Monday, November 27, 2023

New Music and Documentary Monday • September - November, 2023

Boy, a day late and a dollar short here. I might be slippin' in my diligence to bring you the latest Americana and rock 'n' roll but what's a couple of months when my grandchildren look at this someday and think... we'll he'd been slippin' for years.

As usual, I don't have much to say about all the good new music here other than letting the shifting and sorting of putting together a respectable playlist represent the heavy-lifting in the last quarter of 2023. The Americana genre dominates my new music selections as that's were the talent lies these day. Yep, you're still waiting for the ghost of _____________ (fill in the blank) to turn up in a youthful form and spark the great rock 'n' roll revival of 2025. 

Now before you get to the playlist, here's a list of recent documentaries that I have watched and highly recommend as you plant yourself into some soft seating during the holidays. Speaking of which, don't miss my annual Christmas Mix 2023 next week, followed in the weeks ahead by My Favorite Songs of 1963, 1973, and 2023 to take us to the end of the year.

  • The Stones and Brian Jones  (Just released in theaters and rent on Amazon Prime $7.99) - Featuring candid interviews with the Rolling Stones and never-before-seen footage, this captivating documentary explores how Brian Jones, the genius founder of the greatest rock band in the world, was left behind in the shadows of history.

  • Born In Chicago (Amazon Prime)  - In 1960, a group of white teenage Chicago musicians traveled to the city's southside music clubs to learn the blues from the original masters. This is their story.

  • Tom Petty: Somewhere You Feel Free - The Making of Wildflowers (Amazon Prime) - In 2020, a collection of 16mm film was discovered of Tom Petty, capturing a prolific songwriting streak from 1993-95 making the album Wildflowers with producer Rick Rubin. Known for being reclusive about his personal life & creative process. The award winning & critically acclaimed, Somewhere You Feel Free is a candid & musically rich look into the legendary artist's creative genius.

  • David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived (HBO) - Gymnast David Holmes played Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double in the Harry Potter films until a tragic on-set accident left him paralyzed. With his life turned upside down, David's extraordinary spirit of resilience becomes a source of strength and inspiration to everyone around him. Featuring intimate interviews with David, Daniel Radcliffe, friends, family, and colleagues, David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived reflects on living with adversity, forging a new identity, and the bonds that bind us together and lift us up.

  • Albert Brooks: Defending My Life (HBO) - From stand-up to acting to writing and directing, Albert Brooks has been a major force in American comedy since the late 1960s. With testimonials from comedians, friends, family, and Brooks himself, Albert Brooks: Defending My Life explores the origins and evolution of Brooks’ career, the impetus for his creativity, and his enduring impact on comedy.

  • Stand Up & Shout: Songs From a Philly High School (HBO) - This heartfelt documentary follows a unique music program at Hill-Freedman World Academy that teaches students to write, compose, produce, and perform original songs. Together with local musicians, they create an album that captures the challenging times they’re living in and the joy that music brings. Stand Up & Shout: Songs From a Philly High School explores the transformative power of music and how arts education can be a source of hope and healing.

  • and coming in December - The Immediate Family - The Immediate Family is a unique group of iconic musicians who have played together for decades but never as their own band. Known for their long, illustrious careers backing up such Hall-of-Fame artists such as James Taylor, Keith Richards, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Stevie Nicks and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, guitarists Danny Kortchmar and Waddy Wachtel, drummer Russ Kunkel, and bassist Leland Sklar have come together, along with guitarist Steve Postell, to perform their own songs as The Immediate Family, a band that can legitimately be called a supergroup.

Enjoy the Playlist my friends! 

Monday, November 20, 2023

With the Beatles and JFK • November 22, 1963

Friday, November 22, 1963. I was an 8 year-old in third grade at Robert Bruce Elementary when our teacher told the class that our President, John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed. 

My searing memory of that day is that I had not cried like our teacher and many of my classmates. I remember getting home and immediately heading towards the bathroom. I closed and locked the door, put the toilet seat lid down and sat on it, bent over and put my hands to my face, and cried. 

I'm shedding a tear now as I write this, 60 years later as if it were yesterday. It is my first historical day as an American citizen and the anguish never goes away. Anyone who was old enough knows this day, in their heart and soul. We all share a similar story of where we were on the day Camelot died.

This past week, I watched National Geographic's three-part documentary,  JFK: One Day in America. It's also streaming on Disney+ and Hulu, so you can plan for this sobering sit down. I highly recommend this documentary on the 60th anniversary of that day that has been a yearly reminder to me since it happens to always be just before Thanksgiving. I don't remember Thanksgiving in 1963, but it was just six days later after the President had been killed. I'm sure the Thanksgiving prayer around the dinner table that year was a tearful hand-holding extended affair for most families.

Now as an 8 year-old I had no idea that another event happened on that same day, the release of The Beatles second album, With the Beatles. That in itself is not significant compared to the assassination of JFK, but just three months later, The Beatles would come to America on February 7, 1964. On February 9th, The Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan Show for the first time and gave a reeling nation a release of pure joy, and a spark to the healing process. 

The timing of these two juxtaposed events kicks off my experience of the 1960's. It makes me think of Pete Seeger's song taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes and made famous by The Byrds in 1965, Turn, Turn, Turn.

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

A time to kill, a time to heal. Assassination and Vietnam, baseball and rock 'n' roll. The Beatles had come to America and love was going to win over hate.

Enjoy the lad's second album, and their hit single, I Want to Hold Your Hand, released November 29, 1963, with the B-Side, I Saw Her Standing There.

Happy Thanksgiving my friends.

Monday, November 13, 2023

#BestSongIHeardToday • Volume 27 • I'm Free

There's the scene in the 1975 movie, Tommy where Roger Daltrey is running through a field of flowers in The Who song, I'm Free. This was the image I got immediately after breaking through a roadblock that had been holding me back for several months. So in celebration of all breakthroughs, I made this little eclectic playlist to be used in one's own imagination to create the inspiration to keep moving forward.

Enjoy the playlist my friends!

Monday, November 06, 2023

The Beatles • Now And Then • The Last Beatles Song

I watched the short film about the making of Now and Then when it came out last Wednesday, and I began to cry. Sad and happy tears all at once. Then, I cried when the song was released on Amazon Music this past Thursday, and then Friday morning at the Peter Jackson premier of his music video of the song.

"I realised we needed the imagination of every viewer to create their own personal moment of farewell to The Beatles." –Peter Jackson

If you're a Beatle fan, my God all the emotions, still now and all those years ago. 

If you haven't watched the short film yet, watch it first, then the video song. On Saturday, I created a playlist that you might like. 

Also, avoid reading any reviews of the song. This song was re-constructed from a homemade cassette tape recording of John's while living at the Dakota in New York City. Nobody's pretending it's Strawberry Fields Forever. It's the last little scrap of Beatles music with all four of the lads on a track together. Give it a little quiet respect.

What an unbelievable gift. 

Enjoy the playlist my friends.

  • The Beatles - Now And Then - The Last Beatles Song (Short Film) - Released on YouTube, 11/01/23
  • The Beatles - Now And Then (Music Video) - Released on YouTube, 11/03/23 that includes a B-Side with the 2023 remix of The Beatles 1962 first single, Love Me Do (but...with a music video substitution).

Not to mention a couple of other Johnny come lately tracks...

Thank you forever John, Paul, George, and Ringo!

Monday, October 30, 2023

Halloween Playlist • 2023

Every year, I add a few songs to this playlist and I think every year it gets a little more separated from the standard Halloween playlists. but yes I have ghostbusters just like everyone else.

Tis the season for pumpkin! Here are two great pumpkin treats. 

First, if you haven't tried the pumpkin bread loaf at Starbucks, well it's available all year long, and delicious!!!

Next up, is Trader Joe's seasonal Gluten Free Pumpkin Streusel Muffins. 
  1. Cut one muffin in half
  2. Butter each half up
  3. Place in the microwave for... whenever butter melts in your microwave!
  4. eat with a folk like its cake, because it's cake!
wonder why I'm already packing on the pounds and it's just Halloween?

Tis the season, Enjoy my Friends!

Monday, October 23, 2023

#NewMusicMonday • October, 2023 • Hackney Diamonds • The Rolling Stones

60 Years of Music. Wait a minute. This is not a Monday Monday Music blog going back to 1963, this is The Rolling Stones releasing a new album of original material this month! 

The album's name is London slang for the shattered glass left behind after burglars have smashed a window to break in, Hackney being an inner-city area of London associated with a high crime rate. Wikipedia

Hackney Diamonds is a gem. It's just so wonderful to hear new rock 'n' roll period, much less from the band known as the "world's greatest rock 'n' roll band" from the 20 century. 

I mean for god's sake Mick Jagger is 80 and can still belt it out. Keith Richards will be 80 in December and has adapted his guitar playing around the arthritis in his hands. Ronnie Wood is the young one at 76. Who would have ever imagined that this band would still be going in 2023- they must be on lithium batteries. 

I wish Charlie could have made this one, but wait a minute, he's on a couple of tracks, not to mention original bass player Bill Wyman on a Stones track for the first time in 30 years. Then, there's Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and Lady Gaga who are featured in songs throughout the album. This one's a bag of jewels ready for the taking.

Enjoy my friends, and never die young because we all still have a lot to do! 

Monday, October 16, 2023

Fifty Years of Music • October, 1973

October, 1973 is a monster month in rock 'n' roll. I've already featured three albums from this list of twelve shown above recently and decided to mix them all together and make a big ol' playlist this week. 

I always seem to surprise myself 50 years down the road, and this past week it was listening to Neil Young's Time Fades Away. This was the album that followed Harvest and it just became part of Young's succession of albums where he seemed not to care as much in making great records. Neil has a lot of personal history within this time period, so much so that this live album is not officially listed in his catalogue, and wasn't pressed as a CD until 2017. In my journey through the past this last week, I found Time Fades Away very satisfying. In a year, I'll give Neil's 1974 On The Beach, another try.

Two other gems, are Fleetwood Mac's Mystery to Me, and Dave Mason's It's Like You Never Left. I think I included every song from both albums here as the Brits just kept making great music.

Enjoy my friends, you've got a full week of listening enjoyment as I was personally having the time of my life with my girlfriend and into my first semester of college in October, 1973. 

Monday, October 09, 2023

Fifty Years of Music • October, 1973 • Quadrophenia • The Who

Quadrophenia is The Who's sixth studio album. Pete Townshend has called it, their last great album. As a double-album and rock opera, it follows Tommy and Who's Next, two back-to-back rock 'n' roll classics filled with hit songs. 

Like many great albums of the 1960's and early 70's, I didn't fully appreciate Quadrophenia until later. It tells the story of a young Mod, Jimmy confused about his identity, worth, and purpose.

With regard to British culture, most Americans were focused on how the "British Invasion" bands of the 1960's affected American music and culture. The Who give us a story of early/mid-1960's culture in England where class, fashion, and music collide to become a culture war between two young unsatisfied working class groups, the "Rockers" and the more progressive, "Mods."

Mod, from the word modernist, is a subculture that began in London and spread throughout Great Britain and elsewhere, eventually influencing fashions and trends in other countries, and continues today on a smaller scale. Focused on music and fashion, the subculture has its roots in a small group of stylish London-based young men and women in the late 1950s who were termed modernists because they listened to modern jazz. Elements of the mod subculture include fashion (often tailor-made suits); music (including soul, rhythm and blues, ska and mainly jazz) and motor scooters (usually Lambretta or Vespa). In the mid-1960s, the subculture listened to rock groups with mod following, such as The Who and Small Faces, after the peak Mod era. The original mod scene was associated with amphetamine-fuelled all-night jazz dancing at clubs. One notably instrumental figure in the movement's origins was British fashion designer Mary Quant. Wikipedia

In 1979, Quadrophenia became a movie that until this past Saturday I had never seen from start to finish. I think Quadrophenia does a good job in depicting post-World War II conditions in Britain where England's war-babies have grown into a stalled economy with little opportunity and options other than to be a day labourer. Ray Davies of The Kinks and Pete Townshend of The Who are two such post-war children who turned that angst into pop-culture hits. 

Townshend's duality of the Rockers representing the 1950's youth rebellion of James Dean's Rebel Without a Cause and Marion Brando's brash-biker in The Wild Ones is dated and out of touch for the upcoming Mods. These kids want more from their society as communicated in The Who's 1965 song, My Generation

It's all a motor scooter preamble for what's coming as London becomes the center of change with "Swinging London" and the dawn of modern drugs, sex, fashion, music, and all things psychedelic in the swinging sixties. 

So, with the 50th anniversary of the October, 1973 release of Quadrophenia, I present you with a couple of shiny little pill options.

First, here is the Super-Deluxe double-album of Quadrophenia for your listening pleasure this week. If you haven't given it a listen to in a while, well it's certainly worth the revisit, and a rock 'n' roll classic right up there with Tommy and Who's Next. Who could have imagined such a trilogy of greatness!

And second, here is the original 1979 movie trailer, followed by a link to Amazon Prime where you can rent the movie for $3.99. I enjoyed this movie as my recent Saturday night feature, and highly recommend it if you're like me and kind of obsessed with this time period in history.

Enjoy my friends!

Monday, October 02, 2023

Fifty Years of Music • October, 1973 • For Everyman • Jackson Browne

For Everyman is Jackson Browne's second album and there is no sophomore slump here. I remember going over to listen to it for the first time with my friend Paul Hobbs in his bedroom, the teenager's sanctuary. 

Everyone realizes that Jackson Browne is an exceptional talent with the release of this album. For me, he quickly ascends to the same songwriting status that I had for James Taylor, Neil Young, Paul Simon, and Cat Stevens in the early 70's folk-rock era. This album also begins Browne's long collaboration with David Lindley whose lap steel guitar playing was a huge part of the Jackson Browne sound.  

Everything about Jackson Browne's albums are intricate and intimate, including his album covers. Didn't everyone want to live in a spanish-style house in the 1970's? I sure did. When I saw this album cover for the first time, I immediately thought of my grandparents little spanish-style house on Park Street in Santa Maria, CA and their little brick enclosed backyard with its outdoor arched fireplace. I loved that house.

The album cover photograph is a depiction of Browne's childhood home in Highland Park, California, "The Abbey San Encino” which was hand-built by his grandfather Clyde Browne and owned to this day by his brother Edward. The photograph was taken by Alan F. Blumenthal. The cover of the original release was a cutout with the inner sleeve showing Browne sitting in a rocking chair. When removed the picture on the inside had the same background but Browne and the rocking chair were omitted. Wikipedia

 Jackson Browne is Evermore. In the fifty-one years since his debut album in 1972, nothing has diminished. Buy his latest album, go see him in concert, and watch his current YouTube videos as I continue to be in simple awe of his everlasting talent and humanity. 

Enjoy this wonderful album my friends, again.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Rock 'n' Roll Stories • Volume I • Daisy Jones & The Six

Every year it seems there is a new big screen movie, small screen drama, or documentary about a music artist and/or band, in biographical or fictional form.

This year on Amazon Prime, I just finished a ten part mini-drama about a fictional rock 'n' roll band called, Daisy Jones & The Six. It's been out since March, but maybe like me, you've been holding out on this one, in the constant search for a great new series on TV. 

Well, after months of my skipping around, I landed on Daisy Jones & The Six, and finished it in a week. I give it good marks for the effort to make original rock 'n' roll in 2023. Hey, it's not Almost Famous, but it's got me writing about it as you will see the obvious comparisons to the Stevie Nicks/Lindsey Buckingham Fleetwood Mac. You'll see the often chronicled journey of a lot of struggling rock 'n' roll bands just starting out, the rise, the drugs, the sex, and then the fall. 

Band infighting is a big part of rock 'n' roll history and Daisy Jones & The Six excels at that. It got me thinking of several famous band fights, particularly between Glenn Frey and Don Felder of the Eagles.

The playlist this week was fun to put together. I start with the title music to Daisy Jones & The Six which is Patti Smith's, Dancing Barefoot.  I then feature a couple of the series' most obvious Fleetwood Mac-like songs, Let Me Down Easy and Aurora. Then I switch gears and give you a little hodge-podge of rock 'n' roll movie and TV clips including, "Davy Jones & The Three" (sorry, just couldn't resist that one).

Hey, I started a new blog series here! I even added a second playlist of the Daisy Jones & The Six album from Atlantic Records.

Enjoy the playlists my friends.


Daisy Jones & The Six Soundtrack

Monday, September 18, 2023

Fifty Years of Music • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road • Elton John

October, 1973 is one of those monster months in rock 'n' roll. So big for me that I'm writing about it a month early, fifty years later. 

I'll start with Elton John, the biggest rock 'n' roll star to impact my life in 1973 because my new girlfriend loved Elton John, still does. She had all of his records during that time, and on October 5, 1973 he releases, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. I'm sure Mary Kit bought this double-album on that day, and for the next four years I would be hearing that album quite a bit on the turntable, the radio, and live in concert.

Elton John, Fabulous Forum 10/5/74
In fact, one year later to the day, October 5, 1974 Mary Kit and I drove down to Inglewood to see him play the Fabulous Forum. What a concert that was! We were up in the cheap seats when the Forum was mainly the basketball palace of the Los Angeles Lakers and the acoustics... well I don't think acoustical engineering was invented yet for sports arenas in the 1970's. It was a fantastic show, but I still remember the ringing in my ears, not only from the volume (everybody thought they had to match The Who and Led Zeppelin), but also from the sound bouncing off the back walls and rafters where we were sitting.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road has so many great songs. My favorite is Harmony. Let me know your favorite song from this great double-album in the comments section below.    

Enjoy the album my friends!

Monday, September 11, 2023

60 Years of Music • September, 1963 • Surfer Girl

I can feel it, the change from 1950's rock 'n' roll to 1960's rock 'n' roll. The Beach Boys are on to something big. All the other artists featured this week are mainly covering other's hits to make an album around their own hit single. 

Granted, Sam Cooke has the most mature material to go along with his soulful smooth singing voice. Martha and the Vandellas are climbing the pop charts, paving the way for The Supremes, and two songs from their 1963 album would be recorded into monster hits for Linda Ronstadt in the 1970's. And, The Ventures would continue to ride the wave of recording surf tunes and turning current pop hits into instrumental electric guitar gems. Yes, the electric guitar, it was now the main instrument in pop songs.  Goodbye horns, hello Mr. Fender, hello Mr. Gibson. 

Brian Wilson is showing the world the new rock 'n' roll blueprint. He is writing and arranging all the songs on the Beach Boys albums, playing Fender bass in the band, and is their lead singer. How many future rock 'n' roll stars are listening to The Beach Boys and saying, "that's the ticket, that's my path too!"

Brian was often criticized later in the 1960's for his sophomoric lyrics layered within the band's sophisticated harmonies. Screw the critics, Brian was painted into the "surfer" "car" box by a number of people in the record business, notwithstanding his overbearing abusive father as their manager.

But if you listen to Surfer Girl this week in the playlist, you'll hear Brian busting out of that sandbox with songs like In My Room, The Surfer Moon, and Your Summer Dream. Speaking of In My Room, it's one of my top 100 favorite songs of all-time and in My 100 Songs playlist. Like many people, it's my favorite Beach Boys song. For the millions of people who love this song, Brian as the writer puts his listeners in the same cocooned space we have all felt as young people. The power and beauty of this song is timeless, touching countless new young listeners every generation. I never tire of In My Room, and imagine you're probably thinking the same.

Enjoy the playlist this week my friends.

Monday, September 04, 2023

#BestSongIHeardToday • Volume 26 • Pick Up Your Feet

Pick up your feet. It's been a mantra of mine on every walk and run for the past couple of years. As I have gotten older (oh boy), I have developed the tendency to lower my pickup in the quest of self-propelled forward mobility. Maybe it's a 1/4 to 1/2 inch, maybe it's centimeters.

In my analysis of my trips and falls, it mainly comes down to one thing, distraction.

I'll look up in the distance to see some person or something coming my way, and whoa! 

In the car it doesn't seem to be a problem. I can still watch YouTube videos and text while driving (just kidding).

So what to do old dog? Any new tricks out there?

I did a YouTube Search and typed in, "Pick Up Your Feet." There's a bunch of videos that highlight specific stretches, or how to land heel to toe with your feet. Hey, isn't that how I got plantar fasciitis? 

The only useful thing I found was the lovely little song by Nataly Dawn that starts off the playlist this week.

So after everything, whether I'm walking with my wife or running by myself, I'm training my brain to say to my feet (about every 2 minutes), "Hey stupid, pick up your f*#$in' feet!" 

I can't wait for the moment when I unconsciously say this outloud with my wife and she smacks me upside the head! (Hey that's two "smacks upside the head" references in two weeks.)


On another note-
I just watched the 2014 documentary, Elliott Smith - Heaven Adores You 
(click here on Amazon Prime.) You might want to check it out. It's kicked off my rediscovery of Elliott Smith and I've got one video of his to share this week. It won't be the last.

Enjoy the playlist my friends.

Monday, August 28, 2023

60 Years of Music • March on Washington • August 28, 1963

March on Washington • August 28, 1963 • View from the Lincoln Memorial

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.
–Dr. Martin Luther King, I Have a Dream 

 Sixty years ago today, 250,000 Americans traveled to Washington D.C. for what would be called, the March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The purpose of the march was to advance the civil rights movement in America so that all men and women would have the same civil and economic rights under the law. The March followed the June 12, 1963 murder of Medgar Evers, a civil rights activist who was shot in Mississippi by a white supremacist and member of the Ku Klux Klan, Byron De La Beckwith. 

There were many speakers, artists and musicians who participated that day. My intent for writing this post today is three-fold: first, a few current thoughts of mine after watching Dr. King's, I Have a Dream speech this past week, second, to present Dr. King's full speech, and third, to highlight one of Bob Dylan's songs sung at the event, Only a Pawn in Their Game.

Dr. King's speech is one of the most famous in American history. It is framed beautifully in the context of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, where President Lincoln's decree freed 3.5 million African Americans from slavery. 

Dr. King said, 

But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. 

One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. 

One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. 

One hundred years later the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

My memory of August 28, 1963 is nonexistent. But, being an 8 year-old small town boy from that time, I can reflect and observe from of my own experiences, then and now. It would only be less than three months later, that John F. Kennedy would be assassinated on November 22, 1963. My memory of that day is still vivid and clear. For many children of that era, it would be a dawning, the pivotal moment when we were forced to face a bigger and scarier world out there. 

I'll start with Dr. King's line, "1963 is not an end, but a beginning."

It was a beginning. The beginning where everyone in America were truly going to be equal under the law, and equal in every way.  This new beginning was more than just an ideal, more than just a dream.

Prior to the early 60's, America had an original "deep state." The systemic deep state was an organized conspiracy passed on by wealthy white men who ruled the fifty States and the Federal Government under the "rule of law." Democracy is based on the rule of law, but for people of color, the law was living under the white man's thumb, in his world.

The March on Washington in fact, had an immediate impact on the laws of our land. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Act Right of 1965 were passed by Congress as direct results of the civil rights movement and the March on Washington. Later, The Civil Rights Act of 1968 containing, the Fair Housing Act was signed into law shortly after Dr. King's assassination. 

The OG deep state was about to be slowly turned, The times were indeed a-changin'. It didn't happen overnight, but as we moved forward as a nation in the second half of the 20th century and into this one, more underrepresented people began to have a voice, a job, and a vote with new laws not written by the OG's.

Fast forward to 2015, and the Trump slogan of "Make America Great Again" (MAGA). The slogan is a  code, a calling for, "Enough is enough," time to turn the clock and power balance backwards before the 1960's. The key word of this calling is, "Great." It can be substituted for: unapologetic, conservative, tough, isolationist, white, powerful, industrial, nationalistic, uncompromising. How about you pick a word here ________. 

When it comes to race, the 2020's is not black and white, it's a great deal more complicated. Today, there are a number of people of color involved in the MAGA movement. The majority of white Americans are not racists. 

I love the concept of compassionate conservatism. I love the two party system. Check out conservative commentator Charlie Sykes, I love the guy! He and many other conservatives see Trump for what he is, a narcissistic racist lazy gluttonous grifter. Sadly, their voices have been snuffed out within the new and devolving Republican mind-set. Self-righteous minds and angry hearts that have thrown away traditional conservative principles- limited government, free markets, individual liberty, respect and civility.

Trump and his pawns actually killed the old Republican party in pretty quick fashion. I actually miss it. He released a pandora's box of hate and discord that the majority of Americans were kind of getting a manageable lid on from our past history. Today, many Republicans are called RINO's (Republicans in name only). Yes, Trump even stole the name of the Grand Old Party. I miss the Howard Baker's. I miss the John McCain's. America needs the Adam Kinzinger's in congress, people who could communicate ideas, reach across the aisle, problem-solve. 

Back in 1963 it was all about race, common black people trying to get a fair shake in a society and system of justice where the blindfolded lady was heavily tipping the scale, not even close to a balance.

In 2023, the great experiment of Democracy sees the blindfolded lady of justice with a little more balanced scale these days. She's come a long way baby!

But, that does not sit well with the ol' OG powerbrokers . If justice and the balance of power are becoming more fair and accessible to all people, maybe it's time to unleash the MAGA pawns, to turn America on its head. Hey, what a wonderful new dirty trick from the likes of Roger Stone, "let's turn up to down and down to up." 

Trump's mantra ever since he came down the escalator is to pathologically lie about everything in manner that is the exact opposite of reality. Back in 1963, the boys on my block wouldn't hang with such a liar. We would have called him a "pussy, " smacked him on the side of the head, and told him, "Get outta here."

So Trumpy Dumpty speaks from his wall, and the MAGA faithful below follow, "Let's make truth nonsensical," where somehow MAGA's are now magically... oppressed!

On a walk this past Saturday, I was thinking about Trump and his cult followers as dinosaurs. People somehow suddenly hit by a new 21st century establishment meteor that's destroying their town's, their way of life, their very existence. So, I came up with an acronym for Trump and his doomsday flock, DINO's - Demigods In Nonsensical Oppression.

Sixty years later, the new upside-down liberal, "Deep State" is suddenly a transformed bunch of career government law enforcement employees conspiring against MAGA, because their cult leader has now 91(and counting) criminal charges in 4 indictments against him. So sad, from wealthy Swamp Thing powerbroker to victim.

The U.S. Department of Justice, traditionally made-up of many conservatives and former military personnel, are miraculously now a cabal of socialists? Didn't Senator Joe McCarthy already play that game way back in the 1950's where the government and Hollywood were secretly being run by a bunch of communists?

The radical right now say the "rule of law" is somehow inexplicably working against them. In 2023, Republican Presidential candidates in their lock-step jabberwocky, talk about the "Weaponization of the Department of Justice" as if they were now the oppressed people not getting a piece of the American pie. 

By God, what would Dr. King think about that? Yes, let's all revisit Dr. King's experience with the FBI.

Dr. King would probably LOL, and point out that that all eight of the Directors of the FBI have all been white and Republican, with the current Director, Christopher Wray appointed by President Trump himself in 2017. 

Whose conspiring against who? In 2023, the Federal Government still pretty much looks like a bunch of white men from 1963... still running the show. 

Oh that's right, I forgot, they're now all zombie elites trying to steal our children's minds in college and take away our country. We just might have to start a new civil war...


Who attacked the Capital on January 6, 2020 to try to overturn an American Presidential election? 

Does anybody remember The Weather Underground or Weathermen? The 1969 radical left must be turning over in its collective grave with such an unprecedented event to unseat Democracy. "Man... those little do nothing Antifa punks ain't got nothing on the Proud Boys!"

Wouldn't you just love to hear Dr. King speak to us in 2023. He'd cut right through the MAGA bullshit, "But a 160 years later..."

And maybe this 60 years later, in a blessed turn of events in time, he might also find some old gray-haired hippies, still listening to Dylan, now saying, "Hey man... America, love it or leave it!"

Dr. Martin Luther King's speech, I Have A Dream. 
Note -  The 17 minute 29 seconds time period here. I know you're busy, but please come back after you read my thing about Bob Dylan and listen to the whole speech. Bet you never heard the whole speech? Well, today is that day?

Bobby Dylan in 1963. 
He's becoming a big star. The folk world loves him, I would grow up to love him too. 

So, Medgar Evers gets shot and killed in June of 1963, and shortly after, Dylan writes and records, Only a Pawn in Their Gameabout the murder.

The lyrics attribute blame for the killing and other racial violence to the rich white politicians and authorities who manipulated poor whites into directing their anger and hatred at black people. The song suggests that Evers's killer does not deserve to be remembered by name in the annals of history, unlike the man he murdered ("They lowered him down as a king"), because he was "only a pawn in their game." Wikipedia

I personally came upon the song sometime in the 70's in college (where Ron DeSantis says my mind got corrupted). However, it really didn't register with me until sometime after 2015, when I started writing Monday Monday Music™ blog posts. 

Anyway, through the wonders of YouTube and AI, the song kept coming up in my YouTube feed as I was just having my own personal renaissance with Bob Dylan's music. Like many of Dylan's songs, people just can't believe that a young man in his early 20's could write the songs that he did. Well, this song is one of those songs.

The song's a history lesson. At the time and at the March on Washington it wasn't what you would call, "a hit." Sixty years later, I think it's one of most important songs ever written about America.

Again, take a few moments to read the lyrics here and listen to the song. For me, it's one of those enlightening moments when the past and present are a revolving circle. Don't be the weakest chess piece.

Only a Pawn in Their Game
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

Here is the live broadcast of the song on the March on Washington, August 28, 1963. 
However, I'm going to follow this by showing a previous live recording of the song performed by Mr. Dylan on July 26, 1963 at the Newport Folk Festival. It's stunning a performance, and the very definition of singer-songwriter.

Bob Dylan, Newport Folk Festival, July 26, 1963

An almost last note - This actually is my second run at Only a Pawn in Their Game, I guess you can tell this song's had an impact on me. Back in 2017, I took a similar approach with Mr. Trump while he was still President. Won't he ever go away? Here's that post-  A-Changin' History Lesson: Only a Pawn in Their Game

And finally a last note - Trump's mug shot last week. You can so tell he practiced and practiced for that look. Now the god's honest truth. When I first saw the picture passed around the universe, forever, I thought back to when I was first married, the first time. What?

My wife Pam and I lived in an older house where the garages were entered from the back alley. Our garage had a steep roof line. Well one night, a big rat from the alley was walking the top roof line, made a misstep and rolled straight down the roof and landed in one of our empty old metal trash cans, bang! That night, he made quite a racket. I feared that something had fallen in and was hoping it would be dead the next morning when I went to investigate. 

When I looked down into the dark bottom of the can, there was this mean old fat rat looking back up at me. That look is the exact look that Donald J. Trump wanted to show the world. For me, it just reminded me of that ol' cornered rat.

Monday, August 21, 2023

#NewMusicMonday • July-August, 2023

Americana. Folk. Rock 'n' Roll. 

Just when I think I won't find enough of the music that moves me, I find enough. 

In the playlist this week, you're going to hear lots of violin, mandolin, and acoustic guitar. There's more exciting Americana/Folk music being made today than Rock 'n' Roll, but Guided By Voices will be enough to mix up this mix.

If you remember Nickel Creek back in the 90's, they're back to deliver even more textured arrangements and vocals. Growing and evolving, that's what this playlist is about.

Andrew Bird's new album is wonderful. This guy just keeps getting more interesting. Same for Blake Mills. Layers and layers with these two. If you take the time to listen, your time will be well spent.

If you haven't heard of Maia Sharp, listen to her new album. Every song's a winner and in this playlist. How often does that happen? Well, I guess I did the same for Nickel Creek and Andrew Bird...

Enjoy the playlist my friends, there's enough to find some gems.

Monday, August 14, 2023

A Birthday Playlist

Here's a Happy Birthday shout out to lifelong friend and Beatles fan,
Paul Hobbs!

A Happy Birthday to my grandsons, Brendan and Drew who also love The Beatles and share this birthday date with Paul. I guess if you were born on August 14th, you were destined to be a Beatles fan.

Since Paul is also such a huge friend to Monday Monday Music™ with many contributions to my blogs over the years, I thought I'd put together some of Paul's favorite songs together in a playlist. Directly below the playlist, you'll find an embedded Spotify playlist Paul put together several years ago of his, Top 100. I of course have lifted many of the songs from that list here, but he don't mind.

Enjoy my friends!

Monday, August 07, 2023

Fifty Years of Music • August, 1973

Your everlasting summer and you can see it fading fast
So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last
Well, you wouldn't even know a diamond if you held it in your hand
The things you think are precious I can't understand. –Steely Dan

It's August 1973, I'm out of high school and about to start college at Allan Hancock Jr. College in Santa Maria. Yep, back in the day it was called, "Junior College." Looking forward to two years of, "You're not really in real college yet bucko!"

Well, it's still the summer and I'm having fun with my new girlfriend, Mary Kit. She graduated a year early, and to my great luck will be attending pretend college with me too! In reelin' in the years here, I can say... the weekend at the college really did turn out like we planned.

I'm seeing a bit less of the boys of summer, and they're wondering, "Where's Doug these days?" 

Ron dropping water balloons on our sisters from his rooftop while I pelt them from behind the stationwagon, riding bikes on 166, smoking the thin Erik filtered cigars on a starry night, Bill pushing me in his mom's wheelchair to Rexall, as (oh boy), I pretend to be handicapped, Gary buying us beer at Dino's, hangin' out in Paul's fort overlooking the garbanzo bean field, making whirlpools in my backyard circular pool, taking turns cranking and waiting to eat my mom's homemade peach ice cream.

"Yeah Doug's off with Mary Kit again, I think they drove to San Luis." We sure did love hanging out there. I have a wonderful memory of the two of us walking together in the downtown indoor network of wooden and brick shops, it was like a hippy mall. The smell of leather and incense. Now Cal Poly, that was a real university and a real college town.

Let's think this through, Cal Poly and 30 minutes from home, or maybe the five hour drive to San Diego State? We got time to plan our getaway...

Enjoy the playlist my friends.

Monday, July 31, 2023

#BestSongIHeardToday • Volume 25 • Here, There And Everywhere

On The Ed Sullivan Show there was this guy named Eric Brenn who had a fabulous act of "plate spinning." Everybody loved him and Ed had him on many times. This act became so popular that you've probably used a variation of this line- "Well, this week's really got me spinning the plates." I know I've said it over the years, so here I just put up a video clip of Mr. Brenn on Ed Sullivan. I guess it's been that kind of week, and managing my own balancing act...

Well nothing like a song to right the world. For me it's been The Beatles' Here, There And Everywhere, one of Paul's best. I first heard it on a run several weeks ago, then it started playing in my head, I then found three different versions of it on YouTube. Nothing unusual about that, as I often will fish up several versions of a song, keep one for the playlist and throw the other ones back into the sea of songs. This week in the playlist, I've kept all three. 

Here, There And Everywhere serves as a meditation, a musical potion to calm the mind, therapy for my soul. Thank you Mr. McCartney.

Then, I couldn't leave John out, so I paired him next to Paul, and there, everything is balanced here, there...

Enjoy the playlist my friends.

Monday, July 24, 2023

60 Years of Music • July, 1963 • From Seven Steps to Heaven to Wipe Out

It's an interesting mix of music for the month of July, 1963. On one hand you have the jazz vibe of Miles Davis with his classic album, Seven Steps to Heaven, and the soulful voice of Ray Charles' album, Ingredients in a Recipe for Soul. Mix that with instrumental surfer rock 'n' roll from the Surfaris, and homogenized folk from the Kingston Trio, and you have the diversity of music in America in the early 1960's. 

I now love it all, from my whitebread upbringing listening to pop on the radio, to appreciating the range of emotion that Ray Charles communicates in his voice. Ray has a whole different experience to share of America. His interpretations of standards such as Ol' Man River, Over The Rainbow, and You'll Never Walk Alone are incredible. Over the Rainbow for example, is one of the most over-covered songs in the history of music. As a black man and artist, Ray emotes, "Take a walk in my shoes America." It's now my favorite version. I would love to hear a "naked" version of this album. Take out the sappy strings and background harmonies so popular in 1950's and early 1960's recording arrangements, strip it down to an R&B band with Ray at the piano, and man that's an album a lot of people would want to hear in 2023.

Enjoy it all my friends. And rest in peace Tony Bennett, you and Ray can now sing together again... @ the Heavenly Club. Check out the bonus track at the end of the playlist.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Fifty Years of Music • July, 1973

Fifty years later, what holds up? Maybe by the summer of 1973, the albums coming out were a red flag that rock 'n' roll and R&B were morphing into slicker versions of their former selves from the 1960's.

In listing my rejection bullet points for this blog from July, 1973 in Music, it's kind of a bellwether for what's to come from my both sides now perspective as an 18 year old and 68 year old. 

  • 18+ minute songs from Cat Stevens and Jethro Tull. Sure artists are allowed to grow, but sometimes you miss their former hooks.
  • Elvis. Teenagers in 1973 were not listening to Elvis Presley. C'mon, pictures with Nixon, WTF.
  • New York Dolls. Only a few bands could really pull off glam.
  • Styx. The rock 'n' rock slick stuff, that just kept growing. So why do I like Queen here and not Styx? I don't know, I just always liked Queen, maybe a little more originality, creativity?
  • Barry Manilow. 1970's pop is getting so infected with these types of viruses.
  • 10cc. Clever little name for a rock 'n' roll band, that ended there.
  • Grand Funk Railroad. C'mon man, are you serious? Kiss is lurking too in 1973. My God, the horror!
  • Jim Croce. Folk has always had cornball singer-songwriters, I just didn't get into most of his songs.
  • Funkadelic. What's happening to R&B here?
  • West, Bruce, and Laing. They shoot horses don't they? 50 years later, it was hard to listen to their last album.

My more experienced ear is now more accepting to say the collaboration between John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana in Love Devotion Surrender.

The late 60's and early 70's had some wonderful western movies. In April 1973, the Eagles jump on that with Desperado, and I just loved Bob Dylan's soundtrack for Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Bob's big hit, Knockin' On Heaven's Door has always been a favorite of mine, and I just got into the soundtrack again this past week.

And I'll tell what really holds up 50 years later, Steely Dan.  A band that would help define the best of music in the 1970's and help carry the rock 'n' roll torch forward with their own unique sound.

Enjoy my friends.

Monday, July 10, 2023

#BestSongIHeardToday • Volume 24 • AI Squirrel

Okay, What's an AI Squirrel? For me, it's the right side column on YouTube populated with what YouTube thinks I might like to click on based on my most recent clicks. My typical pattern is to go to Youtube after listening to a good song I've recently heard on Amazon music. I'm listening to that video to determine if it's going to make my new playlist, and low and behold on my right there's another video by the same band or artist that looks even better than the video I'm currently watching, SQUIRREL! 

I think maybe this technology is making me attention deficit, I don't remember ever being so easily distracted. In any case maybe it's actually making for a better playlist. So a new pattern is emerging. I hear a great song on my trail run, come back to find a version of it on YouTube, and now about 40% of the time, pick something else from YouTube's right column. So, someday if my monthly #BestSongIHeardToday blog series gets renamed to AI Squirrel, you'll know that I've completely gone up that tree.