What a Drag It Is Getting Old

The 1966 Rolling Stones song ‘Mother’s Little Helper’ was released on their album Aftermath, which was the band’s fourth British and sixth American studio album.  The single charted at #8 in the US and it was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.  The song deals with the popularity of prescribed tranquilizers among housewives, who abused these prescription drugs to get her through the day and it warns of the potential hazards of overdose or addiction.  Jagger said that he got the inspiration from things that are happening around him in everyday life.  The song contains the idea of addiction, overdose and death, which can happen with any drug that is misused or overused.  At this time Miltown was being prescribed for everything from severely ill mental patients to recovering alcoholics to comfortable middle-class people who sometimes felt anxious.  It was an alternative for mentally ill people instead of going to a therapist to manage the worst of their symptoms.

Since the late 1800s, drug manufacturers had been hunting for a new, non-addictive anti-anxiety medication.  Opiates produced disastrous results and barbiturates were also written off as being too addictive.  Doctors began prescribing anti-psychotic drugs known as phenothiazines, but those drugs triggered severe side-effects such as uncontrollable facial movements.  In the 1950s, BZDs, or benzodiazepines were discovered.   Miltown, a Happy Pill was launched in the 1950s, and it was the first “blockbuster” psychotropic drug in the US.  In 1956, the Food and Drug Administration approved Librium, which was followed by Valium in 1963.  Valium went on to become the pharmaceutical industry’s first $100 million brand, as it rapidly became a staple in medicine cabinets, as common as toothbrushes and razors.

Brian Jones played the sitar on this track and it was one of the first pop songs to use the instrument, with the first being the Beatles ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)’ that was released a year earlier.  Brian Jones was the founder and original leader of the Rolling Stones.  He was one of the first people in Britain to play slide guitar and his love of the blues was at the heart of what he and the rest of The Rolling Stones were all about when they started out.  His musicianship, especially in the early days of the band, added so much to the group that the early Stones’ singles were propelled into the pop charts.  He was the original rock star with his fashion sense and his hairstyle, that appealed to everyone everywhere.  Many people considered him to be a genius for his multi-instrumentalist ability, being able to play anything that he picked up.  When Jagger and Richards discovered that Jones was being paid more money than everyone else in the group, they decided to take control of it.   Brian Jones announced his departure from the Rolling Stones on June 9, 1969 saying that they no longer saw eye-to-eye and that he wanted to play his kind of music, which was different from what the Stones were doing.

A business manager who does not have their client’s best interests in mind can always take advantage of a group, especially if they don’t read the contract.  Allen Klein managed the Rolling Stones and he retained ownership of the band’s entire recorded music catalogue during the years from 1965-70, which many consider to be the Stones’ best era.  All of the Stones’ songs before 1971 are owned by their former label, ABKCO, which Allen Klein founded.  Mick Jagger felt that they were being cheated by Klein and the Rolling Stones spent two decades suing him for what they considered his improper dealings.  In the 1960s, the income tax rate was approximately 83%; added to that could be a 15% supertax, meaning the British government might take up to 98 cents out of every dollar someone earned.  Klein was going to handle all of their money problems, but the savvy businessman turned out to be a swindler.  The Stones thought he was handling their money and making more for them by investing it, but they didn’t think to ask him what happened with the money and he never said, so he could keep the interest for himself.  All the royalties (both publication and copyright royalties) are somehow divided between ABKCO and the Stones.

What a drag it is getting old

“Kids are different today,” I hear every mother say
Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she’s not really ill, there’s a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of her mother’s little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day

“Things are different today,” I hear every mother say
Cooking fresh food for her husband’s just a drag
So she buys an instant cake, and she burns a frozen steak
And goes running for the shelter of her mother’s little helper
And two help her on her way, get her through her busy day

Doctor, please, some more of these
Outside the door, she took four more

What a drag it is getting old

“Men just aren’t the same today,” I hear every mother say
They just don’t appreciate that you get tired
They’re so hard to satisfy, you can tranquilize your mind
So go running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper

And four help you through the night, help to minimize your plight
Doctor, please, some more of these

Outside the door, she took four more
What a drag it is getting old

“Life’s just much too hard today,” I hear every mother say
The pursuit of happiness just seems a bore
And if you take more of those, you will get an overdose
No more running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
They just helped you on your way, through your busy dying day
Hey

Written for Thursday Inspiration #130 Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag where the prompt is drag.

Thursday Inspiration #130 Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag

Respond to this challenge, by either by using the prompt word drag, or going with the above picture, or by means of the song ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag’, or by going with another song by James Brown, or anything else that you think fits.  ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag (Part 1)’ peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100 and went to #1 on the Billboard Hot Rhythm and Blues Singles chart.  This song won a Grammy for Best R&B Recording of 1965 and it was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.  With this song Brown invented a sound that dramatically changed R&B, and pop music as a whole, for decades to come.  The title “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” ostensibly refers to the lyrics’ tongue-in-cheek story of an older man getting hip to the new dance trends.  The phrase, however, also signals Brown’s departure from the soul and the creation of funk music, which became his signature sound.  Brown rattles out the names of popular dance crazes mentioning the Monkey, the Mashed Potato, the Jerk, the Twist, the Fly, the Alligator, and the Boomerang, all over a beat that’s entirely unconducive to doing any of those.  A “bag” is slang for a way of doing something or a kind of lifestyle.  In the music industry artists were always being classified, and being described as surf music, Motown, the British Invasion, R&B, pop, bluegrass, country, jazz, hip hop or a doo-wop performer and some were thought to be a mixed bag.

James Brown is arguably the greatest artist in the history of black music, and his contribution to American popular culture with 33 years as a hitmaker is immeasurable.  He invented funk and rap, and his profound influence on music is international in scope.  Brown is the most popular black musician of all time charting 114 singles.  Brown’s showmanship and voracious performance style set him apart from his contemporaries and he was called Soul Brother No. 1, the Godfather of Soul, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, Mr. Dynamite and he was widely regarded as one of the most important figures in American popular music.  Brown began his career as a gospel singer in Toccoa, Georgia.  He came to national public attention in the mid-1950s as the lead singer of the Famous Flames, a rhythm and blues vocal group founded by Bobby Byrd.  Brown built a reputation as a dynamic live performer and his success peaked with the 1963 live album Live at the Apollo and the 1965 compilation album Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.

James Brown was far from being an angel and he served time behind bars, spent 30 years beating women, gypped collaborators out of record royalties, threatened musicians with guns, tried to steal their girlfriends, left band members stranded on the road, and he got so high on marijuana and PCP “angel dust” that he thought he could “fly like a bird.”   Brown was prone to drug abuse and his ailments included prostate cancer and diabetes.  James Brown died on Christmas Day 2006 at age 73 with his cause of death listed as being congestive heart failure related to pneumonia.

James Brown recorded this song in one take, the released version was supposed to be a run-through, but it sounded so good they kept it.  Brown still hadn’t memorized the song’s lyrics yet, so he read them from a sheet that was in front of him.  At the beginning of the original take, he can be heard saying “There’s a lot of words here, man.”   He also can be heard exclaiming “This is a hit!” just before the band kicks in.

Musically, funk refers to a style of aggressive urban dance music driven by hard syncopated bass lines and drumbeats and accented by any number of instruments involved in rhythmic counterplay, all working toward a “groove.”  Previously with rhythm and blues, rock and roll and soul music, the emphasis was put on the second or fourth beat of the bar, but when James Brown began to stress the first beat, this became the bedrock of funk music.  Brown didn’t invent playing on the one, or the rhythm of the one, as this was already a standard technique in New Orleans jazz and R&B, but ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag’ did become known as the first funk song and funk went on to become one of the most popular genres in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Come here sister, Papa’s in the swing
He ain’t too hip, about that new breed babe
He ain’t no drag
Papa’s got a brand new bag

Get Up Everybody and Sing

Sister Sledge is an American musical vocal group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  They formed in 1971, and were originally composed of sisters Debbie, Joni, Kim, and Kathy Sledge.  The four siblings achieved international success at the height of the disco era.  ‘We Are Family’ came out on their 1979 album of the same name, which was their third studio album and the single reached #8 in the UK and charted #2 in the US.  Their father Edwin Sledge was a Broadway tap dancer and their grandmother Viola Williams, was a former lyric soprano opera singer.  Atlantic Records connected them with producers Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of the band Chic and that helped them to gain mainstream success.  When Rodgers first met Sister Sledge, they just finished putting the final touches on the song ‘We Are Family’.   They walked into the studio, while the song was still being written and once it was finished, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers gave it to them and basically said, “Here it is and here’s how it goes!”  Rodgers and Edwards had a specific way of working that did not leave much space for different ideas from the artists.  The lead vocals to ‘We Are Family’ were recorded in a single take by the then 19-year-old Kathy Sledge.

