Inspired by the passing of Kenny Rogers, the March 21 birthdays of The Stylistics’ Russell Thompkins Jr., Solomon Burke, The Prodigy’s Maxim, Eddie Money, Mungo Jerry’s Ray Dorsett, Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band’s Vivian Stanshall; and World Poetry Day.
Tag Archives: Michael Stipe
Inspired by the March 8 birthdays of The Monkees’ Micky Dolenz, Eagles’ Randy Meisner, Supergrass’ Gaz Coombes, frente!’s Angie Hart, Gary Numan, Peggy March, Keane’s Tom Chaplin, and songwriter Carole Bayer Sager.
Many folks poo-poo the idea of making New Year’s resolutions. They say you’re only setting yourself for failure by doing so. You’ll break the resolutions, hate yourself for breaking your resolutions, and fall into a downward spiral that leaves you lonely, depressed and listening to nothing but Justin Guarini.
I say don’t throw out the whole idea of resolutions. The trick is to make resolutions you can keep. With that in mind here are my New Year’s resolutions for 2015:
1) Eat more sugary treats.
2) Watch more television.
3) Maintain a cluttered home.
4) Spend more money.
5) Spend more time on Facebook.
6) Don’t help anyone.
7) Blow a gasket.
8) Think negatively and laugh less.
9) Win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
10) Stay single.
With your help, I think I can keep these.
Today is Michael Stipe’s birthday. Our playlist consists mostly of his work as the lead singer of R.E.M., with a few side gigs thrown in.
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Patti Smith was born in Chicago on December 30, 1946.
She co-wrote a play called Cotton Mouth with Sam Shepard, which she performed once, in 1971.
She wrote lyrics for several Blue Öyster Cult songs. For a while she was under consideration to be the band’s lead singer.
The Patti Smith Group released their first record in 1974, a single featuring the songs “Hey Joe” and “Piss Factory.”
Patti Smith has released eleven studio albums to date: Horses, Radio Ethiopia, Easter, Wave, Dream of Life, Gone Again, Peace and Noise, Gung Ho, Trampin’, Twelve and Banga.
The Patti Smith Group’s debut album, 1975’s Horses, was listed at #1 on NME’s list of “20 Near-as-Damn-It Perfect Initial Efforts.” It was #44 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time” and #49 in Out magazine’s “100 Greatest, Gayest Albums of All Time” list.
Easter also made the Out magazine list, coming in at #64.
David Keenan of the Sunday Herald placed Radio Ethiopia on his list of “The 103 Best Albums Ever, Honest .”
Rolling Stone called Gone Again one of the “Essential Recordings of the Nineties.”
Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Carcass” was inspired by Smith’s Horses.
About Horses, R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe said it “tore my limbs off and put them back on in a whole different order.” In 1996 Smith contributed vocals to R.E.M.’s “E-bow the Letter.”
Patti Smith was not a member of the band The Smiths. However, the group’s Morrissey and Johnny Marr said that their song “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” is a reworking of “Kimberly” from Patti’s Horses. Morrissey later released a single with a cover of that album’s “Redondo Beach.”
Sammy Hagar covered Horses’ “Free Money” on his self-titled album.
Courtney Love said Smith’s Horses album helped inspire her to become a rock star.
U2 covered Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot” for the b-side of their “When Loves Comes to Town” single. Smith later covered U2’s “Until the End of the World” for a U2 tribute compilation.
In 2005, Patti Smith was named a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture.
She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
In 2010 she won the National Book Award for her memoir Just Kids, which documents her romantic relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe as the couple were struggling artists and Mapplethorpe was struggling with his homosexuality. Mapplethorpe, whose photographs of Smith covered her albums Horses, Wave and Dream of Life, died from AIDS-related illness in 1989. Smith donated the royalties for her 1996 book The Coral Sea to the Robert Mapplethorpe Laboratory for AIDS Research at Boston’s Deaconess Hospital/Harvard Medical School.
Smith’s sole top 40 pop hit was 1978’s “Because the Night.” The song’s music and chorus were written by Bruce Springsteen. He had trouble writing verses to it as it was a love song and at that time he wasn’t writing straightforward love songs. He gave what he had done to Patti Smith, who was recording an album in the studio next to where he was recording Darkness in the Edge of Town. Her record, which reached #13, was the first hit for producer Jimmy Iovine, who later co-founded Interscope Records and Beats by Dr. Dre.
“Gloria” was written by Van Morrison for his band Them. It peaked at #93 in 1965. Smith covered the song using the title of the Catholic hymn “Gloria: in Excelsis Deo,” adding her own lyrics.
About how “People Have the Power” came to be, Patti told UK music mag NME “I was in the kitchen. My late husband was writing music, and he was a great songwriter, Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith, and we were writing some songs together. And I was peeling potatoes, and I remember I was in a bad mood because I had, you know, I was making dinner and washing the clothes and peeling potatoes. And in the middle of it, Fred came in and said, ‘Tricia, people have the power, write it.’ And I was standing there with a potato peeler thinking I’d like to have the power to make him peel these potatoes, that’s what I’d like… but I kept him. So for the next few nights, I really contemplated – because Fred was very political, and we talked about it, what we wanted to do with this line, which was Fred’s. And what we wanted to do was remind the listener of their individual power but also of the collective power of the people, how we can do anything. That’s why at the end it goes, ‘I believe everything we dream can come to pass, through our union we can turn the world around, we can turn the earth’s revolution.’ We wrote it consciously together to inspire people, to inspire people to come together.”
Smith’s “About a Boy” was written about Kurt Cobain. She told the Seattle Weekly “I was heartbroken when he committed suicide. I loved Nirvana … [My husband and I] felt so badly. We just wished that we would have known him, and been able to talk to him, and had some positive effect on him.” She covered Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on her album Twelve.
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In October 1998, as a member of their fan club and a New York resident, R.E.M. invited me to the taping of their Storytellers episode for VH-1. My friend Kathy, a fellow R.E.M. fan, was my +1.
We got on the line with the other invitees and their guests. People were shown to their seats by ushers in what appeared to be a first come first served basis, an organized general admission.
When Kathy and I got to the front of the line an employee at the studio asked us to step to the side. We watched as the ushers seated all the people who got on line after us. I was getting annoyed.
Then that employee asked us to follow him. He seated us in the front row. We must have looked extra cool that day.
While performing, the band’s lead singer, Michael Stipe, often looked at papers on a music stand to his right. He explained that he doesn’t remember the lyrics to all his songs, so he went on the Internet earlier and printed them out from random lyric sites, apologizing if he sang the wrong words. After each song he’d drop the lyric sheet to the floor. After the show I collected two of them – “Fall on Me” and “Daysleeper.”
Today Michael Stipe turns 54. Get to know his music a little more with today’s playlist.