Category Archives: Music on Mondays

Music on Mondays (9-19-16)—All your ways are known to me

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

About five decades ago I wanted to be a history teacher. Then I found out how much money teachers made in Texas and decided to be something else. I still love history, though, so when I saw the following bumper sticker” in front of me at a traffic signal, I had to figure out a way to get a picture of it since it was rush hour traffic. I ended up following him for several miles, turning where he turned, speeding up, slowing down, doing everything necessary to stay behind him. I wonder if he thought he was being followed, like in the movies….

History, it's not just about dead guys

Since this is Monday, I thought it might be interested to explore history in music, and when I thought about that, the first person who came to mind was Al Stewart.

According to Wikipedia, Alastair Ian “Al” Stewart was born September  5, 1945, in Glasgow, Scotland. His unique style combines folk rock songs tales of characters and events from throughout history. He played at the first Glastonbury Festival in 1970, knew Yoko Ono before she met John Lennon, and shared a London flat with a young Paul Simon. He’s interconnected with a lot of my favorite musicians., and I do have a complete collection of his music. I first discovered Stewart in 1976 as a junior at Texas A&M University when he released his super-album “Year of the Cat.” Here’s the title track:

“Year of the Cat” from “Year of the Cat” (1976)

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He hasn’t had quite the commercial success that he had with “Year of the Cat,” possibly because too many people don’t study history and, thus, don’t have a clue what he’s singing about.

Look at the titles to many of his albums and you can see Stewart’s interest in history:

Past, Present and Future
Modern Times
Time Passages
Last Days of the Century
Between the Wars
Sparks of Ancient Light

“Year of the Cat” used to be my favorite Stewart album until I was able to get a complete collection of his music. Now it’s #2 behind “Past, Present and Future.”

Here are a few of my other favorite Al Stewart songs:

“Roads to Moscow” from “Past, Present and Future” (1973)

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“Nostradamus” from “Past, Present and Future” (1973)

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“(A Child’s View of) The Eisenhower Years” from “Sparks of Ancient Light” (2009)

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The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

After I graduated from Texas A&M University and moved to Houston, I spent a lot of time touring the Gulf Coast going to concerts. Although I did get to see the Rolling Stones, Chicago, Fleetwood Mac, Paul McCartney & Wings, George Harrison, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and many others, most of the concerts were small, local gigs by up and coming groups. Back in those days, every Friday and Saturday night was spent with friends at the local bars and venues playing pool and listening to music.

Then I moved to San Diego in 1993 and never got involved in the local music scene again….

Until these past two years. Many of you know that I gave Julian Rey Saenz his first job in the business world when he turned 16. Julian plays the guitar, and I sometimes went to karoke nights to hear him sing and play.

This past April, Julian invited me to a concert where he, Big Bad Buffalo, and Indio Romero were playing. Julian knew that I love music (except for Rap and Hip-Hop) but warned me that Big Bad Buffalo and Indio Romero were loud. He was right, and the ringing in my ears for the next month reminded me of why I quit the local music scene when I left Texas………lol

I liked all three performers, but one of Julian’s friends, Jordan, was the guitarist for Big Bad Buffalo. I didn’t know at that time what genre they considered themselves but they had great rhthym, a driving bass, and a guitar that wouldn’t quit. They had my attention.

Julian and Jordan graduated from high school this past June. Julian has taken off to Palo Alto CA where he has enrolled as a freshman at Stanford University (I told y’all two years ago that he was smart, but did you listen………..?). Although Jordan also graduated high school with honors, he desperately wants to be a musician. Since I used to play the piano and violin, as well as sing, and played professionally with the Corpus Christi, Houston, and Brazos County symphonies, I definitely understand that “wants to be a musician” thing.

Well, Big Bad Buffalo has just released their second album, this one eponymous.

Big Bad Buffalo

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There are 15 songs on the album, and although I have been listening to it for the past two days, I’m not quite sure which is my favorite, although “Transitland” and “She’s Just the Icing on the Cake” are up there. All of the songs except “Somewhere To Be” are fast, driving songs with drums, base, guitars that won’t quit, and words that I actually can understand without looking up the lyrics. Poor diction and enunciation, especially in loud rock ‘n’ roll music, has always been a pet peeve of mine.

The musicians of Big Bad Buffalo are:

  • Alex Staninger – Drums, Piano, Vocals
  • Silvio Damone – Bass, Piano, Vocals
  • Jordan Krimston – Guitar, Vocals

Tags from their web site indicate that the music is punk, alternative rock, beep boop, math rock, and “what’s in a genre?” I think they have a sense of humor, too!

I wanted to embed the album here but the embed code I got from their host, both for html and for wordpress.com, is not working; hey, they are musicians, not computer experts……..

So, following is a link to the album. Hope y’all enjoy it enough to buy it, download it, buy individual songs, check out all their music, perhaps donate to help them keep on keepin’ on.

Big Bad Buffalo

Once I figure out, or have someone show me, how to embed the album here, I’ll edit this post to do that.

I will be going to see them in concert this coming Friday, 9:00 p.m. at Lestat’s Coffee House; it’s an all ages concert so I’m pretty sure this 61-year-old with virgin ears will be allowed in.

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The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Music on Mondays—Some of my favorite music from 61 years of life

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

My mother was a pianist and organist, her mom played flute, and her dad played violin. I grew up playing piano and violin, starting at age 2 with piano and age 6 with violin.

I also sang, first in church choirs and school choruses, and then in college and community ensembles, choirs, and choruses. My two most memorable singing stops were with the Gay Men’s Chorus of San Diego (1993-1994 and 1996-2001) and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (1994-1995).

My music career, though, was focused more on violin than anything else. I made stops with the South Texas Regional Orchestra, the Texas Youth Symphony, the Texas A&I University Symphony, the Corpus Christi Symphony, the Houston Symphony, and the Brazos Valley Symphony. I gave up violin in 1993 when I moved to San Diego and became a beach bum. Violins, sand, and salt air just don’t mix well.

Although I no longer play the piano or violin, or sing, I listen to an average of 12 hours of music each day from my digital collection of over 3,300 hours.

Following is a short list of my favorite music, in alphabetical order. Links are to YouTube videos.

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Music on Mondays (5-23-16)—When the music’s over, turn out the lights

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

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When I’m driving for Uber I always play classical music in the car because even if one doesn’t like classical music, one cannot possibly be offended by it. That’s not necessarily the case with rap, hip hop, and even rock and roll. I can immediately think of a song where John Lennon says “f**k” and another where Joan Jett sings “Starf**ker” which is also the name of the song. Not knowing when the offensive language might come up in a song prevents me from listening in the car to songs with words while other people are riding along.

Yesterday, one of my riders commented how nice it was that someone was listening to classical music. That started a long conversation since it was a long ride to his destination, and we agreed that if they brought music (orchestra, band, chorus) back to grade schools, we might have a less angry world.

Following, then, are some songs about music in your day. If you have a favorite that I haven’t included, feel free to leave the name in a comment.

“I Can Hear Music” by The Beach Boys, 1969

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“Make Your Own Kind Of Music” by Mama Cass Elliot, 1969

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“Add Some Music To Your Day” by The Beach Boys, 1970

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“That’s When The Music Takes Me” by Neil Sedaka, 1972

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“Don’t Stop The Music” by Rihanna, 2007

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“Rock And Roll Music” by Chuck Berry, 1957

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“The Sound Of Music” by Julie Andrews, 1965

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“Let The Music Play” by Shannon, 1983

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“I Got The Music In Me” by Kiki Dee, 1974

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“Let The Music Play” by Johnny Winter, 1970

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“They Can’t Take Away Our Music” by Eric Burdon & War, 1970

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“When The Music’s Over” by The Doors, 1967

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The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Music on Mondays (041116)—Road trip!

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

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I’ve been thinking about my next road trip after finding out about a company called Turo. Turo is a car rental marketplace where travelers can rent any car they want, wherever they want it, from a nationwide community of local car owners, making Turo a great option for car rentals for a road trip. They have a much wider price range than standard rentals, so they are a great resource for adventurers who want to hit the open road.

Anyhow, I started creating a road trip song list and thought I would share the beginnings with y’all!

I listen to my non-classical music collection (currently 1,649 hours, 55 minutes, and 10 seconds of music) while in the car; the only two genres not represented in my non-classical collection are rap and hip-hop. I don’t care for the vulgarity that is too often present in songs in those genres.

My specific road trip play list would have two types of songs on it: songs I can sing to and songs I can tap my foot to (left foot; the right foot is working the gas and brake pedals). So maybe my ideal road trip play list would have songs that I can both sing to AND tap my foot to. Here are a few of them, in no specific order other than the order in which they popped up in my head:

“Generation Clash” by Accept, 1989

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Lots of songs by Queen would make this list, including, of course, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (think “Wayne’s World”). Queen’s 1975 album, “A Night At The Opera” probably is on my list of Top 10 albums of all time. The album itself would make a great road trip listen. This, possibly, is my favorite song from the album:

“39” by Queen, 1975

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Back in 1973 as a freshman at Texas A&M University, a friend and I would road trip to football games in his Firebird. Both of us were huge fans of The Doobie Brothers. Here’s one of their songs that we were always playing on our road trips, and which would still be on my road trip playlist 40+ years later:

“Rockin’ Down The Highway” by The Doobie Brothers, 1972

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After graduating from Texas A&M University, I hung out with a different crowd since everyone from college took jobs in different cities. That was when I discovered Fleetwood Mac, and this next song became a road trip staple:

“Never Going Back Again” by Fleetwood Mac, 1977

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Lots of songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival and, after their breakup, John Fogerty would also make the list. CCR and Fogerty just have that natural driving rhythm in almost all of their songs. Here, let’s go with a song that has a car title:

“Hot Rod Heart” by John Fogerty, 1997
(Let’s go riding, cruising down the open road,
We can put the top down, listen to the radio….)

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A song from my Lost Music Decade, which means I only recently discovered it:

“Hunting Humans (Insatiable)” by Rainbow, 1995

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Since I’m a huge Paul McCartney fan, I love a song with good bass in it. McCartney, Peter Cetera of Chicago, Tiran Porter of The Doobie Brothers, and Wayne Nelson of Little River Band are my four favorite bassists. Here’s one of my favorite driving songs from Little River Band:

“No More Tears” by Little River Band, 1983

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I always knew the following song as “Things Go Better With Rock.” I never could find the song anywhere until a couple of years ago when I accidentally discovered the real name of the song and the name of the group.

“Turn Up The Radio” by Autograph, 1984

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Neil Young plays the celeste in this next song. One of my favorite songs by CSN&Y.

“Queen Of Them All” by Crosby Stills Nash & Young, 1999

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I did many a road trip in college with Bachman-Turner Overdrive playing on the car’s tape deck. BTO is similar to CCR in that almost every song makes a good road trip song. Here’s one of my favorites:

“Roll On Down The Highway” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive, 1974
(The time’s real short, you know the distance is long.
I’d like to have a jet but it’s not in the song….)

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By now everyone probably is asking, “Where are The Beatles? Where are The Beatles?” Fear not, dear readers. I’ve simply been trying to decide what one song from The Beatles should be in this post. I can’t decide….

Still haven’t decided….

Nope.

Haven’t decided yet….

Still stumped….

Okay.

I think I have it.

How about this one since it was one of my favorite riding songs from high school, a time when I didn’t have a car so I didn’t drive. But friends had to put up with me singing this song over and over and over again on the way to Whataburger, or Sonic, or the dance hall. Maybe I wanted to be a paperback writer….

“Paperback Writer” by The Beatles, 1966

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Music on Mondays (1-18-2016)—”Sounds of Silence” celebrates its Golden Anniversary this month

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

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I started listening to rock music in late 1965 when I was in the Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital in Ogden, Utah. I was in the troubled youth ward, either because my mom and stepdad put me there, or the State of Utah put me there. I’ll never know because mom and stepdad are dead, and the State of Utah records, as well as the Dee hospital records were destroyed long ago.

Nonetheless, I thought 2016 would be a great time to check out some of the albums which are celebrating their golden anniversary this year, so each month for one of my Music on Monday series, I’ll be highlighting an album from 1966. I’ll only be highlighting those which I own, which reside in my non-classical digital music collection.

First up is “Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel, released on January 17, 1966. I didn’t buy this album until 1971 when Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” beat out The Beatles’ “Let It Be” for the Song of the Year. As a Beatles fan, I vehemently disagreed with that choice. But it was a great song so I went off to explore other Simon & Garfunkel songs.

Following is the complete album, but if you only have time to listen to a couple of songs, listen to “The Sounds of Silence” (peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart) and “I Am A Rock” (peaked at #3).

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Music on Mondays (11-30-15)—Smart man….

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

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As I listen to music in my collection, certain songs remind me of certain people from my past. I thought it would be interesting to feature some of those songs for today’s Music on Mondays.

“Help” by The Beatles, released in 1965, reminds me of Barbara.

I met Barbara at the Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital in late 1965 when I had been placed in their “troubled youth” program. Barbara was from Bakersfield, California, also a troubled youth. She was near 18 whereas I was 10. She introduced me to The Beatles, and “Help” was my favorite song. Still is near the top of my list of favorite Beatles songs.

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“Something’s Wrong With Me” by Austin Roberts was a hit in October 1972. Reminds me of Mark.

Mark was the first guy that I had a crush on. I as 17 and supposed to be interested in girls. Wasn’t working. Something was wrong with me….

Mark worked at the Exxon station across from the railroad yards, and since my granddad worked on the railroad, I had no problem hanging around the railroad to watch Mark across the street. I went to Mark’s wedding in 1984 or so…. a bittersweet event.

It took until 1993 before I realized that absolutely nothing was wrong with me. I simply had different interests….

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“Pieces Of April” by Three Dog Night was a big hit in November 1972.

“Pieces Of April” reminds me of Sarita, one of my closest female friends from high school. She lived not far from me whereas Mark lived on the other side of town. One day Sarita walked to my house and the two of us walked to Mark’s house. As we were walking down one of the city’s major thoroughfares, I was singing songs. Sarita asked if I knew “Pieces Of April.” I did (of course; I knew all the hits!), so I sang it for her.

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“In My Life” by The Beatles reminds me of Lynda.

Lynda was the second girl I dated, and I sang “In My Life” to her in high school on Valentine’s Day 1972. In December 1973 I asked her to marry me. Her dad, a Southern Baptist preacher, said no. Smart man………

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