Posts Tagged ‘Delaney & Bonnie & Friends’

An Unexpected Direction

Friday, December 29th, 2017

I’ve noted here several times that the Texas Gal and I have been thinking about finding another place to live. The house – where we’ve lived for nine years – is getting a bit too hard to take care of, and the stairs are becoming less easy to navigate as we get older. The Texas Gal has already fallen down the stairs from the second floor once, and that’s more than enough.

So we’ve been looking. In the past few months, we’ve scanned the ads for apartments and spent portions of a couple of Saturdays looking at a few places. We didn’t find anything we really liked, and we came face-to-face with the reality of renting in St. Cloud, which has one of the tightest rental markets in the state: We can’t afford an apartment.

Well, we probably could right now, but in a few years, when the Texas Gal retires, it would be tight. So we’ve been pondering that for a few weeks. And about ten days ago, the Texas Gal suggested we think about buying a place, maybe a patio home or a town home. We checked out some possibilities on line, and a week ago today, we spent an hour with a mortgage specialist at an area bank who’d been recommended by friends.

We came away discouraged. While we would likely qualify for a mortgage, the banker said, the cost of the patio and town homes we were thinking about would put the monthly mortgage payment right about where we’d found rents for apartments: within reach now but . . .

All the while, I was trying to wrap my head around the idea of buying a home. I’ve been a renter most of my adult life. I’ve owned a mobile home, but that’s not quite the same. Owning a place, well, that would feel different. I wasn’t quite sure how, but it would.

That evening, the Texas Gal poked around real estate listings on her laptop as we watched television. “How about a condo?” she asked me. There were some listed that were about two-thirds the price of the patio home and town home we’d talked about with the banker. It was worth a shot, I said, and she emailed a friend of ours who’s a realtor, and very quickly, he had arranged a tour of four places for Tuesday, three condos and a house that was included in the tour for its price and its location on a favorite East Side street.

We dismissed the house pretty quickly. We saw some things that needed attention, and the stairs were as steep as the ones we deal with now. We looked at two condos on the North Side, liked the first and weren’t crazy about the second, which was missing some appliances. Then we went to a place in the smaller city of Waite Park, just west of St. Cloud. We’d been very interested in that one, given the photos we’d seen online and its location not far from the Texas Gal’s office. But we saw some major flaws, and it just felt somehow not right.

More and more, we liked the first of the two condos on the North Side. It has stairs, but it’s a split entry, just six up to the main floor and six down to the lower level. It has a deck and a patio, two bedrooms upstairs and a large den/family room downstairs that could easily host a sewing area on one end and a music area on the other.

We talked about the first North Side condo with our realtor as we were about to leave the Waite Park place. He could easily put in an offer and reach out to the banker, he said, and we talked about things like closing costs, association fees and other pre-paid items. We told him to get back to us after he’d talked to the banker.

We heard from him Wednesday evening. The banker approved the mortgage. Our realtor put in an offer, and after a little bit of back-and-forth, we signed a purchase agreement yesterday. We’ll close at the end of January, and of course, something might yet go awry, but that’s unlikely. So we’re a little giddy and a little baffled at this rapid left turn. And we’re looking at our stuff and beginning to figure out where it’s going to fit in our new home.

And the most astounding thing? Our monthly payment will be only three dollars more than we’re paying now for rent.

I have many tracks with the word “home” in their titles. One of my favorites – and one that seems to have never been mentioned in nearly eleven years of blogging – is “Comin’ Home” by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. Recorded in 1969, it was released as an Atco single that year and stalled at No. 84 in the Billboard Hot 100. It was also released in 1972 as a track on the Atco album Country Life and later that year on Columbia’s album D&B Together, which offered the same tracks as Country Life but with a different order. That album was the last work Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett would release together.

‘Goin’ Down That Road . . .’

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

Poking through the nooks and crannies of the ’Net over the weekend, I came across an album titled Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians. The performances were recorded and released in 1956 on the Tradition label. (From what I can tell, the record was re-released in 1976 on the Tradition Everest label, and then released on CD at least twice in recent years.)

I didn’t recognize all the performers’ names, but one that I did recognize was that of Etta Baker (1913-2006), a North Carolina guitarist and singer whom I’ve seen mentioned as one of the main influences on Taj Mahal. And among Baker’s performances on the twenty-track album was this sprightly take on “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad.”

