Song of the Week – Pony, Annette Peacock & Aladdin Sane, David Bowie

Ignored             Obscured              Restored

Annette Peacock is one of those artists that almost no one remembers, even though she was quite influential in her day.  Her 1972 album I’m the One was a mix of jazz, psych, and avant-garde funk.  It was helped along with a prototype synthesizer that we provided to her by none other than Robert Moog himself.  She used it to process her vocals very effectively.

As background, Peacock was married to jazz bassist Gery Peacock in the early ‘60s when she hooked up with Timothy Leary at Millbrook — the hippy commune just east of Poughkeepsie, NY devoted to drug experimentation and spirituality — to study Zen and Microbiotics.  She later married jazz keyboardist Paul Bley, who was also a pioneer in the use of ARP and Moog synthesizers.

On I’m the One (1972), Peacock was responsible for vocals, electronic vocals, acoustic and electric piano, synthesizers, and electric vibraphone.  It also included appearances by Bley, keyboardist Mike Garson, and drummer Rick Marotta.

Legend has it that David Bowie was so impressed with I’m the One that he invited Peacock to guest on his next album — Aladdin Sane.  (The title is a pun on the words A Lad Insane.) She declined but suggested Bowie hire her keyboardist, Garson.  Garson accepted and is responsible for the innovative piano solo on the title song.  It is one of my favorites!

So, if you are the type of person that is always seeking out new musical ideas, check out Peacock’s I’m the One.  It is available on Spotify and YouTube.

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – It Ain’t Easy; Three Dog Night, Long John Baldry, David Bowie, Ron Davies

Ignored            Obscured             Restored

There’s a song that was recorded several times in a short period of time in 1970-1971 by major Rock artists.  You probably are familiar with “It Ain’t Easy” by one of them.

If you were into MOR Rock you would know the version by Three Dog Night.

If you favored British, blues-based Rock you may have heard Long John Baldry’s take.

If you were into Glam Rock you definitely heard the cut on David Bowie’s … Ziggy Stardust… album.

But despite the exposure from all these renditions, I’ll bet you never heard the original by the song’s composer, Ron Davies.

Davies was a talented songwriter that never broke through with commercial success.  “It Ain’t Easy” was on his acclaimed album Silent Song Through the Land (1970).  Unfortunately, that album isn’t available to stream on Spotify, and vinyl copies on Discogs command a pretty penny.

The Three Dog Night version was released on their album of the same name in 1970.  It was their fourth release in 18 months!  That’s a remarkable achievement, even for a band that curated its repertoire from other songwriters, and one of the four was a live album.

Baldry’s recording was also on an album with the same name (1971).  This is the album that was produced by Rod Stewart (side one) and Elton John (side two).  “It Ain’t Easy” was on the Stewart side and was backed by a number of the musicians that supported him on the Every Picture Tells a Story album.  Maggie Bell is the sassy female vocalist harmonizing with Baldry.

Bowie’s take was initially recorded for the Hunky Dory sessions but was ultimately left off that album.  But he brought it back and placed it at the end of side one of Ziggy.  Ultimately that was an odd choice since “It Ain’t Easy” does not fit with the thematic content of the rest of Ziggy Stardust.  But as I’ve said many times in the SotW… you can’t keep a good song down!

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Ozark & This Is Not America, Lyle Mays

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

Keyboard player, and long-time collaborator with Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays died on February 10th.

Although I never saw the Pat Metheny Group, of which Mays was a key player, I did see Mays, Metheny, Jaco Pastorius and Michael Brecker in Providence, RI on August 27, 1979, as members of Joni Mitchell’s touring band on the Shadows and Light tour.

I bought the first Pat Metheny Group album, As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls, an album that featured songs that were all co-written by Mays and Metheny.  The first SotW is “Ozark” from that 1981 album.

I selected this track because it features Mays unique keyboard style.

In 1985, Mays and Metheny worked with David Bowie to write “This Is Not America” for the soundtrack to The Falcon and the Snowman

That song is based on a Pat Metheny Group instrumental called “Chris” (also included on the soundtrack) for which Bowie wrote lyrics.  The song reached the Top 40 on the Billboard charts.

Mays won 11 Grammys and received 23 nominations in his professional career that ended in 2011, when he pivoted to a career as a software consultant.

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Lazarus, David Bowie; You Want It Darker, Leonard Cohen; Jesus Alone, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds


My mind has been unnaturally fixated on mortality lately. Today marks the 39th year anniversary of my father’s passing. A few weeks ago I lost a very dear friend of mine at the far too young age of 61 after a short but very nasty battle with cancer. I was fortunate to have a long conversation with her in February when it appeared that her late 2016 surgery had bought her more time. Sadly, she took a terrible turn for the worse shortly afterward.

2016 was an especially hard year for rock deaths. A number of very important artists died during the year – Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey, Keith Emerson, Paul Kantner, Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell, Greg Lake and George Michael to name a few.

Bowie was first, on January 10th, just 2 days after the release of Blackstar. He was struggling with cancer but chose to keep his illness private and focused on his work. An example to all of us, he worked right up until has passing and left us with one of the best albums of his storied career – yes, even compared to his iconic 70s and 80s classics.

The song “Lazarus”, released as the second single from the album, has often been cited for lyrics that hinted at the artist’s struggle to deal with his illness and impending mortality:

Look up here, I’m in heaven
I’ve got scars that can’t be seen
I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen
Everybody knows me now

In an eerily similar circumstance, Leonard Cohen released his last album – You Want It Darker – on his 82nd birthday, less than two months before his death from complications after a fall.

In an article in the February 2017 issue of Mojo, referring to the title track, Sylvie Simmons wrote:

In his final album, he sang himself back home. “Hineni,” he sang. “I am ready”’, accompanied by the cantor and choir of Congregational Shaar Hashomayim in Montreal, the synagogue his great grandfather founded, and in whose cemetery he would be buried on November 10, in a private ceremony, next to his parents.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds also released a superb album in 2016 called Skeleton Tree. The album was initiated in late 2014 but took a much different turn after the death of Cave’s 15 year old, twin son Arthur who fell from a cliff in England in July, 2015. The tragedy initially debilitated Cave but eventually he channeled his grief into a very moving work, the making of which he had documented for a film called One More Time With Feeling.

The album’s opener is “Jesus Alone.”

It includes a line “You fell from the sky, crash landed in a field…” that could only be described as a premonition since it was written before Arthur’s demise.

At least when we have to deal with such sadness, we have exceptional art to help us to process our emotions and feel community with others that have suffered similar experiences.

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Heroes, David Bowie – It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City, David Bowie – Let’s Dance, M Ward – Wake Up, Arcade Fire w/ David Bowie


I hadn’t really planned to post about David Bowie today. All week there have been media articles, radio tributes, and playlists to honor his passing. Sirius/XM even turned The Loft into an all Bowie station for a limited time. What more is there for me to add to the conversation?

But a very good friend of mine sent me an email saying he was looking forward to my take on the Bowie legacy so I decided to take a stab at it after all. My slant is to illuminate the various facets of Bowie as a performer, interpreter, writer and collaborator.

I’ll start by simply offering my all-time favorite Bowie song, “Heroes.”

“Heroes” was released as a single but never really achieved meaningful chart success. It was a well-known album cut but wasn’t among his most commercial releases. So I was surprised when I notice that it is the 3rd top Bowie song listened to on Spotify (with over 25 million streams, behind only “Space Oddity” and “Life on Mars”).

I’ve always dug the way it starts off with such power but continues to build and build, even when you think it’s no longer possible.

Next let’s listen to Bowie covering another artist – Bruce Springsteen’s “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City.”

Bowie was an early proponent of Springsteen, having recorded two songs (“It’s Hard to Be A Saint…” and “Growin’ Up”) from The Boss’ first album Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.

There are scores of great covers of Bowie songs by others. Take a listen to “Let’s Dance” by M Ward.

This melancholy version of Bowie’s exhilarating club hit underscores the simple beauty of the song.

Finally, Bowie was always generously shared his talent with other artists, from Bing Crosby (“Little Drummer Boy”) to Mick Jagger (“Dancing in the Street”) to Queen (“Under Pressure”). My pick for a cool collaboration is his effort with Arcade Fire on their “Wake Up.”

There we go Mike. I hope I didn’t disappoint!

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – The Gouster samples, David Bowie


Rock and roll has a long history of albums recorded by big name acts that never saw release (except on bootlegs, of course). There was The Beach Boys’ SMiLE (but that’s now been released), The Who’s Lifehouse (though many of its songs came out on various other Who albums), The Kinks’ Four More Respected Gentlemen (most of which was released on The Village Green Preservation Society and The Kinks Kronikles) and Prince’s The Black Album (ultimately released 7 years after the originally planned release date). As you can tell, these recordings almost always eventually see the light of day.

But back in 1974-75, David Bowie was working on an album tentatively titled The Gouster. (If you want to know what a gouster is, check out this post at – Gouster or Ivy Leaguer?

The Gouster may have been Bowie’s prototype for the “Thin White Duke.”

It turns out, early in the sessions, Bowie recorded about five songs in the Philly soul style that was popular at the time that never made it onto the album that was ultimately released as Young Americans. Three of them were released on either the Sound + Vision boxed set on Rykodisc (1989) or as bonus cuts on the remastered release of Young Americans (2007). They were:

– John, I’m Only Dancing
– Who Can I Be Now?
– It’s Gonna Be Me

But there were two other songs that have never been released – “I Am a Lazer” and “Shilling the Rubes.”

We only have these snippets to hear for now. Where did they come from? In 2009 a reel of tape from the sessions came up on eBay for $15,000. The seller let us “sip out of the cup” in order to validate the tape’s authenticity. The speculation has always been that Bowie bought back the tape to prevent it from being exploited.

In any case, we only have these fragments to whet our appetite for full versions sometime in the future.

Enjoy… until next week.