Friday, August 25, 2017


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Graham Nash “Our House”

Graham Nash “Our House”

 | February 2, 2016 19 Comments
To celebrate Graham Nash’s birthday today, here is the story—in his own words—behind the classic “Our House,” one of the sweetest love songs ever written. Happy birthday, Graham!
“I came to live in America in 1969 and stayed with David [Crosby] for a couple of nights. He threw me a party and invited Joni [Mitchell] whom I hadn’t seen since meeting her when I played with the Hollies. After that party I went home with Joni and spent a couple of years with her in her home in Laurel Canyon.
“One day Joan and I got up and went to breakfast at a delicatessen on Ventura Boulevard, and a few doors away there was a little antique store, and in the window Joan saw this vase, went inside, fell in love with it, bought it and brought it back to the house.
“It was a kind of a cold gray morning as it sometimes can be in Los Angeles, and I said, ‘Why don’t I light the fire and you put some flowers in the vase that you just bought.” So she’s cutting stems and leaves and arranging flowers in this vase, and I’d lit the fire. Now, my and Joan’s life at the time were far from ordinary … and I thought, ‘What an ordinary moment.’ Here I am lighting the fire for my old lady and she’s putting flowers in this vase that she just bought. And I sat down at Joan’s piano and an hour later, ‘Our House’ was written.
“I think the only thing that I’ve ever really tried to do with whatever talent I was given by God, is that I want to touch people’s lives for the better. I have no choice about this writing thing; I have no idea where it comes from; I don’t want to question it too much. But I am so grateful that I can write.”
(The iconic 1969 photo of Graham and Joni was taken by the wonderful Henry Diltz []. They were on the way to Big Bear to shoot photos for Crosby, Stills and Nash’s first album, and Joni went along for the ride to be with Graham.)
CategoryBehind The Song

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Saturday, April 1, 2017

HELPS Resource Ministries Over 2 million adults are incarcerated in the US Federal & State

HELPS Resource Ministries
Over 2 million adults are incarcerated in the US Federal & State
prisons, & County jails. HELPS fulfills religious book requests for inmates at NO CHARGE! We offer a wide range of religious reading materials free of charge to inmates in prisons & jails.
To date over 850 Bibles have been purchased and shipped directly to inmates. 5,000 additional pieces of religious materials have been sent to inmates absolutely FREE!

Why do we offer this service to inmates?
Inmates who worship become a calming influence. Worship encourages personal, spiritual growth and self-forgiveness.
Worship improves world outlook, gains inner peace and gives direction and purpose to inmates lives.
Much of the existing religious material is tattered, outdated, or bland in nature.
Mail orders to:
Helps Book Ministry 119 South Valley Dr PMB 234
Nampa, Idaho 83686

Orders can be faxed to: 
(208) 467-1273

For inquiries into our ministry please call (208) 402-8822 or visit
HELPS is a non-affiliated non-denominational Christian-based ministry.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Story Behind The 'Tea And Oranges' In Leonard Cohen's Song 'Suzanne'

The Story Behind The 'Tea And Oranges' In Leonard Cohen's Song 'Suzanne'

Leonard Cohen performs on stage at the Musikhalle in 1970 in Hamburg, Germany.
K & K Ulf Kruger OHG/Redferns/Getty Images
In the summer of '65, Leonard Cohen, the great poet-singer who died last week, spent many happy hours in a warehouse by the St Lawrence River in his hometown, Montreal. As he watched the boats go by, his friend, a young bohemian dancer named Suzanne Verdal, whose warehouse it was, served him tea and oranges that came all the way from China.
Or so he famously sang in his 1967 debut single, "Suzanne." The haunting ballad would launch Cohen's musical career, taking him from a minor poet and novelist to one of the great songwriters of our time. Tinctured with melancholy, the song touches on love, longing, redemption and faith. It has a mystical quality, but Cohen insisted it was pure journalism. He had simply reported what had happened in that warehouse and set it to music.
So did Suzanne really serve tea and oranges? In more than one interview, Cohen was asked what exactly was meant by those fragrant lines:
"and she feeds you tea and oranges 
that come all the way from China"
His answer never varied: "She fed me a tea called Constant Comment, which has small pieces of orange rind in it, which gave birth to the image."

He was in fact referring to a store-bought tea manufactured by the Connecticut firm, Bigelow Tea Co. All Cohen had done was deconstruct it into its component parts and whimsically garnish it with a China connection.
Disappointingly prosaic? It might have been, except that Constant Comment has an origin story infused with all the romance of the American entrepreneurial spirit. A child of the Great Depression, this tea would be the founding product of what is one of America's leading specialty tea companies today.
It was created by Ruth Campbell Bigelow, the grandmother of the company's current CEO, Cindi Bigelow. Ruth was a successful interior designer till the Great Depression dealt a body blow to her business.

Constant Comment creator Ruth Campbell Bigelow with her husband David. She developed the formula in the kitchen of her New York brownstone.
Courtesy of Bigelow Tea
"My grandparents literally had no money," says Bigelow. "They had to move to an inn for some time. Those years were very hard."
In 1945, Ruth chanced upon an old colonial tea recipe to make tea in stone containers, flavored with orange peel and sweet spices. She disappeared into the kitchen of her New York brownstone on 50th Street — they'd bought the dilapidated apartment cheap — and began experimenting. She worked at it for weeks. Finally, when she served it to her friends, she was so pleasantly taken aback by the flood of warm comments, she decided to call it Constant Comment.
At the time, America had only black tea and green tea. Ruth would pioneer the concept of specialty teas. However, despite the glowing reviews from her friends, establishing her new orange tea in the market proved to be an uphill slog.
It was first sold in squat tins wrapped in gold foil to specialty stores and boutiques. Since the family couldn't afford a colored label, Ruth's husband and son, David Sr. and David Jr., sat up every night painstakingly hand-painting the green background and red dresses of the two ladies on the label shown drinking tea. In the morning, the tins were loaded into the family station wagon and sold store by store.

Constant Comment was first sold in tins wrapped in gold foil. The family could only afford single color labels for the first tea tins. So David Sr. and his son, David Jr., would hand-paint the red ladies on the labels.
Courtesy of Bigelow Tea
One night, a dejected David Sr. said, "Son, don't tell your mother, but I don't think this company is ever going anywhere."
But then the Bigelows received an invaluable piece of feedback. One grocer reported that a customer had opened a tin, got a whiff of the heady orange fragrance, and was captivated. Realizing that the zestful aroma was the product's defining feature, the inventive Ruth supplied every shopkeeper with a "whiffing jar." Labeled "Open and Whiff," it was placed by the cash register in the way that perfume-testing bottles are available today at cosmetic counters.
Soon Constant Comment was being sold at Bergdorf's and Bloomingdales. But even then, says Cindi Bigelow, sales did not leap. "It was a very slow, gentle rise. The major jump took place in the 1970s," she says, "when we put our teabags in a folding box instead of a tin — now it became more presentable. And sales took off."
Bigelow is "very, very proud" of the Cohen connection. "When I first heard the song years and years ago, a friend pointed it out to me, and said, did you know he's talking about Constant Comment?" she says. "It was a real surprise, but we're thrilled to have that association."
So did the tea and oranges come all the way from China?
"No, they did not," laughs Bigelow. "The tea my grandmother used — and which we continue to use — is handpicked from the top of a mountain in Sri Lanka. We continue to buy from the same tea gardens even today."
And the oranges? "Not China, not even close," she says. "I can't tell you which country our oranges are from because that would be giving away too much, but it's from the same source that my grandmother used."
Interestingly, Suzanne Verdal remembers the "tea and oranges" a little differently. In 1998 she told BBC Radio, "We had tea together many times and mandarin oranges ... I would always light a candle and serve tea and it would be quiet for several minutes, then we would speak. And I would speak about life and poetry and we'd share ideas."
"I believe Cohen's version," says Bigelow. "Because he was registering everything."
But where Suzanne Verdal and the Bigelow Tea Co. are in perfect accord is in their common devotion to the environment. Suzanne was an early recycler. Cohen's song describes her wearing "rags and feathers from Salvation Army counters," an aesthetic shaped by her commitment to repurposing old clothes. Bigelow, which tags itself as a "Zero Waste to Landfill" company, is big on recycling.
"It's part of the DNA of the employees," says Bigelow. "Corrugated boxes are shredded for packaging, tea dust is used on farms for compost, all our cafeterias use compostable components. There are 900 solar panels on the roof of our Fairfield plant, which gives us 15 percent of the energy we use. We are proud of being a family-run, inclusive company that believes in kindness. All our teabags are made in America."
The Bigelow website has several complaints from Constant Comment connoisseurs about missing the old taste. So has the formula of their founding tea changed? The question appalls Bigelow.
"Absolutely not," she says. "People drink with their eyes — and because the design on the box has changed, they assume the taste has changed. It hasn't. Till today, the only two people who know the formula are my parents. They put on their lab coats, go into a room and do the mixing — six minutes of this and 12 minutes of that. What we can't help is the variability in the crop of oranges from year to year, but we would never ever change the original recipe. My father hasn't read those comments, and if he did, he would be so insulted and so hurt — his whole view of mankind would change. I'm not joking."
Ruth Campbell Bigelow, the creator of Constant Comment.
Courtesy of Bigelow Tea
Ruth Bigelow died before seeing her company prosper or knowing that her tea would make its way into one of the most beautiful love songs of the age. She died in 1966, the same year that "Suzanne" was made famous by Judy Collins.
"My grandmother was a very generous woman, the sort who would give the shirt off her back," says Bigelow. "But more than anything, she was tenacious. For a woman to be running a business in the 1940s was not an easy thing at all, but she persevered. Because of her, we are where we are today."
That's why the family has resisted suggestions from canny advertising agencies to change the name of the tea. Constant Comment doesn't exactly trip off the tongue. "It's the name my grandmother gave," says Bigelow, "and we're not changing it."
Nina Martyris is a freelance journalist based in Knoxville, Tenn.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016



There is something divine about "Don't Stop Believin'." A song isn't supposed to barely crack the Top 10 but then come roaring back a generation later, inspiring a new set of Believers and providing the soundtrack to many cultural milestones. And a hit song isn't supposed to wait three minutes to deliver the chorus - Steve Perry doesn't sing the title until the 3:20 mark. But as we found out from Journey keyboard player Jonathan Cain, there was something special about this one.

Cain joined Journey in 1980, bringing with him the bones of "Don't Stop Believin'." Before that, he was in The Babys with another instantly recognizable vocalist, John Waite. Later, Cain and Waite reunited to form the successful all-star band Bad English, which included Journey guitarist Neal Schon. With every group, Cain was a key songwriter. His hit co-writes with Journey include "Who's Crying Now," "Separate Ways" and "Open Arms" (as well as "Faithfully," which he wrote solo); with Bad English, he worked on "Price Of Love" and "Possession" (their #1 hit "When I See You Smile" was written by Diane Warren).

These days, Cain has entered yet another successful phase in his musical trek, venturing into worship music with the release of What God Wants to Hear. He leads worship at New Destiny Christian Center in Orlando, Florida, where he is married to its pastor, Paula White.

Dan MacIntosh (Songfacts): Now that you have a solo album, I'll ask: Was it ever frustrating, as a songwriter, to have others sing your songs and not you?

Jonathan Cain: No, never a frustration. Only an honor. Any time you get a song recorded, it's a blessing, it's an honor. To me, it's a message you want to be able to add to somebody's identity. To be able to find their identity.

Songfacts: I wanted to ask you about "Don't Stop Belivin'," which has taken on a whole life of its own. And this next question is going to be kind of a multi-part question, if you don't mind. The first part is that the structure is kind of odd because it takes a long while to get to the chorus. And then the second thing, I wonder if you can tell me about when you wrote it. Did you get the sense that it was going to be a song that would touch so many people? And then the last part, how surprised are you that it has sort of taken on a whole new life?

Jonathan: The song began with the chorus. My father had coached me. I was in Hollywood, struggling with my career, kind of lost. I was asking him, "Should I come back to Chicago and just give up on this dream?" And he said, "No, son. Stay the course. We have a vision. It's gonna happen. Don't stop believin'."

So, I wrote that in a spiral notebook, and then years later, I went to San Francisco. This was before I was in The Babys. This was '76 or 77, something like that. I went up to join Journey in 1980. I had the book, and we were recording the Escape album. They said, "Have you got a song?"

I looked in my notebook, and I saw the title. I said, "Lord, show me that Steve Perry would love to sing that song." So, I wrote a chorus. They came in and I said, "Well, I trust you guys. Let's write the rest of it." And so, we did.

But it was always Steve's idea to hold back the chorus. I got what he was doing, because it was a tease, you know? So, when that chorus came in, you would be, like, "Wow!"

I kept saying when we were writing it, when we were in San Francisco, "What about the chorus?" And Steve was like, "No, let's wait." It all made sense to me at the time because we were keeping that chorus in our back pocket.

It's definitely a different form of a song, which makes it unique. We didn't really have a lyric for the verses when I got to his house the next day. It sounded like Sunset Boulevard, 1972, which I was there. I said, "See, the song sounds like Sunset Boulevard," and he said, "Well, tell me about it."

So, I described the menagerie of people who would show up on a Friday night and cruise Sunset Boulevard. All the dreamers that had dreams to become actors. Producers, artists, lawyers, anything... they were all there on a Friday night. Those were the strangers "up and down the Boulevard."

It was a blessing for him to come and agree with me over the concept for the song. So, that lyric went on the record.

We heard it when it was finished, and we knew there was something different about it. That's why we decided to lead with it as our opening track on the Escape album. When you put the needle down, it sounds like opening a book. With that piano line, it just sounds like a book opening up.

That was always my dream: to get the Journey fans into a Journey song. It was the first attempt to bring an audience into the band's world. We're singing for you. We're singing about your world now. So, it was a departure from what they had been doing before.

What I wanted to do was get a little Bruce Springsteen going on. Bruce was the master of that, bringing his audience into his songs. I was a huge fan of Bruce's.

When it came out, I think it went to #11. It never even got Top 10, I don't think. Maybe 9. I can't remember [Yep, it peaked at #9 on December 19, 1981]. It was never a #1 song at the time. When we toured in '98, I started to see the kids come to the front of the stage whenever we played it. These teenagers that were at the show would get out of their seats and rush to the stage. I could never figure out what it was about this song that just speaks to young people.
Before Rock of Ages, "Don't Stop Believin'" was used in a key scene in the 2003 movie Monster, starring Charlize Theron. When the cast of Glee released the song in 2009, it rose to #4; they also did "Faithfully," which went to #37.

And then, of course, Rock of Ages took it on and used it as their closing song. That was a surprise because I'd written it about Sunset Boulevard, which the play was about. I was completely thrilled that they got it.

Then The Sopranos really sealed the deal, along with Glee. So, those three things were just mighty with the song. It just became an iconic part of our culture, and I feel blessed to be a part of it.

Songfacts: The song "Faithfully" is a love song, but does it mean different things to you now, and do you think about your Christian faith when you perform the song?

Jonathan: If you take "Oh girl" and you put "Oh God" in there, you've got a Christian song. It is God-given. God gave me that song. I don't think I've written a song so quickly. I mean, it was probably a half an hour.

I started it on the bus heading to Saratoga Springs. I woke up the next day with a napkin on the side of my nightstand and I looked at the lyrics, "Highway run into the midnight sun." Then I got this supernatural download: This is the rest of the song.

I wrote rest of it down, almost frantically. I'd never had a song come to me so quickly that it was anointed, supernatural. Literally, in 30 minutes I had written that song. I had the napkin in my pocket and I put it on the piano. I had a big grand piano there by the orchestra. I played through it and I thought, "Man, this is good."

The Lord gave me permission to finish it. Normally I would go to Steve Perry or somebody and say, "Help me finish this song." No. God gave me the mind to finish it, and the rest is history. That would be a love song to God, absolutely.

Songfacts: What was the inspiration for "Send Her My Love"?

A promo shot from the '70s
when Cain was a solo artist
Jonathan: I had a girlfriend when I was a teenager and somebody had called backstage to one of the shows and said, "Virginia still talks about you and your relationship." It was just one of those offhanded comments. I looked at her and just said, "Send her my love."

I walked out, and it hit me: "Wait a minute, that's a song!"

I went home and I called Steve Perry up and I said I came up with this idea, and we wrote it on the spot. A lot of this stuff we wrote was just on the spot. Very, very spontaneous. We kind of wrote with an urgency because we didn't have a lot of time together. The road was hard enough. When we did write, we wrote very intense. All the lyrics were, like, within hours. We didn't mess around.

Songfacts: What can you tell me about writing with Steve Perry? Did you have certain roles where you would write the music and he would write the lyrics, or did you do a little bit of each?

Jonathan: He was more of a melody guy. I was more of a lyric guy. We had great respect. It was a God-given respect. I had no idea. It was very divine intervention because coming into the band I barely knew the guy. And yet, God had this commonality between what we loved and we wanted to do.

I loved his voice. He loved my playing. He loved my music. I loved his melody. We were mighty together. It was supernatural and I seriously believe God appointed it. It had its season and really played out greatly.

Songfacts: We've talked about some of the hits, but can you think of any songs off the top of your head that are underappreciated? Some of the songs with Journey that could have had the same sort of popularity that "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Faithfully" have received?

Jonathan: There's a couple of them. "Why Can't This Night Go on Forever," that was an amazing tune that was on Raised on Radio. We did another song on Arrival called "Loved by You," which I thought was a hit. It didn't really get its time of day. Those are two songs off the top of my head I thought should have gotten the light of day, but what are you gonna do? I'm grateful and blessed with what we had success with.

Songfacts: What can you tell me about the Bad English song "Price of Love"? Do you remember what inspired that particular song?

Jonathan: It's sort of a song about a vulnerable male. John Waite's character was always the bad boy of rock. It was just a song that said, "Forgive me. I still love you, but I've got these bad habits, I go out and mess up stuff." Like so many men do. They don't recognize.

You realize you love somebody, but then you're out the back door with another woman and you're, like, "Why did I do that?" It's one of those songs. You have to come back and ask for forgiveness if you want a relationship. Just get real and check in. Just check in with the one you love.

Cain has written or co-written Hot 100 hits for 10 different artists, including himself. A sampling:

Jonathan Cain - "'Til It's Time To Say Goodbye" - (#44, 1976)
The Babys - "Turn And Walk Away" - (#42, 1980)
Tané Cain (his wife at the time) - "Holdin' On" (#37, 1982)
707 - "Mega Force" (#62, 1982)
Heart - "Allies" (#83, 1983)
Loverboy - "This Could Be The Night" (#10, 1986)
Jimmy Barnes - "Working Class Man" (#74, 1986)
Michael Bolton - "Wait On Love" (#79, 1988)

Songfacts: You've written hits for many artists. Are there songs that stand out as special for you, as far as songs you've written for others?

Jonathan: Peter Frampton, there's a song I wrote with him called "Can't Take That Away." It's a blues song he recorded on his live album, and still plays from time to time.

And of course, Jimmy Barnes, the Australian singer, had a couple of songs. "Working Class Man" and "Too Much Ain't Enough Love" both went to #1 in Australia. We had two platinum records there.

And Michael Bolton, we had "The Hunger," which is a great song, which was the title track to his album. And Heart recorded "Allies." A wonderful song. Ann Wilson sang. And just recently, Joe Bonamassa and I wrote a song together called "Never Give All Your Heart."

Songfacts: You have an album that's a worship album. What inspired that album, and what makes it different – for lack of a better term – from the secular songs you've written?

Jonathan: It's been a walk in faith with the Lord. I recently married Paula White, the pastor and an evangelical speaker. And being around The Word and just witnessing her sermons, it just got me thinking along the lines of, "Can I take this message and put it to music?" And the Lord answered me with lyrics. These were things that He gave me that turned into music.

It's kind of the way I work, with a melody first and then I have to find the lyrics. But in the case of these songs, they were all lyrically crafted first, and then I went back and put on the music. So, it's kind of like Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Bernie wrote the lyrics and Elton John wrote the music, right? So, the Lord is kind of like my Bernie Taupin.