American singer, songwriter and record producer
From the Henssler Financial Studio this is your news minute on the Marietta Daily Journal Podcast presented by Engineered Solutions of Georgia. Today is Monday, November 27th and I'm Keith Ippolito. Christmas Back Home Concert Series Comes to Marietta Dec. 16 Marietta native Scott Thompson is embarking on his Christmas Back Home concert series, featuring a mix of traditional and original Christmas songs in rock, reggae, jazz, and country styles. The tour kicks off in Rome on Dec. 8-9, moves to Marietta Performing Arts Center on Dec. 16, and concludes in Cartersville at the Grand Theater on Dec. 22. Inspired by cherished family holiday memories, Thompson, a Sprayberry High School graduate, and accomplished musician, aims to capture the magic of Christmas. With a career spanning over two decades, Thompson's performances reflect his Southern roots and draw from influences like James Brown, Sam Cooke, The Beatles, and Otis Redding. Tickets are available at ChristmasBackHome.com. For more news about our community, mdjonline.com. For the Marrietta Daily Journal Podcast I'm Keith Ippolito. https://www.esogrepair.com www.henssler.com #NewsPodcast #CurrentEvents #TopHeadlines #BreakingNews #PodcastDiscussion #PodcastNews #InDepthAnalysis #NewsAnalysis #PodcastTrending #WorldNews #LocalNews #GlobalNews #PodcastInsights #NewsBrief #PodcastUpdate #NewsRoundup #WeeklyNews #DailyNews #PodcastInterviews #HotTopics #PodcastOpinions #InvestigativeJournalism #BehindTheHeadlines #PodcastMedia #NewsStories #PodcastReports #JournalismMatters #PodcastPerspectives #NewsCommentary #PodcastListeners #NewsPodcastCommunity #NewsSource #PodcastCuration #WorldAffairs #PodcastUpdates #AudioNews #PodcastJournalism #EmergingStories #NewsFlash #PodcastConversationsSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
…el día nunca termina. Dicen que hoy es el día del músico, pero ¿qué es un músico sin una canción? Te ofrecemos una selección de canciones en donde las canciones y su magia son las protagonistas. (Foto del podcast por Hulton Deutsch) Playlist; (sintonía) THE RAVENS “Without a song” SAM COOKE “Having a party” SLY and THE FAMILY STONE “Sing a simple song” LINDA HOPKINS “The magic song” OTIS REDDING “The happy song (dum dum)” CHARLIE FEATHERS “It’as just that song” THE FOUR TOPS “Darling, I hum our song” JACKSON SLOAN feat VIC COLLINS “Old records” PAUL GAYTEN “The music goes round and round” THE HI-RISERS “I’m in love with my records collection” ARTHUR ALEXANDER “Without a song” SURF SCHOOL DROPOUTS “Favourite record” THE ROLLING STONES “The singer not the song” JOHNNY THUNDERS “I only wrote this song for you” LEONARD COHEN “Tower of song” LOUIS ARMSTRONG “The song is ended” DINAH WASHINGTON “Without a song” Escuchar audio
Single Going Around- Back To Mono Volume 5Mono records; played and transferred in mono. Play LOUD.The Kinks- "You Really Got Me"Esquerita- "I Need You"Pink Floyd- "Arnold Layne"The Monkees- "Mary, Mary"The Rolling Stones- "Get Off Of My Cloud"Jerry Lee Lewis- "Jambalaya"Otis Redding- "Nobody Knows You"Dave Clark Five- "I Like It Like It Like That"Booker T & The MGs- "Chinese Crackers"Chuck Berry- "Roll Over Bethoven"Johnny Cash- "Big River"The Doors- "Break On Through"Sonny & Cher- "It's Gonna Rain"The Beach Boys- "I Should Have Known Better"The Byrds- "Eight Miles High"Pink Floyd- "See Emily Play"The Beatles- "Within You Without You"Rolling Stones- "As Tears Go By"Booker T & The Mgs- "Twist and Shout"Otis Redding- "Scratch My Back"Chuck Berry- "Nadine"The Beach Boys- "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away"
He's worked with Donny Hathaway. That's it. That's all the intro he really ought to need. I mean can you IMAGINE being in the room with Donny singing? Too much. Ah but Jimmy has worked on music from Aretha, Otis Redding, The Rolling Stones not to mention his extensive collaboration with Timbaland. Yeah, Jimmy is heavy. What's more he's a very friendly and engaging chap that has a pioneering spirit and he is not overly nostalgic in that way that can hold a person back. No wonder he's been so busy and in demand for all these years. A true master. Jimmy's in the HOWA house (literally.. this was a rare face to face. So fun) The show is kindly sponsored again by the excellent Soundtoys. I delve into the world of the panman to do things other than just your average spinning. Micro nitty!
Billy Valentine é vocalista e compositor de Soul, Jazz e Blues. Mora em Los Angeles. Seu vocal, inconfundível, tem alcance de múltiplas oitavas que se encaixam diretamente entre Curtis Mayfield e Marvin Gaye. Billy Valentine nasceu William Denham na Virgínia Ocidental, mas foi criado em Columbus, Ohio. Seus pais eram donos de uma boate onde todos os seus 12 irmãos trabalhavam. Suas sete irmãs se revezavam no comando da caixa registradora e da bilheteria e seus cinco irmãos atuavam como ajudantes de palco, roadies e na banda da casa liderada por seu irmão mais velho, Alvin, um mestre do Hammond B-3. Ele foi quem mostrou ao jovem as melhores músicas de soul e jazz das décadas de 1960 e 1970. Profundamente influenciado por Otis Redding, Nat King Cole e Carmen McCrae, Valentine foi atraído e absorveu aprendendo a cantar com disciplina. Fundou com seu irmão a Valentine Brothers Durante a década de 1980, ele contribuiu com os vocais principais na trilha de Champions Forever, um documentário sobre Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier e George Foreman. Também produziu o single "Crazay" para Jesse Johnson e Sly Stone. No início da década de 1990, Valentine participou no longa-metragem de Robert Townsend, The Five Heartbeats. Em parceria de composição com Bob Thiele Jr. e Phil Roy co-escreveu "My World" para Ray Charles. Com Will Jennings, escreveu três canções do Neville Bros. do Álbum Family Groove. Em 2004, Valentine gravou a música tema de sucesso da série de TV Boston Legal, estrelada por William Shatner e James Spader. Em 2006, após mais de 30 anos no mundo da música, Valentine lançou Travelin' Light, seu primeiro álbum solo. Co-produzido pelo pianista Stuart Elster, o set contou com a participação do cantor com um trio de piano que tocava jazz nos padrões do Great American Songbook. Em 2007, ele revelou seu alcance estilístico com No Better Than This, um conjunto de músicas soul modernas compostas por originais e covers. Valentine já era um nome conhecido entre músicos, produtores, compositores, agentes e habitantes da vida noturna de Los Angeles. Em 2014, ele cantou "All along the Watchtower" de Bob Dylan em um episódio da série Sons of Anarchy de Kurt Sutter Em 2017, lançou o provocativo Brit Eyed Soul, cobrindo uma dúzia de músicas originadas no Reino Unido. A lista de faixas incluía revisões maravilhosamente estilizadas de sucessos de bandas como Rolling Stones, Beatles, Bee Gees, Culture Club, The Clash e mais. Em outubro, Valentine gravou a maravilhosa obra de arte "We Are the People Who Are Darker Than Blue", de Curtis Mayfield que está na playlist. Imperdível. O álbum ofereceu uma coleção diversificada de oito músicas clássicas de "protesto" soul de Stevie Wonder, Gaye, Scott-Heron, Prince, oferecidas no inimitável estilo emotivo de Valentine e apoiadas por um elenco de músicos de primeira, incluindo tenor saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, trumpeter Theo Croker, a bassist Linda May Han Oh, guitarist Jeff Parker, vibraphonist Joel Ross, percussionist Alex Acuña, pianist/keyboardist Larry Goldings, bassist Pino Palladino, and drummer James Gadsen Valentine homenageia Scott-Heron e o legado da gravadora Flying Dutchman com sua abordagem assustadora de “Home Is Where The Hatred Is”, um testamento comovente sobre as lutas para abandonar o abuso de substâncias. O rico legado continua com o fascinante cover de Valentine da canção de assinatura do saxofonista Pharaoh Sanders, “The Creator Has A Master Plan”, que originalmente apresentava o vocalista Leon Thomas. O álbum continua com a leitura comovente da obra-prima sócio-política de Prince de 1987, “Sign O' The Times”, seguida por uma versão mordaz do hit sarcástico de Stevie Wonder de 1974, “You Haven't Done Nothin'”. Valentine então se baseia em seu próprio passado com sua versão de “Wade In The Water”, uma música gospel do jubileu negro americano que foi regravada por muitos músicos. Uma música com assinatura do War de 1972, “The World Is a Ghetto” dá sequencia. --- Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/garimpandobolachas/message
Abrimos el territorio comanche Máximo Pradera, Miqui Otero, Antón Reixa, Núria Torreblanca, Santi Segurola y Noelia Adánez. Máximo pradera rinde homenaje a cantantes que tuvieron canciones póstuma como Otis Redding. Miqui Otero viene con el ensayo 'Amigocracia' que desvela cómo nació el brexit. Antón Reixa explica qué es la misofonía. Núria Torreblanca reflexiona de las amistades tóxicas. Santi Segurola habla de Taylor Swift y Noélia Adánez de unas señoras mayores que nadan.
This week sees Pete celebrate the music of The Beatles, with 2 hours of amazing covers featuring Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Ella Fitzgerald, The Supremes, PP Arnold and many more. Who doesn't love The Beatles? Please enjoy. Tune into new broadcasts of the Superfly Funk & Soul Show, LIVE, Friday from 10 AM - 12 PM EST / 3 - 5 PM GMT.For more info visit: https://thefaceradio.com/superfly-funk-and-soul-show///Dig this show? Please consider supporting The Face Radio: http://support.thefaceradio.com Support The Face Radio with PatreonSupport this show http://supporter.acast.com/thefaceradio. Join the family at https://plus.acast.com/s/thefaceradio. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
BrownTown again chops it up with the Hoodoisie fam, co-host Ricardo Gamboa and Executive Director Mia Carbajal for "Whiskey & Watching." The team deconstructs the darling 90's comedy-drama "I Like It Like That" (1994), the first large studio film directed by a Black woman. The film centers around an Afro-Latina woman in the Bronx whose life is turned upside down when her husband is arrested after trying to steal a radio during a blackout. While he's incarcerated, she is forced to find a way to survive and take care of her family. Through that process, she comes into her own power, changing the dynamics of their relationship and that of the whole neighborhood. From the technical cinematic aspects of the film to decolonial politics it offers, the squad explores how femininity and sexuality is presented, the messiness and necessity of restorative practices, the intersections and limits of adultism and masculinity, and framing the hood as a site for capitalist production. Through the complexity of it all, Ricardo reminds us that revolution is attainable in the universe of relationships and we are lucky enough to rehearse what that looks like. Originally recorded September 2023. GUESTSThe Hoodoisie (1, 2) is a block-optic, radically politicized, biweekly live news show based in a different gentrifying neighborhood every month. Ricardo and Charles invite artists, activists, comedians, saboteurs, political figures, culture makers, and musical guests to share their experiences, perspectives, and talents. The Hoodoisie gives "the chance for everyday people [particularly queer, working-class, and people of color] to engage in the discourse that shapes their lives that they're often excluded from.” Imagine if The Daily Show got hijacked by radical POC and queers and they brought along a DJ and a bar...that's the Hoodoisie. Come out for a conversation and follow Hoodoisie on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube! Follow Ricardo on Instagram and Twitter and Mia on Instagram and Twitter! CREDITS: Intro soundbite and episode photo from I Like It Like That by Pete Rodriguez. Outro music is Try A Little Tenderness by Otis Redding. Audio engineered by Kiera Battles.--Bourbon 'n BrownTownFacebook | Twitter | Instagram | Site | Linktree | PatreonSoapBox Productions and Organizing, 501(c)3Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Site | Linktree | Support
En la vida de los artistas ocurren numerosas anécdotas. Unas les ocurren cuando no son conocidos o están empezando, la época más dura, en las que cuando actúan nadie les hace caso o nadie va a verlos; o cuando hacen de teloneros con un público que lo que quiere es que terminen para ver la banda por la que realmente fueron. Pero también cuando son famosos, tienen sus anécdotas, traspiés, curiosidades e infortunios que convierten a ese concierto en concreto, en el peor de su historia. Los conciertos de rock son eventos emocionantes que a menudo cuentan con una gran participación de la audiencia y una energía palpable. A lo largo de la historia, ha habido innumerables conciertos de rock memorables que han dejado una huella indeleble en la cultura musical. Algunos de estos conciertos icónicos incluyen: * Woodstock (1969): El Festival de Woodstock se considera uno de los eventos más emblemáticos de la cultura del rock. Se llevó a cabo en una granja en Bethel, Nueva York, y contó con actuaciones legendarias de artistas como Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin y The Who. * Live Aid (1985): Este concierto benéfico simultáneo en el estadio de Wembley en Londres y el estadio John F. Kennedy en Filadelfia presentó a algunas de las bandas más grandes del mundo, incluyendo Queen, U2, Led Zeppelin y más. Fue un evento masivo que recaudó fondos para combatir la hambruna en África. * The Rolling Stones en Altamont (1969): Este concierto es tristemente conocido por la violencia y el caos que estalló entre el público y los Hells Angels contratados como seguridad. Fue un momento oscuro en la historia de los conciertos de rock. * Queen en el estadio de Wembley (1986): La actuación de Queen en el estadio de Wembley durante su gira "Magic Tour" es ampliamente considerada como una de las mejores actuaciones en vivo de la historia del rock. * The Beatles en el techo de Apple Records (1969): La última actuación en vivo de The Beatles tuvo lugar en la azotea de Apple Records en Londres. Este concierto sorpresa se convirtió en un evento icónico. * Monterey Pop Festival (1967): Este festival fue un precursor de Woodstock y presentó a artistas como Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Janis Joplin y Otis Redding. * Led Zeppelin en el Madison Square Garden (1973): La banda británica dio una legendaria actuación en el Madison Square Garden de Nueva York durante su gira de 1973. * Nirvana en el Reading Festival (1992): La actuación de Nirvana en el Festival de Reading en 1992 es una de las más emblemáticas de la banda y un hito en la historia del grunge. * The Who en la Universidad de Leeds (1970): Este concierto es conocido por su energía y su reputación como una de las mejores actuaciones en vivo de The Who. * Bruce Springsteen en el Super Bowl (2009): La actuación de Bruce Springsteen en el espectáculo de medio tiempo del Super Bowl en 2009 es ampliamente elogiada como una de las mejores actuaciones en la historia de ese evento. Estos son solo algunos ejemplos de conciertos de rock que han dejado una huella en la cultura musical. Cada uno de ellos tiene su propio lugar en la historia del rock, ya sea por su música, su atmósfera o su impacto cultural. Otros temas en el programa de esta semana: 1:25:53 Asfixia erótica 1:46:31 Estoicismo y Felicidad La pirámide inmortal - Capítulo 42 Puedes leer más y comentar en mi web, en el enlace directo: https://luisbermejo.com/conciertos-de-rock-zz-podcast-05x10/ Puedes encontrarme y comentar o enviar tu mensaje o preguntar en: WhatsApp: +34 613031122 Paypal: https://paypal.me/Bermejo Bizum: +34613031122 Web: https://luisbermejo.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ZZPodcast/ X (twitters): https://x.com/LuisBermejo y https://x.com/zz_podcast Instagrams: https://www.instagram.com/luisbermejo/ y https://www.instagram.com/zz_podcast/ Canal Telegram: https://t.me/ZZ_Podcast Canal WhatsApp: https://whatsapp.com/channel/0029Va89ttE6buMPHIIure1H Grupo Signal: https://signal.group/#CjQKIHTVyCK430A0dRu_O55cdjRQzmE1qIk36tCdsHHXgYveEhCuPeJhP3PoAqEpKurq_mAc Grupo Whatsapp: https://chat.whatsapp.com/FQadHkgRn00BzSbZzhNviThttps://chat.whatsapp.com/BNHYlv0p0XX7K4YOrOLei0
Episode 169 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Piece of My Heart" and the short, tragic life of Janis Joplin. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a half-hour bonus episode available, on "Spinning Wheel" by Blood, Sweat & Tears. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Resources There are two Mixcloud mixes this time. As there are so many songs by Big Brother and the Holding Company and Janis Joplin excerpted, and Mixcloud won't allow more than four songs by the same artist in any mix, I've had to post the songs not in quite the same order in which they appear in the podcast. But the mixes are here — one, two . For information on Janis Joplin I used three biographies -- Scars of Sweet Paradise by Alice Echols, Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren, and Buried Alive by Myra Friedman. I also referred to the chapter '“Being Good Isn't Always Easy": Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Dusty Springfield, and the Color of Soul' in Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination by Jack Hamilton. Some information on Bessie Smith came from Bessie Smith by Jackie Kay, a book I can't really recommend given the lack of fact-checking, and Bessie by Chris Albertson. I also referred to Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday by Angela Y. Davis And the best place to start with Joplin's music is this five-CD box, which contains both Big Brother and the Holding Company albums she was involved in, plus her two studio albums and bonus tracks. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript Before I start, this episode contains discussion of drug addiction and overdose, alcoholism, mental illness, domestic abuse, child abandonment, and racism. If those subjects are likely to cause you upset, you may want to check the transcript or skip this one rather than listen. Also, a subject I should probably say a little more about in this intro because I know I have inadvertently caused upset to at least one listener with this in the past. When it comes to Janis Joplin, it is *impossible* to talk about her without discussing her issues with her weight and self-image. The way I write often involves me paraphrasing the opinions of the people I'm writing about, in a mode known as close third person, and sometimes that means it can look like I am stating those opinions as my own, and sometimes things I say in that mode which *I* think are obviously meant in context to be critiques of those attitudes can appear to others to be replicating them. At least once, I have seriously upset a fat listener when talking about issues related to weight in this manner. I'm going to try to be more careful here, but just in case, I'm going to say before I begin that I think fatphobia is a pernicious form of bigotry, as bad as any other form of bigotry. I'm fat myself and well aware of how systemic discrimination affects fat people. I also think more generally that the pressure put on women to look a particular way is pernicious and disgusting in ways I can't even begin to verbalise, and causes untold harm. If *ANYTHING* I say in this episode comes across as sounding otherwise, that's because I haven't expressed myself clearly enough. Like all people, Janis Joplin had negative characteristics, and at times I'm going to say things that are critical of those. But when it comes to anything to do with her weight or her appearance, if *anything* I say sounds critical of her, rather than of a society that makes women feel awful for their appearance, it isn't meant to. Anyway, on with the show. On January the nineteenth, 1943, Seth Joplin typed up a letter to his wife Dorothy, which read “I wish to tender my congratulations on the anniversary of your successful completion of your production quota for the nine months ending January 19, 1943. I realize that you passed through a period of inflation such as you had never before known—yet, in spite of this, you met your goal by your supreme effort during the early hours of January 19, a good three weeks ahead of schedule.” As you can probably tell from that message, the Joplin family were a strange mixture of ultraconformism and eccentricity, and those two opposing forces would dominate the personality of their firstborn daughter for the whole of her life. Seth Joplin was a respected engineer at Texaco, where he worked for forty years, but he had actually dropped out of engineering school before completing his degree. His favourite pastime when he wasn't at work was to read -- he was a voracious reader -- and to listen to classical music, which would often move him to tears, but he had also taught himself to make bathtub gin during prohibition, and smoked cannabis. Dorothy, meanwhile, had had the possibility of a singing career before deciding to settle down and become a housewife, and was known for having a particularly beautiful soprano voice. Both were, by all accounts, fiercely intelligent people, but they were also as committed as anyone to the ideals of the middle-class family even as they chafed against its restrictions. Like her mother, young Janis had a beautiful soprano voice, and she became a soloist in her church choir, but after the age of six, she was not encouraged to sing much. Dorothy had had a thyroid operation which destroyed her singing voice, and the family got rid of their piano soon after (different sources say that this was either because Dorothy found her daughter's singing painful now that she couldn't sing herself, or because Seth was upset that his wife could no longer sing. Either seems plausible.) Janis was pushed to be a high-achiever -- she was given a library card as soon as she could write her name, and encouraged to use it, and she was soon advanced in school, skipping a couple of grades. She was also by all accounts a fiercely talented painter, and her parents paid for art lessons. From everything one reads about her pre-teen years, she was a child prodigy who was loved by everyone and who was clearly going to be a success of some kind. Things started to change when she reached her teenage years. Partly, this was just her getting into rock and roll music, which her father thought a fad -- though even there, she differed from her peers. She loved Elvis, but when she heard "Hound Dog", she loved it so much that she tracked down a copy of Big Mama Thornton's original, and told her friends she preferred that: [Excerpt: Big Mama Thornton, "Hound Dog"] Despite this, she was still also an exemplary student and overachiever. But by the time she turned fourteen, things started to go very wrong for her. Partly this was just down to her relationship with her father changing -- she adored him, but he became more distant from his daughters as they grew into women. But also, puberty had an almost wholly negative effect on her, at least by the standards of that time and place. She put on weight (which, again, I do not think is a negative thing, but she did, and so did everyone around her), she got a bad case of acne which didn't ever really go away, and she also didn't develop breasts particularly quickly -- which, given that she was a couple of years younger than the other people in the same classes at school, meant she stood out even more. In the mid-sixties, a doctor apparently diagnosed her as having a "hormone imbalance" -- something that got to her as a possible explanation for why she was, to quote from a letter she wrote then, "not really a woman or enough of one or something." She wondered if "maybe something as simple as a pill could have helped out or even changed that part of me I call ME and has been so messed up.” I'm not a doctor and even if I were, diagnosing historical figures is an unethical thing to do, but certainly the acne, weight gain, and mental health problems she had are all consistent with PCOS, the most common endocrine disorder among women, and it seems likely given what the doctor told her that this was the cause. But at the time all she knew was that she was different, and that in the eyes of her fellow students she had gone from being pretty to being ugly. She seems to have been a very trusting, naive, person who was often the brunt of jokes but who desperately needed to be accepted, and it became clear that her appearance wasn't going to let her fit into the conformist society she was being brought up in, while her high intelligence, low impulse control, and curiosity meant she couldn't even fade into the background. This left her one other option, and she decided that she would deliberately try to look and act as different from everyone else as possible. That way, it would be a conscious choice on her part to reject the standards of her fellow pupils, rather than her being rejected by them. She started to admire rebels. She became a big fan of Jerry Lee Lewis, whose music combined the country music she'd grown up hearing in Texas, the R&B she liked now, and the rebellious nature she was trying to cultivate: [Excerpt: Jerry Lee Lewis, "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On"] When Lewis' career was derailed by his marriage to his teenage cousin, Joplin wrote an angry letter to Time magazine complaining that they had mistreated him in their coverage. But as with so many people of her generation, her love of rock and roll music led her first to the blues and then to folk, and she soon found herself listening to Odetta: [Excerpt: Odetta, "Muleskinner Blues"] One of her first experiences of realising she could gain acceptance from her peers by singing was when she was hanging out with the small group of Bohemian teenagers she was friendly with, and sang an Odetta song, mimicking her voice exactly. But young Janis Joplin was listening to an eclectic range of folk music, and could mimic more than just Odetta. For all that her later vocal style was hugely influenced by Odetta and by other Black singers like Big Mama Thornton and Etta James, her friends in her late teens and early twenties remember her as a vocal chameleon with an achingly pure soprano, who would more often than Odetta be imitating the great Appalachian traditional folk singer Jean Ritchie: [Excerpt: Jean Ritchie, "Lord Randall"] She was, in short, trying her best to become a Beatnik, despite not having any experience of that subculture other than what she read in books -- though she *did* read about them in books, devouring things like Kerouac's On The Road. She came into conflict with her mother, who didn't understand what was happening to her daughter, and who tried to get family counselling to understand what was going on. Her father, who seemed to relate more to Janis, but who was more quietly eccentric, put an end to that, but Janis would still for the rest of her life talk about how her mother had taken her to doctors who thought she was going to end up "either in jail or an insane asylum" to use her words. From this point on, and for the rest of her life, she was torn between a need for approval from her family and her peers, and a knowledge that no matter what she did she couldn't fit in with normal societal expectations. In high school she was a member of the Future Nurses of America, the Future Teachers of America, the Art Club, and Slide Rule Club, but she also had a reputation as a wild girl, and as sexually active (even though by all accounts at this point she was far less so than most of the so-called "good girls" – but her later activity was in part because she felt that if she was going to have that reputation anyway she might as well earn it). She also was known to express radical opinions, like that segregation was wrong, an opinion that the other students in her segregated Texan school didn't even think was wrong, but possibly some sort of sign of mental illness. Her final High School yearbook didn't contain a single other student's signature. And her initial choice of university, Lamar State College of Technology, was not much better. In the next town over, and attended by many of the same students, it had much the same attitudes as the school she'd left. Almost the only long-term effect her initial attendance at university had on her was a negative one -- she found there was another student at the college who was better at painting. Deciding that if she wasn't going to be the best at something she didn't want to do it at all, she more or less gave up on painting at that point. But there was one positive. One of the lecturers at Lamar was Francis Edward "Ab" Abernethy, who would in the early seventies go on to become the Secretary and Editor of the Texas Folklore Society, and was also a passionate folk musician, playing double bass in string bands. Abernethy had a great collection of blues 78s. and it was through this collection that Janis first discovered classic blues, and in particular Bessie Smith: [Excerpt: Bessie Smith, "Black Mountain Blues"] A couple of episodes ago, we had a long look at the history of the music that now gets called "the blues" -- the music that's based around guitars, and generally involves a solo male vocalist, usually Black during its classic period. At the time that music was being made though it wouldn't have been thought of as "the blues" with no modifiers by most people who were aware of it. At the start, even the songs they were playing weren't thought of as blues by the male vocalist/guitarists who played them -- they called the songs they played "reels". The music released by people like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Son House, Robert Johnson, Kokomo Arnold and so on was thought of as blues music, and people would understand and agree with a phrase like "Lonnie Johnson is a blues singer", but it wasn't the first thing people thought of when they talked about "the blues". Until relatively late -- probably some time in the 1960s -- if you wanted to talk about blues music made by Black men with guitars and only that music, you talked about "country blues". If you thought about "the blues", with no qualifiers, you thought about a rather different style of music, one that white record collectors started later to refer to as "classic blues" to differentiate it from what they were now calling "the blues". Nowadays of course if you say "classic blues", most people will think you mean Muddy Waters or John Lee Hooker, people who were contemporary at the time those white record collectors were coming up with their labels, and so that style of music gets referred to as "vaudeville blues", or as "classic female blues": [Excerpt: Mamie Smith, "Crazy Blues"] What we just heard was the first big blues hit performed by a Black person, from 1920, and as we discussed in the episode on "Crossroads" that revolutionised the whole record industry when it came out. The song was performed by Mamie Smith, a vaudeville performer, and was originally titled "Harlem Blues" by its writer, Perry Bradford, before he changed the title to "Crazy Blues" to get it to a wider audience. Bradford was an important figure in the vaudeville scene, though other than being the credited writer of "Keep A-Knockin'" he's little known these days. He was a Black musician and grew up playing in minstrel shows (the history of minstrelsy is a topic for another day, but it's more complicated than the simple image of blackface that we are aware of today -- though as with many "more complicated than that" things it is, also the simple image of blackface we're aware of). He was the person who persuaded OKeh records that there would be a market for music made by Black people that sounded Black (though as we're going to see in this episode, what "sounding Black" means is a rather loaded question). "Crazy Blues" was the result, and it was a massive hit, even though it was marketed specifically towards Black listeners: [Excerpt: Mamie Smith, "Crazy Blues"] The big stars of the early years of recorded blues were all making records in the shadow of "Crazy Blues", and in the case of its very biggest stars, they were working very much in the same mould. The two most important blues stars of the twenties both got their start in vaudeville, and were both women. Ma Rainey, like Mamie Smith, first performed in minstrel shows, but where Mamie Smith's early records had her largely backed by white musicians, Rainey was largely backed by Black musicians, including on several tracks Louis Armstrong: [Excerpt: Ma Rainey, "See See Rider"] Rainey's band was initially led by Thomas Dorsey, one of the most important men in American music, who we've talked about before in several episodes, including the last one. He was possibly the single most important figure in two different genres -- hokum music, when he, under the name "Georgia Tom" recorded "It's Tight Like That" with Tampa Red: [Excerpt: Tampa Red and Georgia Tom, "It's Tight Like That"] And of course gospel music, which to all intents and purposes he invented, and much of whose repertoire he wrote: [Excerpt: Mahalia Jackson, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord"] When Dorsey left Rainey's band, as we discussed right back in episode five, he was replaced by a female pianist, Lil Henderson. The blues was a woman's genre. And Ma Rainey was, by preference, a woman's woman, though she was married to a man: [Excerpt: Ma Rainey, "Prove it on Me"] So was the biggest star of the classic blues era, who was originally mentored by Rainey. Bessie Smith, like Rainey, was a queer woman who had relationships with men but was far more interested in other women. There were stories that Bessie Smith actually got her start in the business by being kidnapped by Ma Rainey, and forced into performing on the same bills as her in the vaudeville show she was touring in, and that Rainey taught Smith to sing blues in the process. In truth, Rainey mentored Smith more in stagecraft and the ways of the road than in singing, and neither woman was only a blues singer, though both had huge success with their blues records. Indeed, since Rainey was already in the show, Smith was initially hired as a dancer rather than a singer, and she also worked as a male impersonator. But Smith soon branched out on her own -- from the beginning she was obviously a star. The great jazz clarinettist Sidney Bechet later said of her "She had this trouble in her, this thing that would not let her rest sometimes, a meanness that came and took her over. But what she had was alive … Bessie, she just wouldn't let herself be; it seemed she couldn't let herself be." Bessie Smith was signed by Columbia Records in 1923, as part of the rush to find and record as many Black women blues singers as possible. Her first recording session produced "Downhearted Blues", which became, depending on which sources you read, either the biggest-selling blues record since "Crazy Blues" or the biggest-selling blues record ever, full stop, selling three quarters of a million copies in the six months after its release: [Excerpt: Bessie Smith, "Downhearted Blues"] Smith didn't make royalties off record sales, only making a flat fee, but she became the most popular Black performer of the 1920s. Columbia signed her to an exclusive contract, and she became so rich that she would literally travel between gigs on her own private train. She lived an extravagant life in every way, giving lavishly to her friends and family, but also drinking extraordinary amounts of liquor, having regular affairs, and also often physically or verbally attacking those around her. By all accounts she was not a comfortable person to be around, and she seemed to be trying to fit an entire lifetime into every moment. From 1923 through 1929 she had a string of massive hits. She recorded material in a variety of styles, including the dirty blues: [Excerpt: Bessie Smith, "Empty Bed Blues] And with accompanists like Louis Armstrong: [Excerpt: Bessie Smith with Louis Armstrong, "Cold in Hand Blues"] But the music for which she became best known, and which sold the best, was when she sang about being mistreated by men, as on one of her biggest hits, "'Tain't Nobody's Biz-Ness if I Do" -- and a warning here, I'm going to play a clip of the song, which treats domestic violence in a way that may be upsetting: [Excerpt: Bessie Smith, "'Tain't Nobody's Biz-Ness if I Do"] That kind of material can often seem horrifying to today's listeners -- and quite correctly so, as domestic violence is a horrifying thing -- and it sounds entirely too excusing of the man beating her up for anyone to find it comfortable listening. But the Black feminist scholar Angela Davis has made a convincing case that while these records, and others by Smith's contemporaries, can't reasonably be considered to be feminist, they *are* at the very least more progressive than they now seem, in that they were, even if excusing it, pointing to a real problem which was otherwise left unspoken. And that kind of domestic violence and abuse *was* a real problem, including in Smith's own life. By all accounts she was terrified of her husband, Jack Gee, who would frequently attack her because of her affairs with other people, mostly women. But she was still devastated when he left her for a younger woman, not only because he had left her, but also because he kidnapped their adopted son and had him put into a care home, falsely claiming she had abused him. Not only that, but before Jack left her closest friend had been Jack's niece Ruby and after the split she never saw Ruby again -- though after her death Ruby tried to have a blues career as "Ruby Smith", taking her aunt's surname and recording a few tracks with Sammy Price, the piano player who worked with Sister Rosetta Tharpe: [Excerpt: Ruby Smith with Sammy Price, "Make Me Love You"] The same month, May 1929, that Gee left her, Smith recorded what was to become her last big hit, and most well-known song, "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out": [Excerpt: Bessie Smith, "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out"] And that could have been the theme for the rest of her life. A few months after that record came out, the Depression hit, pretty much killing the market for blues records. She carried on recording until 1931, but the records weren't selling any more. And at the same time, the talkies came in in the film industry, which along with the Depression ended up devastating the vaudeville audience. Her earnings were still higher than most, but only a quarter of what they had been a year or two earlier. She had one last recording session in 1933, produced by John Hammond for OKeh Records, where she showed that her style had developed over the years -- it was now incorporating the newer swing style, and featured future swing stars Benny Goodman and Jack Teagarden in the backing band: [Excerpt: Bessie Smith, "Gimme a Pigfoot"] Hammond was not hugely impressed with the recordings, preferring her earlier records, and they would be the last she would ever make. She continued as a successful, though no longer record-breaking, live act until 1937, when she and her common-law husband, Lionel Hampton's uncle Richard Morgan, were in a car crash. Morgan escaped, but Smith died of her injuries and was buried on October the fourth 1937. Ten thousand people came to her funeral, but she was buried in an unmarked grave -- she was still legally married to Gee, even though they'd been separated for eight years, and while he supposedly later became rich from songwriting royalties from some of her songs (most of her songs were written by other people, but she wrote a few herself) he refused to pay for a headstone for her. Indeed on more than one occasion he embezzled money that had been raised by other people to provide a headstone. Bessie Smith soon became Joplin's favourite singer of all time, and she started trying to copy her vocals. But other than discovering Smith's music, Joplin seems to have had as terrible a time at university as at school, and soon dropped out and moved back in with her parents. She went to business school for a short while, where she learned some secretarial skills, and then she moved west, going to LA where two of her aunts lived, to see if she could thrive better in a big West Coast city than she did in small-town Texas. Soon she moved from LA to Venice Beach, and from there had a brief sojourn in San Francisco, where she tried to live out her beatnik fantasies at a time when the beatnik culture was starting to fall apart. She did, while she was there, start smoking cannabis, though she never got a taste for that drug, and took Benzedrine and started drinking much more heavily than she had before. She soon lost her job, moved back to Texas, and re-enrolled at the same college she'd been at before. But now she'd had a taste of real Bohemian life -- she'd been singing at coffee houses, and having affairs with both men and women -- and soon she decided to transfer to the University of Texas at Austin. At this point, Austin was very far from the cultural centre it has become in recent decades, and it was still a straitlaced Texan town, but it was far less so than Port Arthur, and she soon found herself in a folk group, the Waller Creek Boys. Janis would play autoharp and sing, sometimes Bessie Smith covers, but also the more commercial country and folk music that was popular at the time, like "Silver Threads and Golden Needles", a song that had originally been recorded by Wanda Jackson but at that time was a big hit for Dusty Springfield's group The Springfields: [Excerpt: The Waller Creek Boys, "Silver Threads and Golden Needles"] But even there, Joplin didn't fit in comfortably. The venue where the folk jams were taking place was a segregated venue, as everywhere around Austin was. And she was enough of a misfit that the campus newspaper did an article on her headlined "She Dares to Be Different!", which read in part "She goes barefooted when she feels like it, wears Levi's to class because they're more comfortable, and carries her Autoharp with her everywhere she goes so that in case she gets the urge to break out into song it will be handy." There was a small group of wannabe-Beatniks, including Chet Helms, who we've mentioned previously in the Grateful Dead episode, Gilbert Shelton, who went on to be a pioneer of alternative comics and create the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, and Shelton's partner in Rip-Off Press, Dave Moriarty, but for the most part the atmosphere in Austin was only slightly better for Janis than it had been in Port Arthur. The final straw for her came when in an annual charity fundraiser joke competition to find the ugliest man on campus, someone nominated her for the "award". She'd had enough of Texas. She wanted to go back to California. She and Chet Helms, who had dropped out of the university earlier and who, like her, had already spent some time on the West Coast, decided to hitch-hike together to San Francisco. Before leaving, she made a recording for her ex-girlfriend Julie Paul, a country and western musician, of a song she'd written herself. It's recorded in what many say was Janis' natural voice -- a voice she deliberately altered in performance in later years because, she would tell people, she didn't think there was room for her singing like that in an industry that already had Joan Baez and Judy Collins. In her early years she would alternate between singing like this and doing her imitations of Black women, but the character of Janis Joplin who would become famous never sang like this. It may well be the most honest thing that she ever recorded, and the most revealing of who she really was: [Excerpt: Janis Joplin, "So Sad to Be Alone"] Joplin and Helms made it to San Francisco, and she started performing at open-mic nights and folk clubs around the Bay Area, singing in her Bessie Smith and Odetta imitation voice, and sometimes making a great deal of money by sounding different from the wispier-voiced women who were the norm at those venues. The two friends parted ways, and she started performing with two other folk musicians, Larry Hanks and Roger Perkins, and she insisted that they would play at least one Bessie Smith song at every performance: [Excerpt: Janis Joplin, Larry Hanks, and Roger Perkins, "Black Mountain Blues (live in San Francisco)"] Often the trio would be joined by Billy Roberts, who at that time had just started performing the song that would make his name, "Hey Joe", and Joplin was soon part of the folk scene in the Bay Area, and admired by Dino Valenti, David Crosby, and Jerry Garcia among others. She also sang a lot with Jorma Kaukonnen, and recordings of the two of them together have circulated for years: [Excerpt: Janis Joplin and Jorma Kaukonnen, "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out"] Through 1963, 1964, and early 1965 Joplin ping-ponged from coast to coast, spending time in the Bay Area, then Greenwich Village, dropping in on her parents then back to the Bay Area, and she started taking vast quantities of methamphetamine. Even before moving to San Francisco she had been an occasional user of amphetamines – at the time they were regularly prescribed to students as study aids during exam periods, and she had also been taking them to try to lose some of the weight she always hated. But while she was living in San Francisco she became dependent on the drug. At one point her father was worried enough about her health to visit her in San Francisco, where she managed to fool him that she was more or less OK. But she looked to him for reassurance that things would get better for her, and he couldn't give it to her. He told her about a concept that he called the "Saturday night swindle", the idea that you work all week so you can go out and have fun on Saturday in the hope that that will make up for everything else, but that it never does. She had occasional misses with what would have been lucky breaks -- at one point she was in a motorcycle accident just as record labels were interested in signing her, and by the time she got out of the hospital the chance had gone. She became engaged to another speed freak, one who claimed to be an engineer and from a well-off background, but she was becoming severely ill from what was by now a dangerous amphetamine habit, and in May 1965 she decided to move back in with her parents, get clean, and have a normal life. Her new fiance was going to do the same, and they were going to have the conformist life her parents had always wanted, and which she had always wanted to want. Surely with a husband who loved her she could find a way to fit in and just be normal. She kicked the addiction, and wrote her fiance long letters describing everything about her family and the new normal life they were going to have together, and they show her painfully trying to be optimistic about the future, like one where she described her family to him: "My mother—Dorothy—worries so and loves her children dearly. Republican and Methodist, very sincere, speaks in clichés which she really means and is very good to people. (She thinks you have a lovely voice and is terribly prepared to like you.) My father—richer than when I knew him and kind of embarrassed about it—very well read—history his passion—quiet and very excited to have me home because I'm bright and we can talk (about antimatter yet—that impressed him)! I keep telling him how smart you are and how proud I am of you.…" She went back to Lamar, her mother started sewing her a wedding dress, and for much of the year she believed her fiance was going to be her knight in shining armour. But as it happened, the fiance in question was described by everyone else who knew him as a compulsive liar and con man, who persuaded her father to give him money for supposed medical tests before the wedding, but in reality was apparently married to someone else and having a baby with a third woman. After the engagement was broken off, she started performing again around the coffeehouses in Austin and Houston, and she started to realise the possibilities of rock music for her kind of performance. The missing clue came from a group from Austin who she became very friendly with, the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, and the way their lead singer Roky Erickson would wail and yell: [Excerpt: The 13th Floor Elevators, "You're Gonna Miss Me (live)"] If, as now seemed inevitable, Janis was going to make a living as a performer, maybe she should start singing rock music, because it seemed like there was money in it. There was even some talk of her singing with the Elevators. But then an old friend came to Austin from San Francisco with word from Chet Helms. A blues band had formed, and were looking for a singer, and they remembered her from the coffee houses. Would she like to go back to San Francisco and sing with them? In the time she'd been away, Helms had become hugely prominent in the San Francisco music scene, which had changed radically. A band from the area called the Charlatans had been playing a fake-Victorian saloon called the Red Dog in nearby Nevada, and had become massive with the people who a few years earlier had been beatniks: [Excerpt: The Charlatans, "32-20"] When their residency at the Red Dog had finished, several of the crowd who had been regulars there had become a collective of sorts called the Family Dog, and Helms had become their unofficial leader. And there's actually a lot packed into that choice of name. As we'll see in a few future episodes, a lot of West Coast hippies eventually started calling their collectives and communes families. This started as a way to get round bureaucracy -- if a helpful welfare officer put down that the unrelated people living in a house together were a family, suddenly they could get food stamps. As with many things, of course, the label then affected how people thought about themselves, and one thing that's very notable about the San Francisco scene hippies in particular is that they are some of the first people to make a big deal about what we now call "found family" or "family of choice". But it's also notable how often the hippie found families took their model from the only families these largely middle-class dropouts had ever known, and structured themselves around men going out and doing the work -- selling dope or panhandling or being rock musicians or shoplifting -- with the women staying at home doing the housework. The Family Dog started promoting shows, with the intention of turning San Francisco into "the American Liverpool", and soon Helms was rivalled only by Bill Graham as the major promoter of rock shows in the Bay Area. And now he wanted Janis to come back and join this new band. But Janis was worried. She was clean now. She drank far too much, but she wasn't doing any other drugs. She couldn't go back to San Francisco and risk getting back on methamphetamine. She needn't worry about that, she was told, nobody in San Francisco did speed any more, they were all on LSD -- a drug she hated and so wasn't in any danger from. Reassured, she made the trip back to San Francisco, to join Big Brother and the Holding Company. Big Brother and the Holding Company were the epitome of San Francisco acid rock at the time. They were the house band at the Avalon Ballroom, which Helms ran, and their first ever gig had been at the Trips Festival, which we talked about briefly in the Grateful Dead episode. They were known for being more imaginative than competent -- lead guitarist James Gurley was often described as playing parts that were influenced by John Cage, but was equally often, and equally accurately, described as not actually being able to keep his guitar in tune because he was too stoned. But they were drawing massive crowds with their instrumental freak-out rock music. Helms thought they needed a singer, and he had remembered Joplin, who a few of the group had seen playing the coffee houses. He decided she would be perfect for them, though Joplin wasn't so sure. She thought it was worth a shot, but as she wrote to her parents before meeting the group "Supposed to rehearse w/ the band this afternoon, after that I guess I'll know whether I want to stay & do that for awhile. Right now my position is ambivalent—I'm glad I came, nice to see the city, a few friends, but I'm not at all sold on the idea of becoming the poor man's Cher.” In that letter she also wrote "I'm awfully sorry to be such a disappointment to you. I understand your fears at my coming here & must admit I share them, but I really do think there's an awfully good chance I won't blow it this time." The band she met up with consisted of lead guitarist James Gurley, bass player Peter Albin, rhythm player Sam Andrew, and drummer David Getz. To start with, Peter Albin sang lead on most songs, with Joplin adding yelps and screams modelled on those of Roky Erickson, but in her first gig with the band she bowled everyone over with her lead vocal on the traditional spiritual "Down on Me", which would remain a staple of their live act, as in this live recording from 1968: [Excerpt: Big Brother and the Holding Company, "Down on Me (Live 1968)"] After that first gig in June 1966, it was obvious that Joplin was going to be a star, and was going to be the group's main lead vocalist. She had developed a whole new stage persona a million miles away from her folk performances. As Chet Helms said “Suddenly this person who would stand upright with her fists clenched was all over the stage. Roky Erickson had modeled himself after the screaming style of Little Richard, and Janis's initial stage presence came from Roky, and ultimately Little Richard. It was a very different Janis.” Joplin would always claim to journalists that her stage persona was just her being herself and natural, but she worked hard on every aspect of her performance, and far from the untrained emotional outpouring she always suggested, her vocal performances were carefully calculated pastiches of her influences -- mostly Bessie Smith, but also Big Mama Thornton, Odetta, Etta James, Tina Turner, and Otis Redding. That's not to say that those performances weren't an authentic expression of part of herself -- they absolutely were. But the ethos that dominated San Francisco in the mid-sixties prized self-expression over technical craft, and so Joplin had to portray herself as a freak of nature who just had to let all her emotions out, a wild woman, rather than someone who carefully worked out every nuance of her performances. Joplin actually got the chance to meet one of her idols when she discovered that Willie Mae Thornton was now living and regularly performing in the Bay Area. She and some of her bandmates saw Big Mama play a small jazz club, where she performed a song she wouldn't release on a record for another two years: [Excerpt: Big Mama Thornton, "Ball 'n' Chain"] Janis loved the song and scribbled down the lyrics, then went backstage to ask Big Mama if Big Brother could cover the song. She gave them her blessing, but told them "don't" -- and here she used a word I can't use with a clean rating -- "it up". The group all moved in together, communally, with their partners -- those who had them. Janis was currently single, having dumped her most recent boyfriend after discovering him shooting speed, as she was still determined to stay clean. But she was rapidly discovering that the claim that San Franciscans no longer used much speed had perhaps not been entirely true, as for example Sam Andrew's girlfriend went by the nickname Speedfreak Rita. For now, Janis was still largely clean, but she did start drinking more. Partly this was because of a brief fling with Pigpen from the Grateful Dead, who lived nearby. Janis liked Pigpen as someone else on the scene who didn't much like psychedelics or cannabis -- she didn't like drugs that made her think more, but only drugs that made her able to *stop* thinking (her love of amphetamines doesn't seem to fit this pattern, but a small percentage of people have a different reaction to amphetamine-type stimulants, perhaps she was one of those). Pigpen was a big drinker of Southern Comfort -- so much so that it would kill him within a few years -- and Janis started joining him. Her relationship with Pigpen didn't last long, but the two would remain close, and she would often join the Grateful Dead on stage over the years to duet with him on "Turn On Your Lovelight": [Excerpt: Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead, "Turn on Your Lovelight"] But within two months of joining the band, Janis nearly left. Paul Rothchild of Elektra Records came to see the group live, and was impressed by their singer, but not by the rest of the band. This was something that would happen again and again over the group's career. The group were all imaginative and creative -- they worked together on their arrangements and their long instrumental jams and often brought in very good ideas -- but they were not the most disciplined or technically skilled of musicians, even when you factored in their heavy drug use, and often lacked the skill to pull off their better ideas. They were hugely popular among the crowds at the Avalon Ballroom, who were on the group's chemical wavelength, but Rothchild was not impressed -- as he was, in general, unimpressed with psychedelic freakouts. He was already of the belief in summer 1966 that the fashion for extended experimental freak-outs would soon come to an end and that there would be a pendulum swing back towards more structured and melodic music. As we saw in the episode on The Band, he would be proved right in a little over a year, but being ahead of the curve he wanted to put together a supergroup that would be able to ride that coming wave, a group that would play old-fashioned blues. He'd got together Stefan Grossman, Steve Mann, and Taj Mahal, and he wanted Joplin to be the female vocalist for the group, dueting with Mahal. She attended one rehearsal, and the new group sounded great. Elektra Records offered to sign them, pay their rent while they rehearsed, and have a major promotional campaign for their first release. Joplin was very, very, tempted, and brought the subject up to her bandmates in Big Brother. They were devastated. They were a family! You don't leave your family! She was meant to be with them forever! They eventually got her to agree to put off the decision at least until after a residency they'd been booked for in Chicago, and she decided to give them the chance, writing to her parents "I decided to stay w/the group but still like to think about the other thing. Trying to figure out which is musically more marketable because my being good isn't enough, I've got to be in a good vehicle.” The trip to Chicago was a disaster. They found that the people of Chicago weren't hugely interested in seeing a bunch of white Californians play the blues, and that the Midwest didn't have the same Bohemian crowds that the coastal cities they were used to had, and so their freak-outs didn't go down well either. After two weeks of their four-week residency, the club owner stopped paying them because they were so unpopular, and they had no money to get home. And then they were approached by Bob Shad. (For those who know the film Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, the Bob Shad in that film is named after this one -- Judd Apatow, the film's director, is Shad's grandson) This Shad was a record producer, who had worked with people like Big Bill Broonzy, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, and Billy Eckstine over an eighteen-year career, and had recently set up a new label, Mainstream Records. He wanted to sign Big Brother and the Holding Company. They needed money and... well, it was a record contract! It was a contract that took half their publishing, paid them a five percent royalty on sales, and gave them no advance, but it was still a contract, and they'd get union scale for the first session. In that first session in Chicago, they recorded four songs, and strangely only one, "Down on Me", had a solo Janis vocal. Of the other three songs, Sam Andrew and Janis dueted on Sam's song "Call on Me", Albin sang lead on the group composition "Blindman", and Gurley and Janis sang a cover of "All Is Loneliness", a song originally by the avant-garde street musician Moondog: [Excerpt: Big Brother and the Holding Company, "All is Loneliness"] The group weren't happy with the four songs they recorded -- they had to keep the songs to the length of a single, and the engineers made sure that the needles never went into the red, so their guitars sounded far more polite and less distorted than they were used to. Janis was fascinated by the overdubbing process, though, especially double-tracking, which she'd never tried before but which she turned out to be remarkably good at. And they were now signed to a contract, which meant that Janis wouldn't be leaving the group to go solo any time soon. The family were going to stay together. But on the group's return to San Francisco, Janis started doing speed again, encouraged by the people around the group, particularly Gurley's wife. By the time the group's first single, "Blindman" backed with "All is Loneliness", came out, she was an addict again. That initial single did nothing, but the group were fast becoming one of the most popular in the Bay Area, and almost entirely down to Janis' vocals and on-stage persona. Bob Shad had already decided in the initial session that while various band members had taken lead, Janis was the one who should be focused on as the star, and when they drove to LA for their second recording session it was songs with Janis leads that they focused on. At that second session, in which they recorded ten tracks in two days, the group recorded a mix of material including one of Janis' own songs, the blues track "Women is Losers", and a version of the old folk song "the Cuckoo Bird" rearranged by Albin. Again they had to keep the arrangements to two and a half minutes a track, with no extended soloing and a pop arrangement style, and the results sound a lot more like the other San Francisco bands, notably Jefferson Airplane, than like the version of the band that shows itself in their live performances: [Excerpt: Big Brother and the Holding Company, "Coo Coo"] After returning to San Francisco after the sessions, Janis went to see Otis Redding at the Fillmore, turning up several hours before the show started on all three nights to make sure she could be right at the front. One of the other audience members later recalled “It was more fascinating for me, almost, to watch Janis watching Otis, because you could tell that she wasn't just listening to him, she was studying something. There was some kind of educational thing going on there. I was jumping around like the little hippie girl I was, thinking This is so great! and it just stopped me in my tracks—because all of a sudden Janis drew you very deeply into what the performance was all about. Watching her watch Otis Redding was an education in itself.” Joplin would, for the rest of her life, always say that Otis Redding was her all-time favourite singer, and would say “I started singing rhythmically, and now I'm learning from Otis Redding to push a song instead of just sliding over it.” [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "I Can't Turn You Loose (live)"] At the start of 1967, the group moved out of the rural house they'd been sharing and into separate apartments around Haight-Ashbury, and they brought the new year in by playing a free show organised by the Hell's Angels, the violent motorcycle gang who at the time were very close with the proto-hippies in the Bay Area. Janis in particular always got on well with the Angels, whose drugs of choice, like hers, were speed and alcohol more than cannabis and psychedelics. Janis also started what would be the longest on-again off-again relationship she would ever have, with a woman named Peggy Caserta. Caserta had a primary partner, but that if anything added to her appeal for Joplin -- Caserta's partner Kimmie had previously been in a relationship with Joan Baez, and Joplin, who had an intense insecurity that made her jealous of any other female singer who had any success, saw this as in some way a validation both of her sexuality and, transitively, of her talent. If she was dating Baez's ex's lover, that in some way put her on a par with Baez, and when she told friends about Peggy, Janis would always slip that fact in. Joplin and Caserta would see each other off and on for the rest of Joplin's life, but they were never in a monogamous relationship, and Joplin had many other lovers over the years. The next of these was Country Joe McDonald of Country Joe and the Fish, who were just in the process of recording their first album Electric Music for the Mind and Body, when McDonald and Joplin first got together: [Excerpt: Country Joe and the Fish, "Grace"] McDonald would later reminisce about lying with Joplin, listening to one of the first underground FM radio stations, KMPX, and them playing a Fish track and a Big Brother track back to back. Big Brother's second single, the other two songs recorded in the Chicago session, had been released in early 1967, and the B-side, "Down on Me", was getting a bit of airplay in San Francisco and made the local charts, though it did nothing outside the Bay Area: [Excerpt: Big Brother and the Holding Company, "Down on Me"] Janis was unhappy with the record, though, writing to her parents and saying, “Our new record is out. We seem to be pretty dissatisfied w/it. I think we're going to try & get out of the record contract if we can. We don't feel that they know how to promote or engineer a record & every time we recorded for them, they get all our songs, which means we can't do them for another record company. But then if our new record does something, we'd change our mind. But somehow, I don't think it's going to." The band apparently saw a lawyer to see if they could get out of the contract with Mainstream, but they were told it was airtight. They were tied to Bob Shad no matter what for the next five years. Janis and McDonald didn't stay together for long -- they clashed about his politics and her greater fame -- but after they split, she asked him to write a song for her before they became too distant, and he obliged and recorded it on the Fish's next album: [Excerpt: Country Joe and the Fish, "Janis"] The group were becoming so popular by late spring 1967 that when Richard Lester, the director of the Beatles' films among many other classics, came to San Francisco to film Petulia, his follow-up to How I Won The War, he chose them, along with the Grateful Dead, to appear in performance segments in the film. But it would be another filmmaker that would change the course of the group's career irrevocably: [Excerpt: Scott McKenzie, "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)"] When Big Brother and the Holding Company played the Monterey Pop Festival, nobody had any great expectations. They were second on the bill on the Saturday, the day that had been put aside for the San Francisco acts, and they were playing in the early afternoon, after a largely unimpressive night before. They had a reputation among the San Francisco crowd, of course, but they weren't even as big as the Grateful Dead, Moby Grape or Country Joe and the Fish, let alone Jefferson Airplane. Monterey launched four careers to new heights, but three of the superstars it made -- Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, and the Who -- already had successful careers. Hendrix and the Who had had hits in the UK but not yet broken the US market, while Redding was massively popular with Black people but hadn't yet crossed over to a white audience. Big Brother and the Holding Company, on the other hand, were so unimportant that D.A. Pennebaker didn't even film their set -- their manager at the time had not wanted to sign over the rights to film their performance, something that several of the other acts had also refused -- and nobody had been bothered enough to make an issue of it. Pennebaker just took some crowd shots and didn't bother filming the band. The main thing he caught was Cass Elliot's open-mouthed astonishment at Big Brother's performance -- or rather at Janis Joplin's performance. The members of the group would later complain, not entirely inaccurately, that in the reviews of their performance at Monterey, Joplin's left nipple (the outline of which was apparently visible through her shirt, at least to the male reviewers who took an inordinate interest in such things) got more attention than her four bandmates combined. As Pennebaker later said “She came out and sang, and my hair stood on end. We were told we weren't allowed to shoot it, but I knew if we didn't have Janis in the film, the film would be a wash. Afterward, I said to Albert Grossman, ‘Talk to her manager or break his leg or whatever you have to do, because we've got to have her in this film. I can't imagine this film without this woman who I just saw perform.” Grossman had a talk with the organisers of the festival, Lou Adler and John Phillips, and they offered Big Brother a second spot, the next day, if they would allow their performance to be used in the film. The group agreed, after much discussion between Janis and Grossman, and against the wishes of their manager: [Excerpt: Big Brother and the Holding Company, "Ball and Chain (live at Monterey)"] They were now on Albert Grossman's radar. Or at least, Janis Joplin was. Joplin had always been more of a careerist than the other members of the group. They were in music to have a good time and to avoid working a straight job, and while some of them were more accomplished musicians than their later reputations would suggest -- Sam Andrew, in particular, was a skilled player and serious student of music -- they were fundamentally content with playing the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore and making five hundred dollars or so a week between them. Very good money for 1967, but nothing else. Joplin, on the other hand, was someone who absolutely craved success. She wanted to prove to her family that she wasn't a failure and that her eccentricity shouldn't stop them being proud of her; she was always, even at the depths of her addictions, fiscally prudent and concerned about her finances; and she had a deep craving for love. Everyone who talks about her talks about how she had an aching need at all times for approval, connection, and validation, which she got on stage more than she got anywhere else. The bigger the audience, the more they must love her. She'd made all her decisions thus far based on how to balance making music that she loved with commercial success, and this would continue to be the pattern for her in future. And so when journalists started to want to talk to her, even though up to that point Albin, who did most of the on-stage announcements, and Gurley, the lead guitarist, had considered themselves joint leaders of the band, she was eager. And she was also eager to get rid of their manager, who continued the awkward streak that had prevented their first performance at the Monterey Pop Festival from being filmed. The group had the chance to play the Hollywood Bowl -- Bill Graham was putting on a "San Francisco Sound" showcase there, featuring Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, and got their verbal agreement to play, but after Graham had the posters printed up, their manager refused to sign the contracts unless they were given more time on stage. The next day after that, they played Monterey again -- this time the Monterey Jazz Festival. A very different crowd to the Pop Festival still fell for Janis' performance -- and once again, the film being made of the event didn't include Big Brother's set because of their manager. While all this was going on, the group's recordings from the previous year were rushed out by Mainstream Records as an album, to poor reviews which complained it was nothing like the group's set at Monterey: [Excerpt: Big Brother and the Holding Company, "Bye Bye Baby"] They were going to need to get out of that contract and sign with somewhere better -- Clive Davis at Columbia Records was already encouraging them to sign with him -- but to do that, they needed a better manager. They needed Albert Grossman. Grossman was one of the best negotiators in the business at that point, but he was also someone who had a genuine love for the music his clients made. And he had good taste -- he managed Odetta, who Janis idolised as a singer, and Bob Dylan, who she'd been a fan of since his first album came out. He was going to be the perfect manager for the group. But he had one condition though. His first wife had been a heroin addict, and he'd just been dealing with Mike Bloomfield's heroin habit. He had one absolutely ironclad rule, a dealbreaker that would stop him signing them -- they didn't use heroin, did they? Both Gurley and Joplin had used heroin on occasion -- Joplin had only just started, introduced to the drug by Gurley -- but they were only dabblers. They could give it up any time they wanted, right? Of course they could. They told him, in perfect sincerity, that the band didn't use heroin and it wouldn't be a problem. But other than that, Grossman was extremely flexible. He explained to the group at their first meeting that he took a higher percentage than other managers, but that he would also make them more money than other managers -- if money was what they wanted. He told them that they needed to figure out where they wanted their career to be, and what they were willing to do to get there -- would they be happy just playing the same kind of venues they were now, maybe for a little more money, or did they want to be as big as Dylan or Peter, Paul, and Mary? He could get them to whatever level they wanted, and he was happy with working with clients at every level, what did they actually want? The group were agreed -- they wanted to be rich. They decided to test him. They were making twenty-five thousand dollars a year between them at that time, so they got ridiculously ambitious. They told him they wanted to make a *lot* of money. Indeed, they wanted a clause in their contract saying the contract would be void if in the first year they didn't make... thinking of a ridiculous amount, they came up with seventy-five thousand dollars. Grossman's response was to shrug and say "Make it a hundred thousand." The group were now famous and mixing with superstars -- Peter Tork of the Monkees had become a close friend of Janis', and when they played a residency in LA they were invited to John and Michelle Phillips' house to see a rough cut of Monterey Pop. But the group, other than Janis, were horrified -- the film barely showed the other band members at all, just Janis. Dave Getz said later "We assumed we'd appear in the movie as a band, but seeing it was a shock. It was all Janis. They saw her as a superstar in the making. I realized that though we were finally going to be making money and go to another level, it also meant our little family was being separated—there was Janis, and there was the band.” [Excerpt: Big Brother and the Holding Company, "Bye Bye Baby"] If the group were going to make that hundred thousand dollars a year, they couldn't remain on Mainstream Records, but Bob Shad was not about to give up his rights to what could potentially be the biggest group in America without a fight. But luckily for the group, Clive Davis at Columbia had seen their Monterey performance, and he was also trying to pivot the label towards the new rock music. He was basically willing to do anything to get them. Eventually Columbia agreed to pay Shad two hundred thousand dollars for the group's contract -- Davis and Grossman negotiated so half that was an advance on the group's future earnings, but the other half was just an expense for the label. On top of that the group got an advance payment of fifty thousand dollars for their first album for Columbia, making a total investment by Columbia of a quarter of a million dollars -- in return for which they got to sign the band, and got the rights to the material they'd recorded for Mainstream, though Shad would get a two percent royalty on their first two albums for Columbia. Janis was intimidated by signing for Columbia, because that had been Aretha Franklin's label before she signed to Atlantic, and she regarded Franklin as the greatest performer in music at that time. Which may have had something to do with the choice of a new song the group added to their setlist in early 1968 -- one which was a current hit for Aretha's sister Erma: [Excerpt: Erma Franklin, "Piece of My Heart"] We talked a little in the last episode about the song "Piece of My Heart" itself, though mostly from the perspective of its performer, Erma Franklin. But the song was, as we mentioned, co-written by Bert Berns. He's someone we've talked about a little bit in previous episodes, notably the ones on "Here Comes the Night" and "Twist and Shout", but those were a couple of years ago, and he's about to become a major figure in the next episode, so we might as well take a moment here to remind listeners (or tell those who haven't heard those episodes) of the basics and explain where "Piece of My Heart" comes in Berns' work as a whole. Bert Berns was a latecomer to the music industry, not getting properly started until he was thirty-one, after trying a variety of other occupations. But when he did get started, he wasted no time making his mark -- he knew he had no time to waste. He had a weak heart and knew the likelihood was he was going to die young. He started an association with Wand records as a songwriter and performer, writing songs for some of Phil Spector's pre-fame recordings, and he also started producing records for Atlantic, where for a long while he was almost the equal of Jerry Wexler or Leiber and Stoller in terms of number of massive hits created. His records with Solomon Burke were the records that first got the R&B genre renamed soul (previously the word "soul" mostly referred to a kind of R&Bish jazz, rather than a kind of gospel-ish R&B). He'd also been one of the few American music industry professionals to work with British bands before the Beatles made it big in the USA, after he became alerted to the Beatles' success with his song "Twist and Shout", which he'd co-written with Phil Medley, and which had been a hit in a version Berns produced for the Isley Brothers: [Excerpt: The Isley Brothers, "Twist and Shout"] That song shows the two elements that existed in nearly every single Bert Berns song or production. The first is the Afro-Caribbean rhythm, a feel he picked up during a stint in Cuba in his twenties. Other people in the Atlantic records team were also partial to those rhythms -- Leiber and Stoller loved what they called the baion rhythm -- but Berns more than anyone else made it his signature. He also very specifically loved the song "La Bamba", especially Ritchie Valens' version of it: [Excerpt: Ritchie Valens, "La Bamba"] He basically seemed to think that was the greatest record ever made, and he certainly loved that three-chord trick I-IV-V-IV chord sequence -- almost but not quite the same as the "Louie Louie" one. He used it in nearly every song he wrote from that point on -- usually using a bassline that went something like this: [plays I-IV-V-IV bassline] He used it in "Twist and Shout" of course: [Excerpt: The Isley Brothers, "Twist and Shout"] He used it in "Hang on Sloopy": [Excerpt: The McCoys, "Hang on Sloopy"] He *could* get more harmonically sophisticated on occasion, but the vast majority of Berns' songs show the power of simplicity. They're usually based around three chords, and often they're actually only two chords, like "I Want Candy": [Excerpt: The Strangeloves, "I Want Candy"] Or the chorus to "Here Comes the Night" by Them, which is two chords for most of it and only introduces a third right at the end: [Excerpt: Them, "Here Comes the Night"] And even in that song you can hear the "Twist and Shout"/"La Bamba" feel, even if it's not exactly the same chords. Berns' whole career was essentially a way of wringing *every last possible drop* out of all the implications of Ritchie Valens' record. And so even when he did a more harmonically complex song, like "Piece of My Heart", which actually has some minor chords in the bridge, the "La Bamba" chord sequence is used in both the verse: [Excerpt: Erma Franklin, "Piece of My Heart"] And the chorus: [Excerpt: Erma Franklin, "Piece of My Heart"] Berns co-wrote “Piece of My Heart” with Jerry Ragavoy. Berns and Ragavoy had also written "Cry Baby" for Garnet Mimms, which was another Joplin favourite: [Excerpt: Garnet Mimms, "Cry Baby"] And Ragavoy, with other collaborators
THE ARWEN LEWIS SHOW - Featuring Stacy Antonel Nashville artist Stacy Antonel makes clever, country-leaning Americana that feels vintage and hyper-modern. Her “country jazz” vocals conjure the great singers of the 20s-30s, with the emotive power of country icon Patsy Cline. Rooted in classic country and laced with jazz, pop, and R&B elements, Antonel's narrative songs often feature unconventional themes. Antonel grew up near San Diego studying classical piano and cites an eclectic range of early musical inspiration: Tori Amos's peculiar phrasing, Otis Redding's rich melodic hooks. After winning the televised singing contest “3 Minutes to Stardom”, Antonel quit her job to focus full-time on music. She began performing classic country covers as Ginger Cowgirl, and in 2017 moved to Nashville to record her self-titled debut EP, which was released in 2019. The album was praised by critics and led to tours in California, the Southeast, the UK, and Germany. Antonel's debut full-length Always the Outsider drops June 2022 under her own name, an eclectic, otherworldly Americana collection of “outsider anthems” exploring concepts like alien romance and past lives as well as everyday emotions like isolation and disconnectedness. Produced by Ben Moore (Hot Snakes, Diamanda Galas, Burt Bacharach), the modern-retro country album features Antonel's distinctively jazzy vocals alongside virtuosic instrumentation by Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams) on pedal steel, Joe Reed (Merle Haggard) on bass, and guitarist Paul Sgroi. Follow and listen to Stacy Antonel on her website: https://www.stacyantonel.com The Arwen Lewis Show Host | Arwen Lewis Executive Producer | Jeremiah D. Higgins Producer - Sound Engineer - Richard “Dr. D” Dugan https://arwenlewismusic.com/ The Arwen Lewis Show is Brought to you by John DeNicola and Omad Records https://www.omadrecords.com/ On Instagram, Follow Arwen Lewis Here: @thearwenlewisshow @arwenlewis www.thejeremiahshow.com On Instagram @jeremiahdhiggins https://linktr.ee/jeremiahdhiggins
1. Fleetwood Mac 2. Carolynn Mark And NQ Arbuckle 3. The Bats 4. Phosphorescent 5. Paul Simon 6. Mermaidens 7. Nikki Lane 8. Justin Townes Earle 9. Shovels And Rope 10. The National 11. Otis Redding 12. Tall Dwarfs 13. Misfits 14. Smashing Pumpkins 15. Pretenders 16. Mumm-Ra
Producer Christian Nesmith & Glenn Gretlund “7a Records” discuss the new release of Micky Dolenz ”Dolenz Sings R.E.M.”, a 4 track EP released on November 3rd. The EP is comprised of songs R.E.M. wrote throughout their career, all beautifully reimagined by Dolenz and producer Christian Nesmith.The EP features fresh and completely new arrangements of some of R.E.M.'s most memorable and catchy songs. As Dolenz says: “Once again, this EP reaffirms my long-held conviction that a solid recording always begins with solid material. You don't get much more solid than R.E.M. What a joy to sing these classics and honor a team of outstanding writers.” Links in show notes Originally aired 10/17/23"7a" can be found at https://www.7arecords.com/ Get Andrew's book here. Go to http://beatlandbooks.com/ "Join our Facebook page If you cannot see the audio controls, listen/download the audio file here Download (right click, save as)We are proud to announce "Dolenz Sings R.E.M.", a four-track EP by Micky Dolenz released on November 3rd. The EP is comprised of songs R.E.M. wrote throughout their career, all beautifully reimagined by Micky Dolenz and producer Christian Nesmith. You can order your copy on CD and 180g Yellow Vinyl now from the shops below, or get a signed copy straight from Micky at https://www.mickydolenz.com : U.S.A. CD & Vinyl: https://www.importcds.com/search?q=Dolenz+sings+rem&mod=AP United Kingdom: CD & Vinyl: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=dolenz+sings+REM&crid=1PXI7IMU3O4X4&sprefix=dolenz+sings+rem%2Caps%2C75&ref=nb_sb_noss_1 Canada: CD: https://www.amazon.ca/Dolenz-Sings-R-M-Micky/dp/B0CHBBKR3D/ref=sr_1_1?crid=11BAQB6FXPSJB&keywords=Dolenz+sings+rem&qid=1694692833&sprefix=dolenz+sings+rem%2Caps%2C228&sr=8-1 Vinyl: https://www.amazon.ca/Dolenz-Sings-R-M-Yellow/dp/B0CHBD11JF/ref=tmm_vnl_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1694692833&sr=8-1 Japan: CD: https://www.amazon.co.jp/-/en/Micky-Dolenz/dp/B0CHBBKR3D/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?crid=2M1JUJ2TYVL01&keywords=dolens+sings+rem&qid=1694692920&sprefix=dolenz+sings+rem%2Caps%2C222&sr=8-1-fkmr1 Vinyl: https://www.amazon.co.jp/-/en/Micky-Dolenz/dp/B0CHBD11JF/ref=tmm_vnl_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1694692920&sr=8-1-fkmr1 Germany: CD: https://www.jpc.de/jpcng/poprock/detail/-/art/micky-dolenz-dolenz-sings-r-e-m/hnum/11593539 Vinyl: https://www.jpc.de/jpcng/poprock/detail/-/art/micky-dolenz-dolenz-sings-r-e-m/hnum/11593542 Scandinavia: CD: https://imusic.dk/music/5060209950600/micky-dolenz-2023-dolenz-sings-r-e-m-cd Vinyl: https://imusic.dk/music/5060209950617/micky-dolenz-2023-dolenz-sings-r-e-m-lp For all other territories, please see Amazon and all good record shops. Dolenz Sings R.E.M. The EP features fresh and completely new arrangements of some of R.E.M.'s most memorable and catchy songs. As Dolenz says: “Once again, this EP reaffirms my long-held conviction that a solid recording always begins with solid material. You don't get much more solid than R.E.M. What a joy to sing these classics and honor a team of outstanding writers.” 7A Records' CEO Glenn Gretlund adds: “R.E.M. and Micky Dolenz are a match made in heaven and I'm delighted with how the recordings have turned out. Micky's voice sounds better than ever and Christian Nesmith has done a wonderful job in reimagining the arrangements.” The EP is released on 180g Yellow Vinyl, CD and on all Digital platforms on November 3rd. New Book - "I'm Told I Had A Good Time" The EP release directly coincides with the publication of Micky Dolenz's latest book: I'm Told I Had Good Time – The Micky Dolenz Archives, Volume One. Comprised of more than 1200 rare and unpublished images from Micky's private collection, this 500-page book includes photos and memorabilia spanning 1945-1978, including hundreds of images Micky shot himself of the other Monkees (Davy Jones, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith) as well as Jimi Hendrix, Harry Nilsson, Otis Redding, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Alice Cooper and many more. The book (available in three distinct editions) can be preordered now from https://Beatlandbooks.com "Shiny Happy People" Digital Single The digital single from the E.P, “Shiny Happy People”, is available to download and stream from all major digital platforms now. You can watch the music video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKSRntMvqMQ R.E.M. Reactions to the EP: “These songs are ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. Micky Dolenz covering R.E.M. Monkees style; I have died and gone to heaven. This is really something. Shiny Happy People sounds INCREDIBLE (never thought you or I would hear me say that!!!). Give it a spin. It's wild. And produced by Christian Nesmith (son of Michael Nesmith), I am finally complete”. Michael Stipe "That voice---one of the main voices of my musical awakening---singing our songs... it is beyond awesome. Let's help make this as huge as we possibly can. I am beyond thrilled." Mike Mills "I've been listening to Micky's singing since I was nine years old. It's unreal to hear that very voice, adding new depth to songs we've written ourselves, and inhabiting them so completely." Peter Buck "I am blown away! Micky and Christian just take these tracks to unexpected places”. Scott McCaughey Availability Dolenz Sings R.E.M. is released November 3rd worldwide. It's available to pre-order now on 12” 180g Yellow Vinyl, CD and Digital Platforms, through all good online retailers and local record stores. Fans can also order signed copies through Micky Dolenz's own shop: mickydolenz.com We were born to love one another. 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Cover versions – always fascinating!! Occasionally, an artist will cover an obscure song, or a deep cut by another artist and make it their own. But what about when the song has ALREADY been a hit? Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't; sometimes it ends up in court! This episode, we're looking at examples of all three. Our “Album You Must Hear Before You Die” is, believe it or not, “And other bits of material” by Paper Lace, the most successful band to come out of Nottingham, UK. The hit single from the album, “The Night Chicago Died” topped the Billboard Hot 100 and sold over three million copies! Who'd have thought it? Jeff also follows up with some rock news looking at Ozzy Osbourne and Bruce Springsteen's efforts to stay on the stage. References: Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, The Beatles, A Hard Day's Night, Lennon & McCartney, cover versions, “Blowin' in the Wind”, Peter Paul and Mary, Leonard Cohen, “Suzanne”, The Great American Songbook, Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis, All Along the Watchtower, Knockin' on Heaven's Door, Mr. Tambourine Man, Tainted Love, Soft Cell, Gloria Jones, Me and Bobby McGee, Janis Joplin, “Pearl”, “Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay”, Otis Redding, Kris Kristofferson, I Love Rock 'n' Roll, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, The Arrows, Sex Pistols, Steve Jones, Paul Cook, Without You, Badfinger, Harry Nilsson, Mariah Carey, Led Zeppelin, Nobody's Fault but Mine, Joan Baez, Anne Bredon, “In my time of dying”, Blind Willie Johnson, “Dazed and Confused”, Jake Holmes, Inspired by Jake Holmes, David Bennett Piano, Whole Lotta Love” Muddy Waters, You Need Love, Willie Dixon, The Small Faces, “You Need Loving”, “Rock'n'Roll”, Little Richard, “Keep a-Knockin'”, Stairway to Heaven, Taurus, Spirit, back-payment of royalties to the original artist, Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen, John Cale, “I'm Your Fan”, Jeff Buckley, I Will Always Love You, Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, The First Cut is the Deepest, Rod Stewart, Cat Stevens, Reason to Believe, Tim Hardin, The Man Who Sold the World, David Bowie, Nirvana, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Cyndi Lauper, Robert Hazard, Love Hurts, Nazareth, Everly Brothers, Turn the Page, Jon English, Metallica, Bob Seger, A Hazy Shade of Winter, Bangles, Simon & Garfunkel, I'm a Believer, The Monkees, Neil Diamond, RESPECT, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Moonlighting, Bruce Willis, David Addison Bob Dylan, cover versions, Peter Paul and Mary, Leonard Cohen, Tainted Love, Without You, Led Zeppelin, Jake Holmes, Hallelujah, John Cale, RESPECT, Aretha Franklin Episode PlaylistYouTube Links:Jake Holmes - Dazed and Confused TrumpI Live Rock and Roll - Joan KirnerOnce in a LifetimeDavid Bennett Pian - 8 Led Zeppelin songs that "rip off" other songs The Man Who Sold the World - Nirvana
Episode 168 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “I Say a Little Prayer”, and the interaction of the sacred, political, and secular in Aretha Franklin's life and work. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a forty-five-minute bonus episode available, on "Abraham, Martin, and John" by Dion. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Resources No Mixcloud this week, as there are too many songs by Aretha Franklin. Even splitting it into multiple parts would have required six or seven mixes. My main biographical source for Aretha Franklin is Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin by David Ritz, and this is where most of the quotes from musicians come from. Information on C.L. Franklin came from Singing in a Strange Land: C. L. Franklin, the Black Church, and the Transformation of America by Nick Salvatore. Country Soul by Charles L Hughes is a great overview of the soul music made in Muscle Shoals, Memphis, and Nashville in the sixties. Peter Guralnick's Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm And Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom is possibly less essential, but still definitely worth reading. Information about Martin Luther King came from Martin Luther King: A Religious Life by Paul Harvey. I also referred to Burt Bacharach's autobiography Anyone Who Had a Heart, Carole King's autobiography A Natural Woman, and Soul Serenade: King Curtis and his Immortal Saxophone by Timothy R. Hoover. For information about Amazing Grace I also used Aaron Cohen's 33 1/3 book on the album. The film of the concerts is also definitely worth watching. And the Aretha Now album is available in this five-album box set for a ludicrously cheap price. But it's actually worth getting this nineteen-CD set with her first sixteen Atlantic albums and a couple of bonus discs of demos and outtakes. There's barely a duff track in the whole nineteen discs. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript A quick warning before I begin. This episode contains some moderate references to domestic abuse, death by cancer, racial violence, police violence, and political assassination. Anyone who might be upset by those subjects might want to check the transcript rather than listening to the episode. Also, as with the previous episode on Aretha Franklin, this episode presents something of a problem. Like many people in this narrative, Franklin's career was affected by personal troubles, which shaped many of her decisions. But where most of the subjects of the podcast have chosen to live their lives in public and share intimate details of every aspect of their personal lives, Franklin was an extremely private person, who chose to share only carefully sanitised versions of her life, and tried as far as possible to keep things to herself. This of course presents a dilemma for anyone who wants to tell her story -- because even though the information is out there in biographies, and even though she's dead, it's not right to disrespect someone's wish for a private life. I have therefore tried, wherever possible, to stay away from talk of her personal life except where it *absolutely* affects the work, or where other people involved have publicly shared their own stories, and even there I've tried to keep it to a minimum. This will occasionally lead to me saying less about some topics than other people might, even though the information is easily findable, because I don't think we have an absolute right to invade someone else's privacy for entertainment. When we left Aretha Franklin, she had just finally broken through into the mainstream after a decade of performing, with a version of Otis Redding's song "Respect" on which she had been backed by her sisters, Erma and Carolyn. "Respect", in Franklin's interpretation, had been turned from a rather chauvinist song about a man demanding respect from his woman into an anthem of feminism, of Black power, and of a new political awakening. For white people of a certain generation, the summer of 1967 was "the summer of love". For many Black people, it was rather different. There's a quote that goes around (I've seen it credited in reliable sources to both Ebony and Jet magazine, but not ever seen an issue cited, so I can't say for sure where it came from) saying that the summer of 67 was the summer of "'retha, Rap, and revolt", referring to the trifecta of Aretha Franklin, the Black power leader Jamil Abdullah al-Amin (who was at the time known as H. Rap Brown, a name he later disclaimed) and the rioting that broke out in several major cities, particularly in Detroit: [Excerpt: John Lee Hooker, "The Motor City is Burning"] The mid sixties were, in many ways, the high point not of Black rights in the US -- for the most part there has been a lot of progress in civil rights in the intervening decades, though not without inevitable setbacks and attacks from the far right, and as movements like the Black Lives Matter movement have shown there is still a long way to go -- but of *hope* for Black rights. The moral force of the arguments made by the civil rights movement were starting to cause real change to happen for Black people in the US for the first time since the Reconstruction nearly a century before. But those changes weren't happening fast enough, and as we heard in the episode on "I Was Made to Love Her", there was not only a growing unrest among Black people, but a recognition that it was actually possible for things to change. A combination of hope and frustration can be a powerful catalyst, and whether Franklin wanted it or not, she was at the centre of things, both because of her newfound prominence as a star with a hit single that couldn't be interpreted as anything other than a political statement and because of her intimate family connections to the struggle. Even the most racist of white people these days pays lip service to the memory of Dr Martin Luther King, and when they do they quote just a handful of sentences from one speech King made in 1963, as if that sums up the full theological and political philosophy of that most complex of men. And as we discussed the last time we looked at Aretha Franklin, King gave versions of that speech, the "I Have a Dream" speech, twice. The most famous version was at the March on Washington, but the first time was a few weeks earlier, at what was at the time the largest civil rights demonstration in American history, in Detroit. Aretha's family connection to that event is made clear by the very opening of King's speech: [Excerpt: Martin Luther King, "Original 'I Have a Dream' Speech"] So as summer 1967 got into swing, and white rock music was going to San Francisco to wear flowers in its hair, Aretha Franklin was at the centre of a very different kind of youth revolution. Franklin's second Atlantic album, Aretha Arrives, brought in some new personnel to the team that had recorded Aretha's first album for Atlantic. Along with the core Muscle Shoals players Jimmy Johnson, Spooner Oldham, Tommy Cogbill and Roger Hawkins, and a horn section led by King Curtis, Wexler and Dowd also brought in guitarist Joe South. South was a white session player from Georgia, who had had a few minor hits himself in the fifties -- he'd got his start recording a cover version of "The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor", the Big Bopper's B-side to "Chantilly Lace": [Excerpt: Joe South, "The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor"] He'd also written a few songs that had been recorded by people like Gene Vincent, but he'd mostly become a session player. He'd become a favourite musician of Bob Johnston's, and so he'd played guitar on Simon and Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence and Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme albums: [Excerpt: Simon and Garfunkel, "I am a Rock"] and bass on Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, with Al Kooper particularly praising his playing on "Visions of Johanna": [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Visions of Johanna"] South would be the principal guitarist on this and Franklin's next album, before his own career took off in 1968 with "Games People Play": [Excerpt: Joe South, "Games People Play"] At this point, he had already written the other song he's best known for, "Hush", which later became a hit for Deep Purple: [Excerpt: Deep Purple, "Hush"] But he wasn't very well known, and was surprised to get the call for the Aretha Franklin session, especially because, as he put it "I was white and I was about to play behind the blackest genius since Ray Charles" But Jerry Wexler had told him that Franklin didn't care about the race of the musicians she played with, and South settled in as soon as Franklin smiled at him when he played a good guitar lick on her version of the blues standard "Going Down Slow": [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Going Down Slow"] That was one of the few times Franklin smiled in those sessions though. Becoming an overnight success after years of trying and failing to make a name for herself had been a disorienting experience, and on top of that things weren't going well in her personal life. Her marriage to her manager Ted White was falling apart, and she was performing erratically thanks to the stress. In particular, at a gig in Georgia she had fallen off the stage and broken her arm. She soon returned to performing, but it meant she had problems with her right arm during the recording of the album, and didn't play as much piano as she would have previously -- on some of the faster songs she played only with her left hand. But the recording sessions had to go on, whether or not Aretha was physically capable of playing piano. As we discussed in the episode on Otis Redding, the owners of Atlantic Records were busily negotiating its sale to Warner Brothers in mid-1967. As Wexler said later “Everything in me said, Keep rolling, keep recording, keep the hits coming. She was red hot and I had no reason to believe that the streak wouldn't continue. I knew that it would be foolish—and even irresponsible—not to strike when the iron was hot. I also had personal motivation. A Wall Street financier had agreed to see what we could get for Atlantic Records. While Ahmet and Neshui had not agreed on a selling price, they had gone along with my plan to let the financier test our worth on the open market. I was always eager to pump out hits, but at this moment I was on overdrive. In this instance, I had a good partner in Ted White, who felt the same. He wanted as much product out there as possible." In truth, you can tell from Aretha Arrives that it's a record that was being thought of as "product" rather than one being made out of any kind of artistic impulse. It's a fine album -- in her ten-album run from I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You through Amazing Grace there's not a bad album and barely a bad track -- but there's a lack of focus. There are only two originals on the album, neither of them written by Franklin herself, and the rest is an incoherent set of songs that show the tension between Franklin and her producers at Atlantic. Several songs are the kind of standards that Franklin had recorded for her old label Columbia, things like "You Are My Sunshine", or her version of "That's Life", which had been a hit for Frank Sinatra the previous year: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "That's Life"] But mixed in with that are songs that are clearly the choice of Wexler. As we've discussed previously in episodes on Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett, at this point Atlantic had the idea that it was possible for soul artists to cross over into the white market by doing cover versions of white rock hits -- and indeed they'd had some success with that tactic. So while Franklin was suggesting Sinatra covers, Atlantic's hand is visible in the choices of songs like "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and "96 Tears": [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "96 Tears'] Of the two originals on the album, one, the hit single "Baby I Love You" was written by Ronnie Shannon, the Detroit songwriter who had previously written "I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)": [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Baby I Love You"] As with the previous album, and several other songs on this one, that had backing vocals by Aretha's sisters, Erma and Carolyn. But the other original on the album, "Ain't Nobody (Gonna Turn Me Around)", didn't, even though it was written by Carolyn: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Ain't Nobody (Gonna Turn Me Around)"] To explain why, let's take a little detour and look at the co-writer of the song this episode is about, though we're not going to get to that for a little while yet. We've not talked much about Burt Bacharach in this series so far, but he's one of those figures who has come up a few times in the periphery and will come up again, so here is as good a time as any to discuss him, and bring everyone up to speed about his career up to 1967. Bacharach was one of the more privileged figures in the sixties pop music field. His father, Bert Bacharach (pronounced the same as his son, but spelled with an e rather than a u) had been a famous newspaper columnist, and his parents had bought him a Steinway grand piano to practice on -- they pushed him to learn the piano even though as a kid he wasn't interested in finger exercises and Debussy. What he was interested in, though, was jazz, and as a teenager he would often go into Manhattan and use a fake ID to see people like Dizzy Gillespie, who he idolised, and in his autobiography he talks rapturously of seeing Gillespie playing his bent trumpet -- he once saw Gillespie standing on a street corner with a pet monkey on his shoulder, and went home and tried to persuade his parents to buy him a monkey too. In particular, he talks about seeing the Count Basie band with Sonny Payne on drums as a teenager: [Excerpt: Count Basie, "Kid From Red Bank"] He saw them at Birdland, the club owned by Morris Levy where they would regularly play, and said of the performance "they were just so incredibly exciting that all of a sudden, I got into music in a way I never had before. What I heard in those clubs really turned my head around— it was like a big breath of fresh air when somebody throws open a window. That was when I knew for the first time how much I loved music and wanted to be connected to it in some way." Of course, there's a rather major problem with this story, as there is so often with narratives that musicians tell about their early career. In this case, Birdland didn't open until 1949, when Bacharach was twenty-one and stationed in Germany for his military service, while Sonny Payne didn't join Basie's band until 1954, when Bacharach had been a professional musician for many years. Also Dizzy Gillespie's trumpet bell only got bent on January 6, 1953. But presumably while Bacharach was conflating several memories, he did have some experience in some New York jazz club that led him to want to become a musician. Certainly there were enough great jazz musicians playing the clubs in those days. He went to McGill University to study music for two years, then went to study with Darius Milhaud, a hugely respected modernist composer. Milhaud was also one of the most important music teachers of the time -- among others he'd taught Stockhausen and Xenakkis, and would go on to teach Philip Glass and Steve Reich. This suited Bacharach, who by this point was a big fan of Schoenberg and Webern, and was trying to write atonal, difficult music. But Milhaud had also taught Dave Brubeck, and when Bacharach rather shamefacedly presented him with a composition which had an actual tune, he told Bacharach "Never be ashamed of writing a tune you can whistle". He dropped out of university and, like most men of his generation, had to serve in the armed forces. When he got out of the army, he continued his musical studies, still trying to learn to be an avant-garde composer, this time with Bohuslav Martinů and later with Henry Cowell, the experimental composer we've heard about quite a bit in previous episodes: [Excerpt: Henry Cowell, "Aeolian Harp and Sinister Resonance"] He was still listening to a lot of avant garde music, and would continue doing so throughout the fifties, going to see people like John Cage. But he spent much of that time working in music that was very different from the avant-garde. He got a job as the band leader for the crooner Vic Damone: [Excerpt: Vic Damone. "Ebb Tide"] He also played for the vocal group the Ames Brothers. He decided while he was working with the Ames Brothers that he could write better material than they were getting from their publishers, and that it would be better to have a job where he didn't have to travel, so he got himself a job as a staff songwriter in the Brill Building. He wrote a string of flops and nearly hits, starting with "Keep Me In Mind" for Patti Page: [Excerpt: Patti Page, "Keep Me In Mind"] From early in his career he worked with the lyricist Hal David, and the two of them together wrote two big hits, "Magic Moments" for Perry Como: [Excerpt: Perry Como, "Magic Moments"] and "The Story of My Life" for Marty Robbins: [Excerpt: "The Story of My Life"] But at that point Bacharach was still also writing with other writers, notably Hal David's brother Mack, with whom he wrote the theme tune to the film The Blob, as performed by The Five Blobs: [Excerpt: The Five Blobs, "The Blob"] But Bacharach's songwriting career wasn't taking off, and he got himself a job as musical director for Marlene Dietrich -- a job he kept even after it did start to take off. Part of the problem was that he intuitively wrote music that didn't quite fit into standard structures -- there would be odd bars of unusual time signatures thrown in, unusual harmonies, and structural irregularities -- but then he'd take feedback from publishers and producers who would tell him the song could only be recorded if he straightened it out. He said later "The truth is that I ruined a lot of songs by not believing in myself enough to tell these guys they were wrong." He started writing songs for Scepter Records, usually with Hal David, but also with Bob Hilliard and Mack David, and started having R&B hits. One song he wrote with Mack David, "I'll Cherish You", had the lyrics rewritten by Luther Dixon to make them more harsh-sounding for a Shirelles single -- but the single was otherwise just Bacharach's demo with the vocals replaced, and you can even hear his voice briefly at the beginning: [Excerpt: The Shirelles, "Baby, It's You"] But he'd also started becoming interested in the production side of records more generally. He'd iced that some producers, when recording his songs, would change the sound for the worse -- he thought Gene McDaniels' version of "Tower of Strength", for example, was too fast. But on the other hand, other producers got a better sound than he'd heard in his head. He and Hilliard had written a song called "Please Stay", which they'd given to Leiber and Stoller to record with the Drifters, and he thought that their arrangement of the song was much better than the one he'd originally thought up: [Excerpt: The Drifters, "Please Stay"] He asked Leiber and Stoller if he could attend all their New York sessions and learn about record production from them. He started doing so, and eventually they started asking him to assist them on records. He and Hilliard wrote a song called "Mexican Divorce" for the Drifters, which Leiber and Stoller were going to produce, and as he put it "they were so busy running Redbird Records that they asked me to rehearse the background singers for them in my office." [Excerpt: The Drifters, "Mexican Divorce"] The backing singers who had been brought in to augment the Drifters on that record were a group of vocalists who had started out as members of a gospel group called the Drinkard singers: [Excerpt: The Drinkard Singers, "Singing in My Soul"] The Drinkard Singers had originally been a family group, whose members included Cissy Drinkard, who joined the group aged five (and who on her marriage would become known as Cissy Houston -- her daughter Whitney would later join the family business), her aunt Lee Warrick, and Warrick's adopted daughter Judy Clay. That group were discovered by the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, and spent much of the fifties performing with gospel greats including Jackson herself, Clara Ward, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. But Houston was also the musical director of a group at her church, the Gospelaires, which featured Lee Warrick's two daughters Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick (for those who don't know, the Warwick sisters' birth name was Warrick, spelled with two rs. A printing error led to it being misspelled the same way as the British city on a record label, and from that point on Dionne at least pronounced the w in her misspelled name). And slowly, the Gospelaires rather than the Drinkard Singers became the focus, with a lineup of Houston, the Warwick sisters, the Warwick sisters' cousin Doris Troy, and Clay's sister Sylvia Shemwell. The real change in the group's fortunes came when, as we talked about a while back in the episode on "The Loco-Motion", the original lineup of the Cookies largely stopped working as session singers to become Ray Charles' Raelettes. As we discussed in that episode, a new lineup of Cookies formed in 1961, but it took a while for them to get started, and in the meantime the producers who had been relying on them for backing vocals were looking elsewhere, and they looked to the Gospelaires. "Mexican Divorce" was the first record to feature the group as backing vocalists -- though reports vary as to how many of them are on the record, with some saying it's only Troy and the Warwicks, others saying Houston was there, and yet others saying it was all five of them. Some of these discrepancies were because these singers were so good that many of them left to become solo singers in fairly short order. Troy was the first to do so, with her hit "Just One Look", on which the other Gospelaires sang backing vocals: [Excerpt: Doris Troy, "Just One Look"] But the next one to go solo was Dionne Warwick, and that was because she'd started working with Bacharach and Hal David as their principal demo singer. She started singing lead on their demos, and hoping that she'd get to release them on her own. One early one was "Make it Easy On Yourself", which was recorded by Jerry Butler, formerly of the Impressions. That record was produced by Bacharach, one of the first records he produced without outside supervision: [Excerpt: Jerry Butler, "Make it Easy On Yourself"] Warwick was very jealous that a song she'd sung the demo of had become a massive hit for someone else, and blamed Bacharach and David. The way she tells the story -- Bacharach always claimed this never happened, but as we've already seen he was himself not always the most reliable of narrators of his own life -- she got so angry she complained to them, and said "Don't make me over, man!" And so Bacharach and David wrote her this: [Excerpt: Dionne Warwick, "Don't Make Me Over"] Incidentally, in the UK, the hit version of that was a cover by the Swinging Blue Jeans: [Excerpt: The Swinging Blue Jeans, "Don't Make Me Over"] who also had a huge hit with "You're No Good": [Excerpt: The Swinging Blue Jeans, "You're No Good"] And *that* was originally recorded by *Dee Dee* Warwick: [Excerpt: Dee Dee Warwick, "You're No Good"] Dee Dee also had a successful solo career, but Dionne's was the real success, making the names of herself, and of Bacharach and David. The team had more than twenty top forty hits together, before Bacharach and David had a falling out in 1971 and stopped working together, and Warwick sued both of them for breach of contract as a result. But prior to that they had hit after hit, with classic records like "Anyone Who Had a Heart": [Excerpt: Dionne Warwick, "Anyone Who Had a Heart"] And "Walk On By": [Excerpt: Dionne Warwick, "Walk On By"] With Doris, Dionne, and Dee Dee all going solo, the group's membership was naturally in flux -- though the departed members would occasionally join their former bandmates for sessions, and the remaining members would sing backing vocals on their ex-members' records. By 1965 the group consisted of Cissy Houston, Sylvia Shemwell, the Warwick sisters' cousin Myrna Smith, and Estelle Brown. The group became *the* go-to singers for soul and R&B records made in New York. They were regularly hired by Leiber and Stoller to sing on their records, and they were also the particular favourites of Bert Berns. They sang backing vocals on almost every record he produced. It's them doing the gospel wails on "Cry Baby" by Garnet Mimms: [Excerpt: Garnet Mimms, "Cry Baby"] And they sang backing vocals on both versions of "If You Need Me" -- Wilson Pickett's original and Solomon Burke's more successful cover version, produced by Berns: [Excerpt: Solomon Burke, "If You Need Me"] They're on such Berns records as "Show Me Your Monkey", by Kenny Hamber: [Excerpt: Kenny Hamber, "Show Me Your Monkey"] And it was a Berns production that ended up getting them to be Aretha Franklin's backing group. The group were becoming such an important part of the records that Atlantic and BANG Records, in particular, were putting out, that Jerry Wexler said "it was only a matter of common decency to put them under contract as a featured group". He signed them to Atlantic and renamed them from the Gospelaires to The Sweet Inspirations. Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham wrote a song for the group which became their only hit under their own name: [Excerpt: The Sweet Inspirations, "Sweet Inspiration"] But to start with, they released a cover of Pops Staples' civil rights song "Why (Am I treated So Bad)": [Excerpt: The Sweet Inspirations, "Why (Am I Treated So Bad?)"] That hadn't charted, and meanwhile, they'd all kept doing session work. Cissy had joined Erma and Carolyn Franklin on the backing vocals for Aretha's "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You": [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You"] Shortly after that, the whole group recorded backing vocals for Erma's single "Piece of My Heart", co-written and produced by Berns: [Excerpt: Erma Franklin, "Piece of My Heart"] That became a top ten record on the R&B charts, but that caused problems. Aretha Franklin had a few character flaws, and one of these was an extreme level of jealousy for any other female singer who had any level of success and came up in the business after her. She could be incredibly graceful towards anyone who had been successful before her -- she once gave one of her Grammies away to Esther Phillips, who had been up for the same award and had lost to her -- but she was terribly insecure, and saw any contemporary as a threat. She'd spent her time at Columbia Records fuming (with some justification) that Barbra Streisand was being given a much bigger marketing budget than her, and she saw Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, and Dionne Warwick as rivals rather than friends. And that went doubly for her sisters, who she was convinced should be supporting her because of family loyalty. She had been infuriated at John Hammond when Columbia had signed Erma, thinking he'd gone behind her back to create competition for her. And now Erma was recording with Bert Berns. Bert Berns who had for years been a colleague of Jerry Wexler and the Ertegun brothers at Atlantic. Aretha was convinced that Wexler had put Berns up to signing Erma as some kind of power play. There was only one problem with this -- it simply wasn't true. As Wexler later explained “Bert and I had suffered a bad falling-out, even though I had enormous respect for him. After all, he was the guy who brought over guitarist Jimmy Page from England to play on our sessions. Bert, Ahmet, Nesuhi, and I had started a label together—Bang!—where Bert produced Van Morrison's first album. But Bert also had a penchant for trouble. He courted the wise guys. He wanted total control over every last aspect of our business dealings. Finally it was too much, and the Erteguns and I let him go. He sued us for breach of contract and suddenly we were enemies. I felt that he signed Erma, an excellent singer, not merely for her talent but as a way to get back at me. If I could make a hit with Aretha, he'd show me up by making an even bigger hit on Erma. Because there was always an undercurrent of rivalry between the sisters, this only added to the tension.” There were two things that resulted from this paranoia on Aretha's part. The first was that she and Wexler, who had been on first-name terms up to that point, temporarily went back to being "Mr. Wexler" and "Miss Franklin" to each other. And the second was that Aretha no longer wanted Carolyn and Erma to be her main backing vocalists, though they would continue to appear on her future records on occasion. From this point on, the Sweet Inspirations would be the main backing vocalists for Aretha in the studio throughout her golden era [xxcut line (and when the Sweet Inspirations themselves weren't on the record, often it would be former members of the group taking their place)]: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Ain't Nobody (Gonna Turn Me Around)"] The last day of sessions for Aretha Arrives was July the twenty-third, 1967. And as we heard in the episode on "I Was Made to Love Her", that was the day that the Detroit riots started. To recap briefly, that was four days of rioting started because of a history of racist policing, made worse by those same racist police overreacting to the initial protests. By the end of those four days, the National Guard, 82nd Airborne Division, and the 101st Airborne from Clarksville were all called in to deal with the violence, which left forty-three dead (of whom thirty-three were Black and only one was a police officer), 1,189 people were injured, and over 7,200 arrested, almost all of them Black. Those days in July would be a turning point for almost every musician based in Detroit. In particular, the police had murdered three members of the soul group the Dramatics, in a massacre of which the author John Hersey, who had been asked by President Johnson to be part of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders but had decided that would compromise his impartiality and did an independent journalistic investigation, said "The episode contained all the mythic themes of racial strife in the United States: the arm of the law taking the law into its own hands; interracial sex; the subtle poison of racist thinking by “decent” men who deny they are racists; the societal limbo into which, ever since slavery, so many young black men have been driven by our country; ambiguous justice in the courts; and the devastation in both black and white human lives that follows in the wake of violence as surely as ruinous and indiscriminate flood after torrents" But these were also the events that radicalised the MC5 -- the group had been playing a gig as Tim Buckley's support act when the rioting started, and guitarist Wayne Kramer decided afterwards to get stoned and watch the fires burning down the city through a telescope -- which police mistook for a rifle, leading to the National Guard knocking down Kramer's door. The MC5 would later cover "The Motor City is Burning", John Lee Hooker's song about the events: [Excerpt: The MC5, "The Motor City is Burning"] It would also be a turning point for Motown, too, in ways we'll talk about in a few future episodes. And it was a political turning point too -- Michigan Governor George Romney, a liberal Republican (at a time when such people existed) had been the favourite for the Republican Presidential candidacy when he'd entered the race in December 1966, but as racial tensions ramped up in Detroit during the early months of 1967 he'd started trailing Richard Nixon, a man who was consciously stoking racists' fears. President Johnson, the incumbent Democrat, who was at that point still considering standing for re-election, made sure to make it clear to everyone during the riots that the decision to call in the National Guard had been made at the State level, by Romney, rather than at the Federal level. That wasn't the only thing that removed the possibility of a Romney presidency, but it was a big part of the collapse of his campaign, and the, as it turned out, irrevocable turn towards right-authoritarianism that the party took with Nixon's Southern Strategy. Of course, Aretha Franklin had little way of knowing what was to come and how the riots would change the city and the country over the following decades. What she was primarily concerned about was the safety of her father, and to a lesser extent that of her sister-in-law Earline who was staying with him. Aretha, Carolyn, and Erma all tried to keep in constant touch with their father while they were out of town, and Aretha even talked about hiring private detectives to travel to Detroit, find her father, and get him out of the city to safety. But as her brother Cecil pointed out, he was probably the single most loved man among Black people in Detroit, and was unlikely to be harmed by the rioters, while he was too famous for the police to kill with impunity. Reverend Franklin had been having a stressful time anyway -- he had recently been fined for tax evasion, an action he was convinced the IRS had taken because of his friendship with Dr King and his role in the civil rights movement -- and according to Cecil "Aretha begged Daddy to move out of the city entirely. She wanted him to find another congregation in California, where he was especially popular—or at least move out to the suburbs. But he wouldn't budge. He said that, more than ever, he was needed to point out the root causes of the riots—the economic inequality, the pervasive racism in civic institutions, the woefully inadequate schools in inner-city Detroit, and the wholesale destruction of our neighborhoods by urban renewal. Some ministers fled the city, but not our father. The horror of what happened only recommitted him. He would not abandon his political agenda." To make things worse, Aretha was worried about her father in other ways -- as her marriage to Ted White was starting to disintegrate, she was looking to her father for guidance, and actually wanted him to take over her management. Eventually, Ruth Bowen, her booking agent, persuaded her brother Cecil that this was a job he could do, and that she would teach him everything he needed to know about the music business. She started training him up while Aretha was still married to White, in the expectation that that marriage couldn't last. Jerry Wexler, who only a few months earlier had been seeing Ted White as an ally in getting "product" from Franklin, had now changed his tune -- partly because the sale of Atlantic had gone through in the meantime. He later said “Sometimes she'd call me at night, and, in that barely audible little-girl voice of hers, she'd tell me that she wasn't sure she could go on. She always spoke in generalities. She never mentioned her husband, never gave me specifics of who was doing what to whom. And of course I knew better than to ask. She just said that she was tired of dealing with so much. My heart went out to her. She was a woman who suffered silently. She held so much in. I'd tell her to take as much time off as she needed. We had a lot of songs in the can that we could release without new material. ‘Oh, no, Jerry,' she'd say. ‘I can't stop recording. I've written some new songs, Carolyn's written some new songs. We gotta get in there and cut 'em.' ‘Are you sure?' I'd ask. ‘Positive,' she'd say. I'd set up the dates and typically she wouldn't show up for the first or second sessions. Carolyn or Erma would call me to say, ‘Ree's under the weather.' That was tough because we'd have asked people like Joe South and Bobby Womack to play on the sessions. Then I'd reschedule in the hopes she'd show." That third album she recorded in 1967, Lady Soul, was possibly her greatest achievement. The opening track, and second single, "Chain of Fools", released in November, was written by Don Covay -- or at least it's credited as having been written by Covay. There's a gospel record that came out around the same time on a very small label based in Houston -- "Pains of Life" by Rev. E. Fair And The Sensational Gladys Davis Trio: [Excerpt: Rev. E. Fair And The Sensational Gladys Davis Trio, "Pains of Life"] I've seen various claims online that that record came out shortly *before* "Chain of Fools", but I can't find any definitive evidence one way or the other -- it was on such a small label that release dates aren't available anywhere. Given that the B-side, which I haven't been able to track down online, is called "Wait Until the Midnight Hour", my guess is that rather than this being a case of Don Covay stealing the melody from an obscure gospel record he'd have had little chance to hear, it's the gospel record rewriting a then-current hit to be about religion, but I thought it worth mentioning. The song was actually written by Covay after Jerry Wexler asked him to come up with some songs for Otis Redding, but Wexler, after hearing it, decided it was better suited to Franklin, who gave an astonishing performance: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Chain of Fools"] Arif Mardin, the arranger of the album, said of that track “I was listed as the arranger of ‘Chain of Fools,' but I can't take credit. Aretha walked into the studio with the chart fully formed inside her head. The arrangement is based around the harmony vocals provided by Carolyn and Erma. To add heft, the Sweet Inspirations joined in. The vision of the song is entirely Aretha's.” According to Wexler, that's not *quite* true -- according to him, Joe South came up with the guitar part that makes up the intro, and he also said that when he played what he thought was the finished track to Ellie Greenwich, she came up with another vocal line for the backing vocals, which she overdubbed. But the core of the record's sound is definitely pure Aretha -- and Carolyn Franklin said that there was a reason for that. As she said later “Aretha didn't write ‘Chain,' but she might as well have. It was her story. When we were in the studio putting on the backgrounds with Ree doing lead, I knew she was singing about Ted. Listen to the lyrics talking about how for five long years she thought he was her man. Then she found out she was nothing but a link in the chain. Then she sings that her father told her to come on home. Well, he did. She sings about how her doctor said to take it easy. Well, he did too. She was drinking so much we thought she was on the verge of a breakdown. The line that slew me, though, was the one that said how one of these mornings the chain is gonna break but until then she'll take all she can take. That summed it up. Ree knew damn well that this man had been doggin' her since Jump Street. But somehow she held on and pushed it to the breaking point." [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Chain of Fools"] That made number one on the R&B charts, and number two on the hot one hundred, kept from the top by "Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)" by John Fred and his Playboy Band -- a record that very few people would say has stood the test of time as well. The other most memorable track on the album was the one chosen as the first single, released in September. As Carole King told the story, she and Gerry Goffin were feeling like their career was in a slump. While they had had a huge run of hits in the early sixties through 1965, they had only had two new hits in 1966 -- "Goin' Back" for Dusty Springfield and "Don't Bring Me Down" for the Animals, and neither of those were anything like as massive as their previous hits. And up to that point in 1967, they'd only had one -- "Pleasant Valley Sunday" for the Monkees. They had managed to place several songs on Monkees albums and the TV show as well, so they weren't going to starve, but the rise of self-contained bands that were starting to dominate the charts, and Phil Spector's temporary retirement, meant there simply wasn't the opportunity for them to place material that there had been. They were also getting sick of travelling to the West Coast all the time, because as their children were growing slightly older they didn't want to disrupt their lives in New York, and were thinking of approaching some of the New York based labels and seeing if they needed songs. They were particularly considering Atlantic, because soul was more open to outside songwriters than other genres. As it happened, though, they didn't have to approach Atlantic, because Atlantic approached them. They were walking down Broadway when a limousine pulled up, and Jerry Wexler stuck his head out of the window. He'd come up with a good title that he wanted to use for a song for Aretha, would they be interested in writing a song called "Natural Woman"? They said of course they would, and Wexler drove off. They wrote the song that night, and King recorded a demo the next morning: [Excerpt: Carole King, "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (demo)"] They gave Wexler a co-writing credit because he had suggested the title. King later wrote in her autobiography "Hearing Aretha's performance of “Natural Woman” for the first time, I experienced a rare speechless moment. To this day I can't convey how I felt in mere words. Anyone who had written a song in 1967 hoping it would be performed by a singer who could take it to the highest level of excellence, emotional connection, and public exposure would surely have wanted that singer to be Aretha Franklin." She went on to say "But a recording that moves people is never just about the artist and the songwriters. It's about people like Jerry and Ahmet, who matched the songwriters with a great title and a gifted artist; Arif Mardin, whose magnificent orchestral arrangement deserves the place it will forever occupy in popular music history; Tom Dowd, whose engineering skills captured the magic of this memorable musical moment for posterity; and the musicians in the rhythm section, the orchestral players, and the vocal contributions of the background singers—among them the unforgettable “Ah-oo!” after the first line of the verse. And the promotion and marketing people helped this song reach more people than it might have without them." And that's correct -- unlike "Chain of Fools", this time Franklin did let Arif Mardin do most of the arrangement work -- though she came up with the piano part that Spooner Oldham plays on the record. Mardin said that because of the song's hymn-like feel they wanted to go for a more traditional written arrangement. He said "She loved the song to the point where she said she wanted to concentrate on the vocal and vocal alone. I had written a string chart and horn chart to augment the chorus and hired Ralph Burns to conduct. After just a couple of takes, we had it. That's when Ralph turned to me with wonder in his eyes. Ralph was one of the most celebrated arrangers of the modern era. He had done ‘Early Autumn' for Woody Herman and Stan Getz, and ‘Georgia on My Mind' for Ray Charles. He'd worked with everyone. ‘This woman comes from another planet' was all Ralph said. ‘She's just here visiting.'” [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"] By this point there was a well-functioning team making Franklin's records -- while the production credits would vary over the years, they were all essentially co-productions by the team of Franklin, Wexler, Mardin and Dowd, all collaborating and working together with a more-or-less unified purpose, and the backing was always by the same handful of session musicians and some combination of the Sweet Inspirations and Aretha's sisters. That didn't mean that occasional guests couldn't get involved -- as we discussed in the Cream episode, Eric Clapton played guitar on "Good to Me as I am to You": [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Good to Me as I am to You"] Though that was one of the rare occasions on one of these records where something was overdubbed. Clapton apparently messed up the guitar part when playing behind Franklin, because he was too intimidated by playing with her, and came back the next day to redo his part without her in the studio. At this point, Aretha was at the height of her fame. Just before the final batch of album sessions began she appeared in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, and she was making regular TV appearances, like one on the Mike Douglas Show where she duetted with Frankie Valli on "That's Life": [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin and Frankie Valli, "That's Life"] But also, as Wexler said “Her career was kicking into high gear. Contending and resolving both the professional and personal challenges were too much. She didn't think she could do both, and I didn't blame her. Few people could. So she let the personal slide and concentrated on the professional. " Her concert promoter Ruth Bowen said of this time "Her father and Dr. King were putting pressure on her to sing everywhere, and she felt obligated. The record company was also screaming for more product. And I had a mountain of offers on my desk that kept getting higher with every passing hour. They wanted her in Europe. They wanted her in Latin America. They wanted her in every major venue in the U.S. TV was calling. She was being asked to do guest appearances on every show from Carol Burnett to Andy Williams to the Hollywood Palace. She wanted to do them all and she wanted to do none of them. She wanted to do them all because she's an entertainer who burns with ambition. She wanted to do none of them because she was emotionally drained. She needed to go away and renew her strength. I told her that at least a dozen times. She said she would, but she didn't listen to me." The pressures from her father and Dr King are a recurring motif in interviews with people about this period. Franklin was always a very political person, and would throughout her life volunteer time and money to liberal political causes and to the Democratic Party, but this was the height of her activism -- the Civil Rights movement was trying to capitalise on the gains it had made in the previous couple of years, and celebrity fundraisers and performances at rallies were an important way to do that. And at this point there were few bigger celebrities in America than Aretha Franklin. At a concert in her home town of Detroit on February the sixteenth, 1968, the Mayor declared the day Aretha Franklin Day. At the same show, Billboard, Record World *and* Cash Box magazines all presented her with plaques for being Female Vocalist of the Year. And Dr. King travelled up to be at the show and congratulate her publicly for all her work with his organisation, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Backstage at that show, Dr. King talked to Aretha's father, Reverend Franklin, about what he believed would be the next big battle -- a strike in Memphis: [Excerpt, Martin Luther King, "Mountaintop Speech" -- "And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy—what is the other bread?—Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart's bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain. We are choosing these companies because they haven't been fair in their hiring policies; and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying, they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. And then they can move on downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right."] The strike in question was the Memphis Sanitation Workers' strike which had started a few days before. The struggle for Black labour rights was an integral part of the civil rights movement, and while it's not told that way in the sanitised version of the story that's made it into popular culture, the movement led by King was as much about economic justice as social justice -- King was a democratic socialist, and believed that economic oppression was both an effect of and cause of other forms of racial oppression, and that the rights of Black workers needed to be fought for. In 1967 he had set up a new organisation, the Poor People's Campaign, which was set to march on Washington to demand a program that included full employment, a guaranteed income -- King was strongly influenced in his later years by the ideas of Henry George, the proponent of a universal basic income based on land value tax -- the annual building of half a million affordable homes, and an end to the war in Vietnam. This was King's main focus in early 1968, and he saw the sanitation workers' strike as a major part of this campaign. Memphis was one of the most oppressive cities in the country, and its largely Black workforce of sanitation workers had been trying for most of the 1960s to unionise, and strike-breakers had been called in to stop them, and many of them had been fired by their white supervisors with no notice. They were working in unsafe conditions, for utterly inadequate wages, and the city government were ardent segregationists. After two workers had died on the first of February from using unsafe equipment, the union demanded changes -- safer working conditions, better wages, and recognition of the union. The city council refused, and almost all the sanitation workers stayed home and stopped work. After a few days, the council relented and agreed to their terms, but the Mayor, Henry Loeb, an ardent white supremacist who had stood on a platform of opposing desegregation, and who had previously been the Public Works Commissioner who had put these unsafe conditions in place, refused to listen. As far as he was concerned, he was the only one who could recognise the union, and he wouldn't. The workers continued their strike, marching holding signs that simply read "I am a Man": [Excerpt: Stevie Wonder, "Blowing in the Wind"] The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the NAACP had been involved in organising support for the strikes from an early stage, and King visited Memphis many times. Much of the time he spent visiting there was spent negotiating with a group of more militant activists, who called themselves The Invaders and weren't completely convinced by King's nonviolent approach -- they believed that violence and rioting got more attention than non-violent protests. King explained to them that while he had been persuaded by Gandhi's writings of the moral case for nonviolent protest, he was also persuaded that it was pragmatically necessary -- asking the young men "how many guns do we have and how many guns do they have?", and pointing out as he often did that when it comes to violence a minority can't win against an armed majority. Rev Franklin went down to Memphis on the twenty-eighth of March to speak at a rally Dr. King was holding, but as it turned out the rally was cancelled -- the pre-rally march had got out of hand, with some people smashing windows, and Memphis police had, like the police in Detroit the previous year, violently overreacted, clubbing and gassing protestors and shooting and killing one unarmed teenage boy, Larry Payne. The day after Payne's funeral, Dr King was back in Memphis, though this time Rev Franklin was not with him. On April the third, he gave a speech which became known as the "Mountaintop Speech", in which he talked about the threats that had been made to his life: [Excerpt: Martin Luther King, "Mountaintop Speech": “And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers? Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."] The next day, Martin Luther King was shot dead. James Earl Ray, a white supremacist, pled guilty to the murder, and the evidence against him seems overwhelming from what I've read, but the King family have always claimed that the murder was part of a larger conspiracy and that Ray was not the gunman. Aretha was obviously distraught, and she attended the funeral, as did almost every other prominent Black public figure. James Baldwin wrote of the funeral: "In the pew directly before me sat Marlon Brando, Sammy Davis, Eartha Kitt—covered in black, looking like a lost, ten-year-old girl—and Sidney Poitier, in the same pew, or nearby. Marlon saw me, and nodded. The atmosphere was black, with a tension indescribable—as though something, perhaps the heavens, perhaps the earth, might crack. Everyone sat very still. The actual service sort of washed over me, in waves. It wasn't that it seemed unreal; it was the most real church service I've ever sat through in my life, or ever hope to sit through; but I have a childhood hangover thing about not weeping in public, and I was concentrating on holding myself together. I did not want to weep for Martin, tears seemed futile. But I may also have been afraid, and I could not have been the only one, that if I began to weep I would not be able to stop. There was more than enough to weep for, if one was to weep—so many of us, cut down, so soon. Medgar, Malcolm, Martin: and their widows, and their children. Reverend Ralph David Abernathy asked a certain sister to sing a song which Martin had loved—“Once more,” said Ralph David, “for Martin and for me,” and he sat down." Many articles and books on Aretha Franklin say that she sang at King's funeral. In fact she didn't, but there's a simple reason for the confusion. King's favourite song was the Thomas Dorsey gospel song "Take My Hand, Precious Lord", and indeed almost his last words were to ask a trumpet player, Ben Branch, if he would play the song at the rally he was going to be speaking at on the day of his death. At his request, Mahalia Jackson, his old friend, sang the song at his private funeral, which was not filmed, unlike the public part of the funeral that Baldwin described. Four months later, though, there was another public memorial for King, and Franklin did sing "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" at that service, in front of King's weeping widow and children, and that performance *was* filmed, and gets conflated in people's memories with Jackson's unfilmed earlier performance: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord (at Martin Luther King Memorial)"] Four years later, she would sing that at Mahalia Jackson's funeral. Through all this, Franklin had been working on her next album, Aretha Now, the sessions for which started more or less as soon as the sessions for Lady Soul had finished. The album was, in fact, bookended by deaths that affected Aretha. Just as King died at the end of the sessions, the beginning came around the time of the death of Otis Redding -- the sessions were cancelled for a day while Wexler travelled to Georgia for Redding's funeral, which Franklin was too devastated to attend, and Wexler would later say that the extra emotion in her performances on the album came from her emotional pain at Redding's death. The lead single on the album, "Think", was written by Franklin and -- according to the credits anyway -- her husband Ted White, and is very much in the same style as "Respect", and became another of her most-loved hits: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Think"] But probably the song on Aretha Now that now resonates the most is one that Jerry Wexler tried to persuade her not to record, and was only released as a B-side. Indeed, "I Say a Little Prayer" was a song that had already once been a hit after being a reject. Hal David, unlike Burt Bacharach, was a fairly political person and inspired by the protest song movement, and had been starting to incorporate his concerns about the political situation and the Vietnam War into his lyrics -- though as with many such writers, he did it in much less specific ways than a Phil Ochs or a Bob Dylan. This had started with "What the World Needs Now is Love", a song Bacharach and David had written for Jackie DeShannon in 1965: [Excerpt: Jackie DeShannon, "What the "World Needs Now is Love"] But he'd become much more overtly political for "The Windows of the World", a song they wrote for Dionne Warwick. Warwick has often said it's her favourite of her singles, but it wasn't a big hit -- Bacharach blamed himself for that, saying "Dionne recorded it as a single and I really blew it. I wrote a bad arrangement and the tempo was too fast, and I really regret making it the way I did because it's a good song." [Excerpt: Dionne Warwick, "The Windows of the World"] For that album, Bacharach and David had written another track, "I Say a Little Prayer", which was not as explicitly political, but was intended by David to have an implicit anti-war message, much like other songs of the period like "Last Train to Clarksville". David had sons who were the right age to be drafted, and while it's never stated, "I Say a Little Prayer" was written from the perspective of a woman whose partner is away fighting in the war, but is still in her thoughts: [Excerpt: Dionne Warwick, "I Say a Little Prayer"] The recording of Dionne Warwick's version was marked by stress. Bacharach had a particular way of writing music to tell the musicians the kind of feel he wanted for the part -- he'd write nonsense words above the stave, and tell the musicians to play the parts as if they were singing those words. The trumpet player hired for the session, Ernie Royal, got into a row with Bacharach about this unorthodox way of communicating musical feeling, and the track ended up taking ten takes (as opposed to the normal three for a Bacharach session), with Royal being replaced half-way through the session. Bacharach was never happy with the track even after all the work it had taken, and he fought to keep it from being released at all, saying the track was taken at too fast a tempo. It eventually came out as an album track nearly eighteen months after it was recorded -- an eternity in 1960s musical timescales -- and DJs started playing it almost as soon as it came out. Scepter records rushed out a single, over Bacharach's objections, but as he later said "One thing I love about the record business is how wrong I was. Disc jockeys all across the country started playing the track, and the song went to number four on the charts and then became the biggest hit Hal and I had ever written for Dionne." [Excerpt: Dionne Warwick, "I Say a Little Prayer"] Oddly, the B-side for Warwick's single, "Theme From the Valley of the Dolls" did even better, reaching number two. Almost as soon as the song was released as a single, Franklin started playing around with the song backstage, and in April 1968, right around the time of Dr. King's death, she recorded a version. Much as Burt Bacharach had been against releasing Dionne Warwick's version, Jerry Wexler was against Aretha even recording the song, saying later “I advised Aretha not to record it. I opposed it for two reasons. First, to cover a song only twelve weeks after the original reached the top of the charts was not smart business. You revisit such a hit eight months to a year later. That's standard practice. But more than that, Bacharach's melody, though lovely, was peculiarly suited to a lithe instrument like Dionne Warwick's—a light voice without the dark corners or emotional depths that define Aretha. Also, Hal David's lyric was also somewhat girlish and lacked the gravitas that Aretha required. “Aretha usually listened to me in the studio, but not this time. She had written a vocal arrangement for the Sweet Inspirations that was undoubtedly strong. Cissy Houston, Dionne's cousin, told me that Aretha was on the right track—she was seeing this song in a new way and had come up with a new groove. Cissy was on Aretha's side. Tommy Dowd and Arif were on Aretha's side. So I had no choice but to cave." It's quite possible that Wexler's objections made Franklin more, rather than less, determined to record the song. She regarded Warwick as a hated rival, as she did almost every prominent female singer of her generation and younger ones, and would undoubtedly have taken the implication that there was something that Warwick was simply better at than her to heart. [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "I Say a Little Prayer"] Wexler realised as soon as he heard it in the studio that Franklin's version was great, and Bacharach agreed, telling Franklin's biographer David Ritz “As much as I like the original recording by Dionne, there's no doubt that Aretha's is a better record. She imbued the song with heavy soul and took it to a far deeper place. Hers is the definitive version.” -- which is surprising because Franklin's version simplifies some of Bacharach's more unusual chord voicings, something he often found extremely upsetting. Wexler still though thought there was no way the song would be a hit, and it's understandable that he thought that way. Not only had it only just been on the charts a few months earlier, but it was the kind of song that wouldn't normally be a hit at all, and certainly not in the kind of rhythmic soul music for which Franklin was known. Almost everything she ever recorded is in simple time signatures -- 4/4, waltz time, or 6/8 -- but this is a Bacharach song so it's staggeringly metrically irregular. Normally even with semi-complex things I'm usually good at figuring out how to break it down into bars, but here I actually had to purchase a copy of the sheet music in order to be sure I was right about what's going on. I'm going to count beats along with the record here so you can see what I mean. The verse has three bars of 4/4, one bar of 2/4, and three more bars of 4/4, all repeated: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "I Say a Little Prayer" with me counting bars over verse] While the chorus has a bar of 4/4, a bar of 3/4 but with a chord change half way through so it sounds like it's in two if you're paying attention to the harmonic changes, two bars of 4/4, another waltz-time bar sounding like it's in two, two bars of four, another bar of three sounding in two, a bar of four, then three more bars of four but the first of those is *written* as four but played as if it's in six-eight time (but you can keep the four/four pulse going if you're counting): [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "I Say a Little Prayer" with me counting bars over verse] I don't expect you to have necessarily followed that in great detail, but the point should be clear -- this was not some straightforward dance song. Incidentally, that bar played as if it's six/eight was something Aretha introduced to make the song even more irregular than how Bacharach wrote it. And on top of *that* of course the lyrics mixed the secular and the sacred, something that was still taboo in popular music at that time -- this is only a couple of years after Capitol records had been genuinely unsure about putting out the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows", and Franklin's gospel-inflected vocals made the religious connection even more obvious. But Franklin was insistent that the record go out as a single, and eventually it was released as the B-side to the far less impressive "The House That Jack Built". It became a double-sided hit, with the A-side making number two on the R&B chart and number seven on the Hot One Hundred, while "I Say a Little Prayer" made number three on the R&B chart and number ten overall. In the UK, "I Say a Little Prayer" made number four and became her biggest ever solo UK hit. It's now one of her most-remembered songs, while the A-side is largely forgotten: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "I Say a Little Prayer"] For much of the