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Golden YEARS – Happy New Year! – YEAR/S Songs

What better theme for a New Year’s Eve music blog than the word year. As we usher out the old year, and in the new, may listening to great music perhaps be one of your resolutions, and compared to many we make, an easy one to achieve.

Caesar instituted January 1 as the first day of the year, partly to honor the month’s namesake: Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, whose two faces allowed him to look back into the past and forward into the future. Romans celebrated by offering sacrifices to Janus, exchanging gifts with one another, decorating their homes with laurel branches, and attending raucous parties.

So hopefully no sacrifices, apart from resolutions on becoming better versions of ourselves. And while perhaps not so raucous, attending parties, eating special New Year’s foods, and watching fireworks displays may be part of our celebration.

While I thought seeing the fireworks for the 4th of July celebration in Washington D.C. was impressive, they couldn’t hold a candle to the displays put on by the citizens of Oahu for New Years Eve. Households all around the island put on displays for all to enjoy, starting between 6 and 7 pm and typically lasting until 1 or 2 in the morning, with finales lasting upwards of an hour. This is just a hint of what the New Years celebration in Oahu are like:

Some year/s greats include “The Year of the Cat,” “100 Years,” “Still Crazy After All These Years,” “Golden Years” which provides the title for the blog, “Reelin’ In The Years,” “New Years Day,” “All Those Years Ago,” among many others. The word also plays well into songs about Christmas and the New Year. I did include 2 songs that don’t include year in the title, with Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” which includes the iconic line “We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl year after year,” as well as Ten Years After’s “I’d Love To Change The World,” with credit for year in the band’s name. They both seemed worth of inclusion.

Simon & Garfunkel’s concert in Central Park in 1981, with an audience of ½ million people, saw the duo at their best despite a separation of a little over a decade – they still offered heavenly harmonies. Here Paul sings his solo hit “Still Crazy After All These Years”:

For an amazing glimpse of the early 70s, here’s Steely Dan performing “Reelin’ In The Years.” While Walter Becker on guitar looks like a typical hippie of his time, by the time I saw him at a concert at Meadowbrook in Guilford, NH a decade or so ago, he looked like a cross between an older Jerry Garcia and Steve Wozniak of Apple fame…

U2’s “New Year’s Day” became perhaps one of their most famous anthems along with “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” here performed at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado as the band started to peak in its worldwide exposure and prominence:

Mike + The Mechanics, with guitarist Michael Rutherford of Genesis, and Paul Carrack on vocals, most known for his songs “How Long” with Ace and “Tempted” with the Squeeze.  I cite “The Living Years” in the tribute blog to my father, with the lyrics poignant to my father’s unexpected death

I wasn’t there that morning
When my Father passed away
I didn’t get to tell him
All the things I had to say

I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year
I’m sure I heard his echo
In my baby’s new born tears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Living Years – Mike + The Mechanics

This clip of Elton playing “60 Years On” with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 1986 demonstrated how well suited his music is for full orchestral adaptation.

The following video highlights the sultry voice of jazz songstress Nora Jones. The daughter of Ravi Shankar, the Indian musician who influenced George Harrison and the Beatles, Nora and I share a birthday along with several other notable musicians, including Eric Clapton, Celine Dion, Tracy Chapman, all 3 of whom along with Nora appear on this playlist, as well as M.C. Hammer, country singers Justin Moore and Thomas Rhett, and non-music birthday buddies Jon Astin (Gomez Addams), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), Paul Reiser (Mad About You), Warren Beatty (Dick Tracy), Ian Ziering (Beverly Hills 90210), John Lucas (NBA), Richard Sherman (NFL), and painters Vincent Van Gogh and Francisco Goya. What a day to be born!

And another beautiful voice delivering such a beautiful song, Christina Perri with “A Thousand Years”:

For some reason I can’t get enough of this song. With 4 versions on the playlist, all different and worth a listen in their own respect, including Ella Fitzgerald, The Carpenters, Harry Connick Jr., and Norah Jones (again), here is yet another version of “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” by Zoey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt:

This video is so well done, I had to include it in the blog – The Foo Fighters with “Next Year”:

Wishing you a Happy New Year filled with memorable moments, music, and fun. Enjoy “Golden YEARS”:

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!

Please MR. Please – Mr. & Mrs. Songs

On December 15, 2021 American singer Wanda Young died at the age of 78. She was a member of the all-female singing group the Marvelettes. They gave Motown their first No 1 Pop single on December 11, 1961 with “Please Mr. Postman.” The Beatles later covered the song on their second studio album With The Beatles, and the Carpenters’ remake of the song in 1975 also hit No. 1.

On December 16, 1972 Billy Paul started a tree week run at No. 1 on the US singles chart with “Me and Mrs Jones.”

These seemingly disparate songs and facts provide the theme for this week’s blog, songs featuring Mr. or Mrs. in the title.

The playlist starts off with a few Mrs. songs, which in general are hard to come by, with the aforementioned “Me and Mrs. Jones” and the Simon & Garfunkel classic from The Graduate “Mrs. Robinson.”  The playlist then segues appropriately for December onto a few Christmas themed songs, including “Mrs. Santa Clause,” “Mister Santa,” and You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch.”

There are several Mr. greats including ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky,” Styx “Mr. Roboto,” The Killers “Mr. Brightside,” Counting Crows “Mr. Jones,” Ozzy’s “Mr. Crowley,” a favorite of mine Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” my man Otis’ “Mr. Pitiful,” featured in the movie Stand By Me “Mr. Lee,” one of my polish grandmother’s favorite crooners, Bobby Vinton, with “Mr. Lonely,” and all three versions of “Mr. Postman”. The playlist closes with “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister. While the band doesn’t have any Mr. songs, I had to include at least one selection from the band featuring double Mr. in their name!

Dr. Seuss, a.k.a. Theodore Geisel, a graduate of my alma mater Dartmouth way back in 1925, wrote The Grinch as a commentary on the over-commercialism of Christmas. Here is the title song “Mr. Grinch” premiering in 1966.

I love this video of Traffic with “Dear Mr. Fantasy” in Santa Monica, CA in 1972, as it demonstrates the musical genius of Steve Winwood. A prodigy playing with the Spencer Davis Group at 15 years old, perhaps known as one of the greatest blues and rock keyboardists of the 60s and 70s showing his musicianship playing some pretty mean guitar. Also strikingly obvious is the appearance that not just the music is psychedelically influenced 🤣

Going back almost a decade prior, here is Bob Dylan performing “Mr. Tambourine Man” at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964.

And this video is such a great reminiscence of Stand By Me with “Mr. Lee” providing the soundtrack to the movie montage.

And here the Chordettes with “Mr. Sandman” all the way back in 1958.

And the great but each different versions of “Please Mr. Postman” with the original by the Marvelettes in 1961.

Then the Beatles in 1963.

And finally The Carpenters, having fun at Disneyland circa 1975.

Alas, all 3 lead singers on this song have since passed, as has the following performer, Olivia Newton John with the playlist title song “Please Mr. Please”

The playlist closes with “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister. While not a Mr. song, I couldn’t pass up including a selection from a double Mr. band!

I hope you enjoy 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!

The Name Game 1 & 2 – Names in Songs

On December 8, 1980 John Lennon was shot and killed outside his and Yoko’s NYC apartment. I remember where I was when I heard the news – in my morning Geometry class, freshman year of high school. How the word spread that quickly without electronic media I’m still not certain. We were all stunned, in a state of disbelief that a Beatle was dead.

In “The Ballad Of John & Yoko” he sings the somewhat prophetic words:

Christ, you know it ain’t easy
You know how hard it can be
The way things are goin’
They’re gonna cruify me

john lennon – the ballad of John & Yoko

The song provides the theme for this week’s blog called “The Name Game” highlighting songs featuring peoples’ names in their titles. There are so many that the lists could go on forever, but included are some of my very favorites in the first Spotify playlist, and some honorable mentions in the second, no less great, and still very worthy of a listen. The lists could go on with hundreds more, but these are songs that I enjoy and felt worth sharing.

Some songs of note:

A few of my favorite songs of all-time: Elton John’s “Levon” and “Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters,” Dire Straits’ “Romeo & Juliet,” Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” and Hall & Oates’ “Sara Smile” though I much prefer the guitar work of Monte Montgomery’s version, which my uncle Joey, who played guitar in bands his whole life called one the the best guitar performance he had ever heard.

Chris Cornell’s cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” I had first heard his version on American Idol, sung by David Cook, who did it proud. I remember listening, and not quite able to place the song initially, though I was certain I knew it. Then it dawned on me – such an amazing interpretation of MJ’s hit pop song.  I couldn’t wait to give Chris’ original interpretation a listen.

Again an American Idol reference, one of my faves, Crystal Bowersox, covering Janis Joplin’s cover of “Me and Bobby McGee.”

Red Sox fans can’t pass up a rousing rendition of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” which has become a Fenway Park tradition.

Some trendy name songs over the years include Dexy’s Midnight Runners “Come On Eileen,” Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309/Jenny,” Toni Basil’s “Hey Mickey.”

There are 3 versions of “Gloria” between the two playlists, because how can you decide between versions by Van Morrison and Them, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison (who’s 80th birthday is today) and the Doors??? I love ❤️ them all!

And such a classic memory of one of my favorite Police songs “Roxanne” was provided by Eddie Murphy in the 1982 movie 48 Hrs.

And who knew that one of my idols, Stevie Ray Vaughan, provided a public service announcement before his passing, after achieving sobriety, offering “It’s real necessary to make sure that the kids understand that drugs and alcohol have nothing to do with what Rock & Roll is about. It’s really the downfall of Rock & Roll. I’m trying to get that across.”

Yet I can’t get beyond they’re cutting his song and guitar solo short, so here he is performing the song in its entirety in Daytona Beach, 1987.

And considering the death of rock idols beyond John Lennon, I remember the day I heard that Stevie Ray died in a plane crash, on my drive into medical school in the summer of 1987 (08/27/87). Tragic 😢

A few songs of note made the list without a name in their title, as the name is such a prominent part of the song, truly what many think the song is called, with David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” aka “Major Tom” and The Moody Blues “Legend Of A Mind” or “Timothy Leary.” They seemed worthy additions.

Billy Joel (10), The Beatles (10), and Elton John (9) appear most frequently on the two lists, perhaps a testament more to my musical tastes than their penchant for writing songs with names in them, or more likely a mixture of both.

And for those interested in trying to apply the name game rules to any name to make it rhyme, here are the lyrics to the song.  Good luck – well beyond my brain power…

Shirley, Shirley Bo-ber-ley
Bo-na-na fanna Fo-fer-ley

Lincoln, Lincoln, bo-bin-coln
Bo-na-na fanna, fo-fin-coln

Come on everybody
I say now let’s play a game
I betcha I can make a rhyme 
Out of anybody’s name
The first letter of the name
I treat it like it wasn’t there
But a “B” or an “F” 
Or an “M” will appear

And then I say “Bo” add a “B” then I say the name
Then “Bo-na-na fanna” and “fo”
And then I say the name again with an “”f” very plain
Then “fee fi” and a “mo”
And then I say the name again with an “M” this time
And there isn’t any name that I can’t rhyme

Arnold, Arnold bo-bar-nold
Bo-na-na, fanna fo-far-nold

But if the first two letters are ever the same
I drop them both, then say the name
Like Bob, Bob, drop the “B’s”, Bo-ob
Or Fred, Fred, drop the “F’s”, Fo-red
Or Mary, Mary, drop the “M’s”, Mo-ary
That’s the only rule that is contrary

Now say Bo
Now Tony with a B
Then “Bo-na-na fanna” and “fo”
And then you say the name again with an “F” very plain
Then “fee fi” and a “mo”
And then you say the name again with an “M” this time
And there isn’t any name that I can’t rhyme

Everybody do Tony
Tony, Tony, bo-bo-ney
Bo-na-na fanna, fo-fo-ney

Pretty good
Let’s do Billy!
Billy, Billy, bo-gil-ly
Bo-na-na fanna, fo-fil-ly

Very good, let’s do Marsha!
Marsha, Marsha, bo-bar-sha
Bo-na-na fanna, fo-far-sha

A little trick with Nick!
Nick, Nick, bo-bick, 
Bo-na-na fanna fo fick
The name game

the name game – Shirley ellis

So without further ado the playlists:

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!

DON’T Stop The Music & DON’T Fence Me In – Don’t Songs

On November 17, 1962, 61 years ago, The Four Seasons, featuring Frankie Vallie, started a 5 week run at No. 1 on the US singles chart with “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” the group’s second No. 1 of the year. Their other No. 1 that year was “Sherry”, with “Walk Like A Man” and “Ain’t That A Shame” topping the charts the very next year. I remember Billy Joel at a concert I attended stating his confusion listening to Frankie, wondering should he “walk like a man” but “sing like a girl”? 🤣 He felt that in the 50s the media machine tightly controlled a safe, sterile pop presentation of music to youth, with the likes of The Four Seasons, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, and Annette Funicello.  But when he heard the raw sound of The Beatles in the 60’s, he knew the future of music was rock ‘n roll, and couldn’t wait to be a part of it.

The title of the Four Seasons song provides the theme of today’s playlist, songs featuring the word Don’t. The Beatles are featured 6 time on the list, most prominently with “Don’t Let Me Down” and Billy Joel with a few songs on the list, including “Don’t Ask Me Why.”

Who knew Don’t was such a pervasive word in rock and pop song titles? Such greats include Elvis, with simply “Don’t” as well as “Don’t Be Cruel,” ELO’s “Don’t Bring Me Down,” Tom Petty’s “Don’t Do Me Like That,” Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear The Reaper,” Elton’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” and “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight,” Animals “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close To Me,”  Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” Beach Boys “Don’t Worry Baby,” Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me,” Boomtown Rats’ “I Don’t Like Mondays,” Simply Red’s “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach,” Steely Dan’s “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” Tina Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” among so many other amazing Don’t songs.

A few songs appear on the list without Don’t in the title but with the word so prominently featured in the song I couldn’t leave them off: After the Fire’s “Der Kommissar” – “Don’t turn around, wa-uh-oh (yeah-yeah), Der Kommissar’s in town, wa-uh-oh,” and Sam Cooke’s “(What A) Wonderful World” – “don’t know much about history, don’t know much biology…”

I did include some very popular country Don’t songs, such as Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink,” Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes’ “Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer,” Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys,” Shania Twain’s “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” and Josh Turner’s “Why Don’t We Just Dance.” But given the length of the playlist already, I reserved many more country Don’ts to a separate playlist.

For ease of finding your favorite don’t songs the list is organized alphabetically in a few groups, best of, select country, then b-side Don’t songs.

Some great Don’t videos, giving snapshots into their era, include:

Elvis Pressley – “Don’t Be Cruel”:

Tom Petty – Don’t Come Around Here No More”:

Madonna – “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”:

The Pretenders – “Don’t Get Me Wrong”:

George Michael & Elton John – “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”:

The Police – “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”:

Michael Jackson – “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”:

Simple Minds – “Don’t You Forget About Me”:

Madonna – “Papa Don’t Preach”:

After The Fire – “Der Kommissar”:

Toby Keith – “Don’t Let The Old Man In”:

American Outlaws – “Mamma Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys”:

Josh Turner – “Why Don’t We Just Dance”:

So on to the playlists. Enjoy these amazing Don’t songs, just don’t rock the jukebox…

DON’T – Rock & Pop Don’t Songs

DON’T Fence Me In – Country Don’t Songs

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!

Albums of Impact

The following is a compilation of a 20 day Facebook daily challenge thrown down at me by my good friend Jim during the first months of the COVID pandemic.  I had anticipated his request and had given the challenge great thought.  To clarify, my interpretation of the challenge was to daily post an album that has had impact in my life.  They are not necessarily my most favorite albums of my most favorite artists, though many may be that.  There are many albums I absolutely love and think are among the best albums recorded that are not included in my 20.  And there are none of this decade, century, or millennium – to be honest, there are none that were released after the year of my high school graduation, 1984, though some did not impact me until my college years.  That is not to say I haven’t had impactful albums in the past 36 years, but when you’re a teen, just being awakened to music, there was greater opportunity to be wowed and amazed.  Or maybe that was just my experience.  Plus, no great music has been released since the ‘80s anyway 🤣 – JK! 😉  Though there truly was something magical about the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. 

So I worked on compiling this list over several weeks leading up to the challenge.  I listened to each album in its entirety over the course of that time, which was such a treat, a delight.  If you take nothing else away from this post, go back and listen to your top dozen or two albums from start to finish.  So often we just listen to songs or compilations from artists.  But albums were released, at least back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, as conceptual pieces, meant to be listened to in order, in their entirety.  And it was such a pleasure to listen to my favorite music once again in that fashion, almost like listening to it for the first time…

I will share my albums chronologically in the year of their release, which doesn’t necessarily reflect the order of their impact to me or denote any ranking of their importance.  I just felt it was the easiest way to organize my days.  You may also learn a little bit more about me, my experiences, not to mention more about the artists I share, some of whom you may already know and love, some you may want to explore or listen to further.  No real surprises, though – you’ll see…

So, who else to start with, but the King – Elvis:

Elvis PresleyElvis Presley (’56) –  I remember my Uncle Joey, lifelong musician, giving our family this album when I was probably 6 or 7 years old.  I remember as he handed the album to us thinking that it was his album, with him on the cover, lol!  It’s the first album I remember listening to in our house.  It likely was the gateway to my love of rock music, and this album allowed me to embark upon my “Elvis phase”, the first of many “required” rock fan phases in the ‘70s (along with The Beatles and The Doors). 

Packed with songs like “Blue Suede Shoes” (a song of which I acquired a bit of karaoke infamy at the Collis Center after having a few too many beers with dorm mates sophomore summer of college – I thought I sounded pretty good, and I sure did shake my hips…), “I Got A Woman”, “Just Because”, “Tutti Fruiti” – we actually did our own version of karaoke as kids, microphone and all (though not connected to anything, lol!) in my parents living room listening on our Panasonic console unit, with record player (you could load 4 or 5 albums, and it would drop down each one, one after another, for listening) with built in speakers.  We used to sing to John Denver and Johnny Cash on that thing as well!  Though only 11 at the time, I was devastated when Elvis died in the summer of ‘77…

Elton JohnElton John (’70) – His first US release (though Empty Sky was released previous to this in Britain), jam-packed with great songs, piano, orchestration, and lyrics.  Though if you care to listen how amazing a composer Elton really is, listen to some of these early songs on Elton John Live in Australia with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra – just beautiful with a full orchestra backing, though Elton John edges it out with the young, octave higher Elton vocals.  Also interesting to note, people often so love Elton’s lyrics, but remember it is his lyricist Bernie Taupin who is really speaking to you, as he writes the lyrics, and Elton writes the music. 

And a big thanks to the inspiration from my brother John, as well as my lifelong friend Jim to become a big Elton fan.  Elton is one of the few artists, along with Billy Joel and Genesis, that I started and successfully completed my quest to own every vinyl album they recorded.  Though I’ve since parted with many, I’ve kept my favorites, especially original pressings, live albums, or cool album art, such as Captain Fantastic & The Brown Dirt Cowboy, and also among my very favorites Madman Across The Water, with “Madman”, “Tiny Dancer”, and my VERY FAVORITE Elton song, “Levon”, though “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters”, of Honkey Chateau fame has been moving up in my Elton rankings and may edge it out someday.  I was lucky enough to see him in concert with Billy Joel in 2002 – great concert, over 4 hours long!

Van MorrisonMoondance (’70) – This is the 1st CD I ever purchased once I broke down and bought a CD player in medical school in 1988.  It used to be my desert island CD, and still is among them.  Classic Van Morrison – I love every song on here.  I still own my original vinyl, with the liner notes a 2 page fable written by his girlfriend Janet Planet, telling the story of an artist in ancient times who has a great gift but keeps it to himself.  When his wife gets sick, he cures her using his gift of song.  She then asks, “but who will ease your pain, who will save you?  While the title song is among the greatest ever written, “Into The Mystic” is one of my favorite mellow, soothing, romantic songs:

I want to rock your gypsy soul just like in the days of old,
and magnificently we will fold into the mystic…

Into the mystic – van morrison

For a similar feel, though from a different album, check out “So Quiet In Here” off “Enlightenment”:

Foghorns blowing in the night,
salt sea air in the morning breeze,
driving cars all along the coastline,
this must be what it’s all about,
this must what paradise is like,
so quiet in here, so peaceful in here…

So Quiet in here – van morrison

I love Van Morrison (though have never seen him in concert – I’ve heard he’s too unpredictable: on a bad day, he’s really bad…)

The DoorsMorrison Hotel (’70) – This is among 1st vinyl albums I owned and was the start of my “Doors phase” (along with Elvis and the Beatles).  I was amazed by Morrison’s ability to sing with raw power and grit on “Roadhouse Blues”, “You Make Me Real”, and “Peace Frog”, but then wax poetic, or sing soft and melodic, as in “Blue Sunday” or “Indian Summer”.  And I loved Ray Manzarek’s keyboards and Robbie Krieger’s wailing guitar, not to mention John Densmore’s drumming.  This was ROCK.  Val Kilmer’s portrayal of Morrison in Oliver Stone’s movie “The Doors” is worth a watch, too, for those less familiar with their impact on the late ‘60s and early ‘70s music scene.

Don McLeanAmerican Pie (’71) – You couldn’t get away from the title song in the ‘70s – it got tons of air play.  It was one of the first songs I learned the lyrics to and would sing all the time, though at that age I’m certain that I was never quite sure what “rye” or a “levee” was.  Often viewed as one hit wonder, McLean’s “Vincent,” a song about Vincent van Gogh (whose birthday, March 30th, I share, along with another artist, Francisco de Goya, as well as several musicians Eric Clapton, Celine Dion, Norah Jones, Tracey Chapman, MC Hammer, Justin Moore, Thomas Rhett) also received some air play, and is a decent song, along with other great melancholy songs that follow.  I found myself listening to this lots after my dad died in 1986: “but February made me shiver…” the month my dad, and the music (Buddy Holly) died.  I often felt my dad looked a bit like Buddy Holly, lol!

Can you find my pain? Can you heal it?
Then lay your hands upon me now
And cast this darkness from my soul.
You alone can light my way.
You alone can make me whole once again.

Crossroads – don mclean

And for the first time I’ve been seeing
The things I’d never notice, without you.
And for the first time I’m discovering
The things I use to treasure, about you.

Winterwood – don Mclean

Never knew how much I needed you
Never thought you’d leave, until you went
Morning comes and morning goes with no regret
And evening brings the memories I can’t forget
Empty rooms that echo as I climb the stairs
And empty clothes that drape and fall on empty chairs

empty chairs – don mclean

Sad, I know, but what my grieving heart needed for a while after losing my father…

Led ZeppelinIV (’71) – This album is such a classic, with such great songs from such a great band, though Zep 1 & 2 are close in quality, and have many of my favorite Zep songs, it’s hard to beat this album.  While John Bonham died prior to my concert going years, and my brother John Storo missed his opportunity to see his favorite band in New Haven just before they disbanded, getting “snowed out” by a blizzard, we did get to see their first reunion of sorts at Live Aid in Philadelphia in 1985.  I’ve since seen the tribute bands Get the Led Out (twice) and The Jason Bonham Tribute Band (once), just amazing tributes to perhaps the best rock band ever.  Go see them if you have the opportunity.  You won’t be disappointed.  I also loved Zep’s “Lord of the Rings” references in several of their songs.

The drums will shake the castle wall,
The ring wraiths ride in black, ride on.

the battle of evermore – led zeppelin

How years ago in days of old
when magic filled the air
T’was in the darkest depths of Mordor
I met a girl so fair
But Gollum and the evil one
crept up and slipped away with her

Ramble on – led zeppelin

It’s a win-win any time you can pair one of the greatest of bands with one of the greatest of books!

Pink FloydDark Side of the Moon (’73) – I obviously heard tracks from this album first on the radio – there was no MTV, iTunes, Pandora, or Spotify back then.  But I really listened to this album on my older brother John’s cassette, with its partner in crime Wish You Were Here (’75) on the other side.  I had never heard anything so mesmerizing, hypnotic, orchestral, with such unusual sound effects – a ground-breaking album.  I once made the mistake of listening to this cassette while taking a long walk in my hometown late one night down old country roads with few homes, no cars, no street lights, with all the screams and footsteps and noises being absolutely terrifying in the pitch black, uncertain if they were on the recording, or were real.  But I didn’t have any other cassettes on me, and wanted to listen to music, so needless to say I didn’t turn it off!  Playing this album and any other Floyd albums in college always caused dorm mates to come in our room, sniff around, and ask how we could be listening to Floyd without smoking marijuana.  The closest our room came to marijuana during Floyd music was the burning of incense and lit candles, though the same can’t be said for our sophomore year neighbors who could have supplied a medical dispensary for many months with their endless supply of weed… 

My younger brother Bob’s gravestone bears the inscription of the latter half of the quote:

For long you live and high you fly,
and smiles you’ll give and tears you’ll cry
and all your touch and all you see
is all your life will ever be.

breathe – pink floyd

Genesis The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (’74) – This is one of my favorite Genesis albums, one of the bands that I eventually owned every album of (along with Billy Joel and Elton John), thanks this time to the inspiration provided initially again by my brother, John, and then further kindled by the enthusiasm of Steve, my sophomore year college roommate visiting from UCSD who was a big Genesis (as well as Journey) fan.  I never got to see Genesis, but have seen Phil Collins, and more recently Steve Hackett, the guitarist for Genesis in the ‘70s prior to their pop era, playing all of my favorite, “old”, psychedelic Genesis fare, including this album, as well as Selling England By The Pound and Foxtrot (including the 23 minute long “Supper’s Ready” – no one writes songs like that anymore!).  You can watch Steve Hackett in concert on YouTube, or give a listen to Seconds Out for old Genesis in concert, though by that time with Phil Collins at the lead instead of Peter Gabriel.  We used to marvel at how deep Gabriel rasped on this album “Carpet Crawlers”….  So I challenge you to give this album a listen on Spotify, and you’ll probably think I’ve lost my mind.  Yes the story and lyrics are bizarre and surreal, the music psychedelic, but it’s musically so good…

Beach Boys Endless Summer (’74) – one of the first cassette tapes my brother John Storo and I owned, joining the “Columbia Record and Tape Club” in the ‘70s (I think The Bay City Rollers, The Partridge Family, The Carpenters, The 5th Dimension, and even AC/DC were among our purchases).  Jam packed with feel good summer hits.  It makes you want to thrown on your bathing suit, put on some sunscreen, grab a towel, and head to the beach.  It evokes fond memories of times spent every summer at the North Hampton and Cape May shores with my mom, dad, and brothers.  I didn’t learn to surf until 2014 in Santa Barbara, CA, when my daughter was looking at college there, and we both took surf lessons.  Definitely felt like a Beach Boy, and had Surfer Girl, Surfin’ Safari and Surfin’ USA going round and round in my head!

Billy JoelTurnstiles (’76) – The quest to find this album started my album collection.  My first concert was Billy Joel at the Hartford Civic Center in ’82 with Jim Ouellette.  I had heard the song “Prelude/Angry Young Man” but didn’t know the title, and, being pre-internet, had no way to research it, so I just started buying Billy Joel albums until I found Turnstiles, and a true Billy Joel fan was born.  Many of my favorite songs are on this album, including “Summer Highland Falls”, “Miami 2017”, “I’ve Loved These Days”, and “New York State of Mind”, among other hits. 

The two other Billy Joel albums that were almost a tie with this, but surpassed due to this being the album that started it all, were Songs in the Attic, a great live Billy Joel album with the best versions of older songs such as “Miami 2017” and “Captain Jack”, as well as his very first album, no not Piano Man, which is great and among my favorites, but Cold Spring Harbor, very singer-songwriter sounding – give it a listen.  Giving “Turnstiles” a fresh listen a few times through, I reaffirmed what a truly exceptional album it is.  And these lyrics perhaps sum it up:

Oh baby, I think you are lost in the seventies.
Oh baby, the music she ain’t what she used to be…

…Oh baby, where are the oldies they used to play?
Oh baby, you want to crawl back into yesterday…

all you wanna do is dance – billy joel

So yeah, maybe basically that’s me, musically…

BostonBoston (’76) – This is pure ‘70s hard rock, a powerful rocking album, most of it listened to, along with Kansas selections “Carry On My Wayward Son” and “Dust in the Wind”, Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way”, “Sweet Emotion”, and “Dream On”, songs from “Frampton Comes Alive”, and many other ‘70s rock anthems on Saturday mornings during bowling league at Vernon Lanes with my brother John and friend Chris.  Song for song, this is perhaps one of the best ‘70s rock albums ever, and is one of the top few best selling debut albums of all time (along with Guns ‘N Roses “Appetite for Destruction” and Pearl Jam “Ten”); there’s not a dud on here: “More Than a Feeling”, “Peace of Mind”, “Foreplay/Long Time”, “Rock And Roll Band”, “Smokin’”, “Hitch A Ride”, “Something About You”, “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” – just amazing.  Summarizing Boston’s contribution is perhaps their song about their own story:

Well, we were just another band out of Boston
On the road and tryin’ to make ends meet
Playin’ all the bars, sleepin’ in our cars
And we practiced right on out in the street
No, we didn’t have much money
We barely made enough to survive
But when we got up on stage and got ready to play

people came alive

rock and roll band – boston

And then, only as an MIT grad turned rock star can pen:

Now you’re climbin’ to the top of the company ladder
Hope it doesn’t take too long
Can’tcha you see there’ll come a day when it won’t matter?
Come a day when you’ll be gone, whoa

peace of mind – boston

Steely DanThe Royal Scam (’76) – I first heard this album as a pre-teen when trying to sleep at my grandmother’s when my uncle Joey came home from the bars at 2 in the morning. While “Hey Nineteen”, “Do It Again”, “Reelin’ in the Years”, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”, “Peg”, “Aja”, and “Gaucho” are amazing songs that I love, this album is without a doubt my favorite Steely Dan album, with “Kid Charlemagne” my favorite song, interestingly, about a notorious drug “chef” in the ‘70s who was famous for manufacturing hallucinogenic compounds, though the whole album is spectacular, with great jazz influenced piano, guitar and horns. Not many rock/pop bands had such extensive horns in their music – Steely Dan, Earth, Wind & Fire, Chicago, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel… 

Some trivia notes: jazz great Larry Carleton is featured on guitar, with Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers, and Timothy B. Schmidt of Eagles fame singing back-up vocals on this album.  Coincidentally this is the album that features the line “turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening”, spurring the Eagles to respond on their next album, Hotel California, “they stab it with their steely knives but they just can’t kill the beast”.   Some consider this the ugliest album cover ever…   I was so lucky to have seen Steely Dan for the first time not long before Walter Becker died.

BeatlesLove Songs (’77) – This is a tribute to my Beatles phase (along with the Elvis and Doors phases most kids in the ‘70s went through).  I had heard plenty of Beatles albums before this, and especially like Abby Road and their Red and Blue greatest hits double albums.  But I fell in love with this album, thanks to Tom, from whom I taped his double album from his vinyl to cassette.  It’s almost impossible to find this on CD (though per Amazon you can own a new vinyl copy of this for $300-380 including shipping and handling, lol!  Though sorry Tom, used copies are only going for $15-35…), s0 I had to be creative and years ago made a playlist of the songs on iTunes and Spotify so I could still listen to this collection. I even burned a copy to CD.  While not a rocking album, every song on here is a singer-songwriter gem.

SupertrampBreakfast in America (’79) – I recall this as the first album that I ever felt “peer pressure” to listen to, remembering one of my classmates talking about how great it was.  While I had seen the album cover here and there, I felt clueless not knowing all the songs.  Thus it became a part of my cassette collection.  Some great songs from a great ‘70s band, including “The Logical Song”, “Goodbye Stranger”, “Breakfast in America”, and “Take the Long Way Home”.  It led me to eventually start buying Supertramp albums in college, including Crisis?  What Crisis?, Even in the Quietest Moments, Paris, and Brother Where You Bound?.  Nostalgia…

When I was young,
it seemed that life was so wonderful
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical
And all the birds in the trees,

well they’d be singing so happily
Oh joyfully, playfully watching me
But then they send me away

to teach me how to be sensible
Logical, oh responsible, practical
And they showed me a world

where I could be so dependable
Oh clinical, oh intellectual, cynical

the logical song – supertramp

Eagles Live (’80) – This is the best compilation of Eagles classics, with these live versions better than their studio counterparts.  I always had thought this was taped at the concert my brother John Storo and cousin Joseph Garitta went to at the Yale Bowl in ’80, but alas it was recorded in Inglewood, Santa Monica, and Long Beach California.  They are the only band I know of who have had top 10 hits with 5 lead singers: Don Henley, Glen Frey, Joe Walsh, Randy Meisner, and Timothy B. Schmidt (The Beatles, CSNY and Fleetwood Mac had “only” 4 singers with hits).  There’s a great documentary called “History of the Eagles” that was free on Netflix, but no longer – now you have to buy or rent it on Amazon.  Though Amazon does have the “Hell Freezes Over” movie free on Prime Video for members.  One of my very favorite Eagles songs is on this live album, “Seven Bridges Road”, which has some of the best harmonies of all time.  Check out this acapella version of the intro from the ‘70s:

StyxParadise Theater (’81) – This is quintessential Styx, which was played almost in its entirety on the Mr. Roboto tour I was able to see in 1984.  I was fortunate enough to see Styx again (minus Dennis DeYoung, though along with Def Leppard and Tesla) over 30 years later, and they were still fantastic.  This is such a great rock/musical theater album, and I always thought the cover was too cool.  It even supplied my high school yearbook quote: “These are the best of times…”  Also love older Styx releases such as Crystal Ball, Cornerstone, Grand Illusion, and Pieces of Eight – including the great songs “Renegade and “Lord of the Rings” – another band with Lord of the Rings referencing!. 

Most of my Styx recordings were pirated from my friend Rob’s vinyl collection.  Though not on this album, but instead on Grand Illusion (’77), I always wonder how blown away people must have been hearing “Come Sail Away” – give it a listen and imagine how different it would have seemed from the typical ‘70s fare at the time.  A bit of trivia – twin brothers Chuck and John Panozzo at the age of 12 first started playing with a then 14 year old Dennis DeYoung in the Chicago suburbs, the early origins of the band…

Our memories of yesterday will last a lifetime
We’ll take the best, forget the rest
And someday we’ll find these are the best of times
These are the best of times

the best of times – styx

RushMoving Pictures (’81) – This is classic Rush, with many of my favorite songs. I still crank up the volume if “Tom Sawyer” comes on the car stereo! I saw them in concert on their Power Windows tour with John Storo and Steve Farrell. “Marillion” opened for them. It so amazed me the sound that just 3 guys were able to put out, with Neil (RIP) effortless at drums, and Geddy often doing 4 things at once (bass guitar, bass pedals, keyboards, and singing – how?), with Alex perhaps one of the most underrated guitarists in the world. I am also amazed that over a 40+ year period of band’s existence, once Neil joined in 1974, they had no change in the band lineup – just 3 guys, friends, playing together until they could play no more. So sad that Neil has left us. His book Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, about his bike travels and dealing with his grief after his only daughter and then wife died in less than one year, makes for an insightful, interesting read.

On a different note (no pun intended), interesting that 3 of my 20 albums are in Rolling Stone Magazine’s top 10 progressive rock albums of all time (this, #3, along with #1 Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and #9 Genesis’ Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, with some of my other favorite Floyd, Genesis, and Yes albums rounding out their top 10…)

U2Under A Blood Red Sky (’83) – I first heard this album on Dartmouth College Cheerleading road trips.  It opened a whole new world of live, driving, socially and politically poignant rock, including “Gloria”, “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, “New Years Day” – every song in this set is amazing.  And who does a live rocking version of Psalm 40 (“40”)?  We sang this song in the church folk group at AQ House on campus at Dartmouth.  It wasn’t until years later that I realized that the lyrics of the song that seemed appropriate to sing at church were taken directly from Psalm 40, thus the name, lol!  Again, who can get away with that, but Bono?  And the Edge’s guitar.  I just love this album.  While in retrospect I grew to love Joshua Tree that followed, it took me a few years to appreciate it, as it wasn’t quite the raw rock of this live performance.

I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the mire and clay

I will sing, sing a new song…

“40” – u2

Dire StraitsAlchemy (’84) – I first listened to Dire Straits on Dartmouth College cheerleading road trips, where it became a staple, one night with one of our cheerleaders, Leann, drunkenly requesting, after a few too many Brador (Molson product, 50% higher alcohol content) beers, to listen to “Romiette & Julio” (a.k.a. “Romeo & Juliette”), lol!  I gave further attention to this live set listening to my brother’s cassette on a Walkman at a UCONN basketball game at the Hartford Civic Center while awaiting the game to start.  I then grew to love this as perhaps my favorite live album of all time (along with Eagles Live) my sophomore year of college, with the best versions of some of my very favorite songs, especially “Romeo & Juliet” and “Sultans of Swing”.  It was the first CD I ever put on cassette, borrowing the CD and CD player (before I had either) from a dorm-mate.  I recently watched the concert footage to this album for the first time (found it on Amazon for cheap) – I guess it’s the closest I’ll get to seeing them perform (apart from the simulcast performance from Wembley Stadium in London to JFK Stadium in Philly at the “Live Aid” concert, with only a 2-song set list: “Money for Nothing” with Sting, and “Sultans of Swing”), though Mark Knopfler, another of rock’s underrated guitarists, still tours now and then, so maybe…

