American Breed – Bend Me, Shape Me

I owned a softrock compilation album with this song and It’s So Nice To Be With You on it. Bend Me, Shape Me peaked at #5 in the Billboard 100 in 1968. The group was formed in Cicero, Illinois as Gary & The Knight Lites. The founding members included Gary Loizzo- vocals and guitar, Charles Colbert, Jr.- bass guitar and vocals, Al Ciner- guitar and vocals, and Jim Michalak on drums.

This was originally recorded in 1967 by The Outsiders, who were known for their hit “Time Won’t Let Me.” 

From Songfacts

This was written by songwriters Scott English and Larry Weiss. Larry Weiss later wrote “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

The song is about a guy who is so enamored with a girl that he will let her do whatever she wants to him as long as she continues to love him.

In the UK this was a #3 hit in 1968 for Amen Corner. The following year they went to the top of the UK charts with “(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice.”

Bend Me, Shape Me

You are all the woman I need, and baby you know it,
You can make this beggar a king, a clown or a poet.
I’ll give you all that I own.
You got me standing in line
Out in the cold,
pay me some mind.
Bend me, shape me
Anyway you want me,
Long as you love me, it’s all right
Bend me, shape me
Anyway you want me,
You got the power to turn on the light.
Everybody tells me I’m wrong to want you so badly,
But there’s a force driving me on, I follow it gladly.
So let them laugh I don’t care,
Cause I got nothing to hide,
All that I want is you by my side.
Bend me, shape me
Anyway you want me,
Long as you love me, it’s all right
Bend me, shape me
Anyway you want me,
You got the power to turn on the light.
Bend me shape me anyway you want me

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_American_Breed

 

John Lennon – Instant Karma

This track is so alive. Lennon’s voice as always cuts through as always and Lennon’s sense of rhythm is different as always. He wrote and recorded this song in one day. John enlisted George Harrison, Klaus Voormann, Alan White and Billy Preston to help him record the song.

The song peaked at #3 in the Billboard 100 and #5 in the UK in 1970. Phil Spector produced this track with great results. John kept it simple and Spector produced an exciting record and didn’t overproduce it. The drums are really in your face in this recording.

From Songfacts

Karma is the belief that your actions affect your future lives. Good deeds will have a positive effect while bad deeds bring negative consequences. The concept of Karma is popular in the Hindu and Buddhist religions. Lennon’s idea of “Instant Karma” refers to a more immediate concept of accountability for your actions. Basically, what comes around, goes around.

It was unusual in the Beatles era for a song to be written and put into tape the same day. Lennon told Rolling Stone in January 1971 about the recording of this song and its quick turnaround: “I wrote it in the morning on the piano. I went to the office and sang it many times. So I said ‘Hell, let’s do it,’ and we booked the studio, and Phil came in, and said, ‘How do you want it?’ I said, ‘You know, 1950’s.’ He said, ‘right,’ and boom, I did it in about three goes or something like that. I went in and he played it back and there it was. The only argument was that I said a bit more bass, that’s all; and off we went.”

In this song, Lennon addresses critics who are not on board with his message of unity and hope (“You better get yourself together…”), but according to Yoko Ono, the song is really an invitation, not a condemnation. “It’s like, ‘Let’s all be together and anybody who’s out there who’s not in this game, why don’t you join us?,'” she told Uncut in 1998. “And to say that ‘We all shine on,’ it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing, instead of saying some people are shining and some people are not. It’s a really uplifting song.”

A good indication of Lennon’s mindset at the time and inspiration for this song can be seen in the statement he and Yoko released on December 31, 1969, declaring 1970 “Year 1 AP (After Peace).” The statement read: “We believe that the last decade was the end of the old machine crumbling to pieces. And we think we can get it together, with your help. We have great hopes for the new year.”

George Harrison played guitar on this and Billy Preston played piano on this track. Preston helped out The Beatles with their Let It Be Album.

According to Philip Norman’s book John Lennon: The Life, the chorus was made up of Mal Evans, Yoko, and a small group of strangers Lennon rounded up from a West End pub called Hatchetts.

This was the first of many recordings by members of the Beatles that Phil Spector produced in 1970. He helmed three albums in the same year for them, which were Let It Be for The Beatles, All Things Must Pass for George Harrison and Plastic Ono Band for John Lennon. According to the BBC book The Record Producers, John Lennon wanted Spector to produce a single before letting him take on Let It Be. “Instant Karma” proved that Spector could work with sparse instrumentation and still produce a hit, and it won over Lennon.

In 1993, “Instant Karma” was used in a Nike commercial directed by David Fincher. Predictably, many of Lennon’s fans did not appreciate his music being used to support a major corporation, and Yoko Ono took some heat for allowing the song’s use. Yoko explained her decision in an interview with Option, where she said: “Look, even if we have something against big business, big business is going to thrive. It’s going to be there. The way I see it is: I’ve got an access there for millions of people to hear ‘Instant Karma’; and I got $800,000, which went to the United Negro College Fund. That’s what I got for that song. You have a problem with that? What’s the alternative? Big business is going to be there no matter what we do. So if it’s going to be there, why don’t we use it for positive things. To say this is wrong is the same kind of snobbery as, like, an avant-garde composer saying, ‘Ah, we should not do that commercial deal; it’s bad.’ I don’t buy that. I mean, what is sell-out? What does sell-out mean?”

Alan White played drums on this song. White was a member of the band Yes, and also worked with George Harrison, Joe Cocker, Ginger Baker and The Ventures.

The title of the Stephen King novel The Shining, which was later made into a film starring Jack Nicholson, was inspired by the refrain in this song: “We all shine on.” 

At first, King called his novel The Shine, but when he found out that “Shine” was an archaic, derogatory term used to describe African-Americans (referring to shoe-shiners), he changed it to The Shining.

Instant Karma is also the title of Mark Swartz’ 2002 novel.

In their 2009 “Blue Sky” TV commercial, Chase bank used a version of this song sung by Peter Murphy. While the “We all shine on” chorus is a sensible sentiment for a bank looking to attract new customers, invoking “Karma” at a time when large banks like Chase helped trigger a financial meltdown was a questionable call. Also puzzling was the choice of Murphy, who is the former lead singer of the Goth band Bauhaus.

The Australian rock band Midnight Oil performed this during their famous protest outside Exxon headquarters in New York City in 1990, a year after the Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. Jim Moginie, the band’s guitarist/keyboardist, told Blurt Magazine: “We played ‘Instant Karma’ for the first time, which summed up matters pretty well about the oil spill. It felt good to make the point that needed to be made about Exxon.”

Instant Karma

Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead
What in the world you thinking of
Laughing in the face of love
What on earth you tryin’ to do
It’s up to you, yeah you

Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna look you right in the face
Better get yourself together darlin’
Join the human race
How in the world you gonna see
Laughin’ at fools like me
Who in the hell d’you think you are
A super star
Well, right you are

Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well we all shine on
Ev’ryone come on

Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you off your feet
Better recognize your brothers
Ev’ryone you meet
Why in the world are we here
Surely not to live in pain and fear
Why on earth are you there
When you’re ev’rywhere
Come and get your share

Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah we all shine on
Come on and on and on on on
Yeah yeah, alright, uh huh, ah

Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah we all shine on
On and on and on on and on

Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun

Neil Young – Down By The River

This song was on Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere released in 1969. Crazy Horse was on the album also…Crazy Horse included Danny Whitten – guitar, Billy Talbot – Bass and Ralph Molina on drums.  The album included Cinnamon Girl and Cowgirl in the Sand.

Neil Young said that he wrote this song as well as “Cinnamon Girl” and “Cowgirl In The Sand” in one day while sick with a fever…thats a good days work.

With the chorus of “I shot my baby – down by the river,” this song gets your attention. In a 1970 interview, Neil Young cleared it up: “There’s no real murder in it. It’s about blowing your thing with a chick. See, now in the beginning, it’s ‘I’ll be on your side, you be on mine’. It could be anything. Then the chick thing comes in. Then at the end it’s a whole other thing. It’s a plea… a desperation cry.” 

From Songfacts

Young recorded Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere with his band, Crazy Horse. Soon after the album was released, he was asked to join Crosby, Stills & Nash, and he spent the next year dividing his time between that group and Crazy Horse.

Neil elaborated the song during a lengthy introduction before a September 27th life performance in New Orleans: “I’d like to sing you a song about a guy who had a lot of trouble controlling himself,” Young began. “He let the dark side side come thru a little too bright.” The explanation goes on the describe the murder, the killer’s arrest and, finally, the guilt he feels as he realized what he’s done.”

Down By The River

Be on my side I’ll be on your side, baby
There is no reason for you to hide,
This much madness is too much sorrow,
It’s impossible to make it today,
Hey, hey, ooh-ooh

She could drag me over the rainbow,
Send me away.

Down by the river
I shot my baby
Down by the river,
Dead, shot her dead.

You take my hand, I’ll take your hand,
Together we may get away.

Badfinger – Midnight Caller

Gorgeous song from Badfinger. Pete Ham wrote this song and he sounds a bit like McCartney. The song is about a friend of the band who turned into a prostitute (midnight caller) and distanced herself from her old friends and her old self. It was on the No Dice album that peaked at #28 in 1970 in the Billboard album chart.

Midnight Caller never charted but it is one of my favorite Badfinger songs.

Midnight Caller

Beneath the midnight caller
She thinks of paper green
You never hear them calling her name
They just know where they’ve been

You never hear her holler
The tears no longer come
She reads her daily book of the past
That shows of everyone

Grey years that show in her hair
Can’t be, but don’t seem to care
She unlocks the door and there’s no one there

She sees a daytime stroller
Walk from the night before
And though she paints a smile on her face
He won’t be back no more

She’s got no saint to follow
She’s got no place to go
Too proud to ask an old friend for help
Too proud to let him know

Grey years that show in her hair
Can’t be, but don’t seem to care
She knocks the door and there’s no one there

Nobody (nobody), nobody (nobody), nobody’s gonna help you now.

