Tag Archives: Michael Jackson

An Afternoon With the Musical Marcellino Family

4 Dec

This semester at Cumberland University, I taught History of American Music, which is the proper name for the School of Rock. I started with the music that inspired the early Rock n’ Roll stars and followed the evolution of that genre through the decades. We covered everything.

At the end of several classes, Michaela, one of my best students, said that her dad and granddad knew who we had discussed. At some point, I said that they needed to talk to the class. Well, a few weeks ago they did just that and told a lot of amazing stories.

Her grandfather Jerry Marcellino has had an amazing career. He began as a musician and was the opening act for a lot of established artists. Heck, he was on tour with Jerry Lee Lewis when the world found out that he was married to his 13-year-old cousin.

Jerry’s career as a musician did not work out, but he made his way into producing and songwriting. This began with his relationship with members of Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass and continued until he worked for Berry Gordy at Motown. In that job, he worked with Michael Jackson, The Supremes, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson and The Commodores.

The students really like his stories about Michael Jackson. They used to draw cartoons and trade with each other during recording breaks. Michael also pranked called Jerry, but he always knew it was Michael.

Michaela’s dad Yochanan Marcellino grew up around all of those people and eventually made his way into the musical profession as a manager. Through the years, he worked with Kansas, Jose Feliciano, Chaka Kahn, Lou Rawls and the Captain and Tennille. He is now a movie producer and is working on a film about Rocky Marciano.

However, they are not the only Marcellinos who have made an impact in the music business.

Muzzy Marcellino was a fantastic whistler who whistled for John Wayne in The High and the Mighty and who can be heard whistling in Hugo Montenegro’s version of the The Good, the Bad and the Ugly theme.

Jocko Marcellino was an original member of Sha Na Na and performed at Woodstock.

Dennis Marcellino was a member of Sly and the Family Stone.

Vince Guaraldi, whose mother was a Marcellino, wrote themes for the Peanuts cartoons.

In short, Michaela’s family lived the storied that I had been telling in class all semester. It was a true honor to meet them and have them talk to my class.

 

My iPod Has Issues – Family Night

30 Apr

I am sitting at the kitchen counter and seeing what is going on in the WordPress world. My wife is sitting in the chair and scrolling through her Facebook feed. My stepdaughter is in her room listening to music. We are all trying to recover from our big meal at one of the local Mexican restaurants.Los

This means that it is a good time to explore the strange world of my iPod. I am going to put in on shuffle and see what happens.

“I Love” by Tom T. Hall

“Forcemarker” by Brian Eno

“Making Love Out of Nothing at All” by Air Supply

“Dear Mr. Fantasy” by Traffic

“Hells Bells” by AC/DC

“Pinball Cha Cha” by Yello

“Blue Collar Suicide” by The Refreshments

“Bluer Than Blue” by Michael Johnson

“4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” by The Hollies

“Thriller” by Michael Jackson

“Pusherman” by Curtis Mayfield

“Spoonful” by Howlin’ Wolf

“Rainy Night in Georgia” by Brook Benton

“I Can’t Hear the Whisper” by John Jarvis and Jonell Mosser

“Why Do Fools Fall in Love” by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers

“Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash

“Tennessee Whiskey” by David Allan Coe

“Puttin’ On the Ritz” by TACO

“D-I-V-O-R-C-E” by Tammy Wynette

“Let’s Trade a Little” by Audrey Bryant

There you have it – the family night playlist.

The Soundtrack of My Youth – 1987

14 Apr

Looking back, 1987 was a big year in the life of me. I started the year as a high school student and ended it as a college student. That is always one of life’s great transitions. However, the year was big for another reason.

That was the year I first met my wife. Of course, it was 26 years before we got married. One of these days, I will write that story.

On this day, I need to complete this soundtrack that I started. Honestly, I did not think it would take this long. Anyway, here are the Number One songs of 1987.1987

The Bangles and “Walk Like an Egyptian” remained in the Number One spot as the year began. However, they were soon replaced with “Shake You Down” by Gregory Abbott. Yeah, I do not remember him, either.

After a week, he was replaced by “At This Moment” by Billy Vera and the Beaters. A little research shows that this song was greatly helped by its inclusion on Family Ties, the sitcom that made Michael J. Fox famous.

Madonna, who was creating hits like crazy, entered the Number One position with “Open Your Heart”.

However, she could not hold off the onslaught that was Bon Jovi. “Livin’ on a Prayer” was the year’s first big hit and stayed at the top for four weeks.

They were replaced by another band that personified the 1980s, Huey Lewis and the News. For one week “Jacob’s Ladder” was on everyone’s radios.

That one week at the top gave way to “Lean on Me” by Club Nouveau. Of course, that was a remake of the classic by Bill Withers.

Guess who comes next. You would be wrong if you said Jefferson Airplane. You would be wrong if you said Jefferson Starship. You would be right if you said Starship. They had a bunch of hits for a band who could not figure out what to call themselves. Anyway, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” made it to Number One.

Thankfully, they were dispatched by Aretha Franklin and George Michael. “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” hit Number One and announced to the world that the other guy from Wham! was no longer around.

A memorable 1980s song came next. “(I Just) Died in Your Arms” made girls swoon and made Cutting Crew famous.

A little band called U2 and a song called “With or Without You” stayed Number One for three weeks. Then, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by Kim Wilde went wild.

That was followed by Atlantic Starr with “Always” and Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with “Head to Toe”.

That is when Whitney Houston returned to the top with “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”. That is when the Wilson sisters, otherwise known as Heart, told everyone that they were “Alone”.

Who took their place? Axel Foley. Well, that is not totally accurate. “Shakedown” by Bob Seger was spotlighted in Beverly Hills Cop II. Of course, that movie starred Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley.

After one week, the power of U2 surged to the top. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” were their second Number One of the year.

Then, Madonna had another Number One with “Who’s That Girl”. It looks like a trend was developing among the 1980s superstars. They kept making their way to the top. I guess that is why they are superstars.

Another remake, “La Bamba”, made it to Number One for Los Lobos. The Ritchie Valens song returned with a movie that reminded everyone who he was and what happened to him.

The King of Pop, Michael Jackson returned to Number One with “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”. However, he had help. It was a duet with Siedah Garrett.

Whitney Houston had a big year that continued with “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”.

Then, we get to a real band. Whitesnake was one of my favorites. Hair Metal. How can you beat that? Anyway, “Here I Go Again” broke through all of the pop and brought some guitars to the scene. I saw them while they were touring for this album. It was an awesome experience. I guess I could write about it at some point.

For some reason, they were replaced by “Lost in Emotion” by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. Obviously, the general public had no taste.

Michael Jackson came back with “Bad”. However he was not bad enough to hold off a singer who could have only made it in the 1980s. Tiffany remade “I Think We’re Alone Now”, which was more famously recorded by Tommy James and the Shondells. I have to admit that I had a big crush on Tiffany. Of course, I did not care about her singing.

Then, the unthinkable happened. Another old song by Tommy James and the Shondells hit Number One. I wonder if anyone noticed. This time, it was “Mony Mony” as sung by Billy Idol.

The lovebird duet by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes came next. “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life) was featured in Dirty Dancing. In 1987, every girl wanted to travel back to the 1960s and vacation in the Catskills. It was sickening.

Belinda Carlisle hit big with “Heaven Is a Place on Earth”. However, the end of the year ended with George Michael completely burying what was left of Wham! “Faith” announced him established him as a hit-making solo artist.

There you have it. The years of 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987 were my time in high school, and the songs in these posts were the Number One hits of my formative years. I still like some of them, but, thankfully, my musical taste was not completely destroyed.

 

 

 

 

The Soundtrack of My Youth – 1985

7 Apr

Wow, I cannot believe that 1985 was thirty years ago. I started the year as a sophomore and ended the year as an upperclassman. For a high school kid, that makes all the difference in the world. I could not play an instrument, but I could play the radio.1985

The year began with Madonna continuing her “Like a Virgin” dominance of the charts. In fact, the entire month of January belonged to her.

In February, her song was replaced by “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner. It was one of my favorites and was a big deal for a kid who really wondered what love was all about.

It was soon replaced with “Careless Whisper” by Wham! featuring George Michael. This should have been a clear signal to the other guy. George was about to be the star of the duo. I guess that is why I call him the other guy.

REO Speedwagon was up next with “Can’t Fight This Feeling”. Honestly, I never understood the fascination with this band or this song.

“One More Night” started a big year for Phil Collins. This would be the first of three Number One songs for the singer/drummer. Or, is it drummer/singer?

Phil Collins was good, but he could not hold off a bunch of stars raising money for Africa. “We Are the World” was a song, an event and a pretty good video. It was performed by USA for Africa, a group of singers who were not all from the USA. Ever wonder who took part in this project? Wonder no more. The group was made up of (in alphabetical order):

Dan Aykroyd, Harry Belafonte, Lindsey Buckingham, Kim Carnes, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Sheila E., Bob Geldof, Hall and Oates, James Ingram, Jackie Jackson, La Toya Jackson, Marlon Jackson, Michael Jackson, Randy Jackson, Tito Jackson, Al Jarreau, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis and the News, Kenny Loggins, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, Jeffrey Osborne, Steve Perry, The Pointer Sisters, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick and Stevie Wonder

It stayed on top for four weeks before Madonna struck back with “Crazy for You”.

She stayed in that spot for a week and was knocked out by a song that played over the end credits of a movie. The Breakfast Club struck a chord with high school kids, and “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds was the song that made this chord stick.

Wham! returned with “Everything She Wants” and made sure “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” would have to be remembered because, after one week, it was a thing of the past.

Then, one of my favorite 1980s groups hit the Number One spot. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears was, in my opinion, the best song of the year.

Unfortunately, it was soon replaced by the overrated Bryan Adams with “Heaven”.

“Sussudio” by Phil Collins made sure that Bryan Adams went away. Although, I still have not figured out who or what Sussudio is supposed to be.

James Bond could save the world, but he could also put a theme song at the top of the carts. “A View to a Kill” by Duran Duran held the Number One spot for two weeks. They did it despite being connected to Roger Moore, one of my least favorite 007s.

Paul Young and “Everytime You Go Away” accomplished what no villain could. He defeated James Bond. However, he did not hold on for long.

Tears for Fears returned with “Shout”, which was not as good as their previous hit. I have no idea how it stayed at the top longer than the other one.

I admit that the 1980s were cheesy. That cheesiness was defined by Huey Lewis and the News, a group that hit Number One with “The Power of Love”.

Unfortunately for Huey, the Brat Pack would not be denied. They drove Simple Minds to the top. Now, they did the same thing for John Parr. “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” was the theme song for the movie with the same name.

The fire was doused by one of the greatest videos of the 1980s. “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits provided a regular person’s view of music superstardom. The video was early computerization at its best. The song was Number One for three weeks and was followed by a string of one-week wonders.

“Oh Sheila” by Ready for the World started the trend. That was followed by “Take On Me” by a-ha, a song that was driven by its awesome video.

Whitney Houston had a Number One song with “Saving All My Love for You” and was followed by Stevie Wonder with “Part-Time Lover”. It looks as if those songs have two different philosophies.

Another theme song reached the peak of the charts. “Miami Vice Theme” by Jan Hammer was an instrumental that took the country by storm. Of course, Miami Vice also took the country by storm and influenced 1980s lifestyle and fashion. This is where I should admit that I have never seen an episode of Miami Vice. I may be a product of the 1980s, but I still have television taste. Give me The Equalizer and The A-Team anytime.

Jefferson Airplane? Jefferson Starship? Starship? They need to make up their minds. Anyway, Starship had a hit called “We Built This City”.

The year could not end without another Phil Collins hit. However, “Separate Lives” was a duet with Marilyn Martin.

Another typical 1980s group replaced the work of Phil and Marilyn. “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister held the top position for two weeks. However, the year ended with the return of Lionel Richie and “Say You, Say Me”.

Did you have any favorites that did not reach Number One? Let me know.

 

 

 

 

The Soundtrack of My Youth – 1984

6 Apr

The year when people who had never heard of George Orwell suddenly knew all about him. The year I got my first car and could cruise the Main with my radio blaring. Yep, 1984 was an interesting year. It was also a good year for some new artists and for some artists who had been around for a while.1984

The year began the way 1983 ended. “Say Say Say” by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson was at the top of the charts and would stay there for a couple of more weeks.

They were knocked out of that spot by Yes. This band had been around for years and hit the top with “Owner of a Lonely Heart”. The song stayed on top for two weeks but was overtaken by a new group that became one of the definitions of the 1980s.

Culture Club, led by Boy George, gained everyone’s attention with “Karma Chameleon”. They held the Number One position for three weeks. Then, they found themselves up against a band that liked to be called hard rock, but I am not sure about that.

“Jump” by Van Halen remained Number One for five weeks in February and March. I like a good Hard Rock hair band, but this bunch was too cheesy for my taste. This was never one of my favorite songs.

Thankfully, they were jumped by someone else. Less thankfully, it was another cheesy song. It was also from a cheesy movie. “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins proved that he had moved on from his days Jim Messina. It also proved that teenagers will watch any dumb movie with music and dancing.

Interestingly, “Footloose” was replaced by another song from another soundtrack. “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” by Phil Collins came from a movie of the same name. It was another typical 198s movie but was geared towards adults rather than kids. It was also one of the last films of Richard Widmark, one of the all time great actors.

Phil Collins had been a member of Genesis before going on to a solo career. He lost the top spot to another singer who was doing the same thing. Lionel Richie had been a member of The Commodores. Now, he had another hit song with “Hello”.

“Let’s Here It for the Boy” by Deniece Williams was Number One for a couple of weeks and was followed by a string of performers who typified the music of the 1980s. In fact, the summer of 1984 was dominated by three artists.

It began with “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper and continued with one of my favorite groups, Duran Duran. How can you go wrong with a group named after a character in Barbarella? Anyway, they saw “The Reflex” go to Number One.

Duran Duran stayed there for a couple of weeks. Then, they were replaced by the biggest hit of 1984. “When Doves Cry” by Prince is an awesome song that stayed at the top of the charts for five weeks, including the entire month of July.

It gave way to another song from a movie. However, this was not just any movie. Ghostbusters was about a group of guys who rid New York City of apparitions. Then, they almost met their match went they went up against a gigantic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Oh yeah, “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker, Jr. went Number One.

Then, the music world saw the triumphant return of a 1960s icon. After a life filled with struggle, Tina Turner, from Nutbush, Tennessee, returned to the charts with “What’s Love Got to Do with It”. She stayed at Number One for three weeks.

For one week, “Missing You” by John Waite reached the peak of the charts. However, it feel away under the power of Prince, who had his second Number One song with “Let’s Go Crazy”.

Another star of the 1960s and 1970s returned to the charts in October. “I Just Called to Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder was Number One for three weeks.

“Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)” by Billy Ocean was next in line. Here is something interesting. Depending on the region of the world, the title and lyrics changed.

Another quintessential 1980s act reached the top in November. “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” took Wham! to the top of the charts.

They were overtaken by another duo but one that had several hits. Hall and Oates returned to Number One with “Out of Touch” and remained there for two weeks.

Another newcomer replaced them, but this newcomer was taking her first step toward becoming a trendsetter and superstar. She would do that through music and lifestyle. The year 1984 ended with the introduction of Madonna. “Like A Virgin” spent the last two weeks of the year at Number One. I am sure it was played at a ton of New Years Eve parties.

Those are the Number One songs of 1984. Obviously, those were not all of the artists putting out music. What were some of your favorite 1984 songs?

The Soundtrack of My Youth – 1983

5 Apr

When we get into the car, my stepdaughter hooks her iPod up to the system, and the sounds of the 2010s come blasting through the speakers. She sings and can tell us anything we want to know about the people who are singing. Without her, my pop culture knowledge would be zero.

Some of the music is good, and some of it is less desirable. However, it is always fun to see how much enjoyment she gets out of it.

The other day, we were riding and jamming when I started thinking about the effect of music on our formative years. These are the songs we grow up with, and they stick with us throughout our lives. I came to age in the 1980s and, like others my age, feel a connection to the music of that time. I am not saying it was the best of all time, but it belongs to us.

The songs of the 1980s are the soundtrack of our youth just as the songs of the 2010s are the soundtrack of my stepdaughter’s youth. Because of that, each generation holds its music in a little higher esteem than everyone else does.

With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to look back at my high school years and see what was at the top of the charts. I entered high school in 1983, and that will be our starting point. I will also use the Billboard Top 100. Obviously, there are other charts for other genres, but we do not want to go down a rabbit hole and never get out.1983

“Maneater” by Hall and Oates held the spot for the first two weeks of the year. These days, John Oates does a lot of work in Nashville.

The next three weeks were dominated by “Down Under” by Men at Work. This is one of my favorite songs from that year.

For one week, Toto’s “Africa” hit the top spot. It is interesting that two songs about other parts of the world made their way to the top of the American charts. It is also interesting that Men at Work returned to the top place after this one week.

Patti Austin and James Ingram hit it big with “Baby, Come to Me”, but were soon overwhelmed by a 1980s superstar.

In March, “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson became the Number One song and stayed there for seven weeks.

Here is a good trivia question. Who knocked “Billie Jean” out of the top spot? It was Dexys Midnight Runners with “Come On Eileen”. However, their success was short-lived.

After one week, Michael Jackson came back by putting “Beat It” in the top spot. It would stay there for three weeks.

The next week, “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie made its way to Number One, but it did not hold on for long.

Irene Cara’s “Flashdance…What a Feeling” was a hit on the radio and on the big screen. For six weeks, guys listened to this song and pictured a dancer pouring water on herself.

A song about stalking was next on the list. “Every Breath You Take” by The Police is a good song, but it gets weird as you listen closer to the lyrics. Actually, it was the biggest hit of 1983 and stayed Number One for eight weeks.

Eurythmics rode “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” up the charts. In my mind, this is also one of the best songs of the year.

Then, we have “Maniac” by Michael Sembello. This is the second song from the Flashdance soundtrack to make it to the top of the charts.

Billy Joel was on top with “Tell Her About It” for one week and was overtaken by “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler. This is also one of my favorites and held its position for four weeks.

The country went the Pop Country route with “Islands in the Stream” by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. They are both in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

They were at the top for two weeks before Lionel Richie came through with “All Night Long (All Night)” in November. He stayed there for four weeks.

The year ended with a four-week stay at the top by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson. “Say Say Say” was a duet that proves McCartney is not new to collaboration. His recent work with Kanye West and Rihanna is just the most recent example.

That is it for 1983. In the next post, we will look at 1984 and find out which of these performers kept their momentum into the next year.

Obviously, these are not the only songs of the year. What were some of your favorites?

 

 

 

Observations from a Justin Timberlake Concert

22 Dec

Justin Timberlake brought his tour to Nashville, and we went to see him. My wife saw him because she thinks he is one of the greatest humans on the planet. I saw him because my wife thinks he is one of the greatest humans on the planet. I also saw him because he is one of those people who I think a concert addict should see.

The arena was packed, and no one was disappointed. Justin Timberlake is an extraordinary entertainer who can sing, dance and make the crowd feel like they are part of the show. Everything about his band was great. Horns. Backup singers. Dancers. Everyone on stage was top-notch. It was an event more than it was a concert. It was one of those shows that brings out the Who’s Who of the Nashville music industry.

I did not know many of the songs and was lost when he asked the crowd to sing along, but even an old AC/DC fan like me got caught up in the excitement.

With all of that being written, I came away from the concert with a few observations.

1. The 15th row is a great place to sit. When I made up my mind to get tickets, I wanted them to be good and ended up getting them through a package. We had to pick up the tickets at the door and had no idea where they would be. They ended up being in the middle of all the action. We were surrounded by lights and sound.image-18

2. Most of the women dressed as if Justin Timberlake could see them from the stage and, if they look good enough, get invited to leave the arena with him. They must have forgotten that there is a woman named Jessica Biel.

3. On the subject of being seen from the stage, there was a woman in front of us who kept holding up a sign. There were several fancy signs that people had spent a great deal of time making. They lit up. They said cool things. They were close to the stage where he could see them.

The woman in front of us made the sign after she got to the show. On the back of a white poster, she wrote “Grizzlies” with a pen. Justin Timberlake is one of the owners of the Memphis Grizzlies. It was not a sign that he was going to notice, but she was determined to hold it up.

Her friend, realizing that it was blocking the view of others, asked her to take it down. When she refused, the friend forced her to take it down. The woman who made the sign sat down and did not stand up for the rest of the show.

The sign lady was obviously inebriated, and that brings a question to my mind. If someone is blasted at a concert, then have they really been to the concert? People have told me that concerts and other moments in life are better experienced in an altered state. To those people, I say you are full of crap. I will experience concerts and other moments in life with my senses running at their naturally sharp state.

4. Justin Timberlake kept saying how happy he was to be in Tennessee and how it is his favorite state. Every performer says that wherever they are. However, I think he really meant it. After all, he is a native Tennessean, and his band is called the Tennessee Kids. We can excuse the fact that he is from Memphis.

5. He also talked about how great it was to be in the Country Music Capital of the World and fell into the trap that a lot of performers find themselves in. He invited a country artist to the stage. I cannot count all of the concerts I have attended where some local artist joined in on a song. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it does not. The greatest sacrilege was when Vince Gill played guitar alongside Eric Clapton.

Anyway, Justin Timberlake was joined by Garth Brooks. Granted, Garth was a superstar of the last century, but he looked like some bum who walked in off the street. Carrie Underwood was at the concert. I think she would have fit in better with the style of the show.image-19

6. At one point, Justin Timberlake made his way to the center of the arena in one of the coolest ways possible. Half of the stage lifted him up and carried him there. That is when he offered up a few tributes to fallen stars. First, he sang an Elvis Presley song and asked everyone to remember his greatness. Then, he sang a Michael Jackson song and asked everyone to remember him.

On the surface, this made sense. He, like Elvis, is from Memphis and was probably influenced by the presence of his memory. Also, he has probably been influenced by Michael Jackson’s style of performing. He dances. He sings. He is a complete performer.

However, I had the feeling that something else was going on. Elvis was the King of Rock and Roll. Michael was the King of Pop. It could be that Justin wants to be considered the King of whatever today’s music is called. It is a lofty goal but one that I feel he cannot reach.

Elvis was a groundbreaking performer who brought something new to the eyes and ears of the masses. Michael was doing things that his contemporaries could not compete with. Although Justin is an awesome performer, I get the feeling that other performers can put on just as great a show.

None of this is to disparage the show. Justin Timberlake performed one of the best concerts I have ever seen. He is an awesome performer, and I am glad that we got to see him. There are a few people I would see more than once, and he is one of them.