Happy Birthday Paul Simon

PaulSimon-300x194By Bob Berry

I have long thought the greatest songs are the ones where just one or two lines can bring back memory, and enable you to sing the entire lyrics.

Think Lennon & McCartney, the Great American Songbook writers, the Brill Building contingent, and Motown’s Smokey Robinson and Holland-Dozier-Holland.

Or think Paul Simon.

“A winter’s day, in  deep and dark December…”.

“When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school..”.

“When you’re weary, feeling small…”.

“And it was late in the evening, and all the music seeping through…”.

“The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls, and tenement halls…”..

Paul Simon’s songs , with Art Garfunkel or as a solo artist, are beautiful poetry. They are highly personal, autobiographical, endlessly romantic, even at their most bitter or cynical. They are also, thinking “At The Zoo”, “You Can Call Me Al”, and, of course, “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)”, just plain fun.

Today (10/12), on his birthday, we at Keener13 feel lucky to have enjoyed his great gift.


Oct 13th, 2015 | Filed under Bob Berry, Keener

We Love You And Miss You, Blue

Melvin FranklinBy Bob Berry


You probably know him as Melvin Franklin. You may only know of him as the “and the band played on” guy from Motown’s Temptations.

Melvin, who hooked up with Northwester High School classmate Otis Williams to join Otis’ first group The Distants in 1958, was the soul, the fat-bottom, “the glue guy”, the one, who along with Otis, never left Motown’s original and greatest Fab Five.

Until he died, far too young in 1995, of complications from cortisone treatments for arthritis.

Today, 10/12, would have been “Blue’s” 72nd birthday. Put on some of those old Motown Records and listen closely to Melvin’s rich bass voice on these vocal only mixes of The Temptations’ hits, from “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”, to “My Girl” and yeah, “Papa Was A Rolling Stone“. You might be amazed at what you have never heard before.

But do it after you listen to this stunning mid-song solo. Love you, “Blue”, R.I.P.

Oct 12th, 2015 | Filed under Bob Berry, Keener

Sunday Brunch With Hall And Oates

Darryl Hall (L) and John Oates (R)

By Bob Berry

Deciding what song was on the menu for this week’s Keener Sunday Brunch was an easy choice, and a good excuse to break out the cake and ice cream!

Happy Birthday to one of the great “blue-eyed soul”singers-and survivors,  2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Darryl Hall of Hall and Oates.

Survivor? Consider that Darryl and partner John Oates released their first album in 1972, changed labels 3 years later, and finally cracked the Top Ten with “Sara Smile” in 1976. And then kinda went along with a hit or so a year until they exploded in the 80’s, with multi-million selling albums like Voices, H2O and Private Eyes

Great “blue-eyed soul” singer? You bet, just listen to Darryl’s roots in Philadelphia’s soul traditions shine through, be it a ballad like 1974’s  “She’s Gone“, or mid-tempo dance tunes like “Kiss On My List” and “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do“.

Enjoy Keener’s Sunday Brunch with Darryl Hall and John Oates.





Oct 11th, 2015 | Filed under Bob Berry, Keener

John Lennon’s Friday Song

B2 ImagineBy Bob Berry

“If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliche that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that’s his problem. Love and peace are eternal.”-John Lennon

Today would have been John Lennon’s 75th birthday.

We at Keener 13 can think of no greater gift to John’s memory than to honor the spirit of his dream.

Imagine is the Keener 13 Friday Song.

In the words of your old mate Ringo Starr, “Peace and Love”, John.


Oct 9th, 2015 | Filed under Beatles, Bob Berry, Keener

Jose, Marvin And The ’68 World Series National Anthem

FelicianoBy Bob Berry

Today, 10/7, is the anniversary of one of the most-controversial moments in World Series history.

It wasn’t a called strike, a play at the plate, or a fan “going Bartman“. In fact, it was during pre-game for Game 5 of the 1968 World Series with the Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals.

It was Jose Feliciano, appearing at the the personal invitation of Tiger icon Ernie Harwell, singing his very personal interpretation (and instantly controversial) of our National Anthem.

And boy, did it hit the fan!

“Un-American” might have been the most PG thing that was said to describe his singing. And, yeah, it was different, but to my ears then and now, hardly disrespectful. Hardly the lows of Roseanne, or Carl Lewis in later years.

Jose’, who had been on top of the charts with his version of The Doors‘ “Light My Fire”; saw his career among English-speaking audiences fall apart in the aftermath, save for 1970’s “Feliz Navidad“. And, in a nice moment of closure, was cheered when he reprised his performance at Comerica Park in 2010, after Ernie Harwell’s death.

BTW. There is one other “note” to this story. Ernie, who was also a songwriter (with “lots of no-hitters“) had been put in charge of selecting the singers for each of the 3 home games at Tiger Stadium. For Game 4, and with no disrespect to Mr. Feliciano, his National Anthem singer hit a home run!


Oct 7th, 2015 | Filed under Bob Berry, Keener

The Final Countdown And Other Delights

EuropeBy Bob Berry

We’ve all seen it. The Geico “Final Countdown” commercial.

Funny the first time, amusing the next couple of times.

But now, it’s in “hot rotation” on nearly every cable channel (I didn’t check Lifetime), and it’s annoying.

A song by a band named Europe, written by a guy named Joey Tempest? Really?  #1 in 25 different countries? Really?  And in spite of being on my short list for worst song of the 80’s (lots of choices), I’ve discovered that Rolling Stone readers had a different #1, back in 2011.

“The Lady In Red”, “Never Gonna Give You Up”, “The Safety Dance”, they all there, plus “The Final Countdown”. Click here for the list, videos and Who’s Number One. Or Number Worst!

I should have stuffed the ballot box.



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Oct 6th, 2015 | Filed under Bob Berry, Keener

In The Beginning There Was Love Me Do

LoveMeDoBy Bob Berry

October 5, 1962. The Beatles released their first single in the U.K., “Love Me Do“.

Surprisingly, if only in retrospect, it didn’t sell all that well, peaking at #17 on the charts, and it wasn’t released in the U.S. until 1964! And yet within the next year or so, the world would know that the release of “Love Me Do” was a turning point for The Beatles, and in our lives, too.

Ringo, who played tambourine, not drums on the single, said it best:

“….That first piece of plastic. You can’t believe how great that was. It was so wonderful. We were on a record!”

And to think “P.S. I Love You” was only good enough to be the flip side!



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Oct 5th, 2015 | Filed under Beatles, Bob Berry, Keener

Sunday Brunch With The Temptations

The TemptationsBy Bob Berry

“…I need rain to disguise the tears in my eyes…”.

Nobody sang a “pain” song than David Ruffin.

“Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”, “Since I Lost My Baby”, “I Know I’m Losing You”, David’s last song with the Tempts, “It’s You That I Need”, and more.

But above all, stands “I Wish It Would Rain“.

From Earl Van Dyke’s opening notes on the Motown Steinway, to the very tasty and restrained track by The Funk Brothers , and the incredible blend of the background vocals , “Rain” is a great track. And then..

Sunshine, blue skies, please go away, My girl has found another, and gone away..”.

Nobody sang a “pain” song like David Ruffin.

Sunday Brunch celebrates The Motown Sound with the original “Fab Five”.

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Oct 4th, 2015 | Filed under Bob Berry, Keener

The Friday Song Doin’ The Philly And Boogaloo Too!

NobodyBy Bob Berry

One of the great things about writing the Keener blog is the chance to share with you my passions, be it cars, music, movies, or a good friend’s birthday.

That said, today’s Keener Friday Song goes out with a dedication to my pal Cactus Jack, the forever young leader of  Florida’s best party band, Cactus Jack And The Cadillacs.

The boys and I go back some 15 years, and from time to time I ended up playing tambourine (fairly well) and singing backups (terribly) on their version of “Nobody But Me”, the Human Beinz song from 1968.

Fun? Ridiculous fun. And I just knew all those years of playing “Nobody” and beating up a dashboard, or a control room counter top would payoff someday!

B2 Band 1

My bud Cactus had a small health issue recently, as have a couple of the other guys in the band. Suffice to say all is well, and the band will be rockin’ this weekend. So on the off-chance you’re in Eustis, Florida and a crazy guy in a zebra stripe jacket ( or a red vest) asks you to sit in with the band, here’s your chance to practice.

Enjoy the Friday Song, a monster one-hit wonder with The Human Beinz on Keener!


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Oct 2nd, 2015 | Filed under Bob Berry, Keener

TBT The Keener Connection to American Pie

DonMcLeanBy Bob Berry

It’s truly one of the most remarkable songs in rock and roll history.

8 and a half minutes long, with a ton of complicated lyrics (but a nice chorus); and if it was on “Rate A Record“, it only got a 79, because you can’t dance to it.

“American Pie”, written by Don McLean, released in late November of 1971, by early 1972 it was Number One (as was his album of the same name) with a bullet. And stayed there for 4 weeks!

And all the while we wondered: who was the King, who was the jester? A song referring to the Book of Marx and a fall-out shelter? What?

Enter Bob Dearborn of WCFL/Chicago. As the story goes, Bob’s listeners had been asking for his insight, or analysis of the lyrics. And simple as that, with a lot of listening, and 5 typewritten pages, his amazing interpretation of “American Pie” was born. And distributed to over 100,000 listeners!

As for the Keener connection? We knew Bob as Mark Allen, who came to Keener  in 1968, replacing Sean Conrad on the 7-10pm shift. Bob/Mark later moved to mornings (with distinguished success) thru early 1970, when he migrated to the Windy City.

It’s Don McLean’s birthday tomorrow (10/2). We at Keener thank him for ensuring the memory of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper.

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Oct 1st, 2015 | Filed under Bob Berry, Keener