Saturday’s Theme Music

Today’s song, “It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It)” came out in 1974. I consider this song part of the theme music for my eighteenth year of life. I graduated high school, turned eighteen years old, and joined the U.S. Air Force in 1974. I think the song celebrates my attitude toward rock and roll; it’s just music, but —

I use the song for references, to celebrate, and to time-travel through memories as surely as Marcel Proust’s madeleines. I know it’s only rock and roll, and not significant in many universal schemes (although there’s a potential story, there, isn’t there, about how rock and roll changes things?), but I like it.

The song’s opening, too, offers exasperated questioning about the past and new expectations.

If I could stick my pen in my heart
And spill it all over the stage
Would it satisfy ya, would it slide on by ya
Would you think the boy is strange? Ain’t he strange?

h/t to AZlyrics.com

I’ve found that opening question appropriate for my life. What will it take to satisfy the bosses, lovers, friends, family, and gods? Each employs a different measuring system. The tricks are to find what works, what annoys them and causes me enough pain to avoid doing it again, and then monitor it all for changes – ’cause change is, like, you know, probable. Beyond all that shit, it’s a great song to sing to my stream as I walk or drive on my lonesome.

 

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Sunday’s Theme Music

Nathaniel Taylor, an actor who I knew from his role as Rollo on “Sanford and Son”, passed away a few days ago. He was eighty.

Many actors, politicians, writers, and sports and rock stars have passed away throughout my lifetime, along with cats, friends, family members, and people that I didn’t know. Some of them were killed in ways that we don’t like to think about.

Nathaniel Taylor’s death was another death. We all understand that death is gonna get us. Now, what happens beyond the door that death opens, well, we don’t know. We have a lot of theories, and we think that we have intangible proof that once we die, that’s it, game over. Then again, many ancient people believed that the sun revolved around the Earth, until we learned how to prove otherwise.

The death of someone who acted on a show when I was young triggered a stream of thought about how time seems to pass and prompted me to think, wow, 1969 was fifty years ago. Ain’t that somethin’?

Not really, right? It’s as arbitrary as weather in March, 2019, predictable but still surprising. Thinking ’bout all that nonsense kindled reflections on the music from then. Pop goes the song and out came the Rolling Stones with “Honky Tonk Women”.

Seems ’bout right.

Wednesday’s Theme Music

I started streaming this song today, and then started flipping between various versions that I knew.

“Route 66” by Bobby Troup seems to capture or convey something elemental that people like to sing. He wrote the song while driving cross-country with his wife. His lyrics are the foundations for multiple interpretations, from Nat King Cole to John Mayer, with a chunk of people in between. I happened to start with the Depeche Mode cover today, and then popped into the Mayer version before jumping back to Nat King Cole and then then the Stones. It’s intriguing how each performer adjusts it to their style and era of music. As fascinating as all of that, Route 66 features powerfully in the Steinbeck novel, The Grapes of Wrath. 

Enjoy them all, a celebration of a classic road and a classic song, “Route 66”, about a road that barely still exists.

Nat King Cole

Bobby Troup – the composer.

Chuck Berry

 

The Stones

 

Depeche Mode

 

John Mayer

Saturday’s Theme Music

Surfing my thoughts this morning as I thought of my dream and tended my dream, I began streaming a Rolling Stones song, “Beast of Burden” (1978). I always considered the song a defiant protest song, but also a pondering reflection of relationships’ complexities, asking at its base, what does it take?

This was in direct response to dealing with Quinn. I was giving him his meds. He doesn’t like them, and hides in anticipation of receiving them. Giving them to him is a small battle,  but with experience, I’ve developed a winning technique. Afterward, Quinn takes off and hides from me, distrusting my approach. Yet, he returns in a little while, looking to me for comfort and food.

As an aside, the meds seem to be doing as hoped. His energy levels have gone up and he seems less miserable. While he’d been declining, he’d stopped grooming himself, and had lost his voice. Yesterday, I saw him wash his face after eating for the first time in weeks, and today, he’d found his meow, and his tall was pointed up in classic Quinn fashion when we went into the room for me to feed him.

So I’m hopeful, but I usually am.

Thursday’s Theme Music

Well, this was a weird stream. I was reading about the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election campaign for president when I came across the term crossfire hurricane. The FBI used it as a code name for the investigation. The Wayback Machine immediately fired up a stream from a 1969 Rolling Stones hit called “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”. The first line that I remembered went, “I was born in a crossfire hurricane.”

I think the song’s beginning is terrific. One, two.

