Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Day of Rest: Holy Week

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For a feature named after one of the Ten Commandments, it only makes sense to showcase music that highlights one of the biggest religious weeks of the year. No sermons or homilies...just good music that paints a picture of the message of the week.

Let's start off with Judas Iscariot. Was he a scapegoat, a traitor, a confused follower? Debates can be found elsewhere. Today, we're just enjoying the late Carl Anderson's outstanding portrayal of the man who turned Jesus in for 30 pieces of silver.

The Doobie Brothers, named after all the pot they smoked over the years, may not seem such a likely source for a song about what a friend they have in Jesus but here you go...

For our Jewish friends, let's put the Maccabeats in here with the Passover story, as might have been told by Victor Hugo.

Norman Greenbaum struck a chord with his homage to the Spirit in the Sky. Mr. Greenbaum is now a farmer in Sonoma.

Depeche Mode chimes in with their views. 

Johnny Cash did a very good cover of this one too.

That's it! Have a great Holy Week, Passover, and Easter.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Day of Rest: The Woodstock of the West Coast

The Day of Rest is presented by Amazon.comAmazon Prime members get free, unlimited downloads and free 2-day shipping on all Prime Eligible merchandise. Sign up for your free trial at the link below.

It was forty years ago today. No, that's not the day that Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play. It was the day Southern California had it's own mammoth music festival, the California Jam.

Where the 10 and 15 freeways intersect today, on what is now covered by Ontario Mills Shopping Center and other various businesses, there was a large speedway. 

Ontario Motor Speeday had a track copied from Indy, a 2.5 mile rectangle with rounded corners. If you saw the old George Hamilton movie, 'Evel Knievel,' this was where the scenes regarding his big jump were filmed.

This was the location of the California Jam. I wasn't there, I was only 12 at the time, but I do remember it. It was shown on TV and that day, we were driving along the San Bernardino Freeway (Interstate 10) to my grandmother's house and I remember it was so crowded that people just parked there cars over the first couple of lanes of freeway and walked in from there.

Must've been a hell of a show.

Here are a few highights...

Let's start with a very, very young Ozzy Osbourne leading Black Sabbath in a rendition of 'War Pigs.'

Let's move on to the Eagles remembering that time they stood on the corner in Winsow, Arizona.

Rare Earth just wants to celebrate.

Not this day, but one of the craziest, rowdiest concerts I ever attended in my life was headlined by Jim Dandy and Black Oak Arkansas.

For many people that day, the highlight was this performance of 'Smoke on the Water."

A lot more people thought that the big highlight was Keith Emerson taking flight with his piano.

We'll leave you with this version of Karn Evil 9 from the Jam...


Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Reflection On The Human Condition

Photo Courtesy of: Wikimedia
Tristan Loper/ under CC BY-SA 3.0 License

The name Michael Fitzpatrick may or may not sound familiar to you right off the bat.  On the other hand, the name of the band he formed you've probably heard before.  Fitzpatrick is the frontman of the Los Angeles based Fitz and The Tantrums.

Fitz and The Tantrums came on the scene in 2008.  The band lineup consists of Fitzpatrick on lead vocals and keyboards, Noelle Scaggs on vocals and percussion, James King who seems to play just about any instrument you could think of, Joseph Karnes on bass guitar, Jeremy Ruzumma on keyboards and John Wicks on drums and percussion.

They released their first album Pickin' Up The Pieces in August of 2010.  The album turned out to be a smashing success!  The interesting thing about the album is that it was all recorded in Fitzpatrick's living room!  It's easier to understand why they did this when you consider that they couldn't afford to go into a professional recording studio due to the usual struggles a band seems to go through just to get noticed.

Sob stories aside, the band has now achieved great success.  Pickin' Up The Pieces gives a taste of what the band is really about.  They have a soulful and blues feel in their music for sure.  One track that stands out in particular is "Dear Mr. President."

A title with the word President in it would probably lead you to believe that the song is somehow aimed at the government efforts, or lack thereof, to help out its own citizens.  That may have been the band's goal from the outset, but I also think the song's message is much more than a government manifesto.

"Hey put your foot down and take a look round.  Don't like what you see?  No no no no no no!"

The lyrics tell general tales of people going through various struggles in their daily lives.  There is also the contemplation of how these folks go about trying to make a better life for themselves and their families and acquaintances.

As the song advises, if you don't like your current situation in life, one choice is to put your foot down and do what you can to either change your life or make the best of it.  In the end though, it should be up to you to figure out how you want to live your life.

By the way, who doesn't like a song that starts with a catchy "Hey, woo!" clap chant?

Tim Musick
Copyright 2014
All Rights Reserved


Boz Scaggs' Ode To Gambling and Con Men Everywhere?

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Dwight McCann under CC BY-SA 2.5 license

Every time I hear Boz Scaggs' "Lido Shuffle," I'm always asking myself what the heck is it about?  The best interpretation I can come up with is a con man gambler who's luck is running out.  The lyrics make that meaning seem logical enough.

According to Scaggs in a 2013 interview with Song Facts, he came up with the idea for the song came from a song that Fats Domino domino did called "The Fat Man."  That song had a shuffling beat to it similar to "Lido Shuffle."

Interpretations aside, "Lido Shuffle" is a dynamite selection on Scaggs' Silk Degrees album from 1976. You may or may not know that members of Scaggs, backing band at the time, including David Paich, would later form the band called Toto.  "Lido" was also featured on the soundtrack for the movie FM.

"Lido missed the boat that day left the shack.  But that was all he missed and he ain't comin' back."

All in all, Mr. Scaggs has had quite a career for himself.  He is still going strong making albums. His most recent was 2013's Memphis.  Keep up the good work Boz!

Tim Musick
Copyright 2014
All Rights Reserved

Brandy Clark Sings About The Possibilities Of Jail Life

Brandy Clark has been on the Nashville scene for quite a while.  Prior to releasing her debut solo album 12 Stories in 2013, Clark made a living as a prolific songwriter for other country music artists in Nashville.  The long list of names includes Rebecca Lynn Howard, Reba McEntire, Miranda Lambert, LeAnn Rimes and Kacey Musgraves just to name a few.  For those of you who are familiar with Musgraves' "Follow Your Arrow," you can thank Ms. Clark for making that song possible.

With a bunch of writing credits under her belt dating back to 2005, Clark has officially entered the realm of solo artist with material of her very own.

12 Stories is filled with very good songs throughout and as such, it is very hard for me to pick a favorite. Each selection is beautifully written and delves into aspects of everyday life that make traditional country music so good.  Did I also mention that some of the songs deal with very dark subject matter.  The album is made up of 12 tracks or stories that were admired by other artists but were not recorded by them due to the provocative storytelling and daring content.  Clark, however, is a master at blending the dark subject matter with a nice touch of humor.  One track that illustrates this very point is the album's first single "Stripes."

"Stripes" tells the story of woman who catches her significant other in bed cheating on her with another woman.  The protagonist seems to be so effected by this that she contemplates murdering her significant other right then and there.  While she doesn't mind the prospect of spending the rest of her life in jail for the most part, her vanity wins out because she fears how she would look in an orange jumpsuit and she hates stripes.  It is because of this that the man is saved from an almost certain death and the woman doesn't face a life in jail.

"The only thing savin' your life is that I don't look good in orange and I hate stripes!"

One can only hope this is the start of a successful solo career for one of Nashville's most well known songwriters within the country music industry.

Tim Musick
Copyright 2014
All Rights Reserved

The Real Version Of Cee Lo's "Forget You!"

Photo Courtesy of: Wikimedia
Julio Enriquez under CC BY 2.0 License

Warning...explicit language ahead.

A little bit of full disclosure about how I prefer my music.  If there is more than one version of a particular song I like, I generally prefer to go with the original version of how the artist intended it to be experienced.  This is especially true when it comes to profane language in any given song.  I do not like the so called watered down lyrics.

Enter Thomas DeCarlo Callaway's (a.k.a Cee Lo Green), "Forget You!"  For the longest time, I was under the impression that there was one and only one official version of "Forget You!"  That all changed after I saw the March 15, 2012 episode of Live From Daryl's House in which Green was the guest artist.

In the middle of the episode, Daryl Hall and his superb bandmates, along with Cee Lo, did a very good rendition of the full unedited version of "Fuck You!"  I haven't viewed "Forget You!" in the same light ever since!  Whenever I hear the "Forget You!" version now, all I can do is laugh!  It should be noted, perhaps somewhat ironically, that the original inspiration for the song comes from how Cee Lo views today's music industry and how they do business.  He definitely makes no secret of his disdain for it.  This song can be looked at as a big middle finger pointed directly at the head honchos who help create today's so called "music."

You've probably heard enough of my chatter by now!  Let's get on with the show!  In honor of those who feel that music is a form of free speech and should not be censored no matter what, here is the full unedited version of "Fuck You!" from LFDH the way it was meant to be seen and heard:

"I see you drivin' round town with the girl I love and I'm like, 'FUCK YOU!' "

One last thing.  It always cracks me up when I hear Daryl Hall sing such profane language.  How he's able to keep a straight face, I'll never know.  I guess that's why he's a professional and I'm not.

Tim Musick
Copyright 2014
All Rights Reserved

Freddie Mercury's Love Letter To Mary Austin

Photo Courtesy of: Wikimedia
Bernd Bragelmann under CC BY-SA 3.0 and CC BY-SA 2.5 Licenses

Before Queen's Freddie Mercury came to terms with his own sexuality, he actually wrote a song about his longtime girlfriend Mary Austin.  Appearing on 1975's A Night At The Opera, (considered to be the best work from Queen), "Love of My Life" is a true showcase of the genius of the late Mercury.

Not only did Mercury play piano on the selection, but he also did all of the backing vocals on the original studio track with flawless precision.  The breathtaking vocals are a perfect example of Mercury's astounding vocal range from low bass to high soprano.

Mercury's band mate, Brian May, played harp on the selection, doing so chord by chord and pasting each take one by one to form the entire harp portion of the song.  May also played a Gibson Hummingbird acoustic guitar and his famous Red Special on the track.

"Bring it back! Bring it back! Don't take it away from me because you don't know what it means to me!

"Love of My Life" quickly became such a favorite at concerts that Mercury would stop singing the lyrics to the song and allow the audience to take over (as seen in the video above).

The song has since become one of Mercury's most covered songs with acts like Extreme, Scorpions and even Elaine Paige, each doing a rendition of this classic and wonderful Queen tune.

I'm not sure if this is even my favorite piece from A Night At The Opera, but it is a gem that is meant to be admired for generations to come.  It's too bad that Mercury is no longer with us to experience its true magic.

Tim Musick
Copyright 2014
All Rights Reserved

Monday, March 31, 2014

I Didn't Grow Up In The Holler But It Sure Sounds Fun

The dynamic duo of childhood buddies Kris Bentley and Nick Jamerson are about as country as it gets.  The two boys from Prestonsburg in Eastern Kentucky are probably better known by their other name: Sundy Best.  The band's name refers to wearing one's best clothing for church on Sundays and also to how people talk in the South where they say "Sundy" instead of "Sunday."

Let me tell you, these country boys have definitely come a long way from Kentucky.  That's because they just recently celebrated their 3 month anniversary on February 26 of making their Grand Ole Opry debut last November at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

I consider myself very fortunate and extremely lucky to have been in the audience for this very important moment in the band's career.  Now they weren't the headliner that night, (that honor went to Craig Morgan who was celebrating 5 years as a member of the Opry that night), but they sure brought the house down.

After closing their three song set with the hit single "Home" Bentley and Jamerson received a resounding standing ovation from the big crowd at the Ryman.  Not only was it significant because it was their Opry debut, but also because they were the only act to achieve the feat that night.

"Yeah I wanna go hoooooooome!"

Since then it has been one heck of a ride.  Not only have they made multiple appearances on the Grand Ole Opry since then, but their second album comes out this Tuesday.  Keep up the good work boys and stay humble!

Tim Musick
Copyright 2014
All Rights Reserved