Glen Campbell, legendary singer and guitarist

The first time I became really aware with Glen Campbell was when he became the host of something called the Summer Brothers Smother Show, the summer replacement for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in late June through early September 1968. It even featured the Smothers’ Presidential “candidate” Pat Paulsen. I watched it and liked it.

He had already had a couple crossover hits: Gentle on My Mind was penned by John Hartford, a regular on the show. By the Time I Get To Phoenix was written, as many of Glen’s recordings were, by Jimmy Webb. Plus he had a couple country hits.

Then he starred in the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour from January 1969 to June 1972, which I also viewed. It coincided with more hits such as Wichita Lineman, which has possibly THE most romantic couplet in pop music. Also Galveston, the Texas city I visited in 1995 or 1996 and kept singing in my head.

Sometime around this time, I learned that he had filled in for Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys tours for six months in the 1960s, and I thought that was cool.

I never saw him in the movie TRUE GRIT with John Wayne, for which the Duke won an Oscar. And I stopped paying attention to him as he went through what my buddy Johnny Bacardi called “his excessive wild man ’70s and ’80s-up phases, coke, and Tanya Tucker and all that nonsense.” But like Johnny, I learned he was part of the legendary Wrecking Crew of session musicians, and I developed a huge, newfound respect for him.

In this 2007 interview, Glen Campbell discusses his forgetfulness, which he attributed to his wild lifestyle of the past. But in 2011, it was announced that he had Alzheimer’s disease.

Then he, along with three of his six children, went on one final tour, recorded for the documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, which I thought was extraordinary.

On Facebook, Jimmy Webb wrote: “I watched him in awe executing his flawless rendition of ‘“The William Tell Overture’ on his classical guitar in his Vegas show. Jazz he loved. He claimed he learned the most about playing the guitar from Django Reinhardt.”

Glen Campbell died at the age of 81. Here’s an interview with Alice Cooper talking about his late good friend.

Listen to

Turn Around Look at Me, pop #62 in 1961, his first charted hit
Brenda, the B-side

Gentle on My Mind, pop #62 in 1967, #39 in 1968; country #30 in 1967, #44 in 1968

By the Time I Get To Phoenix, pop #26, country #2 in 1968

Wichita Lineman, pop #3, country #1 for two weeks
“And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time.” – Jimmy Webb

Galveston, pop #4, country #1 for three weeks in 1969

Rhinestone Cowboy, pop #1 for two weeks, country #1 for three weeks, his signature song

Some Dustbury links, including Adios, recorded in 2015 but released in July 2017.

August Rambling #1: Money Never Sleeps

Lynn Mabry, Sheila E., Rebecca Jade who I hope to see perform soon


Young Troy filmmakers document Hudson River pollution

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Alex Jones and Stephen Miller

ACLU to Coal Baron Targeting John Oliver: “You Can’t Sue People for Being Mean to You, Bob”

The Ugly History of Stephen Miller’s ‘Cosmopolitan’ Epithet and White House Accuses French Woman of Spreading Pro-Immigration Propaganda (satire)

The 7 Most Mind-Boggling Moments From That Wall Street Journal Interview

He has built a White House that will only attract the worst

The Victim Of His Own Incompetence (from Red State!)

A Chilling Theory on Nonstop Lies

Why The SCARIEST NUCLEAR THREAT May Be Coming From INSIDE The White House

Call for police brutality is no joke

’80S DRUG WAR NOSTALGIA

His first media controversy – it happened in 1980

Checkpoint, U.S.A.: Crossing the border into Trump’s America

Living with a nuclear North Korea

Cabinet Secretaries Attend Bible Study Led by Pastor ‘Not Biblically Qualified for Spiritual Leadership’

Ivanka is part of the problem in the White House

From the end of June: Salary info for White House aides

Appointment Of Beaker As White House Communications Director Draws High Praise

Social justice: The Bible tells me so

Foxconn’s corporate welfare deal will cost Wisconsin taxpayers more than 3 billion dollars. No, I’m not moving from upstate New York

What a dump: Beyond the Forest (1949) with Bette Davis; Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf (1966) with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

What film features DJT and Anthony Scaramucci in cameo roles? Wall Street II: Money Never Sleeps

The 8 Worst Presidents in U.S. History, excluding the incumbent

Maybe we need a new word for ‘offended’

Being rich wrecks your soul. We used to know that


Michelle Obama on the racism and sexism she endured as the nation’s first lady

Don Baylor, who was an MVP player and person has died at the age of 68

Dick Locher, Pulitzer Prize-winning Tribune cartoonist, dies at 88

Green Corn Rebellion (Oklahoma, August 1917)

Periodic Table of Technology teaches about science and technology by showing how elements are used in everyday tech-use

Now I Know: The Very Lost Wallet and Why Barns are Red and The Number That’s Illegal to Share and Why We Wake Up With Crusty Eyes and The Poop Collector

MUSIC

For sale on eBay: heaps of classical records, courtesy NYS. I actually bid three or four times on this, getting up to $150. I was only slightly overbid – the winning offer was $1,125 But because I almost never use my eBay, the company has “reason to believe” that my “eBay account has been used fraudulently”.

The Glamorous Life – Sheila E.

Sweet Mother – Prince Nico Mbarga

Coyote – Joni Mitchell: studio version and from The Last Waltz, song about Sam Shepard

I Made A Fool Of Myself Over John Foster Dulles – Carol Burnett

Liar – Three Dog Night

Angels of Fenway- James Taylor

Wipeout – Sina

The Liquidator – Harry J All Stars

Barbara Cook, Tony Award-Winning Actress And Singer, Dies At 89

Rolling Stones Won’t Be Outdone by Beatles “Sgt Pepper” Box: Anniversary Edition “Satanic Majesties Request” on the Way – but why?

Dad’s green sweater, and other things

LesGreen.sweaterThis is unprofound: one’s age is frozen in time when one dies. Dad was 26 when I was born, so he was mostly in his 30s and 40s when I was growing up, in his 50s and 60s,when I visited him when he and mom and the “baby” sister moved to Charlotte, NC from Binghamton, NY.

But he was never young, a boy or in his teens or early twenties, at least not in my self-centered reckoning. This picture I don’t remember, and I don’t know how old he was. But I think I remember the sweater. It was a forest green sweater, and it was cream-colored, rather than white. Or so I recall.

He used to paint trees, but they were almost always barren, often in wintertime.

He was a month and a half shy of 74 Continue reading

Don’t shoot the Messinger

While sitting in the middle school parking lot, waiting for the Daughter to come home from a three-day trip to Washington, DC, we heard on the radio Randy Cohen interviewing Ruth Messinger, the liberal firebrand on the New York City Council from 1978 to 1989, representing the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Then from 1990 to 1998, she served as Manhattan borough president.

The most interesting thing she said was that she had always been very clear on her political priorities. She was pro-women’s rights, pro-choice, anti-death penalty. (I noted aloud that, over the years, I’ve been far less certain than she proclaimed to be.)

Someone in the City Council had proposed providing a needle exchange for drug addicts, a response to the HIV/AIDS crisis, in which many people spread the disease through the use of shared needles. Messinger, concerned that providing needles would only encourage the addicts to use, opposed the measure.

Ruth Messinger said that, apparently as a result of her long-standing liberal record, the bill’s supporters decided that she was, her word, “educable”. At 11:30 at night, just three miles from her posh district, bill supporters took her to meet some of the people who could be affected by the bill, with their illegally acquired, clean needles. They told their stories of addictions they could not, at that point, overcome.

Ruth Messinger changed her mind. I tell this, not on the specifics of the issue, but rather over the belief people had in her that she could be swayed by the examples.

Too often, I read about the person who, in attempting to “cross the aisle” or even sound conciliatory, is branded a traitor, a RINO (or DINO) – Republican (or Democrat) In Name Only. People who vote for a Presidential appointee that someone doesn’t like are considered irredeemable. Saying something nice about an individual from “the other side” is considered selling out.

I’ve read, in publications from both sides, that we need a new system. But short of armed insurrection, how do you get there? By working with the folks you have now without expecting ideological purity.

Most civil rights change has come from people who used to see things one way but came to believe another. That’s Politics, with a capital P. And you work electorally to remove the obstructions. It’s S-L-O-W, often intentionally so, but (crosses fingers on both hands) achievable.

E is for fireworks EAR-itation


Albany, NY has some wonderful fireworks each year on the Empire State Plaza downtown.

Unfortunately, in the past few holidays, there’s been lots of competition from private individuals, and it has only became worse in the last two years when the Albany County legislature allowed individuals to buy items that had previously been banned.

The 4th of July was on a Tuesday in 2017, but I heard what sounded like a war zone each night from the 1st through the 5th.

I did laugh nervously when the family visited a CVS drug store, in adjacent Greene County, in June. Store space devoted to the fireworks was accompanied by a sign that warned people not to smoke near them. Smoking is illegal in most stores anyway, but it such an absurdist thing to see in a building that houses medicine and a pharmacy.

The three of us traversed out to see the downtown fireworks from the soccer field behind the high school, a couple miles from downtown. I had made a point of wearing ear plugs, the kind one uses to block out snoring or the like. I was very happy about that, because the competing local ordinance was close by, and therefore LOUD.

Unfortunately, the haze from the fireworks was THICK. As someone described it, “It was like morning fog by the river in the fall.” There is a potential impact on respiratory health to boot. I’ve NEVER seen on Facebook such unanimity from all over the city, antipathy for the new law.

As it turns out, the nearby Schenectady County legislature voted to ban, again, fireworks, but it widely ignored. Easy enough to do since all the counties around Schenectady still offer them for sale.

Googling for this post, I came across this story this story about pets suffering from late night fireworks. But it was about Albany, GEORGIA. So we’re not the only Albany suffering.

Church choirs, Stacy Wilburn (and Chuck Miller?)

Did you ever do something and only later realize that there was a subtext that was totally unrelated? This would apply to my advocacy in favor of my buddy Chuck Miller, whose April 1 blog post on the Times Union site had gotten his post removed and his ability to post there suspended.

Somewhere during the various writing I did for la causa, I realized this wasn’t just about Chuck, or the misrepresentation of Chuck’s article by the newspaper’s editor as “fake news” rather than satire. It was that sense of powerlessness, being left in the dark, that resonated, rather like the events leading to leaving my old church.

Since I joined another FOCUS congregation, I have had opportunity to worship back at Trinity, the first church I joined in Albany. The former pastor has been gone for more than a decade.

The first couple times I returned there was really weird and uncomfortable, with church members cajoling and pleading me to come back. Enough time has passed – I’ve now attended First Presbyterian as long as I had attended Trinity – that it’s no longer an issue. Still, old members there greet me fondly.

I’m going to sing in the choir there again – today, actually – because one of my old choir compatriots, Quentin Stacy Wilburn, died on July 9. He usually went by Stacy, or Q. He was 91.

It’s nearly impossible to explain how tightly-knit a choir can be. I still recall that we were all together at a choir member’s house on Christmas Eve 1989 or 1990, before we were to sing, when we got the word that our tenor soloist, Sandy Cohen, had had another heart attack and died. (He’d had one before, IN CHURCH, during the service, but wouldn’t leave until he “finished the gig.”)

Until the choir director recruited more tenors, I sang tenor with Stacy for a few months, high in my range, and not as instinctive to me as the bass line.

So now we’re going to come together, Trinity folks and former Trinity folks and FOCUS church folks and friends and sing for Stacy, because that’s what choir people do.

Family health report: July 2017

The big story this summer is that the wife had surgery on the three middle toes on July 5. She had hammer toes. She didn’t have to do it now, but eventually, without being corrected, it might impact her mobility as she gets older.

The surgery was very successful. Her response, in terms of limited swelling, et al, was very good, her doctor told her at every followup visit.

One of the things we have both discovered, with my hernia surgery a couple years ago and her recent surgery, is that the cycle of pain is quite fascinating. Right after the surgery, when you get home, you feel really great. The anesthetic has not yet worn off.

Then the pain starts to creep in, and you better start taking that opiod right way, because if you decide to tough it out, it will take longer to get relief. But the prescription lasts only a couple days. It’s less than what you want, and you start taking the over-the-counter stuff, and for longer that you think, hopefully without ruining your liver.

You start to feel better and you inevitably overdo. The Wife is even worse in this regard than I. When she walked too much, and didn’t put her foot up, she is surprised how much it still hurts three or four weeks on.

Meanwhile, I chipped a tooth, for which I’m getting a filling on August 13. More significantly, both in terms of time, pain, and money, I’m getting a crown on September 13.

the Daughter noticed a mark in the whites of my right eye at the end of the month. It was a vertical red line that looks as though someone had drawn it with a Sharpie. The very next day, I went to my ophthalmologist, who said it was a broken blood vessel, and that it would resolve itself. It looked much worse than it felt.

Music Throwback: Good Day Sunshine

In the early 1990s, Paul McCartney appeared on Later with Bob Costas, a late night program on NBC-TV. The host asked Paul what Beatles covers that he most enjoyed. We Can Work It Out by Stevie Wonder was named, as well he should.

Paul also mentioned Roy Redmond’s version of Good Day Sunshine, which he acknowledged was a rather obscure track. In fact, the ONLY reason I know it is because it appears on one of those Warner Brothers Loss Leaders that I collected in the 1970s. COOK BOOK, from 1977, focused “on Warner’s black acts,” which were negligible only a few years earlier.

This version was released as Loma 2075 way back in July 1967. The B-side of the single was That Old Time Feeling. Oddly, It would appear that Roy Redmond recorded two 45s – both on Loma… – and then, mysteriously, nothing more.

The other single, from April 1967, was Ain’t That Terrible/A Change Is Gonna Come. Yes, the latter is the Sam Cooke song.

“Loma Records was established in 1964 in order for Warner Brothers to capitalize on the emerging soul market – but almost exclusively as a singles label. Bob Krasnow, who ran the San Francisco branch of King Records from 1958-1964, was tapped by Warner Brothers to run Loma Records from its founding until the label ceased operations in 1968.”

Redmond’s Good Day Sunshine was in the middle of three Beatles songs on COOK BOOK, codifying yet again that the effect black music had on the Beatles was reciprocated.

Randy Crawford’s version of Don’t Let Me Down appears on her 1976 album Every Must Change. The Long and Winding Road was a 1976 B-side to a song called Hurry, Hurry by New Birth, “the Detroit band that helped invent American funk music.”

Listen to:

Don’t Let Me Down – Randy Crawford here or here

Good Day Sunshine – Roy Redmond here or here

The Long and Winding Road – New Birth here or here

Miss Sill Laney, Us; National Parks, Sam Shepard

The National Parks Service offers a Senior Pass for those who visit national parks, a lifetime card for those 62 and over. I have one, and I assuredly recommend it. But the government is raising the price from $10 to $80 as of August 28, 2017.

The NPS, unsurprisingly, is experiencing a backlog of Senior Pass orders. “If you need your pass in less than three months, consider purchasing your pass at the first site you visit,” which will also avoid the $10 processing fee.
***
I know I saw True West, the Sam Shepard play, fairly early after its 1980 debut. I think it was at Union College in Schenectady, but I can’t swear to that.

Shepard, unfortunately, died at the age of 73, a result of complications from ALS. And I got only sadder reading My Buddy by Patti Smith.

Critics for The New York Times on Sam Shepard’s Plays, Books, and Movies.

This quote was attributed to him: “Democracy’s a very fragile thing. You have to take care of democracy. As soon as you stop being responsible to it and allow it to turn into scare tactics, it’s no longer democracy, is it?”
***
There was a CBS lawyer drama called Doubt in February of 2017 on CBS. Two episodes aired and it was canceled, actually before I saw it. Now the remaining shows are being burned off over the summer, but only some are being broadcast. So if you happen to have On Demand, the listings will show for July 1, 8A, 8B, 15, 22A, 22B, 29. The B shows never aired, so if you had watched the episodes that were on TV on the 22nd and 29th, you’d see the beginning of the 29th ep, hear “Previously on ‘Doubt,” and wonder, “When did THAT happen?”
***
Were You There When They Crucified Our Lord? by Linda Bonney Olin is now live on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback editions, for those of you who don’t think Christianity is that weird. I should note that 1) Linda is the wife of my wife’s cousin Bill, and 2) I was one of the people who proofread the book.
***
Ever notice how people put info on social media and you want to know more? “A 3-9 putout” in a baseball game, or “If true, he should resign.” Which game, and how did it happen? If WHAT is true? WHO should resign? OK, I can guess who.

Why I left my previous church

I started looking for a church to attend in Albany shortly after I had sung in the church choir back in my hometown of Binghamton, NY (Trinity AME Zion) in May of 1982 for my maternal grandmother’s funeral. I used to attend there regularly, but for over a decade after high school, I fell away for all sorts of reasons.

The first visit to Trinity United Methodist was June 13, which I remember because the pastor, Stan Moore, spoke positively of the anti-nuke demonstration in Manhattan I had attended the day before.

Not only did I join the choir that December, but eventually became president of the Administrative Board (think Congress) and the Council on Ministries (think the US Cabinet) at different times, not to mention leading a social group called the Ogden Fellowship and participating in a book club for well over a decade. I even put together the church’s community page online.

But the pastor was pushing for a more “efficient” form of church governance, one that was allowed by the United Methodist Church. I specifically remember one church member, one of the choir folks, ask, reasonably, “Where are the checks and balances?” More than one person shouted him down; “give it a chance.”

So the church was then run my the pastor and his small cabal. There were no regular church meetings unless called by said group or by 10% of the membership, and the latter meeting could only be done about that stated topic. That 10%, BTW, included shut-ins and members who were away, so it was a difficult threshold.

So when the SECOND Spanish-speaking congregation was forced out in January 2000 by the pastor, with the ascent the District Superintendent, less than two months after the English-speaking congregation overwhelmingly agreed that they should stay, I was furious. Extra copies of the letter to the Hispanic congregation from the DS I was passing out to the “Anglo” congregation, because they had NO idea this was going down, which was the whole idea.

I was attending the Hispanic service only because the choir of the Anglo had been suspended by the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee, which had no authority to do so – long story, but it was basically bogus. And the meeting in March to try to “reconcile” the situation was one-sided and terribly handled.

But I didn’t leave over the choir suspension or the Hispanic congregation getting the boot. I left because the church, in ceding its power to essentially one person, provided no way to respond to the injustices. No Administrative Board to appeal to.

The new system WAS more efficient. Efficiency in church governance is HIGHLY overrated.

I brought this up now for a specific reason, which I’ll write about soon.