POLITICS, WEATHER, AND LAST HURRAH SONGS – GARRY ARMSTRONG

I promised Marilyn I’d write a little something to ease her burden of SERENDIPITY blogs. It’s difficult to be prolific and creative. I recall that dilemma from my TV news days. It’s a grind turning out daily, quality pieces.

My mind is a whirling dervish of loose marbles, some of which also contain the germ of an idea.

I’ve had enough of presidential politics for a while. My hearing aids are on overload. The Donald’s clown car needs a lube job. Hillary and Bernie need to tone it down and treat themselves to a spa weekend. Together. Maybe spend a little time reminiscing about the good old days in the Senate.

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Politics has taken a temporary back seat to violent weather conditions disrupting many parts of the country. Those of us whining about dreary, endless rain would do well to look at regions battling killer fires, floods, and tornadoes.

The violent weather reminds me about the fragility of life. It also, in the dark recesses of my mind, reminds me of funerals and the music of such solemn gatherings. Weddings and funerals are big deals. They bring people together. Funerals can be awkward. Old animosities are suspended while the deceased are mourned. Music soothes the depressed, the craven, and those barely keeping it together.

I was at my best covering funerals during my years as a TV news reporter. I was allowed to stir the pot of sentimentality. Music was always the key. One time, I covered the last hurrah of a politician who was rumored to have had shady dealings in his past. Shocking, of course. Many were cynical about the praise heaped upon this scion of local politics. In this instance, I chose the high ground. My report was dominated by close up shots of grieving family, friends and colleagues.

I selected the Boston Irish favorite, “Galway Bay” as the music to dominate my piece. We ended the report with the casket being carried out of the cathedral into a gray, overcast day with the strains of “Galway Bay” echoing to the fade out.

I was lauded by many for providing just the right, sensitive touch for a man who was both adored and jeered in his lifetime. Music bridged the chasm.

I’ve given lots of thought about the music for my last hurrah. I’m a card-carrying sentimentalist. It juxtaposes with my cynicism. So,  I have a suggested play list for my final appearance on center stage as I begin the big sleep.

My favorites include “Nearer My God To Thee”, “Amazing Grace”, “Abide With Me”, “In The Garden”, “Shall We Gather By The River” and “Beautiful Savior” (my Mom’s favorite which my youngest brother plays at all his concerts).

The ringer could be “Happy Trails” because I’ll be riding the high country with my heroes – who have always been cowboys.

MOTHER’S WALTZ: A MUSICAL & VISUAL COLLABORATION

Mother’s Day – May 8, 2016


FROM swo8: Mother’s Day is May 10th and the great American author and photographer (blush), Marilyn Armstrong and I have worked on another collaboration. To commemorate this day, we have created a photographic montage of families together. It includes eight generations of my family and three of Marilyn and Garry Armstrong’s families.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Other posts you might enjoy:

POSTING IN THE TROT BY SWO8 BLUES JAZZ

FOREVER WALKING BY SWO8 BLUES JAZZ

FOREVER WALKING BY SWO8 BLUES JAZZ

I’VE GOT THE WINTER BLUES – SWO8 BLUES JAZZ

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

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.