Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Personal Note

As we continue to discuss our favorite groups and music from our time together at Vanderbilt, I need to make a personal note.

The 5th Dimension holds a special place in my heart because going to see them in concert at the Municipal Auditorium downtown was the first date I had with my wife, Betty Lee Love (also VU Class of 1973). It was in the spring of 1972.

We met at WRVU and she already had a date when I asked her out the first time (I think for a Barbara Streisand movie). I thought this concert was my next big chance and it worked. Almost 40 years later, we're still happily married (anniversary is April 27), having raised two children and now greatly enjoying two grandchildren.

I still have the ticket stubs from that 5th Dimension concert that was our first date. And we both still love the Fifth Dimension. Here's their first big hit, "Up, Up And Away" written by the great Jimmy Webb. It went as high as #7 on the charts and won 5 Grammy Awards.....

Overall, the 5th Dimension had two #1 songs, "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" and "Wedding Bell Blues," both in 1969. In fact, the group had four different hits on the charts in all but four weeks of that year and had over 40 pop hits overall.

The makeup of the 5th Dimension has changed a little bit over the years, but it is still touring according to the group's official web site. Unfortunately from what I can tell from doing some research they haven't been to Nashville recently nor do they have any concerts scheduled here.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Nashville Connection

It seems there's always a Nashville connection....even between our class and rock icon Bob Dylan.

Both of us came to Nashville in 1969 looking for something good to happen. For us it was a 40-year plus relationship making life-long friends and connecting with a University where we come to celebrate again this October 3-5 (hope you are registered to join us that weekend).

For Bob Dylan, it was the creation of one his most critically acclaimed albums, "Nashville Skyline" and one of his top pop hits "Lay, Lady, Lay." It's a song that reached as high as #7 on the Billboard rankings that year. It was also a piece of music that was reportedly supposed to be a part of the soundtrack of the MIDNIGHT COWBOY movie, but it wasn't done soon enough to be included.

But here it is for your listening enjoyment.....

Here's one other story about the song that's pretty incredible if it's true. According to Wikipedia, the legendary Johnny Cash says he first heard "Lay, Lady, Lay" when Dylan played it for him at his Hendersonville home in 1969. There were other songwriters there who played 'unknown" tunes that night. What songs? How about "A Boy Named Sue" (Shel Silverstein), "Both Sides Now" (Joni Mitchell), "Marrakesh Express" (Graham Nash) and "Me And Bobby McGee'"(Kris Kristofferson).

Again, if it's true, all you can say is....only in Nashville.

And it's been going on like this now here in Music City for well over 40 years. It's something special...just like our Class!

Monday, July 29, 2013


It was certainly the most popular album released during the four years we were in school at Vanderbilt.

Carole King's "Tapestry" launched a solo artist career that matched the great celebrity she already had as a songwriter or co-writer of more than 118 pop hits from 1955 until 1999.

"Tapestry" itself was a true wonder on the charts. It was #1 for 15 weeks after its release in 1971 (a mark that stood for over 20 years). It then remained on the best-selling list for more than 6 YEARS with total sales of more than 25 million copies!

As a member of both the Songwriters and Rock & Roll Halls of Fame, she is considered by many as the most successful female songwriter of the rock era. "Tapestry" itself won 4 Grammy Awards including Best Album, Song of the Year ("You've Got A Friend") and her Number #1 singles hit ("It's Too Late").....

At the risk of repeating myself, seeing Carole King and James Taylor together in concert at the Bridgestone Arena in May, 2010, shortly after the Nashville Floods was one of the greatest musical nights of my life! Amen

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Mic Turns 70

Mic Jagger of The Rolling Stones turns 70 today (Friday, July 26)...and he and the group are still going strong with over 50 years plus in show business and still out touring on the road.

While it may be hard to believe based on our time on campus, Jagger and the Stones actually played at Vanderbilt Stadium a few years ago (October 26, 1997). I couldn't find any video from the show, but here's a link to the musical rundown for the performance and some reviews. By the way, the warmup act that evening was Sheryl Crow, who is now a resident of Music City.....

There are so many Rolling Stones hits over the years to salute Mic Jagger on his milestone birthday, it's hard to pick out just one. But it seems pretty clear one of the group's earliest smash recordings, as a part of the English Invasion back in the mid-1960s (while were in early school), has stood the test of time as the Stone's signature song: "Satisfaction." It was also the first song the Stones played to begin their concert at Vandy, so let's feature that one......

Happy Birthday, Mic!

More Than A One Hit Wonder

Nominated for inclusion on our Centennial Class 40th Reunion CD, "Mississippi Queen" by Mountain might seem like a one hit wonder.

It was the most popular song ever released by the rock group, rising to #21 on the BILLBOARD Top 100 Chart in 1970. Here's a 1970 video of Mountain playing the hit during a rock concert held at Randall's Island, New York. The cover video during the piece will take you "back to the day".....

"Mississippi Queen" has become something of a rock classic over the years. It's been a part of several movies including THE LONGEST YARD, THE DUKES OF HAZZARD, COMEBACK SEASON, THE EXPENDABLES. The song even made a SIMPSONS TV Show and it's been featured in video games such as ROCK BAND and GUITAR HERO III: LEGENDS OF ROCK.

I guess you can say the song captures a part of the rock era.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"Cried For No One"

Our classmate, Hubert Crouch has written a wonderful new novel entitled "Cried For No One."

Here's some very positive customer review information from Amazon and some background on both the author and the real-life basis for the book.

Hubert's work is already getting a reputation as a real page turner and as one customer reviewer put it "a unique Texas  classic in the making" as a "can't put it down" courtroom drama. Scroll down and click around, there's also information at this link on how to order a copy in both paperback and Kindle.

Maybe Hubert can autograph everyone's copy at our 40th Reunion October 3-5.

OK, Vandy Deadheads, It's Time

Given the unique relationship our VU Centennial Class has with the Grateful Dead (hosting one of the Dead's concerts on Neely/Alumni Lawn our senior year, October 21, 1972), that group has to have a song or two included on our 40th Reunion CD.

I will defer to others (who are bigger Deadheads than me) to suggest or select which tracks (or sets) they want to include. One way I can help is by providing this link that will take you to a surviving recording of the Grateful Dead's Vanderbilt concert (I don't think it's the whole show), so you can listen again to exactly how wonderful the group sounded on that warm, sun-kissed autumn day nearly 41 years ago. Click and enjoy....

During some additional research, I found this on-article that gives some very interesting background and historical prepective on the Nashville show......

This article should also give us all a renewed sense of pride and accomplishment for what Steven Greil and the others at Vanderbilt did to bring the Dead to town. But what if you could not just hear, but also see the Grateful Dead performing during that same early 1970s era?

I haven't been able to find any moving pictures of the Vanderbilt concert, but on Thursday,August 1 you may get the chance to see the Dead perform pretty much as they were back in the day.....

This will be the third year for The Grateful Dead Meet-Up At The Movies. It will feature what on-line promoters say is the most requested video of the band's career. "Sunshine Daydream" is a previously unreleased film of the Dead's August 27, 1972 concert at the Oregon County Fair in Venita, Oregon. It was held as a benefit to save the Springfield Creamery there. This means the film was shot about two months before the group came to Nashville. Here's a link to more information and an excerpt from "Sunshine Daydream"......

I haven't been able to pinpoint the exact theatre locations for this August 1 only event. But here's another site with more information and a movie trailer.....!sunshine-daydream

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Before There was NASHVILLE...There was The Man In Black

A lot of people are very excited these days....the ABC Network TV show NASHVILLE has begun shooting its second season in town.

But there was another ABC TV show that first put Music City on the map back in the days that we were on campus at Vanderbilt. Beginning as a summer replacement, THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW ran for 58 episodes from June 7, 1969 until March 31, 1971.

Taped before a live audience at the Ryman Auditorium  (the Home of the Grand Ole Opry), the show featured the usual country music greats (such as Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette, Roger Miller, George Jones, Marty Robbins). But it also had some stars you might not expect including Joni Mitchell, The Monkees (who are back playing the Ryman this week), Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Derek and the Dominoes, Ray Charles, James Taylor, Neil Diamond, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Carpenters and, in one of his final TV appearances, Louis Armstrong.

One of the Johnny Cash shows in its final season even had a major Vanderbilt theme. Entitled "Johnny Cash On Campus," it was taped before an all-student audience at the Ryman on February 17, 1971. The show also included some segements filmed a few days earlier while Cash was talking to students on the Vanderbilt campus with the Kirkland Hall Tower plainly in the background. Here's a portion of that conversation. The segement also introduces a performance by one of the show's other major stars that night, Neil Young (believe or not)....

Does anyone remember going to this TV show taping? Does any remember Cash coming on campus for his conversation with students? Do you recognize anyone among the students surrounding Cash?

This particular Johnny Cash show episode is also famous for the first performance ever of one of his signature songs ,"The Man in Black." In fact, you can tell from his introduction Cash had just finished the piece, and that his student conversations at Vanderbilt may have moved him to  write it.....

The anti-Vietnam War overtones in the "Man In Black"song caught Cash some network flak as did his invitation for folksinger Peter Seeger, an anti-war activist to sing on the show. Ironically, despite its outreach to a younger audience, THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW was cancelled by ABC during the so-called "rural purge" in the summer of 1971 where all three major networks cancelled shows that seemed to appeal to older, rural audiences.

The Allman Brothers Band

Another rock group suggested for representation on our Centennial Class 40th Reunion CD is the Allman Brothers Band.

Checking their web site, I can find at least three concert listings for them in Nashville while we were in school. One was Friday, October 30, 1970 with an campus concert at Vanderbilt. This was our sophomore year. Given the date was it Homecoming? Anybody remember this concert?

The Allman Brothers also came to town a year later on December 10, 1971 at Municipal Auditorium downtown (it's still open and hosting shows) and on July 28, 1972 when the group played at the  Fairgrounds Speedway (which is also still open, although this must have been an outdoor concert).

One of the songs reccomended for the CD is "Whipping Post", a song first recorded on the Allman's first album in 1969. A longer version, done in 1970 gained more popularity. In fact, it made the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's list of 500 Songs That Shaped Rock & Roll and ROLLING STONE Magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Here's the song, courtesy of YouTube. This is from a live performance so watch the crowd shots early on.  It will tske you back to the day.....

Two other Allman Brothers songs suggested for the CD are "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" and "Melissa." Here they are both in live concert venues......

 (Elizabeth Reed)


If you have any new suggestions for music we need to include on the CD, send me an e-mail or leave a message here on the blog or on the Class Facebook page.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Getting Deep Into Traffic


It's not just what you have to fight to and from work every day.

It's also an English rock group that Janet Schneider of our VU Class of 1973 liked a lot while we were in school.

She sent me suggestions for our Class Reunion CD of two of the group's songs. Both were title cuts of their most sucessful albums. The first was "Mr. Fantasy" released in 1967 after the group had actually disbanded for a while according to Wikipedia.  "Mr. Fantasy" was the group's first album. As a single it was a hit in England but only made #88 in the States.

Here it is, courtesy of You Tube, as performed live by the group after it re-formed and during an concert on February 21, 1972 at the Santa Monica (CA) Civic Center......

After Traffic reunited in 1970, it also produced it's most critically acclaimed work, "Freedom Rider (John Barleycorn Must Die)." Here's the title song....

Traffic was elected to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

I guess it's because I worked at WRVU and we were more mainstream rock or pop in those days, but I am not really that familar with groups such as Traffic. However, don't be shy in nominating whatever you want for your favorite hits for our Class Reunion CD from back in the day. It is just amazing what you can find for videos and background info with a Google search and I love doing it!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Lest We Forget.....

It was 44 years ago this weekend that man first landed on Moon.

As someone just a few weeks away from beginning college at that time, I can remember how in awe I was watching and listening to the landing and that first Walk on the Moon. Life seemed so full of adventure, promise and great hope.

Here's a look back......

While manned space exploration has all but ended for our country these days, what we all experienced in our years together at Vanderbilt four decades ago still helps me remember when all worlds seemed possible to conquer, all challenges capable of being surmounted. Yes, we've gotten older and wiser. We've learned our limitations and had our disappointments. But as the song goes: "Those Were The Days, My Friend"....we thought they'd never end...

So come back for a special weekend 40 years later, October 3-5, and we can celebrate our time together one more time. Register today at:

Thursday, July 18, 2013


I am a little surprised nobody has nominated a song for our Class CD from this California pop band, The Association (as pictured above on their "Greatest Hits" album). The group holds the distinction as the first ones to play at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.

Still active on the concert circuit today, The Association had its first hit with "Along Comes Mary" which topped at #7 on the charts in 1966. The group then had three million selling singles including  "Windy" (1967), "Cherish"  (1966) and the song accredited by BMI with the second most airplays (on the radio) in the entire 20th century! Wow! "Here's Never My Love" (1967) as a part of a brief look back at 1967 and The Association's appearance on THE ED SULLIVAN TV show.....

The Association also went on to write and record the music for the movie, GOODBYE COLUMBUS and it continued to produce hits even while we were at Vanderbilt including "Darlin Be Home Soon" in 1972.

But perhaps our class' greatest connection to THE ASSOCIATION is that the group was the featured performers at our first VU Homecoming concert in the fall of 1969  (And who was your date? Or did you go solo?)

This man also had something to do with our class connection with The Association. He's Scott Shannon and he was the #1 rated night time rock and roll disc jockey in Nashville (YOUR LEADER) on 1300 WMAK while we were at Vanderbilt.

Every night, Shannon closed his show with "Cherish" which became The Association's signature song. And in introducing that music he always said: "This is Scott Shannon, reminding you to live, love, laugh, be happy....and never ever forget to".....(you can pick it from there)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

1973: A Vintage Final Year for Great Movies, Great Music

1973 was the last year we were all together as a class at Vanderbilt. It was also another year for great movies and great music. Take the Number #1 box office hit and Best Picture of that year, "THE STING" starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. It brought back the forgotten ragtime melodies of Scott Joplin, and the movie's theme song "The Entertainer" was soon on the pop charts, decades after it was written.

Here's how it looked and sounded as the movie started (and the cons began)......

A very different kind of music was spotlighted in another box office hit of 1973. "AMERICAN GRAFFITI" was all about cruising in hot cars, getting ready (or not) to go off to college, and of course, rock and roll hits on the radio with Wolfman Jack. The flick was set in 1962, so it was a time and era a bit ahead of ours (maybe more for our older brothers and sisters). But the film and its music remain classics even today. Here's a trailer from the movie to take you back ("Where we you in '62?" Umm....6th grade?).....

The romantic box office hit in 1973 had to be "THE WAY WE WERE" starring Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford. And, of course, its theme song flew up the pop and easy listening charts. the corners of my mind...

All three of the movies we have featured in this segment were among the Top 10 grossing pictures of 1973. That year also saw the cinematic climax of the religious "Rock Opera" phenonmenon that began while we were in high school. Both "GODSPELL" and "JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR" were put on the screen, following up on their successes on both the stage and as best selling albums.

First, here's the biggest hit song from "GODSPELL", "Day by Day".....

"Jesus Christ Superstar" had many hit songs, especially on its original album. Here's how the original movie trailer played it back 40 years ago....

I sure hope you have enjoyed this look back at the hit movies and hit songs while we were at Vanderbilt (1969-1973). Now it's back to the hits you reccommend for the Centennial Class 40th Reunion CD that we will be playing at our Friday night class party at the newly remodeled Rand Hall on Friday, October 3. Don't forget, you can already go on line to register to attend our fabulous weekend together and check our weekend schedule of events.

And also don't forget to send me your song requests!

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Banjo, A Nightclub and An Offer You Can't Refuse

1972 spanned our junior and senior years at Vanderbilt. At the movies, the memorable music that the top films generated that year might be summed up best as a banjo, a nightclub and offer you can't refuse.

THE GODFATHER was the box-office leader of 1972. It remains one of the highest grossing films of all time. I can remember the line to buy tickets at the old Tennessee Theatre (no Fandango or on-line purchases in those days). It snaked all the way down Church Street and 6th Avenue in downtown Nashville, well more than several blocks.

Named the second-greatest film ever (behind CITIZEN KANE) by the American Film Institute, it won the Best Picture Oscar and spawned two highly successful sequels in the years to come.  It was also named to the National Film Registry in 1990 for preservation by the Library of Congress.

The movie's music won a Grammy for Best Original Score, but, according to Wikipedia was disqualified for an Oscar because one of the songs closely resembled another piece the author (Nino Rota) had composed earlier. Ironically, the score for GODFATHER II did later win an Oscar with the same music.

Regardless, the movie's theme song remains unmistakeable even when you hear it over four decades later.....

CABARET was another box office smash movie in 1972. Based on the Broadway play of the same name, it portrayed the seedy, sometimes bizarre nightclub life in Berlin just before the Nazis came to power in the early 1930s.

It won 8 out of the 10 Oscars it was nominated for that year (but not Best Picture which went to THE GODFATHER). CABARET did win for Best Original Score as composed and written by John Kander and Fred Ebb. Their theme song for "Cabaret" is #18 on the American Film Institute's list of 100 Years...100 Songs.

AFI's rating of Greatest Musicals lists CABARET #5 and #63 overall in their estimation of 100 Greatest Movies of All Time.

Another film preserved on the National Film Registry in 1995, the movie was a star vehicle for both its major actors, Joel Gray (who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar) and Lisa Minelli (who was named Best Actress for her performance).

Here they are in the movie as the theme first came on the screen and into immortality. After all, we already knew from our years at Vanderbilt, especially on the weekends: "What good is sitting all alone in your room?"....

Our final movie for 1972 is DELIVERANCE. A thriller film made long before the horror flicks of a later era, it was based on the 1970 novel of the same name by James Dickey.

Preserved by the Library of Congress in 2000, it will always be known for its "dueling banjos" and a few other scenes we'd just as soon not discuss. It was a scary flick as I recall it.

The song was written by Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith. Recorded by Eric Weissburg and Steve Mandrell, it went to #2 on the Billboard charts for four weeks in 1973. It als won a Grammy.

Here's the "dueling" scene from the movie itself....

One more year to go in our review of great movies, great music from the years we were together at Vanderbilt. Next's 1973.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Oops...I Almost Gave This Movie the "SHAFT"

Before we move on to the great films and movie music of 1972, I realize I left out one of the best from 1971.

It's "SHAFT" the "blackploitation" flick that also contained an award-winning sound track and Number #1 hit record, written and recorded by Issac Hayes from Memphis.

The movie, starring Richard Roundtree, was one of only three films that made money for MGM in 1971. It grossed $13 million on a production budget of  only $500,00. It was later selected for permanent preservation by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."

The sound track for the film won a Grammy for Best Original Score and an Oscar for Best Original Song. The theme song was not envisioned to be released as a single. But the public demand for a recording became so strong, it was released and rose to the top of the Billboard charts in November, 1971. It even reached #6 on the Easy Listening rankings. Later it was named the 38th greatest movie song ever by the American Film Institute.

Courtesy of YouTube, here it is, as it appeared in the opening credits of "SHAFT." Right on....

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Back to the Movies....1971

1971 was another year that had popular movies that generated great music, a lot of which still loves on today. We'll take a look at three such films in this blog posting.

The first 1971 movie we will look back on is "Fiddler on the Roof", a very successful adaptation of the smash Broadway musical show. In fact, it was so well done the musical score won an Oscar for Best Song Score Adaption. Several of the songs had made the popular movie charts back in its Broadway days, and that popularity lives on.

I didn't think it was fair to pick out just one song from "Fiddler" (there's so much great music), so I found a musical trailer for the movie that provides a good sample of several of the songs and a good feel for the film itself....

Our next 1971 movie is "The Summer of '42, a coming of age flick that made Jennifer O'Neil a major star and gave many young boys a major crush.

The movie was a hit becoming the sixth highest grossing film of the year. The music won the Oscar for Best Original Dramatic Score. Its theme song, written by Michael Legrand, also climbed the pops charts with conductor Peter Nero garnering the hit. The theme's actual title is "The Summer Knows". Here's a movie trailer for the flick that features the song and gives you a flashback on the movie....

 Our final 1971 movie  is "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" starring Gene Wilder. The film had moderate success at the box office but its popularity soared in the years  following, developing something of a cult following as it was shown frequently on cable TV.

The movie also contained a Number #1 hit "The Candyman Can" although the person who took to the top did not perform in the film. It was Sammy Davis, Jr. and it was the first top single of his long and distinguished musical career. Here it is from a network TV appearance when the song was topping the charts the following year in 1972.....

1972 is our next year to profile regarding movies that contained hit songs or music that has lived on since our days at Vanderbilt. So pop some more popcorn and crank up the volume on the stereo while you are enjoying that movie score album. We will be right back soon.....

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Before we leave 1970 and go on to the hit songs from the movies of 1971, here's a brief diversion.

I was listening to XM Radio and heard this smash recording by Three Dog Night called "Momma Told Me Not To Come." Written by Randy Newman, it topped the pop singles chart when it came out and it was certified gold on July 14, 1970. A few weeks before that it was the first song  ever broadcast on the soon-to-be-classic weekly nationally syndicated radio show "American Top 40."

But the real question I want answered is, after listening to the song's lyrics again, did you ever wind up at any parties like this while you were in school at Vanderbilt? It's OK, we don't need names and only a few details, if you'd like share.

Besides it's been over 40 years, the narcs are gone and you probably don't remember your date's name anyway. So, enjoy the song (and remember, if you can)...

On a personal level, anyone who knew me at the time or knows me now, is sure to tell you I was way too nerdy to be at any wild parties. And now I'm too old and too tired to do it, darn it. But I will do the best I can at our VU Centennial Class 40th Reunion Party at the newly remodeled Rand Hall on Friday evening, October 4. Hope you'll be there too! 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Movie Songs That Became Hits---1970

1970 was not quite the year that 1969 was in terms of movie songs that became blockbuster hits on the pop charts. But there are several you'll remember well. And one that might surprise you.

We'll begin with the movie that swept the Oscars that year. It's PATTON, the Best Picture Oscar winner starring Best Actor, George C. Scott. One of the best war movies and bio-pics ever made, it is also remembered for its instrumental theme song that recurred throughout the film. Written by Jerry Goldsmith, here it is, courtesy of YouTube complete with stills from the movie and from WWII....

The direct opposite of PATTON was the next movie we focus on from 1970. It was MASH, one of the most successful anti-war movies ever made.

MASH also spawned one of the most popular TV series of all time with both the film and the TV show sharing the same theme song (instrumental only for TV). It was written by Johnny Mandel with lyrics by Mike Altman, the 14-year old son of the film's director, Robert Altman. It is ranked #66 in the American Film Institute's ranking of 100 Years...100 Songs.....

Our next hit song from the movies in 1970 is the theme from LOVE STORY starring Ryan O'Neill and Ali McGraw. Considered by critics as both one of best romantic pictures and one of the sappiest films ever made, it may also be one of the first chick flicks ever produced. With its strong college-based theme, I suspect all of us saw it. The theme song by Francis Lai was instrumental only in the movies with Carl Sigma later adding the lyrics and Andy Williams later taking it to #9 on Billboard Hot 100 and #1 for four weeks on the Easy Listening charts in 1970.  Here's the Willam's vocal version with scenes from the film.....

We end this posting with a hit song from a 1970 movie, but you don't likely know the version in the film. "For All We Know" won the Best Original Song Oscar in the movie LOVERS AND OTHER STRANGERS. Here it is performed in the film by Larry Meredith.....

Richard Carpenter of the famous Carpenters performing group heard the song in the movie and thought it was perfect for himself and his sister, Karen to perform. And so it was, in 1971 reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot #100 rankings and # 1 for 3 weeks on the Easy Listening charts. Here it is as seen on "The Andy Williams (TV) Show" back when the song was still climbing the charts in 1971....

Next time, we look at songs from the movies that became hits back in 1971.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Movies and the Hits

Taking a little different tack on our look back at our favorite music while we were at Vanderbilt, I have been struck, after doing a little research, about our many of the top movies from that era (1969-1973) also contained some of the hits that topped the charts.

Let's start in 1969 with the "Best Picture" Oscar film MIDNIGHT COWBOY and the major hit of that summer "Everybody's Talking" by Harry Nilsson. Here it is from the movie and YouTube.....

And the hits just keep on coming!

This box office smash, BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, led way to a major pop chart hit for B. J. Thomas with "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" which I think won the Best Original Song Oscar in 1969.....

And the list goes on with this movie EASY RIDER and the hit song "Born to be Wild" from Steppenwolf....

And it doesn't end there with other 1969 movies including "Hello, Dolly!", "Alice's Restaurant", "Paint Your Wagon" and "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" that generated the hit "Jean"....

But in the movie, the song was performed by its author, noted 60s poet Rod McKuen. It was Oliver who made it a pop hit, rising as high as #3 on the charts in the summer of 1969. Maggie Smith, the lead in the movie, didn't do too bad either, she won the "Best Actress" Oscar for her performance. Here's Oliver performing "Jean" which was also nominated (but didn't win) for "Best Original Song".....

It wasn't just in 1969 that so many of our pop hits came from the movies. We'll take a look back at 1970 in our next posting.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sweet Baby James

Another artist who deserves strong consideration to have his songs and music on our Centennial Class 40th Reunion CD is James Taylor. He exploded on the rock sceene in February, 1970 with the release of his album "Sweet Baby James," Taylor's first single hit off that vinyl was the highly biographic "Fire and Rain" which rose as high as #3 on Billboard's Top 100 rankings. The song was later named #227 on Rolling Stones list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Courtesty of You Tube, here's a contemporary performance of "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor from a concert performance back in 1970.....

The piano work on the original version of "Fire and Rain" was performed by the legendary singer/songwriter Carole King. Taylor and King many years later (in 2010) did a nationwide concert tour including a date at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena just days after the massive floods that struck our city in May, 2010. It was the first performance event held in the Arena following the disaster and the flood damage to the building had the led the concert to be up in the air until just days before the show went on. But what a show it was! One of the greatest performances I have ever seen by two rock and roll legends just enjoying a night together playing their music. We add some Carole King songs to our CD list shortly.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

25 or 6 to 4

No compilation of the greatest music of our years together at Vanderbilt would be complete without something from Chicago.

Here's one of their biggest hits of that era "25 or 6 to 4." It was recorded and released as a part of the group's second album (Chicago) then released as a single in June, 1970. Written by band member Robert Lamm, the vocals were done by Peter Cetera. It rose as high as #4 on Billboard's Top 100 rankings.

My favorite memory of the song was one of the DJs at WRVU playing it as a daily lead in to the News Department's "5 O'Clock Report." It was a 15-minute wrapup of national and international news (we had an ABC audio newsline to record stories to use) along with state and local stories (from our UPI wire machine) and campus stories as well (which we generated and produced on our own).

It was a great way to learn the business and listen to some pretty great music while we were putting the newscast together. Courtesy of YouTube, here's "25 or 6 to 4".....

So where does the name of the song and the lyrics come from? According to Wikipedia, band members insist it had nothing to do with the drug culture at the time. Instead, they claim it truly does refer to telling time, all be it early in the morning. By that they mean 3:35 A.M. or 3:54 A.M. You know "25 or 6 to 4."

OK, but all I can say after all these years is,  "turn over and go back to sleep!"


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Turn

I want to nominate a song for our VU Centennial Class 40th Reunion CD. It's from my favorite duo Simon & Garfunkel, who I've loved since high school days when they burst on the music scene with "Sounds of Silence."

Their monster album and single in 1970 is "Bridge Over Troubled Water." I remember playing it over and over during my shows on WRVU. The single came out during our freshman year on January 26, 1970 and reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts by the end of February. It then stayed number one for six weeks and also topped the adult contemporary ramkings for six weeks as well. The single has sold more than 6 million copies worldwide and is ranked number 47 on Rolling Stone's ranking of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It also won Grammy Awards in 1971 for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

Here they are singing it during the duo's famous "Concert in Central Park" in 1981....

I had the chance to hear Simon and Garfunkel sing this song live (along with so many of their other hits) when they came to Nashville a few summers back to perform at the Arena. It's was definitely something I'd always wanted to do and it was one of the greatest concerts I've ever attended. One to check off the bucket list....and put on the Class CD.

More on another of my favorite concerts at the Arena...featuring two of the biggest stars of the 1969-73 era.....James Taylor and Carole another blog posting down the road.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Rocket Man!

If there was one rock star that shot to worldwide fame while we were at Vanderbilt (and has stayed there ever since) it is Elton John.

If there was one thing our generation was raised on, it was the thrill and excitement of watching man go into space. But what is astronaut flights became so routine that those blasting off were no longer conceived as heroes? That it was just an everyday occupation.

According to Wikipedia, this seems to be somewhat the premise behind the 1972 mega hit by Elton John written by Sir Elton himself and Bernie Taupin. "Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long, Long Time)" came out at a time very near the end of the Apollo moon flights, followed by an overall decrease in public interest in space. The song was included on the "Honky Chateau" album and was a part of a string of Elton John hits that year, preceded by "Tiny Dancer" and followed by "Honky Cat."

It rose as high as #6 on the U.S. charts and #2 in the U.K. Here as nominated by for our 40th Class Reunion CD is "Rocket Man".....

Remember if you have favorite songs to suggest for our VU Centennial Class 40th Reunion CD leave your suggestions here in the comments section of the blog. Or leave a message on our Class Facebook page.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Another First for the VU Centennial Class

When you graduated four decades ago, there's not much new you can say you can do that no other class in Vanderbilt University history has ever done.

But this year, for our 40th Reunion Party on Friday, October 4, we'll get the chance to beat that drum.

The VU Centennial Class (the Classs of 1973) will be the first in Vanderbilt history to hold its Reunion at Rand Hall!

Now as Class Reunion Chairman Steven Griel says: "This is not your mother's Rand Hall."

Sure, the outside (above) may look familar from those warm fall and spring days when we used Rand Terrace like it was part of our student center (It was our student center...The Madison Sarratt Center did open until the fall AFTER we graduated).

With the VU Bookstore (above) now moved to West End Avenue, the remaining space in old Rand has been completely renovated to create the new Rand Lounge. It provides flexible seating and event (party!)space for up to 300 people. 

That will give us the chance to have a large space already beautifully decorated for the evening. To that we can add mood lighting; air conditioning (you'll remember it can be quite hot and humid in Nashville in early October); a DJ playing hits of the early '70s; and lots to eat (VU Catering will be dishing up a cocktail buffett featuring  some of our favorite items from those legendaryVandy area restaurants of the day).

It's everything we need to "party like a rock star" while we are still young enough to do it!

So follow the link below to learn more and let us know you plan to attend....

The Dock Of The Bay

The latest song to be nominated (by Beth O'Shea) for our VU Centennial Class CD is "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay " by Otis Redding.

Tragically, the song, written by Redding and guitarist Steve Cropper, was recorded during Redding's final sessions in Stax Records' Memphis studios on November 22 and December 8. 1967. Literally just days later on December 10, Redding was among 7 people killed when their plane crashed into Lake Monona outside Madison, Wisconsin while the artist was continuing a tour.

"Dock of the Bay" was a very different kind of song for Redding. In fact there were concerns before it was released that it had too much of a pop sound and there was consideration of bringing in The Staple Singers to do some backup vocals to add to the record. Redding himself reportedly intended to add additional words to the end of the song to replace the evocative whistling he did.

Fortunately, neiter of those things happened, and the song, released as a single in January, 1968 soared to the top of the charts (both Rock and R&B) for four weeks in March becoming the first such posthumous song to reach #1. It is Redding's most successful recording selling more than 4 million copies worldwide and garnering more that 8 million airplays. It won two Grammys for Best R&B Song and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.

Here it is, courtesy of YouTube.....

If you have favorite song suggestions to add to our CD to be played at our Class Reunion Party at the newly renovated Rand Hall on Friday, October 4th, leave them here or place them on our Class Facebook page.