Monday, May 30, 2022

#NewMusicMonday • May, 2022

 Pop music. I'm mostly underwhelmed by most pop artists and bands today, and then Harry Styles came along a few years back. He's so good, and getting better. So good in fact, that I keep listening to his new album, Harry's House like I used to listen to new albums. I think it's simply fantastic! Harry's a terrific person who's really lifting people up with this new album and it's perfectly timed to counter the hate in our increasingly 'cruel country.' Go Harry!

Last Friday, my daughter Shawna stopped by to help me take my car in for some service. While my car was in the shop, we drove together to get some breakfast at our favorite, DZ Akins. In her car, she starts to play Harry's House and asks me if I have heard any of the new songs? 

She then tells me how Harry Styles is part of a group of artists with a special invite to Joni Mitchell's house (pre-Covid) to play, sing and just jam together. Harry's House is in fact a Joni Mitchell song (not on Harry's new album) but on her 1975 album, The Hissing of Summer Lawns (still part of my vinyl collection). I'm sure as polite as Harry is he probably asked for permission first, as Joni tweeted her approval when the album was announced in March. Oh Harry, the friends you keep.

In my opinion,  I think Harry Styles is going to be the artist of his generation as his greatness has only just begun.

I was also pleased to discover that this was a great release month for new rock 'n' roll and Americana with a little something for everybody. I'll let my usual album focused playlist speak for itself this month.

But first, something more important from the editorial desk-
My fellow 90% of Americans, enough. It is time to vote out all the politicians who don't support background checks on all gun sales. These same NRA funded politicians continue to support the insanity of letting the general public continue to buy assault weapons with high-capacity bullet magazines. I think the NRA's issue of Democrats taking away people's guns for hunting animals has never been the issue at all. But now more than ever, Americans face the much larger crisis of people hunting people with AR-15 style rifles (60 Minutes) as their mass weapon of choice in our schools, churches and public gathering places. It's way past time to throw these assholes out of office and their semi-automatic thoughts and prayers. Enough. If you didn't watch 60 Minutes last night, I recommend you click on the link above.

Now Harry Styles brought me to Everytown for Gun Safety where he has just donated 1 million dollars to this leading non-profit organization. I can't match that but Mike Bloomberg is tripling Harry's donation and yours too if you make a donation by May 31st. I just donated $25 so thank you Mr. Bloomberg for tripling that! 

Enjoy the music my friends.

Here is the YouTube Music app which is great for listening to this playlist on your phone. Click on the text link below.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Fifty Years of Music • May, 1972

In America you get food to eat
Won't have to run through the jungle
And scuff up your feet
You just sing about Jesus and drink wine all day
It's great to be an American
–Sail Away, Randy Newman

So I was wondering when the streak would end?

Meaning, what month would I only have three albums to showcase as the header for this month fifty years ago. Typically, I can have between 6 and 10 albums that I feel are worthy as whole albums. Was this the month where the rock 'n' roll well started to lose water?

In 1972, The 60's were officially dead, not to mention Jimi, Janis, and Jim. The Beatles were no more. The Beach Boys were done, Bob Dylan was where? The original Byrds had long flown, Neil Young was embarking on making non-selling solo albums, CS&N were toast, Motown took the last train for the coast...

Yet, The Rolling Stones make their critically received Exile On Main St., an album I would appreciate much later but I'm sure for many, a 'stay calm and rock on' moment... we still have the Stones. Elton John has moved from the new kid in town into being a huge superstar, and Randy Newman ascends into 'American Treasure' songwriter status even though many people will only know him for his much later, Toy Story movie score.

These three albums are for me a perfect moment in rock 'n' roll time. 

The Stones are the 60's past but in 1972 are still making great rock 'n' roll and white boy blues. In the 70's, The Rolling Stones cement their 'best rock 'n' roll band of all time' title in that they are the band who lived for another day, then year, and as it's turned out decades... 60 years baby! 

After Brian Jones death in 1969, The Stones have only had two new members, guitarist Mick Taylor who lasted 5 years (1969-74) because he probably thought he'd be dead in another 5 years, and his replacement, Ronnie Wood (1975-present). The line up of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Ronnie Wood would remain the same until Charlie's death last year. And, they're still a band today adding all-star drummer Steve Jordan recently. Of all the bands in the world, nobody can deny their greatness and appreciate their sheer longevity in an industry that chews up bands and spits them out as sport. Not to mention most bands tendency to self-destruct once money, drugs and fame enter the picture. Long live The Rolling Stones.

Elton John represents the transition to 1970's rock 'n' roll. He with David Bowie become huge stars. In an odd way, Elton replaces Neil Young for me. Elton with Bernie Taupin are fantastic songwriters. He is also a great singer and entertainer, basically the whole package. Loggins & Messina replace the whole sorted mess with Crosby, Stills & Nash, then Young, then not any of them. James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Carol King and Linda Ronstadt continue to rise as great solo artists, and another big band is about to break out in my 50 years feature next month, the Eagles.

In 1972, Randy Newman is both the past and the present. He's steeped into an early 20th century songwriting style, becoming a timeless artist with a quirky voice who writes songs like Mark Twain wrote books. More importantly, he's a songwriter's songwriter. His influence with his peers and now a couple of generations is unmeasurable. Over the years he's had a few non-movie based hits, Short People and I Love LA come to mind, but I'll take songs like Dayton, Ohio - 1903. If there's one person to take in this week on the playlist, take him in, you've got a friend in Randy Newman.

Enjoy the playlist my friends.

Here is the YouTube Music app which is great for listening to this playlist on your phone. Click on the text link below.

Monday, May 16, 2022

50+ Years of Music (with apologies to) November, 1971 and Loggins & Messina

By Doug McIntosh & Paul Hobbs

Paul and I were talking the other day on the phone and in our conversation he was wondering when Loggins & Messina were coming up in the 50 year blog series? He said something like, "Loggins & Messina were a pretty big deal for me in my senior year of high school."

That got me thinking too. Loggins & Messina's debut album, Sittin' In surely must have come out by the spring of 1972? 

I get 99% of my 'this month 50 years ago' from Wikipedia. Could they have screwed up and missed such an important album? So I went to the way back on Wikipedia, and low and behold I found the album sittin' in November, (1971 in Music). Yeah guess who screwed up!

With that news, the proof-reader gal over hearing the conversation on my iPhone in speaker mode, squealed my mistake to the new owner of Monday Monday Music™some guy named Musk. Anyway, Musk fancies MMM and is attempting a hostile takeover bid estimated to be around $44 and a song to be named later. 

So with the office mole's intel, the SOB fired me on the spot through one of his stupid tweets. He then cooled down and recanted, but hired Paul to be a staff writer and was told, "To watch Mr. McIntosh very carefully." 

Late breaking news on the MMM takeover... It appears Musk (wasn't that the worst cologne ever from the 1970's) is now saying he won't buy the blog to drive the price down further. Stay tuned loyal readers...

So I guess, Paul takes it over from here... Actually I've been mentoring Paul, which is kind of funny because he's older than me... Anyway, I got him up to speed in how things work around here– where you basically retell stories of your childhood and youth because your long-term memory is the last thing to go. Anyway, here's Paul.

I was working after school at the Tognazzini Box Co. my senior year in high school. We blasted a big radio, living room console type, that my parents had donated when they upgraded our household system. KSEE reverberated through the echoey warehouse. I remember a recurring advertisement for a concert featuring a band I was unfamiliar with, Loggins and Messina. They played parts of 3 selections from their newly released album and 2 of the 3 had me hooked, 'Danny’s Song' and 'Nobody But You.' I got myself a ticket and accompanied by Ron Zieman, Gary Hill, and Doug McIntosh went to see them play at Cal Poly in SLO. We were summarily impressed and in one combination or another, some including Paul Tognazzini, of Box Co. fame, proceeded to see them play four more times on the central coast within the next year.

left to right - Danny Walker, Sean Landers, and Paul Hobbs
circa 1976 @ The Feed Store in Santa Barbara
(Photo by D. McIntosh who subbed as driver and equipment guy with his green Chevy truck w/camper shell,
and let Gary sleep one off in the truck bed with the guitars and amps on the return trip to Santa Maria. )

I was introduced through Gary and one of his friends to a new musical partner, Danny Walker. We got together to play music exclusively. He was a couple of years older, from a different school, and a tad intimidating. We had one goal and that was to practice up a bunch of songs and start playing out. Friendship would come later. He had an older brother who played and brought a lot of music around that Danny learned and taught me without me ever hearing the recorded versions. It was very organic, shades of the early folk scene. I was, and still am, a Beatle nut, and a big JT fan so I knew a bunch of their stuff. We also each had some songs we’d written.

Loggins and Messina provided a brand new opportunity. We were hearing a band that neither one of us had heard before. It gave us some songs to learn, we did 5 from this album alone. And, they exhibited several qualities that we, humbly, counted among our strengths.

They were essentially a duo. Both were lead singers. There were usually two distinct guitar parts to choose from. Danny would play the more difficult one. They had a folkie quality and at the same time a country feel. We did a pared down version of their songs, of course, as they had a large band and a couple of spare singers when needed. However, with the addition of a singing bass player, Sean Landers, who came along in pretty short order, we could rock a bit more and do the bigger production numbers serviceably well. Their material was very popular with our audiences so they were quite the boon to our fledgling act.

Beautiful stuff from the cub reporter there... and I didn't realize until the proof-reader gal informed me that this Musk fellow is going to pay us by the letter. (Geez, I must have used 280 characters in this blog title alone. sweet!)

Anyway, Paul was talking about the Loggins & Messina concert in the Cal Poly Gym which was my first rock 'n' roll concert! It was a great show that happened sometime in the first half of 1972 (I'm guessing, 'Steel Trap' Hobbs can't even remember). 

L&M opened for The Youngbloods and blew the crowd away, we were so excited! Then, The Youngbloods come out who were on their last legs as a band. I didn't even know who Jesse Colin Young was at the time, and would become a big fan of his as my bay area SDSU roommate Mark Hunter would turn me on to him a few years later. So The Youngbloods come out very flat and definitely were not the youngblood band that night. People in the audience, including our gang of four mentioned above, left the concert in the middle of their set. I imagine Loggins & Messina weren't going to remain an opening act shortly after that.

"The album's first single release, the Caribbean-flavored Vahevala, found top 3 success on WCFL on May 18, 1972. Although the album went unnoticed by radio upon release, it eventually found success by fall 1972, particularly on college campuses where the pair toured heavily. Loggins and Messina's vocal harmonies meshed so well that what was begun as a one-off album became an entity in itself. Audiences regarded the pair as a genuine duo rather than as a solo act with a well-known producer. Instead of continuing to produce Loggins as a sole performer, they decided to record as a duo, Loggins & Messina." Wikipedia

This week I feature the entire Sittin' In album as the playlist this week. As stated, the first single from the album was the very catchy Vahevala and fifty years later it's come back to play in my KSEE radio head all week. I then added some concert videos of the same songs performed over the years including a couple songs from their 2005 performance at the wonderful Santa Barbara County Bowl. 

The central coast, not a bad place for a band like Loggins and Messina to get famous and launch another duo who would play there and eventually end up in my neck of the beach, in San Diego for a year in 1975-76. Paul and Danny, now called Southwind played at a couple of Pacific Beach and Mission Beach bars during their year there. I loved this because I would sometimes go see Paul at the beach after classes at SDSU, and then attend their evening gig. I remember waking up one morning on Paul's living room floor at his rented beach house in Mission Beach, not remembering the night before. Then it dawned on me, "Shouldn't I be in my Jazz Appreciation class right now?" 

Enjoy the playlist my friends.

Here is the YouTube Music app which is great for listening to this playlist on your phone. Click on the text link below.

Monday, May 09, 2022

A Million Inconveniences

Photo Source: Vox, Who has died from Covid-19 in the US? 2/16/21 

 by Doug McIntosh & Paul Hobbs

Around January of 2021, I was thinking of different blog ideas to write about when I came upon the idea to create a concept album of satirical song titles. I'm not a musician but I thought I'd create a concept album called, Songs That Piss People Off. I ended up writing 12 song titles and then it just sat in my Blogger draft box for months. 

At some point, I shared the titles with Paul as we have collaborated on several posts together here at Monday Monday Music, as well as creating several videos together of Paul's music for Youtube.

One of my original titles for this made-up concept album was 400,000 Inconveniences because at that time that was the round number of people in the United States who had died from Covid-19. 

As time went by, that number had moved past 500,000 and was well on its way to a million.

I'll let Paul pick it up here.
As the dreaded milestone of one million Covid deaths approached Doug suggested I write a song for which he would create a video to commemorate the horrific occasion.

I started by thinking how the country’s reaction personified the Trump presidency for me. He had reinvented American exceptionalism as American spoiled brat-ism, where we treated non Americans suspiciously and refused to do anything for the common good. No one can tell me what to do. I live in the land of the free. I’m free to think only of myself. The ultimate selfishness manifested itself in refusing to wear a mask to protect against the spread of Covid. I took some time to set up this pervasive attitude before settling into the Covid prevention resistance, which was really the essence of the blog in the first place.

Here's Paul's lyrics for the song, followed by his composition and recording that I made into a still photo Youtube video.

A Million Inconveniences

It very rarely rains but
You’re keeping your front lawn green
Some tyrant city councilman’s
talking bout recycling
You’re not one for following rules
They’re just for misinformed fools

You say, Don’t inconvenience me 
I live in the land of the free

My uncle fell and hit his head
Died waiting for a hospital bed
They’re filled with anti-vaccine casualties
Preventable tragedies
If you care about your fellow man
At least wear a mask and wash your hands

You say, Don’t inconvenience me
I live in the land of the free
I live in the land of the free

You’ll lose your job before you’ll ever get the shot
Or you can wear a mask and test twice a week
But no sir you will not
You think these events are coincidence
But we just hit one million inconveniences

Yeah we live in the land of the free
Land of the free

Now they’re clogging our main arteries
Shutting down commerce between countries
Some of our brilliant politicians say
We should do this in the USA

There’s a strain on our
hard to maintain hospital system
Emergency room nurses are overworked and it’s impossible to replace them
You tried to see your father before he died
But with no vaccine they wouldn’t let you inside

You said, Don’t inconvenience me
I live in the land of the free
Hey don't you inconvenience me
I live in the land of the free
Land of the free
I live in the of the free

The timing of this blog and song comes with the fact that around 300 people a day are still dying of Covid-19, and so let's just take a moment to pause and acknowledge that a 1,000,000 people in the U.S. have now died from this virus to date. 

Take care my friends.

Monday, May 02, 2022

Circling Back Around

photo source - flickr

We were ring-around-the-rosy children
They were circles around the sun
Never give up, never slow down
Never grow old, never, ever die young
–James Taylor

2020 was as they say, "A bad year." 

In 2014, I retired from being a teacher as I was with the same school district for thirty-five years. At the time, I couldn't believe that it had actually gone by so fast. My friend Mark Hunter says, "Life is a roll of toilet paper, it starts out slow but at some point that paper roll seems to quickly get smaller and smaller."

As a teacher in a large urban school district, I actually had quite a number of different jobs. My goals as I shifted from special education to general education never included being an administrator. I found that managing other adults was something to avoid and generally gravitated to work that was more project-based. I spend many years mastering the art of lateral movement in a large bureaucracy and discovered how to thrive in the world of grants, or what is often called, "soft money." As a resource teacher, I learned to live close to a money stream where I could personally make change and be a positive difference in students and other teachers lives.

So when I retired from my day job, I was looking to carry that semi-independent streak into being my own boss and start my own educational consulting business with a focus in K-12 learning spaces. I basically worked with vendors who sold furniture and technology to schools where we created new learning spaces from older, traditional learning spaces.

This all went along pretty well for a few years. Then in 2019, business really started slowing down for me, and then the pandemic hit in 2020 to completely finish it off. I folded my tent thinking, "I guess this is it, I'm never going to create a new learning space again." 

Sting sings, If You Love Somebody Set Them Free. I don't think I gave up, but that song kept playing in my head, and I resolved to thinking that if I just let the business go, to set it free, that maybe someday it or something else like it, would come back around to me.

After two years, I'm tanned and I'm rested. Bye-bye Covid, I'm ready to go see some rock 'n' roll.

Then I get a call from Dean Smith who is the CEO of his own small business called, D&D Integrated Solutions. Dean and I first met sometime in the 1990's when he was selling security locks for desktop computers. When I started as a consultant, Dean's business had expanded to technology integration and then expanded into being a K-12 furniture dealer as well.  As a consultant from 2015-2019, we did a half-dozen fun learning spaces together. But I had plans. I was always looking for something bigger, working with bigger vendors, doing bigger projects. Well you know...

So in March, Dean offers me a job in his business to be a Learning Environment Designer. He actually let me create my own title and as you can probably tell from that comment, I'm delighted to have it, not to mention the freedom to collaborate with his team and school districts, again. Thank you Dean!

This past week, I wrote the first in what I'm hoping will be many blogs for D&D. In an irony of all ironies with respect to my Monday Monday Music™ blog, I got paid to write a blog. How sweet is that!

If you're interested, here is the link to my D&D blog post titled, Learning Environments: Macro to Micro

I'm thinking, "2022 is a good year, so far... Stop it Doug, 2022 is already a good year!"

Here's a few songs swimming around my head that express my emotion with all this... I may add more as they come to me.

Enjoy my friends!