Month: February 2014

He’s looking for that home and I hope he finds it

Rock the Day Pearl Hits #1

Janis Joplin’s final studio album, Pearl, hits #1 on the Billboard 200 chart on February 27, 1971. It will hold the top spot for nine weeks. The posthumously released album includes Me & Bobby McGee, written by Kris Kristofferson. Here’s a riveting rare recording of Janis’ first take of this song during a Pearl session. Raw, unedited, unadorned and unpolished, without the percussion or piano you hear on the album, it’s just Janis’ guitar and her incredible voice:

You got someone to blame

Rock the Day Fats, Mitch and CASH Share a Birthday

Antoine “Fats” Domino Jr. is born in New Orleans on February 26, 1928. One of nine children, he learns the fundamentals of music from his brother-in-law, Harrison Verret. Fats speaks Creole before he learns English. His 1949 The Fat Man is the first rock ‘n’ roll single to sell a million copies:

February 26, 1932, up the road in Kingsland, Arkansas, Johnny Cash is born. He grows up dirt poor, serves his country in the Air Force, and is destined to become one of the “Million Dollar Quartet” who explode out of the tiny Memphis Sun Records studio of the legendary Sam Phillips. (The other three are Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley, but I hope to God I didn’t have to tell you that). Like all of us, he is flawed. “Johnny Cash never walked no line,” his good friend Waylon Jennings would say. Cash moves on in 2003, but the Man in Black is still up front. His latest studio LP Out Among the Stars will be released on March 25, 2014. You know the standards, but some of Cash’s greatest work comes late in his life. Something about this cover of Bono’s One will not let me go:

And listen to this while you look into his eyes. You will know what I mean:

Then on February 26, 1945, Mitch Ryder of Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels is born in Hamtramck, Michigan. Here’s Mitch in 1966.

 

 

Victory at Greasy Grass

There is what happened, which brings you pain,

and there is the lie.

I will tell you about the lie, wasichu.

Long Hair brought little boys

against the People. This was no fight.

How can you fight

when you have not learned your death song?

How can you fight when

you do not know pain will not harm you?

By the cold water fat with snowmelt

we watched them, over there

in Medicine Tail Coulee.

I have heard

about this thing

you call

a stand.

There is that lie. And then there is this:

Long Hair is dead even

before the women spot him.

But he does not know that

so he comes on.

Steve Kline | February 25, 2014

Copyright © 2014 Steve Kline

Been stuck in airports, terrorized / Sent to meetings, hypnotized

Rock the Day George Harrison

It is February 25, 1943, and George Harrison, youngest of Harold Hargeaves and Louise Harrison’s four children, is born in Liverpool. Nothing makes George happier than music and making music, and his parents are 100 percent supportive. When he is 13, his father buys him a guitar. What a great Dad. Although Lennon and McCartney are known as the chief songwriters among The Beatles, Harrison-penned tunes are among some of the greatest: While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Here Comes the Sun and Something among them. When The Beatles break up, George embarks on a hugely successful solo career. A high point is the 1970 release of his Phil Spector-produced epic All Things Must Pass album. Harrison is the first rocker to produce music specifically for philanthropy when in 1971 he gives us Bangladesh and The Concert for Bangladesh. Harrison makes 1988 a happy year when he forms The Traveling Wilburys with Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan. They produce only two LPs, and it is George’s idea to call the second one Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3. “Let’s confuse the buggers,” he says. Cancer will take Harrison from us in November 2001, when he is just 58 years old. Who knows what wonderful music he might have given us had he not died so young?

In 1970, I cannot get into the store fast enough to buy All Things Must Pass, in part because it contains this:

In 1971, I wear out the vinyl on Concert for Bangladesh playing this:

In 1988, I can’t stop listening to the Wilburys, in part because of this:

RIP, George Harrison.

I’m gonna tell ya how it’s gonna be

Rock the Day Cool Covers

February 21, 1964. While Beatlemania sweeps the U.S., the Rolling Stones crack the Top 10 for the first time in the U.K. with their cover of Buddy Holly’s Not Fade Away.  Let’s get this Friday rolling with the Stones’ version, followed by the original, and then a cover by Stevie Nicks. See those girls screaming with delight over Mick and his mates? That’s pretty much me watching Stevie Nicks.

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous

Rock the Day Remembering Cobain

Kurt Cobain is born on February 20, 1967 in Aberdeen, Washington. Founder and frontman of the grunge-rock band Nirvana, he is among artists who bring the Seattle rock scene to worldwide prominence in the latter part of the 20th century. Cobain is afflicted: He carries the pain of his parents’ split when he is barely 7 years old, and addiction will kill him as it has so many others when he is 27. He leaves behind Courtney Love and their daughter Frances. His suicide note says his daughter’s life will be better with him gone. So many suicides say such incredibly wrong sad things. This morning I imagine Kurt stumbling around in his pain. Breaks my heart. To you, Kurt:

A taste of honey is worse than none at all

Rock the Day A Creative Miracle

February 19, 1940: A miracle in Detroit — Smokey Robinson is born on the north side. His next-door neighbor is Diana Ross. As a teen, Robinson is an above-average student, a bit of an athlete and a fabulously talented musician. In high school he forms a doo-wop group called The Five Chimes, which evolves into The Miracles. Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records, is deeply impressed with Smokey’s silken voice, his ambitious song-writing and skill as a producer. Between 1962 and 1966, Robinson pens hit singles such as “Two Lovers“, “The One Who Really Loves You“, “You Beat Me to the Punch” and “My Guy” for Mary Wells, “The Way You Do The Things You Do“, “My Girl“, “Since I Lost My Baby” and “Get Ready” for The Temptations, “When I’m Gone” and “Operator” for Brenda Holloway, “Don’t Mess With Bill“, “The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game” and “My Baby Must Be a Magician” for The Marvelettes and “I’ll Be Doggone” and “Ain’t That Peculiar” for Marvin Gaye. As frontman, main songwriter and producer, Robinson gives The Miracles a long list of top 10 hits.  Smokey goes on to a solo career that continues to this day. Birthday greetings to you, Mr.  Robinson, and special thanks for a couple of my favorite songs: