60s & 70s

Everlasting Love-Carl Carlton

Carl Carlton’s version of “Everlasting Love” is my companion piece to “Bad Mama Jama.” The lyrics are far more interesting, as is the melody. The song has been recorded many times, but Carlton’s version will always be my favorite.

Open up your eyes then you’ll realize, here I stand with my everlasting love
Need you by my side, girl, to be my pride, never be denied, everlasting love
Hearts gone astray deep in her, when they go
I went away just when you needed me so
You won’t regret, I’ll come back begging you
Won’t you forget? Welcome love we once knew
Open up your eyes then you’ll realize, here I stand with my everlasting love
Need you by my side, girl, to be my pride, never be denied, everlasting love
From very start open up your heart, feel that you’re falling, everlasting love

His music may not be groundbreaking, but it certainly does hold up for over 40 years.

Leave a message letting me know what you think.

Signed Sealed Delivered-Stevie

Last Sunday, my band, Best Kept Secret, and I had the privilege of performing at a benefit for White Plains Hospital  being joined on stage by the amazing singer/songwriter Javier Colon at a benefit for White Plains Hospital/Mariano Rivera Celebrity Event and Golf Tournament. Javier is best known for winning the first season of The Voice, coached by Adam Levine. When, I asked him what he’d like to sing with our band, Best Kept Secret, he suggested two Stevie Wonder classics,“Signed Sealed Delivered” and “I Wish.” It was an extraordinary experience with Javier singing lead with Best Kept Secret backing him up. Most memorably was the four part harmonies created at the end of Signed Sealed Delivered.

Since everyone has heard the original, I wanted to share this delicate duet by Ariana Grande & Kenneth Brian “Babyface” Edmond. Babyface has written and produced an astonishing 26 #1 R ‘n B hits, and 23 year old Ariana has a remarkable voice that brings comparison to 90s icons Whitney Houston & Mariah Carey

I normally print out the lyrics to every song I “blog” about. But I think it’s safe to say that everyone alive knows, at least, the chorus, if not every lyric. Here’s just a taste…

Like a fool I went and stayed too long
Now I’m wondering if your love’s still strong
Oo baby, here I am,
Signed, sealed delivered, I’m yours

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Stevie Wonder is nothing less than a musical genius.
Leave a comment to let me know what you think.     -Doug

 

Dancing In The Street

“Dancing In The Street” is an all-time great sixties song , recorded during the era when Motown Records owned the Pop Charts. One hit after another came out of Berry Gordy’s Detroit-based label,  which, at the beginning was simply Gordy’s own relatively small house in Detroit,  where he lived with his family on the second floor, having turned the first floor into a recording studio he called “Hitsville U.S.A.”

For a fairly long stretch, it seemed like every ‘R & B’ dance hit was written, arranged and recorded at Hitsville,  soon to become “Motown.” Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson Five, etc. all were introduced from this one studio on 2648 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI. It actually wasn’t until I first heard this song that I realized that Motown was short for The Motor City, because Detroit was the Car Capital of America. (Motor City = Motown.)

The most musically interesting thing about this song are the use of the horns. From the blaring opening of the song, the horn become an integral part of this perennial classic. Here’s a picture of Gordy’s original home/studio, and the lyrics to this 1964 Motown classic:

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Calling out around the world, are you ready for a brand new beat?
Summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the street.
They’re dancing in Chicago,
Down in New Orleans,
In New York City.
All we need is music, sweet music. There’ll be music everywhere.
There’ll be swinging and swaying and records playing, dancing in the street.
Oh, it doesn’t matter what you wear just as long as you are there.
So come on, every guy, grab a girl. Everywhere around the world
They’ll be dancing. They’re dancing in the street.

It’s an invitation across the nation, a chance for folks to meet.
There’ll be laughing, singing, and music swinging, dancing in the street.
Philadelphia, P.A.
Baltimore and D.C. now.
Can’t forget the Motor City.

All we need is music, sweet music. There’ll be music everywhere……

There may be a very few fleeting moments when you might notice  “Dancing In The Street” dating itself,  and yet, most of the time, it sounds as fresh as it did when it was first released fifty-two years ago. A can’t miss dance treeasure.

Let me know what you think.

 

I’ll Always Love My Mama

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY.  This song is  truly terrific  vintage disco. An undeniable classic. It’s timeless (and it still really works to get people dancing) but something about it whispers “last century”,  which makes it quite charming. Actually, it was released in 1973, when the song was introduced to the country by the late, great Don Cornelius featured on his iconic TV show “Soul Train.” The Intruders were one of hundreds of bands that flourished during the disco era, but this one stands the test of time.

And, as opposed to a lot of dance songs, this one has lyrics that not only make sense, but are sort of loving and poignant.

Check out these lyrics:

I’ll always love my mama, she’s my favorite girl
I’ll always love my mama, she brought me in this world

Sometimes I feel so bad, when I think of all the things I used to do
How mama used to clean somebody elses house
Just to buy me a new pair of shoes

I never understood how mama made it through the week
When she never ever got a good night’s sleep
Talking ’bout mama, she’s one of a kind
Talking ’bout mama, you’ve got your yours, and I’ve got mine
Talking ’bout mama, hey mama, hey mama, my heart belongs to you

A mother’s love is so special, it’s something that you can’t describe
It’s the kind of love that stays with you until the day you die
She taught me little things like “Say Hello and Thank you, please”
While scrubbing those floors on her bended knees.

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C’mon, those are some darn good lyrics.She taught me little things like ‘Say Hello’ and ‘Thank you, please’
While scrubbing those floors on her bended knees.”

Although my mother has passed on, I’ll always love my mama. Happy Mother’s Day to one and all!

Bad Mama Jama-Carl Carlton

Carl Carlton wrote “Bad Mama Jama” in 1981, and it became an instant smash hit. It still works terrifically well as a timeless classic. Teamed with his 1974 breakout hit “Everlasting Love,” Carlton has been a strong force in pop music. The lyrics to “Bad Mama Jama” are about as trite as you could ever write them…but, as with so many other dance hits, the lyrics hold a back seat far from the bass, drums and synthesizers.

“Bad Mama Jama”
She’s a bad mama jama, just as fine as she can be, hey
She’s a bad mama jama, just as fine as she can be
Her body measurements are perfect in every dimension
She’s got a figure that’s sho nuff gettin’ attention
She’s poetry in motion, a beautiful sight to see
I get so excited viewin her anatomy
Got all the curves that men like (She’s got all the curves that men like)
(She’s built) She’s built, she’s stacked (Oh, she’s got)
Got all the curves that men like (Got all the curves that men like, look at her)

The hell with lyrics, let’s dance.

ABC-Jackson 5

“ABC” by the Jackson 5 is a fantastic, never-fail dance hit. The arrangement is deceivingly complicated.
Aside from the harmonies by the Jackson brothers, the piano, bass, guitar and drums all seem to be
playing in different rhythms.  There are several spots where the normal 4/4 rhythm is replaced by a 3/4 for a single bar, making it awkward to perform,  For example, try counting 1-2-3-4 during the chorus. On the last bar of the second time through, there is a single bar of 3/4 before it returns to the 2nd verse. It’s amazing — and so interesting —  that it doesn’t upset the dance-ability of the song. The middle percussion section feels like it was taken out of context from another song. But as soon as you get used to that rhythm, the A-B-C chorus returns. And watch out for that single 3/4 bar before each time the chorus repeats,

The lyrics are delightfully clever as well. I must admit that until we started playing it in the band, I never correctly heard the lyric “Spell ‘me’ and ‘you,’ add the two!
I also never heard “Without the roots of love everyday girl, education ain’t complete.” 

Check out the lyrics, and sing along.
You went to school to learn girl, things you never, never knew before
Like  “I” before “E” except after “C.”
And why 2 plus 2 makes 4
I’m gonna teach you (teach you, teach you)
All about lovin’ (all about love)
Sit yourself down, take a seat.
All you gotta do is repeat after me:

A B C. Easy as 1 2 3
Simple as Do re mi, A B C 1 2 3  baby you and me girl

A B C. Easy as 1 2 3
Simple as Do re mi, A B C 1 2 3  baby you and me girl
Reading, writing, ‘rithmetic are the branches of the learning tree
(But listen) Without the roots of love everyday girl, education ain’t complete
T-T-Teacher’s gonna show you (show you, show you)
How to get an A (na na na na na)
Spell “me” and “you,” add the two
Listen to me, baby, that’s all you got to do…

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From a historical perspective, it’s intriguing to know that when “ABC was released in February, 1970, it knocked The Beatles “Let It Be” off the #1 spot on the Billboard Top Ten list!

Please leave a comment to let me know what you think.

 

I Want You Back-Jackson 5

“I Want You Back” was written and performed by The Jackson 5 in 1969. The song went on to #1 on the Billboard Charts and immediately became one of the landmark songs of the Detroit-based Motown Records. The piano glissando sliding into the instantly recognizable guitar groove and iconic bass line is enough to pack a dance floor before the first lyric is sung.

What keeps the song fresh, forty-seven (!) years after its release…is the memory of when the world first fell in love with the astonishingly talented and charismatic eleven-year old lead singer of the Jackson Five.

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Tragically, as his global artistic acclaim and record-breaking record sales grew to astonishing heights, so did his well-documented charges of sexual child abuse, bizarre  behavior and endless facial surgeries.  However nothing, including his drug-induced death, ever deterred the public’s adoration of the “King Of Pop.” Somehow the thing we chose to remember is the joy his talent brought us.
Thank you, Michael!

Let me know your thoughts!
-Doug

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

The prolific writing duo of Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson, who would later receive acclaim as one of the best vocal duos in the history of contemporary music, wrote the song “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” for Motown superstars Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrrell. That original 1967 recording was very successful, but only went to #19 on the Billboard Charts. It wasn’t until Diana Ross re-recorded it in 1970 that it went to #1. With two very different arrangements, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” was recorded by two of the most iconic acts to come out of Motown within the short period of three years, each time reaching the Top 20. Although Diana Ross’ version sold over 1.5 million copies, it’s the original Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell version that has stood the test of time.

I personally rediscovered “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” when Whoopi Goldberg playfully performed a “Vegas” arrangement in “Sister Act II”.   Years later, the original served as the basis for a sing-along in the Denzel Washington film “Remember The Titans” (introducing an impossibly scrawny, young Ryan Gosling.) Most recently it was highlighted in “Guardians Of The Galaxy.”

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Why, or how, a work of art becomes so deeply ingrained in the pop culture of generation after generation is impossible to specifically articulate. But very few pop songs have remained so eternally fresh, and so solidly entrenched into the “Mount Rushmore” of great American songs as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” With its emergence into the soundtrack of so many movies, the song is constantly being reintroduced to new generations of both music and movie lovers. It truly is a terrific song, and remains a perrenial favorite at weddings and parties because of its instant familiarity to guests who’ve heard it so many times for the past fifty years.

Let me know what you think.
-Doug