Sunday, November 27, 2016

My 100 Songs

Okay, this took awhile to finish. I started this in August of 2015, got busy, dropped it, picked it up again and now finally finished. It's Thanksgiving weekend at my parent's house as I write this and I can't settle on this list of 100 to save myself. For the past few days, I add two, drop one, on and on.

My original intent was to make my personal version of Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time with the knowledge that there is really NO TOP 100 or 500 rock 'n roll songs, it's all individual preference. What this comes down to is 100 songs that have a deep personal meaning to me (e.g. 'The Heart of the Matter'), or some long-term memory moment in time (e.g listening to 'Satisfaction' on my transistor radio in 1965 while wearing my steel metal roller skates). The trouble is, we all have too many moments to bottle in a 100,  but here I go anyway. Also, I have not rated my list, best 1-100 but there is a short starting point in time that quickly gets random.

The first album that I ever owned, I actually stole, The Beatles ‎– A Hard Day's Night (Original Motion Picture Sound Track). It was taken by me from my grandfather's record collection that I found in his wooden console record player at his house. I believe my dad told me he belonged to the Columbia Record Club and must have gotten this one thrown in as a bonus because I knew he didn't listen to it. I guess I'm explaining my childhood rationalization for stealing this album and even now feel I took it more as a need than a want. And boy, what an album it was, I'm listening to George Martin and won't know it until years later!

Playing records was something my parents never really did at our house, so this record was my start and made me feel that I was part of something different from my parents point of view. I'm actually visiting the childhood house now on Tunnell St. (Santa Maria, CA) where I started to play my own 45's and albums, in my room. I lived in a home where rock 'n roll was not embraced. I vividly remember my parents and church friends, The Reyburns, over at our old house on Sunset St. on a memorable Sunday evening. The parents were putting down The Beatles during their performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, as my brother, sister and I (along with the Reyburn children) were trying to tune the adults out and tune into the wonderful Beatles and their screaming fans on our black and white TV.

In 1967, my grandfather passed away and that wooden stereo console and his record collection, including Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra came to our house. I think like most American homes, the stereo console was off limits to the children, but we all sneaked our albums onto the best sound system in the house when our parents were gone. At a certain point, my parents gave up and so the console's vacuum tubes got heated up and were worn out by the early 70's. What a time, Buffalo Springfield on the stereo console and the Vietnam War live on the TV console. These two beasts of technology played across from each other in our converted garage family room with our new indoor/outdoor blue/green carpet.

From junior high 1966, music was a big part of my friends lives and thus became a big part of my life. As I moved into high school and through college, there were the larger than life bands, the break-ups, the new bands, the new single artist's, all with the blending of acoustic, electric and American musical genres. From the car radios, the new portable stereo systems and the concert experiences, music was right there for all my friends and me. Today, we still never stop talking about all the music- old and new. Here in this playlist, you are going to hear mostly 60's and 70's songs that I bonded with and are a part of me today. I'm sure if you read my blog on a regular basis, there are more than a few songs here that have always stayed with you too.

 As I write this, it's starting to rain right now and that's also a good memory for us in California too. The old forced-air heater has just whirled on and it's time for some Thanksgiving pie for breakfast. Take care my friends.


Monday, November 7, 2016

1964, 2016 All the Way

So last Saturday night, I watched the HBO film, All The Way starring the brilliant Bryan Cranston as Lyndon Johnson. The film begins with the Kennedy assignation and Johnson becoming President. As he moves into 1964, Johnson is determined to pass Kennedy's Civil Rights Act and secure his re-election in 1964. I implore you to watch All The Way on HBO GO or DVR before the 2016 presidential election on Tuesday. I'd been meaning to watch it for weeks, but the timing couldn't be better as a must see just before the most important presidential election of our lifetime. Why? Because history is the friend that repeats itself. I couldn't help but transpose the events of 1964 and preventing black people from voting in the South with the current voter suppression tactics still happening in the South in 2016.

The film also breaks down presidential elections which Johnson emphatically describes as, "war." The Goldwater vs Johnson election had two very contrasting choices as the film shows maybe the most powerful political message ever shown on television with the little girl and nuclear bomb ad. As I watched the ad in the movie, I couldn't help but think of our current contrast of candidates between Trump and Clinton and people's fear of Trump's access to the nuclear codes.


So what has this to do with music? Well, there is a scene in the film where Lyndon's youngest daughter, Luci walks past her dad in a White House hall and he stops her with his aides in tow to ask her how she is doing. In the scene, Luci is holding the 1964 album, Meet The Beatles in her arms. Now that struck me how father and daughter are living in the same big house in two very different worlds. The Beatles have landed in America and America is erupting with racial inequality, demonstration and violence. Another scene also grabs me, this time with the Republican Senator, Everett Dirksen and Johnson cajoling him into an eventual compromise to support the 1964 Civil Rights Bill. I'm intrigued by this as our past political leaders demonstrate how real leaders worked together to try to solve our countries problems. Back in the day, Dirksen and Johnson and even Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill didn't have to like each other, but they knew they had to work together to accomplish anything meaningful. I have this hope that we can reclaim some of that old time statesmanship with our future leaders and continue to move our country forward. 

All the while, we have music to soothe our souls. Here's a little 1964/2016 playlist to start your Monday as maybe a little distraction with our very important Tuesday. Please vote. Take care my friends and soak in the sounds.