April BlogCast ~ Timeless Heartfelt Sentiments

 

Welcome to our monthly musical get-together.

We, who came of age in the Sixties… an era seething with military madness, political unrest and societal upheaval… had no shortage of songs interwoven with antiwar, political and social commentary. These TIMELY and TIMELESS song lyrics pointed squarely at (in some cases with the middle digit) the aggression and injustices, which were sullying and degrading humanity all across America and throughout our world.

Throughout the decades that followed, when liberal minded presidents were at the helm, we did manage to take some baby steps towards extricating ourselves from such ills. But… to keep it real… there were also conservatives who would not stand for any part of what we stood for… who were (still are) hell bent on undoing any and all progress. Which means…

There still is so much of our work that remains undone.

More recently, Barack Obama, our nation’s very first biracial President, did offer average Jane and Joe Americans that sunny ray of hope. But his plan to effect change we could all believe in head-on collided with political gridlock… “courtesy” of his obdurate opponents. Net effect, these archconservatives had been the political equivalent of an endless, total eclipse of the sun.

And considering how the present-day, backward, reptilian brained, Tyrant-o-saurus Rex has been on a national and international rampage… making his primary ongoing mission to muddy and cover up each and every forward moving footprint his predecessor had left… well… now more than ever, there is an ever-growing need to “air” this month’s BlogCast songs.

On a more positive note, if such lyrical sentiments are ever, truly taken to heart by the powers-that-be, we could wind up with an energizing soundtrack that’ll, eventually, fight and win the war against aggression, oppression and discrimination in all of their grotesque, deplorable forms. Well, at least we can dream about it, right?

You likely noticed those two capitalized and italicized “T” words at the outset of this blog. The TIMELY and TIMELESS quality of this music has the capability of engaging critical thinkers wherever we may be… at the very least… inspiring a far greater liberal turnout at the polls this midterm election year.

On a more technical note: Admittedly, choosing between featuring original recordings vs. cover versions was a tough call. To resolve this, I’ve formatted the covers to appear onsite and link to the originals offsite over @YouTube. For any of you, who choose to click onto the smaller font’s artist/song names beneath each vid’s main title, you’ll be treated to a comparative study of the earlier artists’ interpretations / renditions.

So, sans any further delay, let’s all ear and eyewitness how all of these recording artists have so adeptly and passionately infused their heart and soul into the musical mix. Be these songs Sixties era or more recent, they’ve kept my hope alive… and hopefully yours too… hope for a better global society and better tomorrows.

 

Lena Markley & Brother Sanford ~ Get Together

Youngbloods ~ Get Together

“L” Debois ~ What’s Going On

Marvin Gaye ~ What’s Going On

VazquezSounds ~ Blowin’ In The Wind

Bob Dylan ~ Blowin’ In The Wind
Stevie Wonder ~ Blowin’ In The Wind

Justice Collective ~ He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother

Hollies ~ He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother

 

In parting… all I can add, here, is…

As consequential, expressive and inspirational this program’s timeless songs have been, what a shame that the political wasteland we are presently slogging through has made them so desperately needed and damned relevant. Maybe someday they’ll be played purely based on their musical merits. Someday…

Thank You for listening, viewing and reading. I’ll be posting my next monthly BlogCast during the first week of May ’18.

To access past programs, click onto my BlogCasts and Music categories.

If you’ve found our musical get-together enjoyable, don’t forget to like, comment and share. Those options can be accessed by clicking onto each blog title.

 

 

 

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November BlogCast ~ Feast Your Ears on 5 Fab-4 Covers!

Welcome to my Thanksgiving Day BlogCast. My thanks to The Northmen for their too brief rendition / arrangement of Over the River and Through the Woods. Now, admittedly, while I am musically knowledgeable, finding other tunes tailor-made for this American holiday did prove to be a bit of a challenge. I realized that I was rapidly getting lost… deep in “those woods” as it were… and would need to come up with a new BlogCast theme.

So, free associating my thoughts wound up going along these lines…

Hmmm… Thanksgiving… what am I thankful for? Well I am thankful to my late, loving parents for having gone into debt to purchase a piano and pay for my music lessons and… hmmm… I am thankful that I had been born at just the right time to have eye and ear witnessed the birth of the Beatles and… hmmm… that band did provide the soundtrack to nearly my entire life and… hmmm… I do include dozens of Beatles songs in my keyboard repertoire and… well… that’s when everything suddenly fell into place!

Why not devote my entire monthly show to the Fab Four? However…

I then realized that this, too, could prove problematic. You see, mainly due to copyright issues, Beatles videos are too frequently yanked from YouTube. Yet, not being one to give up easily, I did find a cool way to circumvent this issue… namely… feature both big name and not so famous musicians’ superb covers of Beatles tracks.

About the only other comment I can add, here, is that the songwriting genius of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, as presented below, is not only timeless, it also leaves their compositions wide open to interpretation by a diverse community of musicians… all of which you will notice immediately as you click onto each of those play buttons.

So… the time has arrived to feast your ears and eyes on these music videos and have a Happy Turkey Day!

 

Stevie Wonder ~ We Can Work It Out

(Oh, BTW… Paul McCartney is in the audience)

Annarin ~ Revolution

Amy Winehouse ~ All My Lovin’

Santana ~ While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Phil Collins / George Martin ~ Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End

 

If you LIKE what you heard here this day, click back here for my next BlogCast on Sunday, December 24, 2017.

Past programs are archived in my BlogCast and Music categories.

 

 

Political Peeing Takes the “P” Out of the EPA

In the nearly half century since our very first, eye-opening Earth Day in 1970, the efforts we humans have taken towards saving our planet… saving our very lives… have been mere baby steps… i.e., insufficient to shallow out humankinds’ overall, deep, damaging carbon footprint.

And, as far as the new administration in DC is concerned… it is not concerned.

#45 and Scott Pruitt, his likeminded, malicious, handpicked Environmental Protection Agency stooge are both notorious climate change deniers, who are hell bent on greedily prioritizing currency’s green over naturally preserving chlorophyll’s green.

Instead of working diligently towards cleaning and greening the Earth, their negligence their premeditated outright, malfeasance can only serve to totally muck up our world. Ironic how politically peeing everything up can manage to take the “P” out of the EPA… and in the end… take out the Earth.

Well, Earth Day 2017 has now come and gone, but the frequent, freaky, ferocious weather strongly linked to climate change / global warming is here to stay. Admittedly, devastating hurricanes, tornados, wind-rain-snow-ice storms, lighting, flooding and droughts predate #45. Even so, it is his flat-out refusal to take any meaningful steps towards resolving this problem, which makes him a YUGE [sic] part of the problem. Stated more bluntly, some would brand him an environmental terrorist and all I can say is there’ll be no steps taken in this blog to refute such a claim.

In short, Mother Nature, who takes a dim view on all such dim “leaders”, is now fighting back… and… in the end… will win. If mankind won’t stand down, her attacking storms will intensify until she wipes us out… along with the very same, dirty, environmentally damaging technology that made our assault upon her possible.

My following true story comes straight from the frontlines of the Michigan battlefield…

Packing sustained wind speeds of 40 mph and gusts exceeding 6O mph, Mother Nature was certainly venting her anger. She had timed everything out, perfectly, so it would barrel down upon a vast area of North America on International Women’s Day Wednesday, March 8, 2017. And she did have good reason to be PO’d.

While far too many righties all across America would hotly deny it, manmade global warming / climate change was playing a major role in this threatening weather event. Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa likened these forces to a Category 2 Hurricane.

This past January’s political climate change in Washington, DC was not helping matters much, either. Indeed, now calling all the shots… stepping onto the world stage we could see #45, full of bluster and hot air, thoughtlessly and gleefully stomping his YUGE [sic] “Size 45”, carbon footprints all across our nation… all over our planet.

I’d have to concur with Torregrossa’s post storm assessment. While I’ve witnessed such destructive winds during my three score and two years, this had been associated with severe thunderstorms… the type usually occurring on sultry, sweltering summer days when clashing cold fronts spawn excessively strong gales… if not the actual tornados. But I could not recall ever experiencing such relentless, overpowering gusts on an otherwise sunshiny, March day… not even as a kite flying young boy. Yep, the tempest of 2017 was nothing like my windswept days of yore.

One needn’t have been clairvoyant to sense an imminent power outage… one that would render my natural gas fired furnace useless. Since it’d be far better to start out a late wintertime blackout with indoor temps of 70° vs. my usual, Spartan 58° Fahrenheit living conditions, it was time to become proactive. Starting around 10 a.m., with each successive heating cycle, I began gradually nudging my humble home’s thermostat upward by three degrees.

It was during my furnace’s second run that the power did go out… but, within mere minutes, it came back on. Had some power grid substation’s breaker “smartly” kicked in to isolate an adjacent circuit failure… thereby sparing me? Or had a soon-to-be, doomed-to-be downed power line simply, temporarily, arced back to reconnect?

Well, it was along about 3 p.m. when, all the sudden, my luck ran out. With an indoor temperature reading of 68° the power had failed once more. Would I be getting a second reprieve?

With each successive tick of my battery powered, quartz wall clock, inside… with each roaring wind gust, outside… where no restoration occurred, I began to feel that sinking feeling intensify and take root. That clock and wind were now the only sounds in town.

A quick inventory of my tech offered me some consolation. I could add my landline’s dial tone to my short list of familiar sounds. A rapidly fired off test text to my sister (to apprise her of my situation) and her reply meant the cell towers were still up and running, too. Of course, I already knew my laptop’s house current dependent modem would be dead as a doornail and my connection to the www would be severed for the duration.

With only about three hours of useful daylight remaining, I headed off to the kitchen to salvage whatever perishable refrigerated foods I could. Striking a match to ignite all four burners of my natural gas cooktop would not only allow me to cook but also keep my home warm. Shortly after cooking up a storm, I treated myself to a sit down, dining room table supper where I’d be gorging on ten… yep count ‘em… ten scrambled eggs sided with bacon and washed down with freshly brewed coffee. Within minutes, I had scarfed down quantities that would normally take me several weeks to consume. As for any other items that needed to stay cold, my car’s trunk had suddenly been upgraded into a makeshift refrigerator / freezer.

The changeover to Daylight Savings Time still being several days away, darkness descended far too soon requiring a flashlight to finish the kitchen cleanup. Fortunately, my no house current required, gas fired water heater could still supply all the hot water I needed.

A battery-powered radio tuned to my local NPR station, one that truly provides a valuable community service to its listeners, apprised us of the dire situation. Long news story short… of my state’s 10 million population, I was amongst the 1 million citizens cast into darkness by this massive power outage… one my energy provider later deemed the worst, most massive power failure in their 114-year history.

Conserving battery power being paramount, I soon silenced my radio. To entertain and cheer myself up a bit, I sat down at my piano in nearly total darkness. After locating “middle C”, I stuck to performing songs with “C” key signatures (those that didn’t require black key flats and sharps). As my playing got better, I added songs with “F”, “G” and “Bb” signatures… those with only minimal black keys in their scales. At that point I could truly appreciate the accomplishments of blind keyboard geniuses such as Stevie Wonder and the late Ray Charles… had a better sense of the obstacles these pianists had so completely and adeptly overcome.

After that? It was time to don my amateur astronomer cap and step outside. With such a vast area blacked out, viewing the night sky as Ma Nature had intended, was truly one of this outage’s brighter moments… darker moments. For a moment I had even considered hauling out my 90mm Refractor Telescope but several sudden wind gusts soon changed my mind. I could not risk such forces toppling and crashing it to the ground. And, as fate would have it, hours later… once the winds eventually did die down… that’s when the clouds promptly came rolling in.

With not much else to do after that, I turned in for the night. With my down parka serving as a makeshift pajama top and several extra blankets piled on, my own body heat had now become my auxiliary “furnace”. I did wind up getting several extra hours of sleep since there was little point of trying to cook my breakfast in the dark hours before daybreak.

Oatmeal, coffee, bread (untoasted) and jam were on the menu and once that meal was history I went out to my garage to retrieve most of the food from my car’s trunk. I’d need to rewrap certain items into individual portions because new weather forecasts were reporting that by the next nightfall, the temps would be dipping to the 15° F mark.

Well, 23 hours after the power failure had begun, just as I was texting my blackout update to my sister, the living room lamp came back on and I thanked my lucky stars that I had finally left the Dark Ages behind me. After waiting a few moments to be really sure this was over, I began plugging sensitive equipment back in and flipping circuit breaker panel switches back to their on positions. Getting my furnace roaring back to life was now top priority… the indoor temp had dropped from 68° to 57°.

Considering how it would take the power companies an additional eight days to fully restore electricity to all of their customers… and how there would be many subsequent nights where the temps would be bitter cold… dangerously cold… to have escaped all of that misery made me amongst the lucky few.

In the days that followed, while walking through my lifelong hometown, there was one ground zero battlefield, in particular, that was truly startling and thought provoking… a huge tree that had to have been over one hundred years old got toppled in one of the parks I frequent. In fact, it had crash-landed within mere feet of my favorite park bench… the spot where I normally sit to view the oncoming river… one of its major branches slightly denting the backrest.

I suspect that decades worth of acid rain, coupled with the unnatural, bright sodium and mercury vapor city street lights altered the way this tree grew… structurally weakening it until the windstorm could easily send it crashing to the ground.

This recent, humbling experience has once again reminded me of Mother Nature’s resounding message / wake up call… namely that we humans had better clean up our act before it’s too late. We need to be taking environmentally sound giant steps forward but that would require sound minded leadership and good stewardship of our planet… and… I ask… does that sound anything even remotely like an apt description of #45?