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Today in Music History July 22

1965 Mick Jagger, Brian Jones and Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones were fined £5 each in a London court after being found guilty of ‘insulting behaviour’ at a British gas station. The three had all urinated against a wall after the  station attendant had refused them the use of the facilities.  More at Rolling Stone.com

 

1967 The Doors perform ‘The Crystal Ship’ and ‘Light My Fire’ on American Bandstand. Cultures clash….

 

1977 Tony Orlando announces his retirement from music on stage in Massachusetts, shocking the audience and his group Dawn.  Two months later he is back at work, although he never was as popular again.  Music fans rejoice.

 

 

Rainy day music

Paul’s great song of the day suggestion for today, “Raining in Baltimore”, puts me in mind of rainy day songs. This article from the New Musical Express lists the top 20 songs about rain.  List like this are made to be debated and argued over. I agree with some of the choices here and disagree with others but I absolutely have to give a nod to “Purple Rain”. I think this might be one of the best songs in the last 40 years, not just a great song about rain

https://www.nme.com/list/20-songs-rain-1947915

 

Since Paul’s rainy day song was a cover version, here’s another great cover version. Sometimes it just takes one great artist to do justice to the work of another great artist .

 

Hmm… – Study claims that attending a concert once every two weeks can add nine years to your life

From Consequences of Sound:

Concerts can be daunting as you get older, what with late start times, a slew of opening acts, and the prospect of standing next to tall, sweaty people for several hours. A new study, however, claims that the effort’s worth it.

Conducted by O2 and behavioral science expert Patrick Fagan and reported by NME, the study finds that regular concert attendance can increase one’s lifespan by up to nine years. The logic here is that live music increases feelings of self-worth, closeness to others, and, especially, mental stimulation, all of which contribute to one’s sense of well-being. According to the study, there’s a “positive correlation between regularity of gig attendance and well-being,” and “additional scholarly research directly links high levels of wellbeing with a lifespan increase of nine years.”

These sensations of well-being were measured using psychometric testing and heart-rate tests, and the study says experiencing a gig for just 20 minutes can result in a 21% increase in feelings of well-being. The study’s recommendation is that one concert every two weeks will score one’s “happiness, contentment, productivity and self-esteem at the highest level.”

Does that sound like a load of hooey to you? Especially once you consider that O2 is a concert venue that plugs its “Priority Tickets” program in the text of the study? Yeah, maybe, but who are we to argue? Some of the most fun we’ve ever had has been at concerts, and who’s going to disagree that happy people are likely to live longer?

Also, this isn’t the first time scientists have come to such a conclusion.

See more live music.

 

What’s that song from that movie that I liked?

      Music and movies have always had a connection , even in the early years of cinema. The very first movies were silent but had music as a soundtrack. Some films, when shown in the theater, were accompanied by musicians playing live. Directors recognized even then that music could be used as an instrument to create atmosphere and evoke emotion. Many of our greatest films can be identified by only a few bars played from their musical score.
Filmmakers in the last 50 years or so have increasingly used music in their films that was not specifically written for that purpose. In essence, these filmmakers have become curators pulling together sometimes disparate songs with the overall goal of creating atmosphere, setting the mood and even advancing the plot.The tone of the movie Trainspotting was undeniably set with it’s iconic opening scene of three Scottish hoodlums running through the streets to Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life”.

     While not one of my favorite movies, I can’t deny that the opening scene of Saturday night fever and the song “Staying Alive” were made for each other. The soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever was produced with the movie in mind but it was also a stand alone album that could’ve been released on his own without the existence of the movie.

     Many movies over the years have made extensive use of popular music with varying degrees of success. The best ones have managed to choose songs that complemented the action taking place on screen without distracting from it.
Two of my personal favorites are “Almost Famous“ and “High Fidelity”.

     Almost Famous is a semi- autobiographical, part fact, part fiction retelling of young Cameron Crowe’s experience as a 15-year-old who manages to get an assignment from Rolling Stone magazine to tour with and write a profile on a young up-and-coming rock ‘n’ roll band. What results is a chronicle of a rock tour and a coming of age story in the early 1970’s world of rock ‘n’ roll excess. The movie is filled with music from that era without using the most obvious choices. One of the most memorable scenes takes place on the tour bus after a night of hard partying by the lead guitarist jeopardizes the tour. The film muses artists including the Who, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Todd Rundgren, the Beach boys, Simon & Garfunkel, David Bowie covering Lou Reed and even Thunderclap Newman.

