Saturday’s Theme Music

Well, this one is a baffler.

I’d fed the cats, done some dreamflecting, emptied the dishwasher (and put the stuff away), and was making breakfast (and writing in my head) when some neurons took a sidebar to discuss today’s theme music. Without any apparent deliberation, they decided it’d be “American Woman”.

Why? “That’s why,” they answered. My neurons can be so immature.

So now, “American Woman” is rumbling through my head. Which version? Oh, several. Lenny Kravitz led off, but the neurons switched back to the original version by The Guess Who (1970), followed by the Butthole Surfers’ cover (which is always interesting). In the end, the original led the way.

Here we go. I selected several of the versions as theme music at least once before, so this is a redux, but the neurons have spoken. Here we go.

Sunday’s Theme Music

It’s raining this weekend. I like a nice, solid rain, which is what we’ve received. Brew some coffee and chill with relaxing rain sounds. I shouldn’t be surprised that a song about rain entered the mental stream yesterday. That it was Bob Dylan and “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35″ surprised me.

I was finishing up shaving and such when I thought out of nowhere, what’s Bob Dylan’s real name? I came up with Zimmerman but took a few more seconds to remember Robert. And then the song began.

I used this song as theme music back in October, 2017. Its mocking, rambunctious nature always entertains me. The song came out in 1966. I was ten, so the song passed under my radar. But when I became aware of it a few years later, I thought, yeah, this is about getting high. After doing a paper for a pop culture class years later, I appreciated the play on words, how people are throwing stones at others for imagined slights.

Pretty appropriate for these years, in which stones are slung for every damn thing, right? Have a good one. Wear your mask. Enjoy life.

Friday’s Theme Music

When I was growing up in the sixties, music was usually heard on the AM bands on my transistor radio, bedroom radio/alarm clock, or in the car. This was augmented by Mom’s music on her console stereo, and my sisters’ music on the older sister’s portable phonograph. It was red and gray suitcase with a record player inside.

By the end of the sixties, we were listening to more sources, including cassette tapes and 8-tracks. FM was coming on a purveyor of pop culture, though.

Overseas in the military, I depended on the Armed Forces Radio and Television Services. We had a heavy dose of popular songs. I listened to some local radio but not understanding the language was often a turnoff.

By the time I returned to the United States from overseas for the last time, it’d all changed. CDs were on the scene. Digital and the net were rapidly emerging. Radio stations became more segmented. I had three primary music stations in the SF Bay Area. One each for alt rock, classic rock, and top forty rock, which included pop. I had buttons for country and western, young country, R&B, soul, rap, gospel, along with the news, sports, and talk stuff. It was an amazing plethora.

Yeah, just thinking and remembering, that’s all. Today is sooo different.

All of was triggered by Genesis as my theme choice yesterday. Early Genesis with Peter Gabriel was much different than Phil Collins’ Genesis but I enjoy both. Fascinating how Peter and Phil also found solo success, along with Mike Rutherford of Genesis.

As they were all on my mind, I’m going with another Phil choice. This one combines Phil Collins with Phil Bailey of Earth, Wind, and Fire. Here’s “Easy Lover” from 1984.

Wednesday’s Theme Music

I’m a pop child, you know? Born in ’56 in the United States in a lower middle-class household and living mostly in suburbs, I grew up as television and radio matured. When Mom cleaned house, she turned on her records and sang with them. Throughout the years, I heard her with Patsy Cline, Pat Boone, Johnny Cash and Johnny Rivers, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Chubby Checkers, Louis Armstrong, Tammy Lynette, Ray Charles, Johnny Mathis, Barbra Steisand, the Ink Spots and Four Platters, to list the ones that jump casually to mind.

Then there was big sis. Two years older than moi, she started listening to the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits, Simon and Garfunkel, and Grand Funk Railroad. Boys, interested in this attractive young woman and usually a year or two older than her, brought more music in, like the Spencer Davis Group, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, and David Bowie.

The radio was always on in the car, and I received small transistor radios from Japan as birthday gifts. AM radio gave me some bubble gum pop like the Osmonds, the Archies, and the Jackson Five, along with Elvis Presley, Glen Campbell, Don McLean, Steppenwolf, and the Temptations. We had the Bee Gees, the Rolling Stones, and The Who. Television brought along Ricky Nelson, the Monkees, and all manner of performers via variety shows like Ed Sullivan, Hullabaloo and American Bandstand. Movies got into it. Friends introduced me to Sly and the Family Stone and Three Dog Night.

I explored on my own as I aged, discovering Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Cream, ZZ Top, Mountain, Captain Beefheart, the Moody Blues, early Electric Light Orchestra before they became ELO. More performers came onto the scene, like Elton John.

That’s just a little taste. Music was everywhere then, as it is now, always on, part of the foreground and the background, part of the scene, a topic of conversation. All of this is just on the pop and rock side. Beyond it there was country and western, soul, rhythms and blues, and the blues, and all the offshoots and variations. Beyond the United States were vast seas of music to be found in other countries and continents. Concerts gave us destination. Dancing gave us dates.

Music enriched existence. Oddly, all this came from a 1977 Paul Simon song, “Slip Slidin’ Away”. Time has fled through the year. Whether it’s because the days are less structured or because the usual placeholders of American culture have been disrupted, it seems like time has accelerated. Here it is, already more than halfway through the tenth month of the year. Just two more months and ten days to 2020 remains before we’re kissing it’s ass good-bye and saying hello to 2021.

Yet, we have an open-ended agenda at this point. COVID-19 has disrupted normalcy. The U.S. elections are due. We’re into the thirty-first named storm of the ‘hurricane season’. Climatologists are predicting wilder, more violent, and less predictable weather. With all that’s happening, water and food security for many of the world’s creatures are being jeopardized.

So, you might see why I’m thinking of “Slip Slidin’ Away” might have slipped into my thinking. Opportunities, time, and hope seem to be slip slidin’ away. Some might claim that sanity and peace are, too.

Certainly, it feels to me, probably because where I am in life, the days seem like they’re slip slidin’ away.

Here’s the song. Yeah, it’s a repeat. Used it back in August, 2018. Wear a mask please. And as they once said to the point it became nauseating, have a nice day.

Sunday’s Theme Music

I’d been writing and reading yesterday. Returning to this world was like being a ball and having all my air slowly released. I felt disconnected and out of sync, and wanted to return to the book worlds.

There were things to do. Eating, errands, housework. When I drift off into the writing/reading world like this, my wife seems to grow annoyed. I suspect she wants me to do more around the house, be more social, talk more. This is how she defines humans and husbands, so I end up being short on both scales. I’m happy but she’s resentful. Or so it feels.

A song from my youth answered my thoughts. “Eight Miles High” by the Byrds came out in 1966. I was ten. Its psychedelic sound appealed to me back then. So did the lyrics, which come into play with my feelings.

Eight miles high, and when you touch down
You’ll find that it’s stranger than known

h/t to Genius.com

Yeah, I felt like I’d touched down, and it all seemed strange.

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.

 

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