February 6: Neil Young recorded Old Man in 1972

Old man look at my life,
I’m a lot like you were.
Old man look at my life,
I’m a lot like you were.

“Old Man” was one of the highlights of Neil Young’s Harvest album, with a haunting melody strong enough to have made it a good choice as a single. It was indeed released as a single in 1972, but it made only #31, possibly because it came just a few months after the chart-topping “Heart of Gold,” which might have blunted its commercial impact a bit. Nevertheless, it got mucho airplay on FM radio and is one of Young’s more familiar songs, especially to those who prefer the more gentle singer-songwriting face of his work. ..
~Richie Unterberg (allmusic.com)

Neil Young – Old Man, original 1971 version:

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January 27: Elvis Presley released Heartbreak Hotel in 1956

heartbreak_hotel_cover

Elvis Presley released Heartbreak Hotel January 27th in 1956

From Wikipedia:

Heartbreak Hotel” is a song recorded by Elvis Presley. It was released as a single on January 27, 1956, Presley’s first on his new record label RCA Victor. His first number-one pop record, “Heartbreak Hotel” topped Billboard‘s Top 100 chart, became his first million-seller, and was the best-selling single of 1956. It was written by Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton.

Well, Since my baby left me

These opening words set the tone, this is not a happy-song…

I got this record from my aunt when I was about 7 or 8 years old (1973/1974), I couldn’t  comprehend the heartache and suffering in the lyrics. I just thought it was the coolest thing I had ever heard. I still got that record. It is worn and scratched and it’s still the coolest record in the world.

Heartbreak Hotel (audio):

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January 20: Elvis Presley recorded In The Ghetto in 1969

In the Ghetto” (originally titled “The Vicious Circle“) is a song written by Mac Davis and made famous by Elvis Presley, who had a major comeback hit with it in 1969. It was recorded January 20th 1969 and released in April the same year as a 45 rpm single with “Any Day Now” as the flip side.

It is a narrative of generational poverty: a boy is born to a mother who already has more children than she can feed in the ghetto of Chicago. The boy grows up hungry, steals and fights, purchases a gun and steals a car, attempts to run, but is shot and killed just as his own child is born. The song implies that the newborn will meet the same fate, continuing the cycle of poverty and violence. The feeling of an inescapable circle is created by the structure of the song, with its simple, stark phrasing; by the repetition of the phrase “in the ghetto” as the close of every fourth line; and finally by the repetition of the first verse’s “and his mama cries” just before the beginning and as the close of the last verse. Continue reading “January 20: Elvis Presley recorded In The Ghetto in 1969”

Classic song: Key to the Highway by Chas Segar and Big Bill Broonzy

“When I was about 14, I saw Big Bill Broonzy on TV and that was an incredible thing. Because maybe if I’d just heard it, it might not have had the same effect. But to see footage of Broonzy playing ‘Hey Hey,’ this was a real blues artist and I felt like I was looking into heaven. That was it for me and then, when I went to explore his music, the song that always came back to me was an incredible version of ‘Key To The Highway.’ That was the one that I thought somehow would, like Crossroads, capture the whole journey of being a musician and a traveling journeyman.””
– Eric Clapton (2003)

“Key to the Highway” is a blues standard that has been performed and recorded by several blues and other artists. Blues pianist Charlie Segar first recorded the song in 1940. Jazz Gillum and Big Bill Broonzy followed with recordings during 1940–41, using an arrangement that has become the standard. When Little Walter updated the song in 1958 in an electric Chicago blues style, it became a success on the R&B record chart. Continue reading “Classic song: Key to the Highway by Chas Segar and Big Bill Broonzy”

January 6: Chuck Berry recorded the classic Johnny B. Goode in 1958

DeepdowninLouisiana’crossfromNewOrleans,
waybackupinthewoodsamongtheevergreens.
There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood
Where lived a country boy named Johnny B. Goode,
Who never ever learned to read or write so well
But he could play a guitar just like a ringin’ a bell.

You can’t copyright guitar licks and maybe that’s good, because if you could, Chuck might have hoarded them as he does his Cadillacs. Without The Chuck Berry Riff, we’d lose not just the Beach Boys, but essential elements of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, and Bruce Springsteen — to mention only the most obvious examples. In a way, what was at the center of the first wave of the British Invasion could be described as a Chuck Berry revival.
~Dave Marsh (The Heart of Rock and Soul)

Live 1958:

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Classic song: The Promise by Bruce Springsteen

The Promise

The first time I heard The Promise (the song)  was when “18 tracks” was released in april 1999. I had read about it and had very high expectations, I was not disappointed. The 1999 release is great and it is a new recording of a song written much earlier. Bruce said he couldn’t find a version he liked enough to release on “Tracks” and re-recorded it for “18 Tracks”. This new recording had just Bruce Springsteen and his piano, and he does a toned down but intense version. The sombre  performance enhances the stark qualities of the song.

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