Take It Easy

I am not sure if this actually counts as being a New Year Resolution, but I plan on taking it easy in 2019.  I have slowed down on my blogging, not caring about being involved in any of the prompts and just writing my own stuff.  In 2017, I wrote for Suzanne McClendon’s September Challenge.  When 2018 started, I did the JusJoJan prompts and then in April, I did the A-Z challenge. I have been blogging every day for quite a while not really pushing myself, as I obtained extreme joy from writing about anything.  Before I discovered the now defunct WordPress Daily Prompt which was also called the Daily Post, I wrote some Essays, some Poetry, Rants, a few Cartoons and I did the Letter Game, which ended up being a disaster.  A lifetime of laughter could have saved them all.

I have also written many times in the other Linda G. Hill challenges, One Liner Wednesday and Stream of Consciousness Saturday.  Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers by Priceless Joy is a Monday writing challenge while The Twittering Tale by Kat Myrman comes out every Tuesday and I have occasionally participated in both of these writing challenges, but because they have character limits, it does not fit my style very well.  Sadly, I only wrote one post for Bikurgurl’s 100WW 100 Word Wednesday.  I also wrote one post for Cee’s Sharing My World, and Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge.  I did a couple of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields Friday Fictioneers prompts.  I wrote several posts for Laura M. Bailey All The Shoes I Wear Manic Mondays 3 way Prompt and I have also been in several of her Monthly Writing Prompts.  I have written many times for Daily Addictions, FOWC with Fandango, Your Daily Word Prompt by Sheryl which for some unknown reason I started calling this the New Daily Post, the Ragtag Community, Scotts Daily Prompt and the Word of the Day Challenge.

A few times, I wrote for Reena Saxon’s Exploration Challenge and I also have been in RayNotBradbury’s Cool Writing Prompt which is now Victoria Ray NB.  I wrote in some Randomness Inked Let it Bleed challenges, the Rachel Poli Time To Write challenges and a Daily Inkling writing challenge.  I even wrote in a Lost in Translation pick a word challenge, which I screwed up, because this was a picture challenge and I did not follow the instructions, but this won’t be the last time that I screwed the pooch.  I did a lot of the Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie challenges like First Line Friday, Marquessa Challenge, MM Music Prompt, MM Photo Prompt, Saturday Mix, Tale Weaver and Wordle.  One of my favorite writing challenges is Helen Vahdati’s Song Lyric Sunday and lately all I want to write about is Music.

Saying “take it easy” could mean the same thing as “see you around”, or “take care”, or “catch you on the rebound”, but that is not how I am using this phrase for my New Year’s resolutions.  I want to take care of myself, both physically and emotionally and Welcome 2019!, as I anticipate that this will be a banner year for me.  I realize that I am a bit of an enigma, but I am not a riddle, wrapped in a mystery.  I probably belong to a district of some type or another, but I don’t enjoy being classified.  Resolutions may come and go, but I plan to be here on WordPress for a while, as I still enjoy writing.  One thing that I want to do is to go to Flagstaff, Arizona and stand on that same corner where Jackson Browne did.

I don’t think that I have ever had seven women on my mind, at least not that many all at the same time, but I guess that some guys are capable of doing this.  The original incident that inspired the song ‘Take It Easy’ took place in Flagstaff, Arizona where a young female cruised by Jackson Browne in a Toyota pickup and she ogled him and that image stuck in his brain.  Jackson Browne’s automobile later malfunctioned while he was in Winslow, Arizona, and he got stuck there for a whole day.  Winslow, Arizona is about 60 miles from Flagstaff, and this where “Standin’ on the Corner Park” was built to honor this song and a flatbed Ford truck remains permanently parked there.  However the real corner where Jackson Browne was standing was next to  a hot dog drive-thru on Route 66 and Switzer Canyon in Flagstaff.

Jackson Browne started writing the song ‘Take It Easy’ on his first album, but he didn’t know how to finish it.  At the time, he was living in in a $60-a-month apartment in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles, and his upstairs neighbor was Glenn Frey, who needed songs for his new band, the Eagles.  Frey heard Browne working on the song, and he told Jackson that he thought it was great.  Browne said he was having trouble completing the track, and played what he had of it.  When he got to the second verse, Frey came up with a key lyric, “It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowing down to take a look at me.”

Browne turned the song over to Frey, who finished writing it and recorded it with the Eagles, and they used it as the first song on their first album, and it also became their first single.  Frey says that Browne did most of the work on the song and that he was very generous in sharing the writing credit.  Glenn Frey’s changes to this song included stretching out the “E” in “Easy.”  He considers the song one of the most important Eagles tracks, and a great introduction to the group on their first album.

Bass player Randy Meisner sings the harmony vocal in the beginning of this verse with Frey, but drummer Don Henley is singing harmony at the end of the verse “Though we will never be here again”.  Bernie Leadon a founding member of the Eagles provided the lead guitar and distinctive banjo parts, as well as harmony vocals.  Glenn Frey died on January 18, 2016 at the age of 67 from complications of rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia, while recovering from gastrointestinal tract surgery.  ‘Take It Easy’ is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Banner, for Daily Inkling prompt – Welcome 2019!, for FOWC with Fandango – Enigma, for JusJoJan 2019, January 1st prompt – my New Year’s resolutions, for January Monthly Writing Prompts – A lifetime of laughter could have saved them all, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Resolution, for Ragtag Community – Anticipate, for Scotts Daily Prompt – District and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Resolutions.

Caught With His Pants Down

‘C’mon Marianne’ was written by L. Russell Brown and Raymond Bloodworth and popularized by the iconic New Jersey group, The Four Seasons, and it hit #9 on the charts in June, 1967.  Produced by Bob Crewe and arranged by Bob Gaudio, this single was the last Four Seasons single to reach the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the 1960s, and their last Top Ten hit until ‘Who Loves You’ in 1975.  The Four Seasons included Frankie Valli as the lead singer, Bob Gaudio on keyboards and tenor vocals, Tommy DeVito on lead guitar and baritone vocals, and Nick Massi on electric bass and bass vocals.  Massi left the Four Seasons in September 1965, and was replaced temporarily by Charles Calello who, in turn, was replaced by Joe Long.  In 1977, Frankie Valli would leave the group and the Four Seasons split up in 1979.  By 1980, there was a reunion, and the billing was back to Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, seemingly for good.  For more information on Frankie Valli refer to my post Not A Bright Future which is about the song ‘Dawn (Go Away)’.

Bob Crewe was an American songwriter, singer, manager, record producer and fine artist.  His career is among the most varied, successful and innovative in pop music history.  He is probably best known for producing and co-writing with Bob Gaudio a string of Top 10 singles for The Four Seasons.  In his 50+ years in the music industry, some of the Billboard Top Ten hits either co-written or produced by Crewe include ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Walk Like a Man’, ‘Dawn (Go Away)’, ‘Ronnie’, ‘Rag Doll’, ‘Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby, Goodbye)’, ‘Let’s Hang On!’, ‘Devil With A Blue Dress On’, ‘Music To Watch Girls By’, ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’, ‘Good Morning, Starshine’, ‘Swearin’ To God’, ‘My Eyes Adored You’ and ‘Lady Marmalade’.

Robert John Gaudio is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer, the keyboardist/backing vocalist of the Four Seasons and the quintessential music maker.  In the late ‘50s, at the age of 15, he co-wrote his first hit, ‘Who Wears Short Shorts’, for a group he started, The Royal Teens.  He then went on to become, with Frankie Valli, a founding member of the supergroup, The Four Seasons.  His song, ‘Sherry’ launched their incredible string of hits.  At the time, he also began a productive and creative relationship with Bob Crewe.  Gaudio co-wrote and produced an entire album of songs for Frank Sinatra and produced six Neil Diamond albums.

Lawrence ‘Larry’ Russell Brown was born in Newark, New Jersey on June 29, 1940, he is an American lyricist and composer best known as L. Russell Brown.  He is most noted for his songs, co-written with Irwin Levine, ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree’, ‘Knock Three Times’ and ‘Say Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose’ which were international hits for the 1970s pop music group Tony Orlando and Dawn.  He also co-wrote ‘C’mon Marianne’ for The Four Seasons, and The Partridge Family 1971 song, ‘I Woke Up In Love This Morning’.  L. Russell Brown has been writing songs since he was 16 years old, and his songs have been recorded over 1,000 times, by musicians such as Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Perry Como and Al Hirt.

Russell Brown started co-writing with Ray Bloodworth in the mid-1960s, and working for Bob Crewe, he wrote the hits ‘C’mon Marianne’ and ‘Watch the Flowers Grow’ for the Four Seasons with Ray Bloodworth.  One day L. Russell Brown and Ray Bloodworth went to meet Bob Crewe for an interview and he asked them to play a song for him.  They had already written ‘I’d Rather Go to Jail’ for Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels and along with Neval Nader they wrote ‘Open Up Your Door’ for Richard and The Young Lions, so they sang him these songs.  Three hours later after singing many more songs, they were hired and that’s how it began.

The first golden age of garage rock flourished from 1963 to 1967, but nobody used that term till 1971 and the Four Seasons’ song ‘C’mon Marianne’ does qualify as garage rock.  It is a tough pop-soul number that has a yearning melody that goes along with a strong rock and roll beat.  The lyrics hit a frantic tone as they present a man who is begging Marianne to try and understand his being unfaithful.  The music maintains the intensity of the lyrics with a fast-paced melody whose verses use taut rhythms to convey a flurry of notes which builds to a pleading chorus that caps a triple repetition “C’mon Marianne (baby)”.  The drums knock out a fast, dance-styled rhythm that acts as a springboard for choppy rhythm guitar riffs, accompanied by a throbbing bass line and spooky, soaring organ riffs.  Frankie Valli delivers an intense, carefully syncopated tenor lead that hits a wounded falsetto at key moments.  During the middle break of ‘C’mon Marianne’ you will hear a riff that sounds like The Doors song ‘Touch Me’ which they recorded a year later.

In this dismal love song ‘C’mon Marianne’, this guy is pleading with Marianne for another chance.  He doesn’t give her the reason why he strayed from her arms to have this fling.  Love and intimacy have a way of bringing us to our knees, and it seems like this is not the first time that this guy cheated on Marianne, so I think it is time for her to walk away from him, as she does not deserve all of the sadness, despair and pain that comes with infidelity.  He says, “Well now your big brown eyes are all full of tears From the bitterness of my cheatin’ years So I hang my head, wish that I was dead”, to which she should reply, “Get lost, once a cheater always a cheater.”  If he had done it just once, then Marianne could possibly come to terms with this, but this guy has developed a pattern and no matter what he says, this is a permanent thing for him.

Marianne, Marianne, Marianne, Marianne

Whoa ho ho here I am on my knees again
I’ll do anything just to make it right
Say you’ll understand, oh I know you can
C’mon Marianne

No matter what people say, it didn’t happen that way
She was a passing fling and not a permanent thing
Say you’ll understand, oh I know you can

C’mon Marianne (baby)
C’mon Marianne (baby)
C’mon Marianne (baby)
Say you can understand
My Marianne, Marianne, Marianne, Marianne

Well now your big brown eyes are all full of tears
From the bitterness of my cheatin’ years
So I hang my head, wish that I was dead
C’mon Marianne (baby)
C’mon Marianne (baby)
C’mon Marianne (baby)
Say you can understand
My Marianne (baby)
C’mon Marianne (baby)
C’mon Marianne (baby)

Marianne, Marianne, Marianne, Marianne

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Leave, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Lost, for Ragtag Community – Walk, for Scotts Daily Prompt – String and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Dismal.

