Tag Archives: led zeppelin

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:

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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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CA BRE #0145857201 HomeSmartDiamondSmall copy 2

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