Monday, April 16, 2018

My 100 Songs, Again

Sorry I don't have a fresh blog this week. This past year, I've been writing an eHandbook for K-12 schools called, Learning Environment by Design. It has been taking a good majority of my waking hours these past several weeks as I finally decided to publish it online. Check it out if you like.

So this morning (feeling guilty about not getting a blog out), I revisited My 100 Songs list that I have posted a couple of times before here. I went through the list and as usual, several songs were deleted from YouTube. That always gives me a chance to bring in several new songs as the list like my book above, just keeps evolving. Enjoy my friends!

Monday, April 2, 2018

New Releases January - March, 2018

My love of the female singing voice was blessed with the gift of several new albums by a wave of fantastic young women crafting great music. Although a few older folks also make my cut this week including, Joan Baez, Shawn Colvin, and John Prine as the year is just warming up to my Americana music fix. Actually, John Prine's new album, The Tree of Forgiveness, doesn't come out until April 13, but I thought I'd give you a sneak peek of what has been released so far.

I'll start with one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Kacey Musgraves who just released her seventh studio album, Golden Hour. Musgraves is starting to get the national attention she deserves as she played on Stephen Colbert the other night. I have included a video here from her performance on the Late Show.

Equally talented is Brandi Carlisle with her sixth studio album, By The Way, I Forgive You. Brandi's been on the music scene for awhile now, and pulled on my heart strings with her song, The Mother. Last year she also blew my socks off producing one of my favorite albums of last year for The Secret Sisters, You Don't Own Me Anymore.

Next up is I'm With Her, what I'll call an Americana supergroup made up of Sara WatkinsSarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan, all great individual artists. I just recently saw them on NPR's Tiny Desk, and just loved it. Here is their first debut album just released, See Your Around.

This week's playlist is heavy with the first three albums featured above, but also please check out Brett Dennen, Christina Friis, and Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, all great finds after shifting through hours of new material.

Monday, March 26, 2018

They say it's your Birthday

I don't normally beat my chest on my own birthday, but all my grandkids know I love The Beatles and they've been playing Beatles songs on Alexa for me the past few days.

My granddaughter Elliot painted me a picture of Yellow Submarine and I received a ceramic octopus from my other granddaughter Lucille.

I have 8 grandchildren that I love like crazy and in honor of their love to me and The Beatles, here's a little Beatles to start your Monday. Also, it was Elton John's birthday yesterday so I'll throw in one of Lucille's favorites from the movie, "Sing."

Monday, March 19, 2018


Oh, Stormy, oh, Stormy, bring back that sunny day

is the Classics IV 1968 hit song that just starting playing in my head this past week. I don't think you need to ask why? With the constant sh#! show at The Whitehouse, not withstanding the Stormy Daniels scandal, there's always a dark cloud over 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue these days. 

But hey, we've also had a little bit of rain down here in San Diego that the local weather guy called a "storm," and I say that with a chuckle as MK and I fly up to Seattle this week. I'm packing my trusty North Face parka and expect the usual precipitation with a chance of snow this Saturday with what I'm told will include some grandparent activities as well in the forecast.

So boomers, the Stormy video below will take you back with Dennis Yost's vocals as you'll also remember their other hits (from my junior high years),  Spooky in 1967 and, Traces in January 1969. Although, I don't recall any Classics IV songs ever being performed by the local cover bands at the Fesler Jr. High dances, like Iron Butterfly's 1968, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. Wow, I'm putting the Classics IV and Iron Butterfly together in the same sentence; although musically speaking, it was a more of a wide-open time in 1968, and one of the very best years in rock 'n' roll history. Enjoy my friends!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Losing My Religion and the 'Mulligan'

Original Photo: Robert Nicholas     

That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight
Losing my religion

I see myself as an 8 year old on November 22, 1963 the day JFK was assassinated. I remember coming home from school where we had heard the tragic news, going into the bathroom, shutting the door so no one could see me, and then crying my eyes out. That for me is a seminal moment in my youth. I would later reference that moment as the dawning of my political experience that was punctuated five years later as a 13 year old, when both Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated. These events greatly shaped my thinking growing up in a smaller town, but a town that happened to be between San Francisco and Los Angeles... and rock 'n' roll.

My parents were born again Christian Baptists who took their four children to church EVERY Sunday, both morning and evening services and Wednesday night Bible study as well. Later in my 40's, when my butt started to lose it's round shape and go flat, I'd attribute that not to the aging process, but to the fact that I spent a large part of my youth sitting in a hard wooden church pew. Talk about penance, the Baptists had it built right into the furniture.

Jesus Christ
Do you think you're what they say you are?

A big part of growing up a Baptist, was the concept that all people are born with original sin that is ONLY rectified by "accepting Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior" and thus becoming 'born again' as THE WAY to an eternal life in heaven, and most importantly, the means NOT to burn in hell for eternity. And thus was born the expression learned by all baby boomers, "scary as hell."

As a Baptist Christian, there is the central practice of proselytizing by converting or attempting to convert someone from one religion, belief, or opinion to Christianity. Evangelicalism is the embodiment of this practice where recruitment and fund-raising are essential to their Christianity. It is no surprise that the United States has the largest concentration of Evangelicals in the world.

Jesus freaks out in the street
Handing tickets out for God
Turning back she just laughs
The boulevard is not that bad

So it is in this context, that I was raised born-again with a mission- to believe in God through Jesus Christ as the one savior of mankind by actively spreading this vision, and as I would later learn by Evangelists in the 1980's, by any means necessary.

Growing up in Santa Maria, California in the 1950's-60's, we had a lot of gas stations and churches. Most all my friends went to church. We would identify as Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and Catholics as teams in the Christian league, although Baptists are particularly bred to feel they are on the real winning team.

I'm learning to fly, but I ain't got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing

Thank GOD for public schools as the true playground of democracy. At school in Santa Maria, it wasn't the education system that was much to talk about, it was the kids. I met all kinds of kids from all kinds of backgrounds, kids that didn't even go to church and some of their parents even drank alcohol. Kids that had more or less money than my parents, mean kids, nice kids, funny kids, and kids who believed in God differently than me.

In sixth grade, I met my first Jewish person, Rochelle Rosenblatt who was smart and sat right in front of me in our rows of desks. Kind of ironic, I'm learning in Sunday School about the Jews fleeing Egypt, God parting the Red Sea for their escape while not learning a thing about Judaism.

In my reflection of my religious upbringing, public school allowed me to accept other children and their differences with a wider lens, while at church I learned to view people and the world as a peep hole from someone else's front door.

If I told you what it takes
To reach the highest high
You'd laugh and say 'nothing's that simple'
But you've been told many times before
Messiahs pointed to the door
And no one had the guts to leave the temple!
I'm free
I'm free
And freedom tastes of reality

I don't know exactly or cognitively when it happened, but it was in my junior and senior year in high school that I began to question my religious beliefs and started to form opinions, for example, the "meek would in fact NOT inherit the earth." As you mature in living in the real world, the Bible becomes a kind of a Marvel comic book with fantastic stories of the earth being created in seven days, talking snakes, Jonah being swallowed by a whale, trumpets blowing down the walls of Jericho, boys being thrown into a blazing furnace and they are fine... it goes on and on, in the name of miracles of faith. But as one learns in the journey of life, facts and evidence matter and beliefs and faith do not trump facts and evidence. 

After high school and into college, I realized that my biblical and religious upbringing was a farce. Nobody could prove to me that God existed or didn't exist. I made a rational choice- to believe in me.

I also want to make this very clear, my parents are wonderful people, who loved their children very much and I have nothing but gratitude and respect for the life they gave me.

I have many Christians friends who were raised in the teachings of the Bible and culture of church. These friends feel my experience although typical was a rather narrow view of Jesus Christ and how one can live their life as a Christian. I take comfort that many Christians today believe:
  • all people are equal with human rights;
  • women have the right to their own bodies, and the choices they make;
  • gay people are not going to burn in hell.
I also take comfort that people from other faiths believe the same points above, as well as most atheists. It just comes down to dogma - "a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true." (Google)

Whenever any person joins an organization that follows a zealous belief system, WATCH OUT, because the organization could give a crap about you as an individual, it's the DOCTRINE that matters. 

So I had lost my religion, but NOT my spirituality, morality and ethics. My spiritual compass continues to point to the actions of Christians and non-Christians alike and how they live a purposeful life and treat others with respect. It is in this collective humanity that has shaped me as I have tried to shape this humanism with my own children and now grandchildren.

Has anybody here seen my old friend Bobby,
Can you tell me where he's gone?
I thought I saw him walkin' up over the hill
With Abraham, Martin and John.

So, that brings me back round to the 8 year old boy in church and the Kennedy assassination. I'll try to do this succinctly, but hopefully you'll see how my political maturation (but I'm not the only one) ran directly head-on into the Evangelical wall of practice.
  1. Lyndon Johnson becomes President and passes the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1968, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
  2. Those events, turn the southern states to Republican (Red States) that continues to this day.
  3. Southern and Bible belt evangelicals become more political through the 1968 election of Richard Nixon who campaigns on representing the "Silent Majority."
  4. Jimmy Carter is elected President in 1976 and by all accounts is the most devout Evangelical Christian ever to hold the office, but hated, yes hated by many Evangelicals.
  5. Ronald Reagan defeats Carter in 1980, with great support from Baptist minister Jerry Falwell's "Moral Majority" movement.
  6. From the 1980's to the present, Evangelicals are a political force joining an informal coalition of the Christian Right or Religious Right.
  7. "The Christian Right is notable today for advancing socially conservative positions on issues including school prayer, intelligent design, embryonic stem cell research, homosexuality, contraception, abortion and pornography." (Wikipedia)
Don't stop thinking about tomorrow
Don't stop, it'll soon be here
It'll be here better than before
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone

Also, let me quickly bring up, "What about Bill Clinton?" as all conservatives do, before I move into Evangelicals being in bed with Donald Trump. America during Bill Clinton's watch had great prosperity during his Presidency. However, the douchebag had several affairs with women, and WHILE in the office of the Presidency, let an intern give him a blow job several times. That was obviously wrong on many levels, but he got away with it.

In today's political climate of #MeToo, Bill Clinton would have been made to resign by the Democratic Party. Kristen Gillibrand, the Democratic Senator from New York, did this almost alone with Al Franken last year. Anyway, it was my opinion then and now, that Bill Clinton should have resigned his Presidency on this issue alone. (footnote 1- If your playing my version of It's a Wonderful Life, Clinton resigns, Al Gore becomes President, gets re-elected, and NO IRAQ WAR.)

One of my pet peeves over the year is having to listen to Evangelical leaders defend many TV ministers and conservative politicians for their affairs with women, or their sexual assaults against women. Okay, "What about, fill in the blank here." Yes, douchebags come in all political stripes.

My point is that Evangelicals were once the 'draw the line in the sand' hardliners for morality in America. Today, Evangelicals demean themselves when a person from their tribe is exposed for their sexual affairs, but say, "He deserves forgiveness as Jesus would have done." C'mon, I was once on your team, you can't kid a kidder, evangelicals can't have it both ways and all Christians know in their heart of hearts that this is hypocrisy of the highest order.

The word hypocrite is rooted in the Greek word hypokrites, which means “stage actor, pretender, dissembler.” So think of a hypocrite as a person who pretends to be a certain way, but really acts and believes the total opposite. Hypocrites usually talk a big talk but fail to follow their own rules. (

I grew up hearing the word, "hypocrite" as it was sometimes associated with Christians. When I was young and a good 'sheep' for the cause, "hypocrite" was like the worst thing you could call a Christian, probably still is.

In my lifetime, this is no doubt the all-time moral and ethical decay of our nation's leadership with Donald Trump as our President.  So the word 'hypocrite' is probably the best word to describe the Evangelicals who have sold their souls to defend this President to advance their own religious policies over their deep moral convictions.

Like most Americans, I have tried to remain calm throughout the first year of Trump in office. I've recently stopped using and reading Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for political 'tweets' and receiving news, and now only keep those social media accounts for promoting my consulting business and this blog. I try to remain open-minded with the knowledge that a local and national free press will continue to help inform me.

Now when we examine the personal and professional life of Donald Trump, it is a life consistent with tactics for-
  • racism, specifically race baiting;  
  • misogyny through verbal attacks, and actions by reducing women to objects; 
  • creating conspiracy theories about our Government, specifically the FBI and our National Security Departments to deflect his actions and interests;
  • and, promoting the idea that being a bully and asshole is actually a male attribute.
So everyday is a shit show @ The Whitehouse and one tries to remain calm...

Then, of the endless incoming stories, comes the news of the porn star, Stormy Daniels having an affair with Trump who's lawyer pays her off with $130,000 to remain quiet before the election. Evangelical Tony Perkins, President of the conservative Family Research Council comes out with the statement that Trump deserves a 'Mulligan' on this one.

A mulligan is a second chance to perform an action, usually after the first chance went wrong through bad luck or a blunder. Its best-known meaning is in golf, whereby a player is informally allowed to replay a stroke, even though this is against the formal rules of golf. The term has also been applied to other sports and games, and to other fields generally. (Wikipedia)

Now for all the things Trump has done (and is probably doing this moment), I just 'lost my shit' when I hear Tony Perkins as a representative for Christian Evangelicals say that Trump deserves a "pass," and "second chance." C'mon Tony, Trump's whole life is a mulligan. This is the very type of manipulative word play that originally caused me to 'lose my religion' in the first place because of the behavior of these so-called Evangelical leaders.

So it's within this current context that R.E.M.'s 1991 song, Losing My Religion from their album, Out of Time comes to my mind. This song has long been a favorite of mine as I (like with so many songs) have interpreted the lyrics and music into my own experience. Here's the interesting thing from the 'mulligan' comment, I go to do a little web searching about how the band came to write Losing My Religion and discover the song's title is taken from the band's southern roots in Georgia as a regional expression "that means losing one's temper or civility, or 'being at the end of one's rope.'" (Wikipedia)

The title is a Southern expression meaning "At my wit's end," as if things were going so bad you could lose your faith in God. If you were "Losing your religion" over a person, It could also mean losing faith in that person. (Song Facts)

I start laughing out loud when I read this, I've just 'lost my shit' over these stupid Evangelicals defending Trump again, and now I have the perfect double-meaning southern expression, 'losing my religion' to express my frustration toward the tribe whom have lost their WAY, not to mention their minds. In my dream of dreams, I hear my late Grandma Mary, a devout Christian say in her Arkansas/Texas accent, "Y'all a bunch a hypocrites!"

Book by conservative radio host Charlie Sykes

America has simply turned upside down-
  • hater Evangelicals defend situational immorality, time and time again;
  • "thoughts and prayers" is the standard response for mass shootings with semi-automatic guns;
  • conservatives are now the ones who believe conspiracy theories;
  • The FBI and Intelligence community are the enemy, and the Russians are not;
  • mainstream media news is fake;
  • the establishment is corrupt;
  • and to immigrants, America love it, but please leave it.
You would think that conservatives have gone through some twisted 'Manchurian Candidate" brainwashing. 

Well if the Evangelicals with Donald Trump and pious co-pilot Mike Pence are going down this road, maybe it's time for the rest of us to be, The New and Approved 21st Century Moral Majority. A majority of Americans,  Republicans and Democrats who are good people with a moral compass with the ability to listen to different points of view and work together to solve tough problems.

Additional Footnotes
(footnote 2)- I'm searching the web, trying to find a black and white or even color photograph of my old Grace Baptist Church. I can't find anything, like they picked up, moved to a better neighborhood, and scrubbed their past history from the Internet. So, I'm thinking the building must still be there, I heard that it became a Hispanic Christian Church from someone, so I decided to do a Google Map Search...

Ironic isn't it?

(footnote 3)- As a former church goer, I have a "you're a sucker if..." story.

As a young person maybe 13 years old, I used to sit in the church pew looking straight at the pastor, my head slightly tilted with a Mona Lisa smile, for his entire sermon. My father commented to me on several occasions, "Doug, I can't help but admire your attention to the sermon today." Well, that was just a way for a shy kid like me to get a little attention in my environment. I would later call it my, "pious look." Now, think of our Evangelical Vice President and what I call, "The Mike Pensive Look" while he's gazing adoringly at Donald Trump. And if you believe that look... Y'all a bunch of suckers!

Today's playlist is mixed theme of 'losing my religion' songs, news clips and some satirical comedy bits. Enjoy my friends.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Ooh Alexa, you're the winner!

My sister Stephanie calls Amazon Echo's voice, Alexa a "musical savant." I thought this was a perfect description as when you ask Alexa for a specific song and artist, "she/it" comes through most of the time with the correct tune. However, when you ask Alexa a typical search question, "it" typically answers. "sorry I don't know that one." Or, goes off course and even through progressive "dumbed-down" questions doesn't get close to what you want. I've been with groups of friends where we all give a stab at asking Alexa basically a similar version of the same question, but eventually give up and have to do a Google search on one of our phones to get the answer.

So here's some fun videos with Alexa, including in my opinion, the winning commercial from this year's Super Bowl. 

Small Children and Alexa -

Southern Alexa -

 Alexa and old people - 

And finally, the best Super Bowl commercial of 2018 by Amazon itself. The part about country music is laugh out load funny!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Rosanne Cash Duo - Edmonds Center for the Arts, 1/25/17

Rosanne Cash and John Leventhal - Credit Josh Saul

I'm currently up in Edmonds, Washington visiting family and spending a couple of days with my ol' bud Bill DeVoe in Seattle before he takes off for a trip to Mexico with his wife, Marie.

We're getting a good dose of rain which is nothing new up here, but I'm definitely the So Cal "fish out of water" with the rain steadily falling down this past week. Actually it's been fun wearing jeans, a down jacket and my Vibram sole shoes everyday like when it used to rain in winter growing up on the Central Coast in California. I love my shorts and t-shirt lifestyle down in San Diego, but I'm rather enjoying the cold and constant wet along with the nighttime fireplace with the missus. I also love to listen to the rain gutter drip while you lay in bed just before you go to sleep.

Being in the lovely small town of Edmonds is always fun, and this trip we had the pleasure of seeing Rosanne Cash and her husband, John Leventhal at the 700 seat Edmonds Center for the Arts. Both Mary Kit and I throughly enjoyed this venue as the acoustics of the theater was simply fantastic to match Rosanne's beautiful voice and the guitar playing of  John Leventhal.

The boomer-aged audience were so respectful that you could hear a pin drop during every song. It was also nice not to see even one smartphone make an appearance as apparently everyone in Edmonds actually follows directions when the announcement of no photography was given at the beginning of the show. After seeing several stadium and arena shows in 2017, it was refreshing to hear music given the theater treatment and actually listened to by 100% of the audience.  It's safe to say that we're now following the ECA schedule and we'll be back for future performances! (Darn, missed Randy Newman's show at ECA last October!)

Rosanne and John, billed as the Rosanne Cash Duo are currently on tour, that started here in Edmonds and moves on to several more shows in Washington state, back to Carnegie Hall in New York and then up into Canada. (I searched for a current tour setlist, but so far nothing has been posted online as of this date.)

This show is truly an Americana experience as Rosanne's set plays across her musical catalog including her 80's hits now performed with just the Duo's harmony with two acoustic guitars, or mandolin and piano accompaniment from John. At 62, Rosanne's voice is totally intact to present the couple's songwriting together from her most recent albums, 2014's River & the Thread, and 2009's, The List. 
Rosanne is also a wonderful storyteller as she share's her life experiences and sets up each song so well. With The List she tells the story of her famous father giving her at age 18 a handwritten "list" of 100 "American roots music" essential songs. She still has that list as she learned and preformed many of the classics such as 500 Miles throughout her career. I enjoyed hearing about her going on the road right out of high school for two and half years with Johnny, Carl Perkins and the Carter family. On that tour, she learned many of the Carter family's lexicon backstage with Mother Maybelle Carter who played "badass" guitar along with the other Carter family members.

I also enjoyed learning about Rosanne and John's 23 year marriage and their "all getting along" with first husband, Rodney Crowell who is also a fantastic singer-songwriter. Being 62 myself and living a second marriage in a wonderful blended family with my wife Mary Kit and all our combined children and grandchildren, it is nice to hear their story as well. In fact, Rodney has a new song and video that I featured in My Favorite Songs of 2017, from his Close Ties album called, It Ain't Over Yet which features Rosanne Cash and John Paul White that you must listen to and I've included in this week's playlist. Life is that long winding journey filled with hope, regret and redemption that is often best captured in the written lyric with guitar in hand.

Both MK and I were struck by Rosanne's and John's total partnership- married and coupled with their musical careers, it must be quite a dance, and what a fine dance indeed to see in person. I only write about shows that I really like (you know what mom's say about "if you don't have anything nice to say...") well I have a lot of nice things to say here and that comes easy with such great people as Rosanne Cash and John Leventhal live on stage. Enjoy this playlist my friends.

Note- check out Peter Dervin's Photography of the Edmond's concert @

Monday, January 22, 2018

To the Dreamers

As I write this morning, it looks like the U.S. Government is about to be reopened for business. I'm not going to get into the politics of all that but for the past several days I have thought a lot about how immigration continues to make America great. Immigration is America and America is immigration.  When my ancestors came from Scotland, Ireland, England and Germany (to name some of the known McMutt in me) they were not "merit" candidates. If you think of all the millions of people who came to America either by necessity to leave their own country or people of color forcibly taken from their homelands to become slaves here in America, the great majority were not formally educated.

America in its vast melting pot has progressed over the past couple hundred years by steadily moving forward, providing public education to the all the waves of people who came here and continue to come today. As an American, I became the first college graduate from my mother's side of the family, at least in my Grandma Mary's memory. I worked my dream and became a school teacher for 35 years in San Diego.

K-12 education is one of our nation's cornerstones. It is the place where children can begin to dream and to create their own "American Dream." Today, I'm thinking about them, ALL the children in this country going to school, regardless of status. Giving a child options in their young life is the greatest gift you can ever give an individual. Options provide young people the path to realize their dreams and to strive towards that horizon. As adults, let's always strive to make our schools better and a top priority, and the dreamers will take care of our country, like they always have.

Note - Last night I caught the tail end of La La Land on cable. Emma Stone sings, Audition (The fools who dream) and it stirred my thinking. Here's a few quick songs I put together for the dreamer in us all.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Musical Eclairs

“Life doesn't make any sense, and we all pretend it does. Comedy's job is to point out that it doesn't make sense, and that it doesn't make much difference anyway.” ― Eric Idle

This blog explores some truly unique songs through the songwriting lens of comedy. I came up with the title, Musical Eclairs because it's a play on the think-fast of "musical chairs," but also plays into Forrest's, "Life is like a box of chocolates."

