RIP David Bowie

British singer David Bowie died Sunday at the age of 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer. The news was posted on the artist’s official social media accounts.

 

Bowie, who was born David Robert Jones in Brixton, south London, scored his first hit in 1969 with the song “Space Oddity.” Since then he secured an enduring fanbase with his early albums “The Man Who Sold the World” and “Hunky Dory.”The singer’s breakthrough didn’t happen until 1972, when he unveiled his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, which catapulted him from “cult figure to rock icon.” Bowie made his last appearance as his alter ego at a London show on July 3 of that year. At one point during the 18-song set, he told the audience, “Of all the shows on the tour, this particular show will remain with us the longest, because not only is it the last show of the tour, it’s the last show we’ll ever do.”

In 1975, he achieved his first No. 1 hit in the U.S. with the song “Fame,” co-written by John Lennon.

Bowie also had a notable career on the silver screen, appearing in films such as “The Man Who Fell To Earth,” “Basquiat,” “The Prestige” and the cult-classic “Labyrinth,” in which he starred as Jareth the Goblin King.

Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006

Bowie released his 25th album, “Blackstar,” on Jan. 8. Additionally, the musical “Lazarus,” which he co-wrote with playwright Enda Walsh and features old and new Bowie songs, opened in December to positive reviews. It earned bragging rights as the fastest-selling Off Broadway show ever, according to The New York Times.

Bowie is survived by his model wife, Iman, their daughter Alexandria Zahra Jones, and his filmmaker son Duncan Jones, from his first marriage to Mary Angela Bowie (née Barnett).

Advertisements

Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Songwriters 40-31

rolling stone

 

See Part 1Part 2,Part 3Part 4,Part 5, and Part 6

40- John Fogerty

“In 1968 I always used to say that I wanted to make records they would still play on the radio in ten years,” Creedence Clearwater Revival architect John Fogerty told Rolling Stone in 1993. Try 50 years. CCR were the catchy, hard-driving dance band amidst the psychedelic San Francisco ballroom scene of the late Sixties, scoring 12 Top 40 hits during their run while releasing an incredible five albums between 1968 and 1970. Fogerty’s songwriting process reflected the blue-collar worldview of a guy who wrote his first Top 10 hit (1969’s “Proud Mary”) just two days after being discharged from the Army Reserves: “Just sitting very late at night,” he said. “It was quiet, the lights were low. There was no extra stimulus, no alcohol or drugs or anything. It was purely mental. . .I had discovered what all writers discover, whether they’re told or not, that you could do anything.” Fogerty later admitted to envying the critical adulation received by Bob Dylan and the Band, but he tapped the tenor of his times as well as anyone, whether on the class conscious Vietnam protest anthem “Fortunate Son” or “Bad Moon Rising,” which channeled America’s sense of impending apocalyptic into two-and-a-half choogling minutes.

39- David Bowie

The first time most people heard David Bowie, he was playing an astronaut named Major Tom, floating through space, completely cut off from civilization. Within a couple of years Bowie was channeling that sense of cosmic alienation into albums like 1971’s Hunky Dory and the 1972’s classic The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, emerging as one of the most creative (and unpredictable) songwriting forces of the 1970s. Early on, Bowie specialized in offering an indelible vision of the Seventies glam-rock demimonde. Lyrically, his use of William Burroughs-style cut and paste made for fascinating, if at times, baffling flows of image and ideas. “You write down a paragraph or two describing several different subjects creating a kind of story ingredients-list, I suppose, and then cut the sentences into four or five-word sections; mix ’em up and reconnect them,” he once said, describing a process that sometimes involves literally pulling phrases out of a hat. “You can get some pretty interesting idea combinations like this.” Bowie is also one of rock’s great collaborators, whether he’s working with Brian Eno, Mick Ronson or Iggy Pop. On timeless songs like “Life on Mars” or “Changes” or “Heroes,” his ability to combine accessibility and idiosyncrasy makes for music that marries art and pop and transfigures culture itself.

38- Al Green

He didn’t start writing songs in earnest until he’d recorded a few albums, and his songwriting gifts have been overshadowed by his vocal mastery. Still, Al Green’s best original material isn’t just a showcase for his voice. Starting in the early Seventies, Green, working with Hi Records producer Willie Mitchell and guitarist/co-writer Teenie Hodges, created a rich catalog of songs that mixed sacred and profane like no other soul singer of any era. Green sang about romantic ecstasy and failings and deeper longings for divine love (the language of Scripture has never been far from his lyrics, even when he was writing secular material). And you could put together a rock-solid compilation of Green’s songs that became hits in the hands of other artists: Syl Johnson’s (or Talking Heads’) “Take Me to the River,” Tina Turner’s “Let’s Stay Together,” UB40’s “Here I Am (Come and Take Me),” Meli’sa Morgan’s “Still in Love With You,” Earnest Jackson’s “Love and Happiness,” and on and on. His songs weren’t as political as Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway,” Justin Timberlake wrote in Rolling Stone, “But if those guys were speaking to you, Al Green was speaking for you.”

37- Jackson Browne

He may sound (and look) like the prototypical SoCal balladeer, but Browne has spent his career pushing the singer-songwriter envelope. He’s written some of rock’s most finely observed songs not just about his journey through life (from the prematurely wise “These Days,” penned when he was 16 years old, through more recent songs like “The Night Inside Me”), but has also ventured into social critiques (“Lawyers in Love”) and political protest (“Lives in the Balance”). Whatever the subject, Browne brings the same probing, thoughtful take on what he called, in “Looking East,” “the search for the truth.” “The nature of my music has to do with dealing with very fundamental things by depicting my own experience,” he told Rolling Stone in 1976. “There’s nothing that isn’t pretty fundamental.” And in “Running on Empty,” “Boulevard” and others, he also knew, far more than most of his peers, the value in rocking out. “I learned through Jackson’s ceiling and my floor how to write songs,” Glenn Frey recalled of a period when he lived in an apartment one floor above Browne, “elbow grease, time, thought, persistence.”

36- Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter

Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia, the writing partners at the center of the Grateful Dead, are the psychedelic Rodgers and Hart. The duo charted deep space — inner and outer—on early collaborations like “Dark Star.” But beginning with 1969’s Aoxomoxoa, and hitting stride with the 1970 doubleheader of Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty, they uncorked a vividly mythic America full of crooked gamblers, coked-up train engineers, strange sea-captains, story-telling crows, card-playing wolves, and — fittingly— transcendence-seeking musicians. “You’d see Hunter standing over in the corner,” drummer Mickey Hart said of the time Hunter joined up with the Dead. “He had this little dance he’d do. He had one foot off the ground and he’d be writing in his notebooks. He was communing with the music. And all of a sudden, we had songs.” The storytelling was always a delight, but it was Hunter’s way with a homey-cosmic aphorism that made Dead lyrics so tattoo-able, bobbing and bouncing on Garcia’s sweet, sad melody lines like glinting revelations. “Let there be songs to fill the air,” insists the singer on “Ripple,” one of the duo’s most indelible numbers. And voila: there they are.

35- Bono and the Edge

When they first got started in the 1970s, the ambitious lads in U2 made a deal to split all their publishing money evenly. But as important to U2’s sound as Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. may be, Bono and the Edge have been the primary songwriting team in the band from day one. Bono brings the grand vision and uncanny ear for heroic hooks, and the Edge brings his sonic mastery and an eagerness to push boundaries. Working together, the duo have pursued their expansive vision from the adolescent cry of “Out of Control” to political anthems like “Sunday Bloody Sunday” to the stadium-shaking roar of “Where the Streets Have No Name” to the funky, danceable “Mysterious Ways” and “Discotheque” all the way through the highly-personable “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)” from last year’s Songs of Innocence. As the band’s charismatic frontman, Bono may soak up a lot of the credit, but he’s the first to admit how important the Edge is to their songwriting. “Smart people know what [the Edge] does, and he doesn’t care about the rest of the world,” Bono told Rolling Stone in 2005. “I get annoyed and I say, ‘How do people not know?'”

34- Michael Jackson

Jackson’s innate musical genius could be heard on the earliest Jackson 5 chart-toppers. And he came into his own with the sterling disco pop of 1979’s Off the Wall and the monumental Thriller, where he got sole writing credit on “Billie Jean,” “Beat It” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Something.” By Bad in 1987, he was getting a writing credit on nearly every song on the record. Jackson’s collaborators and co-writers marvel at the way his dance-floor classics sprang full-formed from their creator’s head. That, Michael said, was the only way he could write: “If I sat down at a piano, if I sat here and played some chords. . .nothing happens.” Even more remarkably, the singer imagined the full arrangements for these songs as he wrote them, working from the basic rhythmic elements all the way up to the smallest ornamentations. “He would sing us an entire string arrangement, every part,” engineer Rob Hoffman recalls. “Had it all in his head; harmony and everything. Not just little eight-bar loop ideas. He would actually sing the entire arrangement into a micro-cassette recorder complete with stops and fills.”

33- Merle Haggard

“Hag, you’re the guy people think I am,” said Johnny Cash to Merle Haggard, whose life and lyrics intertwined magnificently. Among Haggard’s 38 Number One country hits, signature tunes like “Okie From Muskogee,” “Mama Tried” and “Sing Me Back Home” mixed autobiography and attitude with a honky-tonk spirit in the tradition of Lefty Frizzell and Hank Williams. As he told American Songwriter in 2010, “Sometimes the songs got to coming too fast for me to write, and sometimes they still do.” The prolific Haggard, who once released eight albums in a three-year period, is an icon of country conservatism thanks to his hippie-baiting classic “Okie From Muskogee.” Yet, his music directly influenced rock touchstones like the Grateful Dead’s Workingman’s Dead and the Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet, and Hag has been influenced right back. “I’m a rock & roller,” he recently told Rolling Stone. “I’m a country guy because of my raisin’, but I’m a Chuck Berry man. I love Fats Domino just as much as I like Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell.”

32- Burt Bacharach and Hal David

Burt Bacharach studied classical composition with French composer Darius Milhaud and was part of avant-garde icon John Cage’s circle. But he chose pop music as a career and started writing songs with lyricist Hal David, who had a knack for matching wistful sentiments to Bacharach’s unconventional jazz chords and constantly shifting time signatures. (“It all counts,” Bacharach said. “There is no filler in a three-and-a-half-minute song.”) Their first hit came in 1957, but their partnership really took off five years later, when they started working with singer Dionne Warwick. Between 1962 and 1971, Warwick charted with dozens of Bacharach/David songs like “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Walk on By” and “Anyone Who Had a Heart.” Their songs were hits for other artists, too: Richard Carpenter of the Carpenters, who went to Number One with “Close to You,” called Bacharach “one of the most gifted composers who ever drew a breath. . .unorthodox never sounded lovelier or more clever.”

31- Dolly Parton

With 3,000 songs to her name — including more than 20 Number One country singles —Dolly Parton has enjoyed one of country’s most impressive songwriting careers. Parton tapped her hardscrabble Tennessee-hills upbringing on songs like “Coat of Many Colors” and “The Bargain Store,” and throughout the Seventies, her songs broke new ground in describing romantic heartache and marital hardship. On “Travelin’ Man,” from her 1971 masterpiece Coat of Many Colors, Parton’s mom runs off with her man, and on the gut-wrenching “If I Lose My Mind,” also on that album, Parton watches while her boyfriend has sex with another woman. Over the years, her songs have been covered by everyone from the White Stripes to LeAnn Rimes to Whitney Houston, who had an enormous hit with her version of Parton’s ballad “I Will Always Love You.” Parton has always had a self-deprecating sense of humor (she once described her voice as “a cross between Tiny Tim and a nanny goat”). But she doesn’t do much joking around when it comes to the art of songwriting. “I’ve always prided myself as a songwriter more than anything else” she once said, adding “nothing is more sacred and more precious to me than when I really can get in that zone where it’s just God and me.”

This Day in Music History — December 25

1954 : Annie Lennox is born in Aberdeen, Scotland.

1959 : An apprentice engineer from Liverpool named Richard Starkey, then already eighteen, gets his first real set of drums for Christmas (the young Starkey’s family couldn’t afford a proper set when he was a child). Later, he would become known as Ringo Starr.

1981 : Michael Jackson calls Paul McCartney to wish him Merry Christmas and suggests they write and record together. The result is the hit duet “The Girl Is Mine,” the first single off of the landmark album Thriller.

1982 : David Bowie and Bing Crosby’s “The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth,” an unlikely duet broadcast five years earlier on Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas TV special, becomes an even more unlikely hit, reaching #1 in the UK.

1994 : Green Day play Madison Square Garden in New York City. It’s quite a leap for the band, which had been playing small clubs at the beginning of the year. During the show, lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong performs wearing only socks and a strategically placed guitar.

1995 : Dean Martin, also suffering from lung cancer, dies from acute respiratory failure due to emphysema at age 78. Las Vegas honors the legend by dimming the lights along the city’s famous Strip.

2008 : Eartha Kitt dies of colon cancer in Weston, Connecticut, at age 81.

New Music Tuesday — November 18

Click on the album to listen.

Pom Pom Avonmore Nothing Has Changed
Ariel Pink Bryan Ferry David Bowie
Pom Pom Avonmore Nothing Has Changed
The Way Girlpool
Buzzcocks TV On The Radio Girlpool
The Way Seeds Girlpool 
 Four    
One Direction Copeland Various Artists
Four Ixora The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1
No Fixed Address
RL Grime Nickelback The Ghost Inside
Void No Fixed Address Dear Youth

Florence and the Machine are Back

Neil Young’s annual Bridge School Benefit concerts have grown accustomed to seeing amazing lineups over the decades,  R.E.M., David Bowie, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith and Metallica. This year one of the headliners was Florence and the Machine.  They haven’t played a US show since last November and they were sorely missed.  Watch below.

“Dog Days Are Over”:

“Cosmic Love”:

“Heartlines”:

“What the Water Gave Me”:

“Only If For a Night”:

This Day in Music History — October 20

1950 : Tom Petty is born in Gainesville, Florida. Formed The Heartbreakers in Los Angeles, California. Member of The Traveling Wilburys.

1969 : John Lennon and Yoko Ono release their Wedding Album LP (with a photo of their own wedding cake and a copy of their marriage certificate included.)

1977 : Lynyrd Skynyrd members Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines die in a plane crash in Mississippi. Gaines’ sister, Cassie, who was a backup singer with the group, is also killed along with 2 pilots and the band’s manager. Other members of the group are badly injured.

1999 : A year after nearly dying from pneumonia, Johnny Cash finds himself battling the condition again. Cash is listed in serious condition at Baptist Hospital in Nashville.

2001 : Raising money for victims of the September 11th attacks, Paul McCartney leads “The Concert For New York” in Madison Square Garden. Elton John, Billy Joel, David Bowie, The Who, and Eric Clapton all participate

The best mass musician sing-a-longs EVER

from Hello Giggles

by Sophia Elias

Before Tuesday night, mass musician sing-a-longs were few and far between. Thankfully, BBC Music pulled out all the stops with their star-studded cover of the Beach Boys 1996 hit, “God Only Knows”. In light of the BBC Music launch, the network got everyone (and by everyone, I mean 29 world class musicians) to participate in the promo. With the likes of Elton John, Florence Welch, Pharrell, Lorde, Chris Martin, Dave Grohl and Sam Smith, it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Much like its all-star predecessors, “God Only Knows” will contribute to a good cause. The song is set to be released as a single in order to raise money for the BBC’s Children in Need appeal. I have to say, I haven’t been one to seek out celebrity sing-a-longs, but there is something powerful about world class artists collaborating on a single project. I think we ought take a trip down memory lane and give a nod to all those great musical collabs from the past. There are more than you probably know:

1. We Are The World (1985)

“We Are The World” is the mother of all mass musician sing-a-longs. Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, “We Are The World” was released in an effort to raise awareness and bring relief to the famine in Africa between 1983-1985. The song raised over $10 million in record sales from the United States alone. The song included performances from over 44 world class musicians—including Cyndi Lauper, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Ray Charles—who operated under the name of USA for Africa. Fun fact: When the musicians entered the studio, they were met with a sign that read: “Check your egos at the door.” Continue reading

This Day in Music History — September 11

1967 : Frank Sinatra, who is playing at The Sands casino in Las Vegas, gets in a fight when he is denied credit as part of a policy put in by the new owners. He breaks two teeth in the altercation and soon takes his talents (and money) to Caesar’s Palace.

1971 : The Jackson 5 cartoon series, called The Jackson 5ive, debuts on ABC. Each episode shows various adventures with animated versions of the group, along with Michael’s pet mice Ray and Charles, and his snake Rosie. The cartoon runs from 1971-1973.

1977 : David Bowie appears on Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas special. Bowie refuses to sing “Little Drummer Boy” with Crosby, so his part is rewritten as “Peace On Earth.” Crosby dies a month later, and the duet becomes a Christmas classic, growing even more popular when MTV starts playing the clip a few years later.

2001 : Most radio stations simulcast news after the terrorist attacks take place. As stations gradually return to music, they try to be sensitive about what songs they play, but Clear Channel Communications goes overboard with a list of 165 songs they ask their stations to avoid, including “Smooth Criminal” and “What A Wonderful World.”