Let It Go

Today, I drove to a local bookseller to pick up two poetry books I bought online for Sweety, for Mothers’ Day. Yeah. They were in the city when I ordered them ten days or so in advance. But whatever; we lived… just hungering for poetry… anyway, she loved them. Mary Oliver and Maya Angelou.

The random (choose-from-your-whole-owned-collection) play in the car served up this delightful, lovely song, “Let It Go” on the way to the stores.

Businesses are super-busy trying to adapt to the ever-changing landscape we have been in since March. I try to remember that especially so now, when we are all under pressure, and some customers are impatient or defy the stores’ application of public health orders.

And, to be fair, the books were ready to pick up on the 17th, but it’s been a busy week, getting the house, porch and yard all sorted out from the brutal winter. But today, since our porch was going to be cleaned and habitable, I thought it might be a nice evening for Sweety to enjoy reading some poetry in our “outdoor living room.” (We genuinely consider that the name of our outside space; so much so that I insist people remove their shoes when they’re visiting us in the porch because, well, you know, you’re indoors… with those dirty outdoor soles…)

But I digress. Every Friday evening, we’ve been joining, through Zoom, a poetry group out of Colorado, USA that I know of through a dear friend who lives in Eldora, CO (elevation 8,642 feet above sea level). He’s been a crucial part of the group that has kept me alive for the last decade or so. He has visited here a few times to spend time with soulful men. And along with three other fellows, I visited him in Eldora in 2012. 

It was a terrific time… the trip there took us through varied and picturesque scenery and a very long drive one night. (This, because my three fellow travellers insisted we could do the 18 hours of driving and arrive fresh the next day. Yeah. I’m the youngest of the group, by the way. We finally stopped. Found one room. Two double beds. Four men. Sleeping clothed.) 

Next morning, my entertainment was sitting in my overtired stupor in a cafe near the motel, watching one of my comrades nearly drag the other across the table by his neck due to some minor, long-road-trip conflict or other.

I can hardly describe the rest of the time there without writing a book; but I’ll always remember the camping spot my friend set up for two of us on the side of Ute Mountain, and just outside the tent, a circle of rocks to surround a fire. It was a profoundly spiritual spot, I felt. In my mind, I’ve returned there many times since then: our family and closest friends experiencing six deaths, eight severe illnesses and injury, a loving reunion vanquishing 17 years of estrangement, the ending of two careers, family challenges often emanating from all that I’ve just written on and, last but not least, having worked much of that time in life-sucking circumstances (contributing to one of the serious illnesses).

And I digress again.

In 2012 in Colorado with my mountain friend, learning, working and tracing the mountain stream, and sharing awe at the world’s beauty, has been among the most soulful experiences of my life. And I am enjoying his and my regular time around the fire in the past few months after we intersected on a couple of online calls early in in the global pandemic lockdown, sharing poetry and recalling all those stories from the belly, of the million years of wisdom behind us as we wait.

Back to today; sitting in our screened-in porch for the first time this year, I thought it would be an excellent place for Sweety and me to join many of our online gatherings with that dear friend, and friends we’ve only known on Zoom… except, the street noise here would continuously take the microphone! Oh well… as my dear mum said in a conjured stern voice, “Well, If that’s all you got to worry about…”

Time for a song? Some poetry? 

“Every second I get older there’s a line
I get down and pray for time
Every moment is a boulder being fired
every night a day has died,
Let it go, you can’t try to race it
don’t you know you don’t have to face it,
keep your head, don’t be misled to waste it
Run away with me…
I’m a sinner cos I’m led by vanity
Someone come and save my soul
Say the word and I will take you down with me
Somewhere we can both grow old
Let it go, you can’t try to race it
don’t you know you don’t have to face it,
keep your head, don’t be misled to waste it
Run away with me…
I don’t know what to do about this anymore
You know, sometimes I forget I’m alive
You know, sometimes I forget I’m alive
It’s too dark and it’s too light
It’s too loud and it’s too bright
and it’s too hard, and too
long to be on your own,
So run away with me”

(“Let It Go,” by Rebecca Jones, Bill Ryder Jones)

The lyrics seem for me to sum up what we’ve lived from 2012 to now, and through it I’ve learned to find, as another, newer Colorado friend dubs it, “the joy of conflict,” and, much more, setting me off down that glorious path where I learned that grief opens us to gratitude. For me, deepest tragedy has led me to open to solace and gratefulness for what I’ve received, am receiving and will receive in my life. And of the beauty and fragility of life.

Anyway, a bit of a long, rambling, “summer porch” kind of a post. Ahhhhh…

Since listening this song and looking for a YouTube or other streaming presence to introduce you to it, I’ve heard several other Saint Saviour’s songs. I have no recollection of buying her song in November 2014 and really am not sure I can remember ever hearing it before, but must have. Serendipity.

And now, the sound of spring rain as it becomes time to move inside, in the cool of evening and the making of bedtime. Good evening, all.

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 Saint Saviour’s official YouTube channel:

Isolation

Happy Friday, friends!

Of all John Lennon’s compositions for The Beatles and his solo work, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard today’s song, “Isolation,” before today.

This morning I was poking around the BBC 6 Music website and delved into some April 2019 archives of Cillian Murphy, the Irish actor in Peaky Blinders (a show I know nothing about, but would like to as Murphy interests me) who has filled the time slot for Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour on BBC 6 Music when Garvey and band Elbow have been touring.

The song title seemed to have a slightly ironic fit today, as Manitoba’s public health officials are relaxing some of the restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings, reducing the requirements for isolation in the coronavirus pandemic. Sweety and I are not changing our habits much at all despite this development. We still feel compelled to remain at home as much as possible.

And with that somewhat self-imposed isolation still in place, it doesn’t hurt that the weather has improved so much this week. When I returned from a 53-kilometre solo bike ride this afternoon, the temperature was 26C (79F), with a humidex of 30C. We’ve also been busy doing a lot of work in the yard, and grandbabysat yesterday afternoon while one of our lads and his partner tackled some big jobs around their home and garden. Life has been full, busy, and good. We are blessed; we have a home, enough food, we have some to share, and we are healthy, and safe.

And tonight, we’ll join some American and Canadian friends on a Zoom teleconference for an hour of sharing poetry.

So, apart from missing our two other sons here, this isolation thing hasn’t been as bad for us as it has for many. We look forward to family gatherings when we feel it is safe to do so. At the same time, life seems a little less oppressed now that we are free to go to more places, regardless of whether we choose to or not.

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 John Lennon YouTube channel:

Running Red Lights

I’m not one to advocate for excessive government intervention in most things, but when society shows a lack of will to control certain behaviours, I’m all in. Speeding and the running of red lights is one such area. I’ll apologize in advance for the rant, like “sorry-not-sorry.”

In some cases, government regulation is essential, by imposing restrictions to protect public health and safety, like physical distancing protocols in the coronavirus pandemic, and speed limits for driving.

Ever since the city of Winnipeg, Canada brought in photo enforcement in the early 2000s, there has been a small but vocal chorus of detractors that irks me to no end, calling for such things as longer amber lights and more signage to control traffic safety. No. It’s driver behaviour. That’s all. 

Anytime you’re driving in the city, the speed limit is 50 kph unless otherwise posted. There are signs to inform you as you drive into the city, in case you didn’t study for and obtain your driver certification here. Pretty simple. And, word on the street was, years ago, that the threshold for a photo enforcement ticket to be issued was 12 kph over the limit. (I have no idea if that is correct, by the way… so don’t try it on my account…) But if that were correct, in a 50 kph zone, you could travel at, say, 60 kph, without fear of a ticket. That’s plenty fast enough when it’s been stated that the chances for pedestrian survival when struck by a vehicle decline dramatically at speeds higher than 30 kph. (I’ll add here that I’m in favour of 30 kph zones in all residential areas, by the way. People blast down our street all the time, using it as a cut-through between regional routes, traffic-calming-be-damned.)

And as far as red lights, it’s widely known that the timing of an amber light in Winnipeg is four seconds. Apparently, some jurisdictions have them for five seconds. Okay; so in our city, I’d wager money that a longer amber light would mean a few more vehicles whipping through to beat the red light. And, people would still be racing through intersections as the light changed to red, possibly setting up a dangerous situation if a driver blasted off on a green light without checking to see the intersection was clear.

Photo enforcement tickets for speeding and red-light running are a completely voluntary tax. All you need to avoid a ticket is to “Just Slow Down,” as the brilliant Winnipeg ad campaign states. (Full disclosure: as a public servant, I worked alongside the agency that created that campaign many years ago, but take no credit for the movement they worked passionately to create.)

And, sorry, I don’t know anything about the band as I only discovered their song “Running Red Lights” when it played this morning on KEXP Seattle’s The Morning Show with John Richards. As you may have gathered, it reminded me that, to this day, the last thing to enter the photo enforcement debate seems to be common sense, reason, and personal responsibility. Don’t want a ticket? Don’t speed. Don’t run red lights. It can’t be any more simple.

Anyway, I warned you of a rant… now it’s my turn to sit back, and if you have thoughts, I’m happy to read them. 

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

Here’s the video for the song from The Avalanches’ official YouTube channel:  

Bare

It’s late in a day that saw us spend about 11 hours out working in the yard today. A hot, sunny, windy, glorious Manitoba spring day. Our neighbourhood has 115-year-old elm trees which are awesome, but this is not so awesome for the lawn. The grass struggles to grow and has done so for the 18 years we’ve lived here. Today we, along with two other couples on the street, shared the rental of a dethatcher and aerator. Two passes of the dethatcher, each pass followed by raking, then aerating, followed by more raking, then spreading manure all over the grass, followed by grass seed and fertilizer. And now, watering it all.

Photo of a newly-seeded lawn.
Some of our yard work today. More to come.

So, I’m going to lean on my ever-reliable Guy Garvey to come through with a tune since I’m knackered, as he might say. 

I believe today’s selection may have been a listener’s recommendation to Garvey; on Sunday, he featured the song “Bare,” by Rosie Carney, who I’d never heard of before. As it played, I was confident I knew the voice. Then I realized she sounded just like a voice I’ve known for many years; I could picture the artist, but it took a while to recall the name — Jane Siberry, an eclectic, art-rock/electronic artist from Canada who I listened to a fair bit in the early 1980s.  She was well-known for the song, “Calling All Angels,” which appeared on the soundtrack for a TV program, In Search of Angels. Siberry was not at all popular with my “friends 2.0,” so it was usually solo listening sessions where I’d hear her.

Anyway, I find Carney’s voice to be an almost identical match to Siberry’s. What do you think?

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 Rosie Carney’s official YouTube channel:

Splitting the Atom

Massive Attack is an electronic group I know nothing about, aside from the fact that their piece “Teardrop” was the theme music for the TV series House, M.D., and I always found it to be a clever piece of music. The show ran from 2004 to 2012, starring British actor Hugh Laurie as the American diagnostic magician Dr Gregory House, the often boorish, though highly proficient and thoroughly broken, pain medication-addicted main character of the series. 

Sweety and I used to watch the show a lot, though at one point we went off it. I envision we may go back at some point. The writing and acting in the series were superb; sometimes an episode seemed it was heading in a predictable direction with the patient “crashing,” often more than once, then the plot taking a massive twist or two.

I’m aware of another track of Massive Attack’s which I, unfortunately, associate with the death of my mother as it came into my collection around that time, and find quite difficult to listen to. 

So, one might prognosticate, I was happy to receive a “new-to-me” Massive Attack piece this past Sunday when listening to — wait for it — BBC 6 Music’s Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour on BBC Sounds. (How many of you could have foretold that I was going to draw from his show, huh?)

Garvey, whom I think of as a loyal sort and have highlighted examples of the family ties he savours, often features the music of bands that he’s toured with or have otherwise touched his life in memorable ways. He sings vocals on one of the songs on the Massive Attack EP Splitting the Atom, extolling the album but being careful to note his admiration is not self-oriented; it’s about a band he likes and wants us to support. I like his thinking.

The most recent episode of Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour, “Trumpeters, Potters, Poets and Dylans” is an absolutely cracking instalment which I’m still listening to, and feel confident auguring that you’ll see a few more shares from it here. Please don’t take my word though, tune in some time, or head over to the program website and subscribe to it (you’ll see the Subscribe link on the right side of the screen that the link takes you to) and then you’ll magically and foreseeably receive it on your personal dashboard through BBC Sounds (it’s easy to set up a free account), and listen at your leisure.

And, as you might predict at this point in the post, 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 Massive Attack’s official YouTube channel:

Young Folks

Ah, summer weather in spring! 23 C (73 F) here in Winnipeg, Canada today!

Today’s song has been in my digital collection since February 2007. I think it may have been one of those free single-of-the-week cards that Starbucks used to give out in their stores. At any rate, I’ve heard it a lot over the years. KEXP Seattle still plays it, as well.

It’s got a catchy beat, some great whistling, and the video is done in cartoon style which is also kind of cool. It seems like a good summer song to me and appropriately is on my Apple Music library’s “Car Tunes” playlist.

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 Peter Bjorn and John’s YouTube channel:

Adagio in “G”

This week I took another trip out to Birds Hill Park to ride my bike around the perimeter roadway. The park is officially open now, and as it is the May Long Weekend, the campground is open, and many camper-trailers were being hauled in. I stood half an hour in a physically-distanced line at the campground office buying a season pass to Manitoba’s beautiful provincial parks.

One of my brothers texted, asking if I had time for a phone call. I replied “yes,” when I’d gotten my pass and was driving back to the place I usually park the car. I sat in the sunlit heat of the vehicle as we caught up on each other’s lives since the last time we spoke, a few weeks ago.

Once I had been riding for a while, the crosswinds and slight inclines brought out pain in my calf, and though I stopped and stretched it out partway through, it continued to take some of my attention, and I didn’t want to make it worse, so I cut the ride short at 35 kilometres. I didn’t have a goal for the day, but my previous ride was 50 km.

When we were speaking, my brother was telling me how much he is learning about my musical taste, from visiting this blog. He remarked that I don’t post very many classical pieces, aware that I have a fair-sized collection of classical music, mostly CDs, as the majority was acquired when CDs were the format of choice. (Another brother, whom it feels like I am getting to know all over again, richly and beautifully, tells me he is learning much about me from reading my posts and hearing the music I share. I love the when people tell me of their experiences of this daily thing of mine.)

Always up for a request or a suggestion, I started by looking at my digital collection, then today’s piece, composed by Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751), came into my mind. I associate it most as the theme and ending music of the 1981 film, Gallipoli. I remember when first seeing the movie, my late dad remarking then on how it was known as one of the most tragic campaigns of the First World War, with much loss of life (estimates I found to vary, depending on the source; anywhere from 190,000 to 250,000 dead, wounded or missing).

For me, the film really brought home the gravity of wartime loss. The young man, too young to enlist, finds his way into the Australian army; a force that came “of age” in the costly conflict. And maybe as I’ve aged, I appreciate the life I’ve been able to enjoy free of personal involvement in war, when both of my parents were profoundly affected by it, for life.

My father enlisted as a young man, serving six years of his young adult life in the British Army. He was a member of the Queen’s Own Grenadier Guards, an infantry regiment dating back to 1656 and which, though smaller now, has been deployed to conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Gulf War, and Afghanistan. He fought in some of the most dangerous theatres of the Second World War, including Montecassino, Italy, as well as North Africa.

My mother, who was nine years younger, was separated from her parents and along with her sisters, evacuated as were all children during the German Blitzkrieg; the port city of Liverpool was a prime target for the blitz. I thought of her so much when my cousin and her husband drove us through the seaside resort town in 2017 en route to visit her brother/my cousin and his family, just two months after Mum passed and we were on an already-scheduled trip to see family in Liverpool, Anglesey (Wales), and London.

I can’t imagine how either of them learned to cope, not knowing if they’d ever see their parents and families again.

What I’ve described has given me an appreciation, though luckily a quite distant one, for the tragedy of war. As I mentioned briefly, today’s piece plays during the film Gallipoli; a short excerpt in the opening, and a longer one in the closing scene. I find it hard not to weep with sadness when hearing this music and thinking of the memories it would have evoked for my parents, and with gratitude that my generation and the next as been spared from such agony.

I did a fair amount of research yesterday to find which of the many recorded versions of this piece was in the film. I’m quite sure from what I found, and my hearing memory, that it was the rendition by Jean-François Paillard and the Orchestre de Chambre Jean-François Paillard, which I’ve featured below. (I also like the version by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Herbert von Karajan, which is quite a bit longer in duration; very beautiful in Karajan’s interpretation. He has been an almost lifelong favourite. There is a very haunting sound of an echo in his recording, when the orchestra ends each bar and the orchestra briefly falls silent. I highly recommend it for listening; it is easy to find on the Internet.)

It strikes me, each time I hear the Paillard rendition, the slow plodding of upright bass part at the beginning… it for me symbolizes the slow march to the almost certain death that so many service people have faced in wartime. The version is also deeply sombre and mournful though, from 6:47 to 7:09 in the video below, I find there is an element of hope in the music. The piece does not end with that.

* * * * * * * * *

As an addition to today’s post, I had written most of this when called to join Sweety in the living room when CBC TV broke the story of the crash of one of the nine Canadian Forces’ Snowbirds 431 Aerial Demonstration Squadron aeroplanes, very shortly after take-off. One of the two-person crew ejected and sustained non-life-threatening injuries; the other has died. Our armed forces are never immune to loss it seems, even in operations they conduct to inspire a nation out of the challenges of near-lockdown in response to an unseen enemy; a virus.

Thank you, CF Snowbirds, for ‘Operation Inspiration.’ We see you. We stand mourning with you, your families and friends, and the nation you serve. 🇨🇦

Photo of a lit candle against a black background.

Now, you know why this is my song of the day for today.

Here is the audio for the piece, recorded by Jean-François Paillard and the Orchestre de Chambre Jean-François Paillard.

Candle photo credit: Wikimedia

Faster Than Light

Lately, since I discovered Neil Finn’s Fangradio blog via KEXP Seattle, I’ve added the blog to my listening routine (which led me to my posts on “Distant Sun” and “One Step Ahead”). From April 28 to May 11, while he was recording for Crowded House, Finn’s daily shows were compilations of highlights, returning to the live broadcast format on May 12.

Today’s song was the last live piece he played before the canned outro music. Finn played the solo piano and vocal version on the broadcast, which I prefer for its calmness. Both a piano/vocal version and full-band studio recording are below if you feel like comparing them.

Finn hasn’t posted a show since the 12th, but I think he said something that day about changing his schedule. A daily commitment to playing for 45 minutes to an hour or so would mean many hours of planning and rehearsal. Finn’s doing something today at his son Liam’s studio (Iso 2) and his wife Sharon will be joining in on the bass guitar, so I’ll have to check that out once he posts it to his blog.

By the way, it’s the first really nice day we’ve had since spring decided to return, so these posts might start getting a little shorter! 

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 live performance on the MAX Sessions, an Australian TV program:

And, the studio recording from Neil Finn’s official YouTube channel:

Tomorrow

Today is yesterday’s tomorrow, as they say.

Yesterday when I shared to Facebook my post on the slightly eerie-sounding “Smiling Faces Sometimes,” Sweety and I bantered back on and forth about the darker song contrasting with “Lorelei,” the happy song from the day before. The conversation led to her quoting a line from “Tomorrow,” the famous song from the musical, Annie.

It seems like a good song to greet you with on a Friday,  a day when the sun is finally shining again, and when we’ll be able to put the hanging flower baskets back outside since the temperature is going to stay above freezing. (The 13 of them have been occupying our whole main floor bathroom all week to keep them from the frost as well as our brat-cat, Perry Como.) 

So, have a great day, enjoy today and look ahead to tomorrow!

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 movie soundtrack (not an official version):

And an excerpt from the 1982 film:

Smiling Faces Sometimes

I was thinking this morning about songs on the topics of betrayal and back-stabbing. The first song I found was “The Back Stabbers” by the O’Jays. Then I found today’s selection, “Smiling Faces Sometimes,” by The Undisputed Truth. It was originally recorded by the Temptations, in 1971, running for about 12 minutes. The version by The Undisputed Truth (also from 1971) is just over three minutes.

A commenter on the YouTube post for the song says it all: “This gem used to scare me when I was little. Whenever a record would give me head chills and make my eyes well up, I knew that there was a message within the lyrics that was super important. A haunting and truthful classic.

I also remember being haunted by songs like this, and it must have been because I didn’t yet pay attention to the meanings of songs. Being an older adult, I’ve seen and heard (and sometimes done) it all and can relate to the singer’s story.

All that aside, this is a pretty cool track with interesting instrumentation.

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 Undisputed Truth topic YouTube channel:

Lorelei

This morning, skimming through my Facebook feed, I noticed a “Musicians and Friends” group member posted a video of a Styx tribute band playing “Lorelei.”

I immediately had memories of a friend playing the original song on the stereo at his house in the St. Norbert suburb of Winnipeg, Canada in what must have been early 1976 (the record, Equinox, Styx’s fifth, came out in December 1975). “Lorelei” didn’t seem to ever make it to the hit status of the rock anthem, “Lady” (from Styx II, 1973), but has to be one of the happier rock songs I can think of from that era. It’s an upbeat tune telling the story of a man in awe of his woman and celebrating moving in together for a life “brighter than the stars, forever.” I can relate to the feeling!

Styx had a theatrical element to them, not completely unheard of from bands at that time, though they also included originals inspired by or renditions of classical pieces on some of their albums, like Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Little Fugue in G” (also on Styx II). The late John Curulewski, who resigned from the band just after they finished recording Equinox, wrote and played a classically-oriented guitar piece, “Prelude 12,” which appears on that album. It’s a lovely little piece at one minute, twenty-one seconds; a beautiful prelude to the acoustically-inspired, arena rock ballad, “Suite Madame Blue.” I’ve included a link to the two pieces, below the usual YouTube link to the daily song, just in case you want an extra bit of Styx today, or any day.

As a little factoid, “Light Up,” the opening track from Equinox, was believed to be a celebration of smoking marihuana.

Styx was big in my high school friends’ group and played here in Winnipeg at least a couple of times during those years. I saw them on June 12, 1977, at the old Winnipeg Arena when they toured in support of The Grand Illusion. The five-piece band used a lot of acoustic instrumentation along with ripping electric guitars and synthesizers. It was a fabulous show.

A photo of three long-play record covers.
My Styx vinyl collection.

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 Styx’s official YouTube channel:

Bonus song selection: “Prelude 12” / “Suite Madame Blue”:

When Will I See You Again

Yesterday, I listened to much of this past weekend’s edition of BBC 6 Music’s Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour, “Nina Simone Rules.”

A feature of the show I quite enjoy is when Garvey brings his family members onto the program, in the various ways he does. His toddler son Jack is fascinated with all the buttons in the home studio where Garvey pre-records the show. Sound bites of his mum admonish him to watch what he says as children are listening, and remind him not to laugh at his own jokes. His sister, “the Beckapedia” makes her weekly historical facts contribution. And lately, Garvey has invited family members to leave diary entries. This time it’s his sister Sam, who lives in Ireland, leaving a message for him, which he played for listeners. 

Sam speaks of her family’s experiences of being at home or adapting to new work arrangements and ways they are passing the time with their 16-year-old son. She talks about missing people, looking forward to being together, and because of living away from England where her siblings and mum are, being grateful the pandemic and lockdown/travel restrictions didn’t happen when their mum had an accident or when their dad died, both within the last two years. Sam rings off, giving today’s song as a request for Garvey to play. 

I found it a very moving message from a loving sibling, and a good reminder for us all to check on our people. (The segment starts at 2:24:30 in the program at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000j0zm. Truly worth a listen, as is the whole program.)

Indeed, something we are all asking these days; when will I see you again?

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 ’s official YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvqv0yWBzxHXOfKHXTV_zeQ

Crazy Love

The song “Crazy Love” was a hit single in 1979; the year I began my first full-time job (at the railway), and the year before I’d buy my first car, a silver 1980 Ford Mustang: I bought it for $6,467 in a year when bank car loans were at 16.25% interest, so with interest, the final tally came in at around $8,400. People had mortgages with that kind of interest rate, too. It was bananas! It was also a time where pay increases of 15% in one year were not unusual for union-contracted workers. It was also a time when many had to make do with a heck of a lot less.

I remember the Top 40 tune, as it wove itself into my life, attaching itself as a background soundtrack to connections and disconnections with the various relationships in my life growing into adulthood. Each time I hear it, I think back to what was a pretty tumultuous time for me; I suppose it may have been the same for my male and female friends at the time, too. I just don’t remember us talking much about such things, at the time. 

Back then I was somewhere in between my high school friends and “friends 2.0”; I still saw the former, hadn’t yet met the latter and, in the meantime, the smaller group I mostly hung around with at the time was living faster than most of my friends cared to. 

We filled our nights by going out to the pub (usually the Norlander on Pembina Highway in Winnipeg, Canada) to hear bands every night, after meeting up in someone’s apartment for what would be referred to nowadays as “pre-gaming.” After the bars closed at about 12:30 am, we would drive to the Country Kitchen, also on the Pembina strip (almost across from what is now my favourite bike shop, Alter Ego Sports), for a late-night breakfast. I’d creep into my parents’ home at around 1:30-2:00 am, then get up at 6:15 for work. Every. Single. Day. Sometimes when I arrived home from work, I’d go down the basement and turn on the TV and let the sounds of the House of Commons Question Period quickly lull me to sleep for an hour or so, before I’d get ready to go out and start the whole ridiculous cycle again.

The song was a constant reminder of my first serious girlfriend relationship; one I mentioned in my post on David Bowie’s “A New Career in a New Town” for the terribly long time I pined over it. I doubt I was much of a partner to the young women I met in the meantime. 

Anyway, it’s a lovely song, with magnificent harmonies and soft instrumentation. Poco had a number of popular songs in the 1980s but none grabbed me quite like this one.

“Tonight I’m gonna break away
Just you wait and see
I’ll never be imprisoned by
A faded memory

Just when I think I’m over her
This broken heart will mend
I hear her name and I have to cry
The tears come down again

It happens all the time
This crazy love of mine
Wraps around my heart
Refusin’ to unwind
Ooh-hoo, crazy love

(from “Crazy Love,” by Rusty Young)

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 Poco YouTube topic channel:

Mother

Low is a band from Duluth, Minnesota in the USA. The trio shares lead vocals between guitarist Alan Sparhawk and drummer Mimi Parker. “Mother” comes from the only album of theirs I have, their tenth, The Invisible Way.

“When you became my mother, there was time
You thought I’d be a daughter, but didn’t mind
And as the world began to measure, and define
We had time
We had time

You gave me light and language, and a name
You held me to the fire, to the flame
Now if I could tell the future, all the same
Why would I
We have time

Deep beneath the surface of the earth
So many bodies waiting for the word
When every child and mother will return
Forever
We’ll have time”

(“Mother,” by Alan Sparhawk)

I’m thinking today of mothers, step-mothers, expectant mothers, prospective mothers, mothers whose children have been taken away by death or other circumstances, those who can’t become mothers, those who choose not to bear children but care for others, and those who struggle with the role of mother. A gentle Mothers’ Day to you all.

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 (not an official release): 

Homeward Angel

When Sweety and I returned home the night of my retirement party, April 20, 2017, I was filled up to overflowing with gratitude for the loving sendoff my administrative staff had arranged for us, and the way everyone there made me feel special. An older brother and his partner had come to pick us up from home, and we visited a while before going to the King’s Head Pub in the Exchange District of Winnipeg, Canada for the do. When they drove us home after the party, they came in for a nightcap.

Photo of a woman and man seated, ready to go to a party.
Sweety and me, at home before the big shindig, April 20, 2017. Photo by Mark West.

Arriving at the start of the event, I remember excitedly walking up the pub steps then the introvert in me realized with a touch of horror, halfway up, that I was going to have to talk with all these people! I soon relaxed and realized I’d get to speak with them all. And I’m pretty sure I did talk with almost everyone.

It was the best retirement party I ever have been to, and not just because it was mine. So much thought was given to it, and the speeches by friends — my one-year-retired boss, my boss, and a former colleague — were fantastic. There was also a lovely letter from my out-of-town brother and sister-in-law, and a letter of congratulations from the mayor, and most of my family, friends and co-workers were there, too. I felt genuinely celebrated.

The party was held soon after we returned from three weeks in England and Wales, and just two months after my mum died, all while I was in the throes of wrapping up my career and helping transition a massive department into a new structure and new leadership model. I sometimes wish I’d been more present to think of all the folks to invite; the fog of grief can be quite something to cut through.

After the party, when the tie and jacket were off at home and we’d talked all about the fabulous night, Sweety went up to bed, and I lingered in the darkened main floor to savour the feelings of the evening a little more; of course, accompanied by music. Today’s selection came on, and it seemed like a kind of closing credits music for my career. Working in government can be a truly thankless occupation, and over my time in the public service, I witnessed a shocking decline in the level of civility with which public workers were treated.

Listening to “Homeward Angel” that night, I felt I was shedding all the protective layers one needs to survive in such an environment, leaving me feeling warm in a cloak of peace and gratitude. It was the most relaxed I’d felt in 14 years. I haven’t taken that garment off since. 

The piece is from Moby’s two-CD set, Hotel. It came on random play in the car when we drove to Canadian Tire this afternoon. I’d been there earlier this morning to do a curbside pickup, and saw that they had beautiful hanging floral baskets for CAD 9.99. There wasn’t a soul in the store at 8:00 am, so I went in and got two. When I brought them home to Sweety, she was so excited that I asked if she wanted to get masked up and go there. We did, and got another 11.

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

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the music and if you get a similar sense of settling calm that I had from it as an introduction to life after all-consuming work.

Here’s the audio (short version, 5:51) from Moby’s official YouTube channel:

And if you feel like more of that, here’s the extended version (10:58) I listened to that night:

Fly Me to the Moon

Today, I dedicate this post to everyone who believes the conspiracy theory that the human-crewed moon landings of the 1960s and 70s never happened.

Yesterday when receiving this birthday gift from one of our lads, I learned of another, related theory. Someone fabricated a story claiming British film director Stanley Kubrick admitted in an interview that he helped the USA’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration fake the six moon landing missions. 

Photo of a black t-shirt.
The back side of my birthday present.

Well, after all, Kubrick did direct that sprawling set of lunar surface scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey, right?

Screenshot from https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/false-stanley-kubrick-faked-moon-landings/.

Anyway, it’s Friday… never mind all those conspiracy theories. Who’s got time for made-up stuff anyway, when there’s enough that really is going on in the world. Enjoy your weekend!

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 1965 live performance video for the song from the official Frank Sinatra YouTube channel:

Ahead by a Century

Today’s post is really late. Almost missed the day, really.

It’s been a hectic day with an important project, many conversations, and a couple of special, physically-distant visits. Plus, I wasn’t nearly as organized as yesterday when my daily post and most other daily rituals and chores were mostly finished by noon and I headed out in the car to Birds Hill Park, took my bike along, and did my fifth outdoor bike ride of the year, my third in the park. Finishing that ride, which was a bit gruelling because of ferocious winds, I thought of today’s song. I’ll explain why, but this will take a little bit, so get comfortable.

Over the winter, I built up my cycling to rides as long as 40 kilometres on the indoor trainer, but of course, it’s different in real life, with headwinds, bad roads and other factors. In less than two weeks with my three rides in the park, I’ve gone from doing two laps, or just over 20 kilometres there, to four laps and a bit, for 50 km yesterday. That puts me at the halfway point toward my 2020 goal of what’s known as a “metric century,” or a 100-kilometre ride. (A century for cyclists in imperial-measurement lands is 100 miles. Ummm… maybe next year. I made it to 60 km last year, albeit only two months after switching to road cycling, and accomplished that on what would have been my dad’s 100th birthday. I decided soon after that, with some coaching from an awesome manager at my favourite bike shop, Alter Ego Sports in Winnipeg, Canada, that my next achievement could be 100 km in 2020. Anyway, this is sort of an explanation, so I’m not even going to call it digressing, if that’s okay… though I’ll admit it is a bit like rambling.) 

As I mentioned before all of those facts and figures, I thought of today’s song as I rolled, entirely spent, into the area where the car was parked. With my eyes on a “century” (from more than one perspective), the song felt like an instinctual choice, which sometimes happens with this blog.

Today has proven that instinct to be right on. You see, I never was much of a fan of The Tragically Hip. And I know, that sounds almost un-Canadian! I know they were a great band, and the late Gord Downie was courageous and visionary in the face of terminal brain cancer. In his later years he put so much of himself into the work of reconciliation with our First Nations by his work highlighting the plight of children stolen from their families and imprisoned in Canada’s shameful residential school system.

“First thing we’d climb a tree and maybe then we’d talk
Or sit silently and listen to our thoughts
With illusions of someday casting a golden light
No dress rehearsal, this is our life”

(from “Ahead by a Century,” by Gord Downie, Paul Langlois, Rob Baker, Gord Sinclair, Johnny Fay)

I don’t really know The Hip’s music that well, and yesterday my electrolyte-depleted brain was also tuning in on the song, “Blow at High Dough,” which includes this line:

“Well, sometimes the faster it gets
The less you need to know
But you got to remember the smarter it gets
The further it’s going to go”

(from “Blow at High Dough,” by Gord Downie, Paul Langlois, Rob Baker, Gord Sinclair, Johnny Fay)

That one’s perhaps also an unwitting mantra to my training. And, here’s the other thing I’ve discovered today. It’s all a reminder to be more open. To embrace music — and other things —  I’ve tended to reject because I didn’t connect with them the first time around. To accept the people who irritate or offend me, or with whom I don’t feel a connection or feel I can dismiss solely because I’ve felt they have been rude to or dismissive of me. I found myself in a place today where I could get past all that, and made a connection in a longstanding, complicated relationship. I don’t know what the future will bring, but today I felt like I was kinder, and maybe added some light, and in exchange, felt heard and respected. 

Anyway, I may just be listening to some more Tragically Hip sometime soon, to see what I was missing all those years since I was introduced to them in the early 1990s by a deputy superintendent I was working for on the railway. He was adamant that they were the best band ever. Anyway, I’d appreciate your comments and recommendations of albums or songs, as I only have a couple of their songs, including today’s.

I’ve got some distance to cover, and some learning to do yet. I feel fortunate that it’s going to continue to be a busy year. Hopefully there are more in the hopper!

And, I made it just under the wire for today’s post, so, yay to me.

Here’s the official video for the song from The Tragically Hip’s YouTube channel:

Goodnight, California

I’m not sure why but I often confuse Kathleen Edwards with Sarah Slean. I suppose there are some similarities in their styles, though their voices are quite different. Maybe it’s because they are both highly successful singer-songwriters who come from Canada. 

Or, maybe it’s because like Slean’s album, The Baroness (discussed in my post on “The Rose”), Edwards’ album Asking for Flowers is one that we have often listened to all the way through. We would do this on long car rides, especially when we went to our dear friends’ farm property near Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba, Canada. There is something about this music that fits so well with driving on highways in the country. As I’ve mentioned before, we drove there for occasional weekends and for me, highlights of the drive were the scenery and the music, the peacefulness of driving with my sweety, and getting away from the pressures of our jobs. 

Our friends were superb hosts, and we always shared a lot of laughs. Sadly, the husband in that marriage died three years ago, the same year my mum died, so it was a terrible year of loss though it was the same year I retired from full-time work, so I had more time and space to deal with grief as well as practical matters related to death.

“Goodnight, California” is a brilliant song, probably one of my favourites of Edwards’ as it is slow and ponderous with a tone of melancholy, with strings weaving underneath and around her usual alt-country style. A harmonica solo comes into the last half of the song, the strings and harmonica playing back and forth against and with each other. It’s captivating. The song runs six minutes, twenty-nine seconds and has sparse lyrics for a song of such length:

“You know what I wish?
It was just you and me
Sitting in this corner bar
You can tell me how you are
I’m not going to lie
Or anything
You don’t even have to speak
If you keep looking at me

I could go all night
But they’re turning up the lights
It would be so easy
To do or say anything
But I’m not going to lie
Or anything
I won’t let you in my heart
But you are always on my mind”

(“Goodnight, California,” by Kathleen Edwards)

Of all her songs, I think this is one that best highlights the stunning beauty of Edwards’ voice. Asking for Flowers is her third studio album, released in 2008. After her fourth album, Voyageur (2012), Edwards took time away from her music career. In 2018 following the death-by-suicide of American musician Neal Casal, Edwards openly talked about the depression that led to her pausing her musical career. I hope this national treasure is doing as well as possible in a public health crisis that is adding additional strain on those suffering, often alone, through such illnesses.

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, I haven’t asked this for quite some time: if you like the music, please buy it, and support the artist.

Here’s the official audio for the song from the Kathleen Edwards YouTube topic channel:

Otherwise

Morcheeba is a British electronic trio that came to my attention through our oldest son a long time ago. I once saw a copy of their 2002 CD, Charango in Music Trader, a store in Winnipeg, Canada that sells new and used records and CDs; I remembered our lad introducing us to their sound, and bought it. I added it to my iTunes (now Apple Music) library in April 2014. I likely hadn’t bought it much before then as I tend to add albums to the computer right away and play them through iTunes/Apple Music most of the time since its add-on speaker/subwoofer system is superior to those of our living room sound system. (This might be the genesis of the “kitchen dance,” as the computer is in a corner at one end of the kitchen.)

The whole album is enjoyable to listen to as it contains a variety of styles and sounds, though there are some quasi-rap/hip hop numbers; genres I’m afraid I just have not gotten into. The title track has some rap elements to it but is a solid track, in my opinion.

The limited-edition copy I have is a two-CD set; the second CD is all the same tracks, but the producers omitted the vocals to make an instrumental album… and it works quite well, though I prefer the original version with Skye Edwards’ voice, which I find quite lovely. In January 2019, I bought the song “The Sea” from an earlier album, Big Calm (1998) after hearing it on KEXP Seattle and recognizing her vocal. 

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 Morcheeba’s YouTube channel:

Think That You Might Be Wrong

Today’s is another song for which I don’t recall the story of why I have it. It’s the only song I have by the Great Lake Swimmers, and I bought it in the iTunes Store on April 29, 2012; just over eight years ago. Don’t know anything about the band either, though I did look them up and found they are from Wainfleet, Ontario in Canada, and now call that province’s capital Toronto home.

“Think That You Might Be Wrong” comes from New Wild Everywhere, their fifth album, released in April 2012. As I bought it in the same month, it must have been featured on the radio, like CBC Radio 2 or 3 (their internet-only station), thinking of that timeframe.

Whenever I see the title, it makes me think of my personality type under the Enneagram, and I’ll explain that type in a moment. The Enneagram is one of the many personality typing systems out there; one that Sweety and I have studied a little over the years. It is used in spirituality as a tool for building self-awareness, self-understanding, and self-development. Knowing one’s type can help one learn to overcome his or her weaknesses and celebrate strengths. Understanding another’s type can help one to diffuse points of conflict that can arise between people of different types.

There are nine types. I tend to have a lot of characteristics of type One, also known as the Perfectionist or Reformer. The One is principled and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong, and is fearful of making mistakes. In its extreme, the One can see things as black or white and can be rigid and judgmental. I can be critical of others but not nearly as critical as I am of myself. The title “Think You Might Be Wrong” speaks to a comment you might hear from me if I’m not reining in that tendency.

Sweety and I have worked to understand, appreciate and honour each other’s type, which has nurtured a deep and abiding strength in our relationship.

Each type has positive and negative attributes, and there isn’t a “better” type to aspire to be.

I am not an authority on the Enneagram, by any means. If you’re interested at all in learning more about the tool, see the links above. To determine your type, use this free test which has 131 items to consider. For a shorter one (50 items), go here. (Don’t click on the white box at the top of the page — it’s just an advertisement box for the free site.)

So, not so much about the song today, but rather, what it makes me think about.

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 Great Lake Swimmers’ YouTube channel:

I Don’t Want to Go Home

This week’s edition of my perfect afternoon of music enjoyment (or more, if I dole out bits of listening to the program at a time), BBC 6 Music’s Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour, just finished an hour before I sat down to write this. The archive was already pasted up on the BBC Sounds site at that point; bonus! I had a look at the full playlist; kind of like browsing the front window of a shop before deciding to step in and check out all the wares on offer. (Then, a few other activities and matters took my attention, including eating ravenously after a strenuos Zwift bike training session, an impromptu porch visit with one of our boys, a Zoom connection with friends and strangers, dinner and an episode of BBC TV’s Escape to the Country, then wading into a Facebook debate about the validity of our Canadian government’s ban on the private ownership of murderous, battlefield-style weapons.)

But, back to the song choice for today. It’s written and played by Nick Mulvey, whom Garvey has toured with, and to whom he sent his best wishes when introducing the track. 

Ever been in a situation where you didn’t want to go home? Not so much because you didn’t care for those you lived with, but maybe you just didn’t want the present moment to end? And often, it’s the opposite… after a fabulous holiday, there’s no more excellent feeling than approaching your home, knowing it’s there to welcome and keep you after a long journey. 

“So I don’t want to go home
Cause I’m already home
I think of you I’ve always known
Nobody’s ever born alone
In the fire I find the snow
Illusion come illusion go
In the fire I find the snow
Illusion come illusion go”

(from “I Don’t Want to Go Home,” by Nick Mulvey)

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 Nick Mulvey’s YouTube channel: