I betcha you didn’t know they were Dutch-The Music edition.

nl

This is slight deviation from my usual heavier history blogs. Every once in a while something lighthearted is needed.

The Netherlands, a small country in the Northwest of Europe. Known for great painters and footballers and for Tulips and windmills and a lot of other things.

It is however not so much known for its music.and to an extend rightfully so. Because lets face it, the majority of Dutch music just isn’t great. But there have been some bits of music  which have become global classics and a lot of people,including Dutch, don’t know the origin lies in the Netherlands. Even some of the worlds biggest acts have some Dutch connection.

Starting off Down Under

Harry Vanda

vanda

The name Harry Vanda on its own will mean very little to most, but connect it to the name George Young and it becomes a different story.

Born Johannes Hendrikus Jacob van den Berg , the young musician Harry emigrated to Australia in 1963. Where he met George Young and teamed up to form the band “the Easybeats”  they achieved a global hit with the song “Friday on my Mind” with the Easybeats.

But it was in their songwriting/producing capacity they achieved the biggest successes, Songs like “Love is in the air” and “Standing in the rain” performen by John Paul Young became massive hits. However the biggest impact they had in the music industry was as producers of the band formed by George Young’s brothers,Malcolm and Angus,AC/DC.

This is one of my favourite Vanda/Young productions. It is the duo in the incarnation of the band “Flash in the Pan” the song “Hey St.Peter”

 

Diesel

diesel

This band started off as more of a hobby project  of former members of legendary Dutch symphonic rock band Kayak. In 1981 their song Sausalito Summernightgot to No.25 in the US Charts and No.1 in Canada. It also did very well in a number of European countries.

Shocking Blue

venus

Shocking Blue are probably responsible for one of the biggest hits, if not the biggest hit ever written by a Dutch band. The song “Venus” still gets an awful lot of airplay in a variety of versions and if it’s not on radio it is on TV, where the song is often used in commercials ranging from products like yogurt to razors for ladies.

This is the original from 1969

 

Dave

dave

This one is a bit difficult to definee, I suppose the best way to describe Dave is a French Disco chansonier, but he wan’t French but Dutch.Born Wouter Otto Levenbach in Amsterdam. He had a string of hits in French, the most successful song  Dansez Maintenant. Most people in the Netherlands don’t know he is Dutch.

The George Baker Selection

george baker

Some bands need only to be heard and not to be seen, well at least that is what I think about this band and especially the singer George Baker aka Hans Bouwens, his fake smile just annoys me. But having that said he is responsible for a massive hit which had an unexpected revival due to the Quentin Tarantino movie “Reservoir Dogs” the son of course is “Little Green Bag” first released in 1970.

 

Pussycat

pussycat

This is like a country and western music fairy tale, Three sisters, telephone operators form a rural part of the Netherlands, the south east of the country. They team up with some musicians and a song writer/lyricist and create a classic Country song which topped the charts in most countries worldwide. A song of a river which they hadn’t seen. The river Mississippi.

 

Caro Emerald

caro

Now before I get accused on only focusing on 20th century music. This one sneaked in a few years ago. Caro Emerald born Caroline Esmeralda van der Leeuw had a big world wide hit with the Jazz song “A Night like This” which was released in 2009.

To me the quality sign of approval for any musician is when they appear on “Later with Jools Holland” on the BBC. Caro appeared on Jools Holland’s new Year’s eve edition of his show in 2011.

 

I could have added the more commonly known dutch artists like Van Halen,The Golden Earring, 2 Unlimited, DJ Tiesto and Andre Rieu, but I think this is a good compilation of bands and musicians most people outside of the Netherlands know are Dutch.

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The laughing Gnome-Happy Birthday David Bowie.

bowie

January 8, 1947 probably has not much of a historical significance,however it is the day which saw the birth of a truly musical genius,David Robert Jones, aka David Bowie.

But in order to   become this musical icon he had to make a few odd detours. Before Space Oddity,Ziggy Strdust,Life on Mars, Let’s dance, etc, he had to learn his craft by performing as a 15 year old in a band with the name ” the Konrads”.

It was 2 years later though with another band named “the King Bees” David Bowie’s talents were first captured on a record with a song titled “Liza Jane”.

However this song did not become a hit,also the fact it was credited as  Davie Jones with the King-Bees didn’t help, because in 1964 another Davy Jones was already a well established name as the singer of the Monkees.

In order David Robert Jones changed his name  after the 19th-century American pioneer James Bowie and the knife he had popularized.

With the legend of  David Bowie was born. Well kind of, there was just one more literally small obstacle to overcome before reaching the stellar heights the David Bowie reached. The obstacle was called “the Laughing Gnome” although I love David Bowie’s music a lot that song released as a novelty single on Deram Records in 1967 was awful and an assault to the ears. But hey, all is forgiven for David Bowie did become one of THE musical icons of the 20th century.

 

Happy Birthday David

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Source

YouTube

 

Dance the Old Fashioned Way-Musicians we said goodbye to in 2018.

piano

2018 has been a year where we had to say goodbye to a great number of musicians. Here are just some of them and some of their music. May they all rest in peace.

7 January:France Gall

 

February 1: Dennis Edwards

 

March 12: Craig Mack

 

April 20: Tim Bergling  aka Avicii

 

7 May: Maurane

 

June 18: XXXTentacion

 

July 8:Tab Hunter

 

August 16,: Aretha Franklin

 

14 September: Anneke Grönloh

 

October 1: Charles Aznavour

 

October 24:Tony Joe White

 

November 15: Roy Clark

 

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The Buchenwald Song and the brutal murder of the man who wrote it.

Song

Fritz Löhner-Beda was  an  Austrian born Jewish librettist, lyricist and writer. Born Wildenschwert, Bohemia but he grew up in one of Europe’s most cultural cities,Vienna. Alas Vienna’s culture was to become tainted to a degree.

In the 1920s, Löhner-Beda became one of the most popular and  sought-after librettists and lyricists in Vienna. This popularity though meant nothing on April 1,1938, less then 3 weeks after the Anschluss, (annexation of Austria by the Nazis).

AH ANSCHLUSS

On April 1, 1938 Löhner-Beda was arrested and deported to Dachau concentration camp.His Viennese neighbors and fan base did very little to help him.Just over 5 months later on September 23 1938 he was deported to Buchenwald.

While in Buchenwald, at the end of 1938, he wrote Das Buchenwald lied(the Buchenwald song) together with Hermann Leopoldi an Austrian born Jewish composer. Below is the text to the chorus of the song

“O Buchenwald, ich kann dich nicht vergessen,
weil du mein Schicksal bist.
Wer dich verließ, der kann es erst ermessen,
wie wundervoll die Freiheit ist!
O Buchenwald, wir jammern nicht und klagen,
und was auch unser Schicksal sei,
wir wollen trotzdem Ja zum Leben sagen,
denn einmal kommt der Tag, dann sind wir frei!”

English Translation:

“O Buchenwald, I cannot forget you,
because you are my fate.
Only he who leaves you can appreciate
how wonderful freedom is!
O Buchenwald, we don’t cry and complain;
and whatever our destiny may be,
we nevertheless shall say ‘yes’ to life:
for once the day comes, we shall be free!”

Viktor Frankl used the line “trotzdem Ja zum Leben sagen”(nevertheless shall say ‘yes’ to life) as the German title for his book “Man’s Search for Meaning”. written in 1946.

ja zum leben

On October 17, 1942,  Löhner-Beda was deported to the Monowitz concentration camp, a sub-camp of Auschwitz. The SS established the camp in October 1942 at the behest of I.G. Farben executives to provide slave labor for their Buna Werke (Buna Works) industrial complex.

monowitz

On December 4,1942 Fritz Löhner-Beda had already been ill. he was accused of not working hard enough. Because of this he was beaten to death by a Kapo. Just imagine that, beaten to death that is a different kind of evil. I know the Kapo’s were forced to do bad things in order to survive themselves, but beating someone to death that takes a particular kind of person.

So many people were killed during the Holocaust but with that also so much cultural heritage has vanished.

Fritz Löhner-Beda could have contributed so much more for the betterment of humankind.Who knows how many classic songs he could have written, or how many more award winning plays and screenplays. His death didn’t only end his life it also deprived the world of a great artist.

Fritz

Ending this blog with a version of the song and one more time the line “we nevertheless shall say ‘yes’ to life” Let’s do that , let us all say yes to life despite whatever comes our way, We owe to Fritz and to ourselves.

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Where’s the orchestra?

orchestra

Some people might recognize the title of this piece as the title of a Billy Joel song, and you would be right. It is a beautiful song which has a sad intonation, in a way it is a haunting piece of music, a story of something that is no longer there.

Billy Joel’s grandfather Karl Amson Joel, a German Jewish business man escaped the Holocaust, in the 1930’s he escaped to the US via Switzerland and Cuba.

This blog however is not about the Joel family but about  the  Orchestras in the concentation camps.

orchestra 2

Music has so much power and can evoke so many emotions and also a sense of comfort and hope. In the twisted mindset of the Nazi regime something beautiful as music was turned into an instrument of evil.

Although it saved many  musicians from hard labour it also caused controversy,because the aim of the orchestras was not to please the inmates, even though the sounds would have been pleasing, The purpose of the orchestra was much more cynical.

The purpose humiliation and terror, especially upon return of the commandos from work, when the totally exhausted victims  had to enter the camp in the rhythm of military marches or other up beat melodies.

march

It also created the perception to people who arrived in the camps ,that maybe things weren’t as bad as they had expected. Not knowing that many of them were led straight to the gas chambers after arrival,while the orchestra was playing.

It must have been such a torture for the musicians because they knew what was happening, but yet in order to survive themselves they had to conform. Sometimes they would play to entertain the SS troops in the camps, knowing that these people they were entertaining were responsible for the deaths of their friends and families. They also knew that if they didn’t play or if the music didn’t please the commanders they easily could be killed on the spot.

orche

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Sources

Music and Politics

Auschwitz.org

 

 

Heartbreak Hotel.

elvis

I don’t think there isn’t one person on the planet who hasn’t heard of Elvis, the undisputed King of Rock N Roll.

This is the story of his first ever number 1 hit “Heartbreak Hotel”. ‘Why do a story on just one song?’ I hear you say. The answer is easy, there are so many aspects to this song.

For starters, as already mentioned it would be Elvis’s first ever number 1 hit. It was the 2nd song he recorded with RCA Victor. Prior to his recording of Ray Charles’s “I got a woman” ,Elvis had been with Sun records.

“Heartbreak Hotel” was released as a single on January 27.1956.

nr one

It is also the song that inspired John Lennon,Elton John,George Harrison,Keith Richards and Robert Plant to become musicians, just imagine this song is responsible for the Beatles,Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.

Something that is often overlooked or taken for granted is the actual structure of the song. It starts of with only Elvis’s vocals. Typically a song would start with the instruments first and then the vocals come in, but in Heartbreak Hotel it is turned around. There are very few songs structured that way and I think it may have been the first time or one of the first times this happened in popular music.

Then there is the back story to the song, which remains a bit of a mystery.The song was written in 1955, by Mae Boren Axton, a high school teacher who was also involved in musical promotions, and Jacksonville based singer–songwriter Tommy Durden.

The lyrics were inspired by an article in ‘The Miami Herald’ about a hotel guest who jumped out of a window and committed suicide and left the note, “I walk a lonely street”.

However In 2016, a piece in Rolling Stone magazine suggested that the story originated from a report about a painter and petty criminal, Alvin Krolik, whose marriage had broken down and had written a partial autobiography including the line “This is the story of a person who walked a lonely street.”

 

lonely street

Krolik first made the news in 1953 in Chicago. One day in November  he walked into an Albany Park police department and confessed to his part in 10 robberies.

He said his victims could not identify him because he had used oil paints on his face.

He confessed he was driven to crime after his five-week marriage to Agnes Sampson ended in divorce.

He was given a lenient sentence because he had handed himself in and the Police thought he could be rehabilitated.

On August 25th,1955 , just prior to  Durden and Axton  found their inspiration for “Heartbreak Hotel,” which was written in September ,Krolik was about to make news again. On a Saturday night in El Paso, Texas, Krolik attempted  to rob a liquor store.

D.R. Pinney,  a former Texas patrolman.was the owner of the Busy Bee Liquor Store, shot Krolik 9 times. Krolik was not the first person Pinney had killed, he had killed robbers before.Maybe Krolik had  known about Pinney’s record on criminals that held up his store, making this perhaps  a suicide, similar to suicide by cop.

krolik

Whatever event it was, the Krolik or the Miami Herald event, it adds a certain intrigue to the Rock N Roll classic”Heatbreak Hotel”

Ending the blog with the aforementioned song, enjoy.

 

Sources

Rolling Stone Magazine

YouTube

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Symphony of destruction.

symphony

People who know me, know I am a big Heavy Metal fan ,and one of my favourite tracks is called Symphony of Destruction by Megadeth.But this blog is about a different Symphony, a Symphony which was composed and first performed amidst great destruction.

