If you are a long time reader of this blog you know that I’m a huge fan of everything Canadian. I’ve spent a lot of time in Canada, I love the Canadian people, I love the natural beauty of the country, and most importantly….I love Canadian music. To celebrate that love I have a an amazing Special Performance for you today……Randy Bachman and Neil Young performing two different versions of Prairie Town, one electric and one acoustic and both absolutely great. As a bonus I’ve included a short video from 1987 of a celebration of the music of Winnipeg, Canada that features both Randy, Neil, and Burton Cummings. Enjoy……
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……
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.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2014 was an interesting mix of musical styles. Let’s take a quick look at the inductees and celebrate their accomplishments.
Peter, already inducted as a member of Genesis was an obvious choice. I’ve picked Here Comes The Flood from his first solo album, to celebrate his indiction.
Here Comes The Flood – Peter Gabriel
Kiss was my guilty pleasure during the 70s and I saw them live multiple times. To this day they were the most entertaining act I have ever seen. Today, I’m featuring Beth from, the Destroyer album, which was sung by drummer Peter Kriss and shows a softer side of the group.
Beth – Destroyer
I was impressed by the induction speech for the group by Tom Morello so I included it for your review.
Good evening, I’m Tom Morello.
They are four of the most recognizable faces on the planet, and one of the most iconic and badass bands of all time—tonight is the night that Kiss enters the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Growing up, Kiss was my favorite band—and it was not easy being a Kiss fan. Just as Kiss were relentlessly persecuted by critics, their fans were relentlessly persecuted by the self appointed arbiters of taste in middle schools and high schools across America. Arguments and even fistfights were not uncommon. I recall as a 15-year-old telling one bully, “You can kiss my Kiss-loving ass!” because Kiss was never a critics’ band, Kiss was a PEOPLE’s band. And so I waited in a long line on a bitter cold Chicago morning to buy a ticket for my first concert, a Kiss concert. I was especially thrilled because imprinted on the ticket were words that hinted that it was going to be a special event. The ticket said “A partial view of Kiss.” I was certain this meant the band were going to reveal some new secret corner of their artistic souls. In reality it meant that my seat was behind a pole. Still, that concert was the most exciting, cathartic, loudest and most thrilling two hours of live music I’ve seen to this day.
While there is a often debate about who should and shouldn’t be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I think the criteria are actually quite simple: IMPACT, INFLUENCE and AWESOMENESS. Kiss have all three in spades.
Impact? Kiss have sold over 100 million albums worldwide. They have 28 gold albums in the United States alone. That’s more than any other American rock band in history. Their theatrics were indisputably groundbreaking, but it was Kiss’ MUSIC that had an impact on ME. All four guys wrote great songs. All four guys were great LEAD singers. They practically invented the live album with Kiss Alive!. Then came Destroyer,Rock and Roll Over, Love Gun, Alive II, Dynasty, all exploding with killer riffs, anthemic choruses and screaming solos that for 40 years have been filling arenas and stadiums around the world.
Influence? Simply put, Kiss is the band that made me and millions of others love rock and roll. What Elvis and the Beatles were to previous generations, Kiss were to us. They propelled millions of young people to pick up instruments. Their influence is everywhere. From Metallica to Lady Gaga, Kiss have inspired thousands of artists of diverse genres, some of whom may be on a Hall of Fame trajectory themselves. They’ve been a formative influence on members of Tool, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Slipknot, Garth Brooks, Pantera, Foo Fighters, Motley Crue, Lenny Kravitz, White Zombie, Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails…and Rage Against The Machine, to name just a few.
Ok. Impact? Check. Influence? Check. And the final criteria? Awesomeness. There’s a simple test for that. What if you had never seen or heard Kiss before? What if you had never heard a note of their music, never viewed a YouTube clip, never seen a reality show featuring any of the members? And what if you wandered into a divey club in your hometown and saw Kiss in all their glory thrashing the place to the ground? One guy belching fire and spraying blood past his gargantuan tongue. A drum riser bursting through the roof. A guitar player so incredible his axe billowed smoke and shot rockets. A frontman flying back and forth across the joint like a superhero Tarzan. All of them in frightening horror movie/comic book superstar, sexifying kabuki make up. All of them in black and silver warrior bondage gear and 7 inch platform heels. The place blowing up with explosions, screeching with sirens, raining confetti, all to the pounding soundtrack of bareknuckle badass heavy duty liberating rock and roll. What would you say if you saw THAT? You’d say, “That band’s fucking AWESOME and deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame!!” That’s what you’d say.
Eric Carr, Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer have all been important in extending and expanding Kiss’ impressive legacy and they deserve a round of applause. But tonight we honor the fearsome foursome; the four original, founding members of Kiss. The Demon, Gene Simmons—he’s the God of Thunder, he’s Dr. Love. He’s Beatles-like bass on the bottom, a bat lizard Bela Lugosi on the top. The Starchild, Paul Stanley—the heart throb ringmaster of Kiss’ Psycho Circus. His vision, talent and dedication over four decades have made Kiss the band it is today. The Space Man, Ace Frehley—my first guitar hero. He designed the band’s iconic logo and blazed unforgettable, timeless licks across their greatest records. And The Cat, Peter Criss—jungle rhythms, jazz fills, and the writer and singer of the band’s biggest hit, the world’s first power ballad, “Beth.” Tonight we also honor the fifth member of the band without whom this night could never have happened. Tonight we honor The Kiss Army, generations of fiercely loyal fans who are celebrating this long overdue induction all over the planet tonight.
Tonight proves, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the high school bullies and the critics were mistaken. We Kiss fans were right. So let’s celebrate.
I misspoke earlier when I said that tonight Kiss enters the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. That’s ALMOST right. Because tonight…it’s not the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tonight it’s the Rock and Roll All Night And Party Every Day Hall of Fame. And so without further ado…Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss.
You wanted the best and you got the best, the hottest band in the world…Kiss.
I was older by the time that Nirvana burst onto the scene in the 90’s so I was never a big fan; however, their talent and influence on music is undeniable. Let’s listen to a great unplugged performance Come as You are from 1993. While you are listening you can read Michael Stipe’s induction speech for the group
Come As You Are – Unplugged 1993
Good evening. I’m Michael Stipe and I’m here to induct Nirvana into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
When an artists offers an idea, a perspective, it helps us all to see who we are. And it wakes up, and it pushes us forward towards our collective and individual potential. It makes us — each of us — able to see who we are more clearly. It’s progression and progressive movement. It’s the future staring us down in the present and saying, “C’mon, let’s get on with it. Here we are. Now.”
I embrace the use of the word “artist” rather than “musician” because the band Nirvana were artists in every sense of the word. It is the highest calling for an artist, as well as the greatest possible privilege to capture a moment, to find the zeitgeist, to expose our struggles, our aspirations, our desires. To embrace and define a period of time. That is my definition of an artist.
Nirvana captured lightning in a bottle. And now, per the dictionary — off the Internet — in defining “lightning in a bottle” as, “Capturing something powerful and elusive, and then being able to hold it and show it to the world.”
Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl were Nirvana. The legacy and the power of their defining moment has become, for us, indelible. Like my band, R.E.M., Nirvana came from a most unlikely place. Not a cultural city-center like London, San Francisco, Los Angeles or even New York — or Brooklyn — but from Aberdeen, Washington in the Pacific Northwest, a largely blue-collar town just outside of Seattle.
Krist Novoselic said Nirvana came out of the American hardcore scene of the 1980s — this was a true underground. It was punk rock, where the many bands or musical styles were eclectic. We were a product of a community of youth looking for a connection away from the mainstream. The community built structures outside of the corporate, governmental sphere, independent and decentralized. Media connected through the copy machine, a decade before the Internet, as we know it, came to be. This was social networking in the face.
Dave Grohl said, “We were drop-outs, making minimum wage, listening to vinyl, emulating our heroes — Ian MacKaye, Little Richard — getting high, sleeping in vans, never expecting the world to notice.”
Solo artists almost have it easier than bands — bands are not easy. You find yourself in a group of people who rub each other the wrong way and exactly the right way. And you have chemistry, zeitgeist, lightning in a bottle and a collective voice to help pinpoint a moment, to help understand what it is that we’re going through. You see this is about community and pushing ourselves. Nirvana tapped into a voice that was yearning to be heard.
Keep in mind the times: This was the late Eighties, early Nineties. America, the idea of a hopeful, democratic country, had been practically dismantled by Iran-Contra, by AIDS, by the Reagan/Bush Sr. administrations.
But with their music, their attitude, their voice, by acknowledging the political machinations of petty but broad-reaching, political arguments, movements and positions that had held us culturally back, Nirvana blasted through all that with crystalline, nuclear rage and fury. Nirvana were kicking against the system, bringing complete disdain for the music industry and their definition of corporate, mainstream America, to show a sweet and beautiful — but fed-up — fury, coupled with howling vulnerability.
Lyrically exposing our frailty, our frustrations, our shortcomings. Singing of retreat and acceptance over triumphs of an outsider community with such immense possibility, stymied or ignored, but not held down or held back by the stupidity and political pettiness of the times. They spoke truth, and a lot of people listened.
They picked up the mantle in that particular battle, but they were singular, and loud, and melodic, and deeply original. And that voice. That voice. Kurt, we miss you. I miss you.
Nirvana defined a moment, a movement for outsiders: for the fags; for the fat girls; for the broken toys; the shy nerds; the Goth kids from Tennessee and Kentucky; for the rockers and the awkward; for the fed-up; the too-smart kids and the bullied. We were a community, a generation — in Nirvana’s case, several generations — in the echo chamber of that collective howl, and Allen Ginsberg would have been very proud, here.
That moment and that voice reverberated into music and film, politics, a worldview, poetry, fashion, art, spiritualism, the beginning of the Internet and so many fields in so many ways in our lives. This is not just pop music — this is something much greater than that.
These are a few artists who rub each other the wrong way, and exactly the right way, at the right time: Nirvana. It is my honor to call to the stage Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl.
Hall and Oates
I was a huge Hall and Oates fan early in their career (think Abandoned Luncheonette) but not so much after they moved into their more popular pop phase in the 80’s. If you weren’t paying close attention in the late 70’s you might have missed their underrated rock album called Beauty on the Backstreet. Let’s listen to Bad Habits and Infections from that album to celebrate their induction into the Hall.
Bad Habits and Infections – Beauty On The Backstreet
Linda, Linda, Linda……… It’s about damn time that she finally gets into the Hall of Fame. To celebrate here is Linda’s great performance of J. D Souther’s Prisoner In Disguise. By the way, that’s J.D. singing harmony. If you read Glenn Frey’s induction speech below you will discover that J.D. and Linda were a couple early in her career.
Prisoner In Disguise – Prisoner In Disguise
Hello, everybody. I’m Glenn Frey and it is my great pleasure tonight to induct Linda Ronstadt into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I’d like to start by saying it’s about time. It was my selfish wish that Linda would have been inducted in 1998 with the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, the Mamas and Papas and Santana. But that time has passed, the time is now, and Linda’s music and legacy give us so much to celebrate and contemplate.
In the late-1960s, after playing in various folk groups in her hometown of Tuscon, Arizona, Linda moved to Los Angeles and became a member of the Stone Poneys. They made three albums together and had one hit, ‘Different Drum.’ When the group broke up in 1968, ready or not, Linda became a solo artist. I first met Linda in 1970 at the Troubadour bar. For my part, it was love at first sight. There was just one problem: a guitar-slinging, love-rustler from Amarillo, Texas named John David Souther. He beat me to the punch, which would become a pattern throughout our careers — thank God he never met my wife.
So Linda and I, we became friends, and in the spring of 1971, she hired me and a singing drummer from Linden, Texas named Don Henley to play in her back-up band. From the first rehearsal, I felt we were working on a style of music none of us had ever heard before. Two years later, people called it “country-rock.” While touring with Linda that summer, Don and I told her that we wanted to start our own band, and she, more than anyone else, helped us put together the Eagles. That’s right. And later, she gave our careers a big shot in the arm by recording our song, ‘Desperado.’
Between 1969 and 1973, she made four solo albums. They were all really good, but they were laying the groundwork for what would be her breakthrough album, ‘Heart Like a Wheel,’ produced by Peter Asher. 1974 was the first of many magic years in Linda’s career. She found herself in a place that all artists dream of, when the producer and the material, the singer and the players all come together and something otherworldly happens in the recording studio, This was ‘Heart Like a Wheel,’ an album for all-time. The haunting title track, Linda’s deceptively simple arrangement of ‘Guess It Doesn’t Matter Anymore,’ the Hank Williams classic, ‘I Can’t Help It if I’m Still in Love With You’ and the smash ‘You’re No Good,’ kept this album in the charts for 51 weeks. And Linda became a star.
Peter and Linda went on to record five more albums, choosing material from songwriters she loved and admired. Songs like ‘Love Is a Rose,’ ‘Tracks of My Tears,’ ‘Heat Wave,’ ‘That’ll Be the Day,’ ‘It’s So Easy,’ ‘Blue Bayou,’ ‘Poor Poor Pitiful Me,’ ‘Tumblin’ Dice,’ ‘Back in the U.S.A.,’ ‘Ooh Baby Baby,’ ‘Blowin’ Away’ and ‘When Will I Be Loved.’
By the end of the 1970s, she was known as “The Queen of Country-Rock.” Uncomfortable with that label — or any other label, for that matter — she longed to break out and try things beyond rock and roll. She went to New York to sing the role of Mabel in Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘Pirates of Penzance.’ She knocked it out of Central Park, and was nominated for a Tony.
While living and working in New York, she decided to make a jazz album — a standards album, if you will. She teamed with legendary arranger Nelson Riddle and made not one, but three records, each one an impeccable work of musical art. When the first album, ‘What’s New,’ was released, it sold three million copies and spent 81 weeks on the Billboard album chart.
For the longest time, she wanted to sing and record with two dear friends, Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton. They called their partnership ‘Trio,’ and they made two gorgeous records together. When the first Trio album was released, it was certified platinum, it won a Grammy and a CMA.
Always reaching, always stretching, Linda had yet another dream. She wanted to record an album of Mexican songs, sung entirely in Spanish. Her record company freaked out. But she gathered the finest musicians in their field and recorded ‘Canciones de Mi Padre,’ the songs of my father. Upon release in 1987, it went double platinum…in a day. It sold millions of records worldwide and is the biggest-selling non-English language album in American recording history.
I wish I had the time to share with you the fascinating stories, you know, of all the talented people she’s worked with over the years. They’re all part of her music family — Linda’s always been about family.
Linda Ronstadt recorded 31 albums. She sold over 100 million records and had a career that spanned five decades. She has been a shining example and a true inspiration to every woman who ever stood in front of a microphone and sang her heart out. And through it all, she remains nothing but authentic. You see, Linda lives in a place where art trumps commerce, where self-exploration trumps self-exploitation, where hard work and integrity trump fame and failure. She never wanted to be a star, she just wanted to make good music.
Although Linda is now retired and does not travel anymore, she sends you all her very best wishes and a heartfelt “Thank you.” She is one of the greatest voices of all-time, and she shared her voice with beauty, grace and love. So on behalf of your family and your friends, your peers and music fans from all over the world, it’s my honor to say, “Welcome to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Linda Ronstadt!
Cat Stevens is an amazing talent and so deserves this honor. Father and Son, which I have featured below, meant a lot to me back in the 70’s when I was on the “Son” side of the song. Today it means a lot more to me looking at it from the perspective of the “Father”.
Father and Son – Tea For The Tillerman
The E Street Band
The E Street Band, Bruce’s trusty band of sidekicks finally got the recognition that they deserved this year. You can’t really appreciate the greatness of the band from a studio track so today I have featured a performance of Jungleland from 1975. Brilliant!
Jungleland – Live At Hammersmith 1975
Of course there was only one choice to induct the band…..here is what Bruce had to say in his speech……
Good evening. In the beginning, there was Mad Dog Vini Lopez, standing in front of me, fresh out of jail, his head shaved, in the Mermaid Room of the Upstage Club in Asbury Park. He told me he had a money-making outfit called Speed Limit 25, they were looking for a guitarist and was I interested? I was broke, so I was. So the genesis point of the E Street Band was actually a group that Vini Lopez asked me to join to make a few extra dollars on the weekend.
Shortly thereafter, I met Dan Federici. He was draped in three quarter-length leather, had his red hair slicked back with his wife Flo — she was decked out in the blonde, bouffant wig — and they were straight out of Flemington, NJ.
So Vini, Danny, myself, along with bass player Vinnie Roslin, were shortly woodshedding out of a cottage on the main street of a lobster-fishing town: Highlands, NJ. We first saw Garry Tallent along with Southside Johnny when they dragged two chairs onto an empty dance floor as I plugged my guitar into the upstage wall of sound. I was the new kid in a new town, and these were the guys who owned the place. They sat back and looked at me like, “Come on, come on, punk. Bring it. Let’s see what you got.” And I reached back and I burnt their house down.
Garry Tallent’s great bass-playing and Southern gentleman’s presence has anchored my band for 40 years. Thank you, Garry! Thank you, sir.
Then one night, I wandered in the Upstage, and I was dumbstruck by a baby-faced, 16-year-old David Sancious. Davey was very, very unusual: He was a young, black man who — in 1968, Asbury Park, which was not a peaceful place — crossed the tracks in search of musical adventure, and he blessed us with his talent and his love. He was my roomie in the early, two-guys-to-one-six-dollar-motel-room years of the E Street Band. He was good, he kept his socks clean; it was lovely. And he was carrying around a snake around his neck at that time, so I lucked out with Davey as my roommate. [laughs] AND, Davey’s the only member of the group who ever actually lived on E Street!
So I walked in and he was on the club’s organ. And Davey’s reserved now, but at the time, he danced like Sly Stone and he played like Booker T, and he poured out blues and soul and jazz and gospel and rock & roll and he had things in his keyboard that we just never heard before. It was just so full of soul and so beautiful. Davey, we love you, and we still miss you so, you know?
But predating all of this was Steve Van Zandt. Steven: frontman, hitman. I walk into the Middletown Hullabaloo Club; he was the frontman for a band called the Shadows. He had on a tie that went from here down to his feet. All I remember is that he was singing the Turtles’ “Happy Together.” During a break at the Hullabaloo Club in New Jersey, he played 55 minutes on and five minutes off, and if there was a fight, he had to rush onstage and start playing again.
So I met Stevie there and he soon became my bass player first, then lead guitarist. My consigliere, my dependable devil’s advocate whenever I need one. The invaluable ears for everything that I create, I always get ahold of him, and fan number one. So he’s my comic foil onstage, my fellow producer/arranger and my blood, blood, blood, blood, blood brother. Let’s keep rolling for as many lives as they’ll give us, alright?
Years and bands went by: Child, Steel Mill, the Bruce Springsteen Band — they were all some combo of the above-mentioned gang. Then I scored a solo recording contract with Columbia Records, and I argued to get to choose my recording “sidemen,” which was a misnomer, in this case, if there ever was one.
So, I chose my band and my great friends, and we finally landed on E Street — the rare, rock & roll hybrid of solo artistry and a true rock & roll band.
But one big thing was missing … It was a dark and stormy night, a Nor’easter rattled the street lamps on Kingsley Blvd. and in walked Clarence Clemons. I’d been enthralled by the sax sounds of King Curtis and I searched for years for a great rock & roll saxophonist. And that night Clarence walked in, walked towards the stage and he rose, towering to my right on the Prince’s tiny stage, about the size of this podium, and then he unleashed the force of nature that was the sound and the soul of the Big Man. In that moment, I knew that my life had changed. Miss you, love you Big Man. Wish that he was with us tonight. This would mean a great, great deal to Clarence.
An honorable mention and shout-out to Ernie “Boom” Carter. The drummer who played on one song only: “Born to Run.” He picked a good one. So here’s to you, Ernie. Thank you, thank you.
Thanks, of course, Max Weinberg and Roy Bittan, who answered an ad in the Village Voice. And they beat out 60 other drummers and keyboardists for the job. It was the indefatigable, almost dangerously dedicated Mighty Max Weinberg and the fabulous five finger of Professor Roy Bittan. They refined and they defined the sounds of the E Street Band that remains our calling card around the world to this day. Thank you, Roy. Thank you, Max. They are my professional hitmen. I love them both.
Then, 10 years later, Nils Lofgren and Patti Scialfa joined just in time to assist us in the rebirth of Born in the U.S.A. Nils, one of the world’s great, great rock guitarists, with a choir boy’s voice, has given me everything he’s had for the past 30 years. Thank you, Nils. So much love.
And Patti Scialfa — a Jersey Girl — who came down one weekend from New York City and sat in with a local band, Cats on a Smooth Surface and Bobby Bandiera at the Stone Pony, where she sang a killer version of the Exciters’ “Tell ‘Em.” She had a voice that was full of a little Ronnie Spector, a little Dusty Springfield and a lot of something that was her very, very own. After she was done, I walked up, I introduced myself at the back bar, we grabbed a couple of stools and we sat there for the next hour or thirty years or so — talking about music and everything else. So we added my lovely red-headed woman and she broke the boy’s club!
Now, I wanted our band to mirror our audience, and by 1984, that band had grown men and grown women. But, her entrance freaked us out so much that opening night of the Born in the U.S.A. tour, I asked her to come into my dressing room and see what she was gonna wear! So she had on kind of a slightly feminine T-shirt and I stood there, sort of sweating. At my feet, I had a little Samsonite luggage bag that I carried with me, and I kicked it over. It was full of all my smelly, sweaty T-shirts and I said, “Just pick one of these, it’ll be fine.” She’s not wearing one tonight. But Patti, I love you, thank you for your beautiful voice, you changed my band and my life. Thank you for our beautiful children.
So, real bands — real bands are made primarily from the neighborhood. From a real time and real place that exists for a little while, then changes and is gone forever. They’re made from the same circumstances, the same needs, the same hungers, culture. They’re forged in the search of something more promising than what you were born into. These are the elements, the tools, and these are the people who built the place called E Street.
Now, E Street was a dance; was an idea; was a wish; was a refuge; was a home; was a destination; was a gutter dream; and finally, it was a band. We struggled together, and sometimes, we struggled with one another. We bathed in the glory, and often, the heartbreaking confusion of our rewards together. We’ve enjoyed health, and we’ve suffered illness and aging and death together. We took care of one another when trouble knocked, and we hurt one another in big and small ways.
But in the end, we kept faith in each other. And one thing is for certain: As I said before in reference to Clarence Clemons — I told a story with the E Street Band that was, and is, bigger than I ever could have told on my own. And I believe that settles that question.
But that is the hallmark of a rock and roll band — the narrative you tell together is bigger than anyone could have told on your own. That’s the Rolling Stones; the Sex Pistols; that’s Bob Marley and the Wailers. That’s James Brown and His Famous Flames. That’s Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
So, I thank you my beautiful men and women of E Street. You made me dream and love bigger than I could have ever without you. And tonight I stand here with just one regret: that Danny and Clarence couldn’t be with us here tonight.
Sixteen years ago, a few days before my own induction, I stood in my darkened kitchen along with Steve Van Zandt. Steve was just returning to the band after a 15-year hiatus and he was petitioning me to push the Hall of Fame to induct all of us together. I listened, and the Hall of Fame had its rules, and I was proud of my independence. We hadn’t played together in 10 years, we were somewhat estranged, we were just taking the first small steps over reforming. We didn’t know what the future would bring. And perhaps the shadows of some of the old grudges held some sway.
It was a conundrum, as we’ve never quite been fish nor fowl. And Steve was quiet, but persistent. And at the end of our conversation, he just said, “Yeah, I understand. But Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band — that’s the legend.”
So I’m proud to induct, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, hard-rocking, booty-shaking, love-making, earth-quaking, Viagra-taking, justifying, death-defying, legendary E Street Band.
Today’s Sunday Session is an homage to outlaw country music. It features four superstars from the outlaw country music genre (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson) performing as The Highwaymen. That’s a lot of talent, and even more cool, for one stage….I hope you enjoy it!
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was reading Simple Dreams by Linda Ronstadt. I have enjoyed the book and the behind the scenes stories that it contains. A great example of those stories is Linda’s description of working with Brian Wilson who I think is one of the great musical geniuses of our generation. Like all geniuses, Brian is a little eccentric and Linda captures that perfectly in the following story extracted from Simple Dreams……
When Peter Asher and I began to record the Cry Like a Rainbow album, our best collaboration, in my opinion. Jimmy (Webb) wrote an orchestral arrangement for me of his wistful song “Adios,” with Brian Wilson singing the complex backing harmonies. I had known Brian Wilson briefly in my Troubadour days, when he was separated for a time from his first wife. He was always sweet and friendly, and never pressed any romantic agenda. Several times I discovered him at my back door, studying a little pile of coins he held in his hand, which he said was ten or fifteen cents shy of the price for a bottle of grape juice. He said it was important for him to drink grape juice in order to solve some health problem that was troubling him. I would provide the remaining ten or fifteen cents, and we would climb into his huge convertible with the top always down, the back stuffed with a sizable accumulation of Brian’s dirty laundry. As a bachelor, he seemed to have difficulty coping with domestic arrangements, so I would suggest a trip to the Laundromat, where we would fill an entire row of machines. (I had a lot of quarters.) Afterward we would sit in my living room, drink the grape juice, and listen to my small collection of Phil Spector records. Brian really liked Phil Spector.
In the studio, under Brian’s direction, we recorded his harmony parts for “Adios” with five separate tracks of unison singing on each of the three parts, fifteen vocal tracks in all. He didn’t seem concerned if some of the tracks veered slightly out of tune, but took advantage of the slight “chorused” effect it created when he came back into the control room to mix the harmony tracks into the creamy vocal smoothness instantly recognizable as the Beach Boys.
Brian was making up the harmonies as he went along, but sometimes, when he was having difficulty figuring out a complicated section, he would scold himself and say that he needed to work for a time at the piano. However, when he sat down at the piano, he never played any part of “Adios,” but instead would play a boogie-woogie song, very loud in a different key. After a few minutes of this he would go back to the microphone and sing the parts perfectly, without a trace of hesitation.
Let’s listen to the results of that collaboration……
A great Jimmy Webb song, a beautiful vocal by Linda, and unbelievable harmonies from Brian…..it doesn’t get any better than this! If you are a Linda fan I encourage you to pickup Simple Dreams, you will really enjoy it.
I’m a big Dawes fan (you already know this if you have been reading this blog!). They recently released a new video for Most People from their Stories Don’t End album. It includes some good tour footage so I thought you might enjoy it.
As a bonus, here is a great clip of a Dawes/Mumford and Sons performance of a little ditty that some of you might be old enough to have heard before 🙂
Without a doubt this is the most famous, and strange, holiday song collaboration. How someone ever decided to put David Bowie and Bing Crosby is beyond me but what can I say……it worked! If you are looking for a Christmas miracle this pairing qualifies. Enjoy….
Your surprise gift tonight is my favorite David Bowie performance of all time. David has adopted some amazing personas and has had some incredible performance but this isn’t one of them. This is a low key David at the Concert for New York City after 9/11 and what makes it so incredible is that he struck the perfect tone for the occasion. That and the fact that it was another one of those strange parings. David Bowie singing Simon and Garfunkel…… strange but it just works.
Here is a really good holiday song from one of my favorite duos, the amazing Indigo Girls.
My surprise gift to you today is an amazing living room performance of Dear Mr President by the Indigo Girls and Pink. Pink wrote the song about George W. Bush our previous president that single handedly destroyed the American economy by dragging us into two wars that we couldn’t afford while cutting taxes for his rich buddies. It is a great song and a wonderful performance. I hope you enjoy it!
My degrees are in mathematics so I am well aware that 1+1 always equals 2; however, in music it has been my experience that sometimes 1+1 equals 3. By that I mean that sometimes the collaboration of two or more musicians results in a product that is greater than the sum of it’s parts. This series of posts seeks to highlight great examples of that phenomenon.
First up is a collaboration between Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrel.
Marvin had been successfully paired with several female singers early in his career including Mary Wells and Kim Weston. Although these collaborations produced commercially successful singles they were all missing that magical spark that allows some collaborations to exceed expectations. In 1967 Berry Gordy paired Marvin with a new Motown singer named Tammi Terrell. The previously missing spark was evident from their very first collaboration on Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and on their associated first album, United. Unfortunately Tammi collapsed on stage during a performance with Marvin later that year and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She would have eight operations over the next three years before cancer won the fight taking her away from us way too early at the age of 24. Marvin was devastated by Tammi’s illness and subsequent death.
Fortunately for us, during those intervening three years Marvin and Tammi managed to record two more albums, You’re All I Need (1968) and Easy (1969), which included a number of amazing singles including California Soul, the featured song in this post. California Soul would be the last Marvin and Tammi single that was released and, in my opinion, they saved the best for last.
Life is strange in that many tragedies lead to amazing works of art. This was the case with Tammi’s loss. When Marvin emerged from seclusion, a year after Tammi’s death, it was to release his personal masterpiece, What’s Going On. Unfortunately Marvin’s personal life was already on a downhill slide that was triggered, at least in part, by Tammi’s loss. In 1984 Marvin was shot and killed by his father. Another amazing talent taken away too soon.
Coming Attractions: Next up will be our final post in the Southern California Sound series where we explore the start of the decline of the Southern California Sound. The decline was driven by money, I know you are shocked, and by people who believed that music was just a matter of formulas (one Byrd + one Buffalo Springfiled + one other great songwriter = Success & Money).