American Woman – The Guess Who – 1970

August 29, 2013

The Guess Who - American Woman - 1970Not about women at all! Back in 1970 when The Guess Who released their hit, American Woman, they copped a fair bit of criticism about it being more than a little chauvinistic – but it’s not about women from America at all…

The Guess who 1discovering live music

The very first live album I purchased was back in 1972 – Live at the Paramont by The Guess Who. I reckon I must have almost worn that piece of vinyl out. It was a great album with the Burton Cummings piano-based, Albert Flasher, and the harmonica of Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon, but the highlight was the B-side’s 16+ minute version of American Woman.

from canada with love

The Guess Who began as The Reflections and evolved to The Guess Who? dropping the “?” in 1968. They had a number of hit records but none came close to the success of American Woman.

As a band they suffered a fair amount of inner turmoil and personnel changes. Through it all, the driving forces in the band were the talents of Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman. Even this relationship was stretched to breaking point, however, when Randy converted to Mormonism back in the early 70s sometime.

Eventually, Randy left to form Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

The band split in 1975, reunited in 1977, and is still touring today.

double success for randy

The Guess Who was inducted into The Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1987. Bachman-Turner Overdrive received the same honour in 2003.

guess who trivia

The Guess who were asked by Richard Nixon to play at the Whitehouse. Mrs Nixon contacted the band to ask that they don’t play American Woman because of the anti-American lyrics.

american woman fax

  • American Woman was recorded on August 13, 1969 and released in January 1970 on the album, American Woman.
  • American Woman was written by The Guess Who band members Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings, Garry Peterson and Jim Kale.
  • American Woman began as a live jam at a concert. The band were improvising, Burton made up some lyrics, a kid recorded it, everyone liked it… the band asked the kid for the tape and hit the studio to record the song, virtually exactly as it was improvised a few days before.
  • American Woman hit #1 on the US singles chart.
  • Here’s what co-writer Jim Kale had to say about American Woman;

The popular misconception was that it was a chauvinistic tune, which was anything but the case. The fact was, we came from a very strait-laced, conservative, laid-back country, and all of a sudden, there we were in Chicago, Detroit, New York – all these horrendously large places with their big city problems. After that one particularly grinding tour, it was just a real treat to go home and see the girls we had grown up with. Also, the war was going on, and that was terribly unpopular. We didn’t have a draft system in Canada, and we were grateful for that. A lot of people called it anti-American, but it wasn’t really. We weren’t anti-anything. John Lennon once said that the meanings of all songs come after they are recorded. Someone else has to interpret them.

  • American Woman has been covered by, Led Zeppelin, and Lenny Krazitz. Lenny covered it for the movie, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. While it only made it to #49 on the singles chart, it did win a Grammy – Best Male Rock Performance – in 2000.
  • American Woman lyrics.

american woman – the guess who – 1970 – full version video

american woman – the guess who – 1970 – live video

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Respect – Aretha Franklin – 1967

August 22, 2013

Aretha-RespectOkay, we’re straying into the top end of the 60s this week – but it’s well worth it to hear what many people consider the greatest R ‘n’ B song of all time; Aretha Franklin’s, fabulous 1967 single, Respect.

the queen of soul

I remember playing this song for our children when they were younger – “Who’s this, kids?” I’d shout. To which they would chorus back, “’Retha! The Queen of Soul!” That folks, is a good education!

Like so many singers of her genre, Aretha began her career as a gospel singer before embarking on her soul career aged 18.

To date she has charted on the US singles chart 88 times making her the most charted female artist in history. Her last Top 40 hit was in 1998 with A Rose is Still a Rose.

but wait, there’s more

Aretha has won 18 Grammy Awards. She’s sold over 75 million records. In 1987 she was the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She is also a member of the UK Music Hall of Fame, the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame. She is in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time (#9), and the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time (#3).

Aretha 2respect fax

  • Respect was written and recorded by Otis Redding in 1965.
  • Aretha recorded the song in 1967 taking it from a song about a man who demands respect from his woman to a song that became a feminist anthem; a woman demanding respect from the world.
  • Respect earned Aretha two Grammy Awards in 1968; Best Rhythm & Blues Recording and Best Rhythm & Blues Solo Vocal Performance, Female.
  • Aretha’s version of Respect sits at #5 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and was included in the list of Songs of the Century, by the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • Respect has appeared in a number of movies, most famously in The Blues Brothers, in which Aretha appeared singing it as a challenge to her movie husband.
  • Covers of Respect have been produced by: the John Evan Band (now Jethro Tull), Ike and Tina Turner, Janis Joplin, Cass Elliot and Sammy Davis, Jr., and Dexys Midnight Runners,
  • Respect lyrics.

respect – aretha franklin – 1967 – video

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My Best Friend’s Girl – The Cars – 1978

August 15, 2013

The Cars - My Best Friends Girl - 1978A little bit of rockabilly, a little bit of punk, a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll – The Cars’ 1978 hit, My Best Friend’s Girl.

platinum with a bullet

The Cars hit the music scene running in 1978 when their self-titled debut album went platinum.

It all began with a 1977 demo version of Just What I Needed.  It was sent to a Boston radio DJ who put it on high rotation on his radio show. Elektra records heard it, signed the band and… the rest is historical.

the todd rundgren connection

The Cars broke up in 1988. Ric Ocasek saying they would reunite. Then, in 2000, the band’s bass guitarist, Benjamin Orr died from pancreatic cancer. Five years later, band members Greg Hawkes and Elliot Easton joined with Todd Rundgren to form The New Cars, touring and performing songs by The Cars and by Todd. In 2010, the other band members joined in.

my best friend’s girl fax

  • My Best Friend’s Girl was written by Ric Ocasek and appears on The Cars 1978 self-titled debut album.
  • My Best Friend’s Girl was the second single from the album – following on from Just What I Needed.
  • My Best Friend’s Girl hit #3 on the UK singles chart but only made it to #35 on the US singles chart.
  • The New Cars included a live version of the song on their 2006 debut album, It’s Alive!
  • My Best Friend’s Girl was the first picture disc commercially available in the UK.
  • My Best Friend’s Girl has been covered by Nirvana and The Choirboys.
  • My Best Friend’s Girl lyrics.

my best friend’s girl – the cars – 1978 – video

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Make It Easy on Yourself – Dionne Warwick – 1970

August 8, 2013

dionne_warwick-make_it_easy_on_yourself_s_1The last of Dionne Warwick’s hits was as wonderful as the first; 1970’s Make It Easy on Yourself.

and in second place…

Dionne Warwick sits just behind Aretha Franklin as the world’s most charted female vocalist. With 56 singles making the US singles chart, she has sold over 100 million albums.

Much of her success came from her partnership with Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

MP1002_Dionne_WARWICKDionne’s first single and her last are linked in a strange way. Her first single, Don’t Make Me Over, was released in In November 1962. The title came from Dionne’s own mouth—she shouted these words at producers Burt Bacharach and Hal David in anger.

Dionne discovered that Make It Easy on Yourself, which she had recorded and wanted to be her first single, had been given to another singer, Jerry Butler.

From her angry words, Burt and Hal wrote Don’t Make Me Over, Dionne recorded it and it became the first Bacharach/David hit.

running in the family

It’s pretty well known that Dionne’s cousin was Whitney Houston, and her aunt is Cissy Houston, Whitney’s mother.

bankrupt!

In March 2013, Dionne declared bankruptcy due to mismanagement of her finances. She is said to owe almost $7 million to the IRS and has over $10 million in debts.

make it easy on yourself fax

  • Make It Easy On Yourself was written in 1962 by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
  • Make It Easy On Yourself has been a hit for three different artists: Jerry Butler in 1962, the Walker Brothers in 1965 (a #1 hit), and Dionne Warwick in 1970.
  • Dionne’s version peaked at #37 on the US singles chart.
  • Dionne’s version of Make It Easy on Yourself first appeared on her 1963 debut album Presenting Dionne Warwick.
  • The version of Make It Easy on Yourself that became a hit for Dionne was a live recording from a 1970 concert in New Jersey.
  • Make It Easy on Yourself has been covered by: Cilla Black, Burt Bacharach, The Carpenters, Johnny Mathis, Rick Astley, Long John Baldry, Tony Bennett, Glen Campbell, the Four Seasons, Connie Francis, the Three Degrees, Jackie Trent, Sarah Vaughan and Ronan Keating.
  • Make It Easy on Yourself lyrics.

make it easy on yourself – dionne warwick – 1970

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Cajun Moon – JJ Cale – 1974

August 1, 2013

JJ Cale okieWho else could seventiesmusic profile this week than JJ Cale, who you will know died late last week?

surprise

What has surprised me most since JJ’s sad demise, is how few people seemed to know him! Surely this lack of musical appreciation is just some sort of statistical blip.  I’ve had a number of people ask me, “Hey, did you know this Cale bloke that died?”

They are then rather surprised at my enthusiastic response as I point out that JJ is, purely and simply, a legend.

i thought…

Honest, I thought everyone knew JJ. I listened to his albums over and over was a young(er) fella. I recall buying his album Okie, from which Cajun Moon comes, and being rather frustrated; it was, in total, only 29 minutes long. That meant, every 14 minutes or so, I had to get up and turn the disc over.

the man

As I mentioned in the seventiesmusic obituary for JJ last week, JJ was born John Weldon Cale. I love the story about how he adopted the moniker, JJ, to avoid confusion with John Cale from the Velvet Underground.

The thing I liked most about JJ, apart from his guitar playing, was his laid back way of singing. I remember thinking, “If he can sing, anyone can.” He made it seem so effortless.

as for his guitar

For those who don’t know much about JJ Cale, here’s what Neil Young said when he heard of JJ’s death, “Of all the musicians I’ve heard, JJ Cale and Jim Hendrix were the two best-electric guitar players.

I recall hearing an interview with JJ’s wife once. It was years ago and she said, “If you think JJ’s guitar sounds good on record, you should hear him on a Sunday afternoon when he’s playing on the back porch.” I’ve always loved that quote.

cajun moon fax

Not much to say about Cajun Moon; JJ wrote it, he say it and played guitar on it – that’s about it really.

Just enjoy!

Cajun Moon lyrics.

cajun moon – jj cale – 1974 – original version

cajun moon – jj cale – 1974 – laid back version live!