Ted Tocks Covers Hall of Fame – Year Three Inductees #MusicisLife #TedTocksCovers #BobDylan #NeilYoung #TomPettyandtheHeartbreakers #TheTragicallyHip

Today’s Ted Tocks Covers feature continues the annual tradition that began in 2021. In the throes of a COVID induced malaise I established the Ted Tocks Covers Hall of Fame in order to pay tribute to the artists that had such an obvious influence on so many of the posts that I was sharing. Patterns became apparent, and certain names came up frequently. Out of this connection, an opportunity emerged to pay homage to a handful of artists, aiming demonstrate this lineage in one place. The result of this saw the year one inductees include:

The Beatles

The Rolling Stones

Led Zeppelin

Willie Dixon

In year two, COVID lingered, and the promise to continue this celebration gave way to my four favourite songwriters being honoured:

Grateful Dead/Robert Hunter

Warren Zevon

Rush/Neil Peart

John Prine

Choosing the four artists to commemorate as part of this year’s inductions seemed easy at first, but then I began to second guess myself to some extent. After a fair bit of deliberation, I landed on Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Tom Petty (and the Heartbreakers) and The Tragically Hip. Someday, Ted Tocks Covers may need to establish a committee. One thing is for sure. I hope the process for the Ted Tocks Covers Hall of Fame never becomes as jaded as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Let’s be clear, right here and now, there is little connection between the two.

Here, I will humbly state, as the Ted Tocks Covers institution quietly unfolds, it is becoming apparent that it is infinitely more consistent and from an artistic perspective I humbly submit, it is better.

From here, I will let you decide.

If you click through to the many links that will be shared below you will travel avenues to over 75 songs and countless artists. Based on the fact that this is year three, if you click on the links for year one and two you have the opportunity to enjoy about 200 more songs and another plethora of acts that were either inspired by, or evolved from their influence. Whatever the case may be.

This is important to share because in essence the root of Ted Tocks Covers is to demonstrate the lineage of music, artists and songwriters through the decades. The Ted Tocks Covers mission speaks to this effort and through this Hall of Fame project the best of the best continues to be celebrated.

Enough of this preamble. Let’s get to it.

The first inductee for year three is Bob Dylan.

There is little Ted Tocks Covers can say that has not already been said. His career has spanned 60 years and counting. Honours have been heaped upon him, and words have been shared in an effort to glorify his contribution to music, poetry, song writing and culture. Sometimes artists manage to transcend their discipline. They become that important. Bob Dylan is definitely more than any one label people might try to attach to him. He is a philosopher who has managed to bridge generations with his wisdom and intellect. He established himself as a Woody Guthrie disciple. His evolution saw him become a folk music icon within a short time. Not to be typecast he famously went electric, much to the chagrin of the music establishment. This was such a significant event that people still refer to it almost 60 years later.

None of the controversy mattered, because looking back, it is all so clear. Bob Dylan was always going to do things his way. This single-minded approach, defines rock and roll rebellion. Perhaps more importantly it describes freedom.

True freedom. The kind that matters. I am talking about freedom of expression. But, this comes with the responsibility of choosing your words carefully and using them in such a way that they inspire positive change, understanding, and a better society.

At his best, this is the place where Bob Dylan resides. He eschews any semblance of worship. Let’s set that aside. Just spend some time focusing on the message, or like Bruce Springsteen said in his induction speech, open your mind;

The way that Elvis Presley freed your body, Bob Dylan freed your mind.”

Bruce Springsteen

While researching this post, I spent some time looking for a quote that captured the essence of how Bob Dylan should be remembered. This quote by filmmaker David Chase captured it well.

You see Michelangelo and Picasso and you read literature. I had some innate inchoate yearning for that, but I never really saw where I would fit in. That’s called art. And then something happened to pop music, which is that it became art under the hand of the Beatles, the Stones, and Bob Dylan and some other people.”

David Chase

Bob Dylan is an artist.

Enjoy this series of features shared over the five-year span of Ted Tocks Covers.

Maggie’s Farm – A song so great, Ted Tocks Covers featured it twice.

Here is Bruce Springsteen, who was one of many to be hailed as ‘the next Bob Dylan’. In this video the Boss is inducting Dylan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Bob’s voice somehow – it thrilled and scared me. It made me feel kind of irresponsibly innocent. And it still does.”

Bruce Springsteen

“Irresponsibly innocent…”

Consider for a moment, that Springsteen’s second album was called ‘The Wild, the Innocent & the E-Street Shuffle’.

Coincidence? I think not.

Naturally, Bob Dylan’s acceptance was very brief and without a whole lot of platitudes. As always, he chose to let the music do the talking.

If you are looking for anything truly profound from Bob Dylan you may need to wait. Here, he summarizes his approach to life in one sentence.

I kind of live where I find myself.”

Bob Dylan

If he comes across as a little reluctant to be seen as some sort of mystical guru, perhaps he can be forgiven. He has been imparting his wisdom through his music and thought-provoking lyrics for over 60 years.

You’re going to die. You’re going to be dead. It could be 20 years, it could be tomorrow, anytime. So am I. I mean, we’re just going to be gone. The world’s going to go on without us. All right now. You do your job in the face of that, and how seriously you take yourself you decide for yourself.”

Bob Dylan

My recommendation to anyone is to keep people guessing. It has worked for Bob.

Next up in the chronological presentation of year three inductees is Neil Young.

Over the years. Ted Tocks Covers has written 15 posts featuring this artist.  

For me, Neil Young was like a rite of passage in a musical indoctrination. Truthfully, I was just one of a throng that numbered well into the millions. I can really identify with this quote by Ray Lamontagne.

I was really lost for a while in my teens. I was angry. But when I found music – Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell – it was a new discovery. It was a door to this other world where I wanted to be. “

Ray Lamontagne

It all began in Miss Beber’s grade 9 art class. Entering high school, I was an awkward misfit who struggled with transition. Leaving grade 8 I felt like I was part of something big, but the move to secondary school left me feeling grossly self-conscious. I lacked confidence to a point that on occasion I existed in a near catatonic state. Fortunately, Miss Beber had a way with her students and for some reason her focus, gravitated to me. She taught me art, where in all reality I had no real ability, and more importantly she become a mentor in her other role as an English teacher.

Each day, Miss Beber, allowed us to draw and paint while listening to music. It was here that an older student named Dave brought in ‘Live Rust’. We listened intently as we worked, while Dave professed his admiration. He dared anyone to defy the premise that we were listening to a master at work. I listened and I worked. I briefly lifted my head and nodded in agreement. Our eyes met. He knew he had introduced another fan.

For Neil Young’s part, he resisted the idea that he was at the top of the mountain. He reserved that space for one person.

I will never be Bob Dylan. He’s the master.”

Neil Young

As much as Neil Young has always been about being incredibly prolific, much of his art form speaks to the purity of what he was producing. It has to sound good. In many ways, each time he creates, he is preserving a moment.

Back then people closed their eyes and listened to music. Today there’s a lot of images that go with the music. A lot of music is crap and it’s all commercial and the images are all trying to sell the record.”

Neil Young

Amen!

Here are the Ted Tocks Covers features that include Neil Young. Somehow, it seems like I wrote more. Admittedly, they do not (for the most part) include covers or songs he played with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Enjoy!

Neil Young was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Eddie Vedder. Some call Eddie a Neil Young disciple or protégé. Neil Young credits Pearl Jam and Kurt Cobain for inspiring him to rock again. Let’s call it a mutual admiration society.

Like Neil says…

‘Rust Never Sleeps’

He lives by the credo that rock and roll will never die. For Neil Young, these are not just words. It is his mission. Anyone who can’t see the quality and purpose behind his work is willfully ignorant.

Probably wearing a MAGA hat and listening to Kid Rock.

Enjoy this combination of Eddie Vedder’s induction speech and Uncle Neil’s acceptance, that on occasion is laced with Neil’s wit. This is fun to watch because Neil is so comfortable in the moment.

These words from Vedder really struck me.

He taught us a lot as a band about dignity and commitment and about playing in the moment…I’m just glad that he’s still here…some of his best songs are on his last record.”

Eddie Vedder

This is so true on many levels.

For me, Neil Young represented an annual pilgrimage from my home town of Acton to Toronto to see Neil Young play a variety of venues in his (sort of0 home city. From 1984 through 1990 I saw Neil play and true to form there was no telling what he was going to bring to the stage. We got a sampling of rock and roll, country, blues, rockabilly, garage band, grunge and even a smattering of new-wave techno. Some sat through it, waiting impatiently for the hits, while others immersed themselves in the quality of the artist who stood before them.

When people start asking you to do the same thing over and over again, that’s when you know you’re way too close to something that you don’t want to be near.”

Neil Young

Like Bob Dylan suggested, Neil Young always worked in the moment. As a listener you were invited along for the ride. You could either hop in and appreciate every note, or languish on the side of the road.

Ironically, whoever picked you up eventually was likely listening to Neil Young too.

At least that was the case in Acton..

Next up is Tom Petty, or perhaps more appropriately, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Ted Tocks Covers has a ‘Tom Petty Rule’. If Ted Tocks features the song and Tom Petty covered it, it shall be shared. It’s that simple.

In short, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are one of the best bands of my lifetime. They represent an example of an act that emerged at the dawn of my musical journey and lasted through to Tom’s sudden death in 2017.

I still struggle to type those words.

But the music lives on. Fortunately, his family and friends in the Heartbreakers are around to ensure that things have been done well and in good taste.

They know that is what Tom would have wanted.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were definitely a band of brothers.

Here is a list of 28 features that look at songs by Tom Petty or include Tom paying respect to an artist he revered. He would often refer to these songs as ‘buried treasures’.

Such a cool guy.

Another song so good, I wrote about it twice.

The first Ted Tocks Covers post ever from January 1, 2018.

Listen to Jakob Dylan as he inducts his friend into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There is a certain irony as he relates the story of hanging out back stage and in hotels with Tom’s daughters, Adria and Annakim. It’s funny to me that he was looking at them and thinking;

Wow! Tom Petty is your dad.”

Jakob Dylan

Here you go.

Typical of Tom Petty, his acceptance is humble and inclusive. He makes sure to share the credit with;

The best fuckin’ band in America.”

Tom Petty

Next to The Band, I would agree.

Here is a quote that summarizes pretty much everything Tom Petty ever did.

 I don’t see myself as the savior of anything. On one hand, I’m flattered; that’s why it’s so hard to complain. What we’re really striving for is to inspire someone.

Tom Petty

Inspire, is what he did, and what he continues to do. That’s his legacy.

Perhaps, Tom’s greatest attribute as a musician was his perfectionist qualities. Here is a great story from Mike Campbell talking about ‘You Wreck Me’ from his acclaimed album, ‘Wildflowers’

Tom and I were tighter than brothers. We shared a dream and a bond that will never go away. I fondly remember working on the song “You Wreck Me” [off Wildflowers] together. I wrote the music and Tom wrote the words. It took us a long time to finish it because he had trouble figuring out the words that he wanted. He kept calling it “You rock me, baby” and would always go, “That’s too generic, that’s not good; I’ll find something better.” Finally he came up with “You wreck me.” We finished the record and I always got the feeling he wasn’t enamored with the song that much. We went on tour a few months later and during the rehearsals he frequently undermined himself and would say things like, “I don’t think we should perform it, I’m still not sure I like it.” We convinced him to put it in the set anyway. Two or three days into the tour we played it and it went down so, so well, because it’s a really engaging and fast song. He came to the drum risers after we finished the song, the crowd was going wild, and he leaned over to me and went, “I get it now, Mike, this is a really good song.”God bless him.”

Mike Campbell

Sometimes he just sat back and let the fans decide.

He may not have always been ‘a summer breeze’, but when the wind blew, the spiritual among us recognized it as a gift from whatever deity you choose to follow.

That is a gift that keeps on giving.

Now, for a little more Canadian content. Let’s welcome The Tragically Hip.

We want to bring good music to the people. That’s what it’s all about.”

Gord Downie

That’s exactly what they did for parts of four decades. To many, they are Canada’s band and they often reflected Canadian themes in their lyrics. Because Gord Downie is a master lyricist, his prose was often offered in layers. What resided on the surface was often a convenient mask for the true message. For this writer, the underlying theme always became the objective. I wanted to dig deeper. This is what I think Gord was challenging his listeners to do.

I fear, that sometimes the message was lost in the beer swilling cesspool of the ‘Molson’ party scene. Sometimes Gord uttered his open contempt for the ignorance of the audiences who guzzled beer and batted away at beach balls. Frequently, they appeared to be oblivious.

This is the lonely plight of an artist. Gord always soldered on though. He remained undaunted. There was something bigger happening while the ‘music was at work’.

This is where The Tragically Hip really mattered. Yes, they were a great band. Yes, Gord Downie was a phenomenal front man. One of the best ever in my opinion.

Yes…Ever.

They were a one-of-a-kind band. Here is an interesting perspective from Joel Plaskett, taken from a 2016 interview.

Their brew is a totally distinct recipe. What more can you ask for than when you drop the needle on something and you can instantly say, ‘Oh, that’s the Tragically Hip.’ Even though their records are produced differently, you never think, ‘Oh, it could be something else.’Their evolution is remarkable: Play 1989’s Up to Here and this summer’s Man Machine Poem back to back and track the changes.”

Joel Plaskett

Here is a list of 15 features Ted Tocks Covers dedicated to focusing on Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip. It is here that I can unequivocally say that I learned something each time, and the urge to continue to explore was impossible to resist.

When The Tragically Hip were honoured by Music Canada with the Juno Humanitarian Award, they were inducted by Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee of Rush. Here is their induction speech.

Alex and Geddy paid tribute to the band’s work as musicians, but at the core of their introduction was the fact each member of The Tragically Hip are just quality human beings.

The bigger the band got, the more they gave back.”

Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee

While Gord Downie became the public face, and by virtue of being the frontman he was in essence, the band’s persona, he was by no means The Hip. This speaks to something much bigger. They have carried the torch.

Fortunately, both peers and fans of the band have willingly accepted their role in the many philanthropic pursuits. Here is Sarah Harmer;

We can’t forget to celebrate. This is us honouring the life force. Celebrating is a duty.”

Sarah Harmer

This is a perfect segue into one of The Tragically Hip’s most urgent causes. Sarah Harmer and The Tragically Hip connected on many an environmental issue. Here is Gord Downie speaking to the existential link between music and the environment.

Music is the ultimate medium for expressions of love, and those expressions find a beautiful backdrop in the environment. Music is also a popular rallying point — at its central core, it’s a way for people to get in touch with the best parts of themselves and to voice the love in their hearts. And the environment is one of the great loves of our lives — when we think of the best parts of ourselves, the environment is always there, informing us, as a backdrop.”

Gord Downie

Speaking to the notion that The Tragically Hip transcended music and moved into many other realms, here is an interesting montage from TSN following the news of Gord Downie’s death.

I will leave the final word to another friend of The Tragically Hip who had the privilege of enjoying a side stage view of this band in action. Dave Bidini often marvelled at their work ethic and how the carefully crafted Hip mystique developed. It was organic. Almost like it had a more cosmic purpose.

The brilliance of the band and their legacy is that they were able to transform what everybody thought of them into something nobody thought of them. That’s beautiful.”

Dave Bidini

Much of this occurred through the shamanistic qualities of Gord Downie, but every great front man has the luxury of a solid band behind them. The Tragically Hip was a formidable unit right through to the end.

So, there you have it.

Year three of the Ted Tocks Covers Hall of Fame. Hopefully you enjoyed this fun look back that includes snippets of five years of Ted Tocks Covers posts. There is plenty of great listening here, and more than a few interesting stories.

Listen as you work, play or just take a moment to relax.

It says here, there is no better way to unwind than to sit back and listen to the music play.

Admittedly, this exercise exists only in my mind and on the pages of this blog. But, as these artists have proven, the mind can be a very fertile ground for creativity. My only aim here is to share the brilliance, one post at a time.

In the meantime, please know that I am already planning year four.

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Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? – Does anybody really care? #MusicisLife #TedTocksCovers #Chicago #TerryKath #RobertLamm #TheDaveMillerSet #QuincyConserve #GrantGreen #LeonidandFriends #Peanuts

Just throwing this out there, but when all the talk about the great guitarists gets tossed around, why does the name Terry Kath not get added to the discussion. My only explanation is the fact that as time unwinds and the decade of the ‘70s, where Terry Kath and Chicago were at their finest continues to fade in the mirror, his work tends only to be remembered by the fans most in tune with that era.

Such a shame.

Truthfully, this subjective reality is definitely the result of the fact Terry Kath died senselessly, in his prime, on this day 45 years ago. Kath and his friend, Chicago roadie and band technician Don Johnson were hanging out in the kitchen of Johnson’s Los Angeles home after a party. There was a 9 mm handgun on the table and the guitarist pointed it at his head. According to the report Johnson was freaked out so to set his mind at ease, Kath showed him the empty magazine and returned the gun to his temple, pulling the trigger.

Don’t worry about it … look, the clip is not even in it.”

Terry Kath

These would be the last words of Terry Kath. There WAS still one round in the chamber and even though the odds were in his favour, in this moment, he lost the bet. He died instantly, just eight days before his 32nd birthday.

There is no telling where his career would have gone had he continued. His issues with drugs and alcohol were noted, but he was working on strategies to get his personal life on track. His guitar work was so strong in the live setting that his bandmate Walter Parazaider claims that Jimi Hendrix once approached him and exclaimed;

Your guitar player is better than me.”

Jimi Hendrix

Whether this is hearsay or not, Kath’s style drove the jazz rock band’s creativity, and there are countless guitarists who look back at Kath’s contributions with the highest praise. Here is the great Joe Walsh.

He was a great guy; he was a brilliant musician. He was a songwriter and a great singer. He was such a monster on guitar. … He was just a total experimenter”

Joe Walsh

When Chicago was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016, Terry Kath was included. His daughter Michelle accepted on his behalf. She was only 20 months old when he died.

Perhaps his bandmate Danny Seraphine summed it up best by simply stating.

I miss him every day.”

Danny Seraphine

Clearly, he spoke for everyone on that stage.

For a sense of how good Chicago was back in their prime, watch this show from 1970. Some of Terry Kath’s solos are jaw dropping. A wild combination of energy and virtuosic wizardry.

Truly, a very unique band. That was always the plan. It just took off, according to trombonist, James Pankow.

That music was and is to this day something that’s hard to put your finger on in terms of a direction, it’s just a culmination of the musical history of every guy in the band and what they brought to the dinner table in terms of making this sound. FM stations played whole albums without commercial interruption. This music was to become required listening on college campuses.”

James Pankow

Focusing more on today’s feature song ‘Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?’ the spotlight moves to another immense talent.

Introducing Robert Lamm. Lamm is on record as saying that ‘Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?’ was the first song Chicago recorded for their 1969 debut album known as ‘Chicago Transit Authority’.

From a humble place, the band did not release it as a single until after two tracks from their second album, ‘Chicago’ became top 10 hits. They were ‘Make Me Smile’ and ’25 or 6 to 4’.

‘Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?’ also hit the top 10 and it rose as high as #2 in Canada. Chicago was huge and this trio of songs were the catalyst for their popularity. As is so often the case the single was reduced by over a minute. In order to cut the song, Robert Lamm’s jazz fusion influenced piano introduction was omitted. Some of the things AM radio has done to music through the years is borderline criminal. The version shared at the outset of this post is the full album version, and the way it should always have been presented.

In the live setting, Chicago mixed the introduction up a little. Sometimes Lamm brought it in with piano and other times they vaulted straight into the triumvirate of Lee Loughnane on trumpet, James Pankow on trombone and Walter Parazaider on tenor saxophone.

When sitting down to write ‘Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is’ Robert Lamm had a few objectives.

[It’s] not a complicated song, but it’s certainly a quirky song. But that was my intent. I wanted to write something that wasn’t ordinary, that wasn’t blues-based, that didn’t have ice cream changes, and would allow the horns to shine and give Lee Loughnane a solo. So, all that was the intent.”

Robert Lamm

The inspiration for the profound lyrics came to Lamm while he was working on material for the ‘Chicago Transit Authority’ album. He recalled a moment from his days growing up in Brooklyn, while being interviewed on Chris Isaak’s TV show.

I was a teenager walking down the street in Brooklyn, New York where I grew up. I walked by a movie theater and there was an usher standing outside taking a cigarette break. I said to him, ‘Hey man, what time is it?’ and he said, ‘Does anybody really know what time it is?’ I remembered that when I was trying to write this sort of Beatle-esque shuffle, and just explore the idea of ‘Does anybody really know what time it is?’”

Robert Lamm

Here you go.

As I was walking down the street one day
A man came up to me and asked me
What the time was that was on my watch
Yeah… and I said

(I don’t) Does anybody really know what time it is?
(Care) Does anybody really care?
(About time) If so, I can’t imagine why
(Oh no, no) We’ve all got time enough to cry

And I was walking down the street one day
A pretty lady looked at me
And said her diamond watch had stopped cold dead
And I said

(I don’t) Does anybody really know what time it is?
(Care) Does anybody really care?
(About time) If so, I can’t imagine why
(Oh no, no) We’ve all got time enough to cry

And I was walking down the street one day
Being pushed and shoved by people
Trying to beat the clock, oh, no
I just don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know-oh
And I said… yes, I said

(People runnin’ everywhere
Don’t know where to go
Don’t know where I am
Can’t see past the next step
Don’t have time to think past the last one
Have no time to look around
Just run around, run around think why)

(I don’t) Does anybody really know what time it is?
(Care) Does anybody really care?
(About time) If so I can’t imagine why
(Oh no, no) We’ve all got time enough to die

Everybody’s working
(I don’t care) I don’t care
(About time) About time
(Oh no, no) I don’t care”

Robert Lamm

What a line. What a hook.

To this day, nobody has really answered the question.

And time marches on…

Take time to appreciate the small things because in the totality of our existence, the big things tend to look after themselves. It’s hard to explain, but somehow this just seems to be the way.

Speaking of taking time to smell the roses, why not spend some time listening to some wonderful cover versions of today’s feature. You will not be disappointed, I assure you.

Here is an upbeat version from The Dave Miller Set. This is from their album ‘Mr. Guy Fawkes’. This is thought to be the first cover version of this song ever recorded. It makes for some quality listening, and they do some really fun stuff at the end in order to put their own stamp on the song. The rhythm section really blends with the horns. Two thumbs up for sure.

Also from 1970, here is Quincy Conserve with another quality version. Not only is it about the musicianship, but in this case the vocals are outstanding. It comes across as someone standing on a soapbox, on a crowded city street. Those who take time to listen are in for a real treat.

One year later, in 1971, jazz guitarist Grant Green released a cover version on his album ‘Visions’. The tone on this makes for a very relaxing listening experience. This version also features the great bass player Chuck Rainey.

On a few occasions, Ted Tocks Covers has featured Chicago, and each time the work of Leonid and Friends has come up. Listeners are never disappointed. These guys are phenomenal. So pure and immensely talented.

Let’s finish off with some fun from the Peanuts Gang because life is for enjoying, and the best way to live to the fullest is to have some music accompanying you along the journey.

Speaking of Peanuts, I am reminded of a cartoon by Charles M. Schulz where Schroeder is speaking to Lucy and stating;

Buying records cheers me up. Whenever I feel low, I always buy some new records.”

Schroeder – The Peanuts Gang

Schroeder is a wise man. I will give the credit to his creator Charles M. Schulz and for the purpose of today’s feature the work of Robert Lamm, Terry Kath and all of the incredible players in Chicago.  

Nadia’s Theme – Reach for the stars while you have time. #MusicisLife #TedTocksCovers #PerryBotkinJr #BarryDeVorzon #PerryBotkinSr #OzzieandHarrietNelson #BeverlyHillbillies #BlesstheBeastsandtheChildren #TheYoungandtheRestless #NadiaComaneci #DavidHasselhoff #TheIncredibleBongoBand #HappyDays #LaverneandShirley #MorkandMindy #MaryJBlige

I’m not crying. You’re crying.

Regular readers of Ted Tocks Covers may wonder out loud “This seems like an unusual song for Ted to feature.”

You are definitely right in that assertion, but like any Ted Tocks feature, this music has a very interesting story line, and elements of it have become etched upon our culture. Simply stated, it needs to be shared. Today is the day.

On this day in 2021, Perry Botkin Jr. died in a hospital in Burbank, California. He was 87.

So, who is Perry Botkin Jr? In short, Perry becomes the story. He is joined by several key players. Read on, because it is yet another interesting trail.

Truth be told, any of you who were born in the ‘’50s/’60s and even later have likely been listening to Perry Botkin Jr’s musical creations pretty much all your life. He was an accomplished composer, producer, arranger and musician. He came to music honestly. His father was a writer and arranger. Among Perry Botkin’s major works is ‘Elly Mae’s Theme’ from ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’.

The elder Botkin was a highly sought-after guitarist and banjo player. He played with names such as Hoagy Carmichael, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Bob Hope, Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby. His work with Crosby is most notable because for 17 years he served as the music legend’s musical director.

For some additional nostalgia, check this old footage out. Here is father and son on ‘The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet’. You can watch the whole episode or skip forward to 13:00 or about 21:30 toward the end. Perry Botkin Sr. is on the banjo along with Ozzie Nelson, and Perry Jr. is the pianist.

Where’s the melody?”

Ozzie Nelson

This is cool.

In the interest of covering as much as possible we will fast forward to the early ‘70s and a collaboration with Barry De Vorzon. It all begins with the pair working on material for the film score to the 1971 movie ‘Bless the Beasts and Children’. De Vorzon and Botkin Jr. wrote the title track which was performed by The Carpenters and became a Grammy nominated single. You will note that this is written in a major key. This is important.

The Stanley Kramer film told the story of a group of misfit kids at a summer camp who came together to save a herd of buffalo from a group of hunters. In the midst of this noble act, the group’s leader, whose name was Cotton is killed. The movie needed a piece of music that served to capture this tragic moment. In an interview with The Tennessean, Barry De Vorzon describes how ‘Cotton’s Dream’ evolved from a challenging position. The title track weaved its way throughout the film but it wasn’t appropriate for the death scene. Here is what happened next.

So now I have this moment in the picture where this young boy has died, and the only thing I have to play against it is the melody I’ve woven through the picture, which is in a major key: “Bless the Beasts and Children.” Well, I painted myself into a corner. I said, “Oh my goodness, this is such an important scene, and I can’t use the theme that I’ve woven through the picture.” So, I thought about it for a while, and I said, “’Bless the Beasts and Children’ has a very recognizable motif in the accompaniment…what if I use that motif and just put it in a minor key?”

Barry De Vorzon

This became the well-known result then known as ‘Cotton’s Dream’

De Vorzon and Botkin Jr. were stuck for a name, so they just focused on what they determined to be the motivation that drove the need for the song.

I just love that little melody I came up with for that cue. So, problem solved, we went in and did the score. You always name your cues, you know, so you get performances, and I named this after the kid that died, ‘Cotton’s Dream’.”

Barry De Vorzon

But, that is not where it ended. Not even close. Two years later, according to De Vorzon, he was working away and he received a phone call from a producer who was working on a new daytime series that was to be called ‘The Young and the Restless’. He wanted to use ‘Cotton’s Dream’ as the theme for his soap opera. The caveat was it needed to be called ‘Theme from The Young and the Restless’. De Vorzon and Botkin Jr. were quite pleased. This version which was used at the outset of this post is a little longer than the original and it features a slightly altered composition by Perry Botkin Jr.

For most songs this would have been enough of a story. It has remained the theme song for this immensely popular series for almost exactly 50 years.

If you are keeping score, what essentially happened is, an evocative piece of music to accent a sad movie scene (‘Bless the Beasts and Children’), became a theme song for a TV series (The Theme for the Young and the Restless’).

As we all know there is more, and literally no one saw this coming.

Let’s head to Montreal, Quebec and the 1976 summer Olympics. A 14 – year-old Romanian gymnastics sensation named Nadia Comaneci stole the hearts of the world with her magnificent talent, agility and poise. Her routines and overall performance blew the judges away, and she left Canada with three gold medals and one bronze medal. The highlight of her astounding showing came during the team compulsory stage of the event. Comaneci was awarded the first perfect 10 in Olympic gymnastics. Here is a brief description from Sports Illustrated.

At Montreal [Comăneci] received four of her seven 10s on the uneven bars. The apparatus demands such a spectacular burst of energy in such a short time—only 23 seconds—that it attracts the most fanfare. But it is on the beam that her work seems more representative of her unbelievable skill. She scored three of her seven 10s on the beam. Her hands speak there as much as her body. Her pace magnifies her balance. Her command and distance hush the crowd.”

Sports Illustrated

Not only did Nadia hush the crowd, she stymied the judges. The manufacturer of the digital scoring display, Omega SA understood that a perfect score was not possible so they did not program the display to show perfection. When the judges offered their unprecedented assessment the 10s showed as 1s. This happened SEVEN times!

All this being said, Nadia Comaneci literally became the face of the Montreal Olympics.  

But what does this have to do with ‘Cotton’s Dream’ and the ‘Theme for the Young and the Restless’?

A celebrated photographer/cinematographer named Robert Riger was working for ABC’s Wide World of Sports and his assignment was to create a montage celebrating the Montreal Olympics. Riger opted to create one set of highlights exclusively devoted to Nadia Comaneci. When Riger’s work was complete the team at ABC were looking for the perfect music to accompany the exceptional footage. Someone recalled the piece of music from ‘Bless the Beast’s and Children’ known as ‘Cotton’s Dream’ and layered it over the top of the stunning video clips.

Before too long, this montage was being played all over the world. One could say, it went ‘viral’, before that was a thing. From that time on ‘Cotton’s Dream’ became known as ‘Nadia’s Theme’.

Before moving on, there are a couple more interesting facts related to what became ‘Nadia’s Theme’. First, the production department at A&M Records had to match the video so they sliced it to make it almost twice as long and released it as a single. ‘Nadia’s Theme’ became a top 10 single in the United States and Canada. Secondly, it is a common belief that Nadia Comaneci performed her routines to this music, but that is not the case. This distinction was held for a medley of ‘Yes Sir, She’s My Baby’ and ‘Jump in the Line’ arranged for piano. These two songs became lost in the shuffle, due to the resounding success of ‘Nadia’s Theme’.

#TheMandelaEffect

All this being said, Nadia Comaneci’s storybook life continued when she immigrated to the United States in 1991 to help her friend, Olympic gold medalist Bart Conner, establish a gymnastics school. The friendship soon developed into a romantic relationship and the couple were married in 1996, in Bucharest. Guess who was invited to the wedding?

Barry De Vorzon and Perry Botkin Jr.

This offers a perfect landing place for bringing Perry Botkin Jr. back into the spotlight. He and De Vorzon wrote lyrics for this piece and they were actually brought to life by none other than

David Hasselhoff, who performed ‘Nadia’s Theme’ with lyrics in 1977 on the ‘Merv Griffin Show’. Here is Hasselhoff’s singing debut.

The actor played the role of Snapper John Foster on Y&R from 1975 to 1982.

Here is the pure poetry that became the lesser-known lyrical contribution to ‘Nadia’s Theme’.

Gone, dreams of the past
Gone, with a love that moved too fast
“Gone, bright shiny days
Gone, in a young and restless haze
Why did we love, then run away
So little time, so much left to say
And now, it’s gone

Young and restless friend
You’ll never pass this way again
So drink the summer wine
Reach for the stars
While you have time
Your restless heart
It will lead the way
So dream your dreams and live for each day
While you are young, while you are young
While you are young”

Barry De Vorzon and Perry Botkin Jr.

Speaking of living for each day, here is an interesting stream of career highlights for Perry Botkin Jr.

 He worked as an arranger along with Jack Nitzsche and Gene Page on the Phil Spector/Ike and Tina Turner’s musical masterpiece ‘River Deep Mountain High’ in 1966.

Just one year later, Perry was instrumental in introducing Harry Nilsson. Here is ‘It’s Been So Long’.

Everyone knows ’Feliz Navidad’ by Jose Feliciano. You can thank Perry Botkin Jr. for the orchestral arrangements on the holiday tradition.

Once again, things get fascinating. Perry Botkin Jr. worked together with Michael Viner on a project that began as an effort to create the soundtrack for a B film known as ‘The Thing with Two Heads’. This morphed into the Incredible Bongo Band in 1973 and their debut album ‘Bongo Rock’. This release included a cover of ‘Apache’. ‘Bongo Rock’ and ‘Apache’ resided in relative obscurity until it became a source of inspiration for numerous hip-hop artists.

It all began in the late ‘70s when DJ Kool Herc, played it during his notorious block parties in the Bronx. ‘Apache’ became known as the ‘national anthem of Hip-Hop’. It paved the way for artists who saw the possibilities. This list includes Grandmaster Flash, LL Cool J, 2 Live Crew, Busta Rhymes, Miss Elliott, Jay Z and a pathetic Nazi sympathiser who currently walks the Earth aimlessly craving attention from his fellow fascists.

As the ‘70s progressed, so too did the range of collaborations for Perry Botkin Jr. He had a hand in arranging and producing a handful of well-known TV series theme songs.

Here is the Theme from Happy Days which debuted in 1975.

Then you get the 1976 spin-off, Laverne and Shirley and the eternally catchy ‘’Making Our Dreams Come True’

The list of ‘Happy Days’ spin-offs continued in 1978 with the Robin Williams’ breakthrough ‘Mork and Mindy’. This theme song was composed by Perry Botkin Jr.  

Don’t think Perry Botkin Jr’s influence ended in the late ‘70s though. Here is Mary J. Blige and ‘No More Drama’ from 2002. Guess what she samples?

The lyrics even allude to the ‘Theme from The Young and the Restless’.

Why’d I play the fool
Go through ups and downs
Knowing all the time
You wouldn’t be around
Or maybe I like the stress
‘Cause I was young and restless
But that was long ago
I don’t wanna cry no more”

Mary J. Blige

This is pure defiance.

Twenty years later, the power of Mary J. Blige extended all the way to the Super Bowl Half Time show in 2022. Hers’ was an incredible performance before a worldwide audience. Sadly, due to copyright issues it is not shareable. Trust me. It is stellar.

Truth be told, this post could have dug a lot deeper. The list of connections that flow from the De Vorzon/Perry Botkin Jr. partnership is fascinating. Once again, you are urged to explore. Today’s post only travels down one tributary

The story continues…for all of us…

Choose to win.

Penny Lane – #PaulMcCartney brings #Bach to #TheBeatles. #MusicisLife #TedTocksCovers #JohnLennon #DavidMason #JudyCollins #ElvisCostello #JohnWetton

It’s difficult to know where to begin when discussing the origin of any song by The Beatles. Fortunately, for today’s feature, everything stems back to their roots in Liverpool. Let’s head to the south suburb of Mossley Hill and a road known as ‘Penny Lane’.

At the junction of Smithdown Road and Allerton Road there is a roundabout at what the locals call Smithdown Place. This exists as the hub where a major bus terminal sends travellers in all directions. For three Liverpool lads in the 1950s this locale was a frequent rendezvous point as they made their way to and from school, and other social activities. For John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney, every sight along the way was etched upon their mind. It truly felt like the people they encountered existed within a play. In many ways, they did. Here is Paul McCartney’s summation.

Penny Lane” was kind of nostalgic, but it was really [about] a place that John and I knew … I’d get a bus to his house and I’d have to change at Penny Lane, or the same with him to me, so we often hung out at that terminus, like a roundabout. It was a place that we both knew, and so we both knew the things that turned up in the story.”

Paul McCartney

Little did the barber, the banker, the fireman and the nurse know, they would become immortalized in this scene that has played out daily for over 55 years.

In Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs
Of every head he’s had the pleasure to have known
And all the people that come and go
Stop and say hello

On the corner is a banker with a motorcar
The little children laugh at him behind his back
And the banker never wears a mac
In the pouring rain, very strange

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
There beneath the blue suburban skies
I sit, and meanwhile back

In Penny Lane there is a fireman with an hourglass
And in his pocket is a portrait of the queen
He likes to keep his fire engine clean
It’s a clean machine

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
A four of fish and finger pies
In summer, meanwhile back

Behind the shelter in the middle of a roundabout
The pretty nurse is selling poppies from a tray
And though she feels as if she’s in a play
She is anyway

In Penny Lane the barber shaves another customer
We see the banker sitting waiting for a trim
And then the fireman rushes in
From the pouring rain, very strange

Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
There beneath the blue suburban skies
I sit, and meanwhile back
Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes
There beneath the blue suburban skies
Penny Lane”

John Lennon and Paul McCartney

‘Penny Lane’ is an extremely important Beatles track because in its nostalgia it represents a true Lennon/McCartney collaboration. Paul McCartney wrote the majority of the song on an upright piano in the music room of his London home. The memories are vivid because he had recently arranged to have the piano painted in a psychedelic rainbow pattern by artist David Vaughan.

When I came to write it, John came over and helped me with the third verse, as often was the case. We were writing childhood memories: recently faded memories from eight or ten years before, so it was a recent nostalgia, pleasant memories for both of us. All the places were still there, and because we remembered it so clearly, we could have gone on.”

Paul McCartney

Here is a brief thought from John Lennon on the observations he contributed.

The bank was there, and that was where the trams sheds were and people waiting and the inspector stood there, the fire engines were down there. It was reliving childhood.”

John Lennon

The song began to take form in the latter part of 1966. It originated in the early lyrics of John Lennon’s timeless track ‘In My Life’, but the reference to Penny Lane was removed in favour of a more concise presentation.

The idea remained with Paul McCartney, and he was reminded of it when John Lennon shared his reflections on Liverpool in the lyrics for ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.

Let me take you down, ’cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever”

John Lennon

Here is the other half of what became the double A side.

In subsequent interviews, McCartney cited the Dylan Thomas poem ‘Fern Hill’ as a major influence due to its harkening back on memories of growing up.

My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky-blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
     Before the children green and golden
          Follow him out of grace,”

Dylan Thomas

Along with the clear homage to their childhood stomping grounds, an undeniable LSD influence is apparent in some of the dreamy imagery. Within ‘Penny Lane’ one can easily point to this memorable line.

And though she feels as if she’s in a play
She is anyway”

John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Much the same as John Lennon added this whirlwind of introspection in ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.

Always, no sometimes, think it’s me
But you know I know when it’s a dream
I think I know, I mean a… yes
But it’s all wrong
That is, I think I disagree”

John Lennon

This connection was alluded to effectively in this quote from David Simonelli, in his book ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’.

