Battle of the Bands – CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND of Stuck in the Middle with You!

Last month I did my first FOUR-WAY BATTLE using the Stealers Wheel song Stuck in the Middle with You. I featured two Jazz covers and two Country covers and folks cast two votes, voting for their favorite in each genre. The winners in that Playoff Round were Michael Bublé as the Jazz contender and Keith Urban as the Country contender. That battle has lead us up to this month’s battle:

The “Stuck in the Middle with You” Championship!

For today’s battle, voters will be choosing ONE WINNER who will walk away with the Championship title (and maybe even a SuperBattle Ring).

The contenders are last month’s winners: Michael Bublé vs Keith Urban. Give a listen and choose your favorite.

Jazz Contender:  Michael Bublé – Michael Bublé (born September 9, 1975) is a Canadian singer, songwriter, actor and record producer. He has won several awards, including four Grammy Awards and multiple Juno Awards.

Here’s his jazzy take on Stuck in the Middle with You, the winning Jazz cover version in my battle last month:

 

Country Contender:  Keith Urban – As mentioned last month, Keith Lionel Urban (born 26 October 1967) is a New Zealand born country musician (singer, songwriter, guitarist, TV show judge and record producer) with an impressive award-winning career.

His cover version of Stuck in the Middle with You is from the 2004 re-release of The Ranch’s self-titled album. The Ranch was a country music trio, which formed in 1997 by Peter Clarke on drums and percussion, Jerry Flowers on harmony vocals and bass guitar, and Keith Urban on lead vocals, guitar, ganjo, and keyboards. Most of the group’s material was co-written by Urban and Vernon Rust. Self-titled album The Ranch is the band’s only album. It was released by Capitol Nashville in 1997. After disbanding the group The Ranch, Urban resumed his solo career. Due to his solo success, The Ranch’s album was re-issued in February 2004 on Capitol/EMI as Keith Urban in The Ranch with two bonus tracks: “Billy” and “Stuck in the Middle with You“. Here is that bonus track and the winner in the Country genre in last month’s battle:

 

So, who is going to reign supreme in my first SuperBattle Championship? Please cast your vote in the Comment section and let me know why you are choosing that artist for this song.

And when you’re done voting, please visit these other BOTB participants and check out their cool battles:

I’ll be back on August 21st declaring the winner of this Stuck in the Middle with You Championship. It will probably take me that long to clean up the parking lot: the tailgate parties leading up to this championship got a little rowdy…

As always, thanks so much for participating.

Monday’s Music Moves Me – Songs with Boy Names in the Title

Today’s Monday’s Music Moves Me theme is Songs with Boy Names in the Title. I went a little crazy with this one too, putting together a playlist of 44 songs that I really dig with boy names in the titles. Don’t worry, there aren’t 44 songs here in this post, but there are quite a few. I had a hard time choosing which ones I wanted to spotlight so I compiled some of my favorites that are either just fantastic songs or they have particularly neat and interesting stories behind the music. As with any of my lengthy posts, make yourself at home: pop in for a quick visit and check out a few songs or bring a 12-pack over and hang out for awhile and dig into some cool history and some great songs.

The following are my spotlight songs for this theme. If you’d like to listen to all of my 44 choices for Boy Names songs, check out my full playlist at the end of this post. Let’s get started with:

Bad, Bad Leroy Brown by Jim Croce – “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” is a song written by American folk rock singer Jim Croce. Released as part of his 1973 album Life and Times, the song was a Number One pop hit for him, spending two weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1973. Billboard ranked it as the No. 2 song for 1973.

Croce was nominated for two 1973 Grammy awards in the Pop Male Vocalist and Record of the Year categories for “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.” It was his last number-one single before his death on September 20.

The song’s title character is a man from the South Side of Chicago who, due to his size and attitude, has a reputation as the “baddest man in the whole damn town.” One day, in a bar, he makes a pass at a pretty, married woman named Doris, whose jealous husband proceeds to beat Leroy brutally in the ensuing fight. In the end, Leroy Brown learns a lesson from this painful experience (“Leroy looked like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone”). During the lyrics about the fight, some background voices are heard quietly speaking.

The story of a widely feared man being bested in a fight is similar to Croce’s earlier song “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim.”

Croce’s inspiration for the song was a friend he met in his brief time in the US Army:

I met him at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. We were in lineman (telephone) school together. He stayed there about a week, and one evening he turned around and said he was really fed up and tired. He went AWOL, and then came back at the end of the month to get his paycheck. They put handcuffs on him and took him away. Just to listen to him talk and see how ‘bad’ he was, I knew someday I was gonna write a song about him.

“Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” was released in April 1973 and peaked at number one on the American charts three months later. It was still on the charts on September 20 when Croce died in a plane crash in Natchitoches, Louisiana. It was the second #1 song on the “Billboard” Hot 100 pop singles chart to include a curse word (“damn”) in its lyrics, after the “Theme from Shaft”.

This is a fabulously fun animated video I found on YouTube. Enjoy!

 

Brother Louie by Stories – “Brother Louie” is a song about an interracial love affair, a romance between a white man and a black woman. The title was written and sung by Errol Brown and Anthony Wilson of the group Hot Chocolate, and was a Top 10 hit in the UK Singles Chart for the band in 1973, produced by Mickie Most. Hot Chocolate was an interracial (four black members, two white) group from London who also had a hit in 1975 with “You Sexy Thing.”

The Hot Chocolate version of this song didn’t gain any traction in the United States, possibly because of the subject matter. The spoken sections portraying the parents’ reactions to the interracial couple were rather graphic, using the epithets “Honky” and “Spook,” which was enough to scare many radio stations away.

“Brother Louie” was covered by the American band Stories (featuring singer Ian Lloyd) about six months after Hot Chocolate’s UK hit. Their version, which left out the spoken parts and a verse where Louie meets the girl’s parents, featured a more pronounced string section and proved much more palatable to American listeners, and went to #1 in the US on the Billboard Hot 100 in August 1973 and went on to sell a million plus copies to earn a gold disk. In Canada, the Stories version spent three weeks at number one. It was the only hit for Stories and is often cited as a “one hit wonder”.

Here is Stories on a Midnight Special episode, being introduced by Jose Feliciano:

 

Daniel by Elton John – “Daniel” is a song and ballad by Elton John. It appeared on the 1973 album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player. It was written by John and his lyricist Bernie Taupin. In the UK, the song reached no. 4 in the official chart. In the US the song reached No. 2 on the pop charts (only held from number one by “My Love” by Paul McCartney & Wings) and No. 1 on the adult contemporary charts for two weeks in the spring of 1973. In the US, it was certified Gold on September 13, 1995 by the RIAA. In Canada, it became his second No. 1 single, following “Crocodile Rock” earlier in the year, holding the position for two weeks in the RPM 100 national singles chart. Writers John and Taupin received the 1973 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.

Bernie Taupin wrote “Daniel” after reading an article in either Time or Newsweek about a Vietnam War veteran who had been wounded, and wanted to get away from the attention he was receiving when he went back home. The last verse in the original draft was cut from the final version, which has led to some speculation on the contents.

“‘Daniel’ had been the most misinterpreted song that we’d ever written,” explained Taupin, in the Two Rooms tribute project. “The story was about a guy that went back to a small town in Texas, returning from the Vietnam War. They’d lauded him when he came home and treated him like a hero. But, he just wanted to go home, go back to the farm, and try to get back to the life that he’d led before. I wanted to write something that was sympathetic to the people that came home.” Regarding the misinterpretations, Taupin says “he’s heard it called a gay anthem and a song about a family dispute.”

Elton John performs “Daniel” on “Top of the Pops” on January 25th 1973, with band members Davey Johnstone on guitar, Nigel Olsson on drums, and Dee Murray on bass guitar.

 

Danny’s Song by Anne Murray – “Danny’s Song” is a song written by the American singer-songwriter Kenny Loggins. It was written as a gift for his brother Danny for the birth of his son, Colin. It first appeared on an album by Gator Creek and a year later on the album Sittin’ In, the debut album by Loggins and Messina. The song is well remembered for both the Loggins and Messina original, as well as Anne Murray’s 1972 top-ten charting cover.

I remember Anne Murray’s version best. Canadian country-pop music singer Anne Murray was a fan of the original recording and recorded a cover version in 1972. The version she recorded of the song omitted two of the lyric verses and is in a different key than the original version by Loggins & Messina. Included on her album of the same name, Murray’s version of “Danny’s Song” was a hit, reaching the Top 10 on three major Billboard music charts in early 1973. On the pop chart, the song reached #7 (returning Murray to that chart’s top ten for the first time since 1970’s “Snowbird”); on the country chart, it peaked at #10; and on the easy listening chart, it spent two weeks at #1 in March of that year. Murray’s version also earned her a Grammy Award nomination in the category Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards of 1974, losing out to “Killing Me Softly with His Song” by Roberta Flack.

 

Eli’s Comin’ by Three Dog Night – “Eli’s Comin'” is a song written and recorded in 1967 by American singer-songwriter and pianist Laura Nyro. The song was first released in 1968 as the sixth song of Nyro’s album, Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. The song was also covered by Three Dog Night in 1969, on their 1969 albums Suitable for Framing and Captured Live at the Forum. Their version reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Three Dog Night is one of my favorite bands from that era. They formed in 1967 with a line-up consisting of vocalists Danny Hutton, Cory Wells, and Chuck Negron. This lineup was soon augmented by Jimmy Greenspoon (keyboards), Joe Schermie (bass), Michael Allsup (guitar), and Floyd Sneed (drums). They became one of the most successful bands in the United States during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The band registered 21 Billboard Top 40 hits (with three hitting number one) between 1969 and 1975. It helped introduce mainstream audiences to the work of many songwriters, including Paul Williams (“An Old Fashioned Love Song”), Hoyt Axton (“Joy to the World”), Laura Nyro (“Eli’s Comin'”), Harry Nilsson (“One”), Randy Newman (“Mama Told Me Not to Come”), and Leo Sayer (“The Show Must Go On”).

I always wondered where the heck they came up with that name for the band. Here’s the answer: The official commentary included in the CD set Celebrate: The Three Dog Night Story, 1964–1975 states that vocalist Danny Hutton’s girlfriend, actress June Fairchild (best known as the “Ajax Lady” from the Cheech and Chong movie Up In Smoke) suggested the name after reading a magazine article about indigenous Australians, in which it was explained that on cold nights they would customarily sleep in a hole in the ground while embracing a dingo (wild dog). On colder nights they would sleep with two dogs and, if the night was freezing, it was a “three dog night”. Pretty cool, eh?

Here’s one of their greatest hits, Eli’s Comin’:

 

Hit the Road Jack by Ray Charles – “Hit the Road Jack” is a song written by the rhythm and blues artist Percy Mayfield and first recorded in 1960 as an a cappella demo sent to Art Rupe. It became famous after it was recorded by singer-songwriter-pianist Ray Charles with The Raelettes vocalist Margie Hendrix.

Charles’s recording hit number one for two weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, beginning on Monday, October 9, 1961. “Hit the Road Jack” won a Grammy award for Best Rhythm and Blues Recording. The song was number one on the R&B Sides chart for five weeks, thereby becoming Charles’s sixth number-one on that chart.

The continuing popularity of this song is evident by the many professional and semi-professional hockey teams playing the first few lines whenever a player is sent to the penalty box. It’s a part of Major League Baseball too: a version is played over the PA in Chicago Cubs games when an opposing pitcher is ‘chased’ (pulled) from the game. And the song is played at Basketball events too as it’s played over the PA during Chicago Bulls games when an opponent fouls out of the game.

Ray even went commercial with his song: During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Kentucky Fried Chicken released a series of TV advertisements that used a re-recorded version of the song, re-titled “Cross the Road Jack”; additionally, the line “and don’t you come back no more” was also changed to “Kentucky Fried Chicken’s got more”.

Here’s Ray Charles on Saturday Live in 1996 (Saturday Live was a British television comedy and music show broadcast from 1985 to 1987, and in 1988 as Friday Night Live. Influenced by the American show Saturday Night Live (in particular its use of guest hosts), it was produced by Paul Jackson. The series made a return in 1996 on ITV. Hosted by Lee Hurst, the series lasted six episodes before being cancelled. This performance was from episode 2:

 

James Dean by the Eagles – “James Dean” is a song written by Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Jackson Browne, and J. D. Souther, and recorded by the American rock band Eagles for their 1974 album On the Border. It was the second single released from this album, reaching number 77 on the U.S. pop singles chart. The Eagles founding member Bernie Leadon played the guitar solo.

The song is about American actor and cultural icon James Dean (1931–1955) who starred in such films as Rebel Without a Cause, East of Eden and Giant. The lyrics, “too fast to live, too young to die” refer to the life and abrupt death of Dean in a car crash in 1955.

“James Dean” was first written as for an album originally intended to have a theme on anti-heroes. According to Glenn Frey, he together with Don Henley, Jackson Browne, and J. D. Souther were jamming together after attending a Tim Hardin show at the Troubadour in 1972, and they came up the idea about doing an album about anti-heroes. From this came the songs “Doolin-Dalton” and “James Dean”. The album however evolved into a wild-west themed album Desperado which was released in 1973, and “James Dean” was shelved. When recording began for On the Border, the song was immediately pulled off the shelf and completed. The song was written mostly by Jackson Browne according to Henley.

The B-side “Good Day in Hell” is notable for being the first Eagles track recorded with Don Felder, who joined the band midway through the sessions for the album.

 

Jeremy by Pearl Jam – “Jeremy” is a song by the American rock band Pearl Jam, with lyrics written by vocalist Eddie Vedder and music written by bassist Jeff Ament. “Jeremy” was released in 1992 as the third single from Pearl Jam’s debut album Ten (1991). The song was inspired by a newspaper article Vedder read about a high school student who shot himself in front of his English class on January 8, 1991. It reached the number five spot on both the Mainstream and Modern Rock Billboard charts. It did not originally chart on the regular Billboard Hot 100 singles chart since it was not released as a commercial single in the US at the time, but a re-release in July 1995 brought it up to number 79.

Lyrics: “Jeremy” is based on two different true stories. The song takes its main inspiration from a newspaper article about a 16-year-old boy named Jeremy Wade Delle from Richardson, Texas who shot himself in front of his teacher and his second period English class of 30 students on the morning of January 8, 1991. In a 2009 interview, Vedder said that he felt “the need to take that small article and make something of it—to give that action, to give it reaction, to give it more importance.”

Delle was described by schoolmates as “real quiet” and known for “acting sad.” After coming into class late that morning, Delle was told to get an admittance slip from the school office. He left the classroom, and returned with a .357 Magnum revolver. Delle walked to the front of the classroom, announced “Miss, I got what I really went for,” put the barrel of the firearm in his mouth, and pulled the trigger before his teacher or classmates could react. Lisa Moore, a schoolmate, knew Jeremy from the in-school suspension program: “He and I would pass notes back and forth and he would talk about life and stuff,” she said. “He signed all of his notes, ‘Write back.’ But on Monday he wrote, ‘Later days.’ I didn’t know what to make of it. But I never thought this would happen.”

When asked about the song, Vedder explained:

It came from a small paragraph in a paper which means you kill yourself and you make a big old sacrifice and try to get your revenge. That all you’re gonna end up with is a paragraph in a newspaper. Sixty-four degrees and cloudy in a suburban neighborhood. That’s the beginning of the video and that’s the same thing in the end; it does nothing … nothing changes. The world goes on and you’re gone. The best revenge is to live on and prove yourself. Be stronger than those people. And then you can come back.

The second story the song is based on, involved a student that Vedder knew from his junior high school in San Diego, California. He elaborated further in a 1991 interview:

I actually knew somebody in junior high school, in San Diego, California, that did the same thing, just about, didn’t take his life but ended up shooting up an oceanography room. I remember being in the halls and hearing it and I had actually had altercations with this kid in the past. I was kind of a rebellious fifth-grader and I think we got in fights and stuff. So it’s a bit about this kid named Jeremy and it’s also a bit about a kid named Brian that I knew and I don’t know…the song, I think it says a lot. I think it goes somewhere…and a lot of people interpret it different ways and it’s just been recently that I’ve been talking about the true meaning behind it and I hope no one’s offended and believe me, I think of Jeremy when I sing it.

The song gained notoriety for its music video, directed by Mark Pellington and released in 1992, which received heavy rotation by MTV and became a hit. Epic Records had warmed up to the idea of releasing “Jeremy” as a single and music video director Mark Pellington was brought in to handle the project. Pellington said that he “wasn’t a huge fan of the band, but the lyrics intrigued me—I spoke to Eddie, and I really got connected to his passion.” Pellington and Pearl Jam convened in Kings Cross, London, England in June 1992 to film a new version of the “Jeremy” music video. (The original music video for “Jeremy” was directed and produced by photographer Chris Cuffaro).

Working with veteran editor Bruce Ashley, Pellington’s high-budget video incorporated rapid-fire editing and juxtaposition of sound, still images, graphics and text elements with live action sequences to create a collage effect. Actor Trevor Wilson portrayed Jeremy. Wilson filmed his classroom scenes as Jeremy at Bayonne High School in New Jersey. The video also featured many close-ups of Vedder performing the song, with the other members of Pearl Jam shown only briefly. Some of the stock imagery was similar to the original video, but when it came to the band Pellington focused on Vedder. Vedder thus serves as the video’s narrator. Ament said, “It was mostly Mark and Ed’s vision. In fact, I think it would have been a better video if the rest of the band wasn’t in it. I know some of us were having a hard time with the movie-type video that Mark made, because our two previous videos were made live.” The video premiered on August 1, 1992 and quickly found its way into heavy rotation on MTV. Michele Romero of Entertainment Weekly described the music video as “an Afterschool Special from hell.” She stated that “when Eddie Vedder yowls the lyric ‘Jeremy spoke in class today,’ a chill frosts your cranium to the point of queasy enjoyment.” The success of the “Jeremy” video helped catapult Pearl Jam to fame. Pellington stated, “I think that video tapped into something that has always been around and will always be around. You’re always going to have peer pressure, you’re always going to have adolescent rage, you’re always going to have dysfunctional families.” The video won four MTV Video Music Awards in 1993, including Best Video of the Year, Best Group Video, Best Metal/Hard Rock Video, and Best Direction. Trevor Wilson appeared with Pearl Jam onstage when they won ‘Best Video of the Year.’ Vedder introduced him to the crowd: “This is Trevor. He lives.” (Note: Sadly, Trevor Wilson died in 2016 at age 36 in a drowning accident in Puerto Rico).

Video Summary: In Pellington’s video, Jeremy is shown being alienated and taunted by classmates at school, running through a forest, and screaming at his parents at a dinner table. Only Jeremy is shown moving in the video; every other character in his life is frozen a series of stationary tableaus. Shots of words depicting others’ presumed descriptions of Jeremy — such as “problem”, “peer”, “harmless”, and “bored” — frequently appear onscreen. Included are two biblical allusions: “the unclean spirit entered”, from Mark 5:13, and “Genesis 3:6”, referencing the creation of sin. As the song becomes more dense and frenetic, Jeremy’s behavior becomes increasingly agitated. Strobe lighting adds to the anxious atmosphere. Jeremy is shown standing, arms raised in a V (as described in the lyrics at the beginning of the song), in front of a wall of billowing flames. Jeremy is later shown staring at the camera while wrapped in an American flag, surrounded by fire.

The final scene of the video shows Jeremy striding into class, tossing an apple to the teacher, and standing before his classmates. He reaches down and draws back his arm as he takes a gun out of his pocket (The gun only appears onscreen in the unedited version of the video). The edited version cuts to an extreme close-up of Jeremy’s face as he puts the barrel of the gun in his mouth, closes his eyes, and pulls the trigger. After a flash of light the screen turns black. The next shot is a pan across the classroom, showing Jeremy’s blood-spattered classmates, all completely still, recoiling in horror. The video ends on a shot of a dangling blackboard, on which all the harsh terms and phrases seen earlier had been scrawled.

Controversy: MTV restrictions on violent imagery prevented Pellington from showing Jeremy putting the gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger at the climax of the video. Ironically, the ambiguous close-up of Jeremy at the end of the edited video, combined with the defensive posture of Jeremy’s classmates and the large amount of blood, led many viewers to believe that the video ended with Jeremy shooting his classmates, not himself. In 1997, Rolling Stone even described the song and video as depicting an unpopular student bringing a gun to class and shooting people.

Pellington himself dismisses this interpretation of the video. He said, “Probably the greatest frustration I’ve ever had is that the ending [of the “Jeremy” video] is sometimes misinterpreted as that he shot his classmates. The idea is, that’s his blood on them, and they’re frozen at the moment of looking.” He had filmed a scene where Jeremy is shown putting the gun in his mouth, but this footage was edited with a zoom effect for the MTV version of the video so the gun was not visible.

After “Jeremy”, Pearl Jam backed away from making music videos. “Ten years from now,” Ament said, “I don’t want people to remember our songs as videos.” The band did not release another video until 1998’s “Do the Evolution”, which was entirely animated.

In 1996, a shooting occurred at Frontier Junior High School in Moses Lake, Washington that left three dead and a fourth injured. The prosecutors for the case said shooter, Barry Loukaitis, was influenced by the edited version of the Pearl Jam music video.

After the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, MTV and VH1 rarely aired the video, and mention of it was omitted in retro-documentaries such as I Love the ’90s. It is still available on the internet, on websites such as YouTube. It can also occasionally be seen playing at Hard Rock Cafe locations. The video occasionally airs on MTV Classic. The video was included in MuchMusic’s list of the 12 most controversial videos. The reason was because of the topic of suicide, and recent school shootings. The scene of Jeremy with the gun in his mouth was not shown. It was also included on VH1’s countdown of the “100 Greatest Songs of the ’90s” at number 11, with several clips of the video shown, including part of the ending. The uncensored version of the video was shown as part of the retrospective “Pearl Jam Ten Revisited” on VH1 Classic in 2009 prior to the album’s re-release, including the shot in which Jeremy puts the gun in his mouth.

Here is that classic controversial video:

 

John Barleycorn (Must Die) by Traffic – John Barleycorn is a British folksong (Roud 164). The character of John Barleycorn in the song is a personification of the important cereal crop barley and of the alcoholic beverages made from it, beer and whisky. In the song, John Barleycorn is represented as suffering attacks, death and indignities that correspond to the various stages of barley cultivation, such as reaping and malting.

Many versions of the song have been recorded, including a very popular version by the English rock group Traffic, appearing on their 4th studio album John Barleycorn Must Die released in 1970. Traffic was formed in April 1967 by Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood and Dave Mason. They began as a psychedelic rock group and diversified their sound through the use of instruments such as keyboards like the Mellotron and harpsichord, sitar, and various reed instruments, and by incorporating jazz and improvisational techniques in their music. They disbanded in 1969, during which time Steve Winwood joined Blind Faith. Traffic reunited in 1970 to release their critically acclaimed album John Barleycorn Must Die.

This is an incredible live performance of the song (Not sure when or where):

 

Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry – “Johnny B. Goode” is a 1958 rock-and-roll song written and first recorded by Chuck Berry. The song was a major hit among both black and white audiences, peaking at number 2 on Billboard magazine’s Hot R&B Sides chart and number 8 on its Hot 100 chart.

“Johnny B. Goode” is considered one of the most recognizable songs in the history of popular music. Credited as “the first rock & roll hit about rock & roll stardom,” it has been recorded by many other artists and has received several honors and accolades. The song is also ranked seventh on Rolling Stone‘s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

Written by Berry in 1955, the song is about an illiterate “country boy” from the New Orleans area, who plays a guitar “just like ringing a bell,” and who might one day have his “name in lights.” Berry acknowledged that the song is partly autobiographical and that the original lyrics referred to Johnny as a “colored boy”, but he changed it to “country boy” to ensure radio play. As well as suggesting that the guitar player is good, the title hints at autobiographic elements, because Berry was born at 2520 Goode Avenue, in St. Louis. The song was initially inspired by Johnnie Johnson, the regular piano player in Berry’s band, but developed into a song mainly about Berry himself. Johnson played on many other recordings by Berry, but Lafayette Leake played the piano on this song.

Here’s Chuck Berry performing with his very fancy footwork:

 

Junior’s Farm by Paul McCartney & Wings – “Junior’s Farm” is a song written by Paul and Linda McCartney and performed with McCartney’s band Wings. It was a number-three hit single in the United States. It was issued as a non-album single.

The track was engineered by Ernie Winfrey at Soundshop Studios in Nashville, Tennessee in 1974. While recording in Nashville, the band stayed at the Lebanon, Tennessee farm of Curly Putman Jr., which accounts for the song’s title. Jimmy McCullough played the guitar solo as his Wings debut.

 

Levon by Elton John – “Levon” is a song written and recorded by Elton John, with lyrics by Bernie Taupin. It was recorded on February 27, 1971, and is from John’s fourth album Madman Across the Water. The song reached number 24 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and peaked at number six on the Canadian RPM singles chart.

In Susan Black’s book Elton John in His Own Words, Elton says of “Levon”: “It”s about a guy who just gets bored doing the same thing. It’s just somebody who gets bored with blowing up balloons and he just wants to get away from it but he can’t because it’s the family ritual.”

There are some very unusual names in this song, describing three generations. Alvin Tostig is the father of Levon, who has a son named Jesus. There is a lot of speculation that the name Levon came from Levon Helm, the drummer for The Band, but Elton John’s lyricist Bernie Taupin says that he simply made the name up because he likes it, and the song has nothing to do with Helm.

When Rolling Stone asked Taupin about the song in 2013, he insisted that he has no idea what he intended as the meaning. “It was a free-form writing.” he said. “It was just lines that came out that were interesting.”

This is a great example of Taupin’s intricate, nuanced writing style that leads to many different interpretations. For instance, the “cartoon balloons” that Levon blows up all day could be balloons with cartoon characters printed on them, or perhaps something more figurative, like thought bubbles that appear in comic strips, indicating the thoughts that are constantly rising out of his consciousness.

Taupin and John made a great team because Elton could interpret his lyrics very well, giving life to the characters in the songs with a curious ambiguity that encouraged further listens. In many cases, Elton didn’t know what Taupin had in mind when he wrote the lyrics – when asked he would often reply, “you’ll have to ask Bernie.”

Since this runs 5:37, Elton’s record company wanted to cut this down for the single so that more US radio stations would play it. Elton refused, insisting it be released full-length.

The actual New York Times page 1 headline that included the phrase “God Is Dead” is dated March 24, 1968; the full headline read, “‘God Is Dead’ Doctrine Losing Ground to ‘Theology of Hope’.” The phrase also appeared in a major (page 3) article on January 7, 1970. Smaller pieces dated January and April 1966 that feature the phrase in their headings can also be found. None were on Christmas Day, but the January ones are close!

Sir Elton and his partner David Furnish became parents to a son born on Christmas Day 2010 to a surrogate mother in California. They named him Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John. It is assumed the name “Levon” was chosen because of the song’s line, “He was born a pauper to a pawn on a Christmas day.”

Here, Elton John performs “Levon” from his 1971 album “Madman Across the Water”. Recorded live at BBC studios for the “Sounds for Saturday” television series on November 11, 1971:

 

Lido Shuffle by Boz Scaggs – “Lido Shuffle” is a song written by Boz Scaggs and David Paich and introduced on the 1976 Boz Scaggs album, Silk Degrees. It was subsequently released as a single in 1977. Released as the album’s fourth single, “Lido Shuffle” reached number 11 in the US and 13 on the UK Singles Chart.

Boz Scaggs wrote this song with David Paich, who was also his co-writer on “Lowdown.” In our 2013 interview with Scaggs, he talked about how the song came about: “‘Lido’ was a song that I’d been banging around. And I kind of stole… well, I didn’t steal anything. I just took the idea of the shuffle. There was a song that Fats Domino did called ‘The Fat Man’ that had a kind of driving shuffle beat that I used to play on the piano, and I just started kind of singing along with it. Then I showed it to Paich and he helped me fill it out. It ended up being ‘Lido Shuffle.'”

The song is about a drifter looking for a big score. Scaggs and Paich were both very good at crafting songs with intriguing storylines using words and phrases that often show up in a lyric: “A tombstone bar,” “makin’ like a beeline…”

The name Lido is very unusual as well. From the perspective of songcraft, it’s very versatile, allowing the singer to get clear vocal sounds and follow with the “whoa-oh-oh-oh” hook. (Kenny Loggins did something similar on his song “Footloose,” writing the character “Milo” into it (“Woah… Milo, come on, come on let’s go”).

The song’s co-writer David Paich played keyboards on this track. Scaggs played guitar, bass was handled by David Hungate, and Jeff Porcaro played drums. Paich, Hungate and Porcaro would soon form the band Toto.

 

Louie Louie by the Kingsmen – “Louie Louie” is an American rhythm and blues song written by R&B singer Richard Berry in 1955. With his group The Pharaohs, he was also the first to record it, and it got some airplay in some cities in the Western US when it was released in 1957. Various garage bands heard it and started covering the song, until it became a phenomena with the Kingsmen’s 1964 version. It has become a standard in pop and rock, with hundreds of versions recorded by different artists. The song was originally written and performed in the style of a Jamaican ballad. Much of the song’s notoriety comes from the indecipherable lyrics, and in Berry’s original version the words are quite clear: It tells, in simple verse–chorus form, the first-person story of a Jamaican sailor who spends three days traveling to return to the island (Jamaica) to see his lady love.

Dwight Rounds, author of The Year the Music Died, 1964-1972, writes: “The words to ‘Louie Louie’ are almost impossible to understand, and are rumored to be obscene. No question that this added significantly to the sales of the single. There was probably a leak somewhere that the lyrics were obscene; otherwise no one would have realized it. This was the most ingenious marketing scheme ever. The FBI tried to track down Richard Berry, The Kingsmen, and various record company executives. They were never able to determine the actual lyrics used. The Kingsmen insisted they said nothing lewd, despite the obvious mistake at the end of the instrumental, where Jack Ely started to sing the last verse one bar too soon, and can be heard yelling something in the background. Ely also said that he sung far away from the microphone, which caused the fuzzy sound, and that the notoriety was initiated by the record company. The words sound much more like the official version seen below, especially the word “rose” instead of “bone.” The lyrics rumor was a sham. The official lyrics are listed below in plain print, with one of the many alternative versions in italics.

Chorus: “Louie, Louie, oh no. Me gotta go. Aye-yi-yi, I said. Louie Louie, oh baby. Me gotta go.”

“Fine little girl waits for me. Catch a ship across the sea. Sail that ship about, all alone. Never know if I make it home.”

“Three nights and days, I sail the sea.” Every night and day, I play with my thing.

“Think of girl, constantly.” I f–k you girl, oh, all the way.

“Oh that ship, I dream she’s there. On my bed, I’ll lay her there.

“I smell the rose in her hair.” I feel my bone, ah, in her hair.

“See Jamaica, the moon above.” Hey lovemaker, now hold my thing.

“It won’t be long, me see my love.” It won’t take long, so leave it alone.

“Take her in my arms again.” Hey, senorita, I’m hot as hell.

“Tell her I’ll never leave again.” I told her I’d never lay her again.

The FBI launched an extensive investigation into this song after Indiana governor Matthew Welsh declared it “Pornographic” in early 1964 and asked the Indiana Broadcasters Association to ban it. The investigation spanned offices in several states, with technicians listening to the song at different speeds trying to discern any obscene lyrics. None were found; the FBI eventually figured out what happened when they contacted the FCC. The report details this correspondence:

“She explained that for approximately two years her company has been receiving unfounded complaints concerting the recording of ‘Louie Louie.’ She advised that to the best of her knowledge, the trouble was started by an unidentified college student, who made up a series of obscene verses for ‘Louie Louie’ and then sold them to fellow students. It is her opinion that a person can take any 45 r.p.m recording and reduce its speed to 33 r.p.m. and imagine obscene words, depending upon the imagination of the listener.”

Although the Kingsmen’s version was the subject of an FBI investigation about the supposed but nonexistent obscenity of the lyrics and the investigation ended without prosecution, ironically, the song notably includes the drummer yelling “Fuck!” after dropping his drumstick at the 0:54 mark. (Can you hear it?)

“Louie Louie” has been recognized by organizations and publications worldwide for its influence on the history of rock and roll. A partial list includes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame, National Public Radio, VH1, Rolling Stone, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Recording Industry Association of America. In addition to new versions appearing regularly on YouTube and elsewhere, other major examples of the song’s legacy include the unsuccessful attempt in 1985 to make it the state song of Washington, the celebration of International Louie Louie Day every year on April 11, the annual Louie Louie Parade in Philadelphia from 1985 to 1989, the LouieFest in Tacoma from 2003 to 2012, and the ongoing annual Louie Louie Parade and Festival in Peoria. (Interestingly, and apparently, the song became a national hit when a disc jockey in Boston played it and declared that it was the worst song he ever heard).

This song was prominently featured in the film Animal House, starring John Belushi, despite the fact that it wasn’t actually recorded until almost two years after the period of time in which the movie is set (1962). According to Kenny Vance, who was the musical director on Animal House, John Belushi sang in a garage band that used to perform this song at fraternities. Belushi would sing his version of the dirty lyrics, which he did in the studio while recording his vocals for the movie. Sadly, the tape of Belushi singing his dirty version of the song was lost in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy wiped out Kenny’s home in Queens.

 

Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard by Paul Simon – “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” is a song by American singer-songwriter Paul Simon. It was the second single from his second self-titled studio album (1972), released on Columbia Records.

I featured this song in a recent Monday’s Music Moves Me post, when the theme was songs that begin with the first letter of your name. I used a different music video in that post and wanted to showcase this official video for the song. Details:

In 1988, Simon released a video for the song to promote his greatest hits compilation Negotiations and Love Songs. The video was filmed at Mathews-Palmer Park in Hell’s Kitchen, which was standing in for Halsey Junior High School in Forest Hills, Queens, the neighborhood in which Simon grew up and met Art Garfunkel in high school. Many of the children featured in the video were from that same school.

It features an introduction by hip hop emcees (and then-fellow Warner Bros. Records label mates) Big Daddy Kane and Biz Markie. Main Source member Large Professor also makes a minor cameo towards the end. The video depicts adults interacting with the youth of an inner-city schoolyard. It shows Simon playing basketball and stickball with the children, and it also features basketball player Spud Webb, baseball legend Mickey Mantle, and football coach-commentator John Madden giving tips to young athletes.

 

Ode to Billie Joe by Bobby Gentry – “Ode to Billie Joe” is a 1967 song written and recorded by Bobbie Gentry, a singer-songwriter from Chickasaw County, Mississippi. The single, released in late July, was a number-one hit in the United States, and became a big international seller. Billboard ranked the record as the No. 3 song for 1967 (the other two that year were #2 “The Letter” by the Box Tops and #1 “To Sir With Love” by Lulu). The song is ranked #412 on Rolling Stone’s list of “the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. The recording of “Ode to Billie Joe” generated eight Grammy nominations, resulting in three wins for Gentry and one win for arranger Jimmie Haskell.

This song has an intriguing story: The song is a first-person narrative that reveals a Southern Gothic tale in its verses by including the dialog of the narrator’s family at dinnertime on the day that “Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.” Throughout the song, the suicide and other tragedies are contrasted against the banality of everyday routine and polite conversation.

The song begins with the narrator, her brother and her father returning, after agricultural morning chores, to the family house for dinner (on June 3). After cautioning them about tracking in dirt, “Mama” says that she “got some news this mornin’ from Choctaw Ridge” that “Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge,” apparently to his death.

At the dinner table, the narrator’s father is unsurprised at the news and says, “Well, Billie Joe never had a lick o’ sense; pass the biscuits, please” and mentions that there are “five more acres in the lower forty I got to plow.” Although her brother seems to be somewhat taken aback (“I saw him at the sawmill yesterday … And now you tell me Billie Joe has jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge”), he’s not shocked enough to forgo a second piece of pie. The brother recalls that while he was with his friends Tom and Billie Joe, they had put a frog down the narrator’s back at the Carroll County Picture Show, and that he had seen her and Billie Joe together last Sunday speaking after church. Late in the song, Mama questions the narrator’s complete change of mood (“Child, what’s happened to your appetite? I been cookin’ all mornin’ and you haven’t touched a single bite”) and then recalls a visit earlier that morning by Brother Taylor, the local preacher, who mentioned that he had seen Billie Joe and a girl who looked very much like the narrator herself and they were “throwin’ somethin’ off the Tallahatchie Bridge.”

In the song’s final verse, a year has passed, during which the narrator’s brother has married Becky Thompson, and moved away (“bought a store in Tupelo”). Also, her father died from a viral infection, which has left her mother despondent. (“And now mama doesn’t seem to wanna do much of anything”.) The narrator herself now visits Choctaw Ridge often, picking flowers there to drop from the Tallahatchie Bridge into the murky waters flowing beneath.

Questions arose among the listeners: what did Billie Joe and his girlfriend throw off the Tallahatchie Bridge, and why did Billie Joe commit suicide? Speculation ran rampant after the song hit the airwaves, and Gentry said in a November 1967 interview that it was the question most asked of her by everyone she met. She named flowers, an engagement ring, a draft card, a bottle of LSD pills, and an aborted baby as the most often guessed items. Although she knew definitely what the item was, she would not reveal it, saying only “Suppose it was a wedding ring.” “It’s in there for two reasons,” she said. “First, it locks up a definite relationship between Billie Joe and the girl telling the story, the girl at the table. Second, the fact that Billie Joe was seen throwing something off the bridge – no matter what it was – provides a possible motivation as to why he jumped off the bridge the next day.”

When Herman Raucher met Gentry in preparation for writing a novel and screenplay based on the song, she confessed that she had no idea why Billie Joe killed himself. Gentry has, however, commented on the song, saying that its real theme was indifference:

“Those questions are of secondary importance in my mind. The story of Billie Joe has two more interesting underlying themes. First, the illustration of a group of people’s reactions to the life and death of Billie Joe, and its subsequent effect on their lives, is made. Second, the obvious gap between the girl and her mother is shown when both women experience a common loss (first Billie Joe, and later, Papa), and yet Mama and the girl are unable to recognize their mutual loss or share their grief. ”

The bridge mentioned in this song collapsed in June 1972. It crossed the Tallahatchie River at Money, about ten miles north of Greenwood, Mississippi, and has since been replaced. The November 10, 1967 issue of Life Magazine contained a photo of Gentry crossing the original bridge.

In this photograph from the November 10, 1967 issue of Life magazine, Bobbie Gentry strolls across the Tallahatchie Bridge in Money, Mississippi. The bridge collapsed in June 1972.

Recording: “Ode to Billie Joe” was originally intended as the B-side of Gentry’s first single recording, a blues number called “Mississippi Delta”, on Capitol Records. The original recording, with no other musicians backing Gentry’s guitar, had eleven verses lasting seven minutes, telling more of Billie Joe’s story. The executives realized that this song was a better option for a single, so they cut the length by almost half and re-recorded it with a string orchestra. The shorter version left more of the story to the listener’s imagination, and made the single more suitable for radio airplay. The song is noted for its long descending scale by the strings at the conclusion, suggesting the flowers falling after being dropped off the Tallahatchie Bridge and ending up in the river water below.

Adaptations: The song’s popularity proved so enduring that in 1976, nine years after its release, Warner Bros. commissioned author Herman Raucher to adapt it into a novel and screenplay, Ode to Billy Joe. The poster’s tagline, which treats the film as being based on a true story and even gives a date of death for Billy (June 3, 1953), led many to believe that the song was based on actual events. In Raucher’s novel and screenplay, Billy Joe kills himself after a drunken homosexual experience, and the object thrown from the bridge is the narrator’s ragdoll. The film was released in 1976, directed and produced by Max Baer, Jr, and starring Robby Benson and Glynnis O’Connor. Only the first, second, and fifth verses were sung by Bobbie Gentry in the film, omitting the third and fourth verses.

In the novel, the ragdoll is the central character’s confidant and advisor. Tossing him off the bridge symbolizes throwing away her childhood, becoming a self-contained adult.

Billy Joe’s story is analyzed in Professor John Howard’s history of gay Mississippi entitled Men Like That: A Queer Southern History as an archetype of what Howard calls the “gay suicide myth”.

Cultural Impact: Soon after the song’s chart success, the Tallahatchie Bridge saw an increase in those willing to jump off of it. Since the bridge height is only 20 feet, death or injury was unlikely. To curb the trend, the Leflore County Board enacted a law fining jumpers $100.

Do you remember this song and did you have questions regarding the characters and why Billie Joe jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge?

Here Bobbie Gentry sings her hit song, “Ode To Billie Joe,” on The Andy Williams Show, February 13, 1971

 

The Ballad of Curtis Lowe by Lynyrd Skynyrd – “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” is a song written by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant and recorded by Lynyrd Skynyrd. The song was first released on the band’s 1974 album, Second Helping and again on their compilation, The Essential Lynyrd Skynyrd and later on All Time Greatest Hits. It is on many of their compilation albums and before the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash, was performed once live on stage. Ed King says, “The original version of the band only played ‘Curtis Loew’ one time on stage. We were playing in a basement in some hotel and thought we’d try it. We never played it again until the Tribute Tour with Johnny Van Zant.”

A young boy wakes up “before the rooster crows” and searches for soda bottles to cash in to give some money to a man named Curtis Loew, who buys wine and plays his Dobro guitar “across his knees” for the boy all day. Curtis is described as a “black man with white curly hair” who “looked to be sixty”. The boy idolizes Curtis, returning to him, despite receiving beatings from his mama, to hear the old man play and clap along. The boy recalls “people said he [Curtis] was useless. Them people all were fools.” He professes Curtis to be “the finest picker to ever play the blues”. When Curtis eventually dies, the boy notes that nobody “came to pray”. The song ends with a lament to Curtis: “I wish that you was here so everyone would know.”

Origin: The band’s website says that the song is based on a composite of people who actually lived in the Van Zants’ original neighborhood in Jacksonville, Florida.

Curtis Loew is not the name of an actual person from Ronnie Van Zant’s life. Rather, Curtis Loew is a composite of different people, including Skynyrd lead guitarist Ricky Medlocke’s grandfather, Shorty Medlocke. Contrary to the song’s lyrics, Shorty was not black.

The country store “is based on Claude’s Midway Grocery on the corner of Plymouth and Lakeshore [Blvd] in Jacksonville.” The business has since been renamed Sunrise Food Store, but still occupies the same location.

The specific spelling of the surname comes from Ed King writing the liner notes for the Second Helping and deciding to name the bluesman after the Jewish Loew’s Theatre.

Here’s Lynryd Skynyrd performing the song Live at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky in 2007:

 

The Jack by AC/DC – Well, Jack is a boy’s name (which is why I included it, and also because I really like it) but this song isn’t about a boy. It’s about an STD.

This song is about a venereal disease – “The Jack” is Australian slang for Gonorrhea, which is also known as “The Clap.” AC/DC lead singer Bon Scott explained the origin of the song in a 1976 interview with Sounds. Said Scott: “We were living with this houseful of ladies who were all very friendly and everyone in the band had got the jack. So we wrote this song and the first time we did it on stage they were all in the front row with no idea what was goin’ to happen. When it came to repeatin’ ‘She’s got the jack’ I pointed at them one after another.” Added guitarist Angus Young: “After that, wherever we did the song the girls in the audience would run to the back of the hall.”

Bon Scott was known for his outrageous behavior both on and off stage. He told this story in the same Sounds interview:

“One time I had the jack and this girl wanted f–kin’ and she was so ugly I figured, shit! Nobody else would have her so she wouldn’t spread it. But when we’d finished she went next door to Phil (Rudd, their drummer) and gave it to him. And a few weeks later she sent him a doctor’s bill for 35 dollars for the cure. Well, next time she came to a show I got her up on stage in the middle of ‘The Jack’ and explained how she’d got it wrong and it was me owed her the money.” On mike that was.

AC/DC takes the music in their songs much more seriously than their lyrics. They would often finish songs by writing lyrics that amuse them, and this is a good example of that technique.

And this song is a red-flag warning of the consequences of being a promiscuous groupie!

The video below is of AC/DC Live at the Pavillion De Paris on December 9, 1979, during the tour that would be singer Bon Scott’s last. Bon Scott was AC/DC’s lead singer and lyricist from 1974 until his death in 1980. AC/DC’s popularity grew throughout the 1970s, initially in Australia, and then internationally. Their 1979 album Highway to Hell reached the top twenty in the United States, and the band seemed on the verge of a commercial breakthrough. However, on February 19, 1980, Scott died after a night out in London. AC/DC briefly considered disbanding, but the group recruited vocalist Brian Johnson of the British glam rock band Geordie. AC/DC’s subsequent album, Back in Black, was released only five months later, and was a tribute to Scott. It went on to become the second best-selling album in history.

Details of Bon Scott’s death: On February 19, 1980, Scott, 33, passed out after a night of heavy drinking in a London club called the Music Machine (currently known as KOKO). He was left to sleep in a Renault 5 owned by an acquaintance named Alistair Kinnear, at 67 Overhill Road in East Dulwich. The following morning, Kinnear found Scott lifeless, and alerted the authorities. Scott was rushed to King’s College Hospital in Camberwell, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. It has been contended that pulmonary aspiration of vomit was the cause of Scott’s death, but the official cause was listed on the death certificate as “acute alcohol poisoning” and classified as “death by misadventure.”

In the July 2004 issue of Classic Rock, Scott was rated as number one in a list of the “100 Greatest Frontmen Of All Time” ahead of Freddie Mercury and Robert Plant. Hit Parader ranked Scott as fifth on their 2006 list of the 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Vocalists of all time.

Watch Bon Scott’s final performance of The Jack:

 

Timothy by The Buoys – “Timothy” is a song written by Rupert Holmes and recorded by The Buoys in 1970, presenting the unnerving story of three men trapped in a collapsed mine, two of whom apparently resort to cannibalism against the third (the eponymous character Timothy). The song managed to reach the U.S. Billboard Top 40 chart on April 17, 1971, remaining on the chart for eight weeks, peaking at #17, as listed in The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits by Joel Whitburn. On the U.S. Cash Box Top 100, it spent two weeks at #13. In Canada, the song reached #9.

This song has an interesting story: According to his own account, Holmes and a colleague had discovered the Buoys and convinced Scepter Records to sign them to a one-single contract. Since the deal did not call for the label to promote the single, the band would have to find some other way to get themselves and their song noticed. Holmes suggested a novel solution to this problem: to purposefully record a song likely to be banned, thus generating publicity for the Buoys under the time-honored axiom that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

Holmes has cited the country song “Sixteen Tons” (a 1947 song about the hard life of a coal miner) and the 1959 film adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play Suddenly, Last Summer (which also contains allusions to cannibalism) as inspirations for “Timothy.” He decided to combine the themes of those two works into a ballad of three miners—Timothy, Joe and the singer—trapped by a cave-in, sung in the first person from the perspective of one of the miners. By the time they’re rescued, only two of them remain. Although the fate of the missing man, Timothy, is never explicitly revealed, it is strongly implied by the fact that the two survivors, once hungry and with no access to food and only enough water for two people, show no sign of hunger when they’re rescued. Indeed, the singer’s “stomach was full as it could be;” how they found food, however, is purposely left blank, and the singer has blacked out the experience leaving him unable to recall how they found food or what happened to Timothy (the lyrics make it clear he suspects he and Joe ate Timothy; “God, why don’t I know?!”). To make the song appealing to listeners, Holmes disguised the borderline-gruesome lyrics to a degree by juxtaposing them against a light, bouncy melody with heavy emphasis on brass and string accompaniment. Although not an official member of the band, Holmes did play piano on this song in addition to writing it.

“Timothy” attracted little attention when it was first released, in large part because Scepter Records did not promote the record. Soon, however, it became popular among young listeners who were able to deduce Timothy’s fate from the lyrics. Only as the song became more frequently requested did radio stations begin to take note of the song and its unsettling subject matter. Then, just as Holmes and the Buoys had expected, the song started getting banned.

Under normal circumstances, a radio ban would be considered the “kiss of death” for a single’s prospects on the Billboard music charts, which at that time were based heavily on radio airplay. Yet “Timothy” had already attracted such a great following that as some radio stations banned the song, competing stations would pick it up to meet the demand. As a result, instead of dropping off as expected, the song continued slowly moving up the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Once they realized they had a hit record on their hands, Scepter Records executives tried to claim that Timothy was really a mule, not a person, in order to get radio stations that had banned the song to reconsider. When asked about this claim, however, Holmes refused to play along with the Scepter executives. Even so, “Timothy” kept climbing the chart, finally peaking at #17. Holmes’ entrepreneurial approach to songwriting had worked better than he, the Buoys, or Scepter Records ever expected. To appease the stations that banned the song, Scepter created two promotional singles with the original version on the A-sides and one of two differently edited versions on the B-sides. One edit revises the lyric “My stomach was full as it could be” to “Both of us fine as we could be”. The second version includes the “stomach” lyric but bleeps out the word “hell” in the second verse.

The success of “Timothy” and its writer’s methods may have worked too well for the Buoys’ sake. Although Scepter did re-sign the band to record an album, they were left with the problem of how to follow up on a hit song as unusual as “Timothy”. Ultimately the Buoys proved unable to duplicate that feat, although they did manage one more minor hit with “Give Up Your Guns” (also co-written by Holmes) before disbanding; two of the members of the Buoys went on to form Dakota, a band that had a modest following in the 1980s. Meanwhile, Holmes himself continued his career as a songwriter and, by the end of the decade, also as a successful recording artist in his own right, having two top-ten hits in “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” in late 1979 and “Him” in 1980.

 

Uncle Albert, Admiral Halsey by Paul McCartney – “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” is a song by Paul and Linda McCartney from the album Ram. Released in the United States as a single on August 2, 1971, it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on 4 September 1971, making it the first of a string of post-Beatles, McCartney-penned singles to top the US pop chart during the 1970s and 1980s. Billboard ranked the song as number 22 on its Top Pop Singles of 1971 year-end chart. It became McCartney’s first gold record as a solo artist.

“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” is composed of several unfinished song fragments that McCartney stitched together similar to the medleys from the Beatles’ album Abbey Road. In the later years of The Beatles, they did this a lot as a way to put unfinished songs to good use.

For this song, McCartney combined pieces of various unfinished songs and as a result his creation “Uncle Albert – Admiral Halsey” contains 12 different sections over the course of its 4:50 running time. This jumble of musical textures, comic character voices, sound effects and changing tempos turned off a lot of listeners, but many others thought it was brilliant.

The song is especially notable for its sound effects, including the sounds of a thunderstorm, with rain, heard between the first and second verses, the sound of a telephone ringing and a message machine, heard after the second verse, and the sound of chirping sea birds and wind by the seashore. Linda’s voice is heard in the harmonies as well as the bridge section of the “Admiral Halsey” portion of the song.

McCartney said “Uncle Albert” was based on his uncle. Albert was Albert Kendall, who married Paul’s aunt Milly (becoming “Uncle Albert”) and provided inspiration for a portion of this song suite. Albert had a habit of getting drunk and reading from The Bible; the only time he read from the Bible was when he was drinking. “He’s someone I recall fondly, and when the song was coming it was like a nostalgia thing.” McCartney also said, “As for Admiral Halsey, he’s one of yours, an American admiral”, referring to Fleet Admiral William “Bull” Halsey (1882–1959). McCartney has described the “Uncle Albert” section of the song as an apology from his generation to the older generation, and Admiral Halsey as an authoritarian figure who ought to be ignored.

Paul McCartney won the Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists in 1971 for the song. The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies. On the US charts, the song set a songwriting milestone as the all-time songwriting record (at the time) for the most consecutive calendar years to write a #1 song. This gave McCartney eight consecutive years (starting with “I Want to Hold Your Hand”), leaving behind Lennon with only seven years. The song wasn’t released as a single in the UK, but in America it became McCartney’s first #1 hit as a solo artist.

Similar to the song being a stitched string of fragments, this video follows in the same vein with snippets and pieces of Paul and Linda McCartney’s family life:

 

Vincent by Don McLean – “Vincent” is a song by Don McLean written as a tribute to Vincent van Gogh. It is also known by its opening line, “Starry Starry Night”, a reference to Van Gogh’s painting The Starry Night. The song also describes different paintings done by the artist. It was created on the 100th anniversary of the midpoint of Van Gogh’s life.

McLean wrote the lyrics in 1971 after reading a book about the life of the artist. The following year, the song became the number one hit in the UK Singles Chart and No. 12 in the US. Coincidentally, it spent 12 weeks on the Hot 100. In the US, “Vincent” also peaked at number two on the Easy Listening chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 94 song for 1972.

The song makes use of the accordion, vibraphone, strings, and guitar.

The fabulous art-filled video features Don McLean’s “Starry, Starry Night” set to a slideshow of Vincent Van Gogh paintings. Enjoy!

In 2000, PBS aired Don McLean: Starry, Starry Night, a concert special that was filmed in Austin, Texas.

 

You Don’t Mess Around with Jim by Jim Croce – “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” is a 1972 single by Jim Croce from his album of the same name. The song was also Croce’s debut single when it was released in June 1972 on ABC Records as ABC-11328. The song first aired on KHJ 930 AM in Los Angeles when ABC Records promotion man Marty Kupps took the single to the radio station where it appeared on the KHJ “30” chart at number 27 during the week of June 6th 1972. After spending 11 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the song reached a peak of #8 the week ending Sept. 9, 1972. Croce performed the song on American Bandstand on Aug. 12, 1972. Billboard ranked it as the No. 68 song for 1972.

This song was Croce’s first single. After several years struggling for success and battling music industry politics, the song got the promotion it deserved when rep at ABC/Dunhill named Matty Singer visited radio stations in the Philadelphia area to promote the song. It got solid airplay and national attention, which was followed by lots of positive press for the album. You Don’t Mess Around With Jim wasn’t released until nine months after it had been recorded, so Croce and his musical partner Maury Muehleisen had perfected the songs in performance. When critics saw the show, they usually had very nice things to say in their reviews.

The lyrics to “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” are set at an underground pool hall on 42nd Street in New York City. “Big” Jim Walker, a pool hustler who is not too bright but is respected because of his tough reputation, his considerable strength and size, and his skill at pool, has formed a sort of gang of “bad folks” who regularly gather at night in the pool hall. Their recurring word of advice is as follows:

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape

You don’t spit into the wind

You don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger

And you don’t mess around with Jim

A fellow pool player named Willie “Slim” McCoy comes from south Alabama to the pool hall to get his money back from Jim after being hustled out of it the previous week. When Jim comes in, McCoy ambushes and kills him, stabbing him in “about a hundred places” (to the point where “the only part that wasn’t bloody was the soles of [his] feet”) and shooting him “in a couple more”. It is implied that McCoy now has his money back as well as the respect formerly granted to Jim, and the regulars at the pool hall have now changed their advice to strangers: “You don’t mess around with Slim”.

The song is noted for its spoken recitation, which is heard following the third verse and chorus:

Yeah, Big Jim got his hat

Find out where it’s at

And it’s not hustlin’ people strange to you

Even if you do got a two-piece custom-made pool cue

This is followed by the repeat of the Chorus and the repeated Coda before the song’s fade.

(Croce tells a similar story— a much-feared tough guy who gets his comeuppance from someone even tougher— in his later hit single “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”).

So how did Croce come up with these lyrical stories? They’re based on actual people that Jim knew, according to Ingrid Croce, his wife at the time:

The “Jim” in this song is not Croce. Ingrid Croce, who was married to Jim at the time of his death in 1973, told Songfacts: “Jim (Croce) sold air time for a radio station. When he got out of college, his parents wanted him to get a good 9-to-5 job. We had always intended to do music, but he’d had a college education and the first to graduate from his family with a college education, they wanted him to become a professional, to really do something that would get pension, and good solid work. So Jim went out, because we were married, and he got a job helping me to get through school at the time, and he started selling air time in a really shady area down in south and west Philadelphia. He used to go to some of these pool halls to sell the air time, because it wasn’t a very good neighborhood. He would sit there and watch the pool games and see what people were doing, and he ended up with a guy named Jim Walker, who was one of the guys who used to play pool there. And that’s really the story behind it, he used to hang out at any of those little shops down on South Street and down in west Philly where it really was quite unacceptable for him to be trying to sell air time down there, but it was one of those things where he was hoping someday he could actually bring his music to the radio, so he thought it might be a good way to get going as a salesman. Then later he met a guy whose name was Melvin Goldfield, and Melvin was an artist, and he grew up in areas like that, and Melvin used to take him down to the dumps down in south Philadelphia and tell him about all kinds of stories that went on down there, and introduced him to a lot of the guys. Jim actually did run into this guy, Big Jim Walker, pool-shootin’ son of a gun. And so that story really comes out of an experience that he kind of put the story together.”

For Jim Croce, the touring life meant mostly one small college campus after another. When he was killed at age 30 on September 20, 1973 in Natchitoches, Louisiana, he was doing what he had done many times before – taking off at night in a light plane from a small airstrip. The plane snagged in a treetop at the end of the dim runway outside Natchitoches, and sent 30-year-old Jim and five others to their deaths. Maury Muehleisen, Jim’s lead guitarist and constant companion, also died in the crash. The tree Jim Croce’s plane crashed into after leaving a gig at Northwestern College is gone, but Highway 1 takes you right to the end of the runway where the tragic incident occurred. Address: Natchitoches Regional Airport, Hwy 1, Natchitoches, LA.

Croce’s death left his wife Ingrid Croce very much alone. She had already lost both her parents, and after Jim’s fatal accident at age 26, she was instantly transformed into a single mother and thrust into 12 years of litigation to retrieve the right to her husband’s royalties. Two years later her only son, Adrian James, suffered a neurological disease that left him with limited eyesight, and her own singing career was dashed when surgery damaged her vocal cords.

Ingrid Croce became a very effective businesswoman, opening two restaurants and three bars in the Gaslamp district of San Diego, including one named Croce’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar. A giant mural portrait of Jim Croce takes up the back wall of that restaurant, and Ingrid says it serves as an inspiration to her “To build a community for me and Jim’s memories.”

Jim’s son Adrian Croce also became a musician. A singer, songwriter and pianist, he specializes in an up-tempo brand of Jazz. (thanks, Kain – Charleston, SC)

 

There you have my spotlight of Boy Names in the Title songs. Do you have a favorite in the mix I put together? Do you like learning the stories behind songs? Were you surprised by any of the background facts that were presented? 

For a LONG Block of 44 of my favorite Boy Name Songs, click on the full playlist below. Crank it up and ENJOY!

 

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

 

 

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me – Songs that Start with the First Letter of Your Name

Today’s Monday’s Music Moves Me theme is “Songs that start with the first letter of your name.” And boy am I ever glad that my name starts with an M! There are tons of great songs that start with the letter M. I’ve put together a playlist with my favorite M songs (which can be found at the bottom of this post) and I’ve also highlighted a few* of those favorites by sharing some of the songs’ background. The post is long but you can scroll through and read what you want to read and disregard the rest if you don’t have time. Or you can skip right to the playlist at the end for a continuous block of great songs all starting with the letter M (and there are several other songs in the playlist that are not spotlighted here).

I hope you enjoy this post as much as I’ve enjoyed putting it together! Let’s get started with some of my favorite M songs:

Madman Across the Water by Elton John – “Madman Across the Water” is the title track from Elton John’s fourth studio album, released in 1971. A very dark song with a Leon Russell influence, Bernie Taupin made up the story about a lunatic ranting on visiting day at the asylum. Predictably, it wasn’t chartworthy, but it did provide the album title as well as plenty of speculation that Elton was singing about United States president Richard Nixon. Taupin says that wasn’t the case, although he was quite amused by the interpretation. He says the lunatic in the song wasn’t based on anyone in particular.

“Tiny Dancer” and “Levon” were the most popular songs on the Madman Across the Water album, but Elton says that he feels most connected to the title track. The album marked a major musical shift for Elton, as he brought a guitarist into his band for the first time, enlisting Davey Johnstone.

 

Mainstreet by Bob Seger – “Mainstreet” is a song written and recorded by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band. It was released in April 1977 as the second single from the album Night Moves. The song peaked at #24 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and has since become a staple of classic rock radio. The song also reached #1 in Canada.

Seger wrote this song about his high school years in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he grew up. The song explores the promise of youth, and what Seger calls his “awakening” after being a quiet, awkward kid for most of his youth.

Seger has stated that the street he was singing about is Ann Street, just off Main Street in Ann Arbor. There was a pool hall there where they had girls dancing in the window and R&B bands playing on the weekends.

Seger recorded this song at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Sheffield, Alabama. The studio was owned by four of the guys who played on the track: David Hood (bass), Jimmy Johnson (rhythm guitar), Roger Hawkins (drums) and Barry Beckett (keyboards). The lead guitarist on the session was Pete Carr.

While most of Seger’s work was done with his Silver Bullet Band, he did make a few trips to Alabama to record at MSSS, taking advantage of the talented musicians and lack of distractions. His hit “Old Time Rock And Roll” was also recorded there.

 

Make It by Aerosmith – “Make It” is the first song on Aerosmith’s self-titled debut album, Aerosmith. It was released as a promo single for the album, but got little to no airplay. The song begins with the protagonist welcoming people to a show and tells them he has something they should know, the info in question is to make it and not break it, which means to succeed in achieving your dreams and not letting anything stop you (much like Aerosmith in their early club days performing up to three shows a day trying to get a record deal).

In the authorized Stephen Davis band memoir Walk This Way, Tyler speaks at length about the origins of the songs:

“Make It” – “I wrote ‘Make It’ in a car driving from New Hampshire to Boston. There’s that hill you come to and see the skyline of Boston, and I was sitting in the backseat thinking, What would be the greatest thing to sing for an audience if we were opening up for the…Stones? What would the lyrics say?”

 

Make Me Smile by Chicago – “Make Me Smile” is a song written by James Pankow for the rock band Chicago with the band’s guitarist, Terry Kath, on lead vocals. It was recorded for their second album, Chicago (often called Chicago II), which was released in March of 1970. It became the band’s first Top 10 record, peaking at number nine on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.

James Pankow, a founding member of Chicago whose primary instrument is the trombone, said that what made him smile was the thought of a beautiful relationship. In a Songfacts interview with Pankow, he explained: “Relationships, if they’re good, put a big smile on our faces. Love songs have always been a powerful ingredient in the song’s process – the songwriting process has often taken writers to that place.”

Here is a video of the Peanuts Gang singing Make Me Smile from Garren Lazar’s YouTube channel (Find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/garren.lazar)

 

Mama Kin by Aerosmith – “Mama Kin” is a song by American hard rock band Aerosmith, which appears on their self-titled debut album. The song was written by the lead singer Steven Tyler. Being the band’s first ever single, it has been played live for several decades afterward, appearing on the live albums Live! Bootleg, Classics Live, and A Little South of Sanity. “Mama Kin” is featured as a re-recorded track on the video game Guitar Hero: Aerosmith.

“Mama Kin” is Steven Tyler’s idea of a spiritual force that drives creativity and pleasure. “Keep in touch with Mama Kin” means remembering the desires that drive you to excel.

This was a very early Aerosmith song, and one that helped them get signed to Columbia Records. In 1972, the band had finished a round of touring where they performed this song, and got the deal after Clive Davis of Columbia saw them perform at a New York club called Max’s Kansas City. Steven Tyler told his bandmates this was the song that was going to make them rich and famous. He had so much confidence in “Mama Kin” that he went to Eddy’s tattoo parlor in Providence, Rhode Island and had the words “MA KIN” tattooed on his left bicep beneath a winged heart. Tyler and Perry have both said that his arm was too thin to fit the whole title. Lol.

Fun Fact: In the early 1990s, Aerosmith opened up a bar in their hometown of Boston. It was a music club near Fenway Park. They called it the Mama Kin Music Hall and it was a showcase for live music. The club has since closed.

 

Mama Told Me (Not to Come) by Three Dog Night – “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)” is a song by American singer-songwriter Randy Newman written for Eric Burdon’s first solo album in 1966. Three Dog Night’s 1970 cover of the song topped the US pop singles chart.

Newman says that the song was inspired by his own lighthearted reflection on the Los Angeles music scene of the late 1960s. As with most Newman songs, he assumes a character – in “Mama Told Me…” the narrator is a sheltered and extraordinarily straight-laced young man, who recounts what is presumably his first “wild” party in the big city, is shocked and appalled by cigarette-smoking, whiskey-drinking, and loud music and — in the chorus of the song — recalls his “mama told [him] not to come.”

This song has the distinction of being the very first #1 hit on the American Top 40 syndicated radio program. The show, hosted by Casey Kasem, became popular on AM radio throughout the world until its decline in the mid-1990s. This beat out The Beatles’ “The Long and Winding Road” (their last hit record before the final breakup) and Elvis Presley’s “The Wonder of You” for top chart honors in early August 1970.

Cory Wells, who sang lead on this track, was the Three Dog Night band member who pushed to record it. He was a big fan of the song and played it with his previous band.

 

Man Like That by Gin Wigmore – Gin Wigmore (born Virginia Claire Wigmore on June 6, 1986) is a singer and songwriter from New Zealand. “Man Like That” is from her 2011 album Gravel & Wine, which was a chart-toppers on the New Zealand Albums Chart. She is known for her high and raspy voice. I first became aware of Gin Wigmore as some of her music was featured in one of my “guilty-pleasure reality TV” series Mob Wives.

Wigmore first achieved success as a singer-songwriter when in 2004, she won the US-based International Songwriting Competition with her tune “Hallelujah.” In doing so, she became the youngest and only unsigned Grand Prize winner in the history of the ISC. Back in her home country, Wigmore built up a sizable fan base based on the strength of first two long-players, 2009’s Holy Smoke and 2011’s Gravel & Wine, both of which topped the New Zealand album chart. She also featured on Smashproof’s single “Brother,” which spent 11 weeks at #1 on the RIANZ singles charts.

The song gained worldwide attention when it featured in a 2012 Heineken commercial that showed James Bond drinking the beer. Wigmore appears in the commercial as the chanteuse singing the tune.

Wigmore told MTV News the song was written about a former boyfriend who “was a total dick.” She calls this song “a warning for any future lovers.” She explained: “It’s telling the girl that’s currently dating a man I’ve dated that he’s a bit of a dick.”

The video was directed by Sean Gilligan and is loosely set in the 1920s, with Wigmore wearing something resembling a flapper dress and dancing a Charleston.

 

Man on the Silver Mountain by Rainbow – “Man on the Silver Mountain” is the first single by Rainbow and the first track of their debut album, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Written by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and singer Ronnie James Dio, this song is, as Dio said, “a semi-religious one, a man on the silver mountain is a kind of God figure everyone is crying out to”. This track became one of Rainbow’s best-known tracks and was also a live favourite for any Rainbow line-up, and also the band Dio. The words “The man on the silver mountain Ronnie James Dio” are inscribed on his grave.

 

Mandolin Rain by Bruce Hornsby & the Range – “Mandolin Rain” is the third track from The Way It Is, the debut album for Bruce Hornsby and the Range. The song, released in late 1986, was a #4 hit single for the band in March 1987, following on the success of their previous single, the #1 hit and title track of their debut album, “The Way It Is”. It also reached #1 on the adult contemporary chart for three weeks, and #2 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart for two weeks, also in early 1987. The song even reached the Top 40 on the Country chart, hitting number 38.

The song was co-written by Bruce Hornsby and his brother John and featured Range member David Mansfield on the title instrument.

Bruce Hornsby scored box office gold again with this song. It kept up Hornsby’s career momentum. The song is about a failed southern romance between two people who enjoy the rainfall and spent a lot of intimate time in it, but now that she’s gone, the singer mourns her loss and is reminded of her when he hears the rain.

The song was used in the 2009 movie World’s Greatest Dad, with Robin Williams. Hornsby made a cameo appearance in the film and played an alternate acoustic version of the song, which had been previously arranged but never released until the film’s soundtrack.

 

Marrakesh Express by Crosby, Stills & Nash – “Marrakesh Express” is a song written by Graham Nash and performed by the band Crosby, Stills and Nash (CSN). It was first released in May of 1969 on the self-titled album, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and released on a 45-RPM single in July of the same year, with another CSN song, “Helplessly Hoping,” as its backing side. The single reached No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 on August 23, 1969. The song became Crosby Stills and Nash’s first hit in the US, and surprisingly their only Top 40 single in the UK.

Interestingly, “Marrakesh Express” was written and composed by Graham Nash during his final years as a member of the English rock band, The Hollies, of which he was a member from its formation in 1962 till 1968. The band rejected the song as not commercial enough, but it found a home with Nash’s new band Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Marrakesh is a city in Morocco famous for leather goods. The “Marrakesh Express” is the train Graham Nash took on a trip there in 1966. The lyrics are filled with the sights, sounds and vibes that he encountered on the trip.

Nash recalled his inspiration for the song occurring during a Moroccan vacation he took in ‘66. On the trip, Nash traveled by train from Casablanca to Marrakesh. (Whether this was an express train, he did not specify.) He began the journey in First Class, surrounded by people he found to be uninteresting–as he described it, they were all “ladies with blue hair.” Upon this observation, he decided the compartment was “completely fucking boring,” so left his seat to explore the other train carriages. He was fascinated by what he saw.

The song mentions “ducks and pigs and chickens,” and that, according to Nash, is actually what was there. He recalls the ride by commenting: “It’s literally the song as it is–what happened to me.”

Fun Fact: The first public appearance of “Marrakesh Express” was at the Woodstock Music Festival. Between 3 am and 4 am on August 18, 1969, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young came together as a band for the second time in public and performed a set that included what Graham Nash called “a medley of our hit,” referring to this song, the first single from their debut album. (Neil Young did not play during the acoustic part of their set which included “Marrakesh Express.)

 

Maybe I’m Amazed by Paul McCartney – “Maybe I’m Amazed” is a song written by Paul McCartney that was first released on his 1970 album McCartney. McCartney dedicated the song to his wife, Linda, who had helped him get through the break-up of the Beatles.

Although the original recording has never been released as a single, a live performance by McCartney’s later band Wings, from the live album Wings over America, was. The original studio version of the song finished with a fade instead of a full ending, but McCartney later composed an ending that can be heard on the live versions of the song. McCartney first performed this live with Wings, in Châteauvallon, France, on July 9, 1972. A live recording from the 1976 album Wings over America was released as a single by McCartney’s band Wings on February 4, 1977 and reached number 10 in the US on the Billboard pop charts and reached number 28 in the UK.

McCartney wrote the song in 1969, just before the Beatles’ break-up. He credited his wife Linda with helping him get through the difficult time. Although most of his debut solo album was recorded at his home in London, McCartney recorded “Maybe I’m Amazed” entirely in EMI’s Number Two studio in Abbey Road, on the same day as he recorded “Every Night”. He played all the instruments: guitars, bass, piano, organ and drums. Although McCartney declined to release the song as a single in 1970, it nonetheless received a great deal of radio airplay worldwide. A promotional film was made, comprising still photographs of McCartney, his wife Linda and stepdaughter Heather, which first aired in the UK on April 19, 1970 on ITV in its own slot, and as a part of an episode of CBS Television’s The Ed Sullivan Show.

Regarded as one of McCartney’s finest love songs, it achieved the number 347 position in the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list compiled by Rolling Stone magazine in November 2004. In a late 2009 Q&A with journalists held in London to promote his live album Good Evening New York City, McCartney said “Maybe I’m Amazed” was “the song he would like to be remembered for in the future.”

FUN FACT: McCartney, an animal rights activist, appeared on The Simpsons episode 3F03, “Lisa The Vegetarian.” McCartney helps Lisa become a vegetarian and tells her that if you play this song backwards, you hear a recipe for lentil soup. Over the closing credits of that episode, if you listen carefully, you can hear the backwards message. As an extra feature on The Simpsons DVD, you can hear McCartney read the recipe and say, “There you have it Simpsons lovers, oh and by the way, I’m alive.” Lol.

With the exception of John Lennon, each Beatle has been on at least one episode of The Simpsons. George Harrison was on the episode “The B- Sharps” and Ringo was on the “The Letter.”

 

Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard by Paul Simon – “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” is a song by American singer-songwriter Paul Simon. It was the second single from his second self-titled studio album (1972), released on Columbia Records. Paul Simon was Simon’s first solo album after he broke up with Art Garfunkel.

The song is about two boys (“Me and Julio”) who have broken a law, although the exact law that has been broken is not stated in the song. When “the mama pajama” finds out what they have done, she goes to the police station to report the crime. The individuals are later arrested, but released when a “radical priest” intervenes.

The meaning and references in the song have long provoked debate. In a July 20, 1972 interview for Rolling Stone, Jon Landau asked Simon: “What is it that the mama saw? The whole world wants to know.” Simon replied “I have no idea what it is… Something sexual is what I imagine, but when I say ‘something’, I never bothered to figure out what it was. Didn’t make any difference to me.” This implies that Simon left the crime up to the imagination of the listener, allowing each person who listens to the song to draw their own conclusion from their own thoughts and experiences. This has not stopped speculation on a definite interpretation: commentators have detected references to recreational drug use, and believe that the mother saw the boy buying drugs. More recently, in October 2010, Simon described the song as “a bit of inscrutable doggerel”, while the “radical priest” has been interpreted as a reference to Daniel Berrigan, who featured on the cover of Time on January 25th, 1971, near when the song was written.

The percussion sound, the odd squiggly sound thoughout the song, unusual for American pop, was created with a Cuica, a Brazilian friction drum instrument often used in samba music. It was played by the Brazilian musician Airto Moreira.

 

 

Me and You and a Dog Named Boo by Lobo – “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” is the 1971 debut single by Lobo. Written by Lobo under his real name Kent LaVoie, it appears on the Introducing Lobo album. Lobo means “Wolf” in Spanish.

The single peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the first of his four number one hits on the Easy Listening chart, where it had a two-week stay at #1 in May 1971. The song also reached #4 in the UK Singles Chart in July 1971, and it spent four weeks at #1 in New Zealand. Internationally, “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” was Lobo’s second most successful song.

This song is about two hippies and a dog taking a cross-country road trip in an old car that runs poorly. The protagonists of the song get mired in the Georgia clay, steal food from a farmer and work to pay it off, and end up living in Los Angeles, but the old car makes them want to hit the road again. Judging from my experience with classic cars, the 1946-55 Kaiser automobile runs poorly and fits into the time frame of the song.

 

Mercy Mercy Me by Marvin Gaye – “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” Is a classic single from Marvin Gaye’s 1971 album, What’s Going On. Following the breakthrough of the title track’s success, the song, written solely by Gaye, became one of the most poignant anthems of sorrow regarding the environment.

Many years before global warming became a hot topic, Marvin Gaye wrote this song about the environment and how we have an obligation to care for the Earth. For his What’s Going On album (1971), Gaye got away from love ballads and explored deeper social themes, which at first didn’t sit well with Motown boss Berry Gordy, who thought these songs wouldn’t be marketable. The success of the title track proved otherwise, and “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” became a #1 R&B hit and soared to #4 on the Billboard Pop chart.

According to Earl Van Dyke of Motown’s house band the Funk Brothers, Berry Gordy did not know what the word “ecology” meant when he heard this song. It had to be explained to him.

 

Midnight Confessions by the Grass Roots – “Midnight Confessions” is a song written by Lou T. Josie and originally performed by the Ever-Green Blues. It was later made famous by American rock band The Grass Roots, who released the song as a single in 1968 (see 1968 in music). It was the first single from their fourth studio album, Golden Grass. The single was, however, released five months in advance of the album.

The Grass Roots version became the band’s biggest charting hit on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching the Top 5 of both the U.S. and Canadian pop singles charts. The lyrics describe a man who is infatuated with a married woman, knows he can never have her, and is relegated to confessing his love for her audibly, but alone. The song appears to be a musical dramatization of the midnight confession of the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale’s love for Hester Prynne in the classic 1850 Nathaniel Hawthorne novel, “The Scarlet Letter.”

 

Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight & the Pips – “Midnight Train to Georgia” is a 1973 number-one hit single by Gladys Knight & the Pips, their second release after departing Motown Records for Buddah Records. Written by Jim Weatherly, and included on the Pips’ 1973 LP Imagination, “Midnight Train to Georgia” won the 1974 Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by A Duo, Group Or Chorus and has become Knight’s signature song.

In her autobiography, Between Each Line of Pain and Glory, Gladys Knight wrote that she hoped the song was a comfort to the many thousands who come each year from elsewhere to Los Angeles to realize the dream of being in motion pictures or music, but then fail to realize that dream and plunge into despair.

Films and television shows in which “Midnight Train to Georgia” is part of the soundtrack include The Deer Hunter, 30 Rock, House M.D., Broadcast News, and Las Vegas. It also gets its day in the sun in the 1974 episode of VH1’s I Love the ’70s: Volume 2. Richard Pryor (we still miss him) also used it in his 1977 special.

 

Mind Games by John Lennon – “Mind Games” is a song written and performed by John Lennon, released as a single in 1973 on Apple Records. It was the lead single for the album of the same name. The UK single and album were issued simultaneously on November 16, 1973. In the US it peaked at No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 10 on the Cashbox Top 100. In the UK it peaked at No. 26.

This started off as a song called “Make Love Not War,” which had a strong antiwar sentiment. Lennon eventually abandoned that theme and wrote an entirely different lyric to the melody. This song is inspired by a book he read called Mind Games: The Guide to Inner Space. Written by Robert Masters and Jean Houston, it explains how we can improve ourselves on various levels by playing tricks on our minds; the song is really about making yourself a better person.

Interesting background on how the song came together: This song, which was begun in 1969 and can be heard in the Beatles’ Let It Be sessions, was originally titled “Make Love, Not War”, a popular hippie slogan at that time. Another song, “I Promise”, contains the melody that would later be featured on “Mind Games”. The original Lennon demos for “Make Love, Not War” and “I Promise”, recorded in 1970, are available on the John Lennon Anthology. Lennon finished writing the song after reading the book Mind Games: The Guide to Inner Space by Robert Masters and Jean Houston (1972). Lennon later encountered Masters in a restaurant and told him, “I am one of your fans. You wrote Mind Games.”

In keeping with the original theme, the lyrics advocate unity, love, and a positive outlook. The lyric “YES is the answer” is a nod to his wife Yoko Ono’s art piece that brought them together originally. The song was recorded as Lennon split with her for his 18-month “lost weekend” with May Pang. (May Fung Yee Pang (born October 24, 1950) is an American, best known as the former girlfriend of John Lennon. She had previously worked as a personal assistant and production coordinator for Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono. In 1973, when Lennon and Ono separated, Pang and Lennon had a relationship lasting over 18 months, during a time which Lennon later referred to as his “Lost Weekend.” Pang subsequently produced two books about their relationship: a memoir called Loving John (Warner, 1983) and a book of photographs, Instamatic Karma (St. Martin’s Press, 2008).

 

Mississippi Queen by Mountain – “Mississippi Queen” is a song by the American rock band Mountain. Considered a rock classic, it was their most successful single, reaching number 21 in the Billboard Hot 100 record chart in 1970. The song is included on the group’s debut album and several live recordings have been issued. “Mississippi Queen” has been recorded by several artists, including W.A.S.P., Sam Kinison, Amanda Ayala, and Ozzy Osbourne, the latter of which had a hit with the song in 2005.

The song is about a seductive woman who teaches the singer a thing or two about the ways of love, but with the success of “Proud Mary” a year earlier, it almost sounds like this could be another song about a riverboat. In 1976, the “Mississippi Queen” riverboat was put into service by the Delta Queen company, taking its last cruise in 2008.

This is one of the most famous cowbell songs of all time, but the band didn’t envision the instrument in the song. In our interview with Leslie West, he explained: “The cowbell in the beginning was just in there because Felix wanted Corky to count the song off. So we used the cowbell to count it off – it wasn’t put in there on purpose. And it became the quintessential cowbell song.”

“Mississippi Queen” was recorded during the sessions for Mountain’s 1970 debut album Climbing! According to drummer Corky Laing, he had developed some of the lyrics and the drum part prior to his joining the band. Later, when guitarist Leslie West was looking for lyrics for a guitar part he had written, Laing pulled out “The Queen” and the two worked out the song together; bassist/producer Felix Pappalardi and lyricist David Rea also received songwriting credits. When the group proceeded to record “Mississippi Queen”, Pappalardi insisted on numerous takes. Growing weary, Laing started using the cowbell to count off the song. Pappalardi liked it so much he left it in the mix, creating the song’s recognizable intro.

The song was used in a popular commercial for Miller Genuine Draft beer where some guys traveling in a jungle open a bottle of the beer to magically freeze the body of water separating them from some lovely ladies who beckon.

 

Misunderstanding by Genesis – “Misunderstanding” is a song by English rock band Genesis, released on their 1980 album Duke. It reached No. 14 in the U.S. and No. 42 in the UK. Its highest charting was in Canada, where it reached No. 1 and is ranked as the seventh biggest Canadian hit of 1980.

This was the second Top 40 US hit for Genesis, following “Follow You, Follow Me.” The band began divesting themselves of their progressive rock roots in 1978 with the release of their album And Then There Were Three. They continued moving toward more compact pop songs with “Misunderstanding.”

This was one of the first songs Phil Collins wrote on his own. He was going through a very difficult time – his first wife Andrea had left him and taken their two children with her. Phil found himself alone in the house he once shared with them, and began writing songs – sad ones.

“Misunderstanding” finds Collins getting stood up and failing to understand that the girl wants nothing to do with him. Despite all evidence to the contrary, he keeps blaming her evasiveness on “some misunderstanding.”

To write songs for the Duke album, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks moved into Collins’ house in Surrey, England for six weeks. Collins hadn’t done much writing at that point, but Rutherford and Banks were very impressed when he played them this song. Five of the other songs for the album were group efforts written during these sessions when the band would jam together.

Banks recalled to Cleveland’s 98.5 WNCX: “‘Misunderstanding’ was the first song we recorded that Phil wrote. Phil didn’t used to write all that much of Genesis’ material in the early days, up to and including Duke, really. He just didn’t rate himself as a writer that much, I don’t think, and he’d never really tried it before. But after his problems with his marriage in that year, he started to write songs. And he played us a load of the songs he’d written and we picked out of them two songs. One of them was ‘Misunderstanding.'”

 

Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters  by Elton John – “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” is a song from the Elton John album Honky Château. The lyrics were written by Bernie Taupin and is his take on New York City after hearing a gun go off near his hotel window during his first visit to the city. The song’s lyrics were partly inspired by Ben E. King’s “Spanish Harlem,” written by Jerry Leiber and Phil Spector, in which he sings “There is a rose in Spanish Harlem.” In response to this, Taupin writes,

Now I know

Spanish Harlem are not just pretty words to say

I thought I knew,

but now I know that rose trees never grow in New York City.

The song is one of Elton’s personal favorites as one might imagine because it alternates between despair and optimism; in spite of his talent, fame, critical acclaim and wealth, Elton John has experienced more this his fair share of psychological problems including extreme bulimia and of course those staples of rock musicians everywhere – alcohol and drug abuse.

Elton John himself has called the song “one of my all-time favorites,” upon introducing it at his 60th-birthday concert in New York’s Madison Square Garden. He also delivered a heartfelt rendition at “The Concert for New York City” at Madison Square Garden on October 20, 2001. The concert was meant primarily as a tribute for family members and fellow workers of New York’s Fire and Police and Emergency Medical Services departments, who had been participating in the ongoing recovery efforts at the demolished World Trade Center complex following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. John dedicated the song to the emergency workers and their families, as well as to New York City.

Here is Elton John performing Live at the Honky Chateau debut concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London, February 5th, 1972:

 

Monday, Monday by the Mamas & the Papas – “Monday, Monday” is a 1966 song written by John Phillips and recorded by the Mamas & the Papas using background instruments played by members of The Wrecking Crew for their 1966 album If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears. It was the group’s only number-one hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

Phillips said that he wrote the song quickly, in about 20 minutes. While awaiting the release of “California Dreamin’,” band member Denny Doherty was prodding songwriter John Phillips to come up with some new material. Phillips said he would come back in the morning with “A song with universal appeal.” Ignoring the sarcastic comments from the group members, Phillips came up with “Monday, Monday.” It’s about the lousy feeling that comes with the end of the weekend and beginning of another workweek.

Denny Doherty, who sang lead on this song for The Mamas & the Papas thought very little of “Monday Monday” when they recorded it. “Nobody likes Monday, so I thought it was just a song about the working man,” he said. “Nothing about it stood out to me; it was a dumb fuckin’ song about a day of the week.”

As you can imagine, he was taken by surprise when the song became a huge hit. Doherty wasn’t alone in his incredulity: Mama Cass and Michelle Phillips didn’t like the song either, and John Phillips claimed he had no idea what the song meant.

“Monday, Monday” was the group’s third single. “Go Where You Wanna Go” was issued first and went nowhere, but their next release was “California Dreamin’,” which was a phenomenon. When that song was having its run, radio stations started playing “Monday, Monday” off the album, so by the time it was released as a single, it was already widely anticipated and quickly rose to #1.

On March 2, 1967, The Mamas & the Papas won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for this song.

 

Monkey Man by the Rolling Stones – “Monkey Man” is a song by English rock and roll band the Rolling Stones, featured as the eighth track on their 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!). Mario Schifano was a painter and collagist of the Postmodern tradition. He also achieved some renown as a film-maker and rock musician.

He is considered to be one of the most significant and pre-eminent artists of Italian postmodernism. His work was exhibited in the famous 1962 “New Realists” show at the Sidney Janis Gallery with other young Pop art and Nouveau réalisme luminaries, including Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Reputed as a prolific and exuberant artist, he nonetheless struggled with a lifelong drug habit that earned him the label maledetto, or “cursed”.

The lyrics of “Monkey Man” don’t seem to make much sense, but they are probably about heroin or a bad acid trip. This song was used in the 1990 movie Goodfellas in a scene where the gangsters are trafficking cocaine. The film was directed by Martin Scorsese, who directed the 2008 Rolling Stones documentary Shine a Light.

The Rolling Stones performed “Monkey Man” often on their 1994/95 Voodoo Lounge Tour. A performance of the song features on Live Licks from their 2002/03 Licks Tour.

 

Monster Mash by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers – “Monster Mash” is a 1962 novelty song and the best-known song by Bobby “Boris” Pickett. The song was released as a single in August 1962 along with a full-length LP called The Original Monster Mash, which contained several other monster-themed tunes. The “Monster Mash” single was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on October 20–27 of that year, just before Halloween. It has been a perennial holiday favorite ever since.

Pickett was an aspiring actor who sang with a band called the Cordials at night while going to auditions during the day. One night, while performing with his band, Pickett did a monologue in imitation of horror movie actor Boris Karloff while performing the Diamonds’ “Little Darlin'”. The audience loved it, and fellow band member Lenny Capizzi encouraged Pickett to do more with the Karloff imitation.

Pickett and Capizzi composed “Monster Mash” and recorded it with Gary S. Paxton, pianist Leon Russell, Johnny MacRae, Rickie Page, and Terry Berg, credited as “The Crypt-Kickers”. The song was partially inspired by Paxton’s earlier novelty hit “Alley Oop”, as well as by the Mashed Potato dance craze of the era. A variation on the Mashed Potato was danced to “Monster Mash”, in which the footwork was the same but Frankenstein-style monster gestures were made with the arms and hands.

The song is narrated by a mad scientist whose monster, late one evening, rises from a slab to perform a new dance. The dance becomes “the hit of the land” when the scientist throws a party for other monsters. The producers came up with several low-budget but effective sound effects for the recording. For example, the sound of a coffin opening was imitated by a rusty nail being pulled out of a board. The sound of a cauldron bubbling was actually water being bubbled through a straw, and the chains rattling were simply chains being dropped on a tile floor. Pickett also impersonated horror film actor Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula with the lyric “Whatever happened to my Transylvania Twist?”

 

Moonlight Feels Right by Starbuck – “Moonlight Feels Right” is the debut single recorded by the American band Starbuck. Written and produced by Bruce Blackman, the song was released in the first week of April 1976. The song features a prominent marimba solo by co-founding band member Bo Wagner. When this song was on Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 radio show, it was promoted as the first rock song ever to feature a marimba.

“Moonlight Feels Right” was a major American hit, reaching number three on the Billboard Hot 100, number two on the Cash Box chart, and number one on Record World. It is ranked as the 34th biggest US hit of the year. On the Canadian chart, the song peaked at number three in early August 1976. It is ranked as the 51st biggest Canadian hit of 1976.

The song was featured in the Farrelly Brothers 2003 comedy film Stuck On You, starring Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear.

 

More Than I Can Say by Leo Sayer – “More Than I Can Say” is a song written by Sonny Curtis and Jerry Allison, both former members of Buddy Holly’s band the Crickets. They recorded it in 1959 soon after Holly’s death and released it in 1960. Their original version hit No. 42 on British Record Retailer Chart in 1960. It has been notably performed by singers Bobby Vee, Leo Sayer, and Sammy Kershaw.

Leo Sayer is a British singer-songwriter who enjoyed the majority of his chart success in the 1970s and early 1980s. He had two singles reach No. 1 in the U.S., “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” and “When I Need You”, both in 1977. He nearly had a third song achieve this feat, as his cover version of “More Than I Can Say” spent five weeks at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in December 1980 and January 1981. Sayer’s version of the song was certified a Gold Record by the RIAA. It also spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard adult contemporary chart. In the U.K., the song peaked at No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart, while it spent two weeks atop the Kent Music Report in Australia. Sayer has stated that while looking for an “oldie” to record for his album Living in a Fantasy, he saw a TV commercial for a greatest hits collection by Vee and chose the song on the spot: “We went into a record store that afternoon, bought the record and had the song recorded that night.”

 

More Than This by 10,000 Maniacs“More than This” is a 1982 single by English rock band Roxy Music. It was released as the first single from their final album, Avalon, and was the group’s last Top 10 UK hit (peaking at #6). Although it only reached #102 (on Billboard’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart) in the United States, it remains one of Roxy Music’s best-known songs in America.

The American alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs released a successful cover version in 1997 which peaked at #25, and British singer Emmie released a dance cover version which reached #5 in the UK in January 1999.

The video for the cover was filmed at House on the Rock. A live version was also included on their 2016 album Playing Favorites.

 

Mother & Child Reunion by Paul Simon – “Mother and Child Reunion” is a song by the American singer-songwriter Paul Simon. This was Simon’s first single as a solo artist. It was the lead single from his second self-titled studio album, released in 1972. It was released as a single on February 5, 1972, reaching No. 1 in South Africa and No. 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 57 song for 1972. It was at the time one of the few songs by a non-Jamaican musician to use prominent elements of reggae.

Simon liked reggae, and he listened to prominent reggae artists Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker, and Byron Lee. In fact, Simon wrote this song in response to the Jimmy Cliff antiwar song “Vietnam,” where a mother receives a letter about her son’s death on the battlefield. Simon wanted to go to Kingston, Jamaica to record the song, as that was where Cliff had recorded “Vietnam” in 1970. The song was indeed recorded at Dynamic Sounds Studios at Torrington Bridge in Kingston, Jamaica, with Jimmy Cliff’s backing group, hence the very authentic sound.

The title has its origin in a chicken-and-egg dish called “Mother and Child Reunion” that Simon saw on a Chinese restaurant’s menu (456 Restaurant in Chinatown, New York).

The song’s lyrics were inspired by a pet dog that was run over and killed. It was the first death Simon personally experienced, and he began to wonder how he would react if the same happened to his wife, Peggy Harper. “Somehow there was a connection between this death and Peggy and it was like Heaven, I don’t know what the connection was,” Simon told Rolling Stone in 1972.

 

Mother’s Little Helper by the Rolling Stones – “Mother’s Little Helper” is a song by the English rock band the Rolling Stones, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and was recorded in Los Angeles in December 1965. It first appeared as the opening track to the UK version of their 1966 album Aftermath.

It was released as a single in the United States and peaked at #8 on the Billboard Singles Charts in 1966. The song deals with the sudden popularity of prescribed calming drugs among housewives, and the potential hazards of overdose or addiction. The drug in question is assumed to be Valium.

The song begins with the line that is also heard as the last line in the repeated bridge section: “What a drag it is getting old”.

Kids are different today, I hear every mother say

Mother needs something today to calm her down

And though she’s not really ill, there’s a little yellow pill

She goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper

And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day.

The bridge section, which is repeated, has the line: “Doctor, please/Some more of these/ Outside the Door/ She took four more.”

Toward the end of the song, the mothers are warned:

And if you take more of those

you will get an overdose

No more running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper

They just helped you on your way

through your busy dying day

 

Movin’ Out by Aerosmith – “Movin’ Out” is a song by American hard rock band, Aerosmith and was the seventh song on Aerosmith’s self-titled debut album, Aerosmith. This was the first tune to be penned by Aerosmith’s songwriting partnership of Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. The pair had decided that the best way for them to come up with ideas was to live together, so they moved into an apartment at 1325 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. The song was built upon a guitar lick played by Perry and recorded at home on a water bed.

Perry recalled the writing of the song to Spinner: “I remember it all really well,” he said. “Our first roadie and truck driver, he lived with us and he had a day job building waterbeds. That’s what we had in the apartment, a waterbed. And uncomfortable as it was, I can remember sitting on that waterbed, you know like on the edge making sure not to slide back on the squishy part of the bed but balancing myself and the guitar on that wooden frame. And I would just sit there on the edge of that bed and Steven would be right next to me and that’s really when we started to seriously sit down and write songs. And the first one that came out of that apartment was ‘Movin Out.’ That was the first real song we wrote together.”

“Movin’ Out” gets usually one play per tour on average. Before the song starts, Tyler introduces the song as the first real Aerosmith song, and tells the story of the song’s recording and early Aerosmith history. The first known play of the song was on November 6, 1970 at Nipmuc Regional High School in Mendon, Massachusetts.

The track was featured on Aerosmith’s live compilation, Classics Live! Vol. 2 (1987). An alternate take of the song appears on the band’s box set Pandora’s Box. The song was re-recorded in 2007 for Guitar Hero: Aerosmith.

This video here is the Guitar Hero: Aerosmith version of Movin’ Out. Love the video! About the Guitar Hero project: Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is a music rhythm game developed by Neversoft, published by Activision and distributed by RedOctane. The game is considered an expansion in the Guitar Hero series, extending upon the general features of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. As with other games in the series, the player uses a guitar-shaped controller to simulate the playing of rock music by playing in-time to scrolling notes on-screen.

It is the first game in the series to primarily focus on the work of one rock band, with Aerosmith songs comprising approximately 70% of the soundtrack, while the remaining songs are from bands that have been influenced by or opened for Aerosmith. The single player Career mode allows the player to follow the history of the band through several real-world-inspired venues, interspersed with interviews from the band members about their past. Aerosmith re-recorded four songs for this game, and have participated in a motion capture session to create their in-game appearances.

While Aerosmith was able to provide many of the original master recordings to the development team, the band re-recorded the four songs chosen for the game from their first album: “Make It”, “Movin’ Out”, “Dream On” and “Mama Kin.” Joe Perry re-mastered the lead guitar on many songs to interact with the gameplay better, while Steven Tyler re-recorded some of the vocals.

 

Mr. Big Stuff by Jean Knight – “Mr. Big Stuff” is a song by American singer Jean Knight. This was Knight’s first national hit. She recorded it in May of 1970 at Malaco Studios in Jackson, Mississippi. Prior to going there, Knight worked as a baker at Loyola University in New Orleans.

Released on Knight’s 1971 debut album of the same title, it became a huge crossover hit. The song spent five weeks at number one on the Billboard Soul Singles chart and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 18 song for 1971. In total, the song spent sixteen weeks on the pop and R&B charts. The song went double platinum and was the No. 1 Soul Single of the year. It was nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 1972 Grammy Awards.

Knight performed the song on Soul Train on December 11, 1971, during its first season. “Mr. Big Stuff” would become one of Stax Records’ most popular and recognizable hits. It was also featured in the 1977 mini-series The Bronx Is Burning. In 2000, Everclear sampled this on “AM Radio,” a song about growing up in the ’70s. In early 2007, this song was used in a Papa John’s Pizza commercial that introduced the XL GrandPapa pizza.

Here’s Jean Knight on Soul Train:

 

My City Was Gone by the Pretenders – “My City Was Gone” is a song by the rock group The Pretenders. The song originally appeared in October 1982 as the B-side to the single release of “Back on the Chain Gang”; the two-sided single was the comeback release for the band following the death of founding bandmember James Honeyman-Scott. The song was included on the album Learning to Crawl released in early 1984, and it became a radio favorite in the United States. It is sometimes referred to as “The Ohio Song” for its constant reference to the state, though it is not part of the song’s title. The song’s final title was due to the fact that there had already been a song called “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

The song was written by Pretenders leader Chrissie Hynde and reflected her growing interest in environmental and social concerns; the lyrics take the form of an autobiographical lament, with the singer returning to her childhood home of Ohio and discovering that rampant development and pollution had destroyed the “pretty countryside” of her youth. The song makes a number of specific references to places in and around Akron, Ohio including South Howard Street (line 5), the historic center of Akron which was leveled to make way for an urban plaza with three skyscrapers and two parking decks (line 8).

USE BY RUSH LIMBAUGH: The opening bass riff from this song “was something that Tony Butler used to play just as a warm-up,” said Steve Churchyard, the engineer for the record. The opening of the song, before Hynde’s vocals appear at about 40 seconds, has been used as the opening theme ‘bumper’ for Rush Limbaugh’s popular American talk radio program since 1984, during his days at KFBK in Sacramento, California. He didn’t use the lyrics, but Limbaugh said in 2011 that he chose it because of the irony of a conservative using such an anti-conservative song, though he mainly liked its “unmistakable, totally recognizable bass line.”

In 1999, Rolling Stone magazine reported that, according to Hynde’s manager, Limbaugh had neither licensed the song nor asked permission to use it. According to Rolling Stone, EMI took action after Limbaugh told a pair of reporters in 1997 that “it was icing on the cake that it was [written by] an environmentalist, animal rights wacko and was an anti-conservative song. It is anti-development, anti-capitalist and here I am going to take a liberal song and make fun of [liberals] at the same time.” EMI issued a cease and desist request that Limbaugh stop using the song, which he did. When Hynde found out during a radio interview, she said that her parents loved and listened to Limbaugh and she did not mind its use. A usage payment was agreed upon which she donated to PETA. She later wrote to the organization saying, “In light of Rush Limbaugh’s vocal support of PETA’s campaign against the Environmental Protection Agency’s foolish plan to test some 3,000 chemicals on animals, I have decided to allow him to keep my song, ‘My City Was Gone’, as his signature tune…”

 

My Eyes Adored You by Franki Valli – “My Eyes Adored You” is a 1974 song written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan. It was originally recorded by The Four Seasons in early 1974. After the Motown label balked at the idea of releasing it, the recording was sold to lead singer Frankie Valli for $4000. After rejections by Capitol and Atlantic Records, Valli succeeded in getting the recording released on Private Stock Records, but the owner/founder of the label wanted only Valli’s name on the label. The single was released in the US in November 1974 and topped the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1975. “My Eyes Adored You” also went to number 2 on the Easy Listening chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 5 song for 1975.

The single was Valli’s second number 1 hit as a solo artist, and remained there for one week, being knocked out of the top spot by another Crewe/Nolan-penned song, “Lady Marmalade”. Although it was released as a Valli solo effort, the song is sometimes included on Four Seasons compilation albums. It is from the album Closeup.

 

My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) by Neil Young – “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” is a song written by Neil Young. Combined with its acoustic counterpart “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)”, it bookends Young’s successful 1979 album Rust Never Sleeps (The first half of the album, including this, is acoustic. The second half, which includes “Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black),” is electric and was recorded with Crazy Horse). Inspired by electropunk group Devo, the rise of punk and what Young viewed as his own growing irrelevance, the song significantly revitalized Young’s career at the time, and today crosses generations, inspiring admirers from punk to grunge. The song is about the alternatives of continuing to produce similar music (“to rust” or – in “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” – “to fade away”) or to burn out.

The song deals with the fleeting nature of fame and how hard it is to stay relevant as an artist. “Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay” is a ’50s song by Danny and the Juniors. Young alludes to or mentions artists from the ’50s (Danny and the Juniors), ’60s (Elvis), and ’70s (The Sex Pistols, specifically lead singer Johnny Rotten) to show that “rock and roll will never die.”

The song explicitly deals with the struggles of being a rock musician. As quoted on the site Hyper Rust, Neil Young said, “the essence of the rock’n’roll spirit to me, is that it’s better to burn out really bright than to sort of decay off into infinity. Even though if you look at it in a mature way, you’ll think, “well, yes … you should decay off into infinity, and keep going along.” Rock’n’roll doesn’t look that far ahead. Rock’n’roll is right now. What’s happening right this second”

A line from the acoustic version of the song, “it’s better to burn out than to fade away,” became infamous after being quoted in Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s suicide note. Young later said that he was so shaken that he dedicated his 1994 album Sleeps with Angels to Cobain.

Kurt Cobain’s suicide note contained a line from this song: “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” That line has become one of the most famous song lyrics of all time. When Young was asked by Time magazine in 2005 about the line and Cobain’s death, he said: “The fact that he left the lyrics to my song right there with him when he killed himself left a profound feeling on me, but I don’t think he was saying I have to kill myself because I don’t want to fade away. I don’t think he was interpreting the song in a negative way. It’s a song about artistic survival, and I think he had a problem with the fact that he thought he was selling out, and he didn’t know how to stop it. He was forced to do tours when he didn’t want to, forced into all kinds of stuff. I was trying to get a hold of him – because I had heard some of the things he was doing to himself – just to tell him it’s OK not to tour, it’s OK not to do these things, just take control of your life and make your music. Or, hey, don’t make music. But as soon as you feel like you’re out there pretending, you’re fucked. I think he knew that instinctively, but he was young and he didn’t have a lot of self-control. And who knows what other personal things in his life were having a negative impression on him at the time?”

The video is the Unplugged version: Neil Young performs “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” live at the Farm Aid concert in Champaign, Illinois on September 22, 1985. Farm Aid was started by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp in 1985 to keep family farmers on the land and has worked since then to make sure everyone has access to good food from family farmers. Dave Matthews joined Farm Aid’s board of directors in 2001. For more information about Farm Aid, visit: http://farmaid.org/youtube

I like the acoustic version but I also like the sound of Neil’s plugged-in version:

 

My Old School by Steely Dan – Steely Dan is an American jazz rock band whose music also blends elements of crossover jazz, latin music, blue-eyed soul, R&B, boogie, and pop. Founded by core members Walter Becker (guitars, backing vocals) and Donald Fagen (keyboards, lead vocals) in 1972, the band enjoyed critical and commercial success starting from the early 1970s until breaking up in 1981. Rolling Stone has called them “the perfect musical antiheroes for the Seventies.” Steely Dan was listed as one of the 100 greatest musical artists of all time according to VH1.

Steely Dan reunited in 1993 and has toured steadily ever since.

“My Old School” is a single drawn from Steely Dan’s 1973 album Countdown to Ecstasy. It reached number 63 in the Billboard charts.

The “Old School” referred to in this song is Bard College in Annendale, New York, where Donald Fagen and Walter Becker met. The song is at least partially inspired by an event that occurred at Bard, where both Becker and Fagen, along with their girlfriends, were arrested in a pot raid on a party that was orchestrated by an ambitious young District Attorney named G. Gordon Liddy (hence the line “Tried to warn ya about Geno and Daddy G”). Despite the fact that California has not (yet) tumbled into the sea, both Fagen and Becker have returned to Bard.

The “Wolverine” is the train that went to Annendale.

Here is the full performance of the American Bandstand appearance in 1973 featured in the above video. The sound quality isn’t high grade but the video is good and it’s neat to see the younger version of the group:

 

My Sweet Lord by George Harrison – “My Sweet Lord” is a song by English musician and former Beatle, George Harrison. It was released in November 1970 on his triple album All Things Must Pass. Also issued as a single, Harrison’s first as a solo artist, “My Sweet Lord” topped charts worldwide and was the biggest-selling single of 1971 in the UK. In America and Britain, the song was the first number one single by an ex-Beatle. The song was his biggest hit. Harrison originally gave the song to his fellow Apple Records artist Billy Preston to record; this version, which Harrison co-produced, appeared on Preston’s Encouraging Words album in September 1970.

The song is about the Eastern religions that Harrison was studying. He wrote “My Sweet Lord” in praise of the Hindu god Krishna, while at the same time intending the lyrics to serve as a call to abandon religious sectarianism through his deliberate blending of the Hebrew word hallelujah with chants of “Hare Krishna” and Vedic prayer.

Highly unusual for a hit song, Harrison repeats part of a Hindu mantra in the lyric when he sings, “Hare Krishna… Krishna, Krishna.” When set to music, this mantra is typically part of a chant that acts as a call to the Lord. Harrison interposes it with a Christian call to faith: “Hallelujah” – he was pointing out that “Hallelujah and Hare Krishna are quite the same thing.”

In the documentary The Material World, Harrison explains: “First, it’s simple. The thing about a mantra, you see… mantras are, well, they call it a mystical sound vibration encased in a syllable. It has this power within it. It’s just hypnotic.”

Some Christian fundamentalist anti-rock activists objected that chanting “Hare Krishna” in “My Sweet Lord” was anti-Christian or satanic, while some born-again Christians adopted the song as an anthem. Several commentators cite the mantra and the simplicity of Harrison’s lyrics as central to the song’s universality. The “lyrics are not directed at a specific manifestation of a single faith’s deity,” Inglis writes, “but rather to the concept of one god whose essential nature is unaffected by particular interpretations and who pervades everything, is present everywhere, is all-knowing and all-powerful, and transcends time and space … All of us – Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist – can address our gods in the same way, using the same phrase [‘my sweet Lord’].”

The recording features producer Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound treatment and heralded the arrival of Harrison’s much-admired slide guitar technique, which one biographer described as being “musically as distinctive a signature as the mark of Zorro.” Preston, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, and the group Badfinger are among the other musicians appearing on the recording.

This is my favorite George Harrison song. Here’s a video montage of George Harrison through the years:

 

Mystified by Fleetwood Mac – “Mystified” is from Tango in the Night, the 14th studio album by British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac. Released in April 1987, it is the fifth and to date last studio album from the band’s most successful line-up of Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood.

Produced by Buckingham with Richard Dashut, Tango in the Night began as one of Buckingham’s solo projects, but by 1985 the production had morphed into Fleetwood Mac’s next album. It contains several hit singles, including “Big Love”, “Seven Wonders”, “Everywhere”, and “Little Lies”.

Tango in the Night is notable for the tight songwriting bond between keyboardist Christine McVie, and guitarist Lindsey Buckingham. They co-wrote a trio of songs, including “Mystified,” this soft and lush tune. For this number, Buckingham created a sonic palette, which was as mystical as McPhee’s entranced lyrics.

“I can’t remember how that happened,” McVie admitted to Uncut in 2017. “It morphed somehow between us. We just happened to be doing stuff in the studio at the same time, so the co-write was fair dues.”

The song was released as the B-side on the 1988 single release of “Isn’t It Midnight.”

 

That’s it for my spotlighted songs. Here is my entire M Song Playlist, for your enjoyment. It contains 50 of my favorite songs that start with the letter M.

 

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


 

 

 

Monday’s Music Moves Me: Artist Spotlight on Gordon Lightfoot

This is a freebie week in the Monday’s Music Moves Me blog hop which means we are free to do anything we want with the music post. I decided to shine a spotlight on Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. 

Following is a bit of background on the man and his music, along with a few of my favorite Gordon Lightfoot songs. They may be your favorites too as they were his biggest hits in the 1970s.

Gordon Meredith Lightfoot Jr. CC OOnt (born November 17, 1938) is a Canadian singer-songwriter who achieved international success in folk, folk-rock, and country music and has been credited for helping define the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s. He has been referred to as Canada’s greatest songwriter and internationally as a folk-rock legend.

He experienced chart success in Canada with his own recordings, beginning in 1962 with the No. 3 hit “(Remember Me) I’m the One.” Lightfoot’s recordings then made an impact on the international music charts as well in the 1970s, with songs such as “If You Could Read My Mind” (1970) — his first U.S. top 10 hit reaching #5. “Sundown” (1974) a #1 hit, “Carefree Highway” (1974) which followed reaching #10, “Rainy Day People (1975) at #25, and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” (1976) (No. 2, Hot 100).

The 1970s is the decade that I’m most familiar with in terms of Gordon Lightfoot music. His music career has spanned more than five decades, producing more than 200 recordings. Lightfoot band members have displayed loyalty to him, as both musicians and friends, recording and performing with him for as many as 45 years. That speaks volumes about his character as a person, in my opinion. That’s a lot of loyalty in what is often a very fickle industry.

He helped define the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s, with his songs recorded by artists such as Bob Dylan, Gene Clark, Dan Fogelberg, Jimmy Buffett, and Jim Croce. Robbie Robertson of The Band described Lightfoot as “a national treasure.” Bob Dylan, also a Lightfoot fan, called him one of his favorite songwriters. Lightfoot has acknowledged Bob Dylan as being one of his primary influences and Dylan, besides being a friend of Lightfoot’s, is also a true admirer. In 1985 Dylan wrote in the liner notes to his Biograph box set, ‘Gordon Lightfoot, every time I hear a song of his, it’s like I wish it would last forever.’

Gordon Lightfoot has had an incredible and prolific career, winning an impressive amount of awards and honors, including sixteen Juno Awards (nine for Top Songwriter, five for Top Male Vocalist and two for Composer of the Year), four ASCAP awards for songwriting and he was also nominated for five Grammy Awards, plus so many more awards. You can read about his extensive and illustrious career at his Wikipedia page and at Lightfoot!, the most complete source of Gordon Lightfoot information online and the most up to date new concert listings.

Fun Fact: In February 2010, Gordon Lightfoot was the victim of a death hoax originating from Twitter, when then-CTV journalist David Akin posted on Twitter and Facebook that Lightfoot had died. Lightfoot was at a dental appointment at the time the rumors spread and found out when listening to the radio on his drive home. Lightfoot dispelled those rumors by phoning Charles Adler of CJOB, the DJ and radio station he heard reporting his demise, and did an interview expressing that he was alive and well. That has to be freaky, driving along and hearing a news report stating that you’re dead! Do you remember that happening a few years ago?

The following are my favorite Gordon Lightfoot songs:

If You Could Read My Mind – This song reached number one on Canadian music charts and was Lightfoot’s first recording to appear on the American music charts, reaching number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in February 1971. Later in the year it reached number 30 in the UK. The song also reached number one for one week on the Billboard Easy Listening chart.

Lightfoot has cited his divorce for inspiring the lyrics, saying they came to him as he was sitting in a vacant Toronto house one summer. At the request of his daughter, Ingrid, he performs the lyrics with a slight change now: the line “I’m just trying to understand the feelings that you lack” is altered to “I’m just trying to understand the feelings that we lack.” He has said in an interview that the difficulty with writing songs inspired by personal stories is that there is not always the emotional distance and clarity to make lyrical improvements such as the one his daughter suggested.

In 1987 Lightfoot took a lawsuit out against the writer of “The Greatest Love of All”, alleging plagiarism of 24 bars of “If You Could Read My Mind”. Lightfoot has stated that he dropped the lawsuit when he felt it was having a negative effect on the singer Whitney Houston, as the lawsuit was about the writer and not her.

 

Sundown – “Sundown” is Lightfoot’s one and only #1 hit in the U.S. It was released as a single in March 1974 and reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts and No. 13 on the Hot Country Singles chart. As well it was No. 1 in Canada on RPM’s national singles chart.

The song’s lyrics describe a troubled romantic relationship, with the narrator recounting an affair with a “hard-loving woman [who’s] got me feeling mean.” There are rumors that “Sundown” was inspired by Lightfoot’s then girlfriend, Cathy Smith, later more infamously known for her involvement in the 1982 drug-related death of actor John Belushi. Lightfoot has commented in interviews that Smith was “the one woman in my life who most hurt me”.

Here’s Gordon on The Midnight Special (probably in the year 1974):

 

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald – a song written, composed, and performed by Gordon Lightfoot to commemorate the sinking of the bulk carrier SS Edmund Fitzgerald during a severe storm on Lake Superior on November 10, 1975, resulting in the loss of all 29 crew members.

Lightfoot stated that in the original newspaper article he saw after the Edmund Fitzgerald sank, the name ‘Edmund’ was spelled incorrectly as ‘Edmond’. He thought at the time that those men deserved a fitting and accurate tribute and if not for that misspelling he may not have felt compelled to write the song.

In late November 1975 Lightfoot read a Newsweek magazine article about the loss of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. He drew his inspiration from this article, entitled “The Cruelest Month” which was published in Newsweek’s November 24, 1975 issue. Most of the lyrics in his song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” released the following year, were based on facts in the article.

He wrote the song over three days in November 1975, finishing it around noon of the third day. He went straight to the studio that afternoon and recorded it on the first take. Lightfoot considers this song to be his finest work. He continues his practice of meeting privately with the family members of the men who perished in the Edmund Fitzgerald sinking when his touring schedule allows.

Appearing originally on Lightfoot’s 1976 album Summertime Dream, the single version hit number 1 in his native Canada (in the RPM national singles survey) on November 20, 1976, barely a year after the disaster. In the United States, it reached number 1 in Cashbox and number 2 for two weeks in the Billboard Hot 100 (behind Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s The Night”), making it Lightfoot’s second-most-successful single behind “Sundown”. Overseas it was at best a minor hit, peaking at number 40 in the UK Singles Chart.

 

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

It’s a song about the freedom of the open road. The song’s name comes from a section of Arizona State Route 74 in north Phoenix. Said Lightfoot, “I thought it would make a good title for a song. I wrote it down, put it in my suitcase and it stayed there for eight months.” The song employs “Carefree Highway” as a metaphor for the state of mind where the singer seeks escape from his ruminations over a long ago failed affair with a woman named Ann. Lightfoot has stated that Ann actually was the name of a woman Lightfoot romanced when he was age 22: “It [was] one of those situations where you meet that one woman who knocks you out and then leaves you standing there and says she’s on her way.”

 

Those are my favorite Gordon Lightfoot songs and are part of the soundtrack of my life. The following two songs I just came across while putting together this artist spotlight. Both are powerful in their message.

Black Day in July – This song is about the 1967 Detroit riot, also known as the Detroit Race Riots (or the 12th Street Rioting) that erupted in July 1967. Forty-three people died in the riots.

The 1967 Detroit riot was a violent public disorder that turned into a civil disturbance in Detroit, Michigan. It began in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 23, 1967. The precipitating event was a police raid of an unlicensed, after-hours bar then known as a blind pig (this is a new term to me; I’ve never heard a speakeasy referred to as a ‘blind pig.’ Have you?), just north of the corner of 12th Street (today Rosa Parks Boulevard) and Clairmount Avenue on the city’s Near West Side. Police confrontations with patrons and observers on the street evolved into one of the deadliest and most destructive riots in the history of the United States, lasting five days and surpassing the violence and property destruction of Detroit’s 1943 race riot.

To help end the disturbance, Governor George W. Romney ordered the Michigan Army National Guard into Detroit, and President Lyndon B. Johnson sent in both the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. The result was 43 dead, 1,189 injured, over 7,200 arrests, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed. The scale of the riot was surpassed in the United States only by the 1863 New York City draft riots during the American Civil War and the 1992 Los Angeles riots. The riot was prominently featured in the news media, with live television coverage, extensive newspaper reporting, and extensive stories in Time and Life magazines. The staff of the Detroit Free Press won the 1968 Pulitzer Prize for general local reporting for its coverage.

Several songs directly refer to the riot. The most prominent was “Black Day in July”, written and sung by Gordon Lightfoot for his 1968 album Did She Mention My Name? Others include “Motor City Is Burning”, from the MC5’s 1969 album Kick Out the Jams; “Panic in Detroit”, from David Bowie’s 1973 album Aladdin Sane; and the title track from Detroit producer and DJ Moodymann’s 2008 EP Det.riot ’67, which sampled audio recordings from news reels talking about the riot.

Here’s a sobering video with historical footage of that event and its aftermath as a backdrop to Gordon Lightfoot’s “Black Day in July”:

 

Ode to Big Blue – a song about the plight and widespread killing of blue whales. “Ode to Big Blue” tells the legend of a great whale who lost his whole family to hunters, but died a natural death. It also makes a statement about whaling: “They’ve been taken by the men for the money they can spend; and the killing never ends, it just goes on.”

Many whales are near the point of extinction yet many countries still continue to hunt them. Some of the history of the whaling industry is depicted in this video. It’s a haunting song for sure.

 

That’s it for my Artist Spotlight. For a continuous block of Gordon Lightfoot, I’ve put together a 10-song playlist, including the ones presented above plus the following: Beautiful, Early Morning Rain, Rainy Day People and The Pony Man. Enjoy!

 

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

 

Battle of the Bands RESULTS: A 4-way Battle for Stuck in the Middle with You

It’s RESULTS time for my July battle: This was definitely a fun battle! It was my first 4-way 2-genre battle: The song was Stealers Wheel‘s “Stuck in the Middle with You“. The first round in this 4-way is two artists battling it out for the Jazz title and two artists battling for the Country title.

Going for the Jazz title were multi-award-winning Canadian singer Michael Bublé vs. American jazz singer Nicole Henry.

Battling it out for the Country title were the ever-popular Keith Urban (with twenty-one #1 hits!) and award-winning country and pop singer Juice Newton.

The genre winners were decided early on in this Battle Playoff. Without a doubt the men racked up the votes in both genres. Before I reveal the tally breakdown, I’ll tell you who I voted for in this battle:

In the Jazz category I went with the majority and voted for Michael Bublé. His cover version was so rich and robust. I enjoyed Nicole Henry’s smokey vocals but her version just didn’t hold up against Bublé’s, in my opinion.

As for the Country category, I went against the majority and voted for Juice Newton. I listened to each country cover three times before deciding and I must say, it was a tough call. Keith Urban is, well, Keith Urban after all. His version was absolutely fantastic. But Juice Newton’s version captivated my attention more. With Keith Urban’s, his version kinda ended up in the background as I was working away on the computer. Juice Newton’s version, on the other hand, snapped me out of my mindless typing and made me pay attention. The music grabbed me right from the tickling piano at the onset and took on me on a joyful musical ride, accompanied by Newton’s powerful vocals. Comparatively, I just liked Juice Newton more and so she earned my vote.

Now, for the Results Tally:

JAZZ PLAYOFF

Michael Bublé  – 10 votes

Nicole Henry – 3 votes

COUNTRY PLAYOFF

Keith Urban – 9 votes

Juice Newton – 4 votes

The “Stuck in the Middle with You Playoffs” have concluded and the winners from each genre category will now advance to duke it out for the title win.  Come back next month on August 15th and vote for your favorite cover version of the Stealers Wheel hit and see who will win the ultimate “Stuck in the Middle with You Championship”:

Michael Bublé vs Keith Urban