She wrote the songs – Moy Motown

It can be so hard to find information about women in music. Unless it’s made explicit, cultural assumptions have tended to credited the creation of music to men. Women are more likely to be given credit performing music than creating it. If you look hard enough though, there are women behind some of the most powerful and enduring popular music.

That’s the case with Sylvia Moy. She was an American songwriter and record producer, most famously associated with Motown Records. It’s hard to imagine some high profile Motown artists without her.

(source)

Take Stevie Wonder for example:

Or Martha and the Vandellas:

Or Marvin Gaye:

And maybe you haven’t heard of The Velvelettes, but you need to hear them now:

 

 

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Baroque October

I have no formal education in music, just a keen interest. Anything I know about classical music I have gleaned myself over time.

The Baroque era was an early part of that self-lead discovery. Many works of classical music that I encountered early in my adulthood came out of the Late Baroque period.

The Baroque was both a long and significant era in western music.

It’s broken into three parts, conveniently named early (1550–99), middle (1600–49), and late (1650–99), with 50 transitional years on either end to stretch the entire era to 250 years. Modern composition styles that many would most easily identify as classical music, like the concerto, sonata, and symphony, originate in this period. Given the length and influence, I feel like the Baroque deserves it’s own blog series, separate from other classical music.

Below are some September born Baroque era composers whose works I’ve come across.

EARLY

Giulio Caccini (1551–1618)

Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672)

Domenico Scarlatti -portrait by Domingo Antonio Velasco

Étienne Moulinié (1599–1676)

Hans Leo Hassler (1564–1612)

MIDDLE

Sebastian Anton Scherer (1631–1712)

LATE

František Tůma (1704–1774)

Antoine Dauvergne (1713–1797)

Johann Nicolaus Bach (1669–1753)

Sylvius Leopold Weiss (1687–1750)

Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679–1745)

Pierre van Maldere (1729–1768)

Domenico Zipoli (1688–1726)

Baldassare Galuppi (1706–1785)

Domenico Scarlatti (1685–1757)

Johan Helmich Roman (1694–1758)

Johann Gottlieb Graun (1703–1771)

Šimon Brixi (1693–1735)

September earworm roundup

I wake up almost every morning with an earworm. Some fade quickly, other last for days. Sometimes they make me happy, sometimes they make me doubt my own sanity. They come from all genres. I can rarely know what triggers them. The only thing I do know and that they do without fail is reinforce my belief that all music is connected and good music never goes out of style.

Here’s a roundup of my September earworms.

Gloria Estefan – Rhythm Is Gonna Get You

Boxcar Willie – Wabash Cannonball

Bee Gees – How can you mend a broken heart

The Impressions – It’s All Right

Billy Preston – Nothing From Nothing

Electric Light Orchestra – Don’t Bring Me Down

En Vogue – Free Your Mind

Grand Funk Railroad – We’re An American Band

Gladys Knight & The Pips – Midnight Train To Georgia

The Byrds – Ballad of Easy Rider

Sunnyland Slim – Be Careful How You Vote

Tommy Overstreet – Send Me No Roses

CeCe Peniston – Finally

The Marmalade – Reflections Of My Life

Loudon Wainwright III – Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road

Jimmy Reed – Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby

Dee Dee Sharp – Never Pick A Pretty Boy

Pink Floyd – Hey You”

P!nk – F**kin’ Perfect

Mel McDaniel – Baby’s Got Her BlueJeans On

Little Milton – Grits Ain’t Groceries

Pretenders – Don’t Get Me Wrong

Jimmie Rodgers – Waiting for a Train

Don Walser – Rolling Stone From Texas

Was (Not Was) – Walk The Dinosaur

The CARS – Let’s go!

Frankie Lymon+The Teenagers – Why Do Fools Fall In Love 

Freddy Weller – Games People Play

The Pretty Things – Don’t Bring Me Down 

George Jones & Tammy Wynette – We Gonna Hold On

 

 

 

This is an aside and not a September earworm, but it came up right after that last video. Watch the body language when George uses Tammy’s name in the song. Brutal. I hope nobody ever makes me sing a duet with my ex. 

 

Lyrics to shake your head at

There are a lot of songs I enjoyed in my childhood that I now shake my head at. I’m not talking about any musical prowess deficit, it’s usually a revisited lyric that makes me pause.

For instance, I was recently sitting in a dentist’s office and had a horror epiphany listening to Delilah by Tom Jones.

“…She stood there laughing, I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more…”

The song came out in  1968. WTF Tom? How did I ever think this song was catchy? It’s an ode to misogyny and murder. Nice.

I’ve been thinking since then about how music is an indicator of culture. What we hum along with tells us a lot about what what we’ll put up with. Look at the songs below to see why.

 

Tom WaitsWidow’s Grove (2006)    

“…I hid in the elm and raised the bough, that hung even with your neck, And I chased you and drowned you, there deep in the well, And when your mouth was full and wet, I swallowed all your reckless fate, And with your last breath, you moaned too drunk to wake…” Another murder the narrator cloaks in unrequited love.

Source

 

BeatlesRun For Your Life (1965)

“…Let this be a sermon, I mean everything I’ve said, Baby, I’m determined, And I’d rather see you dead…” Threats of murder cloaked in unrequited love – albeit at least these lyrics later acknowledge he’s a wicked man.

 

The PoliceEvery Breath You Take (1983)

“…Every move you make, Every vow you break, Every smile you fake, Every claim you stake,I’ll be watching you…” This song is indisputably about claiming ownership of a lover and feeling justified in rage when they challenge that idea by leaving. Pretty creepy.

 

Corey HartSunglasses At Night (1984)

“…I wear my sunglasses at night, So I can so I can, Watch you weave then breathe your story lines…” Although to be fair this set of lyrics is a bit more gibberish than menace than Every Breath You Take is.

 

Def LeppardTwo Steps Behind (1993)

“…Walk away, if you want to, It’s okay, if you need to, You can run but you can never hide, From the shadow that’s creepin’ up beside you…” So gee thanks it’s ok  but I’m not going to let you have any peace of mind because I’m gonna stalk you.

 

The OffspringSpecial Delivery (2000)

“…Hey now, do you see me down the way? Been watching you every day, In my car on your street is where I stay, I know you better that way, One day, I’ll be meeting you for real, You’ll feel bad like I feel…” Eek. Scary creepy.

 

The Human LeagueDon’t You Want Me (1981)

“…Now five years later on you’ve got the world at your feet, Success has been so easy for you, But don’t forget, it’s me who put you where you are now, And I can put you back down too…” Again, all about feeling justified in revenge for unrequited affection.

 

Source

Nick CaveFrom Her To Eternity (1984)

“…Ah read her diary on her sheets, Scrutinizin’ every lil bit of dirt, Tore out a page’n’stufft it inside my shirt, Fled out of the window, And shinning it down the vine, Out of her night-mare, and back into mine, Mine! O Mine!…” All about no boundaries and no respect, to say the least. Then there’s the nightmares.

 

These are the obviously concerning songs I could think of. I’m sure I’ll come up with more as I trip across old tunes in my head or in my travels. Meanwhile I could write a whole other blog about inappropriate or emotionally immature love songs. In fact I probably will…

 

 

 

 

 

She writes the songs – Willow Weep For Me

It can be so hard to find information online about women in music. Unless it’s made explicit, cultural assumptions have tended to credited the creation of music to men. Women were more likely to be given credit performing music than creating it. If you look hard enough there are hidden gems in the popular catalogs.

This is the case with the jazz standard Willow Weep for Me written by Ann Ronell. It was covered by everyone who was anyone, and still is.  I’ve included as many of their versions below as I can find.

Ann Ronell; photo by Walter Albertin.

Rosemary Clooney (with Count Basie) and Dinah Shore both also sang this song but I can’t find links to share with you. Sam Cooke did a version I really like. 

Willow Weep For Me wasn’t a one hit wonder. Ann was an early successful female writer for Hollywood films and theatre. She wrote Rain on the Roof (sung here by Al Bowlly), and Baby’s Birthday Party   (performed here by Nat Shilkret). She co-wrote the song Linda from The Story of G. I. Joe, and Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf for Disney. 

Ann was born Ann Rosenblatt, but changed her name. I assume the change was due to the potential double jeopardy of being a woman and a Jew making a living in American popular music.

Find more info on Ann here, at IMDB, the Internet Broadway Database, and in her 1993 obituaries in the LATimes and NYTimes. She also comes up in iTunes searches. 

 

 

 

Baroque September

I have no formal education in music, just a keen interest. Anything I know about classical music I have gleaned myself over time. 

The Baroque era was an early part of that self-lead discovery. Many works of classical music that I encountered early in my adulthood came out of the Late Baroque period.

The Baroque was both a long and significant era in western music.

It’s broken into three parts, conveniently named early (1550–99), middle (1600–49), and late (1650–99), with 50 transitional years on either end to stretch the entire era to 250 yearsModern composition styles that many would most easily identify as classical music, like the concerto, sonata, and symphony, originate in this period. Given the length and influence, I feel like the Baroque deserves it’s own blog series, separate from other classical music.

Below are some September born Baroque era composers whose works I’ve come across.

Early era:

Girolamo Frescobaldi (Sept 13, 1583) was a very important composer of the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods.

Portrait of Henry Purcell by John Closterman

Late era:

Johann Pachelbel (Sept 1, 1653) was one of the most important composers of the Baroque era and is still widely remembered for his Canon in D because it plays in every restaurant at some point. Find an hour of his best here.

Pietro Locatelli (Sept 3, 1695) was a Baroque composer also considered a violin virtuoso.

Carl Heinrich Biber (Sept 4, 1681) was a composer in the late Baroque/Roccoco style.

Henry Purcell (Sept 10, 1659) was an English composer of Baroque music.

Giuseppe Matteo Alberti (Sept 20, 1685) was a Baroque composer and violinist.

Jean-Philippe Rameau (Sept 25, 1683) was a Baroque composer. He is well remembered for his operas.

 

Labour day – songs about working people

In Canada Labour Day is September 4. Most of the rest of the world celebrates workers in May on International Workers’ Day.

Folk songs about the working people and their economic welfare have been written a performed for hundreds of years. And folk music has been used to amplify the call for social and economic justice. 

I’ll fit some of my favourite Labour Day appropriate sings into some broad categories below, but first … 

1) Songs about hard work and living hand to mouth

2) Songs about the labour movement

3) Songs about modern alienation from the fruits of labour and the pains of the changes in our modern economic system

4) Songs about the economic oppression specifc groups

Look for the album Bread and Raises (Smithsonian Folkways); it’s a good musical primer on unpaid and under paid economic activity. 

And, an end my musical homage to Labour Day: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August earworm roundup

I wake up almost every morning with an earworm. Some fade quickly, other last for days. Sometimes they make me happy, sometimes they make me doubt my own sanity. They come from all genres. I can rarely know what triggers them. The only thing I do know and that they do without fail is reinforce my belief that all music is connected and good music never goes out of style.

Here’s a roundup of my August earworms.

Frank Sinatra & Tommy Dorsey – I’ll never smile again

Lynn Anderson – Rocky Top

Swing Out Sister – Breakout

 

Mighty Hannibal – Hymn No.5

Tex Williams – Smoke Smoke Smoke

 

Jimmy Dean – Big Bad John 

The Captain & Tenille – Love Will Keep us Together

 

Timi Yuro – Make The World Go Away

The Knack –  Good Girls Don’t 

 

Eddie Fisher – Tell Me Why 

Ketty Lester – Love Letters

 

The American Breed – I’m gonna make you mine

Glen Campbell – Galveston

 

Bobby Caldwell – What You Won’t Do For Love

Culture Club – Time

 

Seals and Crofts – Diamond Girl

Bananarama – I Heard A Rumour

 

The Drifters – Up on the Roof

Stray Cats – Rock This Town

 

The Alan Parsons Project – Eye in the Sky

Iron Butterfly – In A Gadda Da Vida

 

The La’s – There she goes

A Flock Of Seagulls – I Ran

 

The McCoys – Hang on Sloopy

Collective Soul – Shine

 

The Four Pennies – Juliet

Michael Penn – No Myth

 

Bread – For All We Know

Echo and the Bunnymen – Lips Like Sugar

 

B.J.Thomas – Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head

Traffic – Dear Mr. Fantasy

 

 

A musical harvest

The fruits of summertime are here for such a brief time. It’s important to take advantage. I’ve been busy by making cherry clafouis, pear tarts, pumpkin scones, and saskatoon pie.

And of course, I’ve had appropriate music in the background while baking.

Broken down by fruit variety…

CHERRY

Neil Diamond – Cherry, Cherry

The Mills Brothers and Louis Armstrong – Cherry

Bee Gees – Cherry Red

Foghat – Wild Cherry

Lita Ford – Cherry Red

Billy Joe Royal – Cherry Hill Park 

The Runaways – Cherry Bomb

 

BLUEBERRY

Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill

Prefab Sprout – Blueberry Pies

Ocean Colour Scene – Huckleberry Grove (if you wonder about this one, it’s because huckleberries and blueberries both grow wild in Alberta and they look really similar)

 

APPLE

O. C. Smith – Little green apples

Dionne Warwick – As Long As There’s An Apple Tree

The Andrews Sisters – Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree

Connie Francis – I’ll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time

 

PEAR

The Secret Sisters – Do You Love An Apple, Do you Love a Pear

 

LEMON

Led Zeppelin – The Lemon Song 

Peter, Paul and Mary – Lemon Tree   

 

RASPBERRY

Prince – Raspberry Beret

Carole King – Raspberry Jam

 

STRAWBERRY

The Beatles – Strawberry Fields Forever

The Collectors – Grass and Wild Strawberries

Brothers Johnson – Strawberry Letter 23

Coldplay – Strawberry Swing

 

PUMPKIN

Jay & The Techniques – Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie

Crash Test Dummies – The ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead

 

GOOSEBERRY

Seancara – The Gooseberry Bush

 

FIG

Bunny Wailer – Fig Tree

Peter Frampton – Fig Tree Bay

Scott Joplin – Fig Leaf Rag

 

 

Women classical composers – the August edition

As is the case with all too many things historical, the talent of women composers is underrepresented in the genre of classical music. In spite of the odds being against them women wrote, and continue to write, exceptional classical music that can be enjoyed today. They deserve more exposure, so it feels like a good idea to do my bit to mitigate our cultural musical myopia.

Below are two female classical composers whose works I have encountered, with links to music samples for each of them.

Portrait by Bernardo Strozzi, believed to be of Barbara Strozzi

Barbara Strozzi was an Italian Baroque composer. (died 1977)

She was lucky for her time, as her encouraged her musical ambition. She wrote for voice.

Find info on her compositions here

 

Betsy Jolas is a modern French composer. (born 1926)

 

Sally Beamish is a modern British composer of chamber, vocal, choral and orchestral music as well as works for

musical theatre, film and television.  (born 1956)

 

Rebecca Clarke was an English composer. (died 1979)

Her work did not receive the recognition then that it does today and was largely forgotten until the 1970s.

Find info on her here

 

Cécile Chaminade

Cécile Chaminade was a French composer. (died 1944)

She learned piano early in her childhood but her father disapproved of her musical education so she had to continue her studies privately. Her own compositions were very popular in her day.

Find more info on her at AllMusic and on Wikipedia.  

 

Marion Bauer was an American composer. (died 1955)

Marion Bauer

She wrote at least 160 compositions. 

 

Tera de Marez Oyens was a Dutch composer who wrote over 200 works of music. (died 1996)

 

Alma Mahler

Alma Mahler was an Austrian-American composer. Seventeen songs by her survive. (died 1964)