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Glory DAYS & These DAYS – “Days” Songs

On August 12, 1964 The Beatles made their Hollywood debut with the opening of their first feature film A Hard Day’s Night. Captured at the height of Beatlemania, the film opened to rave reviews and was a financial and critical success. It earned two Academy Award nominations and inspired countless films, TV shows, and eventually music videos. Two notable cameos in the movie are Patty Boyd playing a blonde schoolgirl on the train and Phil Collins playing a schoolboy watching the Beatles on TV. Patty eventually married George Harrison and subsequently having an affair with then marrying one of George’s best friends – Eric Clapton. She inspired the songs “Something,” “Layla,” and “Wonderful Tonight.” Collins of course became the drummer and eventual lead vocalist of the progressive rock band Genesis.

The song and movie provide the theme of this week’s music blog, songs featuring the word Days. Accompanying the playlist Glory DAYS is a country version These DAYS, the word Day in song is reserved for another day (no pun intended, lol 😂) and another blog.

Song greats in the list include The Beatles in the title song as well as “Eight Days A Week,” Springsteen’s “Glory Days,” Wang Chung’s “Dance Hall Days,” Chicago’s “Old Days,” the Carpenters “Rainy Days and Mondays,” The Goo Goo Doll’s “Better Days,” Lifehouse’s “Days Go By,” and Billy Joel’s “I’ve Loved These Days” along with his daughter Alexa Ray Joel’s “For All My Days” among many others.

Two songs use a little artistic license, in that they don’t contain the word Days in their title, but the word figures very prominently in the song. They are Bryan Adams “Summer of ’69” with the lyric “those were the best days of my life,” and John Lennon’s “Nobody Told Me” with the lyric “nobody told me there’d be days like these, strange days indeed.” I think they were more than worthy of inclusion.

The last 3 songs are various versions of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” The first is a classic version with Frank Sinatra and the Andrews Sisters. If the second by John Denver featuring Miss Piggy and friends isn’t strange enough, be sure to give a listen to the version by Bob and Doug McKenzie of Strange Brew and the Great White North fame. definitely not your mother or grandmother’s crooner Christmas carol! 🤣

As you all know by now I tend to be quite the verbose blogger. But sometimes less is more. While it is hard to truly relate what shear fervor and Beatlemania, this video truly captures perhaps the singular most important sentinel moment in the history of rock.

So on to the playlists. First the rock and pop Days playlist:

And the country Days 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!

Squeeze Box – Pop & Rock Songs Featuring Accordion

June is national accordion awareness month. So before the month’s end, following my past reviews singling out instruments from harmonica, flute, base, piano, and keyboard, I thought I’d give accordion it’s due. The accordion, also called the “concertina,” is primarily used to accompany traditional polka music but has been featured in many classical and modern musical works, from jazz and zydeco to folk, gospel, blues, and even rock and pop.

The oldest name for the accordion is derived from the Greek word ‘harmonikos’, which means ‘harmonic’ or ‘musical’. The handaoline, believed to be the earliest form of the accordion, was patented by Christian Friedrich Ludwig Buschmann in Berlin in 1822.

My older brother, being the dutiful grandson to my Polish grandmother, took accordion lessons back in the 70s, playing many a polka. He gave it up due to disinterest as he grew more interested in pop and rock music. Had he known that, as Bruce Hornsby once declared when I saw him live in the late 80’s, playing accordion was cool, he might have stuck with it!

While the playlist gets its title from the classic Who song “Squeeze Box,” a common slang term for the instrument, the song barely contains any accordion instrumentation. Listen closely from approximately 1:30 to 2:00 into the song. To the Who’s credit, their chorus with nasally toned vocals of “in and out and in and out…” sounds very much like a squeeze box. Perhaps if they made the video they had initially intended for their 1974 television special, with the members of the band surrounded by 100 topless women playing accordions, it might have had a bit more accordion accompaniment to their vocals 😭. I guess the some filled with sexual double entendres was enough, precluding the need for such visual imagery 😉.

Some top songs featuring accordion include several songs by John Mellencamp, Billy Joel, Bruce Hornsby, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Counting Crows, Jethro Tull, Mark Knopfler, Los Lobos, and the Beach Boys, as well as individual songs by artists including Bruce Springsteen, the Talking Heads, Elton John, Styx, Aerosmith, R.E.M., The Band, The The, Roger Waters, even Paul McCartney. An interesting fact given The Band and The The appear in this playlist: The The chose their name to try to come up with what they felt was a more ridiculous, less creative, less descriptive name than The Band, choosing The The 🤣.

The playlist starts with two memorable Disney movie songs featuring accordion – “Be Our Guest” from Beauty & The Beast and “Bella Note” from Lady & The Tramp.  Other standout songs include “Cherry Bomb,” “This Is The Day,” “Piano Man,” “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word,” “Road To Nowhere,” and “Kokomo” among others.

The playlist progresses to a little foray into international accordion songs of note, including Mexican, Zydeco, Russian, and then in tribute to my heritage, Italian and Polish. And what would an an accordion playlist be without the inclusion of Weird Al Yankovic. Interestingly, Frankie Yankovic, Slovenian accordion great, widely known for his hit “Beer Barrel Polka,” is not related to Weird Al, though they share a surname and common cultural heritage. His parents reportedly enrolled a young Weird Al in accordion lessons rather than guitar so there would be at least one other accordion playing Yankovic 🤪.

Like Weird Al’s songs, most of this “semi-autobiographical” movie is made up. His affair with Madonna will likely inspire his next parody of Taylor Swift’s “Wildest Dreams” 😝.

“4th of July Asbury Park” – Bruce Springsteen

“Cherry Bomb” – John Mellencamp

“This is the Day” – The The, with a song perhaps better known more recently for its feature in an M&M commercial.

“Boat on the River” – Styx, with a very young mustachio Dennis DeYoung on accordion and Tommy Shaw on mandolin.

“Fifty Dollar Love Affair” – Joe Jackson

The Downeaster Alexa – Billy Joel

When I Paint My Masterpiece – The Band

“Hopeless Wanderer” – Mumford & Sons

“Come With Me Now” – Kongos. Is it me, or does the accordion intro to this song sound very similar to the intro of Paul Simon’s “The Boy In The Bubble?”

“Mother” – Roger Waters in his recreation of the Pink Floyd classic The Wall at the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.

“Another Round” – Foo Fighters, featuring a very young Dave Grohl.

“Omaha” – Counting Crows

“A Night In Summer Long Ago” – Mark Knopfler, again one of my guitar faves.

“If I Die Young” – The Band Perry

“Objection (Tango)” – Shakira

“La Luna” – Belinda Carlisle

“Anselma” – Los Lobos

“El Fronterizo” – Los Cadetes De Linares

“That’s Amore” – Dean Martin, with an iconic Italian offering.

Tarantella Napoletana, a staple at Italian weddings.

The Shmenges Brothers – John Candy and Eugene Levy. Little did people know that John Candy, beloved comedian extraordinaire, actually played the clarinet, and Gene, though most known for “American Pie” and “Schitt’s Creek,” was a very accomplished accordion player.

“Another One Rides The Bus” – Weird Al Yankovic, a legend in his own mind, though I’ve heard from several of his fans that he is quite the entertainer.

And now onto over 6 hours of glorious accordion bliss:

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!

Fingertips – Pop/Rock Songs Featuring Harmonica

June 22, 1963, little Stevie Wonder first entered the US singles chart. His song, also featuring a young Marvin Gaye on drums, was not only the first live non-studio musical recording to reach No.1 , it also made him the youngest solo performer to ever reach No.1, actually only 12 years old when the song was recorded.

His song provides the theme for today’s blog and playlist, songs that feature the harmonica. Harmonica, also known as the French harp or mouth organ, is a free reed wind instrument used prominently in folk music, jazz, country, classical music, and rock.  The most common type of harmonica is the diatonic, though the chromatic is used as well, made most famous by none other than Stevie Wonder.  The instrument is played using the mouth, lips, and tongue.  Frontiersmen Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid played the instrument.

Songs 1-6 Stevie, including the blog title song “Fingertips” which still holds the record for the youngest solo performer at the age of 13 to have a No. 1 single, 7-18 and 162-182 Stevie guest musician, collaborating with the likes of Chaka Khan, Eurythmics, Paula Abdul, Dion Warwick, Elton John, Sting, Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Snoop Dogg, Jason Derulo, Johnny Mathis, Peter Frampton, John Denver, Carley Simon, Barbra Streisand, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, The Supremes, The Four Tops, Rod Stewart, Ella Fitzgerald, Gladys Knight, and Frank Sinatra.

Stevie Wonder “Isn’t She Lovely”

Dionne Warwick “That’s What Friends Are For”

Eurythmics “There Must Be An Angel”

Artists with several songs on the list include: The Beatles with “Love Me Do,” “From Me To You,” “Should Have Known Better,” and “Rocky Racoon;” Led Zeppelin with “When the Levee Breaks,” “Bring It On Home,” and “Nobody’s Fault But Mine;” Bruce Springsteen with “Thunder Road,” “The River,” “The Promised Land,” “Spare Parts,” as well as the Yardbirds, Creedence Clearwater Revival, J. Geils Band, and Elton John with several songs on the list, and Billy Joel with “Ballad of Billy the Kid,” “Piano Man,” and “Leave a Tender Moment Alone.”

Billy leads us to another prolific artist well versed in the use of harmonica. Billy Joel was my very first concert as a teen. The second time I was him was at his Evening of Questions & Answers Tour in 1996. He referenced the first time he ever saw Bob Dylan perform live. Seeing Bob wearing his neck rack to hold his harmonica a young Billy thought “what’s wrong with his neck?” 😭

Billy has recorded a few of Bob’s songs, including “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and “Make You Feel My Love,” featuring a bit of harmonica as well.

Another landmark date in harmonica and music history is April 24, 1961, the day Bob Dylan participated in his first professional recording session, playing harmonica on the song “Midnight Special,” with folk singer Harry Belafonte. Bob obviously went on to record many folk and blues songs featuring the harmonica as well using the diatonic harp as his instrument of choice. More than a handful of his songs appear in the playlist, including perhaps my favorite Bob Dylan song “Baby Let Me Follow You Down.” Here is Bob playing “Hey Mr. Tambourine Man,” neck rack and all. It doesn’t look like there’s too much wrong with his neck. 🤣

Other notable popular songs featuring harmonica include Supertramp’s “Take The Long Way Home,” Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold,” The Hollies’ “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” The Young Rascals’ “Groovin’,” The Carpenters’ “Rainy Days & Mondays,” U2’s “Trip Through Your Wires,” Romantics’ “What I Like About You,” Culture Club’s “Karma Cameleon,” Blues Traveler’s “Run Around,” The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues,” Doobie Brothers’ “Long Train Runnin’,” Sting’s “Shape of My Heart,” and Canned Heat’s “On The Road Again.” Grunge and alternative music bands Alice in Chains, Temple Of The Dog, Pearl Jam, Motorhead, Foo Fighters, and Dave Matthews Band as well as metal greats Guns ‘N Roses, Poison, Motley Crue, Great White, and Black Sabbath even made the list.

I can’t recall the recent TV show I was watching, but one of the lines in it was something along the line of “who listens to Supertramp these days?” Well I still do, lol 🤣. Here is a classic Supertramp great from their blockbuster 1979 release Breakfast in America with an unforgettable harmonic intro, “Take The Long Way Home”

Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road,” a classic harmonic intro, and perhaps one of my favorite Boss songs.

Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” is perhaps one of the more recognizable harmonic songs in pop music of the 70’s. His version is not available on Spotify, as her removed it during COVID as a form of boycott of the Joe Rogan misinformation podcasts.

I loved the Carpenters back in the 70’s. Here with yet another great harmonica intro from the 70’s, “Rainy Days and Mondays”

Flash forward to the 80s with the Pretenders “Middle of the Road”

Huey Lewis offers some Americana harmonica with “Heart of Rock & Roll”

Motley Crue entertains us with a little harmonica amist their metal with their cover of “Smokin’ In The Boys Room”

And what an interesting decade the 80’s were, check out INXS “Suicide Blonde”

Then moving to the 90’s perhaps no one epitomized harmonica in pop music at the end of the 20th Century as Blues Traveler, here with their classic “Run Around”

And perhaps one of the most beautiful songs with significant, haunting harmonica presence is Sting with “Shape of My Heart”

Also featured in the blog is the harmonica great Larry Adler, who started his career as a penniless urchin on Vaudeville, starting his professional career at 14.  Included is much of his exceptional Gershwin tribute album “The Glory of Gershwin,” featuring songs by Sting, Elton John, Cher, Kate Bush, Meat Loaf, and Peter Gabriel, among others. Selections from this album round out the playlist. Here the he accompanies Kate Bush on “The Man I Love.”

On to 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!

Flute Thing – Pop & Rock Songs Featuring Flute

Twelve years ago today, March 31, 2011, the Australian band Men At Work lost the appeal against a ruling that their now 40 year old 1983 hit song “Down Under” was plagiarized from the folk tune “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree.”  More than a baseless allegation, it’s an argument that appears beyond ridiculous.  You be the judge:

Men at Work Flautist Greg Ham, depressed and dejected in the wake of such accusations, no longer laughing in the old gum tree, died soon thereafter in 2012, perhaps of a broken heart.  Their song serves as a springboard for today’s playlist “Flute Thing – Pop & Rock Songs Featuring Flute.”  Speaking of copying, the Beastie Boys “Flute Loop,” borrows the flute line from Al Kooper’s playlist title song “Flute Thing.”  I suppose they credited the sampling, making it legal and acceptable.

