About a decade ago at a friend’s party I began chatting with another guest who, in the course of our conversation, informed me that he was an Orthodox Jew.
This information gave me an opening to ask my favorite question, “Why was Jesus born Jewish?”
His answer was memorable, “Jesus wasn’t Jewish,” he replied.
My jaw dropped and I was almost speechless. Initially I thought he was kidding until realizing he was not.
Then, after a short conversation volley he said, “Well, that’s your opinion.”
Years later I have never forgotten that incident because the fact (not opinion) that Jesus was born, lived and died a Jew is one of the few universally accepted Biblical “facts.”
As one who was born and raised a Jew — but since 1975 has believed that Jesus was and is the Messiah — I have made a hobby out of asking traditional Jews, “Why was Jesus born Jewish?” The reason I continue asking this question is because the answers or I should say non-answers are always so intriguing.
Here are three examples (but you will have to read to the end for the most recent and intriguing example of all.)
A fews months ago, I posed “the question” to an old friend who is a secular Jew, not religious, but very proud of his heritage. His replied, “I don’t know. I guess Jesus had to be born of some religion so it just happened to be Judaism.”
My husband loves to tell this true story he calls, “How Myra Accosted a Rabbi at a Bar Mitzvah.” A few years back we attended a Bar Mitzvah of a friend’s son. Afterwards at the reception, using my sweet, inquisitive voice I asked the Rabbi, “Why was Jesus born Jewish?” My husband describes the Rabbi’s face as looking like he had just encountered Satan. After gaining his composure the Rabbi answered, “No one has ever asked me that question,” as he quickly excused himself and dashed to the opposite side of the room.
Then there was the time I was having a heated argument with my non-religious Jewish father (now deceased) about Jesus and my conversion to Christianity. My father had great disdain for ALL religion because he strongly believed that religion was the root cause of every war in human history. During the course of our discussion I asked him, “What was the religion of Jesus?” He replied confidently, “Jesus was Catholic.”
In the next few weeks leading up to Easter Sunday you can expect to hear more news about the Shroud of Turin — a mysterious piece of linen that millions of Catholics and other Christians believe is the actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
It was during Holy Week last year when the Shroud of Turin generated headlines around the globe. That was a result of Italian scientist and renowned Shroud researcher Giulio Fanti releasing his book, The Mystery of the Shroud.
Fanti is an Associate Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Padua in Italy. His 2013 research book scientifically debunked the infamous and controversial 1988 carbon-14 dating that supposedly “proved” the cloth only dated back to the Middle Ages — more specifically between the years 1260 and 1390.
Headlines such as: “Shroud of Turin is not a medieval forgery” were typical of what appeared across all media platforms especially on Good Friday, 2013.
Now in 2014, Professor Fanti has a new book (only in Italian at this moment) and the title translates into English as, Turin Shroud: First Century A.D.
According to the book’s press release, “The new dating methods are published in prestigious international journals and no one has yet pointed out methodological errors.”
This Shroud dating research project costing $75,000 (54,000 Euro) was funded by Padua University. The funding made it possible to “develop alternative methods of dating the Shroud based on mechanical and opto-chemical analyses after obvious calibration.”
Here is a more simple explanation of the dating methods if you are not a scientist.
Now that the Lenten Season is upon us and the 40 day countdown to Easter has begun, this is good time to review some fascinating Bible stories that are worth knowing and pondering for their deeper meaning.
The three stories selected are personal favorites because they are filled with supernatural mystery and many unanswered questions that baffle Bible scholars to this day.
In all cases Bible quotes are italicized and taken from the widely used New International Version. (NIV)
1. Job 1: 6-12
This is what happened when God and Satan had a little chat.
Job, the main character in the Old Testament Book of Job, was wealthy and richly blessed. He had a wife, ten children, many servants and numerous flocks. The second sentence in verse 1:1 described him as: “The man was blameless and upright he feared God and shunned evil.”
Job’s celebrity status was further described in verse 1:3,
“He was the greatest man of all the people in the East.”
Unfortunately, being THAT awesome landed Job in the middle of a famous (and ultimately very painful) smack-down between God and Satan.
In verses 1: 7-8, Satan, along with other angels presented himself to God. When God asked Satan where he has came from, Satan replied, “roaming through the earth and going back and forth from it.”
Then, because Job was the equivalent of God’s “teacher’s pet,” God bragged about Job to Satan saying,
“Have you considered my servant Job?”
(God is then quoted as saying what was previously stated in verse 1:1) “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
However, Satan was not impressed because Satan thought Job’s faithfulness to God was a result of Job living the lifestyle of the rich and famous.
Thus, Satan asked God in verse 1:9, “Does Job fear God for nothing?”
Satan explained to God his theory that if Job’s good fortunes were to suddenly disappear then Job would turn away from God.
“But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has and he will surely curse you to your face.” (Job 1:11)
Satan’s words set in motion a classic conflict between good and evil, faith and non-faith. Poor Job was about to get zapped with God’s permission.
Fifty years ago tonight, as a nine-year-old girl living in a Boston suburb, I — along with 73 million Americans — watched the Beatles perform on the popular Ed Sullivan Show.
After watching I knew (as much as a nine year old was capable of knowing) that I had witnessed a MAJOR cultural and historic event.
How did I know this?
How could I NOT have known?
President John F. Kennedy famously said in his 1961 inaugural speech that “the torch has been passed to a new generation,” and on that night the Beatles became the musical torch.
Upon the show’s conclusion, I distinctly recall my father saying with complete confidence that “the Beatles are just a passing fad.”
His prediction was totally expected from someone born in 1922, but I knew otherwise. For the Beatles had a sound that was so unique, engaging, modern, young, hip and vibrant, I knew right then that my world was going to be radically different from that of my parents.
Sunday, February 9, 1964, was when a “cultural earth mover” began digging the divide that would later be called “the generation gap.”
Monday on the school bus my friends and I yelled Beatles’ songs out the window. When we arrived in our third-grade classroom there was talk of nothing else. How could there be when clearly something monumental had happened the night before?
All of us were emotionally affected but not capable of articulating exactly what happened. All I remember talking about with my friends was which of the four Beatles was the “cutest,” but instinctively we knew it went much deeper.
Now, viewing the Beatles’ performance through a 50-year historical, musical, cultural and celebratory lens, I ask myself, “Was I exaggerating the importance of the evening?”
That question demanded answers. Fortunately, “valid” scientific research was just an email away and about to be provided by a good friend.
My friend was also born in 1955, just a month before me. (He is well-known in media circles and asked that his name be withheld.)
Furthermore, he grew up clear across the country from where I was in Boston. So, for all those reasons, I was keenly interested in comparing our impressions, which I’ll do on the next page.
Anytime you want to start a lively discussion among Christians just ask the question, “Will Jesus return in your lifetime?”
Then of course, some Bible thumper will immediately quote the famous scripture verse from Matthew 24:36:
“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” (New Living Translation)
Mindful that believers can never know, but only speculate about the exact date of the “Second Coming” – here are some interesting facts enfolding in 2014 relating to events on earth and in the sky.
First, let’s begin with the earthly facts concerning an Orthodox Israeli Rabbi named Yitzhak Kaduri who died on January 28, 2006 at over 100 years of age. (There is debate over Kaduri’s exact age at his death ranging from 108 to 104.)
From this short video you will learn about Rabbi Kaduri and the mysteries that are still swirling around him eight years after his death.
As mentioned in the video, Rabbi Kaduri publicly stated in a sermon that the Messiah, who Kaduri said had revealed himself to him, was going to appear to Israel “soon” after the death of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Not mentioned was Kaduri gave the sermon in 2005 on Yom Kippur, the holiest of Jewish holidays when Ariel Sharon was Prime Minister of Israel.
At the time this video was produced Sharon was still “alive” but in a coma, after suffering a massive stroke on January 4, 2006.
Then on January 11, 2014 Sharon finally died after eight years in a coma and his obituary from the Washington Post stated the following:
The man who chose the title “Warrior” for his autobiography was for much of his career the darling of the Israeli right, which chanted “Arik, King of Israel!” invoking his nickname and comparing him to the legendary biblical King David.
Is it coincidental that Jesus is also often referred to as “The King of Israel?”
After reading about a newly published scientific book titled The Mystery of the Shroud, which attempts to prove that the Shroud of Turin actually dates back to the time of Jesus, I planned on writing what you are about to read.
Then, an hour before my scheduled writing time, I “just happened” to notice a Facebook post that read:
Christmas was the promise — Easter is the proof.
That phrase truly resonated with me because of the word “proof.”
But do believers really have proof that Jesus was resurrected from the dead?
After twenty years of reading about and studying the Shroud of Turin (and even viewing it in 2010), I have all the “proof” I need. Although let me state emphatically that my faith — and the faith of most people who are celebrating “Resurrection Sunday” today — does not depend on any physical proof whatsoever.
For we know that Jesus is alive and His Spirit lives in us; that is all the proof we need.
Still, physical proof of Christ’s resurrection would be useful, especially when one tries to convince loved ones to believe in what more than a billion people around the world believe today.
So what if this new Shroud of Turin scientific study really does prove conclusively that the Shroud cloth dates back to the time of Jesus? Does that mean mankind finally has the proof it needs to believe that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead after dying on the cross?
We are certainly getting close to “proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” and here are some reasons why this is happening now.
Last week on PJ Lifestyle I read with great interest a piece by P. David Hornik titled “What Near-Death Experiences Tell Us.” With “great interest” refers to my long-time fascination with near-death experiences (NDEs), which began in 1994 after a friend gifted me the book Embraced By The Light by Betty J. Eadie.
The book, according to my friend, was a “must read.” As proof, she claimed it was still on the New York Times best seller list after an entire year. (For the record, Embraced By The Light was #1 on the New York Times list in September 1993 and in the top ten for 78 weeks. Subsequently, it became the fifth bestselling book of the 1990s.)
Embraced By The Light, published in 1992, was Eadie’s personal account of her near-death experience after an operation gone awry in 1973.
Then, for more than a decade, Eadie was hesitant to write or speak about her NDE out of fear that people (including family members) would think she was totally nuts, or would not believe her story.
What makes Eadie’s NDE so controversial and intriguing is the title of the book itself. Because, immediately upon reaching heaven, Betty was “embraced by the light,” and that light was Jesus Christ and he made himself known to her.
Betty is then taken on an unforgettable tour of heaven which she describes in great detail. Throughout the book, Jesus teaches Betty His message of eternal and unconditional love. But despite her pleas to stay in heaven, Jesus sends her back to earth because it was “not yet her time.” The book concludes with Jesus’ final message to Betty, “Above all else, love one another.”
Like millions of other readers around the world (the book was published in 130 countries, translated into 38 languages, and to this date has sold over 20 million copies), I was totally captivated by Embraced. This captivation stemmed from my belief in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. But Betty’s NDE account, the first one I had ever read, only served as sweet confirmation that the “benign deity” (the phrase used by Hornik in his piece) not only exists, but that we will meet Him face to face “when it is our time.”
Here’s a video of Eadie on the Oprah Winfrey Show in the ’90s, when Embraced was a best-selling book:
About five years ago, after my husband and I first heard Paul Wilbur perform at a messianic temple in Ft. Lauderdale, we became instant fans. Since then, we have played his CDs in our cars repeatedly.
Wilbur’s songs appeal to traditional Jews and Christians alike. He has performed in Israel on numerous occasions, and his love for that nation, coupled with his own Jewish heritage and love of Christ, is the hallmark of his music ministry, making him a unique performer.
As a result, Wilbur’s popularity as a singer, songwriter and praise/worship leader has grown tenfold around the world since we first heard him perform in a small venue.
His music resonates with me, and not just because we are both Jewish believers in Jesus Christ, but in the extraordinary way his songs fill any room (or car) with passion and love.
Now, as so often happens when I’m inspired to write something with a spiritual theme for PJ Lifestyle, a deeper dimension of the topic is revealed while I am doing “research.” (A quick Google search.)
Such was the case with Paul Wilbur. I had already decided to write about him because I thought PJ Lifestyle Sunday readers would appreciate knowing about him and hearing some of his music.
That was when I discovered, just this past December, Paul Wilbur made history as the first singer to perform at a religious concert event in Cuba with the full permission and “blessing” of the communist Cuban government.
Watch him here as he speaks about this historic trip.
His Cuban concerts were truly amazing events for this struggling nation and its oppressed people.
Perhaps, just the fact that Wilbur’s two “praise and worship” performances were even allowed to proceed, is a signal that some potentially major political, social and or spiritual changes are about to be instituted by the Cuban government.
Which begs the questions, “Is God at work in Cuba and if so, is HE using Paul Wilbur as a catalyst?”
Only time will tell, but in the meantime, check out Paul Wilbur Ministries and discover what a tour de force he has become around the world.
And, if you are ever presented with the opportunity to see him perform live, do not hesitate. Trust me when I tell you your faith walk could be impacted, even if you have little faith or none at all.
Finally, I will close with a video of Paul Wilbur performing a song that ranks high among my favorites.
Please do watch until the very end, for this song builds and soars and I predict your spirits will be uplifted right along with it.
Anyone on a faith walk will eventually ask the question, “How do I pray?”
Except for the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, there is no easy answer, for prayer is a very personal and personalized pursuit.
And, as with all pursuits, practice is the key to success and prayer is no different.
You will soon discover the more you pray, the more you will find answers to difficult questions, along with mental or physical healing from various maladies, protection for you or your loved ones and comfort from any number of storms that happen to be raging in your life.
Whatever the current state of your prayer life, even if you do not have one, or practice no faith at all, here is a powerful “prayer exercise” that you should find very beneficial.
Back in 1990 I first experienced this exercise in a group while attending a prayer seminar at my church. During the course of the exercise, the answer to a personal spiritual question that had been plaguing me for 15 years was instantly revealed.
Thus, I immediately became a huge believer in this prayer exercise and since have shared it with many others over the years. You too might find some answers but only if you are truly honest and unafraid to ask or face the most difficult questions or issues in your past or present circumstances.
So without further ado, here is the exercise.
Jesus is visiting your neighborhood. He is going house to house and will be at your door in five minutes.
Will you let him in?
What will you say to Him when he appears at your door?
What is He going to ask you?
What questions are you going to ask Him?
Are there any rooms in your home that you do not want him to see?
Any closets, drawers, photos, or computer files that you want to hide from Him?
Pray about these questions for five minutes.
(Five minutes passes)
Knock, knock Jesus has arrived.
Greet Him at the door or ask Him to go away.
If you invite Him in, visualize actually letting him in the door of your home or apartment as you would any guest.
You may even offer Him something to drink or eat.
Just let the visit unfold.
Perhaps you might want to take him on a tour of your home. Or ask him to sit down as you begin chatting in your most comfortable space.
Remember to discuss the questions or issues you identified in the first part of the exercise.
His visit can last as long as you want because, as the Bible says: I will never leave you nor forsake you.
However, in my group prayer seminar His visit lasted about 10 minutes.
After that time, the prayer leader asked our group if anyone was willing to share their experience of “Jesus’ visit.” Many did, but I was still in shock from His most perfect answer to my question, so I remained uncharacteristically silent.
This exercise is effective in a group setting or when one is alone. Adults, teenagers or even children can be enthralled by this 15 minute “visit with Jesus,” if participants take it seriously and deal with sometimes difficult personal issues honestly.
For a different twist, you could even visualize Jesus walking around your office building for five minutes visiting others before He shows up at YOUR office.
Even though it has been 23 years since I was first introduced to this prayer exercise, my experience was so enlightening it was imprinted on my heart and soul forever.
Do not be surprised if you have similar results. This exercise is extremely powerful because it presents Jesus as someone who you can communicate with in a two-way conversation.
And, after all isn’t that what prayer is anyway, a conversation with God?
Finally, this week on a country music station I heard the song, If I Could Have A Beer With Jesus for the first time. This song by Thomas Rhett reminded me of my 1990 prayer seminar experience and that is the reason why you just read what you read.
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Recently a former college roommate of my husband’s requested that once again I write about classic rock music; so Bob Z. from Pittsburgh, PA this column is for you!
Like many of my past classic rock pieces this one is meant to foster group discussion at social gatherings or stimulate some “deep” personal thinking after imbibing an adult beverage or two.
And nothing stimulates deep personal thinking more than the question: What are your top 10 favorite Beatles songs?
Before I reveal my list, I can almost hear my Father saying, “The Beatles are just a passing fad.” That was his response in 1964 after watching them perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, reflecting an opinion commonly held by many parents at the time.
Except that “passing fad” dramatically affected culture, helped impact world events and changed music forever, along with the hearts, minds and souls of every baby boomer born in the first wave from 1946 to 1955.
So with all that in mind, here are my top 10 favorite Beatles songs.
This song is so hauntingly beautiful that 45 years later, it sounds as fresh and vibrant as it did when it first appeared on the “White Album.”
Below is George Harrison singing a post-Beatles acoustic version.
A perfect song for remembering or honoring someone you love, and often heard at funerals or “life celebrations.”
In my opinion, In My Life does not receive the accolades it deserves as one of the Beatles most melodic and meaningful songs.
Today, Come Together sounds as bizarre and beautiful as it did when I first heard it at age 14.
4. Back in the U.S.S.R. - Paul McCartney, 1968 – The Beatles “White Album”
How can anyone sit still while listening to this song?
But most important the song reminds us of the Beatles’ role in hastening the demise of Soviet communism.
5. I Want You (She’s So Heavy) - John Lennon, 1969 - Abbey Road
This was another Beatles breakthrough song that sounded like no other in 1969 and I chronicled the experience of hearing it for the first time in this Classic Rock series.
6. Here Comes the Sun - George Harrison, 1969 – Abbey Road
Such a happy song of hope! It is nearly impossible not to be uplifted after hearing it.
7. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) - Lennon/McCartney, 1965 – Rubber Soul
Another groundbreaking song known for the first time a sitar was used by a rock band.
I always loved the main guitar riff along with the catchy tune.
9. Paperback Writer - Lennon/McCartney, 1966 - (Released only as a single but later appeared on several Beatles compilation albums.)
Such an engaging song with an unforgettable guitar riff that hooked the 11-year-old me onto music that eventually evolved into “heavy metal,” explaining my love for Led Zeppelin.
An overlooked Beatles masterpiece that never got the attention it deserved because many of their greatest songs were released around this same time.
So what’s on your list?
Every aging baby boomer has many favorite Beatles songs, but now it’s time to commit to naming your top 10.
Making this task easier, I have provided a list of all the Beatles songs ever recorded. Then, if you were in the “3rd reading group” and need even further assistance, here is Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs.
Go get started now so we can have some fun reading each others’ lists, while at the same time stimulate your brain with some “deep personal thinking.”
It is amazing how 48 years later this “passing fad” still continues to entertain and has stood the test of time.
Related on Rock ‘n’ Roll at PJ Lifestyle:
In 1967 the Beatles song “When I’m Sixty-Four” appeared on the now iconic Sgt. Pepper album, and many, including this writer, considered age 64 “old.” (Of course, I was only 12, but 64 was old at that time.)
But when General Norman Schwarzkopf recently died at age 78, I did not consider him old.
So what happened to change my view of when old age begins?
Well for starters, I got old along with the 76 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 who are affectionately known as “baby boomers.” Boomers transformed America at every stage of life. Unfortunately, our nation was totally unprepared for all the change we brought every step of the way and now is no different.
Last year at an Aging in America conference, Ken Dychtwald, CEO of the consulting firm AgeWave, summed it up like this:
“We weren’t prepared for the boomers,” he said. “There weren’t enough hospitals or pediatricians. There weren’t enough bedrooms in our homes. There weren’t enough schoolteachers or textbooks or playgrounds. The huge size of this generation has strained institutions every step of the way.”
Then Dychtwald compared his New Jersey high school, with such overcrowding that students had to go to classes in shifts, to what’s in store for aging baby boomers in the coming decades.
“The boards of education had 13 years to see this coming. What was the surprise there?” said Dychtwald. “But it’s the same today with senior care and geriatric medicine and continuum of care. It’s staggering how unprepared we are.”
Yes, it is staggering indeed — and, as the saying goes, “we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
“It must be him, it must be him, oh dear God, it must be him or I shall die.”
Before the advent of answering machines, and decades before mobile communications and social media, waiting by the phone for your man to call was an ancient mating tradition that single women of all ages thankfully will never again have to endure.
I was reminded of this dating ritual since we are on the cusp of celebrating what is traditionally known as the greatest date night of all, New Year’s Eve.
While wracking my brain thinking of a suitable baby boomer topic applicable to this holiday, it hit me… New Year’s Eve, 1971, when I was a high school sophomore and my boyfriend was a senior.
All that stands out about that evening was my having to wait by the phone for my boyfriend to call to tell me the time he was coming by to take me to a house party (where someone’s parents were out of town).
As 5 pm turned into 6 pm, turned into 7 pm, turned into 8 pm, I became extremely anxious, especially when my mother said, “Would it be so bad if you stayed home?” (Yea mom, how about the end of the world as I know it.)
