Friday, January 17, 2020

Musical Roots

Classic MoTown
A friend recently asked me about my musical roots.
"What song is guaranteed to make you speed in your car? Dance in your seat? Sing out loud?"
I'm always looking for cool songs to play on the ukulele. Time to dig back into my archive and choose some cool sides!

I can always bop to the pop music from my youth, which is classic Mo-Town (including the 4 Tops, Marvin Gaye, Jackson 5, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Marvelettes, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Supremes, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, etc.), classic surf music (including Beach Boys, Dick Dale, The Surfaris, The Ventures, Jan and Dean, The Chantays, etc. The teen songs from the Brill Building in New York, by composers such as Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka, Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, Cynthia Weil, Howard Greenfireld, Ellie Greenwich and Burt Bacharach. The groups of the British Invasion years, such as the Beatles, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones. During my later high school and early college years I was crazy for Carole King, Elton John, James Taylor, Crosby/Stills and Nash, The Flying Burrito Bros., The Byrds, The Doors.

THEN, I spent years doing the folkie, bluesgrass, blues and country thang. My older brother is a musician so I used to tag along with him to the historic folk and jazz hangouts of Los Angeles: The Ashgrove, The Troubadour, The Golden Bear, The Lighthouse, etc. I was exposed to American Roots music early on. By ROOTS, we mean the Roots of rock 'n roll. Rock comes from blues, country, rockabilly, jazz. In the late 80's and early 90's I was the board operator and engineer for Billy Vera's Rock 'n Roll Party on KCRW-FM. Billy has an impressive knowledge of American music. I learned a tremendous amount about early rock 'n roll from him. I grooved to oldies from the 50's and 60's, along with swamp rock from New Orleans.

In the late 90's and early 2000 I co-hosted a blues radio show on KPCC-FM. This was another educational opportunity for me to learn more about American music...I learned to love early black gospel music, all kinds of blues, zydeco, cajun music, norteno music, polka, etc.
Ellen on the Radio
Notice the Silver "45" insert around my neck!
Phew! So, after all that, here are the somewhat esoteric songs that get me going, put me in a good mood and make me dance:

10. "Polka Changed My Life Today" by Rotundi
9. "Zydeco Gumby Ya-Ya" by Brave Combo
8. Any song from the original movie soundtracks of "Hairspray" or "Crybaby" (John Waters' Baltimore Rock)
7. "Dragnet for Jesus" by Wynona Carr
6. "Raised by Hippies" by I See Hawks in L.A.
5. "Sam's Place" by Buck Owens
6. "Kiko and the Lavender Moon" by Los Lobos
4. "4th of July" by Dave Alvin and the Allnighters
3. "At Last" by Etta James
2. "Eat The Lunch You Brought" by Jeff Turmes
1. "It's Raining" by Irma Thomas

There you have it! I'm old, but I'm bold!

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At 4:35 PM PST, Blogger Paul Lacques said...

Thanks!!! Wow, two songs, this makes my week!


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