Saturday Single No. 502

June 25th, 2016

Every once in a while around this joint, I like to look back at what I was listening to at a particular time, say, the week before I graduated from high school or the week when I was packing to go to Denmark. Generally, that means a look at a Billboard Hot 100, a radio survey – usually from the Twin Cities’ KDWB – or a glance at the LP log to see what the recent purchases were.

But this morning, as I thought about late Junes over the years, I pondered the June of 1989, when I was sorting and packing in Minot, North Dakota, preparing to leave the prairie for Anoka, Minnesota, a city nestled in the northern portion of the Twin Cities’ metro area. What was I listening to? I’m not immediately certain, and I’ll have to work to reconstruct my set list.

Billboard and whatever surveys that might be available are no help because I manifestly was not listening to Top 40 at home at the time; I’d heard a fair amount of it during my two years advising the student newspaper at Minot State University, as my office adjoined the newsroom, but the students’ station of choice was not mine at home. I kept my radios tuned to an AM station at home for two reasons: Every morning, the station aired a trivia contest that offered free dinners, and I was lucky enough to win a few meals during those two years, and the station was also a member of the Minnesota Twins’ radio network, and I frequently listened to the Twins that season.

Nor is a look at the LP log enlightening. I’d been buying vinyl at a rapid rate during my two years on the prairie – not as rapidly as I would during my seven years in South Minneapolis still to come, but still, between August 1, 1987, and June 30, 1989, my collection had burgeoned from 204 LPs to a total of 586, meaning I’d far more than doubled the shelf space needed since I’d arrived in North Dakota.

So I’m not certain at all what I was listening to as I packed during the last days of June in 1989. The last albums I’d added to the collection were varied: Watermark by Enya, Frampton Comes Alive, James Taylor’s In The Pocket, a hits album by the Cars, and Stevie Nicks’ The Other Side Of The Mirror. Among the numerous LPs I’d purchased in May were Crowded House’s self-titled 1986 album, Boz Scaggs’ self-titled 1969 debut, Van Morrison’s It’s Too Late To Stop Now from 1974, and 1970’s Delaney & Bonnie & Friends On Tour With Eric Clapton. A number of those were likely on the turntable during that last week of June 1989, at least until I packed the records and the stereo the day before I picked up the rental truck.

One album that I know I did not listen to that week was the Peter Frampton live double album. It got stuck into a box for later listening, and – sad to say – never came out of that box from the time I bought it in the summer of 1989 to the day this month that I packed it in a box and sold it at Cheapo in Minneapolis. (I long ago found a digital copy of the album, and – not being entirely blown away by it – decided that mp3s were all the Frampton I needed. Still I wish I’d dropped the album on the turntable at least once, but life – and an overstock of records to hear – got in the way.)

Do I specifically recall hearing any of that music in my Minot apartment? Well, yes. I remember putting the Enya album on the stereo, and the same holds for the albums by Stevie Nicks, Van Morrison and Crowded House. Do any of the tracks I remember hold any emotional punch from those days, when I felt as if I were retreating from a series of battles lost?

Again, yes. Although I’d heard the song before – most notably as Johnny Cash’s 1958 original and Linda Ronstadt’s 1972 cover – Stevie Nick’s version of “I Still Miss Someone (Blue Eyes)” touched a tender spot in me during that summer of 1989 (even though her eyes were not blue). So, as I recall packing my apartment in Minot and remembering as I packed the moments “when all the love was there,” I have to make Stevie Nicks’ “I Still Miss Someone (Blue Eyes)” today’s Saturday Single.

‘Way, Way Down Inside . . .’

June 23rd, 2016

I slept in today, a rare thing. But when the alarm went off at 6:54, I wasn’t feeling well, and four hours later, not much has improved. Sluggish mind in a sluggish body isn’t exactly the ideal the ancient Greeks had in mind. But we get what we get.

I’ve been following the ongoing plagiarism case against Led Zeppelin for allegedly nicking a piece of Spirit’s song “Taurus” for the famous riff in “Stairway To Heaven,” and I saw a piece on the Rolling Stone website that in its introduction pretty much summed up my thinking about the case brought by the estate of Randy California. Gavin Edwards writes:

Reasonable people can disagree on whether (and how heavily) Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” filches from Spirit’s “Taurus” – that’s why there’s a court case in progress. But the reason many people aren’t extending Led Zeppelin the benefit of the doubt on “Stairway” is because they have an extensive history of swiping songs from other people and giving credit only under duress.

And Edwards’ piece goes on to explore – with videos illustrating each example – ten cases of appropriation.

(Another cataloging of Zep’s indiscretions – with nifty illustrations – is found at the great blog Willard’s Wormholes. Look for “Zeppelin Took My Blues Away” in the blog archives.)

So I was thinking about Led Zeppelin, and I got to thinking about “Whole Lotta Love,” which had its genesis in Muddy Water’s “You Need Love.” And I got to pondering covers of “Whole Lotta Love” (and the Led Zeppelin single remains part of the remembered soundtrack of my junior year of high school, which makes it matter).

I have a few covers of the tune, and there are more out there, according to Second Hand Songs. But if my search function worked correctly this morning, I’ve never posted any of those covers here. That oversight ends now, and sometime soon – tomorrow? Tuesday? I will not promise a specific date, only an intention – we’ll dig into more covers of an appropriated tune.

Our starting point is one of the better versions we’ll find of “Whole Lotta Love,” a 1970 track from King Curtis & The Kingpins.

Progress

June 21st, 2016

After a season of uncertainty, we seem to be settling into more predictable circumstances here along Lincoln Avenue. We’ll know a bit more in a month or two, but things look good for now, better than they have for some time.

That uncertainty has definitely been reflected here, as posts – once regular on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday – have been sporadic. I hope to resume that regular schedule, starting with this post, as brief as it may be. Other things do demand my time today, but I will be back Thursday, and perhaps we’ll get back to Follow The Directions or maybe Covering Cocker. I don’t know. But we’ll be here.

In the meantime, it’s a good day for a smile. And here’s Poco from its 1969 album Pickin’ Up The Pieces with a song about a smile. The video below lists it as “Make Me Smile,” but at the official Poco website, it’s called “Make Me A Smile.” Either way, it’s a fine track.

Saturday Single No. 501

June 18th, 2016

The invitation came in the mail yesterday: In September, the 1971 graduating classes of St. Cloud Tech and St. Cloud Apollo high schools will gather for a reunion. That will, of course, include me, as I graduated from Tech that year.

Why in September and not in May or during the summer? I don’t know. Maybe because May and summer are busy months. It doesn’t matter. After forty-five years, a month or two of delay is small change.

And I’ll likely go. I’ll hobnob with my fellow Tigers and with the Eagles from the North Side, wander through the taco bar for dinner, drink a few beers and probably just stand and listen as a deejay plays what I assume will be music from our youth.

And I’ll miss my friend John. I’m not sure I’ve ever written much about him; he and I were pals in Sunday School from as early as I can remember. He lived across the Mississippi River, over on the North Side of town, and he went to Roosevelt Elementary, which was just half-a-block north of his house.

We’d see each other pretty much every Sunday during the school year and only a couple of times during the summer, at least during the early years. When the St. Cloud schools began offering summer enrichment classes in 1964 or so, John and I would see each other daily for the first half of the summer. Then, when we’d gotten through sixth grade, we learned that boundary lines dividing those students who went to North Junior High and those who went to South fell in our favor: John, like I, would attend South and then, for two years as Apollo was being planned and built, Tech.

But we grew apart, as friends often do. By the time we headed to Tech for our sophomore years, we were friendly but no longer spent much time together. We saw each other on Sundays, as we both sang in the church choir, but whatever it was that had made us close friends not that many years earlier was gone, and it had gone away so slowly that I never really noticed.

We graduated from our respective high schools and both went to St. Cloud State, where we must have played together in band at least one quarter, though I do not remember it. He studied the sciences and then went off to the University of Minnesota to study pharmacology; he eventually got his doctorate and taught at the U of M. I wandered into a career of reporting, editing and research. We saw each other at a couple of reunions and, after his mother passed in 2003, we spent a few minutes talking at the reviewal.

We talked vaguely during those few minutes about getting together, but nothing came of it. A little more than three years ago, he himself passed. I read that there would be a memorial service in St. Cloud during that summer of 2013, but I never saw anything more about that. And there things would sit, except . . .

Two years ago this month, Roosevelt Elementary School burned. Built in 1920, it was probably the most attractive of St. Cloud’s elementary schools, having an actual design instead of the functional blockishness of later schools (Lincoln included). Its location on a main traffic route across the North Side meant I drove past the school – and now drive past the location of what is called the Roosevelt Education Center, a blockish construction that incorporates some remainder of the old school – once every couple of weeks.

The first time I drove past the site after the fire – three years ago when the ashes were still smoking – I thought, “I wonder what John thinks about this. I should ask him.” And I recalled with a start that he was gone. And I now remember that moment every time I drive past there.

I had other friends during my schoolboy years; most of them are still around, I think. And I’ll be glad come September to chat with whoever remembers me kindly from those days long ago. But with no disrespect meant to the living, I fear that John in his absence will be for me a larger presence at the reunion.

So what comes to mind this morning is Jackson Browne’s 1974 meditation on death, loss and grief: “To A Dancer.” And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘Let Your Light Shine’

June 15th, 2016

I have not much to say.

Our hearts ache from the massacre in Orlando, from hearing the names and seeing the faces of the lost, from hearing the tales of those who were in the Pulse club at the time and who managed to survive while dear friends did not, from realizing once again that no number of lives lost to bullets this week, this month, this year, this lifetime, will budge the heartless and the paid-for from their resistance to true gun control in this nation.

My heart aches, too, at the bullying, anger and pure meanness put forward with mouth-frothing ferocity and glee by the supporters of the man who will evidently be the nominee for President of the United States of one of our major political parties. He inspires and glories in that anger and glee, and with each preening pronouncement, he makes it clear that he is unqualified for that office, indeed unqualified for any elective office.

So we here are emotionally weary. I know we are not the only ones. I know our brothers and sisters all around this blue planet share our concerns and sorrows. And that helps.

In search of solace, I wandered through my music, and I found the fourth part of the “California Suite” that Jesse Colin Young offered on his 1974 album Light Shine. It’s the album’s title track, and it starts:

People, let your light shine. Come on now, let it shine.
Come on, let it shine on, all night and day.
People, let your light shine. Let it shine.
Come on, let it shine on, all night and day.

We all got a light inside. People how can we survive
If we don’t let it shine on, all night and day?
You know the world is dark with fear, people scared to let you near.
They need you to shine on, shine on all day.

Young’s words and gentle music bring me some comfort, as they have since, in a lovely coincidence, I brought the record home to my apartment in Minot, North Dakota, twenty-eight years ago today. May they do the same for you.

Saturday Single No. 500

June 11th, 2016

Ah, that’s a nice round number, 500 is. And I thought of finding a special tale to go with it, but all we’re going to do here today is talk about a box of records, which is appropriate enough.

Actually, we’ll start with ten boxes of records, the ten that the Texas Gal and I hauled down to Minneapolis about a week ago. I’d spent some hours sorting, as I noted some weeks earlier, and was running out of room in which to work. So we decided that I’d box up the records I’d already pulled off the shelves for sale and head down to Cheapo in Minneapolis.

The records in those ten boxes generally included work from artists starting with Abba and ending with Chuck Jackson. I kept about a third of them, including lots of Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin and Jackson Browne as well as stuff by more obscure artists and groups. I also sorted a couple of crates of box sets, ranging from Fillmore: The Last Days to Cocktail Piano Time, one of seven Reader’s Digest collections I inherited from my dad; I kept all seven.

