Swing your Hips

I must say 1970 and 1971 are still my favorite years for music up to this point.
But, 1974 had some good artists: John Lennon, Neil Diamond, Kool and the Gang, and Stevie Wonder. There were some great songs: “Seasons in the Sun”, “Billy don’t be a Hero”, “Taking Care of Business” (a karaoke favorite of mine), and “Rock the Boat”.
My favorite song for 1974 is actually a cover version. The song is “Loco-motion”. The song is notable for appearing in the American Top 5 three times – each time in a different decade, performed by artists from three different cultures: originally African American pop singer Little Eva in 1962 (U.S. No. 1); then White American band Grand Funk Railroad in 1974 (U.S. No. 1); and Australian singer Kylie Minogue in 1988 (U.S. No. 3). This was Grand Funk’s biggest hit. Their other #1 was “We’re An American Band.” (MetroLyrics)

legfrkm

Of course, the song is about a dance, and Grand Funk gives it a great party sound.
My favorite line is “My little baby sister can do it with ease
It’s easier to learn than your A B C’s”. In 1974 I was four years old. My siblings were ten, twelve and thirteen.
I remember this song playing a lot at the roller rink. I think every place had a local roller rink where we spent part of our childhood. Ours was called the Rollerdrome. Our school would have monthly skate nights. I also spent some weekend night there tagging along with my older sister. (I would be willing to bet that she still remembers her rental skate number.) When “The Loco-motion” would play, we would make a train, holding onto the waist of the person in front of us.

rollerskates

Another memory of this song came from my next-door neighbor’s house. My neighbor’s rented their house out for a year. This was in 1979. The family that rented had a teenage son and couple of girls in their late teens/early twenties. I remember having a crush on the boy. I thought the girls were cool because they were part of a band. They would practice in the basement or the backyard. This was one of the songs they sang. They allowed my friends and me to be their groupies.
Picture credits: http://www.wtmbusiness.com pophistorydig.com buzzjack.com sagecharterschoolabq.org

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Tears of a Clown

If you will please allow me, I am going to digress from my regular blogging agenda.
I wanted to pay tribute to Robin Williams.
Like a lot of people, I first met Robin Williams on Happy Days. I grew up watching Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Mork and Mindy. These were my favorite shows of that time. And, yes, I did have the rainbow suspenders.

mork
We always would stay up late if he was going to be on one of the talk shows. We had to he was so hilarious. I remember getting our first VCR and renting his stand up videos. I always enjoyed him in movies, whether they were comedies or dramas. My favorite Robin Williams movies are Patch Adams (1998) and August Rush (2007). His voice can be heard on many animated films. My favorite is Aladdin (1992).
patch adams

august rush

                                                                                                         aladdin
There has been a song going through my head since the moment I heard the news of his death on the radio. It is featured on the soundtrack that I talked about in my first blog: The Big Chill. The song is “The Tracks of my Tears” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. The song came out in 1965. That was five years before I was born. It has also been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and is listed by Rolling Stone magazine as #50 in its listing of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
These are the lyrics that make me think of Robin Williams:
People say I’m the life of the party
‘Cause I tell a joke or two
Although I might be laughing loud and hearty
Deep inside I’m blue
So take a good look at my face
You’ll see my smile looks out of place
If you look closer, it’s easy to trace
The tracks of my tears
Outside I’m masquerading
Inside my hope is fading
Just a clown ooh yeah . . .
My smile is my make up

Robin Williams has provided my family and me with many laughs over the years, and he still will be in years to come. I am sure almost everyone could say the same thing.

“This is Mork from Ork signing off…..”

nanu nanu

Photo credits: borg.com ktla.com http://www.fanpop.com http://www.ebay.com

Sing us a Song

flower

In my opinion the hits from 1973 do not compare to ’70 or ’71. However, there were great songs: “Taking Care of Business”, “Free Bird”, “We’re an American Band”, “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, etc. I was surprised with some of the songs from ’73, thinking that they had come out later.
There were awesome performers in 1973: Roberta Flack, Pink Floyd, Chicago, Kool and the Gang, etc.
My favorite song from 1973 is “Piano Man” by Billy Joel.

bj

Here is something interesting that I found out about Billy Joel from Songfacts.com: When he was 21, after his band broke up and his girlfriend left him, he tried to kill himself by drinking furniture polish (he “took the Pledge”). He learned that furniture polish doesn’t kill you, it just gets you really sick. After the incident, he checked himself into a hospital for depression, which he later said was a great experience, since he saw people who had far worse problems and learned to stop feeling sorry for himself.
I also learned from songfacts.com the history of “Piano Man”: It was inspired by Joel’s experiences playing at a piano bar. The characters in the song are based on real people Joel encountered while working there. Joel played under the name Bill Martin, which explains why the patrons in the song call him Bill. Martin is his middle name.
Weird Al has a song that goes: “Sling us a web, you’re the Spider-Man.”
I have always been fond of Billy Joel. He is an awesome piano player. He and Elton John (another awesome piano player) have toured together. I lost some interest in Billy Joely when he started doing classical music. He has composed a number of classical songs and even reworked older ballads with an orchestral backing. But, Billy Joel’s “awesomeness” earned him his own channel on satellite radio.
I really like how Joel paints a picture with this song. It reminds me of the show “Cheers” and its theme song. That is how the regulars are there every night. My favorite lines from the song are:
                                                  Makin’ love to his tonic and gin
                                                                     and
                                             When I wore a younger man’s clothes.
I like the “tonic and gin” line because it reminds me of best friend, Michelle. She got me into drinking these in my early twenties. I like the “younger man’s clothes” line because I think it is a really creative way to talk about the earlier years of one’s life.

cheers

The greatest memory I have of this song comes from three years ago. It was during the spring piano recital. It was one of my best “mom moments”. Everyone was playing hymns and sonatinas . My daughter, Casey, got up there and started playing “Piano Man”. I was so proud.  It was awesome!

cpianoPhoto Credits:  en.wikipedia.org http://www.ericscheske.com

I’ll be your Friend

Some highlights from the music industry for 1972: Sammy Davis, Jr. makes a guest appearance on the television show All in the Family. Elvis and Priscilla Presley separate. James Taylor and Carly Simon are married in a tiny ceremony in Simon’s Manhattan apartment. The first New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, with host Dick Clark, airs on ABC with Three Dog Night as the featured act. Blood, Sweat & Tears, Helen Reddy and Al Green also perform.
Overall, I did not find as many songs that I liked from 1972, as I did from ’70 and ’71.
But, there were great songs: “Rocket Man”, “Day by Day”, “Jesus is just Alright”, “Horse with no Name”, etc.
And, there were great artists: David Bowie, ABBA, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, the Carpenters, etc.
My favorite song from 1972 is “Lean on Me”.
“Lean on Me” is sung by Bill Withers. I don’t think I ever knew who sang the song. I do not remember ever not knowing this song. I like it because it is the ultimate friend song. It describes the unconditional love between two human beings.

This song was featured on the album “Still Bill”. It was Bill’s second album. Funny how I feel I can call him Bill. It is that friendship thing! He wrote the song using a Wurlitzer electric piano that he was able to get from the proceeds of his first album: “Just as I Am” which featured “Ain’t no Sunshine”.

bill
Something that I found interesting about him: He spent nine years in the Navy, where he had speech therapy to overcome his stuttering. What an inspiring story. (songfacts.com)
There are two memories that I have of this song.
In 2005 I was watching the Disney Channel movie Buffalo Dreams with my three daughters, 1, 7, and 9 years old at the time. In the movie, the way they calm the buffalo down is by singing “Lean on Me.” There’s also a little girl in the movie that isn’t deaf, but refuses to speak since her and her brother’s parents died in a car crash. At the end of the movie, she ends up having to sing “Lean on Me” to calm a buffalo and save her brother.

Buffalo_Dreams_Promo

The second memory is pretty recent. My daughter’s high school class sang this at their graduation. It was awesome. It made me smile and laugh.

grad

Picture credits: rubbercityreview.com  en.wikipedia.org