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

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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!


 

 

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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!


Monday’s Music Moves Me – Kaleidoscope of Color Songs: The YELLOW Edition

Today’s Monday’s Music Moves Me theme is another “Freebie” meaning we can choose to do anything. I’m continuing my KALEIDOSCOPE OF COLOR SONGS SERIES featuring the color YELLOW. I’ve put together a playlist of my favorite songs with Yellow in the title, followed of course by some (hopefully) interesting information and trivia tidbits about each song. And then at the end is some cool info about the color Yellow. Enjoy!

 

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John – “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” is a ballad performed by musician Elton John. Lyrics for the song were written by Bernie Taupin and the music composed by John for his album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Its musical style and production were heavily influenced by 1970s soft rock. It was widely praised by critics, and some critics have named it Elton John’s best song.

The song was released in 1973 as the album’s second single, and entered the Top Ten in both the United Kingdom and the United States. It was one of John’s biggest hits, and surpassed the previous single, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”, in sales and popularity quickly following its release. In the US, it was certified Gold on January 4, 1974 and Platinum on September 13, 1995 by the RIAA.

The Yellow Brick Road is an image taken from the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. In the movie, Dorothy and her friends are instructed to follow the yellow brick road in search of the Wizard of Oz, only to find that they had what they were looking for all along. The road leads to the Emerald City in the Land of Oz, often referred to as a metaphor for “The road that leads to life’s fantasies” or “The road that leads to life’s answers.” The lyrics describe wanting to go back to a simpler existence after living what the narrator thought was the good life, but realizing they had simply been treated like a pet.

The Wizard of Oz was reportedly the first film that Elton John’s songwriting partner Bernie Taupin had ever seen, and he used the imagery in the lyrics relating to his own life as his desire to “get back to [his] roots”.

Bernie Taupin writes the lyrics to Elton’s songs. He often seems to write about Elton, but this one appears to be about him. The lyrics are about giving up a life of opulence for one of simplicity in a rural setting. Elton has enjoyed a very extravagant lifestyle, while Taupin prefers to keep it low key.

Speaking about the song, Taupin said:

“It’s funny, but there are songs that I recall writing as if it was yesterday. And then there are those I have absolutely no recollection of, whatsoever. In fact, I’d have to say that for the most part, if someone was to say that the entire Yellow Brick Road album was actually written by someone else, I might be inclined to believe them. I remember being there, just not physically creating.

There was a period when I was going through that whole “got to get back to my roots” thing, which spawned a lot of like-minded songs in the early days, this being one of them. I don’t believe I was ever turning my back on success or saying I didn’t want it. I just I don’t believe I was ever that naïve. I think I was just hoping that maybe there was a happy medium way to exist successfully in a more tranquil setting. My only naiveté, I guess, was believing I could do it so early on. I had to travel a long road and visit the school of hard knocks before I could come even close to achieving that goal. So, thank God I can say quite categorically that I am home.”

In Canada, the single reached No.1 on the RPM 100 national singles chart on December 22, 1973 and held the position for one week, making it John’s third No.1 in the year 1973 in that country (following “Crocodile Rock” and “Daniel”). In the US, it rose to No.7 and spent 18 weeks on the charts. In Ireland, it reached No. 4; in the UK it peaked at No. 6.

Elton John has always made a priority of playing live on stage as part his long-lasting career. He has played over 3000 concerts in over 75 countries around the world since 1970. In the U.S. he had toured in 49 of the 50 states, except Vermont. That changed in July 2008. In honor of his sold-out show, the local hippie ice cream heroes Ben & Jerry created a dedicated flavor to him. Here is a News excerpt from Rolling Stone’s July 15, 2008 issue:

To celebrate the first time Elton John has ever played the state of Vermont, native ice cream kings Ben & Jerry have concocted a new flavor dedicated to John called “Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road,” with all proceeds benefitting the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The ice cream is described as “an outrageous symphony of decadent chocolate ice cream, peanut butter cookie dough, butter brickle and white chocolate chunks.” We assumed “brickle” was just a made-up word to make a punny tie between the ice cream and John’s hit “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” but butter brickle is actually the stuff that Heath Bars are made of. “Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road” will be saying goodbye sooner rather than later, however, as the limited edition flavor will only be available in B&J’s Vermont Scoop Shops from July 18-25. Sir Elton joins Phish [“Phish Food”], Jerry Garcia [“Cherry Garcia”] and Dave Matthews [Dave Matthews Band Magic Brownies”] as musicians who have had a flavor dedicated to them.

The Vermont concert was on July 21, 2008 at the Essex Junction fairgrounds. Elton made a point of having some of the ice cream before the show. The flavor was only on sale for one week but have any of you ever had it?

FUN FACT #1: The song’s flip side is a song called “Screw You”, though the US release re-titled the song “Young Man’s Blues” so as not to offend American record buyers. (I don’t know about you but that wouldn’t have offended me. You??)

FUN FACT #2: Elton John’s One Night Only: The Greatest Hits Live at Madison Square Garden album had this song done as a duet with Billy Joel.

FUN FACT #3: Elton’s John’s vocal range is spectacular. Specific to this song, Ben Folds told Rolling Stone magazine for their 100 Greatest Singers of All Time issue: “He was mixing his falsetto and his chest voice to really fantastic effect in the ’70s. There’s that point in ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,’ where he sings, ‘on the grooound’ – his voice is all over the shop. It’s like jumping off a diving board when he did that.”

“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” is still regularly included in Elton John’s live performances, although since 1997 he has transposed the key of the song downward (from F major to E-flat major) due to no longer being able to sing its high falsetto chorus. It’s hell getting old…

Earlier this year, Elton John announced his farewell tour with a title that plays off this song: “Farewell Yellow Brick Road”. It’s almost like it’s the end of an era…

Mellow Yellow by Donovan – “Mellow Yellow” is a song written and recorded by Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan. It reached No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1966 and No. 8 in the UK in early 1967.

Donovan set out to capture the mellow vibe of the ’60s with this song, adding what he called “cool, groovy phrases.” These phrases were interpreted in ways he never imagined, as people came up with lots of ideas as to what the song meant. Most of these interpretations concerned drugs, but there were even rumors that the song was about abortion.

There is certainly a drug influence on this song, but it’s about much more than that. In his Songfacts interview, Donovan said: “To be ‘mellow’ is to be cool, to be laid back, but it doesn’t have to be with a smoke. It can be through meditation. And it was meditation that became more serious for The Beatles and me, and presenting that in our music.”

The song was rumored to be about smoking dried banana skins, which was believed to be a hallucinogenic drug in the 1960s, though this aspect of bananas has since been debunked. According to Donovan’s notes, accompanying the album Donovan’s Greatest Hits, the rumor that one could get high from smoking dried banana skins was started by Country Joe McDonald in 1966, and Donovan heard the rumor three weeks before “Mellow Yellow” was released as a single. Here’s the real deal: According to The Rolling Stone Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, he admitted later the song made reference to a vibrator; an “electrical banana” as mentioned in the lyrics.

This definition was re-affirmed in an interview with NME magazine: In an interview with the June 18, 2011 edition of the NME, Donovan was asked what the song was actually about. He replied: “Quite a few things. Being mellow, laid-back, chilled out. ‘They call me Mellow Yellow, I’m the guy who can calm you down.’ [John] Lennon and I used to look in the back of newspapers and pull out funny things and they’d end up in songs. So it’s about being cool, laid-back, and also the electrical bananas that were appearing on the scene – which were ladies vibrators.”

FUN FACT #1: (As if “Mellow Yellow” being about vibrators wasn’t fun enough…) Paul McCartney dropped by the session and was captured on tape saying “Mellow Yellow” and doing some cheering. His voice is likely somewhere in the mix at the end of the song amid the revelry. The “quite rightly” whispering answering lines in the chorus is not McCartney, as rumored, but rather Donovan himself. Also McCartney played bass guitar (uncredited) on portions of Donovan’s Mellow Yellow album.

Donovan had recently helped out McCartney on another “Yellow” song: He provided the “sky of blue, sea of green” line in “Yellow Submarine.” Both songs hit #2 US in 1966.

FUN FACT #2: The song was used in a popular 1999 commercial for The Gap titled “Everybody in Cords,” promoting their corduroy pants, which come in shades of saffron and yellow.

It was also used in a 1987 commercial for a product called Butter It, which is a “liquid butter alternative.” In that one, the song was altered, with the line “quite rightly” changed to “just butter it.” Here are a few of the spots, three :30s and one :15 second spot.

Donovan pushed to get his songs in as many commercials as he could, since it was great exposure for them and a nice source of income. How he felt about a liquid butter alternative was immaterial.

(In case you’ve ever wondered why I include so many commercials in my posts it’s because I spent most of my career in advertising and sometimes I just really dig fun and clever ads; and even though I record all my favorite television shows on my DVRs so I can fast-forward and blast through all the commercials, I do appreciate what goes into them, from the idea conception to the copywriting to the production and the post-production. I hope you like seeing some of these commercials too).

Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree by Tony Orlando & Dawn – “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” is a song by ‘Dawn featuring Tony Orlando’ (Dawn was comprised of Motown/Stax backing vocalist Telma Hopkins, Joyce Vincent Wilson and her sister Pamela Vincent on backing vocals). It was a worldwide hit for the group in 1973.

SONG SUCCESS: ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree” won Favorite Pop/Rock Single at the first annual American Music Awards in 1974. The song also got two Grammy nominations: Song of the Year and Best Pop Group Performance. When the trio performed the song at the ceremony in March 1974, they got the attention of Fred Silverman at CBS, who gave them a summer variety series called Tony Orlando and Dawn, which began airing in July. They stayed on the air for three seasons, during which time the group charted more hits, including another #1, “He Don’t Love You (Like I Love You).”

The song charted internationally: The single reached the top 10 in ten countries, and in eight of those countries it topped the charts at Number One. It reached number one on both the US and UK charts for four weeks in April 1973, number one on the Australian charts for seven weeks from May to July 1973 and number one on the New Zealand charts for ten weeks from June to August 1973. It was the top-selling single in 1973 in both the US and UK.

Origins of the Song: This song was written by Irwin Levine and Larry Brown (credited as L. Russell Brown), who also wrote the previous #1 hit for the group, “Knock Three Times.” The song is based on a story called “Going Home” that Levine read in the January 1972 edition of the magazine Reader’s Digest. The story was originally published in the New York Post on October 14, 1971, appearing in a column called “The Eight Million” written by Pete Hamill.

This is NOT the story of a convict who had told his love to tie a ribbon book to a tree outside of town. I know because I wrote the song one morning in 15 minutes with the late lyrical genius Irwin Levine. The genesis of this idea came from the age old folk tale about a Union prisoner of war–who sent a letter to his girl that he was coming home from a confederate POW camp in Georgia…. Anything about a criminal is pure fantasy….

— L. Russell Brown

Some erroneously claim the song is about an ex-con coming home, probably due to the story which inspired a part of the song: In October 1971, newspaper columnist Pete Hamill wrote a piece for the New York Post called “Going Home”. In it, he told a variant of the Union soldier story, in which college students on a bus trip to the beaches of Fort Lauderdale make friends with an ex-convict who is watching for a yellow handkerchief on a roadside oak in Brunswick, Georgia. Hamill claimed to have heard this story in oral tradition. In June 1972, nine months later, Reader’s Digest reprinted “Going Home”. Also in June 1972, ABC-TV aired a dramatized version of it in which James Earl Jones played the role of the returning ex-con.

According to L. Russell Brown, he read Hamill’s story in the Reader’s Digest, and suggested to his songwriting partner Irwin Levine that they write a song based on it. Levine and Brown then registered for copyright the song which they called “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree”. At the time, the writers said they heard the story while serving in the military. Pete Hamill was not convinced and filed suit for infringement. Hamill dropped his suit after folklorists working for Levine and Brown turned up archival versions of the story that had been collected before “Going Home” had been written.

RIBBONS: The origin of the idea of a yellow ribbon as remembrance may have been the 19th-century practice that some women allegedly had of wearing a yellow ribbon in their hair to signify their devotion to a husband or sweetheart serving in the U.S. Cavalry. The song “‘Round Her Neck She Wears a Yeller Ribbon”, which later inspired the John Wayne movie She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, is a reference to this. The symbol of a yellow ribbon became widely known in civilian life in the 1970s as a reminder that an absent loved one, either in the military or in jail, would be welcomed home on their return.

The yellow ribbons appeared again in 1980 when Americans put them on trees to remember the hostages being held in Iran. The song had renewed popularity in 1981, in the wake of the Iranian hostage crisis.

Ten years later, a group called Visual AIDS convinced people attending the Tony Awards to wear small red ribbons as a symbol of AIDS awareness. Soon, many causes produced ribbons with different colors to raise money and awareness. In 2004, the trend extended to rubber bracelets when cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong worked with Nike to promote yellow bracelets labeled “Livestrong” that raised money for cancer research.

FUN FACT #1: In 1977, a Japanese movie called The Yellow Handkerchief was released, based on the same newspaper story this song was based upon. The film was remade in English in 2008, with William Hurt playing the convict returning home.

FUN FACT #2: Levine and Brown first offered the song to Ringo Starr, but Al Steckler of Apple Records told them that they should be ashamed of the song and described it as “ridiculous”.

Yellow Submarine by the Beatles – “Yellow Submarine” is a 1966 song by the Beatles, written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, with lead vocals by Ringo Starr. It was included on the Revolver (1966) album and issued as a single, coupled with “Eleanor Rigby.” “Yellow Submarine” was the B side to “Eleanor Rigby.” The single went to number one on every major British chart, remained at number one for four weeks, and charted for 13 weeks. It won an Ivor Novello Award “for the highest certified sales of any single issued in the UK in 1966”. In the US, the song peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became the most successful Beatles song to feature Ringo Starr as lead vocalist.

Paul McCartney wrote the majority of this song. He explained shortly after it was released in 1966: “‘Yellow Submarine’ is very simple but very different. It’s a fun song, a children’s song. Originally we intended it to be ‘Sparky’ a children’s record. But now it’s the idea of a yellow submarine where all the kids went to have fun. I was just going to sleep one night and thinking if we had a children’s song, it would be nice to be on a yellow submarine where all your friends are with a band.”

Paul purposely used short words in the lyrics because he wanted kids to pick it up early and sing along.

Ringo sang lead, as he did on many of the lighter Beatles songs, including “Octopus’s Garden” and “Act Naturally.” Originally, Ringo had a spoken intro to go with the children’s story theme, but this was discarded. Ringo did eventually get his chance to narrate for children: he was voice talent on the UK cartoon Thomas the Tank Engine.

Although intended as a nonsense song for children, “Yellow Submarine” received various social and political interpretations at the time. Some people felt this song had deeper meaning about drugs or war, and it was often sung at protests and other rallies as a symbol of unity. The Beatles insisted there was no subtext, but they were used to people reading too much into their songs. On The White Album, there is a song called “Glass Onion” that addresses this issue. (John Lennon used meaningless lyrics to confuse people who were reading too much into his songs. He got a kick out of people trying to analyze his lyrics. Paul McCartney had the original idea for writing a song that had a poke at all those who read too much into the Beatles lyrics; that became “Glass Onion.”)

As with just about every Beatles song, there’s a lot that can be read into this one if you look hard enough. One possible interpretation: Once famous, The Beatles were forced to stay in hotel rooms and live under pressure = Submarine. Because they were having a great time it was Yellow (friends are all aboard). Sea of green = money.

However, McCartney said: “It’s a happy place, that’s all. You know, it was just … We were trying to write a children’s song. That was the basic idea. And there’s nothing more to be read into it than there is in the lyrics of any children’s song.”

The sounds of bubbles, water, and other noises were recorded in the studio. The background vocals (and some effects) were done by John, Paul, and George and they had some help on the fadeout chorus by Mal Evans, Neil Aspinall, George Martin, Alf Bicknell (their chauffeur), Geoff Emerick, Brian Jones, Marianne Faithful, Pattie Harrison and a few other staff people that were in the building at the time. The “bubble” effects are John blowing into a straw. All of the speaking parts are done by John and Paul.

The famous folk singer and Scottish musician Donovan, who was McCartney’s friend and neighbor at the time, made a key contribution to this song, coming up with the line “Sky of blue, sea of green.” He likely also recorded backing vocals in the chorus.

After he got the idea for the song, Paul McCartney dropped by Donovan’s place and asked him for suggestions in hashing out a verse. In our interview with Donovan, he explained: “He already had those words to the song, but he seemed to have a hole in the song. So I took his words and turned them around for him.”

This line is Donovan’s best-known contribution to a Beatles song, as it’s the most concrete, but it was simply adding a line; he takes more pride in other Beatles songs he influenced on their shared musical journey. In February 1968, he joined the Beatles on their retreat to India, where he taught McCartney and Lennon the “clawhammer” guitar technique, where the picking hand strikes the strings in a downward motion with the back of the nail. McCartney used this technique on “Blackbird,” and Lennon used it on “Dear Prudence.” He also helped Lennon with another song written in India, “Julia,” which John wrote about his mother.

After The Beatles recorded this song, Donovan recorded his own “yellow” track: “Mellow Yellow.” Paul McCartney came by that session and was recorded hollering, which was likely used in the cheering at the end of the song.

These colorful songs had similar success in America: “Yellow Submarine” hit #2 in September 1966, and in December, “Mellow Yellow” reached that same chart position.

According to Steve Turner’s book A Hard Day’s Write, about a month after the album was released, there were barbiturate capsules that started to be known as “yellow submarines.” McCartney denied any comparison to drugs and said the only submarine he knew that you could eat was a sugary sweet he’s come across in Greece while on holiday. These had to be dropped in water and were known as “submarines.”

The song also inspired a fun film. It became the title song of the 1968 animated United Artists film, also called Yellow Submarine, and the soundtrack album to the film, released as part of the Beatles’ music catalogue. The film featured cartoon avatars of the Beatles. The group had a lot going on at the time, so actors were brought in to voice their lines. In the film, The Beatles try to save Pepperland from the Blue Meanies, who hate music. (I won’t spoil it by telling you how it ends).

The photographic scenes shown in the movie Yellow Submarine are of well-known locations in England, including Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. An orchestral reprise to the song arranged by George Martin titled “Yellow Submarine in Pepperland” is featured at the end of the film and its soundtrack.

FUN FACT: Spanish premier division soccer team Villareal is nicknamed “Los Submarinos Amarillos” (Spanish for “Yellow Submarine”) because of their yellow uniforms.

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Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini by Brian Hyland – “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” is a novelty song telling the story of a shy girl wearing a revealing polka dot bikini at the beach. It was written by Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss and first released in June 1959 by Brian Hyland with orchestra conducted by John Dixon. Vance was inspired after watching his 2-year-old daughter Paula at the beach in her new bikini. Brian Hyland was a 16-year-old high school sophomore at the time of this recording.

The story told through the three verses of the song is as follows: (1) the young lady is too afraid to leave the locker where she has changed into her bikini; (2) she has made it to the beach but sits on the sand wrapped in a blanket; and (3) she has finally gone into the ocean, but is too afraid to come out, and stays immersed in the water – despite the fact that she’s “turning blue” – to hide herself from view. Trudy Packer recited the phrases “…two, three, four / Tell the people what she wore”, heard at the end of each verse before the chorus; and “Stick around, we’ll tell you more”, heard after the first chorus and before the start of the second verse.

Hyland’s version hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on August 8, 1960 and also made the top 10 in other countries, including #8 on the UK Singles Chart. It also reached #1 in New Zealand.

In 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, Brian Hyland says:

“Paul Vance and Lee Pockriss had shown this song to a lot of singers but no one wanted to do it. Kapp (the owner of Brian’s record label) thought it was right for me and got really excited about it. It was a number one in America which meant that I could stop riding on the subway and buy some Martin guitars.”

The song had tremendous historical impact: At a time when bikini bathing suits were still seen as too risqué to be mainstream, the song prompted a sudden take off in bikini sales and is credited as being one of the earliest contributors to the acceptance of the bikini in society. The early 1960s saw a slew of surf movies and other film and television productions that rapidly built on the song’s momentum.

This song was used in a prominent ad campaign in 2006 by Yoplait Light yogurt in a series of commercials showing a woman trying to lose weight in order to fit into her “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.”

 

That’s it for the music portion of our program. Now onto some color definition:

WHAT IS YELLOW??

As promised, the following is some interesting beliefs about the color yellow. Part of the Color Meaning Blog Series presented by Jennifer Bourn of Bourn Creative.

The Meaning of the Color Yellow

Yellow, the color of sunshine, hope, and happiness, has conflicting associations. On one hand yellow stands for freshness, happiness, positivity, clarity, energy, optimism, enlightenment, remembrance, intellect, honor, loyalty, and joy, but on the other, it represents cowardice and deceit. A dull or dingy yellow may represent caution, sickness, and jealousy.

Studies show that the meaning of the color yellow can be warmth, cheerfulness, increased mental activity, increased muscle energy. The color yellow helps activate the memory, encourage communication, enhance vision, build confidence, and stimulate the nervous system.

Bright yellow is an attention getting color, and when used in combination with black, is creates one of the easiest color combinations to read and see from long distances. This is why school buses, taxi cabs, and traffic signs are painted yellow and black.

The color yellow is a spontaneous and unstable color. It is often associated with food and is highly used in children’s products and marketing advertisements aimed at children. Perceived as a childish color by men, yellow is not a color that should be used when marketing products to prestigious or wealthy men.

If yellow is overused, it can have a disturbing effect. For example, it is a proven fact that babies cry more in rooms painted yellow. Too much yellow causes loss of focus and makes it hard to complete a task. Too much yellow also can cause people to become critical and demanding. Too little yellow causes feelings of isolation and fear, insecurity, and low self-esteem. A lack of yellow can cause one to become rigid, cunning, possessive, or defensive.

Yellow gemstones are believed to aid in clarity for decision-making, boost concentration, increase energy, and offer relief from burnout, panic, nervousness, or exhaustion.

In different cultures yellow has different meanings. In some cultures, yellow represents peace. In Egypt yellow was worn to signify the dead. In Japan, yellow stands for courage. In India, yellow is the color of the merchants.

Other meanings associated with the color yellow:

  • Traditionally, yellow ribbons were worn as a sign of hope as women waited for their men to come home from war. Today, yellow ribbons are still used to welcome homes loved ones.
  • Calling someone “yellow” or “yellow-bellied” is the same as calling them a coward.
  • The term “mellow yellow” stands for laid-back and relaxation.
  • The phrase “yellow journalism” is in reference to bad or irresponsible reporting.

Additional words that represent different shades, tints, and values of the color yellow: Lemon, yellow ocher, golden, saffron, cream, mustard, mellow yellow.

* * * * * 

That’s it for my Yellow Songs edition. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Please tell me what your favorite yellow song is, either from those presented here or some other yellow song — there are quite a few!

 

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.

 

Mondays’ Music Moves Me: A Kaleidoscope of Color Songs – the PURPLE edition

It’s Monday’s Music Moves Me time and today is a Freebie theme so I am continuing with my series A Kaleidoscope of Color Songs. Today’s playlist is the PURPLE edition, featuring my favorite songs with purple in the title. Here is my Purple playlist, followed by information and fun facts on each of the songs. And to learn what the color purple means, see the color interpretation at the end of the post. Enjoy!

Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix – “Purple Haze” is a song written by Jimi Hendrix and released as the second record single by the Jimi Hendrix Experience on March 17, 1967. As a record chart hit in several countries and the opening number on the Are You Experienced debut American album, it was many people’s first exposure to Hendrix’s psychedelic rock sound.

The song features his inventive guitar playing, which uses the signature Hendrix chord and a mix of blues and Eastern modalities, shaped by novel sound processing techniques. Because of ambiguities in the lyrics, listeners often interpret the song as referring to a psychedelic experience, although Hendrix described it as a love song.

Hendrix claimed this was inspired by a dream where he was walking under the sea. In the dream, he said a purple haze surrounded him, engulfed him and got him lost. It was a traumatic experience, but in his dream his faith in Jesus saved him. At one point, Hendrix wrote the chorus as “Purple Haze, Jesus Saves,” but decided against it.

Hendrix claimed this had nothing to do with drugs, but it’s hard to believe they weren’t an influence. The lyrics seem to vividly portray an acid trip, and Hendrix was doing plenty of drugs at the time.

Hendrix wrote the lyrics on the day after Christmas in 1966. He wrote a lot more than what made it to the song. The track was developed at a press function that he attended at East London’s Upper Cut Club, run by the former boxer Billy Walker. Hendrix launched into the scorching riff in the club’s compact dressing room and every head turned. “I said, write the rest of that,” said Chandler. “That’s the next single!” It was premiered live on January 8,1967, in Sheffield in the north of England.

Jimi and producer Chas Chandler used some unusual studio tricks to get the unique sound. To create the background track that sounds distant, they put a pair of headphones around a microphone and recorded it that way to get an echo effect.

When the recording was sent to Hendrix’s American label, a note said, “deliberate distortion, do not correct.”

The track was the penultimate song Hendrix played in concert, on September 6, 1970, days before his death.

In March 2005, Q magazine ranked “Purple Haze” at number one in its list of the “100 Greatest Guitar Tracks Ever!” The song placed at number two on Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time” list, which noted that the song “unveiled a new guitar language charged with spiritual hunger and the poetry possible in electricity and studio technology”. It also appears at number 17 on the magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list, with the comment that “it launched not one but two revolutions: late-Sixities psychedelia and the unprecedented genius of Jimi Hendrix”. Author and music critic Dave Marsh called it the “debut single of the Album Rock Era”. In 1995, “Purple Haze” was included as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”. NPR named the song to its list of the “100 Most Important American Musical Works of the 20th Century” in 2000. In 2008, it was given a Grammy Hall of Fame Award, which “honor[s] recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance”.

In addition to the audio cut I included in my playlist, here is an early music video of Jimi Hendrix performing “Purple Haze”.

Purple Rain by Prince – “Purple Rain” is a song by Prince and The Revolution. It is the title track from the 1984 album of the same name, which in turn is the soundtrack album for the 1984 film of the same name, and was released as the third single from that album. The song is a combination of rock, R&B, gospel, and orchestral music. It reached number 2 in the United States for two weeks, and it is considered to be one of Prince’s signature songs. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1984, shipping one million units in the United States, and was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry in 2013.

Following Prince’s death in 2016, the song rose to number one on the US and UK iTunes Charts, allowing “Purple Rain” to re-enter the Billboard Hot 100 at number 17, later reaching number four. It also re-entered the UK Singles Chart at number 6, making it two places higher than its original peak of number 8. Originally peaking at number 12 in France, “Purple Rain” reached number one on the national singles chart. In the United States, it has sold an additional 1,186,215 copies after becoming available as digital downloads.

“Purple Rain” was originally written as a country song and intended to be a collaboration with Stevie Nicks.  According to Nicks, she received a 10-minute instrumental version of the song from Prince with a request to write the lyrics, but felt overwhelmed. She said: “I listened to it and I just got scared. I called him back and said, ‘I can’t do it. I wish I could. It’s too much for me.'” At a rehearsal, Prince then asked his backing band to try the song: “I want to try something before we go home. It’s mellow.” According to Lisa Coleman, Prince then changed the song after Wendy Melvoin started playing guitar chords to accompany the song: “He was excited to hear it voiced differently. It took it out of that country feeling. Then we all started playing it a bit harder and taking it more seriously. We played it for six hours straight and by the end of that day we had it mostly written and arranged.”

Prince explained the meaning of “Purple Rain” as follows: “When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple… purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god guide you through the purple rain.”

It was not the first time that the phrase “purple rain” appeared in the lyrics of a song. In November 1965, “Purple Rain Drops” was released as the B-side of “Uptight (Everything’s Alright),” which became a Top Ten hit for Stevie Wonder. The phrase appears again in the 1972 song: Top Ten-charting “Ventura Highway” by America. The latter song was written by Dewey Bunnell. The title track of Prince’s preceding album, 1999, included similar references to a doomed ending under a purple sky (“…could have sworn it was Judgment Day, the sky was all purple…”).

The song was written for the Purple Rain film, but it served Prince very well in concert, where it was often his showstopper. He retained many of the visual elements from the movie performance in his shows, which isn’t much of a stretch – the concert scenes were filmed at the First Avenue nightclub in Minneapolis, where Prince often performed.

On the tour to promote the album (conveniently called the “Purple Rain World Tour”), Prince’s band, The Revolution, would play the intro to this song for about eight minutes while Prince underwent a costume change before emerging in fresh duds to complete the performance.

Apparently Prince had concerns that “Purple Rain” might be too similar to Journey’s hit ballad “Faithfully.” The song’s composer, Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain, recalled to Billboard magazine that the Purple Legend rang him up at Columbia Records’ office in Los Angeles. “I want to play something for you, and I want you to check it out,” Prince told him. “The chord changes are close to ‘Faithfully,’ and I don’t want you to sue me.”

Cain had no problem with the song he heard. “I thought it was an amazing tune,” the Journey musician said. “I told him, ‘Man, I’m just super-flattered that you even called. It shows you’re that classy of a guy. Good luck with the song. I know it’s gonna be a hit.'”

Prince provided one of the most memorable Super Bowl halftime moments when he performed this song in the rain at the 2007 game between the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears. After blasting through bits of several songs, he slowed things down for a sensuous rendition of “Purple Rain.” The stadium turned dark, and purple lights glistened through raindrops as Prince enraptured the crowd with a silhouetted guitar solo that produced a stunning visual. Colts fans will remember the game, but for the rest of us, Prince’s performance on the field was the highlight.

Prince admitted the success of the film and its music was overwhelming. “In some ways Purple Rain scared me,” he noted in The Observer. “It’s my albatross and it’ll be hanging around my neck as long as I’m making music.”

This was the last song Prince played live; it was the closing number at his April 14, 2016 concert at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, which was his last, as he died a week later.

Purple Heather by Van Morrison – “Purple Heather” is from Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison’s seventh studio album Hard Nose the Highway, released in 1973.

It is Morrison’s second solo album to contain songs not written by him. The last song on the album, “Purple Heather” is the traditional “Wild Mountain Thyme” written by F. McPeake as a variant of Robert Tannahill’s “The Braes of Balquhidder”, and re-arranged by Morrison.

“Wild Mountain Thyme” (also known as “Purple Heather” and “Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?”) is a Scottish folk song written by Francis McPeake I, who wrote the song for his wife. Francis McPeake is a member of a well-known musical family in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The lyrics and melody are a variant of the song “The Braes of Balquhither” by Scottish poet Robert Tannahill (1774–1810). Tannahill’s original song is about the hills (braes) around Balquhidder near the Scottish village Lochearnhead. It was first published in Robert Archibald Smith’s Scottish Minstrel (1821–24).

Unless you’re a fan of Van Morrison, you probably haven’t heard this song. His Hard Nose the Highway album, on which “Purple Heather” appears, didn’t get great critical reception. According to Ritchie Yorke, the Australian-born author and music journalist who published Morrison’s biography, Into the Music in 1975, the album enjoyed rave reviews at the time of release. He cited one dissenting critic Charlie Gillett, who wrote in Let It Rock: “The trouble with Hard Nose the Highway is that although the music is quite often interesting, it doesn’t have a convincing emotional basis…Despite the lack of inspiration and of melodic focus, the record is attractive to listen to. But Van Morrison has set high standards for himself and Hard Nose the Highway doesn’t live up to them.”

Stephen Holden in his 1973 Rolling Stone review said: “Hard Nose the Highway is psychologically complex, musically somewhat uneven and lyrically excellent. Its surface pleasures are a little less than those of St. Dominic’s Preview and a great deal less than those of Tupelo Honey, while its lyric depths are richer and more accessible than those of either predecessor. The major theme of Hard Nose is nostalgia, briefly but firmly counter-pointed by disillusion.”

Later assessments in The Rolling Stone Record Guide (1979) and The Rolling Stone Album Guide (1992) were less generous. In the former, Hard Nose was listed as Morrison’s only one-star album to date; reviewer Dave Marsh called it “a failed sidestep, a compromise between the visionary demands of Morrison’s work and his desire for a broad-based audience.” In the later edition, Paul Evans called the record the “vaguest and weakest” of Morrison’s 1970s output.

In the opinion of biographer Erik Hage, “Hard Nose the Highway seems to have suffered a lot of unnecessary criticism—many commentators consider it his worst and most uninspired album—perhaps because it followed such a remarkable run of LPs, and because two truly forward-thinking albums had come before and after it (1972’s Saint Dominic’s Preview and 1974’s Veedon Fleece).”

Even so, I really like the song. Hopefully you all will too. (BTW, Rod Stewart also did a cover of this song).

Purple Sky by Kid Rock – “Purple Sky” is from Born Free, the eighth studio album by American musician Kid Rock. It was released on November 16, 2010 with the title track as its lead single. Unlike Rock’s other albums, this album does not contain any profane lyrics. Imagine that!

The album was produced by Rick Rubin featuring several high-profile artists such as T.I., Sheryl Crow, and Bob Seger. This is Kid Rock’s first album not to receive a Parental Advisory sticker (due to its lack of profanity) and is his first all-country album. Kid Rock describes it as “very organic blues-based rock and roll”.

“Purple Sky” was written by R. J. Ritchie, Marlon Young and Jason Boland. The song is an adaptation of “Telephone Romeo,” a track from Pearl Snaps, a 1999 Country album by Jason Boland & the Stragglers. Kid Rock explained to Billboard magazine: “That was started by Jason Boland, a country singer Oklahoma/Texas guy. I always enjoyed his stuff. I found that song, it was called ‘Telephone Romeo,’ it wasn’t quite there yet. I switched it around and made it about what I perceived to be a relationship about the girl you grow up next door to, she’s really the one you’re supposed to be with, but you’ve got to go out and see it all first yet to realize that.”

Purple People Eater novelty song – “The Purple People Eater” is a novelty song written and performed by Sheb Wooley, which reached no. 1 in the Billboard pop charts in 1958 from June 9 to July 14, reached no. 12 overall in the UK singles chart and topped the Australian charts.

“The Purple People Eater” is the novelty song to end all novelty songs. It’s one of the few rare cases where a pure novelty made it to #1 on the charts, for one thing. It’s also unusually long-lived, popping up again and again in cartoons, TV commercials, YouTube videos, and film soundtracks.

The song is notable for a confused impression people tend to get from it, which may be intentional. The creature’s full description is “a one-eyed, one-horned, flying, purple people eater,” but the lyrics make it clear that this is a creature who eats purple people. Yet whenever anyone is asked to depict the figure, they invariably make the creature itself purple, suggesting that it will eat people of any old color. It’s a natural impression to get considering the hail of adjectives. Incidentally, we also know that it isn’t a one-eyed creature who eats “one-horned flying purple people,” because the lyrics also have the creature “playing rock ‘n’ roll music through the horn in his head,” and also it is the creature, itself, who flies because the lyrics say it “came down to Earth and lit in a tree.”

“The Purple People Eater” tells how a strange creature (described as a “one-eyed, one-horned, flying, purple people eater”) descends to Earth because it wants to be in a rock ‘n’ roll band. The premise of the song came from a joke told by the child of a friend of Wooley’s; Wooley finished composing it within an hour.

The creature is not necessarily purple, but rather it eats purple people:

I said Mr Purple People Eater, what’s your line?

He said eating purple people, and it sure is fine

But that’s not the reason that I came to land

I wanna get a job in a rock ‘n roll band

The creature also gives an additional reason for choosing not to eat the narrator, because the narrator is “so tough”.

The ambiguity of the song was present when it was originally played on the radio. In responses to requests from radio disc jockeys, listeners drew pictures that show a purple-colored “people eater”.

The voice of the purple people eater is a sped-up recording, giving it a voice similar to, but not quite as high-pitched or as fast, as Mike Sammes’s 1957 “Pinky and Perky”, or Ross Bagdasarian’s “Witch Doctor”, another hit from earlier in 1958; and “The Chipmunk Song” which was released late in 1958. (The Chipmunks themselves eventually covered “Purple People Eater” for their 1998 album The A-Files: Alien Songs.) The same technique used to make the high voices (speeding up the recording – especially successful for The Chipmunks), is also used to produce the tinny sounding saxophone solo at the end.

The song shouts out to current novelty hits of the time, such as The Royal Teens’ “Short Shorts” and The Champs’ “Tequila” (both from 1958). Apparently, the creature is also a fan of Little Richard, as he sings something resembling “Tutti Frutti”(from 1955) about 1:30 in.

According to Wooley, MGM Records initially rejected the song, saying that it was not the type of music with which they wanted to be identified. An acetate of the song reached MGM Records’ New York office. The acetate became popular with the office’s young people. Up to 50 people would listen to the song at lunchtime. The front office noticed, reconsidered their decision, and decided to release the song.

The Sheb Wooley version crossed to the Billboard R&B listings, and while it did not make Billboard’s country chart, it reached #4 on the Cashbox country listing.

Wooley re-recorded the song in 1979 under the title “Purple People Eater” and it was released on the King label.

The song and character were used as the basis for the Disney Channel film in 1988. In Purple People Eater, a young boy plays the song and accidentally summons the creature itself, who then befriends him on an adventure. Neil Patrick Harris plays the boy, who later went on to play Doogie Howser M.D. The cast also includes Ned Beatty, Shelley Winters, Thora Birch, Little Richard, Chubby Checker and Wooley himself.

Deep Purple by Donnie & Marie Osmond – “Deep Purple” was the biggest hit written by pianist Peter DeRose*, who broadcast, 1923 to 1939, with May Singhi as “The Sweethearts of the Air” on the NBC radio network. “Deep Purple” was published in 1933 as a piano composition. The following year, Paul Whiteman had it scored for his suave “big band” orchestra that was “making a lady out of jazz” in Whiteman’s phrase. “Deep Purple” became so popular in sheet music sales that Mitchell Parish added lyrics in 1938.

The second most popular version, which hit number one on the U.S. pop charts (the 100th song to do so) in November 1963 and also won that year’s Grammy Award for Best Rock and Roll Record, was recorded by Nino Tempo & April Stevens (who are brother and sister). It remained in the Top 40 for twelve weeks and was #1 on the Hot 100 the week before John F. Kennedy was assassinated. This version of the song is notable for April Stevens’ speaking the lyrics in a low and sweet voice during the second half of the song while her brother sings. According to the Billboard Book of Number One Hits by Fred Bronson, when the duo first recorded the song as a demo, Tempo forgot the words, and Stevens spoke the lyrics to the song to remind him. The record’s producers thought Stevens’ spoken interludes were “cute” and should be included on the finished product, but according to Stevens, her brother was not as easily convinced: “He didn’t want anyone talking while he was singing!”

Another brother-and-sister team (and the one that is featured in my playlist), Donny and Marie Osmond, revived “Deep Purple” in 1975 and took it into the Top 20 on the U.S. and Canadian pop charts. It peaked at #14 in March 1976 on the Billboard Hot 100, with Marie intoning the balmy lyrics during the break as April Stevens had done in the version with Nino Tempo.

Donny and Marie’s “Deep Purple” was a yet bigger Adult Contemporary hit. It peaked at number eight on both the U.S. and Canadian charts. The song spent 23 weeks on the pop chart, far longer than any other song by the Osmond family. “Deep Purple” is ranked as the 42nd biggest U.S. hit of 1976.

FUN FACT: *The British rock band Deep Purple got their name from Pete DeRose’s hit as it was the favorite song of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore’s grandmother; she would also play the song on piano.

 

That’s it for the PURPLE edition in my Kaleidoscope of Color Songs series. Are you a purple fan? Do you know what the color purple means? According to Bourn Creative’s Color Meaning Blog Series:

Purple combines the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red. The color purple is often associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, power, and ambition. Purple also represents meanings of wealth, extravagance, creativity, wisdom, dignity, grandeur, devotion, peace, pride, mystery, independence, and magic.

The color purple is a rare occurring color in nature and as a result is often seen as having sacred meaning. Lavender, orchid, lilac, and violet flowers are considered delicate and precious.

The color purple has a variety of effects on the mind and body, including uplifting spirits, calming the mind and nerves, enhancing the sacred, creating feelings of spirituality, increasing nurturing tendencies and sensitivity, and encouraging imagination and creativity.

Purple is associated spirituality, the sacred, higher self, passion, third eye, fulfillment, and vitality. Purple helps align oneself with the whole of the universe.

 

What do you think of the color? What is your favorite purple song? Please let me know in the Comments section. Thanks for coming by today. Stay tuned for the next installment of my Kaleidoscope of Color Songs series in two weeks.

 

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.