Blogworld Gleanings & Helen Reddy

Originally posted November 27, 2011

A few things I’ve noticed while wandering around:

Jeff over at AM, Then FM is providing early fuel for those who are easing themselves into the holiday spirit with his series of “Three under the tree” posts. Visitors will find regular appetizers of Christmas and holiday tunes from sources ranging from Arthur Lyman, Billy Squier and the Royal Guardsmen. One of the first tunes he posted, fittingly, was one of the best Christmas tunes that ever came from the rock and pop world: 1971’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” by John Lennon (with the label actually reading “John and Yoko & The Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir”).

Casey at The College Crowd Digs Me continued this week his occasional series called “Track Four.” I’ll let him explain it: “‘Track Four’ is my small way of paying homage to my dad. While he was in college…when anyone picked up a new album…it was tradition to play… ‘Track Four’…first. Supposedly… ‘Track Four’…was symbolic of whatever album one was listening too. Where this started is unknown. And any factual statistics on this particular track would be purely subjective. But anyway…I think it’s kinda cool…in a ‘Freaky long-haired’ sorta way.” The series started with “Taurus” from the self-titled 1968 debut album by the Los Angeles group Spirit (“I Got A Line On You”), and its most recent entry – last week’s – was “Miracles Out Of Nowhere” from Kansas’ 1976 album, Left Overture.

Homercat at Good Rockin’ Tonight marks his blog’s fourth anniversary with some musings on the evolution of his blog and music blogging in general. To celebrate, he shares “Happy Birthday” by Weird Al Yankovic and “Birthday” by Meredith Brooks, as well as some Cheap Trick, Off Broadway and Jason & the Scorchers. Happy Birthday, Homercat!

Over at Got The Fever, wzjn checks in with an assessment of a couple of Roger Daltry tunes (and a wish for me and the Texas Gal, for which we thank him!). We’re hoping here that life settles enough at Got The Fever to allow wzjn to give us his entertaining and thoughtful take on music more often.*

I wrote a little while ago about the fortunes of three football teams I follow. I should note that since that writing my favorite high school team, the Eden Prairie Eagles, won their seventh Minnesota large-school title in twelve years. Eden Prairie defeated St. Paul’s Cretin-Derham Hall 50-21 for the title in a game between unbeaten teams. Congratulations to Coach Mike Grant, his staff and his team!

Tuesday Cover
Back in 1966, Tim Hardin released his first album, a Verve release titled Tim Hardin 1. (I wonder if the title reassured him that there would be a second album? Turns out there were more albums than that, but the immediate successor on Verve was in fact titled Tim Hardin 2.) The album was a mix of bluesy folk, folk-rock, rock and a number of songs that aren’t easily categorized. It was hailed as a solid debut, and other performers began quickly sifting through the songs on the album, all written by Hardin. Two of them became, if not standards, then at least songs that have been covered so frequently as to become far more famous than their creator ever did.

I think it’s fair to say that nothing else Hardin wrote in his short life – he died in 1980 at the age of 39 – quite had the reach of those two songs: “Reason to Believe” and “Don’t Make Promises.” (If I had to name a third-ranking Hardin tune, I’d probably go with “If I Was A Carpenter,” which, as I think about it, may have been more popular than “Don’t Make Promises.”)

The list of those who’ve covered “Reason to Believe” begins with Rod Stewart, of course, but it also includes such performers as Lynn Anderson, Glen Campbell, the Brothers Four, the Carpenters, Bobby Darin, Dashboard Confessional, Marianne Faithful, Ian & Sylvia, Scott McKenzie, Eddie Money (!), Rick Nelson and the Youngbloods, to name only a portion of the list.

As for “Don’t Make Promises,” the list of those who recorded it is not nearly as long, but still features some interesting names: Bobby Darin, Scott McKenzie and Marianne Faithful again, the Kingston Trio, Three Dog Night, Helen Reddy, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, Chris Smither and Paul Weller.

The most interesting name there may be Smither’s, as the long-time blues and folk artist has long been on my list of performers to listen to more closely. His recording of the song was on his 1999 release Drive You Home Again, an album I’m going to have to find. Weller’s recording of the Hardin song is also more recent, coming from 2004’s Studio 150, and it’s a nice recording.

But the version I’ve decided to share today – likely because it has some time and place connections for me that the other versions don’t – is Helen Reddy’s, from her 1971 album I Don’t Know How To Love Him. During my first year of college, it seemed as if it were a rule that every young woman who lived in a dormitory had to own either a copy of Reddy’s album or of Carole King’s Tapestry. So today’s share is what at least a part of college life sounded like thirty-six years ago.

(The track is ripped from vinyl, and there are just a few pops.)

Helen Reddy – “Don’t Make Promises” [1971]

*Got The Fever has since moved. Note added May 22, 2011.

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