On Loss & Grief

October 31st, 2014

We all, through the courses of our lives, lose people whom we love: Parents, maybe spouses, sometimes children, certainly friends, and often lovers. When the lost one is young, the loss carries with it as well the loss of possibility, of what that young person could have built with his or her life. All of us left behind grieve the absence, yes, but we also grieve for the spouse never chosen, the children never born, the jobs never won, the music never heard. And we learn that with the passage of years, grief does become less acute, but we also learn that – like a radioactive isotope with its half-life – grief never really goes away.

That may be the final gift of grief: that it never fully goes away, that despite the passage of time it always reminds us of what we had in those who were taken from us, and it does so more and more gently with each passing year.

And we remember.

Text adapted from a May 2013 post.
Music: “We” by Shawn Phillips, 1972.

Chart Digging, Late October 1974

October 30th, 2014

The Billboard Top Ten from the last days of October 1974 is mostly very familiar:

“You Haven’t Done Nothin” by Stevie Wonder
“You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive
“Jazzman” by Carole King
“The Bitch Is Back” by Elton John
“Can’t Get Enough” by Bad Company
“Whatever Gets You Through The Night” by John Lennon with the Plastic Ono Nuclear Band
“Steppin’ Out (Gonna Boogie Tonight)” by Tony Orlando & Dawn
“Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
“Stop And Smell The Roses” by Mac Davis
“Tin Man” by America

That’s a hell of a top six, and even with a little bit of slightness packed around the iconic “Sweet Home Alabama” at No. 8, that’s a surprisingly good Top Ten. I heard almost all of it at the time, mostly from the jukebox in the snack bar at St. Cloud State’s Atwood Center, where I hung with the folks at The Table before and after (and sometimes during) classes. As for radio, I listened to KDWB in the car and, I think, WJON in the evenings. Even so, I don’t recall hearing the Wonder record a lot, and, having done a bit of excavating at YouTube, I think I can safely say that I never noticed “Steppin’ Out (Gonna Boogie Tonight)” until this morning.

So what do we find on the other end of that Hot 100, which came out on November 2, 1974? We’ll look for love songs, because that’s what was on my mind during the last week of October 1974.

Well, at the very bottom of the list, bubbling under at No. 110, we find a very sweet piece of soul on the Capricorn label in Percy Sledge’s “I’ll Be Your Everything.” The record, the last of seventeen that Sledge placed in or near the Hot 100 (starting in 1966 with the immortal “When A Man Loves A Woman”), would eventually climb to No. 62 (and to No. 15 on the R&B chart).

A few steps up to No. 107, we find a little bit tougher piece of bluesy soul in “I Keep On Lovin’ You” by Z.Z. Hill. It only got as high as No. 104 (No. 39, R&B). That’s about the way it went for Hill, a Texas-born singer who passed on in 1984. Of ten singles listed by Joel Whitburn in Top Pop Singles, only two actually reached the Hot 100, both in 1971: “Don’t Make Me Pay For His Mistakes” went to No. 62 (No. 17, R&B) and “I Need Someone (To Love Me)” went to No. 86 (No. 30, R&B). The other eight singles listed all bubbled under. I don’t know that I’ve heard all of the ten singles listed, but I’m pretty sure I’d like each one of them.

Three more steps up, we find a sweet piece of jazz, as Bob James’ take on “Feel Like Making Love” sat at No. 104. Roberta Flack’s version of the song had gone to No. 1 in August 1974, but James’ cover made it only to No. 88. That’s not surprising, I guess, but man, that’s a sweet piece of work! James’ only other record in or near the Hot 100 was “I Feel A Song (In My Heart),” a 1975 single with vocals from Patti Austin that bubbled under at No. 105. (The link is to the track from the album One. The single edit, according to its label, ran 3:09.)

Heading upward into the Hot 100 itself, we find ourselves some early disco. Gloria Gaynor’s cover of the Jackson 5’s “Never Can Say Goodbye” was sitting at No. 86, heading for its peak at No. 9. It would eventually be, of course, Gaynor’s second-best charting record, as “I Will Survive” topped the chart for three weeks in early 1979. (As with the Bob James’ record, the link here is to the track from Gaynor’s album of the time, also titled Never Can Say Goodbye. The single’s label gave a running time of 2:55.)

Two spots north from Gaynor’s single, at No. 87, we find the Dells’ “Bring Back The Love Of Yesterday” with an introduction that can only be described as Barry White Lite. After that misstep, though, the record settles into a groove that gets the foot tapping and a lyric that goes for the heartstrings (with maybe only middling success). It’s a decent record, but it’s certainly not 1968’s “Stay In My Corner” or 1969’s “Oh, What A Night,” both of which the Dells took to No. 10 (Nos. 4 and 1 on the R&B chart, respectively). “Bring Back The Love Of Yesterday” went no higher in the Hot 100 and didn’t make it into the R&B Top 40.

Finally, Sammy Johns tells us about “Early Morning Love” at No. 69. The record was the third single released from his 1973 self-titled album: “Chevy Van” and “Rag Doll” had missed the charts in 1973. In 1975, of course, a re-release of “Chevy Van” would go to No. 5. So I kind of hear “Early Morning Love,” which peaked one spot higher at No. 68, as Johns telling the tale of how things were in that van when the sun came up the next morning.

A Mentor Gone

October 28th, 2014

If you were to ask me who my most important teachers were, E. Scott Bryce would have been on the short list, perhaps at the top. During one of the most important seasons of my life – the autumn of 1975 – he guided me through maybe the most important class I’ve ever taken. I wrote about it a few years ago:

Among my classes that fall quarter was one in the history of the documentary film. We spent hours watching documentary films – from Robert Flaherty’s 1922 masterpiece, Nanook of the North – considered by most historians as the first true documentary – through 1971’s The Selling of the Pentagon, a television effort by CBS News. Some of the films were art; I think of Rain, a 1920s film by Joris Ivens (and the fact that these titles and names come back to me unbidden makes me realize again how important that class was to me) that detailed an everyday rainstorm in his hometown of Amsterdam, Holland. Some of them were something darker: The Triumph of the Will by Leni Riefenstahl chronicled the 1934 Congress of the German Nazi Party at Nuremberg and was – viewed with knowledge of the tragedy and horror that ensued – a chilling, powerful and dark piece of work.

Not only did we watch films, but we wrote about them. Each student was required during the quarter to submit a certain number – eight, maybe? – of brief critiques of the films we were seeing and one longer critique. The short papers were required to be two to three typed pages, double-spaced, and the longer paper, about ten pages. Not yet being skilled at composing my work at the typewriter, I wrote – actually printed – my critiques on notebook paper. And as I pondered and assessed the films we were seeing, I realized that, although writing was work, it was work I enjoyed, because it gave me the opportunity to move words around into forms and orders that were mine alone.

I remember the first time I realized that: I was writing a critique of Rain, the brief film shot in 1920s Amsterdam, and I was assessing the pacing of the film. I wrote that the film moved through the streets “with a calm urgency, like the rain.” I paused and looked at my words on paper, especially that “calm urgency.” Something about the way those words looked, sounded and read together gripped me tightly. . . . I’m sure other writers before – many others – had found that combination of those two words and gone ahead from there. But for the moment, that set of two words was mine.

That was the moment that I began to think of myself as a writer.

And that moment would not have happened without the guidance of Mr. Bryce. His penciled comments on my papers throughout that quarter helped me sharpen my skills. He pointed out logical fallacies, unclear pronouns, singular/plural disagreements, and wandering and fuzzy thought. He also complimented me for things I did right, some of which I had no idea I was doing. (He wrote once something like, “I love your use of thesis and antithesis where it’s least expected.” I never told him it was a happy accident.)

Along with the course on documentary film and courses in filmmaking, Mr. Bryce taught broadcast newswriting, announcing and radio production. I took them all, and although I never worked professionally in broadcasting, I gained from all of those classes an appreciation for attention to detail. And I gained from the newswriting and announcing courses an appreciation for the sounds of words, a sense that served me well when I added a print journalism minor and headed toward the world of newspaper reporting and editing.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that everything I’ve ever written since the autumn of 1975 has on it the fingerprints of E. Scott Bryce.

I last saw Mr. Bryce about ten years ago, when the Texas Gal and I met him and his wife for dinner in downtown St. Cloud. We thought about getting together again with the two of them, especially after Mr. Bryce and his wife moved into an assisted living center not far from us. But that never got any further than thought, and now it won’t happen: E. Scott Bryce passed on yesterday. He was 87.

Mr. Bryce was one of the moving forces in getting KVSC, the St. Cloud State radio station, on the air in 1967. The station’s primary programming for its first five years was classical music, which he loved, and it was a painful day for him when, in the spring of 1972, we on the radio staff voted to play rock instead. In my later college years, as I got to know Mr. Bryce, I always wondered if I should apologize for my small part in that decision. And in the late 1980s, when he and I were teaching colleagues for a time, I thought frequently about thanking him for his guidance and encouragement – in other words, for being a teacher.

I never did either, and, of course, I can’t now. All I can do is offer a farewell. And I’ll do so with the Largo movement of Symphony No. 9 “From The New World,” written in 1893 by Antonín Dvorák, a movement often called “Goin’ Home.”

Saturday Single No. 416

October 25th, 2014

Not much time to dally here: It’s autumn baseball day here today.

In a couple of hours, Rick, Rob and Dan will be here for the autumn installment of our twice-annual Strat-O-Matic baseball tournaments. If Rob is to be believed from his emails, he’s going to bypass the two-time defending champions, the 1920 Indians, in favor of two new teams, thus abandoning the Indians’ chances of being the first team to win three consecutive titles. We’ll see what happens when he gets here.

Until then, however, I’ll assume that he’s going to bring the 1936 Yankees and 1998 Astros into the tourney, two new and very good teams. Rick is bringing back one of his old favorites, the 1954 Indians, and adding to the mix the 2003 Cubs. Dan is going with one of his frequent favorites, the 1998 Braves, and adding the 2001 Mariners to his stable.

And I’m going to counter with the return of the 2006 Minnesota Twins and add to my cluster of (so-far-unsuccessful) teams the 2004 Red Sox.

Along the way, of course, we’ll sip some beer, eat some barbecue and potato salad, and tell tales and laugh. And one of those eight teams will win the tournament sometime around five o’clock this afternoon.

So, all we need is a tune. The lyrics don’t necessarily fit, but the title does, so here’s Aztec Two-Step’s 1975 track “It’s Going On Saturday,” and it’s today’s Saturday single.

Chart Digging, October 23, 1961

October 23rd, 2014

As my stint in third grade went through its second month, I’m not entirely sure what was on my mind beyond basic third-grade business. When I look at the Billboard Hot 100 from this date in 1961, I see many familiar titles, but I know that very few of them would have been familiar to me back then, when I was eight.

The Top Ten has some gems (and a few limpers) in it:

“Runaround Sue” by Dion
“Bristol Stomp” by the Dovells
“Big Bad John” by Jimmy Dean
“Hit The Road, Jack” by Ray Charles
“Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)” by Sue Thompson
“This Time” by Troy Shondell
“I Love How You Love Me” by the Paris Sisters
“Let’s Get Together” by Hayley Mills & Hayley Mills
“Ya Ya” by Lee Dorsey
“The Fly” by Chubby Checker

There are three on that list that I might have known about as they sat in the Top Ten: “Runaround Sue” is one of those, simply for its popularity, though I’m not at all certain. Hayley Mills’ duet with herself from the first iteration of the movie The Parent Trap did catch my attention for a couple of reasons: We had the comic book version of the movie at home – my sister had bought it but I enjoyed it, too – and, having seen Ms. Mills in Pollyanna the year before, I had an eight-year-old’s crush on the young British actress. Still, I recall hearing the record only a couple of times, and listening to it today was, frankly, painful both in terms of content and performance. (Here is the YouTube link if you feel the need to check for yourself.)

Then there was Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John.” A spoken word tale of the archetypal quiet big man who sacrifices himself for his workmates, the record was, I think, a phenomenon, a judgment that seems accurate based on vague memory and on its chart performance: Five weeks at No. 1 on the pop chart, two weeks at No. 1 on the country chart and nine weeks at No. 1 on the adult contemporary chart.

Here’s a clip of Dean performing the song on his own television program, The Jimmy Dean Show, in 1963:

I likely heard the record on WCCO back in late 1961 when it was riding high on the AC chart, but I have to admit I didn’t get the story until a few years later, when the song showed up on a cheapie album by a group called the Deputies on the Wyncote label. The Wyncote album, titled Ringo, was put out to capitalize on Lorne Greene’s 1964 hit, and when I heard “Big Bad John” then, the narrative was clear (although I wondered for some time what a “Cajun queen” was).

(Along with “Ringo” and “Big Bad John,” the Wyncote album contained a lot of public domain material. I played the record a while back, and it’s still in pretty good shape, so I tried to rip it to mp3s, but there was a persistent hiss, which, I’ve read, is chronic problem with Wyncote LPs from that era.)

Anyway, from the Top Ten, I thought I’d drop to the lower portions of the Hot 100 from fifty-three years ago today and see if there was anything down there I might have recognized at the time. Surprisingly, there was.

I’ve mentioned on occasion that during the early 1960s, my sister – three years older than I – would sometimes pick up a bag of bargain 45s at Musicland or Dayton’s or wherever she found them during a trip to the Twin Cities. And I recall that one of those bargain bags brought her a copy of “Let There Be Drums” by Sandy Nelson.

Nelson’s surf-washed instrumental would eventually climb to No. 7, but fifty-three years ago today, it was just starting its climb and was bubbling under at No. 105. The bargain bag that brought the record to Kilian Boulevard was likely purchased sometime in early 1962, after the record had passed its peak. So while I might not have heard “Let There Be Drums” when it was on the chart, it didn’t have to wait ten to twenty years – as did many other records of the time – to reach my ears.

‘Our Love’s Got No Reason . . .’

October 22nd, 2014

When I started digging into the song “Even A Fool Would Let Go,” I figured I’d find more versions out in the world than I did. It’s a great song, I thought, with a catchy hook musically and lyrically. (In a post last week, I featured the 1974 original by Gayle McCormick and the 1982 cover by Levon Helm that brought the song to my attention.)

But it’s a song that’s never gotten much attention – I’ve found eight more covers so far, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the well is dry after those eight – nor has it had any presence that I could find on the major Billboard charts.

Nor, among the few covers I’ve found, have I found anything that grabs me very hard. Three years after McCormick first recorded the song, Kerry Chater – one of the song’s co-writers – released his version on Part Time Love, but the album got little attention. (A single release of the title track got to No. 97 on the Billboard Hot 100.)

Sporadic covers showed up for a little more than a decade. Among those I’ve listened to without much interest are versions by Kenny Rogers (1978), Dionne Warwick (1981) the Marshall Tucker Band (1982), Gloria Gaynor (1982) and Joe Cocker (1984). The worst of that bunch is the lifeless take on the tune by the Marshall Tucker Band, although Rogers’ cover was dull, as well.

Was there anything good? Well, I found a few covers that piqued my interest. Dolly Parton did a nice take on the tune on her Dolly, Dolly, Dolly album in 1980, and I find myself intrigued by the version country singer John Anderson offered on his 1985 album Tokyo, Oklahoma.

Finally, I took a listen – not for the first time – to the cover of the song offered in 1990 by the British folk-rock duo Clive Gregson and Christine Collister on their album Love Is A Strange Hotel. It doesn’t blow me away, but the duo’s very spare approach offers another way into the song than I’d heard elsewhere.

Saturday Single No. 415

October 18th, 2014

As I did the dishes Thursday afternoon, I kept track of the tunes coming from the little mp3 player so I could post the list on Facebook. I no longer offer Dishwashing Music daily, but I do so maybe twice a week these days, usually when the player gives me an intriguing set of songs.

Thursday’s set was just that: “It Don’t Come Easy” by Ringo Starr, “Get Together” by the Youngbloods, “Pain” by the Mystics, “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty, “No Time” by the Guess Who, “The Boxer” by Simon & Garfunkel and “The Ballad Of Casey Deiss” by Shawn Phillips. I chose to highlight the Shawn Phillips track, as I hadn’t heard it for a while.

And as I searched at YouTube for a video of the tune and then listened to it to make sure it would work for my post, I wondered idly when Phillips – a Texan who currently lives in South Africa – would make his way back to Minnesota for some performances. He came through St. Cloud a few years ago, and I somehow missed it. Shaking my head regretfully, I finished the Facebook post and went on with my afternoon.

The Texas Gal came home, and I walked across the street to check on the mail. When I came back in, she was on the phone with someone. That someone said something funny and she laughed, and as she did, she handed the phone to me. The caller, it turned out, was my long-time pal Rick, calling from the southern Minnesota town of Kenyon, where he and his family moved a couple of years ago.

After some pleasantries, he told me the news: Shawn Phillips was playing a concert Saturday (today) in the small town of Zumbrota, about seventeen miles east of Kenyon. “Zumbrota?” I asked.

“I know, I know,” Rick said. “It’s weird. But that’s how Phillips is. He finds small venues when he’s around Minnesota.”

That’s true, and it’s part of Phillips’ continuing affection for Minnesota, which for some reason was one of the few places – along with his native Texas – where his records sold well and his concerts were well-attended back in the early 1970s, when his unique combination of rock and folk brought him some attention and some sales.

Phillips’ chart presence was not massive: Between 1971 and 1976, four of his albums reached the Billboard 200; two others bubbled under, including my favorite, 1970’s Second Contribution; two of his singles reached the Billboard Hot 100 during those years, and two others bubbled under. Nevertheless, whenever he came through St. Cloud in those years, tickets to his shows were hard to get.

“So,” Rick continued, “there are a bunch of us going.” He mentioned a few names, and they were folks I know, some fairly well. “And,” he went on, “I was wondering if you wanted to come down and see the show. I’ll cover the ticket. I figure I owe you a ticket to see Shawn Phillips.”

Well, that was true. Back in May of 1972, I had a pair of tickets on my dresser for a weeknight Phillips concert in St. Cloud State’s Stewart Hall, one for me and one for Rick. On the Saturday evening before – and I feel as if I’ve told this tale here before although I couldn’t find it in the blog’s Word files – I saw Rick standing at the corner of his lawn, seemingly waiting for someone. I walked across the street to chat with him as he waited, and he invited me to a party – a kegger – in a place called Hidden Valley somewhere near the small town of Sartell, which at that time was about ten miles north of St. Cloud. (The cities have expanded during the past forty-two years and now border each other.)

I tagged along to the party with Rick and came home sometime after midnight, drunk and ill. My parents, to understate things, were not amused. I was grounded for the next week: Home from college right after work each day, no evening excursions, no friends visiting, no phone calls. Well, I deserved some kind of discipline, and I could still see my (potential) girlfriend during the day. The only thing that would really hurt would be missing Shawn Phillips.

I got my tickets to Rick. I think my folks called him, and he came over and picked them up. He says I dropped them to him out of my bedroom window, which is a far better tale, so we’ll go with that. I don’t know who used the ticket that would have been mine. As it happened, KVSC, the college radio station, broadcast Phillips’ show from Stewart Hall, so on the night of the concert, I was able to hear his performance. But it would have been far better to be there. So, yes, Rick was correct as we talked on the phone two days ago: He owed me a ticket to a Shawn Phillips concert.

Zumbrota, however, is 130 miles away, a lengthy drive for me. I’d stay a night in a hotel in Kenyon owned by one of Rick’s in-laws, and hotel stays present their own challenges for me. And I’ve just barely gotten over whatever bug it was that laid me cross-wise this past week. So for reasons of budget and health, I had to decline the offer. Rick understood. We talked a bit about an upcoming Strat-O-Matic get-together in St. Cloud, and then I told him to enjoy the Shawn Phillips show. And I told him that the long-standing debt is no longer on the books.

All of that, then, made it easy to find a tune for this morning. Here, from Shawn Phillips’ 1970 album Second Contribution, is “The Ballad of Casey Deiss,” and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘My Love’s Got No Season . . .’

October 16th, 2014

As far as I know, the first time I ran into the very good song “Even A Fool Would Let Go” was in February of 1990, when I happened upon a copy of Levon Helm’s self-titled 1982 album in Anoka, Minnesota. The album didn’t entirely impress me – I think it’s one of Levon’s lesser efforts, which is kind of a mystery, given the presence of the Muscle Shoals crew and Steve Cropper and production by Duck Dunn – but the song, the third track on the album, grabbed me:

And as Levon’s version came to my attention in the past few days, I thought I’d dig around a little bit. The song, written by Kerry Chater and Tom Snow, was first recorded by Gayle McCormick, the former lead singer for Smith, for her 1974 album One More Hour.

There are more covers beyond Levon’s, of course, although not as many as I thought there would be. But my attention is flagging this morning, and the painters are here. I’ll get back to “Even A Fool Would Let Go” in one of the next few days.

Some R&B From Deep In ’74

October 14th, 2014

Shoe shoe shine used to cost a dime, a penny could buy you plenty.

So goes the hook from “Shoe Shoe Shine” by the Dynamic Superiors, a Washington, D.C., group that recorded for Motown. Forty years ago this week, the single was bubbling under the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 104. The record would peak at No. 68 during the first week of December 1974 and go to No. 16 on the R&B chart:

It caught my ear this morning because the lyrics of the record seem to sum up, perhaps a bit obliquely, the general sense in 1974 that things in the U.S. weren’t going so well. (And if they weren’t going so well for the white middle class in which I was firmly ensconced, they were no doubt worse for folks of color.)

First of all
Let’s get one thing straight
All the things you desire
Will have to come late

Ain’t handing you no jive
Telling you it is what it ain’t
Pretending I can do things
That I, oh, that I can’t

But I remember (I remember)
I remember (I remember)

Shoe shoe shine used to cost a dime
A penny could buy you plenty
A nickel was the fare
To take you anywhere
Troubles, we didn’t have many

I may not have much to speak of
But there’ll always be plenty of love

You might as well get
Rid of those crazy ideas
Rainy days will outnumber
The ones you see clear

The picture in your dreams, no
That ain’t the way it’s gonna be
When you sit in your lucky chair
All you may have is me

Telling the story (telling the story)
Of glory (of glory) when
Shoe shoe shine used to cost a dime
A penny could buy you plenty
A nickel was the fare
To take you anywhere
Troubles, we didn’t have many

It’s a sadly sweet record with a great hook, written and produced by the team of Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, and one might think that given all its positives – including its unflinching assessment of life in 1974 – that it should have done better in the chart. But I say that a lot, and as good as the record is, there were in 1974 – like always – hundreds of records with a similar sound (if not the same message) fighting for airplay.

Unsurprisingly, I don’t recall ever hearing the record before. I don’t know if it got airplay on KDWB or WJON, but I kind of doubt it, and I wasn’t listening to those stations much anymore, anyway. I was getting my music that autumn mostly from my LPs (collecting the work of the Allman Brothers Band was that season’s goal) and from the jukebox at St. Cloud State’s Atwood Center. And by the time “Shoe Shoe Shine” entered the Hot 100 in early November, I wasn’t listening to much of anything for a while.

But forty years later, I like “Shoe Shoe Shine” well enough that I’ll likely seek out whatever I can find from the Dynamic Superiors’ self-titled album from 1974. That album provided the group with one more single: “Leave It Alone” bubbled under at No. 102 during the spring of 1975.

Saturday Singles Nos. 413 & 414

October 11th, 2014

I’m supposed to sing tomorrow in church, but there is a tickle at the back of my throat that worries me.

I noticed it yesterday when I was practicing. My voice in the higher portion of my (somewhat limited) range was not as strong as it generally is, and I was straining to hit the D just above Middle C. That’s not good, as the verse of one of the two songs I’m scheduled to sing begins on that note, as does the chorus of the second.

So I’m a little worried.

As I wrote a while back, singing in public is something that’s come back to me only in the past year, since I’ve been comfortable once again sharing my voice – and sometimes songs I’ve written – in public. It’s not something I’ve done a lot over the years.

I sang in junior high and high school choirs, of course, and in a choir at St. Cloud State for one quarter (as a one-credit activity). After that one quarter, I decided I’d invest my activity credit in work at the campus radio station. From that point on for many years, the only singing I did was along with the radio or while practicing on my guitar. During college days, I often worked on my music while I was perched on the little bank on our lawn just yards from Kilian Boulevard, singing softly and occasionally dropping my head to reach the harmonica rack and offer the world what can only be described as Bob Dylan Lite.

Dylan wasn’t my only influence. In the late months of 1990, as the U.S. was preparing for what turned out to be a brief war with Iraq, I wrote an anti-war tune titled “One Wall Is Enough” and in a burst of bravery sang it at a piano one evening in a coffeehouse in Columbia, Missouri. When I was finished and sat sipping coffee (thinking that it hadn’t gone too badly and that the applause from the sparse crowd had been genuine), one of the proprietors of the place joined me at my table.

“Nice job,” he said. “You want to know what I heard?” I nodded. “Well, there was some Dylan, of course, and the song construction was straight from Buddy Holly and Lennon-McCartney.” I nodded again, because he was right. “And I heard some Lightfoot and some Van Morrison. And I heard something in the lyrics I’ve never heard before, and I figure that’s got to be you.”

As vague as it was, that might have been one of the better compliments I’ve received in my life.

That coffee-house lark was an exception; otherwise, from the time I left St. Cloud State until the mid-1990s, any performing was limited to gatherings of friends and a one-off performance for a student group at Minot State. It was during the 1990s that I came across Jake and the band he was collecting, and during the years I played with Jake’s guys, I sang lead on a few things: The Band’s “The Weight,” Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” and the Darden Smith/Boo Hewerdine composition, “First Chill Of Winter.”

From the time I was turned away from Jake’s group in early 2001 until last December when another church member and I performed “First Chill Of Winter,” I sang for no one (except the Texas Gal from rare time to rare time). Since that first church performance, I’ve sung there a few times on my own and several times with that other member (and with the choir frequently). Happily, my efforts have been well-received and the compliments I’ve gotten seem genuine.

And I’m supposed to sing tomorrow, but the tickle in the back of my throat this morning makes me think that’s unlikely. I’m a little bummed out about that. I’d selected two songs that fit mid-October nearly perfectly and also, it turns out, fit well into a Saturday post here.

The first has been mentioned here over the years (and shared long ago during the years of downloading): The cover of Eric Andersen’s “Blue River” by Andersen, Jonas Fjeld and Rick Danko (with Danko handling the lead vocal) from the trio’s 1991 Danko/Fjeld/Andersen album.

And then there’s Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” as recorded by Kate Rusby, a British folksinger whose stellar work I’ve recently discovered. Rusby’s cover of Denny’s beautiful tune came out on a CD single in 2008.

And there, in the hope that I’ll be able to perform them tomorrow, are your Saturday Singles.