Tag Archives: music

Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

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In 1963, the immortal Nat King Cole released an album titled “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer.” Though the album only rose to #14 on the Billboard’s LP chart, I recall that song perfectly well, even though I was just a kid in those days. There was a certain lift to the song…it lifted spirits and captured the innocent days of summer that were such a fond part of my life. The lyrics:

CHORUS: Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer

Just fill your basket full of sandwiches and weenies
Then lock the house up, now you’re set
And on the beach you’ll see the girls in their bikinis
As cute as ever but they never get ’em wet

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
You’ll wish that summer could always be here

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer

Don’t hafta tell a girl and fella about a drive-in
Or some romantic movie scene
Right from the moment that those lovers start arrivin’
You’ll see more kissin’ in the cars than on the screen

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
You’ll wish that summer could always be here
You’ll wish that summer could always be here
You’ll wish that summer could always be here!

Well, I was too young to know about drive-in’s and kissin’ girls and such stuff, but the chorus has never left my memory!

It is August 21. We have had a hot summer in the state of Georgia. Right now, our oldest son, who lives in Oregon, has been having triple-digit temperatures while we’ve been cooler than that here. And today, oh wonderful!, it is cooler here. There’s been a breeze blowing about all day and as I type this, the thunder is rolling through the treetops and the rain has begin to fall. The forecast for the next 15 days shows cooler weather than we’ve had nearly all summer…and that begins to hint to me that the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer may soon be starting to fade into the crispness of fall. I certainly hope so.

But there is something to be said for those summer days where children, like my two granddaughters in the photo I took, play away the days without a care in the world. Playing by the lakeside, eating bar-be-cue, laughing and goofing around…these are the kinds of days and things that I hope they will remember all the days of their lives – just as I recall the lyrics to this song!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1863 a ruthless band of guerillas attacked the town of Lawrence, Kansas, killing every man and boy in sight. The town was an abolitionist, pro-Union stronghold, and the guerillas, led by William Quantrill and William “Bloody Bill” Anderson,were said to have carried out the brutal attack on behalf of the Confederacy. Included in their group was Jesse James’ brother Frank and Cole Younger, who would later also play a large role in the James gang.

Bloody Bill Anderson got his name for his love of shooting unarmed and defenseless people. Reportedly, he carried multiple handguns, in addition to a saber and a hatchet. His horse was also outfitted with several rifles and backup pistols. Although he claimed to have political motives for his terrorism, Anderson more likely used the Civil War as an opportunity to kill without repercussion.

Jesse James, only 17 at the time, teamed up with Bloody Bill after he split from Quantrill’s band of killers. On September 27, 1864, their small splinter group terrorized and destroyed most of the town of Centralia, Missouri, and killed 22 Union solders.Later that day,they ambushed and killed 150 more Union men. A month later, Anderson paid for his crimes: He was caught by a full contingent of Union army troops in Missouri and killed in the ensuing battle. Jesse James was never brought to justice by the North for his war crimes and went on to become the 19th century’s most infamous criminal.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: why is it that we seldom seem to learn that the grass is NOT greener on the other side of the fence?  Over 75% of people who marry partners from an affair eventually divorce.

What We All Need

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Double click for a larger image…

Many of the songs on the radio, whether you are talking about rock, rap, country, jazz…the primary theme of most songs has something to do with love.  Everyone wants to be loved, and to have someone to love.  Maybe I didn’t say that strongly enough: we don’t just want to love and be loved – we all need it. Some folks never find love from another human, but they find it from a pet or from their God. What would a life be without love? How much would we be missing if we missed knowing and experiencing love.

At the Johns Creek Art Festival that we went to a bit over a week ago, one book had art that was taken from words from rock songs. Stills/Nash/Young, the Beatles, Lynyrd Skynard and others were represented. I thought it was rather creative, but I don’t know if he is violating copyright laws by doing this or not.  Still, it was interesting.

You didn’t grow up in my generation without knowing these songs. It was the greatest era of popular music ever, in my humble opinion.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1994, Susan Smith reported that she was carjacked in South Carolina by a man who took her two small children in the backseat of her car. Although authorities immediately began searching for three-year-old Michael and one-year-old Alex, they could find no trace of them or of Smith’s car. After nine days of intense national media attention, Smith finally confessed that the carjacking tale was false and that she had driven her Mazda into the John D. Long Lake in order to drown her children.

Both Susan and her husband, David Smith, who had had multiple affairs during their on-and-off relationship, had used their children as pawns in their tempestuous marriage. Apparently, Susan was involved with another man who did not want children, and she thought that killing her children was the only way to continue the relationship.

Ironically, Smith’s murder came to light because she had covered her tracks too well. While believing that the car and children would be discovered in the lake shortly after the search was started, she never anticipated that the authorities might not be able to find the car. After living under the pressure of the media’s scrutiny day after day, Smith buckled. She was convicted on two counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

In a book David Smith later wrote about the death of his children, Beyond All Reason, he expressed an ambiguous wish to see Susan on death row because he would never be able to relax and live a full life with her in prison.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: When Pluto was discovered in 1930, many people wrote in suggesting names for the new planet. Some suggestions were Cronus, Persephone, Erebus, Atlas, and Prometheus. Eleven-year-old Venetia Burney suggested the name Pluto. She thought it would be a good name since Pluto is so dark and far away, like the god of the underworld. On May 1, 1930, the name Pluto became official, and the little girl received a £5 note as a reward.

Oil-Can Geetar Man

Double click for a larger version of the oil can guitars...
Double click for a larger version of the oil can guitars…

“Who draws the crowd and plays so loud, baby, it’s the guitar man
Who’s gonna steal the show, you know, baby, it’s the guitar man
He can make you love, he can make you cry
He will bring you down and he’ll get you high
Somethin’ keeps him goin’ miles and miles a day
To find another place to play”

So sang the band, Bread, in Guitar Man. Billy Joel sang about the piano man. I would imagine that many of the main-line instruments have had people sing about them at one time or another. But I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone sing about the piccolo person, have you? Or they cymbals player? Why is that? I don’t get it!

Anyway, I shot this picture this past Saturday at the Johns Creek Art Festival in, of all places, Johns Creek, Georgia. It wasn’t really so much an art festival as a craft fair with lots of booths and people hawking their wares. There was some original art, some dance and music, but as an art festival, I was disappointed, but I did get some pictures, like this, that helped me feel better about it.

I don’t think that I’d ever seen oil cans built into guitars before. Of course, they are, I think, just works of art and not really playable, but I wonder what they would sound like, don’t you?

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1944, two liquid gas tanks exploded in Cleveland, Ohio, killing 130 people. It took all of the city’s firefighters to bring the resulting industrial fire under control.

At 2:30 p.m., laboratory workers at the East Ohio Gas Company spotted white vapor leaking from the large natural gas tank at the company plant near Lake Erie. The circular tank had a diameter of 57 feet and could hold 90 million cubic feet of the highly flammable gas. Ten minutes later, a massive and violent explosion rocked the entire area. Flames went as high as 2,500 feet in the air. Everything in a half-mile vicinity of the explosion was completely destroyed.

Shortly afterwards, a smaller tank also exploded. The resulting out-of-control fire necessitated the evacuation of 10,000 people from the surrounding area. Every firefighting unit in Cleveland converged on the East Ohio Gas site. It still took nearly an entire day to bring the fire under control. When the flames went out, rescue workers found that 130 people had been killed by the blast and nearly half of the bodies were so badly burned that they could not be identified. Two hundred and fifteen people were injured and required hospitalization.

The explosion had destroyed two entire factories, 79 homes in the surrounding area and more than 200 vehicles. The total bill for damages exceeded $10 million. The cause of the blast had to do with the contraction of the metal tanks: The gas was stored at temperatures below negative 250 degrees and the resulting contraction of the metal had caused a steel plate to rupture.

Newer and safer techniques for storing gas and building tanks were developed in the wake of this disaster.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: According to Irish legend, Jack O’Lanterns are named after a stingy man named Jack who, because he tricked the devil several times, was forbidden entrance into both heaven and hell. He was condemned to wander the Earth, waving his lantern to lead people away from their paths.

…Rockin’ It!

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Double click for a larger version…

Music is everywhere.  You can’t hardly go anyplace anymore without seeing people with ear buds crammed into their ears.  Go to the gym – there they are.  Go to the store or for a walk – you’ll see them all around you.  Even go to a fast food restaurant and they you will see them.  People seem to be addicted to music and given the availability of iPods and smart phones that can store entire music libraries (and more) on a flat card no bigger than your thumbnail, people are listening to music more than ever before.  (Well, listening to something…not all of what they listen to is music to my way of thinking!)  Just tonight, my wife and I went out to eat at a fish restaurant and they had ’50’s and ’60’s music piped in and it was great…but you know what?  Sitting there with her own headphones on was a young girl of maybe 15 at most, and I couldn’t help but wonder what she was listening to?  The music that was being played was great stuff…and I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Take your headphones off and listen to some good music instead of whatever modern junk you’re listening to!”

But, I digress.  When I went to the studio the other day to do some shooting, one of the models was handed a set of headphones and she put them on.  She started striking poses and I rather liked this one.  She gives the impression of being “moved” by the music with her right arm outstretched, grasping a shawl-like-thingy, and she seems to be starting to dance.  I liked the image.  It seemed like she was free – and that’s one of the things that music does for us, isn’t it?  The cares of the world seem to be lifted a bit when we hear music!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1815, Philip Kearny, one of the most promising generals in the Union army, was born in New York City. Raised in a wealthy family, Kearny attended Columbia University and became a lawyer.

Although his grandfather refused to allow him to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Kearny enrolled a year after his grandfather’s death in 1836. A superb horseman, Kearny served on the frontier before being sent to study at the French Cavalry School. After serving with the French in Algiers, he returned to the U.S. Army.

Kearny resigned from military duty in 1846 but quickly rescinded the request when war between the United States and Mexico erupted. Although he lost an arm at the Battle of Churubusco, Kearny earned a reputation as a brilliant and gallant cavalry officer.

In 1851, Kearny retired to his New Jersey estate but could not resist the temptations of military service. He joined Napoleon III’s Imperial Guard in 1859 and fought with the French in Italy. When the Civil War broke out, he returned to the United States and accepted a commission as brigadier general. Kearny served with the Army of the Potomac during the Seven Days’ Battles in 1862 and was promoted to major general in July 1862. Now in command of a division, Kearny was part of the Union defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run in August 1862.

On September 1, 1862, the 47-year-old Kearny was killed when he accidentally rode behind Confederate lines at Chantilly, Virginia. Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who had witnessed Kearny’s daring battlefield exploits in Mexico, returned his body under a flag of truce. Lee later bought Kearny’s saber, saddle, and horse from the Confederate Quartermaster Department, and returned them to Kearny’s wife.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the exact death toll from the “Black Plague” is uncertain, but the number of deaths varied considerably by area and depending on the source. Current estimates are that between 75 and 200 million people died from the plague.  It wasn’t called the “Black Plague” by those who experienced it first hand.  It was then known as “The Great Mortality” or “the Pestilence.”

I Need a Songbird

OK, folks…I’m not feeling very well this evening.  You know how it is when you feel like the aches and pains of flu are starting to sneak their way into your muscles and bones?  Well, that’s me tonight.  It’s been growing all day long…and now I feel like the pits.

So, I’m just going to share a picture that makes my heart happy and feel good, even if the rest of me feels cruddy.  This is one of my grand-daughters on the day that she got a “Karaoke” microphone.  It was so fun to watch her transmogrify from the very bouncy, energetic, beautiful girl she is into a sultry songbird as soon as the microphone hit her hands!

It (SHE) makes me smile!  I will love her always!!!!!!

SongbirdON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Composer Stephen Foster was found critically ill in his hotel room three days earlier, and on this date, died in Bellevue Hospital, New York, at age 37. He only had 35 cents in his pocket, along with a little slip of paper on which he had written, “Dear friends and gentle hearts.” While never a great composer, Foster wrote many of the popular songs of the era which remained a part of Americana for more than a century, including Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair, Oh! Susanna, My Old Kentucky Home, and Old Folks at Home, also known as Swanee River. He became a heavy drinker, suffered from tuberculosis, and lapsed into obscurity. His last song, Beautiful Dreamer, which he penned just a few days before his death, joined his earlier classics.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The early European umbrellas were made of wood or whalebone and covered with alpaca or oiled canvas.

If You’re Goin’ to San Francisco…

Today I will once again venture bravely into dangerous territory: you’ll get a sense for how OLD I really am!!!

I lived through the greatest explosion of music perhaps in history, in the ’60’s and ’70’s.  The Beatles, the Stones, Herman’s Hermits, the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, the Supremes, Sly and the Family Stone, the Dave Clark Five (in my opinion, they could have been really great), the Eric Burden and the Animals…the list could go on and on for a long, long time.

I lived in a somewhat sleepy town, Antioch, CA, just in the edge of California’s great Central Valley.  That meant we were about an hour from the big city – San Francisco.  It was the era of hippies and free love, Haight-Ashbury, the poetry of Rod McKuen and flower-power.  If you don’t know what all those things were, well, you’re just a young punk kid – and you missed out on one of the most exciting periods in history.

There was a song by Scott McKenzie that glorified the times.  The title was “San Francisco (Be Sure and Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)”.  It was HUGE.  The lyrics went like this:

“If you’re going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you’re going to San Francisco
You’re gonna meet some gentle people there

“For those who come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there
In the streets of San Francisco
Gentle people with flowers in their hair

“All across the nation such a strange vibration
People in motion
There’s a whole generation with a new explanation
People in motion people in motion

“For those who come to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there.

“If you come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there.”

Today’s photo reminds me of that song.  This is one more mask that I shot at the Renaissance Fair last Saturday (maybe the last one I’ll show).  This lady, instead of having barnacles or sea shells in her hair, has flowers.  Takes me back…

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1913, President Woodrow Wilson triggered the explosion of the Gamboa Dam, ending the construction of the Panama Canal.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: insects exert so much energy in one hour of flying that they can lose 1/3rd of its total body weight.  What a great way to diet – if we humans could only fly!!!!

 

A Hazy Shade of Winter

They are lyrics I could sing in my sleep.  I grew up with them as did my high school classmates.  I’ve written before about what I consider the most amazing explosion of great popular music in history: the period of the 60’s-70’s.  Just recall a few of the names: Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Who, the Supremes, Peter/Paul/Mary, the Four Tops, Simon and Garfunkel…and the list could go on and on and on.  It was an era of unequalled musical creativity and sound.

I was listening to some Simon and Garfunkel this afternoon on my headphones.  My, how it took me back!  I could see the faces of my friends (most still living, but some now gone) at the parties we attended in high school where their music would be playing.  The faces in my mind were still young.  We were thin.  We were healthy.  We were excited about the future and the seemingly endless possibilities that awaited us just around the corner.

Then, Hazy Shade of Winter came on.  The lyrics always moved me in some way that I couldn’t describe as a teenager, partly because as teens, we cannot envision or imagine the fall/winter of our lives.  We couldn’t imagine heart problems, diabetes, strokes, anurysms, or cancer.  Such things, we believed, would never be able to touch us.

Now, we know better.  Here’s some of the lyrics to the song.  It’ll probably stir memories in your heart if you lived through those turbulent, wonderful, amazing times as I did.

Time, time, time, see what’s become of me
While I looked around
For my possibilities
I was so hard to please
But look around, leaves are brown
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter.

Clouds gather and fall and winter come…

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1040, King Duncan was murdered by Macbeth, who went on to rule for 17 years.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  in 1909, American Annie Smith Peck, 57 years young, became the first person to climb 21,000 foot Mt. Huascaran, the highest peak in Peru.

Wine, Music and Thou

The trilogy of wine, music and thou (a woman) has long been a popular saying.  Living in wine country, one gets used to seeing vineyards, wineries and flowing wine nearly everywhere.  At one point during my church upbringing, I was totally convinced that wine (or any beverage containing alcohol) was the very tool of the devil himself.  And, for many people, it is.  There are those who can’t control their drinking, and it leads to all sorts of troubles for themselves and others.  Much mischief can be laid at the root of the grape or barley.

That being said, living in California’s wine country is nice.  It’s beautiful all year.  When the California grasses/weeds turn brown around the first of June, the vines are flourishing with green leafiness.  And in the fall the vines turn gorgeous colors, and then in winter, they are pruned and stripped back and you can see row after row of just the main part of the vine.  And even in many churches the attitude towards wine is different.  For example, shortly after moving up here, I was talking the minister at another church who had moved up from southern California.  He told me one of the things that let him know he had moved to a different environment was when he went to a church leader’s meeting and they asked him if he wanted red or white….wine, of course!

Last night (Tuesday) we went to the final concert in the square in Healdsburg.  It was the first time we’ve done that in Healdsburg, though we often go to the Friday Night Live gathering here in Cloverdale.  The entertainers last night were the great Tom Rigney and Flambeau, playing blues, jazz and zydeco.  They were really terrific!

Since I love music and I’m not much of a dancer (another thing that I grew up thinking was anathema, so I never learned to dance!), I took my camera to entertain myself.  People were EVERYWHERE, enjoying the music, dancing, food and…wine.  Today’s photo was of three wine glasses that just capture the spirit of the event, so voila!, here you go.  Oh, and I didn’t pose these glasses…I just saw them sitting on a ledge and fired!

A vision in glass...and by the glass...

ON THIS DATE IN HISTORY: in 1557 in the Spanish-French wars, the French lost 14,000 in a battle with the Spanish known as the battle of San Quentin.  The Spanish lost 50 men.  Maybe the French really are better lovers than fighters!

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: in 625 BC, metal coins were introduced in Greece – replacing grain (mostly wheat and barley) as the medium of exchange.  They were much lighter than carrying around sacks of grain, and didn’t get moldy, either!!!!