Category Archives: Music on Mondays

Music on Mondays (4-20-13)—You can’t catch me but we can all come together in Folsom Prison

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Many decades ago when personal computers were just hitting the market, I got a gig with Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Houston’s largest law firm at the time, merging the computer culture with their corporate culture and teaching their secretaries, paralegals, assistants, and attorneys how to use computers and the prevalent software at the time, which was Lotus-1-2-3, PC Write, WordStar, and WordPerfect.

Ever since those days I have had an inordinate interest in the law, often making it an avocation wherever I have been.

Perhaps the aspect of law that I most enjoy is copyright law, so it’s only natural that when my love of music butts heads with the law, I find it interesting. I mean, after all there are only so many notes, chords, and riffs that can be strung together to make music and songs. Over time, then, there’s bound to be a little borrowing here and there, even if only subconsciously.

Here are two music lawsuits involving the very rich and famous, and that the richer and more famous person lost:

The great Johnny Cash was sued by Gordon Jenkins who claimed that Cash used lyrics and melody from Jenkins’ 1953 composition “Crescent City Blues” in his 1955 hit “Folsom Prison Blues.” Even the opening lines are similar. Cash paid up, to the tune of $75,000.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There’s no question that in the realm of music, Chuck Berry was rich and famous. However, he sued someone even richer and more famous, John Lennon, and won.

Berry’s publishing company sued Lennon, claiming that lines and melodies for “Come Together” were taken from Berry’s 1956 song, “You Can’t Catch Me.” As part of the settlement, Lennon agreed to record three songs owned by publisher Morris Levy, including a cover of “You Can’t Catch Me” for Lennon’s 1975 covers album Rock ‘N’ Roll.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift? Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage? Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Music on Mondays (4-13-15)—You poor little fool

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

One of my favorite television programs when I was in grade school was The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, on the air from 1952 to 1966.

As music became an integral part of my life with violin, piano, and voice, Ozzie & Harriet’s son, Rick, became part of my life.

Before I ever discovered Ricky Nelson, though, he already had two #1 hit singles, “Poor Little Fool” from 1958, and “Travelin’ Man” from 1961.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The period before I discovered him in 1972 resulted in eighteen Top 10 hits! I discovered him when “Garden Party” peaked at #6 in 1972.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In 1985, the Texas A&M football team had won the Southwest Conference Championship and was to meet Auburn University in the Cotton Bowl on January 1, 1986, in Dallas.

I had many friends living in the Dallas area, and one of them got us tickets to a New Year’s Eve concert, billed as a New Year’s Eve Extravaganza with Ricky Nelson. Sadly, Nelson’s private jet crashed in De Kalb, Texas, northeast of Dallas, and about two miles short of the landing strip. The crash happened at 5:14 p.m. Dallas time; I was at a bar celebrating when the news began circulating around 9:00 p.m. that Ricky Nelson was dead. There was no extravaganza that night.

Up until 1993 I still had the obviously unused ticket to the concert but I think it got left behind in Texas when I came to San Diego. It probably got thrown away. Too bad because it would probably be worth quite a bit of money!

Of course, I have to mention that Texas A&M won the Cotton Bowl Classic on January 1, 1986, beating an Auburn team that featured Heisman Trophy-winning running back Bo Jackson. Final score was 36-16.

Fightin' Texas Aggie Band from Texas A&M University

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift? Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage? Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Music on Mondays (4-6-15)—Another day with me and you and a dog named Boo on the Indian reservation

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Most of my readers probably know that I have a lot of music comprising many genres of which most is either in the pop category or classical. I call the pop category my non-classical music. Currently I have 1,670 hours, 32 minutes, and 10 seconds of non-classical music. I listen to an average of 11 hours, 10 minutes of music each and every day, which means that it takes me about 149½ days just to listen to the non-classical music. It takes me the rest of the year to listen to all my classical music.

Long-time readers also probably know that I listen to my non-classical music in chronological order. Today I’m in the year 1971. Of the many albums released that year, I have 58 of them. In the order in which I listen to them:

  1. Kongos by John Kongos
  2. First Album by ZZ Top
  3. Salisbury by Uriah Heep
  4. Chicago III by Chicago
  5. Paranoid by Black Sabbath
  6. Crazy Horse by Crazy Horse
  7. Love It To Death by Alice Cooper
  8. Ring Of Hands by Argent
  9. The Yes Album by Yes
  10. Percy by The Kinks
  11. Aqualung by Jethro Tull
  12. Manna by Bread
  13. Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones
  14. The Doobie Brothers by The Doobie Brothers
  15. Survival by Grand Funk
  16. Bloodrock 3 by Bloodrock
  17. Thirds by The James Gang
  18. Songs For Beginners by Graham Nash
  19. Ram by Paul & Linda McCartney
  20. L.A. Woman by The Doors
  21. Indelibly Stamped by Supertramp
  22. Tarkus by Emerson, Lake & Palmer
  23. Every Good Boy Deserves Favor by The Moody Blues
  24. Fireball by Deep Purple
  25. Master Of Reality by Black Sabbath
  26. Who’s Next? by The Who
  27. April Wine by April Wine
  28. Bark by Jefferson Airplane
  29. Future Games by Fleetwood Mac
  30. Harmony by Three Dog Night
  31. Look At Yourself by Uriah Heep
  32. Imagine by John Lennon
  33. Rock Love by The Steve Miller Band
  34. American Pie by Don McLean
  35. Other Voices by The Doors
  36. REO Speedwagon by REO Speedwagon
  37. The Morning After by The J. Geils Band
  38. UFO 2—Flying by UFO
  39. Distant Light by The Hollies
  40. Meddle by Pink Floyd
  41. Cold Spring Harbor by Billy Joel
  42. Funny How Sweet Co-Co Can Be by The Sweet
  43. Muswell Hillbillies by The Kinks
  44. Nazareth by Nazareth
  45. People Like Us by The Mamas & The Papas
  46. Sittin’ In by Loggins & Messina
  47. Year Of Sunday by Seals & Crofts
  48. Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin
  49. Nilsson Schmillson by Nilsson
  50. Fragile by Yes
  51. E Pluribus Funk by Grand Funk
  52. Madman Across The Water by Elton John
  53. Killer by Alice Cooper
  54. Trafalgar by The Bee Gees
  55. Straight Up by Badfinger
  56. The Electric Light Orchestra by The Electric Light Orchestra
  57. The Concert For Bangladesh by George Harrison & Friends
  58. Wild Life by Wings

So which is my favorite album? I couldn’t decide. Maybe there is a tie for first place:

Ram by Paul & Linda McCartney
Who’s Next? by The Who
Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin
Nilsson Schmilsson by Nilsson
Trafalgar by The Bee Gees.

If you know those albums well, you’ll notice that every song on the albums are quite singable, and I love to sing.

I also have 71 individual song files but I’m not going to list all of them here. I can’t choose my favorite among them, either, but following are ten that I love to sing along with. I hope they bring back some pleasant memories for someone.

Jeepster by T. Rex
Not released as a single

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Another Day by Paul McCartney
McCartney’s first post-Beatles single, a #5 hit

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Indian Reservation by Paul Revere & The Raiders
Their only #1 hit

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Me & You & A Dog Named Boo by Lobo
Lobo’s first single, a #5 hit

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Albert Flasher by The Guess Who
#29 hit

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Signs by Five Man Electrical Band
Their first single, a #3 hit

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Draggin’ The Line by Tommy James
A #4 hit a year after James said good-bye to The Shondells

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Saturday Morning Confusion by Bobby Russell
Russell wrote dozens of hits for others
but had only two hits himself
this his biggest at #28

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Where Evil Grows by The Poppy Family
A #45 hit, although until this blog post
I thought it made it much higher.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Rain Dance by The Guess Who
#19

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift? Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage? Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Music on Mondays (3-30-15)—Hear me roar (or see me sleep)

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

There are many babies at the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park right now, including a baby hippo born a week ago, a baby lowland gorilla, and a baby jaguar.

This is not a baby:

African lion at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That is a big cat, an African Lion, the King of the Jungle. Doesn’t look all that ferocious to me. In fact, he looks suspiciously like another cat I know:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I have never seen the African Lions at the Zoo looking ferocious, only Zoey the Cool Cat:

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Every time I see lions sleeping, I think of Robert John and his 1972 hit, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Robert John peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It’s the version I grew up with; I was a junior in high school.

The song itself, though, is actually quite a bit older, having originally been recorded in 1939 as “Mbube” by the South African Zulu group Solomon Linda & The Evening Birds. Mbube is Zulu for lion.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Whenever I think of Zulu and Africa, I think first of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, best known for singing with Paul Simon on his #1 album “Graceland” from 1986. Sure enough, Ladysmith Black Mambazo did a version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

(YouTube and Wikipedia by far are my favorite Internet sites but they do cause me not to visit libraries as often as I should…….)

The Weavers had a #14 hit in 1952.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I found The Weavers themselves to be rather interesting because one of their members was the incomparable Pete Seeger (1919-2014). Seeger was a prolific songwriter, having written “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”, recorded by dozens of groups throughout music history and listed by New Statesman as one of the Top 20 political songs of all time. I am most familiar with the version by Peter, Paul & Mary:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Seeger also wrote “If I Had A Hammer,” a #10 hit for Peter, Paul & Mary in late 1962, as well as a #3 hit for Trini Lopez in the summer of 1963.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Turn! Turn! Turn!” by The Byrds also was written by Seeger and was a #1 hit for them in late 1965. The Byrds were one of three groups performing at the first rock concert I ever went to, that concert being at The Yellow Rose of Texas dance hall in Corpus Christi in 1972. (Chicago & Dr. John were the other two groups.)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

With that little side journey out of the way, let’s get back to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

The Tokens’ version arguably is the best known, having spent three weeks at #1 in 1961.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I say arguably because younger readers probably know best the version by Timon and Pumbaa used in the Disney movie “The Lion King.”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I feel like I just played a musical version of Six Degrees of Separation.

And with that, I return you to your regularly scheduled Monday programming.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift? Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage? Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Music on Mondays (3-16-15)—Imagine a get together on the peace train

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Today seems to be a big war day because on this day in history, the United States Military Academy was established, the Battle of Averasboro (North Carolina) occurred in 1865, President Reagan ordered troops into Honduras in 1988, United States troops massacred unarmed villagers in Vietnam in 1968 in what would become known as the My Lai Massacre, and fighting on Iwo Jima ended in 1945.

So maybe we need to explore some songs about peace for today’s Music on Mondays….

Peace lily

At the top of my list of songs about peace would be John Lennon’s classic hit “Imagine” from 1971. Imagine if there were no religion and no countries. No gods and no borders to fight over. The world might truly live in peace….

“Imagine” by John Lennon

Surprisingly to me, “Imagine” only spent nine weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at #3. That made me wonder what #1 and #2 were. So here’s some history:

“Imagine” debuted at #20 on October 23, 1971. #1 was Maggie May/Reason To Believe by Rod Stewart.

“Imagine” jumped to #6 on October 30. #1 was Maggie May/Reason To Believe by Rod Stewart, and #2 was “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves” by Cher.

“Imagine” moved to #4 on November 6. “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves” took over the #1 spot, and #2 was “Theme From Shaft” by Isaac Hayes.

November 13 saw the same #1 and #2 songs with “Imagine” moving to #3.

November 20: Cher and Isaac Hayes switched places with Lennon staying at #3.

November 27: Isaac Hayes remained at #1, Cher at #2, with Lennon falling to #6.

December 4: “Imagine” fell to #10. “Family Affair” by Sly & The Family Stone took over the #1 position. “Theme from Shaft” fell to #2.

December 11: #1 and #2 stayed the same. “Imagine” fell to #13.

December 18: “Imagine” fell to #23. “Family Affair” remained #1 while “Brand New Key” by Melanie took over the #2 spot.

December 25: “Brand New Key” moved to #1 with “Family Affair” falling to #2. “Imagine” dropped completely off the chart.

In retrospect, I think “Imagine” has had a much longer shelf life than any of the other songs.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The rest of the songs are in no particular order. Just whatever came across my mind as I was writing this post.

“Get Together” by The Youngbloods

Come on people now, smile on your brother.
Everybody get together and try to love one another right now

“Get Together” original was released in late 1967 but only made it to #62 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was re-released in 1969 when it was chosen as the theme for the National Conference of Christians and Jews, making it to #5 on the charts.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Peace Train” by Cat Stevens

Oh, I’ve been smilin’ lately,
Dreamin’ about the world as one

“Peace Train,” released in 1971, peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Cat Stevens probably is the epitome of walking the talk. In December 1977, Cat Stevens (neé Steven Demetre Georgiou) converted to Islam, adopted the name Yusuf Islam in 1978, and auctioned all of his guitars in 1979 and donated the money to charity. He left his music career to devote himself to educational and philanthropic causes in the Muslim community. He has received several awards for his work in promoting peace in the world, including the 2003 World Award, the 2004 Man of Peace Award, and the 2007 Mediterranean Prize for Peace.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Music on Mondays (3-9-15)—A hundred and eighty were challenged

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

I was born and raised in the small ranching and farming community of Kingsville, Texas. I graduated from Texas A&M University, the first public institution of higher education in the State of Texas. I’m pretty much a Texas boy except for their weird politics that seem to have gripped the state within the past twenty years. Coincidentally, I left in April 1993. Maybe if I had stayed, the State would have joined the 21st Century….

When my wise old grandmother took me to HemisFair ’68 in San Antonio, I was overjoyed. Not because I was going to get to go to HemisFair but because the Alamo was close by, and that’s where I really wanted to go. I was more into history than carnival rides….

Scott #1043, The AlamoThe Alamo, a mission in 1843, is now the most visited tourist attraction in the State of Texas. I was familiar with the Alamo only through my hobby as a stamp collector because it was featured on a postage stamp issued on June 14, 1956.

The Alamo is most famous as the site of the Battle of the Alamo, a 13-day siege of the Alamo by Mexican forces under General Santa Ana. The Mexican forces won that battle and it looked like the end of the road for Texas forces. The fall of the Alamo, though, seemed to embolden Texas forces, ultimately resulting in the victory at San Jacinto that won Texas its independence from Mexico.

The Alamo has also been featured in books, in movies, on television, and in song. Here is my favorite song about the Alamo, Marty Robbins’ 1960 hit, “Ballad of the Alamo, from the movie “The Alamo” starring John Wayne:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Alamo in music is more interesting if we start in 1955 with “Remember The Alamo” written by Texas singer/songwriter Jane Bowers. Tex Ritter released the song in 1955 as the B side of his “Gunsmoke” single.

“Remember The Alamo” didn’t make much impact at the time, but through the years it has been covered by the Kingston Trio, Johnny Cash, Donovan, and Asleep at the Wheel, as well as many others.

I’m a big fan of Donovan but I was unfamiliar with his version of “Remember The Alamo” so I went to find it. Here it is:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Donovan would have been at the bottom of my list of people to sing about The Alamo. He’s a British singer, songwriter, and guitarist! I tried to find out why a British singer would record a very non-British song, but nothing special is showing up anywhere. I guess he just liked the song….

“Remember The Alamo” is listed by the Western Writers of America as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Music on Mondays (3-2-15)—Have you ever seen the rain?

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

It’s still raining. Thirty hours straight. Do Mother & Father Nature not remember that this is San Diego and that it doesn’t rain here in March. Or is Mr. Climate Change even more powerful than I had imagined?

Nonetheless, since it’s raining, I thought we’d explore rain songs for today’s Music on Mondays.

I have to start off with a rain song by my all-time favorite group, The Beatles:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Rain” was the B side of the “Paperback Writer” single. Nonetheless, “Rain” made it up to #23 on the Billboard Hot 100 while “Paperback Writer” made it all the way to #1.

However, when I thought about doing rain songs, the first song that came to mind was “Rainy Days and Mondays by The Carpenters:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Rainy Days and Mondays” was The Carpenters’ fifth hit, spending 12 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaking at #2, staying there for two weeks.

Supertramp with “It’s Raining Again,” a 1982 hit of theirs that peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Creedence Clearwater Revival released “Who’ll Stop The Rain” as the B side of their 1970 single “Travellin’ Band.” In my opinion, they got that one wrong. “Who’ll Stop The Rain” is the better song.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Creedence Clearwater Revival obviously had a fascination with rain. Here’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” from 1971, a hit that peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In Spring 1970 I was in the high school chorus. The teacher gave us the music for our performance in the regional contest, “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head,” a #1 hit by B. J. Thomas from November 1969. Sadly, our chorus wasn’t the only chorus that chose that song for regionals. That might be when I realized that I didn’t want to be faddish, and I never have been.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

As an example, I was way late seeing “The Dress” on social media. Here’s my take on “The Dress”:

Black cat with blue eyes

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

And lastly, probably my favorite song about the rain:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Need a unique gift?
Anniversary? Birthday? Graduation? Marriage?
Choose Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos at Fine Art America.

Photographic Art logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post