Gallery – It’s So Nice To Be With You

I had this song on a compilation album I had when I was around 18. Gallery was a 1970s American rock band, formed in Detroit, Michigan by Jim Gold. While they did record a number of songs, they are most famous for this 1972 hit single. They are a true one hit wonder.

The song peaked at #4 in the Billboard 100 and  #1 in Canada in 1972.

This is the only song they released that was in the Billboard 100.

It’s So Nice To Be With You

Oh, it’s so nice to be with you
I love all the things ya say and do
And it’s so nice to hear you say
You’re gonna please me in every way
Honey, I got the notion you’re causin’ commotion in my soul

Baby, you and me have got somethin’ that’s real
I know it’s gonna last a lifetime
Aw, ya better believe it, girl at night I call your name
Darkness fills my room, I’m only dreamin’
About the time I’m gonna be with you

Oh, it’s so nice to be with you
I love all the things ya say and do
And it’s so nice to hear you say
You’re gonna please me in every way
Honey, I got the notion you’re causin’ commotion in my soul

When I’m feelin’ down
You’re there to pick me up and help me to carry on
Aw, little things mean a lot when you need a shoulder to cry on
I’m there to ease the pain and chase away the rain
Aw, darlin’, I just gotta say

Oh, it’s so nice to be with you
I love all the things ya say and do
And it’s so nice to hear you say
You’re gonna please me in every way

Oh, it’s so nice to be with you
I love all the things ya say and do
And it’s so nice to hear you say
You’re gonna please me

The Seeds – Pushin’ Too Hard

This song has a gritty garage sound to it. There were many 1960’s garage bands that formed after The Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan. The Seeds were formed in 1965 by Sly Saxon. Saxon wrote, “Pushin’ Too Hard” while sitting in the front seat of a car waiting for his girlfriend to finish grocery shopping at a supermarket. The song peaked at #36 in the Billboard 100 in 1967. The song is simple and repetitive but catchy in its own way.

The Seeds barely missed another top 40 hit with “Can’t Seem To Make You Mine.”

 

Pushin’ Too Hard

You’re pushin’ too hard, uh-pushin’ on me

You’re pushin’ too hard, uh-what you want me to be

You’re pushin’ too hard about the things you say

You’re pushin’ too hard every night and day

You’re pushin’ too hard

Pushin’ too hard on me (too hard)

 

Well all I want is to just be free

Live my life the way I wanna be

All I want is to just have fun

Live my life like it’s just begun

But you’re pushin’ too hard

Pushin’ too hard on me (too hard)

 

Better listen girl to what I’m tellin’ you

You better listen girl, or we are through

You better stop all your foolin’ around

Stop your runnin’ all over town

‘Cause you’re pushin’ too hard

Pushin’ too hard on me (too hard)

 

Well I know there’s a lotta fish in the sea

I know some would-uh stay by me

So if you don’t think I’m gonna try

You better ask yourself the reason why

‘Cause you’re pushin’ too hard

Pushin’ too hard on me (too hard)

 

Pushin’ too hard, pushin’ too hard

Pushin’ too hard, pushin’ too hard on me (too hard)

Pushin’ too hard, pushin’ too hard

Pushin’ too hard, pushin’ too hard on me (too hard)

Fleetwood Mac – Never Going Back Again

This song was a B side of “Don’t Stop” with both songs coming on the great album Rumors. This is a nice short acoustic Lindsey Buckingham written song. It’s a very understated but powerful song compared with the other ones on the album and one of my favorites.

Lindsey is a great guitar player. He is not flashy but he plays just what is needed like the sustained solo in “Go Your Own Way.” This song is what made me start listening to his playing.

from Rolling Stone Magazine: In the studio, co-producer Ken Caillat asked Buckingham to restring his guitar every 20 minutes. “I wanted to get the best sound on every one of his picking parts,” Caillat said. “I’m sure the roadies wanted to kill me. Restringing the guitar three times every hour was a bitch. But Lindsey had lots of parts on the song, and each one sounded magnificent.”

From Songfacts

According to Q magazine, June 2009 the inspiration for this Lindsey Buckingham penned song was a brief relationship with a woman whom he’d met on the road. Buckingham had only recently broken up with his Fleetwood Mac co-singer Stevie Nicks.

Most of the Rumours album was recorded at The Record Plant in Sausalito, California, but this song was recorded at Studio City Sound Recording Studios in Los Angeles. According to recording assistant Cris Morris, this song took a while to record. Said Morris: “It was Lindsey’s pet project, just two guitar tracks but he did it over and over again. In the end his vocal didn’t quite match the guitar tracks so we had to slow them down a little.”

Never Going Back Again

She broke down and let me in
Made me see where I’ve been

Been down one time
Been down two times
I’m never going back again

You don’t know what it means to win
Come down and see me again

Been down one time
Been down two times
I’m never going back again