Classic Rock And Pop Music Blog

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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!

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!

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