Here’s wishing a Joyous Easter to “Linuses and Lucies” everywhere

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We never did make it to the Sunrise Service.  Truth be-known, we never have.  But we did make it out for a delightful morning walk in time to observe some jolly neighborhood Easter egg hunts-in-the-making, just waiting for the kids/grandkids to arrive.  Gotta’ admit, I miss those years.

Looking for the perfect melody for such a day, I figured there must have been a Vince Guaraldi-themed Peanuts Easter special, and I was right, “It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown” was first broadcast in 1974.  But the problem with Peanuts specials from the ‘70s is that none of Guaraldi’s music is readily available. The best I could come up with was a 2008 release, “Vince Guaraldi and the Lost Cues from Charlie Brown Television Specials, Volume 2” but the two Easter tracks just don’t fit the bill.

Born in (“zow”) San Francisco’s North Beach in 1928 and having served as an Army cook in the Korean War, Jazz pianist, guitarist, singer-song writer Vincent Anthony Guaraldi had already released a dozen albums when, in 1964, the producer of the upcoming (and very first) Peanuts special (“A Charlie Brown Christmas”) was riding over the Golden Gate Bridge in a taxicab and heard the Vince Guaraldi Trio on the radio …a few weeks later Guaraldi was performing his first “Peanuts” composition, “Linus and Lucy” over the telephone for that same producer, and the die was cast.

LISTEN TO THIS SONG – Easter Sunday 31 March

Guaraldi went on to compose the scores for 15 Peanuts television specials, including those for Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Election Day, Summer and (of course) Halloween, and had just finished recording “It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown” in 1976 when he died at the age of 47 from an aortic aneurism.

If nothing else, this is a day about resurrection and surely Vince Guaraldi’s music will continue to do just that with our childhood memories for ages to come. Here’s wishing a Joyous Easter to “Linuses and Lucies” everywhere.

Or is this burning an eternal flame?

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Globally there are 150 or so that are open to the public, with fully a third situated in the United States…including Elvis’ at Graceland and Jerry Falwell’s at Liberty University.   But as a long-held tradition in various cultures and religions, there are countless eternal flames throughout the world.

For example, it’s a Jewish tradition to have an eternal lamp set above the ark in many synagogues, while Hindu temples frequently feature them as well, some having burned for centuries. Eternal flames are also common in East Asia, carefully placed before a household’s spirit tablet in veneration of departed ancestors.

Often used to commemorate an event of national significance or to serve as a reminder of universal aspirations such as world peace, the first public eternal flame to honor a (known)  individual was the one consecrated in 1967 at the gravesite of JFK, a practice that has since become more customary.  Of course, many eternal flames were also lit in the decades following the Second World War, some to serve as a reminder of the Holocaust, others to commemorate a land’s unknown soldiers.

Which was the case in this picture, taken by the Kremlin Wall during the short Soviet premiership of Konstantin Ustinovich Chernenko.  To be exact, it was Wednesday 31 October 1984 and it never even occurred to me that somewhere far away, people were celebrating Halloween.

I’d happened along having just shuffled through a winding line full of weeping people to (sigh) satisfy my morbid curiosity and check in with the waxen but amazingly well preserved Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. But with its eternal flame illuminating a bronze inscription that (translated) read, “Your name is unknown, your deed is immortal,” this was by far the more poignant tomb.

The remains of the unknown soldier within had once been interred in a mass grave at the 41st km marker on the Leningrad Highway, an infamous landmark representing the Nazi invaders’ closest proximity to Moscow (in 1941) during the worst days of the “Great Patriotic War” as it is referred to there.

These newlyweds were actually part of a veritable procession of such couples who had come to lay flowers before the flame on their wedding day, a tradition that began in the days of Stalin when church weddings were very rare and visiting an eternal flame (which many Russian cities still have) was a fitting way to satisfy a basic, spiritual urge on such a supernal occasion.

Nowadays, with that benighted era long relegated to “the ash heap of history,” the honor guard, which once stood vigil outside Lenin’s Tomb, now stands vigil outside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  As for those wedding day visits to the eternal flame… they continue as one of the few Soviet-era customs to be embraced by Russians to this day.

Written by Billy Steinberg, Tom Kelly and Susanna Hoffs and topping the American charts when the Bangles released it in 1989, this song was very much inspired by an eternal flame.  According to Steinberg, Hofts had recently visited Graceland and seen the eternal flame there… “and as soon as those words were mentioned, I thought of the synagogue in the town of Palm Springs, where I grew up. I remember (how) they would walk us through the sanctuary. There was one little red light and they told us it was called the eternal flame.”

It also topped the British charts when Atomic Kitten released their version in 2001. First manufactured…I mean…established in 1997, the three-member girl-group was formed in Liverpool (where an eternal flame burns in remembrance of the 96 people who died in the stadium-related Hillsborough disaster in ‘89) and with a slightly shifting line-up through the years, Atomic Kitten had a number of hits throughout Europe, Asia and South Africa.

Here are two versions of the song.  The first was recorded live in 2004 at Atomic Kitten’s final concert. The second was the Bangles original release in 1989.

ATOMIC KITTEN LIVE VERSION – Thursday 28 March

BANGLES’ ORIGINAL VERSION – Thursday 28 March

Eternal Flame

 Call my name

Close your eyes, give me your hand, darling

Do you feel my heart beating, do you understand?

Do you feel the same or am I only dreaming?

Is this burning an eternal flame?

 I believe it’s meant to be, darling

I watch when you are sleeping, you belong with me

Do you feel the same or am I only dreaming

Is this burning an eternal flame?

 Say my name, sun shines through the rain

A whole life so lonely, and then you come and ease the pain

I don’t want to lose this feeling

 Call my name

Say my name, sun shines through the rain

A whole life so lonely, and then you come and ease the pain

I don’t want to lose this feeling

 Close your eyes and give me your hand

Do you feel my heart beating, do you understand?

Do you feel the same, am I only dreaming

Or is this burning an eternal flame?

 Is this burning an eternal flame?

An eternal flame?

 (Close your eyes and give me your hand

Do you feel my heart beating, do you understand?

Do you feel the same, am I only dreaming

Or is this burning an eternal flame?)

We’re still having fun, and you’re still the one

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Here’s another one of those “Who Knew?” performers. A three-time National Science Foundation summer scholar, he skipped two grades and graduated from high school at age sixteen to study Physics at Notre Dame.  In later life he would become an internationally recognized environmental activist, who (from 2007 to 2011) served as U.S. Representative for New York’s 19th Congressional District.

Born in Baltimore in 1948 to a father with a PhD in Electrical Engineering and a mother with an MA in Divinity, John Joseph Hall, also took to music. Starting with piano at age 4, he went on to study French horn and taught himself guitar and bass. Along with creative writing it was an affinity that eventually derailed his future in Physics and after quitting college, Hall began to play in clubs in Georgetown and Greenwich Village.

He also composed music for a minor Broadway production and served as either songwriter or session musician for: Janis Joplin, Seals & Crofts, Taj Mahal and Bonnie Raitt.  In 1972, after moving to upstate New York, John Hall co-founded the group, Orleans.

Written with his first wife, Johanna this song was featured on Orleans fourth album, “Waking and Dreaming” in 1976.  Despite being featured on a record with one of the most dreadful album covers of all time (five unphotogenic ‘70s dudes posing up-close and rather too personal in their birthday suits) “Still the One” reached No. 5 on the Billboard Charts in the summer of that Bicentennial Year.

