Ryan Welton

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Category Archives: 1970s

SiriusXM’s Johnny Carson channel is the best thing they’ve created in years

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I’m a devotee of all-things SiriusXM, and even if I were considering dropping the subscription ($44.99 for two vehicles), my mind would have been changed at the beginning of October.

That’s when the Johnny Carson channel debuted on SiriusXM 105.

They’re playing 1970s and 1980s episodes of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson for the entire month. We’re talking monologue, guests, comedians, the whole enchilada — 90 minutes in the ’70s, the greatest era of Carson.

It’s a joy.

I find myself listening to the interviews as if both Carson and the interviewee were still alive. Much of the time, neither are. Tim Conway told a story about being a Little League dad, and I sighed when I realized that Tim’s grown kids are likely older than I.

But also, it was much less politically correct back in the day. Carson every once in a while would say things that I don’t think folks could get away with in 2019.

I remember my folks watching Carson most every night, at least during the 70s. During the pre-cable era, that’s all that was on aside from a late movie.

Of course, as with many SiriusXM specialty channels, this one ends come Nov. 1. I sure wish they’d reconsider. I could listen to Johnny for hours upon hours. Such terrific nostalgia.

“FM” by Steely Dan | Cover Song of the Week

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FM by Steely Dan

When I decided to do a cover version of Steely Dan’s “FM,” also known as “No Static At All,” I only had to tell Kristi that I was covering my alarm clock.

The four-note opening phrase to the title track from the 1978 movie, “FM,” has been one of my alarm tones for the past year or so. The notes, by the way, are A+C# and B+D, back and forth.

When I aim to cover a song as beloved as “FM,” I hardly aim for perfection because Donald Fagen I am not. However, I have a lot of fun with these songs and am making it my mission to cultivate an audience of people my age and older (or younger) who love these songs as much as I do. That’s why I started my Facebook page: Ryan Welton Music.

Hope you enjoy this one! And if you do, come find me on Facebook or on my YouTube channel of the same name: Ryan Welton Music.

“FM” lyrics, Steely Dan

Worry the bottle Mama, it’s grapefruit wine
Kick off your high heel sneakers, it’s party time
The girls don’t seem to care what’s on
As long as they play till dawn
Nothin’ but blues and Elvis
And somebody else’s favorite song

Give her some funked up music, she treats you nice
Feed her some hungry reggae, she’ll love you twice
The girls don’t seem to care tonight
As long as the mood is right

FM – no static at all

Give her some funked up music she treats you nice
Feed her some hungry reggae she’ll love you twice
The girls don’t seem to care tonight
As long as the mood is right

FM – no static at all

Cover + Chords: Learn how to play Gino Vannelli’s “I Just Wanna Stop”

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Listening to my favorite Yacht Rock radio station yesterday, SiriusXM’s 311, on the SiriusXM app, I heard Gino Vannelli’s “I Just Wanna Stop,” a No. 4 hit here in the United States back in 1978.

His other big hit here, “Living Inside Myself,” peaked at No. 6 in 1981. Great song.

However, as I keep thinking about how to develop content around my music, I find it wise to listen to people who visit my site and my channels and my Instagram and Facebook, all of it. I’ve had several other musicians ask for chord structures on these songs — a little somethin’ to provide them with value beyond a listen.

So, here goes. Hoping that if you like it, you’ll “like” it and come find me on YouTube. Let’s grow the community together!

Basically, the song starts with an Emaj9 and a Dmaj7 / E back and forth, or as I call it “a B chord on top of an E and then a D chord on top of an E.”

The verse is Emaj9 to C#m9 to Amaj9 (or 11th or 13th, depending on how fancy you wanna get), and then than Amaj9-11-13, A/B (which is an A chord on top of a B in the bass line) and Emaj9 with the turnaround being a sweet Cmaj9, B11.

Repeat the verse and then the bridge is Amaj7, G#m7, F#m7, Amaj7 with the money chord being the Bbm7-5 before the start of the chorus. That chord is basically a Bb-Db-E in the right hand on top of a Bb in the bass line.

The chorus is easy. It’s Amaj7, G#m7, Dmaj7/E and then repeat before closing out the chorus with Amaj7, G#m7 and F#m7 and that Cmaj9,B11 turnaround.

Does that help at all? Hope you enjoy. Here’s the finished product:

http://www.youtube.com/soonerryan2000

 

Yacht Rock Original: “Everybody’s Girl”

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I’ve loved all-things yacht rock before the genre even had a name. Christopher Cross, Toto, Boz Scaggs, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Hall & Oates: love all of it.

And after 20 years I finally have a classification for all the music I write. Well, that and smooth jazz.

Here’s my latest. It’s a tune about a girl who is the ultimate people-pleaser. She’s “Everybody’s Girl.”

 

Oh, if you dig the song, please come subscribe to my YouTube channel. I post all sorts of stuff out there but try to keep it to all-thing smooooooth. My channel is YouTube.com/soonerryan2000

Lyrics below:

EVERYBODY’S GIRL (a yacht rock original) c. 2017, Ryan Welton

Verse 1: You talk about us, you never stop I can tell: my ears are ringing

You’re chirping here and you’re buzzing there I’d much rather hear birds singing

But if everybody talks, then nobody listens

To the words they say

Maybe I’d have a fightin’ chance some other way

 

Verse 2: I’ll meet you down at the club tonight

You can tell the boys you’re single

Wear that black dress that’s extra tight

I’ll observe you while you mingle

Pour me a whiskey

Hell, make it a double

Dance the night away

But I can’t pretend to be at ease while you’re at play

 

CHORUS: She’s everybody’s girl (everybody’s)

If you can be OK with her as everybody’s girl

Then go ahead and step inside her crazy, crazy world

There’s few who can survive it for long

Everybody’s girl

 

Verse 3: She looks at me but she dreams of him

That’s a constant game she’s playin’

She never says what she really means

Unless she punctuates, “Just sayin'”

Call her a phony

Or just a pretender

You can call me a fool

The girl plays with minds like she plays with hearts: no rules

CHORUS INTERLUDE CHORUS 2x

Cover & Lyrics: The secret to playing Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne”

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Last week, I got to see the legendary Steely Dan although I certainly, remorsefully didn’t ever get to see Walter Becker. I wrote about the gig at the River Spirit Casino in Tulsa, too. If you haven’t been to River Spirit for a show, I highly, highly recommend it.

Easy find. Easy parking. Awesome staff. Coffee shop open after the show.

If you read that post, you know that Donald Fagen and company did “Kid Charlemagne” as their encore. “Kid” is my favorite ‘Dan’ song of all time. It mixes rock with jazz and his wonderful on guitar as it is on keys, kind of a perfect blend of Becker and Fagen.

So, this weekend I decided to cover it. Show me a little grace on this one; I worked it up in 30 minutes and memorized most of the words. The secret to playing this tune is the beginning. You can’t just hammer a C7 and call it good. In the right hand, it needs to be an Eb, E and Bb — three notes with a C bass.

See also: Ryan Welton’s YouTube channel filled with original songs, comedy tunes, smooth jazz and video randomness

Here are the lyrics for you to follow along:

While the music played, you worked by candlelight
Those San Francisco nights
You were the best in town
Just by chance you crossed the diamond with the pearl

You turned it on the world
That’s when you turned the world around
(Did you feel like Jesus?)
Did you realize
That you were a champion in their eyes?

On the hill the stuff was laced with kerosene
But yours was kitchen-clean
Everyone stopped to stare at your technicolor motor home

Every A-Frame had your number on the wall
You must have had it all
You’d go to L.A. on a dare and you’d go it alone
(Could you live forever?)
Could you see the day?
Could you feel your whole world fall apart and fade away?

Now your patrons have all left you in the red
Your low-rent friends are dead
This life can be very strange
All those day-glo freaks who used to paint the face

They’ve joined the human race
Some things will never change
(Son, you were mistaken)
You are obsolete
Look at all the white men on the street

Clean this mess up else we’ll all end up in jail
Those test-tubes and the scale
Just get it all out of here

Is there gas in the car?
Yes, there’s gas in the car
I think the people down the hall know who you are

‘Cause the man is wise
You are still an outlaw in their eyes

Review: Steely Dan’s Tulsa show a party for Walter, total fan delight

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On a night when country star Jason Aldean got all the headlines for playing in Tulsa, his first gig since the horrific Las Vegas shooting a week and change earlier, Steely Dan was also in the city, only a month and nine days removed from the death of its co-founder, Walter Becker.

In essence, Steely Dan these days is Donald Fagen with a big band of sorts. Even before Fagen took the stage, these cats entertained the River Spirit Casino crowd with the theme from “Inspector Gadget.” You could have given me a billion guesses, and I wouldn’t have come up with that one for an opener.

The band was comprised of a baritone sax player, a guy on tenor and alto, a trumpet player and a trombonist. You had a lead guitarist and bass guitarist, and there was a piano player. Three female singers made up the “Danettes,” and there was Fagen himself on Rhodes. Most of my own playing is done on a more electric piano sound precisely because of Donald Fagen, who oddly enough is looking more and more like Ray Charles every day, with back-and-forth head movement and sunglasses on stage that make him look blind.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention the drummer yet. His name is Keith Carlock, and he plays for Steely Dan and Sting and might be the best drummer I’ve ever seen live. He was easily the highlight of the hired help, if you’re askin’ me. Carlock is so good that he warranted a drum solo within the first three songs, and he received high praise from Fagen, who called him one of the “greatest drummers of our time.”

But everybody at this show knew who was missing, and that was Walter. Fagen acknowledged it early, although he did so without much ado, adding that “life goes on,” a stoic acknowledgment from the man who met his music partner 50 years ago this year at Bard College. It was a stoicism that shows up a ton in Steely Dan music, but it wasn’t without sentimentality either as they played a Becker-penned “Book of Liars,” from the 1995 live album “Alive in America” with family pics from Becker displayed on the big screen.

Fagen told an adoring crowd that he did and would forever miss “his pal.”

steely-dan-1

Fagen didn’t trot out all the hits with this bunch on this night. Notably missing were “Do It Again,” “Deacon Blues,” “FM,” “Bad Sneakers,” “Babylon Sisters,” “Any Major Dude” and anything from “Two Against Nature” or “Everything Must Go.” Most of the focus was on Aja, with the title track, “Black Cow,” “Peg” and “Josie.”

As Fagen walked to the stage upon the end of “Inspector Gadget,” (feels weird to type those words) the band broke into “Black Cow” and followed it up with “Black Friday” before moving into Aja. The one solo track that Fagen did wasn’t the hit, “IGY,” it was “New Frontier,” an equally delightful song from the brilliant “Nightfly” record from 1982. God bless, what a great album that was.

Steely Dan played “Hey Nineteen,” “Time Out of Mind” (their final Top 40 hit), “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” (their biggest chart hit), “Dirty Work” (with the Danettes on vocals instead of David Palmer, an original vocalist with the group) and “My Old School” before closing with “Reelin’ In The Years” from the wonderful “Can’t Buy A Thrill.” Side note: I would have loved to hear them do “Brooklyn” and “Midnight Cruiser” from that same record.

However, it wasn’t meant to be — and that seemingly included omitting huge hit, “Do It Again,” and fan favorite “Kid Charlemagne,” until we realized that Steely Dan’s departure from the Tulsa stage would only be temporary. There would be an encore, and I was resigned to it being “Do It Again,” a perfectly acceptable song but just nowhere as good as “Kid Charlemagne.” I personally consider “Kid Charlemagne” to be the best song they ever did.

Read also: The secret to covering Kid Charlemagne

And then the first notes of the encore hit, and we knew this Steely Dan show was for the hardcore fans. Fagen and company closed with a killer rendition of “Kid Charlemagne,” complete with stellar guitar work from Jon Herington, who’s been with the group since the mid-80s. The original guitar work on that track, by the way, was from guitar legend Larry Carlton.

I can’t speak for anybody else, but when Walter Becker died, it immediately made me incredibly remorseful that I hadn’t seen them together, just as I hadn’t seen lots of folks over the years. This show became a priority for me, especially to see Fagen, whose solo work I knew before I was even aware of Steely Dan. As a 12-year-old Oklahoma boy with a transistor radio, “IGY” was a staple of early-80s pop radio, and his sound and style became a major influence on my music, too, moreso as I get older than ever before.

Long live Steely Dan.

(If you’re not familiar with “Kid Charlemagne,” here it is live, complete with Michael McDonald, who I’ll be seeing in Tulsa next month. Much of this band, however, is part of the crew that played in Tulsa last night including Carlock and Herington and even the Danettes.)

And last but not least, I put together my own cover version of “Kid Charlemagne,” posted to my YouTube channel at youtube.com/soonerryan2000. Hope you’ll give it a look sometime!

These 12 songs would be on my all-time best, definitive, ultimate CD

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I haven’t been able to run this week because of some heel pain, so I decided to revisit a blog project that I’ve wanted to do for a long time: ranking my favorite songs of all time. I figured I’d start with my top 10 and then expand from there.

It’s totally self-indulgent, but I’ve had a great time contemplating the list.

And then I decided to not do a top 10 and, instead, do an “ultimate CD.” The average CD can hold about 70 minutes of music or about 12 songs. So, this is my favorite 12 songs of all time.

But how does one narrow this list to just 12?

Over the course of 46 years, one has lots of favorite songs at different times. Sometimes a favorite song is associated with a season of life, and sometimes it’s about a recording you like, the production for instance. Sometimes it’s both. For me, these songs mostly stand alone although I would totally acknowledge that nostalgia and production have an influence on ranking — and narrowing anything to a top 10 or 12 is damn near impossible.

