A legend has passed – Tina Turner, may she RIP

Anna Mae Bullock, aka Tina Turner, has passed away at age 83. Someone whose active lifestyle and stage performance made her consistently look younger than she was has died after a long illness. When I have been asked who gave the best concert I have ever been to, the answer is Tina Turner, hands down.

She is one of the finest entertainers who gave it her all every minute of her performance and through numerous outfit changes. She made sure we were entertained. She was often accompanied by two or three younger dancers with whom she easily kept up with while singing! She had a long list of hits she could draw from. Yet, the song that always got the crowd going was saved for her encore, “What’s love got to do with it?” When she sang this one, she would ask the women, then men sing the chorus telling the men “it should be easy, you’ve been saying this all of your lives.”

Her story is well known and portrayed in the biopic movie starring Angela Bassett as Turner. She had a physically and mentally abusive husband (and manager) in Ike Turner staying with him longer than she should have because of their Ike and Tina Turner Revue. After leaving, she went out on her own and had even bigger success, but still had to contend with Ike who made threats.

Several songs stand out in addition to the above – “Private Dancer,” “The Best,” “You better be good to me,” “I can’t stand the rain,” “We don’t need another hero,” et al made after she went on her own, and the relentless “Proud Mary” and “Nutbush City Limits” made before. In fact, her version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” was her magnum opus until she went on her own. She even did a song with Phil Specter without Ike called “River deep, mountain high,” which brought her acclaim.

She was an icon, but she became a legend. And, she will be missed.


Rainy Day People – an encore tribute to Gordon Lightfoot, may he Rest in Peace

I learned from my brother that Gordon Lightfoot passed away at the age of 84 from natural causes. He was a troubadour to the day he died. Here is an encore post from a few years ago, that I repeated in 2021. May he Rest in Peace.

With it raining cats and dogs outside tonight (and this morning with tropical storm Elsa), this title has greater meaning. “Rainy Day People” is not necessarily my favorite Gordon Lightfoot song, but it describes my bride of 27 years. Why you might ask? Here is a glimpse of Lightfoot’s magical pen in this song (a link to the song is below).

Rainy day people always seem to know when it’s time to call

Rainy day people don’t talk…they just listen til they’ve heard it all

Rainy day lovers don’t lie when they tell you they’ve been down like you

Rainy day people don’t mind if you’re crying a tear or two.

My wife embodies rainy day people. She is a listener who people feel comfortable in being around; comfortable in confiding in. Gordon Lightfoot’s talent and the reason we both love his music is his ability to capture who we are. We saw him perform a few years ago. We enjoyed his music, but also his storytelling between songs. A man who could have many did not seem to have any airs.

His most famous song is “If You Could Read My Mind.” I think even non-Lightfoot fans could sing many of the lyrics of this song. Since it is so popular, I will skip over it to some of his lesser known, but also great songs. Another favorite is “Circle of Steel” because it tells a painful story of an alcoholic mother whose husband is incarcerated and who will lose her child in a week. The gripping, soulful lyrics include:

A child is born to a welfare case…where the rats run around like the own the place

The room is chilly, the building is old….that’s how it goes

A doctor’s found on his welfare round…and he comes and he leaves on the double.

The subject of the song is not heroic, but the words tell a story of how people struggle. Most of us don’t live in gated communities. Life is very hard for many.

For the romantic side in each of us, he write songs like “Beautiful” which has words like:

At times I just don’t know….how you could be anything but beautiful

I think that I was made for you and you were made for me

And I know that I will never change…’cause we’ve been friends through rain or shine

For such a long, long time.

He has written so many songs that were so well-loved others also recorded them. “Early Morning Rain” was sung by Elvis. “For Lovin Me” was sung by Peter, Paul and Mary. He also added a second song to the back of that one as the first part talked disdainfully to a woman scorned when the man said “that’s what you get for lovin me.” The added song he recorded had a lament “Did she mention my name” as the person who scorned his lover was feeling great remorse later on. Other great songs of his include:

“Whisper My Name”


“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”

“Carefree Highway”

“Cotton Jenny”

“Old Dan’s Records”

“Summer Side of Life”

“Cold on the Shoulder”

And, countless others, that should not be construed less by my failure to list them. Yet, let me close with a self-portrait of Mr. Lightfoot, at least by my interpretation – “Minstrel of the Dawn.” In it he says:

The minstrel of the dawn is here….to make you laugh and bend your ear

Up the steps you’ll hear him climb….all full of thoughts, all full of rhymes

Listen to the pictures flow….across the room into your mind they go

Listen to the strings…they jangle and dangle…while the old guitar rings.

