David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust

What hooked me on this song was the guitar riff played by Mick Ronson. Bowie said that the song is “about the ultimate rock superstar destroyed by the fanaticism he creates.”

The song is off of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and it peaked at #75 in the Billboard 100 in 1973 and #5 in the UK in 1972.

Ziggy Stardust is a character Bowie created with the help of his then-wife, Angela. The character’s name was inspired by the 1960s psychobilly musician, Legendary Stardust Cowboy. Bowie performed under the Stardust persona for about a year.

In 2010 the song ranked at No. 282 on Rolling Stones list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

In the middle of this period, Bowie was itching to move on from Ziggy. “I’d said all I could say about Ziggy,” Bowie said. “I’m very tempted to go further with this Ziggy thing only because it’s so popular, but actually, it’s not what I really want to do. I’ve created this bloody thing, how do I sort of get out of it?” He soon did… Bowie abandoned Ziggy and re-imagined himself again. “He really grew, sort of out of proportion — got much bigger than I thought Ziggy was going to be,” “Ziggy just overshadowed everything.”

Bowie said that Ziggy  “wouldn’t leave me alone for years. That was when it all started to go sour … My whole personality was affected. It became very dangerous. I really did have doubts about my sanity.”

From Songfacts

 This specific song is about Stardust growing too conceited: “Making love with his ego, Ziggy sucked up into his mind.” Stardust’s band, The Spiders From Mars, consequently plan to get revenge on the egotistical front man: “So we bitched about his fans, and should we crush his sweet hands?” 

Iggy Pop (note the name: zIGGY), Lou Reed, Marc Bolan, Gene Vincent and Jimi Hendrix (“He played it left hand, but made it too far” – Hendrix was left-handed), were all likely influences on the character Ziggy Stardust, but the only musician Bowie admits was a direct influence is Vince Taylor, an English singer who took the “rock star” persona to the extreme, calling himself Mateus and declaring himself the son of God. Taylor was popular in France in the early ’60s, and Bowie met him in 1966 after his popularity had faded.

Bowie-based the clothes, hair, and makeup of Ziggy Stardust on the Malcolm McDowell character in A Clockwork Orange, and on William Burroughs book Wild Boys. Some of the posturings were inspired by Gene Vincent, a rockabilly star who injured his leg in a 1960 car accident that killed Eddie Cochran. When Bowie saw Vincent in concert, he was wearing a leg brace and had to stand with his injured leg behind him; Bowie appropriated this stance, calling it “position number one for the embryonic Ziggy.”

“Weird and Gilly” were two of Bowie’s bandmates in The Spiders From Mars: bassist Trevor Bolder and drummer Woody Woodmansey.

This song and the Ziggy Stardust persona as a whole was a major influence on glam rock bands like T-Rex and Suede. Glam rock was characterized by outrageous costumes, flamboyant stage antics, and sexual ambiguity.

Bowie was very theatrical and a student of acting and mime. He admitted that the Ziggy character was his way of dealing with the mental health issues that plagued his family – he basically went into character so he wouldn’t go crazy. “One puts oneself through such psychological damage in trying to avoid the threat of insanity,” Bowie said. “As long as I could put those psychological excesses into my music and into my work, I could always be throwing it off.” After a while, Ziggy started to scare David, as he was getting engrossed in the persona. He was afraid that the blurring of Stardust and Bowie would lead to madness, and on July 3, 1973, David did his last show as Ziggy at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. The show was made into a movie directed by D.A. Pennebaker called Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars. It was released on DVD in 2003. For years Bowie would not look at tapes of himself performing as Ziggy Stardust, but when he finally did, he thought they were hilarious.

The album cover shows David Bowie (dressed as Ziggy Stardust) standing outside the furriers, K. West, which was located at 23 Heddon Street, London. In March 2012, a plaque honoring Ziggy Stardust was installed where the K. West sign once hung. This plaque is one of the few in the UK dedicated to a fictional character.

While doing an interview in character as Ziggy Stardust, Bowie admitted he was gay. This gave him a great deal of publicity, even though it was not entirely true. Bowie later married the model, Iman.

Bauhaus recorded a version of this song in 1982 that hit #15 in the UK. The song has also been recorded by Def Leppard, Nina Hagen, and Hootie And The Blowfish.

A production error meant a live version of this song was left off some copies of the 3-CD set Bowie At The Beeb. Bowie later made the track available for download to those fans who did not get it on the album.

This never charted because it was not released as a single. Many British acts at the time focused on albums and tried to limit the number of singles they issued.

There is a plaque outside the pub in London where Bowie created the Ziggy Stardust character. Bowie performed there when it was The Three Tuns. It is now called The Rat And Parrot.

Ziggy Stardust

Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with Weird and Gilly
And the spiders from Mars. He played it left hand
But made it too far
Became the special man, then we were Ziggy’s band

Now Ziggy really sang, screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo
Like some cat from Japan, he could lick ’em by smiling
He could leave ’em to hang
‘Came on so loaded man, well hung and snow white tan

So where were the spiders, while the fly tried to break our balls
With just the beer light to guide us
So we bitched about his fans and should we crush his sweet hands?

Ziggy played for time, jiving us that we were voodoo
The kid was just crass, he was the nazz
With God given ass
He took it all too far but boy could he play guitar

Making love with his ego Ziggy sucked up into his mind
Like a leper messiah
When the kids had killed the man I had to break up the band

Ziggy played guitar

CSN&Y – Woodstock

The intro and the harmonies are great in this song. One of my favorite CSN&Y songs. This song was written by Joni Mitchell. She did not perform at Woodstock. The fear of missing the Dick Cavett Show is what actually led to Joni Mitchell canceling a scheduled appearance at Woodstock. Her manager David Geffen convinced her that it was more important for her career to do the Cavett Show than it was to appear at Woodstock.

The song was on Déjà Vu that peaked at #1 in 1970. Woodstock peaked at #11 in the Billboard 100 in 1970.

Joni Mitchell: “I was one of the many who were thwarted,” “That was the place every kid wanted to be. I got to the airport with CSN and our agent, David Geffen, and our manager, Elliott, on a Sunday night. It was a catastrophe. I had to do The Dick Cavett Show the following day, and it was Geffen who decided we can’t get Joni out in time. So he took me back to his suite where he lived, and we watched it on TV. I was the deprived kid who couldn’t go, so I wrote it from the point of view of a kid going. If I had been there in the back room with all the egomaniacal crap that goes on backstage, I would not have had that perspective.”

From Songfacts

That Tuesday, Mitchell, David Crosby and Stephen Stills all appeared on The Dick Cavett Show. Crosby has said that he and Stills were talking about the festival, and Mitchell wrote the song based on their experience there. Mitchell, however, claimed that she wrote the song before the band returned.

Joni Mitchell watched coverage of the Woodstock festival from a New York City hotel room. She had given up religion long ago, but found herself going through a “born-again Christian trip” when she wrote this song. Said Mitchell: “Suddenly, as performers, we were in the position of having so many people look to us for leadership, and for some unknown reason, I took it seriously and decided I needed a guide and leaned on God. So I was a little ‘God mad’ at the time, for lack of a better term, and I had been saying to myself, ‘Where are the modern miracles?’ Woodstock, for some reason, impressed me as being a modern miracle, like a modern-day fishes-and-loaves story. For a herd of people that large to cooperate so well, it was pretty remarkable and there was tremendous optimism. So I wrote the song ‘Woodstock’ out of these feelings.”

Joni Mitchell released this the same year on Ladies of the Canyon. It was also the B-side to her song “Big Yellow Taxi.” Her version is much more basic than the CSN&Y release.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s performance at Woodstock was only their second show together. Before forming the band, Crosby had been a member of The Byrds, Nash was with The Hollies, Stills and Young were members of Buffalo Springfield. Neil Young played with the group for only part of the set.

It may seem odd that the most famous song about Woodstock came from someone who wasn’t there, but Mitchell had a different perspective. 

Without Neil Young, Crosby, Stills & Nash returned to play Woodstock ’94. Other acts that played both festivals include Joe Cocker, The Band, and Santana.

Neil Young is not seen in the Woodstock movie even though he was there for part of the set. He strongly disagreed with the idea of the movie, so he declined to appear in it. If he were to play any songs in the movie, he’d have to be cropped out of frame. >>

The opening lyrics are a reference to the book of Matthew in which it says, “Blessed are those who try to make peace for they will be called children of God.”

In the UK the best-known version is the more country-rock flavored recording by Matthews’ Southern Comfort, which topped the British singles and peaked at #23 in the US. Ian Matthews had been the lead singer with Fairport Convention, leaving in 1969 to form Matthews’ Southern Comfort. He recalled in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner & Spencer Leigh: “I had bought Joni Mitchell’s album and we had to do four songs on a BBC lunchtime show. We worked up an arrangement for ‘Woodstock’ and the response was so good that we put it out as a single. Crosby, Stills & Nash’s record had just come out and so we waited to see what happened to that first.” In 1978 Matthews had a #13 hit in the US as a solo artist with “Shake It.”

Joni Mitchell’s no-show at Woodstock was sometimes reported as being caused by “transportation problems.” A persistent rumor was that James Taylor was supposed to give her a lift up the New York Thruway from her hotel in New York City, but Taylor was in a bad motorcycle accident on Martha’s Vineyard, breaking both arms and keeping him out from behind the wheel and away from the guitar for months. That was it for Joni’s trip to Woodstock. 

In September 1969, Stephen Stills was invited to a Jimi Hendrix session at the Record Plant in New York. Stills burst into the session with a song Joni Mitchell had recently composed, titled “Woodstock.” Joined by Hendrix and Buddy Miles, the trio laid down the tune months before Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released their popular rendition. The Hendrix, Stills and Miles version can be heard on Both Sides of the Sky, a 2018 compilation of previously unheard Hendrix material.

Woodstock

Well, I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, Tell me, where are you going
This he told me

Said, I’m going down to Yasgur’s Farm
Gonna join in a rock and roll band
Got to get back to the land and set my soul free

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

Well, then can I roam beside you?
I have come to lose the smog,
And I feel myself a cog in somethin’ turning
And maybe it’s the time of year
Yes and maybe it’s the time of man
And I don’t know who I am
But life is for learning

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere was a song and a celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bomber death planes
Riding shotgun in the sky,
Turning into butterflies
Above our nation

We are stardust, we are golden
We are caught in the devils bargain
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

Jefferson Starship – Count On Me

I’ve never been a fan of the Jefferson Airplane/Starship or just plain Starship but this one has good memories connected to it. It was released in 1978 and it peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100, #9 in Canada, and #24 in New Zealand. This is the last output by the band that I liked.

Marty Balin sang this song…whenever I think of Marty Balin I think of when he was in The Jefferson Airplane at Altamont. He stood up to the Hells Angels and got walloped over the head for his trouble. Paul Kantner (guitar player for the Airplane) then announced what happened. It went something like this.

Kantner to the crowd: “Hey man, I’d like to mention that the Hell’s Angels just smashed Marty Balin in the face and knocked him out for a bit. I’d like to thank you for that.”

A Hell’s Angel grabs a microphone: “Is this on? If you’re talking to me, I’m gonna talk to you.”

Kantner: “I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to the people who hit my lead singer in the head.”

Hell’s Angel: “You’re talking to my people.”

Kantner: “Right.”

Hell’s Angel: “Let me tell you what’s happening: You are what’s happening.”

Paul Kantner, Marty Balin and later Keith Richards stood up to the Angels at Altamont.

That Time When Paul Kantner Stood Up to the Hell’s Angels

Count On Me

Precious love
I’ll give it to you
Blue as the sky and deep in the
Eyes of a love so true
Beautiful face
You make me feel
Lite on the stairs and lost in the
Air of a love so real

And you can count on me girl
You can count on my love
Woman
You can count on me baby
You can count on my love to see
You through

Emerald eyes and China perfume
Caught in the wheel and lost in
The feel of a love so soon
Ruby lips
You make my song
Into the night and saved by the lite
Of a love so strong
See you through
Oh
You can count on me girl
You can count on my love

 

My 5 Favorite Baseball Announcers of All Time

This list will be different for every baseball fan. Many times it’s your team’s announcer and other times it’s a network announcer you grew up with. I tend to like announcers who are not complete homers although some I like… like Harry Caray. He made it fun even though he openly rooted for the Cubs…and Budweiser.

There are many more that could be on this list.

Related image

5: Harry Caray – He injected fun into the game. It was like a fan announcing the game. He wasn’t technically the best baseball announcer but he was enjoyable.

Related image

4: Mel Allen – I remember Mel when I was a kid on “This Week in Baseball.” That voice was a part of my childhood.

Related image

3: Bob Uecker – “Just a bit outside” the more I listen to him the more I appreciate him.

Related image

2: Jack BuckNOT Joe… You could hear his excitement for the game in his voice. For me, the best is between Jack and…

Image result for vin scully

1: Vin Scully – Being a Dodgers fan I was spoiled by Vin Scully… my number 1 favorite. If you tuned into a Dodger game you would not know who employed Mr. Scully. He would not root for the Dodgers and he knew when not to say anything and let the action speak for itself.

Vin

Jack

 

 

Culture Impact of The Exorcist…

When I think of horror movies..this one tops the list. I don’t get scared easy and slasher films make me laugh more than anything. This film is different to me than other horror movies. It’s been copied with sometimes awful results.

I got to see this in a theater in 2000 on Halloween at the re-release of the directors cut. It was an experience I’ll never forget. The place was full of teenagers who were scared even though they had seen more modern horror movies but this one still worked.

When it was released in 1973 it was a huge success. Lines wrapped around street corners waiting to get in to see this. It broke records across the nation in most theaters it opened. The Exorcist went on to gross $232.91 million (Not adjusted to today’s money) domestically. The Exorcist film has grossed over $441 million at the worldwide box office.

I remember first hand on how this was handled by theaters. My cousin was pregnant at the time this movie premiered in 1973 and they would not let her in to see the movie because they did not want to be liable.

People were fainting or becoming ill at almost every show. This movie has its place firmly in 70’s pop culture.

Stephen King: [The Exorcist] is a film about explosive social change, a finely honed focusing point for that entire youth explosion that took place in the late sixties and early seventies. It was a movie for all those parents who felt, in a kind of agony and terror, that they were losing their children and could not understand why or how it was happening.

 

 

The Stepford Wives 1975

I would not call it a great movie, no one would ever mistake this with Citizen Kane but it is a very interesting sci-fi – horror movie. When I first watched this movie…I did not know what it was about and I ended up liking the twist. I wanted to know where the term came from…Katherine Ross is great as Joanna. I have not watched the remake of it nor have I read the book. I liked how this movie draws you in suburbia only to start hinting at things that were not completely right with the Stepford Wives.

A husband and wife with kids (one kid being future 80s star Mary Stuart Masterson) move from New York City to Fairfield County, Connecticut to a suburb called Stepford. Walter Eberhart (Joanna’s husband) made the decision to move here without much input from Joanna. She is not happy about the move but tries to make the best out of it. Walter joins a men’s social club and Joanna starts noticing the wives not acting normal. All they talked about is cleaning and cooking and are happy all of the time. All the wives have model looks, spotless houses, and are sickeningly optimistic.

Joanna meets two other women (Bobbie and Charmaine) who notice the same thing and together they start investigating what is going on. 

After Charmaine takes a trip with her husband, Joanna and Bobbie notice that when she returns she is not the same anymore. She is just like the others. They both at first think the men are adding something to the water but it is much worse than that.

It’s interesting to see Tina Louise from Gilligans Island in this as Charmaine.

It’s a fun sci-fi movie.

Image result for the stepford wives

The Cast from Wiki

  • Katharine Ross as Joanna Eberhart
  • Paula Prentiss as Bobbie Markowe
  • Peter Masterson as Walter Eberhart
  • Nanette Newman as Carol van Sant
  • Tina Louise as Charmaine Wimperis
  • Patrick O’Neal as Dale “Diz” Coba
  • Josef Sommer as Ted van Sant
  • Franklin Cover as Ed Wimperis
  • Toni Reid as Marie Axhelm
  • George Coe as Claude Axhelm
  • Carole Mallory as Kit Sundersen
  • Barbara Rucker as Mary Ann Stavros
  • Judith Baldwin as Patricia Cornell
  • Michael Higgins as Mr. Cornell
  • William Prince as Ike Mazzard
  • Carol Eve Rossen as Dr. Fancher
  • Robert Fields as Raymond Chandler
  • Remak Ramsay as Mr. Atkinson
  • Mary Stuart Masterson as Joanna’s daughter Kim

Stevie Wonder – Higher Ground

Stevie Wonder in the 60s and 70s was unbeatable. Not discounting his 80s output but for me, it’s hard to beat his 70s output.

Higher Ground peaked at #4 in the Billboard 100, #29 in the UK, and #9 in Canada. The song was on the album Innervisions ($4) released in 1973. Right after the album was released Stevie was riding in a car when it collided it with a logging truck. Some logs crashed through the windshield and hit Stevie. He was in a coma for 4 days with a  severe brain contusion.

Steve Wonder on the song: I would like to believe in reincarnation. I would like to believe that there is another life. I think that sometimes your consciousness can happen on this earth a second time around. For me, I wrote “Higher Ground” even before the accident. But something must have been telling me that something was going to happen to make me aware of a lot of things and to get myself together. This is like my second chance for life, to do something or to do more, and to value the fact that I am alive.

From Songfacts

The lyrics deal with getting a second chance (“So darn glad he let me try it again”) and making the most of it. Strangely, Wonder recorded it three months before he was almost killed on his way to a benefit concert in Durham, North Carolina. The car he was riding in was behind a truck carrying a load of logs, which stopped suddenly, sending a log through the windshield and hitting Wonder in the head. The accident put Wonder in a coma for four days. His road manager and good friend, Ira Tucker Jr., knew that Stevie liked to listen to music at high volume, so he tried singing this song directly into his ear. At first he got no response, but the next day, he tried again and Wonder’s fingers started moving in time with the song – the first sign that he was going to recover.

Recalling his time in the coma, Wonder said, “For a few days I was definitely in a much better spiritual place that made me aware of a lot of things that concern my life and my future and what I have to do to reach another higher ground. This is like my second chance for life, to do something or to do more and to face the fact that I am alive.”

Innervisions was released on August 3, 1973, just three days before Wonder’s accident.

Guided by a mix of Christian morality and astrological mysticism, Wonder believed he was writing a “special song” whose lyrics suggested a coming day of judgment. “I did the whole thing in three hours” he told Q magazine. It was almost as if I had to get it done. I felt something was going to happen. I didn’t know what or when, but I felt something.”

When he turned 21, Wonder renegotiated his deal with Motown Records, taking control of his recordings by forming his own production and publishing companies. Motown was very regimented in terms of what musicians and producers were used on recordings, but Stevie wanted to do most of this work himself. In 1971, he teamed with the engineers Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil and began a constant cycle of recording in which he played most of the instruments himself. On this track, Wonder is the only credited musician, listed as playing Hohner clavinet, drums, and Moog bass.

In 1993 UB40 included a cover version on their Promises And Lies album that reached #45 in the US and #8 in the UK.

Wonder was a huge influence on The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who remade this with a more uptempo beat on their Mother’s Milk album. They even thank him in the lyrics by adding the phrase “You know what Stevie says.” Their version helped introduce many listeners to Wonder. >>

Wonder sang an a cappella version of this song with Alicia Keys at the Grammy Awards in 2006.

Higher Ground

People keep on learnin’
Soldiers keep on warrin’
World keep on turnin’
‘Cause it won’t be too long

Powers keep on lyin’
While your people keep on dyin’
World keep on turnin’
‘Cause it won’t be too long

I’m so glad that he let me try it again
‘Cause my last time on earth I lived a whole world of sin
I’m so glad that I know more than I knew then
Gonna keep on tryin’
Till I reach my highest ground

Lovers keep on lovin’
Believers keep on believin’
Sleepers just stop sleepin’
‘Cause it won’t be too long
Oh no

I’m so glad that he let me try it again
‘Cause my last time on earth I lived a whole world of sin
I’m so glad that I know more than I knew then
Gonna keep on tryin’
Till I reach my highest ground

Woo!
Till I reach my highest ground
No one’s gonna bring me down
Oh no
Till I reach my highest ground

Don’t let nobody bring you down (they’ll sho ‘nough try)
God is gonna show you higher ground