MOTHER’S WALTZ: A MUSICAL & VISUAL COLLABORATION

Mother’s Day – May 8, 2016


FROM swo8: Mother’s Day is May 10th and the great American author and photographer (blush), Marilyn Armstrong and I have worked on another collaboration. To commemorate this day, we have created a photographic montage of families together. It includes eight generations of my family and three of Marilyn and Garry Armstrong’s families.

The song is bittersweet because to be a mother, is indeed bittersweet. Our children bring us our greatest joys and our greatest sorrows. The first couple in the video are my great-grandparents. My great-grandmother died in childbirth leaving 3 babies and a husband.

When my great-grandfather remarried the children were sent off to their aunt to be raised. The aunt is the lady sitting by the fire-place. The first photo of children is of my grandmother and her twin sisters. My grandmother being the oldest would have missed her mother the most. In spite of her early losses she became an extraordinary person and had a huge influence on me and my thinking.

To be a mother has got to be one of the most difficult endeavours to under take in one’s life. We are given this helpless creature for a short period of time to nourish, educate and inspire before they disappear into the ether of adulthood.

As a tribute to mother’s everywhere we dedicate this song, “Mother’s Waltz” by swo8 Blues Jazz and Marilyn Armstrong. 


FROM Serendipity: It has arrived. The melody of A Mother’s Waltz echoes in my mind. I feel as if it is something I remember hearing my mother sing a long time ago … but of course, it is brand new from swo8 Blues Jazz

The pictures of my family include my mother, me, much younger and my son as a toddler. Pictures of Garry’s family include his mother and father’s wedding, Garry’s dad back from WWII with little Garry on his knee. Garry’s mom as a young woman.

The pictures are family heirlooms that evoke strong and sometimes conflicted feelings.

Music by swo8 … with pictures from Leslie Martel (swo8) and Marilyn Armstrong. Memories in music for mothers everywhere.


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THAT’S THE WAY THAT THE WORLD GOES ROUND – JOHN PRINE

While I was growing up, my world was entirely full of classical, baroque, and other “serious” music. No complicated reasons. I spent a lot of time studying and practicing the piano. Even then, there were only so many hours in a day, so it wasn’t until I knew I would never be a professional musician that I began to explore the world of “pop.” The Beatles were the first group that I truly loved. After “A Hard Days Night” (I loved the movie and the score), and “Rubber Soul,” I was a fan for life. Eventually, I added many other individuals and groups, as well as many other categories of music.

John Prine was a latecomer to my “playlist,” but he remains a favorite. Better known as the writer than the singer, there are a couple of songs that I particularly enjoy and always cheer me when I’m blue. It’s pouring rain right now. I mean, it’s coming down in buckets with thunder rumbling in the background. A good day for music. A bad one for any other plans we might have had.

Not everyone has heard of John Prine, but he wrote many songs. He sang them himself on various recordings, most of which I once owned on vinyl. Lo and behold, there’s a CD collection of his work available … just $10, double CD. I ordered it. Of course.

John Prine sings about life. He always had a sense of humor, too. He wrote great, witty lyrics, and singable melodies. What more do you need? Because to me, that’s music. A sentiment … several sentiments … to which I can really relate. John Prine. Singing one of  my favorites. Musical philosophy.

The meaning of life according to John Prine. He sums it up for me. Thanks John!

MUSIC – A WordPress Daily Prompt

APRIL LOVE OR APRIL FOOL?

April in Paris, by Rich Paschall


One April early in the 21st millennium, I actually was in Paris.  I thought it would be exciting, even a bit romantic.  I am not sure my travel companion saw it in the same light.  Although he had never been out of the country before, he did not seem overly excited about the trip, much to my chagrin.

At the time I was working for a freight company that had acquired a nice collection of gifts for Christmas.  Since they did not have something for everyone, they raffled off the gifts they had.  The top prizes were the airline tickets.  Of course I had hoped to win the Air France vouchers, but doubted it could be so with such a large group.  There were other nice prizes and I would have been happy with any of them.  When they called my name for the tickets, I thought it could not be true and it must have been for some other prize.  I was delighted to receive the top prize.

Paris-1

There were not really many blackout dates, but you were not allowed to cash the vouchers long in advance.  This allowed the summer flights to sell out before you had a chance to claim the date.  Being afraid we wouldn’t find a suitable date if we waited too long, we decided on late April. We hoped for small crowds and good weather.  We got one of the two.

Frommer’s Guide to Paris was an invaluable resource, not just for the hotel, but also for how to get around the city.  We also found the best ways to visit the main tourist sites.  With a little planning and a lot of luck, we were on our way.  We learned how to get from Charles De Gaulle airport to our hotel in the St. Germain neighborhood.  The location was ideal as the metro was nearby.

Our tiny room had a small balcony which looked out on the old Paris street.  The room had a tiny refrigerator which allowed us to stash a few items to save on all the expensive restaurant meals.  A small grocery store nearby was a welcome site for a few essentials.

The first night we made it in the rain to a small restaurant nearby.  I spoke no French at the time and the people at the restaurant spoke no English.  We were not certain what we ordered, but we started with French Onion soup which was nothing like the French Onion soup you get here.  The broth was clear and the onions were fresh.  It was great.  I do not recall what beef dish I had; I do recall it was quite good.

In the few days we were there we saw the Eiffel Tower and actually went to the top of it.  We also saw Notre Dame, St. Germain des Pres, Versailles, the Louvre, including the Mona Lisa, the Cathedral at Chartres and many wonderful local spots.  Despite the cold and damp weather most of the time, it was April in Paris!  What could be better?

In honor of this delightful little memory, I have our top 5 April songs.  I wanted to give you 10 songs as always, but I could not think of that many.

5. The April Fools, Burt Bacharach, Hal David.  The theme is from the movie of the same name.  In the film, Jack Lemmon meets the married Catherine Deneuve and decides to run off with her to Paris.  In this instrumental version, the pictures of Paris do not come up until 15 seconds in.  As Neil Patrick Harris might say, “Wait for it.”

4. April Love, Pat Boone.  This theme is from a movie that starred Pat Boone and Shirley Jones.  The song was nominated for an Academy Award and was a big hit for Boone.

3. April Showers, Al Jolson.  The old vaudevillian debuted this song in 1921 on Broadway. He recorded it a few times, including a recording for a film of his life story in 1946.  Here he plays in Soldier Field, Chicago in 1949. The aging Jolson still delivers!  He died the following year.

2. April Come She Will, Simon and Garfunkel. The song was recorded for the album Sounds of Silence in 1965 and released in 1966. Here it is performed in the historic Central Park concert.

1. April in Paris, Ella Fitzgerald. The Count Basie hit has been recorded by many. This early Ella Fitzgerald version helped to popularize the song.

WHAT’S THAT FLOWER YOU HAVE ON?

Prompt-fog-and-roses-006

Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on
Could it be a faded rose from days gone by?
And did I hear you say he was a-meeting you here today
To take you to his mansion in the sky?

She’s forty-one and her daddy still calls her, ‘baby’
All the folks around Brownsville say she’s crazy
‘Cause she walks down town with a suitcase in her hand
Looking for a mysterious dark-haired man

In her younger days they called her Delta Dawn
Prettiest woman you ever laid eyes on
Then a man of low degree stood by her side
And promised her he’d take her for his bride

Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on
Could it be a faded rose from days gone by?
And did I hear you say he was a-meeting you here today
To take you to his mansion in the sky?

Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on
Could it be a faded rose from days gone by?
And did I hear you say he was a-meeting you here today
To take you to his mansion in the sky?

Tanya Tucker – Delta Dawn Lyrics | MetroLyrics

I know I didn’t write it, but the moment I saw the pictures, I heard the song in my head. So … here it is.

THURSDAY PHOTO PROMPT – SUE VINCENT

IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR

She Wants More, More, More, by Rich Paschall

Perhaps that’s the Rebel Yell you hear in the midnight hour, when the music picks up and the time to dance is at hand.  I had been wondering what to suggest as my top Midnight songs but the Midnight Memories kicked in and It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.  I observed that Midnight’s Another Day and the Top 10 list was revealed.  While you may think of many Midnight songs in The Shadows, I will be your Midnight Cowboy and give you my Top 10.

10. I’m A Midnight Mover, Bobby Womack.  Whether you hear the Womack version or Wilson Pickett’s growl infused version, you will think they are channeling James Brown.  Both recorded the song and it is a rhythm and blues special either way you go.  They have co-writing credit for the hit.

9.  Walkin’ After Midnight, Patsy Cline.  The country classic was originally offered by the writers to pop singer Kay Starr, but her record label rejected it.  Reportedly, Cline was not immediately impressed with the song, but ended up with a mega hit in 1957.

8.  Midnight Blue, Melissa Manchester.  This was the first song on which Manchester collaborated with famed song writer Carole Bayer Sager. The 1973 composition was pitched to a producer for Dionne Warwick and later Manchester pitched it to Dusty Springfield who turned it down.  In 1975 it was the first single off Manchester’s first album for Arista records.

7.  Midnight Confessions, The Grass Roots.  The biggest hit for the band was released in 1968.  Recorded with a large group of studio musicians, reports are that the group did not actually play on the record but only did the vocals.  They did perform it live themselves.  I played in a band for a few years that performed this song regularly.

6.  Midnight Rider, The Allman Brothers.  The song first appeared on the Allman Brothers 1970 album, Idlewild South, and was released as a single in March, 1971 without much success.  Composer Gregg Allman released it as a solo effort in 1973 and broke the top 20.  Versions by other artists have also found some success.

5.  Midnight Rambler, The Rolling Stones.  Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the song was released in 1969.  Mick provided lead vocals, of course, and harmonica, while Keith Richards recorded all of the various guitars heard on the original recording.  The song continues to appear in Stones’ concert and was recently on the playlist for the historic performance in Havana.  Here they play for just a million and a half people in Rio, the largest concert ever held.

4.  Midnight at the Oasis, Maria Muldaur.  Released in February of 1974 the song is certainly the best known effort by Muldaur.  The soft rock hit with its sexy lyric was made even more popular by the tease in her unique voice.  I absolutely loved this song at the time, still do.

3.  Midnight Train to Georgia, Gladys Knight and the Pips.  The song was written and recorded by Jim Weatherly as Midnight Plane to Houston.  It was then passed on to Cissy Houston who recorded it as Midnight Train to Georgia.  Then Weatherly’s publisher passed it on to Gladys Knight and the Pips.  They won a performance Grammy with it.  Here the Pips are really workin’ it!

2.  Midnight Special, Johnny Rivers.  Creedence Clearwater Revival had a hit with the song, but it is hard for me to hear a CCR song and not think about the lead singer, John Fogerty.  Apparently there is no arena big enough for his ego.  The Johnny Rivers version was used as the intro to the Midnight Special television programs featuring musical performances.  In my time zone, the train came through right on time, and Wolfman Jack was the conductor.  This performance is from Hullabaloo.

1. After Midnight, J.J. Cale or Eric Clapton.  Cale wrote the song and recorded it in 1966.  When Clapton covered it in 1970, Cale did not know about it until it was a hit on the radio.  At the time, he was broke and grateful for the song’s success.  He subsequently included it in a 1972 album.  Since they both have great versions out there, the only fair thing to do is show them playing it together, Cale on vocals.

SPRING HAS SPRUNG

Let The Sunshine In, Rich Paschall

Now that Spring has officially arrived, we are thinking more of enjoying the sun.  You may have told someone that “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” or that you wanted to share the “Sunshine Of Your Love,” but you may be looking at this differently than we are.  Of course, “There Ain’t No Sunshine When You’re Gone,” but “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying.”

If it remains cloudy were you are, don’t believe “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore.” Just keep telling yourself, “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” and you will soon have your “Seasons In The Sun.”  Just be sure to stay away from the “House Of The Rising Sun” and you will be fine.

So let me be your “Sunshine Superman” and offer my top 10 Sunshine Songs to brighten up the beginning of Spring:

10. You Are My Sunshine, The Pine Ridge Boys.  This 1939 “standard” has been covered by so many artists it is hard to say where I heard it first.  Originally performed as a country song, it has received a lot of musical treatments.
9.  California Sun, The Rivieras.  The 1961 song by Joe Jones became a big hit when The Rivieras covered it in 1964.  The 1977 Ramones version also became a hit and showed up on various albums.
8.  Walking On Sunshine, Katrina and the Waves.  The 1985 hit was a consistent seller for the record company and pure gold for the artists who retained the publishing rights and songwriter royalties.
7.  Soak Up The Sun, Sheryl Crow. It’s her only number one hit and you can probably sing along with the chorus.  The 2002 release was written by Crow and Jeff Trott.
6.  I’ll Follow The Sun, The Beatles.  The Paul McCartney, John Lennon composition was written as early as 1960 but the Beatles hit was released in 1964 with lead vocals by McCartney.

5.  We’ll Sing In The Sunshine, Gale Garnett.  This happy pop tune was released in 1964 and won the Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Recording in 1965.  Yes, it was the era for Folk Rock.

4.  Good Day Sunshine, The Beatles  There was no plan to add multiple Beatles songs.  I made up a list and then gave them a ranking.  This 1966 Lennon, McCartney composition also has McCartney on lead vocals.  Paul played piano on the track and later overdubbed his bass part.  I could not find a Beatles performance, but Sir Paul can still bring it.

3.  Let The Sun Shine In, The 5th Dimension.  The recording by the 60’s pop group is actually a medley of two songs from the musical, Hair.  It was at the top of the charts for 6 weeks in 1969.  Opening with “Aquarius,” the sound was sometimes called “Psychedelic Pop.”

2.  Sunshine On My Shoulders, John Denver.  Co-written and recorded by Denver for his 1971 album Poems, Prayers & Promises, it was released as a single in 1973.  By early 1974 it reached number 1.  When the album came out, I recall singing this song over and over with a friend.  I think our performance may have been fueled by adult beverages.  It will always hold great memories from a youth well spent.

1. Here Comes The Sun, The Beatles  This time it is a George Harrison composition that brings The Beatles back to the list.  Recorded in 1969 for the Abbey Road album, it was never released as a single.  Nevertheless, the track received critical acclaim and has been played and downloaded often.