The Sunday Six

Celebrating music with six random tracks at a time

Welcome to another Sunday Six where I’d like to celebrate the beauty of music in different flavors over the past 60 years or so, six tunes at a time. Let’s embark on today’s journey.

Wayne Shorter/Infant Eyes

Getting us underway today is soothing jazz by saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter. In addition to being a sideman playing with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet, Shorter started his recording career as a bandleader in 1959 with Introducing Wayne Shorter – the first of more than 20 additional albums he has made in that role. In 1970, Shorter became a co-founder of jazz fusion band Weather Report. Here’s Infant Eyes, a beautiful track he composed for his sixth album Speak No Evil, which appeared in June 1966. After an incredible 60-year-plus recording career Shorter (88 years) is now retired.

John Cougar Mellencamp/Rain On The Scarecrow

Next, let’s go to August 1985 and the eighth studio album by heartland-turned-roots rock artist John Mellencamp, who I trust doesn’t need much of an introduction. Scarecrow was the record that brought Mellencamp on my radar screen. At the time, he was still known as John Cougar Mellencamp and nine years into his recording career that had started in 1976 with the Chestnut Street Incident, released as Johnny Cougar. His manager at the time, Tony Defries, had come up with this name, convinced an artist with the last name Mellencamp wouldn’t generate much interest. Mellencamp who hated the name kept “Cougar” through Scarecrow before finally adopting his real name John Mellencamp for the follow-on album The Lonesome Jubilee from August 1987. While Scarecrow is best known for its U.S. top 10 hits R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A., Small Town and Lonely Ol’ Night, I decided to highlight Rain On The Scarecrow, a tune I’ve always loved. Mellencamp penned it together with his childhood friend and longtime writing partner George Green.

The Byrds/Tiffany Queen

Every time I hear the name The Byrds, my first thought is the jingle-jangle guitar sound perfected by Rickenbacker maestro guitarist and vocalist Roger McGuinn. From the very first moment I heard songs like Mr. Tambourine Man, All I Really Want to Do and Turn! Turn! Turn! I was hooked, and I still get excited about the sound of a Rickenbacker to this day. While I knew there was more to The Byrds than a jangly guitar sound and great harmony singing, until the other day, I had not been aware of Tiffany Queen. Written by McGuinn, it became the opener of their 11th studio album Farther Along from November 1971. By that time, McGuinn was the band’s only original member, though the other co-founders Gene Clarke, David Crosby, Michael Clarke and Chris Hillman reunited with McGuinn one more time for the group’s 1973 eponymous final album. Here’s Tiffany Queen, which compared to the three above-mentioned tunes has more of a straight rock sound- I like it!

Fats Domino/Blueberry Hill

Yes, it may seem a bit arbitrary to throw in Blueberry Hill by Fats Domino. But then again, this goes to the central idea of The Sunday Six to feature music from different eras, in a zig-zag fashion. Plus, it’s a timeless classic! Written by Vincent Rose with lyrics by John L. Rooney, Blueberry Hill was first recorded by the Sammy Kaye Orchestra in May 1940, featuring Tommy Ryan on vocals. In 1940 alone, the tune was recorded five more times, including by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the most successful of the six versions, which reached no. 2 on the U.S. charts. But to this day, Blueberry Hill is best remembered by Fats Domino’s amazing rendition released in 1956. It was also included on Domino’s third studio album This Is Fats Domino!, which came out in December that year. It became his sixth no. 1 on the U.S. R&B chart and his biggest hit on the mainstream Billboard Hot 100 (no. 2), then-called the Top 100. Feel free to groove along!

Peter Gabriel/Steam

Recently, fellow blogger Dave from A Sound Day hosted another great installment of his Turntable Talk feature, which focused on the MTV music video era. Dave was kind enough to invite me back to participate, and as I noted in my contribution, Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer would get my vote for best video. With the ex-Genesis lead vocalist on my mind, perhaps it’s not a big surprise a Gabriel tune is included in this Sunday Six. While I generally prefer So and his earlier albums, I decided to pick a song from Us, the follow-on to So, released in September 1992. Here’s Steam, a nice funky pop tune. It also appeared separately as a single in January 1993 and became Gabriel’s final significant chart success. This included a no. 1 in Canada and top 10 placements in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand. In the U.S., the song steamed to no. 2 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart. Songfacts notes similarities to Sledgehammer, including prominent horn lines and lyrics “loaded with sexual references.” I guess that’s a fair observation. It doesn’t bother me!

Sheryl Crow/Real Gone

And once again it’s time to wrap up. Since Sheryl Crow entered my radar screen in 1993 with All I Wanna Do, her breakthrough hit from her debut album Tuesday Night Music Club, I’ve enjoyed listening to her music. When she released Threads in August 2019, which I reviewed here, she noted the collaboration album was her final full-length release. Crow cited changed listening habits where most people build their own playlists rather than listen to albums. As sad as it is, it’s a fair point. Plus, Crow hasn’t retired from the music business and has since released a few additional singles. Plus, she’s currently on the road. Real Gone is a nice rock tune from the soundtrack of the 2006 animated film Cars, which appeared in May 2006. My son was four and a half years old at the time and liked the toy cars from Cars – dad liked them as well! Real Gone, which also was released in June 2006 as the second single from the soundtrack, was co-written by Crow and John Shanks who also produced the tune.

Last but least, here’s a Spotify list featuring the above picks.

Sources: Wikipedia; Songfacts; Sheryl Crow website; YouTube; Spotify

20 thoughts on “The Sunday Six”

  1. some great picks ! When ‘Rain on the Scarecrow’ came out, I was already a Mellencamp (well probably still called him ‘Cougar’ then) fan but that one took it to another level. Fantastic. And ‘Steam’, yep a forgotten great… like you noted it was #1 in Canada, huge in Toronto but seemed to do poorly elsewhere. It had a good video too like his So songs; so too did ‘Digging in the Dirt’ from the same album though that one was creepy with all those wasps.

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  2. As a kid I was a little bit scared of the Peter Gabriel videos, especially “Digging In The Dirt” and “Kiss That Frog”, but the music from “US” is still great.

    I like the movie “Cars”, especially their intention about friendship, and I have it on DVD. There’s another classic tune which they incorporate into Lighting McQueen but I forgot the original version. I prefer watching DisneyPixar movies than action-destroying movies…

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      1. Sorry, small misunderstanding. Of course I also like listening to this song than watching this video. But when I saw Peter Gabriel live he also sang this song and I had to close my eyes. No, not because of the little ones but a staccato of flashlights came during this song. I don’t like that.

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      2. Thanks, Sori, I realized your comment referred to the creepy video only, not the song, which isn’t bad.

        I saw Peter Gabriel in Cologne during the tour that supported “So.” I remember it as a great show, including his choreagraphy.

        There were spotlights attached to some telecopic arms that would “engage” with Gabriel, i.e., move toward him, then retract. I don’t remember any crazy flashing lights. Just the interaction between the telescopic spotlights and Herr Gabriel. I thought it was a cool idea!

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  3. Tiffany Queen! One of my favorite songs by the Byrds. I had a cassette tape of them way back in the day and this was on it. I did a post on it a long time ago and more people knew it than I thought would…love the guitar and the way McGuinn sings it.

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    1. Thanks, Max, that’s cool. Looks like you know The Byrds better than I do. I had not been aware of “Tiffany Queen” until my streaming provider served it up the other day as part of a playlist.

      While as you know I don’t get tired raving about McGuinn’s Rickenbacker sound a la “Mr. Tambourine Man”, I liked “Tiffany Queen” from the get-go – just a nice straight rock tune. And, yes, I also dig his singing – an all around pleasant song!

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      1. The way he phrases in this one is great. I just lucked up on it one day in the eighties… it was on some greatest hits I had.

        I like his guitar as well in this one… rock and roll 12 string

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  4. Today I made hot and sour soup to your playlist and am eating as I read your post. I truly love that first time. The rest are good also. Never heard the Byrds or Crow tunes. From the kitchen when I recognized Crow my first thought was she has a new album! Hearing “old new” music is just as good to me. Another winning playlist, Christian.

    Oh one more thing, I keep noticing that the jazz and blues musicians seem to live a lot longer than most rock and roll or country musicians. Things that make you go hm?

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  5. Blueberry Hill is my favorite 1950s record, except for maybe one of the big Doo Wop hits or Elvis or something. I didn’t know it was that old all the way back to the 1940s. He had a few more great ones that I love too like Ain’t That a Shame and I Hear You Knocking and Walking to New Orleans. I think those are all older songs too probably. or at least I’ve heard a lot of other versions anyway.

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  6. I’m a big fan of Us – there’s a bunch of great tracks on it – ‘Secret World’ is the best thing he ever did in his solo career IMO.

    I enjoyed listening to Tiffany Queen – I’m woefully unaware of post-Hillman Byrds.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love “Rain on the Scarecrow”; that opening guitar riff that continues through the song still gives me chills. I became a Fats Domino fan as a toddler, when my much older half-brother played his records. “Steam” is a good song, and like you, I always loved Peter Gabriel’s trippy videos.

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