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.

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Barn Sale Fun

One of the best things about living in New England is the plethora of barn sales.  They are everywhere and I am completely obsessed.

This time around I did not buy anything, but I l-o-v-e-d everything I saw.  The one I went to happens once a month so I will definitely be back.  Look at these great items!!!

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I am seriously considering buying one of these large bins.  No Idea what I would do with it, but I keep picturing it in a vertical position working as some type of shelving fixture, or lying horizontally across some hay bales chock full of pumpkins on a rustic fall front porch.  Gorgeous, right???

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Barn doors and shutters……..swoon!!!

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I am sure my fellow “Golden Girls” fans know why I took a picture of this sign.  The girls sang this jingle in season 7 episode 24 while they were waiting for Rose in the hospital (“My beer is Rheingold the dry beer, think of Rheingold whenever you buy beer, it’s not bitter not sweet it’s the extra dry treat won’t you try extra dry Rheingold beer”.)  God, I love those women!!!

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Which items did you like best?

For today’s song I chose two from one of my dad’s favorite movies in honor of Sunday being Father’s Day.  It’s been nearly seven years since he died and my world has been such a cold dark color without him.  But he and my mother gave me the foundation from which my love of music was born, and from the moment he and I first watched “Eddie and the Cruisers” together, there was no denying how much he loved it and its soundtrack.

We will not discuss the fact that it nearly drove me into a catatonic state every time my dad refused to acknowledge that these songs were NOT by my true love Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band (so so sorry, Bossman 😦  ).  My dad forgave me for a lot of things, so I must show him the same courtesy here.  So Dad, the second song is for you because I know how much you loved it.  The first one is for us & how much I yearn to relive all the tender years we spent together again.  And how I wish we had more.  Te amo, Dad.

“Oh oh oh tender years

Won’t you wash away my tears 

How I wish you were near

Please don’t go tender years”

Eddie & the Cruisers/John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band:  “Tender Years“.

Eddie & the Cruisers/John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band:  “On The Dark Side“.

Until next time, happy digging!!!

So long, February!!!

Hello, Vixens!!!  How crazy is it that we arrived at the end of February so quickly?  What did you take away from the second month of the year?

As much as I am settling into my new life here in CT, I am itching to get to some estate sales as I am beginning to have severe & painful withdrawal symptoms.  I cannot wait to go into an old Victorian and dig, dig, DIG!!!

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Source:  Historicbuildingsct.com

While I bide my time, I am enjoying other activities like my book club meetings.  Last month’s selection was a fabulous read (“Everything I Never Told You“*** by Celeste Ng).  This month we are reading “My Brilliant Friend” by Elena Ferrante.  Have any of you read this one yet?

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I am thinking of joining a second club through the library.  They read old books by classic authors.  This month’s selection is William Faulkner’s “Light In August”.  I am really looking forward to it because I still remember how mesmerized I was the first time I read “A Rose For Emily”.   Wow.

I reluctantly started watching “Grey’s Anatomy” again, which I swore I would not do after Shonda Rhimes killed off Patrick Dempsey’s Derek McDreamy character.  But the music on that show has always been top notch & mostly from new or lesser known artists, and I love hearing new talent.  A recent song I have fallen head over heals in love with is “Touch” by Sleeping At Last.  Just gorgeous. Whatever type of music you enjoy, I dare you not to adore this song!!!  Can you believe that “Grey’s” has been on the air since 2005!!!  Where have the last 11 years gone?  But I will always love the first three seasons with the original cast the best.  And I still miss the hottest patient ever, Denny Duquette. He almost made me enroll in medical school!!!  Sa-woon!!!

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Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Original source unknown)

As much as I love TV, I have been stuck in a happy rut of old shows (“Everybody Loves Raymond***”, “The Facts of Life***”, “Reba***, “Roseanne***” and of course my “Golden Girls***”.  But another one of the few prime time shows I watch is “Modern Family” which I am happy to report is still as funny as ever in its seventh season.  It was so great to see new episodes after the holiday hiatus.

Did you hear there is a new biopic about Hank Williams coming out this month?  “I Saw The Light” opens March 25. I am so there.  I love bios on the legends of music, whether past or present.

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Let’s review what else happened in February:  Leonardo DiCaprio finally won a Best Actor Oscar (for “The Revenant“), Ed Sheeran finally won a Grammy Award & it was a big one (Song of the Year for “Thinking Out Loud“), I turned another year older and I am still wondering if there will be a sequel to “The Blind Side” since Michel Oher’s team, the Carolina Panthers, lost this year’s big game to Peyton Manning & the Denver Broncos.  But I think it is worth a second movie given Oher has now been to the Superbowl twice, winning a ring in 2013 with his first pro team, the Baltimore Ravens.  That in and of itself makes for a great plot, right?.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 15: Recording artist Ed Sheeran, winner of Best Pop Solo Performance for 'Thinking Out Loud', accepts award onstage during the GRAMMY Pre-Telecast at The 58th GRAMMY Awards at Microsoft Theater on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage)

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage)

A new movie could also explore the family’s rise to fame due to the success of the movie, how they felt seeing their lives played out on the big screen, meeting the actors who portrayed them and the experience of attending the Academy Awards in 2010.  Plus I would love to see Tim McGraw on the big screen again.  Swoon.  Who is with me 🙂  ???

So what made the second month of the year memorable for you?

Please note that I do not own the rights to anything, but the starred links*** are my affiliate links. I only share what I love and am grateful for the support 🙂   .

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

 

 

Weekend Wanderings & Happy Birthday, Betty White!!!

Hello, Vixens!!!  How are all of you doing?  Hope all is well.  How is it even possible that we are halfway through the first month of the year already???

I went to an estate sale on Saturday, but nothing really caught my eye or made my heart leap from joy.  So after I left there, I went exploring.  I ended up on a block named Lakeside for obvious reasons:  a lake is behind the houses on the block.

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Even driving to the estate sale the view was just so pretty.  I love to see water in the winter, especially when the sun is shining on it.  I see it as a reminder that some things are constant no matter what time of year it is.  I like that.

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You know how wood slice anythings are all the rage right now?  Well, take a look at this adorable little guy (or girl?) I came across.  Just too cute!!!

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Not far from the wood person, I saw a pretty little bird perched in a tree.  I guess he or she did not fly south for the winter.

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Please forgive the quality of the pictures, except the one of the bird.  They are all from my iPhone as my SLR camera is just refusing to work.  I am taking it in for an evaluation this week.  Fingers crossed that it is not completely dead.  I really do not need the expense of a new camera at the moment.

Sunday I spent trying to unpack since last month I got zero of that accomplished.  I previously mentioned that I had to move again at the end of last year.  Unbeknownst to me, the landlord of my last apartment had been trying to sell the place for over a year before he decided to rent it out.  Not long after I moved in, he received an offer and thanks to a legal glitch I knew nothing about, he was able to break our lease.  So I spent the month of November looking for a new place and moved on December 1st.

Because it all happened so fast, I completely forgot to take a picture of my new apartment before I moved in (sorry).  But I downsized from a roughly 750 square foot one bedroom place to a 400 square foot studio.  The one thing I learned from both living in my house and my last apartment is that I spend all my time in one room-my bedroom.  My TV is in there, and so is my laptop, my desk, etc.  So I sit at the desk to eat & watch TV, or lie in bed to use my laptop, read magazines or go through my mail.  And when I need to recharge my batteries, I curl up under the covers to read an old book or watch reruns of “The Golden Girls”.  On that note, happy 94th birthday to the sweetest, greatest friend any of us has ever had, Betty White!!!

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Source:  articlebio.com

So this time around when I went out to look for a new place to live, I realized I could save at least $200 per month if I rented a smaller place, not to mention my heating & cooling bills would be less, too.  Not too shabby.  Just think of all the vintage treasures I could buy with the money I save!!!  Even for a studio, my new place has a full kitchen (dishwasher included), a full bath, its own water heater and two big closets.  Here is how one of them looks right now:

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I know…..not pretty.  I am working on it.

So that was my weekend, Vixens.  How was yours?

Until next time, happy digging!!!

 

It Was 30 Years Ago Today

Picture it:  NBC, 8pm, 30 years ago.  We heard that now famous theme song, “Thank You For Being A Friend” for the first time when the pilot episode of “The Golden Girls” premiered on September 14, 1985.  History and legends-not to mention a strong craving for cheesecake-was born.

How do I love these women?  I cannot even count the ways.  Three decades later, they remain my surrogate mothers/grandmothers.  As the saying goes, nearly everything I needed to know about life I learned from the Golden Girls.

The Golden Girls                                                                                          Photo courtesy of NBC.

They taught us all that life didn’t end at age 50 or older, or when your husband died and your kids left home.  That you stayed active, tried new things (remember Rose’s self-esteem class “You’re Special”, or performing in community theater, or when she took classes to learn Spanish, or when she finished high school in night class with Dorothy as the teacher), you always volunteered, you embraced gay rights (true, Blanche had a hard time when her brother came out, but it was when he was 45 years old & divorced, so it was understandable that she was a little thrown.  But she eventually accepted it) and you always practiced safe sex.

A few years ago, the Jelly Belly Candy Company launched a contest to the public to pick a new jelly bean flavor.  My suggestion?  Golden Girls Cheesecake, of course.  It did not win.  😦

The kitchen table or the couch from the set should be in the Smithsonian.  It is as important to television history as Archie’s chair or Fonzie’s jacket.  If it wasn’t, would Lego be “toying” with the idea of a Golden Girls set?  (Sorry, I had to!!!)

We must give props to Susan Harris, the creator of this iconic show.  Not to mention all the producers, writers, directors, guest stars (hello, George Clooney!) and everyone else who had a hand in the magic.  And can you picture someone else in the role of Dorothy?  Well, Elaine Stich was contacted first to audition for that part.  Picture that.

Recently one of my cousins, who is as insane about the Golden Girls as I am, sent me the following picture of a bumper sticker she spotted on someone’s car:

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If that is not a solid way of life, I do not know what is!!!

Their friendship was phenomenal.  It turned them into family which led them to fight over men (Sophia & Blanche over Fidel), dresses (Dorothy & Blanche, then Blanche & Sophia) sisters (Dorothy & Blanche telling Rose her sister was nice when all the while she was backstabbing Rose), kids (Dorothy & Rose when their children slept together after Blanche sent them on a date) and food (Rose’s chipped beef vs. Sophia’s marinara sauce).

I also loved how they reeled each other in when they each ran off the rails with comebacks delivered to perfection that have become classic comedy moments.

Dorothy to Blanche:  “Pull yourself together.  You’re in a psychiatrist’s office!”

Sophia:  “My heiny’s asleep.”  Dorothy:  “Fine.  We’ll keep our voices down.”

Sophia, in response to Dorothy’s threat to beat her mother at cards:  “Ooooh,  I’m so scared my dentures are chattering!”

Blanche’s date:  “Can you believe they gave us the same table?”  Blanche:  “Well why would they seat us separately?”

Rose via Dorothy to Blanche:  “You’ve been under more drunken sailors than a nautical toilet.”

Dorothy:  “I never heard of anyone named Mammy before.”  Rose:  “What about Mrs. Eisenhower?”  Dorothy:  “Mammy Eisenhower?  I think only the Nixon kids got to call her that.”

Blanche to her daughter Becky, who was in labor & wanted to stop pushing and hold the baby in:  “No, it’s a bad look.  Now you know I’ve never been real strict with you, Becky, but you have to.”

Blanche to her gentlemen caller in the wheelchair, who turned out to be married:  “I thought you were noble.  It never occurred to me you could be a jerk in a wheelchair!”

It was fitting Dorothy was a teacher because she mastered the art of tough love.

To Rose, who was scared to be intimate with her new boyfriend:  “If you take a chance in life sometimes good things happen, sometimes bad things happen.  But if you don’t take a chance nothing happens.”

Her advice to Blanche about giving her grandson chores:  “You do what is best for David, not what is easiest for you.”

Dorothy to Blanche’s grandson who wants to leave because he has “all this crappy stuff to do,”

“Life is full of crappy stuff to do.  It’s everywhere so you better get used to it.  The President has crappy stuff to do.”   I learned a lot about life from my grandmother, but Dorothy’s words in this scene are probably the greatest definition of what life is all about in the history of ever, in my very humble opinion.

And when things get really bad for me, I take solace in the fact that I am not in Blanche’s shoes (“I lost Anderbo and her beau!”)  🙂

This was excruciatingly hard, but I narrowed down my top 10 shows from seven seasons and 180 episodes.

  1.  Room 7 (Season 7).  Why?  “I see London, I see France, I see Blanche’s underpants.”  And Sophia jumping off the roof.
  2. Mary Had A Little Lamb (Season 5).  Why?  I desperately wanted to be Mary-not pregnant-but taken in by those wonderful women when my life was falling apart.  In the unedited version of the episode, we learn Mary spent the nights with the GG’s after visiting her dying mother in the hospital.  What a haven that girl found.
  3. Beauty & The Beast (Season 7).  Why?  One line:  “What the hell goes on at night in this house?”  Runner up:  “I remember spending that quality wharf time with my Grandma.”
  4. Isn’t It Romantic (Season 2).  Why?  Blanche’s irate reaction upon learning that Dorothy’s lesbian friend Jean prefers Rose over Blanche.  Simply priceless.
  5. Goodbye, Mr. Gordon (Season 7).  Why?  Rose tells her co-workers and all of Miami on her morning TV show that Dorothy & Blanche are lesbians.  And Sophia asking mean questions from the audience to rub salt in the wound.
  6. Dorothy’s New Friend (Season 3).  Why?  Blanche & Rose resorting to childhood antics like giving Dorothy the silent treatment when they are jealous of her relationship with a snooty author.
  7. To Catch A Neighbor (Season 2).  Why?  George Clooney.  And Rose upset that they would miss watching the movie “In Cold Blood”, inciting Dorothy to hit Rose over the head with a TV Guide.
  8. Old Boyfriends (Season 7).  Why?  One, when Sophia refers to Dorothy as her lesbian lover.  Two, when Sophia refers to herself as an unsuspecting cutie being lured into a web of sex games.  Fantastic!!!
  9. Grab That Dough (Season 3).  Why?  Blanche’s description of herself (“An artist with an incredible body, runs her own museum, speaks Chinese…”) and Sophia telling Dorothy she was the biggest disappointment since the AMC Pacer.
  10. End Of The Curse (Season 2).  Why?  Rose:  “We had a pig on the farm who got pregnant, and we never knew who the father was.”  Dorothy:  “Oh my God, Rose, what did you do on Father’s Day?”  Plus the visit to the psychiatrist’s office.

As a Springsteen fan, the references to him were an added bonus and showed just how cool and current these ladies really were.  In “The Truth Will Out” (Season 1), Rose’s granddaughter, Charlie, is telling her grandmother about her boyfriend, who reminds her of Rose’s late husband.

Rose:  “Does he look like Grandpa?”  Charlie:  “No, he looks like Bruce Springsteen!”

In The Competition episode (Season 1), Dorothy said no to Sophia’s request for money to buy airline tickets.

Sophia:  “I can’t believe you’re denying your own mother!”  Rose:  “Denying her what?”  Dorothy:  “Springsteen tickets.”

The only episode I cannot watch over and over again is the final one.  Despite the fact that these women live on in repeats several times a day (thank you Hallmark, Logo and TV Land), it is still too painful for me to accept the fact that their story ended, even if it was in a wonderful way like Dorothy finally finding happiness in love.  The end of the Golden Girls was like leaving the gang in Oz all over again.  Sigh 😦

Four years ago, I was lucky & blessed to see Betty White in person at a book signing.  I had the chance to tell her that being introduced to her was like meeting one of the Beatles, and that she and the three other Golden Girls were my surrogate mothers.  She patted my hand and gave it a squeeze.  Life does not get much better than that…..unless I am watching an episode of the Golden Girls.

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COPYRIGHT 2011 BY Michele Antonio

Thank you, Ladies, for being so much more than my friends all these years.  You are beloved!!!

Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #1

The #1 song on the countdown was called “the greatest love song of the past 50 years” when it was released in 1969 by none other than Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra.  It also has the distinct honor of being the most covered Beatles song second only to “Yesterday”.  The top song on my list is…drum roll please…”Something” by the Beatles.

Inspired by James Taylor’s 1968 song “Something In The Way She Moves” and written by George Harrison for his first wife, Pattie Boyd, the song was the masterpiece of his career as a Beatle.  It was released on the album “Abbey Road” and issued with “Come Together” as a double single which hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1969.

That was the Beatles 18th chart topper, putting them one song ahead of Elvis Presley’s previous record of 17.  A video of the Beatles and their wives set to the song was also released that year to promote it and the album amid rumors that a break up of the Fab Four was imminent.

Harrison’s lyrics expressed  both his love for his wife while acknowledging the uncertainty that is the future:

Something in the way she moves
Attracts me like no other lover
Something in the way she woos me

You’re asking me will my love grow
I don’t know, I don’t know
You stick around now it may show
I don’t know, I don’t know

Legends including Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley, James Brown, Elton John & Willie Nelson have covered “Something” either on record or live in concert.  Sadly Harrison’s marriage to Boyd did not grow, as she eventually left him for his best friend, Eric Clapton.  But that’s another song (“Layla” to be exact).

After the Beatles broke up, Harrison went on to have a successful solo career and hosted one of the first benefit concerts ever-1971’s Concert for Bangladesh.

The Beatles were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1988 by Mick Jagger and Harrison was inducted as a solo artist in 2004 by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, who were members of Harrison’s other band-the Traveling Wilburys .

As if the attacks of 9/11/01 were not devastating enough to the world that year, two months after those tragedies we lost George Harrison to cancer, which left only two of the four Beatles around to carry on the legacy of one of the greatest bands of all time.  Sigh 😦

There you have it, Vixens-my picks for the top 14 love songs.  Hope I included some of your favorites or helped you discover some new ones.

***BONUS:  One of my favorite songs is named “Valentine” and it is by E Street guitarist Nils Lofgren, with a little help from the Boss himself.

***BONUS TWO:  If you have never seen the Golden Girls episode entitled “Valentine’s Day“, take about 20 minutes out now to watch it.  I love all their episodes, but this one is in their top 10.

Enjoy!!!