This Throwback Thursday I’m thinking of one very special person in particular; and a time that seems long ago but is certainly not forgotten by me.
I lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba from about 1998-2002. I have a lot of fond memories of past friends and of all the places I worked and became familiar with socially. One of the people I’ll cherish forever was my friend Colleen, whom I had a special connection to and still think of to this day. I worked for a spell in Osbourne Village’s Blockbuster Video and originally met Colleen as a customer who frequented our location and was very well loved by all the staff there. What I recall most about those initial contacts was that she was a big fan of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (particularly Angel) and we’d talk at length about it and all sorts of other programs we shared in common. She was kind.
Ironically enough, I eventually moved into an apartment that was not only in the same building as Colleen, but the same floor as well. We took that initial connection at the video store and built on it; Colleen would invite me over to her apartment and we’d watch recorded episodes of Buffy and she’d cook me nice meals. She was gracious and I can’t tell you how much those times meant to me. Her company was appreciated, and she was a soft and gentle person with quick wit and generous soul.
Later on I ended up residing in Ottawa, and while we did keep up sporadically, eventually we did come to having less and less of these communications. I learned later on that Colleen had passed away, far too young, and this news hit hard. Every now and then her memory will return to me and I’ll be reminded how life is such a precious thing. If I’d known she wouldn’t ‘always’ be there maybe I would have shown her more love, commitment as a friend and maybe …. Who knows. There are just so many things I would want her to know; like that I loved and valued her for who she was and for the kindness she showed me in our brief time. I would hug her and I would tell her what a beautiful human being she is/was.
Here’s to friends like Colleen; and here’s to the memories we’ll cherish.
Once upon a time a young man made his dream come true when he saw Anne Murray sing live. That young man was me of course, and to this day I still remember that performance well. Growing up I already had a thing for a lot of 1970′s folk and country, so discovering Anne Murray came naturally. I find her voice unique and heartwarming, and her personality down to earth. Songs like Snowbird, What About Me?, Danny’s Song, Love Song and You Needed Me – all showcase her warm alto and rich tones. You can imagine my surprise when I found out she was playing live with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra circa 1999; though I could not find anyone who would go with me at the time. I made it my mission to buy a ticket and see her in person even if I had to enjoy the experience solo. In 1999 I would have been 20 years old – working in Osbourne Village’s Blockbuster video; I didn’t have a lot of money but I made it work.
That actual night I remember sitting centre stage in the 8th row, thinking to myself that I had to be the youngest person in that entire packed audience, which was strange I thought because to me it made sense that you should want to see Anne Murray perform, regardless of your age. It was an eye opener though to find myself alone in a sea of elderly people – yet here’s the thing – I had the greatest time all by myself. I chatted with the people on either side of me and I could sense we were all in agreement about one thing: Anne Murray was a class act and we were excited to be there. When Anne entered the stage, she was nothing short of professional and on point. Every song I wanted to hear – including some of her Christmas hits, I got to hear – and impressively enough she never faltered and every word was crystal clear and delivered with grace and gratitude. That’s what I love about Anne Murray: she doesn’t demand attention nor is she a high-profile celebrity – yet she is a consummate vocalist.
The other memory I have of that night was that she only changed outfits once: she went from a white pant suit to a black pant suit. No muss, no fuss. I even snapped a few photos from my seat which I share here today! THANK YOU Anne Murray for your musical gifts as well for the opportunity to see you live!!!
Always had a big thing for American folk singer, songwriter, activist JOAN BAEZ; a talent with a distinctively strong vibrato voice & a penchant for songs about social issues. In my high school days I went on a Baez overload, idolizing her career performing in coffee houses, romancing DYLAN, & a lifelong commitment to political & social activism in the fields of nonviolence, civil & human rights & the environment.
A performer for over 55 years there are no shortage of classic albums or songs, but after a 10 year hiatus from listening to her I found myself humming this cover version of hers; the MiCK JAGGAR/KEiTH RiCHARDS penned ‘No Expectations‘, from the 1970 album ‘One Day At A Time’. Well worth checking out!
Although Outlaw country was mainly the domain of men, there were some women that pursued musical careers in country music that considered themselves “Outlaws” as well. There are really only four women that became major outlaw stars in country music: TANYA TUCKER, SAMMi SMiTH, EMMYLOU HARRiS and JESSi COLTER, respectively. I’ve written about TUCKER several times before, as she’s a huge inspiration – and her contribution to music for me has certainly left a good impression for it’s truly unique grain of guts and fragility, but COLTER, HARRiS and SMiTH are also right up there.
JESSi COLTER was the wife of the Outlaw pioneer WAYLON JENNiNGS. She married JENNiNGS in 1968. In the mid-70s, she pursued a solo career, and immediately achieved Outlaw status after she scored a #1 country hit, that also reached #4 on the pop charts, titled ‘I’m Not Lisa’, which was penned by COLTER herself.
‘I’m Jessi Colter’ is the album that brought her to the masses in 1975. Prior to this album, her name was somewhat known in Country music, mainly as JENNiNGS’ wife as she had recorded some sides with him, including two top forty singles, “Suspicious Minds” and “Under Your Spell Again”. She had also released one previous album, 1970′s ‘A Country Star Is Born’, which ironically enough made virtually no impact on the market. But it was a completely different story when Capitol Records issued ‘I’m Jessi Colter’, her second album. It’s first single, “I’m Not Lisa”, became a massive hit, peaking at number one on the Country charts. That song was so huge that it seemed like whenever you turned on the radio, there it was. So huge was that song, that it’s often overlooked that the follow-up, “What’s Happened To Blue Eyes” didn’t do too shabby, peaking at number five on the Country side in the Fall of 1975. As for the album, it would peak at number four on the Country bestseller lists, while hitting a high of fifty on the Pop side. An interesting side note, this was the first of three solo top ten albums for JESSi, all peaking at number four.
On another note – COLTER was exceptionally beautiful as well – as one can see from the above photos; and as a fan I can’t help but make comparisons to RONSTADT and fellow outlaw female HARRiS (perhaps this is more attributed to COLTER being much less in the spotlight to either of these ladies). Without a doubt though, its easy to see and hear what JENNiNGS was captured by, as well as what endears her to country music fans to this day.
With MOTHER’S DAY only a few sleeps away – I send a special in-advance salute of love to my precious momma. The world is full of all types of mommas; good mommas, bad mommas. Moms that are present, moms that aren’t. Moms that know how to cook delicious food for the soul, moms that can’t cook even Kraft Dinner. There are moms who send you care packages and the moms who are in need of care. One thing I know for sure is that moms, while not perfect can be a blessing to have in your life, should you be so lucky. I say this in recognition that there are many of us who have never had a momma, or lost ours over the years.
I love you Mom, for holding my hand through out my life. I love you for understanding, perhaps even before I did, that life was going to be different for me, yet instilling in me a appreciation for home, family, nature and unconditional love. You are the most important woman in my life – and as time passes I can only hope to share in more laughs and memories with you and our entire family. I wish for you all the happiness, comfort and love in the world.
I used to dream that I could one day afford to take you on a beautiful trip to somewhere like GREECE, where we could sit at a table for two with a bottle of wine as we watch the sun go down. In my mind we have already done this but perhaps someday I can make that dream come true for you – you deserve the moon and the stars for all that you have done for me and all of us kids.
The following represent my all-time favorite women in Country & Western music as a genre; these are a handful of the women who paved the way….
PATSY CLiNE : Beginning in the 1950’s CLiNE was one of, if not the first HONKY TONK GiRL to record the NASHViLLE SOUND, in which country’s traditional instrumentation was sweetened with strings, and twangy vocals were toned down by a harmonizing ‘choir’. Her voice was voluptuous and versatile, perfect for pop-leaning ballads which she turned into a category all her own. At the time of her passing, mainstream audiences rarely went for country singers but CLiNE’S music was embraced by people across the board.
Download: Walkin’ After Midnight (1956); I Fall To Pieces (1961); She’s Got You (1961)
JUNE CARTER CASH : Before there was a CARTER CASH, there was THE CARTER FAMiLY – the pioneer’s country music. CARTER is a part of this legendary clan and before the CARTER family there really was no country music industry. As part of THE CARTER SiSTERS, JUNE toured and did television and festivals before meeting JOHNNY CASH. The rest is history but CARTER CASH should be remembered most for her multi-talented gifts as trained actress and comedienne, but most of all for her unique and natural gift as a singer/songwriter.
Download: It Ain’t Me Babe (1965); Jackson (1967); Far Side Banks of Jordan (1999)
LORETTA LYNN : The original COAL MiNERS DAUGHTER developed simple yet compelling songwriting style, as well as her own sound of singing; a voice becoming richer, more nuanced and emotive. Her lyrics too, became more distinctive over time, projecting a feisty, ‘shape up or ship out’ attitude, or other country and western taboos like virginity loss, double standards for divorcees, and birth control, all of which were banned by some radio programmers in the 1970’s yet became major hits.
TAMMY WYNETTE : Full of heartbreak and pathos, WYNETTE’S voice would swell and pause and build; the queen of dynamics, she could give the most maudlin song drama and power. WYNETTE may well be the finest pure singer in country music history, and from the beginning she became the doormat, dumped wife, or scorned girlfriend that populated her songs. Most of her hits were about homes that are broken or breaking but her legions knew what it was like to be stuck with an aching heart.
Download: Apartment #9 (1966), Till I Get It Right (1972), Stand By Your Man (1968)
DOLLY PARTON : PARTON’S rags-to-riches story, as well as her songwriting, down-home personality and country-girls-idea-of-glam-sex-bomb appearance make her the ultimate country & western SUPERSTAR. Many of her most memorable hits were autobiographical, and combined with her unique voice and shrewd sense of business, she has gone on to conquer HOLLYWOOD and pave the way for all future country songbirds. Her breathy trill of a soprano gave a lovely effervescence to the folksy songs she recorded early on in her career, before crossing over into pop in the late 1970’s.
Download: My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy (1969), My Tennessee Mountain Home (1973), Lonely Coming Down (1974)
TANYA TUCKER : TUCKER was 13 years old when she had her first hit song in 1972 – and her music told mythic stories in a reedy voice that bellied her age. She was and remains a rarity – not to mention one of the few child performers to mature into adulthood without losing her audience. TUCKER is one of the few and best-known female Country singers to be classified as an “Outlaw” in the OUTLAW COUNTRY movement, which was most popular in the late 70s. As TUCKER matured by the end of the 70s, her outlaw image grew, and to this day she threads that outlaw influence into her country rock.
Download: Delta Dawn (1973), If You Touch Me (1973), The Chokin’ Kind (1973)
OLiViA NEWTON-JOHN ; The English born, Aussie raised NEWTON-JOHN created uproar among country music puritans when she won GRAMMY and CMA award in 1974 for her faux-barnyard country hits. By no means the first singer to cross the boundaries between country and pop, she (along with JOHN DENVER, GLEN CAMPBELL & PARTON) did in many respects help redefine traditional country music with her crystal-clear vocals and by showing you needn’t have bona fide, dues-payin’country roots to make it in NASHViLLE.
Download: Behind That Locked Door (1971); If You Love Me (Let Me Know) (1974); Come On Over (1976)
ANNE MURRAY : Straight, Clean and Simple is not only the name of MURRAY’S 1971 country album, but it also sums up MURRAY as a stylist as well. She was the first Canadian female solo artist to reach #1 in the US, as well the first Canadian to win Album of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards for her 1984 album A Little Good News. By far not the flashiest or the prettiest country beauty – but what she brought to country music’s table is a warm down-home approach to singing.
Download: Snowbird (1970); Danny’s Song (1972); Love Song (1974)
LiNDA RONSTADT : The consummate professional, RONSTADT brought the torch into country music before exploring California rock, helping to bridge country and rock while serving as the perfect poster child for freewheeling femininity. A singer, songwriter and record producer she is recognized as a definitive interpreter of songs and being one of music’s most versatile and commercially successful female singers in the US history, she is recognized for her many public stages of self-reinvention and incarnations. Her contribution to country music helped her achieve the one-time standing as QUEEN of ROCK, earning the title of ‘highest paid woman in rock’.
Download: Long Long Time (1970); I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight (1973); You’re No Good (1975)
EMMYLOU HARRiS : HARRiS epitomizes that country-rock fold in the mid-seventies, where NASHViLLE music was sounding slicker by the minute. First singing harmonies with GRAM PARSONS, HARRiS’ shimmering soprano went on to resonate with many other artists, including DYLAN, RONSTADT and YOUNG – her ability to interpret songs in a unique style helping to redefine as well as mass-market radio friendly country.
Download: One Of These Days (1975); My Dear Companion (1987); Red Dirt Girl (2003)
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As an adult I can look back on my teenage years with a certain appreciation. Looking back on some things, like teen crushes for example, can be funny and quite revealing. Not to say being a gay teen in small town Manitoba was easy, because it wasn’t. Part of the frustration for me was that despite the right of passage for all teens to hit puberty and develop acute sexual frustration/curiosity – I never really had an outlet for sex. I kept most of my fantasies and curiosities tucked away in the corners of my own pubescent mind, where I could avoid judgment and preserve what turned me on. You wouldn’t fine me taping pictures of RALPH MACHiO in my locker or giggling with the girls about how dreamy JOEY LAWRENCE was (but in hindsight I’m sure the girls would have gotten it).
Weather you were the girl in school who had posters on her wall of PATRiCK SWAYZE in DiRTY DANCiNG or anyone of the NEW KiDS ON THE BLOCK – or the guy who secretly masturbated to CiNDY CRAWFORD’S PEPSi commercial, it was clearly a normal part of growing up to develop crushes. For me it was safest to develop said crushes on figures I never had to worry about offending or being beaten up by – which sounds funny but its true. So instead I developed my ideas of what a sexy man meant to me, through listening to music or watching television and films. These characters represented, for whatever reason, what I wanted to embody myself in some way, or at the very least – who I wanted to be sexual with.
In honor of our inherent right to explore our sexuality as teens – I’ve come up with as close to a comprehensive list of my own personal TEEN-AGE DREAMS that I can recall. I mean it when I say its our right to dream – because weather you are gay or straight, popular or nerdy – pretty or damn ugly – you must acknowledge your own teen crushes, in the name of all that is funny and nostalgic.
I did begin to notice some re-occurring themes and characteristics shared by all these TEEN DREAMS asI did my research. In no special order these commonalities appear to be:
1. All these men have/had a penchant for tight pants. Whatever that says…
2. They all seem to enjoy heavy posturing and/or showing off.
3. Virility levels are off the charts for most of them…
4. If they weren’t ‘pretty’ there were pretty damn ugly…and these dueling traits carried over to my eventual relationships in reality… food for thought.
All in all – it doesn’t take much for me to recall what it was that originally attracted me to these men – so without further interuption, here they are in alllllllll their glory for YOU to apprecaite!
if there ever was one. Between him and LiNDSAY BUCKiNGHAM, GRAM PARSONS and ROBERT PLANT I couldn’t get enough growing up, but there was something about TAYLOR that stood out.
I was introduced to TAYLOR’S breakthrough album ‘Sweet Baby James’ in high school, nearly 20 years after its release in 1970. I did find it intriguing to find out that around this time he had been in and out of a full blown heroin addiction – and somehow this made his delivery all the more appealing. It made his sorrow and longing real. SWEET BABY JAMES opens with the song of the same title, and as soon as you hear his natural sense of phrasing, every syllable beautifully in time – you know he had that thing.
There is a young cowboy he lives on the range
His horse and his cattle are his only companions
He works in the saddle and he sleeps in the canyons
Just waiting for Summer, his pastures to change
And as the moon rises he sits by his fire
Thinking about women and glasses of beer
And closing his eyes as the dogies retire
He sings out a song which is soft but it’s clear
As if maybe someone could hear
This introduction to JAMES TAYLOR had my adolescent head spinning. No, I had never been in a relationship (I was 15) but I knew that if there ever was a ‘type’ that got my senses tingly, it was the JAMES TAYLOR type: sensitive, lonely, and TROUBLED. HOT.
Goodnight you moonlight ladies
Rockabye sweet baby James
Deep greens and blues are the colours I choose
Won’t you let me go down in my dreams
And rockabye sweet baby James
I was iN LOVE with this man. I only wish I could have been at Newport Folk Festival in 1969 to drool. FiRE and RAiN is a song about TAYLOR’S experience in psychiatric institutions and the suicide of his friend. His guitar style was really unlike any others at the time - a finger-picking style that was meant to be like a piano. Both the album and the single reached #3 in the Billboard charts, with SWEET BABY JAMES selling more than 1½ million copies in its first yearand eventually more than 3 million in the United States alone. SWEET BABY JAMES was received at its time as a folk-rock masterpiece, an album that effectively showcased TAYLOR’S talents to the mainstream public, marked the direction he would take in following years, and made him one of the main forces of the movement.
JAMES TAYLOR is an inspiration to me – personally because I admire his ability to write songs and sing in a way unlike any other man in the history of music. Kudos to you JAMES, wherever you are – and thanks for the great music!
(making it the #1 song of the 1980′s), the album went double platinum and peaked at #6. On top of that it marks the pinnacle of OLiViA NEWTON-JOHN’S career. The song was impossible to escape and it allowed her to distance herself even further from her goody-goody image. Most of all, its a damn good album.
Chopping off her long blond hair and opting for a somewhat foxier image, PHYSiCAL presented ONJ as a full-blown mega superstar. Picking up where TOTALLY HOT and XANADU left off PHYSiCAL skillfully balances catchy yet mellow dance cuts with immaculately crafted pop and ballads. The title track of course is the best example of the dance side, but LANDSLiDE, MAKE A MOVE ON ME, PROMiSE (THE DOLPHiN SONG) illustrate that PHYSiCAL wasn’t a one-hit record at all – if anything they hold up better than the big hit. Comparatively from the bulk of her 1970′s albums which had 79% filler – PHYSiCAL has a much stronger sense of focus and concept.
Production-wise as well – PHYSiCAL is ONJ’S most well crafted album; fun and very crisp, her vocals sound a far cry away from the wispy days of iF NOT FOR YOU. She had clearly become a much more confident vocalist, sounding especially strong on SiLVERY RAiN, CARRiED AWAY and LOVE MAKE ME STRONG.
PHYSiCAL also spawned a corresponding video album of the same name, an industry first that helped launch the nascent long-form music video market. Each of the album’s songs had its own corresponding promotional video, also allowing fans a chance to see ONJ as a sleek, aerobics devotee, as well as numerous other trendy characters, such as a kinky high power boss (LANDSLiDE), and yoga chick (CARRiED AWAY). A surreal streak runs through a few shorts, especially RECOVERY, in which she rides a horse through a desert, encounters a cage full of men in tuxedos, and wanders through a painting. ABC broadcast the video as LET’S GET PHYSiCAL and launched her on a major summer tour that had her jumping and hamming it up on stages worldwide. She was EVERYWHERE.
ONJ never was quite able to fully recapture the success of PHYSiCAL, nor did she ever capitalize off of her new-found image, at least in my opinion. I’m sure if I could go back in time I would find OLiViA circa 1980 and slap her silly into truly embracing a sexier image, if her real desire was to extend herself as an artist. Oh the potential there was – but luckily it does still exist for those of us who enjoy our pop perfections. The plus side is that she paved the way for MADONNA, CYNDi LAUPER, SHEENA EASTON and PAT BENETAR – not to mention many of artists today by setting a certain precedence. The downside is that for her she would never be able to sustain her own status as one of the top female pop singers of her time.
_________________________________________________________________________________________ Back in the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s, I poured over Rolling Stone Magazine. Didn't a lot of…