Monday, December 26, 2022

My Favorite Songs of 2022

This is my last blog post of 2022 and I'm happy to say I will be back next year with a new music post every Monday morning if the fates and YouTube allow. In fact, I'm on a bit of a streak. For the last two years, I've posted a blog every Monday! Take a look at my Blog Archive on the right sidebar here and you will see I've been pretty steady since 2019 at getting a blog post out for almost all 52 weeks.

In January 2023, I start a new monthly series, 60 Years of Music • (Month), 1963. I discovered in my use of Wikipedia that in 1963 rock 'n' roll and folk music were growing so fast that Wikipedia starts to curate new album releases on a monthly basis. I'll be using 1963 in Music as my guide to return to my childhood at eight years of age, and maybe just a few years up or down from your age at that time, or if you're much younger and like the vibe here. I'm excited to chronicle the 1960's in music and bridge my blog posts and series leading up to 1963. 

In the right sidebar, you will also see my Under The Influence series that covers songs from 1949-1962. 

I'll still cover Fifty Years of Music on a monthly basis continuing with January, 1973 and leading up to my graduation from high school that year.

And still, I will cover #NewMusicMonday every month where I attempt to capture new rock 'n' roll and Americana (Folk) albums, song, covers, and YouTube videos.

So just like last week where I poured over all my monthly Fifty Years of Music from 1972 and presented My Favorite Songs of 1972, I've done the same right here for all my #NewMusicMonday(s) in 2022.

I've also taken a look at some other music magazines 'Best of 2022' in music and I must say, my 2022 playlist is just as worthy. If you like folk-Americana-indie and some good ol' rock 'n' roll here's a playlist to take you through the end of the year.

Enjoy my friends! Happy New Year and catch a whole new year of Monday Monday Music posts, starting January 2nd.

I'm keeping the streak alive, look out Cal Ripken Jr....

Monday, December 19, 2022

My Favorite Songs of 1972

 The Class of 1972 is a special group of people to me. I was a year younger and it seemed miles behind from the grade just in front of me. From my first neighborhood chums on West Sunset Street, my first girlfriend, and then the best life-long friends a fellow could ever have, mostly born in 1953-1954. 

I remember being a lowly 7th grader at Fesler Junior High School, the 8th graders were so much cooler, the girls cuter. My next door neighbor was in 8th grade and before I knew it, I was hanging out with his pals.

In high school, the class of 72 was way cooler than my class of 73. I quit their redneck football and baseball after my freshman year and started hanging with the longer-haired sophomores. When they all graduated in the summer of 72, I missed seeing them my senior year around campus. 

After school we would connect and continue our now religious practice of listening to music together. The mantra of "Drugs, Sex and Rock 'n' Roll" was a bit out of my league at that time. Well, one out of three ain't bad.

Here's a bunch (191) of my favorite songs from 1972 from even cooler people born in the 1940's singing to us younger wannabees born in the 1950's.

Hail Hail 1972!

Monday, December 12, 2022

Christine McVie Tribute

 I love Christine McVie.

Most people only know of Christine McVie from the most famous years of Fleetwood Mac with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham starting in 1975 and through the 80's. 

Before the mega-rock-star years, Christine Perfect had burst onto the music scene in 1967 joining the British Blues band, Chicken Shack. As fortune would have it, another British Blues band called Fleetwood Mac often played the same gigs as Chicken Shack. In time, Perfect started playing with Fleetwood Mac as a contract session player in 1968. 

That all changed in 1970 when Christine married bass player John McVie and joined Fleetwood Mac full-time that same year. 

As a side note- The founder of Fleetwood Mac was guitarist Peter Green. Green named the band Fleetwood Mac after drummer Mick Fleetwood and bass player John McVie by simply combining their two names together. In the annals of rock and roll history, I find this to be one of the most generous offerings ever by a leader of a rock 'n' roll band. Sadly, Peter Green would leave Fleetwood Mac in 1970 with a steady decline in his mental health.

I became a fan of Fleetwood Mac in 1971 with the arrival of their 5th album, Future Games. The album includes several songs written by Christine, but the one that kind of got me attracted to her as a singer-songwriter is Show Me A Smile. The song's indicative of what would become McVie's writing style of tight pop classics always surrounded by the wonderful guitar playing of Danny Kirwan, Bob Welch, and later of course with Lindsey Buckingham.

In 1972, Fleetwood Mac released, Bare Trees one of my all-time favorite albums, the cover is even exquisite. Christine would contribute Homeward Bound, basically her dislike of touring, and the song that send me over the moon with my love for this woman, Spare Me A Little Of Your Love. Such a wonderful song that I never get tired of listening to, a complete gem by the band. Christine's voice is so understated and evenly beautiful and I became a big fan of her and the band. To have this woman in your band would be like having Lou Gehrig in your baseball lineup. Christine McVie simply took a 60's British Blues band to another level, a more popular level. 

The enduring thing I want to say about Christine McVie is her great ability to be a team player. In 1975, how many lead women would openly accept another beautiful woman and the dynamo of Stevie Nicks in their band? I would say, not many. Christine's openness to accept Stevie and let her fly in Fleetwood Mac is just another reason to love Christine McVie. 

Christine McVie stayed with Fleetwood Mac through thick and thin from 1968-1998. She then took a 15 year retirement and came back rested and strong in 2013 for even more band drama. Now that's rock 'n' roll stamina and a testament to my unwavering admiration for the greatest generation of musicians born in the 1940's.

In August of 1975, I saw Fleetwood Mac for the first time with my girlfriend, Mary Kit Smith and what would be a lifelong friendship with dorm mate, Mark Hunter.  It was their first tour of the NEW Fleetwood Mac with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Mick Fleetwood needed a new guitarist and wanted Buckingham alone. Lindsey insisted that his girlfriend Stevie join the band or he wouldn't. Fleetwood Mac played at the old Balboa Stadium in San Diego. They played songs from their newly released, self-titled album, Fleetwood Mac (almost like telling the public it was their first album). That album would be the soundtrack of my 1975-76 dorm year at San Diego State. At Balboa Stadium, on a clear summer day, Christine McVie and her band were making history and I will never forget seeing her singing at her station at the electric keyboard.

Mary Kit and I saw Fleetwood Mac several more times over the years and on December 8, 2018 we saw them for the last time with Mike Campbell and Neil Finn in the band. That was a great show with the band still rolling after all the their changes. I end the playlist with a fan's video in Pittsburgh on that same tour with Chris and Stevie closing the show with a duet of a Christine McVie song, All Over Again.

The playlist is mostly a chronological order starting with Christine in Chicken Shack, her first solo album in 1970, and then through her songs in Fleetwood Mac. In the end, I added a few solo album hits, and her wonderful 2017 duo album with Lindsey Buckingham including, and not to ever forget, the rock solid percussion section of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie always driving the band. 

Enjoy this selection of this truly gifted woman's songs to the world, as I'm sure, you love her too.
Rest in peace Chris.

Monday, December 05, 2022

Christmas Mix 2022

 Christmas Mix
2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2021 • 2022

[Verse 5]
At the still point of destruction
At the center of the fury
All the angels, all the devils
All around us, can't you see?

There is a deeper wave than this
Rising in the land
There is a deeper wave than this
Nothing will withstand

I said, love is the seventh wave
I said, love is the seventh wave
I said, love is the seventh wave

Love is the Seventh Wave, Sting

I've always had an affinity for Sting's positive view of the world in Love is the Seventh Wave, and since Santa is love, I'd thought I'd sync these two big ideas for the 8th annual Christmas Mix Playlist!

Christmas rests at the end of the year for good reason. Coupled with Halloween's fun in October, Thanksgiving's reflections in November, Christmas is a celebration of comfort and joy. It is also a celebration of overcoming adversity. You've toiled all year, time to kick back, eat, drink and spend some more cash on the people you love. 

The three holidays like the three wise men have their own built-in economy. Many small businesses survive in the red and then, the last quarter gets them back in the black to turn the corner and start a new year, just to do it all over again.

Christmas is a time for dreaming. Christmas is also a time for big thinking and coming together.

I was thinking about hate the other day and where it come from? I then thought about Atticus Finch, the lead character from, To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus was a big thinker in a small town. 

Prejudice comes from everywhere and touches everyone. But, we often stereotype prejudice coming from small minds in small towns. Not that everybody from a small town is a bumpkin, but small places often can be a safe nesting place for small/closed-minded thinking. I grew up in a small town. 

My parents were wonderful people who gave me a wonderful childhood and took care of me. I couldn't ask for more. But growing up, I often felt small, not encouraged to dream big, to think big. "Doug, play it safe, don't attract attention to yourself." I was never told those exact words, but I felt them. 

Christmas can be a two-edged sword, a time for hope or a time of loneliness. But more than anything, Christmas allows all of us to think a little more outside of ourselves. It's the time of year for "Peace on earth, goodwill to men." Charities also survive to live another year, thanks to Christmas.

You can believe anything you want religiously, spiritually or materialistically or even, believe that you don't believe. But make no mistake, most all of us all believe in the positivity of Santa. Santa is love. He may have evolved from a Christian holiday, co-opted from a pagan holiday, but I've come to embrace Santa as the saint of big thinking. He has a large job to fulfill every year with lots of helpers. Santa is inclusive, he's secular with no hidden agenda. Santa can be for anyone from any religion, he's just there to make the world a happier place by giving.

This Christmas has me thinking about all the small-thinking politicians and pundits in the media, spreading hate and encouraging and influencing our citizens to think-small

Even Santa Larry pictured here gets his share of hate online these days but in his ever positive spirit, says it's a small number, but for those haters out there, "They might be getting coal in their stockings this year." 

So, let's go back to the top, with Santa riding the big wave. I love this picture because if Santa can hop on a sled of reindeer and ride across the sky to every little boy and girl's house on Christmas Eve, he surely can be a big-wave rider too! 

So this next year, be a Santa surfer, be nice and be patient. Any surfer will tell you, when a set of waves roll in, don't go for the first or second wave. Push up on your board (or Boogie Board) to see what's ahead, then paddle hard through or over the smaller waves because there's a bigger ride coming your way. Turn yourself around, get ready, paddle hard and catch that sucker.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, November 28, 2022

Fifty Years of Music • November, 1972

Monster month. That was my first thought as I scanned November, 1972 in Music in Wikipedia. No wonder why I'm writing this blog, I just can't believe the riches in music during that period. Listening to this collection of albums these past couple of days is a flood of emotion, nothing specific but an overwhelming sense of pure joy and happiness. I continue to marvel at the wonderful collection of artists born right after WWII. 

At seventeen, this music touched my soul. Whether it be in a car on the radio or purchasing one of these albums for around $3 dollars and change and coming home to listen to these vinyl gems in my bedroom.

On this Sunday morning, I see 90 songs in my playlist with nothing organized yet as I plot my purposeful randomness of curating a playlist. I have a quick thought about playing all the artists songs/albums in chronological order, some are whole albums. Then I think, but that would not be a Monday Monday Music Playlist. 

Note- I did make an exception here, Side Two of James Taylor's One Man Dog was left in place and ends the playlist this week. It would be kind of blasphemous to break it up, same as with the original inspiration of Side Two of Abbey Road.

So here's my shuffle- like a librarian already late for a date walking quickly and holding a neat stack of organized historical papers. Suddenly the librarian trips over his own feet falling as the papers scatter in the air softly landing all mixed up together on the floor. The librarian, thankful that nobody has seen the fall scrambles on his hands and knees quickly picking up the papers now sorted in a new stack by fate and a deadline. The librarian puts the papers on a shelf called, 'Historical Public Records' and heads off with no one seeing the haphazard accident and being none the wiser. Later, an older gentleman strolls into the library, somehow attracted to the title, Historical Public Records, sees the stack of ruffled papers and takes them over to a sofa chair in the corner of the library for a nice afternoon read.

Enjoy my friends!

Monday, November 21, 2022

Thanksgiving Leftovers

As we approach the end of 2022, Thanksgiving is that perfectly situated holiday to begin the reflection period of looking back at the year, the ups and downs, but with our baked-in tradition as a nation for focusing on the positive. 

I have so much to be thankful for this year, but being true to my nature, feel uncomfortable to share them in a blog post. 

A couple of weeks ago, I remembered that I had created a 2018 blog and playlist for Thanksgiving and thought I'd pull that post and playlist out to take a listen. The blog talks about hearing the Don Henley song, My Thanksgiving. As I recall, I looked to find the song on YouTube for my Thanksgiving playlist and true to my anticipated misgivings of NOT finding Don Henley songs on YouTube, it wasn't there.

I've got great expectations
I've got family and friends
I've got satisfying work
I've got a back that bends
For every breath, for every day of living
This is my Thanksgiving

My Thanksgiving, Don Henley

Being a hopeful fan, I again searched for Mr. Henley's wonderful song this year, and same result, nada.
But, I did find a smartphone cover of the song as a silver lining by a guy named Tom G. Tom does a nice interpretation with just him and his acoustic guitar. He's got the same IKEA bookcase shelf as me in the background with several of the same rock 'n' roll biographies as me too, hey this guy's alright! 

It's Sunday morning with my Monday Monday morning deadline. Not a lot in the tank as work is taking over at the moment. I did wake up with WKRP's Les Nessman on my mind and the famous Turkeys Away 1978 episode. I found that funny clip (love YouTube) and a few other gems to make a leftover turkey-cranberry sandwich several days removed from Thursday. 

Mr. Carlson: (As he walks in at the end of the episode and announces to the WKRP staff)
"As God as my witness... I thought turkeys could fly."

Happy Thanksgiving my friends!

Monday, November 14, 2022

#BestSongIHeardToday • Volume 17

Oh, the hours we'd spent inside the Coliseum
Dodging lions and wasting time
Oh, those mighty kings of the jungle, I could hardly stand to see 'em
Yes, it sure has been a long, hard drive

Train wheels are running through the back of my memory
When I ran on the hilltop following a pack of wild geese
Someday everything is gonna sound like a rhapsody
When I paint my masterpiece

from When I Paint My Masterpiece, Bob Dylan

I'm currently working on something for work that might be something special, at least for me. I've worked in education as a teacher since 1979, and now in the education market since 2014 as a learning environment designer. There have been lots of ups and downs like with any job, but one can often sense when something big in their world is about to happen. 

It's a great feeling creating something new. It depends on you and the people around you. Like the song says, I've been in the lion's den, but I've also had wonderful periods working with people who love to collaborate and work together as a team. Right now, I'm with the latter group. 

Some people may wonder, why am I still doing this? Well, I keep on tryin'... to paint my masterpiece.

Monday, November 07, 2022

The Midterms Playlist


The above political cartoon was published on March 29, 2017 in The New Yorker when Donald Trump was President. But, and a BIG BUTT it is, he is still the center of the Republican universe and thus, the #1 topic in our political midterm season. 

I will now make a prediction. In fifty years from now and beyond, Donald Trump will still be a central subject theme in print, TV and movies that will only be matched by World War II in the sheer volume of material. If it's not hard to imagine a new movie coming out about WWII, just picture the same for The Man Who Would Be King that your grandchildren will ponder, why is Trump still a thing? After writing that last sentence, I'm sure hoping they are NOT pondering about Trump... because 50 years from now, if there's a confederate-like statue of him in every American city... America is...

So it's going to be close. Historically, most midterm elections favor the opposing party of the current President. Trump's influence in a divided nation works both for and against him. However, combine Trump's clown car with the ongoing brilliance for Republicans to mobilize their money and base to raise my anxiety level in races too close to call. With the proverbial 4 point margin of error in polling, I'm increasingly afraid for the authoritarian wave that continues to build. Meanwhile, will the sleeping giants of young people and suburban women bring it home for the Dems? Like I said, I'm afraid.

Remember, this blog is my personal opinion. I'm a liberal Democrat in my heart and a mindful centrist Democrat when it comes to voting. Fifty years ago (at 17), I witnessed the folly of Democrats putting up too liberal of a candidate in 1972, and then years and years of weak candidates running against equally weak Republicans, only to lose. If there's hope for Democrats it's putting up moderate candidates like Tim Ryan in Red State Ohio. If Tim Ryan wins, that's a working person's recipe for success against Trump Fascism.

So keep in mind, if a candidate EVER calls themselves a "Democratic Socialist," they're at best only going to win locally in a district, maybe regionally in a small left learning State. In a Presidential election, forget about it. To paraphrase a famous Beatle, But if you go carrying pictures of Bernie or AOC, you ain't going to make it with anybody anyhow.

Since 2020, I would never engage with a Trump follower, the cult of personality is just too far gone to discuss policy and issues with these folks. At this point, it's just a waiting game of attrition. However, I do follow former Republicans in the media. I listen to their point of view to try to find common ground in what makes us all Americans. What has emerged from all the talking points from both the left, center and right is that there is "potential" for one big issue to eventually bring us together. 

If there is ever to be a post-apocalyptic Trump politic, we as Americans need to look no further than our national infrastructure to bring us together. Infrastructure is literally connected to all the hot topic issues of the day including, but not limited to: the economy, energy, climate change, national security, transportation, and democracy itself.

As a nation, we are slowly structurally falling apart. It's a simple fact, we've needed a national plan and strategy for our local, state and national infrastructure for several decades now. 

How about as Americans, we take the sad song know as our electrical grid and make it better. Let's just start by doing that one thing together and make our national electrical grid work for the 21st century as we approach the quarter century mark.  Please, can we start and do one thing together as Americans like we used to? No wonder we keep making WWII movies. BTW have you seen the movie Greyhound with Tom Hanks on Apple TV+? Great movie.

Well here's a little midterm election playlist mix of everything- hope, despair and in the end, keeping your own sanity. Still.

Note- In the playlist, I've included the 1989 song, We Didn't Start The Fire by Billy Joel. I heard this song the other day and reflected about Joel's (who had turned 40 at the time) chorus - 

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning, since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No, we didn't light it, but we tried to fight it

As a boomer, Joel's looking back to his childhood in the 50's and then, counter-culture youth in the 60's. What has always got me about that song is what did "my generation" do in the 70's and 80's to carry that movement forward, to fight it... not much.

So here we are in the 2020's, and I got a revision chorus that speaks to my generation.

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning, since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
but, we fanned the flames, too selfish to stop it

Billy Joel is 73 to Donald Trump's 76. Two early boomers with very different career paths.

Boomers, we fanned the flames... Time to stop the Boomer Trump now.

Happy Midterms my friends.


Monday, October 31, 2022

Halloween Playlist

The thought of doing a Halloween Playlist never occurred to me until I realized a couple of weeks ago that Halloween actually falls on a Monday (today). Better get on that...

Funny how halloween became hijacked first by young Boomer adults in the 70's. in january 1980, i started teaching at a school for students with severe disabilities and met a teacher there who i'll call here, ms. outthere. 

ms. Outthere was the first person i knew who started dressing up for halloween during the first week of october. 

