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

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 dgmcintosh@gmail.com.

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

Monday, October 23, 2017

New Album Releases - October, 2017

After last week's blog on new album releases from July-September, 2017, I decided to look ahead and see what is coming this month on the Wikipedia 2017 album release list. Minus several groups getting the jump on the Christmas season and Marilyn Manson, I found so many good songs on new albums released in October, and had a list of 35 after a couple of days of search and listen on YouTube. Topping the list are Liam Gallagher's As Your Were and, Weezer's Pacific Daydream.

Liam Gallagher, the lead singer of Oasis has his first solo album out after his breakup with lead songwriter and brother, Noel. Check out the Rolling Stone article, Liam Gallagher's Sweet Revenge. Liam's got a fantastic voice and I just love the songs on this album. You also got to love his working class scowl not to mention his f bomb in almost every spoken sentence in the article.

The song on Pacific Daydream that is playing through my brain this past week is Beach Boys as Rivers Cuomo's affinity for naming artists in his songs continues. I love that "Weezer" is the nickname Rivers' dad gave him as a toddler. In reading his bio, I enjoyed that he worked at Tower Records, as that could simply be anyone's musical education right there. I wish I had worked at the Sports Arena Blvd. store in San Diego when I was in college, miss Tower.  Anyway, Beach Boys has now moved to the top on my playlist for this week.

For an Americana flavor, check out Margo Price's new album All American Made and Lee Ann Womack's The Lonely, the Lonesome & the Gone

Also featured in the playlist are new albums from Pink (with a good range of songs on Beautiful Trauma) Beck, Boyz II Men, Kelly Clarkson, Niall Horan, Robert Plant, and Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile.

I end the playlist with Jason Isbell live with his six night October performances at the Ryman. Here's his tribute to Tom Petty with American Girl.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Tom Petty's Last Interview

I'm up in Leavenworth, Washington for the past several days at a beautiful cabin with MK's family, so haven't had time to write a blog for today. I read this interview in the LA Times last week by Randy Lewis and thought you might enjoy it.

http://lat.ms/2wwyZcz

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Classic Northwest - Eagles 9/30/17 Safeco Field




I'm writing this Sunday morning, Oct. 1 after just seeing the Eagles hours before at Safeco Field in Seattle. The show was called, The Classic Northwest with the Doobie Brothers as the opening act and lived up to the billing. I generally don't write reviews of the concerts I go to, more of an observation than critique. MK and I loved the show with a packed ballpark of fans channeling their inner 1970's. I've been to Safeco now three times (all this year), first seeing a Mariner/Yankee game, Tom Petty and now with the roof over our heads as a light rain fell (if you are from San Diego), but just a little nothing mist for the locals. 

Here is the setlist from last night and I believe the same set the Eagles played at Dodger Stadium recently. If you didn't know, since the death of Glen Frey in 2016, the Eagles have added Glen's 24 year old son, Deacon Frey to the line up along with country legend, Vince Gill. Both Vince and Deacon trade Glen's lead vocals on all the classic hits and I must say, I was blown away by both. For Vince, you would expect only the best, but he is better than that, he has totally immersed himself in team Eagles, and I don't think there is a better pick for the Eagles than Vince Gill's voice, guitar and kindness. The addition of Deacon Frey is not a gimmick, like a live cardboard cutout of Glen on stage. Deacon is the real deal, his singing is solid if not impressive, and you have to admire his ease on stage to fill the shoes of his famous dad. Deacon Frey is not going to allow himself to let anyone down.

In the Seattle Times, Don says this about Deacon, “It’s uncanny," the band’s drummer and an accomplished solo artist. “I feel Glenn’s spirit is very near. I look out from the drums to where Deacon is standing and his hair is exactly the same as his father’s was in 1976. He’s taller, but looking at him from the back there, it’s freaky.”

“It’s extraordinary the way he was able to compose himself,” Henley said. “He decided that rather than living in his father’s shadow, he would pick up the torch and carry it forward. “We are extremely proud of him, and we know his father would be.”

Don Henley gets a lot of credit for making the 2017 band everything as exceptional as the 1970's group. The hallmark of the Eagles is their country rock vocal harmony that made them one of rock 'n' roll's greatest bands. That classic tradition carried on Saturday night. The rest of the core band including,  Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit and Steuart Smith (who plays much of Don Felder's part) were outstanding, not to mention horn, rhythm and orchestral sections. The band had a rich, full sound. I last saw the Eagles on Glen's last tour, History of the Eagles in 2014 in San Diego, and this one matches that fantastic show as one of my all-time favorite concerts.

As for the playlist this week, I wasn't impressed with the distance and quality of the phone videos uploaded to YouTube (so far) from the Saturday show. I'll just leave this compilation of Glen as this wonderful band moves forward without him. Long live the Eagles!

(More photos of The Classic Northwest, here)


Monday, September 25, 2017

A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall



A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall was written and released by Bob Dylan on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan album in May of 1963. At the time, the song represented to many the dawning of a nuclear war apocalypse fresh in the minds of everyone from the October, 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Dylan has said he wrote the song well before the missile scare with the Soviet Union, and stated that in fact, "the lyrics were taken from the initial lines of songs that 'he thought he would never have time to write.'" Wikipedia

The inadvertent timing of the missile crisis and release of the album will always tie the song with images of war. I was reminded of that in recently watching the new Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary on The Vietnam War this past week on PBS. The song is used to open the series in episode one, and aptly titled, Déjà vu . As I watched the episode, I thought about how that song is tied to our 60's soundtrack but still rings timeless today with its many themes that have been interpreted many times over. Déjà vu is appropriate now as simply a lesson of history tending to repeat itself . The song is the perfect anthem for our current world events- the political rhetoric between Donald Trump and Jim Jong-un, the environment and climate change, protests of injustice in the streets and on the football field, the weather and natural disasters to name a few headlines of the past two weeks.

What I take from A Hard Rain's a-Going Fall is, be ready. Be ready to deal with the unfairness in an unfair world. That doesn't mean we stop working to make our world a better place, it means, look at the world with an open mind and be there for others who need you. 

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
Written by: Bob Dylan

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall 

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



*footnote - I've alway loved the cover jacket of Free Wheelin'. It's a picture of Bob with his girlfriend, Suze Rotolo who had just returned from Italy. The picture is genuine. The album has some heavy, deep songs but there they are just walking down a winter street in New York City, happy and in love. That juxtaposition is just one of the reasons why it's one of the greatest albums of all time.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Eric Clapton, Part II - the long run



I start this with a sub-blog that I'll call,
'Legends with Laryngitis' thinking back to October 19, 2016. MK and I had flown into Las Vegas the day before like thousands of other Rolling Stones fans to see "the boys" at the new T-Mobile Arena. As luck would have it, Mick told reporters, "I've got bad laryngitis. I do apologize to everyone who bought tickets." You see, the Stones had just finished their gig at Desert Trip 2016 a.k.a. "Oldchella" where Mr. Jagger first picked up the tickle in the warm desert air. Unfortunately for us, that show was cancelled outright and not to be made up as the Stones were rolling along on their world tour, as I believe Foxborough, Mass. and then Germany were next up at the time.

Then, my birthday present from MK on March 25, 2017 and the Eric Clapton "short" tour at the LA Forum. Eric had just finished a two night engagement at Madison Square Garden and had developed SEVERE BRONCHITIS cancelling the LA shows and rescheduling for this past Wednesday, September 13, 2017. Well now, I'm starting to take this personally.

Next Legend, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, on August 19, 2017. Now third time's the charm as MK and I are crossing our fingers as Tom is on this massive 40th Anniversary Tour and we are praying to Clapton (is god) that the rock 'n' roll heavens can't do this laryngitis/bronchitis thing again to our bucket list plans. Well, the show happens on schedule! Tom and the Heartbreakers were absolutely fantastic and we had a wonderful time. Then a couple of days later I read this on my phone, “As Tom Petty heals from laryngitis and bronchitis, additional changes are required for the remainder of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ Bay Area & Sacramento performances. We share this news with regret, but Tom’s doctor has advised Tom to take additional days off before performing."