It’s an old song, most often listed as of traditional origins, which is how it was listed when I first came across it on Motel Shot, the 1971 album by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends:

It’s a tune I’m going to dig into more in the next few weeks, which will mean digging into the tune’s origins as “Lonesome Road Blues” as well as into the many covers of the song under either title. In the meantime, the Texas Gal is on vacation this week, so I’m going to take some time away from here. I may be back with a Saturday Single, or I may be gone all week. See you when I get back.

Saturday Single No. 333

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

I’m overloaded.

I have a free-lance editing assignment that’s overdue. There is another six inches of snow on the sidewalk. And my mother’s in the hospital. All three of those things will resolve positively, it seems, the first two through simple effort and the last through what seems to be good fortune.

Mom had a slight stroke, probably Wednesday evening, and got to the emergency room Thursday morning. At the time, she couldn’t move her left arm very much or her left leg at all. Yesterday, her left arm was working as well as her right, and she was walking short distances with the use of a walker.

She’s likely going to be in the hospital for another few days and then spend a week or so in a facility where she’ll get some physical therapy. The goal is to get her back home, back to living on her own in her assisted living apartment.

So I’m just going to leave it there for now. I’ll get my chores done and go visit my mom today.

And here’s a track from Motel Shot, the 1971 abum by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. It’s “Sing My Way Home,” and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 303

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Nearly 64,500 mp3s clog the workings of my RealPlayer these days, and I don’t see that number decreasing anytime soon. One of the tentative plans here at the Echoes In The Wind studios is to get two new external hard drives of a terabyte each, one to hold the ever expanding collection and the other to be stored elsewhere – and updated regularly – as a backup.

The earliest dated recording I have among those mp3s continues to be a performance of “Poor Mourner” by the Dinwiddie Colored Quartette, recorded in Philadelphia on November 29, 1902. The most recent music I have comes from the CD Ragpickers, a collection of rootsy work by Paul Benoit that his label sent to me for consideration the other week. It’s pretty good, based on a few listenings.

In between those two extremes lie the rest of the more than 64,000 mp3s, with more than 15,000 of them – a little less than a quarter of them – coming from the five years from 1968 through 1972. The greatest total for any one year is the 3,500 or so that were released in 1970. (All of these numbers for specific years will increase over the next few months, as I’ve recently begun to sort a vast collection of obscure singles from the 1960s and 1970s, none of which came to me with dates. More on that project, perhaps, in a while.)

I wrote about 1970 and my garage-painting stint yesterday, of course, and combining that with the fact that 1970 is the most populated year in my clogged RealPlayer, I thought I’d take a six-step random walk through that year this morning in search of our regular Saturday Single. I did this for 1972 and 1971 not all that long ago, and I have no doubt that I’ll continue to walk back through the years on those Saturday mornings when I find myself grasping for something to write about. So here we go.

First up is “Here Come Those Heartaches Again” by Merry Clayton from her first album, Gimme Shelter. The sad song was written by James Cleveland, and I find myself wondering if it’s the same James Cleveland who was for years a mainstay of the world of gospel music. The lush track, with sweet strings over what I think is Billy Preston’s piano, shows a softer side of Clayton, one that puts me in mind of similar tracks by Aretha Franklin. As sad as the song is, it’s a nice way to start off the morning.

From there, we go to “Dream,” a track from Ringo Starr’s first solo album, a very interesting and off-beat album of standards titled Sentimental Journey. The idea of major pop-rock performers recording standards like “Dream,” “Stardust,” “Bye Bye Blackbird” and the title track seemed odd at the time, and Ringo noted that he’d recorded the album as a nod to his parents. But these days, with numerous performers – Rod Stewart is perhaps the best example – mining the old standards for CD after CD, the idea behind Ringo’s first solo outing seems less odd. And it continues our mellow beginning to the morning’s journey.

Glass Harp was, according to Wikipedia, a power trio from Youngstown, Ohio, that included guitarist Phil Keaggy, who would go on to become one of the major artists in the genre called contemporary Christian music. Glass Harp recorded three albums during the early 1970s, and our third stop this morning is “Whatever Life Demands” from the group’s first, self-titled album. It doesn’t sound much like my idea of a power trio’s work, having much more of a feel of Gypsy, the Minnesota band from the same era, although there is a nice, trippy guitar solo in the middle of the track.

Our next stop is a piece of bubblegum from a group called the Hardy Boys titled “I Heard The Grass Singin’.” It turns out that the Hardy Boys – if I have this right – were a studio group pulled together in the late 1960s to provide a soundtrack for an animated TV series about the famous juvenile detective duo. The group recorded two albums of pleasant and inoffensive pop: Here Come The Hardy Boys in 1969 and Wheels in 1970. I have no idea where I found Wheels, but it must have been during my first few months of rummaging through music blogs during the summer of 2006, when I grabbed almost anything I could find. “I Heard The Grass Singin’” is a sweet tune that wouldn’t have been out of place on a Partridge Family album. Whether that’s a recommendation or not is yours to figure out.

Our fifth tune this morning comes from a live album that I’ve enjoyed every time I’ve listened to it but that I tend to forget I have: Rick Nelson’s In Concert: The Troubadour, 1969, an album recorded at the famed club in Hollywood and released the following year. The original LP release had twelve tracks, ranging from his own hit “Hello, Mary Lou” through Eric Andersen’s thoughtful “Violets of Dawn” to Doug Kershaw’s twangy “Louisiana Man,” which is the track we land on this morning. A double-CD package released last year added ten alternate tracks to the original release and then doubled up by adding another full concert from the same series of shows at the Troubadour. (The Texas Gal has been asking me what I want for my birthday. I think I have an idea.)

And then we come to this morning’s destination, “They Call It Rock & Roll Music,” a track by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends from To Bonnie From Delaney. With help from Duane Allman and King Curtis, the track is about as good as rock music got for me in the early 1970s when I was exploring things I’d been missing. And there’s not much more to say except that “They Call It Rock & Roll Music” is today’s Saturday Single

Saturday Singles Nos. 277 & 278

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

Some time back, while presenting one of the segments of my Ultimate Jukebox, I told the tale of spending a night in the small town of Kemi, Finland, and of the grand romantic gesture that arose from that visit.

One of the events in Kemi that I didn’t relate in that post took place the following morning. I referred to it in a March 2008 post that included the 1971 record, “Never Ending Song of Love” from the album Motel Shot by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. I wrote:

During my European travels, I spent about ten days wandering through northern Scandinavia with an Australian fellow named John. We spent one night in Kemi, a small town in Finland. The next morning, we learned we’d forgotten about a time zone change and had missed the first train back to Sweden. We had a couple hours to kill, so we sat in a café near the railroad station, drinking coffee and listening to the jukebox. At one point, a record came on that sounded familiar, but it took me a moment to place it. I have never heard anything else in my life quite as strange as “Never Ending Song of Love” sung in Finnish.

Having remembered “Never Ending Song of Love” in Finnish, I made a few attempts in 2008 to find an mp3 of the record. Why? Because having heard it once in such memorable circumstances, I thought it would be fun to hear it again. Having no idea of the Finnish performer’s name or of the record’s Finnish title, the search essentially began with a barrier that could not be overcome. It was a Google here and a Google there, and eventually I gave up.

Then, this week, I decided to post the track “Lonesome and a Long Way From Home,” also from Motel Shot, to accompany the story of Gig Young/Byron Barr and the long-delayed letter jacket. So I began poking around the Intertubes to find out if anyone had a video of the tune already out there, which would save me a little bit of time. And one of my searches along the way pointed me toward a post at a blog titled Finnpicks that mentioned both “Delaney & Bonnie” and “Finnish lyrics.”

Intrigued, I clicked on the link, and found a brief account of Finnish singer Lea Laven and her recording that put Finnish lyrics to Delaney Bramlett’s tune for “Never Ending Song of Love.” The resulting track, said the post, was titled “Mun On Niin Niin Hyvä Olla” (which translates, says the writer of Finnpicks, to “I Feel So Fine”) and was placed on the B-side of Laven’s 1973 single “On Ja Ei.” I clicked the player at the blog site, and this is what I heard:

Just to refresh your memory, here’s Delaney & Bonnie & Friends and their record, “Never Ending Song of Love,” which went to No. 13 in the U.S. in mid-1971.

Now, nearly thirty-eight years removed from one hearing, I couldn’t testify in court that the record I heard in the café in Kemi was Lea Laven’s. But how many Finnish records during the 1973-74 academic year could there have been that used Delaney Bramlett’s melody? I’m reasonably sure that it was Laven’s record that John and I heard as we sipped incredibly strong coffee and ate fresh doughnuts.

And because I like foreign language versions of records I know – and I especially like those that remind me of the distant places I’ve been fortunate enough to visit – both “Mun On Niin Niin Hyvä Olla” by Lea Laven and “Never Ending Song of Love” by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends are today’s Saturday Singles.

Byron Barr’s Long-Ago Regret

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Idly wandering up the premium cable channels the other evening, I came upon a program in black and white. It had the hard edges of television, not the softer look of cinema, so I stopped for a few seconds while the program guide flickered onto the screen and told me I had stumbled upon an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

The Hitchcock show, as I recall (and Wikipedia concurs, noting that the show was also called The Alfred Hitchcock Hour) was an anthology of drama, mysteries and thrillers. It ran from 1962 to 1965 and was occasional viewing in our home. So I decided to give the show a few moments of my time.

The episode was about – I quickly deduced from the conversation on screen – two brothers whose father had been a gambler. Then I started paying attention to the voices: both were familiar, and as the younger brother turned around, I found myself looking at a very young Robert Redford. I looked a bit more closely at the actor playing the older brother, and I was pretty sure I knew him, too. Not being entirely certain, I Googled “Hitchcock, Redford, Marsden” (as “Marsden” was the fictional name of the two brothers).

I learned that the episode on my TV screen had originally been aired on September 20, 1962, and I was correct about the identity of the actor playing the older brother. It was Gig Young.

And that brought me back to early 1971, when the second semester of my senior year started at St. Cloud Tech High School. One of my new classes that semester was Journalism, where about fifteen of us delved for the first time into things like interviewing skills, the 5 Ws, the inverted pyramid and, among other things, the reason why reporters – at the time, anyway – put “-30-” at the ends of their stories.*

One of our projects during the semester was to get in touch with somebody famous and try to interview that person by speakerphone in the classroom. I’m don’t remember at all how many of those interviews actually took place, but I recall one of them. One of the young women in our class had decided to interview Gig Young.

Why Gig Young? One reason was his recent success: He’d won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his 1969 performance in the bleak but moving film, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Just as important to our class, though, was the fact that Gig Young had been born in St. Cloud in 1913. He was Byron Barr then, and he grew up in St. Cloud. (Wikipedia says his parents raised their sons in Washington, D.C., but I have reason to believe that’s not the case. Read on.)

Looking back through the mist of more than forty years, the young lady from our class – I think her name was Carol – did a pretty good job interviewing Gig Young. As he talked of life in what was already a long-ago St. Cloud, he mentioned one regret: He said that he’d earned – for participating in a sport or in cheerleading – a St. Cloud Tech letter sweater but that his family could not afford to buy one for him. He told Carol and the rest of us listening that he still thought from time to time about that missing letter sweater.

When the interview ended and Gig Young hung up the phone in his southern California home, our teacher led us through a discussion. What did Carol do that worked? What could use improvement? Where’s the story in the interview?

We weren’t required to write stories from the interviews, as not all of the famous people to whom we wrote replied to us. I, for example, heard nothing from San Francisco Giants pitcher Juan Marichal. (And why I didn’t think to write to Al Shaver, the play-by-play announcer for the Minnesota North Stars, is a huge mystery to me.) But I think all of us who heard Carol’s interview with Gig Young would have started any story we wrote in the same way: the letter sweater.

Because about a week later, a couple of the students in the class organized a small fund drive. Carol called Gig Young’s home and talked to his valet/butler and learned Young’s jacket size. We all dipped into our pockets and raised the $30 or so that a letter jacket cost in 1971. (That would be about $160 today.)

We put it together the same way those of us who wore letter jackets put ours together: With a patch saying “Byron” on the pocket where it belonged, a patch with his year of graduation on the appropriate shoulder, the chenille tiger head on the front of the jacket, and the actual varsity “T” in a plastic envelope. (Sometimes we letter-winners would frame the “T” and hang it on a wall, but for some reason lost in time, in the 1960s and 1970s we did not put the “T” on our jackets.) And we sent the letter jacket off to southern California.

As we’d hoped, we surprised and pleased the former Byron Barr. We got a very nice letter in return, thanking us all for the letter jacket he’d earned but had not been able to afford so many years earlier.

And though I have no way of knowing how Gig Young felt about St. Cloud, here’s a tune that I would guess fit his life at least once in a while. It’s Delaney & Bonnie & Friends with  “Lonesome And A Long Way From Home.” The track closed the album Motel Shot, which was released in 1971, the year that Byron Barr finally got his letter jacket.

*What we learned was that during the early days of reporting by telegraph, reporters would use “XXX” to indicate the end of the transmission. That “XXX” transferred itself to any news story, possibly as a signal to the linotype operator and others. Somewhere along the line, a mischievous or too-smart-for-his-own-good reporter saw those three X’s as Roman numerals and put “-30-” at the end of his story. And that tradition held true for years.