March 7 – Ravel, van Zandt, NME#1, Roberta Flack, Girls & Boys

1875


Ravel, 1915

Birthday of French impressionist composer, pianist Maurice Ravel.
 
He’s best known for orchestral standard Bolero Dudamel  (orginally a ballet, as was La Valse Monteux ) and his orchestral arrangement of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Dudamel 
 
His works are public domain outside France since 2008.

1944

Birthday of Texas singer-songwriter Townes van Zandt (*) He created more than a few fine country songs — including Pancho and Lefty  and If I Needed You  — that have been widely covered and popular.
 
When he was at his best, he was among the best. ‘Unvarnished’. The song Greensleeves first showed up in 1580, so it’s over 430 years old. van Zandt might outlast that.

Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that. — Steve Earle
I’ve met Bob Dylan and his bodyguards, and I don’t think Steve [Earle] could get anywhere near his coffee table. — Townes
Townes Van Zandt’s music doesn’t jump up and down, wear fancy clothes, or beat around the bush. Whether he was singing a quiet, introspective country-folk song or a driving, hungry blues, Van Zandt’s lyrics and melodies were filled with the kind of haunting truth and beauty that you knew instinctively. — Kurt Wolff

Often-recommended: double album Live at the Old Quarter(*).
 
 ( Website interview 

1952

Debut of English pop music magazine New Musical Express. Previously it was the Musical Express and Accordion Weekly.
 
It creates the first UK Singles Chart on 14 November 1952 (preceded by sheet music charts since 1936). It’s a best-seller by the 70s when it’s associated with Gonzo journalism after losing ground to Melody Maker and Oz.
 
In January, 1981 it releases the first, 25-track C81 cassette tape in conjunction with Rough Trade Records.
 ( Website    ~ British Chart Hits of the 1960s  

1972

US jazz singer Roberta Flack releases a cover of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, a major international hit.
 
It’s first heard on her 1969 US#1 debut album First Take. Flack had already enjoyed a hit classic the previous year with Killing Me Softly with His Song; she releases 4 more US top-10 singles.
 
The song was written in 1957 by Brit folk singer Ewan MacColl. It was covered by The Kingston Trio in 1962.
 ( Flack site

1994

UK band Blur release Girls & Boys, its UK#5,USAlt#4 single.
 
It’s the lead single from outstanding 3rd album Parklife, released Apr. 25 (UK#1,SE#8). Alas, despite tons of excellent music, Blur never really manages to cut it again in the US market. Proof perfect that it’s not all about great musical performances.
 
The last try is 2003 7th studio album Think Tank — by which time Damon Albarn is feeling much more fulfilled as part of Gorillaz.
 ( Blur site  ( Gorillaz site