Holy 500!

I was notified by Word Press that this blog hit a milestone!! Had I been paying attention, I would have made Blog #500 something a bit more special. Instead, my last blog (#500) was about how tired I am!

Reflecting

As I sat down to write Blog #501, I thought on how far this blog has come. I never started this blog to gain hundreds of followers, however, I have. Originally, I started the blog as a way to write down my feelings and thoughts as I went through some troubling times. Then I thought it would be a good place to write some memories down so my kids could look back and read them. It has evolved into a place where I can write about personal things, and not so personal things.

I am glad that the details of how my wife and I came to be together are here. I am also glad that I have detailed blogs about the the birth of my son and daughter. There are also many memories of my mom, so that my kids who never had the chance to meet her, will be able to read about her. I hope that they will be able to come here to read about the special people in my life – my wife, my kids, my parents, my grandparents, my teachers, my co-workers and mentors, and my friends.

It’s also fun to look back at the special “events” I took part in. Recently, I took part in a song draft, which allowed me to feature 10 great songs. There was a bit more pressure than just picking a song and writing about it. It was hard to pick just 10! Blogging about TV shows and movies as part of blogathons has been fun, as well. I’m looking forward to a TV show draft, similar to the song draft, coming soon.

What Have I Learned?

So, just what have I learned after 500 blogs?

1. It’s not easy!

I read somewhere that most people who start a blog quit writing after a month. I am glad that I have continued to write, although finding stuff to write about is not always easy. There are many days where I sit and have nothing to write about. In those moments, I turn to Daily Writing Prompts. Sometimes they will be helpful, but many of them are worthless.

Some days are easier than others. Many times a song will bring about a memory I can share. Other times a conversation will spawn something worth writing about. My kids are a constant source of writing material and funny stories and for that I am grateful. I love bragging about them.

The key for me is to just keep writing. I plan to do just that.

2. I’ve met some really cool friends

When I created my blog, I started to search for blogs about music and movies. I started following some of them and by doing so, found there many people who share similar likes with me. I began to comment on their posts and they commented on mine. By doing so, I have really gained some neat friendships with people I have never seen face to face. I’m thankful for each of them

3. I often wonder if I make a difference

I guess I hope that someone who goes through my blog will find an occasional “nugget” that they can use in their daily life. It’s not easy to put your life out on the internet for everyone to see, but if someone can learn something from the challenges I faced and the issues I worked through, I will be happy with that.

More recently, I have blogged a little bit more about my faith. I was always told to not discuss religion and politics. I follow a few blogs who share my beliefs and I appreciate them. I know that not everyone is going to share my beliefs and that is ok. That being said, I am also not going to be afraid to post more about it and am always happy to discuss it with others.

4. I really enjoy blogging

I’m not sure I could ever be a reporter or a writer where there were deadlines for articles. I enjoy sitting and writing about my passions, my experiences, my family, and my life. I love being able to write down things that I can go back and reread and relive those moments.

I have put quite a bit of time into this blog, and don’t make a dime off it (Although, I hear that there are many bloggers who DO make money off theirs)! It has never been about making money. It has never been about having a blog republished. It has never been about having millions of followers. This blog is my little spot on the internet to save my thoughts and share them.

How about your feedback?

What do you like best about this blog? What would you like to see more of? Would you ever consider being a guest blogger on my site? Tell me your thoughts. I appreciate you being here and reading my blog and hope to keep posting things you find interesting.

So what is next? 500+ plus blogs I hope and I am excited to continue sharing “me” with you!

Song Draft 2021 – Round 10 – Final Pick – Superstition – Stevie Wonder

We have reached the final round of the 2021 Song Draft hosted by Hanspostcard. I want to thank Hans for allowing me to be a part of it, and also thank the other participants who welcomed me into the draft. I have truly enjoyed being a part of this!

Prior to the draft, I made a list of possible song choices. As the draft continued, each round I would look at my list (and at the songs picked by the others) and decide which one would be my next choice. Some of the picks were easy, while others were more difficult. A few of them were spur of the moment picks that weren’t on the original list.

As I looked at that list in preparation for my last pick, I see many artists that I’d love to have featured: Aretha Franklin, The Honeydrippers, Big Joe Turner, Bob Seger, The Go-Go’s, Bill Withers, Johnny Lang, Queen, Buster Brown, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Buddy Guy, Neil Diamond, Mel Torme’ and so many more! I stared at my list for a long time and thought about it. Since I began the draft with a Michigan artist, I should wrap up with a Michigan artist. So my final pick for the draft is – Superstition by Stevie Wonder.

Stevie was born a little over 100 miles north of Detroit in Saginaw, Michigan in 1950. He would forever be associated with Detroit and Motown records. In a 1990 Detroit appearance at Tiger Stadium, Nelson Mandella said, “It is motor town that gave the world a great singer – Steve Wonder!”

In 1963, when he was known as “Little” Stevie Wonder, he had his first #1 song with a cut called Fingertips Part 2. Personally, I could never stand that song. It was in a heavy rotation at the first radio station I worked at, and I found it annoying. It would be 10 years before he received his next #1 song – Superstition.

The song was released on his fifteenth studio album, Talking Book.

Guitarist Jeff Beck was a fan of Stevie’s music and Stevie heard about this just before recording the Talking Book sessions. Though at this point he was playing virtually all of the instruments on his songs by himself, Stevie preferred to let other guitarists play on his records, and he liked the idea of a collaboration with Beck. An agreement was quickly made for Beck to become involved in the sessions that became the Talking Book album, in return for Wonder writing him a song.

According to legend, between the album sessions, Beck came up with the opening drum beat. Stevie told Jeff to keep playing while he improvised over the top of it. He improvised most of the song, including the funky riff. They wound up creating a rough demo of the song that day.

After finishing the song, Wonder decided that he would allow Beck to record “Superstition” as part of their agreement. Originally, the plan was for Beck to release his version of the song first, with his newly formed power trio Beck, Bogert, and Appice. Their album’s release, however, was delayed.

From Songfacts.com: When Stevie turned 21, he was no longer obligated to Motown Records, and used his clout to sign a deal with the label giving him unprecedented control of his music. He got a large share of royalties and publishing rights, and Motown was not allowed to alter the albums once they were delivered. One thing Motown did control, however, were what songs they released as singles. Knowing Jeff Beck was about to record his version, Motown head Berry Gordy made sure this was the first single and released it before Beck could get his out.

This was recorded at Electric Lady Studios, which is where Jimi Hendrix recorded. The studios stayed active after Hendrix’ death, with artists like Miles Davis and Deep Purple also recording there.

At the time, Wonder would keep the studio booked so he could record when inspiration hit. Stevie’s bass player at the time, Scott Edwards, told Songfacts this was not always convenient for his band. “Because he does not have sight, he’s not controlled by daylight,” said Edwards. “So he may begin his night at midnight. Which is bad, because if they want you to come do an overdub or something, he may call you at 4 a.m. and say, ‘Come on in.'”

I always loved the funky feel of this song, and I always played it when I was DJing Halloween parties.

Aside of Jeff Beck’s version, many others have covered this song. None made much of an impact until Stevie Ray Vaughan released a live version as a single in 1986 on his album Live Alive. His version still gets radio airplay today on many Classic Rock stations.

In 1974, the song earned Stevie his first Grammy Award.

Superstition – Lyrics

Very superstitious,
Writing’s on the wall,
Very superstitious,
Ladders bout’ to fall,
Thirteen month old baby,
Broke the lookin’ glass
Seven years of bad luck,
The good things in your past

When you believe in things
That you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition aint the way

Hey

Very superstitious,
Wash your face and hands,
Rid me of the problem,
Do all that you can,
Keep me in a daydream,
Keep me goin’ strong,
You don’t wanna save me,
Sad is the soul

When you believe in things
That you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way,
Yeh, yeh

Very superstitious,
Nothin’ more to say,
Very superstitious,
The devil’s on his way,
Thirteen month old baby,
Broke the lookin’ glass,
Seven years of bad luck,
Good things in your past

When you believe in things
That you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way,
No, no, no

As a bonus – here is the official video of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s cover….watch for a cool cameo at the end ….

Song Draft 2021 – Pick 7 – Love Runs Out

We are in the 7th round of the 2021 Song Draft and I’m throwing a curveball at you this round. If you’ve been following my choices up until now, they are all what many would consider to be “oldies.” Almost all of them have a local (Michigan/Detroit) link to them. For this round, I have chosen a song from recent years that I thought should have been a bigger hit than it was – Love Runs Out by OneRepublic.

If I am being honest with you, I rarely listen to new music. As a matter of fact, I hate most of it. However, while working at the Adult Contemporary station in town, I got to hear many of the current hits at the time. It is interesting to note that even when I was DJing high school dances or proms, much of the music that was being requested was heavy rap or songs that were inappropriate for school dances! I always had the “Mainstream Radio” hits available (clean versions), but the kids always wanted to hear that other stuff.

OneRepublic was formed in Colorado and is one of those cool success stories. The group consists of Ryan Tedder, Zach Filkins, Drew Brown, Brent Kutzel, Eddie Fisher, and Brian Willett. Ryan and Zach went to high school together in Colorado Springs in 1996. They went to separate colleges and eventually reconnected in 2002 and formed the band with some friends.

Back in the day they had a MySpace (remember that?!) page that featured their music. This led to them to play many shows in the Los Angeles area. Eventually, after many labels approaching them, they landed a record deal. They were dropped by their label just a couple months before their first single “Apologize” was released. In 2007, Timbaland remixed it and released the single, which became a number one song in 16 countries!

In 2013, the group released their 3rd album, Native. Love Runs Out was not even on the album until it was reissued in 2014. Ryan Tedder in an interview said,  “We have a new single that’s not even on the album that’s about to drop. I can’t quote the date.” He says, “I wanted [“Love Runs Out”] to be the first single, a few of us in the band did, but I could not finish the chorus. And you can’t have a song without a chorus.” Approximately a year later, they had a chorus. The group appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and explained how it all came together:

The first time I heard the song, the driving bass drum caught my attention. Then you have this piano playing the same note over and over. It kept building and I was literally listening to see what would happen next. Ryan Tedder’s vocal is fantastic in this song. It’s almost like two people are singing it. You hear the “softer” Ryan on the verses and then he takes it up a notch on the chorus! His voice cuts through this song and I love it!

The song peaked at #15 on the Hot 100 chart, but I really felt like this was a number 1 song. It should have been.

In the official video, I believe the woman at the piano is Ryan’s mom!

Love Runs Out

I’ll be your light, your match, your burning sun
I’ll be the bright in black that’s makin’ you run
And we’ll feel alright, and we’ll feel alright
‘Cause we’ll work it out, yeah, we’ll work it out
I’ll be doin’ this, if you have a doubt
‘Til the love runs out, ’til the love runs out

I’ll be your ghost, your game, your stadium
I’ll be your fifty-thousand clapping like one
And I feel alright, and I feel alright
‘Cause I worked it out, yeah, I worked it out
I’ll be doin’ this, if you have a doubt
‘Til the love runs out, ’til the love runs out

Chorus:

I got my mind made up, man, I can’t let go
I’m killing every second ’til it sees my soul
Oh, I’ll be running, oh, I’ll be running
‘Til the love runs out, ’til the love runs out
And we’ll start a fire, and we’ll shut it down
‘Til the love runs out, ’til the love runs out

There’s a maniac out in front of me
Got an angel on my shoulder, and Mestopheles
But mama raised me good, mama raised me right
Mama said, “Do what you want, say prayers at night”
And I’m saying them ’cause I’m so devout
‘Til the love runs out, ’til the love runs out, yeah

Chorus:

I got my mind made up, man, I can’t let go
I’m killing every second ’til it sees my soul
Oh, I’ll be running, oh, I’ll be running
‘Til the love runs out, ’til the love runs out
And we’ll start a fire, and we’ll shut it down
‘Til the love runs out, ’til the love runs out

Bridge:

Oh, we all want the same thing
Oh, we all run for something
Run for God, for fate, for love, for hate
For gold and rust, for diamonds and dust

I’ll be your light, your match, your burning sun
I’ll be the bright in black that’s makin’ you run

Chorus:

I got my mind made up, man, I can’t let go
I’m killing every second ’til it sees my soul
Oh, I’ll be running, oh, I’ll be running
‘Til the love runs out, ’til the love runs out
And we’ll start a fire, and we’ll shut it down
‘Til the love runs out, ’til the love runs out

I’ll be your light, your match, your burning sun
I’ll be the bright in black that’s makin’ you run
And we’ll feel alright, and we’ll feel alright
‘Cause we’ll work it out, yes, we’ll work it out
And we’ll start a fire, and we’ll shut it down
‘Til the love runs out, ’til the love runs out
‘Til the love runs out

Song Draft 2021 – Pick 5 – I Heard It Through the Grapevine

As the Song Draft continues, we have come to my fifth pick. I have noticed that I have primarily leaned very “local”. In all honesty, I don’t think I did this intentionally. I have featured songs from my home state of Michigan, and primarily from the Detroit area. I would be remiss if I did not include a song from the Motown Label.

I thought long and hard about just which song to pick. As I looked through the LONG list of Motown groups, I saw The Four Tops, The Supremes, The Temptations, Edwin Starr, Marvin Gaye, The Marvelettes, Diana Ross, The Jackson 5, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Isley Brothers, Mary Wells, Tammi Terrell, The Spinners and more! There were so many artists to chose from.

Now look at that list of artists again, and imagine the list of songs associated with them! The amount of hits (and non hits) produced out of Motown are plenty. However, as I looked through the list of songs, there was one stand out. I dare say that the song is THE BEST of all of the Motown songs. That song, and my fifth pick for the 2021 Song Draft, is I Heard It Through the Grapevine.

The song was written by another Motown artist, Barrett Strong.

Barrett is famous for his song Money (which was once covered by the Beatles) and for writing other songs like Papa Was a Rolling Stone. He got the idea for the song when he was living in Chicago and heard lots of people using the phrase “I heard it through the grapevine.” Barrett said, “Nobody wrote a song about it, so I sat at a piano and came up with the bass line.” 

From Song Facts:

The classic about a man who finds out his woman is cheating on him was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. Strong came up with the idea and asked Motown writers Holland-Dozier-Holland to work on it with him. They refused to credit another writer, so Strong took it to Whitfield, who helped put it together. The song eventually became a Motown classic, but it had a rough start, as executives at the company thought it was too bluesy and lacked hit potential.

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles were the first to record the song, but their version wasn’t released until years later on an album called Special Occasion. The Isley Brothers then took a crack at it, but their version wasn’t released. Whitfield and Strong then had Marvin Gaye record the song but still no luck: Motown head Berry Gordy chose Holland-Dozier-Holland’s “Your Unchanging Love” over “Grapevine” as his next single. Finally, a new Motown act Gladys Knight and the Pips recorded the song as a gospel rocker. Their version was a hit, entering the Top 40 in November 1967 and going to #2 in America.

Marvin Gaye’s version was included on his 1968 album In The Groove (later re-titled I Heard It Through The Grapevine). After E. Rodney Jones, the Chicago disc jockey at WVON, started playing it on the air, Berry Gordy reconsidered and released Gaye’s version as a single, which became even more popular and known as the definitive version of the song. Gaye’s “Grapevine” pounded the charts about a year after Knight’s, going to #1 in America on December 14, 1968.

On the Motown Box Set, Gladys Knight’s version and Marvin’s version are included. If I had to chose which version I like more, I’d lean more Marvin. However, that being said, Gladys version is really cool too. Hers has a more uptempo feel to it, the bass line (played by James Jamerson in both versions) is extra funky and I love to listen to the drum work in it. Check it out here:

Then you get to Marvin’s version. Slower, groovier, and perfect.

What makes Marvin’s so special? According to Song Facts: Marvin Gaye wrung out the emotion in the song thanks to Norman Whitfield, who produced the track and gave him very specific instructions. Whitfield had Gaye sing slightly higher than his normal range, which created the strained vocal, and he made him do it over and over until he got it right. Gaye explained to NME: “I simply took direction, as I felt the direction he was expounding was a proper one. Had I done it myself I would not have sung it at all like that, but y’see there are many benefits in just singing other people’s material and taking directions. The job of interpreting is quite an important one, because when people are not able to express what is in their souls if there is an artist who can… then I think that is very valuable.”

With that in mind, one of the most amazing videos on YouTube is this version of Grapevine where Marvin’s vocal is isolated. I still get chills listening to the perfection in his voice.

WOW! Just WOW!!

Heard It Through The Grapevine – Lyrics

Ooh-ooh, bet you’re wond’ring how I knew
‘Bout your plans to make me blue
With some other guy that you knew before
Between the two of us guys, you know I love you more

It took me by surprise I must say
When I found out yesterday

Ooh-ooh I heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Ooh-ooh I heard it through the grapevine
And I’m just about to lose my mind
Honey honey yeah

You know that a man ain’t supposed to cry
But these tears I can’t, hold inside
Losin’ you would end my life you see
‘Cause you mean that much to me

You could have told me yourself
That you found someone else

Instead I heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Ooh-ooh I heard it through the grapevine
And I’m just about to lose my mind
Honey honey yeah

People say you have from what you see
And not not not from what you hear
I can’t help, bein’ confused
If it’s true, won’t you tell me dear

Do you plan to let me go
For the other guy that you knew before

Ooh-ooh I heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Ooh-ooh I heard it through the grapevine
And I’m just about to lose my mind
Honey honey yeah

Ooh-ooh I heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Ooh-ooh I heard it through the grapevine
And I’m just about to lose my mind

Ooh-ooh I heard it through the grapevine

Song Draft 2021 – Round 3- Look At Little Sister – Hank Ballard/Stevie Ray Vaughn

Welcome to Round Three of the 2021 Song Draft hosted by Hanspostcard. It has been fun for me to pick and share my songs, but even cooler to check out the picks of the other participants.

As I compiled my list of songs to pick from, I had Hank Ballard and Stevie Ray Vaughn on the list with two separate songs. Then, I had some music playing on YouTube at work and changed my Stevie Ray song to this one – just so I could share the video. More on that in a minute.

There are some songs that you can search and find pages and pages of notes and stories about. However, there really wasn’t a whole lot about this song. I removed Stevie’s name from the search and just searched “Look at Little Sister. All of a sudden, there was Hank Ballard.

Hank was born in Detroit in 1927. In 1953, he joined the Doo Wop group, the Royals. Because of the group The Five Royales, the group changed their name to The Midnighters. In 1954, Hank wrote “Work With Me Annie” which was a number one R&B song for 7 weeks. In 1959, he wrote and recorded “The Twist,” which became Chubby Checker’s signature song. In 1960 he had two top 10 records with “Finger Poppin’ Time” and my original Hank song draft pick “Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go.”

In a concert clip of Hank singing “Look At Little Sister” he says he wrote the song in 1959 after watching his little sister out in the back yard dancing around. Whether or not that was true, or whether it was just a clever way to intro the song at the show, I didn’t know. I am friends with Hank’s son, Daryle, on Facebook (He is a singer, too) so I reached out to him and asked. He confirmed to me that his dad told him that his sister was indeed the inspiration for the song. I had no idea that the song was originally done (and written) by Hank. I had to find it. After listening to it, I was blown away. It sounds fantastic! It has that early Rock and Roll/R&B/Rockabilly feel to it.

Hank was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Look At Little Sister –

Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey mama look at little sis
Out in the backyard….shakin’ like this
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey….look at little sister
Hey hey hey hey….look at little sister

What about the neighbors….what they gonna say
Stop little sister….gettin’ carried away
Hey hey hey….look at little sister
Hey hey hey hey….look at little sister

Shakin’ like a tree….rollin’ like a log
Shakin’ and a rollin’ now….that ain’t all
Hey hey hey….look at little sister
Hey hey hey hey….look at little sister

(Guitar solo)

Shakin’ like a tree….rollin’ like a log
Shakin’ and a rollin’ now….that ain’t all
Hey hey hey….look at little sister
Hey hey hey hey….look at little sister

What about the neighbors….what they gonna say
Stop little sister….gettin’ carried away
Hey hey hey….look at little sister
Hey hey hey hey….look at little sister

What about Stevie’s version??

Stevie Ray Vaughn released Look at Little Sister on his third album Soul to Soul in 1985. I gained a better appreciation for Stevie Ray’s music long after he had passed away. All I really had heard was “Pride and Joy” and “The Sky Is Crying” prior to that. The more I listened to it, the more I appreciated his vocals, and of course, his guitar playing. Which brings me to the video I wanted to share.

It was a toss up between a few of Stevie’s songs for this song draft, but then I saw a video of him doing Look at Little Sister live. What is so special about it? In my opinion, the video of this particular performance shows what an amazing talent he was. During the second half of his guitar solo, at around the 2:35 mark, he breaks a guitar string. Now if you just listen to it without watching it, you have no idea it broke. The solo is flawless. Watching it, you realize that he just improvises the rest of the solo around the strings he has left. I can watch this video over and over again and am amazed at how he never flinches.

What makes the video even cooler, is that his crew knows his string is broke. He looks at them mid-solo, after the solo, the crew brings him another guitar, Stevie keeps singing while the new guitar is handed to him, and without missing a beat, he is back to playing when he’s supposed to. It truly is an fascinating thing to watch.

Check it out:

Stevie Ray Vaughn was killed in a helicopter crash in 1990, the same year Hank Ballard was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Stevie Ray would be posthumously inducted in 2015.

Don’t ask me to pick one or the other as my favorite – I can’t. To me, that is what makes a great song. Here is the same song, recorded two and a half decades apart. Each version having a similar, yet different feel to it. Yet, they both stand alone as fantastic tracks.

So, did I cheat and actually make this about TWO songs instead of one? No. I draft one great song – but feature two different versions! I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do!

Song Draft – Pick #2 – East Bound and Down – Jerry Reed

Welcome to Round #2 of the 2021 Song Draft hosted by Hans and Slice the Life. Round #1 was full of great songs from different eras and genres. I have really enjoyed reading the posts from the other participants.

My first pick was kind of obscure, so for pick #2, I chose something that many will be familiar with. If I am being honest, it’s a guilty pleasure for me. It is one that always has me singing along with. My second pick is East Bound and Down from Jerry Reed.

Jerry Reed Hubbard

Jerry Reed Hubbard was born in Atlanta, Georgia on March 20, 1937. By the time he was in high school he was writing songs and singing them. At 18 years old, he was signed to a record deal at Capitol Records by publisher and record producer Bill Lowery. He was being promoted as a “teen sensation” after recording some rockabilly songs in 1956. His label mate, Gene Vincent helped him get some notoriety as a song writer when he recorded Jerry’s song “Crazy Legs” in 1958.

In 1967, he reached #57 on the country charts with “Guitar Man,” which Elvis Presley recorded (and I have blogged about here: https://nostalgicitalian.com/2019/09/10/tune-tuesday-guitar-man/ ). In the 70’s he had hits with “Amos Moses,” and “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot.” He continued to record throughout the 70’s and also began to act with his buddy, Burt Reynolds. Films included WW and the Dixie Dancekings, and Gator. Then came 1977 ….

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Movie Music

Jerry Reed played Burt Reynolds sidekick, Snowman, in the 1977 movie Smokey and the Bandit. I had the chance to interview Jerry a few years before he passed away. One of the things we talked about what the movie and, of course, the music for the movie. The story behind the song, as Jerry told me, goes like this:

Hal Needham, the director of Smokey & the Bandit, told Jerry “We need a song for the movie.” Jerry said he was driving home that night and thinking. He said he started singing, “East Bound and Down. Loaded up and trucking…” He said he had the entire chorus of the song in his head by the time he got home. He said he called Dick Feller, a producer at his publishing company and said “Here’s the chorus (and he sang it to him. Write me two quick verses to go with it.” Within two hours, Feller had them done.

Jerry grabbed his tape recorder and then made a demo of the song to play for Needham. He said Needham loved the song and wanted the tape so he could use it in the film. Jerry told him, “That’s just the demo! You can’t use that in the film. I gotta go into the studio and cut it.”

Jerry also cut “West Bound and Down” for the film. It is the song that plays as Snowman and Bandit begin their trek, and it basically the same song with a few lines/words changed.

The song was released on August 1, 1977 and spent 16 weeks on the charts. It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. Featured on background vocals is Gordon Stoker of Elvis’ back up group, The Jordanaires.

There have been many cover versions of the song including covers by Tonic, The Road Hammers, Supersuckers, Aaron Tippin, Dave Dudley, and Midland. None of them quite capture the “feel” of the original.

East Bound and Down

East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’
We gonna do what they say can’t be done
We’ve got a long way to go, and a short time to get there
I’m east bound, just watch ol’ “Bandit” run

Keep your foot hard on the pedal
Son, never mind them brakes
Let it all hang out ’cause we got a run to make
The boys are thirsty in Atlanta
And there’s beer in Texarkana
And we’ll bring it back no matter what it takes

East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’
We gonna do what they say can’t be done
We’ve got a long way to go, and a short time to get there
I’m east bound, just watch ol’ “Bandit” run

East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’
We gonna do what they say can’t be done
We’ve got a long way to go, and a short time to get there
I’m east bound, just watch ol’ “Bandit” run

Ol’ Smokey’s got them ears on
He’s hot on your trail
And he ain’t gonna rest ’til you’re in jail
So you got to dodge ’em and you got to duck ’em
You got to keep that diesel truckin’
Just put that hammer down and give it hell

East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’
We gonna do what they say can’t be done
We’ve got a long way to go, and a short time to get there
I’m east bound, just watch ol’ “Bandit” run

For comparison, here is West Bound and Down. Note the different musical arrangement. I like the addition of the strings and brass to this version.

Song Draft – Pick #1 – Mind Over Matter – Nolan Strong and the Diablos

This blog is part of the 2021 Song Draft hosted by Hanspostcard…. I have followed his blog, for some time and he always posts some great musical and movie stuff! His blog can be found here:

https://slicethelife.com/author/hanspostcard/

I’d like to thank Hans for allowing me to participate in the song draft (and Max for asking if I’d be interested).

In preparation for the draft, I went through years worth of Billboard charts, scanned my entire DJ library, and listened to all of the songs on my iPod (more than once). After going through a list of songs, I came up with my list. I have a few extras picked, just in case one of the other drafters pick one of mine.

My first draft choice is probably a song that many have never heard. I was born and raised in the Detroit area, and worked on the radio in Detroit for 10 years. Because of this, I decided to find a song that is not only a favorite, but showcases my hometown. The song is not a Motown song, but there certainly is a Motown connection to it that I hope you will find interesting.

When I first started at the radio station in 1988, my dad gave me a list of songs to put on cassette for him. They were almost all songs from his childhood that he couldn’t find in stores. While at the station, I searched for many of the songs on the list and heard them for the first time as I recorded them for my dad. The first song on the list was “Mind Over Matter” by Nolan Strong.

The Diablos with lead singer Nolan Strong was one of Detroit’s most successful early vocal groups. The group’s classic 1954 recording of “The Wind” would have probably been a national R&B hit were it not for spotty distribution by the tiny Fortune record label.

According to author David A. Carson, “In 1962 Fortune owner Devora Brown wrote a song expressly for Nolan Strong. Although only his name appeared on the label, the Diablos backed him up. ‘Mind Over Matter’ was an irresistible midtempo dance record full of sudden stops, starts, and vocal acrobatics, as Nolan sang about putting a hex on his girl to win her love.”

“Mind Over Matter” quickly shot to # 1 on the Detroit charts. Sheldon Brown, Devora’s son, remembered that Motown’s Berry Gordy was not pleased with Fortune suddenly having a # 1 record in his backyard. The story goes like this:

It’s early in the evening one day towards the end of September, 1962. The Temptations fourth single, “Paradise,” is being pressed up (along with a bunch of other new Motown records), ready for signing over to the distributors. The Motown rep who periodically comes to the pressing plant to check the print run notices stacks and stacks of boxes piled up in the corner, all full of seven inch singles.

The rep casually enquiring as to what’s going on, he’s informed that those boxes contain the complete inventory of the latest Fortune Records single, “Mind Over Matter” by Nolan Strong and the Diablos. The record was officially meant to have been released by now. It’s been getting some radio play, and indications across Detroit are that it’s going to be big. (For sure, the rep notes to himself, Berry Gordy Jr has remarked loudly and often how much he liked the record, and how he’d previously tried to sign Nolan Strong to Motown, with no success.) But some sort of organizational screw-up has meant that the distributors haven’t been able to get them out yet, so there they all are, still sitting in their boxes, still waiting to be taken away.

The Motown rep nods, makes his excuses, hurries out to a payphone and gets Berry Gordy on the line. Urgent, he says. Fortune Records has dropped the ball, he explains. The Nolan Strong record’s on the radio, but it’s not in the shops. Nobody can actually buy a copy. The rep doesn’t need to explain any further. Berry gets the point. Berry hangs up without a word. He’s got some calls of his own to make.

Gordy calls A&R. He calls the studio. He calls producer Clarence Paul. Got a top priority mission for you. Drop everything else you’re doing right now. Don’t care what group you cut it on. Just get me the damn record as soon as possible.

Within five days, Motown has its own cover version of Mind Over Matter recorded, pressed and in stores. That, in itself, it pretty amazing! What a turn around!!

A clip from the local paper shows how Motown tried to really capitalize on the fact that Nolan Strongs version was unavailable:

The story wouldn’t have a happy ending for Motown, as someone at Fortune got wind of the ploy and made sure the Nolan Strong record found its way into local stores, where – backed with Fortune’s undivided attention – it promptly flew off the shelves and became a regional chart-topper, squashing Motown’s competing version before it had had a chance to get started. But it’s illustrative of just how much could be achieved if Berry Gordy wanted it to happen badly enough.

The group Clarence Paul wound up recording Mind Over Matter were the Temptations, who (as noted above) already had a new single lined up; their record was due out on October 1st, and there was no point having two Temptations records out at once battling each other’s sales and damaging the group’s image. The quickly-recorded cover thus went out under an adopted name; enter “the Pirates”.

(The Gracenote CD database, and thus much of the Internet, insists that this group is actually white British novelty rockers Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, but that’s a bad mistake; these are the Temptations, under a stupid name, with Eddie Kendricks on lead).

Some people like the Temptations version better, however, there is something magical to the Nolan Strong version for me. Maybe it is the simplicity of it. I feel like his vocal is more solid than the Temps. Of course, maybe it is just because I never even knew that another version existed until a few years ago.

I’m not saying that the Temps version was bad, because it isn’t. Berry Gordy was an astute judge alright – and it came out as a decent single with a strong, driving groove, only to be denied a chart hit by the circumstances in which it came to be made. One cannot dent that the song is an important early record by one of Motown’s most important groups nonetheless.

As mentioned above, “Mind Over Matter” by Nolan Strong reached #1 locally around Detroit, but only made it to #112 nationally on Billboard. One of my favorite songs of all time!

According to author David A. Carson, “In 1962 Fortune owner Devora Brown wrote a song expressly for Nolan Strong. Although only his name appeared on the label, the Diablos backed him up. ‘Mind Over Matter’ was an irresistible midtempo dance record full of sudden stops, starts, and vocal acrobatics, as Nolan sang about putting a hex on his girl to win her love.”

“Mind Over Matter” quickly shot to # 1 on the Detroit charts. Sheldon Brown, Devora’s son, remembered that Berry Gordy was not pleased with Fortune suddenly having a # 1 record in his backyard. “Berry Gordy thought it was such a great record that he took the guys in the Temptations and they recorded a version of ‘Mind Over Matter’ as the Pirates for Motown, but Nolan Strong had the bigger hit.”

Mind Over Matter – Nolan Strong and the Diablos

My mind is made up ’cause you’re so cold
I want your love to have and to hold
I’ll have your love cause you are so fine
Mind over matter, gonna make you mine


And I believe that someone wants someone bad enough
The way I want you for you’re the one that I love
I’ll command all my powers to make you fall in line
Mind over matter, gonna make you mine

[Chorus]
I’ll put a spell on you, put a hex on you
I’ll make you love me too and I’ll be so nice to you
You have to fall ’cause I’ll be so dog gone kind
Mind over matter, gonna make you mine

(Instrumental Break)

I’ll put a spell on you, I’ll put a hex on you
I’ll make you love me too and I’ll be so nice to you
You have to fall ’cause I’ll be so dog gone kind
Mind over matter, gonna make you mine

Oh baby, so nice, ohh, you gotta be mine
Oh baby (fade out)

___

Here is the Temptations version, since it played so prominently in the story:

Thanks for reading – and listening!

A Quiet Fourth & Song Draft Update

How life has changed in only a couple of years! Every 4th of July, our town puts on a fireworks show that is literally in our back yard. We usually have a big back yard BBQ, bonfire, and invite everyone over to watch the fireworks. Last year, the show was cancelled because of Covid. This year, Sam’s family was up at their cottage, my boys were at their cousin’s house, and it was just Sam, Ella and me at home.

Last year, we got some really awesome pictures of Ella in her 4th of July outfit and we made sure to take some again this year. She’s obviously a whole lot busier, but we still got some great shots. The one that was more candid than any of them also got the most “likes” on Facebook. She was literally walking down the sidewalk when I snapped this one:

Sam’s grandma (and Ella’s great grandma) is in her 90’s. We decided to go and visit her in the afternoon. It’s always fun to watch Ella in a new environment. Despite the fact that we brought a huge bag of toys, books, and such for her, she still seems to find things to get into. Her grandma had a 500 or 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle that she is working on in her living room. It’s up on a table, but you know that Ella walked right over to it! I was waiting for her to just get one hand on it to pull it all down. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

When we arrived back at home, we made dinner and relaxed. Our plan had been to put Ella down for bed and then head outside to do a bonfire and watch the fireworks. Either Sam and I are getting old, or we are just exhausted, because Ella was in bed around 8:30 and we were both dozing on the couch. Both of us were in bed by 9:15!

Naturally, we were awakened by the fireworks show around 10:15. We probably could have gotten up and watched part of the show, but we decided that we would just listen to the booms from our bed and try to sleep. I’m not sure how I was able to fall asleep in between the bangs and booms, but I did (for a few seconds at a time). It was funny because we’d hear the booms, then we’d hear the echo coming from the baby monitor. We were both happy when the show was over and we were able to actually sleep.

My neighbor said that this year’s show was kind of lame, so I wasn’t sorry we were in bed!

Outside of some great family pictures, this is my favorite from the fourth:

I love the “Color Pop” filter on my phone!

Song Draft Update

Round one of the 2021 Song Draft is in progress. I believe that there are 13 of us participating with 10 rounds of picks. Each of us participating will offer up a pick for each round. You can follow the entire Song Draft at my buddy, Hans’ blog.

https://slicethelife.com

He is posting every pick. I will be posting my song picks here in my blog after he posts mine. My first pick is in and will be posting one week from today. It is a great Detroit oldie that has a neat Motown connection. Watch for it on the 15th…

I have my 10 picks ready and I am excited to be taking part in this Draft event. I hope you enjoy it, too.