The first bite came to me through John Prine's, It's a Big Old Goofy World. Then I started thinking of other song's like- Randy Newman's, Short People, Bobby Bare's, Drop Kick Me Jesus, The Smothers Brothers musical skits, and then, the more serious like Country Joe McDonald's, What Are We Fighting For,? and my song list just started to grow.

Then, the curator (or OCD) in me started to put these songs into this hierarchy, starting with novelty and moving up the chuckle-chain to satire as probably the highest form of musical comedy. Several weeks ago, I saw CNN's The History of Comedy: Episode 7- Making Fun, that dove into the difference between parody and satire and I said to myself, "Hey, I'll explore this from a musical perspective." 

He's my three-part progression.
  1. Novelty Songs - "a comical or nonsensical song, performed principally for its comical effect." Wikipedia

  2. Musical Parody - "involves changing or copying existing (usually well known) musical ideas or lyrics, or copying the particular style of a composer or artist, or even a general style of music. Although the intention of a musical parody may be humour, it is the re-use of music that is the original defining feature." Wikipedia

  3. Sarcastic and Satirical Songs
  • Sarcasm - "a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter gibe or taunt. Sarcasm may employ ambivalence, although sarcasm is not necessarily ironic. Most noticeable in spoken word, sarcasm is mainly distinguished by the inflection with which it is spoken and is largely context-dependent." Wikipedia

  • Satire - "is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government, or society itself into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society." Wikipedia

    In a distinction between sarcasm and satire- think of sarcasm as light beer in a can from your house, and satire as a craft beer from a tavern tap.
Three Examples

1) Novelty Songs
Now I'm going to spare you from people like Ray Stevens (Gitarzan, etc.) who in my opinion is in the plan donut holes bin in the novelty song bakery.

Instead, let's get into some tastier pastry starting in the 1960's with Allan Sherman and his classic Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (A Letter from Camp). What made this song so laugh out load funny was Sherman's comic sense that millions of children (including my siblings and friends), were being shipped off to summer camps all over America by their parents, giving the adults a much needed break from the rug rats. Sherman struck a chord with us all (young and older) with his tales from camp. In listening to this song this past week, I thought back to many of my own camp experiences.

2) Musical Parody
Parody music is so prevalent today in all media that I had to illustrate that point by finding something no more than a week old. I settled on Seth Meyers, Amber Cougar Mellencamp Performs "Sneaky Dianne." Here you'll see the typical intersection between politics, parody and satire played out weekly on television from the daily s#*! show @ 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

3) Sarcastic/Satirical Songs - Also, Wikipedia's Satirical Songs List A-W
I didn't know of Bo Burnham until I started researching for this piece, and boy is this guy funny with a serious wit in his musical satire. I was to feature Randy Newman as the "King" example of satirical music with Warren Zevon a close second, but I've got plenty of their material in this week's playlist to satisfy the cynical in you. In the following video, Bo's bit of today's mainstream country music is hilarious, but also mirrors my real opinion of "Pop Country" as mostly a pile of the same stale donuts. Here, Bo sings and hits his mark with "Country Song (Pandering)."

Now onto the Musical Eclairs playlist. Play a little tune game with yourself. As the song plays, identify it as novelty, parody, satire or a combination. I mixed the playlist up with a good variety of material from the 60's to the present.

So here's to appreciating atypical songwriting like Dan Hicks and his heartfelt, How can I miss you, when you won't go away? Enjoy my friends.

Monday, January 8, 2018


Rain-Paperback Writer US aa sleeve.jpg
About three weeks ago, I noticed that The Beatles have released several new video recordings on their TheBeatlesVevo channel on YouTube, check it out. 

I'm currently working on a new blog that needs a bit more research so thought I would post a little topical song for the folks in Southern California desperate for some rain and in the forecast.

I know with the "bomb cyclone" in the east that people there would welcome "just rain" so here's thinking to some warmer weather ahead for them.

With that in mind, I remembered The Beatles' Rain just being released on YouTube as I noted above.

So here's to some rain, at least in So Cal, but not too much because of the fires and then mudslides. Happy Monday.

Monday, January 1, 2018

My Favorite Songs of 2017

Happy New Year!

Now with that said, let's go back to take a listen to some of the best songs from last year. In putting this post and playlist together, I looked at several top lists from the "Best songs of 2017" on the Internet. Current stars such as Kendrick LamarChris StapletonHarry Styles, and St. Vincent came up, as well as many other artists who I have never heard of before. I'm thinking, with rap, pop and country pop as the main music plays on the airwaves, who's going to dive into my 2017 list of 100 songs? I'm the guy who likes acoustic music, or as some might say, "the old white guy who listens to banjos and mandolins." 

So from the pick of the names above, you'd probably peg me as a Chris Stapleton guy, well no. I know he's a gifted singer-songwriter but he just doesn't have that "it" factor for me– maybe a little too much stereotypical male country voice. Then why do I like Meryl Haggard? Again, maybe it's as simple as just having the magical "it" that draws you to an artist that you can't always explain. Then for things that I can explain, like the sound of the female singing voice as in the perfect harmony of The Secret Sisters that is simply one of the most beautiful things in the world.

I first started the Monday Monday Music blog two years ago on January 5, 2015 as a writing exercise that I designed for myself, to improve my writing in my educational consultant business. Writing this blog has been fun and given me a confidence to keep writing in other areas.  Last summer, I began to research and write most everyday towards the completion of my first book called, Transformation by Design: The Integration of Learning Design, Physical Space Design and Digital Space Design. I believe all my current writings have changed my life from what I was doing just a couple years ago. And in the spirit of a 62 year old upstart, to paraphrase what many accomplished writers have said in one way or another, "I've only written to myself for myself." My music playlists, like my writings here are an extension of my passion for music that I have curated for me, but are also equally fueled with a motivation and great hope that you're reading and listening to both.

The first song on the playlist is Prisoner, by Ryan Adams. I rarely record video at concerts because they look and sound like crap, but I like this one. I was sitting in the fourth row at the Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara on June 1, 2017. The video does look like crap, but my phone magically picked up the sound better than usual. Here's me, becoming a new big fan of Ryan Adams in the moment, not to mention one of the best albums of 2017, Prisoner. The next song from the same album is, To Be Without You and is my favorite song of 2017. I love this album!

Speaking of albums, you can see from the 24 album covers collage that I put together at the top of the post, I'm an album guy. I think it is very important that you at least "skim and scan" an album, and one thing Youtube is very useful for before you purchase. Liam Gallagher's solo debut, As You Were, is a good example. I started skimming it on YouTube, but quickly settled in for a deeper listen and really enjoyed most of the tracks on the album.

The concept of a record album is such a wonderful thing. You may buy an album for a hit song but yet, have a mini collection of the musicians' work at that moment during their time in a recording studio together. If you make the time to listen, there's magic in the deeper cuts as many albums are unique unto themselves from an artist's or band's total catalog. Billy Joel's The Nylon Curtain comes to mind for example. In fact from my list of 100 here, many of the songs represent those cuts so often overlooked in the media.

Here's my Top 10 songs released in 2017 (and hard to cut that down from 100), but these are the songs that give me a special rush (just add Christmas headphones) and get better the more you hear them.
  1. To Be Without You - Ryan Adams, Prisoner
  2. If We Were Vampires - Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, The Nashville Sound
  3. King of a One Horse Town - Dan Auerbach, Waiting on a Song
  4. Helpless - John Mayer, The Search for Everything
  5. Mississippi - The Secret Sisters, You Don't Own Me Anymore
  6. Beach Boys - Weezer, Pacific Daydream
  7. The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness - The National, Sleep Well Beast
  8. Hollywood - Lee Ann Womack, The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone 
  9. Paper Crown - Liam Gallagher, Liam Gallagher
  10. Carry Me - The Secret Sisters, You Don't Own Me Anymore
So I'm hoping you at least you skim and scan this playlist as I've purposely scattered each artist or band's songs around as a linear shuffle (my basic technique for most of my YouTube playlists). Enjoy my friends and here's to listening to new and old music in 2018!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Women of Heart and Mind

50 Amazing Signs from Women’s Marches Across the Globe
As this year of 2017 wraps up in a couple of weeks, I'm going to pick up with a blog I did in January called, Our Democracy and Takin' It To The Streets. The focus was on the March, 21st Women's March across the world. In the time since, it has been quite a year through the total black hole experience of Donald Trump, and the emergence and sustainability of the #MeToo movement. Even with the dark shadow of Trump, women have emerged from behind all shadows and came to triumph and own this year.

As a man, I've become so sick and tired of male politicians, business moguls, actors and news people evoking their daughters into the public dialog either in their own defense of sexual allegations against them, or pontificating on how they are a protector of women. So, as a father of two daughters, two step-daughters and three granddaughters, I say, BULLSHIT. Men in general need to stop being hypocritical about their simultaneous protection and sexual objectification of women, and simply behave and treat ALL women with respect as equals.

My admiration of women runs deep and started young. I remember when I was probably eleven or twelve years old, I had a paper route. At the end of each month, I would go around and collect the money subscriptions door to door. On occasion, somebody would stiff me by moving out without paying me and I would lose my take as the newspaper delivery rules stated that it was my responsibility to make the collection. On one such occasion, a couple moved and didn't pay me. My mother actually tracked this couple down, took me in her car to their new location, walked with me to the door, and demanded payment when a shocked man opened the door. I'll never forgot the man's expression but better yet, my mom's smile to me on the walk back to the car with the cash in my hand.

As a teenager in the 1970's, I started listening to music as a passion. Men dominated rock 'n' roll but I began listening and buying records by women, especially women singer-songwriters. I loved Carol King, Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell to name some of the greats of the day. Their perspective in song, helped shape me. If you were a guy back in the day and were into Joni Mitchell, well that didn't hurt in your conversations with girls, but more importantly, Joni made you think about things a little differently than most male songwriters.

During this month, I've watched three TV streaming shows of significance that actually inspired the writing of this post. I recommend you see all three in the weeks ahead. First on Netflix, Godless, a western that turns the "damsels in distress" thing on it's head. Second on Amazon, Good Girls Revolt, a "Mad Men" from a woman's perspective with three key female leads working at Newsweek magazine in 1969-1970. (As a side note- as you watch the opening credits, you'll see a paperboy on his bike throwing a paper somewhere towards a house. I swear to God that kid looked like/was me.) And third on Amazon, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, a housewife in the 1950s decides to become a stand-up comic. In all three shows, the women are front and center, great writing, acting and must sees for watching in the year of 2017.

In putting the playlist together for this post, I couldn't help but notice the increased level of empowerment by women singers as the decades rolled up to current times. I hope you enjoy my mix of old and newer songs performed by women of heart and mind, and if you're a guy out there, there's wisdom to be mined here toward our respect, work, and gift of women in our lives. And, a final thought, women are going to save this world, just as they have always done.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Merry Christmas Mix, 2017

Update Monday, December 18, 2017
Ok, last call on this blog, I've added a few more songs. Bill, you now have 46 songs and comedy bits for your office building party! The Hope and Music fund is now at $2,105 as of this morning!

Update Monday, December 11, 2017
I got busy over the weekend and upgraded the blog with a new and cleaner look! I also added some new songs and comedy bits to this post that I think you will enjoy. I will continue to add more videos up until Christmas so keep checking back to the playlist. Also, I included my Youtube Christmas mixes from years past to play at your office party or just around the house.

