When I'm listening to a song for the first couple of times, I'm not focused on it, I'm just enjoying it, feeling it, and being with it. Sometimes you hear a song for the first time, and one particular lyric will define the song for you, regardless of the songwriter's intent. Such was the case when I heard Taj Mahal's cover of "Take A Giant Step". Taj Mahal recorded the song in 1969 for his double album, " Giant Step / De Ole Folks At Home". What I didn't know at the time was that this was a cover of someone else's song.
I distinctly remember being in my car, and the lyric "Come with me, leave your yesterday, your yesterday behind, And take a giant step outside your mind". Without paying attention to the rest of the song, I thought the song had some life / mind expanding message... similar to Bob Marley's Redemption Song lyric "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds." I became so infatuated with my mistaken interpretation of the lyric, that I thought it would be a great song for a blog entry... (and yes, I'm doing it anyway, just not the way I originally intended).
When I researched the song, I was surprised several times. Not only did I learn that Taj Mahal did NOT write "Take A Giant Step", Carol King did. I also discovered it also wasn't about freeing one's self from entrapping beliefs, it was about getting over a relationship gone bad. Of course, Carol King, the high Queen of relationships both good and bad, wrote it. (Don't get me wrong, I love Carol King). Ready for one more ? The recording artists to first bring the song to prominence were none other than The Monkees.... (and don't get me wrong here either, I love The Monkees too... proceed to disown me now if you will, but yes, I love The Monkees.... some of the best damn pop songs from the 60's, played by some of the damn session men (aka The Wrecking Crew) from the 60's, sung by some of the best damn voices of the 60's, but I digress.
Read these lyrics, and if you know nothing else about the song, tell me you don't think it's not about someone searching for and finding a way to happier mindset.
"Remember the feeling as a child
When you woke up and morning smiled
It's time, it's time, it's time you felt like that again...
...Come with me leave your yesterday, your yesterday behind
And take a giant step outside your mind "
It's the following lyrics, which I never really paid that much attention to, that really express the song's true intend.
"Though you flayed at love and lost
And sorrow's turned your heart to frost
I will mend your heart again...
...There is just no percentage in remembering the past
It's time you learned to live again and love at last
Don't sit there, in your lonely room
Just looking back inside that gloom
Mama, that's not where you belong
Though you've played the love and lost
And sorrows have turned your heart to frost
I will mend your heart again"
Here's a link to the Carol King version, which she used to pitch the song for other recording artists, well before her claim to fame as a recording artist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUJunzOT6YE
Various sources list the group, Rising Sons as the original recording artists of the song, in March of 1966. It was shortly after that, that The Monkees released the song as the flip side to their fist hit single Last Train To Clarksville. Their version was a mix between Carol King's folk singer feel, and the Rising Sons rock/pop version, in August of the same year.
But as I said previously, it was Taj Mahal's version, recorded three years later that has become my favorite cover. It's a totally different reworking of the song, and bears a listen, if you're even a casual listen of Taj Mahal's music, which you should be. Here's a link to a very recent live version of Taj Mahal performing the song, at the Crawfish Festival in New Jersey ( June 2018). It's very close to the way recorded the song 49 years ago. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-dinLChwA4
If you get a chance, check out the different versions of the song, and let me which one you like best. And please feel free to share this with all your music loving friends.
Until then, leave your yesterday's behind, and take a giant step outside your mind.
I mentioned not too long ago that I was working on a new project... my original Rock and Roll coloring book, or The Super Terrific Mind Blowing Fantasmagorical Rock n Roll Coloring Book to be exact. Born out of my love of cool music, the coloring book consists of 33 original hand drawn cartoon illustrations, inspired by Rock, Jazz and The Blues. Some are inspired by actual song titles such as Steve Miller's Space Cowboy and Bachman Turner Overdrive's Takin' Care of Business, others are inspired by an entire song, just a musical riff, or the a musical story / legend.
Why a cartoon Rock n Roll coloring book you ask ? I love music and I love cartoons. Since you're reading this, I'm guessing you do too. The coloring book market is basically broken down into two categories... the blockbuster movie, top rated TV show for kids, or the endless array of mandelas and "find the secret picture as you color" for adults. All well and good, but what is there for music fans ? Who wants to color Avengers or endless patterns on a page when rocking out to Zeppelin ? It's just not a fit in my opinion.
Listening to music used to be an experience, especially if it was vinyl and especially if it was your first listen.. remember holding an albums jacket for the first time as you listened to it play on your turntable ? Remember reading the credits, and studying the album art as you relaxed in your special "listening " place ? I do...
Now... as you listen to that CD or iTunes purchase for the first time, or what ever "jacket-less" form you experience you music in, you can just grab your crayons, relax, color and truly absorb your new music. Take a 10-15 minute break from your "day", unwind and enjoy.
If you like to color, or know someone who does, here's a link to my book... personally, I think it could be a great gift idea.
The Super Terrific Mind Blowing Fantasmagorical Rock n Roll Coloring Book
Depending on sources, "And The Cradle Will Rock" was the only single released from Van Halen's third album "Women And Children First". Loosely playing off the classic nursery rhyme, "Rockabye Baby" , the song relates the often told story of a rebellious teen casting aside his parent's plans, wishes and desires for the power of rock-n-roll. Like many of the Van Halen songs during David Lee Roth's tenure with the band, "And The Cradle Will Rock" straddles both sides of the Hard Rock /Pop Rock fence.
Released 38 years ago (that's right), Women and Children First was an album of several firsts for the band. It was the first Van Halen album to feature songs written exclusively by the band members. According to Wikipedia, it is also, the only Van Halen album to contain female backing vocals on any of it's tracks. The late Nicolette Larsen sings in the chorus of "Could This Be Magic". She had her own hit single two years prior with Neil Young's "A Lotta Love". "Women and Children First" also introduced the world to Eddie Van Halen, keyboard player. A role he would prominently fill on their sixth album (1984) , four years later, on their only number song, "Jump".
This was created entirely in ProCreate on my iPad Pro. I sketched this out on the initial layer, which has since been eliminated from this final design. My normal process when Procreate (so far), is to do a very loose sketch in red... then while fading that out so it's not so prominent, use a new layer on top of that, using a dark blue pencil brush, that tightens up the first red sketch. Once I'm happy with that, I add a third layer, using a black "ink" and an inking pen brush. I'm still trying to decide which one I like and have best control over. For those who don't know, alot of the brushes in Procreate are pressure sensitive, so the strength of the line will be effected by the amount of pressure I use when drawing the line, intentional or not. Alot of the brushes are named after famous cartoonists or in one case a cartoon character. I'm currently bouncing back and forth between ones named after Robert Crumb, Charles Schultz, Jim Davis and Bugs Bunny.
I then delete the two preliminary sketch layers since they no longer serve a purpose, and add my "color" layer, below my black ink layer. I used water color brushes here. I'm still into experimenting with this technique. I think it brings a little more life to the design than just flat colors. Finally I just wanted to rough up the design overall, so I used a texture brush made up of random white lines and faded that out a bit as well so it wouldn't dominate the design.
That's it for now folks. Let me know what you think in the comments below. If you have a friend who's big into Van Halen, or music in general, please share this with them. I'd love to hear what they ink as well. This is an evolutionary thing after all. And if you listen to the radio, don't worry, remember... "...they say it's kinda frightnin', how this younger generation swings"
There's been alot happening in the MartyToons Studios since my post.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of exhibiting for the second time in three years at DarkSide Records' Outdoor Bazaar. For those unfamiliar, DarkSide Records is a used and new vinyl record store, in the city of Poughkeepsie NY. Since it opened several years ago, it's become my favorite place to shop. It's inventory of vinyl, as well as musical accessores, is huge, and excellent. If you're in the Poughkeepsie area and a music enthusiast like myself, it's a must stop. Exhibiting at the Bazaar was a lot of fun, and a learning experience. As a graphic artist creating designs influenced by music, it was good to see what attracted people and what people walked past without giving a second look. It was also good to see what other like minded artists were creating. What I discovered, is that a lot of hard core music fans like their "graphics" with a little bit of an edge. So you may start seeing that in some of my newer designs, but let me know what you'd like to see... edgy, cute , humorous ? Let me know.
Some of you might have noticed that I've had a decreased presence on Social Media lately. That would be due to a big project I undertook, thanks to some really great words of advice from one of my online friends, (I should probably say "Mentor"), the fantastic Ronnie Walter. Hi Ronnie !!! The first ever MartyToons Rock n Roll Coloring Book is now available on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/TERRIFIC-BLOWING-FANTASMAGORICIAL-ROCK-n-ROLL-COLORING/dp/1718973322/ref=sr_1_19?ie=UTF8&qid=1530467341&sr=8-19&keywords=rock%20and%20roll%20coloring%20book It's filled with over 30 original cartoon designs, by yours truly, deeply influenced by my passion for music, particularly Rock, Blues and Jazz. If you ask me, it makes a great gift for your music loving friends and family members... (hint hint). And if you need to relieve a little stress, or enjoy those care free hours, it could be a great gift to yourself as well.
What's coming up next ? I had the pleasure of meeting an enthusiastic Van Halen fan while at the DarkSide Bazaar, who also bought one of my Cool Rockin' Daddy aluminum prints https://www.martytoons.com/store/p2/Cool_Rockin%27_Daddy_Aluminum_Sign.html
So my next blog post will be based on a Van Halen classic. I'm pretty sure which song I'm going with, but it's not set in stone, so let me know what you're favorite Van Halen song is and maybe I can be swayed.
It's a safe bet that most people have heard the song, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", either from Disney's The Lion King, or Top 40 Radio, during the 60's and 70's courtesy of The Tokens and Robert John. "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"s origins though, predate The Tokens 1961 record release by almost 30 years.
Originally recorded and written by Zulu songwriter Solomon Linda and his band The Evening Birds for the South African Gallo Record Company in 1939, under the title "Mbube", (Zulu for "lion") the song sold over 100,000 copies in Africa and among black South African immigrants in Great Britain, by 1948.
In 1949, Alan Lomax, working as folk music director for Decca Records, brought Solomon Linda's 78 recording to the attention of his friend Pete Seeger. Seeger then recorded a version of the song with his group, The Weavers. Calling their version “Wimoweh”, the word Seeger thought he was hearing in the chorus, their 1952 record became a top 20 hit. The writing credit went to “Paul Campbell,” a pseudonym for the group. There was no mention of Solomon Linda, and he never earned any money from the sales. Pete Seeger had said of the publishing situation, “I didn’t realize what was going on, and I regret it. I have always left money up to other people. I was kind of stupid.”
In the 1950s, after Linda's authorship was made clear, Seeger sent Linda $1000. Seeger also instructed TRO/Folkways to henceforth pay his share of authors' earnings to Linda. The folksinger apparently trusted his publisher's word of honor and either saw no need, or was unable to make sure these instructions were carried out. Solomon Linda died in poverty from kidney disease in 1962 at age 53.
In 2000, South African journalist Rian Malan wrote a feature article for Rolling Stone magazine in which he recounted Linda's story and estimated that the song had earned $15 million for its use in the Disney movie The Lion King alone. That article prompted filmmaker François Verster to create the Emmy-winning documentary A Lion's Trail, which told Linda's story while also exposing the workings of the multi-million dollar corporate music publishing industry.
In July 2004, as a result of the publicity generated by Malan's article and the subsequent documentary, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" became the subject of a lawsuit between Linda's estate and Disney, claiming that Disney owed $1.6 million in royalties for the use of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in the film and musical stage productions of The Lion King. At the same time, the Richmond Organization began to pay $3,000 annually into Linda's estate. As part of the settlement with Abilene Music, which owns the publishing rights, Linda's heirs receive 25% of past and future royalties from the song, which are considerable since it is used in so many movies and still receives airplay.
A Token Reference... The Tokens, had a Top 15 hit "Tonight I Fell in Love" in 1960, but didn't have a label deal in 1961. They auditioned for producers Hugo and Luigi (Peretti and Creatore) by singing "Wimoweh" to them. Hugh and Luigi were impressed by the performance but decided that the song needed new lyrics. With help from George Weiss, Hugo and Luigi rewrote the song, giving it the title "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." The Tokens were so embarrassed with the new title and lyrics that they fought the release of the recording (it was scheduled to be the B-side of another "import," a Portuguese song that they recorded in the same May 1961 session, "Tina").
A more detailed history of Solomon Linda's sad story relating to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" can be found here.
Interested in hearing Solomon Linda and The Evening Birds's original version ? Click here...
Other sources for the article are below:
"(Don't Fear) The Reaper" has the unique distinction of being one of rock's most misunderstood songs, and spawning a famous Saturday Night Live skit. It was written and sung by Blue Oyster Cult's lead guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser, for the band's Agents of Fortune album in 1976. The song was the sole reason I bought the album upon it's release. I was thrilled at what a great album it is in it's entirety. The album is filled with hook laden hard rock pop.
Long thought of as a song about suicide, according to "Dharma" the song actually deals with eternal love, the inevitability of death, and the foolishness of fearing it. As recent as 2005, he insisted suicide is not what the song is about... “That was never what I had in mind when I wrote it. It’s more to do with recognizing the inevitability of death, and postulating and celebrating the hope that there is an afterlife.” - http://teamrock.com/feature/2005-08-09/blue-oyster-cult-story-behind-don-t-fear-the-reaper
The very specific lyric "Romeo and Juliet are together in eternity" has led many listeners, including myself, to interpret the song to be about a suicide, but Dharma says he used Romeo and Juliet as motifs to describe a couple believing they would meet again in the afterlife. "I felt that I had just achieved some kind of resonance with the psychology of people when I came up with that, I was actually kind of appalled when I first realized that some people were seeing it as an advertisement for suicide or something that was not my intention at all. It is, like, not to be afraid of [death] (as opposed to actively bring it about). It's basically a love song where the love transcends the actual physical existence of the partners."
— Buck Dharma, lead singer
"Don't Fear The Reaper" would also gain a long shelf life in horror movies, starting two years after it's release, in John Carpenter's original version of Halloween in 1978.
It would later get a mention in Bill and Ted's Bogus Adventure, https://www.quotes.net/mquote/9642 . After a brief break, the song would start to appear again. In 1994, it was featured in Stephen King's TV mini series The Stand. In 2000, in what has become one of Saturday Night Live's most famous skits, the song's prominent use of a cowbell is hilariously parodied by Will Ferrell, Christopher Walken and other members of the SNL cast. The skit's popularity even resulted in a few CD compilations of songs with heavy use of a cowbell. " Don't Fear The Reaper " would raise it's melodic head twice more, in 2007 in Rob Zombie's Halloween remake, and also in 2009, in the Woody Harrelson film, Zombieland.
You can seek the Saturday Night Live sketch below. Special note, check out Jimmy Fallon's inability to keep a straight face at the 3:26 mark.
So whether Romeo and Juliet and the seasons don't fear the reaper or not, I am very happy not being like they are. I'm content to keep doodling and find some more musical tidbits to share with you guys.
If there's a song you were wondering about, history, facts or fiction and would like me to try and dig some up about it, and come up with a cartoon sketch for it, let me.
Till next time, if your curtains flow open and he appears, saying don't be afraid.. take my advice... be afraid and get better windows.
Cross Road Blues was written by blues icon Robert Johnson in 1936. Over time, and perhaps with more than a little help from Eric Clapton, the song is more commonly known in rock and roll circles as Crossroads. The song tells the now mythic tale of a man who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for an extraordinary gift (in Robert Johnson's case, incredible guitar skills).
Selling one's soul to the devil for fame and fortune is a familiar scenario. It's been played out in endless comedy sketches, movies and songs, but history bears witness to Robert Johnson's particular case. More than a few books regardiing the blues, (Robert Palmer's Deep Blues in particular), contain interviews from other iconic bluesmen, Son House especially, who recall Robert Johnson being a sub par guitarist at best. House had recounted how Johnson, after trying to make it and failed, as a blues guitarist, traveled around the South for a short time and returned to the Delta region with incredible guitar skills. Their only conclusion, (backed up Robert Johnson's own account), was that his skills were indeed obtained from Satan in exchange for his soul. Johnson would further fuel rumors about his "deal with the devil" in his song "Me And The Devil Blues". In the song, Johnson sings "...When you knocked upon my door, And I said 'hello Satan' I believe it's time to go."
Unfortunately for Robert Johnson, his widespread fame would not come for almost 30 years after his death. Discovered by young British blues fans, such as The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, and of course Eric Clapton, Robert Johnson and fellow blues musicians such as Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf's music experienced a renaissance in the early and mid 1960's, that still exists today.
Although "Crossroads" had been recorded a handful of times since Robert Johnson version, notably Elmore James, and a pre Cream Eric Clapton, with a young Steve Winwood, Jack Bruce and Paul Jones in tow (the one shot group The Powerhouse - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross_Road_Blues), it wasn't until Clapton recorded the now iconic version with Cream in 1966, that Crossroads became the song recognized by millions of rock fans today, although with some minor editing on Mr. Clapton's part. Cream's version contain the lyrics " Going Down to Rosedale, take my rider my side" which are actually lyrics from another Robert Johson song, Travelin' Riverside Blues... http://www.metrolyrics.com/traveling-riverside-blues-lyrics-robert-johnson.html
You can see Robert Johnson's original lyrics here... https://genius.com/Robert-johnson-cross-road-blues-lyrics and you can Clapton's revised lyrics here... https://genius.com/Cream-crossroads-lyrics
And finally, you can hear Robert Johnson's original version of Cross Road Blues, here... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yd60nI4sa9A
Additional sources for this post are https://timscoverstory.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/cross-road-bluescrossroads-robert-johnson-and-cream/ and http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1285
Released in 1967 on Richie Havens' debut album, FOLLOW is one of my favorite new old songs. I started to re-discover the music of Richie Havens a few years ago. I had been a semi fan, but I started to dig a little deeper into his song catalog, when a good friend (Hi Debi), told me to listen to Follow, and I fell in love with it. It's now one of my all time favorite songs... one of those songs that makes you shush the entire room when it comes on, and makes you crank it and sing it out loud when you're alone.
Written by songwriter Jerry Merrick, Follow is a song about having the strength to find and pursue you're true purpose. The lyrics are a gentle push for us to listen to our inner voice. The lyrics open with "Let the river rock you like a cradle...Climb to the treetops, child, if you're able" urging us to have faith in our "dreams" and use them to find our true path in life.
But the singer acknowledges that that road calling may not be easy, "And close your eyes, child, and listen to what I'll tell you. Follow in the darkest night the sounds that may impel you. And the song that I am singing may disturb or serve to quell you." We're reminded of the expected norms society has set for us, but we're encourage to push forward.... "While the church bell tolls its one-note song, And the school bell is tinkling to the throng. Come here where your ears cannot hear."
The singer asks us to have the courage to live our lives for ourselves instead of living up to other's expectations... "And close your eyes, child, and look at what I'll show you; Let your mind go reeling out and let the breezes blow you, And maybe when we meet then suddenly I will know you.", or is the singer actually our own self conscious, begging us to be true to ourselves ?
For those of us who can't believe, those of us too rooted in what's expected of us, there is an out..."If all the things you feel ain't what they seem. And don't mind me 'cos I ain't nothin' but a dream". But I truly hope you don't take it.
FOLLOW is a beautiful song... I hope you take the time listen to it if you aren't familiar with it. Here is a link to Richie Haven's version... enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjefIsixrfU
Here in upstate NY, we've been experiencing the doldrums of winter. You know that feeling... cold chilly air, gray cloudy skies... the happy sense of carefreeness that the holiday had brought is gone... a new year has started, and for alot of people that also brings a time of reflection and maybe even some reevaluation. That feeling is well represented by Simon and Garfunkel's 1966 classic, A Hazy Shade of Winter. For those two young to remember back that far, you might recall The Bangles recording of it from 1987, for the Robert Downey Jr. classic, Less Than Zero (yes, the word classic is used very loosely).
I have to admit, all the times I listened to the song, I never really paid attention to the lyrics. I loved the tone of the song and just appreciated it for that alone. While searching for a song about winter to post this time around, A Hazy Shade of Winter popped up and I was intrigued. At face value, the lyrics are pretty depressing. Paul Simon uses the gray bleakness of the season as a metaphor for a midlife collapse of one's vision of their life. The singer has reached a point in his life where his dreams have died. The song uses the past tense and images of regret to convey a sense of surrender to failure..." Time, time See what's become of me. While I looked around for my possibilities, I was so hard to please", "Hang on to your hopes my friend, that's an easy thing to say".
There's even a sense of death, of dreams and perhaps even our narrator... "But if your hopes should pass away, Simply pretend That you can build them again." and "Seasons change with the scenery, weaving time in a tapestry, won't you stop and remember me at any convenient time? "
The singer's sense of despair is so bleak it's overwhelming. Do we as the listeners allow ourselves to be overcome as well, or do we take offense to his telling us to just pretend to build our dreams again ? Do we defend our dreams and keep pushing to make them a reality ? I live on the push side of the fence, and I hope you do too.
So if your leaves are brown and sky is a hazy shade of winter... knuckle down, gut it out, and believe. Warmer weather is coming and with it, clear skies. Stay true to your dreams and don't pretend... believe.
Written by Paul McCartney for the The Beatles 1968 "White Album", Blackbird is associated with the Civil Rights movement. While this is a subject Paul McCartney has addressed in numerous interviews, I think the song can also act as a metaphor for personal struggle, not just racial.
It's easy to succomb to personal set backs, whether it's in a career, a relationship or even financial, but we really have to ? Alexander Graham Bell said " When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us." (http://thinkexist.com/quotation/when_one_door_closes-another_opens-but_we_often/12671.html)
"Take these broken wings and learn to fly....
All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise...
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see...
All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to be free...
Black bird fly... Into the Light of the dark black night...
Full lyrics can read here... https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beatles/blackbird.html
So when dealt an unfortunate set of circumstance, ask yourself if it's really an opportunity instead. Is this indeed the moment you've been waiting for ? Even better, is this chance going to come again ? The New Year is supposed to be a time for renewal, commitment and rejuvenation. So my promise to myself, and feel free to do the same if you haven't already, is to take your wings, broken or not, and learn to fly... and to recognize, that yes perhaps you have been, all your life, waiting for this moment to arise.
Happy New Year everyone.
It can be argued that some of our fondest childhood memories leave a lasting impression for the rest of our lives. Such is the case with "Do You Hear What I Hear?", one of my all time favorite Christmas songs.
Back in the 1960s, variety shows were very popular on TV. Carol Burnett, Dean Martin, Flip Wilson and Glen Campbell hosted some of the most popular versions of this now non existent TV show format. The favorite variety show in my parents house, though, was The Andy Williams Show, and it was on this show that I first heard Do You Hear What I Hear. 30 seconds into Andy's version is all it took to make me fall in love with his version. Andy Williams iconic ,calm, soothing tone, dramatically rises, combined with the choir acting as the sound of wind, and heralds the rise of the bright night star that signals the birth of Christ in Bethlehem.
Written by Noël Regney and Gloria Shayne Baker in 1962, "Do You Hear What I Hear" was a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis. According to a 2008 Los Angeles Times article about the death of Gloria Shayne Baker, who composed the music, Noel Regney wrote the lyrics "Said the night wind to the little lamb, Do you see what I see ?" and "Pray for peace people everywhere" after watching infants being rolled in strollers by their parents, on the streets of New York. Baker is quoted as saying "Noel wrote a beautiful song," Baker told an interviewer years later, "and I wrote the music. We couldn't sing it, though. . . . Our little song broke us up. You must realize there was a threat of nuclear war at the time."
Released shortly after Thanksgiving in time for the Christmas season in 1962, the song was originally recorded by the Harry Simeone Chorale, but it was Bing Crosby's version in 1963 that catapulted the song into popular Christmas radio rotation. Since then, the song has been covered by legendary recording artists, both old and new, as Perry Como, Jim Nabors, Ann Murray, The Carpenters, Patti LaBelle, Martina McBride, and even Bob Dylan on his 2009 Christmas album, and as a duet between Rosie O'Donnell and Sesame Street's Elmo.
I created this in ProCreate on my iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. I took the opportunity to play with some new brushes and techniques. I learned a little of what to do and what not to do. I tried to capture the essence of the song's lyrics, which in my opinion are very descriptive. I'm reminded alot of the animated Christmas classic, The Little Drummer Boy by this song. http://christmas-specials.wikia.com/wiki/The_Little_Drummer_Boy
With that said, I hope you've enjoyed this latest edition of my blog. I also hope this Christmas season finds you and your's healthy and happy. Merry Christmas everyone.
Released by The Byrds, in 1967, "So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star" is,at first listen, about the desire to become a rock and roll star. Numerous stories attribute the song being written in response to The Monkees rise to fame, often nicknamed the "Prefab Four, and whose television series had recently debuted in America. In later interviews, both Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman, (the song's writers) claimed the song was in response to the state of the music industry in general at the time.
The following is taken from "History of The Byrds", Zigzag, Frame, Pete. (February 1973), "We were thumbing through a teen magazine and looking at all the unfamiliar faces and we couldn't help thinking: 'Wow, what's happening...all of a sudden here is everyone and his brother and his sister-in-law and his mother and even his pet bullfrog singing rock 'n' roll.' So we wrote 'So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star' to the audience of potential rock stars, those who were going to be, or who wanted to be, and those who actually did go on to realize their goals."
While the song starts off very similar to the satirical nature of Bachman Turner Overdrive's "Taking Care of Business" recorded six years later... "Just get an electric guitar, Then take some time and learn how to play, And with your hair combed right, And your pants fit tight, It's gonna be all right ", the song quickly shifts to a more realistic tone in regards to the nature of the business of the industry, with the lyrics "..Sell your soul to the company, who are waiting there to sell plastic ware " and "The price you paid for your riches and fame
Was it all a strange game, you're a little insane, The money that came and the public acclaim. Don't forget what you are, you're a rock and roll star". These later lyrics are more reminiscent of the complaints The Beatles would verbalize in response to their own rapid rise to superstardom.
I've been sketching alot with my new iPad Pro, Apple pencil and ProCreate... all excellent investments in my opinion. NOTE:.. this is not a paid endorsement, but "Hey APPLE... I'm available... My ability to draw, sketch and create while on the go is at a whole new level with these tools.
What I was aiming for here was to replicate the "toned" sketch look that I've done in the past. Why not just do a toned sketch you may ask ? Well.. I wanted to see if I could replicate it.. and again, I was out, wanted to sketch and I used the tools that I carry around with me. I doubt I will ever completely abandon my physical sketchbook, pens, and markers.. in fact they are sitting just to my right as I type this... with pieces for a new print that will soon be available.... BEACH BLANKET ROCK n ROLL fans stay tuned.
So let me know what you think... share your opinions, good and bad, and if you have a spare minute, share with your rock and roll / art loving friends.
Thanks for being here.
Information source. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/So_You_Want_to_Be_a_Rock_%27n%27_Roll_Star
In lieu of a song cartoon, or a trip down musical history, due to a whole ton of things going on, including twists, turns, and unforeseen interruptions, sometimes called LIFE, I decided to share a piece of mine that I'm returning to and am excited to finish. Some of you may remember this as a germ of a sketch here and slightly fleshed there on various social media avenues, but a while ago I decided to develop it into a finished print to sell on my website. It came to a brief halt, but I'm forcing myself to finish it. This is THE GIN SOAKED BAR ROOM QUEEN MEETS THE LONG COOL WOMAN IN A BLACK DRESS. Perhaps the title will change in the future as well... it is a mouthful.
If you haven't figured it out by now, ( maybe you're not a fan of Classic Rock.... maybe ), this is inspired by two classic rock songs, The Rolling Stones immortal Honky Tonk Woman, and The Hollies mega hit, Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress. As any good piece of writing should, the lyrics to these two songs are loaded with vivid imagery. I'm pretty sure Long Cool Woman is one of, if not the first, rock song to really paint a picture in my mind, the first time I heard it. It was the one pivotal moment that you always read about when someone hears something that makes them stop and think "Whoa ! .... WHAT IS THIS ?!!! I remember it pretty vividly... May 1970, lunch break outside, Wappingers Jr. High School, a little black transistor radio... MAGIC.
In my mind, the central character in each of these songs, couldn't be more different from each other.. one, sultry, exotic, mysterious, dangerous, addictive... the other, loose, erotic, fun loving, care free. Both songs are set in a bar, and I thought.. what if it was the same bar ? What if these characters had a chance to interact... what if The Stones and The Hollies were singing about the same night in the same bar ? ...Cartoon Fun Time, that's what.
The songs are loaded with so much imagery, I couldn't resist throwing in some Easter eggs. When the print is finally finished, and up for sale... the million plus buyers from around the world will have to hunt for and discover them for themselves...let the urban legends begin, but because I love you guys AND you subscribe to my blog / newsletter.. I'll clue you in to as many as I remember and then they can be our little secret.
1) Check out the sign in the top center of the design... just before the staircase. This references both songs... "I met a gin soaked barroom queen in MEMPHIS. She tried to take me UPSTAIRS for a RIDE" - Honky Tonk Woman // "SATURDAY NIGHT I was down town...." - Long Cool Woman. If you're a real rock aficionado, you also caught the semi nod to super group, The Rides of Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepard fame.
2) The Bartender's thought balloon... "When Charlie said "I hope that you're able Boy" - Long Cool Woman
3) If you can, take a look at the label on the table to the right of Long Cool Woman. It's called BadMan Nest Whiskey. - "Sitting in a nest of bad men, Whiskey bottles piling high" - Long Cool Woman
4) This one may be tricky... see the character sitting at the table, eyeballing' the Long Cool Woman ? "Saw her heading to the table, Well a tall walking big black cat"... yeah, I took some liberties.
5) Some more liberties taken, and some paraphrasing as well... the big black cat's thought balloon... "She blew my nose and then she blew my mind" - Honky Tonk Woman
So... since this work is a work in progress, or us as AR-TEESTS like to say a WIP, give it to me straight... what do you like, what do you NOT like ? I'm thinking of ditching the blue wall behind the bartender... too ritzy for the "vibe" I'm trying to create here. I think the back wall needs to show more wear and tear.... bullet holes, torn sheet rock... maybe get rid of the door altogether and move the OPEN sign to a window behind the bartender... just thinking out loud. Please feel free to do the same.. make some noise and let me know what you think.
We've lost another one. I came home from an extended weekend away, to hear of the passing of Steely Dan guitarist Walter Becker. To be honest, I was never the biggest of Steely Dan fans, I enjoyed their music when I heard it. As a serious fan of music, I made sure I had at least one of their greatest hits collections in my music library and that was good enough for me.
That said, I was saddened to hear of his passing. He was one of rock and roll's guitarists with a signature sound. When you hear a Steely Dan song on the radio, you don't mistake it for another band's song, and a lot of that is because of the craftsmanship of Walter Becker. He brought a jazz influenced touch to the band's songs. While Becker won't be mistaken for Wes Montgomery, Pat Metheny or George Benson, he gave Steely Dan a distinctive enough sound at their peak and record buyers took notice.
So as the Labor Day 2017 weekend becomes history, and we rapidly march into Autumn, it seems only fitting to end a "tribute" to Walter Becker with lyrics from one of his bands many radio classics... "...Your everlasting summer, You can see it fading fast. So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last..." Rest in peace Walter Becker.
Credited by some as the start of the Glam Rock movement in the early 70's, Bang A Gong (Get it On) was recorded in 1971 for the T.Rex album, Electric Warrior. The Glam Rock, or Glitter Rock movement by itself, is a blog post for another day, but with his flamboyant stage presence, including make up, platform shoes, an feather boas, T.Rex's Marc Bolan opened the rock and roll doorways for long list of mid 70's rock stars, including Mott The Hoople, Sweet, Slade, The New York Dolls, and perhaps even the Ziggy Stardust period of David Bowie's career.
Bang A Gong is another simple ode to teenage lust. What makes Bang A Gong stand so far out from the rest is it's catchy hooks and unforgettable riffs. Littering the song with car imagery acting as sexual innuendo, Bolan borrows heavily from the lyrical style of Bob Dylan. Creative word play like "You've got the teeth of Hydra upon you ", and the famous "You've got a Hub Cap Diamond Star Halo" Bolan draws the listener in, and keeps them guessing as to what he could possibly be referring to, if anything at all.
Unfortunately for Bolan, his career and life was as brief as the Glam Rock movement itself. He was killed in a car accident, in 1977, 8 years after his most famous song was released, and just two weeks before his 30th birthday.
Something new with free learning curve included. I created this from start to finish in ProCreate. It's a pretty cool program with a wide array of tools. An iPad only app (to the best of my knowledge), ProCreate has greatly expanded my ability to design on the go. I'm not sure if it's something I'd do a finished design on, not yet anyway, but it's a great way for me to flesh out ideas.
I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge my good and old friend Jay Griffin out in Connecticut for suggesting Bang A Gong as a blog entry... so here you go Jay... you own specially designed hubcap diamond star halo.
Wear it well.
Till next time, feed your head with cool tunes and even cooler art.
Happy Friday everyone, and Welcome to another edition of This Week in Music. Before I get started, I did a little experiementing with the week's design. I may or not have mentioned that I upgraded my iPad mini to a regular size iPad, which came with a bit more memory, which in turn allowed me to start using a real cool drawing app called ProCreate. I won't bore you with all the reasons why I'm so jacked about being able to finally use and learn this app alot more, but I'm a tech, art, cartoon geek, so I guess that's all you really need to know. Consider this an experiment, and excuse the awkwardly large signature.
With that said, here's this weeks dose of historical musical events for the week of July 30th through August 5th... as always, historical information is graciously supplied by the good people at www.thisdayinmusic.com
7/30 1966 The Troggs hit Number One with Wild Thing. A song covered by Jimi Hendrix, and featured prominently in the hit movie Major League, some 22 years later.
7/30 1936 Happy Birthday to Blues legend and one of, if not the last, blues giant still standing, Buddy Guy.
and on a much sadder note...
7/30 2003 Rock and Roll pioneer, the man responsible for introducing Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins to the world, as well as founding Sun Records, Sam Phillips passes away.
7/31 1971 James Taylor hits Number One with Carol King's song "You've Got a Friend", and the very next day...
8/1 1971 George Harrison stages his Concert for Bangla Desh at Madison Square Garden. Performers include Bob Dylan, Ringo and Eric Clapton.
8/2 1962 Robert Allen Zimmerman legally becomes Bob Dylan.
8/3 1971 Paul McCartney announces the formation of his new band, Wings
8/3 1974 Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band opens up for Anne Murray, 1 year before the release of Born To Run
8/4 1901 Happy Birthday to Jazz music icon Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong
8/5 1957 "American" Bandstand airs on TV for the first time.
Next week the blog will feature a new classic rock song / cartoon interpretation, T.Rex's Bang A Gong (Get It On), suggested my good friend Jay Griffin, so do your homework and let me know what I get right, and what I get wrong. Until then, and as always, thanks for being here. I appreciate you taking a brief few minutes out of your schedule to check this out.
Please feel free to leave a comment, and share with your friends.
Hi and welcome to another This Week in Music on the MartyToons Newsletter. It's a mixed bag this week, spanning a wide musical spectrum, from The Chairman of the Board to a Queen of the Blues, and all the way back to one of the longest living rock and roll bands, so let's get started.
July 23, 1966 saw Frank Sinatra's classic "Strangers in the Night" hit number one.
and what a difference three years make...
July 23, 1969, The Rolling Stones hit number one with Honky Tonk Woman.
July 25, 1969, Neil Young joins Crosby, Stills and Nash for the first time.
July 25, 1980, AC DC releases BACK IN BLACK, five months after the death of lead singer Bon Scott, and the first featuring Brian Johnston as new lead singe, a position he holds for the next 36 years.
July 25 1984, legendary blues vocalist Big Mama Thornton passes away.
July 26 1943 Happy Birthday to Mick Jagger
July 27 2001, original and long time bassist for Lynyrd Skynyrd, Leon Wilkinson is found dead in a Florida hotel room.
July 28, 1973, the Watkins Glenn Outdoor Summer Jam takes place in New York. The concert features The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, and The Band. Tickets sold for $10.00 each.
July 29, 1965, the Beatles second film, HELP premieres in London
July 29, 1968, Bob Dylan suffers his famous and even sometimes debated, motorcycle accident in upstate New York, leading into a lengthy period of convalescence, including an 8 year absence from touring.(https://www.thoughtco.com/bob-dylans-motorcycle-accident-1322021)
July 29 1974, former vocalist for The Mamas and Papas, Cass Elliott dies of a heart attack while sleeping in a London flat owned by singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson. Four years later, The Who's drummer Keith Moon died in the same room, also aged 32 years. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cass_Elliot}
That's it for this week. Thanks for taking the time to read.
Lady Day, Pepperland, and one of rock's most celebrated drum solos are all represented this Week in Music, July 16 - July 22... let's begin.
July 16 1966, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton form rock's first celebrated power trio, Cream.
July 16, 1981, iconic Folk rocker, and champion of feeding the hungry, Harry Chapin dies at the age of 38 due to cardiac arrest while driving on the Long Island Expressway. It remains unclear if the cardiac arrest caused Chapin to swerve his car into the path of a tractor trailer, or whether the collision caused the cardiac arrest.
July 17, 1959, Jazz vocalist legend, Billie Holiday dies with just $0.70 in her bank account.
July 17, 1968 The Beatles animated classic Yellow Submarine premieres in London.
July 20, 1940 Billboard's first comprehensive album chart is published, combining the best seller lists from all major record labels. Previously these were all published separately.
July 20, 1968 Iron Butterfly's "In A Gadda Da Vida" enters the U.S. charts for the first time.
July 20, 1973 Jim Croce's "Bad Bad Leroy Brown hits Number 1 on the the U.S. singles chars. Croce dies 3 months later in a plane crash.
July 22, 1947 Happy Birthday to Eagles drummer and solo artist Don Henley.
Information provided by www.thisdayinmusic.com
Welcome to the second installment of This Week in Music, July 8th through July 15th. Historical information provided by the good people at http://thisdayinmusic.com
July 8 1958 the first Gold Record for an album for reaching one million dollars in sales is awarded by the Recording Industry Association of America to the soundtrack LP, 'Oklahoma'
July 8, a mere 9 years later, (1967) The Monkees start their World Tour, featuring The Jimi Hendrix Experience as the opening act. The Monkees move on without the Experience 6 dates later.
July 8, 1973, Led Zeppelin releases their fifth studio album, Houses of The Holy.
July 9 1962, Bob Dylan records "Blowin' In The Wind"
July 9 1995, Jerry Garcia plays his last Grateful Dead concert, dying of a Heart Attack one month later.
July 10, 1987, the man responsible for discovering and signing Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Ray Vaughn to Columbia Records, John Hammond, dies.
July 10 1939, on a much lighter and happier note, Happy Birthday to Soul Pop legend, Mavis Staples.
July 12 1954, unknown, Nineteen year old Elvis Presley signs with Sun Records.
July 14, 1967, The Who start their first North American Tour... wait for it... as opening act for Herman's Hermits.
July 15 1946, Happy Birthday to West Coast Rock legend Linda Rondstadt.
Welcome to a new feature for the MartyToons Newsletter. In an effort to make my posts more frequent, and true to my mission of combining music with cartoons, I stumbled on the idea of celebrating historical music events with a simple cartoon sketch... emphasis on sketch. So that said, I give you This Week in Music, July 1st through July 7th. Historical information courtesy of the good people at http://thisdayinmusic.com/search_result
July 1 1967, The Beatles begin a 15 week run at Number One with Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, their 10th number one album in the US.
July 1 1995, gravelly voiced, Rock and Radio personality, Wolfman Jack dies of a heart attack.
July 2nd 1956, Elvis Presley records Hound Dog at RCA Studios in New York
July 2nd 1979, SONY introduces the Walkman, the first portable cassette player
July 3rd 1969, recently "former" Rolling Stone, Brian Jones is found dead at the bottom of his swimming pool.
July 3rd, 1971 two years to the day Brian Jones dies, Doors frontman Jim Morrison dies in Paris France of a heart attack.
July 5 - Happy Birthday to The Band member, Robbie Robertson 1943, and San Francisco Popmeister Huey Lewis 1950
July 6 - The Beatles A Hard Day's Night premieres in London.
July 6 - Happy Birthday to Bill Haley of Bill Haley and the Comets 1925
July 7 1980 - John Bonham plays his last Led Zeppelin concert in Eissporthalle, West Berlin
The Martytoon Newsletter
The Thoughts, Designs & Process of Marty Qatani aka MartyToons.
Hi and welcome to the first blog post / newsletter of the all new revamped MartyToons website. Where to start ? I suppose a quick intro is in order for those of you who may be unfamiliar with me and what I do. I'm a cartoonist / character designer/ humorous illustrator. That sounds like a lengthy title, but none of those by themselves seems appropriate enough by themselves to describe what I do.
If I call myself a cartoonist, people tend to think I create a comic strip.... not true. If I call myself just a character designer, it seems a little limiting to me. I like to think I do a little bit more... make people think... wake people up, help someone remember a happy thought.... maybe even put a smile on people's faces.... hopefully. Calling myself just a humorous illustrator, just doesn't seem to have any "punch", "pizzazz", "sparkle"... you get the picture. I do like the sound of "Creator of Visual Enhancements for Artistically Challenged and Cartooning Impaired." It has a pretty cool ring to me, but it's a little hard to fit on a business card and still look cool.
What can you expect here ? How's a little doodle sound ? A little peek into what goes on in my working process and maybe even in my thought process ? That's my plan... I hope you enjoy. So let me dig into my archive, maybe shed a little light on happened and then invite you to comment. Sounds good ? Good... then lets get to it.
This is an early sketch of one of my favorite designs I'm working on. It's inspired by one of my favorite music artists, Cat Stevens, who know goes by the name of Yusuf Islam https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_Stevens . Check him out if you get the chance and are a fan of 70's "Soft" Rock, and especially if you're a fan of songs about being positive, hopefullness, and becoming a little wiser.
Music is playing more and more a part in my designs. I love many styles of music and I always have it playing in my studio while I'm creating. Alot of times I let the music direct what I'm going to sketch when I intentionally sit down to sketch, sometimes I'm not planning on sketching at all, but I hear a song and an image will just pop into my head, and I have to get it down on paper. I believe that's what happened here, but to be honest, I came up with this sketch several years ago, and I can't remember the exact circumstances that gave birth to this.
So there you have it. I hope you enjoy it. Got any questions ? Feel free to comment below.