The Sunday Six

Celebrating music with six random tracks at a time

Welcome to another Sunday Six where I take little journeys into the beautiful world of music, including different eras and different flavors, six tunes at a time. Hope you’ll join me!

Jeff Beck/Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers

Earlier this week, we lost one of the greatest guitarists in rock history, Jeff Beck, who suddenly passed away near his home in Southern England at the age of 78 from bacterial meningitis. As such, it feels right to start today’s mini-excursion in March 1975 and Blow By Blow. Beck’s second album that appeared under his name followed Beck, Bogert & Appice, the eponymous and only release by the short-lived power trio Beck had formed after he had dissolved the Jeff Beck Group. Beck gained initial prominence as a member of The Yardbirds where he succeeded Eric Clapton. For a short time, he intersected with Jimmy Page. Somewhere I read all three of these British ‘guitar gods’ grew up in the same geographic area. Unlike Clapton and Page, Beck never achieved huge chart success or record sales. It didn’t take away anything from his brilliance. Here’s his beautiful instrumental rendition of Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers, a tune written by Stevie Wonder. I was happy to see it’s Beck’s most streamed track on Spotify.

The Walkabouts/Nightdrive

We will visit the ’70s one more time. For now, let’s continue our trip with a stop in December 1994 and Setting the Woods On Fire, the seventh album by The Walkabouts. Before continuing, I’d like to give a shoutout to fellow blogger Hotfox63 who covered one of the band’s other records last December, which brought them on my radar screen. The Walkabouts were formed in Seattle, Wa. in 1984. Inspired by folk and country music from the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Neil Young and Johnny Cash, the group released 13 studio albums before they disbanded in 2015. Their rich sound also drew from other genres and artists, such as Scott Walker, Leonard Cohen and Jacques Brel. This brings me to Nightdrive, a song off the above-mentioned album. It’s credited to all members of the group, who at the time included co-founders Chris Eckman (vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, lyrics) and Carla Torgerson (vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, cello), along with Glenn Slater (piano, organ, accordion, loops), Michael Wells (bass guitar, harmonica) and Terri Moeller (drums, percussion, backup vocals) – love that tune!

R.E.M./It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

And we’re on to the ’80s with a song by R.E.M. I had earmarked for a Sunday Six several months ago. Coincidentally, fellow blogger Mike from Ticket to Ride just took a look back at the studio catalog of the American band that started in 1980 in Athens, Ga., and was active until 2011. While I like R.E.M. for their melodic songs and jangly guitar sound, I only know them based on certain songs and have yet to take a deeper dive into their albums. One of the tunes I’ve been aware of for a long time is It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine). Credited to all members and co-founders of the band – Michael Stipe (lead vocals), Peter Buck (guitar), Mike Mills (bass, keyboards, backing vocals) and Bill Berry (drums, backing vocals), the tune first appeared on R.E.M.’s fifth studio album Document released in September 1987, their most successful at the time. It also became the record’s second single but didn’t match the success of the lead single The One I Love. I’ve always dug both tunes.

Bruce Cockburn/Wondering Where the Lions Are

When I was recently in Germany, I met with my longtime friend and music buddy who has given me many great tips since the days when we were bandmates during the second half of the ’80s. One of the artists he mentioned during our recent get-together is Bruce Cockburn (pronounced KOH-bərn). Frankly, other than the name, I wasn’t familiar at all with the Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist. Where do you start with an artist who has been active since 1967 and released 30-plus albums? Admittedly, I took a shortcut and checked Spotify. The most streamed tune there is Wondering Where the Lions Are. While I can’t tell you at this time whether it’s Cockburn’s best song, I liked it right away. Included on his 1979 album Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaw, the tune is his only U.S. top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching no. 21. In his native Canada, it got to no. 39 on the mainstream chart and no. 7 on the adult contemporary chart. Overall, it looks like Cockburn has been most successful in his home country. Based on another album I heard, he appears to be pretty versatile and definitely is an artist I’d like to further explore. For now, here’s Wondering Where the Lions Are, which like all other tracks on the album was penned by Cockburn – a beautiful folk tune that reminds me a bit of fellow Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot!

Southern Avenue/Control

Time to pay a visit to the present. When it comes to contemporary artists one of the bands I keep coming back to are Southern Avenue. The group from Memphis, Tenn., which has been around since 2015, blends blues and soul with flavors of contemporary R&B. I also love the racial diversity they represent.  Southern Avenue are Israeli blues guitarist Ori Naftaly; three amazing African American ladies, lead vocalist Tierinii Jackson and her sisters Tikyra Jackson (drums, backing vocals) and Ava Jackson (backing vocals); white bassist Evan Sarver; and African American keyboarder Jeremy Powell. Tellingly, in 2016, they became the first new act signed to Stax Records in many years. Control, co-written by Naftaly and Tierinii Jackson, is from the band’s most recent third studio album Be the Love You Want, released in August 2021, which I reviewed here at the time. The funky tune also appeared separately as a single leading up to the album’s release. I find this music is full of soul and pretty seductive.

Byrds/So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star

The sixth tune means we’re once again about to reach the final stop of yet another music excursion. Let’s make it count with a ’60s gem by the Byrds: So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star. Co-written by co-founders Roger McGuinn (credited as Jim McGuinn) and Chris Hillman, the tune has been characterized by Byrds expert Tim Conners as “an acerbic, but good-natured swipe at the success of manufactured rock bands like the Monkees.” While I’m not a fan of how The Monkees came to be, I love their music. Plus, once Don Kirshner was out of the picture, the group’s members started playing their own instruments and getting more control over their music. So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star first appeared in January 1967 as the lead single of the Bryrds’ fourth studio album Younger Than Yesterday, which came out the following month.

Of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without a Spotify playlist featuring each of the highlighted six tunes. Hope there’s something for here!

Sources: Wikipedia; YouTube; Spotify

18 thoughts on “The Sunday Six”

  1. I’m a big fan of REM — both their music and their story. One reason their songs are credited to all four band members is that they always agreed that they’d share equally in the publishing rights regardless of how much each member contributed. It was a way of promising each other that all of the long days on the road when nobody knew them would pay off equally for everyone. It also saved them from the kind of acrimony that plagued the Smiths when they broke up.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Since you mentioned
    it, Wondering Where the Lions Are probably is Bruce Cockburn’s best song, to me anyway. Definitely his most popular. You’re right that he wasn’t really big anywhere except for Canada, but in the border cities in the States he was sorta well known and used to get a lot of airplay on FM stations. My brother had some of his albums, so I’ve heard some of those early ones. I used to hear that song on FM radio but I didn’t know it did so well in the top 40. That kind of surprised me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. But you know what? I have to disagree with you that The Monkees got better when they started playing their own instruments. The early Don Kirschner stuff was better. Most of their best records are on those first couple albums

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. My swipe at Don Kirschner primarily was about his insistence to reduce the role of The Monkees to singing songs he picked and not allow them to play their instruments (granted, their initial skills were limited) or write their own music. That said, there’s no doubt that early tunes like “Last Train to Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer” are gems in their catalog.


      1. Yep. We wouldn’t be talking about them today if it wasn’t for the songs that they had picked out for them from the Brill Building writers, the studio musicians, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. For sure, that would make a great post for ya. I always loved Brill Building and when I was probably about college age I went into Manhattan to go see the Brill Building, even though that’s a misnomer because the building that they worked at is actually around the corner at 1645 Broadway, I think is the address. And I got the doorman to let me into the lobby and it was a really nice building, like one of those old 1930s places. I think it’s so weird that I went there but it was awesome. I didn’t go into the actual building that’s named the Brill building though. And I think it may have been torn down recently I think I read somewhere.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice list! I’m a huge REM fan & even though I think ‘It’s the end of the world’s is a bit overplayed, I still like it & would rather hear it than many other hits of the mainstream 80s. It made them nice little deposits to their retirement funds around the beginning of the pandemic I think too… suddenly it was back on the charts! But the one that caught my eye was Bruce Cockburn. Real familiar to a Canadian like me, but not much elsewhere. ‘Wondering..’ was his only US hit, but seems a bit simple & repetitive to me. I like ‘Tokyo’ ‘Waiting for a Miracle’ and ‘the Trouble with Normal’ a lot better, maybe ‘Coldest night of the Year’ too. Mostly a socially-aware but angry seeming folkie with a guitar, good songwriter though.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Dave. I definitely want to further explore Bruce Cockburn. In the meantime, I listened to his “Charity of the Night” album from 1996 and was impressed with the versatily, including folk, roots rock and even an instrumental with a jazzy touch!


  5. Cool Jeff Beck song in there…man I still can’t believe he is gone. I don’t’ know much about the Walkabouts…but I love it.
    Love the REM song…in the top 5 of my favorite REM songs.

    Personally I think some of the Monkees best songs were after Kirshner… Pleasant Valley Sunday, Daydream Believer, What Am I Doing Hanging Round, and my favorite Randy Scouse Git…if Kirshner would have compromised it wouldn’t have come to that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Max. Beck gone, BTO drummer Robbie Bachman gone. And Lisa Marie Presley (frankly, I primarily know of her as Elvis’ daughter – still a known name) – 2023 certainly isn’t off to a great start.

      I should spent more time with exploring Jeff Beck. I saw him twice and both gigs were great. His guitar tone was something else! The first concert in 2016 included Tal Wilkenfeld as part of his backing band. She was also amazing!

      The Walkabouts seem to be worthwhile exploring, based on what I’ve heard to date.

      When it comes to The Monkees, I guess it’s easy to villify Don Kirschner. While he picked some great songs for them and obviously helped them get on the map, it sounds like he was very controlling. As such, it’s not clear to me whether they would have become “a real band”, had they continued with him.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Beck got sounds out of a guitar that no one else made…personally I think he was the greatest guitarist the Yardbirds ever had.
        He was very controlling…that was the problem. Nesmith and Tork were good musicians to begin with… Nesmith was a very good songwriter also.
        No if they would have continued with him they would not have had any freedom to do what they wanted… I thought they did a great job without him. He did pick some great pop songs for them…I’ll give him credit for that.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Another winning playlist, Christian. Not a bad song on it. R.E.M. is always a favorite. Also it’s been awhile since hearing The Byrd’s tune. The way they put that song together is magic.


  7. I like that Walkabouts tune – I didn’t even recognise their name, but citing Scott Walker and Jacques Brel got my attention. I just have a Bruce Cockburn compilation, which is pretty good – his catalogue is intimidating. That Beck tune is great – one of the few I know by him.

    Liked by 1 person

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