Got To Pay Your Dues

easy-button

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.

ringoyoung

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:

 

Every Minute, Every Hour, Every Day

events-calendar

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.

fourseasonsgroup

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/

No Stranger To The Street

streetlight_man

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. ~ Psalm 91:11

No, I’m no angel
No, I’m no stranger to the street
I’ve got my label
So I won’t crumble at your feet

Yup, we’ve all got a few skeletons in the closet. What was it that JC said? Let he among you who hath not sinned cast the first stone? Something like that. Seems nobody comes into a relationship squeaky clean anymore. And sometimes that’s a good thing.

And I know baby
So I’ve got scars upon my cheek
And I’m half crazy
Come on and love me baby

And you know those scars just give you character, anyway. Another saying – one I’m no longer so sure I totally agree with – is that which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I’ve noticed it’s usually those that are overly scarred that seem to cling tightest to that mindset. Yes, this life can definitely drive you a bit mad.

So you find me hard to handle
Well, I’m easier to hold
So you like my spurs that jingle
And I never leave you cold
So I might steal your diamonds
I’ll bring you back some gold, I’m no angel

And like Waylon once said “Ladies always love outlaws.”. Yes, the girls sure do seem to have an attraction for the boys with a bit of an edge to them. I guess the dark side has is own particular mystique. But like moths drawn to the flame, sometimes when you get too close, you may get burned.

No, I’m no angel
No, I’m no stranger to the dark
Let me rock your cradle
Let me start a fire with your spark

Gregg Allman is certainly no stranger to the dark side; true southern rock royalty with more than just a dash of “bad-boy” persona thrown in. I once had the pleasure of being backstage at an event that Capricorn Records was hosting and got a brief introduction; just a handshake and hello – no photo op, thank you – and he was one of those guys that just seemed to have that automatic “rock star cool” factor radiating around him at all times.

Oh, come on baby
Come and let me show you my tattoo
Let me drive you crazy
Come on and love me baby

Gregg’s “comeback” hit single “I’m No Angel” signaled the ending stretch of his roller coaster ride through the dark side of life during the early 1980’s. His four year marriage to Cher – one of five failed marriages – had ended in 1979 amidst his growing drug and alcohol problems, and his struggles seemed to carry forward throughout the first half of the decade. Gregg actually spent three days in jail for DUI just a few weeks before this single was released.

So you don’t give a darn about me
I never treat you bad
I won’t ever lift a hand to hurt you
And I’ll always leave you glad
So I might steal your diamonds
I’ll bring you back some gold, I’m no angel

But like the phoenix rising from the ashes, the success of “I’m No Angel” – it went to #49 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987 – and the new album seemed to spark a rebound that ultimately led to a reformation of The Allman Brothers Band  in 1989. It sure looked like southern boogie’s ultimate bad-boy was back!

No, I’m no angel
No, I’m no stranger to the dark
Let me rock your cradle
Let me start a fire in your heart

But, no matter what, the darkness seems to carry on throughout Gregg’s life, one way or another. First with the deaths of brother Duane and band mate Berry Oakley, then suffering through Hepatitis C and liver transplant surgery, and even more recently with the accidental deaths of several members of a film crew working on his autobiographical motion picture, Midnight Rider: The Gregg Allman Story.

Oh, come on baby
Come and let me show you my tattoo
Let me drive you crazy
Come on and love me baby

Yes, it can be enough to drive you crazy – if you let it. If there was something I could say to Gregg that might help him on his journey, it might be a reference to the Psalm verse above, along with a friendly reminder that God says that we’ll all be given trials in this life – but they won’t be more than we can bear.

Listen to the original here:

Source for this post included:

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

Songfacts: http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=853

 

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

 

 

 

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:

 

In Your Wildest Dreams

heart-of-stone

Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity. ~Proverbs 28:14

Cryin’ on the corner, waitin’ in the rain
I swear I’ll never, ever wait again
You gave me your word, but words for you are lies

Darlin’, in my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d go
But it’s time to let you know

Yup, life can really throw you some curve balls. Can’t resist a little baseball reference here – I’m a huge fan, spring training is in full swing and we’re just a couple of weeks away from the season openers. But I digress…

Yes life can be full of tough games, with love being the toughest of them all. And when it roughs you up enough, the temptation is to become a little jaded, a little cynical…a little hard-hearted.

I’m gonna harden my heart
I’m gonna swallow my tears
I’m gonna turn and leave you here

And though I can only speak for one side of the gender gap, it seems to me a trait most often worn by the fairer sex. Then again, I guess that’s because we menfolk are most often giving them reason to be. And it’s funny how the softest thing in the world – a woman’s heart – can somehow turn into the hardest stone you’ve ever seen.

