Tag Archives: peter paul and mary

Music on Mondays (11-20-17)—Lost on a desert island, 1969

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

My Lost On A Desert Island music collection would have 22 songs from 1969 on it, 4 by The Beatles, all from Abbey Road. Original Beatles songs are not available as videos on YouTube so I cannot provide any links to such videos. I leave it to you to search out Beatles videos or simply put on your own music and start singing! Here are the 4 from 1969:

  1. Come Together
  2. Something
  3. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
  4. Here Comes The Sun

Following are the other 18 songs from 1969 that I would take with me if there were a possibility of being lost on a desert island.

A Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash
#2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Johnny Cash’s only Top 10 hit

And When I Die by Blood, Sweat & Tears
#2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Cold Turkey by Plastic Ono Band
#30 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Cotton Fields by Creedence Clearwater Revival
A non-charting single released in 1982

Day Is Done by Peter, Paul & Mary
#21 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Dear Diary by The Moody Blues
From the album On The Threshold Of A Dream

Honky Tonky Women by The Rolling Stones
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Kept Johnny Cash from having a #1 hit

I Can Hear Music by The Beach Boys
#24 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
One of my favorite songs by The Beach Boys

In The Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus) by Zager & Evans
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Probably my favorite song from 1969

Laughing by The Guess Who
#10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Lazy Day by The Moody Blues
From the album On The Threshold Of A Dream

Make Your Own Kind Of Music by Mama Cass Elliot
#36 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Marrakesh Express by Crosby Stills & Nash
#28 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Pinball Wizard by The Who
#19 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Other than chess and 42, I have never been much of a games person.
I did, however, play a lot of pinball at the Dixie Chicken during my college days at Texas A&M University, 1973-1977.

Sugar, Sugar by The Archies
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
And they weren’t even a real group!

Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond
#4 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Probably my favorite song by Neil Diamond

These Eyes by The Guess Who
#6 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Their first Top 10 hit in the United States.

Undun by The Guess Who
#22 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

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Music on Mondays (10-12-15)—Country boy or alien?

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

On this date in 1997, John Denver died when his experimental amateur aircraft crashed into Monterey Bay on the California coast.

Interestingly, Denver first hit the charts in 1969 not as a singer but as a songwriter when Peter, Paul & Mary hit the top of the charts “Leaving On A Jet Plane.” I guess flying was naturally in his blood.

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Denver was an accomplished private pilot with more than 2,700 hours on various single- and multi-engine aircraft, as well as having both an instrument and a Lear Jet rating. At the time of his death, he was flying an aircraft with which he was somewhat unfamiliar and, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation. Shortly after taking off from a Pacific Grove airfield under ideal flying conditions, Denver apparently lost control of his Long-EZ aircraft. The NTSB investigation also found that Denver had experienced control problems with the aircraft on previous occasions.

Denver made his own claim to fame as a singer in 1971 with his hit “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Not only did “Take Me Home, Country Roads” have an inauspicious debut at #99 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart of April 10, 1971, it fell off the chart for two weeks before reappearing at #91 and continuing a slow rise to #2—86, 80, 73, 70, 62, 52, 48, 36, 30, 20, 12, 9, 8, 6, 3, 3, and 2, where it stayed for one week before dropping down the chart. It was kept out of the #1 spot by the Bee Gees with “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.”

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John Denver (1943-1997) was born Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., in Roswell, New Mexico. Maybe he really wasn’t a country boy…. Maybe he was an alien! With all of his songs about Colorado, not to mention taking the last name Denver, I just presumed that he was born in Colorado….

Denver was one of the most successful recording artists of the ’70s, releasing 11 albums that were certified Platinum by the RIAA. He had 25 hits, nine of which made the Top 10, and four of which hit #1. Here are his #1 hits:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In my research for this post, I discovered the following. It’s not from a peer-reviewed journal and has no citations so I do not know whether or not it’s true:

“John Denver was a very talented artist and he produced some beautiful music, but people need to understand he was a very flawed man……very flawed. He cheated on his wife Annie not once but several times, the very same Annie that was the subject of his ode to love in ‘Annies Song.’ He lied about it to her and then fessed up in his song ‘I’m Sorry’, which, while beautiful, is really nothing more than a guy wallowing in self pity for the troubles he caused. He tried to strangle Annie once when he got pissed. He blew up when he got back from a trip and discovered she had cut down a tree on their property and proceeded to cut up some of their furniture (a bed or a dining table – not sure which) with a chain saw. He reeks of hypocrisy in ‘Rocky Mountain High when he sings of development as being ‘more people, more scars upon the land,’ basically saying ‘I got mine, now the rest of you stay away.’ “

Well, some of the most beautiful music is written in response to sad circumstances. Eric Clapton’s beautiful hit, “Tears In Heaven,” comes immediately to mind.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My last stop was Wikipedia, usually my first stop. There I found that, at the time of his death, John Denver did not have a valid pilot’s license because of two previous drunk driving charges. Of course, one would not want an aircraft pilot to be drunk while flying….

Since I have personal experience with alcohol and its effects courtesy of my mom and step-dad, I’m leaning on the quoted text as probably being true.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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(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.

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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.

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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.

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