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November 2013

“Building a more creative society” 
Creativity Today – Friday, November 8, 2013 
TGIF Music – “Stairway to Heaven” 

Busy week, so there hasn’t been any time for blogging. But I love to do my TGIF piece, so I am making time. 

One debate that goes on and on is, what is the best or most influential or popular rock song ever? The conventional answer (and the one given previously in this series) is Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”. But there are other contenders, like the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”. 

We focus on “Stairway to Heaven” here, since today marks the anniversary of its release in 1971. It was a track on the group’s unnamed fourth album, which is generally referred to as Led Zeppelin IV. Part of what complicates the debate (beyond individual preferences) is that “Stairway to Heaven” was never released as a single, removing sales as a simple reference point. But there is no doubt that the song has been much requested and much played over the years. 

“Stairway” is long (8 minutes and 2 seconds) and complex. The song has several sections, featuring alternating tempos and volumes. But above all, it features Jimmy Page’s fantastic guitar solo and Robert Plant’s distinctive, wailing vocals. Enjoy the song at the link. 

Quote of the Day: “I don't know how much more expressive you can get than being a rock and roll singer.” -- Robert Plant 


“Building a more creative society” 
Creativity Today – Friday, November 1, 2013 
TGIF Music – “Surfin’ Safari” 

The Beach Boys have rightly been called “America’s Band”, and “the first, best rock band”. They have been innovators in the field, particularly with the landmark album “Pet Sounds” (previously profiled in this series), the first true rock-and-roll “concept album”. 

“Surfin’ Safari” is the group’s first album, released fifty-one years ago this week (October 29, 1962). The album’s, and the band’s, success was due to the music’s celebration of the early 1960s Southern California youth culture, a culture that held great exotic allure for youngsters like me growing up in such dismal places like Wichita, Kansas. The album’s songs portray an almost idyllic world of laid-back teens spending their time surfing and cruising in souped-up cars, looking for romance. 

The Beach Boys’ close vocal harmonies, which characterize much of their work, are in full throat here. These harmonies would stay largely the same, but the Beach Boys subsequent work would become much more complex, more interesting and, at times, even dark. 

It is nostalgic to listen to these early songs, such as the title song at the link, and recall this simpler time. 

Quote of the Day: “The awesomeness of God is that even in the works of the Beach Boys, Beatles, etc., the beauty of the music is a mere reflection of what God does everyday. He creates music of all kinds and moods.” – John Foster, rock musician