Monday’s Music Moves Me: SONGS WITH ANIMALS IN THE TITLES

It’s Monday and you know what that means: It’s time for some kickass music with Monday’s Music Moves Me! Today’s theme is especially fun and near & dear to my heart. It was chosen by our August Conductor, Mary over at Jingle Jangle Jungle (she’s also my battle partner in the Ultimate Dog v Cat Battle of the Bands Tournament and if you haven’t been checking it out, you need to start because even though we’re coming up on Round Three, it’s not too late to jump in and play along. DO IT! IT’S FUN!)

Anyway, Mary’s brilliant theme for today’s 4M post is SONGS WITH ANIMALS IN THE TITLE. Now you know I jumped all over that one, right? I think I’ve put together a pretty cool post for you all today. First up is the Welcome to My Zoo playlist. There are zillions of songs with animals in the titles; here I’ve listed only a bunch of my particular favorites. We’re going to start out hard to get your blood circulating and your heart pumping, and then we’ll gradually slow it down to a nice mellow flow of incredible music. Below is the list of the songs along with a few tidbits of background information. Scroll through and pick out which songs you want to hear or simply hit PLAY and let it run. It’s a great playlist to just listen to while doing your thing. If and when you have time, be sure to check out some of the videos because there are quite a few cool ones in there.

Then, I have a few other neat surprises, as in three other (short) playlists (The Funny Farm playlist comes up after this one and then, well, you’ll see. For sure the one at the end I think you’ll really dig). So hang out with me for a bit and let’s take a joyride through my animal kingdom. Let’s Rock!

The Welcome to My Zoo playlist songs include:

Animal by Def Leppard – from the 1987 Hysteria album; this song about a raging animal lust took three years to complete. This was Def Leppard’s first hit in their native England. Even Pyromania, which was a massive hit album in America, was largely ignored in their home country. “Animal” was the song that finally broke through in the UK, and it earned them their first appearance on the popular music TV show Top Of The Pops).

The Zoo by the Scorpions – a song by the German hard rock band Scorpions, from their 1980 Animal Magnetism album. It was written by group members Rudolf Schenker (guitar) and Klaus Meine (vocals). Schenker wrote much of the music during the band’s first tour of the United States in 1979. When Meine first heard Schenker’s riff, it reminded him of the band’s earlier visit to a street in New York City humorously referred to as a “zoo”. Meine later composed the song’s lyrics, which contain references to city streets, especially New York’s 42nd Street.

Walkin’ the Dog by Aerosmith – from the debut album AEROSMITH, 1973. The song “Walkin’ the Dog” is a cover of a song originally performed by R&B singer Rufus Thomas from Memphis, Tennessee. The lyrics make references to children’s nursery rhymes, especially Miss Mary Mack.

Sick as a Dog by Aerosmith – from ROCKS, Aerosmith’s fourth studio album released in 1976. AllMusic described Rocks as having “captured Aerosmith at their most raw and rocking.” Previously, Aerosmith had recorded three albums: Aerosmith (1973), Get Your Wings (1974), and the breakthrough LP Toys in the Attic (1975), which produced Top Ten hit “Walk This Way” and the popular “Sweet Emotion.” Although often derided by critics, the band had amassed a loyal fanbase following from relentless touring and their ferocious live shows. They also began living the rock-and-roll lifestyle to the hilt, indulging their already considerable appetite for drugs. However, their hedonistic lifestyle did not appear to hamper them creatively; Rocks was considered by many fans, critics, and fellow musicians to be one of the highlights of their career. Guitarist Joe Perry later recalled, “There’s no doubt we were doing a lot of drugs by then, but whatever we were doing, it was still working for us.”

Of this song, lead guitarist Joe Perry said, “Tom (Hamilton) played rhythm guitar on “Sick as a Dog.” I played bass for the first half of the song. Then I put the bass down and played guitar in the end, and Steven picked up the bass and played it for the rest of the song – all live in the studio! One take.”

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.”

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.”

Black Dog by Led Zeppelin – from the untitled but commonly referred to Led Zeppelin IV album, 1971. This song was also used in my Round One of the Ultimate Dog v Cat Battle of the Bands Tournament, where it came out the victor of that round. You can read more about the song over at that post.

Dog Eat Dog by Ted Nugent – from 1976’s Free-For-All; this is the album that inspired the many air-guitar “mini-concerts” that my friend JoAnn and I used to put on in the girls bathroom in high school. Yes, I played air-guitar. Don’t say it… And this was the other contender in Round One of the Dog v Cat Battle.

Cat Scratch Fever by Ted Nugent – from the 1977 album of the same name. Cat Scratch Fever is a real condition: it’s an infectious disease caused by a cat scratch that usually affects young children. AND I HAD IT! I remember having to be taken to the doctor and told that I had Cat Scratch Fever. That’s probably why I liked that song so much. Nugent, however, changes the meaning to make it much more lustful, with the “cats” being women. The song is about sex and his rampant desire for it, or put more succinctly by Nugent, it’s “about pussy.” Go figure. PS: Mary used this song in her Round One of the Dog v Cat Battle at Jingle Jangle Jungle.

War Pigs by Black Sabbath – from my favorite Black Sabbath album, Paranoid, 1970. The original title of “War Pigs” was “Walpurgis”, dealing with the witches’ sabbath. “Walpurgis is sort of like Christmas for Satanists. And to me, war was the big Satan”, said bassist and lyricist Geezer Butler. “It wasn’t about politics or government or anything. It was Evil itself. So I was saying ‘generals gathered in the masses / just like witches at black masses’ to make an analogy. But when we brought it to the record company, they thought ‘Walpurgis’ sounded too Satanic. And that’s when we turned it into ‘War Pigs’. But we didn’t change the lyrics, because they were already finished.”

White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane – “White Rabbit” is a song written by Grace Slick and recorded by the American rock band Jefferson Airplane for their 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow. It was released as a single and became the band’s second top-10 success, peaking at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song uses imagery found in the fantasy works of Lewis Carroll—1865’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its 1871 sequel Through the Looking-Glass—such as changing size after taking pills or drinking an unknown liquid. Slick claimed the composition was supposed to be a slap to parents who read their children such novels and then wondered why their children later used drugs.

Monkey On My Back by Aerosmith  – written by Aersomith frontman Steven Tyler & lead guitarist Joe Perry for the 1989 album Pump. The song is one of Aerosmith’s most straightforward songs about how the band overcame drug abuse and addiction, and got the “monkey off their back.” In the video The Making of Pump, Steven Tyler discusses how it was one of the few songs on Pump with profane lyrics, in the line “feeding that fuckin’ monkey on my back”. But Tyler felt he needed to make use of the word, to be more harsh and garner more attention on the issue. He felt it would make kids’ ears perk up and listen to the lyrics and message of the song, which was more effective in telling the consequences of drug use, rather than the attitude of the time which was simply “just say no”.

Shake Me Like a Monkey by Dave Matthews Band  – from the album Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King, 2009. Matthews told Relix magazine about this piece of stutter-stepping funk: “Of all the songs on the album, this one, in a way, is the most throwaway lyric. But it’s not really throwaway because it’s like an invitation: Don’t be all highfalutin! Don’t be too good to feel good! Don’t be too hip to f–kin’ understand! Wake the f–k up! Get off your ass and feel some s–it…” More on this interview at Songfacts.

Monkey Man by the Rolling Stones – from the 1969 album Let It Bleed; Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote “Monkey Man” as a tribute to Italian pop artist Mario Schifano, whom they met on the set of his movie Umano Non Umano! (Human, Not Human!)

Shock the Monkey by Peter Gabriel – from the 1982 album Peter Gabriel, his fourth eponymous album. It is sometimes known by the title Security. The song is sometimes mistaken as being about shock therapy, but Gabriel has said it is a song about jealousy.

Black Sheep by Gin Wigmore – from New Zealand pop-singer Gin Wigmore’s 2011 album Gravel & Wine. I was first introduced to Gin Wigmore because her music was used in the VH-1 reality show Mob Wives (which I really liked and miss now that it’s not on anymore!

Black Sheep of the Family by Rainbow – from the album Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, released in 1975

Peace Frog by The Doors – from the 1970 album Morrison Hotel. The line in the lyrics “Blood in the streets in the town of New Haven” likely refers to Morrison’s December 9, 1967 arrest at the New Haven Arena during a concert. After an altercation with a police officer backstage, Morrison made the incident known to the concert audience, and was arrested for attempting to incite a riot. A similar line about Chicago probably refers to the conflict surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The video in my playlist points to some of his altercations with police and arena security.

Barracuda by Heart – the first single from Heart’s second album Little Queen in 1977.  Ann Wilson revealed in interviews that the song was about Heart’s anger towards Mushroom Records’ attempted publicity stunt involving her and her sister Nancy Wilson in a made-up incestuous affair. As producer Michael Flicker put it: “‘Barracuda’ was created conceptually out of a lot of this record business bullshit. Barracuda could be anyone from the local promotion man to the president of a record company. That is the barracuda. It was born out of that whole experience.”

Stray Cat Blues by the Rolling Stones – from the Stones 1968 Beggars Banquet album; The song is told from the perspective of a man lusting after having illegal sex with a 15-year-old groupie, reasoning that “it’s no hanging matter, it’s no capital crime.”

Honky Cat by Elton John – from the 1972 album Honky Château, the album’s lead-off track

Little Red Rooster by the Rolling Stones – “Little Red Rooster” (or “The Red Rooster” as it was first titled) is a blues standard credited to arranger and songwriter Willie Dixon. The song was first recorded in 1961 by American blues musician Howlin’ Wolf in the Chicago blues style. The Rolling Stones were among the first British rock groups to record modern electric blues songs. In 1964, they recorded “Little Red Rooster” with original member Brian Jones, a key player in the recording. Their rendition, which remains closer to the original arrangement than Cooke’s, became a number one record in the UK and continues to be the only blues song to reach the top of the British chart. The Stones frequently performed it on television and in concert and released several live recordings of the song. “Little Red Rooster” continues to be performed and recorded, making it one of Willie Dixon’s best-known compositions.

Dixie Chicken by Little Feat Dixie Chicken is the third studio album by the American rock band Little Feat, released in 1973. The album is considered their landmark album with the title track as their signature song that helped further define the Little Feat sound.

Law Dogs by the Doobie Brothers – a more recent release, “Law Dogs” comes from the Doobie Brothers thirteenth studio album, World Gone Crazy, released on September 28, 2010. It debuted at number 39 on the Billboard top 200 albums chart, their highest charting position since 1989. Per guitarist Tom Johnston, “Part of the inspiration of ‘World Gone Crazy’ is the world has gotten a little nuts. And between the wars that we’ve had, between violence in the streets and most of the cities, what people are doing to each other around the world is not stuff that would have happened 20 years ago.”

Crocodile Rock by Elton John – This song was written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, and was released in October 1972 in the UK and in November 1972 in the U.S. as a pre-release single from his forthcoming 1973 album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player. It became his first U.S. number-one single, reaching the top spot on 3 February 1973, and stayed there for three weeks.

This tells the story of a guy in the ’50s and ’60s who frequented a restaurant where the patrons loved an obscure dance called the Crocodile Rock. Because of all the events that happened in the ’60s, however, this unknown little dance forever vanished into history and no one cared anymore. Even his girlfriend, who also enjoyed “burning up to the Crocodile Rock,” left him. It’s a catchy little song with really sad lyrics.

Elton performed this on The Muppet Show when he appeared on a Season Two episode in 1977. A very popular song with kids, it made for a great opening number, with Elton performing in a swamp with a crocodile chorus. It’s pretty adorable. See for yourself:

The Lion Sleeps Tonight by the Tokens – A hunting song originally sung in Zulu in what is now Swaziland, the original title was “Mbube,” which means lion. This was popularized in the 1930s by South African singer Solomon Linda, who recorded it in 1939 with his group, The Evening Birds. Apparently they were a bold bunch, and got the idea from when they used to chase lions who were going after the cattle owned by their families.

There is a lot of background to this song and I’m just too darn tired to go into it so look it up if you’re interested. To keep this short and sweet, The Tokens (Hank Medress, Jay Siegel, and Phil and Mitch Margo) had a #1 hit with this song during the holiday season in 1961-62.

Eye of the Tiger by Survivor – in 1982, “Eye of the Tiger” was composed by American rock band Survivor. It was released as a single from their third album of the same name Eye of the Tiger and was also the theme song for the film Rocky III, which was released a day before the single.

Hungry Like the Wolf by Duran Duran – “Hungry Like the Wolf” is a song by the British new wave band Duran Duran. Written by the band members, the song was produced for their second studio album Rio. The song was released in May 1982 as the band’s fifth single in the United Kingdom. It reached the top 5 of the UK Singles Chart.

The music video for “Hungry Like the Wolf” was directed by Russell Mulcahy and filmed in the jungles of Sri Lanka, and evoked the atmosphere of the film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Although the band initially failed to break into the US market, MTV placed the “Hungry Like the Wolf” video into heavy rotation. Subsequently, the group gained much exposure; the song peaked at the number 3 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1983, and Duran Duran became an international sensation. The video won the first Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video in 1984.

I Love My Dog by Cat Stevens – “I Love My Dog” is a song written by Cat Stevens, and was his first single, appearing the following year on his debut album Matthew and Son. Stevens later acknowledged that he had essentially written the lyrics to the music of American jazz multi-instrumentalist Yusef Lateef’s “The Plum Blossom”, from his 1961 Eastern Sounds. Yusuf indicated that he “told Yusef Lateef about it, gave him a big check, and in fact, started paying him royalties.” The song is now released with credits that include Yusef Lateef.

I’ll Be Doggone by Marvin Gaye – “I’ll Be Doggone” is a 1965 song recorded by American soul singer Marvin Gaye and released on the Tamla label. The song talks about how a man tells his woman that he’ll be “doggone” about simple things but if she did him wrong that he’d be “long gone”.

It became his first million-selling record and his first number-one single on the R&B chart, staying there for two weeks, and was the first song Gaye recorded with Smokey Robinson as one of the songwriters of the record. The song was co-written by Robinson’s fellow Miracles members Pete Moore and Marv Tarplin. The Miracles also sang background on this recording, along with Motown’s long-standing female back-up group, The Andantes, and Miracle Marv Tarplin played lead guitar. “I’ll Be Doggone” gave Marvin his third top-ten pop hit, where it peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100, with that number matched by his follow-up record, “Ain’t That Peculiar”. (BTW, this song was also a contender in my Round Two Dog v Cat battle of soft rock dog songs and it came out the victor.

Fox on the Run by Sweet – In this song, the band is addressing a groupie, who is the “fox on the run.” Apparently she’s had more than one go with the band, as Brian Connolly sings that she doesn’t look the same – probably a bit more worn from her lifestyle. He also makes it clear that he has no interest in hearing her talk and certainly doesn’t want to know her name.

Sweet was produced by the glam rock architects Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn, who also wrote most of their songs, including all of their hits to this point. “Fox On The Run” was written by the band – Brian Connolly, Stephen Priest, Andrew Scott, Michael Tucker – and included on their 1974 album Desolation Boulevard.

After the album was released, the band parted ways with Chapman and Chinn and produced their own material. Their first effort was a reworking of “Fox On The Run,” which was originally helmed by Chapman/Chinn. Defying predictions of disaster, Sweet proved quite capable on their own, and the new version of “Fox,” with a bright chorus and bold echo, became a global hit, reaching #2 UK and charting across Europe (it was #1 in Germany, where Sweet was wildly popular). It also became one of the few American hits for the band when it was released in the US as the follow-up to their single “Ballroom Blitz.”

A Horse with No Name by America – from America’s self-titled debut album, “A Horse with No Name” is a song written by America’s Dewey Bunnell. It was the band’s first and most successful single, released in early 1972 in the United States, and topped the charts in several countries.

Wild Horses by Rolling Stones – “Wild Horses” is a song by the Rolling Stones from their 1971 album Sticky Fingers, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

Year of the Cat by Al Stewart – “Year of the Cat” is a single by Scottish singer-songwriter Al Stewart, released in July 1976. The song is the title track of his 1976 album Year of the Cat, and was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London in January 1976 by engineer Alan Parsons. The song reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1977. Although Stewart’s highest charting single on that chart was 1978’s “Time Passages”, “Year of the Cat” has remained Stewart’s signature recording, receiving regular airplay on both classic rock and folk rock stations.

Cat’s in the Cradle by Harry Chapin – “Cat’s in the Cradle” is a 1974 folk rock song by Harry Chapin from the album Verities & Balderdash. The single topped the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1974. As Chapin’s only No. 1 hit song, it became the best known of his work and a staple for folk rock music. Chapin’s recording of the song was nominated for the 1975 Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

Dog and Butterfly by Heart“Dog & Butterfly” is a song recorded by the rock band Heart. It is the title track to the band’s fourth studio album Dog & Butterfly and was released as the album’s second single. The song is a more subdued effort from the band, differing from past hard rock-oriented hits, as Ann and Nancy Wilson pulled from their folk music influences. The song charted moderately in the US in 1979, peaking at #34 on the Billboard Hot 100. Although it enjoyed only moderate chart success, the song has gone on to be viewed as a classic and has remained a set-list staple consistently through the years.

When Doves Cry by Prince – “When Doves Cry” is a song by American musician Prince, and the lead single from his 1984 album Purple Rain. It was a worldwide hit, and his first American number one single, topping the charts for five weeks. According to Billboard magazine, it was the top-selling single of the year. Following Prince’s death, the song re-charted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number eight, its first appearance in the top 10 since the week ending September 1, 1984.

The music video (directed by Prince himself) was released on MTV in June 1984. It opens with white doves emerging from double doors to reveal Prince in a bathtub. It also includes scenes from the Purple Rain film interspersed with shots of The Revolution performing and dancing in a white room. The final portion of the video incorporates a mirrored frame of the left half of the picture, creating a doubling effect. The video was nominated for Best Choreography at 1985’s MTV Video Music Awards. The video sparked controversy among network executives who thought that its sexual nature was too explicit for television.

Seagull by Bad Company – from English supergroup Bad Company’s eponymous debut album, released in June 1974. Written by Paul Rodgers and Mick Ralphs. Paul Rodgers (Classic Rock Revisited January 12, 2001): “Every song that we have done has its own story. ‘Seagull’ was written sitting on the beach. Music is about atmosphere. The best way to create the atmosphere is to actually be there. You don’t have to imagine it. It is right there. With Seagull, you could see the horizon. You can include that in the songs. That is what writing songs is all about; creating mood and atmosphere.” Bad Company was the first concert I ever attended, back in 1976 in Niagara Falls, NY. Back then the cost for a concert ticket was $6. Holy shit, I’m old!

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis – “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” is the first song from Genesis’s 1974 album of the same name. The song was released as a single in the U.S.. Although it did not chart, it was frequently played on American FM radio stations.

Like other songs on the album, the music and lyrics in “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” are partially derived from 1960s soul songs. The end of the song features the words “They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway. They say there’s always magic in the air” from The Drifters’ song “On Broadway”.

Freebird by Lynryd Skynyrd – a power ballad by American rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. The song was first featured on the band’s debut album (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) in 1973. It is considered to be Lynyrd Skynyrd’s signature song, is used as a finale during their live performances, and is their longest song, often going well over 14 minutes when played live.

Okay, this next one’s a stretch but I’m including it anyway because it’s all about a horse. I remember hearing it all the time on my transistor radio way back when. Here’s Wildfire by Michael Martin Murphy – This haunting soft rock song from 1975 describes a disillusioned homesteader captivated with the tragic story of a girl and her lost horse. The Nebraska girl died in a blizzard one year searching for Wildfire, her beloved horse that had broken out of his stall. Now their ghosts wander free, and the farmer, having lost his crops to weather, imagines joining them in death.

 

Hey, you’ve arrived at the next stop in our animal tour:

The Funny Farm

Here’s an animal playlist that should give you some giggles…or at least a smile or two. Enjoy!

 

Dead Skunk by Loudon Wainwright III – a 1972 novelty song

See Ya Later Alligator by Bill Haley – a 1950s rock and roll song written and first recorded by American singer-songwriter Bobby Charles but was a Top Ten hit for Bill Haley and His Comets in 1956.

What’s New, Pussycat? by Tom Jones – the theme song for the eponymous movie, sung by British singer Tom Jones, and written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1966, it peaked at number 3 in the U.S. and was Jones’ second entry on the Top 40.

Puppy Love by Paul Anka – a popular song written by Paul Anka in 1960 for Annette Funicello, whom he was dating at the time. Anka’s version reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Rockin’ Robin by Michael Jackson – written by Leon René under the pseudonym of Jimmie Thomas and recorded by Bobby Day in 1958. It was Day’s biggest hit single, becoming a No. 2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent one week at the top of the charts (number one hit) in R&B sales.

Michael Jackson recorded his own version of “Rockin’ Robin” in 1972, which was released as a single from his gold-certified solo album titled Got to Be There. It was the biggest hit from the album, hitting No. 1 on the Cash Box singles chart and peaking at no. 2 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts.

This was one of my favorite songs back then…Of course, it was perfect for me as I was 10 years old.

Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog by the Three Dog Night – “Joy to the World” is a song written by Hoyt Axton and made famous by the band Three Dog Night. The song is also popularly known by its opening lyric, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog.” Three Dog Night originally released the song on their fourth studio album, Naturally, in November 1970, and subsequently released an edited version of the song as a single in February 1971.

The song, which has been described by members of Three Dog Night as a “kid’s song” and a “silly song,” topped the singles charts in North America, was certified gold by the RIAA, and has since been covered by multiple artists.

The song is featured prominently in the film The Big Chill. It is sung by a child character at the beginning and the Three Dog Night recording is played over the end credits. It is also played at the end of every Denver Broncos home victory.

Rock Lobster by the B-52s – “Rock Lobster” is a song written by Fred Schneider and Ricky Wilson, two members of The B-52’s. It is part of the band’s 1979 self-titled debut album. The song became one of their signature tunes and it helped launch the band’s success.

“Rock Lobster” was the band’s first single to appear on the Billboard Hot 100, where it reached No. 56. A major hit in Canada, the single went all the way to No. 1 in the RPM national singles chart.

According to a “Behind the Vinyl” video with Fred Schneider for CHBM-FM, the song was mostly inspired by a discotheque in Atlanta called “2001”, where instead of having a light show, the club featured a slide show with pictures of puppies, babies and lobsters on a grill.

The song’s lyrics describe a beach party while mentioning both real and imagined marine animals (“There goes a dogfish, chased by a catfish, in flew a sea robin, watch out for that piranha, there goes a narwhal, here comes a bikini whale!”), with absurd noises accompanying each, provided by Kate Pierson on the higher-pitched sounds and Cindy Wilson the lower-pitched ones. The chorus consists of the words “Rock Lobster!” repeated on top of a keyboard line.

If you’re going to watch one video from this group, be sure to watch this one. It just about killed me the other night. I had been working on my post for hours and was just about to take a quick break and run to the bathroom but the Rock Lobster video started and I couldn’t move from my seat. I could feel the expression on my face as perplexed but oddly interested and I just couldn’t turn away. I truly had to pee so bad but I just couldn’t leave until the video ended. I was immobilized by sheer entertainment. I have always enjoyed this song and think it’s a riot. I get a real kick every time I hear it. But I had never seen it performed live. I was fascinated at the bizarre performance. The lead vocals dude: just couldn’t get enough! It’s that, um, interesting…

Who Let the Dogs Out by the Baha Men – “Who Let the Dogs Out?” is a song performed by the Bahamian group Baha Men, released as a single on July 26, 2000. The song peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart, as well as topping the charts in Australia and New Zealand, and reached the Top 40 in the United States. It was Britain’s fourth biggest-selling single of 2000, and went on to become one of the highest-selling singles of the decade not to reach number-one. The track went on to win the Grammy for Best Dance Recording on the 2001 Grammy Awards.

Muskrat Love by Captain & Tenille – “Muskrat Love” is a soft rock song written by Willis Alan Ramsey. The song depicts a romantic liaison between two anthropomorphic muskrats named Susie and Sam. It was first recorded in 1972 by Ramsey himself for his sole album release Willis Alan Ramsey. The song was originally titled “Muskrat Candlelight” referencing the song’s opening lyric. A 1973 cover version by the rock band America—retitled “Muskrat Love” for the lyrics that close the chorus—was a minor hit reaching number 67 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. (REALLY?? I didn’t know that! Did you??) In 1976, a cover by pop music duo Captain & Tennille resulted in the song’s highest profile, peaking at number four on the Hot 100 chart. It also reached number two on the Cash Box chart, which ranked it as the 30th biggest hit of 1976. Now THAT just blows me away…

Spiders & Snakes by Jim Stafford“Spiders & Snakes” is a 1974 hit song recorded by Jim Stafford and written by Stafford and David Bellamy. It was the second of four U.S. Top 40 singles released from his eponymous debut album and also the highest-charting.

The song is about a boy who, although he is shy, has a girl who likes him named Mary Lou. He makes faltering attempts to respond to her when they are alone, which finally include trying to give her a frog. She promptly protests and summarily rebuffs him. Still in school, they later develop a more mature relationship with the boy as the initiator instead of Mary Lou, but when they are once again alone she nonetheless feels the need to remind him, still nervous, that she does “not” like spiders and snakes, or any other such similar creatures, and that it takes something else to satisfy her loving desires.

“Spiders and Snakes” was one of the top hits of 1974, spending one week at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100. In Canada, the song reached number one. The song spent five and a half months on the US charts, sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA on March 8, 1974.

 

A Beatles Set

It seems that the Fab Four were definitely into animals too. They had so many songs with animals in the titles that I decided we ought to take a pit stop on this little journey and kick back with an exclusive Beatles set. Enjoy!

The playlist features the following Beatles classics:

Hey Bulldog – from Yellow Submarine, 1969

Rocky Raccoon – from the 1968 double album The Beatles (aka the “White Album”)

Octopus’ Garden – written and sung by Ringo Starr (credited to his real name Richard Starkey) from the Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road. George Harrison, who assisted Ringo with the song, commented: “‘Octopus’s Garden’ is Ringo’s song. It’s only the second song Ringo has ever written, mind you, and it’s lovely.” He added that the song gets very deep into the listener’s consciousness “…because it’s so peaceful. I suppose Ringo is writing cosmic songs these days without even realizing it.” It was the last song released by the Beatles featuring Starr on lead vocals.

Blackbird – from the 1968 double album The Beatles (aka “the White Album”). The song was performed as a solo effort by Paul McCartney. The song was also written by McCartney, although it is credited to Lennon–McCartney. McCartney has stated that the lyrics of the song were inspired by hearing the call of a blackbird in Rishikesh, India, as well as by the unfortunate state of race relations in the United States in the 1960s.

I Am the Walrus – released in November 1967. It was featured in the Beatles’ television film Magical Mystery Tour in December of that year, as a track on the associated Magical Mystery Tour album. Since the single and the double EP held at one time in December 1967 the top two slots on the British singles chart, the song had the distinction of being at number 1 and number 2 simultaneously.

Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me & My Monkey – from the 1968 double album The Beatles (aka “the White Album”). The song was written by John Lennon (and credited to Lennon–McCartney).

 

Ah, we’re nearing the end of our journey through this musical jungle. To close this post, I thought it only fitting to slow it down with probably the most appropriate album for our 4M theme today, Pink Floyd’s 1977 concept album: ANIMALS. This is by far their best album, in my humble opinion. Of course I have a strong attachment to 1973’s Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd’s eighth album, as most of my generation does. But Animals — Wow! Now that is an album that I spent many a night tripping to.

Animals is the tenth studio album by English rock band Pink Floyd. It was first released in January 1977 by Harvest Records in the United Kingdom and by Columbia Records in the United States. It is a concept album that provides a scathing critique of the social-political conditions of late 1970s Britain, and presents a marked change in musical style from their earlier work. Animals was recorded at the band’s Britannia Row Studios in London, but its production was punctuated by the early signs of discord that, three years later, would culminate in keyboardist Richard Wright leaving the band. The album’s cover image, a pig floating between two chimneys of the Battersea Power Station, was conceived by the band’s bassist and lead songwriter Roger Waters, and was designed by long-time collaborator Storm Thorgerson.

The album was released to generally positive reviews in the United Kingdom, where it reached number 2 on the UK Albums Chart. It was also a success in the United States, reaching number 3 on the US Billboard 200. It scored on US charts for half a year and these steady sales have resulted in its certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) at 4x platinum.

Loosely based on George Orwell’s political fable Animal Farm, the album’s lyrics describe various classes in society as different kinds of animals: the combative dogs, the despotic ruthless pigs, and the “mindless and unquestioning herd” of sheep. Whereas the novella focuses on Stalinism, the album is a critique of capitalism and differs again in that the sheep eventually rise up to overpower the dogs. The album was developed from a collection of unrelated songs into a concept which, in the words of author Glenn Povey, “described the apparent social and moral decay of society, likening the human condition to that of mere animals”.

The album is comprised of only 5 songs (4 really, because the first and last song on the album is a two-parter: Part 1 opens the album and Part 2 closes it. The songs, and their meanings, are listed below:

Pigs on the Wing (Part 1)

Dogs

Pigs (3 Different Ones)

Sheep

Pigs on the Wing (Part 2)

The following playlist includes each of the Animals songs in order of their appearance on the album. So, take a deep breath, find a mellow space, smoke a joint if you have one, put on the headphones and take a dreamy trip into this social commentary classic.

“Pigs on the Wing” is a two-part song, opening and closing the album. According to various interviews, it was written by Roger Waters as a declaration of love to his new wife Carolyne Christie. This song is significantly different from the other three songs on the album, “Dogs”, “Pigs”, and “Sheep” in that the other songs are dark, whereas this one is lighter-themed, as well as also being much shorter in duration at under a minute and a half while the others are over 10 minutes in length.

“Dogs”: Fitting into the album’s Orwellian concept of comparing human behavior to various animals, “Dogs” concentrates on the aggressive, ruthlessly competitive world of business, describing a high-powered businessman. The first two verses detail his predatory nature — outwardly charming and respectable with his “club tie and a firm handshake, a certain look in the eye and an easy smile”, while behind this facade he lies waiting “to pick out the easy meat…to strike when the moment is right”, and to stab those who trust him in the back. Subsequent verses portray the emptiness of his existence catching up to him as he grows older, retiring to the south rich but unloved: “just another sad old man, all alone and dying of cancer”, and drowning under the weight of a metaphorical stone.

The final verse explores a number of aspects of business life and how it compares to dogs, for example taking chances and being “trained not to spit in the fan”, losing their individuality (“broken by trained personnel”), obeying their superiors (“fitted with collar and chain”), being rewarded for good behaviour (“given a pat on the back”), working harder than the other workers (“breaking away from the pack”) and getting to know everyone but spending less time with family (“only a stranger at home”). Recommended by a friend of Roger Waters named Joel Eaves, this line was personal to him as he was split from his family at infancy, being “broken away”, as he put it. He later joined the Air Force squadron known as “Wolfpack”, which directly inspired the implementation of this line. Every line of this verse begins with the words “Who was”, which prompted comparison to Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl”.[6] However, Waters has denied the Ginsberg poem was any influence on his lyrics. Instead, these lines can be seen as subordinate clauses to the lyric line that precedes them (“And you believe at heart everyone’s a killer/Who was born in a house full of pain/Who was [etc.]”).

“Pigs (Three Different Ones)” – In the album’s three parts, “Dogs”, “Pigs” and “Sheep”, pigs represent the people whom Roger Waters considers to be at the top of the social ladder, the ones with wealth and power; they also manipulate the rest of society and encourage them to be viciously competitive and cutthroat, so the pigs can remain powerful.

The song’s three verses each presents a different “pig”, the identities of which remain a subject of speculation, because only the third verse clearly identifies its subject as being morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse, who is described as a “house proud town mouse” who has to “keep it all on the inside.”

Along with dogs and sheep, pigs are one of 3 animals represented on the album. The pigs represent people, like Whitehouse, who feel they are the moral authorities. The sheep are the people who obey the pigs and believe that it is the “Christian” thing to do and are just your normal, hard-working innocent bystanders. Dogs are people who are against the pigs and are back stabbers.

Roger Waters wrote this about Mary Whitehouse, a British woman who led a movement to keep sex off TV. He felt Whitehouse had no right to decide what other people should watch. Speaking to Mojo magazine Waters recalled:

“Oh, she was everywhere pontificating on TV. Interfering in everybody’s life, making a nuisance of herself and trying to drag English society back to an age of Victorian propriety.”

In 1992, on the Westwood One radio special Pink Floyd : The 25th Anniversary Special, Roger Waters told Jim Ladd that the “Whitehouse” mentioned had nothing to do with the home of the U.S. President, the White House, after Ladd told Waters he interpreted the last verse as an attack on Gerald Ford, who was US president at the time the song was recorded.

Mary Whitehouse was a famous name in the UK at the time the song was written. However, Waters admitted to Mojo that nobody listening to Animals in America had a clue who she was: He said: “Everybody in the United States assumed it was an attack on the president, on Washington, on the White House.”

Halfway through the song, David Gilmour uses a Heil talk box on the guitar solo to mimic the sound of pigs. This is the first use of a talk box by Pink Floyd.

“Sheep” – The sheep represents the mindless people who follow the herd. There is a “subliminal” message on this song that is a parody of the 23rd Psalm. It is heard beneath the music in a robotic, distorted voice, with sheep heard in the background. “The Lord is my shepherd, He converteth me to lamb cutlets….”.

Talking about “Sheep” in 1978, Waters said the song was inspired by the 1976 Notting Hill riots in west London. He described it “as my sense of what was to come down… with the riots in England.”

When Mojo asked Waters in 2017 if he still went along with the above quote, he said: “It may well be about all that. Sheep does have that idea of revolution, of people being led to slaughter.”

Album Personnel:

  • David Gilmour – lead guitar, co-lead vocals, rhythm and acoustic guitar on “Dogs”, bass guitar on “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” and “Sheep”, talk box on “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”
  • Nick Mason – drums, percussion, tape effects
  • Roger Waters – lead and harmony vocals, acoustic guitar on “Pigs on the Wing”, rhythm guitar on “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” and “Sheep”, tape effects, vocoder, bass guitar on “Dogs”
  • Richard Wright – Hammond organ, electric piano, Minimoog, ARP string synthesizer, piano, clavinet, harmony vocals on “Dogs”

 

THAT’S A WRAP!

We’ve come to the end of our ride through my Animal Kingdom. I sure hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Let me know what you think in the Comments section below. What are some of your favorite Animal songs? What did you like best about your trip here today?

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 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:

 

 

 

Advertisements

Monday’s Music Moves Me: SONGS IN SIGN LANGUAGE

It’s Monday so you know what that means: MUSIC! Today’s Monday’s Music Moves Me theme is totally different than any other that I’ve ever done and I’ve really enjoyed diving into it. Our Conductor for the month of July has been Michelle at Musings and Merriment with Michelle and she’s chosen a unique and challenging theme of presenting songs in sign language.

My first exposure to sign language was when I was in high school. I was hanging out at my friend Lee’s house, spending the night on the weekend. I loved hanging out over there because first of all she was/is absolutely hilarious and, secondly, it comes naturally because her whole family was extraordinarily funny and just a blast to be around. I can’t remember exactly the year but it was back when Saturday Night Live was the shit. It was when the series was at its height and its comedic talent reigned supreme. This was back in the days of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players (Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi. Chevy Chase [final episode: October 30, 1976], Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Bill Murray [first episode: January 15, 1977], Laraine Newman and Gilda Radner), the Coneheads, that family of aliens with their bald conical heads (Dan Aykroyd as father Beldar, Jane Curtin as mother Prymaat, and Laraine Newman as daughter Connie), and Gilda Radner as Roseanne Roseannadanna as the consumer affairs reporter on the Weekend Update segment. I bring this up only because Lee did an amazing incredible imitation of Gilda Radner doing Roseanne Roseannadanna and every time I think of her, I inevitably think of the many nights spent over at her house watching SNL and all of us cracking up when she’d do her Gilda impression.

Anyway, it was through Lee that I experienced up close and personal the beautiful language of signing. Lee’s cousin (I believe it was her cousin) was deaf and she committed to completely learning sign language so they could communicate. Watching the two of them talk, using these beautiful hand gestures, incorporating their fingers and arms with facial expressions, and to see how effectively they communicated and understood each other without uttering a single sound was just fascinating to me. Even more beautiful was seeing the genuine laughter shared between the two of them and how through their sign language, he became part of the group conversation and so naturally joined in the fun we were all having.

That was my first exposure to sign language but certainly not the last. My church employs an interpreter for the deaf and hard of hearing and I always find myself captivated and completely mesmerized by the signing of the sermons and the songs.

Michelle asked us to present songs in sign language. I found some really cool songs to share with you. Some of them I’m familiar with and a few others are new-to-me. Although most are not my typical genre of choice, I really like them all. I hope you enjoy listening to and watching them as much as I did. A list of the playlist songs follow. After that I’m sharing some videos of a really cute couple who sign a few of their favorite songs. They will certainly put a smile on your face. And then there’s one more surprise that I just had to share so be sure to read all the way to the end.

  1. Rolling in the Deep by Adele
  2. She Drives Me Crazy by the Fine Young Cannibals
  3. Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars
  4. Shape of You by Ed Sheeran
  5. My Valentine by Paul McCartney, featuring Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp
  6. Imagine by John Lennon
  7. Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus
  8. We Will Rock You by Queen
  9. Happy by Pharrell Williams
  10. The Lazy Song by Bruno Mars
  11. I’m Deaf by Sean Forbes
  12. Hell No by Ingrid Michaelson

And here’s one that I would almost never listen to because, well, it’s Marilyn Manson (whose real name is Brian Hugh Warner, born 1969 in Canton, Ohio), that heavy metal shock rock-er who came up with his stage name by a juxtaposing two opposing American pop cultural icons: Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson. His style of music doesn’t appeal to me at all BUT I have to say that I really dig his 2003 song “This is the New Shit” — It’s actually quite catchy. And it’s extremely enjoyable to watch B. Storm interpret it for us. See what you think. Note: the first minute or so is a disclaimer and message from B. Storm, delivered in silence.

 

Here is this adorable couple I found on YouTube. Tina Cleveland is an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter and her fiancé Paul Sirimarco is learning to sign so they could make these super heartwarming videos.

 

Finally, I just had to share this! From a week ago (7/18/2018) on the site of Boston’s Classic Rock station WZLX 100.7fm: The headline reads:

Sign Language Interpreter Owns This Slayer Concert

Followed by this:

You have to love someone who throws themselves into their work. Take this sign language interpreter at a Slayer concert. She could just sign the words, but she wants the hearing impaired to feel the bombastic 120 decibel sound storm, scream fest that is a Slayer concert. Bravo!

And here she is: I’m no Slayer fan but I sure did appreciate her interpretation.

 

So that’s my Songs in Sign Language post for this week’s Monday’s Music Moves Me. So what did you think? Do you know sign language? If so, how and why did you learn it?

Did you know that it is unclear how many sign languages currently exist worldwide? A common misconception is that all sign languages are the same worldwide or that sign language is international. Each country generally has its own, native sign language, and some have more than one (although there are also substantial similarities among all sign languages). The 2013 edition of Ethnologue lists 137 sign languages. It is important to note that just because a spoken language is intelligible transnationally, such as English in the United States and the United Kingdom, does not mean that the sign languages from those regions are as well; ASL and British Sign Language (BSL) were formed independently and are therefore not mutually intelligible. Interesting stuff!

Regarding SNL: this is a message to my hometown friend, mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Hey Lee G, this one’s for you! Miss ya tons Girlfriend…

 

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:

 

 

 

 

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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:

Monday’s Music Moves Me – The Kaleidoscope of Color Series – The BLUE Edition: PART 1

Today’s Monday’s Music Moves Me is a freebie theme, meaning we can post anything. Well, guess what I’m going to do mine on today? If you guessed another edition in my Kaleidoscope of Color Songs Series, you’d be right! Surprise! BUT this is the FINAL color in my series: BLUE. There are so many of my favorite songs that have blue in the title, I am going to do this last edition in two parts so the post isn’t too long (“too long” being subject to interpretation).

Here is The BLUE Edition: PART 1 playlist. Below is a list of the songs along with some information about each song that I found interesting. Hopefully you will find it interesting as well. Oh yeah, and some cool info about the color Blue is at the end. Enjoy!

Baby Blue by Badfinger – “Baby Blue” is a song by the band Badfinger from their 1971 album, Straight Up. The song was written by Pete Ham, produced by Todd Rundgren, and released on Apple Records. The “Dixie” addressed in the song’s lyrics was a real person, a former girlfriend of singer/songwriter Pete Ham. The woman was Dixie Armstrong, who Ham had dated during Badfinger’s last US tour.

Badfinger 1971

The last US Top 40 hit for Badfinger, this song would mark the beginning of a devastating decline for the band. They were signed to The Beatles’ Apple Records – Straight Up was their third album on the label and featured contributions from George Harrison. With “Baby Blue” and “Day After Day” getting a steady stream of airplay and Beatles comparisons, they toured twice in 1972 to packed houses.

All was not well behind the scenes, however, as Apple Records was on shaky ground. Badfinger recorded their fourth album, but their negotiations with Apple got snarled and a lawsuit prevented its release. These legal entanglements kept Badfinger from touring or recording while they were at the peak of their powers, and also drained them financially. In 1973, they signed to Warner Brothers and recorded their fifth album. Nearly two years after Straight Up hit the racks, Apple finally issued Badfinger’s fourth album, titled Ass, in the US in November of that year. Their self-titled Warners album came out in February 1974.

By this time, the band’s sound had fallen out of favor, and both albums underperformed. With their legal and financial problems becoming even more burdensome, Pete Ham hanged himself in 1975. His suicide note made it clear that the business dealings were his undoing; he expressed hopes that his death would serve as a cautionary tale for aspiring musicians. He was 27.

FUN FACT: The chaos that was enveloping the Apple UK operation at the time was strongly evident with regard to this song. While Apple US gave the song a picture sleeve and a remix to ensure that it was a hit, Apple UK remained unaware of its commercial potential. Although the single was even assigned a release number for the UK (Apple 42), “Baby Blue” was never actually released as a UK single.

FUN FACT: “Baby Blue” regained fame four decades later upon being featured in the 2013 series finale of AMC’s Breaking Bad, which, as reported by the show’s creator Vince Gilligan, uses the track’s title lyric as a reference to the special and iconic blue methamphetamine produced by main character Walter White. It was played in the show’s final minutes, that iconic closing scene. (BTW, I was a huge fan of Breaking Bad. I featured this scene in a “Blood, Boobs and Carnage” blog-hop a few years ago. You can check it out here).

Or you can see this final scene that includes the very end, when the Baby Blue song plays (the video below does NOT include the carnage in the mind-blowing ending as shown in the link above):

Online streams increased in popularity immediately following the broadcast. According to Nielsen Soundscan, 5,300 downloads were purchased the night of the broadcast. The song appeared on the Billboard Digital Songs chart at No. 32 the week ending October 19, 2013. Joey Molland, the last surviving member of the classic line-up of Badfinger, took to Twitter to express his excitement at the song’s use in the finale and subsequently began to retweet news articles about the song’s usage in the finale. It became a top-selling song on iTunes following the broadcast. As a result, the song charted in the UK for the first time, reaching No. 73. It also charted at No. 35 in Ireland.

Jackie Blue by Ozark Mountain Daredevils – “Jackie Blue” is a single by The Ozark Mountain Daredevils from their 1974 album, It’ll Shine When It Shines. The song reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent two weeks at #1 (May 10-17) on the Cashbox Singles Chart in the U.S. It was also a hit internationally in 1975: #2 in Canada, #9 in New Zealand, #10 in South Africa, and #27 in Australia. The song was sung by the group’s drummer, Larry Lee.

This song is about a woman who is in pursuit of happiness but never gives anything a long enough time to make her happy. She gets bored too easily – she’s flighty, or indifferent. This was written by band members Steve Cash and Larry Lee. It’s inspired by someone they met in Los Angeles who was strung out on drugs.

Radio stations usually played an edited version omitting the last verse. This verse pretty well sums up what the whole tune is about…

“Everyday in your indigo eyes

I watch the sunset but I don’t see it rise

Moonlight and stars in your strawberry wine

You’d take the world but you won’t take the time”

Blue Morning, Blue Day by Foreigner – “Blue Morning, Blue Day” is the third single from Foreigner’s second album, Double Vision.

This sinister-sounding song takes us inside the head of a guy who can’t sleep and is desperately pleading with his girl, trying to keep her from leaving. The song was written by Foreigner’s songwriting team of lead singer Lou Gramm and guitarist Mick Jones.

In our interview with Gramm, he said: “It talks about a young musician that’s burning the candle at both ends. He has a lot on his mind, and walks the street at night.”

Blue is a versatile color for Lou Gramm, who uses it here as a metaphor for misery. He used the color in a different context on his 1987 solo hit “Midnight Blue”; he also has a song on his 1989 solo album called “True Blue Love.”

This single from Double Vision followed “Hot Blooded” and the title track. Critical adulation eluded the band (witness their snub from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), but the group earned legions of fans around this time: each of their first four albums sold at least 5 million copies.  “Blue Morning, Blue Day” reached number 15 in the charts in the U.S. and 45 in the U.K.

Suite Madame Blue by Styx – “Suite Madame Blue” is from Styx’ fifth album Equinox, released in December 1975. The album marked the final appearance of original Styx guitarist John Curulewski who left the band abruptly following the release of Equinox. The band went into a frantic search to find a replacement for their upcoming tour to support Equinox. Soon after, they found Tommy Shaw.

The album’s biggest hit was the track “Lorelei” (another favorite of mine) which was Styx’s second US Top 30 hit. The other well-known song in the album was “Suite Madame Blue” (the title of which has a play on the word “sweet” to refer to the musical term of “suites”, i.e. unrelated instrumental successions) which was written about the upcoming Bicentennial of the US.

Dennis DeYoung wrote this in 1975 as America was gearing up for its Bi-Centennial celebration in 1976. The song is not a celebration of the event, but a look at how it was being exploited. He explained in Classic Rock Revisited:

“The 200th anniversary of America was being totally taken over by commercialization in a rather unceremonious fashion. I had a moment of reflection. I had grown up in the so called glory days of the United States of America, which was post World War II until 1970. To live in this country at that time was really the golden age. The fallibility of the United States was something that struck me and that set the tone for ‘Suite Madam Blue.’ Maybe I was fearful of being literal – I think I probably was.”

The track became a staple for all Styx tours with Dennis DeYoung. It’s a rare example of a Styx song that (briefly) requires four voice parts; during the Return to Paradise tour in 1996, the “America” bridge would be sung by DeYoung, Shaw, James Young and the usually silent Chuck Panozzo.

Although the Equinox album stalled at #58, it went Gold in 1977 shortly before the release of The Grand Illusion (1977).

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes by Crosby Stills & Nash (CSN) – “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” is a suite of short songs written by Stephen Stills and performed by Crosby, Stills & Nash (CSN). It appeared on the group’s self-titled debut album in 1969 and was released as a single, hitting #21 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart. In Canada, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” peaked at number 11. The song is a suite in the classical sense, i.e. an ordered set of musical pieces.

This wasn’t their first single, or even their biggest, but certainly one of Crosby, Stills & Nash’s most well-known songs. It established the harmony style that would be the group’s trademark for years to come. Nash revealed to Rolling Stone that of the CS&N trio, Stills was the only to play on this song. All three contributed vocals.

CSN performed “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” at the Woodstock and Live Aid festivals, and their performance at the former is featured in the film Woodstock (1970).

The title “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” (a play on words for “Sweet Judy Blue Eyes”) refers to Stephen Stills’ former girlfriend, folk singer/songwriter Judy Collins, and the lyrics to most of the suite’s sections consist of his thoughts about her and their imminent breakup. Collins is known for her piercing blue eyes.

In their 1991 boxed set, Stills said:

“It started out as a long narrative poem about my relationship with Judy Collins. It poured out of me over many months and filled several notebooks. I had a hell of a time getting the music to fit. I was left with all these pieces of song and I said, ‘Let’s sing them together and call it a suite,’ because they were all about the same thing and they led up to the same point.”

During a July 15, 2007 interview for the National Public Radio program Just Roll Tape, Stills revealed that Collins was present in the studio when the demo tapes were recorded. Collins had advised Stills “not to stay [at the studio] all night.” Stills later commented that “the breakup was imminent…we were both too large for one house.” Stills said that he liked parts of this demo version of “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” better than the released version.

Collins and Stills had met in 1967 and dated for two years. In 1969, she was appearing in the New York Shakespeare Festival musical production of Peer Gynt and had fallen in love with her co-star Stacy Keach, eventually leaving Stills for him. Stills was devastated by the possible breakup and wrote the song as a response to his sadness. In a 2000 interview, Collins gave her impressions of when she first heard the song:

“[Stephen] came to where I was singing one night on the West Coast and brought his guitar to the hotel and he sang me “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” the whole song. And of course it has lines in it that referred to my therapy. And so he wove that all together in this magnificent creation. So the legacy of our relationship is certainly in that song.”

“Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” has four distinct sections (on the full album version). The shortened version released as a single cut several verses out. The final section is the only part that stayed fully intact on the single.

The final section (the coda) is sung in Spanish, starting at 6:34 until the song concludes. The “doo-doo-doo-da-doo” backing vocals are the best known segment of “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”, with Stills singing Spanish lyrics in the background.

This last verse in Spanish is about Cuba. It was sung in Spanish because Stephen Stills didn’t want it easily understood since it had little to do with the theme of the song. Stills put that part in simply because the song had gone on forever and he didn’t want it to just lay there at the end.

The Spanish lyrics are as follows: “Que linda me recuerdo a Cuba. La reina de la Mar Caribe. Quiero solo visitarme ayí. Y que triste que no puedo vaya.”

Here’s the translation:

“How nice it will (or would) be to take you to Cuba The queen of the Caribbean Sea I only want to visit you there And how sad that I can’t, damn!”

Indigo Blues by the Smithereens – The Smithereens are an American rock band from Carteret, New Jersey. The group formed in 1980 with members Pat DiNizio (vocals & guitar), Jim Babjak (guitar & vocals), Mike Mesaros (bass guitar & vocals), and Dennis Diken (drums & percussion).

The band is perhaps best known for a string of modest hits in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including “Only a Memory”, “A Girl Like You” and “Too Much Passion”. The Smithereens have collaborated with numerous musicians, both in the studio (Belinda Carlisle, Julian Lennon, Lou Reed, Suzanne Vega) and live (Graham Parker and The Kinks). The band’s name comes from a Yosemite Sam catchphrase, “Varmint, I’m a-gonna blow you to smithereens!”

The Smithereens are known for writing and playing catchy 1960s-influenced power pop. The group gained publicity when the single “Blood and Roses” from its first album was included on the soundtrack for Dangerously Close, and the music video got moderate rotation on MTV. “Blood and Roses” was also featured on the 1980s TV show Miami Vice during the episode ‘The Savage’ (first aired February 6, 1987).

The group spent some of its initial semi-celebrity phase defending itself in Rolling Stone against thinly-veiled accusations of sounding too much like the Byrds and the Beatles. Along with a basic Eastern-coast roots-rock sound that owed much to the inspirations of DiNizio, including the Who, the Clash, Elvis Costello, and Nick Lowe, the Smithereens deployed a uniquely retro obsession with Mod, the late British Invasion pop of John’s Children and the Move, and other artifacts of 1950s and 1960s culture that lent its music substance. But DiNizio has stated that his single biggest influence was Buddy Holly: “Listening to Buddy Holly, I rediscovered my enjoyment of simple pop structures and pretty melodies….I’ve always thought of him as a kindred spirit.”  And kindred they may now be: Pat DiNizio died on December 12, 2017.

I became familiar with the “Indigo Blues” song from listening to the Smithereen’s fourth studio album Blow Up. Released in late 1991, the album charted at #120 in the U.S. The second single, “Too Much Passion”, became the group’s second top-40 single, peaking at #37. “Top of the Pops” was released as the first single of the album.

I picked up a CD of the album one night while poking around in a used record shop. I listened to that album over and over and over while going through a tough break-up. I can truly say I like every song on the entire album (especially “Tell Me When Did Things Go So Wrong” and “Get Ahold of My Heart” and “Too Much Passion” and “Anywhere You Are”). It’s a deviation from my typical taste in music (and maybe that’s why it grabbed me so much) but it’s an excellent album.

Blow Up’s eye-catching cover design is by movie poster/title sequence artist Saul Bass (“Vertigo,” “West Side Story,” “North by Northwest,” “Psycho”).

Tangled Up in Blue by Bob Dylan – “Tangled Up in Blue” is a song by Bob Dylan. It appeared on his album Blood on the Tracks in 1975. Released as a single, it reached #31 on the Billboard Hot 100. Rolling Stone ranked it #68 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Dylan wrote this in the summer of 1974 at a farm he had just bought in Minnesota. He had been touring with The Band earlier that year. The song was influenced by the art classes Dylan was taking with Norman Raeben, a popular teacher in New York. Dylan credits Raeben for making him look at things from a nonlinear perspective, which was reflected in his songs.

“Tangled Up in Blue” is one of the clearest examples of Dylan’s attempts to write “multi-dimensional” songs which defied a fixed notion of time and space. Dylan was influenced by his recent study of painting and the Cubist school of artists, who sought to incorporate multiple perspectives within a single plane of view. In a 1978 interview Dylan explained this style of songwriting: “What’s different about it is that there’s a code in the lyrics, and there’s also no sense of time. There’s no respect for it. You’ve got yesterday, today and tomorrow all in the same room, and there’s very little you can’t imagine not happening.”

The Telegraph (aka The Daily Telegraph, a national British daily broadsheet newspaper published in London) has described the song as “The most dazzling lyric ever written, an abstract narrative of relationships told in an amorphous blend of first and third person, rolling past, present and future together, spilling out in tripping cadences and audacious internal rhymes, ripe with sharply turned images and observations and filled with a painfully desperate longing.”

As Neil McCormick remarked in 2003: “A truly extraordinary epic of the personal, an unreliable narrative carved out of shifting memories like a five-and-a-half-minute musical Proust.”

The lyrics are at times opaque, but the song seems to be (like most of the songs on the album) the tale of a love that has, for the time being, ended, although not by choice; the last verse begins:

So now I’m goin’ back again,

I got to get to her somehow…

(and ends):

We always did feel the same,

We just saw it from a different point of view,

Tangled up in blue.

This is a very personal song for Dylan. It deals with the changes he was going through, including his marriage falling apart. Dylan has often stated that the song took “ten years to live and two years to write”. Regarding the song and the album Blood on the Tracks, Dylan has said, “A lot of people tell me they enjoy that album. It’s hard for me to relate to that. I mean, it, you know, people enjoying the type of pain, you know?”

Dylan and his first wife, Sara Lowndes, divorced in 1977. As part of the settlement, she got half the royalties from the songs Dylan wrote while they were married, including this one.

When Dylan performs this song in concert he uses the third person perspective (He and She) that is on the version found on The Bootleg Series Vol 1-3 album instead of the first person perspective that is on Blood on the Tracks. He also alters some of the lyrics, for instance: “One day the axe just fell” is changed to “One day it all went to hell.”

FUN FACT: According to novelist Ron Rosenbaum, Bob Dylan once told him that he’d written “Tangled up in Blue”, after spending a weekend immersed in Joni Mitchell’s 1971 album Blue.

Behind Blue Eyes by The Who – “Behind Blue Eyes” is a song by the English rock band The Who. It was released in October 1971 as the second single from their fifth album Who’s Next and was originally written by Pete Townshend for his Lifehouse project. The song is one of The Who’s best-known recordings and has been covered by many artists.

Pete Townshend originally wrote this about a character in his “Lifehouse” project, which was going to be a film similar to The Who’s Tommy and Quadrophenia. Townshend never finished “Lifehouse,” but the songs ended up on the album Who’s Next.

Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey both have blue eyes, but the song is not autobiographical. Townshend has said that he wrote it to show “How lonely it is to be powerful.”

Townshend has explained that he never behaved like a typical rock star when he was on tour, especially when it came to groupies, which he tried to avoid. He says it was a run-in with a groupie that was the impetus for this song. Townshend, who got married in 1968, was tempted by a groupie after The Who’s June 9, 1970 concert in Denver. He says that he went back to his room alone and wrote a prayer beginning, “If my fist clenches, crack it open…” The prayer was more or less asking for help in resisting this temptation. The other words could be describing Townshend’s self-pity and how hard it is to resist.

Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain by Willie Nelson – “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” is a song written by songwriter Fred Rose. Originally performed by Roy Acuff, the song has been covered by many artists, such as Hank Williams Sr. and Charley Pride. Also the song was later recorded by Willie Nelson as part of his 1975 album Red Headed Stranger. Both the song and album would become iconic in country music history, and jump start Nelson’s success as a singer and recording artist.

Prior to the success of “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” Willie Nelson had enjoyed widespread success primarily as a songwriter, with such songs as “Crazy” (Patsy Cline) and “Hello Walls” (Faron Young). As a performer, meanwhile, Nelson had hit the Top 10 of the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart just twice; it had happened in 1962, once as a solo artist (“Touch Me”) and again as part of a duet with Shirley Collie (“Willingly”). Thereafter, Nelson had approached the Top 20 on occasion, but went 13 years without a Top 10 hit.

In October 1975, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” became Nelson’s first No. 1 hit as a singer, and at year’s end was the third-biggest song of 1975 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. In addition, the song gained modest airplay on Top 40 radio, reaching number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Even by the standards of sorrowful country songs, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” is one somber tune. The singer kisses his love goodbye, knowing he’ll never see her again. As he sings it, he’s now an old man who never found true love again and looks forward to meeting her in heaven.

Singing the song night after night took an emotional toll on Nelson, who was a notorious drinker in the late ’70s. He explained in a Hot Press interview: “It’s really difficult to sing ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain’ or ‘Always On My Mind’ without getting emotionally involved, especially when the audience gets emotionally involved and you feel their feelings. You can only wallow in your own misery for so long without saying, ‘Wait a minute, I want a drink!'”

Nelson acclaimed as a songwriter, but he didn’t write this one. It was composed by Fred Rose, whose country hits include “Crazy Heart,” “Don’t Bring Me Posies,” “Take These Chains From My Heart” and “Kaw-Liga.”

Roy Acuff, who was Rose’ partner in the music publishing company Acuff-Rose Music, was the first to record the song, releasing it as a single in 1947 credited to Roy Acuff And His Smoky Mountain Boys. In ensuing years, many other artists recorded the song, including Roger Whittaker, Gene Vincent and Slim Whitman.

Willie Nelson recorded the song for his concept album Red Headed Stranger, which is based on a song of the same name written by Carl Stutz and Edith Lindeman and recorded by Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith. In that song, a mysterious rider comes through town leading a horse that belonged to his dead lover. Nelson revised the tale to make the stranger a preacher who killed his lover because she was cheating on him. “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” fit the concept of the album, as it finds the stranger thinking back to his lost love.

Willie Nelson first made the Hot 100 as a songwriter in 1961 with “Crazy” (#9, recorded by Patsy Cline) and “Hello Walls” (#12, recorded by Faron Young), but this was his first trip to the chart as an artist. It was also his first #1 country hit, and it earned him the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. Nelson’s singing career took off, and he soon became a household name.

Fun Fact: This was the last song Elvis Presley played before he died. In the early morning of August 16, 1977, he played it on his piano in Graceland. Later that day, he died from an overdose of prescription drugs.

Blue Eyes by Elton John – “Blue Eyes” is a song performed by Elton John with music and lyrics written by Elton John and Gary Osborne. It was released in 1982, both as a single and on the album Jump Up!, which reached No. 8 in the UK. In the US, the song spent three weeks at No. 10 on the Cash Box Top 100; it also went to No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, and spent two weeks at No. 1 on the adult contemporary chart.

The music video for the song was filmed in Australia, on Sydney’s famous Bondi to Bronte walk. The exact location is at the most easterly point of Marks Park, Tamarama, where a low, sandstone turret rests on the top of the cliffs and overlooks the Tasman Sea. The white grand piano was positioned right in the middle of the turret. The song and video was in dedication to Elizabeth Taylor.

There wasn’t much info about “Blue Eyes” in the spots where I normally look for info but I managed to find a book that remarks about the song. In His Song: The Musical Journey of Elton John by Elizabeth J. Rosenthal, the chapter was discussing the making of the Jump Up! album and its various songs. About “Blue Eyes”, it reads:

“Blue Eyes” is the one song on Jump Up! that proves Elton wasn’t just reading water. It is more than just one of the many pleasingly seamless ballads that Elton continued to churn out the way Pete Rose got hits. “Blue Eyes” features…some of the most sophisticated chord sequences that Elton John has ever written,” observed Thomas Ryan in his book American Hit Radio. “With a progression steeped in complex jazz changes and a melody that resonates with blue notes, it’s anything but ordinary for early 80s pop music …Unlike much of its competition, it seems destined to become an evergreen among a field of annuals.”

Many of Elton’s seamless ballads have become evergreens, but “Blue Eyes” is something more – a twist of sadness housed in the wise cadences of jazz and set against a gentle landscape of unobtrusive, countrified blues. Osborne’s words are subsumed in the music, as well they should be, since Elton had started the ball rolling. “Blue eyes, baby’s got blue eyes,” he’d cooed as he composed the music. Osborne had taken it from there, with the musician throwing in another line or two, entrapped in the song’s jazz cadences. Although Elton later mused that, before getting it right, he’d kept singing the song like Dean Martin, what finally emerged was not Dino’s debonair, whiskey-laced voice but a new Elton John sound. Instead of the sophistication of his singing on “Idol” or the sensuousness of “Shooting Star,” “Blue Eyes” get the balladeering of someone no longer interested in playing lovers’ games. The singer caresses the melody in a protective coating of honest intimacy, girded by deep-note delving.

Apparently people were taking note of this as 1983 saw Elton John receiving his thirteenth and fourteenth Grammy nominations: for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male for “Blue Eyes” (and the other for Video of the Year for Visions).

Blue Jean Blues by ZZ Top – ZZ Top is a rock band formed in 1969 in Houston, Texas. The band has, since 1970, consisted 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. “As genuine roots musicians, they have few peers”, according to former musician, critic and collector Michael “Cub” Koda. “Gibbons is one of America’s finest blues guitarists working in the arena rock idiom […] while Hill and Beard provide the ultimate rhythm section support.”

“Blue Jean Blues” is a song from Fandango!, the fourth album by that Texas Trio, released in 1975. Half the tracks are selections from live shows, the rest are new songs from the studio.

The only single released from the album was “Tush”. The single peaked at #20 on the US Billboard Hot 100, making it the band’s first top 40 single. “Blue Jean Blues” didn’t get a ton of airplay so you may not be familiar with it unless you’ve spent some time with the album. My brother introduced me to the Fandango! album when it first came out and this song is one of my favorites from the album. Get comfortable, grab your headphones, crank up the volume and kick back. It’s a good trip, I promise.

Blue Sky by The Allman Brothers Band – “Blue Sky” is a song by the American rock band the Allman Brothers Band from their third studio album, Eat a Peach (1972). The song was written and sung by guitarist Dickey Betts, who penned it about his girlfriend (and later wife), Sandy “Bluesky” Wabegijig. The track is also notable as one of guitarist Duane Allman’s final recorded performances with the group. The band’s two guitarists, Duane Allman and Betts, alternate playing the song’s lead: Allman’s solo beginning 1:07 in, Betts joining in a shared melody line at 2:28, followed by Betts’s solo at 2:37. The song is notably more country-inspired than many songs in the band’s catalogue.

His debut as a vocalist for the band, guitarist Dickey Betts composed “Blue Sky” about his Native American girlfriend, Sandy “Bluesky” Wabegijig, whom he later married. The lyrics leave out any references to gender to make it nonspecific: “Once I got into the song I realized how nice it would be to keep the vernaculars—he and she—out and make it like you’re thinking of the spirit, like I was giving thanks for a beautiful day. I think that made it broader and more relatable to anyone and everyone,” he later said. Betts initially wanted the band’s lead vocalist, Gregg Allman, to sing the song, but guitarist Duane Allman encouraged him to sing it himself: “Man, this is your song and it sounds like you and you need to sing it.”  This was the first time Betts sang lead on an Allman Brothers song. He also sang lead on their biggest hit, “Ramblin’ Man.”

Allman Brothers Band 1972

Betts and Sandy “Bluesky” Wabegijig married in 1973 and divorced two years later. For a while after his 1975 divorce from this song’s muse Sandy, Dickey Betts refused to perform this song.

The track is also notable as one of guitarist Duane Allman’s final recorded performances with the group. It was released after Duane’s death on the Eat A Peach album. The album is dedicated to him. “As I mixed songs like “Blue Sky,” I knew, of course, that I was listening to the last things that Duane ever played and there was just such a mix of beauty and sadness, knowing there’s not going to be any more from him,” said Johnny Sandlin.

Betts and Sandy Bluesky had a daughter, Jessica, on May 14, 1972. Betts wrote “Jessica” about her a year later.

Duane Allman and Dickey Betts played on the bridge solo – one playing “lead” lead, the other playing “rhythm” lead. They switch up half way through – listen very carefully and you will hear them synch up on a riff for two measures or so right around 2:30 into the track.

***********************************************

That’s it for PART 1 of the BLUE Edition. Were some of your favorite blue songs here? If not, be sure to check out PART 2, coming in two weeks

Here is some fun information on the meaning of the color blue, taken from the Bourn Creative’s Color Meaning Blog Series:

Blue represents both the sky and the sea, and is associated with open spaces, freedom, intuition, imagination, expansiveness, inspiration, and sensitivity. Blue also represents meanings of depth, trust, loyalty, sincerity, wisdom, confidence, stability, faith, heaven, and intelligence.

The color blue has positive affects on the mind and the body. As the color of the spirit, it invokes rest and can cause the body to produce chemicals that are calming and exude feelings of tranquility. Blue helps to slow human metabolism, is cooling in nature, and helps with balance and self-expression. Blue is also an appetite suppressant.

However not all blues are serene and sedate. Electric or brilliant blues become dynamic and dramatic, an engaging color that expresses exhilaration. Also, some shades of blue or the use of too much blue may come across as cold or uncaring, and can dampen spirits.

Blue can be strong and steadfast or light and friendly. Blue is used to symbolize piety and sincerity in heraldry. The color blue in many cultures is significant in religious beliefs, brings peace, or is believed to keep the bad spirits away. In Iran, blue is the color of mourning while in the West the something blue bridal tradition represents love.

The blue color communicates significance, importance, and confidence without creating somber or sinister feelings. This is where the corporate blue power suit and the blue uniforms of police officers and firefighter came from. Considered a highly corporate color, blue is often associated with intelligence, stability, unity, and conservatism.

Too much blue can create feelings of melancholy, negativity, sadness, self-righteousness, and self-centeredness. Too little blue brings about qualities of suspicion, depression, stubbornness, timidity, and unreliability.

Blue gemstones are believed to aid in creating calm and relaxation in crisis situations or chaotic situations, to open the flow of communication between loved ones, to feel genuinely inspired, and to gain the courage to speak from the heart.

Different shades, tints, and hues of blue have different meanings. For example, dark blue can be seen as elegant, rich, sophisticated, intelligent, and old-fashioned, royal blue can represent superiority, and light blue can mean honesty and trustworthiness.

Other meanings associated with the color blue:

  • Combining the colors red, white, and blue create a patriotic color palette for the United States, mirroring the colors in the American Flag.
  • Navy blue and white, when used together, create a nautical, oceanic color palette that often represents sailing, and sailors.
  • The terms “feeling blue” or “getting the blues” refers to the extreme calm feelings associated with blue, such as sadness and depression.
  • The saying “out of the blue” is used in reference to something unexpected.
  • The expression “singing the blues” references a person who is complaining about their circumstances.
  • The phrase “true blue” stands for someone who is loyal, trustworthy, and faithful.
  • The term “blueblood” refers to a person of royal, noble, or superior birth.
  • The saying “baby blues” is used to describe the sadness that women feel after giving birth. It is often used in reference to post-partum depression.
  • “blue ribbon” represents the best, first place, top prize, or number one.
  • The expression “into the blue” means entering the unknown or uncertainty, not knowing what you’re walking into.
  • The phrase “blue Monday” means feeling sad, often the feelings experienced when the weekend is over and the workweek begins.
  • The term “blue laws” refers to laws that were originally passed to enforce specific moral standards.
  • The saying “blue language” refers to using profanity.
  • The “Bluebook” is known as a register of people of significance in social standing. Later, the term Bluebook was adapted by the car industry as the name of the registry listing vehicle values.
  • The Blues is a music style characterized by the sometimes sad or down focus and melancholy melodies.

Additional words that represent different shades, tints, and values of the color blue: sapphire, azure, beryl, cerulean, cobalt, indigo, navy, royal, sky blue, baby blue, robin’s egg blue, cyan, cornflower blue, midnight blue, slate, steel blue, Prussian blue.

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:

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

Today’s Monday’s Music Moves Me Spotlight Conductor is Michelle and her Musings & Merriments blog. Given that the 4th of July is just two days away, the theme is Patriotic Songs. I felt burned out on patriotic songs because I did a full playlist of them last July and then for 9/11 featured some other patriotic songs…So instead of just doing straight patriotic songs today, I took a little diversion: I’m definitely starting my playlist off with a patriotic song (“Red, White & Blue” by Lynyrd Skynyrd) and then I’m featuring one of the three colors of our American flag with a presentation of songs with WHITE in the title. It is a continuation of my Kaleidoscope of Color Songs Series for sure, but I think the White songs angle kinda ties in with the theme? Maybe. Anyway, here are my favorite songs with WHITE in the title. Following the playlist is the list of songs with (hopefully) some cool information about each one. Oh, and there will also be some interesting information about the color white at the end. Enjoy!

Red, White & Blue (Love It or Leave) by Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Red White and Blue (Love it or Leave)” is a song by southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd released on its 2003 album Vicious Cycle. It was written shortly after the September 11 attacks by Lynyrd Skynyrd and .38 Special brothers Johnny and Donnie Van Zant and another pair of rock brothers, Brad and Brett Warren.  It reached number 27 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.

Lead singer Johnny Van Zant discussed the tune in a track-by-track commentary to promote the band’s 2010 CD/DVD Live from Freedom Hall: “We’re big supporters of our troops and we’ve always felt that’s a Skynyrd crowd; we always go back to our fans, we write about our fans and we love our fans. We’ve been blessed to have fans with us for years and years and years for multi-generations now and we’re supporters of our troops and our families. That song is basically written about our fans.”

                         Lyrics

We don’t have no plastic L.A. Frynds,
Ain’t on the edge of no popular trend.
Ain’t never seen the inside of that magazine GQ.
We don’t care if you ‘re a lawyer, or a Texas oil man,
Or some waitress busting ass in some liquor stand.
If you got Soul
We hang out with people just like you

My hair’s turning white,
My neck’s always been red,
My collar’s still blue,
We’ve always been here
Just trying to sing the truth to you.
Yes you could say
We’ve always been,
Red, White, and Blue

Ride our own bikes to Sturgis
We pay our own dues,
Smoking camels, drinking domestic brews
You want to know where I have been
Just look at my hands
Yeah, I’ve driven by the White House,
Spent some time in jail.
Momma cried but she still wouldn’t pay my bail.
I ain’t been no angel,
But even God, he understands.

My hair’s turning white,
My neck’s always been red,
My collar’s still blue,
We’ve always been here
Just trying to sing the truth to you.
Yes you could say
We’ve always been,
Red, White, and Blue

Yeah that’s right!
My Daddy worked hard, and so have I,
Paid our taxes and gave our lives
To serve this great country
So what are they complaining about

Yeah we love our families, we love our kids
You know it is love that makes us all so rich
That’s where we’re at,
If they don’t like it they can just
Get the hell out!

My hair’s turning white,
My neck’s always been red,
My collar’s still blue,
We’ve always been here
Just trying to sing the truth to you.
Yes you could say
We’ve always been,
Red, White, and Blue

Oh, oh, red, white, and blue
Red, white, and blue
Oh, oh, red, white, and blue

Songwriters: Brad D. Warren / Brett D. Warren / Donald N Van Zant / Johnny Roy Van Zant; Red White and Blue lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Great White Buffalo by Ted Nugent – Ted Nugent (Theodore Anthony Nugent; born December 13, 1948) is an American singer-songwriter, musician and activist. Nugent initially gained fame as the lead guitarist of the Amboy Dukes, a band formed in 1963 that played psychedelic rock and hard rock (best known for their hit song “Journey to the Center of the Mind”). After playing with the Amboy Dukes, he embarked on a solo career. Nugent has released more than 34 albums and has sold a career total of 30 million records.

Nugent is also noted for conservative political views, his lifelong stance against drug and alcohol abuse and advocacy of hunting and gun ownership rights. He is a board member of the National Rifle Association and a strong supporter of the Republican Party.

This particular Ted Nugent composition became a staple of his live set; for Nugent it is more personal. Many of Nugent’s songs have lyrics about sex or nonsense, but he maintains that some contain relevant commentary, although the statements often got lost in the riffs. He said in a 1979 interview with NME: “Maybe some people will listen to ‘Great White Buffalo’ and realize that you can’t market animals and expect them to be around forever, but I don’t think so. I think they listen to ‘Great White Buffalo’ and they listen to the guitar riff.”

A great admirer of Native American culture, one of the hallmarks of his lifestyle is hunting his dinner with a bow and arrow. In this song, Nugent makes a cogent argument on this song about the need to respect animals to ensure their survival. He explains how Native Americans used every part of the animals they killed, and buffalo thrived. When the white man came, he killed buffalo for profit, which dwindled their population. In this song, the great white buffalo is the hero, appearing to lead his herd.

In later years, Nugent became a mouthpiece for gun rights and other conservative issues. Always an avid hunter, his views are often at odds with animal rights supporters, but they might find common ground in this song.

The original recording appeared on 1974’s Tooth Fang & Claw, the seventh and final album from Nugent’s group The Amboy Dukes (credited to “Ted Nugent and The Amboy Dukes”). Nugent went solo after the album’s release and issued a steady stream of albums that sold very well throughout the ’70s. As he built up his repertoire with hits like “Stranglehold” and “Cat Scratch Fever,” “Great White Buffalo” – ignored for the most part when it was first released – found new life and became a rock radio favorite.

Recorded in June 1974, Ted Nugent is credited as the writer on this track, and he shares credit for the arrangement with with Amboy Dukes bass player Rob Grange. According to Nugent, the riff came to him while he was tuning up his guitar. They captured it on tape and quickly recorded the song, with Nugent writing the lyric on the spot.

Live, “Great White Buffalo” sees Nugent soloing extensively and freely. In 1982, he told biographer Robert Holland that this was one of his favorite (of his own) songs. 

White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane – “White Rabbit” is a song written by Grace Slick and recorded by the American psychedelic rock band Jefferson Airplane for their 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow. It was released as a single and became the band’s second top-10 success, peaking at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.

This was one of the defining songs of the 1967 “Summer of Love.” As young Americans protested the Vietnam War and experimented with drugs, “White Rabbit” often played in the background.

“White Rabbit” was written and performed by Grace Slick while she was still with The Great Society. When that band broke up in 1966, Slick was invited to join Jefferson Airplane to replace their departed female singer, Signe Toly Anderson, who left the band with the birth of her child. The first album Slick recorded with Jefferson Airplane was Surrealistic Pillow, and Slick provided two songs from her previous group: her own “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love”, written by her brother-in-law Darby Slick and recorded under the title “Someone to Love” by The Great Society. (The Great Society’s version of “White Rabbit” was much longer than the more aggressive version of Jefferson Airplane). Both songs became top-10 hits for Jefferson Airplane. They were the band’s breakout hits, with “Somebody to Love” reaching #5 US and “White Rabbit” following at #8.

Grace Slick based the lyrics on Lewis Carroll’s book Alice in Wonderland. It uses imagery found in the fantasy works of Lewis Carroll—1865’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its 1871 sequel Through the Looking-Glass—such as changing size after taking pills or drinking an unknown liquid.

Like many young musicians in San Francisco, Slick did a lot of drugs, and she saw a surfeit of drug references in Carroll’s book, including the pills, the smoking caterpillar, the mushroom, and lots of other images that are pretty trippy. She noticed that many children’s stories involve a substance of some kind that alters reality, and felt it was time to write a song about it.

Slick got the idea for this song after taking LSD and wrote the song after an acid trip. For Slick, “White Rabbit” “is about following your curiosity. The White Rabbit is your curiosity”. For her and others in the 1960s, drugs were a part of mind expansion and social experimentation. With its enigmatic lyrics, “White Rabbit” became one of the first songs to sneak drug references past censors on the radio. Even Marty Balin, Slick’s eventual rival in Jefferson Airplane, regarded the song as a “masterpiece”. In interviews, Slick has related that Alice in Wonderland was often read to her as a child and remained a vivid memory well into her adulthood.

Slick had stated the composition was intended to be a slap to parents who read their children such novels and then wondered why their children later used drugs. Characters Slick referenced include Alice, the White Rabbit, the hookah-smoking caterpillar, the White Knight, the Red Queen, and the Dormouse. Slick claimed to Q that the song was aimed not at the young but their parents. She said: “They’d read us all these stories where you’d take some kind of chemical and have a great adventure. Alice in Wonderland is blatant; she gets literally high, too big for the room, while the caterpillar sits on a psychedelic mushroom smoking opium. In the Wizard of Oz, they land in a field of opium poppies, wake up and see this Emerald City. Peter Pan? Sprinkle some white dust-cocaine-on your head and you can fly.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Slick mentioned that in addition to Alice in Wonderland, her other inspiration for the song was “the bolero used by Miles Davis and Gil Evans on their 1960 album Sketches of Spain.” The song is essentially one long crescendo similar to that of Ravel’s famous “Boléro”. The music combined with the song’s lyrics strongly suggests the sensory distortions experienced with hallucinogens, and the song was later used in pop culture to imply or accompany just such a state.

Grace Slick was raised in a tiny suburban household in Palo Alto, California, about 30 miles south of San Francisco. This being the 1950s, women were expected to conform to the norms and aspire to be housewives. Slick identified with Alice; moving to San Francisco and forming a rock band was her rabbit hole moment. When she joined Jefferson Airplane, that was another journey down the rabbit hole.

According to Slick, there were always people who misinterpreted this song, despite her best efforts to get the lyrics across. In the book Anatomy of a Song, published in 2016, she said:

“I always felt like a good-looking schoolteacher singing ‘White Rabbit.’ I’d sing the words slowly and precisely, so the people who needed to hear them wouldn’t miss the point. But they did. To this day, I don’t think most people realize the song was aimed at parents who drank and told their kids not to do drugs. I felt they were full of s–t, but to write a good song, you need a few more words than that.”

The line in this song, “go ask Alice/when she’s ten feet tall” provided the title of a 1971 book published by an anonymous author. Go Ask Alice is a fiction book about a teenage girl in the 1960s who develops a drug habit at age 15 and runs away from home on a journey of self-destructive escapism. Attributed to “Anonymous”, the book is in diary form, and was originally presented as being the edited “real diary” of the unnamed teenage protagonist. Questions about the book’s authenticity and true authorship began to arise in the late 1970s, and it is now generally viewed as a work of fiction written by Beatrice Sparks, the book’s editor and also a therapist and author who went on to write numerous other books purporting to be real diaries of troubled teenagers. I read this book back in the day and I’m pretty sure I had the edition that had “A Real Diary” on the cover. Did you read this book?

The cover art of the Avon Books paperback edition of Go Ask Alice presented it as “A Real Diary”.

The book was adapted into the 1973 television film Go Ask Alice, starring Jamie Smith-Jackson and William Shatner. “White Rabbit” was used as the theme song for the movie, which I remember watching when it first aired back then. Do you remember the Go Ask Alice movie?

The video I included in my playlist is a fabulous clip from a performance and interview with Dick Clark on a 1967 episode of American Bandstand. He gives great introductions and poses such great questions. It’s a wonderful time-capsule moment. In addition to “White Rabbit” the performance also includes “Somebody to Love.”

White Bird by It’s a Beautiful Day – “White Bird” is a 1969 song by San Francisco rock group It’s a Beautiful Day, written by David LaFlamme and his then wife Linda LaFlamme (née Neska).

“White Bird” was written in December 1967, in Seattle, Washington. Manager Matthew Katz had moved the band there to polish their act at a small Seattle ballroom before booking them into San Francisco nightclubs. Living in the attic of a Victorian house across the street from Volunteer Park, the band had inadequate food and no transportation during a dreary Seattle winter. The song evolved from the depression of the band’s circumstances and yearning to be free. The song’s repeated chorus is, “White bird must fly or she will die.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In a later interview, LaFlamme said:

“The song describes the picture Linda and I saw as we looked out this little window in this attic. We had a little Wurlitzer portable piano sitting right in the well of this window, and I’d sit and work on songs. When you hear lines like, ‘the leaves blow across the long black road to the darkened sky and its rage,’ it’s describing what I was seeing out the window. Where the ‘white bird’ thing came from: We were like caged birds in that attic. We had no money, no transportation, the weather was miserable. We were just barely getting by on a very small food allowance provided to us. It was quite an experience, but it was very creative in a way.”

The song was arranged and produced by LaFlamme and sung as a duet between him and group member Patti Santos. (Patti Santos died at age 40, in a 1989 automobile accident).

A prominent stylistic feature of the song’s original arrangement are multiple violin parts overdubbed by LaFlamme. It was first released on the band’s 1969 eponymous debut album It’s a Beautiful Day by Columbia Records. I had this album. I still would have it had I not been so impulsive during a move and gave my entire vinyl collection away!

The song quickly became the band’s signature tune and a staple of FM Album-oriented rock radio. The album rose to Number 47 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Following the popularity of the album track a single version was edited and remixed for radio play, with a running time of 3:02, and released on October 4, 1969. It rose to as high as Number 3 the week of October 18, 1969 on San Francisco radio station KYA. The single never reached a wide national audience and only made it to Number 118 on Billboard’s Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chart. (I never heard of the Billboard chart Bubbling Under the Hot 100! Have you?)

A nearly 10-minute-long version also appeared on the 1972 live album It’s a Beautiful Day at Carnegie Hall. It later appeared on nine compilation albums and four more retrospective albums.

artwork by Kendrick Shakleford

The 1982 television series Knight Rider featured the song in an episode named for the song during the first season. The song was also used in the soundtrack of A Walk on the Moon, a 1999 American drama about a married woman’s infidelity, including Woodstock Music Festival scenes. (I LOVE this movie, starring Diane Lane, Viggo Mortensen, Liev Schreiber and Anna Paquin. The film, which was set against the backdrop of the Woodstock festival of 1969 and the moon landing of that year. Directed by Tony Goldwyn (of Scandal fame), it was highly acclaimed on release, particularly Diane Lane’s performance for which she earned an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Female Lead). 

Nights in White Satin by Moody Blues – This song is, by far, the most incredible song EVER! And the video performance in the playlist will take you to another dimension. For sure, put the headphones on and view at full screen. A-mazing! I have never had the pleasure of seeing them in concert but I so hope to one of these days soon…

In case you aren’t familiar with the band: The Moody Blues is an English rock band formed in Birmingham, England in 1964. They first came to prominence playing rhythm and blues music, but their second album, Days of Future Passed, which was released in 1967, was a fusion of rock with classical music and established them as pioneers in the development of art rock and progressive rock. It has been described as a “landmark” and “one of the first successful concept albums.”

