Category Archives: Music on Mondays

Music on Mondays (7-13-15)—Music, real estate, California, and a cat…. obviously a great guy!

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

In the past I would sometimes buy an album or CD for just one song. That was back in the days when we had to do that. Now if we just like one song, we just buy that one song! Ah, digital music….

Billy Idol’s 1990 album “Charmed Life” is one such album. I bought it for “Cradle of Love” and pretty much dismissed the rest of the album….

….until I equalized the album yesterday. That’s when I discovered “Endless Sleep.”

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I knew the song from somewhere; Wikipedia helped me out.

The original song was written and sung by Jody Reynolds (1932-2008) in 1958. Yes, I did have it in my music collection.

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“Endless Sleep” peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1958.

Jody Reynolds was born in Denver, raised in Shady Grove, Oklahoma, and eventually settled in Palm Springs, California, working in real estate for Fred Sands Realty in La Quinta. He also had a cat named Bandit. Music, real estate, California, and cats…. Obviously a great guy!

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Music on Mondays (7-6-15)—It’s a small world

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

As I was listening to 1988 music this weekend, a song reminded me that I did an inspection in 2007 for someone whose name was familiar.

At the end of the inspection I said, “I went to high school with a guy named __________ but that was in Kingsville, Texas.”

He looked shocked, and after catching his breath, said, “I went to King High. I knew a Russel but his last name was Kirk.”

“Well, in 2004 I dropped my last name Kirk and took my middle name as my last name. So you’re looking at the former Russel Kirk, now Russel Ray.”

We talked about what brought him to San Diego (the Navy in the late ’70s) and why I changed my name (estrangement from the Kirk relatives).

Here is the song that reminded me of that event:

“Small World” by Huey Lewis & The News

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The lyrics have absolutely nothing to do with my situation, but I had never really listened to the words. I just remember my wise old grandmother always telling me that “it’s a small world” in the context of meeting someone from your past in a faraway place.

The words do have a lot to do with what currently is going on in the world, even right here in the United States with health care, gay marriage, the Confederate flag, this whole group of Republican nuts running for President, etc.

Lyrics

All around the world
There are people like you and me
From the poorest beggar in the street
To the richest king and queen

Some people take
And then they never give
You gotta learn to give and take
If you wanna learn to live
In a small world
Small, small world

Now we can
Fight one another
Like they to on T.V.
Or we can
Help one another
The way it’s supposed to be

If we all give a little
It could really mean a lot
It’s a small world
But it’s the only one we’ve got
Small world
Small, small world

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Music on Mondays (6-29-15)—The dead heart lives here

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

One of the things that I am doing with my vast music collection is equalizing it, making the quiet songs louder and the loud songs quieter. I can then listen to my music without constantly adjusting the volume for each song.

I also am equalizing the channels. The Beatles, in exploring stereo separation, have some of the worst songs with unequal channels. Not in my music collection!

Two things I have noticed about equalizing channels and songs:

First, the words are clearer, and since I’m a singer, I really enjoy being able to hear AND understand the lyrics. That particularly applies to heavy metal songs where the words often are obscured by the music, leaving one to simply nod (thrash?) one’s head and hum along.

Second, the intricacies of the music are more noticeable. It’s like taking a picture into Photoshop and using various filters to discover details and colors that did not appear to be in the picture as it came out of the camera:

img_2034 wagon wheel stamp

img_2034 wagon wheel altered stamp

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Such was the case this morning when I listened to the album “Diesel and Dust” by Midnight Oil, a band out of Australia that was active from 1976 to 2002.

Arguably their best album, it is a concept album about both the struggles of indigenous Australians and environmental causes. I had no idea, mainly because I never could understand all the words and never had the motivation to find all the lyrics to all the songs.

When I equalized the album this morning and then listened to it, words were understandable, and listening to the words caused me to do a little research about the album and songs.

My favorite song from the album used to be “Beds Are Burning.” Here it is unequalized from YouTube:

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“Beds Are Burning” was the second single from the album but the first to chart in the United States, reaching #17 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also is their highest charting single in the U.S., of only three that charted here.

Other countries liked the song much better than the Americans. It reached #1 in Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa; #2 in Belgium; #3 in the Netherlands; #5 in France; #6 in Australia and Great Britain; and #11 in Ireland. Interesting that New Zealand liked the song better than the Australians did….

According to Wikipedia, “Beds Are Burning” is a protest song about giving native Australian lands back to the Pintupi, among the last indigenous people to come in from the desert. The Pintupi moved from the Gibson Desert to settlements and missions in the 1930s with more forcibly moved in the 1950s and ’60s to the Papunya settlement. They returned to their own country in 1981, establishing the Kintore community which currently has a population of about 400.

After listening to the equalized album, I’m liking “The Dead Heart” better than “Beds Are Burning.” Here’s the unequalized song from YouTube:

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Wikipedia again: “The song deals with the mistreatment of indigenous Australians and the nonrecognition of indigenous cultures in Australia, and was part of efforts to raise awareness of Australia’s Stolen Generations—the forcible removal of Australian Aboriginal children from their families between 1909 and the 1970s.”

Here is the entire “Diesel and Dust” album (unequalized) should you like to listen to it:

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Music on Mondays (6-22-15)—Communist music from the Red Scare era….

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

On this date in 1950, Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television was issued. It was compiled by the rightwing journal Counterattack, self-described as the “newsletter of facts to combat Communism.”

Gotta love those rightwing nuts. NOT! They have been creating mass hysteria for decades, and they just go on and on….

Obama is coming for your guns….

Obama is a Socialist….

Obama was born in Kenya….

Obama is invading Texas….

Obama is a Muslim….

….smh….

The Red Scare of the ’40s and ’50s ended the careers of many professionals in Hollywood, obviously a bastion of Communism then and now….

Many in the music industry also were targeted by Red Channels—Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Lena Horne, Pete Seeger, Artie Shaw, Larry Adler, Burl Ives—all named as suspected Communist sympathizers.

Why were they suspected of being Communist sympathizers? Evidence included Lena Horne’s name on the letterhead of a South African famine relief program, Aaron Copland’s 1949 appearance at a Scientific and Cultural Conference for World Peace, and Leonard Bernstein’s affiliation with the Committee to Re-Elect Benjamin J. Davis, a black, socialist New York City councilman, Artie Shaw was a member of the World Peace Council…..

….smh…….again

For today’s Music on Mondays, I thought we should enjoy a few pieces of Communist music from these folks.

“Sonata for Clarinet and Piano,” Leonard Bernstein, 1942
(His first published work. Definitely sounds Communistic.)

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“Fanfare for the Common Man,” Aaron Copland, 1942
(1942 obviously was the Year of Communism in Music)

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“Stormy Weather,” Lena Horne, 1943

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“Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”, Pete Seeger, 1955

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“Concert for Clarinet,” Artie Shaw, 1941

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“Genevieve Waltz,” Larry Adler, 1953

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“The Wayfaring Stranger,” Burl Ives, 1944

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I’m pretty sure I’m a Communist since I love all this music………..smh one more time.

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The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Music on Mondays (6-15-15)—I’m gonna make you, I’m gonna break you

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

My wise old grandmotherMy wise old grandmother (picture ►) was not a fan of what she called foul language. Granddad, on the other hand, was the world’s #1 user, with every other word being foul language or some racial or ethnic slur. How they got along for 50 years is beyond me, but maybe they were the definition of “opposites attract.”

She instilled in me that distaste for foul language with just one slap of her hand. Earlier that day I had tacked a black light poster of The Beatles on a wall of my room. She ripped it down, and I do mean ripped. I had saved my allowance for a month to afford that beautiful poster—$3.99! She totally destroyed it.

As I stood over the ruins, I looked at her and yelled “Damn you!” I was 6’3″ and 100 pounds. She was 5’0″ and 140 pounds. With one swing of her arm, she slapped me in the face, knocking me to the ground. She then stood over me and said ever so quietly, “Don’t damn me, damn you.”

Long-time readers will realize that my blog is safe for work with neither foul language nor inappropriate pictures or videos. In fact, if someone leaves what I deem inappropriate language in a comment, well, it’s my blog, and I feel free to edit comments. (English is a beautiful language. Learn how to use that beauty to express its ugliness.)

My collection of music is the same way. Prior to digital music, I would buy a record album and listen to it. Occasionally, I was shocked by what I heard in a song and, whenever that album played in the future, I would skip that song by picking up the needle and placing it on the next song on the record. In today’s world of digital music, I simply pull up the file and delete the song from the album.

Thus, I can count on three fingers the number of songs I have in my music collection with foul language in them. All of them were added in 2015, and one, titled “Star F***er, by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts is getting deleted later today after I listened to it yesterday. I just don’t like it.

Another one has just one inappropriate word. I can’t even remember the song title or the artist, but I remember remarking to Julian that in the context of the song, the inappropriate word was appropriate.

The third song was just added a few days ago. It is titled “Psycho” and is by Muse. I like the song so much that I was encouraged to explore Muse’s discography, and I now have their complete catalog.

Muse has been around since 1994, and “Psycho” is their first song to have an “Explicit Lyrics” label on it. The message of the song is a powerful one about war and “killing machines.” My dad was in the Air Force, and I graduated from Texas A&M University which has a Corps of Cadets that is 2,500 strong, so I’m familiar with this specific language in the context of war.

Along with the message about war, Matthew Bellamy’s guitar and vocals, the driving bass, the drums…. everything about the song really gets me going.

It is 5:50 long, so you’ll hear a lot of inappropriate language. Give it at least one listen to and then make up your mind, but I did warn you about the message and the language.

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Music on Mondays (6-8-15)—It’s not the first time in my life….

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

I’m pretty sure that in one of my past lives I was a bass guitar player.

I just love a good bass rhythm and riffs that drive the song along.

Probably my four favorite bass guitar players are, in order, Paul McCartney, Peter Cetera (Chicago), Wayne Nelson (Little River Band), and Tiran Porter (The Doobie Brothers).

Paul McCartney, of course, needs no introduction. My favorite Beatles song with his driving bass is “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and my favorite post-Beatles song with that driving bass is “Silly Love Songs.”

I think Peter Cetera and Tiran Porter did the same thing with bass for their groups as McCartney did for The Beatles: good quality bass in virtually every song.

Little River Band had gone through two bass guitar players, Roger McLachlan (1975-1976) and George McArdle (1976-1979), before settling on Wayne Nelson (1980-1996, 1999-present).

I’m currently listening to the year 1983 in my non-classical music collection, the year in which Little River Band released their album “The Net.” I didn’t buy and Little River Band albums when they came out but I now have a complete collection of their music. I think “The Net” by far is their best album. Here it is in its entirety with all the great bass:

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The buying public, however, would disagree with me. “The Net” peaked at #61 on the Billboard 200 album chart and, after 32 years, still is not certified gold. That’s alright. It’s not the first time in my life that I’ve liked something that others didn’t………..LOL

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Music on Mondays (6-1-15)—Bustin’ out all over

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

My first experience with musicals was when the State of Utah took me from my mom and stepdad and placed me in the Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital in Ogden, Utah. Dee had a special facility for problem children, of which I was one. That was in 1965.

I went to Ogden in 1979 with the intent of obtaining my medical records. Unfortunately, the hospital had been closed. It is now open again as the McKay-Dee Hospital, and the section that took care of me in 1965 is now the Behavioral Health Institute.

While I was there, I met a woman named Barbara Hunt. Throughout the years, I have believed that Barbara was 18 years old, from Bakersfield, California, and also a resident. In thinking about this today, though, I’m not so sure anymore because one afternoon she took me to see a movie double-feature at the local theater. What hospital would allow an 18-year-old resident to take an 11-year-old resident to the movies? Now I’m thinking it was all a part of the behavioral health program for problem youth…..

I have been searching for Barbara Hunt all these years, but maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong place. Maybe I’ve even been looking for the wrong person. Maybe Barbara Hunt wasn’t her real name.

……………..

The movies we went to see were A Hard Day’s Night and Help! Long-time readers know that I have always been somewhat infatuated with The Beatles (somewhat?), and that’s where my infatuation started.

Those were the first two musicals I ever saw. The third one was The Sound of Music. Although The Sound of Music had been released in March 1965, it didn’t make it to Kingsville, Texas, until a couple of years later. Kingsville, a small bastian of Christian Republican farmers and ranchers, was a little behind the times then (and still are). After seeing The Sound of Music, I was definitely hooked on musicals, especially those with music by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein (Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I….)

Thus, every year when June comes around, I always think of Carousel and the song “June Is Bustin Out All Over.” Here it is:

Happy June! 

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