Category Archives: Marc’s Playlist – Music That Moves Me

Hearing A Song With New Ears

Have you ever had that moment in life when you suddenly start seeing patterns or when similar or maybe even identical things start happening, seemingly all of a sudden and out of nowhere?

Yes, this is awareness, or self-awareness, or being more present, but if something doesn’t have meaning for us, we are not going to notice it, even if we are highly conscious of what is around us.
(Denis Cherim)

Case in point: I made a conscious decision a few years back to diligently follow the English Premiere League, and picked Tottenham Hotspurs as my team (thanks, Eric and Julian). Up until then I had never heard of Tottenham and soccer was a passing interest. I would be obsessed during the World Cup and then lose interest. I played when I was a kid, though if you ask my parents, all I did was stand on the field and play with my cup. Those things were NOT comfortable! Apparently I spent the entire game as a defender, looking at the crowd and the sky… and… adjusting myself! And then only showing interest and going into action when the ball came to me. Doh.

I am so NOT an athlete.

Anyway… the moment I was fully on board with Spurs, amazing connections started happening.  I was in Davids Tea in The Village and when I heard the London accent of the woman behind the counter, I asked her which team she supports… Yes, I was starting to be hip to the soccer lingo. She, of course, said Tottenham and was FROM Tottenham!

A day or so later I am on the FREEWAY… so thousands of cars, literally… and I see a jeep with a (you got it) TOTTENHAM bumper sticker. Then I’m at a party, and the bartender has a London accent. So I ask the same question… He says, without a beat or shock from me, “Spurs!”

Now… were those things always there and I just was not paying attention to them? Yes, of course. It did not mean anything in those previous moments. But as soon as I did become aware… BOOM! There they all were. Their motto is also an important one for me, so there is that!This is known as the “Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, otherwise known as frequency illusion or recency illusion. This phenomenon occurs when the thing you’ve just noticed, experienced or been told about suddenly crops up constantly. It gives you the feeling that out of nowhere, pretty much everyone and their cousin are talking about the subject — or that it is swiftly surrounding you. And you’re not crazy; you are totally seeing it more. But the thing is, of course, that’s because you’re noticing it more.”

“A couple of things happen when the Baader-Meinhof (pronounced badder mainhoff) phenomenon kicks in. One, your brain seems to be excited by the fact that you’ve learned something new, and selective attention occurs.”
(Kate Kershner on Sceince.HowStuffWorks.com)

Awareness is an amazing thing. We all THINK we are aware, but how much of the time are we just moving through life, living in our own head and missing so much that is in front of us?

The Buddhist’s call it “Satori,”which means sudden enlightenment. Others may call it an “epiphany” or “awareness” or “self-awareness.” The hip term is “Mindfulness,”which of course has been around forever. The pointis that we need to be open to all possibilities, to take the lessons that are almost always presented to us, and may have actually been sitting in front of us this whole time, and actually see them and learn from them.

For me, it is the realization that there are no coincidences… that things come to us precisely when we need them to. And forgive the long path that it took to get to this point, but this absolutely has to do with music and songs.Venice, a band I know and love has an amazing tune called “Bad Timing Song.”  I have heard it many times, but it came on random play yesterday and literally stopped me in my tracks… the lyrics hit me in a way they had never had before.

YES, I was going through a breakup… and YES, clearly I need to hear this message… but wow… just wow!!! I really… and I mean REALLY heard the lyrics, as if for the first time.

They have always been there… I have sung along to them… but clearly, given what I am going through and where I am at, they took on a new, personal and POWERFUL meaning.

“How many times have I dreamt of this scene
You coming back and you’re crying for me
Saying my name and wondering what went wrong

But I’m different now
And whatever I felt is gone
No love or revenge
Just another bad timing song.”

What is perhaps even CRAZIER is that they JUST DROPPED a new album… and there is a song on there that is even closer to where I am at in life. I was floored. You MUST check out Jacaranda Street!!! I know I guffaw, but I cannot tell you how good these guys are and how much I love this band… and these two connections have made that love even stronger!!!

“Stepping On That Bridge”

Again… the guys went in my brain and heart… knew what I was thinking and feeling… and then wrote a song about me! LOL.

And you think we are not ALL CONNECTED???!!!

The whole song is me… but here are some of the highlighted lyrics…

Verse 1:
“I don’t do well with change
I don’t do well without change as well
I’m on the branch, I’m on the limb
Time for me to sink or swim.”

Verse 2:
“I don’t do well with her
I don’t do well without her as well
I’m on the lam, I’m on the brink
Time for me to swim or sink
Time for me to swim or sink.”

Chorus:
“Whoa though it goes against my nature
Whoa gotta take a leap of faith
Whoa though I don’t know where it leads me
I’m stepping on that bridge anyway.”

So here is the lesson… be open to everything. Literally tell yourself, “I am open to the opportunity of __________.” (Thanks, Wally!!!)

Walk through the world with all of your senses wide open, and everything you need, will come to you… because everything you need is already there… and everything you need is ALREADY INSIDE OF YOU!!!

Be open to it ALL. Return to yourself, my friends. Be open to change. Take that leap of faith. Step on that bridge. Magical and meaningful and significant and powerful new tunes will come to you… and you will hear “old songs” with new ears.

 

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A Song A Day – Week One Recap

Day 1 – A Song A Day Keeps The Doctor Away
First Day of A Song A Day Keeps The Doctor Away!

Come on, did you expect something OTHER than Bruce?

“Growin’ Up” – Bruce Springsteen

Favorite lyric: “When they said sit down I stood up.”

On its face, a history of youth and childhood, but it goes much deeper and is, of course, an anthem of rebelliousness and exploration. Not just one of my favorite Bruce songs, but one of my favorite songs of all time.

Here are two versions:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMyQjl59wkw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xY3q45EBt8 Day 2 – Two For Tuesday

“Rosalita” by Bruce Springsteen

No, this will not be a year of Bruce songs… And I did say more Bruce is coming… But this one is a celebration of joy, pure and simple… on the value of this song alone, but also every time I see it played live.

“It is proof of life,” to quote Bruce.

This is always in my Top 3 Bruce songs, though it may shift in placement depending on my mood and what I need. You’ll get my last of the three later on down the line, and a nice story to go along with it, which gives the song even more relevance. In the meantime, turn this one up and let Rock n’ Roll soothe your weary soul.

Favorite lyric:

“And your papa says he knows that I don’t have any money
Oh, your papa says he knows that I don’t have any money
Oh, so your daddy says he knows that I don’t have any money
Well, tell him this is his last chance to get his daughter in a fine romance
Because a record company, Rosie, just gave me a big advance.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYHGh6lmSbo

“Don’t Stop Me Now” – By Queen

This one goes out to my cousin, Lori. Always one of my favorite Queen songs and it’s gotten a lot of recent attention from Bohemian Rhapsodyand some commercial. But I love the way it is used in Shaun Of The Dead, one of my favorite movies! I miss Freddie.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgzGwKwLmgM

Favorite lyrics:
I’m a shooting star, leaping through the sky
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity
I’m a racing car, passing by like Lady Godiva
I’m gonna go, go, go
There’s no stopping me

I’m burnin’ through the sky, yeah
Two hundred degrees
That’s why they call me Mister Fahrenheit
I’m traveling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

Day 3 – “This Gift” by Glen Hansard

Today I am going with this powerful and stunning song that has gotten me through many things with its amazing message of hope. This song has made me cry and has made me strong.

This is one of those perfect songs, and every word and lyric has powerful resonance, but if I had to pick my favorite part, it is:

“Don’t hang your head in sorrow
Don’t give up just before you win
Don’t wait around for tomorrow
Open up your arms and let it in.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpL6qq9ElwA

While the video quality on this second one is not as great, this version with his niece is also amazing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgQXuU8U8Vk

Day 4 – “Ghost Of A Chance” – By Rush

I will admit I am trying to plan a few days ahead to keep myself sane. But then something happens… like a song keeps coming up when my phone is in Shuffle mode. I mean that must be a sign, right? So I’m calling an audible… literally.

