I posted a music video of The Mamas and The Papas recently and doing so got me to thinking about how much I love Mama Cass. And so I thought that I would share with you a great song written as a tribute to her. But I didn't want to stop there, so decided that I would compile a set of tribute songs...tunes that give the nod to musicians that have sadly left us to attend that big ole Woodstock in the sky. There are some great tunes here...eulogies for those who are always worth remembering for their contribution to the world of music. All songs can be downloaded as mp3s - just right click on the song title and choose 'save target as'.
We start, predictably, with the song mentioned above. A lovely song in honour of the great Mama Cass from the Swedish singer Marit Bergman. The song is gorgeous and sunshiney...very much in keeping with the sound of Mama Cass herself.
Cass, we remember you not just now, but always.
Bonus factoid: Did you know that Keith Moon, some four years later, died in the same London flat as did Cass Elliot?
Read more about her here.
Or learn about The Mamas and The Papas.Pearl - The Mamas and The Papas (lyrics)
Bird Song - Jerry Garcia (lyrics)
In The Quiet Morning - Joan Baez (lyrics)
Bessie Smith - Bob Dylan and The Band (lyrics)
Read about her here.
A Tribute To A King - William Bell (lyrics)
Whilst all the above songs followed neatly on from one to the next, I really was unable to think how to follow Bessie Smith. I decided to plump for A Tribute To A King, for little other reason than it is very good indeed; in my opinion one of the best songs on this list, and another very worthy honouree in the shape of Otis Redding.
From a king to The King...none other than Mr Elvis Presley. First up we have Gillian Welch and her testimonial in the form of Elvis Presley Blues, from which the very best line has to be:
And he certainly did. It's amazing to think now about exactly how racy Elvis' dancing was considered - this was the age of rock n roll and rebellion...a time when teenagers really came into their own.
Black Velvet - Alannah Myles (lyrics)
It was "a new religion that'll bring ya to your knees"...here was a (beautiful) young man mixing up elements of black and white music, country and rhythm and blues, and really causing a bit of a stir in the process! Again, his risque dancing is given a mention, "The way he moved, it was a sin, so sweet and true".
And why not check out the tribute album from Wanda Jackson (whom I bloomin' love!) I Remember Elvis.
I can't imagine that you need to read up on Elvis Presley, but if you do, you can do so here.
Another song that you may not know to be a tribute is Don McLean's American Pie. Yessiree, this one's about Buddy Holly, who also made massive contributions to what it meant to be a teenager in the 1950s.
American Pie - Don McLean (lyrics)
Another one (obviously) about Buddy Holly is:
But how about Three Stars, which memorialises not only Holly, but also Richie Valens and The Big Bopper, who died along with him in the same plane crash. Again this is a tribute from a musical peer, who lost three friends to that plane crash, as the world lost three of its singers.
Three Stars - Eddie Cochran (lyrics)
In 1989, on their album 11, The Smithereens remembered those left behind, with a song for the widow of Buddy Holly, itself a 60s-influenced piece of jangly guitar pop.
In 1972, David Bowie paid his respects to a compeer loved and lost on his infamous album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.
This song is about Marc Bolan...off stage, "The boy in the bright blue jeans", on stage the titular "Lady Stardust". Bolan was another artist who was controversial in his time, for his feminine appearance, glamming it up with feather boas and sparkly make-up on stage:
"People stared at the makeup on his face
Laughed at his long black hair, his animal grace".
Read about Marc Bolan here.
And go here to read about Tyrannosaurus Rex/T-Rex.
Next up is a song for Gram Parsons, courtesy of The Eagles (the nearest thing to a link between this and the last track that I could think of was that Bolan and Parsons died in the same week...although as this was four years apart, I think we'll just do without a link!).
My Man - The Eagles (lyrics)
Read about the not-talked-about-nearly-enough Parsons here.
Giving up on linking between songs altogether, we have Sonic Youth singing about Karen Carpenter, and her sad death at the hands of anorexia-related heart failure.
Tunic (Song For Karen) - Sonic Youth (lyrics)
Sonic Youth also did a fabulous cover of The Carpenters' song Superstar, which is worthy of inclusion here despite being a cover and not a tribute simply because it is so good. Apparently even good enough to be used by trendy indie film makers (it's on the Juno soundtrack).
Superstar - Sonic Youth (lyrics)
Go here to read about Karen Carpenter.
Or read about The Carpenters.
Last up we have a song for a much more recently deceased, although still massively influential, musician. That musician is Kurt Cobain, remembered here by Neil Young.
Or read about his band, Nirvana.
Well, that's our nice round top ten done, but I feel it is my duty to crank it up to eleven and add a bonus track...we can't blow this joint without mentioning Johnny Cash right?
Tot them up, that's 19 songs...enough for another mix CD! Get downloading and burning folks!