High School Music Video

I’m sure, reader, you are surprised to learn I was a dedicated member of the media club in high school. As such, in our senior year, we were supposed to produce a short video to air on the last morning of classes.

So of course I chose a Moody Blues recording that, at the time, felt like the uplifting sort of track one wanted for a ceremony like that. In retrospect, … well, that was more than 20 years ago. So allow me my retro thoughts on song selection, though my selections were never popular.

Long story told I thought the result was long lost. I’m so happy it has surfaced for no other reason than I get to show my daughter I wasn’t lying about what I was capable of in high school.

I’d love it if I could find the video I created in place of the video I intended for the last day… I guess we always have lost things? That one was set to You and Me.

My 1995 Mike Pinder Interview: Video

Ah, how innocently I posted in 2016 that I would find and post the interview I did with Mike Pinder “shortly”.  I suppose it’s relative.  A slightly more in depth recap (photos can be seen in the original post): I was a high school senior.  Mike Pinder was touring Barnes & Noble bookstores to support A Planet With One Mind.  I was a member of the TV club at school (media geek, yep!) and we had learned you don’t get interviews if you don’t ask.  So I took my FOMP newsletter in hand (if you know, you know), and thought I would float doing an interview before his Albany, NY appearance in a small hope to spread the word.  We had a local access cable channel through the school and at least some parents and students watched (well, the students were sort of made to).  I called from home.  A very nice woman answered (I later learned this was Tara), and as I put out the idea, she said “Hang on, he’s right here…” and my heart stopped.  The next thing I heard was “Hello, this is Michael.”  I don’t think a heart can stop while stopped but it did its best.

Fast forward: Mike agreed to come by one November evening to the high school after another appearance out of town.  This gave us two or three days to air some promos, spread the word via the mandatory homeroom viewing, and air the full hour interview before his signing in Albany.  Most of the jobs for the “shoot” were handled by fellow students, with support from 3 staff at the high school, particularly our producer, Nick Viscio, who let us redesign the whole studio space and get prepped (and direct the shoot when it happened).  And the snow came.  Upstate New York, after all.  Police were telling folks to stay off the road (and in upstate New York, that doesn’t come lightly).  We had been at the school since the day ended, but Mike and Tara were in transit.  They had my number.  That number had an answering machine – this was well before us having cell phones.  And the high school switchboard was unmanned so no direct incoming calls to the studio.  Thus back and forth and tag, and… well obviously they made it.

I might write something more in depth sometime, but that sets the scene.  Below, find the interview itself in full, as it “aired” in 1995 (I was so happy when the occasional person at the signing mentioned they’d seen it!), and a behind-the-scenes video we aired within the school afterward.  Pretty sure even Mike and Tara haven’t seen that …

The Interview

This was shot in the studio of Guilderland Central High School with my friends (whom I will only name if they want to be associated!) and I edited it overnight to lay in b-roll, but the interview is complete.  No content was edited out.  Everything I uttered (words or not) and Mike’s full answers are here.  As an interviewee he was so very generous.  If we’re really keeping track, at about minute 22 was when my heart was ready to give out again as I listened to the playback in the studio, turned around, and thought “will he still be there after I play this clip?”

(I’m still proud of that image in the background, printed from my inkjet onto a transparency, put into a slide projector, hung from the ceiling)

Behind the Scenes

Put together and shared within the high school.  The nervous energy still comes through, I think 😉

Will the Hall of Fame Ceremony Be The Last Moodies Gig? – UPDATE: No

There was a brief announcement a few days ago about a Sur la Mer II Moody Blues Cruise, which John (via Kristian) has made clear they are not part of. There are no Moody Blues dates listed on their website. I would imagine at least Justin will keep touring (indeed he has dates posted through June). But I wonder….

Update: I wondered, but I was not entirely correct.  The band has added some Vegas dates in the fall.  But Graeme was recently quoted as saying he is exhausted after a month of dates, and John was also quoted as saying the band wouldn’t stop if Graeme retired saying “did we stop when Mike left? .. Ray?” (paraphrased).  I’m not sure dropping to the Js is the same, but I think they’re still laying the groundwork.

And you know what?  Graeme and all of them have earned any retirement they wish.

Vinyl Gap

I was very excited to see, much to my surprise, that the upcoming live concert release from the Days of Future Passed Live tour will include a vinyl release. (Amazon here).  I was holding out a little bit of hope the video would see a 4k/UHD release as previous Eagle Rock titles had been out ahead of the Blu-Ray HD wave with the Lovely to See You title, but that’s ok.

It made me think that there’s a curious vinyl gap in the Moodies catalog.  Over the last few years, new items have seen LP releases, including the Isle of Wight (clear vinyl!) and Collected releases.  There have been a number of re-releases as well, including a million of Days (to varying degrees of quality) and even The Other Side of Life.

But after Keys of the Kingdom, vinyl fell out of favor, leaving what to me are three obvious gaps in the catalog of major releases:

  • Live at Red Rocks
  • Strange Times
  • December

I’ve skipped a pair of other live albums, specifically: Hall of Fame and Lovely to See You as they weren’t as “big” as Red Rocks although HoF did get the PBS treatment.

Even Keys was a limited international release, but by now if you really wanted one, you probably were able to secure a copy.  So why not new releases of these catalog items on vinyl?  Especially Strange Times – arguably the only complete studio album of original material never to see vinyl.  Even as I hate to suggest it, a massive box set of Moodies albums on vinyl that had these 3 titles as exclusives would make me go out and buy it.  Others are selling these massive catalog sets to great success, like Weird Al’s sold-out Squeeze Box.  

Now that I think of it… HoF, unlike LTSY was missing a number of songs we knew were performed such as Strange Times which has never seen an official live release.  So let’s get the whole Hall of Fame show as a an extended edition, too!

It seems like the Rock Hall induction might be a great opportunity to promote such an item… just sayin’.

Remembering Ray Thomas

Note to reader: I’ve been thinking a long while about this post.  It’s difficult, I think, to write about someone you only met through photo ops (in this case a charity auction), but who has been “in your life” as an artist since before you can really recall anymore.  My first Moody Blues concert was in 1986; I was 8.  But I’d already been wrapped up in Moodies music. I’ve decided that for my own remembering, I’m going to work backwards.  This is not a formal sort of thing – it’s just for me.

Mostly, I think about Ray through his music, and I start with The Trouble With Memories.  I know it’s not the actual last recording he was a part of, but it was the last one that hit me square in the heart. I actually can’t comment further without getting really personal, just, this was a really moving song to me.

In a more general way, We Need Love hits me hard sometimes, too.

In 2017 my paternal grandfather passed away.  He loved to sail ships.  I posted a video of Celtic Sonant and then asked Lee if that was alright that I did so.  After her reply that music should be shared, I felt embarrassed that I’d even asked, but also ever so grateful.

Ray’s last Moodies album contribution, as far as I know, was My Little Lovely.  Although I knew very well he’d written this for a grandchild, my girlfriend at the time and I were such big fans, I called her my little lovely, and she knew I’d won a backstage pass.  So we made up a t-shirt that I wore backstage that read “I go to Moody Blues concerts with my little lovely“.  Ray seemed so happy that, to this day, I like to believe I made him smile at least a little.  This was all an amazing experience while I was in college.

While I was in college, my maternal grandfather passed away.  That experience, in my life, attached another song of Ray’s: The Last Dream. I still think of my grandfather when I hear this song.

In 1996 we actually held a big family reunion, and the song I chose to open it all: Love is the Key of From Mighty Oaks.  This was the ‘anthem’ of our reunion.

I Am/Sorry  was such a curious set of songs to me growing up.  It felt like someone telling me to watch out about corporate interests, while all wrapped up in a song.  Could you do that?  I was very impressionable and I’m sure I took some intended and unintended meanings from those songs.

By the way… VCR was my absolute favorite as I was learning to love music.  I knew it was different, unique, and in the end, so full of meaning, even if that meaning was and is only partially in my grasp, that I loved the whole suite.

Dear Diary was not only a beautiful song, but it let all of us add on our own endings.  The Moody Bluegrass folks did that on their version, but I think all of us who “felt” that song, wrote on our own endings.

I’m not going to work my way through everything.  I was tempted but I’ll stop.  Suffice it to say that at every point in my life, I had many songs to be there for me.  There were songs of all sorts.  There were Moody Blues songs.  There were also Ray Thomas songs.  There is not rating or ranking.  It is simply that all of these have shaped me and I cannot be more grateful or thankful.

I may keep changing, adding, editing this post, but it’s time it goes up.

I miss Ray. I’m so glad to have his music. Maybe… that’s enough.

Get It While It’s New

I intend to keep this post somewhat up to date with new or upcoming releases of interest that can be had new and are not the standard usual catalog items, or are new enough folks might not be aware of them.  There were definitely times in the past where I let things go by assuming I’d pick them up later – usually due to being a poor student – and then either couldn’t find them again or only by paying a lot more for them.  As long as they remain available as new items they may stay on this page.  Some won’t stay around for long!

New Live Album

Days of Future Passed Live [video] [CD] [LP]

Filmed in Toronto over two nights (I was at one of them and can just barely be spotted!)

New Book

Long Distance Voyagers – The Story of The Moody Blues Volume 1 (1965 – 1979) – by Marc Cushman

Norda’s Second Solo Album

Has been announced – not available yet

New single from Denny Laine

Meant to Be / Over the Horizon

An appearance by Justin

Burt Bacharach: Life in Song – Justin performs What the World Needs Now

John’s Live Album

Live From Birmingham: The 10,000 Light Years Tour – While the Pledge Music site is no longer available, the album and video are available via Amazon

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction

My 9th grade english teacher told me, way back when, that some day, The Moody Blues would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The band was still churning out the occasional new album back then, and it seemed more relevant.  I’ve visited the museum in the past and it really is a pretty cool place.  I was totally surprised that they were put on the list right around the same time as the 50th anniversary of DoFP, but I was so much more surprised when they were listed as an inductee.  I’m happy for them, for everyone, and that’s one more off the future lists of “why on earth aren’t they in the Hall?”  With luck, I’ll be there to see it happen, mostly because the whole thing sounds like a fun experience and won’t really conflict in my mind with what I think was my last Moodies concert in 2017.  This isn’t a Moodies concert, it’s something else.

But I don’t believe it’s actually fair in the end to omit Patrick Moraz from the inducted lineup.  It made sense to me when Denny was not initially listed.  The Hall had selected a particular lineup, and if one had to select just one lineup, they had the obvious one.  Including Denny, however, means a broader view of who made the Moodies the Moodies.  I’m all for it, don’t get me wrong.  I think it’s right to include Denny.  But I also think it would then be right to include Patrick.  He had a lot to do with their sound from Long Distance Voyager through Keys.  In particular the sound of the band that “relaunched” them (for the second, third, time?) both in LDV  and The Other Side of Life.  If you don’t think he was a big influence I encourage you to listen to his solo works prior to joining the band.  You’ll hear it, all the way down to specific synth types.  I suppose one could argue that Denny helped to set up the lineup that they selected, and the Hall is ignoring the work after Seventh Sojourn.   (I’m doubting you say yes to Octave if you’re the Hall but not LDV).  Or, maybe it’s the nasty lawsuit.  Of course, Mike has sued as well but it didn’t seem to have the same animosity from the outside.  I would hope the Hall would actually sit outside the politics of any band, though.  So I’m guessing it’s the former and not the later.  Which I think neglects not just a large portion of the band’s output, but some of it’s most famous and endearing, depending upon your age.

Denny Laine In Concert 5/4/17

Just over a month ago, I saw a post that Denny Laine would be performing in my hometown of Pittsburgh.  I was super excited, and also maybe a bit hesitant.   I knew for sure I wanted to see him perform.  I knew certainly enough that I was standing in an airport in New Orleans when I booked my tickets on my phone as they went on sale to reserve a table at the Hard Rock.

But was I just collecting?  Denny is the last living Moody Blue I’d never seen live.  (I was born in 1978 and as far as I can tell never had a chance to see Clink Warwick play).  I like a lot about the “Mark 1” Moody Blues (Denny/Clint/Mike/Ray/Graeme).  The first (45) records are mostly covers as they found their way.  I think many pass over are the fantastic songs the Mark 1 Moodies made towards the end of that period, before Denny and Clint left.  I have ALWAYS liked This Is My House and Boulevard de la Madeleine.  When I finally got a copy of the French EP with People Gotta Go (before it ever saw a CD release) I loved that song even more.  Denny and Mike were writing some great songs.  Even though Denny left, the band was starting to find its songwriting talent, (as was Denny), and that carried into the “Mark 2” Moodies as they recorded about a half dozen songs before Days of Future Passed.

I have more than a few of Denny’s solo albums (and I admit, only two Wings albums on vinyl).  I can’t explain why, but his Reborn album always stuck with me as a favorite.  That’s sometimes the thing about music; it finds you at the right time in your life.

So why was I hesitant?   I wondered what the show would be like.  Plain and simple.  I don’t think I’ve heard even a recording of Denny in the last 10 years.  Well – I am so glad to have been there I can hardly express it.

Denny and his band (after an opening act) began by playing Band On The Run in it entirety, and in a casual bar setting, it was perfect.  Lots of joining in was encouraged by the band, and plenty of fun banter from the stage.  It really had an energy I wasn’t expecting.  Denny joked at one point that he had written two parts of a song, Paul had written the in between, so of course, it’s credited to “Lennon/McCartney” most of the time.  “Get it right!”  He told the story behind Picasso’s Last Words starting with “Paul had a Picasso on the wall…. because when you’re a Beatle, you have a Picasso on the wall…”  I really can’t say enough about how great the performance was.  His harmonica on Bye Bye Bird was I think as good as I’ve ever seen on videos from the 60s.  My date had a real blast with this one!

If you get to see this show, don’t miss it for anything.  Sir Paul won’t give you the entire album.  And of course if you’re a Moodies fan like me, you’ll never hear The Original Singer perform FOUR of the songs from “Moodies #1”.  Deep in my soul I’d loved to have heard one of his co-compositions with Pinder, but now I’m really hoping beyond hope!

After the show, Denny came out to do a signing.  Apparently this is common knowledge and people showed up with LPs.  I didn’t know, and I didn’t know what the Hard Rock would let me walk in with, so I came with a 45 and a CD tucked into my jacket.

Denny was so friendly and chatted with people as they went by.  I put down my Moodies EP (People Gotta Go) which he happily signed, then, the CD of Reborn.  He was suddenly excited “I haven’t seen this in so long!”  He took the sleeve from me and showed his girlfriend how he appeared in two ways on each page, once as “modern” and once as a ghost – I asked him “Is that you, too, in costume?” and he said “Yes!  As an old composer, you know?  Reborn?”  He signed that as well.

And here is my People Gotta Go EP.  Being signed.  Is this for authenticity?  No.  This will never be for sale!