Category Archives: History

Music on Mondays (5-11-15)

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

At the beginning of each day, I check in with history.com and wikipedia.com to see what happened on this day in history.

Since I currently am listening to music from my music collection for 1978, I thought I would see what happened on this date in 1978. Here are three events that stood out for me:

Sweden became the first nation to ban aerosol sprays because of their damage to the earth’s protective ozone layer.

Cult leader Jim Jones convinced over 900 members of his church, “People’s Temple,” to commit suicide.

Karl Wallenda, founder of the Flying Wallendas, dies after falling off a tight-rope.

Those three events stood out because they reminded me of specific songs. Sweden reminds me of ABBA, and ABBA reminds me of their great song “Fernando,” one of only 39 singles that has sold over ten million copies.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Whenever I hear the word “suicide,” I think of Queen’s 1980 song, “Don’t Try Suicide,” one of the few Queen songs that Queen has never performed in concert. It was the B side of their single “Another One Bites The Dust.” Hmmmm. Another one bites the dust but don’t try suicide….

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Anything about the Wallendas and tight ropes remind me of Leon Russell and his song “Tight Rope,” a #11 hit for him in 1972.

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Doomed to a continued existence of fighting and killing each other

Opinion

Rebel Yell by S.C. GwynneI have always been fascinated by history, particularly the history of wars. Right now I am reading Rebel Yell by S. C. Gwynne, subtitled “The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson.” It’s a serious tome—575 pages of reading, 45 pages of notes, and 13 pages of bibliography. The copy I have is an “Advance Reader’s Edition.” Sadly, I seem never to read these privileged editions until well after the book has been published, in this case October 2014. Nonetheless….

Mighty Stonewall by Frank VandiverStonewall Jackson was one of the Confederacy’s greatest generals during the Civil War. The first book I ever read that was dedicated solely to Stonewall Jackson was Mighty Stonewall by Frank E. Vandiver (1925-2005), published in 1957. Dr. Vandiver was president of Texas A&M University from 1981 to 1988.

When I heard that a history professor had been named president of my alma mater, I was fascinated and immediately turned to finding out more about him. That was when I discovered his Mighty Stonewall book. Dr. Vandiver was a foremost authority on the Civil War, and he is mentioned several times in the notes and bibliography of Gwynne’s book.

I am barely halfway through Gwynne’s book, but it is obvious what the “violence” and “passion” in the subtitle mean. Jackson was extraordinarily violent, even going so far as to shoot his own men when he deemed it necessary. The passion comes from his dedication to “Providence.” He had a firm belief that he was fighting for God. Since I haven’t finished the book, and Jackson died two years before the end of the war, I don’t know where “redemption” comes from.

Jackson died on May 10, 1863, of complications from pneumonia which set in after he had been wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville. I would have liked to have heard how he reconciled losing the war if God was on his side and the side of the Confederacy.

Therein, though, lies part of the problem that still exists in the world, a problem that has existed forever and probably will exist forevermore: a belief in a magical guy in the sky who wants humans to fight for him. If only everyone could believe in the same magical guy, no one would have to fight. Of course, we could also ask, “If that magical guy is so all-knowing and all-powerful, why can’t he fight his own wars?”

religion was our first attempt stampReligion was humanity’s first attempt at explaining the world and universe. Mankind’s first attempts at doing anything are bad, some of them notoriously bad. Religion was not very good at explaining things, relying on myth, superstition, magic, mind control, etc. It’s not religion’s fault. Humanity and science simply had not evolved to the point where the universe could be better understood without making up things. It is religion’s fault for not getting with the times.

science and religionAs long as there are people willing to believe religious dogmas written thousands of years ago instead of using logic, reasoning, science, facts, etc., to understand the universe, and to kill in the name of that religion, humanity is doomed to a continued existence of fighting and killing each other.

A few more of my favorite memes collected from the Internet, and I make no apology to my Christian friends. That’s what’s wonderful about America—people are free to believe what they want, or not to believe at all, and to criticize each other for their beliefs, or lack thereof.

witches

the dark ages

superstition

salvation

left-handed sin

imaginary friend

fabricate supreme being

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Music on Mondays (4-27-15)—Curiosity killed the cat

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Many decades ago when personal computers were just hitting the market, I bought ten Apple Macintosh computers for my new word processing company in College Station, Texas. I had owned an Apple III and was happy with it. Unfortunately, all ten Macintoshes were lemons, and Apple refused to fix them. So I simply returned them, got all my money back, and moved on to the PC world. I never looked back, and to this day, nothing Apple has done has encouraged me to give them another try.

There is one area, however, that Apple seems to be doing something that I do appreciate, and that’s in the realm of music.

When George Harrison died in 2001, very few of his albums were available on CD, certainly not as digital downloads. Now all of them are, courtesy of iTunes.

Little River Band is another group that I have been waiting for their early work to be issued digitally, and finally it has been, again courtesy of iTunes.

As I look around today I noticed that there are a lot of groups remastering and re-releasing early work specifically for iTunes. Once the masses get it, of course, it shows up on YouTube, and from there one can make a playlist. Once it’s available on YouTube, it tends to become available elsewhere, such as Spotify, Grooveshark, Rhapsody, and Amazon. Thus, today, I added Little River Band’s first three albums—”Little River Band,” “After Hours,” and “Diamantina Cocktail”—to my music collection.

The second song on their eponymous first album is titled  “Curiosity (Killed The Cat).” You just know I have to share a song about cats, even if curiosity killed the poor feline.

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“Curiosity (Killed The Cat)” was Little River Band’s first single, released in November 1975 and peaking at #12 on the Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart. The single made no impact in the United States. In fact, it would be another eleven months before Little River Band hit the American Top 40 with “It’s A Long Way There.”

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The single version of “It’s A Long Way There” came in at 4:17 whereas the album version was a whopping 8:39. Here’s the album version:

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Music on Mondays (4-20-13)—You can’t catch me but we can all come together in Folsom Prison

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Many decades ago when personal computers were just hitting the market, I got a gig with Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Houston’s largest law firm at the time, merging the computer culture with their corporate culture and teaching their secretaries, paralegals, assistants, and attorneys how to use computers and the prevalent software at the time, which was Lotus-1-2-3, PC Write, WordStar, and WordPerfect.

Ever since those days I have had an inordinate interest in the law, often making it an avocation wherever I have been.

Perhaps the aspect of law that I most enjoy is copyright law, so it’s only natural that when my love of music butts heads with the law, I find it interesting. I mean, after all there are only so many notes, chords, and riffs that can be strung together to make music and songs. Over time, then, there’s bound to be a little borrowing here and there, even if only subconsciously.

Here are two music lawsuits involving the very rich and famous, and that the richer and more famous person lost:

The great Johnny Cash was sued by Gordon Jenkins who claimed that Cash used lyrics and melody from Jenkins’ 1953 composition “Crescent City Blues” in his 1955 hit “Folsom Prison Blues.” Even the opening lines are similar. Cash paid up, to the tune of $75,000.

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There’s no question that in the realm of music, Chuck Berry was rich and famous. However, he sued someone even richer and more famous, John Lennon, and won.

Berry’s publishing company sued Lennon, claiming that lines and melodies for “Come Together” were taken from Berry’s 1956 song, “You Can’t Catch Me.” As part of the settlement, Lennon agreed to record three songs owned by publisher Morris Levy, including a cover of “You Can’t Catch Me” for Lennon’s 1975 covers album Rock ‘N’ Roll.

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Music on Mondays (4-13-15)—You poor little fool

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

One of my favorite television programs when I was in grade school was The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, on the air from 1952 to 1966.

As music became an integral part of my life with violin, piano, and voice, Ozzie & Harriet’s son, Rick, became part of my life.

Before I ever discovered Ricky Nelson, though, he already had two #1 hit singles, “Poor Little Fool” from 1958, and “Travelin’ Man” from 1961.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The period before I discovered him in 1972 resulted in eighteen Top 10 hits! I discovered him when “Garden Party” peaked at #6 in 1972.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In 1985, the Texas A&M football team had won the Southwest Conference Championship and was to meet Auburn University in the Cotton Bowl on January 1, 1986, in Dallas.

I had many friends living in the Dallas area, and one of them got us tickets to a New Year’s Eve concert, billed as a New Year’s Eve Extravaganza with Ricky Nelson. Sadly, Nelson’s private jet crashed in De Kalb, Texas, northeast of Dallas, and about two miles short of the landing strip. The crash happened at 5:14 p.m. Dallas time; I was at a bar celebrating when the news began circulating around 9:00 p.m. that Ricky Nelson was dead. There was no extravaganza that night.

Up until 1993 I still had the obviously unused ticket to the concert but I think it got left behind in Texas when I came to San Diego. It probably got thrown away. Too bad because it would probably be worth quite a bit of money!

Of course, I have to mention that Texas A&M won the Cotton Bowl Classic on January 1, 1986, beating an Auburn team that featured Heisman Trophy-winning running back Bo Jackson. Final score was 36-16.

Fightin' Texas Aggie Band from Texas A&M University

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Preventing spies from secretly entering the United States….

Did you know?

Yesterday I did a home inspection in San Ysidro. It’s pretty close to the most southwestern point in the continental United States:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The most southwestern point, though, is not a city. It’s a park, the Border Field State Park:

Border Field State Park in San Diego County, California

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See that doohickey behind the sign, though, the one with the circular thingy on the top?

What do you suppose that is?

I thought it was a fence, but when I examined it closer, turns out it’s not a fence at all.

It’s an “Ocean Outfall Anti-Intrusion Structure”:

img_1342 ocean outfall anti-intrusion structure

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I’m pretty sure that whatever was within the fenced area was the ocean outfall anti-intrusion structure. But just WHAT IS an ocean outfall anti-intrusion structure? A-ha! (not the group). I’m glad you asked.

Margaritas at On The Border in El Cajon, CaliforniaAn ocean outfall is a sewer pipe that terminates in the ocean. (Yuk! I’m never going in the ocean again!)

I do know that the ocean outfall sewer pipe was built in 1998 and cost a whopping $131 million. (That would cover the cost of 32,750,000 happy hour margaritas at On The Border! ►)

Actually, the outfall is sewage that has been treated at the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant.

In other words, the United States built a wastewater treatment plant to treat raw sewage flowing from Tijuana (that’s in Mexico!) into the United States via the Tijuana River.

The Tijuana River is 120 miles long, but only 115 miles is in Mexico. The final five miles are in San Diego County, running through the Tijuana River Estuary and Border Field State Park.

I found a map that shows exactly what is going on here:

Ocean outfall map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Tijuana used to dump a great majority of their raw sewage into the Tijuana River, but the map above shows the San Antonio de los Buenos Treatment Plant, the Tijuana Wastewater Canal, and Pump Station No. 1 with an arrow pointing to the International Wastewater Treatment Plant in the United States. So now, instead of dumping all that sewage into the river, it gets treated and pumped to the United States for further treatment, after which it is dumped into the Pacific Ocean four miles offshore. Oh, the complicated things we do to get rid of our poop….

Here’s what the Tijuana River used to look like at the time I arrived in San Diego in April 1993:

Tijuana River

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That was on the Mexico side of the border, but you can imagine the crap (pun intended) that was flowing in the river to the United States side.

And warning signs were everywhere on the beaches near the mouth of the Tijuana River:

Pollution warning sign

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Okay, so we know what an ocean outfall is, but what about the anti-intrusion structure part of it? What’s going through my mind is spies in their diving suits four miles out there in the Pacific Ocean finding the termination point of the ocean outfall pipe and swimming four miles through the pipe to eventually wind up on land…. AND IN THE UNITED STATES! How terrible would that be, to have sewage-covered spies arriving secretly in the United States! The anti-intrusion structure prevents those dastardly spies from getting into the United States! Oh, my mind is just full of visuals from B-grade spy movies of the ’60s….

A second thought is that there is some sort of one-way valve behind the fence that prevents ocean water from intruding through the pipe and into the wastewater treatment plant. The fence prevents someone from tampering with the valve. Hmmm. That actually seems plausible….

But I like my spy movie better….

Sadly, Google and Wikipedia are providing absolutely no help here, so I’m going with spies….

Spy

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Music on Mondays (4-6-15)—Another day with me and you and a dog named Boo on the Indian reservation

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Most of my readers probably know that I have a lot of music comprising many genres of which most is either in the pop category or classical. I call the pop category my non-classical music. Currently I have 1,670 hours, 32 minutes, and 10 seconds of non-classical music. I listen to an average of 11 hours, 10 minutes of music each and every day, which means that it takes me about 149½ days just to listen to the non-classical music. It takes me the rest of the year to listen to all my classical music.

Long-time readers also probably know that I listen to my non-classical music in chronological order. Today I’m in the year 1971. Of the many albums released that year, I have 58 of them. In the order in which I listen to them:

  1. Kongos by John Kongos
  2. First Album by ZZ Top
  3. Salisbury by Uriah Heep
  4. Chicago III by Chicago
  5. Paranoid by Black Sabbath
  6. Crazy Horse by Crazy Horse
  7. Love It To Death by Alice Cooper
  8. Ring Of Hands by Argent
  9. The Yes Album by Yes
  10. Percy by The Kinks
  11. Aqualung by Jethro Tull
  12. Manna by Bread
  13. Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones
  14. The Doobie Brothers by The Doobie Brothers
  15. Survival by Grand Funk
  16. Bloodrock 3 by Bloodrock
  17. Thirds by The James Gang
  18. Songs For Beginners by Graham Nash
  19. Ram by Paul & Linda McCartney
  20. L.A. Woman by The Doors
  21. Indelibly Stamped by Supertramp
  22. Tarkus by Emerson, Lake & Palmer
  23. Every Good Boy Deserves Favor by The Moody Blues
  24. Fireball by Deep Purple
  25. Master Of Reality by Black Sabbath
  26. Who’s Next? by The Who
  27. April Wine by April Wine
  28. Bark by Jefferson Airplane
  29. Future Games by Fleetwood Mac
  30. Harmony by Three Dog Night
  31. Look At Yourself by Uriah Heep
  32. Imagine by John Lennon
  33. Rock Love by The Steve Miller Band
  34. American Pie by Don McLean
  35. Other Voices by The Doors
  36. REO Speedwagon by REO Speedwagon
  37. The Morning After by The J. Geils Band
  38. UFO 2—Flying by UFO
  39. Distant Light by The Hollies
  40. Meddle by Pink Floyd
  41. Cold Spring Harbor by Billy Joel
  42. Funny How Sweet Co-Co Can Be by The Sweet
  43. Muswell Hillbillies by The Kinks
  44. Nazareth by Nazareth
  45. People Like Us by The Mamas & The Papas
  46. Sittin’ In by Loggins & Messina
  47. Year Of Sunday by Seals & Crofts
  48. Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin
  49. Nilsson Schmillson by Nilsson
  50. Fragile by Yes
  51. E Pluribus Funk by Grand Funk
  52. Madman Across The Water by Elton John
  53. Killer by Alice Cooper
  54. Trafalgar by The Bee Gees
  55. Straight Up by Badfinger
  56. The Electric Light Orchestra by The Electric Light Orchestra
  57. The Concert For Bangladesh by George Harrison & Friends
  58. Wild Life by Wings

So which is my favorite album? I couldn’t decide. Maybe there is a tie for first place:

Ram by Paul & Linda McCartney
Who’s Next? by The Who
Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin
Nilsson Schmilsson by Nilsson
Trafalgar by The Bee Gees.

If you know those albums well, you’ll notice that every song on the albums are quite singable, and I love to sing.

I also have 71 individual song files but I’m not going to list all of them here. I can’t choose my favorite among them, either, but following are ten that I love to sing along with. I hope they bring back some pleasant memories for someone.

Jeepster by T. Rex
Not released as a single

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Another Day by Paul McCartney
McCartney’s first post-Beatles single, a #5 hit

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Indian Reservation by Paul Revere & The Raiders
Their only #1 hit

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Me & You & A Dog Named Boo by Lobo
Lobo’s first single, a #5 hit

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Albert Flasher by The Guess Who
#29 hit

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Signs by Five Man Electrical Band
Their first single, a #3 hit

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Draggin’ The Line by Tommy James
A #4 hit a year after James said good-bye to The Shondells

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Saturday Morning Confusion by Bobby Russell
Russell wrote dozens of hits for others
but had only two hits himself
this his biggest at #28

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Where Evil Grows by The Poppy Family
A #45 hit, although until this blog post
I thought it made it much higher.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Rain Dance by The Guess Who
#19

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