Friday, November 28, 2014

Was Kenny Rogers A Gambler?

Was Kenny Rogers A Gambler?
Kenny Rogers - The Gambler
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No I'm not speaking of gambling in the sense you might think of. But I think you could say that Kenny Rogers was a gambler with his career, since he went through several music genres before settling on country/pop. He's a favorite with fans around the world, with not all of them in the same musical demographic. Yet, even with all those hits and the stardom he's experienced, he's said to have told a BBC interviewer that The Gambler is his personal favorite of his many hits. Could it be because it reminds him of the days when he was "gambling" on making a musical career, and wondering which way to go?

The Gambler's Story

Story songs are always my favorites, and Kenny Rogers does them so well. In The Gambler he tells the story of an old time gambler giving the benefit of his experience to a young novice, as they're on a train "bound for nowhere." Before the song ends the old gambler dies in his sleep, leaving the young one with good advice, "in his final words I found an ace that I could keep," about "when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em." The song was so successful that it hit #1 in 1979 and remained there for a lengthy number of weeks, earning a Grammy for Song of the Year.

"The Gambler" Trivia

Country legend Johnny Cash also recorded "The Gambler," but Rogers' version was released first and is still the top recording of the song today.

Parts of the song have been used in numerous TV shows such as The Muppets, King of the Hill, the BBC series Blackpool, and The Office among others.

Lately Rogers sings it in a Geico commercial.

It's used as the official anthem in the Gunnery Trade of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets Program.

The song was used in 2010 in the series Supernatural.

Kenny Rogers A "Cross Over" Artist

Kenny Rogers has been in the music business since the 1960s and seems to reinvent himself each decade. Every year, there are new selections to choose from as he transcends boundaries, appealing to both pop and country music fans. Rogers was a "cross over" artist, before the term was invented. He recently put out a new album, and I've included it here. It's called "You Can't Make Old Friends."

Not Many Songs Can Boast of a Spin Off TV Show

The Gambler was such a huge musical hit, that it spun off a TV serial with the same name. Kenny Rogers stars as a professional gambler named Brady Hawkes who has various adventures. This show ran from 1980 to 1994, with five installments, each one featuring a different story built around The Gambler. There were also guest stars we had come to know through other series such as Gene Barry as Bat Masterson and Hugh O'Brien as Wyatt Earp. Reba McEntire, a popular country singer, also showed up in the 4th episode and made it even better.

Rogers list of hits is legendary. If you liked him country, you probably liked him doing pop, if you liked him doing pop, you probably liked him when he did jazz. He has a presence onstage that takes you into his hands and doesn't turn loose until the performance is over...and you find yourself wishing it wasn't. All that magnetism carries over into his recordings, a few of which I've listed below for your browsing pleasure.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Music Favorites of the 70s

1970s When Disco Was The Rage

Taking a trip back in time, let's remember some of the 70s hits that expressed our feelings, or in some cases, made us feel good. Time seemed infinite in those years, none of us ever thought we'd be older than 30...'cause after all, you couldn't trust anybody over 30! So we went our merry way, protesting whatever we felt strongly enough about to protest, and grooving to the music when we didn't. We wore big hair, platform shoes, bell bottom pants and not much in the way of skirts.

Hits of of the Year 1970

Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits

In the beginning of the 70s, we were "grooving" to a mix of pop and rock. Folk music from the 60s was gradually fading. So it's reasonable that someone would come up with a way to combine them....enter Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel ushering in the decade with a genre called "folk rock."
They were fellow New Yorkers and childhood schoolmates and began a collaboration that produced "Bridge Over Troubled Water," a song that was heard everywhere and the recording immediately became a best-seller. Even today, it is a standard song for many groups, because of its easy-going tune and meaningful lyrics. They went on to record many other hits during their partnership such as "I Am A Rock," and "Sounds of Silence."  Simon and Garfunkel introduced a new sound to the public, combining elements of folk and rock music. Their records were immediate hits, and they basked in the spotlight until their break up in 1970.

Other songs of the year were "American Woman," by The Guess Who, "Get Ready," by Rare Earth, "Band of Gold," by Freda Payne, and "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head," by B.J. Thomas.

1971 Issues and Music

The Best of Three Dog Night

In 1971, the nation was filled with highly debated issues; Native American rights, the Vietnam War and the lowering of the voting age to 18. Street demonstrations became a common occurrence, and people expressed their views more vehemently than ever. But when it came to music, we wanted it fun! Such was a catchy tune called "Joy to the World," by a group known as Three Dog Night. No, it wasn't the hymn you sang in church at Christmas! This "Joy" was about a bullfrog named Jeremiah who "always had some mighty fine wine" that he shared with his friends who were only too willing to drink it. Three Dog Night played music meant to be enjoyed from the first was rollicking, racy and fun. It was something the public needed at this time, and we asked for more and they gave it!

Other top songs of that year were "It's Too Late," by Carole King, "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart," by the Bee Gees, "Indian Reservation," by Mark Lindsey and the Raiders, and "One Bad Apple," by the Osmonds.

1972 - A Banner Year-For American Pie

American Pie Served Up Don McLean Style

 In 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment providing for equality of the sexes passed the U.S. Senate on the 22nd day of March. This was also the year Mark Spitz won a record breaking 7 gold medals in the Summer Olympics in Munich. We had feel good and feel blue music, and one of our favorites was a tribute to the three recording artists who died in a 1959 airplane crash. Don McLean's "American Pie" with its refrain of "Bye Bye Miss American Pie, Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry, And good ol' boys were drinking whiskey and rye, singing this will be the day that I die," remained number one on the charts for four weeks. It also set a record for being the longest running song to reach that spot, having a running time of 8.36 minutes. Some radio stations only ran one side of the double-sided single. For the music scene Don McClean's recording of American Pie became a musical icon, a mantra of sorts. It was easy to listen to and equally easy to sing along with. And we understood the meaning of, "the day the music died," since we'd lost three of our beloved musical stars in a tragic plane crash in 1959; Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper.

Other popular songs that year were "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," by Roberta Flack, "Alone Again Naturally," by Gilbert O'Sullivan, "Without You," by Harry Nilsson, and "The Candy Man," by Sammy Davis Jr.

1973 Marvin Gaye - Soul In Sound

Marvin Gaye -What's Going On?

In 1973 the troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, Secretariat became horse racing's first Triple Crown winner in 25 years, and the World Trade Center in New York became the tallest building in the world. Our music was rockin' along with our feelings about living and loving. Marvin Gaye came out with a sexy sound called "Let's Get It On" that influenced many subsequent R&B artists. The recording became the most commercially successful Motown album of Gaye's career and is regarded as a milestone in soul music. Marvin Gaye gave us soul and we loved it! From What's Going On? to Let's Get It On, he rocked our world. His fans and the music world mourned his tragic death on April 1, 1984, when he was mortally wounded by a shot fired by his father during a family altercation.

Other songs from that year include "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree," by Tony Orlando and Dawn, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," by Jim Croce, "Crocodile Rock," by Elton John, and "My Love," by Paul McCartney.

1974 Was A Challenge

 The Essential Barbra Streisand

In 1974 a speed limit of 55 miles per hour was imposed by the Federal Government to save gas usage. It was not uncommon to see long lines of cars waiting at a gas station, only to finally get close to the front of the line to hear, "Sorry, we're sold out." Sears Tower in Chicago became the world's tallest building. Our songs reflected nostalgia, and of course love and more love. Barbra Streisand's recording of "The Way We Were" from the movie of the same name won an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Song. The song made most of us yearn for the one lost love of our past.

Other songs from 1974 include "Come and Get Your Love," by Redbone, "Seasons in the Sun," by Terry Jacks, "Show and Tell," by Al Wilson, and "Love's Theme," an instrumental by the Love Unlimited Orchestra which was created and conducted by Barry White, the man with the sensual pillow talk voice.

We Reached A Milestone in 1975

Earth,Wind and Fire Greatest Hits

Bill Gates and Peter Allen created and registered the Microsoft trademark, and Motorola obtained a patent for the first portable mobile phone in 1975. Ex-Teamsters Boss Jimmy Hoffa disappeared never to be seen again and the 9.2% unemployment rate is officially recognized by President Gerald Ford as a recession. But the music rock 'n rolled on just the same.

An R&B funk band known as Earth Wind and Fire took the music scene by storm with "Shining Star." The song became an inspiration for many rising stars in the industry, not only because of their success with it, but also because the lyrics ran in part, "Shining Star for you to see, what your life can truly be." It became number one on both the Pop and R&B charts simultaneously.
More songs from 1975 included "Love Will Keep Us Together," by The Captain and Tennille, "Rhinestone Cowboy," by Glen Campbell, "Fame" by David Bowie, and "My Eyes Adored You," by Frankie Valli.

Controversial Lyrics in 1976

The Very Best of Rod Stewart

In 1976, more songs contained controversial lyrics. Rod Stewart's "Tonight's the Night," is a good example of this, with the seductive suggestion, "Loosen off that pretty french gown, let me pour you a good long drink, ohh baby, don't you hesitate!" Rod Stewart's girlfriend of the time, Britt Ekland, sang the French words at the end of the song. It stayed in the top 40 for many weeks.

Songs of that year include "Disco Lady," by Johnnie Taylor and the Muscle Shoals Band, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," by Elton John and Kiki Dee, "Play That Funky Music White Boy," by Wild Cherry, and "Kiss and Say Goodbye," by The Manhattans.

1977 and 1978 - Dominated By Brothers Gibbs

The Ultimate BeeGees 

Andy Gibb

The Bee Gees and their youngest brother Andy Gibb, dominated the charts in the years of 1977 and 1978. The song Andy Gibb hit the top 40 charts with in 1977 was "I Just Want to Be Your Everything," and was written by brother Barry Gibb of the BeeGees. Andy also recorded "Love Is Thicker Than Water," (co-written by Barry and Andy), and "An Everlasting Love," "Our Love Don't Throw It All Away," which sometimes traded top spots on the charts back and forth with his brothers' recordings of "Night Fever," "Stayin' Alive," and "If I Can't Have You."

Other songs from the year 1977 include "You Light up My Life," by Debbie Boone, "Evergreen," by Barbra Streisand, "Dancing Queen," by ABBA, and "Torn Between Two Lovers," by Mary MacGregor.
Songs from 1978 included "Shadow Dancing," by Andy Gibb, "Stayin' Alive," by the Bee Gees, "If I Can't Have You," by the Bee Gees, and "Three Times A Lady," by the Commodores.

Music from 1979

The Best of Gloria Gaynor

In 1979, the end of the decade, Gloria Gaynor 'put it out there for us girls' with her hit, "I Will Survive," with lyrics showing the strength she found within herself after a breakup. The song became an anthem for feminine empowerment, gay civil rights and HIV/AIDS survivors. The song took a Grammy award for Best Disco Recording in 1980, the only year the award was given.

Other songs of that year include "Too Much Heaven," by the Bee Gees, "Bad Girls," by Donna Summer, "Reunited," by Peaches and Herb, and the perennial favorite at large drinking parties, "YMCA," by the Village People.

So there you have it, a rundown of events and top songs of the 1970s, a decade those of us who lived it, will never forget.