song of the day #2 – “What I Am” | EDIE BRICKELL & NEW BOHEMIANS | 1989.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June (and now through July), I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  Sometime here in July, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

Nearly 80 songs reached No. 7 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 between 1979 and 1989, a list comprised of many (then) up-and-coming R&B / Hip Hop and Dance stars, like those awesome Beastie Boys (with “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)”), plus Young MC bustin’ a move, Babyface, Bobby Brown, Dino and Karyn White.

fight for your right

No. 7 was a popular number for hits for The Cars, Michael Jackson and Juice Newton, who had two No. 7 hits each.  There were also No. 7 hits from Bruce Springsteen, and Rhode Island’s answer to Bruce Springsteen – John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band, plus you had Heart and Corey Hart (“Who Will You Run To” when you have on “Sunglasses At Night?”).  Heart’s Ann Wilson also reached No. 7 with “Almost Paradise,” the love theme from FOOTLOOSE, a duet with (real) one-hit wonder Mike Reno of Loverboy.

smooth criminal

The No. 1 artist of the 80s, with his last hit of the 80s, one of two solo songs that reached No. 7 for Michael Jackson.

In 1989, though they would be their last Top 10 American hits, there were a few 70s superstars who had big comeback hits that reached No. 7 – Bee Gees (“One”; their first Top 10 hit since 1979), Alice Cooper (“Poison”; his first Top 10 hit since 1977), and Donna Summer (“This Time I Know It’s For Real”; her first Top 10 hit since 1983).

donna summer

1989 was a huge year for No. 7 hits on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 – 14 of them reached the peak that year.  One of those songs was a song was by a singer, at the time, that I could not stand and a song, at the time, I could stand even less – “What I Am” by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians.

Ever have some songs that just eat away at you for whatever reason?  Sure you do.  A handful of songs from the 80s do that to me.  Maybe one day I’ll mention them.  When “What I Am” came out, there was just something about it that was so as repulsive to me.  I don’t know if it was the hippie-ish nature of Edie Brickell, her voice, or the guitar style that sounded like something Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead would do (I was also not a fan of The Dead in 1989).  Whatever it was that bugged the fuck out of me about that song, it’s long gone now.

The New Bohemians formed as a trio in Dallas, Texas in the early 80s.  The drummer for The New Bohemians, Brandon Aly, guitarist Kenny Withrow and percussionist John Bush had all attended the same magnet performing arts school as Dallas native Edie Brickell, though at the time, Edie was there for art, not music.

In 1985, Edie Brickell was asked to join the band onstage and sing with them, and she continued on from there.  After being a local favorite for years, playing in clubs and even backing Bo Diddley one time, the band’s big break came in August 1988, when they released their first album as Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, SHOOTING RUBBERBANDS AT THE STARS.

shooting rubberbands

Edie Brickell was just 22 years old at the time (I believe they were all young), and SHOOTING RUBBERBANDS was incredibly well-received for a debut album by a young band.  In a review on the AllMusic site by Kelly McCartney, Edie Brickell’s “simple observations offer deep contemplations for the willing disciples of her musical philosophies.  ‘What I Am’ is the perfect example: ‘I’m not aware of too many too many things / I know what I know, if you know what I mean…’  Zen and the art of songwriting.”

Well, the songwriting, the vocals, the Alt-Folk tunage – it all found a place in homes and radio stations and record stores across the country, and eventually SHOOTING RUBBERBANDS AT THE STARS sold than two million copies in the U.S. alone. 

The first single from SHOOTING RUBBERBANDS, “What I Am,” was released in November 1988, a few months after the release of the album.  By month’s end, it debuted on BILLBOARD’s Hot 100 chart at No. 96.  By mid-January 1989, “What I Am” had found its way to the Top 40 of the Hot 100, and for several weeks since debuting on the chart, had been in competition with Information Society’s “Walking Away,” which debuted a couple places below “What I Am” back in late November 1988. 

what i am

By mid-February 1989, “What I Am” surpassed “Walking Away” for the first time since they debuted, and in early March 1989, “What I Am” spent a week at its peak position of No. 7.  And, in good form (though unintentional, I’m sure), both “What I Am” and “Walking Away” walked away the Hot 100 in early April 1989.

walking away

Around the globe, “What I Am” was a No. 6 hit in Canada, and it reached No. 11 in New Zealand, No. 18 in Australia, No. 23 in Ireland and No. 31 in the United Kingdom.  It also reached No. 4 on BILLBOARD’s Modern Rock chart, and No. 9 on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart.  

Edie & The New Bohemians charted on the Hot 100 just one more time, with “Circle,” the follow-up single to “What I Am,” which stopped at No. 48, and was a modest hit around the globe, reaching the Top 40 in Belgium and the Netherlands.

circle

paul n edie march 2016

Paul Simon and Edie Brickell, March 2016.

QUIRKY FUN FACT: On November 5, 1988, the same month “What I Am” was released, Edie and the band performed the song on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.  Well, Paul Simon was there by a cameraman, and in a January 2011 interview with the TODAY show, she said, “Even though I’d performed the song hundreds of times in clubs, [Paul] made me forget how the song went when I looked at him,” she said smiling. “We can show the kids the tape and say, ‘Look, that’s when we first laid eyes on each other’.”  Paul Simon and Edie Brickell were married in late May 1992, and they have three children – Adrian, Lulu and Gabriel.

After a six-year break in the 90s, Edie Brickell & New Bohemians have been together for the past 20 years, most-recently playing three sold out nights in April 2017 in the Dallas suburb where Edie was born, Oak Cliff. 

edie april 2017

Edie Brickell, Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas, April 2017.

When she’s not working with New Bohemians (their last album was in 2006), she’s released several of her own albums, including her other band, The Gaddabouts, and has recorded two Bluegrass albums with the brilliant Steve Martin – 2013’s LOVE HAS COME FOR YOU and 2015’s SO FAMILIAR.  Both albums went to No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Bluegrass Albums chart.  LOVE HAS COME FOR YOU was BILLBOARD’s No. 1 Bluegrass album for 2013, and No. 3 for 2014.  SO FAMILIAR was the No. 3 Bluegrass Album for BILLBOARD in 2016, six positions higher than the year-end chart for the year it was released.

so familiar

In the liner notes for SHOOTING RUBBERBANDS AT THE STARS, Edie Brickell wrote out some annotations about each song on the album, replete with illustrations. For “What I Am,” she wrote, “‘What I Am’ is a smart-alec’s way out of a deep discussion on the universe as it relates to the self.” 

Well, as for this self, I’m not trying to get out of a deep, universal discussion as to why “What I Am” and Edie & Co. didn’t do anything for me for all those years, though maybe it was more of “Who I Am” than “What I Am.”  And while I’m still not a big fan (although I LOVE their 1989 cover of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” from BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY), I’m glad the song eventually grew on me, and became part of what – and who – I like…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDl3bdE3YQA

edie n co 1

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song of the day – “You Can Call Me Al” | PAUL SIMON | 1986 / 1987.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June, I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  On June 30, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

Throughout the years, whether it’s because of an inclusion in a movie or a commercial or a TV show, or a radio station rediscovered it and started playing it again, songs sometimes have more one chart life.  The best example of this is Chubby Checker’s “The Twist,” which reached No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 twice.  In its initial run, the dance craze favorite spent one week on top in September 1960, and again in January 1962 for two weeks.  No other song has done that here in America.  And, because of its two chart runs that ended at No. 1, “The Twist” is ranked at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Hot 100 for all time.

twist

CassingleFrontCoverSm

The 1989 cassette single (or “cassingles” – remember those?!) for “In Your Eyes.”

I believe all decades have had songs re-enter the chart with new chart runs, but I think no other decade has as many as the 80s did.  There were “second-chance singles” (as I like to call them) that went to No. 1 on the Hot 100, like “At This Moment” by Billy Vera & The Beaters and “When I’m With You” by Sheriff, “second-chance singles” that were “(real) one-hit wonders,” like Sheriff (again), Benny Mardones (“Into The Night”) and Moving Pictures (“What About Me”),  and songs that benefited from appearing in movies, like Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” (…SAY ANYTHING) and Billy Idol’s “Hot In The City” (BIG).

Then you have songs that were hits in other decades and, also due to their inclusions in films, were reissued and hit the chart again, like The Beatles’ “Twist And Shout” (featured in both FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF and BACK TO SCHOOL), Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” (from the incredible film of the same name), and The Contours’ “Do You Love Me” (from DIRTY DANCING).

Prince’s “1999” reached the Hot 100 four time in three decades, and reached the Top 40 three of those times.  In its original 1982 chart run (as the debut single from the album of the same name), it stopped at No. 44.  After “Little Red Corvette” reached No. 6, “1999” was re-released and reached No. 12 in 1983.  When the calendar changed from 1998 to 1999 (even though the song wasn’t about the year 1999), it re-entered the Top 40 for one week at No. 40.  And, as BILLBOARD has been doing for several years now, a number of Prince songs re-entered the Hot 100 following his sad passing in April 2016.  In its fourth Hot 100 appearance, “1999” reached No. 27.

1999

These “second-chance singles” don’t always chart higher than their original chart runs (like the Moving Pictures, Peter Gabriel and Billy Idol singles mentioned above), but lots of times they do.  UB40’s “Red Red Wine” originally peaked at No. 34 in March 1984, but in a re-release (after being performed at Nelson Mandela’s 70th Birthday Concert in 1988), the album version of their Neil Diamond cover spent a week at No. 1 in October 1988.  And, the original version of The Pointer Sisters’ classic, “I’m So Excited,” stalled at No. 30 in late 1982, but after being remixed for their 1984 album, BREAK OUT, the song was reissued and did break out, reaching No. 9 on the Hot 100 about two years later.

red red wine

And, sometimes, “second-chance singles” get another shot at the Hot 100 for multiple reasons.  In the case of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al,” its success can be attributed to growing praise and sales for its brilliant parent album, GRACELAND (and its big Album Of The Year Grammy Award), and a smart change in music videos.

“You Can Call Me Al” (a song about someone going through a midlife crisis), the first single released from GRACELAND, debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 83 in early August 1986, about a month before the album was released.  The original video for “You Can Call Me Al” was a performance Paul Simon gave (in the perspective of a video monitor) during a monologue when he hosted SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. 

graceland

Well, Paul Simon wasn’t happy with the video, which didn’t seem to attract many fans to buy the record, and GRACELAND had just been released (and wasn’t the brilliant classic most people associate with it now).  “You Can Call Me Al” spent a couple of weeks at No. 44 in September and October, and dropped off the chart in November 1986 after 14 weeks.

A new video was commissioned, and Paul Simon stayed with his friend and SNL creator, Lorne Michaels, to put together another video.  This one (one of my all-time favorite music videos) pairs Paul with another friend (and SNL alum), Chevy Chase, who lip-syncs Paul Simon’s vocals, leaving Paul to twiddle his thumbs, although Paul ends up lip-syncing his backing vocals throughout, and in the last 30 seconds of the video, the focus switches from Chevy to Paul (although Chevy almost takes Paul’s head off with a trumpet).  It’s an incredibly funny and smartly done video, and I think it resonated with fans, MTV watchers, and radio stations alike. 

al video

Paul Simon and his friend, Chevy Chase, from the hilarious video for “You Can Call Me Al.”

Between a hilarious new music video and a big Grammy win for GRACELAND in late February 1987, “You Can Call Me Al” re-entered the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late March 1987 at No. 92.  About a month later, it surpassed its original No. 44 peak, and reached the Top 40.  About a month after that, it spent a couple of weeks at its (new) peak position of No. 23, departing the chart in early July 1987, with a total of 27 weeks spent on the Hot 100 (strangely enough, in its highe-charting second run, it spent one less week than the first chart run).  To date, it’s Paul Simon’s last Top 40 hit here in America.

you can call me al

Around the globe, “You Can Call Me Al” said, “You can call me a big hit in” Australia, Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa (where it reached No. 2), plus the U.K. (No. 4), the Netherlands (No. 5), Finland (No. 9), France (No. 16) and Canada (No. 19). hyde park

Paul Simon is 75 now, and still very much active in the music scene.  In 2016, he released his 13th studio album, STRANGER TO STRANGER, which reached No. 3 on BILLBOARD’s Album chart, his highest-charting album since GRACELAND went to No. 3 three decades ago.  And, just this month, he released his fourth live solo album, PAUL SIMON – THE CONCERT IN HYDE PARK.

I don’t know what it is, but I love the idea of songs getting a second chance – for whatever reason – to do better on the chart than they did before.  And, though sometimes it doesn’t work out, the times it does happen can be pretty amazing.  And other times you just need a gifted comedic actor and friend to play off against, who’s a full foot taller than you to create a really fucking hilarious music video to help out a really cool song about trying to cope with middle age.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uq-gYOrU8bA

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song of the day – “Clones (We’re All)” | ALICE COOPER | 1980.

forever young blog logoFor whatever reason(s), I’ve been unintentionally lax in my FOREVER YOUNG: MY LIFE STUCK IN THE 80s blog post output so far this year.  Last year, between January 11, 2016 (my first-ever blog post), until June 1, 2016, I had written 111 blog posts.  Not bad for a first-timer.  From January 4, 2017 through today, June 1, 2017, I’ve posted less than half of that 2016 amount.  Well, that changes right now.

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June, I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100, and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  Today’s “song of the day” (June 1, 2017) will feature a song that peaked at No. 40.  On June 30, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

In the 1970s, Alice Cooper was famous for his “snake-eyes” makeup and his being “The Godfather Of Shock Rock,” from Rockin’ songs like “School’s Out,” his first hit, “I’m Eighteen” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” and awesome ballads like “Only Women Bleed,” “I Never Cry” and “You And Me.” 

welcome to my nightmare, 1975

Alice Cooper on the WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE tour, 1975.

It was his ballads, actually, that gave Alice Cooper his biggest hits in the 70s, which isn’t really that strange, because if you think about it, just about all of the big Rock bands of the 70s, 80s and even 90s had their biggest success with a ballad (pardon me, that should prolly read “power ballad”) – a list that includes but is not limited to Styx, Journey, Cheap Trick, Foreigner, Scorpions, Night Ranger, The Cars, Boston, REO Speedwagon, Heart, Kiss, Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, Poison, Queensrÿche, Warrant, Winger, Europe, Cinderella, Skid Row, Bad English (featuring John Waite) and Aerosmith, whose big song from the biggest film of 1998, ARMAGEDDON – “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” – gave the Boston band not only their first (and sole) No. 1 song, but their biggest hit in the 25 years they had been together at that point.

Well, by 1980, Alice Cooper wanted to try something new.  He ditched the makeup  and recorded the 28-minute album, FLUSH THE FASHION, with popular producer, Roy Thomas Baker, who, in the two years previous to FLUSH THE FASHION, had worked with bands like The Cars, Foreigner, Journey and Queen.

flush the fashion

FLUSH THE FASHION had a sort of New Wave influence, and since its release, it has been hailed as a “hidden gem” in the 26 studio albums Alice has released since 1969 (his 27th, PARANORMAL, is scheduled to be released in late July 2017).  At the time of the release of FLUSH THE FASHION, though, many longtime fans were bewildered at the change in Alice’s sound.

Still, FLUSH THE FASHION became Alice Cooper’s biggest album in three years, and returned him to the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 for the first time in two years. alice clones

“Clones (We’re All)” was the first single released from the album, making its debut on the Hot 100 in mid-May 1980 at No. 77, just a few weeks after the release of FLUSH THE FASHION.  “Clones” had risen to No. 51 by early June, and reached No. 40 on July 5, 1980, but, sadly like Blondie’s brilliant “Atomic” (No. 39 that week), both songs lost steam and plummeted down more than half the chart the following week after just nine weeks on the Hot 100.

NERDY AT40 FACT: To my knowledge, “Clones (We’re All)” was actually never mentioned by Casey Kasem, because on that chart dated July 5, 1980, AMERICAN TOP 40 aired a special broadcast of the “AMERICAN TOP 40 Book Of Records” that week, so “Clones” was never even played on AT40 because it was gone from the Top 40 that following week.

“Clones” did have some chart success elsewhere, reaching No. 15 in Canada, No. 36 in Australia, No. 58 in Germany, and somehow all 2 minutes and 51 seconds of “Clones” was serviced to Dance clubs, and it actually reached No. 69 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.

alice 1980 v2

Alice Cooper, 1980.

I’m not sure exactly how “Clones,” a song about forced conformity (“I’m all alone, so are we all / We’re all clones / All are one and one are are all…”), came onto my music radar, I just really liked it.  Strangely enough, today was the first time I ever saw the music video for “Clones,” and if videos were as popular then as they would be a year or so later, and if the 13-year-old version of myself had seen Alice’s frail-looking and somewhat menacing appearance, I am not sure if I would have changed my mind about the song.  But, honestly, whatever attracted me to this odd and yet topically-interesting song still attracts me to it 37 years later.

After “Clones” and FLUSH THE FASHION, his next few albums fizzled and most of the 80s were not good to Alice Cooper.  But, by 1989, he was on a new record label and returned with a vengeance with the album TRASH, his first Platinum album since 1975, which featured the biggest hit of his career – no, not a power ballad this time – the Hard Rockin’ “Poison.”  That song was certified as a Gold single and reached No. 7 on the Hot 100, plus it reached the Top 10 in (at least) the U.K., Australia, Austria, Canada, Holland, Ireland, Norway and Sweden.  Alice Cooper was back. 

Alice_Cooper_–_Poison

From the “Poison” music video…

In 1992, Alice appeared as himself in the highly successful and fun film adaptation of the SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE skit, WAYNE’S WORLD, where he performed at a concert and got his intellectual on about Milwaukee, Wisconsin backstage with Wayne (Mike Meyers) and Garth (Dana Carvey).  In my humble opinion, they’re all worthy.

wayne's world

On top of a new album release this summer (an album which features contributions from Larry Mullen of U2 and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, among others), Alice will be co-headlining a tour in August with Deep Purple and Edgar Winter.

DeepPurple_AliceCooper_Instagram_1080x1080_Static

You know, regardless of chart positions, I’ve always found it interesting how there’s no rhyme or reason to which songs we choose to like and keep liking and loving over the years, but when when do like and love them, those songs really matter, and will forever. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, or the radio dial if you prefer, as much as I love radio, and loved being involved in it for the better part of 32 years (so far), you’ve gotta wonder how a commercial and/or conglomerate station determines what songs are deemed “worthy” of being played forever and what songs are left behind.  I suppose that’s been the case all along (I mean, how else can you explain two great songs dropping 53 places out of the Top 40 from one week to the next?). 

stuck-in-the-80s-20-yearsI know for me, for many great shows on community stations like WMPG, and for shows like Barry Scott’s “The Lost 45s” and the (unrelated) STUCK IN THE 80s podcast based in Florida, I could never forget the amazing songs I loved from my youth and discovered into adulthood and beyond.  And I was proud to share them for nearly 21 years on my weekly STUCK IN THE 80s radio show on WMPG in Portland, Maine, and will again, because I’m sure I’m not the only one out there that feels this way. 

I love Billy Joel, but every time I hear his overrated “Big Shot,” I can’t help but cringe (The guy’s got a gajillion songs!  Play another one!).  The song jumped from No. 51 to No. 23 on the Hot 100 and stopped at No. 14 three weeks later, and yet it’s been deemed “worthy” for radio eternity by the powers that be.  Play something different, dammit!  Give me 1980’s “Sometimes A Fantasy” every day of the week and twice on Sunday (and look for it in an upcoming blog post, dammit!). 

I don’t know, after listening to commercial stations for nearly 40 years, from the big conglomerate ones to the locally-owned ones with diminutive, covfefe head GMs who think 80s Hard Rock songs should be played back-to-back with the likes of Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift, maybe it’s those programmers and radio heads who are the ones that are clones. 

As I am, unlike these sad folks, not a drone or a clone, I think the best response I can give to that is this simple but appropriate quote from Alice’s mostly-forgotten kick-ass gem from 1980:

“I just want wanna be myself / I just wanna be myself / I just wanna be myself / Be myself / Be myself…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-q3ly1d-WGw

alice cooper 1980

song of the day – “Sometimes It Snows In April” | PRINCE AND THE REVOLUTION | 1986.

seawall sun star SIGNED

Taken at Sunrise on 9.10.2016 from Seawall (part of Acadia National Park), overlooking nearby Great Cranberry Island…

I love Maine.  Can’t help it.  Maine has been my home for all of my 50+ years.  Occasionally, I’ll get asked the question, “Do you think you’ll leave Maine?”  Sure, there have been times I’ve thought about it, and have applied for radio jobs outside of the state in several parts of the country, but it usually comes down to me not leaving because I love this State.  Plus, being born in Bar Harbor, I have this strong connection with the ocean.  I’ve gotten around to seeing half of the U.S. at one point or another over the past 30 years, and though I fell in love with places like Arizona, I couldn’t live there.  I need to be near the ocean.

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Kettle Cove, Cape Elizabeth, Maine, 2.24.2017 (photo courtesy of yours truly).

Nine years ago, I moved from Portland back to Winslow (about 20 miles north of Maine’s capital of Augusta, in Central Maine), where I’ve spent most of my life, and where I graduated from high school in 1985.  I moved back to help out my folks (my dad turns 75 this month, and my mom turns 70 in August).  They, in turn, have helped me out in innumerable ways, especially when I was unemployed for two years and temping for another two.

The ocean is technically about 40 miles from here, although if I head down to Portland and Cape Elizabeth, Maine, it’s more like 75 or 80.  And while the ocean is certainly within reach, I don’t get to visit it as much as I’d like or need, especially now that I’m not making weekly trips to Portland to do the little radio show.

There is a body of water here in Waterville / Winslow – the Kennebec River – which, if I’m not mistaken, is the longest river in the State of Maine, running from Maine’s largest lake, Moosehead Lake, 170 miles all the way down to the Atlantic Ocean.  So, at the very least, I have a body of water to look at each day.

On April 1, 2017, Southern Maine was hammered with a foot of snow in a cruel April Fool’s Day weather joke.  I remember 30 years ago, when I was 20 years old and living in Winslow – on April Fool’s Day, 1987 – when another weather-related cruel joke happened on the area – the Flood of 1987.

flood1987

An aerial shot of the (then) Hathaway Shirt Factory in Waterville, Maine during the April Fool’s Day Flood of 1987.  This is now the Hathaway Creative Center, the building where I work during the week.  Usually the Kennebec River flows to the right of the building at far right.  Luckily, it hasn’t flooded like this in 30 years (knock on wood).

In the Spring of 1987, over six feet of melting snow and several inches of rain caused the Kennebec to flood its banks.  My parents’ house is in the busiest road in town, not far from the Kennebec River and another river, the Sebasticook, and a bridge connecting one part of Winslow to the other.

Well, the flood cut off access to the bridge to the other part of town, and also sadly took out the nearby Fort Halifax, which is a National Historic Landmark, as it is the oldest blockhouse in the country (dating to 1754).  22 original logs of the Fort were recovered, some of them found 40 miles away, prolly close to the ocean.  A year later, the Fort was rebuilt (incorporating new logs and the ones recovered).

fort halifax flood of 87

The original Fort Halifax in Winslow, Maine, right before it floated down the Kennebec River, April 1, 1987.

At the time, there was only one bridge connecting Winslow and Waterville, which prompted one Maine legislator, the late Donald V. Carter, to get another bridge built connecting the two locales, as another way to reach each destination, but also prolly as a precaution if something like this happened again, which, thankfully, hasn’t happened (yet).  The Maine State Representative from Winslow passed away in late 1990, I believe, about six years before the bridge he fought to have built was indeed built, and opened in June 1997 (and was subsequently named after him).

Even though I am a lifelong Mainer (or Maine-ah for those who live here), for the record, no, I don’t ski (yet; I wouldn’t mind trying cross-country skiing), and no, I don’t eat lobster (it’s too much of a pain in the ass, and the lobster meat is hard for me to chew).  OMG NO!  Say it isn’t so!  Someone once asked me years ago, “How can you call yourself a Mainer and not ski and not eat lobster?!”  Well, I’m not sure how I explained it back then, but I’m betting “Don’t have a cow, I’m not the only one.  Get over it” would be a somewhat appropriate response now.

And, as much as I love Maine (though not always its politics or political leaders – much like America right now, Maine is a divided state politically – and the fact that more movies aren’t made here that should be), I’m not a fan of Winter.  Never have been, save for maybe my youth when I didn’t have to give a shit about car accidents and below zero temps and falling on the ice and shoveling and injurying myself while shoveling.  A couple of years ago, or as I called it, “The Winter That Wouldn’t End” (where it snowed for six consecutive months in a row), it did snow in April.  I think I recall it snowing in May once.  And I’m betting folks in Northern Maine have seen snow in the Summertime.

Today, for the second time in four days, it’s snowing in April.  And, in a roundabout way (and then some), it brings me to today’s “song of the day,” “Sometimes It Snows In April” by Prince And The Revolution.

I actually thought of Prince and this song on April 1, 2017, when it was snowing outside my window here in Central Maine.  Hard to believe that we’re coming up on the one year anniversary of Prince’s tragic and surprising passing at the age of 57, happening on April 21.

Under the Cherry Moon release poster

As I believe I mentioned here in the bloggy thing last year, I don’t know how this song escaped me for 30 years (it is the nearly 7-minute-long closing track on PARADE, the soundtrack for Prince’s film, UNDER THE CHERRY MOON). 

On Tuesday, April 26, 2016, a few nights after Prince passed away, I had dozed off, and woke up to the TV on with THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON.  An R&B recording artist by the name of D’Angelo (along with backup singers that included SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE alum, Maya Rudolph), was performing a piano version of the song.

I was familiar with D’Angelo, but didn’t really know anything about his music.  But, this song woke me up from a deep sleep that night.  It kinda reminded me of how I found out about the loss of David Bowie, point of fact.  The song was beautiful, and I wondered if somehow it was related to Prince (they were performing it against a purple backdrop).  Well, near the end of the song, when I heard the lyric, “I often dream of Heaven and I know Prince is there,” I knew.  And I realized I needed to find out more about this song.

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D’Angelo, left, on THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON, 4.26.2016. On the right is Princess, featuring Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum.

For Prince’s second film, the black-and-white UNDER THE CHERRY MOON (which he also directed), he plays a gigolo by the name of Christopher Tracy.  Christopher and his brother, Tricky (played by Jerome Benton of The Time), swindle money out of these wealthy French women, which becomes a problem with Christopher falls in love with one of them (the character of Mary Sharon, played by future Academy Award nominee, Kristin Scott Thomas).  Mary Sharon is due to inherit $50 million dollars on her 21st birthday, which is a huge concern for her father (played by Steven Berkoff, best known for his villainous roles in 1984’s BEVERLY HILLS COP and 1985’s RAMBO II).  Christopher and Tricky end up vying for Mary Sharon’s love and affection and then $ome.parade

The PARADE album was much more successful than the film, being hailed as one of the best albums of 1986 by THE VILLAGE VOICE and NME (New Music Express), was certified Platinum here in the U.S., and sold over two million copies worldwide.

UNDER THE CHERRY MOON’s protagonist character of Christopher Tracy is featured on the opening and closing songs on PARADE – “Christopher Tracy’s Parade” and “Sometimes It Snows In April,” respectively.

The original 1986 version of “Sometimes It Snows In April” is a tender, gorgeous acoustic collaboration between the song’s writers, Prince and Wendy & Lisa.  Once I heard the D’Angelo version on THE TONIGHT SHOW, it didn’t take me long to pick up the digital version of the original. 

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Wendy Melvoin, Prince and Lisa Coleman, 1986.

I don’t know why, but for days after Prince’s death, I couldn’t cry.  Here is a recording artist who had meant so much to me for more than 35 years (and still does), and yet I couldn’t properly grieve for whatever reason.  Well, coming back from Portland (or some other destination South of Winslow), I was listening to  my special tribute mix to Prince in shuffle mode on my iPod, and “Sometimes It Snows In April” finally made its first appearance.  And it was the song that finally got me.  Like D’Angelo did on THE TONIGHT SHOW, it’s hard not to switch the lyrics of this beautiful, heartbreaking gem from Tracy’s name to Prince’s:

“I used 2 cry 4 [Prince] because I wanted to see him again / But sometimes sometimes life ain’t always the way… Sometimes it snows in April / Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad / Sometimes I wish life was never ending / And all good things, they say, never last…”

“I often dream of Heaven and know that [Prince] is there / I know that he has found another friend / Maybe he’s found the answer 2 all the April snow / Maybe one day I’ll see my [Prince] again…”

prince piano

Prince at the piano, 1986.

I don’t think I’ll never think of April the same way again, because it’ll always remind me of when Prince left this universe for another, and every time it snows here in April (and it will again, but hopefully not this year!), you can bet I’ll think of this song…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCojedYfGZo

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song of the day – “Reach” | MARTINI RANCH | 1988.

On Saturday, February 25, 2017, we lost another great actor too soon – the incredibly-talented Bill Paxton, who died from a post-surgical stroke following heart surgery.  The Fort Worth, Texas native was just 61. 

Bill Paxton was a veteran actor, with an incredible resume that spanned four decades.  Though he apparently was in the 1981 Bill Murray gem, STRIPES (as a soldier) I don’t remember Bill in that movie.  I’ll look for him next time though.  His first big movies were prolly THE TERMINATOR and STREETS OF FIRE, both from 1984. 

The first movie I remember Bill in, however, was the 1985 John Hughes film, WEIRD SCIENCE.  It’s my least favorite of John’s 80s teen films, but as the asshole brother, Chet, Bill Paxton played the role so brilliantly.  Seriously, not many people could convincingly pull off playing a giant turd.  And I mean that in the highest regard.  I loved him in that role.

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From 1985’s WEIRD SCIENCE, Bill with Anthony Michael Hall.

I loved Bill in many other roles, too, including films like TOMBSTONE, TRUE LIES, TWISTER, TITANIC, ALIENS (for which he won a Saturn Award) and APOLLO 13 (for which he won a Screen Actors Guild Award).  He also had a TV resume that spanned four decades as well, including roles on MIAMI VICE, TALES FROM THE CRYPT, FRASIER, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D., and his HBO series, BIG LOVE, for which he was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards.  He was also a main character in the brand-new TV reboot of the 2001 film, TRAINING DAY.  All of the 13 episodes had been completed before his death, and just wrapped shooting in December 2016.

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In 1976, Bill Paxton met Seymour Stein, co-founder of my favorite record label, Sire Records (and future Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer and Vice President of Warner Bros. Records).  They became friends, and Seymour took Bill to see acts on his roster at the time, like The Ramones and Talking Heads.  Can you imagine?  Hot damn.  Seymour was also encouraging with Bill and his acting work.  More on Bill’s connection with Sire Records in a bit.fish-heads

What many folks don’t know about Bill Paxton, is that, when he wasn’t acting, he was involved with music.  Before his big break in film and TV, Bill directed a music video in 1980 for a popular 1978 novelty song that had a lot of love on the Dr. Demento show over the years – “Fish Heads” by Barnes & Barnes.

Bill met up with the fictional twin brothers Art and Artie Barnes (actor Bill Mumy of LOST IN SPACE and singer / songwriter / musician Robert Haimer), and volunteered to direct the $2,000 video.  He also starred in the video, along with Dr. Demento himself, who had a cameo as a bum.  The video for “Fish Heads” aired on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE on December 6, 1980 (eight months before MTV), and the following week.

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Bill Paxton in 1980.

Bill Paxton’s video filmography didn’t stop there.  He also appeared as a Nazi officer in Pat Benatar’s “Shadows Of The Night” video in 1982, and New Order’s “Touched By The Hand Of God” video in 1987.  Bill was in a couple more videos in the 80s, but they were a bit more personal.

In 1982, vocalist and guitarist Andrew Todd Rosenthal thought up the idea for a band whose sound (a sorta different twist on New Wave) ended up being a precursor for late-80s Devo.  That band was called Martini Ranch.

martini-ranch-press

The idea behind the name Martini Ranch?  According to the liner notes of 1988’s Sire compilation, JUST SAY YO: VOLUME II OF JUST SAY YES, the answer to the “philosophical query” is that Martini Ranch is “a neither dry nor dusty concoction that cheerfully assimilates all media forms in order to regurgitate a colorful, satirical audio-visual mélange of Life As We Know It.  Got that, Martini fans?  Then drink up.”

Between 1986 and 1988, Andrew, Bill and keyboardist Robert O’Hearn – as Martini Ranch – released, on Sire Records, two 12” singles and a full-length album, HOLY COW.  Speaking of Devo, from that lone Martini Ranch album, the first single – “How Can The Laboring Man Find Time For Self-Culture?” – was produced and engineered Devo’s Bob 2 – Bob Casale, Jr. (who we sadly lost in February 2014), and featured Devo drummer Alan Myers (who we also sadly lost in June 2013), and Devo vocalist Mark Mothersbaugh on keyboards.

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Also making appearances on this interestingly quirky album were Cindy Wilson of The B-52’s, famed New Age artist and film composer Mark Isham, actor Bud Cort (of HAROLD AND MAUDE), and actor Judge Reinhold (of FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, the BEVERLY HILLS COP trilogy and more).

holy-cow

Judge Reinhold’s appearance on HOLY COW consisted of a sole credit – as the whistler on the album’s second single (and today’s “song of the day”), “Reach.”  The song had a kind of cowboy-meets-New Wave sound (Boys Don’t Cry’s “I Wanna Be A Cowboy” comes pretty close), with a hint of Dead Or Alive.

For a song that was mostly just a fun College Radio hit, Martini Ranch picked up a pretty impressive director for the video of “Reach” – James Cameron.

reach

Long before James Cameron became an Academy Award winner and “King of the world!” with two of the top three domestic films of all-time (AVATAR, No. 2 and TITANIC, No. 3, behind 2015’s STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS), he was an up-and-coming Sci-Fi writer-director, having directed and written – by 1988 – THE TERMINATOR and ALIENS. 

Bill Paxton had appeared in both of those films (and would also appear in James Cameron’s TRUE LIES and TITANIC), and I’m betting his friend James directed the seven-and-a-half-minute cowboy-themed video for “Ranch” as a favor for Bill. 

reach-backThe number of cameos in this video is impressive, including James’ future third wife (of five), Kathryn Bigelow, who not only directed the New Order video for “Touched By The Hand Of God,” but would become (to date) the first female director (finally!) to win an Academy Award for Best Director (for 2009’s THE HURT LOCKER).

Cameos in the “Reach” video also included ALIENS and TERMINATOR star Lance Henriksen, actor Paul Reiser, the aforementioned Judge Reinhold and Bud Cort, and actor Adrian Pasdar (who I remember most for the role of Nathan Petrelli of the NBC series, HEROES).

sireboxThe video for “Reach” appears in the brilliant 2005 Rhino / Sire 3-CD/1-DVD box set, JUST SAY SIRE: THE SIRE RECORDS STORY, which features 61 classic Sire gems spanning many genres and decades, and a DVD (which includes “Reach”), featuring 20 videos like M’s “Pop Muzik,” The Ramones’ “Rock ’N’ Roll High School,” “Let’s Go To Bed” by The Cure, “Like A Prayer” by Madonna, “Enjoy The Silence” by Depeche Mode and Talking Heads’ “Once In A Lifetime.”

In the liner notes for that box set, Bill wrote about Seymour in a way anyone who knew Bill or loved his work would prolly write about Bill:

“As anyone who has ever pursued a recording, theatre, or film career knows, it can be a very discouraging road.  I think I speak for all of the artists who have been represented by and associated with Seymour over the years, in so much as when he believes in someone’s talent, he believes all the way.  He will not be swayed by pressure or popular opinion.  I believe that this positive, unflagging support is what has driven many of us to succeed when we might have lost faith.  His great talent comes from a deep, deep love of what he does – finding and nurturing talent.”

Bill Paxton was definitely a great talent, and had a deep, deep love for what he did.  And I’ll miss that.  And I’ll miss Bill.  R.I.P. Bill, and many, many thanks…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkz0Lx6VyxA

Bill Paxton

Bill Paxton from 2015…

song of the day – “President Gas” | THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS | 1982.

It’s January 20, 2017 – Inauguration Day here in the U.S. – and just hours away now from the Inauguration of the 45th President of the United States – Donald J. Trump. 

I know friends and family members who voted for Trump, looking for change in American politics and a change for America from a non (or not yet) politician, but I just can’t wrap my arms around the whole thing – any of it.  I want to have faith and believe that everything will be alright, and that he’ll even surprise me and things will be better than I ever expected, but I’m not there.  I can’t even refer to him as President Trump.  I just can’t do it. 

There’s too much at risk, too much at stake, too many things to be concerned about, most of all the future of my family and friends.  Maybe I’m overreacting, maybe I should just give him a chance, but I’m not there.  In the months leading up to the election and since, I’ve also been concerned for free speech, community radio, the LBGTQ community, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, those with insurance losing insurance (though I don’t think people should be penalized for not having it or not wanting it or needing it), an alliance with Russia and potential war with whoever for whatever.

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In Prince’s brilliant 2015 song, “Baltimore,” mostly about the wrongful death of the 25-year-old Black American man, Freddie Gray, Prince sings, “Peace is more than the absence of war,” a quote I believe was lovingly paraphrased from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Peace is not merely the absence of war, but the presence of justice, of law, of order – in short, of government.”

It was a change in government and a new president (the 40th U.S. President, inaugurated in 1981, and one of Donald Trump’s heroes, Ronald Reagan) that inspired today’s “song of the day” – “President Gas” by The Psychedelic Furs. 

forever-now-uk

The original U.K. cover of FOREVER NOW.

“President Gas” was the opening song off of the P-Furs third studio album, FOREVER NOW (produced by Todd Rundgren).  The album was recorded in 1982, and released in September of that year.  It was certified Gold here in America.

Written specifically with Ronald Reagan in mind (“He comes in from the left sometimes / He comes in from the right / It’s so heavily advertised that he wants you and I / It’s a real cowboy set, electric company / Every day is happy days / It’s hell without the sin…”), “President Gas” compliments its smart lyrics with the ballsy use of a cello (courtesy of Ann Sheldon) in a New Wave song.

forever-now-us

When Columbia Records changed the cover art for the U.S. release of FOREVER NOW (seen here), Richard Butler apparently burst into tears from disappointment.

Interesting how it’s been nearly 35 years after the song’s release, and people are thinking about this song again (because of Donald Trump), almost, if not, exactly in the way The Furs wrote the song about Ronald Reagan. 

I had read somewhere on an Interweb chat board about “President Gas” that The Furs’ Richard Butler was “pointing out that everyone who gets to the top in a political system is going to be someone whose only value is his ability to get to the top.  Reagan was horrible, but whoever replaced him in 1984 would be horrible too.” 

p-furs

This was reminiscent (in a way) of this past Presidential election here in America, with two (mostly) unpopular candidates in a very ugly campaign.  Hillary Clinton wasn’t my first choice, but I voted for Hillary because (1) I didn’t want Trump in there, and (2) I believed she would take this country in a smart, wonderful direction.  More than half of the country thought that too, as she won the popular vote.  But, for the second time in five elections, the popular vote was not, well, popular enough…

I’m wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’ that everything will be alright for everyone I care about and the country I love during the next four years, and that history (in this case, “President Gas”) doesn’t repeat itself…

“Don’t cry, don’t do anything / No lies, back in the government / No tears, party time is here again / President Gas is up for president…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WNeYFSdjS8

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this is not america.

I feel numb.  No, I’m not quoting the 1993 U2 song “Numb,” although the lyric is the same.  I am still feeling numb about the end result of the 2016 presidential election here in America.  On Tuesday, November 8, 2016 – Election Day here in the U.S. – I used the white noise of the election coverage to help me sleep.  It was early in the election, and many of the states’ results hadn’t come in.  And, for about six hours, I slept pretty well.  Then, at about 2:45am Eastern time, I woke up to Donald Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, speaking.  And right below was the heartbreaking caption, “Clinton Calls Trump To Concede Election.”  After about six hours of kick-ass sleep, I woke up to a fucking nightmare.

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Then Donald Trump came out and spoke to everyone about the victory, and congratulated Hillary Clinton and her family on a “very, very hard-fought campaign” and how “we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service for our country.  I mean that very sincerely.”  And, at that moment, Donald Trump did sound sincere, the most even remotely sincere I’ve ever heard him sound throughout this whole show.  It was all bullshit, and reminded me of what an old girlfriend once said to me many years ago about an old boyfriend of hers, and how he was “sincere about his insincerities.”  If you can understand that sentiment, then you’re smarter than I am.

hillary-2016I was perusing through Facebook the night of the election, to see how everyone was feeling, and the momentum for Hillary Clinton to win the Presidency was evident.  My dear friend Shawn in NYC wrote, “Eight years ago I was sitting on the couch watching the election results come in holding my then one-month old son.  Tonight my eight-year-old son is sitting next to me watching the election results come in.  I don’t care what your political leanings are.  My son was born into a world where an African-American man was and a woman might become president of the United States.  I think that’s f*cking awesome.”

I’ve been a longtime Democrat, and I can honestly say that Hillary was not my first choice as President this time around, though she was in 2008.  But there was no way on God’s Green Earth I would even consider voting for Donald Trump.  I can also honestly say that, with the barrage of hate Donald Trump was spewing throughout the entire campaign – against Hillary and President Bill Clinton, against women, against the LBGTQ community, against President Obama, against minorities and even against people in his own party – I didn’t think he had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting elected. 

Just hours after waking up to the nightmare of Donald Trump winning the electoral vote, I had to head to work, where one work neighbor didn’t even like Trump but voted for him because she didn’t want Hillary in there, and another work neighbor who was crying that afternoon because Trump won and she was scared.  Broke my heart.  And it doesn’t stop there.  I have friends, many friends spanning the country who are crying and upset and worried about losing their heath insurance, fearing for what’s going to happen to their gay friends and the lives they’ve made with their partners and spouses, and the status and safety of people who call America their home but wasn’t always their home.  I have all of those concerns too. 

After the election results, in a Facebook post, my friend Shawn brilliantly said, “I think a lot of people who voted for Trump are going to realize (hopefully sooner than later) that they’ve been sold a bill of goods.  Hillary will not be locked up; there will be no wall between the US and Mexico; Muslims will not be deported; there is going to be no mass influx of jobs; no one is going to be a millionaire as a result of his presidency because Trump either can’t or never had any intention of delivering on any of these things, and when that happens things are going to get very ugly because there’s no putting that genie back in the bottle now. 

“Remember a few years after the Iraq War started and dead soldiers started coming home by the hundreds?  All of sudden those very same people who were all for invading Iraq suddenly got buyer’s remorse.  I have a feeling that many of those same folks voted for Donald today.  Trump was the hand grenade they lobbed at Washington hoping to ‘shake things up.’  Unfortunately, that grenade’s a dud.”

For the second time in five elections, the (incredibly outdated) Electoral College votes have outweighed the popular vote, OR (if you prefer), for the second time in five elections, the candidate people have voted for the most is NOT the candidate that got elected…

That Wednesday morning, I told my dear and incredibly talented friend, Hope, that I was having a hard time concentrating and getting through the day.  She said some really kind things that I needed to hear that day (we’re both card-carrying members of the Mutual Appreciation Society). 

You know, I’ve never really considered myself as a fighter, and contrary to what I’m writing here in this blog post, I try to be as apolitical as I can, but Hope said to me, “You’re a fighter now, as much as you deny being political.  We all fight in our own way.  You finally realize that you matter.  And now that you know you can be on your path, fight the good fight in your way and be true to you.  PS it helps if you get an awesome song in your head.  Whenever your coworkers gloat about America’s ‘victory’ [they thankfully didn’t], just start mentally singing ‘Fight The Power.’  Or similar.”

And, for the rest of the day, I did think about select “Fight” songs in addition to the Public Enemy gem, including “(You’ve Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” by those awesome Beastie Boys,  Ben Folds’ “Still Fighting It,” “Come Out Fighting” by Easterhouse, “Fighting Spirit” by Madonna (a bonus track from her brilliant 2005 album, CONFESSIONS ON A DANCE FLOOR), and Pat Benatar’s “Fight It Out” (from her 1982 album, GET NERVOUS).  Actually had that one on my mind a lot that day.  (“You gotta fight it out with your heart / You got to fight it, though it tears you apart / You got to fight it out, my friend / You got to do it for yourself / You got to say when…”)

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Honey, we’re already there…

About the post-election “fight,” Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (who remains on my short list to run for President) said, “You can either lie down, you can whimper, you can pull up in a ball, you can decide to move to Canada, or you can stand your ground and fight back.”  That’s damn right.

this-is-not-americaOne of the things that bothered me most about Trump’s victory speech and beyond was the sudden call for unity by Donald Trump, when over the course of the past year and a half, he disparaged several groups of people.  How can you suddenly have people unite after something like that?!  To quote the title of the haunting and surprise 1985 David Bowie / Pat Metheny Top 40 hit, “This is NOT America.  The States are no longer United.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen the country so divided politically as it is right now.  I get it, President Obama and other leaders around the globe and here want to make peace and have a smooth transition between Presidents.  But, I’m here to tell you, it’s something else.  And it’s not going to be smooth for half of this country. 

And this sentiment was expressed greatly on Facebook the day after the election.  That Wednesday, Hope posted, “I’ve been reading posts this morning from people I know who voted for Trump.  ‘Let’s put differences aside.  Let’s stop harassing each other for having different political views.  Let’s all be Americans together.’  Fuck that.”

Can I get an Amen?

AMEN!

My friend Shawn in NYC added, “I am so tired of hearing this morning from people who have done nothing but divide for the past 8 years talk about the divisiveness in America and how it is time to come together and heal and unite.  Fuck that shit.”

Can I get another Amen?

AMEN!

I’m not sure why, but I waited until today to watch Hillary Clinton’s moving concession speech from Wednesday, November 9th.  One of my other co-workers is really taking this election result hard, and he recommended I watch the speech.  So, maybe I wanted to wait to share this post with you until after I watched a gracious Hillary Clinton be Presidential, even if the Electoral College said otherwise.

Here are parts of the speech I wanted to share and incorporate into this blog post:

“I know how disappointed you feel, because I feel it too.  And so do tens of millions of Americans who invested their hopes and dreams in this effort.  This is painful, and it will be for a long time.  But I want you to remember this.

“Our campaign was never about one person, or even one election.  It was about the country we love and about building an America that is hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted.  We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought.  But I still believe in America, and I always will.  And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future.  Donald Trump is going to be our president.  We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power.

“We don’t just respect that.  We cherish it.  It also enshrines other things: the rule of law; the principle we are all equal in rights and dignity; freedom of worship and expression.  We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them.

“Let me add: Our constitutional democracy demands our participation, not just every four years, but all the time.  So let’s do all we can to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear.  Making our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top, protecting our country and protecting our planet.

“And breaking down all the barriers that hold any American back from achieving their dreams.  We spent a year and a half bringing together millions of people from every corner of our country to say with one voice that we believe that the American dream is big enough for everyone.

“For people of all races, and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people, and people with disabilities.  For everyone…

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“This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.  It is, it is worth it.  And so we need — we need you to keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives…

“I count my blessings every single day that I am an American, and I still believe, as deeply as I ever have, that if we stand together and work together with respect for our differences, strengthen our convictions, and love for this nation, our best days are still ahead of us.

“Because, you know, I believe we are stronger together and we will go forward together.  And you should never, ever regret fighting for that.  You know, scripture tells us, let us not grow weary of doing good, for in good season we shall reap, if we do not lost heart.  My friends, let us have faith in each other, let us not grow weary, let us not lose heart, for there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do…”

Last night on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE (11.12.2016), Kate McKinnon, who did a tremendous job impersonating Hillary Clinton during the Presidential campaign, sang (as Hillary Clinton) an incredible version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at the beginning of the show.  Afterwards, she said, “I’m not giving up.  And neither should you.”  That’s Goddamn right.

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Apart from the comments by my dear friends Hope (thank you!) and Shawn (thank you!), by Kate McKinnon of SNL and from Secretary Clinton’s speech, these thoughts are all my own.  I am friends with many folks who voted for Donald Trump, and I am friends with many (like me) who voted for Hillary Clinton.  I put up a simple post about the election on Facebook at 3:25 that Wednesday morning, and I didn’t expect the response(s) I got.  I even had a couple of longtime friends battling it out with each other well after I hid the post from my timeline.  I don’t like to see my friends going at each other about anything, let alone politics.  Politics are not worth losing a friend over.  Just sayin’. 

In an ongoing effort by many online to break the Internet with love, the next several posts will be dedicated to some songs from 1979 through 1989 that are universally loved to this day.  So far, I’ve got songs by Cyndi Lauper, The Knack, Simple Minds, The Clash and David Bowie on the list.  If you know of an 80s song that you believe is universally loved still, you let me know.  I’ll add it to the ever-growing list, with my thanks.

And though I’m wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’ that everything will turn out alright, for right now, I just can’t see it, and for right now, I’m still feeling numb.  But, I’m not giving up.  And neither should you…

I’m your Benevolent 80s Overlord, Ron Raymond, Jr., and I approved this blog post…

#BreakTheInternetWithLove

#LoveWillAlwaysTrumpHate

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