Posts Tagged ‘Woodstock’

I was looking for something to play for this week’s Sunday morning music and I saw a song that I hadn’t heard in many years from an artist that I seldom even think about, Melanie. Most of you who remember Melanie most likely immediately think of a couple of her hits from the early 1970’s that were close to being novelty songs.

Most notably, there was Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma and Brand New Key. You know that last one: I’ve got a brand new pair of rollerskates/ You got a brand new key.

Pretty lightweight stuff. But she had chops, being one of only three solo women to perform at Woodstock. In fact, this song, Lay Down (Candles in the Rain), was written about her experience at that festival. It’s a song that completely fell off my radar, to the point where I had forgot that this was a Melanie song.

This is the full version with lyrics. It has a lead in that you probably never heard on AM radio back in the day. Give a listen and have a great day.


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PurpleIn the last few months we lost two of the most unique and transcendent musicians of our time, David Bowie in January and now Prince.  Luckily for us, both had long and prolific careers and left large musical legacies behind.  I admired Prince greatly and I think that is all there is to say, especially after the millions of words written and spoken over the past few days.  I don’t think I can stand to see another tweet on one of the news channels form some celebrity saying that this is how it sounds when doves cry.

So, instead of trying to dig up some Prince that you might not have heard in the last few days, I thought for this Sunday morning music I would go in another direction and play someone who was one of Prince’s early influences, Sly and the Family Stone.  It’s his performance of I Want to Take You Higher at Woodstock in 1969. I’ve played this clip here before but I am going to play it again just because I think it is a great performance and a great piece of film.  I think you can see how Prince took elements of Sly’s work and made it into something distinctly his own.  That synthesis is part of artistry.

Have a great Sunday.

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Sly Stone gifI thought I’d play some music for this Sunday music with the theme being giving thanks.  Looking around, I found there weren’t a lot of choices and none that really were explicitly about the holiday.  I guess the circumstances of the original event  didn’t lend themselves to really interesting holiday music, certainly not on the level of Christmas songs and carols.  But whenever I think of songs that mention thanks in them, even in a way that barely grazes the  idea of Thanksgiving, I always immediately come back to  the song of thanks from the magnificent funkiness that is Sly and the Family Stone.

Of course, I am talking about Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin.)   Love the wordplay.

I wrote about Sly Stone back in August on the 45th anniversary of his epic Woodstock appearance.  I mentioned then that whenever I hear something from him I find myself wondering why I am not listening to him all the time.  It seems to always perk me up, make me feel invigorated.  And this song is no different.

So, while it might not be on the playlists of any Pilgrims, here is a little Sly to kickstart your Sunday.  Have a great day and give some thanks to someone or something today.  Why wait until Thursday?

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sly-stoneIt seems hard to believe that it was 45 years ago that the legendary rock festival Woodstock was taking place.  On this date back in 1969, Sly and the Family Stone played a late night set that was one of the standouts of Woodstock,  destined to become stellar among a number of other legendary performances at the event.

Sly has become less visible in recent years and I am sure he is unknown to many in the younger generations but he and his band were huge in their time, bringing a high-powered multi-genre, multi-racial blend of funk, soul and rock music to a wider audience.  I will go for a while without hearing a Sly song and when one comes on I wonder why I am not listening to this all of the time.  It engages you with a message and some heavy rhythm.  I can imagine some young kids stumbling across his music and feeling like they’ve discovered El Dorado.  It just glows.

I thought it would be fitting to kickstart this Sunday with a little bit of that performance at Woodstock from Sly.  The Youtube video below  is the shorter version of  I Want to Take You Higher and the link below  it is the full version.  Either way, a rocking start to a Sunday morning.  Have a great day.

Sly & The Family Stone – Woodstock 1969 by docfromcpt

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Alvin-Lee-III heard last night that guitarist Alvin Lee had died, at the age of 68, on Wednesday in Spain  from surgical complications.  I am sure the name doesn’t mean much to a lot of you but to those of you who grew up in the time of Woodstock, his name brings up memories of one of the more memorable  performances from that show.  Lee was the leader of the British band Ten Years After and their frantic version of  I’m Goin’ Home  took off when the documentary and soundtrack of that festival came out soon after.  It was electrifying stuff , then and now, and was one of the definitive moments of that landmark show.  I know that it really stood out for me even with all of the the many other incredible performances.

Unfortunately, he always felt that the attention that the Woodstock performance brought forced them in a different musical direction, more pop and away from the electric blues that he so loved and which their earlier success was built.  It’s one of those instances where success is a double-edged sword.

Lee’s biggest hit here, besides the Woodstock performance, was the 1971 song I’d Love to Change the World, which hit the Top 40 here.  It has a great sound and  in many ways expresses the chaos and uncertainty that marked the late 60’s and early 70’s.  Lee’s playing on this cut is memorable.  Here it is, in memory of Alvin Lee.

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There’s a three day concert that starts today in Watkins Glen, not too far from where I live, featuring three shows from the band Phish.  They have a large and faithful following and they’re expecting around 40 -50,000  folks to hear their jams at the racetrack there.  Watkins Glen is used to serious influxes of people into their little village tucked into the glens at the base of Seneca Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes.  The track has a rich history of hosting Grand Prix and NASCAR races, with crowds often reaching 150,000.  The narrow two-laned roads leading to Watkins Glen are packed tight at these times.

But none of these crowds rivaled the one that came to the Glen back in July of 1973.   Organizers put on a concert featuring the Allman Brothers Band, the Grateful Dead and The Band and sold about 150,000 tickets.  Little did they know but 600,000 fans turned out.  All roads were impassable and people were parking on Rt. 17, around 15 miles from the track, and heading out on foot.  My brother and a friend took bikes and were able to make their way to the show on two wheels.  It was considered the largest crowd for a concert for some time.  One stat showed that one out of every 350 US citizens at the time were in attendance.

Of course, the organizers were not prepared for such a crowd, almost four times their largest estimate.  Food was scarce as were bathrooms.  There were several overdoses and a skydiver was killed when the flares he was holding set his jumpsuit ablaze as he descended.  People  were trying to recapture the magic of  Woodstock that had taken place a few years before but never quite succeeded, this show never attaining anything near that same aura of myth.

But for a couple of days, our local hills were filled with music of these three iconic bands.  Here’s a little taste of the Allman Brothers to put you in the mood of the time:

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Alvin LeeSunday morning and I’m up late.  Tired.  Not much working upstairs yet.

Since it is the 40th anniversary weekend for Woodstock I’m going to simply cruise today and show yet another clip of one of my favorite performances from that weekend back in 1969.  There were so many performances that stand out in thecollective memory that it’s hard to choose.  But this was my favorite when I was ten and I still snap to when I hear it.  It’s Goin’ Home from Alvin Lee of Ten Years After fame.  They were famous for I’d Love to Change the World, a great song that I’m still surprised to not hear as a remake, but never had the huge fame of many of the other acts from that show.

But on that August night they played this they really lit up the night…

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woodstock  It’s been forty years.


Saying the word Woodstock only means one thing to most people.  Three days in August that came to be a symbol of an era.

I can only imagine what an 18 year old kid today thinks when he hears the word Woodstock.  For today’s youth hearing someone talk about being at Woodstock would be like a kid in 1969 hearing their grandparents talk about something that happened in 1929.  It would seem like ancient history.

But Woodstock still has mythic appeal.  The musicians and performances were legendary, many like Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner becoming cultural touchstones.  The sensation it caused in the media and throughout the country was huge and subsequent festivals to this day aspire for the effect that Woodstock produced, always coming up short.

I was too young for Woodstock, being only ten at the time.  But I remember the weekend and the news reports of the thruway being closed.  It really struck later when the film came out and for Christmas my brother got a new 8-track player (cutting edge at the time!) with the Woodstock soundtrack.  Christmas day was filled with Country Joe screaming  Give me an F! and my mother yelling at my brother to turn it off.  I must’ve listened to those big, clunky tapes a thousand times.

I don’t think they’ll ever replicate the way everything seemed to come together at Woodstock.  It’s almost like a piece of art in its entirety.  It could only be produced by that perfect blend of participants and the perfect moment.  A synchronicity of time and events.

It’s easy to make too much of something like Woodstock but for today I’ll just think about how the music from those three days still reverberate today.

It was hard to pick out something, one performance, that could singularly define this event .  There were so many.  So I went with this because every time I hear it vivid memories of those times pop up for me.  Here the aforementioned Country Joe McDonald singing his I Feel Like I’m Fixing to Die Rag.

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HarlequinIt’s Saturday morning and it’s time for something different.

This is a video from 1966 by the Vogues performing (well, kind of) on the TV show Hullabaloo.  It was an interesting time in popular music.  It was at the cusp, before the explosion of pyschedelia, before Woodstock, before the anger of the late 60’s.  The British Invasion was still in full swing and the Beatles were working on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band , the album which would spark  the coming change.

But here are the Vogues, sporting the clean cut look of the early 60’s and  matching cardigan sweaters.  This is really a pretty good video for the time.  Maybe it’s because it’s such a great song.  Anyway this is Five O’Clock World

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