By Madeline Bocaro
© Madeline Bocaro, 2020. No part of this site may be reproduced or re-blogged in whole or in part in any manner without permission of the copyright owner.
THERE IS A SONG FOR EVERY SEASON!
‘Robert Goulet sings ‘If Ever I Would Leave You’ in his operatic voice. It wouldn’t be in summer, winter, spring or fall. In the lyrics, there is never a time to leave his lover in in any season. The song is from Lerner and Loewe’s Broadway musical Camelot, in which Robert Goulet plays Lancelot. The show opened on December 3, 1960.
This is from the original cast Broadway album on Columbia Records.
‘Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)’ with its biblical verses was composed by Pete Seeger. It was recorded in 1959. The Byrds had another jangly hit with this song, with which they had a worldwide hit in 1965.
‘Season of the Witch’ was released in 1966 on the third album by Donovan, Sunshine Superman. This has a Doors-like keyboard part. There is a great cover version by Lana Del Ray in 2019).
Listen – Donovan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GU35oCHGhJ0
Listen – Lana Del Rey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANibLQ3UdMs
‘Time of the Season’ by The Zombies was written by Rod Argent. It is on their Odessey and Oracle album in 1968.
The Four Seasons released ‘Let’s Hang On!’ in 1965. This is the least annoying of Frankie Valli’s high vocals which I’m not too fond of.
Nico recorded the beautiful ‘Fairest of the Seasons’ in 1967. The song was co-written by Jackson Browne who accompanied her playing acoustically in New York City cafes. It appears on her now classic debut solo album Chelsea Girl. This was six months after she appeared on the album The Velvet Underground and Nico. Despite being a war child during the horrors in Berlin, Nico’s most famous lament of her life was about the arrangement of the music on Chelsea Girl…
“I still cannot listen to it, because everything I wanted for that record, they took it away. I asked for drums, they said no. I asked for more guitars, they said no. And I asked for simplicity, and they covered it in flutes! …They added strings and – I didn’t like them, but I could live with them. But the flute! The first time I heard the album, I cried and it was all because of the flute.”
‘The Seal of Seasons’ is a beautiful tack on the third Tyrannosaurus Rex album Unicorn by the duo of Marc Bolan and Steve Peregrin Took, released in the summer of 1969. The lyrics are poetically psychedelic.
The seal of season moved with grace, love
Upon the Orkney oceans face, love
She swam and moved
Just like a prancer
A gypsy dancer
A salty shimmered shell of foam
Canadian artist Terry Jacks released ‘Seasons in the Sun’ in 1974. This was based on a 1962 Jacques Brel composition in German titled ‘Le moribund’.
This is when the sun and moon play with Earth. Their forces of attraction provoke the tides, and bring about changes; seasonal and spiritual… It is when the equator is aligned with the sun’s center. The name combines the Latin words Equal and Night.
Ambient music pioneer Jean Michel Jarre released his fourth album Equinoxe in 1978 following his first successful album Oxygene In 1976. At the time, I felt that Jarre would be considered a classical composer in the future. He manages to evoke visions of earthly beauty while taking us on journeys through space and time, all with the calming sounds of the ocean to make us feel at home. The warm sounds of his analog synths create the most heavenly environments you can imagine; gardens, mountains, planets, the heavens… and you are THERE!
Listen: Equinoxe Part 2 https://youtu.be/_okeeslfmh8
Fall is my favorite season!
The jazz standard ‘Autumn in New York’ was written by Vernon Duke in 1934. Frank Sinatra released it as a single in 1949. It has also been covered by Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan and others. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong sang it in a duet. However, my favorite version is by the Singing Bug that Alice Cooper brought to The Soupy Sales Show in 1979.
Watch and listen! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qP0g6VINHbs
Iggy Pop sang the classic ‘Autumn Leaves’ (‘Les Feuilles Mortes’) on his album of French cover songs Preliminaires in 2009. The song was originally written in French. Johnny Mercer later wrote English lyrics.
Listen – Iggy Pop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mSG6pV-2c4
Here’s my review of Iggy’s album Preliminaires
There’s also a beautiful version by Eva Cassidy with the London Symphony Orchestra.
Listen – Eva Cassidy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2oHd_t0iHg
The falling leaves drift by my window
The falling leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sunburned hands I used to hold
Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most of all, my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall
Tom Verlaine of Television released ‘Red Leaves’ in 1979 on his self-titled debut solo album. This album in magnificent, including the incredible songs ‘Souvenir from a Dream’, ‘Last Night’ ‘Breakin’ in My Heart’ and ‘Kingdom Come’ which was covered by Bowie – with Verlaine on guitar – on his Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) album in 1980.
Listen – Vinyl: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7KZ7dkUWCw
The standard ‘September Song’ was written by Kurt Weill / Maxwell Anderson for a 1938 musical. It was also in the 1950 film September Affair.
Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few
And these few precious days I’ll spend with you
These precious days I’ll spend with you
Listen – Frank Sinatra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wte1uk4A5eU
The stunning song ‘October’ opens the second album titled after the month by U2 (1981) with a simple piano/vocal composition.
And the trees are stripped bare
Of all they wear
What do I care?
October And kingdoms rise
And kingdoms fall
But you go on and on
Siouxie and the Banshees have a song called ‘Halloween’ on their fourth album Juju released in 1981
Patti Smith sings the beautifully melancholy ‘Wild Leaves’ is a bonus track on the CD version of her 1988 album Dream of Life.
Wild leaves are falling
Falling to the ground
Every leaf a moment
A light upon the crown…
Watch – Live – Spinning On Air: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90AHg9TLYQg
‘Summertime’ is from the 1934 play Porgy and Bess. The aria was written by George Gershwin. This classic has been covered by many jazz artists and vocalists. I’ll go with Billie Holiday’s version…
Summertime, an’ the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’ an’ the cotton is high.
Oh, yo’ daddy’s rich and yo’ ma is good-lookin’
So hush, little baby, don’ you cry.
One of these mornin’s you goin’ to rise up singin’
Then you’ll spread yo’ wings an’ you’ll take to the sky.
But till that mornin’, there’s a nothin’ can harm you
With Daddy an’ Mammy standin’ by.
Listen – Billie Holiday: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYUqbnk7tCY
The lilting waltz ‘Theme from A Summer Place’ from the film soundtrack was a huge instrumental hit by Percy Faith Orchestra 1959. A vocal version was recorded by Andy Williams.
Listen – Percy Faith Orchestra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rt7SPm7N6D8
Listen -Andy Williams: https://youtu.be/GTnEk9JhVQc
There is nothing more glorious than the memories of my parents and of simpler times that Frank Sinatra conjures up with the big-band arrangement of the song ‘Summer Wind’ which he sang in 1966. This was originally written in German as ‘Der Sommerwind’ in 1965. English lyrics were written by Johnny Mercer and recorded by Wayne Newton.
My Frank Sinatra Story:
It was in the swinging sixties summer of 1965 when Marianne Faithfull released the beautifully melancholy ‘Summer Nights’ as a single. It also appears on her album Go Away From My World on which she covers ‘Scarborough Fair’ and ‘Yesterday’.
‘Summer in the City’ was a summer 1966 hit by The Lovin’ Spoonful. You can envision the steam coming off the hot city streets in this song.
Summer is not always a time of fun, as we learn in ‘Summertime Blues’ by Eddie Cochran released in 1958. Eddie was an early adaptor of multi-track recording, distortion and overdubs on his mostly rockabilly catalog. His hits include ‘Somethin’ Else’ and C’Mon Everybody (both covered by The Sex Pistols and Sid Vicious) and the classic ‘Twenty Flight Rock’. Cochran died in a car crash at age 21 in the midst of a British tour with Gene Vincent.
Everybody knows ‘Hot Fun in the Summertime’ – a big hit single for Sly and the Family Stone in 1969 just after they had appeared at Woodstock.
The best days of our lives were in the ‘Summer of ‘69’. This was a huge hit in 1985 by Bryan Adams from his album Reckless.
Sparks include the song ‘Over The Summer’ with its Beach Boys inspired melody and harmony on their 1977 album Introducing.
‘Holidays in the Sun’ is not actually a summer song, but it is a masterpiece by The Sex Pistols. It was their fourth single in 1977, and it appeared on their album Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. It was written about escaping the prison-like atmosphere of London as they were under the pressure of haters, violence and of their record company. In order to escape confinement in London, they went to the prison capital of the world, Berlin, where they wrote the song (beginning with the stomping beat of stormtroopers’ boots) about their “cheap holiday in other people’s misery” at the Berlin Wall.
The Rolling Stones released the rocker ‘Summer Romance’ on their album Emotional Rescue in 1980.
The English group of girls, Bananarama released ‘Cruel Summer’ in summer 1983 in the UK (and in 1984 in the USA). It was first a single, and later included on their second album.
In response to the wild success of his 1910 masterpiece, The Firebird, Igor Stravinsky blew everyone’s minds with The Rite of Spring, which Leonard Bernstein described as “the best dissonances anyone ever thought up, and the best asymmetries and polytonalities and polyrhythms and whatever else you care to name.” The uproarious audience response (actual rioting ensued) was even more caustic than when Dylan went electric! Here is a great description of the event…
“After months of grueling rehearsals, the lights finally drew down at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées that evening. The Rite began with a solo bassoon squeezing out a riff so high in its register that it sounded uncannily like a broken English horn. This alien sound was—apparently and unintentionally—so strange that chuckles erupted from the bourgeoisie in the mezzanine boxes and rippled through the crowd below. The dissonant opening gave way to the martial assault of the second movement, “The Augurs of Spring,” and the dancers—choreographed by the legendary Vaslav Nijinsky of the Ballets Russes—bounded on stage, moving squeamishly and at jagged angles. As recounted in the daily newspaper Le Figaro and in various books and memoirs since, the chuckles turned into jeers, then shouting, and soon the audience was whipped into such a frenzy that their cries drowned out the orchestra.
Many members of the audience could not fathom this new music; their brains—figuratively, but to a certain extent, literally—broke. A brawl ensued, vegetables were thrown, and 40 people were ejected from the theater. It was a fiasco consonant with Stravinsky’s full-bore attack on the received history of classical music, and thus, every delicate sense in the room. “One literally could not, throughout the whole performance, hear the sound of music,” Gertrude Stein recalled in her memoir. The famous Italian opera composer Giacamo Puccini described the performance to the press as “sheer cacophony.” Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring is now hailed as the most sweepingly influential piece of music composed in the early 20th century, a tectonic shift in form and aesthetic…
– Jeremy D. Larso, Why Do We Even Listen to New Music? April 6, 2020
Listen: ‘Le Sacre Du Printemps’ (The Rite of Spring) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3SvnwGVem4
Also see my review of the new Sparks album, which has a track called ‘Stravinsky’s Only Hit’
Sparks: A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip
What is more charming and spring-like than ‘Let’s Sing a Gay Little Spring Song’ from Bambi II.
Onthe other hand, we have ‘Springtime for Hitler’ from the 1968 Mel Brooks film The Producers. Brooks composed this mini-operetta – a parody of the Nazi regime, with the ironic lyrics….
Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Deutschland is happy and gay
We’re marching to a faster pace
Look out! Here comes the master race
Prince released the beautiful ballad ‘Sometimes it Snows in April’ on his album Parade in 1986 (which doubled as the sound to his film Under the Cherry Moon. It is performed solely by Prince, Lisa and Wendy. It’s about the lead character Christopher Tracy whom Prince plays in the film. The song was recorded on the same date that Prince passed away, April 21, 2016.
‘California Dreamin’ is a classic, first released by Barry McGuire and later made famous by The Mamas and the Papas in 1965. It waswritten by band members John and Michelle Phillips. This was an anthem during the time of the Vietnam war. The band is missing their hometown of Los Angeles, especially in the cold of winter – but also it is a hopeful dream for better times, stopping in a church to pray for salvation.
All the leaves are brown
And the sky is grey
I’ve been for a walk
On a winter’s day
I’d be safe and warm
If I was in L.A…
On such a winter’s day
‘Hazy Shade of Winter’ is an uncharacteristically psychedelic sounding song from Simon & Garfunkel. It was released as a single in 1966, and later appeared on their album Bookends in 1968. The composer is Paul Simon. The lyrics are not only about the winter season, but of political changes of the times. It was covered by The Bangles in 1987.
Time, time time, see what’s become of me
While I looked around for my possibilities
I was so hard to please
The leaves are brown
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter
Hear the Salvation Army band
Down by the riverside’s, there’s bound to be a better ride
Than what you’ve got planned
Carry your cup in your hand
… But if your hopes should pass away
Simply pretend that you can build them again
The grass is high
The fields are ripe
It’s the springtime of my life
Seasons change with the scenery
Weaving time in a tapestry
Won’t you stop and remember me
At any convenient time?
Listen – Simon & Garfunkel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVA-1iJxRQI
Listen – The Bangles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxrwImCJCqk
In late 1966 Simon and Garfunkel released their album named after the seasonings Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. Their hit song from the album, ‘Scarborough Fair’ mentions the seasonings in the lyrics, which have nothing to do with the story of this traditional English ballad which the duo adapted. It is about a Rumpelstiltskin like character who threatened a woman with evils if she did not perform Herculean tasks and be his lover. Members of The Wrecking Crew play on the S&G recording, including Carole Kaye on bass and Hal Blaine on drums.
‘Snowbird’ was a hit single by Anne Murray in 1970. I never liked this country song when it was released, but now I find her smooth voice comforting and lovely. Elvis covered this in 1971 for his album Elvis Country (I’m 10,000 Years Old). Elvis makes it sound more rockabilly.
Listen – Elvis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rz48tw4gYsQ
Edgar Winter released the fantastic instrumental ‘Frankenstein’ as a single in the winter of 1973. This features heavy guitar riffs merged with really cool synthesized sounds.
The track ‘Winter’ is on The Rollling Stones album Goat’s Head Soup from 1973. This features some nice string orchestrations and the guitar of the great Mick Taylor. There is a magical quality to this, and it sounds especially wonderful while driving on a cold and snowy night.
Kate Bush released her 10th album – a cinematic masterpiece called 50 Words For Snow (after the myth that Eskimos use 50 words for snow) in 2011. The album’s seven songs are “set against a background of falling snow”. Some of the pieces are over ten minutes in length.
This lyrics to ‘ Wild Man’ are about the Wild Man of the Himalayas, and a team of discoverers who hide his footprints to protect him from being discovered.
Listen – Wild Man: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhh1KbeKr4M
Watch – ‘Misty’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqNoP9l-AtM
Yoko’s Winter Songs
‘Listen, The Snow is Falling’ by Yoko Ono is the B-side of Happy Xmas (War Is Over), 1971
Of course, Yoko is asking us to listen to ‘the sound of one hand clapping’. A meditation. This song shimmers like light on snow. It quiets our minds and bodies in a blanket of peacefulness. This was one of the first songs of her own that she shared with John. The lyrics come from ‘Snow Piece’ (1963) in Yoko’s book Grapefruit. An early vocal-only demo contains an outtake verse which is exactly ‘Snow Piece’.
When you talk to someone
Snow is falling between you and him
When you talk with someone
Go on talking until he’s covered with snow
The tape echo on Yoko’s voice makes the song magical. Her instruction to Nicky Hopkins for the piano intro was, “Pretend that it’s snowing…that snow is melting on your fingertips.” She desires the sound of a celeste, so the electric piano is doctored to sound like one. “Feet in the Snow” and “Strong Wind” from a sound effects record are layered atop each other.
Listen, the snow is falling all the time / Listen, the snow is everywhere
Between your bed and mine
Between your head and my mind
…between your god and mine
…snow of dream, snow of hope, snow of love
Listen – listen baby
Some words reflect where Yoko was living (NYC), and her Wrap Piece (wrapping the lion statues in Trafalgar Square).
Between Empire State Building and between Trafalgar Square
Snow is falling everywhere
Snow is falling all the time
Here are some wonderful versions of Yoko’s song by Stephen Emmer:
Listen, the Snow Is Falling, Pt. 1 (feat. Kazu Makino)
Listen, the Snow Is Falling, Pt. 2 (feat. Yoko Ono & Samuel Beckett)
Also, Yoko appears on this, singing lyrics from the song:
My full story about the song: ‘Listen, the Snow Is Falling’
Yoko Ono wrote ‘Winter Song’ while John Lennon was asleep in a farmhouse in upstate New York. John has repeatedly said that he wished that he had written this exquisite song himself. He plays guitar on the track (and others) along with Mick Jagger. This appears on her 1973 double album Approximately Infinite Universe. There is a longing for an earthly future with John that was not to be. Yoko seems to sense this already, yet there is beautiful shimmer about this song in its gorgeous strings and especially in the sacred lyrics.
I know you now for a thousand years
Your body still feels nice and warm to me
The sun is old, the winter’s cold
The lake is shining like a drop of Buddha’s tears
The mountains lie in a distance
like the future wed never reach…
The bed is shining like an old scripture that’s never been opened before…
Some of the lyrics in ‘Winter Song’ refer back to Yoko’s piece from her book Grapefruit.
Watch – Flipside: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8lEkCn9xwM
My story about the album: Yoko Rocks My Universe!
‘Winter Friend’ was written by Yoko for her album A Story, which remained unreleased until 1997. It is the origin of her song ‘N.Y. Noodle Town’ (Take Me to the Land of Hell 2013) – Yoko’s anthem to her hometown, New York City. There is actually a restaurant called Great N.Y. Noodle Town in NYC. The song could be Part 2 of ‘Winter Friend’ in which Yoko and her depressed male companion ‘walk through the snow to Chinatown for noodles/to noodle’.
Listen – ‘Winter Friend’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWz5acOISqs
Listen – ‘N.Y .Noodletown’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_dNB4i_4bU
My article about Yoko’s album
A Story – 1974
‘Walking on Thin Ice’ was Yoko’s first single – released in January 1981 – within a month after John’s passing,
John absolutely loved this track, which they were working on the night he was murdered in Deember 1980 during the Double Fantasy sessions. Just hours before John’s death, he played the song repeatedly, predicting that it would be Yoko’s first No. 1 hit. In fact, a clip of him saying this is included at the start of the song in the Onobox collection (1992). She didn’t think it would come true, but John’s prediction was realized in 2013 when a CD of ‘Walking on Thin Ice’ remixes became Yoko’s 11th No. 1 single on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart.
On the groundbreaking original version, John and Earl Slick provide scathing guitar lines to this chilling, brittle song about risk, repercussion, fragility, life and death. One day later, the unnerving lyrics became a sad reality. Yoko’s vocals eventually inspired countless artists in many genres. The most beautiful version is this remixed vocal/string arrangement. Yoko released this stunning new video for the song on her birthday in 2016:
ONO/Tenaglia – ‘Walking On Thin Ice’ (Maestro Version) – Yes, I’m a Witch Too 2016
Walking on thin ice
I’m paying the price
For throwing the dice in the air…
I gave you my knife
You gave me my life
Like a gush of wind in my hair
Why do we forget what’s been said
And play the game of life with our hearts?
I may cry some day
But the tears will dry whichever way
And when our hearts return to ashes
It’ll be just a story
Read my full story – ‘Walking On Thin Ice’: Just a Story
Also see my full story- Yoko’s Winter Songs
© Madeline Bocaro 2020. No part of the materials available through madelinex.com may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated, re-blogged or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of Madeline Bocaro. Any other reproduction in any form without the permission of Madeline Bocaro is prohibited. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without prior written permission of Madeline Bocaro.
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About A Song
Eat to the Beat