Back in early June, I did a post on Jimmy Buffett and his Parrothead phenomena. At that time, I downloaded his new “album”, Bama Breeze, from iTunes. I knew, immediately, when I heard the title track that it was about the FloraBama. The Last Great American Roadhouse.
Just last week, Jimmy hisself gave confirmation that indeed, yes, the song was written about the FloraBama. The video he produced for the song, however, had a more general message regarding the destruction along the Gulf Coast of dozens of FloraBamas.
As I’ve previously mentioned, Jimmy Buffett grew up in Mobile, AL. He attended St. Ignatius Catholic Elementary School and later, McGill-Toolen Catholic High School. His parents lived “over the bay” until their deaths in recent years, and his sister, Lucy (Lulu) owns Lulu’s at the Homeport at the base of the Intercoastal Bridge in Gulf Shores. Matter of fact, Jimmy refers to “Lulu” singing Freebird in Bama Breeze and she actually performs that part in the video.
The Buffetts are no strangers to “storms”. When you live on the Gulf Coast, a/k/a “Deep South”, it’s a way of life. Sometimes you go years with nary a scare of a storm, and then sometimes you have to endure six or seven “hits”. Even with the dangers each year, the majority of folks who reside from Corpus Christi, TX to Key West, FL wouldn’t live anywhere else.
Sadly, any time a “storm” is in the Gulf of Mexico, multiple areas usually feel the effects. Living in the central portion of the Gulf Coast, we’re always “in the line of fire”. I grew up 30 miles off the coast of Louisiana and went through ONE category 5 storm, Hurricane Andrew, back in 1991 when we were living in Baton Rouge. Everything before that (nearly 30 years), was limited to the inconvenience of lack of power and air conditioning for a brief period, but little else.
While Hurricane Katrina exposed the ultimate vulnerability with the flood of New Orleans and the suffering that it brought, many Gulf Coast cities and towns have suffered similiar tragic consequences but are not etched in the minds of most Americans. The Mississippi Gulf Coast of Gulfport and Biloxi was annihilated by Hurricane Camille. Hurricane Audrey drowned hundreds in Cameron Parish, Louisiana. Mobile took five years to recover from Hurricane Frederick. And Homestead, FL will likely never be the same after Hurricane Andrew.
Among the casualties of these storms are the landmarks of our lives. Places like Annie’s Restaurant in Waveland, MS; Circle Grocery in New Orleans; and yes, the irrepressible icon of Alabama and Northwest Florida — the FloraBama. While the destroyed bar from which Jimmy performs in Bama Breeze is/was actually The Fire Dog Saloon in Bay St. Louis, MS; that is basically what the FloraBama looked like after Ivan.
Here is a before and after of the World Famous Mullet Toss held annually in April at the Flora Bama:
While much of the dunes and sea grasses were destroyed, the Mullet Toss — and the FloraBama — is alive and well, a testament to the nature of the Gulf Coast inhabitants. The FloraBama is more than just a beach “dive”. It’s one of those places where there’s always good music, cold beer and no judgment. It’s a vacation spot to let loose and just be. The echoes of laughter, the smell of stale beer and the feeling of freedom continue to permeate through this oddly wonderful icon of the Gulf Coast. Although not totally rebuilt, the hodge-podge of tents, roofs and buildings are certainly “good ’nuff” to still be the jewel of the “Redneck Riviera”.
A very inconspicuous date. Never gave it much thought. In 1989, all I wanted to do was hurry up and get married. Mr. D. and I had been dating for two years and were really ready to officially become man and wife. We decided to move the wedding date from late October to September. My brother was getting married on September 16th, so in deference to them, we chose 9/30/1989.
Since it was a second wedding for both of us, we kept it very simple. Yet, it was lovely. We honeymooned in Colorado, then came home to start our official life together.
Although Mr. D. had two – basically grown – boys, I convinced him that our life just wouldn’t be complete without a child between the two of us. After a little while and at the age of 42, he relented. After we had been married just over a year, we found out that we were going to have a baby. Although he was due on October 16th, our ever impatient boy made his debut on our 2nd wedding anniversary — September 30th, 1991.
So, today — on our 18th anniversary — our baby turns 16….just as he turned 3 on our 5th, 7 on our 10th, 13 on our 15th and as he will turn 18 on our 20th, 23 on our 25th and so on, and so on…
Very few people are lucky enough or blessed enough in this life to find their soul mate. Though we are years apart, our worlds are aligned. There are no words or song that can ever capture what we have been blessed with…however, these somewhat capture the emotion that I have for my ever-patient and loving husband who is still my best friend. Believe it or not, each of these songs has a special meaning to us.
The Game of Love, The Mindbenders
I’ve Been Lovin’ You, Otis Redding
I Love You (For Sentimental Reasons), Nat “King” Cole
Sugar Shack, Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs
Always, Patsy Cline
And then, there’s our progeny…
The photo was taken on Saturday. Our baby is in the early stages of manhood. It’s exhilarating– yet painful– to watch. We are rarely needed anymore and are just playing out the last few years that we’ll have him completely in our lives. Even through his “teenage angst”, thoughtfulness and caring peep through. He is a good boy….um, man.
These selections are for our son, who has truly brought us such joy:
Beautiful Boy, John Lennon
Child of Mine, Carole King
In My Life, The Beatles
…..I guess you could say that September 30th is very special.
ETA: Tigers provide cardiac arrhythmia in the first half, then awaken to find their stride. Looking ahead to Florida, nearly proved deadly.
Mike the Tiger does not make the road trip to The Big Easy.
LSU 34, Tulane 9
Intrastate battle this Saturday, when LSU travels an hour down the road to New Orleans to take on the Tulane Green Wave. A 40 point favorite, LSU is expected to log an easy win. The tigers are introducing a special uniform for the occasion. After the game, these uniforms will be auctioned off with the proceeds to benefit Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
The pelican emblem is designed to reflect a Phoenix, rising from the ashes. Tigers helmet and pants are usually gold, so the white is a bit of an adjustment. Sort of Minnesota Vikings….
While it’s quite exciting to be 4-0 with a #2 ranking, it’s not a whole lot of fun going in to play a team that hasn’t beaten you for 25 years and that you are favored to beat by 40 points.
Hopefully, LSU will take care of business without unduly humiliating “The Greenies” and don’t start looking ahead to Florida, next week.
In the meantime, here’s a little more information on Roscoe Mike VI.
Colette, I hadn’t thought about Goin’ Back in a long time but it sure fits now.
I think I’m goin’ back
To the things I learned so well in my youth
I think I’m returning to
Those days when I was young enough to know the truth
Now there are no games
To only pass the time
No more electric trains
No more trees to climb
But thinking young and growing older is no sin
And I can play the game of life to win
Listening to Amy Winehouse’s poignant cover of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” got me remembering that songwriter Carole King is a national treasure.
What the big commercial pop music field currently lacks (and even the indies, to a lesser degree) are songwriters of King’s caliber and sheer joy. Sampling indelible tunes she wrote with Gerry Goffin and other partners, and by herself, I’m reminded that King not only can craft songs with hooks that snag your ear forever, but that her odes usually express simple yet profoundly sincere and genuine emotions anyone can relate to.
Her songs have been as important to the early 1960s girl-and-guy- groups era , as to the folk-rock and soul performers she wrote for later. And her own career as a performer, beginning in the 1970s with the masterful album “Tapestry,” has given us the woman behind the music.
Carole King grew up in New York City and her high school sweetheart was Neil Sedaka, another nifty songwriter who became a teen fave pop star in the early 1960s. (One of his hits is a song about her, “Oh, Carole!” and she wrote a song in response: “Oh Neil!”)
With her subsequent boyfriend (later husband) and musical partner Gerry Goffin , Carole was in her early 20s when she became part of the famous pop song factory that was based in Manhattan’s Brill Building.
Sixties pop, as we know it, would have been unimaginable without these prolific scribes. Like fellow tunesmiths Leiber and Stoller, Doc Pomus, Bert Bacharach and others writing songs for the likes of Elvis, the Drifters, Dionne Warwick, etc., Carole and Gerry churned out dozens of recorded tunes, including a lot of chartbuster classics.
Some were just catchy ditties, but their best material had a special heartfelt appeal, mingling R & B (many fans mistakenly thought Carole was black when her own records began playing on the radio) with cheery uptempo pop of a very high grade. These songs are timeless, and were turned into hits by recording artists as diverse as The Monkees and the Byrds, the Beatles and Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin and James Taylor.
Many songs from all stages of Carole’s career are proudly, positively woman-centered. They aren’t about crying in your malted milk after being ditched, or stealing some guy from your best friend, but about getting caught up in the wonder of love, thrilled by someone’s effect on your heart, and aware of your own power as a “natural woman.”
