KINGDOM COME – Judy Collins

A song written after 9/11 when the work was still ongoing and people who really were there were working desperately hard to find every last body who could be retrieved.

It is hard to believe that it was more than 18 years ago. Young adults have been born and are old enough to serve in the Armed Forces, but are not old enough to remember where they were and what they were doing on that day in September 2001.

Do you remember? I think everyone who was there — not necessarily on site, but watching and thinking “This cannot be happening” remember exactly where they were and what was running through their minds.

CLOWNS ARE RUNNING THE WORLD – Garry Armstrong

“Send In The Clowns”, on its own merit, is a beautiful song from the show, “A Little Night Music.” Judy Collins’ cover has made it a popular favorite for decades. A Frank Sinatra version is especially poignant.

Jimmy Stewart (clown) and Charlton Heston in “The Greatest Show On Earth”

In the early 70’s, a seemingly more innocent period, I used “Send In The Clowns” as a musical wrap around a political TV piece. I was covering local Boston politics. A primary campaign. Those were the days of political and community icons like “Dapper,” “Fast Freddie,” Trixie, “Kevin From Heaven,” “Wacko,” and “Raybo.”

Those were influential folks, beloved by their constituents and bearers of much political clout. I was on “friendly” terms with most of these folks. There was less Sturm und Drang between the media and politicians in those days.

There was respect.

My piece was shot with silent black and white film.  We were still in the pre-videotape and digital days. I chose silent film over sound because I wanted the music to have more presence, less competition from people talking.

We used a montage of candidates faces, posters and campaign slogans. The lyrics of “Send In The Clowns” soared as the video zoomed in on campaign slogans and candidates kissing babies and pressing the flesh.

I anticipated a flurry of angry calls from campaign directors.  Nothing. Nada. One candidate, over happy hour drinks, praised the cleverness of my piece but said he would’ve preferred the Sinatra version of “Clowns”.

So much for being glib in those days.

Imagine using “Send In The Clowns” today.  For the coming mid-terms.  The  ’20 Presidential race. How would the “Clowns” lyrics fare over the screaming POTUS?  The ranting Rudy? The shouting Sean Hannity?

Should we intercut snippets of circus clowns with “breaking news” video and clips of all the President’s minions?  Don’t forget those shots of the President’s supporters, the “People,” with their “Jail Her” signs and the racist banners flying over political bonfires.

Send in the clowns?  Don’t bother.
They’re already here. 

WHO COVERED WHO? – Rich Paschall

Both Sides, Rich Paschall

Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

Judy Collins is still performing “Both Sides, Now.”

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

Judy Collins was the first to release the Joni Mitchell composition”Both Sides, Now” in 1967.  The following year it was released as a single, climbed the charts and won a Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance.  It is a staple of Collins performances to this day.

In 1969 Joni Mitchell included the song on her album Clouds.  It has since been recorded by a long list of big name artists.  In 2000, Mitchell released a new recording with an orchestral arrangement.  In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine named “Both Sides, Now” one of the top 500 Greatest Songs of all time.

The 1960’s era Collins record was a bit faster paced and more of a “pop tune” than the folksy performance shown above with the Boston Pops. It has been reported that Mitchell disliked the popular Collins hit single.

But now old friends they’re acting strange 
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained 
In living every day.

“Both Sides, Now” by Joni Mitchell © 1967 Gandalf Publishing Co.

THE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD, JUDY COLLINS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Weight



I still see my brother Michael,
pressed and polished, shaking hands down at the store
Everyone had come to see the all-star hop the Greyhound bus and go to war
He punched me in the arm to say goodbye
It was the first time that I saw our father cry

I kept all my brother’s letters tied in ribbon in a box beneath my bed
Every night I read by flashlight with the covers in a tent above my head
His words said “Not to worry, doing fine”
It was his way of trying to ease my mind
While I was trying not to read between the lines

The weight of the world, too heavy to lift
So much to lose, so much to miss
It doesn’t seem fair that an innocent boy
Should have to carry the weight of the world

Then it was football games and homecoming and
picking out our dresses for the prom
With my brother in some desert dodging bullets when he wasn’t dodging bombs

While we went from the land of brave and free
To just being afraid to disagree
While I was being brought down to my knees by

The weight of the world, too heavy to lift
So much to lose, so much to miss
It doesn’t seem fair that an innocent boy
Should have to carry the weight of the world

It was the middle of December when the Army sent my brother home at last
While the flagpole by the football field flew the colors half-way down the mast
The wind blew cold and snow was coming down
Still everybody turned out from our town
As we laid my brother in that frozen ground

The weight of the world, too heavy to lift
So much was lost, so much was missed
It doesn’t seem fair that any boy or any girl
Should have to carry the weight of the world


Songwriters: Amy Speace / J Vezner / Judson Caswell
Weight of the World lyrics © DO Write Music LLC

SEND IN THE CLOWNS? DON’T BOTHER, THEY’RE HERE – Garry Armstrong

“Send In The Clowns”, on its own merit, is a beautiful song from the show, “A Little Night Music.” Judy Collins’ cover has made it a popular favorite for decades. A Frank Sinatra version is especially poignant.

Jimmy Stewart (clown) and Charlton Heston in “The Greatest Show On Earth”

In the early 70’s, a seemingly more innocent period, I used “Send In The Clowns” as a musical wrap around a political TV piece. I was covering local Boston politics. A primary campaign. Those were the days of political and community icons like “Dapper,” “Fast Freddie,” Trixie, “Kevin From Heaven,” “Wacko,” and “Raybo.”

Those were influential folks, beloved by their constituents and bearers of much political clout. I was on “friendly”terms with most of these folks. There was less Sturm und drang between the media and politicians in those days. There was respect.

My piece was shot with silent black and white film.  We were still in the pre-video tape and digital days. I chose silent film over sound because I wanted the music to have more presence, less competition from people talking.

We used a montage of candidates faces, posters and campaign slogans. The lyrics of “Send In The Clowns” soared as the video zoomed in on campaign slogans and candidates kissing babies and pressing the flesh.

I anticipated a flurry of angry calls from campaign directors.  Nothing. Nada. One candidate, over happy hour drinks, praised the cleverness of my piece but said he would’ve preferred the Sinatra version of “Clowns”.

So much for being glib in those days.

Imagine using “Send In The Clowns” today.  For the coming mid-terms.  The  ’20 Presidential race. How would the “Clowns” lyrics fare over the screaming POTUS?  The ranting Rudy? The shouting Sean Hannity?

Should we intercut snippets of circus clowns with “breaking news” video and clips of all the President’s minions?  Don’t forget those shots of the President’s supporters, the “People,” with their “Jail Her” signs and the racist banners flying over political bonfires.

Send in the clowns?  Don’t bother. They’re already here.

 

SEND IN THE CLOWNS – Garry Armstrong

“Send In The Clowns”, on its own merit, is a beautiful song from the show, “A Little Night Music.” Judy Collins’ cover has made it a popular favorite for decades. A Frank Sinatra version is especially poignant.

Jimmy Stewart (clown) and Charlton Heston in “The Greatest Show On Earth”

In the early 70’s, a seemingly more innocent period, I used “Send In The Clowns” as a musical wrap around a political TV piece. I was covering local Boston politics. A primary campaign. Those were the days of political and community icons like “Dapper,” “Fast Freddie,” Trixie, “Kevin From Heaven,” “Wacko,” and “Raybo.”

Those were influential folks, beloved by their constituents and bearers of much political clout. I was on “friendly”terms with most of these folks. There was less Sturm und drang between the media and politicians in those days. There was respect.

My piece was shot with silent black and white film.  We were still in the pre-video tape and digital days. I chose silent film over sound because I wanted the music to have more presence, less competition from people talking.

We used a montage of candidates faces, posters and campaign slogans. The lyrics of “Send In The Clowns” soared as the video zoomed in on campaign slogans and candidates kissing babies and pressing the flesh.

I anticipated a flurry of angry calls from campaign directors.  Nothing. Nada. One candidate, over happy hour drinks, praised the cleverness of my piece but said he would’ve preferred the Sinatra version of “Clowns”.

So much for being glib in those days.

Imagine using “Send In The Clowns” today.  For the coming mid-terms.  The  ’20 Presidential race. How would the “Clowns” lyrics fare over the screaming POTUS?  The ranting Rudy? The shouting Sean Hannity?

Should we intercut snippets of circus clowns with “breaking news” video and clips of all the President’s minions?  Don’t forget those shots of the President’s supporters, the “People,” with their “Jail Her” signs and the racist banners flying over political bonfires.

Send in the clowns?  Don’t bother. They’re already here.

FOLK, POP, AND THE MEANING OF LIFE

While I was growing up, my world was entirely serious music. I was a piano student and my spare time was consumed by practicing. It wasn’t until I recognized I’d never be good enough to be a professional musician that I started to explore the world of “folk” and “pop.” Tom Paxton, The Chad Mitchell Trio, even the Kingston Trio … followed by a crowd of folk singers from great to not-so-great became the go to people in my musical world. They seemed like personal friends. Joni Mitchell. Judy Collins. Carol King. Joan Baez. Pete Seeger. Linda Ronstadt. Emmy Lou Harris. Maria Muldaur. There were so many, back then.

Now that Judy Collins is 75 and I’m 70, I relate to this song so very well.

The Beatles were the first group in the pop arena I truly loved. After “A Hard Days Night” (I loved the movie and the score), and “Rubber Soul,” I was a fan for life — which means I still am buying remastered Beatles CDs.

beatles-abbey-road-cover

Eventually, I added many other singers and groups, and other categories of music.

John Prine was a latecomer to my “playlist,” but he remains a favorite. Better known as the writer than the singer, here are a couple of songs that I particularly love and always cheer me when I’m blue. Not everyone has heard of John Prine, but he wrote many songs. He sang them himself on various recordings, most of which I once owned on vinyl. Lo and behold, there’s a CD collection of his work available … just $10, double CD. I ordered it. Of course. No, I don’t like to trust my stuff to the cloud. Especially when I’m traveling.

Sometimes, nothing says “life” like music. Maybe more often than sometimes. Maybe always.

And finally, I’d like to add an old song that’s a current favorite. It’s our “road song” and we tend to listen to it over and over again while driving down (or up) the highway. “Pancho and Lefty” is a story song. If you’ve heard it (and many people have sung it over the years, you probably think that maybe it has something to do with Pancho Villa. It ought to. Actually, Townes Van Zandt says it has nothing to do with him unless it fell out of his unconscious directly into the song. Just a song about two loser outlaws in Mexico.

“Pancho and Lefty” written by Townes Van Zandt was recorded by Emmylou Harris for her 1977 album, Luxury Liner, released on Warner Bros and available on CD on Rhino.

Every time I hear it, I see it in my mind’s eye too. The dusty desert where Pancho breathed his last. This is the Emmy Lou Harris version. My favorite, though there are, as I said, many others. Hers may be the most difficult one from which to catch all the lyrics, so I’ll include them for you. You won’t need to, as I did, keep listening and replaying the lines until finally, you get it … only to discover the words are actually printed on the CD’s paper insert.

PANCHO AND LEFTY – TOWNES VAN ZANDT

Living on the road my friend,
Was gonna keep you free and clean
Now you wear your skin like iron,
And your breath’s as hard as kerosene.
You weren’t your mama’s only boy,
But her favorite one it seems
She began to cry when you said goodbye,
Sank into your dreams.

Pancho was a bandit, boys
His horse was fast as polished steel
Wore his gun outside his pants
For all the honest world to feel.
Pancho met his match you know
On the deserts down in Mexico
Nobody heard his dying words,
Ah but that’s the way it goes.

And all the Federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him hang around
Out of kindness, I suppose.1

Lefty, he can’t sing the blues
All night long like he used to.
The dust that Pancho bit down south
Ended up in Lefty’s mouth
The day they laid poor Pancho low,
Lefty split for Ohio
Where he got the bread to go,
There ain’t nobody knows.1

And all the Federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him slip away

Now the poets tell how Pancho fell,
And Lefty’s living in cheap hotel
The desert’s quiet, and Cleveland’s cold,
And so the story ends we’re told
Pancho needs your prayers it’s true,
But save a few for Lefty too
He just did what he had to do,
And now he’s growing old.1

And a few grey Federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him go so wrong
Out of kindness, I suppose.1

A few grey Federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him go so wrong
Out of kindness, I suppose.

Read more: Townes Van Zandt – Pancho & Lefty Lyrics | MetroLyrics

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