Van Morrison – “Moondance” (1970)
Editor’s Note: Over the spring and summer we launched the PJ Lifestyle Music at Midnight feature, highlighting reader suggestions for great songs worth featuring. One contributor’s infectious enthusiasm and good nature won us over. He’s since expanded his music recommendations to a series of list-article-mix tapes. Now in this daily feature we’re going to start drawing from his lists (and growing an archive of them) to discuss the songs and artists included. Who should be included next? What ideas do you have for music or other culture or lifestyle ideas you’d like to see discussed at PJ Lifestyle? Get in touch DaveSwindlePJM AT gmail.com or @DaveSwindle on Twitter. Here’s Allston’s archive so far that will launch this feature, but he’s got more list-mix-tapes in the works:
Among musicians are the rare few who are known as “guitar masters,” those who take the instrument to an entirely new level, which is what I hope to highlight for you here – the best of the best. These picks are not ranked in any particular order; they are entirely subjective and simply for your aural pleasure.
1. Jimi Hendrix
It is only appropriate to open this series with Jimi Hendrix, rated as the greatest guitarist of all time by countless music authorities. One (largely unknown to most) secret to his guitar mastery is that he had freakishly long fingers and thumbs and was able to use them as if he had five fingers.
Here’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”:
Editor’s Note: See part I here in Amelia Hamilton’s series exploring the transformations in feminist history and ideology: The Relevant and the Ridiculous: A Guide Through Feminist History
The third wave of feminism got started in the 1990s as a reaction against the second wave fought by their mothers (both figuratively and, sometimes, literally). There were some central tenets at the heart of third-wave feminism, and they can be illustrated in contemporary music. Join me on a walk through ’90s music, and the ways in which these songs illustrate third-wave feminist ideals.
1. Third-wave feminism went beyond legal equality for women, but empowered women to fight for other social issues as well.
One key way in which third-wave feminism differed from earlier waves was that it wasn’t just about women. Take, for example, the Third Wave Direct Action Corporation, founded in 1992. One of the founders was Rebecca Walker, daughter of second-wave feminist Alice Walker. In 1997, the group became the Third Wave Foundation, and was not only dedicated to traditional women’s rights issues, but worked to “explicitly connect women’s issues to issues of race, sexuality, class, and ability.” This was bigger than simply legal equality for women.
Arrested Development’s “Mama’s Always on Stage” (1992)
Mama’s always on stage
Can’t be a revolution without women
Can’t be a revolution without children
Editor’s Note: PJ Lifestyle’s Commenter-In-Chief and classic rock guru Allston has been developing an extraordinary series chronicling the best songs by era. Get caught up on his previous installments: “Alternative 1980s: 15 More Songs Millennials Must Hear,” “15 Classic 1970s Songs Millennials Should Know,” “15 More Classic 1970s Songs for the Millennials,” “15 More 1970s Songs Showcasing the Decade’s Wide Range,” and “Your 15 Song Introduction to The New Wave Punk Sound That Ended the 1970s“
I have great memories of this period in time. It seemed you just could not turn on the radio without hearing yet another incredible song. “New Wave” was now mainstreamed, increasingly accepted as a valid “sound.” Yes, a lot of it was a bit cheesy, but some great tunes came out of this brief period of time.
I threw in this 1976 proto-Punk gem because, well, Joan Jett and Lita Ford. Do I require a better reason, I ask you?!
1. The Runaways – “Cherry Bomb” (1976)
Making fun of Al Gore, Michael Moore and Tom Friedman is getting stale.
Those liberal hypocrites are all so… ten years ago.
Luckily, veteran English fashion designer Vivienne Westwood has stepped into the breach, providing us with a brand new clueless, tone-deaf progressive do-gooder millionaire to make fun of.
Westwood first rose to fame in the 1970s, when she and then-husband Malcolm McLaren opened the King’s Road boutique Let It Rock.
Under various names — Sex, Seditionaries — the shop became one of two where British punk germinated, the other being Don Letts’ Acme Attractions.
Westwood created the rude, ripped, rubbery clothing forever associated with the movement, while McLaren tended the musical side, cobbling together a house band to publicize the store. (Hence the name Sex Pistols.)
As the group’s lead singer, Johnny Rotten (ne Lydon) recalled:
Malcolm and Vivienne were really a pair of shysters: they would sell anything to any trend that they could grab onto.
Fast forward to 2014, and imagine, say, Jimmy Swaggart getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom. That’s how weird it should be that Vivienne Westwood was named a Dame of the British Empire by the queen in 2006.
But no one seems to think it odd at all that “shyster” Westwood remains a powerful cultural force, having switched sides from pseudo-rebel to Establishment figure.
Or, to put it more accurately, for being both things at the same time.
PJ Media contributor David Solway, an award-winning Canadian poet and author, has revealed another side of his multiple talents. Solway the songster is now available on his new CD Blood Guitar and Other Tales (individual tracks available for download at CDBaby.com). It’s a stunning musical debut.
Blood Guitar offers thirteen gems with lyrics and music entirely created by Solway. Ably rendering his own compositions on voice and guitar, Solway is expertly backed up by Canadian musicians Ted Paull and Margaret Armstrong. I cannot too strongly recommend this musical stroll through essential issues of life.
In the extraordinarily poignant “So It Goes” Solway sings of “the silence in between the tick and tock….” Time is one of the main concerns of this set of songs. The other is love. How does one embark on new love when one has long been scarred by time and knows that it keeps “ticking in the heart” (“The Most of It”)? Taken together these songs are a vote in favor of love, of taking the leap of faith even if it means being “half-demented” (“Speaking Eyes”).
Editor’s Note: PJ Lifestyle’s Commenter-In-Chief and classic rock guru Allston has been developing an extraordinary series chronicling the best songs by era. Get caught up on his previous installments: “Alternative 1980s: 15 More Songs Millennials Must Hear,” “15 Classic 1970s Songs Millennials Should Know,” “15 More Classic 1970s Songs for the Millennials,” “15 More 1970s Songs Showcasing the Decade’s Wide Range.”
In prior articles, I’d noted that I did not include 1978 and 1979, as these are, in my estimation, very transitional years. In fact, this really all begins in about ’76 or ’77, but I didn’t want to truncate the 1970s list quite so early.
As usual, there is so much music to cover, it is impossible to do so in a single list, so a few more in this series will follow. If I didn’t post something you think is essential, it is very likely it will be featured in a future article. But, as always, suggestions are welcome.
Now there’s an anthem for you. We certainly thought so.
1. Ian Dury – “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” (1977)
I tried — and failed — to prevent Cat Stevens from getting in.
I cheered when KISS (finally) made the ballot, and won.
And here we are again:
Time to scream at each other about the latest nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Once again, you can vote on a pre-selected short list of nominees over at the Hall’s site — in between yelling “What???” “Who???” and “Wait: Isn’t he in there already?”
That short list is — brace yourself:
- Green Day
- Nine Inch Nails
- The Smiths
- Lou Reed
- Paul Butterfield Blues Band
- Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
- The Marvelettes
- The Spinners
- Stevie Ray Vaughan
- Bill Withers
We’ve been looking at the output of the Disney organization by decade, from the 1930s to the 40s, 50s, and 60s, and this week, we’re looking at the 1970s. Everyone who experienced that decade has an opinion about its culture, or lack thereof. From polyester leisure suits to Pet Rocks, the 70s were the decade of disposable culture (in spite of some true classics like The Godfather films and Star Wars). I consider myself more of a child of the 80s, since that’s when I came of age, but I remember my younger childhood in the 70s – especially a lot of the music – fondly.
Much of the culture of the decade reflects a certain escapism. From the disco kids partying their troubles away to the punk rockers flipping a middle finger at pretty much everything, to the banal pop of the mainstream, much of the music of the era plays on a desire to get away from the troubles of reality. Movies and television share a similar escapism – witness the endless disaster films and idiotic sitcoms of the day.
Each time I put one of these up it acts as a sampling of what you might’ve heard on any major radio station during that particular decade. Needless to say, the genres and songs will vary. I’m deliberately trying to not be too systematic about it, save by year. Although I may at some future date post some articles on the specific genres of this time – funk, southern rock, pop, etc. If any of you think that might be a fun idea, please let me know.
I suppose it would be fair to say that in songs such as this, early on, are the roots of progressive rock. Certainly this doesn’t fit the mold of end-’60s rock.
1. Genesis – “The Knife” (1970)
Once again, I have been forced – forced, do you hear? – to listen to hundreds of songs from my music collection, so as to pick out the best of the best for you. Woe is me. My music collection is vast (seriously, 13.5k songs and climbing). This is a huge chore. (If I have to tell you that I’m pulling your leg here…)
Back when, stations had a lot more room to fool around with their playlists and they generally did. In our time, it was not unusual to hear Eric Clapton followed by Henry Mancini, Gladys Knight and then Glen Campbell. So we didn’t actually have a genre, we had genres.
I saw them during the late ’70s in a huge, circus-like tent (along with The Grateful Dead). Just awesome, what a show.
1. Santana – “Evil Ways” (1970)
One of the hallmarks of great pop songs, recorded or live, are great harmony vocals. While non-melodic rap and death metal are often largely exempt from this artistry, just about all classic pop music is known for its harmonies, from Motown, country music and folk, to the Beach Boys and the Beatles. Even in hard rock, plenty of numbers by The Who and The Rolling Stones have great backing vocals behind the gruff bluesy belting of Roger Daltrey and Mick Jagger, respectively. Harmony vocals add polish to a recording or performance, and they add a subtle (sometimes not so subtle) ingratiating element to them as well: Hey, multiple people are singing along with the lead singer. Maybe I should join in and sing along as well, while listening at home, in the car, or in the audience!
In the past though, the solo performer who plays out in bars and coffeehouses armed with only his or her guitar, or the songwriter recording demos for his band in a spare room have historically been at a distinct disadvantage to a full ensemble until recent years. In 2007, the Canadian firm of TC-Helicon debuted their VoiceLive unit; currently, it’s on its third iteration. As one of those aforementioned persons recording demos on a digital audio workstation (DAW) in his den, I’ve been frustrated by the limitations of only having my (not so great) voice to work with, and have looked for ways to augment it electronically. So when I saw the demo of the VoiceLive 3 unit at Sweetwater, I knew I had to add it to my sonic arsenal:
Of course, what goes into the VoiceLive 3 will determine what comes out of it; it won’t turn you into Kate Bush or Steve Winwood overnight. But as the many demos of the VoiceLive 3 and previous VoiceLive units uploaded to YouTube by TC-Helicon attest, with a little practice, the units do a very good job of turning decent singers into one person choirs, and decent singers with lush harmonies behind them sound that much better.
Inside the VoiceLive3 is massive amount of sophisticated electronics to generate its harmonies, which it cues off of a guitar plugged into it, a MIDI-equipped keyboard, or a backing track from an iPod or other miniplug-equipped music player. Or the song’s key can be set manually, and the VoiceLive 3 will do its best to guess the harmonies. On the outside of the unit, the VoiceLive3 has a metal case and multiple footswitch buttons to trigger harmonies on and off, along with other functions such as delay, reverb, and doubling, plus a built-in guitar tuner. And there’s a rotating dial to sift through the units many presets. The rear of the unit contains multiple inputs and outputs including a combined XLR and ¼” mono input for the lead vocal, stereo XLR outputs, MIDI in- and outputs, guitar inputs and outputs, and a miniplug input designed to allow backing tracks to be played from an iPod. So it’s possible to use the VoiceLive 3 even if you don’t play an instrument.
I’ve written before about that phenomenon — does it have a name? — whereby a particular song takes on an added layer of poignancy after a performer dies.
For me, those songs include Boston’s “More than a Feeling” (after vocalist Brad Delp committed suicide in 2007) and any number of Joe Strummer’s solo tunes, particularly his version of “Redemption Song.”
I hope you know what I mean.
(And will add your own lists of such songs in the comments.)
While I’ve never been a big Fleetwood Mac fan, if I ever do hear their tune “Sara” again, I suspect it will have a similar effect on me:
Stevie Nicks is no stranger to rumors. She finally confirmed longstanding conjecture that she wrote one of her best-known songs partly about the child she conceived with Eagles frontman Don Henley, then aborted.
Henley said more than 20 years ago that the Fleetwood Mac song “Sara,” which hit number 7 on the Billboard charts in 1979, was about the baby they never saw. (…)
In a special interview with Billboard magazine on Friday, Nicks said their baby inspired many of the song’s lyrics.
“Had I married Don and had that baby, and had she been a girl, I would have named her Sara,” she said.
In a continuing series of musical highlights to help educate those younger and less well-musically informed, here is a small list of 1970s songs that, in my humble opinion, they absolutely must know. As always, this is far too brief a list and, of course, you may disagree with my picks. Suggestions are always welcome and I will fold them into future articles.
Marvelous, simply marvelous. We Moondanced the night away.
1. Van Morrison – “Moondance” (1970)
Recently, Susan L.M. Goldberg posted this aforementioned list. It is a good list, don’t get me wrong, but I politely disagree that these songs typify the sound and feeling of the 1980s generation, as it is only one narrow “slice” of them (and a very “top 40 Pop” one at that). So here is an alternate list of our music for the millennial. Disclaimer – I am a member of this ’80s musical age group, so I am biased in this. Sue me, I got’s nothing.
To correct a misnomer, many people of my age-group generally do not hear Bruce Springsteen and connect with him. He is, and always was, far too generic, raspy “Pop” Rock for our tastes, background noise in a sea of great tunes. Remember, a big part of the thrust of this genre was to stake out a musical claim that was different than our recent forebears, not just copy them.
If we wanted to listen to 80s “Rock” done our way, we’d probably listen to something like this. These guys are basic and generic, yes, but they were ours -
1. The Smithereens – “Only a Memory” (1986)
Check out Clay’s review of Kate Bush’s recent London concert here.
If Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” above intrigues, here are some capsule summaries of her 10 studio albums, from 1978 to 2011:
The Kick Inside – 1978
Her first and perhaps still her best, where her romantic inspirations were at their freshest and quirkiest, with songs she’d been writing for much of her young life. Besides “Wuthering Heights,” there’s “James and the Cold Gun,” perhaps the closest thing to hard rock. The rest is hauntingly melodic, heady and naive, capturing a moment when all of life still feels fresh as a daisy.
WKRP in Cincinnati was one of my favorite shows growing up, but it never got a proper VHS release, much less DVD or Blu-Ray. The reason was the music rights, and the popular music of the time was integral to the show. WKRP was shot on video, which at the time was the cheaper medium for acquiring music rights — but they also expired more quickly. The result was that in order to make the show available for sale to consumers, the producers would have to pay a lot of money to a lot of bands.
The result was butchered episodes using generic music instead of the real thing.
A new DVD box set popped up in my Amazon recommendations for pre-order not long ago, but the official description didn’t settle my only question: Would it have the original music?
On Oct. 28, Shout! Factory will release the first complete series-spanning WKRP DVD set, with its original soundtrack gloriously restored. (Orders through the Shout! Factory site get early delivery on Sept. 23.) The 13-disc set will include not only new bonus features (including a 2014 panel discussion with members of the cast and crew), but actual songs by a staggeringly broad range of artists including Captain Beefheart, Elvis Costello, the Rolling Stones, Luther Vandross, Ray Charles, the Sir Douglas Quintet, and Huey Lewis & the News. Somewhere in sitcom heaven Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap are exchanging cool ’70s-hipster handshakes.
All right my children. This is WKRP in Cincinnati with more music and Les Nessman.
AND ANOTHER THING: There’s no “Mary Ann or Ginger” debate between Jennifer and Bailey. It’s Bailey, all the way.
LONDON – Thirty-five years after her last concert appearance, Kate Bush is back live, and it’s like she never left the stage.
Bush rocketed to the top of the charts in 1978 with “Wuthering Heights,” a lush, love-it-or-hate-it, penned at the tender age of 18, based on Bush’s loose interpretation of the Emily Bronte novel — naive, heady romanticism in distilled form that only a teenage girl blessed with genius was capable of summoning.
The out-of-nowhere smash launched an eccentric, much-lauded career spanning 10 studio albums and inspiring unusual devotion among a fan base that treats her like a white witch. As the records stopped coming she came to be unfairly tabbed a recluse, which explains the shock and joy that accompanied her announcement of her current London shows.
There’s more fallout from the Ray Rice domestic violence incident and the turmoil it has caused for the NFL – CBS and Rihanna are splitting up.
The network said Tuesday it was permanently editing a song featuring Rihanna’s voice out of its Thursday night NFL telecasts – after the singer issued a profane Tweet about it.
CBS issued a statement saying that it was “moving in a different direction” with different theme music.
The song was one of a handful of elements CBS cut out of its inaugural Thursday night football telecast. At the time, CBS Sports president Sean McManus said Rihanna’s own history as a victim of domestic violence was one part of the decision but not the overriding one.
Had the NFL kept the song in rotation, they’d have been torn apart on Twitter and elsewhere for “bad optics.”
(There’s a “broken occipital bone” joke in there somewhere…)
The league is currently in full hair-shirting mode, pantomiming “outrage” and “concern.”
But of course, some will now scream that the NFL is “punishing the victim” by “silencing a battered woman’s voice” or something. (See below.)
You’ve seen Thriller and heard all about Madonna, but what do you really know about the decade that ushered in the millennial generation? Think the era of scrunchies, boom boxes, pump sneakers and DeLoreans was just a fad? Think again. Some of the 1990s’ greatest pop culture trends were birthed in the millieu of Reaganomics, cable television, and a music video-loaded MTV.
15. Culture Club – “Karma Chameleon”
The ’80s was the decade of John Waters, the B-52s and all things camp coming to fruition. Decked out in eyeliner, lipstick and braids, Boy George popularized the aesthetic of this gay subculture with a poppy little tune about conflicted relationships. As for the music video, where better to set a gay guy’s love song in the ’80s than an 1870s riverboat called the “Chameleon” where a cheating gambler’s karma comes back to haunt him? Dude, it’s the ’80s: “Don’t ask, don’t tell” started here.
13. She has discovered a close kinship with George Costanza.
Sure, she may come off all serious in her videos, but Lana Del Rey has a seriously good sense of humor. According to Rolling Stone, Lana Del Rey ”has a George Costanza-like plan for the future.”
“I’m really specific about why I’m doing something or writing something,” she says. “But it always kind of gets translated in the opposite fashion. I haven’t done it yet, but I’ve learned that everything I’m going to do is going to have the opposite reaction of what I meant. So I should do the opposite if I want a good reaction.” She’s surprised to learn that George tried this approach in an episode of Seinfeld. “Oh really? That’s awesome. Me and George Costanza! Oh my God!”
Traffic was formed in 1967 by musicians Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood and Dave Mason. All had been professionally performing already; Winwood in particular had just abruptly departed the highly successful Spencer Davis Group.
Right from the word “go,” Traffic was on the US and UK charts. Although of the three popular singles they first released (Mr Fantasy), their biggest hit wasn’t really anything like what you would think of by them. Most of the band members thought it was “silly” and not like the sound they envisioned at all. They loathed the tune, refusing to ever perform the song live; Dave Mason, who wrote it and was getting intense criticism over it, quit the band in January of 1968.
1. “Hole in my Shoe” (1967)
The adjective “iconic” is criminally overused, particularly by enthusiastic but historically illiterate youngsters.
However, for many old fogeys, the photograph above actually deserves that designation.
Just check out that badass Rasta, striding fearlessly, even casually, toward a line of (probably) white London cops.
He’s alone, but this is his neighborhood, not theirs, so why should he cower, despite the menace hovering in the air?
Surely something has exploded, gone horribly, fatally wrong — or is just about to — beyond the frozen boundaries of this picture, which seems to be holding its breath, like an enjambed line of poetry.
Although this photo was taken in 1976, it seems weirdly timeless, yet timely, especially in the wake of Ferguson.
And it is, except not for the reason one might expect.