Classic Rock And Pop Music Blog

Month: December 2021

I Won’t Forget You – Tribute to my brother Bob

Out of the blue, on December 28, 1989, my younger brother Bob and one of his friends died tragically in a house fire.  Today is thus the 32 anniversary of that awful, life-changing day.  My younger brother lived life loud and large.  He was a mid to late 80’s hair metal music fan, and got me listening to the likes of Motley Crue, Ratt, Cinderella, Tesla, Dokken, and even Ygwie Malmsteen.

He also liked a range of artists in other genres, such as Elton John’s pop, Duran Duran’s techno-pop, Van Halen and Bon Jovi’s hard rock.  He actually went to Live Aid in Philadelphia in 1985 with me, my brother, and my Uncle Joey, who had attended Woodstock when just 16, which I think helped give him a bigger appreciation of some of the bands of the 70’s and 80’s that were perhaps a bit before his time.

Uncle Joey & Bob awaiting entry to Live Aid ’85

As I have previously related in my blog (see October 6, 2021 blog “Dance With My Father & Big Bad John – Tribute to Dad”) music has the ability to comfort, console, and heal.  I had previously shared a playlist of music that reminded me of my dad or helped me process my grief after his death.  Again I will cite Albert Einstein, “I often think in music.  I live my daydreams in music.  I see my life in terms of music.”  So it is not surprising that after my brother died, I found it therapeutic to make a mixed tape (pre-music streaming or even CD burning) of music that he liked and/or somehow seemed fitting for dying unexpectedly at a young age in a house fire. 

I titled the cassette “Out Of The Blue” after the David Gilmour song of the same name. The first 22 songs of this now 130+ song playlist comprised the original cassette tape offerings. The rest of the songs were added to the Spotify playlist as popular songs by many of his favorite artists. “Out Of The Blue” summarized my grief and emotions soon after the fire and loss of my brother:

Out of the blue on the wings of a dove
A messenger comes, with the beating of drums
It’s not a message of love

Our children are born, and we keep them warm
They must have the right, to live in the light
To be safe from the storm

Out of the blue, with wings on his heels
A messenger comes, bearing regrets
For the time that he steals

But steal it he will, my children’s and mine
Against our desires, against all our needs
Our blood spilled like wine
Over and over we call, no one hears
And further and further and further we fall
And though we pray that we soon will awake
It is clear, that it’s no dream at all
Our lives are at stake

I cannot believe, nor even pretend
That the thunder I hear, will just disappear
And the nightmare will end

So hold back the fire, because this music is true
When all’s said and done, the ending will come
From out of the blue

And with losing him to a house fire, Bon Jovi’s “Silent Night” was too hauntingly familiar:

After the smoke clears
When it’s down to you and I
When the sun appears
And there’s nothing left but good-byes
We’ll just turn and walk away
How could we let it end like this
Just turn and walk away
Should we seal it with a kiss”

Also fitting was a song he had quoted in some of his writings, Yngwie Malmsteen’s “Dreaming (Tell Me):

“Shades of night, fall upon my eyes 
Lonely world fades away 
Misty light, shadows start to rise 
Lonely world fades away. 

In my dreams your face is all I see 
Through the night you share your love with me.

Dreaming visions of you 
Feeling all the love I never knew.”

As a teen who turned his life around, deciding to put effort into his repeating senior year of high school, improving from failing most classes to strait A’s, this song, by Led Zep drummer John Bonham’s son Jason’s band Bonham seemed fitting:

“Walking down that road
Of no tomorrows
Spend up my time
Living for today
Well, I got a long way to go
And I know it ain’t easy
But that’s okay

Lookin’ at my dreams
Oh so near
To where I want to be once again
I’m gonna hold on with all the rest I’m givin’ in
Oh, you gotta fight to win

Oh, doncha think about it
What you could
What you could do with your life
Oh, you must think about it
Sometimes, sometimes

Keep it up
Up so high
Reach for the sky
Never give up
Keep it up
Up so high
Reach for the sky
Never give up”

Poison’s  “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” maintained the sorrowful mood:

“Every rose has its thorn
Just like every night has its dawn
Just like every cowboy sings his sad, sad song
Every rose has its thorn

Though it’s been a while now
I can still feel so much pain
Like a knife that cuts you the wound heals
But the scar, that scar remains”

And a verse of “I Won’t Forget You” seemed appropriate as well:

“… Late at night I close my eyes
And think of how things could have been
And when I look back
I remember some words you had said to me

… It’s better to have lost at love
Then never to have loved at all

… I won’t forget you baby
(I won’t forget you)”

A few lines of Cinderella’s “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Till It’s Gone)” again seemed fitting.

