The Stories Behind the Songs – Part Two

pat-blog

It’s snowing!!!! Not those big, fat, fluffy flakes where one can almost cover your face. But it’s snowing…. Sigh. The grey, dull days of January with just a mere hint that the sun actually exists…..which begs the question, why doesn’t Bell Canada hold their “Let’s Talk” campaign on Blue Monday? That makes infinitely more sense than say, Robbie Burns Day. Why in heaven’s name would you pick the 25th of January for mental health awareness??? According to a number of sources, the term “Blue Monday” was coined by holiday company Sky Travel in a 2005 press release. Cliff Arnall, at the time a tutor at Cardiff University, had come up with a light-hearted formula to determine the most depressing day of the year which commonly falls on the third Monday in January. It’s now a worldwide phenomena. Everyone has jumped on the bandwagon and the term is used repeatedly by companies and organizations (there’s even a BlueMonday.org) and stories in all sorts of media abound. Newspapers recommend taking the day off, there are various sites that will calculate, on a yearly basis, which Monday is going to be “blue” so you can prepare…..the power of suggestion. Although the entire idea is considered pseudoscience by the scientific community, Blue Monday is not going away anytime soon. Did you know mosquitoes are attracted to the colour blue twice as much as any other colour?

dog

As for Bell, their corporate colour is blue, “Let’s Talk” is about mental health….Blue Monday…..seems like a common sense match to me. Picking Robbie Burns Day!!!!?????  I’d like a world with their PR people….

So….here’s a little something to fight those blue Mondays and any other “blue” day….somewhere in the world it’s cocktail hour….right now.

Blue Monday Martini

Blue Monday – Fats Domino

Song #1…..

First up is “Lucky Man”. Carl Lake wrote this famous piece when he was only twelve, on a borrowed, broken down guitar with only one string. He picked out the tune with a matchstick. According to Lake, “Luckily it was the bottom string…the first four chords I learned were D, A minor, E minor and G.” I made this song out of them….it was a medieval fantasy….and I never wrote it on a piece of paper.” Years later “Lucky Man” became synonymous with Emerson, Lake & Palmer and it is their best known song. However, it almost never made it on the album.

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L-R – Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Carl Palmer

“On the last day of recording….ELP did not have enough material to fulfill their contact reqirements of 21 minutes per album side. When somebody in the studio asked if anyone had any more material Lake offered up “this little thing I wrote when I was a kid.” The song was recorded with Carl Palmer on drums. Then bass, more guitar and loads of harmonies were all layered on. When Emerson (who had decided to hit the local pub while all this was going on) returned to the studio he was quite shocked. Lake — “You know, it had gone from this silly little folk song to this quite big production.”  Emerson’s new Moog synthesizer had been delivered that day and so he decided to play something at the end. Of course the end of the song contains one of the most famous Moog synthesizer solos in rock history. With no time to write or rehearse, what we hear is Emerson really messing about. According to Lake, “he (Emerson) went out there and started experimenting with the pormento – you know, how long it takes to go from one note and then to slide up to the other note. What the recording is, is him experimenting with the pormento.” Fortunately Lake thought to hit the ‘record’ button and the rest is rock history. “You’d have to be deaf not to hear how good it is, right? So, it was a kind of perfect – because he hadn’t preconceived it.”

We lost Keith Emerson and Greg Lake last year but both made an indelible mark on our psyches and our souls with their soaring solos, melodic vocals and distinctive sounds that continue to reverberate through the years.

The following video is the very first version recorded of Lucky Man. Carl Palmer’s drums were removed so the recording contains only the guitar and vocals. It was discovered by Steven Wilson during the remix of the first ELP album.

Lucky Man – Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Lucky Man – Emerson, Lake & Palmer (album version)

Song #2…..

Who is the fool on the hill? There are so many stories surrounding this particular song there doesn’t appear to be one single answer. However, here are two possible theories, one right from the horse’s mouth.

beatles-recording

George, John, Paul & Ringo recording The Fool On The Hill, Sept. 25, 1967

During a 1980 Playboy interview, Paul McCartney had this to say, “’Fool On The Hill’ was mine and I think I was writing about someone like Maharishi.  His detractors called him a fool. Because of his giggle he wasn’t taken too seriously.  It was this idea of a fool on the hill, a guru in a cave, I was attracted to.  I remember once hearing about a hermit who missed the Second World War because he’d been in a cave in Italy, and that always appealed to me…There were some good words in it, perfectly still,’ I liked that, and the idea that everyone thinks he’s stupid appealed to me, because they still do.  Saviours or gurus are generally spat upon, so I thought for my generation I’d suggest that they weren’t as stupid as they looked.”

 67_beatles_maharishi-mahesh_yogi_002

L-R – Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, George Harrison, Ringo Star

Another story refers to an event on Primrose Hill in London, England. While McCartney was out walking his dog with friend Alistair Taylor, the pair met up with a man who seemed to have “appeared out of nowhere”, according to Taylor. The three exchanged greetings and the man then vanished as mysteriously as he had arrived, shaking both McCartney and Taylor as they had been discussing God only minutes before. Throughout the following years, speculation never ceased the occurrence was the inspiration for “The Fool On The Hill”. However, the song actually predates the event as recording had started almost a year earlier in 1967. The Primrose Hill incident happened in 1968. Thank you again to Frank Zirone for alerting me to this particular story. A more personal tidbit…..The Beatles started recording this particular song at their Abbey Road Studios on September 25, 1967, the date of my eleventh birthday. (ya, do the math…..)

The Fool On The Hill – The Beatles

Song #3…..

The one burning question for Carly Simon on every interviewer’s and reporter’s mind and lips is, who is the song “You’re So Vain” about? They all want the scoop. Released in November, 1972, according to Simon, the song is a composite of three different men she knew during her time in Los Angeles. The list of “candidates” includes Mick Jagger (who sang unaccredited backup on the song), Warren Beatty (who called and thanked her for the song), Nick Delbanco (who wore the apricot scarf), Kris  Kristofferon and James Taylor (a resounding “no”), Willie Donaldson (they were once engaged), Cat Stevens (she wrote “Anticipation” while waiting for him to arrive for their first date, dedicating the album of the same  name to Steven Demitri Georgiou, Steven’s birth name) even Angela Bowie claimed to be “the wife of a close friend”. An LA radio station jumped into the fray and had listeners call in and cast their vote for whom they thought the song was about. You couldn’t have paid for better PR.

album-cover

Album cover

The identity of the man in the second verse was confirmed by Simon herself in a 2015 interview with People magazine to promote her memoir “Boys in the Trees”. Beatty has long maintained that the song is definitely about him. Simon tells People, “I have confirmed that the second verse is Warren,” adding, “Warren thinks the whole thing is about him!”

Here’s a snippet from an interview with USA Today.

USA Today Interview with Carly Simon

Simon will not disclose the names of the other men until they themselves have been advised. “I don’t think so, at least until they know it’s about them.” I’ll bet they already think it’s about them.

You’re So Vain – Carly Simon

bits-pieces-4

My heritage is Scottish and English and the Scottish half will be celebrating the birth of Scotland’s favourite son, Robert Burns, on January 25. It’s been a family tradition for as long as I can remember and although the numbers are dwindling (we’ve lost many over the past few years) at least 20-25 of us still gather at my sister’s home in London on the Saturday closest to the date. This year it will be on January 28. It’s a family celebration and a perfect time to come together. Each year my sister Chrissie sends out “the call to the clans” by poem and every year I have responded in kind. It’s a wee bit of fun. Chrissie’s invite from 2014:

burns-night-image

Och Aye!!

 

The cold and the snow makes our clan hearty stuff

To the Burns Fest you’ll go – just can’t get enough!

Family and friends come warm by the fire

To reconnect; of that we never tire!

 

Saturday January 25th is the day

211 PIne Valley – You all know the way

The Haggis will be steamed and that tatties will be mashed

Bridies, meat pies, neeps – they all will be passed

 

Scottish spring rolls are a favourite for our clan

And the bottle of scotch will be passed man to man

So come one and all to the annual Burns fest

And join in the sing-song (for Maggie – no rest!)

 

The bairns are all welcome to join in for the night

To witness the Address to the Haggis – a right highlight!

MacDonalds, Kemps, Melansons, Walkers – to name a few

Carrolls, Thorntons, Saunders, & Usher – quite the mixed brew

 

Aarron – maybe you can join us via Skype

We wouldn’t want you to miss all the hype!

We look forward to the gathering of our all of the clans

With the “excuse” to celebrate the birth of one special man

 

Once we know who is coming I will send out a list

So we all can contribute – and nothing gets missed

Please confirm you and yours are joining this night

Get out your kilt or your tartan – it’s all just right!!!

— Christine Romard, 2014

My response to Chrissie’s invite:

Two Hundred and Fifty Five

It comes around

So very fast

Burns night again

So many past

 

Two thousand nine

A milestone year

We raised a glass

A special cheer

 

Fast forward now

Another five

What would he think

If still alive!

 

So many folks

Who love him show it

Paying tribute to

Scotland’s poet

 

We honour the bard

We speak his words

We sing his songs

His voice still heard

 

Auld Lang Syne

A Red Red Rose

Scots Wha Hae

And on it goes

 

We remember too

Loved ones not here

In silent thoughts

And in our prayers

 

So let’s enjoy

This celebration

Of life and love

And the Scottish nation

 

Let’s sing our songs

Enjoy the feast

Address the Haggis

Then slay the wee beast

 

All are welcome

To the Romard abode

In London town

519 area code

— Patricia Blythe, 2014

Going back to January 13, I stopped into the Cameron House to see friend, singer/songwriter, guitar player extraordinaire David Celia perform his second last show before he heads off to Europe for three months. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Celia, along with drummer Cleave Anderson and bassist Tim Jackson and they were fantastic. Individually, each of them are skilled performers. Together…they’re simply awesome. Old friends, the trio have been performing together for a number of years and display a rare ease and comfort you don’t often witness on stage. The place was crammed and it’s clearly visible how much these guys are loved. ….and the music, superb as always.

david-3500

David Celia, Cameron House Jan. 13, 2017

david-cleave-tim-3473

L-R – David Celia, Cleave Anderson, Tim Jackson

Show over at 8pm I sauntered over to the old/new Rancho Relaxo, devoured a burrito and headed upstairs to Stop, Drop and Roll. Both are located at 300 College street, one block West of Spadina.

rancho

Rancho Relaxo 

Another club shoulder-to-shoulder with bodies. Met up with good friend Matt Groopie (who also books the place), eyeballed a few acts, took a few snaps.

stop-drop-and-roll

Stop, Drop and Roll

Then I headed out to the Orbit Room. This place was also cheek-to-cheek with club goers. With The Dave Murphy Band performing, the dance floor was….well….ass-the-orbit-roomto-ass, or in some cases chest-to-breast. For more info on the performance line-up, check out the Orbit Room’s schedule at. http://www.orbitroom.ca/. I highly recommend Pretzel Logic, Jordan John and LMT, especially if you want to actually use those pretty little dancing shoes you just spent a year’s paycheque on.

Sitting at the bar, a young lady got chatty with me and as soon as she found out I write and photograph, she immediately started telling me about her friend who is in a band called My Psycho Ex. Hmmmmm…sounded heavy metal or punk or something along that line. She insisted I must go and see them and so I am. Good thing I checked them out on FB as the date she gave me was incorrect. As I was handing her my card her partner grabbed it out of my hand and proceeded to explain that his brother or cousin (if I remember correctly) was a member of Our Lady Peace and if I ever wanted an interview……well, he’s got my number….. My Psycho Ex plays on January 31 at UG3 Live.