Note - Bob Caligiuri's Hope and Music fund is now at $1,755 as of this morning! Yippee, more music instruments for the children of Aquila, Mexico!

I want to thank the people who read my Monday Monday Music blog this year as many of you continue to give me positive feedback to keep this little blog going (most) every Monday!

Before I get to my Christmas Mix playlist this year, I would like to revisit my blog from two weeks ago, Hope and Music for the Children of Aquila. As of this writing, it is my most successful blog to date with close to 200 hits. More importantly, I'm hoping in a very small way to help my friend Bob Caligiuri reach his goal of creating a youth center filled with musical instruments and music lessons for the children of Aquila, Mexico.

It is my Christmas wish that you visit his GoFundMe page @
Hope & Music for Children of Aquila and pledge a donation of $10 to help Bob get over the $1,000 mark of his goal for $18,600. Bob leaves for his third trip down to Aquila in mid-December through Christmas. Bob's a damn skinny Santa, but every bit will help as he goes down with his fat Santa bag of musical instruments!

Now on to this year's (and third annual) Christmas mix. My current favorite singer-songwriter is Texas born, Kacey Musgraves. I'll be writing a blog on her soon as I continue to discover her song catalogue on Amazon and videos on YouTube. I would love to see her live, so if you all hear anything on a Southern California stop on tour, let me know. Anyway, I somehow missed her Christmas album last year, A Very Kacey Christmas, but this year it's front and center on my 2017 Christmas mix.

I'm sure I'm repeating myself from year one or two about being so damned tired of hearing the same 1940's - 1960's traditional Christmas recordings.  Not that I'm above a new take on a traditional Christmas song (as there's several here) but please a little more variety. My local UPS clerk, Patrick was telling me how the traditional Christmas loop tape in his branch store was sheer torture. I think Bing's White Christmas was playing through the ceiling speakers during my package drop-off, but kind of like having to listen to Hotel California on classic radio, or even John and Yoko's Happy Xmas (War is Over) for the millionth time. (Too soon? and really, Yoko on the chorus, yes my friends and I still haven't gotten over it.)

So here's my latest mix, again heavy in the Americana genre, but that's how I holly jolly roll these days. I wish you all a Merry Merry Christmas (and no Donald, I'm not saying that because of you)!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Covers = to or > than the Original

I started this song "Covers" playlist a couple of weeks ago and plan to add to it, maybe with a little help from my friends. By the way, the Joe Cocker version of the aforementioned Beatles song is fine, but is it really = to or > than the original? Well, no in my opinion. So you may agree or disagree with some of my selections here, but I would like to also hear your suggestions to add to this playlist. But, what if I disagree? Geez Doug, you ask for audience participation and then kind of shut it down, fool. Okay, I will add your suggestion(s) regardless, sound fair?

For example, you might love the Talking Heads, This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody), but Shawn Colvin's cover of that song has a special meaning to me.

I'm also thinking about Gary Clark Jr.'s new cover of Come Together which I like and even have seen him do live at the Forum, but no it doesn't match the original. Maybe I've got a serious Beatles bias going on? Snob you say, okay but I'm sticking with bias.

So I'm walking with my ol' buddy Paul Hobbs on Saturday on our annual walkabout in the Santa Maria Riverbed. We are talking about how we love to talk about songs. Paul's a music goldmine not to mention he walks faster than me. Paul has turned me on to many songs over the years including a couple of covers of Leonard Cohen songs that I really like and have included here.

Hey, I just thought of the Steve Goodman song, City of New Orleans that Arlo Guthrie turned into a big hit that I really like.

So, what's a great cover you like? Drop me a line in the comments section below, or just send me an email to

p.s. Happy 75th Birthday to Jimi Hendrix on November 27, 1942!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Hope and Music for the Children of Aquila

This past week my friend Bob Caligiuri sent me a link to his Go Fund Me fundraiser,  Hope & Music for Children of Aquila. Bob was first made aware of the plight of the indigenous people of Aquila in the State of Michoacán, Mexico through his friend, Juan Mendez. Juan convinced Bob to travel down with him from San Diego to the Aquila region where the local populations had been routinely terrorized in a decades long battle with the drug cartels. From this first trip, their goal became to build a youth center and music program for the children of this region. I was so taken by Bob's and Juan's vision, just two regular guys wanting to make a little part of Mexico a better place for it's children, through music.

Take a look at the video Bob has just made from his second trip in October, and then if you are compelled, donate whatever you want, and here's an idea for my Monday Monday Music readers. You read my music blog because you love music, so what better way to give the gift of music than to share it with a child who doesn't have much. I get on average about 75 hits a week on this 'little blog that could.' I'm going to set a goal of $500 from our Monday Monday Music fans. No pressure, but what the world needs now is kids like Janet (above) with a Fender guitar in their hands.

So what can one working person do? Here's what Bob's doing as he has completed phase 1 of his plan.
Happy Thanksgiving my friends!

Monday, November 13, 2017

A-Changin' History Lesson: Only a Pawn in Their Game

As I so often do, I reflect on things on my dirt trail runs. Last week I'm jogging with my phone and Bob Dylan's, Only a Pawn in Their Game, from his 1964 album, The Times They Are A-Changin' comes on my Amazon Music shuffle. As the song starts to play, I'm thinking I haven't heard this one in years, but now at 62, I'm really listening to this song with a total focus, more clearly than ever before.

Lately, I've been getting into Dylan's early songs as nobody can quite match his songwriting and voice at the height of both. He is so young, and how can he be that wise in his early 20's for God's sake? I know most rock 'n' roll legends "best" works are done in their 20's, but Bobby's in a league of his own.

So, as I'm listening to Only a Pawn in Their Game, P.T. Barnum's (*attributed) line, "There's a sucker born every minute," comes into my head as an updated 21st century version of racism. Dylan's song is about the June 12, 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers by white supremacist, Byron De La Beckwith.  Evers, a World War II veteran and, "an American civil rights activist from Mississippi who worked to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi and enact social justice and voting rights." Beckwith, a pawn born long after the southern slavery economy of the 1700's.

In my mind, I'm thinking, "Charlottesville" (August, 2017) and Only a A Pawn in their Game is not a forgotten civil rights song from the early 60's, but unfortunately, as relevant today with only the transition from the white hoods to some white guys in polo shirts with tiki torches from Home Depot.

Only A Pawn In Their Game
Written by Bob Dylan

A bullet from the back of a bush took Medgar Evers’ blood
A finger fired the trigger to his name
A handle hid out in the dark
A hand set the spark
Two eyes took the aim
Behind a man’s brain
But he can’t be blamed
He’s only a pawn in their game

A South politician preaches to the poor white man
“You got more than the blacks, don’t complain.
You’re better than them, you been born with white skin,” they explain.
And the Negro’s name
Is used it is plain
For the politician’s gain
As he rises to fame
And the poor white remains
On the caboose of the train
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game

The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid
And the marshals and cops get the same
But the poor white man’s used in the hands of them all like a tool
He’s taught in his school
From the start by the rule
That the laws are with him
To protect his white skin
To keep up his hate
So he never thinks straight
’Bout the shape that he’s in
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game

From the poverty shacks, he looks from the cracks to the tracks
And the hoofbeats pound in his brain
And he’s taught how to walk in a pack
Shoot in the back
With his fist in a clinch
To hang and to lynch
To hide ’neath the hood
To kill with no pain
Like a dog on a chain
He ain’t got no name
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game.

Today, Medgar Evers was buried from the bullet he caught
They lowered him down as a king
But when the shadowy sun sets on the one
That fired the gun
He’ll see by his grave
On the stone that remains
Carved next to his name
His epitaph plain:
Only a pawn in their game

Copyright © 1963, 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991, 1992 by Special Rider Music

So back to that line, There's a sucker born every minute. Last night I'm watching the new HBO documentary, Rolling Stone: Stories from the Edge and their piece on pastor Jimmy Swaggart and his prostitution scandals in the 80's. As I'm watching this, I'm also thinking about the current Judge Roy Moore and The unholy excuses of Roy Moores' alliesand the sucker line just kind of writes itself.

On The Times They Are A-Changin' is the song With God On Our Side. "The lyrics address the tendency of nations, tribes, or societies to believe that God will invariably side with them and oppose those with whom they disagree, thus leaving unquestioned the morality of wars fought and atrocities committed by their country." With the latest mass murder of 26 in the small town of Sutherland Springs, Texas from a deranged person with a semi-automatic military-like weapon, many who oppose any gun control say the standard line, "it's too soon to talk about it." Here's Donald Trump on the subject- "We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries, but this isn't a guns situation ... we could go into it but it's a little bit soon to go into it. Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction" or "it would have been much worse." For most Americans, you just want to scream or go out for a long run. I will also include the now pat phrase, "thought and prayers" said as the new standard action response and plan by politicians and pundits to the victims, families and communities of these type of killings, in a 48 hour news cycle. We all understand the sentiment "thoughts and prayers," but followed by what? The song, With God on our Side, brings a new relevance for me as domestic terror acts overwhelmingly perpetrated by white men routinely continue. But remember the magic words, "thoughts and prayers," and thank God we have him on our side as this appears to be the only game plan we're sticking with.

Speaking of P.T. Barnum, comes the current President of the United States and his statement, "Drain the Swamp," for replacing the establishment fat cat politicians with people who would better represent the hard working people of our land. Here's some of Trump's snake oil for -
  • building "The Wall" (with Mexican money), to somehow protect us from Mexicans;
  • taking health care away from millions of lower income people, to somehow protect them, the middle class and fund his tricked-down tax plan;
  • cutting taxes for the very most wealthy and paid by the middle-class, to increase the national deficit, to protect his fat cat friends;
  • denying climate change, to protect the powerful dinosaurs of energy, his friends;
  • Scaring the hell out of most Americans by trying to push the buttons of his man-child counterpart in North Korea, to built his fear game;
  • Siding with the KGB/FSS-backed Russian oligarchs ("[Putin] means it"), to protect his business interests, if not something more incriminating; 
  • calling our 1st Amendment free press, "fake news," to protect himself; and,
  • doing NOTHING along with congress that somehow protects the 93 people killed in America everyday with guns.
This may be our nation's biggest con job of all time, at least in my lifetime. "The Donald" is NOT "The Outsider" elected to clear the temple, but in fact is the establishment fat cat of all fat cats. His cabinet are all establishment fat cats who worship big money over everything else. 62.9 million people voted for Trump in 2016, just sucked right into his "anger" game. He promised the white working-class man to make him first, great again and protect him by perpetrating "fear and divide" as a national platform of backwards change and governance. The GOP's  brilliant "gerrymandered" game board, along with Democrats not voting, elected a 1950's duck-tailed bully. 

In times like this, I just got to go back to the Dylan well one more time for some historical perspective. How will we protect our nation from this Barnum-style flimflam "Swamp Thing" and cabinet? How will a disapproving majority (55.7%) change this around for the positive? VOTE (which I highly recommend you do the old fashioned way, on paper, like an absentee ballot).

With that, I take young Bobby's words in, with a hope for 2018.

The Times They Are A-Changin’
Written by Bob Dylan

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’
© 1963, 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991, 1992 by Special Rider Music

*Note- If you want to read an interesting story of P.T. Barnum and "fake news" in the 1860's, see the Cardiff Giant