Friday’s Theme Music

I’m in a mellow groove, brought on by a mellow mood. Thinking about how events shape emotions, and emotions shape logic, and logic shapes thinking, which translate to habits, behavior, and expectations.

This is connected to writing, sure, but to events in the U.S., and to politics, but even to myself, and how the events of my youth formed who I now am.

All of that propelled memories of some song lyrics.

“What? Really? Why, that’s unusual,” you probably thought.

I agree. (Despite my mellow mood, the snark is rising today.)

I saw the sign
And it opened up my eyes
I saw the sign
Life is demanding without understanding

I saw the sign
And it opened up my eyes
I saw the sign
No one’s gonna drag you up to get into the light where you belong
But where do you belong

h/t AZLyrics.com

When others’ thinking seems so off to us, we ponder, what’s wrong with them? What will it take to open their eyes? We rarely know what they’ve experienced. We might think we do, but that’s based on our own experiences, and whatever clues we can muster from their lives. That’s often rendered down to their appearance, actions, and circumstances, which is pretty damn shallow evidence. Things — lives — are frequently more convoluted than the surface that we see.

Anyway, here’s “The Sign” by the Ace of Base, 1993, a mellow song for a mellow, reflective, morning.

All Day

Great grandma McCune always talked in a cracking, laughing voice.  My five year old eyes padded her age to the neighborhood of a hundred.  Mom corrected me later.  We just called her Grandma or Grandma McCune, if clarification was required about which woman was being referenced.  Great grandma McCune was just eighty-six when she died, a petite woman with bright eyes and red lipstick who smelled like an unidentified powder and barely stood taller than me.  That’s why I liked her.  Despite her age, she was almost my height, never issued the usual adult intonations, and always canned and offered the best sugar plums around.

Walking down the cracked sidewalk in front of her Pittsburgh brownstone one June day, she seized my hand without a word.  Such an action alarmed me.  Mom always grabbed my hand to protect me.  Moving closer to Grandma McCune’s blowing white apron, I looked for the danger around the tree shaded street.

“Do you feel that?” she asked.

I didn’t know what she meant.

“Feel the air.  Smell it!”

Her commands kept me lost.  Beginning to think she might be the threat, I edged back.

She was smiling.  I never saw her not smiling.  Mom said that was an act for the children.  Betsy McCune, Mom told us, was a drinker, gambler, and cardshark.  She loved playing games and betting on the outcome, especially poker and pinochle, but she was known to throw dice.

Great grandma McCune bent down to me, a small effort.  “This is an All Day, a day when all the seasons are there.  It’s special, magical.  Don’t you smell the air?  Can’t you smell the winter?  Doesn’t it smell like it’s about to snow?  This is a special day that sometimes happens, when your mind knows it’s supposed to be summer and it’s summer sunny but the wind feels like fall and the air smells like a snowy winter but all around you are the full blossoms and greenery that only spring gives us.”

I didn’t know what she spoke of, being too young to understand her differences, but her comments marked my consciousness.  Her voiced words rose in me as I walked today.  “It’s a special day,” she’d said, “when all the weather is present, even if you don’t know it.  That makes it magical.  Close your eyes, turn in a circle and make a wish and your wish will come true.”

Back then, I did as told, wishing for her sugar plums.  I told her that after I’d finished the ritual.  Laughing, she seized my hand anew, tugging me forward.  “Then let’s make that dream come true.”

I would’ve wished for something more then but nothing came to my young mind.  I didn’t seem to have dreams.  War raged around the world and Mom and Dad were separated.  Protected by Mom and the family, I didn’t know those things and didn’t know I should wish for them, didn’t know that the woman with me that day would be dead a month later, didn’t know her sweet little dog, Brownie, would die a week after her, all things that I might have wished against.

Smelling the air today with its tingle of snow in my nose and fall’s feel in the wind despite the summer sun and the spring surroundings, I thought of many All Day wishes I could make.  Having never heard of All Day since my great grandmother told me about it on that early summer day, I thought I’d Google it.

The words had barely been typed in when I found myself on the street.  A powder fragrance teased my nose before a fall wind blew it away.  Struggling with orientation, I looked up and around as fabrics moved beside me.  “Did you make a wish?”

The female voice was high, old, and close.  Jerking as I heard, I whirled to see great grandma McCune.  She took my hand.  “Yes,” I said.  “I wished for sugar plums.”  How did I get here? I wanted to ask.

Grandma McCune laughed.  “Then let’s make that dream come true.”

A few minutes later, we finished the climb up the crumbling cement steps and across her narrow porch with its swinging chair.  Brownie arfed a greeting as she scrabbled down the hall.  The outside screen door creaked protest as Grandma McCune opened it and she told Brownie to get down and behave.  Feet thumping on the wooden floor, we stepped into the cool front hall where the air smelled of dust.  Framed photographic portraits hung on the wall above my head, photos I’d seen many times but would never see again.  Her husband, who I’d never met, a police offer who died of a heart attack, was in the largest portrait, encircled by the rest.

“Let’s get you those sugar plums,” Grandma McCune said.

Excited, I ran ahead of her into her tiny sunsplashed yellow kitchen with Brownie at my heels.  I knew where the glass jars were kept in the pantry but knew I was not to touch them, for Grandma McCune feared I’d drop it.  Stopping at the white door, I held still and looked back at her.

“Can you get a jar for me?” she asked.  “Do you think you’re big enough?”

I nodded an answer.

“Okay, then, get me a jar but please be careful.  Get back, Brownie, give him some room.”

Using utmost caution, I opened the door.  The handle was a reach for my short arm and the tarnished brass handle dwarfed my chubby fingers.  Pulling it open was an elaborate ritual of hanging on and backing up until I achieved enough clearance to push the door further back.

Ahead were the shiny, dusty Ball jars of stewed tomatoes, green beans, bread and butter pickles and sugar plums.  Finding one of the last, I hauled the quart jar carefully forward, wrapping my arms around it and bringing its cool surface into my chest to safeguard the treasure.

“Good,” my great grandmother said.  “Take it over to the table.”

I did, precariously managing to push it up and onto the surface.  Grandma McCune took over, opening the jar, telling me about how she’d learned to can sugar plums when she was a little girl, learning at her grandmother’s elbow.  Finding spoons and bowls, she gave us each a serving.  “Sit down and eat it,” she said.

I did, relishing the taste as I spooned it into my mouth —

“Hello?”

Blinking, I looked up and around the noisy coffee shop.  Jim was grinning down at me.  “Where was your mind?  I’ve been standing here for about three minutes.”

I looked at the Google page on m computer screen.  No results found.  “I was just remembering something,” I said.

“Well, whatever it was, you were deep in thought.”  He touched the side of his grinning mouth.  “You have a little something on your face.”

Putting my hand up, I found something wet, pulled my fingers away and stared at the little juicy fragment on my finger tip.

“What is that?” Jim asked.

Smiling, I replied, “It’s a little taste of magic.”  I put it in my mouth, holding it on my tongue before swallowing.  “Just some sugar plums I had earlier.”

“Sugar plums, huh?  I haven’t had one of those in years.  Well, see you later.  Go back to your memory.”

Jim wandered off, leaving me to gaze out the window.

Some days really are magical.

 

– originally published June, 2014.

Saturday’s Theme Music

It’s spin back Saturday!

Woke up with The Who’s rock opera, Tommy, in my mind’s center hall. Then the two song medley, “See Me, Feel Me/Listening to You” (1969) goes on loop.

It’s an appropriate song when thinking about the cults of politics percolating around the world, especially of the great wing type, especially of the Trump cult. It’s in sharper focus for me because that’s my country. I hear and read the staggering knots and twists employed to justify supporting him to the detriment of everything that matters, unless you’re white, wealthy, and male. The Evangelicals, Blacks, and women who support me startle me, but this medley seems to illuminate their position.

On the one hand, you have Trump – Tommy – isolated and self-centered, emotionally distant. Where the analogy collapses is Tommy knows his state and wants healed; Trump is blissfully unaware of himself and doesn’t want healed. He doesn’t know he’s sick. Feeding his base, he doesn’t see himself as sick.

Then you have the base. The comparison with Tommy shines here.

Listening to you I get the music
Gazing at you I get the heat
Following you I climb the mountain
I get excitement at your feet

Right behind you I see the millions
On you I see the glory
From you I get opinions
From you I get the story

Listening to you I get the music
Gazing at you I get the heat
Following you I climb the mountain
I get excitement at your feet

h/t to Genius.com

Decided to post the Woodstock video as it captures the essence of that time in rock. Have a listen, please, and as they say in America, “Have a nice day.”

 

 

 

Sunday’s Theme Music

Went out at eleven last night. Cool and clear under a sharp moon and a starry blanket, it was the type of night that prompts enthusiastic prose.

A shooting star whizzed past, gladdening me. I always view them as a good omen. Back inside, I fed cats and replenished food and water bowls. Then, putting away the laundry, a 1967 Boyce & Hart song tottered in.

Yes, this was my Saturday night. I don’t know why “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight” came out of the memory jukebox.

You might know of Boyce & Hart as the duo behind much of the Monkees. It’s a convoluted pop episode involving TV and Bob Kirschner, but this is definitely a song from another era.

Maybe that’s why it spoke to me on a quiet Saturday night.

 

Floof in Chains

Floof in Chains (floofinition) – American flock rock (flock) band formed in Seattle in the late 1980s. Initially identified with stray music, the band rose to international fame and then gained commercial success.

In use: “Sometimes shortened to FIC, Floof in Chains scored it first major hit with “Flooster”, a song the vocalist wrote about his father.”

Tuesday’s Theme Music

Rolled out of bed (leaving a cat behind) still thinking about a dream. Then pondered, what is today’s theme music?

Brain Alexa said, “Playing, ‘I’ve Got the Music in Me’.”

I said, “Who is it by?”

No answer.

“What year did it come out?”

No answer.

Had to wiki that stuff to learn that it was the Kiki Dee Band who released it in 1974.

There are some uplifting lyrics.

Ain’t got no trouble in my life,
No foolish dream to make me cry.
I’m never frightened or worried,
I know I’ll always get by.
I heat up (I heat up)
I cool down (I cool down)
When something gets in my way I go round it.
Don’t let life get me down
Gonna take life the way that I found it.

CHORUS
I got the music in me
I got the music in me
I got the music in me
I got the music in me
I got the music in me
I got the music in me

They say that life is a circle (circle)
But that ain’t the way that I’ve found it.
Gonna move in a straight line (ooh)
Keeping my feet firmly on the ground.
I heat up (I heat up)
I cool down (I cool down)
I got words in my head so I say them.
Don’t let life get me down,
Catch a hold of my blues and just play them.

CHORUS

Feel funky

Feel good
Gonna tell ya
I’m in the neighbourhood
Gonna fly like a bird on the wing
Hold on to your hat honey,
Sing, sing, sing, sing
Heat up, cool down (cool down)
I got words in my head so I say them
Don’t let life get me down (Don’t let it get ya down)
Catch a hold of my blues and just play them.

CHORUS 2x

Ain’t got no trouble in my life,
No foolish dream to make me cry.
I’m never frightened I’m never worried,
I know, I know I’ll always get by.

CHORUS 2x

I got the music
Pretty music
I got the music
In me

Don’t let it get ya down
Don’t let it get ya down
Don’t let it get you down
Don’t let it get ya down
Don’t let it get ya down
Don’t let it get you down
Ha, ha, ha, ha

h/t to Metrolyrics.com

Sunday’s Theme Music

So…

Contrary to world expectations, I’ve been, um, feeling good? How else can it be put, but I’ve been experiencing a rising sense of hope and optimism. It permeates everything I’m doing and thinking.

Rationally, I can’t account for it. I can say that I’m less stressed because I’m not out there socializing and fighting traffic. I can attribute it to kind weather gods; May, June, and July have been pleasantly mild for the most part, keeping anxieties about wildfires and smoke tamped.

But then there’s COVID-19 and what it’s doing to the world. And there was the death of a sweet, shy cousin, too young, just fifty-one, dead from cancer, leaving two sons behind, succumbing to the disease after a four year struggle. In my mind, she remains bright-eyed and smiling with an impish impulse.

And there was Dad, being rushed to the hospital mid-week, Dad who is rarely sick but has a full metal jacket of stents (installed a few years ago) and moderate CPOD. He is almost eighty-eight, though, so there’s always expectations and worries. We are talking about the life train. It always pulls in at the same final stop.

Writing, though, has been a wonderful escape, of course, taking me on an unexpected ride as the characters evolve and the story goes in directions that I didn’t expect. That’s always a pleasure, innit? A good writing day can propel you over many obstacles.

So…

Feeling good. Optimistic, hopeful, even joyous.

Against this backdrop, I’m hearing “Bell Bottom Blues” by Eric Clapton (1971). Two aspects of the song stay on a loop in my head: “I don’t want to fade away,” and “I don’t want to lose this feeling.”

No, I don’t want to lose this feeling. It’s too good. I wish I could package it and share for free with everyone in the world. Others should know these sensations. They’re powerful stimulants.

Enough of my babbling. Here’s the music, a later live acoustic version that I think does more justice to the song.

Saturday: Four Things

There has to be four things today because it’s the Fourth of July, Independence Day in the U.S., right? 

  1. Best fourth of July celebration for me is the first one with my wife. She wasn’t my wife or girlfriend yet. I was fifteen and she was fourteen, and she was just a girl I’d just met a few days before. Yep, just a smart, long-haired girl who captured my attention from the first time I saw her. Fortunately, I had the same impact on her, she claims. Guess it was fate.
  2. I subscribe to the Hulu service with commercial breaks. I don’t like spending money on streaming services. They’re an indulgence, so I try to minimize the cost. I’m watching two shows on Hulu, “Cardinal” and “Justified” (again), so I don’t think it’s worth paying more for it. They’re like an awkward, gamboling puppy with their commercial breaks, erupting in odd points in a scene (butchering the tension or mood). They usually show two or three commercials, and they usually cut off , and then cutting off the last twelve seconds of the final commercial. If I was that advertiser, I’d be demanding better service. My cynical aspect (which occupies about ninety percent of my mind) suggest Hulu does their breaks deliberately to motivate me to pay a few more dollars a month to avoid commercial breaks.
  3. Watched Hamilton on Disney Plus last night. Had the captions on, and it’s a good thing. It’s a continuous flow of life, song, revelations, and relationships, and worth every damn piece of praise that I’ve read or heard. I recommend it to you so you can witness for yourself.
  4. Gonna be a mellow day in spirit. I’m going for a walk in a little while…after I write. A pair of jets did a flyby to mark the moment when the parade would’ve begun but there are no parades in town, although our friend and state rep did a singleton parade. Pam Marsh wears the Statue of Liberty outfit every year, has for years. The mask is new…so is the Black Lives Matter sign…and the coronavirus on a chain… We’ve watched the town parade from her front year for the past ten years. It’s a potluck where everyone attending brings a food or drink. We’ll miss the parade but Pam is carrying the torch for it (yeah, get it?). We’re fortunate to have such an intelligent, energetic, and concerned person as our friend and rep. Did I mention her sense of humor?Pam July 4

Yeah, got my coffee. Yes, it’s a holiday, and it’s time to write like crazy, at least one more time…

Saturday’s Theme Music

I’m full of memories today. Birthday is tomorrow and today is a holiday. Both, though, pale because they remind me of meeting my wife.

Which, because I was fifteen and she was fourteen (we married four years later), reminds me of my youth, and the way life was for me. Sort of interesting. My parents were divorced. I lived in Pittsburgh, PA, with Mom. Dad, in the Air Force and newly returned from Germany, was stationed in Ohio. They generously accepted my request to live with him, leading me to meet my wife. She was my Dad’s best friend’s daughter.

Which brings me to us, almost fifty years later. But those are other tales. We’re here for the music today.

Since the memory jukebox has landed in 1971, I selected a song from that time. There are a lot of great tunes but “Me and Bobby McGee” has wedged itself into the stream. Although written by Kris Kristofferson and originally sung by Roger Miller, I like the Janis Joplin cover best, as much for her style as for its impact as a marker in my life.

Enjoy the music.

 

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