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

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

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

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

The Welcome to My Zoo playlist songs include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The Funny Farm

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

 

Dead Skunk by Loudon Wainwright III – a 1972 novelty song

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brown Chicken, Brown Cow by Trace Adkins – “Brown Chicken Brown Cow” is a song recorded by American country artist Trace Adkins. It was released in January 2011 as the third and final single and the opening track from his ninth studio album Cowboy’s Back in Town. “Brown Chicken Brown Cow,” takes Adkins’ video catalog to a whole new level — puppets.

Adkins, who serves as the narrator during the video, sings a tale of two lovers, Bobby Jo and Betty (also puppets), who make a habit of running off to the barn for some alone time. The farm animals, including the brown chicken and brown cow, have front row seats to their farmers’ escapades.

The song, which uses a sexual innuendo on “bow chicka bow wow” (an onomatopoeia for music in pornography), was withdrawn after only nine weeks, and Adkins later apologized for releasing it.

The song is actually the punch line to a sexual joke — the online Urban Dictionary refers to “brown chicken brown cow” as “an onomatopoeic imitation of the guitar riff commonly used in 1970’s porn movies.” Despite its adult-themed lyrical content, Atkins was not afraid to release it. “I kinda pushed for that to be the first single,” from his new album, he told GAC. “I said, ‘Let’s just throw a hand grenade in the room right off the get-go.’ I said, ‘It’s a dangerous record. I know that, but I’m not afraid of it.’ Everybody else by committee was kinda like ‘Oh, I don’t know about that.’”

I included more details on the making of the song and the public and professional flack that Adkins received because of it in my Kaleidoscope of Color Songs – Brown Edition post. Take a jump over there if you want to read more about this hilarious song.

 

The Beatles Block of Animal Rock

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

The playlist features the following Beatles classics:

Hey Bulldog – from Yellow Submarine, 1969

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Pigs on the Wing (Part 1)

Dogs

Pigs (3 Different Ones)

Sheep

Pigs on the Wing (Part 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Album Personnel:

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

 

THAT’S A WRAP!

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

And don’t forget: Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by Marie of X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by Cathy of Curious as a Cathy and Stacy of Stacy Uncorked Two other co-hosts recently joined the fun: Alana of Ramlin’ with AM and Naila Moon of Musings & Merriment with Michelle. Be sure to stop by and visit the hosts and the other participants listed below:

 

 

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me: SONGS IN SIGN LANGUAGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Sign Language Interpreter Owns This Slayer Concert

Followed by this:

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Badfinger 1971

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Everyday in your indigo eyes

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

Moonlight and stars in your strawberry wine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In their 1991 boxed set, Stills said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the translation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So now I’m goin’ back again,

I got to get to her somehow…

(and ends):

We always did feel the same,

We just saw it from a different point of view,

Tangled up in blue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allman Brothers Band 1972

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other meanings associated with the color blue:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                         Lyrics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In a later interview, LaFlamme said:

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

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

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

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

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

artwork by Kendrick Shakleford

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foreigner in 1978

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other meanings associated with the color white:

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

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

 

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

Monday’s Music Moves Me – A Throwback to Childhood with Some of My Favorite Films of That Era

Today’s Monday’s Music Moves Me theme is from this month’s Conductor, Alana with Ramblin’ with AM. She wanted us to focus on TV or Movie Theme Songs from our childhood. Since I already did an extensive collection of Classic TV Show Theme Songs in my 2016 A-Z Challenge, I opted to focus this post on a few of my favorite movies from childhood. So here are a few movies that I remember fondly from back in the 60s, listed in no particular order:

The Incredible Mr. LimpetThe Incredible Mr. Limpet is a 1964 American live-action/animated adventure film from Warner Bros. It is about a man named Henry Limpet who turns into a talking fish resembling a tilefish and helps the U.S. Navy locate and destroy Nazi submarines. Don Knotts plays the title character. The live action was directed by Arthur Lubin, while the animation was directed by Bill Tytla, Robert McKimson, Hawley Pratt, and Gerry Chiniquy. Music includes songs by Sammy Fain, in collaboration with Harold Adamson, including “I Wish I Were a Fish,” “Be Careful How You Wish,” and “Deep Rapture.” 

The Incredible Mr. Limpet movie poster

The story begins September 1941 just before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Shy bookkeeper Henry Limpet loves fish with a passion. When his friend George Stickle enlists in the United States Navy, Limpet attempts to enlist as well, but is rejected. Feeling downcast, he wanders down to a pier near Coney Island and accidentally falls into the water. Inexplicably, he finds he has turned into a fish. Since he never resurfaces, his wife, Bessie, and George assume he has drowned.

The fish Limpet, complete with his signature pince-nez spectacles, discovers a new-found ability during some of his initial misadventures, a powerful underwater roar, his “thrum”. He falls in love with a female fish he names Ladyfish, the concept of names being unknown to her, and makes friends with a misanthropic hermit crab named Crusty.

Still determined to help the Navy, Limpet finds a convoy and requests to see George. With George’s help, Limpet gets himself commissioned by the Navy, complete with advancing rank and a salary, which he sends to Bessie. He helps the Navy locate Nazi U-boats by signaling with his “thrum”, and plays a large part in the Allied victory in the Battle of the Atlantic. In his final mission, he is nearly killed when the Nazis develop a “thrum” seeking torpedo, and is further handicapped by the loss of his spectacles. He manages to survive using Crusty as his “navigator”, and sinks a number of U-boats by redirecting the torpedoes. After the battle, he swims to Coney Island to say goodbye to Bessie (who has now fallen in love with George) and gets a replacement set of glasses. He then swims off with Ladyfish.

In the film’s coda, set in the modern times of 1964, George (now a high ranking naval officer) and the Admiral are presented with a report that Mr. Limpet is still alive and working with porpoises. The two men travel out to sea to contact Mr. Limpet and offer him a commission in the United States Navy. It is unknown what became of the conversation, for the movie ends with a question mark.

 

The Jungle Book The Jungle Book is a 1967 American animated musical comedy adventure film produced by Walt Disney Productions. Inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s book of the same name, it is the 19th Disney animated feature film. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, it was the last film to be produced by Walt Disney, who died during its production. The plot follows Mowgli, a feral child raised in the Indian jungle by wolves, as his friends Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear try to convince him to leave the jungle before the evil tiger Shere Khan arrives.

The early versions of both the screenplay and the soundtrack followed Kipling’s work more closely, with a dramatic, dark, and sinister tone which Disney did not want in his family film, leading to writer Bill Peet and composer Terry Gilkyson being replaced. The casting employed famous actors and musicians Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, George Sanders and Louis Prima, as well as Disney regulars such as Sterling Holloway, J. Pat O’Malley and Verna Felton, and the director’s son, Bruce Reitherman, as Mowgli.

The Jungle Book movie poster

The Jungle Book was released on October 18, 1967, to positive reception, with acclaim for its soundtrack, featuring five songs by the Sherman Brothers and one by Gilkyson, “The Bare Necessities”. The film initially became Disney’s second highest-grossing animated film in the United States and Canada, and was also successful during its re-releases. The film was also successful throughout the world, becoming Germany’s highest-grossing film by number of admissions. Disney released a live-action remake in 1994 and an animated sequel, The Jungle Book 2, in 2003; another live-action adaptation directed by Jon Favreau was released in 2016.

The Jungle Book Soundtrack: The instrumental music was written by George Bruns and orchestrated by Walter Sheets. Interestingly, two of the cues were reused from previous Disney films. The scene where Mowgli wakes up after escaping King Louie used one of Bruns’ themes for Sleeping Beauty; and the scene where Bagheera gives a eulogy to Baloo when he mistakenly thinks the bear was killed by Shere Khan used Paul J. Smith’s organ score from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The score features eight original songs: seven by the Sherman Brothers and one by Terry Gilkyson. Longtime Disney collaborator Gilkyson was the first songwriter to bring several complete songs which followed the book closely but Walt Disney felt that his efforts were too dark. The only piece of Gilkyson’s work which survived to the final film was his upbeat tune “The Bare Necessities”, which was liked by the rest of the film crew. The Sherman Brothers were then brought in to do a complete rewrite. Disney asked the siblings if they had read Kipling’s book and they replied that they had done so “a long, long time ago” and that they had also seen the 1942 version by Alexander Korda. Disney said the “nice, mysterious, heavy stuff” from both works was not what he aimed for, instead going for a “lightness, a Disney touch”. Disney frequently brought the composers to the storyline sessions. He asked them to “find scary places and write fun songs” for their compositions that fit in with the story and advanced the plot instead of being interruptive.

Bare Necessities: In 1967, “The Bare Necessities” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

 

101 DalmatiansOne Hundred and One Dalmatians, often abbreviated as 101 Dalmatians, is a 1961 American animated adventure film produced by Walt Disney and based on the 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. The 17th Disney animated feature film, the film tells the story of a litter of Dalmatian puppies who are kidnapped by the villainous Cruella de Vil, who wants to use their fur to make into coats. Their parents, Pongo and Perdita, set out to save their children from Cruella, all the while rescuing 84 additional puppies that were bought in pet shops, bringing the total of Dalmatians to 101.

101 Dalmatians original movie poster

Originally released to theaters on January 25, 1961, by Buena Vista Distribution, One Hundred and One Dalmatians was a box office success, pulling the studio out of the financial slump caused by Sleeping Beauty, a costlier production released two years prior. Aside from its box office revenue, its commercial success was due to the employment of inexpensive animation techniques—such as using xerography during the process of inking and painting traditional animation cells—that kept production costs down. It was remade into a live action film in 1996.

Interesting tidbits on the Cruella de Vil name: Per Wikipedia, Cruella’s name is a pun of the words cruel and devil, an allusion which is emphasized by having her country house nicknamed “Hell Hall”. In some translations, for instance in Polish, Cruella De Vil is known as “Cruella De Mon”, a play on “demon”. In Italian, she is called “Crudelia De Mon” (a pun on “crudele”, cruel, and “demone”, demon). In the French translation of the Disney’s animated movie, she is referred as “Cruella D’Enfer” (Literally, Cruella of Hell or from Hell). In Dutch, the name remains “De Vil”, while by coincidence the Dutch verb for skinning is “Villen” and “Vil” is the conjugation of this verb for the first person singular. In the Brazilian and Portuguese translations, Cruella is known as “Cruela Cruel”, which straightforwardly stems from “cruel”.

The name “de Vil” is also a literary allusion to Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). In the novel, the realty firm Mitchell, Sons & Candy write a letter, dated 1 October, to Lord Godalming, informing him that the purchaser of a house in Piccadilly, London is “a foreign nobleman, Count De Ville”. Count De Ville, however, proves to be an alias for Count Dracula himself.

It is also believed that the inspiration for the name began in 1939 when Dodie Smith purchased a new Rolls-Royce 25/30 “Sedanca de Ville” motorcar in which she and her pet Dalmatian “Pongo” frequently travelled, which also formed the basis of the cartoon imagery of Cruella’s own motorcar.

Here is my favorite song from the movie:

 

The Love Bug (Herbie, the Love Bug)The Love Bug (sometimes referred to as Herbie the Love Bug) is a 1968 American comedy film and the first in a series of films made by Walt Disney Productions that starred an anthropomorphic pearl-white, fabric-sun-roofed 1963 Volkswagen racing Beetle named Herbie. It was based on the 1961 book Car, Boy, Girl by Gordon Buford.

I can’t be positive about this but Herbie, the Love Bug may have been my very first drive-in movie that I ever saw. I used to love going to the drive-in! That was a big treat as a kid and I totally remember seeing Herbie the Love Bug at the Starlite Drive-In on Military Road in Town of Niagara. I remember those drive-in trips: being dressed in my pajamas, Dad pulling in and paying for our tickets at the gate then driving slowly over the gravel to find the most perfect spot. Then, once there, grabbing that big clunky metal speaker and hanging it on the window ledge and testing out the sound. Sometimes we’d have to move because the speaker sound crackled and sucked so we’d drive around until we found a decent-sounding speaker. We’d always arrive in time for the pre-movie cartoons and the concession stand ads with their animated snacks reminding you to hurry to the snack bar to get your popcorn, candy and pop before the show started. And wasn’t there always a double-feature at the drive-in? Because there was always intermission, when we’d get to jump out of the car and run across the gravel parking lot to use the restrooms real quick…and maybe, if we were lucky, grab another snack!

For those who might want to take a little trip back in time to the drive-ins of yesteryear here are some classic snack bar (“refreshment center”) ads you probably saw way back when…

I apologize for that little aside, I just had to talk about seeing Herbie at the drive-in! Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming:

The movie follows the adventures of Herbie, Herbie’s driver, Jim Douglas (Dean Jones), and Jim’s love interest, Carole Bennett (Michele Lee). It also features Buddy Hackett as Jim’s enlightened, kind-hearted friend, Tennessee Steinmetz, a character who creates “art” from used car parts. English actor David Tomlinson portrays the villainous Peter Thorndyke, owner of an auto showroom and an SCCA national champion who sells Herbie to Jim and eventually becomes Jim’s racing rival.

Fun Facts about the movie:

  • Dean Jones credited the film’s success to the fact that it was the last live action Disney film produced under Walt Disney’s involvement, released just two years after his death in 1966. Although Jones tried to pitch him a serious, straightforward film project concerning the story of the first sports car ever brought to the United States, Walt suggested a different car story for him, which was Car, Boy, Girl, a story written in 1961 by Gordon Buford.
  • Car, Boy, Girl; The Magic Volksy; The Runaway Wagen; Beetlebomb; Wonderbeetle; Bugboom and Thunderbug were among the original development titles considered for the film before the title was finalized as The Love Bug.
  • Herbie competes in the Monterey Grand Prix, which, except for 1963, was not a sports car race. The actual sports car race held at Monterey was the Monterey Sports Car Championships.
  • Peter Thorndyke’s yellow “Special” is actually a 1965 Apollo GT, a rare sports car built in the United States by International Motorcars in Oakland, California. It used an Italian-designed body along with a small-block Buick V8 engine. This car exists today, is in the hands of a private collector, and has been restored as it was seen in the film with its yellow paint and number 14 logo.

“Herbie”         

Before film began production, the titular car was not specified as a Volkswagen Beetle, and Disney set up a casting call for a dozen cars to audition. In the lineup, there were a few Toyotas, a TVR, a handful of Volvos, an MG and a pearl white Volkswagen Beetle. I love this: The Volkswagen Beetle was chosen as it was the only one that elicited the crew to reach out and pet it. Lol. That is classic!

The Volkswagen brand name, logo or shield does not feature anywhere in the film, as the automaker did not permit Disney to use the name. The only logos can be briefly seen in at least two places, however. The first instance is on the brake pedals during the first scene where Herbie takes control with Jim inside (on the freeway when Herbie runs into Thorndyke’s Rolls Royce), and in fact it is shown in all the future scenes when Jim is braking. The second instance is on the ignition key, when Jim tries to shut down the braking Herbie. The later sequels produced, however, do promote the Volkswagen name (as sales of the Beetle were down when the sequels were produced). The VW “Wolfsburg” castle emblem on the steering wheel hub is also seen throughout the car’s interior shots. Within the script, the car was only ever referred to as “Herbie”, “the small car” or “the Bug”—the latter, although a common nickname for the Beetle, was not trademarked by Volkswagen at the time of filming.

The car was later given the name “Herbie” from one of Buddy Hackett’s skits about a ski instructor named Klaus, who speaks with a German accent as he introduces his fellow ski instructors, who are named Hans, Fritz, Wilhelm, and Sandor. At the end of the skit, Hackett would say “If you ain’t got a Herbie (pronounced “hoy-bee”), I ain’t going.”

Herbie’s trademark “53” racing number was chosen by producer Bill Walsh, who was a fan of Los Angeles Dodgers baseball player Don Drysdale (Drysdale’s jersey number, later retired by the team in 1984, was 53).

Walsh also gave Herbie his trademark red, white and blue racing stripes presumably for the more patriotic color and came up with the film’s gags such as Herbie squirting oil and opening the doors by himself.

Herbie has his own cast billing in the closing credits, the only time this was done in the entire series of films.

Today, only a handful of the original Herbie cars are known to exist. Car #10 was recovered from a warehouse in Pennsylvania, and has been preserved—still sporting its original paint from the film.

The film was the third highest-grossing film of 1968, earning over $51.2 million at the domestic box office.

NOTE: The Theme song below is from the 1974 movie Herbie Rides Again (but it’s the same song as in the original)

 

Winnie the Pooh Featurettes: I’ve always been a fan of Winnie the Pooh. Instead of feature length films, Winnie the Pooh’s claim to Big Screen fame came in several featurettes (24 to 40 minute run-time movies; longer than a “short” but shorter than a feature film). The three featurettes from my childhood are:

Winnie the Pooh and the Honey TreeWinnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree is a 1966 animated featurette based on the first two chapters of the book Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne. The film was produced by Walt Disney Productions. Its songs were written by the Sherman Brothers (Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman) and the score was composed and conducted by Buddy Baker.

One of theatrical release posters (notice the different designs of Piglet and Tigger, who weren’t in the film, more closely resembling their appearance in the E.H. Shepherd illustrations):

This featurette was shown alongside the live-action feature The Ugly Dachshund, and was later included as a segment in the 1977 compilation film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery DayWinnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day is a 1968 animated featurette based on the third, fifth, ninth, and tenth chapters from Winnie-the-Pooh and the second, eighth, and ninth chapters from The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne. The featurette was produced by Walt Disney Productions and released by Buena Vista Distribution Company on December 20, 1968 as a double feature with The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit. This was the second of the studio’s Winnie the Pooh shorts. It was later added as a segment to the 1977 film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The music was written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. It was notable for being the last animated short produced by Walt Disney, who died during its production.

Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day won the 1968 Academy Award for Animated Short Film. The Academy Award was awarded posthumously to Walt Disney, who died of lung cancer two years before the film’s initial release. It is also the only Winnie the Pooh production that won an Academy Award. (Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too, which was released six years later in 1974, was nominated for the same Academy Award, but lost to Closed Mondays).

The animated featurette also served as an inspiration for the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride in Walt Disney World in which the rider experiences several scenes from the cartoon, including Pooh’s Heffalump and Woozle dream.

Winnie the Pooh and Tigger TooWinnie the Pooh and Tigger Too is a 1974 animated featurette from Disney released as a double feature with The Island at the Top of the World. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, but lost to Closed Mondays. It was later added as a segment to the 1977 film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. A soundtrack album was released simultaneously and featured such songs as “The Honey Tree” and “Birthday, Birthday.” The film, whose name is a play on the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too” made famous during the 1840 United States presidential election, is based on the third, fourth and seventh chapters from The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne.

And in case you don’t remember: the proper way to spell his name is: “T-I-double-guh-err, that spells Tigger.”

Here is a playlist of all the songs from the original 1977 film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh:

 

Flipper Flipper is an American feature film released on August 14, 1963 written by Arthur Weiss based upon a story by Ricou Browning and Jack Cowden. Produced by Ivan Tors and directed by James B. Clark, it portrays a 12-year-old boy living with his parents in the Florida Keys, who befriends an injured wild dolphin. The lad and his pet become inseparable, eventually overcoming the misgivings of his fisherman father.

Flipper 1963 movie poster

The film introduced the popular song “Flipper”, by Dunham and Henry Vars and inspired the subsequent television series of the same name (1964–1967) and film sequels. The film received good reviews.

Co-creator Ricou Browning said that he originally conceived the story after seeing his children intently watching the TV series Lassie, which inspired Browning to create a similar story with a dolphin in place of the dog. After he sent the story to his friend, producer Ivan Tors, Tors expressed interest in making it into a movie.

A film sequel, Flipper’s New Adventure, (known in some countries as Flipper and the Pirates) was filmed in late 1963 and released in June 1964 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film, released before the TV series premiered, received good reviews and outdid the first film with more audience attendance.

Flipper’s New Adventure movie poster

That same year, a television series inspired by the movie Flipper began and ran until 1967. A 1990s television revival featured Jessica Alba. In 1996, a movie remake was released, Flipper, starring Paul Hogan and Elijah Wood.

I used to watch the TV series all the time which sparked my love of dolphins. This description is based on the TV series, not the movies:

Flipper, from Ivan Tors Films in association with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Television, is an American television program first broadcast on NBC from September 19, 1964, until April 15, 1967. Flipper, a bottlenose dolphin, is the companion animal of Porter Ricks, Chief Warden at fictional Coral Key Park and Marine Preserve in southern Florida, and his two young sons Sandy and Bud.

The show has been dubbed an “aquatic Lassie”, and a considerable amount of juvenile merchandise inspired by the show was produced during its first-run. The television show is an adaptation of the 1963 film Flipper starring Chuck Connors and Luke Halpin as Porter and Sandy Ricks, and its 1964 sequel, Flipper’s New Adventure, where Brian Kelly took over the role of Porter.

In adapting the films to a television series, the producers made Porter a single parent and gave him a second son named Bud, played by Tommy Norden. The producers departed yet again from the films in endowing Flipper with an unnatural degree of intelligence and an extraordinary understanding of human motives, behavior, and vocabulary.

 

Born FreeBorn Free is a 1966 British drama film starring Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers as Joy and George Adamson, a real-life couple who raised Elsa the Lioness, an orphaned lion cub, to adulthood, and released her into the wilderness of Kenya. The film was produced by Open Road Films Ltd. and Columbia Pictures. The screenplay, written by blacklisted Hollywood writer Lester Cole (under the pseudonym “Gerald L.C. Copley”), was based upon Joy Adamson’s 1960 non-fiction book Born Free. The film was directed by James Hill and produced by Sam Jaffe and Paul Radin. Born Free, and its musical score by John Barry, won numerous awards.

When George Adamson is forced to kill a lion, after the lion kills a native villager, and then George kills a lioness out of self-defense, he brings home the three orphaned cubs she had been trying to protect. The Adamsons tend to the three orphaned lion cubs to young lionhood, and, when the time comes, the two largest are sent to the Rotterdam Zoo, while Elsa the Lioness (the smallest of the litter) remains with Joy. When Elsa is held responsible for stampeding a herd of elephants through a village, John Kendall, Adamson’s boss, gives the couple three months to either rehabilitate Elsa to the wild, or send her to a zoo. Joy opposes sending Elsa to a zoo, and spends much time attempting to reintroduce Elsa to the life of a wild lion in a distant reserve. At last, she succeeds, and with mixed feelings and a breaking heart, she returns her friend to the wild. The Adamsons then depart for their home in England; a year later they return to Kenya for a week, hoping to find Elsa. They do, and happily discover she hasn’t forgotten them and is the mother of three cubs. The Adamsons made an agreement not to handle the cubs, in contrast to the way they did with Elsa.

The film reunited the real life couple Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna as a couple first seen together in The Smallest Show on Earth in 1957.

George Adamson served as chief technical advisor on the film and discusses his involvement in his first autobiography, Bwana Game (UK title, 1968), known in the US as A Lifetime with Lions.

According to Ben Mankiewicz, who introduces the film on Turner Classic Movies, they used mostly wild lions and interviewed more than 3,000.

The making of the film was a life-changing experience for actors Virginia McKenna and her husband Bill Travers, who became animal rights activists and were instrumental in creating the Born Free Foundation.

One of the lions in the film was played by a former mascot of the Scots Guards, who had to leave him behind when they left Kenya. The producers also acknowledged the help received from Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and the Game Department of Uganda.

How popular was the film? Born Free received critical acclaim. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 92 percent of 12 film critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 7 out of 10.

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And here are some cool foreign movie posters when the film was released in other countries:

Vincent Canby waxed enthusiastic about the film, writing in The New York Times,

“Almost from the opening shot – a vast expanse of corn-colored African plain where lions feed on the carcass of a freshly killed zebra – one knows that Joy Adamson’s best-selling book Born Free has been entrusted to honest, intelligent filmmakers. Without minimizing the facts of animal life or overly sentimentalizing them, this film casts an enchantment that is just about irresistible.”

Accolades:  Born Free won the following:

  • Academy Award for Original Music Score: John Barry
  • Academy Award for Best Song: John Barry (music) and Don Black (lyrics) for “Born Free”
  • Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song – Motion Picture: John Barry
  • Grammy Award for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture: John Barry

It also received the following nominations:

  • Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama
  • Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama: Virginia McKenna
  • DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures: James Hill

The film was also recognized with nominations by American Film Institute in these lists:

  • In 2004: AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs
  • In 2005: AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores

Sequels and spinoffs:  The book Born Free (1960) was followed by two other books, Living Free (1961) and Forever Free (1963). In 1972, a film sequel entitled Living Free was released. While deriving its name from the second book, the film was based on the third book in the series. It starred Susan Hampshire and Nigel Davenport as Joy and George Adamson.

A documentary follow-up to Born Free, entitled The Lions Are Free, was released in 1969. The film follows Born Free-actor Bill Travers as he journeys to a remote area in Kenya to visit George Adamson, and several of Adamson’s lion friends.

In 1974, a 13-episode American television series was broadcast by NBC, entitled Born Free, starring Diana Muldaur and Gary Collins as Joy and George Adamson. The series was later followed by television film in 1996 called Born Free: A New Adventure, with Linda Purl and Chris Noth. (Chris Noth? Mr. Big was in Born Free?? Wow, I’m going to have to find that movie on Netflix or something…) Joy and George Adamson do not appear as the main characters in the story.

To Walk with Lions (1999) depicts the last years of George Adamson’s life, as seen through the eyes of his assistant, Tony Fitzjohn. George is portrayed by Richard Harris, and Honor Blackman makes a brief appearance as Joy.

The one-hour Nature documentary Elsa’s Legacy: The Born Free Story was released on PBS stations in January 2011. It includes a collection of archival footage and an exploration into the lives of Joy and George Adamson during the years following release of the film.

So do you remember Born Free or any of the spinoffs? I wasn’t aware of either of these but I’d really like to see 1999’s To Walk with Lions and the documentary Elsa’s Legacy.

Here is the beautiful award-winning musical score by John Barry from the original soundtrack, with stunning photography as a backdrop:

And here is the song Born Free which has some interesting background: “Born Free” is a popular song with music by John Barry, and lyrics by Don Black. Written for the 1966 film, it won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Lyricist Don Black managed British singer Matt Monro at the time, and he and Barry asked him to record the song for the film’s soundtrack. The producers of the film considered the song uncommercial, however, and deleted it from the print shown at its Royal Command premiere in London. When Monro, who attended the event, made Black aware of the edit, they successfully lobbied the producers to restore it. Monro’s interpretation appeared over the closing credits in a shortened version recorded especially for the film, which enabled it to qualify for the Academy Award. Monro’s complete commercial recording was released on the film’s soundtrack album and became the singer’s signature tune for the remainder of his career. (Roger Williams, Andy Williams, and Frank Sinatra all recorded cover versions).

And last but not least:

Mysterious Island Mysterious Island (in the UK: Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island) is a 1961 science fiction adventure film about Civil War prisoners who escape in a balloon and then find themselves stranded on a remote island populated by giant mutated animals.

The novel on which the film is based, the 1874 novel The Mysterious Island (L’Île mystérieuse) by Jules Verne, is a sequel to two other novels by Jules Verne, In Search of the Castaways (1867) and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870). The first book featured the island, the pirates and a character Tom Ayrton who was marooned on a nearby island. The second book featured Captain Nemo and the Nautilus presumed lost in the maelstrom at the end of that novel. In The Mysterious Island (1874) after the escapees’ balloon landed on the island, among many adventures, they encountered Ayrton alive, fought the pirates and discovered that Captain Nemo was their benefactor and the island the base for the Nautilus.

Mysterious Island 1961 movie poster

Shot in Catalonia, Spain (the beach scenes) and at Shepperton Studios in Shepperton, England (the escape from the confederate prison using the observation balloon), the film serves as a showcase for Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion animation effects. Those crazy giant creatures! I was fascinated by all the giant mutant animals in this movie. Interestingly, all the model creatures except the giant bird (which was re-purposed for use as the Ornithomimus in The Valley of Gwangi in 1969) still exist.

Mysterious Island 1961 movie poster

Like several of Harryhausen’s classic productions, the musical score was composed by the supremely talented Bernard Herrmann, who has an impressive career, including collaborations with Orson Welles and the great Alfred Hitchcock. In 1975 Bernard Herrmann arranged a suite from the film score. He recorded the suite in London at Kingsway Hall conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. The suite was the first of three suites on the London Phase 4 album THE MYSTERIOUS FILM WORLD OF BERNARD HERRMANN. The suite contains the cues “Prelude”, “The Balloon”, “The Giant Crab”, “The Giant bee” and “The Giant Bird”.

The artwork for the cover of the LP is the work of artist Dennis Pohl. (Note: this is a 14- minute instrumental score suite):

Be sure to check out the following original trailer for this 1961 sci-fi thrill-fest. If you remember this film, which mutant animal scene was your favorite? I always liked the scene where the man and woman are being sealed into the honeycomb by the giant bee. This trailer teases that scene. And the big chicken that jumps over the fence cracks me up: Everybody runs and makes sure to close the fence gate behind them and then the monster chicken just jumps right over it. Lol. You can see that in this trailer too. Also the giant crab that the men are trying to fight off with wooden sticks…

 

That wraps up this Monday’s Music Moves Me post. Hope you enjoyed the throwback to my childhood with my favorite movies. Were any of these your favorites? What others stand out in your memory as favorites?

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