Basically, this is my singers and songwriters section. “Singers and Songwriters” was actually a category at one time (believe it or not). It usually consisted of huge artists who wrote and performed their own music. However, today I think it’s safe to say that “Easy Listening” took its place as most artists that were in the old category were mostly folk, ballads, and sometimes light jazz performers. Enjoy sifting through my light music selections.
Song: Fast Car
Artist: Tracy Chapman
Album: Tracy Chapman (1988)
Genre: Modern Folk
I’m pretty sure that anyone under 20 years of age has never heard of Tracy Chapman. As far as I’m concerned, I most definitely consider her a classic music legend. I also consider a huge legend of the LGBT community as well. For someone of the LGBT community to receive such a positive and accepting response globally was and is still very rare. Only a handful of LGBT icons have reached mainstream level. Perhaps the most widely known are Elton John, Melissa Etheridge, K.D. Lang, and Boy George. They’ve all made music that is literally timeless! We can listen to this kind of music in any point and time, and never feel their music sounds “dated.” Artists today just don’t have that kind of skill anymore. This is what happens when your career is purely driven by money, and not by the art of music.
I Always Thought She Was A Handsome Young Man! LOL
I was about 21 years old when her album called “Tracy Chapman (1988)” came out. I think I heard her smash hit on the radio “Fast Car,” then I went around begging my friends to tell me who that person was singing on the radio. Back then, cassettes was still the preferred way to consume music. When I first saw her picture on cassette, I said to myself “wow, that’s a cute guy.” Now, keep in mind, guys still had “Tracy” as a first-name, and sometimes both guys and girls would spell it the same way. So I still had no idea he was actually a she at first. LOL I really didn’t care to be honest, I was just digging her music. “Fast Car,” reached #6 on the billboard charts. Pretty impressive for a new LGBT artist on the scene at the time.
It’s Unfortunate That Her Peak Success Only Lasted Her Second Album!
Although only one song from this album was a hit, the entire album is quite good! I consider her music a “modern folk” type music. I haven’t enjoyed good folk music like that since Jim Croce. The entire album is relaxing, and it is playable from beginning to end. This is one of those “coming to age,” type albums. Come to think of it, that kind of music was very common for the 80s. You should check out “Across The Lines,” and “Baby Can I Hold You,” are two of my favorite songs from the album. Her next huge hit would be a song called “Give Me One Reason,” from her “New Beginning (1995)” album. The song shot up to #3 on the Top 100.
Song: I’m Not In Love
Genre: Easy Listening
The group 10cc is probably the biggest rock group of my time (in my opinion). Although they’ve been officially categorized as a rock group, their biggest hits of all time (with the exception of one) are technically in the real of easy listening. If you were into rock music, their name was easy to remember, and music that was unmistakably their own. I’ve often wondered why did they pick 10cc as a group name. There were many different reports, but the last one I’ve read, producer Johnathan King it came to him in a dream. Not to stereotype artists but…. It was a fact that most 80s rockers lived a particular lifestyle, and I think their name more likely came from the drug lifestyle. I suppose we’ll never know the real reason (if any).
They’re One Of The Greatest Rock Groups Of My Time!
10cc has gone through a lot of changes during their 40+ year career. Members came and gone, on and off again relationships. However, during that time they’ve managed to keep their fans. They’re definitely loved practically all around the world. One of their biggest hits I’m in love with, is called “I’m Not In Love (1975).” The song hit #1 in UK, Canada & Ireland; #2 in the US, #3 in Australia. This was a very, very popular song. I haven’t heard anything that was composed like it before. It sort of makes you want to listen to it because it’s so unique. But it’s also a beautiful love song, about a many who loves a woman so much that he can’t get his thoughts straight. Very well written if you ask me.
Collectively Speaking, They’ve Crushed The Music Charts!!
Just to give you an idea as to how huge “I’m not in love” was, as of today Spotify has this at 150M plays, I’ve only looked through a couple of YouTube plays and I stopped around 20M. Shazams has about 2.5 discoveries. I can’t find anything on iTunes, but I’m confident the numbers are around (if not more) that of Spotify. The fact that we’re living in a streaming culture where it appears a significant majority abandon the classics….. That’s freakin’ huge! Then again, to be fair, there is no way we can measure the people who are still faithful to their vinyls and cassettes. Decades later after they’ve released this song, there is no question that music fans still love them.
After 45 Years, Fans Are Still Grooving To This Song!
Some other great songs on their hit list you might remember is “The Things We Do For Love (1977),” from their “Deceptive Bends” album. This song hit #1 in Canada, and #5 in the US. A really, really great song that depicted our culture in the late 70s. Unlike the United States, the UK still has a strong reggae culture there. Songs like “Dreadlock Holiday (1978),” hit #1 in UK, Belgium, Ireland, and Dutch. However, in America it only peaked at #44 on the Top 100 Chart. There’s another reggae song called “I Don’t Like Cricket (I Love It) (c.2015).” Unfortunately, I don’t see any chart information for this song, but I remember hearing it quite a few times. It’s a remake, but it’s a great song nevertheless.
Song: To Where You Are
Artist: Josh Groban
Album: Josh Groban (2001)
Genre: Easy Listening
Wow! 😮 Throughout my music listening life, I’ve been exposed to many, many different type of voices and singing styles. It is extremely rare that I discover beautiful male voices such as today’s pick. Sometimes you come across talent to where there are no other words to describe them, but to say “he has the voice of an angel.” Funny, because (at least in America) when we use phrases like that, it’s usually in reference to a female. Perhaps, indirectly, our attitudes about male culture has subconsciously effected the way most male performers perform.
Josh Possesses Incredible Vocal Control!
I’ve been racking my brains trying to figure out who can I compare his music to, and he’s so unique that I just can’t at the moment. But, if I where forced to make one, he’s almost like what Barbra Streisand may have sounded like if she was born a male singer. In my opinion, I think that is a fair statement. When I first discovered Josh’s music, I was working in a very well known electronic retail store decades ago. Back then, many retailers had prerecorded paid advertisements that would play on the loud speaker, on a loop! Actually, it was more like listening to customized radio recordings designed to sell to the customer. The recordings were a mixture of commercials and new music (pre-release).
The First Time I Heard Josh’s Voice On Speaker…!
I completely forgot what I was doin’, but I’m pretty sure I was organizing store products on gondolas or something like that, when I heard Josh’s voice for the first time. The store was playing his then hit song “To Where You Are.” I said to myself, who the f**k is that? I fell in love with his music ever since. It was the only time I didn’t mind hearing the pre-recorded tracks on loop, because I looked forward to hearing his song again. Back then, music streaming really didn’t catch on yet, so I had no idea that he had quite a few albums before hand.
I’ve Heard Quite A Few Of His Televised Performances!
I’ve seen many of his live televised performances, and let me tell you, his voice is a force that cannot be reckoned with! Again, some of the best male performers I’ve heard don’t posses the vocal control he has. There is no question he has been classically trained. Some other songs I recommend you check out are, a duet with Barbra Streisand called “All I Know Of Love,” and a solo called “You Raise Me Up,” is a wonderful inspirational song (very heart felt). He also did a wonderful live duet with Celine Dione, with a song called “The Prayer.” Like I’ve always said earlier, I normally don’t like to listen to live recordings, unless I’m also watching it. But, they both did a wonderful job the this song. By the way, since I’ve mentioned Celine Dione, you should check out her duet with Andrea Bocelli, also singing “The Prayer.” Absolutely beautiful.
Song: Sexy Eyes
Artist: Dr. Hook
Genre: Soft Rock
To my small young readers, I know that today’s group is most likely waaaaay before your time, and perhaps out of your league. 🤣🤣 I know these guys probably look like a bunch of winos by today’s standards. However, don’t let looks fool you! These men where very talented, and produced quite a bit of hits under their belt. You know, it was kind of confusing…. Growing up, I’ve always assumed that the lead singer at the time, Ray Sawyer (the one with the eye patch), was Doctor Hook. Turns out I was wrong. The band’s name was actually “Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show,” but it was later shortened to just Dr. Hook.
This Group Had Natural Soul!
This band had a natural soulful sound that I really liked. By looking at how they looked, I would have never pictured in my mind how good they sounded. They produced several of my favorites for the 70’s/80s era. One of those biggest favorites is “Sexy Eyes (1980).” I still love to play this song on occasion. The song did very well on the charts. Canada & New Zealand had this song at #1, U.K. was at #4, and in the U.S. it reached #5. It’s such a great song. If you meet someone new, and you needed a song to try and court that person, this song would be perfect I think 😄. You know, despite this song being fully obscure, I mean, I haven’t heard any radio station play them in about the last 10-15 years. The song managed to racked up almost 19M streams on Spotify alone (perhaps more). That’s pretty damn good for an artist that’s been forgotten by many music fans.
Sadly, The Group Only Stayed Together For Barely 16 Years!
Unfortunately, for various reasons, the group did not stay together long. Although, I guess some people would say 16-17 years is still a long time to have enjoyed their music. By the time 2010 rolled along, two members have died from complications of their illnesses. Even Dennis Locorriere had his own battles with cancer before he eventually left the group (if I understand correctly). Update: Just saw an article that Ray Sawyer just past-away last year. Now, according to WIKI, the band discontinued some time in ’85. However, I found Dr. Hook’s website that kind of looks like their still active, practically made up of entirely new people (with the exception of Dennis Locorriere).
Two More Great Songs!
I would like to end my blog post with two more great songs. I think “When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman (1979),” was their biggest and most memorable hit in my opinion. It received even more streams, over 28M plays! The song did very well around the world, ending with the U.S. on the top 10 charts! Another huge favorite of mine, and was also hugely popular “Sharing The Night Together (1978),” with 28M streams under their belt. This is the kind of great music I grew up with as a child.
Song: I Wanna Love You Forever
Artist: Jessica Simpson
Album: Sweet Kisses (1999)
Ok, I’ve really changed gears on my readers today! Do you guys remember Jessica Simpson? I’m gonna make an assumption that ruffly the middle aged group have heard of her, or played her music. Boy, talk about celebrity media drama! This girl’s life stayed in the news! I used to wonder which celebrity had the most personal stuff out on the news; Jessica or Britney Spears! Actually on some songs, they kind of sound a like. LOL However, make no mistake, Jessica is the one with the real golden voice.
Media Portrayed Jessica As A Space Cadet!
Whether the news was about her then estranged relationship with her now ex-husband Nick Lachey, or her children, you name it, it was out there to be judged and ridiculed by the media. One of the main awful things I remembered about the media at the time, was how they did their damnedest to portray Jessica as stupid, or a “dumb blonde” if you will. Granted, I never knew her personally, I’m just a blogger. However, any fan that followed her career can see she’s not just a vocalist, she’s also a fashion designer, author, and an actress!
In order to do any one of those things, you must have some level of brain capacity. And I’m learning from experience, writing a book is NOT easy. I believe her album “Sweet Kisses (1999),” was her first. From that album “I Wanna Love You Forever” shot up to #3 on the Top 100 Charts. I think she sang the shit out of this song! It remains my most favorite out of all her work. On that same album, she has a song called “I Think I’m In Love With You,” using sample music from John Cougar Melloncamp’s song “Jack & Diane.” I really liked this one as well, but it only reached #21. Still a good number tho! Say what you will about Jessica, you can not deny her vocal talents.
Song: At Seventeen
Artist: Janis Ian
Album: Between The Lines (1975)
Genre: Folk Music
I guess I can safely say that anyone under 30 years of age either don’t remember Janis Ian, or just never heard of her before. It’s understandable, because today I think that most people around the globe barely listens to folk music anymore. And by the way, I don’t think it’s because people now see folk music as “boring,” or not enjoyable anymore. My personal opinion is that a significant amount of folk music from the 60s & 70s were very political, and it was from an era that most people can no longer relate to, or the lyrics are no longer applicable to the average person’s life anymore (I guess).
In 1975, Ian Crushed The Charts With Her Only One Top 10 Hit
“I learned the truth at seventeen,” was the first lyric sung that pretty much said it all!! Ian’s hit “At Seventeen,” was a very special song in my opinion because it was a song of re-contemplation, perhaps re-assessment of who you are. The blend of mellow music and meaningful lyrics sort of forced one to re-evaluate yourself. The song was appropriately titled “At Seventeen,” because all the lyrics described what I think almost every child has gone through at least one in their life. Particularly young girls. The question of beauty. Being physically worthy of having a relationship. Wondering if whether or not one can even compete in the harsh world perfectionism and good looks.
I also believed that the song hit #3 on the Top 100 Chart, because young people resonated with those lyrics. Speaking from experience, teenage social issues were emotionally heavy stuff in my era. And if you didn’t have the kind of parents with the kind of grace necessary to help you through some of those teenage issues, you become a basket case as an adult. Maybe if you read her lyrics you’ll understand what I mean. She also had a song that almost made Top 10 called “Society’s Child (Baby I’ve Been Thinking),” it only got as far up as the #14th position. I think Ian will only be most remembered for “At Seventeen.” It’s a shame because her first album “Between The Lines” was really an amazing album I think.
Song: Y Hubo Alguien
Artist: Marc Anthony
Album: Contra La Corriente (1997)
Genre: Latin Salsa
You know, as a blogger, it’s kind of scary when you write about some of your favorite artists, then you have that realization that…… “Oh shit, this song is over 20 years old!” So many songs I write about feel like it’s been only yesterday. I guess this is one of the many reasons people in my age group experience a massive culture shock (in regards to today’s music). What young kids today see as musically “hot,” is most likely not our cup of tea. On the other hand, if their parents wasn’t musically cultured, it’s inevitable that the kids isn’t going to have anything to compare what music to.
He Truly Loves Music
When I think about old school Latin artists, like the late Celia Cruz,the late Tito Puente, Willie Colon, Johnny Pacheco, or even younger artists, such as La India and perhaps Gloria Estefan. They all posses a certain special magic in their music that very few artists have today (not even J Lo, sorry to say). There’s a huge difference between being a performer, and being a musician. I’m not sure if I have any words to explain it. Then again, I’m sure the love of music is hard to explain because it’s very much part of emotion; and if you can’t connect on an emotional level (musically), I don’t believe we can truly explain it. It’s one of those things you have to see them perform, see their interaction with the audience, the expressions on their faces as the feel the music, etc.
I think Marc Anthony is one of those important, and still relevant musicians that posses that magic. If I had to pic one important quality about these people, I think it would be their ability to attract music lovers of all generations. And I think very few musicians accomplish this, because of not only the lack of culture, but today everything is done via keyboard! Marc Anthony has such an incredible voice, a distinctive voice, a voice with lots of vocal range. Marc could probably sing a whole album, with no band, and it would be a mega hit.
Ok, I’ve Babbled Enough LOL!
To be honest, most of the music I’ve liked by Marc Anthony have been in English. However, “Y Hubo Alguien,” I have to admit is a real favorite of mine. This song was so hot, I’ve even heard disc jockeys play this on English radio stations. Another Spanish old school I recommend is “Tu Amor Me Hace Bien (2004).” One of my favorite English Marc Anthony songs are “You Sang To Me (1999),” “I Need To Know (1999),” and “My Baby You (1999).”
Song: Deck The Halls
Artist: Nat King Cole
Album: The Christmas Song (1962)
Well, although I don’t celebrate Xmas anymore, given that my blog is about classic music, I thought it would be fitting to celebrate Xmas from a nostalgic point-of-view. Xmas for me now has a different meaning. It is not about the celebration of a savior, but the celebration of cherished memories of my late grandfather. Remembering him relax on his recliner while listening to ol’ Nat King Cole, gave me the joy of watching him enjoy his most favorite music, and letting his “hair down.” Without meaning to sound like I’m exaggerating, I think my grandfather was more religious than anyone I’ve ever met. And I don’t just mean that from the standpoint of belief, but the kind of person he was (in relation to what he believed).
Nat Has Been Immortalized By His Xmas Music!!
You know, I think when it comes to classic music being lost, Xmas seems to be the exception to the rule (so far). Unlike mainstream music we listen to frequently (and repetitively), we listen to Xmas music perhaps about 2 weeks consecutively, for once a year. Today, in the age of streaming, there is so much content out here that, if you don’t listen to a song for a couple of months, it’s forgotten about. Yet, this doesn’t seem to happen with Xmas music. I truly think it has a lot to do with the power Xmas has to bring families together in a way that goes far beyond even thanksgiving day. (just my opinion). Xmas music now becomes associated with that family time.
I know that I’ve selected Nat’s “Deck The Halls,” but, in reality, the whole entire album is a masterpiece. I haven’t met anyone who celebrates Xmas, who hasn’t enjoyed listening to this album from side A to B. Also, for my Boriqua readers, don’t for get about the cult classic Salsoul Orchestra! WOW! It seemed like everyone I knew growing up had the Xmas Jollies album. Here are some recommendations of classics that have been digitally reissued. “Santa Got A Bag Of Soul (2013),” by The Poets Of Rhythm; “Wonderful Xmas Time (2018),” by Diana Ross; “Mary’s Boy Child (2000),” by Harry Belafonte; “What Xmas Means To Me (2019),” by Stevie Wonder; “Put A Little Love In Your Heart (2001),” by Annie Lennox & Al Green (not exactly Xmas music but it fits the spirit); and finally “Dear Santa (Bring Me a Man This Christmas) (2014),” by The Weather Girls.