MY REAL MOTHER – Marilyn Armstrong

My mother was not a regular kind of mom. This confused me a lot while I was growing up. Other mothers made cookies, kissed boo-boos. Hung out with the other mothers in summertime. Swapped recipes. Watched soap operas.

My mother didn’t bake anything, much less cookies. She was a terrible cook because she hated it. She was an unenthusiastic housekeeper and the whole “huggy kissy” mothering thing eluded her. She didn’t watch soap operas, loved the Marx Brothers and MGM musicals. She never graduated high school. She read voraciously and constantly. Especially about science and space. She was fascinated by quarks, black holes, and antimatter.

She never kissed a boo-boo; I don’t remember her kissing me at all. She wasn’t that kind of mom.

Mom-May1944

She had no interest in gossip, recipes, or cute stories about anyone’s kids. She wanted to talk about politics or the space program and which nations were so hopeless they needed a complete redo, from scorched earth up (she had a list). I think if she were still alive, she’d probably add the U.S. to her list.

She enjoyed talking to me — I’m not sure if she talked to anyone else — about being a young woman when FDR became president. How, when the NRA (National Recovery Act) was passed, there was a spontaneous parade in New York that lasted 24 hours. Ticker tape and all.

1963

How the government had surplus crops during the worst years of the depression, and government agents took the extra food, dumped it in vacant lots, then put poison on it so no one could eat it. Even though people were starving. I thought she was just paranoid, but I have since learned that it happened, just the way she said it did.

She didn’t trust government, was sure they were spying on us. Positive that  J. Edgar Hoover was out to get us and he had a long list — and we were on it. Turned out, she was on target about most of it.

Mom1973-3She was in favor of equal rights for everyone, everywhere. Pro-abortion, in favor of birth control, gay marriage, putting wheat germ in everything (yech,) and holistic medicine before anyone knew what that meant. She wanted all religion out of the schools and government.

She was in favor of the death penalty. She felt there were people who should be taken out and shot. No long terms in prison (too expensive). No years of appeals. One well-placed bullet in the brain and justice would be served.

That was my mom.

She gave me Knut Hamsen to read and a grand piano for my 14th birthday. As well as appropriately anatomical books about sex (she figured I needed accurate information so I could make informed decisions).

She hummed most of the time, sang the rest of the time. She got the words wrong all the time. She read me poetry when I was very small and treated me like an adult. She was a grimly determined atheist and would debunk any hint of religious belief should I be foolish enough to express it. I always felt she had a personal spite on God for failing her and the people she loved.

My mother and her sisters. 1953. Queens, New York.

She was the most cynical person I’ve ever known and it seems I am following in her footsteps.

So here I am. Almost as old as my mother was when she left this earth. I think my mother would like this version of me. I think she always liked me, probably more than I liked myself.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, daughters of mothers, and mothers of mothers. Let’s celebrate being women and being alive. It’s not such a small thing.

ONE WONDERFUL MOMENT

1968 Edition, by Rich Paschall

Many musicians toil away at their craft hoping to break through the mass of musical acts and reach success with a hit recording.  Following endless rehearsals and low paying jobs, some of the best, or most interesting, will land recording contracts.  These artists wait eagerly for the day when one of their songs will be heard on the radio and climb the pop charts.  In 1968 there was no shortage of new acts to reach the Top 100.

Success may mean interviews and television appearances.  In an era with many television variety shows and, of course, American Bandstand, a chance to show off in front of millions could be at hand.  After finally having made it, performers looked for the next hit.  For many it would not be.  They would go down in music history as “one hit wonders.”

Just one hit song

Some golden songs will be 50 this year but will anyone come to the party?  As a one time triumph, the tunes may have faded from memory.  Some of you may still have the vinyl recordings on hand and listen to these songs with great fondness, despite the pop and hiss on your old record player (Millennials should go look up “record player” before reading on).  Others of you may have forgotten these completely.

In order to bring back some memories, I will give you my top 10 “one hit wonders” of 1968.  I promise you all of these really did hit high on the pop music charts and they are songs I still like.

Some of these songs sing out “Give Me One More Chance,” so come over because it “Ain’t Nothin’ But A House Party.”   You will find us “At The Top Of The Stairs” where “Sally Had A Party” with the “San Francisco Girls. ”  You might discover the “Smell of Incense” at our “Soul Meeting,” “Thank U Very Much.”  Don’t worry, “I Got A Sure Thing.”

10. Fire, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.  This song charted in many countries and sold over a million copies.  If you see the video, you will think Arthur is indeed in a Crazy World.

