Hang A Shining Star

christmas-star

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. ~ Matthew 2:10

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight

Have you ever seen something that made your heart leap with joy? Maybe, it was a loved one returning from a long trip. Perhaps the first time you saw your child. Or maybe, for a returning soldier, the sight of his or her family awaiting in the airport.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yuletide gay
From now on, our troubles will be miles away

And when you see such a sight, your everyday troubles do just seem to fade away, don’t they? Because, at that moment, we are struck with something beyond ourselves. We realize what’s truly important.

Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more

Yup, these are the blessings most dear to us; the gatherings of family and friends during the holidays. They take us back; to where we’re from, where we’ve been and to where we really long to be.

Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
So hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

The real magic and meaning of Christmas happened at night, when a star could lead the way. And so it goes, even to this day. All of us are seekers, searching in vain for something that’s right there in front of us, shining brightly. It’s funny that so many of us only see it at Christmas.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yuletide gay
From now on, our troubles will be miles away

The original recording of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” was brought to us by the incomparable Judy Garland in the 1944 musical, Meet Me  In St. Louis. But this version by Chrissy Hynde and the  Pretenders has always been one of my Christmas faves.  It was featured on the very first A Very Special Christmas album in 1987, a series which now has 16 volumes and has been going – and growing – strong for 28 years.

averyspecialxmascover

Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more

This first issue was dedicated to raise funds for the Special Olympics and shipped over 4.5 million copies in the U.S. alone.  According to the AVSC website the series has netted over $116 million in proceeds to the Special Olympics to date, fostering programs for special athletes in 10 countries around the world.

Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
So hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

So, while you are decorating your home or tree this year, please remember the real shining Star of it all, the greatest gift ever given to mankind; our Lord Jesus. And that His greatest blessings to us are the relationships that we have with friends and family. And I hope all will gather near and dear to us again this year, to enjoy the holidays once more.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Something To Hide?

hiding-in-plain-sight-19

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. ~ Ephesians 4:25

You had something to hide
Should have hidden it, shouldn’t you
Now you’re not satisfied
With what you’re being put through
It’s just time to pay the price
For not listening to advice
And deciding in your youth
On the policy of truth

Now there’s the dilemma: not whether or not to tell one another the truth, but when and how much of it? I mean, I don’t think we set out to be bald faced liars; I think most of us start with good intentions and want to be honest if not completely open (wait is that really being honest?) in our relationships. But, for a variety of reasons,  most of us fall short of being completely truthful in all things. And therein the difficulty lies (pun intended).

Things could be so different now
It used to be so civilized
You will always wonder how
It could have been if you’d only lied
It’s too late to change events
It’s time to face the consequence
For delivering the proof
In the policy of truth

Wait, let me un-ring that bell. Maybe in our desire to be truthful we actually handicap ourselves and our relationships. Could that be true? Sometimes there are things better left unsaid? Or, is the foundation built on half-truths and kept secrets just as shaky as one built on outright lies?

Whatever the case, I know we all feel a strong need to be tell the truth, hard as it sometimes may be to do so. And yes, God forgives us, but that doesn’t remove the consequences we face in this world.

Never again is what you swore
The time before
Never again is what you swore
The time before

Live and learn is what they say…and we swear we’ll do better next time. But we never do. As Elvis (Costello) sang: “History repeats the old conceits, the glib replies, the same defeats.” And the wheel rolls round and round forever.

If you’re looking for answers here, I don’t have them. I just know we have to try to do better. I know the truth is what God wants from us, but my experience says that there are times when things are better left unsaid. Times where damage is caused by words spoken that you can’t erase. I think there are times we must bear our own burdens and keep it to ourselves…with God’s shoulder to lean on, of course.

Now you’re standing there tongue tied
You’d better learn your lesson well
Hide what you have to hide
And tell what you have to tell
You’ll see your problems multiplied
If you continually decide
To faithfully pursue
The policy of truth

Depeche+Mode

Depeche Mode was a beautifully crafted group from the New Wave and second Brit Invasion of electronic pop in the early 80’s. They have always been one of my favorites from this genre and have certainly stood the test of time, forming in 1980 and still going strong today. They have had over fifty singles charted in the U.K. and have sold more than 100 million records worldwide. “Policy Of Truth” was not one of their biggest hits, but to me was the “sleeper” hit from their 1990 album, Violator, a mainstream smash that catapulted them to international success. “Policy Of Truth” only made it up to #15 on the Billboard Hot 100, but went all the way to #1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.

A few interesting tidbits about DP include:

  • The band’s original name was “Composition Of Sound”. Before they really got started they renamed themselves “Depeche Mode” after a French fashion magazine (depeche mode means fast fashion), because it sounded cooler.
  • They never had a drummer and didn’t try to hide it, often placing their drum machine on a riser right in the middle of the stage, in concert.
  • At age 17, Dave Gahan earned his place as lead singer by auditioning with a strong rendition of his rock idol David Bowie’s “Heroes”, which also happened to be a favorite of founding members, Vince Clarke and Martin Gore.
  • Dave later moved to New York and found his kids attending the same school as Bowie’s; they bumped into each other several times attending school plays and events.

Truth and deceit in relationships continued to be a theme in DM’s songs, including hits like “Personal Jesus”, “Long Time Lie” and “Secret To The End”, but “Policy Of Truth” always rings most true to me.

Check out the original here:

 

 

 

How Does Your Light Shine?

shine-the-light

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. ~ Matthew 5:16

Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain
With the rain in Shambala
Wash away my sorrow, wash away my shame
With the rain in Shambala

With the recent passing of lead singer, Cory Wells, I felt compelled to include a post featuring one of my favorite bands of the 70’s, Three Dog Night. I hate to admit it, but having spent a great portion of my life in and around the music biz, I had a habit of using TDN as a benchmark, of sorts.  When comparing band success, I would often times use TDN as the “dividing line” between good and great, over and under. Thus, the measure of a rock band’s success was above or below that of TDN, the perfect middle line. The question became: Did a band have more – or less – hits than TDN? Maybe it wasn’t fair treatment, but I never had anyone dispute me on the validity of the idea.

Ah, ooh, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Ah, ooh, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

As the Righteous Brothers, Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield, once sang, “If there’s a rock n roll Heaven, you know they’ve got a hell of a band.” That song was released back in 1974, just as TDN’s run was coming to a close.  Back then, the song featured artists that had died far too young like Janis and Jimi, Otis Redding and Jim Croce.  But these days it’s all to common. Forty years have gone by since then and it seems like another rocker passes every other day now. A sign of the times, for sure.

Everyone is helpful, everyone is kind
On the road to Shambala
Everyone is lucky, everyone is so kind
On the road to Shambala

TDN was originally formed in 1967 when Cory, Danny Hutton and Chuck Negron, three very talented singers decided to get together as a cover band playing the local L.A. club scene. The band soon filled out with the addition of Jimmy Greenspoon on keyboards, Joe Schermie on bass, Mike Allsup on guitar and Floyd Sneed on drums, and the group was off and running, signing a contact with ABC-Dunhill records. They focused mainly on recording interesting material from a new crop of – then unknown – artists, like Elton John, Randy Newman, Laura Nyro and Harry Nilsson, among others. For five straight years between 1969-74, the band released a new album – and a new crop of hits – every single year. They scored a total of 21 Billboard Top 40 hits during that period.

How does your light shine
In the halls of Shambala
How does your light shine
In the halls of Shambala

One of those hits, appearing on the album Cyan in 1973, was the song “Shambala” which rose to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. It had a rolling, chanting gospel feel and was somewhat religiously, if not just mystically, inspired by the mythical Hindu/Buddhist kingdom of Shambala, which was said to be located somewhere in the Himalaya’s. TDN’s – and original songwriter Daniel Moore’s – vision of Shambala appeared to be based more on a state of mind reflective of walking a certain spiritual path, than as a physical kingdom or place.

I can tell my sister by the flowers in her eyes
On the road to Shambala
I can tell my brother by the flowers in his eyes
On the road to Shambala

Here’s a few interesting notes about TDN and “Shambala”:

  • Everyone has probably heard the story of the band’s naming, but just in case, I’ll repeat it here. Danny Hutton’s girlfriend had been reading an article about early native Australians and learned that, on cold nights, they would find a hole to sleep in and pull in a dingo or two to keep them warm. A really, really cold night was thus called a “three dog night”.
  • Only one week prior to TDN’s release of “Shambala”, a version by country singer B.W. Stevenson was released. His version was shorter, with a bit more country twang and it did pretty well, but was greatly overshadowed by TDN’s version. Stevenson later “stole” some of the melody from “Shambala” for his smash hit “My Maria”. Check them both out and you’ll see just how much they sound alike.
  • “Shambala” has been so popular throughout the years that it has been used in 15 movies, 2 TV shows and – most recently – in a 2014 Bank of America commercial.

How does your light shine
In the halls of Shambala
How does your light shine
In the halls of Shambala
Tell me how does your light shine
In the halls of Shambala
(Tell me how) How does your light shine
In the halls of Shambala

So, let’s all wish Cory a sweet rest and remember him fondly via one of TDN’s greatest hits. Listen to a great live version here:

Sources for this post include:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shambala

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Dog_Night

 

Of That I’m Sure

The old city of Jerusalem 05a

But you remain the same, and your years will never end. ~ Psalm 102:27

Nothing lasts forever
Of that I’m sure
Now you’ve made an offer
I’ll take some more

Nothing lasts forever. Boy ain’t that the truth?

At least that’s the way it seems for most things on this earth. But some things do last longer than others. And that’s comforting.

Young loving may be
Oh so mean
Will I still survive
The same old scene

Familiarity breeds contempt.  Things become routine and we get bored. Sometimes we need change, just for the sake of change. This happens with most things in our lives: cars, jobs, homes and, sadly, with our relationships.  Even our relationship with God.

In our lighter moments
precious few
It’s all that heavy weather
We’re going through

But there are times when we need to dig in deep, to reach out and “hold on loosely (but don’t let go)” as Johnny Van Zandt once sang. I read something recently that sticks in my mind: “A perfect relationship is two imperfect people who refuse to give up on one another”.

When I turn the corner
I can’t believe
It’s still the same old movie
That’s haunting me

Bryan Ferry turned a corner of his own in early 1970, forming Roxy Music (a wordplay on rock music) and holding on to his dreams of rock-n-roll stardom. The band had moderate early success in the early 70’s pursuing the “glam” or “glitter rock” stylings of other artists like David Bowie, T-Rex, Gary Glitter, Alice Cooper and Lou Reed. Songs like “Virginia Plain”, “Pyjamarama” and “Street Life” capitalized on the synthesized keyboard driven melodies that were topping the charts for those other artists.

Young loving may be
Oh so mean
Trying to revive
The same old scene

Roxy-Music

Unlike Bowie, Cooper and T-Rex, however, Roxy Music did not receive much attention here in the U.S. until 1974’s “Love Is The Drug” hit the airwaves. It was perfect for the burgeoning disco sound that was beginning to dominate the clubs. I remember clearly the first time I heard the song; it had that irresistible thumping groove replete with the timbale roll, accompanied by Bryan’s signature seductive – yet elegant – croon.

And just as suddenly as they had burst onto the scene – poof – they disappeared. It wasn’t until 1979’s “Dance Away” that they made any real impact  again, ironically just as the disco scene was dying out. It seemed to me that “Love Is The Drug” and “Dance Away” made perfect bookends for the whole disco era.

Young loving may be
So extreme
Maybe we should try
The same old scene

And then it came; in 1980 the group released their best album to date, Flesh And Blood. It produced four solid hits including  “Over You”, “Oh Yeah”, “Same Old Scene” and the fabulously quirky cover of Wilson Pickett’s “In The Midnight Hour”.

“Same Old Scene” really jumped out at me. I had gone to the Atlanta premiere for the movie Times Square, and it was featured in the soundtrack (which is a great album in it’s own right for those who loved the late 70’s/early 80’s punk/alternative sound).

Flesh and Blood was followed by – in my humble opinion – an even bigger masterpiece, 1982’s Avalon.

A few interesting tidbits about the band include:

  • Before forming Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry was teaching ceramics at a girls school but was fired for holding impromptu recording sessions in class.
  • Ferry once auditioned to take over as lead vocalist for King Crimson when Greg Lake departed to form Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
  • The first five Roxy Music album covers all catered to Bryan Ferry’s obsession with women and fashion. The covers included fashion models  Amanda Lear, Jerry Hall, Marilyn Cole (each of whom had romantic relationships with Ferry),  Kari-Ann Muller (who dated Mick Jagger’s brother Chris) and two German fans/models, Constanze Karoli and Eveline Grunwald (on the cover of Country Life, which was banned in many countries).
  • The Avalon album cover features model Lucy Helmore, who married Bryan in 1982. They divorced in 2003.

I guess with all of Bryan’s womanizing, it’s obvious that he was certainly not one who cared for the “same old scene”, but his song lamenting it sure sounds as fresh as it did back in 1980. Check out the original here:

And check out “In The Midnight Hour” live on MTV’s 1980 New Years Eve Special:


Roots That Spread So Deep

root-tree-2

The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation…  ~ Exodus 15:2 

Love can make you weep
Can make you run for cover
Roots that spread so deep
Bring life to frozen ground

Stronger as we get older? I’m not so sure. We surely don’t get stronger in the physical sense. But you hear a lot of things; sayings like “that which doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger”. I’m not sure I believe it. I’m thinking it’s more that we just grow our roots a little deeper, a little further down into terra firma. We’re really only as strong as the earthly support around us. Or are we?

Something so strong
Could carry us away
Something so strong
Could carry us today

I find myself leaning a little more and more each day on inner strength. We all will have trials in this world and the Bible guarantees it. But I think you can learn to better deal with these trials by calling on a different type of strength; that which springs not from this world, but from our Heavenly Father. As  Bill Withers once sang: “Lean on me, when you’re not strong”.

Turning in my sleep
Love can leave you cold
A taste of jealousy
Is like a lust for gold

Crowded House seemed, for many here in the U.S., to have burst upon the scene almost overnight with their smash hit, “Don’t Dream It’s Over” which reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987. The band’s front men, brothers Neil and Tim Finn, however, had already reached international success with their previous band from  New Zealand – Split Enz – and their 1980 hit single “I Got You”.

music-neil-finn-4

Something so strong
Could carry us away
Something so strong
Could carry us today

By 1984, Split Enz had begun to run it’s course, and Neil, along with drummer, Paul Hester, decided to form a new band during the Split Enz farewell tour, aptly named Enz With A Bang.  The new band, originally called The Mullanes (Neil’s middle name), got off to a great start, easily securing a new deal with Capitol Records on the strength of Split Enz’s success and huge fan base in Australia and New Zealand. Brother Tim was soon to follow along, as did former Split Enz bassist, Nick Seymour.

I’ve been feeling so much older
Frame me and hang me on the wall
I’ve seen you fall into the same trap
This thing is happening to us all

Here’s a few interesting tidbits about the band:

  • Capitol Records didn’t like the original band name, so Neil changed it to Crowded House in reference to the tiny house the band shared in L.A. early on.
  • Bassist Nick Seymour did the cover art for all the band’s albums.
  • Under intense pressure from Capitol to quickly record a second album to capitalize on their debut; Neil’s working title for the second album was  Mediocre Follow Up.
  • Neil took everyone by surprise in 1996, when at the press conference for the release of the band’s greatest hits collection, Recurring Dream, he announced that Crowded House was disbanding.

Something so strong
Could carry us away
Something so strong
Could carry us today

So, while all of us will suffer with burdens that sometimes seem to great to bear, take heart. Just lean on that inner strength that comes from above and don’t let your troubles carry you away.

Listen to the boys from “down under” here:

And lest we forget the Split Enz hit, check it out here:

Sources  for this post include:

Every Minute, Every Hour, Every Day

events-calendar

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. ~Psalm 118:24

I want a Sunday kind of love
A love to last past Saturday night
And I’d like to know
It’s more than love at first sight
And I want a Sunday kind of love
Oh yeah, yeah

Now I’m not exactly categorizing Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons as “classic rock”, but I think we can all agree that doo-wop influenced the heart and soul of many of the great rock artists to follow, including Billy Joel, Elton John, Steve Perry, Jon Bon Jovi and many, many more.

fourseasonsgroup

And, after finally seeing the biopic, Jersey Boys, I just had to include at least one of their songs in UTRS. “Sherry” was the first song by Frankie and the boys that I can remember making an impact on my rock conscience, bursting off the speakers in 1962. Even as a young boy, I could tell this was something special, something very different from every other sound out there.

I want a love that’s on the square
Can’t seem to find somebody
Someone to care
And I’m on a lonely road
That leads to nowhere
I need a Sunday kind of love

With their huge catalog of hits – even though a lot of their early hits sounded a lot alike – spanning two decades, there were a lot of songs I could pick from, but after seeing the movie, their take on “Sunday Kind Of Love” really spoke to me.

I think many of us can identify with the kind of love that continues past the excitement of Friday or Saturday night dates and on into Sunday. I can remember moving past that first stage in relationships and it seemed like the Sundays spent together, maybe at a family gathering, a quiet walk and picnic in the park, or – heaven forbid – attending church together, always took things to a higher level of closeness. There was just something extra special about a Sunday date.

I do my Sunday dreaming, oh yeah
And all my Sunday scheming
Every minute, every hour, every day
Oh, I’m hoping to discover
A certain kind of lover
Who will show me the way

“Sunday Kind Of Love” was first released in November 1946 by the Claude Thornhill Orchestra and became the signature song for his lead singer, Fran (Frances) Warren. It has been covered dozens of times over since – most notably by the amazing Etta James – and it only seems fitting that one Francis Castelluchio would later choose the song for his new group, The Four Seasons.

And my arms need someone
Someone to enfold
To keep me warm when Mondays and Tuesdays grow cold
Love for all my life to have and to hold
Oh and I want a Sunday kind of love
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah

Yes, we all long for a love that lasts, one that’s permanent. Unfortunately, in this world, that kind of love can be very, very hard to find. But for a long stretch in the mid 60’s, there were a lot of folks out there falling in love to – and with – the songs penned by Bob Gaudio and sung in the one and only Frankie Valli’s falsetto. Between 1962-1975, Frankie and the boys from Jersey scored twenty-nine Top 40 hits including five #1’s (“Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Walk Like A Man”, “Rag Doll” and the cherry on top, 1975’s “December 1963 (Oh What A Night)”. And, just when you thought he was done, Frankie came back with a killer job on the Bee Gee’s penned title track for the blockbuster movie and stage play “Grease”.

I don’t want a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday
Or Thursday, Friday or Saturday
Oh nothing but Sunday, oh yeah
I want a Sunday Sunday
I want a Sunday kind of love, oh yeah
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday kind of love

If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend seeing Jersey Boys, which is largely fact based and reveals a lot about the group that most people – including their record label – didn’t know. Here’s just a few bits of interest from the film that are true to life:

  • Three of the band members had been in prison or jail, most notably Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. Tommy had been in 7-8 times.
  • They took the name “The Four Seasons” off a Union, New Jersey, bowling alley cocktail lounge sign.
  • Future movie star, Joe Pesci, who happened to be a close boyhood friend on Tommy DeVito’s actually introduced Bob Gaudio to the group.
  • The group really did get arrested in Ohio for skipping out on a $375 hotel bill. Check out Frankie’s mug shot below:

valli mugshot

So settle back and ready yourself for some classic doo-wop by one of the best of the genre. “Sunday Kind Of Love” wasn’t one of the groups bigger hits, but I’ve always held it as one of mine.

Check out the original here:

Great live version here:

Etta James version:

Sources for this post included:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankie_Valli

History vs. Hollywood: http://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/jersey-boys/

No Stranger To The Street

streetlight_man

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. ~ Psalm 91:11

No, I’m no angel
No, I’m no stranger to the street
I’ve got my label
So I won’t crumble at your feet

Yup, we’ve all got a few skeletons in the closet. What was it that JC said? Let he among you who hath not sinned cast the first stone? Something like that. Seems nobody comes into a relationship squeaky clean anymore. And sometimes that’s a good thing.

And I know baby
So I’ve got scars upon my cheek
And I’m half crazy
Come on and love me baby

And you know those scars just give you character, anyway. Another saying – one I’m no longer so sure I totally agree with – is that which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I’ve noticed it’s usually those that are overly scarred that seem to cling tightest to that mindset. Yes, this life can definitely drive you a bit mad.

So you find me hard to handle
Well, I’m easier to hold
So you like my spurs that jingle
And I never leave you cold
So I might steal your diamonds
I’ll bring you back some gold, I’m no angel

And like Waylon once said “Ladies always love outlaws.”. Yes, the girls sure do seem to have an attraction for the boys with a bit of an edge to them. I guess the dark side has is own particular mystique. But like moths drawn to the flame, sometimes when you get too close, you may get burned.

No, I’m no angel
No, I’m no stranger to the dark
Let me rock your cradle
Let me start a fire with your spark

Gregg Allman is certainly no stranger to the dark side; true southern rock royalty with more than just a dash of “bad-boy” persona thrown in. I once had the pleasure of being backstage at an event that Capricorn Records was hosting and got a brief introduction; just a handshake and hello – no photo op, thank you – and he was one of those guys that just seemed to have that automatic “rock star cool” factor radiating around him at all times.

Oh, come on baby
Come and let me show you my tattoo
Let me drive you crazy
Come on and love me baby

Gregg’s “comeback” hit single “I’m No Angel” signaled the ending stretch of his roller coaster ride through the dark side of life during the early 1980’s. His four year marriage to Cher – one of five failed marriages – had ended in 1979 amidst his growing drug and alcohol problems, and his struggles seemed to carry forward throughout the first half of the decade. Gregg actually spent three days in jail for DUI just a few weeks before this single was released.

So you don’t give a darn about me
I never treat you bad
I won’t ever lift a hand to hurt you
And I’ll always leave you glad
So I might steal your diamonds
I’ll bring you back some gold, I’m no angel

But like the phoenix rising from the ashes, the success of “I’m No Angel” – it went to #49 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987 – and the new album seemed to spark a rebound that ultimately led to a reformation of The Allman Brothers Band  in 1989. It sure looked like southern boogie’s ultimate bad-boy was back!

No, I’m no angel
No, I’m no stranger to the dark
Let me rock your cradle
Let me start a fire in your heart

But, no matter what, the darkness seems to carry on throughout Gregg’s life, one way or another. First with the deaths of brother Duane and band mate Berry Oakley, then suffering through Hepatitis C and liver transplant surgery, and even more recently with the accidental deaths of several members of a film crew working on his autobiographical motion picture, Midnight Rider: The Gregg Allman Story.

Oh, come on baby
Come and let me show you my tattoo
Let me drive you crazy
Come on and love me baby

Yes, it can be enough to drive you crazy – if you let it. If there was something I could say to Gregg that might help him on his journey, it might be a reference to the Psalm verse above, along with a friendly reminder that God says that we’ll all be given trials in this life – but they won’t be more than we can bear.

Listen to the original here:

Source for this post included:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregg_Allman

Songfacts: http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=853

 

Now I’ve Seen The Way

magic_hand

And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. ~ Acts 8:11

You’re sailing softly through the sun
in a broken stone age dawn.
You fly so high.

Isn’t it funny how some people can simply mesmerize us? No matter what they do, we love it. There’s just a certain magic in the air when they’re around. And even when they do things we disagree with, we give them a pass. We just smile, shake our head and shrug it off.

I get a strange magic,
oh, what a strange magic,
oh, it’s a strange magic.
Got a strange magic,
got a strange magic.

It’s like we are hoping a little of that magic dust will rub off on us, if we can just hang around it long enough. One characteristic about these “magical” souls is their ability to make you feel like they are wholly and totally interested in you – and only you – even if it’s just for that moment.

You’re walking meadows in my mind,
making waves across my time,
oh no, oh no.

And while it’s clear that Jesus was not physically imposing or impressive – he is routinely described as being very ordinary in appearance – the people he encountered were drawn to him like a magnet. It’s my belief that He must have been one of those people who locked right in on you, like a laser beam, until you felt there was no one else in the world except the two of you. Totally focused only on you and your concerns.

I get a strange magic,
oh, what a strange magic,
oh, it’s a strange magic.
Got a strange magic,
got a strange magic.

Jeff Lynne, one of the founders and the creative force behind the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) was certainly one of those magical personalities, as well. ELO “burst” upon the American music scene in 1971 with their debut LP, No Answer. I say burst, but maybe I should say bust, as there was very little notice or fanfare. It seemed that their “light orchestra” concept for rock-n-roll simply did not translate well outside the studio. In fact, many of their earliest show dates were cancelled because their sound was so bad. “Roll Over Beethoven”, indeed.

Oh, I’m never gonna be the same again,
now I’ve seen the way it’s got to end,
sweet dream, sweet dream.

But by the time their third album – On The Third Day – came out, they had hit the formula for their signature sound with “Showdown” reaching #53 on the Billboard charts. And with their fourth album – Eldorado – they moved up to a new level with “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” going to #9. With the tour for Eldorado, Jeff decided to quit trying use only studio effects onstage to replicate their sound and hired an actual string based orchestra and choir for the road shows. ELO instantly became one of the most popular live bands on tour.

Strange magic,
oh, what a strange magic,
oh, it’s a strange magic.
Got a strange magic,
got a strange magic.

When people talk about “Strange Magic”, they frequently use terms like “trance-like”, “mesmerizing” and “hypnotic” to describe the sound. It sounded, at that time, truly like nothing else on the radio. Jeff Lynne has maintained that his original goal with ELO was to structure a form of “classical rock” that would “take up where The Beatles left off”.

The cover art for Face The Music depicted an electrocution on the front with the band facing against a glass panel watching it, on the back. One band member – keyboardist Richard Tandy – is the only one not shown “facing the music” because he objected to the morbidity of the concept.

ELOFTMFCover

ELO_FACE_THE_MUSIC back cover

Strange magic STRANGE MAGIC
oh, what a strange magic STRANGE MAGIC
oh, it’s a strange magic.
Got a strange magic.

With the follow up platinum selling A New World Record in 1976 and the multi-platinum. double-LP, Out Of The Blue, in 1977, Jeff and ELO had firmly cemented their rightful place in rock legend. In 1978, ELO booked 92 cities for the most extensive tour schedule ever at that time – dubbed The Big Night – which became the highest grossing rock tour in history, to date.

“Strange Magic” has always been one of my faves and, coming along well before their meteoric success, marked the way for their days ahead. Face The Music is, even today, in my car’s CD box and still in my own personal top rotation. So get ready for a little rock-n-roll magic. And, if you’ve got some good headphones, I recommend putting ’em on and cranking it up.

Enjoy the original here:

Sources for this post included:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_Light_Orchestra

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Face_the_Music_%28Electric_Light_Orchestra_album%29

 

 

 

In Your Wildest Dreams

heart-of-stone

Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity. ~Proverbs 28:14

Cryin’ on the corner, waitin’ in the rain
I swear I’ll never, ever wait again
You gave me your word, but words for you are lies

Darlin’, in my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d go
But it’s time to let you know

Yup, life can really throw you some curve balls. Can’t resist a little baseball reference here – I’m a huge fan, spring training is in full swing and we’re just a couple of weeks away from the season openers. But I digress…

Yes life can be full of tough games, with love being the toughest of them all. And when it roughs you up enough, the temptation is to become a little jaded, a little cynical…a little hard-hearted.

I’m gonna harden my heart
I’m gonna swallow my tears
I’m gonna turn and leave you here

And though I can only speak for one side of the gender gap, it seems to me a trait most often worn by the fairer sex. Then again, I guess that’s because we menfolk are most often giving them reason to be. And it’s funny how the softest thing in the world – a woman’s heart – can somehow turn into the hardest stone you’ve ever seen.

All of my life, I’ve been waitin’ in the rain
I’ve been waitin’ for a feeling that never, ever came
It feels so close but always disappears

Darlin’, in your wildest dreams, you never had a clue
But it’s time you got the news

And when it does, it often seems like it comes out of nowhere, in the middle of the night. Gone with the wind…and a colder wind never blew.

You know, it’s funny but that’s how some folks are about Jesus, too. They can be the warmest, most caring folks in the world…but let the conversation turn to the King of Peace and you’ll surely find some hardened hearts out there.

And you gotta wonder why.

I’m gonna harden my heart
I’m gonna swallow my tears
I’m gonna turn and leave you here

It’s hard to say where the inspiration for Quarterflash’s only Top 10 hit “Harden My Heart” came from. It was written by Marv Ross, the guitar playing husband of Rindy Ross, the sax player and lead vocalist for the group.

And theirs was seemingly a fairytale story: they met while studying for teaching degrees at Western Oregon University. They fell in love while gigging for local Pacific northwest area bands and, after pursuing their teaching careers for three years, ultimately founded their own group – Seafood Mama – playing local dive bars between Portland and Seattle during the late ’70’s.

Darlin’, in my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d go
But it’s time to let you know

And I’m sure Marv and Rindy never thought that they would become huge stars – well at least one-hit wonders – when they changed their band’s name to Quarterflash and got signed with Geffen Records in 1981. But, it was the year MTV debuted and there was not a huge catalog of music videos available, so Quarterflash’s catchy tune with the “Pat Benatar/Raphael Ravenscroft” sounding sax player got heavy rotation. It would go on the reach #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and become a million selling, Gold certified single.

I’m a-gonna harden my heart
I’m gonna swallow my tears
I’m a-gonna harden my heart
I’m gonna swallow my tears
Harden my heart
I’m gonna swallow my tears
No, oh, oh, oh
Harden my heart
I’m gonna harden my heart
I’m gonna swallow my tears
I’m a-gonna harden my heart

A few interesting notes about Quarterflash:

  • The band’s name came from an Australian slang description for visiting Yanks as being “one quarter flash and three parts foolish”.
  • Marv and Rindy discovered the expression in a book they found at the house of their Geffen producer, John Boylan.
  • The group was actually formed by the merging of their group, Seafood Mama, along with another Portland area band, Pilot. They recorded a prior version of the song “Harden My Heart” and it was a regional hit in the area.

Quarterflash

Marv and Rindy have stuck together ever since, reforming Quarterflash in the early 2000’s and releasing two more albums, though neither has seen much commercial success.

I guess you could say the Ross’s have kept their hearts from becoming hardened and endured as a couple, both musically and romantically.

We should all strive to do likewise.

Enjoy the original here:

Sources for this post included:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harden_My_Heart

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quarterflash

In The Right Measure

manwithsword

Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword! ~ Matthew 10:34

Oh, I can’t take another heartache
Though you say you’re my friend, I’m at my wits end
You say your love is bona fide
But that don’t coincide with the things that you do
And when I ask you to be nice, you say
Maybe it should be said that conflict, not absence, makes the heart grow fonder. There’s just something about the drama that often ensues from conflict in a relationship, that warms – more like heats – the heart. There’s nothing like a good spirited spat to get the blood racing. Yeah, a little gunpowder thrown in the fire can be a good thing.
You gotta be
Cruel to be kind in the right measure
Cruel to be kind it’s a very good sign
Cruel to be kind means that I love you
Baby, you gotta be cruel to be kind
I’ve never been one of those who needed such stimuli to keep relationships strong; quite the contrary, I prefer the placid pond. Though I know there’s plenty out there who would disagree on this with a resounding jeer – how boring!
I do my best to understand, dear
But you still mystify and I want to know why
I pick myself up off the ground
To have you knock me back down again and again
And when I ask you to explain, well, you say
And what would Jesus say about such foibles? Interestingly enough, the Prince of Peace says that when we next see Him, He will be swinging a sword. And this time it won’t just be tables at the Temple getting knocked over. There will be all kinds of destruction and division, even among family member and close relationships.

You’ve gotta be cruel to be kind in the right measure
Cruel to be kind, it’s a very good sign
Cruel to be kind means that I love you, baby
(You’ve gotta be cruel)
You’ve gotta be cruel to be kind
“Cruel To Be Kind” has always been one of my favorites from the self proclaimed “Jesus of Cool”, Nick Lowe. It was his highest charting single in the U.S., reaching #12 on the Billboard charts in 1979. Interestingly enough, it reached #12 on the U.K, Australian and Canadian charts, as well.
Here’s a few interesting notes about the song:
  • “Cruel To Be Kind” was one of 206 videos that were played on MTV’s very first day of broadcasting, August 1, 1981
  • The video re-enacts his wedding with Carlene Carter (June’s daughter) and also features Rockpile bandmate, Dave Edmunds, as the limo driver.
  • The song was originally written for Nick’s earlier band, Brinsley Schwarz, but never got released
  • It also appeared – in a different, slower version – as the B side to the single “Little Hitler”
 Well, I do my best to understand, dear
But you still mystify
And I want to know why
I pick myself up off the ground
To have you knock me back down
Again and again
And when I ask you to explain, you say
Nick was no stranger to conflict and chaos himself; he earned his nickname “Basher” due to his unique style in the recording studio, both as producer and performer. He was known to urge his bands to just “Bash it out…we’ll tart it up later” to get the raw, rough sound that his record label, Stiff Records, became so well known for.
So, if you are one of those who prefers a dash of drama to liven your day and a few tears mixed with your laughter, or if you prefer a more peaceful union, either way, the Basher is sure to get your blood flowing with this one every time.
Enjoy the original here

Source for this post included: