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.

Inclined To Borrow Somebody’s Dreams

On July 13th 1967, Pink Floyd made their second appearance on BBC Top Of The Pops to promote their new single, that Syd Barrett titled, ‘See Emily Play’.  Pink Floyd’s second single was originally titled ‘Games For May’ and it was recorded on May 23rd 1967, and released on June 16th and it went on to peak at No.6 on the UK chart.  Barrett’s lifelong passion was painting, and he drew the train that is depicted on the single’s sleeve.

Barrett took up the guitar at a young age, inspired by blues and R&B singers.  In Cambridge he was friendly with future Pink Floyd members Roger Waters and David Gilmour, so when he attended Art College in London in 1964, he sought out Waters, who had formed a band with fellow students Nick Mason and Richard Wright.  Syd joined The Tea Set in 1965 and he assumed front man duties on guitar and lead vocals.  Barrett originally claimed that he saw a girl named Emily, that was dancing naked in the woods while he was sleeping after he took a psychedelic drug, but later he stated that the story about sleeping in the woods and seeing a girl was made up for publicity.  ‘See Emily Play’ along with ‘Money’ and ‘Another Brick in the Wall Part 2’ are included in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll”.

Syd Barrett, founder of Pink Floyd, came up with the band’s name by juxtaposing the first names of Bluesmen Pinkney ‘Pink’ Anderson and Floyd ‘Dipper Boy’ Council. In 1967, he said, “The name Pink Floyd came from two Blues singers from Georgia, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council”.  He noticed the names on the notes of a 1962 Blind Boy Fuller album.  The text, written by Paul Oliver, read, “Curley Weaver and Fred McMullen, Pink Anderson or Floyd Council, these were a few amongst the many blues singers that were to be heard in the rolling hills of the Piedmont, or meandering with the streams through the wooded valleys.”

Fulton Allen was called Blind Boy Fuller by his manager J D Long and he had a short career as he was only 33 when he died, but he became one of the most influential and best-selling bluesmen of his time.  Curly James Weaver was encouraged to sing and taught to play the guitar by his mother,  Savannah ‘Dip’ Shepard and he is perhaps one of the least appreciated of the great Piedmont blues singer/guitarists, generally overshadowed by his  contemporary, long term frequent partner and friend, ‘Blind’ Willie McTell.  Fred McMullen was an American blues singer and guitarist that played the bottleneck blues guitar, often along with Curley Weaver and Buddy Moss.  He spent time incarcerated at a convict camp in DeKalb County, Georgia and you can find recordings of him singing ‘DeKalb Chain Gang’ with Curly Weaver.  Pinkney Anderson was playing guitar at the age of 14 to entertain the folks who came to the medicine show to buy Dr. Kerr’s ‘cure-all medicine’.  He teamed up with a blind guitarist called Simmie Dooley, and they worked up a huge repertoire of Folk, Piedmont-style Blues and Ragtime songs as they both sang their way around the South.  Floyd Council was a superb Piedmont guitarist, mandolin player and singer who recorded 27 songs over his career, seven of them backing Blind Boy Fuller.

The main inspiration for ‘See Emily Play’ is thought to be a fifteen year old girl named Emily Young, who was the daughter of Wayland Hilton Young, 2nd Baron Kennet.  She was nicknamed “the psychedelic schoolgirl” at the UFO Club in London, where Pink Floyd used to play before they went mainstream.  Emily frolicked across Holland Park to the London Free School (a kind of underground Citizen’s Advice Bureau and loose-knit quasi-university where a coterie of stimulating students, activists, poets, musicians, and would-be hippies met) with her friend Anjelica Huston.  Intellectual curiosity prompted Emily to visit the Free School and educate herself beyond school curriculum.  Her private ‘evening classes’ consisted of reading William Blake, existentialists and Romantic poets, dressed at the same time in a noticeable long Victorian style gown that touched the ground.  Syd Barrett became friends with both Anjelica and Emily and one night after a performance, they smoked a few joints together.  Syd Barrett later lost his mind, probably from doing too much acid and his band mates kicked him out of the group in 1968.

