This Historic Day In Music: Capitol MAS-2653 (Mono LP), SMAS-2653 (Stereo LP)

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles was released in America on June 2, 1967. (It had been released in the United Kingdom the day before.) It was the thirteenth Beatles’ LP released in the United States. (#8 in the U.K.)

To Pop music fans everywhere, then and now, the 13 tracks on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” contain not only extraordinary songs. The entire collection is overflowing with such a joyously intoxicating rainbow of sounds and incredibly nuanced performances that we can’t stop listening. And for all the experimental gloriousness that graces every song on the album, it all culminates in the spectacular music that The Beatles created for “A Day In The Life,” Sgt. Pepper’s epic closing number.

The recording of “A Day In The Life” (originally called “In The Life Of…”) began on Thursday, January 19, 1967.

Take One was simple: bongos, maracas, piano and guitar accompanying John Lennon singing the songs’ first two verses. The last line of the second verse – “I’d love to turn you on” – was followed by a carefully counted 24-bar space to be filled in with something (?!?) at a later date. Next came an instrumental section (where Paul McCartney’s contribution to the song would go) and then John again, singing the third and final verse. The third verse also concluded with John intoning: “I’d love to turn you on.”

It was Paul who had the idea of how to fill that space.

On the evening of Friday, February 10, The Beatles, along with Geroge Martin, their producer, and recording engineers Geoff Emerick and Richard Lush, welcomed a 40-piece orchestra to Studio One of Abbey Road Studios in London. The instrumentation of the orchestra was: 12 violins, 4 violas, 4 cellos, 2 double-bass, 1 oboe, 2 flutes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 2 french horns, 1 tuba, 1 harp and 1 percussion (including timpani).

George Martin gave the gathered musicians these instructions: “We’re going to start very very quietly and end up very very loud. We’re to start very low in pitch and end up very high. You’ve got to make your own way up there, as slide-y as possible so that the clarinets slurp, trombones glass, violins slide without fingering any notes. And whatever you do, don’t listen to the fellow next to you because I don’t want you to be doing the same thing.”

All of this was to extend over the 24-bar space and end on an E major chord.

With both George Martin and Paul McCartney conducting the orchestra and Geoff Emerick manipulating the controls on the recording equipment, this “orchestral build-up” was played and recorded not just once, but four times.

The four tracks were mixed down to one. The resulting part was inserted into that middle space as well as at the end of the song, each time slowly growing out of John’s inviting lyric: “I’d love to turn you on.”

Well, he certainly did.

Listen and watch for yourself.

 

P.S.: Yes, that was Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Marianne Faithfull, Mike Nesmith and Donovan in the film clips from the actual February 10 recording session. And yes, the orchestra members were in full concert dress and they were wearing an assortment of clown’s noses, upside down spectacles, imitation bald heads, red noses, false eyes and knotted handkerchiefs. It seems that a splendid time was had by all.

Information and quotes used in this post came from one of the best books on The Beatles ever published: The Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Abbey Road Studio Session Notes, 1962-1970 (1988) by Mark Lewisohn.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: fifty years young.

 

 

 

 

 

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Wrestling With The Angel, Chapter 12

If you’re a new visitor to this blog, the purpose of my Wrestling With The Angel series (or category) is to highlight and share individual songs that are on a list of mine entitled: Devastatingly Great Songs. The title phrase, “Wrestling With The Angel,” is my paraphrase of a line from a poem by Herman Melville called “Art.” You can read the complete poem in my archived post of November 4, 2011: “The Source.” 

I first saw and heard singer/guitarist/songwriter Buddy Miller in August of 2004.

Buddy was touring that summer with Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings in an entourage billed as the Sweet Harmony Traveling Revue. I had the very good fortune to see their show on August 21 at the Meadowbrook Musical Arts Center (now known as the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion) in Gilford, NH.

During his outstanding solo spot, Buddy featured a few songs from his May 2004 album, Universal United House of Prayer. I picked up a copy of this fabulous CD not long after the concert and found that some of the best songs on it were co-written by Buddy and his wife, Julie Miller. (J.T.L.Y.K.: This album contains the best cover version ever of the Bob Dylan song, “With God On Our Side.”)

I again saw and heard Buddy Miller perform in October of 2009. Buddy was touring that Fall with Emmylou Harris as part of her back-up band, Her Red Dirt Boys, and as her opening act. I caught their show on October 16 at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, in Hampton Beach, NH.

As I had hoped he would, Buddy played several songs during his set from Written In Chalk, the album that he and Julie had released together in March of that year. This record is way up on my short list of albums that I simply cannot encourage you strongly enough to go out and buy yourself a copy of (or sit there and download) and then listen to as soon as you possibly can.

Sadly however, on that October evening at Hampton Beach, Buddy Miller did not play my favorite song from Written In Chalk.

That song is “Ellis County.”

“Ellis County” was written by Julie Miller.

Ellis County is the county in Texas that contains Waxahachie, the town were, on July 12, 1956, Julie was born.

“Take me back to places where my memory tarries,” Julie wrote, in the bridge of the song.

The recording of “Ellis County” that Julie and Buddy produced for Written In Chalk is, to me, exhilarating. I find it to be the kind of performance – full of passionate, exuberant vocals and masterfully played instruments (real instruments carefully recorded to envelope you in a sound like you were sitting right in the middle of the living room with the band playing around you) – that never fails to kick my however-weary engine into a joyous, uncontainable overdrive.

All of that, of course, would be nothing but window dressing without the finely crafted words and music of Julie Miller’s superb song.

But don’t just take it from me! You should, by all means, listen for yourself.

 

 

Julie Miller sings behind Buddy’s lead vocals on that track. Buddy also plays guitar. Accompanying the duo are Brady Blade on drums, Chris Donahue on bass, Larry Campbell on fiddle and John Deaderick on keyboards.

P.S., Dear Followers and Readers: I’ve been wanting to write about and share “Ellis County” with you for some time, but I’d not been able to find an embed-able copy of the original studio recording… until yesterday!

Thank you, YouTube! Thank you, Warner Music Group and New West Records!

Thank you, Buddy and Julie Miller.

“Good music doesn’t get old.”

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This Historic Day In Music: Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger was born in Patterson, New York on this day, May 3, in the year 1919.

Pete performed in public for the first time on Sunday, March 3, 1940 on the stage of the Forrest Theatre in New York City. His unplanned, walk-on appearance was part of a star-studded presentation organized by “The Theatre Arts Committee and Will Geer of the Tobacco Road Company” called “A ‘Grapes of Wrath’ Evening.” The 20-year-old rookie sang the outlaw ballad “John Hardy,” accompanying himself on the 5-string banjo.

On January 18, 2009, Pete Seeger performed in Washington, D.C. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. His highly-anticipated performance was part of We Are One: The Barack Obama Inaugural Celebration. The 89-year-old veteran performer played his 5-string banjo and led the audience of nearly 400,000 people in singing Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” Tao Rodriguez-Seeger (Pete’s grandson), Bruce Springsteen and the Inaugural Celebration Chorus assisted Pete during his performance.

If you’ve not seen Pete’s Inaugural Celebration performance, you should. I cheered the live broadcast from my living room and have watched the video clip below several times. I’m still in awe.

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No. 7

Today is sixstr stories’ seventh birthday.

What better way to celebrate than with a brand new song?! Especially if that song has seven verses! (Ok: it has eight.)

I wrote “Weekdays, Weekdays” with my grandson in mind and, well… just for the fun of it.

I hope you have fun with it, too.

Happy Birthday, sixstr stories! Here’s to many more.

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This Historic Day In Music: The Kansas City Five

On Friday, March 18, 1938, record producer John Hammond gathered five Jazz musicians in a New York City recording studio for a recording session.

The musicians were: Buck Clayton, trumpet; Eddie Durham, trombone & electric guitar; Freddie Green, rhythm guitar; Walter Page, bass; and Jo Jones, drums. They were, at the time, all members of the Count Basie Orchestra.

This ensemble, tentatively called Eddie Durham & His Base Four, cut four numbers that day: “Laughing At Life,” “Good Mornin’ Blues,” “I Know That You Know” and “Love Me Or Leave Me.”

Those recordings were designed to be the first in Jazz to feature the electric guitar.

“Laughing At Life” was the first piece that the group recorded.

Dave Oliphant wrote in his 1996 book, Texan Jazz, that Eddie Durham’s performance on “Laughing At Life:” “abounds with riff-like figures as well as sixteenth-note pickups to boppish licks. He leaps from low to high notes, plays bluesy, falling-off moans, and utters sudden whines in the upper register.”

Listen for yourself. (You’ll be glad you did!)

 

John Hammond had originally produced this session to be released by Brunswick Records. But when they declined, he sold the sides to Milt Gabler of New York’s Commodore Music Shop. Somewhere along the line, the name of the group was changed so as to be perfectly clear about the geographically-specific style of Jazz that they played.

“Laughing At Life” b/w “I Know That You Know” by the Kansas City Five was released as Commodore Records #510, a 78 rpm disc, in 1938.

“Laughing At Life” was written in 1930. The song’s music was composed by Bob Todd and Cornell Todd and the lyrics were penned by Charles Kenny and Nick Kenny.

Ruth Etting, “America’s Sweetheart of Song,” was the first to record “Laughing At Life,” waxing her rendition on September 29, 1930, for Columbia Records.

Scott Yanow, writing in the All Music Guide to Jazz, sees Eddie Durham’s work on the four Kansas City Five recordings as being “among the first worthwhile examples of the electric guitar on record.”

This is a recording studio photo of Eddie Durham, circa 1940.

 

J.T.L.Y.K.: The majority of the sources that I used in putting together this post listed March 18, 1938 as the date of the Kansas City Five recording session. However, a couple of sources did have the date as March 16, 1938.

Good music doesn’t get old, whatever its birthdate.

P.S.: If you’re interested in reading more about some of the other early recordings that feature an electric guitar, go into the Archives for June, 2010 and check out my post of June 15 called Recent Discoveries.

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This Historic Day In Music: Nina Simone

The 4th Annual Boston Globe Jazz Festival was held the weekend of January 31 and February 1, 1969. The festival’s venue was the War Memorial Auditorium in the Prudential Center on Boylston Street in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. (Tickets were $5.50, $4.50 and $3.50.)

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I attended the Saturday evening, February 1 performance with Alan, my friend and bandmate, and his father. It was my first Boston concert.

The 8 pm show featured trumpeter & vocalist Hugh Masekela; singer & pianist Nina Simone; Blues singer & electric guitarist B.B. King; and pianist & synthesizer player Sun Ra with his Arkestra.

Remarkably, I still have snapshot memories of all four performances. And even though Nina Simone is one of the two artists from that evening (the other is B.B. King) who had the biggest impact on me, I could not even begin to tell you what she played that night.

Until now.

Thanks to a bit of luck and the wonders of the internet, I found a review of the entire festival that had been published in the May 1, 1969 issue of Down Beat magazine. It was written by Alan Heineman, one of the magazine’s chief music critics at that time.

According to Mr. Heineman, Nina Simone and her band opened their set that February night with a slow but forceful reading of the Bob Dylan song, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” They carried on with a joyous performance of “In The Morning” (aka “The Morning of My Life”) by The Bee Gee’s, followed by another Dylan song, “I Shall Be Released.” Nina then kicked into a rousing medley of “Ain’t Got No” and “I Got Life” from the Rock musical Hair and segued into her (not The Beatles’) “Revolution.” She closed the set with her superb interpretation of the Leonard Cohen song, “Suzanne.”

I recently discovered as well that Nina Simone had recorded her gorgeous rendition of “I Shall Be Released” just a few weeks prior to the Boston Globe Jazz Festival. On Wednesday, January 8, 1969, at RCA Studios in New York City, accompanied by a five-piece band and two background vocalists, Nina played piano and sang on this recording.

Listen.

 

(If you enjoyed that piece, let me recommend a CD: Just Like A Woman: Nina Simone Sings Classic Songs Of The ’60’s. This 2007 RCA/Legacy, Sony BMG collection includes “I Shall Be Released,” “In The Morning,” “Suzanne” and eleven other exemplary recordings.)

Nina Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on February 21, 1933. She was the sixth child of Mary Kate and John Divine Waymon. Mary Kate was a Methodist minister and John was a handyman. They raised their family in the town of Tryon, North Carolina.

Eunice began learning to play the piano at the age of three. She made her concert debut at the age of twelve performing a recital of classical piano music. Throughout high school, Eunice aspired to become a concert pianist. After her graduation in 1950, she spent the summer at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. She then applied for a scholarship to attend the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Despite a well-received audition, Eunice’s application was denied.

In 1954, Eunice took a gig at the Midtown Bar & Grill in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She created a stage name, “Nina Simone,” (“Nina” is Spanish for “little girl” and “Simone” came from the French actress, Simone Signoret) because she didn’t want her mother to find out about her performances at the bar. Mary Kate would have considered the Jazz and Blues music that Eunice played and sang to be the “Devil’s Music.”

Nina Simone recorded her first album, Little Girl Blue, in 1958. Her forty-fifth and last album, A Single Woman, was released in 1993.

Nina Simone’s music was and always will be impossible to classify. She drew from Jazz, Blues, Classical, Gospel, Pop, Folk, Soul and Broadway show tunes. The only label she would allow was “Black Classical Music.” In 1997, she told a writer for Interview magazine: “My choices were intuitive and I had the technique to do it.” Ben Edmonds wrote in the liner notes to the CD mentioned above that whatever song Nina chose to sing, “Once done by her, it (became) simply a Nina Simone song.”

Nina Simone/Eunice Kathleen Waymon passed away on April 21, 2003 in Carry-le-Rouet, Bouches-du-Rhone, France.

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(Going, Goin’) Home (Coming, Again)

I was born in Exeter, New Hampshire.

Over the course of the sixty-something years since, I’ve lived in a handful of locations around the Granite State. Besides Exeter, I’ve taken up residence in North Conway, Raymond, Dover and Hampton Beach.

Well, my wife and I recently joined the ranks of down-sizing baby boomers and, since the end of December, I am once more living in Exeter.

No small accomplishment. Therefore, this post.

There were many contenders for a recording to accompany this missive. Among them were:

“Goin’ Home” – the 11-minute-plus track by The Rolling Stones from the album, Aftermath (1966);

“I’m Going Home” – as performed by Ten Years After at the famous Woodstock Music & Art Fair in August, 1969 and included in the 1970 documentary film of that event;

“Home Again” – by Carole King and part of her 1971 album Tapestry;

and “Homecoming” – by Josh Ritter, from Sermon On The Rocks, his 2015 album.

I also thought of:

“Homeward Bound” – by Paul Simon and released in 1966 on Simon & Garfunkel’s Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme album and “My Hometown” – by Bruce Springsteen from his 1984 album Born In The USA.

But the piece that musically best fit the bill was (drum roll, please…):

“Going Home (Theme of Local Hero)” by Mark Knopfler.

To me, “Going Home” sounds like moving; from the initial idea to the unpacking of the last box, all in 5 gorgeous minutes of music.

Listen for yourself. (Headphones recommended.)

 

 

The inimitable and brilliant Mark Knopfler plays the acoustic and electric guitar on that track; Michael Brecker is the saxophonist; Alan Clark covers the various keyboard duties; Tony Levin plays bass and Terry Williams is the drummer.

“Going Home” is the theme music of Local Hero, a charming British film, written and directed by Bill Forsyth in 1983.

All of the music for Local Hero was created and performed by Guitarist/Singer/Songwriter Mark Knopfler. (Knopfler was, at the time, internationally well known as the leader of the very popular British rock band, Dire Straits.) The music from the film was released in March, 1983, on an album also called Local Hero. (Highly recommended!)

And yes, Carole King, it is very nice to be home again.

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Pat The Fish

I first took my daily morning walk on the concrete-paved promenade of New Hampshire’s Hampton Beach State Park back in October. Starting that morning near the southern end of the park, I began looking for some kind of landmark that I could use over the next couple of months as a turn-around point for the routine of my walk.

I soon found exactly what I was looking for.

I found the fish.

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The fish is a granite sculpture entitled “Pale-scaled Snapper.” It was created in 2011 by Alexander Renard, an Armenian-born artist who, at the time, resided in Eliot, Maine.

The sculpture is one of several art works installed in the park by the N.H. State Council on the Arts during the Hampton Beach State Park Redevelopment Project that ran from May, 2010 to November, 2011.

“Pale-scaled Snapper” is approximately 46″ long, 23″ tall and 12″ wide. It is displayed on a large round, two-tiered, concrete and granite pedestal that is located on the southern end of the Park’s Central Beach Access. The pedestal elevates “Pale-scaled Snapper” so that it is eye-to-eye with a six-foot tall admirer like myself.

That October morning, as I turned at the Central Beach Access to head back south, I had a thought: “Pat the fish.”

So, I did. (And still do.)

“Pat the fish”

As the phrase rattled around in my head for the next few days, I decided that it would make a good title for a new instrumental guitar piece.

Here, many stolen moments later, is what I came up with:

“Pat The Fish” – created and performed by Eric Sinclair.

“Pat The Fish” was recorded in the guest bedroom of our rented Hampton Beach condominium on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 30, 2016. I used the GarageBand app in my iPad outfitted with an external Zoom iQ6 XY Stereo Microphone.

Hampton Beach State Park was established as a state park in 1933. It is 1.2 miles long and extends along the southern half of New Hampshire’s coast line. The Park is bordered on the west by Ocean Boulevard/Route 1A.

P.S.: On the morning of the day after Thanksgiving, “Pale-scaled Snapper” had something in its mouth. The space had been carefully filled with a fish-sized meal of mashed potatoes, green peas, carrots and turkey. The next day, the food was gone!

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A Thanksgiving Song (Reprise)

The other day, I was telling a friend about this song and I couldn’t quite recall all the details of its story. As I searched the sixstr stories archives, I thought, “Time for a reprise!”

So, here’s to Lydia Maria Child and here’s to you, with best wishes to you and yours for a very happy Thanksgiving Day!

 

I know what you’re going to say.

“‘Over The River And Through The Woods’ is a Christmas song.”

Well…

Here’s the story.

The words to “Over The River And Through The Woods” were taken from a poem.

The poem was called “The New-England Boy’s Song About Thanksgiving Day” and it was written by Lydia Maria Child. The original 12 verse poem was included in Ms. Child’s book, Flowers for Children, Vol. 2 and was published in 1844.

Lydia Maria Child was born on February 11, 1802 in Medford, Massachusetts. She was a prolific author, a journalist and an active antislavery and women’s rights activist. Her first novel, Hobomok: A Tale of Early Times, was published in 1824. Her last publication, Aspirations of the World, came out in 1878.

Lydia Maria Child passed away on October 20, 1880 in Wayland, Massachusetts. She was 78 years old.

No one seems to know who set the poem to music or when. One source suggests 1870 and another cites a published version of the song dated 1897. One source believes the melody to be “an old French Folk tune.” The song is generally listed as being “traditional,” or authored by “Anonymous.”

I’ve long enjoyed this song, both the words and its jaunty, infectious melody. We have home videos of past Thanksgivings with me merrily whistling the tune in the background, a soundtrack for the family craziness.

For your Thanksgiving listening pleasure, I have arranged and recorded a fingerstyle, acoustic guitar arrangement of this timeless song. Here, too, are the lyrics, if you’d like to sing along! (Good luck with the second and third verses!)

“Over The River And Through The Woods” – arranged and performed by Eric Sinclair.

 

Over the river and through the woods, to Grandfather’s house we go;

The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh, through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the woods, oh, how the wind does blow!

It stings the toes and bites the nose as over the ground we go.

 

Over the river and through the woods, to have a full day of play;

Oh, hear the bells ringing, “Ting-a-ling-ling!,” for it’s Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river and through the woods, trot fast my dapple gray;

Spring over the ground just like a hound for this is Thanksgiving Day!

 

Over the river and through the woods and straight through the barnyard gate.

It seems that we go so incredibly slow, it is so hard to wait.

Over the river and through the woods, now Grandmother’s cap I spy.

Hurrah for fun, the pudding’s done, hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

 

This post (in a slightly different form) originally appeared in sixstr stories on November 28, 2013.

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Moving Day

That it is: the day that my wife and I say “Farewell!” to our house and home of 36 1/2 years.

I’ve known and loved Jim Kweskin’s recording of “Moving Day” for way longer than that.

I can think of no better soundtrack for this day.

Take it, Jim.

 

“Moving Day” was published in 1906. Andrew B. Sterling wrote the words and Harry von Tilzer composed the music.

The song was first recorded by Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers sometime between 1926 and 1931.

Jim Kweskin and The Neo-Passe Jazz Band included their rendition of “Moving Day” on their truly joyous 1967 album, Jump For Joy.

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