Friday, October 29, 2021

Into the Mystic x 3

The Original and Always the Best, Van Morrison, from the Classic Album “Moondance” (1970)

My absolute favorite part of this great song starts at 2:18 ...

When that foghorn blows 
You know I will be coming home 
Yeah when that foghorn whistle blows
I got to hear it, I don’t have to fear it
And I want to rock your gypsy soul ...

Those vocals ... chills, every time. 

Zac Brown Band, “Free/Into the Mystic” (Live from Southern Ground HQ, year unknown)

The Allman Brothers (Live, 2011)

Thursday, October 28, 2021

This Week in History: Shootout at the O.K. Corral

Oct 26, 1881: Shootout at the O.K. Corral

On October 26, 1881, the Earp brothers face off against the Clanton-McLaury gang in a legendary shootout at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. After silver was discovered nearby in 1877, Tombstone quickly grew into one of the richest mining towns in the Southwest. Wyatt Earp, a former Kansas police officer working as a bank security guard, and his brothers, Morgan and Virgil, the town marshal, represented “law and order” in Tombstone, though they also had reputations as being power-hungry and ruthless. The Clantons and McLaurys were cowboys who lived on a ranch outside of town and sidelined as cattle rustlers, thieves and murderers. In October 1881, the struggle between these two groups for control of Tombstone and Cochise County ended in a blaze of gunfire at the OK Corral.

LOL “sidelined as cattle rustlers, thieves, and murderers ... that’s more of a lifestyle than a sideline gig, I would say.

Tombstone, near the Mexican border, was quite the growing boomtown in 1881:

At its founding, it had a population of just 100, and only two years later, in late 1881, the population was more than 7,000 (excluding Chinese, Mexicans, women, and children), making it the largest boomtown in the American Southwest. Silver mining and its attendant wealth attracted many professionals and merchants, who brought their wives and families. With them came churches and ministers. By 1881 the town boasted fancy restaurants, a bowling alley, four churches, an ice house, a school, an opera house, two banks, three newspapers, and an ice cream parlor, along with 110 saloons, 14 gambling halls, and numerous brothels, all situated among a number of dirty, hardscrabble mines.

One hundred ten saloons and fourteen gambling halls and many brothels ... in a town of 7000! 

While all that debauchery was going on with the newfound silver wealth, the law enforcement situation was more than a little hazy (from above link):

Horse rustlers and bandits from the countryside often came to town, and shootings were frequent. In the 1880s, illegal smuggling and theft of cattle, alcohol, and tobacco smuggling across the Mexico–United States border, about 30 miles (50 km) from Tombstone, were common. The Mexican government assessed heavy export taxes on these items, and smugglers earned a handsome profit by stealing them in Mexico and selling them across the border.
James, Virgil, and Wyatt Earp arrived in Tombstone on December 1, 1879, when the small town was mostly composed of tents as living quarters, a few saloons and other buildings, and the mines. Virgil had been hired as Deputy U.S. Marshal for eastern Pima County, with his offices in Tombstone, only days before his arrival. In June 1881 he was also appointed as Tombstone's town marshal (or police chief).
Though not universally liked by the townspeople, the Earps tended to protect the interests of the town's business owners and residents; even so, Wyatt helped protect Cowboy "Curly Bill" Brocius from being lynched after he accidentally killed Tombstone town marshal Fred White. In contrast, Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan was generally sympathetic to the interests of the rural ranchers and members of the loosely organized outlaw group called the Cochise County Cowboys, or simply the Cowboys. (In that time and region, the term cowboy generally meant an outlaw; legitimate cowmen were instead referred to as cattle herders or ranchers.)

There’s so much more to this story ... read more at the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Wikipedia entry.

Learning about just this one story serves as a good introduction to the Wild West and what made it distinctive in American history: boomtowns with their huge and immediate wealth and the hedonistic lifestyle that comes with it, conflicts between ranchers and townfolk, a law-and-order situation that was fluid to say the least complete with gun battles in public, and more.

Were I to design an American History curriculum, this story would be in it:  it’s a real event with real people and it illustrates so much about life during that time.

Several movies were made about this historic Wild West shootout, most famously My Darling Clementine and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

My Latest Favorite Show Ever: Homestead Rescue

A few days ago as I was scrolling through our cable channel listing I happened upon a show I had never heard of, called Homestead Rescue.

Since I was feeling adventurous and had a bit of time to kill, I clicked on it.

I liked it immediately. We watched the full episode and part of another, and then I watched a couple more the next day, and the day after that. 

It’s pretty unique. A family of born-and-raised homesteaders — father Marty Raney and his two adult children Matt and Misty — helps families in trouble who have tried to make homesteading work for them but failing in some key way that threatens their physical and emotional health related to crops or livestock, a reliable energy source, drinking water, predator or wildfire problems, etc.

Homesteading means living off the grid and eating only what you kill and grow. Every essential safety and survival skill is provided by you and your family.

That means that bears and wildfires are serious business, existential immediate threats rather than distant theoretical threats as seen by pampered city dwellers who depend on others for every survival need.

In the wild, you actually need firearms and chainsaws and knives to survive. 

From the show’s website:

In the last decade, two million Americans have attempted to leave behind civilization in favor of life off-the-grid - but most have failed. For the hundreds of families who decide to become homesteaders, the learning curve is a steep one. On Homestead Rescue, struggling homesteaders across the country are turning expert homesteader Marty Raney - along with his daughter Misty Raney, a farmer, and son Matt Raney, a hunter and fisherman - to teach them the necessary skills to survive the wilderness. The stakes are high, but the Raney family is determined to prepare these families for nature's worst and set them up for success. Each family faces the ultimate decision: will they tough out their first year or pack up and return to civilization?

So the basic premise of the show, obviously, is teaching these people basic survival skills — hunting, farming, power generation, water for drinking and irrigation, keeping your family safe while surrounded by threats 24x7 — thus enabling them to survive and ultimately thrive.

But as I watched it something else became clear — growth as people and within families, and committment to the lifestyle are essential parts of the puzzle, too. Buried emotional family drama is frequently uncovered when — as in one episode in season 2 — a dad decides to move the family from an urban setting to a remote wilderness when kids are young, and those kids may harbor resentment over living someone else’s dream, but they also feel needed and don’t want to let dad down, so they are conflicted and therefore not fully committed to the lifestyle. 

Then by learning new skills which permits them to feel more comfortable with the lifestyle, they can let go of the resentment. The more skills you acquire, the better prepared you are to help others, not just with practical life skills, but with emotional support too. 

And the problem-solver inside me loves the different ways they hack together water-delivery systems, greenhouses that trap heat during the day and release it at night even in cold climates, and all kinds of other clever things.

I’m not sure if I’m cut out to live that lifestyle because I like my R&R too much, but it’s fascinating to get a glimpse of modern-day people living an 1880s lifestyle and not just making it work, but thriving. 


Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Remembering Jay Black of “Jay & The Americans”

Last week Jay Black of Jay & the Americans passed away at 82.

Here’s “Come A Little Bit Closer” (#3 in 1964).

Incredible vocals. The first Top Ten hit from the legendary songwriting team of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, and it was recorded in a hurry at the end of a recording session — no doubt on the first take, live with no overdubs. 

That’s often the secret ingredient behind hit recordings: do it once and do it right, capture the feeling, release it, watch it rise up the charts.

From the same album, “Only in America”. Reached #25 in 1964. Still heard today on any decent Oldies or 1960s radio (in Chicago the best by far is 87.7 — sadly, no streaming service). 

Even more amazing vocals on “Cara Mia”, #4 in 1965. Jay Black has that distinctive sound of someone who is not only blessed with a great voice but has had excellent vocal training in opera, theatre or choral singing of some kind — your typical good rock band singer just cannot sing like this and wouldn’t even try.

In 1969 they released an album of their favorite oldies “Sands of Time” which reveals deep 1950s doo-wop and R&B crooner influences, and it’s filled with quality versions of several such tunes, like “This Magic Moment”, a hit for them in 1969 (original by The Drifters”) plus a very good version of “So Much in Love”, a hit originally by The Tymes. 

Here’s both versions of “So Much in Love”, just because it’s such a great song.

It also has “Gypsy Woman” written by Curtis Mayfield of The Impressions, plus much more. Fans of the style will want to give the album a try.

Monday, October 25, 2021

World Series is Set: Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves


Click photo (or here) to go to World Series summary

I have to pull for Atlanta here, a team that nobody expected to do anything in the postseason — and with the fewest wins in the regular season of any playoff team — but by executing better they have defeated all comers.

This is the ultimate beauty of tournaments and why I always watch them in any sport — nothing matters but execution. 

Reputation doesn’t matter, media attention doesn’t matter, having high-priced free agents and crazy levels of homegrown talent doesn’t matter — only execution matters. I’m speaking about the Dodgers here ... and for me, nothing is sweeter than watching such teams check out early. Buh-bye! Have fun writing those giant checks!

Also, I still haven’t moved on from Houston’s cheating scandal from 2019. Most likely never will. 

Game 1 & 2 in Houston the 26th and 27th, travel day the 28th.

Game 3, 4, & 5 in Atlanta the 29th, 30th, 31st, travel day Nov 1st.

Game 6 & 7 in Houston Nov 2nd and 3rd. 

All games start 7:00 CT.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Feels Like a Van Gogh Friday

Avenue of Poplars at Sunset, 1884

Wheatfield with Crows, 1890

Two Cypresses, 1889

My eye is drawn to this style and therefore to Vincent Van Gogh (among others) for the extremely vivid contrast and texture that makes them leap out at you visually. 

Post-Impressionism, they call it. I just like it because I like it.

Chet Atkins and Don McLean, “Vincent”

The story behind the writing of “Vincent” ... 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Louis Jordan: Possibly the Greatest Band You’ve Never Heard Of

This band helped set the stage in the mid-1940s for rock ‘n roll ten years later but nobody knows them today and that’s a shame, because this is great stuff in its own right.

They called him “King of the Jukebox” for a reason. 

Rather than me spending time and a bunch of words trying to tell you why it’s great, you could listen to a few tunes and hear it for yourself. Let’s do that.

Listen to the way this tune swings ... Caldonia, 1945

Slowing it down a bit ... the classic Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby, 1944

A live version of the classic Let The Good Times Roll, sometime in the 40s

This tune is rollicking barrelhouse piano and funny too ... just a good time and you will want to hear it again ... Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens, Original 1947 

Same, 1956 rock ‘n roll version ... not necessarily better I would say, just different ...


Same, Live 1974 ... very hot

More from his Wikipedia entry

Jordan was a talented singer with great comedic flair, and he fronted his own band for more than twenty years. He duetted with some of the biggest solo singing stars of his time, including Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Jordan was also an actor and a film personality—he appeared in dozens of "soundies" (promotional film clips); the one for "Caldonia" is the most readily available for viewing on various websites. He also made numerous cameos in mainstream features and short films, and starred in two musical feature films made especially for him. He was an instrumentalist who played all forms of the saxophone but specialized in the alto. He also played the piano and clarinet.

Jordan began his career in big-band swing jazz in the 1930s, but he became known as one of the leading practitioners, innovators and popularizers of jump blues, a swinging, up-tempo, dance-oriented hybrid of jazz, blues and boogie-woogie. Typically performed by smaller bands consisting of five or six players, jump music featured shouted, highly syncopated vocals and earthy, comedic lyrics on contemporary urban themes. It strongly emphasized the rhythm section of piano, bass and drums; after the mid-1940s, this mix was often augmented by electric guitar. Jordan's band also pioneered the use of the electronic organ.

With his dynamic Tympany Five bands, Jordan mapped out the main parameters of the classic R&B, urban blues and early rock-and-roll genres with a series of highly influential 78-rpm discs released by Decca Records. These recordings presaged many of the styles of black popular music of the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s and exerted a strong influence on many leading performers in these genres. Many of his records were produced by Milt Gabler, who went on to refine and develop the qualities of Jordan's recordings in his later production work with Bill Haley, including "Rock Around the Clock".

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Top 10 Bob Uecker Quotes

Bob Uecker was a major league baseball player — barely — back in the 1960s, who as we all discovered later was also one of the funniest people on the planet. A natural joke writer with great deadpan delivery, he appeared on Johnny Carson many times

He became an announcer for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1971, shortly after his retirement — he says he knew it was over when his baseball card came out with no picture — and still does their games today at age 87. 

  1. I think my top salary was maybe in 1966. I made $17,000 and 11 of that came from selling other players' equipment.
  2. In 1962 I was named Minor League Player of the Year. It was my second season in the bigs.
  3. The biggest thrill a ballplayer can have is when your son takes after you. That happened when my Bobby was in his championship Little League game. He really showed me something. Struck out three times. Made an error that lost the game. Parents were throwing things at our car and swearing at us as we drove off. Gosh, I was proud.
  4. Between me and my roommate, we've hit 400 Major League home runs.
  5. I remember one time I'm batting against the Dodgers in Milwaukee. They lead, 2 - 1, it's the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, two out and the pitcher has a full count on me. I look over to the Dodger dugout and they're all in street clothes.
  6. The way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until it stops rolling and then pick it up.
  7. I spent three of the best years of my life in 10th grade.
  8. I led the league in go get 'em next time.
  9. Sporting goods companies pay me not to endorse their products.
  10. The highlight of my baseball career came in Philadelphia's Connie Mack Stadium when I saw a fan fall out of the upper deck. When he got up and walked away, the crowd booed.

Another quote I like: "I hope the fans have enjoyed listening as much as I've enjoyed doing the games. I don't ever go to the park where I don't have a good day. I don't like losing. But I don't think I ever go to the park where I have a bad day. I don't think once."

Fans know and quote his lines from the movie "Major League" at every opportunity ... “juuuust a bit outside” ...

He’s a good broadcaster too ...

There’s a good Twitter account for baseball quotes at

Quotes above pulled from

Monday, October 18, 2021

Fall is Here

A Chill is in the Air

And I like it. I like it a lot. 

I like the chill in the morning where I keep my coffee warm like this. 

Fall was always my favorite season ever since I was a kid ... not exactly sure why really. 

I like the chill in the air, wearing jackets and sweatshirts, and not feeling hot and sweaty everytime you go outside. I like the way morning frost puts a layer of white on top of the green grass. 

I like October and watching the World Series, a tradition I started in 1967 with the Cardinals and Red Sox.

But most of all I like the sounds and smells of fall. 

These are some of my strongest memories from my childhood ... falling leaves and the way they crunch when you walk on them, the way they smell when you burn them ... 

I can clearly recall in my mind being at my Grandma Jackson’s house with my mom when I was very young — probably 6-7 years old. 

The neighbors had all raked their leaves into piles in the street and one Saturday night everyone came out to the curb and burned them and roasted marshmallows and talked. 

I don’t remember much about it except watching the leaves burn and smelling that beautiful smell, and even today, that smell instantly brings this visual memory back with great clarity.

They say smells trigger our strongest memories because they have the strongest connection to emotions, and for me this is probably the strongest such connection:  the smell of burning leaves and that one night from many many years ago.

Another reason for the strength of this emotional connection for me, I’m sure, is that I always liked going to her house because my Uncle Bill lived there — he was was just a kid too, only a few years older than me, more like an older brother really — and we always had great fun together. 

Of course nobody born after 1970 or so has such memories since we legislated away childhood memories connecting anything pleasant with the smell of burning leaves. Smart move.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Rick Beato and I Revisit Classic Tunes from Chicago II

His latest “What Makes This Song Great” video is about the first single he ever bought, Make Me Smile.

He played it all the time, and so did I, on the album Chicago II that is full of great music, like 25 or 6 to 4 and Colour My World — both top 10 hits, along with Make Me Smile —- plus several other gems such as Wake Up Sunshine and Fancy Colours and Now More Than Ever.

In fact, both Make Me Smile and Colour My World were part of a 7 song suite written by trombone player James Pankow called “Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon” about his trying to win back his former fiancee. Now More Than Ever is the finale of the suite, and quite a finale it is.

Rick calls particular attention to Terry Kath’s vocals and guitar — Kath was the power and “guts” of the sound of this band, with his powerful urgent vocals — and Danny Seraphine’s excellent drumming, and these are my two favorite musicians in a band of incredible original artistry and musicianship. 

But the best part of this great song is the instrumental break with the horns leading into the guitar solo ... “wow” is all I can say. Rick breaks it down in detail. 

Make Me Smile has always been one of my favorite songs, from when I was 10 years old, and it sounds better and better all the time even as I learn more about music. 

Now More Than Ever is a variation on Make Me Smile, where the band rocks out for 1:24 with more amazing vocals by Kath — this guy did not get nearly enough credit for his vocals, probably because his guitar playing was even better — and more incredible drumming by Seraphine. The whole band is unbelievably great here, and for my money this 1:24 chunk of music is definitely some of their best work in their entire history.

Wake Up Sunshine:

Fancy Colours (it starts quietly but do not fear, it gets plenty loud):

The classic and iconic Chicago II album cover art:

This was the first use of the group name Chicago, the first use of the iconic logo which was used on every subsequent album, and the true beginning of their run of incredible hits and overall great music in the 70s. 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

74 Years Ago Today: Chuck Yeager Breaks the Sound Barrier

It was October 14, 1947. 

Everyone who has ever flown in a plane owes Gen. Yeager, and all the other test pilots who risked death on a daily basis all those years ago, a debt of gratitude, but most people have no idea about him or his life or why any of this matters.

It was such a big deal at the time — a strategic military and national security advantage — that the U.S. did not even announce it until many months later, in June 1948.

Many experts believed it was impossible to break the sound barrier, and anyone who tried would die a violent death due to the aircraft shaking apart or exploding. The flight controls on the aircraft at the time would freeze up and incredible turbulence would make it shake uncontrollably. 

Of course, this required completely new designs for the test aircraft, but nobody really knew what would happen when exceeding Mach I. Someone had to just do it and hope for the best. 

From my earlier post on Gen. Yeager:

It was all experimentation all the time, and every test pilot that wedged themselves into any of these experimental aircraft to go faster and higher than anyone had every flown, into the upper reaches of our atmosphere, almost into space, was risking death at any moment.

The Bell X-1 had no ejection capability, and exiting through the side door was a sure decapitation via the wing. You were trapped in an experimental aircraft. Good luck!

They did this every day. That was the job. Some of their test pilot friends did not make it due to the daily risk of “augering in” or crashing into the desert.

A good thing to remember next time things aren’t going your way.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

New Artist Discovery: Tray Wellington

While visiting relatives I had access to Sirius/XM radio and took the opportunity to explore the Bluegrass channel. 

One artist I immediately liked was Tray Wellington, a banjo player. 

On Spotify and probably other streaming services, but here’s a few of the tunes from Youtube.

Nashville Skyline Rag

Half Past Four

Ornithology (a classic Charlie Parker tune)

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Through the Driver’s Window at Speed

Wednesday Oct 6 Around 6pm ... Somewhere Near Mattoon, IL on I-57 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Two Artworks

Vastly Different Styles

Pendergast, Docks, East Boston, 1904

Van Gogh, Two Cypresses, 1889

Friday, October 08, 2021

The Story Behind “Baby I Love Your Way”

Peter Frampton talks about it.

Artistry and ability aside — and maybe it’s just me — but it’s impossible not to like Peter Frampton as a human being. 

Friendly, engaging, self-deprecating, warm, funny, great listener and conversationalist ... just a solid guy who happens to be a great guitar player that recorded the biggest-selling live album in history, 40 million copies or some incredible number like that.

He wasn’t sure if “Baby I Love Your Way” was any good — !!! — until he got confirmation from friends and bandmates. 

He’s got a new biography out (“Do You Feel Like I Do”) and is very frank about all the low points in his life instead of pretending it was all sunshine and rainbows.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

13 Days on the Road, So ...

 ... Take Me Home, Country Roads

A perfect blend of performer and material ... “The Petersens”.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

MLB Playoffs 2021 Tracker

Begins Tuesday Oct 5

Complete playoff bracket

World Series is currently Atlanta 3, Houston 2 

Updated playoff bracket from the site:


I will track results on this page for the duration of the playoffs.


World Series


Round 2


ATL over LAD 4-2


HOU over BOS 4-2

Round 1


LAD over SFG 3-2

ATL over MIL 3-1


HOU over CHW 3-1

BOS over TB 3-1

Wild Card Round

LAD over STL

BOS over NYY

Monday, October 04, 2021

More Gems from Nanci Griffith

Maybe Tomorrow

If Wishes Were Changes

You Made This Love a Teardrop 

Friday, October 01, 2021

A Few Minutes with “Peg”

Walter Becker and Donald Fagen

Professor of Rock

Solo by Jay Graden

Steely Dan, “Peg”