Happy 75th Birthday, Joni Mitchell

Legendary Joni Mitchell turned 75 yesterday (November 7). I have to admit, I wasn’t a big fan back in the late ’60s / early ’70s when the world was bombarded with songs like her ubiquitous “Big Yellow Taxi.” Or so I thought. So many songs I liked, recorded by others, had been written by Joni, including: “Woodstock” (Crosby, Stills, & Nash), “Both Sides Now” and “Chelsea Morning” (Judy Collins), and “The Circle Game” (Buffy Sainte-Marie). Even today, I’m still discovering Joni’s songs through covers by other artists, such as Keith Harkin’s cover of “River.”

In a belated birthday tribute, I’m offering you three videos, two by Joni and one cover. The title song from Joni’s album “Blue” is a bittersweet love song. Joni’s rendition of “The Circle Game” is a hopeful song of a child’s journey to adulthood. From the thousands of covers available, I’ve chosen the glorious Laura Benanti’s “He Comes For Conversation.” Enjoy!

 

 

 

Another Review: Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars

About two months ago, I reblogged Read ~ Rock ~ Review’s “Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars” book review. That review gives a  fuller, well-rounded insight into the book being published November 11, 2018, than a more recent review has. Like the reviewer I reblogged a couple of days ago, Read ~ Rock ~ Review’s reviewer was lucky enough to read an advance copy — one of the earliest, in fact. RRR’s detailed review makes clear that reviewer actually read the entire book. Go to the link highlighted above; it’s worth a re-read. (I would reblog it for your convenience, but apparently WP will only let me reblog the original article once and won’t allow me to reblog my own posting even once.)

 

 

Let’s Go!: Benjamin Orr and the Cars (Reblog)

My copy is on the way. Can’t wait to read this!

Reblogging this without much comment may have been a knee-jerk fan-girl move on my part, but, after reflection, I have a little more to say.  First, I’m impressed that this reviewer, who doesn’t seem to be a rabid rock’n’roll / Cars / Benjamin Orr fan, has given it a respectable 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Second, the review focuses on Ben’s early life as a musician, covering roughly five to six years up to 1969 when he would have been 22 and met Ric Ocasek. Granted, you don’t want a book review to tell the whole story, but this review doesn’t do justice to either Benjamin Orr or to the writer, Joe Milliken. Ending with ” They would later become The Cars and famous, The rest is in the book and history” leaves the impression that this is just another behind-the-band story. It isn’t.

Benjamin Orr passed away at 53 years old on October 3, 2000, thirty-one years after meeting Ric Ocasek. This reviewer tossed away more than half of Orr’s life, including twelve years post-Cars. During that time he evolved as a complex man and musician. Blithely ending the review with the vague “rest is history” tells me that this reviewer likely didn’t read the entire book.

BookZone

Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars

This was a well-researched book about The Cars and Benjamin Orr, born Orzechowski aka “Benny 11-Letters” because so many of his friends and acquaintances had trouble pronouncing his name. He was almost universally liked as he was making his way in the music business, seemingly a genuinely nice and caring man. Ben was also quite talented when it came to singing and drumming, and learning other musical instruments from what many of his friends had to say in the book. You certainly could use a scorecard for this one to keep up with all of the band incarnations and band member rotations. I was amazed at the number of times the name of the band changed, and it didn’t always depend on whether any members were moved in or out. There were some interesting anecdotes in the book of things…

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Song Lyric Sunday — “The Music is the Magic”

Last week I actually guessed the theme for today’s Song Lyric Sunday would be “hidden.” I never saw Helen Vahdati’s confirmation of my guess, so I was as surprised as anyone else that the theme is hide/hiding/hidden. Had I known that a week ago, I probably would have chosen quickly, written, and scheduled to publish automatically today. I’m glad I didn’t because I found jazz singer, songwriter, actress, civil rights activist Abbey Lincoln.

Born in 1930, one of the youngest of 12 siblings, she taught herself to play piano by listening to records her handyman father borrowed from neighbors. Those Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughn albums were her early influences. Holiday’s influence, especially, is easily heard in “The Music is the Magic.” Considered by many to be “the musical successor to Billie Holiday,” she eschewed jazz conventions like scat and improvisation. Like Holiday, she emphasized song lyrics, imbuing the words with emotion. She wrote her first of 80 songs when she was 40, primarily because she was dissatisfied with singing romantic standards. She wanted to sing songs reflecting her values, beliefs, and experiences. Her stage persona evolved from Marilyn Monroe-esque to a woman more like herself: confident, self-assured, and proud of her cultural heritage.

Abbey Lincoln wrote “The Music is the Magic,” released in 1992.

When everything is finished in a world, the people go to look for what the artists leave. It’s the only thing that we have really in this world — is an ability to express ourselves and say, “I was here.”

Abbey Lincoln

 

The Music is the Magic

The music is the magic of a secret world,
Secret world, a secret world.
It’s a world that is always within.

The music is the magic and the hiding place
The hiding place, the hiding place
The music is the magic and the hiding place
It’s a place where the spirit is home.

The music is the magic of a sacred world,
Sacred world, a sacred world.
The music is the magic of a sacred world,
It’s a world that is always within.

The music is the magic through a raging storm
A raging storm, raging storm
The music is the magic through the raging storm
The storm that is over again.

The music is the magic of a sacred world,
Sacred world, a sacred world.
The music is the magic of a sacred world,
It’s a world that is always within.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-blog: Author Interview: Joe Milliken of “Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars”

Publication is a mere 50 days away! I’m so excited to read this book. Joe Milliken has been chronicling the music scene for 20 years. He’s a fan, yes, but his writing is not that of a gushing fan-boy. He is objective, thoughtful, insightful, and respectful of his subjects and his sources. This interview gives you a peek at Mr. Milliken and his enigmatic subject, Benjamin Orr. (“Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars” is available for pre-order at https://www.benorrbook.com/.)

via Author Interview: Joe Milliken of “Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars”