Archive | May, 2011

You’re Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher and Slower and Slower – Jackie Wilson, Soul Music’s Cool Uncle

31 May

It is common knowledge that Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul. Otis Redding is usually crowned as her king. And James Brown gets the laudatory title as the Godfather of the genre. But where does Mr. Excitement fit in? Jackie Wilson was as instrumental in the soul transformation as James Brown. He brought stage gyrations to the R&B scene and helped expand the genre of soul. While Ray Charles is often cited as its creator, Jackie Wilson certainly does not get enough credit for a performer who inspired Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley! If James Brown is soul’s Godfather than Jackie Wilson is definitely soul’s cool uncle.

The Master of Cool

Wilson hit major chart success with his 1958 R&B song “Lonely Teardrops,” a song that implemented doo-wop techniques and, because of Wilson’s powerful voice, neared on soul. His on-stage movements were crowd pleasers. “Lonely Teardrops” was written by a team of songwriters led by pre-Motown Berry Gordy who used the money from the song’s success to help create Motown, a record label that would become part of the definition of the soul genre. And there you go, a surprising fact about a popular song!

But wait. That just sparked my interest in perhaps Wilson’s best known song, “Higher and Higher,” which was released nine years after “Lonely Teardrops.” Wilson, then a true master in the field of soul, recorded this song with Motown Records’ house band The Funk Brothers. Well, he didn’t actually record it with the band. That is where the surprising fact reveals itself. Producer Carl Davis brought the Funk Brothers’ backing track to New York City for Wilson to record his vocal. After hearing the track, Wilson originally sang this upbeat classic as a soul ballad. Davis’ response?

“I said that’s totally wrong. You have to jump and go with the percussion. If he didn’t want to sing it that way, I would put my voice on the record and sell millions.”

It only took Wilson one more take to record the song the way Davis intended it to be heard. And it sold a lot of copies.


Trust me Grandson

30 May

A quick follow-up to Anthony’s new Memorial Day inspired Musical Lexicon. This is in no way attempting to steal Anthony’s thunder, but cease your Google search for “The War Was in Color,” I’m just going to post it right here. Anthony and I are on similar wavelengths. “The War Was in Color” is one of Virginia folk/celtic rock band Carbon Leaf‘s best songs.

It is also a perfect pairing for Memorial Day, where since the Civil War we have honored those who have fought and continue to fight for the privilege of being a free American. The true meaning of this day is often lost to the gas grill and the cool wetness of a dip in the pool. Many people have marked Memorial Day as an unofficial beginning of summer and this has transformed the holiday into a day of festive family get-togethers.

I don’t believe this transformation is a perversion of the holiday. Some are quick to point out that by consuming franks and burgers while tanning in backyards across the country, Americans are not fulfilling their duty of honoring the military men and women (and dogs) that keep us safe. But I would argue that our actions represent a celebration of being American and being free. I do urge everyone to take a moment today to just think of the soldier lost during World War II whose body was never recovered. The soldier who is forever memorialized in grainy black and white photographs that will inevitably wither away with the memory of him throughout time. Think of the soldier in Afghanistan who cannot be with his daughter and wife today. Salute the memory of those lost and the life of those currently serving. Here is “The War Was in Color”

Musical Lexicon – “The War Was in Color”

30 May

First off, let me start by pointing out the obvious- that today is Memorial Day. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I have nothing but the utmost respect for the men and women who have or currently are serving in the Armed Forces. As a nation, we owe them all a tremendous debt, and is it with complete sincerity and humility that I offer my most wholehearted thanks to everyone in uniform. God Bless America, and God bless our troops.

On to more administrative notes, to go along with the fancy new makeover the blog has gotten, I’ll be trying my hardest to keep to a schedule with my posts, as opposed to my random mish-moshed hodgepodge. New categories will go up on Sundays, with answers being posted within the week, most likely on the following Saturday (unless I get a large response right away, it might be sooner). And now without further gilding the lily, and with no more ado, here are the rules, followed by the topic, which appropriately enough is dedicated to the military…


1) You can’t use the same song more than once, for any topic.

2) Within topics, you can’t use the same artist more than once.

3) The selected word has to be in the lyrics, but not necessarily in the title. If it’s in the title but not the lyrics, it doesn’t count.

4) You can look through your own music collection for help, but NO GOOGLE.
4.1) No Yahoo!, no Bing, no Lycos, no, no GoodSearch, etc.

5) Variations or specific examples are acceptable (unless otherwise stated), but not preferred. (e.g. “Pistol” or “Guns” work if the word on the list is “Gun”)

Topic – Battlefield

*Words in brackets are not a mandatory part of the search, but are only there to clarify what I’m looking for. For instance, don’t use a song that has “mine” meaning “belonging to me”

Also, side bonus, the title for this topic is from a song by Carbon Leaf. I suggest Googling it and giving it a listen for today.


New Music Court Categories

29 May

Happy Mardi - I mean - Memorial Day

Well nobody prevented me from posting this unsettling photograph on the blog, so here it is. Jesters playing drums. A perfect picture to represent this post: New Music Court Categories.

As stated yesterday, The Music Court will unveil new summer categories…right now! I know aren’t you excited? Alright let me shut-up and get to them.

Surprising Facts About Popular Songs

Guess what this category is going to explore? Did you know that “Centerfold,” the hit by The J. Geils Band about a man who is shocked to find out that his High School crush has grown up to become the centerfold of a “girly” magazine, could very possibly be about lead singer Peter Wolf’s past relationship with Prime Cut actress Angel Tompkins? Hint: she was in Playboy. This category, which will premiere and stay in the Tuesday posting slot, will provide you with fun facts about popular songs. You will want to pay attention to this information because…

Music Trivia

It has finally arrived. Every other Friday, readers will have a chance to answer difficult music trivia questions. The questions will run the gamut of era and genre. From 60’s bubblegum pop to 90’s alternative rock, Music Trivia will test your music knowledge. Questions will be multiple choice and will be posted up like a poll, so after you answer the question you can see what others thought. The poll style is for your convenience, but make sure to also post your answers in a comment. If the response is solid, prizes will be awarded to the first person who gets all the answers correct in that week’s post. I know what you are thinking. Can’t we just use Google? Yes, technically you can, but we at the Music Court go by the “fun” and “challenging” honor code. Games like Music Trivia and Musical Lexicon are supposed to make you think. Cheating is taking the easy way out.

Same Artist, Different Place

The last new category this summer will explore the journey that musicians take before landing in a successful band (or many). For example, Jeff Lynne was an up-and-coming musicians in the Idle Race before forming the more popular Electric Light Orchestra. Every musicians has a start.

A very Happy Memorial Day to all of you. I’m looking forward to a wonderful summer on The Music Court

A Gritty Reboot – The New Music Court on our Second Anniversary

28 May

The clock has been moved forward

The Music Court has now officially been around for over two years! Time does fly when your posting about music. Now that the blog has grown up in blog years, I think it deserves a makeover. As you can see the old theme is no more. I’m happy with this new theme. It is bolder and wider. I feel like it is more inviting and a little easier to read. All of the content is still there. Categories are now listed on the left-hand side of your screen.

The Music Court categories have also undergone a transformation. This change will continue over the next week. The new category ARCHIVES houses antiquated categories that have been moves to the back vault. Some categories have received name changes and all categories have received a blurb written about their content which can be unlocked by hovering your pointer over the category name.

Summer is a great time for the Music Court. For the past two years it has meant that I have more time on my hands. This summer should be no different. Therefore, I am embarking on the 60’s Band of the Week challenge once again. Let me break this down for some newer readers. In High School, I compiled a tremendous binder of materials about every 60s band I could find. The binder is not genre biased. It is made up of both bands and solo artists. Of course it does not represent the whole of 60s music. That is practically impossible. But I can confidently say that I have compiled a solid list of musicians, some well known and some underground. Starting next week this category will be back up and running.

Three new Music Court categories will be revealed tomorrow. If you have any ideas for categories feel free to e-mail me at New bands or artists can also e-mail that address for a chance to be featured on the blog. There are bands currently on the list! Follow the Music Court on twitter (@musiccourt) and on Facebook (The Music Court Blog).

Until tomorrow, here is one of my favorite summer songs for your listening pleasure:

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