Now Ms. outthere was maybe 5-10 years older than me so she was a front end boomer where i kind of picked up at the middle to later half of kids born after 1945. so ms. outthere probably was a budding mod go-go girl in jr. high, then in the late 60's a full fledged hippie, not a flower-type hippie, more of a party-type if you get my drift. 

in 1980, I remember ms. outthere at halloween as a combination of bette midler's characters from the rose  and Hocus pocusthis major party gal took halloween seriously and made it her own national holiday and married it with something like Brazil's carnaval.

So Ms. outthere was a true pioneer in taking children's halloween to a whole different adult level, maybe even johnny depp's role model (and you thought that was keith richards). 

Happy Halloween Ms. Outthere, wherever you are.

Now the playlist this week is a mixed bag (bad joke) from one hit wonder ray parker jr. to...Boo Radley, everyone's favorite hero.

Happy Halloween to all the moms and dads, oh and their children too!

And a bonus treat playlist too! The Beatles 2022
(63 tracks remix) of Revolver

Monday, October 24, 2022

#NewMusicMonday • October, 2022

Americanaas defined by the Americana Music Association (AMA), is contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues, resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw. While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band.

That use of a full electric band is basically taking the above definition of what is called "roots" music and literally plugging that into the amalgamation know as "rock 'n' roll."

Most of the playlist this month just fell into albums that lean towards folk with a funky bend to it. There, yet another blended-genre is formed, "Funky-Folk."

Enjoy the 80 song playlist including a few cuts from The Beatles new deluxe box set release of Revolver on October 28th!

Monday, October 17, 2022

Joni Mitchell Covers • Volume I

The Covers Series: 

Interpretation and the "Traditional Folk Song" • The Singer as Interpreter 
Singer-Songwriters Covering Singer-Songwriters • Beatles Covers (Vol. I)
Bob Dylan Covers (Vol. I) • Joni Mitchell Covers (Vol. I)

Photo Source - The Times

I remember that time you told me
You said, "Love is touching souls"
Surely you touched mine
'Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time

Joni Mitchell is special to so many people. Her songs have touched women and men alike ever since she burst on the scene in the late 60's. Joni didn't invent the interpersonal song, but the combination of her songwriting and singing sinks deep into one's soul.

With Joni's health issues over the past several years, there's now an added sentiment as the outpouring of love for this woman of heart and mind is immense. If John Lennon still lives in your heart, Joni's probably right there too. It's very personal.

In planning this post, I thought I'd begin with Judy Collins' cover of Both Sides Now because it was a top ten hit in 1967 when I was in junior high and the first Joni Mitchell song I ever heard, you too? 

Next comes, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's cover of Woodstock off the band's epic Déjà vu album as a solid second choice. After that it's pretty random, but I will say Madison Cunningham's cover of California came across my YouTube feed recently and really was the jump-start to make this playlist. (Note- The volume on Madison's home produced video will need to be turned up.) Anyway, if you read this blog on a regular basis, you know I think Madison Cunningham is special too.

Sitting in a park in Paris, France
Reading the news and it sure looks bad
They won't give peace a chance
That was just a dream some of us had

For this Volume I, it was was easy to find a ton of Joni Mitchell covers on YouTube. She has inspired so many people to pick up a guitar or sit at a piano and learn to play music from one of the best singer-songwriters of all-time. 

But here's the thing, I can't tell you how many passess on covers I made to make this playlist. I'm not just talking about the budding musicians on YouTube, but for the many professional artists who've taken on this task and realized that performing a Joni Mitchell song is much much harder than it would appear. 

I thought I'd knock out this blog in a day including the playlist, but I think I'm in day three now with about only 20 songs that pass mustard. It's just my opinion, but for every good 1 in 10 Bob Dylan cover, it's probably like 1 in a 100 for someone to get my attention with their Joni Mitchell cover. Even most of the live Joni tribute efforts got a pass from me this week as it often takes even the most gifted artists some professional studio time to put out a worthy interpretation.

For example with one of my favorite songs, Don't Interrupt The Sorrow,  I just had to give up trying to find a cover for the playlist after pouring through many videos of the song. I think I spent an hour alone on this one song, and then had to get up and do something different. There's just a way that Joni herself performs her own material that makes it hard to duplicate. I'm playing the song in my head right now and she's got me totally under her spell.

Don't interrupt the sorrow
Darn right
He says, "we walked on the moon
You be polite"
Don't let up the sorrow
Death and birth and death and birth
And death and birth
He says, "bring that bottle kindly
And I'll pad your purse
I've got a head full of quandary
And a mighty, mighty, thirst"

I will have of course not selected your favorite cover, but please feel free to leave a comment as I may include it in this Volume, and for the fact that a Volume II maybe a tough row to hoe for me in the future. 

Note- If you make an "Anonymous" entry because the comments tool is kind of a bust unless you have a Google Account in play, just sign your first name and last name to let me know who you are (or at least your last initial) at the end of your comment.

The scope of Joni's influence is unmeasurable whether you are just a listening fan like me or have taken the bold step to walk up to a microphone on a stage and play and/or sing one of her songs, or for that matter, anyone's songs. As an active music listener, my hats off to you! And if you somehow thought I was making fun of the 1 in 100 thing above, that's no slight to anyone who's ever had the courage to hit the record button because if it was so easy everybody would be doing it. Rock on my friends!

So the years spin by and now the boy is 20
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There'll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through

Monday, October 10, 2022

Fifty Years of Music • October, 1972

My "Fifty Years" listening dive every month never tires as I rediscover familiar albums I experienced as a young person, or today hearing albums I didn't pay much attention to when they were released. 

If you know that I grew up on the central coast of California, you may also know that Loggins and Messina were a very popular band in the region and were smart to book many college campuses early on up and down the coast. I first saw them in San Luis Obispo at the Cal Poly gym and wrote about it along with friend Paul Hobbs in an earlier blog this year

In 1973, I saw them a second time at the UCSB gym in Santa Barbara as it was a fantastic show and one of my favorite concerts of all time. The band was on fire that night and the crowd just loved every minute of it! Listening to the songs on this second L&M album not only takes me back to high school, but reinforces my lasting appreciation of their musicianship as a rock 'n' roll band. 

Jim Messina is often overlooked with his singing, songwriting, guitar playing and producing skills. His early contributions to Buffalo Springfield and Poco built his reputation as a musician and then producer inside the music industry, but many fans didn't know who he was until Loggins and Messina. Even then, Messina quietly let the star shine on it's handsome frontman Kenny Loggins. As a partnership and friendship that has stood the test of time, it's safe to say that Jim Messina greatly enhanced Kenny Loggins eventual solo career, and even made it possible. It's great to see them on tour together again celebrating that 50 year partnership and I would love to certainly see them live again. 

Pure Prairie League's second album, Bustin' Out came out in 1972, but really didn't catch on until 1975 when the song Amie became a huge hit for them. I purchased that album as a student at San Diego State during this time and really enjoyed the band's lead singer and songwriter, Craig Fuller. In 1975, I had no idea that Craig Fuller was actually forced to leave the band in 1973 due to the government refusing to accept his conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War. Fuller was required to perform two years of community service in a hospital in Kentucky. In 1975, Fuller received a pardon from then President Gerald Ford.

I don't know the band dynamics of Pure Prairie League, but for whatever reason Craig Fuller did not come back right when the band was just breaking famous. It just seems weird that he wouldn't return as the leading founding member of a band who just hit the big time? Fuller would go on to form the band American Flyer in 1976 and released a couple of albums with some success until they broke up in 1978. I do faintly remember Fuller making a record with Eric Kaz in 1978, Craig Fuller Eric Kaz, so it looks like I got American Flyer on my radar for some future listening.

Nevertheless, I think Bustin' Out is one of the best country rock albums ever made due in large part to Craig Fuller who is still alive today. Kind of weird nobody has done a remaster of this classic album for digital streaming services? Fuller actually has played in Pure Prairie League over the years from 1970–1973, 1985–1988, 1998–2002, 2004–2012. He even sang and played for Little Feat from 1987-93 as the lead singer in essentially Lowell George's position.

I looked up all the former and present band members of Pure Prairie League and that number was an astonishing 26 former members (including Vince Gill from 1978-82), and 5 current members (not including Fuller). I Wish I knew the whole backstory of this band and a little bit more knowledge of Craig Fuller himself? Fame is often elusive for talent such as Fuller, but maybe he just did things on his own terms and I certainly can respect that.

My surprise album of October, 1972 is Alvin Lee's Blues Band, Ten Years After and the release of their seventh studio album, Rock & Roll Music to the World. What a great rock 'n' roll album that I never heard before. I guess it's easy to appreciate so much more today as the rock 'n' roll genre is long past the center of attention in the current media. This blog exercise just reminds me, there's a ton of rock 'n' roll treasure out there on the Internet Tubes just waiting to be found!

I'll finish with more treasure already discovered years ago with Pete Townshend's, Who Came First, but have you heard all the extra tracks from the 2006 Bonus Tracks and 2018 Deluxe Edition? 

Enjoy the playlist... Arrr, there's gold in there mates!

Monday, October 03, 2022

#BestSongIHeardToday • Volume 16

On average, it takes my wife about two years to adopt one of my ideas. I'm patient, I'm in it for the long run. 

Recently, I mentioned to her that my right knee pain had disappeared, and for some reason she was all ears when I told her about my new running shoe inserts. You see, for the greater part of six months she has also been having right knee pain and suddenly the typical "yeah, yeah yeah" response was replaced by... "Really!"

Maybe she has a history and good reason not to listen to me. For example, I was the one who talked her into spending $400 on orthotics that really didn't work out for either of us. 

In fact, I came to the conclusion that my orthotics were actually working like a permanent foot cast, perpetually preventing my feet from naturally healing. I eventually had surgery for plantar fasciitis on my left foot, then later, started developing plantar fasciitis in my right foot.

After reading the book, Born To Run by Christopher McDougall I began to change my patterns with regard to exercise and my feet. 

My stupid grin meeting Christopher McDougall 
at an author talk/book signing 10/19/18

I started walking barefoot in and around the house letting my feet feel the earth again. It was a start. I ditched the orthotics. I ditched all my running shoes designed with the curved back heel which force you to strike your foot on your heel when running. Thanks Chris McDougall, that was a big tip along with wearing flat running shoes (see Zero Drop Altra)!

I lost 40 pounds.. no that didn't happen... eventually down 20 then up 10, constant f***ing battle. Born to Eat.

Eventually, my right foot plantar fasciitis pain started to go away and now its gone, for now. As you know, "it's always something" and that pain may one day again say, "not so fast buster."

No magic here, but lots of problem solving in the quest to keep moving forward.

"What about the inserts McIntosh?"

Oh yeah. After great research on Amazon... and now another attempt to be a social media influencer.

I found a pair of Dr. Scholl's insoles for $15. These insoles come in size 14 and you just cut them around the cheap ass inserts that came with your shoes and insert The Dr. Scholl's in their place. Doesn't matter if your shoes were $150, they all come with cheap ass inserts. Tip- Use a good pair of scissors to get a clean cut with the new insoles. 

What makes these insoles a keeper? They come with three bottom foot pads: one gel pad for the landing foot pad area, a flexible arch support, and a gel heel pad. Simple and durable. My insoles are currently about 8 months old and still feel new.

And most importantly, the little missus loves them! Her knee pain is now down several pegs on the 10 point pain scale, and my status is up!

Here's the men's Dr. Scholl's Insole on Amazon- 

Dr. Scholl’s Running Insoles // Reduce Shock and Prevent Common Running Injuries: Runner's Knee, Plantar Fasciitis and Shin Splints for Men's 10.5-14

Price: $15.19

Here's the women's Dr. Scholl's Insole on Amazon- 

Dr. Scholl’s Running Insoles // Reduce Shock and Prevent Common Running Injuries: Runner's Knee, Plantar Fasciitis and Shin Splints for Women's 5.5-9

Price: $13.56

I will say 90% of the songs on this playlist came while running in these insoles, and that's Rubber Soul on the go! 

Lotta mid-60's and jingle-jangle this week. 
Thank you for being a friend.

Monday, September 26, 2022

#NewMusicMonday • September, 2022

Sunday, around 6pm.
I'm staring at a blank white screen with a blinking cursor. I've got nothing. 

But, I did make time to curate a playlist of 72 songs over a month.

The listening, sifting and sorting discovery to make a playlist
is a wonderful escape.

And, that's something. Enjoy my friends.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Fifty Years of Music • September, 1972

Folk. The influence on our culture from its rebirth in the late 50's through the early 70's is profound. As I listened to albums released in September of 1972, I was struck by its sheer world-wide appeal and the talent of many to modernize folk and make top 10 hits from a genre they grew up with.

In America, you have the seemingly shy and unassuming folk musicians like John Denver and Seals and Crofts writing and performing big mainstream hits. Meanwhile, the UK mounts a second-wave invasion of sorts with artists like Cat Stevens, Sandy Denny (from Fairport Convention), and groups like The Pentangle, not to mention Jethro Tull, Genesis, Yes and a host of others taking the traditional English Folk genre and bending that into rock. In progressive rock, Yes releases Close to the Edge turning their back on the 2-3 minute hitmaker format, making continuous movements that take up the whole side of an album. AM radio dazed and confused needs FM to take over the progressive sides of blues and rock 'n' roll. 

Folk is roots music. Where ever you come from and no matter your taste in popular music, strands of folk are always there to bond a tune with its audience.

Note- I wanted to mention the passing of Jim Seals (79) this year (June, 6). For anyone growing up in the 1970's, the duo Seals and Crofts were very popular and very humble. In an ever growing environment of substance abuse destroying musicians lives and ultimately thinning the herd of quality rock 'n' roll in the 1970's, Seals and Crofts were well, a summer breeze. 

I also wanted to mention John Denver who was never really on my radar in high school. Like Glen Campbell and The Carpenters, I came to appreciate their music later. In about four years from now, I'll be writing specifically about 1976 and a summer camp I worked at for children with disabilities. Let me tell you, John Denver music was king around the campfire!

Enjoy my friends!

Monday, September 12, 2022

Clean Up in the Archives Aisle: Born to Run

"Slow but steady wins the race." The Hare and the Tortoise

I've been in Seattle since Labor Day having a bit of a vacation and a timely escape from the heat wave in California. Basically on September 4th, I went from 100 degrees and 80% humidity in San Diego to low 70's and clouds, what a lovely transition. This week in the Pacific Northwest has been fantastic with sunny skies and that same 70's temperature all week. My wife and I know the labor day week exit from So Cal as being that time of year to be two birds and make our annual migration to Seattle.

I thought this would be a good time to introduce what I'm calling, Clean Up in The Archives Aisle where I drag out some old blog and/or playlist to use as a rerun of sorts when I get busy, or like now, on a vacation.

In the past several weeks, I've actually been adding and deleting songs from my Born to Run playlist from the running series blog I created several years back called, Team Tortoise. Here is that four part series if you've been thinking of starting a new walking or running routine again. Or, you can just sit on the couch and listen to the playlist and eat a big bowl of ice cream. 

Take care my friends!

Team Tortoise - Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

Monday, September 05, 2022

#BestSongIHeardToday • Volume 15

Pacific Beach Sunset, our Shangri-La

My running routine before I head out includes turning off my iPhone for about 20 seconds and then restarting. I do this to clear out any of the digital cobwebs that may effect my GPS running app or my Amazon Music App. As I get out the door and away from my home wifi, I then turn on the music app, go to my ever growing library of 32,709 songs (just checked) and then hit the shuffle icon.

About 60% of the time, music that finds its way to this 'Best Song' playlist, come from those songs shuffled from my runs. Every now and then the digital gremlins do appear. On one run last month, I realized after listening to a few songs that they all began with the letters "Sh" like, Shaky Town, and Shame, and then settled in for an extended happy stay on song titles with "Shangri-La" in the title.

Sometimes you just have to roll with it. I decided that all the Shangri-La songs that serenaded my run that day, and even a song I found on the Tubes from the sixties girl group, The Shangri-La's would frame the playlist. I also have the big hit from "The La's" in the late 80's, There She Goes to start the playlist. In fact the 80's, 90's, and Blues all emerged as sub-themes running through out the playlist this week.

Speaking of a lost horizon, it ironically made me think of the time Mary Kit and I had a little Shangri-La "Staycation" on the Pacific Beach Crystal Pier cottages just about 20 minutes from our home. We were able to book the last cottage on the pier (pictured above) with an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean, simply paradise... until nightfall.

In full transparency... we only got that last cottage because it was February. A storm came in that night with high surf and crashing waves pounding the pier pilings right under our bed. We pretended we were on a pirate ship in a rough sea having a wonderful adventure nevertheless. And as they say, "Don't come a knocking when this pier starts a rockin."

Note- The Shame song I mentioned above was a Randy Newman tune, but when I got to YouTube to find it, I found his I Love LA which was fitting nicely into my 80's co-theme and Shame was replaced. That happens about the other 40% of the time.

Enjoy my friends!

Monday, August 29, 2022

#NewMusicMonday • August, 2022

Madison Cunningham doesn't dominate the playlist this week, but I'm already getting geared up for her next album release, Revealer on September, 9th. I have been following Madison for a couple of years now. In January, 2021 she released on YouTube a home recording of the song, Life According To Raechel that knocked the running socks off friend Paul Hobbs and I when it came out. She has now recorded the song for the new album and it's the first song of the playlist, and I hope it hits you like it did us. I finish off the playlist with Madison's recent appearance of NPR's Tiny Desk Concert with four songs from Revealer

Tedeschi Trucks Band finished their 24 song epic, I am The Moon this month, with Part III The Fall, and Part IV Farewell. I have included songs from these last two parts and just love how Susan and Derek feature all their band members, a real musical family that harks back to the Leon Russell and Delaney and Bonnie ensembles. You feel the spirit of this band and the love all the members have for one another. The late 60's and early 70's rock 'n' roll DNA lives on with this band with so many new original songs.

Speaking of that DNA, Marcus King is not related to Mountain's Leslie West, but the physical stature coupled with his kickass rock guitar chops reminds me of albums made from vinyl back in the sweet spot time period. King's new album, Young Blood with its southern blues vibe and rock guitar licks provide a nice mix throughout as my more subtle Americana tunes selection tend to dominate this week.

The Watkins Family Hour Vol. II are a big part of the Americana tunes featured in the playlist. Siblings Sara and Sean continue to make great music together since their early days starting with Nickel Creek. The album is sprinkled with guest artists including Madison Cunningham. 

Hopefully, a little something for everyone as so many great young musicians make new music or cover the greats with the time honored tradition of mixing something old and something new.

Enjoy my friends!