All of my life, I’ve been waitin’ in the rain
I’ve been waitin’ for a feeling that never, ever came
It feels so close but always disappears

Darlin’, in your wildest dreams, you never had a clue
But it’s time you got the news

And when it does, it often seems like it comes out of nowhere, in the middle of the night. Gone with the wind…and a colder wind never blew.

You know, it’s funny but that’s how some folks are about Jesus, too. They can be the warmest, most caring folks in the world…but let the conversation turn to the King of Peace and you’ll surely find some hardened hearts out there.

And you gotta wonder why.

I’m gonna harden my heart
I’m gonna swallow my tears
I’m gonna turn and leave you here

It’s hard to say where the inspiration for Quarterflash’s only Top 10 hit “Harden My Heart” came from. It was written by Marv Ross, the guitar playing husband of Rindy Ross, the sax player and lead vocalist for the group.

And theirs was seemingly a fairytale story: they met while studying for teaching degrees at Western Oregon University. They fell in love while gigging for local Pacific northwest area bands and, after pursuing their teaching careers for three years, ultimately founded their own group – Seafood Mama – playing local dive bars between Portland and Seattle during the late ’70’s.

Darlin’, in my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d go
But it’s time to let you know

And I’m sure Marv and Rindy never thought that they would become huge stars – well at least one-hit wonders – when they changed their band’s name to Quarterflash and got signed with Geffen Records in 1981. But, it was the year MTV debuted and there was not a huge catalog of music videos available, so Quarterflash’s catchy tune with the “Pat Benatar/Raphael Ravenscroft” sounding sax player got heavy rotation. It would go on the reach #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and become a million selling, Gold certified single.

I’m a-gonna harden my heart
I’m gonna swallow my tears
I’m a-gonna harden my heart
I’m gonna swallow my tears
Harden my heart
I’m gonna swallow my tears
No, oh, oh, oh
Harden my heart
I’m gonna harden my heart
I’m gonna swallow my tears
I’m a-gonna harden my heart

A few interesting notes about Quarterflash:

  • The band’s name came from an Australian slang description for visiting Yanks as being “one quarter flash and three parts foolish”.
  • Marv and Rindy discovered the expression in a book they found at the house of their Geffen producer, John Boylan.
  • The group was actually formed by the merging of their group, Seafood Mama, along with another Portland area band, Pilot. They recorded a prior version of the song “Harden My Heart” and it was a regional hit in the area.

Quarterflash

Marv and Rindy have stuck together ever since, reforming Quarterflash in the early 2000’s and releasing two more albums, though neither has seen much commercial success.

I guess you could say the Ross’s have kept their hearts from becoming hardened and endured as a couple, both musically and romantically.

We should all strive to do likewise.

Enjoy the original here:

Sources for this post included:

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

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

Nothing In The Way

trafficlightpic

He has redeemed my soul from going to the pit, and my life shall see the light. ~ Job 33:28

I’ve wandered around with nothing more than time on my hands
I was lost in the night with no sight of you
And at times it was so blue and lonely
Heading for the light

As Joe Walsh said on the recent History Of The Eagles documentary, “As you live your life, it appears to be anarchy and chaos, and random events, non-related events, smashing into each other and causing this situation or that situation, and then, this happens, and it’s overwhelming, and it just looks like what in the world is going on. And later, when you look back at it, it looks like a finely crafted novel.”

And so it goes for most of us. We know we are always and forever searching; for what only heaven knows. And we don’t really know where we are heading. Or what we are going to be. But He does.

Been close to the edge, hanging by my fingernails
I’ve rolled and I’ve tumbled through the roses and the thorns
And I couldn’t see the sign that warned me, I’m
Heading for the light

And sometimes it surely does feel as if we are just barely hanging on. Perilously close to the abyss and the jagged, rocky bottom below. Straining so hard to keep from tumbling down, the sweat and blood can pour down into our eyes and obscure our vision. It’s so easy to lose your way in this world.

The only thing any of us can do is to “keep on keeping on”, as my old Pop used to say. Just keep on heading for the light.

Ooh – I didn’t see that big black cloud hanging over me
And when the rain came down I was nearly drowned
I didn’t know the mess I was in
My shoes are wearing out from walking down this same highway

I’m pretty sure that George Harrison didn’t really have a plan to put this stalwart group of seasoned pickers together into an actual band, but somewhere along the way the light came on. I know it did for me the first time I dropped the needle on The Traveling Wilbury’s debut album.

And just like the perfect hindsight Joe Walsh spoke of, at the end, it really did look – and sound – like a finely crafted novel.

I don’t see nothing new but I feel a lot of change
And I get the strangest feeling, as I’m
Heading for the light

Traveling-Wilburys-the-traveling-wilburys-5570335-640-425

As most everyone knows by now, The Traveling Wilbury’s (Tom Petty, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne) really came together almost purely by happenstance.

In 1987, George Harrison had pulled together a group of his “mates” (Orbison, Dylan and Lynne) to record a song to be used as the “B” side for the single “This Is Love” off his latest album, Cloud Nine. When the song they recorded, “Handle With Care”, was first submitted to Warner Brothers execs Mo Ostin and Lenny Waronker, both immediately knew it was far too good a song to be used as a throwaway “B” side. They urged George to run with it as the lead for a new album project. The rest, as they say, is – solid gold – history.

Ooh – my hands were tired
Jokers and fools on either side
But still I kept on till the worst had gone
Now I see the hole I was in
My shoes are wearing out from walking down this same highway

A few interesting tidbits about the Wilbury’s:

  • Tom Petty got involved purely by chance: George had left a guitar he needed for the recording session at Tom’s house and when he went to retrieve it, Petty decided to tag along to the session with him.
  • The name “Traveling Wilburys” came from a reference to some of Jeff and George’s recording errors while working on Cloud Nine. They said they would fix them by burying them in the final mixing. Thus “we’ll bury” them became “Wilbury”. George initially added “Trembling” to the name, but Jeff suggested “Traveling” instead and everyone liked that better.
  • They recorded two albums – Traveling Wilbury’s Vol. 1 and Traveling Wibury’s Vol. 3. George named them this way purposely as a sly acknowledgement of a well known bootleg that had been produced in between the two.

I see the sun ahead, I ain’t never looking back
All the dreams are coming true as I think of you
Now there’s nothing in the way to stop me
Heading for the light

Unfortunately, these two albums were all she wrote for the Wilbury’s. Roy Orbison died before the second album was completed in 1988 and George followed soon after in 2001. The band paid tribute to Roy in the video for the song “End Of The Line” by placing his guitar in a rocking chair and showing his photo.

Bob, Jeff and Tom are all still rocking and I have no doubts that both George and Roy definitely found their way at the end…with both of them surely heading for the light.

And the one that started it all:

Sources for this post include:

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

Traveling Wilburys website: http://www.travelingwilburys.com/

New Rocky Movie Announced. Rocky Fights Jesus?

I have not done this before, but after reading Pete Deakon’s post today I felt compelled to. I have often observed (with amazement) the inverse proportion that the traits of compassion and intelligence so often have within mankind (myself included).

And look for a new UTRS post coming soon to take this thought a little further!

Captain's Log

(This one’s long and experimental. If you don’t do anything, scroll to the bottom to watch a video I promise you’ll enjoy.)

It feels like I should be embarrassed to admit that as a kid I watched my family’s recorded-from-television Rocky III VHS so often that I broke it. To this day I can still picture my mom’s handwriting on the label. One day after thinking it finished rewinding, I pressed eject and discovered the tape had snapped. Why that movie was ever in our house is beyond me. We never watched it as a family. Maybe it was my dads. I do remember going to see Rocky IV in the theater, though I was very young. Come to think of it, a few years later on a Bunco night at our house my dad took my brother and I to see Rocky V at the dollar theater. Yep, I’m sure of it…

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In The Right Measure

manwithsword

Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword! ~ Matthew 10:34

Oh, I can’t take another heartache
Though you say you’re my friend, I’m at my wits end
You say your love is bona fide
But that don’t coincide with the things that you do
And when I ask you to be nice, you say
Maybe it should be said that conflict, not absence, makes the heart grow fonder. There’s just something about the drama that often ensues from conflict in a relationship, that warms – more like heats – the heart. There’s nothing like a good spirited spat to get the blood racing. Yeah, a little gunpowder thrown in the fire can be a good thing.
You gotta be
Cruel to be kind in the right measure
Cruel to be kind it’s a very good sign
Cruel to be kind means that I love you
Baby, you gotta be cruel to be kind
I’ve never been one of those who needed such stimuli to keep relationships strong; quite the contrary, I prefer the placid pond. Though I know there’s plenty out there who would disagree on this with a resounding jeer – how boring!
I do my best to understand, dear
But you still mystify and I want to know why
I pick myself up off the ground
To have you knock me back down again and again
And when I ask you to explain, well, you say
And what would Jesus say about such foibles? Interestingly enough, the Prince of Peace says that when we next see Him, He will be swinging a sword. And this time it won’t just be tables at the Temple getting knocked over. There will be all kinds of destruction and division, even among family member and close relationships.

You’ve gotta be cruel to be kind in the right measure
Cruel to be kind, it’s a very good sign
Cruel to be kind means that I love you, baby
(You’ve gotta be cruel)
You’ve gotta be cruel to be kind
“Cruel To Be Kind” has always been one of my favorites from the self proclaimed “Jesus of Cool”, Nick Lowe. It was his highest charting single in the U.S., reaching #12 on the Billboard charts in 1979. Interestingly enough, it reached #12 on the U.K, Australian and Canadian charts, as well.
Here’s a few interesting notes about the song:
  • “Cruel To Be Kind” was one of 206 videos that were played on MTV’s very first day of broadcasting, August 1, 1981
  • The video re-enacts his wedding with Carlene Carter (June’s daughter) and also features Rockpile bandmate, Dave Edmunds, as the limo driver.
  • The song was originally written for Nick’s earlier band, Brinsley Schwarz, but never got released
  • It also appeared – in a different, slower version – as the B side to the single “Little Hitler”
 Well, I do my best to understand, dear
But you still mystify
And I want to know why
I pick myself up off the ground
To have you knock me back down
Again and again
And when I ask you to explain, you say
Nick was no stranger to conflict and chaos himself; he earned his nickname “Basher” due to his unique style in the recording studio, both as producer and performer. He was known to urge his bands to just “Bash it out…we’ll tart it up later” to get the raw, rough sound that his record label, Stiff Records, became so well known for.
So, if you are one of those who prefers a dash of drama to liven your day and a few tears mixed with your laughter, or if you prefer a more peaceful union, either way, the Basher is sure to get your blood flowing with this one every time.
Enjoy the original here

Source for this post included:

You Turn And Run

runningaway

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? ~ Psalm 139:7

We hear you’re leaving, that’s OK
I thought our little wild time had just begun
I guess you kind of scared yourself, you turn and run
But if you have a change of heart

Running away. Where and when does it begin? As soon as one acquires the ability, I suppose. And we’re all running from something. Everyone has those skeletons in the closet. Don’t we?

Rikki don’t lose that number
You don’t wanna call nobody else
Send it off in a letter to yourself
Rikki don’t lose that number
It’s the only one you own
You might use it if you feel better
When you get home

But there is one that we can’t run from. No matter how hard we try. Well, two actually; we can’t run from ourselves, either. No sir, no way, no how. We try but we just can’t do it.  As Robert Palmer once sang “You might as well face it…”. But the good news is, there’s no reason to run, no real reason to hide. Because, at the end of it all, there will only be one to answer to. And he loves us most of all. And will be with us till the end of the age.

I have a friend in town, he’s heard your name
We can go out driving on Slow Hand Row
We could stay inside and play games, I don’t know
And you could have a change of heart

In a Rolling Stone interview in 2013, Donald Fagen said, “Walter and I aren’t fond of ‘Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.’ It’s not a bad song. I think it’s well-written, but it’s just so simple. I just have listening fatigue. It’s been played so much.”

As it turns out, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” would become Steely Dan’s highest charting single of all time, reaching #4 on the Billboard charts in 1974.

You tell yourself you’re not my kind
But you don’t even know your mind
And you could have a change of heart

The greatness of Steely Dan was not just in the ability of the band’s masterminds, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, to craft such perfect jazz/rock/pop/funk sounds and lyrics together, but in their ability to assemble a seemingly endless revolving cast  of the finest studio musicians in the world to make them come to life.

A review of the liner notes on any Steely Dan album might include such stellar players as: Larry Carlton, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Michael McDonald, Jeff Porcaro, David Paich, Lee Ritenour, Chuck Rainey, Michael Omartion, and so many more that it’s hard to list them all here.  Needless to say, when I became a Steely Dan fan was when I learned to read album liner notes to see who was playing on an album. Once you knew who the quality players were, you could pick a hit record without ever listening to it. If you saw those names listed, no matter whose album it was, you knew it would be good.

A few interesting notes about Steely Dan:

  • Becker and Fagen were obsessed with perfection in sound. They would routinely use over 40 takes in a studio on any given track. For the album Gaucho (which only had 7 songs), they used 40 different studio musicians and 11 different engineers.
  • One of their early groups, The Leather Canary, featured Chevy Chase on drums.
  • Becker and Fagen were in the touring band for Jay and The Americans (“This Magic Moment”, “Cara Mia”), featuring the legendary Jay Black, for over a year, getting $100 per show. Early in the tour, the band’s manager cut their salary in half.
  • Early in their career’s, Walter Becker didn’t feel his vocals were good enough for commercial acceptance and Donald Fagen suffered from stage fright, so they hired ABC Records journeyman, David Palmer, to sing lead.

Becker and Fagen, it seemed, were continually trying to run away from success (and their own fears), but eventually overcame them. They have sold over 40 million records and were inducted into the Rock an Roll Hall Of Fame in 2001.

I guess it just proves the point: you can run, but you just can’t hide.

And to my buddy, David Sanders, this one’s for you.

Listen to the magic of Steely Dan (just as it sounded in ’74) here:

My sources for this post included:

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

Songfacts.com: http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=3204