 LISTEN TO THIS SONG – Tuesday 26 March 

Still the One

We’ve been together since way back when

Sometimes I never want to see you again

But I want you to know, after all these years

You’re still the one I want whisperin’ in my ear

You’re still the one — I want to talk to in bed

Still the one — that turns my head

We’re still having fun, and you’re still the one

I looked at your face every day

But I never saw it ’til I went away

When winter came, I just wanted to go (wanted to go)

Deep in the desert, I longed for the snow

You’re still the one — that makes me laugh

Still the one — that’s my better half

We’re still having fun, and you’re still the one

You’re still the one — that makes me strong

Still the one — I want to take along

We’re still having fun, and you’re still the one (yes you are)

Changing, our love is going gold

Even though we grow old, it grows new

You’re still the one — that I love to touch

Still the one — and I can’t get enough

We’re still having fun, and you’re still the one

You’re still the one — who can scratch my itch

Still the one — and I wouldn’t switch

We’re still having fun, and you’re still the one

You are still the one — that makes me shout

Still the one — that I dream about

We’re still having fun, and you’re still the one

You’re still the one, yeah still the one

We’re still having fun, and you’re still the one

There ain’t no hiding place from the Father of Creation

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“He was the Third World’s first pop superstar. He was the man who introduced the world to the mystic power of reggae. He was a true rocker at heart, and as a songwriter, he brought the lyrical force of Bob Dylan, the personal charisma of John Lennon, and the essential vocal stylings of Smokey Robinson into one voice.” — Jann Werner at Bob Marley’s 1994 posthumous introduction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Born as Nesta Robert Marley in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica in 1945, his white father, who would die from a heat attack when the boy was ten, was a 60-year-old plantation overseer from Sussex, England when he married the 18-year-old Afro-Jamaican woman who would become Marley’s mother.

Marley met “Bunny Wailer” Livingston a few years later after Bunny’s father had a daughter with Marley’s mother; and the two started to play music while still at school. When Marley was 12 he and his mother moved to Trench Town and there he again met up with Bunny who was accompanying him in a jam session when they met Peter Tosh. In 1963, the three rude buys formed the core of Bob Marley and the Wailers.

To this day, Marley remains the best-selling most popular Reggae performer ever. His messages of finding redemption and overcoming oppression still reverberate with indigenous communities around the world, including Australian Aborigines, Native Americans and citizens throughout the Indian subcontinent.

First recorded in a Ska style in 1966, and then included on the 1977 album “Exodus,” this song contains a “sampling” of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” and was finally published as  “One Love/People Get Ready,” giving co-authorship credits to both Marley and Mayfield.

 LISTEN TO THIS SONG – Sunday 24 March

The YouTube version was released in 2004 as one of Playing For Change’s initial recordings.  With a mission to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music” the creators of the project (producer/sound engineer Mark Johnson and producer/musician Enzo Buono) traveled the world, recording local musicians who would perform the same song, but interpret it in their own style.

Very much keeping in the spirit of Marley’s message it was the second release after “Stand by Me” (which has received over 40 million YouTube hits) and features musicians based in: USA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, France, Israel, South Africa, India, Italy, Nepal and Zimbabwe.

“One Love/People Get Ready”

 One love, one heart

Let’s get together and feel all right

Hear the children crying (One love)

Hear the children crying (One heart)

Sayin’, “Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right.”

Sayin’, “Let’s get together and feel all right.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa

 Let them all pass all their dirty remarks (One love)

There is one question I’d really love to ask (One heart)

Is there a place for the hopeless sinner?

Who has hurt all mankind just to save his own?

Believe me

 One love, one heart

Let’s get together and feel all right

As it was in the beginning (One love)

So shall it be in the end (One heart)

All right, “Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right.”

“Let’s get together and feel all right.”

One more thing

 Let’s get together to fight this Holy Armageddon (One love)

So when the Man comes there will be no, no doom (One song)

Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner

There ain’t no hiding place from the Father of Creation

 Sayin’, “One love, one heart

Let’s get together and feel all right.”

I’m pleading to mankind (One love)

Oh, Lord (One heart) Whoa.

 “Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right.”

Let’s get together and feel all right.

 “Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right.”

Let’s get together and feel all right.

And in private to her mirror did she whisper…saviorette?

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Never mind the channel, I wish I could remember that radio station’s call sign. With a transmitter somewhere around the Boston area It was one of those low power AM stations with a license to broadcast only during daytime due to ionospheric changes at night.  Nearly forty years on and at least I remember their slogan – “The station you can’t hear in the dark.”

Working five, sometimes six mornings a week in college as a breakfast cook I’d amble in at a little before 6:00 and (perhaps your morning routine is similarly ingrained): 1- Change into my whites, 2- Tie back my hair, 3- Top it all off with a paper hat and apron, and 4- Find my station on the transistor radio, just signing on the air.

Wonderfully provocative, at least for a college student, I guess you could call its programming “coffee house blend,” with plenty of local artists and whoever was playing at Passim’s that month, along with the likes of Martin Mull, with selections like “Marian, Who’s Not the Marryin’ Kind” (she’d lost her ring finger), or the marvelously satirical Rootboy Slim and the Sex Change Band, singing “I’m Not Too Old For You” (with the line, “When you turn 17, I’ll just be 32….”), and then there was Dory Previn.

Born in 1925 into a strict Irish Catholic family (as Dorothy Veronica Langan) and raised in northern New Jersey she toured as a chorus line dancer and began to write songs after high school.  Upon marrying conductor and composer Andre Previn in the late ‘50s, she and her husband began to collaborate on writing motion picture songs and received several Oscar nominations in the 1960s.

After divorcing her husband (who had fathered Mia Farrow’s newborn), Previn set out on a solo career as a singer-songwriter.  With typically ironic lyrics that focus on sexuality, psychology and religion she released seven albums during the 1970s, before stepping away from the music industry for a time to concentrate on her writing.

This song, which I have yet to hear in the dark, was dauntlessly featured on her 1974 album, “Dory Previn” …and to answer your question, some Biblical scholars say yes, while others say no.

 LISTEN TO THIS SONG – Saturday 23 March

Did Jesus Have a Baby Sister?

 Did Jesus Have a Baby Sister?

Was she bitter?

Was she sweet?

Did she wind up in a convent?

Did she end up on the street?

On the run?

On the stage?

Did she dance?

Did he have a sister?

A little baby sister?

Did Jesus have a sister?

Did they give her a chance?

 Did he have a baby sister?

Could she speak out, by and large?

Or was she told by Mother Mary

Ask your brother he’s in charge

He’s the chief

He’s the whipped cream

On the cake

Did he have a sister?

A little baby sister?

Did Jesus have a sister?

Did they give her a break?

Her brother’s

Birth announcement

It was pretty big

Pretty big, I guess

While she got precious

Little notice

In the local press

 Her mother was the Virgin

When she carried him

Carried him, therein

If the little girl came later, then

Was she conceived in sin?

And in sorrow?

And in suffering?

And in shame?

Did Jesus have a sister?

What was her name?

 Did she long to be the savior

Saving everyone she met?

And in private to her mirror

Did she whisper…saviorette?

Saviorwoman?

Saviorperson?

Save your breath!

Did he have a sister?

A little baby sister

Did Jesus have a sister?

Was she there at his death?

And did she cry for Mary’s comfort

As she watched him

On the cross?

And was Mary too despairing?

Ask your brother

He’s the boss

He’s the chief

He’s the man

He’s the show

 Did he have a sister?

A little baby sister?

Did Jesus have a sister?

Doesn’t anyone know?

Long ago and oh so far away

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“I’ve seen enough groupies hanging around to sense their loneliness, even though they usually don’t show it. I can’t really understand them, but I just tried to feel empathy and I guess that’s what came across in the song.” – Karen Carpenter, referring to her lack of personal experience with the song she and her brother had just had a huge hit with, in a 1972 interview.

With the title “Groupie (Superstar)” when it was first released in 1969 the song was originally credited to Delaney & Bonnie and Friends featuring Eric Clapton.  Though not mentioned by name, among those “friends” were Leon Russell and then-backup singer, Rita Coolidge, who is believed to have provided the inspiration for the song and whose version (now called, “Superstar”) was featured on Joe Cocker’s live album, “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” in 1970.

Although he was unaware of either version of the song, Richard Carpenter heard Bette Midler perform it on the “Tonight Show” and despite the fact that his sister had heard the other versions and didn’t much care for it, Carpenter could barely wait to arrange it…while altering a few lyrics to make it less risqué.

Recorded in L.A. with the almighty “Wrecking Crew” backing her up for the session, Karen Carpenter used the lyrics her brother had scribbled on a napkin and recorded her vocal in a single take, which is normally referred to as the “work lead” and is what the other musicians usually use for guidance iafter they’ve been through it once.  No matter, The Carpenters version rose all the way to Number 2 on the Billboard Charts in 1971.

A decade later, in 1981, Sonic Youth was formed in New York, its name chosen in response to the popular Reggae trend of featuring “Youth” in a band’s name, and to honor the recently departed Fred “Sonic” Smith of the metal group, MC5. Now considered to be among “the first wave of American noise rock groups,” the members of Sonic Youth claimed to have been greatly influenced by Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell, Iggy Pop and ……The Carpenters (!)

This rather interesting (and idiosyncratic) version of the song first credited to Delaney & Bonnie and Friends et al. was featured on the 1994 tribute album  “If I Were a Carpenter”.

LISTEN TO THIS SONG – Friday 22 March 

 Superstar

Long ago

And oh so far away

I fell in love with you

Before the second show

Your guitar

It sounds so sweet and clear

But you’re not really there

It’s just the radio

 Don’t you remember you told me you love me Baby?

You said you’d be coming back this way again Baby

Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby, oh Baby

I love you, I really do

Loneliness, is such a sad affair

And I can hardly wait

To be with you again

What to say

To make you come again

Come back to me again

And play your sad guitar

 Don’t you remember you told me you love me Baby?

You said you’d be coming back this way again Baby

Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby, oh Baby

I love you, I really do

 Don’t you remember you told me you love me Baby?

You said you’d be coming back this way again Baby

Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby, oh Baby

I love you, I really do

Oh my friend we’re older but no wiser

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Having regularly posted pictures online for a few years now, while seeing others do the same, it has often amazed me how readily the subjects in the pictures can travel back and forth through time.  One minute they’re one age and the next they’ve either grown older or (miraculously) younger.

With a blog that begs for a different picture each day (which somehow is meant to tie-in with a line from the featured song), this has certainly been the case with me, and of course it’s part of the fun.  But after posting yesterday’s Paul McCartney song that focused on the topic of…well…”yesterday” and the subsequent process of aging, another Paul McCartney-related song came to mind, as did the niggling question: What or when is a person’s actual Optimal Age?

Never mind the “peak this, or maximum that” of your teenaged years.  On the face of it (and barring any misadventure) it’s hard to argue with the mid-20s, an enchanted time when those cognitive pistons are finally firing in unison, and one is fully able to celebrate the cocksure “Body Electric.” …And yet argue I will.

Because when it comes to judgment, emotional intelligence and if not wisdom at least decades of perspective, and despite a noticeably depreciating mortal coil (and since having the body of a 25 year old isn’t an option) I’ll take the mid-50s anytime. How about you?

By this age one has pretty much proven what one is going to prove (although not totally) and although confidence in the “Body” (electric or otherwise) may not be what it was, confidence in the “Self” more than makes up for it. What’s more and genetics willing, optimism prevails about the future as well.

Research (and personal observation) shows that even waaaay late in life, and fully in the face of the havocs of age, the potential exists for physical, mental and social growth if the proverbial “woof,” in the form of an active appreciation of the wonders-of-this-life, is willfully aligned with a genetic and cultural “warp” that enables one to do so.

Although it fatalistically veers from my point (and I suppose I can’t blame it), “Those Were the Days” was originally written in Russian by poet, Konstantin Podrevskii, with music by Boris Fomin, and later translated by Folk musician, Gene Raskin. It was none other than Paul McCartney (of course) who heard Raskin perform it at a club in London and with Mary Hopkin in mind, duly had his agent purchase the song rights.

The 18 year-old Welsh singer had recently signed with Apple Records and with McCartney serving as producer this, her debut single, topped the UK charts, while reaching Number 2 in the US.  With studio time remaining , it’s interesting to note that the 26 year-old McCartney (whose Optimal Age seems to have been between the ages of 20 and now) also had Hopkins record alternate versions of “Those Were the Days” in Spanish (“Que Tiempo Tan Feliz”), German (“An jenem Tag”), French (“Le temps des fleurs”) and finally in Italian (“Quelli Erano Giorni”).

 LISTEN TO THIS SONG – Wednesday 20 March 

Those Were The Days

 Once upon a time there was a tavern

Where we used to raise a glass or two

Remember how we laughed away the hours

And dreamed of all the great things we would do

 Those were the days my friend

We thought they’d never end

We’d sing and dance forever and a day

We’d live the life we choose

We’d fight and never lose

For we were young and sure to have our way

La la la la…

 Then the busy years went rushing by us

We lost our starry notions on the way

If by chance I’d see you in the tavern

We’d smile at one another and we’d say

 Those were the days my friend

We thought they’d never end

We’d sing and dance forever and a day

We’d live the life we choose

We’d fight and never lose

Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

La la la la…

 Just tonight I stood before the tavern

Nothing seemed the way it used to be

In the glass I saw a strange reflection

Was that lonely woman really me

 Those were the days my friend

We thought they’d never end

We’d sing and dance forever and a day

We’d live the life we choose

We’d fight and never lose

Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

La la la la…

Through the door there came familiar laughter

I saw your face and heard you call my name

Oh my friend we’re older but no wiser

For in our hearts the dreams are still the same

 Those were the days my friend

We thought they’d never end

We’d sing and dance forever and a day

We’d live the life we choose

We’d fight and never lose

Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

La la la la…

 

 

 

There’s a shadow hanging over me

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Shortly before his death in 1980, John Lennon noted that the lyrics are “…good, but if you read the whole song, it doesn’t say anything. You don’t know what happened. She left and he wishes it were yesterday, that much you get, but it doesn’t really resolve… I don’t believe in yesterday. Life begins at 40, so they promise, and I believe it. What’s going to come?”

Officially credited to “Lennon/McCartney” the song with “Scrambled Eggs” as its working title, was written solely by Paul McCartney, whose initial concern was that he had subconsciously plagiarized someone else’s work.  When nobody claimed it he began to tinker with it and write lyrics to suit while the Beatles were working on “Help,” which apparently annoyed director Richard Lester, who told McCartney to finish with it or he would have the piano that had been placed on the film’s sound stages removed.

“Blimey,” said George Harrison, “he’s always talking about that song. You’d think he was Beethoven or somebody.”

Accompanied by a string quartet, the succinctly titled “Yesterday” was finally recorded at Abbey Road Studios, four days before his 23rd birthday in 1965.  As McCartney was the only Beatle to appear on the track it was essentially a solo performance.  As a result, the other band members refused to permit its release as a single in the UK.

Their veto didn’t hold sway in the US, however and not only did the resulting single top the Billboard Charts for a full month, it went on to become the most played song on America’s airwaves for a consecutive eight years.  By the time “Yesterday” finally hit the British charts a full ten months after the premier of “Help,” English crooner, Matt Monro had already had a top ten UK hit with his, the first of many, cover versions.  In fact, “Yesterday” remains one of the most covered and recorded songs in history; voted as the Best Song of the 20th Century by a BBC Radio 2 expert listener poll, and the Number One Pop Song Ever by both MTV and Rolling Stone.

Not that it hasn’t received it’ share of criticism.  The freewheelin’ but sometimes inscrutable Bob Dylan claimed not to like it.  “If you go into the Library of Congress, you can find a lot better than that. There are millions of songs like “Michelle” and “Yesterday” written in Tin Pan Alley.”  Dylan is said to have recorded his own version but it was never released.

Recorded by ABC TV (and distributed by ITV) as a promotion for “Help” on the 1 August 1965 broadcast of “Blackpool Night Out,” this was McCartney and the lads’ first performance of  “Yesterday” on British television.

LISTEN TO THIS SONG – Tuesday 19 March

 Yesterday

 Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away

Now it looks as though they’re here to stay

Oh, I believe in yesterday

 Suddenly, I’m not half to man I used to be

There’s a shadow hanging over me

Oh, yesterday came suddenly

 Why she had to go I don’t know she wouldn’t say

I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday

Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play

Now I need a place to hide away

Oh, I believe in yesterday

 

And South America stole our name…let’s drop the big one, there’ll be no one left to blame us…

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Even in the face of inflation my research is of the two-penny variety, so it’s a good thing we’re not wasting any paper here.  But it’s interesting to note that Satire, easily the snarkiest form of humor, is widely regarded (along with Irony) as one of the earliest forms of literary expression. As a result, it readily beats out such disciplines as history and anthropology as a means of comprehending an earlier society’s collective values.

But there’s more! Not only is Satire a powerful way to understand contemporary or antediluvian issues, but it has also been known to have clairvoyant qualities. For example, and maybe you even remember this from 1975 when, after Gillette introduced its Twin-blade Trac-II razor, the very first episode of Saturday Night Live satirically featured a mock ad for a triple blade razor (called Triple-Trac). It took a few years, but Gillette’s Mach3 triple-blade cartridge was introduced in 1998.

Then in 2004 “The Onion” satirized the promotion of multiplying blades with its “Fuck Everything, We’re Doing Five Blades” piece…and this time it only took Gillette two years to introduce its Fusion cartridge with…five-blades.

Satire, Yesterday and Today.  Speaking of which, back in ’75 one of the featured artists during the second week’s episode of SNL was (one of our favorites) Randy Newman, who sang “Sail Away” from his 1972 album of the same name. The song as you may recall, takes the form of a “pitch” being made by a slave trader to a poor, unfortunate sole in Africa and the host of that week’s show was Paul Simon, who introduced the performance by saying that he wished he’d written it himself.

Because there’s always room for a little satire, here’s another track from the same album, which Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys actually credited for briefly keeping him from sliding into further depression at the time of its release.  Sound satire will do that for you.

 LISTEN TO THIS SONG – Monday 18 March

Political Science

No one likes us, I don’t know why

We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try

But all around, even our old friends put us down

Let’s drop the big one and see what happens

We give them money-but are they grateful?

No, they’re spiteful and they’re hateful

They don’t respect us-so let’s surprise them

We’ll drop the big one and pulverize them

 Asia’s crowded and Europe’s too old

Africa is far too hot

And Canada’s too cold

And South America stole our name

Let’s drop the big one

There’ll be no one left to blame us

 We’ll save Australia

Don’t wanna’ hurt no kangaroo

We’ll build an All American amusement park there

They got surfin’ too

Boom goes London and boom Paris

More room for you and more room for me

And every city the whole world round

Will just be another American town

Oh, how peaceful it will be

We’ll set everybody free

You’ll wear a Japanese kimono babe

And there’ll be Italian shoes for me

 They all hate us anyhow

So let’s drop the big one now

Let’s drop the big one now

She’s the Belle of Belfast City

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St. George is Patron Saint of England, and St. Andrew is Scotland’s, and St. David is Wales’ Saint, and everyone knows who the Patron Saint of Ireland is.  But who do you suppose is Patron Saint of Northern Ireland?

Here’s a hint, his remains are said to rest in Downpatrick (i.e. “Patrick’s stronghold”) about 20 miles from Belfast.  And here’s another, in addition to the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew, St. Patrick’s is the third cross featured on the Union Jack.  Trick question and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Born in Roman Britain and carried into slavery by Irish raiders when he was 16, St. Patrick (as he has been known for way-more than a millennium) worked as an Irish herdsman for six years before escaping back to Britain where he became a person of the cloth. Eventually returning to northern Ireland as an ordained bishop-on-a-mission, he is believed to have founded his first church in a barn near Downpatrick in AD 432 and then to have set up the center of his Christian teachings in the northern Irish township of Armagh.

Dedicated to spreading the gospel to all throughout that Emerald Isle, he gained renown for training pastors, planting churches, healing the sick and “casting out demons.”  But since the modern scholarly mind has little tolerance for ancient miracles, it is frequently speculated that his most famous deed, the banishment of all snakes from Ireland, is actually a metaphor for the expulsion of pagan beliefs.

Although never formally canonized by the Pope, St. Patrick is honored by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox and Lutheran Churches and ‘though he is indelibly associated with the Republic of Ireland he is roundly celebrated in his “home base” of Northern Ireland (with a population that’s 41 percent Catholic and 14 percent Anglican), whose largest city, Belfast is in the thick of its annual four-day St. Patrick’s Festival at this very moment.

Also known as “I’ll Tell me Ma”, this song is most assuredly playing somewhere within those city limits as you read these lines. Although it originated in the streets of Belfast as a children’s skipping song, its lyrics were long ago adapted to suit other locations where it is sung as well. For example, there are versions where the Belle comes from Brisbane or London or Dublin or the “Golden City” of Edinburgh.

It’s performed here by Lick the Tins, an ‘80s Celtic/Folk/Rock band from London, best known for its spirited rendition of “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You”. Although the group broke up soon after this release, rest assured that in Belfast (and everywhere else that celebrates the legendary St. Paddy this weekend), as long as there are those who’ll wear the green, there will be boys who forever and a day… “won’t leave the girls alone.”

 LISTEN TO THIS SONG – St. Patrick’s Day 2013

The Belle of Belfast City

Tell my ma when I go home,

The boys won’t leave the girls alone,

They pulled my hair and stole my comb,

But that’s all right ’till I go home.

She is handsome, she is pretty

She is the belle of Belfast city,

She is courting, one, two, three

Please won’t you tell me who is she?

 Albert Mooney says he loves her,

All the boys are fighting for her,

Knock on the door and they ring the bell

Oh my true love, are you well?

Here she comes, as white as snow,

Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,

Old Johnny Mary she says she’ll die

If she doesn’t get the boy with the roving eye.

Tell my ma when I go home,

The boys won’t leave the girls alone,

They pulled my hair and stole my comb,

But that’s all right ’till I go home.

 She is handsome, she is pretty

She is the belle of Belfast city,

She is courting, one two three

Please won’t you tell me who is she?

 Let the wind and the rain and the hail blow high

And the snow come tumbling from the sky

She’s as nice as apple pie

She’ll get her own boy, by and by

When she gets a lad of her own,

She won’t tell her ma ’till she comes home,

Let the boys stay as they will,

For it’s Albert Mooney she loves still.

 Tell my ma when I go home,

The boys won’t leave the girls alone,

They pulled my hair and stole my comb,

But that’s all right ’till I go home.

She is handsome, she is pretty

She is the belle of Belfast city,

She is courting, one two three

Please won’t you tell me who is she?

Tell my ma when I go home,

The boys won’t leave the girls alone,

They pulled my hair and stole my comb,

But that’s all right ’till I go home.

She is handsome, she is pretty

She is the belle of Belfast city,

She is courting, one two three

Please won’t you tell me who is she?

Tell my ma when I go home,

The boys won’t leave the girls alone,

They pulled my hair and stole my comb,

But that’s all right ’till I go home.

She is handsome, she is pretty

She is the belle of Belfast city,

She is courting, one two three

Please won’t you tell me who is she