Monday’s Music Moves Me: Rock & Roll Head to Toe – Installment #3: FACE Songs (#4M)

Happy Monday! First let me start off by saying that I enjoyed being the May Co-Host for the Monday’s Music Moves Me blog hop. Thanks for participating in my themes. It was really cool to see what you all came up with for them. Crazy how many songs there were to fit those themes, huh? We all just scratched the surface in both!

Well you know me, I had to turn one of them into a series, right? So here we are with the third installment of the Rock & Roll Head to Toe body parts songs series. Starting at the top of the body, I’ve already explored Head songs and Hair songs. Today’s freebie post will be my FACE installment, featuring songs with the word FACE in the title.

As always, below is a playlist of my favorite FACE songs, and some others I discovered along the way that I really like. Below the playlist is some background info and fun facts on each of the songs presented. Read it all, just skim through it, read only about those songs you might be interested in or don’t read any of it…It’s all up to you. But be sure to hit Play on the playlist, There’s some really good stuff in there! Hope you enjoy.

My Face playlist:

 

Smiling Faces Sometimes by the Undisputed Truth – This one-hit-wonder is by far one of my all-time favorites and for sure my favorite in this list. “Smiling Faces Sometimes” is a soul song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for the Motown label. It was originally recorded by the Temptations in 1971. Producer Norman Whitfield had the song re-recorded by the Undisputed Truth the same year, resulting in a number-three Billboard Hot 100 position for the group. “Smiling Faces” was the only Top 40 single released by the Undisputed Truth, and was included on their debut album The Undisputed Truth. (That’s a cool name for a band. So fitting for the era. Does anyone know how they came up with the name? I couldn’t find anything on that).

The Undisputed Truth group was assembled by Norman Whitfield in 1970 in an effort to bring some new blood to Motown. The male singer in the group was Joe Harris, who had been in various groups in Detroit. The female singers were Brenda Joyce Evans and Billie Rae Calvin, who sang backup for Motown on tracks for The Supremes and The Four Tops. “Smiling Faces” ended up being the group’s only substantial hit. The group went through a number of lineup changes, appearing in various guises throughout the ’70s and ’80s.

As for the two versions of “Smiling Faces Sometimes” (the Temptations and the Undisputed Truth): Both versions deal with the same subject matter, “back-stabbing” friends who do their friends wrong behind their backs (“Smiling faces sometimes…they don’t tell the truth…smiling faces sometimes tell lies”), but in different ways. The Temptations’ original uses an arrangement similar to a haunted house film score to represent feelings of fear and timidness. Included on their 1971 Sky’s the Limit album, “Smiling Faces Sometimes” runs over 12 minutes, most of which is extended instrumental passages without any vocals. An edited version was planned as the Temptations’ summer 1971 single release, but this plan was dropped when lead vocalist Eddie Kendricks, frustrated by personnel problems within the group, quit the Temptations and signed a solo deal with Motown in March 1971.

Whitfield was known for recording dramatically different versions of the same song with different Motown artists [including Smokey Robinson & the Miracles’ “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (re-recorded as hit records for Gladys Knight & the Pips, and Marvin Gaye) and the Temptations’ “War” (re-recorded as a hit for Edwin Starr)]. After Kendricks left The Temptations, an undaunted Whitfield re-recorded the song with his latest protégés, psychedelic funk trio the Undisputed Truth. Billboard ranked the resulting single as the #14 song for 1971.

Whitfield later revisited the song for the 1973 album Ma, recorded by Motown’s white rock band, Rare Earth, which he produced and wrote. Whitfield may have been Motown’s most adventurous producer at the time but he was also kind of a snake from what I’ve read about him. That’s not atypical with a lot of music industry executives back in the day.

Per music artist biographer Richie Unterberger:

It’s fair to say that the Undisputed Truth were little more than a mouthpiece for Whitfield. He wrote most of their material (sometimes in association with Barrett Strong), and used their sessions as a laboratory to devise funk rhythms and psychedelic guitar effects. He was doing the same thing with the Temptations, and the Undisputed Truth’s records couldn’t help but suffer in comparison. As vocalists they weren’t in the same league as the Temps, and Whitfield was most likely reserving his real killer songs for the more famous group.

FUN FACT: The line, “can you dig it?” comes up a few times in this song. That was a popular saying at the time, used by The Friends of Distinction on their 1969 cover of Grazing In The Grass.

Have You Seen Her Face by the Byrds – “Have You Seen Her Face” is a song by the American rock band the Byrds, written by the group’s bass player Chris Hillman and included on their 1967 album Younger Than Yesterday.

I’ve Just Seen a Face by the Beatles – “I’ve Just Seen a Face” is a song by the Beatles. It was written by Paul McCartney and features McCartney on vocals. The song was recorded by the Beatles on June 14, 1965 at EMI Studios in London in the same session as “Yesterday” and “I’m Down”. It appeared on their 1965 UK album Help! In the US, “I’ve Just Seen a Face” was held back to be released on the Rubber Soul album, since the label wanted to give that album more acoustic numbers in keeping with the folk-rock fad popular at the time.

Before its recording, the song was briefly titled “Auntie Gin’s Theme” after McCartney’s father’s youngest sister, because it was one of her favorites.

McCartney has stated,

“It was slightly country and western from my point of view… it was faster, though, it was a strange uptempo thing. I was quite pleased with it. The lyric works; it keeps dragging you forward, it keeps pulling you to the next line, there’s an insistent quality to it that I liked.”

FUN FACT: It’s not often that a bass player writes a song with no bass guitar, but that was the case here. This is one of the few Beatles songs without a bass guitar.

My Brave Face by Paul McCartney – “My Brave Face” is a single from Paul McCartney’s 1989 album, Flowers in the Dirt. Written by McCartney and Elvis Costello, “My Brave Face” is one of the most popular songs from Flowers in the Dirt. It peaked at #18 in the United Kingdom a week after its debut, and #25 in the United States 7 weeks after its debut. It was McCartney’s last top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 until his 2014 collaboration with Kanye West, “Only One”, and as of 2017 is the last Billboard top 40 hit with any former Beatle in the lead credit.

Like other songs from Flowers in the Dirt, despite the song’s chart success, to date it has not been included on any McCartney compilation album.

FUN FACT: McCartney co-wrote this song with Elvis Costello. Elvis urged Paul to play his famous Hofner violin bass on the song, so Paul got it out of storage. Paul said it even had the set list still taped on it from the Beatles’ 1969 Apple “rooftop” concert. This inspired the music video of a Japanese collector stealing the now-priceless artifact.

I Don’t Wanna Face It by John Lennon – This song is on Milk and Honey, the sixth and final album by John Lennon and Yoko Ono released in 1984. Following the compilation The John Lennon Collection, it is Lennon’s eighth and final studio album, and the first posthumous release of new Lennon music, having been recorded in the last months of his life during and following the sessions for his 1980 album Double Fantasy. It was assembled by Yoko Ono in association with the Geffen label.

There is also an acoustic version of this song. The band version came out on the album “Milk and Honey”. Prior to bringing it to the studio to make it for his album he had done a great acoustic version, which you can hear below. [With everything that’s going on with my Mom right now, I am totally relating to the song title and the repeating lyric lines “I don’t wanna face it”…]

New Faces by The Rolling Stones – This song is from the Rolling Stones album Voodoo Lounge, released in July 1994. It is the 20th British and 22nd American studio album as their first new release under their new alliance with Virgin Records. It ended a five-year gap since their last studio album, Steel Wheels, in 1989. Voodoo Lounge is also the band’s first album without long-time bassist Bill Wyman. He left the band in early 1991, though the Stones did not formally announce the departure until 1993.

This song, although another Rolling Stones gem, received little or no radio air-play so many are not familiar with it.

My Fist Your Face by Aerosmith – “My Fist Your Face” is a song from hard rock band Aerosmith’s eighth album Done with Mirrors. It was the second track on the album and was released as a promo-only 12-inch single to US radio stations in 1985, the third promo-only single taken from the album.

Done with Mirrors, released November 4, 1985, marked the return to the band of guitarists Joe Perry, who had left in 1979, and Brad Whitford, who had left in 1981. As the band’s first album on Geffen Records, it was intended as their “comeback”. However, despite good reviews, it did not live up to commercial expectations.

On VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show, Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer expressed his dislike of Done with Mirrors, claiming that the band “never really finished it.”

Joe Perry was similarly dismissive:

Done with Mirrors, as far as I’m concerned, is our least inspired record. But I’ve heard fans really like it, so I’m not gonna stand there and tell ’em, ‘No, it sucks.’ We had to do that record to get to the next one, so it served its purpose. I just don’t think it’s up to the standard of some of our others.”

Viacom (MTV & VH1) executive Doug Herzog recalled that, after this album, “Aerosmith was done… They were a little bit of a joke.” However, they would revive their career in 1986 with a landmark remake of 1975’s “Walk This Way” with hip-hop group Run DMC, followed by an album that would eventually go 5× Platinum – Permanent Vacation – in 1987.

Despite the band’s views, the album earned mostly positive reviews, and is a cult favorite among fans.

FUN FACT: Regarding the title and the packaging: In keeping with the album’s title, all the text (bar the catalog number and UPC) on the original releases were written backward – to be read by holding it to a mirror. Re-releases flip the artwork so it can be read without a mirror, and add the band’s logo. As a result, the original CD (which came in a longbox) is collectable. (All text in the booklet of the first CD pressing is also backward.)

The title refers both to illusions that are “done with mirrors” and the laying out of drugs such as cocaine, traditionally snorted off a mirror.

 I Can’t See Your Face in My Mind by the Doors – This song is on the album Strange Days, the second studio album by American rock band the Doors, released on September 25, 1967 by Elektra Records. The album was a commercial success, reaching number 3 on the US Billboard 200, and eventually earning RIAA platinum certification. The album contains the Top 30 hit singles “People Are Strange” and “Love Me Two Times”.

Face to Face by Quiet Riot – “Face to Face” is on Quiet Riot II, the second studio album by heavy metal band Quiet Riot, released in 1978. As with their first album, it was a Japan-only release. Although Rudy Sarzo is pictured and credited, the recordings were made while bassist Kelly Garni was still in the band.

This is the last Quiet Riot album to feature guitarist Randy Rhoads, as he left the band the following year to join Ozzy Osbourne’s band.

Eyes Without a Face by Billy Idol – I had originally planned to use this song in the upcoming EYES installment but there are a ton of Eye songs so I decided to movie this Billy Idol “ballad” over to this FACE post.

“Eyes Without a Face” is a song by English rock musician Billy Idol, from his second album Rebel Yell (1983). It was released in 1984, as the second single from the album. The song is softer and more ballad-like than most of the album’s other singles. It reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Idol’s first Top 10 hit in the USA. The song is notable for the female voice of Perri Lister singing the French vocals. Perri Lister, also a dancer, is Idol’s girlfriend, and was part of a performance group called Hot Gossip. Lister appeared the video for this song and three others by Idol: “White Wedding,” “Rebel Yell” and “Hot In The City.” In this song she sings “Les yeux sans visage” (French for “Eyes without a face”) as a background chorus. The title of the song refers to the English title of French director Georges Franju’s 1960 film Les yeux sans visage.

An interesting song interpretation with contrasts & comparisons to the film (from Songfacts):

Les Yeux Sans Visage (Eyes Without a Face) is the title to a chillingly horrific yet classically poetic 1960 film from acclaimed French director Georges Franju. In it, a gifted plastic surgeon is involved in a near fatal auto accident which horribly disfigures the once beautiful face of his beloved daughter. Along with his assistant, he abducts young women so that he may surgically remove their facial features and graft their beauty onto that of his daughter’s grotesque countenance.

More than the typical Mad Scientist gore flick of the “horror” genre in movies, it deals with real humanistic themes rather than the loud crash and bang after a minute long string instrument is played in a high key. The arrogance, vanity, and what we ultimately come to realize, guilt of the father who now treats his daughter as a sort of porcelain doll with interchangeable parts. Though he supposedly loves her so, what he does in effect, is dehumanize her for the sake of his own personal redemption.

The song “Eyes Without a Face” uses similar imagery for effect. However, he tackles the concept of the modern romance and uses the same metaphors the movie used to show the absence of humanity and how cold and callous the modern world has grown to be. All that we (in the song’s case “we” have the role of the narrator) have endured getting here has made us like the doctor. While the daughter has become eyes without a face (she wears a mask a la Halloween’s Michael Myers and the only visible part of her face are her eyes), the doctor has become a face without eyes. He has blinded himself to the hideousness that he has involved himself, his family, and his poor victims in.

While the woman in the relationship in the Billy Idol song is “Eyes Without a Face,” the narrator has become the face without the eyes. Wrapped in guilt for what once was a perfect love, he must face his own pettiness and the fact that he has forever altered his partner and their relationship.

In a retrospective review of the single, AllMusic journalist Donald A. Guarisco praised the song and wrote: “The music plays against the dark tone of the lyrics with a ballad-styled melody comprised of yearning verses that slowly build emotion and a quietly wrenching chorus that relieves the emotional tension in a cathartic manner.”

FUN FACT: (Well, maybe not so fun): Idol’s memories of the music video are painful ones. The video was directed by David Mallet. Set in a hellish netherworld, the video begins with a verse-long shot of Idol’s face, which appears to be disembodied, illuminated by flames, and floating out of the dark towards the viewer. The second verse focuses on Idol having a violent fit while lying on his back and partially submerged in a shroud of white smoke. During the song’s bridge, the scene changes to Steve Stevens soloing on guitar while Idol poses dancing in a flaming hexagon surrounded by hooded acolytes. The video’s highly aggressive imagery, illustrated with sets that are accented by flame, shadow, and smoke, contrasts strongly with the relative slowness and restraint of the song.

The video was released in June 1984 and subsequently nominated for MTV Video Music Awards for “Best Editing” and “Best Cinematography”. It was shot over an exhausting three-day period on a set with fog machines, lighting, and fire sources. Immediately after the shoot, Idol flew to perform in Arizona, where he discovered that his contact lenses had fused to his eyeballs, attributing this to the harsh video shoot and dry plane air. He was taken to a hospital where the lenses were removed, his eyes bandaged for three days, and his scraped corneas grew back.

Yikes!

Face to Face by Gary Barlow with Elton John – This song finds Gary Barlow collaborating with Sir Elton John. It was released in the United Kingdom in January 2014 as the second single from his fourth solo album, Since I Saw You Last (2013).

The Take That star told MTV UK how he nabbed the Rocket Man for this duet. “I’ve been friends with Elton for quite a few years, probably 20 years actually, we’ve done stuff on stage together before but never on a record,” Barlow stated. “I’ve been looking for an excuse to do this song for years and years and I came up with ‘Face To Face’ at the end of last year.”

He continued: “I sent it to him and within like an hour, he called me back and said, ‘let’s do it, let’s go!’ So we went into Abbey Road for three hours one Monday afternoon and not only did we record the song but we shot the video at the same time.”

Following the commercial failure of Barlow’s second solo album, Twelve Months, Eleven Days, he was dropped from his label and deserted by former friends and colleagues. Elton was one of the few that stuck with him during his wilderness years and this glammy stomper song is a thank-you to the singer for sticking by him as well as a poke at those who treated like a pariah. “It’s a respect song,” Barlow told The Daily Telegraph. “I can count on the fingers of one hand the people who kept in touch with me when nobody else wanted to know me and he was one of them. I’ll never forget that.”

Before this, Gary Barlow first collaborated with Elton John in 1994 when he sang backup along with Kiki Dee and Rick Astley on the Your Song singer’s “Can You Feel The Love Tonight.”

Sea of Smiling Faces by The Bee Gees – This song is on the To Whom It May Concern album by the Bee Gees. Released in October 1972, it was the follow-up, and continued the melancholic and personal sound of its predecessor Trafalgar. The album was recognized as “a farewell to the old Bee Gees” as the album marked the end of an era for the group in several ways: it was their last album to be recorded solely at IBC Studios, in London, their last with conductor and arranger Bill Shepherd who had guided them since 1967, and their last under their first contract with Robert Stigwood. Some of the songs were old ones finished up or rewritten for the occasion (in the case of “I Can Bring Love”). To Whom It May Concern has sold approximately 350,000 copies worldwide.

Your Smiling Face by James Taylor – “Your Smiling Face” is a hit single by singer James Taylor. First available on the album JT, and released as the album’s sophomore single in September 1977, “Your Smiling Face” peaked at number 11 in Cash Box magazine and at 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 near year’s end. It reached number 11 on the RPM Top Singles chart in Canada. On Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart, it reached number 6.

Lines like “Isn’t it amazing a man like me can feel this way?” reflect Taylor’s surprise at his newfound happiness in his relationship with Carly Simon. This song, in which he lights up at the sight of a loved one, is definitely one of Taylor’s classics. At the time, he was married to Carly Simon, the obvious inspiration. Long after their 1983 divorce he told Charlie Rose: “It’s a celebration. A happy love song with a lot of energy to it.”

Taylor credits the piano player on the song, Clarence McDonald, for being a big part of the song’s success. When Taylor ran through the song, McDonald noticed a section with no vocals, which he filled with a little riff that Taylor called “that happy Munchkin song.”

Rolling Stone critic Peter Herbst described it as being “unabashedly happy”. However, according to Taylor biographer Timothy White, the song was written for Taylor’s and Simon’s then three-year-old daughter Sally, which differs from the most widely held belief. Taylor described his song as a “good, light-hearted pop love song.” Herbst praises Taylor’s vocal for being “a pretty convincing rock singer” on the song.

FUN FACT: “Your Smiling Face” was a fixture in Taylor’s live shows, but he had to abandon it for a while because he went through a period where he had difficulty reaching the falsetto notes. 

Can’t Feel My Face by Weeknd – “Can’t Feel My Face” is a song performed by Canadian singer The Weeknd from his second studio album Beauty Behind the Madness (2015). Critics lauded “Can’t Feel My Face”, comparing the sound of the song to the works of Michael Jackson; Rolling Stone ranked it as the best song of 2015. It was also nominated for two Grammy Awards: Record of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance. The song experienced commercial success, peaking at number one on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the Canadian Hot 100. The single has also peaked at number one in New Zealand, Denmark, Ireland and South Africa, and was a top 10 single in other territories, such as Australia, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom.

This song finds Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye describing a passionate affair with a woman that he knows is no good for him, but is enjoying too much to stop. His lyrics describing the numbing sensation of being in love are crooned over pop synths courtesy of Swedish pop songwriter Max Martin, who has previously worked with the likes of Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.

“I can’t feel my face” is a line from the 2001 movie Blow; Bobcat Goldthwait’s character says it after taking a bump of cocaine. (Blow is a pretty decent film starring Johnny Depp with a great soundtrack that I bought when it came out).

This led to rumors that the song is about cocaine, and there is ample evidence to back up the theory, as The Weeknd is clearly out of sorts over something that he knows isn’t good for him, but he can’t resist. Musically, the song is rather unpredictable, simulating the erratic feeling the drug induces.

The Weeknd goes through a range of emotions as this song progresses to the chorus. In the verses, he seems to have made peace with this relationship (“And she’ll always get the best of me the worst is yet to come”). In the pre-chorus, however, he is drawn back in, as she tells him not to worry, that she’s in this with him. Finally, he reaches the agony and the ecstasy of the chorus, where he can’t feel his face.

FUN FACT: Abel Tesfaye debuted the song at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote speech in San Francisco on June 8, 2015. The R&B singer took to the stage after it had been announced that Apple would be launching a new streaming service, called Apple Music, later that month.

God Put a Smile Upon Your Face by Coldplay – “God Put a Smile upon Your Face” is a song by British rock band Coldplay. It was written by all members of the band for their second studio album, A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002). The song is built around prominent acoustic and electric guitar riffs with accompanying up-tempo drumming. The song was released on July 14, 2003 as the fourth and final single from the album.

Coldplay vocalist Chris Martin said, about the writing of the song, “That came out of playing live and wanting to have something with a bit more bounce. We were really getting into things like PJ Harvey and Muse – things with a bit more energy.”

When asked about the development of the song, during a track-by-track reveal, bassist Guy Berryman said:

When we came to record it in the studio we struggled because there was something just not quite right about it and I wasn’t happy about where we’d left it and where we were happy to leave it and we couldn’t put our finger on what it was and so it was a really nice day one day, me and Chris were just trying, I was actually just trying to record bass at the time and me and Chris were just sitting down trying to brainstorm it and work out what was wrong and so I started trying to just do a few different bass lines and stuff. Between the two of us we came up with just this kind of groove, which stays on the same note as opposed to change, it’s quite technical but it kind of added a bit of bounce to the song and it made it roll along in a much more fluid way. It was a bit mechanical before and it’s just interesting how something small like that can really change the whole vibe of a song. It was just nice because from there on it was one of our favorite tracks and it almost didn’t get on the record but it’s now one of our favorite tracks.

The video for this song is quite disturbing. A businessman notices that his hands start to slowly disappear. He runs through the city streets in a panic and eventually collapses on the sidewalk alone. As the song ends, the man disappears completely and his clothes fall limp on the ground.

Face to Face by Daft Punk – “Face to Face” is a song by French electronic music duo Daft Punk, featuring vocals and co-production by American house music producer Todd Edwards. It was released as the fifth single from their 2001 album Discovery.

As part of Discovery, the song appears in the film Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, and the section of the film in which the song appears serves as its music video. The song topped the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart in 2004.

If you watch the playlist video, it’s a cool little production. I’m not a sci-fi/fantasy fan so I wasn’t familiar with the song or the movie from which the music video was derived but I found it to be pretty cool. Here’s some background on that:

“Face to Face” is featured in the 2003 animated film Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, which acts as a visual realization of Discovery. The film was directed by Kazuhisa Takenouchi under the visual supervision of Leiji Matsumoto. The “Face to Face” segment follows the aftermath of the extraterrestrial pop band The Crescendolls seemingly subduing the villain, Earl de Darkwood, at his Manor. Construction crews unearth the space vessel that had been piloted by Shep; he had rescued the band from enslavement and brainwashing by Darkwood, who had taken on the guise being of their manager. Police investigate the Record company the band had been signed to, and search every part of Darkwood Manor. A news report depicts montage scenes of an operation to send The Crescendolls back to their home planet using Shep’s ship. The report also explains the situation and shows that The Crescendolls were not the only group to have this happen to them. One of the band members, Octave is shown in a hospital having recovered from an earlier altercation with security guards at the Record company. As the band prepares to leave Earth, people wave goodbye to the band from all over the world.

Face to Face by Alabama – “Face to Face” is a song written by Randy Owen and recorded by American country music group Alabama. It was released in December 1987 as the second single from the album Just Us. “Face to Face” featured K.T. Oslin on guest vocals, although she was not credited, and was Alabama’s twenty-second number one on the country chart. The single went to number one for one week and spent fifteen weeks on the country chart.

FUN FACT: “Face to Face” is the only single released by Alabama to feature a female vocalist.

Shadow Face by Hank Williams, Jr – This is a good story song about being the son of the late great Hank Williams. It is from Born to Boogie, a studio album by Hank Williams, Jr. Released by Warner Bros. Records in July 1987, the album reached #1 on the Top Country Albums chart. Born to Boogie also won the Country Music Association Album of the Year award in 1988 and the title track earned Williams nominations for the ACM Top Male Vocalist, the CMA Male Vocalist of the Year and the Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack – “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” is a 1957 folk song written by British political singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl for Peggy Seeger, who later became his wife. At the time, the couple were lovers, although MacColl was still married to Joan Littlewood. Seeger sang the song when the duo performed in folk clubs around Britain. During the 1960s, it was recorded by various folk singers and became a major international hit for Roberta Flack in 1972, winning Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Billboard ranked it as the number one Hot 100 single of the year for 1972.

“The First Time Ever…” was indeed the breakout hit for Roberta Flack. How it all came about for her:

Flack knew the song from the Joe & Eddie version which appeared on that folk duo’s 1963 album Coast to Coast (as “The First Time”) after her singer friend Donal Leace brought it to her attention. Having taught the song to the young girls in the glee club at Banneker High School (Washington D.C.), Flack would regularly perform “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” in her set-list at the Pennsylvania Avenue club Mr Henry’s where Flack was hired as resident singer in 1968. In February 1969 Flack would record the song for her debut album First Take, her rendition of which was much slower paced than Seeger’s original (Flack’s take ran more than twice the two and a half minute length of Seeger’s). Flack would recall that while she made her studio recording of “The First Time…” she felt the loss of her pet cat; two days earlier she returned home to Washington D. C. from Detroit (where she had played her first non-local engagement) to find that her cat had passed away.

FUN FACT: Flack’s slow and sensual version was used by Clint Eastwood in his 1971 directorial film debut of Play Misty for Me to score a love scene featuring Eastwood and actress Donna Mills. Flack would recall how Eastwood, who had heard her version of “The First Time…” on his car radio while driving down the LA Freeway, phoned out of the blue to her Alexandria (Virginia) home: (Roberta Flack quote:)”[Eastwood said:] ‘I’d like to use your song in this movie…about a disc jockey [with] a lot of music in it. I’d use it in the only part of the movie where there’s absolute love.’ I said okay. We discussed the money.[Eastwood would pay $2000 to use Flack’s “The First Time…”] He said: ‘Anything else?’ And I said: ‘I want to do it over again. It’s too slow.’ He said: “No, its not.'”

After the Play Misty for Me film came out in 1971, the attention that Roberta Flack’s song garnered persuaded Atlantic Records to issue “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” as a single – trimmed by a minute – in February 1972. The track became a smash hit single in the United States, reaching No. 1 for six weeks on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts in the spring of 1972, with a No. 4 R&B chart peak. It reached No. 14 on the UK Singles Chart, and was No. 1 for three weeks on the singles chart in Canada’s RPM magazine.

Did you ever see this fabulous Clint Eastwood movie? I’m a huge movie buff and this one is a classic so I’m going to plug it here. Play Misty for Me is a 1971 American psychological thriller film, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, in his directorial debut. Jessica Walter and Donna Mills co-star. The original music score was composed by Dee Barton. In the film, Eastwood plays the role of a radio disc jockey being stalked by an obsessed female fan.

The film was a critical and financial success, with Walter earning praise for her first major film role.

This is a poster for Play Misty for Me. The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Universal Pictures, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist.
By Source, Fair use

ANOTHER FUN FACT: Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” was also played as the wake-up music on flight day 9 to the astronauts aboard Apollo 17, on their last day in Lunar orbit (Friday, 12/15/1972) before returning to earth, thus ending the first manned explorations of the Moon. The use of the song was most likely a reference to the “face” of the moon below the spacecraft.

Face in the Photograph by Yanni – Yanni was born November 14, 1954 in Kalamata, Greece. He displayed musical talent at a young age, playing the piano at the age of 6. His parents encouraged him to learn at his own pace and in his own way, without formal music training. The self-taught musician continues to use the “musical shorthand” that he developed as a child, rather than employing traditional musical notation.

He blends jazz, classical, soft rock, and world music to create predominantly instrumental works. Although this genre of music was not well suited for commercial pop radio and music television, Yanni received international recognition by producing concerts at historic monuments and by producing videos that were broadcast on public television. His breakthrough concert, Live at the Acropolis, yielded the second best-selling music concert video of all time.

At least sixteen of Yanni’s albums have peaked at No. 1 in Billboard’s “Top New Age Album” category, and two albums (Dare to Dream and In My Time) received Grammy Award nominations.

Yanni popularized the combination of electronic music synthesizers with a full scale symphony orchestra. He has employed musicians of various nationalities and has incorporated a variety of exotic instruments to create music that has been called an eclectic fusion of ethnic sounds. Influenced by his encounters with cultures around the world, Yanni has been called a “true global artist” and his music is said to reflect his “one world, one people” philosophy.

And a FACE playlist just wouldn’t be complete without including this classic hit:

Put On a Happy Face by Tony Bennett & James Taylor duet – “Put On A Happy Face” is a popular song with lyrics by Lee Adams and music by Charles Strouse. It was introduced by Dick Van Dyke in the 1963 musical Bye Bye Birdie. This duet is featured on Tony Bennett’s 2006 album Duets: An American Classic.

I’ll end this post with a clip of the iconic Dick Van Dyke singing “Put On a Happy Face” to the incomparable Janet Leigh in the movie Bye Bye Birdie:

 

That’s a wrap! Tell me, what are your favorite FACE songs? What songs would you include that aren’t in this playlist? Feel free to post the video of your favorite face song in your comment below. As always, thanks for checking out my 4M post today and I hope you’ll come back for the rest of the Rock & Roll Head to Toe body parts songs series (future installments will be on the freebie weeks each month).

And don’t forget: Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by Marie of X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by Cathy of Curious as a Cathy and Stacy of Stacy Uncorked and Colette of Jamerican Spice and Alana of Ramblin’ with AM. Be sure to stop by and visit the hosts and the other participants listed below:

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me – HEAVEN & HELL SONGS! (#4M, #MMMM)

HEAVEN & HELL

It’s Monday so that must mean this is a Monday’s Music Moves Me post. It is and what makes today’s 4M even more special (to me anyway) is because for this month of May I am the honorary co-host of the blog hop which means I get to come up with the month’s themes.

My earlier theme kicked off my Body Parts Songs Series (if you missed any of it you can check out the initial post introducing the ROCK & ROLL HEAD TO TOE Series with my post featuring Songs with the word HEAD in the Title or the second installment featuring Songs with the word HAIR in the Title. The series will continue with upcoming Freebie weeks).

But today is a brand new theme and I thought it might be fun to explore songs about Heaven or Hell (or songs with Heaven or Hell in the titles).

I bet you could come up with a bunch of songs that fit that bill. I certainly have my favorites that came to mind right away because they are part of the soundtrack of my life. But in compiling my list I stumbled across a bunch of unknown-to-me songs with Heaven or Hell (or both) in the titles. So I’ve put together a cool playlist combining my favorites with some new-to-me songs discovered along the way that I really like. Hope you all will like them too.

Let’s kick this party off with a group of MY FAVORITE HEAVEN AND HELL SONGS! The new-to-me songs are integrated in a way that hopefully provides a pleasing flow of the music. And, if you’re interested, you can read some info that I dug up: just basic information and a few fun facts that I learned about the songs and their artists. No need to read it all but it’s there for you if you want it. Now LET’S ROCK!

The Heaven & Hell Playlist songs and info:

If You Wanna Get to Heaven (You’ve Got to Raise a Little Hell) by Ozark Mountain Daredevils – The Ozark Mountain Daredevils are an American Southern rock/country rock band formed in 1972 in Springfield, Missouri. They are most widely known for their singles “If You Wanna Get To Heaven” in 1974 and “Jackie Blue” in 1975.

The “If You Wanna Get To Heaven” single is from their 1973 album The Ozark Mountain Daredevils. This is their debut single and it reached #25 on the U.S. Billboard chart. It was the band’s first hit and was typical of their sound. These Missouri boys sported long hair and a hell-raising attitude, which is the theme of this song: “If you want to get to heaven, you’ve got to raise a little hell.”

The music video in my playlist is a performance from an Old Grey Whistle Test appearance (OGWT was a British television music show). Recorded live at Shepherd’s Bush, London, March 26, 1976.

Hell’s Bells by AC/DC – “Hell’s Bells”, released in the Fall of 1980, is the second single from AC/DC’s seventh studio album Back in Black. “Hells Bells” is the first track of AC/DC’s first album without lead singer and co-songwriter Bon Scott, who died on February 19, 1980 after a night of heavy drinking. Brian Johnson is the lead singer who replaced Bon Scott.

The song begins with a bell slowly tolling four times, after which Angus Young starts playing the song’s main riff. Malcolm Young then joins in, followed by Phil Rudd on drums and Cliff Williams on bass. The bell tolls a total of 13 times during the song’s introduction.

A 2,000-pound cast bronze bell, made by John Taylor Bellfounders in Loughborough, Leicestershire, was used on the track. It is a replica of the Denison Bell in the Carillon Tower at the Loughborough War Museum. The band first attempted to record the actual Denison Bell, but that proved problematic due to disruptions by pigeons nesting in the tower. The AC/DC logo and the words “Hell’s Bell” are engraved on the replica.

In addition to the Back in Black album, the song also appears on Who Made Who, AC/DC’s 1986 soundtrack to the Stephen King movie Maximum Overdrive and on both versions of 1992’s AC/DC Live.

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan – “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” is a song written and sung by Bob Dylan, for the soundtrack of the 1973 film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Released as a single two months after the film’s release, it became a worldwide hit, reaching the Top 10 in several countries. In the US, it reached No.12 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The song became one of Dylan’s most popular and most covered post-1960s compositions, spawning covers from Guns N’ Roses, Eric Clapton, Randy Crawford and more.

Described by Dylan biographer, Clinton Heylin, as “an exercise in splendid simplicity”, the song features two verses, each of which represent the film’s title characters and American frontier legends Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.

NOTE: The video in my playlist is not Bob Dylan singing, but has some great photo shots of the great BD. You can find a Dylan rendition of this song at the end of the playlist.

Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers by ZZ Top – ZZ Top is a rock band formed in 1969 in Houston, Texas. The band currently consists of bassist and lead vocalist Dusty Hill, guitarist and lead vocalist Billy Gibbons (the band’s leader, main lyricist and musical arranger), and drummer Frank Beard.

“Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers”, one of my favorite ZZ Top songs, is on their Tres Hombres album. Tres Hombres (Spanish for “three men”) is ZZ Top’s third album released in 1973 and was the band’s commercial breakthrough. In the US, the album entered the top ten.

In a Songfacts interview with Billy Gibbons, he talked about the down-and-dirty honky tonk that inspired this song.

“On to a gig in Phoenix, we were driving through a West Texas windstorm. We, the band, were waiting to discover a place with some safe ground cover when the late-night lights of a roadside joint appeared. It was just across the line outside El Paso into New Mexico.

We ducked in quick and came face to face with our kind of folks… those soulful souls seeking solace, not only out of the dust and sand, but out of mind. What chance does one get better than that! We joined the gathering and started scribbling.”

Rock and Roll Heaven by the Righteous Brothers – I love this song! “Rock and Roll Heaven” is song written by Alan O’Day and Johnny Stevenson and popularized by The Righteous Brothers. It is a paean to several deceased singers such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Otis Redding, and has been rewritten a number of times to include other singers. The song was first recorded by the band Climax in 1973, but it failed to chart. It was then covered by The Righteous Brothers in 1974 and reached number three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

Musicians and songs mentioned in Righteous Brothers version:

“Jimi gave us rainbows” refers to Rainbow Bridge by Jimi Hendrix.

“Janis took a piece of our hearts” refers to the recording of “Piece of My Heart” by Big Brother and the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin.

“Otis brought us all to the dock of a bay” refers to “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding.

“Sing a song to light my fire, remember Jim that way” refers to “Light My Fire” by The Doors which featured Jim Morrison.

“Remember bad bad Leroy Brown, Hey Jimmy touched us with that song” refers to “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” by Jim Croce.

“Bobby gave us Mack the Knife” refers to Bobby Darin’s recording of “Mack the Knife”.

The lyrics involving Jim Croce and Bobby Darin replaced Climax’s lyrics for Buddy Holly (“Peggy Sue”) and Ritchie Valens (“Donna”), both of whom died in a plane crash that had already been commemorated by another hit song, Don McLean’s “American Pie.”

Also, in 1981, when the Righteous Brothers appeared for a one song reunion on American Bandstand, they performed “Rock and Roll Heaven”, and made it longer including new lyrics as tributes to Elvis Presley, John Lennon, and Keith Moon.

It was rewritten with new lyrics in 1991 to mourn the passing of Elvis Presley (Love Me Tender), John Lennon (Give Peace a Chance), Roy Orbison (Oh, Pretty Woman), Jackie Wilson (Higher and Higher), Ricky Nelson (Lonesome Town), Dennis Wilson (Good Vibrations), Marvin Gaye (What’s Going On), Sam Cooke (Wonderful World), Cass Elliot (Monday, Monday) who died a few months after the original version of the song was released, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. The rewritten song is included in compilation albums such as Reunion.

Fun Fact: A line from the lyrics of the song is used as the title for Stephen King’s short story “You Know They Got a Hell of a Band”, set in a town called Rock and Roll Heaven.

Highway to Hell by AC/DC – AC/DC is an Australian rock band, formed in 1973 by brothers Malcolm and Angus Young. A hard rock/blues rock band, they have also been considered a heavy metal band, although they have always dubbed their music simply “rock and roll.”

“Highway to Hell” is the opening track of AC/DC’s 1979 album Highway to Hell. It was initially released as a single in 1979. The song was written by Angus Young, Malcolm Young and Bon Scott, with Angus Young credited for writing the guitar riff which became an instant classic. AC/DC had made several studio albums before and were constantly promoting them via a grueling tour schedule. This schedule was referred to by Angus Young as being on a ‘highway to hell.’ The song’s title reflects the incredibly arduous nature of touring constantly and life on the road.

Bon Scott, whose talent as a singer and AC/DC’s frontman was at a peak, was found dead in the back of a friend’s car just over six months after the song was released.

Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin – “Stairway to Heaven” is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, released in late 1971. It was composed by guitarist Jimmy Page and vocalist Robert Plant for the band’s untitled fourth studio album (often called Led Zeppelin IV). It is often referred to as one of the greatest rock songs of all time.

The song has three sections, each one progressively increasing in tempo and volume. The song begins in a slow tempo with acoustic instruments (guitar and recorders) before introducing electric instruments. The final section is an uptempo hard rock arrangement highlighted by Page’s intricate guitar solo accompanying Plant’s vocals that end with the plaintive a cappella line: “And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.”

“Stairway to Heaven” was voted number three in 2000 by VH1 on its list of the 100 Greatest Rock Songs and was placed at number 31 on “Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. It was the most requested song on FM radio stations in the United States in the 1970s, , despite never having been commercially released as a single there. In November 2007, through download sales promoting Led Zeppelin’s Mothership release, “Stairway to Heaven” hit number 37 on the UK Singles Chart.

HEART PERFORMS STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN AS TRIBUTE TO LED ZEPPELIN AT KENNEDY CENTER HONORS:

In 2012, Heart performed the song in tribute to Led Zeppelin at the Kennedy Center Honors, during which Plant was visibly moved to tears. This performance was so well-received and popular that a limited edition single was released on the iTunes Music Store. When I saw Heart perform this classic to perfection, it absolutely gave me chills. If you have time, it’s really worth watching.

Note: I’m hearing that the video isn’t playing here in my post so here is a link direct to YouTube where you can watch this amazing tribute performance. If you’ve never seen it before, please take this opportunity to sit for just a few minutes. You will be in absolute awe. I swear, I can watch this performance over and over again and still get chills every single time!    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFxOaDeJmXk

Run Like Hell by Pink Floyd – “Run Like Hell” is a song by the English progressive rock band Pink Floyd, written by David Gilmour and Roger Waters. It appears on the album The Wall. It was released as a single in 1980, reaching #15 in the Canadian singles chart as well as #18 in Sweden.

The song is written from the narrative point of view of antihero Pink, an alienated and bitter rock star, during a hallucination in which he becomes a fascist dictator and turns a concert audience into an angry mob. The lyrics are explicitly threatening, directed at the listener, one with an “empty smile” and “hungry heart”, “dirty feelings” and a “guilty past”, “nerves in tatters” as “hammers batter down your door.” Even the act of sexual intercourse is doomed, for “if they catch you in the back seat trying to pick her locks”, the results will be fatal. Although the lyric “You better run like hell” appears twice in the liner notes, the title is never actually sung; each verse simply concludes with “You better run”.

Heaven by Bryan Adams – “Heaven” is a song by Canadian singer and songwriter Bryan Adams recorded in 1983, co-written by Adams and Jim Vallance. It first appeared on the A Night in Heaven soundtrack album the same year and was later included on Adams’ album Reckless in 1984. It was released as the third single from Reckless and reached number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in June 1985, over a year and a half after the song first appeared on record. The single was certified Gold in Canada in 1985.

Heavily influenced by Journey’s 1983 hit “Faithfully”, the song was written while Adams served as the opening act on that band’s Frontiers Tour, and features their drummer, Steve Smith. The song provided Adams with his first number one single and third top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was number 24 on Billboard magazine’s Top Pop Singles of 1985.

Hell or High Water by Passenger – I discovered Passenger last year sometime, either while working on a 4M post or a Battle of the Bands post, and was intrigued by his sound. When I saw that he had a song title that would fit in with this theme, I checked it out and now have another Passenger song that I really like. So who is the Passenger anyway?

Michael David Rosenberg (born May 17, 1984), better known by his stage name Passenger, is an English singer-songwriter and musician. Previously the main vocalist and songwriter of Passenger, Rosenberg opted to keep the band’s name for his solo work after the band dissolved in 2009.

“Hell or High Water” is the first track on Passenger’s ninth studio album, Runaway. Released in August 2018, the album peaked at number 6 on the UK Albums Chart. This song has some amazing violin.

Heaven Only Knows by Richard Marx – “Heaven Only Knows” is from Richard Marx’ self-titled debut studio album, released in June 1987.

FUN FACT:: Richard became the first male solo artist (and second solo artist overall – the first being Whitney Houston) in recording history to reach the top three of the Billboard Hot 100 with four singles from a debut album”

Hell is for Children by Pat Benatar – “Hell Is For Children” is a song by American rock singer Pat Benatar. It was written by guitarist Neil Giraldo, bass player Roger Capps and Benatar. The song is about child abuse and was recorded by Benatar in 1980 for her second studio album Crimes of Passion.

Pat Benatar started writing the song after reading a series of articles on child abuse in the New York Times. She was shocked to learn such things happen and wanted to write about it.

Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel by Tavares – “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel” is a disco song written by Freddie Perren and Keni St. Lewis. It was recorded by the American band Tavares (also known as The Tavares Brothers), an American R&B, funk, and soul music group in 1976. It was released as a single from the album Sky High!

“Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel” reached number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1976. It peaked at number 3 on the Hot Soul Singles chart. “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel”, with the track “Don’t Take Away the Music”, spent two weeks at number 1 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart. It became the group’s only Gold record.

The song would also afford the group an international chart hit, reaching number 1 in the Netherlands, and charting in Australia, Canada, the UK, and South Africa.

Gonna Raise Hell by Cheap Trick – “Gonna Raise Hell” is a song written by Rick Nielsen and originally released on Cheap Trick’s 1979 album Dream Police. The subject of “Gonna Raise Hell” has been disputed but composer Rick Nielsen claims that the song is about “religious, political and nuclear fanatics.”

FUN FACT: Controversy: It has been said that “Gonna Raise Hell” contains a hidden satanic message. Using back-masking, it was claimed you can hear, “You know Satan holds the key to the lock” when played backwards.

Heaven & Hell by Black Sabbath – “Heaven and Hell” is the title track to Black Sabbath’s ninth studio album of the same name, released in April 1980. The music was written mainly by Tony Iommi, but as with almost all Black Sabbath albums, credit is given to the entire band. The lyrics were written entirely by then newcomer Ronnie James Dio.

In an interview for VH1’s “Heavy: The Story of Metal”, Dio stated that the song is about the ability of each human being to choose between doing good and doing evil, essentially that each person has “heaven and hell” inside themselves.

Heaven on Earth by Boston – In case you aren’t already familiar with this band, Boston is an American rock band from Boston, Massachusetts, who had their most notable successes during the 1970s and 1980s. Centered on multi-instrumentalist founder and leader Tom Scholz, who played the majority of instruments on the debut album, the band is a staple of classic rock radio playlists.

“Heaven on Earth” is the opening track of Life, Love & Hope, Boston’s sixth studio album and their first studio set in eleven years. Released in December 2013, the songs on Life, Love & Hope were all meticulously recorded to analog tape on the same machines and equipment that have been used since Boston’s early tunes.

Tom Scholz, the founder and only remaining original member of the band Boston, is credited with all the instruments, harmony and backing vocals on the song.

Of the album’s style, Matt Wardlaw of Ultimate Classic Rock says “‘Life, Love & Hope’ carries remnants of those early days in its sound — which is unmistakable from the moment the soaring harmonies kick in on ‘Heaven on Earth,’ the album’s opening track and lead single. It provides a vintage moment on an album that otherwise contains quite a bit of exploration, both musically and sonically — something that we’ve come to expect from Tom Scholz when he’s working in the backroom on new Boston music.

Holding on to Hell by Gin Wigmore – Gin Wigmore is a singer and songwriter from New Zealand. She is known for her high-pitched and raspy voice. “Holding on to Hell” is a track from her 2015 Blood to Bone album.

Wigmore said regarding the song’s meaning: “It’s about holding onto the past and not wanting to let go.” Trust me, I know all about that one!

Heaven by Depeche Mode – “Heaven” is a song by English electronic music band Depeche Mode, released as the lead single from their thirteenth studio album, Delta Machine (2013). Written by Martin L. Gore and produced by Ben Hillier, the song was world-premiered on KROQ’s morning show Kevin and Bean on January 30, 2013.

In June 2013, the single was certified gold by the Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana (FIMI), denoting downloads exceeding 15,000 units in Italy. In the UK, by contrast, the single reached #60, the first initial single from a Depeche Mode album to fail to reach the UK Top 40.

The music video for “Heaven” was directed by Timothy Saccenti and filmed in November 2012 at The Marigny Opera House, a former Catholic church in New Orleans’s Faubourg Marigny. The video’s look was inspired by Terence Malick’s 2011 film The Tree of Life, with its beautiful yet twisted, dark imagery. “Mainly it’s a performance video, which we haven’t done in a long time”, said Dave Gahan, co-songwriter for Heaven’s B-side “All That’s Mine.”

Heaven and Hell by The Who – “Heaven and Hell” is a song by English rock band The Who written by group bassist John Entwistle. The studio version (originally recorded for an April 1970 BBC session), which appeared on the B-side of the live “Summertime Blues” single, is currently available only on the Thirty Years of Maximum R&B boxed set and Who’s Missing, though several live versions of the song exist on official releases. The song was one of many Entwistle B-side singles and one of his live staples.

The song’s lyrics talk of the places known as heaven and hell. The song describes heaven as “a place where you go if you’ve done nothing wrong.” And hell as “a place where you go if you’ve been a bad boy”

John Entwistle stated his stance on heaven and hell in an interview:

The last lyric ballot of the song: ‘Why can’t we have eternal life, And never die, Never die?’

“I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of Heaven and Hell. Not obsessed that it’s true, but just obsessed that it’s sort of legend, there’s such a person as the devil.

Heaven’s Wall by Bruce Springsteen – This out-and-out gospel rocker couched in Biblical language is most likely an outtake from Springsteen’s proposed gospel album, which he eventually scrapped for the more political Wrecking Ball. However, Springsteen felt it deserved a proper studio recording and gave the demo to producer Ron Aniello to play around. Aniello told Rolling Stone: “On ‘Heaven’s Wall’ we took the basic track and jumped on there with overdubs. That’s pretty much the original, vocal, drum and bass.”

High Hopes is the eighteenth studio album by American recording artist Bruce Springsteen, released January 14, 2014, on Columbia Records. The album was Springsteen’s 11th #1 album in the United States, placing him third all-time for most No. 1 albums only behind The Beatles and Jay-Z. It was his tenth No. 1 in the UK, putting him joint fifth all-time and level with The Rolling Stones and U2. Rolling Stone named it the second-best album of 2014 on their year-end list.

Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf – “Bat Out of Hell” is a song written by Jim Steinman, an American composer, lyricist, record producer and playwright, for the 1977 album Bat Out of Hell and performed by Meat Loaf. It was released as a single in 1979, and again in 1993.

Like all of Meat Loaf’s hits, this was written by pianist Jim Steinman. He said he wrote this to be the ultimate “Motorcycle crash song.” The lyrics refer to a rider being thrown off his bike in a wreck and his organs exposed:

And the last thing I see is my heart still beating

Breaking out of my body and flying away

Like a bat out of hell

Of course, the expression “bat out of hell” means real fast. The song was inspired by teenage tragedy songs such as “Leader of the Pack”, “Terry” and “Tell Laura I Love Her”, the latter being the first single Jim Steinman had ever bought. Steinman wanted to write the “most extreme crash song of all time”:

“There is something so thrilling to me about that operatic narrative that involves a cataclysmic event, especially one so perfectly in tune with a teenager’s world, and rock and roll, as a car or motorcycle crash.”

On a musical and thematic level, “Bat Out of Hell”, both single and album, are often compared to the work of Bruce Springsteen, particularly the Born to Run album, and especially the song “Thunder Road”. Steinman says that he finds that “puzzling, musically,” although they share influences. “Springsteen was more an inspiration than an influence.” A BBC article suggested, “…the fact that Max Weinberg and Roy Bittan from Springsteen’s E Street Band played on the album only helped reinforce the comparison.”

According to Meat Loaf, the song is “constructed from” a shot near the beginning of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho in which the viewer looks down a valley and sees the lights of a city. He says all the clients in the Bates Motel “wish they would have left like a bat out of hell… It had nothing to do, believe it or not, with Bruce Springsteen. It had to do with Alfred Hitchcock and Psycho.”

FUN FACT: The motorcycle sound in the middle of the song is producer Todd Rundgren on electric guitar. Todd hated the idea at first, but Steinman begged him until he did that and the subsequent solo in one take.

Heaven Is In Your Mind by Traffic – “Heaven Is In Your Mind” was written by Jim Capaldi (drummer), Steve Winwood (vocal frontman), and Chris Wood (saxophonist and flutist) of Traffic. It was released on their debut album Mr. Fantasy in 1967.

This song, with its trippy stereo channel shifts, wandering melody, and eccentric mixing, is a good example of early Traffic. Mr. Fantasy is widely regarded as their least mainstream effort; by their second eponymous album, they’d ironed out their rough edges and aimed more for mainstream psychedelic rock. Although the “psychedelic” part limited their success in the UK, they enjoyed better success in the US.

Music fans today don’t seem to recognize Traffic for the influential group that they were. For starters, Rolling Stone ranks Steve Winwood #33 in its 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Winwood has also been a member of the bands the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith, and Go, winning multiple Grammy awards in the process. Chris Wood, growing up in Birmingham, England, jammed with the likes of Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac, and Carl Palmer of Emerson, Lake & Palmer; he also played with Jimi Hendrix on Electric Ladyland. Jim Capaldi played and collaborated with such famous names as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and Carlos Santana. And singer/guitarist Dave Mason has played alongside Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Fleetwood Mac and Cass Elliot. That’s Winwood, Wood, Capaldi, and Mason of Traffic. If it happened in music in the ’60s-to-’80s, they were there.

What the Hell is Goin’ On by Elvin Bishop – I haven’t heard much about Elvin Bishop since his 1976 hit “Fooled Around and Fell In Love” which was one of my favorites back then and it still is. I came across this particular Elvin Bishop song researching the theme and liked it. So who is Elvin Richard Bishop? He was born October 21, 1942 and is an American blues and rock music singer, guitarist, bandleader, and songwriter. An original member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of that group in 2015 and the Blues Hall of Fame in his own right in 2016.

In 1968, Elvin Bishop left Butterfield’s band following the release of In My Own Dream. He launched a solo career and relocated to the San Francisco area, where he made frequent appearances at the Filmore with artists like Eric Clapton, B. B. King, Jimi Hendrix, and the Allman Brothers Band. He has released several records over the years, including the one that this song is on, Gettin’ My Groove Back, released in 2005 via Blind Pig Records (that’s a new one to me).

The Edge of Heaven by Wham! – “The Edge of Heaven” is a song by British pop duo Wham!, released on Epic Records in 1986. It was written by George Michael, one half of the duo, and was promoted in advance as Wham!’s farewell single, during their 1985 “Whamamerica” tour. With the known desire of George Michael to move into a more adult market, Wham! had announced in the spring of 1986 that Michael and his musical partner Andrew Ridgeley would go their separate ways after a farewell single, album and concert. The album was called The Final and the concert was held in front of 72,000 fans at London’s Wembley Stadium on Saturday 28 June 1986.

The single, a five-minute tale of emotional and physical frustration within a relationship, was a slick and upbeat — albeit harder-edged than earlier works — pop tune which became the fourth and final No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart and the final US Top Ten hit, reaching #10 for the duo. Elton John, a friend of Michael and Ridgeley, played piano on the track.

FUN FACT: Michael has said the lyrics to the song were “deliberately and overtly sexual, especially the first verse”. The reason for this, he says, was he thought no one would care “because no one listens to a Wham! lyric. It had got to that stage.” Yikes.

What the Hell Did I Say by Dierks Bentley – “What the Hell Did I Say” is a song co-written and recorded by country music artist Dierks Bentley. It was released in June 2017 as the fourth single from his 2016 album Black. This is the second collaboration by Bentley, Kear and Tompkins, following the highly successful No. 1 single “Drunk on a Plane”. However, unlike “Drunk”, this song underperformed and became the lowest charting single of Bentley’s career. Underperformed or not, I still really like it.

Something Happened on the Way to Heaven by Phil Collins – “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven” is a song performed by Phil Collins and released in 1990, from the album …But Seriously. The song reached the #4 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts that same year. A live performance of the song also appears on the Serious Hits… Live! album. The song was written by Phil Collins and Daryl Stuermer and was produced by Phil Collins and Hugh Padgham. The song was originally written for the movie War of the Roses.

The only time the title of the song is used is the second line of the third verse. The song is often identified by the recurring hook of “How many times can I say ‘I’m sorry’?”

Music Video: A dog is napping in a meadow, dreaming of being in a silent movie in which it saves a woman tied to a set of railroad tracks from being run over by a train. The opening of the song is heard faintly in the distance, coming from the open back door of a concert hall, and the dog wakes up and ventures inside. Here, Collins and his band do a sound check and then perform the song as the dog explores the facility, eating from the band’s buffet table, climbing among the catwalks, and sitting briefly at an unused keyboard and drum kit. These sequences are intercut with shots from the dog’s black-and-white perspective, including a brief dream in which it sits at a formal table loaded with food.

At two different times, the dog relieves itself onstage, first by defecating near one of the backing singers – only discovered when he steps in the resulting mess – then later by urinating on the bassist’s leg. The latter occurs near the end of the song, and the video ends after Collins smiles and wipes the bassist’s shoe with a towel.

You Gotta Go Through Hell by George Strait – This is one of two new songs that George Strait recorded for his Strait Out of the Box: Part 2 box set. The singer also penned the song with frequent collaborator Dean Dillon and his son, Bubba.

The song features the legendary session guitarist Brent Mason. After listening to the recording, Strait said it brought to mind “Bad Things” by Jace Everett, which is the theme song from the HBO show, True Blood. Said George about Brent: “…he’s an amazing guitar player and the guitar part – well, all of his guitar parts are amazing. He plays on a lot of my sessions and most everything that I do.”

Redneck Heaven by Billy Ray Cyrus – from Billy Ray Cyrus’ 1994 album Storm in the Heartland. Although the album produced a few hits, two of which entered the Hot Country charts, there was critical reception of the rest of it. I got a kick out of this critic’s comment: Giving it a “C”, Alanna Nash of Entertainment Weekly wrote that Cyrus “sticks to the tried-and-true” but added that “the yahoo factor figures heavily on ‘Redneck Heaven’…’ Cyrus misses his notes by a mile. An achy-breaky embarrassment.” Gotta love that last line, “an achy-breaky embarrassment.” haha

Heaven On Earth by Melissa Etheridge – “Heaven On Earth” is a track from Fearless Love, the eleventh studio album by American rock/pop musician Melissa Etheridge, released in April 2010. Etheridge said in an interview the album is “about being fearless. It’s about choosing love over fear. It’s a way, a philosophy of living life that suits me well.”

Fearless Love was widely viewed as Etheridge’s “return to rock” after a more introspective and blues-influenced album in The Awakening. I really like this song. What do you think of it? Are you a fan of Melissa Etheridge’s work? I definitely like her rock style best (surprise, right?).

Heaven Knows by Donna Summer – “Heaven Knows” is a song by American singer and songwriter Donna Summer, with guest vocals from Brooklyn Dreams released at the height of her fame during the 1970s disco era. It is adapted from the Live and More album where it is a part of the MacArthur Park Suite. It became a number 4 hit for Summer in the US the week of March 17, 1979, and held there for 3 weeks.

FUN FACT: A 1984 episode of Gimme a Break (remember that show??) features Nell Carter and guest star Ray Parker, Jr. performing a duet of the song.

FUN FACT: In 2013, following Donna Summer’s death, Nadia Ali (with Dave Audé) released a downtempo acoustic cover as a tribute:

Heaven by 3 Doors Down – By the American rock band 3 Doors Down, “Heaven” appears on the fifth studio album Time of My Life which was released in the summer of 2011. The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 and sold 59,800 copies in its first week of its release. The singles from the album included “When You’re Young”, “Every Time You Go”, “What’s Left”, “Back to Me”, and the title track “Time of My Life”. It is the last album to feature Matt Roberts before his departure from the band in 2012 and his death in 2016, as well as the last for Todd Harrell before he was arrested for vehicular homicide and fired from the band in 2013.

Wear Your Love Like Heaven by Peggy Lipton – We lost an iconic angel earlier this month when it was announced that Peggy Lipton died on Saturday May 11th. Diagnosed with colon cancer and treated in 2004, she ultimately succumbed to the disease. She was well known through her role as undercover hippie cop Julie Barnes in the counterculture television series The Mod Squad (1968–1973), for which she earned four Emmy nominations and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama in 1970. Her five-decade television, film, and stage career included many roles, including Norma Jennings in David Lynch’s surreal cult favorite, Twin Peaks.

I’m a huge Mod Squad fan and in fact have several seasons saved on a DVR. I had no idea she was a singer until I came across this song by her. She has a pretty voice. Very fitting for that flower child image that she has always carried.

FUN FACT:  Peggy Lipton was married to music producer Quincy Jones from 1974 to 1990. The couple had two daughters, Kidada Jones and Parks and Recreation actress Rashida Jones. After the Mod Squad series ended, Lipton went on to enjoy a singing career, with three of her singles hitting the Billboard charts, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton – “Tears in Heaven” is a song by Eric Clapton and Will Jennings. Its lyrics were inspired by the death of Clapton’s four-year-old son, Conor, who fell from a New York apartment building on March 20, 1991. It appeared on the soundtrack of the 1991 film Rush.

The song was Clapton’s best-selling single in the United States and reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100. It won three Grammy Awards for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year.

In August 1990, Clapton’s manager, two of his roadies and his friend and fellow musician Stevie Ray Vaughan were killed in a helicopter accident. On March 20, 1991, Clapton’s 4-year-old son Conor died after falling from the 53rd-floor window of a New York City apartment belonging to Conor’s mother’s friend.

After isolating himself for a period, Clapton began working again, writing music for the film Rush (1991). He dealt with the grief of his son’s death by cowriting “Tears in Heaven” for the soundtrack with Will Jennings. In an interview with Sue Lawley in 1992, Clapton said of the song, “There is a song that I’ve written for a movie, but in actual fact it was in the back of my head but it didn’t really have a reason for being until I was scoring this movie which I did a little while ago and then it sort of had a reason to be. And it is a little ambiguous because it could be taken to be about Conor but it also is meant to be part of the film.”

In an interview with Daphne Barak, Clapton stated “I almost subconsciously used music for myself as a healing agent, and lo and behold, it worked… I have got a great deal of happiness and a great deal of healing from music.”

Fast-forward a few years: Clapton made numerous public service announcements to raise awareness for childproofing windows and staircases. Clapton stopped performing “Tears in Heaven” in 2004, (as well as the song “My Father’s Eyes”), stating: “I didn’t feel the loss any more, which is so much a part of performing those songs. I really have to connect with the feelings that were there when I wrote them. They’re kind of gone and I really don’t want them to come back, particularly. My life is different now. They probably just need a rest and maybe I’ll introduce them for a much more detached point of view.”

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan – And finally, the real Bob Dylan singing his fabulous song. Enjoy!

So that’s a wrap with my Heaven and Hell songs. I hope some of these brought back memories for you, like so many of them do for me. As well I hope some of these songs are new to you and that you like them. I almost want to say that there are countless Heaven and Hell songs out there but of course that’s not true. But there sure are a ton of them. The ones I presented here are one that played a vital role in my own personal life soundtrack or ones that I discovered and like.

Tell me, what are your favorite Heaven and Hell songs?

And don’t forget: Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by Marie of X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by Cathy of Curious as a Cathy and Stacy of Stacy Uncorked and Colette of Jamerican Spice and Alana of Ramblin’ with AM. Be sure to stop by and visit the hosts and the other participants listed below:

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me – The 2nd Installment in my ROCK & ROLL HEAD TO TOE Body Parts Songs Series (#4M, #MMMM)

It’s Monday and you know what that means: MUSIC! It’s time for the Monday’s Music Moves Me blog hop where a bunch of us bloggers come together each week to celebrate our love of music and share it with others. This week is a Freebie meaning we all can present whatever we want in our 4M posts. I’m taking advantage of this freebie to continue what I started with last week’s theme of Songs with Body Parts in the Title.

My Rock & Roll Head to Toe series kicked off last week with a logical place to start, the Head. But what’s even more top of mind than the head is what’s on top of the head (for most folks anyway)…and that’s HAIR. So HAIR is where the second installment in the body parts series is going to take you, on a musical ride through songs with the word HAIR in the title (well, there may be a few exceptions).

Here are ten of my favorite HAIR songs, plus a few (three) I discovered along the way that are quite a departure from my typical music choices, but I think you’ll like them just the same. Below is some background information and interesting tidbits on the various songs included in my playlist, plus a few surprises so be sure to scroll down.

Up first is by far my most favorite Hair song:

Hair of the Dog by Nazareth – “Hair of the Dog” is the title track of Nazareth’s 1975 album Hair of the Dog. It is sometimes called “Son of a Bitch” because of the repeated lyric in the hook (“Now you’re messing with a son of a bitch”). The song is about a charming and manipulative woman who can get men to acquiesce to her every need. The singer is letting her know that she has met her match in him, a self-described “son of a bitch.”

“Hair of the Dog” uses a talk box extensively during its bridge. The song’s title, which does not appear in the lyrics, is a pun (“hair of the dog” = “heir of the dog” = “son of a bitch”).

As a standalone song, it only charted in Germany, where it peaked at #44. In the United States, because the Hair of the Dog album was a top-20 hit on the album charts, the song received extensive airplay on album-oriented rock stations (despite “bitch” being a borderline profanity) and remains in the playlist of most classic rock formatted stations. In the USA, it was released as the B-Side of Love Hurts.

Almost Cut My Hair by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (CSNY) – “Almost Cut My Hair” is a song by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, originally released on the band’s 1970 album Déjà Vu, the second album by trio Crosby, Stills & Nash, and their first as a quartet with Neil Young.

The song describes a real-life dilemma faced by many hippies: whether to cut one’s hair to a more practical length, or leave it long as a symbol of rebellion. It was written by David Crosby, and features solo vocals by Crosby, with the rest of the band joining in on instruments rather than on vocal harmony, as in many of their other songs. Unlike most of the tracks on Déja Vu, the quartet and their studio musicians, Dallas Taylor (drums) and Greg Reeves (bass), all recorded it at the same place and time. It was one of only two songs from the album that Neil Young joined in on, despite not writing.

Although the notion of long hair as a “freak flag” appeared earlier, notably in a 1967 Jimi Hendrix song “If 6 Was 9”, Crosby’s song has been credited with popularizing the idea of long hair as a deliberate and visible symbol of the wearer’s affiliation with the counterculture, and opposition to establishment values. The song also writes about the singer’s “paranoia” at seeing the police; James Perone writes that, “more than any other song of the entire era”, it “captures the extent to which the divisiveness in American society … had boiled over into violence and terror.” [Nearly 50 years later and as a nation we’re more divisive than ever].

“Almost Cut My Hair” became one of Crosby’s signature songs, and “probably his most important political song”. Crosby himself stated “It was the most juvenile set of lyrics I’ve ever written … but it has a certain emotional impact, there’s no question about that.”

Of this song, Neil Young called this “Crosby at what I think is his best.”

San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair) by Scott McKenzie – “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” is an American pop music song, written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, and sung by Scott McKenzie. The song was produced and released in May 1967 by Phillips and Lou Adler, who used it to promote their Monterey International Pop Music Festival held in June of that year.

John Phillips played guitar on the recording and session musician Gary L. Coleman played orchestra bells and chimes. The bass line of the song was supplied by session musician Joe Osborn. Hal Blaine played drums. The song became one of the best-selling singles of the 1960s in the world, reaching the fourth position on the US charts and the number one spot on the UK charts. In Ireland, the song was number one for one week, in New Zealand the song spent five weeks at number one, and in Germany it was six weeks at number one.

McKenzie’s version of the song has been called “the unofficial anthem of the counterculture movement of the 1960s, including the HippieAnti-Vietnam War and Flower power movements.”

Fun Fact: The Bee Gees song “Massachusetts” is a reaction to this song. The Bee Gees’ song is about someone who has been to San Francisco but is now homesick for Massachusetts. Check it out:

Hair by the cast of Hair – “Hair” is the title song to the 1968 musical Hair and the 1979 film adaptation of the musical. Of the musical, Wikipedia says:

“Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” is a rock musical with a book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot. A product of the hippie counterculture and sexual revolution of the late 1960s, several of its songs became anthems of the anti-Vietnam War peace movement. The musical’s profanity, its depiction of the use of illegal drugs, its treatment of sexuality, its irreverence for the American flag, and its nude scene caused much comment and controversy. The musical broke new ground in musical theatre by defining the genre of “rock musical”, using a racially integrated cast, and inviting the audience onstage for a “Be-In” finale.

Hair tells the story of the “tribe”, a group of politically active, long-haired hippies of the “Age of Aquarius” living a bohemian life in New York City and fighting against conscription into the Vietnam War. Claude, his good friend Berger, their roommate Sheila and their friends struggle to balance their young lives, loves, and the sexual revolution with their rebellion against the war and their conservative parents and society. Ultimately, Claude must decide whether to resist the draft as his friends have done, or to succumb to the pressures of his parents (and conservative America) to serve in Vietnam, compromising his pacifist principles and risking his life.

After an off-Broadway debut on October 17, 1967, at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater and a subsequent run at the Cheetah nightclub from December 1967 through January 1968, the show opened on Broadway in April 1968 and ran for 1,750 performances. Simultaneous productions in cities across the United States and Europe followed shortly thereafter, including a successful London production that ran for 1,997 performances. Since then, numerous productions have been staged around the world, spawning dozens of recordings of the musical, including the 3 million-selling original Broadway cast recording. Some of the songs from its score became Top 10 hits, and a feature film adaptation was released in 1979. A Broadway revival opened in 2009, earning strong reviews and winning the Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for Best Revival of a Musical. In 2008, Time wrote, “Today Hair seems, if anything, more daring than ever.”

The video in my playlist is the cast of the 2009 Broadway revival of the musical HAIR, performing the number “Hair” live at the 2009 Tony Awards. (If you’re into this musical, YouTube has tons of different casts performing the musical’s hits over the decades, including the original 1969 cast performing at that year’s Tony Awards (very different from the one presented in my playlist above) and London troupes as well).

Many of you will also be familiar with the cover version by The Cowsills, an American singing group from Newport, Rhode Island, comprised of six siblings noted for performing professionally and singing harmonies at an early age, later with their mother. The song was a major hit for the Cowsills in 1969 and their most successful single. (The Cowsills version cuts out most of the religion-themed lyrics, changing “long as God can grow it” to “long as I can grow it” and removing some verses.) Their version spent two weeks at number one on the Cash Box Top 100 and reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100. “Hair” was kept out of the number one spot by another song from the Hair cast album: “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” by The 5th Dimension. It also reached number one on the RPM Canadian Singles Chart.

Here are The Cowsills in 1969 performing the song for The Wonderful World of Pizzazz television special (air date March 18, 1969).

Sister Golden Hair by America – “Sister Golden Hair” is a song written by Gerry Beckley and recorded by the band America 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 one week. The lyrics were largely inspired by the works of Jackson Browne. Say’s Beckley: ”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

Fun Fact: This song was used in a bloody scene in the 2001 episode of the TV series The Sopranos, “Another Toothpick.” After mobster Bobby Bacala Sr. 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.

(I was a big Sopranos fan and remember seeing this episode, and this particular scene. Did you see the episode and what went down before this clip?)

The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair by Led Zeppelin – “The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair” (also known as “The Girl I Love”) is a song performed by English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was recorded by the BBC on June 16, 1969 for Chris Grant’s Tasty Pop Sundae show during the band’s UK Tour of Summer 1969 and was broadcast on June 22, 1969. The song was later included on the live Led Zeppelin album BBC Sessions, released in 1997. It is the only known performance of the song by the band.

The lyrics in the first verse are an adaptation of the 1929 blues recording “The Girl I Love She Got Long Curley Hair” by Sleepy John Estes. The 2016 remastered edition of The Complete BBC Sessions includes “Contains interpolations from “Let Me Love You Baby” by Willie Dixon [and] “Travelling Riverside” by Robert Johnson” in the credits for the song

Cut My Hair by The Who – “Cut My Hair” is on The Who’s sixth studio album Quadrophenia, released as a double album in October 1973. It is the group’s second rock opera. Set in London and Brighton in 1965, the story follows a young mod named Jimmy and his search for self-worth and importance. Quadrophenia is the only Who album entirely composed by guitarist and lead songwriter Pete Townshend.

Fun Facts & Background: 1972 was the least active year for the Who since they had formed. The group had achieved great commercial and critical success with the albums Tommy and Who’s Next, but were struggling to come up with a suitable follow-up.

Townshend became inspired by “Rock Is Dead—Long Live Rock”, the title of The Who’s unreleased 1972 autobiographical album and in autumn that year began writing material, while the group put out unreleased recordings including “Join Together” and “Relay” to keep themselves in the public eye. In the meantime, bassist John Entwistle released his second solo album, Whistle Rymes, singer Roger Daltrey worked on solo material, and Keith Moon featured as a drummer in the film That’ll Be The Day.

Townshend had met up with “Irish” Jack Lyons, one of the original Who fans, which gave him the idea of writing a piece that would look back on the group’s history and its audience. He created the character of Jimmy from an amalgamation of six early fans of the group, including Lyons, and gave the character a four-way split personality, which led to the album’s title (a play on schizophrenia). Unlike other Who albums, Townshend insisted on composing the entire work, though he purposefully made the initial demos sparse and incomplete so the other group members could contribute to the finished arrangement.

In the liner notes for the Who’s 1974 rarities collection Odds & Sods, Townshend said, “I had an idea once for a new album about the history of The Who called “Rock Is Dead—Long Live Rock.” That idea later blossomed into Quadrophenia.”

Interesting stuff, yeah?

Next up are two good covers by two really good “hair bands”:

Hair of the Dog – Guns ‘n Roses do a cover of the classic Nazareth song

Almost Cut My Hair – a cover of CSNY’s song by Queensryche

This next song almost counts as fitting the theme. The word hair isn’t in the title but it is in the lyrics. …”I’ve lost a few more hairs, I think I’m going bald…”

I Think I’m Going Bald by Rush – This song is on Caress of Steel, the third studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released in 1975. The album showcases the band’s continued evolution to hard progressive rock as opposed to the blues-based hard rock style of the band’s first album.

“I Think I’m Going Bald” was written for Canadian rocker Kim Mitchell, who at the time was frontman of the band Max Webster and a close friend of the members of Rush. According to the book Contents Under Pressure, it was also inspired by the song “Goin’ Blind” by Kiss, whom Rush had frequently been an opening act for in their earlier years.

Now for a bit of a jarring juxtaposition: How about we finish out with a few old-timers. Anyone remember these? (All three of these songs have made me cry while putting this post together, I think primarily because of my current emotional state and from being smacked hard by the reality of what aging truly looks like and how cruel time can be to one’s body, mind and spirit. God help us all!)

You Comb Her Hair by George Jones – “You Comb Her Hair” is a song by George Jones. It was released as a single in 1963 and reached #5 on the Billboard country singles chart. Written by Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard, the song is an ode of love and devotion from a father to his daughter, and was typical of Jones’s releases during this period. In a 1994 article by Nick Tosches for the Texas Monthly, Jones confessed that he regarded the early sixties as his finest period, stating, “We did a lot of the pure country then.” Johnny Cash recorded the song for his 1966 album Happiness Is You.

That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine by The Everly Brothers – “That Silver-Haired Daddy Of Mine” was the first hit song of American cowboy entertainer Gene Autry, a duet with fellow railroad man, Jimmy Long, which Autry and Long co-wrote. Written and recorded in 1931, the single achieved greatest popularity in 1935 on Vocalion 02991, selling 5 million copies. It was featured in the 1935 Western films Tumbling Tumbleweeds and The Phantom Empire.

The lyrics are addressed to the elderly father of the narrator; they wish to repay him for the trouble they have caused him.

The song was covered by The Everly Brothers on their 1958 album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us and by Simon & Garfunkel on their albums Old Friends and Live 1969.

FUN FACT: On the children’s show, Sesame Street, Herry Monster sings a song called “Furry Blue Mommy of Mine”, which shows just how much he appreciates and loves his mother. This song is a parody of “That Silver Haired-Daddy of Mine”.

Snow In His Hair by Johnny Cash“Snow In His Hair” appeared for the first time on Hymns by Johnny Cash, the fifth album and first gospel album of Johnny Cash. The album was produced in 1958 and was then officially released in 1959. Cash said he left Sun Records because Sam Phillips wouldn’t let him record the gospel songs he’d grown up with. Columbia Records promised him to release an occasional gospel album; this was a success for him to record. This album was Cash’s first and most popular gospel album, and is an example of traditional hymns set to country gospel music. The album was recorded simultaneously with The Fabulous Johnny Cash.

Well, that’s a wrap for this one. Were any of your favorite Hair songs included above? What others can you think of? (there are TONS!)

Thanks for hanging out with me here. Rock on and May you all have great hair days this week…

And don’t forget: Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by Marie of X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by Cathy of Curious as a Cathy and Stacy of Stacy Uncorked and Colette of Jamerican Spice and Alana of Ramblin’ with AM. Be sure to stop by and visit the hosts and the other participants listed below:

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me: ROCK & ROLL HEAD TO TOE! (#4M #MMMM)

It’s Monday and that means it’s time for MUSIC! Even more cool for me is that I’m this month’s Honorary Co-Host for Monday’s Music Moves Me blog-hop and I picked this week’s theme: Songs with Body Parts in the Title (or Songs About Body Parts).

You know I’ve been out of the game for a little while. But I haven’t lost my love of doing a 4M Series. Surprise, surprise, right? I know, quit rolling your eyes. This will be fun. I hope. When I picked this theme I had no idea there were so many dang song titles that included body parts! Well, you know me, I just couldn’t do this theme justice without exploring the entire body.

So let’s get busy with the music portion of our program and kick off the

ROCK & ROLL HEAD TO TOE SERIES!

with the initial installment: SONGS WITH HEAD IN THE TITLE.

Note: Of course most of the series will be rock (mainly in the Classic Rock genre) but there may be a few other genres making an appearance here or there over the coming weeks.

The following playlist features some of my favorite HEAD songs.

Hold Your Head Up by Argent

Head Games by Foreigner

Can’t Get It Out of My Head by ELO

Going Out of My Head by Little Anthony & the Imperials

Head Over Heels by Tears for Fears

Head Over Heels by the Go-Go’s

Head Over Feet by Alanis Morrisette

Over My Head by Fleetwood Mac

Reefer Headed Woman by Aerosmith

High Head Blues by the Black Crowes

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose by Ratt

Headlong by Queen

My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink and I Don’t Love Jesus by Jimmy Buffet

Voice In My Head by the Dixie Chicks

The Whole World Lost Its Head by the Go-Go’s

World Inside My Head by Sister Hazel

Head Above Water by Hall & Oates (Daryl Hall & John Oates)

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head by B.J. Thomas

Hard-Headed Woman by Cat Stevens

Ain’t That a Kick in the Head by Dean Martin

Heads Carolina, Tails California by Jo Dee Messina

Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner by Warren Zevon

I Hung My Head by Johnny Cash

I Hung My Head by Sting

I hope you enjoy my HEAD playlist. What are your favorite HEAD songs?

I’ll continue with other body parts over the next few freebie posts.

Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by Marie of X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by Cathy of Curious as a Cathy and Stacy of Stacy Uncorked and Colette of Jamerican Spice and Alana of Ramblin’ with AM. Be sure to stop by and visit the hosts and the other participants listed below:

 

 

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me – A Kaleidoscope of Color Songs Series comes to an end with the BLUE Edition, PART 2!

It’s a Freebie for today’s Monday’s Music Moves Me and believe it or not, we are coming to the end (well, almost) of my Kaleidoscope of Color Songs Series with the final color being BLUE. This series has focused on songs with colors in the title and every color has been highlighted. If you missed any and would like to check them out, I have a page of links to the various editions.

Because there were so many songs that I like with the color Blue in the title, I broke this edition into two parts. This is the BLUE Edition, PART 2. (If you missed Part 1, you can check it out here…and I highly encourage you to as there are some kickass blue songs in that group!). Today’s BLUE PART 2 has a number of fabulous blue songs too. Here is my playlist, followed by some interesting info on each of the blue songs featured. ENJOY!

Blue Money by Van Morrison – “Blue Money” is a song written by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. It was the second of two Top Forty hits from his 1970 album, His Band and the Street Choir (the other being “Domino”), reaching #23 on the US charts. The US single featured “Sweet Thing”, from the album Astral Weeks, as the B-side. It was released as a single in the UK in June 1971 with a different B-side, “Call Me Up in Dreamland”. The song became Morrison’s third best-selling single of the 1970s, remaining on the charts for three months.

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Critical response to the song: Robert Christgau, writing in the Village Voice in 1971, described “Blue Money” and “Domino” as “superb examples of Morrison’s loose, allusive white R&B.” Writer M. Mark described it as “a pun-filled song about time and cash.” Biographer Brian Hinton compared the song’s sound to Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames—”boozy horns and a nonsensical chorus.” Maury Dean (musician, professor and author of “The Rock Revolution” which is in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame and the Smithsonian) also praises the song’s “snarly, snappity sounds” and Morrison’s “jazzy baritone.”

The lyrics have the singer promising his girl that they will paint the town together with her “blue money.” Critic Maury Dean states that the theme picks up from Lefty Frizzell’s 1950 #1 song “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time.” In a 1972 Rolling Stone interview with John Grissim Jr., Morrison commented about the popularity of “Blue Money” in cities like Boston and New York: “Out here I get asked to play ‘Blue Money’ all the time. All the kids love it, the kids in the street. It’s their favorite number.”

What is “blue money”? According to one source I found online: “Blue Money” is a song written and recorded by Van Morrison in 1970. What Blue Money refers to in the song, and in most uses of the term, is money earned from salacious or racy photographs and images. So, in the Van Morrison song, when he sings “The photographer smiles, take a break for a while, do your very best… when this is all over, we’ll be in clover, and we’ll go out and spend all of your Blue Money,” he’s watching his woman have naked or nearly naked pictures taken of her and is looking forward to spending what she makes- the aforementioned Blue Money!”

Hmm. I never thought it was that! Although I can see the tie-in with the lyrics referencing the photographer. Though I always assumed it meant rich-kid/trust-fund kid money, like that from a blue blood. Here’s another definition of blue money:

Blue Money. Slang; money that a person or business spends with poor management or accountability.

So what do you think Van Morrison is referring to, this “blue money”??

Blue Collar Man by Styx – “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” is the first single that Styx released from the 1978 album Pieces of Eight. The song reached No. 21 in the United States, and spent two weeks at No. 9 on the Canada RPM Top 100 Singles chart.

This song tells the story of a man who is sick of being mocked for being jobless. He tries to get a job and when he is denied, he tries to persuade people into hiring him.

Styx guitarist Tommy Shaw wrote this song and sang the lead vocals. It’s a good example of his songwriting philosophy, which is to write songs people can relate to and enjoy.

This is one of the songs Styx plays at just about every concert. On their 2011 tour, it was their opening number, as with unemployment in the United States over 9%, the song was more relevant than ever.

Tommy Shaw came up with the guitar riff after a pot-fueled deep sea fishing trip. He explained to The A/V Club that their cab driver gave them some potent weed on the way to the boat, which put them in a daze. Says Shaw:

“When we booked this fishing boat, we said, ‘We are going to be partying. Because we just finished this tour, and we have a cooler and drinks, and I hope you don’t mind if we party.’ Well, we smoked this pot, and by the time we got on the boat, we were paralyzed. We were, like, stone quiet for the first hour and a half. We finally started coming around a little bit and told [the boat owner] what happened. He’s like, ‘I wondered what happened to you guys, because you said there was going to be this big party, and you guys haven’t said a word.’ We’re all sitting there in this daze from this pot, and the boat was making this sound: ‘mmm mmm mmm.’ You are moving slowly when you are trolling through the water. The engines are at really low RPMs. The sound just sort of tattooed itself onto my psyche. And when I got back to the room, I got the acoustic guitar and wrote the music to ‘Blue Collar Man.'”

Lol. I can understand that happeneing…

Released in 1978, the single came in two 7″ vinyl formats: one with the b-side “Superstars” (a track from The Grand Illusion) and a second single with the instrumental album track “Aku-Aku” as the b-side. Some printings of the single were also issued in a translucent blue vinyl, which are now highly sought after collectors items. Do any of you have the blue vinyl copy?

Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) – “Mr. Blue Sky” is a song by British rock group Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), featured on the band’s seventh studio album Out of the Blue (1977). Written and produced by frontman Jeff Lynne, the song forms the fourth and final track of the “Concerto for a Rainy Day” suite, on side three of the original double album. The lyrics are uplifting, and follow the concept of a rainy day that comes to an end.

“Mr. Blue Sky” was the second single to be taken from Out of the Blue, peaking at number 6 in the UK Singles Chart and number 35 in the US.

In a BBC Radio interview, Lynne talked about writing “Mr. Blue Sky” after locking himself away in a Swiss chalet and attempting to write ELO’s follow-up to A New World Record:

It was dark and misty for 2 weeks, and I didn’t come up with a thing. Suddenly the sun shone and it was, ‘Wow, look at those beautiful Alps.’ I wrote Mr. Blue Sky and 13 other songs in the next 2 weeks.

ELO leader Jeff Lynne puts “Blue” in a lot of his songs… “Mr. Blue Sky,” “Out of the Blue,” “Midnight Blue,” etc. Lynne is from the Birmingham area in England, where the Birmingham Football Club (or as Americans know it, soccer team) is called the Birmingham Blues. The “blues” in these songs are a tribute to his team.

“Mr. Blue Sky” is played before the start of every football (soccer) match played by Birmingham Football Club (commonly nicknamed “The Blues”)

The song’s arrangement has been called “Beatlesque”, bearing similarities to Beatles songs “Martha My Dear” and “A Day in the Life” while harmonically it shares its unusual first four chords and harmonic rhythm with “Yesterday.”

The arrangement makes prominent use of a cowbell sound (although this is credited on the album to percussionist Bev Bevan, as that of a “fire extinguisher”).

The song also features a heavily vocoded voice singing the phrase “Mr. Blue Sky.” A second vocoded segment at the end of the song was often interpreted as “Mister Blue Sky”; it is actually “Please turn me over” as it is the end of side three, and the listener is being instructed to flip the LP over. (Remember the old days when we used to listen to our music on vinyl and we had to turn the record over to hear the other side?) This fact was confirmed by Jeff Lynne on October 3, 2012 on The One Show.

FUN FACT: The song was played as a wake-up call to astronaut Christopher Ferguson on Day 3 of STS-135, the final mission of Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Black & Blue by Van Halen – “Black and Blue” is a rock song written by the group Van Halen for their 1988 album OU812 (“Oh, You Ate One Too”). It is one of six singles issued for the album, and was the first from the album to hit #1 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart, and peaked at #34 on the Billboard Hot 100.  Songwriters credited were Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony.

This song is from the years that Sammy Hagar was with Van Halen. A lot of Van Halen hardcore fans much preferred David Lee Roth and believe that Sammy Hagar “ruined” Van Halen. In fact, the 13 years that Sammy Hagar was with Van Halen, the band is often referred to as “Van Hagar”. OU812 was the second album to feature Sammy Hagar as lead singer.

The lyrics of “Black and Blue” are typical Van Halen (or Van Hagar, whichever). Lots of sex in their songs. And this song is no different. In an interview with Martin Popoff, Sammy Hagar gives a retrospective of the album. Regarding the song, Hagar says:

“I’m a very sexual type person. If I ever write something like that, it’s usually a true experience. It’s a true experience I happened to have had on the 5150 tour, where I was actually bruised up pretty bad, and in the wrong areas too, man. It took me out of commission for a week or so. But it was a good thing and I thought, hat a great phrase “do it to me black and blue.” It’s kind of a typical goofy old-time ‘80s rock ‘n roll lyric. But my most proud thing about that lyric is the way it rhythmically phrases against the music. Because in Van Halen, when Eddie and Alex get together, there weren’t many holes in the music to sing to. I like to sing in the holes. You don’t sing over the lick; you should sing in holes. Well, there’s never any holes in Van Halen. So lyrically, I was a master on that song and I sang completely…you just listen to it some time. It was like ‘boom, dat, oomph, dat, boom, uh’. If you just took it and made drumbeats out of everything I sang and everything else that was on there, it would sound like a Latino song, it was so rhythmically correct. And lyrically, it’s not easy to do that, to find a word that’s going to fit with what you’re trying to say and rhymes and rhythms like that. So I think it’s a masterpiece of phrasing if anything.” 

Angel in Blue by J. Geils Band – “Angel in Blue” is a song written by keyboard player Seth Justman that was first released by the J. Geils Band on their 1981 album Freeze Frame. Released as a single in 1982, the song reached the Top 40. Cissy Houston and Luther Vandross appear on the song as back up vocalists.

J Geils Band 1973

In a Classic Rock Review (dot com) article reviewing the album, the following was written:

“…Although the band bears the name of founding guitarist J. Geils, this album really belongs to keyboardist, songwriter, and producer Seth Justman.

… Through the 1970s, the band achieved moderate commercial success with a few minor hits, but nothing like the worldwide fame that they would enjoy in the early 1980s with Freeze Frame, fueled by the Justman’s catchy and cleaver #1 hit “Centerfold”, which introduced the band to much of the mainstream pop world.

… The album is really a potpourri of songs that can be segmented into one of about three distinct categories. The first of these is the direct pop category, consisting of the smash hit “Centerfold” and the opening title song. Both are bouncy and catchy and lead by an airy and accessible organ riff and upbeat entertainment, while carefully flirting with some risque subject matter. “Freeze Frame” has a great stop-start chorus, and was itself a successful top-ten hit. The band also produced a couple of entertaining music videos for the brand new MTV for these songs, no doubt helping their climb in the charts.

…The next category of songs are synch-dominated, pop-art compositions that deviate vastly from the band’s traditional sound. Here, Justman’s genius shines through as he accomplishes this deviation while he still preserves the album’s overall integrity.

The final category of songs on Freeze Frame maintains the band’s traditional rock/soul sound through the ballad “Angel In Blue” and the rockers “Flamethrower” and “Piss On the Wall.”

“Angel In Blue” is a pleasant tune with a melancholy tone, containing the biggest presence by Geils on the entire album. The song is masterfully constructed with just the right touch of organ and drum beat, and a nice ensemble of backing vocals and horns in the outtro.”

AllMusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine describes the song as “terrific neo-doo wop.” Viglione praises it further, stating that it is “arguably the smartest lyric in the J. Geils Band catalogue” with a “strong melody,” concluding that it is “four minutes and fifty-one seconds (on the album) of Peter Wolf reading Seth Justman’s post-“Centerfold” wet dream.” Music critic Robert Christgau describes the song as “slick get-’em-off trash” about “a whore with a heart of brass that I’m just a sucker for.” Mark Coleman of The Rolling Stone Album Guide finds the song to be “haunting.”

“Angel in Blue” peaked at #40 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining there for two weeks. It also reached #55 in the UK. The song also made the Billboard Singles Radio Action chart in a number of regions, including Buffalo, New York, Annapolis, Maryland, Nashville, Tennessee and Jacksonville, Florida. “Angel in Blue” was also released on a number of J. Geils Band compilation albums, including Centerfold, The Very Best J. Geils Band Album Ever and Best of The J. Geils Band, as well as several multi-artist compilation albums.

In April of 2017, J. Geils, founder and longtime guitarist of the J. Geils Band, was found dead in his Groton, Massachusetts, home on Tuesday (April 11), police confirmed. He was 71 years old.

Angel in Blue Jeans by Train – “Angel in Blue Jeans” is a song recorded by American rock band Train for their seventh studio album Bulletproof Picasso. The album’s first single, released June 9, 2014, finds Pat Monahan singing of falling in love at first sight with an “angel in blue jeans.” Monahan penned the song with the New York-based Norwegian songwriting and music production team consisting of Espen Lind and Amund Bjørklund. The same trio also wrote Train’s hit tunes “Hey Soul Sister” and “Drive By.”

The song’s Western-themed video, influenced by the spaghetti western film genre, features seasoned character actor Danny Trejo (Spy Kids, Machete) going against type by playing the good guy. (Monahan is the villainous sheriff). New Girl’s’ Hannah Simone co-stars as the “angel in blue jeans.” Monahan told Entertainment Tonight he thrived playing the baddie. “I think my face is really good at being a bad guy and it’s great ’cause Danny, who usually is a bad guy, ends up being the hero, which is super cool,” the vocalist said.

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Trejo had to listen to the track around 50 times so he could lip syncs the words properly for the video. “I drove everybody crazy with it, but thank God everybody likes the song. Now everybody’s singing it,” he joked to ET. “This song is gonna be a hit, I’m telling you. Everybody’s heard it. Low riders are all bumping it pretty loud!”

Monahan explained the song’s meaning to Radio.com: “The song is literally about dreaming about trying to find that woman that did a magical thing to you and then you wake up from the dream at the end and you’re laying next to her,” he said. “And then you can relax.”

Blue Jean by David Bowie – “Blue Jean” is a song written and recorded by David Bowie for his sixteenth studio album Tonight, released in 1984. One of only two tracks on the album to be written entirely by Bowie, it was released as a single ahead of the album and charted within the Top 10 in the UK and the United States, peaking at No. 6 and No. 8, respectively. The song is loosely inspired by American rockabilly musician Eddie Cochran.

Bowie described this Eddie Cochran-inspired single in a 1987 interview as “a piece of sexist rock ‘n roll. [laughs] It’s about picking up birds. It’s not very cerebral, that piece.”

Following the commercial success of Bowie’s previous album, Let’s Dance, its singles and the Serious Moonlight Tour, “Blue Jean” was launched with a 21-minute short film, Jazzin’ for Blue Jean, directed by Julien Temple. The song performance segment from this was also used as a more conventional music video. The film won the 1985 Grammy Award for “Best Video, Short form”, later renamed “Best Music Video”, which proved to be the only competitive Grammy Award Bowie won during his lifetime for over three decades, although Bowie posthumously won four Grammies for his album Blackstar (2016).

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“Blue Jean” would remain in Bowie’s live repertoire for the rest of his career, being performed on his Glass Spider Tour (1987), Sound+Vision Tour (1990) and A Reality Tour (2004).

Devil with a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly by Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels – “Devil with a Blue Dress” (also known as “Devil with the Blue Dress On”) is a song written by Shorty Long and William “Mickey” Stevenson, first performed by Long and released as a single in 1964. A later version recorded by Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels in 1966 peaked at #4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

The song describes a particularly attractive woman who is highly accessorized and has caught the eye of the singer.

The song was originally recorded by Shorty Long in 1964 as “Devil With The Blue Dress.” Long was signed to a Motown label that specialized in Soul recordings, and this was his first single on the label. Long wrote the song with Motown producer Mickey Stevenson. Long’s version was kind of Bluesy and didn’t have the typical Motown sound. Unfortunately for Long, it failed to chart and his only hit was the 1968 novelty song “Here Comes the Judge.” Long died in a boating accident in 1969 at age 29.

Two years later, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels recorded the song as a medley with an original arrangement of Little Richard’s “Good Golly, Miss Molly”. Their version was notably more up-tempo than Long’s more blues-influenced rendition. Reaching #4 on the Hot 100, their version of the track would end up becoming their most well-known and highest charting hit in the United States.

The Duke Blue Devils (Duke University’s NCAA teams) use “Devil with a Blue Dress On” as a victory song.

Crystal Blue Persuasion by Tommy James & the Shondells – “Crystal Blue Persuasion” is a 1968 song originally recorded by Tommy James and the Shondells and composed by Eddie Gray, Tommy James, and Mike Vale. When released as a single in June 1969, “Crystal Blue Persuasion” became one of the biggest hits for the group, peaking at number two on the Billboard Pop Singles chart for three weeks.

A gentle-tempoed groove, “Crystal Blue Persuasion” was built around a prominent organ part with an understated arrangement, more akin to The Rascals’ sound at the time than to James’s contemporary efforts with psychedelic rock. It included melodic passages for an acoustic guitar, as well as a bass pattern.

In a 1985 interview in Hitch magazine, James said the title of the song came to him while he was reading the Biblical Book of Revelation:

I took the title from the Book of Revelations [sic] in the Bible, reading about the New Jerusalem. The words jumped out at me, and they’re not together; they’re spread out over three or four verses. But it seemed to go together, it’s my favorite of all my songs and one of our most requested.

According to James’s manager, James was actually inspired by his readings of the Book of Ezekiel, which (he remembered as) speaking of a blue Shekhinah light that represented the presence of the Almighty God, and of the Book of Isaiah and Book of Revelation, which tell of a future age of brotherhood of mankind, living in peace and harmony.

Many listeners thought “Crystal Blue Persuasion” was a drug song advocating the use of “crystal meth” (methamphetamine), while on the West Coast. At the time of the song’s release there were several popular types of high quality blue-colored LSD tablets in circulation—some listeners generally assumed James was referring to “acid”. In 1979, noted music writer Dave Marsh described it as “a transparent allegory about James’ involvement with amphetamines.”

The lyrics, “It’s a new vibration,” are about James becoming Christian, but many listeners had their own interpretation. He explained:

“Of course, everybody thinks if they don’t understand what you’re talking about it must be about drugs. But it wasn’t. We were going through a real interesting time back then, and a very wonderful time. Everybody in the band, by the way, became Christian. And we’re very proud of it. And ‘Crystal Blue Persuasion’ was sort of our way of saying that in a kind of pop record way.”

This would have made a great performance at Woodstock, and the song was peaking on the charts at the time of the famous festival. Tommy James & the Shondells were invited to appear, but, as Tommy explains:

“Like dopes we turned it down. I gotta tell you what – we were in Hawaii at the foot of Diamond Head. This was in August of ’69, and we played a date in Hilo, and then we had two weeks off and then we were gonna play in Honolulu. They put us at these gorgeous mansions at the foot of Diamond Head, right on the ocean. And our biggest decision of the day was, Do I go in the ocean or in the swimming pool? We were sitting around drinking margaritas, and it was wonderful. And I get this call from JoAnn, my secretary, and she said, ‘Artie Kornfeld was up,’ Artie Kornfeld was one of the principals at Woodstock, and he was also a friend of mine. He produced the Cowsills and a whole bunch of other acts, and he was very successful producer. We had the same lawyer. And so she said, ‘Artie was up and asked if you could play at this pig farm up in upstate New York.’ I said, ‘What?!?’ ‘Well, they say it’s gonna be a lot of people there, and it’s gonna be like a really important show.’ And I said, ‘Did I hear you right? Did you say would I leave paradise, fly 6,000 miles, and play a pig farm? Is that what you just asked me?’ She said, ‘Well, you could put it like that, but it’s gonna be a big show. It’s important.’ I said, ‘Well, I’ll tell you what, if I’m not there, start without us, will you please?’ And I hung up the phone. And they did. And by Thursday of that week we knew we messed up really bad. (laughing) But in the end I think I got probably more mileage out of that story.”

A primitive non-representational music video was made, that showed various scenes of late 1960s political and cultural unrest and imagery of love and peace.

Blue Bayou by Linda Ronstadt – “Blue Bayou” was originally written and recorded by Roy Orbison on his legendary 1963 album In Dreams. While it only scored as high as #29 in the US (despite scoring #1 in Ireland and #10 in Norway), Linda Ronstadt took it to far greater fame as her only gold-selling single and her signature song.

Linda Ronstadt took the song to number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1977, where it held for four weeks, as well as number 2 Country and number 3 Easy Listening. It also reached number 2, for four weeks, on the Cash Box Top 100 chart.

The single was RIAA certified Gold (for sales of over 1 million US copies) in January 1978. It was the first of Ronstadt’s three Gold singles. Don Henley of the Eagles sang backup on the recording. “Blue Bayou” was later certified Platinum (for over 2 million copies sold in the United States). It was a worldwide smash and was also popular in a Spanish-language version called “Lago Azul”.

Linda Ronstadt has been called “the most successful and certainly the most durable and most gifted woman rock singer of her era” in Andrew Greeley’s book God in Popular Culture.

The song has been recorded by many other artists over the years.

Ronstadt later performed the song on the episode 523 of The Muppet Show, first aired October 26, 1980 on UK, and May 16, 1981 on United States.

Ronstadt’s version appears, in edited form, in the 2017 movie American Made.

FUN FACT: Because of this song, Dickson’s Baseball Dictionary records that a “Linda Ronstadt” is a synonym for a fastball, a pitch that “blew by you”. That phrase was coined by Mets broadcaster Tim McCarver, during a Mets telecast in the 1980s.

Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue by Crystal Gale – “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” is a song written by Richard Leigh, and recorded by American country music singer Crystal Gayle. It was released in March 1977 as the first single from Gayle’s album We Must Believe in Magic. Despite the title, Gayle herself has blue eyes.

Songwriter Richard Leigh was inspired by his dog, who had brown eyes, while writing this song. It was his second #1 Country hit for Crystal Gayle. Leigh also wrote many other Country classics and is in the Nashville Songwriters’ Hall of Fame.

The song became a worldwide hit single. It was a huge crossover hit for Gayle, making her famous outside the world of Country music. In the United States, it topped the Billboard country music chart and was Gayle’s first (and biggest) crossover pop hit, reaching number 1 on the Cashbox Top 100 for two weeks, and number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, behind Debby Boone’s smash hit, “You Light Up My Life”. The album received Platinum status, the first by a female country singer. The song became Gayle’s signature piece throughout her career. This won 1977 Grammy Awards for Best Country Vocal plus Best Country Song for writer Richard Leigh. In 1978, the song won Gayle a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. In 1999, the song was recognized by ASCAP as one of the ten most-performed songs of the 20th century. The song has a jazzy feel to it when compared to many other country songs of that era. Gayle had many more hit singles for the next ten years, such as “Talking in Your Sleep”, “Half the Way” “You and I” (a duet with Eddie Rabbitt) and “I’ll Get Over You”, but none have achieved the same level of success as “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”.

Gayle made a lot of TV appearances when this became a hit. For many viewers, it was their first look at Gayle, who had hair down to her feet.

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Crystal Gayle nailed this on the first try. “That was a first take,” she recalled to Billboard magazine. “I did not re-sing it. It just fell into place beginning with Pig Robbins’ opening work on the piano. It was magic in the studio that day.” 

Misty Blue by Dorothy Moore – “Misty Blue” is a song written by Bob Montgomery, who was Buddy Holly’s high school singing partner, that has been recorded and made commercially-successful by several music artists. Although Montgomery wrote the song for a different artist in mind, it was brought first to the attention of Wilma Burgess in 1966. It was subsequently recorded by Eddy Arnold the following year, whose version became more successful. A decade later, R&B artist Dorothy Moore released the highest-charting version of the song and it reached the top ten in several different radio formats. Following Moore’s revival of the track, numerous artists re-covered the tune, including country artist Billie Jo Spears. Spears’s version would also go on to become a successful single release. Numerous other artists and musicians of different genres have recorded their own versions of “Misty Blue”. The song is now considered both a country music and R&B standard.

The story of Dorothy Moore’s cover version of this song is sure a case for “all in good time” and “meant to be.” Prior to Moore’s R&B version of “Misty Blue”, Joe Simon cut the song in a similar format. Released in 1972, Simon’s version of the song only became a regional hit.

It was through the Joe Simon version that Malaco Records owner Tommy Couch was familiar with “Misty Blue” which Couch would record in 1973 with Dorothy Moore, a native of Jackson MS who had recorded a number of tracks at the Malaco Studios in Jackson. Moore would recall receiving a morning call at her home from Couch inviting Moore to Couch’s studio to hear a song he deemed perfect for her: (Dorothy Moore quote:) “I didn’t have a car at the time, so I took the bus to Malaco [where] I listened to the song [and] liked it…The rhythm section [was] there [so] we decided to record it. They had the lyrics typed out and [put] in front of me. And we did that record in one take. ‘Misty Blue’ was meant for me” – although Moore admits: “I recorded it just like I did any other. I didn’t say: ‘This is a hit.’ I never saw [great success] coming.”

Evidently reluctant to release the track themselves, Malaco Records shopped Moore’s “Misty Blue” to major labels without success, with the track remaining “in the can” until November 1975 when the cash-strapped Malaco Records used the last of its resources to press Moore’s “Misty Blue” which they released themselves. When Moore was advised of her recording’s belated release by Couch (Dorothy Moore quote:) “I [asked to] come in [to the studio] and add one thing to it. I had a copy of the recording [and had realized] the intro was too long – and [so] I put that ‘mmmm-ooh-a-ooh’ over the first few notes.” Also Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section veteran Jimmy Johnson overdubbed his rhythm guitar work on to the 1973 track. Malaco Records did shop the updated track to Florida-based TK Records whose owner Henry Stone passed on releasing Moore’s “Misty Blue” while agreeing for TK to act as national distributor for Malaco’s own release of the track which Stone began promoting heavily via his own independent network.

After receiving its initial airplay in Chicago and Washington DC, Moore’s single broke in the southern states in April 1976 and three months later it was nominated for a Grammy Award. In 1976 the single reached number 2 on the R&B chart and 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as number 14 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 19 song for 1976.

“Misty Blue” was also a UK hit, reaching number 5 there on the chart dated for the week of 8 August 1976. Moore’s single also achieved hit status in Australia (#5), Canada (#4), New Zealand (#4), and South Africa (#11).

Dorothy Moore was originally a member of the female vocal group The Poppies, who had a #56 pop hit in 1966 in the US with the song “Lullaby of Love.” Moore went solo in the mid-’70s and her version of this song became her biggest hit. On backing vocals was her former Poppies bandmate Fern Kinney, who later in 1980 enjoyed a #1 hit in the UK with “Together We Are Beautiful.”

Midnight Blue by Melissa Manchester – Midnight Blue is the color of the sky under certain shades of moonlight. “Midnight Blue” is a title of a Top Ten hit single by Melissa Manchester that was taken from her 1975 album Melissa: Billboard magazine described the song as “a classically elegant quiet ballad about a pair of longtime lovers putting aside their aggravations until the dawn in order to try making it one more time in memory of all their old times together.”

The song is about a relationship that has been through the ringer; the singer is looking to give it another try, approaching it from a different angle: “Think of me as your friend.”

After meeting Manchester backstage after Bette Midler’s Carnegie Hall concert of 23 June 1972 Bayer Sager suggested she and Manchester write a song to cut as a demo, the result being “Midnight Blue”.

The song had been written by Manchester in 1973 as her first collaboration with Carole Bayer Sager, who would be Manchester’s regular lyricist over the next five years; Manchester would recall: “the songs that I wrote with Carole…all came out of conversations. Therefore the tone of the songs was very conversational. The listener always feels like they are in the moment when that first line is uttered.” [2] According to Manchester the genesis of “Midnight Blue” was a conversation she and Bayer Sager “had about our young husbands, and how as young women we didn’t know how to get through the hard times that every relationship has”; the song was essentially finished but still lacking a title when either Manchester or Bayer Sager said: “Midnight Blue” which Manchester opines “was the perfect fit for the [song’s] overall feeling”.

Other songs Carole Bayer Sager wrote with Manchester include “Just You And I,” “Come In From The Rain” and “Home To Myself” – lots of confessional songs from a female perspective. Bayer Sager explained: “I think just by writing about the things we were going through, we were able to tough the hearts of women who were also struggling, so I’m very proud of those songs.”

In 2012 Manchester would recall promoting “Midnight Blue”:

“I [had been] an album artist [with no cause] to worry about a single. Suddenly, Bell Records was absorbed into Arista Records [whose president] Clive Davis…spoke of things like singles success. [For] ‘Midnight Blue’ we did a really vigorous tour of radio stations and secondary markets” – “I crisscrossed the country to break the song on college radio stations, which were very important at the time. It was right before radio went into automated playlists. Music directors and disc jockeys still had pull. Right after ‘Midnight Blue’, everything changed”  – “We traveled thousands of miles shaking hands and playing: when [the song] finally got from the east coast to the west coast it was so huge…I [will] never forget that first experience of playing the intro to ‘Midnight Blue’ [to have] people started cheering….That was the power of radio.”

Melissa Manchester released two hitless albums on Bell Records before signing a deal with Arista, which issued her third album, Melissa, which contains “Midnight Blue.” The song went to #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart and established Manchester as both a songwriter and artist.

“Midnight Blue” debuted at #90 on the Hot 100 in Billboard magazine dated 10 May 1975: the same issue of Billboard showed the track ranked at #22 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart where “Midnight Blue” was in its fourth week on the Easy Listening Top 50. In its sixth week on the Billboard Hot 100, “Midnight Blue” entered the Top 40 at #40 on the chart dated 14 June 1975, with the track ranked at #2 on that week’s Billboard Easy Listening chart: “Midnight Blue” would spend the weeks of 21–28 June at #1 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart – eventually being cited as the #1 Easy Listening hit of the year 1975 – while on the Hot 100 the track would ascend to a peak of #6 (8 August 1975).

Manchester’s later accomplishments include co-writing the Kenny Loggins/Stevie Nicks duet “Whenever I Call You “Friend”” and Top 10 singles as an artist with “Don’t Cry Out Loud” and “You Should Hear How She Talks About You.”

FUN FACT: Manchester had personally pitched “Midnight Blue” to Dusty Springfield according to Springfield’s friend Sue Cameron who recalls Manchester visiting Springfield’s Laurel Canyon home and playing Springfield the demo of “Midnight Blue” – Cameron (quote): “She told Melissa no. Melissa leaves the house. I went: ‘Are you crazy?'”

Midnight Blue by Lou Gramm – After doing a decade in Foreigner, Lou Gramm set out on his own in 1987, releasing his first solo single, “Midnight Blue.” The song was hit, going to #5 in America thanks in large part to a video that made the rounds on MTV and also on VH1, which launched two years earlier.

“Midnight Blue” is the first single released by Lou Gramm as a solo artist from his debut solo album Ready or Not in 1987. He had staggering success as the lead singer of Foreigner, which in the previous 10 years had become one of the biggest bands in America. Gramm, who co-wrote most of their songs with guitarist Mick Jones, was disheartened by the direction that band had taken, fearing that slick ballads like “Waiting For A Girl Like You” and “I Want to Know What Love Is” had gotten them away from their roots.

Looking to rediscover a raw, spontaneous sound, Gramm released the album Ready Or Not in early 1987. His “Midnight Blue” spent five weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot Album Rock Tracks, starting on February 14, 1987, and by April, peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100, Gramm’s highest-charting solo hit.

(Later in 1987, Foreigner released another successful album (with Gramm on lead vocals), Inside Information, which contained the hits “Say You Will” and “I Don’t Want to Live Without You.” Gramm released another solo album in 1989 with contained the hit “Just Between You and Me.”)

Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic calls Gramm’s “Midnight Blue” the “last great single of the album-rock era”. Allmusic reviewer Bret Adams posits that, “despite its hit status, it’s one of the decade’s truly underappreciated singles.”

In this song, Lou Gramm sings about how life is simple, really: it’s either cherry red or midnight blue.

In our interview with Gramm, he explained that cherry red is “everything going as best as it can,” while midnight blue is “dark and mysterious.”

On this track, he makes it clear that he is the darker shade, letting the girl know that he’s going to forge his own path, and while they are split at the moment, he’ll be coming back for her. It’s a very unapologetic love song, as Gramm makes it clear that he doesn’t regret the way he treated her, but is confident that everything will be cherry red once he decides to win her back.

As for the music video: Jim Hershleder (who would later direct videos for Steve Earle, Kathy Mattea and John Fogerty) got the call to make “Midnight Blue.” Gramm was best known in the video age for “I Want to Know What Love Is,” the big Foreigner ballad, but he always considered himself a rocker. For “Midnight Blue,” Hershleder left him unadorned in leather jacket and jeans with his new band. The concurrent storyline is the stuff of teenage dreams: taking the convertible to gather the girl and ride off into the moonlight.

Jim Hershleder directed the video, which benefited from airplay on VH1, which had launched two years earlier. Hershleder told Songfacts:

“The concept stemmed from the power of the song, which seemed to me captured the feeling of being young, having your first car, and picking up your girlfriend who had just snuck out of her house to meet you. My teen years in Minnesota, basically.”

Blue Suede Shoes by Elvis Presley – “Blue Suede Shoes” is a rock-and-roll standard written and first recorded by Carl Perkins in 1955. It is considered one of the first rockabilly (rock-and-roll) records, incorporating elements of blues, country and pop music of the time. Perkins’ original version of the song was on the Cashbox Best Selling Singles list for 16 weeks and spent two weeks in the number two position. Elvis Presley performed his version of the song three different times on national television. It was also recorded by Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran, among many others.

Blue suede shoes were a luxury item in the South, a stylish footwear for a night out. You had to be careful with them, however, since suede isn’t easy to clean.

Perkins never owned a pair, but Johnny Cash told him a story about someone who did. As Cash told it, he and Perkins were performing at a show in Amory, Mississippi along with Elvis Presley. When Presley was on stage, Cash told Perkins a story from his days serving in the Air Force in Germany. Cash’s sergeant, a black guy named C.V. White, would wear his military best when he was allowed off base, and at one point said to Johnny, “don’t step on my blue suede shoes.” The shoes were really just Air Force-issued black, but white would say, “Tonight they’re blue suede.”

The story Perkins told is that later on, he was playing at a high school sorority dance when he came across a guy who wasn’t paying much attention to his date, but kept telling everyone not to stop on his “suedes,” meaning his blues suede shoes. At 3:00 a.m. that night, Perkins woke up and wrote the lyrics based on what happened that night and the story he heard from Cash. He couldn’t find any paper, so he wrote it on a potato sack.

Perkins recorded this in Memphis for Sam Phillips at Sun Records. As he was driving to make his first national appearance to promote it (on the Perry Como Show), he got into an accident that seriously injured him and killed his brother. “I was 85 miles away from being the first rockabilly on national television,” he recalled.

Perkins never fully recovered, either emotionally or career-wise. With Perkins unable to touring and promote it, Elvis’ cover version became a massive hit. Presley’s copy was done at RCA studios in Nashville.

Elvis’ Rendition: Recording cover versions of songs was a common practice during the 1940s and 1950s, and “Blue Suede Shoes” was one of the first songs RCA Victor wanted its newly contracted artist, Elvis Presley, to record. “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Shoes” rose on the charts at roughly the same time. RCA Victor, with its superior distribution and radio contacts, knew it could probably steal a hit record from Phillips and Perkins. Presley, who knew both Perkins and Phillips from his days at Sun Records, gave in to pressure from RCA, but he requested that the company hold back his version from release as a single. Presley’s version features two guitar solos by Scotty Moore, with Bill Black on bass and D.J. Fontana on drums.

According to Moore, when the song was recorded, “We just went in there and started playing, just winged it. Just followed however Elvis felt.” According to reports confirmed by Sam Phillips, RCA Victor producer Steve Sholes agreed not to release Presley’s version of the song as a single while Perkins’ release was hot.

Presley performed the song on national television three times in 1956. The first was February 11 on Stage Show. He also performed it again on his third appearance on Stage Show on March 17, and again on the Milton Berle Show on April 3. On July 1, Steve Allen introduced Presley on The Steve Allen Show, and Presley, dressed in formal evening wear, said, “I think that I have on something tonight that’s not quite right for evening wear.” Allen asked, “What’s that, Elvis?” “Blue suede shoes” was the answer, as he lifted his left foot to show the audience. Presley mentioned blue suede shoes a second time on this show: in a song during the “Range Roundup” comedy skit with Allen, Andy Griffith, and Imogene Coca, he delivered the line, “I’m a-warnin’ you galoots, don’t step on my blue suede shoes.”

Moore has said that Presley recorded the song to help out Perkins after his accident. “Elvis wasn’t really thinking at that time that it was going to make money for Carl; he was doing it as more of a tribute type thing. Of course Carl was glad he did. It really helped as his record started going down.”

“Blue Suede Shoes” was the first song on the groundbreaking album Elvis Presley, which was released in March. RCA Victor released two other records with “Blue Suede Shoes” the same month: an extended play with four songs (RCA Victor EPA 747) and a double extended play with eight songs (RCA Victor EPB 1254).

RCA Victor released the Presley version as a single on September 8, one of a number of singles RCA issued simultaneously, all culled from the album Elvis Presley. This single reached number 20, whereas Perkins’ version had topped the chart.

In 1960, Presley re-recorded “Blue Suede Shoes” for the soundtrack of the film G.I. Blues. While Presley’s character and his band, the “Three Blazes”, play a ballad at a Frankfurt nightclub (“Doin’ the Best I Can”, by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman), a bored GI plays Presley’s version of “Blue Suede Shoes” on the jukebox, remarking that he wants “to hear an original”. When another soldier tries to unplug the jukebox, the audience erupts in a fight. This studio re-recording was one of the few occasions in Presley’s career in which he agreed to re-record a previously issued song. He did it on this occasion because the rest of the soundtrack was recorded in stereo, and thus a stereo version of “Blue Suede Shoes” was required. The 1960 version uses virtually the same arrangement as the 1956 recording. This version was included on the soundtrack album to G.I. Blues but was never released as a single in the United States.

In 1985, RCA issued a music video of Presley’s original version of “Blue Suede Shoes”. The video featured a contemporary setting and actors (and Carl Perkins in a cameo appearance), with Presley shown in archival footage.

In 1999, Presley’s version was certified as a gold record by the RIAA.

Blue Jay Way by the Beatles – “Blue Jay Way” is a song recorded by those English blokes the Beatles. Written by George Harrison, it was released in 1967 on the group’s Magical Mystery Tour EP and album. The song was named after a street in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles where Harrison stayed in August 1967, shortly before visiting the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. The lyrics document Harrison’s wait for music publicist Derek Taylor to find his way to Blue Jay Way through the fog-ridden hills, while Harrison struggled to stay awake after the flight from London to Los Angeles.

Blue Jay Way, art by Jacob Jenkins

As with several of Harrison’s compositions from this period, “Blue Jay Way” incorporates aspects of Indian classical music, although the Beatles used only Western instrumentation on the track, including a drone-like Hammond organ part played by Harrison. Created during the group’s psychedelic period, the track makes extensive use of studio techniques such as flanging, Leslie rotary effect, and reversed tape sounds. The song appeared in the Beatles’ 1967 television film Magical Mystery Tour, in a sequence that visually re-creates the sense of haziness and dislocation evident on the recording.

While some reviewers have dismissed the song as monotonous, many others have admired its yearning quality and dark musical mood. The website Consequence of Sound describes “Blue Jay Way” as “a haunted house of a hit, adding an ethereal, creepy mythos to the City of Angels”. Among its continued links with Los Angeles, the song was one of the first Beatles tracks that cult leader Charles Manson adopted as the foundation for his Helter Skelter theory of an American race-related countercultural revolution. Artists who have covered the song include Bud Shank, Colin Newman, Tracy Bonham, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Greg Hawkes.

Background & Inspiration: George Harrison wrote “Blue Jay Way” after arriving in Los Angeles on August 1, 1967 with his wife Pattie Boyd and Beatles aides Neil Aspinall and Alex Mardas. The purpose of the trip was to spend a week with Derek Taylor, the Beatles’ former press officer and latterly the publicist for California-based acts such as the Byrds and the Beach Boys. The visit also allowed Harrison to reunite with his sitar tutor, Ravi Shankar, whose Kinnara School of Music and upcoming concert at the Hollywood Bowl he helped publicize.

“I told [Derek Taylor] on the phone that the house was in Blue Jay Way … There was a fog and it got later and later. To keep myself awake, just as a joke to fill in time, I wrote a song about waiting for him in Blue Jay Way. There was a little Hammond organ in the corner of this rented house … I messed around on this and the song came.”

                     – George Harrison to Hunter Davies, 1968

The title of the song came from a street named Blue Jay Way, one of the “bird streets” high in the Hollywood Hills West area overlooking the Sunset Strip, where Harrison had rented a house for his stay. Jet-lagged after the flight from London, he began writing the composition on a Hammond organ as he and Boyd waited for Taylor and the latter’s wife, Joan, to join them. The home’s location, on a hillside of narrow, winding roads, together with the foggy conditions that night, created the backdrop for the song’s opening lines: “There’s a fog upon L.A. / And my friends have lost their way.” Harrison had almost completed the song by the time the Taylors arrived, around two hours later than planned.

The week with Taylor proved to be important for the direction of the Beatles. At the height of the Summer of Love and the popularity of the band’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, Harrison, Taylor and their small entourage visited the international “hippie capital” of Haight-Ashbury, in San Francisco, on August 7th. Harrison had expected to encounter an enlightened community engaged in artistic pursuits and working to create a viable alternative lifestyle; instead, he was disappointed that Haight-Ashbury appeared to be populated by drug addicts, dropouts and “hypocrites”. Following his return to England two days later, Harrison completed work on “Blue Jay Way” at his home in Esher, and he shared his disillusionment about Haight-Ashbury with John Lennon. The Beatles then publicly denounced the popular hallucinogen LSD (or “acid”) and other drugs] in favor of Transcendental Meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, whose seminar in Bangor in Wales the band attended in late August. While noting Harrison’s role in “inspiring the West’s mainstream acquaintance with Hindu religion” through his leadership in this aspect of the Beatles’ career, author Ian MacDonald describes “Blue Jay Way” as a “farewell to psychedelia”, just as “It’s All Too Much”, which the Beatles recorded in May 1967, became Harrison’s “farewell to acid”.

Appearance in Magical Mystery Tour film: The song’s segment in Magical Mystery Tour was shot mainly at RAF West Malling, an air force base near Maidstone in Kent, during the week beginning on 19 September. Described by Womack as “the movie’s hazy, psychedelic sequence”, it features Harrison sitting on a pavement and playing a chalk-drawn keyboard. Dressed in a red suit, he is shown busking on a roadside; next to his keyboard are a white plastic cup and a message written in chalk, reading: “2 wives and kid to support”. The depiction of Harrison, seated cross-legged, matched his public image as the most committed of the Beatles to Transcendental Meditation and Eastern philosophy.

The filming took place in an aircraft hangar, with the scene designed to re-create a typically smog-ridden Los Angeles. Music journalist Kit O’Toole writes that the smoke surrounding Harrison “almost engulf[s] him, mimicking the ‘fog’ described in the lyrics”. Through the use of prismatic photography, the “Blue Jay Way” segment also shows Harrison’s “image refracted as if seen through a fly’s eye”, according to author Alan Clayson, who describes the scene as mirroring “the requisite misty atmosphere” suggested by the recording. In its preview of Magical Mystery Tour in 1967, the NME highlighted the segment as one of the film’s “extremely clever” musical sequences, saying: “For ‘Blue Jay Way’ George is seen sitting cross-legged in a sweating mist which materializes into a variety of shapes and patterns. It’s a pity that most TV viewers will be able to see it only in black and white.”

At other times during the sequence, the four Beatles alternate in the role of a solo cellist. These scenes were filmed on 3 November, on the rockery at Sunny Heights, Starr’s house in Weybridge, Surrey. Tony Barrow, the production manager for Magical Mystery Tour, recalls that, as “a colourful conclusion” to the segment, they set off fireworks that had been bought for the upcoming Guy Fawkes Night celebrations.

The reviews and criticisms of the song varied wildly. The first time I heard it I was like “Whoa, this is awful!” And I pretty much felt like these critics did: A critic of the Beatles’ output immediately post-Sgt. Pepper, Ian MacDonald found “Blue Jay Way” “as unfocused and monotonous as most of the group’s output of this period”, adding that the song “numbingly fails to transcend the weary boredom that inspired it”. Writing for Rolling Stone in 2002, Greg Kot considered it to be “one of [Harrison’s] least-memorable Beatles tracks … a song essentially about boredom – and it sounds like it”. Similarly unimpressed with Magical Mystery Tour, Tim Riley describes “Blue Jay Way” as a song that “goes nowhere tiresomely”, with a vocal that “sounds as tired and droning” as the musical accompaniment. Lol. But there are positive reviews and you can find them on Wikipedia.

AND THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS A WRAP!

We have come to the end of my Kaleidoscope of Color Songs Series. Thank you all for taking this colorful journey with me as we explored all my favorite songs with colors in the titles. I’ve had a wonderful time putting this all together and I sure hope you all have had fun with it too.

There is one little post left in this color series (I can already hear the shouts of “I knew it!” coming from the edges of the blogosphere…) but it won’t be for a while. I’ll let you know when it’s here but for now, I’m taking a break from colors.

Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by Marie of X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by Cathy of Curious as a Cathy and Stacy of Stacy Uncorked Two other co-hosts recently joined the fun: Alana of Ramlin’ with AM and Naila Moon of Musings & Merriment with Michelle. Be sure to stop by and visit the hosts and the other participants listed below: