Tag Archives: Paul McCartney

The Musical Legacy of Cumberland University

23 Dec

Cumberland University, my alma mater and place of employment, has a rich history with graduates who have gone on to great success.

Cordell Hull served as Secretary of State under Franklin Roosevelt and won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Howell Edmunds Jackson was a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Horace Harmon Lurton was also a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

There have been numerous governors, United States Senators and members of the House of Representatives.

We talk about those people all of the time. However, we tend to neglect those who have gained fame in the music industry. In the past few days, this has been brought to my attention.

Chloe Kohanski, one of our former students, won this season of The Voice. She now has a recording contract, and all of us at Cumberland wish her great success.

After her victory, my friend Tick informed me that others who have walked our campus have gone on to musical success. Yes, this is the south, and we have people named Tick. I also know people named Squirrel, Burrhead, Buckwheat, Pee Wee and Honeybun.

Anyway, Tick provided a few names that I found interesting.

Fred Young, drummer for The Kentucky Headhunters, went to Cumberland University. The group started playing together in 1968 and became an “overnight” success in 1989 when they had four Top 40 hits. They also won a Grammy. Unfortunately, they were not able to follow up that success.

Russell Smith was the lead singer for the Amazing Rhythm Aces. In 1975, they had a huge hit with “Third Rate Romance.” Smith went on to become a successful songwriter in Nashville. Ironically, he grew up next door to my father-in-law in LaFayette, Tennessee.

Of course, this list would not be complete without the former Cumberland student with the greatest musical legacy – my friend Tick.

He has been performing around here for years and has his own Youtube channel. You should head over there and check him out. There are some great performances and more information about local musical history. You will learn about the days when the Allman Brothers and Paul McCartney hung out in town.

Conversation With a Legend

23 Mar

This past Saturday, I was visiting my parents when their neighbor pulled up in a golf cart. I went out to talk with him and noticed a couple of fishing poles in the back of the cart. He wanted to spend some time fishing in the pond behind the house.

We talked for a few minutes, and he talked about the beauty of the land around us. I thanked him and told him how much I liked the farm from which he had just moved. I told him that I remembered my parents taking me on Sunday drives when I was a kid and how we used to drive by his place.

He asked me if I remembered when Paul McCartney lived on his farm in the early 1970s. I was too young to remember that, but I told him that I have heard a bunch of stories about it. He was also glad to hear that the Country Music Hall of Fame has a panel about McCartney’s time on the farm in their latest exhibit.image-9

I was talking to Curly Putman, and his farm was immortalized by Paul McCartney in a song called “Junior’s Farm.” However, Mr. Putman is more than just a man who sold his farm and moved close to my parents. He is also one of the music’s most accomplished and successful songwriters.

Not long after we started talking, my parents came out to visit, and I drove to the pond to open the gate. On the way back, I stopped and talked some more with Mr. Putman. We talked about how many people consider his song “He Stopped Loving Her Today” to be the greatest Country song of all time. However, “Green, Green Grass of Home” has always been my favorite.

Mr. Putman said that it is also one of his favorites because it has been recorded by more than 700 artists. A song that was not a big hit when it first came out has stood the test of time.

I did not want to keep Mr. Putman from fishing. I pulled away as he rode toward the pond. However, I hope that I get to talk to him again and find out how he can sit down and write a song.

Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats

4 Mar

A few week ago, my wife and I visited the Country Music Hall of Fame, which we like to do when they have an interesting exhibit. This time, they had a couple of exhibits that I wanted to see. The first was about Sam Phillips and Sun Records. The second was about the friendship between Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash and the effect it had on the Nashville music scene.image-7

Nashville has always been known for Country music, but I have been more fascinated with the story of Nashville’s other music. For example, it has a deep Rhythm and Blues history and is where Jimi Hendrix got his start.

I have read about Dylan’s time in Nashville and was interested to see how the Country Music Hall of Fame would present it. They did better than I could have imagined and introduced me to facts that I did not know.

Obviously, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash were the focus, but that was only the beginning. It covered the artists who were inspired by Dylan’s work in the city and followed him here. It was awesome to see the display on Paul McCartney and his time living in my hometown of Lebanon.image-9

The story of Paul McCartney’s time in town has gone down in local lore, but there were a ton of artists that I never knew recorded here. On the way out, I bought an album of songs that were highlighted in the exhibit, and it provides an example of some of those artists.

Gordon Lightfoot

The Byrds

The Monkees

Leonard Cohen

Country Joe McDonald

Simon and Garfunkel

George Harrison

Ringo Starr

Joan Baez

Neil Young

Derek and the Dominos

Those people are well-known in the history of music. However, this exhibit also highlighted the session musicians who played the music to which those people sang. These are the unsung heroes of Nashville and have become known as the Nashville Cats.

Several people had their own displays, but Jerry Reed was my favorite. Those who only know him as Snowman in Smokey and the Bandit or the football coach in The Waterboy may not realize that he was one of the greatest guitarists to ever play in Nashville. He was the heir apparent to Chet Atkins and had a distinctive style that other players have tried to duplicate.image-8

As always, the Country Music Hall of Fame did a fantastic job with the exhibit. Each time I go to the museum, I learn something new. If you ever make it to Nashville, then you will need to visit the place. Just remember that Country music is not the only music that has come out of this city.

The Soundtrack of My Youth – 1984

6 Apr

The year when people who had never heard of George Orwell suddenly knew all about him. The year I got my first car and could cruise the Main with my radio blaring. Yep, 1984 was an interesting year. It was also a good year for some new artists and for some artists who had been around for a while.1984

The year began the way 1983 ended. “Say Say Say” by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson was at the top of the charts and would stay there for a couple of more weeks.

They were knocked out of that spot by Yes. This band had been around for years and hit the top with “Owner of a Lonely Heart”. The song stayed on top for two weeks but was overtaken by a new group that became one of the definitions of the 1980s.

Culture Club, led by Boy George, gained everyone’s attention with “Karma Chameleon”. They held the Number One position for three weeks. Then, they found themselves up against a band that liked to be called hard rock, but I am not sure about that.

“Jump” by Van Halen remained Number One for five weeks in February and March. I like a good Hard Rock hair band, but this bunch was too cheesy for my taste. This was never one of my favorite songs.

Thankfully, they were jumped by someone else. Less thankfully, it was another cheesy song. It was also from a cheesy movie. “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins proved that he had moved on from his days Jim Messina. It also proved that teenagers will watch any dumb movie with music and dancing.

Interestingly, “Footloose” was replaced by another song from another soundtrack. “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” by Phil Collins came from a movie of the same name. It was another typical 198s movie but was geared towards adults rather than kids. It was also one of the last films of Richard Widmark, one of the all time great actors.

Phil Collins had been a member of Genesis before going on to a solo career. He lost the top spot to another singer who was doing the same thing. Lionel Richie had been a member of The Commodores. Now, he had another hit song with “Hello”.

“Let’s Here It for the Boy” by Deniece Williams was Number One for a couple of weeks and was followed by a string of performers who typified the music of the 1980s. In fact, the summer of 1984 was dominated by three artists.

It began with “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper and continued with one of my favorite groups, Duran Duran. How can you go wrong with a group named after a character in Barbarella? Anyway, they saw “The Reflex” go to Number One.

Duran Duran stayed there for a couple of weeks. Then, they were replaced by the biggest hit of 1984. “When Doves Cry” by Prince is an awesome song that stayed at the top of the charts for five weeks, including the entire month of July.

It gave way to another song from a movie. However, this was not just any movie. Ghostbusters was about a group of guys who rid New York City of apparitions. Then, they almost met their match went they went up against a gigantic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Oh yeah, “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker, Jr. went Number One.

Then, the music world saw the triumphant return of a 1960s icon. After a life filled with struggle, Tina Turner, from Nutbush, Tennessee, returned to the charts with “What’s Love Got to Do with It”. She stayed at Number One for three weeks.

For one week, “Missing You” by John Waite reached the peak of the charts. However, it feel away under the power of Prince, who had his second Number One song with “Let’s Go Crazy”.

Another star of the 1960s and 1970s returned to the charts in October. “I Just Called to Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder was Number One for three weeks.

“Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)” by Billy Ocean was next in line. Here is something interesting. Depending on the region of the world, the title and lyrics changed.

Another quintessential 1980s act reached the top in November. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” took Wham! to the top of the charts.

They were overtaken by another duo but one that had several hits. Hall and Oates returned to Number One with “Out of Touch” and remained there for two weeks.

Another newcomer replaced them, but this newcomer was taking her first step toward becoming a trendsetter and superstar. She would do that through music and lifestyle. The year 1984 ended with the introduction of Madonna. “Like A Virgin” spent the last two weeks of the year at Number One. I am sure it was played at a ton of New Years Eve parties.

Those are the Number One songs of 1984. Obviously, those were not all of the artists putting out music. What were some of your favorite 1984 songs?

The Soundtrack of My Youth – 1983

5 Apr

When we get into the car, my stepdaughter hooks her iPod up to the system, and the sounds of the 2010s come blasting through the speakers. She sings and can tell us anything we want to know about the people who are singing. Without her, my pop culture knowledge would be zero.

Some of the music is good, and some of it is less desirable. However, it is always fun to see how much enjoyment she gets out of it.

The other day, we were riding and jamming when I started thinking about the effect of music on our formative years. These are the songs we grow up with, and they stick with us throughout our lives. I came to age in the 1980s and, like others my age, feel a connection to the music of that time. I am not saying it was the best of all time, but it belongs to us.

The songs of the 1980s are the soundtrack of our youth just as the songs of the 2010s are the soundtrack of my stepdaughter’s youth. Because of that, each generation holds its music in a little higher esteem than everyone else does.

With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to look back at my high school years and see what was at the top of the charts. I entered high school in 1983, and that will be our starting point. I will also use the Billboard Top 100. Obviously, there are other charts for other genres, but we do not want to go down a rabbit hole and never get out.1983

“Maneater” by Hall and Oates held the spot for the first two weeks of the year. These days, John Oates does a lot of work in Nashville.

The next three weeks were dominated by “Down Under” by Men at Work. This is one of my favorite songs from that year.

For one week, Toto’s “Africa” hit the top spot. It is interesting that two songs about other parts of the world made their way to the top of the American charts. It is also interesting that Men at Work returned to the top place after this one week.

Patti Austin and James Ingram hit it big with “Baby, Come to Me”, but were soon overwhelmed by a 1980s superstar.

In March, “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson became the Number One song and stayed there for seven weeks.

Here is a good trivia question. Who knocked “Billie Jean” out of the top spot? It was Dexys Midnight Runners with “Come On Eileen”. However, their success was short-lived.

After one week, Michael Jackson came back by putting “Beat It” in the top spot. It would stay there for three weeks.

The next week, “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie made its way to Number One, but it did not hold on for long.

Irene Cara’s “Flashdance…What a Feeling” was a hit on the radio and on the big screen. For six weeks, guys listened to this song and pictured a dancer pouring water on herself.

A song about stalking was next on the list. “Every Breath You Take” by The Police is a good song, but it gets weird as you listen closer to the lyrics. Actually, it was the biggest hit of 1983 and stayed Number One for eight weeks.

Eurythmics rode “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” up the charts. In my mind, this is also one of the best songs of the year.

Then, we have “Maniac” by Michael Sembello. This is the second song from the Flashdance soundtrack to make it to the top of the charts.

Billy Joel was on top with “Tell Her About It” for one week and was overtaken by “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler. This is also one of my favorites and held its position for four weeks.

The country went the Pop Country route with “Islands in the Stream” by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. They are both in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

They were at the top for two weeks before Lionel Richie came through with “All Night Long (All Night)” in November. He stayed there for four weeks.

The year ended with a four-week stay at the top by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson. “Say Say Say” was a duet that proves McCartney is not new to collaboration. His recent work with Kanye West and Rihanna is just the most recent example.

That is it for 1983. In the next post, we will look at 1984 and find out which of these performers kept their momentum into the next year.

Obviously, these are not the only songs of the year. What were some of your favorites?

 

 

 

Through the 1970s and Beyond

27 Mar

The other day, I saw something on Twitter that required further research. After a little Googling, I discovered that this information has made the Internet rounds and has been written about a bunch. However, that is not going to stop me from putting my spin on it.

Anyway, it goes like this.

In February 1970, Circus magazine pictured a bunch of people on its covered and asked if they would survive the following decade.Ty0ZdBT47

It was a morbid idea for a cover, but it has led to an interesting question. How many of them made it?

The following list is in the order of their appearance.

Johnny Cash survived the 1970s and lived until 2003. Luckily, I was able to meet him when we ran into each other in a bookstore.

Pete Townshend is still living and is about to go on another tour. I saw The Who on their last tour but left the arena disappointed.

Jim Morrison passed away in 1971 and is buried in a Parisian cemetery.

Paul McCartney is alive and recording. In fact, he just did a thing with Kanye West and Rihanna.

Grace Slick is very much alive but probably not as slick.

