Tuesday Tunes 92: Storm

With the weather we’ve been having for the past few days there could only be one theme for this week: storm! With the recently adopted naming system for storms in this country, we have since last Wednesday ‘enjoyed’ Storms Dudley, Eunice, and now Franklin. At this rate we’ll be up to Zebedee before the end of March! I have just read in the paper that our Met Office is predicting that we will soon see the next storm in the series, which will be called ‘Gladys.’ They have announced the next fifteen names, which run in alphabetical order, and apparently reflect this country’s diversity. I was hoping that ‘H’ would be ‘Hortense,’ but it will be ‘Herman’ – good to see the nod to the Nazis in that choice, but I don’t imagine it is a common name here so whose idea was that? This was an easy choice for a theme, though, but as there were so many to choose from I decided to keep the selection down to songs with storm, stormy or wind (including tornado) in their title: other weather conditions such as rain and thunder therefore missed out, but no doubt their time will come! And an apology at the outset: if anyone is expecting to see the jazz standard Stormy Weather here, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. It just isn’t for me, sorry!

For someone of my vintage there is probably only one place I could start:

This was the opening track on Bob Dylan’s second album, The Freewheeling’ Bob Dylan, which was released in May 1963. It reached #22 in the US but in the UK, no doubt helped by Dylan having toured here and immersed himself in our folk music scene, it went to #1. As you may have noticed, the ‘wind’ of the title is used as a metaphor, and it is sad to reflect that the lyrics are no less relevant now than they were nearly sixty years ago. Dylan released it as a single but it didn’t make the charts. He needn’t have worried, though: within a few weeks Peter, Paul And Mary had covered it, taking it to #2 in the US and #13 in the UK. Among many other cover versions is Stevie Wonder’s, which was a #9 single in the US in 1966, also reaching #36 in the UK.

I said I wasn’t going to play you Stormy Weather. I kinda told the truth, except I know another song with that title which is much more my thing:

This track was a promotional single for Kings Of Leon’s eighth and most recent, album, When You See Yourself, which was released in March 2021. As a single it only made #88 in the UK and #36 in the US Rock chart, but they have always been much more of an albums band. This one got to #11 in the US but, continuing the trend of them being better supported over here than in their homeland, it became their sixth successive #1 UK album – their first two were relative failures, only getting to #3 here! I don’t really understand these new-fangled things, but this was the first album ever released as a non-fungible token (NFT); in fact, there were three NFT versions, with different packages, released under the series title NFT Yourself. I can confidently state that I haven’t a Scooby as to whether this had any impact on the album’s chart placings.

I didn’t expect to find a live version of this next one, but I did, and it is spine-tinglingly good:

Storms is a track from Fleetwood Mac’s 1979 double album, Tusk. This suffered a little from being the follow up to the zillion-selling album Rumours, but it still sold over 4m copies – not bad for an album the band thought of as a failure! This song wasn’t released as a single but has been a part of their live shows for many years. This performance dates from 2009, when the band was a four-piece after Christine McVie had departed, though she did rejoin in 2013. Christine was in the audience for the London show on this tour, and was lauded from the stage by Stevie Nicks, to a standing ovation.

Having already given you Bob Dylan it seemed right to play a song from the guy who was promoted as the UK’s answer to him when his career began. This one dates from 1965, but I was rather taken with this lovely duet, recorded in 1981:

This was Donovan’s first single, taken from his May 1965 debut album, which went by the title What’s Bin Did And What’s Bin Hid here, but was simplified for the American audience when it was released there: this song became the album’s US title track. The album reached #3 here and #30 in the UK. Catch the Wind had already been released as a single, in March that year, reaching #4 in the UK and #23 in the US. It is a simple little song about unrequited love, and this duet with Crystal Gayle really brings out its beauty.

I’m cranking up the wind force for this next one:

Great song. Great video. Great legs. “I’m a tornado, and I’m coming after you” – I wouldn’t object! Little Big Town have been together since 1998 and, perhaps unusually, haven’t had any membership changes in that time. Tornado was the title track of their fifth album, released in September 2012, which has been their most successful to date, reaching #2 in the main US Albums chart and #1 in the Country listings. They haven’t been especially successful here and, like their previous releases, this album wasn’t a UK hit: their four subsequent releases have however reached #2, #6, #1 and #1 again in the UK Country albums chart. This song was released as a single in October 2012, and made #51 on the main US chart and #6 in the Country version, with over 700k sales. Like all of their singles it wasn’t a UK hit though.

As you may have spotted by now, if you follow these posts, I rarely pass up an opportunity to play a song by the exceptional Mary Chapin Carpenter. Today is no different, so enjoy the next five minutes of utter beauty:

This was a track on MCC’s album Between Here And Gone which, like everything she does, is incredibly good. It was released in April 2004, reaching #50 on the US Albums chart and #5 in the Country chart. It also made it to #92 here in the UK. I know I keep saying it, but this woman has created some of the most beautiful music I know, with a collection of wonderful, profound songs, like this one. She has released sixteen albums since her first, back in 1987, and I would be really hard-pressed to name a favourite even if my life depended on it. Yesterday was her 64th birthday – I hope she has many more and continues to bless us with the gift of her music.

Today’s penultimate tune is one that I’ve loved ever since it was first released in 1971. This live version from 1993 is a delight:

Two guys who have been friends for twenty-five years, enjoying making music together: it doesn’t get much better than that. The song was originally a track on Rod Stewart’s third solo album, Every Picture Tells A Story, released in May 1971, which reached #1 in the UK, US, Canada and Australia. The mandolin on that version was played by Ray Jackson, of the band Lindisfarne, with whom I once had a shouted chat in between songs at a gig – I’m still not sure which of us was the more inebriated, if I’m honest. For a time MTV ran a series called MTV Unplugged, from which a number of great albums were released. This one, called Unplugged…And Seated, was released in May 1993, having been recorded the previous February, and it reached #2 in both the US and the UK. The whole album is a fantastic walk back through Rod’s catalogue as it stood at that time, and I recommend it. The mandolin players on the album, who you can see in the video, were Don Teschner and Phil Parlapiano – yeah, me neither! Other favourites of mine in that series were by 10,000 Maniacs and Bruce Springsteen, though he cheated by using electric instruments. Come to think of it, most bands did.

To close today’s selection, I’m going with the most iconic storm song of them all:

Riders On The Storm was the closing track on The Doors’ sixth album, L.A. Woman, released in April 1971. The album reached #9 in the US – their lowest chart placing at that point – and made #28 in the UK. The song was released as a single in June 1971, peaking at #14 in the US and #22 in the UK, though it did get to #1 in France. The song has always had a haunting, atmospheric quality to it, enhanced by Jim Morrison’s death on 3 July 1971 – one of the founder members of the so-called ’27 Club.’ The song first entered the US singles chart the same week that Morrison died, just to make things even more eerie than they already were.

Now that the music is complete for this set, I feel I should point out that this is a very auspicious day, the like of which we won’t see for another eleven years, and then only in a four digit format. Today is 22.2.22 (that also works for those who persist in doing the calendar backwards). I’ve always had a fascination with numbers, and the trivia in that just appeals to me. I did think about doing ‘number two songs’ today but that might have been misconstrued. I hope that, wherever you are, the weather isn’t too bad and has calmed down a bit after the extremes of the past few days. Until I see you again, take care, and stay safe 😊