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Don’t Trust Anyone Over 60

I always think of my distaste for the classic rock radio format when I hear songs such as The Letter. It’s one of the 50 or so songs to which the golden age of rock has been boiled down. The machine rolls drearily on. I bet some of the artists don’t like it either, except for the money. Others probably are fine with it.

The Rolling Stones no doubt are. The band is dusting off the old stuff once again. It’s fine–if they want to do it and people want to pay, God bless them all–but it’s a bit bizarre. We’ve gone from protests to prostates.

All this comes to mind when I really listen to this old stuff and realize, once again, how brilliant a lot of it is. The problem is that the Mad Dogs and Englishmen gang — led by the genius Leon Russell — was just a bunch of kids when they did this.

It’s been a long time. The song Mad Dogs and Englishmen was written by Noel Coward for the 1931 musical The Third Little Show. The Cocker album was released in 1970. In other words, four more years have elapsed between the album and today than between the writing of the song and the album. Rock and roll used to be about being young. Now it’s about getting old. It’s nobody’s fault, but it is a good reason to move on.

Check out the Noel Coward song, which was a satire about British imperialism. The full phase is that only “mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.”

Above is Dave Mason’s Feelin’ Alright and below is The Letter, which was written by Wayne Carson Thompson and initially recorded by The Box Tops.

Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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