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"I wrote a number of songs that talked about being uneasy about fame. There are things about it that are odd, and should be questioned."

~ James Taylor

#songstories #jamestaylor

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"I'd been listening to a lot of classical music, and jazz. Having played rock and R&B for years, my vistas had opened up. When I met Keith, seeing his words, I thought, 'I'd like to write something to that.' They weren't obvious, but that doesn't matter. You don't have to know what he means, as long as you communicate an atmosphere. 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale' seemed to be about two people, a relationship even. It's a memory. There was a leaving, and a sadness about it. To get the soul of those lyrics across vocally, to make people feel that, was quite an accomplishment.

I remember the day it arrived: four very long stanzas, I thought, 'Here's something.' I happened to be at the piano when I read them, already playing a musical idea. It fitted the lyrics within a couple of hours. Things can be gifted. If you trace the chordal element, it does a bar or two of Bach's 'Air on a G String' before it veers off. That spark was all it took. I wasn't consciously combining rock with classical, it's just that Bach's music was in me."

~ Gary Brooker, Procol Harum

He was 60 or 61 for this performance. What a gorgeous voice and how remarkable to still be able to sing like that not only at that age but after that many years of performing. (Not an ageist comment - just the truth about most singers' vocal deterioration over time.)

#songstories #procolharum #songwriting

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"This is the signature song of Francisco Repilado, a.k.a Compay Segundo, a classic 'son', the standard of traditional Cuban music. What sets it apart from any other 'son' is the bass line and the syncopated melodic phrasings, or 'tumbao,' an integral part of Cuban rhythm. The two central characters, 'Juanica' and 'Chan Chan,' are legends of Cuban folklore; the lyrics capture the life and culture of the 'guajiro,' or peasant of rural Cuba. Compay himself was born in such a setting, in Oriente province, which is often referred to as the cradle and soul of Cuban music. As is commonly the case with Cuban lyrics, "Chan Chan" is a series of images without a clear narrative arc. Here, a poetic erotica is juxtaposed with - and made more poignant by-references to the back-breaking work of the sugar cane fields."

Source: PBS

#songstories #buenavistasocialclub #compaysegundo

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"Their (EWF's) stuff was very much based on Eastern philosophies, an incredibly positive outlook on life; the lyrical content of their songs was not typical of what would have been in soul music at that time. So when I left the studio that first day, Maurice gave me the name of a book, it was called The Greatest Salesman In The World, and he sent me to the Bodhi Tree, which is a very spiritual bookstore here in LA. I got that and a bunch of other books that the saleswoman said was the philosophy. And what went from being a very simple experience turned into, for me, an incredibly complex experience. Because I dove into these books.

And even the way they were written, the language they were written in, I kind of didn't understand anything. But Maurice told me right from the jump he thought I was a very spiritual person, and I was put here to communicate. And I thought, if Maurice was saying that to me, I need to hang with this.

I was pouring through these books for a couple of months. Lyrics started being 25-30 pages long as I'm trying to figure all this stuff out. Reading all that stuff changed me forever. He lead me to a path I've stayed on.

...So 'September' was fantastic and thrilling, and they had started the intro of it by the time I had walked into the studio to meet everyone. Just as I opened the door and I heard that little guitar intro, I thought, Oh God, please let this be what they want to work with me on. Because it was so obviously a hit."

"Maurice had that very first line, and I said to him, 'Why the 21st?' Because I'm someone who likes to tie up all the ends very neatly, so if I'm saying the 21st, I want to know during the song what's the significance. But he always told me there was no real significance. So whether that's true or not I can't say. But as far as I know, it's just something that sang really well. And I would say the main lesson I learned from Earth, Wind & Fire, especially Maurice White, was never let a lyric get in the way of a groove. Ultimately it's the feel that is the most important, and someone will feel what you're saying if those words fit in there right. I do remember us experimenting with other dates, but 21st just sang phonetically fantastic."

"I absolutely could not deal with lyrics that were nonsensical, or lines that weren't complete sentences. And I'm exceedingly happy that I lost that attitude. I went, 'You cannot leave bada-ya in the chorus, that has to mean something.' Maurice said, 'No, that feels great. That's what people are going to remember. We're leaving it.' We did try other stuff, and it always sounded clunky - thank God."

~ Allee Willis, Co-Writer

#songstories #songwriting #earthwindandfire #SEPTEMBER!!! <3

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"When the creators of the new series Narcos, premiering August 28 on Netflix, needed a theme song that captured some essential part of drug lord Pablo Escobar's rise to notoriety, they turned to Little Joy's Rodrigo Amarante. To write "Tuyo," Amarante says he imagined the music Escobar's mother would have listened to as she raised the boy that would become a monster. The result is short, beautiful, and deceptive — listen closely to those lyrics. That's not romance you're hearing, it's domination."

Source: NPR

Soy el fuego que arde tu piel
soy el agua que mata tu sed.
El castillo, la torre yo soy
la espada que guarda el caudal.
tu el aire que respiro yo
y la luz de la luna en el mar.
La garganta que ansio mojar
que temo ahogar de amor.
y cuales deseos me vas a dar
mi tesoro basta con mirarlo,
tuyo será, y tuyo será.

#songstories #rodrigoamarante #narcos

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"What's unique about it is the sound of my voice. There's no one else who sings like me. They might sing better than me, but no one sings exactly like me. My voice sticks out on the radio by a mile. And as long as I have this voice, what I do is original.

So I don't worry about originality. As long as it comes through me, it will have that stamp on it. "Every Breath You Take" is an archetypal song. If you have a major chord followed by a relative minor, you're not original. A million songs have been written that way. But you can't take away from the power of "Every Breath You Take," because it was us, the Police."

~ Sting

#songstories #sting #thepolice

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Haven't shared one of these for a while. This one's a fun summertime kind of flashback for me. :)

"The Bop Baby on a hard day's night, the union hall - we just felt it was kind of a basic, workingman's rock and roll record. In a sense, a bit of territory that maybe Springsteen or somebody would cover, a little of that nostalgia, a little of the no-frills kind of straight ahead lyrics. I think the ornamentation and the embellishments that the band did with the melodica and the mandolins and the sounds that we were dabbling in put a different flavor to it. But at its heart, it's a simple rock and roll song that evokes some of those same feelings that Chuck Berry or The Beatles had. I think those images were just straight-ahead pictures for us."

~ Rob Hyman, The Hooters

#songstories #thehooters #the80s

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"I do like to stretch the musical boundaries, as much as it feels comfortable to do. And I believe just about anything that's ever been written can be put into a blues or an old R&B framework. And that's why I was interested to see how 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' could be approached. I mean, Johnny Guitar Watson did a version of 'Embraceable You' that’s one of the most soulful things you’ll ever hear, so I knew it can be done. I'd actually heard a couple of gospel guys from Tulsa do a version and I thought, 'Well, if they can do it ..."

~ Eric Clapton (who is 72 today. :))

#songstories #ericclapton

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"I was holding a pencil and paper, and for some reason I was in a very bad mood. Then all of a sudden my hand was writing out the words, 'There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold/And she's buying a stairway to heaven.' I just sat there and looked at the words and then I almost leapt out of my seat."

"'Stairway To Heaven' was written with every best intention, and as far as reversing tapes and putting messages on the end, that's not my idea of making music. It's really sad. The first time I heard it was early in the morning when I was living at home, and I heard it on a news program. I was absolutely drained all day. I walked around, and I couldn't actually believe, I couldn't take people seriously who could come up with sketches like that. There are a lot of people who are making money there, and if that's the way they need to do it, then do it without my lyrics. I cherish them far too much."

~ Robert Plant

"To me, I thought 'Stairway' crystallized the essence of the band. It had everything there and showed the band at its best... as a band, as a unit. Not talking about solos or anything, it had everything there. We were careful never to release it as a single. It was a milestone for us. Every musician wants to do something of lasting quality, something which will hold up for a long time and I guess we did it with 'Stairway.' Townshend probably thought that he got it with Tommy. I don't know whether I have the ability to come up with more. I have to do a lot of hard work before I can get anywhere near those stages of consistent, total brilliance."

~Jimmy Page

#songstories #ledzeppelin

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"Fame itself, of course, doesn't really afford you anything more than a good seat in a restaurant. That must be pretty well known by now.

I'm just amazed how fame is being posited as the be all and end all, and how many of these young kids who are being foisted on the public have been talked into this idea that anything necessary to be famous is all right. It's a sad state of affairs. However arrogant and ambitious I think we were in my generation, I think the idea was that if you do something really good, you'll become famous.

The emphasis on fame itself is something new. Now it's, to be famous you should do what it takes, which is not the same thing at all. And it will leave many of them with this empty feeling. Then again, I don't know if it will, because I think a lot of them are genuinely quite satisfied. I know a couple of personalities over in England who are famous for being famous, basically. They sort of initially came out of the pop world, but they're quite happy being photographed going everywhere and showing their kids off and this is a career to them. A career of like being there and turning up and saying, 'Yes it's me, the famous girl or guy' (laughs).

It's like, 'What do you want?' It's so Warhol. It's as vacuous as that. And that to me, is a big worry. I think it's done dreadful things to the music industry. There's such a lot of rubbish, drivel out there."

~ David Bowie

#songstories #davidbowie #fame
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