Music May – Drowning in a Sea of Love

This is what happens once a month when the Baxter (or Norman) living room becomes a music hang-out. There have been as many as 8 of us, but this month we were 4 ~ me, Ray, Randy, and George. No matter the number, there always seems to be a flow to the selections people choose. I am sharing the plays as You Tube links although half of these we simply listened to on the turntable or CD or as mp3s.

Ray started out the night with Louie Louie written by Los Angeles based singer Richard Berry. (You can read Ray’s entire post about the song here.)

Louie Louie was released in 1957 on Flip Records (as a “B” side) by Richard Berry & the Pharaohs. The 1956 songs “El Loco Cha Cha” by Latin bandleader Rene Touzet and “Havana Moon” by Chuck Berry (no relation) were major influences.

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As play continued, Ray brought out his pic of Richard Berry and signed album, the trivia gained serendipitous wings.

Did you know: Richard Berry’s voice rings out on Etta James’ hit Roll with Me Henry? (That and the song Work with Me Annie by Hank Ballard and the Midnighter’s could be a post unto itself!)

Ray played Mary Lou by Young Jesse and Randy asked if he’d ever noticed that Young Jesse sang backup on Tell Me You Love Me on Berry’s Louie, Louie LP. Ray had not. (These two, I swear, they get excited like little kids! Keeps ’em healthy and happy!)

Ray treated us to a Mary Lou version by Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks 1959 and a live version by Frank Zappa & the Mother’s of Invention (helium anyone?!).

More trivia: If you are familiar the group called The Band from the late 1960s/early 70s, not Ronnie, but the best of the Hawks eventually formed that group in the late 1960s.

I imagine you could be familiar with Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon. Have you heard Desperado Under the Eaves? Randy shared it. Having lived in SO Cal, my ears pricked up at this lyric:

And if California slides into the ocean
Like the mystics and statistics say it will
I predict this motel will be standing until I pay my bill

Randy likes amusing songs. Hence Stan Ridgeway’s Peg and Pete and MeToe ~ Zach Brown Band, and Girl in a Country Song ~ Maddie and Tae (True this.).

My hands-down fave play of the night, Sound of Silence as performed by Disturbed. (I might still be in shock that this was a pick from Ray, except how does one not like this song?) Lead singer David Draiman’s voice is amazing and if it does not give you chills please get someone to check your pulse quick!

On that heavy note, George shared a version of the Cranberries’ Zombie by Bad Wolves, you can hear how the orig lends itself to this darker version. Apparently sales proceeds from their version go to Dolores O’Riordan’s children.

George shared Skin by Rag n Bone Man, a song about holding on to someone when the love is gone or perhaps was not there in the first place.

He also shared  What a Shame by Shinedown with this lyric I loved, “There’s a touch of grey for every shade of blue…”

Playing off of my downed love theme or George’s chosen genre, Randy used one of his plays for Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart by Chris Cornell of Sound Garden fame.

Check out the instrument Luna Lee is playing. It is a Korean Guyaguen. I wonder if the Musical Instrument Museum has one.

Luna Lee’s Patreon site: https://www.patreon.com/lunalee/overview

My theme for the night was drowned love. What songs come to your mind when you think of drowning in a sea of love? Maybe:

  • Sara ~ Stevie Nicks “…drownin’ in a sea of love, where everyone would love to drown…”
  • Sea of Love ~ Honeydrippers Theirs is the version I heard first in the mid 1980s. I am married to an early Rock and Roll historian and now know the original was by Phil Phillips, 1959.)
  • Beaches of Cheyenne ~ Garth Brooks
  • Bitter Green ~ Gordon Lightfoot “…some say he was a sailor who died away at sea…”
  • Venezuela ~ John Jacob Niles 1957 Rita Connolly’s version is the one I heard first and like the best but my fave by her is Ripples in the Rockpool.

In search of songs old, new, borrowed, and blue, I picked these for music night:

New to my ears:

Lost at Sea ~ SHEL (2014) Angelic harmonies from this group of sisters! I liked them so much I bought the digital download of their first – what do we call it now – LP? Ha!

Jackie ~ Sinead O’Connor (1988) Periodically I dive into the mountain of hitherto not listened to recordings we collected over the years. That’s where I found Jackie.

Drowning in a Sea of Love ~ Joe Simon (1969?)

Not new:

Capsized ~ You + Me (Rose Avenue LP 2014) This is P!ink singing with Dallas Green. Nice perk of star power – making a totally different type of album with a buddy. Ray and I played You + Me the song at our wedding.

Ghosts of Cape Horn ~ Gordon Lightfoot Lesser-known than the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Brandy ~ Looking Glass (1972) As often as I have sung along with this classic tune, I had paid no attention to who performed it. Now I grew up in the 1970s so the clothing, ahem, style, is not unfamiliar but lead singer Elliot Lurie needed to take a cue from his bandmate and at least wear bell bottom jeans. The song still gets 5 stars, but maybe satisfying my curiosity as to the singers was not the best idea.

The rest of the evening’s playlist (not including the 30 or so songs Randy could not get to!):

Burnout ~ Midland

Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne, performed by Joan Baez (I admit, I did not get to this one.)

Simple Man ~ Shinedown (originally by Lynyrd Skynyrd)

68 year old sings ACDCs Highway to Hell omg, I hope I am still rockin’ at 68, 78, 88, 98, 108 LOL

After Insanity (guitar play by Sophie Lloyd)

Havana ~ Camila Cabello feat. Young Thug a thug – her parents must be so proud. LOL

Just a Gigolo ~ Dave TV Version (I didn’t play the one by Marlene Dietrich and David Bowie but it is quite the contrast!)

Kelly Clarkson and Jimmie Fallon Duets

Somewhere in Brooklyn ~Bruno Mars

How ’bout you? I was inspired by my friend Gwen’s post to go with the groove and link up all my notes.

Do you still have 45s? albums? CDs? Have you graduated to streaming? Ever just sit and listen to music at home for the sheer joy of it?

A brief history of the song “Louie Louie”

By Ray Baxter

This iconic song was written by Los Angeles based singer Richard Berry. It was released in 1957 on Flip Records (as a “B” side) by Richard Berry & the Pharaohs.

The 1956 songs “El Loco Cha Cha” by Latin bandleader Rene Touzet and “Havana Moon” by Chuck Berry (no relation) were major influences.

“Louie Louie” became very popular in Washington state with many local bands performing it live. Two bands to actually rerecord it in 1961 were Little Bill & the Bluenotes on Topaz records, and Rockin’ Robin Roberts & the Wailers (nothing to do with Bob Marley’s group); it was this latter version where the arrangement was dramatically changed from Berry’s original. Then in April 1963 within a week of each other, two local bands from Portland, Oregon also recorded “Louie Louie;” they were Paul Revere & the Raiders and The Kingsmen.

The most popular version is the Kingsmen’s recording, and it is likely the result of the supposed “dirty lyrics” that caused an uptick in sales. An official investigation was started by the FBI, but nothing was found regarding the lyrics; interestingly at the 54 second mark the drummer curses when dropping a drumstick but this the FBI did not take note of. The actual lyrics (on next page) are quite simple and tell the story of a Jamaican sailor returning home to see his love interest. The sailor is chatting with a bartender whose name is Louie.

There are numerous musical mistakes made by Jack Ely (lead singer of the Kingsmen) and my friend and R&R historian Randy Hill told me the following:

“The Kingsmen recorded in Portland at 10:00 on a Saturday morning in 1963. The studio was actually normally a musical theater setting. The Kingsmen’s manager wanted to get a “live” feel, so he had the recording engineer raise the mic far off the stage floor. Jack Ely stood in the middle of the musicians. He was kinda sick (not drunk) that morning, plus he had braces on his teeth. Add to this the fact that he had to lean back and yell up at the mic, and you can see how everything came out slurred.

The first take was supposed to be a sound check. The drummer yelled “fxxx” shortly into the song, although it’s unintelligible. Ely came in too soon after the break and started over. Ely’s yelling “Let’s give it to ’em” and “Let’s move on outta here” supposedly came from the Wailers. Anyway, the Kingsmen were aghast that their manager wanted to release the mic check as the record. They begged him to let them do the song again, hut he was adamant that this had the raw sound he had hoped to get. The rest is history.”

Richard Berry sold the rights to most of his music (including “Louie Louie”) in 1959 for $750 to finance his upcoming wedding. Despite all the success of his signature song, during much of his adult life he saw no benefit. But then with the help of an attorney Richard was able to reclaim the rights to his song and received in 1992 his first royalty check for $2 million. Sadly, less than five years later in January 1997 he died at the age of 61 due to heart failure.

By some counts there are more than 1600 released versions of “Louie Louie” making it one of the most recorded Rock & Roll songs ever.