Song of the Week – Viva La Vida, Marty Balin

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

Today’s Song of the Week (SotW) was written by guest contributor Ron Marcus.  This is Ron’s third trip around the track as a SotW author.  Ron is a very knowledgeable musicologist and a mega fan of the late Marty Balin.  In fact, he met Balin and even shared some of his song lyrics with him.

My name is Ron Marcus and I am honored that Tom has asked me to guest contribute a SotW in honor of the late Marty Balin.  Most of you know his history as the founder of Jefferson Airplane and a hitmaker with Jefferson Starship.  In 1965 he formed the Airplane and opened a nightclub in San Francisco called The Matrix.  He hosted all the original San Francisco bands and gave birth to the San Francisco sound that came out of the Haight Ashbury.  Even before Bill Graham, Marty is credited with creating a scene that actually changed the western world and beyond.

His hits with Jefferson Airplane included “It’s No Secret,” “Today,” “Coming Back to Me” and “Volunteers.” With Jefferson Starship he wrote their smash hit “Miracles,” along with “Count on Me,” “St. Charles” and “Runaway.”  His voice became legendary and he is still regarded as one of the greatest singers in rock and roll.

Then a funny thing happened in the 1980s.  Although he had two hits in 1981, — “Hearts” and “Atlanta Lady” — after that he slipped into obscurity.  He no longer could get a record deal and had to rely on small labels to release his catalog of 16 albums as a solo artist.  However, what lies so hidden in these gems are some of the best, heart felt love songs ever recorded. And (sadly) virtually no one has heard them!

Today’s SotW is called “Viva La Vida.”  It is from a 2010 disc called Blue Highway.

Marty Balin – Viva La Vida

It was inspired by the story of Frida Kahlo. In fact, Mary Balin was also an excellent painter and has incredible portraits of the rock stars he shared a stage with.  I chose this song because it presents a sense of optimism and a love of life, music and art. The horn section is especially vibrant. I have heard nearly every song Balin has recorded and I can assure you that none sound remotely like this.

I urge you to check his website at where you can see 10 of his ultra rare CDs and his artwork.  Although often Ignored and Obscured, Marty Balin was BY FAR the most creative and productive of all the original Jefferson Airplane members. His voice, spirit and his Viva La Vida (long live life) will be missed by millions, though only a few has really heard the full extent of his music.

Enjoy… until next week.

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