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Bad News for Huey Lewis

Huey Lewis poster 2014

Quirky T was very saddened to find out that Huey Lewis has lost his hearing. As a result, he cannot perform and had to cancel all his band’s 2018 concerts. I feel so bad for what he is going through personally and professionally. I pray that the hearing loss is not permanent and he can return to singing and performing very soon.

cu Huey Lewis Sports poster

I am extremely lucky to have seen Huey Lewis and the News in concert four times between 2009 and 2014. I have been a fan since their 1983 album, “Sports”. I had to wait 26 years until I first saw them in concert. After that first concert, I tried to see them every chance I could. Luckily that was not hard to do since they tour every year, mostly in the summer months. I’m so happy that I saw them multiple times because I would really be regretting it now if I had missed my opportunities. I feel so bad for all the fans who have tickets to the upcoming cancelled concerts and now won’t have the amazing concert experiences I had. Hopefully, the majority of them have seen the band before and have great memories.

 

This sad news has made me realize how lucky I am to have seen all my favorite musicians in concert (except The Beatles). It makes me want to take advantage of any future concert opportunities I have. That includes seeing Phil Collins in his limited physical capacity. I really appreciate Farewell and Final Tours now because at least those artists could decide on their own when to stop performing and let their fans know it’s the last chance to see them in concert.

 

Hopefully, this isn’t the end of performing and making music for Huey Lewis. I’ll be praying and waiting for his joyful return.

 

Guitar Train passengers, who are you very grateful to have seen in concert?

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Quirky T is Excited about Opening Day

New York Yankees logo

Today is opening day of the Major League Baseball season. I am so excited about the upcoming New York Yankees season. They surprisingly were one win away from going to the World Series last year. With a young, talented team, I’m excited to see how far they can go this season. Interesting note, the Yankees have won the World Series in 1938, 1958, 1978, and 1998. I can see a pattern where this should be the year for their 28th World Series Championship.

Yankee Stadium

Yankee Stadium

To get on the right musical track for the new Yankees season, here are songs which remind me of going to Yankee Stadium for games.

  1. “YMCA”
  2. “Cotton-Eyed Joe”
  3. “New York, New York”

 

The Yankees grounds crew does a choreographed dance to “YMCA” by the Village People while they rake the infield dirt during the 5th inning. They have been doing this for decades now and it is still a highlight.

 

Not so much of a highlight is the playing of “Cotton-Eyed Joe” in the 8th inning while someone in a straw hat dances in a booth in the stadium. I was never fond of that song and I don’t think it fits in the Bronx, New York. The song has an interesting history, though, which can be read on Wikipedia.

Frank Sinatra framed photo

photo at Yankee Stadium

 

 

Leaving Yankee Stadium with other jubilant Yankees fans after another win with everyone singing along to Frank Sinatra’s, “New York, New York” is one of the best experiences. Fortunately, it is an experience I’ve had repeatedly over the past 22 years. I look forward to more wins this season.

 

Guitar Train passengers, what songs do you associate with your favorite sports teams?

Quirky T Examines Representative Love Songs

Starship T-shirt

 

Quirky T has some post Valentine’s Day musical observations. Where I work love songs are played constantly since a high percentage of pop songs from the 80’s to today are love songs. My workplace playlist regularly plays Billy Joel, Richard Marx, Peter Cetera, and Elton John so love songs are highly represented on a daily basis. The plus side of the daily repetition is I enjoy these artists. On an almost daily basis, I can also hear two (love) songs from one of my faves, Huey Lewis (“Do You Believe in Love?” and “Happy to be Stuck with You”). I can also hear a favorite (love) song from my favorite movie – The Proclaimers “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” from “Benny and Joon”. So the only way I realized that the music selection had changed to a Valentine theme a few days before the holiday was when I heard Nat King Cole’s “When I Fall in Love”. It definitely stuck out among the more modern music. It’s interesting that even though mostly every song being played was a love song, the music programmers thought they had to dig deep decades before the 80’s to find true love songs. It got me excited that maybe next I would hear some Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin. I didn’t. Nat King Cole was the anomaly. The other “Valentine’s songs” were from the 80’s to today and included Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.”

Cloud 9 CD cover

I found it interesting when all the possible love songs in the world are narrowed down to just three songs to represent this incredibly large and diverse genre. A store sold musical balloons for Valentine’s Day with only a choice of three songs – “Got My Mind Set on You” the George Harrison version,   “You’re the One that I Want” from the movie “Grease”, and “Hooked on a Feeling”. Of course I prefer the George Harrison song but I don’t think it’s his most romantic song. “Something” and “Old Brown Shoe” come to mind before that cover song. The song from “Grease” is fun but problematic when you consider the scene from the movie where the song appears. Danny makes positive changes to his life to impress Sandy such as giving up smoking and exercising. While Sandy takes up smoking and dressing slutty to attract Danny. So who really is the one that they want? The one who they really are or the one that they become to impress each other? “Hooked on a Feeling” is not the most romantic song as it is more about lust than romantic, lasting love. Plus, whenever I hear that song, I think of the dancing baby on the TV show “Ally McBeal”.

Hallmark, the greeting card company, actually sold vinyl 45 records with their Valentine greeting cards. The three records chosen were Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are”/”Marry You”,  Aretha Frankin’s “Respect”/”Think”, and INXS’ “Need You Tonight”/”Never Tear Us Apart”. Again, I am not sure these are the best love songs to represent all love songs. Even being limited to just Atlantic Records recording artists would yield a huge amount of love songs. (For example, my favorite Phil Collins who released a compilation actually called “Love Songs”). The Bruno Mars songs are appropriate, romantic, and current. The Aretha Franklin songs are more warnings to men than love songs. “Need You Tonight” like “Hooked on a Feeling” is more about lust than love. While “Never Tear Us Apart” seems romantically appropriate. I’m surprised that INXS was included with the amazing Bruno Mars and the legendary Aretha Franklin. If not for the quirky fact that my workplace actually plays those two INXS songs on an almost daily basis, I probably wouldn’t have heard those songs since they came out thirty years ago.

 

Songs do send messages so the musical balloons or records with the greeting cards given to a sweetheart on Valentine’s Day could be a way of sending a message that may not be as romantic as the occasion calls for. Of course it’s hard to narrow down a huge genre to less than 10 representative songs. I just found it interesting which songs were chosen to represent that love.

 

Guitar Train passengers, what three songs would you choose to represent Valentine’s Day?

 

How Much Do You Want To Know?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Recently, Quirky T bought two musical memoirs to read aboard The Guitar Train. I have finished reading Phil Collins’ 2016 autobiography, “Not Dead Yet” and am partway through his Genesis bandmate, Mike Rutherford’s, “The Living Years”. The minute I heard Phil Collins was writing a memoir, I knew I had to read it. While looking online for the release date, I came across Mike Rutherford’s book. It was published in 2014. It is interestingly labeled as “the first Genesis memoir” which seems an odd way to promote it. It’s not as if the former bandmates are in a huge feud and one wanted to get his side of the story out before another did. I ordered this first Genesis autobiography but I read it after Phil Collins’.

My interest in reading these books is for the information on what led the musicians to write the songs I love. I’m not very interested in their family lives and I’m definitely not interested in the details of their excessive drinking and drug use. Decades ago, when I first became a Beatles fan, I had to read every book I could find about them. I had to know as much as possible. I needed to know the chronology of their musical journey as well as if they were married and how many children they had. That might be a Beatles fan thing where these are basic facts that every true Beatles fan is supposed to know. I don’t feel that way about my other favorite musicians and bands – Gloria Estefan, Phil Collins, Genesis, Huey Lewis and the News, and Jon Secada. I know about Gloria Estefan’s family life because it is simple- she married the only man she ever dated, has a son and a daughter and is still married to the same man. I only know about Phil Collins’ personal life because it is complicated and very public. So much of his autobiography reflected that. I didn’t realize the incredible backlash he felt when he ended his second marriage. He felt that people who paid to see him in concert were against him. That surprised me because they were fans and I couldn’t imagine a musician feeling like his own fans didn’t like him and still having to perform for them. I wasn’t aware of all this when I saw him in concert but I wouldn’t have held it against him because I like to hear both sides of the story.

I have never had a thought about Mike Rutherford’s personal life. His memoir is interesting because he contrasts his rock and roll life with the strict military life of his father. It is also interesting to read his point of view on Genesis events I had read about in Phil Collins’ memoir. Again, no feud between them. In fact, the end of Genesis had no drama at all. Phil wrote that he was nervous in 1996 about telling Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford that he was leaving the group because “these are my oldest musical friends. Two of my oldest friends, full stop.” When told the news, Tony replied, “Well, it’s a sad day.” Mike said, “We understand. We’re just surprised you stayed this long.” I haven’t finished reading Mike Rutherford’s book yet because like Phil Collins’ book, I want to read it slowly to extend my last new connection to Genesis since there’s no new music or tour coming from them.

 

On the topic of tours, I have seen some videos of Phil Collins’ recent tour in Europe. The videos sadden me because of Phil’s physical state. He only sits on a stool and sings. No more drumming. He looks old and frail just like he did when he promoted “Not Dead Yet” on TV talk shows. I feel so badly that he is in pain and not physically what he once was. I don’t know if I’d be able to go to his concert and really enjoy it. I’d be thinking about how vibrant he was and sad about what he is.

 

The two memoirs did not give me huge insight on the inspirations behind their songwriting. That is especially true in the case of the Phil Collins led Genesis since they wrote all their songs together and did not claim individual songwriting credit. Phil wrote in his book, “The three of us have a chat and come to an agreement that anything we’ve finished writing as an individual, we’ll keep for ourselves for future solo projects. Any incomplete but promising ideas, we’ll bring in and put to the band committee.” Phil also debunks the belief that he is responsible for Genesis transitioning from a progressive rock bank to a pop singles band. Writing about the time after Peter Gabriel left Genesis, Phil says, “I’d rather be in an instrumental band than take over the microphone. Tony and Mike have long had aspirations to be songwriters – that is, songs with lyrics, lyrics that need to be sung. More than that: they wanted to write hit songs, singles that will reach the pop charts. It’s a development of some irony that it takes almost ten years of their songwriting skills to “mature” and come up with hit singles – exactly coinciding with the another emerging reality: I’m becoming the singer-by-default.”

 

As a far as the inspirations behind Phil Collins’ solo songs, I already knew that two of his angriest songs (which are two of my favorite songs) “I Don’t Care Anymore” and “Do You Know, Do You Care” came as a result of the bitter divorce from his first wife. He describes himself as “someone who writes from the heart and not the head”.

I guess an autobiography is not the format for writing in depth about a songwriter’s musical inspirations. Of course that type of in depth book has been written about the Beatles’ songs. The best book I read on that topic is Hunter Davis’ “The Beatles Lyrics”. Regardless, the two memoirs by Genesis bandmates were good reads and recommended for their fans.

 

Guitar Train passengers, how much do you want to know about your favorite musicians? Do you want personal details or strictly music related details? For which songwriters would you like to read an in depth explanation of the inspirations for their songs?

Quirky T’s Favorite Christmas Songs (Updated)

Quirky T has previously stopped The Guitar Train to listen to her favorite secular Christmas songs. Here is the new updated list of those fun songs.

  1. “Jingle Bells” – Barbra Streisand
  2. “A Marshmallow World” – Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin
  3. “Shake Hands With Santa Claus” – Louis Prima
  4. “Sleigh Ride” – The Ronettes
  5. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” – Bruce Springsteen
  6. “Come On Christmas, Christmas Come On” – Ringo Starr

No Christmas season would be complete without hearing Barbra Streisand’s highly caffeinated version of “Jingle Bells”. It’s as if before the recording of this song, she was told, “Okay, we only have the recording studio for two minutes. As soon as you finish drinking your extra large espresso, we’ll start.” The result must be heard to be enjoyed. It brings me joy every time I hear it.

Christmas with The Rat Pack

“A Marshmallow World” from the CD “Christmas with The Rat Pack” portrays a lovely winter setting that makes me happy. I wish it would snow enough to re-enact this song.

Mob Hits Christmas

I put Louis Prima in the same category as Lou Monte. Louis Prima’s novelty songs are fun like Lou Monte’s songs. “Shake Hands with Santa Claus” is just a fun, upbeat song. It can be found on the CD “Mob Hits Christmas” which sadly doesn’t contain Lou Monte’s “Dominick the Donkey (The Italian Christmas Donkey)”, another classic Christmas novelty song. That song is on the first “Mob Hits” CD which was released before the “Mob Hits Christmas” CD.

There are many versions of the song “Sleigh Ride” but by far my favorite is by The Ronettes. Their version is fast and fun. It cuts out the slow, boring verses and ends with you wanting to hear more.

I haven’t heard every single Bruce Springsteen song but from the ones I have heard, he seems to be quite a serious person. What I love about his version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is he seems to be having so much fun. It’s just a happy, energetic rocking song.

Ringo Starr’s Christmas song is a new addition to this list. Ringo released a whole album of Christmas songs called “I Wanna Be Santa Claus” in 1999. “Come On Christmas, Christmas Come On” is my favorite song from that album. It is a high energy song which I listen to over and over. As I mentioned in last month’s Guitar Train stop, I wish Ringo had played this song at his concert which I was lucky enough to attend.

Guitar Train passengers, what are your favorite secular Christmas songs and why?

The Guitar Train Stops to See Ringo Starr in Concert!!!

Ringo Starr marquee

Quirky T has been very lucky to see Paul McCartney in concert four times. I always thought he’d be the only Beatle I would be lucky enough to see live. That was until I saw Ringo Starr in concert!!! He was touring, as usual, with his All-Starr Band featuring famous musicians. This is such a perfect concept for Ringo in order to compensate for his lack of a huge catalog of hit songs. I wanted to see Ringo so badly that I didn’t even care who else was playing with him. This year’s line-up has actually been together since 2012. The musicians included Todd Rundgren, Gregg Rolie (from Santana and Journey), Steve Lukather (from Toto), Richard Page (from Mr. Mister), and Warren Ham (from Kansas).

Ringo Starr stage

The concert was amazing. Not surprisingly I loved Ringo Starr but I was also very impressed with all the other musicians. Before the concert, I had checked out the set list (at http://www.setlist.fm) from previous tour dates to see if I knew all the songs that could be played.  Surprisingly, I knew all the songs by all the musicians. The concert was set up with all the musicians on the stage at the same time and they each took turns as lead singer on their former groups’ hit songs. Before the concert, I had assumed other concertgoers were there primarily for Ringo. From the reactions of those around me, hearing the other musicians may have interested them more. So the concept works perfectly; there is something for everyone. I was not bored during the non-Ringo songs since the other musicians were so musically impressive and had great personalities.

Ringo Starr ticket stub and program

Ringo, or “the boss”, as the other musicians called him, was just as I thought he would be. He was funny and all “peace and love”. He was also very energetic; even doing jumping jacks at the end. I found it interesting that The Beatles were never referred to by name; they were called “the original band” or “that other band”. That could come off as bitter but not when Ringo says it. He even mentioned the band he was in before The Beatles – Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Todd Rundgren noted that this version of the All-Starr Band has been together for six years, almost as long as The Beatles. He added “it’s not that hard”. Obviously, there’s a huge difference between established musicians playing old songs together for fun versus a group of four young men with the whole world watching their every move. I was struck by the fact that Paul McCartney would not be playing in a venue as small as this 1,300 seat theater. (If he did, it would be amazing to be that close to him). He is still playing 80,000 seat stadiums.

 

I was happy with Ringo’s selection of his solo and Beatles songs. Just like Paul McCartney, Ringo performed Beatles songs which he never performed live with The Beatles. The song “Matchbox” which opened the show was more of a rocker than I had thought. I wish he had performed “Honey Don’t” but it wouldn’t be the same without Ringo calling out George Harrison to play for him. I enjoyed hearing “Back Off Boogaloo”   and I would love to tell off someone who angered me by saying that. I’m not sure it would go over well or be understood. If the concert had been in December, I would have loved to hear the band play Ringo’s “Come On Christmas, Christmas Come On” since it’s my new favorite Christmas song.

I really enjoyed this concert and am so grateful I was able to see another Beatle perform live. I was also entertained by all the other musicians in the All-Starr band. I would highly recommend this concert to everyone. It was a greatest hits set of several very talented musicians.

 

Guitar Train passengers, which musicians would you like to hear only a few hit songs from in all star format?

Music Heard When the Guitar Train Traveled in Europe

Quirky T recently conducted The Guitar Train to seven marvelous countries in Europe. As I wrote in a previous Guitar Train stop, https://guitartrain.wordpress.com/2017/08/24/the-guitar-train-is-going-to-europe/

I was not familiar with music from the countries I would be visiting – France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg. The trip was filled with amazing sights, history, food, familiar music, and even a real train ride through the Alps.

Swiss Folklore Restaurant, Lucerne

As I had anticipated, I did not hear native music in all of those counties. Switzerland was the one exception. In Lucerne, I went to an ear-opening Swiss folklore dinner and music show. Besides yodeling and alp horns, I did not know much about Swiss music. Apparentally, the Swiss had much free time back in the day while farming which led them to turn saws, brooms, bowls, bottles, cow bells and spoons into musical instruments. To see video of this musical talent and ingenuity, search You Tube for Stadtkellar Lucerne Swiss Folklore Show. To my horror, I was among a group of people called on stage to take turns doing a solo yodel in front of hundreds of tourists from around the world. My Swiss ancestors would have been embarrassed by my horrible yodeling.

Eiffel Tower

The music part of my trip began on the plane ride to Paris where I watched a documentary about Bruce Springsteen called “In His Own Words”. It was interesting as he went through his family and musical background and read from his recent autobiography. My next encounter with music occurred on the minivan ride to the Paris hotel. The driver had the Nostalgia Station on the radio and Billy Ocean’s “Caribbean Queen” played as we passed by more graffiti than I have ever seen in my life.

 

Musee d'Orsay, Paris

Musee d’Orsay, Paris

 

That was just the beginning of the familiar American and English music I heard throughout Europe. On the tour bus in Paris near the Jardin des Tuileries, “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper was playing on the bus radio. On the way to dinner that night, on the tour bus I heard the first of many ABBA songs as “Dancing Queen” made its first appearance.

 

The dinner in Paris included an amazing strolling, joking, and singing guitarist who sang songs in French, English, Italian, Spanish, and Russian to entertain the tourists from many countries. Not surprisingly the four Beatles songs he performed were very popular. Everyone happily sang along to “Michelle”, “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”, “I Saw Her Standing There”, and “Yellow Submarine.” “La Bamba” was another song that got the crowd singing.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

At a dinner in Freiberg, Germany, I had an interesting conversation with an elderly British tourist. He recounted how he first saw The Beatles on the “Ed Sullivan Show” when he lived in America. He didn’t like them then and I don’t think his opinion ever changed. He went on to tell me his theory that The Beatles wrote the words to their songs but not the music. I wasn’t able to ask him more about his conspiracy theory since the waitress interrupted us then to start dinner. He left me wondering who he thought came up with the music if not John, Paul, or George. And how did this person or group of people continue to make music for all four Beatles when they had separated and had four successful music careers for decades more? I have never heard or read this theory before and I give it no credence.

Lake Lucerne

Lake Lucerne

Someone who had much more love and respect for The Beatles was the Swiss captain of the boat cruise the tour group took on Lake Lucerne in Switzerland. He said as a youth he had four great English teachers – John, Paul, George, and Ringo. He then played “From Me to You” and “She Loves You”. He asked for requests and “Hey Jude” played as we cruised the beautiful lake.

 

Other familiar songs I heard were Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You” in the hotel in Lucerne and Dean Martin’s “Volare” in a home goods store in a Lucerne mall.

Duomo, Milan, Italy

Duomo, Milan, Italy

I think my very organized, energetic, and perfect for her job Hungarian tour director had an affinity for ABBA. She had the Italian tour bus driver play ABBA several times during our long bus rides through Europe. One night after having a delicious dinner near the Duomo in Milan, Italy, the bus ride to the hotel contained more ABBA songs than I have ever heard in my entire life. It was nice to hear songs of theirs which I had never heard before. They were mostly uplifting, fun songs.

 

On the last day, on the bus ride to the Milan airport, the Italian bus driver took over control of the music and had the Radio Monte Carlo station on which played “Fantasy” by George Michael, “With or Without You” by U2, and “Sowing the Seeds of Love” by Tears for Fears.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Finishing the amazing trip on a Beatles note, on the plane ride from Milan to Miami, I watched the good documentary “It Was Fifty Years Ago Today … Sgt. Peppers and Beyond”. The fact that I was flying to Miami reminded me of “Back in the USSR”. Luckily, it wasn’t a dreadful flight- just very long at 10 ½ hours!

 

After experiencing how much English was spoken throughout the seven European countries I visited and the large amount of signs written in English, I should not have been surprised to hear so many English language songs. I definitely also should not have been surprised to hear all the Beatles songs I did. Vive Les Beatles! Vive la musique!

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