Tuesday Tunes 51: Cheating

A message to youth

I kinda set this week’s theme up in the previous episode of this series, both by including one song which cheated against my own ‘rules,’ and also in the comment I made about the news story relating to the serial shagger who has somehow become this country’s Prime Minister. Anyone with an ounce of decency would have resigned by now when caught dipping his wick at the public’s expense – although decency isn’t a word I’d associate with him or his government chums. But it has given me the perfect lead for today’s theme: cheating.

I have seven songs for you this week. Four are the classic ‘you done me wrong’ sort of cheating, one is someone on the brink of temptation, one is trying to hold things together, and the last one isn’t sure if cheating is going on or if he has just missed the clues that things are over. Happy days all round, then!

For me, the definitive song of this type has always been this one:

The word ‘classic’ gets thrown around a lot, but there’s no denying this one deserves it. The first version of the song to be released was by Gladys Knight And The Pips in 1967, when it went to #2 in the US. Marvin Gaye’s recording was a 1968 release – both versions were on the Motown label – and it was a huge hit, making #1 in both the US and the UK, for seven and three weeks respectively, as well as in several other countries. The song was also recorded by The Miracles, but Berry Gordy blocked their version – and initially the Marvin Gaye version too – as he didn’t like them. What did that guy know about music, anyway?! There have been many covers of this song, notably the one by Creedence Clearwater Revival, who turned it into an eleven minute epic for their Cosmo’s Factory album in 1970. Much though I like CCR, I still think Marvin’s is the best version.

This week’s second tune is another classic of the genre:

That was from Ace’s album Five-A-Side, which was released in 1974. The song was taken from it as a single, and peaked at #3 in the US (the album made #11 there). It’s funny how your memory can play tricks on you, though: I always remembered this as a huge hit here too, but it actually only reached #20. The lead singer is Paul Carrack, who has been in several bands since then, including Mike And The Mechanics: remember The Living Years? He sang it. He has also had a long solo career, and is still producing some fine albums. And by complete coincidence, today is his 70th birthday – Happy Birthday Paul! Funnily enough, this song was actually written by him about rumours that the band’s bass player, Terry Comer, had been talking to other bands about playing with them. But for most people it has always been interpreted as a song to an about to be ex-lover!

This next one is the one about someone trying not to give into temptation. Does he yield? You’ll have to watch the video to find out:

That was from Del Amitri’s third album, Change Everything, released in June 1992. They weren’t the most prolific of recording artists, making just six albums in the period from 1985 to 2002, but they are all excellent. Four of those albums reached the UK top ten, this being the most successful at #2. It was also a #178 smash in the US. The song was a modest single hit here, getting to #30, but it didn’t chart in the US. The band were from Scotland and had the ‘distinction’ of recording the official song for the Scottish football team for the 1998 World Cup finals. Rather optimistically titled Don’t Come Home Too Soon, it fared better than the team, making #1 in Scotland, #15 in the UK as a whole, while the team did their usual trick of failing to get beyond the initial group stage. But at least they made the finals that time – a rarity of a sort, which England supporters always enjoy!

I’ve been advised that this video doesn’t work in the US. My apologies, as it is the record company’s official one! Hopefully this version on YouTube works for you, as it’s a great song! https://youtu.be/R6aSKDiqPKs

The next two songs are about someone suffering in the knowledge that his love is cheating on him, and is getting ready to go out to do just that. The first of these is probably the first country song that Kenny Rogers recorded:

Kenny Rogers And The First Edition’s first hit single was the psychedelic Just Dropped In – this was a long way from that! It was the song that made them an international success, reaching #6 in the US and #2 here in the UK. Around the time this was recorded the original female singer, Thelma Camacho, parted company with the band and was replaced by Mary Arnold – who was given the job in preference to a certain Karen Carpenter. The rejection didn’t seem to affect Karen’s recording career too much. The song was written by Mel Tillis, who rather unhelpfully didn’t clear up the doubt about whether the ‘crazy Asian war’ reference meant Korea or Vietnam by saying ‘it might have been WW2.” That reference does however show that this is a serious song, and not just a poppy little tune.

The other ‘she’s going out’ song is, I think, a fairly obvious choice for me:

That live version is just sooo good! The harmonies are perfect, and it is such a great song from one of my all time favourite bands: they even gave me the name for my blog! This was a track on The Eagles’ fourth album, One Of These Nights, released in 1975. It was co-written by Don Henley and the late, great Glenn Frey, who sings lead vocal. The album was a US #1, and got to #8 here. As a single, the song reached #2 in the US but only #23 here. For some reason the band has never had the chart success here that I would have expected. This was only their second hit single here, following the title track of that album, which also got to #23: all of their earlier great songs didn’t make our charts. And if I were to ask you which was their only #1 album here what would you say? No, it isn’t the obvious one: both Hotel California and their first Greatest Hits album only reached #2. It was actually their comeback album Long Road Out Of Eden in 2007, showing that a 28 year wait between albums can have its reward! They have sold over 100m records in the US and 200m worldwide, though, so we’ve done our bit to help them along their way.

Apparently this one doesn’t work in the US either. There is another posting of the same video, though, which hopefully will work for you – fingers crossed: https://youtu.be/ZFnH8DtrIRc

My penultimate choice for this week is a Fleetwood Mac song but, as I included them last week, I thought I’d give you a fabulous cover version instead. I know I’m doing myself out of a future Under The Covers selection by sharing this, but it’s worth it:

As cover versions go, that one is hard to beat. The Highwomen are a country ‘supergroup,’ comprising Maren Morris, Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby and Amanda Shires. Amanda’s husband, Jason Isbell, turned up for this recording to keep an eye on her: they are on the left of the screen, front and back rows. They recorded the song in 2019 for the movie The Kitchen, and this live studio recording followed shortly after. I think it’s incredibly good. In case you need reminding, the Fleetwood Mac original version was on side 2, track 1 of the 1977 album Rumours, which of course was #1 in the US and the UK, and in loads of other places too. This song wasn’t released as a single, though it was the B-side to the single release of You Make Loving Fun in Germany and France. Don’t ask why just those two countries: I have no idea!

Today’s final song is the ‘is she cheating or leaving’ one:

My apologies for the static video: I did find some live recordings but the sound quality wasn’t great, so I’m giving you the studio version. With a song this good, who needs pictures anyway? This was the opening and title track from Jackson Browne’s twelfth album, released in 2002. The album peaked at #36 in the US and #53 here in the UK. Jackson has long been a favourite of mine: his connection with the Eagles, and co-writing of Take It Easy, has assured him of that, and I still rank the concert of his that I attended in 2010 as one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was at the Royal Albert Hall in London, which has great acoustics and is ideally suited to him – that probably explains why he is a regular performer there during his tours. Tours? Live concerts? Remember them? Hopefully soon, my friends…

That’s all for this week. It has been fun compiling this, and there is some great music here, which I hope you’ve enjoyed. I’ll see you again next Tuesday, with a selection prompted by whatever comes into my head as a theme. Until then, stay safe and well.

#SaturdaySongs No.1 – Take It Easy

Some months ago I added the words ‘with occasional music’ to the tagline for this blog. Over the four years I’ve been doing this I have shared many music videos with you, and last week as part of the 3 Days 3 Quotes challenge I chose music as one of the themed days for my quotes. I’ve been thinking about starting this series for quite a while now, and here at last is the first of my new #SaturdaySongs. I’m hoping that I have the discipline to do this every Saturday, and that you will like them and keep coming back each week to see what I have chosen to share. The point of this isn’t just to give you songs I like, though it is a given that I do actually like the songs I share! What I’m doing with this series is to highlight songs which have an importance in my life, that represent a memory for me. In preparing for this series I have identified more than 30 songs that I could feature, so I don’t think I’ll be running out of ideas any time soon.

Choosing the first song for this new series was pretty easy: you don’t have to look very hard to see that I am an Eagles fan – where do you think I got the name for my blog from? The spirit of that title chimes perfectly with my aim in retirement, and was a natural for me to choose when I ‘rebranded’ a couple of years ago. Take It Easy is the opening track on the Eagles’ first album, which was imaginatively titled Eagles. It is a song largely written by Jackson Browne, who gave it to Glenn Frey  – a room mate in Los Angeles – to finish off and record with his new band, who became the Eagles. In a later interview Browne credited Frey with adding some words that he couldn’t have written himself, although they related to an experience of his own, and with arranging the song in the way that it came out. Browne also issued his own version the following year on his second album, For Everyman,  but by then it was destined to play second fiddle to the Eagles, who had achieved a major hit with it. This version is from a live performance in 1977, and shows why the Eagles were such a huge breath of fresh air for music, at least until disco and punk came along to destroy the 1970s:

Don’t underestimate the popularity of this band. The Eagles have sold over 150 million albums, including 42 million for their first Greatest Hits compilation and 32 million for Hotel California. They disbanded in 1980 but reformed in 1994 and have toured consistently to huge audiences since then. They may not be fashion icons, and may have been reviled as much as revered, but they have kept a lot of music fans very happy over the years. I regret that I never saw them play live, but I did see Jackson Browne some years ago and he obligingly sang Take It Easy – it is one of those ‘hairs on the back of the neck’ moments that you never forget. As Don Henley says on the Hell Freezes Over live album, after the band reformed, ‘this is where it all began.’

Country rock, as this became known, has been a major part of my musical taste since the 1960s, starting with the Byrds, the Loving Spoonful, then passing through Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in all their incarnations, Gram Parsons, Jackson Browne, Poco, the Grateful Dead, Little Feat and many more. The Eagles’ first album was released in 1972, which was the year I went to university. Obviously, I’d heard Take It Easy and some of the other tracks before, but hadn’t listened to the whole album until my first weekend at uni. One of the guys along the corridor had the album and we spent many happy hours in his room, putting the world to rights over coffee and the occasional alcoholic beverage, with this as the soundtrack. I soon bought the album, which has become a longstanding favourite and still gets played to this day.

winslowI was 18/19 when this was released, that age when we are filled with dreams about changing the world. Maybe those dreams are likely to remain just that, just hopes and wishes, but the music we grew up with remains with us for ever. To illustrate the fact that this is an iconic song not just for me, have you heard of this before? One of the lines in the song – credited to Glenn Frey by Jackson Browne – is the one about Browne’s own experience. It runs ‘I was standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see.‘ I’ve never been to Winslow but if I ever do I want to see this statue, built in recognition of the song. I’m suitably impressed!

I’ve mentioned that Jackson Browne also recorded his song. To save you having to seek it out, here it is:

You may not be aware that a tribute album – Common Thread – was released some years ago to the Eagles’ songs, with a stellar array of country musicians performing some of their favourites. The version of Take It Easy on that album was recorded by the hirsute Travis Tritt. The video for his version has him hanging around with the guys, a bit like I was doing back in the 70s. Only in his case, the guys, who are also his backing band, are actually the Eagles – a nice touch:

The story goes that it was at Tritt’s request that the Eagles appeared in his video. They had disbanded in 1980 but it appears that the pleasure that they show in the video in getting together again was genuine, as within two months they had reformed the band.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this first trip back through my musical mind. If so, please come back soon, tell all your friends, etc etc 🙂