Spanish For Mary

I started off this week with ‘Take A Letter To Mary’, so it seems fitting that I end with ‘Take A Letter Maria’. Ronald Bertram Aloysius better known as R.B. Greaves wrote this song.  He was half Native American, and he was raised on a Seminole reservation in California.  Sam Cooke was his uncle, until the gospel and soul singer was shot and killed by a Los Angeles motel manager in 1964.  Greaves was born on Nov. 28, 1943, at an Air Force base in Georgetown in what was then British Guyana.  In 1963, R.B. Greaves moved to England and performed under the name Sonny Childe with his band called the TNT’s.  In 1969, he returned to America to record ‘Take a Letter, Maria’ on Atco Records along with the Burt Bacharach and Hal David song ‘Always Something There to Remind Me’ that reached #27 in 1970, both of which appeared on his album R.B. Greaves.  Greaves moved to Los Angeles and began to work in the technology industry after a failed attempt to revive his recording career in the late 1970s.  Greaves died from prostate cancer on September 27, 2012 at the age of 68, but he will be remembered as a gifted man who sang beautifully with true passion.

In this moving on song, a businessman finds his wife with another man and he understands that it is time to breakup with her.  He knows that he has been working hard putting in all of these extra hours to provide a good life for him and his spouse, and when he arrives home late one night, he discovers that all this overtime has cost him his marriage.  He accepts that it is over, and he might be more angry with himself than he is with his wife.  He does not make a scene, he just packs up some of his things already having decided that he will make a new life for himself on the horizon.  He is not going to be caught in this marriage trap any more, as he will file for divorce, even though he realized that at one time he did really love his wife.  He has a loyal secretary named Maria, and he requests that she type a letter and send it to his wife and make a copy of this letter for his lawyer.  He tells Maria that he never noticed how sweet she is, then he tells her that he is free this evening and asks her if she would like to have dinner with him.

Greaves recorded this song in Sheffield, Alabama at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios.  The studio was owned by the musicians who worked there and played on this track, including guitarist Jimmy Johnson, drummer Roger Hawkins, bass player David Hood, and piano player Barry Beckett.  Eddie Hinton played lead guitar and Mel Lastie was the trumpeter on this song, both of whom were not owners.  These musicians broke off from FAME (Florence Alabama Music Enterprises) Studios, where they played on many hits for Atlantic Records artists, and Jerry Wexler at Atlantic financed their new studio.  Greaves was one of several Atlantic artists sent to Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, but the first one to have a hit there.  ‘Take a Letter Maria’ was a very big deal for the studio, which successfully competed with FAME over the next decade, but even though the South was still a very much segregated 1960s and ‘70s, in the studio racial tensions were put aside, so they could make music that most outsiders assumed was made by black musicians.

Muscles Shoals follows the path of FAME Studios owner Rick Hall, who grew up poor and whose life story is told to a certain degree in the song ‘Patches’, a heart wrenching story about a boy nicknamed patches because his old clothes were patched together that grew up on a family farm in Alabama.  He had his first hit with Jimmy Hughes’ ‘Steal Away’ in 1964, and they kept coming as FAME gathered steam with Arthur Alexander’s ‘Anna’ and ‘You Better Move On’, and Sledge’s ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’.

‘Take a Letter Maria’ became the first gold record for Muscles Shoals, certified by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling more than a million copies.  On October 12th 1969, ‘Take A Letter Maria’ by R.B. Greaves entered Billboard’s Hot Top 100 chart at position #61, and on November 16th, 1969 it charted #2 coming in just behind ‘Wedding Bell Blues’ by the Fifth Dimension lasting for 1 week, however it did spend 15 weeks on the Top 100.  It also reached #10 on Billboard’s R&B Singles chart and it also got to #3 on the Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.  His self-titled album peaked at No. 85 in 1970.

The R.B. Greaves album was produced by Ahmet Ertegun, who by 1969 was running Atlantic Records.  Ahmet Ertegun was a Turkish-American businessman, songwriter and philanthropist.  Ertegun was best known as the co-founder and president of Atlantic Records and for discovering and championing many leading rhythm and blues and rock musicians.  Ahmet Ertegun was the right producer for the legendary Swampers and in 1983, Ahmet helped establish the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with Jann Wenner, the founder and editor of Rolling Stone, Jerry Wexler, Seymour Stein, Allen Grubman, and Bob Krasnow. They approved plans for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame museum to be constructed in Cleveland, Ohio.  Ahmet was inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

Last night as I got home about a half past ten
There was the woman I thought I knew
In the arms of another man
I kept my cool, I ain’t no fool
Let me tell you what happened then
I packed some clothes and I walked out
And I ain’t going back again
So take a letter Maria, address it to my wife
Say I won’t be coming home, gonna start a new life
So take a letter Maria, address it to my wife
Send a copy to my lawyer, gotta start a new life
You’ve been many things but most of all a good secretary to me
And it’s times like this I feel you’ve always been close to me
Was I wrong to work nights to try to build a good life
All work and no play has just cost me a wife
So take a letter Maria, address it to my wife
Say I won’t be coming home, gonna start a new life
So take a letter Maria, address it to my wife
Send a copy to my lawyer, gotta start a new life
When a man loves a woman it’s hard to understand
That she would find more pleasure in the arms of another man
I never really noticed how sweet you are to me
It just so happens I’m free tonight
Would you like to have dinner with me
So take a letter Maria, address it to my wife
Say I won’t be coming home, gonna start a new life
So take a letter Maria, address it to my wife
Send a copy to my lawyer, gotta start a new life
So take a letter Maria, address it to my wife
Send a copy to my lawyer, gotta start a new life

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Trap and for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Horizon.

Parting Song

‘The Parting Glass’ tells the story of a bittersweet goodbye combining joy and sorrow in a way that is both sad yet uplifting at the same time.  This Irish traditional farewell song is often sung at the end of a gathering of friends and it is able to conjure the same feelings as the line from Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet “parting is such sweet sorrow”.  It was purportedly the most popular parting song sung in Scotland before Robert Burns wrote ‘Auld Lang Syne’.  The parting glass is offered to a departing guest, as one final drink for their health to fortify them for their travels.  ‘Mary Ann’ is an unusual sailor’s song that comes from the collection of Dr. Marius Barbeau, the dean of Canadian folklorists.  He was a a Canadian ethnographer (person involved in the systematic study of people and cultures) and folklorist who is today considered a founder of Canadian anthropology.  Dr. Barbeau collected hundreds of folktales and he recorded over 500 songs.  He heard the song ‘Mary Ann’ in 1920 in the town of Tadoussac in the province of Quebec.  The ninety year old singer, Edouard Hovington, had been an employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company, the famous fur-trading company which played an important part in Canada’s early history.  Hovington said he had learned it from an Irish sailor who had brought from Quebec by a colonel on board his yacht some seventy years earlier, which would date this back at least to 1850.

‘Mary Ann’ is obviously descended from the old English song, ‘The True Lover’s Farewell’, which is also the ancestor of ‘The Turtle Dove’ and Burns’ ‘My Luve’s Like a Red, Red Rose’, but this is one of the most unusual of the many variants.  The nautical references give it a salty flavor quite appropriate to the Tadoussac region which abounds in tiny fishing villages where you can savor and fully appreciate a multitude of freshly harvested fish and seafood like snow crab, shrimp, lobster, scallops, halibut, turbot and whelks (sea snails).

Some of the same words in the song ‘Mary Ann’ are listed in a book of Victorian Street Ballads edited by W. Henderson and published in London in 1937.  In 1856, Barney Williams an Irish-American actor-comedian wrote the song, ‘My Mary Anne’ for his wife Maria Pray.  ‘My Mary Anne’ also features the fare you well and lobster and bluefish lyrics.  Time changes everything and when a song has been around as long as ‘Mary Ann’ has been, it is common for it to have different versions with different lyrics.  ‘The True Lover’s Farewell’ was popular in both England and in America and it dates back to 1710.  This tells that same old story where two lovers are going to part and one swears to return, even if they are ten thousand miles apart.  ‘Fare Thee Well’ is also known as ‘The Turtle Dove’ and it is an 18th-century English folk ballad, in which a lover bids farewell before setting off on a journey.  Robert Burns heard a folk version of the song ‘My Luve’s Like a Red, Red Rose’ on his travels where a man who must leave his beloved compares her to a rose.  He proclaims that his love will flow until the seas dry up, because she is so beautiful.  He then bids her farewell for a short time, promising to return, no matter the distance between them.  Many of these songs have a lot of identical lyrics and similar themes.

Marianne Faithful sang ‘Mary Ann’ in 1965 on her Decca album Come My Way.  ‘Mary Ann’ is a sad piece, that reveals a sailor’s pain for having to say goodbye to his girl, which he equates with that of the fish on the hook, and the lobster boiling in the pot.  I love eating lobster because it tastes delicious, but I always feel sorry for them although science has yet to determine if they able to feel pain or not.  Pain is mostly determined in the brain and although lobsters along with crabs do have some capacity of learning, it is thought to be unlikely that they can feel pain, according to some study.  Lobster biologists in Maine have maintained for years that the lobster’s primitive nervous system and underdeveloped brain are similar to that of an insect.  As Mark Twain once said, “Too much whiskey is never enough”, but when you are mixing up cocktails, some things are just not done.  Bartenders have come up with every possible combination of gin, whiskey, tequila and vodka, but gin is meant to be mixed with ingredients that will make it taste better and whiskey is not one of them.

Singer, songwriter and actress Marianne Faithfull was born on December 29, 1946, in London, England.  She is the daughter of an Austro-Hungarian baroness and a former British intelligence officer, she started out as a singer in the 1960s when she was in her teens.  Her mother has the dubious distinction of being the grand-niece of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, author of Venus in Furs, which involves a philosophical discussion about how women’s cruel nature increases man’s desire.  Her paternal grandfather had been a sexologist and inventor of a device called the ‘frigidity machine’ designed to give women orgasms which he tried out on his son’s wife, Marianne’s mother.  The combination of these things in her family severely limited any chance that Marianne might have had to turn out ordinary and conventional.

Marianne Faithful established herself as the wild child of the Sixties leading a Rock ‘n Roll lifestyle noted for her distinctive voice, and her higher registered vocals that produced a sweet melody when she was young, but over the years her voice, roughened up by cigarettes, drink and drugs, to become evocative and captivating.  The convent-educated singer shot to fame in 1964 with her version of the Rolling Stones song ‘As Tears Go By’.  In 1964, Andrew Loog Oldham, the Stones’ manager spotted her at a party while she was still in school and launched her career as a vocalist, producing her first hit, ‘As Tears Go By’, which he helped to write, along with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

She fell in love with Jagger at the age of 18, and left John Dunbar an art dealer and her husband with whom she had her baby son Nicholas with.  Faithfull became more famous for her personal life than for her music, becoming the embodiment of eroticism after starring in the underwhelming film Girl on a Motorcycle, of which the trailer said, “You know the thrill of wrapping your legs around a tornado of pumping pistons”.  In 1969, Marianne Faithfull played the part of Ophelia in Tony Richardson’s film of Hamlet.  The combined effect of playing Ophelia and doing heroin did overwhelm her, as she began contemplating drowning herself in the Thames, while she was spiraling deeper into addiction.  She co-wrote the song ‘Sister Morphine’ with Jagger and Richards, which is said to reflect this difficult time in her life.

