Happy Birthday, Happy Autumn

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Bruce Springsteen (original source:  Ed Murray | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com).

It has been one heck of a year for this man who has already racked up decades of good ones.  Since his last birthday, he has been starring in his Tony Award winning Broadway show.  It was originally supposed to run for only about two months, but due to the incredible demand for more performances, he extended it to the end of this year.  While several singers have chosen to headline residencies in Las Vegas, Springsteen has chosen a more intimate setting that has reinvented his epochal music in a new and even more illuminating way.  That is an unbelievable feat that could only be accomplished by a talent like his.  Happy birthday, Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen.  You are a beautiful man with a beautiful soul.

We are also officially in the fall season.  Yay.  That deserves a song, too.  So today I am sharing two with you.

For The Bossman’s birthday, I chose the title track of his 2009 record.  In typical Springsteen fashion, he describes holding on to a vision of a better life despite all the road blocks that appear in its way.  And how love will help the dream along.

I’m working on a dream
Though trouble can feel like it’s here to stay
I’m working on a dream
Well our love will chase trouble away.

Bruce Springsteen:  “Working On A Dream

The second song honors the new season.  This iconic singer/songwriter performed here in Connecticut yesterday with a little help from some of his fellow musician friends at this year’s Farm Aid concert.  It sets the tone of this new autumn season perfectly.  And how love makes everything better.

When we were strangers
I watched you from afar
When we were lovers
I loved you with all my heart.”

Neil Young:  “Harvest Moon“.

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some of the people & music I love with you.

Until next time, happy digging.

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Looking Back, Looking Forward

Hello again.  Hope you all had a great summer.  Fall is almost here.  Yay!!!

Sorry for the unplanned/unannounced hiatus.  It has been a rough summer (year actually) for me personally & professionally, and it has all taken a toll on my creativity.  When I am in that place, I do a lot of reflecting.  The older I get, that seems more normal than looking ahead.  I am trying desperately to change that, but it is so very difficult.

I am looking forward to reawakening myself with the upcoming change of season we are about to begin.  Like the quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald goes, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall”.  I feel reborn when the weather cools and the leaves change.  This year I need a fresh start more than ever.

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The summer was hot and humid which was to be expected.  It was also full of loss which was not.  Kate Spade & Anthony Bourdain losing their battle with depression was not only heartbreaking, but terrifying to anyone who suffers from that same disease (read:  me, although I prefer not to discuss this battle publicly).  I always hoped with more love and more success in my life I would feel more stable in fighting this demon.  But their stories only prove how much I have been kidding myself about this illness.  A few years ago I lost a dear family friend to the same battle.  We grew up together and I never knew what he was going through.  It scared me so much I had to stop looking at my fear because I was afraid if I didn’t, I was going to get lost in it and never come back.  Spade & Bourdain’s deaths so close together has made it impossible to look away.  And that is incredibly scary, too.  That is my present.

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Kate Spade & Anthony Bourdain (original sources unknown).

The reflecting started with the death of one of my childhood heroes, legendary disc jockey Dan Ingram.  One of the best things about growing up in New York was listening to music radio WABC-77.  All of the DJ’s were phenomenal (especially Harry Harrison & Ron Lundy), but Ingram’s time slot of 2PM-6PM was the one I could listen to almost all the way through, and I fell head over heels in love with his voice.  It was deep yet elegant, sharp yet comforting and funny and irreverent as hell.  He was the reason I fell in love with both voices and vocabulary.  One of his daily events featured a word of the day.  I always thought he was making them up until I was in sixth grade and one of my spelling words-eloquent-was one I heard on his show.  Then I learned the words were real but his definitions were the punch line.  It made me love Ingram even more and helped expand my vocabulary exponentially.

His show also featured an honor group of the day which ranged from those in certain professions, or hobbyists and club members to every other group in between, making anyone feel welcome in his world.  He referred to his audience as “the Ingramess” but kept it personal with his signature sign off  of “Bye now, Kemosabe” while big band music played him off.  Years later he moved to WCBS-FM where he did weekend shows and he was better than ever.  When he died on June 24 at the age of 83 it was like losing one of my dearest, oldest friends.   And for those of you not lucky enough to know who this man was, here’s a clip of his genius.

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Dan Ingram at WCBS-FM circa 1990’s (courtesy of the NY Times).

The friends we make in childhood we remember forever.  And I had some of the best.  Winnie the Pooh courtesy of A.A. Milne & Walt Disney, Mr. Rogers, the Peanuts courtesy of Charles M. Schulz and the disc jockeys at 77-WABC.  All of them held a special place in my heart, but Ingram had me holding on to every word.  His comments were as important to me as the lyrics of the songs he played every weekday afternoon.  He was one of the best teachers I ever had.  My childhood was briefer than most but he was a huge part of it.  And in those memories of when my life was whole, happy and full of color, he was one of the most vibrant ones.  I had the chance to interview him by phone many years ago when I was writing an article about CBS-FM’s yearly Thanksgiving countdown and it was one of the high points of my life.  Getting the chance to thank him for being such a hero of mine was one of the greatest gifts I was ever given.  His loss has me heartbroken in so many ways.  It is like losing the last piece of my childhood.

Then less than two months later, we lost the Queen:  Aretha Franklin.  For those of you who follow my blog, you know how much I love music, so this loss is ENORMOUS.  There will never EVER be a singer like Aretha.  Her voice, her soul, her passion, her songs……sublime.  The world is truly a darker place without her in it.  Yes, we will always have the music.  But her mere presence made our world a better place.  I am just devastated.

This is not as popular as some of her other songs, but it is one of my favorites:  “Angel“.

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                                                     Aretha Franklin at her concert at Jones Beach, NY July, 2011. 

Now we have lost Burt Reynolds.   If you saw my Instagram post about him yesterday, you know the first film I saw of his was “The Longest Yard”.  His infectious laugh hit me harder than his looks.  Who did not love him in the “Smokey & the Bandit” films?  Or with Goldie Hawn in “Best Friends”?  And how great was he on one of my favorite (and sorely underrated) shows, “Evening Shade”?  And how about him with my favorite ladies on “The Golden Girls”?  He was definitely a big part of my childhood, and now he is gone too.  Sigh.

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Burt Reynolds on “The Golden Girls” in 1986.  

I know full well that loss is a part of life, but this year has just brought so many that have forced me to revisit parts of my life I try to steer clear of.  Yes, avoidance works well for me.  Sometimes.

I tried writing about these losses as they occurred, but again, avoidance & the lack of creativity stopped that from happening.  But now that the summer is over but the losses continue, I am hoping that by finally writing about them will change my luck and the trajectory of the universe for a while.  One can hope, right?

The song I have been listening to almost non stop these last few months is one I have ADORED forever.  It is a sad song about the loss of a love but it is so achingly beautiful I find myself identifying with it while reflecting on the losses of my youth.  When I remember that this horribly underrated singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist wrote this song nearly 50 years ago before he turned 25 I am blown away.  If this was all he ever gave us, what a contribution it was on its own.  But he also blessed us with “For What It’s Worth”, “Suite:  Judy Blue Eyes”, “Love the One You’re With”, “Southern Cross” and many other songs which are enigmatic, timeless and beautiful.

“Stand by the stairway

You’ll see something certain to tell you

Confusion has its cost”

Stephen Stills (via Crosby, Stills & Nash):  “Helplessly Hoping“.

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some of the people & things I love with you.

Until next time, happy digging.