“Opportunity dances with those who are already on the dance floor.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.
We’re close to firing up our new HVAC System. A four-man team from Furnace Doctors (furnacedoctors.org) hauled out the monstrous heat exchanger last week, so I’ve been considering how to move things around in my office. New ideas in heating and cooling can save us all money and may protect us from global warming.
One change leads to another and pretty soon things rise to the surface. First I found an envelope of photographs from 1997 and my last day as president of the Rotary Club of Tacoma #8. Some were funny and some were touching. I stared at the image of my family. Peg must have been at the head table, but at my family table were our friend Jan Runbeck, my sisters Marsha and Deedee, our son Del, my dad, and my mom. Missing were our youngest son and our daughter, who both were living in the Vancouver area.
Another photo I stared at for some time was Bill Leake, who had been Rotary president in 1960/1961 when I was in the ninth grade at Mann Junior High. I asked for Bill to present me with my past president’s pin. My mom, my Dad, and Bill Leake are gone now. My mom knew Bill from her job with the Boy Scouts Office in the 1950s. Tacoma Rotary used to be a big supporter of the Scouts . . . and Bill Leake led the charge.
I put the photographs away and looked for something to raise my spirits. From a four inch pile of envelopes and notes, I saw the CD of music from the one of my favorite funny films, Bowfinger. I love that movie. From the opening scene when Peg and I saw the film, I was hooked. It was as much the music as it was the story line. The song is “One More Chance.” The movie is about a movie producer who has yet to have a hit movie. Being involved in video production I know the challenges and all the highs and lows.
“If your whole life somehow
Wasn’t much ’til now
And you’ve almost lost
Your will to live
No matter what you’ve been through
Long as there’s breath in you
There is always one more time”
Doc Pomus / Kenneth W Hirsch
The song is sung by Johnny Adams. I listened to that song all afternoon as I cleaned up, straightened up, and threw away. So, who is Johnny Adams? I’m sure you don’t know and I sure didn’t know. He was born in 1932 and died in 1998. He was known as “The Tan Canary.” He sang blues, jazz, and gospel. Sometimes he combined them all into bluesy country western. His biggest hits were “Release Me” and “Reconsider Me” in the late 1960s. My new favorite is from his album “Best of New Orleans – Rhythm & Blues.” The song is definitely country western: “Hell Yes I Cheated.”
Listening to Johnny Adams struck a nerve. In the last week or two I had heard about a current black artist whose song is not listed on the country charts. Headline Article: Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” Breaks Drake’s Single-Week Streaming Record – ‘On April 8, “Old Town Road” became the No. 1 song in the country, capping a startling ascent that demonstrates what can happen when viral engineering meets lightning-rod controversy meets the pop uncanny.’ – nytimes.com/2019/04/11/arts/music/lil-nas-x-old-town-road-country-rap.html
Evidently the recording doesn’t feature traditional country western instruments. Perhaps the artist needed to have a banjo as part of the recording. To me, if it sounds like country, feels like country, and has country mental images, then it should be country.
“Oh turnin’ corners
Is only a state of mind
Keeping your eyes closed
Is worse than being blind”
Doc Pomus / Kenneth W Hirsch
One of my favorite albums of all times is “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music” recorded by Ray Charles. “The album’s integration of soul and country challenged racial barriers in popular music at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. In the process of recording the album, Charles became one of the first African-American musicians to exercise complete artistic control over his own recording career. In retrospect, it has been considered by critics as his best studio record and a landmark recording in American music. According to Robert Christgau, the album “transfigured pop, prefigured soul, and defined modern country & western music.” It has been called one of the greatest albums of all time by publications such as Rolling Stone and Time.” – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Sounds_in_Country_and_Western_Music
I wrote about one of the songs from that album in January – thesubtimes.com/2019/01/24/riverside-jazz-festival/ – It was a country western song being played at a local jazz festival.
As I sort out my office, and my piles of memories, I hope that our world will eventually develop an open mind, and become less rigid in our thinking and categorizing, music and people.