Tag Archives: wings over america tour

Music On Mondays (10-27-14)—Breaking yourself of singing with your eyes closed

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

I have been collecting music since I was 11. My wise old grandmother gave me a portable reel-to-reel tape recorder for my birthday. She did not like it, though, when I was up at 3:00 in the morning recording songs off the radio. Forty-eight years later and I’m still up at 3:00 in the morning listening to music….

It should be no surprise, then, that music brings back memories. In fact, I define many events in my life by what music was playing at the time.

Even some friends are remembered whenever certain songs come on. For example, my first kiss was in the living room of my wise old grandmother’s house with “Hey Jude” by The Beatles playing on the radio.

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My first live rock ‘n’ roll concert occurred in Corpus Christi, Texas, when I went to see The Byrds and Dr. John. That also happens to be the first, last, and only time that I smoked a joint. Nasty stuff…. Because of that, every time I listen to “Eight Miles High” by The Byrds, I’m transported back in time to the Coliseum in Corpus Christi.

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My first college roommate, with whom I got along disastrously and moved out after one semester, will always be remembered when “Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin is playing. He played that song endlessly, starting at 6:00 a.m. and ending at midnight. Never was I so happy as when either of us had to go to class. Such a sad time is remembered by such a great song.

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My first concert in Houston was at The Summit—Paul McCartney & Wings for their “Wings Over America” Tour. As usual with Paul McCartney—still—the concert was long and I had to get back to College Station for classes the next morning. I decided to leave during the clapping for an encore. However, the encore came as I was walking to the exit, and it was a song with which I was not familiar: “Soily.” “Soily” was the B side of the single “Maybe I’m Amazed” but I had quit collecting 45 singles by that time and did not know about the song. Here is the live version from the “Wings Over America” album:

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My last concert before graduating from Texas A&M University was Chicago and Jackson Browne. Three friends and I drove 90 miles from College Station to Houston listening to Chicago and Jackson Browne. I was unfamiliar with Jackson Browne but I liked what I was hearing. I asked who it was, and Richard Scruggs said, “Jackson Browne.” To which I responded, “Jackson who?” Richard’s still a good friend courtesy of Facebook, and whenever I listen to Jackson Browne, all I have to do is post on Facebook “Jackson who?” and Richard understands that I’m thinking of him. Here is “The Pretender,” title track from his classic 1976 album of the same name.

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While Jim and I were dating, I regularly sent him postcards and letters with snippets of songs by The Beatles. The song that most reminds me of my husband of 20½ years (our wedding anniversary is October 30!) is The Beatles’ “In My Life.”

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For the past six months, Julian Rey Saenz worked with me at Photographic Art by Russel Ray Photos. He plays the guitar and sings, although he sings with his eyes closed. He claims that he doesn’t, but I now have proof from a performance a few days ago:

Julian Rey Saenz

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There is more where that came from, including a 6:47 video which has eyes open for only 0:13. Julian, you can do better!

I used to sing with my eyes closed, too, when I was with a Beatles cover band in College Station in the mid-1980s…. Until a Houston friend, Bill Bammel, came to one of my performances with his video camera. He pointed it out to me, and told me how to break myself: Practice singing in front of a mirror because it’s virtually impossible to be in front of a mirror with your eyes closed. Thus you’ll sing and subconsciously keep your eyes open to watch yourself. Do it enough, and it becomes a habit that carries over to performances.

Julian Rey SaenzThe whole purpose of singing with your eyes open, especially in small, intimate settings, is to make eye contact with your audience, some of whom often are sitting just feet away from you. The more eye contact you make, the better the tips, and the more performances you’ll find yourself doing because people like eye contact in those small settings.

Practice makes perfect. Yes, tips and invitations to perform increased when I started singing with my eyes open. It worked for me, and I think it can work for Julian. Nonetheless….

I’m pretty sure Julian knows the guitar chords and words to every Beatles song ever, including some of the alternate stuff that showed up on the three Anthology CDs of the late 1990s. It won’t be a Beatles song by which I remember Julian, though. Instead, it will be a song by The White Stripes, a group that Julian introduced me to. Here’s my favorite:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Denny Laine

Music on Mondays — Happy birthday to Denny Laine!

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tomorrow is the 68th birthday for Denny Laine. Happy birthday, Denny!

Denny LaineLaine is a guitarist and singer, and was a founding member of The Moody Blues. I didn’t become familiar with him until 1971 when he showed up as a member of Wings on their first album, Wild Life, released December 7, 1971. For those who don’t know or don’t remember, Wings was Paul McCartney’s band after The Beatles broke up in 1970. He was one of the three core members of Wings throughout its history, the other two being Paul McCartney and his wife, Linda.

Wings (and Paul McCartney) rocked throughout the 1970s with albums such as “Red Rose Speedway,” “Band on the Run,” “Venus and Mars,” “Wings at the Speed of Sound,” “London Town,” and “Back to the Egg.” Hit singles that made it to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart include “My Love,” “Band on the Run,” “Listen To What The Man Said,” “Silly Love Songs,” “With A Little Luck,” and “Coming Up.” A couple of near misses include “Live and Let Die,” peaking at #2; “Junior’s Farm,” peaking at #3; and “Let ‘Em In,” also peaking at #3.

The Summit in Houston, Texas, ca. 1994I saw Wings in concert at The Summit in Houston, Texas, on Tuesday, May 4, 1976, as part of their “Wings Over America” tour. Texas A&M was in Dead Week, so I could get away with going to a concert 90 miles away on a week day.

I knew the words to all the songs and happily sang along with the rest of the crowd…. Well, almost all of the songs. There was one song that I was not familiar with. It was played as one of the encores and was titled “Go Now.” I thought it was a new, unreleased song, but after reading the reviews the next day in the Houston Chronicle and the Houston Post, I found out that “Go Now” was The Moody Blues’ first hit from February 1965. The reviews also increased my musical knowledge base by informing me that Denny Laine was a founding member of The Moody Blues. Laine quit The Moody Blues in August 1966 although I could not find out why.

Wings Over AmericaI became familiar with The Moody Blues, as did most of the world, in August 1972 when “Nights in White Satin” hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Interestingly, the album “Nights in White Satin” was released in 1968, and a single, “Tuesday Afternoon,” made it to #24 on the charts. If I remember correctly, the four years between the release of an album and a single making it to the Top 10 is the longest ever.

I liked “Go Now” but could not find it in any of the record stores, not even in any of the cut-out bins (smile if you remember cut-out bins). There was no such thing as iTunes, Napster, or amazon.com at the time, so I had to do without that song until December 1976—seven months later!—when it was released on the “Wings Over America” live album.

For Denny Laine’s 68th birthday, I give you some Denny Laine.

“Go Now” by The Moody Blues
Denny Laine on guitar and lead vocals

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Mull of Kintyre” from November 1977 is the first single in Great Britain to sell over two million copies,
and that includes all of The Beatles’ hits. It still is the #1 selling non-charity single in Great Britain. Written by Paul McCartney and Denny Laine, it has Laine on backing vocals, acoustic guitar, and electric guitar. Denny Laine shows up in the video at the 1:30 mark.

 

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Denny Laine’s greatest collaboration with McCartney came on 1978’s “London Town” album where he had co-songwriting credits on five of the fourteen songs. He sang lead vocal on two of them, both of them about children: “Children Children” and “Deliver Your Children.” Here’s “Children Children”:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Happy birthday, Denny!

Happy birthday to Denny Laine

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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