Stone in 2002, Greg Kot considered it to be “one of [Harrison’s] least-memorable Beatles tracks … a song essentially about boredom – and it sounds like it”. Similarly unimpressed with Magical Mystery Tour, Tim Riley describes “Blue Jay Way” as a song that “goes nowhere tiresomely”, with a vocal that “sounds as tired and droning” as the musical accompaniment. Lol. But there are positive reviews and you can find them on Wikipedia.
AND THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS A WRAP!
We have come to the end of my Kaleidoscope of Color Songs Series. Thank you all for taking this colorful journey with me as we explored all my favorite songs with colors in the titles. I’ve had a wonderful time putting this all together and I sure hope you all have had fun with it too.
There is one little post left in this color series (I can already hear the shouts of “I knew it!” coming from the edges of the blogosphere…) but it won’t be for a while. I’ll let you know when it’s here but for now, I’m taking a break from colors.
Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by Marie of X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by Cathy of Curious as a Cathy and Stacy of Stacy Uncorked Two other co-hosts recently joined the fun: Alana of Ramlin’ with AM and Naila Moon of Musings & Merriment with Michelle. Be sure to stop by and visit the hosts and the other participants listed below: