Early morning, April four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky.
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride.
“Pride (In the Name of Love) – U2”
Joseph Louw / The LIFE Images Collection via Getty
I recall the day like it was yesterday. I was a junior at Brien McMahon High School, Norwalk, CT, in 1968, 50 years ago. I learned from the evening news that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. It paralyzed my heart. I felt lost. I was a great admirer of Dr. King and his non-violent teachings. How could someone do such a thing?
If you ever get to Memphis please visit and honor Dr. King’s memory. The Lorraine Hotel hosts the National Civil Rights Museum. We saw the balcony and the vintage cars from the Memphis tour van a couple of years ago. A moment forever frozen in time. A humbling moment. You’ll feel his spirit there.
Yes is a progressive rock band that I return to often as their music echoes as poetry in the Music Of Our Heart. I obtained this issue of The Ultimate Music Guide Yes via the Uncut North America Digital Magazine Music Store. I couldn’t find it in my local magazine rack at Barnes & Noble. Isn’t that what my iPad Pro and the Web is designed to accomplish 😉
I look back with an awesome sense of wonder how the music in 1968 established my artistic consciousness. In those days I was listening to 12″ vinyl records on a hi-fi phonograph in my room and progressive rock music on a boom-box like radio from WNEW-FM 102.7 in New York City.
My Facebook music feed uncovered a new book from that era, Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 by Ryan Harris. (Thanks, Chris Morris…)
If you have any affinity for the Van Morrison sui-generis masterpiece recording Astral Weeks you should read Jon Michaud’s New Yorker article, “The Miracle of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks”. The article will whet your appetite to pursue further discovery surrounding the recording as well as the impact Boston had on Van Morrison’s muse in 1968.
When I think of the Bosstown Sound 1968 I flash on Ultimate Spinach, Beacon Street Union, Earth Opera, and Orpheus. Ryan Walsh expands substantially on the cultural experience Boston provided in 1968. I am elated to learn how the Boston scene proved integral to Van Morrison and Astral Weeks. I have always associated Astral Weeks with the hills of San Francisco. Little did I realize the astral plane was formed elsewhere.
Astral Weeks is one of a handful of LPs that I return to often. There is a special magic to these particular Van Morrison’s songs.
This video from the WNET Channel 13 Public Television Fillmore East broadcast, which I recall watching on my black and white TV complete with tin foil rabbit ears, shows Van getting caught one more time in “Cypress Avenue”. Watch the introduction from the late Bill Graham that captures Van’s essence perfectly why “It’s Too Late To Stop Now”.
Today, February 21st, 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the release date of the classical Columbia Records recording, Child is the Father to the Man by Blood, Sweat & Tears.
It has always been one of my top listens. I love the flow of the album, beginning with the “Overture”, then continuing with original songs by Al Kooper and Steve Katz. The album always calls me in refreshing, haunting fashion.
I have a framed LP album cover signed by Al Kooper and Steve Katz. I recommend both of their music biographies. Al Kooper’s Backstage Passes & Backstabbing Bastards and Steve Katz’s Blood, Sweat and My Rock ‘N’ Roll Years. Each musician provides a unique perspective on the first B, S, & T recording session and what that time was like for them.
Child is Father to the Man is a pastiche that borrows styles from Greenwich Village contemporary folk to San Francisco acid rock and mixes them into a new American musical form. The songs, “Without Her” by Harry Nilsson and “Morning Glory” by Tim Buckley evidence those trends.
My personal favorite track changes from time to time. Right now it’s “Just One Smile” by Randy Newman a very early song in his repertoire.
Do yourself a favor, wake up to your mind and give a listen to one of rock’s real masterpieces, Child is Father to the Man on this 50th anniversary celebration day. The recording is still fresh and vibrant all these decades later.
Blood, Sweat & Tears
- Randy Brecker – trumpet, flugelhorn
- Bobby Colomby – drums, percussion; backing vocals (tracks 4, 10)
- Jim Fielder – bass guitar, fretless bass guitar
- Dick Halligan – trombone
- Steve Katz – guitars; lead vocals (tracks 3, 8); backing vocals (tracks 3); lute (track 6)
- Al Kooper – organ, piano; lead vocals (tracks 2, 4-7, 9-12); ondioline (track 8)
- Fred Lipsius – piano, alto saxophone
- Jerry Weiss – trumpet, flugelhorn; backing vocals (track 4)
Moving into 2018, I reflect upon the music released 50 years ago in 1968. This was the year I started collecting records and reading Rolling Stone in earnest. The cover story of Shindig! Magazine, Issue 75, January 2018 features a smartly designed psychedelic cover to commiserate the era.
Some of the more interesting albums released in January 1968 according to Wikipedia were, Vincebus Eruptum by Blue Cheer which gave us heavy metal.
Spirit’s début album.
The first album from Canadian rock group, Steppenwolf.