A song John Fogerty wrote and released in early 2021, discussing the sad state of America in the Trump years, and it’s a song that’s still irritatingly appropriate given the shenanigans performed by the Supreme Court in recent times.
Happy fucking Fourth…..
Ronnie Gilbert was one of the Weavers, the great folk quartet from the 1940s and 1950s, who were blacklisted during the 1950s, but enjoyed a renaissance in the 1960s when Peter, Paul, and Mary covered their song “If I Had a Hammer.”
Holly Near is a folksinger and activist who dedicated an album to Gilbert and then later met her. The pair of them did a lot of touring together, and one of their best songs is one that they sang on a Weavers documentary from 1980, Wasn’t That a Time? and would regularly perform live: a song about women missing and killed by fascist regimes in Chile: “Hay Una Mujer Desaparecida.”
Back in 1988, I attended one of the concerts in the Amnesty International Human Rights Now! tour featuring Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Youssou N’Dour, and Tracy Chapman. Where the former four acts all came out with bands, Chapman was just herself and an acoustic guitar. She held Giants Stadium in the palm of her hand all by herself, doing some killer renditions of her songs, including her first big hit, “Fast Car.” A phenomenal singer/songwriter, here’s her studio original and a live version that gives you an idea how gripping her performance in 1988 was.
In 1983, we spent a month in California, travelling to Los Angeles, Anaheim, Big Sur, San Luis Obispo, the Redwood Forest, and San Francisco. It was a great trip. The two songs that comprise the soundtrack of that trip were two songs that were big hits in the summer of ’83: “Electric Avenue” by Eddy Grant and this great song by Elton John. Here’s the original, as well as a nifty live version from the Prince’s Trust concert in 1986, where he was accompanied by a band including Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler on guitar, Howard Jones on keyboards, Phil Collins on drums, Ray Cooper on percussion, and more…..
One of the absolute classics by David Bowie, remastered in 2012…..
Today is Wrenn’s 55th birthday, and in her honor, I present one of her favorite songs (and also one I love a great deal), Great Big Sea’s “Ordinary Day.”
Here’s another great version of a Band song from Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band in 1989: “Up on Cripple Creek,” which has great guitar solos by Nils Lofgren and Joe Walsh, nifty sax riffing by Clarence Clemons, and Billy Preston trying to re-create the jaws-harp-ish sound Garth Hudson did on the original.
Also, I love the fact that the band has three drummers: Levon, Ringo, and Jim Keltner. (When Ringo’s up front, his son Zak Starkey takes over on the third drumkit.)
I say it’s my birthday, my 53rd to be precise, and so I must play this classic Beatles song — in this case, Sir Paul McCartney performing it live in Grand Central Station in September 2018, at the ripe old age of 76.
In 2020, the man born Steven Georgiou, who became a famous musician as Cat Stevens, and who nowadays goes by Yusuf, did a new recording of his brilliant 1970 album Tea for the Tillerman on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. It’s really interesting to hear the older Yusuf rerecording some of his classics.
Here are three different versions of “Sad Lisa.” The 1970 original is haunting; the live version from 1976 is intense; the 2020 cover is a tear-inducing dirge. Check them out.
In the summer of 1982, my parents all had to attend the American Library Association summer conference, which was held in Los Angeles. After a week of doing ALA, we spent the next three weeks vacationing up and down California, hitting Anaheim, Big Sur, San Luis Obispo, the Redwood Forest, and finally San Francisco. It was my first (and so far only) trip to Disney Land, and it was also the trip where I got to meet Robin Williams in a comic book store in San Francisco.
Throughout that trip, every time we turned on the radio or a TV was tuned to MTV, Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue” was playing. It became the unofficial anthem of the trip. And every time I hear that song now, I’m thirteen years old and having a blast going up and down the west coast.
And here it is for you….