The tender side of rock and blues artists is brilliantly on display here in this playlist: strictly for late-night romancing and quiet evenings with someone special.
DELANEY AND BONNIE ~ from the album HOME
EVERYBODY LOVES A WINNER
My favorite Delaney and Bonnie release was the debut album released on the Stax label, recorded at Stax Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. Some tracks feature accompaniment from Stax’s ace house musicians Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, and Donald “Duck” Dunn. The producers were Don Nix, and Donald Dunn.
The cover photograph was the work of the great Barry Feinstein. It pictured Delaney in the doorway of the log cabin in Pontotoc, Mississippi, where he grew up; sitting along with Bonnie, and Delaney’s grandfather, John Bramlett.
Everybody Loves A Winner was a composition of the writing team of Booker T. Jones and William Bell, and on ‘Home’ it has a wonderful Delaney Bramlett vocal and a nice horn chart.
Everybody loves a winner
But when you lose, you lose alone
SUSAN TEDESCHI ~ from the album JUST WON’T BURN
IT HURT SO BAD
Born in Boston, Susan Tedeschi grew up in nearby Norwell, fully absorbing her father’s Lightnin’ Hopkins and Mississippi John Hurt record collection. She graduated from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in 1991, and began her blues music career in earnest.
“I think that to become your own artist and have your sound, a big part of that is the influences of what came before. They all become part of you, and what touches you, you emulate through things.
My introduction to the music of Susan Tedeschi came one weekend while I was perusing the LPs at Odyssey Records. It was her sophomore solo album, ‘Just Won’t Burn,’ that was put on the turntable and I was loving it from the very first song, “Rock Me Right.” But, it was Susan’s vocal on the Tom Hambridge composition, “It Hurt So Bad” that deeply sank the hook that snagged me, but good.
“I once told Etta James what sound I was going for. I told her that I was going for the sound of Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, and she said, ‘Well, me too.’ Being able to find out that some of your heroes, like Etta James, have some of the same ideas as you do is special.” ~ Susan Tedeschi
Susan Tedeschi is too great a singer to be compared to anyone; but I believe she shares Etta James’ fervent emotional power, as well as her hero’s soulfully bluesy, yet at times, delicate grace.
Susan Tedeschi always has surrounded herself with stellar musicians; she credits a 1998 tour with B.B. King and Buddy Guy for making blues an addiction. Tom Hambridge, another Berklee College graduate, was the producer on this release in addition to his drum work on all tracks.
It Hurt So Bad – personnel
Vocals – Susan Tedeschi
Guitar – Sean Costello
Piano – Tom West
Bass – Jim Lamond
Drums – Tom Hambridge
Tenor Saxophone – “Sax” Gordon Beadle
Baritone Saxophone – Tino Barker
GREGG ALLMAN ~ from the album SOUTHERN BLOOD
MY ONLY TRUE FRIEND
Gregg Allman poured out his heart on “My Only True Friend” with the same passion that made the singer, songwriter, and musician the legend he was. One of the inventors of Southern Rock, Gregg was blessed with one of the finest soulful blues growls in existence. His Hammond B-3 Organ skills were filled with tremendous power: emotionally impactful.
Long time Gregg Allman Band musical director & gifted guitarist Scott Sharrad was a co-writer with Gregg on this song. Sherrod is now a new member in the band Little Feat.
This great recording was the opening track off of Gregg Allman’s final studio album in 2017, ‘Southern Blood,’ produced by Don Was and mixed by Bob Clearmountain. The recording was a product of nine days at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama in March of 2016
Billy F Gibbons of ZZ Top eloquently stated Gregg Allman’s singing and keyboard playing displayed “a dark richness, a soulfulness that added one more color to the Allmans’ rainbow.”
‘Southern Blood’ producer Don Was said of the posthumous LP:
“It was kind of unspoken, but it was really clear we were preparing a final statement, in many ways.
“It’s not an album about dying. Gregg was explaining his life and making sense of it, both for the fans who stood with him for decades, and for himself.”
The Gregg Allman Band
Vocals, Guitar, B-3 Organ – Gregg Allman
Guitar – Scott Sharrard
Keyboards – Peter Levin
Bass – Ronald Johnson
Drums – Steve Potts
Percussion – Marc Quinones
Saxophone, Flute – Jay Collins
Saxophone – Art Edmaiston
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Marc Franklin
Harmony Vocals – Buddy Miller
CHRISTINE McVIE ~ from the album THE CHALLENGE
“The Challenge” from Christine McVie’s self-titled 1984 album features backing vocals by Lindsey Buckingham, lead guitar by Eric Clapton, and percussion by Ray Cooper.
“I clearly remember asking Eric to play on it. And to my delight, he agreed. Like all of my songs, it’s about life and remorse and rejection.” ~ Christine McVie
The Challenge (McVie/Sharp) – Personnel
Vocals, Keyboards – Christine McVie
Backing Vocals – Lindsey Buckingham
Lead Guitar – Eric Clapton
Guitar, Vocals – Todd Sharp
Bass, Vocals – George Hawkins
Drums, Percussion – Steve Ferrone
Percussion – Ray Cooper
On every corner you turn there’s a heartache
Well, love’s a challenge, a chance that you’ve gotta take
THE EAGLES ~ from the album THE LONG RUN
I CAN’T TELL YOU WHY
“You get asked to be part of one of the biggest bands in the world, and the first song you record is a song you helped write, and you hear it on the radio, it’s good – it’s great. I’m really, really fortunate. There’s a lot of real talented people out there with much more talent than me who just don’t get these kind of chances.” ~ Timothy B. Schmit
The talented, and humble Schmit replaced Randy Meisner in The Eagles in 1977, ironically the singer/bass player he had replaced in Poco years earlier. His first contribution, and the third single to be released from ‘The Long Run’ was a hit.
“It was co-written by me and Don [Henley] and Glenn [Frey]. I did bring a portion of that song, unfinished, to them back then, because I was new in the band and they wanted to introduce me on a good note, no pun intended. And I had this little piece of a tune that they really liked. It was loosely based on my own experiences.” ~ Timothy B. Schmit
GRAM PARSONS ~ from the album GRIEVOUS ANGEL
Gram Parsons is widely acknowledged to be an important pioneers of the country-rock genre. Though he lived to be only twenty-six, he created an influential body of work.
Grievous Angel was recorded in an alcohol/drug fueled haze and released four months following Parson’s death. Despite some minor flaws it is a worthy epitaph, mixing rock and country at a time when the two genres seemed incompatible.
“Brass Buttons” is the only song on Grievous Angel that did not feature his singing partner Emmylou Harris. It’s said to be one of Gram’s older songs, and to be about his mother who had cirrhosis and passed away on the day of his high school graduation.
Gram’s vocal is beautifully fragile and the musicianship is of high quality. The song masterfully blends a weeping steel guitar, James Burton’s electric guitar picking, and lovely electric piano from Glen D. Hardin.
Brass Buttons – personnel
Vocal – Gram Parsons
Electric Guitar – James Burton
Acoustic Guitar – Herb Pederson
Pedal Steel Guitar – Al Perkins
Electric Piano – Glen D. Hardin
Bass – Emory Gordy
Drums – Ronnie Tutt
“Her words still dance in my head / Her comb still lies beside my bed.”
LEON RUSSELL ~ from the album WILL O’ THE WISP
BLUEBIRD, From 1975 on Shelter Records
Leon Russell’s yearning vocal is a thing of beauty as he longs for his lost love. One of America’s finest songwriters, his words resonate in this song that is highly relatable to most.
Bluebird – personnel
Leon Russell – Piano, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Percussion, Clavinet, Synthesizer, Synthesizer [Rmi],
Drums – Teddy Jack Eddy
Tambourine – Patrick Henderson
Backing Vocals – Mary McCreary
I’m out in the rain, the moon has gone behind the cloud again
I can’t stand to live another day: Bluebird, why did you go away?
SUSAN TEDESCHI ~ from the album HOPE AND DESIRE
LORD, PROTECT MY CHILD
“I met Derek Trucks when I was playing on Susan Tedeschi’s album in 2004 [Hope And Desire] and she had already been a fan of mine and familiar with my work. During that session, there was one song Trucks played on and I became immediately intrigued with his playing. I was blown away that he could make a six string sing like some sacred steel instrument.” ~ Doyle Bramhall II
Doyle didn’t specify the specific song, but I’m almost 100% positive that he was referring to Susan’s outstanding rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Lord, Protect My Child.” The spotlight on the song is clearly Tedeschi’s near perfect vocal. Guest star, and future husband, Derek Trucks plays a sweet dobro that indeed does sounds pretty dang sacred.
Vocals – Susan Tedeschi
Dobro – Derek Trucks
Acoustic Guitar – Doyle Bramhall II
Piano – David Palmer
Bass – Paul Bryan
Drums, Percussion – Jay Bellerose
Backing Vocals – Jean McClain, Niki Haris
If I fall along the way and can’t see another day
Lord, protect my child
KIM WILSON ~ from the album TIGERMAN
DON’T TOUCH ME
Kim Wilson’s ‘Tigerman’, coming in 1993, was the first solo release from The Fabulous Thunderbirds front man. Released on Antone’s Records, it featured Wilson and some of his friends on a rotating basis.
A song on that release that I’ve always enjoyed was “Don’t Touch Me,” written by Johnny “Guitar Watson, Joe Josea (Joseph Bihari) and Jules Taub (Julius Jeremiah Bihari). It’s first release was in 1954, followed-up by a memorable rendition on Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s album, ‘The Gangster Is Back’ in 1976, with Shuggie Otis accompanying Watson on guitar. Robert Cray also recorded a cover version on his ‘Bad Influence’ LP.
On Kim Wilson’s ‘Tigerman’ rendition, he provides a truly fine heartfelt vocal and the rich horn arrangement supplied by the recently deceased Ronnie Cuber is satin smooth. The superb guitar interplay of O’Brien and Robillard is the key ingredient on this slow dance number, all guided by the insistent piano from the late great Gene Taylor.
Vocals – Kim Wilson
Piano – Gene Taylor
Guitar – Derek O’Brien
Guitar – Duke Robillard
Bass – Preston Hubbard
Drums – George Rains
Horns – The Antone’s Horns
FLEETWOOD MAC~ from the album RUMOURS
Christine McVie’s classic composition, “Songbird,” first appeared on ‘Rumours’ in 1977 and was also released as a single. It is one of the four Christine McVie solo compositions on the album, and one that frequently was performed at concerts.
McVie states the song came to her just as the band was finishing up a recording session at the Sausalito Record Plant. She wrote the song in only thirty minutes around midnight, but didn’t have anyone around to record it. To ensure that she did not forget the chord structure and the melody, she stayed awake the entire night.
Producer Ken Caillat loved the track and suggested she record it alone in a concert style approach. To create the appropriate ambience, Caillat ordered a bouquet of flowers to be placed on McVie’s piano at the Zellerbach Auditorium. He then requested three spotlights to illuminate the flowers from above. When McVie arrived at the auditorium, the house lights were dimmed so her attention was immediately brought to the illuminated flowers on the piano.
For the recording session, 15 microphones were placed around the auditorium to fully capture the performance. The recording session went into the next morning due to the difficulty of recording the song entirely live in one take.
And the songbirds are singing like they know the score
And I love you, I love you, I love you, like never before
DEVON ALLMAN & MAGGIE ROSE
“These Days” was originally written by Jackson Browne when he was just sixteen years old in either 1964 or 1965. It appeared on a Browne demo in early 1967 under the title “I’ve Been Out Walking.” Later in the same year it gained its first release when Andy Warhol’s protégé Nico, who had attracted attention from Browne, recorded it on her ‘Chelsea Girl’ album. Jackson Browne played acoustic guitar on her release. Quite a few artists covered it over the following few years, including the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on their ‘Rare Junk’ album (1968) and Tom Rush on his 1970 self-titled set.
Jackson Browne himself got around to recording the song on his 1973 ‘For Everyman’ LP, with an arrangement written by Gregg Allman (who also masterfully covered it around the same time on his ‘Laid Back’ debut solo set). Browne’s version differed from Nico’s both in style and lyrics. In the latter case several lines were changed or omitted, such as a couple of lyrics about “rambling” and “gambling.”
Gregg Allman, in addition to 1973’s ‘Laid Back,’ by and large kept “These Days” in his concert repertoire. In 2014, Gregg Allman sang “These Days” with Jackson Browne at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre at the All My Friends: Celebrating The Songs & Voice Of Gregg Allman tribute concert and subsequent CD and DVD release.
Sticking close to the Gregg Allman arrangement, Devon Allman and Maggie Rose recently cut a rendition of “These Days.” The pair are joined by keyboard great Chuck Leavell on their cover that vividly conveys the deep emotion clout of this incredible song.
“You got to live it to be able to sing it. I had to get to a place in life where I felt like I had kind of earned my stripes enough to pull the song off. I think it hit me as something that was very haunting when I was in my twenties, but now that I’m fifty, I know why… to really be able to resonate with some of the regret and maybe some of the guilt.” ~ Devon Allman
These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do for you
And all the times I had the chance to
BONNIE BRAMLETT ~ from the album LADY’S CHOICE
TWO STEPS FROM THE BLUES
(w/ Gregg Allman)
“I always wanted to be a singer. I don’t remember wanting to be anything other than that.” ~ Bonnie Bramlett
Bonnie Bramlett is an extremely soulful vocalist that proudly shares her deep love for rhythm and blues every time she performs. Her second solo recording for Capricorn Records, was ‘Ladies Choice’ in 1976, produced by Johnny Sandlin.
The song “Two Steps from the Blues” was written by Don Robey and Texas Johnny Brown, and was first recorded and released by Bobby “Blue” Bland in 1961.