We have the convergence of Saturday, when I generally write about music, and March 7, which is my birthday. Save for the obvious, there is isn’t much I play every year.
Now there WAS a song I played on March 8, a lot. Have a Good Time from my favorite Paul Simon album.
Yesterday it was my birthday
I hung one more year on the line
I should be depressed
My life’s a mess
But I’m having a good time
I’ve been trying to remember what music I have received on my birthday. A couple years back, I received an album of Odetta singing Bob Dylan. A couple of those tracks appear here.
There was an album I got on my 16th birthday called Who Knows Where the Time Goes by Judy Collins. I wrote about it back in 2008, but somehow all the YouTube links got mucked up. So here it is again.
I was thinking about a particular song from the album, The Story of Isaac, written by Leonard Cohen. It’s because my Bible guys have been rereading the book of Genesis. Specifically Genesis 22, when Abraham is tested by God.
In 1977, I was in Charlotte, NC, crashing on my parents’ sofa. What I wanted for my birthday was the album Scheherazade & Other Stories by Renaissance. I played it. Don’t think my family appreciated as much as I did. So it goes.
Anyway, 67 suggests sixes and sevens. Chaos. Or at least that’s how I’ll remember how old I am.
I’ve come up to the prompt, “A song by an artist whose voice you love.” This is intriguing.
What makes the human singing voice appealing? There are plenty of vocals by artists whose sounds are not “pretty,” yet I like to hear them sing. Bob Dylan falls into that category.
Somewhere – Tom Waits. I heard this song for the first time near the end of the 1997 movie Afterglow with Julie Christie and Nick Nolte. I saw it on the February 2018 holiday weekend. In the context of the movie, I wept. Lay Down (Candles in the Rain) – Melanie with the Edwin Hawkins Singers. I think it’s the juxtaposition of her rough sound with the majesty of the choir.
I had an office mate some years back, and there were only two artists she wouldn’t allow me to play because she absolutely HATED their voices. Naturally, I need to link to them here:
I’m leaving off the Beatles and Motown and the Beach Boys…
The first songs I thought of, though, were these:
Stand by Me – Ben E. King, a great song written by him, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Maybe – Alison Krauss. I’m a sucker for the harmony vocals. Dimming of the Day – Bonnie Raitt. There are LOTS of versions of this song, and I love most of them. A Case of You – Joni Mitchell. From the great Blue album. A Ballata Of Francesco Landini (ca. 1335-1397) Lasso! Di Donna – Judy Collins. When I think of my favorite Judy Collins album, it bounces between Wildflowers, from which this song comes, and Who Knows Where the Time Goes Rolling in the Deep – Adele. I’m old; she the only artist whose first release was in the 21st century whose whole body of work (that’s more than one album) I own.
Scaramouche – an unscrupulous and unreliable servant. His affinity for intrigue often landed him in difficult situations, yet he always managed to extricate himself, usually leaving an innocent bystander as his victim. Also – He was often beaten by Harlequin for his boasting and cowardice; The Mooch did his homework
Dancing Queen – ABBA. The Wife and I saw Mamma Mia at Capital Rep this month and liked it WAY more than the Times Union reviewer. And QE2 allegedly said, “I always try to dance when this song comes on because I am the queen, and I like to dance.”
It has been stated by some that folk singer Judy Collins “discovered” Leonard Cohen because she was the first major artist to cover his tunes, starting with her sixth Elektra album, 1967’s In My Life, with Suzanne and Dress Rehearsal Rag.
She, however, would hastily disagree. On the liner notes of her tribute album to him, 2004’s Democracy Now, she writes: “what is more true is that he discovered me, and in that first year after our meeting, he told me I should be writing songs.” Subsequently, she did. They displayed a creative synergy, with her pushing him to perform, initially, at a WBAI (NYC) public radio fundraiser, quite literally. In return, she said, “I trusted Leonard more than anyone I had known…at times, more than myself.”
All these songs were sung by Judy Collins on Democracy Now:
Most of the songs on Democracy Now were previously recorded by Judy, but there were three songs newly recorded by her, all written by Cohen, except the Song of Bernadette, co-written with William Elliot and Jennifer Warnes.
And speaking of Warnes, who was a backup singer for Leonard Cohen in the 1970s, she also did a tribute album called Famous Blue Raincoat back in 1986, reissued with additional songs in 2007. Among the tunes, Song of Bernadette, Bird on the Wire, and
Of course, no Leonard Cohen discussion would be complete without the oft-covered Hallelujah. I opted for the version by fellow Canadian k.d. lang, which she initially recorded for an album of tunes by Canadian songwriters, 2004’s Hymns of the 49th Parallel, and performed at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC, CANADA.