Monday’s Music Moves Me – HALLOWEEN SONGS!

It’s a special holiday edition of Monday’s Music Moves Me this week with our theme being HALLOWEEN. I got into Halloween as a kid and have fond memories of Trick or Treating on cold Western New York evenings (and once I even remember trick or treating in the snow!). But I’ve never really been into Halloween as an adult, especially since my friend Kathie and I were accosted by three men in masks one Halloween night as we were bar-hopping in downtown Niagara Falls. It’s a long story and it wasn’t fun. Since then, I hate people wearing masks. It weirds me out. I don’t like it.

BUT there are some really awesome Halloween songs! I’ve put together a playlist with my favorite Halloween-y songs, with some background information for your enjoyment.

My Halloween Playlist

 

Season of the Witch by Donovan – “Season of the Witch” is one of the first songs to fit the “psychedelic” genre. It was written by Donovan and Shawn Phillips and released in September 1966 on Donovan’s Epic Records (USA) album Sunshine Superman. (Donovan recorded it in May 1966, shortly before his highly publicized arrest for possession of marijuana). Donovan is the Scottish-born singer/songwriter and guitarist most known for his hits “Sunshine Superman”, “Mellow Yellow” and “Hurdy Gurdy Man.”

Although originally written and recorded by Donovan, a version by The Pandamonium was released in the United Kingdom as a single in November 1966 while Donovan’s version was finally released in June 1967 on the Pye Records compilation Sunshine Superman. (The song was never released as a single but it became a very popular song with fans, enough so that Donovan himself played it live more than most of his other hits.)

Fun Fact: The recording features Bobby Ray on bass and “Fast” Eddie Hoh on drums. The hauntingly eerie guitar is provided by Jimmy Page, then a noted session guitarist working in England.

The song was covered by many artists but one that I’m very fond of is by this next band:

Season of the Witch by Vanilla Fudge – Vanilla Fudge is an American rock band known predominantly for their extended rock arrangements of contemporary hit songs (most notably “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”). The band has been cited as “one of the few American links between psychedelia and what soon became heavy metal.” Vanilla Fudge also is known to have influenced other major bands such as The Nice, Deep Purple, Yes, Styx, and Led Zeppelin.

The band’s original lineup—vocalist and organist Mark Stein, bassist and vocalist Tim Bogert, lead guitarist/vocalist Vince Martell, and drummer and vocalist Carmine Appice—recorded five albums during the years 1967–69, before disbanding in 1970. (The band is currently touring with three of the four original members, Mark Stein, Vince Martell, and Carmine Appice with Pete Bremy on bass as Bogert retired in 2009).

Their cover version of “Season of the Witch” was on Vanilla Fudge’s third album Renaissance, released in June of 1968. The band also interpolated lyrics from an Essra Mohawk song, “We Never Learn” into their rendition of “Season of the Witch”. It’s the longest song on the album at 8:40 (8 minutes and 40 seconds).

Witchy Woman by the Eagles – “Witchy Woman” is a song written by Don Henley and Bernie Leadon, and recorded by the American rock band Eagles. Released as the second single from the band’s debut album Eagles, it reached No. 9 on the Billboard Pop singles chart and is the only single from the album to feature Henley on lead vocals.

Background of the song: The guitarist Bernie Leadon first started writing “Witchy Woman” while he was a member of the Flying Burrito Brothers. After joining the Eagles, Leadon and Don Henley then finished the song together, and it would be the only song on the Eagles’ debut album where Henley had a writing credit. The song was conceived while Don Henley was living in an old house near the Hollywood Bowl, with his flat mate, Henry Vine (aka ‘Blitz’). Henley said of the origin of the song: “[Leadon] came over one day and started playing this strange, minor-key riff that sounded sort of like a Hollywood movie version of Indian music — you know, the kind of stuff they play when the Indians ride up on the ridge while the wagon train passes below. It had a haunting quality, and I thought it was interesting, so we put a rough version of it down on a cassette tape.” Henley also gave the song an R&B pulse in its music.

The inspiration for the title and lyrics about a seductive enchantress came from a number of women, although Henley had one particular woman in mind – Zelda Fitzgerald whose biography he was reading while writing the song. According to Henley, he was suffering from flu with a very high fever and become semi-delirious, and every time the fever subsided, he would continue to read a book on the life of Zelda Fitzgerald, and the character in the song would be a mix of Zelda Fitzgerald “along with amorphous images of girls [he] had met at the Whisky and the Troubadour”. Zelda, the muse behind her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald, was known as a wild, bewitching and mesmerizing “Flapper” of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties, and is sometimes thought to be the model for the character of Daisy Buchanan in his novel, The Great Gatsby. In “Witchy Woman”, the line “She drove herself to madness with the silver spoon” may be a reference to Zelda’s time in a mental institution and the special slotted silver spoon used to dissolve sugar cubes with absinthe, the popular 1920s alcoholic beverage distilled from the wormwood tree and called “the green fairy” for sometimes inducing hallucinations.

According to Henley, other influences for the song include books by Carlos Castaneda on shamanism, and a girl he knew who was interested in the occult. Henley said of the song: “An important song for me, because it marked the beginning of my professional songwriting career.” 

Spooky by the Classics IV – “Spooky” was originally an instrumental song performed by saxophonist Mike Sharpe (Shapiro), written by Shapiro and Harry Middlebrooks, Jr., which first charted in 1967 hitting #57 on the US pop charts. Its best-known version was created by James Cobb and producer Buddy Buie for the group Classics IV when they added lyrics about a “spooky little girl”. In 1968, the vocal version of the song reached #3 in the U.S. (Billboard Hot 100) and #46 in the UK.

This was one of the first songs to get a lot of airplay on the Album Oriented Rock (AOR) format. FM was relatively new, and AOR was a great format for people who wanted to hear songs on rock albums that weren’t necessarily hits.

The Classics IV is a band formed in Jacksonville, Florida, United States, in 1965. The band is often credited for establishing the “soft southern rock” sound. The band, led by singer Dennis Yost, is known mainly for the hits “Spooky”, “Stormy” and “Traces”, released 1967 to 1969, which have become cover standards.

The song was also a hit when covered by the Atlanta Rhythm Section. The Classics IV member Cobb and bandmate Dean Daughtry later became part of the Atlanta Rhythm Section and they re-recorded “Spooky” in 1979, also produced by Buie. It was the second of two singles released from their Underdog LP. Atlanta Rhythm Section’s version hit #17 in the US on Billboard and #15 on Cash Box. It also charted minorly internationally. I’ve also included their version in my playlist.

Monster Mash by Bobby Pickett (and the Cryptkickers) – “Monster Mash” is a 1962 novelty song and the best-known song by Bobby “Boris” Pickett. The song was released as a single on Gary S. Paxton’s Garpax Records label in August 1962. Paxton distributed it to radio stations around southern California. Response was overwhelming, as the stations saw their phone banks lighting up with requests for the song. A deal was struck with London Records, who distributed the song worldwide.

The “Monster Mash” single was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on October 20–27 of that year, just before Halloween. It has been a perennial holiday favorite ever since.

When a novelty song becomes a surprise hit, a hastily produced album typically follows. In this case, the album was called The Original Monster Mash and included several other monster-themed songs like “Blood Bank Blues,” “Graveyard Shift,” “Transylvania Twist,” “Me And My Mummy” and “Irresistible Igor.”

Pickett was a nightclub entertainer who performed with a group called The Cordials. He wrote “Monster Mash” with his friend Lenny Capizzi. They were both big horror movie fans, and Pickett would do an impression of the actor Boris Karloff (known for playing the monster in many Frankenstein movies) during the speaking part of “Little Darlin'” that went over well in his act. As Capizzi played the piano, he and Pickett put together this song with his Karloff impression in mind. They came up with the plot about Frankenstein’s monster starting a dance craze.

The lyrics are based on the story of Frankenstein, which started as an 1818 novel by Mary Shelley and evolved into various film adaptations. In the story, Dr. Frankenstein creates a creature who comes to life, but what he created is a monster. The book is sober tale of regret and unexpected consequences, but the story is often played for comedy. In this song, the monster throws a big dance party, which is enthusiastically attended by many other creatures of lore (Dracula, Wolfman).

Pickett is imitating Boris Karloff, but is narrating the story as Dr. Frankenstein, not the monster that Karloff famously portrayed. Here he is performing the song on American Bandstand on October 13, 1964, with a comical introduction by a young Dick Clark. I just love his facial expressions!

Pickett and Lenny Capizzi wrote this song in about two hours. They recorded a demo to tape and brought it to Gary Paxton, lead singer of The Hollywood Argyles (“Alley Oop”). They recorded the song with Paxton and studio musicians Leon Russell, Johnny McCrae and Rickie Page, who were credited as “The Cryptkickers.” Paxton, who is credited as the song’s producer, also added the sound effects.

This being 1962, many of the sound effects had to be created in the studio. The sound effects on the song were done as follows:

The coffin being opened was made by pulling a rusty nail out of a lump of wood with the claw of a hammer.

The bubbling sounds came from blowing through a straw in a glass of water.

The sound of the chains was made by dropping chains onto plywood planks on the record studio floor.

This is arguably the most successful novelty song of all time. Bobby Pickett accomplished the rare feat of reaching the top 100 music chart three times with the same song. On October 20, 1962, the original release hit #1 in the US. The song re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 on August 29, 1970 peaking at #91, and then again on May 5, 1972 when it went all the way to #10. The song has sold over four million copies and continues to be a Halloween favorite.

Frankenstein by Edgar Winter Group – “Frankenstein” is an instrumental by The Edgar Winter Group from their album They Only Come Out at Night.

The song topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for one week in May 1973, being replaced by Paul McCartney’s “My Love”. It sold over one million copies. In Canada it fared equally well, reaching #1 on the RPM 100 Top Singles Chart the following month, the same month that saw it peak at #18 in the UK.

This is one of the most famous instrumental rock songs. In fact, Rolling Stone lists “Frankenstein” as one of the top 25 best rock instrumentals. The single sold over 1 million copies and became a classic rock staple.

It got its title because of the intense editing that went into the song; it became a monster when it was pieced together in the studio. Said Winter: “When we were editing it in the studio, back in those days when you edited something, you physically had to cut the tape and splice it back together, so it was all over the control room, draped over the backs of chairs and the couch. We were making fun of it, trying to figure out how to put it back together, saying ‘Here’s the main body; the leg bone’s connected to the thigh bone… ‘ Then Chuck Ruff, my drummer, says, ‘Wow, man, it’s like Frankenstein.’ As soon as I heard that, I went, ‘Wow, that’s it!’ The monster was born.” Winter frequently refers to the appropriateness of the name also in relation to its “monster-like, lumbering beat.”

Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s Monster

Winter played many of the instruments on the track, including keyboards, saxophone and timbales. Rick Derringer produced this and played guitar on the track along with Ronnie Montrose. As the release’s only instrumental cut, the song was not initially intended to be on the album, and was only included on a whim as a last-minute addition. It was originally released as the B-side to “Hangin’ Around”, but the two were soon reversed by the label when disc jockeys nationwide in the United States, as well as in Canada, were inundated with phone calls and realized this was the hit. The song features a “double” drum solo, with Ruff on drums and Winter on percussion. In fact, the working title of the song was “The Double Drum Song”. This was the first hit song that used a synthesizer as the lead instrument.

The group performed the song on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1973. The song was actually performed three years previously when Edgar was playing with his older brother Johnny Winter at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970. This rare recording was recently released as one of several live bonus tracks included in the two-disc Deluxe Edition CD of Johnny Winter’s Second Winter.

Speaking of They Only Come Out at Night, how about my next pick for a Halloween song:

Thriller by Michael Jackson – “Thriller” is a song recorded by American singer Michael Jackson, composed by Rod Temperton, and produced by Quincy Jones. It is the seventh and final single released by Epic Records from his 1982 studio album Thriller. A 14-minute video showing Jackson in a horror-themed performance premiered on November 14, 1983. It was first shown on MTV on December 2, 1983. The song was not released as a single until January 23, 1984.

In the song, sound effects such as a creaking door, thunder, feet walking on wooden planks, winds and howling dogs can be heard, and the lyrics contain frightening themes and elements. “Thriller” received positive reviews from critics and became Jackson’s seventh top-ten single on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart from the album, while reaching the top of the charts in France and Belgium and the top ten in many other countries.

“Thriller” was adapted by director John Landis into a highly successful music video, known independently as “Michael Jackson’s Thriller”. At fourteen minutes the video is substantially longer than the song, which ties together a narrative featuring Jackson and actress Ola Ray in a setting heavily inspired by horror films of the 1950s. In the video’s most iconic scene, Jackson leads other actors costumed as zombies in a choreographed dance routine. Though it garnered some criticism for its occult theme and violent imagery, the video was immediately popular and received high critical acclaim, being nominated for six MTV Video Music Awards in 1984 (the very first MTV Video Music Awards) and winning three (Best Performance Video, Best Choreography, and Viewers Choice). Considered the most famous music video of all time, it was added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2009, the first music video ever selected. How cool is that?!

Most homes had VCRs in 1983 and sales of videos were big business. Along with the Jane Fonda workout tapes, you could buy a VHS or beta copy of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which included the full video and also “The Making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller,” a behind the scenes documentary. This tape became the best-selling music video at the time, and was later certified by Guinness World Records as the top selling music video of all time, moving nine million units. Part of its appeal was the price, a mere $24.95 at a time when movies on tape cost much more.

The video distribution deal was through a company called Vestron, who approached John Landis about selling the film directly to consumers, which turned out to be very profitable. The timing helped, as the video was released a few weeks before Christmas.

Thriller is by far the best-selling album in the world. In the United States, it was overtaken by The Eagles Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, but reclaimed the title after Jackson’s death.

Fun Fact: Rod Temperton recalled that when he wrote this song he envisaged “this talking section at the end and didn’t know really what we were going to do with it. But one thing I’d thought about was to have a famous voice in the horror genre to do the vocal. Quincy (Jones, producer)’s wife knew Vincent Price, so Quincy said to me, ‘How about if we got Vincent Price?'” (Source Q magazine August 2009).

Vincent Price, an actor best known for his work on horror films, did the narration at the end of the song, including the evil laugh. Price’s rap includes the line “Must stand and face the hounds of hell.” (This was inspired by the most popular Sherlock Holmes novel to date, The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in which Sir Henry Baskerville’s family is supposedly cursed by a bloodthirsty, demonic hound. Price’s personal friends, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee (who appeared in several horror films with him), starred in a loose 1959 film adaptation of it. It was the first Sherlock Holmes film shot in color). Price recorded the central spoken section in this song on his second take, after it had been written by Rod Temperton in the taxi on the way to the studio for the recording session.

Vincent Price, while a guest on the Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, laughingly stated that when he did the narration for “Thriller” (at the request of Michael Jackson who was a big fan of Price) he had a choice between taking a percentage of the album sales or $20,000. Price was well along in his career, so he took the $20,000. He was good-natured about it when Carson told him he could have made millions off of the royalties due to the vast number of copies sold even at that time. Price laughed heartily and said: “How well I know!”

Vincent Price in Twice Told Tales (1963)

Ghosts by Michael Jackson – “Ghosts” is a 1996 song by Michael Jackson. “Ghosts” was written, composed and produced by Michael Jackson and Teddy Riley in 1996. Commentators made observations about the paranoid lyrics, a common theme in Jackson’s work. Its music video was a five-minute clip taken from the much longer film of the same name. It was released as part of the single release “HIStory”/”Ghosts”, a double A-side single from Michael Jackson’s 1997 remix album Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix.

The song would become a top five hit in the UK and Italy, but did not chart as highly elsewhere. Specifically “HIStory/Ghosts” did generally well of music charts worldwide, having charted within the top-ten and top-twenty in multiple countries. The song’s highest peak position was in Italy, charting at number three. In the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden “HIStory/Ghosts” spent seventeen to eighteen weeks on the charts. In Australia “HIStory/Ghosts” peaked at forty-three before falling off the chart. The single did not appear on any United States Billboard charts.

The music video for “Ghosts” was a five-minute cut-down of the short film of the same title, which Jackson unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival as part of the album promotion. It was released theatrically in the US in October 1996 and made its UK debut the following May at the Odeon Leicester Square. The music video won the Bob Fosse Award for Best Choreography in a Music Video.

Written by Jackson and Stephen King and directed by Stan Winston, the short film was inspired by the isolation the singer felt after he was accused of child sexual abuse in 1993. It centers on the Maestro (Jackson), who’s nearly chased out of his town by the residents and the mayor (who intentionally resembles Tom Sneddon, a prosecutor in the 1993 accusations) because they believe him to be a “freak.” The film includes several songs and music videos from the albums HIStory and Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. At 38 minutes, the film holds the Guinness World Record for longest music video. The short version is included in Michael Jackson’s Vision.

Ghost Riders in the Sky by the Outlaws – The original song is “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend,” a cowboy-styled country/western song written in 1948 by American songwriter, film and television actor Stan Jones.

The song tells a folk tale of a cowboy who has a vision of red-eyed, steel-hooved cattle thundering across the sky, being chased by the spirits of damned cowboys. One warns him that if he does not change his ways, he will be doomed to join them, forever “trying to catch the Devil’s herd across these endless skies”. Jones stated he had been told the story when he was 12 years old by an old cowboy friend. The story resembles the northern European mythic Wild Hunt.

More than 50 performers have recorded versions of the song. One of the charting versions that I’m most familiar with was recorded by the American southern rock band Outlaws and appears on their sixth album Ghost Riders, released in 1980. It is regarded by many fans as the last Outlaws album that followed their old fashioned southern rock style, and also a comeback after some mediocre albums saleswise. Their cover of “(Ghost) Riders In the Sky” was one of their most successful songs, and has earned the band some attention from outside the southern rock circles.

Goblin Girl by Frank Zappa – I’m not much of a Zappa fan but I just had to include this song. “Goblin Girl” is from Frank Zappa’s double album You Are What You Is. It was originally released as a double album in 1981 and later by Rykodisc as a 20-song CD.

Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon – “Werewolves of London” is a rock song composed by LeRoy Marinell, Waddy Wachtel, and Warren Zevon and performed by Zevon. Included on Zevon’s 1978 album Excitable Boy, it featured accompaniment by drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie of Fleetwood Mac. It was produced by Jackson Browne.The single was released by Asylum Records and it entered the American Top 40 charts on April 22, 1978, reaching number 21, and remained in the Top 40 for six weeks. In New Zealand, the song reached number 15. This was the only Top 40 hit for Warren Zevon as singer.

When Zevon was working with The Everly Brothers, he hired Wachtel to play in their backing band. At one point, Phil Everly asked them to write a dance song for the Everly Brothers called “Werewolves of London.” Wachtel and Zevon were good friends and were strumming guitars together when someone asked what they were playing. Zevon replied, “Werewolves of London,” and Wachtel started howling. Zevon came up with the line “I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand,” and they traded lyrics back and forth until they had their song.

The lyrics tell the story of “a hairy-handed gent who ran amok in Kent.” He’s well-dressed (“I’d like to meet his tailor”), well-groomed (“His hair was perfect”), and “preying on little old ladies.”

Henry Hull as Werewolf of London (1935)

Fun Facts: The Chinese restaurant mentioned in the song, “Lee Ho Fook,” is a real location. It is situated on Gerrard Street in London’s Chinatown (the nearest Tube station is Piccadilly). The patron proudly displays Zevon’s photo.

When Zevon played this live, he sometimes replaced the line “I’d like to meet his tailor” with “And he’s looking for James Taylor!”

In 2000, a fight broke out while Zevon was performing this at the Bowery Ballroom in New York. Zevon stopped, waited for the fight to end, said “I bet this never happens at Sting concerts,” and continued the song.

Zevon filled in for bandleader/keyboardist/producer Paul Shaffer at Late Night with David Letterman whenever Shaffer was unable to attend the taping of the show. Letterman was a big fan of Zevon, and did some very moving interviews with him before his death, including one in which Zevon gave this advice: “Enjoy every sandwich.”

Zevon died of lung cancer in 2003. He lived with the disease longer than doctors expected and made his last album, The Wind, while he was dying.

Psycho Killer by the Talking Heads – “Psycho Killer” is a song written by David Byrne, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth and first played by their band the Artistic in 1974, and as Talking Heads in 1975, with a later version recorded for their 1977 album Talking Heads: 77.

The band’s “signature debut hit” features lyrics which seem to represent the thoughts of a serial killer. Originally written and performed as a ballad, “Psycho Killer” became what AllMusic calls a “deceptively funky new wave/no wave song” with “an insistent rhythm, and one of the most memorable, driving basslines in rock & roll.”

The song was the result of lead singer David Byrne trying to write an Alice Cooper song, but it came out much more introspective. It ended up being about the thoughts of a murderer. They lyrics were inspired by the character Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins, in the 1960 movie Psycho. Byrne never thought this would be a hit. He considered it a “silly song” at the time, and was surprised when it took off.

Part of the chorus and the bridge are in French. The verse translates to “What I did, that evening, what she said, that evening fulfilling my hope I throw myself towards glory.” The chorus lyric “Qu’est-ce que c’est?” means “What is this?”

The “Fa Fa” part comes from an Otis Redding song called “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song).” Redding and other Soul singers were a big influence on Talking Heads.

An acoustic version was the flip side of the single. In the liner notes for Once in a Lifetime: The Best of Talking Heads (1992), Jerry Harrison wrote of that b-side acoustic version that featured Arthur Russell on cello, “I’m glad we persuaded Tony [Bongiovi] and Lance [Quinn] that the version with the cellos shouldn’t be the only one.”

The song was composed near the beginning of the band’s career and prototype versions were performed onstage as early as December 1975. When it was finally completed and released as a single in December 1977, “Psycho Killer” became instantly associated in popular culture with the contemporaneous Son of Sam serial killings. Although the band always insisted that the song had no inspiration from the notorious events, the single’s release date was “eerily timely” and marked by a “macabre synchronicity”.

“Psycho Killer” was the only song from the album to appear on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at number 92. It reached number 32 on the Triple J Hottest 100 in 1989, and peaked at number 11 on the Dutch singles chart in 1977. The song is included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr.“Ghostbusters” is a song written and recorded by Ray Parker Jr. as the theme to the film of the same name starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson. Debuting at #68 on June 16, 1984, the song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on August 11, 1984, staying there for three weeks, and at number two on the UK Singles Chart on September 16, 1984, staying there for three weeks. The song re-entered the UK Top 75 on November 2, 2008, at No. 49.

It was nominated at the 57th Academy Awards for Best Original Song, but lost to Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You”.

According to Parker, he was approached by the film’s producers to create a theme song for the film, though he only had a few days to do so and the film’s title seemed impossible to include in any lyrics. However, when watching television late at night, Parker saw a cheap commercial for a local service that reminded him that the film had a similar commercial featured for the fictional business. This inspired him to write the song as a pseudo-advertising jingle that the business could have commissioned as a promotion.

Parker added that he got his girlfriend and her friends to shout the title for the chorus, since he didn’t want to sing it. Parker, who was a renowned session musician, played most of the instruments on the track.

Fun Fact #1: Lindsey Buckingham claims to have been approached to write the Ghostbusters theme based on his successful contribution to Harold Ramis’s National Lampoon’s Vacation (the song “Holiday Road”). He turned down the opportunity as he did not want to be known as a soundtrack artist. He mentions this on the “Words & Music” interview disc.

The music video for the song was directed by the same director as the Ghostbusters film, Ivan Reitman, and produced by Jeffrey Abelson. It features a young woman, played by actress Cindy Harrell, who is haunted by a ghost portrayed by Parker, roaming a nearly all-black house interior with vibrant neon designs outlining the sparse architectural and industrial features until the woman finally calls the service. It also contains footage from the film and features cameos from many celebrities of the day, including Chevy Chase, Irene Cara, John Candy, Melissa Gilbert, Ollie E. Brown, Jeffrey Tambor, George Wendt, Al Franken, Danny DeVito, Carly Simon, Peter Falk, and Teri Garr; all of whom exclaim the song’s “Ghostbusters!” refrain when shown. Chase appears again after Garr, but chokes on his cigarette when he tries to exclaim “Ghostbusters!” Franken also pops up in the house before the separately framed cameos begin.

The video concludes with Parker and the stars of the film, in full Ghostbuster costume, dancing down the streets of New York City. The Ghostbusters also perform the same dance in the closing credits to the Real Ghostbusters cartoon series as well as in a trailer for the 2009 Ghostbusters video game.

Fun Fact #2: Huey Lewis sued Parker for plagiarizing the medley to his song “I Want A New Drug” on this track. They settled out of court and agreed not to talk about the case in public, but in 2001, Lewis revealed that Parker paid to settle the suit on an episode of VH1’s Behind the Music. Parker then sued Lewis for violating the terms of their agreement and breaching confidentiality.

Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult – “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” is a song by the American rock band Blue Öyster Cult from their 1976 album, Agents of Fortune. The song, written and sung by the band’s lead guitarist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser, deal with eternal love and the inevitability of death. Dharma wrote the song while picturing an early death for himself.

Released as an edited single, the song was Blue Öyster Cult’s biggest chart success, reaching #7 in Cash Box and #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1976. Additionally, critical reception was mainly positive and, in 2004, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” was listed at number 405 on the Rolling Stone list of the top 500 songs of all time.

Blue Öyster Cult was considered a “cult” band, somewhere in the realm of heavy metal with complex and often baffling lyrics dealing with the supernatural. Those inside the cult took the time to understand that like Black Sabbath, BOC combined outstanding musicianship with fantasy lyrics, and they weren’t for everyone. “Don’t Fear the Reaper” exposed them to a wider audience, which was good for business but bad for art. Buck Dharma said in a 1980 interview with NME: “Ever since ‘The Reaper’ was a hit we’ve been under pressure to duplicate that success; the body of our work failed. Even on (1977 album) Spectres everyone tried to write a hit single and that’s a bad mistake. The Cult is never destined to be successful at a format. To be a singles band you have to win the casual buyer.”

Fun Fact #1: The song has been used in several horror movies, including Halloween, The Frighteners and Scream. Stephen King cited the song as the inspiration for his novel The Stand. He quoted the lyrics to this song at the beginning of his novel, in which 99.9% of the US population is killed by a manmade disease called “Superflu.” It is also used in King’s miniseries of the same name during a montage showing the corpses of those who had been killed by the disease. King often quotes songs in the beginning of his books.

Fun Fact #2: The song was memorialized in the April 2000 Saturday Night Live comedy sketch “More Cowbell”. The six-minute sketch presents a fictionalized version of the recording of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” on an episode of VH1’s Behind the Music. Will Ferrell wrote the sketch and played Gene Frenkle, an overweight cowbell player. “Legendary” producer Bruce Dickinson, played by Christopher Walken, asked Frenkle to “really explore the studio space” and up the ante on his cowbell playing. The rest of the band are visibly annoyed by Frenkle, but Dickinson tells everyone, “I got a fever, and the only prescription–is more cowbell!” Buck Dharma thought the sketch was fantastic and said he never gets tired of it.

For some reason, the skit’s embed code wouldn’t work but here’s the link to the NBC site where you can watch the entire hilarious skit. Besides Christopher Walken and Will Ferrell, James Franco and Jimmy Fallon are also in the skit. Enjoy!

Murder by Numbers by the Police – “Murder by Numbers” is on English rock band The Police’s fifth and final studio album, Syncronicity, released in June 1983.

The lyrics describe how to get in the mindset of killing people. Sting said it is about the evil deeds of politicians. Sting wrote this with guitarist Andy Summers. It was their only collaboration on Synchronicity; besides the songs “Miss Gradenko” (Stewart Copeland) and “Mother” (Summers), the songs on the album were written entirely by Sting.

This was used as the B-side of “Every Breath You Take,” but it was omitted from the vinyl copy of Synchronicity. At the time, vinyl copies went on sale before cassettes, and CD technology was just emerging. Many people would buy the vinyl copies right away, so leaving this off encouraged them to also purchase the “Every Breath You Take” single or the cassette. At some concerts, Sting introduced this by saying it was about the manipulation of large groups of people, knowing that the audience were being manipulated the whole time.

Fun Facts: This song was featured in the Sigourney Weaver movie Copycat. In the film, a serial killer leaves the lyrics to the song as a clue.

Murder by Numbers is the title of a 2002 movie starring Sandra Bullock.

TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart said that this song was performed by “The sons of Satan.” In 1988, a few years after he made his comments, Swaggart was involved in a sex scandal.

Sting appeared at a Frank Zappa concert after meeting the eccentric composer before the show. When he got onstage, the band started to play “Murder by Numbers” as Sting talked about the comments Jimmy Swaggart made about this song being written by Satan, Beelzebub, and Lucifer. He concluded by saying, “I wrote the fucking song, alright?” He went on to sing the whole song with the band and the track appears on Zappa’s live album, Broadway the Hard Way.

Superstition by Stevie Wonder – “Superstition” is a song by American singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder. It was released as the lead single from his fifteenth studio album, Talking Book (1972). The album was called Talking Book because wonder considered the songs akin to chapters in a book that tell a whole story. On the cover is a rare photo of Wonder without his sunglasses on.

The song’s lyrics are chiefly concerned with superstitions, mentioning several popular superstitious fables throughout the song, and deal with the negative effects superstitious beliefs can bring. Wonder wrote this about the dangers of believing in superstitions. Some of the bad luck superstitions he alludes to include walking under a ladder, breaking a mirror (said to bring seven years of bad luck), and the number 13.

It reached number one in the U.S. and number one on the soul singles chart. The song was Wonder’s first number-one single since “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours” and topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973. Overseas, it peaked at number eleven in the UK during February 1973. In November 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the song at No. 74 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

This was intended for Jeff Beck, who was brought in to play some guitar parts on the album in exchange for a song. At one of the sessions, Stevie came up with the riff and wrote some lyrics, and they recorded a rough version of the song that day for Beck. It took Beck a while to record the song due to album delays, and by the time he released it, Wonder’s version had been out for a month and was a huge hit. Beck felt shortchanged, and made some statements in the press that Wonder didn’t appreciate. In 1975, Beck released an instrumental version of Wonder’s “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” on his album Blow By Blow. The album was a hit and helped solidify Beck’s reputation as an elite guitarist.

Jeff Beck finally recorded his own version of this song in December 1972 with bass player Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice. They recorded as Beck, Bogert and Appice, and while their album did well, their version of this song was hardly noticed.

Several artists besides Jeff Beck have covered this. None made much of an impact until Stevie Ray Vaughan released a live version as a single in 1986 on his album Live Alive. His version is still played on Classic Rock radio, and has grown even more popular since Vaughan’s death in 1990.

This song incorporates many elements of rock music, which helped Wonder extend his appeal to a white audience. Before Talking Book was released, Stevie went on tour with The Rolling Stones, which boosted his credibility in the world of rock. When “Superstition” was released, it was warmly welcomed on the same radio stations that played The Stones, earning Wonder many new fans. It also helped Wonder move past his image as a child star.

Wonder appeared in Bud Light commercials that debuted during the Super Bowl in 2013. As part of the “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work” campaign, which showed superstitious fans acting compulsively in an effort to steer their teams to victory, Wonder appeared as some kind of witch doctor in New Orleans (where the game took place). Asking, “Are you looking for a little mojo?” Wonder then transports our hero to the big game, where he has a voodoo doll to help his cause. The song “Superstition” plays throughout.

Somebody’s Watching Me by Rockwell – “Somebody’s Watching Me” is a song by American singer Rockwell from his 1984 debut studio album Somebody’s Watching Me. Rockwell is Kennedy Gordy, son of Motown founder Berry Gordy from a relationship with Margaret Norton. The Motown brain trust came up with the name “Rockwell.” Prince and Madonna were doing very well using one name, and inspiration struck when someone saw a photo of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Kennedy put the demo together with the help of a Motown producer named Curtis Nolen. Berry Gordy didn’t have much faith in his son as a recording artist, but when he heard this, he knew it was a hit and agreed to release it.

The song was released as Rockwell’s debut single and lead single from the album on January 14, 1984, by Motown. It features former Jackson 5 members Michael Jackson (vocals in the chorus) and Jermaine Jackson (additional backing vocals).

“Somebody’s Watching Me” became a commercial success internationally, topping the charts in Belgium, France and Spain. “Somebody’s Watching Me” also peaked at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as reaching number six on the UK Singles Chart.

Due in part to the popularity of the music video, the song is sometimes used for Halloween celebrations, with cover versions found in various collections of Halloween music.

The single’s music video underscores the song’s paranoid tone with a haunted house-inspired theme, including imagery of floating heads, ravens, graveyards, and shower scenes referencing Psycho.

The video opens with Rockwell coming home to discover that the wrong newspaper has been delivered to his doorstep. As he takes a quick shower, he begins to have strange visions (in a manner recalling The Dead Zone) of himself being pursued around his house by assorted ghoulish appartions, of the looming figure of a cadaverous-looking man, and of finding a tombstone engraved with his own name. His shower is interrupted when he hears something outside and goes out on his balcony to investigate. He is shocked to see the man from his visions standing at his gate, but as he struggles to get a better look in spite of the sun in his face he is greatly relieved to see that he is merely a mailman, come to deliver the correct newspaper. As the mailman walks up the path towards the front porch, however, a brief close-up of his arm reveals that he is, in fact, a zombie. Rockwell emerges onto the porch to receive the paper, which the mailman genially hands over. As the mailman brings his other arm around to strike, Rockwell has just enough time to notice that he is not human.

This is Halloween – “This Is Halloween” is a song from the 1993 film, The Nightmare Before Christmas, with music and lyrics written by Danny Elfman. In the film it is performed by the residents of the fictional “Halloween Town”, which is the film’s main setting, and introduces the town’s Halloween-centered lifestyle.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (also known as Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas) is a 1993 American stop-motion animated musical dark fantasy film directed by Henry Selick, and produced and conceived by Tim Burton. It tells the story of Jack Skellington, a resident from “Halloween Town” who stumbles through a portal to “Christmas Town” and decides to celebrate the holiday, with some dastardly and comical consequences. Danny Elfman wrote the songs and score, and provided the singing voice of Jack. The principal voice cast also includes Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Ken Page, Paul Reubens and Glenn Shadix.

The Nightmare Before Christmas originated in a poem written by Tim Burton in 1982, while he was working as an animator at Walt Disney Feature Animation. With the success of Vincent in the same year, Walt Disney Studios began to consider developing The Nightmare Before Christmas as either a short film or 30-minute television special. Over the years, Burton’s thoughts regularly returned to the project, and in 1990, he made a development deal with Disney. Production started in July 1991 in San Francisco; Disney released the film through its Touchstone Pictures banner because the studio believed the film would be “too dark and scary for kids”.

The film was met with both critical and financial success, grossing over $76 million during its initial run. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, a first for an animated film. The film has since been reissued by Walt Disney Pictures, and was re-released annually in Disney Digital 3-D from 2006 until 2009, making it the first stop-motion animated feature to be entirely converted to 3D.

And since my Halloween tradition for the last several years is to turn off all the lights and pretend no one is home and then watch the original 1978 movie Halloween by John Carpenter…and maybe a few more in the franchise… I’m including the Halloween movie trailer here, followed by the theme song.

Halloween, the movie: For those who aren’t familiar: Halloween is a 1978 American slasher film directed and scored by John Carpenter, co-written with producer Debra Hill, and starring Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut. It is the first installment of the Halloween franchise. In the film, on Halloween night in 1963, Michael Myers murders his sister in the fictional Midwestern town of Haddonfield, Illinois. He escapes on October 30, 1978 from Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, and returns home to kill again. The next day, Halloween, Michael stalks teenager Laurie Strode and her friends, while Michael’s psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis, pursues his patient.

Halloween was produced on a budget of $300,000 and grossed $47 million at the box office in the United States, $23 million internationally, for a total of $70 million worldwide, selling almost 30 million tickets in 1978, equivalent to $269 million as of for 2017. It became one of the most profitable independent films. Many critics credit the film as the first in a long line of slasher films inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960). In 2006, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Some critics have suggested that Halloween may encourage sadism and misogyny by audiences identifying with its villain. Others have suggested the film is a social critique of the immorality of youth and teenagers in 1970s America, with many of Myers’ victims being sexually promiscuous substance abusers, while the lone heroine is depicted as innocent and pure, hence her survival. Nevertheless, Carpenter dismisses such analyses.

Movie Fun Facts: After viewing Carpenter’s film Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) at the Milan Film Festival, independent film producer Irwin Yablans and financier Moustapha Akkad sought out Carpenter to direct a film for them about a psychotic killer that stalked babysitters. In an interview with Fangoria magazine, Yablans stated, “I was thinking what would make sense in the horror genre, and what I wanted to do was make a picture that had the same impact as The Exorcist.” Carpenter and his then-girlfriend Debra Hill began drafting a story originally titled The Babysitter Murders, but, as Carpenter told Entertainment Weekly, Yablans suggested setting the movie on Halloween night and naming it Halloween instead.

Akkad agreed to put up $300,000 for the film’s budget, which was considered low at the time. (Carpenter’s previous film, Assault on Precinct 13, had an estimated budget of $100,000). Akkad worried over the tight, four-week schedule, low budget, and Carpenter’s limited experience as a filmmaker, but told Fangoria, “Two things made me decide. One, Carpenter told me the story verbally and in a suspenseful way, almost frame for frame. Second, he told me he didn’t want to take any fees, and that showed he had confidence in the project”. Carpenter received $10,000 for directing, writing, and composing the music, retaining rights to 10 percent of the film’s profits.

Because of the low budget, wardrobe and props were often crafted from items on hand or that could be purchased inexpensively. Carpenter hired Tommy Lee Wallace as production designer, art director, location scout and co-editor. Wallace created the trademark mask worn by Michael Myers throughout the film from a Captain Kirk mask purchased for $1.98. Carpenter recalled how Wallace “widened the eye holes and spray-painted the flesh a bluish white. In the script it said Michael Myers’s mask had ‘the pale features of a human face’ and it truly was spooky looking. I can only imagine the result if they hadn’t painted the mask white. Children would be checking their closet for William Shatner after Tommy got through with it.” Hill adds that the “idea was to make him almost humorless, faceless—this sort of pale visage that could resemble a human or not.” Many of the actors wore their own clothes, and Curtis’ wardrobe was purchased at J. C. Penney for around a hundred dollars.

It took approximately 10 days to write the script. Yablans and Akkad ceded most of the creative control to writers Carpenter and Hill (whom Carpenter wanted as producer), but Yablans did offer several suggestions. According to a Fangoria interview with Hill, “Yablans wanted the script written like a radio show, with ‘boos’ every 10 minutes.” Hill explained that the script took three weeks to write and much of the inspiration behind the plot came from Celtic traditions of Halloween such as the festival of Samhain. Although Samhain is not mentioned in the plot of the first film, Hill asserts that:

           “…the idea was that you couldn’t kill evil, and that was how we came about the story. We went back to the old idea of Samhain, that Halloween was the night where all the souls are let out to wreak havoc on the living, and then came up with the story about the most evil kid who ever lived. And when John came up with this fable of a town with a dark secret of someone who once lived there, and now that evil has come back, that’s what made Halloween work.”

Hill wrote most of the female characters’ dialogue, while Carpenter drafted Loomis’ speeches on the soullessness of Michael Myers. Many script details were drawn from Carpenter’s and Hill’s adolescence and early careers. The fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois was derived from Haddonfield, New Jersey, where Hill grew up, and most of the street names were taken from Carpenter’s hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Laurie Strode was the name of one of Carpenter’s old girlfriends and Michael Myers was the name of an English producer who had previously entered, with Yablans, Assault on Precinct 13 in various European film festivals. In Halloween, Carpenter pays homage to Alfred Hitchcock with two characters’ names: Tommy Doyle is named after Lt. Det. Thomas J. Doyle (Wendell Corey) from Rear Window (1954), and Dr. Loomis’ name was taken from Sam Loomis (John Gavin) from Psycho, the boyfriend of Marion Crane (Janet Leigh, who is the real-life mother of Jamie Lee Curtis). Sheriff Leigh Brackett shared the name of a Hollywood screenwriter.

“I met this six year old child with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes; the devil’s eyes […] I realized what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply…evil.”

— Loomis’ description of a young Michael was inspired by John Carpenter’s experience with a real life mental patient.

Carpenter’s inspiration for the “evil” that Michael would embody came when he was in college. While on a class trip at a mental institution in Kentucky, Carpenter visited “the most serious, mentally ill patients”. Among those patients was a young boy around twelve to thirteen years-old. The boy gave this “schizophrenic stare”, “a real evil stare”, which Carpenter found “unsettling”, “creepy”, and “completely insane”. Carpenter’s experience would inspire the characterization that Loomis would give of Michael to Sheriff Brackett in the original film.

The limited budget also dictated the filming location and time schedule. Halloween was filmed in 20 days in the spring of 1978 in South Pasadena, California, and the cemetery at Sierra Madre, California. An abandoned house owned by a church stood in as the Myers house. Two homes on Orange Grove Avenue (near Sunset Boulevard) in Hollywood were used for the film’s climax. The crew had difficulty finding pumpkins in the spring, and artificial fall leaves had to be reused for multiple scenes. Local families dressed their children in Halloween costumes for trick-or-treat scenes.

The Halloween Theme Music: Another major reason for the success of Halloween is the moody musical score, particularly the main theme. Lacking a symphonic soundtrack, the film’s score consists of a piano melody played in a 10/8 or “complex 5/4” meter composed and performed by director John Carpenter. It took Carpenter three days to compose the entire score for the film. Critic James Berardinelli calls the score “relatively simple and unsophisticated”, but admits that “Halloween’s music is one of its strongest assets”. Carpenter stated in an interview, “I can play just about any keyboard, but I can’t read or write a note.” In the end credits, Carpenter bills himself as the “Bowling Green Philharmonic Orchestra” for performing the film’s score, but he did receive assistance from composer Dan Wyman, a music professor at San José State University.

Some songs can be heard in the film, one being an untitled song performed by Carpenter and a group of his friends who formed a band called The Coupe De Villes. The song is heard as Laurie steps into Annie’s car on her way to babysit Tommy Doyle. Another song, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by classic rock band Blue Öyster Cult, appears in the film.

 

And this wraps up my Halloween themed Monday’s Music Moves Me playlist. Hope you all enjoy it. HAPPY HALLOWEEN and be sure to keep your doors locked and whatever you do, don’t open the closet door or go down in the basement!

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by JAmerican Spice, Stacy Uncorked and Curious as a Cathy.  Be sure to stop by the hosts and visit the other participants.

 

 

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Monday’s Music Moves Me – SONGS ABOUT CARS AND TRUCKS…and a few motorcycles too

It’s the start of a new week and that means it’s time for Monday’s Music Moves Me! This week’s theme is Songs about Cars and Trucks. I threw a bike or two in too.

There are so many songs about cars and trucks in Rock ‘n Roll. Here are just 35 of my favorites, followed by a little background on each one.

ROCK PLAYLIST

I Can’t Drive 55 by Sammy Hagar – “I Can’t Drive 55” was the lead single and first track from Sammy Hagar’s eighth studio album VOA in 1984. This was Hagar’s biggest hit as a solo artist. He joined Van Halen a year after it was released. Perpetuated by a very successful music video, it became a concert staple that continued throughout Hagar’s tours as a member of Van Halen. The song is a reference to the National Maximum Speed Law in the United States that originally set speed limits at 55 miles per hour (89 km/h).

The origin of the song, like so many, comes from actual experience: In 1994, Sammy Hagar explains: “I was in a rent-a-car that wouldn’t go much faster than 55 miles an hour. I was on my way back from Africa. I did a safari for three months throughout Africa. A really great vacation after Three Lock Box. I was traveling for 24 hours, I got to New York City, changed planes, Albany, New York. Got in a rent-a-car. Had a place in Lake Placid at the time, a little log cabin, I used to go there and write with my little boy. Aaron, at that time, went to North Country school when I was on tour. I would go there and see him. It was a really cool getaway. But it took two and a half hours to drive there from Albany. And I was driving from Albany, New York at 2:00 in the morning, burnt from all the travel. Cop stopped me for doing 62 on a four lane road when there was no one else in sight. Then the guy gave me a ticket. I was doing 62. And he said, ‘We give tickets around here for over-60.’ and I said, ‘I can’t drive 55.’ I grabbed a paper and a pen, and I swear the guy was writing the ticket and I was writing the lyrics. I got to Lake Placid, I had a guitar set-up there. And I wrote that song there on the spot. Burnt.”

Chevy Van by Sammy Johns – I LOVE this song and you rarely hear it anymore. “Chevy Van” is a 1973 song, written and sung by Sammy Johns with instrumental backing provided by Los Angeles-based session musicians from the Wrecking Crew. The song was a hit single in the United States and Canada in 1975, reaching #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and becoming a million seller. It was played primarily on AM Top 40 stations in the 1970s; later re-recordings were done in a country vein.

It details how an unnamed male driver picks up an unnamed female, who then proceeds to eventually seduce him into a one-night stand in the back of his Chevrolet Van. At the end he drops her off “in a town that was so small, you could throw a rock from end to end. A dirt road mainstreet, she walked off in bare feet”, and laments “It’s a shame I won’t be passing through again.” The song struck a chord with listeners in the sexually liberated early 1970s when Johns released it.

The song features on the soundtrack to The Van, the first movie to feature Danny DeVito.

Low Rider by War – “Low Rider” is a song written by American funk band War and producer Jerry Goldstein, which appeared on their album Why Can’t We Be Friends?, released in 1975. It reached number one on the Billboard R&B chart and peaked at number 7 on the Pop Singles chart.

According to the All Music Guide review of the song, “the lyric takes the cool image of the low rider — the Chicano culture practice of hydraulically hot-rodding classic cars — and using innuendo, extends the image to a lifestyle”. The song’s most distinguishable feature is its driving bass line, which is present for nearly all of the song. It also ends with a siren-like noise that then becomes a saxophone solo. The vocal is by the band’s brass player, Charles Miller

Drive My Car by the Beatles – “Drive My Car” is a song by the Beatles, written primarily by Paul McCartney, with lyrical contributions from John Lennon. It was first released on the British version of the band’s 1965 album Rubber Soul; it also appeared in North America on the Yesterday and Today collection. The upbeat, lighthearted “Drive My Car” was used as the opening track for both albums.

The song’s male narrator is told by a woman that she is going to be a famous movie star, and she offers him the opportunity to be her chauffeur, adding: “and maybe I’ll love you”. When he objects that his “prospects [are] good”, she retorts, “Working for peanuts is all very fine/But I can show you a better time.” When he agrees to her proposal, she admits, “I got no car and it’s breakin’ my heart/But I’ve found a driver and that’s a start.” According to McCartney, “‘Drive my car’ was an old blues euphemism for sex”. This expression was more common in the pre-automatic shift era of automobiles.

It’s pretty clear that all this driving talk is leading to sex, but there’s no proof that it isn’t just a song about a guy, a girl, and a car – making it another radio-friendly Beatles track.

The “beep beep” refrain is a take-off on The Beatles own “yeah, yeah yeah”s in “She Loves You” as well as a nod to The Playmates song “Beep Beep” (a #4 US novelty hit in 1958).

It’s hard to find actual Beatles videos on YouTube that aren’t covers pretending to be the Beatles so the song in my playlist is Paul McCartney performing the song in Quebec.

Radar Love by Golden Earring – “Radar Love” is a song by the Dutch rock band Golden Earring. The single version of “Radar Love” reached #10 on the Cash Box Top 100 and #13 in Billboard in the United States. It also hit the Top 10 in many countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and Spain.

Before you could send a text message or call someone in their car, there was no way to communicate to a driver – unless you had a certain telepathic love that could convey from a distance your desire to be with that person, something you might call – Radar Love. In this song, the guy has been driving all night, but keeps pushing the pedal because he just knows that his baby wants him home.

Free Ride by Edgar Winter Group – “Free Ride” is a song written by Dan Hartman and performed by The Edgar Winter Group. The single, engineered by Jim Reeves, was a top 20 US hit in 1973, hitting number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

This song appeared in a 2015 Ford commercial for a Free Ride sales event:

Highway Star by Deep Purple – “Highway Star” is a song by the English rock band Deep Purple. It is the opening track on their 1972 album Machine Head and is the fastest song in tempo on the album. It is characterized by long, classically-inspired guitar and organ solos. Organist Jon Lord claimed that the organ and guitar solos were based on Bach-like chord sequences.

This song is about a man and his love for his high-powered car, which he says can out-race every other car. This was written by Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Ian Paice, Jon Lord, and Roger Glover. It may have been inspired by Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild,” and along with “Radar Love” is one of the most famous driving songs in rock.

This song was born on a tour bus going to Portsmouth in 1971 when a reporter asked the band how they wrote songs. To demonstrate, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore grabbed an acoustic guitar and began playing a riff consisting of a single “G” repeated over and over, while vocalist Ian Gillan improvised lyrics over the top. The song was refined and was performed that same night. The song first appears on the 1972 LP Machine Head. The track remains one of the band’s staples in live concerts, and was the set opener even before it was released on any album.

Born to Be Wild by Steppenwolf – “Born to Be Wild” is a song first performed by the band Steppenwolf, written by Mars Bonfire. The song is often invoked in both popular and counter culture to denote a biker appearance or attitude. It is sometimes described as the first heavy metal song, and the second verse lyric “heavy metal thunder” marks the first use of this term in rock music (although not as a description of a musical style).

“Born to Be Wild” was used in the 1969 movie Easy Rider, a counterculture classic starring Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda as bikers who ride from Los Angeles to New Orleans. (Another Steppenwolf song, “The Pusher,” was also used in the film).

When the movie was in production, this was simply a placeholder, since Fonda wanted Crosby, Stills and Nash to do the soundtrack. It became clear that the song belonged in the movie, and it stayed. Partly because of its use in Easy Rider, this has become the song most associated with motorcycles.

Although “Born to Be Wild” is typically associated with motorcycles, the songwriter’s intent was not necessarily an anthem for the biker lifestyle but moreso about freedom, mobility and life on the open road.

It was written by Mars Bonfire, which is the stage name of Dennis Edmonton. He wasn’t a member of Steppenwolf, but his brother Jerry was the band’s drummer. (Bonfire wrote a few other songs for Steppenwolf as well, including “Ride With Me” and “Tenderness”).

Explaining how he came up with the song, Bonfire said:

“I was walking down Hollywood Boulevard one day and saw a poster in a window saying ‘Born to Ride’ with a picture of a motorcycle erupting out of the earth like a volcano with all this fire around it. Around this time I had just purchased my first car, a little secondhand Ford Falcon. So all this came together lyrically: the idea of the motorcycle coming out along with the freedom and joy I felt in having my first car and being able to drive myself around whenever I wanted. ‘Born to Be Wild’ didn’t stand out initially. Even the publishers at Leeds Music didn’t take it as the first or second song I gave them. They got it only because I signed as a staff writer. Luckily, it stood out for Steppenwolf. It’s like a fluke rather than an achievement, though.”

In an interview for CHMR FM, John Kay told Terry Parsons that when Mars Bonfire first introduced him to the song, it was intended as a folk ballad about life on the open road. Once Steppenwolf began working with the song, the tempo was increased, and an iconic rock and roll song resulted.

“Born to Be Wild” was used in a 2017 commercial for the Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster that aired during the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons. The spot, directed by The Coen Brothers, re-creates a scene from Easy Rider, but this time, Peter Fonda has given up his bike for the roadster. It’s a good spot.

Going Mobile by The Who – “Going Mobile” is a song written by Pete Townshend and originally released by The Who on their 1971 album Who’s Next. It was originally written for Townshend’s abandoned Lifehouse project, with lyrics celebrating the joy of having a mobile home and being able to travel the open road. The Who’s lead singer Roger Daltrey did not take part in the recording of the song, leaving the rest of the band to record it as a power trio; Townshend handles the lead vocals, guitars, and synthesizers, with John Entwistle on bass and Keith Moon on drums. The song has attracted mixed reviews from music critics.

“Going Mobile” is one of the lighter moments on Who’s Next. Townshend described the use of the song in the proposed project as follows: “As the story unfolded, because of the vagaries of the modern world, because of pollution being caused mainly by people’s need to travel, to be somewhere else. (People) had been told, ‘You can’t do that anymore. You have to stay where you are.’ But people have got this lust for life, and adventure, and a bit of color.” It celebrates the joys of having a mobile home and being able to travel the highways at will – Townshend himself had acquired a mobile home about a year before the song was recorded. An example of the theme is illustrated by such lyrics as:

I don’t care about pollution

I’m an air-conditioned gypsy

That’s my solution

Watch the police and the taxman miss me

I’m mobile

Pink Cadillac by Bruce Springsteen – “Pink Cadillac” is a song by Bruce Springsteen released as the non-album B-side of Dancing in the Dark in 1984. The song received moderate airplay on album-oriented rock radio, appearing on the Billboard Top Tracks chart for 14 weeks, peaking at number 27. The song was also a prominent concert number during Springsteen’s 1984-85 Born in the U.S.A. Tour. This song did not appear on any album until 1998 when it was included on Tracks, a collection of Springsteen outtakes.

Like Prince’s “Little Red Corvette”, “Pink Cadillac” follows the tradition of the Wilson Pickett R&B classic “Mustang Sally” in using automobile travel as a metaphor for sexual activity, particularly as sung by Springsteen as the lyric: “I love you for your pink Cadillac” was originally a veiled pudendal reference. Springsteen, in fact, vetoed the first attempt by a female singer to release a version of “Pink Cadillac”, that being Bette Midler in 1983. However, “Pink Cadillac” had its highest profile incarnation via an R&B interpretation by Natalie Cole, which became a top-ten single in 1988.

Fun Fact: In 2001, AOL would not let users quote this in a Springsteen discussion group because they felt the lyrics were too suggestive. One of the offending lines was “My love is bigger than a Honda, yeah it’s bigger than a Subaru.”

Mustang Sally by Wilson Pickett – “Mustang Sally” is a rhythm and blues (R&B) song written and first recorded by Mack Rice in 1965. It was released on the Blue Rock label (4014) in May 1965 with “Sir Mack Rice” as the artist. It gained greater popularity when Wilson Pickett covered it the following year on a single, a version that was also released on the 1966 album, The Wicked Pickett.

According to Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 Songs,

“Mustang Sally nearly ended up on the studio floor – literally. After Pickett finished his final take at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the tape suddenly flew off the reel and broke into pieces. But the session engineer, the legendary Tom Dowd, calmly cleared the room and told everyone to come back in half an hour. Dowd pieced the tape back together and saved what became one of the funkiest soul anthems of the ’60s.”

The chorus of the song includes the lyrics “ride, Sally, ride” — a phrase that became fodder for newspaper headlines in 1983, when astronaut Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. The Lou Reed song “Ride Sally Ride”, which quotes these lyrics throughout, is the first track on his 1974 album Sally Can’t Dance. The same lyric is found in “Dance to the Music” by Sly and the Family Stone in 1968 and in the children’s song “Sally the Camel.”

I’m in Love with My Car by Queen – “I’m in Love with My Car” is a song by the British rock band Queen, released on their fourth album A Night at the Opera in 1975. It is the album’s only song written entirely by drummer Roger Taylor.

The engine noises on the recording of “I’m In Love With My Car” are authentic and come from the car Roger Taylor owned at the time. He described in a 1997 interview with Pop On The Line:

“I remember my car at the time, because I think we’ve got the exhaust on the record, and that was a little Alfa Romeo. But I think it was more about people in general, for instance boy racers. In particular we had a sound guy/roadie at the time called Jonathan Harris, who was in love with his car, and that inspired that. I think he had a TR4, Triumph TR4.”

Roger Taylor loved the song, and demanded it to be the B-side to Freddie Mercury’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” single – so much so that he apparently locked himself in a cupboard until Mercury agreed. Perhaps there was a good reason Taylor really wanted it to be the “Rhapsody” B-side – the song credit went completely to him, and when the single became a huge smash hit, he received almost equal royalties as Mercury did for “Rhapsody.”

This naturally rather annoyed the rest of the band! Songwriting credits and friction over royalties are a common reason why most bands break up. For this reason, Queen later in their career decided to give a collective co-writing credit for all songs, regardless of who contributed. This meant everyone got equal royalties for any singles/hits, which meant there was less friction with members more willing to let their songs/ideas be worked on – knowing they wouldn’t lose any credit or royalty money in the process.

The song was used in a 2004 advertisement for Jaguar:

No Particular Place to Go by Chuck Berry – “No Particular Place to Go” is a song by Chuck Berry, released as a single by Chess Records in May 1964 and released on the album St. Louis to Liverpool in November 1964.

The song is comical four verse story. In the first verse the narrator is cruising in his car with his girlfriend, and they kiss. In the second they start to cuddle, and drive slow. In the third they decide to park and take a walk, but are unable to release the seat belt. In the last verse they drive home, defeated by the recalcitrant seat belt.

“No Particular Place To Go” was written at a time when Chuck Berry had literally no place to go. He was in prison. Chuck first saw the inside of a slammer back in the 1940s due to a youthful folly, but it is fair to say that since then his encounters with the law have been more low key and if anything somewhat contrived.

Although this song didn’t enrage Mrs. Whitehouse like his later, number one hit, in which he offered to show us his ding-a-ling, it is fairly laden with innuendo, although of the tragic kind, because herein, our hero is unable to unfasten his safety belt.

Hey Little Cobra by The Rip Chords – “Hey Little Cobra” is a song released in 1963 by The Rip Chords. The song was produced by Terry Melcher and Bruce Johnston, who also sang vocals.

The song spent 14 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at No. 4, while reaching No. 5 on Canada’s CHUM Hit Parade, and No. 3 on New Zealand’s “Lever Hit Parade.”

Melcher was the son of actress Doris Day; he went on to produce albums for The Byrds and Paul Revere and The Raiders. Johnston became a member of The Beach Boys. They persuaded Columbia Records to release this as by The Rip Chords to take advantage of the act’s name recognition.

Fun, Fun, Fun by the Beach Boys – “Fun, Fun, Fun” is a song written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love for American rock band the Beach Boys. It was released in 1964 as a single backed with “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”, both later appearing on the band’s album Shut Down Volume 2.

The classic American song about girls and cars is one of many by the Beach Boys that virtually defined the California myth. Its lyrics are about a teenage girl who tricks her father so she can go hot-rodding with his Ford Thunderbird. At the end, her father discovers her deception and takes the keys from her. The narrator then comes to the girl’s rescue with his own car and she retaliates by running off with him, who fell in love with her after watching her drive.

The Wilsons’ father Murray had very conservative values and felt this song was immoral. Murray served as their manager, and by many accounts was very controlling. He didn’t get his way on this one, and was removed as manager a few months later.

The Beach Boys were on tour in Australia and when they returned to the States, Beatlemania had come to town. This was the Beach Boys’ next hit, and while now regarded as a classic, at the time it was almost eclipsed by the Mop Tops.

Little Deuce Coupe by the Beach Boys – “Little Deuce Coupe” is a song written by Brian Wilson and Roger Christian. The song first appeared as the b-side to The Beach Boys’ 1963 single “Surfer Girl”. The car referred to is the 1932 Ford Model 18. “Little Deuce Coupe” became The Beach Boys’ highest charting B-side, peaking on September 28, 1963 at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Brian Wilson commented on the song in the liner notes of the 1990 CD re-release of the original Surfer Girl album: “We loved doing ‘Little Deuce Coupe’. It was a good ‘shuffle’ rhythm, which was not like most of the rhythms of the records on the radio in those days. It had a bouncy feel to it. Like most of our records, it had a competitive lyric. This record was my favorite Beach Boys car song.” According to author Jon Stebbins in his book The Lost Beach Boy, while the group was on tour in July 1963 Mike Love hit on the idea to use short instrumental segments of the song in the Beach Boys’ live set as a way to introduce the band members to the audience, starting with Dennis Wilson on drums, then adding David Marks (and later Al Jardine) on rhythm guitar, Carl Wilson on lead guitar, and finally Brian on the bass, before launching the song from the top.

This is one of the street drag-racing tales that were popular in mid 1960s in Southern California. The lyrics make more sense if you’re into cars. The mechanical parts mentioned are all actual automotive parts or technology, including the “flat head mill” (engine) and the “lake pipes” (which are long chromed exhaust pipes that run along the rocker panel). One artistic stretch is the vision of an old Ford Model A reaching 140 mph – the shape has too much air drag to reach that speed, unless you tow it behind a DC-10 jet.

A deuce is a car produced by Ford in 1932 (the “2” in 1932 is the “deuce”). Most of them had big V8 engines and were popular for drag racing. They weren’t just coupes – they also came as roadsters and sedans. The line at the end of the song, “There’s one more thing, I got the pink slip daddy,” means that the singer won a race with his Little Deuce Coupe, earning him his opponent’s car. The “pink slip” is the vehicle’s registration, so “racing for pink slips” means the winner gets the other car.

The Silver Sapphire – Little Deuce Coupe 1932 Ford

Mercury Blues by Steve Miller Band – “Mercury Blues” is a song written by K. C. Douglas and Robert Geddins, and first recorded by Douglas in 1948. The song, originally titled “Mercury Boogie,” pays homage to the American automobile, which ended production in 2010.

The song has been covered by several others including the Steve Miller Band (1967, at The Monterey International Pop Festival, and 1976, on their album, Fly Like an Eagle).

Willie the Wimp by Stevie Ray Vaughan – Willie Morris “Flukey” Stokes (December 12, 1937 – November 19, 1986) was an American reputed mobster from Chicago, Illinois. Stokes was from the South Side and well known for his silk suits, diamond rings, and flamboyant lifestyle as a drug trafficking kingpin and pool hall owner. Stokes immortalized himself in Chicago by throwing a US$200,000 (equivalent to $445,359 in 2016) party on his 30th wedding anniversary in 1985 and for the decadent funeral he arranged for his murdered 28-year-old son, Willie “the Wimp” Stokes, Jr. in February 1984. The elder Stokes had his son buried in a Cadillac-style coffin with $100 bills stuffed between his diamond ring laden fingers. Two years later in November 1986, Flukey would also be murdered, along with his chauffeur, sitting inside a 1986 Cadillac limousine while talking on his wireless telephone. Stokes was 48 years old.

Photograph of Stokes attending his 30th wedding anniversary party from Chicago-based Jet Magazine (January 28, 1985). This image is copyrighted and owned by Jet Magazine and being used for informational purposes only.

The song:  This song has its roots in my neck of the woods: Bill Carter and Ruth Ellsworth, of Austin, Texas were reading the Austin American-Statesman one morning and they read the syndicated column about Willie the Wimp. Carter said, “I said to Ruth, ‘This isn’t a column – it’s a song’.” They drove to the studio, and Carter said that “in the two miles it took us to get there we put the column to music.” Jimmie Vaughan was at the studio, and he called his brother, Stevie Ray Vaughan, to tell him about it. Stevie liked the song, recorded it, and performed it live for his fans around the world. Much of the songs lyrics came directly out of the column including a quote from Willie the Wimp’s mother where she described her and her husband’s reason for wanting an extravagant funeral for their son. She said that her son “left like he lived – in a lively manner.” It was worked into a verse in the song that says, “In his Cadillac to heaven he was waving that banner; He left like he lived, in a lively manner.”

Bill Carter first released the song as “Willy The Wimp (And His Cadillac Coffin)” on his 1985 album, Stompin’ Grounds. Jimmie Vaughan played lead guitar on Carter’s album, and his brother, Stevie Ray Vaughan, released his version, titled: “Willie the Wimp” on his Live Alive album in July 1986. The blues-rock standard begins: “Willie the Wimp was buried today, They laid him to rest in a special way” which leads into a full description of the decadence that was Willie the Wimp’s funeral. The song mentions “the casketmobile, Willie the Wimp’s red suit, the money between his fingers, [and] the headlights” – into the catchy refrain, “Talkin’ ’bout Willie the Wimp in his Cadillac coffin.” Stevie Ray Vaughan performed the song live in concert at the Midtfyns Festival in Denmark in 1988.

Hot Rod Lincoln by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen – “Hot Rod Lincoln” is a song by American singer-songwriter Charlie Ryan, first released in 1955. It was written as an answer song to Arkie Shibley’s 1951 hit “Hot Rod Race” which describes a race in San Pedro, Los Angeles between two hot rod cars, a Ford and a Mercury, which stay neck-and-neck until both are overtaken by “a kid in a hopped-up Model A”. “Hot Rod Lincoln” is sung from the perspective of this third driver, whose own hot rod is a Ford Model A body with a Lincoln-Zephyr V12 engine, overdrive, a four-barrel carburetor, 4:11 gear ratio, and safety tubes.

The cover version, by country rock band Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen on their 1971 album Lost in the Ozone, became the most successful version of “Hot Rod Lincoln,” reaching No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 28 Adult Contemporary, No. 7 in Canada, and was ranked No. 69 on the U.S. Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1972.

This was the only hit for Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, who were a County-Rock group formed at the University of Michigan. Commander Cody is lead singer and piano player George Frayne.

Hot Rod Heart by John Fogerty – “Hot Rod Heart” is written by American singer/songwriter John Fogerty and is the second track on Blue Moon Swamp, the fifth solo studio album by Fogerty, released on May 20, 1997.

Carefree Highway by Gordon Lightfoot – “Carefree Highway” is a song written by Gordon Lightfoot and was second single release from his 1974 album, Sundown. The song peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent one week at #1 on the Easy Listening chart in October 1974.

Lightfoot got the idea for this song from a road sign he saw. The song name comes from a section of Arizona State Route 74 in north Phoenix. The Carefree Highway intersects I-17, and leads to Carefree, Arizona, a small community north of Phoenix.

Said Lightfoot,

“I thought it would make a good title for a song. I wrote it down, put it in my suitcase and it stayed there for eight months.” The song employs “Carefree Highway” as a metaphor for the state of mind where the singer seeks escape from his ruminations over a long ago failed affair with a woman named Ann. Lightfoot has stated that Ann actually was the name of a woman Lightfoot romanced when he was age 22. “It was one of those situations where you meet that one woman who knocks you out and then leaves you standing there and says she’s on her way.”

Lightfoot was asked during a Reddit AMA what he meant by the song’s second line, “I wonder how the old folks are tonight?” He replied: “Well, I always thought about my folks. They’re both gone now. But I always thought about my folks, it doesn’t matter what kind of trouble I was getting into, I always thought about my folks.”

“Carefree Highway” is one of my favorite Gordon Lightfoot songs.

Little Red Corvette by Prince – “Little Red Corvette” is a song by American musician Prince. Released as a single from the album 1999 in 1983, the song was his biggest hit at the time, and his first to reach the top 10 in the US, peaking at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. It was also his first single to perform better on the pop chart than the R&B chart.

The song combines a drum machine beat and slow synth buildup for the verses and a full rock chorus. Backing vocals were done by Dez Dickerson and Lisa Coleman and the guitar solo was also played by Dickerson. In the song, Prince narrates a one-night stand with a beautiful but promiscuous woman (the “Little Red Corvette” of the title); although he enjoys the experience, he urges her to “slow down” and “find a love that’s gonna last” before she destroys herself. In addition to the title, he uses several other automobile metaphors, for example comparing their lovemaking to a ride in a limousine.

The song is about sex, but it’s just ambiguous enough not to offend most listeners. Many of Prince’s earlier songs, like “Head,” “Dirty Mind,” and “Soft and Wet,” were blatantly sexual, which scared off radio stations. The line, “She had a pocket full of horses, Trojans, some of them used,” refers to Trojan condoms. The “Jockeys” represent men who have previously slept with the girl. These were veiled sexual references that not enough people got to make the song be considered offensive.

Prince got the idea for this song when he dozed off in backup singer Lisa Coleman’s 1964 Mercury Montclair Marauder after an exhausting all-night recording session. The lyrics came to him in bits and pieces during this and other catnaps. Eventually he was able to finish it without sleeping.

“Little Red Corvette” really helped put Prince on the map. 1999 was Prince’s fifth album. He had just modest success to this point, his biggest hit being the #11 “I Wanna Be Your Lover” four years earlier. The title track was issued as the first single in September 1982, about a month before the album was released. That song reached #44 US in December, and “Little Red Corvette” was released as the second single in February 1983. The song made a slow climb up the charts, reaching #6 in May. From November 1982 to April 1983, Prince toured behind the album. As “Little Red Corvette” rode up the charts, he drew far larger crowds – the early dates proved to be some of his last theater shows, as he was a clear arena headliner by the end of the tour.

The music video was one of the first videos by a black artist to get regular airplay on MTV. Michael Jackson was the first to break the color barrier on MTV with “Billie Jean,” and “Little Red Corvette” came soon after. The band shot the clip during a tour stop in Jacksonville; the song was already a radio hit when they made it.

Following Prince’s death, the song re-charted on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart at number 29. It rose to number 20 one week later. It has sold 1,080,601 digital copies in the United States.

In 2001, Chevrolet put up billboards with a picture of a red 1963 Corvette Sting Ray that said, “They don’t write songs about Volvos.” In 2003, Chevrolet used this in a commercial that aired for the first time during the Grammys. The ad showed old footage of The Beach Boys performing “My 409” followed by Don McLean singing “American Pie” (“drove my Chevy to the levee”), and then Prince performing this. The camera then goes outside the club to show Chevy’s latest model. There was also a Billboard for the Chevrolet Corvette made from this song as well. It had the lyric “Little Red Corvette, baby ur much 2 fast” and Prince’s logo over the Corvette. It was displayed behind the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky in 2003.

Fun Fact: Stevie Nicks got the idea for “Stand Back” from this song. She heard it in her car, drove to the recording studio, and put down some tracks. “It just gave me an incredible idea, so I spent many hours that night writing a song about some kind of crazy argument, and it was to become one of the most important of my songs,” she remembered in the liner notes for Timespace. Prince came in and added the keyboard bit. As Nicks tells it, he came up with the riff as soon as he started playing it.

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Mercedes Benz by Janis Joplin – “Mercedes Benz” is an a cappella song written by singer Janis Joplin with the poets Michael McClure and Bob Neuwirth, and originally recorded by Joplin. In the song, the singer asks the Lord to prove His love for her by buying her a Mercedes-Benz, a color TV, and a “night on the town.” There is also a reference to Dialing for Dollars, a franchised format local television program, which required one to be watching the show to win when the show called your phone number, hence the singer’s need for a TV.

The song is considered to be a rejection of consumerism. It is a social commentary on how many people relate happiness and self-worth with money and material possessions. Sung acapella in a blues style, Joplin was poking fun at the mindset that luxury goods will make everything better.

This song spoke to the shift in the counterculture, as some of the impoverished musicians speaking out against the system were now very rich. As Barney Hoskyns, who wrote about Joplin and the song in his book Small Town Talk: Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Friends in the Wild Years of Woodstock told us, “Rock was now big business, and a lot of money was flooding into the pockets of people who never expected to make it. This set up a mixture of expectation and guilt – they were acquiring a taste for the finer things but knew that a good hippie shouldn’t be materialistic. By the early ’70s it had all changed, and rock stars were the new Yuppies.”

How it came to be: It is based on a song called “C’mon, God, and Buy Me a Mercedes Benz” by the Los Angeles beat poet Michael McClure. Joplin saw McClure perform it, and on August 8, 1970 she reworked it into her own song, which she performed about an hour later.

As recounted in the Patti Smith memoir Just Kids, before her show at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York, she went to a nearby bar (likely Vahsen’s, later renamed Little Dick’s) with her good friend, the songwriter Bob Neuwirth, and two more recent acquaintances, the actors Rip Torn and Geraldine Page. Joplin started reciting the line, “Oh, Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz” – the first line of McClure’s song. The four started banging beer mugs on the table to form a rhythm, and Neuwirth wrote down lyrics he and Joplin came up with on a napkin. They finished the song, and Janis performed it at the show, introducing it by saying, “I just wrote this at the bar on the corner. I’m going to do it Acapulco.” Lol. “Acapulco.”

That show was recorded and widely bootlegged, as it was her penultimate performance and the debut of “Mercedes Benz.” The song was recorded in one take on October 1, 1970. These were the last tracks Joplin ever recorded; she died three days later, on October 4. The song appeared on the album Pearl, released in 1971. Wow. Recorded just a few days before her death. How close the world came to never having that song.

By the way, Janis Joplin never got a Mercedes Benz, but she did have a 1965 Porsche that was painted to become a piece of hippie art.

Arrested for Driving While Blind by ZZ Top – “Arrested for Driving While Blind” is a song by American blues rock band ZZ Top. Written by Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard, it was released as the second single from their fifth studio album Tejas (1976).

The song ostensibly concerns the pleasures, and legal pitfalls, of driving under the influence, after dark, as an antidote to limited leisure opportunities. The song references a number of popular alcoholic beverage brands:

“When you’re driving down the highway at night

And you’re feelin’ that Wild Turkey’s bite

Don’t give Johnnie Walker a ride

Cause Jack Black is right by your side

You might get taken to the jailhouse and find

You’ve been arrested for driving while blind.”

Never ones to be preachy, this is ZZ Top’s version of an anti-drunk driving song. In a 1985 interview with Spin magazine, bass player Dusty Hill said:

“I was never DWI. I have been very close. I’ve had a couple of wrecks in the past. We wrote that song quite a while ago, and we caught a little flak about it. People think we’re suggesting that people should get drunk and go out and drive. That’s not it at all. Billy introduces it: ‘Don’t get arrested for driving while blind.’ We’re not saying, ‘Don’t drink.’ We’re just doing a tune. But personally, it scared the shit out of me having a wreck. I wasn’t completely whacked, but my response time wasn’t what it would be right now.”

Panama by Van Halen – “Panama” is a song from Van Halen’s album 1984. It was the third single released from that record and is one of their most recognized songs. The song was reportedly written about a car. In an interview with Howard Stern, lead singer David Lee Roth explained the meaning behind the trademark song. Although the song features some suggestive lyrics, it is about a car that Roth saw race in Las Vegas; its name was “Panama Express”, hence the title of the song. In the Stern interview, Roth did not explain why the song was about a car rather than the usual Van Halen material.

Panama was the name of Roth’s car. He had the hood and bumper mounted in his hallway, which can be seen in his video for “SHOOBop”. He has a stuffed deer’s behind crashing through the front windshield. A plaque underneath reads, “Your First deer, courtesy of PANAMA.”

During the bridge of the song where Roth says “I can barely see the road from the heat comin’ off it,” guitarist Eddie Van Halen can be heard revving his 1972 Lamborghini Miura S in the background. The car was backed up to the studio and microphones were attached to the exhaust pipe to record the sound for the song.

This was one of the last Van Halen songs recorded with David Lee Roth as lead singer. He was replaced by Sammy Hagar in 1986.

409 by the Beach Boys“409” is a song written by Brian Wilson, Mike Love, and Gary Usher for the American rock and roll band the Beach Boys. The song features Love singing lead vocals. It was originally released as the B-side of the single “Surfin’ Safari” (1962). It was later released on their 1962 album, Surfin’ Safari and appeared again on their 1963 album, Little Deuce Coupe.

The song is credited for initiating the hot rod music craze of the 1960s.

This song describes the Chevrolet 409, named because of its huge 409 cubic-inch engine. Dubbed “Turbo-Fire,” production began in January 1961. The engine had a single Carter four-barrel carburetor that supplied enough fuel-air mixture to generate up to 360 horsepower. With a bit of hot-rodding, more than 400 horsepower was easily available, making the car a big hit among street racers.

This full-size family car 409 did the quarter mile in 13.58 seconds at 105.88 miles per hour. It could go from zero to 60 mph in under 6 seconds. This song describes the Bel-Air sport coupe version of the car equipped with the “4-speed, dual-quad, Positraction” equipment. It could do a 12.22-second quarter mile at 115 miles per hour. Zero to 60 miles per hour in 4 seconds flat.

My ’71 Monte Carlo wasn’t quite that fast but it did zero to 60 in about 6 seconds. I loved that car, my first, and I so miss it!

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An early Beach Boys song, Brian Wilson wrote this with his early collaborator Gary Usher. Wilson knew very little about things like surfing or cars, but Usher did, and he was able to help Wilson tap into the California culture. In 1971, Usher told Gene Sculatti:

“Dennis Wilson was the first Beach Boy to pick up on surfing. He was aware of Dick Dale, the Pendleton jackets and that whole shot. It just rubbed off. I never surfed. I was a hot rod freak. I had a 409. One day we were driving up to Los Angeles looking for a part for my car, and I said ‘Let’s write a song called ‘409’. We’ll do a thing ‘giddy up, giddy up,’ meaning horses for horsepower,’ just kidding around. We came back and put it to three simple chords in five minutes, and it developed into a million-dollar car craze.”

Last Kiss by J. Frank Wilson & the Cavaliers – “Last Kiss” is a song released by Wayne Cochran in 1961 on the Gala label. It failed to do well on the charts. Cochran subsequently re-recorded his song for the King label in 1963. It was later revived by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers and was one of several teen tragedy songs of the period.

This song is about Jeanette Clark and J.L. Hancock, who were both 16 years old when their car hit a tractor-trailer on a road in rural Barnesville, Georgia. They were on a date a few days before Christmas in 1962. A local gas station attendant helping with the recovery of the bodies did not recognize his own daughter. Hancock and Clark’s friend Wayne Cooper, who was riding with them, was killed instantly. Their two other friends, Jewel Emerson and Ed Shockley, survived with serious injuries. The drummer of the songwriter Wayne Cochran had been dating Jeannette Clark’s sister at the time of the wreck.

Wayne Cochran lived on Route 1941 in Georgia, which was about 15 miles away from the crash. It was a busy road, and Cochran saw lots of accidents on it. He was working on a song based on all the crashes he saw, and was about halfway done with it when he heard about the wreck in Barnesville. There was an intense emotional response from the community after the tragedy, and Cochran used those feelings to finish the song, which he dedicated it to Jeanette Clark.

Cochran’s version was a local hit in Georgia, which prompted a Texas record company to record it with J. Frank Wilson and release it nationally. The band’s producer, Son Roush, subsequently split the group to place lead singer J. Frank Wilson with better musicians. Four months after the release of this song, the new band were touring in Ohio. At about 5:15 a.m., Roush apparently fell asleep at the wheel. The car drifted left of center and rammed head-on into a trailer truck. Roush was killed instantly. Wilson survived with a few broken ribs and a broken ankle, but went right on with the tour, taking only a week off. People still remember him coming out on the stage on crutches to sing “Last Kiss” and “Hey, Little One.” The second accident is what pushed this song to #2 on the national charts. Wilson later retired from music and went to work in a nursing home.

Look at That Cadillac by the Stray Cats – The Stray Cats were an American rockabilly band formed in 1979 by guitarist and vocalist Brian Setzer, double bassist Lee Rocker, and drummer Slim Jim Phantom in the Long Island town of Massapequa, New York. The group had numerous hit singles in the UK, Australia, Canada and the U.S. including “Stray Cat Strut”, “(She’s) Sexy + 17”, “Look at That Cadillac,” “I Won’t Stand in Your Way”, “Bring it Back Again”, and “Rock This Town.”

“Look at That Cadillac” is a single from their third album, Rant and Rave with the Stray Cats, released in 1983. It only reached #68 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Cars by Gary Numan – “Cars” is a 1979 song by British artist Gary Numan, released as a single from the album The Pleasure Principle. It reached the top of the charts in several countries, and today is considered a new wave staple. In the UK charts, it reached number 1 in 1979, and in 1980 hit number 1 in Canada two weeks running on the RPM national singles chart and rose to number 9 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Though Numan had a string of hits in the UK, “Cars” was his only song in the US Hot 100. It debuted on the American Top 40 on 29 March 1980 and spent a total of 17 weeks there, peaking at #9.

This song is about how people use technology and material goods to isolate themselves from human contact. Numan has stated that he has Asperger syndrome, which is a mild form of autism, but until he was diagnosed, he had a lot of trouble relating to other people.

Numan told Mojo magazine March 2008 about the original inspiration for this song: “A couple of blokes started peering in the window and for whatever reason took a dislike to me, so I had to take evasive action. I swerved up the pavement, scattering pedestrians everywhere. After that, I began to see the car as the tank of modern society.”

Even though the message of this song is that cars lead to a mechanical society devoid of personal interaction, it didn’t stop automakers from using it in commercials. Both Nissan and Oldsmobile have used it in ads.

A more clever approach came from Diehard, who created a commercial where Numan played the song on 24 car horns powered by just one of their batteries. Numan has no problem with his song being used in commercials, telling us, “I’m up for that, actually. I think any use of it at all. It would be great if it happened again.”

Numan made a video for this with special effects that look ridiculous now, but were cutting edge in 1979. When MTV went on the air in 1981, it was one of about 200 videos they had, so they played it over and over. This made the song a hit in the US.

Numan explained to Rolling Stone how he came up with this song’s synthesizer hook: “I have only written two songs on bass guitar and the first one was ‘Cars.’ I had just been to London to buy a bass and when I got home the first thing I played was that intro riff. I thought, ‘Hey, that’s not bad!’ In 10 minutes, I had the whole song. The quickest one I ever wrote. And the most famous one I’d ever written. More people should learn from that.”

Drive by the Cars – “Drive” is a 1984 song by The Cars, the third single from the band’s Heartbeat City album released in March 1984 and their biggest international hit. Written by Ric Ocasek, the track was sung by bassist Benjamin Orr and produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange with the band.

Upon its release, “Drive” became The Cars’ highest charting single in the United States, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart; on the Adult Contemporary chart, the song went to No. 1.

A very melancholy song by The Cars, this is written from the perspective of a guy who’s watching a woman (who he presumably used to date) “going down the tubes,” trying to get her to take a hard look at what’s going on in her life.

The video was directed by a 23-year-old Timothy Hutton, who had won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the movie Ordinary People. Hutton aspired to direct, so when Ric Ocasek of The Cars suggested he do it, Hutton jumped at the chance. Hutton cast the Czechoslovakian model Paulina Porizkova as the female lead in the clip. Auditioning for the role was the first time she met Ocasek, who she married in 1989.

Fast Car by Tracy Chapman – “Fast Car” is a song by American singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman. It was released in April 1988 as the lead single from her self-titled debut album. Her appearance on the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute was the catalyst for the song’s becoming a top 10 hit in the United States, peaking at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, and a top 10 hit in the United Kingdom, peaking at number 4 on the UK Singles Chart. Besides this “Fast Car” received two Grammy nominations for Record of the Year and Song of the Year, as well as a Video Music Award nomination for Best Female Video in 1989.

Vehicle by the Ides of March – “Vehicle” is the one-hit wonder success for the Chicago-based band The Ides of March. It rose to number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart the week of May 23, 1970. It is purported to be the fastest selling single in Warner Bros. Records history.

The Ides of March formed in 1965 in Berwyn, Illinois – their name came from a line in the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar. Peterik was 14 at the time. The horn section was added in 1968. They were all teenagers when this song was released.

Written and sung by Jim Peterik, the song features a distinctive horn section riff that is still popular today. The song is often mistaken for the horn driven sound of Blood, Sweat and Tears which was popular in the same time range. Peterik wrote “Vehicle” as a joke.

“I got the idea from one of these anti-drug pamphlets they distributed in a school. It was very tongue-in-cheek.” At first, the opening line was, “I got a set of wheels pretty baby, won’t you hop inside my car?” Peterik changed it when his friend showed him a government issued anti-drug pamphlet. It explained the perils of drug use and was illustrated with a little drawing of an undesirable type cruising along the curb looking for easy targets. The caption read, “I’m the friendly stranger in the black sedan, won’t you hop inside my car?” The lyrics that followed, about the picture and candy, came from a warning his mother used to give him about walking home from school.

Peterik has also said that:

“In high school, I co-founded a band called The Ides of March. We did it because we loved music, not because we thought we’d be successful. At the time, I was madly in love with this girl named Karen. I had a souped-up 1964 Plymouth Valiant, and she was always asking for rides. I drove her to modeling school every week. I was hoping flames would ignite—but they didn’t. I came home one day, dejected, and thought: all I am is her vehicle. And I thought: Wow! Vehicle! I came up with this song, taught it to the band, and the next thing I knew, we were recording in a CBS studio. The song—called “Vehicle”—became a world-wide hit in 1970. “I’m your vehicle baby/I’ll take you anywhere you wanna go!”

Peterik had an on again off again relationship with Karen after the song came out. Eventually they married and have been together for years.

Roll on Down the Highway by Bachman Turner Overdrive – “Roll On down the Highway” is a song written by Fred Turner and Robbie Bachman, first recorded by Canadian rock group Bachman–Turner Overdrive (BTO) for their 1974 album Not Fragile. The lead vocal is provided by Turner. Turner and Randy Bachman had originally been contracted by Ford to write a song for the automotive company’s commercials, but Ford never picked up any of their compositions. Robbie Bachman later helped turn one of Fred’s ideas into a Top 20 hit. “Roll on Down the Highway” peaked at #14 on the US Billboard Hot 100 on March 1, 1975. It reached #8 on the Cash Box Top 100 singles, and #4 on the Canadian RPM chart, and gave the band their second — and final — hit in the United Kingdom, reaching #22 in the UK Singles Chart.

Fitting for a band that is partly named for a trucking magazine (Overdrive), this song is about a trucker making a haul. Written by drummer Robbie Bachman and bass player Fred Turner (who sang lead), the song tapped into the ’70s fascination with trucking culture.

Randy Bachman and Fred Turner would often give themselves assignments as motivation to write songs, often writing something in the style of a current hit. This song evolved out of something they wrote for a Ford commercial. In our interview with Randy Bachman, he explained:

“It’s like getting an assignment: write a new commercial for Ford and you’ll get paid $100,000. Well, I’d sit down and I’d write a commercial for Ford, ‘let it roll down the highway.’ Ford never picks it up and I have a song called ‘Roll On Down the Highway.'”

Rockin’ Down the Highway by The Doobie Brothers – This song is from the second double live album by American rock band The Doobie Brothers, Rockin’ Down the Highway: The Wildlife Concert, released in 1996. The concerts were performed to benefit the Wildlife Conservation Society, hence the album’s title.

Never released as a single, this is a popular song from the second Doobie Brothers album Toulouse Street, which contained their breakout hit “Listen To The Music.” Like many of The Doobies early hits, it was written by their lead singer Tom Johnston, who told us:

“‘Rockin’ Down The Highway’ was a good times song. It’s just what it sounds like. It’s about being in a car with the top down flying down the road, which was not uncommon. I lived in San Jose, but I spent a lot of time in the Santa Cruz Mountains and driving up and down Highway 1 down by Santa Cruz. You know, we hadn’t signed with a label at that particular time, and I would imagine that the words came out of those experiences: it was footloose, fancy free, and just groovin’ up and down the coast, partying. I don’t think there was anything more in depth about it as far as the words. I don’t think there’s any major story to be told there. I mention a motorcycle in there, and it’s not a direct mention, but it kind of glances off motorcycling and riding around in cars. I was motorcycle nuts in those days, so there’s a reference to that.”

Long May You Run by Neil Young – Neil’s beloved Pontiac hearse, “Mort” (a.k.a. “Mortimer Hearseburg”), was the inspiration for this song. Neil drove “Mort” from Toronto to Los Angeles, where he met Stephen Stills and formed Buffalo Springfield.

Neil was in Canada driving to Sudbury when ‘Mort’ broke down in Blind River, June 1965. (Which is contradictory to the lyrics; “well it was back in Blind River, in 1962, when I last saw you alive”).

In 1976, Stephen Stills and Neil Young formed The Stills-Young Band and released an album called Long May You Run, which turned out to be somewhat ironic when the collaboration quickly stalled.

Stills and Young wrote separately for the album, which Stephen contributing four songs, and Young adding five, including the title track.

Stills was a longtime collaborator of Neil’s, having worked with him first in Buffalo Springfield and then in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. However, they had a falling out only nine days into the Long May You Run tour. Young decided to abandon the project, leaving Stills with a mere telegram to explain his departure. It read: “Dear Stephen, funny how some things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach. Neil.” Yikes!

The last ever Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien on Friday January 22, 2010 finished in style when O’Brien’s final musical guest, Neil Young, performed this song in what appeared to be a poke at NBC. O’Brien had been asked to move his slot to 12:05 a.m., and the TV host refused to move his show to such a late hour, and instead negotiated a $45 million exit deal.

Racing in the Street by Bruce Springsteen – “Racing in the Street” is a song by Bruce Springsteen from his 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town. In the original vinyl format, it was the last song of side one of the album. The song has been called Springsteen’s best song by several commentators, including the authors of The New Rolling Stone Album Guide.

The song plays off the American love of muscle cars during the late 1960s and into the 1970s. Springsteen wrote this about a small-time drag racer who dreams of a better life somewhere else. He has said that this song commemorates the racing in the street that occurred on a little fire road outside his home base of Asbury Park, New Jersey.

The narrator has a dead end job, but his pride and joy is his ’69 Chevy that he and his partner built, and race in the northeast section of the state (exactly which state is not mentioned) to win money gambling against similar racers. It describes that very American desire of the young man to leave his town and see what is out in the big world – to avoid that soul killing life they see around them.

This is one of many early Springsteen songs featuring cars – in this case a Chevy. Some others were “Thunder Road,” “Backstreets,” and “Pink Cadillac.”

Bruce explained to Rolling Stone in 2010:

“When you pick a song title like ‘Racing In The Street,’ that’s a hard song to write. But that was sort of the local culture of Asbury in the ’70s, which was still deeply enmeshed in car culture. If you went to the Stone Pony, it was a constant circle of souped-up muscle cars on Saturday and Sunday. Once again, I sort of stood outside of it, I was hitchhiking, I didn’t have a car! But I wanted one real bad.”

 

This next song isn’t necessarily about a car but the music video prominently features a car. It’s a favorite of mine, me having that vengeful spirit and all…

 

And that leads me into the Country playlist. Most of you know me as a classic rocker and that I am for sure. But I’ve been living in Texas for well over two decades now and I’ve been initiated into the world of country music. It all started when I owned my bar. I was known to have the most kickass jukebox in town and new people used to come in all the time just because they heard about my jukebox. Naturally it was loaded with tons of classics from the 60s and 70s and we rocked every day and every night. But then some of my regular customers were bitching because I didn’t have but a few country songs on there. So to make everybody happy, I added a nice mix of country to the collections.

Couple that with the fact that I’d occasionally turn to the country station while driving around and I actually started to dig some of these artists. So I thought I’d put together a Country Playlist for this week’s theme.

I didn’t have time to go deep with song backgrounds so here’s a down and dirty country playlist all about trucks. Because we all know what you get when you play a country song backwards: you get your lover back, you get your dog back, and you get your truck back. Or so they say. So here you go:

A TRUCK-LADEN COUNTRY PLAYLIST

Life is a Highway by Rascal Flatts

We Rode in Trucks by Luke Bryan

Drive (for Daddy Gene) by Alan Jackson

Hillbilly Deluxe by Brooks and Dunn

I Love My Truck by Glen Campbell

Big Ol’ Truck by Toby Keith

Rough and Ready by Trace Adkins

Mud on My Tires by Brad Paisley

Pickup Man by Joe Diffie

Take a Little Ride by Jason Aldean

Truck Yeah by Tim McGraw

Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck by Kip Moore

I Drive Your Truck by Lee Brice

Cab of My Truck by Dierks Bentley

How Country Feels by Randy Houser

Eight-Second Ride by Jake Owen

Boys ‘Round Here by Blake Shelton

That’s My Kind of Night by Luke Bryan

The Pickup Truck Song by Jerry Jeff Walker

Doin’ Things You Can’t Do in a Car by Due West

Getting Married to My Pickup Truck by Rodney Carrington

 

And I’m including this one, just because.

I Want a Cowboy by Reba McEntire

 

Hope you enjoyed my Cars and Trucks Playlists. What are your favorite songs about cars or trucks? Do you have any favorite songs about motorcycles or boats? Have any old Road Trip Mix Tapes from back in the day? If so, what’s on them?

PS: Today, October 23rd, is the anniversary of my blog going live four years ago!  Wow, has it been four years already? Crazy!

Thanks to all my blog friends for making Angels Bark a fun, rewarding and entertaining pursuit. Rock on, y’all!

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by JAmerican Spice, Stacy Uncorked and Curious as a Cathy.  Be sure to stop by the hosts and visit the other participants.

 

 

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me – Artist Spotlight: FIREFALL

Firefall is a rock band that formed in Boulder, Colorado in 1974. It was founded by Rick Roberts, who had been in the Flying Burrito Brothers, and Jock Bartley, who had been Tommy Bolin’s replacement in Zephyr.

How it all began: In 1973 Rick Roberts and Jock Bartley first crossed paths when Bartley was on tour with Gram Parsons as a member of his backing band The Fallen Angels. Both The Fallen Angels and Roberts were performing in New York City at the same venue on consecutive nights. After the two were reunited back in their native Colorado, Roberts was impressed by Bartley’s guitar work and the duo soon began practicing together. Encouraged to form a band, they contacted bassist-singer Mark Andes (a former member of the bands Spirit and Jo Jo Gunne, who had temporarily retired to the mountains outside Boulder, Colorado), and Washington D.C. singer-songwriter-guitarist Larry Burnett, whom Rick had met in his travels earlier that same year, and coaxed them into joining their band, which they christened Firefall in 1974. For the drum chair the group auditioned several local musicians but eventually decided, after a phone call from him, to add Roberts’ former band mate from Flying Burrito Brothers, Michael Clarke, who was most famous for his time spent in the ’60s folk-rock band The Byrds. Clarke, who was living in Washington, having recently returned from residing in Hawaii, agreed to come aboard.

The band tightened up their act performing in clubs in Colorado for over a year, mainly in Boulder and Aspen. In early 1975 the band recorded a demo tape consisting of three songs produced by Chris Hillman. They then began taking it around to major labels, finally getting signed with Atlantic Records.

The band’s biggest hit single, “You Are the Woman”, peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard charts in 1976. Other hits included “Just Remember I Love You” (#11 in 1977), “Strange Way” (#11 in 1978), “Cinderella” (#34 in 1977), “Headed for a Fall” (#35 in 1980), and “Staying with It” (#37 in 1981) with female vocalist Lisa Nemzo.

 

FUN FACT: How the name originated: Roberts took the name from the Yosemite Firefall (1872 to 1968), a summertime tradition of dumping a cascade of flaming embers off Glacier Point in California’s Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Firefall – a long-exposure taken from the Ahwahnee Meadow

The mid-70s brought the band breakthroughs and successes. Their first album, the self-titled Firefall, was recorded in one month and released in April 1976. It went on to became Atlantic Records quickest album to reach gold status. The group’s first single, “Livin’ Ain’t Livin’,” stopped just short of the Top 40. In the following months, the band toured with artists such as Leon and Mary Russell, the Doobie Brothers, Tom Waits, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Roy Buchanan, Electric Light Orchestra and The Band and were put on the bottom of a bill that featured Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker and Asleep at the Wheel.

The group in 1977

The band’s next single, “You Are the Woman”, made the Top 10 and the band began touring with Fleetwood Mac, who were at the beginning of their commercial peak. Their next single, “Cinderella”, though it reached the Top 40 and was played extensively on FM radio, did not fare as well on AM radio because of its controversial lyrics which caused feminist groups to pressure the stations to avoid playing it. However, this did not have a lasting effect on the band’s sales.

Their next album, Luna Sea (pun: “lunacy”), was released in July 1977. It peaked at No. 27 on the charts and went gold less than two months after release. The single from the album, “Just Remember I Love You” hit No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.

It was around this period that tensions were beginning to rise within the group, stemming from non-stop touring and management problems as well as alcohol and drug abuse. In recent interviews, both Rick and Larry have indicated that the group at this time was divided between the heavy substance users (Rick, Larry and Michael Clarke) and the other three (Bartley, Andes and Muse), who were a bit more in control of themselves. At this time the group was also incredibly popular and playing to sold-out crowds with Fleetwood Mac as part of their Rumours tour. But this only delayed their disintegration for a short time.

After a series of management changes and in-fighting among the band members, a new production team (Ron and Howard Albert) was brought in and they released a third album, Elan, in October 1978. It was a massive success and became their first album to reach platinum status. The hit single “Strange Way” continued the band’s commercial hot streak.

The Decline: After two years of non-stop recording and touring, the band was burned out and their financial situation was unstable.

During a tour of Japan in August 1979, Michael Clarke, due to his excessive drinking, missed gigs or showed up in no condition to play. The band resorted to hiring a German drummer, Dan Holsten, whose playing technique was similar to Clarke’s, to sit in. Holsten, who even looked a lot like Clarke, had played in several other bands in the Colorado area and caught the eye of Jock and Larry one night at a Colorado Springs bar. He became known as a ‘reliable’ back-up drummer for tours and some studio work.

Despite this, Atlantic Records still expected a new album. The band recorded the album sporadically over a year. The Albert brothers were again brought in to produce the album. But the band once again required a second effort, which was produced by Kyle Lehning. The result, titled Undertow, was released in March 1980. This would be the last album with Firefall’s original lineup. Upon completion of the album, Clarke and Mark Andes both left the band. (Clarke later died of alcoholism at his Treasure Island home in Florida in December 1993).

Andes and Clarke were replaced by Kenny Loggins’ former rhythm section, consisting of bassist George Hawkins and drummer Tris Imboden. With the two new players, the band recorded Clouds Across the Sun, which was released in December 1980 and spawned the early 1981 hit “Staying With It”, which was done as a duet with singer Lisa Nemzo. Clouds saw Jock emerging more as a writer and singer and had the band moving towards a harder “New wave music” direction on some of the tracks.

Hawkins resigned from the group in late 1980 to join up with Mick Fleetwood’s Zoo, a side project the Fleetwood Mac drummer was recording in Africa. After Andes returned to guest for the group’s February 1981 appearance on American Bandstand, Kim Stone came in to take over bass. Everything seemed to be on track until Larry Burnett suddenly disappeared from the group, after playing a show at Miami Baseball Stadium with Heart, Blue Öyster Cult, Motörhead and Freewheel on April 19, 1981, to return to his hometown of Washington D.C. to enter a rehab (Burnett eventually kicked a serious drug habit and after working in radio in the late 80s/early 90s, began pursuing a solo career in 2004).

The group continued on to play their next show in Las Vegas without him. But after playing a concert with the band in Lahaina, Hawaii with Pure Prairie League in August of that same year, Rick Roberts announced that he also was leaving for a solo career. With the band lacking personnel and increasing in financial debt, Atlantic dropped Firefall from their roster in 1981 and released Best of Firefall at the close of that year.

A Renewal: Unhappy with the way things had turned out, Jock Bartley decided to put together a new Firefall lineup in the spring of 1982. You can read all about it on Wikipedia. Currently touring with three original members (Jock Bartley, David Muse, Mark Andes), longtime drummer Sandy Ficca and talented newcomer Gary Jones, Firefall continues to make great music for a loyal following, adding new fans at each show. You can find out more about the revival of Firefall at their site.

I am most familiar with Firefall’s early years, back in the 70s. Interestingly, in the latter years of the 80s decade I worked with one of the original members of Firefall, Larry Burnett.

Larry Burnett

Larry Burnett with WCXR (Washington, DC, late 80s/early 90s). Photo courtesy of the website of former WCXR Music Director Paul Altobell (www.paul-altobelli.com)

He was a radio personality at Washington DC’s Classic Rock station WCXR 105.9, where I was an advertising sales account executive. I worked there from 1988 through 1991. At the time, Larry was the evening on-air personality from 7pm-midnight on weekdays and he also produced and hosted a weekly specialty show called “The Blues Room” on Sunday nights.

WCXR Washington's Classic Rock Station 105.9

After his WCXR career, leaving in the early 90s, Larry continued on as a solo singer/songwriter/guitarist. I believe he now lives in Virginia but he spent some years in Colorado and he was recently inducted into the Colorado Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. You can check out Larry’s music at his website.

Here is my Firefall playlist, in order of my favorite Firefall songs. The first ten are the ones that I listened to a lot back in the day. The rest of the playlist is some other Firefall songs that I’m just coming to appreciate, many of which were written by Larry Burnett (and he served as lead vocals on many of his songs too). “Strange Way” is on the playlist twice: in the beginning as my second favorite Firefall song (with high quality sound) and then at the end as the last song with a live studio video because it’s one of the only live videos with the original members — and because I get to see my old pal Larry Burnett playing (he’s the one on the right with the long hair and sunglasses).

Put your headphones on and Crank this playlist up! If you’re not already a Firefall fan before hearing this, you will be after:

 

Some tidbits on a few of my favorite Firefall songs:

Cinderella – My favorite Firefall song by Larry Burnett is “Cinderella.” He actually wrote that song when he was 16 years old! Most of what Larry wrote on the first couple of Firefall albums were written when he was between 16 and 19. Larry wrote this song about a girl who wants the fairytale ending, but when she gets pregnant, her boyfriend kicks her out to raise their son on her own.

This wasn’t, however, based on personal experience. Burnett was 16 years old when he wrote this song and says, “I certainly didn’t have a wife or a girlfriend who was pregnant [while] I was working my butt off trying to support us. None of that was going on. But it was certainly happening around me in other people’s lives.”

It took Larry about 15 minutes to write this song. He says it happened so quick he almost never saw it coming. “It was already there, and I was just sort of this vessel. And *poof* I went, whoa, that was interesting. It was a nice moment.”

Musically this song is fantastic. The beginning blows my mind. The flute and the harmonica grab me every time…then the vocals pull me in and together with the music it all blends into this really kickass song.

Strange Way – My next favorite is “Strange Way.” Firefall scored another hit, this time a downbeat one. The singer is seeing a woman who sounds as if she’s wallowing in self-pity over things that have gone wrong for her, and he’s telling her that she’s bringing him down and that he doesn’t want to deal with it anymore. This was written by Firefall singer/guitarist Rick Roberts. (He and fellow singer/guitarist Larry Burnett wrote most of Firefall‘s songs).

You Are the Woman – This was both Firefall‘s breakout hit and it’s most popular single, peaking at #9 on the US Billboard Charts. In it, a man sings that he’s found the ideal woman, and he loves her not for external qualities, but how much she loves him in return. It was written by Rick Roberts.

Jock Bartley of Firefall accounts for the popularity of “You Are the Woman”:

“Every female between the ages of 18 and 24 wanted to be the woman portrayed in the song, and that caused their boyfriends and spouses to call radio stations and subsequently flood the airwaves with dedications of the song and the sentiment. The message was simple and sincere, and the song was easy to sing. It was like our fans let us be a singing version of the Hallmark card that said what they weren’t quite sure what to express.”

Bartley, the founding member of Firefall who has remained with the group to the present (and as of 2015, Muse and founding bassist Mark Andes have rejoined), also states:

“Everybody knows ‘You Are the Woman’. It ended up kind of being a hindrance because people would only hear ‘You Are the Woman’ and would think, oh, that light Rock band from Colorado. We’re actually a pretty smokin’ Rock band that really has fun onstage and cooks and jams and plays ‘You Are the Woman’ also.”

Just Remember I Love You – In this song, the singer tries to offer encouragement to someone who sounds chronically depressed and hopeless, perhaps suicidal. People who are going through their worst times ever have been known to identify with the lyrics. This was written by Firefall singer Rick Roberts.

Sharpshootin’ at the Senator – written by Larry Burnett. “Sharpshootin’ at the Senator” is exactly what it sounds like: It’s a song about assassinating senators. Firefall founding member Larry Burnett explains:

“It’s sort of me trying to observe something I actually hadn’t ever really seen, which was the mind of a guy who would assassinate a political figure. And it’s really heavy, hard rock cool, so it’s a cool song. We used to play it in person and people would go nuts. We loved playing it. It was intense.

It’s about how a guy could become so unhappy with things. You know, people blame stuff on all kinds of other stuff, they don’t take much responsibility. And it’s convenient to blame things on the government. And their attitude is, ‘My personal problems are because Senator Somebody isn’t representing me right, so my family’s suffering.’ That’s where that came from, it was an imagination. It was imagining somebody that unhappy and willing to kill a political figure.”

Atlantic Records refused to put this song on a record, and Burnett had thought that was due to the touchy subject matter. It wasn’t until years later he discovered the real reason:

“During our recording session I had taken a trip north, visited my mom, brought some of the basic tracks along from the session to play for her and family who live around here. She heard the song, she got very worried. She didn’t say anything to me about it, but she heard the song, and she went, ‘Ooo. I don’t know about that.’ She was worried about the impact that a song like that would have on the world and on people, and then how that would reflect on me. I don’t think it was dangerous. It was powerful, but not dangerous. I could have been wrong. So here’s what my mother does: She – unbeknownst to me – writes a letter to Ahmet Ertegun, the Chairman of the Board of Atlantic Records, and he gets it. And she identifies herself, ‘I am Larry Burnett’s mother.’ It was like a 4-page letter that she went on and on and on about how he might not want this attached to him and his record company. And she made some really good points, actually. So Ahmet and the people at Atlantic are thinking that’s a pretty cool song. Bunch of guys, they don’t care. But he gets this letter from my mom, he reads it, and he decides at that moment after reading my mom’s letter to pull the song from the album. And I find this out 2 years later from our then-manager, who’s a friend of mine named Jack Boyle, and he had a copy of the letter. He says, ‘Larry, come here. Remember all that grief that Atlantic was giving us about a couple of songs? I want you to read something.’ And then I read it and I went, ‘Whoa,’ and I read the signature at the bottom, and I went, ‘Ooohh, this is my mother.’ He says, ‘Yeah, you know where I got that?’ I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Ahmet gave that to me.’ He says, ‘This is why we didn’t put that thing on the record.’ I was really surprised to find out that suddenly it’s a bonus track on this CD.”

Even Steven – This is the final track on Firefall’s Luna Sea album. It was the first collaborative effort between Firefall founding members Larry Burnett and Rick Roberts. Collaborative songwriting does not come easily to Burnett, and he prefers to stay away from it. So he was less than thrilled when Roberts came to him one night and suggested they collaborate. He tells this story:

“For years I write my songs, and Ricky writes his songs. Then we as a band get together, we do them, and never the twain met. And then one night in Florida, Ricky says, ‘You know, we really ought to try to write something together.’ And I immediately kind of went Oh God, I knew this was coming. And the only reason the ‘Oh God’ response was there was because I know how Ricky writes songs – at the time, anyway. He gets a big bag of cocaine and gets real high, and then he gets papers and pencil and starts writing down rhyming words on the right-hand side of the page. And then tries to attach sentences to each rhyming word. And then he pushes everything around and tries to have it make sense, because, as you might imagine, it’s not going to make sense right away, considering his approach to songwriting. So anyway, he said, ‘Okay, you and I should try writing…’ boom – here’s this big bag of coke. And I’m going, No, Ricky, I don’t do this to make me perform better. I’m not that stupid. I get high, but not because it makes me better at anything. So we struggled. Boy, we wrote for a long time. And for me it was an enormous struggle. For him it was just what he does, it was no big deal. And he kind of kept the thing going. So that’s how we came up with this song, ‘Even Steven.’ And there again, even the title – the 2 words in the title – rhyme. And if you read the lyrics it’s, in my humble opinion – or not so humble, very often – it’s just a silly, dumb song. And so, when we were done with this, and we’re singing it and kind of burning it into our brains so we remember it, and I’m going, ‘This ain’t cool at all. I do not want to be associated with this song ever.’ It’s a lame, stupid song. At any rate, there it is, my name on it, it’s on the record, you know. It went nowhere, really, as a song.”

 

“You may or may not be pleased to know I haven’t done any dope, or drank in 23 years. But that’s what ‘Even Steven’ was all about. That’s what fueled it, just because Ricky felt obligated for us to collaborate.”

 

The “Steven” in this song is “nobody,” says Burnett, and he’s neither particularly proud of the way the song came about, nor the end result. “We grabbed a household phrase, ‘even Steven,’ and then we thought, Oh, Steven, we have a guy here. Let’s use ‘even Steven’ – this silly cliché – and create a character, and just keep snorting coke until we have this character.”

“It was kind of horrible,” he adds, laughing.

 

Here is the full Interview with Larry Burnett that I found online (some of which is quoted above). Interesting stuff from a guy I used to know…

Hope you all enjoyed my spotlight on Firefall. Were you familiar with the band before now? If so, what are your favorite Firefall songs?

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by JAmerican Spice, Stacy Uncorked and Curious as a Cathy.  Be sure to stop by the hosts and visit the other participants.

 

 

 

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me – AUTUMN SONGS

It’s finally here, my favorite season of the year: Autumn. I am always jumping for joy when the Fall season rolls around because I know that I’ll soon be released from the torturous heat of yet another Austin summer. What I found interesting in putting this seasonal playlist together is that most of the songs about Autumn are rather melancholy and depressive even. I guess some folks mark it as the beginning of a dreary time with trees going dormant and cold weather setting in. But I love the season. I deeply miss seeing the amazing Fall colors (the leaves don’t really change down here in Texas) but still, I am beyond thrilled that cooler temperatures will be ushered in and ultimately lead to the winter months. I always find myself hoping that it will be an extremely cold winter but that never happens here in Austin. If I’m lucky, I might get a few days of Brrrr weather and maybe an opportunity to wear a jacket or a sweatshirt once or twice.

Anyway, here is my Autumn playlist. The first few songs I thought of right away when thinking about Fall but then I had to go searching for other songs to fit the theme. I am excited to have found some new-to-me songs and bands. Hope you enjoy them all. Below the playlist is a list of the songs in order and some background info on the music.

 

 

Seasons of Wither by Aerosmith – One of the first songs that came to mind and definitely a favorite of mine: “Seasons of Wither” is a power ballad by American hard rock band Aerosmith. It was written by lead singer Steven Tyler. It was released in 1974 on the band’s second album Get Your Wings.

According to Tyler, the song was inspired by the Massachusetts landscape in wintertime. He wrote this song during the Winter of 1973, inspired by the winter landscape around the house he was living in with drummer Joey Kramer in Needham, Massachusetts. Tyler explained in the Aerosmith autobiography Walk This Way: “I used to lie in my bed at dawn, listening to the wind in the bare trees, how lonely and melancholy it sounded. I was pissed off about my taxes and getting mad helps me to write, so one night I went down to the basement where we had a rug on the floor and a couple of boxes for furniture and took a few Tuinals and a few Seconals and I scooped up this guitar Joey gave me, this Dumpster guitar, and I lit some incense and wrote ‘Seasons of Wither.'”

The song’s lyrics also discuss a relationship. It is one of Tyler’s favorite Aerosmith songs. The song is highlighted by acoustic guitars, slow haunting vocals, and a strong rhythm. On the Get Your Wings album, the song starts off with a crowd of people cheering, which gradually fades to the howling wind and an acoustic guitar played by Tyler.

California Dreamin’ by the Mamas & the Papas – This is one of the first songs I think of when I think of cooler weather approaching. Even though it’s more about winter, the song reminds me of Fall up north — which often feels like winter to some.

“California Dreamin'” is a song written by John Phillips and Michelle Phillips and was first recorded by Barry McGuire. However, the best known version is by The Mamas & the Papas, who sang backup on the original version and released it as a single in 1965. The song became a signpost of the California Myth and the arrival of the nascent counterculture era.

The single was not an immediate breakthrough. After gaining little attention in Los Angeles upon its release, Michelle Phillips remembers that it took a radio station in Boston to break the song nationwide. After making its chart debut in January 1966, the song peaked at number 4 in March on both the Billboard Hot 100, lasting 17 weeks, and Cashbox, lasting 20 weeks. “California Dreamin'” was the #1 single of 1966 in Billboard and tied for number 1 with “Ballad of the Green Berets” in Cashbox. “California Dreamin'” also reached #23 on the UK charts upon its original release and re-charted after its use in a Carling Black Label commercial in 1997, eventually peaking at number 9 there.

“California Dreamin’” was certified as a Gold Record (single) by the RIAA in June 1966 and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001. It is #89 in Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The lyrics of the song express the narrator’s longing for the warmth of Los Angeles during a cold winter in New York City.

In a 2002 interview with NPR (National Public Radio), Michelle Phillips explained how this song came about. It was 1963, and she was newly married to John Phillips. They were living in New York City, which was having a particularly cold winter, at least by Michelle’s standards as she was from sunny California. John would walk around the apartment at night working out tunes, and one morning brought the first verse of the song to Michelle. It was a song about longing to be in another place, and it was inspired by Michelle’s homesickness.

Michelle enjoyed visiting churches, and a few days before, she and John visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which inspired the second verse (“Stopped into a church…”). John hated the verse, as he was turned off to churches by unpleasant memories of parochial school, but he couldn’t think of anything better so he left it in. So glad he did! I love that line.

This is a rare pop song that contains a flute solo. Even more surprising, it’s an alto flute, which is larger than a regular flute and plays in a lower register. A Jazz player named Bud Shank was brought to the session to play it. Doug Thompson tells this story:

Denny Doherty once told me that when they were recording that song, they wanted a solo, but didn’t want the usual guitar solo. John Phillips walked out into the hall of the Hollywood recording studio they were at and Bud Shank was in that hallway as well. John grabbed him and brought him into the studio. Shank listened to the hole he was supposed to fill and nailed it on the first take.

Harvest Moon by Neil Young – “Harvest Moon” is the title track from Canadian musician Neil Young’s twentieth studio album, released in November 1992. Many of the musicians appearing on it also appeared on his 1972 album Harvest, and it is considered by many to be the unofficial “sequel” to Harvest.

Neil Young’s credits on the song “Harvest Moon” include guitar, banjo-guitar, piano, pump organ, vibes, and of course his unmistakable vocals.

The moon is a big deal to Neil Young. It shows up in 28 of his songs, and he uses it to guide him. Industry folks know that he is more likely to take on a project if it coincides with a full moon. In a 2005 interview with Harp, he explained: “Before there was organized religion, there was the moon. The Indians knew about the moon. Pagans followed the moon. I’ve followed it for as long as I can remember, and that’s just my religion. I’m not a practicing anything, I don’t have a book that I have to read. It can be dangerous working in a full moon atmosphere, because if there are things that are going to go wrong, they can really go wrong. But that’s great, especially for rock ‘n’ roll.”

Forever Autumn by the Moody Blues – “Forever Autumn” is a song written by Jeff Wayne, Gary Osborne and Paul Vigrass. The original melody was written by Wayne in 1969 as a jingle for a Lego commercial. Vigrass and Osborne, the performers of the original jingle, added lyrics to the song and recorded it for inclusion on their 1972 album Queues. Their interpretation was also released as a single and gained moderate commercial success in Japan, selling more than 100,000 copies and becoming a top-20 hit on the country’s record chart.

The best-known version is the recording by Justin Hayward from the album Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds. Wayne wanted to include a love song on the album that sounded like “Forever Autumn” and he decided that the best course of action was to simply use the original song. Wayne chose Hayward, of The Moody Blues, to sing it saying that he “wanted that voice from ‘Nights in White Satin.'” It was recorded at London’s Advision Studios in 1976. The song reached #5 on the UK Singles Chart in August 1978.

A slightly different mix (notably excluding the narration from the album) was released as a single. The latter version was included in the Moody Blues’ box set Time Traveller. Although sometimes falsely credited as being an original single by the Moody Blues itself, Hayward has performed the song live with that group.

A new version was released in late 2012, sung by Gary Barlow for the new album Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds – The New Generation.

Leaves That Are Green by Simon & Garfunkel – “Leaves That Are Green” is a song from Sounds of Silence, the second studio album by Simon & Garfunkel, released on January 17, 1966. A solo acoustic version of “Leaves That Are Green” (along with “I Am a Rock”, “April Come She Will”, “A Most Peculiar Man”, and “Kathy’s Song”) appeared on Paul Simon’s first solo album, The Paul Simon Songbook, released in August 1965 in London. 

Autumn Changes by Donna Summer – “Autumn Changes” was the third track from American singer-songwriter Donna Summer’s Four Seasons of Love, and like the rest of this 1976 concept album, was co-written by the lady herself with Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. Running to around 5 minutes 28 seconds, it is the second song on Side 2.

Four Seasons of Love is her fourth studio album. Released on October 11, 1976, this concept album became her third consecutive successful album to be certified gold in the US. It peaked at #29 on the Billboard 200. In addition, all the cuts on this album went to number one on the disco chart.

This was the third concept album Summer had made, though unlike the previous two which had contained one long track on side one and a small selection of slightly shorter ones on side two, Four Seasons of Love was more equally balanced. The album told the story of a love affair by relating it to the four seasons. Side One contained “Spring Affair” and “Summer Fever”, both disco tracks, and Side Two contained “Autumn Changes” (a slightly slower disco number) and “Winter Melody” (which had an even slower beat), plus a reprise of “Spring Affair”. This concept was reflected in the four photos of Summer, one for each season of the year, in a pull-out 1977 calendar included with the original LP album. The photo on the cover was, fittingly, the Summer photograph. Summer’s “first lady of love” image came across strongly on this album, though her trademark moans and groans were slightly less evident than on previous work. Pics included “Winter” in a fur with a tear on her cheek; “Spring” in a Scarlett O’Hara style hoop skirt on a swing; and “Autumn” re-enacting Marilyn Monroe’s famous scene from The Seven Year Itch with the billowing white dress over the subway grate – an allusion to her song “Love to Love You Baby”, which she has been quoted as using Monroe for inspiration on her recording of it.

September by Earth, Wind & Fire – “September” is a song by American funk band Earth, Wind & Fire, written by Maurice White, Al McKay, and Allee Willis. It was recorded during the I Am sessions and released as a single in 1978. Featured on the band’s album The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1, “September” reached #1 on the US R&B chart, number eight on the Billboard Hot 100, and #3 on the UK singles chart.

This song has a tendency to make people happy when they hear it. Allee Willis describes it as “Joyful Music.”

According to Maurice White, he got the idea for this song in an unlikely place: a hotel room in Washington DC while there was some kind of protest going on below. Said White, “There’s all these cats screaming and throwing things and going crazy and this tune just evolved.”

While there are many theories as to the “21st night of September” in the opening lyrics, the truth is they just felt right. Willis told us:

“Maurice had that very first line, and I said to him, ‘Why the 21st?’ Because I’m someone who likes to tie up all the ends very neatly, so if I’m saying the 21st, I want to know during the song what’s the significance. But he always told me there was no real significance. So whether that’s true or not I can’t say. But as far as I know, it’s just something that sang really well. And I would say the main lesson I learned from Earth, Wind & Fire, especially Maurice White, was never let a lyric get in the way of a groove. Ultimately it’s the feel that is the most important, and someone will feel what you’re saying if those words fit in there right. I do remember us experimenting with other dates, but 21st just sang phonetically fantastic.”

Although many people hear the first words in the chorus as “Party On,” it’s really “Bada-Ya.” Allee Willis explained in her Songfacts interview:

“I absolutely could not deal with lyrics that were nonsensical, or lines that weren’t complete sentences. And I’m exceedingly happy that I lost that attitude. I went, ‘You cannot leave bada-ya in the chorus, that has to mean something.’ Maurice said, ‘No, that feels great. That’s what people are going to remember. We’re leaving it.’ We did try other stuff, and it always sounded clunky – thank God.”

The Autumn Stone by Small Faces – Small Faces was an English rock band from East London. The group was founded in 1965 by members Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones, and Jimmy Winston, although by 1966 Winston was replaced by Ian McLagan as the band’s keyboardist.

The band is remembered as one of the most acclaimed and influential mod groups of the 1960s with memorable hit songs such as “Itchycoo Park”, “Lazy Sunday”, “All or Nothing”, “Tin Soldier”, and their concept album Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake. They later evolved into one of the UK’s most successful psychedelic acts before disbanding in 1969.

After Small Faces disbanded, with Marriott leaving to form Humble Pie, the remaining three members were joined by Ronnie Wood as guitarist, and Rod Stewart as their lead vocalist, both from The Jeff Beck Group, and the new line-up was renamed Faces, except in North America, where this group’s first album (and only their first album) was credited to Small Faces. This practice has continued on all subsequent North American reissues of the album to this day. A revived version of the original Small Faces existed from 1975 to 1978.

Small Faces was one of the biggest musical influences on the Britpop movement of the 1960s. Despite the fact the band was together for just four years in their original incarnation, Small Faces’ music output from the mid to late sixties remains among the most acclaimed British mod and psychedelic music of that era. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.

The song “The Autumn Stone” is the title track from The Autumn Stone, the posthumous retrospective double album released in the UK by Small Faces in 1969 on the Immediate label. The double album contains most of the Immediate and Decca (British record labels) original 7″ single releases together with live recordings from a concert at Newcastle City Hall and unreleased material from their unfinished fourth LP 1862, including “Autumn Stone”, an alternate version of “Afterglow Of Your Love”, covers of two Tim Hardin songs (“If I Were A Carpenter” and “Red Balloon”) and the instrumental “Wide Eyed Girl On The Wall”.  It was released by Andrew Loog Oldham (the record producer who set up UK’s independent record label Immediate) soon after the band announced their break up in 1969.

September in the Rain – “September in the Rain” is a popular song by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, published in 1937. The song was introduced by James Melton in the film Melody for Two. It has become a standard, having been recorded by many artists since. I’m including three versions here. The first is a nod to the first one to chart it, taking it to #1 in the US: Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians, recorded on February 2, 1937.

Another version that I thought was cool is that of the Beatles. This was part of their Decca audition. On January 1, 1962, before they reached international stardom, the Beatles auditioned for Decca Records at Decca Studios in West Hampstead, north London. In what is considered one of the biggest mistakes in music industry history, Decca rejected the band, selecting instead Brian Poole and the Tremeloes.

The third version I’m presenting is by Rod Stewart from his album Fly Me to the Moon… The Great American Songbook Volume V, which was released in October 2010, and was the fifth title in Rod Stewart’s series of covers of pop standards. The video is a gorgeous ice-skating duo performing to the song.

The September of My Years by Frank Sinatra – Frank Sinatra also did a version of “September in the Rain” but I am presenting another one of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ September songs: The September of My Years. “The September of My Years” is a song composed in 1965 by Jimmy Van Heusen, with lyrics by Sammy Cahn, and introduced by Frank Sinatra as the title track of his 1965 album of the same name. At the Grammy Awards of 1966, “The September of My Years” was nominated for the Grammy Award for Song of the Year.

Autumn Almanac by The Kinks – “Autumn Almanac” is a song written by Ray Davies and recorded by the rock group The Kinks in 1967. “Autumn Almanac” has since been noted for being an “absolute classic”, “a finely observed slice of English custom,” and a “weird character study,” and praised for its “mellow, melodic sound that was to characterize the Kinks’ next [musical] phase…” Some have placed this and other Davies compositions in the pastoral-Romantic tradition of the poetry of Wordsworth, among others.

In his 1995 autobiography X-Ray and in subsequent performances of his VH1 Storytellers effort, Davies described the song as being inspired by a local hunch-backed gardener in his native Muswell Hill neighborhood of North London.

November Rain by Guns & Roses – “November Rain” is a power ballad by the American hard rock band Guns N’ Roses. Written by the band’s lead singer Axl Rose, the song was released as a single in 1992 from their third studio album, Use Your Illusion I (1991). It features a sweeping orchestral backing and is one of Guns N’ Roses’ longest songs.

“November Rain” peaked at #3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it the longest song in history to enter the top ten of that chart. Since its release, the song has sold over 1 million copies worldwide.

The music video: The narrative quality of the music video accentuated the epic nature of the song. The video, directed by Andy Morahan, portrays Axl Rose marrying his then-girlfriend Stephanie Seymour, intercut with a live performance in a theater. Particularly, it can be noted for its large budget (about $1 million, including Seymour’s dress) and sweeping cinematography by Mike Southon, which won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Cinematography. It is one of the most expensive music videos ever. GNR’s lead guitarist Slash is prominently featured in some of the video’s most memorable scenes, including a sequence of helicopter shots swooping around him as he plays the first guitar solo and a later scene where he plays the third solo while standing on Rose’s piano onstage. Casting coordinator Mark Roberton observed: “the camera-man had a lot of responsibility, as the crane-cam was so close to Slash, precariously standing atop a piano that was near the stage edge. One wrong twitch and the guitarist would’ve had a long drop!”

The video for “November Rain” uses the full version of the song as opposed to an abridged version. The Orpheum Theater, a theater in downtown Los Angeles, was acquired for an evening shoot that went several hours into the night, and, unlike usual common practice, they did not mime for any of the takes. Between several differing versions of “November Rain”, while the cameras on cranes that swooped close to Slash’s frets were reviewed and set up for the next shot, the band entertained the 1,500 extras, by playing more of their songs.

As stated at the end of the video, “November Rain” is based on the short story “Without You” by Del James, available in his 1995 book The Language of Fear. The story concerns a rock star grieving over the death of his on-and-off-again girlfriend, who had committed suicide (inspired by Rose’s troubled relationship with Erin Everly).

While much speculation exists about how Seymour’s character in the video died, the relationship between the video clip and James’ short story strongly suggests that she kills herself. She appears looking visibly troubled during one shot of the wedding and during the funeral sequence, a mirror is visible, covering over half her face, a technique used by funeral homes to allow victims of head trauma to have the appearance of a full face in the event of an open casket funeral.

The video remained popular throughout the rest of the decade. At the end of 1992, MTV placed “November Rain” at #1 on their top 100 videos of that year. Subsequently, it often appeared at #1 or in the top 10 of several future all-time MTV countdowns throughout the 1990s. In addition, the video was voted “Best Video Clip” in Metal Edge’s 1992 Readers’ Choice Awards. 

Autumn Leaves by Eva Cassidy – Eva Marie Cassidy (February 2, 1963 – November 2, 1996) was an American vocalist and guitarist known for her interpretations of jazz and blues. In 1992, she released her first album, The Other Side, a set of duets with go-go musician Chuck Brown, followed by the 1996 live solo album titled Live at Blues Alley. Although she had been honored by the Washington Area Music Association, she was virtually unknown outside her native Washington, DC. She died of melanoma in 1996.

In 1993, Cassidy had a malignant mole removed from her back but did not follow up with regular check-up appointments. Three years later, during a promotional event for the Live at Blues Alley album in July 1996, Cassidy noticed an ache in her hips, which she attributed to stiffness from painting murals while perched atop a stepladder. The pain persisted and X-rays revealed a fracture. Further tests found that cancer had spread to her bones, causing the fracture, as well as to her lungs. Her doctors estimated she had three to five months to live. Cassidy opted for aggressive treatment, but her health deteriorated rapidly. On September 17, at a benefit concert for her at the Bayou, she made her final public appearance, closing the set with “What a Wonderful World” in front of an audience of family, friends, and fans. Additional chemotherapy was ineffective and Cassidy died on November 2, 1996 at her family’s home in Bowie, Maryland. In accordance with her wishes, her body was cremated and the ashes were scattered on the lake shores of St. Mary’s River Watershed Park, a nature reserve near Callaway, Maryland.

Wake Me Up When September Ends – “Wake Me Up When September Ends” is a song by American rock band Green Day, released on June 13, 2005, as the fourth single from the group’s seventh studio album, American Idiot (2004). The song was written by frontman Billie Joe Armstrong regarding the death of his father.

The song became a hit single, peaking at number six on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also a top ten single in the United Kingdom, Belgium, New Zealand, and was a number one single in the Czech Republic. In the United States, the song became symbolic after Hurricane Katrina, where it was dedicated to victims of the disaster and also regarded as a dedication to the victims of the September 11 attacks that occurred in 2001. The song became the fourth single from American Idiot to be certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

So Fell Autumn Rain by Lake of Tears – This is a new-to-me band and I’m thrilled that I discovered this song as both the song and the band’s sound is perfect for this Autumn theme. Lake of Tears is a Swedish heavy metal band originally formed in 1994, generally considered to play gothic metal and doom metal. However, their sound has expanded to include psychedelic rock and progressive rock elements. The band broke up in 2000 amid creative differences, but reunited in late 2003, releasing the acclaimed album Black Brick Road. They released their eighth studio album, Illwill, in April 2011. In 2014 they released their first live album, By the Black Sea.

Lake of Tears was founded in the early 1990s by Daniel Brennare, Jonas Eriksson, Mikael Larsson and Johan Oudhuis. Their first album, entitled Greater Art, was released in 1994. The album is doom metal featuring coarse, ragged vocals and crushing guitars. The band would subsequently steer away from such a directly categorized style, only revisiting it on their 2011 release Illwill.

Lake of Tears wowed critics and fans alike with their second album, Headstones, released in 1995, followed by A Crimson Cosmos in 1997. The music underwent important changes, expanding on the riff-base of doom metal to achieve a more melodic and melancholic sound. The lyrics also explored new territory, intensely mournful and psychedelic fantasy imagery enhancing the album’s heavy, autumnal soundscapes.

“So Fell Autumn Rain” is from the band’s fourth studio album Forever Autumn, released in July of 1999. It is an intensely quiet and introspective album. Keyboardist Christian Saarinen was briefly included as an official band member, adding an extra layer to the band’s sound. Fantasy imagery was rife and the album’s overall effect was sedate and sorrowful.

Give this song a listen. It’s really good! And then listen to another autumnal song, the album’s title track Forever Autumn.

Autumn Shade by The Vines – “Autumn Shade” is a track on the debut album Highly Evolved by The Vines, released in July of 2002.

The Vines is an Australian rock band formed in 1994 in Sydney. Their sound has been described as a musical hybrid of 1960s garage rock and 1990s alternative rock. The band’s current line-up consists of vocalist and guitarist Craig Nicholls, bass guitarist Tim John and drummer Lachlan West.

The Vines’ success in the Australian recording industry resulted in winning an ARIA Award in 2002, ‘Breakthrough Artist – Single’, for “Get Free” and receiving five other nominations for their debut album Highly Evolved, plus two further nominations in subsequent years. In 2003, the album went platinum in Australia, and since then the band has released four albums and a best-of compilation from their time at Capitol Records. The Vines have released six studio albums to date.

Autumn ‘68 by Pink Floyd – This song is from Pink Floyd’s The Endless River, the fifteenth and final studio album by the English rock band. It was released in November of 2014. It was the third Pink Floyd album led by guitarist and singer David Gilmour following Roger Waters’ departure in 1985 and the first following the death of keyboardist Rick Wright in 2008, who appears posthumously.

The Endless River album consists almost entirely of instrumental and ambient music based on material Pink Floyd wrote, recorded and produced with Wright during sessions for their previous album The Division Bell (1994). New material was recorded in 2013 and 2014 aboard Gilmour’s Astoria boat studio and in Medina Studios in Hove, England.

Background: After the departure of founding member Roger Waters in 1985 and his failed attempt to dissolve the band, guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour became the leader of Pink Floyd. He and drummer Nick Mason invited keyboardist Richard Wright back to the band after Waters had fired him during the recording of The Wall (1979). Under Gilmour’s leadership, Pink Floyd recorded two studio albums: A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987) and The Division Bell (1994). The latter saw a greater participation from Wright, who shared his first writing credits on a Pink Floyd album since Wish You Were Here (1975), and recorded his first lead vocal since The Dark Side of the Moon (1973). The sessions were held in 1993 and 1994 in Britannia Row Studios in London and aboard the Astoria boat studio.

Wright died of an undisclosed form of cancer on September 15, 2008 at the age of 65. Tributes to Wright included statements from Gilmour, Mason and Waters, performances by artists such as Elton John and television and radio specials.

In 2012, Gilmour and Mason decided to revisit recordings made with Wright prior to his death in 2008 to create a new Pink Floyd album. Gilmour said: “Over the last year we’ve added new parts, re-recorded others and generally harnessed studio technology to make a 21st-century Pink Floyd album. With Rick gone, and with him the chance of ever doing it again, it feels right that these revisited and reworked tracks should be made available as part of our repertoire.”

Bassist and songwriter Roger Waters, who left Pink Floyd in 1985, was not involved in the recording. Gilmour stated that he was “pretty certain” that The Endless River would be the final Pink Floyd album. The Endless River album, according to Gilmour, is “a continuous flow of music that builds gradually over four separate pieces.” It is made up of mostly ambient and instrumental music. Gilmour told Mojo:

“Unapologetically, this is for the generation that wants to put its headphones on, lie in a beanbag, or whatever, and get off on a piece of music for an extended period of time. You could say it’s not for the iTunes, downloading-individual-tracks generation.”

Mason described the album as a tribute to Wright:

“I think this record is a good way of recognizing a lot of what he does and how his playing was at the heart of the Pink Floyd sound. Listening back to the sessions, it really brought home to me what a special player he was.”

“Autumn ’68” features a recording of Rick Wright playing the Royal Albert Hall‘s pipe organ in 1968. The track also has additional keyboards, added more recently by Damon Iddins. The video here is a wonderful tribute to Wright: it is Richard playing that mighty pipe organ at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Pretty amazing sound. Be sure to give it a watch. 

Autumn by the Edgar Winter Group – Edgar Winter is an American rock and blues musician. I didn’t realize that he and his older brother Johnny are Texas boys, both born in Beaumont. By the time Edgar Winter left his hometown in the 1960s, he was already a proficient musician. He is known for being a multi-instrumentalist — keyboardist, guitarist, saxophonist and percussionist — as well as a singer. His success peaked in the 1970s with his band, The Edgar Winter Group.

In late 1972, Winter brought together Dan Hartman, Ronnie Montrose and Chuck Ruff to form The Edgar Winter Group, who created such hits as the number one “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride” (with lead vocals by its writer Dan Hartman). These hits were on their album They Only Come Out at Night, released in November 1972. The album peaked at the number 3 position on the Billboard Hot 200 and stayed on the charts for an impressive 80 weeks. It was certified gold in April 1973 by the RIAA and double platinum in November 1986.

In addition to “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride”, the song “Autumn”, a ballad written by Dan Hartman, is also on this album. “Autumn” was a regional radio hit in New England.

Autumn in New York by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong – “Autumn in New York” is a jazz standard composed by Vernon Duke in 1934 for the Broadway musical Thumbs Up! which opened on December 27, 1934, performed by J. Harold Murray. Many versions of the song have been recorded over the years by numerous musicians and singers. The only version to achieve chart success as a single in the USA was that by Frank Sinatra which reached No. 27 in 1949.

Jazz versions have been performed by Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Stan Kenton, Sarah Vaughan and Sheila Jordan. A duet of the song was also recorded by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald and is the one that I decided to showcase here.

I liked this song because, unlike so many of the others presented here that seem to have an air of melancholy and sadness, “Autumn in New York” promises hope and new love and new adventures. And that is precisely how I feel about the Autumn season: it’s tantalizing, fascinating, beautiful, cozy and homey. Who doesn’t want to feel that?!

 

Here is a picture slideshow of autumn in my hometown,

Niagara Falls & Western New York. 

Oh how I miss these breathtaking views!

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Oh, I have one more song that kinda fits this seasonal theme. It’s called:

The Boys of Fall by Kenny Chesney – “The Boys of Fall” is a song written by Casey Beathard and Dave Turnbull and recorded by American country music artist Kenny Chesney. It was released in July 2010 as the lead single from his 12th studio album Hemingway’s Whiskey.

Not only does the title reflect the Autumn season but the song is about the one thing that really excites me most at the end of August: the beginning of football season! When football season starts, I know that, finally, Fall is upon us and that cooler weather is headed our way. The beginning of football season is like that light at the end of the long, hot hot summer tunnel…

Specifically, the song talks about playing high school football. Chesney says the song “is a perfect description of how I grew up and where I grew up.”

Matt Bjorke of Roughstock gave the song a four-out-of-five stars review, saying that if the song “is an indication as to where Hemingway’s Whiskey is going,” he predicts that Chesney has a “monster of an upcoming album.”

The music video debuted on August 2, 2010 on ESPN’s SportsCenter. It features many famous football players and coaches talking about their experiences playing high school football and advice they would give to kids, as well as clips of famous players and coaches from the college and professional ranks, past and present. Directed by Shaun Silva, the video is over eight minutes in length.

Much of the video was shot in and around Celina, Texas, specifically at Celina High School’s football stadium (Celina High is one of the state’s dominant football teams, having won or co-won eight state titles). Other scenes were filmed in Naperville, Illinois, at the Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, Tennessee, Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tennessee, and at Gibbs High School in Tennessee, where Chesney played football.

I think I’ll end this post with my favorite Fall fight song:

GO BILLS!

 

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Happy Autumn Everyone!

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by JAmerican Spice, Stacy Uncorked and Curious as a Cathy.  Be sure to stop by the hosts and visit the other participants.

 

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me – 9/11 Tribute Songs

Today’s Monday’s Music Moves Me theme is appropriately timed given the date. Songs featured today are 9/11 tribute songs, in remembrance of all those lost and all those who helped during the most heinous attack in U.S. history when nineteen militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks that killed 2,997 people, injured over 6,000 others and caused at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage.

The following songs serve to honor brave souls who will always be thought of as heroes in the wake of this tragedy and to share reactions after the horrid event.  For those of you who know me, it should be no surprise that my first song choice honors a 9/11 canine hero. Let’s start with the story of Roselle, the yellow Labrador guide dog:

Roselle by Michael Gaither – Computer sales manager Michael Hingson was at his desk on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower on the morning of 9/11 when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the other side of the building, 18 floors above. And he lived to tell the tale because of his guide dog, Roselle.

The yellow lab calmly guided her blind charge and 30 other people down 1,463 steps out of the building. After descending over half the distance, they passed the firemen who were heading up, who Roselle stopped to greet. The descent took just over an hour. Just after they exited the tower, Tower 2 collapsed, sending debris flying. Hingson later said, “While everyone ran in panic, Roselle remained totally focused on her job, while debris fell around us, and even hit us, Roselle stayed calm.” Once clear, Roselle led her owner to the safety of a subway station, where they helped a woman who had been blinded by falling debris. Once they arrived home, Roselle immediately began playing with her retired guide dog predecessor, Linnie, as if nothing important had happened.

A few months after 9/11, after making the talk show rounds with Roselle by his side, Hingson was offered a job as national public affairs director for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Roselle accompanied him on trips around the world until she retired.

In 2004, Roselle was diagnosed with immune-mediated thrombocytopenia, but medications were able to control the condition. In March 2007 she retired from guiding after it was discovered that the medication was beginning to damage her kidneys. She continued to live with Hingson, who was assigned a new guide dog, Africa. On June 24, 2011, Hingson suspected that something was wrong with Roselle and took her to her local vet, who diagnosed her with a stomach ulcer. Roselle died two days later on June 26, at 8:52 pm.

In her memory, Hingson wrote a book of their 9/11 experience entitled Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero and set up Roselle’s Dream Foundation, a 501c3 charitable foundation to raise money to help vision-impaired people engage more fully in everyday life. Roselle went on to be posthumously named American Hero Dog of the Year 2011 by the American Humane Society.

Roselle Thunder Dog

Roselle with her Dickin Medal. Roselle and Salty, another guide dog who was also with his owner at the WTC, were awarded a joint Dickin Medal by the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals on March 5, 2002. The medal citation reads, “For remaining loyally at the side of their blind owners, courageously leading them down more than 70 floors of the World Trade Center and to a place of safety following the terrorist attack on New York on 11 September 2001.”

Roselle (March 12, 1998 – June 26, 2011) was born in San Rafael, California, on March 12, 1998, at the Guide Dogs for the Blind. She was moved to Santa Barbara, California, to be raised by Kay and Ted Stern. After this she was returned to Guide Dogs for the Blind so that she could be trained as a guide dog. Roselle and her owner, Michael Hingson, first met on November 22, 1999. She was Hingson’s fifth guide dog.

Micheal Hingson and his hero guide dog Roselle

Here is the song written and recorded by Michael Gaither in Roselle’s honor:

And here’s a live acoustic performance by Michael Gaither:

 

Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning by Allen Jackson – “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” is a song written by the American singer-songwriter Alan Jackson. It was the lead single from his tenth studio album, Drive (2002). The song’s lyrics center on reactions to the September 11 attacks in the United States, written in the form of questions. Jackson desired to write a song capturing the emotions surrounding the attacks, but found it difficult to do so.

Jackson had finished walking outside and returned indoors to discover news of the attacks on television. He immediately wanted to write a song expressing his thoughts and emotions, but he found it hard to do so for many weeks. “I didn’t want to write a patriotic song,” Jackson said. “And I didn’t want it to be vengeful, either. But I didn’t want to forget about how I felt and how I knew other people felt that day.”

Finally, on the Sunday morning of October 28, 2001, he woke up at 4 a.m. with the melody, opening lines, and chorus going through his mind. He hastily got out of bed, still in his underwear, and sang them into a hand-held digital recorder so he would not forget them. Later that morning, when his wife and children had gone to Sunday school, he sat down in his study and completed the lyrics.

Initially, he felt squeamish about recording it, much less releasing it, because he disliked the idea of capitalizing on a tragedy. But after he played it for his wife Denise and for his producer, Keith Stegall, and it met with their approval, Jackson went into the studio to record “Where Were You” that week. On Stegall’s advice, Jackson played the finished track for a group of executives at his record label. “We just kind of looked at one another,” RCA Label Group chairman Joe Galante said later. “Nobody spoke for a full minute.”

He debuted the song publicly at the Country Music Association’s annual awards show on November 7, 2001. It was released that month as a single and topped the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart for five weeks; in addition, it reached number 28 on Billboard’s all-genre Hot 100 chart. The song received largely positive reviews from critics, who appreciated its simple, largely apolitical stance. The song won multiple awards at the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association Awards, including Song of the Year, and also earned Jackson his first Grammy Award for Best Country Song.

 

Tuesday Morning by Melissa Etheridge – “Tuesday Morning” from Melissa Etheridge’s eighth album Lucky is dedicated to the memory of Mark Bingham, his family and friends, paying tribute to all the heroes of 9/11.

Mark Bingham – 9/11 Hero from United Airlines Flight 93

Mark Kendall Bingham (May 22, 1970 – September 11, 2001) was an American public relations executive who founded his own company, the Bingham Group. During the September 11 attacks in 2001, he was a passenger on board United Airlines Flight 93. Bingham was among the passengers who, along with Todd Beamer, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick, formed the plan to retake the plane from the hijackers, and led the effort that resulted in the crash of the plane into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, thwarting the hijackers plan to crash the plane into a building in Washington, D.C., most likely either the U.S. Capitol Building or the White House.

Both for his presence on United 93, as well as his athletic physique, Bingham has been widely honored posthumously for having “smashed the gay stereotype mold and really opened the door to many others who came after him.”

From Wikipedia: On the morning of September 11, Bingham overslept and nearly missed his flight, on his way to San Francisco to be an usher in his fraternity brother Joseph Salama’s wedding. He arrived at the Terminal A at 7:40am, ran to Gate 17, and was the last passenger to board United Airlines Flight 93, taking seat 4D, next to passenger Tom Burnett.

United Flight 93 was scheduled to depart at 8:00am, but the Boeing 757 did not depart until 42 minutes later due to runway traffic delays. Four minutes later, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center’s North Tower. Fifteen minutes later, at 9:03 am, as United Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower, United 93 was climbing to cruising altitude, heading west over New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. At 9:25 am, Flight 93 was above eastern Ohio, and pilots Jason Dahl and LeRoy Homer received an alert, “beware of cockpit intrusion,” on the cockpit computer device ACARS (Aircraft Communications and Reporting System). Three minutes later, Cleveland controllers could hear screams over the cockpit’s open microphone. Moments later, the hijackers, led by the Lebanese Ziad Samir Jarrah, took over the plane’s controls, disengaged the autopilot, and told passengers, “Keep remaining sitting. We have a bomb on board”. Bingham and the other passengers were herded into the back of the plane. The curtain between first class and second class had been drawn, at which point the pilot and co-pilot were seen lying dead on the floor just outside the curtain, their throats having been cut. Within six minutes, the plane changed course and was heading for Washington, D.C. Several of the passengers made phone calls to loved ones, who informed them about the two planes that had crashed into the World Trade Center. Bingham phoned his mother, reporting that his plane had been hijacked and relaying his love for her. According to Hoglan, Bingham said: “Hi mom, I love you very much, I’m calling you from the plane. We’ve been taking over. There are three men that say that they have a bomb.”

After the hijackers veered the plane sharply south, the passengers decided to act. Bingham, along with Todd Beamer, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick, formed a plan to take the plane back from the hijackers. They were joined by other passengers, including Lou Nacke, Rich Guadagno, Alan Beaven, Honor Elizabeth Wainio, Linda Gronlund, and William Cashman, along with flight attendants Sandra Bradshaw and Cee Cee Ross-Lyles, in discussing their options and voting on a course of action, ultimately deciding to storm the cockpit and take over the plane.

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, after the plane’s voice data recorder was recovered, it revealed pounding and crashing sounds against the cockpit door and shouts and screams in English. “Let’s get them!” a passenger cries. A hijacker shouts, “Allah akbar!” (“God is great”). Jarrah repeatedly pitched the plane to knock passengers off their feet, but the passengers apparently managed to invade the cockpit, where one was heard shouting, “In the cockpit. If we don’t, we’ll die.” At 10:02 am, a hijacker ordered, “Pull it down! Pull it down!” The 9/11 Commission later reported that the plane’s control wheel was turned hard to the right, causing it to roll on its back and plow into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 580 miles an hour, killing everyone on board. The plane was twenty minutes of flying time away from its suspected target, the White House or the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. According to Vice President Dick Cheney, President George W. Bush had given the order to shoot the plane down had it continued its path to Washington.

 

Have You Forgotten? by Darryl Worley –  “Have You Forgotten?” is a song about the September 11 attacks recorded by American country music artist Darryl Worley, who wrote it with Wynn Varble. It was released in March 2003 as the first single and title track from his 2003 compilation of the same name. It was No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs for seven weeks, reaching it after five weeks on the chart, and peaked at number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it Worley’s biggest mainstream hit.

Darryl Worley and Wynn Varble wrote the song as “sort of a rallying call” in the wake of the events of 9/11 and the early days of the war in Afghanistan. They felt their own patriotic spirits rising and thought, “There’s probably a bunch of people that feel this way. Let’s find out.”

A controversy surrounding the song arose, however, which held that the message contained in it was an accusation that those who disagreed with the US involvement in Afghanistan had “forgotten” about 9/11. Many felt the war would do nothing to help the anti-terrorist cause, and resented the implication.

But Worley maintains that his message was meant as a supportive one for the victims of 9/11, their families, and the veterans and troops whom he so vigorously and actively supports.

 

Freedom by Paul McCartney – “Freedom” is a song written and recorded by Paul McCartney in response to the September 11 attacks in 2001. McCartney was in New York City at the time of the attacks and witnessed the event while sitting in a plane parked on the tarmac at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.

McCartney wanted Americans to help their fellow citizens by buying “Freedom” and donated all proceeds to 9/11 victims. He also wrote anonymous checks to several New York police officers to help them with medical recovery.

The song was featured at the Super Bowl XXXVI pregame show with a Statue of Liberty tapestry rising up in the background as a tribute to the victims of 9/11. McCartney performed the song frequently on his 2002 Driving USA Tour, with most of the proceeds from the tour going to victims of 9/11. The song also appeared on the live album Back in the U.S.

 

 

Here’s my 9/11 Tribute Songs playlist for continuous play:

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by JAmerican Spice, Stacy Uncorked and Curious as a Cathy.  Be sure to stop by the hosts and visit the other participants.