When Mr. Considerate finally called at 8 pm the trauma ceased. But thinking back upon that 1971 New Year’s Eve, it was how waiting by the phone helped form five positive personality traits that women like me did not even realize we were developing. Eventually these five traits served baby boomer women extremely well as we made our way through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s taking advantage of all the new career opportunities that the women’s movement afforded.
Here are the five personality traits aging baby boomer women learned while waiting by the phone.
When you were forced to accept someone else’s timetable you learned it was not just all about you. Waiting by the phone developed patience and was superb training for almost any career and life in general.
This feeling was experienced when you finally realized that he was not going to call after he said (or you assumed) he would. Learning to cope with rejection without feeling like a complete loser was an important life lesson. The key was to think about all your positive attributes that this man was obviously missing. Then move ahead and don’t look back. This concept was easily applied to the professional world, especially if you were a business owner or involved in sales of any kind. Women of a certain age who experienced sitting by the phone waiting for him to call learned how to be resilient in the face of rejection.
3. Self worth/Self esteem
You waited by the phone and he did call. High five! You were on top of your game. All your flirting skills worked and you were the master of the feminine universe. (But sometimes you discovered that he was not worth waiting for!)
Later in life this same initial exhilaration was experienced when you landed a new job or a new client/contract/project was won. But you never let it go to your head. One learned early on that you must never be cocky because rejection in love or life could be lurking right around the corner.
He called, (maybe even weeks after he said he would) and you refrained from telling him that he was an insensitive jerk. But since you were really glad to hear from him you said no such thing. Later in the business world this skill came in handy when “the customer was always right” even if he/she was not.
5. Playing the Game
Once while chatting with some guy friends in my high school classes they admitted to me that often they did not call a girl after they said they would because they did not want to appear “pussy whipped.” (Yes, that was the operative term at the time.) So from this conversation I learned that there was a lot of game playing going on when it came to the timing of “the call.”
As a result, my friends and I would discuss when it was time to stop waiting and time to start living. (However, flirting with his friends was always an appropriate response.) The lesson “stop waiting and start living” developed into positive personality traits that were applicable to many future life situations.
But alas, girls/women today don’t have to deal with any of this waiting by the phone. In fact, waiting is a thing of the past since now there is no stigma attached to calling a boy before he calls you. Girls today will call, text, tweet, Facebook, or email and if that does not get his attention they will have their friends call, text, email, Facebook or tweet. From what I have heard about today’s dating habits, “whatever it takes” to catch the attention of the man of the moment seems to be acceptable behavior.
This behavior is a result of both the instant communications revolution and the women’s movement which generally has made the girls/women of today much more aggressive than my friends or I ever were in high school and college.
Perhaps this more aggressive behavior is cultural “payback” for all the countless hours their baby boomer mothers and grandmothers spent waiting by the phone especially in the weeks leading up to important date nights like New Year’s Eve. For around that time whenever the phone rang, teenage girls and young women were conditioned into thinking, “It must be him, it must be him, please be him or I will die.”
Happy New Year’s everyone!
More on generations at PJ Lifestyle:
On Christmas Eve, gather up your loved ones and to listen to Amy Grant sing Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song).
This is my favorite modern Christmas song and one I cannot listen to without tearing up.
The song takes you inside the mind and heart of the person who would become the world’s most revered Jewish teenage mother as she is about to give birth, in the most difficult of circumstances, to a baby she was chosen to bear — the One who will impact the world like no other.
Merry Christmas to all and especially those who truly love this mother and Baby.
With over 40 million views, this video captures the essence of the article you are about to read.
A funny thing happened “on the way” as I was contemplating writing this piece. While listening to a Christian radio station the announcer said, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”
At that moment this very familiar phrase hit me like a thunderbolt. For not only is “Jesus the reason for the season,” but Jesus is the reason our world, nation, history, culture and society are the way they are.
So regardless of whether you believe in Jesus, practice another faith, or are devoid of faith, Jesus has impacted you by virtue of the fact that you are alive.
For no person has affected mankind – past, present and future –more than this Jewish teacher who lived over 2000 years ago, whose birth we will celebrate with great fanfare.
Although Jesus’ life, death and resurrection were the impetus behind His followers’ establishing Christianity, the world’s largest religion itself is only the starting point for the influence Jesus spawned in countless non-religious venues as people over the centuries were moved and motivated by Him to express themselves in a multitude of ways that we continue to see played out everyday across the planet.
With so many examples of Jesus Christ’s effect on mankind it is impossible to even mention them all in this short piece — the purpose of which is to not only enhance your celebration of “the reason for the season” but to also increase your awareness of just how much Jesus impacts the world around you every day of the year.
If after reading this piece you are moved to delve deeper into this topic, I recommend a book published in 1994 that has since become a “modern classic,” What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?, co-authored by the late Dr. D. James Kennedy and the still very much alive Jerry Newcombe.
This book had a profound influence on me as it oriented my thinking about Jesus in ways that I had never contemplated.
So here in alphabetical order is only a short, incomplete list of the most obvious “non-religious” aspects of how Jesus Christ has impacted the world.
My new car comes equipped with a three month trial subscription to Sirius XM radio and when Patriot Channel talk gets repetitive, I occasionally switch to 60′s on Channel 6, where I know the words to every song.
So the other day I happened to hear a song which really jolted my memory bank. It was A Taste of Honey by Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass, but while listening, all I could think about was the album cover.
And if you are of a certain age, you know exactly what I mean.
In 1965 when the album, Whipped Cream and Other Delights, was released the cover was considered “veddy” racy.
And here is the hit song, A Taste of Honey from the album.
Whipped Cream was my parent’s album, but even as a Beatles loving 10-year-old I enjoyed it along with them. However, it was the cover that really made an impression. I even remember spreading whipped cream all over my arms in tribute to the girl on the cover.
This Sirius XM Radio childhood flashback got me thinking about what other album covers made lasting, even mind blowing visual impressions. So here is that small stack of album covers which came tumbling off a dusty shelf in the far reaches of my brain — presented in chronological order.
The Mamas and the Papas — If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears
In the middle of 1966 Beatlemania, this album by the Mamas and the Papas was released. To me, the music and the cover were equally impactful, for sitting in a bathtub fully dressed struck me as rather extreme. Chiefly responsible for the brain dent was Michelle Phillips, who was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen, wearing those jeans and cowboy boots. I remember getting into our dry bathtub pretending to be her. Yes, I was an impressionable pre-teen!
The Beatles — Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Of course the most famous album cover in history absorbed hours of 1967 summer time fun for me and my friends as we tried in vain to identify all the faces on the cover. Since we were stumped by so many, I remember having to ask my parents. (Oh the horror of asking your parents to explain a Beatles album cover!) But I had no choice since Google was 31 years in the future. Now, in one Google second here is the complete list. (How I love the modern age!)
Psychedelic flower power anyone? Released in November of 1967, this album cover fascinated me. On the inside I loved Cream’s music too, but something about the album design with all the fuchsia colors, totally blew my 12-year-old mind and opened doors of endless creative possibilities.
Traffic – The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
This 1971 album by Traffic was so graphically unique with its die-cut design, it truly broke new ground and decades later the title song is still one of my favorite classic rock tunes. So here is a 1972 live version to enjoy, especially if it has been awhile since you have heard Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.
We must not fret about the passing of album cover art for it now lives on the net with many sites dedicated to its greatness. There are also numerous cover art quizzes that will be used as “game time” trivia at nursing homes around 2040 when I am in my 80’s. (Now at my mother’s nursing home they play trivia contest games with Broadway show tunes and my mother is often the proud winner of a new fluffy nap blanket.)
Speaking of getting old, here is the Whipped Cream girl from that famous 1965 album cover now age 76.
So what classic rock covers blew your mind at a tender age?
And if you can recall them now, remember them for later when a new fluffy nap blanket is at stake.
Certainly all you aging baby boomers out there remember this song.
It was 1969 when Spirit in the Sky first hit the airwaves and we used to all sing the chorus:
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that’s the best
As I sang along, the lyrics invoking the name of Jesus confused me since Spirit in the Sky was performed by Norman Greenbaum who had an obvious Jewish sounding last name.
Noticing that, I distinctly remember thinking, “why would someone who was Jewish sing about Jesus?”
Important to note here: I too was Jewish. However, since my parents were totally non-religious, so was I. But there was one aspect of my heritage about which I was totally versed and that was Jews did not believe in Jesus.
My questioning this belief began around the age of 11 as I was singing a Christmas carol in school.
(During the 1960s in my public school everyone sang Christmas carols, regardless of your faith.)
The song which sparked my question was The First Noel, with its chorus, “born is the King of Israel.”
Since my Jewish family did not celebrate Christmas (a real bone of contention with me from a very early age) I began wondering why we ignored this Jewish Jesus who I just learned from a song was “born the King of Israel.”
Prompted by this phrase, I asked my mother, “Why don’t we believe in Jesus if He was born the King of Israel?”
Her scholarly reply was “because we are Jewish.”
Now fast forward a few years, as I am listening to Norman Greenbaum sing:
I got a friend in Jesus
So you know that when I die
He’s gonna set me up with the spirit in the sky
These lyrics, combined with the Christmas carol incident just left me more confused about this “forbidden Jesus,” who was “born the King of Israel” and now I hear is “gonna set me up with the spirit in the sky.”
Throughout my teenage years more seeds of religious curiosity were planted, eventually sprouting into a glorious garden leading me to be baptized, “in the name of Jesus” at the age of 21.
So how many of you practice a faith that is different from the one in which you were born and raised?
Many of you is my guess.
For the record, baby boomers are a relatively religious bunch. According to Pew Research:
Among Baby Boomers, 43% say they are a “strong” member of their religion, a higher share than among younger adults and a lower share than among older ones. Four-in-ten say they attend religious services at least once a week.
Then, a new Gallup study on religion just released this week states:
Although it is always difficult to predict the future, certain trends in the age composition of the American public suggest that religion may become increasingly important in the years to come. This is mostly the result of the fact that the number of Americans who are 65 and older will essentially double over the next 20 years, dramatically increasing the number of older Americans. As long as these aging baby boomers become more religious as they age — following the path of their elders — the average religiousness in the population will go up.
So from Pew and Gallup we learn that Christianity, and this message, as reflected in the Spirit in the Sky lyrics is increasingly striking a chord with aging baby boomers:
Prepare yourself, you know it’s a must
Gotta have a friend in Jesus
So you know that when you die
He’s gonna recommend you to the spirit in the sky
While researching this piece I discovered some interesting facts.
Mr. “Spirit in the Sky,” Norman Greenbaum was born in 1942 (which means he is NOT a baby boomer) and is from my hometown of Boston.
Since my maternal Grandmother’s maiden name was also Greenbaum and she settled in Boston after arriving from Russia around 1910, is it safe to assume that Norman and I are somehow related?
Furthermore, Wiki has this to say about my newly discovered long lost relative:
Although “Spirit in the Sky” has a clear Christian theme, Greenbaum was, and still is, a practicing Jew. Greenbaum says he was inspired to write the song after watching country singers Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner singing a religious song on television.
Regardless of Norman’s motives in writing his only hit, the song played a role in bringing me to believe that Jesus was and is the Jewish Messiah, “born the King of Israel.”
(And as you can imagine, Dora Greenbaum Cohen’s daughter, my non-religious Jewish mother Gloria Cohen Kahn, was not at all happy about my embracing that Jewish King.)
So please do comment about any family trauma your faith change may have caused and we can all compare notes.
Just in time for Christmas, Pope Benedict XVI is out with a new book entitled Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives that is generating headlines and debunking some traditional elements of the Christmas story.
Some of the tradition debunking includes:
Jesus’ birth year, just a few (or several) years earlier than previously thought – now calculated between 7 B.C. and 2 B.C. rather than 1 A.D.
Obviously this throws a small wrench in the wheel of time for all earth and human history since B.C. means Before Christ and A.D. means Anno Domini representing the birth of Christ. (Oh well, just a small “blunder” by some sixth century monk!)
Christmas (Christ’s mass) has no basis in historical fact as celebrated on December 25 since A.D. 353, when Pope Julius I selected and authorized that day.
And the worst news of all is reserved for Christmas stores everywhere because the Pope says no cute animals were present at the manger nativity scene – no donkeys, no fuzzy little lambs or adorable friendly oxen.
Wow, this marketing savvy Pope obviously knows what it takes to sell books in the 21st century, while providing some great new material for late night comics.
But seriously, do any of these revelations really matter to the true followers of Jesus? After all HE is the real “reason for the season” regardless of when the real season really began.
“Christ’s mass” could be celebrated on any day, in whatever B.C. or A.D. year is deemed appropriate and it would still be just as sacred because the exact date is immaterial as to why Christians believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord, Savior, God, Messiah, King of Kings, etc.
In fact there is only one day in particular that really matters to Christians. That day is the reason we are still even talking about a poor Jewish preacher who lived and died a couple of thousand years ago after suffering a horrible death. That day of course is Easter Sunday.
Without Easter Sunday, that is without the resurrection of Jesus Christ there is no Christianity. But because He rose from the dead, thus fulfilling numerous Old Testament Jewish Bible prophesies about his birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection, His Spirit lives. Christ is alive for those who believe in Him, not just because we read about Him in the Bible or heard about Him in church but because we have experienced Him first hand. Christ intervenes in our lives!
So because of who HE is, Jesus, born with or without the presence of cute lambs on (pick a date or year) will still be the central figure around which the world’s largest religion thrives.
It is my belief the Pope’s officially “debunking” the Christmas date and some associated traditions, exposes all Christians to potential ridicule by non-Christians as the “War on Christmas” continues in our increasingly secular society where the word “Christmas” is being replaced by “holiday” ever more each passing year and Christianity itself is on the wane in our nation.
But meanwhile, across the globe, Christianity with 2.2 billion followers, one–third of the planet’s population, is currently experiencing exponential growth, particularly in Africa and even in forbidden places like the Middle East where millions of Christians risk their lives and limbs to worship Him in secret churches.
However, the most spectacular Christian growth of all, with the greatest potential to change the world, is happening right now in China, where Christianity is spreading like “wild fire.”
Some sources on the ground are stating that a full 10% of the estimated 1.4 billion Chinese are now practicing Christians. If true, this means there are 150 million Christians in China, with more on the way, since the Communist Party is now encouraging its growth!
And many Catholics I imagine would love to receive the Pope’s new book during this “not historically factual” gift giving season, but the gift I wish for is that the real meaning of Christmas be restored as “Christ’s mass” throughout our culture rather than the current trends downplaying it.
Then perhaps here in the USA we could truly celebrate the birth of our Savior everyday along with his life, death, resurrection and Holy Spirit that lives within us, not just in passing for a few weeks during extended “holiday” shopping hours.
If that happened, I am confident overall we would be a much happier, hopeful and productive nation. For increased faith in Christ would positively affect all Americans regardless of whether they were followers of the Jewish preacher whose birthday and year is totally irrelevant.
Jesus Lives and that is all that matters to me and billions of others around the globe this Christmas season.
Recently while dining with my favorite husband at a restaurant with live music, the singer performed Danny’s Song, an old favorite of mine.
Since I had not heard this song in years it touched a raw emotional chord in my memory bank and the song has stayed on my mind ever since.
At the height of the song’s popularity I was a 16-year-old sophomore in high school. Whenever it played on the radio (which was quite frequently) my girlfriends and I would sing along at the top of our lungs.
But above all I remember the lyrics making a huge psychological impact on me, helping formulate my sweet 16 view of love, relationships and future marriage.
Now looking back at the song from my 57-year-old perspective it was the chorus that imprinted itself on my heart.
And even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with ya honey, everything will bring a chain of love.
And in the morning when I rise, you bring a tear of joy to my eyes,
And tell me everything is gonna be alright.
As a teenager that chorus spoke to me saying “whether you are rich or poor, love conquers all.”
I truly embraced the message.
Then of course you grow up and strap yourself in for a ride on the roller coaster of life. When hurricanes strike and the roller coaster gets swept out to sea (like this one in New Jersey recently) with you still on it, but your partner is gone and your wallet is empty, then you wise up and realize that song’s message was just a sweet 16 fairy tale.
As many aging baby boomers experienced their roller coaster ride through life, money issues were often deal breakers in marriages.
My peers may have started out singing “even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with ya honey” but then we watched as the record got severely scratched or broken after the roller-coaster took some sharp unexpected turns.
Since I like to think of myself as a one person aging baby boomer focus group… and if I was so heavily impacted by this song’s idyllic message, how many of you were as well?
In the comments section, you are allowed to stomp on your ex who stole your wallet, but just do not use real names!
On the other hand, if you are still in your first baby boomer marriage that is a testament to Danny’s Song, congratulations, and please share your story, but don’t make the rest of us feel too bad.
And get caught up on Myra’s previous Baby Boomer nostalgia adventures in this series’ predecessor, Classic Rock and Cheap Wine:
In 1972 (or what I like to refer to as “prehistoric times” before cell phones, internet or cable) I was a junior at Needham High School in Needham, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.
In homeroom, my assigned seat was next to a student named Peter, who my friends had designated “most likely to die of a drug overdose.” But Peter, despite “having issues,” had cultivated a reputation for being on the cutting edge of rock music hip-ness.
So one day during homeroom “quiet time,” I passed Peter a note asking what bands he was currently listening to and he wrote back Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and Fleetwood Mac.
These names fascinated me because I had yet to hear of any of them.
Why do I even remember this note passing incident from 40 years ago?
Two reasons: first, as predicted, not long after high school Peter tragically died of a drug overdose. And second, the music of the bands named in Peter’s note formed a prophetic soundtrack for my life in the years ahead.
Starting in September of 1973, Pink Floyd and I had a monumental first meeting during my freshman year at Ohio State University. The experience resulted in lifelong friendship bonds chronicled here a few months ago.
Then there is Black Sabbath, or rather Ozzy Osbourne. Although I was never a big fan of his, the lyrics, “I am going off the rails of the crazy train” is a favorite phrase that occasionally pops up in my writing, but more often in conversation when I am describing the current state of our nation.
But most prophetic was Fleetwood Mac, a band with whom I had a love affair which lasted years. Later in 1972 a friend introduced me to their new album called Bare Trees. A good album I thought, but not life altering.
But in 1977, during my senior year in college, Fleetwood Mac released the album Rumours and that was life altering. Songs from Rumours were always playing in the background as I transitioned from college to Washington D.C with first jobs and first marriage.
I will not bore you with all the tawdry details of why I am so emotionally tied to this album, but please do write some comments about yours! For if you are about my age I know you have some, because this album greatly impacted millions of baby boomers.
Especially one 1946 “first crop” baby boomer by the name of Bill Clinton, who in 1992 revived the popularity of Rumours and Fleetwood Mac by choosing Don’t Stop Thinking about Tomorrow as his presidential campaign theme song.
President Clinton even convinced the band to get back together to play at his 1993 inaugural ball.
Back in the late 70’s, due to the popularity of Rumours, I discovered the first and only album by Lindsey Buckingham and Steve Nicks entitled Buckingham Nicks. This spectacular album, largely forgotten and never released on CD, was a foreshadowing of this duo’s future greatness. Here is the entire album if you have never heard it.
So in honor of Rumours, Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey, Stevie and Peter (may he rest in peace) what shall we drink?
Absolutely nothing but spring water! Because this morning I am sitting in Manitou Springs, Colorado elevation 6,412 feet with a pounding headache that started last night after I imbibed three glasses of Pinot Noir with my dinner of wild boar spare ribs and a few bites of my husband’s antelope.
Apparently, since I now live at sea level (literally next to the sea), an elevation of 6,412 feet and wine do not make beautiful music together for this aging baby boomer.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone and may I recommend that your family along with ours sing this really classic song before dinner.
And will someone please try that “favorite rock song conversation game” I wrote about recently over the long holiday weekend when gossiping about other family members finally runs dry?
No discussion of classic rock (especially among aging female baby boomers) can be complete without mentioning Yusuf Islam or “the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens.”
(We all need to thank Prince for that phrase commonly used after he changed his name to a symbol.)
If you need your memory refreshed after over four decades, here is what Wiki says about Cat Stevens:
Yusuf Islam (born Steven Demetre Georgiou, 21 July 1948), commonly known by his former stage name Cat Stevens, is a British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, educator, philanthropist, and prominent convert to Islam.
His early 1970s record albums Tea for the Tillerman and Teaser and the Firecat were both certified triple platinum in the United States by the RIAA. His 1972 album Catch Bull at Four sold half a million copies in the first two weeks of release alone and was Billboard‘s number-one LP for three consecutive weeks. He has also earned two ASCAP songwriting awards in consecutive years for “The First Cut Is the Deepest“, which has been a hit single for four different artists.
Stevens converted to Islam in December 1977 and adopted the name Yusuf Islam the following year. In 1979, he auctioned all his guitars for charity and left his music career to devote himself to educational and philanthropic causes in the Muslim community.
Now that you have been reminded of the pertinent Cat facts, it is time recall all the memories and emotions attached to his songs. Here are mine.
Besides Led Zeppelin, (which I have discussed ad nauseum) Cat Stevens, representing the mellow side of life, was also a sound track of my 1970 – 1973 years at Needham High School. (Needham is close – in a suburb of Boston, MA.)
During those years, Cat Stevens music consumed numerous hours of my time when I was alone in my room avoiding my parents or with my friends.
Four decades later two particular memories are invoked — lost teenage love and lost teenage job.
First the lost love.
It was during my junior year, when a song from the album Teaser and the Firecat, called “How Can I Tell You,” exemplified my dilemma as it related to the secret love I had for my friend who lived across the street.
(This is the same young man whose car my girlfriends and I “stole” as chronicled in the Three Dog Night, Joy to the World installment of this series.)
Now the lost job.
Sometime during my senior year I visited Cape Cod with some friends and did things kids in the ’70s used to do on weekends. Cat Stevens albums were playing non-stop, when as an irresponsible 17-year-old, I called my boss at the local drugstore where I worked part-time to inform him that I was at the Cape and was not planning to make it to work on Sunday. He told me this meant I would be fired and I told him I understood.
What is it about music that imprints moments like that in your memory bank for decades?
That is the question of the week and one about which you can ponder and comment as you recall your own Cat Stevens music memories. (Sometimes I get the impression this weekly series is turning into a therapy session on lost youth. But that is OK because there is no charge for occupying my virtual couch.)
Now, out of respect for Yusuf Islam, and his Muslim faith which abstains from alcohol, there will be no cheap wine recommendation this week.
Instead, here is a novel idea — why not conger up old Cat Stevens memories without any help from the “fruit of the vine?” Or try the fruit of the vine in another form, as in a nice warm glass of prune juice. Get a head start on a drink all aging baby boomers can look forward to imbibing in the coming decades while you listen to Cat Stevens singing, “Morning Has Broken.”
Besides sex, politics and religion no topic stimulates aging baby boomer cocktail party conversation more than classic rock music. For this is our music; we grew up with it and it is the soundtrack of our lives.
Previously, I have written that asking baby boomers to name their first rock concert is always an engaging conversation starter.
And here is another musical topic, just as engaging – ask boomers to name their five favorite classic rock songs.
Fueled by some adult beverages, this discussion could last until it is time to go home, which for aging baby boomers always seems to be around 11:00pm.
(Ahh, I remember the good old days when 2:00am was my departure time!)
Do you need a few minutes to name your top five favorites?
(Think of this as a Sudoku exercise for brains over the age of 50.)
While the wheels inside your head go round and round, here are my top five:
Kashmir by Led Zeppelin
Question by Moody Blues
While My Guitar Gently Weeps a Beatles song by George Harrison
Imagine just how much you can learn about a person by knowing their top five classic rock songs! (Obviously my selections prove that I am a complex, confused individual with a colorful past and zest for life!)
Now with the election finally coming to a close next week (at least we hope it will be over next week) this means 50% of your friends and family will be ticked off by the results.
So with family holiday gatherings just around the corner here is some useful advice.
Rather than stab your liberal uncle/aunt/sister/cousin/brother-in-law with the turkey carving knife when the dinner conversation turns to the election results, why not change the topic by asking folks to name their five favorite classic rock songs?
Try this friendly topic changer when the heat begins to rise, because if your family is anything like mine, I wish I had thought of this idea a long time ago.
Are you still contemplating your five favorites? If so, what shall we drink to stimulate the thinking process? Correction, what is in my refrigerator?
The answer is sake! Gekkeikan Haiku Sake with its 15% alcohol content.
Lately, I have enjoyed sipping cold sake on the rocks. The bottle, I just noticed has been partially consumed, a sure sign my husband has endorsed my new fad. (After all, he is married to a “complex, confused individual with a colorful past and a zest for life,” so the poor guy needs some relief.)
Gekkeikan Haiku Sake is according to the label: “light, with just a hint of dryness Gekkeikan Haiku brings hundreds of years of sake making experience to the modern palate.”
So when your gathering is boring and needs some lively conversation or it is too lively and relatives are at each other throats, then pour some Gekkeikan Haiku Sake over ice and ask folks to name their five favorite classic rock songs.
This is guaranteed to have the desired effect.
That is until someone yells Freebird and all hell breaks loose!
Did you happen to notice there were 63 million views of this Stairway to Heaven video?
As a loyal reader of this weekly series you know, (even at my advanced age) I am not ashamed of being obsessed with Led Zeppelin, so it is no surprise that Stairway to Heaven is my favorite classic rock song of all time.
When I hear it on the car radio it still “makes me wonder” what is the force that commands me to sit in the car listening to the very end – even after I have reached my destination.
Did you know that Stairway to Heaven has even become a popular funeral song?
But do not expect to hear it played at Robert Plant’s funeral some day because apparently he “loathes” the song.
So why is this 41-year-old eight minute masterpiece with the mysterious lyrics #1 on the “greatest ever” charts?
For starters, unlike most rock songs there is no repeat chorus. Instead the song slowly climbs, like musical stairs, up to an explosive instrumental segment where Jimmy Page shows us why he is Jimmy Page. After which Robert Plant launches into his “rock god” falsetto voice and in the process releases enough raw sexual power and energy to set off a musical “orgasm.”
Maybe that is why generations of young men and women love this song. It symbolizes pure passion without any commitment!
Curious about what my contemporaries now think of Stairway to Heaven I asked two old friends, who both happen to be musically hip aging baby boomers (aging exceptionally well I might add.)
The first, a media consultant who often appears on national cable news shows responded with this pithy one line email: “Stairway to Heaven was the soundtrack to my life in high school.”
The other is a classic rock radio DJ, so I consider his comments about Stairway to Heaven to be “expert opinion.”
He emailed: “Yes, I do like it….it’s ingrained into the fabric of my life!”
Interesting how both these comments reflect a “life” impact.
Then Mr. Classic Rock DJ continues his email with this startling calculation:
I’ve been on the radio for around 34 years….and played Stairway at least once or twice a week…
Let’s look at the numbers… (This is the low ball figure)
Song is about 8 minutes long…
8 minutes times 52 weeks = 416 minutes or 6.9 Hours
6.9 hours times 34 years = 234.6 hours
234.6 hours divided by 24 hours in a day = 9.8 days
10 days of my life have been spent listening to “Stairway.”
That’s just on the air….doesn’t include the amount of times
I heard the song from 1971 (when it came out) to 1978 when
I started in radio!
My takeaway on the song…
“No matter how much opulence she displays on the planet, she still can’t buy her way into the Kingdom!”
Was that the message of Robert Plant’s infamous lyrics? For decades later questions still remain over whether Stairway to Heaven’s music and message was divinely inspired or satanic.
While contemplating heaven or hell may I suggest a nice bubbly to further stimulate the brain.
In past columns, I mentioned my fondness for Prosecco (Italian Sparking Wine) which is growing in popularity because of its light pleasing taste.
Today, I recommend a brand called LaMarca priced at $15.00 or less.
So now, with a glass of LaMarca in hand, let’s toast to the greatest classic rock song of all time and sing some familiar lyrics to which every aging baby boomer can contemplate and relate.
Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on.
And it makes me wonder.
I wonder if someone will remember to play Stairway to Heaven at my funeral many decades from now. (I hope.)
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
In last week’s Classic Rock installment I wrote that if you wanted to spark a lively conversation among aging baby boomers just pose the question, “What was your first rock concert?”
Without a doubt the best answer is any Beatles concert.
But, it just so happens, a close friend, JW from Virginia, attended the first Beatles concert. This was held on February 11, 1964 at the Coliseum in Washington D.C. – two days after the Beatles made their historic appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
After alluding to him in last week’s piece, JW wrote the following comment:
Late winter of ’64 we were still in a funk caused by Kennedy’s Assassination and not yet into the hoopla of the Johnson-Goldwater campaign. Saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan’s in NY, and they were to entertain down the East Coast: Washington and Miami. Manage to get tickets to sold-out Washington show in the round. Ringo was in the middle and on an elevated, rotating platform. They had made the mistake of saying that they like jelly-beans, so we all brought a supply. When the music started the crowd pelted the stage with jelly-beans trying to hit any of the Fab-Four, though Ringo was the principal target. He was up there turning on the platform, dodging the beans. Kids in the lower rows were pelted by the incoming from the other side. It was a blast!
For the record, JW was a high school senior at the time, born in the first baby boom crop of 1946, along with two future presidents, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Reading JW’s comment piqued my interest so he agreed to answer a few questions.
Q. You mentioned in your comment that “we were still in a funk caused by Kennedy’s assassination.” Given that the two events were less than three months apart — can you further elaborate on the emotional connection between Kennedy’s death and the Beatles popularity?
A. The Kennedy assassination was a national shock: our emotions remained subdued during that Christmas holiday and into the cold of late winter 1964. I felt a sense of emptiness, since kids of my age had been so “grabbed” emotionally by the Kennedy Presidency, which was an exhilaration following the drabness of the 1950s. The Beatles lit a spark in us that seemed to re-enliven my peers, and lifted us into our college years. President Johnson was quite dull in comparison, and could not compete with the Beatles as a social phenomenon and distraction
Q. As a 17-year-old in the audience, did you have any inkling that you were watching history being made?
A. Definitely, yes: all the kids were a-buzz about the Fab-Four before they even came to the US. When the first US tour was announced, I knew it would be really big so I went out of my way to get tickets immediately when sales started, and it was sold-out early.
Q. From your perspective 48 years later, what are your lasting impressions of that first Beatles concert?
A. The frenzy of the crowd was unforgettable, and as I described in my comment, arching jelly-beans over the Fab-Four heads into the crowd on the other side was like the food-fight in “Animal House.” Also, Ringo turning around on his elevated turntable and ”I Wanna Hold Your Handdddddddddddddd!!!!!!!!”
Thanks for the memories, JW.
While we are regaling in baby boom nostalgia, JW is truly a walking exhibit! Besides witnessing the first Beatles concert, JW marched in President John Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural parade as a Boy Scout. Then later, as a member of Yale’s 1964 freshman class, that aforementioned 1946 born president, George W. Bush, was one of JW’s classmates.
Like many baby boomers, JW is a fruit of the vine connoisseur, so I asked him to make this week’s cheap wine recommendation. As a Virginian, JW takes great pride in his state’s small, but nationally award- winning wineries and thus chose Naked Mountain Chardonnay.
Fortunately, I am familiar with this quaint, picturesque vineyard situated about 60 miles west of Washington D.C. in Markham, Virginia. And, while enjoying the scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains, have been seen consuming a glass or two of their buttery, richly-flavored oak tasting Chardonnay — so I applaud JW for his refined selection.
Let’s toast to JW and the first 1946 crop of baby boomers who paved the way and changed our nation forever. Now that 10,000 of their younger peers are reaching the age of 65 every day for the next 17 years, they are scheduled to bankrupt Medicare and Social Security — again changing our nation forever.
But that my friends is a discussion for another day.
Check out Myra’s previous Classic Rock and Cheap Wine columns:
Classic Rock & Cheap Wine: A Three Dog Night Without ‘Joy to the World’ After a Trip to the Police Station
If you ever want to start a lively conversation among aging baby boomers just ask the question, “What was your first rock concert?”
There is a definite pecking order of impressive answers.
First, is the Beatles. (I have a close friend who wins this prize.) Second, is Led Zeppelin and then there are many possible answers for third place.
For example, my husband’s first concert was The Who, an acceptable contender. Mine was Jimi Hendrix and if you continue reading you might decide to award me the bronze medal for third.
It was June of 1970, and to celebrate our graduation from Newman Junior High in Needham, Massachusetts, three girlfriends and I went to see Jimi Hendrix.
Hendrix was performing at the now iconic Boston Garden, torn down in 1997, but then the home of basketball’s Boston Celtics and hockey’s Boston Bruins.
As we left the subway station and walked towards the concert, a store with the name Now Shop caught our attention. As 15-year-olds we were attuned to all the social and cultural changes taking place, but this store actually offered us the opportunity to change our look from suburban school-girls to “now.”
Shelves were lined with everything needed to dress like a hippie. There were tie-dye shirts, headbands, sandals, peasant blouses, fringed vests, peace symbols and of course piles of love beads. We all were salivating at the merchandise and bought as much as our meager budgets would allow.
My purchases included a small suede pouch with rawhide ties and two love bead necklaces. Now that the Now Shop transformed our look and our attitude, we were ready for Jimi Hendrix.
On stage he lived up to his reputation playing all his great hits including my two favorites, Foxy Lady and Purple Haze.
Hendrix was an amazing performer, but it was the entire rock concert experience that blew me away. The smells, (you know what I mean) the energy of the crowd, and above all, the excitement of being 15 and feeling a part of something that was so hip, cool and “now.” Yes, the times were a changin’ and we were part of that change.
Just seeing Jimi Hendrix would have been memorable enough, but, as fate would have it, this Boston Garden concert on June 27, 1970 was to be his last.
Less than two months later on September 18th, Jimi Hendrix died at the age of 27 of a drug overdose.
Throughout my life I have felt an emotional connection to Jimi Hendrix since his last concert was my first. In fact, I even mentioned this concert as one of my classic rock credentials in the first installment of this silly series.
Now, what shall we drink as you listen to the actual recording of Jimi’s last concert, showcased at the top of this piece?
Since you are reading about an event that happened to me 42 years ago, that means I am old and old people must drink lots of red wine to sustain their heart health.
The cheap wine recommendation this week is Acacia Pinot Noir. The label reads: “An elegant wine with strong black cherry flavors and an unexpected hint of violet and spice that we believe conveys the essence of California Pinot Noir.”
Yea, yea, who writes this label dribble? I just like the stuff, especially when it is on sale, but can never taste the flavors the label says I am supposed to taste.
So let’s raise our glasses to the legendary music of Jimi Hendrix and a group of once “hip” 15-year-olds who wore love beads to their first rock concert that turned out to be both historic, tragic and unforgettable.