Category Archives: Music on Mondays

Music on Mondays (2-23-15)—THAT Lady Gaga last night was an impostor!

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

I never could sit still long enough to watch award shows, and since I haven’t had cable TV since September 2013, I could not have watched last night’s Oscars even if I had wanted to.

I did catch highlights on AOL and YouTube, and I must say that the Lady Gaga who sang all of that “Sound of Music” stuff last night was not the Lady Gaga that I’ve come to know and dislike. I’m going with IMPOSTOR! Nonetheless, whomever was up there singing, nailed it!

What’s more important to me here at Music on Mondays, though, is this:

On this day in 1978, there was a tie for Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards:

“You Light Up My Life” by Debby Boone

“Love Theme From ‘A Star Is Born’ (Evergreen)”
by Barbra Streisand

It is the only tie in the 57-year history of the Grammy Awards.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Bringing everything together with last night’s Oscar Awards, Barbra Streisand is the only person to be involved in a tie at the Grammys and a tie at the Oscars! In 1968, Streisand and Katherine Hepburn tied in the Oscar Best Actress category, Streisand for her performance in Funny Girl, and Hepburn for her performance in The Lion in Winter.

The Song of the Year at the 1968 Grammys was “Up, Up and Away” by The 5th Dimension:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

According to the Billboard Hot 100, “You Light Up My Life” spent 25 weeks on the chart, 10 of those weeks at #1.

“Love Theme from ‘A Star is Born’ (Evergreen)” also spent 25 weeks on the chart, but only 3 weeks at #1.

Ten years earlier, “Up, Up and Away” peaked at #7, spending 12 weeks on the chart.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (2-16-15)—King Tut

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

On this day in 1923, archaeologists opened the tomb of King Tut. Anything having to do with King Tut reminds me of Steve Martin’s 1978 novelty song of the same title which, novelty though it was, climbed up to #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The song actually is by King Tut & The Toot Uncommons, members of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Steve Martin premiered it on “Saturday Night Live” on April 22, 1978.

Although “Saturday Night Live” started in my college years, I was never a big fan of the show. Never a big fan of Steve Martin, either. The humor of SNL and Steve Martin escaped me, but I realize I’m in a minority….

However, I am reminded today that “The Discovery of King Tut” exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum is here until April 26. I missed the brouhaha and the 1976-1978 traveling exhibit that made its way throughout the United States, and I missed King Tut the last time he came to San Diego a decade ago. I shall endeavor to get my rear in gear and get to the exhibit before it closes, for I do love history.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (2-9-15)—If Paul liked them, I might like them too

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

I have never watched the Grammys, or the Emmys, or the Oscars, or any other award shows.

They just never interested me.

I do read through the list of winners and sometimes explore the artists if I’m not familiar with them.

For the 2015 Grammys, I wasn’t familiar with most of the artists, and after exploring a few with whom I was not familiar, I gave up. None of them or their songs were doing anything for me.

So I thought I would reach into Grammys of the past for today’s Music on Mondays post.

Paul McCartney was on the Grammys last night, which reminded me that Paul McCartney & Wings won the 1980 Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for “Rockestra Theme.” I loved that he won, but I didn’t consider “Rocekstra Theme” to be an instrumental.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Rockestra Theme” is from the seventh and final album by Paul McCartney & Wings. It was not well received critically at the time although it made it to #8 on the Billboard 200 album chart. I, of course, being a huge Beatles fan, could not get enough of McCartney & Wings. I thought it was an awesome album.

What is most interesting about “Rockestra Theme” is the artists playing on the song.

(McCartney has issued two albums on which he played every instrument: “McCartney” from 1970 and “McCartney II” from 1980. I consider those the two worst albums in his music catalog.)

On “Rockestra Theme,” released as a single only in Europe, the artists beyond the Wings personnel included:

Guitars: David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Peter Townshend of The Who, Hank Marvin of The Shadows (backing band for Cliff Richard)

Drums: John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, Kenny Jones of Small Faces

Basses: John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Ronnie Lane of Small Faces, Bruce Thomas of The Attractions

Piano: Gary Brooker of Procol Harum

Percussion: Ray Cooper, arguably history’s greatest percussion session musician

Saxophone: Howie Casey of Howie Casey & The Seniors

There were many more musicians playing on “Rockestra Theme” but the ones I named here are the ones I was familiar with at the time (Pink Floyd, The Who, Led Zeppelin) or, after reading the musician list for the album back in 1979, I searched out. I figured if Paul liked them, I might like them, too. And I did.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (2-2-15)—All my rowdy friends have gone

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Within seconds after the Super Bowl ended, Patriot fans were posting Queen’s 1977 hit song “We Are The Champions” on Facebook.

I don’t know about other countries, but here in the United States “We Are The Champions” probably is the most recognizable sports anthem ever, being played at football games, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, swimming, diving….

There are other sports songs that have become sports anthems, like John Fogerty’s 1985 hit “Centerfield,” but with the end of football season, I was wondering about other football songs. I could only come up with five directly related to football. None of them are in my music collection, so I have not embedded a video in my blog. Instead, there’s a link to take you to the YouTube video in a new window.

The Super Bowl Shuffle
Chicago Bears (1985)
Sadly, “The Super Bowl Shuffle” made it all the way
to #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight
Hank Williams Jr. (1985)
With some adaptations, the NFL used this
as its theme song from 1989 to 2011.

All Kinds of Time
Fountains of Wayne (2003)
The NFL used this song in its commercials in 2005.

The Boys of Fall
Kenny Chesney (2010)
Peaked at #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart
but made it all the way to #1 on the
Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

Green and Yellow
Lil Wayne (2011)
Lil Wayne’s tribute to the Green Bay Packers,
although I think he spent more time bashing other
teams rather than glorifying the Packers.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (1-26-15)—I don’t want to get thin

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

My wise old grandmotherToday would have been the 104th birthday of my wise old grandmother (1911-2003).

In her honor, I thought I would feature some songs that were popular in 1911 when she was born.

I thought that I wouldn’t find anything and would have to resort to modern renditions of 1911 songs.

Well, there actually are recordings on YouTube of original versions from 1911.

The first song I discovered was by Sophie Tucker (1887-1966), and since I knew the name, I decided to delve more into who she was. Once I started researching her, I decided to feature her instead of songs from 1911. I think my wise old grandmother would be okay with that….

Sophie Tucker (neé Sonya Kalish) was a Ukrainian-born American singer, comedian, actress, and radio personality. She was bornto a Jewish family en route to America from Tulchyn, Vinnytsia Region, Russian Empire. The family appropriated the last name Abuza, settled in Hartford, Connecticut, and opened a restaurant. She was one of the most popular entertainers in America during the first half of the 20th century, widely known by the nickname “The Last of the Red Hot Mamas.”

Here is the first song I found:

“Some Of These Days” by Sophie Tucker (1887-1966)

“Some Of These Days” was entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1995. “Some Of These Days” also is the title of her 1945 autobiography.

Considered “big and ugly,” Sophie Tucker in 1908 started including “fat girl humor” in her burlesque shows.

Two of her most famous fat girl songs are “I Don’t Want To Get Thin” and “Nobody Loves A Fat Girl.”

Listen closely to the lyrics from 104 years ago. Seems when it comes to “fat girls,” nothing has changed in over a century. That, in my view, is a sad commentary on society, or maybe a sad commentary on a male-dominated society. I think we need more Sophie Tuckers in the world….

“I Don’t Want To Get Thin”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Nobody Loves A Fat Girl”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (1-19-15)—One man come in the name of love

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

In 1997, Jim and I visited Atlanta, our main interest being the site of the 1996 Olympics and Centennial Olympic Park bombing, and the CNN headquarters.

mlkAfter our Atlanta visit, I considered The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, 35 acres, the most interesting place in Atlanta that we had visited—the Sweet Auburn Historic District, King’s boyhood home, and the historic Ebeneezer Baptist Church where both King Jr. and King Sr. were pastors.

Since today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday and, in California, a state holiday, I thought I’d explore songs about Martin Luther King Jr.

When I went looking for such songs, interestingly I found two by a little Irish band called U2.

Whoever thought that such a historic man in the United States would be of such interest to a band from Ireland?

Both songs, “Pride (In The Name Of Love)” and “MLK,” are from U2’s classic 1984 album, “The Unforgettable Fire.”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Interestingly to me, “The Unforgettable Fire” reached #1 on the album charts in Australia, New Zealand, and Britain, but only #5 in Canada and #12 in the United States.

“Pride (In The Name Of Love)” made it to #1 on the single chart in New Zealand, #2 in Ireland, and #3 in Britain, but only #27 in Canada and #33 in the United States.

I think that’s telling considering that we still have significant racial problems here in the United States. Maybe Canada is more closely aligned to the United States than I once thought….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (1-12-15)—I’ll light a fire, you put some flowers in the vase

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

I had the pleasure of meeting Nevin Williams in person this morning after knowing him online for seven years!

Nevin is a mortgage broker, so in his honor, I thought we’d listen to two of my favorite songs about houses.

“This Ole House” by Stuart Hamblen, 1954

Stuart Hamblen (1908-1989) was one of American radio’s first “singing cowboys,” getting his start in 1926. According to Wikipedia: “This Ole House” was inspired while on a hunting trip in the High Sierras with a friend. The two men came upon what looked like an abandoned shack, wherein they found the body of an elderly man, apparently dead of natural causes. Hamblen came up with the lyrics to the song while riding horseback down the mountain, and composed the melody within a week.”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Our House” by Crosby Stills Nash & Young, 1970

According to Wikipedia: “The song originates in a domestic event that took place while Graham Nash was living with Joni Mitchell (and her two cats) in her house [in Los Angeles] …. What happened is that Joni and I – I don’t know whether you know anything about Los Angeles, but on Ventura Boulevard in the Valley, there’s a very famous deli called Art’s Deli. And we’d been to breakfast there. We’re going to get into Joan’s car, and we pass an antique store. And we’re looking in the window, and she saw a very beautiful vase that she wanted to buy… I persuaded her to buy this vase. It wasn’t very expensive, and we took it home. It was a very grey, kind of sleety, drizzly L.A. morning. And we got to the house in Laurel Canyon, and I said – got through the front door and I said, you know what? I’ll light a fire. Why don’t you put some flowers in that vase that you just bought? Well, she was in the garden getting flowers. That meant she was not at her piano, but I was… And an hour later ‘Our House’ was born, out of an incredibly ordinary moment that many, many people have experienced.”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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