The piece of music is common;y known as the Leningrad Symphony, It was Dmitri  Shostakovich 7th Symphony.

The disturbing news of the German attack on the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa, had reached Leningrad at midday June 22 as Molotov announced the attack via loudspeakers throughout the city.

barbarossa

The 35-year-old composer Shostakovich  was head of the Leningrad Conservatoire’s piano department. He began work on his Seventh Symphony in the first hot days of July.

He had volunteered for the army but was dismissed because of his poor eyesight.

Shostakovich

Instead he became a volunteer for the Leningrad Conservatory’s firefighter brigade. However as a musician he set his talents to work and help the war effort in a different way. I did not research this but as a musician myself I know how powerful music can be, it cam alter moods, lift spirits and boost morale.

When Shostakovich played the first two tacts of his Seventh Symphony to some of his friends, in the besieged city of Leningrad in the summer of 1941, the performance was brutally interrupted by a German bombardment.

Shostakovich endured and worked with an inhuman intensity to finish what would become his best known work. Not because he wanted to become rich from it but because he knew how important art was and especially music in the most dire circumstances.

The first full performance in Leningrad (now St Petersburg) was given in August 1942 by a half-starved orchestra, whose emaciated state is symbolised by the drummer Dzaudhat Aydarov, who had literally been rescued from the dead.

Karl Eliasberg, the conductor on that occasion, stated that Soviet artillery pounded known German battery positions  prior to the start of  concert in order to silence them.

It was the same Eliasberg who went to the morgue looking for the drummer Aydarov,He found his presumed cadaver  still moving and breathing.

Despite the destruction around them and being under siege by the German army, the people of Leningrad still found a bit of comfort by buying a ticket for the mammoth work which lasted for over 78 minutes. 78 minutes where they could forget the war, the hunger and the despair.

ticket

Below is the music  the symphony in its full length.

 

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Sources

Classic FM

The Guardian

BBC

YouTube

 

 

 

 

The Dirty Mac

Dirty Mac

What if John Lennon,Keith Richards and Eric Clapton formed a band together, surely they must have been the most famous band ever. wouldn’t they?

Well yes they did form a band, together with Mitch Mitchell from the Jimin Hendix experience, And no they didn’t become the most famous band ever, in fact hardly anyone knows they did team up forming the super band ‘The Dirty Mac’

The band was formed  for the Rolling Stones’ TV special titled The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, which aired on December 11, 1968.

To say things went smoothly would be an overstatement. It had become  nightmare full of malfunctioning equipment and eventually took 15 hours before the Stones hit the stage.

Lennon called  himself as “Winston Leg-Thigh, for the occasion.The Dirty Mac recorded a rendition of the Lennon-penned Beatles track “Yer Blues” and then went on to back up Yoko Ono and violinist Ivry Gitlis on a track called “Whole Lotta Yoko”

Just imagine if the Dirty Mac had become a real band?

mac

 

 

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Peggy Sue became a plumber.

bUDDY hOLLY

I could not call myself a genuine Music buff without looking back at the life of the subject of one of Rock N Roll’s most iconic songs, Peggy Sue.

The very title of the song could have been different altogether, the song was originally called “Cindy Lou”, after Holly’s niece. But it was changed to Peggy Sue  referring to Peggy Sue Gerron who was the girlfriend of Jerry Allison, the drummer for the Crickets, at the time .After the couple had temporarily broken up, the title was renamed Peggy Sue.

Allison and Gerron would later get married.however the couple did get divorced in the late 70s.

After her divorce from Jerry Allison, Peggy Sue went to Pasadena Junior College in  and became a dental assistant. She got married again and had two children, a girl and a boy.

Her second husband was a plumber, Peggy Sue and her new husband started a successful plumbing business and she became the  first woman licensed as a plumber in the state of California.

Peggy Sue

Peggy Sue died last Monday,October 1st at the age of 78. She had always enjoyed being the subject of the iconic song.

Buddy Holly did write a follow up to the song, “Peggy Sue Got Married”, and recorded a demo in his New York City apartment on December 5, 1958, with only  himself on guitar.The tape was discovered after his death and was “enhanced” for commercial release, with the addition of backing vocals and an electric guitar.

The rarely heard original version was released on a vinyl collection, “The Complete Buddy Holly”. It was also used over the opening credits of the 1986 movie “Peggy Sue Got Married” with Kathleen Turner in the title role.

Got Married

Finishing up with the aforementioned song ‘Peggy Sue got Married”. RIP Peggy Sue, this week  you have made us all feel blue.

 

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

BBC

IMDb

You Tube

The significance of August 16 in Music.

Elvis

August 16 is a date like any other date, except when it comes to music. Several events on this date have had a massive impact on the music industry. In fact in musical terms it just doesn’t get bigger than this .

August 16-1915 The birth of Al Hibbler

Al Hibbler

Nowadays the name Al Hibbler will mean very little to most.But if I will mention the song ‘Unchained Melody’ it will trigger a lot of memories to many, especially the pottery scene in the movie ‘Ghost’ the version of the song was by ‘the Righteous Brothers” and a great number of people may think theirs was the original but it was Al Hibbler who brought the song to the number 1 spot of the charts for the first time in 1955.It was composed by by Alex North and lyrics by Hy Zaret.

In the late 1950s and 1960s, was involved in the  civil rights movement. He got arrested in 1959 in New Jersey and in 1963 in Alabama partaking in protest marches with .This didn’t make him very popular with major record labels notoriety and they did not  carry his work, but Frank Sinatra supported him and signed him to a contract with his label.

August 16-1938 the death of Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson

Robert Elroy Johnson is without a doubt the undisputed King of the blues. Legend has it that he made a deal with the devil for his talents.

As a young man living on a plantation in rural Mississippi, he had a burning desire to become the greatest blues musician. He was instructed to take his guitar to a crossroad near Dockery Plantation at midnight. There he was met by allegedly the devil who took the guitar and tuned it. The devil played a few songs and then returned the guitar to Johnson, giving him virtuosity of the instrument.All Robert had to give in exchange was his soul.

That soul was taken on August 16,1938 when he was aged 27, which also makes one of the first musicians to make it to the list of the the club of 27, the cause of his death has never really been solved. Popular believe is that he was poisoned during an altercation in a bar with  the jealous husband of a woman with whom he had flirted. It is said he was given a given a poisoned bottle of Whiskey after another bottle was knocked  out of his hand.

He only recorded 29 songs but there is yet another legend about a 30th song never recorded. This ‘missing’ song is the plot line of the 1986 movie ‘Crossroads’ in all honesty the movie isn’t great but the music is fantastic, especially the guitar duel between Ry Cooder and Steve Vai is something else.

August 16-1958 the Birth of Madonna

Madonna

Love her or loathe her there is no denying Madonna’s place in musical History, she is without a doubt the most influential female artist in decades.

Born Madonna Louise Ciccone on August 16, 1958 she became the leading female singer in the 80’s,90’s, and early 21st century. Although her acting and directing careers both turned out to be fiasco’s, when it comes to music there is no other like her. Staring off with poppy songs like ‘Borderline’ or ‘Like a Virgin’ she constantly reinvented herself and did not shy away from controversies.

She herself was influenced by 2 other strong female performers,Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde.

August 16-1962  the sacking of the Beatle, Pete Best.

Pete Best

The Beatles have been and still are one of the most influential bands ever, Their fame did not diminish after they split up. Kids nowadays still know them, and if you were to ask ,anyone to name the 4 band members people would say”John Lennon,Paul McCartney,George Harrison and Ringo Starr” however as the picture above indicates this wasn’t the original line up.

The original drummer was Pete Best but he was replaced by Ringo Starr on August 16,1962. There was no official reason given why he was sacked but according to Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager,Lennon, McCartney and Harrison thought that Best was “too conventional to be a Beatle” and added that “though he was friendly with John, he was not liked by George and Paul”

Originally the Beatles had been a 5 piece band, the original bass player Stuart Sutcliffe died in 1961, in Hamburg.

August 16-1977 the death of the King of Rock N Roll,Elvis.

Elvis the King

I am not going to say too much about the King, because I don’t think there is anybody on the planet who hasn’t heard of them.

This is me personal memory of the day he died on August 16,1977.

Death

I came home from school that day and my mother sat at the kitchen table, and she asked me “Guess who died today?” I replied “I don’t know, just tell me” She said ‘Elvis’. I was 9 at the time and pretended not to care. But I went up to my room and cried my eyes out, it felt I had just lost my best friend.

Leaving you with one of my favourite Elvis songs.

 

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