Category Archives: Music on Mondays

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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Music on Mondays (11-9-15)—Only a boy

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

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One of my favorite activities on Facebook is reading the memes. Here is one of my favorites from last week:

War is rich old menPictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I first realized that truth sometime in 1973 while I was in college at Texas A&M University. In my freshman history class I chose to write my term paper on the Vietnam War. That was when I discovered that the children of the rich and the privileged don’t go off to war except in the most dire circumstances. Maybe that’s why I like Prince Harry so much—a rich, privileged dude who actually wanted to go to war with the lower class children.

In February 2007 when it was announced that his regiment was being deployed to Iraq, many wanted to keep Prince Harry safe at home, to which he replied: “There’s no way I’m going to put myself through Sandhurst and then sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country.”

Sadly, “boys” is true about the armed services. In 2014, 44 percent of Army recruits enlisted during high school or right afterward. That’s down from a high of 65 percent in 1992. The other military branches are similar.

Following is a relevant song, “Only A Boy” by Jan & Dean, that I discovered this past week. Released in 1968, it’s now part of my vast music collection.

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Makes one wonder why the rich and privileged don’t go to war themselves. Are they worried that no one would take their place at home in the rich and privileged world? Hmmm. Somehow I suspect that someone would step forward to do their job at home. Maybe we need term limits on the rich and privileged. Maximum ten years. Then you have to work with the lower class until your next rich and privileged years roll around.

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Music on Mondays (11-2-15)—Don’t go walkin’ in the woods alone

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Music always has been a significant part of my life since my mom played the piano and organ, her parents played the violin and flute, and I played the piano and violin, as well as sang. Although I have an appreciation for classical music, I prefer full orchestra over solos, duos, trios, quartets, quintets, sextets, and octets.

When I was introduced to The Beatles in late 1965, I fell in love with pop music. After I graduated from Texas A&M University, I set out to own all of the singles and albums that had made it to #1 on the Billboard charts during the rock ‘n’ roll era, generally said to have started in 1955, the same year I was born. That led me to Casey Kasem (1932-2014) and his American Top 40 weekly broadcast, as well as books by Joel Whitburn documenting the Billboard charts.

Music trivia became a part of my life, so much so that I won several weekly happy hour music trivia contests in Houston and College Station during the ’80s.

Two areas of music trivia I always have found interesting: “one-hit wonders” and “most #2 hits without having a #1 hit.”

Creedence Clearwater Revival held (and probably still holds) the record for most #2 hits without having a #1 hit with five #2’s: Proud Mary, Bad Moon Rising, Green River, Travelin’ Band, and Lookin’ Out My Back Door. They also had a #3, #4, #6, and #8. I have a complete Creedence Clearwater Revival discography; I like their music since it’s easy to sing along.

Another group on the “most #2 hits without having a #1 hit” list is Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs, with two #2 hits: Wooly Bully and Lil’ Red Riding Hood. I always liked Lil’ Red Riding Hood and just discovered that it was not in my digital music collection. It is now.

This song, while building on Charles Perrault’s fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood,” is more about the man with concealed sexual intentions rather than the animal, although some might say that the man with ulterior sexual intentions is an animal….

The singer remarks on the “big eyes” and “full lips” that Red Riding Hood has. An added element is that he says to the song’s audience that he is disguised in a “sheep suit” until he can demonstrate his good intentions. Note that instead of a sheep’s baah the song uses a wolf call in the form of a howl.

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