Now I’ve Seen The Way

magic_hand

And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. ~ Acts 8:11

You’re sailing softly through the sun
in a broken stone age dawn.
You fly so high.

Isn’t it funny how some people can simply mesmerize us? No matter what they do, we love it. There’s just a certain magic in the air when they’re around. And even when they do things we disagree with, we give them a pass. We just smile, shake our head and shrug it off.

I get a strange magic,
oh, what a strange magic,
oh, it’s a strange magic.
Got a strange magic,
got a strange magic.

It’s like we are hoping a little of that magic dust will rub off on us, if we can just hang around it long enough. One characteristic about these “magical” souls is their ability to make you feel like they are wholly and totally interested in you – and only you – even if it’s just for that moment.

You’re walking meadows in my mind,
making waves across my time,
oh no, oh no.

And while it’s clear that Jesus was not physically imposing or impressive – he is routinely described as being very ordinary in appearance – the people he encountered were drawn to him like a magnet. It’s my belief that He must have been one of those people who locked right in on you, like a laser beam, until you felt there was no one else in the world except the two of you. Totally focused only on you and your concerns.

I get a strange magic,
oh, what a strange magic,
oh, it’s a strange magic.
Got a strange magic,
got a strange magic.

Jeff Lynne, one of the founders and the creative force behind the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) was certainly one of those magical personalities, as well. ELO “burst” upon the American music scene in 1971 with their debut LP, No Answer. I say burst, but maybe I should say bust, as there was very little notice or fanfare. It seemed that their “light orchestra” concept for rock-n-roll simply did not translate well outside the studio. In fact, many of their earliest show dates were cancelled because their sound was so bad. “Roll Over Beethoven”, indeed.

Oh, I’m never gonna be the same again,
now I’ve seen the way it’s got to end,
sweet dream, sweet dream.

But by the time their third album – On The Third Day – came out, they had hit the formula for their signature sound with “Showdown” reaching #53 on the Billboard charts. And with their fourth album – Eldorado – they moved up to a new level with “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” going to #9. With the tour for Eldorado, Jeff decided to quit trying use only studio effects onstage to replicate their sound and hired an actual string based orchestra and choir for the road shows. ELO instantly became one of the most popular live bands on tour.

Strange magic,
oh, what a strange magic,
oh, it’s a strange magic.
Got a strange magic,
got a strange magic.

When people talk about “Strange Magic”, they frequently use terms like “trance-like”, “mesmerizing” and “hypnotic” to describe the sound. It sounded, at that time, truly like nothing else on the radio. Jeff Lynne has maintained that his original goal with ELO was to structure a form of “classical rock” that would “take up where The Beatles left off”.

The cover art for Face The Music depicted an electrocution on the front with the band facing against a glass panel watching it, on the back. One band member – keyboardist Richard Tandy – is the only one not shown “facing the music” because he objected to the morbidity of the concept.

ELOFTMFCover

ELO_FACE_THE_MUSIC back cover

Strange magic STRANGE MAGIC
oh, what a strange magic STRANGE MAGIC
oh, it’s a strange magic.
Got a strange magic.

With the follow up platinum selling A New World Record in 1976 and the multi-platinum. double-LP, Out Of The Blue, in 1977, Jeff and ELO had firmly cemented their rightful place in rock legend. In 1978, ELO booked 92 cities for the most extensive tour schedule ever at that time – dubbed The Big Night – which became the highest grossing rock tour in history, to date.

“Strange Magic” has always been one of my faves and, coming along well before their meteoric success, marked the way for their days ahead. Face The Music is, even today, in my car’s CD box and still in my own personal top rotation. So get ready for a little rock-n-roll magic. And, if you’ve got some good headphones, I recommend putting ’em on and cranking it up.

Enjoy the original here:

Sources for this post included:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_Light_Orchestra

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Face_the_Music_%28Electric_Light_Orchestra_album%29

 

 

 

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A Band Of Brothers

lost_sheep_pic

What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? ~ Luke 15:4

99
I’ve been waiting so long
Oh 99
Where did we go wrong
Oh 99
I love you

With the recent and untimely passing of yet another one of the famous Porcaro brothers – Mike this time – I felt compelled to feature a Toto song this month. I thought this song, in particular, might be a good one to share.

99
I keep breaking your heart
Oh 99
How can we be apart
Oh 99
I love you

Of all the parables in the Bible, those that feature the “Good Shepherd” theme are some of my favorites. And this one, with it’s message of unconditional love and concern is particularly touching. Isn’t this the perfect picture of agape love? That He would turn his back on the whole tribe just to find a single lost member? Does that not truly express the value that God places upon each and every one of us?

I never thought it would happen
I feel quite the same
I don’t want to hurt you anymore
I never knew it would work out
No one to blame
You know i love you 99

The Porcaro’s (Jeff, Mike and Steve) truly were a “band of brothers”. The three were sons of Joe Porcaro, himself an established LA studio percussionist who passed his musical talent and passion on to his three sons.

Jeff got his start as the drummer in Sonny & Cher’s touring band and went on to play with Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs, Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, Michael McDonald and dozens more before founding Toto in 1977 with his brother Steve, and buddies David Paich, Steve Luthaker and David Hungate. The third brother, Mike, joined the band in 1982, replacing David Hungate on bass after the recording of Toto IV was finished.

Unfortunately, Jeff passed away suddenly in 1992 after suffering from insecticide poisoning ingested from treating his lawn. There has been debate that the underlying cause for his death may have had something to do with drug use, but the family has maintained that was not the case.

99
You keep holding my hand
Oh 99
They don’t know who i am
Oh 99
I love you

Mike Porcaro was also an accomplished LA studio musician; a bass playing wizard touring with Boz Scaggs, Michael Franks, Larry Carlton, Seals & Crofts and Joe Walsh, among others.

And now we have another brother, Mike this time, leaving us way too soon. Mike was diagnosed with ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2007 and had to give up touring with the band at that time. Toto wound up disbanding in 2008. Mike finally passed quietly, in his sleep, at his home in LA on March 15th.

I never thought it would happen
I feel quite the same
I don’t want to hurt you anymore
I never knew it would work out
No one to blame
You know i love you 99

Which leaves us with Steve, the keyboard player and last survivor of this band of brothers. Steve always seemed to be more in the background, more of a composer and writer, and more closely fitting in as a “behind the scenes” studio player, albeit an extremely talented one. Steve was the composer for Michael Jackson’s hit “Human Nature” and wound up leaving Toto in 1986 to further pursue his writing and composing interests. He currently is deeply involved with writing film and television scores.

99
I can’t take it no more
Oh 99
Oh we were so sure
Oh 99
I love you

Pure is the word, I think, for Toto and much of their work. The lineup for the band has evolved continually throughout the years, but the Porcaro bloodline runs clearly through it.

So, take a minute to toast the musicianship on this classic cut and all the years of hard work – in studio and on the road – that forged this great band. Here’s to the memory of Jeff and Mike and cheers to the one brother who labors on…alone.

Listen to the original here:

Fantastic live version with the reunited brothers here: