Monday, February 27, 2023

#NewMusicMonday • February, 2023

Within a genre of music you're going to encounter, sameness. As a big fan of rock 'n' roll back in the 60's and 70's there were always the imitators. This continues today as many young artists fall into the stereotypical pattern of sameness all trying to relight that spark of familiar hits by previous artists. 

In listening to modern streaming genre playlists with titles like, "Fresh Folk," "Emerging Americana," and "All New Indie," I find that they just seem to perpetuate homogenous grouping of young artists and their niche songs. I'm totally showing my age here, but how many solo droning self-indulgent "smelly cat" artists can there be on a new songs streaming playlist? This past week I kept saying to myself, where have all the bands gone?

In any event, it's getting to be a bit of a grind, as I don't have the time I did a few years ago to do a deep dive hunt for rock 'n' roll and Americana and put a monthly 50+ playlist together. So I'm going to just roll with it. If it takes me two or three months to put a worthy new playlist together with a little musical diversity, then that's where I'm at with my taste in music in 2023. 

There are so many young talented artists I have discovered for myself in the past eight years and shared with my dedicated little group of Monday Monday listeners that I will alway keep this #NewMusicMonday series going. So even though I'm basically saying that the new gems are further distanced from each other these days, it's probably the same feeling I had back in the late 1970's too.

Enjoy my friends. There's people like (header above left to right) Andrew Bird, Bonny Light Horseman, Joy Oladokun, The Lemon Twigs, Caitlin Rose, and (below them) the Milk Carton Kids out there making great new music.

Monday, February 20, 2023

60 Years of Music • February, 1963

We got a couple of big debut rock 'n' roll albums coming next month, but in this journey of 1960's music we are going to encounter albums in months like this. I call these albums, "Under the Influence" to the up and coming stars of the 1960's who had their musical roots in the 1940's and 50's of popular music. These songs embody the fabulous popular singers, musicals and movie scores, soul, R&B and jazz of the time. The mix is all American. As an 8 year old in 1963, these eclectic vibes would not be appreciated until I got older, but they were absorbed instantly and are forever in my soul. Hearing these songs sixty years later, I easily slip into my childhood Chuck Taylor Converse All-Star sneakers and Sony transistor radio.

In listening to the albums of February, 1963 I got a sense that the songs of that time have a door opening with one foot in the 1950's and one stepping into the 1960's.

In 2018, I finally got to see Paul Simon and it was an exceptional evening. One song that I will always remember from that concert was Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War. The song gives tribute to some of Simon's 1950's heroes of R&B harmony- 

Rene and Georgette Magritte
With their dog after the war
Returned to their hotel suite
And they unlocked the door
Easily losing their evening clothes
They danced by the light of the moon

The deep forbidden music
They'd been longing for
Rene and Georgette Magritte
With their dog after the war

So in listening to music of February 1963, this Paul Simon song came rushing up to me. It may seem a bit out of place to put this video here, but maybe you'll get my connection after hearing this song, maybe not. From my experience, the song's a link to 1950's R&B and the appreciation of the sweet harmonies that so greatly influenced a young Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.

Enjoy the playlist my friends, it will take you back.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Trilogy of Love

This post just kind of came together in my head after hearing about a father's illness, and then my thoughts about family love.

After hearing about this illness, three songs appeared to me in a clear sequence. I'm not a scriptwriter, but I saw these songs as three connected themes that could provide a treatment or outline for a story or movie.

The first song is Father and Daughter by Paul Simon. It's song is about Simon's hopes and dreams for his daughter Lulu who was seven years old at the time he wrote it. I'm a father of two daughters, two step-daughters, a daughter in law and four granddaughters. The song is an ongoing favorite of mine that keeps its relevance to me from Simon's first recording of it in 2002 for the animated film, The Wild Thornberrys Movie.

Father and Daughter

If you ever awake
In the mirror of a bad dream
And for a fraction of a second,
You can't remember where you are
Just open your window
And follow your memories
To the meadow in the mountain
Where we counted every falling star
I believe the light that shines on you
Will shine on you forever
And though I can't guarantee there's nothing scary
Hidin' under your bed
I'm gonna
Stand guard
Like the postcard
Of the golden retriever
And never leave
'Til I leave you
With a sweet dream in your head
I'm gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you always know
As long as one and one is two
Ooh ooh
There could never be a father
Love his daughter more than I love you
Trust your intuition
It's just like going fishin'
You cast your line and
Hope you get a bite
But you don't need to waste your time
Worryin' about the marketplace
Trying to help the human race
Struggling to survive
It's as harsh as night
I'm gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you always know
As long as one and one is two
Ooh ooh
There could never be a father
Love his daughter more than I love you
I'm gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you always know
As long as one and one is two
Ooh ooh
There could never be a father
Love his daughter more than I love you

I picked this live version because it's done so wonderfully, but also was recorded with Paul having a few less hairs and a few more gray hairs on his head.

The second song is Blue Heron by Sarah Jarosz written in 2021 for the album, Blue Heron Suite. This album and song struck a chord with me as Sarah reflects on the many walks with her mother on the southern coast line and their sightings of blue herons. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017 (now in full remission in 2021).

In a 2021 interview in Paste magazine Sarah states, “I’m very symbol-oriented, and a lot of that comes from my mom. She’s the one who believes in good omens and bad omens and all these personal things. And the blue heron has always been a good-omen symbol for her and for our family, so I kind of gravitated toward that symbol pretty naturally.”

In 2021, my wife had a new medical condition for a short time. Coincidentally, One day on a walk together through our neighborhood I spotted an actual size 3D replica of a blue heron in a front bay window of a house. I thought, "Now that's a very interesting display." I told my wife, Mary Kit that this random walk-by was a sign of fantastic good luck for her and told her about Sarah Jarosz and her mother. For the next several weeks on our walks, we made it a habit to walk by that bay window and feel the blue heron's positive vibe. Several months later, Mary Kit's condition was gone. 

Blue Heron

We were walking
On the coastline
And I wondered
If this could be the last time
Then I took your
Fragile hand into mine
And we talked of
All the good times

It was early
Morning sunrise
When we caught that
Shimmering in her eyes
And she told us
Everything would be fine
And we walked together
In the low tide

Blue heron
Flying overhead
Keeping watch over you
Blue heron
Standing on the shore
While we wandered all along
That southern coastline
We were walking
On the coastline
And you told me
It wouldn't be the last time
Then I took your strong hand into mine
And we walked together in the low tide

Blue heron
Flying overhead
Keeping watch over you
Blue heron
Standing on the shore
You never know if there'll be more
So we'll wander all along
The southern coastline

The third song is Life According to Raechel by Madison Cunningham from her 2022 album, Revealer. However, I first heard this song in January of 2021 as she put it up on YouTube as a Covid home recording. I then put it on a #NewMusicMonday post and my friend, Paul Hobbs went bonkers over this song. Needless to say, we're now both big fans of hers, but it was Paul's great ear to get me back listening to this song many times, on a much deeper level. 

Life According To Raechel is a very personal song about Madison's grandmother passing. Madison has now sung this song many times on various media outlets and TV talk shows and for me, it was my favorite song of 2022. 

Ever hear a song that makes you cry no matter how many times you've heard it, well Life According to Raechel does that to me. I can now get through the album recording and TV versions, but that first home demo is the take for me, it slays me everytime. 

It also completes a life cycle through song of this little trilogy of love.

Life According To Raechel

Once your girl
I'm always your girl
When I'm here or when I'm there
Or on a plane headed somewhere

You were staring down the cars
Hoping it would be one of ours
Children and grandchildren writing you cards
But how long were you waiting for me
To make a left down your street?

It's not if, darling it's when
Was there something left unsaid?
Were your eyes green, were they blue?
What was it that I forgot to ask you?
Busy hands, I'll set 'em down
To say I love you right out loud
I'll bet you're making heaven laugh
But it feels like tears and memories are all we have

Once I knew it
I was always a know it all
Too busy too stressed out
To take your call
Thought I would always find you there
Sitting in your TV chair
While time is in a bar having a laugh somewhere
The nurse said you were waiting for me
To let go, to let it be

It's not if, darling it's when
There's always something left unsaid
Were your eyes green, were they blue?
What was it that I forgot to ask you?
Busy hands, I'll set 'em down
To say I love you here and now
Did God need a new lead in his band?
When this world and its people
Are all we have

Once your girl
I'm always your girl

Happy Valentine's Day love to our families.

Monday, February 06, 2023

#BestSongIHeardToday • Volume 19 - Another Team Tortoise Episode

I love to run and have been doing it fairly consistently since I was 18 years old. Now it's a slow jog, I call it "slogging." I can't remember when I created this graphic, but it was back when I was still running half marathons. I don't do that now.

But, I still pick em up and put them down at about 4.3 miles per hour. See, I had some foresight with this Team Tortoise concept. Not that it was something I would grow (or slow) into, I was never a hare. It's more of a lifestyle thing, Team Tortoise... in the long run of life. I even still have the website I created way back when, Team

What brings me back to another Team Tortoise episode is my latest slogging gear item, something I never heard of before until I did an Amazon search... a bump cap.

A bump cap is a light-weight plastic skull cap helmet hiding inside a baseball style hat. (Here's a link on Amazon $21, I got the blue long-billed one.) It's used primarily in industry jobs where a hard hat isn't required, like this mechanic working under a car in a repair shop. Or, like when you're working in your attic with a sloped ceiling, and the language you use when you bump your head on a wooden beam. Bet you wish you had this appropriately named cap on your head in that kind of situation.

I bought one like the fellow here, but it's not for working on cars, it's what I'm calling, my "joggin noggin." See I run in a canyon trail near my house filled with embedded rocks sticking up from the dirt that every now and then act like little snipers, tripping me up and taking me down.

So now my Team Tortoise get-up is complete with a protective-like tortoise shell, just like my slow mascot friend. I've taken it out on a couple of runs and it breathes fairly well, but with a bit more sweat too. I don't care, it has an adjustable safety snug fit with a little more of a conehead look than I'd like. From the vanity perspective, it beats wearing a bicycle helmet and some wiseguy on the trail saying, "Did you lose your bike?" This weekend, with the sun at my back and my shadow ahead of me, I looked like an oversized (Laffit Pencay Jr.) in a jockey helmet riding a retired Budweiser Clydesdale. 

Wait, I hear trumpets and an announcer over a PA... 
"And now for the 3rd race at this year's Del Mar Boomers Cup is Dough Boy slowly lining up in the last stall... And they're off with a lively field getting a fast start... Oh and I must say, they're leaving poor Dough Boy in a cloud of dust and YouTube music videos."

In talking to buddy Ron Zieman about this a couple of weeks ago, we both  agreed that our future official old man walking outfit might look something like this.

Shut up and enjoy the playlist my friends.