On March 24, 2020, Kansas City became subject to a Stay-At-Home order issued by Mayor Quinton Lucas. The order was in force until May 15, 2020.
Each morning of the order, Kansas City Star sportswriter Vahe Gregorian tweeted a theme song to start the day.
Each week, the songs were compiled in the Lonnie’s Jukebox section of Hot Stove (Hot Stoves 124-131). I anointed them “Gregorian Chants” and sometimes added bonus picks and commentary.
Thanks for the music Vahe.
Lonnie’s Jukebox – Gregorian Chants (Week One)
Day One (March 24) of Stay-At-Home Order: Vahe’s choice has a direct word-link to the Stay-At-Home order. It is “Stay”, a song covered by many artists since it first hit the charts six decades ago. The version linked in Vahe’s tweet is a performance by Jackson Browne, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen at the 1979 No Nukes concert (below). The year before, Jackson Browne had taken the song to #20 – it was a track on his monster 1977 album Running on Empty.
For those of us who grew up on rock ‘n’ roll in the 50s and 60s, our pick would be the original by the guy who wrote the song, Maurice Williams. His doo-wop version with the Zodiacs went to #1 in 1960. It is the shortest #1 song in chart history (96 seconds). Listen to his “Stay” here. In 1963, the Hollies and the Four Seasons also recorded popular covers. There is a fun Williams interview on YouTube on how he came up with the lyrics (click here).
[Maurice Williams Trivia: In 1957, Williams was a member of the Gladiolas, an earlier name for the Zodiacs. The group released a song written by Williams, “Little Darlin’,” which went to #11 on the R&B chart. A cover by a white Canadian group, the Diamonds, took it all the way to #2 on the pop chart. Many years later, the Diamonds were doing a show and were joined on stage by Williams (see that “Little Darlin’” here).
[No Nukes Concert Trivia: Nicolette Larson grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. She had a hit in 1978 with Neil Young’s “Lotta Love,” which she performed at the concert with the Doobie Brothers. She died too young (45).]
Day Two: Vahe tweeted that he was going off-theme for a day, inspired in part by Satchel Paige’s plans for staying young – “keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.” Vahe wrote a column the prior week about Bob Kendrick and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and so had Satchel on his mind. The pick is “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies, a fictional band featured in the animated TV series. The group of session musicians assembled by Don Kirshner produced a hit that held the #1 spot for four weeks in 1969.
Day Three: “You Can Look But You Better Not Touch” by Bruce Springsteen. The title says it all.
Day Four: “The Waiting” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Very apt lyrics:
The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part
Day Five: “Not Fade Away” by Buddy Holly. Vahe was tempted to pick the covers by Springsteen and the Stones, but went with the original. I was glad he did. Buddy is on my Mount Rushmore of rock ‘n’ roll along with Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and Little Richard.
Day Six: “In Your Time” by Bob Seger. The closing lyrics:
There’ll be peace
Across the great unbroken void
In your time
You’ll be fine
In your time
I can’t play Bob Seger without adding my favorite of his. You can probably guess. “I reminisce about the days of old…The kind of music that soothes the soul.” “Old Time Rock & Roll.”
Day Seven: “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” by Rosanne Cash, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin (singing at the Bob Dylan 30th anniversary concert). I’m assuming “nowhere” is like “stay” – you can still go out for groceries and take exercise walks.
The song was written by Bob Dylan, but the first released version was by The Byrds who took it to #74 in 1968 (listen to that one here).
The Byrds also sang a song that gives hope as we wait out the virus – “ to everything, there is a season” – “Turn, Turn, Turn.”
Lonnie’s Jukebox – Gregorian Chants (Week 2)
Day Eight (March 31) of Stay-At-Home Order: “Anticipation” by Carly Simon. COVID-19 is “keepin’ me waitin’.”
After I saw Vahe’s tweet on this, I sent him one of the Heinz Ketchup videos that made the song more famous than when it went to #13 in 1971. He admitted that “I’m of the generation (or at least an upbringing) that knew the song first from the ketchup commercial!” Click here for a sample of the ads for Heinz Ketchup that ran in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
This was one of a string of hits by Simon in the 1970’s. If you would like to listen to more Carly, try “You’re So Vain,” “Mockingbird” (with then-husband James Taylor) and “Nobody Does It Better” (for the Roger Moore as James Bond film The Spy Who Loves Me).
Music was in the air. I had two other deejay-like reports that same morning. The first was a David Von Drehle tribute to Joe Diffie, a 61-year-old country singer who died of COVID-19. I had heard the name, but admit I’m not up on country music. David linked several songs, and the one that caught my eye was “Bigger Than the Beatles”. This is definitely worth watching (all the way to the end for Beatles fans). It’s not unusual for a country song to have great lines, and this fits the bill. A Holiday Inn waitress loves the guitar player in the lounge (“he looks like Elvis”). A sample:
They got a love bigger then the Beatles
Wild and free like a Rollin’ Stone
They got a love takes ’em higher than the Eagles
Ain’t life such a sweet, sweet song
Also checking in on Tuesday morning was Jim Fitzpatrick who usually delivers us news in his JimmyCsays blog. Today though, he had some music to share, including “It’s Not Unusual” by Tom Jones. Jim says that when Jones was in the studio recording the song, the piano player went missing. They went to a nearby coffee house frequented by musicians and recruited keyboard man Reginald Dwight (who later became known as Elton John). Click here for Jim’s picks and also to sign up for his blog.
Day Nine: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones. Toilet paper. Purell. Anything at Costco – oh the lines.
Day 10: “Turn, Turn, Turn” by The Byrds. I had added this as a bonus selection in my last post, and Vahe picked up on it. Gave a nice shout-out in his tweet.
Day 11: “Better Things” by the Kinks. “I know that better things are on the way…”.
Day 12: “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers. The linked clip on Vahe’s tweet is a nice tribute by John Legend and Stevie Wonder at Withers’ 2015 induction at the R&R Hall of Fame. Click here for the original #1 hit from 1972 and here for a fun video of Withers inspiring the USC football team with the song.
Bill Withers died last week at age 81. His entry into music is a good story. After high school, Withers was in the navy for nine years. After he got out, he was working in a factory in California. He went out one night to a club where Lou Rawls was playing. Rawls was late, and Withers overheard the manager say “I’m paying this guy $2,000 a week and he can’t show up on time.” Withers told Rolling Stone that “I was making $3 an hour, looking for friendly women, and nobody found me interesting. Then Rawls walked in, and these women are talking to him.” He absorbed that lesson, bought a cheap guitar, wrote some songs, did some demo tapes and ended up in the studio with producer Booker T. Jones who with the MGs recorded Withers’ first album. A single off the album became his first big hit (#3), “Ain’t No Sunshine” (when baseball is gone).
Day 13: “I’m Alright” by Kenny Loggins. The clip is from the soundtrack of the 1980 film Caddyshack. As in Groundhog Day, Bill Murray shares the screen with a rodent, this time a golf-course-tunneling gopher.
Day 14 (April 6): “Going the Distance” and “The Final Bell” by Bill Conti. From the Rocky soundtrack. From Vahe: “Great as “Gonna Fly Now” is, these are the ones that make me think most about fighting on.”
Lonnie’s Jukebox – Gregorian Chants (Week 3)
Day 15 (April 4) of Stay-At-Home Order: “Badlands” by Bruce Springsteen.
Badlands, you gotta live it every day
Let the broken hearts stand
As the price you’ve gotta pay
Keep movin’ ’til it’s understood
And these badlands start treating us good
Day 16: “Don’t Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)” by Fleetwood Mac.
Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone
Day 17: “Things Can Only Get Better” by Howard Jones. I admit this artist was not familiar to me. Checked Wikipedia and found that he is an English singer who had several hits back in the 1980s. “Things Can Only Get Better” was released in February of 1985, a good point in time to be a theme song for the Royals. Things certainly got better than any previous year – the team won its first World Series in 1985.
Day 18: “I Shall Be Released” by Joan Baez. Bob Dylan wrote the song, and it was first recorded by The Band in 1968. The song was featured in The Band’s 1976 farewell concert (The Last Waltz), and they were joined on stage by Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Ronnie Wood, Ringo Starr and others (click here).
Dylan’s lyrics appear to be eternal…
Standing next to me in this lonely crowd,
Is a man who swears he’s not to blame.
All day long I hear him shout so loud,
Crying out that he was framed.
I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released
Day 19: “These Are Days” by 10,000 Maniacs.
Day 20: “Forever Young” by The Pretenders. Another song written by Bob Dylan.
Day 21: “Do It Again” by the Kinks. Could also have worked as a theme song for the movie Groundhog Day.
And now we’re back where we started
Here we go round again
Day after day I get up and I say
I better do it again
Lonnie’s Jukebox – Gregorian Chants (Week 4)
Day 22 (April 14) of Stay-At-Home Order: “The Long Run” by the Eagles.
Day 23: “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen. Because “wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face.”
Day 24: “The Times They Are A-Changin’”by Bob Dylan.
Day 25: “To Sir With Love” by Lulu. Vahe chose this “in honor of our teachers past and present. Where would we be without you?”
Day 26: “Against the Wind” by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band. “Still runnin’ against the wind … Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.”
Day 27: “Amazing Grace” by bagpiper John Tootle (live performance in KC).
Day 28: “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” by Gordon MacRae. From the 1955 film Oklahoma.
Lonnie’s Jukebox – Gregorian Chants (Week 5)
Day 29 (April 21) of Stay-At-Home Order: “Trapped” by Bruce Springsteen. A rock ‘n’ roll cover of Jimmy Cliff’s original reggae song. “I’ll teach my eyes to see beyond these walls in front of me/And someday I’ll walk out of here again.” Compare and contrast – listen to Jimmy Cliff’s version here.
Day 30: “Two of Us” by the Beatles. Fits for Lonnie and Rita.
I can’t listen to a Cat Stevens song without thinking of the cult classic Harold and Maude, a charming 1971 dark comedy starring Ruth Gordon and Bud Kort. The movie soundtrack has ten songs by Cat Stevens (“Sitting” is not one of them). Rita and I have seen the movie several times, and when I saw Vahe’s pick, I fired up Spotify to play the soundtrack. This prompted warm memories and also some dancing.
Day 32: “Who’ll Stop the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. An apt pick for a rainy Friday in Kansas City.
The song was written by John Fogerty and released in 1970 when he was with CCR. Fogerty moved on to a solo career and in 1985 released “Centerfield,” a staple in baseball stadiums to this day. The video for the song is nostalgic baseball footage that includes Willie Mays, the catch and Fogerty singing “So ‘Say Hey’ Willie, tell the Cobb, and Joe DiMaggio…”.
Day 33: “Into the Fire” by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. Vahe: “With love and gratitude for those brave souls risking their lives for us all.”
May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love give us love
Day 34: “Here Comes The Sun” by the Beatles. Another pick that matched the local weather – a sunny Sunday. This George Harrison song of renewal is being used by some hospitals to bolster morale. In Long Island at Mount Sinai South Nassau, the song is played over the public address system every time a COVID-19 patient is discharged.
The smiles returning to the faces
It seems like years since it’s been here
Day 35: “Good Day”by the Kinks.
Lonnie’s Jukebox – Gregorian Chants (Week 6)
Day 36 (April 28) of Stay-At-Home Order: “Maple Leaf Rag” by Scott Joplin. Vahe said this one was for “my Mama, Clare, who played it so wonderfully and died two years ago today.”
When I hear Scott Joplin’s music, my mind goes to the 1973 film The Sting (in my top-ten list) and its wonderful Marvin Hamlisch score of Scott Joplin music. The soundtrack album went to #1 and the big single off the album was “The Entertainer.” The movie won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Music Score.
Day 37: “The Promised Land” by Bruce Springsteen. In case you have not noticed, Vahe is a Springsteen fan. As for where we are until we reach the promised land…
Day 38: “No Man’s Land” by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band. “They’re all out there in no man’s land/Cause it’s the safest place to be.”
Day 39: “Gonna Fly Now” by Bill Conti. The theme song for Rocky, Oscar winner for Best Picture in 1976. The song went to #1 on the Billboard Top 100. This is one of the anthems being used by hospitals to celebrate victories during the pandemic.
Day 40: “Horse With No Name” by America. Day 40 is May 2, the day the Derby was to be run. So Vahe picked this song “for our own strange journey and, alas, this year’s Kentucky Derby winner.”
Day 41: “Days Like This” by Van Morrison. “Oh my mama told me/There’ll be days like this.”
Day 42: “Manic Monday” by Prince. It’s Monday, May 4. Vahe’s tweet: “If only it were a ‘Manic Monday’.”
Vahe linked the recording made by Prince in 1984, but which was not available until 2019 as part of the estate’s release of archival vault originals. It was one of several songs written by Prince for other artists while he was working on Purple Rain. The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs said that getting “Manic Monday” from Prince “was like putting on the slipper in a fairy tale.” Click here to play the Bangles cover. In 1986, it went to #2 (the #1 song that week was Prince’s “Kiss”).
Bonus Clip: Eric Adler and Vahe Gregorian wrote the lead front page story in yesterday’s Kansas City Star, profiling seven victims who had died because of COVID-19. One was Marvin Jackson, a musician, entrepreneur and preacher who died at the age of 60. When in middle school in the 1970s, Marvin and his brother Clifford Jackson (also a preacher) were part of the Lincoln Junior Boys, a drill team led by the legendary Willie Arthur Smith. The drill team later became known as the Kansas City Marching Cobras. In 2014, over 40 years after being on the drill team, the two brothers were at Clifford’s church and so was Willie Arthur Smith. With no rehearsal since 1973, the brothers snapped to Smith’s commands in unison as if they were once again at Lincoln Junior High. As Eric Adler tweeted, “There is a 100% joyful smile in one of these mini profiles…I guarantee 100% you’ll love it. I’ve watched it 15 times.” I agree with Eric, but have not yet reached 15. But I’ll get there. Click here (2:06; Marvin Jackson is the taller of the two marchers).
Lonnie’s Jukebox – Gregorian Chants (Week 7)
Day 43 (May 5) of Stay-At-Home Order: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Vahe chose a video “accompanied by dogs (and a cat) because they make the world such a better place.” I guarantee a few minutes of smiling when you watch this.
Day 44: “Hello Sunshine” by Bruce Springsteen. “Hello sunshine, won’t you stay?”
Day 45: “American Tune” by Simon & Garfunkel. The two artists reunited for their Central Park concert in 1981 and drew a crowd of 500,000. The song came from a 1973 solo album by Simon and was written in the shadow of Watergate and Vietnam. As an anthem for a troubled nation, it is compared to “This Land is Your Land” and “Born in the U.S.A.”
We come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age’s most uncertain hour
and sing an American tune
But it’s all right, it’s all right
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest
Day 46: “This Land Is Your Land” by Bruce Springsteen. A cover by the Boss of Woodie Guthrie’s anthem. Live from the 1985 “Born in the U.S.A.” tour.
Day 47: “Waterloo Sunset” by the Kinks. Finding peace away from the crowds.
Day 48: “The Wish” by Bruce Springsteen. Vahe gave a “Mother’s Day wish” and linked the version of the song from Springsteen on Broadway, his concert residency. Good memories for Rita and me because we were lucky and saw that show in New York in 2018.
Day 49: “The Ties That Bind” by Bruce Springsteen. Vahe: “Family and friends and colleagues and neighbors staying close even at a distance.” At our home yesterday, Rita and I connected with our four generations of family through a nine-screen Zoom call to celebrate Mother’s Day and granddaughter Emersyn’s 18th birthday. The ties that bind.
Bonus Pick: In honor of Little Richard, I’ll add “Keep a Knockin’” – a song with lyrics that could be used by someone in self-quarantine. “Keep a knockin’ but you can’t come in/Come back tomorrow night and try it again.” Maybe not even tomorrow night. Come back when it’s safe.
Lonnie’s Jukebox – Gregorian Chants (Week 8)
Day 50 (May 12) of Stay-At-Home Order: “Hawaii Five-0” by Morton Stevens. Vahe selected this “for some get-up-and-go and, you know, 50 days and all.” Trivia: The “0” is a zero, not the letter “O” – for the 50th state, but pronounced like the letter. The original series ran from 1968 to 1980. Stevens was the composer for the theme used on the TV show, but the hit record was a cover by the Ventures that went to #4 in 1969. My favorite by the Ventures was “Walk Don’t Run” which went to #2 in the summer of 1960.
Day 51: “Changes” by David Bowie. COVID-19 has made major changes in our lives. Some will linger beyond the pandemic.
Day 52: “Rose in the Garden” by Karla Bonoff. Vahe: “Pay close attention, but leave it room.”
Day 53 (May 15, 2020, Stay-At-Home order ends): “Out in the Street” by Bruce Springsteen.
My thanks to Vahe for his string of 53 theme songs for the days of the Stay-At-Home order.
Bonus Pick: I’ll add one from my high school days:
“Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” by Huey “Piano” Smith and the Clowns. This was a mild hit (#52) in 1957. Those in high school in the 1970s likely remember the 1972 version by Johnny Rivers (#6; click here).