Neil Peartis one of my all-time favorite lyricists, and these are slightly skeptical, almost pessimistic, yet there is a small glimmer of hope… which pretty much describes where I am at right now in life. I think there is nothing wrong going through life with HEALTHY skepticism, as long as there is a stronger optimism to offset it. We all need hope. We don’t want to be pessimists, we want to be optimists, but we do need to look at things in a real and practical way. This song does that.

“I don’t believe in the stars or the planets
Or angels watching from above

(Actually, I do usually believe that, or used to… but not right now…)But I believe there’s a ghost of a chance
We can find someone to love
And make it last.”

Album Version:

Amazing Live Version:

Day 5 – “Waiting For My Real Life To Begin” by Colin Hay (and Thom Mooney)

Men At Workwas a pivotal band for me. One of my fondest memories was blasting the album Business As Usualin the cafeteria at Glen Rock High School as we prepared for a Nights Of Drama performance. They were one of our go to bands to pump us up and get us ready for the show. I will never forget the utter joy we all felt singing at the top of our lungs and dancing with reckless abandon… and if you have ever seen me dance, you know reckless abandon is one of my best moves.

So yes, I will be paying some MAW… but in the meantime, Colin Hay as a solo artist is astounding. The man can stand on stage with nothing but his voice and a guitar and absolutely mesmerize. His solo singer/songwriter renditions of Men At Work tunes are stunning… and songs like this are profound and beautiful.

I am a victim, as are many artists, of putting life on hold for an elusive dream. But real life is lived in the here and now. We must not kill the dream, but we must fully live real life now.

“And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart, let the light shine in
Don’t you understand
I already have a plan
I’m waiting for my real life to begin.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvukKx68_yMDay 6 – “Follow The Light” By Travis

I know… I know… these songs are supposed to inspire… but sometimes sitting with a little sadness will bring us joy and light… and yes, INSPIRE!!! And I can only be where I am in the here and now…

But speaking of light! LOL… This one does a bit of both.

This amazing song by the stunning Scottish band Travis says it all and says so much… and yes, it also came on in my Shuffle mode… Granted, I am hitting hard a 139-song playlist I created whose name I will keep private for now… though it may become obvious to some…

The good news for all of you is that I also created another playlist as my remedy to this one, and it is filled with shiny, happy people songs… Why yes, that song WILL be on the list.

I’m not sure how Travis went into my brain, grabbed these lyrics and went back in time to record this in 1999, but wow!

“Me I’m on the longest road
Where everything’s overload
But I’ve got my heart and soul
So don’t throw me overboard
Cause it’s alright
Just follow the light
And don’t be afraid of the dark.”

And yes, there will be a certain song (or two) of theirs from 1999 that will be played soon. Can you guess which one it is?

Enjoy your weekend my friends.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLKYfJNaxrk

Day 7 – “Directions” by Nahko And Medicine For The People

Seems like a perfect Sunday song! An example of how something simple can be so unbelievably powerful. And seeing this live is even more the case.

The song, and the band for that matter, is a tribute to tradition, a tribute to family and the realization that our ancestors were not only wise, but will guide us if we ask for it… pray for it. When they are here, and sadly, even when they are not.

30 words repeated… and that is it! POWERFUL.

And the exclamation of “Hoka!” which I believe means TO FLY! Wow.

And so as I look out in every direction, I also pray and ask for guidance. From G-d and also from my family who came before me…

“Grandfather I’m calling on you
Need your guidance now
Grandmother I’m calling on you
Need your guidance now.”

“HOKA!”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLIgI3vBHwA

 

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A Song A Day Keeps The Doctor Away – Day 1

One year ago today I embarked on an adventure of sorts. In an attempt to stop the vitriol on Facebook, including that which came about because of my own political posts and rants, I decided I would present the positive in the form of one uplifting and inspiring quote a day. Of course, honoring the classic rock radio format of Two For Tuesday, I provided TWO quotes on Tuesdays.

The response was overwhelming, and while publicly people expressed their connections to the quotes, privately people reached out to me to tell me how much the quotes meant in much deeper terms. I was blown away… sometimes brought to tears with people’s amazingly open and powerful revelations.

Words… words… words…The right words can save a soul and save a life.

The right words can start (or end) a romance.

Choose your words carefully, for they are truly mightier than the sword.

They say (yes the famous and ubiquitous “they”): “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

I say: “A word is worth a million pictures.”All I need to do is mention the word “dog”and our brains go to our own beloved pets, an amazing time and place, or perhaps a bad experience we had. Either way, each and every one of us suddenly has a slide show or movie playing on our minds… a different film for each of us, all because of ONE WORD!

Power.

I often question my own self-value and worth and whether or not the sharing of words has any significance, whether they are my own or someone else’s. They do. Words have immense power. Which is why, not to get political here, we cannot and must not ever dismiss them.

We are taught that there are three expressions of ideas… thoughts, words and actions. They all matter greatly. None must be taken lightly. We will all have good and bad thoughts, but the key is how we speak them and put them into action… or not. Sometimes we must push thoughts aside, for our own safety and comfort, as well as for the norms of society and behavior. But to realize how connected we are to not only words and ideas, but to each other is a powerful thing.

We ARE all the same in the simplest terms. We want to love and be loved. We want to be safe and know that expressing our truth will be respected and not punished.

Sometimes we don’t realize the power in a simple act, but when it is done with good intentions it can be felt across the globe. This is why we must ALWAYS act with kindness and do the right thing. It may seem like nothing, but that is only because we might not be able to see the positive impacts with our own eyes. When we act with KINDNESS and ALWAYS DO THE RIGHT THING, the universe will literally change.
A song has that power. What is amazing about a piece of music, is that it changes with us. A song that once lifted and inspired us, can suddenly become one of heartbreak and loss, a bitter reminder of a time that was. And a song that once was the soundtrack to a breakup, can just as suddenly become a song of celebration and freedom.

People hear different things in the same song, and yet we are bonded by a singular tune. It may not mean the same to me as it does to the person next to me, but there we are, dancing in a darkened room together while our favorite band is on stage. And then again, the song may mean almost exactly the same.

Music brings us together. And a song… or songs… create the very soundtrack to our lives.

As I deal with a breakup, I created a 138-song playlist to get me through. I just need to be careful that is not keeping me in sadness, though we all need that period of time to mourn, and sometimes sitting with sadness is a good thing, as long as we truly learn the lessons we need to learn in order to get stronger and move on. Though I have vowed to turn to happy songs after my period of mourning.

I’ll try not to throw out too many of them as we begin this journey, but if I am posting a heartbreak tune, you’ll know why. I will be posting a song every day on FB and for my own sanity, I will do a weekly recap here… Maybe every Monday I’ll post that day’s tune and then what was played over the past week.So with all of that said… Welcome to the year of…

A Song A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

Come on, did you expect something OTHER than Bruce?

“Growin’ Up” – Bruce Springsteen

Favorite lyric: “When they said sit down I stood up.” 

On its face, a history of youth and childhood, but it goes much deeper and is, of course, an anthem of rebelliousness and exploration. Not just one of my favorite Bruce songs, but one of my favorite songs of all time.

Here are two versions: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMyQjl59wkw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xY3q45EBt8

 

Come back every Monday to get a recap of the songs from the previous week! And may your life be filled with music!

 

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Under The Radar And Speeding – Jonny Polonsky’s Unreleashed

There are many good and bad things about about the internet. One one hand, it has completely changed the world… On the other hand… it has completely changed the world. Many worlds… It has changed the way we communicate… or don’t. It has changed the way we talk to each other… or don’t. And it has changed the way we get and listen to music. And we do.

The internet is an embarrassment of riches, though those riches do not always make it to the artists who deserve them. The fact that I can listen to anything I want, whenever I want is an amazing thing. But the fact that there is so much music out there, can also make it hard to find things. Not that I was ever a musician… well, okay, I play a pretty mean harmonica, actually… but I have not made a record of me solo doing that…

But I do miss the days of the mix tape… the days when artists pounded the pavement and handed their tapes to anyone who would listen. This is how Jonny Polonsky made his way through the Chicago music scene. And like his guitar playing, he went balls to the wall. If you have never seen him live, do it. He plays with a passion and fury that is filled with joy. He is just one of of those guys who truly leaves a pint of blood… and sweat on the stage. Amazing! I had the pleasure of seeing him at the Hotel Cafe last year and the show kicked ass. He is also one of those bastards that plays a gazillion instruments! And plays them all well… Jerk! 😉

In January of 2018 he released a new record, Fresh Flesh, which was reviewed here. This eighth solo release is great and I highly recommend seeking it out. Actually, you should seek out all his stuff . And the fact that he can now publish a 21-track demos and rarities album is remarkable… remarkable because Unreleashed: Demos And Rarities has songs that other artists would love to have as their main tracks.

I love Jonny’s quote on the impetus for doing this record:
“About six months ago, the thought occurred to me that I should release a greatest hits record.
Which is, of course, ridiculous because I don’t have any hits. But the idea quickly morphed into
a compilation record of all the best songs from the last 20 years that I never put on a record.
That idea sounded exciting to me.”

The opening track, “Everywhere All The Time” sets the tone and has become one of my favorite songs of his. It is so listenable on its own, but then there is also a whole other deeper element

“That song was actually written and recorded around 2007, but I feel like it really describes the chaotic, divisive, mean spiritedness that permeates so much of our daily lives right now. ‘You’re everywhere all the time, but nobody sees you there.’ People talk a lot about being one human family and loving and accepting one another, despite our superficial differences in beliefs or appearances. But we still have a long way to go. I personally feel hopeful and optimistic about humanity, but I had to vent my frustration and pain about this all-too-frequently cruel and insane world.”

Many of the tracks are Power Pop at its best, and if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know the special place Power Pop holds in my musical heart. Jonny is often compared to, or at least placed in the same esteemed group as, Pete Yorn, Ryan Adams and Frank Black. Clearly Frank has had a major influence, as he was not only Jonny’s idol, but also wound up becoming a fan, helping to set him up with a record deal AND producing that amazing debut album, Hi My Name Is Jonny! According to AllMusic, Black (the lead singer of the Alt Rock band the Pixies) has “produced prolific amounts of quirky, intelligent rock music.” That is a good description of Jonny’s music… a mix of Power Pop, Post Punk and Alternative Rock. Or for me… wheelhouse, wheelhouse, wheelhouse.

Enjoy a little ’90s flashback here.

Some of my favorite tracks are the aforementioned opener, and the killer “The Same Song,” which I need to write a movie for! According to Jonny, ‘The Same Song’ is something I had kicking around for years, but only ended up finishing when I first moved to LA. I had met Lyle Workman when he was playing in Frank Black’s band,
and Lyle co-produced the track.”

On a side note, Lyle seems to be on fire these days, composing music for film and TV, including a lot of work for Judd Apatow’s shows and projects like HBO’s “Crashing.” He has also played on some of my favorite records like Jellyfish’s Spilt Milk, Todd Rundgren’s Nearly Human and 2nd Wind and Beck’s Midnight Vultures.

I also dig “Amazed” and “See Your Around,” and I especially love the lyric “After the fight comes new beginnings.” And that’s the thing about Jonny… you can listen to the music and enjoy it as is, and this album is a true joy from start to finish… or you can delve deeper and get into the lyrics which range from fun and quirky to deeply moving and insightful.

Jonny Polonsky may be flying under the radar for some of you, but the music is speeding at the sound of rock. Give it a listen. Get to a show. And with all the music that is out there, make sure great artists like Jonny don’t pass you by.

 

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Why Music Matters

I have always understood that part of the importance of art is to bring order to chaos. Whatever the canvas may be, whether it is a literal piece of cloth stretched over a frame or a sheet of music, an artist can take the noise and cacophony that is going on around us and make it clearer and more musical. Perhaps even more harmonious.

We live in a chaotic world right now. We are more divided, more stressed and more confused. Conversations have given way to cat calls. Consent has given way to conflict. People do not listen to each other any more. They do not hear anything other than their own position. And hearing… listening is essential. 

Music, Sweet Music
We need to listen to and really hear music. It will set us free. We need to find chords in discord, notes in the no and the not… a melody in the mayhem. Music literally soothes the soul, takes us to a different place, moves us. It puts our issues into perspective.

When people connect to a song or a specific piece of music, it can literally change the world. I think about the songs “We Are The World,” “Imagine,” though religious believers would take an issue with a few of the lyrics… and “You Will Be Found” from Dear Evan Hansen. It is powerful to note how many parents and kids wait backstage after each performance, not for a photo or autograph, but to share their stories of being lost. These people LITERALLY find themselves in the music and musical… they find themselves in the song.

It starts with:
“Have you ever felt like nobody was there?
Have you ever felt forgotten in the middle of nowhere?
Have you ever felt like you could disappear?
Like you could fall, and no one would hear?”

And then it moves us to this:
“Even when the dark comes crashing through
When you need a friend to carry you
And when you’re broken on the ground
You will be found

So let the sun come streaming in
‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again
Lift your head and look around
You will be found, You will be found, You will be found, You will be found, You will be found.”

We need to be found… we all need to be found… and most importantly, we need to heard and we need to listen. This is what music means…. this is why music matters.

“Let the trumpet herald in the night
Let the band pick up the fight
Let the conductor guide the way
Let the music play.

Let the chorus sing as one
Let us all sing songs unsung
Let the melody light our way
Let the music play.”
– MG“Without music, life would be a mistake”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”
― Plato

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
― Aldous Huxley

“Where words fail, music speaks.” 
― Hans Christian Andersen

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”
― Victor Hugo

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
― Aldous Huxley

 

 

Think about how a piece of music can bring you to tears, how it can take you back to a specific time in your life. or how it can help you escape…

Ponder the song that gets you through a tough workout or tough time in your life, or inspires you to kick ass and take the world by storm. You may not love Eminem, but if you Lose Yourself in his anthem, it is hard to not feel inspired.

The scenes of our lives are so often played to music… We all have a unique soundtrack that is our lives… And while there will always be songs, albums and concerts we share, that bond us and keep us together… like the song  a married couple dances to for the first time… a tune that a graduating high school class sings in unison and in harmony… Each of us has their own song. We may be in a band, but each song means something different and specific to us.

We are all an individual and specific piece of music, a concert, or a series of songs. It is part of our DNA, part of our genetic makeup. Have you ever been doing something and a song (seemingly randomly) pops into your head? Or you almost unconsciously start singing a tune you have not heard in years?

Music gets into our blood and our bones… It enters our brains, our hearts and our souls.

Keith Richards says: “Music is a language that doesn’t speak in particular words. It speaks in emotions, and if it’s in the bones, it’s in the bones.”

So live your life truly and openly. Celebrate exactly who you are… celebrate all that makes you different… for this is your truth and what makes you so special and unique. You were created for a very specific reason. You were created to sing.

Jack Kerouac said: “The only truth is music.” 

This is why music matters and more than you can know… So dance, compose and sing, always sing… be loud and fearless, blissful and joyous… sing… sing… sing!

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R-E-S-P-E-C-T… R-I-P – The Queen Is Dead. Long Live The…

The Queen is dead… Long live the… long live the…

Who is the next Queen? The true Queen? I really do no think there is one… not like that… not like Aretha.

It’s not just that Aretha Franklin has shuffled off this mortal coil… it’s that there really is no one else. There was a rich period in time when blues and soul singers and groups were all over the place. Now… they are not.

Six decades… Six…Aretha TRULY was the Queen Of Soul… the first Diva… an icon on and off stage. While we are lucky enough to have some amazing performers these days, it is just different. Maybe we no longer have the ability to be surprised or amazed. I hate to think that, that is what it is… and while times were different back then, there was just some kind of magic that seems to be missing in the world as of late.

Artists were bigger than life back then… and maybe that is what we needed, when we needed it…

But if you watch the news or feel the world, as so many of us do… deeply… profoundly… you would agree that we need that now more than ever. So who is there to not only take the mantle, but lift it high and towards the heavens?

“The blues had a baby and they named it Rock N’ Roll.”
So said Muddy Waters.

I grew up as a child of classic rock. That is what I listened to for as long as I can remember. It took me going to college in Chicago in order to really work backwards… to truly hear and fall in love with the Blues, Soul, Gospel, R&B…

So since I am a child of classic rock, I guess the Blues are my grandfathers!

As my musical tastes expanded, one of my most prized possessions was and still is the Atlantic Rhythm and Blues (1947-1974) Box Set.

Ruth Brown… Joe Turner… Ray Charles… Clyde McPhatter… Ivory Joe Hunter… Drifters… Coasters… LaVern Baker… Ben E. King… Solomom Burke… Otis Reding…  Wilson Pickett… Sam & Dave… Booker T. & The M.G.’s… and Aretha… Aretha… Aretha…

She was all over this collection. She opened my eyes and my ears.

Aretha was the first woman admitted to the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame… The Blues Brothers movie… an iconic film for me on so many levels…

 

 

 

 

 

She was on the front lines of the Civil Rights movement… the soundtrack to that and to so many lives… She served G-d and the people of Detroit.

She was a singer… an ambassador… an inspiration. She was and will always be SOUL.

She seemed to be most proud of being a Mother and friend. And after all, isn’t that the legacy we all want to leave??? Kindness, love and to play happily in the memories of friends and loved ones…

She played for Kings and Queens… she played for the world. And now royalty and the world mourn.

But the silver lining in this dreary and cloudy day in Detroit… We have Vinyl… we have digital… we have music to crank to 11… We still have songs to sing…music to get us through our daily battles… music to raise our spirits and uplift our souls.

And isn’t that what soul music is? Music to soothe a weary soul… Heck, isn’t that what MUSIC is?!

So “Sing… sing a song. Sing out loud. Sing out strong.”

Aretha was part of the Baptist church, so let us all be baptized…
Let the music wash over us… envelop us… embrace us… comfort us…
Let each note, like each and every single drop of rain, holy rain, go into our very being… pierce our soul and our heart… and yet, at the very same time, heal it… heal us.

“Being a singer is a natural gift. It means I’m using to the highest degree possible the gift that God gave me to use. I’m happy with that.” – Aretha Franklin

The Queen is dead… Long live the music of the Queen!

Let us all raise a glass and say a little prayer… RIP Aretha!

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Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me, The News Blues

New Music Monday: Lao Tizer Swings For The Fences At The Swinghouse

First off, sincere and humble apologies for the delay in getting this post up and out. Sometimes life deals you a different set of cards than you were expecting and at the same time, offers up a nice side dish of gut punches to keep you in check… I don’t recall ordering those, but it is what it is… and the extra time allowed me to spend more quality time with this phenomenal album, which quite often helped me get out of my funk.

This was supposed to post when the album came out, back on March 16, so while it is not exactly “new,” I am hoping to be the one to introduce you to this amazing and fantastic artist and band. For those who already know and love Lao Tizer, welcome.

And away we go… It’s pretty easy to drag me out of the house to go to listen to live music. Especially when it’s in my own backyard.

But I was a bit tired when my buddy Sam Glaser asked me to meet him at Bogies last July 13th. Plus, I had been there a few times before, and found it to be… well… a “Cougar Bar.” Lots of loaded ladies (in more ways than one)… hitting on lots of young dudes, who were probably NOT so loaded. It was so not my scene.

But they have changed things around quite a bit… and now have live music way more often. The sound is phenomenal and the venue (seated at tables) is relaxed and quite enjoyable. It seems like they put a lot into the equipment, and the bands and artists seem to love playing there. The room is filled with people who are there to actually listen to the music… you know, be respectful, and not try to talk OVER the band, which is sadly, super rare in LA these days.

I am sure I was stressed, too… which seems to be un-subsiding as of late… but I got into my car and drove the 10 minutes to Westlake… sat down with Sam, and grabbed a beer.

And then it all changed.

There is certain music that just makes you feel good. Truly. You can not even try to be angry or upset while listening to it. Welcome to the Lao Tizer Band. Lao Tizer was insane. The band starts and literally does not stop… until they take their break between sets. It is jazz and fusion and rock and everything in between at its best and blew me away. And any frustration or anger I was having that day, vanished. Thank you, Sam!  And Lao!!!

When a band has a certain “live” energy, and just floors it on stage, it is often hard to capture that on a record. Sometimes the enthusiasm, joy and pure passion of playing is tempered, either lightly or a lot. This is SO not the case this record. And it makes total sense that it was recorded LIVE in just three days at Conway Studios in Hollywood!

I double dog dare you to listen to this record and not have a complete change in attitude, or if you are already in a good place, to be taken even higher. 

The album consists of eight incendiary original instrumentals (Yes, I have been watching Almost Famous a lot recently) and three iconic classic rock songs!

“We’ve never done anything with a vocalist and we’ve never done any cover songs, so this is the first time that I decided to delve into that realm, to basically expand the scope of our music,” says Lao.

This is the first album for the band in over five years!

Lao was a teenage prodigy from Boulder, CO, and has been playing for over 25 years now. He has nine albums which all show his eclectic musical tastes and influences.

He is the “son of hippies with a Russian-Jewish background, and the mix of that ethnic family heritage, parental new age influence and growing up with the sights and sounds of ’80s and ’90s pop culture (alongside the music of the ’60s and ’70s he heard from his parents) have brought him to a place in his artistic life where he was ready to embrace a wider range of influences and stretch himself and his players…”

If this is not “Jazz Fusion” I don’t know what is… though I am always hesitant to use that description, as so many people have a negative connotation. I started listening to Jazz Fusion in college with Spyro Gyra and Pat Metheny… quickly moved to Steely Dan in a more hardcore way… and really discovered everything.

For me “fusion”… as in Asian Fusion food, which is delicious… is just a combination of many styles, genres and influences. Maybe people mis-associate Jazz Fusion with elevator music, but if this was ever playing in an elevator I was in, I would not want to get out!

I mean come on, Lao and the band offer some complete unique and kick ass arrangements of Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On,” U2’s “Pride (In The Name Of Love),” and Cat Stevens’ “Sad Lisa”!

Hello!!!

So of course you have Lao Tizer on keys… The vocals feature Tita Hutchison, who sang with the likes of Michael McDonald, Rick Rubin, Michael Jackson, and Foreigner, among others. Terrible artists all… 😉

The rest of the band is made up of:
Chieli Minucci, the three-time Emmy-winning and Grammy® Award-nominated guitarist and composer.
Grammy® Award-winning saxophonist Eric Marienthal, who is a permanent member of the Chick Corea Elektric Band.
EWI/saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Steve Nieves
Violinist Karen Briggs, who has played with Yanni, Diana Ross, Wu-Tang Clan, and Chaka Khan
Bass players include Grammy® Award-nominee Ric Fierabracci and Cheikh NDoye,
Grammy® Award-nominated drummer Gene Coye
Percussionist Munyungo Jackson

I had the pleasure of seeing a bunch of these artists live!

My favorite tracks, aside from the three covers… Yes, I started life as a Classic Rock guy… is the banging opener “The Source,” which begs me to get in the car and open all the windows and just drive… the late night soother “Forever Searching” which has such a soulful and deep yearning that winds itself up to the heavens with Karen’s strings… and the absolutely stunning “To Touch The Sky” which could be the soundtrack to any number of films all on its own.

Check out another video here for Metropolis”.

And if you get a chance to see Lao and the band live, it is a multiple must… Here is just another little taste… Both he and the band play with such joy and bliss, and like I said it is mood changing and infectious. I have done many posts on what I call joyful music, and it has to start with the artist and band… they have to love and want to play. You have to feel it from them, on stage and on vinyl. This record… this artist… and this band are pure and simple joy! And that, my friends, is the key (or keys) to life.

 

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Filed under Album Review, Live Music Reviews, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me