With this double-sided single, the Beatles planted the flag of Romanticism squarely at the center of psychedelic rock. They emphasized innocence, childhood as purity, improvisation, and the spirits of individuality and community united as one. For the next three to five years, these ideals would dominate rock music on both sides of the Atlantic. The Beatles’ vision dominated the entire rock music world”

David Simonelli

Perhaps ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ present a glimpse at dualing acid trips. They were also inextricably linked due to their initial release as a double A side in February of 1967. This advance release occurred because the band did not feel that they fit the concept of what was to become ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ which was being recorded during the same sessions. Here is George Martin on the ever-increasing lineup of quality material The Beatles had managed to stockpile.

We started off with ‘Strawberry Fields’, and then we recorded ‘When I’m Sixty-Four” and ‘Penny Lane’. They were all intended for the next album. We didn’t know it was Sgt Pepper then – they were just going to be tracks on The New Album – but it was going to be a record created in the studio, and there were going to be songs that couldn’t be performed live.”

George Martin

The songs eventually saw their album release as part of ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ which came out in November of 1967.

As only the Beatles can do, their music set the scene for a pivotal period of rock and roll and its transformation into the psychedelic genre. It managed to provide a bridge between subversion and contemporary art. Part of the cross-generation attraction could be attributed to the apparent classical roots that emanated from ‘Penny Lane’ and its musical structure.

By all accounts, when Paul McCartney brought ‘Penny Lane’ to the Beatles and producer George Martin, everyone felt that there was something missing. This gave Paul some pause for thought, and the answer came to him on January 11, when he was watching a BBC Two production of the English Chamber Orchestra playing Johann Sebastian Bach’s ‘2nd Brandenburg Concerto’.

He was awestruck by the presence of David Mason and his piccolo trumpet. McCartney felt that the uplifting sound would add a positive swing to the sentiment he was aiming to convey in ‘Penny Lane’. The next day, Mason received a phone call from George Martin inviting him to come to Abbey Road Studios and play on an album he was producing. He readily agreed, but as an afterthought he innocently asked, “who is this for?” only to be told “The Beatles”.  Interestingly enough, he wasn’t really a fan at the time.

It could be surmised that the piccolo trumpet reflects the productivity inherent in the daily pursuits of those featured in the song.

It was on January 17,1967 that David Mason recorded the piccolo trumpet solo that was used in the final mix of ‘Penny Lane’. The mock – Baroque style blended perfectly with the initial vision offered by Paul McCartney.

We spent three hours working it out. Paul sang the parts he wanted, George Martin wrote them out, I tried them. But the actual recording was done quite quickly.”

David Mason

For his acclaimed part, David Mason received £27, 10 shillings. Twenty years later the trumpet he used in ‘Penny Lane’ was sold at Sotheby’s auction for $10,846.

Here is an interview with David Mason where he reflects on the overall dynamic of the recording session. Some fun memories here. Did the idea to offer ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ as a double A side come from David Mason? Hmmm!

Mason also added some musical texture to these Beatles tracks.

Also…

Here is ‘All You Need is Love’.

And finally, ‘It’s All Too Much’

Sadly, David Mason died of luekemia on April 29, 2011 at the age of 85. His astounding musical contributions will always be remembered, with The Beatles and far beyond.

Looking back on ‘Penny Lane’, George Martin considered it one of the finest studio achievements of his career.

The result was unique, something which had never been done in rock music before.”

George Martin

In his book ‘A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry’ by Mark Hertsgaard, the author describes David Mason’s contribution as;

…so unmistakably a part of ‘Penny Lane'”, adding that “[it] rises out of the din like a bird taking wing at dawn. The sense of freedom, energy, and sheer happiness is glorious.”

Mark Hertsgaard

‘Penny Lane’ has been in the ears and eyes of music lovers for over 55 years. You simply can’t make up this kind of reaction from its creator, Sir Paul McCartney. This is from an interview with producer Rick Rubin.

Wherever Paul McCartney goes he seems to bring joy to those who follow. The performance of ‘Penny Lane’ in this video from 2005 is a perfect example. This is from his live CD, ‘The Space Between US’ which was taken from his United States tour from September to December of that year. Just check out how happy the people in the crowd are as McCartney sings. Everyone can relate it seems. It’s almost like every community has a ‘Penny Lane’.

In 2007 Judy Collins released an album of Beatles covers appropriately entitled ‘Judy Collins Sings Lennon and McCartney’. Her delivery is reminiscent of the blue skies Lennon and McCartney spoke of when they initially wrote this song forty years previous.

From one Liverpudlian to another, in 2010, Elvis Costello was asked to perform ‘Penny Lane’ at the White House in honour of Sir Paul McCartney on the occasion of his receiving the Gershwin Prize for song writing. Costello paid eloquent tribute to Paul and his mother before he delivered this wonderful performance.

I was asked if I would like to say something, and I would like to say this. Music is often an us against them proposition and the next song that you are going to here is named after a place from which my mother comes from about half a mile away. So, you can imagine when this thing of wonder and beauty came on the radio, myself as a young man, my dad, my ‘mam’, and the cat all sat up to take notice…Thank you for your songs and your friendship.”

Elvis Costello

Pay close attention to the piccolo trumpet performance by Matthew Harding of the United States Marine Band

Five years later this interesting cover came from John Wetton on the tribute album ‘Keep Calm and Salute The Beatles’. This is a strong cover from the renowned prog-rock bassist. Very true to the original. Sadly, Wetton died just two years later as a result of complications associated with colorectal cancer.

Quite often I sit back and reflect on the power of music and its ability to take us to a higher place. There is truth to the idea that when you let the words and sound wash over you, there is a moment of meditative transformation. ‘Penny Lane’ is one of many songs that just makes you feel happy. The Beatles take you there…or wherever you want to go, to think of happy times, where everyone around you serves a purpose. Just one positive community.

Wouldn’t it be nice if collectively, we could all buy a ticket to that destination?

I’ll meet you at the roundabout.

If we are lucky Paul will be there too. In my dream, he just bought a poppy from the pretty nurse.

Paul remembers…

Love Me Tender – Sunshine come along with thee. #MusicisLife #TedTocksCovers #ElvisPresley #WWFosdick #GeorgePoulton #SheltonBrothers #TomRoush #KenDarby #VeraMatson #PercySledge #JohnnyNash #AlbertKing #LindaRonstadt #BBKing #WillieNelson #NanaMouskouri #TheJordanaires #BugsBunnyandFriends #ChrisIsaak #BrandiCarlile #NoraJones

Most, if not all of us know ‘Love Me Tender’ by Elvis Presley as a hit song from the King of Rock and Roll’. How many know that it was derived from a Civil War era love ballad?

Here is the brief story, and as Ted Tocks Covers so often does, I will sift through some covers and share a few with you.

Back in 1956, Elvis was a heartthrob of unimaginable proportions. In order to capitalize on his popularity, Elvis’s people looked to making him a movie star. Initially he was to play a bit part in a movie called ‘The Reno Brothers’. As the filming progressed the focus undeniably shifted to Elvis and the song that ultimately describes the sentiment of the film. That song was ‘Love Me Tender’.

The credit for this concept should go to musical director Ken Darby. The premise of the film was to create a movie where songs from the Civil War period were adapted for Elvis to sing. One particular song was ‘Aura Lee’ which was written by W.W. Fosdick and George R. Poulton in 1861, and originally recorded by Geo. Campbell in 1862. Unfortunately, I couldn’t track down any version of the recording from over 160 years ago, I was able to find this version from the Shelton Brothers dating back 85 years. This will give you a sense of the passion behind the lyrics.

Here is the extremely sentimental poem.

As the blackbird in the spring
‘neath the willow tree
sat and piped I heard him sing
praising Aura Lee.

Aura Lee! Aura Lee! Maid of golden hair
sunshine came along with thee
and swall-ows in the air.

Take my heart and take my ring
I give my all to thee
take me for eternity
dearest Aura Lee!

Aura Lee! Aura Lee! Maid of golden hair
sunshine came along with thee
and swall-ows in the air.

In her blush the rose was born
’twas music when she spoke
In her eyes the light of morn
sparkling seemed to break.

Aura Lee! Aura Lee! Maid of golden hair
sunshine came along with thee
and swall-ows in the air.

Aura Lee the bird may flee
the willow’ golden hair
then the wintry winds may be
blowing ev’rywhere.

Aura Lee! Aura Lee! Maid of golden hair
sunshine came along with thee
and swall-ows in the air.

Yet if thy blue eyes I see
gloom will soon depart
for to me sweet Aura Lee
is sunshine to the heart.

Aura Lee! Aura Lee! Maid of golden hair
sunshine came along with thee
and swall-ows in the air.

W.W. Fosdick

You can feel the tension between love and fear, along with regret and impending doom.

For good measure, here is a more current rendition by Tom Roush. This was done in 2014.

Do you remember the 1982 movie ‘Trading Places’ with Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Ackroyd? Here is a scene which is actually a take on ‘Aura Lea’ and its popularity as a traditional song.

Getting back to the Elvis version, the lyrics are credited to Ken Darby’s wife, Vera Matson, and Elvis Presley. As noted, the melody is a direct take on ‘Aura Lea’. Therefore, the song credits acknowledge all three. As noted above, in 1956, ‘Aura Lea’ simply existed in the public domain as a traditional song. It was immensely popular among glee clubs and barbershop quartets.

While Matson and Presley received the writing credit for ‘Love Me Tender’ all it takes is a little reading between the lines to recognize that the lyrics were purely a Ken Darby creation. First, here is a quote from Darby when asked why the song was credited to his wife.

Because she didn’t write it either.”

Ken Darby

In a less bitter moment, Darby gave Elvis full credit for his presentation.

He adjusted the music and the lyrics to his own particular presentation. Elvis has the most terrific ear of anyone I have ever met. He does not read music, but he does not need to. All I had to do was play the song for him once, and he made it his own! He has perfect judgment of what is right for him. He exercised that judgment when he chose ‘Love Me Tender’ as his theme song.”

Ken Darby

This speaks to the strength of Elvis as an artist. Interpretation was the space where Elvis thrived. It is here that we understand the context of ‘Love Me Tender’ in the movie. Listen to this introduction from Ed Sullivan back in 1956.

As one watches, you can’t help but notice how captivated the audience becomes. Elvis has everyone in the palm of his hand. The spontaneous applause during a couple of key moments comes from the depths of their soul. The backing vocals by The Jordanaires is haunting. This version of ‘Love Me Tender’ was performed on September 9, 1956. It pre-dated the movie release by about a month. Based on this performance, RCA received over 1 million advance orders for the song which made it a gold hit before it was even released. It hit #1 on November 3, 1956 and stayed on the top of the charts for five weeks. This just puts Elvis and his popularity in perspective.

One more quick note; the producer of ‘Love Me Tender’ would not allow Elvis Presley to record with his regular band which famously included Scotty Moore, Bill Black and D.J. Fontana. Back up was provided by The Ken Darby Trio which included Red Robinson, Charles Prescott and Vita Mumolo. Jon Dodson offered backing vocals. Here is the movie version.

Sing along with the lyrics that were adapted by some combination of Vera Matson, Elvis Presley and Ken Darby.

Love me tender,
love me sweet,
never let me go.
You have made my life complete,
and I love you so.

Love me tender,
love me true,
all my dreams fulfilled.
For my darlin’ I love you,
and I always will.

Love me tender,
love me long,
take me to your heart.
For it’s there that I belong,
and we’ll never part.

Love me tender,
love me dear,
tell me you are mine.
I’ll be yours through all the years,
till the end of time.

(When at last my dreams come true
Darling this I know
Happiness will follow you
Everywhere you go).

Vera Matson, Elvis Presley and Ken Darby

Now let’s move on to the cover versions. As always, with Elvis the list of covers numbers well over 300, so limiting the number within the context of Ted Tocks Covers becomes a challenge. Nevertheless, here we go…

We are coming out strong with this 1966 cover from the great Percy Sledge. The soul just pours from his delivery.

Three years later in 1969, Johnny Nash covered ‘Love Me Tender’. It comes across as so sincere; it is like he is reciting a love letter. So nice.

Another one from 1969. Here is Albert King from his Elvis tribute album cleverly entitled, ‘King does the King’s Things’.

Moving on to 1978, here is Linda Ronstadt from her album ‘Living in the USA’. Linda is always the personification of vocal perfection.

Let’s cap off our mini tribute to ‘The Kings’. We can call it ‘We Three Kings’. In all seriousness, here is BB King live in 1983. He lets his band shine. I love the piano and the sax solo is beautiful. Ever the legend, B.B. holds back until 3:44 before he puts a finishing touch on the song with his trademark guitar work.

You gotta love Willie Nelson. Here he is back in 1985. He is still going strong. He is a living legend. This beautiful version is from the soundtrack for Porky’s Revenge.

This one is for my mother-in-law, Deanna! Here is Nana Mouskouri from her 1986 album ‘Why Worry’. Yet another evocative cover version.  

This is an important cover from the one and only, Jordanaires. This comes complete with a short back story. They released this tribute album in 1989. It was appropriately entitled ‘Elvis Memories’. It consists of ten epic Elvis tracks, interpreted by this famous vocal ensemble.

Here, we lighten the mood a little with Bugs Bunny and Friends. Foghorn Leghorn takes the lead in this 1997 tribute. Toward the end, it gets a little silly, but it’s still fun.

Heading into the new millennium which represents over half a century of Elvis influence we feature Chris Isaak and Brandi Carlile. I love Brandi and Chris Isaak is just an amazing vocalist. This is a live recording from 2008. For Carlile, it was a sign of the greatness that was just emerging.

Two years later, in 2010 Nora Jones covered ‘Love Me Tender’ on her album ‘Come Away with Me’. Just one more in a long line of incredible covers.

A quick check lists official cover versions at 355 and counting. That doesn’t even take into account the many versions of ‘Aura Lea’. The story behind ‘Love Me Tender’ speaks to the power of music and influence that sometimes bridges centuries. It becomes a fascinating journey.

It says here, that musicians will be recording ‘Love Me Tender’ ‘til the end of time.

Bastille Day – Guide the future by the past. Long ago the mould was cast. #MusicisLife #TedTocksCovers #Rush #NeilPeart #ShallowsoftheMundane

Oh, won’t you please welcome home…Rush.”

Rick Ringer

Rush fans will understand the magic of this moment. When the needle dropped on the first song on side one of ‘All the World’s a Stage’. It signified a triumphant return. The scene was Massey Hall in Toronto in June of 1976.

This homecoming was the culmination of an arduous year. Let’s head back to the summer of 1975 where this chapter of the journey begins.

Rush was on an upward trajectory. Earlier in the year, they released their second album, ‘Fly by Night’, and their burgeoning popularity led to being recognized as the Juno Award winner for Most Promising Group. By June, they had completed a successful tour which saw them headline in Canada. The question became, where do we go from here? This is when a pattern emerged that would describe Rush as a band for over four decades. They did it their way, staying true to themselves focusing on a firm commitment to developing concept songs. These progressive rock inspired pieces blended well with a handful of shorter tracks that harkened back to their hard rock and blues roots. The trio was proud of what they had created over July and August, considering it a step in the right direction. The end result became known as ‘Caress of Steel’.

Released in September of 1975, ‘Caress of Steel’ took Rush from the highest hopes to the depths of disappointment. Record sales were poor. Ticket sales for their shows were weak, and in the United States they persevered through a series of shows as a supporting act for headliners such as KISS, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Thin Lizzy, Frank Zappa and Leslie West.

Due to the poor showing of ‘Caress of Steel’ one critic made this harsh suggestion.

Rush will have a very short shelf-life, one that’s headed straight down the tubes…” 

Caress of Steel Album Review

The beleaguered band took note of the review and began to refer to the ‘Caress of Steel’ tour as the ‘Down the Tubes’ tour. However, the one thing no one could truly assess, outside of the band themselves, was their resolve. Rush was taking in every detail of what it took to be successful from acts like KISS, and as a result the lessons they learned on the road combined with Neil Peart’s love of reading and his propensity for social observation became an inspiration. The band’s primary lyricist was taking notes for what would become the band’s true transformative album.

Looking back, the fact that ‘Caress of Steel’ was so maligned as a Rush album has become a matter of some debate. In fact, many true Rush fans consider it crucial to their development and devote their focus to the album’s many positive attributes. While the progressive experiments, ‘Fountain of Lamneth’ and ‘The Necromancer’ foretold that direction, tracks like ‘Bastille Day’ spoke to their prowess in writing hard driving riff-oriented songs. One thing was for sure, there was no way anyone was going to tell them what to do.

“Rush will not pander to the lowest common denominator, just to score a “hit”, and receive AM radio airplay. Considering the conviction with which they deliver a song about the storming of the Bastille, their unique style suits them just fine, thank you.”

Raymond Michael

‘Bastille Day’ was the opening song on ‘Caress of Steel’. As an early Rush track it resides in the upper echelon. Here is Robert Telleria from his book ‘Merely Players’

The French Revolution imagery was “inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, with proud and defiant guitar riffs and tempos. Neil’s first real themes of a class struggle and oppression. The opening line was what the Queen of France said: ‘If there’s no bread, let them eat cake’.”

Robert Telleria

Neil Peart’s commanding lyrics tell the story of the beginning of the French Revolution. The message is delivered in an urgent cry from Geddy Lee. On July 14, 1789, angry Parisians stormed the Bastille, freeing the remaining prisoners and taking the weapons and ammunition that were stored inside. This act signified the beginning of the French Revolution. More importantly, this event has come to symbolize civic unrest through the centuries. A disgruntled (feudal) working class were rising against a tyrannical monarchy, expressing their discontent. They aspired to equality and they were advocating for human rights. If this meant anarchy, and action that would tear the system down; so be it.

From that time on, Bastille Day became known as France’s Independence Day. Here is the short lesson in history from Neil Peart and Rush.

There’s no bread, let them eat cake
There’s no end to what they’ll take
Flaunt the fruits of noble birth
Wash the salt into the earth

But they’re marching to Bastille Day
La guillotine will claim her bloody prize
Free the dungeons of the innocent
The king will kneel and let his kingdom rise

Bloodstained velvet, dirty lace
Naked fear on every face
See them bow their heads to die
As we would bow as they rode by

And we’re marching to Bastille Day
La guillotine will claim her bloody prize
Sing, oh choirs of cacophony
The king has kneeled, to let his kingdom rise

Lessons taught but never learned
All around us anger burns
Guide the future by the past
Long ago the mould was cast

For they marched up to Bastille Day
La guillotine claimed her bloody prize
Hear the echoes of the centuries
Power isn’t all that money buys”

Neil Peart

Following the storming of the Bastille the fortress was torn down. By October of 1789, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette had essentially become prisoners. The King was sent to the guillotine in January of 1793, and Marie Antoinette followed in October of that year. By the late 1790s France had seen the demise of the monarchy and the ascent of Napoleon Bonaparte. The entire political and social landscape had been altered.

By comparison, Rush forged a more streamlined future, but it was not without some hardship. After the completion of their ‘Caress of Steel’ tour the band took a very short break before they began to record what would become ‘2112’. Recording began in February, and the album was complete and ready to be released by April 1. Based on the struggles of ‘Caress of Steel’, the band faced some financial hardship and they navigated a period of strife between manager Ray Danniels and their international label, Mercury Records. Mercury first threatened to drop Rush, but Danniels negotiated one more album. The contingency was for Rush to create something more commercial. True to form, Dirk, Lerxst and Pratt powered forward with their devotion to a progressive rock style. In fact, they went all in with what is now known as the epic ‘2112’ side which featured seven parts, fueled by the spacey ‘Overture’ then ‘Temples of Syrinx’ before hitting a crescendo with the tumultuous ‘Grand Finale’.

The album, which was written in defiance of the music establishment became Rush’s best-selling album to date, peaking at #5 in Canada and remaining on the Billboard Top LPs & Tape chart for 37 weeks. ‘2112’ remains Rush’s second best-selling album after ‘Moving Pictures’.

This brings us all the way back around to where this post began. For Rush, ‘All the World’s a Stage’ was offered as a live presentation of what they considered to be the highlights of their four-album catalogue to date. Here is their address in the liner notes.

This album consists of the show which we brought to you during our North American Tours of 1976. It is an anthology of what we feel to be the high points of our concerts and recordings up to this time. It is not perfect, but it is faithful to us and to you. We have tried to strike a careful balance between perfection and authenticity, and to create a finished work that you may enjoy, and we may be proud of. This album to us, signifies the end of the beginning, a milestone to mark the close of chapter one, in the annals of Rush. To all our friends everywhere, we thank you for your friendship and support, and wish you success in all your aspirations.”

Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee and Neil Peart

To think, for all intents and purposes this series of recordings and tours took place over what amounts to about one 12 – month period in 1975-76. Reviews from that period condemned Rush for being cheap Led Zeppelin knock-offs and pretentious prog rock wannabes. At the time nobody knew that Rush would perform as a band well into the 2000s before playing their final show at The Forum in Los Angeles, on August 1, 2015. This was almost exactly 41 years to the day that Neil Peart played his first show with the band. Over that time ‘Bastille Day’ drifted off the set list by the early part of the pre – ‘Moving Pictures’ tour. To the delight of Rush fans, the band brought back a portion of ‘Bastille Day’ as part of the ‘R30 Intro’. One of my favourite concert memories was taking in that show with my two oldest sons who were 11 and 8 at the time. It was their first concert. This instrumental medley has to go down as one of the finest concert introductions, by any band, anywhere.

As we explore the cover versions of ‘Bastille Day’ we are taken to a tribute album that was released in 1999. This is Shallows of the Mundane from the album ‘Red Star – A Tribute to Rush’. The album is promoted as;

12 modern acts who remain true to the Rush aesthetic and principal of uncompromising music.”

Red Star – A Tribute to Rush

A little over five years later in 2005 Alex Skolnick, Jani Lane, Vinnie Moore, Stu Hamm and Mike Mangini produced this cover of ‘Bastille Day’ on ‘Subdivisions: A Tribute to Rush’ which was an 11- song homage to the Canadian rock trio. Here is guitarist, Vinnie Moore, formerly of the band UFO.

My first Rush record was “All the World’s A Stage” which I got about a year after I started playing guitar. I remember learning some of the riffs like the opening to “Bastille Day”. It’s a great, raw rock record. One of the coolest things about it though was, “ladies and gentlemen, the Professor on the drum kit”. I really loved that drum solo. They should have left the dude’s ass off of the front cover, though. They let me open for them on the Roll the Bones tour and that was a big contribution to my career. Thanks guys!! You’re pretty cool for a bunch of hockey fans!!!”

Vinnie Moore

Now, enjoy this interesting cover.

It is not a coincidence that Ted Tocks Covers features the writing of Neil Peart on this day. Rush fans were united in shock when they heard of his death three years ago. This post exists as one in a long line of tributes to Rush and Neil Peart.

Many times, through the years as a huge fan of Rush, I was drawn to the lyrics of Neil Peart. His wisdom frequently helped me make sense of things as a teen and young adult. This world view has shaped much of my thinking to the present. As events have unfolded in the more recent past these words have become increasingly relevant.

Lessons taught but never learned
All around us anger burns
Guide the future by the past
Long ago the mould was cast”

Neil Peart

History does have a tendency to repeat itself. Or, in the words of Winston Churchill,

 Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Winston Churchill

Another way it was expressed by Rush.

Plus ca change
Plus c’est la meme chose
The more that things change
The more they stay the same”

Neil Peart

Based on what I can see a good revolution could come in handy right about now.

Hear the echoes of the centuries
Power isn’t all that money buys”

Neil Peart

If you listen closely, you can hear the echoes.

YMCA – That they all may be one. #MusicisLife #TedTocksCovers #VillagePeople #BoyGeorge #RobynAdeleAnderson #LeoMoracchioli

At its peak ‘YMCA’ by the Village People was selling 15,000 copies a day and it exists as one of 44 singles to have sold more than 10 million physical copies worldwide. It has transcended entertainment and moved to an iconic status, musically, culturally and historically. Best of all, when you hear this song, it is often accompanied by people enjoying a good time. At its best, it has become a celebration and since its release almost 45 years ago YMCA has maintained its relevance due to an underlying theme of inclusivity and diversity. YMCA embodies everything lovers of music look for in a song. As an added bonus, it tells a story, and today Ted Tocks Covers will aim to share.

Historically speaking, the YMCA began in the 1840s as a concept led by George Williams, a London draper, who along with a group of 11 friends founded the well-known institution. Williams and his group were concerned about the lack of hospitality for men who migrated to major cities in search of employment. They noted the common practice of frequenting brothels and taverns, and based on their Christian principals they became determined to;

“Improve the spiritual condition of young men engaged in the drapery, embroidery and other trades.”

Original YMCA Mission

The association with industrialization continued, and an effort to create a global presence was successful in part due to an exhibition during the first World’s Fair which was held in Hyde Park, London in 1851.

The combination of philanthropy, social purpose, industrial potential and morality created a strong attraction and it wasn’t long before YMCAs were prominent in major cities worldwide, all with a similar mission.

(The YMCA) combined preaching in the streets and the distribution of religious tracts with a social ministry. Philanthropists saw them as places for wholesome recreation that would preserve youth from the temptations of alcohol, gambling, and prostitution and that would promote good citizenship.”

J. William Frost, “Part V: Christianity and Culture in America”, Christianity: A Social and Cultural History,

In the United States, and specifically New York City, the YMCA evolved in the 1880s. Similar to their London predecessor, the YMCA recognized the need to build single occupancy units for people who were moving to the city in search of employment.

Generally speaking, in the post-industrial era, these facilities tended to become more associated with a combination of homelessness or youth facing personal crises. Based on the Christian principals to which the YMCA was founded, all were accepted.

This brings us to the Young Men’s Christian Association residence known as the McBurney Y in the Chelsea neighbourhood of New York City. While accounts vary somewhat, this is the building that in many ways inspired the song by the Village People. The inspiration was borne out of a diverse group of people co-existing in one communal space. Within that social gathering you could find recent arrivals, white and blue collar workers, ‘gym rats’ and as it happens, even gay people, who happened to represent a cross sample of the aforementioned list.

It is this portrait that set the stage for what would become the song ‘YMCA’.

In the middle part of 1978, the Village People were working on their third album, ‘Cruisin’. In an effort to follow up the success of their hit song ‘Macho Man’, producer Jacques Morali and Village People singer and lyricist, Victor Willis were discussing possible themes for new material. Their conversation turned to the popularity of the McBurney YMCA. Morali asked Willis to explain the Y concept. It was out of that explanation that the idea for a song emerged.

Don’t tell me, Jacques, you want to write a song about it?”

Victor Willis

And together, they did.

In order to completely understand the context of ‘YMCA’ one must immerse themselves in the club scene of the late 1970s and the reality of at least one aspect of the purpose the YMCA served.

Taken at face value, the song’s lyrics extol the virtues of the Young Men’s Christian Association where, based on the words of Victor Willis’s publicist, offer a host of activities for young black men such as, basketball and swimming. However, in the gay culture from which the image and music of the Village People came, the song was implicitly understood as celebrating YMCA’s reputation as a popular cruising and hookup spot, particularly for the younger men to whom it was addressed. 

It appears that like any artist, the goal of Victor Willis, and Village People producers Morali and Henri Belolo was to attract the disco crowd by featuring a faction of ‘70s culture within the song they wrote. The purpose of the video they produced was to promote it to an even wider audience. In a book by Paul Groth called ‘Living Downtown: The History of Residential Hotels in the United States’ the author notes;

Some of those occupying single room residences in the ‘70s would have somewhat resembled the men pictured in the video — in their 20s or 30s, a mix of white-collar and blue-collar residents, along with retired seniors and veterans.”

Paul Groth

Subsequent to the success of the song and video, and in response to the massive success, residents of the McBurney Y, have spoken to the diversity of the facility which they say included undergraduate students and a broad ethnic mix.  Based on estimates, it is thought about half of the residents during that time were gay.

According to a resident about the time the Village People shot the video;

The types of characters depicted in the “YMCA” video were, in fact, more likely to reflect temporary occupants than long-term renters, who mostly lodged there to relax and sleep between shifts. Often gay and in their 20s or 30s, the weekend guests used the YMCA “as a dressing room,” and as a place to discreetly hook-up”

McBurney YMCA Resident

Patterns begin to emerge that suggest ‘YMCA’ was written as a true reflection of the scene the Village People were created to represent. In this comment from a 2000 interview, producer Henri Belolo speaks to the observations that begat group itself.

I was talking to the gay community about what they liked, what they wanted to listen to musically, and what was their dream, their fantasy. One day [producer Jacques Morali and I] were walking in the streets of New York. I remember clearly it was down in the Village, and we saw an Indian walking down the street and heard the bells on his feet. We followed him into a bar. He was a bartender — he was serving and also dancing on the bar. And while we were watching him dancing and sipping our beer, we saw a cowboy watching him dance. And Jacques and I suddenly had the same idea. We said, “My God, look at those characters. “So, we started to fantasize about what were the characters of America. The mix, you know, of the American man…And we named it the Village People.”

Henri Belolo

Morali convinced his associates at Casablanca; the same label that hosted acts as diverse as Donna Summer to KISS, that the Village People concept would be a hit. He was soon proven right. With the success of the group’s first two albums, specifically the hit ‘Macho Man’, the Village People had become a cross cultural sensation. Here is the cowboy, Randy Jones.

Something just clicked with us. We had that spark. Victor was a terrific singer: He had the style of Teddy Pendergrass. He was married to Phylicia Rashad. But we didn’t start as a gay group, and not everyone in the group was gay — that’s an incorrect notion. So much of our music was played in black, Latin, and gay underground clubs; that’s’ where the first Village People album found its initial audience.”

Jacque Morali

Randy Jones, who played the role of ‘cowboy’ suggests that it was he who first took Jacques Morali to the McBurney YMCA. When he first arrived in New York City form North Carolina, he became a member.

I took Jacques there three or four times in 1977, and he loved it. He was fascinated by a place where a person could work out with weights, play basketball, swim, take classes, and get a room. Plus, with Jacques being gay, I had a lot of friends I worked out with who were in the adult-film industry, and he was impressed by meeting people he had seen in the videos and magazines. Those visits with me planted a seed in him, and that’s how he got the idea for “Y.M.C.A.” — by literally going to the YMCA.”

Randy Jones

Finally, here is the recollection of Victor Willis who is credited with coming up with the final set of lyrics following a series of modifications.

I would write one draft and then, when I was on the road, I can’t tell you exactly where, I would right another draft. The final draft that I did I remember was in Vancouver just before going to do a concert.”

Victor Willis

Here is the result.

Young man, there’s no need to feel down.
I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground.
I said, young man, ’cause you’re in a new town
There’s no need to be unhappy.

Young man, there’s a place you can go.
I said, young man, when you’re short on your dough.
You can stay there, and I’m sure you will find
Many ways to have a good time.

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

They have everything for young men to enjoy,
You can hang out with all the boys…

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal,
You can do whatever you feel…

Young man, are you listening to me?
I said, young man, what do you wanna be?
I said, young man, you can make real your dreams.
But you got to know this one thing!

No man does it all by himself.
I said, young man, put your pride on the shelf,
And just go there, to the Y.M.C.A.
I’m sure they can help you today.

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

They have everything for young men to enjoy,
You can hang out with all the boys…

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal,
You can do whatever you feel…

Young man, I was once in your shoes.
I said, I was down and out with the blues.
I felt no man cared if I were alive.
I felt the whole world was so jive…

That’s when someone came up to me,
And said, “Young man, take a walk up the street.
There’s a place there called the ‘Y.M.C.A.’
They can start you back on your way.”

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

They have everything for young men to enjoy,
You can hang out with all the boys…

Y.M.C.A.
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

Young man, young man, there’s no need to feel down.
Young man, young man, get yourself off the ground.

Y.M.C.A.
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.

Young man, are you listening to me?
Young man, young man, what do you wanna be?

Y.M.C.A.
You’ll find it at the Y.M.C.A.

No man, young man, does it all by himself.
Young man, young man, put your pride on the shelf,

Y.M.C.A.
And just go to the Y.M.C.A.

Young man, young man, I was once in your shoes.
Young man, young man, I was down with the blues.

Y.M.C.A.
It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.”

Victor Willis and Jacques Morali

Over four decades later members of the Village People are still being asked about the intention of YMCA in terms of audience. It is fascinating to note, that virtually no one can agree. Victor Willis is emphatic when he says the song was about his reflection on hard times as a struggling actor in New York City.

There were times that I felt, you know — the expression was being ‘down and out with the blues.’ And so, I would go to the Y to pick myself up.  I’d go back home and get ready to get back to my life.”

Victor Willis

As an interesting sidenote, at about exactly this time, Willis was married to an actress he had met named Phylicia Ayers-Allen. The couple divorced in 1982. Phylicia went on to play the role of Clair Huxtable on the Cosby Show.

While the absolute credit for the motivation for the song and who the ideal audience was, remains a matter of debate, even among those closest to its production, there is one aspect of its composition to which everyone agrees; the horns and strings. Once again, here is Randy Jones.

The guy who really deserves the credit is Horace Ott, who arranged the horns and strings. Jacques had the ideas, but Horace transformed them into songs.”

Randy Jones

Let’s give the final word to David Hodo (construction worker), whose initial idea gave way to the concept. It seems everything unfolded from there.

Y.M.C.A.” certainly has a gay origin. That’s what Jacques was thinking when he wrote it, because our first album [1977’s Village People] was possibly the gayest album ever. I mean, look at us. We were a gay group. So, was the song written to celebrate gay men at the YMCA? Yes. Absolutely. And gay people love it.”

David Hodo

Correction. Everybody loves it. People the world over can relate, whether it is based on the YMCA tradition, the uplifting music or as a celebration of sexuality. Everyone seems to be having a great time. That is the mark of true greatness.

By early 1979, ‘YMCA’ was a worldwide hit. Coinciding with that success was the threat of a lawsuit, because what is a hit song without a lawsuit? It seems the YMCA were a little jaded due to a perceived trademark infringement. This issue was settled out of court. In the end the organization recognized the value of the positive association and expressed pride in what has amounted to an eternal advertising campaign.

In a 2008 interview, YMCA media relations manager, Leah Pouw added this thought.

We at the YMCA celebrate the song. It’s a positive statement about the YMCA and what we offer to people all around the world.”

Leah Pouw

With that, the entire premise brings us all the way back to the original purpose by George Williams over 180 years ago.

Speaking of the YMCA mission; over the years it has evolved in a positive way. A program was created by the YMCA in Australia in 2017 in response to a determined need to make sure young people were inspired and remained optimistic. They established the ‘Why Not Campaign’. Three major issues were; youth employment, marriage equality and mental health. Above all, the purpose was to provide Australian youth with an opportunity to ensure their voices were being heard. This all stemmed from an effort to create more optimism for future generations.

Melinda Crole, who was the CEO of the Australia YMCA explained;

Young people have overwhelmingly told us that their voices are not being given a say in decisions made by governments, institutions and employers that affect their lives.”

Melinda Crole

With this mission in mind, the YMCA sought out a voice to project their feelings, and with that, they reached out to ‘80s icon Boy George.

The world can be a scary and overwhelming place, it’s easy to feel you’re not important and that your views don’t matter. When the YMCA invited me to be a part of this call to arms, I couldn’t say no – this message is too important. What if the answer to some of our biggest problems is in the mind of a young person who feels there’s no place in society for them? We need to give them a voice and start listening.”

Boy George

Enjoy this acoustic version of ‘YMCA’ with subtle backing vocals from a youth chorus.

We believe in the power of inspired young people. The problem is, their voice is rarely heard. Our question is: why not.”

Why Not Campaign

Good question.

Also from 2017, here is Ted Tocks Covers favourite Robyn Adele Anderson with a 1920s ragtime style version of ‘YMCA’. This rendition features the tap-dancing skills of Gerson Lanza. This should put a smile on your face.

Most recently, in 2022 another Ted Tocks favourite covered ‘YMCA’ with his trademark heavy metal twist. Here is Leo Moracchioli doing it all from the floor of his studio in Norway.

Through the years, ‘YMCA’ has become a cultural phenomenon, beyond what anyone involved with the Village People could have ever imagined. One of the first remarkable aspects of ‘YMCA’s crowd appeal were the hand gestures that evolved from its obvious dance club popularity. People began to use hand signs to spell out the letters. According to Randy Jones, this originated in a very spontaneous way. On this day in 1979, ‘YMCA’ was at the top of the charts virtually worldwide and the Village People were slated to appear on ‘Dick Clark’s American Bandstand’. Here is his account.

We were flying up from South America for the show, and we worked on the choreography on the airplane — handclaps, turning, marching in place…stuff like that. Well, the audience at this particular taping was a bunch of kids bused in from a cheerleader camp. The first time we got to the chorus, we were clapping our hands above our heads. And the kids thought it looked like we were making a Y. So, they automatically did the letters. We saw this and started doing letters with them. It was purely audience-generated, which is probably why it’s still so popular. And that’s great for me, because it keeps the checks coming in every six months.”

Randy Jones

To this day, the gestures continue, and so do the royalty cheques.

Ultimately, wherever large groups gather and enjoy ‘YMCA’ there is an immediate sense of happiness and togetherness.

Man! Even the New York Yankees grounds crew dances to ‘YMCA’ while they groom the diamond during Yankees home games at the venerable Yankee Stadium.

There is something cosmic about all of this when you consider the original intention of the YMCA. Back in 1855 the World Alliance of YMCAs was formed. They adopted a motto that spoke to their mission.

That they all may be one.”

John 17:21

Like I said, it is about celebrating diversity and encouraging inclusion.

Embrace it, in every way.

Top Three Posts for December – #MusicisLife #TedTocksCovers #TheBeachBoys #IanTyson #TheYoungbloods #NeilYoung #SteveYoung #DrSeuss

Music is an influence that has always encouraged me, and by all indications, it seems to offer solace for those around me. The appreciation allows people to tap into their artistic side while they make their own rules about how they want to interact with the world at large, or with those closest to them. It can serve as a grounding influence. Music helps me lay out a road map for my life. As always, I invite you to come along for the ride.

During December, Ted Tocks Covers readership went back to numbers that resembled the first two months of 2022, averaging well over 70 page views a day. In the end, December was the third best month ever for this blog. What a great way to dive headlong into 2023. In total, over 260 songs received attention on the Ted Tocks Covers blog site with page views enjoyed in 55 countries. The top five countries by page view remains; the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and Ireland.

All of this provides room for optimism as I enter a new year. As much as New Year’s Day only represents the turning of a page on a calendar, there is a little bit more at stake. Part of the reason I write is because music is a form of therapy for me, and this blog has definitely become therapeutic. When I began writing it was personal, and as the days went on it became obvious that I wasn’t alone. The fact that this journey has become something I can share has allowed me to branch out into uncharted territory. To some degree, I suspect I am sharing with an audience that sees things in a similar way. At every turn, I am acutely aware of patterns that produce some level of validation, and every degree of success is like fuel. It propels me, as I strive to move forward and maintain a positive outlook.

So often, I am reminded of the words of Tom Petty when I write.

There’s something good waiting down this road. I’m picking up whatever is mine.”

Tom Petty

This represents an optimistic way of looking at the future. Too often I have demonstrated this to be true.

I’m so tired of being tired
Sure as night will follow day
Most things I worry ’bout
Never happen anyway”

Tom Petty

We live and we learn.

It’s all part of a major shift. I need to channel my wasted energy into positive vibes and embrace the flow of where life is taking me.

Maybe something new will emerge?

Time will tell.

It’s time to move on to the music. Before we explore the top posts for December, let’s look at a couple of features that continues to generate significant page views. Once again, the search engines are doing their work and certain Ted Tocks posts do generate a higher level of visibility.

‘Sloop John B’ by The Beach Boys is a perfect example. It was originally posted in March of 2021. Over time, its readership on the blog site has steadily grown. Presently it exists as one of just 26 Ted Tocks features to reach 300 page views. The back story behind ‘Sloop John B’ has been a source of intrigue for many since its release in 1966. This version of the song is older than me. Its roots go back over a century. Truly a Brian Wilson masterpiece.

Fans of Canadian music were saddened in late December when the news of Ian Tyson’s death was reported. Tyson was very prominent on the Canadian music scene before Can-Con and managed to forge a solid career from 1959 through to even the early part of 2022. His legacy will be as vast as the Alberta sky, but whenever his name is raised, three thoughts that will inevitably arise are his one time wife and musical partner Sylvia, his band ‘The Great Speckled Bird’ which included Ben Keith, Buddy Cage and David Wilcox (among many others) and most of all, ‘Four Strong Winds’.

Now, without further adieu, here are the top three Ted Tocks features for December.

#3. Get Together – Ted Tocks Covers loves the deep tracks. But hold on. One might say that ‘Get Together’ by The Youngbloods is not a deep track. It’s a ‘60s hit. An anthem. That is true, but it took a fair bit of time, and countless acts took a shot at recording it before it struck a chord with a mass audience. This post was a fun exploration that went deep into the history of how ‘(Let’s) Get Together’ became one of the pure songs for a generation. First it took hold of San Francisco, then a couple of years later…the world. Something like that. Truth be told, I had no immediate plans to write about it until I heard Earle Bailey on SiriusXM introduce a version of Jesse Colin Young performing it live from the floor in the Sirius studio. There is nothing like hearing a song for the first time all over again.

This isn’t from the SiriusXM show I mentioned but it rivals the emotional delivery I recall. ‘Get Together’ is the third song he plays. It is worth watching the whole mini set, otherwise skip ahead to about 8:00

https://www.facebook.com/RollingStone/videos/1126927474330812

If you hear the song I sing
You will understand, listen
You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It’s there at your command”

Dino Valenti

We should bring this song back for 2023. The sentiment works for me.

#3. Lotta Love – While this is a Neil Young song, this feature became more of a celebration of Nicolette Larson. Neil was so prolific in the ‘70s, he was just giving songs away. In all seriousness, ‘Lotta Love’ has a cool back story and the way it found its way to Larson is fun. She turned it into her signature song with the help of some pretty big names in the music industry. When she died relatively suddenly in 1997 her friends rallied to produce a heartfelt fundraiser in her name. Once again, music became a source of calm, on stormy seas. As always, it came from the heart, packed in with a whole ‘Lotta Love’.

#2. Seven Bridges Road – This classic song speaks of a drive down an Alabama country road. The beauty of ‘Seven Bridges Road’ is its ability to take us to a time and place. Little known elements of it speak to inspiration from a local blues picker who was friends with Robert Johnson. The song evolves from there and includes covers by some intriguing names before developing to become a vocal masterpiece.

#1. You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch – This post was a ton of fun to write. Actually, it was difficult to know when to stop. One of my favourite Christmas specials has always been ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ by Dr. Seuss. This post took us on short trip through the back story of what inspired the book, the TV special and the song itself. It was a world of discovery in many ways. Just know, that even for Dr. Seuss, writing was a way to sort through a challenging period of his life. Enough said. Exploring a number of quality covers made this one of my favourite posts to write over the duration of five years of writing Ted Tocks Covers. I will likely post it on Christmas Eve, every year, just to keep the message of togetherness alive.  

If you missed these features the first time around, please, enjoy them now. If you think a friend might like to spend a few minutes with some good music, please share because…

#MusicisLife

If you haven’t already, please sign up yourself or invite other people to follow Ted Tocks Covers at:

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By signing up to the blog site, Ted Tocks Covers daily posts will be delivered to your email, and you can read it on your own time. The benefit of this is, you are not held captive by Facebook algorithms.

Thank you for continuing to read Ted Tocks Covers. I look forward to sharing more music with you as we head into 2023. 

As always, thank you for following.

Top 10 Posts for 2022 – #HappyNewYear #MusicisLife #TedTocksCovers #WarrenZevon #JohnPrine #FleetwoodMac #AllmanBrothersBand #AlisonMoyet #JacksonBrowne #TheKinks #TomPetty #TheBand

Happy 2023 to the Readers of Ted Tocks Covers!

Today’s post will continue what has become an annual tradition for Ted Tocks Covers. I will share the top 10 original posts for 2022. As an added bonus I will include the most read Ted Tocks feature of 2022 and the Ted Tocks feature that has garnered the most readership over the duration of this blog.

Once everything is compiled, readers will (hopefully) be able to enjoy at least 12 songs and a (seemingly infinite number of quality cover versions.

Before I move on, I would like to share some interesting observations about how the site continues to grow.

In 2022, Ted Tocks Covers enjoyed readership in 108 countries around the world. I share this because I find this level of engagement to be both fascinating and validating.

It is interesting to note that the top five countries for Ted Tocks Covers readership are:

#5. Ireland

#4. Australia

#3. United Kingdom

#2. Canada

#1. United States

I love the range of readership. Slightly more than half of Ted Tocks Covers readers in 2022 came from the United States.

Over the calendar year, 150 posts were created. My goal was to create new content anywhere from two to three times per week and I managed to achieve that level of production.

As a result, I was astonished to discover that this generated nearly 300,000 words. It should be noted that oftentimes, Ted Tocks features the lyrics to the songs I highlight, and quotes that speak to the creations, so by no means can this degree of verbosity all be attributed to Ted Tocks Covers. That is a lot of words though.

To quote Alex Lifeson:

“Blah, Blah, Blah”

The 150 posts contributed to some degree, to over 21,000 page views. Here it should be noted that as a result of everything being archived on my blog site https://tedtockscovers.wordpress.com/ these articles are generating a high degree of visibility on search engines. It is pretty remarkable to see it grow.

For example, in 2022. Ted Tocks Covers had over 16,400 Visitors, which is easily the best year ever.

In 2022 Ted Tocks Covers achieved a milestone. The blog site surpassed both 50,000 page views and 1500 posts. In the first half of 2023 we expect to reach site visitor 50,000.

Once again, this is all shared because none of it would be possible without your support. The fact you take time to read this personal exploration is appreciated beyond words.

Now let’s move on to the music. Before unveiling the Top Ten for 2022 there are two songs I want to highlight.

First, the most viewed post over the 2022 calendar year is ‘Keep Me In Your Heart’ by Warren Zevon.  

In 2022, it had over 1200 page views. This marks the second consecutive year that this evocative song by this incredible songwriter was the most viewed Ted Tocks feature. Since it was published in September of 2019 it has received over 2500 page views. ‘Keep Me in Your Heart’ is second all-time to ‘He Was in Heaven Before He Died’ by the great John Prine which presently sits at 5060 page views.

#10. 45 Years of Rumours – In early February, Ted Tocks Covers shared this brief retrospective which highlighted 45 years of the celebrated Fleetwood Mac album ‘Rumours’. It was a fun look back, especially when several quality covers of the incredible songs that make up the album were shared. Sadly, this post repeated in late November when the news of Christine McVie’s death shocked the music world. The outpouring of love for this classy performer was heartwarming. We are so lucky that her music remains, and the legend of Fleetwood Mac continues to grow.

#9. Nine Pound Hammer – Ted Tocks Covers has featured John Prine so many times that it has become a challenge to offer something unique in any way. I approached this tribute in what amounted to a short story. It was a fantasy piece. This look back on a bluegrass standard with a touch of history was fun to write. Truth be told, John Prine was the central character, but much like he was in life, the humble artist gave all the credit to the many artists who covered this song through the years. I miss John Prine.

#8. Blue Sky – This beautiful song by the Allman Brothers Band celebrated 50 years in 2022. It resides as one of the last Allman Brothers tracks to include the work of the legendary Duane Allman. We have Dickey Betts to thank for this musical walk through a sunny day. The success of ‘Blue Sky’ and the reception of ‘Eat a Peach’ gave them the strength and conviction to carry on. What a band; no matter what lineup shared the stage.

#7. Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You into Heaven Any More – The second John Prine track to appear in the Top 10 for 2022. Yet again, Prine blows everyone away with his lyrical brilliance. He packed this song away on a few occasions thinking it was no longer relevant. In a case of ‘never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups to astonish you’ the same themes keep popping up and this song enjoyed a handful of resurgences on his set list over the years. Of course, John was able to get it across with his trademark sense of humour because laughter truly is the best medicine. It serves to keep us sane in an increasingly divided world.

#6. Wishing You Were Here – Without question, this was the most difficult Ted Tocks I have ever written. Technically speaking, it is not actually a ‘Covers’ piece. There was no cover version included because I ran out of words to share about the loss of a dear friend. The words and emotion came pouring out. It was all encompassed within the words and music of Alison Moyet. This powerful piece of music encapsulated my feelings perfectly. I was honoured to share these words at Alistair’s funeral at the request of his husband Derek. I still can’t tell you how it feels. Countless friends were there for Derek, and for each other.

#5. Rock Me on the Water – Through the years, Ted Tocks Covers has featured Jackson Browne on several occasions. Whenever I do, I share it to Jackson Browne fan pages on Facebook and the engagement is always positive. Much like John Prine fan pages, the people are top notch. Just like the music. ‘Rock Me on the Water’ is a warning to people to look after each other and the planet. Browne got this message through on his debut album, and he has managed to sustain this level of morality for over 50 years. Just a quality human being. He also happens to be a phenomenal songwriter whose offerings continue to be relevant.

#4. Tired of Waiting for You – Part of the fun of writing this blog is dipping my toe in the water of various fan groups on the internet and social media. So far, I have mentioned John Prine and Jackson Browne. A couple of years ago I shared a Ted Tocks Covers post that featured ‘Living on a Thin Line’ to www.kindakinks.net and the page views took off. I reached out to the site’s webmaster ‘Dave’ and said thank you. He invited me to share my Kinks related material any time. In February, Ted Tocks featured the 1964 Kinks classic ‘Tired of Waiting for You’ and with the assistance of fans of this one-of-a-kind band, from all over the world, helped to make it the #4 Ted Tocks for 2022. Not bad for the Ray Davies penned song that was written as a means to follow up the success of ‘You Really Got Me’.

#3. Mr. Bad Example – From the early days of Ted Tocks Covers right through to the present, I have been unwavering in my opinion that Warren Zevon is one of the best songwriters who ever lived. My mission, on occasion has been to share this sentiment and back it up with facts. The fact is, his catalogue of great songs speaks to this truth. Countless musicians speak out on his behalf and in order to put a stamp on their love of Zevon’s music they have recorded some wicked cover versions of his songs. Intelligent and funny. The word genius has been thrown around, but that may have been his own tongue in cheek reference, and not directed at himself. He was complicated. David Letterman called him one of the true heroes of rock and roll. I for one agree.

#2. Time to Move On – This post was more personal than most. Another trend I have discovered over the years is when I am able to relate a song to my own day to day life it tends to get a little extra readership from the people in my more immediate circle. ‘Time to Move On’ is a deep track on the classic Tom Petty album ‘Wildflowers’. The lyrics perfectly described the way I was feeling when I opted to ‘retire’ from my career as a Print/Digital account executive for a prominent chain of community newspapers. Sadly, the industry had changed for the worse and I knew two things. First, it was clear that I was unhappy. I was like a deer caught in the headlights, wasting the meaning and losing the rhyme. I also had no idea what lay ahead. I still don’t. I am not a risk taker by nature. I just knew I had to get away. I know I made the right decision. This post reminded me of several things. It was clear that I had the support of many people. It also confirmed that for virtually every life experience there is a Tom Petty lyric that effectively conveys every emotion.

#1. – The Last Waltz – In late November Ted Tocks Covers featured a walkthrough of the setlist from the Last Waltz. It has been 46 years since that event and over five years of presenting Ted Tocks Covers, I have featured The Band on several occasions. I built those posts into this retrospective and then I added some phenomenal and more recent cover versions. The influence of The Band through to the present day really shone through here. It was a fun feature to write because the music and the energy is electrifying. Truth be told, it was a bit of a throwaway feature. I definitely didn’t expect it would gain any degree of traction. Initially it didn’t. When it was posted in the last week of November, it generated a modest 10 page views. Then something happened. Through the search engines that on occasion pick up my posts and carry them away, ‘The Last Waltz’ exploded, and became the top Ted Tocks Covers feature for 2022. Perfect. An evening that celebrated great music, was featured on a blog that simply aims to share the power of music on a daily basis. It just seems appropriate.

In the end, 2022 was the best year ever for Ted Tocks Covers. Over the course of the year the feature has averaged close to 60 page views a day. Hopefully, I can continue this upward trend in 2023.

This continues to reinforce the message that I often share. Music is a universal language. It is magic. In the words of Tom Petty:

Music is probably the one real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.”

Tom Petty

A perfect summation by one of my favourites.

If you missed these features the first time around enjoy them now. If you think a friend might like to spend a few minutes with some good music, please share because…

#MusicisLife

If you haven’t already, please sign up yourself or invite other people to follow Ted Tocks Covers at:

Linked In – https://www.linkedin.com/feed/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/TocksTed

Mastodon – https://thecanadian.social/@TedTocksCover

Blog Site – https://wordpress.com/view/tedtockscovers.wordpress.com

By signing up to the blog site, Ted Tocks Covers daily posts will be delivered to your email, and you can read it on your own time. The benefit of this is, you are not held captive by Facebook algorithms.

I will close the same way that I did last year.

Happy 2023! Cherish every moment.

Thank you for continuing to read Ted Tocks Covers. I will be in touch. You can count on that. There are many great stories to come in 2023.

Stay safe and have a grateful day!

Ordinary World – Papers in the roadside tell of suffering and greed. #MusicisLife #TedTocksCovers #DuranDuran #SimonLeBon #WarrenCuccurullo #LucianoPavarotti #AdamLambert #PaulAnka #Fleesh #JoyWilliams

This will be Ted Tocks Covers’ final post for 2022. There is a significance to this because it also represents a full five years of blogging under this concept. The little hobby that has turned into a passion, or is it the other way around?

 It all began as a way to share my love of music with friends on Facebook. When I moved it to Word Press and began sharing it on multiple platforms as an actual blog, the readership expanded to a modest level. I say modest, because it is nothing Earth shattering, but it does give me a sense of pride knowing that the music that defines me in many ways, does resonate with an audience that goes beyond my immediate circle. Quite literally, since Ted Tocks Covers began as ‘Cover Your Face’ (my marketing team suggested a name change early on) in 2018, the words and music has literally been shared worldwide. There is no way I could have known when I first sat down at my computer in advance of January 1, 2018 that five years later, I would be looking back, knowing that more than half of the time I have been writing, the world would have been living under the cloud of COVID-19 and the many challenges that leaked out of this plague. Seems bizarre, but it is true.

One thing I discovered is the more I wrote, the more I recognized I need to write. Out of this discovery, I was surprised to learn that as I shared, the words and music of artists who have touched me in many ways, the songs and lyrics Ted Tocks featured had a similar impact on many others. Through the magic of music, we have all been connected. Like I say on a daily basis…

#MusicisLife

It helps to make sense of things as we make our way through this ‘Ordinary World’.

When we symbolically join hands and truly listen, the world becomes a better place. The mundane becomes extraordinary. Hopelessness turns to optimism. The meek become emboldened and the simplest of observations becomes an opportunity to change the world forever; one note and one song at a time.

In an ‘Ordinary World’ music becomes the true embodiment of the butterfly effect. Together, those who are paying attention can witness this miracle unfold in real time.

Let’s tune in. Music has the capacity to make the world a better place.

As I have teased in the introduction, today’s feature is an evocative song by Simon LeBon and Duran Duran called ‘Ordinary World’.

Those of us who grew up in the ‘80s know that Duran Duran was among entertainment’s biggest acts for several years, but by the early ‘90s their star had faded. Audiences can be fickle. This truth has been proven for decades. Sometimes the artists who manage to redefine themselves become the ones most worthy of respect. Admittedly, Duran Duran was not in my wheelhouse of listening options between 1982 and the time of this release 30 years ago. That’s on me. Another great thing about music, is we all have the ability to sift through the archives and discover quality on our own time, and in our own space. Ted Tocks Covers is on record as being notoriously late for many a party.

In 1992, Duran Duran was preparing to release ‘The Wedding Album’. This came on the heels of their 1990 commercial flop ‘Liberty’. It’s hard to say where the band was headed if this album failed, but proverbially speaking, the writing may have been on the wall. But then something happened. Was it planned or did it just occur as an innocent attempt to re-introduce the band and their new song? ‘Ordinary World’ was leaked to a radio station in Jacksonville, Florida. The resulting popularity caused Capitol Records to move up the official release date to December of 1992 and January of 1993 in the U.K. There was definitely a buzz about, and Duran Duran rode the wave. ‘Ordinary World’ captured the imagination of millions of listeners. Like all the best songs, people related on different levels, but it is clear the message contained within Simon LeBon’s very personal lyrics, resonated deeply.

This story is exactly what has brought Ted Tocks Covers back to it today. Just like Simon LeBon said in a 2017 interview.

(The lyrics are about) trying to get over the death of a best friend. And putting it into words freed me, absolutely. It really worked for me emotionally and mentally. Everyone who heard it could apply it to something in their life, but for a different reason.”

Simon LeBon

For LeBon, it was all a journey to work through his grief. ‘Ordinary World’ is actually part two of a trilogy of songs where the artist was attempting to come to terms with the loss of his friend, David Miles. Sadly, LeBon never had the opportunity to say good-bye to his closest childhood friend. Miles died as a result of what has been determined to be an illegal drug cigarette. He was addicted to heroin. This sudden death occurred in 1987 while Duran Duran was working on their album ‘Big Thing’. In an effort to come to grips with his loss, LeBon wrote ‘DoYou Believe in Shame’. To some degree. LeBon felt guilty. He had contemplated calling his friend on that fateful evening. He has openly wondered if he had taken the time, perhaps he could have saved his friend’s life.

I’m not a big believer in the supernatural”, [but the song] “takes the form of a promise that there is always a home in my heart for whatever spirit there is of him.”

Simon LeBon

No one will ever know, but David Miles’ spirit lives on in ‘Do You Believe in Shame’.

Here is a passage of the lyrics. The writing was clearly therapeutic for LeBon.

I don’t think I ever can believe my friend is gone
Keep saying it’s all right, I’m gonna bring you back
But I know I’m wrong.
There’s nothing I can say
There’s nothing left to do
It’s just that lately I’ve been so damn lonely when
I think of you.
And it may seem selfish now but I’ll hold on to
The memory until all this fear is washed away.

Simon LeBon

So deeply personal.

It is the fact that he went on to share ‘Ordinary World’ as part two of this exploration that makes the story even more powerful. We move further into Simon LeBon’s psyche. He is working through his profound loss.

Came in from a rainy Thursday
On the avenue
Thought I heard you talking softly

I turned on the lights, the TV
And the radio
Still I can’t escape the ghost of you

What has happened to it all?
Crazy, some’d say
Where is the life that I recognize?
Gone away

But I won’t cry for yesterday
There’s an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive

Passion or coincidence
Once prompted you to say
“Pride will tear us both apart”
Well now pride’s gone out the window
Cross the rooftops
Run away
Left me in the vacuum of my heart

What is happening to me?
Crazy, some’d say
Where is my friend when I need you most?
Gone away

But I won’t cry for yesterday
There’s an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive

Papers in the roadside
Tell of suffering and greed
Here today, forgot tomorrow
Ooh, here besides the news
Of holy war and holy need
Ours is just a little sorrowed talk

And I don’t cry for yesterday
There’s an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive

Every one
Is my world, I will learn to survive
Any one
Is my world, I will learn to survive
Any one
Is my world
Every one
Is my world

Simon LeBon

One can only imagine how much these words have helped thousands of people deal with their own similar experience.

Here is part three in the form of ‘Out of My Mind’ in 1997.

It could be so sorry for the way it had to go
But now I feel your presence in a way I could not know
And I wonder do you ever feel the same
In whispering darkness do you ever hear my name

Got to get you out of my mind but I can’t escape from the feeling
As I try to leave the memory behind without you what’s left to believe in.”

Simon LeBon

The truth is, at any given time everyone is going through something. We would all do well to keep this in mind on a daily basis. Fortunately for all of us, through songs like ‘Ordinary World’ we can relate. This is just one more example of music being a gift to us all.

In addition to the powerful sentiment expressed in the trilogy that includes ‘Ordinary World’ is the personnel that worked together to bring today’s song to our ears. The keyboard arrangements were composed by Nick Rhodes and producer John Jones. The drum track is offered by the ever-solid Steve Ferrone, who would join Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers a short time later. The soaring guitar comes courtesy of Warren Cuccurullo who played with the legendary Frank Zappa from 1977 to 1980, before moving on to form and record with Missing Persons through a good portion of the ‘80s. He went on to record an instrumental version of ‘Ordinary World’ on his 1998 live album, ‘Roadrage’.

Watch as this presentation builds. This is amazing. If you enjoy quality guitar, this will be seven minutes well spent.

In 1996, Simon LeBon joined Luciano Pavarotti at the War Child concert. This emotional performance resulted. The blend of English and Italian delivers even more nuance to the powerful lyrics. Listen to the call and response portion. They manage to wring the maximum message out of every word contained in this heartfelt song.

This almost becomes a religious experience. It just drips with an operatic emotion. The orchestra manages to take it beyond comprehension.

It preaches togetherness.

Yet somehow, the amazing thing is, ‘Ordinary World’ wasn’t even the best performance that evening.

Speaking of vocal talents who have the ability to transcend art, listen to Adam Lambert and his 2003 cover of ‘Ordinary World’. You just want to reach out and hug him. Man, he is good. Adam doesn’t just sing, he channels spirits

In 2007, Paul Anka took a stab at covering ‘Ordinary World’ and this was the interesting result. This is clearly a personal interpretation. Anka is speaking to someone. You have to appreciate the sentiment here.

On a few occasions Ted Tocks Covers has offered the work of Fleesh while sharing the music of Rush. Here, this versatile Brazilian duo consisting of Gabby Vessoni and Celo Oliveira create a stirring tribute to Simon LeBon. They are joined by Mark Luljak on guitar.

This cover was also intriguing. Since her days as a part of the duo Civil Wars, Joy Williams has captivated me with her vocal prowess. This cover is no exception.

While listening to ‘Ordinary World’ on repeat it occurs to me that ‘Ordinary World’ is truly a song for everyone. Simon LeBon tapped into the public consciousness when he drew from his own personal loss. As I write, I continue to be astounded by these artists and their ability to use words to relate on such an extraordinary level.

Simon LeBon is reaching out to a ghost for guidance, but he refuses to cry for yesterday. He pledges to move on, as challenging as it may be. It is here that he speaks to human’s capacity to be resilient in the face of adversity. To varying degrees, we all weave in and out of this web. It’s an existential dance, and we play the role of actor on a cosmic stage.

We are all ordinary, and we have to make our way through an ordinary world. We strive to survive, and in the endless ebb and flow we hit the mark on occasion, and become extraordinary. This is a lofty goal.

Few achieve any semblance of greatness. Most do a superb job of navigating the daily process in a most efficient manner. In a sense, our consistency should be considered exemplary, or at the risk of repeating; extraordinary.

As I continue to listen to ‘Ordinary World’ I become increasingly inspired by LeBon’s defiance. He needs his friend, but the memories that remain will suffice.

It is at this point he expands the perspective of the song.

Papers in the roadside
Tell of suffering and greed
Here today, forgot tomorrow
Ooh, here besides the news
Of holy war and holy need
Ours is just a little sorrowed talk”

Simon LeBon

Thirty years later, things are really no different. Some would argue, it is infinitely worse. It is easy to become consumed by the suffering we are exposed to and the greed that prevails. These do exist as a plague on the human condition. While we make an effort to increase our awareness, and do our best to make the world a better place, we cannot wallow. It’s a fine line that exists somewhere in this resolution.

And I don’t cry for yesterday
There’s an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive”

Simon LeBon

Live for today. Don’t borrow trouble. The future will unfold and we will ride the wave. We just need to chart a course and navigate the road we are on with courage and conviction.

Stay true to yourself and never give up.

Truth be told, as I look back, 2022 was a disappointment of epic proportions. From a personal standpoint I made a giant leap in an effort to escape an unhappy situation, and I found myself in a web of endless lies and gross disappointment. As the year came to a conclusion, I have accepted a new role to which I feel better suited. Fortunately, I have been accepted with open arms. The rest is up to me.

As I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive”

Simon LeBon

Everyone who is reading this has a similar story, I am sure. We live in an ‘Ordinary World’. We are all different, but in so many ways, we are all the same.

Like Simon LeBon points out.

Any one
Is my world
Every one
Is my world”

Simon LeBon

So true.

Happy New Year from Ted Tocks Covers!