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Category Archives: through the years

“One Small Step…”

moon-walk-49807-sw

40 years ago today, the now infamous Neil Armstrong uttered those famous words and in doing so, declared a de facto victory in the “space race” and fulfilling JFK’s goal of putting a man in space by the end of the decade.

I was nearly five years old when Armstrong took those fateful steps and it is one of my earliest memories.  Oddly, I remember watching it on that big, old console TV with Walter Cronkite commenting.

It was one of those “American” moments where everyone comes together for common support, regardless of affiliation.  Like the 1980 USA Hockey Team vs. USSR and the days after 911, Americans were united in their awe and pride during these sweltering days of July four decades ago.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have such a commonality again, for something so positive? 

There’s just something about that big old light in the sky that inspires, with music being no exception.  Over the years, many a song have been dedicated to the moon and its alluring and romantic qualities.  In honor of the moon and man’s seeming conquering of it 40 years ago, here is Music Maven’s Moon Playlist:

  Fly Me to the Moon, Frank Sinatra

  Paper Moon, Nat King Cole

  Blue Moon of Kentucky, Patsy Cline

  Harvest Moon, Leon Redbone

  Moon River, Audrey Hepburn (“Breakfast @ Tiffany’s”)

  Moondance, covered by Michael Buble’ because Van Morrison is an anti-internet Nazi

  Bad Moon Rising, Creedence Clearwater Revival

  Moonshadow, Cat Stevens

  Yellow Moon, The Neville Brothers

  Shame on the Moon, Bob Seger

  Dancin’ in the Moonlight, King Harvest

  Cajun Moon, Ricky Skaggs

 
8 Comments

Posted by on July 20, 2009 in on this day, through the years

 

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26 years…

  Leather & Lace, Stevie Nicks & Don Henley

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 12, 2008 in that's life, through the years

 

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Libra Dragons Rule!

 

  House of the Rising Sun, The Animals

  Oh! Pretty Woman, Roy Orbison

  Leader of the Pack, Shangra-Las

  SHINDIG!

>>>1964<<<

 
5 Comments

Posted by on September 24, 2008 in oldies, on this day, that's life, through the years

 

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1968

1968.

The watershed year when the future angrily separated itself from the past. The world at large experienced radical change in this short trip around the sun. There are just some “pivot” years that thrust the door wide open and barge through with the winds of change. Years that provide excruciating tragedy accompanied with euphoric triumphs that set the tone for decades to come. 1968 was definitely one of those years.

Forty years ago today, Robert Kennedy died from gunshot wounds suffered when was gunned down the day before in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in San Francisco. It was seemingly the boot that kicked the door in and escorted the “the revolution” of change through the portal.

I turned four in the fall of 1968 and one of my first vivid memories was of the day Robert Kennedy died. My young mind couldn’t fully understand the weight of the situation, but I had a distinct feeling that things were dire….and there was a shift of some sorts happening.

Each night, after my father came home from his business, we all sat in the living room while my mother cooked supper and watched Walter Cronkite on “the news”. I vividly remember the riots, the war, the dogs, the water hoses, the crying and the desperation coming from all three channels of that big console TV.

And, like the soundtrack in an epic movie, music provided the backdrop. To be sure, music and musicians were as affected by the times and ’68 provided the metamorphosis from the safe, idealistic music of doo-wop and surfer tunes to hard guitar licks and lyrics of conviction and angst. Music’s personality was also losing its innocence, becoming raw, painful, soulful, rhythmic, pure, free and exploratory.

In January, the Tet Offensive brought the war in Vietnam to a crescendo and directly into our homes.   The posthumous hit from the great Otis Redding, Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay, ushered in the year, a short month after his tragic death in a plane crash, providing a bittersweet premonition of the year to come.

The early Spring of 1968 brought relative calm in the year of turbulent change and the #1 song in the land mirrored the docileness of the proverbial “calm before the storm”:

  Honey, Bobby Goldsboro

As tempartures began to rise, numerous college campus protests were the topic of the day.  And then, the powder keg of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.  We watched angry and inconsolable people rioting in the streets, burning their neighborhoods and vowing retribution. Fear of the future was like a lead anvil on my chest and I was very worried for my family–my brother in particular, because he was 13 at the time and I was afraid that he’d have to go to Vietnam and I’d never see him again.

Notice The Beatles birthday cake.

When MLK was killed in early April, officials in Boston turned to the great James Brown to try and quell the violent backlash of rage and oppression in Beantown. They not only encouraged Brown to perform but actually televised the performance, via tape delay. Because of the broadcast and officials urging people to stay home and watch it on TV. James Brown performed and addressed the audience helping to Boston avert an explosive situation.

Got the Feeling, James Brown

But the world turned on….My parents continued to have their usual Summer house parties and that helped to quell some of the fears of the outside world.

That’s my Daddy, center and my Mamma in white

While they weren’t exactly playing and singing protest songs, they were all huge Johnny Cash fans and I distinctly remember them “covering” Folsom Prison Blues:

I also remember everyone under the age of 30 being completely and utterly ga-ga (technical term) over The Beatles. Perhaps the most pivotal year in their reign over Rock, 1968 saw The Beatles incorporate under the Apple Ltd. partnership in an effort to produce other arists, where they promptly signed a hot young acoustic artist named James Taylor.

Something in the Way She Moves

George Harrison was inspired to write Something from James Taylor’s melodic soul stirrer from his debut album on the Apple label, and showed up in 1969 on Come Together. In 1968, The Beatles were going through massive transformation and the outcome of their retreat to the studio from May to October was the fabled White Album. The rush of music and lyrics during this time came from The Beatles trip to India to “study” with the Maharishi Yogi, as well as John’s painful divorce. The Beatles top selling single of all time, Hey Jude, was Paul’s cathartic ode to Julian, John’s young son.

The White Album included 45 tracks of raw, multi-faceted talent that may just be the best album ever recorded. The got by with a little help from their friends, including god (and wife stealer), Eric Clapton on While My Guitar Gently Weeps:

In August of 1968, the Republicans made the fateful decision to nominate Richard Nixon as their candidate for President and a few short weeks later there was a major altercation between protesters and law enforcement at the Democratic National Convention. Tempers were on the rise and music reflected the sentiments of the day:

People Got to be Free, The Rascals

But perhaps the fall of 1968, brought the most significant changes. The space program put the first manned spacecraft in orbit in October, captivating weary Americans with the anticipation of The Last Frontier.

One of the most famous images of 1968 is the picture of U.S. Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising black gloves in solidarity of the Civil Rights Movement.

 

As they were protesting, the Motown Sound was taking over the charts and one particular artist, with one particular smash hit was storming the national scene.

  Heard it Through the Grapevine, Marvin Gaye

Shortly thereafter, the milestone album of Astral Weeks by the milestone artist, Van Morrison, was released in early December.  The eight songs of Astral Weeks would become one of the seminal albums of the era and a literal roadmap for many soulful artists to come.

Lester Bangs summed it up pretty well in this 1979 quote:

Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks was released ten years, almost to the day, before this was written. It was particularly important to me because the fall of 1968 was such a terrible time: I was a physical and mental wreck, nerves shredded and ghosts and spiders looming and squatting across the mind. My social contacts had dwindled to almost none; the presence of other people made me nervous and paranoid. I spent endless days and nights sunk in an armchair in my bedroom, reading magazines, watching TV, listening to records, staring into space. I had no idea how to improve the situation and probably wouldn’t have done anything about it if I had.

Astral Weeks would be the subject of this piece – i.e., the rock record with the most significance in my life so far – no matter how I’d been feeling when it came out. But in the condition I was in, it assumed at the time the quality of a beacon, a light on the far shores of the murk; what’s more, it was proof that there was something left to express artistically besides nihilism and destruction. (My other big record of the day was White Light/White Heat.) It sounded like the man who made Astral Weeks was in terrible pain, pain most of Van Morrison’s previous works had only suggested; but like the later albums by the Velvet Underground, there was a redemptive element in the blackness, ultimate compassion for the suffering of others, and a swath of pure beauty and mystical awe that cut right through the heart of the work.

I don’t really know how significant it might be that many others have reported variants on my initial encounter with Astral Weeks. I don’t think there’s anything guiding it to people enduring dark periods. It did come out at a time when a lot of things that a lot of people cared about passionately were beginning to disintegrate, and when the self-destructive undertow that always accompanied the great sixties party had an awful lot of ankles firmly in it’s maw and was pulling straight down. so, as timeless as it finally is, perhaps Astral Weeks was also the product of an era. Better think that than ask just what sort of Irish churchwebbed haints Van Morrison might be product of.

The music of 1968 was a product of the times, but in many ways the times became a product of the music.  Messages that couldn’t openly be talked about in “polite” company were often put to music where the messages were loud and clear but many deaf ears (i.e., anyone over 30) didn’t have the decoder.

After Nixon was elected, the country seemed to breath a collective sigh.  Not a sigh of relief, but one of giving up.  There would be no turning back, no return to innocence.  We were all in for a penny, in for a pound. 

1968 went out with a bang as one of the last bastions of early Rock & Roll, The King himself, was piped into our living rooms, LIVE and in living color, resplendid in black leather.  Slim, trim and really on his game, this was the last of Elvis’ truly great performances and in some odd synergy, he was a posterchild for the changes afoot.  Man, he was smokin’….

Elvis finished up the concert and the year with likely the most apt song for a country and a world that had been so wounded over the last year.  Like a microcosm of life, 1968 was filled with pain, trials and tribuations but there was a bastion of hope and promise that dreams of peace, happiness and prosperity could be realized.

  If I Can Dream, Elvis Presley

As for me, I received a Mrs. Beasley doll and an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas that year, so some of my anxiety was lessened by the excitement of the season, Santa Claus and family gatherings.  However, I really wouldn’t rest easy for a few more years when the draft was discontinued and we pulled troops out of Vietnam.  By the time I was in the 2nd grade, the riots and protests seemed to quell.  However, I do remember getting Christmas cards extolling “Peace on Earth” and thinking that it was such a pipe dream.  But it was an ideal…just like all of those ideals from 1968 that lived on and truly changed the world, both in song and in deed.

  

 

 

For Lex

 Lex David Trahan (1964-1983)

 Rest in Peace, dear friend.

  My Old Friend, Tim McGraw

My old friend, I recall
The times we had hanging on my wall
I wouldn’t trade them for gold
Cause they laugh and they cry me
Somehow sanctify me
They’re woven in the stories I have told
And tell again

My old friend, I apologize
For the years that have passed
Since the last time you and I
Dusted off those memories
But the running and the races
The people and the places
There’s always somewhere else I had to be
Time gets thin, my old friend

Don’t know why, don’t know why
Don’t know why, don’t know why

My old friend, this song’s for you
Cause a few simple verses
Was the least that I could do
To tell the world that you were here
Cause the love and the laughter
Will live on long after
All of the sadness and the tears
We’ll meet again, my old friend

Goodbye, goodbye
Goodbye, goodbye

My old friend, my old friend
Goodbye, goodbye

 
5 Comments

Posted by on October 24, 2007 in memorials, through the years

 

Commonality

What do all of these have in common?

 

 

 

 


Hurricane Dora

 

 

 

 

 

 
15 Comments

Posted by on September 24, 2007 in that's life, through the years

 

Happy Anniversary, Baby

My parents would have been married 55 years today.

m-d-honeymoon-car.jpg
May 4th, 1952

My Daddy passed away in September of 2005. Sweetly, my mother still sleeps with his picture on his pillow in their bed. It’s touching, yet extremely sad for me. They lived a charmed life, for sure and had their “time” in the sun. Both of them always said that they certainly lived and had no regrets. They loved each other deeply and were a great example.

When I asked my Mother, years ago, what “their” song was, she answered Stardust. Daddy was ambivalent. He wasn’t as enamored with “Frankie” as Mamma was. Heh. However, she was emphatic and as always, he gave in and agreed with her. If it made her happy, it made him happy.

So today, I salute them. With Stardust and wonderful memories of a great life.

Stardust - Frank Sinatra

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t include this for Daddy. He was a Jo Stafford freak. It was the one artist that I can remember him actually talking about (besides Al Hirt and Harry Belafonte). One of the songs that was popular when they married all those years ago was You Belong to Me, sung by Jo Stafford. I used this in a video collage I did for them for their 50th Anniversary. He was ill and very tired, but this song brought a huge smile to his face — one that I’ll remember forever.

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You Belong to Me — Jo Stafford

 

ETA: For your listening pleasure…..

Stardust - Willie Nelson

 

Stardust – Nat King Cole

 

NOTE:  Temporary Music Files deleted.

 

 

 
11 Comments

Posted by on May 4, 2007 in memories, through the years

 
 
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