Just my stuff

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Reelin’ in the Years – 1967

Front cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Clu...

Front cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “probably the most famous album cover in popular musical history”Ashplant Smyth 2001, p. 185. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s 1967 and I’m five years old.

I definitely remember hearing Sgt. Pepper’s on vinyl. The song that first caught my imagination was “Lucy in the Sky.” That guitar riff at the beginning has been copied and morphed by so many other bands.

They probably changed it just enough to avoid a lawsuit. I learned how to play that riff as a boy. Not so hard. But getting something simple that unique, well, that’s the challenge of pop, isn’t it?

I don’t mean to pass over The Beatles. It’s the Summer of Love in ’67 and their groundbreaking Sgt. Pepper’s blew away most other bands. Actually all other bands. And most everyone admitted it (maybe not Quincy Jones).

A rose is a rose is a rose. And genius is genius is genius. And at that moment, The Beatles with George Martin were genius. No doubt about it.

English: Quincy Jones attending an after-party...

Quincy Jones attending an after-party of a tribute to his work at Life Restaurant, Los Angeles, CA on October 1, 2008 – Photo by Glenn Francis of http://www.PacificProDigital.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To think they did all that on a four-track recorder! Anyone who knows studio tech will understand how amazing that is.

I really should list “A Day in the Life” as my favorite song. But that was me in the basement, looking over and trying to play some sheet music on our old piano. Right now I want to focus more on stuff that really made AM radio what it was.

From 1966 you can see that AM radios were all rage back then. Most cars, except for the odd luxury vehicle, were standard equipped with a thin, overly compressed sounding AM radio. Basically music in a tin can.

That was it. So pop songs had to sound good on AM radios. And they had to go a full cycle (verse, chorus, bridge, etc.) in about 2 and a half minutes to fit the AM radio format.

If they went much over two minutes, the DJ would just start talking and fade into the next song or go to a commercial. So really, no long sagas like “A Day in the Life” would work on AM. That was for FM, which would find its full voice in the 70s. (get out the tape deck!)

Image – Wikipedia

One tune that did sound good on AM was the Rolling Stone’s “Ruby Tuesday.” I remember hearing this on vinyl – we had lots of vinyl kicking around – and sensing it was somehow different.

“Ruby Tuesday” proved that the Stones could do mature work. I think it’s a great song with fabulous instrumentation. That recorder, or whatever it is, adds an almost medieval, courtly flair that only the Brits could pull off.

Fantastic lyrics. Fantastic song. Enjoy.

Reelin’ in ALL the Years


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Travel the world thru radio…

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Updated my 70s playlist at Songza

Woodstock was in the summer of 69, but its effects lingered on through the 70s – Image via Tumblr


I haven’t had a chance to get out of the city for quite a while and, frankly, it can get boring. The traffic has risen sharply, probably because of the soaring number of condos. Toronto seems to be booming. That’s great, but sometimes I miss the old, quiet city, the old days. So last night I updated my Songza “Sock it to me 70s” playlist.

My 70s list is probably my strongest. I was a young kid then, super enthusiastic about music. Always listening to the radio, hearing my elder brothers and sisters records, and then as I got a bit older, my friends records. Music has always been a passion. Maybe my number one passion. I don’t know. I like a lot of things.

While updating this playlist, one of the things that struck me was how the Canadian music scene differs from the American scene. Generally speaking, I think we tend to like slightly lighter tunes. And we have a Canadian content law up here stipulating that radio stations must play a certain percentage of Canadian songs. I can’t remember exactly how much. But it’s enough to give Canadian artists a chance. Some cheesy stuff got airplay from that law. But a lot of good stuff too. I tried to ditch the cheese and list only what I felt was worthwhile.

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It’s been a while…

inuit sunglasses

inuit sunglasses by earthpages via Flickr

Sigh. I’ve been unusually busy over the past few days so haven’t updated here. But I haven’t been totally off the web. Nope. Along with some earthpages updates I did a volunteer question at allexperts.com, a really interesting one. But unfortunately the questioner wanted it to be private. And I have to respect that.

I’ve also been tweaking my songlists at songza. So far they haven’t really caught on but I think that’s only a matter of time. Because they’re great! (If I do say so myself). Songza is like the poor man’s chance to be a DJ. So now when I hear a song on the car radio that I haven’t added, I make a mental note: “Under the Boardwalk Under the Boardwalk Under the Boardwalk”…

It’s crazy, I know, but I love it. I’ve actually added quite a few new songs to most of my songlists. So do check them out!

http://songza.com/user/11594994/  (click the FAVORITES button to get my playlists).

As for my photography, it seems that I get the highest number of “likes” when I post my original pics. Well, now that it’s warming up I should be getting out more with the camera. But my private life is making it pretty hard to get out of the city these days. So they’ll mostly be urban shots. For a while, anyhow. In the meantime, here’s a pair of Inuit sunglasses that my parents used to own. I took this photo (above right) a few summers ago. Cool huh?

Well, that’s about it. Just wanted y’all to know that I haven’t dropped off the face of the Earth. Not yet! 😉

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Spinners – Games People Play

Listened to this earlier today and got pretty emotional. Takes me back to when I was 13 yrs old and really grooving on the AM radio… Back then, the music was just in the air. Hits seemed more ubiquitous than they are now. Maybe because we have more stuff these days. Or maybe it’s just me…

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Sour Suite – The Guess Who

When I was a kid the second bargain priced record I bought was The Best of the Guess Who, Vol. 2. It’s long since gone from my collection, but thank God for YouTube. Listening to this one brings back childhood memories of listening to vinyl records in my room in Toronto, sitting in the back seat of the station wagon (remember those?) on the way up to Collingwood for skiing, and racing around in motor boats at Georgian Bay.

Like the record, all that’s pretty much gone from my life now… well, everything but the listening to music part. 🙂

It’s true that this band had a string of AM hits in Canada (and some in the US) during the 70s, but I think we all knew they were good but not quite as good as, say, The Who.

Mind you, I do like Burton Cummings‘ voice. And guitarist Randy Bachman (also in BTO – “Takin’ Care of Business“) can still be heard as a DJ on CBC radio.

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Glenn Gould memories…

Here’s a video that summons up childhood memories of listening to CBC FM radio, when it was still predominantly classical.

Glenn Gould used to live in a 70s-style Toronto condo called “Inn on the Park” that’s now torn down, replaced by a Toyota dealer. He’s buried in a nearby cemetery, where I worked one summer cutting grass so I’d have enough cash for school.

I’ll have to go visit some day and pay my respects…