Monday, March 25, 2024

#NewMusicMonday • March, 2024 • Failing Forward

Embrace adversity and make failure a regular part of your life. If you're not failing, you're probably not really moving forward. –John C. Maxwell

Hey, make this t-shirt, I know a gal!
This past week I was in Palm Springs at the annual CUE (Computing Using Educators) Conference. I have been going to this conference, well... before the invention of the Internet. Back in the 1980's through early 2000's, we as computing using educator's could only dream about every student having a laptop in their backpack. 

At some point in the 2010's, the tipping point was happening. From teachers having one desktop computer in their class, it evolved into teachers having a whole locking cart of classroom laptops, to each individual student having their own laptop assigned to them like a textbook, that they could take home.

As teachers, we keep pushing forward, stumbling and falling with slow-moving leaders, but always advocating for the integration of technology across the K-12 curriculum. Attending the conference this year, I realized many of the teacher's present were actually the school children growing up in a digital world where "digital access" became well... expected.

Fomcore - Rock'n Roller @ CUE
I was at the conference this year working with my colleagues at
D&D Learning Spaces to push that same envelope with mobile and modular furniture (and technology) for the classroom. As a reader, you may be unaware that the same furniture that young students used in the 80's and 90's, are now grown tax paying adults, and their own children are still using that same crappy furniture. So today, we have 21st technology in classrooms with school furniture purchased when Ronald Reagan was President. A bit of a disconnect from the world of work, and the concept of project-based learning. And, that tipping point in public school classrooms is probably another good 5 -10 years out. Hey, but teachers can dream, and they can act.

So, I'm in my exhibitor space, talking with teachers who say, "I guess I could dream about getting this cool furniture in my class someday." Then, I see a teacher in his 30's walk by with a black t-shirt with the phrase, "Failing Forward" in white letters on the front. I just smile. Here's a teacher coming to this conference to learn new things, make mistakes, and change young people's lives for the better. 

My motto in life is a line taken from The Beatles song, Hey Jude,
"Take a sad song and make it better."

Now think of yourself. How will you fail this month and year to ultimately achieve a series of steps to success? 

As JD Souther says in his wonderful song, Little Victories,
I know it hurt sometimes to look around
The sameness of it beats you down
And the best seems all behind
Before you start

Little victories
I know you need one
Little victories


Now the playlist this week has nothing to do with my post above, and that's kind of my way in life these days. I bounce around with different passions and often conflate things like school furniture and rock 'n' roll together. 

Whistle while you work my friends. Enjoy the playlist.


Monday, March 18, 2024

#BestSongIHeardToday • Volume 29 • Suffering WTF (With Trump Fatigue)

 Portrait by court sketch artist, Isabelle Brourman

I got tension. How many nights can you watch the news and see Trump somehow slither through the United States of America's legal justice system year in and year out. I don't know if there has been anyone who has had so many trial dates (91 Federal counts) kicked down the road more than slippery Donald. It has to be the ultimate example of "elitist" treatment ever given to anyone in American history. I've had it, I'm now taking a 30 day vacation from cable news. I'm worn out.

I got tension. I put my news watching on hold and switched to sports, specifically basketball. Trouble is I'm a San Diego State Aztec and Golden State Warrior fan. These two teams currently make me talk at the TV! I thought I was going to have a relaxing time here watching some basketball over Trump. Believe it or not, these two teams are driving me just as crazy with their ups and downs, hot and cold... the inconsistency is so hard to watch. I need a vacation from these two teams. I'm worn out.

I got tension. I recently finished watching, True Detective: Night Country (HBO), mr.&mrs.smith (Amazon Prime), and Masters of the Air (Apple +). All these shows (great by the way) have got me so stressed out. I somehow get sucked in, care way too much for all the leading characters, it's just too much. I'm worn out. What's next, something stress-free: a rock 'n' roll documentary, PBS's Nature, maybe Pee Wee's Playhouse?

I've got a feeling, a feeling deep inside, oh yeah. 
Then, I go to my happy place of looking and listening to music. Nothing like listening to old and new tunes, some just audio, some with video and then, making a playlist over time. 

The playlist this week has actually gone through several iterations of change that probably is only interesting to me. Now its' time to bring it out. Who's going to listen to it? Maybe find one song that makes them smile, maybe remember a moment in time. I got no tension, I'm energized. 

New Blog Feature - Notes
Starting this week, below the playlist, I'm going to have three sections that you may be interested in beyond, or a little deeper dive past my 30 second to 3 minute reads.
  1. 🖇 Blog References 
  2. 🖊 Blog Notes
  3. ♬ Playlist Notes
Enjoy the playlist my friends.

🖇 Blog References
🖊 Blog Notes
  1. My wife, Mary Kit walks into the kitchen this past week with the TV droning about another Trump court case delayed and says to me, "I got Trump fatigue." We started our vacation from cable news together that day. Don't tell her, but I did sneak a news peak after she went to bed, instantly regretted it, and flipped the channel.
  2. This past Saturday, the San Diego State Aztecs basketball team lost in the Mountain West Tournament Finals to New Mexico 68-61. Expect more madness when they enter the NCAA Tournament. Last year, they had a spectacular over-achieving run all the way to a loss in the NCAA Finals. This year, nah (he's just so pessimistic).
  3. This past Saturday, the Warriors beat the Lakers 128-121. The Lakers center, Anthony Davis caught an elbow to the eye in the first quarter and had to leave the game. Lucky break for the Warriors as Davis would have blocked the paint, prevented all the easy scores, and the Lakers probably would have beat the Warriors easily (he's just so so pessimistic). 
  4. The paragraph about the TV shows is an embellishment. Nothing like watching great a series or movie in the Lazy Boy with the gas fireplace on. Last night I watched Nyad (Netflix). Tense, but wonderful! I highly recommend all the shows I've shared this week.
♬ Playlist Notes
  1. I'm doing a run and Tension by Todd Snider comes on, and another blog post is born.
  2. I wake up Saturday singing, I've Got a Feeling in my head and it's suddenly song two.
  3. Seven Bridges Road was the natural lead-in song for the playlist and stayed there for a month until Todd's song came along and bumped it to number 3. Now Seven Bridges Road is probably saying to itself, "WTF man, I'm always the first song in any Eagles concert."

Monday, March 11, 2024

60 Years of Music • February-March, 1964 • The Times They Are A-Changin'

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
The battle outside ragin'
Will soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'
3rd Verse, The Times They Are A-Changin' –Bob Dylan


It's been too hard living
But I'm afraid to die
'Cause I don't know what's up there
Beyond the sky
It's been a long
A long time coming, but I know
A change gon' come
Oh yes, it will
3rd verse, A Change is Gonna Come –Sam Cooke


History has a way of circling back. Just when we think we have left behind-
  • fascism back in the 1930 and 40's;
  • disability and death by viruses back in the 50's;
  • racial hate back in the 60's;
  • Roe vs Wade back in the 70's;
  • evangelicals working to destroy the separation of church and state back in the 80's;
  • a cad, running again for President without a moral center, like another cad President back in the 90's;
  • and, authoritarians bombing and invading their neighbors land, like well... forever.
I can go on, but you get the point. America probably has always been two-steps forward, and one-step back. Now the one-steppers back, want to take it all the way back to the mythical 1950's, where power and control would be restored to a white majority culture.

Bob Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changin' has always been one of my favorite Bob Dylan albums. The lead song is one of the greatest songs of all-time. The entire album is a somber protest as the artist's lyrics are pure poetry raising social consciousness through the medium of folk music. In recent years, I have been enraptured by Dylan's early years, especially concert footage and audio capturing the passion of his voice delivering the song to a hushed audience taking in every word and verse.

Two other songs are to me even more outstanding. First, With God on Our Side, an anti-war song written by such a young man about America having the Christian moral high ground over other countries. It smacks directly at millions of Americans upbringing, and surely mine, brought down to the level that the Little League's team prayer was somehow going to translate into a winning score.

The next is, Only a Pawn in their Game. Dylan sings truth to power about America in his pure clarity of racism and political manipulation of the powerful to the isolated, poor, and uneducated. The song is as relevant today, maybe substitute a George Floyd-like killing mixed with our current political divide, and we surely can dust off this song for a fresh listen.

Sam Cooke recorded his last album, Ain't That Good News released in February 1964, as he would be tragically shot dead in December by a hotel clerk in a bizarre set of circumstances involving a woman who he had taken to a hotel in Los Angeles.

Ain't That Good News is a wonderful mix of fun songs with the very serious, A Change is gonna Come which would come to be the enduring anthem of the 1960's civil rights movement. The song's first verse-

I was born by the river
In a little tent
Oh, and just like the river, I've been running
Ever since

simply opens you up to his experience, an experience where hate and hard times were some day going to be better, because the alternative could not be tolerated any longer. The theme of "we're not ever going back to that again," is a people's determination and history lesson all in a song. 

I never realized that The Times They Are A-Changin' and A Change is gonna Come, would be released only eight days from each other in February, 1964. Sixty years later, they came together for me and this little blog. In fact, this past week of listening to music in this time period helped shape for me three themes about popular music of that time.

Think of the first six songs here as two-set themes of the early 1960's in music.
  1. The Times They Are A-Changin' and A Change is gonna Come, represent social change and the emergence of the "protest song" or statement songs with a clear message about our society.

  2. Glad All Over (The Dave Clark Five), and Fun, Fun, Fun (The Beach Boys), represent fun simple rock 'n' roll love songs. (The Beach Boys also needed to start putting teens in cars because only so many people could geographically get to the beach.)

  3. Anyone Who Had a Heart (matching Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick), and The Girl From Ipanema (matching American saxophonist Stan Getz and Brazilian guitarist João Gilberto, featuring the vocals of Astrud Gilberto.) These two songs represent the transition from 50's popular standards songs mostly sung by males, to 60's pop songs influenced by R&B, soul, jazz, rock 'n' roll, women singers, and even world culture like the bossa nova.
Like last week's blog, musically the culture is saying, "goodbye" to the previous decade, and "hello" to a new order. Enjoy the playlist my friends!

References and Resources

1964 in music
- Wikipedia. Available at:, Last accessed 11th March 2024

Ain't That Good News (album)
- Wikipedia. Available at:, Last accessed 11th March 2024

Sam Cooke - Wikipedia. Available at:, Last accessed 11th March 2024

The Times They Are a-Changin' (Bob Dylan album) - Wikipedia. Available at:, Last accessed 11th March 2024

Tolsen,. Billboard Hot 100™. Available at:, Last accessed 11th March 2024

Monday, March 04, 2024

Fifty Years of Music • February-March 1974 • Goodbye the 60's, hello the 70's

Musically, the 1960's died in 1971, okay let's stretch it to 1972. In 1969 I entered high school, and by 1973 when I graduated from high school, a new iteration of rock 'n' roll was well underway. In 1974 as I started college, many of the bands that I call, "Tier 1 bands" were either gone (e.g. The Beatles, Cream, Jimi Hendrix), or bands still going like The Rolling Stones and The Who, were sharing radio time with a whole slew of new bands that I call "Tier 2 and 3 bands."

Music is such a personal preference, even akin to a religious experience. Like religion or faith, I would never get into anybody's grill about their "taste" in music. The popular music of one's time in middle school and high school will often be the defining years that shapes one's taste in music for a lifetime.

For example, my brother and sister are twins and just 2-1/2 years younger than me, and my other sister is 10 years younger than me. My whole musical experience of being a 6th-12th grader in the 60's-early 70's I feel was much different than my siblings.

I'm certainly not going to knock them if they like Aerosmith, Kansas or Rush, it was simply the music more in their grade school years, than mine.

Believe me, there were tons of crappy bands and artists in the 1960's, but I found my groove with folk and "jingle-jangle" bands like The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield that really shaped my musical tastes.

By 1974, there's slicker and smoother versions of rock 'n' roll being produced in my opinion, and in looking through Wikipedia's 1974 in Music for February and March, you may see the transition too. (Note- I have pasted these Wikipedia lists at the bottom of this post.)

I want to also mention a couple of other events that shaped how I looked at artist's as once heroes, to now-not so much, or not at all. The first example actually happens in February, 1974 with the release of Seals and Crofts, Unborn Child. This is where Seals and Crofts crosses that line between their religious beliefs and telling others how to live their lives as they think you should. Unborn Child is a song told from the perspective of an aborted fetus, really? Here's the 1974 album cover of I guess, a sad embryo? Well they not only lost me as a fan, but I guess a whole generation of Roe v. Wade young people. The duo never recovered from this song and this album, and their future albums would never put them back in the limelight. 

For this record, Seals and Crofts won the "Keep Her in Her Place" award from the National Organization for Women (tying with Paul Anka for his recording of "(You're) Having My Baby") during "its annual putdown of male chauvinism" in the media on Women's Equality Day. Wikipedia

The second event that rocked me with a musical hero was in 1989. Here is a clip from the New York Times. LONDON, May 22 -- The musician known as Cat Stevens said in a British television program to be broadcast next week that rather than go to a demonstration to burn an effigy of the author Salman Rushdie, ''I would have hoped that it'd be the real thing.''

The singer, who adopted the name Yusuf Islam when he converted to Islam, made the remark during a panel discussion of British reactions to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's call for Mr. Rushdie to be killed for allegedly blaspheming Islam in his best-selling novel ''The Satanic Verses.'' He also said that if Mr. Rushdie turned up at his doorstep looking for help, ''I might ring somebody who might do more damage to him than he would like.''

''I'd try to phone the Ayatollah Khomeini and tell him exactly where this man is,'' said Mr. Islam, who watched a preview of the program today and said in an interview that he stood by his comments.
Craig R. Whitney, May 23, 1989, New York Times.

In the playlist this week, I include Cat Steven's, Budda and the Chocolate Box, an album I simply loved and played all the time in 1974. When this news came out, I was incensed, and I guess both Seals and Crofts and Cat Stevens were the first artists I could say that I "cancelled" in the 20th century. 

But please, enjoy the many spiritually influenced 1974 songs from Budda and the Chocolate Box, as I guess Steven's Peace Train vibe was all a ruse, and his message of love and peace had left the station.

Let's move on to something more positive, and a band that like so many other people, we didn't discover when we needed to in 1974, Big Star. I personally found Big Star a couple of years ago through the 2012 documentary, Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me  (Here is the link on Amazon Prime.)

Radio City is their second album. Rolling Stone has included their first three albums in their Top 500 Albums of All-Time. I'm not going to get into their backstory here but I highly recommend you watch the documentary and check out these three albums - 

Enjoy the playlist my friends, and I didn't even mention the Eagles and Steely Dan, touring together 50 years later on the Eagles, The Long Goodbye Final Tour.

Wikipedia's 1974 in Music, February and March album release listings