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Most rock bands have one primary singer. Though other members might contribute background vocals, harmonies, or an off-beat album track, it’s somewhat unusual to see different vocalists in the lead role, on a consistent basis.  There are some bands that consistently featured two lead singers (e.g. Cream – Bruce/Clapton, Simon and Garfunkel, Styx – DeYoung/Shaw, The Cars – Ocasek/Orr), but few who exceeded that.  Even more uncommon is to see a band have a string of hit songs, featuring different lead vocalists.  The bands listed below have done just that.

  1. Chicago (Robert Lamm – “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?, Terry Kath – “Colour My World”, Peter Cetera – “25 or 6 to 4”)
  2. The Doobie Brothers (Tom Johnston – “China Grove”, Patrick Simmons – “Black Water”, Michael McDonald – “Takin’ It to the Streets”)
  3. Pink Floyd (Roger Waters – “Another Brick in the Wall”, David Gilmour – “Money”, Richard Wright – some lead vocals on “Time”, Syd Barrett – “Astronomy Domine”)
  4. The Monkees (Micky Dolenz- “Last Train to Clarksville”, Davy Jones – “Daydream Believer”, Michael Nesmith – “Listen to the Band”)
  5. Jefferson Airplane/Starship (Grace Slick – “White Rabbit”, Marty Balin – “Miracles”, Mickey Thomas – “Jane”) Founding member Paul Kantner also sang lead on many of the groups popular album cuts.
  6. The Mama’s and the Papa’s (Though they almost always sang as an ensemble, you can find some lead vocals, like John Phillips – “Creeque Alley”, Denny Doherty – “California Dreaming”, Michelle Phillips – “Dedicated to the One I Love”, Cass Elliot – “Dream a Little Dream of Me”)
  7. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (Stephen Stills – “Woodstock”, Graham Nash – “Our House”, David Crosby – “Wooden Ships”, Neil Young – “Helpless”)
  8. Fleetwood Mac (Stevie Nicks – “Dreams”, Christie McVie – “You Make Loving Fun”, Lindsey Buckingham – “Go Your Own Way”, Peter Green – “Black Magic Woman”)
  9. The Eagles (Don Henley – “Hotel California”, Glenn Frey – “Tequila Sunrise”, Randy Meisner – “Take It to the Limit”, Joe Walsh – “In the City”, Timothy B. Schmit – “I Can’t Tell You Why”)
  10. The Beatles (Paul McCartney – “Yesterday”, John Lennon – “All You Need is Love”, George Harrison – “Something”, Ringo Starr – “Yellow Submarine”)
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  1. Turn the Page (Bob Seger) – Metallica.  This remarkably straight up remake retains all the road weariness of the original, while replacing the iconic saxophone arrangement with a surprisingly effective guitar line.
  2. Sounds of Silence (Simon and Garfunkel) – Disturbed.  The mix of Paul Simon’s epic lyrics, a sweeping orchestral arrangement, and David Draiman’s powerful vocals makes for compelling musical theater.
  3. Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana) – Tori Amos  Somehow Amos’ striped down, piano arrangement manages to build its own strange sort of tension.
  4. Solitary Man (Neil Diamond) – The Sidewinders  A slightly grittier, more muscular version of a Neil Diamond classic.
  5. Hurt (Nine Inch Nails) – Johnny Cash  Cash’s take on this Trent Reznor lamentation is as emotionally raw as anything you’ll ever hear on the radio.
  6. Sweet Jane (The Velvet Underground) – The Cowboy Junkies  The Junkies seem to transport the urban cool of this Lou Reed tune to a roadhouse somewhere in the Midwest.
  7. Bad Company (Bad Company) – Five Finger Death Punch  The ultra-cool original gets a dose of steroids from this Vegas hard-rock outfit.
  8. Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder) – Red Hot Chili Peppers  Though not a radical departure from the original, the Peppers still manage to leave their distinctive fingerprints on it.
  9. Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix) – Sting  The jazzy recasting of this Hendrix classic makes it almost unrecognizable when compared to the original.
  10. Careless Whisper (Wham) – Seether.  Even those of us who loathed the frothy pop of Wham can appreciate Seether’s roughed up arrangement of this chart topper.

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“The Sound Of Silence” – Simon & Garfunkel

 

“Fools” said I, “You do not know

Silence like a cancer grows

Hear my words that I might teach you

Take my arms that I might reach you”

But my words like silent raindrops fell

And echoed in the wells of silence

“Lyin’ Eyes” – The Eagles

 

I guess every form of refuge has its price

*

“This Is The Sea” – The Waterboys

 

These things you keep

You’d better throw them away

You wanna turn your back

On your soulless days

Once you were tethered

And now you are free

Once you were tethered

Well now you are free

That was the river

This is the sea!

*

“Hunger Strike” – Temple of the Dog

 

I don’t mind stealing bread From the mouths of decadence

But I can’t feed on the powerless When my cup’s already overfilled

“Fire And Rain” – James Taylor

 

Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus,

You’ve got to help me make a stand.

You’ve just got to see me through another day.

My body’s aching and my time is at hand

and I won’t make it any other way.

*

“Ship of Fools” – World Party

 

Avarice and greed

Are gonna drive you over the endless sea

They will leave you drifting in the shallows

Drowning in the oceans of history

 *

“Closing Time” – Semisonic

 

Every new beginning comes from some other new beginning’s end

*

“Be Somebody” – Thousand Foot Krutch

 

We’re all see through, just like glass

And we can shatter just as fast

That light’s been burned out for a while,

I still see it every time I pass

It was lost in the corners of my mind,

Behind a box of reasons why

I never doubted it was there,

It just took a little time to find

*

“New York Minute” – Don Henley

 

He had a home

The love of a girl

But men get lost sometimes

As years unfurl

One day he crossed some line

And he was too much in this world

But I guess it doesn’t matter anymore

“Freewill” – Rush

 

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice

 

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“That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” – Carly Simon

My friends from college they’re all married now;

They have their houses and their lawns.

They have their silent noons,

Tearful nights, angry dawns.

Their children hate them for the things they’re not;

They hate themselves for what they are-

And yet they drink, they laugh,

Close the wound, hide the scar.

*

“Slip Slidin’ Away”Paul Simon

I know a woman, (who) became a wife

These are the very words she uses to describe her life

She said a good day ain’t got no rain

She said a bad day is when I lie in the bed And I think of things that might have been

*

“At Seventeen” Janis Ian

To those of us who knew the pain

Of valentines that never came

And those whose names were never called

When choosing sides for basketball

It was long ago and far away

The world was younger than today

And dreams were all they gave for free

To ugly duckling girls like me

 

We all play the game and when we dare

We cheat ourselves at solitaire

Inventing lovers on the phone

Repenting other lives unknown

That call and say – Come dance with me

And murmur vague obscenities

At ugly girls like me, at seventeen

*

“Vincent”Don McLean

And when no hope was left in sight

On that starry, starry night

You took your life, as lovers often do

But I could’ve told you Vincent

This world was never meant for One as beautiful as you

*

“I Can’t Make You Love Me” Bonnie Raitt

I’ll close my eyes ‘Cause then I won’t see

The love you don’t feel When you’re home with me

Morning will come And I’ll do what’s right

Just give me till then To give up this fight

And I will give up this fight

‘Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t

You can’t make your heart feel Somethin’ that it won’t

And here in the dark, in these final hours

I will lay down my heart I’ll feel the power,

but you won’t

No you won’t

‘Cause I can’t make you love me

When you don’t

*

“Two Black Cadillacs”Carrie Underwood

Two months ago his wife called the number on his phone

Turns out he’d been lying to both of them for oh so long

They decided then he’d never get away with doing this to them

Two black Cadillacs waiting for the right time, right time

 

And the preacher said he was a good man

And his brother said he was a good friend

But the women in the two black veils didn’t bother to cry (Bye bye, Bye bye)

Yeah they took turns laying a rose down

Threw a handful of dirt into the deep ground

He’s not the only one who had a secret to hide (Bye bye, bye bye, bye bye)

It was the first and the last time they saw each other face to face

They shared a crimson smile and just walked away

And left the secret at the grave
*

“Hungry Heart”Bruce Springsteen

Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack

I went out for a ride and I never went back

Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowing

I took a wrong turn and I just kept going

*

“Lyin’ Eyes”The Eagles

She gets up and pours herself a strong one

And stares out at the stars up in the sky

Another night, it’s gonna be a long one

She draws the shade and hangs her head to cry

 

She wonders how it ever got this crazy

She thinks about a boy she knew in school

Did she get tired or did she just get lazy?

She’s so far gone she feels just like a fool

 

My, oh my, you sure know how to arrange things

You set it up so well, so carefully

Ain’t it funny how your new life didn’t change things

You’re still the same old girl you used to be

*

“Fast Car”Tracy Chapman

See my old man’s got a problem

He live with the bottle that’s the way it is

He says his body’s too old for working

His body’s too young to look like his

My mama went off and left him

She wanted more from life than he could give

I said somebody’s got to take care of him

So I quit school and that’s what I did

 

You got a fast car Is it fast enough so we can fly away?

We gotta make a decision Leave tonight or live and die this way
*

“Diary”Bread

I found her diary underneath a tree

And started reading about me

The words began to stick

and tears to flow

Her meaning now was clear to see

The love she’d waited for

was someone else not me

Wouldn’t you know it

She wouldn’t show it

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Last Friday evening was Senior Night for the football team, and we parents were encouraged to write a letter to our Senior player.  I’ve pasted a copy of that letter below.  Though his mother is just as proud of him (and he knows it), we agreed that some things need to be said in a father’s voice, and so I wrote it from that perspective.

 

Dear Son

 

Well, here we are closing another chapter from your childhood.  I feel like we’re going to do a lot of that this year.  It seems like you’ve been playing football forever, but I remember the beginning as though it were yesterday.  As much as I was surprised by your brother sticking with the game, it was a no-brainer that this would be a part of your journey.  From your first day on this earth, you were long on passion and short on fear.

 

I remember you playing on the line during Pee-Wee ball.  You were really undersized for your position, but that never stopped you from taking on the biggest guys on the opposing team.  I specifically recall a Unioto scrimmage, where you got low and lifted a kid, who outweighed you by at least 50 pounds, off the ground.  It was just one of those pictures that will forever be etched in my memory, because it helped me to understand who you are.

 

I remember the year when you decided not to play because some of your teammates made you feel like you didn’t belong; but when Coach Bonner called and said the team needed you, you stepped right up.  I remember the year, when the team only had 13 players, and everyone had to play both ways.  Somehow you guys still managed to have a winning season.  And I remember last year, when your arm was shattered in the Clinton-Massie game.  Though people on the sidelines and in the stands were horrified at the sight of it, you never made a sound, and wanted to stay until the game was over.

 

As much as I love football, your participation in the sport has never really been about the game itself.  It was about getting stronger and pushing yourself beyond what you thought you could do.  It was about sticking to a commitment, even when it was hard, and overcoming adversity.  It was about being a part of a team, and making sacrifices for something bigger than yourself.  Ultimately, it was about preparing you for life, and from that standpoint it has been an unmitigated success.

 

Even though we place a huge emphasis on education, life isn’t much like a classroom.  In truth, it’s a lot more like a football field.  The classroom is a controlled environment, with a set script and a seat for every student.  But life is not something we can control, and it cannot be scripted.  It comes with bad field conditions, and injuries, and adversaries who hope to stand in the way of our victory.  It comes with dropped passes, and interceptions, and blindside hits.  In the end, it is our ability to deal with these hardships that sets the stage for our victory.

 

I know that in some ways the final chapter of your football career has been a disappointment.  I know that you never envisioned spending your senior season on the sideline in a cast, but as I’ve watched you cheer on your teammates, and lift your younger brother up, I want you to know that I’m not disappointed.  It takes a far bigger man to celebrate other people having the success they hoped would be their own than it does to make tackles or to catch passes.  I can’t help but admire a man who can set aside his own disappointment and lift up the people around him.  From where I sit, that is the sort of man that you’re becoming.

 

Tonight, as your mother and I walk across the field with you, I will surely shed a few tears (because that’s how I am), but I won’t be sad.  I will be grateful for the years you’ve played, and the teammates and coaches you’ve played with, and the things you’ve learned, and the strength you’ve gained.  I will be thankful for the injuries that never happened, for the care you received for the ones that did; for all the wins, and even for some of the losses.  But most of all, I will be humbled by the privilege of being your dad, and for the man God made you to be.  I love you son, and I couldn’t be more proud of you. 

 

Love Always – Dadsenior-night-16

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  • Ambrosia:  People who’ve only heard their Top 40 hits have no idea what a brilliant and bizarre band this was.  Their first album was engineered by Alan Parsons (of Dark Side of the Moon fame), who went on to produce their second LP (Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled) as well.  After two records filled with symphonic pop opuses and medleys that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Broadway cast album, they turned to a sparkling jazz pop fusion for their most successful records Life Beyond LA and One-Eighty.  The originality, musicianship and vocals on these four albums rank them amongst my favorites of all time.
  • Steve Winwood:  This talented singer has been around for decades and I’ve enjoyed his work through every phase of his career.  Whether it was the blue eyed soul of the Spencer Davis Group (Gimme Some Lovin’), the eclectic improvisation of Traffic (Low Spark of High Heeled Boys), the rootsy blend of Blind Faith (Can’t Find My Way Home), or even the pop sheen of his solo work (Arc of the Diver), he’s proven himself to be one of rock music’s most enduring and talented vocalists.
  • Ricki Lee Jones:  Despite the popularity of her first hit, “Chuck E’s In Love”, it was really her appearance on Saturday Night Live, singing “Coolsville” that grabbed my attention.  I don’t know too many other 15 year old boys who were mesmerized by her blues/jazz/funk/folk/beat poet blend, but something about her startling honesty resonated in my soul.  All these years later, it still does.
  • Dire Straits:  Though Mark Knopfler and his band eventually became a hugely successful pop group, it was the rich textures and soundscapes of their non-radio songs (e.g. Water of Love, Follow Me Home, Romeo and Juliet, Telegraph Road, Brothers In Arms…) that really struck a chord with me.  Perhaps their least commercially viable album, Love Over Gold was, for me, the pinnacle of their catalog.
  • Crowded House:  Born from the ashes of the successful 80’s band, The Split Enz, Neil Finn and his mates (occasionally including brother Tim) produced four memorable albums (Crowded House, Temple of Low Men, Woodface, Together Alone) of smartly written, skillfully performed pop music.  Both witty and wistful, even twenty years removed, much of this music still sparkles.
  • Peter Gabriel:  After a sterling start with art rock pioneers Genesis, this multi-talented artist forged a highly successful career as a solo performer.  His music was always original (Games Without Frontiers), sometimes peculiar (Shock the Monkey), frequently poignant (Biko, Don’t Give Up, The Book of Love) and consistently compelling (Solsbury Hill, San Jacinto, In Your Eyes, Blood of Eden).
  • Til Tuesday:  Though the band’s singer had the look of a punk rocker, and their first big hit Voices Carry was an MTV sensation, it was ultimately the unpretentious distinctiveness of lead singer Aimee Mann that made them memorable.  After the stir caused by their debut release, their follow up albums Welcome Home and Everything’s Different Now were considered commercial failures.  Yet, artistically they were both a giant leap in texture and tone.  Upon the breakup of the band, Mann went on to have an admirable solo career.
  • Tears for Fears:  Though the band featured numerous talented musicians and collaborators, it was essentially the creative vehicle for singer/songwriter Roland Orzabal.  Their 1982 debut The Hurting chronicled his painful childhood and largely featured a moody synthesizer sound, not unlike The Cure.  Their second record, Songs from the Big Chair, featured a much less subdued tone and became a huge international pop hit.  Orzabal continued his evolution with the soulful, and at times beatlesque, release Sowing the Seeds of Love, and a fourth release Elemental, which was essentially a solo album.  Despite the changing styles, the music remained fresh and compelling.
  • The Innocence Mission:  This Pennsylvania based folk band featured husband and wife team Karen and Don Peris, who garnered a fair amount air time on Alternative radio stations in the early to mid-1990s.  Though their records did not achieve platinum success, the hauntingly beautiful songs featured on their first three releases (The Innocence Mission, Umbrella, Glow) make them a standout amongst their contemporaries.
  • Steely Dan:  To call the musical musings of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker unique would be a vast understatement.  Fagen’s distinctive vocal style, combined with wry lyrics, complex jazz influenced arrangements, virtuoso musicianship (e.g. Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Jeff Porcaro), and pristine production values resulted in a sound that could not be duplicated.  Though they seemed an unlikely pair for pop radio success, they managed to create a string of successful and memorable records that spanned the 1970s and 80s.

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Given the requisite age of rock stars from the late 1960s, and early 1970s, it’s not really surprising that many of these pop culture icons are passing away.  This last week has seen two significant figures from the world of rock and roll step into the annals of music history.  Last week is was David Bowie, whose eclectic collection of musical styles, and personas, made him impossible to categorize.  If you’ve never listened to his music, here are ten cuts worth seeking out:

 

  1. Space Oddity (from the 1969 album, “Space Oddity”)
  2. Changes (from the 1971 album, “Hunky Dory”)
  3. Ziggy Stardust (from the 1972 album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars”)
  4. Suffragette City (from the 1972 album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars”)
  5. Rebel, Rebel (from the 1974 album, “Diamond Dogs”)
  6. Fame (from the 1975 album, “Young Americans”)
  7. Golden Years (from the 1976 album, “Station to Station”)
  8. Ashes to Ashes (from the 1980 album, “Scary Monsters”)
  9. Fashion (from the 1980 album, “Scary Monsters”)
  10. Under Pressure – w/Queen (released in 1981 as a single, and included on the 1982 Queen album, “Hot Spaces”)

 

in recent days, Glenn Frey, of the band “The Eagles”, also passed away.  After starting out as background singers for Linda Ronstadt, Frey and drummer Don Henley went on to form what became one of the most successful rock bands of all-time.  Though detractors have often criticized the groups soft-rock, country tinged sound, the music buying public devoured their records, and turned out in mass for their concerts.  If you’ve never listened to their music, here are ten cuts work seeking out:

 

  1. Peaceful Easy Feeling (from the 1972 album, “Eagles”)
  2. Desperado (from the 1973 album, “Desperado”)
  3. Bitter Creek (from the 1973 album, “Desperado”)
  4. Best of My Love (from the 1974 album, “On the Border”)
  5. One of These Nights (from the 1975 album, “One of These Nights”)
  6. Lyin’ Eyes (from the 1975 album, “One of These Nights”)
  7. Hotel California (from the 1976 album, “Hotel California”)
  8. Life in the Fast Lane (from the 1976 album, “Hotel California”)
  9. Wasted Time (from the 1976 album, “Hotel California”)
  10. Seven Bridges Road (from the 1980 album “Eagles Live”)

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