Sunday, March 4, 2012

Desert Island playlist: Yesterday's Rain by Spanky and our Gang

What can I say about this song. When I bought this original album and played it on my small turntable in my basement bedroom with my large Koss Headphones  it blew me away.  This song has stuck with me for over 40 years.   The beginning with the bass singing just draws you into the song and the harmonies just take you.  I know that some people do not know Spanky & Our Gang and it is sad not much is left on the internet because they were amazing vocal group.  I count about ten songs of their my favorites and they are not the singles they put out but are songs that they had on their albums.  Songs like The Swinging Gate, Three Ways from Tomorrow, Chicka Ding Ding, And she's Mine, Leopard Skin Phones, 1-3-5-8 (Pedagogical Round #2), Jane, and Since You've Gone are songs that still have an emotional effect on me. Each one of these members are incredible singers.
 The singers were:
  • Elaine "Spanky" McFarlane vocals

  • Nigel Pickering (June 15, 1929, – May 5, 2011,) - rhythm guitar, vocals

  • Paul "Oz" Bach (June 24, 1939, – September 21, 1998) - bass guitar, vocals (1966–67)

  • Malcolm Hale (May 17, 1941, – October 30, 1968,) - lead guitar, trombone, vocals.

  • John "The Chief" Seiter (born August 17, 1944,) - drums, vocals (1967–69)

  • Kenny Hodges (born August 3, 1936,) - bass, vocals (1968–69)

  • Lefty Baker (January 7, 1939 - August 11, 1971) - lead guitar, banjo, vocals (1968–69)

  • The group's first album, simply titled Spanky and Our Gang, was released by Mercury Records on August 1, 1967, and included three popular songs that were released as singles. These were "Sunday Will Never Be the Same" (their biggest hit, which reached number #9 on the  Billboard Hot 100 chart in the summer of 1967), followed by "Making Every Minute Count" (reached #31) and "Lazy Day" (reached #14). Both "Sunday Will Never Be The Same" and "Lazy Day" sold over one million copies. "Sunday Will Never Be the Same" was written by Terry Cashman and Gene Pistilli. In an interview by Cashman with the Songfacts website, he revealed that the song was originally written as a ballad. However, Cashman said the group "changed it, and they added the vocal, 'Ba-da-da-da-da,' which was a great hook."
    Their second album, Like to Get to Know You, was released in April 1968. Two singles were released: "Sunday Mornin'" in the spring, which reached #30, and "Like to Get to Know You", which reached #17 in the Summer 1968. The single's B-side, "Three Ways From Tomorrow", also received considerable airplay. The album included their rendition of "Stardust", and a version of "Everybody's Talkin'", best known as a hit single for Harry Nilsson and the theme song for the movie Midnight Cowboy.
    "Give a Damn" was released as a single in Summer 1968. In spite of not receiving airplay in several markets because of the curse word in its title - and because it was a comment on racial equality that became the theme song for the New York Urban Coalition - the song became a regional hit where released and overall made #43. It was also performed live on an episode of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, resulting in CBS Standards and Practices division receiving numerous complaints about the song's title being used during "family viewing hours". One such complaint reportedly came from Richard Nixon (Tom Smothers, 'Geraldo' Interview, 1987). "Give a Damn" would become John Lindsay's campaign song during his successful run for Mayor of New York.
    In October 1968, the group's lead guitarist Malcolm Hale died of carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty heating system (Hale's death has also been ascribed to bronchopneumonia) This was a devastating blow to the group. The multi-instrumentalist did much of the arranging and pretty well kept the band together. Hale's death, along with the group's satisfaction over what they had achieved already, led to the decision to disband early in 1969. Mercury released a third album, Anything You Choose b/w Without Rhythm or Reason, in January 1969. It contained two popular songs, the previous summer's hit "Give a Damn" and "Yesterday's Rain". The group briefly reformed in 1975 and recorded an album (Change) for the Epic label.
    After the band dissolved, McFarlane had some success as a solo artist. She toured with the Mamas & the Papas, largely singing the parts which had been those performed by the late Cass Elliot. She was most recently seen on stage in Ferndale Repertory Theatre's production of South Pacific portraying "Bloody Mary".

    Yesterday's Rain
    Yesterday's rain brings tomorrow's pain
    Going round my head,
    those feelings are dread
    love has lost, you payed the cost
    with a broken dream and still it seems
    I can't get out from under my cloud,
    and see the light of day.

    Yesterday's rain falls again and again,
    and makes me feel the worlds not real.

    Yesterday came
    just to bring me misery
    till I can see
    over my head,
    the darkness spreads
    to morning light
    that raised from the night.

    And all around the tears are falling,
    to the earth so hungry.

    Yesterday's rain falls again and again,
    and makes me feel the worlds not real.

    Spin to the ground,
    hearing not a sound,
    thoughts inside my head
    are going round and round.
    I got my mind made up,
    but I can't never go,
    friends all around me,
    and I'm still all alone.
    Running through the trees,
    my hands above my head,
    trying to escape the rest.

    Yesterday's rain falls again and again,
    and makes me feel the worlds not real.
    Over my head, the darkness spreads.

    Oh! Yesterday's rain brings tomorrow's pain
    Going round my head,
    those feelings are dread
    love has lost, you payed the cost.

    Yesterdays Rain...
    Yesterdays Rain...
    Yesterdays Rain...

    Enjoy this incredible song from one of the greatest artists of the sixties

    Spanky And Our Gang - Yesterday's Rain

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    Desert Island Playlist: The Eagle and the Hawk by John Denver

    Just got back from a two day workshop on assessing risk and treatment needs for sex offenders.  I put on my earphones and cranked the volume up on this great song by John Denver and just as the guy in the video, my natural reaction was to raise my hands to the sky.  I want to rise above, some days, and this song transports me.  Maybe the fact that one has to take a position sometimes out of what is and get a broader persspective.  Sometimes I feel the need to rise upward to get in touch with the universe and this is what this songs does for me.  Yes it's smaltzy but it gets me emotionally every time I hear it.

     I am the eagle, I live in high country
    In rocky cathedrals that reach to the sky
    I am the hawk and there's blood on my feathers
    But time is still turning they soon will be dry
    And all of those who see me, and all who believe in me
    Share in the freedom I feel when I fly

    Come dance with the west wind and touch on the mountain tops
    Sail o'er the canyons and up to the stars
    And reach for the heavens and hope for the future
    And all that we can be and not what we are

    John Denver - "The Eagle and the Hawk"

    Thursday, February 16, 2012

    The Prayer of the Children

    Desert Island Playlist: Prayer of the Children

    My next selection is one of the most beautiful songs I have heard.  The words reflect a longing to heal from trauma and grief.  They are written by a wonderful musician Kurt Bestor.  Kurt was an LDS misionary in Serbia.  He explained, " Having lived in this war-torn country back in the late 1970's, I grew to love the people with whom I lived. It didn't matter to me their ethnic origin - Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian - they were all just happy fun people to me and I counted as friends people from each region. Of course, I was always aware of the bigotry and ethnic differences that bubbled just below the surface, but I always hoped that the peace this rich country enjoyed would continue indefinitely. Obviously that didn't happen. When Yugoslavian President Josip Broz Tito died, different political factions jockeyed for position and the inevitable happened - civil war. Suddenly my friends were pitted against each other. Serbian brother wouldn't talk to Croatian sister-in-law. Bosnian mother disowned Serbian son-in-law and so it went. Meanwhile, all I could do was stay glued to the TV back in the US and sink deeper in a sense of hopelessness. Finally, one night I began channeling these deep feelings into a wordless melody. Then little by little I added words....Can you hear....? Can you feel......? I started with these feelings - sensations that the children struggling to live in this difficult time might be feeling. Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian children all felt the same feelings of confusion and sadness and it was for them that I was writing this song."  He added, ""Those children didn't hate anybody," he said. "They didn't care about who owned the land, or who had the power or the money. These are adult neuroses. They just wanted to have a mom and dad and a place to play."

    Can you hear the prayer of the children on bended knee, in the shadow of an unknown room? Empty eyes with no more tears to cry turning heavenward toward the light. Crying," Jesus, help me to see the morning light of one more day, but if I should die before I wake, I pray my soul to take." Can you feel the hearts of the children aching for home, for something of their very own. Reaching hands with nothing to hold onto but hope for a better day, a better day. Crying," Jesus, help me to feel the love again in my own land, but if unknown roads lead away from home, give me loving arms, away from harm." (oooooo la la la la etc etc.) Can you hear the voice of the children softly pleading for silence in their shattered world? Angry guns preach a gospel full of hate, blood of the innocent on their hands. Crying," Jesus, help me to feel the sun again upon my face? For when darkness clears, I know you're near, bringing peace again."
    Dali čujete sve dječje molitve?
    Can you hear the prayer of the children?

    Innovators - Prayer of the Children