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

Smokey Robinson & the Miracles – I Second That Emotion

Smokey has one of the best voices ever and he can write like no one else. Everyone from John Lennon to Bob Dylan was a fan. I had the single “Tears of a Clown” given to me as a kid by my cousin along with this one.

This song peaked at #4 in the Billboard 100 in 1967.

Al Cleveland and Smokey Robinson wrote this song. It was inspired by a trip to a department store. Robinson and Cleveland were shopping at a Detroit department store. Smokey found a set of pearls for his wife, Claudette. “They’re beautiful,” he said to the salesperson. “I sure hope she likes them.” Cleveland then added, “I second that emotion.” and the song was born.

From Songfacts

“I second that motion” is a common phrase heard at meetings in America where policy is being determined. It’s what Motown producer Al Cleveland meant to say when he was on a shopping trip with Smokey Robinson.

Robinson and Cleveland produced the song, and it was released in October 1968, entering the US Top 40 in December, about a year after it was written. The song was also a #1 R&B hit.

This was the first Top 10 hit for the group after their 1967 name change from The Miracles. Robinson and Cleveland teamed up to write several more hits for the group, including “Special Occasion” (#26 US, 1968), “Yester Love” (#31 US, 1968), and “Baby, Baby Don’t Cry” (#8 US, 1969).

Robinson and Cleveland wrote a third verse for this song, which pushed the length to 3:15. Acutely aware that songs longer than 3 minutes were often denied airplay, Motown head Berry Gordy had them eliminate the verse and bring the song down to 2:38, which was much more palatable for radio programmers. Robinson was OK with altering the song, as he had tremendous respect for Gordy’s judgment and wanted the song to be a hit. He felt that he could tell a story in a song in whatever time he was allotted – even under 3 minutes.

In songwriting circles, this one is often studied for its use of secondary rhymes and melodic intricacy. Smokey Robinson sprinkled in words like “notion” and “devotion” to compliment the title, all while rhyming verses with phrases like “kisses sweet” and “no repeat.” The guitar line also perfectly accents the vocal. Robinson credits Berry Gordy for his songwriting evolution. Gordy was a songwriter before he started Motown (he wrote song for Jackie Wilson), and he taught Robinson how to write intricate, yet accessible songs like this one.

This was featured on the soundtrack of the 1983 film The Big Chill. 

This song was a favorite of Jerry Garcia; he often performed it with the Grateful Dead and with the Jerry Garcia Band. These versions show up on a variety of bootleg recordings.

I Second That Emotion

Maybe you’ll wanna give me kisses sweet
But only for one night with no repeat.
And maybe you’ll go away and never call,
And a taste of honey is worse that none at all.
Oh little girl!

In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.
So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.

Maybe you’ll think that love will tie you down
And you don’t have the time to hang around.
Or maybe you’ll think that love will make us fools,
And so it makes you wise to break the rules.
Oh little girl!

In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.
So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.

In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.
So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.

Sam Cooke – Wonderful World

Sam Cooke is one of the artists that you have to think…what could have been if he wouldn’t have had such a tragic death at such a young age… Not that he didn’t have a very successful career to that point. He had 20 Top Ten Hits, 29 Top 40 Hits, and 4 Number 1 hits in the R&B Charts.

In the Billboard 100, he had 34 songs in the top 100 and 4 top ten hits. He died when he was only 33 years old. I would suggest reading All Things Thriller’s post about Sam Cooke’s death.

The first time I heard the Cooke version of this song was in Animal House when Belushi was heading down the cafeteria line and for me this is my go-to version. Cooke had such a smooth soulful voice.

Cooke recorded Wonderful World on Keen Records shortly before he left the label over a royalty dispute in 1959. In 1960, Cooke had moved on to RCA Victor, but Keen, still owning the rights to Wonderful World, released the single in April 1960.

From Songfacts

“Wonderful World,” or “(What a) Wonderful World,” was one of Sam Cooke’s 29 US Top 40 hits released between 1957 and 1964. The song was released on April 14, 1960 and quickly reached #2 on the US Black Singles chart, #12 on the US Pop Singles chart, and #27 on the UK Singles chart.

“Wonderful World” was originally written by music legends Lou Alder and Herb Alpert, but Cooke added the finishing lyrical touches, and the trio used the songwriting pseudonym “Barbara Campbell,” the name of Cooke’s high school sweetheart. Adler went on from this success to found Dunhill Records and manage big name artists such as Jan & Dean, The Mamas & The Papas, and Carole King. Not to be outdone, his writing partner, Herb Alpert, put the “A” in A&M Records after performing for several years with his band Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass.

Don’t let the bouncy rhythm and upbeat tempo fool you. According to Craig Werner, a professor of African American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the song may have a more politically charged meaning. In his book, A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race and the Soul of America, Werner writes that “Wonderful World” may be one of the first examples of Cooke’s crossover into politics, where he informs white listeners that he “don’t know much about history” and “don’t know much biology” as a comment that these are the things to forget about African-Americans, and all they need to remember is love.

Throughout the years, “Wonderful World” has been covered by a number of artists including Otis Redding, Bryan Ferry, Michael Bolton, and Rod Stewart. After Sam Cooke’s death in 1964, there were a rash of “tribute” covers released including a 1965 up-tempo version by Herman’s Hermits, which reached #4 on the US Pop Singles chart and #7 on the UK Singles chart, and a rendition by The Supremes released on their 1965 album “We Remember Sam Cooke.” In 1977, Art Garfunkel put his spin on the hit for his album, Watermark, which featured harmonies by friend, James Taylor, and former partner, Paul Simon.

“Wonderful World” has been a hit with filmmakers since its release. The song can be heard in the famous lunchroom scene of the 1978 classic, Animal House. It was also featured in the 1983 Richard Gere drama, Breathless, and appeared in the opening titles of the 2005 Will Smith comedy, Hitch. A Greg Chapman cover of “Wonderful World” was spotlighted in the 1985 film, Witness, which spurred resurgence in popularity for the single and led to use of the Cooke original in a well-remembered 1986 British ad for Levi 501 Jeans. The song originally peaked at #27 in the UK, but after the commercial, the song was re-released there and reached #2.

According to Rolling Stone, before the song came out, Cooke liked to sing it for women he met, telling them he’d made it up on the spot just for them.

Wonderful World

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book,
Don’t know much about the french I took
But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me, too,
What a wonderful world this would be

Don’t know much about geography,
Don’t know much trigonometry
Don’t know much about algebra,
Don’t know what a slide rule is for
But I do know that one and one is two,
And if this one could be with you,
What a wonderful world this would be

Now, I don’t claim to be an “A” student,
But I’m tryin’ to be
For maybe by being an “A” student, baby,
I can win your love for me

Don’t know much about history,
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book,
Don’t know much about the french I took
But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me, too,
What a wonderful world this would be

History
Biology
Science book
French I took
But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me, too,
What a wonderful world this would be

Rolling Stones – Ruby Tuesday

I wish this era of the Stones would have lasted longer. Yes, I love the electric blues slanted work they did after this but they wrote some great pop songs. Brian Jones plays the recorder (it sounds like a flute) in this song. You don’t hear much about Brian now but he expanded their sound in the mid-sixties with an array of instruments.

Bill Wyman said that Keith wrote the lyrics and Brian helped finish the melody. This song was the B side to “Let’s Spend The Night Together.”

This song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100 in 1967.

 

Keith Richards: “That’s one of those things – some chick you’ve broken up with. And all you’ve got left is the piano and the guitar and a pair of panties. And it’s goodbye you know. And so it just comes out of that. And after that, you just build on it. It’s one of those songs that are easiest to write because you’re really right there and you really sort of mean it. And for a songwriter, hey break his heart and he’ll come up with a good song.” 

 

 

From Songfacts

The fourth US #1 hit for the Rolling Stones, this ballad is about a groupie. It may have been inspired by Linda Keith, who was Keith Richards’ girlfriend. Richards said in According to the Rolling Stones: “It was probably written about Linda Keith not being there (laughs). I don’t know, she had pissed off somewhere. It was very mournful, very, VERY Ruby Tuesday and it was a Tuesday.”

Originally, this was called “Title B.”

Keith Richards and Brian Jones wrote most of this, but in keeping with Stones tradition, it was credited to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

Brian Jones was their lead guitarist until he died in 1969, and could play just about any instrument. 

A large double-bass was used. Bill Wyman plucked the notes while Richards played it with a bow.

This was not on the English version of Between The Buttons because it was already released as a single there, and it was customary not to put singles on albums.

This was supposed to be the B-side of “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” but many radio stations shied away from the sexual implications of that song, so they played this instead and made it a hit.

Jagger: “Ruby Tuesday is good. I think that’s a wonderful song. It’s just a nice melody, really. And a lovely lyric. Neither of which I wrote, but I always enjoy singing it.”

The singer Melanie, who had a #1 hit with “Brand New Key” in 1971, released a cover of “Ruby Tuesday” in 1970 that went to #9 in the UK and #52 in the US. Rod Stewart also released a popular cover that was accompanied by a video. His version made #11 in the UK in 1993.

Ruby Tuesday

She would never say where she came from
Yesterday don’t matter if it’s gone
While the sun is bright
Or in the darkest night
No one knows, she comes and goes

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday
Who could hang a name on you?
When you change with every new day
Still I’m gonna miss you

Don’t question why she needs to be so free
She’ll tell you it’s the only way to be
She just can’t be chained
To a life where nothings gained
And nothings lost, at such a cost

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday
Who could hang a name on you?
When you change with every new day
Still I’m gonna miss you

“There’s no time to lose”, I heard her say
Catch your dreams before they slip away
Dying all the time
Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind
Ain’t life unkind?

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday
Who could hang a name on you?
When you change with every new day
Still I’m gonna miss you

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday
Who could hang a name on you?
When you change with every new day
Still I’m gonna miss you

Paul McCartney – Take It Away

That simple bass guitar riff hooks me when it comes in during the drum intro.

A good pop song from Paul McCartney in the 1980s. This was on an album called Tug of War which peaked at #1 in the Billboard album charts. The highlight to me is another McCartney bass line. The song peaked at #10 in the Billboard 100 in 1982.

Paul played bass, Ringo played drums, and George Martin played electric piano. Eric Stewart from 10cc influenced the layered backup vocals.

Paul McCartney:

“Well, there were a couple of songs that we ended up recording which Ringo asked me to write at a certain period. I was writing some songs for Ringo and “Take It Away” was in amongst those songs. I thought it would suit me better the way it went into the chorus and stuff; I didn’t think it was very Ringo.”

“I mean, the chorus I think, was Ringo, the other bits… but that’s how that comes to be that kind of track I think, I was right in that sort of direction with Ringo in mind actually.”

 

Take It Away

Take it away
Want to hear you play
Till the lights go down
Take it away
Don’t you want to stay
Till there’s no one else around?

Take it away
Want to hear you play
Till the lights go down
Take it away
Don’t you want to stay
Till there’s no one else around?

Lonely driver
Out on the road
With a hundred miles to go
Sole survivor
Carrying the load
Switches on his radio

Take it away
Want to hear you play
Till the lights go down (down down)
Take it away
Don’t you want to stay
Till there’s no one else around?

Take it away
Want to hear you play
Till the lights go down (down down)
Take it away
Don’t you want to stay
Till there’s no one else around?

In the audience
Watching the show
With a paper in his hand
(In his hand, in his hand)
Some important impresario
Has a message for the band

Oh
Take it away
Want to hear you play
Till the lights go down (down down)
Take it away
Don’t you want to stay
Till there’s no one else around?

You never know who may be
Listening to you
Never know who may be
Listening to you
You never know who may be
Listening to you
Take it away, take it away

After hours
Late in the bar
By a darkened corner seat
Faded flowers wait in the jar
Till the evening is complete

Ah
Ah
Ah
Ah

 

 

 

Led Zeppelin – Ozone Baby

This was on the album Coda it was released two years after John Bonham’s death and features outtakes from sessions throughout their career. I heard this one more than the others on the album.

Recorded in 1978 at a studio in Sweden owned by Abba, this song was intended for the Led Zeppelin album In Through the Out Door, but it didn’t make the cut. Ozone Baby peaked at #14 in the Mainstream Rock Songs Charts in 1982. Coda was released in 1982 and peaked at #6 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1983.

Coda is by no means a great album but it does have some enjoyable tracks like Wearing and Tearing and Darlene. It’s not like they set out to record an album… it was released to honor contractual commitments to Atlantic Records.

From Songfacts

The entire band’s instrumentals come in right at the opening with Robert Plant’s vocals starting in soon after. This was Zeppelin’s typical style, a straightforward “get it done” 12-bar-blues attitude without very much pretension. It shows something of their character that they were consistent in doing this on one of the last songs done by the classic lineup.