So songs you know and love prominently featuring the flute include Firefall’s “You Are The Woman,” The Mamas & The Papas “California Dreamin’,” Canned Heat’s “Going Up The Country,” this video a cool glimpse into the early ‘70s:

The Beatles “The Fool On The Hill” and “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” The Rolling Stones “Ruby Tuesday,” Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See,” one of the best known flute intros to a popular song:

as well as their “Heard It In A Love Song” and “Fire On The Mountain,” and several songs by Jethro Tull, The Moody Blues, Genesis, and Traffic.  Flute seems to have been a popular instrument among progressive rock bands of the ‘70s.

Other bands of the ‘70s explored the flute as well, including Heart with “Dreamboat Annie,” Eric Burdon’s “Spill The Wine,” The Association’s “Along Comes Mary,” The Guess Who’s “Undun,” and Manfred Man’s “The Mighty Quinn.”  Of note, another ‘70s song, Van Morrison’s “Moondance,” also appropriately on the list, also makes the list of songs with great piano solo, saxophone solo, flute work, and bass line, appearing on my playlists highlighting songs prominently featuring each of those instruments, making it in my humble opinion one of the most musically well-rounded songs ever recorded.

A few sleeper songs include Bob Seeger’s “Jody Girl,” such a beautiful song, and Cat Stevens “Katmandu.”  And for better or for worse, who can forget Van McCoy’s “The Hustle.”  I remember that song being played as a highlight, or perhaps lowlight of our sixth grade dance. And of course there’s this, one of the most epic flute solos to start a song (click hot link below):

On to 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!

All About SOUL – Soul Songs

All Soul’s Day, also known as the Day of the Dead, observed on November 2nd by Roman Catholics and other Christian denominations, is a day of prayer and remembrance for the faithful departed.  Tradition to remember deceased relatives and friends often center on prayers, alms, and visits to cemeteries.

It follows the Eve of All Saints Day/Halloween on October 31st and All Saints Day on November 1st.  The English word “Halloween” is a Scottish derivation of “All Hallow’s Eve”, contracted to “Hallow-e’en”, with “even” the Scot term for “eve” or evening, shortened to “e’en.”

In addition to the Christian origins of the holiday, significant influence by Celtic harvest festivals, in particular the Gaelic festival Samhain, with pagan roots. The holiday progressed toward its more common customs and appearance in the US with the arrival of Irish and Scottish immigrants in the 19th century.  Traditions from all of these sources have included dressing in black, dressing in costumes, visiting and remembering the dead, jack-o-lanterns to frighten off evil spirits, imagery of ghosts, ghouls, and other spooks, as well as traveling for treats, and eventually tricks.

Thus souls figure prominent on both Halloween October 31st, and All Souls Day November 2nd.  Today’s playlist “All About SOUL” is a tribute to songs featuring Soul in their title.  Some great songs include Billy Joel’s playlist titles song, as  “Soul Man,” “Soul Kitchen,” “Soul Provider,” “Soul Cages,” “Hey, Soul Sister,” “Beautiful Soul,” “Satisfy My Soul,” and “Heart And Soul,” of which there are several unique songs, including the Contours/Jan & Dean, Huey Lewis, T’Pau’s.  And Arthur Conley’s “Sweet Soul Music” references several artists on the list, including Lou Rawls, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, and James Brown.

Watching this performance of Billy Joel’s “All About Soul” I am reminded what a great live performer he is. Not even at the piano on this song, he still can hold an audience and entertain – so great!

From SNL, the Blues Brothers with their version of Sam & Dave’s “Soul Man.” Rewatching this performance I continue to be amazed by their talent and stage presence. They weren’t just actors, but talented musicians and performers. Its a shame John Belushi passed so young.

Huey Lewis might be one of my musical heroes, in that he scored a perfect 800 on his math SATs, hitchhiked from San Francisco to NYC, stowed away on a plane to Scotland, became an accomplished blues player in Madrid, where he busked to earn enough money to purchase a flight back to the states, where he enrolled at Cornell University. He subsequently dropped out his junior year to pursue music, made several album appearance playing harmonica, with the likes of Thin Lizzy, Nick Lowe, and Dave Edmunds, on his way to becoming a pop success in the mid-80s. Here he is with one of his three top 10 hits (along with “I Want A New Drug,” “The Heart of Rock & Roll,” and “If This Is It”) “Heart And Soul”:

Soul Train aired for 35 years, from 1971 to 2006, featuring performances by R&B, soul, and hip hop artists. Dancers were sometimes stars, or sometimes became stars, including over the years Rosie Perez, Carmen Electra, Nick Cannon, Vivica Fox, Jody Watley, Pebbles, MC Hammer, And Walter Payton. The theme song evolved and changed over the years, but was always an entertainment spectacle:

“Soul Provider” – Michael Bolton was so popular in the late ’80s:

“Hey, Soul Sister,” one of my two favorite Train songs, along with “Drops of Jupiter” – so good:

And now for the playlist. I think it will speak to your soul 😉

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!

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