It Can’t Hurt

If I ever make it up to heaven after I die, one person that I expect to meet is my sister, although she is still alive yet.  My sister has very strong faith and she recites the Rosary three times every day and I guess it is like second nature to her, but it is complicated to explain.  For those of you that are not Catholic, the meditative prayers that are recited are counted on rosary beads are collectively this is known as the rosary.  The purpose of the Rosary is to help keep in memory certain principal events or mysteries in history.  The string of beads has the crucifix fixed at the end and this is where your prayers start.  You need to say fifty-three Hail Mary’s, six Our Father’s, the Apostles Creed and the Glory Be, but it is much more complicated than that.

The prayers are broken up into decades, where you are supposed to contemplate mysteries and during the recitation of each set, thought is given to one of the Mysteries of the Rosary, which recall events in the lives of Jesus and of Mary.  Catholics love the Virgin Mary a lot, and a decade is ten beads in a row where we say the Hail Mary and we ask for her help.  Once you get past the initial prayers, Rosary beads are arranged in five sets of 10 beads, interrupted by a bead on where you say an Our Father.

Here is where it gets complicated, depending on what day of the week it is, you will need to reflect on a different Mystery.  The Mysteries of the Rosary are meditations on episodes in the life and death of Jesus from the Annunciation to the Ascension and beyond.  These are traditionally grouped by fives corresponding to the five decades and each group is a themed set.  There are four different sets, those being the Joyful (or Joyous) Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries, and the Glorious Mysteries.  Each one of these Mysteries consists of five parts which are associated with the decades.  I told you that this was complicated!

The Joyful Mysteries are broken down into The Annunciation, The Visitation, The Birth of Our Lord, The Presentation, and The Finding in the Temple.  The Luminous Mysteries are made up of Baptism of Jesus Christ, Christ Reveals Himself at Cana, Proclamation of the Kingdom and Call to Conversion, The Transfiguration, and Institution of the Eucharist.  The Sorrowful Mysteries contain The Agony in the Garden, The Scourging, The Crowning with Thorns, The Carrying of the Cross, and The Crucifixion.  The Glorious Mysteries involve The Resurrection, The Ascension, The Coming of the Holy Spirit, The Assumption of Our Lady, and The Coronation of Our Lady.  The Joyful Mysteries are said on Monday and Saturday, while the Sorrowful Mysteries occur on Tuesday and Friday, the Glorious Mysteries take place on Wednesday and Sunday and the Luminous Mysteries only happen on Thursday.

Whatever life has thrown at you, if you have God in your life, you will never be alone.  You can pray for your family or for guidance in your own life, or maybe you could use prayer as a way to find peace.  Prayers may go unanswered, but it never hurts to ask God for help.  Praying should be like opening your heart to a friend.  If you have never prayed before, it is never too late to start.

Passover started yesterday on Wednesday, April 8 and it will continue till Thursday, April 16 this year.  Passover was the last plague issued on Egypt, when Moses asked the Pharaoh to let his people go and the Pharaoh wanted to keep all of his slaves.  The killing of the first-born sons became too much and the Pharaoh said get the hell out of my country, but then he changed his mind.  Many people today are praying that this Covid-19 pandemic will pass over them and not harm any of there loved ones.

Celine Dion sang a duet with Andrea Bocelli in a song titled ‘The Prayer’, which is a prayer for guidance, hope and safety in a world that lacks these things.  Though the singers do not directly mention who they’re saying their prayers to, it is likely they are saying it to God since mere humans cannot grant their wish.  They ask God to watch over them and give them wisdom for their daily lives.  They also ask Him to lead them to a place that is free of harm, they request to find light which also signifies finding direction in a confusingly dark world.  They wish for all of the violence, pain and suffering in this world to cease, so that people will love each other more and then they can coexist peacefully together.

‘The Prayer’ was written by David Foster, Tony Renis, Carole Sager and Alberto Testa and it was first released as part of the soundtrack album of the 1998 animated film Quest for Camelot.  It appeared on both Dion and Bocelli’s albums.  It wasn’t originally a duet between Dion and Bocelli, as both Bocelli and Dion had initially recorded solo versions of it.  Later on, they combined forces to record the powerful duet we have all come to love.  In 1998, it won the prestigious Golden Globe Award in the “Best Original Song” category.  It was later nominated for both a Grammy and Academy Award.  I couldn’t get a good video of the Dion and Bocelli duet, so I went with the Celine Dion and Josh Groban duet.

Can we touch the soul of heaven
Can we unite a sacred lesson
Every child creates a skylight of beauty
Can you hear cathedrals falling
All the universe is calling
Cry a single cello from your heart
Since the world has lost her way
Loneliness journey, endlessly
Yet the promised chance remains
Gift of what could be
So let the children remember the sun
Let them dance, let them soar
For their lives have begun
Let the children engender the rain
As the river runs through fields
Forever subsiding their pain
Prayer
Every voice along the shoreline
Standing still within time
Spinnin’ unresolved
Walking as each season passes
Through wonderland, through walking glasses
A secret garden shines, beckons you
Gentle flower don’t fade away
Sweet innocence still harbors thee
In the faint of golden dreams
Where one love lives eternally
Let the children remember the sun
Let them dance, let them soar
For their lives have begun
Let the children engender the rain
As the river runs through fields
Forever subsiding their pain
Prayer, prayer
Bless the children for they are the light
They are the truth of spirit in flight
Yes the children engender the rain
As the river runs through life
Healing their pain
If you could trust with your heart one more time
Sweet angel conceived
You have forever and always believed,
Prayer
Prayer, oh, prayer

Written for Paula’s Thursday Inspiration 51 where this week’s theme is prayer.

H is for Highwaymen

The Highwaymen were an American country music supergroup, composed of four of country music’s biggest artists, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson who pioneered the outlaw country folk music.  Johnny Cash died on September 12, 2003 at the age of 71, Waylon Jennings died on February 13, 2002 at the age of 64, Willie Nelson is still alive at the age of 86 and Kris Kristofferson is 83.

There was a collegiate folk group named The Highwaymen fraternity brothers who originated at Wesleyan University and they had a Billboard #1 hit in 1961 with ‘Michael Row the Boat Ashore’, a version of the African-American spiritual, folk work song that predates the Civil War, and another Top 20 hit in 1962 with ‘Cotton Fields’ which was written by American blues musician Huddie Ledbetter.  ‘Michael Row the Boat Ashore’ sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold record.  In 1990, the members of the original group sued country music’s Highwaymen, made up of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson over their use of the name, which was inspired by a Jimmy Webb ballad they had recorded in 1977, which Webb released on his sixth album El Mirage.

The Highwaymen vs. the Highwaymen was settled in court, by a suggestion that Jennings came up with.  The original Highwaymen still perform occasionally and they continue to earn royalties from their songs through oldies reissues, so Jennings suggested that they give the original group the opening slot at one of the new group’s concerts, giving them a payday and an opportunity to promote their oldies ventures and everyone thought that was a good idea.

American singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb wrote the song ‘Highwayman’ about a soul with incarnations in four different places in time and history.  This soul is a highwayman, a sailor, a construction worker on the Hoover Dam, and finally as a captain of a starship.  The song was influenced by the real-life hanged highwayman Jonathan Wild, a London underworld figure who operated on both sides of the law, posing as a public-spirited crimefighter.  The dam builder verse alludes to the deaths of over one hundred men during the construction of Hoover Dam near Boulder City, Nevada, although none of those deaths resulted in a person being encased in concrete.

The idea for the group Highwaymen came about in 1984 when Cash wrangled Nelson, Kristofferson and Jennings to film his Christmas special in Montreux, Switzerland.  Cash, Jennings, Kristofferson, and Nelson opened this show with ‘On the Road Again’, Jessi Colter, Waylon’s wife and Jennings performed ‘Silent Night’, and Kristofferson did ‘Good Morning, John’.  Anita Carter a member of the Carter family, John Carter Cash the only child of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, June Carter Cash, and Connie Nelson, Willie’s wife also appeared on this Christmas special.  Inspired by the camaraderie in the hotel, where they’d jam after long days on the set, the artists returned to the States and entered the studio with producer Chips Moman, eventually taking Webb’s song ‘Highwayman’ as both their name and the title of the album.

Waylon Jennings first met Johnny Cash in the mid-sixties when they roomed together briefly renting an apartment in Nashville, a set-up Jennings likened to the original Odd Couple, where Waylon was supposed to clean up and John was the one doing the cooking.  Cash was in love with June Carter at the time, but could not move in with her because her divorce was not final, so he rented a one-bedroom apartment in Madison which is just north of Nashville, so he could be close to her.  In the mid-eighties, the Cash’s had a home called “Cinnamon Hill” on the Caribbean island of Jamaica, which Waylon and his wife Jessi often visited.  Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings released the country album Heroes together in 1986.

Waylon was the outlaw rebel/good ol’ boy with the rock‘n’roll attitude.  Willie was the wise pot-smoking hippie guru.  Kris was a Rhodes scholar and movie star who had scored several hits on the pop charts.  John had seemingly been everywhere and done everything.  Waylon probably had the best singing voice in the group.  Willie was probably the best overall musician.  Kris was undoubtedly the best songwriter and John was simply a living legend whom everybody knew.  The four musicians starred in one movie together, the 1986 film Stagecoach, which was a remake of the classic 1939 film Stagecoach that starred John Wayne.  Kris Kristofferson is the Ringo Kid, Willie Nelson portrays famous gunslinger and dentist Doc Holliday, Johnny Cash portrays Marshal Curly Wilcox and Waylon Jennings plays the gambler, Hatfield.

The group released three studio albums between 1985 and 1995 Highwayman (1985), Highwayman 2 (1990), and The Road Goes On Forever (1995) along with seven singles.  When the Highwaymen performed concerts, they often mixed in their solo material with that of the group on stage.  All four men had been friends for decades prior to their musical collaboration, and their friendships and occasional musical partnerships continued after the supergroup disbanded.

Although their album was called Highwayman, the group didn’t officially call themselves by that name for this record, as they cited their individual names on the disc.  Highwayman was the group’s first and most successful album.  This album featured 10 cover songs and two of these were covers of Johnny Cash songs.  The single ‘Highwayman’ became a #1 country hit, it held on the Billboard charts for 20 weeks and went on to become a Top 5 song of the entire year.  Their remake of Guy Clark’s ‘Desperados Waiting for a Train’ reached the Top 20.  Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson sang while Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings both sang and played guitars.  Additional musicians included J. R. Cobb and Reggie Young who played guitars, Marty Stuart played guitar and mandolin and Chips Moman played guitars and sang background vocals.  Both Mike Leech and Jimmy Tittle played bass guitar and Bobby Wood and Bobby Emmons played keyboards and Paul Davis played keyboards and sang background vocals.  Gene Chrisman played drums, Mickey Raphael played harmonica and Johnny Rodriguez sang background vocals.

They followed it up with Highwaymen 2 in 1990 and this album spent 40 weeks on the country chart, peaking at number 4.  This album contained 6 songs written by members of the group and four were covers.  The Lee Clayton-penned song ‘Silver Stallion’ was the first single and it made the country Top 40.  The album was nominated for a Grammy for “Best Country Vocal Collaboration”.

In 1995 they released their third and final studio album The Road Goes on Forever which peaked at #42 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums chart.  The Highwaymen hired Don Was to produce this album and he had previously worked with every member of the group except Johnny Cash, so he became the natural choice.  This album has great material, from standards like Dallas Frazier’s ‘True Love Travels on a Gravel Road’ to contemporary favorites by Steve Earle ‘The Devil’s Right Hand’ and Billy Joe Shaver ‘Live Forever’ which is a nice spiritual song to new cuts from all four members.  Robert Earl Keen wrote the title song ‘The Road Goes on Forever’, which tells the story of the ill-fated romantic adventures of a modern-day-Bonnie-and-Clyde duo named Sherry and Sonny.  It was not a bad album, but it seems like these guys were better on their own albums and maybe this was recorded as a contract obligation, because it seems to lack the passion that they put into their previous albums.  In 1975, The Allman Brothers Band released aa album titled The Road Goes On Forever.

G is for Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead have become a family to me, maybe more of a virtual family, but a family none the less.  The Grateful Dead have passed down stories through their songs and these stories are worth retelling as a long strange trip.  To me the Grateful Dead are eternal, their music transcends space and time and runs deep to the primal core of what it means to be a human being.  The group is not together any more, unless you consider remnants and spinoffs, once Jerry Garcia died in 1995, so sadly there is no more Grateful Dead.  I will always identify myself as being a Deadhead and I plan on writing some more posts on this group.  Most bands can be copied, but it is not easy for a band to mimic the Grateful Dead sound.

The Library of Congress chose to archive an entire show by The Grateful Dead, the concert was performed at Cornell University on 5/8/77.  In 1999, their album Workingman’s Dead was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and in 2007, they won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.  They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.  They released thirteen studio albums and nine contemporary live albums during their career, and more than 100 live recordings of their music have been released, but their only Top 10 hit was ‘Touch of Grey’, which peaked at number 9 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and reached number 1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in 1987.

Being called a Deadhead is not an insult, it simply means that you are a part of something greater, that being a large group of devoted fans who listen to the music of the Grateful Dead.  Deadheads are passionate, they trade tapes and they discuss the songs that were played at every show and they compile statistics showing how many times each song was played.  The Grateful Dead made albums, they released more than two dozen singles, and a number of videos, but they are best known as a touring band.  If you group all of their concerts together, they played to an estimated 25 million people over their career, which is more than any other band in history.  In 1998, The Guinness Book of World Records certified that the band had played the “most rock concerts ever performed” at the time being 2,318 live concerts.

The Grateful Dead set a record for attendance of a single band being the first group ever to have a 100,000-crowd concert, when they played at the Raceway Park, Englishtown, New Jersey on September 3, 1977.  There have been larger crowds at some Free Concerts, but this remains the largest ticketed concert in the United States to date and I was there.  I was also there when they also performed at Summer Jam at Watkins Glen in 1973 along with 2 other groups to an estimated 600,000 people.

The Grateful Dead formed in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1965 and they are considered one of the originators of jam band music.  They were exceptionally dedicated to performance perfection, musical originality and vast, fee-form jams.  The founding members were Jerry Garcia on guitar and vocals, Bob Weir on guitar and vocals, Phil Lesh on bass and vocals, Bill Kreutzmann on drums, and Ron “Pigpen” McKernan on organ, harmonica, percussion, and vocals.  Pigpen died in 1973, but the other four remained with the band for its entire 30-year history.  Second drummer Mickey Hart was also in the band for most of that time.  Others who were band members at different times were keyboardists Tom Constanten, Keith Godchaux, Brent Mydland, Vince Welnick, and Bruce Hornsby, and vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux.

Their first four keyboard players died untimely deaths and because of this, playing keyboard for the Grateful Dead has been called the most dangerous job in Rock and Roll.  Three of them died before they reached their 38th birthdays.  Ron “Pigpen” McKernan was a hard drinker, mostly whiskey and flavored fortified wine, he was never quite sober, even when he woke up in the morning, as most days he’d wake up drunk.  He was found dead in his apartment at age 27 on March 8, 1973, as the result of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage.  Keith was killed in a car accident at age 32 on July 23, 1980 after he left the Grateful Dead.  Godchaux and a friend drove from a toll plaza into the back of a flatbed truck and he died two days later from injuries sustained in the crash.

Brent Mydland died in his Lafayette, California home of an accidental drug overdose of heroin and speed on July 26, 1990, at the age of 37.  Vince Welnick was diagnosed first with throat cancer, then emphysema in 1995, although he beat the cancer, the emphysema was more persistent.  Welnick was described as a sensitive guy who was overcome by depression when Jerry Garcia died and he attempted suicide with pills on the tour bus.  After this, he was officially excluded from most GD reunion events, shunned by the group and the fans.  All he wanted to do was play with them, and they wouldn’t let him, and wouldn’t even speak to him.  Welnick sought psychiatric treatment and began taking antidepressants and he battled depression for 10 years.  He died by suicide at age 55 on June 2, 2006 after cutting his own throat in front of his wife.

Pigpen was heavily influenced by African-American music, particularly the blues, and he enjoyed listening to his father’s extensive collection of records and taught himself how to play harmonica and piano.  He played blues and was accepted as a regular in the black nightclubs of East Palo Alto in his early teens.  Phil started playing the violin at age 8 and he went on to study composition with the great Italian avant-garde composer Luciano Berio to augment his classical training.

Bill Kreutzmann’s fate as a drummer was sealed the day that he was kicked out of his sixth-grade band class by the teacher who told him, “Billy, you can’t keep a beat.”  This didn’t shut down his passion for playing drums, as drumming is what he was meant to do.  The thirteen-year-old hopped on his bike and headed for downtown Palo Alto in search of a drum teacher and he saw a sign on a music store that was offering $3 drum lessons, so Kreutzmann learned from Lee Anderson.  By 1964, Billy was playing in a band called The Legends, and that year he met Jerry Garcia when he was at Dana Morgan’s music store, where Jerry worked, when Billy’s dad sold Jerry an old banjo.  Mickey Hart played in marching bands both high school and military (Air Force) and he worked for his father at a drum shop.  He committed to percussion from the beginning and became a titled world-champion rudimental drummer from a family of drummers and studied Indian rhythmic intricacies with Zakir Hussein and Ali Akbar Khan.  Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart are together known as the “Rhythm Devils” due to their dual drumming.

Bob Weir was adopted by a rich California engineer, and as a kid, he spent a lot of his summers on a cattle ranch.  His undiagnosed dyslexia gave him trouble at school, so he was labeled a troublemaker and shipped off to boarding school, where he met future songwriting partner John Perry Barlow.  After being kicked out of the school, Weir returned to the Bay Area, where he bummed around the burgeoning folk scene and came into contact with Jorma Kaukonen, of the Jefferson Airplane who first taught him how to play guitar.

When Garcia was 15, his older brother Tiff, who years earlier had accidentally lopped off Jerry’s right-hand middle finger while the two were chopping wood, introduced him to early rock & roll and rhythm & blues music.  He asked his mother to get him an electric guitar for his upcoming birthday, but she got him an accordion, which drove him nuts, so she finally traded it in at a pawnshop, and Jerry got electric guitar and an amplifier.  By the early 1960s, Garcia was living in Palo Alto, Calif., hanging out and playing in the folk-music dubs around Stanford University.  He started working part time at Dana Morgan’s Music Store, where he met several of the musicians that would eventually dominate the San Francisco music scene.  In 1963, Garcia formed a jug band, Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions, which eventually evolved into the Warlocks and then they became the Grateful Dead.

In March 1967, the Grateful Dead released their eponymous debut album on Warner Brothers with David Hassinger an engineer who had worked with the Rolling Stones producing it.  At this time the group was still learning how to be a band and they weren’t that good yet.  The album was considered a big deal in San Francisco, but it did not get much airplay outside of the Bay Area.  The album peaked at 73 on Billboard’s Pop Albums chart.  In 2007, The Grateful Dead was included on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 40 essential albums from 1967.