Words and music. To me this is what it is all about. Gordon Lightfoot would have been an excellent poet without his music. He was lesser known, but may have rivaled even Bob Dylan on his penning of songs. Maybe the fact one was from Canada and the other from Minnesota meant they had time to collect their thoughts when it was too cold to venture outside. Yet, with his music and armed with a better singing voice that Dylan could only dream of, he was the minstrel to all of us.

For our younger readers who may not know him as well, I would encourage you to take a plunge. You can start with the songs above, but that is only sticking a toe in the water. I invite other Gordon Lightfoot fans to offer their favorites whether listed above or not. “If you could read my mind love, what a tale my thoughts would tell….just like a paperback novel, the kind the drugstore sells.”

Gordon Lightfoot – Rainy Day People – Bing video

A musical example of why limitations can hinder development and growth

In too many places, history is being white washed to limit exposure to examples of civil rights and economic censorship that people in authority imposed on minority groups. In too many places the civil, voting and economic rights of minorities are being suppressed. It is not a stretch to say the former is being done to grease the skids of the latter happening again.

Yet, there is a history lesson that may seem inconsequential, but is quite illustrative. With Jim Crow laws in full bore, black musical artists were prevented from being heard on the significant majority of white radio stations. To make matters worse, white artists would cover the black artists songs making more money with the larger white audiences.

So, these black artists went where they were welcome and played overseas. They were so appreciated, they influenced a significant number of young people who would become musicians or were already headed down that path. Many British musicians cited the influence of Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, BB King, Little Richard, Howling Wolf, Hounddog Taylor, Etta James, et al.

Back in the 1960s, a musical British Invasion was occurring. Groups like The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Cream, Blind Faith, The Who, Deep Purple, The Yardbirds, The Hollies, and individuals like Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Dusty Springfield, among many others were hitting it big in the states. These artists were successful as they introduced white Americans to music spawned in America but purposefully suppressed from many outlets or watered down by other artists. Clapton started in a group called The Bluesbreakers because of his love of the Blues.

Saying it differently, the black music was white washed from many American ears. Further, two white artists who were highly successful emulating black artists – Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis – were having difficulties staying in the musical limelight (one was drafted and the other married his 13-year-old cousin), as record producers went very vanilla and safe with their music highlighting Pat Boone, Bobby Vinton, Connie Francis and other more pop style artists. I remember white teens and young adults craving to hear the black artists. It is a reason Beach Music exists as the northern radio stations could be heard down the coast in the Carolina beaches. The kids could not hear the unplayed music inland. So, when they went to the beach, they would ask what is that sound coming from the radio?

There are two lessons here. One is when leaders limit what children can learn, they limit their education, creativity and innovation. We must learn from our history, the good and the bad. The other is people find a way to circumvent efforts to restrict things. If they hear or see snippets of something interesting, they will want more. Yet, we should not limit them so much, that others benefit more and have to teach us what we are missing. Innovation comes from intersections of creativity like within the cross over parts of a Venn diagram. If we don’t let that happen, the innovation will occur elsewhere. And, where innovation occurs, so will the job creation

Recognizing music is a metaphor, think of how the US had fallen in math and science rankings. The US ranks 23rd and 27th, which does not bode well for American Exceptionalism which is touted more than it should be. Education spawns creativity and innovation. If we limit what kids learn, we limit what they will create.

Straight on for you – a second encore performance for Heart

The following is a repeat tribute to one of the best Rock and Roll bands and a lead singer named Ann Wilson who is on a short list of the greatest Rock and Roll voices. They were elected into the Hall of Fame in 2013, but that is late to my way of thinking, as all male bands who cannot match their body of work got earlier nods.

My wife and I had the great fortune to see Ann and Nancy Wilson and their Heart mates perform live a few years ago. We decided to splurge and had seats in the second row off to the side. Although, they were not at the start of the career, we were enthralled by one of the greatest rock and roll voices of all time in Ann and her energetic guitar playing sister, Nancy. Anyone who can play “Crazy on You” on the guitar has got to have some energy.

Heart began as a cover band in the Seattle area and gained renown with Ann singing some of Led Zeppelin’s songs better than Robert Plant could. It was a great tribute to both bands, when Heart performed “Stairway to Heaven” to close the Kennedy Center Honors of Led Zeppelin. As an aside, on one of their live albums has Ann singing one of the finest versions of “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers I have ever heard including the original.

Heart is a true kick ass rock and roll band. Their attractive looks may have overshadowed that fact at first, but even if you never saw them, you would like what and how they played. One of their earlier tunes was “Kick it Out” which is vintage rock and roll. Yet, they broke through with “Magic Man” and the aforementioned “Crazy on You” both whose straightforward and highly seasoned double entendre lyrics were cleverly done and gave us teenagers an extra thrill.

Yet, with these lyrics setting the stage, their musicality showed Heart was all about words and music. And, when you have Ann belting out rock and roll songs like only she can, it made a very powerful sound. I will not highlight the three songs I mentioned first, as they are well-known. Yet, I do love them dearly.

I would rather highlight some other songs, a few hits and few that were interesting to me. One of the more lyrical songs they performed is “Dog and Butterfly,” the title song off a great album. Here is a sample of the lyrics.

Well I stumbled upon your secret place
Safe in the trees you had tears on your face
Wrestlin’ with your desires, frozen strangers stealin’ your fires
The message hit my mind, only words that I could find

We see the dog and butterfly up in the air he like to fly
Dog and butterfly below she had to try
She roll back down to the warm soft ground
Laughin’ to the sky, up to the sky dog and butterfly

To me this song is about not reaching your dreams. The dog will never catch the butterfly (his or her dream), but will keep on trying. The idea is to keep trying and learn to laugh at yourself, even if you fail. As, we will all fail more than once.

Another great song of theirs is “Barracuda.” This one is more obvious about a deceitful man who hurt her dearly, but the wordsmithing and tune are excellent.

So this ain’t the end, I saw you again today
Had to turn my heart away
You smiled like the Sun, kisses for everyone
And tales, it never fails!

You lying so low in the weeds
Bet you gonna ambush me
You’d have me down, down, down to my knees
Wouldn’t you, Barracuda?

Another title song, which is terrific, especially when played live is “Dreamboat Annie.” Here is a sample:

Heading out this morning into the sun
Riding on the diamond waves, little darlin’ one

Warm wind caress her
Her lover it seems
Oh, Annie
Dreamboat Annie, ship of dreams
Oh, Annie
Dreamboat Annie, little ship of dreams

Nancy usually sang harmony in the chorus to many songs. Her voice is good and she should have sung more lead on occasion. One of her better songs is “These Dreams.” It should not be lost on others, that dreams play a hand in several songs. Here are Nancy’s words.

Is it cloak and dagger?
Could it be spring or fall?
I walk without a cut
Through a stained glass wall
(Weaker in my eyesight)

Weaker in my eyesight
The candle in my grip
(Words that have no form)
And words that have no form
Are fallin’ from my lips

These dreams go on when I close my eyes
Every second of the night I live another life
These dreams that sleep when it’s cold outside
Every moment I’m awake the further I’m away
(Further I’m away)

After some time away from the charts, Heart came back big in the late 1980’s with “Alone” which showed the world that Ann was still a big time voice. This song needs little discussion and is quite apparent in its meaning.

I hear the tickin’ of the clock
I’m lying here the room’s pitch dark
I wonder where you are tonight
No answer on the telephone
And the night goes by so very slow
Oh I hope that it won’t end though, Alone

Till now I always got by on my own
I never really cared until I met you
And now it chills me to the bone
How do I get you alone?
How do I get you alone?

A song that many may not know which I have always enjoyed is “Mistral Wind.” Especially, when played live, this song resonates with me. In addition to dreams, references to the sea are often used in their songs. Here is taste:

No wind when I took the watch, my ship was still waitin’
I lay on that mirrored sky, a restless sail waitin’ I closed my eyes, said the words of will for the gentle breathin’
That moves the sea, make my sails fill

Whisper waves cloud the glass, awake at last like a lover
It rushed around the talkin’ sweet, roll over, roll over, roll over
And in my ear he blew his name, it sound so strange
But I heard it plain mistral, mistral wind

The double entendres abound in this one as well. Sometimes, they are plain-spoken about desire, but they are equally adroit at the subtle. That is part of their great appeal. This final song and the title of the post is in the former category. It is exactly as the title implies. “Straight on for You” may be my favorite Heart song, if I can have only one (a link is below to a late in their career live performance of this song).

Quite some time, I’ve been sittin’ it out. Didn’t take no chances, I was a prisoner of doubt.

 I knocked down the wailin’ wall, ain’t no sin. Got the feel of fortune, deal me in

Comin’ straight on for you, you made my mind. Now I’m stronger, now I’m comin’ through. Straight on, straight on for you. Straight on for you.

The song is about taking a chance. A lyric in a later verse describes “what the winner don’t know, the gambler understands.” Initially, she is a prisoner of doubt and won’t dare to take a chance. But, then she realizes, if I want this person to be mine, I better take a chance. I might lose, but by God I better try.

And, that may be the best way to think about life. Earlier, I wrote about a recurring theme of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young of taking a chance and not sitting on the shore (there is that sea analogy again). Ann and Nancy took a chance and still do. They became one of the greatest rock and roll bands ever (a Wikipedia summary can be linked to below). Plus, I think they still have some more they can come “straight on for us” with. Many thanks ladies. You are the best.

Heart – Straight On (from Night At Sky Church) – Bing video

List of Heart band members – Wikipedia

Roy Orbison – a few quick poignant stories

I was watching a biopic on the singer Roy Orbison who sang “Pretty woman”, “Crying”, “Only the lonely”, etc. the other night. Orbison influenced so many artists who grew up as teens listening to his great voice cover songs of loneliness, love, and lust.  Two examples that occurred in the 1980s reveal the respect others had for him.

First, several musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, kd lang, and James Burton (one the best guitarist and collaborators you never heard of) did a concert with Orbison in small venue, recorded in black and white. It is well worth the watch.

Second, several names you will also recognize joined with Orbison to form The Traveling Wilburys – guys like George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne (founder and lead of ELO). The rag tag band had the number one album right in the middle of a totally different music era ranging from big hair bands to pop groups.

But, three stories from the documentary intrigued me, making me smile and tear-up at the same time. Let me start with the saddest one.

The song “Pretty woman” was written in one afternoon about his first wife Claudette, inspired by a friend who was sitting with Orbison as she walked out to go shopping. The line of “pretty woman walking down the street” led to the song. This would be his biggest hit, but sadly he and Claudette would later divorce, reconcile and divorce again before tragedy struck. She was killed in motorcycle crash leaving behind their two kids and a still distraught Orbison.

Apparently, he was quite funny and could do all the lines to Monty Python movies and would keep people like Petty, Dylan, Lynne and Harrison in stitches during studio sessions with The Traveling Wilbury’s. Ironically, Harrison produced a movie with one the Python guys called “Time Bandits” which makes you smile throughout. Having watched footage of Orbison over the years with his sad countenance and sad songs, I would have never had guessed he was considered funny.

Lastly, kismet exists. The movie “Blue Velvet” is a cult classic, one reason is the soundtrack including several Orbison songs. One of those is “In dreams,” the first stanza of which is as follows:

“I close my eyes then I drift away
Into the magic night, I softly say
A silent prayer like dreamers do
Then I fall asleep to dream my dreams of you.”

Bono of U2 told the story of how he was listening to the Blue Velvet soundtrack and dreamed that night of Orbison’s songs. He said he also dreamed of a song that seemed like an Orbison song, but wasn’t. It was one he had created. So, the next morning, he wrote down and played a song that later became “She’s a mystery to me” which he formulated with guitarist the Edge later that day.

That night after a performance in England, Bono got a knock on the door and his aide said Roy Orbison is here with his wife Barbara (his second) and he wanted to meet you. Orbison said his kids loved U2 and he wanted to hear what it was all about. Bono said he would love to work with Orbison, to which Orbison asked if he had any songs they could do. Bono said, in fact, he does and played “She’s a mystery to me” for Orbison which they recorded and released in 1989.

Sadly, they were working on an album called “Mystery girl”, when Orbison died at the age of only 52. He and Barbara were in Paris and needed to go to an event in England, but Orbison said he needed to fly home for some commitments and meet her there. Barbara said when they spoke on the phone after he landed in the US that was the last time they spoke.

I was floored by this last story and truly saddened by the first one. But, I am glad that the singer of songs was a funny man. When one of your greatest songs is “Crying” which we all have done at some point, it does your heart good to hear he liked to laugh and make others laugh as well. And, for Monty Python fans out there, to honor Orbison, think of the bit remembered as “It’s just a flesh wound.” My lads could recite this in its entirety with Orbison.



Atlanta Pop Festival – a 1970 flashback

My wife and I watched a tribute on PBS to Jimi Hendrix which was subtitled “The Electric Church.” Hendrix was the headliner at the second Atlanta Pop Festival in a small rural town south of Atlanta called Byron (population about 5,000). He played in front of an estimated 400,000 people over the 4th of July weekend in 1970. He would be dead in two months, so this was his last big fanfare.

The documentary type show interviewed people who helped pull this concert together. It was after Woodstock, the tragic event at Altamont and the first Atlanta event which barely broke even. Outside of seeing Hendrix perform which is always amazing, the behind the scene stories made the documentary. Plus, it is the first lengthy footage I have ever seen of Hendrix being interviewed, as he was reticent to do interviews.

Here are a few interesting take aways:

-Hendrix’s voice on civil rights was heeded because he made it less political and more about moving forward. He equated his innovative music with our need to innovate a better world.

-Byron was very unprepared to host the event, which was held at a speedway. For example, there was so much traffic, people parked on the shoulders of I-75 and walked to Byron to make the concert.

-Well-known Georgia governor Lester Maddox, who did not back away from his bigoted actions and rants, declared the event a disaster area. That only led to more people coming to see what it was all about.

-The event included the Allman Brothers, who are from nearby Macon, Bob Seger, Grand Funk Railroad, Procol Harem, Rare Earth, B.B. King, John Sebastian, among many others.

-Byron was powered by a rural co-op, so there was insufficient electricity to power the concert at all times. So, at night, only the performers on stage were lit up and poorly so at that. The roadies had to set-up the instruments and amps in the dark with flash-lights as the power was shut off until the act came on. And, the audience was in the dark, with a sea of lighters lighting the way.

-People from Byron who did not want the event, still came to see what was going on. Think Woodstock with all manner of clothing and not-so-much clothing. It was a must see even for the nay-sayers.

-Hendrix played at 12:30 am on the night/ early morning of the 3rd and 4th. He noted he could not see the crowd very well. What is interesting is when he played Woodstock, they were so far behind on scheduling, Hendrix only played to 40,000 people on Monday morning not the hundreds of thousands there over the weekend.

-Not unlike the event film only recently discovered and released about a Harlem music festival around the same time, the footage of the Atlanta Pop Festival was kept in a barn for thirty years. Note, I was unaware of this festival until the documentary.

Byron has a personal meaning to me as I went to university in Atlanta and would drive home down I-75. Byron is a speed trap and I found out the hard way back in the late 1970s. They wanted payment of the ticket then, but I did not have enough money and they would not take credit cards or checks. So, I left my watch as collateral and said I would be coming back through in two days and pay the ticket, which I did.

So, my event at the end of the decade was less unusual than Hendrix’s at the beginning.

This Elvis is an acquired taste, but well worth it – an encore performance

I wrote the following post about ten years ago after my wife and I saw Elvis Costello in concert. Last night, I saw a PBS special which showed Costello performing with Burt Bacharach, who he wrote fifteen or so songs with. Bacharach died earlier this month.

If you ever get a chance to see Elvis Costello in concert, please give him a shot as you won’t regret it. He has an abundance of well crafted, sometimes bizarre songs, that are very entertaining both for the music and lyrics.

When we saw him two years ago, he had this large spinning wheel of his play list of some 40 or so songs and he invited someone from the audience to do the spinning. On occasion, he would correct the spin, as he did not want to play his encore too soon. But, his small band, provides quite a big, pulsating sound and you will leave the concert spent.

His biggest hit is one of his more straightforward songs – “Alison.” His words of lament and haunting name of Alison make this a powerful song that resonates with many:

I’m not going to get too sentimental
like those other sticky valentines,
’cause I don’t know if you’ve been loving some body.
I only know it isn’t mine.
Alison, I know this world is killing you.
Oh, Alison, my aim is true.

A more fun song is called “(The Angels want to wear my) Red Shoes” which is about angels getting bored and wanting to paint the town again.

Oh I used to be disgusted
and now I try to be amused.
But since their wings have got rusted,
you know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes.

One of my favorites of his is “Brilliant Mistake” which is looking back with regrets over what the title implies. Here is a neat sampling of his wordsmithing:

Now I try hard not to become hysterical
But I’m not sure if I am laughing or crying
I wish that I could push a button
And talk in the past and not the present tense
 And watch this hurtin’ feeling disappear
Like it was common sense

Costello has penned some interesting songs that are quite clever in how he hides some true meaning. “Oliver’s Army” is usually on a short list of his great songs as he comes down against war, by starting out so simply:

Don’t start me talking I could talk all night
My mind goes sleepwalking
While I’m putting the world to right

Some other great songs that I enjoy include: “Man Out of Time” about a bigwig who no longer is such, “New Lace Sleeves,” “Everyday I Write the Book,” and “Watching the Detectives” which is played as the soundtrack for the PBS show “History Detectives.” Yet, I want to close with my favorite three Costello songs, one which he did not write.

My third favorite is his best concert song, “Pump It Up,” which he usually does after a softer song to get the crowd rolling. The words here pale in comparison to the beat, but it is a very catchy tune:

I’ve been on tenterhooks, ending in dirty looks,
list’ning to the Muzak, thinking ’bout this ‘n’ that.
She said that’s that. I don’t wanna chitter-chat.
Turn it down a little bit, or turn it down flat.

Pump it up when you don’t really need it.
Pump it up until you can feel it.

My second favorite is “Radio Radio” about how kids blindly follow what they are being told on the radio. He wants them to think for themselves. Here are a few lyrics:

Radio is a sound salvation
Radio is cleaning up the nation
They say you better listen to the voice of reason
But they don’t give you any choice
’cause they think that it’s treason.
So you had better do as you are told.
You better listen to the radio.

However, my favorite of his songs is one he did not write; it was written by Nick Lowe, a British songwriter – “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding.” I wrote a post early last year with this title as my theme, which can be viewed with the attached link: https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/whats-so-funny-about-peace-love-and-understanding/. I won’t belabor this song, as its meaning is clear in the title. Lowe’s writing and Costello’s singing address squarely what is wrong about talking about peace not war? What is wrong about talking of love not hate? What is so wrong with trying to understand our differences, not use them to divide?

I will grant you, Elvis Costello is an acquired taste. But, listen to the music first, then listen to the words. You won’t regret it. And, please forgive me if I did not list your favorite Costello song. There are many to choose from.

I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then – an encore post

I have always been a big fan of interesting song lyrics. The coining of a phrase that says more than the few words used in the song make it memorable.The above title comes from a Bob Seger song “Against the Wind” as he laments it was more exciting not knowing some things when you were younger about love and life. The following sample lyrics are not necessarily my favorites, but they are a few that represent my fascination with good wordsmithing.

“See, the number on the matchbook is old and faded,” is a line from Jim Croce’s song “Operator.” He is struggling to find the number of an old girlfriend who ran off with his “best old ex-friend Ray.” Since it was written on a matchbook, it means it was probably written down in a bar, maybe when  she let him know she was leaving.

“Just like a paperback novel, the kind the drugstore sells,” comes from Gordon Lightfoot’s “If you could read my mind.” He has several like this in the song, but to me he describes the cheesy romance novels you can buy in a drugstore where the hero saves the day. This is a melancholy song about people who can’t reclaim the love they once had, so the hero references are fantasy and not reality.

“Clowns to the left of me, joker’s to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with you,” is a Stealers Wheel song whose title is the last phrase of the song lyric. The song can mean so many things, but it shows that we are in this together and we need to ignore the fools on either side telling us what to do. It is also a good metaphor for our political stalemate.

Bob Dylan wrote and sang “How many ears must one man have, before he can hear people cry.” The song made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary’s rendition sung on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial beside Martin Luther King is called “Blowing in the Wind.”  There are great references throughout this song, but I like this one the most as African-Americans have been maltreated for so long and it seemed to resonate more.

When people think of Rush, they do not first think of lyrics, but their many songs are replete with excellent wordsmithing. In the song “Free will” the words that resonate with me are “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” I found this very poignant as many do not realize that by not doing something, they are making a choice. A good example is choosing not to vote believing it makes no difference. Yet, by not voting, the lesser of two candidates can be elected making a problem worse.

Of course, no list would be complete without some reference to a Beatles song. In “Lady Madonna,” Paul McCartney sings “Lady Madonna, children at your breast, it’s a wonder how you manage to feed the rest.”  This line speaks volumes of the difficulties in raising children, but especially in poverty or near poverty when you are a single parent.

Let me close with romantic song from David Gates of “Bread.” The lyric goes “When my love for life has all run dry, you’ll come and pour yourself on me.”  This lyric from the song “If” resonates with me as we pick each other up. He has done all he can and needs help, so his lover comes and pour herself on him to bring his spirits back to life.

I would love to hear your reaction to these and for you to share some of your favorites. These were top of mind, so I have overlooked many great lyrics.

A surprise guest

My wife and I like to watch a show called “The Masked Singer,” where various actors, singers, comedians, news presenters or athletes dress up in elaborate costumes and sing their hearts out. It is a fun show as we try to guess the identities of the performers before they are unmasked when they are knocked off. It started its ninth season last night and its first reveal stunned everyone.

The gnome character was the first reveal and after guesses of Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro and one other, to everyone’s surprise a 97 year old Dick Van Dyke emerged. The judges were all stunned and some were in tears. He did an admirable job of “When you’re smiling,” but after his identity was known he gave us a rendition of the Mary Poppins’ song he sang in the movie “Supercalafragiliciousexpealodocious.“ I know I spelled it wrong, but felt I would leave my attempt here.

He added to the performance by dancing with his 97 year old legs. We were tickled as much as the audience was. Thinking of Mary Poppins, the famous star Anthony Hopkins once said who cares if Van Dyke’s British accent was horrible, his was one of the most amazing performances ever as Bert the chimney sweep.

If you can find footage of his performance it is worth the view.

Monday morning meanderings

It is a quiet morning after all the rain we got yesterday. One thing is for certain, my dog loves being toweled off when he comes back inside after a restroom break and is all wet.

Here a few meanderings this Monday morning.

-Another mass shooting in America. What a surprise. It truly saddens me that our headlines are peppered with daily shooting deaths, with a seemingly weekly mass shooting. If I lived in another country, I might look to other places to visit, as we Americans cannot get our act together. Canada and Australia look nice.

-I saw some headline where the former president lost a bloc of voters. I chose not to read it as his political career ended two years ago and his followers are finally figuring out what kind of person he is, which they should have known all along as he has acted this way over the years. It is all about The Donald, always has been, always will be.

-Lisa Marie Presley was buried this weekend. It saddens me when I remember when people were born and when they passed away. That is not how it should be. I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child no matter how old they are, so my heart goes out to Priscilla Presley. I remember the agony of my grandmother losing her youngest daughter and my aunt at a similar age.

-I would love to have a job where I can be the metaphorical lifeguard of the swimming pool that is the US Congress. When the elected kids are acting up, I can blow my whistle and tell them “Out of the pool!” And, when a group of the elected kids get too rambunctious, I can say “Alright, everyone out. Adult swim only!” Or, “Hey Marjorie, Matt, Paul, Ted, Kevin, go sit in the time-out corner.” This makes me smile.

And, on that note. Enjoy your week. Stay dry, warm and safe.