Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac – 1976

March 29, 2012

Formed in London in 1967, there are few bands who have reinvented themselves as often as Fleetwood Mac. And there are few bands who have had quite the complexity of inner relationship that Fleetwood Mac has endured.  The 1976 hit, Go Your Own Way is the story of a part of that relationship.

f.mac part one

The only original member of Fleetwood Mac in the current line-up is drummer Mick Fleetwood.

During the late 1960s the band was formed and led by guitarist Peter Green. In 1969 they achieved a #1 UK hit with the instrumental, Albatross. What followed was moderate success – until 1975.

f.mac part two

Between 1975 and 1987 the band left its blues origins and became more pop oriented. John McVie’s wife Christine joined the band. So did Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks – success was just around the corner…

… it was in 1977 that success struck. Fleetwood Mac’s second album since Lindsey and Stevie joined the band, and their eleventh album in all was released.

Rumours included four singles that made the US top ten. That included Stevie’s song, Dreams which was the band’s only #1 US single. Rumours hit #1 on the US album chart and started there for 31 weeks. It’s sold over 40 million copies and is the eighth highest selling album of all time.

trivia

1] Contrary to popular belief, Mick Fleetwod was never been the band’s leader. The name Fleetwood Mac was coined by Peter Green. He simply combined the names of two of his band mates: Mick FLEETWOOD and John MCvie, and that was that!

2] Two member of Fleetwood Mac have died in the past year. The original bassist Bob Brunning died on 18th October 2011, aged 68, and former guitarist Bob Weston died 3rd January 2012, aged 64.

go your own way fax

  • Go Your Own Way is the fifth track on side one of the 40 million copy selling album, Rumours.
  • Go Your Own Way was released as a single in December 1976. The B-Side ws Silver Springs, a song that has been included as a bonus track on some later pressings of Rumours. Go Your Own Way was the first single release from Rumours.
  • Go Your Own Way was written by Lindsey Buckingham and is about the complicated relationship between himself and Stevie Nicks. It’s said that Lindsey wrote this as a message to Stevie. It describes their breakup with the most obvious line being, “Packing up, shacking up is all you want to do.” Stevie wanted Lindsey to take out the line, but he refused. In 2009 Stevie told Q magazine:

It was certainly a message within a song. And not a very nice one at that.

  • Peaking at #10 on the US singles chart, Go Your Own Way was the band’s first top ten hit in the U.S.
  • Go Your Own Way is ranked number 119 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
  • Go Your Own Way has been covered by: The Cranberries, Wilson Phillips, Carrie Underwood (a duet with Lindsey Buckingham), and Boy George.
  •  Go Your Own Way lyrics.

go your own way – fleetwood mac – 1976 – video

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Comfortably Numb – Pink Floyd – 1979

March 22, 2012

From Pink Floyd’s 1979 album, The Wall, Comfortably Numb was released as a single and, although it didn’t chart terribly well, is listed at #314 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest rock songs of all time.

not my cup of tea

I guess with Roger Waters touring with The Wall it’s natural that Pink Floyd would be getting some airplay and, while this song’s okay, I gotta admit, they’ve never been even close to making the list of my favourite bands. In fact, I didn’t even like Dark Side of the Moon all that much!

beginnings – success

Pink Floyd’s origins are similar to so many bands throughout the rock ‘n’ roll era. Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Richard Wright, and Syd Barrett were students with a shared passion for music. They got together, played some tunes and the rest, as they say, is history.

They went on to become one of the most commercially successful bands of all time. Album sales have reached 250 million worldwide and in 1996 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

all in all you’re just a-nother brick in…

The Wall, a double album released in November 1979, was Pink Floyd’s eleventh studio album. Performed with elaborate effects, it was made into a movie and continues to be played, in an adapted form, by Roger Waters.

The Wall is a concept album. There were a few such albums produced in the late 70s. A notable one being Jethro Tull‘s wonderful, Thick as a Brick.

This was Pink Floyd’s fourth concept album in a row. It deals with themes of abandonment and personal isolation and, so the story goes, was conceived while the band was touring in 1977.

Roger Waters became frustrated with what he perceived as “boorishness” from the band’s fans. He talked of building a wall between the band and the spectators.

The album sold over 25 million copies and is listed at #87 on The Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

comfortably numb fax

  • Comfortably Numb was written by Roger Waters (lyrics) and David Gilmour (music) – the last song they wrote together.
  • Roger and David argued over which version to use on The Wall. As a compromise, they ended up editing two takes together. Dave Gilmour said in Guitar World February 1993:

“Well, there were two recordings of that, which me and Roger argued about. I’d written it when I was doing my first solo album [David Gilmour, 1978]. We changed the key of the song’s opening the E to B, I think. The verse stayed exactly the same. Then we had to add a little bit, because Roger wanted to do the line, ‘I have become comfortably numb.’ Other than that, it was very, very simple to write. But the arguments on it were about how it should be mixed and which track we should use. We’d done one track with Nick Mason on drums that I thought was too rough and sloppy. We had another go at it and I thought that the second take was better. Roger disagreed. It was more an ego thing than anything else. We really went head to head with each other over such a minor thing. I probably couldn’t tell the difference if you put both versions on a record today. But, anyway, it wound up with us taking a fill out of one version and putting it into another version.”

  • Comfortably Numb is the last song on side three of the double album.
  • Released as a single, Comfortably Numb didn’t chart well but remains a crowd favourite when played live.
  • Ranked at #314 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, Comfortably Numb is the last song to be performed by Pink Floyd together.
  • In 2011, Comfortably Numb was ranked 5th in the BBC Radio 4’s listeners’ Desert Island Discs choices.
  • Cover versions have been released by: The London Philharmonic Orchestra, Luther Wright, Graham Parker, Yes, Gregorian, Bruce Hornsby and The Scissor Sisters
  • Van Morrison has often sung the song as part of his live set even dueting with Roger Waters.
  • Comfortably Numb contains two lovely guitar solos by David Gilmour. One was voted the fourth best guitar solo of all-time by a reader’s poll in Guitar World magazine.
  • Comfortably Numb lyrics.

 comfortably numb – pink floyd – 1979 – video

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Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell – 1970 and 1975

March 15, 2012

Not her biggest hit, probably not her best song, but the song Joni Mitchell is best remembered for, released in 1970 and 1975, Big Yellow Taxi.

norway and polio and cigarettes

Joni Mitchell was born Roberta Joan Anderson in 1943.  Her father was Norwegian and handed onto Joni that familiar blond hair.

a couple of interesting (to me anyway) facts about Joni;

At the age of eight, during the 1951 Canadian polio epidemic, Joni contracted the virus – the same time as Neil Young, then aged five and living in Ontario, contracted it.  It was to change Joni’s life.

Spending weeks in hospital she knew she came perilously close to living the rest of her life in an iron lung machine.  She says that during that time she became interested in singing;

They said I might not walk again, and that I would not be able to go home for Christmas. I wouldn’t go for it. So I started to sing Christmas carols and I used to sing them real loud… The boy in the bed next to me, you know, used to complain.

Realising she’d be unable to continue to play sports as she once had, Joni turned her attentions to music and the rest, as they say, is history.

The second interesting fact from her childhood is that she began her famous smoking habit at age nine.  She has been criticised by all manner of people for it but is quite unrepentant.

the taxi in hawaii

Big Yellow Taxi was written in Hawaii.  Joni was looking out the window of her Hawaiian hotel and noticed the juxtaposition of mountain scenery in the distance and the barrenness of the parking lot below her.  In Joni’s own words;

I wrote Big Yellow Taxi on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart… this blight on paradise. That’s when I sat down and wrote the song.

save the planet and all that

Big Yellow Taxi was written at a time when the environmental movement was gaining momentum. It includes a reference to a botanical garden in Honolulu which contains a living museum of rare and endangered tropical plants.

…they took all the trees and put ’em in a tree museum…”

The final verse has remained a mystery since it was written.  Joni sings about the big yellow taxi coming and taking away her old man.  Who that refers to, she has never said.

for the record

Joni’s best song – my opinion – Magdalene Laundries.

big yellow taxi fax

  • Big Yellow Taxi was released in July 1970 and is from the Ladies of the Canyon album – Joni’s third album which also contained Woodstock and Circle Game.
  • Big Yellow Taxi reached only #70 on the US charts but climbed to #14 in Canada, #11 in the UK and #6 in Australia. 
  • Re-released as a live version in 1975, Big Yellow Taxi reached #24 on the US singles chart.
  • In 2005, Big Yellow Taxi was listed at #9 on the list of the 50 essential Canadian tracks.
  • The song was released a third time by Joni in 2007 on her album Shine.
  • The best known cover versions of Big Yellow Taxi have been released by: Bob Dylan, Amy Grant, Janet Jackson, and Counting Crows.
  • In concert Joni often varied the lyric singing about the “big yellow tractor” etc.
  • A number of cover versions change the lyrics slightly: Bob Dylan sings of a big yellow bulldozer taking away his old man; Amy Grant sings that all the trees are put in tree museum and are charged “twenty-five bucks to see ‘em.”  Joni, in her 2007 version sings that people are charged “an arm and a leg, to see ‘em.”  Counting Crows sing that the big yellow taxi “took my girl” away rather than their old man.
  • Big Yellow Taxi lyrics.

big yellow taxi – joni mitchell – 1970 version – video

I can’t believe the audience didn’t seem to recognise this song until she began to sing the lyric!!

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La Grange – ZZ Top – 1973

March 8, 2012

Just a traditional blues boogie with some Billy Gibbons mumbling over the top but ZZ Top’s 1973 release La Grange is one of the great rock songs by one of the most underrated bands, and guitarists (Billy), around.

the song

Released in 1973, La Grange was the centre of some court action in 1992.  The initial guitar work on the is based on a traditional blues rhythm which was made famous by John Lee Hooker on a number of his songs including Boogie Chillen. 

Bernard Besman, the copyright holder of that song brought a plagiarism suit but lost. The judge ruled that the rhythm was so well-known and used that it was public domain.

the band

What can you say?  Those beards, those dance moves, that big sound from three men… great.  It always amuses me, however ,that the one guy who doesn’t have one of those amazing beards is named Frank Beard.

From Houston, Texas (where else), ZZ Top have been together for over 40 years now.  They have released 14 studio albums and sold over 25 million records.  They were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

la grange fax

  • La Grange is from Tres Hombres, ZZ Top’s first album.
  • Released in 1973, La Grange peaked at #41 on the US singles chart.
  • La Grange is about a brothel on the outskirts of the city of La Grange in Texas. The same brothel is the one in the Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds film, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.  Bassist Dusty Hill said of the song;

Did you ever see the movie, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas? That’s what it’s about. I went there when I was 13. A lot of boys in Texas, when it’s time to be a guy, went there and had it done. Fathers took their sons there. You couldn’t cuss in there. You couldn’t drink. I had an air of respectability. Miss Edna wouldn’t stand for no bulls–t. That’s the woman that ran the place, and you know she didn’t look like Dolly Parton, either. I’ll tell you, she was a mean-looking woman. But oil field workers and senators would both be there. The place had been open for over a hundred years, and then this a–hole decides he’s going to do an exposé and close it. And he stirred up so much s–t that it had to close. La Grange is a little bitty town, and little towns in Texas are real conservative. But they fought against it. They didn’t want it closed, because it was like a landmark. It was on a little ranch outside of town, the Chicken Ranch. Anyway, we wrote this song and put it out, and it was out maybe three months before they closed it. It pissed me off. It was a whorehouse, but anything that lasts a hundred years, there’s got to be a reason.

  • La Grange is ranked at #74 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of all Time.
  • La Grange lyrics

la grange – zz top – 1973 video
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Daydream Believer – The Monkees – 1967

March 1, 2012

No, not a seventies song this month but a tribute to The Monkees’ Davy Jones who passed away this morning.

the monkees

Yes, we’ve heard all the stories about them not playing their own instruments blah, blah, blah… in fact, most of that is rather exaggerated.  It’s true that, initially they were the 60’s Milli Vanilli but it was pretty early on in the history of the band that Mike Nesmith had stern words about being able to both play music and contribute songs to the albums they were making.

Producer Chip Douglas was a little reticent at first but soon gave in and for most their career the Monkees play their own music etc. albeit with the occasional backing musician.

davy jones

Davy seemed to be the ladies favourite.   Born in Manchester in England, he was a child actor appearing in Coronation Street and similar UK television dramas.  Davy’s mother died when he was 14 and so he left acting to become a jockey (horse not disc!).

He didn’t give up acting completely, however.  He was cast as The Artful Dodger in a West End production of Oliver.  The musical moved to Broadway where Davy was nominated for a Tony Award.

a strange twist of fate

In 1964, the Broadway cast of Oliver appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.  Coincedentally, since The Monkees were often refered to as “The American Beatles,” The Beatles were on the same show.  Davy later said about that show and The Beatles;

I watched the Beatles from the side of the stage, I saw the girls going crazy, and I said to myself, this is it, I want a piece of that.

He signed a recording contract with Screen Gems and, when the television company came up with the idea of The Monkees, he was offered the job – the rest is history.

daydream believer fax

  • Daydream Believer was released on October 30th 1967.
  • Daydream Believer peaked at #1 on the US singles chart and #7 on the UK singles chart. It was The Monkees last #1 US hit.
  • John Stewart, a member of The Kingston Trio, wrote Daydream Believer.
  • Canadian songstress Anne Murray covered the song in 1979. Her version peaked at #12 on the US singles chart and #3 on the US country chart.
  • Daydream Believer has a memorable opening where the voices of Davy Jones and producer Chip Douglas are heard;

Chip: 7A.

Davy: What number is this, Chip?

Chip and the other Monkees: 7A.

Davy: Okay. Know what I mean, like don’t get excited, man. It’s ’cause I’m short, I know.

daydream believer – the monkees – 1967 – video


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