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.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Tom Petty's Last Dance?

MK and I are up here in Seattle enjoying our visit with family and seeing our newest grand child, Hampton for the first time. We have been stalking this Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers current (last) tour for awhile now as our initial plans were to go to the Red Rocks show (with guest Joe Walsh) but had to pass on that one. When the August 19th date came out, we jumped on it as we knew we would be up here to see our new bundle of joy as everything seems to be working on a cosmic groove at the moment. Today is the eclipse, so something's lining up for us up in the sky as well as down here in the beautiful pacific northwest.

Here is the setlist from Saturday night as you know this show was going to be heavy with the hits. Other than the electrical power totally cutting out on the entire band for one song, it was a fantastic Seattle evening in August.  MK's daughter, Abby and her husband Spencer joined us for this concert with field level seats by first base. If this had been a Mariner's game, we would have been flipping out with our location, but as the stage has to be in center field, well you've got to love those big screens. The sound was great and Tom and the band after 40 years still have it as this was my first time seeing them live. Not only is Tom's voice still fantastic, The Heartbreakers are one of the best bands of all time and still playing at a level to match their top tier status. The band delivered big time and with Mike Campbell on lead guitar, this was a bucket list event for me. Tom says this is his last tour but his fans are certainly hoping it's not his last dance.

What you have to admire about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is their longevity and across the board appeal with kids, millennials and their old fart parents who were also well represented last night. Hey, other than the smell of pot, it was a family friendly event. Actually, it was very friendly as Tom's songs got three generations of people singing along and I was right there with them. I haven't been to a stadium show in awhile and this was a packed sold out show. Seattle, you were a great crowd and respectful with the crush of humanity on the way out.

So, I leave you with my Tom Petty playlist with mostly concert video from the past and the 2017 tour to start off your Monday. And, if you want to dive deeper into the complete history of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, I highly recommend the 2007 four hour documentary Runnin' Down a Dream on Netflix (viewed over a couple of nights).

Monday, August 07, 2017

1967-1968 and two albums

Fifty years ago in 1967 was the "Summer of Love." During that time, I was about to enter Fesler Jr. High in Santa Maria, California. My next door neighbor, Ron Zieman was one year ahead of me and about to enter the 8th Grade. My family had moved to Tunnell St. when I was in 5th Grade, so by 1967 Ron and I were fast friends. I would have to say, Ron was my first mentor. As both of us wanted to be hippies, Ron actually set course to accomplish this mission by growing his hair a little longer and wearing his Levi's a lot looser. His mother Ruth, would have none of this, but Ron fought the good fight in rocking our conservative christian upbringing in our little but growing farming town, starting with the dress code.

Another pillar to fall our way was music. In both of our houses, we were not allowed to mess with the stereo console in the living room. Ron lead the way with getting a portable record player for his room and by starting a record collection. Anyway, sometime in 1968 Ron came up with the idea for us to join the Columbia Record Club. (The Columbia Records manufacturing facility was actually only several blocks from our house.) As mentioned in an earlier blog, I had only one record at that time, The Beatles Hard Days Night, which I had clipped from my grandfather.  He for some reason had gotten it in his Columbia Record Club subscription as it probably got included with him buying so many records. My grandfather passed away in 1967, and I like to think he was giving Hard Days Night to me in a gracious posthumous gesture.

So I think Ron's scheme was- we join the Record Club and get several free records by just joining, and then, we quit the Club... like nobody ever thought of that before. I don't remember as Ron was the brains of the operation, but I do remember (with his help) the first two records I ever purchased, (or think I purchased) - Buffalo Springfield Again and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced, which were both released in 1967. Fifty years later, I'm looking back to listening to those two records with Ron in his room and I'm thinking, "If you had to pick two records that hold the test of time, these two make the cut."

This past week, I'm on my trail run with my Amazon Music shuffling the songs on my phone and Expecting to Fly comes on. It made me think of what you're reading right now. A couple of nights ago, I'm flipping through the channels on TV and the Showtime documentary, Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church comes on. Electric Church is Jimi's performance at the Atlanta Pop Festival in 1970 with 300,000 people. I've watched this documentary two times already, and you know Jimi never gets old and it's always a good place to come back to. Jimi Hendrix and Buffalo Springfield forever! In 2017, my summer of love includes upcoming concerts with Tom Petty, Eric Clapton and the Eagles. This time around, I get to be part of the crowd, even if it's a hair shade of gray. Happy summer my friends!