SUMMER SONGS

Since we are in the midst of summer, you might need a few summer songs. You may not agree with some of them so feel to add yours in the comments.  This article originally appeared on SERENDIPITY last summer. 

The Top 10 of a Musical Genius

From the time the Beach Boys hit the surf and the top of the charts in the 1960s, Brian Wilson has been considered a musical genius. His prolific songwriting propelled the careers of the original “Boys.” Their music remains popular to this day.

Wilson was not just trying to crank out rock and rolls songs for public consumption. He was trying to create a new sound, the “California” sound of blended harmonies and instruments. His obsessive work in the studio while seeking a certain type of perfection was both his strength and ultimately his weakness.

Brian Wilson

Today Brian is again touring, writing, and producing. His opinions on music are held in high esteem by songwriters everywhere.  Many, including Paul McCartney, Bono, James Webb (American songwriter), and Rolling Stone Magazine, consider Wilson’s “God Only Knows” among the best songs of all time.

So when Brian offers an opinion regarding rock and roll music, it usually garners some attention.  A few years ago he gave us a top ten list of his favorite songs of summer.  To no one’s surprise, a couple of Beach Boys’ songs made the list, but there are also a few interesting choices:

1. Hot Fun In The Summertime: Sly and the Family Stone.
2. In The Summer Time: Mungo Jerry.
3. I Get Around: The Beach Boys.
4. Be My Baby: The Ronettes.
5. California Girls: The Beach Boys.
6. Give Me Some Lovin’: Spencer Davis Group.
7. Hey Jude: The Beatles.
8. Honky Tonk Women: The Rolling Stones.
9. My Obsession: The Rolling Stones.
10. Mony Mony: Tommy James and the Shondells.

I don’t know how some of these songs were chosen for a summertime list, but it is Brian’s list so he can do as he pleases.  I am happy to modify it a bit. You can follow with your own list in the comments if you are so inclined. First of all, any song I have to look up because I never heard of it needs to go.

“My Obsession” by the Rolling Stones is an early hit that really offers little in the way of music and lyrics.  It is certainly forgettable in every way and a surprise on any list provided by Wilson.  Of course, we all have early rock favorites that will probably sound weird to anyone else.  So, I am kicking that one off the list and replacing it with one of the Beach Boys’ top hits of all time, Little Surfer Girl.

Next, I have to replace the overdone Hey Jude. While McCartney still uses this epic to kill 10 minutes of every concert, I think it is time to retire it. Seriously, have you seen any performance of McCartney, live or on television, that did not contain an overblown version of this hit?  I can not associate it with summer anyway, so I am replacing it with “Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful.  Every oldies station will indeed play the heck out of this song from now until Labor Day, but I never tire of it. That’s my standard.

I like “Honky Tonk Woman” and “Mony, Mony” but let’s replace them with Summer hits.  Add Jan and Dean’s number one hit from 1963, “Surf City.”  With a similar sound to the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean successfully rode the airwaves on their musical surfboards for many years, cashing in on the California-style rock.  Another song I’m adding is “Saturday in the Park.” by Chicago — if for no other reason than to include a song from one of my all-time favorite bands, but will it make my Top Ten?

When I discovered Billboard’s list of the Top 30 Summer Songs I see there are a few more that could go on my list by the masters of their style, the Beach Boys.  Go forth and create your own list and enjoy the sounds of summer.

Yes, next week you will get my top ten summer songs that are really about summer. I know you can’t wait. Just sing Hot Fun In The Summertime until then.

I’LL BE WHAT I AM

As many states start to reopen, or in the case of red states stay open, I think I will be a little more cautious about jumping into the people pool, so to speak.  I got the vaccine, but I will hide out at home a little longer and listen to my pandemic playlists.  Last year, this one appeared on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com), and we thought we would give you another opportunity to sing along.

A Solitary Man, Rich Paschall

When the “stay at home” orders dragged on from March to April and then to May, it seemed like we needed some music to fit the situation. Some were creating playlists and posting them online. Others were writing and recording new songs. With all this creativity at hand, I decided to jump into the fray with our own Pandemic Playlist.

A lonely seagull

First up was a post entitled Splendid Isolation, named after the song by the late Warren Zevon. I sat down to compile a song list that would seem to fit our unique situations. This led to a variety of topics and a very long “shortlist” for my Top Ten.  It was hard work watching all those YouTube videos but I knew, “I Will Survive.”

With the SERENDIPITY Sequester Songlist finished, I knew we were off to a good start, but I still had a lot of tunes tempting me to go again. Many titles contained a variation of the word “Lone.” You know, Lonely, Alone, Lonesome and things like that. There were Lonely People in a Lonely Town who were all Alone or possibly Alone Together. From a Lonely Boy to Mr. Lonely they knew how Only The Lonely could feel. This Quarantine list was Just A Lonely Boy, from the opening line of the Paul Anka song.

As I looked over what was intended to be a shortlist for a Top Ten Quarantine songs, I realized there were at least twenty more. No, I will not give you another Top Ten, just the best of the rest. It was hard to rank these as they are all good songs. The order could change at any moment, so remember, this is just One Moment In Time.

Solitary man?

8. Solitaire, Neil Sedaka.  The song was written by Sedaka and frequent collaborator Phil Cody. The Carpenters had a hit with it, so did Andy Williams. Sedaka recently stated on his YouTube channel that at least 60 artists have recorded it.  Despite the hits by others, it seemed best to let Sedaka do the honors. If you liked the old Sedaka songs then you are in luck. The prolific singer, songwriter octogenarian gives mini-concerts every weekday on YouTube during the pandemic stay-at-home orders.

7. All By Myself, Eric Carmen. Another singer, songwriter, Eric Carmen started with the group The Raspberries in the early 1970s and went on a career all by himself.  Carmen is a classically trained pianist and based this hit tune on Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. The song made it to No. 2 on the US Billboard charts.

6. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams, Green Day. Some might consider this NSFW due to one of the words in the lyrics. The official video here has sort of garbled the word but you’ll get it. Radio play just took it out. Well, everything is screwed up. What else can I say? I am pretty sure that lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong is not related to Garry and Marilyn, but I never really asked. Any way Armstrong declares, “My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me, My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating.” He walks the boulevard alone.

5. Isolation, John Lennon. This one certainly has gotten popular since the stay-at-home orders. It appeared on Lennon’s first album following the breakup of The Beatles.  Recorded at Abbey Road studio, the album was released on the Apple label in 1970 to critical acclaim. Interestingly, Ringo Starr played drums on this track. Lennon is on the piano.

4. Dancing With Myself, Billy Idol. After that last one, I thought we should pick up the pace. If there is no one there to dance with, it is OK to dance with yourself. The song was originally released in the UK in 1980 by the band Gen-X with Billy Idol as the lead singer. The following year it was remixed and re-released in the US as a solo by Idol, who also co-wrote the song. Just remember:
“Well, there’s nothing to lose
And there’s nothing to prove, well,
Dancing a-with myself”

3. Eleanor Rigby, The Beatles. I don’t think there is anyone lonelier than Eleanor Rigby unless it is Father McKenzie of the same song. This 1966 release was quite a departure for the pop band. The song features eight string players, arranged by famed Beatles producer, George Martin. The song is about the elderly and the lonely. Only the Beatles could have had a hit with this one. “Ah, look at all the lonely people.”

2. One, Three Dog Night. Harry Nilsson wrote the song and released his version in 1968, but it was the Three Dog Night version the following year that became a hit. The repetition of the same note at the outset is meant to symbolize a busy single. If you make a call and get no one, then you are the only one. And as we all know, “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.”

1. Solitary Man, Neil Diamond. One of the best-selling singer-songwriters in the world, Diamond had a big hit with this one, his first solo release in 1966. You are likely familiar with a radio version with background singers and big production. It was a powerful interpretation. There was also a version recorded alone without the background singers. It sounded more personal as he changed “then Sue came along” to “then you came along.”  The ultimate message is the same. Until he finds the right person, “I’ll be what I am, A solitary man.”

These were the best ones that did not make my other Playlists. To hear any one of the above just click the title. If you want to hear all nine on the Solitaire Playlist, click here.  I added both versions of the Neil Diamond song, one from 1971 (above) from 2012.

See also: SPLENDID ISOLATION, Your Quarantine Playlist, April 26, 2020.
JUST A LONELY BOY, Lonely and Blue, May 6, 2020. (Lonesome Playlist)

JUST A LONELY BOY

Last year we had a number of quarantine playlists to help you through your pandemic blues.  You might now be emerging from your sequester days, but we will repeat this list in case you still feel like a Lonely Boy or lonely girl.  This Top Ten originally appeared on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com).  

Lonely And Blue, by Rich Paschall

Are you lonesome tonight? Alone again, unnaturally? Feeling like Mr. Lonely? Lonely Is The Night these days so we thought it was time for our Lonesome List top ten. You can make a Journey to Ask the Lonely, but you will just be a Lonesome Loser. Those Lonely People will not have the music to sequester by.

Lonely town, lonely street

I Think We’re Alone Now, so I will give a shout-out to a Bill Withers tune. The Grammy-winning artist passed away recently at the age of 81.

We don’t want you to feel like a Solitary Man or that you are the only “One.” We can be Alone Together with these top hits.

10. Alone Together, Dan + Shay. The young Country stars scored well with this song and entertaining video, a 2018 release. I was going to put Alone Again, Naturally in this spot, but if you recall the 1972 hit, you know it was one of the most depressing songs ever written. I put it on the YouTube playlist if you must have it.

9. Lonesome Loser, Little River Band. Count this 1979 release as one among a string of hits by the Australian supergroup. It made it to number 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

8. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, Hank Williams.  This 1949 song by the Country Hall of Fame artist was one of his biggest hits. It is from an era before Country music started sounding more like rock or pop music. Plenty of “twang” here.

7. Lonely Is The Night, Billy Squier. Now let’s go 180 degrees in the other direction with this classic rock hit from 1981. Squier puts out some guitar solos for your all-alone moments.

6. I’ve Been Lonely Too Long, The Young Rascals. This 1967 hit is an oldie, but a goodie. The Young Rascals were later known just as The Rascals. Yes, we all get older, if we stay away from deadly viruses.

5. Lonely People, America. “Don’t give up until you drink from the silver cup, And ride that highway in the sky.” This was written as sort of a response to the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.” Interestingly, it was produced by long-time Beatles’ producer, George Martin.

4. Alone, Heart. This 1987 “power balled” is Heart’s biggest hit. Co-author of the work, Tom Kelly, sang high harmony on the studio recording. Lead singers are sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson.

3. Only The Lonely, Roy Orbison.  The 1960 recording was the first big hit for Orbison, who also co-wrote the song with Joe Melson. They had shopped the song around, offering it to Elvis and the Everley Brothers before deciding to record it themselves.

2. Mr. Lonely, Bobby Vinton. Recorded in 1962, the song did not become a hit until 1964. Vinton began writing while in the army. It is about a soldier waiting for letters from home.

1. Lonely Boy, Paul Anka. The prolific singer-songwriter recorded this when he was just 17 in 1958. He went on to write other big hits for himself and other stars. We knew you needed some early rock right about now. You Boomers should sing along. The rest of you can just enjoy this oldie.

Click on any song title to hear the song. For the entire Lonesome sequester playlist, click here.

See also: SPLENDID ISOLATION, Your Quarantine Playlist, SERENDIPITY, April 26, 2020.

 

AT THIS MOMENT

Karaoke Night, by Rich Paschall

From the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, we spent a lot of time in adult drinking establishments singing various tunes to varying degrees of success. You did not have to be any good at it. You just had to have enough nerve to get up and sing out loud. The truth is, of course, that most people are not listening to you anyway.  They are having conversations with their friends and ordering another round of whatever is making them loud and somewhat obnoxious at their tables or at the bar. It is a lot easier when you realize that few if any are listening or even care what you are singing.

The first song I attempted was Born To Be Wild if my memory serves me at all after all these years of belting out songs I thought I knew. I had heard others do the song. I knew it was rather easy and within my limited vocal range. So I did it a number of times before I had the courage to move on to song number two.

We were friends with a guy who did Karaoke at a local bar. There were nights when I took over for him, either because he was busy that night or because he would rather sing and drink. Since I sometimes had to fill the gaps early in the evening when there were no singers, I learned to do a few other songs.  And remember, no one was listening anyway.

One of the girls who frequented the place wanted to do a duet. We settled on “You’re The One That I Want” from Grease. Nope, I can not sing it that high. Do I look like John Travolta? We did learn, however, that you can adjust the key on those old karaoke machines, so we drop it down 3 steps, and we both sounded a lot better.

After I had been helping out the karaoke host for a few months, a woman who tended bar on occasion asked me to sing “At This Moment.” I told her I didn’t know it. In fact, I thought I had never heard it before. She told me I should learn it. She was quite serious. Since she was bigger and tougher than I, it seemed like learning the song would be a prudent thing to do. The next time I saw her at the bar she handed me a cassette tape. She had recorded the song back to back so I would listen to it two times in a row each time I put the tape on. It was the only thing on the tape. I learned the song.

As time went on I learned a variety of other songs. There were a few I had in mind for those that wanted to do karaoke with me. It was a strange experience to have people I didn’t know ask me to sing with them, and some could not carry a tune if we put it in a bucket for them with a large handle attached. But I was always a good host and tried to team up a couple of mediocre singers so I would not have to join the fray. Besides, I thought I was creating friendships. If you want to practice, I have the karaoke version of the next song hereYou supply the vocal. If that’s too much, here it is with vocal:

We had our “go-to” duets and we also had our group songs for those who wanted to drag up their friends but didn’t know what to sing. “Bohemian Rhapsody” was not one of my choices, although many chose to kill it anyway. Instead of that, I would suggest certain Beatles tunes and this one was always popular:

There was a Frank Sinatra song or two I would like to sing if I got the chance, and someone else did not beat me to it.  “Something Stupid” was a good duet if someone actually knew the Nancy Sinatra part. I liked “Strangers In The Night” but I could never do it well. This one was better (and easier) for me to sing:

Some nights we were busy and I did not get to sing much, if at all. Sometimes I got the chance to entertain myself a lot. When the opportunity presented itself, I would close the show with “For The Good Times,” and they were good times.

Enjoy the music above and don’t forget to sing along, nice and loud.

This post originally appeared on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com) here.

YOU, A LIBERATION LYRIC

I thought I would share my favorite lyric from the musical Liberation. Right now on SERENDIPITY, we have the story of  Liberation – A Musical That Almost Was and the book’s co-author, Betty.  I mentioned that Betty’s favorite song was called “I Believe” and I posted that lyric here on Sunday Night Blog.

Rich and Betty at Pajama Game rehearsal

My favorite song was the only one not expressly written for the show.  It was written in the time period of the original script and only 20 years later did we decide that a secondary character needed a song.  He represented the only love interest in the show, but we were concerned about being able to write a new song in the style of the original show.  One day I played a recording for Betty without comment hoping she would say what I wanted to hear, “Ray’s song!”  And so it is.

Perhaps I love it so much because the music seemed to match up perfectly with the words.  That is good since I rarely would comment to Michael (the composer) about the type of music he should write for any set of lyrics. The Soundcloud recording below is the one made by Michael after we agreed to put this song in the show. It includes the one word changed from the original recording, although I am still not convinced we needed to change. Can you guess the word below that was put in only for the show, and what it might have replaced? Hint: It’s an end-of-line word.

You

What are the words to convey the meaning?
How can I express this feeling in me?
How to say thanks, for all that you’ve done —
You’ve opened my world infinitely.

You are the light that shines on my journey.
You are the smile that inspires my day.
You are the power that makes me keep moving.
You are the wisdom that shows me the way.

For me to share in the dreams of your world,
For you to share in the building of mine –
This is a gift for which I am grateful.
This I’ll remember throughout my lifetime.

You are the laughter that sings in my heaven.
You are the tears that come now and then.
You are the reason for me to keep trying.

Thank you so much,
Thank you so much,
Thank you so much
For being my friend.

The story of Liberation – A Musical That Almost Was, can be found HERE.

WINTER YET TO COME – Rich Paschall

Like some previous years, Winter has not yet given us a full blast by mid-January. The backyard homemade ice rink from mid-December still has not frozen through. No worries, however. We know again this year, Winter is yet to come. Be sure to click “View original post” at the bottom to head over to SERENDIPITY for some winter music.