Month: August 2014

Shining Down


Makin’ love in the green grass behind the stadium

vmSteve Kline Ages of Rock

August 31

Van-Morrison-Moondance1945: Was there ever a brighter mystical, transcendental star? Van Morrison is born in Belfast, the only child of George and Violet Morrison. His dad is a shipyard electrician and his mom a singer and tap dancer. Descended from the Ulster Scots who settled in Ireland, the elder Morrison has a massive record collection. Young Van grows up listening to the likes of  Jelly Roll Morton, Ray Charles, Lead Belly and Solomon Burke. He gets his first acoustic guitar when he is 11 years old, and by age 17 he is touring Europe with the Irish showband The Monarchs. With the band Them (named for the 1950s horror movie), Morrison is signed by Decca Records and records the classic Gloria, released as the B-side of  Baby, Please Don’t Go. Them also is responsible for the insistently powerful Here Comes the Night. Morrison comes to the full attention of  U.S. audiences with the 1967 release of his solo hit  Brown-Eyed Girl, which has the unforgettable (to forever-17-year-olds) lyric “Makin’ love in the green grass behind the stadium,” which is cleaned up to “Laughin’ and runnin’ in the green grass . . . ” for AM radio play. Morrison tours to this day, praise be to the Gods of  Rock. Here’s some sweetness to go with your morning coffee:

I started out on burgundy

Dylan61Steve Kline Ages of Rock

August 30

1965:  Columbia releases Dylan’s sixth studio album, Highway 61 Revisited, which has nine unbelievably great tracks. In his memoir Chronicles: Volume One, Dylan describes the kinship he feels with  the route that supplies the title of the album: “Highway 61, the main thoroughfare of the country blues, begins about where I began. I always felt like I’d started on it, always had been on it and could go anywhere, even down in to the deep Delta country. It was the same road, full of the same contradictions, the same one-horse towns, the same spiritual ancestors … It was my place in the universe, always felt like it was in my blood.” This LP has the greatest rock song ever written, Like a Rolling Stone; some of the sweetest keyboards you’ll ever hear on Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues; and classy classic blues tune It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry . . . and so much more.

My tears fell like rain

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

August 27

Fats Domino 11955: Fats Domino is atop the R&B chart with Ain’t That a Shame. Pat Boone will cover the song, which serves to make Fats even more popular. Boone likes to tell of the time he’s at a Domino concert. Fats invites him on stage, flashes a huge gold ring on his finger and says, “Pat Boone bought me this ring!” Fats performs this song in the 1956 film Shake, Rattle & Rock!. The song is heard in American Graffiti, and is used in the movies October Sky, L.A. Story, School Ties and Mischief.  Other cool covers are by John Lennon and Hank Williams, Jr.  With respect to both, they can’t touch Fats. Ain’t no shame in that.

Like a true nature’s child

Rock the Day Hippies and Wheels

August 25, 1968: Doomed to be overplayed, Born to Be Wild  by Steppenwolf peaks at #2 on the U.S. pop chart. It stalls out there behind People Got To Be Free by The Rascals. Written by Mars Bonfire (aka Dennis Edmonton, the brother of Steppenwolf drummer Jerry Edmonton),  Born to Be Wild  becomes the signature tune of the counterculture movie Easy Rider. Cinch up your headbands, straighten your beads and grab your Alice B. Toklas brownies — here in order are the #1 and #2 chart-toppers from this day in ’68:

And those ladies they rolled their eyes

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

August 23

Lou Reed 11970: Lou Reed quits The Velvet Underground. The band is nearly finished with what will be its final studio album, Loaded. They call it that because Atlantic Records is demanding an album “full of hits.” Reed is perturbed by changes made to three of his works — a verse left out of Sweet Jane, a line changed in New Age and an interlude removed from Rock & Roll. Changed or not, they’re all good. Hear for yourself: