Got To Pay Your Dues

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I can do all things through him who strengthens me.                          ~ Phillipians 4:13

It don’t come easy,
You know it don’t come easy.

No, it sure doesn’t.

And it seems like the older I get, the harder it becomes. No matter what the subject, nothing is easy. I thought things were supposed to ease up as you got older, but that doesn’t seem to be proving out, at least as far as I can see.

Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues,
And you know it don’t come easy.
You don’t have to shout or leap about,
You can even play them easy.

Yessir. you got to pay your dues, indeed. We all have to, but it’s the spirit in which we do so that counts. We can either carry our burdens cheerfully, or complain about them all the way to the end. I think Glenn Frey said it best when he sang “Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.” You just have to keep on keepin’ on.

Forget about the past and all your sorrows,
The future won’t last,
It will soon be over tomorrow.

Ringo Starr – born Richard Starkey – certainly has carried his burdens with a seemingly constant smile on his face. Ringo was always my favorite Beatle. Constantly shoved in the background and often maligned as a poor drummer; I always considered Ringo the “court jester”- and biggest personality – within the group.

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I don’t ask for much, I only want trust,
And you know it don’t come easy.
And this love of mine keeps growing all the time,
And you know it just ain’t easy.

Ringo overcame two life-threatening illnesses as a child, putting him behind in school and giving him the appearance of not being the smartest guy (it was said that at age 15 he could still barely read or write), but his open smile and warmhearted approach to life won people over.

Open up your heart, let’s come together,
Use a little love
And we will make it work out better.

“It Don’t Come Easy” was the first hit for Ringo’s post-Beatles, solo career, reaching #4 on the US and UK charts, later followed by #1’s “Photograph” and a great cover of Johnny Burnette’s 1960 hit “You’re Sixteen”. From 1970-73, Ringo actually had more solo success than any of the Beatles, charting seven straight Top 10 singles.

Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues,
And you know it don’t come easy.
You don’t have to shout or leap about,
You can even play them easy.

Ringo’s first solo album, Sentimental Journey, filled with covers of old standards like Cole Porter’s “Night And Day”, Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” and Johnny Mercer’s “Dream” was recorded in 1970 as a gift of appreciation to his mother. Paul McCartney, Quincy Jones and the Bee Gee’s Maurice Gibb (among others) contributed arrangements on the record. If you have never heard it, I highly recommend a listen.

His second solo album, Beaucoups of Blues, was a testament to his cowboy influenced roots and produced by some of Nashville’s finest, including Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana (Elvis Presley) and Pete Drake (Lynn Anderson, Tammy Wynette, Charlie Rich). It was moderately successful, reaching #65 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart

But it was Ringo’s third album, the self-titled Ringo, that truly turned the tide and made him a solo star. With the aforementioned top hits and contributions from all of the other ex-Beatles, as well as greats like Billy Preston, Jim Keltner, Tom Scott, Steve Cropper, Harry Nilsson and The Band’s Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm, it was bound to be a huge hit and ultimately went Platinum in sales.

Peace, remember peace is how we make it,
Here within your reach
If you’re big enough to take it.

A few interesting tidbits about Ringo include:

  • In the mid-’80s, Ringo provided the voice for the narrator and Mr. Conductor in the children’s TV series Thomas The Tank Engine.
  • Ringo was naturally left-handed, but played a right-handed drum set. His grandmother helped him become ambidextrous by teaching him how to write with his right hand as a schoolboy.
  • Growing up, Ringo watched at least three American Western movies every week. His childhood hero was Gene Autrey, “Oklahoma’s Yodeling Cowboy.”
  • On some Beatles’s tracks, it was Ringo’s idea to cover the tom-toms with dishcloths and blankets to produce the desired sound.
  • Ringo was the oldest Beatle.

I don’t ask for much, I only want your trust,
And you know it don’t come easy.
And this love of mine keeps growing all the time,
And you know it don’t come easy.

olderringo

Yup, Ringo was always the most unassuming of the Fab Four, though maybe one of the most well-rounded when you throw in his acting and dancing talents. It’s only fitting that Ringo was the last of the ex-Beatles to be inducted into the the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (earlier this year). And just as appropriately, the only other living ex-Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney himself, did Ringo’s induction speech.

Ringo keeps on keepin’ on; touring and singing both his, and his fellow Beatle’s songs, and “It Don’t Come Easy” will always remain among my favorites.

Listen to the original here:

McCartney’s induction speech for Ringo at the R&RHOF:

 

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Every Minute, Every Hour, Every Day

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This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. ~Psalm 118:24

I want a Sunday kind of love
A love to last past Saturday night
And I’d like to know
It’s more than love at first sight
And I want a Sunday kind of love
Oh yeah, yeah

Now I’m not exactly categorizing Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons as “classic rock”, but I think we can all agree that doo-wop influenced the heart and soul of many of the great rock artists to follow, including Billy Joel, Elton John, Steve Perry, Jon Bon Jovi and many, many more.

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And, after finally seeing the biopic, Jersey Boys, I just had to include at least one of their songs in UTRS. “Sherry” was the first song by Frankie and the boys that I can remember making an impact on my rock conscience, bursting off the speakers in 1962. Even as a young boy, I could tell this was something special, something very different from every other sound out there.

I want a love that’s on the square
Can’t seem to find somebody
Someone to care
And I’m on a lonely road
That leads to nowhere
I need a Sunday kind of love

With their huge catalog of hits – even though a lot of their early hits sounded a lot alike – spanning two decades, there were a lot of songs I could pick from, but after seeing the movie, their take on “Sunday Kind Of Love” really spoke to me.

I think many of us can identify with the kind of love that continues past the excitement of Friday or Saturday night dates and on into Sunday. I can remember moving past that first stage in relationships and it seemed like the Sundays spent together, maybe at a family gathering, a quiet walk and picnic in the park, or – heaven forbid – attending church together, always took things to a higher level of closeness. There was just something extra special about a Sunday date.

I do my Sunday dreaming, oh yeah
And all my Sunday scheming
Every minute, every hour, every day
Oh, I’m hoping to discover
A certain kind of lover
Who will show me the way

“Sunday Kind Of Love” was first released in November 1946 by the Claude Thornhill Orchestra and became the signature song for his lead singer, Fran (Frances) Warren. It has been covered dozens of times over since – most notably by the amazing Etta James – and it only seems fitting that one Francis Castelluchio would later choose the song for his new group, The Four Seasons.

And my arms need someone
Someone to enfold
To keep me warm when Mondays and Tuesdays grow cold
Love for all my life to have and to hold
Oh and I want a Sunday kind of love
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah

Yes, we all long for a love that lasts, one that’s permanent. Unfortunately, in this world, that kind of love can be very, very hard to find. But for a long stretch in the mid 60’s, there were a lot of folks out there falling in love to – and with – the songs penned by Bob Gaudio and sung in the one and only Frankie Valli’s falsetto. Between 1962-1975, Frankie and the boys from Jersey scored twenty-nine Top 40 hits including five #1’s (“Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Walk Like A Man”, “Rag Doll” and the cherry on top, 1975’s “December 1963 (Oh What A Night)”. And, just when you thought he was done, Frankie came back with a killer job on the Bee Gee’s penned title track for the blockbuster movie and stage play “Grease”.

I don’t want a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday
Or Thursday, Friday or Saturday
Oh nothing but Sunday, oh yeah
I want a Sunday Sunday
I want a Sunday kind of love, oh yeah
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday kind of love

If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend seeing Jersey Boys, which is largely fact based and reveals a lot about the group that most people – including their record label – didn’t know. Here’s just a few bits of interest from the film that are true to life:

  • Three of the band members had been in prison or jail, most notably Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. Tommy had been in 7-8 times.
  • They took the name “The Four Seasons” off a Union, New Jersey, bowling alley cocktail lounge sign.
  • Future movie star, Joe Pesci, who happened to be a close boyhood friend on Tommy DeVito’s actually introduced Bob Gaudio to the group.
  • The group really did get arrested in Ohio for skipping out on a $375 hotel bill. Check out Frankie’s mug shot below:

valli mugshot

So settle back and ready yourself for some classic doo-wop by one of the best of the genre. “Sunday Kind Of Love” wasn’t one of the groups bigger hits, but I’ve always held it as one of mine.

Check out the original here:

Great live version here:

Etta James version:

Sources for this post included:

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

History vs. Hollywood: http://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/jersey-boys/