Tuesday, August 12, 2014

R.I.P. Robin Williams

Yesterday it hit me like a ton of bricks. Robin Williams, in an apparent suicide, died at the age of 63. Normally celebrity deaths don't affect me that much. After all, they're just people. Sure, it's sad when they die but for the family and friends of the deceased, it's sad when anyone dies. But somehow Robin Williams was special. Just hearing the newscaster list his accomplishments it's obvious the man was not just any celebrity. Everybody has his or her own RW favorites. For me it was his role on "Mork and Mindy", especially in its last season when Jonathan Winters was on the show. The two of them together, riffing off each other was pure comedic brilliance. And his moving role of teacher John Keating in "Dead Poets Society". Those were my 2 favorites but there were so many others that I also loved.

But for me (and I am sure I am not alone here) the saddest thing of all was that he committed suicide as a result of his depression. I can relate because I too suffer from this potentially debilitating and deadly disease. And yes, it is a disease. But the good news is that for most of us who suffer with it, it can be lived with. I have been on anti-depression meds for about 7 years now. What they do is fix the chemical imbalance in my brain that used to give me these overwhelming, all-encompassing feelings of hopelessness and despair. I still get depressed sometimes, just like everyone, but the meds definitely level the playing field and let me get on with living my life - the good and the bad.

Although things are getting better, there is still a stigma attached to depression. "Pull yourself up by your bootstraps", "Everyone's got problems, not just you"  and "Just tough it out" are things that many of us have been told by supposedly well-meaning friends and family. Unfortunately it's just not that simple. So the point of what I am getting at is this. If you are depressed or feeling so desperate and hopeless that ending it all seems like a viable solution, please GET HELP. There is nothing shameful or weak about admitting that you need help. We all need help sometimes. And take heart in knowing that you are definitely not alone.

And now onto happier things like music.

Clifton Chenier - Hot Rod
I have always loved the sound of a rockin' accordion and nobody serves it up better than the King of Zydeco, Clifton Chenier. This zippy tune never fails to put a little extra bounce in my step.
The Clingers - Gonna Have A Good Time
In case you were wondering what you get when you mix Kim Fowley, Michael Lloyd, 4 Mormon sisters and an Easybeats song - wonder no more. This came out in the US on the Columbia label in 1969. I wish I could find a copy of the French 45 which came with a picture sleeve.
The Resonars - If He's So Great
These guys have been together since the mid 1990's and have a number of releases under their belt. "If He's So Great" is just one of many great tunes that have found a home on my Ipod. Check them out and hear more on their Bandcamp page.
Del Shannon - Led Along
After Del's contract with Amy Records ran out he signed with Liberty Records where he recorded 10 singles and a handful of albums, most of which were quite good and showed him maturing as a singer and an artist. But by that point in time the public had had their fill and they were all pretty much unjustly ignored. This was one of those singles that definitely deserved more notice that still sounds fantastic today.   
Dale Hawkins - Wildcat Tamer
Dale, who was mostly known as the writer and original performer of "Susie Q" recorded this in 1999, which is surprising to me as it sounds like an early outtake. He also produced many records in the 1960's, among them "Western Union" by The Five Americans and "Do It Again, A Little Bit Slower" by Jon & Robin and The In Crowd. He died in Feb. of 2010 from colon cancer. 
The Menace - You Don't Even WInk Your Eye
I included this song in my last playlist before my hiatus back in July of 2012. Unfortunately in all that time I've been unable to track down an original 45 or even a better sounding mp3. Earlier this year someone was selling their album which does contain this song on Ebay for about $800 which is so far out of my league I never even considered it. Had it been around $200 it could well have been a different story. But from what I can tell this would probably have been the only really great song on the album as they were mostly into covering the soft-rock Top 40 hits of the day. Ho hum. But what a song this is. In my original post I described it as the best song The Hollies never recorded and I stand by that description.  
The Meters - Jambalaya
This Hank Williams classic has been recorded by everyone from John Fogerty to The Carpenters, The Muppets, Gerry & The Pacemakers and just about anyone else you can think of. This version by The Meters is the one I keep going back to.     
Michael Lynch - This Girl
Those of you from the NYC area who were part of the local garage scene over the last 10 - 15 years probably saw The Anything People at some point. Unfortunately they are no longer together but singer and main songwriter Michael Lynch has been doing a lot of recording on his own. "This Girl" is the b-side of his latest single and is available along with his other recordings on his Bandcamp page. There are a lot more goodies there where this came from.   
The Stumps - Think Of The Good Times
Although thy recorded for the Boyd label in Tucson, Arizona and are thought to be from there, according to an interview with bass player Mark Fraze, they actually called Kettering, Ohio home. "Think of the Good Times" is their one shot at garage immortality. 
The Banana Splits - The Very First Kid on My Block
If it weren't for first heartbreaks, think of all the incredible songs that would never have been written. The Banana Splits were a session group recording as the characters of the successful cartoon series "The Banana Splits Adventure Hour". Back in those days the truly hip would never have admitted to liking this but I'm sure it was a guilty pleasure for many of us.  
Donnie Burkes - Why Don't You Smile Now
Most people know this early Lou Reed/John Cale song by the Downliners Sect version. But here it is done mid-tempo soul style on the US Decca label in1965.
The Poppees - If She Cries
This Beatles sound-alike was one of two singles these guys released on Bomp Records in the early-mid 70s. A few years ago Bomp records put out a nice anthology of their singles plus some live tracks and demos, which you can order here
King Khan & BBQ Show - Too Much In Love
I just love their infectious combination of low-fi garage and doo wop. 
The Magnificents - Up On The Mountain
This killer doo wop classic came out on the Vee Jay label in 1956 and, despite never cracking the Top 100, got a decent amount of airplay in subsequent years on oldies stations.
The Burgundy Run - Stop!
Many of us first heard this song when it was covered by The Chesterfield Kings back in the mid-80's but this is the original, done by this Albuquerque, New Mexico combo in 1966. 
Barbara Feldon - 99
I don't know anyone who grew up in the 1960's who wasn't a fan of the TV series "Get Smart". Barbara Feldon in her role as Agent 99 was a big reason for the show's success. The actual mp3 file is mislabelled as being by Barbara Eden, the star of the TV series "I Dream of Jeanie". Sorry for the goof-up. 
The Galaxies - 6.15
As much as I like this sax and guitar instro stomper, it's not all that different from the thousand other records that came out in the early-mid 60s in the same style. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing as this still sounds quite good today. But the most interesting thing about it for me is the fact that it came out on the Chess label which was known almost exclusively as a blues/R&B/soul label.

Whenever you are near me oh my heart is on a spree


Gyro1966 said...

Thanks for sharing about yourself - and for the interesting songs on this playlist.

Unknown said...

Thx for the music, & especially thank you for your message. I've been on meds for 15 yrs. for Clinical Depression. It ain't always fun but I'm still here. RIP Robin.

dj trish said...

Thanks for that tribute to Robin
its so sad that a man who mad millions laugh decided to kill himself!

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