UNITED WE STAND

The Brotherhood of Man, Rich Paschall

“And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” – as translated from the historic Greek in Mark 3:25

The idea of a house divided against itself has appeared frequently in literature over the centuries. In the Aesop (b. 620 BC) fable “The Four Oxen and the Lion” we learn that the four oxen are only safe against the lion if they stand together. When they argued and separated, of course, they were doomed to be caught by the lion, one at a time. From that point on, this obvious point often arises in stories, mottos, and songs.

In 1970, the British pop group The Brotherhood of Man was the first to release “United We Stand.” The song reached number 13 on the US charts but hung around long enough to be considered number 64 for the year. The message seems more important to us now than it did 50 years ago. For its golden anniversary have another listen, or perhaps you are hearing it for the first time.

And if the world around you falls apart my love
Then I’ll still be here
And if the going gets too hard along the way
Just you call I’ll hear
For united we stand. Divided we fall

“Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!”. – John Dickinson, July 7, 1768

See Also: “Golden Oldies, Part One,” My Top Twenty, 1970 Edition, SERENDIPITY, October 6, 2020.
Golden Oldies, Part II,” The Golden Age of Rock Turns 50, 1970, SERENDIPITY, October 4, 2020.
One Hit Wonders, 1970 Edition,” SERENDIPITY, September 13, 2020.

GETTING OLD IS GETTING OLD By RICH PASCHALL

GETTING OLD IS REALLY GETTING OLD, by Rich Paschall

When you think of all the things you want to be when you grow up, “old” probably is not on the list.  You may think about being a doctor or nurse.  You may consider lawyer or politician.  Fireman or police officer may be on your list.  In fact, in your elementary school days you may have changed your mind many times. It is OK to dream about the future and fantasize about what you should do some day.

If superhero is on your list, you may have to give that one up rather quickly, unless you are Robert Downey, Jr.  He is still playing Iron Man past the ripe old age of 50.  I guess that is a commentary on keeping yourself in good shape.  Of course, he is just play acting, like we do as kids, and he certainly has a stunt double.  Your own life does not come with a stunt double, sorry.

If we give it any thought at all while we are young, of course we want to live a long life.  Therefore, we do want to get old.  If accident or disease does not rob us of life too soon, then we will indeed get old.  It is all the things that go with it that I am not too pleased about.

Contemplating the years
Contemplating the years as the sun sets.

I did notice the changes in my grandparents as they got older.  I am certain that I threaded needles for both my grandmothers at some point in time.  I knew they could not see as well as when they were younger, but I never thought about that being me some day.  Yes, I can still thread a needle, but I probably have to hold it at just the right distance in order to do so.  In fact, I really need trifocals, but I have settled for two pair of bifocals instead.  The bottom part is the same on each, but one pair is strictly for the computer.  The top part of the glasses are set to optimize the view from where the monitor should be, a little more than arm’s distance away.

This is not fooling anyone, of course, not even myself.  People can see I switch glasses in order to see.  I should have gotten the same style glasses so it would be less obvious.  When I am on Skype, and can see myself back on the screen, I really do not like the look but I am stuck with them for a while.  At least glasses have gotten better and these are not as thick or heavy as ones I wore years ago.

72-LensCrafters-Auburn-Mall_22

As my grandfather got older, I noticed he sometimes used a cane to help him get up, or walk around.  When he was in his 80’s, he never left the house without the cane.  He just might have too much trouble walking while he was away. Sometimes when I walk past a window or mirror, I think for just a moment the reflection I see is my father or grandfather.  My stepmother once said that I should take it as a complIment that people see me as my father, since he was so handsome, but I began to think they saw me as they saw him later in life.  That is, old.

When you see pictures of me, you generally will not see the cane.  I set it down for the shot.  Years ago my doctor sent me to a sports medicine guy for a foot problem of still undetermined origin.  Maybe I was playing sports in the park long after a time when I should have moved on.  Maybe I suffered some trauma that came back to get me.  Maybe it was related to some disease I contracted.  In any case, I had it operated on, which did not help.  Years later I had another operation.  That did not help either.  I had many procedures in between.  Was it just an issue of getting older?  We will never know for sure.

I have heard it said that the aches and pains we feel as we get older are not a natural part of life and we should not just accept them.  Perhaps some accept them when they could feel better, but I have never accepted them.  I have spent a good deal of time getting to know my doctor and all that goes on in his business.  Yes, I might as well interview him a little, he interviews me a lot.  Together we have looked for solutions to my various problems.

The Gabapentin for the foot nerve pain does not seem to eliminate the problem, even if it lessens it.  The Lidocaine patch may numb the pain, but I cut the patch down because a completely numb foot is not a good thing for walking and creates a dull pain, which actually is not much better than a sharp pain.

My doctor does not like my diet or my cholesterol.  He seems to cast a skeptical eye at my insistence that I watch the cholesterol rating on the food I buy.  That does not include restaurant food, however.  Or what John cooks for dinner.  Statins did not work.  They created muscle and joint pain I could not stand.  The non-statin anti-cholesterol pills are not as effective, but hold less side effects, apparently.  Other problems and medications have come and gone. Parts wear out, you know.

Recently a high school classmate of mine wrote to say he had finally gotten in to a senior center he had applied for a while ago.  He had a variety of health issues in recent years and needed to get into such a community.  I wrote back that I could not imagine that any of us would be talking Senior Center, because it seemed like just a few years ago we were in high school together.

With any luck at all, old age will catch you some day.  You will probably feel it coming.

Related: Share If You Are Old Enough To Remember (humor)
To Not Grow Old Gracefully (Sunday Night Blog)

A TALE OF THREE BONDS – Rich Paschall

The new James Bond movie, No Time To Die, went into development in 2016. The often delayed project was set for release in April of this year but has been pushed back twice due to COVID-19. Under present circumstances, there can be no grand theater premiere or expectations of large box office success. The new release date is April 2021. Meanwhile, we look back at the very beginning of James Bond.

Casino Royale, By Rich Paschall


When Eon Productions, maker of all those James Bond movies, finally made a film based on the very first Ian Fleming novel, fans of the super spy may have wondered what took them so long. The novel, published in 1953, introduced us to the Cold War spy with a “License to Kill”, but why no movie? In the book as in the films (plural, follow along), Bond’s mission is to bankrupt the evil Le Chiffre of the Russian secret service by beating him at cards at the Casino Royale.

Original hard copy with dust jacket

Le Chiffre is desperate for the money but confident he will win. His own life will be at risk if he loses.

The book was a hit in the UK, but sales in the US were slow and this set into motion events that would keep a serious adaptation of the novel away from the big screen for over 50 years. In an effort to popularize his hero in America, Fleming sold the television rights for the novel to CBS to adapt to a live drama for the series Climax!

The program aired October 21, 1954, and probably would have been lost forever, if not for the eventual popularity of the novels and movies.

Casino Royale 1954
Casino Royale 1954

The television production starred Barry Nelson as James Bond, an American agent. Sometimes he is referred to as “Jimmy” which ought to make long-time Bond fans cringe. The American agent in the novel is now a British agent named Clarence Leiter (rather than Felix). For the live drama, parts are condensed or eliminated and the focus is on the card game. Since the game is baccarat, not poker as in the latest movie, a little time is spent explaining it for the American audience.

Le Chiffre is played by Peter Lorre, a veteran of the big screen, with just the right amount of evil. A film star of the 1940s and ’50s, Linda Christian, gets the honor of being the first “Bond girl.” You are left to wonder, at least at the outset, whose side she is really on. I guess for an early black and white television drama, it is not too bad, if you can get past Jimmy Bond as an American spy.

In 1955 Fleming sold the movie rights to film director and producer Gregory Ratoff for a mere 6 thousand dollars. Perhaps it was big money then. Unfortunately, Ratoff died in 1960, never having developed the story for the movies. Next up was the producer, attorney, and talent agent Charles K. Feldman who represented Ratoff’s widow and ultimately obtained the rights. By now, the Bond series was off to a good start, so how could Feldman possibly compete? Failing to negotiate an agreement with Eon, he decided to do something that may have been typical of the mid to late 1960s. He produced a “madcap” comedy, a spoof of the spy series.

There just is not enough space here to explain what the producers and various directors did to this film. Although they assembled what was meant to be an “all-star” cast, you can not say they got a lot of great performances from this crew. Various writers created sections that were to be filmed by different directors and all would be edited together. This allowed them to work with many stars doing different scenes at different locations and studios at the same time. A movie monstrosity ensued.

John Huston, who also appears in the movie as M, directed one segment and left. Five other directors worked on the project, one uncredited. David Niven is “Sir James Bond” who must be convinced by Huston, Charles Boyer, William Holden, and Kurt Kazner to come out of retirement to deal with Le Chiffre. Bond takes on the role of head of the spy agency upon M’s departure and they recruit Peter Seller’s (Evelyn Tremble), a baccarat expert, to impersonate Bond and play Le Chiffre at the Casino. Le Chiffre is played by Orson Welles.

Explanations are pointless. See it — or not. The temperamental Sellers left the project for a rest before his part was finished. He was asked not to return. Welles hated the unprofessional Sellers and they barely spoke to each other. A gaggle of stars performed cameos.  When all was said and done, it was a confusing mess.

Val Guest, one of the directors, along with the film editor, got permission to film additional scenes with Niven and Ursula Andress (Vesper Lynd) — a hopeless attempt to add some continuity to the script and deal with the missing David Sellers’ performance. Watch for un-credited stars, especially at the end. There is no sensible explanation for the final scenes.

The critically-panned film did well at the box office, as many of the crazy comedies of the 1960s did. At least it provided a great musical score by Burt Bacharach, including the hit song The Look of Love. The film rights next passed to Colombia Pictures, the studio that had put out this disaster. They held onto them until 1989 when Colombia was acquired by Sony. A legal battle followed, and the rights were used as a bargaining chip with MGM/UA for MGM’s portion of the rights to Spiderman. Spiderman was traded for the original James Bond in 1999.

Casino Royale was not next as there was one more Pierce Brosnan movie to be made. When Brosnan declined a fifth film, the opportunity to “reboot” the spy series was at hand.

Daniel Craig is James Bond

Back to the beginning.  Our hero becomes “007,” and the silver screen welcomes Daniel Craig as “Bond, James Bond.”

GOLDEN OLDIES, PART ONE

My Top Twenty, 1970 Edition, by Rich Paschall

It was a year of firsts and lasts in Rock and Roll history. Black Sabbath put out their first album, which many now see as the beginning of heavy metal music. The Grateful Dead made their first British appearance at Hollywood Festival, Newcastle. Other notable groups were on the bill but an unknown group, Mungo Jerry, stole the show. Their hit “In The Summertime” made our list of “One Hit Wonders,” 1970 Edition.

Casey Kasem started counting down the hits as American Top 40 hit the airwaves in July. Ryan Seacrest now hosts the show. The Isle of Wight Festival drew approximately 600,000 people, the biggest concert up to that point in time. Derek and the Dominos released their only album, which included the hit “Layla.”

Diana Ross and the Supremes gave their final performance together. The Doors played their last performance together too. Janis Joplin made her last television appearance in August and died two months later. Jimi Hendrix gave his last performance on September 17 and died the following day. Both Joplin and Hendrix were 27.

The Beatles officially break up at the end of 1970

Simon and Garfunkel released their last album together, “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” The Beatles’ last album was “Let It Be.” Certain artists retired but unretired in the following years. There were groups that broke up, and some eventually got back together. Four thousand albums and 5700 singles were released in the US.

My shortlist was not too short, but my Top Twenty hits of 1970 have been selected and it is time for a golden anniversary party for these Golden Oldies. If you look at your watch (or your cell phone), you will see it is the hour for the “Travellin’ Band” to start the music. “Lola,” says “I’ll Be There,” and she longs to be “Close To You.” She will jump in a “Big Yellow Taxi” and “Ride, Captain, Ride.”  If “Raindrops Keep Fallin On My Head,” we will just have to ask “Who’ll Stop The Rain?” We are hoping for a Shocking Blue sky. “Maybe I Am Amazed” that all of you are on the way. Just come down the “Long And Winding Road” and take the Bridge Over Troubled Water.” I will be “Looking Out My Back Door” for you. “No Matter What” our playlist is just “Up Around The Bend.” “If You Could Read My Mind,” there would be no need to continue. But let’s not have a “Ball of Confusion.”

This long-distance dedication goes out to all the Boomers who say “Make Me Smile.” Now on with the countdown:

20. Cecilia, Simon & Garfunkel. The song either calls on St. Cecilia the patron saint of music, or is a lament about an unfaithful lover. You decide. That’s the fun part. It’s one of several hit singles off the “Bridge Over Troubled Water” album.
19. Lookin’ Out My Back Door, Creedence Clearwater Revival. Released on my birthday in 1970, it was a song I could actually play on my guitar. That was then. Lead singer and composer John Fogerty is still singing it.
18. Green Eyed Lady, Sugarloaf. It was the band’s first hit. There was the album version at 5:58 and the radio edit at 2:58. When the song started to become popular it was re-edited to 3:33 which is the version you are most likely to hear on the radio now.
17. Everything is Beautiful, Ray Stevens. “There is none so blind, As he who will not see. We must not close our minds. We must let our thoughts be free.” Stevens was well known for his comedy songs but picked up a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for this serious and somewhat spiritual tune.
16. I Just Can’t Help Believing, B. J. Thomas. Written by the songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, it was recorded by a number of artists before becoming a hit for Thomas. Elvis Presley recorded it later in the year and it appears on the album, “That’s The Way It Is,” and was released as a single in the U.K.

15. Fire and Rain, James Taylor. Written by Taylor, the song refers to various episodes in his life. Carole King is playing the piano on the recording. Later she wrote “You’ve Got A Friend” as a response to “I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend,” a line from the “Fire and Rain” lyric.

14. Woodstock, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Joni Mitchell wrote the song in 1969 and recorded it in 1970. It was on the B-side of her hit “Big Yellow Taxi.” She had not actually been at the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival of 1969 but based the lyrics on the experiences she heard about from Graham Nash. The CSN&Y version was a more up-tempo rock than the folk music version by Mitchell.

13. American Woman, The Guess Who. Recorded at the RCA Mid-America Recording Center in Chicago in August of 1969, it was released in 1970 and made it all the way to number one. The meaning of the lyrics, originally improvised live, has often been debated, even among the band members who wrote it.

12. Cracklin’ Rosie, Neil Diamond. This was the first American number 1 hit for the Canadian singer-songwriter. Some may have that that “a store-bought woman” was a lady of the night, but it actually referred to a bottle of wine.

11. Spill the Wine, Eric Burdon & War. Yes, it is more wine and you are admonished not to spill any. It was the first song to hit the charts for the group War. This was allegedly inspired by an accident of one of the musicians spilling wine on a mixing board.

I see you have been dancing a lot but you did not spill the wine. We can hardly see the time on the corner of your laptop, and we don’t know if it is 25 or 6 to 4. Since the hour is late, we will have to bring you the Top 10 next time. Until then you can listen to all of these songs on our 1970’s YouTube playlist here. You might want to bookmark that playlist because will be adding the rest of the songs throughout the week.

See also:This Magic Moment, The Golden Age of Rock Turns 50, 1969,” SERENDIPITY, February 1, 2019.
Those Were The Days, My Friend, The Golden Age of Rock Turns 50, 1968,” SERENDIPITY, April 29, 2018.

GOLDEN OLDIES, PART II

The Golden Age of Rock Turns 50, 1970, by Rich Paschall

The sweat on your brow tells us that you have been dancing to the oldies all week as you eagerly awaited our Top Ten picks from 1970 Rock and Roll. If you were here for “Golden Oldies, Part One,” then you read about the top events in rock music history. There were top political events as well.

Protests erupted in cities and on college campuses over a variety of social issues, but most particularly the war in Viet Nam. As actions expanded in Cambodia, college students took to the streets to show their anger over this escalation. At Kent State the Ohio National Guard fired 67 rounds in 13 seconds on a crowd of unarmed students, killing four and wounding nine others. Protests grew across the country and the military was called up to protect the president, as 100,000 took to the streets of Washington DC five days after Kent State. Five guardsmen were indicted for the Kent State massacre, but a federal judge later dismissed the charges.

Postal workers in New York City went on strike over the deplorable conditions and low wages there. The strike spread to other cities and the president called up military units to NYC post offices. This lasted two weeks.

Ten days after Kent State, law enforcement officers fired for approximately 28 seconds on a group of student protestors at historically black Jackson State College, killing two black students and wounding twelve others. No charges were brought.

The Laguna Fire in California burns from September 22 to October 4 and destroys 175,425 acres and 382 buildings. There were 16 casualties.

In April an oxygen tank exploded on Apollo 13 and the entire world sat on the edge for four days as NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) tried to bring the craft safely back to earth. You may have seen documentaries or the award-winning movie.

Pinto

American Motors launched the Gremlin automobile. Chevrolet brought out the Vega and Ford introduced the Pinto. It was not a good year for American made cars.

The North Tower of the World Trade Center is completed making it the tallest building in the world at that time (1368 feet tall).

For a positive memory, Garry will be pleased to recall that the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup after a long drought. Elvis Presley went on tour for the first time in twelve years. PBS made its debut following the end of National Education Television.

Some of the best rock and roll ever produced blasted out of transistor radios, jukeboxes, and from all those 45s and albums we purchased. After careful review of my memory banks, here are my top ten.

record player

10. Make It With You, by Bread. Written, produced, and sung by David Gates. Except for drums, he played all the instruments on the recording and sang the harmony. It was the first number-one song for Bread. “And if you’re wondering what this song is leading to,” you are probably right.
09. Mama Told Me Not To Come, by Three Dog Night. Randy Newman wrote the song for Eric Burdon in 1966. The single by Eric Burdon & The Animals was not released, but it did turn up later on their album. Newman recorded it himself for his own album in 1970. It was Three Dog Night who scored big and their version was the number 1 song in the country when American Top 40 premiered on the radio.
08. Your Song, by Elton John. This Elton John/Bernie Taupin song first appeared on the third Three Dog Night album in March. Later in the year, John released it as the B-side of “Take Me To The Pilot.” Disc Jockeys preferred “Your Song,” however, and it became a hit. In 1998 the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
07. Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head, by B.J. Thomas. The song was written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach for the 1969 movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It was the first number one hit of the 1970s and stayed there throughout January.
06. Rainy Night In Georgia, by Brook Benton. The song was written by Tony Joe White. Yes, the same guy who had a hit with “Polk Salad Annie” in 1969. This one just made it on to the List of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time at 498.

Rock with horns

05. 25 or 6 to 4, by Chicago. This Robert Lamm song was being written at 25 or 26 to 4 AM. It was the first Chicago song to break into the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Wanting just to stay awake / Wondering how much I can take / Should have tried to do some more / 25 or 6 to 4.” Enjoy this vintage video with the original Chicago lineup.

04. He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother, by The Hollies. There are several versions of the origin of the phrase in the title. It is famously a slogan at Boys Town children’s home. In 1918 a boy was said to have been carrying another boy who had polio and wore leg braces up the stairs. He said to Father Flanagan, “He ain’t heavy, Father. He’s my brother.” Elton John plays the piano on the hit recording.

03. Evil Ways, by Santana. It’s the organ solo and the guitar work of Carlos Santana that makes this single a hit, just like so many of his hits. Carlos also lends backing vocals while Greg Rolie sings lead. It was recorded in 1969 for the debut album and released as a single in January 1970. This was Santana’s first Top 10 hit. There is a 1970 video, but the quality of the Woodstock video is much better.

02. Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon & Garfunkel. The story goes that Garfunkel originally declined Simon’s request to sing lead thinking Simon should do it, but Art eventually agreed. The arranger transposed Simon’s work from G-major to E-flat major to suit Garfunkel’s voice. The rest, as they say, is music history. It is Art that you hear throughout the excellent recording. If you see the famous Concert in Central Park film, it is just Garfunkel there too. I thought I would give you a more recent treatment when the “old friends” decided to do it together. Still, Garfunkel delivers a powerful ending.

01. Make Me Smile, by Chicago.  By now you must have been wondering which Chicago hit I was going to place here. This song is actually a piece of the much larger work “Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon” posted here with the original Chicago lineup. The entire work was written by trombone player James Pankow and includes another hit, Color My World. They consistently play the entire suite in concert. It is one of my fondest musical memories.

What is your number 1? To listen to any song on the list, just click on the title. To list to all 21 on the countdown, click HERE.

WHEN THE WORLD WAS MUCH BRIGHTER

Music from Chicago, the city, 1970 Edition, by Rich Paschall

It was a good year for music from Chicagoland. Some groups had already hit the big time, and some were on their way. Some scored many big hits, others hit the limelight just once. Here are a few top-selling songs from Chicago area bands in 1970. Which one is best?

The Five Stairsteps were a brother and sister act. It started out as 5 teenagers. The father, Clarence Burke, Sr. was a Chicago Police detective. He backed the group on bass guitar and co-wrote some of the songs. O-o-h Child was their biggest hit and made Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Some day, yeah
We’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day
When the world is much brighter

In 1966 the Ides of March formed in the near west Chicago suburb of Berwyn, Illinois. They had local success with the big AM radio stations playing a couple of their songs. In 1970 the band hit it big with “Vehicle,” one of our “One Hit Wonders,” 1970 Edition. Jim Peterik wrote the hit tune and went on a few years later to form Survivor where he had a few more hits. Now he is back with Ides of March and recently co-wrote the song “Everything Is Gonna Work Out Fine,” with Robert Lamm (Chicago) for Chicago, the band.

I’m your vehicle, baby
I’ll take you anywhere you want to go
I’m your vehicle, woman
By now I’m sure you know

The Chicago Transit Authority

Chicago had a number of big hits in 1970. “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is,” was written and sung by Robert Lamm. It was the first song recorded for their first album, Chicago Transit Authority, in January of 1969. It was released as a single in 1970 after the success of “Make Me Smile” and “25 or 6 to 4” from their second album, Chicago II. It was Chicago’s third straight Top Ten single. It is one of my all-time favorites. I have seen the band do it live many times. There is nothing like seeing Chicago in Chicago.

Does anybody really know what time it is (I don’t)
Does anybody really care (care about time)
If so I can’t imagine why (no, no)
We’ve all got time enough to cry

It’s the Golden Anniversary for these. Which is your favorite?

See Also: One Hit Wonders, 1970 Edition” Serendipity, September 13, 2020.

EVERYTHING IS GONNA’ WORK OUT FINE

Still Making Music, Rich Paschall

There are not too many bands from the 1960s still going strong. Those that are, live on the hits they made in the past. Chicago, the band, however, still finds time to write new songs and get new music out there. Early on in the pandemic Robert Lamm, a founding member of Chicago worked with Jim Peterik, author of our top “One Hit Wonders” of 1970, “Vehicle” by Ides of March, to create a new Chicago song. The two shared sound files back and forth across the internet and added in Chicago vocalist Neil Donell along the way.

After the tune took shape, they put in the magic touch of Chicago horns for the unique sound we know so well. This time the message is “Everything Is Gonna Work Out Fine.” With all that is going on in the country, they want you to know there are some positive signs too.

The song is on Spotify and iTunes and probably others by now. You will also find two versions on YouTube. Jim Peterek is singing on the Duet version.

The band has not sat idle during this time. They have done some live Zoom concerts with all of the band members playing from different locations. Modern technology is keeping live concerts alive. Lamm does not feel there will be concert tours this year, although the band is still showing on their website some performances later this year. Do not be surprised if they are rescheduled into next year.

Last year we received a new Chicago Christmas album that included some original tunes. The band would also consider that album as Chicago XXXVII. It was the first new album since Chicago “Now” came out on CD and various digital platforms.

Chicago XXXVI


In 2014 Chicago did something most older bands are reluctant to do. They put out a new studio album of original music entitled “Chicago NOW.” Legendary bands with staying power such as Chicago make their living off their faithful fans at live performances as well as sales of merchandise including older albums. They know that only a select handful of older bands can actually sell new singles and albums. The buying public for new music is mainly in the 13 to 34 age bracket and many of them tend to stream music rather than actually buy it. The main buyers of CDs are in the 45 and over category, but they are buying “catalog” music, or that is to say, classics from their favorite artists of the past.

“Rock with horns”

Studio time can be expensive, both in terms of the studio cost and the lost concert performance time.  A touring band like Chicago, who spends most of the year on the road, does not like the idea of stopping for an extended length of time. But Chicago is not ready to stop composing and recording, so how do they tour and record? The answer came with a new recording system they call “The Rig.” They have pushed the technology forward with a portable system so good, they record as they travel. Much of Chicago NOW was done in hotel rooms across the country and around the world.

Founding member and trumpet player, Lee Loughnane, took charge of the project to put out a new album without stopping the show, so to speak. Each composer of a song got to act as producer for his entry to the album and various band members helped with arrangements as well as select musicians from outside the group. Chicago not only recorded on the move, but they did not all have to be there at once. Members would record their parts at different times. Hank Linderman, a long time studio engineer, was the coordinating producer. A “collaboration portal” was set up and tracks were sent at all times from Chicago and contributing musicians. The result is a stunning contribution to the Chicago catalog and worthy of their best early efforts.



The title track, released as a download prior to the album début, has now worked its way into the current tour performances. Written by Greg Barnhill and Chicago band member Jason Scheff, the number was produced and arranged by Scheff. It is an energetic start to the album. Scheff also contributed “Love Lives On” and is co-composer to founding member Robert Lamm’s song, “Crazy Happy.”



While the horns section technically remains intact with founding members Lee Loughnane on trumpet and James Pankow on trombone, founding member and woodwind player Walt Parazaider appears in the videos but in fact, only played on three of the recordings. Now at age 75, a variety of health issues in recent years has limited Parazaider’s time on the road. Long time fill-in Ray Herrmann is also credited on three of the songs, though he was not listed as a band member at that time. While Herrmannn is now a frequent performer, the audience does not always realize it.  From a distance he somewhat resembles Walt. Other sax players contributed to the album as well.

Guitar player Keith Howland sings the song he composed with Scheff and drummer Tris Imboden, “Nice Girl.” He also contributes, along with Imboden to Lamm’s “Free at Last.” As expected, Lamm leads the way on this album, being credited with lead vocals on six of the songs and background vocals on others.

Previously, I wrote about “America” which was released the autumn before Chicago 36. It appears on the album as well. Lou Pardini drives home the song and the social commentary on lead vocal and keyboards. Also on percussion for the band is Walfredo Reyes, Jr., a more recent addition to the Chicago lineup, a talented nine guys at the time of Chicago XXXVI. There are currently 10 official band members.

Chicago

Chicago in Chicago, August 2014

BODGES? WE DON’T NEED NO BODGES! – SERIOUSLY

From the battleground, an update, by Rich Paschall

Yes, there is more to the story!

You have probably quoted, or misquoted, the famous movie line. In fact, I would bet you have done it often. Do you know where it comes from? Have you seen the movie? If not, you have missed a gem.


“Bodges? We ain’t got no bodges. We don’t need no bodges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ bodges!”


The 1948 western film, The Treasure of Sierra Madre, stars Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt, and Walter Houston. It was one of the first Hollywood films to be shot on location in a different country. They used many Mexican actors and extras. When our main characters are in the mountains prospecting for gold, a ragtag group who look like bandits come across the Americans. The leader announces they are the police. This causes Bogart to say, “If you’re the police, where are your badges?”

Well if you want to know what happens next, you will have to check out the movie. In fact, I have not seen it for decades and need to watch it again myself. It’s directed by John Houston who also directed Bogart in The Maltese Falcon. Houston won an Oscar for Best Director for Sierra Madre. His father, Walter Houston, also won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The American Film Institute named it one of the best films of all time.

Back in July: I was thinking about this movie after I got an email from the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA). That was immediately followed by an email from my employer, an airline I have mentioned to you in the past. The topic of these emails? Badges!

Technically I have an airport job, although I had not been to the airport since March 13. On that date, we were told to take whatever we thought we needed to do our jobs from home and not come back. Our group packed up and left.

 

The cargo building has a nice office that was remodeled at the end of last year. It is not near the terminal buildings and is in fact outside the fence along the east side. I had a very nice view of the east runway from where I usually parked my car.  Since the building is on the City of Chicago airport property, we of course needed airport badges!

My current “office” is a small table that is mounted to the wall in a corner of my kitchen. I guess it was meant for cozy little breakfasts since only two could sit there at a time. It is perfect for my computer because there is an outlet underneath the table and it just big enough for what I need. It is not as big or as nice as the work station in the cargo building, but it is away from a public building where people come and go all day.

At home, I have not been expecting the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), or the CDA to show up in my kitchen to ask to see my badge. (“If you work for the airline, where are your badges?”) This is something that could happen at the cargo building and the TSA does make the rounds, as does US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). If you are in a building that handles air freight, they really would like to know you belong there.

The problem with the official airport badge is that it has an expiration date. Every year! All of the people who work in any capacity at one of the world’s largest airports must go to the Badging Office in Terminal 3 every year to get a renewal. My time was up. I needed a new badge Even if I work from my kitchen for the next entire year, I needed to renew in case the TSA, FAA, CDA, or CBP showed up one morning for coffee (or covfefe) and asked to see my badge.

If I said I was not pleased with the thought of going to the cargo building to pick up my papers (“If you work for the airline, where are your papers?”) and then to a passenger terminal to get my badge, I would understate the obvious. But at the appointed hour one Friday this month, I got ready to go with my backpack filled with pills, water, a mask, hand sanitizer, picture ID, and stinking badge. Off I went on a trip I had not made in 4 months. I picked up the papers, chatted with a colleague a bit, and headed out.

I was told the Badging Office would not be crowded. That was true since they only let in a few people at a time in order to maintain the mandated social distancing. This meant we had to stand in a line in the hall outside. A long line. Fortunately, I got in the line before it ran all the way to the back wall where a cluster of people was milling about.  I kept 6 feet behind the guy in front of me, but the woman behind me kept creeping up close behind. We were both wearing masks, but even so.

The “gentleman” in front of me never turned around so I did not see his face. He was wearing a camouflage baseball cap with an American flag on the back. He had “salt and pepper” hair, and dressed conservatively like he would be going hunting afterward. After standing in line for 20 to 30 minutes we were near the door when a TSA agent came up to the “gentleman” and said, “Excuse me, sir, do you have a mask?”

“Mask? We ain’t got no mask. We don’t need no masks. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ masks!”

The gentleman was given two options. They could get him one of those single-use masks, or he could leave. I guess there was a third option. You may have seen their TV show, Chicago P.D. (CPD).

Update: Now just a couple of months later, the Badging Office has realized that a lot of people with badges are either on furlough or working from home. In other words, “We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges.” The CDA has set out to decommission lots of badges. Since I don’t go to the airport, the airline wants me to bring back my badge. I guess this is a commentary about whether we are going back there to work this year. I will have to plan another trip to the airport to turn in a badge I did not need in the first place. Bureaucracy!

“HELLO IN THERE” AND THE SAD DEPARTURE OF JOHN PRINE – RICH PASCHALL

A John Prine Memory, by Rich Paschall

John Prine (Photo Credit: Ron Baker)

When John Prine was growing up in Maywood, Illinois, a suburb along the west side of Chicago, he helped a friend with a newspaper route. “…and I delivered to a Baptist old peoples home where we’d have to go room-to-room.”  That experience stayed with him and inspired him to write the song “Hello In There.”  It appeared on his debut album in 1971.

Ya’ know that old trees just grow stronger
And old rivers grow wilder ev’ry day
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, “Hello in there, hello”

John performed around Chicago at a number of clubs in the late 1960s. He was one of many singer-songwriters here in that era. His debut album was well received and he was nominated for a Grammy as Best New Artist in 1972. “I don’t think I’ve done a show without singing ‘Hello in There’,” John stated in the liner notes to ‘Great Days”, an anthology album put out in 1993.

So if you’re walking down the street sometime
And spot some hollow ancient eyes
Please don’t just pass ’em by and stare
As if you didn’t care, say, “Hello in there, hello”

John Prine died on April 7th. He had been stricken with COVID-19. He was 73. He won two Grammy Awards in his career and was also presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020. His song, “Hello In There” has been covered by numerous artists.

One of the artists to frequently sing John’s song was Joan Baez. If you have plenty of Kleenex handy, you may wish to see her tribute to John recorded from her kitchen when he was hospitalized. She had covered the song on her 1975 album, “Diamonds and Rust.”

“I like songs that are clean and don’t have much fat on them — every line is direct, and all people can relate to it. That’s what I try to do.” – John Prine

See Also: “The Music Of John Prine,” by Marilyn Armstrong, SERENDIPITY, April 8, 2020.
SOURCES: “Joan Baez Dedicates ‘Hello in There’ to John Prine,” by Angie Martoccio, rollingstone.com March 30, 2020.
John Prine Was The Master Of Lyrical Economy,” by Morgan Enos, Grammys, grammy.com April 8, 2020.
John Prine (album),” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, en.wikipedia.org
John Prine,” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, en.wikipedia.org

ONE HIT WONDERS – RICH PASCHALL

1970 Edition, by Rich Paschall

Everyone likes to get invited to the party, but imagine getting invited to just one party…ever. That’s how it must have felt for these 1970 rockers who climbed high on the rock and roll charts just one time. They may have had minor successes with other songs, but only one big hit.

In the summertime, when the weather is hot, You can stretch right up and touch the sky

A one-hit wonder is “an act that has won a position on [the] national, pop, Top 20 record chart just once” according to The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders. Some of these one-hit wonders have made a career out of it and are still going. Others have become just a footnote in rock and roll history. In order to celebrate the occasion, we have decided to throw a fiftieth birthday party for the following artists and songs. So come across those White Plains and watch out for those Five Stair Steps when you arrive. O-o-h Child, you will feel like a Mississippi Queen when The Rapper gets going. So, Ma Belle Amie, we want to see you movin’ and groovin’ to my personal Top Ten choices.

10. Tighter, Tighter by Alive and Kicking. Written by Bobby King and Tommy James (Yes, that Tommy James) the song was released in June and reached number 7 by August. Tommy James and the Shondells recorded it years later with little success.

09. Hey There Lonely Girl by Eddie Holman. This was released as Hey There Lonely Boy by Ruby and the Romantics in 1963. It did not chart. This version made it to number 2 on the Billboard 100.

08. All Right Now by Free. These English rockers scored with this one. The story is this was written by bassist Andy Fraser and singer Paul Rodgers after a particularly bad live performance.

Ride captain ride, Upon your mystery ship, On your way to a world that others might have missed

07. Ride Captain Ride by Blues Image. This was the only Top 40 hit for this American band. “As a storm was blowin’ out on the peaceful sea, Seventy-three men sailed off to history.”  That’s sort of like this song.

06. Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) by Edison Lighthouse. The group was basically a studio creation. The song was number 5 in the US but went to number 1 in the UK. It has a similar sound to another one-hit-wonder that year. My Baby Loves Lovin by White Plains may have had the same lead singer. Tony Burrows did studio singing and is often reported as the real voice here. He did work on the song. You decide.

Honorable Mention: We would absolutely be remiss if we failed to mention Rubber Duckie by Ernie (of Sesame Street). Yes, he has been involved in many songs over the years, but alas, this was his only song to hit the charts. It seems the tune was so popular up and down Sesame Street that it was released as a single and climbed the pop charts all the way to number 16 by September of that year.

05. In The Summertime by Mungo Jerry. There actually is no “Mungo Jerry.” The band is named after Mungojerrie from T.S. Eliot’s book, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The song was written by lead singer Ray Dorset.

04. Montego Bay by Bobby Bloom. The song was co-authored by Bloom. It is written about the Jamaican city of the same name.

03. Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum. The singer claims to have written the lyrics in 15 minutes’ time. It was a popular tune on the AM radio rock stations in Chicago in early 1970. It reached number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

02. Venus by Shocking Blue. The Dutch rockers topped the charts in nine countries with this tune, including the US.

01. Vehicle by Ides of March. The local rock band was a favorite in Chicago. In fact, they still are.  When I was in high school, they were playing “sock hops” at other high schools. When Vehicle hit in 1970 it was on the Big 89, WLS 890 AM on our radio dials ALL THE TIME!

To hear any of the songs above just click on the title. To hear them all, go to my One Hit Wonders playlist here.

See also: One Wonderful Moment, 1968 Edition,” SERENDIPITY, May 13, 2018.
Good Old Rock ‘N Roll, One Hit Wonders of 1969,” SERENDIPITY, March 10, 2019.

THE FIVE-SECOND RULE FOR FLOOR AND LIFE

Curious Thoughts by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog


Admit it!  You have probably invoked the five second rule many times in your life.  Maybe you tend to do it when no one else is around, but you do it nonetheless.  No matter what some in society may say, you can not help yourself.  You may think it just a little bit evil, but you do it anyway.  You may even do it openly, not caring what others may think.  Don’t worry.  They do it too.

In case you are one of the few who have not heard about it and have not followed the widely disputed practice, the “Five Second Rule” is the belief that if you drop some food on the floor, it is alright to eat if you pick it up right away, say in five seconds.  While common sense may speak against such a practice, some science seems to be coming down in favor of what once was folklore or an “old wives’ tale.”  A recent study seems to suggest that a few seconds on the floor does not matter much.  Your wet gummy bears are not likely to pick up much in the way of bacteria if you pick them up right away.

the special

Unbelievably, dropping food on your carpet seems to pick up less bacteria than dropping it on your tile or linoleum floor.  Of course, if you own a dog or a cat, the food item may pick up some animal hair or dander you might not want to pop in your mouth. Animal hair is basically a condiment in a hairy pet home. No matter how clean Fido looks to you, all that rolling around on the floor is not good for dropped food. You have to consider that Fido might beat you to the item, in which case your dog has the treat you lost and let’s face it, your dog never seems to get sick after eating food off the floor. Or from anywhere else including many items that are blatantly inedible. While I would not care to eat off my floors, considering what I know, I may be less reluctant elsewhere.  You may have heard that Aunt Matilda’s house was so clean you could eat off the floors. That may literally be true, although I do not think I would try it on a dare.

Who funds this type of study, you may wonder? Who cares? This particular science is extremely important when you consider the number of people who drop food then pop it in their mouths. Isn’t it time we got the answer to this eternal question?

Does the five second rule exist? Now we know (or maybe we know, but let’s say we know). There are studies that say the opposite, but we’ll ignore them for now in the name of brevity.

Your life has its own Five Second Rule: The longer you are down, the more likely you are to pick up dirt.  When you fall, are knocked down, trip, slip, or slide to the ground — whatever has caused you to land on your butt or face — get up and get moving. The world doesn’t look right when you’re on the floor. Forget science. The quicker you get up and move on, the better.  If it has been a particularly bad day, it can be hard to convince yourself to get up. You may feel inclined to wallow for a while. Don’t do it. Like food on the floor, as long as you’re down, dirt accumulates. It’s the nature of life.

There is one more thing to consider while we are invoking scientific (?) studies. If you fall and stay down, you will look like a dropped treat to people-eating monsters. If you aren’t careful, one of them will scoop you up and pop you in his mouth.  Another thing to know from the most recent study is that monsters have a longer time “safe” down time, like maybe a 5-day rule. Wallowing in the muck with one of Fido’s playmates can do you in. Being chomped on by monsters is definitely worse than eating candy off the floor. You have been warned.

See also: “Does the five second rule really work?” 

THE 50-PERCENTERS: A SHORT STORY By RICH PASCHALL

Resistance.

A short story by Rich Paschall

After Durward Tower narrowly won his election to the Presidency late in the century, he declared that he had a landslide victory. It was a mandate by the people to make big changes needed by the country. The wealthy leaders of the Congress and of big business helped to spread this myth. It was to their economic advantage to do so. The many appointments to the courts gave Tower ultimate control of the judiciary. Many were unqualified for their roles, but they would support any case for which Tower had an interest.

Both houses of the legislature also bowed to the whims and wishes of the so-called Leader. The minority party had little to say and much less money to say it. By the midterm elections, Durward Tower considered himself the Supreme Leader of the land. All during his time in office, Tower continued to hold campaign-style rallies. He loved the cheers of the people, and they seemed to love him and his policies. Many did not realize that his policies were against their best interests.

“We have great ideas for the country,” Tower told his rallies. “These are the best ideas that anyone has ever had in this office. That is because I am the smartest person ever to hold this office. Trust me on this, folks.”

And they did trust him. Many did, anyway, though a few were skeptical. When Tower started pushing his extreme policies, their suspicions were confirmed.

The biggest change came in the tax code, which then led to changes in the voting laws. Tower had convinced the populace that anyone making less that 100,000 dollars was a drag on the economy and the country. These were the people that were taking the money of the social services and they must be made to pay. He decreed that they should pay a 50 per cent income tax for being such failures. Those making less than 11,000 were only asked to pay 10 per cent.  This was to show the people that Tower was a caring humanitarian. The Legislature approved of this. This new class of people were referred to as the 50 percenters.

Sometimes enough is not enough

Citizens making between 100,000 and one billion had a graduated tax as before. These were the 100 percenters, and Tower often congratulated them for their contributions to society and to his campaigns. According to the fearless leader, those making a billion dollars or more must be rewarded for their enormous contributions to society. “Without these people,” Tower would say, “there would be no jobs. There would be no progress. There would be no country. Trust me folks, these people must be encouraged to do more and that can only be done with tax cuts.” Durward Tower felt that billionaires should only pay ten per cent. He told everyone that this was a lot of money and more than anyone else was paying. It was therefore declared that the 50 percenters should only have a 50 percent vote. With each one having only half a vote, their power was greatly diminished. The one hundred percenters kept to one vote per person. The billionaire class quickly became know as the two hundred percenters, as each one got 2 votes in each election.

“You all know that the country must reward the billionaire class for their hard work. They deserve more votes. They contribute so much more than some of those pathetic losers in the 50 percenters.” Ironically, most of the people that cheered this at the rallies were themselves 50 percenters.

Billie Saunders and Robert Wright were among those that felt the majority were being mistreated by Tower and followers. They decided to form a resistance. Saunders held his own rallies to tell the people about the gross inequities. Wright took to social media to spread the word. He made videos and posted them to various platforms. When the resistance gained some momentum and the protests began to grow, Tower became angry.

isys6621.com

He had his Congress pass the Patriotic Actions law which stated anyone who spoke out against the 50 percenters law was to be considered a traitor to the country. Any traitor was to be imprisoned for a lengthy period. Tower once again took to the rallies to sell his new law. “People who speak out against the laws of this country are traitors. We have great  ideas for this country. They are the greatest ideas any president has ever had. We can not have any disturbances in public from these bad people. There is only one way to deal with a traitor and you all know what that is.”

At that the chants began from the audience. “Lock him up, lock him up, lock him up.” When the crowds would erupt with his favorite chants, Tower would take a step back from the podium and survey the crowd with great pleasure. Some thought the look on his face was rather smug, but his followers only saw a patriotic gaze. In the weeks that followed Saunders was arrested and sent to a detention camp. Wright went underground and kept posting videos and opinion pieces. He formed a resistance of people who tried to hide their identities. Wright told the Resistance, “We know Tower has tampered with the election. We must get the best computer minds to prove what he has done.”

Meanwhile, Tower kept up his campaign against the Resistance. He used his own social media presence to send out messages to his followers. In one message he threatened to shut down a newspaper that ran an opinion piece written by Wright. “It’s all lies,” Tower wrote, “printed by that failing paper.” Wright and the Resistance wondered how they ever got to a place in time where the majority voice no longer mattered and one demagogue’s whims were the law of the land. They continued to send out messages about inequality, calling for people to resist the Durward Tower.