Tag Archives: led zeppelin

Music on Mondays—He accepted my offer and conditions

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Over on Facebook, people are doing all sorts of things to stay connected but without all the political negativity and dystopian COVID-19 news.

Some of them are posting games requiring someone to tag you so that you can play. Then you have to tag someone else.

I have participated in some of them, but no one has tagged me for the one I really want to participate in: Post ten albums that influenced your life and your music interests, one per day. Just the album covers. Nothing else.

Well screw that.

I want to know what about the album influenced them!

Since I want more than just album covers, and I haven’t been invited to play with them in spite of all my friends knowing how much I am involved in music, well, I’ll play with myself.

Wait.

No.

I’ll play by myself.

Better.

So here they are, with explanatory material.

My wise old grandmother gave me a small, portable reel-to-reel tape recorder for Christmas 1968. That complemented the transister bedside AM/FM radio she had given me for my birthday in March 1968. It was hard for anything to drag me away from my radio and tape recorder, especially after I discovered KLOL FM in Houston. Lots of music, very little talk.

When friends would come over, we’d listen to my recordings. When I turned 18 in March 1973, all of those friends threw me a surprise birthday party. Since my wise old grandmother could not afford to buy me a senior ring, my friends presented me with one at my birthday party. Still have it. Although I wore it until I received my Texas A&M University ring in Fall 1976, it was not my favorite birthday present. Along with everyone contributing to the cost of my senior ring, each friend had bought me an album, so all ten of the albums listed here were given to me at my 18th birthday party, and they really have influenced my listening because some of these—Black Sabbath & Led Zeppelin—I never would have bought on my own.

It’s difficult for me to list albums according to which is my favorite, and after spending thirty minutes trying to do that with these ten, I gave up. Here they are in alphabetical order by title of album.

  1. Abbey Road by The BeatlesAbbey Road by The Beatles—Everyone knew that I was a huge Beatles fan. I knew the words to all their music and you could often find me singing Beatles songs on my walks between classes. “Come Together,” “Something,” “Here Comes The Sun”…. I was in heaven.
  2. All Things Must Pass by George Harrison—This was an expensive triple album given to me by Larry All Things Must Pass by George Harrisonand Sharon. Larry probably was my best friend then and is the one who got me interested in motorcycles. He had a paper route in the rural areas between Corpus Christi and Kingsville. One night I sneaked out my bedroom window and went with Larry on his motorcycle to Corpus Christi to get the papers. I threw papers left and right on the 45 miles home. Since we finished early, we went out to the caliche pits to do donuts on his bike. Caliche is gravel; we hit a soft spot and laid that bike down. My whole right side was bloody and full of gravel. I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. Until I got home. I was grounded until high school graduation a few weeks later.
  3. Best of the Beach Boys Vol. III by The Beach BoysBest of the Beach Boys Vol. III by The Beach Boys—The Beach Boys were right up there with The Beatles and The Who as my favorite singers. Every song was singable, and the harmonies were just gorgeous.
  4. Black Sabbath Vol. 4 by Black Sabbath—When I put Black Sabbath Vol. 4 by Black Sabbaththis on my little Sears stereo turntable, I was stunned. My wise old grandmother, on the other hand….. Well, she wasn’t thrilled with The Beatles, so you can imagine what she thought about black satanic death metal music. Steve gave me this album. Steve and I played violin in orchestra. I never would have thought he was into this kind of music, and I never would have thought that he would think that I was into this kind of music. Well, he was, and I was.
  5. Made In Japan by Deep PurpleMade In Japan by Deep Purple—Jaime’s family owned the local lumber store. They lived in a beautiful brick house (brick!), had awesome cars (Jaime had a Pontiac Trans Am) and awesome stereo systems (Jaime loved bass; he probably had the nation’s first boom boom boom bass stereo system in his car). In other words, his family was one of the richest in town, so he could afford to give me this double album all by himself.
  6. Led Zeppelin IV by Led ZeppelinLed Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin—This album made me a Zep fan for the ages. Physical Graffiti, however, is my favorite Zep album. This is #2.
  7. Paranoid by Black Sabbath—Ooopsy. Two black satanic death metal music albums. When “Iron Man,” came on, well, my wise old grandmother Paranoid by Black Sabbathcame storming into my room wanting to know what the hell I was listening to. At the time I did not know what black satanic death metal music was, but now I find it funny that she asked what the hell I was listening to. I told her, “I am Iron Man.” She did not think that was funny.
  8. Ram by Paul & Linda McCartneyRam by Paul & Linda McCartney—Paul McCartney was, and still is, my favorite Beatle. This album was released in May 1971 and had “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” on it. This was my favorite solo album by any of The Beatles until Wings released Band on the Run in December 1973.
  9. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles—What I thought then was The Beatles’ greatest album. Every. single. song. was immediately singable since the words were printed on the album cover, the first album in history to print the lyrics to all the songs.
  10. Who's Next? by The WhoWho’s Next? by The Who—I had been a fan of The Who since 1966 when they released “I’m A Boy.” When my birth mom enrolled me in first grade in Utah, in the gender section she checked the female box. I never forgot that, so when “I’m A Boy” was released, I picked right up on those lyrics—I’m a boy, I’m a boy, but my mom won’t admit it. By that time, though, I was living with my wise old grandmother in Kingsville, Texas, the city of my birth. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is on this album and is my favorite song by The Who, although just barely beating out “Love, Reign O’er Me” from Quadrophenia.

Dark Side of the Moon by Pink FloydIn the ensuing three months between my birthday and high school graduation, Jaime, Larry, Richard, and Steve introduced me to more Black Sabbath, more Led Zeppelin, more Deep Purple, and Pink Floyd.

After high school graduation, Jaime, Larry, and I went on a driving tour of every Lower 48 state west of the Mississippi River. Larry had bought himself a 1973 Buick Apollo with savings from his paper route, so we decided to put some miles on it…. as soon as he installed an 8-track tape player in it so we could have some listening music. We took off on June 1 and got back on August 15 after having visited every state, ever national park, every national monument, every national forest, and every city of more than 100,000 population.

And the music! THE MUSIC!

After 10 weeks on the road with no wise old grandmother to supervise my listening interests, I was into all sorts of deviant music.

We were in Yellowstone Park on the Fourth of July when it snowed on us. Throughout our journey, we were just stopping anywhere and setting up camp. We had a tent, but we rarely used it. We went to bed with starry skies and woke up covered in snow. After that, we decided to always set up the tent.

Who Do We Think We Are by Deep PurpleAs we were leaving Yellowstone through Gardiner, Montana, we stopped for gas. The gas station convenience store had a huge selection of 8-track tapes for sale. I bought “Who Do We Think We Are” by Deep Purple. When we got back to Texas, I gave the 8-track to Larry for his collection, providing that he took me to the record store so I could buy the vinyl. He accepted my offer and conditions.

I have a vast music collection of both classical and non-classical music, over 3,132 hours. All of the groups noted above are represented in my collection with their complete discographies.

Music on Mondays (3-27-17)—Yertle the Turtle in Pet Sematary

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Bookless, I am.

My life is in turmoil when I don’t have a book of fiction to read. Such is the case today because I finished my book (Golden Lion by Wilbur Smith) Saturday night but the public library is not open on Sundays. Just a few more hours….

So I went looking for songs about, or inspired by, books for today Music on Mondays post. Here are five I found:

“1984” by David Bowie was inspired by George Orwell’s book with the same title. David Bowie was intending to do a 1984 musical but the project was killed when Orwell’s widow objected. Other tracks on Bowie’s 1974 album, Diamond Dogs, feature other Orwell references, including the song titles “Big Brother” and “We Are The Dead,” Winston Smith’s final words before being captured by the thought police in the book.

I never read J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings so I never completely understood “Ramble On” from Led Zeppelin’s 1969 album, Led Zeppelin II:

Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor
I met a girl so fair
But Gollum, and the evil one crept up
And slipped away with her.

I’m completely unfamiliar with “that book by Nabokov” (Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita) that inspired The Police in 1980:

Young teacher the subject of schoolgirl fantasy
This girl is half his age
He starts to shake and cough
Just like the old man in that book by Nabokov.”

I don’t really like the Red Hot Chili Peppers but I did understand “Yertle the Turtle” from their 1985 album Freaky Styley as soon as I saw the title because I am quite familiar with Dr. Suess.

I’m Yertle the Turtle
The things I now rule
I’m king of a cow
I’m king of a mule

“Pet Sematary” by The Ramones, from their 1989 album Brain Drain, was written for the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, Pet Sematary, still one of my favorite books by King.

Molars and fangs
the clicking of bones
Spirits moaning among the tombstones.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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Music on Mondays (10-5-15)—Decades of music

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

My musical life seems to run by decades, give or take a year or two:

Decade 1—1955-1965: My mom played the piano and organ, and her parents played the flute and violin. My musical life began with me playing the piano and violin.

Here is a video of a young lady playing a Fritz Kreisler (1876-1962) variation of “Tambourin” by Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764). I include this piece because I won a solo medal for my performance of it in sixth grade Texas violin competition.

Decade 2—1965-1973: I discovered The Beatles, The Who, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Beach Boys. These were my junior high and high school years, so I had only my allowance with which to buy music. Since there was so much music I wanted, I had to resort to stealing music. Remember that I have freely admitted that I was a juvenile delinquent!

This probably is my most important music decade because of the formative years. I cannot pick a favorite song from this decade although The Beatles definitely are my favorite group. So here’s one of my favorite Beatles songs which I sang to my girlfriend, Lynda, at school on Valentine’s Day in 1973:

Decade 3—1973-1983: My first decade after high school graduation, and I was flush with money, almost all of it being spent on music and music equipment. My college years were spent at Texas A&M University in College Station, and the years after that were spent in Houston. By the time I left Houston in 1983, I had over 5,000 vinyl albums and the best stereo system money could buy.

Following is “Photograph” by Ringo Starr, another song that I sang to the Lynda, this time at Thanksgiving 1973. The Beatles as solo artists were important to me during this decade.

Decade 4—1983-1993: This decade was spent back in College Station and the music collection continued to grow. By this time, though, CDs were in the marketplace, and CD players were in the home and in the car. I did a lot of driving during this decade, so I forsook the home music system in order to have a booming car music system. The vinyl album collection stagnated at about 5,500 but the CD collection grew by leaps and bounds.

The Police probably take top honors for favorite song from this decade with “Every Breath You Take.”

Decade 5—1993-2003: This is my lost music decade. My life pretty much was in limbo and without any direction or will to live, I didn’t see a need for acquiring more music. When I left College Station in 1993 with the intent on suicide in Canada, I left behind a vast vinyl and CD collection, taking only 100 CDs with me to listen to in the car as I drove to Canada. Only about 50 CDs were added to the 100 CDs during this time.

I have been adding music to this decade for the past couple of years so I’m not completely familiar with all it has to offer. Smash Mouth is one of the groups from this decade that I recently discovered. Here is their song, “Walking On The Sun.”

Decade 6—2003-2013: My life took on a new direction and, with that new direction, a new interest in music. Vinyl and CDs were losing favor with the public in preference for digital downloads, which made it very easy to sit at home and buy music. During this time I ripped all the CDs and sold them, so my music now is all digital.

I discovered that Sir Paul McCartney’s son, James, had grown up and was doing a little music here and there. Here is his song, “Angel”:

Decade 7—2013-present: My music collection is divided into classical and non-classical. I bought over 20 hours of non-classical music this weekend so that collection currently stands at 1,707 hours and 48 minutes of music and takes me about 170 days (almost 6 months at 10 hours a day) to listen to it all. I do listen to it all, in chronological order.

I have been following Black Sabbath ever since the beginning back in 1970. They released “13,” their nineteenth studio album, in 2013, their first ever to hit #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Considering that back in the ’70s they were considered anti-religious, anti-Christ, anti-everything, I thought it interesting that one of their singles from “13” is titled “God Is Dead?”. Note the question mark at the end of the title. Here it is:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (5-26-14)—It took 43 years?

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Arguably the top story in music news this past week was the lawsuit against Led Zeppelin by the relatively unknown (compared to Led Zeppelin) rock group Spirit. Spirit had its greatest success in the 1960s and ’70s. I have a complete collection of music by both groups.

My high school friends introduced me to the two groups when I was 16. Everyone knew how much I loved music since I played the piano and violin, and sang in the high school choir. When they had a surprise birthday party for me in March 1971, Mark Johnson gave me Spirit’s “The Family That Plays Together” album and Jamie Perez gave me “Led Zeppelin III.”

Happy anniversary to Jim & Russel

Led Zeppelin is in the process of re-mastering and re-releasing their music. The re-mastered Led Zeppelin I, II, and III are out. Led Zeppelin IV, their most famous album since it contains the incomparable “Stairway To Heaven,” was due to be re-released in a few weeks.