What the... we just made that Safco Stadium show in Seattle by the skin of our teeth! Tom did make up those shows, but as Jerry Seinfeld said to Uncle Leo-

Jerry Seinfeld: C'mon, you're lucky to have anybody.

Uncle Leo: Last week you told me I was in my prime, I should be swinging.

Jerry Seinfeld: Swinging? What are you, out of your mind? Look at you, you're disgusting. You're bald, you're paunchy, all kinds of sounds are emanating from your body twenty-four hours a day. If there's a woman that can take your presence for more than ten consecutive seconds, you should hang on to her like grim death. Which is not far off, by the way.

So as of this writing, Mick, Eric and Tom are fine (I'm sure) but their touring days are indeed numbered. But as I write that line, I'm thinking of Mick as the 'energizer bunny' and maybe I still have a shot at the Stones.

And one last thing about laryngitis, or sounding that way. I saw this past week that Bob Dylan's going back out on tour again with his "Never Ending Tour." I miss Bob's voice, maybe a lesson for young singers/musicians not to smoke and mess with the most beautiful instrument you're born with. Smoking is like the lottery. You can be rarely lucky like Eric Clapton (who wonders why he is even still alive). He kept his singing voice while smoking his whole life (not to mention the drugs and alcohol), or you can sound like Joni Mitchell, Stephen Stills and Bob Dylan to name a few of my heroes after a lifetime of smoke. Sorry, the parent in me still sometimes comes out.

Now, let's get back to Eric and that September 13th make up show at the Fabulous Forum that MK and I just saw this past Wednesday.


Here's my smartphone shot as MK and I are seated center back, just up from the floor, thanks love. I'm using this picture to kick off Part II of Eric Clapton and if you missed my last week Monday Monday Music, here is the link to, Eric Clapton, Part I - god and hippy heaven. In Part I, I go into my youth (again?) and Clapton as the quintessential guitar god of my generation notwithstanding Jimi Hendrix, who died 47 years ago today at the young age of 27. Anyway, the show is billed as A Celebration of 50 Years of Music that goes back to Cream in 1967, and I couldn't wait to hear him do Sunshine of your Love as it's part of the setlist, and a little piece of my youth. Sadly, that didn't happen, as he cut it from the encore, but that's ok, I have it on this week's playlist from the Cream 2005 reunion at the Royal Albert Hall.

But, and I say "but" in a good way, Part II of Eric Clapton's story has a lot of acoustic guitar that he features heavily in the middle set of the show. These latest shows are actually a real blessing for the faithful as Eric's recent diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy puts a dark cloud out there. But you would never know, as technically his electric and acoustic playing were sensational and as I said, Eric still has his wonderful singing voice, if only slightly diminished in volume. For me, the highlight was Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out from the 1992 Unplugged sessions. It's a song that speaks to all of us, but for Eric, after his heroin addiction and continued struggles with alcoholism for many years, divorces, and the tragic death of his 4 year old son, Mr. Clapton did indeed live the blues. All of this is covered in the upcoming Showtime documentary, Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars coming out in February, 2018.

I would agree with the NY Times review of the show in March, that the show was 'subdued.' The recent LA Times review is titled, Eric Clapton at the Forum: Was it dullness or was it bliss? I'm going to say both. If you grew up with Clapton, you felt that raw energy right there in the records, the way I feel about the opening act at last Wednesday's show, Gary Clark Jr. Gary just pulls you in with the power of his guitar and voice. This was my second time seeing Gary live, and I wanted more. For Eric, was it a great show? No, but a very good show. This was a performing goodbye and I thank him for the opportunity and bliss. And just remember back as Jack Bruce said at the end of the live Crossroads recording on Wheels of Fire, "Eric Clapton please." In this very long run, please there has been no one like him. Through rock, he became the most influential keeper of the blues for generations across the world through the airwaves and into our beating hearts.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Eric Clapton, Part I - god and hippy heaven


There's possibly nothing that I can write here that you don't already know about Eric Clapton. I'm going to just rely on my memory of those exciting early years between 1967-1974, the period that incompasses my junior and senior high years and the first year of community college for me.

Eric Clapton was born March 30, 1945 and I was born 10 years later (and almost to the day) on March 26, 1955. I bring that up because that is the heart of the baby boomer generation years. For all the rock 'n' roll stars born right after World War II, many got started in the early 1960's and by their early 20's were hitting a magical stride. Eric Clapton's early successes with the Yardbirds and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers set him up for starting Cream in 1966 and then, the release of Disraeli Gears in 1967 with Sunshine of Your Love in the Summer of Love. So, I'm in junior high in 1967 being a wanna be hippie and Eric Clapton is the coolest hippie (with all respect to Jimi Hendrix) on the planet. Notwithstanding Eric's guitar play along with a great singing voice, he had more hair styles and girl friends than anyone. A ten year age difference means nothing now, but the difference between the ages of 12 and 22 are a lifetime where small town adolescent dreams of being part of something bigger got a little squished while being forced to get a haircut and tuck in that shirt.

I'll move ahead to 1969 when Eric formed Blind Faith with Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech. That album was released in August, 1969 and on August 16th, Blind Faith played the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara. On that night, two of my best friends, Ron Zieman and Paul Hobbs were being driven down the 70 miles to Santa Barbara from Santa Maria, CA by Paul's parents. My buddies were about to actually experience "that something bigger" that I was just referring to above. As Paul's parents dropped them off at the gate, I don't think Paul's or Ron's parents had a clue what their kids were about to see and hear. I spoke with Ron yesterday about this concert and he said, that neither Paul or he (and their friend Brian Punches who came with them) had a clue what they were about to experience. I have the audio of the show on my Youtube playlist for this week and the promoter starts by coming to the mic and pleading with crowd to not let any more gate crashers come into the Showgrounds. Ron recalls the evening by saying it was a transforming event for the boys. He remembers a guy with a brown paper bag sprinkling little paper tabs of acid throughout the crowd. The boys did not partake, but I understand brought some home for souvenirs; something you would hide in the bottom of your sock drawer and look at every now and then, just to take you back to those moments. So the air is heavy with pot smoke, people dancing and two girls right behind the boys take their tops off for the whole show. Yes, there is a god and he's on stage!


Back in 1969, I remember Ron telling me much of what he told me yesterday. I was so damn jealous as this wonderful story unfolded, how the band was fantastic and the people, it was... hippy heaven!

I remember camping with my parents on the Kings River around that time. I had just spent a week up at Hume Lake Christian Camp and then was back with my parents and siblings on a Kings River family vacation. There were hippies camping and hiking all around us. I remember walking back to our camp by the river trail and this 20 something hippy with long hair, beard, plaid shirt and backpack comes walking by me and says, in a friendly low voice, "howdy." Something very small, but a cool memory.

Eric then forms Derek and the Dominoes and releases Layla and other Assorted Love Songs in 1970. Bell Bottom Blues is one of my favorite songs and sign of the times. Then also in 1970, his first solo album, Eric Clapton, which has so many good people on it, such a great classic, including Let it Rain.

Then, the four year absence due to his three year heroin addiction. It's here as I'm getting a little older in 1974 and after reading about his addiction and purchasing 461 Ocean Boulevard that I realized this guy is very human, in fact fraught with frailties. I remember listening to this album in my bedroom, thinking this guy's getting back in the saddle again and he's clean and at the beach. But it's a different time, hippy heaven is over, I'm now in college and where have all the protests gone?  Hey, I have a real girlfriend, a car and I like this new Eric Clapton song, Let it Grow.

Fast forward, September 13, 2017 coming this Wednesday to the Fabulous Forum in Los Angeles is Eric Clapton with Jimmie Vaughan and Gary Clark Jr. I'm going and can't wait, and I've been waiting a long time to see this rock god. I'll let you know my thoughts, past and present in my Eric Clapton, Part II blog next week.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Seals and Crofts and the Tree of Oneness



Quick update 9/9/17 - Paul Hobbs my dear friend and a musical mentor to me requests adding Ridin' Thumb and Tin Town from Seals and Crofts 1970 album, Down Home to the Youtube playlist. I would listen to that album with Paul at his house in high school, so Pauly here you go...

I often get inspiration to write a blog after listening to a song by an individual artist or band. Such was the case last week on my trail run with my trusty Amazon Music Phone App set to online shuffle. The song, Year of Sunday by Seals and Crofts came on from their 1971 (and best album) of the same name. As is so often the case on my runs, I reflect about things and my mind was on Charlottesville and the division of hate spreading across our land. The Year of Sunday is a song that comes from Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts practice in the Bahá'í Faith "a religion teaching the essential worth of all religions, and the unity and equality of all people."

Now I'm not a religious person but want to emphasise my own secular humanism and spirit in general has a spirituality that continually directs my inner compass. With that said, it doesn't mean that I can't connect with "religious music" or content, in fact I love many different traditional hymns and especially gospel music as essentially the roots to folk, the blues and on to rock n' roll.

So Year of Sunday comes on and a flood of memories and emotions come rushing over me as I played that album to death in high school, but also the current, and why are we still so divided as a nation over race?
We all live in the Year of Sunday
So many things are in store for us
Oh, what a gift to be born in
Sunday's beautiful light way down here in the dusk

People, return to the tree of oneness
Oh, won't you hurry the presence is there
Down on our knees in the darkness of Sunday
We'll find the answers to all of our prayers

So I'm listening to the lyrics and the line, " People, return to the tree of oneness" washes over me. Those are words to live by and guide me. I'm just one person but take great comfort in John Lennon's line, "but I'm not the only one."

Seals and Crofts carried that spirit with them as they strived forward in their personal lives along with that same passion to bring their music forward and "to make it" in the very tough music business. And boy did they make great music! I love their musicianship with Jimmy Seals on guitars, sax and violin (he was Texas State Fiddle Champion at 9 years old) and, Dash Crofts on mandolin and guitars. The combo of acoustic guitar and mandolin were perfect timing in the golden era of the singer-songwriter (shouldn't it be "songwriter-singer," in that order?). Seals and Crofts were a great band as you have to listen to their deep cuts. Other than the 1973 hit, "Diamond Girl," I really didn't care for all their other hits that I didn't include on my playlist below. In fact in putting together the playlist from basically 1970 - 1978, I could hear how their label, Warner Brothers increasingly overproduced that original acoustic guitar and mandolin sound with orchestration and 70's pop arrangements to sell their records. If you have time, go the Seals and Crofts Wikipedia site to get the backstory including their time with Glen Campbell in the band, The Champs and on their homepage for a recent update.

I found it interesting that there is not a lot video of Seals and Crofts in concert or on TV other than their hits. So this playlist is going to be a listening experience and possibly one where you haven't heard many of these recorded songs that take me back to putting on the vinyl and sitting back for a good listen. And as Ringo would say, "Peace and Love."

Monday, August 28, 2017

Summertime Blues

It's that time of year, summer is getting hotter, you want to put on your shorts and go to the beach, or creek or pool, but instead, you've got to go to schooooool! Not only that, for young people today, the powers that rule their lives have determined that the first day of school is no longer the day after labor day, it's now starts in middle to late August for most!

I'm thinking back to Junior High 1968 when the song, Summertime Blues was a big hit for Blue Cheer on their first album Vincebus Eruptum. That song played all summer and when it was getting closer to the start of school in early September, the dread set in. I would go into a mini depression that the inevitable was about to happen, back to school, again.

So weird that I became a teacher but you know, I still felt that way even as an adult. Of course school is important, but I always felt for the kids on those first days of school. They got their tan and now they're in a new room with a new teacher, some new classmates and maybe a few friendly faces to stare at while the teacher goes over the rules. Back in the day, we all sat in the same desks in rows facing the front, like graves in a cemetery. I know I'm painting a bleak picture here, but those memories are long-term and sadly, still exist today in many classrooms. I do have the great hope that school is becoming a more engaging place as we move forward in the 21st century with a more projects-based approach to learning, like real life.

So in San Diego Unified, today is the first day of school. I'm thinking the best for all the students and teachers and wishing them all the best for their day and year ahead.

I got this song stuck in my head flying back from Seattle yesterday, it's a memory of the summer of 1968 and going back to Fesler Jr. High.