RIP Nick Ashford and Jerry Leiber

Posted in Youtube Favs on August 24th, 2011 by Willie

Two songwriting icons passed away yesterday, and ironically, both were halves of legendary songwriting teams.  Nick Ashford, legendary Motown songwriter, who was paired with his wife Valerie Simpson, died at 70 in Manhattan.  Jerry Leiber, partnered with Mike Stoller, co-wrote some of Elvis Presley’s greatest hits, died at 78 in Los Angeles.  Among Ashford’s greatest hits were “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” displaying his mastery of the word “ain’t.”  Leiber and Stoller churned out “Hound Dog,” “Yakety Yak,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and “Stand By Me.” Both Ashford and Leiber were beloved geniuses of their craft and produced songs that are etched like concrete in the public’s minds.  It’s a sad day, but on the sunny side, the great  thing about dying a master songwriter is that your music truly lives on, leaving the perfect memorial.  My little memorial comes in the form of Ben E. King’s rendition of “Stand By Me,” and Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s version of “Aint No Mountain High Enough.”  Oh, and just a reminder, click here and you can vote for me every day for CBS’s Most Valuable Blogger where I am a finalist!  Thanks!

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The Everly Brothers and John Lennon, All I Have to Do Is Dream, Cathy's Clown

Posted in John Lennon, The Everly Brothers, Youtube Favs on July 24th, 2011 by Willie

Dreams are mysterious and crazy things.  Sometimes you’ll have a dream and have no idea of what to make of it.  Songs simply about dreams, even sort of romantic cliched ones, are sometimes enough just to trigger those feelings of the novel, the unexplained, and the otherworldly.  Such is the case with the 1958 Felice and Boudleaux Bryant penned classic, “All I Have to Do Is Dream” performed by the Everly Brothers and Chet Atkins, (on guitar.)  Don and Phil Everly, are still out there today, singing their unique brand of 50s dream rock, living legends found unstoppable by age or changing trends.  The song is an intoxicating whirlpool of perfect close vocal harmonies, and proto-psychedelic lyrics about love and dreaming.  In the performance below you also get “Cathy’s Clown,” their gorgeous 1960 hit that really ensnared John Lennon of Beatle fame in its beautiful structure.  Speaking of the Beatles, the Everlys were always listed as a MASSIVE influence on John and Paul, and all you gotta do is see the video below to guess why.  Two boys singing pop with flawless harmony as if it was second nature.  The Beatles just took that as a device and added it to their already killer repertoire of songwriting and performing mastery.  As a bonus, I’ve included a demo by John in the 70s of him trying out his own version of “Cathy’s Clown.”  It’s brilliant and sad.  Enjoy.

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