Several years ago, I started keeping a list of any song that might even make this list. This week, I really dug in and narrowed it, first to 50 and then to 40, to 30, 20 and now to 12.

12. Sous Le Ciel De Paris – Karrin Allyson

I discovered this in a Borders bookstore almost 20 years ago. It was the lead track on a CD called “From Paris To Rio,” by a Kansas City jazz singer named Karrin (pronounced CAR-in) Allyson. Love the accordion on this one. I can’t say that I’d love every version of this song as much as I do this one, but I really loved that it led me to this uber-talented vocalist.

11. Leavin’ Texas – Jerry Jeff Walker

There are multiple recordings of this song, and this is the one I prefer. For me, Jerry Jeff is the country Bob Dylan, a storyteller deluxe, a poet of the Lone Star State even though he’s from Oneonta, New York. I got heavy into his music and all sorts of “Texas Country” back in the early 2000s, and I still love it: Jerry Jeff, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Charlie Robison, Waylon, Willie, David Allan Coe, Pat Green, Cory Morrow, Hayes Carll and of course the great Texas A&M pair: Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen. Old George Strait, too.

10. Big Log – Robert Plant

I was 13 when this song was popular, reaching No. 20 on the charts back in 1983. It never appealed to teenage me. And I was never a big Led Zeppelin fan. Didn’t hate them, just didn’t listen to them all that much. As I got older, the musicianship in this track really started to appeal to me, and today I consider it a melancholy masterpiece. Great song to crank on a deserted road at night.

And, by the way, the fantastic guitarist is named Robbie Blunt.

9. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye & Tami Terrell

This is a very famous song, written by the team of Ashford and Simpson. It’s also the greatest Motown song ever done in my book, and everything about it is pretty much soul perfection. The bridge into the final verse is the best, just the flippin’ best.

8. Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright – Bob Dylan

Like many of the songs on this list, they came from singers and genres I didn’t listen to as a kid. I used to hate Bob Dylan and the vocal affectation and the boring folk music. Little did I know how wrong I was about all of it. At 46 years old, I genuinely love the guy’s music.

7. With A Gentle Touch – Ramsey Lewis

This live version of the Ramsey Lewis hit was on a CD called “Classic Encounter” that my dad bought at Walmart back in 1986 or so for probably $1. But we listened to the first track a billion times, and for me, it never got old. The live vibe felt like a symphony orchestra playing on a summer’s night at a huge park, but you’ve got to listen to it all the way through for the big payoff at the end.

6. Waters of March – Art Garfunkel

There are thousands of versions of this song, and this would be my favorite. Best video, too. Very few people have a voice even in the neighborhood of Art Garfunkel’s. However, aside from the performance, this is a song whose name fits the music. It feels like the oncoming of spring, and I listen to it often in February, right about the time I’ve had it with 30-degree weather.

5. Quisiera Ser – Alejandro Sanz

The only reason I’ve ever heard of this song is because I happened to record the 2002 Grammy Awards. Periodically, there are performances on the Grammy’s that make you pay attention to somebody you wouldn’t have otherwise. Sanz is a famous Spanish singer and musician, and he was joined on “Quisiera Ser” by Destiny’s Child, who were terrific. I’ll go on a rant someday about how Beyonce was never better than when she was with Destiny’s Child, and they were perfect with Sanz, who was rightfully more interested in dancing with Beyonce than singing.

However, the reason I watched that VHS tape 100 times was because of the song. I learned all the words and bought his MTV Unplugged CD a year later. It’s still one of my favorites, and I love this song.

4. Over the Rainbow – Eva Cassidy

Before I embed the video for this version of a song everybody knows, watch this story on Eva Cassidy. She was never famous while she was alive, and her story is heartbreaking. Eva Cassidy is every bit the sound of perfection that Karen Carpenter was, and it wasn’t until a British DJ started playing her version of “Over the Rainbow” that anybody else knew it. God bless that dude.

Here’s the great story Dave Marash did for Nightline:

And here’s the great, great Eva Cassidy.

3. Foggy Day – Oscar Peterson / Benny Carter

Michael Buble’s vocal version of the George Gershwin classic is my favorite with words, but I grew up hearing my dad play this on the piano. It turns out that it was also the first song I ever learned to play, and I’ve always loved it. This was recorded in L.A. in 1954.

And here’s Buble:

2. Overkill – Colin Hay

Men At Work took this song to No. 3 back in 1983, and like just about everything on this list, it did zero for me. As I got older and started listening to lyrics, I started to understand its genius. And then the show “Scrubs” came along, and it brought the song to life once again, this time lifting it to heights unseen.

At his core, Colin Hay has always been a singer-songwriter, just a man and his guitar. Men At Work was just a vehicle, and for me, “Overkill” is a masterwork.

1. They Don’t Know – Tracey Ullman

Tracey Ullman is mostly known as a comedian, but she took this Kirsty MacColl composition to the top 10 of the American pop charts in 1984. I think the thing that has always appealed to me about this song is the British 1950s vibe with the chimes and all and the simple, sweet lyrics. Of course, Ullman is singing the song to her love, Paul.

Paul McCartney.

Kirsty MacColl was an admired singer-songwriter whose folk singer father, Ewan, wrote the Roberta Flack smash, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” Kirsty met an untimely death in 2000 as she pushed her 15-year-old son out of the way of an oncoming boat in Cozumel, Mexico, before she was killed instantly by it.

Here’s her version of “They Don’t Know”:

But it’s no match for Tracey’s version. What’s funny and also appealing about the song, the video, all of it is how campy Ullman was in the video all the while sounding like the precursor to Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles. It’s like watching somebody only half trying but still producing greatness.

Thanks for indulging me! I think I’ll expand this to a second CD maybe before the end of the year. If you’d like to check out some original songs that will never be in anybody’s top 10, please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Mary Tyler Moore statue nowhere to be found in Minneapolis

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I’m fortunate to be able to travel some for work, and last summer I had a conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. So, I spent the weekend prior to that event in Minneapolis, two months after Prince died.

Big fan of Prince, but I figured out early on that Paisley Park was a bit out of the way for this tourist. Besides, with limited time on my hands, I wanted to explore all I could in downtown Minneapolis and see Mary.

That’s right. I’m talking about the famed Mary Tyler Moore statue somewhere in downtown Minneapolis. It’s the one where she’s tossing her hat into the air, just as she did in the opening credits to her iconic 1970s television series, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

However, the city apparently had decided to move the statue indoors, and while it was possible to see it, it was damned near impossible to find it. Trust me. I walked across every street in downtown Minneapolis the third weekend of June last year. It was muggy and hot, and I even went to a baseball game.

target-field-minneapolis

Enjoyed getting to see Target Field although all the concrete and metal combined with the lack of ballpark shade at 1 p.m. made the experience super uncomfortable because it was a billion degrees. I’m pretty sure I would have enjoyed a night game there or to see the Twins in April or September.

And I enjoyed the hotel where I stayed, the W Minneapolis – The Foshay. Very posh and pink, at least in the lobby.

w-minneapolis-the-foshay

The staff was extraordinarily helpful and courteous, and whoever programs their lobby music introduced me to a bunch of new artists I had never heard before. Plus, there is a bar called The Prohibition Bar at the top of the hotel where they serve 1920s-era cocktails. I had one drink, and it put me to sleep.

I’m 46. My party days are long past.

But I love good food and first experiences at great restaurants. For example, one of our business dinners was at the Butcher & The Boar, and dare I say it had better Southern cuisine than I can find in Oklahoma. Not that we’re true South, but c’mon. This is Minnesota!

Alas, my favorite foodie find was the best French Toast I have ever had and probably ever will have. It was the Cinnamon French Toast at the Keys Cafe, which happened to be right next to my hotel. Of course, I snapped a photo of it. The waiter even told me in advance that I’d want that keepsake. It was that good.

minneapolis-keys-cafe

OMG.

But it was after this feast that I went on my quest to find the Mary Tyler Moore statue. All I wanted was a photo of it and to say I had seen it. As a fan of 1970s culture and as somebody who worked for eight years in a television newsroom, I loved the Mary Tyler Moore Show. My sleuthing led me to Nicollet Mall, a shopping district that looked like merely a street and definitely not like a mall. Add unto all of this that Minneapolis was disassembling and reconstructing every sidewalk and street throughout the downtown area, and I was never able to figure out where the statue resided.

Most of Minneapolis downtown was pretty much abandoned the entire weekend, surprising because the weather was nice but not so surprising given all the construction. Of course, that’s not to say downtown Minneapolis wasn’t delightful. Just under construction with no sign of Mary.

This website indicates that the city decided to put the statue in storage.

Hoping the recent death of Mary Tyler Moore and the outpouring of love for her helps the city understand the significance of her and her TV character on Minneapolis. I guarantee I’m not the only person who’s visited Minneapolis in the past year, who hoped to see the statue but who left without getting to do so.

As a footnote, because I’m a musician, I took a few minutes this Saturday morning and did a quick cover of the theme song to the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Written by Sonny Curtis, this is “Love Is All Around.”

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