Archive for the ‘1972’ Category

Saturday Single No. 497

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

We’re taking kind of a day off here today, as I’m heading out fairly early to play Strat-O-Matic baseball at Rob’s in St. Francis.* We’ve moved the annual event to his place this year (and probably for the future as well).

But May 21 is a date that sticks in my mind, as it was on that date in 1974 that I came home from my school year in Denmark. Here’s a photo my dad took that day; he caught me just as I saw him and my family (and Rick) for the first time in almost nine months.

First look, 5-21-74

As to music, well, one tune rang true to go with that picture. That’s why Delaney & Bonnie’s “Coming Home” – from their 1972 album D&B Together – is today’s Saturday Single.

*For those who are interested, I’m bringing the 2001 Diamondbacks and the 2004 Red Sox into the tournament. Rob’s selected the 1936 Yankees and the 1998 Astros; Dan has the 1924 Senators and the 1998 Braves; and Rick has chosen the 1968 Tigers and 2014 Dodgers.

‘North’

Friday, March 11th, 2016

When we sort the 88,000 or so mp3s on the digital shelves for the direction “north” – beginning, as we do so, our “Follow the Directions” journey promised a few weeks ago – we run into several obstacles.

First of all, numerous mp3s have been tagged by their rippers over the years as “Northern Soul,” a designation that, as I’ve noted before, tends to baffle me because it’s more reliant on the reaction of the listener than it is to anything intrinsic to the music. But never mind. We’ll have to ignore those.

We also lose tunes by those performers and groups that have “north” as part of their names, like Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers, a 1920s string band; the North Mississippi Allstars, a current blues ’n’ boogie band; Northern Light, the band that released “Minnesota” in 1975; Canadian singer-songwriter Tom Northcott (without intending to, I’ve gathered eleven of his recordings); and a current folky group called True North.

Then we have to cross off our list a live 1982 performance by Jesse Winchester in Northampton, Massachusetts; and almost every track from many albums, including the Freddy Jones Band’s 1995 album North Avenue Wake Up Call, the Michael Stanley Band’s North Coast (1981), Dawes’ North Hills (2014), Sandy Denny’s The North Star Grassman & The Raven (1971), The Band’s Northern Lights/Southern Cross (1975) and Ian & Sylvia’s Northern Journey (1964). But we still have enough to choose from to find four worthy tunes pointing us to the “N” on the compass.

Regular readers know my regard for the late Jesse Winchester, and I think I know his catalog fairly well, but every now and then, his whimsy surprises me all over again, as happened with his tune “North Star” this morning. It starts like a serene, folky meditation:

Heaven’s got this one star that don’t move none
And that’s the place you want to aim your soul
Set you on a spot that knows no season
And be satisfied just to watch old Jordan roll

And then Winchester leaps:

Now, does the world have a belly button?
I can’t get this out of my head
’Cause if it turns up in my yard
I’ll tickle it so hard
’Til the whole world will laugh to wake the dead

Surprises me every time. It’s on Winchester’s 1972 album Third Down, 110 To Go.

If the North had ever had a poet/musician laureate, for years that place would have been filled by Gordon Lightfoot, and just three of his songs would have cemented him there: “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” and “Alberta Bound.” And it seems to me that Lightfoot summed up all of his Canadian lore in one last good Northern song: “Whispers of the North” from his 1983 album Salute:

Whispers of the north
Soon I will go forth
To that wild and barren land
Where nature takes its course
Whispers of the wind
Soon I will be there again
Bound with a wild and restless drive
That pulls me from within
And we can ride away
We can glide all day
And we can fly away

Back in the late 1980s, a ladyfriend and I included Lightfoot on our list of essential musicians; even so, I’ve never been driven to pull together a complete Lightfoot collection, as I’ve done with Bob Dylan (with the exception of his Christmas album). The urgency wasn’t there, I guess, although the shelves – both wooden and digital – hold plenty of Lightfoot. And “Whispers of the North,” though it might not rank with the other three Canadian anthems I mentioned above, is pretty high on my list. The loon call at the start doesn’t hurt, of course.

The song that shows up most frequently – twenty-two times – in my sorting of “north” is Bob Dylan’s “Girl From the North Country.” Beyond five versions by Dylan himself and four by Leon Russell (one of those with Joe Cocker and one with the Tedeschi Trucks Band), I have versions by the Country Gentlemen, Hamilton Camp, Howard Tate, Margo Timmins, Rosanne Cash, Mylon Lefevre, Jimmy LaFave, Leo Kottke and several other folks, including the previously mentioned Tom Northcott. A Vancouver native, Northcott had several charting singles in Canada in the late 1960s and early 1970s and got into the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. once, when his cover of Harry Nilsson’s “1941” went to No. 88 in early 1968. (A cover of Donovan’s “Sunny Goodge Street” had bubbled under at No. 123 during the summer of 1967.) His pleasant take on “Girl From the North Country” went to No. 65 on the Canadian charts in 1968.

And we end today with “Lady Of The North” by Gene Clark, the closer to his 1974 album No Other. According to the tales told at Wikipedia, Clark – after some years of indulgence – was sober when wrote the bulk of the album’s songs at his home in Mendocino, California. After heading to Los Angeles to record, though, he more than dabbled in cocaine, and his wife, Carlie, took the couple’s children back to Northern California. Whether it was a direct response, I’m not certain, but Clark, with help from Doug Dillard, wrote “Lady Of The North” for Carlie and used it as the album’s closer. Wikipedia notes that the album was a “critical and commercial failure,” that the time and resources used to record were “seen as excessive and indulgent,” and that Asylum did little to promote the album. Two CD releases of the album in recent years have been met with better critical and commercial response.

Loss Leader Treasures

Friday, March 4th, 2016

A while back, I was tipped off by one or more of my blogging friends of the treasures waiting for me at Willard’s Wormholes, a music (and more) blog that seemed to have a vast trove of stuff to divert me as well as take up space on my external hard drive.

Chief among those attractions was what appears to be a complete set from 1969 into 1980 of the Warner Bros. and Reprise loss leaders, promotional albums – usually two records – that gathered tracks from the labels’ recently released or upcoming albums. Sometimes the stuff didn’t actually show up on the promoted album, as in the case of Fats Domino’s cover of the Beatles’ “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey,” discussed here, but generally, the tracks on the loss leaders showed up elsewhere.

I happily spent an afternoon gathering and opening zip files and then sorting the albums into their own folder on my digital shelves. There were a lot of repeats: I already had maybe thirty-five percent of the tracks from the loss leaders elsewhere in the large collection of mp3s, but I didn’t delete anything; I felt as if I should keep the packages whole and separate.

I’ve bought a few of the loss leaders over the years as I’ve come across them in used record shops or at flea markets and so on. I kind of wish I’d been paying attention when they were first offered (generally in Rolling Stone, I think). But I have the music now, and on occasion, I sort the loss leaders out in the RealPlayer and let it roll on random.

And that’s what I decided to do this morning for this brief post: Roll on random and offer up the tenth track that comes by. And we land on “Move With Me” by Tim Buckley, which was offered as part of the 1972 loss leader The Days of Wine and Vinyl and was originally taken from Buckley’s 1972 album Greetings From L.A. The album was Buckley’s seventh, and Wikipedia has an interesting note about it:

“Like most of his other albums, Greetings from L.A. did not sell well, but got substantial airplay in the Twin Cities on the Minneapolis FM station KQRS and sold very well at the independent record shops in Minneapolis-St. Paul until it was deleted by Warner Brothers.”

That’s something I didn’t know, but then, I was always a few steps behind in my listening (I likely still am), and I didn’t catch up to Buckley’s work until 1992, when I was living in south Minneapolis and the years of vinyl madness were beginning. (Oddly enough, the first Buckley album I found, most likely at Cheapo’s just up Grand Avenue, was Greetings From L.A.)

Ned Raggett of All Music calls the album “a fairly greasy, funky, honky tonk set of songs,” and “Move With Me” seems to fall neatly into that description, with some nice saxophone work by Eugene Siegel. Would I have listened to it in 1972? Well, maybe, but probably not very often.

Anyway, here’s “Move With Me.”

Saturday Single No. 485

Saturday, February 20th, 2016

As readers know, I like to find categories to classify records that are, well, different, as I did with Floyd’s Prism and March of the Integers. (In those cases, I found titles that mentioned the colors of the visible spectrum and the numerals one through ten, respectively.) And I’ve been pondering some similar categories.

Why do I do this? Well, several reasons.

First, it’s a way to dig into my ridiculously large library of mp3s and find tracks I’ve heard either not often or not at all. Using the Billboard charts or the vagaries of memory, both of which I do frequently, only opens up a portion of the works on the digital shelves, with many of those tracks very familiar. Second, it’s a bit whimsical, I think, and I like whimsy. Third, it keeps Odd and Pop busy indexing tunes.

There are probably other reasons, but those will do for now.

That little bit of explanation comes as an introduction of a coming attraction: Follow the Directions, in which I’ll sort through tracks that have in their titles the four main directions of the compass and, if we’re very fortunate, the four main combinations – northwest, southwest and so on. ( I had pondered Playing With Prepositions, but I’d be tempted to use the Yardbirds’ “Over, Under, Sideways, Down” more than once.)

Here’s a slight preview, one of my favorite records with “east” in its title, and, just as importantly, a track from Seals & Crofts’ 1972 album Summer Breeze that never fails to put my mind and soul in a better place. A briefer version was released as the B-side to the “Summer Breeze” single, but this morning we’re listening to the long version of “East Of Ginger Trees,” today’s Saturday Single.

One Survey Dig: February 1972

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

For the past couple years, I’ve been deeply involved in the music program at our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship here in St. Cloud. Along with joining the other musicians in leading the weekly congregants in music from our service book and in performing popular music, I’ve offered quite a few of my own compositions.

Almost all of my work that I’ve sung at the fellowship has been quite old, most from the late 1980s and early 1990s, things I wrote and then tucked away for whatever use I might find for them someday. That was the case this week, as I performed a tune of mine titled “Come To Me” for our annual Valentine’s Day program. It’s a song I wrote in Columbia, Missouri, in December 1990 and never performed anywhere until this week. And thinking about that performance in the past few days, I’ve come to two conclusions:

First, if I want to keep performing original work that my audience at the fellowship has never heard before, I’ll need to resume writing songs; I’m rapidly running through my catalog.

Second: I’ve realized that one of the turning points of my life came in early 1972, when I took my first course in music theory at St. Cloud State.

By that time, I’d been playing piano (on my second go-round) for a couple of years and had been writing poetry/lyrics for about the same amount of time. I’d also been playing guitar for about a year, and I’d tried to use my nascent skills there to write music for my lyrics, but all I’d really been doing was stringing together generally random chords. That hadn’t worked well, and the theory I was learning taught me why, as I began to understand how chordal patterns helped song structures work. That understanding grew as I took four more classes in music theory, exhausting St. Cloud State’s offerings.

Now, not much of what I wrote during the next couple of years has aged well (and that includes pieces, generally singer-songwriter stuff, written for the last week of each theory class), but the stuff I wrote after I started my theory courses at least had coherent musical structures. And that change began in the early months of 1972.

So in the spirit of learning about something new, I thought I’d see if there were any records I’d either never heard or didn’t recall hearing on the record survey from the Twin Cities’ KDWB during this week in 1972.

Here’s the top five, all of which – as you might guess – are very familiar:

“Joy” by Apollo 100
“Without You” by Nilsson
“Don’t Say You Don’t Remember” by Beverly Bremers
“Hurting Each Other” by the Carpenters
“Precious and Few” by Climax

All of those are decent records fondly recalled, but as we head down to the lower portions of the survey – thirty-six records long, in a reversed representation of the station’s frequency of 630 – there are good records that are less familiar. And sitting in spot No. 33, new to the survey during this week in 1972, was a Grass Roots record that I likely heard somewhere, sometime, but one that I do not recall hearing until this morning: “Glory Bound.”

The record has all the merits of the Grass Roots’ peak stuff from earlier years, including the 1970-71 trio of “Temptation Eyes,” “Sooner Or Later” and “Two Divided By Love,” but the band’s moment was pretty much over. The record peaked on KDWB three weeks later at No. 11; in the Billboard Hot 100, it got up to No. 34.

‘Five Nails In The Door’

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

I don’t have a copy of everything I’ve ever written. That would be ridiculous for someone who’s spent more than twenty-five years employed as a writer of some sort and more than forty years scribbling words on paper (or typing them on a screen) on his own account.

I tried to come close. For about ten years after I left the Monticello Times, I hauled around nearly six year’s worth of weekly editions in twine-tied bundles, so each time I moved, I hefted every word that had been published in the paper during my years there. I also had file folders with copies of the most significant pieces and editions of the paper, so there finally came a day when I began to go through the twined bundles edition by edition, saving tearsheets of the pieces I wanted and letting go of the rest of it.

After all, a reporter at a small town paper writes everything from obituaries to crime stories to the annual announcement of the sale of Girl Scout cookies. (One year, a headline for a column I wrote about my political concerns got lost during weekly paste-up, and the annual cookie story ended up with a headline that read: “Fears and Worries, Scouts Sell Cookies.”) Obits and the small stories about meetings and reunions and spaghetti dinners – the stuff we used to call “pots and pans” at the Monticello paper – went by the wayside, and I kept the stuff that had personal connections – various columns – or that stretched my skills or brought me some recognition.

The same is true of my professional efforts from every other stop along the way, whether in newspapering or in public relations: I have over the years kept only those pieces that were significant in one way or another. As to my personal writing – lyrics, fiction, a few longer bits of non-fiction – I have almost all of it. There is, as far as I know, only one piece missing.

I was reminded of it last evening as the Texas Gal and I watched an episode of American Idol. A seventeen-year-old fellow, facing the judges as the crowd of contestants was being winnowed from seventy-five to about fifty, sang one of his own songs. It was pretty good, and there was one line in it – I should have jotted it down, but it’s flown away – that made me say, “Wow! I wish I’d written a line like that when I was seventeen.”

And I added, “When I was his age, I was writing silly songs with Rick.”

“Rick wrote songs?” the Texas Gal asked.

“Yeah,” I said. “For a while, he and I would trade lyrics back and forth.”

That came as we were finishing high school and I was starting college (he was a couple of years behind me), and I was just beginning to write my own stuff. Despite my comment to the Texas Gal, we rarely co-wrote. When we did, the result was sometimes silly, sometimes not.

He rarely handed me his stuff. He mailed it. Just for fun, he’d undone a simple envelope and made a template; when he found a page-size visual in a magazine that caught his interest, he’d pull it out, trace around his template, cut and carefully fold and paste, and he’d have a custom envelope. A small label on the front completed the process, and he’d put his new lyric – or sometimes just a quick note – inside, and a day or two later, I’d come home from school to a brightly colored envelope in the mail.

I imagine I have some of those envelopes and their contents in a box somewhere. I might even have the one that I thought about last night while watching American Idol. One evening, probably during the spring of 1972 as I was finishing my first year of college, we were whiling away time at Tomlyano’s, a long-gone pizza joint. (Tomlyano’s has shown up here once before: That was where, in 1975, my date and I fled John Denver’s “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” so abruptly that we left half a pizza on the table.) And we were talking about writing.

“You know what we should do?” Rick said. “We should find a title and both write lyrics for that title.”

“Sure,” I said. “What title?”

He looked over my shoulder. “How about ‘Five Nails In The Door’?” I turned and followed his gaze toward the swinging half-door between the kitchen and the dining area, which in fact did have five large metal circles – nail heads or decorative pieces, I’m not sure – visible. I nodded.

And a few days later, I copied out my version of “Five Nails In The Door” and either dropped it off across the street or put it in a plain white envelope and mailed it. At about the same time, I got a brightly colored envelope in the mail with Rick’s take on the title.

He’d written something that owed at least a little bit to “Wooden Ships,” the post-apocalyptic song by David Crosby, Paul Kantner, and Stephen Stills that we knew from the 1969 album Crosby, Stills & Nash. (It showed up as well on Jefferson Airplane’s Volunteers that same year; Rick might have known that version, but I did not.) But it also held tinges of an empire falling in traditional fashion to outsiders, as Rome did to the Visigoths.

Rick’s lyric noted that the dying society’s hopes of survival depended on the preservation of a treasure. But that treasure was lost because “there were only five nails in the door.”

What did my version say? I don’t entirely know. As I noted above, I have copies of almost everything I’ve ever written on my own (as opposed to work product). The one lyric – among a couple hundred, maybe – that I do not have is “Five Nails In The Door.” I do vaguely remember its ending. As was my wont at the time – the spring of 1972, I’m guessing – I created a love song, and it ended something like this:

If they stand for love, and I think they do,
Then first there was one, and later came two.
So as you go, I’m adding more,
And now there are five nails in the door.
Five nails in the door for you . . .

Confusing? A little bit. Evocative? I thought so. Overwrought? Yep.

Here’s a tune that does better with the topic of nails. Here’s “Rock Salt & Nails” by Earl Scruggs, with help from Tracy Nelson and Linda Ronstadt. It’s from Scruggs’ album I Saw The Light With Some Help From My Friends, which coincidentally came out in 1972, the same year I was trying to figure out how to write a decent lyric.

Saturday Singles Nos. 476 &477

Saturday, December 19th, 2015

A few years ago this week, I told the story here how two of my friends during my freshman year of college – 1971-72 – baffled me with a Christmas gift: A copy of Three Dog Night’s Naturally album. As I wrote in 2012:

I’d never paid much attention to Three Dog Night, and I doubted that I’d ever indicated to Dave or Wyoming Rick that I was looking for any of the group’s albums. I knew the group’s hit singles, of course, and had particularly liked “Eli’s Coming” and “Out in the Country.” I had one Three Dog Night LP, Captured Live at the Forum, and I suppose I might have dropped that 1969 album on the turntable when the two guys (and likely a few young women) had spent an evening hanging around in the basement rec room at my house.

Whatever their reasoning, I appreciated the gift, as the album turned out to be pretty good, one of the best in the (relatively) lengthy history of the group. The biggest hit from the record was “Joy to the World,” never one of my favorites, but the record also brought along “Liar” and “One Man Band,” which I liked pretty well. My favorite track on the record, however, was an album track: “Heavy Church,” written by Alan O’Day.

I also noted that some digging had told me that songwriter O’Day and soul/R&B singer Al Wilson had both recorded the song, and I wondered if I should toss some nickels in those directions.

Well, I did toss those nickels not too long after writing that, and the two records got here to the East Side, but the computer then living in the EITW studios was balky when it came to ripping records into mp3s, so only essential records made it out of the “to be ripped someday” pile. This autumn’s new computer is much more rip-friendly, and I took the two copies of “Heavy Church” in hand this week and gave them a listen.

Wilson’s came first. He released a promo of “Heavy Church” in 1972 on the Rocky Road label, with a stereo mix on one side and a slightly shorter mono mix on the other. From what I can see online, the record was never given a general release. I like the mono mix better than the stereo mix:

As for O’Day, who wrote the tune, he waited another year before getting around to his own version of the song. In 1973, O’Day put out a promo on the Viva label: “Heavy Church” b/w “The House On Sunrise Avenue.” As was the case with the Wilson version, I can find nothing that tells me that O’Day’s version of “Heavy Church” ever got a general release. Here’s the promo:

My call? Neither version of the tune comes close to the quality of the Three Dog Night take on the tune, but I’d go with Wilson’s mono mix over O’Day’s effort. (I did not make a video of Wilson’s stereo mix because, well, there’s only so much heavy church work a man can do.)

Anyway, whether they bring you pleasure, add context to your base of knowledge, or just plain help you pass some time, there are today’s Saturday Singles.

‘Thirteen’

Friday, November 13th, 2015

It’s Friday the Thirteenth, and the only reasonable thing to do is to look for tracks on the digital shelves with either “thirteen” or “13” in their titles. The take turns out to be slender: four tracks.

We could expand the search into albums. A numeral search would bring us Lee Hazlewood’s 13 from 1972 or Blue Magic’s 13 Blue Magic Lane from 1975, and a word search would call up Laura Nyro’s 1968 album, Eli And The Thirteenth Confession. And if we wanted, we could look into a couple of albums from Thirteen Senses, a current British group whose own website describes its sound as “indie/melodic.”

But we’ll stay with our four titles.

First up, alphabetically, is “Thirteen” by Big Star, the legendary power pop group of the early 1970s fronted by Alex Chilton. The track is from the group’s 1972 debut album, No. 1 Record, and describes the reactions of Chilton and fellow band member Chris Bell to witnessing a performance by the Beatles at the age of thirteen. In its listing of the 500 greatest songs of all time, Rolling Stone ranked “Thirteen” at No. 406. Big Star, like a lot of other groups and performers, is something I missed (both in the 1970s and during the band’s brief reunion in the 1990s). Listening now, I wish I hadn’t. But there was only so much time and money, and at least I got to No. 1 Record and all the rest eventually.

There are three albums on the digital shelves by the British group Charlie – No Second Chance, Lines and Fight Dirty, from 1977, 1978 and 1979 respectively – and none of them really stand out. All three are pleasant, they’re competently played, and they sound as much like Southern California work of the time as anything British (except for the occasional Brit accent or bit of slang). I remember seeing the group’s albums in the store – noted as they were for the pretty young women on their covers – but I was never tempted, and listening occasionally nearly forty years later, I’m not sure I missed much. But “Thirteen” from No Second Chance is melancholy and affecting, the tale of a girl grown up too quickly:

When she fell in love with her first boy, she was only just thirteen
She never had another look, this one could buy her dreams
So she signed away her life at sixteen

When you cue up a J.J. Cale track, you know pretty much what you’re gonna get: A relaxed, shuffling tune with some tasty guitar fills, no matter what he’s singing about. And that holds true for “Thirteen Days” from his 1979 album 5, which turns out to be a salute to life on the road:

Thirteen days on gig down south
We got enough dope to keep us all high
We got two girls dancing to pick up the crowd
Sound man to mix us, make us sound loud

Sometimes we make money
Sometimes we don’t know
Thirteen days with life to go

Having listened several times to Steve Forbert’s “Thirteen Blood Red Rosebuds” while following along with the lyrics, I have no idea what the song is about. He sings:

Hang your hopes on sun but the ships don’t sail
Storm clouds rule everything
Sailors pack both bars and Marlene works hard
More cheap engagement rings

Thirteen blood red rosebuds
Five weird weekend crimes
Sixteen sincere smiles while
Nobody’s lyin’

But that’s okay. It’s Steve Forbert. The track carries echoes of his 1979 hit, “Romeo’s Tune,” which I like a lot. “Thirteen Blood Red Rosebuds” is from his 2010 album, Mission Of The Crossroad Palms.

‘Coffee’s In The Kitchen . . .’

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

I pulled a muscle in my back yesterday lifting an old copying machine.

About eight weeks ago, the copying machine at our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship across town wheezed and died. Long-time members told me that its demise wasn’t a surprise. That’s pretty much what the service tech told me when he and I met at the fellowship a couple days later.

The copier, he said, needed a circuit board that hasn’t been in production for at least five years. “I’ve been telling you folks that the day would come when the machine can’t be saved,” he told me.

Okay, I said, and over the next few weeks, our Communications Committee – I’m the chairman – and our Technology Subcommittee looked at some options and made a recommendation to the Fellowship Board, and we got a new, and much smaller, copier/printer. That left the question of what to do with the old copier, now shoved aside in the office.

Well, I met yesterday morning with a rep from the firm that maintained the old copier. We discussed some business regarding the (now unnecessary) service contract, and he pushed the old dinosaur out of the office and the building and down the sidewalk to his van. There, he stopped, and without much thought, I took hold of the grips on one side of the machine and helped him lift it into the van.

As I did, something gave way in my back about halfway between my left hip and my ribcage. He apologized as I arched my back and winced. I said I was okay, and he took off. I closed up the building and then limped through a few other morning errands and went home and took some aspirin.

By the time the Texas Gal got home about at half past five, I was in pretty sad shape, staying put on the couch as much as possible and lurching unevenly when I had to move. She offered me some stronger medication and encouraged me to call in my regrets for an evening meeting at church. So I stayed on the couch, ate pizza and watched television.

My back is better this morning, but moving too quickly in the wrong direction gives me a twinge, so I’m going to take it easy today and then get through a scheduled task at church this evening.

So it’s a lazy morning. And here’s “Lazy Morning” by Gordon Lightfoot. It’s from his 1972 release, Old Dan’s Records.

‘Darker Days Are Drawing Near . . .’

Friday, November 6th, 2015

In September and October, the moment when daytime ends and dusk begins comes a bit earlier each evening. Day by day, in increments of minutes, it gets darker earlier, a gradual shift that’s part of nature’s eternal ritual. Still, most days in those months this year ended with the sun still shining on the brown, gold, orange and red remnants of summer. It was, in these parts, a beautiful autumn.

And then, as it does every November, the heavy curtain fell.

The ending of October brings the end of Daylight Saving Time, so we set our clocks back, and the dark of, say, seven o’clock in the evening becomes the dark of six instead. The artificial transfer of an hour of daylight to the morning hours doesn’t much matter; sunrise moves from about eight o’clock to seven here in the north, but that hour is occupied by preparations for the day and the additional light goes pretty much unnoticed. Sunrise will continue to be later and later for another seven or so weeks, so very soon, those in the workaday world will be going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark. For those without windows at work, sunlight will be a rumor.

With the days frequently filled with clouds, and with darkness continuing to squeeze away daylight at each end of the waking day, this time of year can be gloomy. Unlike summer, in the case of the Texas Gal, or early autumn in my own, the last half of autumn is a hard season to embrace.

There are, of course, blessings to find in this time of transition into the chill austerity of winter: Home seems cozier. With most garden tasks completed – some clean-up does remain here in the house of procrastination – there will be more time for reading, for quilting, for experimenting with new recipes. Our fruit cellar’s shelves are filled with pickles and beans and relishes, and our internal scrapbooks are filled with memories of time spent in the sun, much of it with friends; all of that will provide nourishment for the body and the soul as we head into the colder months.

One of the better autumnal records for years has been “Forever Autumn” by Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues. Hayward’s recording of the tune first surfaced, if I have things right, in a 1978 concept album titled Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, a retelling in music and text of H.G. Wells’ tale. But “Forever Autumn” predated that production.

Paul Vigrass and Gary Osborne were a singer/songwriter duo from the United Kingdom, releasing two albums: Queues in 1972 and Steppin’ Out in 1974. “Forever Autumn” was on Queues. Vigrass and Osborne wrote the lyrics while Jeff Wayne, their producer, wrote the music for the piece, which ended up as the B-side to one of the duo’s singles. Their recording of “Forever Autumn” isn’t as melancholy as Hayward’s, but it’s a nice piece: