Friday, November 21, 2014

Love One Another~George Harrison

The nicest thing is to open the newspapers and not to find yourself in them ~GH

Love One Another -- Those were the final words of George Harrison, The Quiet Beatle, fifteen years ago this November 29th. George is my favorite Beatle. His ability to stay so positive enlightens me.

George didn't write much as a Beatle - but, I personally think he wrote some of their best songs: Something, While my Guitar Gently Weeps, and Old Brown Shoe. It wasn't until after Beatledom that the real George Harrison was revealed - he was funny, true to his beliefs, a talented gardener and he could write beautiful, meaningful songs.

He beat Bob Geldof to the first "super concert" for humanitarian relief. The Concert for Bangladesh was held in August of 1971 at Madison Square Garden with Starr, Clapton, Dylan, Preston, Russell, and Badfinger. He used the power of music to do something good (this good also included trying to keep Clapton alive for one more weekend).

When I get angry, frustrated, uptight, usually all three when I am on the subway, I throw on some Harrison. I wonder if he knew what impact his life and music would have on others. He gives me peace on earth -- and my fellow subway riders should thank him.
The recent documentary on George is  a revealing glimpse into this Beatle. There was  also a preview in Rolling Stone that included and interview with his son Dhani, whom at one point in his childhood was convinced his dad was just a gardener:
             He's probably laughing at me, says Dahni, saying "That's what it's supposed to look like. You don't build a garden for yourself, right now - you build a garden for future generations". My father definitely had a long view.

The love and light that George Harrison brought into this world is definitely seen in The Concert For George. His many friends gave the perfect tribute to this man, this musician and even comedian.

When I think of George Harrison - I think of love and of peace. I also see someone who would have been happy just tending to his garden. I also think of the final scenes of Goodfellas (had a deja vu moment with this in Bay Ridge -- but that is another blog post).

I am partial to this Harrison song -- this version is one of my wedding songs:  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

In No Particular Order

It is no secret that I love the band U2. While as of late I have questioned their sticking with the same sound for way too long, I refuse to give up on them. So I went on what Larry Mullen Jr would call "A musical journey." I have gone back into the songs that no one particularly knows (thank for the idea, Rolling Stone).

So in no particular order...

Miss Sarajevo
While this song was released on the 1995 Passengers album (a U2 side project with Brian Eno), it found its spotlight in the concert Pavarotti and Friends. The song is a tribute to life going on during war in Bosnia. More specifically, life and beauty continuing during times of ugly war. It's chorus of Here she comes borrowed from Here She Comes, Miss America,

Love Comes Tumbling
This is perhaps one of my favorite U2 songs. Recorded in 1985 for the album Wide Away in America, it gives you a hint at their new sound that is evolving into what will eventually become their signature Joshua Tree sound. I don't know if it is the mysterious and echoing sounds or Bono's haunting voice, or Adam's bass line. (the video I used below is from an obvious Larry Mullen Jr fan).

Trash, Trampoline, and the Party Girl
Rarely played and most known for it's live version on Under a Blood Red Sky, Trash Trampoline, and the Party Girl is most commonly known as Party Girl. It is possibly one of the few U2 songs about silliness and fun.
Rewind to Fleet Week in Midtown in 2003 in a place called TJ Keanes. The hubby and a friend were trying to find all the Grateful Dead songs on the juke and I was rehashing lines from Some Mother's Son with Brian Mallon. Lots of Guinness and lots of the whiskey. The next day, while I was retreating to the couch, this song was played very loud and on repeat by my one and only.
 The Wanderer
Zooropa was not one of U2's most successful albums, but I think it is one of their most creative. Joining forces with Johnny Cash, the song is sad, contemplative look inwards at ones life. Using Cash, who had his demons, solidified the greatness of this song.
Stay (Faraway, So Close)
You can probably tell by now that Zooropa is one of my favorite U2 albums. Stay (Faraway, So Close) is a gem. Bono was going through his Frank Sinatra obsession phase with this song - and it was also the time they partnered with Wim Wenders (who went on to make a film of the same title).
The video is gorgeous as the band plays angels walking amongst us.

Lady with the Spinning Head
One of U2's B sides, it could be a song about a roulette table. I think again inspired by the Sinatra-Vegas lifestyle, this song is simply catchy with it's la la's, techno teases and signature Edge guitar.

Pop was the home of Please, a song Bono described as "It's essentially about fundamentalism, political or religious. Religious fundamentalism is where you get to shrink God; you remake God in your own image, as opposed to the other way around.:  Similar to Achtung Baby's :Love is Blindness, this song talks about the love of nation, love enough to kill. It was released during the Northern Ireland Peace Process. 

 'Cause love is big and love is tough
But love is not what you're thinking of

It would be September of 2001, when this song would seem foretelling and make this song relevant again.  
Streets capsizing
Spilling over
Down the drain
Shards of glass
Splinters like rain
But you could only feel
Your own pain
The end of the song, with the build up and the Apprentice Boys like drumming, my own opinion, is very reminiscent of the Parades that bring violence each year to the North.

The Ground Beneath Her Feet
This is possibly one of my favorites and probably the least well known of the U2 songs. From their sad trek into moviemaking, this song is from the Million Dollar Hotel soundtrack. Soundtrack was phenomenal, the movie was abysmal.
The song builds like the desperate love that seems lost. A nod to Rushdie's novel of the same name, the song uses lines from the novel. I myself have borrowed from this song. I love the song as well because it as close to the old U2 that we have heard in ... forever, which is since 1988's Rattle and Hum.
One Shot of Happy (Two Shots of Sad)
U2's tribute to Bono's good friend Frank Sinatra is simple and beautiful. They should really do this more often. It can be found on the b-side to If God Will Send His Angels.
Spanish Eyes
And I love the way you're mean to me
And I need you
Bono doesn't write many love songs to his wife Ali, but this might be the best (I am not really a fan of The Sweetest Thing).


Friday, November 14, 2014

Name Five Songs You Couldn't Live Without

Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue is one of my new writing  inspirations. I don't know if you have checked him out lately, but he is constantly challenging his fans - asking questions, opinions, and sending teasers and quizzes. This question stumped me: Name five songs you couldn't live without.


Being a person with over 10,000 songs on their iPod alone I turned the question into: you can only chose five songs to listen to for the rest of your life - what would they be and why?

Instead of songs first, my mind went to bands. which five bands/singers could I not live without. Easy:

Led Zeppelin      U2      Jeff Buckley      Beatles      Stevie Ray Vaughan

Yes there are runner-ups and I could have cheated to say Band Aid is my fave band and cover Bono, Sting, Boy George, Phil Collins, Duran, George Michael -- you get the point.

Okay- from the top:

Led Zeppelin. Many would immediately say Stairway to Heaven and so do I - but why?  The song has so much to offer. You have the acoustic beginning, slow, inviting, romantic. you feel as if you are walking up the stairs of a castle staircase lit by giant wall sconces. then jimmy page turns on the amp. The song begins to come alive and plant begins singing about hedgerows and pipers and queens. plant truly was a lord of the rings nerd -- and I love it. But wait. Page seduces us with the amazing solo building building building until .... the golden god puts us over the top, pushing the limit until we can't take it any more. The song, breathlessly quiets again, whispering in our ear. My close second, is The Rain Song ... a song with ups and downs but minus the hobbits, rings and hedgerows. Here is a great cover of the song by Heart

Moving along: U2. Okay this was tough since U2 has so many different vibes. I am a fan of all u2 but more so old U2. the pure, oft cold notes of the early Edge are my favorite. Yes, I am a fan of mullet bono. I am torn on this one. I love the sultry smooth, bass laden Love Comes Tumbling (the love song i prefer in my screen play if i ever finish it) but think those notes of I Threw a Brick Through a Window captures the real and young U2. It captures the angry, young frustrated at the world U2. Edge's solo in this song is different than many but is still signature edge. this band had no idea what was in front of them at this point.

Oh next - Jeff Buckley. Who can ever forget where they heard his angelic voice for the first time? If he would have lived, he would have shown us a thing or two about how music should be. I reserve this spot for that song -- the song we never heard from Jeff. I would hope it would be performed with Joan Wasser and Robert Plant.

Beatles:  Pop, psychedelic, groundbreaking, trippy. I hesitate to pick my real faves since they are all really John or George songs (Across the Universe or Something) so I will go with A Day in the Life. This song is filled with so many references of the time, from the crashing of Tara Browne's car to Timothy Leary. The middle piece by McCartney somehow oddly fits in - but so out of place and happy go lucky about everyday life....woke up.

And Stevie Ray: I still chase your ghost. I will never not go see someone play and yes I have my list. a gifted guitarist lost in his prime. he put so much of himself in his music - he lived every chord, every note. there are the standard Pride and Joy or House is Rockin, but Life Without You is the one that gets me. his guitar truly sings in the solo - his emotions evident every time he played this song. 

So this is my list - not shocking but missing many musicians I love and songs I cannot fathom every not knowing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Jeff Buckley ... Everyone's Lover

Jeff Buckley was best described the other night at the Annual New York City Tribute as everyone's lover. That statement could not be more true. Everyone at Arlene's had their "first time I heard Jeff" story, akin to comparing our first night to a sensous lover. Everyone knows where they were the first time they heard his angelic voice.

Jeff Buckley 1966-1997

What I loved about the event that Robert Urban puts together each year is that it isn't just a carbon copy of's songs that Jeff performed and
loved. Starting off with Zeppelin's Kashmir and The Rain Song, the night continued with incredible artists such as Elijah Black, Tracy Stark, Randy Jones, Jason Morris, Tanya Holt, Marcus Simeone, and Gretchen Reinhagen. We heard Everybody Hear Wants You and Mojo Pin covered by Tara Lynne, some Dylan, some Billie Holiday, and Maya Solovey and guests performed gorgeous renditions of So Real, Lilac Wine, and Lover, You Should Have Come Over.  The biggest surprise was hearing Yard of Blonde Girls, covered beautifully by Mike Linkens. Hearing Hallelujah as a duet was simple something none of us had EVER thought of and it was nothing short of magical and Jeff would have loved it.

So another year goes by and more folks are discovering the wonder of Jeff that we have all known and loved for years. His mystery will always draw people to him, his famous father deepens the enigma, and we will always wonder what would have become of Jeff. I couldn't imagine where Jeff would have taken us if he had lived to be 48 ... guess that's why he'll remain our Mystery White Boy. Happy 48th Jeff.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I Haven't Forgotten About Yinz All

Greetings all ... I haven't forgotten about you all. I've just been very, very, very, very, busy at work. Very. Busy. But I still have gotten to shows and book signings. Eventually I will post about some amazing Robert Plant shows, the Freedom at 20 Concert with Hugh Masekela,  Vusi Mahlasela, and Dave Matthews, and meeting Joe Perry.

And there is so much music to come! Culture Club, the annual Jeff Buckley birthday tribute, and planning for New Year's with Elton John, mi familia Gogol Bordello, not to mention several night's with Railroad Earth, and planning for next year's music festivals.

It's also almost holiday time, so don't worry, we'll be looking at some of those classic, and not so classic tunes. I am also going to share my thoughts on why I am starting to cringe when I go to concerts -- or rather, when I go to watch people film the performers I'm trying to watch. We're at the tipping point folks. Love your opinions on this.

And now for something completely random