Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Stills’

Echoes Of History

May 10, 2022

Originally posted July 13, 2009

On a late winter day many years ago, I wandered up a slight hill and through the gate of the Tower of London, the complex that has served for more than nine hundred years as fortress, residence, bank vault, jail and more. The Tower was the fourth stop of the day for me. I recall being interested, even fascinated in the historic things I was seeing: a Seventeenth Century home, a monument to the 1666 Fire of London, bits and pieces from Roman settlements in the basement of a church. But it was like reading old stories. There were stones and walls and chairs and inscribed dates. Nothing seemed alive.

And then I came to Tower Green, an open space inside the tower walls.  I stopped at a small sign near a plaque in the pavement, and I read:

On this site stood a scaffold on which were executed:
Queen Anne Boleyn 1536
Margaret, Countess of Salisbury 1541
Queen Catherine Howard 1542
Jane Viscountess Rochford 1542
Lady Jane Grey 1554
Robert Devereux Earl of Essex 1601
also near this spot was beheaded Lord Hastings 1483

I looked at the names on that simple sign, a few of which I recognized – the crowned queens Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard and the uncrowned queen Lady Jane Grey – though I knew very little of their stories. And I looked at the shiny metal plaque centered inside a nearby quadrangle of chains.

In even the most average and quiet of lives, I imagine that there are moments when those lives shift, moments that one can look back at and say, “I changed right then.” My life has had more than a few of those moments, and I’ve written about some of them. But only a very few of such moments were more important to me than the few seconds it took for me to read that very plain sign and look at the plaque that marked the site of the scaffold.

“Blood flowed here,” I thought. As I had that thought, history ceased to be simply names and dates in books; it became people, those men and women whose lives had intersected for good or ill – mostly for ill, in that place I was standing – with the lives of those who were greater or at least more powerful.

Since that moment, I have probably read history more frequently than anything else (although I do still enjoy plenty of fiction). For a time, I dug into World War II and the Holocaust. The exploration and the settling of the American West – especially, for some reason, the Mormon migration from Illinois to what became Utah – caught my attention for a while. I’ve dabbled in ancient Egypt and dug into the end of the Romanov dynasty during the Russian Revolution. I find myself drawn, as I was when I was very young, to the American Civil War.

And recently, I’ve been teased by a television series into the idea of examining the very era that triggered my fascination with history. And that statement will launch a side trip:

A couple of weeks ago, the Texas Gal called our our cable and internet provider from her office and asked if it were possible for both our computers – my desktop and her laptop – to run from the same modem, mine via landwire and hers as a wireless. The answer was yes, and the woman on the phone told the Texas Gal that she could disconnect our standard modem immediately. “No, no, no!” said the Texas Gal, explaining that I was using the standard modem, adding that any disconnection should only come after we’d moved the wireless modem to where my computer resides and connected my machine to the wireless modem via the landwire.

Of course, within five minutes, my Internet access went away. I called and was told my wife had ordered the access disconnected. Damn, I thought, I really made her angry about something! When she came home as I was on the phone with our provider, she sighed resignedly and said, “I knew they were going to do that, even though I told them not to, twice.” After a brief conversation, my access was restored, and we made plans to move the wireless modem during the next weekend. The next morning, my access was gone once more for the same nonexistent reason. And when I called to complain and explain, the firm’s representative apologized, reactivated my line and offered us all the premium cable channels free for a year.

Now, back to the original story: That evening, I came across the third-season premiere of The Tudors, the tale of King Henry VIII of England as told by Showtime. And I was fascinated. Often bawdy, often bloody, it seems to be fairly accurate historically, and I’ve been catching up on the first season through our DVD service. And when I finish the current pile of books in my study, I think I’m going to dig a little bit into Tudor England and learn a little more about those unfortunates – and about the people and life around them – whose lives ended so many years ago at that place that changed my life.

A Six-Pack of Queens
“Black Queen” by Stephen Stills from Stephen Stills [1970]
“Little Queenie” by the Rolling Stones from ‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!’ [1970]
“Witch Queen of New Orleans” by Redbone, Epic 10746 [1971]
“Caddo Queen” by Dobie Gray from Drift Away [1973]
“Mississippi Queen” by Mountain, Windfall 532 [1970]
“Gypsy Queen, Part One” by Gypsy from Gypsy [1970]

Note: The fairly plain sign I saw at Tower Green was replaced sometime later with a more detailed sign, further identifying the individuals executed and providing a date as well as a year of execution. And the spelling of one of the names was changed, from “Catherine Howard,” when I saw it, to “Katherine Howard” on the more detailed sign. In recent years, the site of the plain sign and plaque has been marked by a fairly ornate monument. I read in one of the documents linked at the monument page that the temporary scaffold on which those victims died was built at various locations over the years. So it’s still likely that blood flowed nearby, if not exactly at the place where I stood many years ago.

One Chart Dig: June 12, 1971

June 12, 2018

By this time during June 1971, I was mowing grass every day, riding across the lawns at St. Cloud State, sometimes enjoying it but mostly worried that I was going to have some kind of accident. That worry slowed me down, and I did not cut as much grass as my supervisor expected, so by mid-summer, I was transferred to the janitorial crew, which was fine with me.

Anyway, during June I’d come home with the roar of the lawnmower in my ears – no protective headgear for us in those long-ago days – and it would be an hour or two before the sound subsided, which was usually right around dinner time. Once I could hear, I’d turn the radio on in my room or stack a few LPs on the stereo in the basement and kick back for the evening.

So what did I hear? Here’s the Billboard Top Ten from June 12, 1971, forty-seven years ago today:

“Want Ads” by the Honey Cone
“Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones
“Rainy Days & Mondays” by the Carpenters
“It Don’t Come Easy” by Ringo Starr
“Joy To The World” by Three Dog Night
“It’s Too Late/I Feel The Earth Move” by Carole King
“Sweet & Innocent” by Donny Osmond
“Treat Her Like A Lady” by the Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose
“I’ll Meet You Halfway” by the Partridge Family
“Bridge Over Troubled Water/Brand New Me” by Aretha Franklin

Well, from nearly fifty years later, that’s a pretty good set; I’d still wince at the Donny Osmond, but I’d likely enjoy the Partridge Family single more now than I did then.

That takes care of the radio. What would I hear if I headed to the rec room and the stereo? Here are the rock albums I’d acquired so far in 1971:

The Beatles (The White Album)
Crosby, Stills & Nash
“Yesterday” . . . and Today by the Beatles
Ram by Paul & Linda McCartney
Pearl by Janis Joplin

I was still working on my Beatles collection, but was beginning to branch out, too. By the end of the year, I’d have a few more albums by the Fab Four as well as albums by the Doors, Jethro Tull, Stephen Stills and Three Dog Night. I’d also acquire the original version of Jesus Christ Superstar and The Concert for Bangla Desh.

But to get back to that Billboard Hot 100 from forty-seven years ago today, I was going to play Games With Numbers with today’s date – 6/12/18 – and check out the records at Nos. 18, 24, 30 and 36. But only one of those four interests me – “Don’t Pull Your Love” by Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds at No. 30 – and I’ve heard it recently.

So I dropped to the bottom of the chart, and at No. 100, I found a Stephen Stills record that I liked a fair amount: “Change Partners,” which also showed up on Stills’ second solo album. I recall hearing it that summer, but probably not often, as the record stalled at No. 43.

Saturday Single No. 589

May 5, 2018

A search through the RealPlayer for tracks with the word “down” in their titles yields a result of 1,827 titles. That’s a lot of “down,” and that’s fitting, as a cold has settled in my head overnight and I’m going to be settling down for a good portion of the day.

I’ll be saving my energy, as we have a dinner with a friend this evening and then will attend a dance performance at the College of St. Benedict in the nearby burg of St. Joseph. So I’m going to sift through the “down” tracks and offer one of them for a tune this morning.

And I find one of my favorite tracks from Stephen Stills’ 1970 self-titled solo album, and a search tells me that somehow in more than eleven years of writing about the music I love, I’ve never once mentioned the track. I find that astounding, especially since I have at times written about the album, long one of my favorites.

So here is Stephen Stills’ “Sit Yourself Down,” today’s Saturday Single:

Saturday Single No. 573

January 13, 2018

I filled out one of those Facebook list things this week, giving details about my senior year in high school: Did you know your life partner (no), were you a jock or a nerd (the latter), do you remember the mascot (Tigers), do you remember the school song (“March Straight On, Old Tech High”) and about fifteen other questions that I answered from the perspective of the St. Cloud Tech Class of 1971.

I’ve written before about that year, how that was when I began to read science fiction and astronomy books, when I spent a good portion of time wooing a cute sophomore girl whose attentions were focused elsewhere, when I began to play the guitar, and when I began – in large part because of my unrewarded romantic efforts – to write verse that sometimes worked as lyrics.

And this morning, I wondered what the Billboard Top Ten albums looked like as January and my senior year approached their midpoints in 1971. Here’s the list, along with the dates the LPs came to my shelves.

All Things Must Pass by George Harrison (August 15, 1981)
Abraxas by Santana (April 1, 1989)
Stephen Stills (August 1971)
The Partridge Family Album
Greatest Hits by Sly & The Family Stone (October 3, 1997)
Jesus Christ Superstar (August 1971)
Pendulum by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Live Album by Grand Funk Railroad
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (July 14, 1990)
Led Zeppelin III (March 10, 1999)

I’m not surprised by the absence of the albums by the Partridge Family and Grand Funk Railroad (not only did I not buy those two specific albums, but I never bought any LPs by the two groups), but I am a little startled at the absence of Pendulum. The LP log shows that I acquired every other Creedence album from 1968’s self-titled debut to 1973’s Mardi Gras plus two greatest hits albums. Not sure why I jumped over Pendulum.

Obviously, the two most important to me in that list were the Stephen Stills album and Jesus Christ Superstar. I desperately wanted All Things Must Pass, too, but the price of a three-disc album was out of my reach at the time. I found a passable used copy in 1981, as noted in the list above, and then replaced it with a better copy in the 1990s.

As to the other four albums in that top ten, the purchase dates pretty clearly show that by the time I got around to them in 1989 or later, it was when I was assembling an archive rather than a collection. Of those four, I liked Abraxas and the hits album from Sly & The Family Stone the most; the Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album and the Zep album had a few tracks each that I liked much more than the rest of what they offered.

So as my music source evolved in the past twenty years to CDs, which of those ten albums showed up? Well, two of them: All Things Must Pass and Stephen Stills. Anthologies suffice for Lennon, Led Zeppelin and Creedence, and there are blank spaces for the other five of those ten albums in that long-ago list.

Of course, for much of the last eighteen years, I’ve collected a lot of digital music as well. The only album not represented in the 69,000 mp3s here in the EITW studios is the one by Grand Funk. I have a few tracks from the Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album in the digital stacks, most of what was offered by the Sly & The Family Stone hits album and complete digital copies of the remaining seven albums.

As I’ve done with similar entries here over the past couple of years, I’ll finish off this exercise by seeing which tracks from those albums show up among the exactly 3,700 tracks on the iPod today. It’s not really close. Nothing from the Lennon/Plastic Ono Band or the Grand Funk albums shows up, and I find one track each from Led Zeppelin III and the Partridge Family album and two each from Abraxas and Pendulum. Six hits show up from Sly & The Family Stone, and four tracks show up from Jesus Christ Superstar.

Right now, there are nine tracks from All Things Must Pass in the iPod (although, as I have a fair amount of space open, the remaining tracks from the main portions of that album will likely be added). But all ten tracks from Stephen Stills show up today, and that’s not at all surprising to me. As I think I’ve noted here at least a few times over the years, Stills’ first solo record is one of my essential albums.

Given that, you’d think my favorite track from the album would have been plugged in here or there numerous times over these nearly eleven years. But it’s only been mentioned and shared once, back in the summer of 2007. And it’s a song of hope. All that made it an easy choice to make Stills’ “We Are Not Helpless” today’s Saturday Single.

Chart Digging: Early June 1972

June 5, 2012

I was introduced to beerball in the spring of 1972. The concept was simple: Everyone in a group – in this case, the staffers at KVSC, St. Cloud State’s student radio station – chipped in a minimal amount of money, and two or three drinking-age staffers headed to the liquor store. Those two or three staffers would then meet the rest of the crew at a softball diamond somewhere near campus, bringing with them a couple of cases of cheap beer. With teams somehow selected, softball play began, except everyone always had a bottle of beer at hand.

If you were at bat, you placed your bottle a short distance from home plate. If you got a hit or otherwise reached base, there was an automatic time out for you to go back to home plate, retrieve your beer and bring it with you onto the base paths. Fielders had their bottles nearby, and if a batted ball hit a beer bottle, it was an automatic out. And when a player in the field emptied his or her bottle before the inning was over, it was his or her right to call a timeout in order to come in to the cooler to get another beer to take back into the field.

