Category Archives: Music

Sunday Morning Video: Bryan Ferry Live At Glastonberry 2014

This entry is dedicated to our newest contributor, Cassandra. She is not only a Watergate obsessive, but a big Bryan Ferry/Roxy Music fan as am I.

My Heart Stood Still

It’s time for this feature to return to its roots with a 1927 song by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. I was worried that Frank, Dino, and Sammy would haunt me if I posted a rock song this week. Who needs angry Rat Packers after them?

My Heart Stood Sill has been recorded 178 times according to Secondhand Songs. I leave the counting to them.

We begin with Friday Cocktail Hour regular, Ella Fitzgerald:

Cool Jazz icon Chet Baker recorded the song in 1958. It features a sweet trumpet solo from the Chetster:

Sinatra cut a lush orchestral version in 1963:

I did not know that the Supremes had recorded an album of Motownized Rodgers & Hart songs. Instead of dissenting I concur with the up-tempo arrangement:

Next up, Joe Williams and George Shearing with a quieter take on Rodgers and Hart:

The most recent version out there is by James Taylor from his 2020 album American Standard:

What would a Friday Cocktail Hour post be without a jazz instrumental version of the week’s song? This time around we have two:

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Oscar Peterson? I can’t say it enough.

That concludes this week’s edition of the Friday Cocktail Hour. Pour yourself an adult beverage and toast the end of the Trump era. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

 

 

Life Goes On

Life is really fucking hard right now. The pandemic has gotten worse at the same time as white supremacists are rioting. The believe they can provoke a race war, their own personal Charlie Manson-style Helter Skelter. It was a demented fantasy in the Sixties and it still is.

I got sidetracked. Earlier this evening, there was a disturbing mass tweet from someone I don’t know well but care about. He’s lost some people to COVID and he was at the end of his rope. It was a classic cry for help and he got some. I understand he’s okay now but I get it. Life can be overwhelming at times, especially in the extended winter of our discontent. Those may not be words of wisdom but they’re all I’ve got.

That’s not really all I’ve got. As you know, I believe there’s a Kinks song for every occasion. There is for this situation as well, Life Goes On. It’s a song about someone who reaches the brink, but then pulls back. Since it’s a Ray Davies song, there’s a bit of mordant humor thrown in. I approve of mordant humor. In fact, I’m a proud practitioner of mordant humor.

I’ll post the tune followed by lyrics and there are a lot of them. Raymond Douglas Davies is a wise man.

The lyrics can be found after the break. I tried to format them so there would be spaces. It didn’t work. Oh well, what the hell.

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Album Cover Art Wednesday: Ringo

After the Bearles broke up, Ringo Starr wanted a hit album. In 1973, he got one with the help of producer Richard Perry and his former bandmates.

Here’s the whole damn album via Spotify:

Sunday Morning Video: Dwight Yoakam Live In Austin

The last concert I attended before the pandemic was Dwight Yoakam at the Fillmore in New Orleans. It’s fitting that the first concert video posted in the revived SMV be Dwight on Austin City Limits in 2015:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Through Your Hands

Drug Store by Edward Hopper.

It’s been cold every day this year. Not Chicago cold, but New Orleans cold is damp and gets in your bones. It makes one feel creaky and cranky. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t need anything to make me feel crankier in the waning days of the Trump regime. We all just want him to exit the national scene before he wreaks more havoc. He plans to stick around but the events of the last week may make that harder than previously thought. Stay tuned.

I didn’t plan to make January John Hiatt-Edward Hopper month. It just happened that way. Once I used Stolen Moments for Album Cover Art Wednesday, the die was cast or did the cast die? I prefer the former.

John Hiatt wrote this week’s theme song for the aforementioned album in 1989. It’s a lovely mid-tempo ballad that I saw him open a show with in the late 1990’s. He sang it without accompaniment, then the band joined him for Drive South. Twas a great show.

We have multiple versions of Through Your Hands for your listening pleasure. We begin with the Hiatt original followed by covers from Joan Baez, David Crosby, and Don Henley.

Don Henley’s version was in the Nora Ephron-John Travolta movie Michael, which was about an angel come to earth. At least I think it was: I saw it in a movie theatre when it came out many years ago. I could Google it, but I’m on a roll so I won’t.

I miss attending the movies less than expected. I loved the outing and the big screen BUT I despise people who talk during the show. I’m a shusher from way back. The only one I have to shush now is Claire Trevor as she demands a handout. You’d think that the namesake of a movie star would have more respect. Cats: can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

Let’s strap on some angel wings and fly to the break. I’m tired of jumping.

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Get Out Of This House

 

This is an unusual Friday Cocktail Hour entry. The song is a classic but it’s not a standard that has been widely covered. Instead, it’s a message to the Impeached Insult Comedian that we’re sick of his shit and ready for him to go.

Get Out Of This House was written by Shawn Colvin for her 1996 album, A Few Small Repairs. It received a Grammy nomination for best female pop performance. It’s a rip snorting breakup song.

We have two versions of the song: the studio original and Shawn live.

 

That’s it for this edition. Let’s toast the end of an error. Sinatra may have supported some Republican candidates late in life, but he knew and loathed Donald Trump. Pour yourself a shot of JD. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would have wanted. Never argue with them.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Stolen Moments

Inspired by the last Saturday Odds & Sods, I slid John Hiatt’s Stolen Moments into the CD player for first time in several years. I hadn’t forgotten how good the album is but I’d forgotten who did the cover photography, Robert Frank.

Frank was a legendary photographer and filmmaker who came to national attention in 1958 with his book, The Americans. It was a photo essay with text by Jack Kerouac. The book became an instant classic.

I’m not sure how Frank wound up shooting pictures of John Hiatt in 1990, but the originals are now in the Robert Frank collection at the National Gallery of Art. In a word: fancy.

Here’s the whole damn album via Spotify:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Listening To Old Voices

Two On The Aisle by Edward Hopper.

A friend asked me the other day if I felt different now that I’m the publisher of First Draft. Not at all; other than nervousness at having to follow Athenae in the role. There are worse things than having a case of the jitters. I’ll take them over the heebie jeebies any day.

I considered asking Tommy and Michael to call me Chief so I could make like Perry White and do this:

I decided not to do that, but I may start saying “Great Caesar’s Ghost.” It has a nice retro ring to it. It reminds me of my salad days…

This week’s theme song was written in 1990 by John Hiatt for his Stolen Moments album. The main reason I selected it was this verse:

It’s a new light, a new day
Listening for new meaning learning how to say
It’s a new place but you’ve always been here
You’re just listening to old voices with a new ear

I thought that fit the moment as we break ground on a brand-new year.

The late folk singer Odetta also recorded Listening To Old Voices but I have been unable to find it online. The Hiatt original will just have to do.

Before we jump to the break, here’s the title track from that album:

If you have a stolen moment, let’s join hands and jump to the break together.

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Something

I considered posting a hangover song but decided to start the new year out in a classier fashion. What’s classier than George Harrison and the Beatles? Not a damn thing.

Because of the holiday, we’re having our second consecutive early Cocktail Hour: “Hair of the dog and all that rot, eh wot.”

Uh oh, I sound like Bertie Wooster. Not a good look. I’d rather be Jeeves and say “Indeed, sir.”

George Harrison wrote Something for Abbey Road, and it became an instant classic. It was the sort of song that allowed some of our Cocktail Hour regulars to say, “I don’t like that rock and roll shit but the Beatles are okay.”

We begin with the Beatles original:

Miss Peggy Lee knew a good ballad when she heard one:

The Chairman of the Board had a grudging respect for the Beatles even if he thought their hair was too damn long:

Lou Rawls often performed Something in a medley with Feeling Good:

You haven’t lived until you’ve heard James Brown’s version of Something:

Next up, a countrypolitan version from Johnny Paycheck:

Here’s George’s old pal Macca and some bloke named Eric:

Finally, what would a Friday Cocktail Hour be without a jazz instrumental?

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Count Basie?

That’s it for this edition. It’s time to toast the end of one of the worst years in recent memory. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

The Christmas Song

The Friday Cocktail Hour comes early on Christmas Day. We want to catch Santa before he’s hungover, after all. Besides, Santa Donald has driven us to drink with his unpardonable pardons. I hope he gets coal in his stocking.

Mel Tormé and Bob Weiss wrote The Christmas Song on a boiling hot day in the summer of 1945. The two were trying to stay cool by thinking of winter. It’s unclear if that worked but the song certainly does.

Last Saturday, reader Christflora shared a link to a story from the News From Me blog about the Velvet Fog and some carolers. There’s always a good story when Mel Tormé is involved.

We begin with the songwriter himself.

Nat King Cole was the first to record The Christmas Song. Here he is in toon form:

The first version I ever heard of this song was by the patron saint of the Friday Cocktail Hour;

A nice jazzy interpretation by the great Ella Fitzgerald:

Finally, a 21st Century cover by Aimee Mann:

That’s it for the first Christmas day edition of the Friday Cocktail. I hope everyone had a Merry Xmas. Time to spike some eggnog with Jack Daniel’s.  It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Merry Christmas … Have A Nice Life

I’m on the record as not caring for most Christmas music. One Christmas album I *do* like has a bad title and a cheesy cover but the contents are damn good: Merry Christmas…Have A Nice Life by Cyndi Lauper. I refuse to include the happy face but I forgive her for it.

Not only is Ms. Lauper one of the finest singers in creation, she wrote a bunch of swell songs for this 1998 album. I wonder, however, if her Santa is sober. You never can tell.

 Here’s the whole damn album via Spotify:

I’m Dreaming Of A Slow News Day

I woke up with White Christmas in my head. I suspect you’ve heard of it. #sarcasm. It’s a Christmas song written by a Jewish guy and popularized by an Irish Catholic guy. The overwhelming popularity of the song always struck me as a bit odd since I’ve never lived in a place where a White Christmas is a likelihood. Hell, neither did Der Bingle: he lived not far from where I grew up.

This year, I’m dreaming of a slow news day just like the ones we used to know. Remember when presidents took a vacation during the holidays? That’s my dream: Reagan on his ranch, Poppy Bush in Maine, Obama in Hawaii. Unlike the Current Occupant, they knew the perils of overexposure.

American used to focus on the holidays on the Monday before Christmas. In 2020, the Impeached Insult Comedian is still working overtime to own the libs. Why not? It’s so easy. The whole Michael Flynn-Martial Law leak is classic Trump: blow smoke and sow seeds of confusion about something that is impossible. Repeat after me: IMPOSSIBLE.

I certainly believe that Flynn is capable of such an utterance, but he was pandering to the guy who pardoned him. Martial law isn’t a thing that can just be declared without planning and preparation. When did the Kaiser of Chaos ever plan anything? Martial law isn’t even an American thing: there’s no specific provision for it in either the constitution or federal law.

A reminder that the Joint Chiefs of Staff declared themselves out of politics before the election. You can’t have marital law or a coup without the military. The brass hate Trump. They’d rather have an asterisk-free president who doesn’t call veterans “losers and suckers.” I understand that there’s one available.

I have other dreams this chilly, not snowy New Orleans morning.

I dream that people will stop misusing words like coup, sedition, and treason. Things are bad enough without overdramatizing everything.

I dream that my social media feeds will not be clogged with people who hate authoritarianism so much that they want to throw everyone in jail. Proof positive that irony isn’t dead.

I dream that people will stop lamenting the hardship of a socially distant holiday season and focus on 2021 when the holiday season will be back to semi-normal. Life is hard enough without relentless kvetching. Repeat after me: Better stir crazy than dead.

I dream that we can go a week without thinking of the sitting president because he’s a normal guy, not a sociopath. I understand that there’s one available.

Living in interesting times is overrated. I’m dreaming of a slow news day just like the ones we used to know.

The last word goes to the Irish Catholic guy who popularized White Christmas:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Forbidden Fruit

Photograph by Andre Kertesz.

The weather has been god awful in New Orleans most of the week. Cold, cloudy, and gloomy. It’s enough to make me mutter “Bah Humbug” under my breath as I write this. I also envy Claire Trevor her fur coat and ability to lie close to the space heater without catching on fire. One of our former cats, Window, singed her whiskers on an old-fashioned wall space heater in our old place on Pine Street. So it goes.

I’ve been listening to The Band a lot the last few weeks. Just call me a throwback music buff. Robbie Robertson wrote this week’s theme song for The Band’s 1975 album Northern Lights Southern Cross. The album remains overlooked and underrated; I’ve always liked it, especially this song. It’s a perfect album opener and a fine Odds & Sods theme song.

We have two versions of Forbidden Fruit for your listening pleasure: the studio original and the Band live in 1976.

Now that we’ve tasted the forbidden fruit and been banned from the garden of eden, we might as well jump to the break.

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To Love Somebody

 

This week’s entry is inspired by the marvelous HBO documentary, The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart. I’ll be reviewing it in tomorrow’s Saturday post. In the documentary, Barry Gibb calls To Love Somebody the best song he’s ever written. That’s saying a lot.

Barry and Robin Gibb wrote To Love Somebody in 1967 for their first internationally released album, Bee Gees 1st. This wistful tune became a hit in both the UK and US and the Bee Gees were on their way.

We begin (where else?) with the Bee Gees original:

One of the earliest covers was by the great jazz singer Nina Simone:

Janis Joplin recorded the Gibb’s song for her first solo album:

The Flying Burrito Brothers countrified To Love Somebody turning it into a “tears in your beer” weeper:

Rod Stewart cut Barry and Robin’s song with Booker T and The MGs. It doesn’t get more soulful than that:

Rita Marley reggae-fied the song. It’s reportedly one of Barry Gibb’s favorite covers:

Finally, Little Milton with a bluesy interpretation of To Love Somebody:

That’s it for this week. Raise your glass and toast the end of another week. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

Album Cover Art Wednesday: Christmas Is 4 Ever

Even though I prefer CDs to vinyl, I rarely post a CD cover in this space. The best thing about LPs are the covers. This 2006 album by the great funk bassist Bootsy Collins is an exception to the rule. I live for exceptions to the rule. I find them exceptional.

The whole package is swell but I’m sticking to the Bootsy in a snow globe cover because I’m feeling lazy. For the rest, get thee to Discogs.

Here’s the whole damn album via the YouTube:

 

 

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: Watching The Wheels

Wheel by Paul Strand.

December 8, 1980 is another day “which will live in infamy.” It was the day that John Lennon was murdered. I keep meaning to mark the day here at First Draft but somehow keep missing it. This year, it was Athenae Tuesday so at least I have a good reason.

All Beatles fans who were alive and sentient 40 years ago remember where they were when they heard the news. I was a typical college kid: I was doing laundry at my parents’ house and watching Monday Night Football with my father. Howard Cosell made the announcement. I was shocked and saddened. Lou made it worse by saying, “He was probably buying drugs on the street.” My mother shushed him but my aggravation level hit 100. That’s the not terribly interesting story of where I was when John Lennon was killed.

John Lennon wrote Watching The Wheels in the year of his death for the posthumously released Double Fantasy album. He was returning home from a recording session when he was murdered. I should have told my dad that rock stars didn’t score on the street but had their drugs delivered to them in the studio.

We have three versions of this swell song for your listening pleasure: the Lennon original and covers by The Samples and Chris Cornell.

This is the second time this fall that I’ve used a wheelie tune as the Saturday post theme song. Here’s a Kiwi wheelie song before we jump to the break:

Now that we’ve been fortified by the Crowdies, let’s do it. See you on the other side.

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Help Me Make It Through The Night

 

This week’s entry is one of the most recorded songs of the post-Rat Pack era. According to the indespenaible site, Second Hand Songs, it’s been recorded 344 times thus far.

Kris Kristofferson wrote and recorded Help Me Make It Through The Night in 1969. The first big hit version was recorded by Sammi Smith in 1970 but I’m skipping it because there are so many more interesting interpretations. Kristofferson’s lyrics and melody lend themselves to a variety of genres from country to soul to rock to pop to folk.

We begin with the songwriter’s original studio version:

Soul singer Percy Sledge recorded one of the earliest versions of the song:

The great country torch singer Kitty Wells also cut an early cover:

The folks at Motown knew a great ballad when they heard one:

Next up is Friday Cocktail Hour regular Bryan Ferry:

All of those versions were recorded in the 1970’s. Let’s do a time jump to 1999 with New Orleans’ own Davell Crawford:

The 21st Century is represented by X’s John Doe:

What’s a Friday Cocktail Hour without a jazz instrumental version?

I hope this week’s entry will help you make it through this and many more nights. It’s time to raise your glass and toast the end of another week. It’s what Bogie, Betty and Frank would want. Never argue with them.

 

Album Cover Art Wednesday: A Very Special Christmas

A Very Special Christmas was released in 1987. It’s the first of a series of holiday albums benefitting the Special Olympics. It’s noteworthy for cover art by the late, great Keith Haring.

Here’s the whole damn album.

Share Your Love With Me

 

This week’s entry is an R&B classic. It was written in 1964 by Alfred Briggs and Deadric Malone and first recorded by the great Bobby Blue Bland.

Share Your Love With Me is a wistful song with a melody that lends itself to different interpretations. That’s the essence of the Friday Cocktail Hour.

We begin with Bobby Blue Bland:

Our second version was recorded in 1970 by the Queen of Soul. Say no more.

Moondog Matinee is The Band’s most underrated record because it’s a “covers” album. That makes it sound as if they copied other artist’s interpretations. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Their version of Share Your Love With Me features a plaintive vocal by Richard Manuel. It broke my heart the first time I heard it. It still does.

Van Morrison may be a creep and a malaka but he’s also a great singer.

That’s all for this week. Pour yourself a belt and toast the end of another weird news week. It’s what Bogie, Betty, and Frank would want. Never argue with them.