Saturday, August 29, 2009

Jason Mraz spends record-setting 70th week on Hot 100 with “I’m Yours”

Updated 1/18/2019.

image from

I’m Yours

Jason Mraz

Writer(s): Jason Mraz (see lyrics here)

Released: 2/12/2008

First Charted: 3/15/2008

Peak: 6 US, 116 AC, 11 AAA, 11 UK, 3 CN, 3 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales *: 9.0 US, 0.7 UK, 12.2 world (includes US + UK)

Radio Airplay *: 0.8

Video Airplay *: 443.7

Streaming *: 200.0

* in millions


“I’m Yours” not only took a few years to get released, but set chart longevity records once it did come out as a single. The song initially turned up as a demo on Mraz’ 2005 EP Extra Credit before launching his third album, We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things in 2008. WK

Once it was released as a single in February 2008, it wouldn’t go away. While it never achieved #1 status on the Billboard Hot 100 (it peaked at 36), it spent a whopping 76 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, breaking the previous record of 69 weeks, which had been held for a decade by LeAnn Rimes’ “How Do I Live.” It has since been passed by Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” (87 weeks) and AWOL Nation’s “Sail” (79 weeks). WK Interestingly, none of the songs hit #1 on the Hot 100.

The song met a similar fate in the U.K. where it logged 84 weeks on the top 100 chart, a record for a song which never hit the top ten. WK It did top the charts in Sweden and Norway and was a top ten in Austria, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland. WK Its longevity and broad appeal did also land it atop a couple of other U.S. charts – it hit #1 on the Mainstream Top 40 and adult contemporary charts ten and twelve months after its release respectively. WK The song went on to be one of the ten best-selling digital songs of all-time in the U.S. WK and was nominated for a Grammy for Song of the Year as well as Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

Mraz has said the song “came out of joy” and is about “generosity,” “giving into love and life’s possibilities,” and that “it can be a love song or a personal song of empowerment.” SF He had low expectations for what he called his “happy little hippie song,” SF but has speculated that maybe its longevity was because the song borrowed from multiple genres. Metromix Atlanta described it as “the best Jack Johnson song of the decade” that came not from Johnson, but “a scat-singing, fedora-clad dude from Mechanicsville, Virginia.” MX

Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Woodstock: 40th Anniversary

Originally posted August 29, 2009. Last updated March 2, 2019.


various artists

Recorded: August 15-18, 1969 (all of below as well)

Released: June 6, 1970

Peak: #14 US

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US

Genre: classic rock (all of below as well)

Released:April 10, 1971

Peak: #7 US

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US

Released: June 21, 1994

Peak: --

Sales (in millions): 0.1 US

Released: August 27, 1994

Peak: #186 US

Sales (in millions): --

Released: August 30, 1994

Peak: --

Sales (in millions): 0.025 US

Released: August 18, 2009

Peak: --

Sales (in millions): --


* The list below reflects, in order of performance, what has been commercially released on any of collections referenced on this page. For track listings of each of those collections individually, check the links under “Review Source(s).”

Day 1:

  • Set 1: RICHIE HAVENS: Choppity Choppity [John Morris stage announcement] W40, I Can’t Make It Anymore WD, Handsome Johnny W25, W40, Freedom (Motherless Child) W1, WB, W25, W40
  • Set 2: SWEETWATER: Look Out W40, Two Worlds W40
  • Set 3: BERT SOMMER: Jennifer W40, And When It’s Over W40, Smile W40
  • There Goes Marilyn! [John Morris] W40
  • Set 4: TIM HARDIN: Hang on to a Dream W40, If I Were a Carpenter W25, WD, Simple Song of Freedom W40
  • Flat Blue Acid [John Morris] W40
  • Set 5: RAVI SHANKAR: Raga Puriya-Dhanashri/ Gat in Sawarital W40
  • Set 6: MELANIE: Momma Momma W40, Beautiful People W2, W25, W40, Birthday of the Sun W2, W40
  • Set 7: ARLO GUTHRIE: Coming into Los Angeles W1, W25, W40, Wheel of Fortune W40, Walkin’ Down the Line W25, Every Hand in the Land W40
  • All You Funny People [John Morris] W40
  • Set 8: JOAN BAEZ: Joe Hill W1, WB, W25, W40, Sweet Sir Galahad W2, W25, W40, Hickory Wind W40, Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man [with Jeffrey Shurtleff] W1, W25, W40
  • Bring Scully His Asthma Pills [John Morris stage announcement] W40
  • Insulin/ Quill Intro [John Morris stage announcement] W40

Day 2:

  • Set 1: QUILL: They Live the Life W40, That's How I Eat W40
  • I Understand Your Wife Is Having a Baby [Chip Monck] W40
  • Set 2: COUNTRY JOE McDONALD: Donovan's Reef W40, The "Fish" Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag W1, WB, W25, W40
  • Set 3: SANTANA: Persuasion W40, Soul Sacrifice W1, WB, W25, W40
  • Set 4: JOHN SEBASTIAN: How Have You Been W40, Rainbows All Over Your Blues W1, W25, W40, I Had a Dream W1, WB, W25, W40
  • Set 5: KEEF HARTLEY BAND: --
  • Set 6: THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND: The Letter W40, When You Find Out Who You Are W40
  • She Is Lost [Chip Monck] W40
  • We're in Pretty Good Shape [Chip Monck stage announcement] W40
  • Set 7: CANNED HEAT: Going Up the Country W1, WB, W25, W40, Leaving This Town W25, Woodstock Boogie W2, W40
  • The Brown Acid Is Not Specifically Too Good [Chip Monck stage announcement] W1, W40
  • Set 8: MOUNTAIN: Blood of the Sun W2, W25, W40, Theme for an Imaginary Western W2, W25, W40, For Yasgur's Farm W40, Southbound Train WD
  • For Those of You Who Have Partaken of the Green Acid... [Chip Monck] W40
  • Green Acid Advice [Country Joe McDonald] W40
  • Set 9: GRATEFUL DEAD: Dark Star W40
  • Set 10: CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL: Green River W25, W40, Ninety-Nine and a Half Won’t Do W25, Commotion W25, Bad Moon Rising W40, I Put a Spell on You W25, W40
  • Set 11: JANIS JOPLIN: Try (Just a Little Bit Harder) W25, WD, Work Me, Lord W25, W40, Ball and Chain W25, WD, W40
  • Set 12: SLY & THE FAMILY STONE: Medley: Dance to the Music/Music Lover/I Want to Take You Higher W1, W25, W40, Love City WD
  • The Politics of the Situation [Abbie Hoffman] W40
  • Set 13: THE WHO: Amazing Journey W40, Pinball Wizard W40, Abbie Hoffman vs. Pete Townshend W40, We're Not Gonna Take It W1, WB, W25, W40
  • Set 14: JEFFERSON AIRPLANE: The Other Side of This Life W40, Volunteers W1, WB, W25, W40, Saturday Afternoon/Won’t You Try W2, W25, W40, We Got a Whole Lot of Orange [Grace Slick stage announcement] W40, Eskimo Blue Day W2, Uncle Sam’s Blues W25, Somebody to Love W25, WD, W40, White Rabbit W25, WD

  • Breakfast in Bed for 400,000 [Wavy Gravy] W1, W40
  • It Just Keeps Goin’ [John Morris] W40
  • Max Yasgur Speaks [Max Yasgur] W40

Day 3:

  • Set 1: JOE COCKER/ THE GREASE BAND: Feelin' Alright W40, Let's Go Get Stoned W25, WD, W40, I Shall Be Released WD, With a Little Help from My Friends W1, WB, W25, W40
  • The Rainstorm W40
  • Let the Sunshine In [AUDIENCE] W2
  • Set 2: COUNTRY JOE McDONALD & THE FISH: Rock & Soul Music W1, W25, W40, Thing Called Love W40, Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine W40, Summer Dresses W40, Silver and Gold W40, Rock & Soul Music (Reprise) W40
  • Set 3: TEN YEARS AFTER: I’m Goin’ Home W1, WB, W25
  • Set 4: THE BAND: Long Black Veil W25, The Weight W25, WD, Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever W25
  • Set 5: JOHNNY WINTER: Leland Mississippi Blues W40, Mean Town Blues W25, WD, W40
  • Set 6: BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS: You've Made Me So Very Happy W40
  • Set 7: CROSBY, STILLS & NASH/YOUNG: Suite: Judy Blue Eyes W1, W25, W40, Blackbird WD, Guinnevere W2, W25, W40, Marrakesh Express W2, W25, W40, 4 + 20 W2, W25, W40, Sea of Madness W1, W25, W40, Wooden Ships W1, WB, W40, Find the Cost of Freedom W25

Day 4:

  • Set 1: PAUL BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND: No Amount of Loving W40, Love March W1, W25, W40, Everything’s Gonna Be Alright W2, W40
  • Set 2: SHA NA NA: Get a Job W40, At the Hop W1, W25, W40, Get a Job (Reprise) W40
  • Set 3: JIMI HENDRIX: Get My Heart Back Together W2, Jam Back at the House (aka “Beginnings”) W2, Izabella W2, Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)/ Stepping Stone W25, WD, The Star Spangled Banner/ Purple Haze/ Woodstock Improvisation W1, WB, W25, W40
  • Woodstock Farewell [Chip Monck] W40


This page highlights only the most significant various artists collections out of a myriad of official and bootleg albums that have covered much of the music featured at the August 15-18, 1969 events at Yasgur’s field. The 1970 Woodstock Soundtrack is the highest ranked of the batch in the Dave’s Music Database. The best way to get this version is the 2009 Rhino remaster, “but even it has problems: the source tapes were problematic at best. It restores the original LP order, features new liners by Gene Sculatti, and has more photos in the booklet.” J1

There’s also the 1971 sequel, Woodstock 2, which was combined with the original Woodstock soundtrack on the Mobile Fidelity triple-CD version. BE

In 1994, a 25th anniversary, four-disc box set was released and then in 2009 another box set, Woodstock: 40 Years On – Back to Yasgur’s Farm, celebrated the 40th anniversary by expanding to six discs. This is the best place to go for the most complete view of Woodstock.

Check out Wikia Entertainment for the full schedule and setlists of each performer. is a great resource for tracking down all the commercially and bootlegged Woodstock material.

Here’s the highlights of each set.

Woodstock Soundtrack:
“It’s almost impossible to regard the soundtrack albums for the Michael Wadleigh documentary Woodstock, simply as music, apart from the event that inspired them or what that event has come to represent. Music from the Original Soundtrack and More: Woodstock was originally released by Atlantic’s Cotillion imprint as a three-LP set in a gatefold sleeve” J1. It “was really rock’s first ‘coffee table’ album. Bought by millions but not really listened to that often, it’s amid a flood of wrong notes and the inherent flaws in recording live in front of hundreds of thousands of people in a temporary, makeshift venue. It was more satisfying for journalists and scholars than for ordinary listeners, what with its artists represented by one or two tracks and no more than 15 minutes of music by any single performer. But it did sell in the millions (and yielded a follow-up, Woodstock 2), fueled by the mystique surrounding the event and the release of the accompanying movie, and at times it did have a certain amount of energy to help drive it.” BE

“There were some telling moments: the second-ever public appearance by Crosby, Stills & Nash, not in great voice but surprisingly adequate given that they were trying to harmonize in front of 250,000 people, and the introduction of Neil Young as the fourth member of the group; Joan Baez, at her most politically defiant and at the height of her reach with younger audiences, doing what is probably the definitive version of Gram Parsons’ Drugstore Truck Driving Man; Canned Heat near the end of the road for its classic lineup; Joe Cocker on his way up the superstar ladder; Jefferson Airplane near the end of its classic era; and Jimi Hendrix in one of his biographically (if not musically) transcendant public appearances.” BE

“Musically, the second disc sounds the least dated with its over the top performances by a shockingly great Santana with Soul Sacrifice, Ten Years After’s guitar workout on I’m Goin’ Home, Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner medley (still a stunner after all these decades); the Jefferson Airplane’s rocking and raucous version of Volunteers, and the orgiastic Sly & the Family Stone medley that includes Dance to the Music, Music Lover, and an insanely great I Want to Take You Higher. There is some filler as well thanks to a drippy John Sebastian track called Rainbows All Over Your Blues, and an indulgent Love March by an out-of-their-prime Butterfield Blues Band.” J1

“Disc one is more complex. There are some fine moments here, especially the CS&N and CSN&Y tunes, including Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (perhaps not perfect in voice but a very inspired performance), and Wooden Ships, with a decent if not thrilling Sea of Madness, in between. There is a desultory We’re Not Gonna Take It from the Who that is out of context, given they performed the entirety of Tommy. While Canned Heat’s Goin’ Up the Country has aged well, Country Joe & the Fish’s The ‘Fish’ Cheer/ I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag has not, nor has Joan Baez’s performance of ‘Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man.’ Her version of Joe Hill is generic.” J1 “Richie Havens’ Freedom (which is really a rewrite of ‘Motherless Child’)” BE “is still thrilling, especially since it is preceded by Sebastian opening the entire set up with another duller-than-dull I Had a Dream.” J1

“Freedom” and “Arlo Guthrie’s Comin’ into Los Angeles give listeners about the same level of intimacy on their acoustic guitars. And listening to CSNY’s Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, while it might not be the group’s best harmonizing or tightest performance, Stephen Stills does one hell of a great job and offers a sample of what he’d deliver on his stunning first solo album a little down the road.” BE

The most out of place thing here is Sha Na Na’s At the Hop, which sounds surreal but ragged and right, and Joe Cocker’s With a Little Help from My Friends, that closes disc one; it’s electrifying if rather out of tune.” J1

“The original, domestic triple-LP vinyl version had notoriously noisy pressings, and the original master suffered from all of the sound leakages and other defects inherent in recording live in the open air in front of several hundred thousand people.” BE The album, and its sequel, also “took the music out of the historical sequence of the festival and re-ordered (and edited) it for a sense of flow. Whether or not it accomplished its objective has been the subject of much debate…What is relevant is that these performances signified via their spotty recording quality – and sometimes dodgy performances – that there was an amazing array of legendary talent on hand at Woodstock; though not all of it is captured here.” J1

“So as it stands, Woodstock is a wildly mixed bag, and not particularly pleasant to listen to, but it does indeed have a significant place in the rock pantheon and should be regarded more as an artifact than as an album in its own right.” J1

Woodstock Two:
The original 1970 soundtrack “sold so well that Cotillion issued a sequel double album of more music from the festival that never appeared in the film.” J1 “This set featured many of the same artists who’d appeared on the first volume, with two additions: Mountain and Melanie. If anything, this set, more concise and more focused, is a better bet than its predecessor. Disc one is a stunner on more than one level. First, there are three tracks by Jimi Hendrix and his expanded lineup after breaking up the Experience (adding guitarist Larry Lee), and a trio of percussionists along with Mitch Mitchell and bassist Billy Cox. There’s the killer Jam Back at the House, which rolls in riffs and an instrumental array of tunes from his catalog including ‘Rainy Day Dream Away’; there’s a killer take on Izabella that’s raggedy but full of killer improvisation – check the interaction between Cox and Mitchell – and Get My Heart Back Together, also known as ‘Hear My Train A’ Comin’.’ These 20 minutes of music make it worth the purchase of this collection if you don’t already possess the Jimi Hendrix Live at Woodstock disc.” J2

“Jefferson Airplane is also here with an extra 12 minutes of music. Judging by this contribution and the inclusion of ‘Volunteers,’ on volume 1, this ranks as one of their greatest live sets ever issued. They begin Saturday Afternoon/ Won’t You Try with a medley of tunes from After Bathing at Baxter’s, issued early on in their career. The vocal performances by Marty Balin, Grace Slick, and Paul Kantner are simply stellar, but Jorma Kaukonen’s guitar as a guiding light also really shines here, and it screams on their other selection, Eskimo Blue Day, from the Volunteers album, even if its basic structure aped Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along the Watchtower.’ Disc one ends with the Butterfield Blues Band redeeming themselves with Little Walter’s Everything’s Gonna Be Alright, after the indulgent debacle of ‘Love March’ on volume one.” J2

“Disc Two features a trio of fine cuts by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young including Marrakesh Express, and a pair from Mountain: the stellar rocker Blood of the Sun, and the more pastoral Theme from an Imaginary Western. Canned Heat’s 13-minute Woodstock Boogie is a bit monotonous, but it’s a blast all the same. The tracks by Melanie and Joan Baez included here add nothing to this set and should have been left off in favor of some other artists who weren’t included on either volume, but that's personal preference. The Rhino edition of Woodstock Two contains new liner notes by Gene Sculatti, new photos, and completely remastered sound that’s a grand improvement on any CD edition released thus far.” J2

The Best of Woodstock:
This is a completely unnecessary CD since it simply distills the Woodstock Soundtrack from a two-disc collection down to one. Consequently, this “is far from a thorough overview of the festival – some of the artists aren’t represented by their most enduring material, and, after all, you can't cover three days’ worth of music in just one disc. Despite those limitations, the sampler does contain some of the festival's best moments, like Country Joe & the Fish’s ‘I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag’ and Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Star Spangled Banner’ and Purple Haze. In the absence of the actual Woodstock album, this can be an affordable substitute.” H

25th Anniversary Box:
“In 1995, the Woodstock: Three Days of Peace & Music [25th Anniversary] four-CD box appeared, combining virtually all the key parts” BE of “the original three-record Woodstock set from 1970, its two-LP 1971 sequel, Woodstock II, and a generous store of previously unreleased tracks from Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin, the Band, Jimi Hendrix, and others.” S “Like the famed August 1969 rock festival it chronicles [the set] is something of a sprawling, disorderly, engaging mess.” S “There’s plenty of chaff to go with the wheat (one is tempted to conclude John (‘Far out!’) Sebastian’s blissed-out rant hasn’t aged well, but it’s just as likely most of the crowd at Yasgur’s Farm would have gagged him if given half a chance, and Jefferson Airplane and Crosby, Stills & Nash clearly had better days). But Sly & the Family Stone, Joe Cocker, Santana, and Richie Havens shine, the stage patter has become part of the lexicon, and the whole package now stands as a remarkable account of a pivotal musical and cultural event.” S

Woodstock Diary:
With Best of Woodstock and the 25th anniversary box set already having been released in 1994, “this album, may, at first glance, seem like an afterthought. Actually, it’s a pretty neat compilation. Shorn of the long, indulgent jams, crowd chants, and warnings against bad acid that were an integral part of the earlier, better-known records, Woodstock Diary is a polished little gem – an alternate take on the mother of all rock festivals. Woodstock minus the melodrama, if you will. It isn’t a faultless set list by any means: Jimi Hendrix’s performance – revelatory and inspired as it was – has been covered enough elsewhere, so you can’t help wishing that they’d given his 12 minutes to, say, the Grateful Dead or Blood Sweat and Tears, both of whom haven’t been featured on any of the Woodstock compilations to date. That said, there are lovely moments aplenty: Crosby, Stills and Nash doing the Beatles’ Blackbird; Johnny Winter dropping hot riffs all over Mean Town Blues (the only song he performed at Woodstock); and Joe Cocker’s cover of I Shall Be Released, on which he manages to be affecting without burning the tune down to the ground like he did far more famously on ‘With a Little Help from My Friends.’ Along with the Band’s The Weight, Richie Havens’ tender version of Gordon Lightfoot’s I Can’t Make It Anymore, and Tim Hardin’s If I Were a Carpenter, they make this album predominantly a celebration of the quieter moments at Woodstock. Nine of the 14 tracks here are featured on the 1994 box set, so, for those who own that album, this may not be vital.” M, although it is important to note that those five tracks do not appear on any of the other Woodstock collections referenced on this page. Also, “as a companion piece to the Woodstock and Woodstock 2 albums, it is excellent value.” M

40th Anniversary Box:
In 2009, Woodstock was boxed again, this time as a six-CD set, making it “the most comprehensive collection ever available of artists that performed at the original festival.” AZ “It can be argued that this is merely a cash-in, but a number of things should be considered when critically looking at a set of this size, covering one of the most important events in rock music history. Perhaps the most significant aspect of this set is that it contains tracks by almost every single artist who appeared on the Woodstock stage in their proper sequence. The exceptions are the Band and Ten Years After as well as the introductory speech by Swami Satchidananda.” J40

The collection features “38 previously unreleased recordings, including the Grateful Dead, The Who, Tim Hardin, Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe & The Fish, and others.” AZ “In addition to the music, the set offers considerable amount of ancillary material sprinkled throughout the discs,” AZ including “stage announcements by Chip Monck, John Morris, and Wavy Gravy” J40, “lysergic babble, the sounds of rain, a cameo appearance by Abbie Hoffman, and the graciousness of Max Yasgur’s address to the crowd, heard for the first time in its entirety.” AZ

“In presenting a historical document of this proportion there are some interesting judgment calls to make. Producers Andy Zax, Mason Williams, and Cheryl Pawleski” J40 “pored over every inch of multitrack tape in search of the strongest parts of each of the 33 sets.” AZ “The sound, which was done by Eddie Kramer, is as good as it can possibly get…The book is a monster, loaded with photos and featuring Bud Scoppa’s wonderfully researched and presented liner essay, whose chapters account for each day, act by act.” J40

“Ultimately, however, it all comes down to the music. While we only get Dark Star by the Dead, we get (a bit) more music from the Who. The three tracks by CCR are all monsters, and hearing the five tracks by…[CSN/Y] all in correct sequence between BS&T and the Butterfield Blues Band makes total sense. One of the more welcome surprises is the expanded set by Sha Na Na. Fans of individual acts here will be delighted or complain about the treatment individual artists receive. Even though there is a bit more music, the Who still get short-sheeted (but we do get to hear the infamous row between Pete Townshend and Abbie Hoffman), as do the Dead. We didn’t need more of Arlo Guthrie than we already had, and why we still needed three tracks by Melanie or more by the completely unmusical Country Joe & the Fish is a mystery. We could have used more of the Incredible String Band or Richie Havens! But these are individual complaints. The set as it stands is the ultimate document – thus far – and will likely be for some time to come.” J40

Review Source(s):

Awards (for Woodstock soundtrack):

Monday, August 17, 2009

50 Years Ago Today: Miles Davis released Kind of Blue

First posted 8/17/2012; updated 3/30/2019.

Kind of Blue

Miles Davis

image from

Released: August 17, 1959

Peak: #2 US (catalog albums), #63 UK

Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 0.6 UK, 5.6 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: jazz

Quotable: “The most important jazz recordings of any era” – National Recording Registry

Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. So What
  2. Freddie Freeloader
  3. Blue in Gree
  4. All Blues
  5. Flamenco Sketches


Kind of Blue has been called the most famous and influential jazz recording of all time.” NO Truth be told, “when you find jazzers, rock and popular music followers actually unanimously unite over one record, then you know something must be right.” CL “Taking jazz way beyond cool,” BL “Miles left his most lasting mark” TL with Kind of Blue, an album that “isn’t merely an artistic highlight for Miles Davis, it’s an album that towers above its peers” AMG and “has influenced generations of jazz and other musicians.” YN “Many consider this recording to be one of the most important jazz recordings of any era.” NRR Davis’ “approach to blues and improvisation here was revolutionary.” BL “Although it took three decades to sell one million copies, it has sold another two million since Davis died in 1991,” YN making it “the best-selling jazz disc of all time.” TL

“Miles Davis, trumpeter and composer,” NRR was “a major star by the late ‘50s,” BL having “already remade jazz in his own image several times over.” TLThe Birth of Cool introduced a smooth, sophisticated approach, and then Walkin' heated things up again. His classic ‘50s quintet raised the bar for small-group improvisation.” TL As Miles Davis’ son Erin said, his father “was never one to dwell on the past and always moved on to embrace new styles.” YN

While Kind of Blue “reinforced his rep as a trendsetter and innovator,” BL “it was the tuneful grace” BL of “a superb ensemble of musicians” NRR “that made this a classic.” BL Davis “assembled an unprecedented all-star team” TL of Julian “Cannonball” Adderley (alto sax), John Coltrane (tenor sax), Bill Evans (piano), Wynton Kelly (piano on Freddie Freeloader), Paul Chambers (bass), Jimmy Cobb (drums), and John Coltrane (tenor sax) “right before he began his legendary solo career.” RV In “less than ten hours of actual recording time at Columbia Records’ 30th Street Studio,” YN they banged out what is “generally considered as the definitive jazz album.” AMG Clarke Speicher, of The Review, calls it “the most important, as well as one of the most beautiful albums, in the history…[of] jazz.” RV

So What

“Why does Kind of Blue possess such a mystique? Perhaps because this music never flaunts its genius. It lures listeners in with the slow, luxurious bassline and gentle piano chords of So What. From that moment on, the record never really changes pace – each tune has a similar relaxed feel, as the music flows easily.” AMG “His songs sound deceptively simple, but more complicated harmonies lurk just beneath the surface. The sparseness shows a more introspective direction from the fast and furious sound of be-bop that had dominated jazz.” RV “The lack of the dense harmonic digressions associated with Bop give the music its unhurried, meditative, but still intense feel, beautifully illustrated in All Blues or ‘So What.’” WR

“It’s the pinnacle of modal jazz,” AMG an approach which Davis described as he was on the brink of making this album: “I think a movement in jazz is beginning away from the conventional string of chords and a return to emphasis on melodic rather than harmonic variation. There will be fewer chords but infinite possibilities as to what to do with them.” JI

These “open-ended songs…were given just one or two takes – and the glorious results…are simultaneously delicate and powerful, and teeming with life.” TL In the album’s original liner notes, Bill Evans says “the band did not play through any of these pieces prior to recording. Davis laid out the themes before the tape rolled, and then the band improvised. The end results were wondrous and still crackle with vitality.” AMG

Kind of Blue became a how-to of jazz recordings, a standard by which all others would be judged.” RV “Seasoned jazz fans return to this record even after they’ve memorized every nuance. They return because this is an exceptional band…of the greatest in history, playing at the peak of its power.” AMG “It is advanced music that is extraordinarily enjoyable. It may be a stretch to say that if you don’t like Kind of Blue, you don’t like jazz – but it’s hard to imagine it as anything other than a cornerstone of any jazz collection.” AMG

Review Source(s):


Friday, August 14, 2009

Woodstock "Remembered" - by Someone Who Wasn't There

Check the Dave’s Music Database Facebook page for daily music-related posts. Also check out books by Dave Whitaker, including the collection of past blog entries, No One Needs 21 Versions of “Purple Haze”…And Other Essays from a Musical Obsessive. This essay is included in that book.

Note: the original 8/14/09 post was re-edited in August 2011 with images and videos added.

When the original Woodstock thrust itself upon the world four decades ago, I was all of two years old. Considering my parents were neither interested in rock & roll nor the counterculture, I have no great tale of toddling along in a diaper amidst the hippie masses. I didn’t behold Jimi Hendrix wailing on “The Star Spangled Banner” or witness Country Joe’s infamous – ahem – “FISH” chant (or any of the behavior it advocated). There will be no firsthand accounts from me of seeing people destined for the “freak out” tent or slithering nude through the mud. All I’ve got to “remember” what transpired at Yasgur’s farm on that August weekend in 1969 is a computer hard drive stocked with hours of live performances.

There’s an old joke that if all those who claimed to be there really were, then the 400,000+ official festival goers would swell to millions. Subtract those who may have been present physically but not necessarily otherwise, and there’s no telling how many people were or weren’t there. It begs the question of whether actually being there was a prerequisite to claiming the event as one’s own.

Perhaps more importantly is the question of whether it still matters. Certainly Woodstock has been co-opted as the definitive symbol of a generation’s passions, be they the more hedonistic pleasures of sex, drugs, and rock & roll or the more idealistic dreams of peace, love, and harmony in the face of the Viet Nam War and the draft. Interestingly, there isn’t complete agreement on the significance of Woodstock even among actual attendees. Some “treasured the festival as an adventure that changed their lives. Others found it nothing but a messy, dirty, disorganized debacle.” BWC

So what lasting effect can that “Aquarian Exposition” boast amidst debate over what it meant even then? In the USA Today article, writer Jerry Shriver asks if “Woodstock’s organic, peace-and-love-through-music legacy still resonates – and whether it’s relevant to young people living in a high-tech, marketing-driven era of splintered musical tastes, widely diverse political views and short attention spans.” JS

Festival co-founder Michael Lang asserts that “a lot of those seeds planted in the Woodstock era are beginning to flower…From the green movement to sustainable development and organic gardening, all these things seem to be coming back to us.” JS Sam Yasgur, whose father Max Yasgur offered up his farm as the festival grounds, says that Woodstock was about “the right to gather, the right to criticize, the right to dress funny, the right to listen to your own music.” JS That message resonates with the youth of any generation.

Max Yasgur

Then there’s the business model of Woodstock. As Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell points out, “the staging of Woodstock, haphazard as it was, remains important because it influences every large concert and festival staged today.” JS The original festival treated its guests to a bevy of inadequate conditions including lack of shelter, food, water, bathroom facilities, and parking. Today’s festivals have largely heeded those lessons – even if the variety of festival options has spread the audience thin enough that today’s festival planners are unlikely to face gate crashing on the scale of Woodstock.

Here’s the thing – even if you dismiss Woodstock as a symbol of ‘60s counterculture and the “make love, not war” ethos or as the how-to-make-a-buck-at-a-festival-gone-haywire business model, it mattered. It wasn’t just what ABC News called “the most celebrated rock festival of all time” SDJ for those reasons – it was also about the music, stupid! As Justin Gage, founder of the music blog Aquarium Drunkard, asks, “Were people going to Woodstock for change or to party and listen to music? I think it’s more of the latter.” JS

Creem magazine editor Dave Marsh cynically states, “It wasn’t utopian…Utopian has plumbing. It wasn’t idyllic. Woodstock is important because it was big.” JS Oddly, what generates the least press is the festival’s astounding lineup – Jimi Hendrix; the Who; the Grateful Dead; Crosby, Stills & Nash; Creedence Clearwater Revival; Janis Joplin; Santana; Jefferson Airplane; Sly & the Family Stone; the Band; Joan Baez; Joe Cocker; Blood, Sweat & Tears and more. Oh sure, there were some “where are they now” performers thrown in the mix (the Keef Hartley Band? Quill? Bert Sommer?), but mostly the big names at Woodstock are still big names today.

So, in response to the question of whether or not Woodstock still matters, I can speak only from the perspective of a rock music fan who wasn’t among the throngs. I’ll be spending as much time as I can this weekend glued to my computer, downloading and listening to music while scouring the Internet for others’ reminiscing about the events of 40 years ago. Alas, there will be no mud or nudity involved in my exploit; I’ll be wearing a freshly-laundered tie-dye shirt.

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Les Is More

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Elvis gave rock and roll its swagger. The Beatles gave it pop. But Les Paul, dead at age 94, gave it its sound. Rolling Stone called him “the father of the electric guitar” and “the most influential rock guitarist ever” (Mark Kemp). MTV’s blog said “it’s impossible to overestimate the impact guitarist and inventor Les Paul…had on rock music.” Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards said, “without Les Paul, generations of flash little punks like us would be in jail or cleaning toilets” (Jay Lustig, New Jersey’s Star-Ledger).

As the inventor of the first solid-body electric guitar at a time when hollow-body guitars were the norm, Paul “revolutionized music and created rock ‘n’ roll as surely as Elvis Presley and the Beatles” (Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press release). That alone would have snared him a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but in transforming “the way sound is recorded via innovations such as multi-tracking, reverb and close-miking” (Lustig), Paul also became an Inventors Hall of Fame inductee. Who knew?

While it wasn’t until 1952 that first issued a Les Paul solid-body guitar, Paul’s inclination for retooling the guitar dates back to 1929. Disappointed that he couldn’t get more sound from his guitar, a thirteen-year-old Paul placed a telephone receiver and later a phonograph needle in the guitar to amplify the sound (Moody), creating “a working prototype of the electric guitar” (Moody).

By 1936, he recorded as country act Rhubarb Red and appeared on records by blues singer Georgia White. He later formed a jazz trio and, in 1938, moved to New York to work with Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians’ popular dance orchestra (Billboard). He also would work with Bing Crosby, Nat “King” Cole, and the Andrews Sisters. He and his wife Mary Ford landed a slew of hits on the pop charts in the ‘50s.

In 1947, Paul released “Lover,” “the first commercially available multi-track recording” (Lustig). The song “changed the course of popular music as much as Elvis Presley’s ‘Sun Sessions’…[Paul] layered eight guitar tracks on top of each other: he would record one part on a wax disc, then record himself playing along with the earlier recording. He kept doing that until all eight parts were on one disc” (Lustig).

At his death, he was still doing a weekly gig at a New York jazz club, despite arthritis that forced him to reinvent, yet again, how to use his guitar.

As Paul said when inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, “I have been credited with inventing a few things you guys are using…About the most I can say is, ‘Have fun with my toys.’” Speaking on behalf of rock and roll fans everywhere, your toys have given us great joy. Thank you, Les Paul.