While driving in your car, especially here in America, we have the
luxury of a radio, sometimes if a newer car, Syrius. I used to have
this feature and would program my ride somewhere with such fun
topics as “Coffee Shop” tunes or “Old Rock and Roll.” I was listening
to Casey Kasem’s “America’s Top 40” program on the radio. Rest in
peace, you good man! (Casey Kasem died in June, 2014, at age 82 of
sepsis.) I was struck by this comment, paraphrased since my mind is
not a recorder nor a computer:
“More than 23,000 songs were written and sung during the seventies
in the United States, only 370 were major grossing songs, (making
Top Ten lists). In this time period, only TWO were number one hits
written by a duo of song-writers.
I will come back, from the commercial to tell you who they were. . .”
Of course, I tried to memorize this comment, was an a red light and
jotted down the two numbers and waited ‘with bated breath’ for the
answer. Why the excitement in this upcoming response? You may not
know me well, but music is a special part of my life and the 70’s were
my stomping grounds, where music laid its foundation and made a
huge impact on my life. I was in band from 4th grade on, played in
three bands in high school, marching band, symphonic band, pep
band for the basketball team and homecoming pep rallies, along with
the stepping stone to symphonic band: concert band. I loved the way
current songs on the radio made their way into our performances,
along with learning the meaning of different musical terms and the
way the music would build and pull on my heartstrings and soul,
The two songs were “Loco-Motion” and “Go Away, Little Girl”
whose authors were Carole King and Gerry Goffin.
The first song has such an incredible legacy, along with being a
fun song. It is one of the only songs of all time, which has been
number one in three different decades sung by three different
styles or cultures. What a landmark song!
1. Little Eva, who is African American, sang the song, “Loco-Motion”
in 1962. This helped her career in singing really soar.
2. Grand Funk Railroad, (rock and roll, Caucasian band), sang it
in 1974 and put their own ‘brand’ on the song, “Loco-Motion.”
3. The Austrailan singer, Kylie Minogue, made this song go
international with her 1988 rendition.
Way to go, Carole King and Gerry Goffin for making this song
a catchy tune that went across generations and cultures.
The second song, this tremendous duo wrote, “Go Away, Little
Girl” was one of my favorites in my teenaged years. When I had
a crush on a senior in high school, Todd D. of Science Club and
marching band “fame,” I pictured Todd singing this to me, along
with meeting me by the Bay High Rockets’ goal posts in five years
after I graduated from high school. (I was only a mere freshman
when I had this ‘crush.’)
1. “Go Away, Little Girl” was first sung by Bobby Vee in ’62. Soon
to be followed and reaching higher sales, by Steve Lawrence later
the same year, in 1962. This made the Popular Top 20 list.
2. The Happenings sang and got this song into the top selling
songs in 1966. This was also a popular song with my friends.
3. The most popular version and more often played song, “Go Away
Little Girl” is sung by Donnie Osmond, 1971.
While listening to Casey Kasem, another time, I wrote down this
short note on a scrap of paper last Autumn.
The “most popular song played at funerals” is Frank Sinatra’s
popular top 10 song, “My Way.” I can imagine a lot of people who
would embrace this in their different life styles and endeavors but
had no idea that this was so beloved.
It would take years to ‘replace’ this song but a new hit being played
at funerals is from the British comedy movie, “Life of Brian.” Who
could imagine choosing a song from this movie? Well, I can tell
you one: my brother Randy still roars in laughter while watching
this Monty Python spoof movie, once a year with my family. I am
surprised though at this musical choice:
“Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” by Eric Idle of Monty
Python wrote this as a reaction to “Give a Little Whistle” from
the Disney franchise of upbeat movies, “Pinocchio.”
I am sure Eric is laughing out loud should he find out how popular
this song has become over the years. Somehow, I thought a more
popular song would be, “Taps” or “Amazing Grace.”
Frankly, I feel this is refreshing and would cheer me up to know
I don’t have to listen to “Candle in the Wind,” at Randy’s memorial
service, should I outlive him. This may irreverent comment, but
believe me, Randy would be amused at this song being played,
so ‘Always Look at the Bright Side of Life,” will be on the playlist,
brother. Oh, that reminds me, I will have to add one of the songs
from his other ‘favorite’ movie, “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”
MORE MUSICAL NOTES:
The recent death of the Gospel legend, Andrae Crouch, requires a
respectful “note” and pause. At age 72, Andrae had influenced many
listeners with his heartfelt lyrics and soulful songs. Here are a few
which you may wish to check out:
“Let the Church Say Amen.”
“Soon and Very Soon.”
“Take Me Back.”
Along with being what many considered a fine singer and composer,
Andrae helped influence three legendary musicians. Although, he
may not have helped increase each of their popularity levels; he
undoubtedly changed their lives. This was the kind of man Andrae
Crouch was. The tributes and interviews all held warm memories
and kind thoughts of this man.
Michael Jackson was helped with his own song, “The Man in the
Mirror,” by Andrae Crouch’s adjusting its musical arrangement.
Elton John and Madonna received positive influences upon their
careers, by Gospel leader, Andrae Crouch.
The James Band was one of the alternative rock groups I sometimes
listened to in the 80’s. Do you have any memories of this different band?
Their roots came from Manchester, England. They took breaks in their
recording and individual careers. Some time off, as you may remember.
The first’break’ was a rather long one, after being popular in the 80’s
and leaving the musical scene in 2001; they got back together in 2007.
Then, another 7 year time span ensued, until last year (2014).
While the members followed their individual pursuits, the James Band
still played on the alternative rock scene on the radio, though.
Their sales over the years amount to over $25 million.
Imagine my surprise and pleasure to say the James Band are back
on the road and had a new album come out in June, 2014 titled,
“Le Petit Mort” including a popular new song, “Moving On.” This
is a solemn, questioning song, one which shows how aging and time
passing influences how you choose your path. James Band has
changed their sound and song choices. The wisdom found while
growing older is reflected here in their music. The slow pace rises
and slowly builds into a crescendo, with trumpets and guitars
playing. Here are a few snippets of the lyrics I heard of this “new”
song, “Moving On,”
“Leave a little light on. . .”
“Will we recognize our friends when this cycle ends?”
“Will it start again?”
There are moments where time is like seeds being planted,
dreams taken for granted.
Welcome back, James Band!
Mick Jones poured out his long and winding road life’s path,
in an interview on the 12/28/14 CBS Sunday Morning show.
Mick’s path is one which encompasses being part of a British
“Spooky Tooth” band, playing with “C’est La Vie” and a French
man named Holliday. Mick Jones said Holliday forgives his
leaving the group to find his own way. Holliday was a “French
Elvis,” according to Jones. Then, Jones proceeded to get to the
‘meat’ of his musical career with “Foreigner.” Not being one
who studies musicians’ lives as they are progressing, I was very
interested in how Jone’s compelling journey went. I always liked
Foreigner’s songs, “Feels Like the First Time,” “Head Games,”
and “I’ve Been Waiting for a Girl Like You.” When the group
‘went soft’ in one of the band member’s eyes, (or ears)- they parted
ways and the band split up back in 2003.
Mick Jones and Ian McDonald were inducted into the Songwriters’
Hall of Fame, June, 2013, with Elton John presenting them this
prestigious award. They have never made it into the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame.
Foreigner was unique in its combination of three British and three
American band musicians and singers joining forces. The band’s
3 Brits were Mick Jones, Ian McDonald and Dennis Elliot, while
the 3 Americans were Lou Gramm, Al Greenwood and Ed Gagliardi.
Wow, this has been 12 years since then! Their music is still daily
‘in my ears’ on the radio. Foreigner is a group which has stood the
‘test of time,’ I believe. Only one member of the original band,
has passed away. Ed Gagliardi died in May, 2014.
All have not worked together since 1989. They have had a few varied
combinations of the players.
In 2013, Mick Jones, Ian McDonald and Lou Gramm renewed their
ties and are working on a new collaboration. They were part of the
Summer of 2013 Tour, including Eagles’ Don Felder playing with
Foreigner and the band Styx.
What are some “musical notes” you have been listening to?
What musician or group do you feel has stayed the most ‘current’ ?