Let’s Take A Moment Day 241

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?

kurt v

(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.

I am somewhat amazed that it took me until the eight month mark to get to a song from one of my favorite albums, “After The Gold Rush” by Neil Young. Of course I have played a few songs by him already but none from that work of art. So I will do that today, in honor of his 75th birthday.

Born Nov 12, 1945 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada Young dropped out of high school to pursue a career in music. He met Stephen Stills in Ontario in the mid 1960’s when he was there on tour with one of his early bands. Then Young met fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell when both were writing two of their finest tracks. Legend has it this is when Young wrote “Sugar Mountain” about his fleeting youth (supposedly he wrote it in 1964 on his 19th birthday). Mitchell has said she wrote “The Circle Game” (Day 55). to help him cope with his growing pains. Around this time a local band, The Guess Who, recorded Young’s song, “Flying on the Ground is Wrong”. He spent the rest of his time in Canada as a solo artist and as a member of The Mynah Birds with future R&B singer, Rick James.

Young relocated to Los Angeles around 1966 and met up with Stills in the Laurel Canyon music scene of the 1960’s. The two formed Buffalo Springfield & had a major hit with 1966’s “For What It’s Worth”, a song credited as one of the first ones to combine folk rock with country rock. But the group had several problems going on behind the music and Young felt confined within a group setting so when the band split up he returned to his solo work. He released his self-titled album in early 1969 followed by “Every One Knows This Is Nowhere” later that year. Both records focused on Young’s electric sound with the second featuring “Cinnamon Girl”, “Down By The River” and “Cowgirl In The Sand”.

It was around this time that Young again reunited with Stills in his new band which was renamed Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. They performed at Woodstock but Young missed one set & refused to be filmed for the other, allegedly because he was in the US illegally (he did not get his green card until 1970). When the band was recording “Deja Vu”, Stills & Young fought frequently over the sound of the band. But they managed to put aside those differences long enough to record his song “Ohio” in May 1970 in response to the Kent State shootings. After that Young left the band for good and went on to his enormously successful solo career.

It began in earnest 50 years ago with 1970’s “After The Gold Rush” which was highlighted by his move to a more acoustic driven sound. Thank goodness for that shift because it continued with the next release, 1972’s “Harvest” album which contains his masterpiece, “Heart Of Gold” (Day 24). But “Gold Rush” has several gems including “Tell Me Why”, “Southern Man”, “Don’t Let It Bring You Down”, “I Believe In You”, the title track and today’s pick. It is another of Young’s heartbreakingly beautiful ballads that just takes hold of me and will not let go. They make my heart hurt for all the right reasons, especially today’s song.

I have a friend I’ve never seen
He hides his head inside a dream
Someone should call him and see
If he can come out
Trying to lose the down that he’s found
“.

Neil 1970

Neil Young Opening Night Reception For "Special Deluxe" Art Exhibition

Top:  Neil Young circa 1970.  Bottom:  Young circa 2015.  (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

Neil Young: “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” (1970, written by Neil Young).

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.

IMG_0495[1]

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.

kate              Bourdain.jpg

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.

INGRAM ny times

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“.

SONY DSC
                                                     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.