Monday, February 17, 2014

Seniors, Are You Listening to It Today? The Albums From Back Then

I put this collage together in Picasa of the album covers discussed in this article. Paste Magazine's article on the Sixty Best Albums From The Sixties inspired me to reflect upon which of those albums I still listen to today. Sometimes I can't help but listen because these tunes turn up as part of the soundtrack on a movie I'm watching. But I'm thinking more about what I choose to listen to on my iPhone or iPod. Obviously my own repeat listening will differ from others so I urge you to go to the Paste article and pick out your own choices. At the end of each entry I will also answer the question "Here today?" Here goes.

I still listen to Janis Joplin. Her vocal renditions were truly unique.  No one sounded like her. Also, she had a hard, harsh, raspy voice and those voices are not in demand today when sweeter voices fill the airwaves. I also find her good to listen to while I am working on art projects. Plus her album cover was done by the #1 alternative comics guy, Art Crumb, who came to be appreciated much later than Joplin. Of course, he got to live longer too. "Here today?" No, drug overdose death 1970, age 27.

I still listen to Jimi Hendrix. I also find him good to listen to while I am working on art projects. There are present day guitarists I like as well, like Jack White, but there is no one who sounds like Hendrix's combination of vocals with guitar. My favorite of his is Purple Haze. Hendrix always had incredible art posters to go with his concerts and albums. To this day I can walk into a young person's bedroom and find a Hendrix poster taped to the wall. "Here today?" No, drug overdose death 1970, age 27.

I always loved jazz too and Miles Davis was incredible on the trumpet. He was as "far out" as any other musician listed here. He just lasted a bit longer. I could listen to this album every day, any day, all day.  It is that good. If anyone is a Miles Davis fan, it is unconceivable that this album would not be among the ones on their iPods today.

The above is a portrait of Davis performing. Davis loved art and wore wearable art when he performed. He was also a very modern artist and painter on canvas. "Here today?" Died in 1991 at age 65, rumored to have AIDS but cause of death was listed as stroke, pneumonia and respiratory problems, all of which are also complications of the AIDS disease and people die of those complications.

You couldn't help hearing Van Morrison back then because his music was played everywhere. I was not buying him then though. I started buying him much later, after I kept hearing his songs in movie after movie.  He has been well used by anyone assembling a soundtrack for a movie in the ensuing years. "Here today?" Yes, he has an incredible work ethic and in all decades was busy performing, recording, composing, etc., Age 68.
I don't listen to the Beatles as much as I did back then but I doubt anyone else does either. That would require an awful lot of listening after all. Nevertheless, it is impossible not to listen to their music as it is welded to our culture. I do have it on my iPod and I do listen to it. Interestingly, I also enjoy these interpretations by other artists of Beatles' music, especially by the actors-singers in the film Across the Universe. Great movie, Great album. "Here today?" 2 gone, John was murdered in 1980 at age 40 and George died of cancer in 2001 at age 58. Paul, 71, and Ringo, 73, are still with us.

I listened to Simon & Garfunkel throughout the sixties. When they split up I found myself listening to Garfunkel's solo releases. Although I liked and admired Paul Simon more, I loved Art Garfunkel's voice. I don't walk into the music store, after all, and ask who is the greatest human being. "Here today?" Yes, both alive at age 72.

I listened to Marvin Gaye then and I listen to him now and at all points in between. For me he epitomizes soul music. My favorite song of his is What's Going On? He used to do these great duets also with a female soul singer. I remember that I often would hear them on my alarm clock radio while I was in college. "Here today?" In perhaps the saddest death of all, he was shot and killed by his own father in 1984 at age 44. It was deemed a justifiable homicide since Marvin was attacking him.

Jim Morrison and the Doors I listen to off and on. When I am in the mood for those songs, I realize anew just how good they are. Intense is the only word which could probably describe them. Those songs are also on a lot of movie soundtracks, especially Apocalypse Now.  A shirtless Jim Morrison poster is also pasted up on today's young people's walls. The big hit Light My Fire I like but even better are the more complex and longer The End and L.A. Woman.  Although the band was called just The Doors, no one thought of anyone but Jim Morrison in connection with the band. The other guys were just that, the other guys. The big question about Jim Morrison has always been, is he really dead? There were so many irregularities in handling his body in Paris, including no autopsy, that no one other than his druggie girlfriend and her doctor ever confirmed it was his body. The body in his grave was also never later exhumed to confirm its being him with DNA testing. So, probable death Paris, France, cause undetermined, 1971, age 27.
I believe everyone in my college dorm had a copy of Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane.  There are two cuts that one still hears in movies or anything else which refers back to the '60s. These are Somebody to Love and White Rabbit. Grace Slick's voice dominates on both. This band kept reforming and going out on tour with name changes.  I remember when it became Jefferson Starship for awhile in the '80s. I also bought and listened to a four CD set by the original Airplane. It was good and I picked up a third song I liked Coming Back To Me.  Grace Slick is still alive at age 74 but I can't even remember a single other band member's name!
John Coltrane was one musician everyone could agree was great. He played the saxophone. The album of his I like best is the one he cut with singer Johnny Hartman.  For many people this is considered the best album ever recorded. It is a toss up as to whether their renditions of My One and Only Love or Lush Life are the best numbers but they are incredible by anyone's reckoning. The title keeps changing on this album but I found it on Amazon, listed simply with just both of their names.  It is in the link to Amazon shown here. Coltrane died in 1967 at age 40 with cause of death given as liver cancer. A biography of him disputed this cause, contending that he died of hepatitis or heroin use instead.

Go over to Paste here and see all of the remaining albums to pick out your own albums. I have more I could list here which I still listen to today but I think you've got the idea.

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