 

Wednesday’s Theme Music

So, reading and listening to news reports (“He was only shot three times in the back, not eight, with three shots in his side” — doesn’t change that he was armed only with his cell phone and was in his own backyard), an old Rolling Stones song started streaming through my mind.

The police in New York City
They chased a boy right through the park
In a case of mistaken identity
They put a bullet through his heart

Heartbreakers with your forty four
I wanna tear your world apart
You heart breaker with your forty four
I wanna tear your world apart

h/t Lyricsfreak.com

This song was released in 1973, over forty years ago. Pathetic how little has changed, with police shooting black men for little or no probable cause in America, a trend that’s being carried over to homeowners, who fear fourteen-year-old black boys asking for directions. Sad. Sickening.

Here it is, with the bizarre title “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” by the Rolling Stones, from 1973.

Saturday’s Theme Music

I’ve always enjoyed this song’s beginning. A chorus, a softly strumming acoustic guitar, and then a gentle French horn, each remarkable by themselves but coming together to set you up in an introspective mood.

When I first heard it, I thought, “Is that a French horn? Who is playing it?” Because a French horn isn’t part of the Rolling Stones’ typical composition. Later, there’s organ and piano, and wondered, “Who is on those?” I learned it was Al Kooper on them, along with the French horn. Pretty cool.

The song is, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” a well-known Rolling Stones song from that terrific album, Let It Bleed. I like the song’s story-telling style, how it touches on different political and social elements of that period, rising rises from a reflection on a female addict into a rousing anthem for rebellion and struggle.

You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need

h/t AZLyrics.com

It’s a stirring rallying cry: try, and you might find that you get what you need, and it may not be what you thought it was.

Thursday’s Theme Music

The opening words to this song streamed through my thoughts last Saturday, when I participated in a women’s march in Medford.

Everywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy
‘Cause summer’s here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy

Hey! think the time is right for a palace revolution, but where I live the game to play is compromise solution

Hey, said my name is called Disturbance; I’ll shout and scream, I’ll kill the King, I’ll rail at all his servants

h/t to Wikipedia.org for lyric and historic context

Of course, when I thought of this song, it was winter, and I was in a women’s march, organized by women to remind the POTUS and America that they’re here and displeased, and want to continue the agenda of change in America that’s been going on, an agenda that includes equality regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation or preference, religion, ethnicity, skin color, and many other things that America claims to be free and equal about.

It was ironic, and a little disappointing when thinking of protest songs, that “Street Fighting Man” came to mind. Where’s the street fighting women? I was surrounded by them.

Mick Jagger said that events in the United States and France inspired the song when he wrote it. It seems like an indictment of the pervasive male oriented society that only men were mentioned from that era of protests in the 1960s. Despite its inherent sexism, the song, with its driven rocking beat and discordant sitar and guitars, is a powerful protest anthem, powerful enough that Chicago radio stations didn’t play it in the summer of 1968, fearful that it would incite more rebellion and violence in a city that was already struggling with the violence emerging in the shadow of Democratic National Convention as anti-war protesters and police clashed.

Stream forward through time a few years, and the publication of the Pentagon Papers display the American Government’s hypocrisy and cynicism, a reminder that emerges through the recent film, “The Post.” Watching that film, the calls for change and to shake up business as usual sharpen with understanding, along with the bitter taste arising from the belief that our government, no matter which party dominants, is failing us. Those parties apply lip-service to our demands, but their actions often sustain the status quo and business as usual. Most Americans want change, but often split about the shape of change desired. It’s the struggle of democracy. The path seems clear, but it’s messy an slippery.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

~ Frederick Douglass

That’s why I joined those women and marched to demand change. I want change. I served in the American military to forward the ideals of freedom, democracy, and equality, with the simple truth that all people are created equal. I slowly learned how those words and sentiments are often more of a propaganda slogan and less of a governing ideal, and that many people, including our leaders, lack the principles and moral courage to fully embrace the ideals behind these words.

In the song, Mick asks, “What else can a poor boy do,” and adds, “There’s no place for a street fighting man,” a suggestion about the frustrations of limited options.

What a wheel of history we ride.

Friday’s Theme Music

Boy, do I remember first hearing this song.

Nineteen sixty-nine, thirteen years old. The Rolling Stones were one of the hottest, biggest rock groups around. And this song, “Gimme Shelter,” stopped me with its opening. Haunting, arresting, it gave me pause to hear what was going to come next, revealing intense, moody, and angry lyrics.

Just like nineteen sixty-nine.

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