Crazy Horses was our family’s biggest worldwide hit. I love performing it on stage, and just had to include it as one of my all-time favorites. There are so many memories attached to the music an words of this song. I thought it would be appropriate to do my own personal version…and add a little twist to it!
Smile / When You’re Smiling
I have a picture of my wife, Kandilyn, where she has this beautiful smile on her face. It has always made me smile when I look at it. She has helped me realize how important smiling is, even in a difficult situation. She believes a smile an ease the pain of others and lift them when they are down. I would like to dedicate these two songs as a medley in honor of her, for having the courage and strength to smile through some very challenging times. Ironically, the day after I finished recording this medley, I learned that Smile was Michael Jackson’s favorite song. I find it interesting how this song has touched so many people.
One of my favorite dance tunes of the 70s was Sugar, Sugar. I loved this song! So, when Terri ( my assistant) brought up this tune to be included on the CD, I thought it would be groovy and fun to remember the good old days at high school dances. As I went to the studio, I sat down at the drums and asked Gaynor (my recording engineer) to set up the drum microphones and record me as I started playing (and singing this song in my mind). I then put voice on it and turned it over to Jamie (my band arranger), who took my voice and drum track and put the band to it. Then, Jenny (the female vocalist) came into the studio and put her cool voice on. Finally, we put the vocal backgrounds on. This song made my list, not just because of the song itself, but because of how all the elements came together in an amazing way! (Also, because my wife Kandilyn likes the way I sing, You are my Kandi girl – ha!)
That’s My Girl
My brother Alan wrote this song with this future wife Suzanne in mind. I thought it was a wonderful description of his feelings. This song was included on my 1994 cassette, and I thought I would include it on this CD as well. This time though, I though it would be fun to record my voice now (in a duet style), echoing my voice from 15 years ago. I wanted to show a then and now difference in style and tonality. See if you can hear the differences between the original voice (then) and the echo voice (now). To this day, it rates as one of my favorite songs.
I always thought this tune, which we wrote as brothers had a cool Beatles sound. It reminds me of all the many times back in the 80s when my brothers and I flirted with girls and used dumb pickup lines on them. My very talented son Eric loved this song when he heard it on my 1994 cassette. When he was putting the artwork together for this CD, he insisted that I included this song. It not only brings back some fun memories of the 70s for me, but brings a happy feeling to Eric every time he hears it.
A Taste of Rhythm and Blues
Years ago, I was invited to dance on the show, Soul Train with Chaka Khan’s sister. I love it! The dance moves I learned there inspired me to start choreographing songs for my brothers to put into our concerts. This also helped me as I choreographed the opening numbers and concert spots for The Donny and Marie Show. I want to apologize to my brother Donny for some of the funky moves I made him do on the show – ha! (He was a great sport.) I kept developing different moves as I would go to different dances. Sometimes at these dances, I’d notice people who just stood on the sidelines and watched. I always tried to encourage them to get out on the dance floor. I’d tell them that it didn’t matter how well they danced, it was just fun to feel the groove. So, this song reminds me of the fun times I had, as I helped others to have fun too.
As a kid (and now as an adult), I would find great emotional relief as I started to play my drums. My brothers knew this (especially when I was feeling anxious, frustrated or worried), and they wrote this song about me. I find it interesting that my son Marcus (who is a great bass player) tends to pick up his bass, especially when he is feeling emotional. Marcus has helped me to remember that no matter how young or old we are, we all need to let go and do something that is fun and stress reducing.
You’re Not Alone
When I first heard John Canann sing this song, it impressed me so much. It reminds me that whether you are male, female, single, or married, we all have bouts of loneliness. No one is immune to this feeling. I have learned that the Savior Jesus Christ is always there to help and strengthen us in our moments of struggle. If only we remember to fall back into His arms. I dedicate this song to my sweet little sister, Marie. She has felt alone many times in her life, but has found the truth that lies in the lyrics of this song through trial and prayer.
Back in the late 60s and early 70s, Wipe Out was a pretty hip song. Being a drummer, people would often ask, Can you play Wipe Out? The perception was that the drum beat seemed difficult, when it is actually a very simple rhythm with a catchy beat. It is more than a drum lick though, it is a groove that excites everyone. My son Jason (who is an amazing drummer) used to teach people how to play the drums. He was great at helping them find their inner rhythms. Every time I hear this song, it reminds me so much of him. I dedicate this song to Jason, which includes a drum solo at the end that he and I created together.
And You Love Me
I think my brother Wayne has written some of the best songs that have ever been recorded. He is a mega talent. I’ve always felt my brothers Alan and Merrill were like Lennon and McCartney, and Wayne was like George Harrison. I have that kind of respect for them as writers. This is one of Wayne’s major cool songs. I want to thank my friend Tami Art (who is an amazing singer) for recording this song with me.
Fallin’ In Love Again
This was my first song I wrote (back in the 70’s). However, there is one spot in the song where I got stuck on a couple of lyrics. My brother Alan fixed a word or two in order make the song flow, so I wanted to give him credit and thank him for his help. This song was selected for the 1978 movie Goin’ Coconuts. During one scene in the movie, my brother Donny played the piano and sang this tune with my sister Marie. I was honored they wanted to include my song in the film. I made a few more lyric changes and later recorded it as a duet with the very talented Babette Young. This song makes my list of favorites.
Years ago, I was a representative for Ludwig Drums, along with Karen Carpenter and her drummer, Hal Blaine. Hal (known as one of the world’s greatest studio drummers) released an album which included Topsy when I was about 18 years old. I remember being fascinated with his steady drumming and creative soloing. I made a promise to myself that someday I would play like that. I knew that one day I wanted to record Topsy in my own way. I dedicate this song to Hal and the other great drummers who made a strong impression on me as a kid, and motivated me to develop my own drumming style.
This was one of my mother’s favorite songs. In honor of her, I wanted to include it as one of my favorite songs too. She was always so positive and peaceful to be around. I remember when I was a kid and things didn’t go as I planned, she would say, Oh well, just look at it this way…, or This too shall pass. She always encouraged our family to dream big and use our imaginations. The varied drumming throughout this song is for my mother, who spent a lot of time listening to me pound away on those drums. Both of my wonderful parents were, and still are, an inspiration to our family and friends throughout the world.
My brothers and I have performed this song for years. It really emphasizes the importance of being a friends, whether you’re in a family situation or not. We have made many great friendships with numerous fans throughout the years. It is also wonderful to see how many of our fans have developed friendships with each other. This song brings a reality to the fact that life is really short, and that being a friend is so very important. I never get tired of hearing or singing it. I hope you will always keep its message close to you.
Rock and Roll Music
The groove is what I love most about this song. It sits here, as musicians say, in the pocket. I often perform this song in our shows, and it has become a favorite of mine. As I look at the audience, I feel like they are having as much fun with it as I am!
Wembley Drum Solo
I will always remember the feeling I had while performing my drum solo at our Wembley concert. This concert tour was our 50th Anniversary celebration as a family in show business. So many memories were running through my mind while I was playing this solo. It was truly an amazing feeling to look out into the crowd, hear the screams, see the cameras filming, taking a glimpse of the video screens, hearing the sound of the drums booming in the speakers and in my ears, and focusing on playing – all at the same time. Talk about pressure. Ha! Seriously, it was a moment in time for me that I will never forget. I was taken back to memories of the early days when our amazing older brothers, Virl and Tom, took tap lessons and came home to teach the rest of us. This started a sort of domino effect where each of us would take lessons at something, and share what we learned with the rest of the family. Obviously, my niche ended up being the drums, and performing my drum solo on this tour was almost surreal. I also thought about my brother Jimmy who looks after all of us, and made sure the whole 50th Anniversary celebration was set in motion. What a flood of memories – past and present! I’ll never forget any of it!