Archive for the ‘Saturday Single’ Category

Saturday Single No. 572

Saturday, January 6th, 2018

Having set myself a year-long project of looking back at 1968 earlier this week, I thought I’d end this first week of the year by looking at the top ten albums in the Billboard 200 from January 6, 1968, fifty years ago today:

Magical Mystery Tour by the Beatles
Their Satanic Majesties Request by the Rolling Stones
Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. by the Monkees
Diana Ross & The Supremes Greatest Hits
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles
Dr. Zhivago soundtrack
The Sound Of Music soundtrack
Farewell To The First Golden Era by the Mamas & the Papas
Strange Days by the Doors
Love, Andy by Andy Williams

That’s kind of a mixed bag for me, and that’s borne out by checking for those albums in the vinyl database. I’ve owned six of them: The two Beatles albums, the Supremes’ hits album, the Doors’ album, the Mamas & the Papas’ album and the soundtrack to Dr. Zhivago. The database also shows a copy of the soundtrack to The Sound Of Music, but that one belongs to the Texas Gal and moved onto the shelves only after she brought it back from Texas in 2004.

I had one Andy Williams album on the vinyl shelves, Born Free, because I love the title track. Given my penchant for 1960s easy listening, I likely would have liked Love, Andy, but it never made its way home with me.

The more interesting absences are those of the Stones and Monkees albums. I’ve heard Their Satanic Majesties Request several times over the years, and once was enough. I found it silly and overbaked, so I never bothered to acquire it. As to the Monkees’ album, I don’t think I’ve ever heard it, and that’s because I’ve never paid much attention to the group. I had Headquarters and a greatest hits album on the vinyl shelves, and neither one of those survived the sell-off a year ago.

Moving forward to the CD racks, only four of those albums show up: The two Beatles albums and the two soundtracks, although I do have a more extensive collection of hits by the Supremes, with and without Diana Ross. The digital shelves have most of that stuff – again, The Sound Of Music is the Texas Gal’s deal – as well as the Doors’ album, the Monkees’ album and the albums by the Mamas & the Papas that were the sources of the hits on Golden Era. Still absent are the albums by the Rolling Stones and Andy Williams.

Trying to sort out which of those albums matters most by looking at what shows up on the iPod, as I’ve done here before, is uninformative. About half of Sgt. Pepper shows up, as does about half of Magical Mystery Tour. There are four tracks from Strange Days, seven hits by the Mamas & the Papas, twelve hits from the Supremes, and one hit – “Pleasant Valley Sunday” – from Aquarius et al. I find nothing from either of the soundtracks, although versions of “Somewhere, My Love” pop up from Ray Conniff and Roger Williams.

So which of the albums in that Billboard Top Ten matters most to me? Probably Sgt. Pepper, but there’s no point in posting anything from it here. So I turn to a track from the Doors that I first ran across in late 1971, when I bought their hits collection, 13, after hearing The Soft Parade every time I visited my friend Dave in his St. Cloud State dorm room. “Moonlight Drive” from Strange Days – released in September 1967 – became one of my favorites on that compilation, and it turns out that I’ve never mentioned the track even once here in nearly eleven years of blogging.

That’s why it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 571

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

My thoughts are jumbled this morning, as they have been for much of this year. In many ways, it’s been a hard year. Mom’s death in June hit me hard, harder than had Dad’s in 2003. And though the work of settling Mom’s estate wasn’t really difficult in itself, it was a constant reminder for these past seven months that she was gone. (And we’re not quite done yet; there is a bank account to close and boxes and boxes of her memorabilia to sort through.)

And all of that – Mom’s death and the ensuing tasks – has reminded me nearly every day that I am getting no younger, and there are things I should get done. One of those things is to winnow out the boxes of stuff that I’ve hauled along with me over the last thirty to forty years. I’ve been doing some of that in the last few months, and I’ll do more of it, now that we’re planning on moving to the North Side.

Another of those things I should do – and yes, it sounds a little macabre – is to write my obituary. I don’t think there will be a need for it very soon, but one never knows, and I would like to make certain that some things about my life are mentioned when the time comes. Mom wrote hers, and that was immensely helpful. Dad hadn’t done so, and while I’ve written hundreds of obituaries over the years, it wasn’t easy deciding what he would have wanted included. I erred on the side of inclusion, which made it longer than the average obituary. (No surprise here; I write everything long.)

A third thing that needed doing is done. Over the past few years the Texas Gal and I have pondered where we will spend our retirement years. She’s got a few years yet before that comes along, and we’ve talked about a number of places that we either like or that intrigue us: Marquette, Michigan, Columbia, Missouri, and Clarksdale, Mississippi, were among those mentioned, more as daydreams than as any real option. But this week’s decision to purchase the North Side condo pretty well anchors us. Our intent is to stay in St. Cloud.

But all of those thoughts and events have left me unfocused for most of this year, and even with those good things that did happen this year – and there were many of them, however overshadowed they might have been – this is a year whose ending I will not regret.

So, in this last post of 2017, I offer a wish for all of us – those of us here on the East Side, whether human, furry or imaginary (Odd and Pop come to mind), those who stop by this place, and those whose handshakes and embraces I know in the non-digital world of flesh and blood: May 2018 be the best year of all our lives.

And we’ll close the year at this place with some Bruce Springsteen: the title track to his 2014 album High Hopes. Yeah, he sings “Don’t you know these days you pay for everything?” But he also tells us “I got high hopes,” and that’s more than enough to make it the year’s final Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 569

Saturday, December 16th, 2017

Having stumbled via serendipity yesterday onto the story of “The Huckle-Buck,” I thought I would toss things to the universe again today and see what I have on the digital stacks recorded on December 16 over the years.

A caveat: As mentioned before, I have session data on perhaps ten percent of the tunes in the digital stacks, usually for those that come from box sets of vintage music. There are a few other CD or LP sets that include session dates, but not many. So what do we get for December 16?

Well, not much. We get Ruth Brown’s “Hello, Little Boy” from 1953, a live performance of “Fire” by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band from 1978, and a full day’s work in a New Jersey studio by saxophone player Ike Quebec from 1961: The entire Blue & Sentimental album plus a couple of bonus tracks.

(If I recall things correctly, I found the Quebec album in a pawnshop here on the East Side a couple of years ago. It seemed like an odd thing to find there, but anyway . . .)

And while there’s nothing wrong with any of that, it leaves me a little dissatisfied on this Saturday morning. So we’re heading to the Billboard Hot 100 from this date in 1967, and we’ll hope that a fifty-year old chart will bring us Saturday satisfaction. We’ll play Games With Numbers and turn 12-16-17 in Nos. 28, 29, 33 and 45, and see what we find.

At Nos. 28 and 29, we find a pair of well-known singles, “Different Drum” by the Stone Poneys featuring Linda Ronstadt and “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin, respectively. Both were on their way up the chart, with “Different Drum” later peaking at No. 13, and “Chain of Fools” getting to No. 2 (as well as spending four weeks atop the magazine’s R&B chart).

The record at No. 33 is another heavy hitter: “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. It, too, was headed up the chart to an eventual peak at No. 10 (and No. 2 on the R&B chart).

So we move on to No. 45, which turns out to be a pleasant but probably unnecessary take on Glen Miller’s “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Harpers Bizarre. The record stalled at No. 45 in the Hot 100 but made its way up the magazine’s Easy Listening chart to No. 2, where it spent two weeks.

And sometimes, we take what chance gives us, so “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Harpers Bizarre is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 568

Saturday, December 9th, 2017

My sister and brother-in-law and I stood in the cold for a little more than an hour yesterday as three guys from a local auction and estate sale company emptied one of Mom’s storage lockers.

“It’s an odd feeling, isn’t it,” my sister said, “seeing your parents’ lives go past piece by piece?”

She was right. We saw the foreman and his two young movers assess Mom’s china closet, a nearly six-foot tall piece with some curved glass windows on either side of its door. Mom and Dad got it soon after I left home in 1976, and I’d guess it dates from somewhere around 1920. As they maneuvered it toward the door of the storage unit and out to the rapidly filling truck, I held my breath for a moment.