9.  In A Gadda Da Vida, Iron Butterfly.  The album version of this psychedelic hit played over 17 minutes.   The song was edited down to 2:53 for the single.  By the way, the song was supposed to be “In The Garden Of Eden,” but the drummer could not understand it when the singer first played it for him (he was drunk, apparently), wrote down the wrong thing and the title stuck.  It’s just another strange rock legend.

8.  Green Tambourine, The Lemon Pipers.  The song was released in late 1967 and hit number 1 by February 1968.  Status Quo, also on this list, covered the song on their 1968 album. It was not their one hit wonder.

7.  MacArthur Park, Richard Harris. The Irish actor and singer had his one big hit with this Jimmy Webb song.  The tune was written with the group The Association in mind.  They did not do it, but there were many covers, including a disco hit by Donna Summer.

6.  Nobody But Me, The Human Beinz. This was a cover of the 1963 Isley Brothers tune which failed to hit the charts.  Released late in 1967, the song made number 8 for The Human Beinz in 1968.

5.  Pictures of Matchstick Men, Status Quo.  This psychedelic rock tune was the only song by the group to chart in the US.  The group did have some later success in the UK.

4.  Classical Gas, Mason Williams.  The instrumental piece was composed and performed by Williams.  Fun Fact: Williams was the head writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and premiered the piece on their program.

3.  Angel of the Morning, Merrilee Rush and the Turnabouts.   A number of artists found success with this composition.  Rush received a Grammy nomination.

2.  Soulful Strut, Young-Holt Unlimited.  It’s another instrumental piece for our list.  The jazz musicians Isaac Holt and Eldee Young from Chicago had no further success with their trio and gave up by 1974, although they still played around town.

1.  Grazing in the Grass, Hugh Masekela.  It is another jazz instrumental. This time South African trumpeter Masekela takes the lead.  The Friends of Distinction would add words and have a hit with the song the following year.

Click on the title of any song to go to the video, or hit up the entire playlist here.

Are we missing any goods ones?  Check Billboard or wikipedia for one hit wonders of 1968.
Sources include: 1968 One Hit Wonders & Artists Known For One Song, hotpopsongs.com

See also: “Those Were The Days, My Friend,” The Golden Age of Rock Turns 50.

A MOTHER’S WALTZ: MUSIC & PICTURES – Leslie Martel & Marilyn Armstrong

Mother’s Day – Sunday, May 13, 2018


FROM swo8 (Leslie Martel): Today is Mother’s Day. To commemorate this day, we have created a photographic montage of families together. It includes eight generations of my family and three of Marilyn and Garry Armstrong’s families.

The song is bittersweet because to be a mother, is indeed bittersweet. Our children bring us our greatest joys and our greatest sorrows. The first couple in the video are my great-grandparents. My great-grandmother died in childbirth leaving 3 babies and a husband.

When my great-grandfather remarried the children were sent off to their aunt to be raised. The aunt is the lady sitting by the fire-place. The first photo of children is of my grandmother and her twin sisters. My grandmother being the oldest would have missed her mother the most. In spite of her early losses she became an extraordinary person and had a huge influence on me and my thinking.

To be a mother has got to be one of the most difficult endeavours to under take in one’s life. We are given this helpless creature for a short period of time to nourish, educate and inspire before they disappear into the ether of adulthood.

As a tribute to mother’s everywhere we dedicate this song, “Mother’s Waltz” by swo8 Blues Jazz and Marilyn Armstrong. 


FROM Serendipity (Marilyn & Garry Armstrong): It has arrived. The melody of A Mother’s Waltz echoes in my mind. I feel as if it is something I remember hearing my mother sing a long time ago … but of course, it is brand new from swo8 Blues Jazz

The pictures of my family include my mother, me, much younger and my son as a toddler. Pictures of Garry’s family include his mother and father’s wedding, Garry’s dad back from WWII with little Garry on his knee. Garry’s mom as a young woman.

The pictures are family heirlooms that evoke strong and sometimes conflicted feelings.

Music by swo8 … with pictures from Leslie Martel (swo8) and Marilyn Armstrong. Memories in music for mothers everywhere.

 

WHICH WAY IN THE MONTH OF MAY – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge

Take a walk along the river. It’s a lovely day!
The steps lead all the way down to the ground alongside the river and under the bridge.

The weather has been really lovely for the past few days and I managed to get out of the house with a camera. Not for any kind of long shoot, but for a few minutes here and there.

Come on outside!
Just walk on down the drive!

Today I went to the dentist and when I got there, realized I’d forgotten to take my antibiotics. You have to take them to have your teeth done if you have an artificial heart valve — and I have two of them.

My path into the woods. I built it years ago and it has grown over, but you can see the path.
A walk in the park on a lovely day!

But we were parked next to the dam and the trees were blooming. And, as it happened, I had a camera.