One of Carole King’s first big hits was “One Fine Day,” a little charmer that was a smash for The Chiffons, a black girl group — catch that “shoobie doobie doobie” choral backup:
Here’s Carole exuberantly singing the same tune, playing the piano riff from the Chiffons single:
Another fabulous King tune from the same era, “Up on the Roof,” poignantly evokes the youthful pleasures of New York City on a balmy summer evening. The Drifters recorded it first:
Years later, James Taylor (a very close friend of King’s) slowed down the melody, and gave it a tender treatment that always puts me in the zone. I’m with you, MM: JT rules!
Except, oh Lordy, you gotta hear native New York songbird, Laura Nyro, wrap her pipes around “Up on the Roof.” She lives on that roof, baby – “where the air is fresh and sweet”…..
From the same period this is a beautiful King- Goffin song that has one of the best titles of any pop tune ever: “Some Kind of Wonderful.” It describes that blissful, intoxicating delight of a new love. I adore this version by Peter Cincotti, a gifted, young jazz pianist and singer who swings it a little while keeping the lovestruck awe intact:
Carole could dash off a fun novelty tune in her sleep. This one, “The Locomotion,” just makes you want to get up and boogie in Little Eva’s original take – here Eva sings it, with lots of gyrating back-up dancers, on “Shindig”:
This has to be one of the trippiest covers of “The Locomotion” from an Asian TV music show….
As the whole British Invasion thing picked up steam, Carole had major hits in that arena too. I only just discovered that she and Gerry wrote this swampy ol’ blues shout for Eric Burden and the Animals -
And I’m a sucker for this bouncy little ode that was a hit for Herman’s Hermits, another British Invasion combo with that disarming fella Peter Noone (before he got his teeth fixed) — Love the refrain: “Something tells me I’m into something good….”
This is a lesser known King song that is really meaningful to me. It’s about longing to reclaim one’s innocence, and was on one of the first Byrds albums. Can’t find that version, but I’m delighted by this one by Nils Lofgren, a jumpin’ piano player and guitarist with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. His feathery vocals (nice with the rollicking piano) capture the wistfulness of the lyrics, which have more meaning for me now – “Thinkin’ young and growin’ older/That ain’t no sin…..”
Many rate “You’ve Got a Friend” as Carole’s best song – certainly it’s one of her best-known, thanks first to JT. That aura of melancholy mingled with gratitude just gets to you. An older, maybe wiser, certainly less hairy JT is doing it here, with his usual brilliance, and woosh – there I am back in 1970-whatever. Has there ever been a better song about tried-and-true friendship? I lost my best friend from high school this year, and this song is for him:
And what a treat: a rare live audio of the great Donny Hathaway singing “You’ve Got a Friend.” What a tasty, tasty version:
Speaking of DH: I didn’t quite get on the Elliot Yamin bandwagon during last year’s American Idol frenzy, but I’m enjoying him lately. “You’ve Got a Friend” suits that slippery, soulful voice of his just fine. Jumpy fan video, but good sound:
Nothing, for me, beats this next King classic: I’m talkin’ about “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” First time I heard it I just thought, “That’s it! That’s it! – that’s what a powerful love can do for a woman, release her naturalness and get right down to the roots of her soul. “
Every diva worth her high C’s has recorded it, often with way too many vocal accessorizing for my taste. (Yes, Celine and Mary K and Kelly, I am talkin’ to you ladies!) So pardon me, there are only two versions I can bear to hear.
This first is the definitive one by the Queen of Soul from the late 1960s. The divine young Madam Ree is sneaking up on the song, building to a climax and then sinking into a velvety harmonized ending. (Note that her sister Carolyn, is a backup singer here.) It’s the passionate simplicity I love, so much more than others’ vocal gymnastics:
The other potent version is by Carole King herself. Her voice is craggy, but she sings straight from the heart:
Finally, we circle back to the Carole King classic that started this homage: “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” It was written for The Shirelles, another girl group who still sound hip:
And I gotta give Amy Winehouse her props on this one: she sings the hell out of this tune. Hey, Amy, don’t self-destruct! Stick around, make great music, have a couple of kids and a productive, real life like Carole King (now 65!) has had. If you do, we’ll still love you tomorrow:
So, it’s official. I am “released” from the doctor’s care. I’m still limping a little, but me and my new hardware are adjusting. Thought y’all might get a kick out of seeing the x-ray. If you look closely, just to the right of third screw from the top, you can see the fracture.
It’s been a long, hot summer that I’m glad is over. Hopefully, the healing process will continue and I can be back playing golf next spring. I’m still a little apprehensive about shifting weight onto my right leg, but I’m sure confidence will return over time.
In honor of my “independence”, here are a few musical selections:
In the early to mid ’70s, the band was king. The South, in particular, turned out some earth-shattering new sounds that forever changed popular music. What was it that turned small-town boys born in the idyllic 50′s into the “rebels” of the ’70s? Was it the rapid descent of trust in the establishment after JFK’s assassination? Was it the disillusionment of their older brothers and friends going off and dying in Vietnam? Was it the influence of the counterculture instructing them to “turn on, tune in, and drop out”?
Whatever the cause, the South produced some dynamically talented bands who proved themselves capable musicians and, in many cases, insightful poets. With hair to their waists, mustaches and goatees, and hip-huggin’ bell bottoms, they hit the road…hard, converting the young masses in the process.
There were so many great ones that came out of that decade, but here are a few of my favorites. None of these, with the exception of Z Z Top, are in tact anymore, but through the magic of video and audio, they are preserved.
We’re an American Band, Grand Funk Railroad
Tobacco Road, Edgar Winter
Rock & Roll Hoochie Coo, Johnny Winter
FreeBird, Lynyrd Skynyrd
Can’t You See, Marshall Tucker Band
Born on the Bayou, Creedence Clearwater Revival
Shame On You, Wet Willie
Midnight Rider, The Allman Brothers
Spooky, Atlanta Rhythm Section
Jim Dandy to the Rescue, Black Oak Arkansas
Smokin’ in the Boys Room, Brownsville Station
Tuff Enuff, Fabulous Thunderbirds
If You Want to Get to Heaven, Ozark Mountain Daredevils
Because I feel like it….and it’s in my Top 10 all-time favorites.
Van the Man, from Moondance
Van Morrison Live
Not the easiest song to cover, but this is the best one I’ve heard.
Jakob Dylan and the Wallflowers
We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won as we sailed into the mystic
Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic
And when that fog horn blows I will be coming home
And when the fog horn blows I want to hear it
I don’t have to fear it
And I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And magnificently we will flow into the mystic
When that fog horn blows you know I will be coming home
And when that fog horn whistle blows I got to hear it
I don’t have to fear it
And I want to rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And together we will flow into the mystic
Come on girl…
This weekend, I’m heading north a bit to attend my nephew’s wedding. Now, normally that’s not too much of a story…but this is a special situation. You see, his mother — my sister — and her husband are both profoundly deaf.
Together, they have raised five children — all hearing. The three older girls were his from a first marriage and the two younger boys are theirs together. This handsome young man is the elder of those two boys and my godchild. He was born two months premature in 1981. He was just a wee sprite but even in the NICU, he responded to the music the nurses played to soothe the tiny infants. After five weeks he came home and in eight short months he had a baby brother. That baby grew up to be a Speech Pathologist that works with stroke victims, teaching them to speak again.
His big brother, however, never had such a calling. While he diligently handled his parents’ business dealings and ordered for everyone when they went out to eat, he found music to be his calling when he was about 10 years old. He knew, even then, that this had to be his life. The “muses” kept calling him…so strongly that he ended up teaching himself trombone, trumpet, piano and guitar. He became an all-state tenor in high school and went to college on a music scholarship. He worked so hard to improve his craft and made extra money as the music minister and organist at two different churches each weekend. (I am not kidding, here.)
Over the years, I have had the privilege of hearing him sing at my grandmother’s 100th birthday party and then five days later at her funeral. The birthday party was four days after 9/11 and this fine young boy initiated a version of God Bless America among the hundred or so party-goers (fiercely Cajun and fiercely American). Goosebumps.
Right after Hurricane Katrina, he again amazed us by singing and playing for my father’s (his namesake) funeral. I still cannot hear How Great Thou Art without getting choked up at the thought of that moment. My Daddy was SOOOO proud of his grandchildren. To have his oldest grandson pay him such an honor surely made his heart sing.
Through music, he met a lovely young lady who is equally talented and loves him unequivocally. Their lives are surrounded by music and they are pursuing their passions. He is teaching middle school music while pursuing a Masters in Music, while his fiancee’ just received her undergraduate degree in Music with the intention of teaching, as well. His long-term goal is to become a conductor. He is working on a requiem mass for his parents so that when they are finally able to hear his music, it will all be in perfect harmony.
I’m still in awe of this young man and his brother and all they’ve accomplished despite adversity. I am so proud of them and what they’re doing with their lives. It’s so poignant to me that these two boys are involved in things that their parents can’t partake in. (However, I must add that my sister is the best dancer I have ever seen.)
Mr. D. and I will be celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary next week (on Mini DD’s birthday) and seeing this young couple so in love and dedicated to each other while they chase their dreams is a sweet reminder of why we did what we did so many years ago.
And, for this young groom, I am ecstatic that music has brought him love, in multiple forms.