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Any Major Thanksgiving

November 22nd, 2016 14 comments

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A long-time friend of this place recently contacted me about ideas for a radio playlist of songs for Thanksgiving. Well, even if that holiday is American, and therefore not one I celebrate, I thought that there could be a good mix of songs about being thankful.

And this is such a mix. It kicks off with two songs that riff happily about Thanksgiving (well, one is an instrumental but you”ll know why it”s the opener), and it closes with a couple of tracks that take a more nuanced approach to the holiday.

In between, there are lots of songs about being grateful about all manner of things other than white people in funny hats coming to take land that didn”t belong to them. And I didn”t consider songs about the epicurean side of things, so no songs about pumpkin or apple pie, nor about cold turkey.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-cooked covers. PW in comments. And if you are thankful for this mix, leave a comment there.

1. Vince Guaraldi Trio – Thanksgiving Theme (1973)
2. Johnny Cash – Thanksgiving Prayer (1994)
3. Big Star – Thank You Friends (1975)
4. Sly & the Family Stone – Thankful n’ Thoughtful (1973)
5. Sam & Dave – I Thank You (1968)
6. Bobby Womack – Thank You (1969)
7. Earth, Wind & Fire – Gratitude (1975)
8. William DeVaughn – Be Thankful For What You Got (1974)
9. Ronnie McNeir – I’m So Thankful (1972)
10. Bobby Powell – Thank You (1973)
11. Pat Lundy – Friend Of Mine (I Wanna Thank You So Much) (1973)
12. Donny Hathaway – Thank You Master (For My Soul) (1970)
13. Maze feat. Frankie Beverley – I Wanna Thank You (1983)
14. Crusaders feat. Joe Cocker – I’m So Glad I’m Standing Here Today (1981)
15. Andrew Gold – Thank You For Being A Friend (1978)
16. Statler Brothers – Thank You World (1974)
17. Kris Kristofferson – Thank You For A Life (2006)
18. Charlotte Kendrick – Thank You (2007)
19. Drive-By Truckers – The Thanksgiving Filter (2011)
20. The National – Thanksgiving Song (2012)

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(The corrupted file posted Tuesday morning has been replaced)

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Any Major Cohen Covers

November 17th, 2016 26 comments

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At this year”s Emmy awards in September, some breathy, note-swallowing songstress sang Leonard Cohen”s magnificent though now overcooked Hallelujah over the section listing the year”s departed TV people. I don”t know why she sang that particular song, but it didn”t cross my mind that within a couple of months, Cohen himself would find inclusion on In Memoriam lists.

Cohen himself knew, though. And he checked out the day before Americans rejected notions of respect and decency. His death on November 7 was made public only four days later.

In April this year, Marianne Ihlen (née Jensen), Cohen”s muse who was immortalised in his song So Long Marianne, died. As Marianne lay dying of leukemia, Cohen wrote her a letter. In it he said: “Well, Marianne, it”s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I”ve always loved you for your beauty and for your wisdom … but now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”

Now dab dry those most eyes, and take delight in this mix of covers of Leonard Cohen”s songs. It is a strange thing, but Cohen is not really widely covered, a few select songs aside. Often the same artists would return to the Cohen songbook. And yet, I think his songs are very coverable indeed, as this mix shows.

The most covered song in the Cohen canon is 1984″s Hallelujah. Jeff Buckley”s version is the standard, of course, but I also like the two Shrek versions, John Cale”s in the film, and Rufus Wainwright”s on the soundtrack. Some versions are awful (apparently even Michael F. Bolton has molested the song). Here I”ve gone for Brandi Carlile”s lovely version “” she is one of the finest contemporary singers “” which was recorded live with The Seattle Symphony (the live album, Live at Benaroya Hall, is superb). Newsweek ranked it at #7 in its entertaining list of Top 60 versions of Hallelujah.

A few singers here are people with whom Cohen had close relationships. He was a mentor to Anjani Thomas and to some extent to Jennifer Warnes (they also wrote some songs together).  Judy Collins was his mentor. When Cohen was still a struggling poet-songwriter with no plans to become a singer, his fellow Canadian folkie recorded a couple of his compositions “” and had a hit with Suzanne. I wrote about it in The Originals.

Cohen had some success with his latter albums, stepping in the gerontophile path smoothed by Johnny Cash. There is something about the wisdom of songs being delivered by a worn voice. Three Cohen songs are covered here by such worn voices; those of Johnny Cash, Marianne Faithful and Tom Jones. The latter nails his song especially.

I was going to run the second volume of the Bob Dylan covers this week, to follow up on the first mix. That will now have to wait.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-poetried covers. PW in comments.

1. Nick Cave – I”m Your Man (2006)
2. Pixies – I Can”t Forget (1991)
3. Joe Cocker – First We Take Manhattan (1999)
4. Lloyd Cole – Chelsea Hotel (1991)
5. Johnny Cash – Bird On A Wire (1994)
6. Roberta Flack – Hey, That”s No Way To Say Goodbye (1969)
7. Fran̤oise Hardy РSuzanne (1970)
8. Bell + Arc – So Long, Marianne (1971)
9. Judy Collins – Famous Blue Raincoat (1971)
10. Pearls Before Swine – Seems So Long Ago, Nancy (1971)
11. Esther Ofarim – You Know Who I Am (1969)
12. Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris – Sisters Of Mercy (1999)
13. Brandi Carlile – Hallelujah (2011)
14. Harvey Milk – One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong (1996)
15. Anjani Thomas – Blue Alert (2006)
16. Tom Jones – Tower Of Song (2012)
17. Marianne Faithfull – Going Home (2014)
18. Jennifer Warnes – A Singer Must Die (1986)
Bonus track: Madeleine Peyroux – Dance Me To The End Of Love (2004)

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Any Major Radio Vol. 2

November 10th, 2016 16 comments

Any Major Radio Vol. 2

The second edition of Any Major Radio has a real radio feel: these songs aren”t just about radio, but sound like they ought to be on the radio.

I never really got the difference between FM and AM types of music on US radio, but I suppose some of these songs could be on the FM movie soundtrack. I particularly like the sequence from Track 5 to 12 on this mix; the whole thing is rather good to drive to.

Some of these songs here were requests from readers in comments to Any Major Radio Vol. 1 “” I have a few more suggestions in hand in case the response to this mix indicates interest in a third volume.

As always, CD-R length, covers, PW in comments. (As I was posting this I spotted that the cover says “Vol. 1”. Oops.)

1. Theme – News Radio (1995)
2. The Smiths – Panic (1986)
3. Elvis Costello and The Attractions – Radio Radio (1978)
4. Talking Heads – Radio Head (1986)
5. The Ravyns – Raised On Radio (1984)
6. Bruce Springsteen – Radio Nowhere (2007)
7. Steve Earle – Satellite Radio (2007)
8. Dillard & Clark – The Radio Song (1968)
9. Don Williams – Listen To The Radio (1982)
10. Helen Reddy – Angie Baby (1975)
11. Dr. Hook – The Radio (1976)
12. The Velvet Underground – Rock & Roll (1970)
13. The Clash – Capital Radio One (1980)
14. Cheap Trick – On The Radio (1978)
15. Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – Roadrunner (1977)
16. Tom Petty – The Last DJ (2002)
17. Rick Mathews – Playin’ On The Radio (1991)
18. The Sports – Who Listens To The Radio (1979)
19. The Blasters – Border Radio (1981)
20. Larry Graham and Graham Central Station – My Radio Sure Sounds Good To Me (1979)
21. Edwin Starr – H.A.P.P.Y. Radio (1979)
22. Donna Summer – On The Radio (1979)
23. Zhan̩ РRequest Line (1997)

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In Memoriam – October 2016

November 3rd, 2016 5 comments

im1610-gallery_1With the death at 95 of Phil Chess, a giant in the history of rock & roll, soul and blues has gone. With his more animated younger brother Leonard, who died in 1969, the Jewish migrant from Poland founded the Chess label in Chicago. The label produced and released the records of the likes of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Etta James, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin” Wolf, Little Walter, The Moonglows, The Flamingos and Buddy Guy, and in the 1960s by acts like Ramsey Lewis, Fontella Bass, Billy Stewart, and The Dells. The young label in 1951 released what is often called the “first rock & roll record”, Rocket 88 by Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats, another name for Ike Turner”s Kings of Rhythm. In a bit of rock & roll synergy, it was recorded by Sam Philips at his Memphis studio. Many other rock & roll and soul classics were co-produced by the Chess brothers, notably the Chuck Berry output. In the film about Chess records, Cadillac Records, Phil Chess was played by Shiloh Fernandez; in Who Do You Love?, also from 2008, he was portrayed by Jon Abrams.

Bobby Vee, who has died at 73, had an impressive string of hits between 1960 and 1962, before he was even out of his teens, with songs like Run To Him, Rubber Ball, Take Good Care Of My Baby, The Night Has A Thousand Eyes, and More Than I Can Say (later a hit for Leo Sayer). He remained a performer but never had much recording success again. But before he was famous, he had links with two legends in popular music. With his band in Fargo, The Shadows, 15-year-old Vee (then known by his full name, Bobby Velline) took Buddy Holly”s spot on the bill at the Winter Dance concert in Moorhead, Minnesota, the event Holly, Big Bopper and Richie Valens were flying to that ill-fated February 3, 1959. Soon after, Vee had in his touring band a fellow calling himself, with a bizarre turn in spelling, Elston Gunnn. That chap later found fame as Bob Dylan. Dylan always spoke admiringly of Bobby Vee.

At a time when we count how many members of 1960s groups are still alive, it comes as a bit of a surprise these days when a band records its first death. So it is with Joan Marie Johnson, one of the three original Dixie Cups (actually, there were four initially, but one left before they became famous).  The R&B vocal group from New Orleans had hits in 1964/65 with Leiber/Stoller-produced songs like Chapel Of Love, Iko Iko, You Should Have Seen The Way He Looked At Me, and People Say. But in 1966 their recording career suddenly stopped; still, the trio continued touring. Johnson left in 1974 after becoming a Jehovah”s Witness (a year later, The Intruders” Robert Edwards, who also died this month, did the same). In 2005 all three original members were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Sisters Barbara and Rosa Hawkins moved to Florida, Johnson to Texas, where she died on October 3 at the age of 72.

im1610-gallery_2Fans of ’60s soul will have heard a lot of Sonny Sanders‘ work, Read more…

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