Archive for the ‘Anniversary’ Category

Into The Second Decade

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

For a few weeks in January 2007, after I’d gone to Blogspot and reserved a space called Echoes In The Wind, I shared rips of some of my more rare albums and singles, stuff by Bobby Whitlock and Levon Helm, singles and B-sides from the Mystics and Dion, and some other stuff that wasn’t quite as hard to find. And I called it a blog.

Somewhere during the last few days of January and the first few of February – ten years ago this week – I figured out what I did best: Write about music and the way it’s intersected my life. The first time I did that was on Saturday, February 3, when I shared my rip of a Danish single and its effect on me:

“For just a few moments, it is the fall of 1973, and I am walking somewhere inside the old portion of the city of Fredericia, maybe heading to have a beer with a buddy, maybe walking with that long-ago girlfriend, or maybe just walking. It’s a golden day in October, and somewhere, not too far away, Lecia & Lucienne are singing ‘Rør ved mig. Så jeg føler at jeg lever . . .’”

That, to me, was when this blog became what I wanted it to be. And in the past ten years, I’ve generally managed to stay true to that idea. I’ve sometimes sputtered along, throwing out some odd ideas and mediocre posts – almost all with some kind of music – hoping to catch the lightning again if I just kept on writing.

But I’ve hung in there. Two hosting sites evicted me following complaints by artists that I was giving away their music, and I found my own space on the ’Net. Over the past eight years, I’ve been reloading the posts from those first two sites at Echoes In The Wind Archives, and I have about 190 posts left to re-up. Taking those into account, and looking at the totals offered by the dashboards here and at the archives site, in the past ten years, I’ve tossed a few more than 2,000 posts at the EITW studio walls, hoping they would stick.

Even though I’m not unbiased about this, some of them have. I think back to the nearly year-long project of the Ultimate Jukebox, winnowing the (then) 40,000 or so mp3s on the digital shelves to the 228 records that made up, as I said, “the jukebox of the mind, the jukebox that I’d have in my living room if my living room were part malt shop, part beer joint, part crash pad and part heaven.” Having inevitably missed some essential records, I later added about a dozen under the label of Jukebox Regrets, and the project of sorting out those 240 or so tracks still pleases me.

I wrote a few concert reviews, detailing evenings spent in the company (sometimes distant, once in the front row) of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Fleetwood Mac, Glen Campbell, Bob Dylan and Peter Yarrow.

My imaginary tunehead buddies Odd and Pop showed up a few times, guiding me through the conflicting desires to offer, say, Bulgarian choral music or records that everyone knows and loves and might be tired of hearing. And I wrote about the small and large bits and pieces of life, from my early days on Kilian Boulevard and the life that followed with the Other Half into the years when I was waiting for my Texas Gal and the sweet days of now.

There were times when I couldn’t find the groove or the heart of the story, and there were times I got it right. I seem to have gotten it right with a pair of consecutive posts in late October 2008 that each generated large numbers of comments, more than almost any other posts here: the first was “An Hour At Tom’s Barbershop” and the second – “A Halloween Tale” – was a tale of young love found and lost.

I’ve made friends here, some of them – Patti Dahlstrom, the late Bobby Jameson (posts here and here) and the late Dave Thomson of Blue Rose – because I shared their music and they got in touch with me. And then there are my fellow bloggers – JB of The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, Jeff at AM Then FM, Larry at Funky16Corners, Alex at Clicks and Pops and the Half-Hearted Dude at Any Major Dude With Half A Heart come immediately to mind, and a couple of of those friendships have crossed into the real world with more of that to come, I hope.

I should note as well the friendship of Yah Shure, the occasional contributor, regular reader and frequent commenter who really should have a blog of his own. And in a special place on the list of friends is Jim Kearney, who blogged as Paco Malo at Goldcoast Bluenote. He’s been on the other side for two-and-a-half years now, and I still miss him and his frequent comments and occasional emails.

In other words, the ten years I’ve spent here at Echoes In The Wind have been a lot like life in the real world: I’ve done some things well and some not so well, indulging in some whimsy along the way as I’ve made friends and seen some of them head to the other side.

So on we go into our second decade. And there’s no better time to share once more the track that was Saturday Single No. 1, Cris Williamson’s “Like An Island Rising,” from her 1982 album Blue Rider. As you all might guess, I love the line “Sweet miracles can come between the cradle and the grave.” Because they can.

Saturday Single No. 483

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

A couple of strands come together today that are, I guess, worth marking. It was during this week in 2007 that – after a couple weeks of sharing albums without much comment and a couple more weeks of doing so with halting commentary – I settled things here into a mix of memoir, commentary, occasional whimsy and whatever else you want to call it, and actually started blogging. And when that happened, I figure, this place became a blog instead of a music salad.

That happened nine years ago this week. So that’s one strand in today’s cord.

The other strand finds a milestone since Odd and Pop and I set up housekeeping here under our own domain name (after a little more than three years on Blogger and WordPress, both of which evicted us for giving away music). The little counter on the dashboard tells me that in the six year since we’ve had our own space – the first post here was on January 30, 2010 – we’ve put up 999 posts. And that means that this piece is post number 1,000 since we set up our own domain.

So how do we mark such an occasion? Well, one of the things I do need to do is thank the readers who have followed me through these nine years, however many there are (and not having a counter, I have no idea). Some of those readers have become friends, which is a goodness I could not have predicted when I offered my first halting post nine years ago. I’m grateful for those friends. And I’m also grateful for the simple pleasure I get three times a week or so from sharing tales from my life and my love of music. And as I do that sharing, I learn things about myself that I didn’t know. All of which makes the creation of Echoes In The Wind a source of joy.

So I sifted through titles with the word “joy” in them. And I came across Little Richard being Little Richard, testifying and taking the lid off with a performance of a song that’s not been fresh for me for a long time. It’s plenty fresh this morning. Here, from his 1971 album, King of Rock and Roll, is Little Richard’s take on Hoyt Axton’s “Joy To The World,” a perfect choice for post No. 1,000 and today’s Saturday Single.

‘In My Life . . .’

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

It’s hard to believe it’s been thirty-five years since John Lennon was murdered. Here, edited slightly, is a piece I offered in this space in 2007.

It was a Monday, December 8, 1980, was. It was the second Monday of the month, which meant that I spent the bulk of the evening at Monticello City Hall, listening to the city council debate whatever issues were on its agenda. It sounds deadly dull, but I actually enjoyed covering city government; the ebb and flow of politics and policies over a nearly six-year period gave me insight as to how a city grows.

I don’t recall any of the topics on the agenda, but the meeting was over fairly early. I’d guess it was around 9:30 when the gavel fell and I walked out of the building into the chilly night, headed for my car and my home about two miles out of town. The Other Half was there, probably involved in some craft project, and there was a football game on television, Miami and New England.

And so I was seated in my easy chair, probably dipping into a bowl of popcorn, when Howard Cosell interrupted the game.

“This, we have to say it, is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses,” Cosell said. “An unspeakable tragedy confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City: John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City, the most famous perhaps of all the Beatles, shot five times in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead … on … arrival.”

I stared at the screen, football forgotten. I recall trying to wrap my head around the weight Cosell’s words carried, not quite grasping it, the news too stunning and too fresh for comprehension or sorrow. Not long after the game ended, the result unnoticed, we retired for the night, and I lay there, still shocked. “Do you think it will be on Nightline?” she asked me.

“I can’t imagine they’d cover anything else.”

“Then go watch it. He was yours.”

I went to the living room. In a short marriage in which both of us so often got so many things so wrong about each other, that was one that she got right about me, and I am still grateful. I watched as Ted Koppel and his reporters and guests sorted through what was known and what was supposed. Then they began the first of thousands of assessments of what John Lennon and the Beatles had meant to us.

That’s a topic worthy of several volumes – what John Lennon and the Beatles had meant to us – and not all of the answers can be put into words. The next day was a busy one at work; Tuesday was the day we wrote the bulk of the copy for our newspaper’s weekly edition. But I managed to get home for thirty minutes for lunch. One of the Twin Cities classic rock stations, KQRS, was playing the Beatles’ catalog alphabetically, and as I ate my sandwich, I heard “In My Life.”

As I listened, I finally understood how those folks a few years older than I had felt during the summer of 1977 when they got the news that Elvis had died. Bent over my dining room table, I wept for John; for Yoko, Sean and Julian; for John’s three bandmates; and I wept for all of us who’d loved the man through his music.

In 1998, famed Beatles producer George Martin marked his retirement by producing In My Life, an album of favorite performers paired with his favorites Beatles tunes. For the title track, he selected one of the voices I consider among the greatest in the English-speaking world. Here’s Sean Connery and his recitation of “In My Life,” the song that finally touched what I felt about John Lennon that long-ago day.

Saturday Single No. 377

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

Back in 2007, I spent the month of January ripping lots of vinyl to mp3s with my new turntable, a Christmas present from the Texas Gal. At her suggestion, I opened a Blogger account and started sharing the resulting album rips at a blog I called Echoes In The Wind.

It wasn’t much of a blog. Oh, the music was fine: In the first few weeks I shared four albums by Bobby Whitlock and four by Levon Helm, none of them in print at the time, and I got around that month to work by Don Nix, Eric Andersen and a few others.

But I wasn’t saying anything beyond a few general comments. I began to pull reviews of the albums, when they were available, from All Music Guide (always being careful to credit the source). As the end of January came in sight, I wrote a little bit more than that about a couple of Ronnie Hawkins albums, and then, on the first Saturday of February 2007, I wrote a bit about what the Danish single “Rør Ved Mig” by Lecia & Lucienne meant to me.

At about the same time, I chanced upon a blog whose writer talked about music and memory and how the two were for him forever entwined. And as I dug into the blog archives at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, I thought, “I can do this. Maybe not as well, but I can do this.” (Not long after that, I left a note at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, inviting the blog’s author, jb, to stop by my place. He did, and in the intervening years he and I and our wives have become good friends.)

So I began to write about my life and music and memory during that first week of February 2007. I’ve told how music has pervaded my life, whether that music be the horn work of Al Hirt and Herb Alpert, the soundtracks of John Barry, the still-cherished sounds of the Beatles and Bob Dylan; the later-discovered artistry of Duane Allman, Richie Havens and Bruce Springsteen; or the earthiness and odd dissonance of Bulgarian folk music; and so much more in between and around those sounds.

I’ve told the tales of my life, sharing in memory and in the present the joyful moments, the grief-laden moments and the ordinary moments, writing – as my friend Rob once agreed – my autobiography, one post at a time.

And along the way, I’ve found friends. Many of them remain known only through their comments here and their profile pictures at Facebook. But some – most notably jb and his Mrs.; Jeff of AM, Then FM; and frequent commenter Yah Shure – have become friends in that scary place beyond blogging called the real world.

All of that will continue. I think I have tales yet to tell, and I know there is still music both familiar and new to write about. But today, which is more or less the seventh anniversary of the true beginning of this blog, is a day to look back and think, “Not bad. Not bad at all.”

And this morning I read the words to “Seven Turns,” the title track to a 1990 album by the Allman Brothers Band, and thought again, “Not bad at all.”

Seven turns on the highway,
Seven rivers to cross.
Sometimes you feel like you could fly away,
Sometimes you get lost.

And sometimes, in the darkened night,
You see the crossroad sign.
One way is the mornin’ light,
You got to make up your mind.

Somebody’s callin’ your name.
Somebody’s waiting for you.
Love is all that remains the same,
That’s what it’s all comin’ to.

Runnin’ wild out on the road,
Just like a leaf on the wind.
How in the world could you ever know,
We’d ever meet again?

Seven turns on the highway,
Seven rivers to cross.
Sometimes, you feel like you could fly away,
Sometimes, you get lost.

Somebody’s callin’ your name.
Somebody’s waitin’ for you.
Love is all that remains the same,
That’s what it’s all comin’ to.

Somebody’s callin’ your name.
Somebody’s waitin’ for you.
Love is all that remains the same,
That’s what it’s all comin’ to.

So here is “Seven Turns” by the Allman Brothers Band, and it’s your seventh-anniversary Saturday Single:

About Five Years Ago . . .

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

When did this blog start? There really is no easy answer.

After the Texas Gal gave me a USB turntable for Christmas 2006, I began to rip lots of vinyl into mp3s. Having wandered through hundreds of other folks’ music blogs (and having been encouraged by the Texas Gal out of my skepticism that others would be interested in anything I happened to post), I set myself up at Blogger.

For a while I just shared albums, using commentary from All-Music Guide to fill the white space, and then I slowly began to write about the music myself. Sometime around the end of January 2007 – it could have been early February – I put a counter on the site to see if anyone was coming by. A few folks were.

Then, on a Saturday morning, the Texas Gal and I came home after a night in the emergency room; she was fine but she’d had a difficult night. Exhausted but not wanting to leave the blog blank, I cobbled together a mention of the night before and then wrote a brief memoir about a single that takes me – every time I hear it – back to the autumn of 1973: “Rør Ved Mig” by the Danish duo of Lecia & Lucienne:

Purely by accident, I’d blundered into two of the constants of Echoes In The Wind: Memoir attached to music and a single on Saturday. The following week found me writing, among other things, about Leo Rau, the guy across the alley from my childhood home who ran a string of jukeboxes and gave me old records; about my grandfather purchasing a 45 of fairy tales for my sister that turned out to be fables told for the hip set of the early 1950s; and about rummaging for records with my pal Rick and hearing, for the first time, the Twin Cities band Gypsy.

And on the following Saturday, I wrote briefly about Cris Williamson, a member of the women’s music movement. Calling the post “Saturday Single No. 1” (and I really should have called it No. 2), I shared the lovely “Like An Island Rising” with whoever happened to come by:

What that means is that right about this week, this blog will mark five years of telling tales, playing games with numbers, making lists with sometimes flimsy evidence or insufficient thought, and sharing enough singles on Saturdays that next weekend’s post will be Saturday Single No. 275.

More than I ever could have anticipated, writing this blog has enriched my life. Not because I’ve gotten to tell my tales and write about music, though I admit to loving both of those things. Rather, my life is richer because of the people I’ve met along the way, folks who stopped by to see what I was up to and continued to do so, often leaving notes when they thought I got something right or wrong (both types of notes are welcome, of course). Many of those folks are represented by the blogs linked on the right-hand side of this page. Deserving special mention are jb of The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ and his Mrs. and frequent commenter Yah Shure, who – as last week’s post made clear – have become dear friends to me and to the Texas Gal in the real world. I hope in the future to convert more cyberfriends to real-world friends.

I’ve also had the joy of getting to know through email and letters a few of the musicians whose stories I’ve told here. Chief among those would be Bobby Jameson and Patti Dahlstrom.

And I’ve had to start over twice, having been dropped by both Blogger and WordPress. (Posts published during those times are being reposted – without links to music – at Echoes In The Wind Archives; that project has reached February 2009 and has about a year’s worth of writing left to post.)

It’s been quite a trip, and the journey’s not over yet. I plan to keep on writing about the music that moves and mystifies me for a while yet. I do want to make sure that I don’t become like some garrulous uncle who tells the same stories over and over, but I think there are tales yet to be told, and I’ll do my best to tell them.

I rummaged around this morning, but I couldn’t find a tune titled “Five Good Years,” so I settled for close: From his 1994 album From the Cradle, here’s Eric Clapton’s version of the blues standard, “Five Long Years.”