The band became known internationally with singles including “Go Now”, “Nights in White Satin”, “Tuesday Afternoon”, and “Question”. They have been awarded 18 platinum and gold discs. The Moody Blues have sold 70 million albums worldwide. They will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, sometime in 2018.

“Nights in White Satin” is a 1967 single by the Moody Blues, written and composed by Justin Hayward and first featured as the segment “The Night” on the album Days of Future Passed. This song introduced a new sound for the band. When they formed, they were more of a blues band, and had a hit in 1965 with a cover of Bessie Banks’ “Go Now.” With the songs on Days of Future Passed, they distinguished themselves with original songs in a more psychedelic/orchestral sound.

Hayward was just 19 years old when he wrote and composed the song in Swindon. He titled it after a girlfriend gave him a gift of satin bedsheets. The song itself was a tale of a yearning love from afar, which leads many aficionados to term it as a tale of unrequited love endured by Hayward. Hayward said of the song,

“It was just another song I was writing and I thought it was very powerful. It was a very personal song and every note, every word in it means something to me and I found that a lot of other people have felt that very same way about it.”

Haywood told the Daily Express Saturday magazine May 3, 2008:

“I wrote our most famous song, ‘Nights in White Satin’ when I was 19. It was a series of random thoughts and was quite autobiographical. It was a very emotional time as I was at the end of one big love affair and the start of another. A lot of that came out in the song.”

Fans have come up with many interpretations of this song, which is just fine with Justin Hayward, who feels that the receiver gives life to the transmission. “It’s the listeners who bring the magic and the interpretations to these songs,” he said in his 2016 Songfacts interview.

How the song came about in the first place: Days of Future Passed is a concept album based around different times of day. For example, “Dawn Is a Feeling” and “Tuesday Afternoon.” This song was last on the album because it represents nighttime. Justin Hayward was inspired by Moody Blues keyboard player Mike Pinder’s composition “Dawn Is a Feeling.” Since Pinder had done “The Morning” for the concept album, Hayward tried to do “The Night.”

The London Festival Orchestra provided the orchestral accompaniment for the introduction, the final rendition of the chorus, and the “final lament” section, all of which were in the original album version. The London Festival Orchestra never actually existed – it was the name given to the musicians put together to make the Days of Future Passed album. The “orchestral” sounds in the main body of the song were actually produced by Mike Pinder’s Mellotron keyboard device, which would come to define the “Moody Blues sound.”

When first released in 1967, the song reached #19 on the UK Singles Chart and #103 in the United States in 1967. It was the first significant chart entry by the band since “Go Now” and its recent lineup change, in which Denny Laine had resigned and both Hayward and John Lodge had joined.

Upon its 1972 reissue, the single hit #2 – for two weeks – on the Billboard Hot 100 (behind “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash) and hit #1 on the Cash Box Top 100 in the United States. It earned a gold certification for sales of over a million U.S. copies. It also hit #1 in Canada. In the wake of its American success, the song recharted in the U.K. in late 1972 and climbed to #9. The song was released yet again in 1979, and charted for a third time in the U.K. – peaking at #14.

The Moody Blues enjoyed a long and illustrious career that took them well into the 2010’s, and included thousands of performances, most of which featured this song. How does Justin Hayward handle the repetition? “I never lose the emotion of songs like that,” he told us. “I’m lucky enough not to have lost the emotion or the motivation, because it’s a wonderful thing to be able to share. And the audience provides the emotion around that. Because you do it in sound check and it’s fine, but when there’s an audience there, it completely transforms the experience.”

A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum – “A Whiter Shade of Pale” is the debut single by the British rock band Procol Harum, released on May 12, 1967. One of the anthems of the 1967 Summer of Love, it is one of fewer than 30 singles to have sold over 10 million copies worldwide.

With its Bach-derived instrumental melody, soulful vocals, and unusual lyrics – by the song’s co-authors Gary Brooker, Keith Reid and Matthew Fisher – “A Whiter Shade of Pale” reached number 1 in several countries when released in 1967. In the years since, it has become an enduring classic. It was the most played song in the last 75 years in public places in the UK (as of 2009), and the United Kingdom performing rights group Phonographic Performance Limited in 2004 recognized it as “the most-played record by British broadcasting of the past 70 years.”

More than 1000 recorded cover versions by other artists are known. The song has been included in many music compilations over the decades and has also been used in the soundtracks of numerous films, including The Big Chill, Purple Haze, Breaking the Waves, The Boat That Rocked, Martin Scorsese’s segment of New York Stories, Stonewall, and Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s documentary series The Vietnam War.

The single was released on May 12, 1967 in the United Kingdom by Deram Records and entered Record Retailer’s chart (later the UK Singles Chart) on May 25. In two weeks it reached number 1, where it stayed for six weeks. Writing in 2005, Jim Irvin of Mojo said that its arrival at number 1 on June 8, 1967 (on the same day that the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band topped the national albums chart) marked the start of the Summer of Love in Britain.

According to music journalist and author Harvey Kubernik, in the context of the Summer of Love,

“A Whiter Shade of Pale” was the “one song [that] stood above all others, its Everest-like status conferred by no less than John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who were enthralled by the Chaucerian wordplay and heavenly Baroque accompaniment”.

Kubernik also writes that, amid the search for higher consciousness during the flower power era, the song “galvanised a congregation of disaffected youth dismissive of traditional religion but anxious to achieve spiritual salvation”.

In his 1981 article on the musical and societal developments of 1967, for The History of Rock, sociomusicologist Simon Frith described “A Whiter Shade of Pale” as the year’s “most distinctive single”, through its combination of “white soul vocal and a Bach organ exercise” and enigmatic lyrics that “hinted at a vital secret open only to people in the right, drug-determined, state of mind”.

In the United States, the single reached number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold over 1 million copies. It also peaked at number 22 on the soul charts there. In the Netherlands, the song entered the chart at number 1 in June 1967 and again reached number 1 in July 1972. A May 1972 re-release on Fly Records stayed in the UK charts for a total of 12 weeks and peaked at number 13.

“A Whiter Shade of Pale” has continued to receive critical acclaim. In 1977, along with Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” was jointly recognized as “The Best British Pop Single 1952–1977” at the BRIT Awards, part of Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee. In 1998 the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2018, the song was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a new category for singles.

As for the song’s lyrics: Procol Harum’s lyricist Keith Reid wrote the words to this song. In a Songfacts interview, he explained:

“It’s sort of a film, really, trying to conjure up mood and tell a story. It’s about a relationship. There’s characters and there’s a location, and there’s a journey. You get the sound of the room and the feel of the room and the smell of the room. But certainly there’s a journey going on, it’s not a collection of lines just stuck together. It’s got a thread running through it.”

Reid got the title and starting point for the song at a party. He overheard someone at the party saying to a woman, “You’ve turned a whiter shade of pale”, and the phrase stuck in his mind. Says Reid:

“I feel with songs that you’re given a piece of the puzzle, the inspiration or whatever. In this case, I had that title, ‘Whiter Shade of Pale,’ and I thought, There’s a song here. And it’s making up the puzzle that fits the piece you’ve got. You fill out the picture, you find the rest of the picture that that piece fits into.”

In an interview with Uncut magazine (February 2008) Reid, a poet, recalled the writing of the lyrics:

“I used to go and see a lot of French films in the Academy in Oxford Street (London). Pierrot Le Fou made a strong impression on me, and Last Year In Marienbad. I was also very taken with surrealism, Magritte and Dali. You can draw a line between the narrative fractures and mood of those French films and ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale.’”

“I’d been listening to music since I was 10, from ’56 to ’66-The Beatles, Dylan, Stax, Ray Charles. The period of ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ was the culmination of that 10 years of listening. But my main influence was Dylan. I could see how he did it, how he played with words. I was writing all the time. ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ was just another bunch of lyrics. I had the phrase ‘a whiter shade of pale,’ that was the start, and I knew it was a song. It’s like a jigsaw where you’ve got one piece, then you make up all the others to fit in. I was trying to conjure a mood as much as tell a straightforward, girl-leaves-boy story. With the ‘ceiling flying away and room humming harder’, I wanted to paint an image of a scene. I wasn’t trying to be mysterious with those images, I wasn’t trying to be evocative. I suppose it seems like a decadent scene I’m describing. But I was too young to have experienced any decadence, then, I might have been smoking when I conceived it, but not when I wrote it. It was influenced by books, not drugs.”

“We felt we had something very important. As soon as we played it for anyone, we got an immediate response.”

In rehearsal, instrumentation was added. We had this concept for the sound of Procol Harum to be Hammond organ, piano and blues guitar. No other band had that; it gave us a bigger sound. It’s a live recording… I think we did three takes. It is equal parts Dylan and Stax. On our own terms, we were always trying to make a soul record. Funnily enough, Otis Redding wanted to do it, but we wanted our record out first, and Stax wanted the exclusive.”

FUN FACT: This was the first song Procol Harum recorded. After it became a hit, they fired their original drummer and guitarist, replacing them with Barry Wilson and Robin Trower – more experienced musicians who could handle the subsequent touring.

FUN FACT: Nearly 40 years after this song was released, Matthew Fisher, who played the organ in the recording, filed a lawsuit claiming that he deserved songwriting royalties for his contributions. In 2006, a judge agreed and awarded Fisher part of the copyright. In 2008, the British court of appeals overturned Fisher’s right to collect royalties due to the delay in filing his claim, but it upheld, by a unanimous decision, his composer credit which had been awarded by the High Court, confirming that Fisher’s organ solo was part of the song’s composition. Fisher was granted permission to appeal this decision in the House of Lords and on July 30, 2009 the Law Lords unanimously ruled in the organist’s favour, pointing out that there were no time limits to copyright claims under English law. The ruling means that he now receives a share of future royalties for the track. A delighted Fisher commented: “This was about making sure everyone knew about my part in the authorship.” One of the five judges who heard the case, Baroness Hale, said: “As one of those people who do remember the ’60s, I am glad that the author of that memorable organ part has at last achieved the recognition he deserves.”

On July 24, 2008, Matthew Fisher’s friend and collaborator Alan Fox told us why Fisher waited nearly 40 years to bring his lawsuit: “In fact, Matthew did not wait 40 years to bring this case to court. He tried 4 times between 1972 and 2005, but was told each time by counsel that he had absolutely no chance of making a successful claim. This of course was never reported. It wasn’t until he met his current lawyers Jens Hill, that he was told that he had a very strong claim and decided to proceed.”

FUN FACT: This is one of Billy Joel’s favorite songs. He performed it on his 2014 town hall special with Howard Stern, where he said: “It sounded different from anything else that was on the radio at that time. It had a keyboard part that was the main theme through the record – Matthew Fisher’s organ part. There was an element of classical music in it; I didn’t know what the lyrics were about, but it took me to another place, it was atmospheric. a lot of the music speaks to you.”

White Room by Cream – “White Room” is a song by British rock band Cream, composed by bassist Jack Bruce with lyrics by poet Pete Brown. They recorded it for the studio half of the 1968 double album Wheels of Fire. In September, a shorter single edit was released for AM radio stations, although album-oriented FM radio stations played the full album version.

This song is about depression and hopelessness, but the setting is an empty apartment. The lyrics were written by a poet named Pete Brown, who was a friend of Cream bass player Jack Bruce, the lead vocalist on the track. Brown also wrote the words for “Sunshine of Your Love,” “I Feel Free” and “SWLABR.”

The music was written first. Jack Bruce sang and played bass on the song, Eric Clapton overdubbed guitar parts, Ginger Baker played drums and timpani, and Felix Pappalardi – the group’s producer – contributed violas. Clapton played his guitar through a wah-wah pedal to achieve a “talking-effect”. He got the idea from Jimi Hendrix. Interestingly, Clapton’s solo earned the #2 spot on Guitar World’s greatest wah solos of all time in 2015. The #1 spot? Hendrix’ “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).”

Pete Brown’s first attempt at a lyric was something about a “doomed hippie girl” – the song was called “Cinderella’s Last Goodnight.” Jack Bruce wasn’t buying it, so he scrapped that idea and pulled up an eight-page poem he had written earlier, which he reworked into “White Room.”

The “white room” was a literal place: a room in an apartment where Pete Brown was living. It was not, as some suspected, an institution.

In a Songfacts interview with Pete Brown, he told the story:

“It was a meandering thing about a relationship that I was in and how I was at the time. It was a kind of watershed period really. It was a time before I stopped being a relative barman and became a songwriter, because I was a professional poet, you know. I was doing poetry readings and making a living from that. It wasn’t a very good living, and then I got asked to work by Ginger and Jack with them and then started to make a kind of living.

And there was this kind of transitional period where I lived in this actual white room and was trying to come to terms with various things that were going on. It’s a place where I stopped, I gave up all drugs and alcohol at that time in 1967 as a result of being in the white room, so it was a kind of watershed period. That song’s like a kind of weird little movie: it changes perspectives all the time. That’s why it’s probably lasted – it’s got a kind of mystery to it.”

“It was a miracle it worked, considering it was me writing a monologue about a new flat.”

Lyric interpretation courtesy of Pete Brown: Why are the starlings tired? Because the pollution in London was killing them. Pete Brown also said: “The ‘tired starlings’ is also a little bit of a metaphor for the feminine in a way, as well. It was women having to put up with rather a lot – too much pressure on them at the time.”

“Goodbye Windows” – “Just people waving goodbye from train windows.”

“Black-roof Country” – “That was the kind of area that I lived in. There were still steam trains at one point around that area, so the roofs were black. It was black and sooty. It’s got that kind of a feel to it.”

On their last tour before the band broke up, Cream opened most of their shows with this song. When Cream did a reunion tour in 2005, they played it near the end of the sets. Clapton refused to play this song after leaving Cream until 1985, when Paul Shaffer urged him to play it while he was sitting in with the band on Late Night with David Letterman. That same year, Clapton played it at Live Aid.

This was released as a single after Cream had broken up. It did better in the US than in England, since Cream had caught on in the States.

FUN FACT: Clapton performed this in 1999 for the album Sheryl Crow and Friends: Live From Central Park. Clapton and Crow were an item for a time in the ’90s.

Dirty White Boy by Foreigner – “Dirty White Boy” is a song recorded by British-American rock band Foreigner, written by lead singer Lou Gramm and guitarist Mick Jones. It was the lead single taken from the band’s third studio album, Head Games (1979). On the cover was a photo of a young woman backed into a urinal in a men’s bathroom, trying to erase her phone number from the wall. This didn’t go over well with some record store owners and radio stations, especially in the Bible Belt.

The B-side, “Rev On The Red Line” has also proven to be very popular among fans, but was never released as an A-side single on its own.

Foreigner in 1978

Jones has claimed that the song was about Elvis Presley, adding that “he always was that dirty white boy who changed the shape of music completely. It was talking about the kind of heritage that he left, and I think that had an effect on all the musicians that came after, like Mick Jagger – he was also a dirty white boy. Elvis paved the way for all that.”

White Wedding by Billy Idol –  “White Wedding” is a song by Billy Idol that appeared on his album Billy Idol in 1982. It is often considered one of his most recognizable songs, although other Idol songs charted higher. It peaked at No. 108 on the Billboard Bubbling Under the Hot 100 on its original release, and reached No. 36 on the Billboard Hot 100 when it was re-issued in 1983. In the UK, this did not become a hit until 1985, when it was released there for the third time. It reached No. 6 in the UK Singles Chart upon its re-release there in 1985 and 1988, when it was re-issued to promote the Vital Idol remix album.

A key element to this song is the quick little guitar riff that starts it. Idol and his guitarist, Steve Stevens, liked to have a distinctive guitar part to open the songs – they thought of it like a flag harkening its arrival.

Despite rumors to the contrary, this song is not about Idol’s actual little sister. “Little sister” is slang for girlfriend. He is singing about a woman/girl he loves marrying someone else while he still loves her.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Idol did have a sister who was getting married, but on an episode of VH1 Storytellers, he explained that his sister’s wedding simply gave him the idea for the song. Like many of Idol’s compositions, he started with the title and wrote the song from there.

Ironically, this song is a very anti-marriage song, and yet many people have it played at their weddings simply because it mentions a wedding.

The music video for this song, featuring Idol attending a gothic wedding, helped launch Billy Idol to stardom and is one of his best known. It was directed by David Mallet, who had worked with Queen and David Bowie. Idol had little cash, so Mallet cut him a break on his fee. The concept was a “nightmare wedding,” with a Goth guy (Idol) marrying a normal girl, with some vampire imagery thrown in. The bride was played by Perri Lister, who was Billy’s real-life girlfriend at the time. She is also one of the three dancers clad in black leather, who slap their buttocks in time with the clap track in the song as they shimmy downwards near the end. “That’s the kind of thing they love in England”, says Idol.

The resulting video contained some of the most indelible images seen on MTV, including the barbed-wire wedding ring, the motorcycle crashing through the church window, and those dancers slapping their own butts in time to the music. In one scene from the video, Idol forces the barbed-wire wedding ring onto the bride’s finger and cuts her knuckle. Lister insisted that her knuckle actually be cut in order for the scene to appear more realistic. MTV initially removed this scene from the video. Also controversial were the apparent Nazi salutes made by the crowd toward the couple. Director David Mallet says he was merely “playing with the power of crowd imagery” when he had the extras reach toward the bride and did not realize how it looked until later.

Mallet said of Idol in the book I Want My MTV: “In those days, he was the greatest looker and mover since Elvis. Before ‘White Wedding,’ nobody would have admitted that was even possible. One look at that video and they got him.”

FUN FACT: This was used in the movie The Wedding Singer. After getting dumped at the alter, Adam Sandler tells his friends to “turn this crap off” after the video comes on. Idol later appears in the movie as himself. He helps get Sandler together with Drew Barrymore.

Black or White by Michael Jackson – “Black or White” is a single by American singer and songwriter Michael Jackson. The song was released by Epic Records on November 11, 1991 as the first single from Jackson’s eighth studio album, Dangerous. It was written, composed and produced by Michael Jackson and Bill Bottrell. The lyrics of this song are a plea for racial tolerance.

The song had an impressive release and trajectory on charts around the world. To prepare the audience for the special occasion of the televised premiere of the “Black or White” video, Epic records released the song (without the accompanying images) to radio stations just two days in advance. In a period of twenty-four hours, “Black or White”, described by the record company as “a rock ‘n’ roll dance song about racial harmony”, had been added to the playlists of 96 percent of 237 of the United States of America’s top forty radio stations the first day of release.

“Back or White” entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number 35. A week later it shot up to number three and in its third week, December 7, 1991, it ascended to number one, making it the fastest chart topper since The Beatles’ “Get Back”, which also won the Hot 100 in just three weeks in 1969. It closed the year at number one, and remained at the top of the singles chart into 1992 for a total of seven weeks, making Michael Jackson the first artist to have number one popular hits in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. In the UK, the single became the first single by an American to go into the singles chart at number one since 1960, when “It’s Now or Never” by Elvis Presley did in the same manner. Around the world, “Black or White” hit number one in 20 countries, including the US, the UK, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Turkey, Zimbabwe, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the Eurochart Hot 100, number two in Germany and Austria and number three in the Netherlands. The single was certified platinum in the US, selling over one million copies and became the second best-selling single of the year.

Reviews of the song were generally favorable. David Browne praised: “He still knows how to fashion a hook that will take up permanent residence in your brain (away from its video, Black or White is spare and effortless).”

Music Video: The music video for “Black or White” is quite interesting and features some fun actors. Macaulay Culkin, Tess Harper and George Wendt (Norm from the sitcom Cheers) appeared in it, as well as Tyra Banks before she gained supermodel status. It also featured a morphing technique that was very innovative at the time.

The 11-minute music video, helmed by “Thriller” director John Landis, got a lot of hype. It premiered on MTV, BET, VH1 and Fox (giving them their highest Nielsen ratings ever at the time) at the exact same time, as well as the BBC’s Top of the Pops in the UK on November 14, 1991. It premiered simultaneously in 27 countries, with an audience of 500 million viewers, the most ever for a music video.

It was perhaps the most controversial video ever recorded by Jackson, showing him dancing and destroying all things racist, including a swastika used by the Nazis. During the last four minutes of the clip, which were excised after protests, Jackson also performed some rather explicit crotch grabs, threw a garbage can through a store window, and destroyed a car.

Video detailed: The first few minutes of the video feature an extended version of the song’s intro. During this interlude (sometimes compared to Marty Callner’s 1984 “We’re Not Gonna Take It” video for Twisted Sister) an 11-year-old kid (Macaulay Culkin) is dancing to rock music in his bedroom at night, causing four baseball team bobbleheads (from left to right, the Giants, the Pirates, the Dodgers, and the Rangers) to bobble. This attracts the attention of his grouchy father (George Wendt), who furiously orders him to stop playing the music and go to bed. After his father storms out and slams the door behind him (causing a Michael Jackson poster on the door to fall off and its glass frame to smash), the boy retaliates by setting up large speaker cabinets (with levels of “LOUD”, “LOUDER”, and “ARE YOU NUTS!?!”, respectively; with the dial turned up all the way to “ARE YOU NUTS!?!”) behind his father’s reclining chair, donning leather gloves and sunglasses, strapping on an Ernie Ball Music Man Eddie Van Halen signature model guitar and playing a power chord, and telling the father to “Eat this!”. The sound then shatters and destroys the house windows and sends his father (seated in the chair) halfway around the world, where the actual song begins. The kid’s mother (Tess Harper), comments that his father will be very upset when he gets back. The album version of the song does not feature Culkin’s nor Wendt’s voice; they are replaced by voice actors performing a similar intro. The boy’s father crashes in Africa, and Jackson sings “Black or White”, surrounded by various cultures scene-by-scene.

The video shows scenes in which African hunters begin dancing by using moves from West African dance, with Jackson following their moves and them mirroring his; as do, in sequence, traditional Thai dancers, Plains Native Americans (located at the Vasquez Rocks formation in California), an Odissi dancer from India and a group of Russians (wearing Ukrainian clothing and dancing Hopak). Jackson walks through visual collages of fire (defiantly declaring “I ain’t scared of no sheets; I ain’t scared of nobody”), referring to KKK torch ceremonies before a mock rap scene shared with Culkin and other children. The group collectively states, “I’m not gonna spend my life being a color.” The final verse is performed by Jackson on a large sculpted torch, which the camera pans out to reveal as the Statue of Liberty. Jackson is seen singing on Lady Liberty’s torch surrounded by other famous world edifices including The Giza Sphinx, Hagia Sophia, Pamukkale, The Parthenon, Taj Mahal, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Pyramids of Giza, Golden Gate Bridge, Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower.

At the end of the song, several different people, of differing races and nationalities, including actor Glen Chin, model Tyra Banks, actress Khrystyne Haje, actor Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter, and voice actress and singer Cree Summer dance as they morph into one another (shown as “talking heads”). This technique, known as morphing, had been previously used only in films such as Willow and Terminator 2. The morphing visual effects were created by Pacific Data Images. I really dig the morphing sequence.

THE IMPACT: The success of “Black Or White” solidified Jackson’s reputation as “The King of Pop.” Although he’d been called the name a couple times in the past, he wanted to make it official, especially since the tabloids had taken a shine to dubbing him “Wacko Jacko” for his eccentric behavior and changing appearance. Any network that hoped to air the song’s music video had to agree to refer to Jackson as “The King of Pop.” MTV even sent out a memo to its staff instructing personnel to use the moniker at least twice a week up until the premiere.

Dan Beck, a former executive at Epic Records and part of Jackson’s marketing team, worried the push for royal status would hurt the pop star’s career. “Believe me, we were trying to talk him out of it,” Beck said in a Songfacts interview. “Our feeling was that radio was going to just roll their eyes and say, ‘Screw you!'”

Instead, the video was the most requested clip on MTV and the single reigned at #1 for seven weeks.

FUN FACT: A rapper known as LTB performed the rap on this song, which was lip-synched by Macaulay Culkin in the video.

FUN FACT: Weird Al Yankovic had the idea to parody this song as “Snack All Night,” following his food-themed Jackson parodies “Eat It” and “Fat.” Jackson, who was a big fan of Yankovic’s work, told him to leave this one alone since it was a very meaningful song. Al was in a creative funk at the time, but pulled out of it thanks to Nirvana and his parody “Smells Like Nirvana.”

Jackson didn’t get the same respect from the show In Living Color, which portrayed him singing this as “Am I Black Or White?” making fun of his increasingly pallid complexion. This bit has him destroying a car as in the video and getting arrested. When a cop cuffs him, he says, “I guess I am black.”

FUN FACT TRIVIA: This was Jackson’s 12th #1 hit as a solo artist, putting him in third place (tied with Diana Ross & The Supremes) for the most #1 songs on the Hot 100, behind The Beatles (20) and Elvis Presley (18). Both Mariah Carey, matching Elvis’ 18, and Rihanna, with 14, will later beat Jackson’s feat.

It was also the fastest-rising single in 22 years (since The Beatles’ “Get Back”), jumping from #35 to #3 in its second week, and landing at #1 in its third week.

In my playlist I featured the shortened version of the “Black or White” music video. If you’d like to see the full 11-minute video, including the 4 minutes of offensive content that was eliminated by many stations, here you go:

 

And that wraps up my WHITE songs post. What are your favorite white songs? How do you feel about the color white?

Here is some fun information on the meaning of the color white, taken from the Bourn Creative’s Color Meaning Blog Series:

White, an inherently positive color, is associated with purity, virginity, innocence, light, goodness, heaven, safety, brilliance, illumination, understanding, cleanliness, faith, beginnings, sterility, spirituality, possibility, humility, sincerity, protection, softness, and perfection.

The color white can represent a successful beginning. In heraldry, white depicts faith and purity. As the opposite of black, movies, books, print media, and television typically depict the good guy in white and the bad guy in black.

The color of snow, white is often used to represent coolness and simplicity. White’s association with cleanliness and sterility is often seen in hospitals, medical centers, and laboratories to communicate safety. The color white is also associated with low-fat foods and dairy products.

To the human eye, white is a bright and brilliant color that can cause headaches. In cases of extremely bright light, the color white can even be blinding.

Throughout the western countries white is the traditional color worn by brides, to signify purity, innocence, and virginity. In eastern countries, the color white is the color of mourning and funerals. In certain cultures, white is the color of royalty or of religious figures, as angels are typically depicted as wearing white or having a white glow. A white picket fence surrounds a safe and happy home.

The color white affects the mind and body by aiding in mental clarity, promoting feelings of fresh beginnings and renewal, assisting in cleansing, clearing obstacles and clutter, and encouraging the purification of thoughts and actions.

White gemstones are believed to help create new beginnings, remove prejudice and pre-conceived notions, to see the innocence in others, and to clear emotional clutter and silence the inner critic.

Other meanings associated with the color white:

  • The expression “white as snow”is used in reference to the pure, clean, and innocent.
  • The saying “whiteout”means zero visibility.
  • The phrase “white flag”is associated with meanings of surrender and relinquishment.
  • The term“white elephant” refers to a rare or valuable item that is unwanted.
  • The expression “pearly whites”refers to very white teeth.
  • The phrase “whitewash”has meanings of cover up, secrecy, and concealment.
  • The saying “white list”is a list of acceptable, good, or approved items.
  • The term “white sale”means a store sale of sheets, towels, other linens.
  • The phrase “white knight”represents one who comes to the rescue; a good and noble hero.
  • The saying “white lightning”refers to moonshine or illegal whiskey.
  • The expression “white knuckle”references something that is fast, exciting, or frightening.

Additional words that represent different shades, tints, and values of the color white: snow, pearl, antique white, ivory, chalk, milk white, lily, smoke, seashell, old lace, cream, linen, ghost white, beige, cornsilk, alabaster, paper, whitewash.

 

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: