Tag Archives: Rock and Roll

R-E-S-P-E-C-T the Queen of Soul

“I don’t think it’s bold at all. I think it’s quite natural that we all want respect — and should get it.”

Bow down, Beyonce; the Queen is ascending.

Aretha Franklin was aptly called the Queen of Soul, and for good reason. Her vocal presence was enormous, felt from the humble beginnings of New Bethel Baptist Church where her father preached, to the R&B charts across America, and on to a universal audience belting along the best that we can to her beloved songs. While best known for her amazing voice and magnificent music, Aretha Franklin was much more than a musician. She was champion for civil rights and a feminist icon, professing her feelings loudly and proudly on and off the stage.

Born on March 25, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee, Franklin moved with her family north to Detroit when she four years old. She grew up in the Motor City, and she made a name for herself singing at her father’s church. Her father took her around the country to further her musical talents, and she spent time with the likes of Sam Cooke, and Mavis Staples and her sisters. She also met Martin Luther King Jr. and sang at his events, and eventually at his funeral. She did have a much more joyful time singing at an historic moment for Americans decades later when she sang at Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration in 2009.

With immortal hits like “Chain of Fools” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, it’s easy to understand how Aretha Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, especially when you consider that her best known song, “Respect” was originally written and performed by Otis Redding two years prior to her version! (I’ll write about this more in the future.) Her rendition has some key musical and lyrical differences, and it is sang from the perspective of a strong woman who is demanding the respect she deserves. It’s no surprise that the song became an anthem for the feminist movement, as well as the civil rights movement, not to mention that it is a fantastic song.

Listening to her incredible voice, with its range and power (she does not need, she does not need, a microphone!), it is easy to deduce how Rolling Stone twice declared her the greatest singer of all time. One of my favorites from her to further demonstrate that killer voice is “Think”, which she sang to great delight in one of my favorite movies.

In The Blues Brothers, Aretha Franklin gives the most memorable of the musical numbers from a performing musician (and that’s saying something because there are a lot and they’re all great!) “Think” is another awesome anthem of empowerment with Franklin pouring her soul into that soulful music.

Aretha Franklin was a remarkable woman whose music and message will live on forever. Her strength, charisma, and natural talent and how she shared it with us all, are all reasons why she earned her reputation as an admired entertainer and force for change. Her voice was not just a musical marvel, but a call for freedom, and what she did with it earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award a United States citizen can have bestowed upon her.

Farewell, Aretha Franklin! Thank you for taking care of business here!

Sock it to me, sock it to me,



Have You Ever Really Looked at Your Hands, Man?

Watching the news recently brought to mind a particularly odd little man with what has to be fake hair and certainly a questionable sense of fashion, prattling on about his fantastic Space- well, just see for yourself:

Teehee! You didn’t expect that, now did you! Ahhhh, I digress, for I didn’t come her to spout off about politics. No, I came here to talk about some spacey sounds that you can really groove to. Specifically, I want to explore, what is to me, the most cohesive music album ever produced: Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon.

Following in the footsteps of The Beatles’ Abbey Road, Pink Floyd turned their onstage jams at concerts into a continuous musical experience where each song segues into the next seamlessly. Furthermore, like Abbey Road before it, The Dark Side of the Moon offers more than just a collection of pretty songs that sound good stacked end to end. While surely a masterful complete auditory piece, the songs explore the birth, daily life, and death of man in a manner more musically layered than subtle, yet the meaning within the words is often overlooked because we’re just feeling the groove. As was the case with many of the seven prior Pink Floyd albums, The Dark Side of the Moon provides many an instrumental interlude, but none nearly as long as some of their big jams like “Echoes” that comprise half the album (and every act of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera).


The Dark Side of the Moon was the album that marked the blossoming of Pink Floyd’s greatest era, and the blooming of the band’s career. Released in 1973, it was followed by Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977), and The Wall (1979), marking the stretch where Pink Floyd was at the top of their game. The band was moving at a clip under the direction of Roger Waters and David Gilmour, and their most famous songs emerged during this phase of the band’s rich history. For me it all comes together most magnificently with The Dark Side of the Moon. Striking the perfect balance of experimental sound and commercially appealing music, this is the quintessential album from the band that melded progressive rock with the mainstream. Beautiful, soothing, depressing, and so much more, The Dark Side of the Moon speaks to me as soon as I hear its first track:

Thanks for reading, and listening! I hope you’ll enjoy this album in whichever manner you see best, and that you’ll refract back this way next week for more fun, in any colour you like, of course.

Breathe in the air,


ROCK! and some roll too

This past Saturday saw the Class of 2018 be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a ceremony held in the Rock Hall’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Five big names and one who really should be bigger were welcomed into the big pyramid on the shore of Lake Erie from a few blocks away at Public Auditorium in a ceremony that was reported to have started strong before fizzling out with some strange and downright awkward moments in between.

But I don’t care about that! I’m pretty jazzed (and bluesed) about the new kids in town who are anything but. The Class of 2018 features many “it’s about time” canditates who have all earned their keep. Take a look at the list and then take a listen to some of their best songs.

Performer Category

Bon Jovi – The biggest name on this list was also the biggest showstopper of the night, helping to give the music fans in attendance something to thrust their lighters up into the air for.

The Cars – One of my favorite 1980s bands. Experts at blending electronic instrumentation into their mainstream music.

Dire Straits – One of the weirder inductions and an instance of a previous bad blood in band break carrying on to the Rock Hall show, but regardless of how they began their official time within the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, their trip to get to it is worth listening to.

The Moody Blues – A strange finish to the ceremony show when you’ve got God Damned Bon Jovi! but hey, again, not important what they did at the show in Cleveland when you consider what they’ve done to get to Cleveland. Definitely more toned down that most rock acts, but undeniably progressive and influential.

Nina Simone – We talked a bit about the High Priestess of Soul in last year’s more extensive look at Rock Hall should-be inductees. Take another listen to some of her heavy hits here.

Award for Early Influence

Sister Rosetta Tharpe – An incredible influence on American music who helped to bridge gospel with jazz, blues with soul, and inspire countless artists to take up instruments and make music. She gave a truly little Little Richard his first stage gig when he was 14, and her grand effect did not end there. Everyone from Chuck Berry to Elvis Presley to Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins all got a feel for Rock and Roll from this remarkable woman. One of the earliest artists to make music that could be called rock and roll, Tharpe is known as the Godmother of Rock and Roll for good reason.


Thanks for reading and listening! There are strange things happening everyday, and I like to cover them, both new and old, so if you like a taste of the wild and wacky, and the rockin’ and rollin’, then come on back here every Monday.

Rock on!



Thank God for Queen

This year has been a rough one. For as tough of a pill as 2016 was to swallow throughout much of it, this one seemed to take the cake… and throw it out the window while maniacally laughing like a demon. Damn it, demon year! We wanted to eat that cake.

On top of everything else on my mind (which has thankfully been able to reside in another galaxy lately), today is Christmas, or Xmas, as I prefer to call it now thanks to Futurama taking what started as a mixture of winter festivals that were funneled into a Christian occasion and making it a truly universal celebration. Whatever you celebrate this time of year, the winter solstice holiday season is a time to gather together with friends and family to appreciate each other and the joys of life. Unfortunately, I have come to despise Christmas over the years – part of why I have stopped referring to it as Christmas in favor of Xmas – due to a number of factors like but not limited to:

  • My frustrating extended family’s presence
  • My frustrating extended family’s narrow view of the world and people living in it
  • My cousins – who I like – receiving an immense degree of appreciation from other members of our family I’m less crazy about because they better fit the ideas of “success” that those other family members hold (it hurts more when people you also appreciate, but more for being good people, are praised more than you simply because they make more cha-ching. Not all of us pursued careers in business, Uncle Bob!)
  • My family terrifying my dog by arriving in such great numbers and feeding her junk food that upsets her stomach. A little turkey or ham is fine, Aunt Jean, but when everybody offers her some… do you see what I’m driving at?
  • Enduring my tenth Christmas without my dad. My grandmothers too, one of which I lost right after Christmas one year. I’m certainly not lost without three of my most beloved family members, but I do greatly miss them even after many years. I know I’m not alone in this, as the holidays make us remember the good times and the good people we once had.

I have previously stated my disdain for the repetitive music that plagues this time of year, and I still shake my fist at the avalanche of Christmas covers that consume the airwaves whenever I jump off my Spotify playlist; however, I did hear one of my favorite songs that is Christmasy-inclined recently, and it helped me to remember the good memories of this day and to focus on the positives of living here and now. It may be crazy, both with Christmas, and outside of it, but damn it we should enjoy the good parts where we can, and thanks to Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon, I am smiling today after hearing their terrific song, “Thank God It’s Christmas”. I gave a gracious shoutout to Queen and this tune in my aforementioned Christmas songs post, and here I’m singing the praises of Rock and Roll’s greatest singer once again. Whenever this season encapsulates you with its madness, or whenever you think about anything anyone “in charge” did this year or in the past, or whenever anyone spills the beans on a scene from The Last Jedi and you still haven’t gotten to see it (but, c’mon, it had the second-biggest opening, how were you not one of those people?), then listen to Freddie and the gang truly offer tidings of comfort and joy:

Thanks for reading and listening! Have yourself a Merry little or large Christmas and awesome final week of this troubling year. Let’s make the most of the remainder of this year and carry on strong into the next. I’ll be back next week with my annual must-hear songs post, followed by my annual recap of my favorite movies from the year.

Merry Xmas!


We Got Lucky

Unfortunately for all of us, the question mark hanging over Tom Petty’s dire health status last Monday was answered definitively shortly after it’s announcement. The 66 year old rocker from Gainesville, Florida first hit it big with the group Mudcrutch, which he later rejoined in 2007 and toured with in between Heartbreakers tours. He also co-founded the supergroup Traveling Wilburys with his good friend George Harrison. Also working in that band with the Heartbreaker and Beatle were Jeff Lynne of ELO, Roy Orbison, yeah, and if that’s not enough also Bob freakin’ Dylan. But Petty is best remembered for his main act as leader of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, a band that just celebrated their 40th anniversary with a final tour that proved to be all too final for fans. I feel privileged to have gotten to see them on this last tour, but more than that, I feel privileged to have heard the Heartbreakers at all. Today, as I have done more times than I have liked, I am remembering the main man of the Heartbreakers in all his bizarre glory by compiling a list of 40 of my favorite songs of his in honor of his biggest band’s anniversary. However, I have a few entries from his time with the others I’ve mentioned. Let’s start with one of my favorites. It comes from the second Heartbreakers album, You’re Gonna Get It! which has my favorite cover of any of theirs (see above).

“Baby’s A Rock and Roller” – Loud, proud, and powerful Petty and the Heartbreakers. A distinctive announcement that their girl can rock and roll and so can they.

“A Woman in Love (It’s Not Me)”

“All or Nothing”



“Don’t Come Around Here No More” – One of Petty’s hilariously or disturbingly weird (or both) videos that doesn’t much relate to the context of the song, but is certainly entertaining. To be fair, the tales of Alice in Wonderland are always kooky.

“Don’t Do Me Like That”

“End of the Line” – One from the Wilburys that prominently features Petty.

“Even the Losers”

“Feel a Whole Lot Better” – A cover of The Byrds classic that deals out the same degree of “stay out of my life” declaration with Petty adding an extra dose of

“First Flash of Freedom”

“Handle With Care” – The most famous of The Traveling Wilburys songs. Roy Orbison is amazing on this. Petty mostly signs backup, but it’s still a great one he helped to make.

“Here Comes My Girl” – The most normal, well-behaved of his videos by far.

“Honey Bee” – Gotta love this rendition of the blues classic. Fun to play on guitar!

“I Need to Know”

“It’s Good to Be King” – What a weirdo.

“Jammin’ Me” – How I love him so.

“Learning to Fly” – Superior to the Pink Floyd song of the same name.

“Listen to Her Heart”

“Lover of the Bayou” – One from Mudcrutch.

“Makin’ Some Noise” – The final verse refers to a real occurrence when Petty heard a guitar being played in a California canyon and responded by playing his back. Soon they were jamming!

“Refugee” – My friend Mike’s favorite from Petty. At least back in college. Tastes change’ this song’s appeal has not. Still awesome.

“Running Man’s Bible”

“Running Down a Dream” – After a couple grounded videos we’re back to bizarre.

“Something Big” – One of my favorite of Petty’s “story songs” that tell a narrative of some character hewing out a rough existence whilst being thwarted by his own vices.

“The Damage You’ve Done”

“The Waiting”

“Too Much Ain’t Enough”

“Trailer” – My favorite from Mudcrutch.

“Walls” – A good song to have at your wedding. This “Circus” version is my favorite tempo.

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – This one has received a lot of attention in the last week as it features an all-star line up of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers playing at the Rock Hall’s Induction Ceremony in 2004 in honor of George Harrison who was inducted posthumously as a solo artist that year. The reason why it has popped up so frequently in the wake of Petty’s death is because it features him singing while then-newly inducted Prince – one of last year’s most notable and surprising deaths – shreds the living heck out of his guitar making it cry with intensity that is all to our delight. This was the only time that the two legends played together. Amazing. The look on George’s son, Dhani’s face as Prince comes up is the same as the look on all of ours.

Like Prince, Petty also had the honor to play the Halftime Show at the Super Bowl, and while I still maintain Prince played the greatest Halftime Show ever seen, Petty got to do it at the greatest Super Bowl ever played (Super Bowl XLII), and he put on quite a show too.

“Wildflowers” – Perhaps the most appropriate farewell song to the man himself”

“Yer So Bad”

“You Don’t Know How It Feels” – One of my favorite (I have said that a lot, but I mean it) songs to play when I’m not having a great time. I’ve never actually rolled another joint, or even an initial one, but I have sang about a ton whenever this song comes on.

“You Got Lucky” – Yes, we did, to get to hear this man’s magic.

“You Wreck Me” – Played this to great applause at wedding a few weeks back. Yes, much of it was mine, but many others clapped to! The easiest three chords to play to sound badass with.

“Mary Jane’s Last Dance” – The first of Petty’s songs that I listened to after hearing the initial report of his death. Creepy video; phenomenal song.

“I Won’t Back Down” – My sister’s favorite.

“American Girl”

“Free Fallin'” – My favorite!

Thanks for reading and listening! Be sure to fly on back here next week for the latest celebration of Mach 1 Day (October 14th). Until then, if you wish to drop me a line, send your regards to monotrememadness@gmail.com.

Keep kooky,


Don’t Do Me Like That

Tom Petty has lived up to his band’s name in the manner of his health situation and its impact on his many fans. The legendary rock and roller was hospitalized today after suffering cardiac arrest. The founder and frontman of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Petty is a wonderfully weird personality. With elements of Bowie and Zappa blended with Southern Charm and American energy, Tom has offered his own quirky humor and powerful guitar to the world of music, becoming one of the most beloved acts in rock and roll for the last 40 years.

While he is not in a good place right now, Tom Petty has not officially been declared dead by any reputable source. I was distraught after hearing about his heart attack, and later death… until I double-checked on the early reports and found that they done goofed! Read this article in the Washington Post that highlights how even in today’s information age, one reported jump to conclusion can set off a chain reaction of attempts to get the next bombshell dropped that overtake the pursuit of the truth. It feels like a modern version of false death reporting like what happened quite famously to Mark Twain.

The roughest part about all this is that while Petty is still alive, he may not return to full strength. Rather than fearfully dwell on what may occur, let’s wish for the best to come and reflect on the best that has.

Tom Petty was my white whale as far as concerts were concerned. Many of my college friends are happily obsessed with him and his Heartbreakers – my friend Mike saw him six times, or was it seven? The first time for him and our other pals to partake in Petty’s presence was after our freshman year of undergrad. I had to skip the trip to go to the show because I was taking summer classes, and missing a chemistry lab is much rougher than one lecture. Either way, I wish I had been less responsible and had skipped. I did get another chance a couple years later when Mike and his cousin traveled into their homestate of New York to see him upstate. This time, family responsibilities prevented me from making it. When my friends said that Petty was making a stop in Cleveland on his Heartbreakers 40th anniversary tour my curiosity was again piqued. Then I saw that Joe Walsh was the opening act. In a classic “You had my curiosity, but now you have my attention” moment. This summer I finally saw him, with Walsh and all, and it was worth it. The highlight of the experience was to take my younger sister to her first concert ever. A concert put on by her favorite artist, no less. Years ago, I bought a CD of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Greatest Hits… and promptly lost it to my little sis. She played it on repeat so often that you could clearly see the tracks she preferred the most. Most starkly shining on the underside of disc was the middle track, her all-time favorite song, “I Won’t Back Down”.

This has now become a rallying cry urging the health rebound all of Tom’s fans are wishing for. Here’s hoping that he can make it happen; if anyone can, it’s this wacky sonofabitch. He may be a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, but his greatest honor is the admiration of the millions of fans like my sister whose lives have been brightened by his music.

Thanks for reading. Send any questions, comments, or suggestions to monotrememadness@gmail.com, and be sure to fly on back here next week, for hopefully some pleasant news.


Doom, Boom, Doom Went the Drums in the Deep

”                                                                                                                                            .”

“Moby Dick” by Led Zeppelin

37 years ago today, one of the greatest drummers of all time died after a fatally legendary night of drinking. Today, John Bonham is remembered in his music, especially with my favorite band, Led Zeppelin. Bonham was the heart of the band in that all that Zeppelin did was built on his beat, and after his death the band did not attempt to replace him as they knew it would be impossible. Instead, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, and John Paul Jones disbanded and ended Led Zeppelin.

The man known as Bonzo has been revered by many a drummer and rock fan since Led Zeppelin was released in 1969, including this list comprised by Legacy.com on the 30th anniversary of his death seven years ago. Today, I am going to take a look at this list and add some input where I see fit in the hope that you too will take a closer look, or rather listen, to one of the best musicians to master his instrument.

1. John Henry Bonham was born in Worcestershire, England on 31 May 1948.

Specifically, Bonham was born in Redditch, also the birthplace of Charles Dance (a.k.a. Tywin Lannister) and the home of the high school of John Taylor, bassist and founding member of Duran Duran.

2. He began teaching himself drums at age 5, making a primitive drum kit out of empty coffee containers, pots and pans, and other assorted kitchenware. He got his first real snare drum at age 10, and his first full kit at 15.

This would not be the last time he would play with unconventional instruments. Led Zeppelin utilized many unique sound tricks and items to make all sorts of sweet noise. Bonham frequently played with just his hands, and supposedly used a trash can as a drum on more than one occasion.

3. His early influences included big band jazz drummers like Gene Krupa, Joe Morello, and Buddy Rich.

Buddy Rich of course paricipated in the greatest drum battle of all time:

4. By 16 he was playing in his first semi-professional band. While they were recording a demo, the sound engineer told Bonham that he played too loud and was unrecordable. Bonham later sent him a gold record with a snarky note saying, “Thanks for your advice.”

5. A middle school principal once wrote on Bonham’s report card, “He’ll either be a dustman or a millionaire.”

Wouldn’t it be great for all of us to have one of these moments?

6. At 17 Bonham married Pat Phillips. A year later in 1966, they had their first child, Jason Bonham.

Jason has gone on to drum with the likes of many rock acts, both as a fill in for his father on some Led Zeppelin songs and with his own material. He has played with Zeppelin in his dad’s place for a few charity and tribute shows.

8. He first played with Robert Plant in a group called The Crawling King Snakes; the band took their name from a John Lee Hooker song.

This awesome blues track, in fact:

10. When Page and Plant began to form Led Zeppelin after the demise of the Yardbirds, other drummers they considered included Ginger Baker, Clem Cattini, Aynsley Dunbar, and B.J. Wilson.

Ginger Baker is the best known of these as he founded Cream, probably the most influential rock trio ever formed even though they only played for about three years from 1966-1968. Such is the case when you have Eric Clapton in his prime.

11. Bonham was at the time also considering offers from Joe Cocker and Chris Farlowe. Robert Plant and manager Peter Grant besieged the reluctant Bonham with dozens of telegrams sent to his favorite pub, until he finally agreed to join.

The pub is Bloxwich’s Three Men in a Boat.

17. They opened for acts like Vanilla Fudge, Iron Butterfly, and Country Joe and the Fish.

At many of the concerts that Led Zeppelin opened for, the fans would cheer for them to return the stage in preference to see more of them than the featured band.

Vanilla Fudge is best known for cover versions of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by The Supremes and “Season of the Witch” by Donovan; Iron Butterfly made the lengthy jam classic “Inna Gadda Da Vida”; and Country Joe and the Fish have the “Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die-Rag”.

19. The band’s first album, Led Zeppelin, was recorded in only 36 hours. Released in early 1969 to generally poor reviews, it would nonetheless remain on the Billboard charts for 73 weeks and to date has reached sales in excess of 8 million in the United States alone.

The album equivalent of “look at me now, haters!”

20. Their second album, the imaginatively titled Led Zeppelin II, also released in 1969, has sold over 12 million copies and is widely considered as one of the most groundbreaking and influential albums of all time.

A rare instance of the sequel being better – a trend they would continue for a while.

22. Led Zeppelin IV, released in 1971, sold 37 million copies worldwide. It features a song you might have heard called “Stairway to Heaven.”

And “Black Dog”. And “Rock and Roll”. And “The Battle of Evermore”, “Misty Mountain Hop”, “Four Sticks”, and “Going to California”. Oh, and “When the Levee Breaks”. This album, which is actually technically untitled, is stacked, but then I don’t need to tell you that… because I already have.

23. Led Zeppelin’s excesses on tour were legendary. Bonham once drove a motorcycle – a gift for his 25th birthday – through the halls of the Continental Hyatt House Hotel in Los Angeles, where the band had rented out multiple floors for their entourage (both Keith Moon and Keith Richards reportedly dropped TVs out the windows of the same hotel, which acquired the nickname “The Riot House”).

Partying at the same level as the Keiths is a dangerous proposition that only a select few have been hardy enough for. Ozzy Osbourne also certainly falls into this exclusive unit.

27. In 1976 he appeared in the film Son of Dracula, along with Ringo Star, Keith Moon and Harry Nilsson. The rock ‘n’ roll vampire movie was poorly received and remains unavailable on either VHS or DVD.

At least they didn’t call it Drummercula.

29. The band did play a one-off, 2007 reunion show, with Jason Bonham taking his father’s seat behind the drum kit. Reunion tour rumors have arisen every year since.

Rumors of Jason replacing John began as soon as John Bonham died. The concerts with Led Zeppelin have merely more greatly encouraged this wishful thinking for fans.

Here’s one more for you from yours truly: John Bonham was the best man at Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi’s first wedding.

Thanks for reading, and hopefully for listening. Do yourself a favor and check out some of Bonham’s best songs from Led Zeppelin. “Moby Dick” is a great place to start, and you may as well work your way along chronologically through to “Bonzo’s Montreux”.

Check this site out again next week for more riveting posts!

Rock the fuck out of those drums!