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

DISCLAIMER THAT APPEARS AT THE BEGINNING OF ALL A-Z 2015 PAGES:

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!

J is for Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Joe Walsh, Journey, Joan Jet, Judas Priest, James Taylor, John Cougar Mellencamp, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix!

J

DISCLAIMER THAT APPEARS AT THE BEGINNING OF ALL A-Z 2015 PAGES:

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…

J is for Jefferson Airplane – I could’ve started this post with Jimi Hendrix, but frankly, I’m burned out on Jimi. So I’m going to start with another great band from the Love Generation. Who remembers the 1973 movie “Go Ask Alice”? It was an anti-drug testimonial based on the book of the same name, who’s author is still in question as it is authored by “Anonymous.” Go Ask Alice book cover  Supposedly it was a real life diary of a girl named Alice who gets addicted to drugs. The title of the book, and hence, the movie, was taken from a line in Jefferson Airplane’s song White Rabbit: “Go ask Alice when she’s ten feet tall” which is referencing the Alice in Wonderland Adventures when Alice eats a piece of mushroom and grows very large. I read the book, saw the movie and LOVE Jefferson Airplane! Here’s Jefferson Airplane performing White Rabbit on the Smothers Brothers show in 1967:

Another one of my favorite Jefferson Airplane songs is Somebody to Love. I remember the first time I was able to hold the note as long as Grace Slick does and I was over the moon excited. That’s a really loooong note! See for yourself. Here’s Jefferson Airplane performing the song on American Bandstand in 1967:

J is for Janis Joplin – speaking of books, did you ever read any of Janis’ biographies? Her life was fascinating. A hard, tough life. Even after she found fame. She was a very tortured soul. And that torture found release in her music. I recently saw the musical play Love, Janis at Zach Theatre in Austin. Based on the book written by her sister, Love, Janis is an intimate and revealing look into the life of this rock queen through the many letters Janis wrote to her family while she was becoming a superstar. The musical was OUTSTANDING. MIND-BLOWING. EXPLOSIVE. It was so good, I went to see it twice. The woman who portrayed Janis SOUNDED JUST LIKE HER! It was as if it was Janis performing on that stage, not Mary Bridgit Davies.

I’m posting this as a tribute to my Aunt Mary, who loved this song. Wish you were still here with us Aunt Mary! This one’s for you:

Janis performing Piece of My Heart Live in Germany, 1968:

This is a really fantastic interview with Janis Joplin on the Dick Cavett show on July 18, 1969:  http://youtu.be/CmgSzbdL1So?list=PL19843243B5510C82

Click here for Part 2 of the Dick Cavett appearance as she performs To Love Somebody and Try (Just a Little Bit Harder).

Here’s Summertime: 

And of course, we have to hear Mercedes Benz! I LOVE her giggle at the end!

J is for Journey: No matter how old you are, at some point you life has to have been touched by Journey. The group was described by Allmusic as having cemented a reputation as “one of America’s most beloved (and sometimes hated) commercial rock/pop bands.” Over the years, Journey songs have been heard or referred to in numerous films, television shows, video games, and even on Broadway. The band’s songs have been covered by multiple artists and adopted by sports teams. Most notably, “Don’t Stop Believin’” was heard in the final episode of The Sopranos, adapted by the television show Glee, sung by the Family Guy cast, adopted as the unofficial anthem of the 2005 and 2010 World Series champion baseball teams, performed by The Chipmunks in their 2008 album Undeniable, and sung by the cast of the Broadway musical Rock of Ages. (I saw Rock of Ages last year at the Long Center in Austin. GREAT show. Rockin’ it was indeed!)

Don’t Stop Believin’  Music video by Journey performing Don’t Stop Believin’ Live in Houston, TX. (C) 2005 Sony Music Entertainment .

I saw Journey in concert, back in 1980. They were on tour with the Rolling Stones. It was a good show but it would’ve been so much better had it not rained throughout their entire performance in the outdoor arena. I’d love to see them again, but next time either inside or under sunny skies!

Just the Same Way  Music video by Journey performing Just The Same Way. YouTube view counts pre-VEVO: 82,112 (C) 1979 SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT

Feeling that Way   Music video by Journey performing Feeling That Way. (C) 2011 Sony Music Entertainment

Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’  Music video by Journey performing Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’. (C) 1979 Sony Music Entertainment

Any Way You Want It  Music video by Journey performing Any Way You Want It. YouTube view counts pre-VEVO: 1,546,426 (C) 1980 SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT

Lights  Music video by Journey performing Lights. (C) 1978 Sony Music Entertainment

Wheel in the Sky   Music video by Journey performing Wheel In the Sky. (C) 1978 Sony Music Entertainment

J is for Joe Walsha former member of Barnstorm, the James Gang and the Eagles, Joe Walsh has a stellar reputation as a guitarist among his musician peers: “Walsh has been praised by many of the best rock guitarists, including Led Zeppelin’s former guitarist, Jimmy Page who praised Walsh by saying “He has a tremendous feel for the instrument. I’ve loved his style since the early James Gang.” Cream’s former guitarist, Eric Clapton said that “He’s one of the best guitarists to surface in some time. I don’t listen to many records, but I listen to his.” The Who’s guitarist Pete Townshend commented that “Joe Walsh is a fluid and intelligent player. There’re not many like that around.”” (Source: Wikipedia)

My very favorite Joe Walsh song is one of his earlier works (when he was with his band Barnstorm), Turn to Stone:

Probably most known for his song Rocky Mountain Way, he also had a hit song In the City that was in the 1970s cult classic movie The Warriors. Here’s the music video with clips from that movie.

Here’s Rocky Mountain Way from his 1973 performance on the Midnight Special:

A bit of trivia: Walsh had often joked about running for office, announcing a mock presidential campaign in 1980 and a vice presidential campaign in 1992. Walsh ran for President of the United States in 1980, promising to make “Life’s Been Good” the new national anthem if he won, and ran on a platform of “Free Gas For Everyone.”Though Walsh was not old enough to actually assume the office, he said that he wanted to raise public awareness of the election. In 1992 Walsh ran for vice president with Rev. Goat Carson under the slogan “We Want Our Money Back!”

Here’s Joe performing Life’s Been Good from the Strat Pack Concert at London’s Wembley Arena.

Joe Walsh (James Gang) doing Funk #49 in Sweden:

Life of Illusion:

J is for James Taylor – American singer-songwriter and guitarist, mainly acoustic, is a five-time Grammy award winner. He achieved his breakthrough in 1970 with Fire and Rain, which climbed to #3 on the charts and then in 1971 his song You’ve Got a Friend  hit #1. The song was written by Carole King and both received Grammys, he for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and she for Song of the Year. Here’s the duo doing You’ve Got a Friend in the early 70s:

His breakthrough hit Fire and Rain:

I saw James Taylor in a wonderful amphitheater in Baltimore one fabulously temperate Fall evening and I came away from that concert thinking to myself that if James Taylor and I had grown up in the same neighborhood, we would’ve been great friends. His heart and soul spoke to me. The way he related to his audience and fans was so loving. He seemed so incredibly down-to-earth … and I’m just naturally drawn to down-to-earth people. Here’s sweet James Taylor in 1979 singing How Sweet It Is:

Taylor’s song Carolina On My Mind, a tribute to his growing up years in Chapel Hill, NC, has a special place in my heart. My parents retired and left their home of 35 years and retired to the coast of North Carolina back in 1990. I was working at a classic rock radio station at the time and put together a mix of song snippets that had meaning for our family. Two of James Taylor songs were included: You’ve Got a Friend and Carolina on My Mind. Every time I hear that song I think of my parents’ going-away party and how, surrounded by friends and family, I played the song mix over the restaurant speakers and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place (even the waitresses were teary-eyed)! Here’s James doing Carolina On My Mind, which happened to be the first recording by a non-British artist released by Apple Records.

Something in the Way She Moves – He starts this performance off with some unexpected humor:

Sweet Baby James – I found a great version of this song on a YouTube channel by SparkTV. This is James performing “Sweet Baby James” on BBC back in September 1970. This performance is from a show called “James Taylor in Concert: Sings James Taylor.” This song was written for his nephew James back in 1969 while he was traveling back to North Carolina.

There’s an eerie connection between James Taylor and my next J artist. “On December 7, 1980, Taylor had an encounter with Mark David Chapman, who would assassinate John Lennon just one day later. Taylor told the BBC in 2010 “The guy had sort of pinned me to the wall and was glistening with maniacal sweat and talking some freak speak about what he was going to do and his stuff with how John was interested, and he was going to get in touch with John Lennon. And it was surreal to actually have contact with the guy 24 hours before he shot John.” The next night Taylor, who lived in the next building from Lennon, heard the assassination occur. Taylor commented “I heard him shot—five, just as quick as you could pull the trigger, about five explosions.”

J is for John Cougar Mellencamp

“John Mellencamp (born October 7, 1951), also known as John Cougar Mellencamp, is an American musician, singer-songwriter, painter, and actor. He is known for his catchy, populist brand of heartland rock, which emphasizes traditional instrumentation. He rose to superstardom in the 1980s while “honing an almost startlingly plainspoken writing style that, starting in 1982, yielded a string of Top 10 singles”, including “Hurts So Good,” “Jack & Diane,” “Crumblin’ Down,” “Pink Houses,” “Lonely Ol’ Night,” “Small Town,” “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.,” “Paper in Fire,” and “Cherry Bomb.” He has sold over 40 million albums worldwide and has amassed 22 Top 40 hits in the United States. In addition, he holds the record for the most tracks by a solo artist to hit number one on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, with seven, and has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards, winning one. Mellencamp released his latest album, Plain Spoken, on September 23, 2014, to widespread critical acclaim.

Mellencamp is also one of the founding members of Farm Aid, an organization that began in 1985 with a concert in Champaign, Illinois, to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on their land. Farm Aid concerts have remained an annual event over the past 30 years, and as of 2015 the organization has raised over $48 million to promote a strong and resilient family farm system of agriculture.”  (Source: Wikipedia)

I couldn’t keep track of whether he was to be called John Cougar or John Mellencamp. Apparently the stage moniker Johnny Cougar (John Cougar) was forced upon him by his then manager back in the early days but he never liked it and was totally against it. After he gained commercial success – and a new manager – he added his legal surname to his work, becoming John Cougar Mellencamp. Then later he dropped the Cougar altogether and now is simply John Mellencamp.

Whatever his name, his music rocks! Here are my favorite John Cougar Mellencamp songs:

Crumblin’ Down

Cherry Bomb

Small Town – Live at Farm Aid 1987:

Lonely Ol’ Night

Rain on the Scarecrow

R.O.C.K. in the USA

Paper in Fire

Pink Houses

J is for John LennonCertainly John Lennon needs no introduction. December 8th 1980 is etched in history as the day John Lennon was shot and killed outside his home in New York City by the young man obsessed with John and the book Catcher in the Rye. Here’s “The Day John Lennon Died,” a 2010 documentary with a look at Lennon and his death through archival footage and interviews.

My favorite John Lennon songs, besides Imagine, are Whatever Gets You Through the Night and Mind Games:

Whatever Gets You Through the Night – with Elton John on keyboards and vocals. John Lennon credited his collaborator as “starring” Elton John.

Mind Games:

Watching the Wheels – In the lyrics, John writes about how he wasn’t interested in fame anymore and devoting himself to his family (his wife Yoko Ono and his son Sean) was what made him happy. The song makes a statement that taking it easy and spending time with loved ones is anything but crazy. Working way too hard in an attempt to be ultra-productive is, in the end, quite unfulfilling.

Imagine – Here’s a great video with this song that moves all who hear it:

If only!

J is for Joan Jett – Often referred to as the “Queen of Rock ‘n Roll,” Joan Jett is a powerhouse of talent. She “is an American rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer and occasional actress, best known for her work with Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, including their hit record “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”, which was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 from March 20 to May 1, 1982, as well as for their other popular recordings including “Crimson and Clover”, “I Hate Myself for Loving You”, “Do You Wanna Touch Me”, “Light of Day”, “Love is All Around” and “Bad Reputation”. She has three albums that have been certified Platinum or Gold, and has been a feminist icon throughout her career. She is considered by the Toronto Sun as the Queen of Rock ‘n Roll.”

I also adore her for her work with PETA and Farm Sanctuary!

My favorite Joan Jett song is I Hate Myself for Loving You:

I Love Rock ‘n Roll – music video from 1982:

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts cover rendition of Tommy James and the Shondells’ Crimson and Clover hit #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982:

Joan Jett isn’t just a musician. She also has film, stage and television to add to her resume. She made her acting debut in 1987, co-starring with Gena Rowlands and Michael J. Fox in the Paul Schrader film Light of Day. You can read so much more about Joan Jett’s life and works at her Wikipedia page.

J is for Judas Priest – “Judas Priest is an English heavy metal band formed in Birmingham, England in 1969. The band has sold over 45 million albums to date. MTV ranked them the second “Greatest Metal Band” of all time.

Despite an innovative and pioneering body of work in the late 1970s, the band struggled with indifferently-produced records, repeated changes of drummer and a lack of major commercial success or attention until 1980 when they adopted a more simplified sound on the album British Steel, which helped shoot them to rock superstar status.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Their hit from that album, Living After Midnight, was being played on the radio, but it wasn’t until their 1982 release of the Screaming for Vengeance album that put the band on my radar. The hit “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” was a song that always had me reaching for the volume knob and cranking it up. It reminds me of a bunch of us cruising around in my brother’s van taking road trips with this song blaring to the max.

‘Living After Midnight’ – describes my life in the early 80s, where we didn’t even THINK about going out until 10 or 11pm (now, most nights I’m going to bed before 10:00!) We’d stroll into the bars around midnight and that’s when the party started. We’d rock all night long and roll home as the sun was rising. Ah, those days. If only life could be as simple as it was back then…

Music video by Judas Priest performing Living After Midnight. (C) 1980 Sony Music Entertainment UK Limited:

I never have been a huge heavy metal fan but I have to give props to Judas Priest for their contribution to the genre. In addition to their sound, Judas Priest, and in particular lead singer Rob Halford, are heralded as being revolutionaries in heavy metal fashion. “Halford wore a leather costume on stage as early as 1978 to coincide with the promotion for the Killing Machine (Hell Bent for Leather in the USA) album. In a 1998 interview, Halford described the leather subculture as the inspiration for this look. Shortly after appropriating the leather look, Halford started appearing onstage on a roaring motor bike. Soon, the rest of the band followed. It was not long before other bands appropriated the leather look.” (Source: Heavy Metal Fashion, Wikipedia)

J is for Jimi Hendrix – Alright, alright, I guess I have to include Jimi Hendrix. I mean, it would be sacrilege not to, after all. Having worked at a classic rock radio station for years and forever listening to classic rock stations, I get so burned out on Jimi Hendrix. I mean every single block of music seems to include a Hendrix tune. Not too long ago, I had the music channel blasting in my house and I was working around doing whatever. I can’t recall which Hendrix song came on but it was literally hurting my ears. I had to go shut it off. And at that very moment I stopped and said to myself, “Holy shit, I’m getting old. I just turned off Jimi Hendrix because it hurt my ears. It’s all downhill from here…”

So for all you Hendrix fans out there, this is for you:

Jimi Hendrix (November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) – Born Johnny Allen Hendrix, he was an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.”

Need I say more??

All Along the Watchtower

Foxy Lady – at Miami Pop, 1968:

Hey Joe

Star Spangled Banner – live at Woodstock, 1969:

Purple Haze

Voodoo Child

Who are your favorite J bands or artists? Who would you have chosen to include here? Who did I forget??

G is for the Guess Who, Grand Funk Railroad, Gary Wright, Golden Earring, Genesis, George Harrison, Greg Kihn Band, Gordon Lightfoot and the Grateful Dead!

G

DISCLAIMER THAT APPEARS AT THE BEGINNING OF ALL A-Z 2015 PAGES:

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…

G is for the Guess Who – If you were to ask me, “Who is your favorite classic rock band?” and I could only choose one, I’m no doubt going to say the Guess Who. This Canadian band reigns supreme in my mind. The two most recognized members of the band, Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman, saw successes after the demise of the Guess Who in the mid-70s. Randy Bachman went on to form Bachman Turner Overdrive and Burton Cummings went solo.

I often wondered how the heck the Guess Who got their name. Well, it started as a publicity stunt really. The band was a local band formed in Winnipeg Manitoba, started by Chad Allen and called Al and the Silvertones. Then a few years later they changed the name to Chad Allen and the Reflections in 1962. In 1965 the band was forced to change to Chad Allen and the Expressions after an American band called the Reflections had a hit song. Chad Allen and the Expressions ended up with their first big hit, Shakin’ All Over. In an attempt to create some mystique around the record, the label, Quality Records, released the single and attributed it only to “Guess Who?” hoping that some listeners might suspect the mysterious identity was deliberately masking several famous performers working under a pseudonym (hoping that they perhaps would think it be someone major like the Beatles or other popular British Invasion bands).

Now here comes the part as to how the band got its name: It is debatable as to whether anyone was really fooled by the “Guess Who?” ruse, or if the record would have been a hit regardless of the artist credit. But the upshot was that, even after Quality Records revealed the band was “really” Chad Allan & The Expressions, disc jockeys still announced the group as Guess Who?, effectively forcing the band to rename themselves. Interesting, huh? I always wondered about their name because it was such an odd name. I’m glad that mystery is solved. Ya gotta love Wikipedia!

My favorite Guess Who album is the Live at the Paramount album (recorded at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre in 1972). I saw them much later at the After Dark, a great music venue in Lockport NY. The first song they played was actually my very favorite, Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon and I was the first one on the dance floor. My brother was there and being a big Guess Who fan too, I pulled him up on the floor and we were the only ones dancing. Then as soon as the song was over, the dance floor flooded to the point that no one could dance anymore so I was thrilled that I was able to dance to my favorite song, front and center with my favorite band!

I did want to post the entire greatest hits album but copyright infringement wouldn’t allow for it. But I’m going to do the next best thing: Posting every single song from the Best of the Guess Who album, as arranged on the album. This is one band and one album that I can play over and over and over…and over and over and over again! I’m not kidding: I never get sick of the Guess Who!  Hope you enjoy all these songs as much as I do:

These Eyes – 1968 performance:

Laughing – 1969 performance:

Undun – 1974 appearance on the Midnight Special:

Note: if you want to see the Guess Who in a 2000 reunion performing Laughing and Undun, go here; the embed code was disabled and unavailable but it’s worth a visit.

No Time – Love this song! (audio only; album still video):

American Woman

No Sugar Tonight

Hand Me Down World – I love singing this song! (montage video):

Bus Driver – fun song!

Share the Land

Do You Miss Me Darlin’ – a montage video:

Hang On to Your Life

G is for Grand Funk Railroad – If it’s one thing I regret it’s giving away all of my vinyl albums. Especially because I gave away the rare Grand Funk Railroad album that was pressed on gold vinyl. Oh man, how could I have been so stupid? I’ll tell you how. I was delirious with exhaustion and stress from moving. I was overwhelmed with packing and I just didn’t want to pack another thing so I started giving things away. I handed over, to a total stranger, no less, my HUGE box full of amazing albums. All those fabulous album covers and liner notes! Oh, it just makes me sick to my stomach when I think about it. Oh well. It is what it is. So let’s talk a little Grand Funk, shall we?

Let me set the stage with this very cool trivia tidbit: In 1971 Grand Funk Railroad sold out New York’s Shea Stadium faster than the Beatles did in 1966. Wowsa!

Grand Funk Railroad is an American blues rock band that was wildly popular in the ’70s. Another strange band name, Grand Funk name came from a twist and a play on words on the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, a railroad line that ran through the band’s hometown of Flint, Michigan.

The band’s first number one hit was We’re An American Band which got huge airplay. It’s a good song for sure, but my favorite Grand Funk song is I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home) from their “Closer to Home” album:

This promo film, owned by Capitol Records, shows a recording session, taping We’re An American Band: 

The band, all grown up, performing Some Kind of Wonderful: 

G is for Golden Earring – The next G band is one you probably haven’t thought of in a long time or you may not have heard of them even.  Golden Earring is a Dutch rock band and is best known for their two hits Radar Love and Twilight Zone.

Golden Earring celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2011 and have been performing almost continuously since their founding in 1961. Known for the powerful live performances, which I can attest to – I saw them when they opened up for Peter Frampton in Niagara Falls back in 1977 — they typically do 200 concerts each year, mainly in their Netherlands homeland and occasionally in Belgium, Germany and the UK.

Here they are performing their big US hit in 1973, Radar Love:

Although they were very popular in the Netherlands, they were unable to secure further chart success beyond Radar Love here in the U.S. until 1982’s Twilight Zone. The very interesting music video of the song, directed by Dick Maas, was one of the first rock videos played on the recently launched MTV in the United States, and helped the song to become a Top Ten hit.

 

G is for Gary Wright – Gary Wright is an American singer, songwriter and musician, best known for his 1976 hit songs “Dream Weaver” and “Love Is Alive”, and for his role in helping establish the synthesizer as a leading instrument in rock and pop music.

Here’s an interesting tidbit, found on Gary Wright’s Wikipedia page: “ In 2008, he voiced his support for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, during which “Dream Weaver” was a song adopted for the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. That year, Wright discussed the message behind “Dream Weaver” with Huffington Post writer and political activist Howie Klein, saying: “With Wayne’s World and all that, the perception of the song’s meaning got a little bit changed for a lot of people. It’s a very spiritual song. ‘Dream Weaver’ is really a song whose lyrical content is about the consciousness of the Universe: God moving us through the night – delusion and suffering – into the Higher Realms.”  Now that’s right up my alley!

My Love is Alive –  (a lyrics video):

Dreamweaver  –

G is for the Greg Kihn Band – The Greg Kihn Band is an American band that was started by frontman Greg Kihn and bassist Steve Wright. Their most successful singles include “The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em)” (Billboard Hot 100 #15) and “Jeopardy” (Billboard Hot 100 #2). I love The Breakup Song from the 1981 album Rockihnroll:

G is for Genesis – Let’s mellow out a little bit and explore some Genesis, the British rock band that formed in 1967. Most notable and recognizable band members, Phil Collins (vocals, drums) and Peter Gabriel (vocals, flute) went on to solo careers. Genesis’s musical style was very different and in fact was considered a “pop experiment” early on. Then beginning with their second album in the mid-70s, their style evolved into progressive rock when more elaborate instrumentation was incorporated into their music. This style and the exquisite talents of the band members worked together to bring us an abundance of powerful albums and amazing songs. According to Wikipedia, “their concerts became theatrical experiences with innovative stage design, pyrotechnics, extravagant costumes and on-stage stories.” In fact, Genesis was the first band to use Vari*Lite technology and the Prism sound system, all of which are now standard features of arena rock concerts.

Kick back and let the sounds of Genesis melt over you. I’m posting a few singles that are favorites of mine. If you want the full Genesis experience, check out their Greatest Hits Platinum Collection that has 39 songs –that’s nearly four hours of Genesis.

Ripples – music video (I think the performance you see in the video was from 1970 but the music video was made in 1976):

Squonk –  Live at the Lyceum 1980:

A Trick of the Tail:

Turn It On Again:

Paperlate:

Home By the Sea:

Throwing It All Away:

I Can’t Dance:

Misunderstanding:

G is for George Harrison – This man needs no introduction as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Although John Lennon and Paul McCartney were the primary songwriters of the group, each album always had at least one George Harrison composition.

Three of my all-time favorite songs are by George Harrison:

My Sweet Lord – his first single as a solo artist (1969); this studio version is a video of still shots of Harrison

While My Guitar Gently Weeps –

This next song is such a feel-good song: Here Comes the Sun – the video is of George Harrison playing with Ringo Starr at the Prince’s Trust in 1987; introduced by Elton John:

Something – this became the Beatles second-most covered song.

G is for Gordon Lightfoot – I’m going to end my G bands post with Gordon Lightfoot. He is a Canadian singer-songwriter who achieved international success in folk, folk-rock, and country music, and has been credited for helping define the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s. He has been referred to as Canada’s greatest songwriter and internationally as a folk-rock legend. Here’s a neat little tidbit of trivia, and it’s perfect for my G bands theme. From Wikipedia, The Canadian band The Guess Who recorded a song called “Lightfoot” on their 1968 album Wheatfield Soul; the lyrics contain many Lightfoot song titles.“

I’ve posted four Gordon Lightfoot songs.  These four singles are my favorites of his expansive array of songs. Enjoy. And remember, Into every life a little Gordon Lightfoot should fall…

Sundown – 1974 performance:

If You Could Read My Mind  from the Midnight Special 1974:

Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald:  I found this wonderful video on YouTube that is a tribute to the 29 men who died November 10, 1975 aboard the oil carrier called the Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior. The video starts with an actual news clip announcing the wreck, followed by the haunting song.

Rainy Day People:

G is for the Grateful Dead – I never was a big Grateful Dead fan but I know and understand their cult status. I couldn’t leave the G’s without at least paying homage to them:

Truckin’ –  performance at Civic Hall, Rotterdam, Holland 5/11/1972

Touch of Grey

Fire On the Mountain

Which artist did you like best in this post? Who are your favorite G bands? Who did I forget??