The album contained 9 songs and two were originals, ‘The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)’ which is credited to the band and sung by Jerry Garcia and ‘Cream Puff War’ which was written and sung by Jerry.  Jerry was the lead singer on three other songs, ‘Cold Rain and Snow’ which was written by Obray Ramsey, ‘Sitting on Top of the World’ written by Lonnie Chatmon and Walter Vinson and ‘Morning Dew’ which was written by Bonnie Dobson and also credited to Tim Rose.  Jerry shared vocals with Bob Weir on ‘Viola lee Blues’ which was written by Noah Lewis.  Bob Weir sang lead vocals on two songs, ‘New, New Minglewood Blues’ another Noah Lewis tune and the Jesse fuller song ‘Beat It on down the Line’.  Pigpen sang ‘Good Morning Little Schoolgirl’ which was written by Sonny Boy Williamson.

Anthem of the Sun was their second album which was released in 1968 and it came much closer to capturing what set this band apart from other groups, their thrilling live shows.  This album featured a second drummer Micky Hart, a new lyricist Robert Hunter and the avant-garde keyboardist Tom Constanten who was a friend of Lesh and Garcia.  Hunter made his first lyrical contributions to the band with ‘Dark Star’, but this would not be recorded for another year yet.  He added words to the Lesh/Pigpen composition ‘Alligator’ on this album.  It was rated 87 in the US, but in 2003, the album ranked number 287 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Relations between the band and producer Dave Hassinger broke down on this album with the band exploring decidedly more experimental territory and Bob Weir looking for a “thick air” sound on ‘Born Cross Eyed’.  When Dave left, Dan Healy their sound man stepped in as his replacement.  This album became a way for the Dead to try out a lot of things, to see what things might work and might not and Jerry Garcia played lead guitar, acoustic guitar, kazoo, vibraslap, and sang, Mickey Hart played drums, orchestra bells, gong, chimes, crotales, prepared piano, finger cymbals, Bill Kreutzmann played drums, glockenspiel, gong, chimes, crotales, prepared piano, finger cymbals, Phil Lesh played bass guitar, trumpet, harpsichord, kazoo, piano, timpani, and sang vocals, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan played Hammond and Vox organs, celesta, claves, and sang, Bob Weir played rhythm guitar, 12-string guitar, acoustic guitar, kazoo, and sang, while Tom Constanten played prepared piano, piano, and electronic tape, so this tripped-out album was crammed with unusual accents.

This album only contained five songs, but they were all originals.  The album starts off with ‘That’s It for the Other One’, which is known simply as ‘The Other One’, and this song took the form of a dizzying suite divided into four separate parts, ‘Cryptical Envelopment’ (Garcia), ‘Quadlibet For Tender Feet’ (Grateful Dead), ‘The Faster We Go The Rounder We Get’ (Weir, Kreutzmann) and ‘We Leave The Castle’ (Constanten).  This song is a miracle of ingenuity that was put together by Garcia and Healy, by overlaying several concert performances and mixing them together.  They used a 1968 Valentine’s Day performance at San Francisco’s Carousel Ballroom as its core, and incorporated passages of the song recorded at shows at Lake Tahoe’s King’s Beach Bowl and the Shrine Auditorium in L.A.

The second song on this album is ‘New Potato Caboose’ which was written by Phil Lesh and Robert Petersen.  Petersen would later provide lyrics for three other Grateful Dead songs, ‘Unbroken Chain’ recorded for Mars Hotel, ‘Pride of Cucamonga’ also recorded for Mars Hotel and ‘Revolutionary Hamstrung Blues’ which was performed only once in 1986.  Petersen was part of the artistic community from which the Grateful Dead emerged.  He formed a friendship with Phil Lesh when they were both students at the College of San Mateo, and Lesh credited his mad beatnik buddy Petersen with providing him with a real bohemian education.  Petersen died in 1987.

In ‘New Potato Caboose’ Petersen paints a picture of a landscape, that was once green, but is now the color of bone with his lyrics, “Last leaf fallen, bare earth where green was, bone.” ‘New Potato Caboose’ came together over time, with Pigpen adding a celesta part to the intro, Jerry a melodic phrase for the verse, and Mickey a glockenspiel riff and a very important gong roll.  Bob sang lead on the song, since Phil wasn’t ready to try singing leads yet.  The second line, “Above Madonna, two eagles hang against a cloud”, could be a reference to a stained-glass panel of two eagles and a cloud set in a door in the Dead’s house in Haight Ashbury where they lived from 1965-1968.  710 Ashbury Street was a boarding house where band managers Rock Scully and Danny Rifkin first set up the band’s office, before the group moved in.

Aoxomoxoa was their third studio album released in 1969 and it was originally titled Earthquake Country.  Just as things seemed to be going so well, the American electronics company Ampex manufactured and released a new 16-track multitrack recording machine, and the Dead were so keen to try it out this new technology because it would double the number of tracks available to them, that they dumped all the songs that they had already recorded and spent the next eight months off-and-on, experimenting and re-recording all the music again from scratch.  The title Aoxomoxoa is a meaningless palindrome that was created by cover artist Rick Griffin and lyricist Robert Hunter.  All tracks on this album were written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, except for ‘St. Stephen’, which Phil Lesh also contributed to.  Aoxomoxoa was the first time the band would showcase acoustic arrangements (as on ‘Mountains of the Moon’, ‘Rosemary’, and ‘Dupree’s Diamond Blues’), which would become the focus of the next two studio albums.

The two albums Earthquake Country and Aoxomoxoa would have been very similar in the songs that they contained, as they both had ‘Saint Stephen’, ‘China Cat Sunflower’, ‘Mountains Of The Moon’, ‘Doin’ That Rag’, ‘What’s Become Of The Baby’ and ‘Cosmic Charlie’ on them.  Earthquake Country featured ‘Dark Star’, ‘The Eleven’, ‘Clementine’ and ‘The Barbed Wire Whipping Party’, whereas Aoxomoxoa included ‘Dupree’s Diamond Blues’ and ‘Rosemary’.  The album credits some additional musicians, John “Marmaduke” Dawson and David Nelson.  Marmaduke founded New Riders of the Purple Sage in 1969 with David Nelson and Jerry Garcia.  Peter Grant is also listed as supporting personnel and Jerry played in the bluegrass band High Country with Peter Grant who also played banjo on ‘Me and My Uncle’.  Three other names are listed, Debbie, Mouse and Wendy as additional musicians, and although it does not say what instruments they played, this is most likely Wendy Weir, the sister of Bob Weir, Stanley Mouse an American artist who created a lot of Dead posters and album covers and Debbie Eisenberg, who I know little about.  The Grateful Dead could literally play ‘Dark Star’ hours, divulging into walls of feedback, space jamming instrumental improvisation with drumming accompanied by the Robert Hunter lyrics where a star crashes, reason tatters, searchlights seek, the mirror shatters, a hand turns to a flower, and a mysterious lady disappears which are all meant to describe change.

Live/Dead was their next album which was a double album and as the title reflects this is a live album which was recorded over a series of concerts in early 1969 and released later the same year.  The album reached number 64, which was better than their previous studio albums, which didn’t sell as well.  They put more money into their previous albums than they got back in return and this one helped buy the group some time.  Their sound man Owsley “Bear” Stanley, was able to capture the band at one of its peak periods and on its home base.

Two of the seven songs were recorded at the Avalon Ballroom on January 26, 1969, and the others were recorded at the Fillmore West on February 27 and March 2, 1969.  Two songs were covers ‘Turn On Your Love Light’, which was written by Deadric Malone and Joseph Scott and ‘Death Don’t Have No Mercy’ which was written by Reverend Gary Davis.  One song ‘And We Bid You Goodnight’ is listed as traditional and the rest are originals.  In 2003, the album was ranked number 244 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and it went to 247 on a 2012 revised list.  ‘Dark Star’ takes up the first side of this album, and it was initially released as a single in 1968, backed with ‘Born Cross-Eyed’ and it was included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list and was ranked at number 57 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.

‘Turn On Your Love Light’ is sung by Ron McKernan and the fifteen minute rendition takes up side three of this album and when the Grateful Dead performed this at the 1969 Woodstock Festival, it lasted more than 45 minutes.  This is a cover of a 1961 singe by Bobby “Blue” Bland but the Dead made it their own by pushing and pulling on this song until it became something else entirely.  Janis Joplin sat-in with the group on at least two occasions, June 7, 1969 at the Fillmore West and again on July 16, 1970 at the Euphoria Ballroom in San Rafael, California.  In both instances she helped Pigpen sing ‘Turn On Your Lovelight’.  Joplin had a brief romance with founding Grateful Dead member Ron “Pigpen” McKernan and she was friendly with the other members of the band as she lived nearby.  This became Pigpen’s signature song, as this let him express his anguish about having his heart broken, as he needs this loving so bad that he gets down on his knees to beg his baby to come back into his life.

The title of Workingman’s Dead was coined by Jerry Garcia when describing the new sound of the band.  Well, the first days are the hardest days.  Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia met when they were teenagers, being just one year apart in age and they formed a bond partly through the shared experience of losing a father, Garcia through death, Hunter through divorce.  Jerry asked Robert if he could write more songs that drew listeners in, so their fans could sing along with the group and Robert came through on their fourth studio album from 1970 Workingman’s Dead, as this changed the Grateful Dead forever, because they focused on songs instead of jams.

They shifted to mostly acoustic material which brought their harmonies to the forefront and also put a spotlight on Robert Hunter’s lyrics for the first time.  This album felt almost like the work of a completely different band, because they took a radical stylistic shift away from psychedelic music to songs that had a warm and intimate acoustic glow and this set the band on a course that would eventually make it one of the most popular acts America ever produced, with a devoted fan base second to none.  After spending years out on the fringe, the Dead finally had some success. and Workingman’s Dead allowed them to enter the rock mainstream.

In March 1969, Garcia bought a Zane Beck pedal-steel guitar at a music store in Colorado.  In the summer of 1969, Stephen Stills was living on Mickey Hart’s ranch in Novato, as they both had a love for horses and this was the year that Crosby, Stills & Nash got very popular because of their trademark harmonies.  Musical bonds formed and Stills heard that Jerry had just started playing pedal-steel guitar and Crosby suggested that Stills approach Garcia about playing this new instrument on ‘Teach Your Children’ for their new CSNY album Déjà Vu.  This kicked off a period of close musical and personal relationships between various members of the two bands and Stills always remained close with Hart, and Garcia enjoyed jamming with Crosby.  The Dead heard CSNY sing together many times, and that something rubbed off on them and they credited this for sharpening up their vocal sound, as they learned how to stack vocals.

Hunter often typed lyrics day and night and fed them to Garcia, who would quickly set them to music, sometimes within hours of their delivery and many of these songs were used for the Workingman’s Dead album.  Before the album was released, the Dead were playing ‘Dire Wolf’, ‘Casey Jones’ and ‘High Time’ at their concerts and then Pigpen began singing ‘Easy Wind’.  The album reached No. 27, the band’s highest showing at the time.  It was also their first million selling LP. ‘Uncle John’s Band’ was pulled as a single, and it made it to No. 69.  The Grateful Dead started out the 1970s with the infamous Drug Bust in New Orleans, that took place early in the morning of Jan. 31, 1970, and led to them writing the song ‘Truckin’’ that appeared on their next album American Beauty.

All of the songs on Workingman’s Dead were written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, except ‘Easy Wind’ which was a sole Hunter effort and ‘Cumberland Blues’ where Lesh collaborated with Garcia and Hunter.  David Nelson played acoustic guitar on ‘Cumberland Blues’.  Two of their songs on this album ‘Dire Wolf’ and ‘Black Peter’ both speak about death, and the 18-year-old African American Meredith Hunter was killed at the 1969 Altamont Free Concert along with the Tate-LaBianca murders of six people on August 9–10, 1969 done by the Manson Family were still fresh in everybody’s minds at this time.

There are only eight songs on this album which was influenced by the Bakersfield’s outlaw country sound, sort of like a honky-tonk take on the country music performed by Buck Owens or Merle Haggard from the ‘50s.  Robert Hunter and the Dead started writing shorter, twangier songs with simpler, more direct lyrics that were inspired by listening to The Band’s first two albums.  ‘New Speedway Boogie’ was written as a response to the Altamont concert tragedy and ‘Casey Jones’ became an unprecedented radio hit that gained the Dead more college-aged fans nationwide and it may be the best-known song done by the Grateful Dead.

Sadly, I have to end this post here, as it is already way too long and I probably lost most of my readers two thousand words ago.  It is too bad that I wasn’t able to get to American Beauty or Europe 72, but it is very possible that someday I will pick up this post again and continue where I left off.  Thanks for taking your valuable time to read my ramblings and please leave me a comment, if I did not put you to sleep.

F is for Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours ranks as the seventh best-selling album worldwide of all time.  Elvis Presley’s soundtrack to Blue Hawaii hit #1 on the US charts in the fall of 1961 and remained there for 20 weeks in a row, a record that wasn’t broken until 1977, when Fleetwood Mac released their album Rumours.  Fleetwood Mac recorded 18 studio albums, 9 live albums, 23 compilation albums, one extended play single, and 62 singles.  They have sold more than 120 million records worldwide, making them one of the world’s best-selling bands and they won a Grammy award for their Rumours album, which also won album of the year.  The group kept evolving and it has thrived, dived, and survived through more than a dozen lineup changes and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

Fleetwood Mac is a British blues band that formed in London in 1967 and evolved into a hugely popular pop-rock group. Fleetwood Mac was founded by Peter Green and was named after Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, their name came from an instrumental jam that Green, McVie and Fleetwood recorded with Mayall.  After Peter Green left in 1969, Fleetwood and McVie remained as original members, and the band has since featured a cast of brilliant talents.  The original members were Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Jeremy Spencer. Guitarist Peter Green, drummer Mick Fleetwood, bassist John McVie and slide guitarist Jeremy Spencer were all former members of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers which began in 1967.  Later members included Danny Kirwan, Bob Welch, Christine McVie originally Christine Perfect, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.  The Bluesbreakers were (and are) a pioneering white blues band- musical conservatory led by singer, harmonica and keyboard player Mayall.  At one time or another Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, and Jack Bruce were part of this group.  The Bluesbreakers line-up of John Mayall, Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood never made a studio album and shattered after just three months.

Peter Green’s brother, Michael, taught him his first guitar chords and when Peter was eleven, he started teaching himself.  He began playing professionally at the age of fifteen.  He first played bass guitar in a band called Bobby Dennis and the Dominoes.  He joined a rhythm and blues outfit, the Muskrats, then a band called The Tridents in which he played bass.  In 1966, Green played lead guitar in a band called Peter B’s Looners, and that is where he met drummer Mick Fleetwood.  Three months later, Green got the opportunity to fill in for Eric Clapton in John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers for three concerts, and soon after, when Clapton left the Bluesbreakers, Green became a full-time member of Mayall’s band.  In 1967, Green left the Bluesbreakers and formed his own blues band with slide guitarist Jeremy Spencer, Fleetwood and Bob Brunning, who played bass till McVie joined.  Rolling Stone ranked Green at number 58 in its list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.

Mick Fleetwood took up the drums at a young age, getting a drum kit when he was thirteen.  With his parents’ support, he dropped out of school at the age of 15 and, in 1963, moved to London to pursue a career as a drummer.  Mick met keyboard player Peter Bardens who lived only a few doors away, and Bardens gave Fleetwood his first gig in Bardens’ band The Cheynes in July 1963.  He did some stints in The Bo Street Runners, where he replaced original drummer Nigel Hutchinson.  In February 1966, Bardens asked Fleetwood to join his new band, the Peter Bs, which soon become Shotgun Express with Rod Stewart.

Fleetwood was a member of the band John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers from 1964 to 1967, and he was dismissed from the Bluesbreakers for repeated insobriety during gigs.  Both Fleetwood and McVie were heavy drinkers, and their combined efforts were too much for Mayall and the band to cope with.  Mick was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

In 1970, Mick married Jenny Boyd, who was the inspiration for Donovan’s ‘Jennifer Juniper’ and the sister of Pattie Boyd (the ex-wife of both George Harrison and Eric Clapton).  The couple divorced after a few years, but tried again in 1976.  Jenny was having an affair with his best friend and former Mac guitarist Bob Weston through the mid-1970s and she confessed everything to her husband and left the tour with their children.  The band tried to put this setback behind them and continue with their itinerary, but eventually Fleetwood snapped and Weston was dismissed.  Mick and Jenny split up for good in 1978, which was followed by a publicized affair with Stevie Nicks.  Bob Weston was a British rock guitarist, who was a member of Fleetwood Mac in the early 1970s.  He also recorded and performed with a number of other musicians, including Graham Bond, Long John Baldry, Murray Head, Sandy Denny and Danny Kirwan.  Weston lived alone in his final years, and he was found dead at the age of 64 in his flat by London police officers on January 3, 2012, and he reported died from the effects of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage caused by cirrhosis.

John McVie expressed an interest in music from childhood, when he took up the trumpet.  He reached his teens amid the British skiffle boom and the first serious rumblings of home-grown rock & roll, and decided to switch to the guitar.  Since his friends were learning lead guitar, he chose to learn the bass instead.  McVie’s first band was the Krewsaders, comprised of friends John Barnes and Peter Barnes who later went on to form a group called The Strangers and he knew them from Ealing, where they played local dances and weddings.  McVie had a friend, Cliff Barton, who was playing with the Cyril Davies All-Stars, who was offered the chance to join a fledgling band called the Bluesbreakers, organized and led by John Mayall.  Barton wasn’t interested, but he told Mayall that he should look up the then 17-year-old McVie, who joined the Bluesbreakers in January of 1963.

Jeremy Spencer started taking piano lessons at age nine, and he switched to guitar at 15.  He formed his own band, the Levi Set.  His slide work and pounding voice caught the attention of record producer, Mike Vernon, who convinced Peter Green to meet with him when he was in the process of forming Fleetwood Mac.  Founding guitarist/singer Peter Green was looking for someone to share the spotlight with him, as he did not want to be the sole frontman.  As a musician Jeremy was extremely talented on slide guitar and he had a keen ear for impressions, giving him an almost chameleon-like ability to mimic different musical styles.

Danny Kirwan was a guitarist, singer and songwriter who was with Fleetwood Mac between 1968 and 1972.  He began learning guitar at the age of fifteen.  When he was seventeen, he got the attention of Fleetwood Mac in London while fronting his first band, Boilerhouse, a blues three-piece with Trevor Stevens on bass guitar and Dave Terrey on drums.  Kirwan’s band began playing support slots for Fleetwood Mac at London venues.  Fleetwood Mac was a quartet, but when Kirwan was invited to join Fleetwood Mac, they were able to move away from being just pure blues, as Danny Kirwan became the third guitarist.  He began playing in the group following the release of 1968’s Mr. Wonderful and his first appearance with the band was their Number One single ‘Albatross’.  Kirwan developed an alcohol dependency, and by 1972 he was becoming alienated from the rest of the band and he was fired during the tour in support of their sixth studio album Bare Trees.

Bob Welch was an American musician from California who was a member of Fleetwood Mac from 1971 to 1974.  Welch learned clarinet in his childhood, and switched to guitar in his early teens.  In 1964, Welch joined the Los Angeles-based vocal group The Seven Souls as a guitarist and he stayed with then till they broke up in 1969.  In 1971, Welch auditioned for Fleetwood Mac when the band was looking for a replacement for guitarist Jeremy Spencer who had made a spiritual decision to leave, reportedly because he disliked the focus that rock had on selfish individualism and was appalled by a recording he heard of his own performance.  Welch was assigned rhythm guitar, backing up lead guitarist Danny Kirwan.  While Welch was in the band, Fleetwood Mac experienced battles over the sound and shape of the music, but through this all Welch stepped up and did his job impressively.  He was part of a six-piece line-up and part of a four-piece line-up and he even had center-stage at one point, although at other times he was just a part of the puzzle.  He kept Fleetwood Mac together being the only constant, before their real success arrived.  Welch quit the band because he was burnt out and bored, struggling to keep a marriage together and to get through life.  Welch died on June 7, 2012 from suicide at the age of 65.

Christine McVie is a keyboard-player and singer who has had a long and productive musical career while seldom insisting on being center stage.  Born as Christine Perfect, she began playing the piano at the age of four and then found herself seriously studying the instrument at the age of 11, continuing her classical training until she was 15.  That’s when she discovered rock & roll, and she and her pal Teresa Gilbert snuck down to London from their Birmingham homes to play ‘Walk, Don’t Run’ on acoustic guitars before a Shadows concert.  In 1960, 19-year-old Spencer Davis made some duo appearances with her before he teamed up with Stevie and Muff Winwood, while she was only 17.  While studying sculpture at an arts college, she joined the band Sounds of Blue with Andy Sylvester and Stan Webb.  By the time McVie graduated with a teaching degree, Sounds of Blue had broken up, and she moved to London.

In 1968, Christine reunited with two of the band’s former members, Andy Silvester and Stan Webb, in the British blues band Chicken Shack, playing piano and contributing vocals.  Christine married John McVie, and became known as Christine McVie, and later she joined Fleetwood Mac as a pianist and singer and she remained a member for the next 25 years.  Christine is one of the bands key creative forces, having written half the songs on the band’s Greatest Hits album.  John and Christine divorced in 1978, but they still continued to be members of the band.

Stevie Nicks was born Stephanie Lynn Nicks and she had phenomenal success not only as a solo artist, but also as a key member of Fleetwood Mac.  Stevie began performing at the age of four, and she sang occasionally at the tavern owned by her parents.  Nicks started writing songs in her mid-teens, and joined her first group, the Changing Times, while attending high school in California.  During her senior year, Nicks met fellow student Lindsey Buckingham who was a junior at a religious-group gathering after school, and Buckingham started performing in a group known as The Fritz Rabyne Memorial Band who played talent shows and student dances and family parties across suburban San Jose.  Lindsey played with the band’s founder and drummer Bob Aguirre, keyboardist Javier Pacheco, singer Jody Moreing, and her cousin Calvin Roper on guitar.  Later they shortened the group’s name to Fritz, and when their lead singer Jody dropped out, Buckingham called Stevie and asked if she wanted to be in the band.  Between 1968 and 1971, the group became popular, and they opened for Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.  Three years later, Fritz disbanded, but Buckingham remained with Stevie.

Nicks and Buckingham had a platonic relationship throughout their time in Fritz, but as the group started to splinter, they were drawn together by their mutual ambition and a budding romance ensued.  By 1971, they headed to Los Angeles to try and make it as a duo, releasing an excellent folk-pop album as Buckingham Nicks, but it was dropped from Polydor Records within months of its release and after this commercial flop, their contract was terminated.  In an effort to make ends meet, Stevie worked alternately as a maid, a dental assistant, and a waitress.  Nicks has been portrayed more as a sex symbol than a serious musician, because of her flowing outfits and the way she danced whirling around onstage, even though she is a prolific songwriter who composed complex, intimate songs from an honest, female perspective.

In 1973, Stevie and Lindsey went to Aspen, so that he could rehearse for two weeks with Don Everly and this is when she wrote ‘Landslide’.  She looked up at the Rocky Mountains she was inspired and felt like things were going to improve, so she told Lindsey that they were going to the top!  Within a year, Mick Fleetwood called them, and they were in Fleetwood Mac making $800 a week apiece.  It was like they were at the end of their rope and suddenly they became rich overnight.

Lindsey Buckingham never took guitar lessons and does not read music, so he is a self-taught player that essentially plays by ear.  By age 13, he became interested in folk music.  He put out an album with Stevie Nicks where they both appeared nude on the album cover, something Nicks reported that she was uncomfortable doing.  Nicks felt mortified and she almost quit music at the age of 25, but she removed her top because Lindsey was pushing her to do it being very controlling and possessive.

While Fleetwood Mac was investigating Sound City recording studio in California, producer Keith Olsen guided the group through the facility, and he showcased the studio’s sound capabilities by playing the Buckingham-Nicks track ‘Frozen Love’.  Mick Fleetwood heard the song and he asked who the guitarist was and by chance, Buckingham and Nicks were in Sound City recording demos, at the time and that is how Buckingham and Fleetwood were introduced.  When Bob Welch left Fleetwood Mac in December 1974, Fleetwood immediately contacted Buckingham and offered him the vacant guitar slot in his band.  Mick reached out to Buckingham to join Fleetwood Mac as the band’s lead guitarist and also to become one of the band’s vocalists.  Buckingham accepted on the condition that Stevie Nicks also becomes part of the band, insisting that they were a package deal.  Fleetwood agreed and he invited Stevie and Lindsey to join his band in late 1974.

After Buckingham joined, the band’s pop tendencies flowered under his direction.  Not only did he provide the group with some brilliant, surprisingly dark pop songs, he sharpened the other members’ songs with his production, arrangements, and breathtaking guitar playing.  Buckingham left the band after its 1987 album, Tango in the Night, to concentrate on his solo career.  Lindsey was the group’s lead guitarist and one of the vocalists from 1975 to 1987, and then from 1997 to 2018.  In 2011, Buckingham was ranked 100th in Rolling Stone’s list of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.

Fleetwood Mac put out a single in 1967 ‘I Believe My Time Ain’t Long’ / ‘Rambling Pony’, which did not chart.  They found success with their debut eponymous album in 1968, which reached No. 4 in the UK and stayed on the charts 37 weeks, despite the lack of a hit single.  The single they released on this album was ‘Shake Your Moneymaker’ which was written by Elmore James.  Mr. Wonderful was their second studio album, also released in 1968, which had no singles, but reached No. 10.  The group did release three non-album singles in 1968, and ‘Albatross’ charted #1 in the UK.

In 1969, they released two more non-album singles, ‘Man of the World’ / ‘Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonite’ and ‘Oh Well (Parts 1 and 2)’, both of which charted #2 in the UK.  Then Play On was their third studio album, released in 1969 and their first to feature Danny Kirwan and the last with Peter Green.  This album charted #6 in the UK and went to 109 in the US and the single ‘Rattlesnake Shake’ came from this album that was written by Green, but it failed to chart.  In 1969, they also released Fleetwood Mac in Chicago which was a double album and it featured Fleetwood Mac and seven Chicago blues musicians, Otis Spann (piano, vocals), Willie Dixon (upright bass), Shakey Horton (harmonica, vocals), J.T. Brown (tenor saxophone, vocals), Buddy Guy (guitar), Honeyboy Edwards (guitar, vocals), and S.P. Leary (drums).  This album had no singles and it failed to chart in the UK, but it reached 118 in the US.

Kiln House was their fourth studio album, released in 1970 and the first of the post-Peter Green Fleetwood Mac era, and their last album to feature Jeremy Spencer.  They abandoned the heavy blues path they had been on, and the group drew heavily from early rock and roll influences.  Christine McVie was present at the recording sessions and contributed backing vocals, keyboards, but she was not a full member of the band until shortly after the album’s completion.  This album did not have any singles and it charted 39 in the UK and went to 69 in the US.

Their next five albums from 1971 to 1974 failed to chart in the UK, but oddly they all made the US charts.  Dave Walker and Bob Weston were in the group with Mick, John, Christine and Bob Welch from 1971 through 1972.  Dave Walker is a British singer and guitarist who started playing with The Redcaps in 1960 and he has been front-man for a number of bands; most notably Humble Pie, Savoy Brown, and he was briefly in Black Sabbath.  In 1971, when Future Games came out, it charted 91 and was certified Gold by RIAA.  Bare Trees came out in 1972 and it got to 70 on the charts and went Platinum.  Penguin from 1973 reached 49.  Mystery to Me also from 1973 reached 67 and went Gold.  Heroes Are Hard to Find was released in 1974 and it reached 34.  Each of these albums has singles, but none of them made the charts.

Fleetwood Mac was their tenth studio album, in 1975 and it was their second eponymous album, so most Fleetwood Mac fans refer to it as The White Album.  This was their first album to feature Lindsey and Stevie, after Bob Welch departed the band in late 1974.  The album reached number one on the Billboard 200 over a year after entering the chart, and it spent 37 weeks within the top 10, and more than fifteen months within the top 40.  It also went to 23 in the UK and this album resurrected the group.  It launched three top twenty singles, ‘Over My Head’ which reached #10 in the US, ‘Rhiannon’ and ‘Say You Love Me’, both got to #11.  The song is always referred to as simply ‘Rhiannon’ on Fleetwood Mac albums, but the title ‘Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win)’ was used on single versions in some countries.  Stevie Nicks wrote this song with some help from Lindsey, while they were recording as Buckingham-Nicks and they were about to release the track on their second album, but they joined Fleetwood Mac instead and recorded it with them.  The album was a prelude to a run of hugely successful albums for the band in Britain, including four multi-platinum number ones, Rumours, Tusk, Tango in the Night and Behind the Mask.

Rumours was their eleventh studio album, released in 1977.  It won Album of the Year at the 20th Grammy Awards and in 2003, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.  John McVie suggested the album title to the band because he felt the members were writing “journals and diaries” about each other through music.  The album produced several top singles including ‘Go Your Own Way’ which reached 38 in the UK and 10 in the US and went Platinum.  ‘Dreams’ reached 24 in the UK and 1 in the US and went Platinum.  ‘Don’t Stop’ reached 32 in the UK and 3 in the US and went Silver.  ‘You Make Loving Fun’ reached 45 in the UK and 9 in the US.

Rumours was selected in 2018 for preservation in the National Recording Registry.  Rolling Stone placed it at number 26 on their list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, describing the band as turning “private turmoil into gleaming, melodic public art.”  Fleetwood Mac Rumours sold 10 million copies in its first year, becoming the top-selling album in history at that time.  The group toured for a solid year, playing to sold-out 10,000-seat arenas each night.  Before the recording of Rumours began, Fleetwood had become aware that his wife Jenny Boyd and mother to their two daughters, Lucy and Amy was having an affair with a close friend, and divorce would soon follow.

Combining rock-and-roll with sex and drugs, then adding in jealousy, infidelity usually leads to divorce, especially when members are in the same band.  The marriage of bandmates Christine and John McVie, began to implode at the same time when Buckingham and Nicks’ relationship was faltering.  Reports say that Buckingham became jealous of Nicks and he started mocking her onstage, he was physically abusive kicking her, choking her and he reportedly threw a Les Paul guitar at her head, although he claims not to remember any of these events.  At this time Nicks was taking the tranquilizer Klonopin, which was prescribed by a psychiatrist to help calm her nerves after being addicted to cocaine for about 10 years. Nicks officially ended things, deciding to go her own way.

After being married for almost eight years, Christine and John entered the studio near San Francisco to begin recording and mixing of Rumours, while they were at the point of divorce.  Adhering to the notion of British reserve, the former couple stayed silent around each other, avoiding contact other than during work sessions.  Things further deteriorated when Christine began openly dating the band’s lighting director.

The high emotions that the band was enduring, ultimately resulted in several hit songs with brutally honest lyrics.  ‘Go Your Own Way; was Buckingham’s response to the disintegration of his relationship with Nicks.  ‘Don’t Stop’ was Christine’s ode to looking ahead in life, while ‘You Make Loving Fun’ was a celebration of her new-found romance away from ex-husband John.  ‘The Chain’ was the group’s joint anthem regarding betrayal.

In 1979, Christine McVie started a romantic relationship, with Beach Boy Dennis Wilson which did not end on particularly good terms, and she hadn’t seen him for at least two years when she heard that Dennis had drowned.  In 1998, Christine announced that she was quitting Fleetwood Mac, after 28 years of late nights, she was done living out of a suitcase, finished with recording studios and sold-out arenas.  She was scared of flying, so she returned to her native England.  Her second marriage, to keyboardist Eddy Quintela ended in 2003, as they divorced after more than a dozen years of marriage.  They collaborated on 14 songs while they were together and ‘Little Lies’ and ‘As Long As You Follow’, became hits for Fleetwood Mac.  Being out of the music business and out of public view worked out all right for a while, till she started getting bored and then she began seeing a therapist to overcome her flying phobia. and then she asked the band if she could come back.

The only two constants in this band were drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie, as Buckingham left after 1987’s Tango in the Night,  Nicks’ left after 1990’s Behind the Mask and Christine McVie left after 1995’s Time, although they all eventually returned.  From 1987-91, the band consisted of Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, Billy Burnette who toured with Bob Dylan and John Fogerty and Rick Vito who was a member of the bands of John Mayall, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Seger, and many others.  From 1991-95, band members were Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Billy Burnette, Bekka Bramlett the daughter of Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett and she worked with Mick Fleetwood’s band, The Zoo, on his album, Shakin’ the Cage, in June, 1992, before joining and Dave Mason the guitarist and song writer known mostly for his time as an original member in the band Traffic.  From 1997-98, members were Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. From 1998-2013, the band was Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.  From 2014-17, it was Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie. 2018 – Present, it is Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Neil Finn of Crowded House.

E is for Eagles

The Eagles had five number one singles, 14 Top 40 hits, and four number one albums, and they are considered among the most successful recording artists of the 1970s.  The Eagles have the first, their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 selling five million more than Michael Jackson’s Thriller and the third Hotel California best-selling albums of all time in the U.S.  Although worldwide, Thriller is still the best-selling album of all time.  The Eagles rank as the biggest-selling American band of all time, having six Grammy Awards, and five American Music Awards.  The original members were drummer Don Henley, guitarist and keyboard player Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon playing guitar, banjo, steel guitar, mandolin and dobro, and Randy Meisner on bass.  Later members included Don Felder, Joe Walsh, and Timothy B. Schmit.  In 1998, the Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Eagles were all perfectionists, they were all very talented and could play several different instruments and they wrote their own music and all of them could sing.  This group changed country and rock forever, because of their extraordinary blend of voices, and a wonderful harmony sound that they were able to produce.  They took their distinctive version of country rock music that they bred in Los Angeles to international acclaim, and thanks to a combination of relentlessly catchy songs, an astute business plan and fortuitous timing, they found early fame as the epitome of California’s new country-rock movement.  In the band’s first nine years together, they scored gold records for every album they released and delivered songs that changed the musical landscape.  They released seven studio albums, two live albums, 10 compilation albums, as well as three video albums and 30 singles.

During the ‘60’s, Henley was playing drums and singing in a group called Four Speeds with bassist Richard Bowden and keyboard/trumpet player Jerry Surratt.  In 1967 they changed their name to The Felicity and Richard’ cousin Mike Bowden took over on the bass, while Richard switched to lead guitar.  Jerry Surratt died in a motorcycle accident in March of 1970.  Henley and the Bowden’s soon regrouped, joined by journeyman steel guitar player Al Perkins and future country record producer Jim Ed Norman (who replaced Surratt as their keyboardist).  This five-man country-rock band took the name Shiloh.  In 1969, Kenny Rogers of The First Edition discovered Don Henley when he was playing in Shiloh.  This was in Linden, a small town in Texas and Kenny secured the group a record deal.  Henley moved to Los Angeles from Texas with his band Shiloh to record an album produced by Kenny Rogers.

Glenn Frey was from Michigan and he took up the guitar at the age of 16, after seeing the Beatles perform in 1964.  He was in several amateur and semi-professional Detroit-based bands in his late teens, including the Mushrooms, which became a major-local attraction on the local television show Robin Seymour’s Swinging Time, and he cut a single, that was produced by Bob Seger.  When the Mushrooms split Frey joined the folk-rock group the Four of Us, then he formed two more Detroit teen bands, the Subterraneans and the Heavy Metal Kids.  Frey worked as a recording session musician for Bob Segar and then he moved to California where he joined Longbranch Pennywhistle, a country rock/folk music group that featured John David Souther, a fellow Detroit transplant and they made one obscure self-titled album in 1969.  Longbranch Pennywhistle also featured Ry Cooder, Jim Gordon, Cajun fiddler Doug Kershaw and James Burton.

Al Perkins came to California from Texas with Shiloh, but he quit them to join the Flying Burrito Brothers.  Henley and Frey met in 1970 at The Troubadour in Los Angeles when they became acquainted through their mutual record label, Amos Records.  Linda Ronstadt was at the Troubadour when Shiloh, fronted by Don Henley with Mike Bowden, Glen Frey and Richard Bowden were playing a gig and she liked what she heard and her manager John Boylan, was already in the process of putting a band together for her forthcoming Silk Purse tour, so they hired Don and Glen, and they went out on the road with Linda in the summer of 1971.  Other members hired were Ken Bloom (ex- Lewis & Clark with Boomer Castleman) on pedal steel and standard guitar, and bassist Casey Van Beek.

While on the tour, Frey and Henley decided to form a band together and informed Ronstadt of their intention.  Frey said that Ronstadt suggested Leadon for the band, and arranging for Leadon to play for her so Frey and Henley could approach him about forming a band together.  They also pitched the idea to Meisner and brought him on board.

Randy Meisner co-founded a band called the Dynamics which became the Drivin’ Dynamics in 1961, where he played bass and was the lead singer.  In 1966, Meisner left the group to join another Midwestern band called the Soul Survivors, who later moved to Los Angeles and changed their name to the Poor.  By 1968, Meisner joined a band that was initially called Pogo, but later they changed this to Poco, and it was organized by Richie Furay and Jim Messina out of the collapse their earlier band, the Buffalo Springfield.  Randy Meisner left Poco after they completed their debut album and he was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit.  Randy Meisner started working with Ricky Nelson’s backing band, the Stone Canyon Band.

Bernie Leadon was a country-rock pioneer who began playing in a California bluegrass outfit called the Scottsville Squirrel Barkers in 1962.  He relocated to Florida by the mid-’60s, and joined the short-lived country-folk band Hearts and Flowers, and in 1968, he became part of the group, Dillard & Clark which featured ex-Byrds member Gene Clark and bluegrass banjo player Doug Dillard.  Leadon became part of Linda Ronstadt’s backing band, the Corvettes, before he joined up with one of the first-ever country-rock outfits, the Flying Burrito Brothers, in the fall of 1969.  Bernie Leadon was also part of the Music From Free Creek super session, an album from a series of 1969 recordings by Free Creek, a group composed of a number of internationally renowned musical artists of the time, including Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Keith Emerson, Dr. John, Buzz Feiten, Mitch Mitchell and Linda Ronstadt.  Although it’s a well-regarded album by critics, this lone album by Free Creek pretty much flew under the radar since its original recording in 1969.

When Ken Bloom left Shiloh, Michael Bowden joined as replacement guitarist.  Soon after Randy Meisner replaced Van Beek and three quarters of the group that would eventually become the Eagles were now playing together regularly joining Ronstadt’s group of performers.  The dream team of Frey, Henley, Meisner and Leadon came together for the first time on July 12, 1971 while backing up Linda Ronstadt.

Linda let them rehearse in her house one afternoon, a bungalow where she lived with J.D. Souther on Camrose Place near the corner Highland and Jackson Browne lived in an adjacent bungalow.  She had a bigger living room than they did, so she let them rehearse there while she went out to see a movie with J.D. Souther.  When she came back, they completed ‘Witchy Woman’ which would become their trademark song.  The four were signed to Asylum Records, the new label started by David Geffen, who was introduced to Frey by Jackson Browne.  Geffen bought out Frey’s and Henley’s contracts with Amos Records, and sent the four to Aspen, Colorado to develop as a band.

They performed their first show in October 1971 under the name of Teen King and the Emergencies and Bernie Leadon suggested that they change their name during a peyote and tequila-influenced group outing in the Mojave Desert, when he recalled reading about the Hopis Indian’s reverence for the eagle.  The Eagles formed in September 1971 and a few months later, in February 1972, they headed to England to record their debut album with producer Glyn Johns.  Their eponymous debut album The Eagles was released in June and gave them three hit singles including ‘Witchy Woman’ which reached #9, ‘Take It Easy’ that got to #12 and ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ that got to #22.  This album reached No. 22 on the charts and it went platinum.  In 2012, it was ranked number 368 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Glenn Frey wrote two songs and he co-wrote ‘Take It Easy’ with Jackson Browne.  Browne also wrote ‘Nightingale’, which was sung by Henley.  Henley and Leadon collaborated on ‘Witchy Woman’, which was also sung by Henley.  Leadon collaborated on a song with Gene Clark and another with Meisner and he sang lead vocals on both of those.  Meisner wrote two songs and he sang lead vocals on both of those.  Frey sang lead on ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’, which was written by Jack Tempchin.

Unfortunately, when it comes to The Eagles music, they are very strict about what they allow on YouTube and they tend to block a lot of their stuff from being available in the USA.  You can get some slide shows with background music and you can watch them on Dailymotion, which does work with WordPress, but Glenn Frey didn’t like YouTube feeling that it was ripping him off and greed does funny things to people, as the rich want to keep getting richer.  There is nothing anyone can do about it, as it’s their copyrighted material.  They made plenty of money, a whopping $100 million, which was enough for the band to be ranked number eight on Forbes 2019 list of the World’s Highest-Paid Celebrities.  The bulk of The Eagles’ earning came via their tour dates where they gross on average $3.5 million per show.

 

Desperado was their second studio album and it was released in 1973.  The songs on Desperado are based on the themes of the Old West.  The title track song ‘Desperado’ was never released as a single, but it was ranked number 494 on Rolling Stone’s 2004 list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.  The album reached number 41 on the Billboard album chart and was certified gold.  The album had two singles, ‘Tequila Sunrise’ which reached number 64 in the US and ‘Outlaw Man’ which got to number 59.  Bernie Leadon wrote two songs and he sang lead vocals on both of those and he collaborated on the writing of another song.  Randy Meisner collaborated on two songs.  Frey and Henley co-wrote both ‘Desperado’ and ‘Tequila Sunrise’ and they were collaborators on all of the rest of the songs on this album.  J.D. Souther, Jackson Browne and Tom Nixon who met Don Henley back when they were both playing frat parties in Texas all got writing credits.  When the Eagles first started touring, Tom Nixon became one of their roadies.

On the Border was their third studio album, released in 1974, and it has more rock oriented sound than the country-rock feel on their first two albums.  It is the first Eagles album to feature guitarist Don Felder, who was called by the Eagles to add slide guitar to their song ‘Good Day in Hell’ and some guitar solos to ‘Already Gone’.  Shortly afterwards, he was invited to join the band.  Felder and Leadon both attended Gainesville High School and they played frat parties in Florida.  Felder gave guitar lessons at a music shop, where he learned how to play slide guitar from Duane Allman, and one of Felder’s students was a young Tom Petty.  On the Border reached number 17 on the Billboard album chart and has sold two million copies.  It included three singles, ‘Already Gone’ which reached #32, ‘James Dean’ which peaked at #77 and ‘Best of My Love’ which went all the way to #1 and became the band’s first of five chart toppers.

One of These Nights was their fourth studio album, released in 1975, and it became their first number one album on Billboard’s album chart transforming them into international superstars.  It yielded three Top 10 singles, ‘One of These Nights’ which went to #1, ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ reached #2 won Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocal and ‘Take It to the Limit’ got to #4.  This was the first of the four consecutive number one albums by the Eagles.  Bernie Leadon left the band after this album tour in order to spend more time devoted to exercising and taking care of his health and he was replaced by Joe Walsh.  During a particularly heated fight, before Bernie quit, he dumped a beer over Frey’s head, as a way of tendering his resignation.

This album featured some additional musicians with David Bromberg on fiddles for ‘Journey of the Sorcerer’ while The Royal Martian Orchestra played strings on this song.  Albhy Galuten played synthesizer on ‘Hollywood Waltz’ and Jim Ed Norman played piano ‘Lyin’ Eyes’, ‘Take It to the Limit’, orchestrations, conductor, string arrangements, while Sid Sharp was concert master.  The Eagles wrote all of these songs and Patti Davis (Ronald and Nancy’s daughter) contributed on one of them.  Patti was romantically involved with Bernie Leadon and he helped her finish ‘I Wish You Peace’, a song that she started.  Patti Davis adopted her mother’s maiden name in an effort to have an independent career.

Hotel California was their fifth studio album and it was released in 1976.  It was their first album with guitarist Joe Walsh, and their last album to feature bassist Randy Meisner who quit the group claiming he was exhausted and his replacement was Timothy B. Schmit.  This album became the third best-selling U.S. album in history, and it has recently been certified 26-times Platinum by the RIAA.  The album was nominated for Album of the Year, but lost to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.

Three singles were released from the album, and two topped the Billboard Hot 100.  ‘New Kid in Town’ went to #1 in 1976 and ‘Hotel California’ reached #1 in 1977, and each won a Grammy award, while ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ got to #11.  This was an urban theme concept album released in the bicentennial year, where the eagle is the national symbol, and Henley said that they were obliged to make some kind of statement, like we have been here for 200 years, but we’re gonna have to change, if we want to continue to be around.  Don Henley said that with ‘Life in the Fast Lane’, they were trying to paint a picture that cocaine wasn’t all that great of a drug.  It turns you on, but it also messes you up and makes you paranoid.

Joe Walsh was a well-established solo star who replaced guitarist Glen Schwartz in the James Gang at the end of 1967 when Glen moved to California and formed Pacific Gas & Electric.  Joe Walsh came from a band called The Measles.  After their fourth album, James Gang Live in Concert, Walsh left The James Gang for a solo career.  Joe’s next band was Barnstorm and he had a big hit with them ‘Rocky Mountain Way’.  The Eagles hired him because they were looking for some song writing input from him.  Joe had actually shared a few concert bills with the Eagles, and they had the same manager in Irving Azoff.  Joe jumped at the chance to join the Eagles, as he was already been jamming and writing with some of the members as part of the magically fertile LA scene, and now he was able to bring his rock edge to their vocal harmonies, and this result was lightning in a bottle.

The Eagles wrote all of the songs on this album with Henley and Frey collaborating with J.D. Souther on ‘New Kid in Town’, and Henley and Frey also collaborated with Jim Ed Norman who played keyboard with Shiloh on ‘Wasted Time’.  Joe Walsh collaborated with his former Kent State classmate and bandmate from Barnstorm Joe Vitale on ‘Pretty Maids All in a Row’.  In 1975, Vitale became part of the Eagles’ touring band playing drums, keyboards, and singing backing vocals.

In 1978, the Eagles covered and released ‘Please Come Home for Christmas’ as a holiday single, which peaked at #18 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

The Long Run was their sixth studio album which was released in 1979, and this was the first Eagles album to feature Timothy B. Schmit, who replaced Randy Meisner and the last full studio album to feature Don Felder.  The album was certified 7× Platinum by the RIAA and it sold more than eight million copies in the US.  Three singles were released from the album, ‘Heartache Tonight’ reached #1 and won a Grammy Award, ‘The Long Run’, and ‘I Can’t Tell You Why’ both got to #8.  This was their second to last studio album and it took them 18 months to complete because the band was completely burned out, physically, emotionally, spiritually as the band’s creatively was exhausted.  28 years later in 2007, Long Road Out of Eden came out being their last studio album.

They wrote all of the songs for this album with some help from their friends. J.D. Souther and Bob Seger collaborated with Henley and Frey on ‘Heartache Tonight’ and J.D. collaborated with Henley, Frey and Walsh on another song.  ‘In the City’ was written by American singer, songwriter, producer, and composer Barry De Vorzon and Joe Walsh.  Barry De Vorzon had a total of twenty hit records, which he wrote and/or produced.  He discovered the highly successful group, the Association, and he developed a successful independent record and publishing company.  The Monstertones featuring Duane Monstertone, Leon Blazek, Freddy Buffett, Urban Azoff, Pee Wee Solters, Marion Kinde, Buckley Wideface, Tommy Obnozzio, Jingles Squirrel Heart, Floyd Tempchin, Ollie Blair, Hugh Gotteny, Peter Rennert, John McEnroe and Peter Fleming sang backing vocals on this album.  Bob Seger sang backing vocals ‘Heartache Tonight’.  Jimmy Buffett sings backing vocals on ‘The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks’.  David Sanborn plays alto saxophone on ‘The Sad Café’.  Joe Vitale played congas on ‘In the City’.

The Eagles put out Eagles Live in 1980 and then in 1994 they released their second live album Hell Freezes Over.  The initial end of the Eagles came with an epic meltdown at a show in Long Beach, Calif. on July 31, 1980, when Don Felder and Glenn Frey almost came to physical blows.  The’80s featured plenty of music from all but one of the band’s seven total members and some of the notable solo albums were Joe Walsh with All Night Long, and A Life of Illusion, Randy Meisner Hearts on Fire, Don Felder Heavy Metal (Takin’ a Ride), Don Henley Dirty Laundry, and The End of the Innocence and Glenn Frey The One You Love, and Smuggler’s Blues.

They never broke up, as they just took a fourteen-year vacation.  The original Hell Freezes Over Cd featured fifteen tracks with fresh takes on their classics, four new songs and ‘New York Minute’, which was originally from Don Henley’s The End of the Innocence, his third solo studio album that was released in 1989.  On their Hell Freezes Over tour, over a three-year period, from 1994-96, the Eagles played 160 shows across the world, setting box office records at nearly every stop along the way.  Steuart Smith was hired by the Eagles in 2001 after Don Felder was fired from the band due to legal disputes.  Smith was a member of Don Henley’s solo touring band, and occasionally played concerts with Glenn Frey as well.

Glenn Frey died from pneumonia on January 18, 2016 and after a one-year hiatus, the Eagles re-formed in 2017, with Glenn’s 24-year-old son Deacon Frey and Vince Gill a country artist, and one of Frey’s close friends sharing lead vocals for Frey’s songs.  Vince Gill was the frontman for Pure Prairie League in the 1970s and he became a solo artist in 1983.  He recorded more than 20 studio albums, charted over 40 singles on the U.S. Billboard charts as Hot Country Songs, and sold more than 26 million albums.  He has been honored by the Country Music Association with 18 CMA Awards, including two Entertainer of the Year awards and five Male Vocalist Awards.  As of 2017, Gill has also earned 21 Grammy Awards, more than any other male country music artist.  In 2007 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and on February 4, 2016, Gill was inducted into the Guitar Center Rock Walk.  The Eagles current lineup consists of Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit, Deacon Frey and Vince Gill.  Steuart Smith has been with the Eagles for about 19 years now, touring with them and producing new music, but he has not been made an official member of the band yet.

All the World’s a Birthday Cake

The song ‘It’s All Too Much’ was written by George Harrison and it was used for the Yellow Submarine soundtrack.  George wrote this while he was under the influence of LSD and the music has little sense of direction, but it was a tribute to his wife, Pattie.  At the time Harrison wrote this, he was still infatuated by his wife Pattie Boyd (who he had married the previous year) and the love that he felt for her is scattered throughout the song.  George felt a “love that’s shining all around” her, which was too much for him to take.  Patti became the center of rock’s most iconic love triangle when George’s best friend Eric Clapton fell in love with her.  Eric was inspired to write ‘Layla’, but ‘It’s All Too Much’ has to be her greatest hit.  When Patti married Clapton in May 1979, George, Paul, and Ringo jammed at the wedding, playing ‘Get Back’ and ‘Sgt. Pepper’ and John called Clapton to complain he hadn’t been invited.

In the Summer of Love, Yellow Submarine captured the flower power era of peace, love and sent a message that love is all you need.  This was the fourth Beatles movie, coming after A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, and Magical Mystery TourYellow Submarine was based on a song by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and it is a fantastic tale brimming with peace, love, and hope, propelled by Beatles songs, including ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’, ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’, ‘All You Need Is Love’, and ‘It’s All Too Much’.  Aside from composing and performing the songs, the real Beatles only participated in the closing scene of the film, while their cartoon counterparts were voiced by other actors.

In Yellow Submarine, Old Friend, captain of the titular vessel, recruits The Beatles to travel to Pepperland, an underwater musical paradise that is 80,000 leagues under the sea, where beauty, happiness, and music reign supreme.  The Beatles were needed because the unearthly paradise of Pepperland had been shattered when the Blue Meanies invaded with their army of storm bloopers, apple bonkers, obese bizarre creatures called snapping turtle Turks, and it is now under siege by a horde of boot-wearing Blue Meanies, along with the menacing flying glove in an attempt to stop the music and drain Pepperland of all color and hope.  They meet the little squat Jeremy Hillary Boob, Ph.D., who is dubbed the Nowhere Man and lives in the Sea of Nothing and they take him aboard on the Yellow Submarine on a journey across seven seas to free Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, make peace with the Meanies, and restore music, color, and love to the world.

The song appears during the climax of the film, following Lennon’s defeat of the Chief Blue Meanie’s enforcer, the Flying Glove, through the power of the word “Love”.  In the sequence for ‘It’s All Too Much’, the Beatles vanquish the evil Blue Meanies and celebrate as the colorful beauty of friendship and music have been restored to Pepperland and this track has been described as the song that really sets the mood of the movie.  The film represented the final episode in the Beatles’ psychedelic period, although the band had already returned to making more roots-based music at the start of 1968.

The Beatles hated the idea of their music being turned into a cartoon and when they wrote songs that they thought were not very good, they reserved them for Yellow Submarine.  The song ‘Yellow Submarine’ came in early 1966 as the band was preparing songs for their seventh album Revolver and Paul wrote this song with a little help from Donavan for Ringo to sing.  The Beatles recorded ‘It’s All Too Much’ in May 1967, shortly after completing their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  In 1967, United Artists conceived the idea of making a cartoon film about a Yellow Submarine, and The Beatles still owed them a movie as part of their deal, so it was decided to fulfil the contractual obligation with an animated film.

This song starts out with a short indistinct phrase that is uttered and then it proceeds into a feedback guitar sound which is reminiscence of Jimi Hendrix playing the ‘National Anthem’ at Woodstock, but this was two years earlier.  George said, “I just wanted to write a rock ‘n’ roll song about the whole psychedelic thing of the time.  Because you’d trip out, you see, on all this stuff, and then whoops! you’d just be back having your evening cup of tea!”  This was by far the longest Beatles song until ‘Hey Jude’ was recorded over a year later and a verse was edited out of album version, cutting time from 8 minutes to 6.  The full version appears in film Yellow Submarine.

There is a line in this song that says, “With your long blond hair and your eyes of blue” and that was taken from the song ‘Sorrow’, which was originally recorded by the McCoys, the group that did ‘Hang on Sloopy’, but it was also covered by The Merseys in 1966 and David Bowie in 1973.  The Beatles had horn players on this song, and they recorded something that is known as the motif from Jeremiah Clarke’s Prince of Denmark’s March, and also as Trumpet Voluntary.  David Mason and three others played trumpets and Paul Harvey played bass clarinet.  David Mason also performed on ‘Penny Lane’, ‘A Day In The Life’, ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ and ‘All You Need Is Love’.

Paul and John just came up with and sang that lyric of ‘your eyes of blue’.  The song ends with a lot of chanting.  In the beginning of this song either John Lennon or George Harrison says something that sounds like, “To Jorma” and many people feel that this is a reference to Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane, but I always thought it sounded like he said “To your mother”, but I can’t make any sense out of that.  Harrison stopped using LSD in August 1967 when he discovered that he could get the same effects from Transcendental Meditation.  The song features a Hammond organ, which gives the track a drone-like quality typical of Indian music, electric guitar feedback, and an overdubbed brass section.

To Jorma
It’s all too much
It’s all too much
When I look into your eyes, your love is there for me
And the more I go inside, the more there is to see
It’s all too much for me to take
The love that’s shining all around you
Everywhere, it’s what you make
For us to take, it’s all too much
Floating down the stream of time, of life to life with me
Makes no difference where you are or where you’d like to be
It’s all too much for me to take
The love that’s shining all around here
All the world’s a birthday cake
So take a piece but not too much
Set me on a silver sun, for I know that I’m free
Show me that I’m everywhere, and get me home for tea
It’s all to much for me to see
A love that’s shining all around here
The more I am, the less I know
And what I do is all too much
It’s all too much for me to take
The love that’s shining all around you
Everywhere, it’s what you make
For us to take, it’s all too much
It’s too much (ah)
It’s too much
With your long blond hair and your eyes of blue
With your long blond hair and your eyes of blue
You’re too much, ah
We all get too much
Too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much
Too much
Too much
Too much, too much, too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much, too much, too much, too much
Too much, too much

Written for Song Lyric Sunday where the prompt is Birthday/Cake/Gift/Party/Surprise.

Limit Gatherings

You say that it is your birthday, well I had mine last month and believe me less than ten people showed up to celebrate it with me.  I did get a cake and a card with a check in it and that was a much-appreciated gift.  There was no surprise and no party, but that is the new normal now.  Worst of all, Marilyn Monroe did not show up to sing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to me.  I read that Marilyn’s dress was so tight-fitting that she had difficulty putting it on, so she wore nothing under it, and in 2016, it was sold at an auction for $4.8 million.

Last week we had Senses using Touch/Feel, and that worked out.  This week we have Birthday/Cake/Gift/Party/Surprise and I think that everyone should be able to find a song that uses one of these prompt words.  Make sure that you have fun while you are doing this.  Take some time to read the posts of other bloggers who respond to this music challenge, as you will probably find many enjoyable songs and it is quite possibly that you will learn a thing or two.  Share your music with others and post a video, try do some research and let everyone know something about the song that you post.  Show the lyrics, let’s all listen to our favorite songs and explore some new music.  Try to find a song that fits the prompt, then write your post and create a pingback, or you can just place your link in the comments section.  Everyone, please try to stay safe amid this current pandemic!

Here are the “rules”:
• Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not. If it does not fit, then please explain why you chose this song.
• Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
• Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
• Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
• Ping back to this post or place your link in the comments section below.
• Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
• Feel free to suggest future prompts.
• Have fun and enjoy the music.

I am writing about the Beatles/George Harrison song ‘It’s All Too Much’ this week.  Next week I will be writing about the song ‘Dark Star’ by the Grateful Dead.  The upcoming prompts will be:
April 12, 2020 – Diamond/Emerald/Jade/Pearl/Ruby/Sapphire
April 19, 2020 – Home Town or City where you were born or once lived in
April 26, 2020 – Alone/Confined/Depressed/Isolated/Restless/Solo
May 3, 2020 – Burrito/Fajita/Mexican/Tequila