In 2017, the song was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or artistically significant.”  Billboard magazine named the song #20 on their list of 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time.  Atlantic Records President Jerry L. Greenberg described Sister Sledge to Edwards and Rodgers and they wrote the lyrics to this song from that description.  The words in this song are about determination, not giving up, so they kind of fit with what this group was facing at this time.  ‘We Are Family’ became the rally song of the 1979 World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates who were led by Willie Stargell as the Pirates came from behind to win.  This song became an anthem for women’s groups and a message of unity.  It was also used an early version of a Diet Pepsi commercial, when it was called Pepsi Free, with the obvious line, “We are Pepsi Free.”

Chic regarded themselves as a rock band for the disco movement “that made good on hippie peace, love and freedom”.  They are an American band that was organized in 1972 by guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards and are currently called Nile Rodgers & Chic.  Chic introduced a young session vocalist, Luther Vandross, who sang on this song and some of their early albums.  Chic recorded many commercially successful disco songs, including ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ (1977), ‘Everybody Dance’ (1977), ‘Le Freak’ (1978), ‘I Want Your Love’ (1978), ‘Good Times’ (1979), and ‘My Forbidden Lover’ (1979).

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing

Everyone can see we’re together
As we walk on by
(And) and we fly just like birds of a feather
I won’t tell no lie

all of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We’re giving love in a family dose

We are family (hey, y’all)
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing (sing it to me)

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing

Living life is fun and we’ve just begun
To get our share of this world’s delights
(High) high hopes we have for the future
And our goal’s in sight

no, we don’t get depressed
Here’s what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won’t go wrong, oh no
This is our family jewel

We are family (hey, sing it to me)
I got all my sisters with me
We are family (oh, I can hear you now)
Get up everybody and sing

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family (get up, get up y’all)
Get up everybody and sing

We are family (I got my sisters with me)
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing (get up and sing it to me)

Written for Thursday Inspiration #129 That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be, where the prompt is family.

Thursday Inspiration #129 That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be

Respond to this challenge, by either by using the prompt word family, or going with the above picture, or by means of the song ‘That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be’, or by going with another song by Carly Simon, or anything else that you think fits.  Carly Simon recorded this song on her debut studio self-titled album Carly Simon, which was released in 1971.  Carly Simon had already released three albums in the sixties with her sister Lucy as The Simon Sisters, before she became a solo artist.  In 1968, Elephant’s Memory briefly added Carly Simon as a vocalist (before John Lennon and Yoko Ono used them as backing band which was from 1971 to 1973).  When she set her sights on becoming a solo artist, she sent out demo tapes, but she was turned down by Jerry Ragovoy and Clive Davis, because nobody knew who she was.

When Jac Holzman the founder of Elektra Records listened to Carly’s audition tape, he was impressed with her, and in the 1960s he signed on some of the big pop and rock voices of the era like Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Jackson Browne, and the Doors.  Jac Holzman signed and paired her with the 28-year-old legendary producer Eddie Kramer, who helped build Electric Lady Studios while producing Jimi Hendrix and worked with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin among others and he learned his craft from producer Jimmy Miller.  Kramer said that Carley was insecure onstage, as she had struggled terribly for years with a stammer and she suffered from stage fright, possibly because she was molested as a child, but in the studio, she was rocking it.  ‘That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be’, earned enough respect in the industry to land her the Best New Artist Grammy in 1972.

This was Carly Simon’s first single, and she wrote this song with Jacob Brackman who met her in 1968 when they were both working as counselors at a summer camp in the Berkshires (western parts of Massachusetts and northwest Connecticut).  The two became close friends with them being close in age and both coming from New York.  Jacob was teaching creative writing at a camp called Indian Hill, while Carly was the folk singing campfire counselor, so he decided that he would write some songs for her.  Most of Simon’s albums include one or two songs co-written with Brackman, where typically, Simon would write the music and Brackman wrote the lyrics.  Among the dozens of songs, that they wrote together are two top ten hits, this one ‘That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be from 1971 and ‘Haven’t Got Time for the Pain’ from 1974.  The lyrics to the Broadway musical King of Hearts were also written by Brackman, and so, too, were the screenplays for The King of Marvin Gardens (1972) and Times Square (1980).  He has also collaborated musically with James Taylor, Steve Winwood, Dr. John, Fred Astaire, Michel Polnareff and Dionne Warwick.  He was the executive producer for the acclaimed Terrence Malick film, Days of Heaven (1978).

Simon was amazed at Brackman’s ability to fit lyrics to a melody without using clichés.  ‘That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be is a song about doing what is expected of every person, once they reach a certain age.  It was written from a woman’s point of view, and it came out of a conversation that Simon had with Brackman.  He was going through some relationship troubles that were very similar to Simon’s, where his girlfriend moved in with him and he was worried about giving up some of his identity and personal space as he felt this was an infringement on his territory.  Later Simon said that when this song was first written, she thought it was an unusual thing for people to break up, but over the years all of her friends ended up getting divorced.  Carly’s second album Anticipation later in 1971, scored a modest hit with the title track and her career took off with with her third album, No Secrets, which contained the #1 hit ‘You’re So Vain’.

But you say it’s time we moved in together
And raised a family of our own, you and me
Well, that’s the way I’ve always heard it should be
You want to marry me, we’ll marry

Caught in the Spotlight

‘Stage Fright’ is the title track of the Band’s third album, Stage Fright and this song deals with the pitfalls of fortune and fame along with the terror of performing.  Robbie Robertson was credited with writing this song and supposedly it comes from an experience that he had when the Band made their debut at San Francisco’s Winterland in 1969, where he became so ill that a hypnotist had to be recruited to help him get onstage.  The hypnotist told him that if he began to feel weak when they were playing, that he should look over at him at the side of the stage where he would say the word “grow,” and that helped Robertson to regain his strength again.  Even though this can be a frightening experience, it’s also kind of addictive and this aspect fascinated Robertson.  It is part of human nature for people to put themselves in a situation that scares them half to death, but they do it anyways, as scary means that something is exciting.  Robertson said that it was kind of a personal thing for him, because he felt a connection, and this was something he needed to express.   Fillmore owner and operator Bill Graham once called this the greatest song about performing ever written.

Anyone can get preshow jitters, but being nervous is not always a bad thing, as it can encourage you to do a better job.  People can have bad dreams about having to go on stage thinking that they will forget all of their lines, as their mind goes blank and this anxiety leads to depression and loss of self-confidence.  I have read that the best way to calm your fear of being on stage is to imagine your audience naked or being dressed in their underwear, but I am not sure if this works or not.  American singer-songwriter Laura Nyro was afflicted by chronic stage fright, she never found more than a cult audience with her solo career, but many of the artists who covered her songs had great success with them.  Carley Simon had a bad case of stage fright in 1976, and she became the one and only Saturday Night Live musical guest to appear via a pre-taped performance.

Now deep in the heart of a lonely kid
Who suffered so much for what he did,
They gave this ploughboy his fortune and fame,
Since that day he ain’t been the same.

[Chorus]
See the man with the stage fright
Just standing up there to give it all his might.
And he got caught in the spotlight,
But when we get to the end
He wants to start all over again.

I’ve got fire water right on my breath
And the doctor warned me I might catch a death.
Said, “You can make it in your disguise,
Just never show the fear that’s in your eyes.”

See the man with the stage fright
Just standing up there to give it all his might.
And he got caught in the spotlight,
But when we get to the end
He wants to start all over again.

Now if he says that he’s afraid,
Take him at his word.
And for the price that the poor boy has paid,
He gets to sing just like a bird, oh, ooh ooh ooh.

Your brow is sweating and your mouth gets dry,
Fancy people go drifting by.
The moment of truth is right at hand,
Just one more nightmare you can stand.

See the man with the stage fright
Just standing up there to give it all his might.
And he got caught in the spotlight,
But when we get to the end
He wants to start all over again.

You want to try it once again,
Please don’t make him stop,
Let him take it from the top,
Let him start all over again.

Written for Thursday Inspiration #128 Limelight.

Thursday Inspiration #128 Limelight

Respond to this challenge, by either by using the prompt word stage, or going with the above picture, or by means of the song ‘Limelight’, or by going with another song by Rush, or anything else that you think fits.  ‘Limelight’ was released on the 1981 Rush album Moving Pictures and this song reached #55 on the US chart.  Before Thomas Edison invented the first practical electric incandescent lamp in 1879, the world was a completely different pace.  In the 1820s, the English inventor Goldsworthy Gurney, improving on the work of earlier scientists, developed a blowpipe that burned hydrogen and oxygen to create an extremely hot flame using a chemical compound, calcium oxide, also known as quicklime, which became dubbed as limelight.  A Scottish military engineer, Thomas Drummond, devised the first practical use for limelight, by providing a soft, very brilliant light that could be directed and focused as a surveyor’s tool, enabling for more accurate measurements to be made.

In 1837, limelight was used for the first time to illuminate a stage, at London’s Covent Garden, and theaters started regularly utilizing this powerful form of light, to spotlight specific actors or an area of the stage, as well as create special effects such as sunlight or moonlight.  The downside to limelight was that each light needed constant attention where someone had to monitor it and make adjustments to the block of lime as it burned, so when electric lighting became available, limelight became obsolete.  Since the English poet, playwright, and composer Richard Edwards wrote in his play Damon and Pythias, the same year that Shakespeare was born, “Pythagoras said that this world was like a stage.  Whereon many play their parts; the lookers-on, the sage” and Shakespeare borrowed this later for his comedy As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players;” in turn dissociating limelight from being an integral part of the stage, before it was even invented, limelight has come to mean the focus of public attention.

Every performer that walks out onto a stage must feel the limelight, as the bright lights are shining down on them.  The audience is waiting patiently for their first words, first movement, first rhythm, or first notes to be played.  No matter what size the stage is, or whether it’s a large crowd, or just their friends and family watching them, this must be unnerving.  Rush was a 3-man Canadian rock band that formed in Toronto in 1968, and they consisted of bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer Neil Peart.  They reinvented their sound with single ‘The Spirit Of Radio on their 1980 album Permanent Waves, and this made them popular.  ‘Limelight’ was written about the group struggling with their new popularity, but Neil was having a more difficult time than the others because the autograph seekers were placing demands on him and he felt like his privacy was disappearing.  It was difficult for him to adjust because he was more private than the other two members and he was more sensitive to certain things.  He needed solitude, and he didn’t enjoy interruptions.

All the world’s indeed a stage
And we are merely players
Performers and portrayers
Each another’s audience
Outside the gilded cage

Nobody But You

‘Happy Together’ is the title track from The Turtles’ third-studio album, which was released in 1967 and it reached #1 on the US Cash Box Top Box as well as the Billboard Hot 100.  It took the top spot on the charts away from the Beatles’ classic, ‘Penny Lane’ when it moved into that position.  It also marked the only time that The Turtles ever managed to reach the top of the Hot 100, although another song ‘She’d Rather Be With Me’ written by the same songwriters reached #3.  ‘Happy Together’ also made it to #12 in the UK, #2 in Canada and #3 in South Africa.  This track was certified gold in the U.S., which by 1960s’ RIAA standards meant it sold at least a million copies.  Chip Douglas the Turtles’ bassist arranged this track which helped to shape it into a hit.  His work with the group, was so impressive that he was later recruited by The Monkees.

I see this as being a happy song like the title implies, however others say this song is a wishful imagination about being happy with a girl that the guy will never have, so this is a love which is unreciprocated.  The initial idea for ‘Happy Together’ came to Alan Gordon at a candy store in Brooklyn, New York.  Gary Bonner wrote the song with Alan Gordon, and although Songfacts a music-oriented website that has articles about songs, and other sites say it is about unrequited love where a man’s feelings of love aren’t returned, none of this darkness appears in the lyrics.  The singer desperately wants the girl to imagine how the world could be so very fine if they were together, and it is possible that she is not moved by his plea.  I think these lyrics are overanalyzed when the guy starts talking about the weather and is said that he did this because he realized that they will never be anything more than passing acquaintances, so he gives up hope of getting the girl.  Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon were the bass player and drummer of the Boston area group The Magicians, a New York-based quartet active between 1965 and 1966.

After this song was turned down by a number of groups, Bonner and Gordon recorded a demo at Regent Sound Studio with some session musicians, including guitarist Ralph Casale and bassist Dick Romoff.  After the song was turned down by a number of groups, Bonner and Gordon recorded a demo at Regent Sound Studio with some session musicians, including guitarist Ralph Casale and bassist Dick Romoff.  Casale came up with the right concept for this tune which gave it a Lovin’ spoonful feel setting the direction so the vocal arrangements could fall into place.  When Gary Klein at the Koppleman/Rubin office heard this song, he immediately knew the song would be perfect for the new and upbeat image being created for The Turtles, and it was his continued enthusiasm that convinced the group to record it.

The Turtles were formed by Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan.  They were saxophone players who did whatever was trendy in order to make a living as musicians.  They played surf-rock, acoustic folk, whatever was big at the time, and in addition to their own bands, played backup for The Coasters, Sonny And Cher and The Righteous Brothers.  Volman started coming to see Kaylan’s band the Nightriders and he began carrying their instruments for them.  The first night they played, it was a fraternity party and Mark carried the instruments down the stairs of the frat house and he fell down with all the drums and the amps and everything.  After a while, they gave up sax and became singers, signing a deal with White Whale Records as The Crosswind Singers.  When British groups like The Beatles took over America, they tried to pass themselves off as British singers renaming themselves The Tyrtles.  The record company made them change the name to The Turtles, and tried to make them sound like The Byrds, who were leaders of the folk-rock trend.

The Turtles were together for only five years, they scored only three more Top Ten hits and they disbanded in 1970.  Volman and Kaylan joined Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention as “Phlorescent Leech and Eddie.  After a few years with Zappa, they started recording as Flo And Eddie.  By 1984, the Turtles’ name had reverted back to the group, and Volman and Kaylan began touring with a new lineup as the Turtles.

Imagine me and you, I do
I think about you day and night, it’s only right
To think about the girl you love and hold her tight
So happy together

If I should call you up, invest a dime
And you say you belong to me and ease my mind
Imagine how the world could be, so very fine
So happy together

I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you
For all my life
When you’re with me, baby the skies’ll be blue
For all my life

Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together

I can’t see me lovin’ nobody but you
For all my life
When you’re with me, baby the skies’ll be blue
For all my life

Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together

Ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba
Ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba

Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together

So happy together
How is the weather
So happy together
We’re happy together
So happy together
Happy together
So happy together
So happy together (ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba)

Written for Thursday Inspiration #127 You’ve Made Me So Very Happy.

Thursday Inspiration #127 You’ve Made Me So Very Happy

Respond to this challenge, by either by using the prompt word happy, or going with the above picture, or by means of the song ‘You’ve Made Me So Very Happy’, or by going with another song by Blood Sweat and Tears, or anything else that you think fits.  This song is Blood Sweat and Tears most popular tune and it was released on their 1968 self-titled album which was their second album.  This song charted #35 in the UK and it went to #2 in the US and it was the last song that Blood Sweat and Tears played at Woodstock.  Brenda Holloway cowrote this song with Berry Gordy, Frank Wilson and her sister Patrice Holloway and she recorded it in 1967 where her version reached #39 on the charts, becoming her third top forty pop single.  This musically gifted ballad singer, songwriter and violinist from Los Angeles was considered to be the female face of Motown when Mary Wells left the label in 1964.  Brenda opened up for The Beatles in 1965 when they played at Shea Stadium.  In 1969, Brenda at the age of 22 announced her retirement from the music business, and she sued Berry Gordy over the Blood, Sweat & Tears’ cover version of her single, and eventually Brenda won her case.

Brenda’s love was rejected by her boyfriend who had quit dating her, and she thought that she should write a song about being happy, because she felt this man was crazy for leaving her and she wanted to show him that he made a mistake.  She was determined to recover from being dumped, so she called Berry Gordy, who put her in touch with Frank Wilson, a key member of Motown’s West Coast creative team and Wilson had worked with Holloway before, writing her two previous hits, ‘Together ‘Til The End Of Time’ and (with R. Dean Taylor) and ‘Just Look What You’ve Done’.  Frank wrote the bridge part while Patrice and Brenda wrote the verse, and Berry was the producer and he owned the company.

The Blood, Sweat & Tears 45 was certified gold for a million sales, while their LP took the Album of the Year Grammy© award beating out The Beatles’ Abbey Road and it spent eight weeks at #1 on the Billboard chart.  Blood, Sweat, & Tears combined rock, blues, pop, jazz, and classical music forms with guitars and a horn section to create a hybrid sound that came to be known as jazz-rock.  Blood, Sweat & Tears founder and keyboard player Al Kooper came up with the idea to cover this song, but he left the group before they recorded it.  Al Kooper left after their debut album Child Is Father to the Man to concentrate on producing.  Randy Brecker and Jerry Weiss also left the group when Al Kooper did, while Steve Katz who played guitar, harmonica, and sang vocals, Jim Fielder on bass, Bobby Colomby on drums, Dick Halligan on keyboards, trombone, flute and Fred Lipsius playing alto saxophone, and piano all stayed with the group for the first two albums.  Jerry Hyman was brought in to play trombone, Lew Soloff for trumpet, flugelhorn and Chuck Winfield on trumpet, flugelhorn and they became the replacements along with David Clayton-Thomas who sang lead vocals, and played guitar.  This second Blood, Sweat & Tears LP had three huge hit singles, ‘You’ve Made Me So Very Happy’, the David Clayton-Thomas song ‘Spinning Wheel’, and the Laura Nyro tune ‘And When I Die’ and all three of these songs reached #2.

You treated me so kind
I’m about to lose my mind
You made me so very happy
I’m so glad you came into my life

Not Doing Lunch Today

The song ‘Miss Otis Regrets’ tells a tragic tale about a society woman who simply would not take it anymore.  It features a contrast between politeness and violence, where Miss Otis sends her regrets because she drew a gun, and had to shoot the man who wronged her.  She is guilty of a murder and is imprisoned and then killed by the mob, but she still apologizes, or at least is announced so, for missing lunch, as if that was more of a crime than the murder she committed.  ‘Miss Otis Regrets’ was written by Cole Porter in 1934 and it is thought that the song was originally written off the cuff as a bet, because Porter’s friends challenged him in a restaurant to turn the opening lines spoken by a waiter, thus this was written not for one of his musical comedies but for the private entertainment of his friends.  If that is true then the great songwriter certainly moved it in an unexpectedly twisted but brilliant direction.  Monty Woolley was a good friend of Cole Porter’s as they both attended Yale University and mixed with the best of high society.  Woolley was fond of dressing up as a butler and singing this song, while Porter played it on piano at parties.

Porter’s biographer William McBrien states that Porter wrote ‘Miss Otis Regrets’ for the unproduced musical Ever More, which was based on the stage play The Spell.  It was first performed on stage by Douglas Byng in Hi Diddle Diddle, which opened October 3, 1934 at the Savoy Theatre, London.  However, Ethel Waters recorded it in New York on August 20, 1934, before Hi Diddle Diddle opened in London.  ‘Miss Otis Regrets’ is a blues style song, where Porter does a wry take on some common lyrical subject matter of the genre, telling the tale of a woman who comes to a bad end after an encounter with a man.  Porter’s peculiar twist is that Miss Otis is a polite society lady, and the story of her last evening is told by her servant after Miss Otis has met her demise.  In a few compact lines, the servant reveals how, after being seduced and then abandoned, Miss Otis hunted down and shot her seducer, was arrested, taken from the jail by a mob, and hanged.  The servant conveys Miss Otis’s final, polite, apologetic words to her friends saying, “Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today.”

The song has been recorded by Nat King Cole, Edith Piaf, Marlene Dietrich, Nancy Wilson, Jose Feliciano, Linda Ronstadt, Ella Fitzgerald, Kirsty MacColl with The Pogues, The Mills Brothers, LaBelle, Bette Midler, Bryan Ferry, The Lemonheads and others.  The title of the Cheers episode “Mr. Otis Regrets” is also, presumably, a reference to the song.  Taking afternoon tea is an English custom, that began in the 1660s by King Charles II and his wife the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza, but it didn’t become a popular social event until the mid-19th century.  Wealthy American folks emulated the latest British etiquette and the privileged ladies started to entertain each other with fancy luncheons.  F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third novel The Great Gatsby published in 1925 is probably based on parties that he attended hosted by the extremely privileged people with upper-class status when he lived on Long Island in the early 1920s.  When upper class people said, “Let’s do lunch”, that conveyed the idea that they would get together to have lunch sometime in the future.

Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today, Madam.
Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today.
She is sorry to be delayed,
But last evening down in Lover’s Lane she strayed.
Madam. Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today.
When she woke up and found, that her dream of love was gone.
Madam. She ran to the man who had led her so far astray.
And from under a velvet gown,
She drew a gun and shot her lover down, Madam.
Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today.
When the mob came and got her and dragged her from the jail, Madam,
They strung her from the old willow cross the way.
And the moment before she died,
She lifted up her lovely head and cried, Madam.
Miss Otis regrets she’s unable to lunch today.
Miss Otis regrets… she’s unable to lunch today.

Written for Thursday Inspiration #126 Already Gone where the prompt word is lunch.

Thursday Inspiration #126 Already Gone

Respond to this challenge, by either by using the prompt word lunch, or going with the above picture, or by means of the song ‘Already Gone’, or by going with another song by the Eagles, or anything else that you think fits.  ‘Already Gone’ came out in 1974 included on the On The Border album which was Eagles third studio album and the single charted #32 in the US.  This album has been RIAA certified 2× Platinum and during the making of the album, the band experienced significant changes moving towards a harder rock sound, but it was is not an outright rock effort by any means, as it contained plenty of country rock also.  ‘Already Gone’ is a breakup song where the guy places an extreme importance on being the one who broke up first, as how could she break up with him when he is already gone.

This song ‘Already Gone’ was written by Jack Tempchin and Robb Strandlund, who were both friends of the Eagles.  In the late 1960s, just a few years before Glenn Frey co-founded the Eagles, Jack Tempchin and Frey struck up a lifelong friendship at a San Diego music club called the Candy Company.  Tempchin and Frey were both gifted young singer-songwriters who dreamed of fame and fortune.  Tempchin was a local solo act, while Frey worked with fellow troubadour J.D. Souther in the Los Angeles country-rock duo Longbranch Pennywhistle.  When Jack Tempchin attended SDSU, he ran a club called Backdoor in the basement of the former Aztec Center where he booked and opened for Tom Waits and that was where he met Robb Strandlund.

Robb Strandlund was a country singer, and Jack and him were both in the back room of the Backdoor club drinking some cider and within about 20 minutes they wrote this song.  Tempchin really liked it so he took it to a coffee house called The Alley in Escondido where Jackson Browne was playing.  He didn’t really know Jackson all that well, but he went up to him and said, “Hey man, you’ve got to play this song with me on stage.”  Jackson played ‘Already Gone’ and then Tempchin sent this to Glenn Frey to pitch it to the Eagles.  A few years later Glenn Frey called Tempchin from the studio and said, “Hey that country song… I think it’s a really a great rock n’ roll song.”  He held the phone up to the speakers in the studio and there was ‘Already Gone’.  JD Souther and Glenn Frye were roommates in the Silverlake area of LA and Jackson Browne was their downstairs neighbor.

Frey had just come off of a relationship, so the lyrics about getting over a breakup were probably meaningful to him.  Frey sang lead on this and twin guitar solos were done by Frey and Don Felder, who was new to the band.  This was one of the first songs the Eagles recorded with producer Bill Szymczyk.  Their previous albums, and some of On The Border, were recorded in London with the venerable British producer Glyn Johns.  Recording with a new producer at nearby Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles was a huge relief for Glenn Frey, who didn’t get along well with Johns.  Frey indicated that he was much more comfortable in the studio with Bill, and recording ‘Already Gone’ made him feel free.

Well, I heard some people talkin’ just the other day
And they said you were gonna put me on a shelf
But let me tell you I got some news for you
And you’ll soon find out it’s true
And then you’ll have to eat your lunch all by yourself