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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Making a Facebook Connection With a Musical Giant of the 20th Century

The Guess Who

When I first heard of Facebook, I thought it sounded like a goofy idea and a colossal waste of time. Roughly 3,220 friends later--with quite a few likes and pokes in between--I've become a fairly serious "bookie."

What's the coolest thing about Facebook? Well, it's been fun to reconnect with old friends from Kickapoo High School and the University of Missouri. It's been great to "meet" a lot of smart people--and by "smart people," I mean people who agree with me on political and social issues.

But maybe my coolest Facebook moment came the other day when I heard from a friend who just happens to be one of the musical giants of my lifetime. I'm talking about Burton Cummings, the lead singer of The Guess Who and the creative force behind some of the most unforgettable songs of my youth.

If I made my personal list of the 100 greatest songs of the rock-and-roll era, it surely would include "Share the Land," "American Woman," "No Time," "These Eyes," and "No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature." Burton Cummings sang lead and wrote or co-wrote all of those songs.

For me to hear from Burton Cummings via Facebook is a little like a Beatles fan getting an e-mail from Paul McCartney.

It's not that Burt and I are exactly "friends" on Facebook. But I "liked" his page quite some time ago, and that entitles me to notices about his latest activities--and at age 64, he's still turning out splendid music as a solo artist.

That point was made clear the other day when I received a video via Facebook of Burt performing a song that is so new it hasn't been released yet. It's called "Market My Letters," and it's such a haunting, beautifully written tune that I had to share it with Legal Schnauzer readers. You don't hear great piano songs on the radio much anymore, unless it's an oldie from Elton John or Billy Joel. But Burt's new piece is about as good as it gets for a piano song. If you know someone who has a special appreciation for keyboards, I would encourage you to send them this clip:

"Market My Letters" has an other-worldly, 18th century feel to it. In fact, it reminds me of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," by another Canadian musical treasure, Gordon Lightfoot.

Speaking of Gordon Lightfoot, that reminds me that my buddy Burt has quite a sense of humor. Here is his impression of Gordon Lightfoot, singing Rod Stewart's "Maggie May." The video quality leaves something to be desired, but it's still a hoot:

Does my pal Burt still have serious musical chops? Here is a live performance of "No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature," the opening number for his 2011 solo tour in Canada. His backing band is The Carpet Frogs, from Toronto:

Finally, I stumbled upon a video that offers a behind-the-scenes look at two rock legends. Burt performed for a while last summer on a double bill with the Steve Miller Band. Here are Miller and Burt preparing for a joint performance of the Steve Miller hit "Swingtown." These guys have been icons for roughly four decades, but they still take their work seriously. Maybe that's why their songs endure. Enjoy:

1 comment:

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