     High Fidelity tells the story, adapted from the book written by Nick Hornby, of the owner of a store called Championship Vinyl, played by John Cusack. It’s the story of his journey from a string of failed romances to an actual grown-up relationship told in the format of “my top five break ups”. Every music nerd has engaged in the discussion of “my top five albums”, “my top five songs”, etc. This movie uses that device extensively. The music often takes center stage but does it without crowding out the story or the characters. It varies from classic Stevie Wonder to more obscure modern rock and punk; Dylan,The Kinks, Velvet Underground, Stereolab, the Beta band, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Costello and the Attractions and the Jam to name a few.
As an added bonus, there’s even a brief cameo by Bruce Springsteen. It also doesn’t hurt that Jack Black is hilarious.

     What these two movies have in common, aside from both being among my top five all-time favorite films, is that the creators of these films happen to obviously love music. The music in both of them is practically a supporting actor

     Another movie worth mentioning is Empire records from 1995. It’s the story of a day in the life of an independent record store staffed by a bunch of misfits and oddballs. I mention it not because it’s a good movie, far from it. It’s actually a terrible movie. It has plot holes you can drive a semi through, exposition that appears out of nowhere and then disappears without further exploration, and moments of high drama that have no place in a movie this lightweight. So naturally, I’ve seen it at least five times. Why? Because the soundtrack is actually half decent. It’s got some Dire Straits, AC/DC, some more obscure but interesting music and a surreal performance of a punk pop song called “Sugar High” by a very young Renee Zellweger at the climax of the movie. Music is truly the glue that holds this rambling wreck of a movie together. Oh, Liv Tyler is also in it and for me that always increases the odds of a repeat viewing.

     Of course, there are many movies that have fantastic soundtracks; Apocalypse now, Forrest Gump, Good Morning Vietnam and Pulp Fiction, to name a few. Tom Hanks, as producer of the movie “That Thing You Do”, actually pulled off an amazing feat. He told the story of a fictional one hit wonder band in the early 1960s touring with a bunch of other artists of that era. He managed to do it with almost all original music made by fictional singers that sounded like it was written in 1962. This movie also has the distinction of being one of only a few movies I can put on at my house when no one can agree on what to watch and everyone will be happy.
(Liv Tyler is in this one too)

     Music and TV shows have also been a good match. Many shows have used music to their advantage and done it well. The West Wing and the Newsroom, both created by Aaron Sorkin, have memorable episodes which included music from a number of different artists. In the second season of The West Wing, the season finale climaxed with the Dire Straits song, “Brothers in Arms”. That episode remains one of the creative peaks of a show with many creative high points.
The Newsroom used the Coldplay song “Fix You” early in the first season at a pivotal moment in the arc of that first season’s story line. (It’s a 7 minute clip but worth the time)

The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”Provided the soundtrack to the most important segment of the season finale.

     Actor and director Zach Braff takes enormous interest in the music in his projects. The show Scrubs used music extensively to the point that two albums worth of music from the soundtrack were release. In his first movie that he starred and directed in, “Garden State”, also incorporated music extensively and resulted in an album soundtrack.

     A good soundtrack in a movie or TV show almost always gets my attention. At its best the music makes a good story even better. I’ll even put up with the flaws of a bad movie if the music is good. Only the combination of bad movie, saddled with bad music, will send me running for the exits or changing the channel.

Or, you can just make the movie about Johnny Cash.

A Change was Made Uptown, and the Piano Man Joined the Band…

Last night in NYC, Billy Joel celebrated his 100th MSG show with special guest Bruce Springsteen!

From Backstreets.com


“JERSEY AND LONG ISLAND BUST THE CITY IN HALF”
Last night in NYC, Bruce Springsteen headed downtown from 48th Street to 33rd, to join Billy Joel for a big night at Madison Square Garden. Celebrating his unprecedented 100th lifetime show at the Garden, Billy brought Bruce out midway through Wednesday night’s concert, introducing him as “an old friend of mine… an Oscar-winner, Grammy-winner… and a Tony Award-winner, please welcome Bruce Springsteen!”

Taking the stage with mic in hand, to plenty of Brooocing and a hug from his pal, Springsteen congratulated Billy on 100 shows before counting the band into “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out.” “Do it again, do it again!” he called to Billy’s horn section, before working the stage and hopping up on the piano as he has at the Garden many times before — though not in the triple digits. Billy took the second verse, and Bruce didn’t miss the opportunity for a perfect lyric change: “They made that change uptown, and the Piano Man joined the band!” And of course, “Jersey and Long Island bust the city in half.”

Soon Bruce was strapping on his trusty Fender for one more: “Born to Run.” Billy sang the second verse on this one, too, and his longtime saxman Mark Rivera joined Bruce center stage for a deft turn on the iconic sax solo. Interestingly, one other band member on stage has played that solo before, as this appearance also reunited Springsteen with ’92-93 bandmember Crystal Taliefero.

Watch the full appearance above — pretty thrilling to see Springsteen not only back in his rock ‘n’ roll element with two classics, but to be sharing a big moment with his Columbia compatriot. As proclaimed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, yesterday was officially Billy Joel Day in the state of New York — congrats to Billy on the honor and on 100 nights at the World’s Most Famous Arena.
– July 19, 2018 – photograph via Twitter/@WineConcierge – setlist via Twitter/@billyjoel

Bruce news!

“Springsteen on Broadway” coming to Netflix

“Springsteen on Broadway” will launch globally on Netflix on December 15, 2018, which is also the final night of Springsteen’s completely sold out 236-show run at Jujamcyn’s Walter Kerr Theatre on Broadway. “Springsteen on Broadway” is a solo acoustic performance written and performed by Tony Award, Academy Award, and 20-time Grammy Award winner Bruce Springsteen. Based on his worldwide best-selling autobiography ‘Born to Run,’ “Springsteen on Broadway” is a unique evening with Bruce, his guitar, a piano, and his very personal stories. In addition, it features a special appearance by Patti Scialfa. The evening has received rave reviews in top media here and abroad.

“Springsteen on Broadway” is written by Bruce Springsteen, and directed and produced by Emmy Award-winner Thom Zimny (“Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Live in New York City (2001)”). In addition to Zimny, the film is being produced by the same team that produced “Springsteen on Broadway,” including Springsteen manager Jon Landau, Springsteen tour director George Travis, and Landau Management partner Barbara Carr.

Said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, Netflix: “We are thrilled to bring Bruce Springsteen — a master storyteller, humanitarian and voice of the everyman — to Netflix in this historic one man show. This groundbreaking experience defies the boundaries of theater, concerts and film and will give our global audience an intimate look at one of the biggest cultural icons of our time.”

Said Springsteen manager, Jon Landau: “The purpose of the film is to bring this incredibly intimate show to Bruce’s entire audience intact and complete. In addition to its many other virtues, Netflix has provided for a simultaneous worldwide release which is particularly important for our massive international audience. Ted Sarandos and the entire company’s support has been a perfect match for Bruce’s personal commitment to the filmed version of ‘Springsteen on Broadway.’”

Bruce Springsteen’s historic sold-out series of performances of his one man show “Springsteen On Broadway” began previews on October 3, 2017 and officially opened October 12. The show was extended three times after its initial eight-week run, and will close on Broadway on December 15, 2018, bringing the total number of performances to 236.

George Theiss 1949-2018. Bandmate of Bruce Springsteen in his first band The Castiles

George Theiss passed away this past Friday, July 13.

From Backstreets.com:

GEORGE THEISS, 1949-2018

George Theiss died on Friday after a two-year battle with lung cancer. He was 68. Theiss was Bruce Springsteen’s bandmate in their teen-years band The Castiles; Springsteen is now the last surviving member of that band.

Theiss formed The Castiles — named after the shampoo that he used — in late 1964 and was the band’s lead singer. He had been dating Virginia Springsteen for a while before learning that her brother could play the guitar; George soon invited Bruce to join the band. In his Born to Run autobiography, Springsteen identified The Castiles as “my first real band”….  He also described George Theiss as “the best vocalist we had. He had a real voice and charisma and did the job well. I was considered toxic in front of a microphone…

The Castiles actually got as far as playing New York City’s famous Café Wha? and doing a bit of recording. Their two-track recording of “Baby I,” a song that Springsteen and Theiss wrote together, was featured on Chapter and Verse, the 2016 compilation released in conjunction with the Born to Run autobiography.  After The Castiles broke up, George Theiss remained a fixture on the Jersey Shore music scene through the 1970s and 1980s, later leading Cahoots and The George Theiss Band, and continuing to write and perform.

The Story of Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land from NPR Music’s NPR 100

 

Woody Guthrie.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Some have called “This Land Is Your Land” an alternative national anthem. Others say it’s a Marxist response to “God Bless America.” It was written and first sung by Woody Guthrie. Over time, it’s been sung by everyone from Bruce Springsteen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Folklorist Nick Spitzer has the story of an American classic.

Woodrow Wilson Guthrie was born in 1912 in Okemah, Okla. He recorded “This Land Is Your Land” during a marathon April 1944 session in New York for Moses Asch, who founded Folkways Records. Guthrie was on shore leave from the Merchant Marines, one of his many occupations during the Depression and war years.

Growing up in small-town Oklahoma, Guthrie heard church hymns, outlaw ballads, blues, fiddle tunes and popular music. The Guthries had been fairly prosperous — Woody’s father was a small-time politician and businessman — but the family unraveled in the topsy-turvy oil economy of the ’20s and ’30s. The Guthrie family relocated to Pampa, Tex., after Woody’s mother was committed to a mental institution for a mysterious nervous condition. That’s when Woody took to the road.

As a boy, he’d already proven himself to be a gifted street entertainer — dancing, playing guitar and harmonica, making up songs as he went. Words and music became a growing passion for him.

Original Lyrics

“This Land Is Your Land” wasn’t released by Folkways until 1951, but the song was originally written in February 1940, when Woody Guthrie first arrived in New York City from Oklahoma. Guthrie had a keen ear for the recordings of Virginia’s Carter Family, and he was not afraid to borrow. A 1930 gospel recording, “When the World’s on Fire,” sung by the Carters, must have provided the tune for what would become “This Land Is Your Land.”

Musician, activist and Guthrie’s fellow traveler Pete Seeger has probably sung “This Land” more than anyone else. He says that Guthrie made good use of the popular melodies of the day.

“He tended to write words first, and later on picked out a tune,” Seeger says. “Woody once said, ‘When I’m writing a song and I get the words, I look around for some tune that has proved its popularity with the people.'”

Social Commentary

A man happier on the road than at home, he’d walked, hitched and ridden the rails all over the country. He went first to the Gulf Coast, then west to California, where he joined the half-million so-called Okies and Arkies — Dust Bowl refugees migrating in search of better lives. Although Guthrie purposefully threw himself into these travels partly to escape family troubles and his disintegrating first marriage, what he saw and experienced as he cris-crossed the country contributed to his emergence as a social commentator.

He was irritated by Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” sung by Kate Smith, which seemed to be endlessly playing on the radio in the late 1930s. So irritated, in fact, that he wrote this song as a retort, at first sarcastically calling it “God Blessed America for Me” before renaming it “This Land Is Your Land.” Guthrie’s original words to the song included this verse:

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me.
The sign was painted, said ‘Private Property.’
But on the backside, it didn’t say nothing.
This land was made for you and me.

This verse was recorded by Moses Asch in 1944, but not released. In fact, Guthrie’s recorded version was more or less lost until Smithsonian archivist Jeff Place heard the acetate master during a 1997 transfer of the recording to a digital format. Still, it was sung at rallies, around campfires and in progressive schools. It was these populist lyrics that had appealed to the political Left in America.

Radical Verses

Guthrie’s folk-singing son, Arlo Guthrie, and Pete Seeger have both made a point of singing the more radical verses to “This Land Is Your Land,” also reviving another verse that Guthrie wrote but never officially recorded. This verse was scribbled on a sheet of loose-leaf paper now in the possession of daughter Nora’s Woody Guthrie Archives.

One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple,
by the relief office I saw my people.
As they stood hungry,
I stood there wondering if God blessed America for me.

Nora Guthrie says she has an idea why these words may not have been recorded at the 1944 session — and why the ‘private property’ verse that was recorded was not issued. “This is the early ’50s, and [U.S. Sen. Joseph] McCarthy’s out there, and it was considered dangerous in many ways to record this kind of material,” she says.

“If my dad had done the recording, I don’t think it would have meant anything to him if he was imprisoned, actually,” she says. “He was quite used to living without and having nights in prison and things like that. Like most of the things, if we’re talking about my dad, it gets very complex here. So I think, you know, The Weavers originally just recorded the first three verses — which, in one way, was very, very helpful to my dad, because we had no money. So thank God that they recorded something, and our family was able to get some royalties from that.”

Later in his life, Guthrie lost his ability to play guitar and sing, but he continued to write and inspire a younger generation of performers. Bob Dylan and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bragg and the band Wilco — these are just some of the musicians who have followed in the footsteps of Woody Guthrie. When Guthrie recorded “This Land Is Your Land,” he ended with this verse:

When the sun comes shining, then I was strolling,
With the wheat fields waving, the dust clouds rolling,
The voice come a-chanting, and the fog was lifting.
This land was made for you and me.

 

 

 

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