A signal date for The Beatles. In 1962, they nail their first #1 hit in the U.K. with Please Please Me:
In 1963, they release I Want to Hold Your Hand:
In 1969, they release Come Together:
In 2001, George Harrison dies after a long battle with cancer.
Berry Gordy Jr., songwriter and founder of Motown Records, is born in Detroit. His father Berry Sr. and mother Bertha moved from Georgia to Detroit in 1922 because of the job opportunities in the booming auto industry. While his older siblings are becoming prominent Detroit citizens, Berry Jr. drops out of high school to become a boxer. He is drafted and serves in the Korean War. After his return from Korea, he marries and opens a record store, which is not successful. While seeking work in an auto plant, he makes the acquaintance of singer Jackie Wilson. Wilson records a number of songs co-written by Gordy, including the fabulous Lonely Teardrops:
Reinvesting profits from his songwriting success, Gordy founds Tamla and Motown Records, which in 1959 are merged into the Motown label. Gordy’s gift for identifying and bringing together musical talent, along with the careful management of his artists’ public image, makes Motown initially a major national and then international success. Over the next decade, he signs such artists as The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Jimmy Ruffin, The Contours, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The Commodores, The Velvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder and The Jackson 5. Here’s a Motown sampler for this Thanksgiving Day:
Johnny Allen Hendrix is born at 10:15 a.m. at Seattle’s King County Hospital. His mother is Lucille Jeter, 17. His father, James “Al” Hendrix, is in the U.S. Army, stationed in Camp Rucker, Alabama. When he is 4 years old, Dad changes the kid’s name to James Marshall. We will come to know him as Jimi Hendrix, a sparkling shooting star of a blues guitarist/vocalist. We will, of course, lose him all too soon. So many memories of him. Here is his powerful cover of Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower:
Ginger Baker on drums, Jack Bruce on vocals and Eric Clapton on guitar are pure Cream. They play the second of two farewell concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The Baker-Bruce-Clapton split is due to tensions that existed within the group from its start. Baker and Bruce are so intensely focused on their rivalry that they literally tune out everything else. Clapton will tell a story of how he once just stopped playing and neither one noticed. Clapton says members of the group simply do not listen to one another enough. In the Albert Hall farewell concert, you can sense that something is “off.” Here (with BBC documentary intro narrative) is the 1968 Cream farewell performance of Whiteroom:
The Band hangs it up in style. Along with Dylan, Young, Morrison and so many others, they hold The Last Waltz, a grand farewell concert at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. A film documentary, directed by Martin Scorsese, and three-record set of musical highlights follow. At the concert, Pops and Mavis Staples join The Band on The Weight. It moves something deep within me and brings tears to my eyes:
Hong Kong flu, carried with troops returning from Vietnam, is taking us down. Dick Nixon is the president-elect. And The Beatles release The Beatles, their highly anticipated ninth album. It is better known as the White Album because the two-record set is packaged in a white cover that has the group’s name embossed off to the right of center. The album’s inside packaging includes a poster, the lyrics to the songs, and a set of photographs taken by John Kelly during the autumn of 1968 that will themselves become iconic. This is the only sleeve of a Beatles studio album not to show the members of the band on the front. The flu pandemic shuts down college and university campuses across the nation, including my campus, Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. White Album tracks like Rocky Raccoon, Happiness is a Warm Gun, Dear Prudence, Back in the U.S.S.R., Why Don’t We Do It In The Road? become the soundtrack for those late November and early December days of 1968 — the year the flu canceled finals week. All those songs, yes, and Blackbird:
Watch water. Watch it close
as you would a star or edge of a knife.
Comes a moment when the droplet separates.
The moment you know
your pain will not harm you
is very much
— Steve Kline November 22, 2013
Copyright (c) 2013 Steve Kline
President John F. Kennedy is shot to death in Dallas, Texas. We’re still trying to figure who did it and why. I offer up three songs for your listening today as you meditate for a few moments on this sad anniversary. I have very specific reasons for selecting these songs. All of them are for you, my sisters and brothers who have been through these 50 years with me:
I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore, debut single by the Young Rascals, is released. They drop “Young” in 1967 and become The Rascals. They’re Jersey boys: Eddie Brigati (vocals), Felix Cavaliere (keyboard, vocals), Gene Cornish (guitar) and Dino Danelli (drums) started the band in Brigati and Danelli’s hometown of Garfield, New Jersey. The Rascals will have #1 hits with Good Lovin, Groovin and People Got to Be Free. The Rascals are a ground-breaking blue-eyed soul group and they perform to this day. With gap teeth, two tambourines and Prince Valiant hair (and cameo by comedian Alan King), here are Brigati and the Rascals when they were Young Rascals with that first single:
Gordon Lightfoot’s prayerful Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald hits #2 on U.S. charts.
The song is about the November 10, 1975 sinking in Lake Superior of the ore freighter Edmund Fitzgerald. She went down in a fierce winter storm about 17 miles from the entrance to Whitefish Bay near Sault St. Marie. Mighty Fitz took 29 souls, all aboard, with her.
Here is something for you to see and hear. Give thanks for your warm home, your good family and send up another prayer for Captain McSorley and his crew. May God bless them.