Another telling sign of Zeppelin’s character: How many drummers do most bands go through? Next to the bass, the drummer is usually the most-rotated spot. Not Zeppelin! Lose the drummer, and that’s it, the band calls it quits – but to be fair, growing tensions within the band could have broken them up anyway.

A bit of rock history trivia: Led Zeppelin today is remembered as practically having walked on water. One easily forgets that back when these albums were coming out, while they had a huge fan base, rock critics panned them almost unanimously. Rolling Stone raspberried every single Zep album.

 

Ozone Baby

I hear ya knock on my door 
I ain’t been saving this scene for ya honey 
Don’t wantcha ringin’ my bell 
It’s too late for you to be my honey 

Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love 

Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love 

Don’t want you wasting my time 
Tired of ya doing the things that you do 
It’s no use standing in line 
Follow the line, you better follow queue 

I say, oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love 

Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love, my my own

I could sail a river run dead, but I know it’s dead
I could I wish for a million, yeah but I know it’s dead
I could cry within the darkness, I sail away 
I save a lifetime forever?
But you know, you know, you know what I say 

And I say oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love 

Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love, my my own 

Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love

Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love, my own true love
My own true love, my own true love
My own true love
I said Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love
Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love, my own

Beatles – If I Needed Someone

Mid-Sixties pop classic. If I Needed Someone is a George Harrison song that was on the album Rubber Soul. In America this was one of the four songs left off of Capital’s version of Rubber Soul…it was included on Yesterday and Today…an album that Capital put together for the American market.  It was originally issued only in the United States and Canada

George Harrison said the song was influenced by the Byrds:  “It was based on the twelve-string figure from ‘The Bells Of Rhymney’ by The Byrds.”

McCartney called the song the first “landmark” song written by George for the Beatles.

George Harrison:  “It was like a million other songs written around one chord, a D chord actually.”  “If you move your fingers about you get various little melodies.  That guitar line, or variations on it, is found in many a song, and it amazes me that people still find new permutations of the same notes.”

As a guitarist,  there are many songs that have been written around the D chord by moving your fingers in different positions. Here Comes The Sun, Woman by Lennon, Free Falling, Sweet Home Alabama, and like George said…a million others.

On January 24th, 1996, “If I Needed Someone” got its first and only release on a single.  The Capitol series of “For Jukebox Only” singles paired the song as the b-side to “Norwegian Wood” and was printed on both black and green vinyl.

The Hollies received an early version of the song and then quickly recorded their own version of the song and released it as their next single at the end of 1965.  It reached #20 in the UK, making it the first George Harrison composition to make the charts.

George made it known he didn’t like their version…but to me, the Hollies did a good job.

From Songfacts

This was written by George Harrison, who got the idea from a few of The Byrds’ songs including “The Bells of Rhymney” and “She Don’t Care About Time.” It was not Ravi Shankar that introduced George to the wonderment of sitar, but Byrd traveler David Crosby shortly after Shawn Phillips had shown him the basic steps. In 1965 The Beatles toured the US and visited Ravi at World Pacific Studios where The Byrds had permanent residency. It was also here that Roger McGuinn’s Rickenbacker jingle jangle influenced Harrison’s “If I Needed Someone.” In turn, The Byrds were influenced by Harrison’s 12-string guitar work. >>

Former Byrds guitarist Roger McGuinn recalled to Christianity Today magazine: “George Harrison wrote that song after hearing the Byrds’ recording of “Bells of Rhymney.” He gave a copy of his new recording to Derek Taylor, the Beatles’ former press officer, who flew to Los Angeles and brought it to my house. He said George wanted me to know that he had written the song based on the rising and falling notes of my electric Rickenbacker 12-string guitar introduction. It was a great honor to have in some small way influenced our heroes the Beatles.”

 

If I Needed Someone

If I needed someone to love
You’re the one that I’d be thinking of
If I needed someone

If I had some more time to spend
Then I guess I’d be with you my friend
If I needed someone
Had you come some other day
Then it might not have been like this
But you see now I’m too much in love

Carve your number on my wall
And maybe you will get a call from me
If I needed someone
Ah, ah, ah, ah

If I had some more time to spend
Then I guess I’d be with you my friend
If I needed someone
Had you come some other day
Then it might not have been like this
But you see now I’m too much in love

Carve your number on my wall
And maybe you will get a call from me
If I needed someone
Ah, ah