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Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Tune o’ the Day

In the 50 years from 1940 to 1990, the five most prolific songwriters in the recording business were Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Kris Kristofferson, Jimmy Webb, and Buck Ram. Buck Ram? Probably the best songwriter you’ve never heard of.

At various times, he wrote, produced, and arranged hit songs for Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Glenn Miller, Ike and Tina Turner, The Drifters, The Coasters, and The Platters.

Ram wrote “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “I’m Sorry,” and “Sweet Sixteen.” For The Platters, he wrote “Only You,” “The Great Pretender,” “Heaven on Earth,” “Remember When,” “(You’ve Got) The Magic Touch,” and “Twilight Time.”

According to Ram, he originally wrote “Twilight Time” as a poem while in college, and in 1944, the Three Suns added the music. The song was first recorded in 1945 by the Jimmy Dorsey band. In 1958, The Platters released the version most people remember.

Quite a story. And as far as I’m concerned, “Twilight Time” works fine either way — poem or song.

The Platters

Twilight Time

By The Platters, 1958
Written by Buck Ram, Artie Dunn, Al Nevins, and Morty Nevins

Heavenly shades of night are falling.
It’s twilight time.
Out of the mist your voice is calling.
It’s twilight time.
When purple-colored curtains mark the end of day,
I’ll hear you, my dear, at twilight time.

Deepening shadows gather splendor
As day is done.
Fingers of night will soon surrender
The setting sun.
I count the moments, darling, till you’re here with me.
Together, at last, at twilight time.

Here, in the afterglow of day,
We keep our rendezvous
Beneath the blue.
And, in the sweet and same old way,
I fall in love again, as I did then.

Deep in the dark, your kiss will thrill me
Like days of old.
Lighting the spark of love that fills me
With dreams untold.
Each day, I pray for evening, just to be with you.
Together, at last, at twilight time.

Here, in the afterglow of day,
We keep our rendezvous
Beneath the blue.
And, in the sweet and same old way,
I fall in love again, as I did then.

Deep in the dark, your kiss will thrill me
Like days of old.
Lighting the spark of love that fills me
With dreams untold.
Each day, I pray for evening, just to be with you.
Together, at last, at twilight time.
Together, at last, at twilight time.

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“The Breakfast Club,” one of the old John Hughes teen angst movies, is about five high school students from different social groups who are thrown together in Saturday morning detention. The film asked if the bonds that formed among them would endure after the detention ended and they resumed their normal lives.

The movie’s theme song, “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” is based on that question.

During production, the songwriters searched for a band to record the song for the film, without success. Among the groups that declined was the Scottish band Simple Minds. Lead singer Jim Kerr objected to recording material not written by the group.

But Kerr’s band mates got him to change his mind. The result was a huge hit that topped the charts, introduced Simple Minds to the U.S. audience, and has been a staple at senior proms ever since.

“Will you recognize me? Call my name or walk on by?” Everyone can relate, in their school days and beyond. That’s why it resonates.

Simple Minds

Don’t You (Forget About Me)

By Simple Minds, 1985
Written by Keith Forsey and Steve W. Schiff

Hey, hey, hey, hey!
Ooh, woe.

Won’t you come see about me?
I’ll be alone, dancing — you know it, baby.
Tell me your troubles and doubts.
Giving me everything, inside and out,

And love’s strange, so real in the dark.
Think of the tender things that we were working on.
Slow change may pull us apart.
When the light gets into your heart, baby,

Don’t you
Forget about me.
Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t you
Forget about me.

Will you stand above me?
Look my way, never love me?
Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling
Down, down, down.

Will you recognize me?
Call my name or walk on by?
Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling
Down, down, down, down.

Hey, hey, hey, hey!
Ooh, woe.

Don’t you try and pretend
It’s my feeling we’ll win in the end.
I won’t harm you or touch your defenses.
Vanity, insecurity.

Don’t you forget about me.
I’ll be alone, dancing — you know it, baby.
Going to take you apart.
I’ll put us back together at heart, baby.

Don’t you
Forget about me.
Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t you
Forget about me.

As you walk on by,
Will you call my name?
As you walk on by,
Will you call my name
When you walk away?

Or will you walk away?
Will you walk on by?
Come on, call my name.
Will you call my name?

I say (la, la la la la, la la la la).

When you walk on by.

 

 

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Tune o’ the Day

Try a Little Tenderness” was first recorded in 1932 and given the orchestral treatment of the day. Bing Crosby did a version.

In 1966, Otis Redding recorded a soul version of the song, notable for a slow beginning that built to a frenzied conclusion.

Then came the 1991 film “The Commitments,” the story of a group of Dubliners who form an R&B group. They deliver amazing renditions of such classics as “Mustang Sally,” “In the Midnight Hour,” “Chain of Fools,” and, of course, “Try a Little Tenderness.” “The Commitments” gave us a terrific soundtrack.

And, believe it or not, when lead singer Andrew Strong belted out those stunning vocals, he was a tender 16 years old.

The Commitments

Try a Little Tenderness

By The Commitments, 1991
Written by Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly, and Harry M. Woods

Oh, she may be weary.
Young girls they do get weary,
Wearing that same old shaggy dress.
But when she gets weary,
Try a little tenderness

You know she’s waiting,
Just anticipating
For things that she’ll never, never, never, never possess.
But while she’s there waiting without them,
Try a little tenderness (that’s all you gotta do, this is for you).

It’s not just sentimental, no, no, no.
She has her grief and care.
But the soft words they are spoke so gentle,
It makes it easier, easier to bear.

You won’t regret it, no, no.
Young girls they never forget it.
Love is their only happiness.
But it’s all so easy.
All you gotta do is try a little tenderness.

Oh, she may be weary.
Young girls they do get weary,
Wearing that same old shaggy dress, yeah yeah.
But when she gets weary,
Try a little tenderness, yeah, yeah.

You know she’s waiting,
Just anticipating
For things that she’ll never, never, never, never possess, yeah.
But while she’s there waiting without them,
Try a little tenderness (that’s all you gotta do).

It’s not just sentimental, no, no, no.
She has her grief and care.
But the soft words they are spoke so gentle, yeah,
It makes it easier, easier to bear, yeah.

You won’t regret it, no, no.
Some girls they don’t forget it.
Love is their only happiness, yeah.
But it’s all so easy.
All you gotta do is try, try a little tenderness.

Squeeze her, don’t tease her, never leave her.
You’ve got, you’ve got, you’ve got
Just try a little tenderness, oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

Squeeze her, don’t tease her, never leave her.
You’ve got, you’ve got, you’ve got
Just try a little tenderness, oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

Squeeze her, don’t tease her, never leave her.
You’ve got, you’ve got, you’ve got
Just try a little tenderness, oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

Squeeze her, don’t tease her, never leave her.
You’ve got, you’ve got, you’ve got
Just try a little tenderness, oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

Squeeze her, don’t tease her, never leave her.
You’ve got, you’ve got, you’ve got
Just try a little tenderness, oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

Squeeze her, don’t tease her, never leave her.
You’ve got, you’ve got, you’ve got
Just try a little tenderness, oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

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Tune o’ the Day

The early-70s pop group “Looking Glass” didn’t last long, but they left us the excellent and timeless song “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl).”

Looking Glass” was formed by four students at Rutgers University in 1969. “Brandy” was on their first album in 1972. In 1973, they followed up with a second album and the modestly successful “Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne,” but that was it. By 1974, the group disbanded.

Elliot Lurie, the group’s lead singer, tried to go solo, but never got real traction. He turned to producing music in Hollywood.

The story of Brandy‘s unrequited love is a poignant classic, especially as presented in Lurie’s unique golden tones. I can’t imagine “Brandy” sung in any other voice.

Looking Glass

Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)

By Looking Glass, 1972
Written by Elliot Lurie

There’s a port on a western bay,
And it serves a hundred ships a day
.
Lonely sailors pass the time away
And talk about their homes
.

And there’s a girl in this harbor town,
And she works layin’ whiskey down
.
They say
, “Brandy, fetch another round.
She serves them whiskey and wine
.

The sailors say, “Brandy, you’re a fine girl.
What a good wife you would be
.
Yeah
, your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea.

Brandy wears a braided chain
Made of finest silver from the north of Spain.
A locket that bears the name
Of the man that Brandy loves
.

He came on a summer’s day,
Bringin’ gifts from far away
.
But he made it clear he couldn’t stay
.
No harbor was his home
.

The sailor said “Brandy, you’re a fine girl.
What a good wife you would be
.
But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea
.

Yeah, Brandy used to watch his eyes
When he told his sailor stories.
She could feel the ocean fall and rise
When she saw his ragin’ glory
.
But he had always told the truth
. Lord, he was an honest man.
And Brandy does her best to understand
.

At night when the bars close down,
Brandy walks through a silent town
,
And loves a man who’s not around
.
She still can hear him say

She hears him say, “Brandy, you’re a fine girl.
What a good wife you would be
.
But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea
.”

“Brandy, you’re a fine girl.
What a good wife you would be
.
But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea.”

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Tune o’ the Day

Everybody knows the rock classic “I Fought the Law,” in which an inmate explains how he ended up in the slammer. The song was written, ironically enough, by a Texas 21-year-old with a clean record.

That Texan is musician Sonny Curtis, who in 1959 became lead singer/guitarist of The Crickets after the death of Buddy Holly.

The Crickets recorded “I Fought the Law” in 1960, and it went nowhere. Then, in 1965, the tune was covered by the Bobby Fuller Four, another popular regional band. This time, it got national attention.

Curtis is still around today and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Fuller died in 1966 at age 23. His death was ruled a suicide, but various alternate theories exist, including one claim that he was murdered by mobsters involved in the recording industry.

I Fought the Law” has been covered 50-odd times over the years. The song is notable for its simplicity, for the inmate’s candor about his plight, and for his clear lack of remorse for having pursued a life of crime.

Bobby Fuller Four

I Fought the Law

By the Bobby Fuller Four, 1966
Written by Sonny Curtis

I’m breakin’ rocks in the hot sun.
I fought the law, and the law won.
I fought the law, and the law won.

I needed money ’cause I had none.
I fought the law, and the law won.
I fought the law, and the law won.

I left my baby, and I feel so sad.
I guess my race is run.
But she’s the best girl I’ve ever had.
I fought the law, and the law won.
I fought the law, and the law won.

I’m robbin’ people with a six-gun.
I fought the law, and the law won.
I fought the law, and the law won.

I miss my baby and the good fun.
I fought the law, and the law won.
I fought the law, and the law won.

I left my baby, and I feel so sad.
I guess my race is run.
But she’s the best girl I’ve ever had.
I fought the law, and the law won.
I fought the law, and the law won.

 

 

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Pop music was never my thing, and for years, my practice has been to ignore it. I may have missed a few good songs that way, but I spared myself from enduring the huge mass of bad ones.

However, occasional exceptions get through and get my attention. Such was the case in 1979 with “Just When I Needed You Most” by Randy VanWarmer.

VanWarmer said he wrote the song six months after a painful breakup with his girlfriend. That’s probably why it rings so true.

He never became a major star, but he kept recording, and, during the 1980s, he began writing songs for a variety of country singers and groups (The Oak Ridge Boys, Alabama, Charley Pride). Sadly, he died in 2004 of leukemia at age 48.

If your legacy is a heartfelt love song, well, that’s pretty cool.

VanWarmer

Just When I Needed You Most

By Randy VanWarmer, 1979
Written by Randy VanWarmer

You packed in the morning, and I
Stared out the window, and I
Struggled for something to say.
You left in the rain
Without closing the door.
I didn’t stand in your way.

But I miss you more than I
Missed you before, and now,
Where I’ll find comfort, God knows.
‘Cause you left me
Just when I needed you most.

Now, most every morning, I
Stare out the window, and I
Think about where you might be.
I’ve written you letters
That I’d like to send,
If you would just send one to me.

‘Cause I need you more than I
Needed before, and now,
Where I’ll find comfort, God knows.
‘Cause you left me
Just when I needed you most.

You packed in the morning, and I
Stared out the window, and I
Struggled for something to say.
You left in the rain
Without closing the door.
I didn’t stand in your way.

Now, I love you more than I
Loved you before, and now,
Where I’ll find comfort, God knows.
‘Cause you left me
Just when I needed you most.
Oh, yeah, you left me
Just when I needed you most.

You left me
Just when I needed you most.

 

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One day back in 2002, my mom called and said excitedly, “Rocky, have you heard that new Johnny Cash song, ‘The Man Comes Around’?” I had not.

“Oh, you need to hear it. Johnny Cash is always good, but this song is something else. It’s… biblical.”

She tried to explain, but it was futile. I had no idea why the song had her so amped.

When I finally heard it, I understood her enthusiasm.

The song was the title tune on Johnny’s 2002 album “American IV: The Man Comes Around.”

Wikipedia explains it thusly:

“There are numerous biblical references in the lyrics. A spoken portion from Revelation 6:1–2 in the King James Version introduces the song. The passage describes the coming of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, each heralded by one of the ‘four beasts’ first mentioned in Revelation 4:6–9.

“The musical portion then begins with Cash reciting that ‘the man’ (Jesus Christ) will one day come to pass judgment. The chorus indicates that these events will be accompanied by trumpets, pipers, and ‘one hundred million angels singing.’ The voice of the Lord in Revelation is often likened to the sound of a loud trumpet. Revelation 5:11 states that John saw that there are millions of angels in Heaven.

“The song also alludes to the Parable of the Ten Virgins from the Gospel of Matthew with the lyrics ‘The virgins are all trimming their wicks,’ a reference to the virgins’ preparation of the Second Coming of Christ.

“The phrase, ‘It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks’ cites Acts 26:14, where Paul the Apostle describes meeting Jesus while traveling to Damascus. It is a reference to a Greek proverb where a kicking ox only injures himself by attempting to kick against a goad, intended to represent the futility of resisting the Lord.

“Elsewhere, the song mentions the wise men who bow before the Lord’s throne, and cast their ‘golden crowns’ at the feet of God. Revelation 4 refers to elders who worship the Lord and ‘lay their crowns’ before Him. ‘Alpha and Omega’ refers to Jesus Christ. ‘Whoever is unjust… etc.’ is a quote from Revelation 22:11.”

Mom was right. Johnny Cash going Old Testament biblical is something else.

The Man Comes Around

The Man Comes Around

By Johnny Cash, 2002
Written by Johnny Cash

And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder:
One of the four beasts saying: “Come and see.” And I saw.
And behold, a white horse.

There’s a man goin’ ’round takin’ names.
An’ he decides who to free and who to blame.
Everybody won’t be treated all the same.
There’ll be a golden ladder reaching down
When the man comes around.

The hairs on your arm will stand up
At the terror in each sip and in each sup.
Will you partake of that last offered cup
Or disappear into the potter’s ground
When the man comes around?

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers.
One hundred million angels singing.
Multitudes are marching to the big kettle drum.
Voices callin’, voices cryin’.
Some are born and some are dyin’.
It’s Alpha and Omega’s Kingdom come.

And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
The virgins are all trimming their wicks.
The whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Till Armageddon, no Shalam, no Shalom.
Then the father hen will call his chickens home.
The wise men will bow down before the throne.
And at his feet they’ll cast their golden crowns
When the man comes around.

Whoever is unjust, let him be unjust still.
Whoever is righteous, let him be righteous still.
Whoever is filthy, let him be filthy still.
Listen to the words long written down
When the man comes around.

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers.
One hundred million angels singing.
Multitudes are marchin’ to the big kettle drum.
Voices callin’, voices cryin’.
Some are born and some are dyin’.
It’s Alpha and Omega’s Kingdom come.

And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
The virgins are all trimming their wicks.
The whirlwind is in the thorn tree.
It’s hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

In measured hundredweight and penny pound.
When the man comes around.

And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts,
And I looked, and behold: a pale horse.
And his name that sat on him was Death.
And Hell followed with him.

 

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