A Musical Prayer for Peace and Racial Harmony

What does it take for mankind to learn to coexist and live in a peaceful world?

9-victims-of-charleston-church-massacreCollectively, our nation’s heart was broken on June 17, 2015 when nine people were killed by a gunman at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, simply because of the color of their skin. I’ve always abhorred violence, believing that those who hate have no right to exist in a civilized society.

EvangETRAs a child, about 5 years old, I remember attending services at an inner-city black church in Harrisburg with my grandparents (who, as a result of adopting me, were also my parents). My grandfather was a Hell, Fire & Brimstone Pentecostal Evangelist who loved to preach in and attend services in black churches. He appreciated the passion and emotion exhibited by those who truly had the spirit. It was  different from the Lutheran Church I later attended as an adult.

WFECMy earliest taste in music was formed while listening to WFEC, an AM radio station in Harrisburg every night when I went to bed. I was about 7 years old when my passion for soul music was ignited with the Motown sound of The Temptations, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Four Tops and so many other great “soul” groups. This was the main inspiration for me getting into radio as a DJ years later.

The very first 45rpm record I purchased was by Archie Bell and the Drells.

Archie Bell DrellsIt was a song, that I still love today called (There’s gonna be a) Showdown. Don’t let the title fool you, it wasn’t about a violent confrontation, but rather a dance competition.

The 60’s were such a pivotal time in the history of the United States. The Viet Nam war lingered on, the Civil Rights Act was passed, and racial tension throughout much of the country was at a boiling point, including riots in York and Harrisburg.

ImpressionsOne of the songs that resonated strongly with me was “Choice of Colors” by The Impressions. The song only reached #21 on the Pop chart, but it went all the way to #1 on the R&B chart in the summer of 1969.

In the mid to late 60’s I lived in uptown Harrisburg. I remember a business right across the alley from our house. The front of the building was on North 6th street and the back of the building faced our backyard. When the business closed and a brand new record label moved in, my soul-music dreams came true.

Soulville RecordAs I was turning 10 years old in September 1967, Soulville Records opened for business. Original founders of the label were Bobby Fulton, Toby Young, Jimmy Walker and Hulie Diggs. The idea behind Soulville was to fill a void for a gospel/soul record label in the Harrisburg and Central Pennsylvania area.

I vividly remember racing up to the large windows on the front of the building and admiring the 8”x10” black and while promotional photos of the musicians. Wow, real soul stars making music right there in my neighborhood! Somehow, I wanted to be a part of their history-making future.

Here is one of my favorite songs from Soulville, “The Way I Love You” by The Continental Four.

Soulville CD
Several years ago a CD with 25 tracks from the archives of Soulville was released.

A few other songs related to peace and harmony among the human race include Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People” which hit the top spot on both the Pop and R&B charts in 1969, George Harrison with Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth) in 1973, and Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes classic “Wake up Everybody” from 1975. This was the band’s last Top 40 hit with drummer/lead singer Teddy Pendergrass.

WonderA song that may sound like a typical Top 40 hit if you only listen to the single edition is “Living for the City” by Stevie Wonder in 1973. However, if you listen to the full album version of the song, Stevie includes a very realistic-sounding interlude at 4:10 into the song which projects the audio image of a young man arriving in New York City for the first time in his life. As soon as he gets off the bus, he gets busted for a crime he was set up for, and railroaded through the court system. The audio is so graphic and realistic, if you listen carefully you’ll hear the cop calling him the “N” word as he slams the jail cell door. This is a pretty profound way for a musician to call attention to the racial bias and attitudes still remaining in American society nearly 10 years after passage of the Civil Rights act.

SpinnersAnother song I would like to share is a beautiful tune by The Spinners. It never made the Top 40 but the message and lyrics about the difference a mother can make in the life of a child is priceless. The song is called “Sadie”. Maybe I’m biased about the song because my Great Grandmother’s name was Sadie Rudy. She was the person who gave birth to and raised my Grandfather, Rev. Edward T. Rudy, who together with my Grandmother Ida, gave me a life, love and opportunities that I otherwise would have never had.

John MellencampOne of my favorite artists of all time is John Mellencamp. I remember attending one of his concerts in Hershey and noticed something on the front of his guitar. I read that he carved the words “F*** fascism” into his guitar on the eve of his taping MTV’s Unplugged episode.

Let’s end the musical part of this blog as we began, with the ideology of Mellencamp’s song “Peaceful World”.

A Path AppearsI’m reading an inspirational book by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn called “A Path Appears (Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity)” and there is an excellent quote that is attributed to a friend of Microsoft executive John Wood.
Wood considers this the secret of life…

“Think early on what you want your legacy to be, what you would like to be able to say on your deathbed. Then work backward from there.”

It’s a great way to think about the impact we hope to have in our lives.

Musclecars, Music and Memories

On August 7, 1965, history took place when a little airport in York County was the site of the inaugural Super Stock Nationals. If you’re a motorhead like me and love musclecars, the name York US30 Dragway is synonymous with fast cars, burning rubber, screaming engines, and legions of fans watching cars race side-by-side down the airstrip at the Thomasville airport. Okay, to be honest, I’ve never been to York US30 Dragway, but I’ve known about the legendary drag-racing track since I was a young man.

Cuda1I’ve had so many cars during my lifetime, most of which I wish I still owned. My first car was a 1968 VW Beetle that I purchased in 1973 when I was 16.

Okay, not so impressive, but when I blew the bug up, my second car was a 1968 Plymouth GTX. Wow! I loved that car! It had a 440 under the hood, 4-speed transmission and…..uh, about 4 miles to a gallon of gas. Cuda2a

Other toys I’ve owned included a 1970 Plymouth Satellite, a 1973 Plymouth Barracuda (cloned to look like a ‘Cuda), and a 1968 Nova.

The Nova was originally owned by my best friend in the world, John Gordy. About 1978, John sold me the car, which I immediately had painted white thanks to a $99.95 Earl Scheib paint job.

NovaAbout a year later, I sold the car back to John…and he still has it today! However, after many years of sitting, the car is in pretty bad shape.

NovaJohn is in the process of completely restoring the Nova. He’s got a lot of work to do, as you can see from the picture, but that’s to be expected when you pursue your passions and dreams. In the end, it will be all worth the time, money and effort…but this time, I don’t think he’ll sell it back to me, at least not for the same price as before…about $500.

On May 15, 1990 I purchased a 1974 AMC Javelin from the original owner, I believe her name was Linda.
The car was maxi-blue with black interior. With a 304 ci engine under the hood and automatic transmission, it wasn’t real fast, but it sure did look great with the air shocks, Keystone Classic wheels, 60 series tires on back and 70’s up front.

Javelin2Linda even gave me the original window sticker. It was her first car and she purchased it from R.W. Bowman and Son AMC in York. She told me the greatest story that endeared me to the history of the car from day one.

The car was a Javelin, which is sort of a base model of the AMX. There are many differences between the Javelin and AMX including engine size, performance package, etc., but the most visible difference to me, was the AMX had a really cool spoiler on the trunk. The spoiler gave the car a finished look, like a real racecar.

Javelin3aWhen Linda took her dad to see the car she wanted to buy, he said “That car looks like a woman with no butt” (but, he didn’t say “butt”). So he offered to pay to have the dealership add the AMX-style spoiler to the car, which honestly did add a classic musclecar finishing touch to the Javelin.

Now, back to York US30 Dragway. Unfortunately, the track closed in 1979 and all that remained for many years was the memories of this historic drag-racing airstrip.

Darwin Doll Bill StilesThen in 2002 Darwin Doll and Bill Stiles started Musclecar Madness, an event at the York Fairgrounds to bring together former cars, drivers, fans, and memorabilia collectors.

Musclecar Madness 2015This year Musclecar Madness will be held for the final time July 10th through the 12th.

Here’s a link to a great article about this year’s Musclecar Madness published in the York Dispatch.

Now, here’s the kicker to how all this musclecar information relates to my music blog…
There are so many great car songs that have been recorded, and instead of listing “my” favorites, I want to hear from YOU!

What was (or still is) your favorite car song, or tune to cruise to? How about memories that went along with your cruisin’ days? Where did you hang out? What were your favorite songs? Is there a song that takes you right back to those “Happy” days when you hear it today? Is there a song you loved, but can’t find it today…maybe I can find it and post it for you.

Send those memories and requests to:  radio@bobrudy.com

Let’s end this blog with one of the original radio commercials from York US30 Dragway.

Dancing on the edge of Crazy!

This week I decided to step off the edge of “normal” (whatever “normal” is) and go a little crazy with my music selections. There have been so many Crazy songs recorded, however, I will just highlight a few.

Let’s start in 1955 with a song by a band called The Hollywood Flames, titled “Crazy”. Hollywood FlamesCrazy was the “B” side to “Buzz Buzz Buzz”. The Flames formed at a talent show in Watts, Los Angeles in 1949. Early in their career they released two songs written by Murry Wilson (father of The Beach Boys), “Tabarin” and “I’ll Hide My Tears”. Original lead singer, Bobby Byrd eventually left The Flames and recorded “Rockin’ Robin” under the name Bobby Day, which went on to reach #2 on the charts in 1958.

Patsy ClinePatsy ClineCrazy (1961) *written by Willie NelsonCrazy (1992)
This was the song that gave Willie Nelson his big break when Patsy Cline recorded it. Willie covered crazy on his own debut album in 1962. Willie Nelson 1965

Farm Aid 2009According to VH1’s Storytellers, Willie revealed that this song was originally titled “Stupid.” Crazy is the one of the most-played songs on jukeboxes in the United States. It’s been reported that when she first heard the song, Patsy Cline didn’t like it at all. It was her husband Charlie Dick and her producer Owen Bradley who loved the song and persuaded Patsy to record it.

HeartCrazy on You (1976) (Video recorded live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013). “Crazy on You” was Heart’s first single. Ann-and-Nancy-Wilson-HeartFrom what I’ve read, the original band members were from Seattle and moved to Vancouver when some of the male members of the band would have been subject to the draft in the Vietnam War. When the concern of draft was no longer a threat, they moved back to Seattle. Ann and Nancy Wilson reportedly wrote this song about Mike Fisher, original guitarist for the band who eventually became their sound man.

Paul SimonStill Crazy After All These Years (Video recorded live in Philadelphia in 1976.) In a 1990 interview, Simon said the title phrase ‘Still Crazy After All These Years’ came to him first as a line. Then, he had to create a story and a melody to go with it. paul-simon-turkey-suit-snl-1976On an episode of Saturday Night Live that Simon hosted (Thanksgiving weekend), he sang “Still Crazy” while wearing a turkey costume, stopped in mid song, walked backstage to complain to producer Lorne Michaels. Reportedly, it was Simon’s idea to do this as he wanted to show he had a sense of humor. “Still Crazy After All These Years” is a gentle, reflective song dwelling on middle age that many baby boomers could relate to. Karen Carpenter chose this song to cover for her debut solo album in 1980, but it wasn’t released until 1996.

paul-davisPaul DavisI Go Crazy (1978) Davis died of a heart attack one day after his 60th birthday in 2008. Davis had a career covering three decades as a singer/songwriter in pop, country and soul music from the late 1960s through the 1980s. I go crazy stayed in the Top 40 for 25 weeks, peaking at #7.

QueenCrazy Little Thing Called Love (1980) #1 for 4 weeks. Freddy Mercury - QueenFreddy Mercury is reported to have written this song while taking a bubble bath. According to Peter Hince, the head of Queen’s road crew, the idea come to Mercury while in the bath. “He emerged, wrapped in a towel, I handed him the guitar and he worked out the chords there and then.” The song sounds more like Elvis Presley than Queen, but the fans loved it.

Ozzy OsbourneCrazy Train (1980) This was the first single Ozzy released after leaving Black Sabbath in 1978. OzzyCrazy Train was written by Ozzy, guitarist Randy Rhoads and bass player Bob Daisley. Before it had a title or lyrics, the trio noticed that the music had a “chugging” sound coming through the amp. Rhoads and Daisley were both into collecting trains and Daisley said “Randy, that sounds like a train. But it sounds nuts. A crazy train”, thus the title of the song. Although many believe this is a song about insanity (typical of Ozzy), it’s actually about the Cold War. Check out the lyrics. I found it interesting to discover that the trio was originally formed to be a band called “Blizzard of Ozz”. Rhoads, Daisley, and Ozzy wrote songs together, later adding drummer Lee Kerslake.

Ozzy LP coverBut their record label, Jet Records (owned by Ozzy’s future father-in-law) made the record look like a solo project by picturing Ozzy alone on the album cover and listing his name in big letters on top of the words “Blizzard of Ozz.”

 


Prince
Let’s Go Crazy (#1 song in 1984) In the beginning of this song Prince takes on the persona of a preacher with a church organ in the background as he appears to deliver a sermon about the challenges of life. Prince’s birth name is Prince Rogers Nelson. His nickname in school is reported to have been “Skipper.” He was apparently a very talented basketball player despite being only 5’2” tall.

PrincePrince produces, arranges, and plays most of the instruments on his albums. He is considered to have been a child prodigy, learning to play over a dozen instruments before the age of 15. The first song he learned to play on the piano was the original “Batman” theme when he was 7 years old. Here’s an interview with Prince on the Arsenio Hall Show from 2014

MadonnaCrazy For You (1985) This song was recorded for the film Vision Quest, which featured an appearance of Madonna playing a singer at a restaurant. “Crazy for You” was co-written by John Bettis, who also wrote songs for the Carpenters, Pointer Sisters, Whitney Houston, and Vanessa Williams.

MadonnaMadonna recorded her vocals for this song in one take and “Crazy For You” earned Madonna her first Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1986. However, she lost to Whitney Houston’s song “Saving All My Love For You.”

David Lee RothGoin’ Crazy (1986)
David Lee RothIn 1985, while David Lee Roth was still lead singer for Van Halen, he released his first solo EP, “Crazy from the Heat”, featuring the Beach Boys hit, “California Girls”, and “Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t got Nobody” along with two other songs. One year later after leaving Van Halen, Roth released “Eat ‘Em and Smile” which included two lounge songs, “That’s Life” and “I’m Easy”, along with the 60s garage band classic “Tobacco Road”. Also included on the album was “Yankee Rose”, a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the Statue of Liberty, and the song “Goin’ Crazy.” Although “Goin’ Crazy” only hovered near the middle of the Billboard Hot 100, it became a staple song on MTV.

The Van Halen album “5150” was released in 1986. It was the first of four albums to be recorded with new lead singer Sammy Hagar, who replaced David Lee Roth. Van Halen Hagar“Section 5150 is a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code which authorizes a qualified officer or clinician to involuntarily confine a person suspected to have a mental disorder that makes him or her a danger to themselves.” 5150 has become urban/Internet/police slang for crazy one on the loose. Danger to property, danger to others, and danger to themselves…you better call the cops before she (or he) goes 5150 on you. Although Van Halen doesn’t have any songs specifically with the word crazy on the album 5150, they do include the title track “5150”.

Country Thunder - Twin Lakes, Wisconsin - Day 1Dierks Bentley5-1-5-0 (2012) Bentley wrote this song with Brett and Jim Beavers. According to the website “The Boot”, The song started with a line Bentley had written for another song, “let’s get crazy, let’s get fifty-one-fifty”. Bentley is quoted as explaining “I was telling it to a friend of mine and he said, ‘What does that mean?’ And I told him it was Van Halen; it’s California police code for criminally insane. The next day, he was singing, ‘5-1-5-0, somebody call the po-po.’ I just started laughing because I thought that was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard. And he said, ‘I’m tellin’ ya, my kids cannot stop singing that.’ I said, ‘I don’t know, man.'”
A couple of days later, Bentley was writing the song with the Beavers Brothers and he still had the line stuck in his head so he said to them, “Let’s write it and be done with it.” So what does the title actually mean? Said Bentley to The Boot: “People don’t really know what it means but who really knew what ‘867-5309′ meant? I remember when that song was out [sings], ‘867-5309? Is that a real number? Is that an area code?’

Fine Young CannibalsShe Drives Me Crazy (#1 song in 1989) This was one of several songs the band provided for the soundtrack to the movie Tin Men. When lead singer Roland Gift used his original voice, the song was called “She’s My Baby”, but no one liked it. So, they revamped the lyrics and added a falsetto voice for the new version “She Drives Me Crazy” and everyone liked it.
Fine-Young-CannibalsDolly Parton covered this song on her 2008 album Backwoods Barbie, Weird Al turned it into a parody called “She Drives Like Crazy”, Arsenio Hall recorded a spoof, under the name Chunky A, called “Ho is Crazy. But my favorite is a version done with Kermit the Frog & Miss. Piggy in 1994 featuring cameos by various celebrities.

aerosmith_crazyAerosmithCrazy (1994) Steven Tyler and Joe Perry wrote this song with Desmond Child. Child is a songwriter who has also collaborated on hits with Kiss, Bon Jovi, Alice Cooper, Joan Jett, Michael Bolton, Ricky Martin, and Katy Perry.
“Crazy” was written in the late ‘80s around the same time they wrote “Angel”, but the songs were considered too similar, so while “Angel” was released on the Permanent Vacation album, Crazy was introduced two albums later on Get A Grip.

BeyonceBeyonceCrazy in Love (#1 song in 2003) The horns in this song were sampled from the 1970 Chi-lites song “Are You My Woman (Tell Me So)”. After playing the beat for Beonce, the verses and the hook for “Crazy In Love” were written by Rich Harrison in two hours while she took a break. He left the bridge for her to complete. Harrison was a fan of the Chi-lites sample long before he met Beyonce. Jay-Z and Beyonce were dating at the time the song was recorded, and he did the rap. The song was their first collaboration and when the couple were married in 2008, they shared their first dance together to “Crazy in Love”. Beyonce explained the song to writer Dennis Hensley this way, “The song talks about how, when you’re falling in love, you do things that are out of character and you don’t really care because you’re just open. The song came from me actually looking crazy one day in the studio.”

Gnarls-BarkleyGnarls BarkleyCrazy (2009) Gnarls Barkley is comprised of producer Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) and vocalist Cee-Lo Green (Thomas Callaway). The name of the band is a play on Hall Of Fame basketball player Charles Barkley. Cee-Lo said the inspiration for the song came in 2004 when he was going through a divorce and some tough times. The music video is done in the style of the Rorschach test, where a patient describes to a psychiatrist what he/she sees in inkblot patterns, then the therapist uses this information to analyze the patient. Crazy was chosen by a panel of experts (including Yoko Ono) as Rolling Stone’s #1 song of the 2000s.

Jason AldeanJason AldeanCrazy Town (2010) (The video is Aldean performing live on Letterman) Rodney Clawson and Brett Jones wrote this song about the music scene in Nashville as being a “crazy town.” In an interview, AOL asked Aldean if the song hit home. He replied: “If people want to know what it’s like to be an artist and move to this town, [this song] hits the nail on the head. There are a ton of singers in this town, and it’s all about finding what sets you apart from everybody else. Sometimes that takes years. You have to have thick skin. This town will chew you up in a heartbeat; you’ve got to be able to walk into a record label and have them not really care that you’re there, half-ass listen to the stuff that you’re playing and basically tell you to go home. I went through all that stuff.”

2015-EliYoungBandEli Young BandCrazy Girl (2011) The Eli Young Band formed in Denton, Texas in 2000 when Mike Eli and James Young met as freshman roommates at the University of North Texas. Together with Chris Thompson and Jon Jones, the band became local favorites. Crazy Girl was written by singer-songwriter Lee Brice and Liz Rose, who also co-wrote several of Taylor Swift’s hits. This was Eli Young Band’s first #1 hit.

Napoleon XIVThey’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa (1966)
Napoleon XIVThis is, in my opinion, the craziest of the crazy songs. I remember it as a child and being totally impressed…but then what can you expect from a 9-year-old!
Napoleon is Jerry Samuels, a recording engineer from New York. When the song became a hit, the record company sent other people to perform it at live appearances. According to Songfacts.com, Samuels said “It took me 9 months to finish it. I wrote one verse and the chorus, and immediately I realized I was writing a sick joke. So I said, ‘This is no good, I’ll put it away.’ Three months later it was still running through my head; I pulled it out again and wrote the second verse and it was an even sicker joke. Finally about 6 months after that I decided I was going to finish it, and I was going to do something in that last verse that would throw things off a little bit, so I referred to the object – ‘They’re coming to take me away because of what YOU did – I referred to YOU as a dog. The dog ran away. By doing that I felt I was lightening the sickness of the joke, and I probably was and it probably did some good for me, but that was the reason I went for that afterthought.” The flip side of this single was the same song….RECORDED BACKWARDS!!! A group called Josephine XV was created to record an answer song to this called “I’m Happy They Took You Away, Ha-Haaa!” Another answer song was Teddy And Daniel’s “They took you away, I’m glad, I’m glad.”
Jerry SamuelsSamuels appeared at the monthly meeting of the Keystone Record Collectors in the past year. They provided a great article in their newsletter about Samuels and his one-hit-wonder, “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!”
If you have any interest in music at all, it would benefit you to attend one of the monthly meetings of the Keystone Record Collectors (KRC) in Lancaster. Admission is FREE. Here’s a great link to a video introducing you to the KRC that was produced by the York Dispatch. Those guys at Keystone Record Collectors are CRAZY about anything related to records, music and memorabilia!

Thanks for reading! Share with your friends. Have a CRAZY Weekend!!!!