The Battle Is On

A week after Halloween and we are divided.  What side are you on?  Is it still fall or are you in Christmas mode?

My feet are firmly planted in the current autumn season.  I love it WAY too much to end it so abruptly (not to mention prematurely).  And luckily there are many people I follow on Instagram who feel the same way, like Mayra who posted her beautiful mantle.

cupcake IG post

(Courtesy of @cupcakecountrygirl)

But there are just as many pictures of Christmas decorations in my feed which I like, too, for ideas and inspiration.  Just like this gorgeous tiered tray by Crystal.

Crystal

(Courtesy of @crystaltara).

But I cannot start Christmas decorating at the expense of Thanksgiving!!!  I just can’t!!!

Some people let the seasons collide, sort of like at the retail stores where this time of year you can find Halloween clearance, Thanksgiving decor and Christmas items on display together.  This was evident during a recent trip to one of my favorite places on earth, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (not sponsored).  They are promoting their delicious menu for Thanksgiving along with their beautiful Christmas decor items.

The ambiance in the restaurant is very much all autumn:

CB hearth

CB bounty

CB menu

And the General Store is well stocked with fall items, too:

cb harvest truck pillow

CB kitchen towel

CB grit and grace pillow

But Christmas is in full swing at the Store as well:

cb Christmas display

cb snowman

Peanuts tin.jpg

cb tree

I just L-O-V-E this tree topper hat!!!

cb hat tree topper

And these two are my favorites of all their pretty ornaments.

cb gingerbread house ornament      cb barn ornament

Even though Halloween is over, Cracker Barrel still has plenty of mega-sized candy available that could be a great gift for a difficult person on your list who may have a sweet tooth:

cb kit kat

cb mallo cup

cb rice krispie treats

So, what season is it for you right now?  What does your decor look like this time of year?

Now for a song.

This summer we lost a singer who was a sentimental favorite of mine.  Not just because he had a great husky voice with a blue-eyed soul thing going on, but because he was also family.  Community family.  He grew up in the same town I did and graduated from the same high school I went to.  And he put us on the map for a good reason after a lot of bad publicity stemming from an extraordinarily mortifying book banning incident.

He initially tried to join the family business as a cop in the NYC Police Department like his grandfather, dad & brother did before him.  However, he soon realized his heart was really in music, so he headed west to begin his career.  His debut album was released in 1977 and he was off.  He had more hits in the 1980’s & 1990’s, but his first one has always been my favorite.  In today’s social media driven world where many struggle to be  thankful for what they have vs. what they see, the lyrics are as relevant as ever:

“Don’t be thinkin’ ’bout what’s not enough, now baby
Just be thinkin’ ’bout what we got
Think of all my love, now
I’m gonna give you all I got.”  

Eddie Money    Eddie Money 2010

  Eddie Money’s 1977 album cover & in 2010 at the LI Music HOF ceremony (original sources unknown).  

I had the chance to meet him in 2010 at the Long Island Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Huntington, NY.  He was sweet, kind and gracious and reminisced with me about our junior high vice principal.  It was a great thrill for me to meet him and a fantastic night of music to be a part of.  He was also a quiet champion for our veterans.  Rest in peace,  Edward Joseph Mahoney.  And thank you from all of us in your Levittown and Island Trees families.  You made us unbelievably proud.

Baby Hold On” – Eddie Money (1977, written by Eddie Money & Jimmy Lyon).

I do not own the rights to anything in this post.  I just enjoy sharing what I love with you.

Until next time, happy listening!!!

 

 

 

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My Top 10 Halloween Songs

Happy Halloween, everyone!!!

mantel

Courtesy of Pinterest & ehomedecors.com (original source unknown)

You know for me it is all about the music, so I could not let this holiday pass without honoring it with my favorite songs (in no particular order), which are guaranteed to put you in a  Halloween mood.

1.  “I Put A Spell On You” (1956, written by Jalacy “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins).

 

bette

(Original source unknown)

The songwriter’s own version from 1956 is a powerful number all on its own.  But, there are several unbelievably intense & stunning covers you cannot miss by Nina Simone (1965), Annie Lennox (2014), Them featuring Van Morrison (1966), Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968), Chaka Khan (2019) and of course, Winifred Sanderson a/k/a  Bette Midler (1993) from the film “Hocus Pocus”.

2.  “Sympathy for the Devil” – The Rolling Stones (1968, written by Mick Jagger & Keith Richards).

Rolling Stones

(Original source unknown)

From the opening beats of the congas combined with Jagger’s first scream, the Stones pull you into this masterpiece and refuse to let you go.  And honestly, you would not want to leave anyway.  There are several covers out there by respectable artists, but compared to the original they really are not even worth mentioning.

3.  “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” – The Charlie Daniels Band (1979, written by the Charlie Daniels Band). 

charlie daniels

(Original source unknown)

A fantastically fun song.  But how can a song about the devil be fun, you ask?  Just include a contest with a human, a ,smoking hot fiddle player and lyrics like “Chicken in a bread pan pickin’ out dough, Granny, does your dog bite? No child, no!” and you are all set.  Personal note:  This song is featured in one of my favorite episodes of “The Drew Carey Show” (season 2, episode 5:  “The Devil, You Say”) guest starring Grant Shaud (“Murphy Brown’s” Miles Silverberg) convinced he is the prince of darkness in the living flesh.  Watch it if you can find it.  I couldn’t. 

4.  “Werewolves of London” – Warren Zevon (1978, written by Warren Zevon, LeRoy Marinell & Waddy Wachtel).

warren zevon

(Original source unknown)

Zevon referred to this as a novelty song, and if that is so, it is undoubtedly one of the best of all time.  How could it not be with an opening line like “I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand”.  Wouldn’t that make a great costume???!!!  Adam Sandler did a more than respectable cover of this song on the 2004 Zevon tribute album, “Eat Every Sandwich”.  And you thought Sandler only sang about Hanukah!!!

5.  “Spooky” –Atlanta Rhythm Section (1979, written by Mike Shapiro and Harry Middlebrooks Jr,)

ARS 1

(Original source unknown)

I adored this band from the first time I heard “So Into You” but fell in L-O-V-E with them thanks to “Imaginary Lover“.  It still makes me swoon.  But I digress.  Two members of the group, Dean Daughtry and James B. Cobb, Jr-who were previously members of the band which first recorded this song, the Classics IV-decided to record another version with their new group.  Two other versions you cannot miss are by Joan Osborne   (1998) and Dusty Springfield (1970).

6.  “Season of the Witch” – Donovan (1966, written by Donovan and Shawn Phillips).

scary stories

(Original source unknown)

I am not a fan of folk Donavan, but psychedelic rock Donavan is a different story.  The music is undeniably from the late 1960’s but his vocals transcend the era.  There is some weight and a whole lot of feeling behind them that keeps up with the music perfectly so as not to be outdone.  If you can forgive the one dated reference to beatniks, you can enjoy this song anytime, but it is perfect for this time of year.  Al Kooper & Stephen Stills’ cover is a guitar & brass spin on the original and is absolutely worth a listen.  And if you are planning to see the movie “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”  you will hear a new version of the song by Lana Del Ray which is very well done.

7.  “Black Magic Woman” – Fleetwood Mac (1968, written by Peter Green).

Peter Green

(Original source unknown)

If you are a fan of this band you know they formed years before Lindsay Buckingham & Stevie Nicks joined them.  Peter Green was one of the founding members of the group  and wrote and recorded this song with them in 1968.  Prior to Fleetwood Mac he was a member of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, joining them to fill the void left by Eric Clapton’s departure.  This song became more famous when it was covered by  Santana  in 1970 which featured Gregg Rolie on vocals.  He went on to join Journey, leading to him being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with each band.

8.  “Superstition” – Stevie Wonder (1972, written by Stevie Wonder).

stevie 1

(Original source unknown)

The lyrics may evoke fear and trepidation, but the music is nothing but mesmerizing, from the opening drum beats to the synthesizer bass to the tenor sax and more.  It is a banquet of sounds that, as the line goes, keeps you in a daydream.   For an equally funky version, give Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble’s version from 1986 a listen.  It does not disappoint.  Wonder even participated in the video for Vaughn’s version by appearing at the end and singing a line from the song……..with a black cat in his arms.  Fabulous.

9.  “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” – Denmark & Winter  (2016, written by Buck Dharma).

denmark

(Original source unknown)

Of course, Blue Oyster Cult’s 1976 original version is a classic, and that was years before the SNL cowbell skit.  But the indie band’s evocative stripped down version with its slower pace brings this song to a whole new level of intensity and beauty.

10.   Monster Mash” – Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers (1962, written by Bobby Pickett & Lenny Capizzi). 

MonsterMash

(Original source unknown)

How can this not be on the list???  It is the embodiment of the holiday AND it has Darlene Love on backing vocals!!!  I grew up listening to this song every Halloween season thanks to my mom.  She would play it over and over again while we danced around the living room.  That is how I learned you are never too old for this holiday.  Two cover versions that are almost as popular as the original are by Vincent Price (1977) and Alvin & the Chipmunks ( 1994).     

Honorable mention:  “Psycho Killer” – The Talking Heads (1977, written by the Talking Heads).

Once the little hairs on the back of your neck relax after taking in the title of this song, the rest of your body becomes entranced by the remarkable baseline underscoring Byrne’s vocals in English and French punctuated by his fa-fa-fa’s.  Just genius.

What songs do you love for Halloween?

I hope your holiday is filled with more treats than tricks!!!

i got a rock.jpg(Courtesy of Charles M. Schulz/United Feature Syndicate)   

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

Until next time, happy listening!!!

 

A Tale Of Two Cupboards

One of the most loved & cherished collections I have is my white Ironstone.  I have been collecting it for years.  When I had a house, I used to feature a rotating group of pieces on my mantel while two of my bigger pieces were displayed in my living room.  But, I never had an area dedicated to show off my entire collection in one place.  For years I have been looking for a rustic primitive piece like a cupboard with open shelves to serve that purpose.  This month I saw two I really liked around the same time courtesy of my new best friend, Facebook Marketplace.  So, I had to make a choice.  The pictures of each cabinet are below.  I am sharing the screen shots from the FB posts for authenticity.

Here is cabinet A:

A1

15_hutch_pic_one[1]

A2

15_hutch_pic_two[1]

A3

15_hutch_side_view[1]

Here is cabinet B:

B1

250_hutch[1]

B2

250_hutch_2[1]

B3

250_hutch_3[1]

B4

250_hutch_4[1]

Both are heavy wood pieces so either one will hold the weight of the Ironstone without fear of the cupboard falling over.  Each one has a small closed off bottom area for additional storage.  And the dimensions are basically identical (78H x 42W x 10D versus 78H x 42W x 17D).  As for differences, cupboard A has three shelves framed by scalloped trim while cupboard B has two shelves with straight trim.  It also has one bottom door and a more primitive look to the whole piece.  Still both will serve the purpose I want it for and each has its own charm.  So which one did I choose?

As much as I loved cabinet B and its reasonable price of $250 (I probably could have negotiated an even lower one), it still cost more than I could spend right now on a non-necessity.  So I passed on it.

250_hutch_screen_shot[1]

I chose A and I only paid $10.00 for it.  So really, it was no contest.  I had every intention of paying the asking price of $15, but once I saw the cupboard in person and realized there are a good amount of cracks that need to be repaired (not just the one in picture A3 where you can see a black tape patch at the bottom of the cabinet) along with a small mildew stain in the back, the seller agreed to the reduced price.  Yes, this piece will need more work, TLC, and elbow grease than the other one.  But I was already planning to clean and paint whichever one I bought since I want the outside of the cupboard to be white.  Now I will just need to spend a little more time on repairs.  Saving myself $240 is well worth it.  I will share the cupboard transformation in another post.

15_hutch[2]

Now for a song.

This past weekend Bruce Springsteen’s movie, “Western Stars”, opened nationwide.  He has been on the talk show circuit promoting it so I got to see several clips of the film (I am going to see it on Halloween).  In one scene Bruce wishes the viewers “….a guiding light thru the dark for all your days.”  The dark he refers to is depression, which is also the subject of the album’s first single, “Hello Sunshine”.  I have listened to this song every day since its release in June because I understand what Bruce so eloquently explains about one of the saddest realities of the disease:  You cannot run away from it, and if you try, you will only leave everything else behind.

“You know I always liked that empty road
No place to be and miles to go
But miles to go is miles away
Hello sunshine, won’t you stay?”

bruce

What he has done for those of us suffering from depression has been life-changing.  When a strong powerful man speaks out about his own fight with this illness, it gives credence to the rest of us who suffer with this malady.

Reading about his struggles in his autobiography gave me hope that even when I forget what light is like, I may find my way back to it with his music and because he did, too. He is a survivor and tells the rest of us we can survive, too.  I will never ever be able to thank him for all he has given me and all his other fans, but adding this part of his story to our narrative of him is monumental.  Thank you, Bossman, thank you. And continue to stay in the sunshine. .

Bruce Springsteen:  “Hello Sunshine” (2019, written by Bruce Springsteen).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

Until next time, happy listening!!!

Welcome To The Season Of “Ber” Months

 

October photo image

Image found on Pinterest.  Original source unknown.  

“The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky.”   William Butler Yates

It is finally October.   Hallelujah.  I feel this way every year after surviving another summer of triple H weather (hazy, hot & humid).  It’s not just the cool weather I embrace.  It’s all the fairs this time of year, the activities like apple and pumpkin picking and Halloween.  I may not trick-or-treat anymore, but I still watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and hope he gets more than a rock.  It’s also a great time for decorating, cooking and baking.

What are some of your favorite ways to welcome October and the coziness of fall?

The weather here in New England has cooled off considerably during the overnights, but a lot of the days still have temperatures between 75-80 degrees.  Even though the leaves have started to change and pumpkin patch signs are everywhere I turn, I still need a push to welcome fall.  And what better push than music.   Enjoy.

Eric Clapton:  “Autumn Leaves” (2010, written by Joseph Kosma, Johnny Mercer & Jacques Prevert).

Happy Autumn & Happy 70th Birthday, Bossman!!!

snoopy fall

Courtesy of Charles M. Schultz.

Fall is finally officially here.  Yay!!!

But just as important as the start of the new season is, so is the fact that 70 years ago today Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen was born.  And in case you are wondering, this is what 70 looks like on him:

Bruce on the beach.jpgOriginal source unknown. 

OK, this picture was actually taken six years ago.   But judging by his most recent album (his 19th) and its companion movie, Western Stars,  Springsteen looks just as great now.  And add to that the fact that we see him on a horse………well, say it with me:  saaaaaaaaaa-wooooooon!!!

The word is he will be touring next year which gives me yet another reason to say thank you to this incredible man.  For his words, his music, his heart and his voice.   And for Jungleland.  I cannot thank him enough for Jungleland.

So, today’s song is Jungleland.   Enjoy all 9:37 of it.  Especially the gorgeous intro.  My God, is it beautiful.

Happy Autumn, all!!!

 

 

 

The Sunday That Changed Everything

February 9, 1964.  Fifty five years ago.  One night.  One show.  One band.  And the rest, as they say, was history.

beatles-ed-sullivan-pic-cbs
 Photo courtesy of CBS.  

Beatles

Photo courtesy of CBS. 

There isn’t anything to add to this moment in history.  It was perfect.  And it changed music and subsequently the world forever.  Thank you, Mr. Sullivan, for introducing us to John, Paul, George & Ringo.  For all they gave us, for all those they inspired and all those that came after them.  This was the moment that started it all.

The performance of this song does not get as much recognition as the other songs they sang that night, but it was during this number that each of the Beatles were identified by their first name.

The Beatles:  “Till There Was You” (1964).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

Until next time, happy listening!!!

Remembering The Day The Music Died 60 Years Later

buddy-holly-jp-richardson-big-bopper-ritchie-valens

Holly, Richardson & Valens (original source unknown).

On February 3, 1959 the world lost three rising stars in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa: Charles Hardin Holley, known as Buddy Holly, who was 22, Jiles Perry “J. P.” Richardson Jr., known as The Big Bopper, who was 28 & Richard Steven Valenzuela, known as Ritchie Valens, who was 17. Don McLean referred to this tremendous loss as “the day the music died” in his 1971 iconic anthem, “American Pie”, because in many ways, music and the world were never quite the same after this tragedy. The date signifies a loss of innocence and in its place a cruel lesson about good people dying young and without warning, despite how bright their future looked.

In addition to their musical legacies, the singers left behind family.  For Holly it was his parents, three older siblings, a niece named Cindy Lou (whom he started to write a song for which eventually became “Peggy Sue”) and his wife, Maria Elena Santiago Holly.  She is still alive and owns the rights to all of Holly’s music and intellectual property.  She was pregnant when he died but suffered a miscarriage following news of the crash.  She co-founded the Buddy Holly Educational Foundation in 2010 with Peter Bradley.

Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly circa 1950’s (original source unknown).

For Richardson it was his wife, five year old daughter and son who was born two months after the crash.  All three have passed away.

The_Big_Bopper

The Big Bopper circa 1950’s (original source unknown).

Valens was survived by his mother, four siblings, a sister in law, nephew and high school girlfriend Donna Ludwig, whom he paid tribute to in his song of the same name.  It became a Billboard Top 100 number two hit after Valens’ death.

Ritchie Valens
 Ritchie Valens circa 1957  (original source unknown).

Today I am sharing some songs to honor these men and today’s somber anniversary.

For Buddy Holly “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” (1958) & a clip of him and the Crickets performing “Rave On” (1958).

For the Big Bopper:  “Chantilly Lace” (1958) as performed on “American Bandstand”.

For Ritchie Valens:  His most well known song & my favorite “La Bamba” (1958) and a great clip of him performing “Ooh My Head” (1958) from the movie, “Go, Johnny, Go”, which was released four months after the crash.

And, of course, Don McLean’s “American Pie” (1971).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

Until next time, happy listening!!!