Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Rhythm & Blues” Edition, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Led Zeppelin, Since Ive Been Loving You, Album: Led Zeppelin III 1970

The Greatest Led Zeppelin Blues Song might be their most melancholy of all. Released in 1970 on their third record, “Since I’ve Been Loving You,” as so many blues songs do, tells the tale of a hard-working man and a up-to-no-good cheating woman who has caused him to “lose his worried mind.” Minus an intro lick borrowed from the Yardbirds’ song “New York City Blues,” it’s a wholly original composition that features some of the best guitar work Page ever laid down – as well as some of the most bombastic vocals Robert Plant was ever able to belt out. For the musicianship, the minor-key swing and the downright depressing content it is undoubtedly the best blues number in Zeppelin’s vast back catalog.A seven-and-a-half minute blues number with some electric piano played by Led Zeppelin bass player John Paul Jones, this was a live favorite for the band. They started working on the song during the sessions for Led Zeppelin II, but was bumped for “Whole Lotta Love.” By the time they recorded it for Led Zeppelin III, they had worked out the song in live performances, but according to Jimmy Page, it was still the hardest track to record for the album. The guitarist says they were getting very self-critical around this time.

Before this song was committed to tape, Led Zeppelin performed it at their famous January 9, 1970 concert at Royal Albert Hall in London. The show was filmed and recorded, but the keyboards didn’t make it into the mix on this track, so the song was not included on the 2003 DVD Led Zeppelin, which featured footage from the show.

This is a very difficult song to sing, and it showed off Robert Plant’s vocal range quite well. He said in a 2003 interview with Mojo: “The musical progression at the end of each verse – the chord choice – is not a natural place to go. And it’s that lift up there that’s so regal and so emotional. I don’t know whether that was born from the loins of JP or JPJ, but I know that when we reached that point in the song you could get a lump in the throat from being in the middle of it.”

This was recorded live in the studio with very little overdubbing. If you listen carefully, you can hear the squeak of John Bonham’s drum pedal.

Jimmy Page did his guitar solo in one take. Engineer Terry Manning called it “The best rock guitar solo of all time.”Plant used a sample from this on his solo track “White, Clean, and Neat.”

Just before their Physical Grafitti tour, Jimmy Page broke the tip of his left ring finger in a door-slamming incident. They went on with the tour but they had to drop this and “Dazed And Confused” from the set lists as he couldn’t play them until his finger healed.

The riff in the beginning is taken from “New York City Blues” by The Yardbirds – Jimmy Page was not a member of that band yet when the group wrote that song.

The track was recorded live (except for the vocals part and a few overdubs) at Island Studios in London. This features John Paul Jones on both bass pedal and organ. Interestingly, Jimmy Page’s famous solo was recorded in a studio in Memphis, whereas the whole album was recorded in Headley Grange and in Island Studios.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Rhythm & Blues” Edition, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Billie Holiday, Strange Fruit Album: The Billie Holiday Story 1939

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of Billie Holiday. Although her voice was small and raspy, she interpreted songs from Tin Pan Alley with a rhythmic and melodic inventiveness that transformed the tunes into highly personal expressions.

She made her first recordings at the age of 18 in 1933 and her last in 1959 shortly before her death. In between those years she changed the art of jazz and pop singing. She influenced everyone from Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra to contemporary singers Madeleine Peyroux and Norah Jones.

Strange fruit was written by a white, Jewish schoolteacher and union activist from New York City named Abel Meeropol, who was outraged after seeing a photograph of a horrific lynching in a civil-rights magazine. The photo was a shot of two black men hanging from a tree after they had been lynched in Marion, Indiana on August 7, 1930. The two men are the “Strange Fruit.”

The original title was “Bitter Fruit,” and the song started as a poem Meeropol wrote. The poem was published in the January 1937 issue of a union publication called The New York Teacher. After putting music to it, the song was performed regularly at various left-wing gatherings. Meeropol’s wife and friends from the local teachers’ union would sing it, but it was also performed by a black vocalist named Laura Duncan, who once performed it at Madison Square Garden.

