Archive | June 2012

Stormy Weather

June 30, 1917  Happy Birthday Lena Horne!

hands

There are a lot of versions of the song Stormy Weather but I’ve always loved Lena Horne’s.  I usually don’t like vibrato in a jazz singer, but Ms. Horne uses it exactly right.   She won a Grammy for the album it’s on!  

I’ve played for tons of singers and usually singers have one singer they emulate — “you are what you listen to” —  and back in my Sweetwater days there were a bunch of great jazz singers who came from the school of Lena Horne and who knew how to take it to the next level.  One such great singer was Carmen Lundy.  Check her out – I saw she’s going to be at the Blue Note in NYC.  She’s amazing.

I’ve also worked with singers who just imitate and never get that they need to find their own voice.

Let’s talk about musicians in general. It seems to me that a musician’s personality is directly connected to their playing.  A passionate person will play with passion, duh. Guys with insecurity problems will usually play too much. Obnoxious musicians, well you get the point. A lot of times now I will hire my musicians for a particular gig based on personality. Assholes need not apply.

I’m not sure where I fit in, and if I fit in to the asshole category, sorry ’bout that.

Here’s Stormy Weather for Lena Horne’s birthday!

The Loco-Motion

June 29, 1943 Happy Birthday Little Eva!

If you wonder why I keep doing oldies, it’s because I’m old.

Claudia and I thought I would have backup singers today but no, Casey and all his singing friends slept over last night and when they woke up they ran right out to drive to the Poconos house. They’re having their annual July 4th Yale reunion/party weekend at the house! Fun fun!

Today’s another classic Carole King / Gerry Goffin song. Little Eva (Eva Boyd) was the songwriting duo’s babysitter and recorded The Loco-Motion for them!

Our kids had a great babysitter, Lori. Claudia actually was Lori’s big sister in the Big Brother/Big Sister program when she was in high school and Lori was just seven years old. When Lori grew up, she became our babysitter!

It’s the best having someone you trust watching your kids. Claudia and I were working on both Beehive and the first incarnation of our original rock opera Winner Take Allso we were thankful to have Lori.  As the kids got older and we worked a lot out of the house, we’d just open the back door, invite their friends over and let everyone run amok.  Our house was and is a rubber room where we always have as much creative fun as possible!

Happy Birthday Little Eva!  Let’s all do The Loco-Motion!  (or is it too hot?)

Sweet Caroline

June 28, 1969 Neil Diamond releases Sweet Caroline.

is the check in the mail?

I’m the kind of guy who will play a song to death if I love it. I drive everyone around me crazy and they beg me to please stop playing that song. (except for my wife – she’ll never tell me to stop playing a song!)

Sweet Caroline was one of the first songs I became addicted to.  I was 13 years old.  It was the summer.  I was hanging out at my Aunt Fran and Uncle Jack’s house in Brooklyn on East 38th Street between Avenue I and the cut.  The “cut” stood for the railroad tracks, so this block was a dead end which made it great for softball and punchball. There were about fifteen families on that block, each with four or more kids, so it was an amazing hang and my cousins had the pool in the backyard that we jumped into from the roof.

If you ask my Aunt Fran she will tell you I played Sweet Caroline on a 45 record on their crappy little turntable all day long that whole summer.  They still have East 38th Street reunions more than forty years later because of all the friends we had on that block.

I think I’ll make a list of all the songs that I wore out.

Sweet Caroline will be number one.

Stay tuned!

Delilah

June 27, 1989 Tom Jones is awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6608 Hollywood Blvd. (via about.com)

I met Tom Jones 15 or 20 years ago at an MTV music awards show. My cousin Vicky was one of the producers and I was seated next to Tom Jones and I remember him having very funny comments about everybody’s wardrobe and I remember him drinking scotch as I was drinking vodka. I know that because I was the one going out and getting our drinks.

It’s great to see my cousin Vicky in action. She’s about 5’1″ and I’m watching her scream at these 6’5″ security guys to do their job right. I seem to have always surrounded myself with powerhouse women — my wife, my mother, my sisters and all my female cousins.  Every one of them running their households with a lotta love and a big stick.

This song I remember singing as a kid.  It had such a happy feel.  Now I see in the lyric that he stabs his cheating girlfriend. How nice. It’s funny how I can sing a song for years but totally miss the point.

The women in my family would have won that knife fight.

Mr. Tambourine Man

June 26,1965 The Byrds’ Mr. Tambourine Man hits #1.

lounging

Last night I hosted the Songwriters Guild of America’s Songwriters Circle at the Red Lion on Bleecker Street. We do it the last Monday of every month. I’ve been hosting this gig for many years and have seen some great songwriters come through. Some sing funny songs, others sing heartbreak songs and sometimes, happy or sad, we’re singing crappy songs, but hey this is the Village and where else can we try out our new material.  

Two doors down from the Red Lion is the Bitter End where Bob Dylan sang all his tunes (he wrote today’s song, Mr. Tambourine Man) and the Red Lion is where my buddy Gavin Degraw got signed to his record deal.

Tomorrow night, Wednesday, June 27th, I’m at the Red Lion doing my own singer/songwriter night. Love to try out all new stuff on a good drunk audience there.  It’s a great Irish bar.  I always use that old line, “The more you drink the better we sound.” Claudia hates that line but it’s one of those lines I always say.

Mr. Tambourine Man to me is an ode to singer/songwriters.  We tell our stories – sometimes to a big crowd and sometimes to just a few.  I like it better when the place is packed so come on down to the Red Lion tomorrow.

I love The Byrds for their harmony singing, which is what gets me excited.  Musically, that is.