Jagger was in a relationship was with model Chrissie Shrimpton, and at the same time, he was cheating on her with English singer Marianne Faithfull.  Jagger also cheated on the fragile Marianne with her best friend, Anita Pallenberg, among many other women.  When Jagger left Faithfull not long after she had a miscarriage in Ireland with Jagger’s child, Marianne slowly started to fall apart.  She had problems with hard drugs, she developed anorexia and had nervous breakdowns for 15 years after.  There is a story about Marianne saying the words “wild horses couldn’t drag me away” as she grimly came out of a drug coma in 1969, which were allegedly supplied to her by Jagger.

Fare thee well, my own true love
Fare thee well a while,
For the ship is a-waiting and the wind blows free
And I am bound away for the sea,
Mary Ann.

If I had a flask of gin,
Whiskey there for two
And a great big bowl for to mix them in
I’d mix a drink for you my dear
Mary Ann.

The lobster boiling in the pot,
The bluefish on the hook;
The pain they bear is nothing like
The ache I bear for you, my dear
Mary Ann.

Fare thee well, my own true love
Fare thee well a while,
For though I go I’ll surely come again
Though it be ten thousand miles, my dear
Mary Ann.

Fare thee well, my own true love
Fare thee well, my dear,
For the ship is a-waiting and the wind blows free
And I am bound away for the sea,
Mary Ann.

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Melody, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Overwhelm and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Dubious.

Steal Away

Despite Jeff Beck’s obvious skill as a guitarist, The Yardbirds found him to be difficult to work with, because of his frequent outbursts and absences during a U.S. tour, so they fired Beck. In the late 60s, Jeff Beck formed The Jeff Beck Group which consisted of Beck on guitar, Rod Stewart on vocals, Ronnie Wood on bass, drummer Aynsley Dunbar, who was quickly replaced by Mickey Waller.  Nicky Hopkins joined as the keyboardist in early 1968, and in 1969 Tony Newman became the new drummer.  They played at the Fillmore East in 1968, preceding the Grateful Dead and they were scheduled to play at Woodstock, but Beck heard a rumor about his wife having an affair with the gardener, so he flew back to the U.K.

Jeff Beck’s finger picking technique is unique because of his fluid manner, he uses all of his fingers to shape his playing to the maximum of a guitar’s abilities.  He tends to use his thumb to pick downstrokes and his index finger for upstrokes.  This also shifts the angle of his right hand to be ideal for manipulating the volume control with his pinkie finger.  Beck even uses the edge of his palm to push down on his guitar’s bridge for vocal-like upward bends.

Jeff Beck thought his new group was a way to make crushingly, loud, heavy noise to establish the template for heavy metal, but not everyone involved agreed with Beck’s idea.  The Jeff Beck Group lacked a clear cut songwriter, which made it difficult for them to find enough material to fill an album, but they did make two, Truth in 1968 and Beck-Ola in 1969, however neither one of these albums were particularly successful.  The band members tended to fight regularly, they suffered from internal struggles, jealousies and rumors.  When the group broke up, Beck had an opportunity to join The Rolling Stones in the wake of the death of Brian Jones, which he declined and his career was not as successful as the rest of the members of this band.  Beck has won multiple Grammy Awards, and The Yardbirds were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.  Beck was also inducted as a solo artist in 2009.

Faces are an English rock band formed in 1969 by members of the Small Faces after Steve Marriott left that group to form Humble Pie.  The members that remained were Ian McLagan (keyboards), Ronnie Lane (bass), and Kenney Jones (drums & percussion).  They were joined by Ronnie Wood (guitar) and Rod Stewart (lead vocals), both from The Jeff Beck Group, and the new line-up was renamed Faces.  They released 4 studio albums between 1970 and 1973 including First StepLong PlayerA Nod Is As Good As a Wink… To a Blind Horse (which went Gold) and Ooh La La along with a string of singles having a Top 20 hit with ‘Stay With Me’.  They made it their mission to create merry music and have a real good time doing so, by living the rock & roll lifestyle to the extreme.  Even while they were still together Rod Stewart already started branching out doing solo stuff becoming a superstar in his own right.  Ronnie Lane became frustrated and he got tired of being in Faces, so he took the plunge in 1973 to go solo forming his own group Slim Chance and he was replaced by Tetsu Yamauchi.  After the group ended, Wood joined the Rolling Stones, drummer Kenny Jones eventually became part of the Who and keyboardist Ian McLagan became a sought-after supporting musician.  The Faces played their last show in December 1975.  The Small Faces along with the Faces were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.

‘Sweet Lady Mary’ came out on the British rock group’s second album Long Player, which was released in 1971.  This gospel-style ballad ‘Sweet Lady Mary’ was written by Lane, Stewart and Wood.  ‘Sweet Lady Mary’ is a definite highlight of the Long Player album, featuring very nice guitar work from Wood and beautiful interplay between acoustic and electric guitars over the background of a swirling, winterish organ that is complemented by the passionate, tender and loving vocals of Rod Stewart.  Ronnie Wood also got to play pedal steel on a portion of this song.

The word Lady was used to describe only women of a high social class or status, but now it may refer to any adult woman, but Lady also a formal title in the United Kingdom.  Lady can be used by an unmarried woman, or by the wife of a man with the title Lord, Baron or Sir.  Since Sweet Lady Mary is capitalized, I am going to view her as being some type of Royal and she does get to eat breakfast in bed which may support this.  This guy, perhaps a servant has fallen for her, but it became awkward and now that is over.  He feels real bad about how the love affair ended and now he just wants to get away.  He complains about her Spanish habits, whatever they are, maybe she talked too loud or liked to party too much.  She lied to him and he is going to quit his job and he is going to America, “Where the Gulf Stream waters tend to ease the pain.”

Sweet Lady Mary has to rest her poor head
Wakes in the morning with her breakfast in bed
I tried to help her, but I did not know how
I tried to love her, but it’s all over now
Nothing left to comfort me, except a sunny day
Steal away, steal away

Over the stones along the dusty old road
With every footstep one more tale is told
With every turning one more side to see
Sweet Lady Mary’s seen the last of me
A lesson is learnt, I’ll never come this way again
I’ll steal away, steal away

Her Spanish habits are so hard to forget
The lady lied with every breath, I accept
Was a matter of time before my face did not fit
I knew all along I’d have to quit
Anyway now, I better not waste anymore of your time
I’ll steal away, steal away

I think I’ll go back home and start all again
Where the Gulf Stream waters tend to ease the pain
And on a new day when I’ve mended the wound
Sweet Lady Mary’s gate I swear I’ll be bound
But before I sit down again and waste anymore of your time
I better steal away, steal away

Ooh-hoo
I’ll steal away-ay
Da-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da
Da-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da
Da-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Fluid, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Gold and for Ragtag Community – Grateful.

Cancel Out The Wedding Day

The Everly Brothers came from a musical family.  Don the older brother was born on February 1, 1937 in the mining village of Brownie, Kentucky, and Phil was born two years later on January 19, 1939 in Chicago, Illinois.  Their father Ike Everly was a multi-generation coal miner in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.  He would play music after work and on weekends with his two brothers, Chuck and Len.  Ike learned and mastered a unique guitar style from Arnold Shultz, an African-American fiddler and guitarist who is noted as a major influence in the development of the ‘thumb-style’, or ‘Travis picking’ method of playing guitar.  Ike later taught this to his neighbor and fellow co miner Merle Travis, who lived in the coal mining community of Rosewood, Kentucky, which is also in Muhlenberg County.  Thumb picking style is where the thumb plucks the chord and bass notes, while the index finger picks the melody.  Ike encouraged his boys to sing and he taught them to play guitar.  Don developed into one of the best rhythm guitarists around, as well as being a great lead singer.  Phil became one of the finest harmony singers in rock & roll.  Don usually sang the baritone notes and most of the lead parts, while Phil handled the higher range.

After relocating his wife Margaret and his eldest son Don to Chicago, Ike was appearing with a country group, The North Carolina Boys, on KXEL radio.  In 1945, Ike Everly and his family moved to Shenandoah, Iowa, accepting a job to work at KMA radio station.  At the young ages of 8 and 6, sons Don and Phil began to perform on their parents live radio show.  By 1950, the radio show become known as ‘The Everly Family Show’.  During the summer of 1952 the family accepted a job at WIKY in Evansville, Indiana.  In September of 1953 they packed up the car and moved their radio show to WROL in Knoxville, where they were offered a job on Cas Walker’s show for $90 a week.

Beginning in the mid-1950s, Atkins released over a hundred albums, and earned the nickname Mr. Guitar Man.  Guitar virtuoso Chet Atkins was making records for RCA and he was an in-demand Nashville studio musician who started to produce records.  In 1954, while in Knoxville, the brothers caught the attention of family friend Chet Atkins, manager of RCA Victor’s studio.  He was impressed by the brothers’ song writing abilities, and he gave Don’s composition ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’, to Kitty Wells, the era’s top female singer, who made it a Top 20 country hit that year.  He sent them to Columbia Records, where they did one 1955 session, recording four very country songs.  This is their first single, which virtually no one noticed at the time.  After a one-song stint on Columbia, the teenage brothers headed to Nashville and to the door of Archie Bleyer’s short-lived Cadence label.  In the spring of 1957 their producer, Archie Bleyer, proudly announced The Everlys’ first Cadence label single with a hall-page advertisement in Billboard magazine.  In its April 20th issue Billboard said, “The Tennessee teenagers have a distinctive, appealing sound, and could click big in the Pop as well as C&W fields.”

Matilda Genevieve Scaduto was renamed Felice by her husband Boudleaux Bryant.  She loved writing poetry, having a way with words combined with Boudreaux’s gift for music resulted in one of the greatest songwriting teams America has known. They spent years living in a mobile home, Felice writing lyrics while her husband Boudleaux was out on the road playing country gigs.  When he got back home, they would write music to the words that she crafted, and soon they had accumulated a vast catalog of originals.  They tried and failed for a few years to get a country artist to record one of their gems, mailing out about 20 songs a day to various artists.  In 1948, their luck shifted when Little Jimmy Dickens recorded ‘Country Boy’, which went to No. 7 on the country charts.  It garnered the attention of the publisher Fred Rose, who invited them to relocate to Nashville, which they did in 1950.

Their career simmered slowly at first, but in 1953 Boudleaux Bryant wrote ‘Hey Joe’ which was recorded by Carl Smith for Columbia Records and it spent eight weeks at #1 on the U.S. country music chart.  The Bryants also wrote ‘Sugar Beet’ which was recorded by Moon Mullican, ‘Midnight’ recorded by Red Foley and ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ for Eddy Arnold.  In 1957, they wrote a string of hit singles for the Everly Brothers, and their place on the country-pop songwriting stage was forever fixed.

The Everly Brothers met Wesley Rose, who was the son of Fred Rose who started a music publication and production business in Nashville back in 1942 (Acuff-Rose).  Wesley was a college-trained former oil-industry accountant, who formed the Hickory label and was very successfully releasing records.  When Elvis Presley erupted out of Memphis and rock & roll began making inroads into the country market, Rose decided to get a piece of the new action and Rose told the Everlys that he would get them a recording contract if they would sign with him as songwriters.  Through Wesley, Phil and Don got in touch with Archie Bleyer.

Bleyer liked the Everlys’ songs but he also wanted them to try a tune that he and Rose had been holding for some time.  It had been written by two of Acuff-Rose’s most prized staffers the team of Boudleaux Bryant, a Georgia songwriter who had started out as a classical violinist, and his wife, Felice, a former Milwaukee elevator operator.  The Bryants song ‘Bye Bye Love’ had been turned down by just about every other artist in Nashville.  Phil and Don were both hungry and desperate, so they accepted the song and they were paid $64.00 to do the session.  They played around with the song trying out various rhythms.  Don had an arrangement of a song called ‘Give Me a Future’, which had this catchy guitar riff in it.  They decided to put that into the beginning of this song and this start really made the difference and on March 1, 1957 history was made in the RCA studios in Nashville.  ‘Bye Bye Love’ enjoyed a 22-week run on the Billboard pop charts, peaking at #2 and it went to #1 on the Country charts and #5 on the R&B, and this record became The Everlys’ first million-seller, sending The Everly Brothers spiraling towards stardom.

The Everly Brothers third album The Fabulous Style Of The Everly Brothers was released in 1959 on Cadence Records.  The big hit songs on the disc are ‘All I Have to Do is Dream’, ‘Bird Dog’, ‘Devoted to You’ and ‘Let It Be Me’.  Today I am writing about ‘Take A Message To Mary’ from this album, which was a #16 Billboard chart hit and it went #27 in the U.K.  ‘Take A Message To Mary’ features haunting minor harmonies and this song is often over-looked.  It is a rather obscure ballad, and it is a haphazard selection, but it fits in with my current theme of writing about songs with Mary in the title.  The Everly Brothers had this incredible knack for turning a mediocre song into a jewel, and this song seems to grow on me each time that I listen to it.

This convict is asking his friend to send a message to his fiancé from jail.  He is guilty and has already been convicted, or else he would be asking for help, or he would be in need of a lawyer.  I guess that he tried to rob a stagecoach and someone got killed with his gun.  The condemned man doesn’t want Mary to find out what he has done.  He is separated from his lover, stuck in jail for the rest of his life, but he wants her to move on and not wait for him to return.  The stripped-down ballad is accompanied by little more than the clacking of what sound like stirrups, marks another stunning change of pace.  The band tapped a screwdriver against a coke bottle as percussion.  This record might be the closest that anyone has ever come to singing in perfect harmony.

The Bryants had a way of tapping into the Everlys’ brotherhood unison vocal style, but unfortunately, because of silly contractual arrangements they weren’t allowed to record any more new Felice and Boudleaux songs.  This meant that The Everly Brothers had to write more of their own songs, which they did and ‘Cathy’s Clown’, one of Don’s, became their biggest selling single.

The Everly Brothers were not only among the most important and best early rock & roll stars, they also had a genuine influence on rockers of any era.  They set unmatched standards for close, two-part harmonies and infused early rock & roll with some of the best elements of country and pop music.  Over the years they released 21 studio albums, two live albums, 29 compilation albums and 75 singles.  They are also #43 on the list of UK Best selling singles artists of all time.  The Everly Brothers have had 35 US Billboard Top 100 singles, with 26 being Top 40 singles.  They hold the record for the most US Top 100 singles by any duo.  In 1986, they were among the first 10 artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  In 1997, they were awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.  They were also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004.  Their pioneering contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.  The Everly Brothers have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked The Everly Brothers #33 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.  On January 3, 2014, Phil Everly, a lifelong smoker, died in the Los Angeles suburb of Burbank at the age of 74.

These are the words of a frontier lad
Who lost his love when he turned bad

Take a message to Mary
But don’t tell her where I am
Take a message to Mary
But don’t say I’m in a jam
You can tell her I had to see the world
Or tell her that my ship set sail
You can say she better not wait for me
But don’t tell her I’m in jail
Oh, don’t tell her I’m in jail

Take a message to Mary
But don’t tell her what I’ve done
Please don’t mention the stagecoach
And the shot from a careless gun
You can tell her I had to change my plans
And cancel out the wedding day
But please don’t mention my lonely cell
Where I’m gonna pine away
Until my dying day

Take a message to Mary
But don’t tell her all you know
My heart’s aching for Mary
Lord knows I miss her so
Just tell her I went to Timbuktu
Tell her I’m searching for gold
You can say she better find someone new
To cherish and to hold
Oh, Lord, this cell is cold

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Haphazard, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Change, for Ragtag Community – Jewel and for Scotts Daily Prompt – Genuine.

I Dig You Baby But I Got To Keep Movin’

In case you did not notice my pattern, all of my posts this week that I have written were about Mary.  I started out with The Wind Cries Mary by Jimi Hendrix, then I did Mary Lou by Young Jessie followed by Mary Ann by Ray Charles.  On Thursday I wrote about Hello Mary Lou by Gene Pitney and yesterday I did Cross-Eyed Mary by Ian Anderson, which leaves Mary Jane’s Last Dance by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for today.  This song is hard to figure out, because it is usually interpreted two different ways, being either about marijuana or a song that says goodbye to a lover, which is what I am going with.  Petty said that Mary Jane is the same character as the female that he wrote about in his ‘American Girl’ song.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers formed in 1975 and signed on with Shelter Records, releasing ‘Breakdown’ and ‘American Girl’ under the label.  Petty sang lead vocals and played rhythm guitar, Mike Campbell played lead guitar, Ron Blair played bass, Stan Lynch was on drums and Benmont Tench played keyboards.  Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, and he sold more than 80 million records in his career.

‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance’ was written by Tom Petty and it was recorded on July 22, 1993.  It was produced by Rick Rubin, guitarist Mike Campbell, and Tom Petty and it was first released as part of the Greatest Hits album.  It rose to No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming his first Billboard Top 20 hit of the 1990s, and it also topped the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart for two weeks.  This song was the B-Side of ‘You Don’t Know How It Feels’.  ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance’ charted #52 in the U.K.

Guitarist Mike Campbell gave an explanation of how this song came together and he insists that it was simply a sad love song to an “Indiana girl on an Indiana night.”   Mike Campbell said that ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance’ was written in his garage, while he and Tom were jamming.  It was called ‘Indiana Girl’, and the first chorus was “Hey, Indiana Girl, go out and find the world.”  Rick Rubin who won eight Grammys and two CMAs and worked with artists such as LL Cool J, Kanye West, Slayer, Johnny Cash, Dixie Chicks, Eminem, Metallica, Run-DMC, Aerosmith and Adele suggested that they make this song into a record.  It had actually been around for a while, just the basic riff and that chorus.  They cut the song and Tom was singing the chorus, and he decided he just couldn’t get behind singing about ‘Hey, Indiana Girl’, so they went back and about a week later Tom came in and said “I’ve got a better idea”, changing the chorus to “Last dance with Mary Jane.”  In the verse there is still the thing about an Indiana girl on an Indiana night, just when it gets to the chorus, Tom gave it a deeper meaning.

Mary Jane grew up in a small town in Indiana, where there was not much to do.  Her mother looked real fine, but she was not a great parent, leaving Mary Jane unsupervised most of the time.  In spite of this, Mary Jane learned how to handle herself, so she would not become prey for those Indiana boys who would try to impose their will on her.  At the age of 18, Mary Jane moves out of her Indiana town and arrived at this new place, wherever that was.  The boys in this new place were blown away, as they had never seen a girl like Mary Jane before.

This guy meets her and they get along very well, however she tells this guy that even though she likes him she doesn’t want to be tied down, because she needs to keep moving.  Mary Jane has this past, which she is trying to escape from, and she thinks that her future is hopeless.  It is getting close to summer, the weather is comfortable and she thinks that this might be a good time for her to move again, especially since she has already grown tired of this town.  Mary Jane feels that if she slows down her life style that will make her grow old.  She realizes that she has screwed up a lot and she says that she is, “tired of goin’ down”, which might be a sexual innuendo.  She is depressed, tired of herself, and tired of this town, but while she is still here she will put on that party dress, hope someone buy her a drink, and sings her a song.  She knows that this will be her last hurrah and she says, “Take me as I come ‘cause I can’t stay long.”

Mary Jane is looking out of her hotel window and she sees that there are pigeons down in Market Square.  She wants to have a good time in this town, knowing that this will be her last night here.  She has not gotten dressed yet, so she’s standing in her underwear in her hotel room aware that nightfall will be coming soon.  It is time for her to put on that party dress.  The next day it is cold and the guy wants to cry, because Mary Jane split and he woke up alone.  He took a hit from his last joint, then he walked to the road, thinking about his last dance with Mary Jane.  He is probably going to get some more weed to kill the pain, as he has also become tired of this town.

The award winning video for ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance’ features Tom Petty playing a mortician and Kim Basinger playing a dead girl.  It is certainly unique, a bit creepy, but also amusing as the lonely morgue assistant abducts a cadaver, zips up this dead girl in a bag and wheels the beauty out on a trolley and drives her to his home, the dead Basinger is flopping around on his front seat.  He props her down on a couch in front of an old fashioned TV, then dresses the corpse up in a wedding gown sitting her at long wooden dining room table.  He applies ruby red lipstick and they have a romantic candlelight dinner.  In the glistening moonlight he carries her to the shoreline, and dumps the body into the cresting waves. The ending is eerie as her eyes are wide open under the water.  The music video was directed by Keir McFarlane and it won best video at MTV.

She grew up in an Indiana town
Had a good lookin’ momma who never was around
But she grew up tall and she grew up right
With them Indiana boys on an Indiana night

Well she moved down here at the age of eighteen
She blew the boys away, it was more than they’d seen
I was introduced and we both started groovin’
She said, “I dig you baby but I got to keep movin’…on, keep movin’ on”

Last dance with Mary Jane
One more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin’ in and I’m
Tired of this town again

Well I don’t know what I’ve been told
You never slow down, you never grow old
I’m tired of screwing up, I’m tired of goin’ down
I’m tired of myself, I’m tired of this town
Oh my my, oh hell yes
Honey put on that party dress
Buy me a drink, sing me a song,
Take me as I come ‘cause I can’t stay long

Last dance with Mary Jane
One more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin’ in and I’m
Tired of this town again

There’s pigeons down in Market Square
She’s standin’ in her underwear
Lookin’ down from a hotel room
Nightfall will be comin’ soon
Oh my my, oh hell yes
You’ve got to put on that party dress
It was too cold to cry when I woke up alone
I hit the last number, I walked to the road

Last dance with Mary Jane
One more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin’ in and I’m
Tired of this town again

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Impose and for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Unique.