Vance Gilbert. Folk Singer. Excellent!

Strange out-of-place homage to Wayne’s World. But perhaps not. An evening with Vance Gilbert comes with a huge amount of laughter, in addition to some stunning music and vocals.

The setting is familiar… The living room of Russ & Julie at one of their famous House Concerts.  Twenty years, I believe and approaching 200 shows. Amazing. The joy of these shows is the casual and intimate nature. You get to mingle with the artist(s) before the show… usually. During intermission… usually. And afterwards… usually.  Did I mention you are sitting in their living room? And there is a pot luck dessert buffet? Not great on the last night of a 10-day cleanse, but a good test of willpower!

Thank you, Russ & Julie!  Again… and again… and again!

I had heard Vance’s music, of course, and knew of his reputation, but had never seen him live. Luckily I can now answer that question in the positive. A stunning, stunning evening.

This was the last in a three-night trifecta of singer/songwriters for me.  Thursday was the remarkable David Poe at the Hotel Cafe. David’s songwriting is filled with poetry and wicked wit.  He breaks your heart and makes you smile in one song… one verse.

I also had the good fortune to see the act before David hit the stage… Darlingside and Heather Maloney. They are both from the New England folk scene and happen to be touring together. Fantastic! Absolutely beautiful harmonies and musicianship. Keep an eye on both of these artists.

Friday night was a spontaneous evening at the Canyon Club to see Sea Wolf… aka Alex Brown Church. I would have loved to have seen the music fleshed out by a band, but his solo acoustic set grew in power as the evening went on, and I have always been a fan of his simplicity and force.

I learned a lot about Folk music over the course of these three nights.
First, most folk singers have fantastic senses of humor. Vance could easily do standup. Hysterical.
Second, most are very self-effacing and brutally honest. Though how can you be anything else when it is basically you and a guitar, alone on stage? Same goes for that killer sense of humor. It comes with the territory and touring, I imagine. A survival instinct.
Third, this is a genre that pulls you in perhaps more than any other. It is an open dialogue between performer and audience, a connection, immediate and powerful.
Fourth, the community is strong and filled with remarkable support. Heather was so genuinely excited when I told her I was seeing Vance and thanked ME for supporting live music. Pretty sophisticated for a young twenty-something. Vance was shocked that Heather once opened for him, praising her incredible talent and genuinely fawning over her musical gifts. It was great to see and hear that, as too many times we are more exposed to jealousy and in-fighting. Good on you, folk singers!

I remember the first time I saw Loudon Wainwright III.  It was at McCabe’s Guitar Shop.  Again, I knew the music before I set foot in the venue, but seeing him live was transformative. Loudon’s music is beautiful… stunningly, gorgeously beautiful and poignant. But it can also be sharp-witted, like a tongue or a rapier.  That dichotomy was always so fascinating to me. He would make me laugh and break my heart, all at the same time. Like life, I guess.

Vance gave me that same satisfaction and utter joy. McCabe’s, where he played the following night, described him as “delivering beautiful, heartfelt songs with an angelic voice, a devilish wit, and some serious guitar chops.” They also included a quote from Dirty Linen that says he is “among the quintessential musical poets.”  Yeah! What they said!

His voice is powerful and just soars, and closing the evening a cappella was potent. So was the gut-hurting (from laughing out loud) spontaneous song he sang about his love for snacks. I will hereby describe my belly as an “awning for my junk”.

Highlights for me include: “God Bless Everyone”, “Out The Way We Came In” (pure genius), “Unfamiliar Moon”, “Old White Men” and “Goodbye Pluto”. Closing with Hall and Oates’ “Sara Smiles” was one of the best covers I have heard.

Vance is also one of the nicest, most sincere human beings you will meet and was as truly moved by the evening as we were.

Live music MUST be part of the community, because it adds to the community and truly helps it thrive. So powerful, so healing, so mighty and amazing. Laugh out loud, sing out loud… live and love. Amen. AMEN!



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The World Cup, My Cup… And The Music Of Futbol

It’s been a while, forgive me.  Though I feel a surge coming on, as I am once again overwhelmed by my music.  I have been on a downloading binge, and that means I need to stop, breathe and take the time to smell the music… or at least really listen to all my new acquisitions and blog about them.  Stay thirsty… I mean, stay tuned, my friends.

Until then, let us talk about soccer… futbol… the World Cup.

I’ll admit it… every four years I have this amazing, whirlwind affair.  I become very acquainted with a wonderful group of people from all over the world, I fall deeply in love… and no, it does not involve Adriana Lima, as featured in those incessant Kia ads, which I am sure many a man love… and many a woman… well… don’t.  There are a few of them, but here is one for your watching enjoyment.

The fact is, I never really played soccer, unless you count the one or two years I was on the Bobcats when I was seven or eight… and as my parents like to tell it, I spent most of the time with my eyes OFF the field and my hands ON my CUP.  Hey, back in those days the cups were HUGE!  Easy, I said the cups.  They were hard and uncomfortable and chaffed… horribly.  So yeah, I needed to adjust it whenever I could.  I played fullback… defense… and rarely had to do much because the other kids around me, rightfully so, would not let me handle the ball much.  I remember guys like Carl and Scott being quite good at the sport, but it was not very big then.  It’s amazing to see how popular it has become, yet we still lag behind the rest of the globe.  Though if this World Cup is any indication, we are getting there.  Soccer fever is spreading.

There is an old British quote which has always stuck with me, and I believe was reiterated in the film Invictus… though it’s origin and exact wording seems to be murky.  “Soccer is a gentleman’s sport played by thugs, and rugby is a thugs sport played by gentlemen.”  I have seen it with “game” instead of sport and “ruffians” and “Hooligans” as well, but you get the idea.  Today and the biting incident of Uruguay’s Luis Suarez (his third apparent one, no less) makes this seem like a very accurate statement.  Though I refuse to let delinquents like him dismantle my new-found love… or should I say my newly, once again, resurrected love.

Every four years I fall… hard.  I swear I am going to follow futbol… on the world-wide level and in the Premiere League.  Maybe even go see the Galaxy play… You know, really get into it.  Because, of course, I need more sports to break my heart and plant me in front of a television or inside a bar.  I can fit it in.  I mean sure, there is a lot of overlap between my passions for College Football and hockey, but I can do it.  I can do it… I can…

I like the soccer jerseys, and yes I have my share… Italy, France, Crystal Palace, Israel…  Thank you friends, who gave me all of them.  I am eyeing the away one from The Netherlands and of course, something from the USA, by the way.  Hint, hint, nudge, nudge, wink, wink.  And yes, okay… a Scottish jersey would be lovely.

But, actually, I do have to say I HATE the fact that the club jerseys have the great team logo as tiny as can be, and the sponsor be basically the main and whole, eye-catching, eye-sore visual.  Chelsea, for example.  I love the colors, I love the logo, BUT, I don’t feel like paying a ton of money to advertise for Samsung.  Get rid of the sponsor’s name and I am there, committed, 100%!!!

Obviously I support Team USA, and hell yes I believe.  My great-grandfather was born in Holland, and I know many folks from there, so that puts The Netherlands at my number two spot.  Another trunk of my family tree is in England… and I have friends from France and Italy… and I do adore visiting both of those places, though France has some major issues that need attending to… Not good.

So there it is.  Soccer.  I can do this… I can be deeply in love and make it last… I can… I can!  Sigh…

Then four long years go by… Olympics aside… And I find myself rushing to learn or re-learn players’ names, histories, etc.  I love hearing about The Pitch and Set Pieces and wonder if they are talking about the sport or screenwriting and filmmaking.  I don’t think I have ever heard the word “brilliant” used so much either!  But then I sit down and watch, and I have to say that for this Cup, I am watching a lot more than I ever have… and I start to see it.

Without being crass, there is a lot of foreplay… a rhythm to the game.  You start slow, feel things out, see where you can get into open space.  You move, glide along the field, caress the ball, set things up, and then make a mad passionate run.  You can use your head and your feet, but not your hands, well, unless you are the Keeper.  And yes, I have always had a thing for the creative, eye-popping, different color, sometimes long-sleeve goalie jerseys, too.  I know, I know, I am like a little kid.

But maybe… maybe this year will be different.  I am more aware, more in tune and more attuned to how things are playing out and developing.  It’s a dance and a song and a piece of theatre.  There is great drama and celebration… joy and heartbreak.  Sometimes playing to a draw is a major accomplishment, though the complexity of the points and goal differentials in the first round can be a bit boggling.  But the music, the world music, the world stage…

There are wonderful sounds and chants from the stands.  What?  Like Ole, Ole, Ole is not plastered into your ears and brains???

Soccer fans are passionate, sometimes too much so, but they are always right there, way into it.  I used to think the game was boring, but 90 minutes plus stoppage time seems to fly by.  These are amazing athletes, who travel miles up and down the field.  The condition and shape they are in is staggering… and yes, when they remove their shirts, it is clear why they all have supermodel, rock star spouses.  The salaries and deals and under the table negotiations are equally mind-blowing… buying people’s contracts out, moving players from club to club, or country to country is like a crazy puzzle.

So call it soccer or futbol or whatever, I actually feel like it is finally clicking this time… that this is the one to last.  I guess check back in a few months and see where I am at, but I feel good.  And I believe… I believe that… I believe that we… I believe that we can win.  I believe that we can win!!!

USA!  USA!  And Hup, Hup Holland!





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Nina Gerber & Chris Webster – A Russ And Julie House Concert Extraordinaire

Take McCabe’s and cut it in half… length and width-wise.

Frame that in a private home in a suburb in the Valley.  Add some carpet, stairs in the back, and a large picture window.  Throw in a pot luck in the kitchen and you have a pretty good idea of what your Saturday evening looks and feels like when you go to one of Russ & Julie’s House Concerts.  Oh yeah… don’t forget the world-class talent.

Last night was Nina Gerber, one of the most amazing and versatile guitarists you will ever see or hear.  Period.  One of the gents asked her to talk about her guitar, mentioning that the instrument often adds to the tone and sound… “Uh, no…” she said jokingly.  But I tell you what.  As glorious as what she plays… Kate Wolf’s guitar, built by David Matlin… this is ALL NINA.  Her playing can most literally move you…  from foot-tapping smiles… to head-shaking awe… to actual heartbreak.  I felt tears welling up on more than one occasion, especially during one of her two instrumentals, the stunner “Winthrop Waltz.”  This may in fact be one of the most beautiful songs I have EVER heard.

I had the pleasure of seeing Nina play with Karla Bonoff a little while back as they opened for America.  And I am beyond myself that I will be missing them on a double bill next weekend at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara.  It’s a double bill with one of the greatest songwriters of all time… Jimmy Webb.  AAAGGGHHH!!!

Her partner in whatever is the opposite of crime this evening, and apparently for the last 25 years, was Chris Webster.  Her casual demeanor… hands in the pockets of her blue jeans… is the visual proof of the amazing vocal ease she possesses.  Her voice, her range, is gorgeous… never pushing or forcing a note or a tone, but amazingly floating through ballads and blues and even some standards.  This is quite the duo.  Chris also played a beautiful ukulele, with strumming and finger rhythms that also brought the ‘ol Washboard to musical life.  What I love about Chris’ voice is that it is recognizable, but also completely unique.  I caught myself trying to put a finger on it several times, but never quite succeeding:  Shawn Colvin… close, but no.  Roseanne Cash… not quite.  Mary Chapin Carpenter… maybe… I can hear that…  Chris Webster?  Yeah… that’s the ticket!

The evening highlighted many, if not all of the songs from their new (and first) album together, Apple Blossom Lane.  It has some originals from each of them, some known, but beautifully restructured covers and some songs from other artists I did not know, like singer/songwriter John Salz.  The evening also reminded me to go back and explore some Kate Wolf and the tunes Nina played on with her.  I also loved the tunes they did from Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, another artist I was not at all familiar with and who has sadly passed.

Both artists mentioned the community feel of the evening and how important that is.  Amen to that.  Music IS a community on so many levels, and yes, Nina, it will help with many of the problems and issues that no one else is coming to fix.  Thanks to Russ and Julie for creating a place in their home for music to shine.  Thanks to the amazing performers who just get it… and give it their all.  Thanks to a respectful audience who sang and whistled and came together to form the “Oak Park Community Choir”… even if it was for ONE NIGHT ONLY!  This is, quite literally, a musical treasure.

Here is a little taste of the evening…  Enjoy “Wild Ride”!  (This is from a few years back…)

If you don’t think music has immense power, stop whatever you’re doing.  Put on your favorite record and close your eyes… It’s taking you away, isn’t it?  Melting many of your problems, even for a few minutes, right?

So go out and spend a night… a day… a few hours… catching live music.  This is the best form of meditation and healing out there.  I have said it before, but I’ll say it again… if you open your ears and let the music in, your heart and mind will follow.  And if your heart is truly open, you can heal the world.  Can I get a Hallelujah?!  HALLELUJAH!!!






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The Simple Joys – Live Music With Ray LaMontagne, Bob Seger On Vinyl, Birthdays… And My Grammy Turning 102

Yesterday was my Grandmother’s 102nd birthday. Wow is right. While she is declining, she is still mostly there mentally, and keeps fighting forward, through some major setbacks.

She is inspiring. Mildred… Grammy… and now GG is my only grandparent left, and I cherish her. I lost both grandfathers when I was young and never really got to know them, which still makes me sad… and my other grandmother passed away in a state of dementia, which may have been easier for her, but was heartbreaking for the rest of us.

So this is for you, GG!

Bob Seger had a birthday yesterday, too. He turned 69.  I’ll go on a limb here and guess that my GG has never heard of Bob… and definitely not The Silver Bullet Band… but if it makes me happy, I know it makes her happy… and vice versa. As I drove home from the Ray LaMontagne show at the Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles last night, DJ Rita Wilde played side one of Night Moves on vinyl. Thank you, Rita!

And some very special shout outs to Julie… and to meeting new friends like SkyDanny and Nancy… and reconnecting with a fellow Wildcat and classmate, Amy.  It really is a small world.  Thanks for a truly wonderful evening!  (And thanks for half of that lobster roll, Danny!)

So the Ray show was very special.  The venue is literally and metaphorically spiritual, and while I wish he played music from Trouble (zero songs) and a lot more from Gossip In The Grain (Two songs and not my faves like “You Are The Best Thing,” and the stunner and what may be one of the most romantic songs ever written, “Let It Be Me”)… the new songs came to life, live.  The band is amazing… the vocal harmonies gorgeous… and you cannot keep your eyes off drummer, Barbara Gruska. She just plays with such joy and grace… and yes, watching her hair move and sway was hypnotizing. Her brother and partner in The Belle Brigade, Ethan Gruska, is also in the band, playing guitar and keys.

I am hoping I did not miss seeing Ray do the older stuff… perhaps on another tour… but regardless, he is a true and talented artist who always pushes himself and his music.

So 100.3 The Sound plays album sides on vinyl every day. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is… on many levels.  There are very few stations doing this… so there’s that.  But the sound, oh the sound of vinyl… the crackle… the snaps… the depth and the warmth.  It is like a warm, cuddly musical blanket.

Many of us will recall the days we locked ourselves in our rooms with a turntable and headphones… and listened, really listened to a record all the way through… and then again… and again. I’ll never forget my old headsets… they were huge! And my next favorite purchase was a super long coil cord, that allowed me to listen from my bed, which was at the exact opposite end of the room from my stereo. Drifting off into far-off lands with that headset and stereo on was magical… An escape, a journey and an adventure, all without leaving my bedroom.

Last night I cranked up the radio, opened the sun roof and drove home, falling in love all over again with side one of Bob Seger’s Night Moves.  So many memories flooded back…

The first was my Pledge Mom, Denise.  Yes, I was in a frat.  Sigma Nu, thank you very much.  She was from Detroit, (Yes, Julie is, too!) and so one of the gifts I got from her was a Bob Seger cassette… I thought for sure it was Night Moves, but it may have been Stranger In Town… so that MEMORY THING is happening… yikes. Regardless, both albums got a lot of play in my college dorm and then frat bedroom.

The other memory was that my Dad used to come into my bedroom to complain about the bass coming through the wall… “a preponderance of bass”… while my headsets were not plugged in, of course.  Well, I also got into classical music in college… and I remember him walking in one night, ready to have the bass conversation… geared up to ask me to turn the music down, when…

He opened the door.  Stopped.  And realized I was listening to classical music. He looked at me with a peculiar expression… Might have said “Hmmm”, and then just shut the door.

I had such utter joy driving home with the window and sun roof open. That is a rare occurance in LA… Joy while driving… AND being able to have the windows down without air pollution choking you and tearing up your eyes. But for that short and wonderful period of time… and the same during the show… life was good… simple… pure… and joyous.

If we could just hold on to that all of the time, we would all be so much happier. Realistic? No. Desireable? Hell yes!!! So do whatever you can to keep the air clean, the airwaves humming and the music playing.


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Silence = Death… Why Music, Words And Speaking Out Will Save Us

The media is having a field day with Donald Sterling’s heinous comments.  His message is disgusting and his beliefs are horrid.  The focus of most of this should certainly be on the message… and how we can learn from it and overcome it.  But it saddens me deeply that we are so far away from enlightenment… so far away from just looking at people as people… different, yes, but the same.

“If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh?
If you poison us, do we not die?
And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”

Okay, so maybe we need to work on that last part… Instead of revenge, perhaps we can evolve and grow and move to a higher plane.  Just a thought.  I am not saying to shy away from a fight, especially a fight that needs to be fought.  Hitler… Stalin… and unbelievably, there is still genocide in the world.  How is this happening?

Aren’t we are all tired?  Aren’t we over hatred and racism and sexism yet? If not, when can we be???  What’s the point of it, really?

This moron in Kansas went to kill Jews, and yet all three of those he murdered were not Jewish.  His warped ideas, anti-Semitism and bitter hatred lead him to kill those he might consider his own people.  There is no point.

None of us should ever say that one is better than another… that one color is better… one sex is better… one man marrying one woman is better… This is basic living 101… or at least it should be.  And how, after so damn long, is it not?  Why do we continue to hate so much?

If people live honorable lives, where they are just striving for love and peace and happiness, what negative effect does this possibly have on us???  If anything, this should be a beacon, a shining model of how to live.  Be happy and generous, love whenever you can, with an open mind and an open heart, and help people as often as you can… Help heal the world.  This is not some idealistic mumbo-jumbo.  This is simple and pure and powerful.

The saying goes, don’t kill the messenger… though in this case, she is a piece of work, too… apparently with a history of seducing old, rich men and getting money from them however she can.  The whole thing is repulsive.  And yes, it opens up a dialogue.  But I’ll be honest… I’m sick of the dialogue.  It’s redundant, and it should be unnecessary already… but frustratingly it is not.  Hate gets us nowhere and it is such a waste of time and energy.  Look what it does to our bodies… look at how stress literally breaks us down.

I’ve said this a bunch of times in the last week and I’ll say it again… “Life gives us tragedies, so let us not make our own.”

Once again we all have to speak up… and use our words to refute what one, ignorant and hate-filled man said.  And he is ONE man, in this instance.  He does not represent a gender or a religion or even a family.  He is one, misguided individual.  Please let us remember that.  I am okay with speaking up… In fact, I encourage it.  The power of language is strong.  It can change the world… and yes, the pen is mightier than the sword.  Or, in this case, the fingers on a keyboard…

I dream of when this is behind us… and I know I will not see the end of such hatred in my lifetime… but maybe… maybe my daughter will have such incredible fortune.  It will take words… honest, open words, and communication and respect.

From the beginning of those first musical notes, music was used to move people and bring them together.  It was also used to speak out in terms of protest songs.  Let songs lead us to a better place… a better world.  Music is something we can all share.  We do not always need the same language, to understand the message… all we need to do is listen… really listen.  Then sing.  I don’t care what notes you can hit or not… okay, maybe I do… but let your heart sing.  Let it out.

And yes, we need to speak up… we need to speak out…

But for the love of everything, let’s stop having the same conversation over and over… let’s get past the basics and move to something deeper and richer.

Silence is not the path.  Silence gets us nowhere.  In fact, it leads to horrible consequences, and so we must also use our words to express our own sadness and confusion and ailments.  Holding it all inside until it explodes and bubbles over is way too dangerous.  Just look around and see this for yourself… our neighborhoods, our family and friends and even in ourselves.

It is hard to understand the violence out in the world, yet if one watches the news every day it’s right in front of us… murders in Chicago… crime everywhere… and Maren Sanchez, a 16-year-old Connecticut honors student, stabbed to death, supposedly because she turned down a prom proposal.  This is when speaking up is essential.  Most reports are saying her killer was a good kid… no one saw it coming… and we hear that damn cliché way too much!!!  He was a quiet kid… he was a good kid… etc., etc.

Do people suddenly snap?  Clearly they do… and we do not want to all be paranoid alarmists… worried about the smallest things… and crying Wolf… but someone must have had some inkling… someone must have heard or saw something… maybe… And this kid himself must have felt something snap in his own mind… I have to believe that you cannot be that violent out of nowhere.

So please… speak up, speak out and confide in a friend or family member… or a stranger or a  help hotline.  Scream out for help as loud as you can.  We must not judge mental health nor any of these issues, for we do not yet fully understand them.  The mind is a powerful thing.  It can play tricks on all of us… mess with all of us.  Do not ever be afraid to ask for help.  Just look at the consequences when we don’t.

Not much about music today… sorry.  But these words needed to be spoken.  Perhaps they’ll wind up in a song… if not by me, by someone else.  However the message gets out there is key.  I guess I could say go and put on your favorite song… blast it out your windows… dance with your neighbors.  Share!

I’ll also say this:  Sing… scream… shout… but do not ever be silent!





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New Wave Wednesdays – It’s A World Filled With Madness… Just Make Sure It’s The Right Kind

If I see another article on this Ferry accident I may scream.  It is just so horrible and heartbreaking.  I know things need to be reported, but it is hard to ignore the sensationalism… or maybe that is just the way mainstream media feels these days.  It is fast and furious and in your face… and constantly on your computer, phone and tablet.  It is all over the place and all the time.  It is pervasive and depressing.

As I said the other day, “The world is filled with tragedy, don’t make your own.”

We need to be strong and happy, and build ourselves up, so when the inevitable bad times come, we can be prepared and balanced and better able to deal with them.

Someone else said, “Choose your battles.”  And so with the soon-to-be 14-year-old home “sick” I am trying to do just that… or not “battle” as the case may be… But anyone who has lived through a teenage girl, knows you are in the trenches… daily!  And yes, they can be truly EVIL.  Shout out to Debbie!  And all my other friends with teenage girls… Help me!

My daughter thinks I am some kind of idiot.  Everything I say causes an eye roll… and I try to explain to her that I would not have to repeat myself or nag, if she just did what I asked.  Oh man… I sound like MY MOTHER!  AAGGHH!

She borrows my things… returns them damaged… or doesn’t return them… and then denies any knowledge of ever having them.  And she would look me in the eye and say she doesn’t have it… while it was in her HAND!!!

Anyway, today is in need of some serious uplift.  And thus… I am all over a different kind of Madness!!!

Madness – Ultimate Collection

Again… this band is most definitely more Ska than New Wave… You can certainly hear the influences of The Specials… who I love… but when I built my list, courtesy of my brain and Wikipedia, they made the cut as a New Wave artist.

PS and by the way… I call my playlist In My ’80s… I think it’s clever.  Come on!!!

Today I am choosing three songs to focus on…

The very Ska “One Step Beyond”“It Must Be Love” and of course, the omnipresent “Our House.”  This is my favorite Madness tune, but also one of those iconic, flashback of my life songs.

Madness was much bigger in the UK than they were here… scoring 15 Top Ten singles there.  But luckily for us, we got the impact… a full ’80s impact!  If you are interested in stats… check this out… “Both Madness and UB40 spent 214 weeks on the UK singles charts over the course of the decade, holding the record for most weeks spent by a group in the 1980s UK singles charts. However, Madness achieved this in a shorter time period (1980–1986).”

1979 brought us their debut album One Step Beyond, as well as the hit single of the same title.

“Hey you!  Don’t watch that!  Watch this!”

Come on, who does not love that opening?!  And yes, this was a major staple video on MTV!

The band was just delightfully quirky and always seemed to be having a good time.  Yes, it is infectious… as is their music.  I cannot tell you how much more I enjoy a concert or performance or record, when you can see the band genuinely thrilled and happy and in love with what they are doing.  THIS is what it is about… finding joy and bliss in whatever we do.

I just started reading Dan Millman’s No Ordinary Moments: A Peaceful Warrior’s Guide to Daily Life.  What an outstanding philosophy for all of us to follow… finding the joy and specialness in each and every moment and day!

“It Must Be Love”

Yes, true, it’s not an original, but this 1981 cover of the 1971 hit by Labi Siffre is simply delightful.  I dare you not to smile… Go ahead… try!

This music is a lot of fun and I take a bit of offense at what Rolling Stone apparently said… According to Wikipedia:  “Rolling Stone was particularly scathing of the ska revival in general, stating that “The Specials wasn’t very good” and Madness were simply “the Blues Brothers with English accents.”  Umm… Ouch!!!

Wikipedia goes on to say that “In November 1982, they released their fourth studio album, The Rise & Fall, which was well received in the UK, but did not get an American release. Instead, many of its songs were included on the US compilation Madness, including “Our House”, which was their most internationally successful single to date. “Our House” reached number 5 in the UK music charts and number 7 in the US charts; it was also performed live on The Young Ones.  Many reviewers compared The Rise & Fall to The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society, and it is at times retrospectively considered a concept album. The album also featured “Primrose Hill”, which was more similar to The Beatles song “Strawberry Fields Forever”, containing similar psychedelic imagery and a layered arrangement.

Well you KNOW I love me some Kinks… one of my very favorite bands, so I am going to search this one out.  Of course, iTunes does not even have it… and the version on Amazon is a pricey double disc… so Amoeba Records… here I come!

In the meantime, you’ll just have to come inside and check out “Our House”, another video that was in constant rotation on MTV!

My only hope for you today is that this music makes you smile… and happy… and protects you from the evils of teenage girls.  Be safe out there.



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Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me

Random Acts Of Music – From Crowded House to “Ebony And Ivory” (What The… ???)

Today is part of a new series that will serve as a weekly post… Hopefully… Although based on its very nature, the days it pops up will be completely random.

Welcome to… (Drum Roll)… (Fanfare…)


For my regular readers, you may recall… Actually… Strike that… you BETTER recall the piece I did on my mind as a musical jukebox.  (See March 26, 2014 Post).

I am fascinated by the idea of how, when and why certain songs just POP into our brains.  I have this happen quite a lot as I am walking the dog.  I thought at first that perhaps I was hearing a song from a passing car, or somewhere in the distance and then just made it my own… but my neighborhood is fairly quiet, for the most part.  I know when I walk I am either chatting with someone or, more productively, and better for me… meditating… quieting my brain and focusing on the beauty that is around me…

But the mind is a loud and dangerous place… My thoughts race… and when they do, they are usually accompanied by a soundtrack.  Songs pop into my head, quite unexpectedly.  And while some have an obvious message… and lyrics that are perhaps being sent to remind me of some lesson I need to hear, and educate me and put me on a proper path, sometimes they are just there… for no apparent reason.

So this morning, somewhere in the middle of my dog walking journey… Crowded House popped into my mind… Specifically “Something So Strong.”  This makes sense, as my friend Janet, a huge Neil Finn fan, was blasting them all the way home from last week’s event at 100.3 The Sound.

Their album has always been one of my favorites, and I loved hearing Janet talk about the stories behind each tune… And now it is a family affair, as I am quite into Neil’s solo stuff, as well as that of his son, Liam Finn.

The lyrics are clearly timely and topical for me.  Hear are some snippets:

“Love can make you weep
Can make you run for cover.
Roots that spread so deep
Bring life to frozen ground.

Something so strong could carry us away
Something so strong could carry us today.

Turning in my sleep
Love can leave you cold
The taste of jealousy is like a lust for gold.
Something so strong could carry us away

I’ve been feeling so much older
Frame me and hang me on the wall.
I’ve seen you fall into the same trap
This thing is happening to us all”

Then my brain moved to “Don’t Dream It’s Over”… Okay, this is logical… going through the record, even if I am skipping a few songs and actually moving backwards up the tracks…

“There is freedom within, there is freedom without
Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
There’s a battle ahead, many battles are lost
But you’ll never see the end of the road
While you’re traveling with me

Hey now, hey now, don’t dream it’s over
Hey now, hey now, when the world comes in
They come, they come to build a wall between us
We know they won’t win.”

Damn!  More brilliant lyrics… stunning lyrics… and very timely… Okay, so my brain is much smarter than I am, if that makes sense.  At least my subconscious knows what I need, and what I need to hear.

So these two songs make perfect sense.  I know the catalyst, and revisiting the lyrics solidifies things… But then…

Then… really out of nowhere… I start singing “Ebony And Ivory.”  WHAT???  Where did that come from?  What is the meaning for me?

It’s a great message… one I am always pushing.  People need to live together in harmony… Sharing music would make us all get along so much better.

“We All Know That People Are The Same Where Ever We Go
There Is Good And Bad In Everyone,
We Learn To Live, We Learn To Give
Each Other What We Need To Survive, Together Alive.”

Okay… no idea why it popped into my brain as I was rounding the half way mark of the dog walk… but there it was… playing in my mind… and then coming out of my mouth… singing… out loud…

Luckily no one was around to question my sanity… but I enjoyed the musical stroll nonetheless.

I would love for you to keep track of your random songs… and then we can analyze them, together… like dreams…

We’ll call it Rock and Freud!

The mind is a powerful thing… the subconscious is fascinating… and if we calm our brain… quiet ourselves and get to a true neutral… a true peace… I honestly think we can lead ourselves out of trouble and onto the path to joy and bliss.  Come with me!









Love can make you weep
Can make you run for cover
Roots that spread so deep
Bring life to frozen groundSomething so strong could carry us away
Something so strong could carry us todayTurning in my sleep
Love can leave you cold
The taste of jealousy
Is like a lust for gold

Something so strong could carry us away
Something so strong could carry us today

I’ve been feeling so much older
Frame me and hang me on the wall
I’ve seen you fall into the same trap
This thing is happening to us all, yeah

Something so strong could carry us away
Something so strong could carry us today, yeah

Something so strong
Something so strong
Something so strong
Something so, so strong

Love can make you weep
Can make you run for cover
Roots that spread so deep
Bring life to frozen groundSomething so strong could carry us away
Something so strong could carry us todayTurning in my sleep
Love can leave you cold
The taste of jealousy
Is like a lust for gold

Something so strong could carry us away
Something so strong could carry us today

I’ve been feeling so much older
Frame me and hang me on the wall
I’ve seen you fall into the same trap
This thing is happening to us all, yeah

Something so strong could carry us away
Something so strong could carry us today, yeah

Something so strong
Something so strong
Something so strong
Something so, so strong

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Filed under Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me, Ramblings and Musings - The Really Random Stuff