Archive for the Music Category

Dylan drops 17-minute ballad about JFK assassination

Posted in History, Music, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2020 by macmystery

Nine Inch Nails pulled off a surprise album drop Thursday. If you’re into them, that’s a pretty big deal.

To me, this was much bigger news. Bob Dylan released his first original work in 8 years on Friday, a sparse, rambling 17-minute ballad about the JFK assassination entitled “Murder Most Foul.”

It may not be what your in to, but I’d suggest listening at lease once.

Album of the Day (March 22, 2020) — Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2020 by macmystery
KennyRogersGreatestHits

Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits (1980)

With the bars closed for the COVID-19 novel coronavirus outbreak and Kenny Rogers passing away Friday night at age 81, I figured it was a good a time as any to spend a lot of time writing and listening to music. One result is my album of the day.

I might do one of these everyday. I might not. Who knows?

Bu the album for today … I guess it’s Sunday, March 22 … is Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits.

Released on Sept. 23, 1980 (Bruce Springsteen’s birthday), this Liberty release is the top-selling Country greatest hits compilation of all-time, edging Garth Brooks’ The Hits with 22 million records sold.

The first of numerous Rogers’ greatest hits packages, this one actually contained three new tracks on the 12-track album.

A song-by-song look at Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits:

1. The Gambler – This is the first hit song ever written by Don Schlitz, penned in 1976 when he was 23. That’s saying something. Initially, he could get no one to record it, so he released it as a single himself. It reached No. 65 on the charts. Shel Silverstein loved the song, convincing Bobby Bare to record it. Johnny Cash recorded it, as well. But it wasn’t until it was recorded by Rogers in 1978 that it had an impact. Released on the album of the same name, it became the first of 24 No. 1 country songs penned by Schlitz. Other Schlitz classics include 40-Hour Week (Alabama), When You Say Nothing At All (Keith Whitley, Alison Krauss), On The Other Hand (Randy Travis) and Forever And Ever Amen (Randy Travis). Of course, the song sparked the successful series of “The Gambler” TV movies starring Rogers and launching his acting career.

2. Lady – One of three songs recorded specifically for this album, it’s the biggest solo hit of Rogers’ career. Lionel Richie, then of the Commodores, wrote the song specifically for Rogers. It would spend six straight weeks at No. 1 in the fall/winter of 1980. It was only knocked out of the top spot the final week of December by John Lennon’s Just Like Starting Over. Lennon had been shot and killed Dec. 8 in front of The Dakota apartment building in New York City. Lady was No. 3 on the Billboard chart for the year and No. 10 for the decade of the 1980s. It is No. 60 on Billboard’s All-Time Hot 100 chart.

3. Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer w/Kim Carnes – Carnes, like Rogers, was an alum of folk group The New Christy Minstrels.

4. Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town w/The First Edition – A story song about an impotent, disabled Vietnam veteran who endures his wife leaving home every night to meet other men in town. Written by Mel Tillis.

5. She Believes in Me – Having been truly in love in my life and having lost, this song, for whatever reason resonates with me. It doesn’t matter who you are, in some fashion, to have a relationship, a love that lasts, you are sacrificing somehow. You are somehow settling, somehow disappointed, even those who think they aren’t. And it’s when you and your partner are happy making the sacrifices that you make for each other that something special can happen.

6. Coward of the County – Another story song, this one has not held up for me. I still find myself singing along, but the basic theme of the story is Tommy’s love Becky is raped by the Gatlin boys … and there were three of them. Tommy proves he’s a man by mustering up the courage to single-handedly whip the Gatlin Boys, thus making up for his life of being a “coward.” Except my problem is, what the hell does that do for Becky? She’s still violated and hurt and angry … and giving them a good ass-beating solves none of that. Maybe the world has grown up a little since this song came out.

7. Lucille – Rogers’ first solo country hit from 1977, it reached No. 1 on the Country charts and No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

8. You Decorated My Life

9. Reuben James w/The First Edition – Rogers would say he liked two kinds of songs, love songs and story songs that had social relevance. This is the latter. From Rogers’ First Edition days, he sings of an old black sharecropper, Reuben James, who stepped up and raised the white son of the “gossip of Madison County” who died in childbirth. The song’s narrator is obviously the now-adult child and is singing James’ praises.

10. Love the World Away – The second of three new releases on this album, this song was also released on the hugely popular Urban Cowboy soundtrack. It was a top-5 tune on the country charts and a top-20 song on the pop charts.

11. Every Time Two Fools Collide w/Dottie West – one of a handful of highly successful duets with country darling Dottie West.

12. Long Arm of the Law – The third new release on the album, though not a chart hit, this song remains popular with Rogers fans.

Rakim, minus Eric B., of course, but not all by himself

Posted in Journalism, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 26, 2018 by macmystery

https://www.npr.org/templates/event/embeddedVideo.php?storyId=622595890&mediaId=622597776

While procrastinating late Monday night, as I so often do when I have a viable writing topic, I found myself listening to music.

It’s not an uncommon activity in my life. A large percentage of my disposable income (and a lot that should have never been disposable) has been spent on music, not to mention my time, both disposable and indisposable, as well. Concerts, records, tapes, CDs, road trips.

But I’ll admit that over the last few years of my marriage, which LEGALLY ended in 2016, aside from time spent in the car, music had all but disappeared from my life. And maybe that should have been a sign. But that’s another story for another day.

Anyway, as I said, I was listening to music, something I do again, typically late at night. A strange mix … Dierks Bentley, the Cowboy Junkies, Henry Mancini, Metallica and Dave Brubeck. (I’ll admit, there was 10 minutes of George Carlin mixed in there, as well.)

I was listening to this strange mix as I put off writing something more substantial than my Facebook post from earlier Monday evening about former two-time National League Most Valuable Player and longtime Atlanta Braves standout Dale Murphy. Ironically, I’m still going to write that post, but it’ll be another day now, at least.

That’s because, while perusing Facebook, I came upon the New York Times story (How an Affair Between a Reporter and a Security Aide Has Rattled Washington Media) about the relationship between its reporter Ali Watkins and a man who handled security for many years for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

So, of course I was going to write about that. Being a former journalist — being a former journalist is like being a former Marine … there’s no such thing — the story presents some interesting and frustrating dilemmas during a time when the press is badly needed, as well as badly maligned.

And then Rakim happened.

Someone I know from high school, a lifetime ago, had shared the latest installment of National Public Radio’s Tiny Desk Concert. Featured for June 25, 2018 was Rakim, initially, at least, of Eric B. & Rakim fame.

I’ll admit it. Aside from straight up classical music, the least represented major genre in my music collection is rap. Or hip-hop, if you will. Old school Run D.M.C., some Sir Mix-A-Lot, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar … but not much else. A lot of it doesn’t interest me. A lot of it I respect but simply don’t enjoy.

I have read a lot about Rakim. But I haven’t listened a lot to Rakim.

But I did Monday night.

And I was treated to 9 minutes and 37 seconds of brilliance that maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for 30 years ago, when Eric B. and Rakim were on top of their game. Kind of the same way I have a different appreciation for jazz now than I did as a young man.

And in a lot of ways, comparatively, Rakim’s style is jazz, at least vocally. His lyrics and voice are his instrument, and while aggressive, he is not necessarily loud and not in a hurry. Much as Willie Nelson brought jazz phrasing and guitar to his otherwise solid country gold lyrics, Rakim in some ways does the same thing.

It’s evident with the live band, rather than a DJ, backing him in the small NPR studio. The musicians are tight and work infectious grooves through three songs, allowing Rakim’s lyrics to shine as his instrument.

I was impressed. I had a moment, really. Usually, though, it’s when I hear something new that blows me away. I am admittedly not used to, at this point in my life, hearing songs more than two decades old, performed by the original artists, that pique my interest so completely.

My son, Dylan, possibly in the wrong place at the wrong time, can attest. He walked in the room in a moment of boredom after his computer crashed, expecting to wander in and wander out.

Instead he was detained by me and forced to surrender 9:37 of his evening, too, to sit and watch this Tiny Desk Concert. Not surprisingly, to me, he found himself, like I did, enjoying the video, foot tapping and hands popping.

The final two songs of Rakim’s three-song set, were “Paid In Full” and “Know The Ledge,” … classics and songs I will now seek out. But they followed “King’s Paradise,” a song released a few days ago and featured in Season 2 of Marvel’s Luke Cage on Netflix.

“King’s Paradise” is Rakim’s first new release in a decade. Suddenly, seemingly, I’m hoping it’s not his last.

The words matter, Donald …

Posted in Humor, Music, Politics, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 6, 2018 by macmystery

Just for Donald Trump, since he doesn’t seem to come close to knowing them, here are the lyrics for Irving Berlin’s song God Bless America:

God bless America, land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam,
God bless America,
My home sweet home.

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free.
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer:

God bless America, land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam,
God bless America,
My home sweet home.
God bless America,
My home sweet home.

It would seem as though Mr. USA Patriotism would have this down by now.

Missing the Big Man

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2011 by macmystery

Tramps like us …

It’s been almost three weeks since I heard the news.

I was working on the sports desk on that Saturday night, when Rob, a guy I’ve worked with for sometime who knew of my affinity for all things Bruce Springsteen, said, “I’m sure you’re all over this, but in case you haven’t seen it, Clarence Clemons died.”

Continue reading

Bob Marley, 1945-1981

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , on May 12, 2011 by macmystery

In remembrance of the death of Bob Marley 30 years ago (May 11, 1981), here’s a version of “No Woman, No Cry” recorded July 21, 1979 in at Harvard Stadium in Boston, Mass.

The Promise delivered

Posted in Music with tags , , , on November 6, 2010 by macmystery

Pitchfork.com posted a complete in-studio film and recording of Bruce Springsteen’s long-unreleased classic “The Promise” on Friday. It’s awesome.

I can’t wait for the box set on Nov. 16.

Enjoy.