And a lovestruck Romeo, he sang the streets of serenade
Laying everybody low with a love song that he made
Finds a convenient streetlight, steps out of the shade
He says something like, “You and me, babe, how about it?

romeo & julilette – dire straits

Bob MarleyLegend (’84) – I first listened this album from my brother, John, I think. I had heard Bob Marley songs over the years, but when this album came out, it just blew me away, chock-full of all his hits. Others successfully recorded some of the songs on here, including Eric Clapton’s “I Shot the Sherriff” (Clapton’s only #1 hit in the ‘70s), and Stevie Wonder’s “Jammin’”. I also really love “Redemption Song”. Regina Storo and I heard this album perhaps a bit in excess at our Sandals resort on our honeymoon in Jamaica, but we didn’t mind – we just loved the reggae, with such an upbeat, happy feel to it. Though I’ve since learned that this album was “homogenized” to attract a white middle-class audience to purchase it. Thus not included are his songs as a political revolutionary decrying the brutal history of slave trade in the Caribbean and Americas. Tragic and sad. Also tragic, while I always assumed that he died of a drug-related cause as most musicians so, believe it or not he died of melanoma.

Bob truly was a reggae legend, and I still love to this day listening to this album. I would often sing “Three Little Birds” to the kids at night when putting them to bed. Other favorites (for me at least, not sure what the kids thought) were Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy” (or Girl, if singing to Kate), The Beatles “In My Life”, Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful”, Elvis’s “Love Me Tender”, James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend”, Dan Fogelberg’s “Leader of the Band”, and Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle”. While “Three Little Birds” seems perhaps more of a “wake-up” song, I couldn’t help but feel hearing “don’t worry ‘bout a thing ‘cause every little thing’s gonna be alright” was such a good thing to hear when trying to drift off to sleep.

Rise up this mornin’, smiled with the risin’ sun
Three little birds pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs of melodies pure and true
Saying’, this is my message to you

Singing’ don’t worry ’bout a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright

three little birds – bob marley

Other albums of significant impact to me over the years, my “honorable mention” list, include (including a few from the 90’s, believe it or not!):

Traffic – John Barleycorn Must Die (’70)
American Graffiti – Soundtrack (’73)
The Moody Blues – This is the Moody Blues (’74)
Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run (’75)
Peter Frampton – Frampton Comes Alive (’76)
James Taylor – Greatest Hits (’76)
Joe Cocker – Greatest Hits (’77)
Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (’77)
Steve Miller Band – Greatest Hits (’78)
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Gold & Platinum (’79)
Michael Jackson – Off The Wall (’79)
Journey – Escape (‘81)
Simon & Garfunkel – Concert in Central Park (’82)
Bryan Adams – Cuts Like a Knife (’83)
The Police – Synchronicity (’83)
Yes – 90125 (’83)
Big Chill – Soundtrack (’83)
Madonna – Madonna (’83)
Prince – Purple Rain (’84)
Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Welcome to the Pleasure Dome (’84)
Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense (’84)
Howard Jones – Dream Into Action (’85)
Bruce Hornsby and the Range – The Way It Is (’86)
The Kinks – Come Dancing with the Kinks (’86)
Peter Gabriel – So (’86)
Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet (’86)
Stevie Ray Vaughan – Live Alive (’86)
Eric Clapton – Crossroads Collection (’88)
Pearl Jam Ten (’91)
Hootie & The Blowfish Cracked Rear View (’94)
Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack (’14)
Crystal Bowersox Alive (’17)

So in considering a playlist, I would love to just insert links to each album, as for reasons discussed above, I think these albums are best listened to in their entirety, but thought such multiple links would be unwieldy. I considered creating a playlist with a favorite song or two or even three from each album, but that would detract from the concept of trying to inspire album oriented listening. So instead I included just one song, and for lack of a better way, chose the most popular song based on Spotify listeners. A few were surprising, such as Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic” over “Moondance,” the Eagles “Seven Bridges Road” over “Hotel California,” or U2’s “40” over “Sunday Bloody Sunday.”

And I’d also like to alert you to the fact that The Beatles Love Songs does not exist as an album on Spotify, but is instead a playlist of the song list of the album created from the albums on Spotify. Given it was a compliation album of studio songs, it doesn’t lose anything in translation thus assembled. However, that is not the case for Dire Straits’ live album Alchemy, as only a few of the live songs are available on Spotify, with the other songs studio versions to complete the song list. However, that waters down the amazing versions of this live album, in my opinion Dire Straits very best work. It is a difficult album to find in a streaming version – I do not see it on Amazon Music or Apple Music. For those really interested, you’ll have to buy a copy in vinyl or CD format on Amazon or EBay.

So on to the playlist. If any of the artists and songs interest you, select the album link from the song list menu, and it will take you. tothe full album for your listening pleasure. I hope you enjoy some of these albums as much as I have. They are worth a listen.

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. Listen to albums that have impacted your life.

Live in the moment.

Enjoy the moment.

Love the moment.

Listen to the MUSIC!

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