The lawsuit claims that Led Zeppelin plagiarized “Stairway to Heaven” from an instrumental section of Spirit’s song “Taurus.” I have known about the supposed similarities since 1997 when Randy California of Spirit discussed it in an interview just before he died. It should be noted that Led Zeppelin and Spirit toured together in 1968 and 1969. “Taurus” was released by Spirit in January 1968. “Stairway to Heaven” was released by Led Zeppelin in November 1971.

Have a listen; it’s the guitar in the introduction of “Stairway to Heaven” that is said to be plagiarized. Listen to “Taurus” beginning at 0:44 and then listen to the guitar in “Stairway to Heaven,” specifically the first 2:15.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

What do I think? Here’s what I think:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“All You Need Is Love”…. One of the greatest plagiarized songs of all time! (LOL). In the beginning you hear a Beatles rendition of the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in April 1792. Other bits and pieces include “Greensleeves,” first registered at the London Stationer’s Company in September 1580 by Richard Jones (“A Newe Northen Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves”), and Glen Miller’s “In The Mood.” Sources indicate that The Beatles paid royalties to Glen Miller for his contribution.

The Spirit lawsuit seeks to give Randy California writing credit on “Stairway To Heaven” and to block the re-release of “Led Zeppelin IV.”

So it took 43 years for Spirit to realize a similarity and file a lawsuit? Hmmmmmmm. Dubious. Then again, maybe it’s not too late for Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle and Richard Jones!

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Music on Mondays (4-7-14)–Catch ’em surfin’ at Del Mar

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When I left College Station, Texas, on April 15, 1993, my intent was to go to Canada to kill myself. Really. Interestingly, I took $5,000 with me and a car full of CDs, about 500 of them. I guess you already know that I didn’t kill myself, winding up in San Diego and never going back to Texas. Mid-life crisis?

The CD collection which I took with me included a complete collection of music by The Beatles (including all of their individual solo music), The Who, The Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Several months later I was listening to The Best of Beach Boys, Vols. 1, 2, and 3. The Beach Boys were from Hawthorne, California, a working-class suburb of Los Angeles. Their songs expressed the ’50s and ’60s Southern California lifestyle of wine, women, and song.

Wait! What? Wine, women, and song? That was Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Bing Crosby!

The Beach Boys were the Southern California youth culture of surfing, cars, and romance. One song in particular, “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” piqued my interest since I now lived in Southern California.

Here is the song and the lyrics:

If everybody had an ocean
Across the U.S.A.
Then everybody’d be surfin’
Like californ-I-A
You’d see ’em wearin’ their baggies
Huarachi sandals, too
A bushy bushy blonde hairdo
Surfin’ U.S.A.

You’d catch ’em surfin at Del Mar (Inside, outside, U.S.A.)
Ventura County line
Santa Cruz and Tressels,
Australia’s Narabine,
All over Manhattan,
And down Doheny Way
Everybody’s gone surfin’
Surfin U.S.A.

We’ll all be plannin’ out a route
We’re gonna take real soon
We’re waxin’ down our surfboards
We can’t wait for June
We’ll all be gone for the summer
Were on safari to stay
Tell the teacher we’re surfin’
Surfin’ U.S.A.

At Haggerty’s and Swami’s
Pacific Palisades
San Onofre and Sunset
Redondo Beach, L.A.
All over La Jolla
At Waiamea Bay
Everybody’s gone surfin’
Surfin’ U.S.A.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I decided I would try to visit all of the places mentioned in the song. I have made it to all of the Southern California places, but Australia’s Narabine (correctly spelled Narrabeen, but the Aboriginal word is Narrabine, still not spelled like the lyrics have it spelled. Tressels also is misspelled; it should be Trestles). I also have not made it to Waiamea Bay…. some day.

Now all I have to do is go back to all those places and take pictures. Here are a few pictures of the places I have visited:

Del MarDog Beach, Del Mar, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Swami’s at sunsetSwami's at sunset

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Onofre
(The state beach is to the left of the nuclear
power plant,  which was not there in 1963.
Construction on it began in August 1964.)San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

L.A.
(specifically Santa Monica, one of the best surfing spots)Santa Monica, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

La JollaSunset at La Jolla Cove, 10-17-12, La Jolla, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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