The weekly games usually took place on Wednesday afternoon, beginning sometime after three o’clock or whenever enough of us could break away from classes and our duties at the radio station. They ended, if memory serves me, somewhere between seven and eight o’clock, when many of us would wobble downtown for something to eat. (And for those who, unlike me, were of legal drinking age in the spring of 1972, most likely more beer or related beverages: Wednesday night was party night in St. Cloud in the early 1970s, as early classes did not meet Thursday mornings.)

Sometimes, we drank Cold Spring, a beer brewed in the little town of that name just fifteen miles southwest of St. Cloud. The brewery still exists, now producing microbrews and beers for various other brewers; its best product is probably John Henry Three Lick Spiker Ale. Forty years ago, in the days before craft beers and before any of us had full-time paychecks, we drank the cheap stuff. And Cold Spring was cheap and not all that good.

Other times, we’d dig into a couple of cases of Buckhorn, a budget beer brewed – if I read Wikipedia correctly – by the folks who brewed Lone Star Beer in Texas. Buckhorn was bad beer, too. I knew that even then, but it was a perfectly good beer at the time to carry on the way from first to second base.

As we played beerball, we had music, of course. Sometimes we’d listen on a portable FM radio to whichever poor schmuck was stuck on air back at the KVSC studios and couldn’t get out to play beerball. More often than not, though, we had an AM radio tuned – most likely – to KDWB in the Twin Cities. And if – as seems likely – we played beerball forty years ago this week, we no doubt heard (and groaned at) a good share of the Billboard Top Ten:

“The Candy Man” by Sammy Davis Jr.
“I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Singers
“Oh Girl” by the Chi-Lites
“Song Sung Blue” by Neil Diamond
“Sylvia’s Mother” by Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show
“Nice To Be With You” by Gallery
“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack
“Morning Has Broken” by Cat Stevens
“Outa-Space/I Wrote A Simple Song” by Billy Preston
“(Last Night) I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All” by the 5th Dimension

I didn’t care for much of that Top Ten forty years ago, and time has not changed that. Out of those, there are only three that I’d enjoy hearing with any regularity: The Staple Singers, the Chi-Lites and the first of the two Billy Preston titles. And I can gladly go years without hearing “The Candy Man” ever again.

Luckily, there are some better things lower down in the Hot 100 from June 10, 1972, so let’s head that way.

When Stephen Stills released Manassas in the spring of 1972, it was a solo album with a stellar supporting cast (Chris Hillman, Dallas Taylor, Paul Harris, Fuzzy Samuels, Al Perkins and Joe Lala with cameos from Sidney George, Bill Wyman and Byron Berline). A year later, recording under the name of Manassas, the same group of musicians (with a few extra folks) released Down the Road. That always kind of confused me when I was a casual record buyer and didn’t really have any reference books to figure out stuff like that. Anyway, sitting at No. 62 forty years ago this week was “It Doesn’t Matter” from Manassas. A decent enough record, it would go one spot higher.

Just two spots further down, at No. 64, sits a great piece of power pop/boogie from the Raiders. “Powder Blue Mercedes Queen” was the Raiders’ third record to hit the Hot 100 since “Indian Reservation” went to No. 1 in early 1971. But like the previous two entrants, “PBMQ” would fall short of that rarified position, peaking at No. 54. Stylistically, it was a long way from the Raiders’ two country-rock-ish previous releases (“Birds of a Feather” and “Country Wine,” which went to Nos. 23 and 51 respectively). As good as it was, I imagine it didn’t sound the way folks expected the Raiders to sound.

According to the legend, Ringo Starr caught a performance by English singer-songwriter Chris Hodge and got him signed to Apple Records. Hodge’s website says, “Ringo and Chris shared a common interest in sci-fi and UFOs,” which led to Apple releasing Hodge’s trippy “We’re On Our Way” with its references to saucers and astral moonbeams. The record was sitting at No. 69 forty years ago this week, on its way to No. 44. It was the only release by Hodge to reach the chart.

Just a little further down, we find some early boogie by ZZ Top. The first charting single for the Texas trio, “Francene” was sitting at No. 77 and would eventually get to No. 69. As the Seventies moved along and turned into the Eighties, of course, ZZ Top became a fixture in the Top 40 with a couple of No. 8 hits (“Legs” in 1984 and “Sleeping Bag” in 1985). As for “Francene,” one of the commenters at YouTube noted the Rolling Stones-like cries of “Whee!” (or however one might spell it) in the last few moments. Not sure about anyone else, but they work for me.

Sitting at No. 83, we find what I think is one of Rod Stewart’s best vocal performances ever with “In A Broken Dream” from the Australian group Python Lee Jackson. The song was recorded in the 1960s, before Stewart became a star, according to Wikipedia: “Believing his vocals were not correct for the song, [songwriter and Python Lee Jackson member Dave] Bentley brought in Rod Stewart . . . as a session musician for the song.” Wikipedia goes on to note that Stewart was paid for the session with a new set of seat covers for his car. First released in 1970, the record did not make the charts. In 1972 (not coincidentally after Stewart was a star), the record went to No. 56 in the U.S. before becoming a No. 3 hit in the United Kingdom.

I’ve written about my admiration for Jackie DeShannon before, and I was hoping to share a video of her “Vanilla Ólay,” which was sitting at No. 99 forty years ago this week. But that’s not possible, says YouTube. A closer look at the copies I have of the Billboard Hot 100, however, shows that “Vanilla Ólay” was the A-Side of a double-sided single, with DeShannon’s cover of Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” on the B-Side. That’s not the way Joel Whitburn has it listed in Top Pop Singles, but I’m going to give you “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” anyway. The single – however it was promoted – went to No. 76.

From The Kiddie Corner Kid

November 9, 2011

Originally posted January 6, 2009

It’s a compound word and can be either an adjective or an adverb. But the actual set of words itself comes in several variations: A quick search this morning at Dictionary.com brought me a number of those variations:

Kitty-corner.
Cater-cornered.
Catty-cornered.
Kitty-cornered.

I suppose there are some variations I’ve missed, but they all mean the same, referring to two things placed diagonally. In our neighborhood on Kilian Boulevard thirty-five or more years ago, it was Rick and I who lived kitty-corner to each other. I’ve written frequently of our escapades and our explorations of music, and he’s stopped by on occasion to comment. When he does so, he calls himself the “kiddie corner kid.”

He stopped by and left a note on my New Year’s Eve post, which included my New Year’s Eve lyric, “Twelve O’Clock High.”

The kiddie corner kid wrote:

“I always thought 12 o’clock high was a Gregory Peck WWII airforce movie. Or was it Gregory Peck in that western where the train comes in at 12 o’clock high? I can’t remember, BUT Gregory seems to be intertwined in all.

“Also I have a friend that could put your words to music, he uses this old pump organ in his basement and has a great way with putting musical notes with musical words. (I just can’t make up my mind.)”

I laughed until my eyes watered, but I imagine others read the note and went “Wha?” So a brief explanation might be in order, even though explanations can water down punch lines.

As to the first paragraph, although I’ve used it sparingly in the blog – maybe twice in two years – my first name is in fact Gregory. And yeah, Twelve O’Clock High was a 1949 Air Force film starring Gregory Peck. It also was a television series that ran for three seasons on the American network ABC in the 1960s. And the western Rick referred to was in fact High Noon, but that starred Gary Cooper, not Gregory Peck. I think Rick knew that.

The first paragraph made me smile. The second dissolved me in laughter. The basement in question was at my house, and there was an old pump organ – one my father had bought from his sister – in the corner. The pedals were a little stiff and the bellows a bit wheezy, but they worked. The labels on the stop knobs were printed in a confusing font that I’d call Olde English if the words had been English. The words were Swedish, I think, although they could have been Latin. Either way, they were unintelligible for kids of fifteen. But it didn’t matter; we’d pull out a few of the stops and noodle around on the organ. And one day, we wrote a song: “Can’t Make Up My Mind.”

The music is a pretty standard three-chord romp with a few dips and stops. The lyric, well, we were fifteen, maybe sixteen. “Can’t Make Up My Mind” is the first lyric I’d ever committed to paper. It’s pretty bad.

“Hey, it wasn’t that bad,” Rick told me last night. “It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful.”

Well, we can disagree on that. I told him we did better on our next effort, a little Lightfootesque ditty called “Sunday Afternoon.”

“Yeah,” he said. “That was all right.”

But with either of those songs – and the few other bits and pieces of songs we put together in those years – the product matters little. It was the process, the time spent together in common effort, that was the seed of the memories that we both cherish. “It’s funny,” he said, “the things that stick with you. I must have gone upstairs at your place for something, because I remember being on the landing, coming down the basement stairs, and hearing you in the basement, working on the song on that old organ.”

It was a good time, even if it wasn’t good music . . . yet.

A Six-Pack of Good Times
“Let The Good Times Roll” by Ray Charles, Atlantic 2047, 1960

“Old Times, Good Times” by Stephen Stills from Stephen Stills, 1970

“Good Times” by Shelagh McDonald from Stargazer, 1971

“For The Good Times” by Al Green from I’m Still In Love With You, 1972

“A Good Time Man Like Me Ain’t Got No Business (Singin’ The Blues)” by Jim Croce from Life & Times, 1973

“Good Times” by Chic from Risqué, 1979

A few notes:

Based solely on the catalog, “Let The Good Times Roll” was one of Ray Charles’ last singles for Atlantic before he moved to ABC-Paramount. The record didn’t make the Top 40, and it might not be in the top ten percent of Charles’ records, but a performance from Charles that’s less than stellar is, of course, better than a hell of a lot of music.

I’ve posted the Stephen Stills track at least once before, but it’s so good and happens to fit so well into today’s theme. The hit from Stephen Stills was, of course, “Love The One You’re With,” which went to No. 14 as 1970 slid into 1971. I’ve long thought that Stills should have released “Old Times Good Times,” which has Jimi Hendrix playing lead guitar, as a single. Hendrix had died only months before the album and its first single were released, and the single would have been a fitting memorial. But maybe it was too soon.

I’m pretty sure I’ve never before posted anything from Shelagh McDonald, whose story is one of the most fascinating in rock history. The owner of an achingly lovely voice, McDonald, a Scottish folk singer, songwriter and guitarist, had released two albums and was on the edge of stardom in Britain when she simply disappeared in 1971. When her music was released on CD in 2005, piquing interest in her tale, she showed up one day in the offices of the Scottish Daily Mail and told her story. That story and her music – collected on Sanctuary Music’s 2005 complilation, Let No Man Steal Your Thyme – are both well worth checking out.*

Al Green and Willie Mitchell in the 1970s: One sound, millions of hearts moved.

Chic’s “Good Times” was one of two things: It could have been a call to party now and forever because the world is going to hell and we’re all gonna die. Or it might have been irony, because the times – when it came out – were lots less than good. I don’t know. I likely could dig through some research and make a judgment, but that would be work. So what the hell, let’s dance as the lights fade!

*As it turns out, I had previously posted a track from Shelagh McDonald, but no more than that. I had not previously written about her fascinating story. Note added November 9, 2011.

Chart Digging: Early August 1971

August 2, 2011

It was about this time forty years ago that I got my first television. I got it from my co-worker and pal Mike, with whom I was scrubbing and polishing floors at St. Cloud State. That wasn’t a bad gig. It was certainly better than the lawn-mowing assignment I’d had – and not done so well with – at the beginning of the summer.

I think Mike and I worked the standard daytime shift about half of the time we were together that summer, cleaning floors in classroom buildings. The rest of the time, when we were working on buildings that housed mostly offices, we’d work from four in the afternoon to about half-past midnight. Either way, it wasn’t a horribly difficult assignment: Clear a room of its furniture, use a mop to spread detergent on the floor and then clean the floor with the electric scrubber. Rinse-mop the floor, and then use a third mop to spread floor wax. Polish the dried floor wax with a soft pad on the scrubber.

There was a lot of down time: After the rinse and after spreading the wax, we had to wait for the floor to dry. In a classroom building, we might be working on two, maybe three classrooms at a time: Mike would scrub floors, and I’d rinse-mop behind him, then I would wax and he would polish. But even working as efficiently as possible, there would be times when we’d have to wait for drying floors. And we were young – I was seventeen and Mike was maybe twenty-two – and there was sometimes more chit-chat and laughter than efficiency.

Along the way, we became friends, for that summer and for the next few years. Mike was going to school part-time and I worked as a janitor a couple hours a day for the next year; our paths crossed frequently.

(During the fall of 1971, we ended up in the same basic African history course. I don’t know how he did in the class, but I failed it, not yet having any clue how to really study. A few years later, as I wandered along a corridor in Stewart Hall, where the history department had its offices, I met the professor whose class I’d failed. I greeted him, and he smiled back. “I don’t remember your name,” he said, “but I remember the face.” I reminded him who I was and told him I’d taken his basic course a while back. He nodded. “Yes,” he said. “You were kind of a bullshit artist, weren’t you?” I could only laugh and acknowledge that he was right.)

Anyway, Mike and I spent hours that summer waiting for floors and wax to dry, and among the things we ended up talking about was his new color television. He had an older one – black and white – that he was going to sell. He asked if I wanted it. I offered twenty bucks, and he took it. So one night as he took me home after our shift – I didn’t yet have a car, and Mike didn’t mind going a bit out of his way – we stopped at his place and picked up the television.

I put it in my room, and a few days later, my dad and I hooked the set up to the rooftop antenna. My television watching back then was mostly sports (some things never change, I guess), and I watched a lot of pro football on that set. But it also became a routine for me in the late evening to watch the local news and then the opening half-hour of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. I’d lie on my bed, propped up on pillows piled against the wall, and listen to Carson’s monologue and then watch his opening bit, usually a comedy routine using long-time sidekick Ed McMahon as his foil. If there were a musical guest I was interested in, I might stay up until just before midnight to catch that performance, but that was infrequent.

Given the omnipresence of media today – the house I’m in has two computers, four televisions, five CD players with radios, three clock radios, an iPod and two other mp3 players, for two people – I find it quaint that a black and white television provides some of my fondest memories. But it does. A couple years later, I spent a portion of a grey Danish Sunday feeling lost and homesick. So I started listing the little things I was missing about life back home. Third on the list was watching Johnny Carson on my TV.

Having a television didn’t mean I stopped listening to the radio, though. And almost all of the records in the Billboard Top Ten that came out during the first week of August 1971 are greatly familiar:

“How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” by the Bee Gees
“Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)” by the Raiders
“You’ve Got A Friend” by James Taylor
“Mr. Big Stuff” by Jean Knight
“Draggin’ the Line” by Tommy James
“Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver
“It’s Too Late/I Feel The Earth Move” by Carole King
“Beginnings/Colour My World” by Chicago
“What the World Needs Now Is Love/Abraham, Martin and John” by Tom Clay
“Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” by Marvin Gaye

Tom Clay’s entry is listed in Top Pop Singles as a spoken word piece; I’d call it a sound collage instead. It pulls together audio bits from the major events of the 1960s and lays them over a medley of the two songs listed in the title. I don’t know that I’d ever heard the piece until I went looking for it this morning. And that’s despite the fact that the KDWB 6+30 from forty years ago today has the record at No. 1. (Across the Twin Cities at WDGY, the Tom Clay single was not listed. I can only assume that it got little airplay on St. Cloud’s WJON, too.)

As interesting at Clay’s work might be, our business – as it almost always does – lies in the lower depths of the Billboard Hot 100. We’ll start at the very bottom and work our way up.

The names of producers and occasional performers Terry Cashman (Dennis Minogue) and Tommy West (Tommy Picardo) – with and without the addition of Eugene Pistilli – pop up frequently on records of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Top Pop Singles lists nine singles by various combinations of the three that either reached the Hot 100 or bubbled under. The best performing of the records came from Cashman & West, whose “American City Suite” went to No. 27 in 1972. In the early days of August 1971, recording as Morning Mist, Cashman and West had “California On My Mind” on the charts. As of the August 7 chart, the record was at No. 100. It would peak at No. 96.

I’ve mentioned this at least once before, but it still baffles me that the Fifties revival group Sha Na Na was considered good enough and hip enough to perform at Woodstock in 1969. I dunno. Maybe I haven’t listened enough to the group, but I find myself not at all interested in finding even the group’s earliest albums. I guess if I want Fifties rock ’n’ roll and doo-wop, I’ll go to the originals. One of the oddest items in the group’s catalog, though, has to be “Top Forty (Of The Lord),” which was sitting at No. 90 during the first week of August 1971. A country-ish encouragement of the Christian good life with a radio-friendly hook, the record would peak at No. 84.

John Kongos’ record “He’s Gonna Step On You Again” is another tune that I’d never heard until this morning, and I regret that very much. I’m not entirely sure what the song is about, but its dense, complex sound had to have been unlike most anything else in the charts forty years ago, when it was at No. 70. The only Hot 100 hit for the South African singer/songwriter (“Tokoloshe Man” bubbled under at No. 111 in 1972), it went no higher on the charts. Wikipedia notes that Kongos’ record has been “cited by the Guinness Book of Records as being the first ever song to have used a sample.” The entry goes on to note, however, that “according to the sleeve note of the CD reissue of the Kongos album, it is actually a tape loop of African drumming; and the use of tape loops and instruments using prerecorded samples such as the Mellotron and Optigan were well established by this time.”

Some time ago, when I listed the albums I turn to on bad days, I included Stephen Stills’ self-titled first album, a record I still play frequently. His second, imaginatively called Stephen Stills 2, had much the same sound and – I think – quality of performance, but I’ve never found myself turning to it as much as I do the first. Seeing Stills’ “Change Partners” sitting at No. 67 in the Hot 100 from forty years ago this week – it had earlier peaked at No. 43 – reminds me that I should reacquaint myself with that second album and see if it needs to be placed in a more frequent rotation.

During the summer of 1971, I would hear Bobby Russell’s “Saturday Morning Confusion” coming from the radio speakers and smile at the depiction of suburban domestic chaos. I don’t know that I ever caught the subtext that the narrating dad had tipped a couple too many on the way home from work the evening before and was paying for it with a hangover headache on the Saturday morning in question. It doesn’t matter, I guess. The record, which was at No. 60 and would peak at No. 28 (No. 24 on the country chart), remains an affectionate look at one slice of American life ca. 1971.

One more record that rings no bells from the summer of 1971 is the deliriously fun “Resurrection Shuffle” from British pop trio Ashton, Gardner & Dyke. I know I listened to radio when I was at home, and some of that had to be on KDWB from the Twin Cities. I listened to WJON at night, after KDWB’s signal had been powered down (jb at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ provided a primer the other day on powering down and related topics), but KDWB was almost certainly my daytime choice. How is it, then, that I do not recall “Resurrection Shuffle,” which went to No. 40 nationwide but was at No. 13 on KDWB’s chart forty years ago today? Well, it doesn’t matter. I know the record now. Here’s Ashton, Gardner & Dyke performing the tune on the British television show Top of the Pops, a show I’d gladly have watched on my new used television.

Saturday Single No. 69

June 24, 2011

Originally posted April 26, 2008

It snowed last night, or rather, early this morning. On April 26, for Odin’s sake!

Well, I’m aware that April snows are not unheard of here in the Northland. Cold and wet weather is a specialty of Mother Nature in these parts. And it didn’t snow all that much, an inch at the most, if that. But we might get more: There’s a 20 percent chance of more snow today and a thirty percent chance for tomorrow, and on neither day will the temperature reach fifty degrees (about 10 degrees Celsius).

If readers have thought, “Geez, he obsesses about the weather,” well, they’re right. Almost all of us in Minnesota do. We talk about the weather when it’s bad, which covers everything from a cloudy day with a light drizzle to a two-foot snowfall with sixty-mile-an-hour winds. On days when the weather is ok but nothing spectacular – maybe a little cloudy and/or maybe a little cool, we talk about bad we think it’s going to get. And on those gorgeous summer days that we get now and then – brilliant blue sky, about 75 degrees (24 C.) with just the hint of a breeze – we talk about how it won’t last. So we’re not only obsessive about the weather, we’re obsessively gloomy about it. I think it’s a genetic aberration present in Nordic peoples, and the other folks who live here have picked it up by osmosis.

But I for one am tired of April feeling like March. So last night, as I sat thinking about this post, I wondered what songs I had about April. If I posted one of them, maybe the weather imps would notice what month it is and start behaving themselves. So I sorted the tunes in the RealPlayer for April.

And I got 243 responses. Turns out that I have a few songs with “April” in the title, and I have a lot of songs that my notes say were recorded in April. (I also have several albums of folkish material that I found at the now-deleted – and superlative – blog 8 Days In April and the comment tags reflect that.)

So what are the songs about April? We start with “April Anne” by John Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas, released on his first solo album, the self-titled album that has become better known as John, The Wolf King of L.A. It’s a sweet song, but it’s about a girl and not the month. I thought about Simon & Garfunkel’s “April, Come She Will,” but I’d like something a little more assertive, something like “April, Get In Here And Clean Up This Mess.”

There’s “April Fool” by the all-woman Seventies funk-rock group Isis (kind of a distaff Earth, Wind & Fire), and “April Fools” by Aretha from her Young, Gifted and Black album. Better, but still not quite what I’m looking for (although I mentally tag both the Aretha track and the group Isis as candidates to show up here sometime soon).

Three Dog Night, of course, recorded “Pieces of April,” which went to No. 19 in 1972, but I don’t want pieces; I want a full April. And Danish songstress Sanne Salomonsen recorded “Sometimes It Snows In April” for her New York Minute album in 1998. Of course, it sometimes snows in April! That’s the problem! (Salomonsen’s song turns out to be a pretty piano-driven ballad with a really cool and emphatic key change during the chorus and words that are so intensely personal that listening to it made me feel as if I were reading her journal.)

So instead of a song about April, let’s take a look at a few songs recorded in April, starting many years ago.

Samantha Bumgarner, whose name pops up frequently if one digs into early recorded popular music, recorded mountain music in the 1920s. She sang and played banjo and fiddle. And according to my notes, she recorded “Big-Eyed Rabbit” and “Worried Blues” in April 1924. My musical interests, as I’ve said earlier, range widely, and this is one of those times when one thinks of the audience and says, “No, I think not.”

The same hold true for most of the songs that I have noted as having been recorded in April (I have session date information for only a fraction of the music I have, and I note it only if the information is easily accessible, so I know there have to be thousands more songs in the RealPlayer recorded in this cruel month – a nod to T.S. Eliot – than I can find this morning.) I don’t think there’s a real yearning to listen to “Pass Around The Bottle And We’ll All Take A Drink,” recorded in 1926 by Gid Tanner’s Skillet Lickers. And I think I can safely pass by Bascom Lamar Lunsford’s “I Wish I Was A Mole In The Ground” from 1928.

Blind Willie Johnson had one of the greatest days in blues history in April of 1930, recording all in one day “John the Revelator,” “Soul of a Man” and “Trouble Will Soon Be Over,” but as astounding as those performances are – and they are astounding to blues aficionados – they’re probably of limited interest to my audience.

A couple more blind folks recorded blues in April in the 1930s: Blind Boy Fuller and Blind Willie McTell. Heading into the 1940s, we find Sonny Boy Williamson No. 1, Lil Green, Big Boy Crudup, Hank Williams (a little country to lay on what’s been a load of the blues) and then Edith Piaf, with “La Vie En Rose.” It’s a lovely song, but I think it translates to “Life In Pink,” which is not really what I want for April.

For some reason in the months immediately after World War II, the word “voot” became part of the vernacular among swing musicians and those in the developing style that would become known as rhythm & blues. The word shows up in, oh, maybe fifty, maybe a hundred or more, titles recorded in California (and perhaps elsewhere). I have six examples in the collection, thanks to Tuwa’s Shanty and The Roots Canal, another fine blog that’s gone out of business. And one of those songs was recorded in April, 1948: “Rock That Voot” by the Nelson Alexander Trio,” which tells the listener, “I wanna rock that voot, baby just for you. I wanna rock that voot, baby, all night long,” over a bed of piano, bass and guitar in which one can hear the promise of rock ’n’ roll.

As I look through the Fifties, I see April blues and R&B from Howlin’ Wolf, Big Joe Turner, Sonny Boy Williamson II and others, and I find rockabilly from Wanda Jackson and others. Bob Dylan performed in the Town Hall in New York City in April 1963, and Mississippi John Hurt’s April 15, 1964, concert at Oberlin College in Ohio is a gem. But not right for today.

I scan the list of April-recorded songs all the way through an April 18, 2003, performance of “Terrorized” by Willie King and the Liberators, recorded in Prairie Point, Mississippi. And I move the cursor back to the Sixties for a nice piece of synchronicity.

On April 26, 1968, Stephen Stills was part of what was likely a recording session for Judy Collins’ album Who Knows Where the Time Goes and, after the session, evidently slipped the recording engineer some cash to sit with his guitar and record a batch of songs he’d been working on. Somehow, that tape has surfaced and is now making its way through the blogworld. It provides a chance to listen to early forms of songs that ended up on albums by Crosby, Stills & Nash, CSN&Y, Stills’ own solo work and his work with Manassas, as well as providing four songs (I think) that were never released at all.

The collection was posted at a forum I frequent (thanks, Old Hippie!), and I find it fascinating. Maybe by posting a song recorded exactly forty years ago today, I can find in the music some kind of April mojo.

So here’s a very early version of Stephen Stills’ “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” today’s Saturday Single.

Stephen Stills – “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” [1968]

A Baker’s Dozen From 1970, Vol. 3

June 18, 2011

Originally posted March 19, 2008

As books go, they weren’t very impressive. The first, A Sea of Space, was an anthology of fourteen science fiction stories. The authors whose works were included ranged from Ray Bradbury – whom I knew at the time – to William F. Nolan – about whom I learned a little bit later – to Kris Neville, about whom I still know nothing. I bought it some time during 1970 for sixty cents. That was the cover price.

The other book, 13 Great Stories of Science Fiction, was one I got during my first summer in the work force. I wrote here once about spending a portion of the summer of 1971 as a janitor at St. Cloud State. During that time, I spent about two weeks working in the building called Riverview, where the English department had its offices. One day, one of the literature professors put a box of paperback books in the hallway; professors, as I learned later, get free books from publishers all the time. I dug in. And somewhere in the middle of the box I found 13 Great Stories, which turned out to be a reprint of a book originally published in 1960.

I’d been reading science fiction for a little more than a year. And some of the names on the cover of 13 Great Stories were familiar to me: Arthur C. Clarke, Theodore Sturgeon, Damon Knight, Poul Anderson and Algis Budrys.

As I said, as books go, they weren’t very impressive: A recent anthology of mostly lesser-known writers and an older anthology of more impressive authors’ possibly lesser works. (I’d read much of Arthur C. Clarke’s work by then, and considered the Clarke story included in 13 Great Stories – “Silence, Please!” – to be one of his minor pieces.

But those may have been the most important books I’ve ever owned.

When I was in school – late elementary and junior high – teachers and my parents despaired at my ever learning to write. Oh, I had the vocabulary and knew the English language. It was the mechanics that got to me. Handwriting baffled and frustrated me. I tried and tried to make my letters come out looking like the examples posted above the bulletin boards, but I could never get the shapes right. Add to that the fact that – for some reason – from fourth grade on, we used fountain pens in school, meaning that any hesitation with the pen touching the paper resulted in a blot. My work often resembled a piece of abstract art titled “Study in Black Ink on White.”

And even when using a ballpoint pen, the demands of forming the letter-shapes defeated me before I could even begin to think about content. How could I think about what I was writing when I was unable to master the mechanics of the craft? (My fifth-grade teacher, Roger Lydeen – about whom I will write more on another day – saw the problem and tried to teach me to type, but I was unable to master that at the age of ten.)

So through maybe my sophomore year of high school, I dreaded any assignment that included writing, simply because I could not write cursive script. When I made notes at home – for any purpose, from telling my folks I was over at Rick’s to writing out a hockey schedule for the winter – I printed. And when I was a junior, I believe, I went to my teachers and asked for permission use printing for my work instead of cursive. All of them – having no doubt struggled with reading my work – agreed.

That summer, I bought A Sea of Space, and reading it, I began for the first time to think about writing as something I might want to do. During the first half of my senior year – 1970-71, I began to seriously explore the world of science fiction, reading for content but also looking at least a little bit at technique: How did Clarke structure his stories? What were the constants in the works of Robert Heinlein? How does a writer like Isaac Asimov plan and structure a multi-volume series like his Foundation works? I don’t know if I truly formulated those questions, but those are the things I began to think about at least a little as I read my way through the major works of science fiction from the 1950s and 1960s.

Also that year, I took a class in mass media, and one of our assignments was to write something for the media. Most students wrote stories for newspapers or magazines. As I thought about the assignment, I realized that for the first time in my life, I wanted to write. And I took one of the stories from A Sea of Space, a romantic tale by Robert F. Young titled “One Love Have I,” and I wrote a screenplay.

It wasn’t very good, as I look back, but for a first try, it was okay. I think I got an A. More importantly, I learned I could write. It took me years afterward to figure out that the barrier had been the mechanics and not my brain, but for the first time, I’d thought about writing something and had done it! Poems and lyrics and a few short stories followed over the next few years, and in college, I began to learn to write for a living.

In that summer before I began college, however, I came across 13 Great Stories and learned something else. As soon as I got home that day, after finding the book in the box, I sat down and dug in, reading the first story, “The War Is Over” by Algis Budrys. It was okay, and I moved on to the second story, “The Light” by Poul Anderson. It’s not long, about twelve pages.

And I got to the end of the story and put the book down. I sat there, on the couch in the basement rec room, stunned. I looked back through the story, looking for clues that Anderson had laid down to support his magnificent surprise ending. They were there. I re-read the story, and still I marveled at the ending, which even years later I think is one of the greatest endings to a short story ever.

I’m not going to relate the ending here. I don’t know if the story is still in print or not. If I learn that it’s not, I may open a separate blog and post the entire story there. I will say that I’ve read a lot of fiction since then – this was almost thirty-seven years ago – and I have yet to read another work of fiction that left me so stunned and amazed, or so eager to try to make my own way through the thickets of writing and lay a strong ending into the hands of another reader. And the slender volume, 13 Great Stories went onto my shelf in my early science fiction collection, next to A Sea of Space.

When I moved from my parents’ home to the cold house on the North Side, my father asked me if I was certain I wanted to move all my books. “Your books are your friends,” he said to me. “You care for them and keep them safe. But not everyone feels that way about books. It’s something you need to think about.”

As it turned out, I took most of my books with me, and no harm came to them. My library – science fiction, history, film studies and more – grew and moved with me for years. Then, in the mid- to late 1990s, things got tough. I had some bad luck and I made some poor decisions, and I spent a few years scuffling to get by. And one Saturday, I took several boxes of books – including all of my science fiction collection – to a shop I knew, and I sold them in order to get enough money to pay rent. I didn’t weep as I sold my old friends, but I came close.

I’ve made no attempt to rebuild the collection in the years since, though I likely could. Most of the works are readily available, and I think occasionally about finding them. But about a year ago, I guess, those two volumes of short stories came to mind, and I began to dig online. It took a while to find them, but now they sit here on my table, A Sea of Space and 13 Great Stories of Science Fiction, friends come home at last.

And here’s some music from the year I met the first of those friends.

A Baker’s Dozen from 1970, Vol. 3
“Power to Love” by Jimi Hendrix from Band of Gypsys

“Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’” by the Allman Brothers Band from Idlewild South

“Poor Elijah/Tribute to Robert Johnson” by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends from On Tour With Eric Clapton

“25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago, Columbia single 45194

“All Things Must Pass” by George Harrison from All Things Must Pass

“Groupy Girl” by Tony Joe White from Tony Joe

“For Yasgur’s Farm” by Mountain from Climbing!

“I Looked Away” by Derek & the Dominoes from Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs

“Ship of Fools” by the Doors from Morrison Hotel

“Spindrifter” by Quicksilver Messenger Service from What About Me?

“Sittin’ On Top of the World” by Howlin’ Wolf from The London Sessions

“Go Back Home” by Stephen Stills from Stephen Stills

“Sign on the Window” by Bob Dylan from New Morning

A few notes:

The Band of Gypsys album is one I mentioned the other day when writing about Buddy Miles. It was recorded, as I said then, “at the Fillmore East in New York on the night 1969 turned into 1970.” Jimi Hendrix’ catalog of projects completed during his lifetime is so slender – given that he died young – that all of it might be considered essential. But if I were limited to one record, Band of Gypsys is the one I’d choose.

The Delaney & Bonnie & Friends album from which “Poor Elijah/Tribute to Robert Johnson” comes is a great record. Without actually making a list, I’d guess that it would rank as one of the ten greatest live albums in rock. The “Friends” for that tour, along with Eric Clapton, were Dave Mason, Carl Radle, Jim Gordon, Bobby Whitlock, Jim Price, Bobby Keys, percussionist Tex Johnson and Rita Coolidge.

I never listened to a lot of Mountain back then, through I liked the long version of “Nantucket Sleighride” on the live album. I pulled “For Yasgur’s Farm” from a best-of CD, and it’s a pretty good tune. (Not to insult anyone, but I suppose some readers might not know that Max Yasgur’s farm near Bethel, N.Y., was the site of the Woodstock festival.)

I go back and forth on the Doors. Some of their singles still sound good, but others sound, well, dismal. And the same holds true for their albums, both track-by-track and record-by-record. Of all their albums, I think Morrison Hotel holds up best these days. And if “Ship of Fools” isn’t the best track on the record – I think “Roadhouse Blues” or “Indian Summer” gets that nod – it’s at least a good one.

“Spindrifter” a sweet piece, is basically the work of the late Nicky Hopkins, a highly regarded keyboard player who joined Quicksilver in the studio for a good portion of What About Me? As All-Music Guide notes: “For almost two decades, [Hopkins] was the most in-demand session pianist in rock,” working for, among many others, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Who, the Kinks, the Jeff Beck Group, the Jefferson Airplane and the Steve Miller Band.

A Baker’s Dozen For Minneapolis

April 30, 2011

Originally posted August 3, 2007

Things like this aren’t supposed to happen. Bridges aren’t supposed to fall down.

No, we didn’t lose anyone. No relatives or friends were on the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis Wednesday evening when it groaned and tumbled into the Mississippi River. But in the larger sense that I think everyone out there understands, those were our friends and neighbors: those who stood dazed on a section of highway sitting on the water, those who helped get the crying children out of that precariously perched school bus, those who crawled up the steep remnants of the bridge and helped others do the same, and yes, those – evidently and thankfully few – who remain lost and in the water still.

The Texas Gal’s sister called us about 6:30 Wednesday evening, asking if we were okay, adding that she knew that sometimes the Texas Gal has to go to Minneapolis for her work. I was confused by her question. We were watching the news, but we were running about fifteen minutes behind, as I’d put the television on pause while we got dinner together. When she told me what had happened, all I could say was “What?” The words made no sense.

Listening, I carried the phone into the living room. The Texas Gal said later that from the look on my face, she thought that someone in one of our families had died. We changed the channel to bring the television up to current time, said goodbye and hung up. Then the Texas Gal and I sat there, stunned, and watched the news for more than three hours.

I called my sister’s house and talked to my brother-in-law. Everyone was safe. We got a couple more calls from Texas, friends seeing if we were okay. And we were, of course. Except that we weren’t. From time to time, things happen that shred the verities in our lives: The doctor has bad news. Someone swallows something the wrong way. A summer storm spawns tornadoes. A car runs a red light into another car’s path. And a bridge falls into the river.

We live less than a mile from the Mississippi River and cross it frequently – the Texas Gal does so everyday and I do a couple times a week. When I lived in Minneapolis eight years ago, I drove on the I-35W bridge every day on my way to work. Crossing the river safely is something we’ve taken for granted, just like those folks who were driving on Interstate 35W Wednesday night took it for granted. We might not for a while. So we – like most Minnesotans and like our friends all around the country – weren’t entirely okay. We were better off than those souls caught in the horror and better off than their families and friends, certainly, but we were shaken.

Now, all the various agencies will go about their jobs. In not that long a time, the last unfortunates will be found and identified. The shattered and twisted bridge will be removed and studied. A new one will be designed and begin to rise. People will point fingers in blame, some in honest outrage and some, sadly, for political gain.

And as all of those things happen, shock and grief will eventually wane – not for some time yet, but eventually – and the wounded will heal. We’ll move forward, having been reminded that every day, we are all no more than one instant from disaster. We always have been and we always will be. It sometimes takes something like a bridge falling into a river to remind us of that and thus to remind us to take nothing for granted, ever.

So if you have children, if you have parents, if you have brothers and sisters, if you have friends, then let them know how much they matter to you. Today.

A Baker’s Dozen for Minneapolis:

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel from Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)

“Follow” by Richie Havens from Mixed Bag (1968)

“East of Ginger Trees” by Seals & Crofts from Summer Breeze (1972)

“Every Grain of Sand” by Bob Dylan from Shot of Love (1981)

“The Circle Game” by Tom Rush from The Circle Game (1968)

“Whispering Pines” by The Band from The Band (1969)

“Get It While You Can” by Janis Joplin from Pearl (1970)

“Long As I Can See The Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fantasy single 645 (1970)

“Page 43” by Graham Nash & David Crosby from Graham Nash/David Crosby (1973)

“We Are Not Helpless” by Stephen Stills from Stephen Stills (1970)

“Seems Like A Long Time” by Rod Stewart from Every Picture Tells A Story (1971)

“I Shall Be Released” by Joe Cocker from With A Little Help From My Friends (1969)

“Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight, The End” by the Beatles from Abbey Road (1969)