Monday’s Music Moves Me – SONGS ABOUT AGING & GETTING OLDER – Part 3 of 4: GETTIN’ OLD AIN’T FOR SISSIES!

It’s Monday and you know what that means: It’s time for Monday’s Music Moves Me! (It’s also the 15th of the month so if you’re looking for my Battle of the Bands post, click here. Or you can always find it on the sidebar of my Home page. But first check out this cool post…or come back for it).

I’m thrilled to be this month’s Honorary Co-Host of the 4M blog hop. Last week was my first theme week and I think we all had fun with it. This week is a Freebie and since we each get to do whatever we want with a music post I know we all like those! Here’s my freebie offering for this second week of October:

Today’s post is PART 3 of my SONGS ABOUT AGING AND GETTING OLD(er) Series. If you missed Part 1, entitled Time Passages, you can check it out here. Part 2 was about one of my favorite things to do: Reminiscing. Check it out here.

And today, Part 3 songs focus on the realities of aging, some harsh, some hilarious.  Join me in a playlist of fabulous songs that speak to this fact. (oh, by the way, Part 3 is also where this rock chick [yours truly] wanders off a bit and goes a little Country.

GETTIN’ OLD AIN’T FOR SISSIES! 

The songs in this playlist certainly illustrate how age takes a toll on us, physically, mentally and emotionally. The first half of the playlist deals with those types of issues and some of the songs can hit you with the reality of what a somber, desolate and mournful place old age can be. But then I take us out of that mood, jump tracks and get fun and lively. Enjoy!

When I’m 64 by The Beatles (1967) – written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney) and released in 1967 on their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The song is sung by a young man to his lover, and is about his plans of their growing old together. Although the theme is aging, it was one of the first songs McCartney wrote, when he was 16. It was in the Beatles’ setlist in their early days as a song to perform when their amplifiers broke down or the electricity went off. This was a favorite of The Beatles at their early club shows, where they were required to play for hours. When their amps overheated, they would sing this around the piano.

Paul McCartney used to play it when The Beatles were still known as The Quarrymen. He put lyrics to it later in honor of his father’s 64th birthday.

Someday When I’m Old by Easton Corbin (2010) – Dan Easton Corbin (born April 12, 1982) is an American country music singer. His music is primarily categorized in the Neotraditional Country genre, a style that emphasizes the instrumental background and “traditional” country vocals. He signed to Mercury Records Nashville in 2009 and released his self-titled debut album in March 2010, featuring the two number one hits “A Little More Country Than That” and “Roll with It”, as well as the number 14 hit “I Can’t Love You Back. This song, “Someday When I’m Old”, is a song from that first album and was written by Aimee Mayo, Chris Lindsey and Troy Verges.

Of the song, Corbin said

“This song is different and unique. I just thought it was a great song when I heard it. It’s really powerful. It makes a young person look at how they might feel in 40 years when they have kids and grandkids.”

Grandma’s Hands by Bill Withers (1971) – “Grandma’s Hands” is a song written by Bill Withers about his grandmother. It was included on his first album Just as I Am, and was released as a single, reaching number 18 on the Best Selling Soul Singles chart and 42 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Withers grew up in the rural town of Slab Fork, West Virginia, and his Grandma Galloway was a huge influence in his life, nurturing him and telling him that others would someday appreciate what he had to offer. As the lyrics say, she really did look after unwed mothers in the area as well as her own family. In the 2009 documentary Still Bill, Withers explains, “I learned how to really love somebody from just a nice old lady. My favorite thing that I’ve written has to be about this favorite old lady of mine.”

Veronica by Elvis Costello (1989) – “Veronica” is a single from Elvis Costello’s 1989 album Spike, co-written by Costello with Paul McCartney. In 2004, Entertainment Weekly voted it one of Costello’s top ten greatest tunes.

The song focuses on an older woman who has experienced severe memory loss. Costello’s inspiration for this song was his paternal grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s. When talking about the song on a VH1 interview, Costello reminisced about his grandmother having “terrifying moments of lucidity” and how this was the inspiration for “Veronica”. Her name was Molly, or more formerly, Mabel Josephine Jackson. In fact, her Catholic confirmation name, Veronica, provided the very title of the song.

“Veronica” was also Costello’s highest-charting Top 40 hit in the US, peaking at No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, No. 1 on its Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart, and No. 10 on its Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.

The accompanying music video depicts an aged woman, probably nearing the end of her life in a retirement home, engaging in detached reminiscences from her life from young girl to young womanhood (played by Zoe Carides). The video for “Veronica” featured Costello delivering a spoken-word monologue to the camera, and occasionally singing the song softly over the original vocal track from the recording. The video, co-directed by John Hillcoat and Evan English, earned an MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video.

Help the Aged by Pulp (1998) – Pulp was an English rock band formed in Sheffield in 1978. I never heard of this band, or this song, until I came across it last week while putting together my playlist for this post. This song was chosen as the lead single from 1998 album This Is Hardcore, and signposted the new direction the band took – one full of cynicism and loathing for the fame that had accompanied their breakthrough 1995 record Different Class.

It’s one that surprised many who were expecting more upbeat tunes like “Common People,” but one that Jarvis Cocker (lead vocals, guitar & keyboards) was keen to go in. Observer music critic Sean O’Hagan noted in a 2002 interview with Cocker that This Is Hardcore “cost Pulp a sizable proportion of their post-Common People fan base,” but Cocker in the same interview notes said:

“I weren’t surprised in the slightest. Songs about panic attacks, pornography, fear of death and getting old are never gonna be top of the hit parade, are they? I wrote about my own life. Before that, it was me pottering about, picking up bits of information from wherever. Then it became very interior. Introspective. I don’t think introspection is ever that healthy. In my experience, the more angst-ridden I’ve been, the worse the music is.”

In Seven Years of Plenty, Ben Thompson notes the dark themes of aging and death referenced in “Help the Aged”: “Jarvis Cocker croons caringly, over a sparse piano accompaniment, ‘One day they were just like you: drinking, smoking cigs and sniffing glue.’ But this jaunty one-two is just softening us up for the death blow: ‘If you look very hard behind the lines upon their face, you may see where you are heading and it’s such a lonely place.'”

Despite the dark tone of the song, “Help the Aged” still charted at #8 in the UK singles chart, making it the band’s fifth consecutive Top 10 single.

Wow, those were some sad, somber, sobering songs. Let’s ramp it up and put a little levity into this inevitable process of getting old!

Touch of Grey by the Grateful Dead (1987) – This song is from the album In the Dark. The song is known for its refrain “I will get by / I will survive”. It combines quasi-dystopian lyrics with a pop tempo. The music was composed by Jerry Garcia, and the lyrics were written by Robert Hunter. It was also released as a music video, the first one by the Grateful Dead. I was never much of a Grateful Dead follower but I have enjoyed some of their music, this song in particular. But it surprised me to read that this was The Grateful Dead’s first and only hit song. I mean I know they were “different” but I didn’t realize that they didn’t have other charting hits. They never set out to be on the radio, enthralling fans with their mind-bending musical landscapes and confounding critics with their interminable jamming. Their large and loyal following ensured that their albums sold well and their concerts were full. For many of the Dead faithful, it was strange hearing the group on pop radio and seeing them on MTV, but this song fit well with their canon and was clearly not an attempt to chase the ’80s trends.

The music video for “Touch of Grey” gained major airplay on MTV and featured a live performance of the band, first shown to be life-size skeleton marionettes dressed as the band, then as themselves. The skeleton of bassist Phil Lesh catches a rose in its teeth, thrown by a female attendee; later, a dog steals the lower leg of percussionist Mickey Hart, and a stagehand hurries to retrieve and reattach it. Near the end of the video, the camera pans up into the rafters to reveal that the living band members are themselves marionettes being operated by a pair of skeletal hands.

The popularity of the single and its video helped introduce the Grateful Dead to a new group of fans, resulting in the band gaining additional mainstream attention.

The song, about the band aging gracefully, contains the line, “I will get by, I will survive,” which became a mantra of resilience in the Dead community. When Jerry Garcia fell into a diabetic coma in July 1986, it looked like the group could be finished; when he returned to action in December, the group opened with “Touch Of Grey,” reassuring fans that they would indeed get by.

Arthritis Blues by Ramblin’ Jack Elliot (2006) – Ramblin’ Jack Elliot is an American folk singer and performer. This song is from his 2006 album I Stand Alone. The album was nominated for Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album in the 49th Annual Grammy Awards.

Writing for Allmusic, music critic Thom Jurek wrote about the album: “Elliott hasn’t recorded an album in seven years, but I Stand Alone ranks among his very best efforts. His voice is richer now that it’s aged; it’s full of authority, wisdom, and a certain kind of madness — the kind that one witnesses during his live shows… It’s a fantastic introduction to Elliott for newbies, and authoritative proof that he’s not only still got it, but he just keeps getting better.”

As for “Arthritis Blues”: I can relate! The osteo-arthritis is slowly killing me. Okay, maybe that’s a bit overly dramatic but it sure feels like it sometimes!

Too Old to Cut the Mustard by Buck Owens & Buddy Alan (Buddy is the son of Buck Owens and stepson of Merle Haggard). There isn’t much written about the song per se, but we can infer one thing: the meaning of the song is clear in its use of the idiom “cut the mustard”, expressing that the subject in the song is too old and simply doesn’t have what it takes to do whatever. Here are the lyrics:

Too old, too old, he’s too old to cut the mustard anymore
He’s getting’ too old, he’s done, got too old
He’s too old to cut the mustard anymore

When I was young, I had a lotta pep
I could get around, didn’t need no help
But now you’re old and a gettin’ gray
The people all look at you and say

Chorus:

Too old, too old, he’s too old to cut the mustard anymore
He’s getting’ too old, he’s done, got too old
He’s too old to cut the mustard anymore

I used to, could jump just like a deer
But now you need a new landing gear
I used to, could jump a picket fence
But now you’re lucky if you jump an inch

(Chorus repeat)

When I was young I had an automobile
Now they push you around in a chair with wheels
I had to fight the gals off with a stick
But now they say he makes me sick

(Chorus repeat)

When I was young and in my prime
The gals all used to stand in line
But now they go the other way
And as they leave I hear them say

(Chorus repeat)

All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down by Hank Williams Jr. (1981) – from his album The Pressure is On, this song itself is told from the point of view of a disillusioned singer who, along with his friends, had lived a wild lifestyle. Although admitting he himself has mellowed with age, the singer is depressed that his one-time “rowdy” friends have settled down and, in abandoning their high-living ways, want no part of their old lifestyle. References are made to Williams’ contemporaries, such as George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson, as well as his father, Hank Williams.

This was Hank Jr’s fifth Number One on the Country charts.

As Good As I Once Was by Toby Keith (2005) – “As Good as I Once Was” is a song co-written and recorded by American country music singer Toby Keith that reached the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. This song and his 2003 single “Beer for My Horses” are both his longest-running Number One hits, each having spent six weeks at Number One. “As Good As I Once Was” was released in May 2005 as the second single from Keith’s album Honkytonk University. Keith wrote the song with Scotty Emerick.

The song was named BMI’s song of the Year for 2006. It has since become one of Keith’s signature songs, as well as one of his most successful.

The title of this song is a phrase that Toby Keith grew up with. According to his good friend and songwriting partner Scotty Emerick, it was a phrase that was coined by Burt Reynolds on a TV show, and Toby’s dad used it often. Scotty saw the episode after the song had become a hit while watching Nick At Night. He told Songfacts:

“Burt Reynolds came and he sat down and said, ‘You know, I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.’ That was on a rerun of a show from the ’80s or something. I think that saying has been around a little bit. Which is cool, because we had never heard of it as a country song. But I had never heard of it that way, so that was Toby’s idea.”

Toby Keith said on his website that this song is “Probably my favorite song on the album. If I hadn’t come out of the box with ‘Honkytonk U’ I’d have come with this one. It didn’t matter what order, they were going to be singles one and two. I can always tell when I’ve got a special one as soon as I get done. My dad used to say this line some. The first verse is about being with a woman, two is about fighting, and three is saying don’t sell me short because I’ll surprise you.”

Old Folks Boogie by Little Feat (1977) – This fun song, written by Little Feat’s Paul Barrere, is from their sixth album Time Loves a Hero. Getting old sucks and these guys explore some of the issues that may befall even the best of us as we age. The song contains lyrics about pacemakers, wheelchairs, financial troubles, and erectile dysfunction.

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

Well that wraps up Part 3 of my Songs on Aging and Getting Old(er) series. I hope you’ve enjoyed some of my favorite songs about the realities of aging. Which songs here did you like? What are your favorite songs about aging?

Be sure to come back for Part 4, the final installment of this series, on Monday, October 29th.

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 – MY FAVORITE SONGS WITH FINGER-SNAPS & HAND-CLAPS!

Welcome to Monday’s Music Moves Me! As this month’s Honorary Co-Hostess, I’m excited to be presenting today’s theme:

SONGS WITH FINGER-SNAPS AND HAND-CLAPS!

I picked this theme a few months ago and have since been trying to come up with my favorite songs utilizing finger-snaps and hand-claps as essential song elements. So let’s get started and I’ll share with you what I came up with from memory and also through the help of Google, Wikipedia and other music research sites.

The very first song I thought of is one that brings back memories from childhood. The finger-snapping is always what stood out to me most and I heard it frequently as I was growing up. For those who hear songs and get them stuck in their heads (which can sometimes be quite annoying), this particular song, the first in my playlist, makes for an enjoyable earworm, that catchy song or tune that runs continually through a person’s mind.

Here is my playlist of Finger-Snapping and Hand-Clapping songs. Click on it to begin play and then, if you’d like, take a few minutes to read about some cool facts that I discovered while on this snappin’ clappin’ slappin’ journey. Or not. You can just Press & Play too. Whatever you wish, it’s all here for your enjoyment and information.

 

King of the Road by Roger Miller (1965) – “King of the Road” is a song written and originally recorded in November 1964 by country singer Roger Miller. The lyrics tell of the day-to-day life of a vagabond hobo who, despite being poor (a “man of means by no means”), revels in his freedom, describing himself humorously as the “king of the road”.

This song was a popular crossover record as it hit No. 1 on the US Country chart, No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and No. 1 on the Easy Listening surveys. It was also No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart, and in Norway. Miller recalled that the song was inspired when he was driving and saw a sign on the side of a barn that read, “Trailers for sale or rent”. This would become the opening line of the song.

On Roger Miller’s website, it explains that Miller wrote this song over a 6-week span, beginning on a 1964 Midwest TV tour. He wrote the first verse when he saw a “Trailers for Sale or Rent” sign on the road outside Chicago. A few weeks later, he bought a statuette of a hobo in Boise, Idaho airport gift shop and stared at it until he had completed the song.

Miller has given at least one other explanation for how he came up with the song, however. When he was the co-host on the Mike Douglas Show August 11, 1969, he revealed that the idea for “King Of The Road” came when he was driving in Indiana and saw a sign offering trailers for sale or rent, and it stuck in his mind. Said Miller,

“I was doing a show in a place you have probably never heard of called Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, and I saw a statue of a hobo in a cigar shop where I was staying. I purchased it and took it to my room and wrote the song.”

So we know there was a sign and a hobo statue, but where they came from is unclear. Miller would sometimes introduce the song by saying, “Here’s a song I wrote on a rainy night in Boise, Idaho,” which is much more identifiable for American listeners (especially in Nashville) than Kitchener, Ontario. Miller’s widow says that she’s not sure, and the Kitchener story could very well be true).

FUN FACT: Roger Miller opened two “King of the Road” Motor Inns in the early ’70s – one in Nashville, and another in Valdosta, Georgia. Unlike the cheap digs Miller sings about in his song, however, these Motels were billed as “luxury accommodations” and had a very modern motif. At the Nashville location, a music club on the top floor became a popular spot for many local musicians to perform. Ronnie Milsap played there many times, and Miller would often play as well.

Fever by Peggy Lee (1958) – This tale of passionate love was originally recorded by a singer named Little Willie John. Born in 1937, he was one of the first R&B singers, fairly popular in the late ’50s and early ’60s. Although he was a major influence on soul singers of the ’60s, he remains relatively unknown today. His nickname came from his slight height – he was only 5’4″.

After stabbing a man to death, he was jailed for manslaughter and died in prison when he was only 30 years old. The cause of his death is disputed – with reasons given ranging from a heart attack, pneumonia, asphyxiation, or as the result of beatings received in prison. His songs have been covered by many artists. “Fever” was covered by Elvis, Tom Jones and Madonna but the most famous version is by Peggy Lee.

In May 1958, Peggy Lee recorded her cover version of the song in Hollywood, which featured significantly rewritten lyrics composed by Lee herself without credit. The uncopyrighted lyrics by Lee featured historical invokings (including the verses beginning “Romeo loved Juliet,” and “Captain Smith and Pocahontas”) are now generally thought of as a standard part of the song, and have been included in most subsequent covers of “Fever”.

Lee’s cover, most likely arranged by the singer herself (despite the official credit to conductor Jack Marshall) was a more slow-tempo version than the original; it was described as being in “torchy lounge” mode, accompanied only by bass (played by Joe Mondragon) and a very limited drum set (played in part with fingers by Shelly Manne), while the finger snaps were provided by the singer herself, by Howard Roberts, the guitarist for the date, who set aside his guitar for this number, or possibly even by the producer, Dave Cavanaugh. Lee’s rendition was further described as “smooth, sultry”.

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham! (1984) – “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” is a song by the British duo Wham! It was first released as a single in the UK in May 1984. It became their first UK and US number one hit. It was written and produced by George Michael.

The other partner of the Wham! duo, Andrew Ridgeley, lived at home with his parents even after Wham! made it big, which isn’t as lame as it sounds: they were on the road all the time, so it was easier than maintaining his own empty household (he and George Michael used a room in the house to make their demos). One day, Ridgeley needed a wake-up call, so he left a note for him mum on his door. He wrote, “Wake me up up,” and realizing he duplicated a word, finished the sentence with “before you go go.”

George Michael got a kick out of it and decided to use it as a song title. Michael put together a song called “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go,” and it became Wham’s first American hit.

A “go-go” is a dance club, and dancing is the theme of this song, which tells the story of a guy who is head over heels for his girl, and bummed when he finds out she went dancing while he slept. He asks that in the future, she wake him up before she goes.

The song opens with four repetitions of the word “Jitterbug,” with finger snaps in between. The jitterbug was a popular dance in the 1930s; combined with the finger snaps and lyrics that harken back to a more innocent time, it helps give the song a retro feel. Another throwback: the line “You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day,” which refers to the singer-actress who was popular in the ’40s and ’50s.

My Girl by The Temptations (1964) – “My Girl” is a soul music song recorded by the Temptations for the Gordy (Motown) record label. Written and produced by the Miracles members Smokey Robinson and Ronald White, the song became the Temptations’ first U.S. number-one single, and is today their signature song. Robinson’s inspiration for writing this song was his wife, Miracles member Claudette Rogers Robinson. The song was included on the Temptations 1965 album The Temptations Sing Smokey. In 2018, it was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or artistically significant.

Members of the Motown house band The Funk Brothers played on the track. The song has a very simple but effective arrangement, which was charted by Paul Riser. It opens with James Jamerson’s bassline, then goes into the ascending guitar figure played by the song’s writer/producer Ronald White. Finger snaps come in, then drums played by Benny Benjamin and strings provided by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

The arrangement accentuates the vocals, making the words very easy to understand. This served as a template for future Temptations recordings and helped make them stars, as attention was always focused on stage on the singers.

This was the first of four US #1 hits for The Temptations. It was also the first #1 for a male vocal group on the Motown label.

The Temptations were a groundbreaking act in terms of choreography, doing precise movements to accentuate their songs. This one used big, expressive gestures that became widely associated with the song – it was not uncommon to see people doing the moves while listening to it. The Motown choreographer was a dancer named Cholly Atkins.

Back to the song’s history: The recorded version of “My Girl” was the first Temptations single to feature David Ruffin on lead vocals. Previously, Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams had performed most of the group’s lead vocals, and Ruffin had joined the group as a replacement for former Temptation Elbridge Bryant. While on tour as part of the Motortown Revue, a collective tour for most of the Motown roster, Smokey Robinson caught the Temptations’ part of the show. The group had included a medley of soul standards in the show, one of which, the Drifters’ “Under the Boardwalk”, was a solo spot for Ruffin. Impressed, Robinson decided to produce a single with Ruffin singing lead. Robinson saw Ruffin as a “sleeping giant” in the group with a unique voice that was “mellow” yet “gruff”. Robinson thought that if he could write just the perfect song for Ruffin’s voice, then he could have a smash hit. The song was to be something that Ruffin could “belt out” yet something that was also “melodic and sweet”.

After some persuasion from Ruffin’s bandmates, Robinson had the Temptations record “My Girl” instead of the Miracles, who were originally to record the song, and recruited Ruffin to sing the lead vocals. According to Robinson, he allowed the group to create their own background vocals “because they were so great at background vocals.”

(Theme from) The Monkees (1966) – The Monkees is an American sitcom (situation comedy) that aired on NBC from September 12, 1966 to March 25, 1968. The series follows the adventures of four young men (the Monkees) trying to make a name for themselves as a rock ‘n roll band.

The Monkees themselves are an American rock and pop band originally active between 1966 and 1971, with reunion albums and tours in the decades that followed. They were formed in Los Angeles in 1965 by Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider for the Amercan TV series. The musical acting quartet was composed of Americans Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork and British actor and singer Davy Jones. The band’s music was initially supervised by producer Don Kirshner, backed by the songwriting duo of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.

I’m going to get to the theme song in a minute but thought I’d share some of the fun background information on the TV show and the band and how it all came to be. Feel free to skip this if you want. I’m borderline obsessed with The Monkees and I find all this extremely interesting. You may not. But here goes (info taken from Wikipedia and Songfacts):

The series centered on the adventures of the Monkees, a struggling rock band from Los Angeles, California consisting of Micky, Davy, Michael, and Peter. The comic elements of the storyline were provided by the strange and often surreal encounters that the band would have while searching for their big break.

Conception and casting:  In the early 1960s, aspiring filmmakers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider had formed Raybert Productions and were trying to get a foot in the door in Hollywood. They were inspired by the Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night and decided to develop a television series about a fictional rock and roll group. Raybert sold the series idea to Screen Gems in April, 1965, and Paul Mazursky and Larry Tucker completed a pilot script by August entitled “The Monkeys”. Rafelson has said that he had the idea for a TV series about a music group as early as 1960, but had a hard time interesting anyone in it until 1965, by which time rock and roll music was firmly entrenched in pop culture.

Trade publications Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter ran an ad on September 8, 1965 seeking “Folk & Roll Musicians-Singers for acting roles in new TV series.” As many as 400 hopefuls showed up to be considered as one of “4 insane boys.” Fourteen actors from the audition pool were brought back for screen tests and Raybert chose their final four after audience research.

Micky Dolenz, son of screen actor George Dolenz, had prior screen experience under the name “Mickey Braddock” as the 10-year-old star of the Circus Boy series in the 1950s. He was actively auditioning for pilots at the time and was told about the Raybert project by his agent.

Englishman Davy Jones was a former jockey who had achieved some initial success on the musical stage, appearing with the cast of Oliver! on The Ed Sullivan Show the night of the Beatles’ live American debut. He was appearing in Columbia Pictures productions and recording for the Colpix record label and had been identified in advance as a potential star for the series.

Texan Michael Nesmith‘s mother Bette Nesmith Graham had invented a correction fluid and founded the company that became Liquid Paper. He had served a brief stint in the U.S. Air Force and had also recorded for Colpix under the name “Michael Blessing.” He was the only one of The Monkees who had come for the audition based on seeing the trade magazine ad. He showed up to the audition with his laundry and impressed Rafelson and Schneider with his laid-back style and droll sense of humor. He also wore a wool hat to keep his hair out of his eyes when he rode his motorcycle, leading to early promotional materials which nicknamed him “Wool Hat.” The hat remained part of Nesmith’s wardrobe, but the name was dropped after the pilot.

Peter Tork was recommended to Rafelson and Schneider by friend Stephen Stills at his audition. Tork was a skilled multi-instrumentalist who had performed at various Greenwich Village folk clubs before moving west, where he worked as a busboy.

Development:  The Monkees in 1967: Rafelson and Schneider wanted the style of the series to reflect avant garde film techniques—such as improvisation, quick cuts, jump cuts, breaking the fourth wall, and free-flowing, loose narratives—then being pioneered by European film directors. Each episode would contain at least one musical “romp” which might have nothing to do with the storyline. In retrospect, these vignettes now look very much like music videos: short, self-contained films of songs in ways that echoed the Beatles’ recent ventures into promotional films for their singles. They also believed strongly in the program’s ability to appeal to young people, intentionally framing the kids as heroes and the adults as heavies.

Rafelson and Schneider hired novice director James Frawley to teach the four actors improvisational comedy. Each of the four was given a different personality to portray: Dolenz the funny one, Nesmith the smart and serious one, Tork the naive one, and Jones the cute one. Their characters were loosely based on their real selves, with the exception of Tork, who was actually a quiet intellectual. The character types also had much in common with the respective personalities of the Beatles, with Dolenz representing the madcap attitude of John Lennon, Nesmith affecting the deadpan seriousness of George Harrison, Tork depicting the odd-man-out quality of Ringo Starr, and Jones conveying the pin-up appeal of Paul McCartney.

A pilot episode was shot in San Diego and Los Angeles on a shoestring budget—in many scenes the Monkees wore their own clothes. Initial audience tests (which were just then being pioneered) produced very low responses. Rafelson then re-edited the pilot and included some of the screen tests, to better introduce the band members to viewers. (Dolenz was credited in this pilot as “Micky Braddock.”) The re-cut pilot tested so well that NBC placed an order for two seasons of episodes.

The Monkees debuted September 12, 1966, on the NBC television network. The series was sponsored on alternate weeks by Kellogg’s Cereals and Yardley of London.

FUN FACT: The series was filmed by Screen Gems, and many of the same sets and props from The Three Stooges short films made by the studio were used on The Monkees: A pair of pajamas with a bunny design on the front that had been worn by Curly Howard in shorts such as Cactus Makes Perfect and In the Sweet Pie and Pie were the same ones worn by Peter Tork in various episodes such as “A Coffin Too Frequent” and “Monkee See, Monkee Die.”

Music: The theme song to The Monkees, “(Theme from) The Monkees” (released as the single in some countries in 1967), is one of the group’s most well-known songs. The line “We’re the young generation, and we’ve got somethin’ to say” reflected the new youth counterculture and their desire to give their own opinions on world events and choosing how to live their own lives instead of abiding by the traditions and beliefs of their elders.

This was the first song written and recorded for The Monkees TV series; written to introduce the irreverent act, a portion of it was used as the theme song for the show. The finger snaps and “here we come” line were influenced by the Dave Clark Five song “Catch Us If You Can,” where they sing, “Here we come again, catch us if you can.”

“I always thought the song worked fine as the theme song for the TV show. But I never allowed us to sing it in public,” Peter Tork, the group’s keyboardist/bass guitarist, told Entertainment Weekly. “The whole idea of standing up there and singing, ‘We’re wonderful/We’re the wonderful ones/And our names are The Wonderful Ones,’ was too self-congratulatory. What we do now is, the backing band plays [the music] and Micky and I come out onstage to it. I can’t ever see us singing ‘Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees!’ I couldn’t bear it.”

The first season, in 1966, the series fared well in the ratings bolstered by several hit records by the band. The Monkees became a huge pop culture sensation. However, the public didn’t realize the show and the band were mostly a generally manufactured television series and Monkees themselves did not write or perform much of their own studio music, except to provide the vocals. The only exception were their live performances. When the truth became well known, there was a large backlash by many fans and music critics. NBC responded to the backlash by retooling the show in its second season with Monkees now writing and performing much of their own music that was much less pop oriented. In addition, the first season’s clean cut looks were replaced by more hippy looking attire. All this alienated the young fans who then deserted the group. The result was a huge decline in ratings and record sales. By 1967, NBC felt the series had run its course. Coupled with friction within the band itself, the series was cancelled in 1968. The Monkees released three more albums after the series cancellation but they did not chart well.

The program ended on Labor Day 1968 at the finish of its second season and has received a long afterlife through Saturday morning repeats (CBS and ABC) and syndication, as well as overseas broadcasts; it later enjoyed a 1980s revival, after MTV aired reruns of the program in 1986.

Catch Us If You Can by the Dave Clark Five (1965) – “Catch Us If You Can” is a 1965 song from The Dave Clark Five (DC5), written by group’s drummer Dave Clark and guitarist Lenny Davidson. The song was one of DC5’s top hits, reaching number 5 on the UK Singles Chart in the late summer of 1965 and number 4 on the U.S. pop singles chart, later that fall.

Starting with guitar and finger snapping accompaniment, the hook was instantaneous:

Here they come again, mmmm-mm-mm

Catch us if you can, mmmm-mm-mm

Time to get a move on, mmmm-mm-mm

We will yell with all of our might!

[drums kick in]

Catch us if you can …

The title phrase was seemingly a take-off on the 1959 crime film Catch Me If You Can and similar phrases, with “me” turned to the group’s “us”. In the U.S., “Catch” remains one of the DC5’s most played tunes on oldies radio stations. In Australia, the Candid Camera-style television show Catch Us If You Can was named after the song. And as mentioned earlier, the finger snaps and “Here we come” line in this song provided inspiration for the “(Theme From) The Monkees,” which was written later in 1965 for the show’s pilot episode.

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

Those were my favorite Finger-Snap songs. As for my favorite Hand-Clap songs, the very first one to come to my mind was “Car Wash”, followed by Steve Miller’s “Take the Money & Run.” There are several other songs with hand claps but the other here are  my favorites in this category. Let’s start with the first one that came to mind:

Car Wash by Rose Royce (1976) – “Car Wash” is a hit song by American R&B band Rose Royce. It was the group’s debut single and one of the most notable successes of the 1970s disco era. “Car Wash”, the theme of the 1976 motion picture Car Wash, was Rose Royce’s most successful single and the lead single from their debut studio album, the Car Wash soundtrack. Reaching number-one in the United States on the Billboard pop and R&B charts, “Car Wash” also peaked at number three on the dance chart and reached number nine in the UK Singles chart in February 1977.

Former Motown Records producer Norman Whitfield had been commissioned to record the soundtrack album for Car Wash by director Michael Schultz. Although Whitfield did not want to assume the project, he decided to do so, both for financial incentives as well as the chance to give Rose Royce, a disco/funk backing band that Whitfield signed to his own label in 1975, the exposure they needed to become mainstream. Unable to develop a theme song for the film, inspiration finally struck Whitfield while watching a basketball game and eating Kentucky Fried Chicken. He wrote the lyrics on the bag! Now that would be a real collector’s item, wouldn’t it? A paper Kentucky Fried Chicken bag has the first draft of “Car Wash” written on it! (The fried chicken eatery wasn’t called KFC back then. I remember when Kentucky Fried Chicken first came out. Do you?)

The resulting song set the mood and tone for the comedy film it was commissioned for. Rose Royce lead singer Rose Norwalt (Gwen Dickey), with brief assistance from guitarist Kenji Brown, describes a fun and easy-going car washing business, where everything is “always cool/and the boss don’t mind sometimes if you act a fool.”

The hand claps at the beginning have been sampled many times by a variety of hip-hop and R&B artists.

Take the Money and Run by Steve Miller (1976) – “Take the Money and Run” is a song recorded in 1976 by the Steve Miller Band and is featured on the Fly Like an Eagle album. The song peaked at #11 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in July 1976.

Miller wrote this song, which tells a Bonnie-and-Clyde story about a young couple (Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue) who kill a man in a robbery and go on the run. Miller gives only vague details in the verses, but in the end they slip away and are still on the loose.

Miller wrote this as a road trip song. When he was a kid, his parents took him on long road trips where they listened to radio stations the whole time and sung along to their favorite songs. In the ’70s, FM radio allowed for stereo sound and provided a cleaner signal, so Miller made his road trip anthems bigger, with more layers to the sound. He made sure these songs were upbeat and fun, just like the ones that caught his ear as a kid.

Another characteristic of Miller’s road songs is mention of various places – El Paso shows up in this one. (In “Rock ‘N Me,” he namechecks several cities, including Phoenix, Atlanta and Philadelphia).

Get Down and Get With It by Slade (1971) – “Get Down and Get with It” is a song by American R&B singer-songwriter Bobby Marchan, first released as “Get Down with It” as the B-Side to his 1964 single “Half a Mind”. In 1967, American singer Little Richard would record his own version, which was released as a single. In 1971, the British rock band Slade recorded a version of the song as “Get Down and Get with It”, based on Little Richard’s version, which gave the band their first UK chart hit, reaching #16 on the chart and staying there for fourteen weeks.

Prior to recording the song in the studio, the band had established “Get Down and Get with It” as a popular number in their live-set, based on Little Richard’s version. They always played it as their final song in their live sets for nearly two years. In his autobiography, band member Noddy Holder said it was a Little Richard cover in twelve bar format, but “had something magical about it”; the original was all piano and sax, but they did it with guitars.

Impressed by the general audience reception of the song, Slade’s band manager Chas Chandler suggested recording the song as a single. The band entered Olympic Studios in Barnes to record it and Chandler told the band: “Just play it like you do on-stage. Blast it out like it’s live, and pretend that there’s an audience in there with you.”

When eventually they decided to record it, at Olympic Studios, they did so with a live feel, setting up the microphones in the stairwell outside which gave the echo [for handclapping and stamping]. Successfully recorded in a single take, the band included foot-stomping and hand-clapping in the recording to give the song a live feel.

Ballroom Blitz by Sweet (1973 in the UK, 1975 in the US) = “The Ballroom Blitz” (often called “Ballroom Blitz”) is a song by the British rock band The Sweet, written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman.

“The Ballroom Blitz” was inspired by an incident on 27 January 1973 when the band was performing at the Grand Hall in Kilmarnock, Scotland and were driven offstage by a barrage of bottles.

Quentin Tarantino was considering using this song in the ear scene in Reservoir Dogs but went with the Stealers Wheels’ “Stuck In The Middle With You” instead.

Stuck in the Middle with You by Stealers Wheels (1973) – “Stuck in the Middle with You” (sometimes known as “Stuck in the Middle”) is a song written by Scottish musicians Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan and originally performed by their band Stealers Wheel.

In his obituary of Rafferty for the January 5, 2011 issue of the Daily Telegraph, Martin Chilton said of this song that it was “Written as a parody of Bob Dylan’s paranoia, it ridiculed a music industry cocktail party, with the lyrics:

Clowns to the left of me

jokers to the right

here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

To Rafferty’s utter disbelief his parody, composed as little more than a joke but with a catchy Pop arrangement, struck gold, selling more than a million copies. The song reached a new generation of listeners when Quentin Tarantino used it in the notorious ear-slicing scene in his 1992 movie Reservoir Dogs.”

This played a big part in Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 movie Reservoir Dogs, where a sadistic character played by Michael Madsen tunes in a radio station that begins playing this song, then proceeds to mutilate a police officer he is holding hostage. Tarantino recalled to Rolling Stone his use of this song:

“That was one of those things where I thought [the song] would work really well, and [during] auditions, I told the actors that I wanted them to do the torture scene, and I’m gonna use ‘Stuck in the Middle With You,’ but they could pick anything they wanted, they didn’t have to use that song. And a couple people picked another one, but almost everyone came in with ‘Stuck in the Middle With You,’ and they were saying that they tried to come up with something else, but that’s the one. The first time somebody actually did the torture scene to that song, the guy didn’t even have a great audition, but it was like watching the movie. I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is gonna be awesome!’ “

Summertime Blues by Eddie Cochran (1958) – “Summertime Blues” is a song co-written and recorded by American rockabilly artist Eddie Cochran. It was written by Cochran and his manager Jerry Capehart. Originally a single B-side, it was released in August 1958 and peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 29, 1958 and number 18 on the UK Singles Chart. It has been covered by many artists, including being a number-one hit for country music artist Alan Jackson, and scoring notable hits in versions by The Who, Blue Cheer and Brian Setzer, the latter of whom recorded his version for the 1987 film La Bamba, where he portrayed Cochran. Jimi Hendrix also performed it in concert.

Cochran wrote this with Jerry Capehart, a songwriter who was good friends with Cochran and helped him get a record deal. Capehart, later his manager, explained the inspiration for this song in Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 songs issue: “There had been a lot of songs about summer, but none about the hardships of summer.” With that idea and a guitar lick from Cochran, they wrote the song in 45 minutes.

Eddie Cochran sang both the vocal and bass vocal (the “work-a-late” portions, Cochran’s tribute to the Kingfish character from the Amos and Andy television series), played all the guitar parts, and added the hand clapping with Sharon Sheeley, who really wanted to do it, but had trouble getting the rhythm. Eddie helped her out by showing her how to clap. Connie ‘Guybo’ Smith played the electric bass and Earl Palmer drums.

This was Cochran’s breakthrough hit. His previous singles didn’t do very well, but this gave him a lot of exposure and established him as a star.

Cochran was 19 when he recorded this. It was a big hit with his teenage fans, who could relate to the lyrics about being held back by society (and parents). Cochran got an image as a rebel with a guitar, and his legend was secured when he died 2 years later while riding in the back of a taxi. He was often compared to James Dean, who was 24 when he died in a car accident.

Legacy: Besides being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 and ranking as number 73 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and being placed by Q magazine as one of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks and being on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum list of “The Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll”, the song appears on the soundtrack for the movie Caddyshack as well as opening Season 4 of Beverly Hills, 90210.

I Love a Rainy Night by Eddie Rabbitt (1980) – “I Love a Rainy Night” is a song co-written and recorded by American country music artist Eddie Rabbitt. It was released in November 1980 as the second single from his album Horizon. This crossover hit reached number one on the Hot Country Singles, Billboard Hot 100, and Adult Contemporary Singles charts in 1981. The song succeeded Dolly Parton’s song “9 to 5” at the number 1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart – the last time, to date, that the pop chart featured back-to-back country singles in the number one position. It was written by Rabbitt, Even Stevens and David Malloy.

According to music historian Fred Bronson, “I Love a Rainy Night” was 12 years in the making. Rabbitt had a collection of old tapes he kept in the basement of his home. While rummaging through the tapes one day in 1980, he heard a fragment of a song he had recorded one rainy night in the late 1960s.

“It brought back the memory of sitting in a small apartment, staring out the window at one o’clock in the morning, watching the rain come down,” wrote Bronson in The Billboard Book of Number One Hits. “He sang into his tape recorder, ‘I love a rainy night, I love a rainy night.'”

Upon rediscovery of the old lyrics, Rabbitt completed the song (with help from frequent songwriting partners Even Stevens and David Malloy) and recorded it.

The end result included vivid descriptions of a man’s fondness for thunderstorms and the peace it brings him (“I love to hear the thunder/watch the lightnin’ when it lights up the sky/you know it makes me feel good”) and a renewed sense of hope the storms bring (“Showers wash all my cares away/I wake up to a sunny day”).

This song has both – snaps and claps! The song’s other mark of distinction is its rhythm pattern of alternating finger snaps and hand claps, which was included with the help of percussionist Farrell Morris, who — according to The Billboard Book of Number One Country Hits — mixed two tracks of each to complete the record.

Our Lips are Sealed by The Go-Go’s (1981) – It was first recorded by The Go-Go’s as the opening track on their album Beauty and the Beat and was their debut American single in June 1981. The single eventually reached the top 5 in Australia and Canada, and the top 20 in the United States.

This was the first hit for the Go-Go’s, who started as a Punk band in the late ’70s, but became Pop superstars with the release of their first album, Beauty and the Beat. Unlike most other female Pop groups, the Go-Go’s wrote their own songs and were serious musicians. Despite their pure Pop sound, they had a confidence and attitude that gave them lots of credibility and set them apart from other bands on the fledgling MTV network.

Go-Go’s guitarist Jane Wiedlin wrote this with British musician Terry Hall, who was lead singer of The Specials. Says Wiedlin:

“In 1980 we were playing at The Whisky on Sunset Strip, and The Specials were in town from England, and they came to see us, and they really liked us and asked us if we would be their opening act on their tour. I met Terry Hall, the singer of The Specials, and ended up having kind of a romance. He sent me the lyrics to ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’ later in the mail, and it was kind of about our relationship, because he had a girlfriend at home and all this other stuff. So it was all very dramatic. I really liked the lyrics, so I finished the lyrics and wrote the music to it, and the rest is history. And then his band, The Fun Boy Three, ended up recording it, too – they did a really great version of it, also. It was like a lot gloomier than the Go-Go’s’ version.”

Speaking about her relationship with Terry Hall, Wiedlin adds:

“Like I said, he had a girlfriend in England, and they were talking about getting married and all this stuff. So I don’t know how I got in the picture. And, you know, that’s something that I did as a teenager, maybe I was 20. That’s something I would never do now, knowingly enter into a relationship with someone who was with someone else. I mean, it was completely screwed on my part. Although I think when people do that, you really have to look at the person who’s in the relationship, and they have to take the burden of the responsibility as well. Anyways, it was one of those things with the tragic letters, ‘I just can’t do this.’ You know, ‘I’m betrothed to another.’ All that kind of stuff.”

They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa! by Napoleon XIV (1966) – “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” is a 1966 novelty record written and performed by Jerry Samuels (billed as Napoleon XIV), and released on Warner Bros. Records. The song became an instant success in the United States, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 popular music singles chart on August 13 number 2 in Canada, and reaching No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart.

The lyrics describe the effect on the mental health of an individual after a break-up. His paranoid thinking makes him believe that he is being pursued by “those nice young men in their clean white coats” (referring to psychiatric attendants) who are coming to transport him to the funny farm/happy home (referring to a mental hospital), and he welcomes them as an end to his misery. The main character seems to be addressing an ex-girlfriend or wife, and describes his descent into madness after she has left him. However, the last verse of the song finishes: “They’ll find you yet and when they do / They’ll put you in the ASPCA / You mangy mutt”.

As for those hand-claps: Samuels explained the recording process to Songfacts:

“I needed hand clappers, and I wanted a whole bunch of hand clappers, so I invited a bunch of my friends down to the studio at 2 O’clock in the morning, and only three of us showed up. I said, ‘Look, there’s only three of us, that’s not enough hand clappers. What I want us to do, instead of clapping our hands, I want us to sit in a semi-circle and I’ll drop my Neumann microphone down in front of us, and we’ll slap our thighs. If we slap our thighs, we’ll have the sound of two claps rather than one. However, you cannot slap your clothes because the clothes muffle it – you have to slap your skin. What I want us to do is sit in a semi-circle and drop our pants and do it.’

They wouldn’t do it, so what we had to do was overdub. We bounced from track to track three times, so we wound up with nine hand clappers, but we also wound up with some noise because we were copying the noise level. There is an inherent noise level when you record analog, and the signal to noise ratio decreases as you overdub, but that’s what we lived with.”

FUN FACT: Several radio stations pulled the song after receiving numerous complaints. This was some controversial subject matter for 1966, and it eventually got banned on many radio stations. Says Samuels: “It was a hit before it got banned. Once it got banned, it was finished.” See newspaper article below. Also, the July 30, 1966 issue of Billboard Magazine had an article detailing the uproar. I’m trying to get my hands on it.

This song has always freaked me out. It’s very disturbing and the music video is even more disturbing. But you just can’t stop listening or look away!

Recently my friend Tom Anderson featured in one of his posts in August at his blog Shady’s Place a cool graphic of “Girl Answer Songs of the 60s” that mentioned this song and the girl band response song called “They Took You Away! I’m Glad! I’m Glad!” by Josephine XV. Haha  It’s equally disturbing btw. Listen for yourself:

Rock & Roll by Gary Glitter (1972) – “Rock and Roll” (also known as “The Hey Song”) is a song by English glam rock singer Gary Glitter that was released in 1972 as a single and on the album Glitter. Co-written by Glitter and Mike Leander, the song is in two parts: Part 1 is a vocal track reflecting on the history of the genre, and Part 2 is a mostly instrumental piece. Both parts were popular in Britain, and the single went to No. 2 on the British charts. In concert, Glitter merged both into one performance.

This is better known as the “Hey” song because of the chant in the chorus… “da da da da da da da… Hey!” It’s probably the greatest example of “Glam Rock,” which was characterized by male lead singers dressed in outrageous, usually feminine clothes singing anthemic songs with massive drums. The glam popularized by David Bowie had a lot more nuance, including well-written lyrics that were foreign to Glitter, who by his own admission wasn’t very good at music. He was known more for his appearance and his wild stage shows, which would feature motorcycles, pyro, and plenty of other distractions.

Glitter wrote this song with his producer, Mike Leander, who came up with a key element in the song: the compressed, metronomic drum sound that would later be copied by Sweet and various other Glam acts. Along with the drums, Leander layered big guitar riffs, lots of hand-claps, and the vocal hey’s performed by Glitter and his friends.

“Rock and Roll” is Glitter’s only US Top 10 hit. It was also in North America that the “Part 2” became popularly associated with sports, as a number of professional teams adopted the song for use during games — primarily to signify scores and victories. It is often referred to as “The ‘Hey’ Song,” as the only intelligible word in Part 2 is the exclamation of “Hey,” punctuating the end of several instrumental phrases and repeated three times at the song’s chorus. At sporting events, fans often insert their own “Hey,” or sometimes other chanted syllables.

In the UK, “Rock and Roll” was one of over 25 hit singles for Glitter. In the US, the instrumental version (Part 2) attracted most of the attention; it hit No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In the ’80s, Glitter went through bankruptcy and was arrested for drunk driving, but his downfall came in 1997 when he took his computer in for repair and the technician found child pornography on the hard drive. Glitter was arrested and sent to prison, where he served two months starting in November 1999. After his release, he lived in Cuba and Cambodia, then to Vietnam, where he was sentenced to prison in 2006 for sexually assaulting minors. When he was released in 2008, he was sent back to England, where he was placed on a sexual offender registry. In 2012 he was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a number of young girls in the ’70s and ’80s, and in 2015 was given a 16-year sentence for these offenses. So sick and disgusting!

Most Americans are only vaguely aware of Glitter’s misdeeds, but in the UK he is reviled. He music is rarely played there, not just because of the association, but because as the co-writer of most of his songs, he could earn royalties. “Rock And Roll Part 2” was a stadium favorite in America, but nothing like its heyday in the ’90s, when it surged in popularity as a jock jam.

Part 2 of the song had become a standard at sporting events, particularly in North America. It was played first in a sport setting in 1974 at games for the Kalamazoo Wings of the high-minor International Hockey League by Kevin O’Brien, the team’s public relations and marketing director. When he went to work for the NHL’s Colorado Rockies in 1976, he brought the song with him. After the Rockies moved to New Jersey as the New Jersey Devils in 1982, the Denver Nuggets and Denver Broncos picked up the tradition and were the first NBA and NFL teams to play the song during games.

As previously mentioned, in 1999, Glitter was convicted of downloading child pornography in England, and in 2006 of child sexual abuse charges in Vietnam. After the second conviction was upheld in court, the NFL asked teams to stop playing the song. Glitter was dismayed by this result as he is a fan of the San Diego Chargers and had choreographed some of the team’s cheerleading cadences in 1989. The NFL allowed a cover version of the song by the Tube Tops 2000 to be played, but in 2012, the NFL instructed teams to “avoid” the song following negative reaction from British media to the New England Patriots’ use of the song. In 2014, Billboard reported that the song was slowly falling out of favor due to both the controversies, and teams electing to replace it with newer songs. Thankfully.

What I Like About You by the Romantics (1979) – “What I Like About You” is a song by American rock band The Romantics. The song, written by Romantics members Wally Palmar, Mike Skill and Jimmy Marinos in 1979 is included on the band’s self-titled debut album (1980), and was also released as a single. Marinos, the band’s drummer, is the lead vocalist on the song.

The Romantics, so named because they formed on Valentine’s Day 1977 in Detroit, have had only two US Top 40 hits – and this, now their best-known song, wasn’t one of them. It attracted little attention and was only a minor hit when first released in 1980 on their debut album, but found new life later in the decade when it became a popular choice for an advertising jingle, particularly for Budweiser beer. Since then the song has also become a fixture at sporting events, bars and nightclubs, and parties and celebrations of all kinds, and has taken its place as one of the most popular rock anthems of all time.

BTW, the Romantics’ two Top 40 hits were “Talking In Your Sleep” (#3) and “One In A Million” (#37). Both came in 1983, from their fourth album In Heat.

In another ironic twist, the licensing of this song for advertising, the very thing that sparked the song’s comeback, was apparently handled illegally. It was secured from the band’s management without the band’s knowledge or approval, which sparked a lawsuit lasting several years. Despite now having faded into obscurity, the band stayed together during this time, albeit with several lineup changes, and remain active as of 2012.

The band filmed a music video for the song that appeared frequently on MTV during the early 1980s. This song’s resurgence had a lot to do with MTV. The band made a simple performance video for the song that MTV put in rotation when they launched in 1981. It fit the criteria the network was looking for: American band, rock, catchy song, acceptable production quality. Since few American artists made videos at the time, MTV made do with lots of European imports when they started.

Another One Bites the Dust by Queen (1980) – “Another One Bites the Dust” is a 1980 song by British rock band Queen, which formed in London in 1970. Their classic line-up was Freddie Mercury (lead vocals, piano), Brian May (lead guitar, vocals), Roger Taylor (drums, vocals), and John Deacon (bass guitar). This song, written by bass guitarist John Deacon and was featured on the group’s eighth studio album The Game (1980). It was a worldwide hit, charting number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks, from October 4 to October 18 (their second number-one single in the country). The song spent fifteen weeks in the Billboard top ten (the longest running top ten song of 1980), including thirteen weeks in the top five, and 31 weeks total on the chart (more than any other song in 1980). It reached number two on the Hot Soul Singles chart and the Disco Top 100 chart, and number seven on the UK Singles Chart. The song is credited as Queen’s best-selling single, with sales of over 7 million copies.

Recording sessions – produced by Reinhold Mack at Musicland Studios in Munich (West Germany) – consisted of Deacon playing almost all instruments: bass guitar, piano, electric guitar, and hand-claps. Roger Taylor added a drum loop and Brian May contributed noises with his guitar and an Eventide Harmonizer. The song was a close collaboration between Deacon and Mercury, Peter Hince reflecting that Mercury aided the non-singing bassist by working on the vocal parts. There are no synthesizers in the song: all effects are created by piano, electric guitars and drums, with subsequent tape playback performed in reverse at various speeds. The drum track and the hand claps were looped. They repeat throughout the song. Finally, sound effects were run through the harmonizer for further processing. The effect of the harmonizer can be heard clearly in the “swirling” nature of the sound immediately before the first lyric.

Queen comments on the record:

“I’d been wanting to do a track like ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ for a while, but originally all I had was the line and the bass riff. Gradually, I filled it in and the band added ideas. I could hear it as a song for dancing but had no idea it would become as big as it did. The song got picked up off our album and some of the black radio stations in the US started playing it, which we’ve never had before. Michael Jackson actually suggested we release it as a single. He was a fan of ours and used to come to our shows.” —John Deacon

“A fantastic bit of work from Freddie really. I mean, I remember Deacie having this idea, but Deacie doesn’t sing of course, so he was trying to suggest to Freddie how it should be and Fred just went in there and hammered and hammered until his throat bled, making… you know, he really was inspired bit and took it to a new height, I think. Freddie sung until his throat bled, he was so into it! He wanted to make that song something special.” —Brian May

“I remember laying down the backing track with him and… he really wanted the drums as dry as they could possibly be, so I just stuffed it all with blankets and made it as dead as I possibly could and very low tuned.” —Roger Taylor

“Credit for the song should go to Michael Jackson in many ways. He was a fan and friend of ours and kept telling me, “Freddie, you need a song the cats can dance to.” John introduced this riff to us during rehearsal that we all immediately thought of disco, which was very popular at the time. We worked it out and once it was ready, played it for Michael. I knew we had a hit as he bobbed his head up and down. “That’s it, that’s the gravy. Release it and it will top the charts,” he said. So we did and it did.”—Freddie Mercury

FUN FACT #1: Weird Al Yankovic got his first chart placing with his parody of this song: “Another One Rides The Bus.” It bubbled under on the Hot 100, placing at #104 in 1981. After a few more minor hits, he landed “Eat It” at #12 in 1984.

FUN FACT #2: In the early 1980s, “Another One Bites the Dust” was one of many popular rock songs that Christian evangelists alleged contained subliminal messages through a technique called backmasking. It was claimed that the chorus, when played in reverse, can be heard as “Decide to smoke marijuana”, “It’s fun to smoke marijuana”, or “Start to smoke marijuana”. A spokeswoman for Hollywood Records (Queen’s current US label) has denied that the song contains such a message.

FUN FACT #3: “Another One Bites the Dust” was used in a study to train medical professionals to provide the correct number of chest compressions per minute while performing CPR. The bassline has close to 110 beats per minute, and 100–120 chest compressions per minute are recommended by the British Heart Foundation and endorsed by the Resuscitation Council (UK).

Montego Bay by Bobby Bloom (1970) – “Montego Bay” is a song co-written and performed by Bobby Bloom about the city in Jamaica of the same name. The song was a Top 10 hit for Bloom in the Fall of 1970 on both sides of the Atlantic. It reached #3 on the UK Singles Chart, #5 on the Canadian RPM 100 Singles Chart, #7 on the Australian Go-Set Singles Chart and #8 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Bloom wrote this about the city in Jamaica. Bloom said of the city when introducing the song: “It has a certain peacefulness that really sticks in your mind. It’s the kind of a place that makes you write songs about it.”

The song has an interesting quasi-Jamaican feel as it features a whistler, hand-claps and odd percussion (Jamaican instruments), all used to illustrate the section called “Montego Bay,” in a Calypso genre. It was influenced by the Bubblegum sound, as Barry and Bloom were working in that genré: Bloom wrote “Indian Giver” and Barry wrote “Sugar, Sugar.”

Jeff Barry wrote this with Bloom and produced the track. Barry, whose songwriting hits include “Be My Baby” and “Leader of the Pack,” worked with Bloom on various projects, including a Monkees album.

Bloom did a lot of session work in the ’60s while working on his solo material. This was his only hit, as he died on February 28, 1974, at age 28 after he was accidentally shot.

Bloom’s recording of the song appeared in the film The Ice Storm. Have you seen that movie?

FUN FACT: The full version of this song ends with a few bars of “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from the musical, Oklahoma! In the master tape of the song, Bloom breaks into a chorus of “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'” at the end of the recording, but the single version fades out before that. Apparently, that was done to avoid paying royalties for use of the Rodgers & Hammerstein song, though the full version does appear on the Bobby Bloom Album and has received frequent airplay.

No Matter What by Badfinger (1970) – “No Matter What” is a song originally recorded by Badfinger for their album No Dice in 1970, written and sung by guitarist Pete Ham and produced by Mal Evans.

Many people thought this was The Beatles when they heard it. A Fun Fact and a question: perhaps that’s because Pete Ham did use one of George Harrison’s Gibson guitars on this song?

FUN FACTS:

  • Badfinger was one of the first bands to sign with The Beatles’ label, Apple Records.
  • The group was known as The Iveys, but The Beatles renamed them “Badfinger” after their road manager, Neil Aspinall, came up with the name. He got the idea from John Lennon, who used to talk about his “Bad Finger Boogie.”
  • After Apple Records folded, they signed with Warner Brothers. The group was doing very well when Warner Brothers discovered money missing from their accounts. They pulled their albums and sued the band, effectively ending their career.
  • Despondent over their business problems, Ham hanged himself in 1975. In 1983, Evans also hanged himself.
  • The group played on George Harrison’s first solo album All Things Must Pass.
  • In 2001, The Gap wanted to use this in a commercial. Apple Records, which owns the rights to it, asked for an enormous sum of money and were turned down.

Private Eyes by Hall & Oates (1981) – “Private Eyes” is a 1981 single by Daryl Hall & John Oates and the title track from their album of that year. The song was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for two weeks, from November 7 through November 20, 1981. This single was the band’s third of six number one hits (the first two being “Rich Girl” and “Kiss on My List”), and their second number one hit of the 1980s. It was succeeded in the number one position by Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical,” which was in turn succeeded by another single from Hall and Oates, “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)”.

The song title came from the 1980 movie The Private Eyes, starring Don Knots and Tim Conway as bumbling detectives. Warren Pash, a musician who was trying to make it in Los Angeles, was working on a song called “I Need You To Need Me,” but he didn’t like that title. He was driving on Ventura Boulevard when he saw the movie billboard, turned back home, and wrote the song with a new title and chorus: “Private Eyes.”

Hurts So Good by John Mellencamp (1982) – “Hurts So Good” is a song by American singer-songwriter John Mellencamp, then performing under the stage name “John Cougar.” The song was a number two hit on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the first of three major hit singles from his 1982 album American Fool. The others were “Jack & Diane” and “Hand to Hold On To,” which were all released in 1982. The song was also a critical success with Mellencamp winning the Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male at the 25th Grammy Awards on February 23, 1983. In his acceptance speech he said, “I don’t know what to say, I’m just an idiot.”

On his 2018 Plain Spoken DVD, Mellencamp talked about what inspired this song:

“When I first started playing in rock bands, I didn’t realize how crude and mean other fellas could be. How crude they were with women and how crude women were. That led me to write a song called ‘Hurts So Good’ because I was playing in these bars and I just could not believe the lows people would go to with each other. The thing that surprised me is that it fit my personality perfectly. I fit right in with all that.”

Mellencamp was raised in the small town of Seymour, Indiana, where he played in bands and planned his escape. At 21, he took a trip to New York City to check out art school (he is a talented painter) and drop off some demos. Before the trip was over, he got an offer from a management company willing to push him as a recording artist. He took the offer (it was money coming in, rather than going out), setting him on an awkward path to stardom.

He got a record deal with MCA but clashed with the label, refusing to mingle with tastemakers or participate in any industry pomp. But he did let his manager change his name to “Johnny Cougar,” which he used for his first two albums, the second of which, A Biography (1978), became a surprise hit in Australia thanks to the single “I Need A Lover.” Going to that country and seeing how fans react to a pop star made him determined to create more hits – not for the adulation, but for the creative freedom. If he was on the radio, critics and record companies wouldn’t matter, and he could call the shots.

For his next two albums, he became “John Cougar” and did everything he could to generate hits, with modest success (“Ain’t Even Done with the Night” reached #17 in 1981). But it was “Hurts So Good,” the first single from his fifth album, American Fool, that gave him the breakthrough he was looking for. Two albums later, he started using his real last name and writing songs like “Pink Houses” and “Rain On The Scarecrow” that reflected more of his true self. The hits kept coming until the ’90s, when his music fell out of fashion in favor of hip-hop and grunge. He stayed the course, making music that fed his artistic appetite and performing to smaller but very enthusiastic audiences.

This is a popular song among masochists. It is not truly about S&M, but probably as close as any popular song has gotten.

MTV played a big part in this song’s success. Before the network launched in 1981, few American acts made videos because there was nowhere to show them in the US. But Mellencamp had been making videos since 1978 with director Bruce Gowers because he was promoted in Europe and Australia, where many outlets broadcast them. These were just performance clips, but for “Hurts So Good” they boosted the budget and did a shoot with bikers, playing up the S&M interpretation of the song with shots of ladies wearing leather and chains. It was exactly what MTV was looking for: a swaggering American rock star in a video with motorcycles and girls. They put the video in hot rotation, giving the song a huge boost. It also helped that MTV reached a huge rural audience (Mellencamp’s stronghold) because cable television was very popular in areas outside of broadcast signals.

FUN FACT: Back when he was a rapper known as Marky Mark, Mark Wahlberg wanted to turn this into a rap song, but Mellencamp would not allow it.

FUN FACT: Mellencamp once owned a tattoo parlor. This led to many family members getting tattoos they wouldn’t have otherwise asked for, like the “Hurts So Good” tattoo on his aunt.

If you’re interested in learning more about John Mellencamp, I did an Artist Spotlight on him with a 4M post from July 2017.

Shake It Off by Taylor Swift (2014) – “Shake It Off” is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift from her fifth album, 1989. Written by Swift, Max Martin and Shellback, it is an uptempo dance-pop track considered to be a departure from Swift’s earlier country pop music style.

1989 is Taylor Swift’s first official pop album, and is titled after the year that the singer was born. The record’s pop sensibilities center on the music of that era. “I was listening to a lot of late ’80s pop music and how bold those songs were and how that time period was a time of limitless possibilities,” she said. “In thinking about that, this album is a rebirth for me. This is my very first documented, official pop album. 1989 is the most sonically cohesive album I have ever made and my favorite album I have ever made.”

The first and lead single from 1989, this track finds Taylor Swift dismissing her haters. The song was inspired by how the country-pop princess has learned to deal with all the false rumors that have circulated since her 2012 Red album.

“I’ve had to learn a pretty tough lesson in the past couple years that people can say whatever they want about at any time, and we cannot control that,” said Swift. “The only thing we can control is our reaction to that … You can either let it get to you … [or] you just shake it off.”

Taylor’s 2011 single “Mean” previously found her taking aim at her critics. Taylor explained to Billboard magazine the difference between this song and her 2010 tune about dealing with haters, “Mean.”

“Four years ago I put out a song called ‘Mean’ from the perspective of ‘Why are you picking on me? Why can I never do anything right in your eyes?’ It was coming from a semi-defeated place,” she explained. “Fast-forward a few years and ‘Shake It Off’ is like, ‘You know what? If you’re upset and irritated that I’m just being myself, I’m going to be myself more, and I’m having more fun than you so it doesn’t matter.'”

“Shake It Off” originated from Swift learning to overcome her fear of not being accepted.

“I think it kind of takes not caring what people think about you a step further to kind of locking the fact that people don’t get you,” she explained to BBC Radio 1’s Breakfast Show. “Kind of taking pride in the fact that you know you are and it honestly doesn’t matter if someone else doesn’t want to understand you. We go through these scenarios in so many different phrases of our lives, no matter what it is.”

Taylor said the tune was born from her own challenges.

“I want this song to go out into the world and not be about my critics,” she explained to Fusion‘s Alicia Menendez. “I want it to be about the girl who’s criticizing someone in 11th grade because she thinks that her hair looks stupid. And that girl then goes and cries in the bathroom because of it. These are things that we go through in every phase of our life, starting with your job, and there’s just someone who has it out for you.”

“I had a lot of days where I would come home from school and get in the car, and my mom would try so hard to console me because someone had made fun of me or someone had said something about me or not invited me to something that I was dying to go to,” Taylor continued. “And she would always try to find songs that would bring me out of that. Music always helped distract me from that. So I think my greatest hope is that this started out to be about my life, and I just want it to go out into cars and speakers and earphones and become about their lives.”

Speaking on Alan Carr’s Chatty Man, Taylor said she was inspired to write the song as a way of dealing with some of the gossip she read about herself. One of the strange rumors the singer came across is about where she goes to write. Taylor explained,

“I feel like I don’t have a special song writing lair. I did read an article once though which said that I had a treasure chest of ex-boyfriend’s belongings which I have to go and touch in order to write songs. That was a special day.”

“So I wrote ‘Shake it Off’ so that it’s like a coping mechanism for when people say things like that,” she continued, “Or when I have to Google the person they say I’m dating because I don’t know who it is, or when they say I’ve bought a house in San Diego, and I’m like ‘but have I ever been there though?'”

“And I wanted to write a song that would make people, not feel victimized when they sang it, I didn’t want it to come from a place of ‘Why are you doing this to me? I feel so victimized and sad,'” Taylor added. “I wanted to be like ‘Okay, you’re irritated that I’m being myself. You’re going to talk about me, because I’m being myself, you’re going to make things up about me, because I’m being myself. I’m just going to be myself more.'”

The music video was directed by Mark Romanek (Johnny Cash’s “Hurt,” Michael and Janet Jackson’s “Scream”) and shot in June 2014 over three days in Los Angeles. The clip explores the idea of identifying who someone is by the way they dance as we see Swift jiving in an assortment of styles accompanied by some of the world’s best dance crews. “It has a lot of professional dancers in it and me trying to awkwardly keep up,” she told the BBC. “In one scene I kind of find my own people that I like dancing with, and the people I fit in with, so we picked all these fans from Instagram and Twitter and invited them to a place, they had no idea what was gonna happen.”

Here’s a quick look at the instrumentation on this track:

  • Drums – The foundation of the song, a variety of drum sounds with various degrees of reverb show up on most of the track. Provide the “sick beat” Swift speaks of.
  • Saxophone – That’s a tenor sax playing throughout. Sax was big at the time, also playing a prominent role in “Problem” by Ariana Grande and “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
  • Trumpet – Listen for this in the second and third choruses.
  • Bass – A deft electric bass accentuates the verses and is most prominent in the chorus. A synth bass provides the low drone heard in the chorus.
  • Synthesizer – Adds texture to the chorus.
  • Shaker – To go along with the breakdown when Taylor sings, “Shake, shake, shake.” Clever.
  • Hand Claps – Augment the drums and come to life in the cheerleader section. Adds another organic element to the song to keep it from sounding too electro.

FUN FACT: The phrase “shake it off” shows up 36 times in this song, mostly in the chorus. “Shake” appears 70 times.

FUN FACT: 1989 was the top selling album of 2014 in the US, clocking up sales of 3.66 million. Runner-up, Disney’s Frozen soundtrack was close behind with 3.53 million copies.

FUN FACT: A video of a Dover, Delaware, policeman singing and dancing along to the sing went viral after being uploaded on January 16, 2015. The clip’s popularity was helped by an endorsement from Swift, who said the cop has “sass.”

I fell in love with this video and I would love to meet this cop!

 

Living for the City by Stevie Wonder (1973) – “Living for the City” is a 1973 single by Stevie Wonder from his Innervisions album. It reached number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 1 on the R&B chart.

Stevie Wonder played all the instruments on the song and was assisted by Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff for recording engineering and synthesizer programming. Interestingly, the song’s personnel are listed as: Stevie Wonder – lead vocal, background vocals, Fender Rhodes, drums, Moog bass, T.O.N.T.O. synthesizer, handclaps.

It was one of the first soul music songs to deal explicitly with systemic racism and to use everyday sounds of the street like traffic, voices and sirens which were combined with the music recorded in the studio.

Song synopsis: One of Stevie Wonder’s social commentary songs, “Living for the City” tells of a young kid from Mississippi who moves to New York City. Born into a poor family, this young man experiences discrimination in looking for work and eventually seeks to escape to New York City in hopes of finding a new life. Though he dealt with many hardships, he was surrounded by caring people. Through a series of background noises and spoken dialogue, the man reaches New York by bus, where he is quickly taken advantage of and caught with drugs. He is then promptly framed for a crime, arrested, convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison, his dreams destroyed.

Reflecting on the messages in his songs, Wonder said:

“I think the deepest I really got into how I feel about the way things are was in ‘Living for the City.’ I was able to show the hurt and the anger. You still have that same mother that scrubs the floors for many, she’s still doing it. Now what is that about? And that father who works some days for 14 hours. That’s still happening.”

 

And this wraps up my post of Songs with Finger Snaps and Hand Claps. There are certainly many more songs that feature finger snapping and hand clapping. I have a whole list of songs that I wanted to include but ran out of time. So what are your favorite finger-snapping, hand-clapping songs?

 

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: My Songs about Aging & Getting Old(er) Series – Part 2 of 4: REMINISCING

It’s Monday so it’s time for another Monday’s Music Moves Me. I’m especially excited because I am the honorary co-host for the month of October, which means I got to pick the two themes this month. Today is a Freebie week so we can choose to do our music post about anything. I’m using today’s Freebie to post the second of my four-part series Songs on Aging and Getting Old(er).

Before jumping into that, let me say Thanks to Cathy (Curious as a Cathy) for the warm welcome and thanks to the other full-time co-hosts of the 4M hop! I appreciate that very much. I hope you all like the themes I’ve chosen for my honorary Conductor duty. If you like to work ahead, you might want to put your planning hats on and get ready for my upcoming themes for this month: Next Monday 10/8 the theme will be Songs Featuring Hand-Claps or Finger-Snaps.  The next October theme will be on Monday 10/22: Songs Featuring Unique or Unusual Instruments. Today and the final Monday (10/29) are Freebies…although I’m sure some folks will be using a Halloween theme for that last Monday.

Alright, enough business talk. Let’s get down with some music!

Today’s post is PART 2 of my SONGS ABOUT AGING AND GETTING OLD(er) Series. If you missed last week’s Part 1, entitled Time Passages, you can check it out here.

Part 2 songs focus on:

REMINISCING

Anyone who knows even just a little bit about me knows I love the past! I love MY past… for the most part, that is. My growing up years, my coming of age years, my high school days and college years, my partying days (and nights), my early career years…they are all filled with fun and laughter and really great memories. Some folks like to daydream. I like to reminisce. Sometimes I sure would like to turn the clock and the calendar back. Do you feel that way?

Here are some of my favorite songs about reminiscing:

Yesterday by the Beatles (1965) – “Yesterday” is a song by the Beatles, written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney), and first released on the album Help! in the UK in August 1965. “Yesterday” was released as a single in the United States in September 1965.

McCartney’s vocal and acoustic guitar, together with a string quartet, essentially made for the first solo performance of the band. It remains popular today and is the most covered pop song of all time, with over 3,000 versions recorded according to The Guinness Book Of World Records. For years, it was also the song with the most radio plays, but in 1999 BMI music publishing reported that “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” had passed it. Still, at any given time, some version of “Yesterday” is probably being broadcast somewhere. That’s some pretty cool trivia there!

This is a rather gloomy song about a guy whose girl has left and gone away. Instead of moving on with his life, he dreams of yesterday, when they were still together. McCartney is the only member of the Beatles to appear on the recording.

“Yesterday” was voted the best song of the 20th century in a 1999 BBC Radio 2 poll of music experts and listeners and was also voted the No. 1 pop song of all time by MTV and Rolling Stone magazine the following year. In 1997, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

This was the first Beatles song to capture a mass adult market. Most of their fans were young people to this point, but this song gave the band a great deal of credibility among the older crowd. It also became one of their “Muzak” classics, as companies recorded instrumental versions as soothing background noise for shopping centers and elevators. Another Beatles song that lived on in this form is “Here Comes The Sun.”

Reminiscing by Little River Band (1978) – “Reminiscing” is a 1978 song written by Graeham Goble, and performed by Australian rock music group Little River Band. It remains their greatest success in the United States, peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #10 on the Easy Listening chart. The song is about a couple reminiscing about the past, with certain music (such as Glenn Miller or Cole Porter tunes) reminding them of certain memories.

“Reminiscing” was given a BMI Five Million-Air award for five million plays on US radio—the highest achievement ever for any Australian popular song.

FUN FACT: According to Albert Goldman’s biography, John Lennon named “Reminiscing” as one of his favorite songs. May Pang, erstwhile girlfriend of Lennon, said “Oddly, with all the fantastic music he wrote, “our song” was Reminiscing by the Little River Band.”

Dream On by Aerosmith (1973) – This was the first single Aerosmith released. Their manager had them share a house and concentrate on writing songs for their first album. Steven Tyler had been working on the song on and off for about six years, writing it in bits and pieces. He was able to complete it with the help of the rest of the band.

A breakthrough came when Tyler bought an RMI keyboard with money he found in a suitcase outside of where the band was staying. The “suitcase incident” became part of Aerosmith lore, as Tyler didn’t tell his bandmates that he took the money, and when gangsters came looking for it, he continued to play dumb.

Tyler’s father was a classically trained musician, and when Steven was 3 years old, he would lie underneath the piano and listen to his dad play. In his book, Does The Noise In My Head Bother You? Tyler writes, “That’s where I got that ‘Dream On’ chordage.” (BTW: Tyler played the piano on this song. It provided an interlude at concerts where he could sit behind a piano instead of running around on stage.)

Regarding the meaning of this song, Tyler explained:

“It’s about the hunger to be somebody: Dream until your dreams come true.” He added, “This song sums up the shit you put up with when you’re in a new band. Most of the critics panned our first album, and said we were ripping off the Stones. That’s a good barometer of my anger at the press, which I still have. ‘Dream On’ came of me playing the piano when I was about 17 or 18, and I didn’t know anything about writing a song. It was just this little sonnet that I started playing one day. I never thought that it would end up being a real song.”

FUN FACT: Aerosmith first performed this song at the Shaboo Inn in Willimantic, Connecticut in November 1971. They were paid $175 and a bottle of gin for the show, and as Steven Tyler recounts, he and Joe Perry stayed at the Inn that night. They picked up a couple of girls after the show and all slept in the same bed, resulting in a nasty case of crabs for Steven and Joe. (Haha. When will these rock stars learn: ya can’t trust a groupie!)

Hey Nineteen by Steely Dan (1980) – from the album Gaucho, the song “was about a middle-aged man’s disappointment with a young lover (“Hey Nineteen, that’s ‘Retha Franklin / She don’t remember the Queen of Soul / It’s hard times befallen the Soul Survivors / She thinks I’m crazy but I’m just growing old”).

Cat’s in the Cradle by Harry Chapin (1974) – As most of you know, Cat’s in the Cradle was one of the final contenders in the Ultimate Dog vs Cat Battle of the Bands Tournament put on by me and Mary at Jingle Jangle Jungle. If you missed the tournament, go here and you can experience the whole crazy thing. (btw: the Cats won. Shhh! Don’t tell the Dogs!!)

“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 and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2011.

This heartbreaking song tells of a father and son who can’t schedule time to be with each other, and it serves as a warning against putting one’s career before family. The verses start out with a natural harmony and depict the tale of a father with his newborn son. Although dad gets the necessities of child rearing accomplished, he doesn’t allow himself to put in quality time with his son because of his career. Initially, this seems like no big deal because of his hectic and oblivious life working and paying bills.

The recurring verse has the son saying, “I’m gonna be like you Dad, you know I’m gonna be like you…”

Over time, both father and son grow into a switching of life roles. The father realizes his son’s ambitions of college, grades, and driving, and wants to spend more time with him, yet slowly grasps the reality that now his son has no time for such things. In the last verse, Chapin illustrates that the son is all grown up with a fast-paced job and kids of his own. In a glaring twist of roles, we see that the son now has no time to spend with his father. With a heavy heart, dad realizes that his boy has become just like him.

It’s a very powerful and emotion-evoking song. I can totally understand how it won the Dog v Cat tournament.

7 Years by Lukas Graham (2015) – 7 Years” is a song by Danish soul-pop band Lukas Graham from their second studio album, Lukas Graham. Frontman Lukas Forchhammer described “7 Years” as a song about his life so far and what he hopes to achieve in the future. He said that the reason the lyrics go as far as the age of 60 is because his father died at 61 and he needed to “pass it to believe it.” He continued:

“It’s a song about growing older. I’m also coming to a realization that being a father is the most important thing. My biggest dream is not to be some negative old dude, but to have my kids’ friends say, ‘You’re going to visit your dad? Say hi! He’s awesome.’ I had a perfect father.”

Rock ‘n Roll Never Forgets by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band (1976) – from Seger’s ninth studio album Night Moves (which is also his first album with the Silver Bullet Band). According to Seger, he wrote this song after attending a high school reunion. “I wanted to just write an honest appraisal of where I was at that moment in time,” he said. “I was 31 years old and I was damn glad to be here.” The song, accompanied by a mid-tempo sound and Seger’s signature raspy vocals, is about aging and the ongoing power of rock music. He wanted to write a song for middle-aged people to remember their youth. Seger was concerned that fans his own age were not coming to his concerts. This was meant to remind members of his generation that they could still enjoy rock and roll.

Against the Wind by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band (1980) – The title track from the Against the Wind album, released in April 1980. Glenn Frey and Don Henley of The Eagles sang background vocals on this song.

There are some great lyric lines in this song. In particular, I like these:

It seems like yesterday
But it was long ago…
Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then

Against the wind
We were runnin’ against the wind
We were young and strong, we were runnin’
against the wind

And the years rolled slowly past
And I found myself alone
Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends
I found myself further and further from my home…

Well those drifters days are past me now
I’ve got so much more to think about
Deadlines and commitments
What to leave in, what to leave out

Against the wind
I’m still runnin’ against the wind
Well I’m older now and still
Against the wind

 

In My Life by the Beatles (1965) – “In My Life” is a song by the Beatles released on the 1965 album Rubber Soul, written mainly by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. Later news reports showed that John Lennon wrote the most of ‘In My Life.’ The song originated with John Lennon, but Paul McCartney and Lennon later disagreed over the extent of their respective contribution to that song, specifically the melody. George Martin (aka “the fifth Beatle” due to his extensive involvement in all of the Beatles original albums) contributed the piano solo bridge.

The lyrics evoke Lennon’s youth in Liverpool and reflect his nostalgia for a time before the onset of international fame. McCartney, who claimed to have written much of the melody, recalled that the song’s musical inspiration came from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. In author Johnathan Gould’s description, the song “owed a conscious debt” to the Miracles’ contemporary hit “The Tracks of My Tears” and thereby served as “the most recent installment in the lively cultural exchange between Motown’s Hitsville Studios and EMI’s Abbey Road”.

Still Crazy After All These Years by Paul Simon (1975) – “Still Crazy After All These Years” begins with the singer singing that “I met my old lover on the street last night.” The “old lover” has been variously interpreted to be either Simon’s ex-wife Peggy Harper, from whom he was recently divorced, his former girlfriend from the 1960s Kathy Chitty, or even Simon’s former musical partner Art Garfunkel, who appears on the song that follows ‘Still Crazy After All These Years” on the album. After sharing a few beers, the singer and the old lover part ways again. The singer notes that he is “not the kind of man who tends to socialize” but rather leans “on old familiar ways” and is “still crazy after all these years.” The lyrics acknowledge a nostalgia for the past, but also subtly suggest that once the sweet nostalgia is gone, it is replaced by loneliness and even bitterness.

The Way We Were by Barbra Streisand (1974) – “The Way We Were” is a song recorded by American vocalist Barbra Streisand for her fifteenth studio album, The Way We Were (1974).

Its lyrics detail the melancholic relationship between the two main characters in the 1973 film of the same name. Its appeal was noted by several music critics, who felt its impact helped revive Streisand’s career. It also won two Academy Awards, which were credited to the songwriters of the track. The single was also a commercial success, topping the charts in both Canada and the United States, while peaking in the top 40 in Australia and the United Kingdom. Additionally, “The Way We Were” was 1974’s most successful recording in the United States, where it was placed at number one on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles list.

American composer and producer Marvin Hamlisch and Alan and Marilyn Bergman wrote “The Way We Were” while Marty Paich handled its production. In particular, the lyrics detail the personal life of Katie Morosky, the character she portrays in the film. Specifically, her troubling relationship with Robert Redford’s Hubbell Gardiner is explained, “Memories light the corners of my mind / Misty watercolor memories of the way we were” and “Memories may be beautiful and yet”. Streisand sings, “What’s too painful to remember / We quickly choose to forget”, where she longs for nostalgia, which Rolling Stone’s Stephen Holden described as an implication that “resonate[s] in the current social malaise”. In the beginning of what seems to be a bridge, she whispers, “If we had the chance to do it all again / Tell me would we? Could we?”

The mass appeal of the single was labeled by Turner Classic Movies’s Andrea Passafiume as “one of the most recognizable songs in the world.” And the movie is fabulous! If you find yourself in the middle of a rainy Sunday and just want to hang out on the couch or in the recliner but can’t find anything on TV, rent or stream the academy award-winning film The Way We Were. You won’t be sorry.

Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ol’ Days) by The Judds (1986) – I was just introduced to this song recently when the 4M theme was on Grandparents. Written by Jamie O’Hara and recorded by American country music duo The Judds, this song was released in January 1986 as the second single from the album Rockin’ with the Rhythm. It became The Judds’ sixth No. 1 song on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.

Per Wikipedia: “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days” is a song about the decline and abandonment of traditional values, the hectic lifestyle of the day and how progressivism isn’t positive (“They call it progress/But I just don’t know”). The main refrain of the song reflects on the narrator as they expresses mournful doubt and discontent that past occurrences of traditional values really happened (did _____ really??), instead of what the singer has experienced during his/her lifetime; and the narrator wishes he/she could experience those past times now instead of experiencing the traditional values having been abandoned for their negative opposites, such as marriages staying intact for a lifetime, instead of broken marriage vows and broken marriage covenants and rampant infidelity–fathers maintaining their responsibilities to help raise children, instead of fatherless dysfunctional families with disobedient and disrespectful children that comes from it–families going to church and having Humility, instead of worshiping the bling of the world– promises being kept, instead of a lack of Personal Integrity–and how right and wrong were clearly defined and obeyed, instead of being ignored in order to make other people feel better about themselves.

Back When by Tim McGraw (2004) – Kickin’ it up a notch with another Country hit, “Back When” is a song written by Stan Lynch, Stephony Smith, and Jeff Stevens and recorded by American country music singer Tim McGraw. It was released in August 2004 as the second single from McGraw’s 2004 album Live Like You Were Dying. Kevin John Coyne, reviewing the song for Country Universe, gave it a positive rating. He stated that “Back When” is the only up-tempo song on the album that matches his ballads in quality. He also added that McGraw’s “vocal performance is just over-twanged enough to suggest he’s making fun of the sentimentality that he’s celebrating.”

The song was inspired by an incident when Smith went into the kitchen to make breakfast and saw a snake on the floor. The snake crawled into a tight space between the dishwasher and cabinets and she called Jeff Stevens and Stan Lynch to come and help her figure out how to get it out.

“We couldn’t find it,” she recalled to The Boot. “We go to the office, and we’re sitting there, and Jeff is real country, and he kinda started making fun of me for being a sissy about it. He said, “Back when ‘a hoe’ was a hoe, my mama woulda just chopped his head off.” And he kept right on talking. I was gasping, like, “That’s what we have to write today … you know, ‘Back when ‘a hoe’ was a hoe and ‘a coke’ was a Coke.'” They were like, ‘Oh, yeah, here we go.'”  This is a great song.

A Different World by Bucky Covington (2007) – “A Different World” is the title of a debut song recorded by American country music artist Bucky Covington. It was released in January 2007 as the lead single from his album Bucky Covington. It peaked at number 6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

The song is a reminiscence of the narrator’s formative years, its lyrics describing how much the world has changed since his childhood. Covington sings during the chorus that it was “not just a different time, it was a different world.”

A music video was released in February 2007, and was directed by Trey Fanjoy. It begins with Covington as a child (J.D. Ironfield), sitting in front of an old television. On the T.V. is the adult version of Covington, who is on the patio of a house. Throughout the video, the young Covington watches his older counterpart on the TV as the adult version of him walks around a small town, supposedly like the town he grew up in. Certain children in the town are shown leading a simpler life than most do today, as the song’s lyrics describe. The video ends with the adult Covington entering the house where the young version of him is watching. It then shows him as an adult shutting off a modern-day television. I’ve included the music video in my playlist so be sure to check it out.

Photograph by Nickelback (2005) – “Photograph” is a song recorded by Canadian rock band Nickelback. It was released in September 2005 as the first single from their fifth studio album, All the Right Reasons.

The song is about reviewing the memories – missed and forgotten – from the band’s childhood in Hanna, Alberta (Canada). The lyrics are a chronicle of real events and personal landmarks lead singer Chad Kroeger recalled as he wrote it.

Speaking with CBC, he explained:

“It’s just nostalgia, growing up in a small town, and you can’t go back to your childhood. Saying goodbye to friends that you’ve drifted away from, where you grew up, where you went to school, who you hung out with and the dumb stuff you used to do as a kid, the first love – all of those things. Everyone has one or two of those memories that they are fond of, so this song is really just the bridge for all that.”

The music video was directed by Nigel Dick, who directed the first Britney Spears video, “Baby One More Time.” It was shot in the band’s hometown of Hanna, as the band revisits their old stomping grounds.

The photograph that Kroeger is holding in the video is the one that inspired the song: It’s a shot of him and their producer, Joey Moi, at a New Year’s Eve party. As for what’s on Joey’s head, that’s a chiller for champagne, as they were enjoying some adult beverages that evening.

Chad Kroeger sings of breaking into his high school. Asked by NME how many times he did so, he replied: “Well, I say I did it half a dozen times, but I was charged with 11 counts of breaking and entering… it didn’t rhyme though. ‘I must have done it, pause, 11 times’ doesn’t quite fit as well as half a dozen.” Lol. You can see the video in my playlist.

I Wanna Go Back by Eddie Money (1986) – “I Wanna Go Back” is a 1984 song by American rock band Billy Satellite, written by band members Monty Byrom, Danny Chauncey, and Ira Walker, that achieved major popularity when recorded by Eddie Money in 1986. Another version was recorded by former Santana/Journey keyboardist/singer Gregg Rolie for his self-titled 1985 debut solo album.

American rock singer Eddie Money covered the song on his 1986 album Can’t Hold Back, and it was released as the follow-up single to the top-ten hit “Take Me Home Tonight”. It reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number three on the Album Rock Tracks chart in early 1987. Money’s version, which AllMusic‘s Mike DeGagne says has “sincere, semi-ballad charm,” still relies heavily on synthesizers but includes more guitar and adds saxophone in the intro, bridge, and outro, with backing vocals by Marilyn Martin. The music video to his version features Money revisiting a high school interspersed with him and his band playing before a concert audience.

I want to go back
And do it all over again
But I can’t go back I know
I want to go back
Cause I’m feeling so much older
But I can’t go back I know

My sentiments exactly!

Well that wraps up Part 2 of my Songs on Aging and Getting Old(er) series. I hope you’ve enjoyed some of my favorite songs about reminiscing. Which songs here did you like? What are your favorite reminiscing songs?

Be sure to come back for Part 3 on Monday, October 15th.

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 – WELCOME TO MY BAR (Songs with Beverages in the Titles)

We are wrapping up August with a fun Monday’s Music Moves Me theme from this month’s Spotlight Conductor, Mary of Jingle Jangle Jungle. She’s challenged us to feature songs with beverages in the titles. Well, you know me, Bar Queen Extraordinaire. Although it was a while ago, my bar, the Pond Springs Saloon, was a cool beer & wine joint nestled in a northwest Austin neighborhood, complete with a few pool tables, three dart boards and a kickass jukebox, and was home to a bunch of Austin-area locals who liked to hang out in a laid-back establishment. A lot of folks would come in for our famous “fish-bowls,” huge frozen schooners iced in the freezer and filled to the brim with ice cold draft beer.

It was fun to fulfill a long-time dream of creating a neighborhood bar reminiscent of the Town of Niagara/Western New York and Pennsylvania bars and beer joints that I hung out in growing up, first when in tow with my parents who liked to stop and have a few beers with family and friends every now and again, and then when I was sowing my own wild oats in my late teens and early 20s. Although my place was in Texas, it definitely had that “Buffalo-feel”, not only in attitude but in decor too, as evidenced by the Buffalo Bills memorabilia that served not only to showcase my Buffalo pride but also to taunt the resident Dallas Cowboys fans.

Folks came in to hang with friends, to laugh and tell jokes, to share life’s trials and tribulations, to bitch and complain, to spout life philosophies, to boast and embellish life stories, to blow off a little steam, to flirt and try to hook up, to cry in their beers, to drink and sometimes often get drunk and act a fool…All that and other things that people like to do in their favorite home-away-from-home drinking establishment. They sought — and found — a place where everyone knew their names. [We even had our own resident “Norm” (a Cheers reference].

So in that spirit, I’ve opened a virtual bar here at Angels Bark. Here you’ll find a menu of great music categorized and tailored to your beverage of choice. Don’t forget your dollars for the jukebox! Let’s start with an introduction to the overall atmosphere where all kinds are welcome (well, almost all kinds. I’m keeping with the strict policy I had at my old bar: Sorry, no assholes allowed)…

WELCOME TO TRUHLIK’S TAVERN

This first playlist is just to get you in the mood, with some general drinking music, to be followed by a beverage-specific menu. Pull up a stool and hang out for a bit…

Roadhouse Blues by The Doors

Have a Drink on Me by AC/DC

One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer by George      Thorogood

I Drink Alone by George Thorogood

Drunk Americans by Toby Keith

Alcohol by Barenaked Ladies

Cheers theme song

 

Our bartenders are super friendly and aim to please.

WHAT CAN I GET FOR YA?   PICK YOUR POISON

BEER

Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers by ZZ Top

Beer for My Horses by Toby Keith & featuring Willie Nelson

Hold My Beer by Trace Adkins

I Like Girls That Drink Beer by Toby Keith

Hot Beer & Cold Women by Randy Houser

Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer by Billy Currington

A Dozen Roses & a Six-Pack by Cole Swindell

There’s a Tear in My Beer by Hank Williams and Hank Williams Jr.

 

WINE

Elderberry Wine by Elton John

White Lightning and Wine by Heart

Spill the Wine by Eric Burton and War

Red Wine (Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti) by Woody Guthrie

Red Red Wine by Neil Diamond

Red Red Wine by UB40

Old Red Wine by The Who

Sweet Cherry Wine by Tommy James & the Shondells

God of Wine by Third Eye Blind

Pass the Wine by The Rolling Stones

The Night the Band Got the Wine by Al Stewart

Water with the Wine by Joan Armatrading

Wine into Water by T. Graham Brown

Wine After Whiskey by Carrie Underwood

 

TEQUILA

Tequila Sunrise by the Eagles

Tequila Eyes by Randy Rogers Band

Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off by Joe Nichols

Mas Tequila by Sammy Hagar

Mexico, Tequila and Me by Alan Jackson

You and Tequila by Kenny Chesney

Tequila Loves Me by Kenny Chesney

Tattoos & Tequila by Vince Neil

When the Tequila Runs Out by Dawes

My Favorite Wine is Tequila by Michael Franti & Spearhead

 

WHISKEY

Whiskey Rock-a-Roller by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Poison Whiskey by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Whiskey Drinkin’ Woman by Nazareth

Whiskey River by Willie Nelson (side note: last week I had a Basenji, one of my dog boarders, named ‘Whiskey River’. He was named after this Willie Nelson song and he was a real pistol!)

Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar) by The Doors

Ain’t Enough Whiskey by Kid Rock

Lace and Whiskey by Alice Cooper

Whiskey and Lace by Krystal Keith

Jack Daniels and Jesus by Chase Rice

Not Enough Whiskey by Keifer Sutherland

Weed, Whiskey and Willie by Brothers Osborne

What Whiskey Does by Randy Houser

Whiskey Girl by Toby Keith

Whiskey in My Water by Tyler Farr

Whiskey in the Jar by Thin Lizzy

White Lightning by Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts

Whiskey by Maroon 5 featuring A$AP Rocky

Sunshine and Whiskey by Frankie Ballard

Moonshine by Bruno Mars

Wine After Whiskey by Carrie Underwood

Whiskey Rock-a-Roller LIVE by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Poison Whiskey LIVE by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Whiskey River by Willie Nelson LIVE in Austin Texas on 9/13/1984

 

GIN

Cocaine & Gin by Kid Rock

Cold Gin by Kiss

Of All the Gin Joints in the World by Fall Out Boy

Gin & Juice by Snoop Dog

Gin, Smoke, Lie by Turnpike Troubadours

Gin Soaked Boy by Tom Waits

Gin Bottle Blues by Lightnin Hopkins

Gin Guzzlin’ Frenzy by Mojo Nixon

Gin and Money by Marcy Playground

Misery and Gin by Merle Haggard – Live from Austin Texas 1985

 

RUM

Rum is the Reason by Toby Keith

Rum and Coca-Cola by The Andrew Sisters

A Rum Tale by Procol Harum

Rum by Brothers Osborne

Blame It On the Rum by Sunny Jim

Rum Jumbies by Sunny Jim

Haze of the Rum by Jesse Rice featuring Florida Georgia Line

Rum and Somethin’ by Donny Brewer

Rum Day by Cory Young

Rum Phonics by Gene Mitchell

Rummin’ and Chummin’ by John Friday

 

CHAMPAGNE

Champagne & Reefer by Muddy Waters

Champagne High by Sister Hazel

Champagne Kisses by Jessie Ware

Champagne Supernova by Oasis

Pink Champagne by Caitlin Rose

Champagne Life by Ne-Yo

 

SPECIALTY DRINKS

Strange Brew by Cream

(Escape) The Pina Colada Song by Rupert Holmes

Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet

One Mint Julep by Ray Charles

 

And for those Designated Drivers, be sure to head to the Coffee Bar:

COFFEE BAR & OTHER NON-ALCOHOLIC DRINKS

Black Coffee in Bed by Squeeze

Coffee Blues by Mississippi John Hurt

One More Cup of Coffee by Bob Dylan

Tea for One by Led Zeppelin

Poprocks and Coke by Green Day

RC Cola and a Moon Pie by NRBQ

Orange Crush by R.E.M.

Apple Cider Reconstitution by Al Stewart

No Milk Today by Herman’s Hermits

Milk It by Nirvana

Milk and Alcohol by Dr. Feelgood

 

Well, it’s Last Call. And as I liked to say back in the day:

“Drink ’em up!

You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here!”

 

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 – In Honor of the Queen of Soul: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin

credit Monica Ahanonu (InStyle)

Aretha Franklin, the world’s Queen of Soul, died on Thursday. She was 76. 

 

She has left behind an extraordinary legacy of music that moves, in oh so many ways, and songs that instill confidence and unleash untapped power…but more than that, she left us with anthems of great import, her most widely recognized being RESPECT.

Originally a song by Otis Redding, “Respect” was written and recorded by him in 1965, which interestingly ended up being a significant one for him as well. (It was his second Top 40 hit, following “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now),” and it helped establish Redding on mainstream radio. Otis performed the song at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and this was a defining performance for the singer, who died in a plane crash six months later).

But Aretha came along and re-imagined the song. With a re-working of the lyrics, a musical rearrangement (via the Muscle Shoals studio musician’s soulful guitar hook, the background vocals and the added sax solo) and a completely different slant on the messaging, “Respect” was suddenly recognized the world over. Aretha’s rendition found greater success than the original, spending two weeks atop the Billboard Pop Singles chart, and eight weeks on the Billboard Black Singles chart. The changes in lyrics and production drove Franklin’s version to become an anthem for the increasingly large Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements. She altered the lyrics to represent herself, a strong woman demanding respect from her man. Franklin’s demands for “Respect” were “associated either with black freedom struggles or women’s liberation.”

The song also became a hit internationally, reaching #10 in the UK and helping to transform Aretha Franklin from a domestic star into an international one.

FUN FACTOtis Redding himself was impressed with the performance of the song. At the Monterey Pop Festival in the summer of the cover’s release, he was quoted playfully describing “Respect” as the song “that a girl took away from me, a friend of mine, this girl she just took this song”. “When her hit single ‘Respect’ climbed the charts in July 1967, some fans declared that the summer of 1967 was ‘the summer of ‘Retha, Rap, and Revolt.'”  Adorable!

I am partial to many of Aretha’s songs but “Respect” hits some real nostalgia notes in me. Not only is this amazing song a landmark anthem, it’s a ton of fun!

The song came out at the apex of a social and political climate on the verge of a major shift. “Respect” hit at a time when millions of people were feeling marginalized in an era where inequality and social injustice was the norm. This song became a theme song in the civil rights movement and a feminist anthem that encouraged women to not only recognize their worth but to insist that others acknowledge and respect it. It was then, and is now still, a song of empowerment.

In addition to all that (and so much more), it’s just a damn good song! It was an anthem of sorts for me too, and it was featured prominently on the jukebox of my bar. When I opened my bar, music was a priority in the planning. When I ordered the jukebox, I asked the company rep about the music. I was told that the company uses demographics and research on what songs perform best in terms of frequency of play and that they load the music based on those metrics.  And I said, “Ah, nah, I don’t like that. That’s not going to work. I want to pick and choose the music that’s going to be on my bar’s jukebox.” And so I did.

As you can imagine, that jukebox had some incredibly kickass music on it. And my bar developed a reputation for it even. I always got a charge when new folks would walk in and say “We heard this place has the best jukebox in town!” Oh yeah, proud mama.

Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” was one of the first songs I chose to be on the jukebox. It often was the ‘Last Call’ anthem. At the end of the night, I’d cue up the song and call “Last Call for alcohol!” and, with the speaker control behind the bar, I’d crank that baby up and “Respect” would vibrate and dominate. It would be so loud that it was virtually impossible to hold a conversation for those few minutes; the customers just had to get up and dance. It was a highlight on so many nights and it always amazed me how that song could completely change the mood and the dynamic of the place. Everybody would be singing and dancing and laughing because that song just moves people. It evokes an ultimate feel-good and you just can’t help but smile when it plays. Every time I hear it now, my mind wanders to my old “bar days”. Some great and interesting memories for sure.

Long Live Aretha!

I’m not going to do a big write-up on Aretha because the world is inundated with articles and stories and tributes to our Queen of Soul. There are several wonderful pieces online and I’ll share links of some that I particularly enjoyed.

I will leave you with some music though. The following is my Plug and Play Aretha Playlist for your listening pleasure. It kicks off with my top 5 favorite Aretha songs. Enjoy!

Playlist Songs, in order:

  • Respect – 1967
  • (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman – 1967 (co-written by Carole King, Gerry Goffin and Atlantic Records’ Jerry Wexler); the video in the playlist is Aretha’s 2015 performance at the Kennedy Center Honors in tribute to the song’s co-writer Carole King who was receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Think1968
  • Freeway of Love – 1985 (This is one of my favorite Aretha Franklin songs because it reminds me of my dear sweet Aunt Judy, who so loved this song! God rest her soul. I miss my Aunt Judy so much!)
  • Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves – 1985 (another of my favorites, this was a collaborative hit with Aretha and the Eurythmics)
  • I Say a Little Prayer – 1968 (written by Burt Bacharach & Hal David for Dionne Warwick in 1967; Aretha covered it in 1968)
  • (Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone – 1968
  • I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Loved You) – 1967
  • Do Right Woman, Do Right Man – 1967
  • A Change is Gonna Come – 1967 (Aretha’s cover of Sam Cooke’s 1964 song)
  • Spirit in the Dark – 1970
  • The Thrill is Gone – 1970 (original by blue musician Roy Hawkins in 1951 and then B.B. King in 1970; this song was the B-side to “Spirit in the Dark”)
  • Rock Steady – 1971
  • Chain of Fools – 1967
  • Dr. Feelgood – 1967
  • See-Saw – 1968 (Aretha’s cover of Don Covay’s 1965 song)
  • Don’t Play that Song (You Lied) – 1970 (performed with the Dixie Flyers, this song is a cover of Ben E. King’s 1962 song)
  • You’re All I Need to Get By – 1971 (Aretha Franklin’s cover of the 1968 duet by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell)
  • Angel – 1973 (a soul ballad co-written by Aretha’s sister Carolyn & Sonny Saunders)
  • The Weight – 1972 (This song features Aretha Franklin on Duane Allman’s “An Anthology” album)
  • Spanish Harlem – 1971 (Aretha Franklin released a cover version of Ben E. King’s 1960 song in the middle of 1971 that outperformed the original on the charts, charting #1 R&B for three weeks and #2 Pop for two weeks. Aretha’s version earned a gold single for sales of over one million. Dr. John played keyboards on Franklin’s version with Bernard “Pretty” Purdie on drums and Chuck Rainey on bass. This version hit #6 on Billboard’s Easy Listening chart. Franklin also changed the lyrics slightly, from “A red rose up in Spanish Harlem” to “There’s a rose in Black ‘n Spanish Harlem. A rose in Black ‘n Spanish Harlem.”
  • Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do) – 1973
  • Day Dreaming – 1972
  • I’m in Love – 1974 – (“I’m in Love” is a song written by Bobby Womack in the 1960s in response to some of the criticism he had been receiving after marrying the widow of the recently deceased Sam Cooke. The song was given to Wilson Pickett and his version became a top-ten R&B hit on Billboard’s chart in 1968, peaking at #4 as well as peaking at #45 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, the version to achieve the most success came in 1974, when Aretha Franklin released it as a single. Her version topped Billboard’s R&B chart for two weeks and also peaked at number nineteen on the Billboard Hot 100.)
  • Who’s Zoomin’ Who – 1985
  • A Deeper Love – 1994
  • Honey – 1994 (written by Babyface)
  • Willing to Forgive – 1994
  • A Rose is Still a Rose – 1998

REST IN ETERNAL PEACE ARETHA!

“Rest in eternal peace” was the sentiment expressed by Barack Obama in his social media tribute to Aretha. He had a close affinity with her and her music moved him to tears (as evidenced in the video of Aretha’s performance for Carole King in December 2015 when she was receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Kennedy Center Honors). Aretha also performed at President Obama’s 2009 Inauguration.

Here is his Instagram post:

View this post on Instagram

America has no royalty. But we do have a chance to earn something more enduring. Born in Memphis and raised in Detroit, Aretha Franklin grew up performing gospel songs in her father’s congregation. For more than six decades since, every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine. Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance. Aretha may have passed on to a better place, but the gift of her music remains to inspire us all. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace. Michelle and I send our prayers and warmest sympathies to her family and all those moved by her song.

A post shared by Barack Obama (@barackobama) on

 

I included that Instagram post because I found this very comical mashup video on YouTube of Obama singing “Respect”. I just had to… 

 

The Beautiful Aretha Franklin

 

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I found it interesting to see how the print media is honoring this Soul Dynamo. In particular, I may order a copy of the 8-page commemorative section, “Eternal Respect”, from the Detroit Free Press, Aretha’s hometown paper. The following is taken from Ad Age magazine:

HOW NEWSPAPERS AROUND THE WORLD ARE REMEMBERING ARETHA FRANKLIN

By Published on .

Aretha Franklin, who died on Thursday, “was the loftiest name in the rich history of Detroit music and one of the transcendent cultural figures of the 20th Century,” Brian McCollum writes in the Detroit Free Press. “Raised on an eclectic musical diet of gospel, R&B, classical and jazz, she blossomed out of her father’s Detroit church to become the most distinguished black female artist of all time, breaking boundaries while placing nearly 100 hits on Billboard’s R&B chart—20 of them reaching No. 1.”

The news of Franklin’s passing continues to reverberate across the world today, and many papers, including the Free Press, pay tribute to the soul legend on their front pages this morning. A small sampling:

Credit: Detroit Free Press
Credit: The New York Times
Credit: New York Post
Credit: New York Daily News
Credit: National Post
Credit: The Washington Post
Credit: The Guardian
Credit: USA Today
Credit: The Wall Street Journal
Credit: Libération

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: