Archive for the ‘Saturday Single’ Category

Saturday Single No. 666

Saturday, November 16th, 2019

Well, look at that number! Just as some builders skip the thirteenth floor when they plan their buildings, I imagine some folks might just skip by that unsettling integer when it comes to them. License plates in Minnesota have three letters and three digits, and I wonder if there are drivers who ask for a different plate number if the one they’re issued carries 666. I imagine so.

It is, of course, “the number of the beast” as told in the book of Revelation of the Christian Bible. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:

In the Textus Receptus manuscripts of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation (13:17–18) cryptically asserts 666 to be “man’s number” or “the number of a man” (depending on how the text is translated) associated with the Beast, an antagonistic creature that appears briefly about two-thirds into the apocalyptic vision. Some manuscripts of the original Greek use the symbols χξϛ chi xi stigma (or χξϝ with a digamma), while other manuscripts spell out the number in words.

In modern popular culture, 666 has become one of the most widely recognized symbols for the Antichrist or, alternatively, the devil. The number 666 is purportedly used to invoke Satan. Earnest references to the number occur both among apocalypticist Christian groups and in explicitly anti-Christian subcultures. References in contemporary Western art or literature are, more likely than not, intentional references to the Beast symbolism. Such popular references are therefore too numerous to list.

It is common to see the symbolic role of the integer 666 transferred to the digit sequence 6-6-6. Some people take the Satanic associations of 666 so seriously that they actively avoid things related to 666 or the digits 6-6-6. This is known as hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia.

We’re not skipping past the number today. And there are plenty of tunes about the devil to choose from. (We’re going to ignore 666, the 1971 album by the Greek progressive rock group Aphrodite’s Child.) A RealPlayer search for “devil” brings us 286 tracks, and after the usual winnowing – ignoring, for instance, everything here by the Hoodoo Rhythm Devils and most of the 1988 album Devil’s Slide by Bob Brozman – there are plenty of tracks to work with.

Some come in multiples, of course: Four versions of “Devil & My Brown Blues,” six of “Devil Got My Woman” (plus a gender-flipped version, “Devil Got My Man” by Rory Block), four of “Friend Of The Devil,” nine of “Me & The Devil” or “Me & The Devil Blues,” four of “Sympathy For The Devil” (with one of them, a 1971 take by Blood, Sweat & Tears, appending an opening instrumental called “Symphony For The Devil”), three of “Preachin’ Blues (Up Jumped The Devil),” plus a few other titles that show up more than once.

So we’re going to pull up one of the versions of “Me & The Devil Blues,” and if we’re going to do that, we may as well as go straight to the source of the song, Robert Johnson. He recorded two takes of the tune during a June 20, 1937, session in Dallas. The first take, offered here, was released as Vocalion 4108.

Saturday Single No. 665

Saturday, November 9th, 2019

We’re going to pick up where we left off yesterday, scanning the list of about 350 tracks with the word “midnight” in their titles. We’ll take a look at three of them randomly and then choose one to be our featured single of the day. So let’s see what happens as take what we’re calling a Midnight Cruise.

And we start with “Way After Midnight” by Billy “Red” Love, an unissued track recorded for Sun Records in Memphis in 1954. According to the website Black Cat Rockabilly, Love’s career began when he recorded his composition “Juiced” only to see Sam Phillips release the track on the Chess label under the name of Jackie Brenston as a follow-up to “Rocket 88.” A couple of Love’s recordings were released on Chess, but – the website says – got little promotion and had little success. “Way After Midnight” and “Hey Now” came out of a January 1954 session at Sun, but were never released. The former of those two came my way in the JSP box set Memphis Blues: Important Postwar Blues. Love, who was born in Memphis in 1929, died in 1975 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As to the track, it’s a reed-heavy moaner with a decent vocal and a nice sax solo.

Next up is “Midnight In Memphis,” an instrumental track by J. J. Cale. It’s an outtake from some 1972 sessions in Muscle Shoals when Cale was working on his second album, Really. It’s a nice mid-tempo shuffle that features some nice solos, especially Cale’s laconic guitar work. It was included on the 1997 release Anyway The Wind Blows: The Anthology. I’m not sure how it came my way.

And we come to “Midnight Train” by a group called Brethren, an early-1970s country-rock band. The track was the leadoff to the group’s self-titled 1970 debut, and it sounds a lot like that year, with the caveat that the intro sounds a lot like “Jessica” by the Allman Brothers Band, which came out three years later. There doesn’t seem to be a lot out there about Brethren; even the page at discogs is pretty light on facts beyond the band members’ names, although it does tell us that “Midnight Train” was released as a promo single that evidently went nowhere. The group released a second album, Moment Of Truth, in 1971. I’m not sure how the group’s first album showed up on the shelves here, probably from some blog looking at out-of-print stuff from the Seventies.

So, where do we go? Well, I think we’ll head to Memphis and Billy “Red” Love’s unreleased session. “Way After Midnight” is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 664

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019

When we look on the digital shelves here in the EITW studios for tracks recorded on November 2, we find more than we anticipated as well as a broader variety of styles and genres than might be expected.

Our harvest starts in 1939 with “Jersey Belle Blues” by Lonnie Johnson. The Bluebird release recorded in Chicago was a piano-based blues ostensibly lamenting the loss of livestock:

My nights is so lonely, days is so doggone long
My bedroom is so lonely, every doggone thing is wrong
You know I ain’t had no milk and butter since my Jersey Belle been gone

We shift to New York City in 1954, when Dinah Washington recorded two tracks for the Mercury label that have ended up here: “Teach Me Tonight” and “I Just Couldn’t Stand It No More.” The first of those two was a sizable hit for Washington in early 1955, placing in the top eight on three of the various R&B charts Billboard compiled at the time, with its peak performance being No. 4 on the Best Seller chart. “I Just Couldn’t Stand It No More” wound up as a B-Side to Washington’s “The Show Must Go On,” which did not reach the charts.

Tony Bennett pops up on our November 2 list with “Love Look Away,” recorded in 1958. Released as a single by Columbia, the lush ballad has the velvet-voiced stylist rejecting love: “After you go, I cry too much. Love, look away, lonely though I may be. Leave me and set me free.” The record did not chart.

Country singer Tommy Collins had some sizeable hits for Capitol on the Billboard country chart in the mid-1950s, reaching No. 2 with “You Better Not Do That” and No. 4 with “Whatcha Gonna Do Now” in 1954 and getting to No. 5 with “It Tickles” in 1955. He charted again with a track recorded on November 2, 1965; “If You Can’t Bite, Don’t Growl” – another light-hearted record, this one on Columbia – went to No. 7 on the country chart in early 1966. It bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks, peaking at No. 105.

The insistent “(I Know) I’m Losing You” by the Temptations is another track recorded November 2. Written by Norman Whitfield, Eddie Holland and Cornelius Grant and produced by Whitfield, the record was No. 1 for two weeks on the Billboard R&B chart and peaked at No. 8 on the Hot 100. (One of my regrets as a music listener is that the first version I heard of the song was the 1970 cover by Rare Earth instead of the original version by the Temptations.)

The last tune we’ll think about this morning is a Bob Dylan track titled “Nobody ’Cept You.” It comes from the 1973 sessions in Los Angeles that Dylan held with The Band for the Planet Waves album. The box set notes from The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 indicate that “Nobody ’Cept You” was headed for the album but was knocked out at the last minute by “Wedding Song.” To me, that seems like a poor decision, but then, I’ve never liked “Wedding Song” and would have much preferred the sprightly love story of “Nobody ’Cept You” for the admittedly uneven album.

So, seven tracks to consider this morning. I think we can dismiss without quibbles the Lonnie Johnson and Tommy Collins tracks, as well as the Dinah Washington B-side. And as good as the Tony Bennett track is, it is a little overdone. Then, even though the Dylan tune is a bit of a rarity, I likely post his stuff too often, as least as compared with the Temptations and Dinah Washington.

Let’s do some digging: Since moving to my own site in early 2010, I’ve posted two tracks by Washington and eight tracks by the Temptations alone plus four additional tracks by them with the Supremes. In contrast, I’ve posted tracks by Dylan – with and without The Band – twenty-two times.

That decides it. “Teach Me Tonight,” recorded November 2, 1954, by Dinah Washington is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 663

Saturday, October 26th, 2019

As of today, we’ve been married twelve years now, the Texas Gal and I. She’s been a Minnesota (or at least a Texan in exile) for nineteen years this month. And in just a few months, we’ll mark twenty years since our avatars popped up on the same day in the listings of a Lycos chat room devoted either to social issues or music. (We think it was the former, but we frequented both, so we’re not entirely sure.)

We thought about those tales of years the other day as we sat on the couch ignoring something on TV, and we agreed that it doesn’t feel like twelve years since we walked out of the Stearns County Courthouse as married folks; nor does it feel like nearly twenty years since we met. That, I guess, proves two truisms: My dad’s long-ago warning that time would go faster and faster the older I got, and the universal warning that time flies when you’re having fun.

Conversely, it seems as if we’ve been in each other’s lives forever (and karmically, we think that’s so for this life and others that have gone on elsewhen).

Here’s what I posted here twelve years ago, as we reached one of those markers noted in today’s first paragraph:

Sometimes the Texas Gal and I look at each other and marvel that we ever met, that our lives took the turns they did to bring us together, first in a small corner of the Internet and then – in a leap that took courage and faith for both of us – in a small corner of Minnesota.

Other times, we smile and acknowledge that, well, where else could we have ended up? As I’ve written before, we find the places and the people we are meant to find, no matter how crooked our paths might have been. And she and I are where we belong.

We’re not young, but there were reasons – ones we’ll never know – that our meeting was delayed until midlife. We find solace in knowing that the lives we led before we met are what made us each who we are. Those lives – we hope – have provided us with some level of wisdom that has guided us during the seven years we’ve known each other and will continue to guide us.

If this sounds solemn, it is. This afternoon, we’re going to go down to the courthouse, where we’ll formalize the marriage that took place long ago in our hearts. It’s something we’ve been planning to do for a while, and it’s time.

So here are some of the songs that have been important to us during the past seven years (with one ringer that I threw in). This is a Baker’s Dozen for the Texas Gal, who from today on will be my wife.

“Loving Arms” by Darden Smith from Little Victories, 1993
“Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer from Sixpence None the Richer, 1998
“Rest of My Days” by Indigenous from Circle, 2000
“Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House, Capitol single 5614, 1988
“I Knew I Loved You” by Savage Garden from Affirmation, 1999
“If I Should Fall Behind” by Bruce Springsteen from Lucky Town, 1992
“Precious and Few” by Climax, Carousel single 30055, 1971
“Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden from Savage Garden, 1997
“This Kiss” by Faith Hill from Faith, 1998
“Levee Song” by Darden Smith from Little Victories, 1993
“Two of Us” by the Beatles from Let It Be…Naked (recorded 1969)
“Wedding Song” by Tracy Chapman from Telling Stories, 2000
“Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison from Moondance, 1970

All of those still matter to us, though we hear some of them much less frequently than the others. But it’s Saturday, and we must choose one. It comes down, then, to either the first of that list or the last, perhaps the first two recordings we chose as ours. (I think I introduced her to Darden Smith and “Loving Arms,” and I know she pointed us toward Van Morrison and “Into the Mystic.”)

I think I know what her choice would be, so I’ll defer to that. Here’s Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic,” today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 662

Saturday, October 12th, 2019

All right, it’s time for some Games With Numbers. We’re going to take today’s date – 10-12-19 – and turn that into 41, and then we’re going to check out the records at No. 41 on few Billboard Hot 100s from this week over the years to find a tune to feature this morning. Since we’re fifty years out from 1969 – a year favored greatly here – we’ll head to October of that year and then move five years away in both directions for a couple of other years as targets: 1964 and 1974.

As we generally do when we play these games, we’ll check out the No. 1 and No. 2 records from those weeks along the way.

We’ll start in 1964. The record sitting at No. 41 in a chart released fifty-five years ago this week was “I Like It,” the fourth charting record for the Merseyside group of Gerry & The Pacemakers.

Two of the group’s singles had reached the Billboard Top Ten earlier in the year: “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying” had gone to No. 4 during the first weeks of summer, and “How Do You Do It” had reached No. 9 during the first week of September. Oddly, the same week that “How Do You Do It” (b/w “You’ll Never Walk Alone”) entered the Hot 100, so did the group’s “I’m The One,” which had “How Do You Do It” as its B-side.

That seems strange, and I’ll need someone wiser than I in the ways of record companies to explain. In any case, “I’m The One” stiffed at No. 82, leaving “I Like It” as the follow-up to that odd set of releases. Actually a re-release of a 1963 single that did not chart, “I Like It” went to No. 17.

It’s an okay record, but then, the only thing I ever loved by Gerry & The Pacemakers was “Ferry Cross The Mersey,” which I heard a fair amount at home in early 1965 because my sister bought the record. So “I Like It” seems a little pale to me.

Sitting at No. 1 and No. 2 in the Hot 100 released October 10, 1964 were, respectively, “Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison and “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” by Manfred Mann.

Five years later, the record at No. 41 was one that I’ve written about before: “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” by Joe South. In a meditation on how music reflects the desire to return to a better time and/or place, I wrote:

Joe South’s 1969 lament, “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home,” mourned the changes brought to his home place – and by extension, the entire south – by the so-called progress of that decade, which replaced orchards with offices and meadows with malls (and the orchards and meadows continue to disappear to this day, of course, not just in the south but all across the country).

The era during which Joe South sang – those volatile years from, say, 1965 to 1975 – was one of displacement for a lot of folks. Many of those who were displaced, of course, had not one bit of use for rock or soul or any of their relatives; they instead found their solace in gospel music or in the country stylings of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard and their contemporaries. But the sense of longing wasn’t limited by genre. It’s not an accident that one of the better singles of the Beatles, the best group of the time – or any time, for that matter – told us all to get back to where we once belonged. We all wanted to go home.

Oddly enough, for a record of such subtle power during a time of confusing change, “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” did not make the Top 40. It peaked right where it sat fifty years ago yesterday, at No. 41.

Parked at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, during that week were “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies and “Jean” by Oliver.

Five years after that, at October 1974 hit the one-third point, the record at No. 41 was a profession of faith and a prayer for endurance that crossed over from the country chart and provided its singer with her only pop hit. Marilyn Sellars (who turns out to have been born in the college town of Northfield, Minnesota) put a couple of records into the Country Top 40 in the mid-1970s.

The one we’re concerned with today is “One Day At A Time,” which, forty-five years ago today, was a week past its pop peak at No. 37. Written by Marijohn Wilkin and Kris Kristofferson, “One Day At A Time” peaked on the country chart at No. 19. For the record, Sellars’ other country hit, a plaint of lost love titled “He’s Everywhere,” went to No. 39 in early 1975.

Sitting at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, during this week in 1974 were “I Honestly Love You” by Olivia Newton-John and “Nothing From Nothing” by Billy Preston.

So, given those three to consider, there’s not much question about which direction we’ll go this morning. Almost by default, Joe South’s “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 661

Saturday, October 5th, 2019

We’re going to get back to the Moody Blues today, taking a listen to a record that stiffed the first time it was released as a single in the U.S., bubbling under the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 103, and then went to No. 2 after a re-release in 1972: “Nights In White Satin.” That success followed the relative success of three singles in the previous two-plus years: “Question” (No. 21), “The Story In Your Eyes” (No. 23), and “Isn’t Life Strange” (No. 29).

“Nights,” of course, was the closing song on the Moody’s 1967 album with the London Festival Orchestra, Days Of Future Passed. The song was followed by one of the poetic passages that studded the album, some of which worked and some of which did not. The closer was pretty effective.

And I guess it was “Nights In White Satin” that made me a Moody Blues fan back in the late summer and autumn of 1972. I’d liked the three singles mentioned above, and I’d liked the album Question Of Balance when I’d heard it across the street at Rick and Rob’s. I got a couple of their albums in the late months of 1972, with mixed results. But I didn’t hear the full Days Of Future Passed album for some time. (The LP database shows me picking the album up in December 1977, just after I moved from St. Cloud to Monticello.)

Days is perhaps where the Moody Blues become the Moody Blues as we think of them, with orchestral backing and the (sometimes silly) spoken word bits. They’d get a lot more mystical on their next albums, especially 1968’s In Search Of The Lost Chord, but the musical pattern was mostly set in 1967.

“Nights” is a great single (one that somehow managed to not get included in my long-ago Ultimate Jukebox), one that summons back my world as it existed in late 1972 and early 1973. That makes it difficult to assess with any objectivity, of course. I also liked “Tuesday Afternoon (Forever Afternoon),” which was released in 1968 (in a horribly truncated single that discogs tells me ran only 2:16) and went to No. 24.

So I was primed to like the Moody Blues when I began to dig into their albums in late 1972. What happened then will begin the major portion of our look at the Moody Blues in the next week, I hope. In the meantime, “Nights In White Satin” is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 660

Saturday, September 28th, 2019

Rummaging about in the archives this morning, I came across this piece from December 2007. It’s a meditation on words that I thought I’d resurrect – edited slightly – this Saturday morning:

I remember reading a piece – likely in the newspaper – about a linguistics professor who had taken it upon himself to determine the most beautiful word in the English language. I don’t recall when I read that, nor do I remember which university was involved, but I do recall that the professor concluded that the most beautiful word in the language was “cellar door.

First of all, that’s two words. (It could be that the professor was considering sets of words.) Second, although the two words together do have a nice sound, words are more than sounds. Maybe as a linguist, one can separate the sound of the word from the meaning of the word, but as a writer, I can’t. And “cellar door” isn’t going to make the cut.

So what are the most beautiful words in the language? After all, if I’m going to quibble about someone else’s judgment, I’d better have some idea of my own, right? Well, I don’t have a Top Ten list, but I do have a couple of words. I think “home” and “tomorrow” top the ranks of English words.

Home, as poet Robert Frost noted, is our last refuge: the place where, when you go there, they have to let you in. We all need such a place. In fact, I don’t think it’s at all far-fetched to say that, whatever else we do with our lives, our main business here is seeking and creating a better refuge, a better place, a better home. In terms of pure sound, it’s a rather plain word, but its meaning makes “home” the sound of belonging somewhere. When we don’t have that, we ache, and when we find it, we are healed. How much better can one word be?

“Tomorrow” comes close. For someone as attuned to the past and as intrigued by memoir and memory as I am, it’s odd in a way that I didn’t select “yesterday” as one of my top two words. But as much as any of us might ponder yesterday and its lessons, we know all about it. And “tomorrow” brings the promise that things can change, that we can use yesterday’s lessons to make things better as they come to us.

Thinking about tomorrow is an act of optimism, it seems, maybe even an act of courage, even if all one is doing is putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time.

To accompany that, I sorted the 70,000-some tracks in the RealPlayer and looked for those with “tomorrow” in their titles. And a tune from my old favorites Brewer & Shipley caught my ear. “Too Soon Tomorrow” is more plaintive than hopeful, perhaps, but I think it still fits here today. It’s from the duo’s 1969 album, Weeds, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 659

Saturday, September 21st, 2019

The sky is close with clouds this morning. As we ate breakfast, a spattering of rain rattled down onto the deck; with the door open about a foot for the cats to take the morning air, it was loud. I poked my head out, checking on the cats. The only one there was Little Gus, bread-loafing in a lawn chair under the overhang, seemingly unconcerned about the rain.

“If the wind comes up and he gets wet, he’ll come in,” said the Texas Gal.

True enough. And from the looks of the forecast, that might happen as I write: The weather radar shows a band of green approaching us from the west, a band that stretches from near Winnipeg, Manitoba, in the north to the Iowa border in the south. And the Texas Gal suggested that I look this morning for records about rain.

I have likely done so before, but I’d guess it’s been a while, so here goes.

The RealPlayer offers up more than 1,700 tracks with the word “rain” in either the title, the album title, the performers’ name, or somewhere in the notes. We’ll have to do some sorting to get “rain” in the title, and I think we’ll start by sorting those 1,700-some tracks chronologically.

The earliest stuff that comes up tagged with a release or recording year is from the mid-1920s, most of it blues by Ma Rainey. Stuck in the middle of those is “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No Mo’,” a track recorded in July 1925 by Wendell Hall. I recall singing the song – a series of nonsense verses followed by the chorus with the title – at Boy Scout camp and hearing it in vintage cartoons on early 1960s Saturday mornings. It’s intriguing.

But there are no more recent versions of the song in the digital stacks, so on we go, jumping ahead to the 1950s on a whim. And wandering around aimlessly through the listed results, we come upon a tune by one of my favorites, Big Maybelle: “Rain Down Rain.”

The track was recorded on October 29, 1952, and was released as Okeh 6931. It did not make the Billboard R&B Top 40, but it’s good enough for us to be today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 658

Saturday, September 14th, 2019

We’re going back to 1970 again this morning, a year we’ve reviewed in music and events here more often than any other year.

It was, as I’ve said here before, the only full year during which I got my musical fix from Top 40 radio: I began listening in earnest in the late summer of 1969, and by the time the end of 1971 rolled around, I was beginning to listen more to progressive rock and album tracks.

So this morning, we’re going to take the Billboard Hot 100 that lies closest to the mid-point of September 1970 – a time when I was settling into my classes as a high school senior – and look at whatever record might be sitting at No. 100. We’ll start, though, as we customarily do, by taking a look at the Top Ten from that week. Here are those records as listed in the September 19, 1970, edition of the magazine:

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross
“War” by Edwin Starr
“Lookin’ Out My Back Door/As Long As I Can See The Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Patches” by Clarence Carter
“Julie, Do Ya Love Me” by Bobby Sherman
“25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago
“In The Summertime” by Mungo Jerry
“(They Long To Be) Close To You” by the Carpenters
“Candida” by Dawn
“Make It With You” by Bread

I like nine of those eleven a lot. My only reservations – and those reservations have been in place for forty-nine years – are for the the A-side of the CCR single and for “Patches.” I can hear them clearly in my head as I write, and they’re not malignant earworms, but I’ve just never cared much for them.

The nine others I liked then and still like, some more than others, of course. I have to be in the right mood for “War” and for “In The Summertime” (not the same mood, though). But the others are welcome at any time.

As to the some that I like more than others, five of the lower six in that Top Ten are in the iPod, putting them on the current playlist of 3,900-some tracks. The only one of those lower six that’s missing is “Candida,” which may or may not be added. And I may add the Diana Ross single. I’ll have to think about it.

And now, to our business at the bottom of the Hot 100: We find at that lowest spot a single we’ve written about but that we have not exactly shared here before: Love’s “Alone Again Or.” The track originally showed up on the classic 1967 album Forever Changes (timing out at 3:13.) A shorter version – timed at 2:49 – was released as a single and bubbled under the Hot 100 at No. 123 in the spring of 1968.

In the late summer of 1970, Elektra tried again. The video below is posted on the more or less official Love channel at YouTube and is labeled as the “mono single remix,” so I think this is the right one. The second single release of “Alone Again Or” did only a little better, peaking at No. 99 during a three-week stay on the charts.

In 2011, I tried to figure out which version was the 1970 release and ended up posting here the album track. In a note, friend and chart expert Yah Shure pointed that out and wrote: “In my [Joel] Whitburn Pop Annual, the time listed for the 1970 re-do is 2:50. Under the ’68 single’s entry in my Whitburn Bubbling Under chart book, Joel refers to the 1970 #99 release as ‘an enhanced version,’ and that’s what it really is: embellished with additional instrumentation to pack more of a wallop over the airwaves. The difference between it and the original mix is quite apparent.”

So, is the video below right one or not? I don’t know. In any case, it’s a lovely, whirling taste of psychedelia from Albert Lee & Co., and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 656

Saturday, August 31st, 2019

The end of August hangs in the air this morning, and the first thing that comes to mind is acorns. As readers might recall, our acre-plus lawn on the East Side was blessed with thirty-four oak trees, and every other August or so, the lawn and adjoining street would be covered with acorns. We have none here at the condo; the three trees that guard our southern flank are flowering crab, linden and maple. I kind of miss the acorns.

But there’s more to the end of August than that. I still feel the pull of the school year; the end of the eighth month of the year and the beginning of its ninth still feels to me like a major point, an end and a beginning. That’s laid, no doubt to my long connection with education: one year of Kindergarten followed by twelve years of elementary and secondary education, five years of college, two years of graduate school, five years of college teaching, and about twelve years of newspapering in communities where all things school-related – from board meetings to athletics to the activities of the various clubs – were among the major topics of coverage.

Even though I’ve been long separated from reporting and from school matters, the end of August feels like a gateway into a new time. Things other than reporting and school signal that: Football season is here for the colleges, and my Minnesota Vikings take the field in a little more than a week. And then, autumn is my favorite season, as I’ve noted before. So there are those things.

I got to thinking about August’s endings in the past, and two a decade apart raised their heads: August 1983 when I was about to begin my two years of graduate study at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism and was concerned about how I’d fit in, and – inevitably – August 1973, when I was just days away from boarding a Finnair jet and heading off for a college year in Denmark, somewhat apprehensive of being away from home for truly the first time.

No such import attaches itself to this August about to end. This has not been an entirely uneventful time: The Texas Gal retired yesterday (though she will return to the same non-governmental organization next week as a part-time employee, armed with the leverage of being able to negotiate her tasks and her hours). Otherwise – and I find this reassuring regarding the tranquility of our current life – the only other news of the month is the welcome installation of a garbage disposal unit in the kitchen.

So how to find a tune? Well, we’re going to play Games With Numbers with today’s date – 8/31/19 – and turn that into 58.Then we’re going to drop into the earlier of those two Augusts that came to mind, 1973, and see what record was at No. 58 as August came to a close. I imagine it will be familiar.

And indeed it is: We fall onto “Ramblin’ Man” by the Allman Brothers Band, a record that was on its way to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and to No. 12 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart). And it’s appropriate, in that the first time I ever heard “Ramblin’ Man” was in the lounge of the youth hostel where most of us on our Denmark adventure lived for at least a portion of that school year.

But it’s overly familiar, too, so we’re going to make an adjustment and listen to the flip side of the single. That, too, is a track I first heard in that hostel lounge distant in both time and space, but it’s heard less often than the hit record. With that, here’s “Pony Boy,” today’s Saturday Single: