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.
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:
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.
“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:
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.
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.”
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
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!
In the last few days before the election, many moderate Democrats are contemplating breaking up with Barack Obama. Parting with a political party or candidate can be every bit as wrenching as severing a personal relationship with a girlfriend or boyfriend. The problem whenever one walks away from a serious breakup is that doubts keep creeping in: “Am I doing the right thing?” “Will there be someone else for me?” “Was there something wrong with me that I was attracted to such a manipulative, unkind person?” “Will I be ridiculed for being blind to his/her faults?”
Republican political groups (the Romney campaign, the RNC, PACs) have recognized that there are a lot of voters out there who need permission to change their minds about Obama. The Independent Women’s Voice has recently released several videos that recognize that political relationships are just as real and deep as romantic relationships. These videos address people’s struggle to balance a sense of loyalty with a belief that their survival depends on leaving a damaging relationship:
Because this election is going to depend on people breaking away from their toxic relationship with Obama and the Democrat party, we should acknowledge their emotional pain and extend a helping hand. This doesn’t just mean helping them decide to break-up, it also means validating their feelings and inspiring them after the breakup.
We need to remind them that they’re stronger and better for having abandoned a damaging relationship. It’s not their fault that they were charmed by a shiny smile and a glib line. We’ve all been there, but the smart ones walk away, having learned from the experience. Here, then, are the top seven “I am so done with you” breakup anthems.
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.
Classic Rock & Cheap Wine: A Three Dog Night Without ‘Joy to the World’ After a Trip to the Police Station
What is it about the power of a song that upon hearing it decades later instantly brings you back to a memorable moment in your life?
So now that I have your attention….
As a1 6-year-old high-school junior I found myself secretly “in love” with my close friend and neighbor, a handsome senior, who lived across the street. Dan (not his real name) and I had grown up together, but now as a blossoming teenager I saw him differently and fantasized that he was destined to be my future husband.
Dan had absolutely no romantic interest in me but started “going out” with my girlfriend Donna (not real name). That meant I was thrust into the position of gossip go-between, a position I relished.
Not too long after Dan and Donna became an item, Dan’s father bought a new Cadillac and handed Dan the keys to his old one.
Keep in mind that in 1972 it was rare for anyone in my high school to have their own car, especially a Cadillac. Therefore, Dan’s Cadillac, (which by today’s standards was the size of a gunboat) became a major status symbol and the ultimate party vehicle.
One day after school my three girlfriends and I started walking toward the town center when we spotted Dan’s Cadillac in the school parking lot. It was then Donna proudly proclaimed, “I have Dan’s keys,” so without any hesitation, we all jumped in the car for a harmless spin.
On the radio Joy to the World was playing and I remember us singing the famous lyrics: Jeremiah was a bull frog, was a good friend of mine, and the Joy to the World chorus at the top of our lungs while having a totally terrific time.
That was until we were stopped by the police.
It was 1977, and my senior year at Ohio State when my friend Mike invited me to see Queen perform on campus.
Mike and I were both cadets in the Ohio State Army ROTC program. Our friendship developed because we took the ROTC program slightly less seriously than some of our fellow cadets who we had identified as future Army “lifers.” (Mike and I were much “cooler” because as Reserve officers we would have a “real life” outside of the Army.)
As we were walking over to the concert, Mike casually mentioned that he had earned ten dollars that afternoon giving blood so he could afford our concert tickets.
Suddenly I remembered seeing signs posted all around campus advertising ten dollars for blood, but this was the first I had heard of anyone actually doing it.
My immediate thought was blood money to take me to a Queen concert?
Personally, I did not think I was worthy of Mike’s blood, but seeing Queen certainly was!
Queen’s lead singer, Freddie Mercury now considered a rock legend, indeed gave a legendary performance, bouncing all around the stage wearing the same tight white shiny jumpsuit you see in the famous music video above.
Among the songs performed that night was Bohemian Rhapsody from Queen’s 1975 album, A Night at the Opera.
Besides Freddy’s costume, I also remember staring at the big gong on stage and looking forward to it being used for Bohemian Rhapsody’s final note.
Thirty five years later, Queen remains ensconced in my “Personal Pantheon of Classic Rock Greatness.” Their music, much of it sung in a harmonic style known A cappella, is considered by many to be some of the most masterful rock music ever recorded.
Tragically, Freddy Mercury was one of the first celebrities to die of AIDS, in 1991 and his death brought early attention to the disease.
Now what shall we drink to celebrate Queen’s royal greatness?
Ah, let me rephrase that question — What do I have in my refrigerator that I can write about and photograph this second? (I literally get up, look in the refrigerator and see a bottle of La Crema Chardonnay purchased during my last expedition to COSTCO for $20.00. Since my father-in-law’s 90th birthday bash is coming up, I have begun buying some pricier wines for that glorious occasion.)
This fine label is for you if you enjoy a more “upscale” chardonnay infused with oak and citrus. However, after drinking La Crema it is difficult to go back to drinking less expensive chardonnay.
So let’s raise a glass to Freddy, Queen and my ROTC friend Mike, who, the last time I saw him, in late 1977, had actually decided to become a “lifer” and is probably a 3-star general by now.
Thanks Mike for serving our country and for earning blood money so 35 years later I could write this silly column and dedicate it to you.
Psy of “Gangnam Style” fame returned to South Korea earlier this week, but his impact is still being felt on American TV and pop culture. A funny office bit aired on “Chelsea Lately” and “Today” ran a segment on September 27 about Psy’s triumphant return to his homeland. On Friday, Psy tweeted that “Gangnam Style” has topped 300M views on YouTube. It’s all great news for the unlikely rapper who continues to take America and the world by storm.
Psy returned to Korea as a conquering hero. Back on his home turf, he immediately hit the ground running and performed “Gangnam Style” to a packed college campus. In a press conference, Psy said that America was very good to him. “Even if they didn’t know the lyrics, they just danced,” he explained on Thursday. Matt Lauer stated in a “Today” segment, “We’re looking forward to having Psy back on the Plaza at his earliest convenience.”
Gangnam is the most coveted address in Korea, but less than two generations ago it was little more than some forlorn homes surrounded by flat farmland and drainage ditches.
The district of Gangnam, which literally means “south of the river,” is about half the size of Manhattan. About 1 percent of Seoul’s population lives there, but many of its residents are very rich. The average Gangnam apartment costs about $716,000, a sum that would take an average South Korean household 18 years to earn.
As the price of high-rise apartments skyrocketed during a real estate investment frenzy in the early 2000s, landowners and speculators became wealthy practically overnight.
The notion that Gangnam residents have risen not by following the traditional South Korean virtues of hard work and sacrifice, but simply by living on a coveted piece of geography, irks many. The neighborhood’s residents are seen by some as monopolizing the country’s best education opportunities, the best cultural offerings and the best infrastructure, while spending big on foreign luxury goods to highlight their wealth.
A girl who looks quiet but plays when she plays
A girl who puts her hair down when the right time comes
A girl who covers herself but is more sexy than a girl who bares it all
A sensible girl like that
I’m a guy
A guy who seems calm but plays when he plays
A guy who goes completely crazy when the right time comes
A guy who has bulging ideas rather than muscles
That kind of guy
More music at PJ Lifestyle: