What’s Stuck In My Head – January 3

Now, this takes me back to high school (shudder – I hated those days). Back in those days, I was a band geek. I stall am a geek, just no longer a member of a band. But in theory, it’s all the same. The reason this song is stuck today is probably because I have a little mini-reunion with some of my high school band members tonight. </sigh>

As a trumpet player the band Chicago (A.K.A. Chicago Transit Authority) was my go to band in my late teens. The way they blended rock, horns and political statements was mesmerizing to me. They used a rather unique lettering or font on the album covers. I even started making any papers I had to turn in at school in this font, at least for any titles and drop cap type of format. Mainly hoping it help hide the usual lame prose I was turning in! Doubt it helped any.

This track is from the first album Chicago Transit Authority released way back in 1969. It was 1970 that I picked up the trumpet, and this song jumped out at me immediately.

While gaining some success as a cover band, the group began working on original songs. In June 1968, at manager James William Guercio‘s request, the Big Thing moved to Los AngelesCalifornia, signed with Columbia Records and changed its name to Chicago Transit Authority. It was while performing on a regular basis at the Whisky a Go Go nightclub in West Hollywood that the band got exposure to more famous musical artists of the time. Subsequently, they were the opening act for Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. As related to group biographer, William James Ruhlmann, by Walt Parazaider, Jimi Hendrix once told Parazaider, “‘Jeez, your horn players are like one set of lungs and your guitar player is better than me.'”
Their first record (April 1969), Chicago Transit Authority, is a double album, which is rare for a band’s first release. The album made it to No. 17 on the Billboard 200 album chart, sold over one million copies by 1970, and was awarded a platinum disc. The album included a number of pop-rock songs – “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?“, “Beginnings“, “Questions 67 and 68“, and “I’m a Man” – which were later released as singles. For this inaugural recording effort the group was nominated for a Grammy Award for 1969 Best New Artist of the Year.


According to Cetera, the band was booked to perform at Woodstock in 1969, but promoter Bill Graham, with whom they had a contract, exercised his right to reschedule them to play at the Fillmore West on a date of his choosing, and he scheduled them for the Woodstock dates. Santana, which Graham also managed, took Chicago’s place at Woodstock, and that performance is considered to be Santana’s “breakthrough” gig. A year later, in 1970, when he needed to replace headliner Joe Cocker, and then Cocker’s intended replacement, Jimi Hendrix, Graham booked Chicago to perform at Tanglewood which is considered by some to be a “pinnacle” performance.


After the release of their first album, the band’s name was shortened to Chicago to avoid legal action being threatened by the actual mass-transit company of the same name.[19]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_(band)

The track I’m linking to below is the original album version, not the radio edit. So it has the original piano intro that is cut for radio. But, more important to me, is Lee Loughnane’s trumpet solo, which is where the radio version usually starts. This solo, along with Chuck Mangione and Maynard Ferguson, is the reason I picked up the trumpet, to begin with.

The song was not released as a single until two tracks from the band’s second album, “Make Me Smile” and “25 or 6 to 4“, had become hits. It became the band’s third straight Top 10 single, peaking at  No.  7 in the U.S. and No. 2 in Canada. Because the song straddled years in its chart run, it is not ranked on the major U.S. year-end charts. However, in Canada, where it charted higher, it is ranked as both the 59th biggest hit of 1970 and the 37th biggest hit of 1971.
The original uncut album version opens with a brief “free form” piano solo performed by Lamm. A spoken verse by Lamm is mixed into the sung final verse of the album version. The single version does not include the “free form” intro, and was originally mixed and issued in mono. A stereo re-edit (beginning from the point where the “free form” intro leaves off) was issued on the group’s Only the Beginning greatest hits CD set.
A 2:54 shorter edit (without opening fanfare or piano break, starting at the trumpet solo) was included on the original vinyl version of Chicago’s Greatest Hits, but was not included on the CD version. This shorter edit was included on the CD version of the compilation album If You Leave Me Now. This version was used as a radio edit version. A shorter version at 2:46 (starting midway through the trumpet solo) was issued as a promotional single, which finally appeared on 2007’s The Best of Chicago: 40th Anniversary Edition.
A live version on the Chicago at Carnegie Hall box set presents an expanded version of the “free form” intro, which itself is given its own track.
Various versions of the song receive airplay; the promotional single edit is the version played on certain ‘Classic Hits’ stations and 1970s radio shows. For example, radio station KKMJ would play the promo edit version on its ‘Super Songs’ of the 70s weekend. Classic Hits KXBT would also play the promo edit, and by contrast the True Oldies Channel would play the 3:20 single version. An AM radio station in Boston (WJIB 740 which also simulcasts in Maine as WJTO 730) plays the original vinyl Chicago IX edit.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Does_Anybody_Really_Know_What_Time_It_Is%3F

I apologize for the lame video, but like I said, I used this version since it has the original piano intro. Just start the video to listen to the song, and go do something more visually entertaining.

Peace,
B

P.S. If by chance, you need me to help with something, anything, this evening to get me out of this mini reunion please let me know..  Not that I’m looking for an excuse or anything…

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Ginger’s Last Week – 2018

Our silly little elf, Ginger will return to her home at the North Pole this week. I wonder just what she has planned for us this week!

Elf with a construction paper countdown sitting on top of a cat tree.
Saturday, Ginger climbed the cat’s tree with a construction paper countdown.
Elf tangled in silver garland. ELf had strung the garland across the bedroom doors.
Oh my! On Sunday morning she trapped the girls in their rooms with garland she took off the tree! Is this an Elfie Crime Scene??
Elf made a Christmas tree and a heart with read & green M&M's
Christmas Eve and Ginger made a Christmas Tree and a heart with the green and red M&M’s.
Elf in a Christmas wreath with her suitcase.
Christmas day, and Ginger has to return home. She has her bag packed and off she goes.

Sadly, Ginger now has to return home to the North Pole. We will miss her, but expect even more silly things next year!

Ginger hopes you have enjoyed these two years of pictures and stories. And, we hope you come back to see next year’s posts. Don’t forget to search for “Ginger” to see last years stuff! And we admit that most of these ideas came from Pinterest. There are a few originals, but not many.

And I thank you for your time in reading this very random blog. I realize there are many blogs to choose from, some serious, some (most) more humorous than mine. I do appreciate every time you stop to read, like and even more so follows! Thanks to each and every one of you.

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – Christmas Eve 2018

First – this is not what’s stuck in MY head this morning. I have John Lennon’s Happy X-Mas (War Is Over) stuck in my head, as usual around the holiday. Wifey woke up with this stuck in her head, so I’m claiming “artistic license” and using her song.

She got out of the shower singing just one line from the song; “A lousy candle’s all I found”. Not even the entire verse, just one line. But I know that feeling.

So without further ado, here is John Kay and Steppenwolf – “Magic Carpet Ride”

We hope y’all enjoy! Happy Holidays!

Peace,
B

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Ginger – Week 3 2018

Last week we left off with Ginger, the mischievous elf, planting peppermint seeds.  Let’s see just what happened!

Elf with candy canes in planters
Saturday and the “seeds” have sprouted!
Elf with large candy canes in the planters, and plates of elf doughnuts
Sunday morning and she has elf doughnuts for the girl’s breakfast. And look how big the candy canes have grown!
Elf napping with our large dog.
Monday – It was a tough weekend. She took a nap with the dog.
Elf with a snowman made from toilet paper rolls
Tuesday finds her with a TP snowman!
Elf tangled up in ribbons and wrapping paper.
On Wednesday she tried to wrap some presents for the girls. It didn’t go well.
Elf wrapped in a towel sitting the fridge.
I guess the Florida “winter” isn’t enough for her, so on Thursday, this is where we found her!
Elf wrapped in foil like a giant chocolate kiss candy.
Friday finds Ginger all wrapped up like a big chocolate kiss candy. Yum!

Ginger will return home to the North Pole next week. I wonder how she’ll go out (with style of course) this year? Check back to find out. Same elf time, same elf channel!

P.S. Be sure to search “Ginger” to see all the posts!

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 13 December

In full disclosure, this song was not stuck in my head when I woke up this morning. But I was listening to The Beatles channel on SiriusXM on the way in this morning, and this came on.  It’s been stuck there ever since.

I do not usually like covers of Beatles songs, with the exception of Joe Cocker’s covers.  Those rock!  I will add this to my “approved covers” list. As far as those hideous “Love” and “Across The Universe” soundtracks go, they are right out.

This cover is by Rufus Wainwright, the son of one of my “counter-culture” heroes, Loudon Wainwright III

I was going back in forth on which Beatle wrote this song. I was leaning towards John, which is correct, simply due to the depth of the lyrics. But with the mantra thrown in there, I figure George had at least a little input.

From the wiki;

One night in 1967, the phrase “words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup” came to Lennon after hearing his then-wife Cynthia, according to Lennon, “going on and on about something”. Later, after “she’d gone to sleep – and I kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream”, Lennon went downstairs and turned it into a song. He began to write the rest of the lyrics and when he was done, he went to bed and forgot about them.
I was lying next to my first wife in bed, you know, and I was irritated, and I was thinking. She must have been going on and on about something and she’d gone to sleep and I kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream. I went downstairs and it turned into a sort of cosmic song rather than an irritated song, rather than a “Why are you always mouthing off at me?”[1] [The words] were purely inspirational and were given to me as boom! I don’t own it you know; it came through like that.[2]
The flavour of the song was heavily influenced by Lennon’s and the Beatles’ interest in Transcendental Meditation in late 1967 – early 1968, when the song was composed. Based on this, he added the mantra “Jai guru deva om” (Sanskrit: जय गुरुदेव ) to the piece, which became the link to the chorus. The Sanskrit phrase is a sentence fragment whose words could have many meanings. Literally it approximates as “glory to the shining remover of darkness”[3] and can be paraphrased as “Victory to God divine”, “Hail to the divine guru”, or the phrase commonly invoked by the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in referring to his spiritual teacher, “All glory to Guru Dev“.[4]
The song’s lyrical structure is straightforward: three repetitions of a unit consisting of a verse, the line “Jai guru deva om” and the line “Nothing’s gonna change my world” repeated four times. The lyrics are highly image-based, with abstract concepts reified with phrases like thoughts “meandering”, words “slithering”, and undying love “shining”. The title phrase “across the universe” appears at intervals to finish lines, although it never cadences, always appearing as a rising figure, melodically unresolved. It finishes on the leading note; to the Western musical ear, the next musical note would be the tonic and would therefore sound complete.
In his 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, Lennon referred to the song as perhaps the best, most poetic lyric he ever wrote: “It’s one of the best lyrics I’ve written. In fact, it could be the best. It’s good poetry, or whatever you call it, without chewin’ it. See, the ones I like are the ones that stand as words, without melody. They don’t have to have any melody, like a poem, you can read them.”[5]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Across_the_Universe

So, anyway, here is Rufus Wainwright’s absolutely mesmerizing “Across The Universe”. I hope you enjoy it!

What’s your favorite Beatles song??

Peace,
B

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As Close As I Can Get

In case you haven’t heard, I absolutely despise Christmas Music. It’s old, worn out, and just plain boring.  Having said that, this is a close as I can get to playing a Christmas tune..  Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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Ginger – Week 2 2018

Here’s what the crazy little elf, Ginger has been up to this week.

Elf climbing a rock wall made of Christmas bows
Saturday – I didn’t know she was into outdoor sports. She made a rock wall out of bows!
Elf replacing the creme in Oreos with toothpaste!
Sunday – What a naughty little elf!  She’s replacing the creme in the cookies with toothpaste!!!
Elf watching a little TV while the big TV is on behind her.
Monday – Watching her movie on the little screen, while Grinch is on t he big screen.
Elf sitting in a hand-made sleigh.
Tuesday – Just like back home!  Ginger is in a hand-made sleigh ornament!
Elf finding odd things in between the couch cushions.
Wednesday – Look at the stuff she found in the couch!
Elf wrapped up in Christmas lights.
Thursday – I think she was trying to help us decorate.
Elf with magic seeds for the girls to plant.
Friday and Ginger has a magic trick for the girls. She has some “magic seeds” for the girls to plant!

And that ends week two.  Next week we’ll see just what grows from these magic seeds!  What has your elf been up to?

Peace,
B

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The Return Of Ginger – 2018

Our sweet little, mischievous, elf has returned!  The jury is still out on whether on not this is a good thing.  Just as last year (here, here, and here), I will post weekly updates. We still have the girls weekends only, so I expect Ginger to do some silly stuff again this year.

Elf on the shelf in the christmas tree with a welcome letter.
Ginger returned Saturday, with a letter for the girls.

The girls think that Ginger put herself high upon the tree to keep away from our new dog. 

Elf on the shelf in a plastic tub with peppermint oil.
On Sunday, Ginger somehow got herself into a plastic tub, then farted. The note asks if you want to smell it.

Granddaughter-the-younger was first up that morning and was brave enough to open the tub and smell.  “She must have eaten too many candy canes!”.  Later the girls were practically shoving their dad’s face into the canister “Smell it!  Smell it!!” 

 

Elf on the shelf cutting out paper snowflakes and taping them to a french door.
Monday – Ginger used the computer chair to decorate the doors with hand made snowflakes.
Elf on the shelf in an igloo with other friends.
Tuesday Ginger was having a Igloo warming party. Kinda think that “igloo warming” sounds a bit counterproductive.
Elf on the shelf sitting in front of a Charlie Brown nativity scene, placing rhinestones on her outfit.
Wednesday – She’s all Bedazzled! 
Elf on the shelf with a finished Harry Potter Lego set.
On Friday, Ginger finished the Lego set for us!

Once again, Ginger The Elf has shown just what happens when a little elf gets bored. But she can also be helpful!

Elf on the shelf brought us a star for the top of our Christmas tree.
How sweet!

Got any silly elves at your place??  Check back next week to see what Ginger is up to!

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – 30 November

Well here it is, the last day of November. Florida has had a bit of cold snap, very early for this year. 

Lately, I have been listening to the Deep Track channel on Sirius XM more. I do this for two reasons, primarily because I get to hear songs that don’t get a lot of airtime, and second for Earle Bailey’s Head Trip show.  Mr. Bailey is also the morning drive DJ on the Classic Vinyl channel. I really enjoy his DJ work. He has a great voice (whereas I was told I have the perfect face for radio!), is very knowledgeable about the music and has a rather dry sense of humor. 

Yesterday’s Head Trip was all instrumentals. When he first promoted the concept, I was intrigued. The show did not disappoint. Earle talked about a song I had never heard. Taurus by Spirit. The interesting thing about this particular track is, well, let me quote from the wiki;


 Guitar World magazine stated that “California’s most enduring legacy may well be the fingerpicked acoustic theme of the song ‘Taurus’, which Jimmy Page lifted virtually note for note for the introduction to ‘Stairway to Heaven‘.”[4] The Independent noted the similarity in 1997.[5] In 2014, Mark Andes and a trust acting on behalf of Randy California filed an copyright infringement suit against Led Zeppelin in an attempt to obtain a writing credit for “Stairway to Heaven”.[6][7] Page denied copying “Taurus”,[8] and the suit was unsuccessful.[9] The verdict was overturned on appeal in September 2018.

If you listen to Taurus, I think you’ll agree that Stairway is a copy.

But as Alro and I said in this post; “That’s not what I came here to tell you about”. 

When there is a show about “Classic Rock” (and I still hate that term), that’s all instrumental, I will always listen for one song in particular. 

This track has always been near the top of my list of all-time favorites. I would dream of one day being able to play it myself. Sadly, I can only play it on the radio. My guitar skills suck.

In case I’m being too obscure here, I’m talking about Classical Gas by Mason Williams. Reading up on Mr. Williams, I didn’t realize that he was also a comedy writer. He has written for some of my favorite shows, The Smother Brothers Comedy Hour and Saturday Night Live among others. 


It was on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour that he created and perpetuated the 1968 “Pat Paulsen for President” campaign, an elaborate political satire. Williams also helped launch the career of entertainer Steve Martin. Martin was hired by Williams as a writer on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, for which his contributions were initially paid out of Williams’ own pocket. In 1968, he won an Emmy Award for his work as a comedy writer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mason_Williams

I’m not sure if this clip is from The Smother Brothers show or not, but it’s still impressive.  Enjoy!

What’s your favorite instrumental?

Peace,
B

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Reflections on Sixty

Yes, today I hit the big 6 – 0, I think about 7PM tonight, but I don’t have my birth certificate here to read. Sixty damn years on this rock travelling around the sun. Not bad for one who didn’t expect to see 25. But you can blame Wifey® for that.  I would have been either dead or living on the street long ago if not for her love. 

Here are some of the things that stand out about my early life growing up in South Florida. 

  • Go barefoot as often as possible – screw the sand burrs.
  • Rain can be fun – I remember sitting in my front yard watching it rain on the house across the street – but not on me.
  • Wear sunscreen – well, I didn’t learn that as a kid. I was much older with kids of my own before that sunk in. I dare say I was sunburned more often than not.

Needless to say, life has taught me many lessons since those carefree days of running around in just a pair of shorts, chasing lizards, and playing ball. Most of it good, but there have been lots of tough lessons too. But I won’t get into that. 

Things from way-back-when I still remember;

  • My big brother picking me up early to go fishing on my birthdays. I never caught a single damn fish, but it was still fun, riding down US1 to the Florida Keys and fishing off the pylons and bridges. 
  • The first football game I went to. My mother was president of the high school PTA, so she always had a little table or booth at every game. I don’t remember what the function of the table was for, was she selling something? But I remember that first game, I was maybe 6. Her table was in a location where she couldn’t see the field, so she had to listen to the PA announcer to know how the game was progressing. Our team had made a first down, and mom, being the somewhat rabid football fan that she was, was happy. I had no idea what a “first down” was, so I asked. All she said was “that means they get to keep going”. Not knowing anything about football, or any sport really, it made no sense to me. But it made my mom happy, so I took it as a good thing.
  • My oldest sister took me along with her date, to a local fair. This was one of the little travelling deals that used to set up in shopping center parking lots. You just don’t see those anymore.  She, and my other sister as well, would take me along to these affairs quite often.  I clearly remember sitting in the Faris Wheel, between my sister and her date, stuck at the top for a good ten minutes. It was night time, so all the lights in the area were quite amazing. We could even see a little of the airport from our vantage point. I don’t think her date was as excited as I was. I wonder why??
  • My other sister and her friends using me as a makeup dummy. They used to try different shades of lipstick, and who knows what else on me to find the correct complimentary colors. Maybe that’s why clown makeup was such an obvious thing for me. Who knew lipstick was a gateway drug??
  • The importance of animals. We always had a pet of some kind in the house. Many times several at the same time. I learned just how important that relationship is, and it taught me the compassion and some of the responsibilities that are needed to maintain a family. 
  • Since my birthday falls around, and sometimes on, Thanksgiving, my mom would buy me pretty much whatever I wanted for my birthday dinner. Mostly to get me out of the way while she and my sisters were working on the big dinner. I always asked for pizza. From one place only. Frankie’s on Bird Road. They didn’t deliver, and the line was always long. But I would get my pizza, take it to my room, turn up the music as loud as I could get away with. That was cool!
  • My (still) best friend, Maurice and I spending entire days driving around in what we called “The Search For The Blue Nehi”. For those that don’t know what that is. A blue Nehi is a cream soda. It just happens to be a very lovely shade of blue. And it’s very hard to find. But it was a way to just drive around, make fun of people, and spend time with someone important.

I could go on forever. Remembrances of my military days. Going to Alaska, Korea, and all over the country. Having spent twenty years in the military and never seeing a day of combat is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, it kept me safe, but all my soldier buddies that were pulled from our hospital duties to deploy for Desert Shield/Storm came back at least one rank higher (some two ranks higher). Meanwhile, the reservists that came in to take their place lost my promotion paperwork twice!

What about my wife and kids and grandkids? So many memories I could write pages upon pages. So that will be another post, I’m afraid. 

Before I leave you today, I do have a birthday request. Not just for my birthday, but for anyone’s birthday. 

I have been blessed with more than I need. I have family, friends, a roof over my head that has room for more than just me, food aplenty, lots of beer and whisky, and pretty good health. While I want lots of stuff, I am not in need of anything. I bet you’ve friends and family that can say the same. So, don’t give material things (unless there is a special need for that thing). What I would love is donations to a good charity instead.  And there are many LOCAL charities available.

  • A local women’s shelter
  • A local homeless shelter
  • Your local animal shelter
  • A local food bank

I don’t like big conglomerate charity places (i.e. United Way and the like). Their problem is overhead. One report I read said that for every dollar donated to these types of organizations, only 3 cents or so actually make to the folks that need it. Give directly whenever possible.  National charities are good too.

  • The Red Cross (International!)
  • St. Jude’s
  • Many veteran’s organizations.

That’s enough, you get my drift. Make a donation in your loved one’s name (and don’t wait for a birthday or other holiday). And if you’re an Amazon shopper like I am, use their automatic donation option. You can have a portion of your purchases go directly to the charity of your choice. It costs you nothing. Currently, I have St. Jude’s as my choice. But I do change it now and then.

Having said that, if anyone wants to send me a boatload of cash so I can get those “wants, but not needs”, I’m not gonna say no. A nice big pellet smoker, an RV (along with a new vehicle) are on that list. And they ain’t cheap. 

But now I have to take on another of my birthday traditions. Namely, cook my own birthday dinner. But hey, I don’t mind. I cook because I love to eat. 

Thanks for spending a little of my birthday with me. I appreciate your time. Hope your day goes well, as I expect mine to go. But I really must go, the smoker ain’t gonna light itself!

I leave you with this video, which has absolutely nothing to do with birthdays. But it’s another memory from one of my trips around the sun. This one is for you Lloyd.

Peace,
B

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