Category Archives: Music on Mondays

Music on Mondays (3-27-17)—Yertle the Turtle in Pet Sematary

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Bookless, I am.

My life is in turmoil when I don’t have a book of fiction to read. Such is the case today because I finished my book (Golden Lion by Wilbur Smith) Saturday night but the public library is not open on Sundays. Just a few more hours….

So I went looking for songs about, or inspired by, books for today Music on Mondays post. Here are five I found:

“1984” by David Bowie was inspired by George Orwell’s book with the same title. David Bowie was intending to do a 1984 musical but the project was killed when Orwell’s widow objected. Other tracks on Bowie’s 1974 album, Diamond Dogs, feature other Orwell references, including the song titles “Big Brother” and “We Are The Dead,” Winston Smith’s final words before being captured by the thought police in the book.

I never read J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings so I never completely understood “Ramble On” from Led Zeppelin’s 1969 album, Led Zeppelin II:

Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor
I met a girl so fair
But Gollum, and the evil one crept up
And slipped away with her.

I’m completely unfamiliar with “that book by Nabokov” (Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita) that inspired The Police in 1980:

Young teacher the subject of schoolgirl fantasy
This girl is half his age
He starts to shake and cough
Just like the old man in that book by Nabokov.”

I don’t really like the Red Hot Chili Peppers but I did understand “Yertle the Turtle” from their 1985 album Freaky Styley as soon as I saw the title because I am quite familiar with Dr. Suess.

I’m Yertle the Turtle
The things I now rule
I’m king of a cow
I’m king of a mule

“Pet Sematary” by The Ramones, from their 1989 album Brain Drain, was written for the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, Pet Sematary, still one of my favorite books by King.

Molars and fangs
the clicking of bones
Spirits moaning among the tombstones.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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Music on Mondays (3-20-17)—No particular place to go

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

I was born in 1955. In my youth, most historians agreed that the rock ‘n’ roll era began in 1955, so as late as 2003, I had a complete collection of all the Billboard #1 singles and #1 albums of the rock ‘n’ roll era. Then the vulgarity of rap and hip hop caused me finally to quit collecting music that I wasn’t going to listen to.

The Beatles have always been my favorites, but I have a great appreciation for the rock ‘n’ roll artists who preceded The Beatles, as did The Beatles themselves. One of my favorites is Charles Edwards Anderson Berry, who died Saturday at the age of 90. You might know him better as Chuck Berry. Here are my five favorite Chuck Berry songs:

“Maybellene,” 1955

“Roll Over Beethoven,” 1956

“Rock & Roll Music,” 1957

“Johnny B. Goode,” 1957

“No Particular Place To Go,” 1961

Interestingly, Chuck Berry only had one #1 single, a throwaway novelty song in my opinion.

“My Ding-a-ling” from 1972

When you’re a forerunner of something, people like to copy you, emulate you, try to be you. Here is my favorite cover version of a Chuck Berry song:

“Maybelline” [sic] by Foghat, 1972

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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Music on Mondays (3-6-17)—Angie and Roxanne on wild horses singing do do do da da da

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

In today’s world of YouTube, Spotify, etc., I often wonder how musical artists make a living since you no longer have to buy a full album to get just the one song that you like. Just set up a playlist on YouTube or Spotify.

I’m one of those who still buys songs for my collection, although I must admit that it is nice not having to buy a complete album to get just that one song I like. What I do is go to YouTube and listen to the songs on an album and then buy the songs I like. Occasionally, the complete album is less expensive than buying the songs individually so I’ll buy the album and then delete the songs I don’t like.

I listen to my non-classical music collection in chronological order, and during this last pass, I also have been deleting those songs on old albums that I never liked. Here are four songs that I always have hated but I liked the albums so I put up with the songs. No longer. Right here in this blog post will be the last time I ever listen to these four songs.

“Wild Horses” by The Rolling Stones, 1971
Peaked at #28 on the Billboard Hot 100
Ranked #334 in Rolling Stone’s 2004 list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

“Angie” by The Rolling Stones, 1973
Peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100

“Roxanne” by The Police, 1978
Peaked at #32 on the Billboard Hot 100
Ranked #338 in Rolling Stone’s 2004 list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
Voted #85 by VH1 on its list of the “100 Greatest Rock Songs.”
Inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.

“De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” by The Police, 1980
Peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100
Featured in the film “The Last American Virgin”
and in the pilot episode of the medical drama “St Elsewhere.”

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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Music on Mondays (2-27-17)—Black Velvet if you please

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

I didn’t have anything specific for today’s Music on Mondays post so, since it’s February 27, I thought I go back 27 years and see what the #1 hits were for 1990 and how many of them I have in my collection. There were 26 hits that made it to #1 in 1990:

  1. “Another Day In Paradise” by Phil Collins
  2. “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” by Michael Bolton
  3. “Opposites Attract” by Paula Abdul and The Wild Pair
  4. “Escapade” by Janet Jackson
  5. “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles
  6. “Love Will Lead You Back” by Taylor Dayne
  7. “I’ll Be Your Everything” by Tommy Page
  8. “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O Connor
  9. “Vogue” by Madonna
  10. “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips
  11. “It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette
  12. “Step” by Step” by New Kids On The Block
  13. “She Ain’t Worth It” by Glenn Medeiros Featuring Bobby Brown
  14. “Vision Of Love” by Mariah Carey
  15. “If Wishes Came True” by Sweet Sensation
  16. “Blaze Of Glory” by Jon Bon Jovi
  17. “Release Me” by Wilson Phillips
  18. “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love And Affection” by Nelson
  19. “Close To You” by Maxi Priest
  20. “Praying For Time” by George Michael
  21. “I Don t Have The Heart” by James Ingram
  22. “Black Cat” by Janet Jackson
  23. “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice
  24. “Love Takes Time” by Mariah Carey
  25. “I’m Your Baby Tonight” by Whitney Houston
  26. “Because I Love You (The Postman Song)” by Stevie B

Of those 26 songs, I have five in my collection:

“Another Day In Paradise” by Phil Collins

“How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” by Michael Bolton

“Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles

“It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette

“Blaze Of Glory” by Jon Bon Jovi

Of those five, “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles by far is my favorite. Although the song is from 1990, I first heard it in 2003 when one of my employees was playing it in the office. He even told me that one could buy Black Velvet at Costco. I can confirm that. Ever since then I no longer drink virgin Sprite because Black Velvet is an excellent additive.

Black Velvet, Canadian Whiskey

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Music on Mondays (2-20-17)—I once was a choir boy

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Each day after I have accomplished 90% of my goals for that day (I always was an A student), I reward myself by exploring the book “Top Pop Singles” by Joel Whitburn. I’m looking for music that I like but don’t have in my collection.

Radio used to be my preferred method of discovering new music but I haven’t listened to radio since CD players started appearing in cars back in the late ’80s. However, with YouTube, Spotify, and various music sites like, it’s not difficult to have a listen to music without buying it. Now, with car stereo systems accepting flash drives, bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, I don’t see me ever going back to radio.

Here are five of the individual songs I added to my collection this past week:

“Wild Women Do” by Natalie Cole, 1990
I always liked this song from “Pretty Woman” but not enough to buy the Soundtrack back in 1990. Over the years I forgot about it. Last week I re-discovered it and bought it.
It spent 10 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, peaking at #34.

“Time for Letting Go” by Jude Cole, 1990
Jude Cole had 5 minor hits from 1990-1993. This was his second.
I had never heard of him or his music before last week.
“Time for Letting Go” spent 15 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #32.

“Shelter Me” by Joe Cocker, 1986
Although I knew of Joe Cocker because of his covers of Beatle songs
(“With A Little Help from My Friends” and “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window”), I never really liked his music enough to buy it.
I knew just enough about him to have an intelligent conversation
about him and his music. This song doesn’t sound like Joe Cocker.
“Shelter Me” spent 4 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #91.

“C’mon Everybody” by Eddie Cochran, 1958
Eddie Cochran was was just 21 when he died in 1960 in a car accident.
I was 5, and living in northern Utah,
so this type of “devil music” never made the radio stations there.
I’m only now discovering his music.
“C’mon Everybody” spent 12 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #35.

“Run To Paradise” by The Choirboys, 1989
The Choirboys had one hit. This is it.
It spent 7 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #80

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Music on Mondays (2-13-17)—Sweet dreams in a mad world

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

All my life I have been a catnapper, never getting more than 4 hours of sleep at any one time, and getting that much sleep at one time usually meant that I was drunk. The last time I was drunk enough to get 4 hours of sleep was somewhere around 1980. I decided that getting an extra couple of hours of sleep didn’t justify the effects of being drunk. I just don’t like being drunk.

I spent tens of thousands of dollars at the UCLA Medical Center, Houston Medical Center, and Boston Medical Center trying to find why my circadian rhythm was all wacko. Nothing. Until about five years ago when I tried to get involved in a sleep research study right here in San Diego. I failed the entry questions because I was diagnosed as a “polyphasic sleeper.” Since the mid-1990’s that has been the official medical term for catnappers.

Being a polyphasic sleeper means that I rarely dream, and I never reach REM sleep which is where those really active dreams occur. Lately, though, since November 8, 2016, I have been getting more sleep, and much more REM sleep. I have been dreaming for the first time in my life.

Active dreams.

Some might even call them nightmares.

I have been dreaming about dictators, dystopian worlds, battered and abused women and children, the disabled, LGBTQ people, sexual assaults, racism, the Holocaust, Nazi Germany, Hitler, Mussolini, Putin, nuclear war, animal abuse…. Everything that our current President represents has appeared in my dreams. It hasn’t been pretty.

I think I want to go back to a time before November 8, 2016….

With that said, here are some of my favorite songs about dreams:

“Mad World” by Tears For Fears, 1983

“All I Have To Do Is Dream” by The Everly Brothers, 1958

“Dream On” by Aerosmith, 1973

“Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House, 1986

Sweet Dremas (Are Made of This) by Eurythmics, 1983

“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, 1977

“Dream Weaver” by Gary Wright, 1975

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Music on Mondays (2-6-17)—Normal people don’t

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

When I get sad, depressed, and suicidal (my dad committed suicide), I try to do something unusual, or I sleep, or I read, or I shop, or I disappear.

Yesterday, I disappeared. I’m back.

I drove 573 miles yesterday in search of unique locations in which to take pictures and videos of trains.

Here’s a cool railroad tunnel that I found yesterday, used by Metrolink on its journey from Los Angeles east to Lancaster and Palmdale.

Metrolink railroad tunnel

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I had a lot of music with me, as always, but I didn’t have any train songs. Interesting.

Since I was on a search for interesting, unique locations, I thought I’d post a couple of interesting, unique songs about trains.

First up is “The Carrollton March” by Philip Antony Corri. He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, began composing in 1802, helped found the London Philharmonic Society and the Royal Academy of Music, and by the 1820s, had adopted the name Arthur Clifton and settled in Baltimore, Maryland.

“The Carrollton March” is the earliest known “train song,” having been copyrighted on July 1, 1828. Clifton composed it to commemorate the July 4 groundbreaking of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. It’s a solo piano piece here but I don’t know if it was originally solo piano or if it was transposed by the pianist here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This next one, “Cross Tie Walker” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, was very much me in my youth. I still walk the cross ties occasionally although getting caught doing so can be a significant fine.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Here’s a picture I got last month in a lonely, forsaken place where I was talking the cross ties. I was out near the border with Mexico, so I got stopped five times by the Border Patrol. After all, normal people don’t walk abandoned railroad tracks out in the desert near the Mexican border………..

Walking the ties

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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