I should note that even though my first batch of sorted albums covered the main stacks from A to J, I keep the Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Band on a separate shelf. And to paraphrase the Bard of Hibbing, they ain’t goin’ nowhere.

Anyway, a little more than a week ago, we made our way into south Minneapolis, to the new Cheapo location. Tony, the record buyer, said he remembered me from my more slender days when I was in the old location two or three times a week, and he said he’d try to get back to us with a total sales figure in a day or two.

We weren’t sure what to expect. I knew Tony and Cheapo would be fair; I’d done enough business there over the years to trust him and the company. I also knew that there were quite a few things in those ten liquor boxes that would be nice finds for a digger: Some Jimi Hendrix albums bought new and played only once. The same with Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, Cream, Creedence, Fleetwood Mac, the Grateful Dead and Earth, Wind & Fire. There were about 650 records altogether in those ten boxes,and I was estimating we’d get maybe $300, not quite fifty cents per LP.

The Texas Gal wasn’t so sure. “I was thinking,” she told me, “that you tend to over-value your collection, so I was expecting maybe $150 overall.”

By the time we got back to St. Cloud, Tony had called, asking me to give him a call. I did, and he told me that he’d mail us a check for $405. Thrilled, I posted the news on Facebook. One of those who saw the post was my sister, and she called me a couple of days ago and asked if we were going to make another trip to Cheapo anytime soon. Yeah, I told her, as soon as I get another ten boxes ready to go; the records heading out are in bins on the floor waiting to be boxed.

She said she was coming to St. Cloud to see our mom the next day and wondered if she could drop off a box of records for me to include in the next batch we sell. “You’re welcome to anything in the box, of course,” she added. “There’s some easy listening stuff, lots of Ferrante & Teicher.”

“Oh, good!” I said

There was a moment of bemused bafflement and a chuckle. “Anyway,” she went on, “just use what you can and sell the rest.”

She dropped off the box the next day while we were at a doctor’s appointment, and I happily went through it. Some of the records I recognized as LPs she’d owned before she got married and moved away from Kilian Boulevard in 1972: A record titled Gaité Parisienne with music by Offenbach and Gounod, a recording of “The 1812 Overture” by the London Symphony, and albums by Judy Collins, Barbra Streisand, the Lettermen and Ray Conniff.

And there was a lot of stuff that I can trace back to my brother-in-law’s tastes during the late 1960s and early 1970s: the aforementioned Ferrante & Teicher albums (seven of them), and albums by Paul Mauriat, Tony Mottola, Tommy (Snuff) Garrett, the Ventures, Billy Strange, Roger Williams, Andy Williams, Frankie Carle and the pairing of Glen Campbell and Bobbie Gentry.

(I’ve written several times about my sister’s album collection as it existed in early 1972, and there are a fair number of albums I recall from that time that did not end up in the box left at our doorstep. She held on – understandably – to albums by Glenn Yarbrough, Leo Kottke and Cat Stevens, among others. And, also understandably, she kept her copy of Traditional Jewish Memories. And that’s fine. I have all of those in one form or another, and I understand how we sort the cherished and loved from the simply liked.)

I’ll keep some of the records my sister left here – Gaité Parisienne, the Streisand, the Conniff, “The 1812 Overture” and a few others. The rest will go to Cheapo, but before they do, I’m going to rip a lot of them to mp3s, including several of the Ferrante & Teicher albums and a lot of the other easy listening. That project started yesterday, when I pulled the 1967 compilation The Best Of Billy Strange from the box.

It was in very good shape for being nearly fifty years old, and it was a lot of fun. Maybe my favorite track was the final one, Strange’s take on the Ventures’ “Walk Don’t Run.” It was included on his 1964 album The James Bond Theme, and along with some nifty surf guitar runs, it includes a few fitting Bondian flourishes. And for all that, it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘South’

June 9th, 2016

We’ll finally get back to Follow The Directions today and sort the 88,000 mp3s in the RealPlayer for “South,” which might be the most musically evocative of all the directions. It’s certainly the one I’ve been pondering the most since Odd, Pop and I came up with the idea for the series. But we run into problems right from the start. The player sorts for genre tags as well, so the list we get includes everything that’s tagged as “Southern Rock.”

Thus, we get most of the catalog of the Allman Brothers Band as well as work by Delaney Bramlett, Elvin Bishop, the Cate Brothers, Charlie Daniels and on and on through 1,146 mp3s. Some of those will work for us. But not only do we have to ignore southern rock, we have to ignore lots of albums with “south” in their titles but no tracks titled with “south.” That includes the epic – yes, I used the word – four-CD collection titled Sounds of the South assembled from various albums of recordings done by folklorist and musicologist Alan Lomax.

We also lose, among others, Magnetic South by Michael Nesmith & The First National Band, Colin Linden’s Southern Jumbo, Little Richard’s unreleased 1972 album Southern Child, Koko Taylor’s South Side Lady, Maria Muldaur’s Southern Winds, and many entire catalogs, including those of J.D. Souther, Joe South, Southside Johnny (with and without The Asbury Jukes), Matthews’ Southern Comfort and the 2nd South Carolina String Band.

But, as generally happens, we have enough left to find four records that may entertain us this morning.

We’ll start with a record that refers, evidently, to a New York City locale but that came out of Philadelphia: “100 South Of Broadway, Part 1” from a group called the Philadelphia Society. Now, Wikipedia tells us that the Philadelphia Society is “a membership organization the purpose of which is ‘to sponsor the interchange of ideas through discussion and writing, in the interest of deepening the intellectual foundation of a free and ordered society, and of broadening the understanding of its basic principles and traditions’.” Somehow, I don’t think that’s the source of this fine and funky 1974 instrumental on the American Recording label. But a moderate bit of searching brings up hardly any information: Discogs lists no other releases for the Philadelphia Society (which I suspect was a generic name for a group of studio musicians), and the record label itself, as shown at Discogs, tells us very little: only that the track was recorded at the Sigma and Society Hill studios in Philly and a few names. Googling those names noted on the label – writers Davis, Tindal and Smith and producers M. Nise and B. Adam– gets us mostly unrelated links along with some links to sites offering the record for sale. One note I saw said the record was a significant hit in Great Britain. Maybe so. But whatever its genesis and its reception, it’s a nice way to start heading south.

Gil Scott-Heron’s uncompromising poetry on his solo releases – think “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” from 1971, for one – earned him (according to several things I’ve read) the title of “Godfather of rap.” He was just as uncompromising – if seemingly a little less acerbic – three years later on Winter In America, his first album with keyboardist Brian Jackson. That’s where we find “95 South (All Of The Places We’ve Been)” getting down to business after a mellow introduction:

In my lifetime I’ve been in towns
where there was no freedom or future around.
I’ve been in places where you could not eat
or take a drink of water wherever you pleased.
And now that I meet you in the middle of a mountain,
Well, I’m reaching on out from within.

And all I can think of are chapters and scenes of all of the places we’ve been.

I’m not such an old man, so don’t get me wrong.
I’m the latest survivor of the constantly strong.
I’ve been to Mississippi and down city streets.
I’ve seen days of plenty and nights with nothing to eat.
But I’m not too happy ’bout the middle of a mountain so soon I’ll be climbing again.

’Cause all I can think of are chapters and scenes of all of the places we’ve been.

I was raised up in a small town in the country down south
So I’ve been close enough to know what oppression’s about.
Placed on this mountain with a rare chance to see
Dreams once envisioned by folks much braver than me.
And since their lives got me to the middle of a mountain,
Well, I can’t stop and give up on them.

’Cause their lights that shine on inspire me to climb on from all of the places we’ve been.

From all of the places we’ve been
From all of the places we’ve . . . been a lot of places, yeah,
From all of the places we’ve been,
Been down, been down, been down, a lot of roads and places.
All of the places . . .

And from there, we slide back to the autumn of 1948 and “Down South Blues” by Muddy Waters. The track might have been issued on Aristocrat 1308 at the time – I have a note that says that might have happened, but I can’t at the moment find the online source for that note – but it was certainly part of the second package of “real folk blues” put out by Chess in 1966 and 1967. As Mark Humphries writes in the notes to the 2002 CD release, “Muddy’s two ‘real folk blues’ albums were revisionist history of a sort, attempts to provide a fresh framework for his music, especially his earliest Aristocrat and Chess label recordings. By the time the second collection appeared in 1967, Muddy and his band were making forays into such hip niteries as the Electric Circus and the Fillmore. Yet even as Muddy’s audience changed, he continued to bring them many of the songs first collected on LP under the ‘real folk blues’ rubric. While this may have been because he saw them as folk songs and thus suitable for young white listeners, it was more likely because they were core parts of his repertoire, major elements of a music gazing with one eye back at the Delta and with the other toward a future which Muddy lived to enjoy but could scarcely have imagined when these recordings were freshly minted.”

Delta Moon is an Atlanta-based band about which I don’t know much except the music. I’ve found my way to several of the group’s CDs, and every time one of the band’s tunes pops up on random on the RealPlayer, the iPod or some of the mix CDs I play in the car, I find myself pulled in. That’s especially true for the track “Goin’ Down South,” the title track from the band’s second studio release in 2004. Swampy and sticky, this is music that calls me home to a place I’ve never been.

Saturday Single No. 499

June 4th, 2016

So, as high school ended in early June 1971 and the summer stretched ahead, offering what turned out to be hours riding lawnmowers and wielding mops, what was I listening to?

Well, the first survey of June 1971 offered by the Twin Cities’ KDWB had this Top Ten:

“Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones
“Treat Her Like A Lady” by Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose
“Rainy Days & Mondays” by the Carpenters
“Want Ads” by Honey Cone
“Sweet & Innocent” by Donny Osmond
“Indian Reservation” by the Raiders
“It Don’t Come Easy” by Ringo Starr
“Albert Flasher” by the Guess Who
“It’s Too Late” by Carole King
“Chick-A-Boom” by Daddy Dewdrop

The only one of those I do not recall is the Donny Osmond record. I listened to it the other day, and I don’t think I need to hear it again. Seven of the rest are on my iPod this morning; the two absentees are “Indian Reservation” and “Chick-A-Boom.”

By the time the summer drew to a close – and it was the longest summer break of my school days, as St. Cloud State did not begin its fall quarter until sometime around September 20 – here was KDWB’s Top Ten:

“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” by Paul & Linda McCartney
“Wedding Song” by Paul Stookey
“Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers
“Go Away Little Girl” by Donny Osmond
“I Woke Up In Love This Morning” by the Partridge Family
“Stick Up” by Honey Cone
“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by Joan Baez
“Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep” by Mac & Katie Kissoon
“Do You Know What I Mean” by Lee Michaels
“Superstar” by the Carpenters

Wow. Only three of those are among the more than 3,000 tracks on the iPod: The Bill Withers, the Lee Michaels and the Carpenters. Was it just an odd stretch on KDWB, or was it my changing tastes? Probably a little of both,

I got some records for graduation and added a few that summer. We may take a look at those acquisitions sometime soon, but for now, we’ll find a single among the twenty records that at least in a radio sense framed that long summer of 1971. And out of the ten of those twenty I still listen to today, one has never even been mentioned in more than nine years of filling up white space here.

That makes “Albert Flasher” by the Guess Who today’s Saturday Single.

A Minor Mutiny

June 1st, 2016

Forty-five years ago tomorrow, I walked across a barely raised stage in St. Cloud State’s Halenbeck Hall, wearing a purple gown and mortarboard with braided black and orange honor cords draped around my neck, and graduated from St. Cloud Technical High School with the rest of the Class of 1971.

There were about 450 of us finishing up our high school years that evening; on another evening that week – I forget if it were earlier or later – the 450 or so members of the first graduating class of St. Cloud Apollo High School would make the same walk.

I don’t think I saw high school graduation as a major event; it was another step along an educational path that would continue in about three months when I started my freshman year at St. Cloud State. But I imagine that for, oh, maybe a third to a half of my classmates, graduation from Tech High was where education stopped, and their entry to the world of work began the next morning or perhaps the following Monday.

Well, in a sense, so did my entry to that world, too, as it was the following Monday when I reported to the Maintenance Building at St. Cloud State to begin what became a summer of lawn mowing and janitorial work (especially scrubbing floors). But that was a temporary gig, and I know that for some of my classmates, full-time permanent work began shortly after graduation. So for them, the graduation ceremony might have felt like a rite of passage; for me, it was just one more thing to get through.

There’s only one thing I really remember about the ceremony. The Concert Choir performed, with we gowned seniors making our ways from the long ranks of chairs to join the juniors – who would be seniors in less than ninety or so minutes – on the risers near the stage. There, we completed a minor mutiny in which we thwarted the plans of our director. The gentle rebellion began a few days earlier after the spring choir concert, during which the sophomore choir – it had a more formal name that I’ve long forgotten – sang “A Wonderful Day Like Today” from the 1965 Broadway musical The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.

We in the Concert Choir loved the tune when we heard the sophomores sing it. When we met for rehearsal the next day, about five days before graduation (I think), many of balked at practicing the piece that our director, Mr. Ames, had selected for us to perform at the ceremony. It was stodgy and serious, and we wanted to sing instead “A Wonderful Day Like Today.” I think our wishes surprised him, but he wasn’t at all resistant. All he wanted to know was if we’d work hard to learn the Broadway tune well enough to sing it for graduation.

We did work hard, work that wasn’t at all a burden because we loved the song and wanted to perform it well, which we did. And looking back this morning, maybe there was an object lesson in there for us as we headed to the world of work, either in the next few days or after more years of education: If you love what you’re doing, it doesn’t always seem like work.

Here’s the song as performed by Sammy Davis, Jr., on his 1965 album Sammy’s Back On Broadway.

Saturday Single No. 498

May 28th, 2016

Today was supposed to be the day to finish off the planting for this year’s gardening adventure. In the last couple weeks, the Texas Gal – with my help – has laid down weed-blocking cloth in the larger garden in our side yard and in the smaller plot we’ve claimed in the community garden just on the other side of the copse. And since then, she’s gotten most of the planting done.

There seem to be fewer gardeners from the adjacent apartment complex joining us in the community garden this year. Much of the space there has begun to devolve to weeds in the weeks since it was tilled. Our space did the same until this week when we finally fenced it, the Texas Gal cleared it, and we laid down the weed blocker. That’s where she’ll plant green beans – and perhaps wax beans – this year.

That means the tomatoes will be in the side yard this year, a change from garden seasons past. A malady called “blossom end rot” has taken perhaps forty percent of our tomatoes the past couple of years in the community garden. We got six tomato plants the other day, and they’re already in place; a space in the side-yard garden awaits about twelve more or so that the Texas Gal is growing from seed. Those are almost big enough to transplant into that space.

There, in the side-yard garden, the tomatoes will join cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, bok choy, celery, kohlrabi, red and green cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and a few peppers (with peas and onions in some nearby raised beds). But that will have to wait a while. It rained all day yesterday and the ground is too wet to transplant the tomatoes or to plant the beans.

And it’s supposed to resume raining at about five o’clock this afternoon and rain into the evening, making it unlikely that things will be dry enough for planting tomorrow. Well, Monday is supposed to be sunny, and there are worse ways to spend Memorial Day than planting tomatoes and beans.

But today, we’ll stay in and stay dry (except for, perhaps, an excursion to the local mall this afternoon to window-shop and people-watch). And, digging deep into the mp3 shelves, I found a suitable piece of music for the day. In the 1950s and 1960s, actor Jackie Gleason issued a series of orchestral albums that fit right into the easy listening trends of the time. Here, from his 1955 album Lonesome Echo, is “A Garden In The Rain,” and it’s today’s Saturday Single.