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Archive for the tag “Michael Jackson”

30 Years Later Quirky T Revisits “We Are the World”

We are the World Album cover

Thirty years ago on January 28, 1985 a large group of musical superstars came together to record the charity single “We Are the World”. The song was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones. They were following the lead of Bob Geldof who gathered superstar musicians in the United Kingdom in 1984 to record the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas” to raise money to help relieve famine in Africa. “We Are the World” raised over $60 million for the charity. It also won four Grammy Awards including Song of the Year and Record of the Year.

Looking back at the artists who participated in “We Are the World”, it was quite an exceptional group. The stars of the 80’s are well represented and joined by legends such as Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder. Maybe because Quincy Jones was producing this there was more diversity than would later perform at Live Aid. The only big stars from 1985 who were missing were Madonna, Whitney Houston, and Prince.

cu We are the World album cover

In researching this Guitar Train stop, I came upon various reasons why Prince did not participate. Regardless of what the real reason is, I am very happy with his replacement – Huey Lewis. Huey alone, without the News, sang the bridge part after Michael Jackson and before Cyndi Lauper and Kim Carnes. Kim Carnes was the only singer I did not recognize when I watched the DVD “The Story Behind the Song: 20th Anniversary Special”. For the music video, the artists lined up in a U-shape in the order they sang their lines. So Huey was positioned between Michael Jackson, in full King of Pop regalia, and Cyndi Lauper, wearing an abundance of jewelry. Had Prince been there instead, it would have been an 80’s overload of hair, jewelry, and brocade. Huey brought it down to earth and sang a line (which I can’t write here because of copyright issues) that I could imagine being in one of his songs. Cyndi then does her vocal thing, Kim Carnes adds her two words, and then Huey rejoins them. I think it’s cool that Huey was part of this momentous gathering. Incidentally, the News joined him later to sing in the chorus which also contained many famous musicians including another favorite of mine, The Pointer Sisters. It was nice to see other regular guys such as Billy Joel (whose line to me seems to be right from a Beatles song) and Bruce Springsteen.

In 2010, another group of musicians remade “We Are the World” to benefit Haiti which had experienced a devastating earthquake. I had heard about the remake at the time but I never bothered to listen to it because the only people I had been told were in it were Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. I had no interest in listening to them along with a bunch of current musicians whom I wouldn’t know. When researching this Guitar Train stop, I decided to listen to the updated version. I was pleasantly surprised by the other big name (and talented) musicians who were involved such as Wyclef Jean, Jennifer Hudson, Barbra Streisand, and Tony Bennett. Interesting note – Usher sang Huey Lewis’ line in the remake.

We are the World back cover

Back to 1985, the “We Are the World” single was part of an album of the same name which contains songs by artists from the single as well as Prince and Chicago. Huey Lewis and the News contributed the song “Trouble in Paradise”. The album also contains a group of Canadian artists recording a song called “Tears are Not Enough” under the name Northern Lights.

 

To read more about the epic recording of the song “We Are the World”, check out this great article on the “Rolling Stone” website called “’We Are the World: A Minute-by-Minute Breakdown’ on Its 30th Anniversary”. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/we-are-the-world-a-minute-by-minute-breakdown-30th-anniversary-20150306  Also check out the website http://www.usaforafrica.org for much information about the song and other charities.

 

Guitar Train passengers, what did you think about “We Are the World” at the time and what do you think about it now, looking back 30 years later?

 

The Guitar Train is still in 1985 as the next stop takes us to another epic charity event from that year – Live Aid. So hop back aboard The Guitar Train to see this concert from the skewed point of view of my favorite musicians.

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It Really Is His Birthday, Too, Yeah!

The Art of McCartney

Today is Paul McCartney’s birthday so to celebrate Quirky T listened to the two CD tribute to him called “The Art of McCartney”. I was surprised in November 2014 when I saw a side of a building advertisement in New York City for this CD set of cover songs. I had never heard of this project but being a Paul McCartney fan, I had to listen to it. I don’t like cover versions of my favorite musicians but I was pleasantly satisfied by this collection. The songs are a mixture of Beatles’ songs (17), Wings’ songs (14), and solo songs (11). Obviously, I knew all The Beatles’ songs but I wasn’t familiar with 10 of the post Beatles’ songs.  I also wasn’t familiar with all the artists on the CDs which are advertised as “The Songs of Paul McCartney Sung by the World’s Greatest Artists”. I think this is a bit of hyperbole since if they are all that great, I would have known all of them. I didn’t know 13 of the 38 artists/bands. That’s almost one third! The majority of the artists and bands where popular in the 1970’s which makes sense since most of the Paul McCartney songs are from that time.

 

I tended to really like the songs that sounded the most similar to Paul McCartney such as:

  1. “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “Live and Let Die” sung by Billy Joel

2.   “Junk” sung by Jeff Lynne

3.    “Jet” sung by Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick

4.     “Eleanor Rigby” sung by Alice Cooper

 

I also liked these versions of Paul McCartney songs:

  1. “Band on the Run” sung by Heart
  2. “Junior’s Farm” sung by Steve Miller
  3. “My Love” sung by Harry Connick, Jr.
  4. “Let Me Roll It” sung by Paul Rodgers
  5. “Helter Skelter” sung by Roger Daltrey
  6. “Helen Wheels” sung by Def Leppard

 

In keeping with the nice, non-bashing tone of The Guitar Train, I won’t write about which artists’ renditions I did not like except to mention that I think their distinctive voices killed the great (Beatles) songs they sang.

 

Interestingly, Paul McCartney’s son, James, appears on this tribute playing piano with the band, The Cure. They did a nice version of one of my favorite Beatles’ songs, “Hello Goodbye”.

I also found it interesting that one of the songs covered, “Come and Get It” while written by Paul is more associated with the band who recorded it, Badfinger. I thought the solo song “So Bad” sounded like a Michael Jackson song which is interesting since it appears on Paul McCartney’s 1983 album “Pipes of Peace” which also includes two duets with Michael Jackson – “Say Say Say” and “The Man”.

 

Overall, I enjoyed these tribute CDs. The songs showed the diversity and range of Paul McCartney’s music from “When I’m 64” to “Venus and Mars/Rock Show”. The fact that a variety of artists from different genres of music were needed to do the covers illustrates the diversity of Paul’s songs. It really made me appreciate the musical genius of Paul McCartney and made me seek out the original versions of the Wings and solo songs that I was not familiar with before. For more information on this CD set, check out the website – http://www.theartofmccartney.com/artists

 

Guitar Train passengers, which Paul McCartney songs would you like to hear covered by which artists?

MTV, VH1, and Quirky T

This month the Guitar Train is making several stops for Music Video Month.  Quirky T missed the beginning of MTV because she didn’t have cable television until 1990, nine years after the debut of the music video channel.  So every time I was at a friend or relative’s house who had MTV, I had to watch it.  Of course the must see video was Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.  Having watched it recently for a post I wrote about Halloween, https://guitartrain.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/the-guitar-train-celebrates-halloween/  it still holds up as an amazing video.

Besides the few videos I saw at other people’s houses, my only other music video viewing was NBC’s “Friday Night Videos” which aired late Friday night into Saturday morning.  By the time I got cable TV in 1990, I had moved on from the more harder edged MTV to the more pop orientated VH1.  The minute the cable was installed (after a half day of being on hold on the telephone with the cable company), I pretty much watched VH1 non-stop.  My favorite shows were the weekly countdown show, “Top 21 Video Countdown” and “My Generation” hosted by Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits.

Much has been written and lamented about how MTV no longer airs music videos.  The same is true for VH1.  The only show I now watch on MTV is the excellent reality show, “Catfish: The TV Show”. http://www.mtv.com/shows/catfish/  It is based on the movie “Catfish” about people misrepresenting themselves online.  I like how the show is done in such a way that it is empathetic to everyone involved.  The show does contain background music with the song title and artist listed on screen to maybe justify in some way why it is airing on a music TV channel.

Since I missed the early days of MTV, I recently read the book “VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s First Wave”.  The book is an interesting inside account of the beginning of MTV to its status as a cultural phenomenon.  Reading the book made me wish that in addition to MTV’s many channels, there was an MTV Throwback channel which re-aired the first videos complete with the VJs’ comments as if it was all happening for the first time.  If it wasn’t for You Tube, these videos would be lost completely.  What a better way to showcase these videos and allow the artists to get royalties than to legally air them on a MTV Throwback channel?  I would definitely watch this channel.

Guitar Train passengers, would you watch a MTV Throwback channel?  Or is it just easier for you to watch You Tube?

The Guitar Train Celebrates Halloween

New York Giants Mini Snickers bars

New York Giants Mini Snickers bars

Since today is Halloween, the Guitar Train is taking a slight detour from Happy Month to celebrate Halloween. Unfortunately, for the past two years in New Jersey and other states along the East Coast, Halloween has either been postponed or cancelled completely because of hurricanes and the resulting damages and power outages. I feel bad for kids who didn’t get to experience all the fun of Halloween.

Snickers bars

Snickers bars

Dressing up in cool costumes and free candy, what a great holiday! When you step back to think about it, it is very odd that for this one day, you can go to any house, ring the doorbell, and expect to get candy. As a kid, my friends and I always remembered which houses handed out the best treats. The most sought after treats were full size chocolate bars like Snickers and packages of three large chocolate chip cookies from the local cookie factory.

Cadbury Screme Egg

Cadbury Screme Egg

Today, the amount and variety of Halloween candy and chocolate available to purchase is overwhelming. Every candy has been Halloweenized, even Quirky T’s favorite Cadbury Crème Eggs as Cadbury Scrème Eggs with bright green filling. One trend I don’t like is the downsizing of chocolate bars to bite size. Who needs to unwrap four individually wrapped Snickers to make one whole bar? Obviously, I don’t know what moderation means in relation to chocolate.

Genesis tape cover with tape

Thriller tape cover

Phantom of the Opera tape cover

To get on a musical track, here are some songs that set me in the mood for Halloween.
1. “Home By the Sea” – Genesis
2. “Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr.
3. “Thriller” – Michael Jackson  

4. “Music of the Night” – The Phantom of the Opera http://youtu.be/77umP7IRxD4

 
Guitar Train Passengers, what songs put you in the mood for Halloween? What was your favorite Halloween treat to receive as a child?

 
Next month, hop aboard the Guitar Train as Quirky T stops for Gratitude Month.

Quirky T’s Favorite 80’s Artists

In continuing Guitar Train’s Happy Month in October, this stop offers a quick peek at an era of music that makes Quirky T happy – the 80’s. This is the music I grew up listening to and the music I still listen to. It’s interesting how songs I didn’t really like in the 80’s sound good to me when I hear them now. On one track, it could be nostalgia factor. On another track, it could be that in comparison to some of the music that came after, those 80’s songs weren’t bad.

 

Five Favorite 80's Artists
In addition to my favorites Phil Collins and Huey Lewis and the News, these are my top five favorite 80’s artists:

 
1. The Pointer Sisters
2. Michael Jackson
3. Tears for Fears
4. Wham!
5. Cyndi Lauper

 
All these artists had good songs which make me happy when I hear them. I’ll be looking at them more in depth when the Guitar Train stops for a month long 80’s Month.

 
Guitar Train passengers, who are your favorite 80’s artists? Do you still listen to their music today?

Happy Month on the Guitar Train

October is Happy Month on the Guitar Train because October makes Quirky T happy. I love October with football, fabulous food, and fabulous weather. I love the cooler temperatures of fall, my favorite season, as well as its blue skies and colorful leaves.

New York Giants Super Bowl XLVI Champions

New York Giants Super Bowl XLVI Champions

Being a huge New York Giants fan, I’m excited about NFL football in October. Unlike past seasons at this point, the Giants games so far have not made me happy.

 

 

New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte signed photo

New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte signed photo

October usually means New York Yankees playoff baseball. Unfortunately, there won’t be any postseason games for the Yankees after an incredibly injury-filled, tough season. As a long time fan, it was one of the hardest seasons to watch. Too bad Mariano Rivera, baseball’s all time greatest closer, and the great pitcher, Andy Pettitte, couldn’t end their amazing careers with another World Series win.

 

 

corn maze -overheadinside corn maze
My other favorite October activities are apple picking, navigating corn mazes, and exploring haunted houses. I love eating fresh Macintosh apples, apple crumble, and hearty stews in the fall.

 

 
Music, as always, is something that makes me happy. Two artists whose songs particularly make me happy are Lou Monte and Weird Al Yankovic.

 

 

Loe Monte CD cover
Lou Monte is an Italian American singer from the 1950’s. He sang novelty songs in both English and Italian. His songs are fun and unique. His most popular songs are “Dominick the Donkey (The Italian Christmas Donkey”) and “Lazy Mary (Luna Mezza Mare)”. My favorite Lou Monte songs are “Lazy Mary”, “Calypso Italiano”, and “Mama Get the Hammer (There’s a Fly on Papa’s Head)”. All these songs are on the CD, “The Very Best of Lou Monte”. His music just makes me happy with its fun scenarios and sometimes silliness.

 

 
Weird Al has built a whole career on making people laugh. His parodies of popular songs are hysterical and genius. I really admire his genius in parodying songs of many different musical genres in a way that is mostly non-offensive to the original artist.

 
I just recently heard Weird Al’s parody of Huey Lewis and the News’ “I Want a New Drug” called “I Want a New Duck”. I loved it, very funny. My other favorite Weird Al songs are

 
1. “Eat It” – a parody of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” http://youtu.be/ZcJjMnHoIBI
2. “Another One Rides the Bus” – a parody of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust”
3. “Bob” – a spot on parody of Bob Dylan which illustrates many things that annoy me about him  http://youtu.be/JUQDzj6R3p4
4. “Dog Eat Dog” – a parody of the Talking Heads’ musical style

 
For a good sampling of Weird Al’s parodies and original songs, I recommend the two CD set, “The Essential Weird Al Yankovic.”

 

 
Guitar Train passengers, is there any music you listen to that makes you (intentionally) laugh?

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