Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Learning To Fly

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Song is Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly“.

When Jason Aldean appeared on Saturday Night Live the Saturday after that awful Vegas tragedy, what did he play? He played a Tom Petty song, “I Won’t Back Down”. That choice was so right in so many ways.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on “I Won’t Back Down”.

Man, I love Tom Petty. He was something else. For me, he represented that link to the best in rock ‘n’ roll. It wasn’t rock that he played. These days rock has gone in dozens of directions. No, Tom Petty played that kind of rock I call Straight ahead Rock ‘N’ Roll.

Tom Petty always stood for that which was authentic in rock ‘n’ roll. Something that was honest and optimistic and working class and had a swing to it. In other words, he was a hell of a rocker, and he did the kind of music that said, “I ain’t gonna take no shit from anybody.” He was a musician who’d earned his spurs. He worked harder at his craft than most. He never forgot his roots. He never forgot the place he came from.

And that voice. It could be so kickass. Then turn around and be so sensitive and gentle.

He had one hell of a band. You don’t get to front a band like his unless you are the Real Deal. And I loved his work in The Traveling Wilburys with Roy Orbison, George Orbison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne. Wanna see a Rock ‘n’ Roll Supergroup. The Traveling Wilburys were that group.

And he never cheated his audience. He gave some of the best shows. Because he cared about his craft and he cared about his audience.

That we lost him, it seems such a damned shame. But I gotta say that those who lost their lives that Sunday night in Vegas were treated to one kick-ass of a concert.

Thanks, Tom, for all the joy you brought us. We miss you. As Johnny Cash said of Tom Petty, he “was a good man to ride the river with.”

And just in case, you haven’t had enough of the great Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, watch this:

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Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: The Greatest Ears In Town

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Song is Bette Midler and a gang of backup singers celebrating Arif Mardin with the song, “The Greatest Ears in Town”:

 

Arif Mardin was a composer, arranger and producer first at Atlantic Records, then at EMI. During his tenure with both companies, he either produced or arranged or composed music for such artists as the Rascals, Aretha Franklin, Phil Collins, the Bee Gees, Hall and Oates, Chaka Khan, Queen, Roberta Flack and Norah Jones.

In celebration of his contribution, give a listen to Bette Midler singing her tribute to Arif Mardin. It will make you smile.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Creator: Gordon Lightfoot

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Creator is Gordon Lightfoot:

It was late 1969 and I was at the Air Force Base Exchange. I found myself flipping through the records when I chanced upon an album called “Sunday Concert”. In those days, I had gotten into the habit of buying albums based on the cover art. The cover on the album was simple. It was a side view of Gordon Lightfoot on stage. It was a live album.

I liked the cover but I wasn’t sure who this Gordon Lightfoot was. Seems the name had come up before. Didn’t he write a Peter, Paul and Mary tune, “Early Morning Rain”? I checked out the songs. They had interesting titles and it looked like this Lightfoot guy was a folk singer.

This was in the days before Pandora and Spotify. If no one you knew had heard an artist, you took your chances. So I took my chances. Man, am I glad. I loved this Lightfoot and his “Sunday Concert”. Every song was a gem. Little did I realize that this was the last album he was to do for United Artist. His next album, “Sit Down, Young Stranger”, was on the Reprise label and it was a gem too. Had a big hit on it. “If you could read my mind”.

The Guess Who performing “Lightfoot”.

Gordon Lightfoot was something. He wrote great songs. He had a great voice. And he looked like what you would expect a troubadour to look. Over the years, I bought album after album of his as they were released. Twice I saw him in concert. And he’s still out there on the road, doing what a troubadour does.

In his honor, I wrote this lyric:

The ballading man
Spanish guitars play a South-of-the-Border song
On the stage the man sings out loud and clear
Of a land made great by sweat and by blood,
A rose in the wilderness of every man’s fear.

The songs the ways of the past almost forgotten:
Of love’s wisdom, of life, glory and death,
Of battles raging and courageous men,
Conquistadors, el dorado tales of fabulous wealth.

Children, gather ’round and hear a ballading man
Warm as a winter fire by a family hearth
Wild as mountain flowers in early spring,
A natural theology of every man’s worth.

Gordon Lightfoot, “I used to be a country singer”, written by Steve McEown.

And here is one of the my favorites. It’s “Don Quixote”, the title song from his second album on Reprise:

In this day and age, we need more Don Quixotes like this one.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Blue and Green

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Song is Van Morrison’s “Blue and Green”

Van Morrison has composed some amazing songs over the years, including “Crazy Love” and “Tupelo Honey”.

This one is such simple lyric, yet it stands out because nobody ever thought of it. That is, until Van Morrison was inspired to compose it. It is like Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”. It’s one of those songs that feels like it’s always been.

It takes a lyricist with a lot of moxie to personalize colors the way he has with this song. After listening to this one, I never think of colors the way I did before. Colors are living breathing things.

Uncle Bardie’s Spotlight Song: Rise

Once a week on Friday, Uncle Bardie celebrates the creativity in others by shining a Spotlight on a movie, a song or a creator. This week’s Spotlight Song is for all those who have been suffering from Hurricane Harvey. Know that we are thinking of you. You are our brothers and our sisters and our prayers go out for you.

This week’s Spotlight Song is Thea Gilmore with “Rise” on her new album, “Counterweight”:

Boy, did Thea hit the ball out of the park with this one.

Rise
by Thea Gilmore

Are you lost
Are you tired
Is the road ahead unmade
Are you worn
Did the storm
Tear up every stone you laid

Are you alone
Is your home
Past the point of no return
Did those days
Just erase
Everything you thought you’d learned

Come on reach, you’ll see
The river’s not that wide
Now reach for me
And bridge that dark divide
Come on and rise
Come on and rise

Is there a voice
In the air
Just screaming that you’re wrong
Is that noise
Too much to bear
Drowning out your cradle song

Are you scared
That you’ll be
Just one drop in the wave
Has your heart
Twisted apart
From too long being brave

Come on reach, you’ll see
The river’s not that wide
Now reach for me
And bridge that dark divide
Come on and rise
Come on and rise
Come on and rise
Come on and rise

And I know you’re lonely
I know you’re aching
But that next step’s the one worth taking
There’s a hand, darling
There’s a shoulder
There are arms
That just want to hold you

Come on reach, you’ll see
We can sail out come high tide
Now reach for me
Don’t let them say you never tried

Now reach, you’ll see
The river’s not that wide
Now reach for me
And bridge that dark divide

Come on and rise
Come on and rise
Come on and rise
Come on and rise

I know you’re lonely
I know you’re aching
But that next step’s the one worth taking