APRIL LOVE OR APRIL FOOL?

April in Paris, by Rich Paschall


One April early in the 21st millennium, I actually was in Paris.  I thought it would be exciting, even a bit romantic.  I am not sure my travel companion saw it in the same light.  Although he had never been out of the country before, he did not seem overly excited about the trip, much to my chagrin.

At the time I was working for a freight company that had acquired a nice collection of gifts for Christmas.  Since they did not have something for everyone, they raffled off the gifts they had.  The top prizes were the airline tickets.  Of course I had hoped to win the Air France vouchers, but doubted it could be so with such a large group.  There were other nice prizes and I would have been happy with any of them.  When they called my name for the tickets, I thought it could not be true and it must have been for some other prize.  I was delighted to receive the top prize.

Paris-1

There were not really many blackout dates, but you were not allowed to cash the vouchers long in advance.  This allowed the summer flights to sell out before you had a chance to claim the date.  Being afraid we wouldn’t find a suitable date if we waited too long, we decided on late April. We hoped for small crowds and good weather.  We got one of the two.

Frommer’s Guide to Paris was an invaluable resource, not just for the hotel, but also for how to get around the city.  We also found the best ways to visit the main tourist sites.  With a little planning and a lot of luck, we were on our way.  We learned how to get from Charles De Gaulle airport to our hotel in the St. Germain neighborhood.  The location was ideal as the metro was nearby.

Our tiny room had a small balcony which looked out on the old Paris street.  The room had a tiny refrigerator which allowed us to stash a few items to save on all the expensive restaurant meals.  A small grocery store nearby was a welcome site for a few essentials.

The first night we made it in the rain to a small restaurant nearby.  I spoke no French at the time and the people at the restaurant spoke no English.  We were not certain what we ordered, but we started with French Onion soup which was nothing like the French Onion soup you get here.  The broth was clear and the onions were fresh.  It was great.  I do not recall what beef dish I had; I do recall it was quite good.

In the few days we were there we saw the Eiffel Tower and actually went to the top of it.  We also saw Notre Dame, St. Germain des Pres, Versailles, the Louvre, including the Mona Lisa, the Cathedral at Chartres and many wonderful local spots.  Despite the cold and damp weather most of the time, it was April in Paris!  What could be better?

In honor of this delightful little memory, I have our top 5 April songs.  I wanted to give you 10 songs as always, but I could not think of that many.

5. The April Fools, Burt Bacharach, Hal David.  The theme is from the movie of the same name.  In the film, Jack Lemmon meets the married Catherine Deneuve and decides to run off with her to Paris.  In this instrumental version, the pictures of Paris do not come up until 15 seconds in.  As Neil Patrick Harris might say, “Wait for it.”

4. April Love, Pat Boone.  This theme is from a movie that starred Pat Boone and Shirley Jones.  The song was nominated for an Academy Award and was a big hit for Boone.

3. April Showers, Al Jolson.  The old vaudevillian debuted this song in 1921 on Broadway. He recorded it a few times, including a recording for a film of his life story in 1946.  Here he plays in Soldier Field, Chicago in 1949. The aging Jolson still delivers!  He died the following year.

2. April Come She Will, Simon and Garfunkel. The song was recorded for the album Sounds of Silence in 1965 and released in 1966. Here it is performed in the historic Central Park concert.

1. April in Paris, Ella Fitzgerald. The Count Basie hit has been recorded by many. This early Ella Fitzgerald version helped to popularize the song.

WHAT’S THAT FLOWER YOU HAVE ON?

Prompt-fog-and-roses-006

Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on
Could it be a faded rose from days gone by?
And did I hear you say he was a-meeting you here today
To take you to his mansion in the sky?

She’s forty-one and her daddy still calls her, ‘baby’
All the folks around Brownsville say she’s crazy
‘Cause she walks down town with a suitcase in her hand
Looking for a mysterious dark-haired man

In her younger days they called her Delta Dawn
Prettiest woman you ever laid eyes on
Then a man of low degree stood by her side
And promised her he’d take her for his bride

Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on
Could it be a faded rose from days gone by?
And did I hear you say he was a-meeting you here today
To take you to his mansion in the sky?

Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on
Could it be a faded rose from days gone by?
And did I hear you say he was a-meeting you here today
To take you to his mansion in the sky?

Tanya Tucker – Delta Dawn Lyrics | MetroLyrics

I know I didn’t write it, but the moment I saw the pictures, I heard the song in my head. So … here it is.

THURSDAY PHOTO PROMPT – SUE VINCENT

IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR

She Wants More, More, More, by Rich Paschall

Perhaps that’s the Rebel Yell you hear in the midnight hour, when the music picks up and the time to dance is at hand.  I had been wondering what to suggest as my top Midnight songs but the Midnight Memories kicked in and It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.  I observed that Midnight’s Another Day and the Top 10 list was revealed.  While you may think of many Midnight songs in The Shadows, I will be your Midnight Cowboy and give you my Top 10.

10. I’m A Midnight Mover, Bobby Womack.  Whether you hear the Womack version or Wilson Pickett’s growl infused version, you will think they are channeling James Brown.  Both recorded the song and it is a rhythm and blues special either way you go.  They have co-writing credit for the hit.

9.  Walkin’ After Midnight, Patsy Cline.  The country classic was originally offered by the writers to pop singer Kay Starr, but her record label rejected it.  Reportedly, Cline was not immediately impressed with the song, but ended up with a mega hit in 1957.

8.  Midnight Blue, Melissa Manchester.  This was the first song on which Manchester collaborated with famed song writer Carole Bayer Sager. The 1973 composition was pitched to a producer for Dionne Warwick and later Manchester pitched it to Dusty Springfield who turned it down.  In 1975 it was the first single off Manchester’s first album for Arista records.

7.  Midnight Confessions, The Grass Roots.  The biggest hit for the band was released in 1968.  Recorded with a large group of studio musicians, reports are that the group did not actually play on the record but only did the vocals.  They did perform it live themselves.  I played in a band for a few years that performed this song regularly.

6.  Midnight Rider, The Allman Brothers.  The song first appeared on the Allman Brothers 1970 album, Idlewild South, and was released as a single in March, 1971 without much success.  Composer Gregg Allman released it as a solo effort in 1973 and broke the top 20.  Versions by other artists have also found some success.

5.  Midnight Rambler, The Rolling Stones.  Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the song was released in 1969.  Mick provided lead vocals, of course, and harmonica, while Keith Richards recorded all of the various guitars heard on the original recording.  The song continues to appear in Stones’ concert and was recently on the playlist for the historic performance in Havana.  Here they play for just a million and a half people in Rio, the largest concert ever held.

4.  Midnight at the Oasis, Maria Muldaur.  Released in February of 1974 the song is certainly the best known effort by Muldaur.  The soft rock hit with its sexy lyric was made even more popular by the tease in her unique voice.  I absolutely loved this song at the time, still do.

3.  Midnight Train to Georgia, Gladys Knight and the Pips.  The song was written and recorded by Jim Weatherly as Midnight Plane to Houston.  It was then passed on to Cissy Houston who recorded it as Midnight Train to Georgia.  Then Weatherly’s publisher passed it on to Gladys Knight and the Pips.  They won a performance Grammy with it.  Here the Pips are really workin’ it!

2.  Midnight Special, Johnny Rivers.  Creedence Clearwater Revival had a hit with the song, but it is hard for me to hear a CCR song and not think about the lead singer, John Fogerty.  Apparently there is no arena big enough for his ego.  The Johnny Rivers version was used as the intro to the Midnight Special television programs featuring musical performances.  In my time zone, the train came through right on time, and Wolfman Jack was the conductor.  This performance is from Hullabaloo.

1. After Midnight, J.J. Cale or Eric Clapton.  Cale wrote the song and recorded it in 1966.  When Clapton covered it in 1970, Cale did not know about it until it was a hit on the radio.  At the time, he was broke and grateful for the song’s success.  He subsequently included it in a 1972 album.  Since they both have great versions out there, the only fair thing to do is show them playing it together, Cale on vocals.

SPRING HAS SPRUNG

Let The Sunshine In, Rich Paschall

Now that Spring has officially arrived, we are thinking more of enjoying the sun.  You may have told someone that “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” or that you wanted to share the “Sunshine Of Your Love,” but you may be looking at this differently than we are.  Of course, “There Ain’t No Sunshine When You’re Gone,” but “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying.”

If it remains cloudy were you are, don’t believe “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore.” Just keep telling yourself, “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” and you will soon have your “Seasons In The Sun.”  Just be sure to stay away from the “House Of The Rising Sun” and you will be fine.

So let me be your “Sunshine Superman” and offer my top 10 Sunshine Songs to brighten up the beginning of Spring:

10. You Are My Sunshine, The Pine Ridge Boys.  This 1939 “standard” has been covered by so many artists it is hard to say where I heard it first.  Originally performed as a country song, it has received a lot of musical treatments.
9.  California Sun, The Rivieras.  The 1961 song by Joe Jones became a big hit when The Rivieras covered it in 1964.  The 1977 Ramones version also became a hit and showed up on various albums.
8.  Walking On Sunshine, Katrina and the Waves.  The 1985 hit was a consistent seller for the record company and pure gold for the artists who retained the publishing rights and songwriter royalties.
7.  Soak Up The Sun, Sheryl Crow. It’s her only number one hit and you can probably sing along with the chorus.  The 2002 release was written by Crow and Jeff Trott.
6.  I’ll Follow The Sun, The Beatles.  The Paul McCartney, John Lennon composition was written as early as 1960 but the Beatles hit was released in 1964 with lead vocals by McCartney.

5.  We’ll Sing In The Sunshine, Gale Garnett.  This happy pop tune was released in 1964 and won the Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Recording in 1965.  Yes, it was the era for Folk Rock.

4.  Good Day Sunshine, The Beatles  There was no plan to add multiple Beatles songs.  I made up a list and then gave them a ranking.  This 1966 Lennon, McCartney composition also has McCartney on lead vocals.  Paul played piano on the track and later overdubbed his bass part.  I could not find a Beatles performance, but Sir Paul can still bring it.

3.  Let The Sun Shine In, The 5th Dimension.  The recording by the 60’s pop group is actually a medley of two songs from the musical, Hair.  It was at the top of the charts for 6 weeks in 1969.  Opening with “Aquarius,” the sound was sometimes called “Psychedelic Pop.”

2.  Sunshine On My Shoulders, John Denver.  Co-written and recorded by Denver for his 1971 album Poems, Prayers & Promises, it was released as a single in 1973.  By early 1974 it reached number 1.  When the album came out, I recall singing this song over and over with a friend.  I think our performance may have been fueled by adult beverages.  It will always hold great memories from a youth well spent.

1. Here Comes The Sun, The Beatles  This time it is a George Harrison composition that brings The Beatles back to the list.  Recorded in 1969 for the Abbey Road album, it was never released as a single.  Nevertheless, the track received critical acclaim and has been played and downloaded often.

1969 – MY FAVORITE YEAR

This seemed like a good time to rerun this. My reblog function is still broken, so it’s copy and paste until I get it fixed!


1969 was the year I learned to fly. The world spun faster on its axis. Everything changed.

Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in July 1969. I watched it unfold. I was a new mommy with a 2 months old baby boy. Home with the baby and not working or in school, I had time to see it happen.

English: Neil Armstrong descending the ladder ...

I saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. Imagine, a real live man on the moon!

We viewed it on CBS. It was obvious Walter Cronkite wanted to be up there too. Up there, with Neil and the rest of Apollo 11. He could barely control his excitement, almost in tears, his voice breaking with emotion.

The great Arthur C. Clarke was his guest for that historic broadcast. Neil Armstrong died last year. He had a good life. Unlike so many others who fell from grace, he remained an honorable man: a real American hero.

The view from the Apollo 11 (NASA)

The view from the Apollo 11 (NASA)

How I envied him his trip to the moon. I always tell my husband that no man will ever take me away from him, but if the Mother Ship comes and offers me a trip to the stars, sorry bub, I’m outta here. I’m getting a bit long in the tooth, but if they could do it on Cocoon, maybe there’s time for me, too. Maybe Garry can come with me.

Woodstock was just a month away and there were rumors flying about this amazing rock concert that was going to happen upstate. I had friends who had tickets and were going. I was busy with the baby and wished them well.

There were hippies giving out flowers in the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco. But I didn’t envy them because I was happy that year, probably happier than I’d ever been and in some ways, happier than at anytime since.

I was young, still healthy. I believed we would change the world, end war, make the world a better place. I still thought the world could be changed. All we had to do was love one another and join together to make it happen. Vietnam was in high gear, but we believed it was going to end any day … and though we soon found out how terribly wrong we were, for a little bit of time, we saw the future brightly and full of hope.

I had a baby boy and I sang “Everything’s Fine Right Now” which I first hear sung by the Holy Modal Rounders at a local folk music club. They had been the stonedest group of people I’d ever met, but the song was a great lullaby and made my baby boy laugh. 

It was the year of the Miracle Mets. I watched as they took New York all the way to the top. A World Series win. 1969. What a year. I rocked my son to sleep and discovered Oktoberfest beer. New York went crazy for the Mets. It should have been the Dodgers, but they’d abandoned us for the west coast.

I wore patchwork bell-bottom jeans and rose-tinted spectacles. I had long fringes on my sleeves and a baby on my hip.

Music was wonderful. How young we were! How sure we could do anything, everything.

We were going to end war … end THE war … right every wrong. As we found the peak, we would almost immediately drop back into a darker valley. But for a year, a happy year, the stars aligned and everything was good.

Decades passed; youth was a long time ago. The drugs we take control our blood pressure, not our state of consciousness. They aren’t any fun at all.

I worry about Social Security and Medicare and I know I’m not going to fix what’s wrong with the world. I’ve lived a lifetime. My granddaughter is barely younger than I was then.

I’ve remarried, lived in another country, owned houses, moved from the city to the country, and partied with a President … but 1969 remains my year.

HEY BABY, THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG

Which Ones Hold Your Memories? by Rich Paschall

A lot of people have a song or two that are special to them.  It might be their prom theme song or other high school or college dance song.  It might be their first dance from their wedding.  It just might be the song that was playing when they met or when they first realized they were in love.

The special song could be one remembered from a rock concert or play.  It maybe the one that was on the radio when you were off on a road trip.  You know the one!  Everyone sang along at the top of their voices.  When you meet now and hear that song, everyone sings it again, just like 20, 30, or even 40 years ago.

Here is my top ten list.  They all hold special memories and if I was to write this tomorrow, the order might change completely, except for number one.  That would stay the same.  First I have some honorable mentions from recent years.

I have seen Maroon 5 in concert a number of times in recent years, but I really like Sunday Morning for a memory it evokes.  I also love David Archuleta’s Touch My Hand for the thoughts it gives of being on stage but singing to just one person.  Hunter Hayes touches a chord with the recent Invisible.  I mentioned it previously here.  I will also add One Republic’s Apologize, as in “it’s too late to apologize.”

10.  Ferry Cross the Mersey, Gerry and the Pacemakers.  This 1965 hit seemed to play constantly on a road trip to Galena, Illinois.  You had to love top 40 radio in those days.

9.  Sister Golden Hair, America.  This 1975 number one hit was a favorite of Chicago radio personality Larry Lujack.

8.  Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? Chicago.  Recorded for the band’s first album, Chicago Transit Authority, 1969, it was released as a single the following year.

7.  Save The Last Dance For Me, The Drifters The 1960 hit came back around a number of times and by several artists.  If you saw the final episode of season one of Queer As Folk, no further explanation of its meaning to me would be necessary.

6.  Good Vibrations, The Beach Boys  I guess I could have picked several Beach Boys Songs for this spot, especially Heroes and Villains.  They recall a particular era for me.

5.  Color My World, Chicago.  Again off the “CTA” album.  It was a popular theme for dances, proms, weddings.  The late Terry Kath did lead vocals on the hit song.  These days original member and trumpet player Lee Loughnane sings it.  Here it is founding member Robert Lamm on vocals:

4.  Horse With No Name, America  It is a favorite of my closest friend and it became our road trip song.  This 1972 hit was written and sung by band member Dewey Bunnell.

3.  That’s Life, Frank Sinatra, 1966  A friend who ran karaoke often asked me to sing it.  If she had no one to start off her show, she would just announce that I would be starting and play this, even if I was not going to sing anything.  I ended up singing it a lot:

2.  Cherish, The Association.  A friend asked me to write a lyric for his sister’s wedding song.  Someone else asked me after the wedding how I thought to rhyme cherish with perish (as in, “their love will never perish”).  Listen and discover:

1. Beginnings, Chicago  I saw them in concert at DePaul University when the first album was hot and the hits were being released one after another.  This was the theme of many dances and certainly many weddings and proms.  I can not adequately explain the memories that go with this song.  From my seat on Chicago’s lakefront:

Add your favorites in the comments below.  Maybe we will sing along with you.

SLOW DOWN, YOU MOVE TOO FAST …

The 59th Street Bridge Song – Simon and Garfunkel …

“If you could slow down an action that usually zooms by, or speed up an event that normally drags on, which would you choose, and why? … “

I would slow down everything to make all the moments last and grab every possible moment of joy before it is gone …”

Blast from the past, but it’s the right song for this moment in time and maybe lots of moments in time. One of my all time favorites.