This was performed by a quartet of black singers during an antifascist fundraiser at a show put on by Robert Gordon, who was also working on the floor show at a club called Cafe Society. Billie Holiday had just quit Artie Shaw’s band and was the featured attraction at the club, and Gordon brought the song to her attention and suggested she sing it. Holiday played to an integrated audience at the Cafe Society, and her version popularized the song.

Meeropol made headlines when he adopted the orphan sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg after their parents were executed for treason in 1953. He also wrote the lyrics to the song “The House I Live In,” which was recorded by Frank Sinatra, as well as “Beloved Comrade,” which was often sung in tributes to Franklin Roosevelt, and “Apples, Peaches, and Cherries,” which was recorded by Peggy Lee. Meeropol died in 1986.

In 1971, Meeropol said, “I wrote ‘Strange Fruit’ because I hate lynching, I hate injustice, and I hate the people who perpetuate it.”

Victims of lynchings were people who were marginalized from society, and most were black men. They were lynched for a variety of reasons, often because they did something to upset a prominent member of the community, who would then organize a mob to track down and kill the victim. Many times, the victims broke no laws but were lynched out of jealousy, hatred or religious difference. In America, lynchings were more common in the South, but could happen anywhere.

In a lynching, people could be hanged, burned, dragged behind cars and killed in a number of different ways. Most lynchings were carried out by small, clandestine groups, but some were public spectacles. The one that inspired this song was in front of about 5,000 people in Marion, Indiana. Extra excursion cars were set up on trains so people could come to watch.In her autobiography, Holiday’s cover of this song made it more mainstream.

Meeropol often had other people put his poems to music, but with this he did it himself.

Columbia Records, Holiday’s label, refused to release this. She had to release it on Commodore Records, a much smaller label.

This was always the last song Holiday played at her concerts. It signaled that the show was over. (Thanks to Gode Davis, director of the film American Lynching for his help with these Songfacts. You can learn more about this song in David Margolick’s book Strange Fruit.

In 1999, Time magazine voted this the Song of the Century. When the song first came out it was denounced by the same magazine as “A piece of musical propaganda.”

Nona Hendryx would often perform this song, adding in parts of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Hendryx told us: “It’s a cathartic performance for me to do that song. It’s like healing, and healing’s what happens. And hopefully it can reach the ears and the minds and the hearts of people who are still feeling any bigotry, hatred, racism, to understand that this was a painful time in our history, in our past and in America. And that we need to move on from there.”

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Rhythm & Blues” edition, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Aretha Franklin, Think. Album: Aretha Now 1968

Franklin wrote this with Teddy White, who was her husband and manager. In the song, Aretha sings about freedom and respect for women.

Jerry Wexler, who worked with Franklin on many of her hit songs, produced this track at the Atlantic Records recording studios in New York. Members of the Muscle Shoals rhythm section played at the session.

This song was released on May 2, 1968, less than a month after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4. Franklin’s family was close to King, and Aretha attended his funeral. The song’s insistent refrain of “freedom” evoked one of King’s famous quotes: “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last.”

Franklin performed this in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers, starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. Her career was experiencing a lull at that point, so she was happy to get back into the public eye with the film. A few years later, she was back on top with her hits “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” and “Freeway of Love.”

The Blues Brothers themselves also recorded the song, which was released as the B-side of their 1989 UK single “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love.”

“Think” is one of Franklin’s most enduring songs, and one she often performed live. It was the sixth of her 20 #1 singles on the R&B chart.

Leading up to the 2018 midterm elections in America, Levi’s used this in a commercial encouraging people to vote. The spot mostly used the “freedom” part of the song.

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Looks like Rammstein are coming to Amerika in 2020, and it will be wunderbar! The legendary German band have shared a map of North America with highlighted states, most likely teasing a run of live shows.

Rammstein’s map highlights the states of California, Texas, Minnesota, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and Massachusetts. As for Canada, the province of Quebec is highlighted, while Mexico City looks to be Rammstein’s destination south of the border.

Rammstein posted the map to their Facebook page, linking fans to their website, where the first few lines of “Amerika” plays as the map fills out. The band also invite fans to join a mailing list to receive further details of Rammstein’s 2020 news.

RAMMSTEIN WILL TOUR NORTH AMERICA IN 2020

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Rhythm & Blues” Edition, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Robert Johnson Crossroad Blues Album: Crossroad Blues 1936

Musician Robert Johnson was born on May 8, 1911, in Hazlehurst, Mississippi. A singer and guitarist, Johnson is considered to be one of the greatest blues performers of all time. But this recognition came to him largely after his death. During his brief career, Johnson traveled around, playing wherever he could.

According to legend, as a young man living on a plantation in rural Mississippi, Johnson had a tremendous desire to become a great blues musician. He was instructed to take his guitar to a crossroad near Dockery Plantation at midnight. There he was met by a large black man (the Devil) who took the guitar and tuned it. The Devil played a few songs and then returned the guitar to Johnson, giving him mastery of the instrument. This story of a deal with the Devil at the crossroads mirrors the legend of Faust. In exchange for his soul, Johnson was able to create the blues for which he became famous.

The legendary crossroads at Clarksdale, Mississippi

Cross Road Blues” (also known as “Crossroads“) is a blues song written and recorded by American blues artist Robert Johnson in 1936. Johnson performed it as a solo piece with his vocal and acoustic slide guitar in the Delta blues-style. The song has become part of the Robert Johnson mythology as referring to the place where he supposedly sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his musical talents, although the lyrics do not contain any specific references.

Bluesman Elmore James revived the song with recordings in 1954 and 1960–1961. English guitarist Eric Clapton with Cream popularized the song as “Crossroads” in the late 1960s. Their blues rock interpretation inspired many cover versions and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included it as one of the “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”. Rolling Stone placed it at number three on the magazine’s list of the “Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time” in recognition of Clapton’s guitar work.

Studio portrait ( 1935), one of only two verified photographs of Johnson

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“So What” By Miles Davis, Album: Kinda Blue 1959

Who Was Miles Davis? 

Instrumental in the development of jazz, Miles Davis is considered one of the top musicians of his era. Born in Illinois in 1926, he traveled at age 18 to New York City to pursue music. 

Throughout his life, he was at the helm of a changing concept of jazz. Winner of eight Grammy awards, Miles Davis died in 1991 from respiratory distress in Santa Monica, California.

Kind of Blue

Davis recorded several albums with his sextet during the 1950s, including Porgy and Bess and Kind of Blue, his final album of the decade, released in 1959. Now considered one of the greatest jazz albums ever recorded, Kind of Blue is credited as the largest-selling jazz album of all time, selling more than 2 million copies.

Davis continued to be be successful throughout the 1960s. His band transformed over time, largely due to new band members and changes in style. The various members of his band went on to become some of the most influential musicians of the jazz fusion era. These included Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul (Weather Report), Chick Corea (Return to Forever), and John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham (Mahavishnu Orchestra).

This was the opening track on Kind Of Blue, which is arguably the biggest-selling Jazz album of all time. It was recorded by Miles Davis in 2 days giving only brief instructions to a new band – yet all tracks were recorded in one take. It is also counted by many as the greatest Jazz album of all time and ranks at or near the top of many “best album” lists. Rolling Stone magazine, for instance, placed it 12th on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

In 2007 this was voted the best-ever Jazz record in a poll of listeners of the UK radio station Jazz FM.

George Cole, who wrote The Last Miles: The Music of Miles Davis, 1980-1991, explains why Davis is so important: “Miles Davis is to jazz is what Mozart is to classical music or The Beatles are to popular music. He is by far the most influential jazz musician of all time and it’s unlikely that anyone will ever supplant this position. He started out as a teenager playing bebop (a frenetic style of jazz) with the saxophonist giant Charlie Parker, and ended almost 50 years later, combining jazz with hip-hop. He recorded the best known album in jazz (Kind of Blue) while still in his early 30s and it contains the best known jazz track: ‘So What.'” (For more on Miles Davis,read our interview with George Cole.)

This was one of three tracks on Kind Of Blue that was originally recorded in the wrong key later to be tidied up on re-releases (the other two were “Freddie Freeloader” and “Blue in Green”).

Miles Davis in 1958. Credit…Dennis Stock/Magnum Photos

Jazz Corner

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Rhythm & Blues” Edition, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Shining Star By Earth, Wind And Fire. Album: Thats The Way Of The World. 1975

Written by group members Maurice White, Larry Dunn and Philip Bailey, this was a #1 hit on both the R&B and Hot 100 charts. While many hits of the disco era were fun but meaningless, Earth, Wind & Fire considered all their songs meaningful, and this one projects a positive message in a turbulent time. To get a better idea, check out this quote from Maurice White from a 1975 Blues & Soul interview:

“There are certain disciplines we apply to our life in respect of diet and living, the way we live. There are certain aspects which have to be kept clean, things that relate directly to the Creator. By adopting a totally positive approach to our life, we can reflect this in our music – we won’t allow it to reflect any negative vibes or thoughts. All our music is ‘up’ in the sense that it is intended to bring people to that state. It is truly gratifying to know that we are finally getting to people, they are accepting us.”

Want to get deeper into White’s vibe? Check out the book The Greatest Salesman In The World, which he had Allee Willis read before she collaborated with the group.

That’s The Way Of The World was the soundtrack to a movie of the same name starring a young Harvey Keitel as a record producer and Earth, Wind & Fire as the group he worked with. The movie was a colossal flop, but the album was a huge hit, capturing the sound of the band’s successful stage show on vinyl and going to #1 on the album charts, making EW&F the first R&B group to top the US album and Pop charts at the same time. The album was the biggest seller for Columbia Records in 1975, and helped prove that black bands could sell albums, not just singles – something Maurice White took a lot of pride in.

The failure of the movie didn’t drag down the band thanks in part to Maurice White refusing to let the album be labeled a soundtrack. When the film was re-issued in America, it was with a new title: Shining Star.

Earth, Wind & Fire wrote and recorded the That’s The Way Of The World album in Nederland, Colorado, which is outside of Boulder. Maurice White says he came up with the idea for this song after taking a walk one night and seeing a shining star in the sky. He took the phrase and directed it toward a positive message for the lyrics.

This won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

This has been used in a variety of movies and TV shows. Among them: Glee, Seinfeld (used in a classic scene where Elaine tries to dance), Austin Powers in Goldmember, My Name Is Earl, and Muppets from Space.

A New Jersey vocal group called The Manhattans recorded a completely different song called “Shining Star” on their 1980 album After Midnight, taking it to #5 in the United States. Their “Star” won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal.

The Christian Metal band Stryper recorded this for their 1990 album Against the Law and made a video for it. They brought in a young go-getter named Randy Jackson to play bass on the track. Stryper lead singer Michael Sweet told us why they brought in the future American Idol judge: “Tim Gaines played on that album, and that was the one song that we were looking for a certain style – we wanted a particular style that Tim at the time just didn’t really play. It’d be like me playing jazz; if you don’t play that style, you don’t play that style. And we had mentioned this to Tom and Tom had mentioned it to us, as well, how great it would be get this guy, Randy Jackson, on the song. And I knew about him from Journey at the time, because he played with Journey. And Tom had worked with him on some records and said, ‘Oh, my gosh, this guy would tear this up.’ So sure enough, we called him, flew him in, and he laid that song down in a couple of hours, and just really brought a lot to it. If you can just imagine the song without that bass, it wouldn’t be the same. He really brought it to a new level.”

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