Let’s Take A Moment Day 356

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?

March 2021 Blog

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life 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.

In July 1983 Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard had a #1 hit with their version of today’s song. Emmylou Harris released her own version in 1976. I did not hear either of them until after I discovered the original 1972 version by the songwriter himself, Townes Van Zandt. He is another one of those obscure but legendary cult heroes who wrote several notable songs made famous by many artists in & out of the country genre. But he never achieved a successful performing career of his own due to his lifelong battle with mental illness and addiction.

He was born 77 years ago on March 7, 1944 in Texas. He started playing guitar by age 12 after he was inspired by an Elvis Presley TV performance. When Van Zandt was in college the first signs of alcoholism & depression emerged, leading to his bipolar diagnosis which prevented him from being accepted into the Air Force. A course of insulin therapy treatments impaired his long term memory. By 1965 he gave up a stint in law school for a career in music.

Van Zandt was writing songs steadily between 1968 and 1973 and was considered a rising country star., but that path was marred by addiction. Even so by the end of the decade he had achieved cult figure status for his poetic songs of sad tales featuring various characters and the worlds they lived in. In addition to Harris’ cover of today’s song, she also recorded his tune, “If I Needed You” as a duet with Don Williams in 1981 which became a top ten hit.

In 1990 Van Zandt toured with The Cowboy Junkies & supposedly turned down several invitations to write with Bob Dylan, who was also a fan. But despite those successes, Van Zandt’s career never moved past the dive bar circuit because of his substance abuse struggles & his ongoing mental health issues. He died in 1997 at the age of 52 from health problems related to his addictions. .

I chose a live version of today’s song because unlike the studio track, this one features a hauntingly beautiful violin accompaniment that comes in during the second verse and stays until the end of the track. It underscore the pensive mood of the music, the lyrics & the singer’s poignant tone. Happy birthday, Townes Van Zandt.

“Living on the road my friend
Was gonna keep you free and clean
Now you wear your skin like iron
Your breath’s as hard as kerosene
“.

Townes

Townes Van Zandt circa 1977. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Townes Van Zandt: “Pancho & Lefty” (Recorded in Oklahoma in 1978, from the 1993 album, Rear View Mirror. Originally released in 1972, written by Townes Van Zandt).

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 32

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 marks the 104th birth anniversary of my beloved grandmother Ida, or as I affectionately called her, Idie.  I think about her and miss her everyday, but even more so since we have been dealing with this pandemic.  She would not have handled the self-quarantine well at all.  She barely went two days in a row without going to bingo so not being allowed to play it for all this time would have undoubtedly put her in a straight jacket by now.  But still, I wish she was still here, for all the obvious reasons.  And so I could have seen the look on her face when she found out that my dream of spending my time listening to music and watching TV all day long not only came true, but is government mandated!!!  Ha!!!  Take that, Idie!!!  LOL.

While I was growing up, we always had music on in the house and usually it was from my records.  Idie learned to like many of the songs I played including “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac and “Factory” by Bruce Springsteen.  But one hour a day, usually while we were cooking together, she made me turn off my albums so she could listen to the local country music radio station.  And that is how I discovered legends like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Don Williams, Merle Haggard and the singer of today’s song, Johnny Cash.

He was usually referred to by his nickname “the man in black” but since I first heard him on the radio, that did not really tell me anything other than his preferred garment color.  But his voice and his songs told me all I needed to know about him.  Yes, he was one of the greatest musical talents to ever exist but he was also my first introduction to a true crossover artist.

He sang everything from country songs to religious hymns, to Americana music (like “The Battle Hymn of The Republic”) to covers of  songs by rock artists like Bob Dylan (“It Ain’t Me Babe”), The Rolling Stones (“No Expectations”) and The Band (“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”).  He was also on TV and not just as a musical guest.  He appeared in an episode of  “Little House On The Prairie” as a bad guy turned good guy after meeting the pious people of Walnut Grove.  And he was mentioned in a few “Golden Girls” episodes.  My favorite one is a quip by Dorothy after she & Sophia walk in the house wearing dark clothes and Rose is, as usual, confused.

Rose:  “Why are you both wearing black?  Did you just come from a funeral?

Dorothy:  “No, Rose.  We were singing back up for Johnny Cash”.

He continued to make incredible music for the rest of his life, on his own and as a member of the supergroup, The Highwaymen.  He also covered more rock songs by Neil Young (“Heart of Gold”), Nine Inch Nails (“Hurt) and U2 (“One”).  And he continued to act, most notably on “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” with the great love of his life, June, by his side.  I grew up believing there wasn’t anything Cash could not sing or do.  He proved me right.  I am so thankful I discovered his music, all because my grandmother brought country songs into my world.  Thank you, Idie.  And happy birthday.  xoxox

Johnny Cash "Folsom Prison Blues" 7 inch Album Cover

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Johnny Cash:  “Folsom Prison Blues” (1955, written by Johnny Cash).

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

Stay well.

Christmas Song Countdown #21

Hello, Vixens!!!  Welcome back to the countdown!!!

tree

Courtesy of:  The City Sage (original source unknown)

 

Today’s pick was an easy choice.  My Christmas season is not complete until I hear this song by Elvis Presley himself.  Let’s be real-there was not a piece of music the King sang that I did not like.  His delivery was always impeccable with just the right amount of emotion in his velvety smooth voice.  Combine that with the heavy bass line and the fantastic back-up singers and you have one heck of a song.

But as much as I love Elvis’ Blue ChristmasI remembered another version of this song that I love, too.  It is by an artist who died on his 79th birthday in April.  Another country music star who had that heavy-drinking-fast-living-outlaw persona but that started from his past as a convict while he was in his late teens and early 20’s.  While in jail he realized that all he would get for a life of petty crimes and robberies were those steel bars, so he began to turn his life around, especially after seeing Johnny Cash’s San Quentin concert in 1959.

elvis

Courtesy of:  Elvis.com

 

This artist’s version of Blue Christmas is acoustic and his voice is much edgier than the King’s, bit it still works.  Maybe because I’m a fan, maybe because I am sorry he is gone, maybe a little of both.  The last time I saw him perform was on the 2014 Grammy Awards.  where he sang with his buddies Kris (sa-woon) Kristofferson and Willie Nelson.  Some of his hits include “If We Make It Through December“, “Silver Wings“, “That’s The Way Love Goes” and “Bar Room Buddies“, a duet with Clint Eastwood from the movie “Bronco Billy”.  However, he will probably best be remembered as an “Okie from Muskogee“.

Merle Haggard:  Blue Christmas.

merle

Merle Haggard Courtesy of:  ABC News (original source unknown)

 

P.S.  I found this on YouTube the other day, and I still have not stopped laughing.  I am not a big fan of Porky Pig’s, but his performance.of this song is just too funny!!!  Enjoy!!!

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

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, fellow Vixens, happy listening!!!

silver-bells