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10 More World War II-Era Classic Songs

Monday, November 17th, 2014 - by Allston

Readers seemed to enjoy this enough that I must agree, an expanded series is in order.  Yes, there were many iconic World War II songs I did not highlight in Part 1 – space limitations prevented me from including them all, else it might have been a 50-video article that no one would’ve read.

That being said, here is the continuation of this list, which includes songs suggested in the comments of Part 1. Ideally, this is how these lists should work, interactively, with people making suggestions for future reference.

These are numbered but not ranked. Frankly, I don’t even see how it would be possible, to say any one of these great songs are “better” than another; turning the radio on then must’ve been a pure delight.

Written about a year after British and German aircraft had been dog-fighting over the aforementioned location. It looked forward to the day when peace would again reign over the cliffs, which are the DeFacto “border” with the European mainland.

1. Vera Lynn – “(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) the White Cliffs of Dover”

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Taylor Swift as the Psycho Girlfriend in Her New Video

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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I think we’ve finally solved the mystery of why Taylor Swift has trouble staying in a relationship. In her new video, “Blank Space,” the usually sweet country star transformed into a nightmare of a psycho girlfriend, trashing her boyfriend’s car, slashing his picture with a knife, and shredding his clothes with scissors — all for (apparently) the crime of spending too much time on his cell phone.

If you listen to Taylor Swift for very long, you’ll notice that in approximately 78.5% of her songs (the “science” is not settled on this) poor Taylor ends up in the middle of the street at 2 a.m. crying over some guy. (I’ve said for years that if she would just go to bed at a reasonable time she could avoid this problem.) All this time we’ve thought if Taylor could just quit chasing after these ne’er-do-well guys, she could find someone nice to settle down with.

After watching “Blank Space,” the second single from Taylor Swifts’s album 1989, I’m now wondering if this freaky, axe-wielding Taylor might actually be the problem.  The liner notes about the song say “there once was a girl known by everyone and no one.”

Is it autobiographical?

I suppose only Taylor’s ex-boyfriends know for sure.

But one thing we do know for sure: Taylor looks spectacular in this video and her gowns are breathtaking.

Watch “Blank Space”on the next page:

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Blondie’s Chris Stein Shrugs Off Iran’s Violent Treatment of Women

Monday, November 3rd, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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Debbie Harry’s ex-boyfriend and Blondie co-founder Chris Stein has just released a photography collection, featuring his lifelong muse.

And why not? No less an authority than rock photography guru Bob Gruen famously said, “You can’t take a bad picture of Debbie Harry.”

Unfortunately, Stein marrs the collection with a stunningly multi-level-stupid comment, regarding his famous picture, above.

Stein quips to who else but The Guardian:

UK tabloids don’t push the limits of credibility any more than their American counterparts, but in a way they got there first. Here, Debbie is reading about sexism under the ayatollah.

Get it? Decades of well-documented, sharia-inspired violence against women in Iran was probably exaggerated, according to Stein, because it was reported by a lower class “red top” English tabloid back in the 1970s.

Stein further ingratiates himself with his British host by slagging stupid, hysterical American “yellow journalists,” too, for no apparent reason.

Factor in the word “sexism” as his mealy-mouthed synonym for “rape, torture and murder,” and it’s quite breathtaking how much smug “enlightened” ignorance Stein managed to squeeze into two just sentences.

Especially the same week that Iranian authorities executed a woman for killing her rapist.

All this from a man I feel safe in presuming voted for Obama twice, and whose views on every subject are reliably, predictably “progressive.”

But of course!

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15 Songs Millennials Must Listen to in Order to Understand the 1980s

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

You’ve seen Thriller and heard all about Madonna, but what do you really know about the decade that ushered in the millennial generation? Think the era of scrunchies, boom boxes, pump sneakers and DeLoreans was just a fad? Think again. Some of the 1990s’ greatest pop culture trends were birthed in the millieu of Reaganomics, cable television, and a music video-loaded MTV.

15. Culture Club – “Karma Chameleon”

The ’80s was the decade of John Waters, the B-52s and all things camp coming to fruition. Decked out in eyeliner, lipstick and braids, Boy George popularized the aesthetic of this gay subculture with a poppy little tune about conflicted relationships. As for the music video, where better to set a gay guy’s love song in the ’80s than an 1870s riverboat called the “Chameleon” where a cheating gambler’s karma comes back to haunt him? Dude, it’s the ’80s: “Don’t ask, don’t tell” started here.

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Beyoncé’s 10 Steps for Becoming a Beyoncé Feminist

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 - by April Bey

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1. Be proud of your body. Just the way it is.

Don’t try changing for anyone; you are beautiful no matter what culture says. Be authentic.

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‘It Takes More Than Identifying as a Feminist to Understand Feminism.’

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 - by Leslie Loftis

In the 36 hours since Beyonce’s muzzled, splayed, headless, and otherwise sexually submissive VMA performance, we’ve seen a comedy sketch at the Emmys that somehow is a setback for feminism because it objectifies women’s bodies. Mollie Hemingway heaped plenty of scorn upon that little inconsistency. But I’m still left wondering how any feminist loved Beyonce’s performance.

Yesterday afternoon, Jessica Valenti went up at the Guardian with this gem of an observation about Beyonce’s performance. After expressing her excitement about Beyonce putting “feminist” “literally in bright lights,” she talked about celebrity popular pressure:

I’m glad that [Taylor Swift] another celebrity  with mass appeal – to young women, especially – is touting a movement necessary for gender justice. But the singer-songwriter calling herself a feminist for the first time in the same week that she released a video in which she twerks and crawls through the disembodied legs of women of color shows that it takes more than identifying as a feminist to understand feminism. (Perhaps as Swift browses the feminist section of bookstores she could pick up something on racism and cultural appropriation. Maybe she could read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, as Beyoncé clearly has?)

I agree with Valenti that it takes more than identifying as a feminist to understand feminism. I am on record claiming that women rallying around a term about which they know little is the major problem of the movement.  But Valenti’s position is that the problem with Taylor Swift’s understanding of feminism isn’t the objectifying nature of twerking, but that Swift is stealing the dance moves of women of color. Women of color are the ones who twerk. That is the essential assumption of the cultural appropriation argument. Maybe Swift isn’t the one in need of a book on racism.

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Beyonce’s 10 Worst, Anti-Woman Songs

Monday, August 25th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Also check out Leslie Loftis’ analysis of Beyonce’s performance at last night’s MTV Video Music Awards here.

10. “Bow Down/I Been On”

The Church of Bey has clearly gone to the pop goddess’s head. A critic at New Wave Feminism writes:

Aside from repeatedly yelling “bow down bitches”, the song also contains lyrics such as “I know when you were little girls / You dreamt of being in my world / Don’t forget it , don’t forget it / Respect that, bow down bitches”. Apparently, Beyoncé thought the appropriate response for young women who admired her and looked up to her was to call them misogynistic slurs and demand they genuflect in her presence.

This Bey Anthem doubles as the death knell of the sisterhood.

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It’s Tough Being The Girl in a Country Song

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 - by Leslie Loftis

Women’s frustration at being used as pretty props in music videos isn’t new and isn’t limited to country music. One of Lily Allen’s recent offerings, “Hard Out Here”, makes the same point as Maddie and Tae do in their debut, “Girl in a Country Song”—women aren’t just ornamental—but Maddie and Tae do it better. By using role reversal and putting the boys in the painted-on cutoff jeans, they successfully achieve the absurd to skewer the use of women as props. Lily Allen’s raunchy choreography and slow-motion closeups didn’t provide enough contrast to typical music videos to achieve the skewering. Plus, Allen’s song was about female physical exploitation in general yet all of her backup dancers doing the crotch slapping choreography were women of color. On the whole, her video leaned more to the hypocritical than the satirical.

Here are both videos for comparison. Allen’s “Hard Out Here” is after the jump as it is NSFW.

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9 Essential Paul McCartney Music Videos

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg
Paul McCartney has had an affinity for filmmaking since shooting A Hard Day’s Night in 1964. The Beatles were the first band to play around with the idea of music videos. Filming a performance was easier than touring; getting artsy with their films was better yet. Beginning with the BeatlesMcCartney’s career chronicles some of the best, worst, and more bizarre in music video history. In honor of the release of Appreciate, here are 9 picks highlighting McCartney’s most adventurous takes in the world of music videos.

1. “Your Mother Should Know” (1967)

From Magical Mystery Tour, this is Macca’s foray into the 1920s. If the song seems odd, check out John Lennon’s face in the opening sequence. You can almost hear him thinking: “Paul, are you kidding me with this crap?” But, they all toked up and bit the bullet for Paul’s attempt to keep the band unified in the wake of Brian Epstein’s accidental overdose, memorializing for all time the image of four raggy hippie dudes dancing badly in white tails.

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10 Recent, Non-Annoying Pop Songs for When You Need the Energy of a Teenager

Saturday, May 17th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

1. “Right Actions” by Franz Ferdinand

This week at PJ Lifestyle for the daily pop culture debates we started a conversation about music. I sympathized with these sentiments from Don in New Hampshire:

In part my loss of interest in much that is called “pop” came from overexposure and, I suppose, disappointed hopes.

I’d done some interesting work, even post Abstracts, including writing and recording for motion pictures. But even at the time, entering my twenties, so much pop music seemed shallow. In its stead I focused on two things:  A return to my early love of classical music, particularly the symphonies of Beethoven and the keyboard works of Bach — these to satisfy the mind — and a turning towards roots music, be it in the form of Delta blues or the more modern Chicago variety — these to satisfy the spirit.

To this day most “pop” music strikes me as very teenagy. So much so that I have trouble understanding how any adult can find it of interest.

Of late I have again started to listen to music once classified as “pop,” but it is from the days when such music was aimed, not a teenagers, but at adults. Music of the Gershwins, for instance, and that of Cole Porter.

And this is, I think, the difference. Today everything in the “arts” seems to be aimed at children.

I was never a huge bubblegum pop music consumer — my tastes ran more toward the “despite all my rage/I’m still just a rat in a cage” Smashing Pumpkins school of adolescent angst. But I do think there is a place for upbeat, fun, simpleminded music: when exercising. I’ve come to appreciate Bach, Mozart, and innovative jazz in recent years but I don’t think it was ever meant to accompany running.

These are some of the tracks that are in my regular rotation for when Maura and I do our morning runs at sunrise. (Note: I make a point to turn the music off at 6:07 when The Morning Answer starts on AM 870 here in Los Angeles. Listening to Ben Shapiro and Elisha Krauss fighting against the inane, narcissistic arguments of their so-called liberal co-host Brian Whitman is also good for inspiring the energy of a teenager first thing in the morning…)

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Paul McCartney’s New Video Aims at #GenerationHashtag

Saturday, May 17th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

You don’t normally think “cultural commentary” when you watch a Paul McCartney video. But, with his latest video release for the song Appreciate, the septuagenarian King of Rock continues to pull new tricks from up his sleeve. This time, a catchy song and dance number transcends the usual McCartney fantasyland, providing some smart commentary on human culture in an increasingly technological environment. In McCartney’s museum, the humans doing everyday things are the displays to be studied by a robot known as “Newman”. An artistic interpretation of left and right brain segments is displayed as McCartney walks this New Man (get it?)  through the exhibit, counselling him on human behavior and how to groove. By the end of the video, even the humans are getting into the act, dropping their technological fancies in favor of dancing to the beat.

The robot itself shouldn’t come as a surprise to hardcore McCartney fans. Back in October, when he graced the cover of Rolling Stone McCartney commented on visions of a robot, possibly influenced by one of his favorite stories shared with his 10 year old daughter, Beatrice, is The Iron Giant. In press for the video’s release, McCartney commented:

“I woke up one morning with an image in my head of me standing with a large robot. I thought it might be something that could be used for the cover of my album ‘NEW,’ but instead the idea turned out to be for my music video for ‘Appreciate’. Together with the people who had done the puppetry for the worldwide hit ‘War Horse,’ we developed the robot who became Newman.”

Having developed a keen interest in filmmaking when he was still one of the Beatles, McCartney has come a long way with his films from his first directorial foray, 1967′s Magical Mystery Tour. Far from the acid-induced country bus tour, Appreciate provides an up-tempo perspective on the 21st century from the guy who, not long ago, was singing about his Ever Present Past.

Yet it isn’t Microsoft that’s keeping Macca relevant among Generation Hashtag; cultural commentary aside, McCartney still knows how to rock a beat. Dubbed a “remarkable album” by POPMatters, NEW was ranked the 4th best album of 2013 by Rolling Stone. Transcending the pop fluff that perpetuated so many of his hits in the 70′s and 80′s, McCartney has entered a new era as much motivated by experimentation as reflection.

McCartney is set to tour with Newman in Japan. Perhaps a Godzilla mashup is already in the works.

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‘To This Day Most ‘Pop’ Music Strikes Me as Very Teenagy.’

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates!

In partnership with the new fiction publishing platform Liberty Island, PJ Lifestyle is going to begin promoting and co-hosting a series of debates and discussions about popular culture. The goal is to figure out what works and what doesn’t so that in the future we can promote and create better fiction and culture of our own. These are public brainstorming sessions for writers and culture advocates interested in developing a more vibrant popular culture. You’re invited to submit your answers to any of these questions — or a related one of your own! — that interests you:

A) in the comments

B) Via email to PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle.

C) at your blog, then let us know in the comments or via email. 

The most interesting answers may be linked, crossposted, or published at PJ Lifestyle. Also check out last week’s writing prompts: 5 Geek Questions To Provoke Debates About the Future of Sci-Fi and Fantasy.

A  response to Monday’s PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates! question: How Did Your Music Tastes Change As You Grew Older?

David,

A fascinating subject.

I do not think my personal journey is likely typical, but perhaps worth sharing none the less.

During the 1960s I was a working musician – one who entered the music scene a little ahead of the crowd (see http://www.60sgaragebands.com/abstracts.html) and saw some small success But for me by the early 1970s that was largely over.

In part my loss of interest in much that is called “pop” came from overexposure and, I suppose, disappointed hopes.

I’d done some interesting work, even post Abstracts, including writing and recording for motion pictures. But even at the time, entering my twenties, so much pop music seemed shallow. In its stead I focused on two things:  A return to my early love of classical music, particularly the symphonies of Beethoven and the keyboard works of Bach — these to satisfy the mind — and a turning towards roots music, be it in the form of Delta blues or the more modern Chicago variety — these to satisfy the spirit.

To this day most “pop” music strikes me as very teenagy. So much so that I have trouble understanding how any adult can find it of interest.

Of late I have again started to listen to music once classified as “pop,” but it is from the days when such music was aimed, not a teenagers, but at adults. Music of the Gershwins, for instance, and that of Cole Porter.

And this is, I think, the difference. Today everything in the “arts” seems to be aimed at children.

Broadway is largely re-dos of Disney animated films and rehashing the lives and music of teen musicians.

Once serious orchestras are doing film scores accompanying projected pop film images. -Something that was once seen merely an adjunct. (Think Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops).

Art museums, too, it seems, have lost their focus on anything that might appear serious or worse, “classical,” preferring to focus on such things as automobile design and fashion.

Yes, my tastes have changed.  I long ago decided to allow myself to “grow up.”

Don Sucher,
Peterborough, NH

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’70s Pop Superstars ABBA Reveal The Truth Behind Their Outrageous Signature Look

Monday, February 17th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Sometimes musicians make decisions that seem to run counter to rock and roll. Björn Ulvaeus, one of the masterminds behind the ’70s pop group ABBA, has revealed in a forthcoming book that their over-the-top fashion choices were not as much about looks as one might believe.

The glittering hotpants, sequined jumpsuits and platform heels that Abba wore at the peak of their fame were designed not just for the four band members to stand out – but also for tax efficiency, according to claims over the weekend.

Reflecting on the group’s sartorial record in a new book, Björn Ulvaeus said: “In my honest opinion we looked like nuts in those years. Nobody can have been as badly dressed on stage as we were.”

And the reason for their bold fashion choices lay not just in the pop glamour of the late 70s and early 80s, but also in the Swedish tax code.

According to Abba: The Official Photo Book, published to mark 40 years since they won Eurovision with Waterloo, the band’s style was influenced in part by laws that allowed the cost of outfits to be deducted against tax – so long as the costumes were so outrageous they could not possibly be worn on the street.

Complaining about taxes is as much a part of rock as partying and heartache – from the Beatles’ anthem “Taxman” to Adele’s rants about tax rates in the UK, musical artists have made public their feelings about paying high taxes for years. Ulvaeus’ admission ups the ante in a certain sense. Who knows? Maybe we’ll start to hear more admissions from musicians on what they’ve done to claim deductions and find loopholes. I guess in some ways rock stars are just like the rest of us.

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What We Taught Our Boys About Girls Like Miley Cyrus

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013 - by Paula Bolyard

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We were those parents — the ones who “sheltered” their kids from much of pop culture as they grew up. Though we didn’t go to the extreme of banishing the television from our home altogether, we strictly controlled the entertainment that we allowed them to see when they were young. Our kids “missed out” on the Disney Channel, the Cartoon Network, and other stations aimed at the younger demographic. We carefully read family movie reviews, not content to rely on the MPAA ratings, and screened the movies accordingly. Our kids did watch some PBS shows, like Barney & Friends and Lamb Chop’s Play-Along, as well as videos that we carefully selected. But we were so crazy-strict that we didn’t even let our kids watch the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake Super Bowl halftime show!

I know. We are so backward and old-fashioned and we deprived our children of a “normal” childhood.

One recurring problem was that we enjoyed watching sports as a family — the Indians, the Browns, the Cavs. We are true Cleveland sports fans and kept cable around so we could catch all of the games. We had no problem with the games themselves, but oh, my…those commercials! We could count on at least 2.5 ads an hour for male-enhancement products during a game and everything from hamburgers to beer being peddled in ads with scantily clad young women flaunting their sexuality to entice viewers to buy a product that usually had no sexual attributes (Danica Patrick pushing Go Daddy web hosting, for example).

We decided that we wanted to allow the good things viewing sports could offer but had concerns about our sweet, impressionable boys being bombarded with sexual images. Our Christian faith teaches the value of modesty (I Peter 3:3-4, 1 Timothy 2:9-10)  and that lust is a sin (Matthew 5:28). Our job was not only to protect our kids from exposure to these things when they were young and impressionable, but also to prepare them for a world in which modesty and purity of the mind are thought of as antiquated notions. After all, the culture teaches that lust is good — it should be indulged and even celebrated. But I reject the argument that we should celebrate the beauty of sexuality and the human body by parading it around in sexually exploitative ways. In contrast, human sexuality is right and good and blessed by God when it is enjoyed within the confines of marriage — not when it’s simulated on the world stage with a foam finger or used to sell hamburgers in a bikini.

So we taught our boys to look away — to avert their eyes whenever a scantily clad girl, intent on sexually enticing viewers, flashed on the screen. We explained that girls who provocatively showcased their wares on TV were not respecting themselves and that it is not respectful to gawk at them. We did not want them desensitized to our hyper-sexualized culture at a young age and wanted them to understand that what seemed common and normal on TV is wrong.

Prudish? Legalistic? Old-fashioned? Maybe. But it was important to us that our boys understood the incredible worth and dignity of women and that they grew up to be men who treated women with the respect they deserve — women who are fellow image-bearers of the God of the universe! We would not approve of the culture’s cheapening and prostituting of women in our home and in the minds of our precious boys. And we want them to someday be dads who cherish and protect their daughters. Any father who celebrates or condones his daughter engaging in behavior that encourages men to have perverse sexual thoughts about his little girl is a bad father.

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The 5 Most Overrated Male Musicians, Part Two

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013 - by Kathy Shaidle

Last time around, I started quite a conversation about the merits, or lack thereof, of Pink Floyd and Bob Marley.

Now we’re dispatching three additional sacred musical cows to the slaughterhouse:

#3: Stevie Wonder

At the risk of wandering into Elvis Costello territory — yes, he really did say this — I’m gonna come right out with it:

If Stevie Wonder wasn’t black and blind, there’s no way he’d be as highly esteemed as he is.

A white guy who named himself “Wonder” would never hear the end of it. Instead, we never hear the end of Stevie’s songs, especially on American Idol.

OK, so that’s not his fault, but you know what is?

Besides The Secret Life of Plants and “I Just Called To Say I Love You” and “Ebony and Ivory”?

The song below.

I’m indebted to David Stubbs for putting my incoherent dislike of Songs in the Key of Life into words:

“Isn’t She Lovely” transcribes to vinyl every last icky-cooing dollop of sentimental gloop to which once-sentient adults are reduced when they have babies and, true to the album’s form, lasts longer than purgatory. Several minutes into this, with no light at the end of the tunnel of choruses, King Herod seems like one of the Bible’s more engaging and reasonable characters. “I Wish” contains the most ridiculously misty-eyed and excruciatingly doggerel-ridden reminiscence on childhood.

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Everything You Know About the 1920s Is Wrong

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013 - by James Lileks

With the publication of Amity Shlaes’ biography of Coolidge, you might expect a sudden burst of Twenties Nostalgia. Everyone will get it wrong. There wasn’t any such thing as “the Twenties.”

But we think there was. The Simpsons’ Kent Brockman summed it up perfectly: “The Twenties! When Al Capone did the Charleston atop a flagpole.”

That’s as accurate as saying that everyone in Seventies was Kung Fu Fighting.

Decades get boiled down to songs, pictures, celebs, and fads, and we think we know them. The Forties: War! Then five years of something-or-other. The Thirties: everyone stood in breadlines waiting for the Wizard of Oz to be released so they could have some color. The decade before the Twenties — well, not so clear. The Titanic sunk, triggering World War One, somehow.  The Twenties? Jazz and bathtub gin and F. Scott Fitzgerald throwing up on a flapper during a Jolson movie.

So what was it like? I’m no expert on the era, but I’ve studied the pop culture — movies, songs, magazines — for the segment of my Website devoted to the 1920s. It can be a stubborn era to grasp. The Gatsby stereotypes loom too large; 1929 seems like a different world than 1921; the era that followed reinvented movies and created characters much more vivid than the overacting shades of the silent era. The ‘30s speak to us. The ‘20s gesture.

In retrospect, it seems rather goofy. Like this:

A Woody Allen movie parody — except that’s exactly what it sounded like. Quaint to modern ears. Now try this: a tune made popular by the most unlikely fellow to be known as the King of Jazz, Paul Whiteman. Okay, it’s dated 1930, but this is right out of the top of the bubble.

The song is all over the place, throwing one instrument after the other — full band, then violin and guitar, heading towards that 2:22 spo-de-oh-dee moment where everyone puts their hands up in the air and shimmies their palms. Because the good times are here and youth culture is finally giving grown-up culture a run for its money, and everyone’s spifficated on liquor the crooks brought over the river from Canada.

Here’s what it sounded like if you were there:

It’s different when you hear the Twenties in stereo, isn’t it?

(The graphics chosen for the video, by the way, are from the game “Fallout,” which uses ’50s-style graphics in a post-apocalyptic world. But hey, does it matter? Anything that didn’t happen before 1995 is “retro” now.)

So is that the Twenties? Yes and no. The Twenties led up to that; the music evolved. Everything evolved — or least got faster and racier, if you call that progress. You start with a naughty joke book in 1921, and by the middle of the decade, the lid’s off:

Click to enlarge.

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Worship Singer Paul Wilbur Just Made History Performing In Cuba

Sunday, January 27th, 2013 - by Myra Adams
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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.

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5 Positive Personality Traits Baby Boomer Women Developed While Waiting By The Phone

Saturday, December 29th, 2012 - by Myra Adams
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“It must be him, it must be him, oh dear God, it must be him or I shall die.”

Aging female baby boomers can relate to these lyrics from a 1967 hit song by Vikki Carr entitled, It Must Be Him.

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.

1. Patience

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.

2. Rejection

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.

4. Diplomacy 

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:

Dissecting Baby Boomer Liberalism Like a Frog in Science Class

Baby Boomers: The Most Depressed Generation

Young America! Stop Letting Boomers Feed Off You

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What Classic Rock Album Covers Blew Your Mind?

Saturday, December 15th, 2012 - by Myra Adams

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!)

Cream — Disraeli Gears

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.

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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.

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‘Goin’ Up To The Spirit In The Sky, The Place I’m Gonna Go When I Die’- Did This Song Impact You?

Sunday, December 9th, 2012 - by Myra Adams
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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.

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‘Even Though We Ain’t Got Money, I’m So In Love With Ya Honey’ … How Did That Work Out For You?

Friday, November 30th, 2012 - by Myra Adams
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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.

Just to refresh your memory, Danny’s Song was released in 1971 by Loggins and Messina from their debut album entitled Sittin’ In.

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:

Fleetwood Mac – Many Memories and Some Rumours

Jimi Hendrix, Love Beads, and My First Concert

Do You Want The Greatest Rock Song Played At Your Funeral?

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Classic Rock and Cheap Wine: Fleetwood Mac – Many Memories and Some Rumours

Saturday, November 17th, 2012 - by Myra Adams
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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.

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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.

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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?

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Classic Rock: What Are Your Cat Stevens Music Memories?

Saturday, November 10th, 2012 - by Myra Adams
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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.[4]

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.[5] His 1972 album Catch Bull at Four sold half a million copies in the first two weeks of release alone and was Billboards number-one LP for three consecutive weeks.[6] 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.[7]

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.”

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An Anthem for the Coming Years: Battle Born

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 - by Leslie Loftis

PJ Lifestyle is quiet today. We have a grim, nauseous writers block, at least for light pieces. Today we reassess, adjust. I took a walk to clear my head. I’ve been writing about The Killers, so had most of their album in my ‘recently played’ playlist. I had planned a short post at my place about the patriotic anthem, “Battle Born,” but after yesterday I find the song holds more fire than I thought. Whether you like the sound of indie rock or not, read the lyrics:

You lost faith in the human spirit
You walk around like a ghost
Your star-spangled heart
Took a train for the coast

When you shine you’re a hilltop mansion
So how’d you lose the light?
Was it blown by the wind
In the still of the night?

I always saw you as a kind of keeper
A mother to a child
But your boys have grown soft
And your girls have gone wild

From the Blue Ridge to the Black Hills
To the Redwood sky
The season may pass
But the dream doesn’t die

Now don’t you drop the ball

Up against the wall
There’s something dying on the street
When they knock you down
You’re gonna get back on your feet
Cause you can’t stop now

When they break your heart
When they cause your soul to mourn
Remember what I said
Boy, you was battle born

When the night falls on the land
Are you haunted by the sound?
It’s gonna take more than a hand
To turn this thing around

Won’t you lean it on me?
Rescue, set me free

Up against the wall
There’s something dying on the street
When they knock you down
You’re gonna get back on your feet
Cause you can’t stop now

Did they break your heart?
And did they cause your soul to mourn?
Remember what I said
Boy, you was battle born
Cause you can’t stop now

Come on show your face
Come on give us one more spark
Sing a song of fire
Lest we fall into the dark
Cause you can’t stop now

You never know
If you never learn
You never shine
If you never burn
The rising tide
The undertow
The venom and
The overflow
The turn away
The welcome home

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