“I can’t feel the things that cause you pain
I can’t clear my heart of your love, it falls like rain
Ain’t the same

I hear you calling far away
Tearing through my soul, I just can’t take another day”

“Nobody’s Fool” is yet another of their great power ballads:

Rounding out the mid-80’s hair band of Poison and Cinderella were Motley Crue (video further below) and Ratt, with their video “Round And Round” featuring old-school comedian Milton Berle.  The song has been featured in the series “Supernatural” and “Stranger Things,” and video games Grand Theft Auto and Guitar Hero.

He introduced me to Yngwie Malmsteen, whose neoclassical playing style in heavy metal.  Be sure to give a listen to “Arpeggios From Hell” on the Spotify playlist.  His “Rising Force” video is spectacular. And “Heaven Tonight” is probably Yngwie’s most popular song (I had embedded a few Yngwie videos but he took them down – I guess he’s one of those artists who doesn’t want someone to gain an audience from his music, though I see it as free advertising for him, trying to draw him a bigger audience – se la vi…)

And from Breakfast Club, Simple Minds‘ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” seemed appropriate.

Bon Jovi‘s “Wanted, Dead or Alive”:

Queen‘s “Who Wants To Live Forever” from Highlander, such a good cult movie of the 80’s, a must watch if you haven’t seen it.

Def Leppard‘s “Rock Of Ages”, which is, interestingly enough, quoted in “Highlander” when the gorgon says “I’ve got something to say – it’s better to burn out than fade away”:

My older brother and I along with some friends took Bob when he was around 10 years old to see “American Werewolf in London.”  He was so terrified that he was in tears, and I had to take him to the lobby of Vernon Cine and call home on a pay phone (well before the time of cell phones) and have my mom and dad come pick him up.

Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” is prominently featured in the movie, as well as CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising”:

Fast forward a few years, and he couldn’t get enough of scary and even slasher movies.  Halloween became his favorite holiday (even once dressing as a street walker), followed closely by Christmas. 

Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was an early favorite of his (he even had a MJ phase of dressing for a bit!):

Then zombie movies (or dressing like a zombie, above), featured in Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself”:

And eventually even Freddie Kruger couldn’t scare him.  He not only liked the movie, but also the band Dokken, who’s song “Dream Warriors” was prominently featured:

After his dog “Skippy” died when he was younger, he found solace in Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues” which featured Stevie Wonder on harmonica. He also liked Elton’s “Sad Songs Say So Much” on the follow-up album a few years later:

He also loved Duran Duran.  The “Hungry Like The Wolf” video was filmed in Sri Lanka, with a distinctively “Raiders of the Lost Ark” vibe, and won the very first Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video in 1984:

Bob also had an attraction to girls, and vice versa.  He was a true chick magnet.  He loved girl videos, part of the decade of excess misogynistic 80’s.  Such videos included:

Motley Crue‘s “Girls, Girls, Girls”:

ZZ Top‘s “Legs” (I remember him asking me to guess who was singing “Rough Boy”, and it blew me away that it was ZZ Top, not their characteristic southern rock/blues sound):

Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher”, a video which almost every teen guy in the 80’s couldn’t get enough of.  David Lee Roth was debauched, but made it seem so lighthearted and funny and innocent that he got away with his sexist, irreverent humor, probably wouldn’t be able to this day in age:

David Lee Roth with his solo offering “California Girls”, a remake of the Beach Boys classic:

I will be seeing David Lee Roth for his last hurrah, his last concerts at House Of Blues in Las Vegas New Years Eve.  I heard that the last Van Halen tour, before Eddie died, that the band and Sammy Hagar was great, but David was awful, usually drunk, forgetting the lyrics, a big mess.  I am hopeful that he realizes that he needs to leave on a high note, and Mandalay Bay and House of Blues will try to keep him in line and sober to wow the audience on his last go-round.  I’ll update the blog post after the concert.

The last few songs on the list seemed to fit the theme of the tribute, though they were released a year or two after he died, including Poison’s “Something To Believe In,” Ozzy’s “Mama, I’m Coming Home,” and Queensryche’s “Silent Lucidity.”  I know they are songs my brother would have loved.

I do worry about the burden the fire has placed on my older brother John, and Bob’s friends Craig and Justin, narrowly escaping the ravages of the fire, and unable to aid Bob and Michael despite their efforts. I fear it weighs heavily on their hearts, though it was not their fault. It was out of their control. Yet they likely carry the weight and trauma of the tragedy with them still. This scene from the Netflix series “Daredevil”, where Matt states “God’s plan is like a beautiful tapestry, and the tragedy of being human is that we only get to see it from the back, with all the ragged threads and muddy colors. We only get a hint of the true beauty that would be revealed if we could see the whole pattern on the other side as God does” can help us make sense of such tragedies in life.

I miss him, and think of him often.  I sometimes wonder what he’d be doing had he lived.  While we didn’t always see eye to eye, toward the end we appreciated each others’ talents and gifts.  He was large (over 6’ 1”, to my 5’ 4”), loud, obnoxious, funny, caring, and troubled, but he was changing, evolving, excelling, and finding direction, just in time for dying an untimely death.  He lived life to its fullest, cramming a lot into his 19 years of life.  It was as though he knew he didn’t have a full lifetime to live.  As the cars processed from the church to the cemetery for his funeral, half the procession took a wrong turn.  I think he had the last laugh.

And now for the playlist – pretty killer of hair-band songs and then some from the 80’s.  Here to lots of great memories of a larger than life personality, my younger brother Bob.

Keep The FAITH – “Faith” Songs on Christmas Day!

On December 25, 1954 Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” entered the Billboard Pop chart for the 11th time.  His rendition has sold over 100 million copies word wide.

It was the largest selling single in music history until it was surpassed by Elton John’s “Candle In The Wind 1997” tribute to Princess Diana.

On this day in 1995, actor, singer, and TV host Dean Martin died.  This song, made more famous by the movie “Moonstruck,” reminds me of many a Christmas dinner with my Italian family:

On the same day in 2008 actress, singer and cabaret star Eartha Kitt died.  In addition to being the first “Catwoman” opposite Adam West, she is perhaps best known for the Christmas song “Santa Baby”:

And on December 25, 2016 we lost George Michael.  First catapulted to fame with Wham, with songs like “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go,” “Everything She Wants,” “Heartbeat,” “Freedom,” “Credit Card Baby,” “Careless Whisper,” he then experienced significant solo success, including songs like “I Want Your Sex” and “Faith,” the latter the theme for today’s blog, songs with the word “Faith” in the title (by sheer coincidence, he is walking along side Elton John on the way to Princess Diana’s funeral in the “Candle In The Wind/Goodbye English Rose” video above).  George, though later coming out as gay, was a heartthrob to almost every girl in the ‘80s:

In a fashion fitting for Christmas, Trans Siberian Orchestra starts off the playlist with Faith Noel.

I wish everyone a Christmas season and year filled with peace, love, joy, and hope.

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment.

Enjoy the moment.

Love the moment.

Listen to the MUSIC!

Favorite SONG & Good Country SONG – “Song” Songs

On December 19, 1970, Elton John’s first US hit “Your Song” entered the Billboard Hot 100, where it went on to reach number eight.  The song had already been recorded and released by Three Dog Night – who knew?  And The Hollies has been offered the song and turned it down – that was a mistake!  The song on his eponymous album, actually not his first, but second album, with “Empty Sky” being released a year prior.  While I already owned the vinyl of this album, I remember purchasing and listening to the digitally remastered CD version and being absolutely blown away.  The album has such amazing orchestral pieces and great music, including, in addition to “Your Song,” “I Need You To Turn To,” “Take Me To The Pilot,” “Sixty Years On,” “Border Song,” “The Greatest Discovery,” and “The King Must Die.”  Do yourself a favor and give this album a listen.  You won’t be sorry.

“Your Song” is among the inspirations for this week’s word playlist “Favorite SONG” featuring songs containing the word “song” or “songs” in the title. To be clear, these aren’t my favorite songs in general, as that will be the topic of a future playlist. The title of the playlist is borrowed from a TobyMac song of the same title included in the list.  Of note, TobyMac, a Christian rap and hip hop artist with DC Talk and solo, has sold over 10 million albums, had six No.1 Contemporary Hit Radio as well as Billboard Chrisitan singles, and won 7 Grammy Awards. Here’s one of Toby’s more recent hits:

In addition to “Your Song” Elton has five other songs on the list, including “Border Song,” “Michelle’s Song,” “Love Song,” “Sad Songs Say So Much,” and “Song For Guy.”  Check out this version of “Your Song” live in Central Park in 1980.  It’s not every day that you see a pop star singing dressed as a duck and quacking!

Led Zeppelin appears on the almost as often as Elton, with 5 offerings, including “Immigrant Song”, which lent itself to one of the greatest movie opening scene song pairings ever in “Thor Ragnarock”:

Also included are Zep’s “The Wanton Song,” “The Rain Song,” “The Lemon Song,” and “The Song Remains The Same.”  If you want to watch a great 70’s live rock concert video, check out the movie “The Song Remains The Same” with Plant, Page, Jones, and Bonham in their heyday.  Two of the songs included here, featuring Jimmy on his doubleneck Gibson SG, made famous as his electric guitar used for his masterful licks on “Stairway To Heaven.”  Both “The Song Remains The Same” and “The Rain Song” are featured here:

And by nature of the word, a title that includes the word “song” may be a song about something that does not include the word song in the lyrics.  Simon & Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song” and “Kathy’s Song” as well as Supertramp’s “Logical Song,” Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song),” Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song,” John Denver’s “Annie’s Song,” Anne Murray’s “Danny’s Song,” Bob Dylan’s “Percy’s Song” and many others, in addition to some instrumentals that obviously contain no words, “song” or otherwise!  Who can forget this memorable use of Harry Belefonte’s “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” in the movie “Beetlejuice”?

With Tesla’s “Love Song” video, again not containing “song” in its lyrics, you can see Jimmy Page’s influence on rock, with another doubleneck Gibson 6 and 12 string SG:

One of the real hidden gems is Leon Russell’s “A Song For You.”  While I’m certain I heard this song years ago, I , somehow forgot about it, until researching for this playlist.  Give a listen to it early in his career:

Then fast forward 40 years, at his induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, accompanied by John Mayer, who my son calls the greatest guitarist of his generation, and listening to this, he’s not wrong.  And Leon can still tickle the ivories, and has his same singing chops:

Some Broadway musical greats included are songs from “Song and Dance,” “RENT”, and “West Side Story,” the latter of which is very timely given the new version of this Sondheim musical just released, even more fitting given Stephen Sondheim’s recent passing.  Here’s the original version of “The Jet Song”:

Also, a shout out to The Dartmouth Aires, the all-male acapella singing group of my alma mater Dartmouth College.  I still have an old cassette with some of their greats, including “Up The Ladder To The Roof,” “Peg,” and “Shamma Lamma Ding Dong.”  They also of course sang our traditional college songs, two of which are included here, “Twilight Song” and “Hanover Winter Song.”  The Aires finished runner-up to none other than Pentatonix on “Sing Off” several years back.  Though I am obviously biased, I think they actually should have won, but it’s hard to give a contract to a college group that will change from year to year, or in Dartmouth’s case term to term.  You be the judge:

There is one song on the list without the word “song” in the title but feature the word so prominently in its lyrics that I included it – the Carpenters “Sing.”  My kids had an Elmo video where he and his Sesame Street pals were searching for “la-laers” (people to sing “la la la la la, la la la la la la, la la la la la la la…” – if your kids had the video, you know what I’m talking about, else listen to the song, and you’ll understand). Alas I couldn’t find that version, but you’ll have to settle for this compliation, which is cool in its own right:

So there’s a song for everyone, pun intended! Here’s the playlist.  I hope you enjoy it:

I also made a country counterpart, though nowhere near as extensive – I’m happy as always to take suggestions for additions:

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment.

Enjoy the moment.

Love the moment.

Listen to the MUSIC!

Bluer Than BLUE – “Blue” Songs

On December 11, 1961, Elvis Presley started a 20 week run at No.1 on the US album chart with “Blue Hawaii,” his 7th number one album.  I though I’d let this serve as the theme for this week’s playlist, “Bluer Than Blue,” songs featuring the word blue, but not blues. Having returned from a Hawaiian vacation a few months ago, it is wild to see the island relatively undeveloped back in 1961.

Even more wild is the trailer for the movie:

I actually included Willie Nelson’s version of the song on the playlist.  When I was younger I didn’t really appreciate Willie’s appeal and talent.  But I’ve come around…. Elvis does get a nod or two with “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Blue Moon Of Kentucky,” as well as the videos in the post.

When LeAnn Rimes recorded “Blue” she was only 13 years old!  I remember being blown away.  A country classic right up there with Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” (featured in my “Lets Go CRAZY” playlist).

Linda Ronstadt appears SEVEN times on the list with including her first band, the Stone Ponys, solo, then as part of a trio with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris.  She commented early in her career “they haven’t invented a word for that loneliness that everybody goes through on the road,” thus her blue mood.  Early in her career she performed with the Doors, Neil Young, and Jackson Browne.  In the early ‘70s her back up band included Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Meisner, who went on to form the Eagles. Not a shabby back up band!

Ronstadt often referred to as “The First Lady of Rock” and “Queen of Rock” became the first female “arena class” rock star.  She was the top selling female artist of the ‘70s and one of the top grossing concert artists of the decade.  She appeared six times on the cover of Rolling Stone as well as on the covers of Newsweek and Time.

Elton John, who figures significantly in my piano and keyboard greats playlists “Piano Man” and “Put Me On” appears SIX times.  Later in Elton’s careen he became involved in several musical soundtracks, including “The Lion King,” “Aida,” “The Road To El Dorado,” and “Gnomeo and Juliet.”   Featured here is “Someday Out Of The Blue” from “El Dorado.”

So I hope these songs don’t make you too blue.  If they do, try ending with ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” which is bound to cheer you up:

Sun is shinin’ in the sky

There ain’t a cloud in sight

It stopped rainin’ everybody’s in the play

And don’t you know

It’s a beautiful new day, hey hey

And now for the playlist:

I hope that this music and my blog truly serve as a “revival: a new presentation of something old,” a springboard to return to the music of your youth, or perhaps to find artists you want to discover anew.  Rediscover the passion of music in your life.

Live in the moment.

Enjoy the moment.

Love the moment.

Listen to the MUSIC!

Stairway To Heaven & The Wrong Side Of Heaven – “Heaven” songs, with bonus A Child’s Christmas

On December 4, 1971, Led Zeppelin started a 2 week run at No.1 on the UK chart with “Led Zeppelin IV.”  The album, featuring “Stairway to Heaven” stayed on the US chart for 5 years, selling over 23 million copies in the US alone.  In tribute to this album and song, this week’s playlist is dedicated to songs featuring the word Heaven in their title. 

If you never caught Heart’s tribute to Led Zeppelin and “Stairway To Heaven” at The Kennedy Center Honors, give it a watch.  It is very moving to see Robert Plant tear up sitting next to his mates Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, with John Bonham’s son Jason on drums and Ann Wilson on vocals, her sister Nancy on guitar, with a choir backing.  Just spectacular.

“Stairway To HEAVEN” includes the iconic Zep song, but many other heavenly heaven songs as well.  Who can forget my opener, Bryan Adams “Heaven” played at every high school dance?  The Psychedelic Furs, Warrant, and Los Lonely Boys also with great songs of the same name.  While Meat Loaf feels heaven can wait, Belinda Carlisle sings of heaven as a place on earth, and poor Bruno Mars is locked out of heaven.  The playlist gets a little edgy, with Guns N’ Roses knockin’ on heaven’s door, and the appearance of some less common artists for my playlists, including some grunge, with Temple of the Dog and Alice In Chains.  My follow-up playlist, “The Wrong Side Of HEAVEN,” as there were just too many songs for one, is a B-list, of sorts, with less popular heaven songs.  It includes even more grunge and alternative rock with 3 Doors Down, My Chemical Romance, Audioslave, Marilyn Manson, Five Finger Death Punch, and Theory Of A Deadman and some hard rock/metal with Def Leppard, Kiss, and Black Sabbath.  I have yet to refine and organize the second list, a work in progress – assistance, advice, and opinions are always appreciated.

I hope you enjoy these heaven songs.  And suggestions and assistance in refining the playlists are always welcome!

I realized over the past week that last week’s blog and playlists neglected to include the Christmas songs of my childhood, from Christmas cartoons, released from the mid-60’s to 70’s, which we anxiously awaited every year on TV, prior to the days of cable TV or VCRs.  We couldn’t wait to see “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Santa Claus is Coming To Town,”  “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty The Snowman,” “The Year Without A Santa Claus,” and “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” They were magical, in part due to the charm of their artistry and musicality, but also given the elusiveness of their availability.  I included some of my favorite songs, as well as some songs from John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together” and “Alvin & The Chipmunks Christmas,” the latter whose songs we heard as kids, though the movie, as well as the Muppets movie wasn’t produced until my teen years.  These songs are fun, and bring back a little of the childhood magic of Christmas. Some great video clips of these movies are presented below – alas we don’t have to be at the mercy of the once-a-year showing of major network TV schedules to watch these now.

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (1964):

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (1966):

The Year Without A Santa Claus (1974):

Frosty The Snowman (1969):

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (1970):

Alvin & The Chipmunks Christmas (Album 1959, movie 1980):

John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together (1979):

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965):

So whether your wrapping Christmas gifts, traveling in the car to see the relatives for Christmas, snuggling by the fire awaiting Santa and his sleigh, or opening presents on Christmas morning, consider streaming this playlist, setting the mood, and lifting your spirits for truly the most wonderful time of the year.

Relive your childhood!  Bring back the magic of CHRISTMAS!

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