Elton John “Wraps Her Up” with George Michael

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Happy New Years everyone! We finally made it to 2017! 2016 seemed like a long year as we had a series of unfortunate events: Trump being elected as President, the end of SMAP, Brexit, and many celebrities passing on. One of these beloved stars that we lost in 2016 was George Michael.

Many remember Micheal for his catchy tunes during his days in Wham! or his ironic, musical statements during the late 80s and early 90s as a solo artist. But today, I want to talk about the amazing work he did behind the scenes, being a backup singer for many of our favorite artists during the 80s and beyond.

One amazing piece that featured George Michael was Elton John’s 1985 song “Wrap Her Up”. This song was sort of popular in the US. But, more so over in the UK, reaching #20 on the UK Charts. It has since fallen out of obscurity over the years. I actually found out about this song two days before Michael’s death when I  was recovering from eye surgery. I couldn’t do anything but listen to Sirius XM 80’s on 8 and their weekly Top 40 Countdown, which featured “Wrap Her Up”.

According to Wikipedia and Sirius XM 80s on 8’s Top 40 Countdown that aired last week, George Michael was quoted in a magazine that the song made him sound like he “had my [his] willy in a garotte”.[1] Now I don’t know if Michael was really impressed with the vocals he provided for the song or not. But, in my opinion, they aren’t THAT bad. The call and response between Michael and Elton John are really well executed as the two singers’ diverse approaches really compliments the song.

Now I know this is a pop-rock song. However, I swear the bass is playing a funk-like rhythm. I also swear that you could hear the same bass melody in a Go West song. Anyways, the song is pretty basic if you take away the bass and the vocals. The only other instrumentation is the strong horns section, which has a really great solo section before the lackluster guitar break.

“Wrap Her Up” isn’t a memorable song like “Last Christmas” or any other songs in Elton John’s or George Michael’s discographies. However, it does have some good points and it’s worth a listen.

Wherever You Are, I Will Never Be Forgotten (A Tribute to Maurice White)

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2016 has been a depressing year for the music world. We have lost so many great talents: Glenn Frey, David Bowie, Paul Kantner, Natalie Cole, and many more. The most recent star to fade was Maurice White, who died this past Friday from a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

White was best known as the co-lead vocalist for the disco/funk/R&B band Earth, Wind and Fire. A band who has sold over 90 million albums, singles, DVDs, cassettes, video tapes, and other media since they formed in 1969. The band is most remembered for their late 70s’ smash hits “September”, “Let’s Groove”, and “Boogie Wonderland”. White’s smooth tenor voice mixed with high pitched background vocals help to make Earth, Wind and Fire prominent in the late 70s.

One of my favorite Earth, Wind & Fire songs is “Boogie Wonderland”. I have a 12″ version of this song, which runs over eight minutes, in my music player. But, it’s never getting tiring. Its laid back, ambient feel makes “Boogie Wonderland” a pleasant tune to listen at any time.

 

By the late 80s, this groove maker’s health became worse as he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1987. He was forced to retire from his band in 1994 and cut back his involvement in other musical projects. However, that same year, the Japanese pop band DREAMS COME TRUE released their second English single, “WHEREVER YOU ARE”, that featured White as background vocals.

“WHEREVER YOU ARE” is a perfect fit for Maurice White’s vocals as it’s a upbeat funky pop tune that shares a tiny resemblance to Earth, Wind & Fire’s popular hits.  And White’s vocals compliments Miwa Yoshida’s vocals nicely as they share color and tone. Yoshida’s vocals, unlike the high pitched of the background female vocals of such songs like “Boogie Wonderland”, has a soulful but husky timbre.

This DREAMS COME TRUE song is a must-listen as it from the era when the band produced many great songs, like the one above. You don’t have to be a Japanese music enthusiastic to enjoy splendid melodies and the immense talent from each member. But also,  “WHEREVER YOU ARE” includes a brilliant vocalist, Maurice White, whose talent will never vanished and always live on.

Don’t forgot to check out White’s mini-solo from the 1:55 mark!

 

 

The Wing Beneath My Wings

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Do you remember a time when you reached rock bottom in your life? We had that moment where we felt like we couldn’t do anything to change our situation or we felt down about a certain thing. However, we always have someone to pick us up, whether it be a close relative or a complete stranger. To me, one of these inspiring individuals is Scott Dinsmore.

Scott Dinsmore is a person who made an impact on people’s goals and self-awareness. Founder of the organization Live Your Legend, Scott always wants people to reflect on themselves in order to find an enriching purpose. He travels around the world to empowered others to find the work that each would love to do. He also gave a TED Talk a couple of years ago, talking about how he turn his un-success to success with his three-step mainframe.

Scott’s mission made an impact on my life too. I came across “Live Your Legend” last year by taking the “Should I Quit My Job?” self-assessment. I was in an unlucky strut exactly one year ago at a job that didn’t seem to be self-achieving for me. I had co-workers who would love to criticize than help, no one to really turn to for help, and I became more depressed and lonely at work as my co-worker distanced themselves from me and lived in their own cliches. By Christmas time, I was really down in the dumps as I was lacking self-esteem and courage.

However, with Scott’s advice and his monthly challenge that asked to find my “passions” by keeping a blog, I was able to start up this blog again. I resumed blogging in order to find my voice and passion in the words I jotted down. I found my courage once more as I gained confidence through the blog posts I wrote and the support I received. I was able to speak in real life without being a coward or afraid what people think about me, a big problem I still face and has always faced.

Sadly, Scott passed away in an accident about two weeks ago while doing what he loved to do. You probably noticed that up to this moment, I have used the present tense to talk about Scott. That is because I believe that Scott is still living inside of everyone’s heart. His ideas and passion will continue to live on as everyone continues to search their genuine ardor in the world. His zeal and dreams will never die out as long as there is a need for them.

I picked “The Wing Beneath My Wings” to pay tribute to Scott as he was simply the strength I needed to pull me up and over the lowest points of my life and to help me to fly once more. Whenever I think of Scott, I always have the chorus’ lyrics in mind:

“Did you ever know that you’re my hero,
and everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
’cause you are the wind beneath my wings.”

Thanks Scott for becoming my hero by encourage me to fly again!