♫ Johnny B. Goode ♫

Now I know this one predates some of you, but you’ve likely heard it anyway, for it is considered one of the most recognizable songs in the history of popular music.

From The Guardian, 21 June 2007 …

The song was written by Chuck Berry while he was on tour in New Orleans in 1958. In the official version of events, supplied to Rolling Stone magazine by Berry himself, the song is autobiographical: A poor boy from a rustic corner of the Deep South with little education and few prospects masters the electric guitar and becomes the leader of a famous band. In fact, Berry was not from the Deep South; he grew up on Goode Street in Saint Louis, an unusually cosmopolitan Midwestern city with a rich musical tradition. Nor was he unschooled; he was the first and perhaps the last songwriter to use the word “omit” in a pop song (Little Queenie). And he was certainly not a hick from the sticks; he had a degree in hairdressing and cosmetology. What’s more, the song was originally written for the famous pianist Johnnie Johnson, with whom Berry had worked for years. A half-century later, Johnson would sue Berry, contending that he had co-authored many of his colleague’s hits, but the case was thrown out of court, as these cases usually are. Thus, other than not being from the South, or a yokel, or an illiterate, or white, or bearing the name “Johnny,” Berry was exactly like the character in his most famous song.

Johnny B Goode was released halfway through Dwight Eisenhower’s dreary second administration, when black people were still routinely being lynched in the Deep South, so for obvious marketing reasons the original lyric “little coloured boy” was changed to “little country boy”. 

Johnny B. Goode
Chuck Berry

Deep down in Louisiana close to New Orleans
Way back up in the woods among the evergreens
There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood
Where lived a country boy named Johnny B. Goode
Who never ever learned to read or write so well
But he could play a guitar just like a-ringin’ a bell

Go go
Go Johnny go go
Go Johnny go go
Go Johnny go go
Go Johnny go go
Johnny B. Goode

He used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack
Go sit beneath the tree by the railroad track
Oh, the engineers would see him sitting in the shade
Strumming with the rhythm that the drivers made
People passing by they would stop and say
“Oh my what that little country boy could play”

Go go
Go Johnny go go
Go Johnny go go
Go Johnny go go
Go Johnny go go
Johnny B. Goode

His mother told him “someday you will be a man
And you will be the leader of a big old band
Many people coming from miles around
To hear you play your music when the sun go down
Maybe someday your name will be in lights
Saying “Johnny B. Goode tonight”

Go go
Go Johnny go
Go go go Johnny go
Go go go Johnny go
Go go go Johnny go
Go
Johnny B. Goode

Songwriters: Chuck Berry
Johnny B. Goode lyrics © Ole Media Management Lp

♫ You’ll Be In My Heart ♫

Last time I played a Phil Collins song, dear friend Ellen, who is always so encouraging, so supportive, mentioned that her favourite Phil Collins piece was You’ll Be In My Heart, and she told me the most touching story about her association with this song …

“For over 13 years I took care of a special needs child from the first month of her precious life. She actually lived with me for 6 of those years. She was nonverbal, but loved music and cartoons. My son was probably her favorite person in the world, as she was his too. We took her to see Tarzan and she was enchanted by the music. I would hold her and rock her to sleep singing this song…it was her song. Whenever she heard it, she would smile. She was my heart and I miss her still.”

As I also love this song, and was brought to tears by Ellen’s story … this one’s for you tonight, Ellen!  Actually, since I loved both the Tarzan version and the official version, I offer them both … take your pick!

A brief bit of background …

Collins wrote this for the Disney movie Tarzan, and it earned him an Oscar for Best Original Song. It was Collins’ first win in the category.  According to Lily Collins, who was born in 1989, her dad wrote this song for her.

“It was written as a lullaby to me when I was younger. We grew up watching Disney shows and movies together so that was his way of kind of being able to do it for his kids. It was so special.”

Collins’ association with Disney perplexed some of his fans, but he grew up watching Disney films and was thrilled to take on the project. “With or without the glory, I would have taken the experience,” he told Rolling Stone.

You’ll Be in My Heart
Phil Collins

Come stop your crying
It will be alright
Just take my hand
And hold it tight

I will protect you
From all around you
I will be here
Don’t you cry

For one so small,
You seem so strong
My arms will hold you,
Keep you safe and warm
This bond between us
Can’t be broken
I will be here
Don’t you cry

‘Cause you’ll be in my heart
Yes, you’ll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more
You’ll be in my heart
No matter what they say
You’ll be here in my heart
Always

Why can’t they understand the way we feel
They just don’t trust what they can’t explain
I know we’re different, but deep inside us
We’re not that different at all

And you’ll be in my heart
Yes you’ll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more

Don’t listen to them
‘Cause what do they know
We need each other, to have, to hold
They’ll see in time, I know

When destiny calls you, you must be strong
I may not be with you
But you got to hold on
They’ll see in time, I know
We’ll show them together

‘Cause you’ll be in my heart
Believe me you’ll be in my heart
I’ll be there from this day on
Now and forever more

You’ll be in my heart
No matter what they say
You’ll be here in my heart
Always

Always I’ll be with you
I’ll be there for you always
Always and always

Just look over your shoulder
Just look over your shoulder
Just look over your shoulder
I’ll be there
Always

Songwriters: Phillip David Charles Collins
You’ll Be in My Heart lyrics © Walt Disney Music Company

♫ Africa ♫

If you say, “Toto” to me, I will immediately think of the little doggie in the movie, The Wizard of Oz.  If you remind me that you mean the band, Toto, only one song will come to mind … Africa.  It is, to me, their signature song, the only one I can name of theirs.

‘Twasn’t always so, though, and the song almost didn’t even get recorded.  In an article in Time magazine, one of the group members said they were looking for a song just to close off the album and did not think Africa would do as well as it did. They also mentioned that if you listen close enough during the lyrics “catch some waves,” some group members were singing “catch some rays.”

Toto keyboard player David Paich wrote the song …

“At the beginning of the ’80s I watched a late night documentary on TV about all the terrible death and suffering of the people in Africa. It both moved and appalled me and the pictures just wouldn’t leave my head. I tried to imagine how I’d feel about if I was there and what I’d do.

There’s a little metaphor involved here, because I was at the age where I was so immersed in my work, 24/7, that at times I felt like I was becoming just a victim of my work. There was a little bit of autobiographical information in there: being consumed by my work, not having time to go out and pursue getting married and raising a family and doing all the things that other people do that were my age at the time.”

This is probably Toto’s most famous song, but per guitarist Steve Lukather …

“A lot of people categorize us as ‘that ‘Africa’ or ‘Rosanna’ band,’ and I hate that s–t. We have a lot more substance than that. Don’t get me wrong – those songs have been great to us, but you really don’t understand the depth of the band if that’s all you know.

According to an article in Rolling Stone in October 2018 …

“Nothing sums up 2018 like the fact that Toto’s “Africa” has become our unofficial anthem. It’s a song that’s ridiculous by definition — an Eighties ode to Africa by a bunch of L.A. rock dudes who’d never set foot in the place. But something about this song speaks to our moment. It’s the new “Don’t Stop Believin’” — a mega-cheese classic of Eighties sentiment that’s gotten bizarrely popular in recent years, beloved by hipsters and moms and tone-deaf karaoke singers screaming “I bless the rains down in Africa!” Love it or hate it, you’ve probably heard it today. You’ll hear it tomorrow. This damn song follows you everywhere, like the sound of wild dogs crying out in the night.”

Africa
Toto

I hear the drums echoing tonight
But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation
She’s coming in, 12:30 flight
The moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation
I stopped an old man along the way
Hoping to find some long forgotten words or ancient melodies
He turned to me as if to say, “Hurry boy, it’s waiting there for you”

It’s gonna take a lot to take me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had

The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless, longing for some solitary company
I know that I must do what’s right
As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure what’s deep inside, frightened of this thing that I’ve become

It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had

Hurry boy, she’s waiting there for you

It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa
(I bless the rain)
I bless the rains down in Africa
(I bless the rain)
I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa
(Ah, gonna take the time)
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had

Songwriters: David Paich / Jeff Porcaro
Africa lyrics © Spirit Music Group

♫ Fire and Rain ♫

I love James Taylor’s voice … it is sensual, somehow.  It is … as if he is singing to me and only me.  I did not know, until doing a brief bit of research for this music post, that he had been heavily into drugs.  Silly me, eh … what else should I have expected?  Sigh.

Taylor wrote this in 1968 at three different times. He started it in London, where he auditioned for The Beatles’ Apple Records. He later worked on it in a Manhattan Hospital, and finished it while in drug rehab at The Austin Riggs Center in Massachusetts. In a 1972 Rolling Stone interview, Taylor explained: “The first verse is about my reactions to the death of a friend (that would be Suzanne – explained below). The second verse is about my arrival in this country with a monkey on my back, and there Jesus is an expression of my desperation in trying to get through the time when my body was aching and the time was at hand when I had to do it. And the third verse of that song refers to my recuperation in Austin Riggs which lasted about five months.”

“It concerned a girl called Susanne I knew who they put into an isolation cell and she couldn’t take it and committed suicide.”  Her name was Susie Schnerr, and Taylor also explained that it was months before he found out about her death, as his friends withheld the news so it wouldn’t distract Taylor from his burgeoning music career.

In a 1972 Rolling Stone interview, Taylor added: “I always felt rather bad about the line, ‘The plans they made put an end to you,’ because ‘they’ only meant ‘ye gods,’ or basically ‘the Fates.’ I never knew her folks but I always wondered whether her folks would hear that and wonder whether it was about them.”

When Taylor performed this in 2015 on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he and Colbert had some fun, with Taylor explaining that he was still working on it. “I wrote that song in 1970, and I just hadn’t seen that much back then – mostly fire and rain, so that’s why I keep saying it over and over again in the song,” he said.

Taylor then explained that he had never seen a calzone at the time, but if he had, he would have definitely added it to the lyric. Taylor and Colbert then performed an updated version of the song with new lyrics. A sample:

“I’ve seen man buns, Myspace and the Baha Men, but I never thought I’d see a new Star Wars again”

“I’ve seen grandmas reading 50 Shades of Grey”

“Quidditch teams and skinny jeans cutting blood off from my thighs”

Oh my!

Fire And Rain
James Taylor

Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone
Susanne the plans they made put an end to you
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
I just can’t remember who to send it to

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Won’t you look down upon me, jesus
You’ve got to help me make a stand
You’ve just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
And I won’t make it any other way

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again

Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it’ll turn your head around
Well, there’s hours of time on the telephone line to talk about things
To come
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you, baby, one more time again, now

Thought I’d see you one more time again
There’s just a few things coming my way this time around, now
Thought I’d see you, thought I’d see you fire and rain, now

Songwriters: James Taylor / James V Taylor
Fire And Rain lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC