Category Archives: Music on Mondays

Music on Mondays (8-25-14)—Look at granny run (still got run over by the reindeer, though)

 

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

When my wise old grandmother died in 2003, her three living sons (my dad died in 1961) disinvited me to the funeral. Now stupid me didn’t realize that you could only go to funerals if an invitation to attend had been extended to you. Stupid, stupid me.

The funeral was to be in Kingsville, Texas, the farming and ranching community where she had lived since 1937. My three uncles, one from Kingsville, one from Houston, and one from Los Angeles (where he had lived since 1967) all thought that I would bring Jim and we would be dressed in drag and making out in the front pew of the Catholic Church. Seriously, that’s what they were afraid of….

My wise old grandmotherIt was more than that. Much more. You see, Jim and I had been to Kingsville many times (yearly from 1995 to 2003) to see Grandma. Jim knew all three uncles and had been out to eat with them many times. Jim had even been to the family reunion for my Grandma’s side of the family…. Twice! So it’s not like no one knew that Jim and I were an item.

Sadly, my Kingsville uncle (we will call him Rodney since that’s his name) warned me that he couldn’t guarantee that nothing would happen if Jim and I came to the funeral. Then in his next sentence he had the gall to ask me to be a pallbearer. That, of course, would mean going to the funeral without Jim, and since Rodney had more guns than the United States Army, I took him at his word and did not go the funeral. My disappointment was assuaged by a friend who told me, “Funerals are for the living, so don’t go if they don’t want you.”

Not only did I not go, but in September 2004, I legally changed my name to Russel Ray (from Russel Ray Kirk). Names are for the living, too! I wanted to change it to Bryan Lynn Austin but Jim (and others) convinced me to just drop my last name and take my middle name as my last name. So there you have it. To this day, I’m estranged from everyone on my dad’s Catholic side of the family except a gay cousin (and from everyone on my mom’s Mormon side of the family, too).

In honor of my wise old grandmother, and grandmothers everywhere, I thought that we’d listen to songs about grandmothers for today’s Music on Mondays. In order to do this, though, I have to break my rule that songs featured in Music on Mondays are songs that I have in my music collection. After listening to these songs, I understand why none of them are in my collection………..

“Look At Grandma” by Bo Diddley

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“Hey, Grandma” by Moby Grape

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“Grandma’s Hands” by Bill Withers

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“Funky Granny” by Kool & The Gang

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“Boomin’ Granny” by The Beastie Boys

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“Let’s Go See Gran’ma” by Joy & Dave

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“Look at Granny Run, Run” by Howard Tate

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“Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” by Elmo & Patsy

I leave you with this thought that my wise old grandmother told me in 1966:

“Ten percent of the people will love you because that’s the kind of people they are. Ten percent of the people will hate you because that’s the kind of people they are. Eighty percent of the people will love or hate you based on your words and actions, so speak and act lovingly.”

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Music on Mondays (8-18-14)—Missing you

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

On January 2, 2014, I upgraded from Internet Explorer 8 to 9.

I didn’t realize it until March 27, 2014, but the day I upgraded from 8 to 9 was the day that I started having WordPress problems when I visited other blogs. LIKE buttons and comment boxes would not load, but only on blogs whose URL ended in wordpress.com.

If someone had an upgraded or self-hosted blog with a URL like mine (russelrayphotos2.com), there were no problems.

The ratio of free (wordpress.com) blogs to upgraded/self-hosted blogs (russelrayphotos.com) is about nine to one.

Since I could not interact with bloggers on nine out of ten blogs that I visited, I kind of quit trying. Thus I got about ten months behind in my daily blogging/liking/commenting life.

On March 27, 2014, I upgraded from Internet Explorer 9 to 10. All problems immediately ceased, and I set about catching up on my daily blogging/liking/commenting life. I like to be about 30 days behind, i.e., if you visit me today, I’ll be by to see you in about 30 days. That allows for people who don’t post very often to have at least 30 days in which to publish just one post. Just one!

Sadly, many people that I was following have quit blogging. At one time my Excel spreadsheet had 3,879 links to bloggers that I was following. That is down to 2,460. Over fourteen hundred people have quit!

So for today’s Music on Mondays, I thought we would listen to some songs about how much I miss you.

“Miss You” by The Rolling Stones

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“Miss You Like Crazy” by Natalie Cole

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“Missing You” by John Waite

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“Missing You” by Steve Perry

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“Here Without You” by 3 Doors Down

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“Where’d You Go?” by Fort Minor

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“More Than A Memory” by Garth Brooks

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“Without You, What Do I Do With Me?” by Tanya Tucker

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Music on Mondays (8-11-14)—My favorite bass songs

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

I was a mere nine years old when The Beatles invaded America. We were sheltered in Utah, though, so we didn’t know about The Beatles until almost eighteen months later. I was immediately stricken with them when I finally heard their music. Paul was always my favorite Beatles because I found that I liked the way he played bass, often pushing the songs along. I think my favorite McCartney bass is on Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da off of The White Album. McCartney just pushes that song along, and it’s a lot of fun to sing, too.

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My favorite post-Beatles bass composition of McCartney’s is “Silly Love Songs” from 1976. Once again, McCartney’s bass drives the song along.

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Two of my other favorite bassists from the ’60s and ’70s were Peter Cetera of Chicago, and Tiran Porter of The Doobie Brothers.

When I came to San Diego from Texas in April 1993, I quit collecting music and didn’t listen to it as much. Now, with digital music and the ability to easily buy individual songs and inexpensive collections (previously known as “albums” and “CDs,” I have been catching up on groups that released albums and CDs in the ’90s and up to the present.

One of the groups that I have really grown fond of is Little River Band. I never liked them during the peak of their popularity. Here’s one of my favorite songs of theirs because of the driving bass played by Wayne Nelson.

“No More Tears,” 1983

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Recently Julian introduced me to The White Stripes. Here’s a song that really motivates me, driving me along to success with its great bass, played by Jack White, who also happens to play that mean guitar:

“Seven Nation Army,” 2003

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Music on Mondays (8-4-14)—Music about suicide

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

For today’s Music on Mondays, I want to touch on a subject that often is considered taboo to talk about: suicide.

Two months before my sixth birthday, my father committed suicide. He did it on his 31st birthday in January 1961.

Suicide affected my life again in 1983 when my then-best friend’s father in Houston committed suicide. I was a pallbearer at the funeral.

Then, on April 15, 1993, I left College Station, Texas, for points north (also known as Canada) to commit suicide. I was 38 at the time, and too patriotic to kill myself in the United States of America. I don’t even know what I mean by that, but that was my thinking at the time.

Long story short, I wound up in San Diego after driving to Fargo, North Dakota, over to Seattle, Washington, up to Vancouver, and then making my way south to San Diego.

As early as 2000, studies started appearing indicating that there was evidence of suicide inheritability, a suicide gene if you will. With the continued overpopulation of the Earth (now approaching eight billion people) and the proliferation of the 24/7 news cycle on the Internet, news about suicides and attempted suicides is much more common than in the distant past.

Approximately one million people die by suicide each year and it is estimated that there are ten to twenty times as many suicide attempts. Along with the suspected suicide gene, many social factors can result in suicide. In the case of my dad, he had discovered that my mom had been cheating on him. In my case, I decided that I didn’t want to live as a closeted gay man, and the Texas society I lived in, as well as my own Mormon (mom) and Catholic (dad) family, wouldn’t permit me to live as an openly gay man. So suicide it was to be….

There are risk factors and warning signs of suicide. Sadly, I’m still at risk and I still do exhibit some warning signs. In fact, in 2000 I was suicidal because I was fired from my job, the best job I ever had. My boss, my friend, had just gotten married to a woman who had expressly told me that she didn’t like me and if she ever married Jeff, she would make sure I was fired. She succeeded. Sadly, six months after they were married, she filed for divorce and took him for $37 million. In Texas we called women like her a gold digger, and she lived and breathed every stereotype.

On May 12, 2012, National Train Day, I disappeared, intent on committing suicide by stepping in front of an Amtrak train cruising around a curve at 90 mph. I knew which curve it was going to be. There would be no chance for the train to stop in time, and I would be assured of being splattered from here to eternity. But I went train riding first, and I had so much fun riding the trains that day that I made it home okay.

For a great discussion about suicide, risk factors, and warning signs, see Recognize the warning signs of suicide. For a list of suicide help lines, see the Wikipedia entry: List of suicide crisis lines.

Here are some of my favorite songs about suicide, its causes, and its lasting effects. The first song, “Alone Again (Naturally)” by Gilbert O’Sullivan, was my favorite song in 1972 when I was a junior in high school, a time when I was suicidal because I just wasn’t having those feelings for the opposite gender that all my friends were having. It was a frustrating time for me.

Gilbert O’Sullivan – Alone Again (Naturally) – 1972
The singer tells of his plans to commit suicide after being left at the altar.

Elton John – I Think I’m Going to Kill Myself – 1972
A tongue-in-cheek parody of a moody teenager’s thoughts about suicide.

Queen – Don’t Try Suicide – 1980
Interesting in that this is one of the very few
Queen songs that they never performed in concert.

Ozzy Osbourne – Suicide Solution – 1980
On January 12, 1986, Osbourne was served with a lawsuit
by the parents of John McCollum,
a depressed teenager who committed suicide
allegedly after listening to this song.

Metallica – Fade to Black – 1984
This song address suicidal feelings.
Metallica reported in 1991 that they got hundreds of letters from kids telling how they related to the song and that it made them feel better.

INXS – Suicide Blonde – 1990
Written by Michael Hutchence,
who committed suicide on November 22, 1997.
His lover, Paula Yates, died of an overdose on
September 17, 2000, after attempting suicide in 1998.

Pantera – Suicide Note – 1996
Almost one third of suicides are accompanied by a suicide note.

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Again, for a great discussion about suicide, risk factors, and warning signs, see Recognize the warning signs of suicide. For a list of suicide help lines, see the Wikipedia entry: List of suicide crisis lines.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (7-28-14)—Rock instrumentals

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Instrumental music by hard rock, heavy rock, and heavy metal groups always has seemed kind of oxymoronic to me.

As I was doing research for this post, I remembered that my all-time favorite rock/pop star, Sir Paul McCartney, and his group, Wings, won a Grammy Award in 1980 for “Rockestra Theme” in the category “Best Rock Instrumental Performance.” It was a new category that year and was eliminated beginning with the 2012 awards.

So for today’s Music on Mondays, let’s listen to some rock instrumentals, beginning with my favorite two, both by Black Sabbath:

“Laguna Sunrise,” Black Sabbath, 1972

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“Fluff,” Black Sabbath, 1973

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Next I have three instrumentals associated with my all-time favorite non-classical group, The Beatles.

“Flying,” The Beatles, 1967
This is the first Beatles song
which had the writing credited to all four Beatles.

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“Rockestra Theme,” Wings, 1979

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“Marwa Blues,” George Harrison, 2002
This was on the album “Brainwashed,” released posthumously.
It illustrates Harrison’s distinctive guitar style at its finest.

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Sting weighs in with the instrumental that got me to thinking about rock instrumentals.

“Saint Agnes and the Burning Train,” Sting, 1991

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One of the first rock instrumentals came along in 1962 and hit #1 on the charts in both the United States and Great Britain, a unique feat.

“Telstar,” The Tornados, 1962

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There are many rock instrumentals based on classical music, usually done by musicians who were classically trained before hopping over to the rock/pop genre. Here are my favorite two:

“In the Hall of the Mountain King,” Electric Light Orchestra, 1973

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“Abaddon’s Bolero,” Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 1972

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Metallica, a heavy metal group if ever there was one, checks in with a very heavy metal instrumental from their “Master of Puppets” album, arguably their heaviest heavy metal album.

“Orion,” Metallica, 1986

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I would be remiss in my instrumental duties if I did not include something by The Who—and there are many—so I chose one from their classic rock opera, “Tommy.”

“Underture,” The Who, 1969

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My music computer includes complete music collections from many groups. Three of those groups which are relevant to instrumental music are The Alan Parsons Project, Rush, and Yes. Picking just one song from those three groups is arduous. Here I go, though:

“Mammagamma,” The Alan Parsons Project, 1982

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“YYZ,” Rush, 1981

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“Sign Language,” Yes, 1997

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There are hundreds more that I have in my music collection but I didn’t want to totally overwhelm you this Monday morning. We’ll visit rock instrumentals again in the future.

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Music on Mondays (7-21-14)—Rapid Roy has the blues because his stock car is at the car wash

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

There are many high-priced restaurants in San Diego, all of them out of my price range. I have, however, eaten at all of them….

….except one.

I have never eaten at Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar, which is downtown in the Gaslamp Quarter, the historic heart of San Diego.

Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, California

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Croce's in the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego, California

Croce’s is named after singer-songwriter Jim Croce and was founded by his widow, Ingrid, in 1985. She sold the restaurant in 2013.

Since the awesome Julian thinks Jim Croce’s songs are fine fine fine, I thought we would share his five best songs, picked by Julian.

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Music on Mondays (7-14-14)—Take me out to the dead man’s party

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Yesterday I got to tour Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. Looks like this from centerfield:

Petco Park panorama from center field

Speaking of center field….

“Centerfield” by John Fogerty, 1985

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The views of San Diego were more spectacular than actually touring the ballpark. For example, here’s a picture of the two-year-old Skybridge that connects the Hilton Bayfront and the San Diego Convention Center with Petco Park and the 9-month-old San Diego Central Library:

Skybridge San Diego

Speaking of bridges, here’s an underappreciated song:

“Seven Bridges Road” by The Eagles, 1980

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Speaking of eagles, here’s….

“Fly Like An Eagle” by The Steve Miller Band, 1976

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Speaking of Miller, that reminds me of beer, which takes us back to the ballpark….

“I Like Beer” by Tom T. Hall, 1975

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Speaking of Tom T. Hall, one day in 1968 I got in trouble at school. The principal called my wise old grandmother to come get me. Playing on the radio on the drive home was “Harper Valley P.T.A.” by Jeannie C. Riley, written by Tom T. Hall.

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I had been expelled from school for two days, and I’ll just leave it at that. There’s a reason I didn’t become a teacher—I would have had a class full of little monster Russels…………….

Speaking of monsters, Comic Con International starts on July 24. Zombie Walk is Saturday, July 26. It’s basically a….

“Dead Man’s Party” by Oingo Boingo, 1986

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2013 San Diego Comic Con International

Comic Con International 2012 in San Diego California

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