ROUND AND ROUND AND ROUND – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Cycle
THE CIRCLE GAME – Joni Mitchell

Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like, when you’re older, must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to car wheels through the town
And they tell him,
Take your time, it won’t be long now
Till you drag your feet to slow the circles down

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through

And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return, we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

Songwriters: Joni Mitchell

NOW THE DAYS ARE SHORT – Rich Paschall

BUT NOW THE DAYS ARE SHORT, RICH PASCHALL

Photo: Garry Armstrong

When I was seventeen, it was a very good year…

When I turned seventeen, I had finished my Junior year in high school and was looking forward to the Senior year at a new school.  It was a bit scary, I admit.  No one wants to leave his mates behind and start again, but that was my fate, not my choice.

At least the new school was in the neighborhood, and I already knew a few students who were going there.  Although we did not admit at the time, the final year of high school put many new thoughts into our heads.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

You may think sex or sexual orientation, but those thoughts had already arrived years earlier.  All the passing of a few years meant was that these thoughts and curiosities intensified.  As you might imagine, a few of the boys and girls were a little more advanced than the others.  I think that stands out to you a little more at seventeen.

The new school brought new friends, new interests and new teachers.  There were subjects and activities the other school lacked.  The final high school year also proved to be, as I suspect it did for many of my friends, one of the best years of my life.  Some of those friends and those memories stayed with me over the decades.  I had no idea then that it would be the “best of times.”

When I was twenty-one, it was a very good year…

Four years later, brought a similar situation.  It was time to move on to Senior year of university and hopefully finish my degree on time (I didn’t).  It did not hold the lasting thrills of 17, but it did seem in a certain way to represent the transition to adulthood.  In reality, I was no more adult than at 20 or twenty-two.  It was just a symbolic thing.

The “coming of age” also allows you to drink legally, but that did not mean too much. I was days, weeks or months older than the friends I hung around with so it is not like we all headed off to some bar.  Still, the year seemed to hold a certain energy that young adulthood will give you if you let it.

When I was thirty-five, it was a very good year…

I had finally earned my Masters Degree.

It was not about career advancement.  It was about reaching a goal I had set years earlier.  I sometimes studied for the Comprehensive exams with a woman in her 70’s.  She was pretty much doing the same thing, reaching for a past dream.

I could tell her of the courses I had and of books I read, and she pushed me to study things I was certain would never be on the Masters’ exam again.  She was right about the exam questions and perhaps the reason we both marched up to receive our diplomas on the same day.

It felt like I had hit my stride at 35, although I can not really point to other reasons why.  If you have good friends, good times, and a reason for doing things, all seems right with the world.

Well, almost all seemed right.  I did not find the one right person to share my very good years.  Honestly, I can not say I looked all that hard.  I guess I was having too good of a time.

But now the days are short, I’m in the autumn of the year…

One thing that you become acutely aware of as you get older is that the days are short.  They don’t seem to last as long as the days of youth, you don’t seem to get as much done and you certainly don’t feel thirty-five.  You realize, no matter how desperately you try to suppress the thought, that the days are indeed numbered.

Even if you are optimistically believing that there are, let’s say, thirty-five years left, you know none will be like the year you were thirty-five.

With any luck at all, some will still be very good years.

If your life is like a fine wine, there will be many years which are a fine vintage.  Wine aficionados will refer to this as a “very good year.”  I hope to still have them.  None are 17 or 21 or 35, nor will they be again.  With any luck at all, however, I will be able to drink in the rest and enjoy them as if I were sitting in a vineyard in France with one of my best friends while we recall our great adventures together.

And I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs,
From the brim to the dregs,
It poured sweet and clear.
It was a very good year.

Although many had recorded this song, it won the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Male, in 1966 for Frank Sinatra.

It Was A Very Good Year, by Ervin Drake, 1961, lyrics © SONGWRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA OBO LINDABET MUSIC INC

TWO CAROLS FOR OUR HOLIDAYS – Marilyn Armstrong

As the weird, right-wing Christians endlessly complain about how they can’t say “Merry Christmas,” while the rest of us try to keep our heads low and avoid getting bombarded by Christmas? For us, there is Tom Lehrer and a few songs to make us smile.

Let us not forget that “other” seasonal holiday, Hanukkah. Although it is not one of the major holidays of the Jewish calendar, it’s relative (depending on the Jewish Lunar calendar which moves the holidays around in a thoroughly un-Christian way) proximity to Christmas has given it an undeserved prominence. And for that, there’s still Tom Lehrer.

May your season be joyful if you celebrate and sane, regardless. It’s a holiday. Enjoy it, ignore it, or sing your heart out.

WON’T YOU EASE MY WORRIED MIND – Rich Paschall

Layla, Rich Paschall

Layla, you’ve got me on my knees.
Layla, I’m begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind.

What’ll you do when you get lonely
And nobody’s waiting by your side?

Eric Clapton was a member of several groups before he joined with others to form Derek and the Dominos in 1970.  No, no one was actually named Derek.  Clapton, along with band mate Jim Gordon, penned the famous song and recorded it in 1970 with their new band.  It was released in 1971 without great success.  It’s length was a problem for radio play.  Thus, an edited version at 2:43 was released and hit the Top Ten in 1972.

Derek and the Dominos

The long version was released again in 1972 and appeared on albums by Clapton and Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers fame.  Allman had played guitar on the original studio version of the song.  The long version then found success as a single.

In 1982 the long version was re-released and charted again.  This time it was critically acclaimed as one of the great rock songs of all time.

In January 1992 Clapton recorded an acoustic album which included a new arrangement of the song.  The slower version with a different opening was seen that year on MTV Unplugged.  Clapton was reluctant to release the acoustic recordings, but finally relented and the song was released in September of that year.  The B-side of the vinyl recording was “Tears in Heaven” which also became a hit.

The top video is from a 1986 concert and yes, that is Phil Collins on the drums.  The lower one is from that 1992 MTV Unplugged performance.

AUTUMN LEAVES – RICH PASCHALL

Les Feuilles Mortes

The falling leaves
Drift by the window
The autumn leaves
Of red and gold

I see your lips
The summer kisses
The sunburned hands
I used to hold

Since you went away
The days grow long
And soon I’ll hear
Old winter’s song

But I miss you most of all
My darling
When autumn leaves
Start to fall.

Notes: Roger Williams had a number 1 hit with the instrumental version in 1955. Above he is playing in 2010 on his 86th birthday.

Andy Williams (no relation) appeared with Jose Feliciano in 1969. He first recorded the song in 1959.

Yves Montand introduced the song in 1945 in the movie “Les Portes des la nuit.” Above is from a 1951 movie “Parigi è sempre Parigi.”

Songwriters: Jacques Prevert (music) / Joseph Kosma (lyrics) /  Johnny Mercer (English Lyrics)

THE COPIOUS JOY OF MUSIC WE LOVED – Marilyn Armstrong

THE COPIOUS JOY OF THE MUSIC WE LOVED


From the group “Three Dog Night,” written by Hoyt Axton, this has to be the most joyful noise to come out of a radio during the 1970s. It still makes me want to dance!



LYRICS:
Jeremiah was a bullfrog
Was a good friend of mine
I never understood a single word he said
But I helped him drink his wine
And he always had some mighty fine wine
Singin’ Joy to the world All the boys and girls,
now Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me

If I were the king of the world
Tell you what I’d do
I’d throw away the cars and the bars and the wars
Make sweet love to youSingin’ now,

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me
(INSTRUMENTAL INTERLUDE)

You know I love the ladies
Love to have my fun
I’m a high night flyer and a rainbow rider
A straight-shootin’ son of a gun
I said a straight shootin’ son of a gun

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me Joy to the world

All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls

Joy to the world
Joy to you and me

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Now Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me

Joy to the world All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me …

MIDNIGHT AT THE OASIS – MARIA MULDAUR – Marilyn Armstrong

MIDNIGHT AT THE OASIS


Lyrics: Midnight at the Oasis

Sung by:  Maria Muldaur

Midnight at the oasis
Send your camel to bed
Shadows painting our faces
Traces of romance in our heads
Heaven’s holding a half-moon
Shining just for us
Let’s slip off to a sand dune, real soon
And kick up a little dust
Come on, Cactus is our friend
He’ll point out the way
Come on, till the evening ends
‘Til the evening ends
You don’t have to answer
There’s no need to speak
I’ll be your belly dancer, prancer
And you can be my sheik
I know your daddy’s a sultan
A nomad known to all
With fifty girls to attend him, they all send him
Jump at his beck and call
But you won’t need no harem, honey
When I’m by your side
And you won’t need no camel, no no
When I take you for a ride
Come on, Cactus is our friend
He’ll point out the way
Come on, till the evening ends
‘Til the evening ends
Midnight at the oasis
Send your camel to bed
Got shadows painting our faces
And traces of romance in our heads
Oh come on, oh come on
Woo hoo hoo, yeah, oh yeah
Oh oh, yeah, yeah

Songwriters: David Nichtern


In answer to “Whatever happened to Maria Muldaur”? I asked that many times, always wondering why her magical voice was never a big hit somewhere.

Her first — only — album was brilliant. She had such a wonderful, flexible, joyous voice … yet after that album, she essentially seemed to vanish from the music scene. It wasn’t lack of talent (obviously) and surely, with the numbers she racked up with her album, she had more than enough offers to do more.

The answer was simpler than I expected and I think it offers a good example of what “performing” means — both to those who make it “big” and those who say “no, thanks.” There are more who say “no” than you might expect.

She did continue to perform, both on her own and with the Grateful Dead and other groups. Solo performance wasn’t her favorite thing. She enjoyed writing songs, singing songs, singing backup with other groups and singers, but performing solo wasn’t “her.”

I asked a few people who knew her personally what happened and the answers were always the same. She wasn’t a driven performer. She loved music and singing, but she didn’t have the passion for fame.

She had a long career. I don’t know if she still performs. but she would be 80 now, so she may have retired. She was around and with us for all these years, but rarely as lead singer. She did not seek it.

Not everyone wants to be a star. Even when you can do it, it doesn’t mean you really want it. For all of us who are good at something but do not compete, the ability and the drive don’t always come as a pair.

“Midnight at the Oasis” was her big number and from a listener’s point of view, I wish she had done more. But I understand — because I don’t like performing either.