Friday Night “Soul Music” Potpourri

There is an ongoing discussion at Brian Wilson’s website called “The Battle of the Bands”. Every week someone selects four songs from YouTube that have something in common (say, songs about food or songs with great bass lines). At least one of the songs has to be related to Brian Wilson or the Beach Boys. Then the 20 or so regular participants rank the four songs (gold, silver, bronze and tin).

Opinions are offered, other videos are posted, stories are told and at the end of the week, the votes are tabulated. It’s an enjoyable pastime, since the participants are into music and extremely well-mannered (although they tend to be a little long in the tooth, like a certain blogger).

This week’s theme is Soul Music. The artists represented are Etta James, Otis Redding, Solomon Burke (singing the Beach Boys song “Sail On, Sailor”),  and Barbara Mason (doing her big hit “Yes, I’m Ready”).

I voted a couple days ago, giving gold to Otis Redding. This afternoon, one thing led to another (I believe that’s the definition of “the Internet”) and I ended up listening to and sharing several YouTube videos more or less associated with “soul music”. You might find some of them of interest. 

First, some related philosophical observations:

“There is two kinds of music, the good, and the bad. I play the good kind.” – L. Armstrong 

“You blows who you is.” – L. Armstrong

“Without music, life would be a mistake.” – F. Nietzsche

Whether it’s gospel-influenced, doo wop, R&B, soul or whatever, this one is pretty damn amazing. The Chantels, featuring lead singer Arlene Smith, from 1957/58:

James Brown sings it’s “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” in Paris. He launches into a bit of a medley around 6:40 or so:

Which doesn’t really lead to Bill Medley talking about Brian Wilson, Phil Spector, Carole King or Eric Burdon, or “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” or some famous songs he had the chance to record but didn’t:

The #1 “blue-eyed soul” record that he and Bobby Hatfield did right after they split from Phil Spector:

Which leads in a way (“she’s been my inspiration”) to an extended version of Stevie Wonder’s “I Was Made To Love Her”, including instrumental intro and outro:

I really disliked that song when it was on the radio in 1967, and was very surprised when the Beach Boys put it on their terrific “Wild Honey” album later that year. But sometimes we progress. This is the late Carl Wilson doing the lead vocal:

The Beach Boys covered Stevie Wonder, and in 1980 the Los Angeles punk rock band X covered the Doors (whose “Soul Kitchen” referred to a soul food restaurant in Venice, California):

Which doesn’t lead at all to Jimmy Cliff, but this is real good and clearly soulful (although rhyming “over” and “White Cliffs of Dover” is geographically suspicious in a song called “Many Rivers to Cross”. Those cliffs aren’t known for their waterfalls.):

Too bad there’s no money in propagating this Internet stuff.

Peter and Gordon Go To Pieces

I’ve been puttering around with a YouTube playlist for a few months, adding songs that I especially enjoy hearing. Most of them aren’t the biggest hits — they’re songs I want to hear more of. So I haven’t included wonderful songs like “Good Vibrations” and “In the Still of the Night”. I’ve got “Let Him Run Wild” and “Ramble Tamble” instead.

Many of the songs are singles I heard on the radio when I was a kid — songs that I’ve never owned but can now hear whenever I want. It’s amazing, and somehow seems improper, that all of this music is available for free. 

YouTube apparently allows a playlist to have a maximum of 200 entries. Right now, I’ve got 199 songs or some 10 hours of music (plus unwanted commercials).

Certain artists aren’t well-represented on YouTube. For example, some law firm or corporation apparently makes sure that there are very few Bob Dylan album tracks available; otherwise I’d have included “Highway 61 Revisited” for sure. On the other hand, you can find just about every song ever recorded by many well-known artists. But songs come and go fairly frequently, so it’s never certain that a particular song will be on the list the next time around.

One of the surprises I got while compiling my list is how much I enjoy a particular song by the British Invasion duo Peter and Gordon. I was never a big fan of theirs and would never have thought of “I Go To Pieces” as a personal favorite, but I love it every time I hear it. Released in 1964 (not 1965), the single got up to number 7 in the U.S. It wasn’t a hit in the U.K., failing to make the top 50.

So, without further ado, thanks to our friends (or Masters of the Universe) at YouTube, here is “I Go To Pieces”, written by Del Shannon (“Runaway”), and performed by Peter Asher (the one who looks like Austin Powers) and the late Gordon Waller: 

And here’s a link to my rather large YouTube playlist (“I Go To Pieces” is currently number 70 out of 199 entries):

P.S. 6/25/13 — Looks like I’ll be moving to Spotify. I’ll pay $5 per month to avoid commercials, plus they’ve got “Highway 61 Revisited”.

P.P.S. 6/26/13 — Spotify is pretty amazing. It’s like being in the 21st century. Except it doesn’t seem right that all this music, including new albums, is so cheaply available, the price being either exposure to advertising or a small monthly fee, plus being observed by whatever tracking software they use.