17May

P.P. Arnold and Lisa Fischer: Musical Greats, Yes!

A friend got me to thinking the other day, an accomplishment most of my friends try to avoid. This friend once said, “Give Dan a subject, and he will think it to death.” Another good friend from radio once introduced me, saying “Here is Dan Sanders. Give him a subject, and he’ll give you 20 minutes whether he knows anything about it or not.” I never believed those last eight words.

So I was thinking about the hidden talent and connections in music we forget or never even know about. For example, my friend told me the hit song “The First Cut Is the Deepest,” a song I like a lot, was written by Cat Stevens, and  he gave it to the great soul singer P.P. Arnold. P.P. Arnold recorded it in 1967 and had a hit. It’s also interesting to note she was a member of the Ikettes, the troupe that provided vocal and dance accompaniment for the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. In 1973, “The First Cut Is the Deepest” was an international hit for Keith Hampshire, a well-known British singer who between July 1966 and mid-August 1967 was also a DJ for the offshore pirate radio station Radio Caroline. The Rod Stewart version of the song, which I and most of the world knows and loves, was not recorded until 1977.

Here’s another name for you: Lisa Fischer. Any Rolling Stones fan has heard her a thousand times but might not know the name. Since 1989, she has toured with The Rolling Stones and is a popular background singer with Mick. Check her out on later versions of “Gimme Shelter” (Merry Clayton recorded the first version) and “Honky-Tonk Woman.” She is also featured in a great documentary about background singers called 20 Feet from Stardom.

Just as I was finishing up this blog, I got the news that on this day, May 15, B.B. King died at age 89, the same day astronomers discovered a rare Quasar Quartet. More than ever, I want that job at WHEA, Heaven’s Radio, where there are a multitude of great quartets. Can you imagine hearing “Goooooooood morning, universes, galaxies, and stars of all ages! We’ve got some B.B. King, Ben E. King, Percy Sledge, and James Brown to kick off your sunrise today!”                            

All of this got me into particularly ponderous pondering (god, don’t you love alliteration?).  I discovered not only something about a song I love but also about the first person to record it and the second and then more about them. I learned P.P. Arnold was one of the Ikettes and Keith Hampshire was a radio pirate on Radio Caroline, and I kept going. The history of one song, “The First Cut Is the Deepest,” I found fascinating as one thing led to another, a result of song sleuthing, a term I made up to describe getting down to the deepest links. My interest in music details is why I became a DJ, or at least one of the reasons.

A few more song-sleuthing moments and other thoughts are on the shores of Rambling Harbor. Drop anchor and join me there.

 

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10May

Hey, Is That U2?

I lived and worked in New York City for over 10 years, at WPAC (now WALK), one of my first radio jobs.  When I first moved there with my dad, he told me you could stand naked at noon in Times Square and crow like a rooster, and no one would notice. I never tested that theory and to my knowledge neither did my dad, but I believe it’s true.

If you’re from New York City, you make it very clear that’s where you’re from. It’s not unusual to hear someone say “I’m from New York” and quickly add “the city, not the state”!  New York City is truly the home of the strange, the bizarre, the scene, the never before seen, and many times, the wish you had not seen. Now imagine you’re standing on a subway platform and you hear what sounds like a group of pretty decent street performers playing some U2 tunes. Not bad, you think, and then you notice that guy in the blue cowboy hat looks a lot like Bono and the dude in the sock hat could be the twin of “The Edge.” Almost instantly, what to your wondering eyes and ears should appear but the wham-bam holy “Angel of Harlem” knowledge that you are actually standing next to the real U2 and they are doing an impromptu concert in the bowels of the New York subway system. That’s pretty cool.

Of course, this hoopla was ahead of U2’s May 8 performance on Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show. Remember it was just back in November Bono had that bike accident in Central Park and later released a statement that his recovery had been much more difficult than he expected, saying “it is not clear that I will ever play guitar again.” He said he would “miss fingering the frets of my green Irish Falcon or my (RED) Gretsch. Just for the pleasure, aside from writing tunes. Does the Edge, or Jimmy Page, or any guitarist you know have a titanium elbow, as I do now? I'm all elbows.” But he recovered, and chances are good he will be fingering those frets for a long time to come.

There are certain songs that were just made to be sung, in the shower alone or in a group (not necessarily a group shower), songs that you might not even know all the words to but know just enough to sing loud and proud, songs like "Louie Louie.” Jack Ely of the Kingsmen and the voice behind the most well-known version of that song died April 28 at 71. And who has not, at one time or another under the blistering heat of lunacy and arousal, broken into “You Sexy Thing”? Errol Brown, the lead singer of Hot Chocolate and the voice of "You Sexy Thing" and "Every 1's a Winner," died Wednesday, April 6. He was 71.  

There’s more on music, mayhem, and madness on the banks of Rambling Harbor. Come on ashore.

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3May

Burning Bras, Jimmy Carter, Palm Trees, and Keith Richards

As you read the title, you might have thought,  what the ???? is this all about? Well, welcome to my brain, or at least a skosh of it.

You see, many different things threaded their way into my brain in the last week.  Jimmy Carter and bra-burning are related subjects, and I’ll explain. Burning bras conjure up images of warm tropical breezes and palm trees, and where there are palm trees, there once was Keith Richards, falling out of one.

Last week, an article written by former president Jimmy Carter and published on July 15, 2009 but missed by many, went viral. In the article, Carter ended his 60-year relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention. The convention’s leaders, citing bible verses claiming that Eve was created second to Adam, declared that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors, or chaplains in the military, and Carter felt he had no choice but to cut his ties. He could no longer support a group who believed in the subjugation of women. As women struggle for equality in almost all areas of life, Jimmy Carter made a difficult, “unavoidable” decision, opting to try to improve the lives of women everywhere. Way to go, Jimmy Carter! 

Before the 1960's, most women were housewives and mothers and not much more.  During the 1960's, women ramped up demonstrating for equal rights, and some women, ticked off by the stereotypes, took action to create change. One of the most legendary protests by feminists took place on September 7, 1968, when nearly 400 women protested the Miss America pageant outside the Atlantic City Convention Center. Though this was called a bra-burning, there was never any fire. Organizer Robin Morgan wrote that the group was protesting the pageant's promotion of the "ludicrous beauty standards we ourselves are conditioned to take seriously." As the pageant was taking place, feminists marched around the Freedom Trash Can and tossed in their bras, high heels, girdles, makeup, and even detergent, items they perceived as symbols of feminine oppression. Way to go, women!

On a lighter note, April 29, 2015, marked 9 years since the Keith Richards–palm tree incident during his holiday on Fiji.  Legend has it the Rolling Stone had been swimming and climbed a tree. When he grabbed a branch, his wet hands slipped, and he fell seven feet, resulting in hospitalization for a mild concussion. However, there is another report.  I read somewhere that after falling, Keith jumped up and took off on a jet ski. While this report, as far as I know, has never been confirmed, I believe that he fell from the tree and landed on his coconut then saw a bra floating on the water and took off on the jet ski to rescue it.

There’s more on the shores of Rambling Harbor, where all are equal and bras are optional.  Join me there.

** Picture Credits: That's my lady, Chloe Cat.

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