Monday, September 20, 2010

Music Monday ~ Acoustically Speaking, John Ford Coley, Terry Sylvester, Fran Cosmo, some astrology & a rant about who "Ain't Heavy".

At our local theatre on Saturday evening the Chisholm Trail Arts Council began its 2010-11 Live concert series. Our friend & in-law, and occasional commenter here (TNPOTUS), as well as editing a local weekly newspaper is chair of the Arts Council committee. His main task is to find and book acts to appear each season, and advertise the shows.

A show called Acoustically Speaking kicked off the new season. The show's title wasn't an exact fit, or even a near miss as it turned out, but nobody seemed to mind. Oklahomans, when on best behaviour, are a kindly and easy-going crowd.

The show featured "blasts from the past". Texan, John Ford Coley (formerly of England Dan & John Ford Coley - I’d Really Love to See You Tonight...etc.) performing as a duo with British (Liverpudlian) musician Terry Sylvester who replaced Graham Nash in The Hollies, he was with the band for 12 years. He sang and played on such famous tracks as He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, & Air that I Breathe. American musician/vocalist Fran Cosmo formerly of the band Boston headed the second half of the show with his current band which includes his son, Anton, now a star in his own right.

We much preferred the show's first half. It's good to know that some of the stars of the golden age of pop and rock are still around and performing well, keeping the "gold-standard" in place. John and Terry received an enthusiastic welcome. John is a near-local from just over the Red River in Texas, while Terry's "come-as-you-are" look fit right in with Okie sensibilities. He seemed right at home, and at one point remarked that he "liked it round here" and that it was good to see grass again after New Mexico's lack of it (causing a couple of sniggers). Their old hits came one after another, voices still strong. Both as they pointed out, tongues in cheeks, "looking good". (Husband's photos -click on them to enlarge)

Fran Cosmo's band in the show's second half was typical wham bang heavy noisy rock. Accoustically, I was challenged. My husband was accoustically bored, except for Cosmo jnr's guitar solo (photo below) which was outstanding. No doubt the band is very good - if you like that sort of thing.


John Ford Coley was the name I instantly recognised. The fact that his late professional partner England Dan(Seals) and he both had natal Suns in an Air sign seems like a good starting point. He was born in Dallas, Texas on 13 October 1948 - Sun in Libra. Dan Seals was also a Texan and had Sun in Aquarius, born 5 February 1948. The reason for the "England" bit, as John explained it, wasn't the same one I'd found on-line. John said that originally the duo intended to, and hoped they would, "go international" and might plan to change the prefix to Dan's name to match their venues ("Germany" Dan, etc.) But that didn't work out because their record label preferred that they remained "domestic".

England Dan's and John's Natal Suns were in harmonious trine aspect. Mercury in trine too, from 3/4 degrees Pisces/Scorpio. The guys clearly had a strong background of compatibility. Slower moving, generational planets were in similar positions for both, of course. It's not at all surprising to find that they had been friends and professional partners since High School days.

The duo disbanded in 1980 as styles changed and the disco era dawned. Sadly, Dan Seals died of mantle cell lymphoma, aged 61 in 2009. On that date transiting Jupiter conjoined his natal Sun. Jupiter is often found in significant position at a person's death, there's no clear astrological reason why such a supposedly benign planet should be around personal planets at the point of eath, other than, perhaps, signifying a benign release from pain. Uranus, planet of change, conjoined natal Venus at the time of his death too.

England Dan & John Ford Coley peforming their biggest hit, I'd Really Love to See You Tonight (written by Parker McGee)~

Terry Sylvester was born on 8 January 1947, close to the home of Paul McCartney in Liverpool's Allerton area. Before getting into music he worked for George Harrison's brother as an apprentice panel-beater. He was part of the band Swinging Blue Jeans, then joined the Hollies when Graham Nash left to form Crosby Stills and Nash - names to conjure with, aren't they?!

Terry's Capricorn Sun/Mars/Mercury indicate a steady, feet-on-the-ground nature, which must have had a lot to do with keeping his head back in the 1960s and 70s when so many others in the business lost theirs. He has two or three planets in Leo (depending on time of birth & Moon position) reflecting his comfort in the spotlight. An interesting patterning in his chart throws up 3 Yods (sharp pointed configurations formed by a sextile between 2 planets each linked by quincunx aspect to another at the point). One Yod has Sun at the point, one has Mars and one has Uranus. Sun/Mars/Jupiter/Uranus are the celestial "band" forming these mythical "Fingers of Fate", and his celestial band has certainly worked harmoniously for Terry over many years.

The Hollies with Carrie Anne from 1969 - Good views of a youthful Terry here, on vocalist Allan Clarke's left, on screen.

I cannot finish without including the Hollies' version of that wonderful song composed by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell, who were introduced to each other by Johnny Mercer at a California nightclub. Despite the fact that Russell was dying of cancer and that the pair met in person only three times, they managed to turn out He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother.

(Warning: entering soapbox mode in next 3 paragraphs)

He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother is often dedicated to "our soldiers, who are keeping us safe" - Terry did this on Saturday evening, mentioning troops from the UK and the USA. It was the only time I felt unable to applaud his announcements. We've not been "kept safe" since the 1940s, and most of the audience hadn't even been born then, including Terry. Wars since then have only served to make us less safe and to line the pockets of the Military Industrial Complex - wars are huge profit (and empire) makers. Lives, as you may have noticed, are expendable.

I see this song, nowadays, as offering a message to those closer to home, those who avidly support right-wing politics in the USA, and elsewhere, who care little for the needs and poverty of others in their own country and abroad: their brothers. They care, unapologetically, only for their own wealth and comfort. And...Afghans and Iraqis are also our brothers, most of them not much different from you and I, other than in the customs of their respective countries. If I'm ever at a concert where somebody stands up and makes an announcement along these lines, I'll stand up and CHEER them - ducking the pigs as they fly.

I won't apologise for making a political point in a blog about music. Like the character in Network I'm angry - "Mad as Hell and not going to take it anymore"

The Hollies recorded the emotional ballad (lyrics below), which had been discovered by the group's guitarist Tony Hicks as a publisher's demo. Hicks later said that the demo was very slow in tempo, and that really only the lyrics remained in The Hollies version with Allan Clarke on lead vocals and autoharp, Terry Sylvester on high harmony, Tony Hicks on bottom harmony and guitar. Bobby Elliot played drums, Bernie Calvert bass, while Elton John guested on piano.

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows when
But I'm strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain't heavy, he's my brother

So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We'll get there
For I know
He would not encumber me
He ain't heavy, he's my brother

If I'm laden at all
I'm laden with sadness
That everyone's heart
Isn't filled with the gladness
Of love for one another

It's a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we're on the way to there
Why not share
And the load
Doesn't weigh me down at all
He ain't heavy, he's my brother.


Wisewebwoman said...

I applaud you on that high soapbox, T. I hate to see wonderful lyrics and music hijacked by those who would pervert them.
Great post, apart from the heavy metal the concert sounded a BOMB.
Interesting about Jupiter and death.

kaleymorris said...

I suppose there are many stories about "He Ain't Heavy." Here's mine:
I was in the fifth or sixth grade, attending a Girl Scout meeting and did not expect to see my Dad come in looking for me, my sister and the older of my two brothers. He told us we had to come with him. Our youngest brother had been hit by a car and Dad had been sent to collect the other siblings.
We were deposited at a neighbor's and left there to wait for word of his condition. I played Solitaire. I noticed the illustration on the back of the cards was a boy in a snowstorm carrying another on his back with the caption: "He ain't heavy, Father, he's my brother."
I remember it as a pivotal moment, the one that permanently cemented the depth of caring I have for my own siblings, particularly my brothers. I think of that day every time I hear that song.
My brother, by the way, took weeks to recover but was OK. Very poor handwriting is said to be the only lasting symptom. He was six years old, just learning to write.

R J Adams said...

Yes, well-ranted, Twilight. I think these acts often throw in the "for our brave lads..." comment, just to endear themselves to the audience.
As for "He Ain't Heavy..." - an all time great.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Thanks. It's a shame, I agree - and what RJ says, below, has a lot to do with it, I guess: pandering to the audience, which, in this neck of the woods would be mainly very pro-military.

Yes, the Jupiter thing is one of those "strange but true" astrological effects. The usual explanation is as I wrote in the post, but I've had a sneaking feeling, since reading up on it some time ago for a post, now archived

that Jupiter, as the planet responsible for destruction of other bodies, due to its size, maybe ouught to be credited with an extra meaning....representing the eventual destruction of human bodies, as well as the other benign connections it has gathered.
Just a theory. :-)

Twilight said...

kaleymorris ~~~ Hi! That's a sweet memory (thought - so easily might have been a tragic one), connected to the song. Your Dad had talked about the event quite recently, as it happens, and mentioned that the wee boy's big furry coat had a lot to do with keeping him from worse injury.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~~ Agreed on both counts.
Once in the spotlight, on stage, I guess that performers feel the need to ingratiate themselves (....a bit like politicians.)
I wonder if they have a set of different "dedication chat-up lines" and change them according to location.