Rock of Ages — Hymns For All

hymns1   Onward, Christian Soldiers  Arthur Sullivan (of G & S fame) As a schoolboy, I attended chapel every day and each day there were hymns. It wasn’t a religious school, but they placed some kind of unspoken value on it by having us sing a couple of hymns each time. I also went to church with my family, until I strayed from the beaten path and became what we then called a juvenile delinquent. The one part of it all that I enjoyed was the music.

boyssing   Faith of Our Fathers  excerpt from Russ Morgan

 Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past  Bill Carrothers and gang

Reading the words about Christian soldiers or a mighty fortress or those in peril on the sea and croaking them out in the company of others was a satisfying and a melodic contrast to announcements and short homilies about behaving the rules, listening to one’s teachers and parents, and good study habits. There was melody, a nod to the spirit, and, at the end of each stanza, a reassuring resolution.

hymns9

Let’s move forward, Christian soldiers…

Navy Hymn performed by Dakota Dave Hull

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty performed by the Network Jazz Ensemble

Hymn To Freedom  Oscar Peterson

Martin Luther wrote them, Issac Watts and Charles Wesley wrote them, and, in my mind, they took their place next to Lieber and Stoller, Doc Pomus, and Chuck Berry. Music, given time, rises above its initial function so we can appreciate not only Beethoven and Charlie Parker, but marches, teenage heartbreak, songs of protest, songs of praise, and songs of joy, whether they are composed by the Beatles or that guy, Anon, or his friend, Traditional. It’s all music of the soul.

And, now, turn in your hymnals to…

hymnals   Hymn To Peace  Moondog

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Waking Up – First Things First

wu4I try to do it everyday. And, once there, I try to stay that way until it’s time for bed. Coffee is often helpful, but there’s nothing like music to ensure consciousness and to get into an appropriate mood for the rest of the day.

wu5   Good Morning, Good Morning   The Beatles

When I first became a stepfather and the kids were impressionable, I’d start off with Sousa, Fats Waller, and, sometimes, Earth, Wind, and Fire. It worked for me, but it was a struggle for them just to pull themselves out of bed and lurch toward school. As a wise sage once said, Different strokes for different folks.

wu7   Sleepers Awake   Incredible String Band

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I still like to begin the day with some kind of intention. That’s fine when one lives alone, but to keep the peace, I’ve learned to take my coffee into my office and close the door. If this is something you do, let me know what’s on at your house.

Start Off Each Day With A Song   Jimmy Durante

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The Word From Mose

mose4131

Rest in Peace, Mose.

A reprint from 2013.

Mose Allison was born in Tippo, MS. You can hear it in his voice, but how did he get so hip? It must have been the city. He moved to New York in 1958 and played and toured for 65 years. The joke has always been that he’s played everywhere. Greg Brown once sang, As I set up, I am proud to be here, Because once last November, Mose Allison played here. In Minneapolis alone, I think I must have seen him at four or five different venues, from the Guthrie Theater to that happy-hour dive in the basement on Hennepin Avenue. 65 years!  Bob, you still have a ways to go.

Everybody Cryin’ Mercy

His mustache and early gray hair always marked him as a dapper guy who most likely drove an MG and knew about abstract art. He probably did, but it didn’t seem to match that southern drawl. In my early years of listening to him, I don’t think I understood who or what he was. So many assumptions. What was true was that he was a southern gentleman, who played constantly and unlike anyone else. And what about that voice? Who could be hipper or more aware of the weird moments and strange relationships that are everywhere, if you were awake to them? His piano style is a combination of down home funk and sophistication that provides a foundation fluid enough for his unmatched lyrics.

   Ask Me Nice

Those lyrics go to the heart of the philosophical matter and speak the truth with unique wit and social criticism. Any lyrics to the songs that he played, but didn’t write, effortlessly became all his. No one could deliver them like he could – Drinkin’ and gamblin/ stayin’ out all night/ I’m just livin’ in a fool’s paradise. Or, Ain’t got no Basie with Lester/ I ain’t got nothing but the blues.

And what about his lyrics?

   I’m Not Talking     mose4133

 I don’t worry ‘bout a thing/ ‘cause I know nothin’s gonna to be all right.   Your mind is on vacation and your mouth is working overtime.    If you’re going to the city/ you better have some cash.   One of these days, you know/ I’ve got to go back home/
I’m gonna sit out on my front porch/ and compose a poem.     If you live/ your time will come .  
And –

 I’m back on the corner/I’m right back on the corner/I’ve been in this condition so many times before.    I don’t have no trouble livin’/It’s just dyin’ that bothers me.     You’re uptight/ It ain’t right/ Well, tell me something that I don’t know.

I’m sitting over here on Parchman farm/ Ain’t never done no man no harm.

     What’s With You?    mpse4134

Stop this game, deal me out/I know too well what it’s all about/I know too well that it had to be/ Stop this game, you know it’s ruining me.

   Your Molecular Structure   mose4132

Your molecular structure, baby, ooowie!!! 

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The Beau Hunks — Heroes of Hollywood

bh11   BellsI’ve always loved the Beau Hunks in their many incarnations. They are Dutch musicians, who came together to play music from Laurel and Hardy movies. They took their name from a Laurel and Hardy movie of the same title. They have recorded albums of music by Leroy Shield, the composer for the Laurel and Hardy films and for The Little Rascals, music of the somewhat demented Raymond Scott, Ferde Grofe, and other old and neglected/forgotten composers.

bh14   Look At Him Now

One of the many things I didn’t know was that they – Piet Schreuders, Peter Stove, Jan Robjins, Robert Veen, and Menno Daams –  members of the group, collected VHS film clips from the films, assembled the most complete versions of the songs, themes, and filler, and, painstakingly, transcribed this music, so that their orchestra could play it, note for note, and preserve it for all of us. No sheet music existed, no original masters remained, and there were no partial, complete, or documented notes that could be found.

bh8   Little Dancing Girl

Like many, I spent a large chunk of childhood parked in front of the TV. Laurel and Hardy seemed to be on all the time. It appeared they were always in trouble. Or, as Ollie would say, “Here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.” There were many anxious moments and some of the music reflects this and still retains the ability to make me squirm. It’s visceral. It’s in my bones. It’s Laurel and Hardy PTSD. But I try to avoid those; the rest is so much fun.

bh13   On A Sunny Afternoon

The music takes me back to those days in my own past and to the past that the films inhabit. This beautiful music fed my imagination as a kid, and it continues to do so. The Beau Hunks are responsible and conjure all this and remind me of all those interrelated moments of time, anxious or not.

Dot and Dash

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October Flashback — Robin Williamson

lreaves   October Song — Robin WilliamsonA flashback from posts past. It is, again, October, and the trees outside are golden, and this is a beautiful song.

I’ll sing you this October song,
Oh, there is no song before it.
The words and tune are none of my own,
But my joys and sorrows bore it.

Beside the sea
The brambly briars in the still of evening,
Birds fly out behind the sun,
And with them I’ll leaving.

The fallen leaves that jewel the ground,
They know the art of dying,
And leave with joy their glad gold hearts,
In the scarlet shadows lying.

When hunger calls my footsteps home,
The morning follows after,
I swim the seas within my mind,
And the pine trees laugh green laughter.

I used to search for happiness,
And I used to follow pleasure,
But I found a door behind my mind,
And that’s the greatest treasure.

For rulers like to lay down laws,
And rebels like to break them,
And the poor priests like to walk in chains,
And God likes to forsake them.

I met a man whose name was Time,
And he said, “I must be goin,”
But just how long ago that was,
I have no way of knowing.

Sometimes, I want to murder time,
Sometimes, when my heart’s aching,
But mostly I just stroll along,
The path that he is taking.

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Exile on Main Street

exile1   Ventilator BluesIf I ever need to or want to remember a bit of what I felt like at twenty or if I ever need or want to know what 1972 felt like to me, all I need to do is to put on Exile on Main Street. Frustrated, angry, afraid, defiant, excited, and wanting more.

John White and I were outside all night in Denver, in line, to get tickets. We played cards and talked with the other maniacs. A month later, the show opened with Stevie Wonder and then, after that treat, The Stones came on and wailed for the rest of the night.

viet nixon2   Soul Survivor1972 wasn’t the best time in the world. I had a student deferment from the draft (thank God), but the war (we only had one then) was going on, the Beatles were gone, Nixon was president, the climate of everything was about to change drastically, and the whole world seemed crazy. It was time to turn up the volume.

kent-state   Let It Loose

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Peter Stampfel — Holy Rounder

ps1   I hope there is always room in this world for deep, silly, serious goofballs like Peter Stampfel. There’s no telling how he got to be this way, but it seems he began with an unshakeable and unique take on things.

ps5    Country Bump

Throughout a lifetime of music, he has given the world many strange songs of sweetness and light and performed infinite interpretations of tunes that for many people altered their perceptions permanently. He’s fronted many groups that shine like lighthouses across the enormous sea of conformity, business as usual, and complacent consumers. The Fugs, The Holy Modal Rounders, Stampfel and Weber, The Du-Tells, The Bottlecaps, The Unholy Modal Rounders, The Dysfunctionells, and others too numerous and obscure to remember or mention.

ps3   Astro Boy

stampfelfast   When The Iceworms Nest Again

Jeanine’s Dream

He plays fiddle, banjo, sings, writes songs, tells stories, and, I’m sure, has many other talents. He has seen it all, from the great Midwest (in his case, Wisconsin) to folk-infested Bleeker Street, to dreamy California. He’s made music in his own way, on his own terms.

moicyMidnight In Paris

At 77, he’s getting to be kind of an old guy, though through recordings and in spirit, he’ll remain ageless. For most of my life, he’s always been on one of my shoulders (devil or angel?) singing something that made me feel better. I’m grateful for that and glad he’s still doing it.

ps2   Happy Rolling Cowboy

 

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