R is for Rare Earth, Rolling Stones, REO Speedwagon, R.E.M., Rush, Ratt, Robert Palmer, Rainbow, Rod Stewart, Robin Trower, Ringo Starr, the Romantics, Rockwell, Rick James and Red Rider


Welcome to the A-Z Musical Tour of My Life! I have wanted to put something like this together for a long time now and the A-Z Challenge just seemed like the perfect opportunity. I’ve compiled stories, trivia, research, music videos and live concert footage on all the bands and musical artists who have been important to me over the years, especially during my youthful years in the 60s and 70s. At first glance, the posts may seem long – and some of them are due to the number of videos included – but it’s really laid out in a way that will enable you to scroll through and read, see or hear just what you want and then either move on to the next A-Zer or linger and listen to the great music that you’ll find here. By all means, bookmark my blog so you can come back! In addition to individual songs, there are some full albums here for those who may want to enjoy some music while they’re surfing or working. I hope you find that the stories are entertaining, the information educational and the trivia interesting. It would be a tremendous honor if you would bookmark the A-Z Musical Tour of My Life as a resource for great music and music information! Now, let’s get started with…

R is for Rare Earth – An American Blues/Rock band who saw it primary success during the early 70s. “The band was one of the first acts signed to a new Motown imprint that would be dedicated to white rock acts. The record company did not have a name for the new label yet and the band jokingly suggested Motown call the label “Rare Earth.” To the band’s surprise, Motown decided to do just that!…

“Rare Earth had a number of Top 40 hits in the 1970–71 period, including covers of The Temptations’ “(I Know) I’m Losing You” and “Get Ready”. Both were more successful than The Temptations’ originals, with “Get Ready” being their biggest hit, peaking at number four on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart….Other hits in 1971 were “I Just Want to Celebrate”, which peaked at #7 on the pop charts, and “Hey, Big Brother”, which peaked at #19. They did not chart significantly after 1971. Nevertheless the band continued to record into the 1990s.” (Source: Wikipedia)

I Just Want to Celebrate – Live on the Midnight Special

Get Ready – Live in 1973

(I Know) I’m Losing You – Rare Earth’s cover of the Temptations hit. Interesting tidbit: Motown was Rare Earth’s recording label (as” Motown’s Rare Earth,” named after the band) and although Rare Earth wasn’t the only white band signed to the label, they were the only big hit-making act signed by Motown that consisted only of white members.

Hey, Big Brother – (1972) – This was Rare Earth’s last big hit.

R is for Robert Palmer (19 January 1949 – 26 September 2003) – he was an English singer-songwriter best known for his incredible music videos that went with his top hits Addicted to Love and Simply Irrisistible. Heavily rotated on MTV, this music video ended up being imitated many times over.

Wikipedia references the music videos: “His iconic music videos directed by British fashion photographer Terence Donovan for the hits “Addicted to Love” and “Simply Irresistible” featured identically dressed dancing women with pale faces, dark eye makeup and bright red lipstick, which resembled the women in the art of Patrick Nagel, an artist popular in the 1980s.”

Here are the famous videos so you all can re-live those early MTV days:

Addicted to Love – was the No. 1 single from his album Riptide in 1985. Palmer also won a Grammy in 1987 for the song (Best Male Rock Vocal Performance). [Music video by Robert Palmer performing Addicted to Love. (C) 1985 The Island Def Jam Music Group]:

Simply Irrisistible  – original music video

Simply Irresistible also proved to be an effective advertising campaign for Pepsi:

“Palmer died in a Paris hotel room from a heart attack on 26 September 2003 at the age of 54. He had been in the French capital after recording a television appearance in London for Yorkshire TV, a retrospective titled “My Kinda People”. He was survived by his parents, his son Jim and daughter Jane, and by his girlfriend Mary Ambrose.[14] Among those who paid tribute were Duran Duran, stating; “He was a very dear friend and a great artist. This is a tragic loss to the British music industry.”” (Source: Wikipedia)

R is for REO Speedwagon – I have been an REO fan for a long time. I saw them at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, NY back in March of 1981. It was an excellent concert and they played all of their greats from the You Can Tune a Piano But You Can’t Tuna Fish album (love the name of that album!)REO Speedwagon concert ticket stub

Their song, Keep Pushin’ was my own personal anthem as I was finding my way in the world and was frequently blasting on my 1971 Monte Carlo’s 8-track!

Keep Pushin’ (1976; studio version)

Roll with the Changes – Live on the Midnight Special (not sure of the performance date)

Time for Me to Fly – MTV archive video from 1981 performance

Take It On the Run – 1982 performance:

Blazin’ Your Own Trail Again – I LOVE this song. REO had such a way of creating good feelings within and their lyrics spoke to hope and determination. This is one of those songs:

Ridin’ the Storm Out – of course they closed the show with this one! This is also from a 1981 performance, the same year I saw them. This show was in Denver, CO.

Back on the Road Again (from their Nine Lives album) – Bassist Bruce Hall taking lead vocals on this song. This performance is from the Hi Infidelity tour:

One Lonely Night – from their 1985 performance at the Montreux Pop Festival; © SSR, Polivideo, BBC Television 1985

R is for R.E.M. – R.E.M. was an American rock band from Athens, Georgia, formed in 1980 by singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry. R.E.M. was pivotal in the creation and development of the alternative rock genre. AllMusic stated, “R.E.M. marked the point when post-punk turned into alternative rock.”

One of the first popular alternative rock bands, R.E.M. released its first single, “Radio Free Europe”, in 1981 on the independent record label (Hib-Tone). The single was followed by the Chronic Town EP in 1982, the band’s first release on I.R.S. Records. In 1983, the group released its critically acclaimed debut album, Murmur, and built its reputation over the next few years through subsequent releases, constant touring, and the support of college radio. Following years of underground success, R.E.M. achieved a mainstream hit in 1987 with the single “The One I Love”. The group signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1988, and began to espouse political and environmental concerns while playing large arenas worldwide.

By the early 1990s, when alternative rock began to experience broad mainstream success, R.E.M. was viewed by subsequent acts such as Nirvana and Pavement as a pioneer of the genre and released its two most commercially successful albums (Out of Time (1991) and Automatic for the People (1992), catapulting it to international fame.

I was impressed with R.E.M.’s commitment to giving voice to social and political issues, using their celebrity to serve to bring about positive change. “Throughout R.E.M.’s career, its members sought to highlight social and political issues. According to the Los Angeles Times, R.E.M. was considered to be one of the United States’ “most liberal and politically correct rock groups.” The band’s members were “on the same page” politically, sharing a liberal and progressive outlook. … R.E.M. helped raise funds for environmental, feminist and human rights causes, and were involved in campaigns to encourage voter registration. During the Green tour, Stipe took time during sets to inform the audience about a variety of pressing socio-political issues. Through the late 1980s and 1990s, the band (particularly Stipe) increasingly used its media coverage on national television to mention a variety of causes it felt were important. One example is when the band attended the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards, during which Stipe wore a half-dozen white shirts emblazoned with slogans including “rainforest”, “love knows no colors”, and “handgun control now.” ” (Source: Wikipedia)

My favorite R.E.M. songs:

The One I Love

Losing My Religion – a lyrics video:

It’s the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)

Shiny Happy People

Man on the Moon

Everybody Hurts – a lyrics video:

Stand – (audio only):

R is for Rockwell – Kennedy William Gordy (born March 15, 1964), better known by his stage name Rockwell, is a pop artist who was signed to the Motown label.

Rockwell is the son of Motown founder and CEO Berry Gordy and Margaret Norton. His father named him Kennedy William Gordy after John F. Kennedy and William “Smokey” Robinson. To avoid the appearance of nepotism, he secured his record deal without his father’s knowledge. Motown actually came up with the name Rockwell and the young Gordy agreed to the change because he believed he “rocked well.”

In 1984, Rockwell released his biggest hit single, “Somebody’s Watching Me”, featuring childhood friend Michael Jackson on guest vocals (notably in the chorus lyrics), and Jermaine Jackson singing back-up. “Somebody’s Watching Me” became a Gold-certified million selling #2 smash hit in both the US and UK. Additionally, it held #1 on Billboard’s R&B chart for five weeks. Follow-up singles underperformed, however, with single “Obscene Phone Caller” being Rockwell’s only other Top 40 single. This follow-up single reached #35 on the Billboard Hot 100. Rockwell soon ended his musical career with Motown.

R is for Rush – Rush is a Canadian rock band formed in 1968. In a word, they are different! Rush is a band you either love or hate. I’m very lukewarm when it comes to their sound. Rush concert ticket stubI went to see them in concert and their lightshow and theatrics were incredible, but I always found their music and in particular the vocals hard on the ears. I can only describe the vocals as “screechy.”

Most folks will be familiar with their song Fly by Night, from the Fly By Night album, their second studio album released in 1975. It still gets a lot of radio airplay on classic rock stations. (Music video by Rush performing Fly By Night. (C) 1975 The Island Def Jam Music Group and Anthem Entertainment):

Rush’s musical style is incredibly diverse and quite fluid, with dramatic stylistic changes occurring frequently throughout the band’s career. “Since the release of the band’s self-titled debut album in March 1974, Rush has become known for its musicianship, complex compositions, and eclectic lyrical motifs drawing heavily on science fiction, fantasy, history, and philosophy. Rush’s music style has changed over the years, from a blues-inspired hard rock beginning, later moving into progressive rock, and including a period with heavy use of synthesizers. Its musical style returned to a more guitar-oriented sound in 1989.” (Source: Wikipedia)

I saw them in May of 1978, post 2112 album, with the show focused primarily on their fifth studio album A Farewell to Kings.

Xanadu –  (from A Farewell to Kings album):

Closer to the Heart – from the Rush Chronicles DVD; Music video by Rush performing Closer To The Heart. (C) 1977 The Island Def Jam Music Group and Anthem Entertainment:

R is for Ratt – An ultimate hair-band. I always dug the long hair (still do actually) but I’m not really a hard-rocker, or maybe I was once a long time ago, but this is one song that I just love! It’s the only Ratt song I like, but it’s a good one! It was their biggest hit ever and came out in 1984.

Round and Round – the official video, which I hope posts:

Here they are performing live in March of 1984:

R is for Rainbow  – Every time I hear the name Rainbow, I think Ritchie Blackmore. I had always heard that he was a hard-ass to work with and was quick to fire band members. If you look at the member lineup on their Wikipedia page, you’ll see a lot of personnel changes! I heard about Blackmore because it was said that my cousin, who is also a serious musician, was somewhat like Blackmore in that he didn’t take any bullshit when it came to rehearsing. If you weren’t there for rehearsal, you were out of the band. Simple as that. Anyway, here’s the one song of Rainbow’s that I really like:

Since You’ve Been Gone

R is for Rod Stewart – Known for his signature raspy voice, the British singer/songwriter is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 100 million records. There is a lengthy Wikipedia page on Rod Stewart with a plethora of information. For the A-Z purposes, I’m just including some personal trivia that was also found on that page:

“In May 2000, Stewart was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, for which he underwent surgery in the same month. It had been previously reported he suffered from a benign vocal cord nodule. Besides being a major health scare, the resulting surgery also threatened his famous voice, and he had to re-learn how to sing. Since then he has been active in raising funds for The City of Hope Foundation charity to find cures for all forms of cancer, especially those affecting children.”

“An auto collector, Stewart owns one of the 400 Ferrari Enzos. In 1982, Stewart was car-jacked on Los Angeles’ Sunset Boulevard, while he was parking his $50,000 Porsche. The car was subsequently recovered.”

“In July 2007, Stewart collected his CBE for “services to music” at Buckingham Palace, commenting; “It’s a marvelous occasion. We’re the only country in the world to honor the common man.” Stewart was estimated to have a fortune of £115 million [$172 million US] in the Sunday Times Rich List of 2011, making him one of the 20 wealthiest people in the British music industry.”

Check out the Wikipedia page because there is so much cool information, not only on his music career but on his personal interests in model railways and his love and involvement in football, which will explain why he often kicks out footballs into the audience during concerts. Now here’s a few of my favorite Rod Stewart songs:

Maggie May – from the BBC, an October 1971 performance:

The First Cut is the Deepest  (1977 performance)

Hot Legs – Official Music Video

Do Ya Think I’m Sexy  – “Music for UNICEF” 1979

Tonight’s the Night (from 1976)

R is for Robin Trower – Robin Trower is an English guitarist who achieved success with Procol Harum in the 60s and then went solo with his own band. I’ve always loved his Bridge of Sighs album. Was introduced to it by some guy that I went out with who was extraordinarily sexy in his long black coat! I don’t remember his name but I do remember the evening. 😉

Bridge of Sighs – a 1974 BBC television appearance in the UK

R is for Red Rider –  a Canadian rock band popular in the 1980s. While the band achieved great success in Canada, the band never had a song in the Top 40 in the US, even though “Lunatic Fringe” became a hit on AOR [Album Oriented Rock] radio. (Source: Wikipedia)

Lunatic Fringe – official music video:

R is for Ringo Starr – the wildly famous drummer for the Beatles who saw success after the Beatles broke up. “When the Beatles formed in 1960, Starr was a member of another Liverpool group, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. After achieving moderate success with that band in the UK and Hamburg, he quit the Hurricanes and joined the Beatles in August 1962. Starr played key roles in The Beatles’ films and appeared in numerous others. After the band’s break-up in 1970, he released several successful singles including the US number four hit “It Don’t Come Easy”, and number ones “Photograph” and “You’re Sixteen”. In 1972, he released his most successful UK single, “Back Off Boogaloo”, which peaked at number two. He achieved commercial and critical success with his 1973 album Ringo, which was a top ten release in both the UK and the US. He has been featured in a number of documentaries and hosted television shows. He also narrated the first two seasons of the children’s television series Thomas & Friends and portrayed “Mr. Conductor” during the first season of the PBS children’s television series Shining Time Station. Since 1989, he has successfully toured with twelve variations of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.” (Source: Wikipedia)

These are my favorite Ringo Starr hits:

It Don’t Come Easy

Photograph – a video using photos of Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach

You’re Sixteen

R is for the Romantics – is an American “power pop and new wave band” from Detroit, Michigan, formed in 1977. The band decided on the name “The Romantics” because they formed on Valentine’s Day. Aw, how sweet! They were popular in the early-mid 80s. They got their influences from 1950s rock ‘n roll and 1960s garage bands.

What I Like About You – Great harmonica in this song! Music video by The Romantics performing What I Like About You. (C) 1979 SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT:

Talking in Your Sleep – LOVE this song! Music video by The Romantics performing Talking In Your Sleep. (C) 1983 Sony BMG Music Entertainment:

R is for Rick James – How about a little funk? Rick James hails from my hometown of Buffalo, NY. He had quite a notorious reputation. From Wikipedia: “Influenced by singers such as Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson, James started singing in doo-wop and R&B groups as a teenager in his hometown of Buffalo, New York. After entering the U.S. Navy to avoid getting drafted, he deserted to Toronto, where he formed the rock and R&B band The Mynah Birds. James’ tenure with the group was interrupted after he was discovered recording with the group in Motown in 1966. Surrendering to military authorities, he served a one-year prison term. Upon release, James moved to California to resume his duties with the Mynah Birds, although the group eventually split. James began a series of rock bands in California and worked with Motown under the assumed name “Ricky Matthews” as a songwriter.

In 1977, he signed with the Gordy Records imprint of Motown as a recording artist, releasing his debut, Come Get It!, in April 1978. The album sold over two million copies and launched his career into the mainstream as a funk and soul artist. His most popular album, 1981’s Street Songs, launched him into superstardom thanks to the hit singles, “Give It to Me Baby” and “Super Freak”, the latter song becoming his signature song for the rest of his life.

An addiction to crack hampered his career by the late 1980s. In the 1990s, his legal troubles, which included kidnapping and torturing two women while under the influence of crack, led him to serve a three-year sentence at California’s Folsom State Prison. James was released on parole in 1996 and resumed his musical career releasing the album, Urban Rapsody, in 1997. A mild stroke suffered during a concert in early 1998 interrupted his career for a brief time. James received new notoriety in 2004 when he appeared on an episode of the Chappelle’s Show in the Charlie Murphy “True Hollywood Stories” segment of the show, in which James’ past wild lifestyle was satirized. James died later that year from heart failure at the age of 56.”

I’ve always loved Superfreak so I’m including it here. I’m really not familiar with much else that he did, except Give It to Me Baby, but Superfreak is a great song! Here he is performing it on the Solid Gold TV show in 1981:

Give It to Me Baby

And finally,

R is for the Rolling Stones – I was fortunate enough to see the Rolling Stones back on September 27, 1981 at Buffalo’s Rich Stadium in Orchard Park. I actually wrote about my concert experience in last year’s A-Z Challenge (C is for Concerts) so you may have already read this. But for those who missed the story, here it is again:

A friend of mine posted this cartoon on his Facebook page a while back and it really resonated with me. I think it might very accurately foreshadow days to come.

Music is the best

This cartoon also took me down a long and winding road of memories. Memories of all of the concerts I attended back in the day. Some more hazy than others. Back in the day when Bad Company was headlining and Kansas was the opening band and my ticket to the show cost $6. All the way back to the days when I was so young that parents had to drop us kids off to see Peter Frampton and Rick Derringer. Back in the day when everyone was so generous with their weed and there was a constant flow of joints being passed down the rows. I told someone not long ago that I had seen Steppenwolf…and immediately thought, “Steppenwolf? Holy shit, I’m old!” Old enough that when I saw this superstar line-up of George Thorogood, Loverboy, Journey and the Rolling Stones together the ticket price was only $15!!

Rolling Stones concert ticket stub 1981

That was one crazy concert with a really cr-aazy crowd. It was held at Orchard Park’s Rich Stadium, former home of the Buffalo Bills. Orchard Park was never quite the same after that show. First of all, there were a zillion people standing in line and for some reason the stadium folks just would not open the gates. We stood out there forever. Everyone was starting to get antsy and irritated and we all stood around bitching until a few unruly and angry folks decided to bust through the fence. Well, you can imagine what happened next. First one panel of fence was down and a few people squeezed through. Then another panel started going down, and another, and another and suddenly it became a tsunami of people rushing and crawling over trampled fencing. But alas, we were in.

We found our seats and were excited as we settled in, waiting for the first band to come out. It started to rain. It wasn’t bad at first, just a little shower, but then the sky opened up and dumped buckets of cold rain upon us. People were covering up with tarps and whatever else we could find. But the show went on. It poured like a motherfucker the whole time, all through George Thorogood’s performance, all through Loverboy’s, through Journey’s. But what happened next was so mind-blowing …well, maybe moreso because we were all stoned… but even to this day I tingle when I think about it. It’s still pouring, pouring, pouring, I’m talkin’ practically torrential, when Mick Jagger runs out on stage and, I’m not kidding, this truly happened simultaneously, as soon as he reached the mike, the rain. just. stopped. The sun burst out and we were suddenly sitting under blue skies. And for a few moments, everyone stopped and the entire stadium took a collective breath of disbelief. What timing! It was crazy.

And one little factoid that I saw on the Music Channel is that in 1969 the Rolling Stones hired the Hell’s Angels as concert security for the price of $500 worth of beer! There’s a neat little slice of trivia for ya.

Anyway, I love the Rolling Stones. So many of their songs. I don’t know how many songs I’ll end up posting here but if you like the Stones, stick around: some good videos coming up!

Gimme Shelter (1969)- I really dig this video. GREAT compilation of what was happening at the time:


19th Nervous Breakdown – early performance (not sure of date or location)

Honky Tonk Woman – Live at Madison Square Garden, November 1969

Mother’s Little Helper – the song dealing with the darker side of Valium use among housewives. Recorded in 1965 and released in 1966.

Sympathy for the Devil – The recording of “Sympathy for the Devil” began at London’s Olympic Sound Studios on 4 June 1968 and continued into the next day. Personnel included on the recording include Nicky Hopkins on piano, Rocky Dijon on congas and Bill Wyman on maracas.

Time is On My Side  – Leeds Live 1982 Official Video

Play with Fire

As Tears Go By –  Live performance 2008 (Shine a Light)

Get Off My Cloud – this is probably the first Stones song I remember hearing… This video is from the BBC Top of the Pops in 1965:

Under My Thumb – This is from an Austin performance at Zilker Park in 2006. I wasn’t there…but I could’ve been!

Jumpin’ Jack Flash – another one of my early favorites and another Texas performance, this one in 1972:

Midnight Rambler – Live at Madison Square Gardens 2003:

You Can’t Always Get What You Want – Ain’t that the truth?! Live performance Glastonbury Festival 2013:

Brown Sugar – BBC’s Top of the Pops 1971:

Wild Horses – one of my all-time favorites and a great horses video:

Can’t You Hear Me Knocking – from the Sticky Fingers album, 1971

Start Me Up – This was the theme for a 1989 Sales Conference when I worked at WCXR in Washington DC and all the stations in our group were flown to Los Angeles for a 3-day conference.  The official promo video (below) for the Rolling Stones’ ‘Start Me Up’, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Released in 1981, the song was a number one hit and the lead single from Tattoo You.

Angie –  Live performance

It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll

Tumbling Dice – The Rolling Stones performing “Tumbling Dice”, live at the Will Rogers Memorial Centre, Fort Worth, Texas, 18th July 1978:

Bitch – from the album Sticky Fingers:

Rock and a Hard Place – from the Steel Wheels album

Beast of Burden

That was fun! Hope you enjoyed it. Who are your favorite R bands? Who did I forget?

N is for Nazareth, Neil Young, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and No Doubt!


Welcome to the A-Z Musical Tour of My Life! I have wanted to put something like this together for a long time now and the A-Z Challenge just seemed like the perfect opportunity. I’ve compiled stories, trivia, research, music videos and live concert footage on all the bands and musical artists who have been important to me over the years, especially during my youthful years in the 60s and 70s. At first glance, the posts may seem long – and some of them are due to the number of videos included – but it’s really laid out in a way that will enable you to scroll through and read, see or hear just what you want and then either move on to the next A-Zer or linger and listen to the great music that you’ll find here. By all means, bookmark my blog so you can come back! In addition to individual songs, there are some full albums here for those who may want to enjoy some music while they’re surfing or working. I hope you find that the stories are entertaining, the information educational and the trivia interesting. It would be a tremendous honor if you would bookmark the A-Z Musical Tour of My Life as a resource for great music and music information! Now, let’s get started with…

N is for Nazareth – One of my favorite Nazareth songs is the title track from the Hair of the Dog album. Love the beat in this song and I always find it a challenge to try to count how many times they say “Now you’re messin’ with a son-of-a-bitch.” Just how many times do they repeat that line? Play the song, try to do an accurate count and put your answer in the comments section below. I want to see if we come up with the same number!

Nazareth is a Scottish rock band, formed in 1968. They had several hits in the UK in the early 70s. They established an international audience with their 1975 album Hair of the Dog.

Besides Hair of the Dog, there are a few songs that I like on that album. The other one that got tons of radio airplay is Love Hurts. It’s probably their biggest hit here in the US. This is Nazareth performing the song in 1976:

Whiskey Drinkin’ Woman is a fun song. And this video is pretty funny too. Not sure where all these photos came from but some of them are hilarious:

Beggars Day is another song that I really like.

Of course I have to be in a certain mood to listen to Nazareth. I have to be in a Hard-Rock frame of mind, otherwise it just gets on my nerves. You ever feel like that with music? I got chastised one day when I told my ex that I had to turn off Jimi Hendrix because the music was hurting my ears! It was like I had committed the ultimate sacrilege. There is a lot of music that I used to listen to when I was younger that I don’t care to listen to anymore. The Nazareth Hair of the Dog album was one of the many 8-tracks that I used to blast in my ’71 Monte Carlo. I just don’t see myself blasting Nazareth these days. Well, maybe Hair of the Dog. Yeah, definitely Hair of the Dog. But not the rest…


N is for Neil Young

Oh, how I love Neil Young! This Canadian-born singer/songwriter/musician moved to California in 1966 and co-founded the band Buffalo Springfield (with Stephen Stills) and in 1969, became the fourth member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (also known as CSNY). Since I’ve already covered Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Buffalo Springfield within other letters, I’ll just concentrate on Young’s solo career.

His second solo album is when he recruited and introduced his backup band Crazy Horse. The album was released in May of 1969 (“Everybody Knows This is Nowhere”). From Wikipedia: “Recorded in just two weeks, the album opens with one of Young’s most familiar songs, Cinnamon Girl, and is dominated by two more, Cowgirl in the Sand and Down by the River, that feature improvisations with Young’s distinctive electric guitar solos billowing out over the hypnotic Crazy Horse backing. Young reportedly wrote all three songs on the same day, while nursing a high fever of 103 °F (39 °C) in bed.” That’s pretty impressive. When I’m sick, all I want to do is sleep. I can’t imagine writing a song, let alone three hit songs!

Cinnamon Girl

Down By the River (from an Austin City Limits concert)

Cowgirl in the Sand (Live at Massey Hall, 1971)

I remember hearing that there were tensions and in-fighting while Young was with Crosby, Stills and Nash. Here’s the story as reported in Wikipedia: “Shortly after the release of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Young reunited with Stephen Stills by joining Crosby, Stills & Nash, who had already released one album Crosby, Stills & Nash as a trio in May 1969. Young was originally offered a position as a sideman, but agreed to join only if he received full membership, and the group – winners of the 1969 “Best New Artist” Grammy Award – was renamed Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The quartet debuted in Chicago on August 16, 1969, and later performed at the famous Woodstock Festival, during which Young skipped the majority of the acoustic set and refused to be filmed during the electric set, even telling the cameramen: “One of you fuckin’ guys comes near me and I’m gonna fuckin’ hit you with my guitar”. During the making of their first album, Déjà Vu (March 11, 1970), the musicians frequently argued, particularly Young and Stills, who both fought for control. Stills continued throughout their lifelong relationship to criticize Young, saying that he “wanted to play folk music in a rock band.” Despite the tension, Young’s tenure with CSN&Y coincided with the band’s most creative and successful period, and greatly contributed to his subsequent success as a solo artist.”

Other Neil Young favorites are:

Rockin in the Free World –  Taken from Wikipedia: “The lyrics criticize the George H. W. Bush administration, then in its first month, and the social problems of contemporary American life, directly referencing Bush’s famous “thousand points of light” remark from his 1989 inaugural address and his 1988 presidential campaign promise for America to become a “kinder, gentler nation.” Despite this, the song became the de facto anthem of the collapse of communism, because of its repeated chorus of ‘Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World’.

An edited version of the song accompanies the end credits of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. In the film, the phrase “That’s one more kid that’ll never go to school, never get to fall in love, never get to be cool,” which in the song references the second verse’s abandoned child, is used in reference to a young US soldier killed in Iraq.

The song is rated number 216 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time…”

This music video showcases great social commentary interspersed with concert footage:

After the Gold Rush –(from the Rust Never Sleeps album): live performance. I love his melodic piano and haunting harmonica in this song:

The Needle and the Damage Down – a song about heroin use and its effects on musicians: “…A lot of great art goes down the drain,” says Neil Young as he’s featured and performing the song on the Johnny Cash show:

Heart of Gold – an acoustic performance in 1971 at the BBC:

Like a Hurricane – from Live Rust:

Hey Hey My My (Into the Black) – Great concert video of Neil Young & Crazy Horse and elated fans, recorded on the “Ragged Glory” tour 1991:

Only Love Can Break Your Heart – from a recent performance at Carnegie Hall (NYC, January 9, 2014):

Harvest Moon – I love this song. The musical arrangement just makes me feel good. Hope it does you too!  Studio version, music video.© 2012 WMG:


N is for NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND an American Country-Folk-Rock band that was formed in California in 1966. It’s a band that went through at least a dozen changes in membership over the years, including changing the name from Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to just Dirt Band and back to Nitty Gritty! Two band members who remained loyal and were part of each of the band’s incarnations was Jeff Hanna (guitars, vocals) and Jimmie Fadden (drums, harmonica, vocals).  The band is probably best known for its cover of the Jerry Jeff Walker song, Mr. Bojangles.

Here’s a performance of that song taken from the “Country Gold” fest in Mt. Aso, Kumamoto, Japan in 1990:

They are also known for the song Will the Circle Be Unbroken. Their 1972 album, with the same title, is a collaboration of bluegrass and country-western talent and musical greats. The history of this collaboration was the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s desire to tie together two generations of musicians.

From Wikipedia: “The album’s title comes from a song by Ada R. Habershon (re-arranged by A. P. Carter). Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was a young country-rock band with a hippie look. Acuff described them as “a bunch of long-haired West Coast boys.” The other players were much older and more famous from the forties, fifties and sixties, primarily as old-time country and bluegrass players. Many had become known to their generation through the Grand Ole Opry. However, with the rise of rock-and-roll, the emergence of the commercial country’s slick ‘Nashville Sound,’ and changing tastes in music, their popularity had waned somewhat from their glory years.

Every track on the album was recorded on the first or second take straight to two-track masters, so the takes are raw and unprocessed. Additionally, another tape ran continuously throughout the entire week-long recording session and captured the dialog between the players. On the final album many of the tracks—including the first track—begin with the musicians discussing how to do the song or who should come in where. …

Much later, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band recorded two subsequent albums, Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Volume Two and Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Volume III, in an attempt to repeat the process with other historically significant musicians. Volume Two won the Country Music Association’s 1989 Album of the Year as well as three Grammys. In 1990, the album was celebrated on the PBS music television program Austin City Limits, which featured a performance by the full ensemble of guests on the Carter Family song, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, from the original 1972 album.”

Here’s a fabulous video from Will the Circle Be Unbroken – Volume Two, featuring several musicians coming together to perform a studio version of the song, including JOHNNY CASH (I love that guy!), Bruce Hornsby, EmmyLou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, Chet Atkins, just to name just a few. Recorded in 1989. If you’re going to watch one video from this blog post, make it this one:


N is for No Doubt – I always loved this song by No Doubt. Only recently did I realize that Gwen Stefani was the lead vocals in this band, before she went solo. No Doubt was formed in California back in 1986 and their musical style was characterized as punk, reggae fusion, punk rock, pop punk, new wave, alternative rock and pop rock; they obviously experimented with a variety of styles and sounds. Their song Don’t Speak “was released in 1996 as the third single from the band’s third studio album, Tragic Kingdom (1995). Vocalist Gwen Stefani wrote the song with her brother Eric Stefani about her bandmate and ex-boyfriend Tony Kanal shortly after he ended their seven-year relationship.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Don’t Speak

Another  No Doubt song that I really like:

It’s My Life


So who are your favorite N artists or bands? Who did I forget? Did you count the number of times Nazareth says “Now you’re messing with a son-of-a-bitch” in Hair of the Dog? If yes, what number did you come up with? Let us know in the Comments section!