Three venues, one night, all filled to the rafters. So people ARE getting out.

my-psycho-exSunday, January 15 found me downtown at a LiveCircle 4 – Percussion Workshop held by Zaynab Wilson, percussionist for Jason Wilson (no relation) and The Perennials. A group of 10 or 12 of us descended on the Shoes.com pop-up store on Queen St. West. A rather comfy-cozy spot actually. Wilson provided a number of instruments (I brought my drum sticks just in case) including tambourines, cowbell, triangle, bongos, congas, maracas and a few others I don’t even know the names of. We even had our own beat master, Wilson’s friend DJ Jason Gardiner, and were encouraged to try the various instruments (I even played Wilson’s Cajón). It was relaxing and fun with some even dancing around the store. I’m hoping Wilson does this again.  A little background on Zaynab — She’s a former Montrealer, multi award-winning panorama drummer, pianist, vocalist, drummer and percussionist. Inspirations? Max Roach, Billy Talent, System of Down, Esperanza Spalding, Brian Blade and Beethoven. She’s been performing steel-pan drums with her family since she was five.

percussion-workshop

Percussion Workshop — Jason Gardiner (DJ), Zaynab Wilson (centre) – photo credit Willy Kung

After leaving the workshop I headed to Linsmore Tavern to catch Sam Taylor with multi-instrumentalist Lawrie Ingles on bass and the ever creative drummer Jace Traz. As always, I thoroughly enjoy myself whenever I head to see Taylor and the band. Taylor’s love for the blues is self-evident with the music transporting him to another place, carrying us right along with him.

sam-3555

Sam Taylor, Linsmore Tavern

I missed Indian Handcraft on Thursday night at Cherry Cola’s but did make it to Paul James annual birthday bash the following night at the Phoenix Concert Theatre. James performed two sets with his band, all incredible musicians in their own right. James moves around the stage with the agility of a man half his age. Twirling and spinning, crouching and two-stepping from one side of the stage to the other, whether over his head or backwards, James never stops playing the guitar, never ever losing his grip on it. Sometimes I actually find myself holding my breath with some of those moves.

paul-3628

Paul James

I couldn’t stay too late since I was on booth duty at the RV Show for the cancer charity ONERUN. I’ve written about ONERUN a couple of times in this space. Started by Theresa Carriere after surviving breast cancer and a double mastectomy, Carriere decided to run 100 kilometres in a single day….and so it began. One woman, one day, 100 kilometres….Running For Your SomeONE.  I drove the pace car from Sarnia to London, two years in a row and had a blast. You can find out more about ONERUN at http://www.onerun.ca/home/

cherrys

Cherry Cola’s was swarming with partygoers and was the place to be on January 21 as the club celebrated the official/unofficial “grand re-opening” of the club. Freshened up with a new, extended stage, a rack for musicians to hang their guitars in between sets and the smiling faces of Alex Vincenzi and Mark Murphy, Cherish Stevenson’s new partners, the bon vivant was evident on every face. The familiar faces of Sean and Randi were behind the bar serving up beverages to the revellers. So happy to see this club, a well-known and very popular venue, remain available to the hundreds of Indie bands that grace its stage every year.

As this column gets published on one of the more celebrated days in Scottish history I with everyone Sláinte Mhath!

Cheers!

Sources

beatlesbook.com, Wikipedia, YouTube, The Translation People, When Steel Talks

=PB=

Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

dbawis-button7“Music and photography….my heart, my passions.” After an extended absence —  33 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry — Pat has turned her focus back to the music scene. Immersing herself in the local club circuit, attending the many diverse music festivals, listening to some great music, photographing and writing once again, she is eager to spread the word about this great Music City of ours…..Toronto. Together for 34 years, Pat little-red-headed-dancing-girlalso worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who, beginning in the early 70s, photographed much of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, BB Gabor, the first Police Picnic, Buzzsaw, Hellfield, Shooter, The Segarini Band….) as well as national and international acts. Pat is currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, 20 of which are a photographic history of the local GTA music scene beginning in 1974. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance! 

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