Let’s Take A Moment Day 215

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Thoreau quote 2

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

On a typically hot humid Long Island summer day in July 1980, I was sitting in a wonderfully cool air conditioned movie theatre waiting with bated breath for a movie to start. There were only two other people in the multiplex that day-a young couple a few rows behind me. The film we were all there to see was the “No Nukes” documentary from the concerts held at Madison Square Garden in September 1979. I will not bore you with the details as to why I was not allowed to go to see one of the shows in person with three of my cousins (hint-they were boys and I was not, as my father sternly reminded me) but suffice it to say I had been waiting close to a year for this moment.

I sat through nearly every other performance and enjoyed many of them (Crosby, Stills & Nash, James Taylor, The Doobie Brothers) but I was desperate to see the love of my life, Bruce Springsteen. Finally a picture of the marque with his name came on the screen and suddenly there he was backstage. First he was with Jackson Browne then with The E Street Band walking to the stage for their performance as the crowd cheered “Bruce!”. In the next scene the band was in front of the audience and then that beautiful man, Springsteen himself, walked up to the microphone. And the camera stayed on him and that microphone for the entire song. Swoon.

“This is new. It’s about my brother-in-law and sister”, he told the crowd. Then he started playing the harmonica until he introduced us to the characters in the first verse.

I come from down in the valley where mister when you’re young
They bring you up to do like your daddy done
Me and Mary we met in high school when she was just seventeen
We’d drive out of this valley down to where the fields were green
“.

We’d go down to the river and into the river we’d dive
Oh down to the river we’d ride
“.

The guy sitting with his girlfriend a couple of rows behind me shouted “turn it up!” and the volume increased as The Boss continued telling us the true story of the couple in the song.

Then I got Mary pregnant and man that was all she wrote
And for my nineteenth birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat
We went down to the courthouse and the judge put it all to rest
No wedding day smiles, no walk down the aisle, no flowers no wedding dress
“.

We went down to the river and into the river we’d dive
Oh down to the river we’d ride…
“.

More consequences followed as the couples’ downward spiral continued.

I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company
But lately there ain’t been no work on account of the economy
Now all them things that seemed so important, well mister they vanished right into the air
I just act like I don’t remember, Mary acts like she don’t care
“.

Then a memory of better days………and how quickly they ended.

But I remember us riding in my brother’s car, her body tan and wet down at the reservoir
At night on them banks I’d lie awake and pull her close just to feel each breath she’d take
Now them memories come back to haunt me, they haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true or is it something worse
“.

That sends me down to the river, though I know the river is dry
Oh down to the river tonight
Down to the river, my baby and I
Oh down to the river we ride…
.

Tears were rolling down my face as the last line from the final verse just played over and over in my head.

Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true or is it something worse“.

What is worse than a dream that does not come true?

I don’t think anyone tells the stories of those haunted by broken dreams better than Springsteen does. The movie concert was the first time I ever saw him sing on a stage and I still remember every second of that performance. Today’s hauntingly beautiful song is the title track from his only double album-which was released 40 years ago today-October 17, 1980. I have written this before and will continue until I take my last breath: Bruce Springsteen’s music saved me like no one else’s. I owe him everything and “it’s a debt no honest man can pay”. Swoon.

Bruce No Nukes

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Top: A movie still from the “No Nukes” concert film of Bruce Springsteen during his performance of “The River”. Bottom: “The River” album front cover. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: “The River” (From the 1980 film, “No Nukes”, as performed at the concert of the same name in September 1979. Written by Bruce Springsteen).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 125

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Thoreau music quote

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Today’s song has been covered by a myriad of artists including Robert Plant, The Four Tops, Bob Seger, Johnny Cash (as a duet with his wife, June Carter Cash) and Leon Russell, and all of them are great versions.  But my favorite one was recorded by Walden Robert Cassotto, better known by his stage name, Bobby Darin.  It was a top ten hit for him in 1966.  If you are not too familiar with Darin, it is very easy to write him off as a novelty act because of his first hit song, “Splish Splash”.  But make no mistake, he was an excellent musician playing guitar, piano and drums.  He also wrote and recorded songs in all different types of musical genres including pop, rock & roll, jazz, swing, country & folk.

That is how he took us from “Dream Lover”, “Mack The Knife” and “Beyond The Sea” in the 1950’s to today’s song and “Simple Song of Freedom” in the 1960’s.  He began his career as a songwriter at The Brill Building in NYC, the same place where Carole King & Gerry Goffin started.  It was there that Darin met & was signed by record executive Ahmet Ertegun, who discovered people like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton (when he was in the band, Cream), Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Led Zeppelin.  I think Darin’s vocal has a haunting sadness in it that just resonates throughout today’s song.  And with superb lyrics by songwriter Tim Hardin and a beautiful arrangement, this tune just had everything it needed to be something both remarkable & unexpected all at once.

Save my love through loneliness
Save my love for sorrow
I’ve given you my onlyness
Come give your tomorrow.”

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Bobby Darin circa 1969.  (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Bobby Darin:  “If I Were A Carpenter” (1966, written by Tim Hardin).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 10

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

music heart

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Today’s song is in honor of the fishing & boating seasons which began in CT yesterday.  Launches are now open, fishing can take place wherever you can drop a line and both activities can be done within the social distancing guidelines.  The therapeutic nature of the water and its power to heal is well known and many people have taken to it when all feels lost.  Stephen Stills wrote today’s song after a sailing trip he took when he was trying to come to terms with the end of a marriage.  He said it was about  “using the power of the universe to heal your wounds”.  I love that and thought some of you would, too.

Southern Cross

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Crosby, Stills & Nash:  “Southern Cross” (1982, written by Stephen Stills, Rick Curtis and Michael Curtis).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

 

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.

Burt with the girls

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.