Every Time I Think of You

Lately, I’ve thought a few times about the band The Babys, which began forming in London, England in 1973, though they weren’t active until 1975. One of the guys in my high school group of friends had at least one of their records and is the only person I’ve ever known who owned any of their music. 

The band made hits with songs like “Head First” and today’s selection, “Every Time I Think of You,” both of which came from the album, Head First.

Of the band name and odd spelling, lead singer John Waite said in an interview with Hit Parader magazine, “The name was meant to be a joke. We took the name simply because the record companies wouldn’t listen to any bands they thought were rock & roll. I mean, they wanted sure-fire teen bands, pre-teen bands. We couldn’t get anybody down to hear us to get a record deal, so we called ourselves The Babys. We thought we’d keep the name just for two weeks. Then, the word got around in London that there was a band playing rock & roll called The Babys and it seemed so off the wall, so completely crazy, that it was worth taking a shot with. It really appealed to everyone’s sense of humour.”

The band broke up in 1981, but reformed with a different lineup in 2013 and remains active. Original members went on to work with Styx, Journey, Humble Pie, Rod Stewart’s band, and Air Supply.

Today’s selection always struck me as a hopeful love ballad when long-term committed relationships seemed hard to come by. But I have good memories of it when I hear it, as I suppose it spoke to a sense of hope in me.

The song was released as a single in 1979 with “Head First” as the B-side.  

“Every time I think of you it always turns out good
Every time I’ve held you I thought you understood
People say a love like ours will surely pass
But I know a love like ours will last and last”

(from “Every Time I Think of You,” by Jack Conrad, Ray Kennedy)

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the studio track from The Babys’ Official YouTube channel:

And, an unofficial video of the band performing on TV’s The Midnight Special, a Saturday night program created and produced by Burt Sugarman. The show featured all the big bands, from 1973 to 1981. I remember watching the series a lot.

Celeste

Tonight I’m revisiting the 2020 Brian and Roger Eno album, Mixing Colours. The album has been on my mind again lately, and later today, as I travelled through the various aspects of the day. (Please see my previous thoughts about the album, Brian Eno and his musical roots, in my posts on the pieces “Ultramarine” and “Blonde.”)

Today has been a very busy, full day with an important meeting in the morning, errands and a quick lunch, then caring for our grandson while his parents took on some commitments and errands. Then Sweety and I were grocery shopping, and home to finish making a birthday dinner that I started last night for our youngest lad, whose birthday we’re finally getting to be together to celebrate tomorrow. After that it was dinner and then a wonderful and soulful Zoom call with some men I know from here and away.

Brian Eno was also a participant in a recent Salon London talk on the book The Good Ancestor, with author Roman Krzarnic, along with Kate Raworth, an economist (and the author’s wife). The talk was worthwhile and relevant, and relates to some of the things we men were discussing on our Zoom call tonight. Unfortunately, Eno was having connection problems so his comments couldn’t be made out much of the time; I was looking forward to hearing his wisdom on the topic. Nonetheless, I’m intrigued by the premise of the book and its call for long-term thinking.

Tonight, an ambient piece like “Celeste” seems to fit the mood and the need for a bit of stillness after much busy-ness in the day (all of it good) Celeste is Spanish for turquoise blue, which the label Deutsche Grammophon calls an inference to the album title.

Tonight’s piece has soothing melodies, along with more complex passages that seem perfect for the day, especially the interaction with the youngest of us, and talking with others about our later years and memories of youthfulness and the things we’ve all learned on our long journeys so far. I find there’s contemplation, wonder and hope in the piece, mirroring life; it’s pleasing to listen to.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official video for the song from Deutsche Grammophon’s YouTube channel; like some others on the album, it appears to be filmed from the vantage point of a train window. There’s a faint ground fog that adds a little magic to the beauty.

What the World Needs Now Is Love

After the last two days’ posts, I gravitated toward posting something by Burt Bacharach today. First, it was a track from Painted from Memory, his 1998 collaboration with Elvis Costello (which Sweety and I also listened to with our Brightman/Stewart/Lauper friends… we have been very tight with them for years, and after the husband’s passing remain close, and, heck, back in the day, we even had our own room in their farmhouse!). Some of Bacharach’s older works like his co-composition “That’s What Friends Are For,” famously covered by Dionne Warwicke, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder and Elton John as a benefit for the American Foundation for AIDS Research, also came to mind. All good music, though none spoke to me in the way I was seeking today, like “What the World Needs Now Is Love” has.

Burt Bacharach and Hal David co-wrote today’s selection, in 1965. Jackie DeShannon first recorded it. Dionne Warwicke recorded the song in 1966 (after, apparently, initially rejecting it), and re-recorded it in 2019 for her album, She’s Back. The video for that version is beautiful and relevant and is featured today.

“What the World Needs Now Is Love” is a song for our times, and for all time. In 1971, American disc jockey Tom Clay created a version of the song mixed with various elements: a child being asked the meaning of segregation, bigotry, hatred and prejudice, then Vietnam War sound bytes, and excerpts from speeches by John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy, and extracts of coverage of the Kennedy and Luther assassinations and funerals. When thinking about Bacharach and Warwicke songs, my mind kept taking me back to a tune of Warwicke’s with a child’s spoken word in it. I couldn’t recall it. But it found me anyway (in the Clay remix). 

Tonight, I sit wondering what video clips would appear in a remix created today, given all the hatred, bigotry, prejudice and (in effect) segregation of minorities, either by the recent targeting of Asians in the COVID-19 pandemic, or the ongoing, differential treatment of people from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) communities throughout the world. And, how disease, poverty, illness and death disproportionately affect those communities; a fact given lip-service or simply disregarded by society’s so-called leaders.

We really do just need love. Sweet Love. “What the world needs now is love, sweet love / It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of” (Hal David, lyricist) More simple, wise and meaningful words have not been written about our living world.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official video for Dionne Warwicke’s 2019 version of the song from her YouTube channel:

And, one non-official video/stills compilation to accompany the 1971 Clay remix. The events depicted, and the reactions of people (like the eulogizing, late former Senator Ted Kennedy at his assassinated brother Bobby’s funeral, a tragedy about which I remember watching coverage on TV at the time) are very moving. They should be a call to action for us all.

La Lune

Mid-October, 2000. We were months past the dreaded Y2K changeover from 1999 to 2000. I was into the second year of my first government job, taking on new tasks and roles, trying to earn permanent placement, which wouldn’t happen for nearly two more years, and not long before a new, enticing and permanent position came up in another organization. And while my former partner had lost her dad, and quite young, my family-of-origin was, so far, immune from that. Not for long.

Sweety and I, and a couple of friends — I’ve mentioned them before — would often watch/listen to Rod Stewart and Cyndi Lauper. The couple introduced us to Sarah Brightman’s music, something else we enjoyed together. So when the singer announced her world tour for the CD, La Luna, we bought tickets to see the October 17, 2000 show at the newly-built Xcel Energy Centre in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.

I still remember the drive down from Winnipeg, Canada to Minneapolis-St. Paul along the I-94 interstate highway. We sang along to Brightman albums and watched the autumn colours go by. In particular, I recall the beauty of vast, golden fields of feed corn. 

As I’ve mentioned before, the man in that couple of friends died three years ago. But on the day of the concert, he was in fine form. He spent hours trying to get in touch with Brightman’s management and crew, driven by the idea of sweet-talking someone into letting us into a backstage meet-up with Sarah. I don’t remember how he made contact, but he actually was speaking with someone on her crew, though alas, we never did get backstage. We laughed about the memory for years.

That evening, just before leaving our hotel for the show, I phoned my parents. My dad had been ill and was going through tests to determine what was wrong. They had gotten results that day, and while we’d agreed I wouldn’t call to find out while we were away, I was anxious to know. The diagnosis was not good, not horrific, but not what we were hoping for. (Options were later presented and accepted, and treatment proceeded. I visited Dad and Mum in November and I can still picture him at the end of our time together, smiling and waving as we said our farewells at the airport. That was the last time I saw him alive. Something about me knew to capture that moment in my deep memory. A little over two months after that, he was dead.)

I’d say I was in a state of mild shock during the concert. I truly enjoyed the show, but felt very emotional at times, weeping in the dark of he concert hall. Much of the music was evocative, and the concert had a somewhat dark and foreboding mood to it, or at least I found it that way.

“La Lune” is the first track to in concert and on the CD; as the show opener it builds slowly, and the synthesizer chords wrap around recordings of radio chatter from the Apollo moon-landing missions, the chatter reaching its peak with the famous Neil Armstrong quote,” That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The sung part of the piece is brief, so musically, there isn’t an awful lot happening in the song. You’d remember it if you were at a show on that tour, though. To me, it feels like it links last night’s experience of the Moon, memories of the 2000 show, and the timeless practice of humanity gazing up to the heavens in wonder. 

By the way, as mentioned in yesterday’s post, Sweety and I did drive south of the city last night to watch the rising of the Sturgeon Moon. We drove to La Barriere Park, where we stopped and walked to the bank of the La Salle River, a peaceful spot where we’ve sat before and watched the slow-moving current.

The La Salle River, looking north from a footbridge in La Barriere Park, Manitoba, Canada. Photo © Steve West.

As the Moon hadn’t risen yet, we drove a little further south where the road climbs onto a dike. The Moon appeared about an hour later than we’d expected; maybe the website was quoting the local times without correcting for Daylight Savings Time.

Last night was one of those rare occasions when it would have been good to have a proper camera; most times, the iPhone suffices, but it cannot capture distant objects in the same perspective with which we see them. (I found a web page with a photo that closely resembles what we saw last evening.)

Watching the Moon last night, we both remarked that we could see a face in it. Sweety wondered how our ancient ancestors would have received such a sight, and sitting in the quiet in the orange moon-glow, it was clear to us how insignificant, yet significant we all are in creation. It was a wonderful time to sit in silence and awe at the living universe and all those who have gone before us.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official audio for the song from Sarah Brightman’s YouTube channel:

Yellow Moon

Last night over Winnipeg, Canada, the Moon appeared big and yellow in the southeastern sky. A friend and neighbour had told us on Friday night, at an outdoor, socially-distanced dinner hosted by another couple of neighbour-friends, that it would appear like this, and so we all took note to watch the next night. 

On Saturday, I don’t think we noticed it while sharing pizza-and-movie night. (By the way, it was our usual Saturday routine of homemade pizza on whole wheat crust, this time with sautéed onions and garlic, fresh spinach, homemade sauce, and extra old and Havarti cheeses… Mmmmm, it was delicious! We usually have mushrooms and onions. Last week I sautéed lean ground pork, onions, garlic and added rosemary, then topped it off with some fresh tomato… that was amazing. )

Last night, we had the movie part of pizza-and-movie night as, by the time we were sitting down to Saturday’s pizza after spending a lot of time in the summer porch, we weren’t sure if we’d make it to the end of a movie. But we planned to watch it the next night. Instead we watched an episode of Grantchester, a series a friend of mine from the east coast has recommended. The we watched another. So we could have made it through the movie…

After confirming the title of the film (again, as we’d forgotten it after dinner on Friday), we watched it last night. I’d been out for a 43-kilometre ride in the morning. Sweety and I, along with the same Moon-advising friend and her partner, rode our bikes to Barn Hammer Brewing, a local establishment with a taproom and patio. We enjoyed their newest seasonal beer, Strawbrarian Milkshake IPA, which started pouring this week. 

The movie was The High Note, recommended by (yes, again) the same friend. The film is about a middle-aged, Black female singer and her white female assistant, a secretly aspiring record producer. It was entertaining, with some great music though some of the soundtrack was a bit pedestrian, and some of the plot was a little too predictable. Still, we enjoyed it a lot and appreciated the recommendation. It’s available for rent in the iTunes and Cineplex stores.

This afternoon I suggested to Sweety that we drive outside the city at nightfall to get a better view of the Sturgeon Moon, as it can still be viewed tonight. She thinks it’s a good idea, too. Date night.

When our friends were driving home the other night from watching the Moon after a day of swimming, biking and picnicking in Birds Hill Park north of the city, she text-messaged me the names of a few moon-themed songs for me to consider, after she saw the Sturgeon moonrise. Of the three songs, the only one I didn’t know was today’s selection (the other two were “Dancing in the Moonlight” and “Full Moon on the Rise”); since I didn’t know it, I wanted to share it with you.

How about some other titles… there are so many of them: “La Luna,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Harvest Moon,” “Moon Shadow,” “Blue Moon”… and many more. What’s your favourite moon-themed song? Do you howl when you hear it?

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s a video of a live performance of the song from the Neville Brothers’ VEVO/YouTube channel:

A Woman’s Face (Sonnet 20)

Canadian-American singer/songwriter and composer Rufus Wainwright is best known, at least by me, for his indie pop and rock music (and, of course, his cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” which appears on the soundtrack to the movie Shrek). In 2016, he released an album of compositions based on William Shakespeare’s sonnets, Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets

The collection features several well-known performers, including Helena Bonham Carter, Carrie Fisher, Martha Wainwright (his sister), and others. Australian lyric soprano Anna Prohaska sings a classical version of “A Woman’s Face (Sonnet 20).” Wainwright performs a reprise version of it, singing and playing piano with a backing band, and has also played it singing with piano.

“A woman’s face with Nature’s own hand painted
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;
A woman’s gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women’s fashion;
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue, all hues in his controlling,
Which steals men’s eyes and women’s souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created;
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she prick’d thee out for women’s pleasure,
Mine be thy love and thy love’s use their treasure.”

(“Sonnet 20,” by William Shakespeare)

There’s a belief that the poet is addressing the piece it to a young man, and Wainwright’s video of “A Woman’s Face – Reprise (Sonnet 20)” goes with that interpretation.

It’s a lovely piece, and I have enjoyed the three versions I’ve found, so I am sharing all of them today.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Since it’s classical Sunday, I’ll start with Anna Prohaska, soprano, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted on the album by Jayce Ogren and Susanna Stranders. This audio is from the Anna Prohaska YouTube (topic) channel

Plus, here is Wainwright’s solo piano/voice version of the piece, directed by Jonathan X:

And finally, Rufus Wainwright’s video for “A Woman’s Face – Reprise (Sonnet 20)”: 

Love Is Like Oxygen

The Sweet, a British glam rock band, was popular in the 1970s with such hits as “The Ballroom Blitz” (1973) and “Fox on the Run” (1975). I remember those playing at high school dances. And I think “The Ballroom Blitz” is also one of the songs often played at Manitoba social evenings (see this post, for an explanation of that type of event.) But the song I most remember them for, though I rarely heard it back then, is “Love Is Like Oxygen” (1978), the band’s last international success.

I remember the song being introduced to me by my first serious girlfriend, who was talking about this new hit one day while we were at work in McDonald’s. We weren’t still going together by this time, and I remember it feeling awkward and sad being around her, so the song had significance for me then. 

Later that year, I moved to a new job at Consumers Distributing, a discount warehouse store with a catalogue-order storefront and a big warehouse, which was where I mostly worked. I met a really good friend there, but he moved to Regina, Saskatchewan, where he still lives. He and I reconnected on LinkedIn more than 25 years later, and chatted about our time working and hanging out together. We had both hoped to get full-time work at Consumers, but it didn’t pan out, which was part of the reason he left, too. In 1979, I got a job with the railway (which I talked about in this post). I worked there for close to two decades, though I took three years off to stay home and parent my infant sons.

I still like the song as it exemplifies glam rock’s audaciousness in the sound and the performers’ appearance.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official promotional clip for the song from The Sweet’s YouTube channel. The video features the original band line-up. Three of the four have since died; guitarist Andy Scott is still active (and still has long hair).

And, the extended album version of the song.

No One

Today, we’re back to the band that was the subject of my first post the blog, back in January, “Heaven,” by The Psychedelic Furs. I initially thought I’d post another of their old singles, “Here Come Cowboys,” which has been another favourite and comes from the same album, 1984’s Mirror Moves. Maybe another time…

“Heaven” is still a favourite of mine, and the post about it rekindled one of my brothers’ (same one I was talking with and about yesterday) love for the song. He now visits the post on “Heaven,” along with a couple of others, every week when checking out my new content!

Then, I remembered that the band had planned a new studio album release for today, called Made of Rain. One reviewer calls it, “Arguably their strongest since Forever Now,” which was their third album, produced by Todd Rundgren (who I keep thinking about blogging on). Forever Now (1982) features the hit, “Love My Way.” 

So, it was a change in course to check out how they fare 38 years later. I’ve heard a few of the pre-release singles and am not sure how I feel about the album, though Richard Butler’s singing is strong as ever. I will sit with the album more… some collections like Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, which I really disliked at first, became a favourite after several listens. 

Today’s selection, “No One,” has a dark and brooding mood at its foundation, and the video underscores this. (The video includes lyrics, which will please at least one of my followers.)

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

And, happy Friday, everyone!

Here’s the official lyric video for the song from The Psychedelic Furs’ YouTube channel

Love Songs for Robots

Last night, the song “Love Songs for Robots,” by Montréal, Quebec band Robert Watson (led by a fellow named that), came into my mind as a possible song to write some thoughts on. I wrote down the title in my document of blog notes.

It’s an interesting song I first heard on CBC Radio 2 late-night radio, most likely on Laurie Brown’s former show, The Signal. The piece has puzzling lyrics that are also hard to discern with Watson’s singing style. If she heard it my late mum might say, “He’s mumbling!”

I think the song is about our obsession for electronic things, which is sometimes to the detriment of our human relationships.

“Breaking down
Your days are getting longer
There’s a yellow glass dragon who’s chasing you around
Sit your head on a silver jet stream while the smoke is rising over your thoughts and your dreams
Watch over, you watch and fall down
Your nuts and bolts are all over the ground
You get up, get up
You get up, you get up

Something’s leaking
It leaks from your eyes where all these tears past the problems
Stop wasting your words from around as you’re running out of thoughts as it burns, burning out
Watch as the flowers, thrones and winds spills close as it whispers away
You get up, you get up, get up
You get up

I will love you
And I will love you”

(“Love Songs for Robots,” by Patrick Watson, Robbie Kuster, Mischka Stein, Joe Grass)

The official video for the song has this synopsis from the producers: “Love Songs For Robots is our attempt to create the sort of film Martians might make for humans, if those Martians had only observed us from afar. The piece is inspired by the sculpture and ballet of the avant-garde artist Oskar Schlemmer, with choreography and dance by Mistaya Hemingway (La La La Human Steps).”

Meanwhile, this morning, I reached another milestone in my cycling, a 70-kilometre bike ride. After scarfing down a lot of food and cleaning up me and all my gear, I had a phone conversation with one of my brothers (the one I most recently talked about in my post about Jackson Browne’s “Lawyers in Love”). We talked for about an hour and a half, celebrating how each other is embracing retirement (or as his son says, “Living the shit out of your life.”). When we discussed what we’d be doing when we got off the phone, I said I would be sitting down to figure out what I’d be writing about today for the blog. I said I often have ideas, but wasn’t really sure today. (I hadn’t yet recalled the note from last night.) He said was going to be working on the stuff he’s so passionate about.

As I opened up my blog notes, I saw the note on this song, and read up on it, along with the lyrics. The line, presumably to a lover robot, “Your nuts and bolts are all over the ground…” resonated with me. On today’s cycling route, I encountered the typical, occasional roadside debris that we cyclists, in particular, have to be hyper-vigilant in spotting and safely avoiding. Over time, I saw a few more nails and bolts and scrap metal pieces than usual. Who knows where they come from, but I usually stop if it is safe to do so, go back, pick them up, put them in the garbage if there’s a bin nearby, or at least huck them out of the way into a ditch where they won’t harm rubber tires. 

It was an unusual ride as I encountered several people either in cars or on bikes that were not paying attention to their surroundings and were probably quite lucky not to have collided. At the same time, when I was stopped to take a photo of a hazard on the bike path to report it to the City, two fellows slowed down, seeing my bike was laid down and I was standing there, to ask me if I was okay. What a kind gesture of concern.

Then later, working on the computer, it suddenly started acting up, as machines do sometimes, often for no apparent reason. I couldn’t get connected to the Internet after an hour and a half of unplugging/plugging in, restarting, etc. Finally, I called Bell MTS for technical support, which led to me getting no solution, along with conflicting reports about service outages in the whole area around us. Meanwhile, I could join the hotspot on my phone (from a different service provider, Rogers, which I’m still connected to, hours later after I rejoined the post-in-progress.)

I wondered, “Oh no… did the Martians or the robots see me pick up those nails and bolts? Were those scrap bits left for some other robot, like a gift to a lover, or a friendly scavenger hunt? Did they get angry and cause the outage? Gee, is it all my fault?”

Then, just as I was writing the above paragraph, I heard a car pull up in front of our house. One of the car’s wheels was making an odd, flop-flop sound, and I noticed it was flat, almost off the rim. I walked out and called to the woman to ensure she knew there was a problem. She did.

Robots? Martians? Or, maybe… cyclists?

As I returned to my Internet and robot bewilderment, I saw that the woman was on the phone. Then she started pulling out the jack and tire wrench. I asked if she needed help. She enthusiastically said, yes, please, she hadn’t ever changed a tire and would watch me do it if that was okay.

If you’ve ever tried to change a car tire yourself, you know the crap gear any car from at least 1980 onwards comes with. It’s not fun. It’s rather brutal, actually. I explained the process as I did it and we had a great conversation. Then, almost all the way up, the jack collapsed. A neighbour joined us at this point and asked if the emergency brake was on. It wasn’t. My bad. He and I then tag-teamed, socially-distant, raised the jack again (the cheap thing it was) and changed the wheel. She was very grateful. We were winded. She was also glad to meet two neighbours. (Incidentally, changing my bike tires over last night from gravel to road was nothing like that amount of work!) 

Today is an odd day. So many random interactions, some good, some not so good but it is the good ones I will choose to remember. But still, no Internet, or TV service. The best reason for not having all of your services from one provider. Otherwise, you might not be reading this from me until, who knows… until the robots aren’t angry anymore, maybe.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official video for the song from the Domino Recording Company YouTube channel

And, a performance by the band for Paste Magazine. The version is kind of catchy, though the lyrics are even harder to catch than on the studio version (and some, the singer misses altogether), but I like it.

Fade into You

Mazzy Star, an alternative rock band from Santa Monica, California in the USA, is an act I keep stumbling across. Their single “Fade into You,” from the 1993 album So Tonight That I Might See plays often on KEXP Seattle, and it popped up in the YouTube suggestions when I was working on the post for the superb song, “On My Way Back Home” by Band of Horses. 

Today, I was on the BBC Sounds app looking over the playlist for this past Sunday’s edition of Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour (titled, “Let’s Have a Heated Debate”) when I saw the band had been featured by Garvey. The song he spun was “Rhymes of an Hour,” which I listened to on YouTube, but found it a bit plodding on first the hearing. It’s from their 1996 album, Among My Swan. Interestingly, they didn’t release another album until 17 years later, with Seasons of Your Day. I haven’t heard the most recent Finest Hour episode yet, as I only finished listening to the previous weekend’s instalment yesterday… last week was a busy one, with our anniversary and lots of visits, on Zoom and in-person-socially-distanced, and of course, plenty of cycling.

Mazzy Star was established in 1989 when some members of the former band Opal (whose music I’m sure I know some of, from somewhere) reformed into a new group. The band was also in the news in February of this year when guitarist David Roback died at age 61. That’s pretty sobering, knowing I’m less than a year from his age…

With all the times the group entered my consciousness, I figured that it was enough hinting from the universe, and decided to post the first song of theirs that I had ever heard.

I’d consider “Fade into You” a slow ballad, and I feel like there is the influence of Bob Dylan in the opening chords, tempo, percussion, Hope Sandoval’s vocal, and Roback’s guitar work; for me, the whole experience is heavenly and evokes Dylan’s sound, and the childhood memories that accompany it. (I’ll talk about some of those, another time.)

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official audio for the song from Mazzy Star’s YouTube channel

LA6

In March 2017, the last working month of my full-time working career, I happened to be browsing for new music when I came across Moby’s album, long ambients 1: calm. sleep. Of the collection, he said,

over the last couple of years i’ve been making really really really quiet music to listen to when i do yoga or sleep or meditate or panic. i ended up with 4 hours of music and have decided to give it away.

you can download it for free here: http://moby.com/la1/

it’s really quiet: no drums, no vocals, just very slow calm pretty chords and sounds and things for sleeping and yoga and etc. and feel free to share it or give it away or whatever, it’s not protected or anything, or at least it shouldn’t be.

thanks

moby

I’ll admit the skeptic in me said, “Free? How good could it be if he’s giving it away?” Then I felt a little shameful and self-critical of my reaction. I downloaded and played the music. It is very calming, as Moby claims. Much of it seems based on patterns of breath, or waves lapping ashore. There are elements I like in most of the pieces, but my favourite track is the one I’m featuring today, “LA6.” (Next, I’d say is LA1.) The chords of LA6 feel to me like sounds of calm hope. 

As it was late winter here, I wasn’t cycling to work, and never listened to music when walking to work (because of nature, and safety, etc. as it was very early in the morning and dark at that time of year). I tried listening to the album on the bus to work, but that loud environment isn’t conducive to appreciating ambient music. It’s sound that is best enjoyed sitting comfortably and just being or approaching calm or sleeping… I haven’t tried it in the latter space and am not sure it would be a fit, personally.

The free download is still available. I think it’s admirable that an artist in a position to do so would give away music, particularly for the much-needed therapeutic purpose for which he made it. Many musicians cannot afford to do that, as music is a challenging craft from an income-generating standpoint.

And it’s not lost on me that it is a gesture of soulful kindness and generosity in a world often devoid of such practices. So as someone who has benefitted from this music, I appreciate Moby’s gift to the world. Something he has added to, with the release of the sequel album long ambients two, which I only learned of today when looking up this piece after it came into my mind this morning, at the start of what has been very hectic but rich and blessed day.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official audio for the song from Moby’s YouTube channel

Rain in the Valley

Here’s a discovery I made this evening on America’s National Public Radio NPR.org, which features a song each day.

I’d never heard of the band The Steel Wheels before, but the song title caught my eye as we in Winnipeg, Canada continue to have high heat and humidity, but no significant rain in Manitoba’s portion of the Red River Valley in what seems like weeks. I watered the new lawn for a long time last evening, and a bit today. I enjoy the heat and will sure miss it when summer ends, but some rain would be good to moisten the parched ground.

“Rain in the Valley” showcases the four voices of the Americana folk-roots music group, from Virginia, USA. The NPR review describes the song, from their 2012 album Lay Down, Lay Low as “sparse and dense all at once…“ 

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official video for the song from The Steel Wheels’ YouTube channel

Concerto for Oboe d’amore, Movement No. 1: Allegro

All that celebrating yesterday… it was a beautiful anniversary day with Sweety, reminiscing over photos, memories and music shared between us, and with friends and family that connected with us through the day and today.

I shared our processional music yesterday here on the blog, so it made sense that today, I’d share the recessional music. Sweety and I both had a tough time remembering it… maybe because of the depth of emotion in the ceremony, by the end of it, we were a little oblivious to the music we joyously walked out to and, well, it has been 11 years…

Anyway, the wedding program offered an imprecise title of a piece by Johann Sebastian Bach, so I searched through many before finding what we believe was the movement and version played. How could we not know for sure?! There was no evidence in my Apple Music library either, which is strange. Maybe the music came straight from the heavens…

Anyway, with a reasonable level of confidence, I offer this piece: the first movement, the Allegro, from the Concerto for Oboe d’amore, BWV 1055R. There are not many shareable versions of this particular movement, and this one is played a touch faster than the version we think we used. But it works. It’s a joyful piece.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from a version played by Ironwood, an early music ensemble, featuring Diana Doherty, oboist.

In My Place

Sweety and I were married on a Saturday; it was July 25, 2009. It wasn’t quite as hot as today will be. It was a perfect, non-humid 25°C (77°F). 

We had a small wedding, which was initially going to be at the home of friends. As the date drew nearer, Sweety’s mom was having challenges with mobility. One day, we had the idea to ask the management of the seniors’ residence where her parents lived if they would consider hosting our wedding. They immediately said yes, and were excited to do it. The place has a beautiful dining room which, after the residents’ dinner time, was transformed into a chapel for our ceremony. Then while we were out on the patio for a champagne toast to us by Sweety’s dad, the staff replaced tables and chairs for our reception. Because of the facility’s needs and obligations, we had to be out by 11:00 pm, but that was fine. 

Photo of a wedding couple lighting candles.
Lighting candles at the beginning of our marriage ceremony.
The photo of my late dad brought him into the earthly presence of our gathering.

Some of the residents came into the “chapel” to watch us be married and later joined us to share champagne on the patio, making our evening even more special with the welcome they gave us in their home.

When Sweety’s mom became tired from all the festivities, she was escorted to their room so she could retire for the evening. We didn’t know then that we’d be saying goodbye to her forever, a short three months later. What a gift to have been able to share our day with her in a way that was comfortable, special and enjoyable for her.

One of my cousins from Liverpool, along with her husband and daughter, travelled to Canada for our wedding. We’d visited them the year before and said they should come to see Canada. She answered, “We’d come for a wedding.” So there it was then; challenge accepted. While here, they wanted to see the Rocky Mountains (which many Brits think is a “couple of hours’ drive” from Winnipeg as they are not used to the vastness of the geography we live in), so the honeymoon consisted of six of us in a van for over a week. It was so much fun. Another cousin had hoped to come with her family, too, but a health issue scuttled that plan. They did come seven years later and we all enjoyed an almost identical tour of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and a touch of British Columbia as in the original honeymoon tour of July and August, 2009.

In the months and weeks leading up to our wedding day, we worked on the various aspects of the ceremony. A dear friend of ours was an ordained minister, and she wrote and officiated a beautiful, very personal service. Our children all took part. And I made up a CD of “our songs” which we gave out to guests at the end of the evening. I’ve featured many of those on the blog. A friend designed our invitations, program, CD cover and stickers for the bottles of wine served at the reception.

Photo of a wine bottle with flowers in it. There is a sticker on the bottle that shows a drawing of a couple.
The design of our wedding greets us in this window at home every day.

When looking for a piece of music to use as a processional, I started searching for string quartet transcriptions of songs we liked, as there were few string orchestras doing versions of popular music at the time and we wanted something unique to open our ceremony. Well, didn’t I find a strings version of Coldplay’s “In My Place” — it was exactly what I was looking for! I remember how excited I was for Sweety to get home so I could tell her, and she was delighted, too. We listened to Coldplay a lot then, and had seen them in concert just over a month before the wedding. For our recessional music, we used the “Allegro from Concerto for Oboe d’amore,” by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Music has always been an essential part of our life; I talked in my post on Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” how I used that song as inspiration when writing to my sweety the night before we married. (Edit: Neither of us can remember our sleeping arrangement that night; I thought and originally posted that we were apart but Sweety says we were both home. We had a houseful of visitors at the time. But we were apart most of the day, and I did not see her or her unique and stunning wedding gown until our ceremony the next day. I only saw the sash while were were shopping for a matching tie for me.)

Our marriage, honeymoon, and our life together have all been a little unconventional, but always memorable and it is an abundant blessing, this marriage we celebrate today.

Reciting our vows during the marriage ceremony.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official audio for the song from the Vitamin String Quartet’s YouTube channel

And, here’s the official video of Coldplay performing the song which appears on their 2002 album, A Rush of Blood to the Head

Who Loves the Sun

Happy Friday, friends!

Who loves the sun? I do… though it was almost mostly absent for my 68-kilometre (42-mile) bike ride south of Winnipeg to Saint-Adolphe this morning. When I set out, the temperature was 21°/28°C humidex (69.8°/82.4°F) but was up to 27°/38°C humidex (80.6°/100.4°F) by the time I returned. I was wearing a recently-acquired Craft Coolmax base layer under my jersey. I bought it because it’s supposed to keep one cool during warm weather exercise, and it worked really well, as promised; the thin fabric was saturated and I was pretty comfortable.

It is too hot to be outside this afternoon, though; thank goodness for a cool home. This is the type of weather that can be dangerous for those living in homelessness or in places without refuge from the oppressive heat.

This morning, the cloudy sky looked like it could get stormy, but I was close enough to shelter if a weather watch or warning popped up on the Garmin bike computer. But nothing came. It was a great ride… and a moderate and helpful tailwind on the way home.

The Velvet Underground, who recorded today’s selection, was founded in 1964 by Lou Reed (composer of the song), John Cale, Angus MacLise and Sterling Morrison. I am not very familiar with the band; I only got to know Lou Reed’s music after he left the band and led a solo career, which he continued until he died in 2013.

One of my brothers, the one whose basement suite and parties I’ve mentioned before, introduced me to Reed’s songs.

The song “Who Loves the Sun,” from the band’s 1970 record, Loaded, played on last weekend’s “Getting Back to Normal-ish” episode of Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour on BBC 6 Music. For a while, I feared that the episode title indicated a return to the pre-COVID one-hour time slot… but so far, we’re still getting three delightful hours of Garvey. Brilliant.

“Who Loves the Sun” is a great summertime song, perfect for a hot day like today. Some feel the vocal sounds a bit like George Harrison; I don’t get that, though it does remind me a little of The Beatles’ “I’ll Follow the Sun.” 

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy. 

And enjoy your weekend! If you’re in Manitoba like me, stay cool… tomorrow will be another hot one.

Here’s the official audio for the song from The Velvet Underground YouTube (topic) channel

More Than a Feeling

September 1976. Like I told you in this post from early on, about the David Sylvian song “Orpheus,” I was working at McDonald’s and spending all my spare money on records. Music was my most reliable friend even back then, as it has been through all my life. It never let me down. It was always there for me. Still is.

“I looked out this morning and the sun was gone
Turned on some music to start my day
I lost myself in a familiar song
I closed my eyes and I slipped away”

“More Than a Feeling,” the opening song to Boston’s debut album is, in my opinion, one of the greatest classic rock songs of all time. Nestled in at the other end of the A-side of the record is the epic “Foreplay/Long Time” medley, with its magnificent guitar effects in the bridge between the two pieces and its driving beat and harmonies. 

Today I discovered, through the daily music digest by Canadian music broadcaster and blogger Alan Cross, the YouTube channel of musician, producer and teacher Rick Beato, who does a fantastic deconstruction of the song. (You’ll remember from my posts on Sharon Van Etten’s “Seventeen” and Wolf Alice’s “Don’t Delete the Kisses,” how I love it when someone over-analyzes music even more than I do; in those two cases, it was the band members as guests on the podcast Song Exploder. Hey, overthinking and over-analyzing music is part of my enjoyment of it.) 

The Beato episode about Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” is fascinating. He skillfully, like a surgeon, dissects the song and finds things about it we may not have noticed before. And just to think the song was recorded almost 45 years ago without most of the technology heavily relied upon in studios nowadays… heck, someone with an Apple computer and a few music-making programs at home almost has more tools at their disposal than bandleader Tom Scholz had. But, man, as Beato says, he thought of everything, and it’s all real… not cut-and-pasted. The whole song is double-tracked, meaning each part is played twice, identically, and the recordings overlaid in the mixing. Stunning! I really urge you to watch his video… I’ve been listening to this song for 44 years and heard new elements through him.

I was also playing this record a lot when with that first serious girlfriend, a relationship I mentioned in my post on David Bowie’s “A New Career in a New Town.”

“When I’m tired and thinking cold
I hide in my music, forget the day
And dream of a girl I used to know
I closed my eyes and she slipped away
She slipped away”

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official video for the song from Boston’s YouTube channel. The audio quality is weak but, remember, Sweety enjoys watching the performances…

And here’s the official audio from the studio version:

The Pushbike Song

It was only a matter of time before I featured a song on cycling, right? Well, today’s is my 200th post, so I thought, it’s about time.

Pedalling around the Internet and the iTunes Store, I found today’s selection. I don’t remember the song, which the British band Mungo Jerry released in 1970. But the group making sound effects with their voices reminded me of another song from that era, which I quickly found, called “In the Summertime,” by the same band.

Incidentally, the band’s name was inspired by the character Mungojerrie from the Poem “Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer,” from T.S. Eliot’s 1939 book, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. This book was, of course, the basis for the musical, Cats (more recently made into a film, though we haven’t seen it yet… the reviews were horrible, but I’m sure we’ll watch it sometime… because, curiosity… and, maybe our Perry Como the cat would enjoy it).

The Australian band The Mixtures covered both these songs on their 1971 record, In the Summertime. Wikipedia tells me The Mixtures’ versions received a lot of airplay as they were on a minor label during a time when there was a radio ban on playing British and Australian music released on big record labels.

I remember “In the Summertime” quite well and have memories of hearing it on a portable AM radio at the beach, similar to hearing “Summer in the City” a song I posted earlier this month. Here’s a video of Mungo Jerry playing “In the Summertime”… and check out the sideburns on lead singer Ray Dorset!

Do you remember or recognize either of these songs? And hear the similarities? I also feel like “In the Summertime” played on a TV commercial in the 1970s, but my mind might be making that up…

I’m not sure “The Pushbike Song” resonates much with my interest in cycling. But the title reminds me of my Liverpudlian cousin’s husband referring to his bike as a pushbike; I think that was the first I’d heard that term and found it slightly amusing, though the Scouse accent could be part of that!

Anyway, now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from the official Mungo Jerry YouTube channel:

Lawyers in Love

Today I thought of the Jackson Browne song, “Lawyers in Love,” from the 1983 album of the same name.

And whenever I think of it, I recall one of my brothers asking me what I thought about the keyboard part echoing Browne’s “love call” in the then-new song. I honestly didn’t catch that at first, but it was unmissable after he pointed it out… and forever a link between the two of us. This brother and I weren’t in touch for a long while, but even then, every time I listened to the song, I thought of him, as I do still. My first-ever post, the Psychedelic Furs’ “Heaven,” is another mutual favourite, very meaningful in our enjoyment of it, and the official video for it.

This brother reads and listens to one of my songs of the day each day, and every time we talk on the phone (plus times in between, via text), he tells me about his experience of my song choices. It is so beautiful to hear the experiences others have of songs we love, isn’t it? I sure think so.

Anyway, this brother also loves soundtracks, so I always feel a bit of excitement posting something the tag, “Film / TV Soundtrack,” and smile as I affectionately think of him.

When looking for the video for today’s selection, I came across many Jackson Browne songs I remembered from my youth. Then I came across Running on Empty, an album I haven’t thought about for many years. The song, “The Load Out” and companion song “Stay” are so irrevocably connected. Yet, there are only unofficial videos that pair them like the couple they indeed are, the ying to the other’s yang. The 1977 album was one of those essential parts of my younger years — though I never bought it (huh?!). The record was also tied to that first serious relationship that I’ve talked of a couple of times… Maybe I just needed to let go of the record-as-a-symbol, though that would have been far easier than letting go of the relationship.

But man, I loved hearing it tonight after searching YouTube for Jackson Browne videos.

At some time, I’ll talk more about Running on Empty and the album’s influence, but for today, I wanted to focus on the memory of that conversation about the love call/keyboard response in “Lawyers in Love.” 

Memories are important. They aren’t always good or things we recall with joy, but they anchor us to our roots, our lives, our ancestors. They deserve to be honoured and, if they are negative, well, that’s a first step to reconciling with them.

So for tonight, I’m reminiscing on memories of that long-ago conversation about today’s song. And I am looking forward to speaking with my brother again soon… though I think he’s still weeks behind on the blog. (I honour and love that he sticks to one post per day.)

Incidentally, thinking of Jackson Browne always reminds me of another artist, a British fellow, Duncan Browne, a rather obscure musician but one whom I was hooked into some time in my 1970s and 80s record-buying days. I no doubt heard the record of his that I bought, in one of the downtown Winnipeg stores on one of those weekly money-savings-avoidance trips.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official video for the song from Jackson Browne’s YouTube channel

Thank U

Today I was looking for a song about gratitude, and when I thought about it, Alanis Morissette’s “Thank U,” from her 1998 album, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie was ideal. Let me tell you why.

 I’ve mentioned before that a few years ago, my mum died. Months after, I took part in a retreat themed on grief. Much of the gathering’s content was inspired by the Francis Weller book, The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief. I found the retreat and book profoundly enlightening. Sweety and I have both read it, are re-reading it, and have recommended it to numerous folks, many of whom have found it enriching to them. (If not available through your local bookseller, it can be found on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.)

One of the most notable parts of the book is the idea that, as Weller says in this video, “…when we step across that threshold and enter the room of grief… it has a way of opening up the rest of our lives…” He continues with the room analogy, saying that after crossing that threshold, “… we enter the hallway of community, joy…” He goes on to recount the 18th century English poet William Blake’s statement about the deeper the sorrow, the greater the joy, and this feeds a central part of what Weller recommends as the rituals and practices to develop a greater sense of gratitude as part of moving in the grieving process. I found this concept and practice more helpful than I can express.

I’ve always liked Morissette’s take on thankfulness as she moves beyond that traditional habit of being thankful for only the positive things in one’s life. I “got” her idea many years ago. Still, the reading I’ve done has solidified my understanding and adoption of the call in her lyrics, including the culminating line, “How bout unabashedly bawling your eyes out…” and:

“Thank you India
Thank you Providence,
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you nothingness
Thank you clarity
Thank you, thank you silence…”

And now, the latest instalment in serendipity. I was working on this post in the late afternoon, after biking 64.5 kilometres (40 miles; my longest ride yet) and cutting our grass. The roots of the newly-reseeded lawn are still too fragile to use the less-efficient reel mower, so I had borrowed an e-mower from friends down our street. I had to set the blog aside before finishing, though, as I had said I’d make dinner (a rare occurrence) while my sweety was out in the afternoon, and we needed to finish dinner before a Zoom gathering I was hosting at 7:00 pm. After the meeting, as I was returning the mower to our friends’ back yard just a while ago, today’s selection was playing on the radio in their neighbours’ yard. I said to my friend, “That’s my song for today!”

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the official video for the song from Alanis Morissette’s YouTube channel

Memories

Before today, I owned only a couple of songs by Maroon 5; I haven’t listened to them a lot as their music generally doesn’t speak to me. I suppose they have become more known due to lead singer Adam Levine being a team captain on American TV’s The Voice. But maybe I just don’t know enough about their music.

And, like I’ve said several times before here, I often find I enjoy the cover version of a song more than the original. Today’s choice is one of those; I love the energy, soul and spirit of the children’s choir One Voice who cover the song. I will bet that you’ve seen the video, as it has been making its way around the Internet in the last several months (I’ve seen countless people have shared it on Facebook, for instance).  

At first, I didn’t know that Maroon 5 wrote the song; it was only when my sweety was looking for a non-Facebook link to share the video by email with a friend that I found this out.

The song’s composers definitely had a vision of a compassionate anthem; on Twitter, band frontman Adam Levine said of the song, “This song is for anyone who has ever experienced loss. In other words, this song is for all of us.” 

But it’s the vivacious children’s choir that brings genuine compassion to life, in my opinion.

The website AZLyrics.com tells me, “The composition is based on the harmonic sequence of “Pachelbel’s Canon” (“Canon in D”) by German Baroque composer Johann Pachelbel.” I think it has just a touch of reggae in it, too; particularly Levine’s vocal in the band’s version.

Today’s selection goes out to Sweety. She has found comfort and consolation in the song and the innocent young voices that bring it to beautiful life, and she has shared it in compassion for loved ones grieving loss.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the video for the song from the One Voice Children’s Choir official YouTube channel

And, Maroon 5 performing the song on The Ellen DeGeneres Show (unofficial video, but Sweety loves those live performances): 

Plus, a clip of “Pachelbel’s Canon,” performed by Australia’s Stringspace… recognize the harmony in “Memories”? (Being faithful, after all, to my tradition of classical Sundays…)

Compassion

Sunday is usually classical music day here on the SongoftheDay.ca blog, but I’ve changed things up this week, as the word “compassion” was calling out to me this Saturday morning. Compassion… felt not only for others, but also for ourselves.

So this morning I looked for music to symbolize this emotion, and found a lovely and calming piano piece. It’s appropriately called “Compassion,” and it’s by Canadian composer, arranger, conductor and actor, André Gagnon, who has been recording music since 1964. The piece comes from his 2016 album, Les voix intérieures (The Inner Voices).

Serendipitously, just as I was finishing writing this post, my sweety, not knowing what I was writing about, started listening to a talk by American spiritual leader, writer, activist and politician Marianne Williamson, on the topic of compassion. It’s out there… for all of us.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from the André Gagnon YouTube (topic) channel: