Friday, May 07, 2021

Best Mother's Day Songs

When most people think of Mother's Day songs, sentimentality usually wins out.  I've got a few of those listed below, but also some that avoid the teardrops.
Anthony Hamilton - Mama Knew Love
Beatles - Julia
Bill Anderson - Mama Sang A Song
Boyz II Men - Song For Mama
Bruce Springsteen - Wish
Carrie Underwood - Mama's Song
Dolly Parton - Coat Of Many Colors
Electric Light Orchestra - Mama
Elvis Presley - Mama Liked The Roses
Gerry Rafferty - Mary Skeffington
Gregory Porter - Mother's Song
Intruders - I'll Always Love My Mama
Jamie O'Neal - Somebody's Hero
Judds - Mama He's Crazy
John Lennon - Mother
Junior - Mama Used To Say
Lefty Frizzell - Mom and Dad's Waltz
Lenny Kravitz - Thinking Of You
Linda Ronstadt - Sweetest Gift
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Simple Man
Merle Haggard - Mama Tried
Miracles - Shop Around
Miranda Lambert - Mama's Broken Heart
Outkast - She's Alive
Paul Simon - Loves Me Like A Rock
Pink Floyd - Mother
Randy Travis - Angels
Ruth Brown - Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean
Shirelles - Mama Said
Sizzla - Thank You Mama
2Pac - Dear Mama
Spinners - Sadie
Sufjan Stevens - Fourth Of July
Taylor Swift - Best Day

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Playlist for 5/5

Cloud Nothings - Shadow I Remember
Teenage Fanclub - Endless Arcade
Neil Young - Archives Vol II Box Set (72-76)
Neil Young - Way Down In The Rust Bucket
Hayes Carll - Alone Together Sessions
Cheap Trick - Next Position Please
Sparks - s/t

Monday, May 03, 2021

An Album/Song A Week: "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" - Procol Harum

 Gary Brooker was certainly the most soulful of all the Prog Rock singers.  And "A Whiter Shade of Pale" is the most R&B Prog song ever recorded.  Brooker nicked a bit of Bach's "Air On The G String", and along with Matthew Fisher came up with the otherworldly sounding music. Keith Reid's lyrics are another story.  Some would say indecipherable.  But Reid has said it's a simple breakup song.  Others think there's more to it.  But Brooker's singing, to me, leaves no doubt about the lyrics' origins.  He sings it like an R&B singer would any other love gone wrong song.  Very passionately and soulful.

One day, when I was in my teens, "A Whiter Shade of Pale" came on the car radio.  I was driving with my Mom.  I would usually play some kind of music whenever we went somewhere.  She never said much about what was on the radio.  But that day she surprised me by saying how much she always liked that song.  Years later when I was older, and it was me driving, the song came on an oldies station and she said the same thing.  I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what about the song could have caught her ear.  I ruled out the lyrics right away and focused on the music.  It wasn't I found out that Bach was a German composer that it all fit.  The melody that Brooker nicked for "Whiter Shade" must of have caught my Mom's ear because it sounded familiar to a Bach song she must have heard growing up in Germany.  My Mom was born in Munich, 1929.  

Years after my Mom has passed away, whenever I hear "A Whiter Shade of Pale", my thoughts go back to happier days with her.  The power of music.  Never to be underestimated. 

Saturday, May 01, 2021

R&B Hits That Never Made Billboard's Pop Top 40

My latest Spotify playlist focuses mostly on an era of Chart action that always fascinated me.  R&B Hits that never made Billboard's Pop Top 40.  And the era I'm talking about, which is heavily represented in this playlist, is the first half of the 80's.  While many big R&B hits crossed over to Pop in the 70's, that changed in the early 80's.  Some of the most memorable songs from that era, which are remembered today, like "Between the Sheets", "Juicy Fruit", "Square Biz", "If You Think You're Lonely Now", never hit the Pop Top 40.  A lot of #1 R&B hits never crossed over, which was something that didn't happen much in the 70's.  

My own feeling is that as CHR began to take over the airwaves in the early 80's, R&B hits were getting left out.  CHR started to play more Pop, Rock and AC songs.  And R&B songs that didn't fit into those genres got left behind.  

So, here's a Spotify playlist of the R&B hits that didn't cross over.  

Friday, April 30, 2021

Playlist for 4/30

Philadelphia International Records Deep Cuts  (Spotify Playlist)
Women of R&B: Philly Soul (PIR Spotify Playlist)
Message In The Music (PIR Spotify Playlist)
Top 50 Philadelphia International Songs (Billboard Playlist)
Julien Baker - Little Oblivions
Willie Nelson - That's Life
Dale Watson - Presents: The Memphians
Jim Steinman - Bad For Good
Jim Steinman - Greatest Hits (Spotify)

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Predictions: 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Finally, the Rock Hall gets more women on the ballot.  That's the headline for the 2021 nominees.  And they've given us the most racially diverse list in over a decade. Good for John Sykes, who in his first year as Hall chairman definitely shook up the ballot. Seven is the most female nominees ever.  Pure elation! Now the tough part.  Getting more than a couple inducted.  Four names on this ballot were easy to pick.  After that it gets harder.  The Hall usually inducts 6, but in 2019 inducted 7.  So, for this year I'm predicting a robust 7 inductees.  I also noticed that of the 7 names chosen, 5 are first time nominees.  That seems too much, but we'll see.  Voters tend to like new nominees. 

Carole King - Most people don't know that as a performer she was nominated once before in 1989.  Then in 1990 the Hall put her in with Gerry Goffin.  Regardless, she's going to coast in now.  Also, this is the 50th anniversary of Tapestry. 2nd nomination. 

Dionne Warwick - Ok, I’ve probably bought into her newfound Twitter popularity too much. But she's as much an icon as Tina, Patti, Gladys, Aretha. And has been eligible for decades now.  Her 1st nomination. 

Foo Fighters - Dave Grohl's post-Nirvana work may not be loved by most critics, but Grohl himself is well-liked by more than enough to get them in right away.  1st nomination. 

Go-Go's - A name that got mentioned often as an 80's snub finally appears on the ballot.  Not a sure thing, but a recent documentary has brought their name back in the public eye. 

Jay-Z - Some Rap acts are too big to ignore.  Add Jay-Z to that list which includes Run DMC, Tupac, Biggie. 1st nomination. 

Tina Turner - It took until 2021 for the NomCom to understand that Tina's comeback deserved her own award.  1st nomination. 

Bonus Pick 
Rage Against the Machine - Like Dave Grohl, Tom Morello is a well-respected member of the Rock community.  So, maybe this year he picks up some of Grohl's voters?  3rd nomination. 

The Rest
Chaka Khan - Her 7th nomination, 4 with Rufus and 3 solo. She's got the hits, has sang with many current Rock Hallers and too be honest, I have no idea what more she has to do.

Devo - Cult favorites with one big hit, who may still be seen as too much of a cult favorite to get inducted.  2nd nomination.

Fela Kuti - An afro-pop pioneer. Many voters might not know much about him, which never bodes well for induction. One could make the case for a Musical Excellence pick. But I like Joe Kwaczala's idea of an International category to put in Fela and others. First nomination.

Iron Maiden - If Judas Priest couldn't get in right away, I can't see Iron Maiden doing it either. But they will do well with the "Rock" electorate that has grown over the years.  First nomination.

Kate Bush - Her first nomination in 2018 was a surprise.  A big success in the U.K., but that's never a guarantee for a Rock Hall induction. Which might keep her out again. 

LL Cool J - His 6th nomination, and I'll say it again.  The reason he keeps getting bypassed is that most voters see him more as an actor/celebrity than as the biggest male Rap star from the mid-80's to early-90's.  

Mary J. Blige - 2021's most curious nomination. The "Queen of Hip Hop Soul" is definitely a surprise nominee.  Especially when you consider that Mariah Carey has never been nominated.  1st nomination.

New York Dolls - Their 2nd nomination and first in 20 years.  Again, could do well with voters who are starving for some good old "Rock and Roll" to vote for.

Todd Rundgren - If the Performer category doesn't want him, he would be a prime Musical Excellence pick. He's got all the credentials:  Producer, solo performer, Utopia, Nazz, Music Video pioneer.  3rd nomination in a row so he's either close in the vote or someone on the NomCom really loves him. 

Also: My Personal Picks for the 2021 Rock Hall are here.

Monday, April 26, 2021

An Album/Song A Week: Carpenters - "Rainy Days and Mondays"

You had to be there, and I was.  AM Top 40 radio was a beautiful thing in the early 70's.  The playlists were diverse and whatever was charting got played.  Of course, "serious" Rock critics despised most of what got played on there.  Too soft, too Pop.  Oh, the rockism!  And that attitude earned most of the early 70's Pop artists a critical beating.  At least until those of us who loved that music grew up.  So, I never apologize for my love of Barry Manilow, Bread, John Denver or the Carpenters.

Of the names I mentioned, the Carpenters stock has risen the most over the years.  Even Indie/Alternative artists, who no doubt are around my age now, have professed their love for them.  It wasn't Rock, nor did they ever pretend to be.  But the Carpenters crafted some of the best AM radio hits of the early 70's.

"Rainy Days and Mondays", released in 1971 was my favorite.  With "We've Only Just Begun" and "Superstar" right behind.  But "Rainy Days and Mondays" reminds me of moving to Germany in the Summer of '71.  That's when it peaked on the charts and I heard it often.  But I also loved the sadness of the song.  The imagery jumped out at me even at the age of seven.  The song comes from the same pen as "We've Only Just Begun", Paul Williams and Roger Nichols.  Karen Carpenter's vocals are sublimely beautiful.  She was also living many of the sad songs she was singing.  But at their peak no one noticed her personal problems.  And we can look back and feel her loneliness on a Carpenters song like the one.

"Rainy Days and Mondays" ended up peaking at #2.  It's proof that many Rock critics got it wrong in the early 70's.  I will never apologize for liking the most uncool artists of that era.   
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