Bob Dylan is still around and will soon be performing in Nashville. I just read that the Country Music Hall of Fame is opening a new exhibit about him and Johnny Cash.

Janis Joplin passed away a few months after the issue hit the stands.

John Lennon made it through the 1970s but was gunned down in 1980.

Jimi Hendrix also died a few months after this issue first came out.

Johnny Winter survived the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2014.

Alvin Lee died one year earlier in 2013.

Ray Davies is still alive and doing his thing.

John Mayall is also still with us.

Mick Jagger just announced a stadium tour for The Rolling Stones. They will be returning to Nashville.

Elvis Presley died at Graceland in 1977. Luckily, my parents took me to one of his concerts a few years before that.

George Harrison was the second Beatle to leave us. He passed away in 2001.

Ringo Starr is still playing drums and getting help from his friends.

Charlie Watts is also still around. I wonder if he will be doing that stadium tour.

Jimmy Page is definitely alive. I read that his girlfriend is the same age he was when he appeared on that cover.

David Crosby is also in the news. A few days ago, he ran over a jogger.

What does all that mean?

It means that Circus put out a dumb cover and a dumb article.

It also means that most of these rockers, despite their crazy lifestyles, made it out of the 1970s. Of the 20 that were listed, 11 of them are still alive 45 years later. Out of the 9 who have passed away, 4 lived into the 21st Century.

Four of them passed away in the 1970s. Three of those due to drug use, and the fourth, Jim Morrison, remains a mystery.

However, I have a few questions. Who thought up this article? Did any of those featured read it? Did they get made or laugh at it?

I guess someone could ask those who are still on this earth.

My iPod Has Issues – The Weekend That Was

20 Jan

Over the past few days, the weather has been unusually warm, and we took the opportunity to get out and about. The long weekend has spent doing things other than sitting at home.

On Friday night, we had a nice meal at a Greek restaurant and saw American Sniper. The theater was packed, and the first two showings were sold out. We bought tickets and hung out in the lobby until our screen was ready. When I write that the place was packed, I am not kidding. The teenagers taking tickets were overwhelmed, and the police officer working security had to help them. It was obvious that the movie would make a ton of money.

On Saturday night, we helped celebrate the 50th birthday of a friend. We had a great meal at a place called Urban Grub. Then, everyone started talking about going to the honky-tonk bars for which Nashville is famous. We were not up for loud music and loud crowds and headed home. The next morning, we learned that none of them went to the bars. I guess people who go to 50th birthday parties have barks that are bigger than their bites.

On Sunday, we had brunch at Sammy B’s, a local restaurant in an old woolen mill. The entire complex has been renovated, and there are a few businesses inside. However, the restaurant is probably the most popular.

After brunch, we went on a drive through the country. We like a country drive every so often and try to pick different routes. On this drive, we went past a farm that Paul McCartney called home for a few months in the early 1970s. We also stopped at a country store looking for fried peach pies. Unfortunately, we had to settle for candy bars.

Today, we went back to Nashville and had lunch at Burger Up, a place where burger does not adequately describe what you are getting. Then, we walked down the street to Jeni’s Ice Creams. This place is the bomb.

Tonight, we went to Gondola Italian Restaurant, an old staple for us, to celebrate my brother’s birthday. He is ten years older, which means that his current membership in AARP represents my future.

Wait, I just realized. We went to two birthday dinners, and there was not a birthday cake at either one.Cake

Anyway, that is the weekend that was. I know it is not exciting. To add something to the mix, here are a few selections from my iPod.

“Take California” by Propellerheads

“Memphis Exorcism” by Squirrel Nut Zippers

“Waterloo” by Stonewall Jackson

“Paranoid Android” by Radiohead

“Chill in the Air” by Amos Lee

“69 Police” by David Holmes

“The Chokin’ Kind” by Joe Simon

“Spanish Harlem” by Ben E. King

“My Little Home in Tennessee” by Mac Wiseman

“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen

“Endless Black Ribbon” by Tiny Harris

“Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent

“Don’t Say You Don’t Remember” by Beverly Bremers

“Piece of My Heart” by Big Brother and the Holding Company

“Cripple Creek” by The Dillards

“Go Speed Racer Go” by Sponge

“Lose Yourself” by Eminem

“The Harder They Come” by Jimmy Cliff

“Love, Love, Love” by Ted Jarrett

“Jack of Diamonds” by Nevada Slim