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Mark Blackburn

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  1. DOYLE DYKES - Random late night pickin' Google for “public domain / copyright” and be reminded that, “If a book, song, movie, or artwork is in the public domain, then it is not protected by intellectual property laws (copyright, trademark, or patent laws)—which means it's free for you to use without permission. ... As a general rule, most works enter the public domain because of old age.” Just thought of this when my finger-style guitar hero Doyle Dykes shared with fans a 'late night video' of him playing a song which “entered the public domain January 1, 2021" – HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY GAL. Doyle noted that the song was “composed by Ray Henderson” (one of the principal hit-song writers of the 1920s) and performs it here beautifully – on a “re-acquired” signature model Taylor steel string acoustic with as he says “dead strings.” But since those strings are Doyle Dykes signature model GHS strings, “they don't sound half bad!” Doyle performs it with a blend of styles -- his own and his mentors Chet Atkins and Merle Travis – reminiscent of stride-style piano in which this song was first played. As Wikipedia notes, "Has Anybody Seen My Girl? (Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue)" is an American popular song that achieved its greatest popularity in the 1920s. It is sometimes known as "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue"; the 1925 Leo Feist, Inc. sheet music gives both titles. And as of January 1, 2021, the song has fallen into the public domain.” Credit for the most popular version of the song, though, is given to Ray Henderson for the music, and Sam M. Lewis and Joseph Widow Young for the lyrics. It was this version that was recorded by The California Ramblers in 1925. Lucille Ball performs this song in an episode of I Love Lucy, and also in the episode of The Lucy Show titled "Lucy's College Reunion", in both performances playing the ukulele. In 1984, it was used by the Walter Mondale 1984 presidential campaign to introduce vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro (who was actually five feet, four inches).
  2. K.D. LANG & TONY BENNETT – Blue Velvet Years before Bobby Vinton introduced us 'baby boomers' to 'Blue Velvet' Tony Bennett first introduced the love song exactly 70 years ago – the version playing right now on Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio, “Nancy For Frank 10/21/2007” (followed, in what obviously is a 'blue' feature segment, by Johnny Mathis' When Sunny Gets Blue). Like Sinatra, early Tony Bennett sounded more like a tenor than a baritone; my own musical Dad always insisted “Sinatra's a tenor” – mistaking Frank's powerful upper range back when microphones weren't emphasizing Frank's even-stronger baritone notes. The song's Wikipedia entry has been expanded with an abundance of anecdotes, some of which weren't there the last time I checked! "Blue Velvet" is a popular song written and composed in 1950 by Bernie Wayne and Lee Morris. A top 20 hit for Tony Bennett in its original 1951 version, the song has since been re-recorded many times, with a 1963 version by Bobby Vinton reaching No. 1. Inspiration/ Composition Songwriter Bernie Wayne was inspired to begin writing "Blue Velvet" on a 1951 visit to Richmond, Virginia where he stayed at the Jefferson Hotel: at a party at the hotel Wayne continually caught sight of a female guest dressed in blue velvet with whom he would have a holiday romance.[1][2] The song's co-writer Bernie Wayne had pitched "Blue Velvet" to Columbia Records head A&R man Mitch Miller, who as soon as he'd heard the song's opening measure: "She wore blue velvet", had suggested giving the song to Tony Bennett. (Wayne's response: "Don't you want to hear the rest of the song?", caused Miller to opine: "Quit while you're ahead!")[3] Recorded in a July 17, 1951 session with the Percy Faith orchestra and released September 21, 1951, Bennett's version peaked at No. 11. New York Times music journalist Stephen Holden would vaunt "Blue Velvet" as one of the four tracks which defined the first phase of Bennett's recording career: according to Holden "Blue Velvet" along with "Because of You" (1951), "Cold, Cold Heart" (1951), and "Stranger in Paradise" (1953), "stand as the gorgeous final flowering of the high-romantic style invented in the 1940s by Sinatra [with] arranger Axel Stordahl. Pure and throbbing, ...Bennett's voice adds a semi-operatic heft to Sinatra's more intimate crooning style. Male pop singing since [the mid-1950s] has never been [so] unabashedly sweet." A live version of "Blue Velvet" was featured on the 1962 concert album Tony Bennett at Carnegie Hall,[12] [and] Bennett dueted with k.d. lang on a remake of "Blue Velvet" for his 2011 album Duets II,[14] while Bennett's 2012 album Viva Duets featured Bennett duetting on "Blue Velvet" with Maria Gadú, who sang her part in Portuguese.[15] ("Blue Velvet" was a bonus cut on an edition of Viva Duets sold exclusively through Target.) ---- Google for Tony's version (1951) and it's not to be found. Even better, perhaps – the first offering this night, with 3.6 million “views” – Tony's duet with the best-ever jazz singer from Alberta Canada. Posted ten years ago, the most recent “comment” from “Julie Lara 1 year ago” speaks for millions of us: “Now at 55 years young I can recall hearing Bennett singing as I woke to his music being played by my parents. Sincere gratitude to them for introducing real music to me, music with meaningful lyrics and wonderfully written music. I have never stopped enjoying Tony and his style is pure elegance and class. I first heard KD when I came out in my late teens. She draws you in with her smooth voice and passionate reactions to the music. She makes me feel it deep in my soul. Loved her then, love her more now. THIS IS TRULY MUSIC AT IT"S BEST!!"
  3. If I could keep only one Sinatra song . . . We have a bird feeder in our back yard kept well-stocked with my special seed mixture (heavy on the raw sunflower seeds); I'll sit nearby in a lawn chair and sing the song they're most familiar-with: 'I Thought About You.' My favorite Sinatra song. Period. The moment I start to sing it, the bravest (and smallest) – my favorites, the chickadees and nuthatches are immediately there, on the nearest branch, two feet away. Whenever I sang it to my youngest granddaughters, they'd usually indulge me with a smile, when I say: “That's by Johnny Mercer. Someday he'll be your favorite too!” ---- Since the last time I looked, someone has added an anecdote to the song's (one line) Wikipedia entry [that] “I Thought About You is a 1939 popular song composed by Jimmy Van Heusen with lyrics by Johnny Mercer.” “The lyrics were inspired by Mercer's train trip to Chicago.[2] Mercer said about the song: The official version at YouTube (“remastered 1998”) says “comments are turned off.” A pity. I singled this one out at the close of a two-page letter that opened with . . . December 17, 1992 Dear Mr. Sinatra: This letter may never reach you, but it needs to be written because of the way I'm feeling right now. About your music . . . [and closed with] “On a personal note: my absolute favorite song of yours, for reasons I can't really explain, is 'I Thought About You.' Maybe it's the deceptively simple, elegant music by that genius who began life as 'Chester Babcock' (Van Heusen). Or the brilliant lyric by the century's greatest lyricist. Or the gem of an arrangement by my favorite American arranger (Riddle) with all those train sounds, that have you swinging down the track. All wrapped up in a song I never heard before – there's not many of those! Oh hell, let's face it – it's the singer! The song wouldn't be what it is, without you. Merry Christmas 1992. Or '93 if this reaches you before then!” In my sock drawer, where loved ones are sure to find it, is a note of reply, from “Frank Sinatra 5757 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 240 Los Angeles,” dated 20 January 1993: Dear Mark, Thank you very much for your letter of December 17. I am flattered by your kind words and greatly appreciate your interest in my music … It was so nice of you to take the time to write! Here's wishing you and your family a very healthy and happy New Year! Keep listening! All the best, [bright blue fountain pen signature:] Frank Sinatra
  4. The very first Gibson Les Paul guitar goes to the highest bidder this week Les Paul's first signature model 'gold top' solid-body electric from Gibson will be auctioned at Christie's in NYC October 13. The auction house expects it to sell for at least 100-to-150-thousand dollars. My musical sister in Toronto just phoned to say it was “featured today on 'CBS Sunday Morning' – it'll be at their website.” [Sure enough:] Gibson rolled out its first Les Paul in 1952. It was soon embraced by the guitar gods of rock 'n' roll: The Eagles' Joe Walsh, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, and The Stones' Keith Richards all played a Les Paul. "It's one of those perfect rock 'n' roll machines," said Kerry Keane, of Christie's. "It has the ability to be driven at very high volume with a distortion level that is appealing and wonderful." Les Paul, who died in 2009 at age 94, was a guitar god himself. In the Fifties, with his then-wife, Mary Ford, he had 28 hit records, including his signature tune, "How High the Moon" (1951). CBS included a link to an official version at YouTube whose “comments are turned off” – a pity.
  5. SINATRA – (How Little it Matters) How Little We know Nancy's good friend James Darren is “Playing Favorites for the next hour, here on Siriusly Sinatra” (channel 71) and as usual, I'm loving the selections. There was a time a Wise Man or Woman could inform me at the now defunct Sinatra Family Forum that “this show first played in 2018.” Then I'd share with his Facebook page which recently featured a photo of James and Nancy. He opened today's show with an early recollection: “For as long as I can remember Frank Sinatra's music has been a part of my life. And for almost 50 years the Sinatra family has been with me, professionally and personally, as dear friends. “When I was a teenager growing up in south Philly, my buddies and I would hang out at 'Sam's Luncheonette' – it was a great place [that included] three booths, a lunch counter, pinball machines and a juke box – on which, in 1956 I played Sinatra's 'How Little We Know' – until it was nearly worn out. "Now here's the original recording, with the wonderful Nelson Riddle arrangement.” ---- From the “Sinatra's Sinatra” 60's collection, this song features a deceptively simple yet brilliant lyric from my favorite female lyricist Carolyn (The Best is Yet to Come) Leigh. Who cares to define, what chemistry THIS is? Who cares, with your lips on mine, how ignorant BLISS is? One official upload to YouTube by “Frank Sinatra” whose “comments are turned off.” A pity.
  6. STEVE TYRELL -- Walk On By Yesterday on channel 71 satellite radio Sinatra family friend Steve Tyrell hosted a new “Playing Favorites” show – “my new favorite” I have to say -- not least for all the wonderful anecdotes Steve shared about working with giants like Ray Charles and Quincy Jones and his fondest musical memories involving his dear late friend and collaborator, Frank Sinatra Jr. Hit the 'back 1 hour' button and it's Steve – with a track from his latter day “Back to Bacharach” album – celebrating the music of Burt B and the words of Hal David. A great lyricist who left us in 2012 at age 91 Mr. David had a unique lyrical style that featured artless alliterations (like these): “I just can't get over losing you, so if I seem, broken and blue -- walk on by . . . ” Only one share of Steve's version at YouTube this day -- labeled “2018 Remaster” – with “comments turned off” (a pity). Wikipedia notes: "Walk On By" is a song composed by Burt Bacharach, with lyrics by Hal David, for singer Dionne Warwick in 1963.[1] The song peaked at number 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the Cash Box Rhythm and Blues Chart In June 1964 and was nominated for a 1965 Grammy Award for the Best Rhythm and Blues Recording. Isaac Hayes recorded the song five years later, in 1969, and reached number 30 on the Hot 100 chart and number 13 in the R&B charts[2] with his version. "Walk On By" has since charted numerous times in various countries, with wildly different arrangements. The original version of "Walk On By" by Dionne Warwick was recorded at the same December 1963 session that yielded her hit "Anyone Who Had a Heart". The song was ranked number 70 on the Rolling Stone list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, the second highest song by a solo female on the list after "Respect" by Aretha Franklin.[4] "Walk On By" became Warwick's second international million seller following "Anyone Who Had A Heart" in January 1964. [Separate Wiki footnote of interest to my compatriots!] The Toronto folk-rock group Bobby Kris and the Imperials released a fairly straight-ahead cover version in late 1965. The single became a major hit in Canada, reaching number 8 in early 1966, but "Walk On By" was to be the band's only hit.
  7. SINATRA - Autumn in New York After celebrating Tony Bennett's wonderful rendition of AUTUMN IN NEW YORK -- "my other favorite version” -- there's this one by Frank: set to a gorgeous string arrangement from Billy May (the Come Fly With Me album). Grateful to a Facebook friend in Italy Irene Soggia for sharing this version; I see my namesake 'reviewed' this upload to YouTube “2 years ago” in appreciation for the beautiful slide show from a Miss “Fiore DiPesco” (worth a re-post, you may agree). The only one of his hit songs for which composer Vernon Duke wrote the words as well as the tune. Recorded by so many artists but Sinatra's was the only version to achieve chart success ( No. 27 in 1948) . Vernon Duke's lyricists included many of the greats (Johnny Mercer, Ogden Nash and Sammy Cahn); his best known melodies were given words by John Latouche (TAKING A CHANCE ON LOVE) Yip Harburg (APRIL IN PARIS) and Ira Gershwin (I CAN'T GET STARTED). This arrangement sounds like Nelson Riddle, but this lovely strings orchestration was by Billy May -- for Sinatra's 1958 classic COME FLY WITH ME album.
  8. TONY BENNETT - Maybe September / Autumn in New York The computer screen, now streaming “Siriusly Sinatra” satellite radio, reads: "Ch. 71 @FrankSinatra The Chairman's Hour" ... which just played two consecutive gems from the world's greatest living singer Tony Bennett – 'alone together' circa 1977 with the most influential jazz piano giant Bill Evans -- their version of a movie theme song Tony had introduced years earlier – MAYBE SEPTEMBER. Unsurpassed, to this day -- "solo piano supporting one male singer" -- it never got better than this, you may agree. “You're listening to The Chairman's Hour – exclusively on Siriusly Sinatra.” Show host Charles Pignone followed up immediately with Tony and his longest-serving piano accompanist Ralph Sharon -- my “other favorite” version of Autumn in New York. Only one upload of same at YouTube tonight – this one.
  9. JAMES TAYLOR - The Secret of Life I have at least three James Taylor 'concert' DVDs but One Man Band is my favorite. The song selection -- and accompanying videos -- are terrific. As is the "stunning sound quality." If I could keep only one James Taylor song to take to the proverbial desert island, it would be The Secret of Life -- this latter-day concert performance, even over the studio recording that first gave me goosebumps 45 years ago. (Still does). This version nearing 1.4 million views I see my namesake 'reviewed' a year ago, with a focus on the science behind the words: "Now the thing about time is that time isn't really real." A Facebook friend shared a science article: "A NEW THEORY ON TIME INDICATES PRESENT AND FUTURE EXIST SIMULTANEOUSLY" [!] I replied, Or as St. James Taylor said in my favorite of his songs (SECRET OF LIFE) in speaking of Einstein's theory and the passage of time -- here on earth, not hurtling at light speed through the void: "Now the thing about time, is that time isn't really real. It's just your point of view: How does it feel to you? Einstein said he could never understand it all: planets spinning through space; the smile upon your face. Welcome to the Human Race!"
  10. JANE POWELL - Too Late Now “She starred in 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' I said to my Irene, knowing that that movie musical with Jane Powell was one of the first movies my wife ever saw in a theater. “I remember,” she said, “and I liked Jane Powell.” Her death wasn't announced in any media (that I saw) but my favorite jazz singer/guitarist John Pizzarelli noted her passing yesterday on his live-streamed “It's 5 o'clock Somewhere” Playing for Tips program. John informed fans that Jane Powell “passed this week” and to mark a 70th anniversary, he wanted to play “Too Late Now” – from the film musical “Royal Wedding” (1951) – my favorite ballad by Alan Jay (My Fair Lady) Lerner, and Burton (Finian's Rainbow) Lane. From a gentler time, remember? Jane Powell's spoken dialogue (with a future member of Sinatra's Rat Pack) is in German! (Who knew?) Posted to YouTube four years ago – the only version offered this day. Pizzarelli, John and Jessica -- their 'live' show yesterday (9/23/2011) at Facebook. I guarantee you will love, or double your money back. https://www.facebook.com/JohnPizzarelliOfficial/videos/4207317762671010/
  11. PEGGY LEE – If I Should Lose You “I gave you my love, and I was living a dream, but living would seem in vain if I lost you …. ” Somewhere in the basement, in a box with other once-treasured CDs, is THE MAN I LOVE – the Peggy Lee album arranged by Nelson Riddle with “orchestra conducted by Frank Sinatra.” Frank got around to recording it on his “L.A is My Lady” album (1984) with an uptempo Billy May arrangement. At this moment the Siriusly Sinatra radio graphic streaming on my computer shows the original Peggy Lee album cover for my “other favorite version” of If I Should Lose You – which has its own, single sentence Wikipedia note [below] followed by a long list of favorite artists who recorded it. "If I Should Lose You" is a song composed by Ralph Rainger, with lyrics by Leo Robin. It was introduced in the 1936 film Rose of the Rancho.[1] Notable recordings[edit] Geri Allen – Twenty One (1994) Chet Atkins – Stay Tuned (1985) Georgia Brown − Georgia Brown (1963).[2] Betty Carter − Feed the Fire (1993) June Christy − Day Dreams (1995), Cool Christy (2002) Chick Corea and Stefano Bollani – Orvieto (2010) Fabien Degryse − Fingerswinging (2011) Dena DeRose − I Can See Clearly Now (2000) Jane Ira Bloom – Slalom (1988) Lou Donaldson – Sweet Poppa Lou (1981) Aretha Franklin – Unforgettable: A Tribute to Dinah Washington (1964) The Four Freshmen − Voices in Latin (1958).[3] Grant Green – Born to be Blue (1962) Al Haig − Al Haig Trio (1954) Jan Harbeck Quartet - In the Still of the Night (2008) Dick Haymes − The Complete Capitol Collection (2006), Moondreams (1955) Richard Himber and His Orchestra (vocal by Stuart Allen) - a popular recording in 1936.[4] Shirley Horn – Embers and Ashes (1959) Milt Jackson, Grady Tate, Ray Brown and Oscar Peterson − Ain't But a Few of Us Left (1981) Keith Jarrett − Standards, Vol.2 (1985) Isham Jones and His Orchestra (vocal by Woody Herman) - recorded October 30, 1935 for Decca Records (catalog No. 605B).[5] Peggy Lee − The Man I Love (1957) Booker Little – Booker Little and Friend (1961) Julie London − Sophisticated Lady (1962) Freddy Martin and His Orchestra - recorded for Brunswick Records (catalog 7538) on October 2, 1935.[6] Carmen McRae and George Shearing – Two for the Road (1980) Hank Mobley − Soul Station (1960) Mulgrew Miller − Live at the Kennedy Center, Vol. 1 (2006) Charlie Parker − Charlie Parker with Strings (1950) Oscar Peterson – Tracks (1970) Harry Richman - recorded February 5, 1936 for Decca Records (catalog No. 702B).[7] Kurt Rosenwinkel − Deep Song (2005) Nina Simone − A Single Woman (1993), Wild is the Wind (1966) Frank Sinatra − L.A. Is My Lady (1984) Jimmy Smith – Crazy! Baby (1960) Keely Smith - What Kind of Fool Am I? (1962).[8] Sonny Stitt – Sonny Stitt Plays (1955) Bobby Timmons – From the Bottom (1964) McCoy Tyner – Afro Blue (2007) Dinah Washington – Tears and Laughter (1962)[9]
  12. DORIS DAY - Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair) “....just before the dawn was breaking, I peeked in and on her bed, in gay profusion, lying there – lovely ribbons – scarlet ribbons, for her hair. If I live to be two hundred, I will always know from where, came those lovely ribbons, scarlet ribbons for her hair." It's 2 a.m. and I awoke thinking of a song my Mom loved -- I haven't heard any version in years -- and sure enough: it's playing right now on Siriusly Sinatra satellite radio! Doris Day's version of Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair) which changes the lyric into a statement of Faith. A woman of faith, my Mom always told us, “There ARE no coincidences.” You know what she meant. The song has a Wikipedia entry (below). First version at YouTube this night with an endearing slide show and most recent comment from "Paul Levine" 2 years ago My grandmother wrote this song. I remember her singing it to me at her piano when I was a kid. I now help produce music festivals. Her passion resonated with me and led me on my path. "Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair)" is a popular song. The music was written by Evelyn Danzig and the lyrics by Jack Segal. The song has become a standard with many recorded versions and has appeared on several Christmas albums. "Scarlet Ribbons" was written in only 15 minutes in 1949 at Danzig's home in Port Washington, New York after she invited lyricist Segal to hear her music.[1] The song tells a miraculous tale: a father hears his small daughter pray before she goes to bed for "scarlet ribbons for her hair". It is late, no stores are open in their town, nor is there anywhere the dad can obtain the ribbons so he is distraught throughout the night. At dawn he again peeps in and is amazed to see beautiful "scarlet ribbons" in "gay profusion lying there." He says that if he lives to be a hundred, he will never know from where the ribbons came.
  13. TONY BENNETT -- All For You My life-long guitar hero Chet Atkins told me in a 1971 radio interview that the “only autograph” he ever sought was Django Reinhardt's – in NYC, on what would prove to be Django's final days of a visit to America, shortly before his sudden death in 1953, at age 43. Django's most famous – and arguably most beautiful, melody was titled “Nuages” (Clouds). His considerable Wikipedia entry doesn't mention that Tony Bennett (who turned 95 last month) composed a lovely lyric for the song – which Tony re-titled ALL FOR YOU. Mr. Bennett's Facebook page just shared with fans that particular track, from Tony's 2004 album “The Art of Romance” (which won the Grammy for “Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album”). Still my favorite Tony Bennett album, including as it does my all-time favorite version (with a Johnny Mandel arrangement) of Johnny Mercer's own personal favorite of the many songs he wrote I REMEMBER YOU; that song, plus this wonderful tune whose melody was already half a century old before Tony came up with just the right words -- and performed so beautifully, you may agree. The extended guitar solo on the musical bridge is by my favorite of Tony' jazz guitarists, Gray Sargent – playing his signature model Yamaha electric archtop.
  14. DOYLE DYKES - A Call to Freedom (9/11) A three minute masterpiece – and maybe my favorite composition by finger-style guitar virtuoso Doyle Dykes. From the opening notes, “like a distress signal” says Doyle – to the closing 'harp' harmonics, and that wonderful strumming upwards to elicit the deep bass tones last, as the sound fades to silence …. what a performance. As always, Doyle may have made a mistake, but I didn't hear it. The TONE of that instrument is amazing! – a 1958 Gibson J-185, “same guitar body, essentially,” says Doyle “that the Everly Brothers played.” And “similar to a J-200 shape but smaller.” And the attractive split parallelogram inlays on the neck that first appeared on Southern Jumbo (deluxe model) J-45s circa 1941. Permit an aside: When I interviewed Chet Atkins, on his only visit to my hometown of Ottawa Canada, the summer of '71 -- when he appeared with Boots Randolph and Floyd Cramer at our glorified 'state fair' -- he recommended that I purchase "an old Gibson – but one that's been played a lot” (not kept in a case, unused). “They sound so fine,” said Mr. Atkins. Case in point. Thanks for sharing, Doyle Dykes. Just listened a second time to A Call to Freedom and got goose bumps all over again! Tears of joy.
  15. JOE GRANSDEN – She Was Too Good To Me Middle of the night -- quarter to two – and just had to check channel 71 Sirius/XM to see what I'm missing. After playing my favorite living singer Calabria Foti – her achingly beautiful rendition (from her recent all Cole Porter album) “I Concentrate on You” Siriusly Sinatra is introducing us to someone new – and very good: singer Joe Gransden with Rodgers & Hart's early gem, She Was Too Good To Me. Mostly solo piano accompaniment, with a gorgeous trumpet solo on the musical bridge. Is it at YouTube? Yes. From Joe's “Songs of Sinatra & Friends – With Big Band and Strings” CD.
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