On the track for ‘See Emily Play’ were Syd Barrett (lead vocals, electric guitar, slide guitar), Rick Wright (Farfisa organ, piano, tack piano, Baldwin Spinet electric harpsichord, backing vocals), Roger Waters (bass, backing vocals), and Nick Mason (drum).  Barrett did the slide guitar work on the song with a Zippo lighter.  This Emily is living her life as a cheap imitation of someone else, following what her friends are doing, copying the way they dress and not understanding why she is this way.  Since she is not an original, she has to borrow somebody else’s dreams till she becomes her own person.  After dark, Emily cries while gazing through trees in sorrow, probably because she is not able to see the forest through the trees, because she is a follower and she will never get the whole picture.  Since Emily does not have her own dreams, she will hardly make a sound till tomorrow.  When she wakes, she will put on a gown that touches the ground, and then float on a river forever and ever, because her spirit is carefree and she enjoys playing games.

Emily tries but misunderstands, ah ooh
She’s often inclined to borrow somebody’s dreams till tomorrow
There is no other day
Let’s try it another way
You’ll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play

Soon after dark Emily cries, ah ooh
Gazing through trees in sorrow hardly a sound till tomorrow
There is no other day
Let’s try it another way
You’ll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play

Put on a gown that touches the ground, ah ooh
Float on a river forever and ever, Emily
There is no other day
Let’s try it another way
You’ll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play.

Written for Ragtag Community – Coterie and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Stimulating.

Gender Change

Ray Edward ‘Eddie’ Cochran (October 3, 1938–April 17, 1960) was an American rock and roll pioneer who, in his brief career, he had a small but lasting influence on rock music through his guitar playing.  Cochran’s rockabilly songs, such as ‘C’mon Everybody’, ‘Somethin’ Else’, and ‘Summertime Blues’, captured teenage frustration and desire in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  He experimented with multi-track recording and overdubbing even on his earliest singles, and he was also able to play piano, bass and drums.  His image as a sharply dressed, rugged but good-looking young man with a rebellious attitude epitomized the stance of the Fifties rocker, and in death he achieved an iconic status.

Ricki Page was born June Evelyn Kuykendall on November 7, 1929, in Lindsay, Oklahoma she had eight children with her husband George Motola.  She was an aspiring songwriter when she moved from Fresno, CA. to Hollywood, with nothing but ten dollars in cash, and a million dollars worth of confidence.  She met George after she got a job at a Jewish deli when he left her a five dollar tip.  He invited her to his office for an interview, but she never went because she thought he was a wolf.  Later that week George showed up back at the deli, a little upset, wondering what happened to her.  She asked a friend to go with her this time so there would be no funny business and she was really surprised to find that George was working in the office with Leiber and Stoller, who were writing the music for Jailhouse Rock and also some Coasters stuff which impressed her.  George asked her to sing some of the songs she wrote, which he didn’t seem particularly interested in, but he liked her voice and he wanted to record her, and they were a pair from that moment on.  Ricky wrote most of the lyrics for the song writing team of Page and Motola and I guess the music arrangement credit goes to George.

Ricky Page discovered these kids called The G Notes, who were three sisters, 12 year old Linda, 10 year old Nancy, and 3 year old Coleen, while she was watching them perform on an amateur show and she brought them to her husband George’s attention.  Their father, Sam Gino, built a recording studio for them in his home in Thousand Oaks, California.  Eddie Cochran and Ricki Page were both on Liberty Records at this time and Eddie became a very dear friend of both George Motola and Ricki Page.  In 1959, The G Notes recorded the song ‘Johnny, Johnny, Johnny’ which was written by George & Ricky, they released this record on Guyden.  Eddie Cochran was hired to play guitar for the G-Notes session on ‘Johnny, Johnny, Johnny’ and he fell in love with the song, so he asked if he could record it, thus the title of this song changed from ‘Johnny, Johnny, Johnny’ to ‘Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie’.

Rickie Page was an American session singer and a member of The Georgettes who were named after her husband/co-writer/producer George Motola.  She was also a backup singer of her three daughters’ group The Majorettes.  Some of the group names Ricky Page played in and recorded under are: Beverly and the Motorscooters, and Joanne & The Triangles, June And Joy, The Page Sisters (With her sister Sonya), The Austin Sisters, Becky & The Lollipops, The Crypt-Kickers, The Bergenaires and The Bermudas.

‘Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie’ by Eddie Cochran was recorded and released in January 12, 1958 on Liberty Records.  It was a minor hit for Cochran and stalled at number 94 on the Billboard charts.  ‘Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie’ was posthumously released in the United Kingdom in 1961 on the London Records label and rose to number 31.  Eddie Cochran sings vocals and plays guitar, Conny ‘Guybo’ Smith plays electric bass, Earl Palmer is on drums and it is thought that Ray Johnson plays piano on this song.

Rock and Roll was still a new sound in the late 50’s, kids listened because they never heard anything like it before, they reacted and they became converted.  Rock & Roll became much more than just music for many young people, it was an obsession, and a way that young people wanted to live their lives.  This guy has a girl named Jeanie and he likes her name so much that he always uses it three times in a row.  He invites her to dance with him and he tells her that he will teach her all of the steps including how to hop, bop, slop, rock and roll and the stroll.  He is wearing his blue suede shoes which is a tribute to Carl Perkins.  He tells her that she won’t have to wait, because he will be ready at eight knocking at her door. Since Carl Perkins also sang ‘Go Cat Go’, he says that all the cats are hoppin’ at the big five-four of which I have no clue what the big five-four is.  He tells Jeanie that when they reach the hall, that they will rock around the clock and really have a ball, which is a reference to the 1952 song written by Max C. Freedman and James E. Myers.  This song is basically about having a good time with Baby Boomers rocking their socks off, feeling the need to exult with Chuck Berry and Elvis.

Well, Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie, come and dance with me
Well, I’ll teach you every dance from across the sea
Yeah, first we’ll hop
Yeah, yeah, yeah, then we’ll bop
Yeah, yeah, yeah, then we’ll slop, rock and roll, well, do the stroll

Well, Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie, got my blue suede shoes
A pink carnation and my black slacks too
Well, first we’ll hop
Yeah, yeah, yeah, then we’ll bop
Yeah, yeah, yeah, then we’ll slop, rock and roll, well, do the stroll

Well, baby baby, you won’t have to wait
I’ll be ready at eight
I keep a-knockin’ at your front door
All the cats are hoppin’ at the big five-four

Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie, when we reach the hall
Well, we’ll rock around the clock and really have a ball
Yeah, first we’ll hop
Yeah, yeah, yeah, then we’ll bop
Yeah, yeah, yeah, then we’ll slop, rock and roll, well, do the stroll, yeah!

Well, baby baby, you won’t have to wait
I’ll be ready at eight
I keep a-knockin’ at your front door
All the cats are hoppin’ at the big five-four

Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie, when we reach the hall
Well, we’ll rock around the clock and really have a ball
Well, first we’ll hop
Yeah, yeah, yeah, then we’ll bop
Yeah, yeah, yeah, then we’ll slop, rock and roll, well, do the stroll

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Credit and for Ragtag Community – Exult.

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

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.

A Ghost Story

Emmylou Harris was born on April 2, 1947 and she is an American singer-songwriter and musician.  She has released many chart-topping albums and singles over the course of her career, and has won 12 Grammys and numerous other awards.  Harris has a powerful voice which she uses to carry her songs that are often full of vivid imagery, and there is an ache in her voice that can break your heart and she sings with an inner glow of conviction.  She dropped out of college in North Carolina to start performing folk and country music in Greenwich Village clubs and coffeehouses and waitressing at Gerde’s Folk City.  Harris became friends with Jerry Jeff Walker, David Bromberg, and Paul Siebel and she met songwriter Tom Slocum, whom she married in 1969.  Harris released her first album Gliding Bird in 1970, only to see it disappear with the bankruptcy of her record label Jubilee.  The marriage failed that same year, and Harris moved back to her parents’ farm outside Washington, D.C., with her infant daughter, Hallie.

While performing with a trio in D.C. area bars that included Gerry Mule and Tom Guidera, Harris met Chris Hillman and several members of the maverick country-rock band the Flying Burrito Brothers, who almost asked Harris to join the group, but instead he decided to recommend her to to their ex-bandleader, Gram Parsons who became her mentor.  Parsons had just begun his solo career, and needed a female vocalist to sing harmony on his debut solo effort, GP (1972).  She went on tour with Parsons and his backup act, the Fallen Angels, and returned to the studio with him in 1973 to record his acclaimed follow-up album, Grievous Angel.  Tragically, in September 1973, Parsons died in a California hotel room from a heart attack brought on by drug and alcohol abuse.

After his death, she met Canadian record producer and guitarist Brian Ahern in Los Angeles, where Harris recorded and released her solo major label debut, Pieces of the Sky, in 1975.  Emmylou Harris got married to Ahern and they stayed together for seven years and he produced 11 albums for her.  Several other albums followed, such as Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town (1978) and Blue Kentucky Girl.  In 1979, Emmylou Harris and Levon Helm sang a duet ‘One More Shot’, on songwriter Paul Kennerley’s concept album The Legend of Jesse James.  After leaving Brian Ahern, she and her children moved back to Nashville.  In 1985, Harris came into her own as a songwriter, reinvented her sound by mixing several genres in her autobiographical album, The Ballad of Sally Rose. In 1987, she enjoyed a major critical and commercial success with Trio, a collaboration with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is an American country rock band, that has existed in various forms since its founding in Long Beach, California in 1966.  The original members included John McEuen, Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden and Bob Carpenter.  In 1970, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band scored one of their biggest hits, with the Jerry Jeff Walker song ‘Mr. Bojangles’, which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2010.  They moved to Colorado, and the group’s membership has had at least a dozen changes over the years, including a period from 1976 to 1981 when the band performed and recorded as the Dirt Band.  Their 1972 groundbreaking ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken’ album was inducted into the U.S. Library of Congress as well as the Grammy Hall of Fame.

In 1990, they released a blue grass album Will the Circle Be Unbroken Vol. II, which is hailed internationally for uniting old and new singers, such as Roy Acuff, Johnny Cash, Rosanne Cash, Randy Scruggs, Earl Scruggs, Ricky Skaggs, the Carter Family, Bruce Hornsby, John Denver, Chris Hillman, Roger McGuinn, Levon Helm, Michael Martin Murphy, John Hiatt, Jerry Douglas, Roy Husky Jr., Mark O’Connor, Paulette Carlson, John Prine and Emmylou Harris. Circle II went gold in the US and Canada, and won 3 Grammy’s and the CMA Album of the Year.  Steve Martin’s 1978 novelty song ‘King Tut’, features members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Harris knew singer/songwriter musician and producer Paul Kennerley, from his 1980 concept album, The Legend of Jesse James and she worked with him on The Ballad of Sally Rose, employing the pseudonym Harris often used when she was on tour with her group The Hot Band, which she assembled to tour behind her 1975 album Pieces of the Sky.  Two members of the group, James Burton and Glen D. Hardin, were also part of Elvis Presley’s touring lineup.  Harris’ road manager would say that she was “Sally Rose”, and that’s also the name she used to check into hotels.  The fake band was dubbed ‘Sally Rose and the Rosebuds’, and for some of The Hot Band’s early shows, they would be introduced for their first set as the Rosebuds.  This album hit No. 8 on the Billboard Country Albums chart and it got Harris nominated for a Grammy.

Harris began to form a narrative around her Sally Rose character, which was based on incidents from her real life.  In the story, Sally is an innocent, unsophisticated young woman who meets an accomplished musician who takes her under his wing and they get married.  Her career takes off and his stagnates which causes their relationship to sour.  Sally leaves him, but decides to return.  She is too late though, as he dies in a car accident before she can get there.  Though a commercial failure, the record proved pivotal in Harris’ continued evolution as an artist and she and Kennerley wed shortly after concluding their tour.  Angel Band, a subtle acoustic collection of traditional country spirituals, followed, although the record was not issued until 1987.

Paul Kennerley was born in 1948 in England, and in 1976, while he was living in London and working in advertising he also ran a small pub-rock booking agency and managed an English pub rock group called the Winkies.  In London he first heard country music, the song ‘Let’s All Help the Cowboys Sing the Blues’ by Waylon Jennings.  He was drawn to country music, so he quit his job in advertising and started to develop his talents as a songwriter.  In 1983, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee and he got married to Emmylou Harris in 1985 and they stayed married till 1993.  Kennerley collaborated with Harris on her albums Thirteen and Bluebird, and Emmylou Harris recorded ten songs that were written by Kennerley including, ‘Born to Run’, ‘Diamond in My Crown’, ‘Heartbreak Hill’, ‘Heaven Only Knows’, ‘In My Dreams’, ‘Rhythm Guitar’, ‘The Ballad of Sally Rose’, ‘Timberline’, ‘Woman Walk the Line’ and ‘Mary Danced With Soldiers’.  Paul Kennerley also wrote songs that were recorded by Johnny Cash and June Carter, Kenny Rogers, The Judds, Levon Helm, The Everly Brothers and others.

His knowledge of American history was apparent on White Mansions, a concept album about the Civil War, atmospherically produced by Glyn Johns and featuring Waylon and his wife, Jessi Colter.  This was followed by The Legend Of Jesse James, which included Levon Helm and Johnny Cash as Jesse and Frank James, respectively, as well as Emmylou Harris and Albert Lee.  The album was coincidentally released at the same time as The Long Riders, a film about the James brothers.  In this 1980 movie James Keach played Jesse James, Stacy Keach played Frank James, David Carradine played Cole Younger, Keith Carradine played Jim Younger, Robert Carradine played Bob Younger, Dennis Quaid played Ed Miller and Randy Quaid played Clell Miller.  One song, ‘The Death Of Me’, was later recorded by Emmylou Harris with the lyric altered to ‘Born To Run’.  Kennerley’s marriage to Harris ended, but both he and Albert Lee have been the most successful Brits in country music, and both have found success through Emmylou Harris.

‘Mary Danced With Soldiers’ was sung by Emmylou Harris on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band album Will the Circle Be Unbroken Vol. II.  The song says, “She stepped a light quadrille”, which is a square dance performed typically by four couples and containing five figures, each of which is a complete dance in itself.  Since this dance was fashionable in late 18th- and 19th-century Europe and its colonies, that tells me that this song probably takes place after the Civil War.  Mary is single, possibly a widow or she never married, but she has a child.  She works in a mill during the day and at night, she kisses her child and then goes out to dance with these soldiers who I think are actually ghosts.  Mary is most likely a Southern girl, because the song says that she fell in love with a rebel boy who was shot and killed in the war.  The next verse is hard to interpret, “They came around to the tavern in town that night And with silent cries Mary never tried to fight They cut her hair and left her body torn Her spirit slipped away before the dawn”, but certainly things turned out badly for Mary this night, leaving everyone wondering why Mary needed to die.  Mary always carried her shawl that she got from the rebel boy and this shawl connects her past life, her current life and goes with her into death, still keeping away the chill.

She’d slip away each day with the dimming light
And with the sweetest smile she’d kiss the child goodnight
At the mill she’d work her fingers till they were raw
For the sake of her son and the daddy he never saw

Mary danced with soldiers
She stepped a light quadrille
Shawl across her shoulders
To keep away the chill, to keep away the chill

It was a rebel boy who brought her joy they say
Though the years had passed the memories stood fast each day
Before a bullet crushed the life of their romance
He gave her a shawl and a parasol from France

Mary danced with soldiers
She stepped a light quadrille
Shawl across her shoulders
To keep away the chill, to keep away the chill

They came around to the tavern in town that night
And with silent cries Mary never tried to fight
They cut her hair and left her body torn
Her spirit slipped away before the dawn

Mary danced with soldiers
But now her body’s still
Shawl across her shoulders
To keep away the chill

Mary danced with soldiers
She stepped a light quadrille
Shawl across her shoulders
To keep away the chill, to keep away the chill

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Carry, for Ragtag Community – Recommend and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Conviction.

Not Exactly Deep

In 1965, David Robert Jones changed his stage name to David Bowie, so that he wouldn’t be confused with Davy Jones of The Monkees.  His manager told him, “Nobody’s going to make a monkey out of you.”  Bowie adopted his new name in homage to Jim Bowie, from the 1960 movie The Alamo where the Texan rebel was played by Richard Widmark.  Skeptics scoffed at the four guys who trying to make a name for themselves as a rock ‘n roll band called The Monkees, because this group was developed through a casting process, and they initially didn’t write the bulk of their own material or play all the instruments on their records.  They were dubbed ‘the prefab four’, but they did have a lot of fans and some of their songs were really good and later they did take creative control of their music.  Their TV show was broadcast from September 12, 1966 to March 25, 1968 and it won an Emmy winner for Best Comedy Series.

Michael Nesmith wrote ‘Mary, Mary’ before he joined The Monkees.  It was first recorded by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band on their East-West album on Elektra in 1966.  The president of Elektra actually caught some flap once the Monkees’ version came out, because people couldn’t believe that a Monkee actually wrote it.  Nesmith said that he wrote this song to be a hit.  He never thought about singing the lead, as Mickey Dolenz The Monkee’s drummer was his choice for singing the lead on this and actually Micky sang lead vocals on some of The Monkees biggest hits, including ‘I’m A Believer’ and ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’.  ‘I’m A Believer’ became The Monkees’ most popular song ever.

This was an early song for The Monkees and it was recorded on July 25, 1966 at Western Recorders Studio in Hollywood, California before the first episode of their TV show aired on NBC which happened on September 12, 1966.  Michael Nesmith oversaw his fourth recording session as a producer for The Monkees with this song.  Michael just started writing songs, and he was trying to find a place that was between country and blues.  At the time, Michael was working for the singer and guitarist and folk musician Randy Sparks, who had started the publishing company Randy Sparks Associates after his success with the folk-rock band New Christy Minstrels.  The New Christy Minstrels 1962 debut album, Presenting The New Christy Minstrels won a Grammy Award and stayed in the Billboard charts for two years and they recorded the song ‘Green, Green’ which went to #14 in the US in 1963.

Randy hired Michael as a writer, and that is when he wrote ‘Mary, Mary’.  Frazier Mohawk who was involved in putting together Buffalo Springfield, and who let Jackson Browne stay at his Laurel Canyon home when he didn’t have any money, car or apartment took this song to the Chicago-based Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and they recorded it.  Randy then sold all of Michael’s work to Screen Gems Columbia Music, who went on to produce the theatrical Monkees business for their TV show.  They picked ‘Mary Mary’ to go on the second record.  Screen Gems delivered classic TV shows and sitcoms including Father Knows Best, Dennis the Menace, The Donna Reed Show, Hazel, Gidget, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, The Flying Nun, The Partridge Family, and The Monkees.

Don Kirshner a top executive at Colgems Records (a label affiliated with Columbia/Screen Gems), was appointed music coordinator for the TV series, and Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, a producing and songwriting team, were signed on to handle most of the day-to-day chores of creating music for the show’s band that were made up from the imagination of Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider.  As The Monkees gained confidence in their abilities as performers, they became disgruntled, because of the restrictions that Kirshner imposed on them, who had full control over what songs they would record and who would produce and play on all of their sessions.   Kirshner established a two song quota per Monkee album and he would not allow any singles to be released in America.  The Monkees were touring on the road when Kirshner put together their second album and they were not happy about having no input in this.  The producers were just trying to grab the money as fast as they could, while The Monkees were still in demand.  In 1968, Nesmith wrote the hit ‘Different Drum’ for the Stone Poneys.

​‘Mary, Mary’ was considered a highlight in The Monkees’ repertoire, one of the group’s most enduring hits.  This song was featured on their best selling album, More of the Monkees which was released on January 7, 1967.  More of the Monkees went on to become the group’s biggest album.  It topped the chart for nine weeks, and by years’ end the Monkees outsold the Beatles and Rolling Stones combined.  Hits like ‘(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone’, and ‘She’ both songs written by a Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart and ‘I’m a Believer’ written by Neil Diamond, helped made this the biggest-selling album of 1967.  The album topped the Billboard Top 200 for 18 weeks and the song ‘Mary, Mary’ popped up in five different episodes of the group’s TV series.  The Norwegians and Japanese sent ‘Mary, Mary’ all the way to their no. 1 spots, it was a #4 hit in Australia and the Rhodesians and Swedes made it a top 5 smash, however the British and Americans didn’t even release it in single form.

The Wrecking Crew, the cream of Los Angeles session musicians and possibly the best 60s band ever played on this song, with drums by Hal Blaine and Jim Gordon, and Gary Coleman as the percussionist, Larry Knechtel & Bob West played bass, Michael Cohen played piano, guitar was played by arranger Don Peake, and by James Burton, Al Casey, Michael Deasy, and an opening lead guitar lick by Glen Campbell gave this song a propulsive R&B backbeat, driving the number with an infectious rhythm from tip to tail and Peter Tork the most skilled and studied musician in the Monkees also plays on this song.  Micky Dolenz added a doubled lead vocal for ‘Mary, Mary’ two days later.

The subject matter of ‘Mary, Mary’ was not all that profound, being just a typical boy/girl relationship that was prominent in many bubblegum pop songs of the era, but if you look deeper a different light can be shed on this song, as it can also be viewed as a stalker song.  Many songs are written about love, but when this love becomes obsessive, they venture into that creepy stalker territory.  Things were different back in 1966 when Michael Nesmith wrote ‘Mary, Mary’ as years ago, if you broke up with someone and they tried to get you back, by sending you flowers, candy, calling unexpectedly, showing up at your house or work, that was just called romantic, but this is considered creepy today.  Now there are two types of people in the world.  Those who are able to realize when their relationship is over and those that keep calling, begging, pleading, holding onto hope and eventually cross the line into becoming stalkers after it ends.  You don’t have to be caught lurking around in someone’s bushes, or looking through someone’s window with a pair of binoculars, or going online to checkout someone’s profile, if you begin to plan your entire future together including baby names, then you are definitely a stalker.  Maybe the guy in this song is just a pest and not a stalker, but he is not thinking very clearly, especially when he says, “I’d rather die than to live without ya”.  This may have been considered true romance back in Shakespeare’s day, when Romeo and Juliet each say that they would rather be dead than have to live without each other, but now talking like this is crazy.

Mary, Mary, where you goin’ to?
Mary, Mary, can I go too?
This one thing I will vow ya
I’d rather die than to live without ya
Mary, Mary, where you goin’ to?

Mary, Mary, tell me truly
What did I do to make you leave me?
Whatever it was I didn’t mean to
You know I never would try and hurt ya
Mary, Mary, where you goin’ to?

What more, Mary, can I do
To prove that my love is truly yours?
I’ve done more now than a clear-thinkin’ man would do

Mary, Mary, it’s not over
Where you go, I will follow
Till I win your love again
And walk beside you, but until then
Mary, Mary, where you goin’ to?

Mary, Mary, where you goin’ to?
Mary, where you goin’ to?
Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary, where you goin’ to?
Oh, Mary, where you goin to, Mary, Mary, Mary where you goin’ to?

Written for FOWC with Fandango – Shed and for Ragtag Community – Broadcast.

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.