But they got the fragile piece safely into the truck, draped it heavily with drop clothes and secured it to the side of the truck with bungee cords.

I remember the china closet being filled with dishes and pieces from Mom and Dad’s past: wedding gifts that they’d gotten in 1948, dishes from both of her grandmothers, and much more. For about thirty-five years, that “much more” included two painted tea glasses that I somehow acquired from a Tunisian restaurant in Paris in March 1974. Mom loved them (although I think she was unhappy with my means of acquisition). The china closet went with her to her assisted living apartment, and in recent years, she began to give away some of her treasures to me, to my sister, to her grandchildren. The tea glasses now sit on a bookcase in our dining room here.

We watched as the dresser and the bed headboard and foot board that Mom and Dad bought soon after they were married headed out the door and onto the truck. Then there was the teal couch Mom bought when she moved into her patio home after Dad’s death, followed the large brown kitchen table my folks bought in the early 1970s, a table at which several of my girlfriends had joined us for meals in the early years, a table around which we’d all gather on Christmas Eve through 2003 for a late evening snack of sausage, meatballs, pickled herring, crackers and flatbread. Then came the black wooden rocking chair – once my great-grandfather’s, I believe – that was my place on Sunday evenings when we all gathered together to watch Walt Disney’s show, a couple of sitcoms and Bonanza.

The last things heading out of the locker were two big cardboard boxes filled with heavily wrapped glassware, much of it antique. From another locker – filled mostly with furniture my nephew may want – the estate sale guys took the vanity and mirror from Mom and Dad’s 1948 bedroom set and the treadle sewing machine that had belonged to my dad’s mom. And they were ready to go.

It was indeed an odd feeling, with the three of us watching as Mom and Dad’s lives, and – in large part – our lives, too, went out the doors and onto the truck. And it happened fast. An hour and ten minutes after the three fellows arrived, they secured Mom’s vanity and its bench in the back of the truck and headed to their warehouse on the southern edge of the city. They’ll organize everything into an on-line sale that will take place most likely next May or June.

Seventy minutes is a very brief time to watch more than sixty years of memories go by. But then, time and memory twist themselves in odd ways as we find our sometimes uncertain paths through our lives. As long as I live, my grandmother’s sewing machine will forever be next to the green couch in the basement rec room on Kilian Boulevard, the brown lamp upon it providing the only light as I sit back – maybe by myself, maybe with a sweet young lady – and listen to the Beatles or maybe Van Morrison or maybe the Moody Blues.

The green couch went in Mom’s garage sale in 2005, the sewing machine went onto the truck yesterday, the brown lamp sits on an end table in our living room just steps away, and my vinyl copy of the Moody Blues’ Seventh Sojourn is in the stacks just across the room from me. And they’ll all be in that basement rec room with me for the rest of my life.

Here, from Seventh Sojourn, is “Isn’t Life Strange.” The question in that title can only ever be answered with the words “Yes, indeed.” And “Isn’t Life Strange” is today’s Saturday Single.

Revised slightly after first posting.

Saturday Single No. 567

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

Household tasks and other stuff call me away today. Here’s one of my favorite Saturday tunes: “Saturday Clothes” by Gordon Lightfoot. It’s from his 1970 album If You Could Read My Mind, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 566

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

One of the main currents that’s run through my adult life – and thus through this blog – is the impact of the time I spent in Fredericia, Denmark, through St. Cloud State during the 1973-74 academic year. It was, as I think I’ve said here before, the greatest formative experience in my life, a foundation for almost anything I’ve done, thought and written over the past forty-four years.

I wondered for years if my attachments to my time in Denmark and to the memory of the more than one hundred students who shared that experience were excessive, and I wondered if they were mine alone. But when I broached in late 1993 to a few of those folks that we should plan a twenty-year reunion the following summer, I learned I was not alone. Others felt the same way about the impact of those days in Denmark and in their connections to those who were there.

We are, as one of us noted in an email this week, brothers and sisters. In our day-to-day lives, we are – as is true of any large group – closer to some than to others. But when the largest of life’s sorrows come to one, all of us feel it. And this week, we grieve for the loss of one of our own.

I’ve written before about Dewey, telling of our 450-mile trek to watch the Super Bowl on television in Hanau, Germany, and remembering our pilgrimage to the headquarters of the Adidas shoe company in the small German town of Herzogenaurach. I’ve likely not noted that as we resumed our Minnesota lives and for some years after that, Dewey was one of my closest friends.

We finished college pretty much together, and he was one of two from our Denmark group to stand at my side when I married the Other Half in 1978. He was troubled but supportive when that pairing failed in 1987. When I landed a job in the Twin Cities suburb of Eden Prairie a few years later, I stopped by his office every now and then. But my life turned left in 1999, and I saw Dewey only once more, at our 2004 reunion.

Dewey was a very private man. I had no idea he was seeing anyone until I was invited to his wedding in the early 1980s. And when he began having the physical difficulties that were eventually diagnosed as ALS, he held that pretty close. He had to be persuaded by his life-long friend Cal that those who were in Denmark with him should know, and Cal passed the word on to us at a gathering a few summers ago. I emailed Dewey, and in his reply he said things weren’t too bad, a typical Dewey response. Neither of us said anything about his prognosis in the few emails we sent back and forth after that. But we knew.

The end came last Monday, November 20, and Cal emailed us all that afternoon. Emails went back and forth in the next couple days as we shared our tales of Dewey and our grief. In one of those emails, I shared a graphic I made a few years ago when a Facebook acquaintance died. I found the photo online; the text is the chorus of a lyric I wrote about thirty years ago.

Be A Candle

Do we need music today? Well, I remember visiting Dewey in the mid-1970s when he had an apartment in Minneapolis, and he introduced me to the music of Jackson Browne, for which I’ll be forever grateful. But nothing from Browne’s catalog seems to fit perfectly here, not even “For A Dancer,” Browne’s meditation on grief. So I’ll reach back forty-four years for a tune that we listened to in the lounge at our youth hostel as the end of our time together in Denmark approached.

Here’s America’s 1973 track “To Each His Own.” It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 565

Saturday, November 18th, 2017

When my external hard drive clicked its way to death the other week, I replaced it – for the time being – with the 500-gig hard drive I’d tucked away as a partial back-up. Doing that means that iTunes could no longer find the 3,600 or so tunes I’d loaded there for my iPod to find.

My plan – now maybe half-way completed – was to buy two new three-terabyte hard drives, use one as my day-to-day drive and put all my music in the other one and tuck it away as a back-up along with the 500-gig hard drive. It took all day yesterday to transfer my current (diminished) library (along with many documents and other bits) to one of the new 3TB drives. I’m going to do the remaining transfer overnight tonight, and on Monday, I’ll reload all of the sorted mp3s into the RealPlayer and start selecting tracks – once again – to go into iTunes for the iPod.

While I was laying those plans, I did not want to go without tunes on the iPod, so I spent a few hours pushing about 2,500 tunes its way via iTunes. This was no careful selection; it was more like one of those sixty-second shopping sprees one sees occasionally on television: grab some stuff here, grab some stuff there, take a whole folder here and another over there.

What it means is that the current tracks in iTunes (and on the iPod) have maybe a different flavor than they had before. So I’m going to run random through four of them to find our single for today.

First up is “Kingdom of Days” from Bruce Springsteen’s 2009 album Working On A Dream. It’s a testament to loving another as the days and years pass. I’ve not listened to it a great deal, and when I do, I tend to get lost in the hypnotic melody. But every time I do stop to notice it, I wonder again why I don’t listen to it more. Probably because when I drop the CD into the player, I have to make sure to skip the first track, “Outlaw Pete.” (It’s the only Springsteen track I truly dislike.)

Our second stop is a take on “Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)” by Bob Dylan and The Band. It came here on the 1985 box set Biograph and was a product of the sessions in Woodstock, New York, that became known as The Basement Tapes. It’s a decent performance of the tune, but – as these things usually go – I tend to like the first version I ever heard of the tune, and that’s Dylan’s live performance with The Band at the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival. That one was also included on Dylan’s second greatest hits package in 1971.

Then we get Jim Croce’s “Next Time, This Time,” about as catchy a kiss-off song as you might ever want to find. “I’m gonna forget your name and your pretty face, girl and write you off as a bad mistake,” he sings, adding that “a woman like you ought to be ashamed of the things that you do to men.” I remember hearing that lyric for the first time in November of 1974 as I played my newly purchased copy of Croce’s 1973 album Life & Times. As I listened, I found myself relating the song clearly to someone I’d dated briefly that September. Many years later, sipping drinks with a couple of friends from that long-ago era, I mentioned the woman’s name, indicating my less-then-fond memories. The other two guys nodded and noted that they’d had similar, and probably more costly, experiences with the same woman. And that memory makes me wonder if Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken” might show up next.

But it doesn’t. And that’s okay, because it lands on Wilson Pickett’s “634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.),” a 1966 record that went to No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was No. 1 on the magazine’s R&B chart for seven weeks. Even I, as disconnected as I was with Top 40 music in seventh grade, knew that phone number by heart. Thank goodness I still like the track. Oddly, though, I have mentioned Pickett’s record only once in more than ten years of blogging, and that was in a piece on telephone numbers.

And that means that Wilson Pickett’s “634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.)” is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 564

Saturday, November 11th, 2017

The Texas Gal is in Texas this weekend, visiting her family. So I slept late before running her car down to the nearby tire shop for a routine tire check.

All was well, so I’m home and half the day is over.

November always brings with it thoughts of those gone from my life, making me a little subdued for the first half of the month. One of the folks I miss is Bobby Jameson, who entered my life after I shared some of his music here. One of my favorites among Bobby’s work is “Big Spoke Wheel,” recorded with Crazy Horse, Red Rhodes and Gib Gilbeau. Bobby told me that the sessions – unreleased until Bobby put many of his tunes up at YouTube – took place in either 1970 or 1971.

And “Big Spoke Wheel” – with its slender connection to my taking care of the tires on the Texas Gal’s car – is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 563

Saturday, November 4th, 2017

Remembered moments and places sometimes swirl and connect in odd ways, filling in a picture of something I hadn’t thought about for years.

I was pondering the autumn of 1969, when the St. Cloud Tech Tigers football team – I was one of the managers – went 6-3 and finished at No. 9 in the state rankings released at season’s end by the Minneapolis Tribune. (A lofty ranking for a team with three losses? Maybe, but the Tigers’ three losses came at the hands of the Minneapolis Washburn Millers, the Austin Packers and the Moorhead Spuds, all undefeated and ranked Nos. 1, 2, and 3 by the Tribune. Tech played a tough schedule.)

By the first Saturday in November, the high school season was over. There were no playoffs. So, I wondered, what did go on during the first weekend of November. Locked into football at the moment, I checked at Pro Football Reference to see what the Minnesota Vikings had done. (Besides win, that is: The Vikings that year lost the first and last games of the season, winning twelve in a row in between.) It turned out that was the week that the Vikings hosted the Cleveland Browns and won 51-3.

I didn’t watch the game. This was the era when pro football games were not telecast in the home markets. Did I listen to it? I don’t think so. I do recall learning the final score while at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. My folks and I were waiting for a flight bringing my sister back from Alabama, where she’d been visiting a friend. I remember being in the airport, being annoyed about something. What it was that annoyed me, I’m not sure. Maybe her flight was late.

Having remembered my sister’s trip to Alabama, I recalled that my folks and I had brought her to the airport on Friday evening. In the midst of what was rush hour traffic back then, we made our way south along Highway 100, which was then the main north-south route on the Twin Cities’ western edge. And here’s where the memories get a little fuzzy.

On the western side of Highway 100 in the suburb of Robbinsdale, there was a restaurant called Vanni’s. Its menu was mostly Italian. I think we’d stopped there once before because I remember looking for it as we made our way south. And if I recall correctly, I thought that there might be a good chance of eating at Vanni’s as we made our way home from the airport that evening.

And so we did. I think. I know we made an evening stop at Vanni’s right about this time during the late autumn of 1969. Maybe it was on the way home after taking my sister to the airport that Friday. It might have been the following Sunday, on the way home after my sister’s return from Alabama. I’m not sure of which evening it was, but it was one of the two.

How am I sure? Because I remember what I had for dinner. On our first visit to Vanni’s sometime in the preceding two or three years, I was puzzled by an item on the menu: chili mac. Having learned that it was chili ladled onto spaghetti – two of my favorites in one dish! – I went for it and enjoyed it greatly. So, on our second visit on this November evening, I didn’t bother to look at the menu. I had chili mac and enjoyed it again.

And as we dined, someone went to the jukebox against the wall not far from where we sat. I recognized the record the instant it began. As I sat in Vanni’s and listened, the record – according to research from this morning – was at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 (having moved up smartly from the previous week’s spot at No. 42). On the KDWB survey that week, it was at No. 31, right where it had been the week before. I may have only heard the record once or twice before, but I recognized it.

Why? Because during the introduction, I heard the unmistakable sound of a football game, and the record’s lyrics played on football lingo. It was, of course, “Backfield In Motion” by Mel & Time. It peaked at No. 10 on the Hot 100 and at No. 3 on the R&B chart, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 562

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

Well, freezing my balky external hard drive did not do anything except make a dead hard drive icy. I could pry nothing from its cold, dead digital fingers.

But things are not as terrible as I thought they might be when Dale the computer guy first mentioned “The Clicks of Doom.”

Still, it took me most of yesterday to get to a point where I was not in despair:

My old 500-gig hard drive had 338 gigs of tunes, about 62,000 tracks sorted and tagged, as well as another 50 or so gigs of unsorted tunes. It took about four hours to copy all of that from the external drive into the C drive of my desktop desktop (where it will remain until I get two new large capacity external drives, one for use and one for backup). It took about 15 minutes to then tell the RealPlayer to delete things it could not find (in essence clearing the player of tunes), so I had lunch while the player slowly deleted its listing of the 98,000 tracks that had been on the dead drive. I then spent the afternoon and evening pulling tracks from the old (and now current) hard drive into the RealPlayer, doing that task twice because I screwed it up the first time.

(I did talk to the guys at Best Buy’s Geek Squad about salvaging some data, but given that I had on the old drive much of what I’d had on the dead drive, I decided not to spend the $100 to $600 the geek on the phone quoted me.)

So where am I? I’m about where I was four to five years ago. My rough estimate of that came from my file of television soundtracks: The reloaded RealPlayer showed me with two seasons’ worth of soundtracks from Game of Thrones. Up until the crash, I had six seasons’ worth of the show’s soundtracks. So, I have about four-and-a-half years’ worth of music to re-rip and re-load. Luckily, I have my CD log to help me along the way.

And comparing the CD log to the tracks in the RealPlayer, it seems that I will have to re-rip and re-install anything I got after the first week of January 2013. That’s about 220 CDs’ worth of tunes. And I know there is some stuff I got from friends or in odd corners of the Intertubes that I may not be able to replace.

(And there are some non-musical things, too; the scans of my slides from my time in Denmark are gone, as are some scans I did of family photos. But I have the slides, and I was not all that pleased with the way the home program I used dealt with high contrast slides, so I’m not all that upset. In time, I’ll take them down to the Camera Shop and let Frank deal with them.)

So for as wearying and worrisome as the last couple days have been, it could have been far worse. So, to mark the end of an eventful week, here’s a tune written by Bob Dylan and performed by one of my favorite current groups, and it comes from one of the last CD sets I ripped before I got the external drive that read its last byte this week.

Here’s the Carolina Chocolate Drops and their take on “Political World.” It’s from the 2012 set Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan and it’s this week’s Saturday Single.