Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Everyone Will Start to Cheer

With the Presidential candidates visiting Iowa, I am reminded of then-candidate Barack Obama's visit to Iowa in the 2008 campaign. Obama was mocked as being elitist and out-of-touch with ordinary Americans for having the audacity to talk about arugula prices with an audience of arugula farmers. Those of us who watch Food Network programs, particularly the competition shows, know that chefs frequently rush to the pantry to get a hold of arugula, a commonly used ingredient. If you really want the common touch, here's the late Stevie Ray Vaughan performing Little Feat's "Sailin' Shoes" on a 1989 episode of David Sanborn's Night Music. At the end of the song, there's a brief clip of SRV reciting "A Few of My Favorite Things" - including arugula!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Greeny & Pena

[Peter Green]

Peter Green

Guitarist Peter Green (Wikipedia) is possibly my favorite guitarist, eventually emerging at the top from a crowd including the likes of George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, Duane Allman, Carlos Santana, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. And I like him best when he's playing in the style of the great B. B. King, which limits my listening to Green's John Mayall and Fleetwood Mac gigs. He had some nice moments in subsequent years, but they lacked the fire of his earlier playing.

For years, my favorite Fleetwood Mac song was "Stop Messin' 'Round". (For Mayall with Greeny, my favorite song is "It Hurts Me Too".) Then, a few months ago, I became enamored of the live Shrine '69 version of "If You Be My Baby", a B. B. King-like song written by Peter. This performance is too short, but oh so sweet - the searing guitar cuts through your mind like a hot knife through butter.

Shortly after rediscovering Shrine '69's "If You Be My Baby" (video below), I took notice of "If You Let Me Love You" off of the third volume of the Boston Tea Party set. This is a cover of an actual B. B. King number ("Let Me Love You"), so it is right up Green's alley. He only sings a couple of the verses, but, through beautiful use of the dynamics of volume, he seems to make the guitar retreat and then, at points of climax, dive into the lava. Breathtaking!

Almost daily, I run through the following sequence of songs on my iPod:

  • "If You Let Me Love You",
  • "Loving Kind" or "Tiger" (all from the Boston Tea Party, volume 3),
  • "If You Be My Baby" (Shrine '69),
  • "Jumping At Shadows" (Jumping at Shadows: The Blues Years), and
  • "Jet Airliner",

the latter written and performed by ...

[Paul Pena]

Paul Pena

Paul Pena (Wikipedia) wrote and recorded "Jet Airliner" in 1973 for an album, Night Train, produced by Steve Miller's keyboard player, Ben Sidran. There was a dispute with the record label resulting in the album not being released untl 2000, 27 years later. Pena, blind and long plagued with ill health, passed away in 2005.

Every cloud does have a silver lining, though. Sidran played the unreleased tape for Steve Miller. Miller rewrote the lyrics to "Jet Airliner" and turned it into a stadium-rock anthem. The royalties generated by Miller's hit would support Pena through his wife's unsuccessful battle with cancer and his own poor health.

Millions of people, including me, love Steve Miller's "Jet Airliner". But then I heard the original, which blows Steve Miller's version out of the water. First, the original lyrics are darker than Miller's and have a hint of desperation. Second, there is a glorious lead guitar that plays throughout the song, not just in the solo. I'm not sure who the lead guitarist was, but it is amazing. (In a 2001 appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Pena plays a low-key electric guitar solo.)

I found the rest of the Night Train album to be lackluster, but it's worth the purchase price for "Jet Airliner" alone.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

We Love You, Dad

My dad died 10 years ago today. Prior to his passing away, my psychiatrist was asking me about my upbringing, my relations with my parents, etc. My mom was a big influence and I said a lot about her, but, when it came to my dad, I drew a complete blank and mumbled an inconsequential, "He was there." After the appointment, I went "Doggone it!" - I actually used a harsher word - as I thought back to all the things Dad did for and with our family and all the things he did for and with me.

As evidence of that, I submit the following. I think most fathers would kill to be given a glimmer of recognition in public by their teenage children. Dad used to take the train to and from work. Almost every day, for a period of about 5 years during junior and senior high school, I went down to meet him when he came back from work and would walk home with him. The kids in the neighborhood used to play basketball after school; at a quarter to six, I would grab my basketball and head off down to the train station. (Just a platform actually, since the station had been torn down years before.) At the time, I thought nothing of it - I just enjoyed it. Looking back after all these years, though, I'm glad I did it and I imagine it meant as much to him as it would mean to me as a father.

Below is a photograph from 1972 of Dad's train (a Budd RDC) coming into the College Park station. (Baltimore & Ohio line, traveling from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore, MD.) Being a teenager, I was less than talkative, so, unfortunately, I didn't get to know the names of the two men waiting to board the train. The man on the left I saw all the time and I liked him a lot; the other man I saw less frequently, but he was also very nice. The big employer nearby at that time was Litton, so I always figured they worked there.

From his eulogy:

Dad's feelings for his [four] sons were best expressed in George Eliot's Silas Marner. Squire Cass, speaking to his son, Godfrey, says,
"There's my grandfather had his stables full o' horses, and kept a good house, too, and in worse times, by what I can make out; and so might I, if I hadn't four good-for-nothing fellows to hang on me like horse-leeches. I've been too good a father to you all - that's what it is. But I shall pull up, sir."
In truth, Dad was a wonderful father. When Mom was in the nursing home, she used to say, "I may not have done much, but I gave you all a good father - he's a prince among men." I always wanted to answer, "Yes, and he's a tough act to follow."

(The Silas Marner quote was supposed to be funny - it reminded me of my brothers and me when I first read it - but it was a little too convoluted for people to pick up on easily at the funeral service.) Lastly, from the eulogy:

In George Eliot's Daniel Deronda, she says,
"[I]n each of our lives harvest and spring-time are continually one, until Death himself gathers us and sows us anew in his invisible fields."
When my wife's grandmother, Mimi, died, my father-in-law expressed a similar sentiment, remarking how, as God takes one person, Mimi, He sends another, our niece, who was to be born shortly. Dad's long life and his wise and loving presence were God's gift to us. I am sure that, somewhere, a child is being born who will confer a like blessing on another family. We are grateful we had our turn.
We love you, Dad.

We truly do, Dad. And we sorely miss both you and Mom.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Fathers Day!

On a card from my kids:

Oh, yeah? Well, my Dad would chuck more wood than your Dad would chuck, even if your Dad could chuck wood, which I doubt!    © Hallmark Cards

I laugh every time I read it! (The actual card has a funny picture of a cute woodchuck looking like it is yelling over at some other woodchuck.)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Happy Bastille Day!

Gregg Allman's "Ain't Wastin' Time No More" (Allman Brothers Band, Eat a Peach) has been running through my mind a lot lately:

[Eat a Peach]
Well by and by, way after many years have gone,
And all the war freaks die off, leavin' us alone.
We'll raise our children in the peaceful way we can,
It's up to you and me brother
To try and try again.

Well, hear us now, we ain't wastin' time no more
'Cause time goes by like hurricanes
Runnin' after subway trains
Don't forget the pouring rain.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Voting Their Consciences ...

... or not, as the case may be. Project Vote Smart has posted "Disabled American Veterans Ratings", a chart showing how our senators and representatives have supported issues of importance to the DAV organization. (I found the link via Alternate Brain, who got it from One Pissed Off Veteran.) Unlike the other bloggers, I did not find the ordered-by-state chart easy to read. I downloaded the information, broke it out into separate sections for the Senate and the House, and sorted the entries from the lowest to the highest ratings. With a little highlighting, the chart is now very striking.

(June 16, 2010: Since the tables were so large,
I moved them to a separate page; click below.)

Disabled American Veterans Ratings (2005; sorted)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Even Hate My Rock and Roll

John Lennon

In John Lennon's song, "Yer Blues" (tab), he's got the blues so bad he even hates his rock and roll. Six years into the Bush administration, with every day bringing a brand new outrage, I sometimes even get tired of reading the political blogs I like to frequent. How long can this go on? As one commenter asked on a blog, this is the worst presidency ever - how can the Democrats not find an issue to run successfully on?

Geov Parrish neatly sums up the Bush presidency in one sentence ... well, make that two sentences (via Gordon at Alternate Brain):

So it has come to this. After two stolen elections, a secret energy task force, Enron and assorted other corporate scandals, massive tax cuts for the rich, the largest federal debts and trade deficits in world history, blowing up the ABM treaty, killing stem cell research, laughing off global warming, allowing 9-11 to happen, stonewalling its (and every other) investigation, failing to catch Osama bin Laden, the PATRIOT Act, still-unsolved anthrax attacks, launching a secret prison system, denying due process to both foreigners and Americans, engaging in torture, monitoring Americans' phone calls, e-mails, and faxes without a warrant, launching unprecedented foreign and domestic propaganda campaigns, blurring the line between church and state, trying to overthrow Hugo Chavez, using lies to launch an illegal invasion of Iraq, badly mishandling both the occupation of Iraq and the resulting insurgency, outing Valerie Wilson (and lying about it), grandstanding on Terri Schiavo, pushing through a miserable Medicare prescription drug law, privatizing public lands, trying to privatize Social Security, securing CAFTA, appointing two reactionaries to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Abramoff scandals, and botching Katrina's aftermath as well as its rebuilding, among many, many other things -- after all that -- the tipping points that bring Cheney and Bush to this abysmal public standing are shooting a lawyer and defending an ordinary transnational corporate deal.