I’m currently listening to All My Friends, an amazing four hour celebration of the music of Gregg Allman. The album includes performance by an incredible selection of rock/country performers and the man himself. Today’s Special Performance post features one of those performances with Gregg and Jackson Browne joining forces on Gregg’s Melissa. For those of you that don’t know, Gregg and Jackson have been friends since the 60s, having once shared an apartment in LA before either of them were successful. This is a really great performance that you don’t want to miss! Enjoy……
Fifty years ago in 1964 Joan Baez and Bob Dylan were quite an item. Joan, who had been a success since the early 60s, nurtured the young singer/songwriter starting in 1963 by bringing him on stage to perform during her tours and by singing his songs. An intense romantic relationship resulted but was over by 1965. Ten years later Joan wrote one of the best songs of all time about that relationship, Diamonds and Rust. Here is a great 1975 live performance of that song………
I absolutely adore this song. I think the following lines are the most romantic lyrics I have ever heard….
Now I see you standing
With brown leaves falling around
And snow in your hair
Now you’re smiling out the window
Of that crummy hotel
Over Washington Square
Our breath comes out white clouds
Mingles and hangs in the air
Speaking strictly for me
We both could have died then and there
Fortunately for all of us, Joan continues to tour today….forty years after the performance presented above and fifty years after her 1964 romance with Bob Dylan. Here’s a great Buenos Aires performance of Diamonds and Rust from March of this year……
Did you pickup on the lyric change?
This is the fourth in my series of posts about Tribute Songs. Today’s song, JM, by Strand Of Oaks (Timothy Showalter) hit me like a punch in the gut when I first heard it last week. Let’s listen and then I will provide you with more details about the song and who it’s a tribute for…..
JM will be featured on the Strand of Oaks album Heal that is scheduled to be released on June 24. The JM in the song is Jason Molina and I have to confess that he was not on music radar when he died last year. When I heard Timothy Showalter’s awesome tribute to his hero I knew that I had to learn more about Jason and his music.
I’ve spent the last week or so listening to the the catalog of music that Jason left behind when he died and I’m blown away. Be looking for a post about Jason in the near future. In the meantime, you won’t go wrong checking out Jason’s music for yourself. FYI – Jason recorded under his own name, under Magnolia Electric Company, and under Songs: Ohia.
Did anyone else notice the similarity of JM to Cortez the Killer by Neil Young? Here’s a great live performance of Cortez so you can see what I mean.
Twenty five years ago, Chinese authorities brutally suppressed the student-led Democracy Movement in Tiananmen Square. Troops backed by tanks massacred an unknown number of unarmed Chinese citizens that were attempting to block the advance of the military to Tiananmen Square. The photo above is a zoomed out view of a student blocking a column of advancing tanks armed with nothing but a briefcase. If you ever doubt that you can make a difference in the world pull this picture out to remind yourself just how much one person can accomplish.
Mary Chapin Carpenter wrote a great song about the Massacre, 4 June 1989. The story behind the song is summarized in the following extract from an August 26, 2010 article posted on the Washington Post website. Read the article and then listen to the song below.
It was [inspired by] an article in the New York Times during the 20th anniversary week of the Tiananmen Square massacre. It was a profile of an artist in China who was 17 at the time, and he was a soldier in the army. The first verse is his recollections of what it was like to be there — and to be sent in “imposter’s clothes,” when the authorities were trying to infiltrate the protesters. He was haunted by his part in it. He’s an artist now in China and he works all the time trying in a way to almost provoke the authorities. They have this game that they play where they allow him to put his work on the Internet for example, and it’ll stay up for a day or two, and then all of a sudden it’s taken down. The lyric about “vanishing into the ether” is my sense of it. His story was exceedingly moving to me and I just tried to write about it.
NEVER FORGET WHAT ONE PERSON CAN ACCOMPLISH
When I started this blog two and a half years ago I envisioned that it would be a journey where I mostly walked alone. I’m happy to say that this was not the case! I’ve had visitors from over 148 countries around the world as part of over 50,000 views of the 700 posts that I have made so far. I’ve met, and become friends with, people around the world! I would like to single out Gerard from the Netherlands who has been a supporter of this blog almost from day one and who has encouraged me to continue to post via his frequent comments. Unbelievable!
The map shown above shows the countries that the blog has been visited from….the darker the color for a country the more visits I’ve had from it. In case you are interested, the countries that HAVE NOT visited this blog include:
- French Guiana
- Western Sahara
- Sierra Leone
- Burkina Faso
- Cote D’Ivore
- South Sudan
- Central African Republic
- North Korea
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate everyone around the world that has visited this blog. Thanks to each of you for walking with me on a least a portion of this musical journey through time. Please listen to “Walk With Me” by Neil Young as an expression of my thanks to you!
I feel your love
I feel your strong love
I feel the patience
Of unconditional love
I feel the strength
I feel your faith in me
I’ll never let you down
No matter what you do
If you just walk with me
And let me walk with you
I’m on this journey
I don’t wanna walk alone
Walk with me
Walk with me
Walk with me
Walk with me
Walk with me
Shine me a light
Walk with me
Walk with me
I lost some people
I was traveling with
I missed a soul
And the old friendship
In 1970 James Taylor was just starting his solo career. He recorded a live BBC special acoustic performance that’s one of my favorite James Taylor performances. During that performance he played a great version of my favorite James Taylor song, Riding On A Railroad. Let’s listen to that performance……..
Over forty years later, James is still one of our best singer/songwriters and still regularly tours. In forty years he hasn’t lost a thing….except for most of his hair 🙂 To prove it, here’s a great performance of Riding On A Railroad from a 2012 show at the White House.
There was an interesting article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, The Guitar Riff That Changed Rock ‘n’ Roll, that transported me back in time to the day I first heard Whole Lotta Love, a song that absolutely blew my mind. The article, written by Marc Meyers, is great but it’s also mis-titled. The focus of the article is more on the recording of the song than on the amazing opening riff which is fine with me because it was the way the song was recorded that blew my mind! Before I tell you about the article let me tell you about the first time I heard Whole Lotta Love.
In 1970, the only stereo record player that my family had was an old console model. Most people that read this probably don’t know what that is so I’ve included a picture below to show what one looked like.
It was basically a piece piece of furniture that contained a turntable for records and two speakers. My family’s stereo sat in the family living room so I had a narrow window of opportunity to play my music each day. I could listen when I got home from school at 3:30 while my mom was busy making dinner. I had to stop listening around 5:00 before my dad got home from work. My parents were very conservative so even when I could use the stereo to listen to my records I had to keep the volume level very low (our stereo didn’t have a head phone jack and it didn’t really matter because I didn’t have headphones!)
So picture this….I’ve just managed to get my hands on a copy of Led Zeppelin II and I’m getting ready to listen to it in my living room. I’m sitting right in front of the stereo so I can hear it without having the volume cranked up, the album drops onto the turntable, I hear the turntable arm start moving, and then it’s on the album.
There’s the hint of weird little chuckle, Jimmy rips into the most amazing riff I’ve ever heard, and there’s an amazing bass line. As Robert Plant starts to sing it’s like he has positioned himself squarely in front of me singing the hell out of the song. But there’s something else going on here ….Jimmy’s guitar licks seem to start in one speaker and end in the other one. Very cool but that was just the start of the coolness! About a minute and a half into the song…….there’s a breakdown and all hell breaks loose as the song degenerates into a very strange cacophony of sounds (drums, cymbals, vocals snippets, and others that I couldn’t place) that seemingly bouncing from side to side. By this time I was freaking out yet somehow I knew that I was missing the full affect without headphones. The rest of the song was just as amazing but I knew I absolutely had to hear it again with headphones.
I had a friend with headphones and I immediately headed to his house (two streets over from where I lived). Soon I was sitting in front of his family’s stereo system, headphone on, with Whole Lotta Love blasting away, and my mind was immediately blown!. Jimmy’s guitar, and the other strange sounds on the record, were shooting right through my head and at times bouncing around in there. It was amazing and changed my whole perception about what music could be. My friend wasn’t a rock fan but even he had to admit that the the song was pretty cool when listened to with headphones.
The article in The Wall Street Journal last Friday that brought back all of these memories helped me finally understand how/why the sounds in in Whole Lotta Love were created. Here’s an excerpt from the article that focuses on that part of the story…..
Eddie Kramer: The first time I heard “Whole Lotta Love” was in August ’69, when Jimmy and I started working on the album’s final mix at New York’s A&R Sound.
Jimmy and I had first met in 1964, when he was playing on the Kinks’ first album [“Kinks”] at Pye Studios and I was the assistant engineer. I also had heard Led Zeppelin early on in ’68, when John Paul Jones had played me an acetate of Led Zeppelin’s first album, before it was released. I was blown away—it sounded so hard and heavy.
In New York, the recording console at A&R was fairly primitive. It had only 12 channels with old-fashioned rotary dials to control track levels instead of sliding faders and there were just two pan pots [control knobs] to send the sound from left to right channels. But as Jimmy and I listened to the mix, something unexpected came up.
At the point where the song breaks and Robert slowly wails, “Way down inside…wo-man…you need…love,” Jimmy and I heard this faint voice singing the lyric before Robert did on the master vocal track. Apparently Robert had done two different vocals, recording them on two different tracks. Even when I turned the volume down all the way on the track we didn’t want, his powerful voice was bleeding through the console and onto the master.
Some people today still think the faint voice was a pre-echo that we added on purpose for effect. It wasn’t—it was an accident. Once Jimmy and I realized we had to live with it on the master, I looked at Jimmy, he looked at me and we both reached for the reverb knob at the same time and cracked up laughing. Our instincts were the same—to douse the faint, intruding voice in reverb so it sounded part of the master plan.
Mr. Page: I hadn’t heard anything like that before and loved it. I was always looking for things like that when I recorded. That’s the beauty of old recording equipment. Robert’s faraway voice sounded otherworldly, like a spirit anticipating the vocal he was about to deliver.
Mr. Kramer: By adding reverb, we made his faint voice more dynamic, and it became part of rock history. I also used the pan pots on Jimmy’s guitar solo to fling it from side to side, so it would move from one speaker to another. I loved the sonic imagery and I like to think of my mixes as stereophonic paintings.
On the break after the first chorus, where the song gets quiet and we hear Bonzo’s cymbals and percussion and Jimmy’s distortion, Jimmy and I went nuts on the knobs. We had eight dials controlling the levels on eight individual tracks, so we rehearsed the choreography of what we were going to do to create the far-out sounds. Then we did it and printed the result onto the master stereo reel. Because Jimmy was a studio brat, he really understood how we could push the limits. When you have limitations in the studio, you go for it and stretch your imagination.
The remainder of the article is just as interesting and you can read the whole thing at the following link:
If this brings back any memories for you, why not take a minute and re-expreience the song for your self…..
If you read any of my three Memorial Day posts you will recall that, while I honored our veterans that died serving our country, I also called for greater restraint in the use of our military forces in the future. Today, two days after my posts, President Obama gave a major foreign policy speech at West Point Military Academy that argues for exactly the same policy that I called for. I don’t believe in coincidence so maybe President Obama reads this blog (I know for a fact that he is a big music fan)……or maybe it’s just that great minds think alike 🙂 Either way, I proud to have him as our President.
Here’s a great article from the Huffington Post about his speech if you are interested in the details.
WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — In a broad defense of his foreign policy, President Barack Obama declared Wednesday that the U.S. remains the world’s most indispensable nation, even after a “long season of war,” but argued for restraint before embarking on more military adventures.
Standing before the newest class of officers graduating from the U.S. Military Academy, Obama said, “I would betray my duty to you, and to the country we love, if I sent you into harm’s way simply because I saw a problem somewhere in the world that needed fixing, or because I was worried about critics who think military intervention is the only way for America to avoid looking weak.”
Obama’s speech signaled a concerted effort by the White House to push back against those critics, who contend that the president’s approach to global problems has been too cautious and has emboldened adversaries in Syria, Russia and China. It’s a criticism that deeply frustrates the president and his advisers, who say Obama’s efforts to keep the U.S. out of more military conflicts are in line with the views of the American public.
Even as the U.S. emerges from the two wars that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Obama said terrorism remains the most direct threat to American security. But he argued that as the threat has shifted from a centralized al-Qaida to an array of affiliates, the American response must change too.
Rather than launching large-scale military efforts, Obama called for partnering with countries where terrorist networks seek a foothold. That effort includes a new $5 billion fund to help countries fight terrorism and to expand funding for Defense Department intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, special operations and other activities.
Obama cast the bloody civil war in Syria as more of counterterrorism challenge than a humanitarian crisis. He defended his decision to keep the U.S. military out of the conflict but said he would seek to increase support for the Syrian opposition, as well as neighboring countries including Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq that have faced an influx of refugees and fear the spread of terrorism.
“In helping those who fight for the right of all Syrians to choose their own future, we also push back against the growing number of extremists who find safe haven in the chaos,” Obama said.One plan being considered by the White House is a project to train and equip members of the Free Syrian Army on tactics, including counterterrorism.
The president’s speech came one day after he outlined plans to wind down America’s lengthy war in Afghanistan by the end of 2016. The blueprint calls for keeping 9,800 troops in Afghanistan for training and counterterrorism even after combat missions end later this year, but then withdraw them within two years.
The drawdown plan is central to Obama’s long-standing pledge to bring to a close both the Afghan conflict and the Iraq war, which ended in late 2011. He was greeted by cheers from the graduating cadets when he noted that they had the distinction of being “the first class to graduate since 9/11 who may not be sent into combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.”
Even as he heralded the end of those two wars, Obama said the U.S. would continue to use military force on its own “when our core interests demand it — when our people are threatened, when our livelihood is at stake, or when the security of our allies is in danger.” He also continued to defend his use of drone strikes in places like Yemen and Somalia but called for increased transparency about the program that has long been shrouded in secrecy.
But a centerpiece of Obama’s address was a defense of his preference for acting as part of an international coalition instead of pressing ahead alone. He challenged skeptics who see that approach as a sign of weakness and argued instead that it instead highlights America’s ability to lead on the world stage.
Obama cited recent efforts to rally European support for sanctions against Russia after the Kremlin annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. While the president insisted that Russia is now isolated, Obama’s critics contend that his inability to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin from taking Crimea in the first place was a sign of weakness.
Obama also praised ongoing diplomatic efforts between Iran, the U.S. and its negotiating partners — Germany, Britain, France, China and Russia — that aim to strip the Islamic republic of its nuclear capabilities. While Obama said the odds of reaching an agreement are still long, he also said a diplomatic breakthrough would be “more effective and durable than what would be achieved through the use of force.”
“Throughout these negotiations, it has been our willingness to work through multilateral channels that kept the world on our side,” he said.
Days like today make me even more proud to be an American than normal. To celebrate let’s listen to a wonder rendition of My Country Tis Of Thee by David Crosby and Graham Nash…..
This week’s special performance is a great concert featuring James Taylor and the Dixie Chicks singing each others songs. This is a magical combination that makes for some beautiful, unexpected, musical performances and some interesting backstage discussions. I’m betting that you will enjoy this as much as I do…….
This performance is bittersweet having taken place before conservatives (think Rush Limbaugh and others of his ilk) destroyed the Dixie Chick’s career because they said: “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” during the run up to the Iraq war. Today, these very same conservatives daily say the most vile lies about, and use the ugliest slurs that you can imagine to describe, President Obama. Their level of hypocrisy is unmatched in US history.
I’ve been paying more time looking at analytics data for this blog (i.e. I’ve been paying attention to how many people have visited the blog and what country they are visiting from). I was shocked to note that no one from Greenland has ever visited the blog. I did a little research and discovered that Greenland has an active music scene so I decided to use this week’s Two’fer Tuesday post to highlight a couple of artists from Greenland. My hope is that the post might attract some visitors from that country (if you know anyone that lives in Greenland encourage them to come and visit.
Today’s post highlights a group named Malik and a second group, picture above, named Nanook. I enjoyed both of their songs and hope that you will as well (I don’t speak Greenlandic so I really don’t know what the songs are about). If someone from Greenland visits the blog maybe they will provide us with translations! Let me know what you think……..
Malik – ilumooruma soqutaanngilaq
Nanook – Kisimiinneq – Seqinitta qinngorpaatit
As a bonus here’s a video from Nanook’s 2012 summer tour of the Faroe Islands. It looks like the boys had some travel challenges getting to the Islands but, once there, everyone seemed to have a great time!
Nanook summer tour 2012, Faroe Islands
I did a little research on the Faroe Islands and have decided that I need to visit them myself. They are absolutely beautiful as you can tell from the picture below!