I first learned of Rickie Lee Jones at a Warner\Elektra\Asylum party held at their sales office in Connecticut one evening in 1979. When I walked in there she was on the large video screen singing this song and I was immediately hooked on her bohemian cool.
Rickie Lee Jones’s modern muse is calling me again as I listen with a renewed sense of purpose to her auspicious body of work. I am taken with her mystical voice as it swirls thoughtful sensibilities about my head. I have gained an appreciation for Balm in Gilead her latest studio recording (2009).
Rickie Lee Jones chose Stockholm as the location for her live concert filming. I sense a warm energy surrounding this performance. The unique setting is the historic and regal Berns Salonger, built in 1862. It is an impressive setting amidst massive crystal chandeliers, gilded walls, and paintings of Swedish royalty. Live in Stockholm is available for pre-order here.
I am enthralled with Lucinda Williams new recording, Blessed, it’s stellar work. Her songs have a raw, poetic edge rarely found in our American landscape. Lucinda Williams is a singer/songwriter who reaches deep within my soul. I find a rare peace resulting from immersion in her muse. I listen to her songs when I am up late at night studying. She mentors my creativity as I draw upon her energy for life.
Lucinda Williams’s voice is gritty, a delicate blend of pathos intertwined with strong truth. Her music is compelling. We’re close in age (she’s younger ;), yet she knows much more than I will ever fathom.
Lucinda Williams underscores her compassion for those she’s encountered through the cover art she has chosen for her deluxe CD. There are eight different covers each portraying striking studies of people holding the sign, “Blessed.”
I’m blessed to know these people through the photographs that Lucinda Williams shares with us. Each of the pictures makes me smile and wonder. The various covers directly correlate to the discoveries her songs unfold for us.
There are actually 10 different cover photographs available if you add in the standard edition and vinyl LP edition of Blessed. Her music keeps on giving. If you buy any version of Blessed by March 6th and mail them a copy of your receipt they will send you four more unreleased songs. I have to hand it to Lost Highway Records and the Lucinda Williams team for putting together an engaging marketing program for Blessed.
I have decided I’m going to pick Lucinda Williams, Blessed deluxe CD after school today, I wonder what cover edition I’ll find 😉
I drift back to the time when we listened perpetually to FM radio, in particular Metromedia affiliate WNEW-FM 102.7 out of New York City. The year was 1973, Rosemary and I were newly married and living in an apartment in South Norwalk, Ct. We were very in league with the NEW-FM disk jockeys such as Dave Herman in the morning and Scott Muni (Scottso) in the afternoon. It was Dave Herman who turned us on to Garland Jeffreys and his anthem-like song, “Wild in the Streets”. Garland’s 45 r.p.m record got a lot of airplay on the station that year, deservedly so 😉
Rolling ahead to 1977, Garland Jeffreys recorded and released Ghost Writer on A&M Records. I used to go on record buying binges to J&R Music World and other record haunts throughout NY City, sometimes buying 10-12 albums at a clip. I recall purchasing Ghost Writer in the Village and playing it extensively on my Sunday morning radio show on WVOF-FM 88.5 at Fairfield University. I would lean strongly on “35 Millimeter Dreams”, “Lift Me Up” and “Why-O” in my playlists. I was just going through my vinyl collection recently, thinking the next time I see Garland Jeffreys I’ll ask him to sign Ghost Writer for me so I can frame it for my home office 😉
Rolling forward to October 9, 2010, we saw Garland Jeffreys perform live as part of Happy Birthday John, An Informal Celebration of John Lennon’s 70th Birthday in NY City. Here is the video clip of his poetic reading of “Help”, which was very moving to witness.
I was very honored to have a chance to talk to Garland Jeffreys on the steps of the Society for Ethical Culture before the show and again after the concert at the after party at Gibson Studios. I loved his sincerity and the sense of excitement I felt about his career revival.
I’m making a solemn pledge to spend quality listening time with Garland’s music and his official video channel on YouTube. I want to become more in harmony with Garland’s music in anticipation of his new recording (which is in production). He’s stepping up his touring schedule as a result and we hope to catch him live again real soon. 🙂
It’s such a comfort being back in touch with the musical spirit of Harry Chapin. I received his CD, Short Storiesthis past week. This was Harry’s third recording, following Heads & Tales andSniper and other Love Songs. It was the first of four recordings produced by Paul Leka (Paul was Harry’s producer from 1974-1976) at Connecticut Recording Studios in Bridgeport. Connecticut.
Short Stories is just that, a collection of 10 short story songs written by master story-teller Harry Chapin. The recordings are backed up by Harry’s band at the time, Ron Palmer on guitar. John Wallace on bass and Michael Masters on cello. Paul Leka played all keyboards. There are various other session musicians that were involved and they are listed here.
I played this album many times during my FM college days at WHNU-FM and WVOF-FM from 1974-1978.
My favorite tracks on Short Stories are W.O.L.D., naturally. I especially love the three songs in succession, “They Call Her Easy”, “Mr. Tanner” and “Mail Order Annie”. Theses tracks flow together with an effortless charm.
The first sentence in this stanza expresses how music will always feel to me. 🙂
“But music was his life, it was not his livelihood, and it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good. And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul. He did not know how well he sang; It just made him whole.”
Mr. Tanner by Harry Chapin. Copyright 1973 by ChapinMusic.
“Old College Avenue” hearkens as my latest favorite as I wax nostalgic envisioning the imagery of walking around a campus university. There is just something about academia that fills my consciousness with dreams of youth and times gone by…
Expect more posts about Harry Chapin as the year progresses 😉
Harry Chapin is one of our favorite all-time singer-songwriters. We were privileged to see him perform eight times from 1974 through 1979 . His concerts were a rich mixture of fun, provocative thoughts, and pinch of balderdash.
Harry was always personable and graciously accommodated my requests for interviews several times. I’ll never forget the night he did two back to back concerts for the World Hunger Year charity at Fairfield University and afterwards came back to the college radio station to do a 45 minute interview with me over the air live on WVOF-FM 88.5. What made this interview significant was that this was the station where I conducted my “Sunday Morning Sunshine” radio show. Harry’s single was the song I used to open every show 🙂
Harry had a special quality about him, he treated you like an equal by honoring what you knew, then he would add to your collective consciousness with his unique perspectives about music and life.
His second album Sniper and other Love Songs was released in October 1972. It was a change in music direction with its added intensity and depth from Harry and his band. His Top 40 hit, “Taxi” from his first album, Heads and Taleswas riding the charts in 1972, so Sniper and other Love Songs was quite the contrast.
Sniper and other Love Songs is a mixed bag of story songs, hit singles and folk classics. “Sniper” is a gripping song that puts you in the mind of Charles Whitman, the 1966 Texas clock tower assassin. Harry’s portrayal of the sniper is eerily poetic as we find out why the sniper kills others. The voice in the sniper’s head that Harry sings about are the echoes of a mother ignoring and blaming her child for being born. The sniper’s last words, “I was, I am, and now I will be”, are an ironic triumph over a neglected life on earth which perhaps sheds the final insight into the psychology of the sniper, who is on a tortured quest for self-actualization.
Our other favorite two songs on this CD are “Better Place to Be“, which is a song that I urge you to listen to understand the aching of the human heart. “Circle” was a song Harry Chapin performed often as the encore at his concerts. We would join hands in the audience, chiming in with him and the band as their extended theater in the round.
I plan to write more about Harry Chapin on this blog, as I gather up my memories, so until that time 😉
Circle, Written By Harry Chapin, Lyrics copyright Harry Chapin Foundation
All my life’s a circle; But I can’t tell you why; Season’s spinning round again; The years keep rollin’ by.
If you like rhythm and blues, switched up with horns and driving percussion I highly recommend the new single by Tony Lindsay entitled, Fun in the Sun. Tony’s smooth vocals are complemented by his infectious charm and enthusiasm.
Tony Lindsay has performed lead vocals with Santana for the past 20 years. When not touring with Santana, he sings for Spang-a-Lang, a local R&B/Jazz/Pop group he founded that has opened for several well-known acts, including Curtis Mayfield, Jr. Walker, Tower of Power, and Average White Band, to name a few. Tony is also a very talented song writer, composer and music arranger.