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Tommy James and the Shondells: “Crystal Blue Persuasion”

Breaking Bad is one of the best shows on television. The director uses a lot of montages, many of which show the characters cooking meth. Last week, the great song Crystal Blue Persuasion ran over the video.

These comments by Tommy James about the song are interesting:

When we asked James if “Crystal Blue” is a reference to the Book of Revelation, he replied: “Yes, it is. It’s out of the Bible. The imagery was right out of Chapter 19 of the Book of Revelation, about the lake of crystal, and just what John sees. The imagerf was just right there. ‘Crystal blue persuasion,’ although those words aren’t used together, it was what the image meant to me.”

The lyrics, “It’s a new vibration,” are about James becoming Christian, but many listeners had their own interpretation. He explained: “Of course, everybody thinks if they don’t understand what you’re talking about it must be about drugs. But it wasn’t. We were going through a real interesting time back then, and a very wonderful time. Everybody in the band, by the way, became Christian. And we’re very proud of it. And ‘Crystal Blue Persuasion’ was sort of our way of saying that in a kind of pop record way.”

The band had hits with Mony Mony, I Think We’re Alone Now  and Crimson and Clover. Here is the the website and a discography.

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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