Friday, June 30, 2017

The Man of the Hour is Taking His Final Bow

Someone once belittled this song as being from Pearl Jam's "Daddy Issues" period. Me thinks the critic doth protest too much. We all have to come to terms with who our Fathers are. Mine ran off on my Mom us when I was five, was an alcoholic, then a convict, then finally a recovering alcoholic. He was shot and killed in 1987 by my stepmother - ironically the one he left my Mom for. It tore our family apart. 

For all his flaws and failings, I loved my Dad, though. But for most of my life, I stayed at arm's length. Dad tried to close the gap one summer when I worked for him setting foundations and laying brick. Dad even tried to apologize to me for his colorful past in front of an AA meeting. The gesture meant a lot to me. A former rodeo cowboy and fisherman, Dad was something of a character. People liked him. And like a lot of colorful characters, Dad died too young.

I'm not a big Pearl Jam fan, but this song speaks to me. I heard it first during the credits to the film Big Fish which was a film about a son with father issues and how he resolved them by accepting his Dad as he was. I think I may have closed the gap with my own sons, though maybe not as well as I would have liked. It was just in time with the middle boy. He died at age 28 and I failed to revive him. Fathers should not outlive their sons. I hope we got everything said between us. For some reasons our last few weeks together were a series of heart-to-heart talks. I miss him. The eldest is also far away so that we have to communicate in writing.

Daughters are another matter for fathers. My own daughter is more comfortable around me to say the least. She is all prepared to take over bossing me around if my wife ever falls down on the job. She calls a couple of times a year to give me a lecture. I was actually hoping my grandkids would like me, but I fear my branch of the King genetic line is fixing to become extinct. And I was already ready for them too.

Here's Pearl Jam with "Man of the Hour".

Happy belated Father's Day to anyone I missed.  Hug your kids. They need you whether they know it or not.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Caledonia is Callin' Me

...and I'm goin' home.

This lovely little ballad captures my mood sometimes living out here on the left coast 3000 miles away from Texas, my own, my native land. Dougie Maclean has a habit of writing songs I like. I think I'll post another of his for Sabbath. It wasn't exactly intended to be a Christian song, but Dougie captured another Christian theme quite inadvertently. The Scots have a gift for that, given their long and turbulent Christian history. Whatever the Lairds were up to, the crofters and the workmen of Scotland were drawn to the infinite. I think it may be the hills and the skies.

Anyway, here's Dougie Maclean with "Caledonia":

Monday, June 26, 2017

I Will

This is an old Beatles song as done by bluegrass sensation, Alison Krauss, who has won more Grammy awards (27 wins, 41 nominations) than any other female singer in any genre and who ranks tied for second overall. This song was written by Paul McCartney, though Lennon-McCartney gets credit on the album cover, though it contains several signature McCartney marks. It was released on the album "The Beatles", the one with the green apple on the record.

This live version is nice, though the one on her album has a more prominent banjo line that I like much better. In fact, I think I'll include a link to it and to Paul McCartney's own recording (sans Beatles). 

This song gets me. It's got a permanent place on my love songs playlist.  Here's Alison live:

Here's the better version with the nice strong banjo line:

And here is Sir Paul all by his lonesome with his left-handed acoustic guitar with a very nice version of his song, "I Will".

I love that signature McCartney high note in there. This song expresses the longing for that one special person that makes your life complete. Here rattling down toward the end of my life, I realize what an awful hole it would make to lose that person and how much I have to trust in God to make it come out all right end the end.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Come and Go With Me to My Father's Big House

Okay, Audio Adrenaline is not solemn worship music. It's a bunch of hyper guys singing songs about Jesus and they do get a bit rowdy. I've included the studio version which keeps the song between the ditches a little better than it does when the boys are over-stimulated by being before a crowd.

That said, we stole this song and sang it for Sabbath School at Tyler. The kids loved it and my guitar playing youths began taking it to, shall we say, more energetic levels.  For an old guy like me the song gets me woke up on Sabbath morning so I can make it through the sermon without snoring. Hey, I'm old. It happens.  The pastor used to use all those white heads doing the Sabbath sermon head bob as his cue to wind it up and get everyone off to potluck before he lost half his congregation to the sandman.

Anyway, here's the studio version of a song that seems to be based on an old camp meeting song we used to do when I was a kid - "Come and Go With Me, To My Father's House".  We used to put that kind of enthusiasm into the original when we were kids.

Once in a while it's good to do an old-fashioned gospel song that makes you want to shout for joy. This song is one of those!

My Generation

The Zimmers recreate the Beatles iconic Abby Road photo.

This week I got deep into a federal grant and didn't post any new songs. This is my secular song for the week. It's by a lovely group of senior citizens. The thing was first done about ten years ago. The group is called The Zimmers. Their lead singer here is 90 years old. He's since passed on and more boomers have filled in the lower ranks. They had a run on both Britain's Got Talent and America's Got Talent and people really love them.  It's appropriate that their first number is The Who's "Talkin' 'bout My Generation".

These guys are really fun and the song is on my mp3 player don't ya' know!

And THAT my friend was the world's oldest Rock Band. They are collectively 3000 years old between them. I find that inspiring and encouraging.

Just sayin',

Tom King

Saturday, June 17, 2017



It's another Sabbath and it's kind of lonely up here in Washington. I miss my Tyler Church. This song is dear to me. It was written by my sons Matt and Micah and sung by my daughter, Meghan, her friend Lexa Arante, and my son Matthew singing and on guitar and accompanied by Scott Houghton and Dunn Arante at the Tyler SDA church. Micah was already gone by then. I remember how nervous he would have been up front. He used to visibly tremble when he got up front to sing. What was amazing was how willing he was to get up front and tell a story or do something. His children's stories were epic.  Matt wrote the tune, but the lyrics were Micah's.

Here's "The Miracle is Me."

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Singing Frog

Okay, one of my favorite songs is sung by a banjo-playing puppet frog and I am not ashamed!  It's been done by other better singers like Kenny Loggins, Sarah McLachlan, Willie Nelson and Weezer, but my favorite by far is by Kermit the Frog as gently voiced by Jim Henson. A banjo playing frog singing on a lily pad in the middle of a swamp just appeals to me for some reason.

Here it is:

If you'd like to explore some other versions, here you are.  First up - Kenny Loggins:

Here's Sarah McLachlan's version:

And Willie Nelson's (next to Kermit, I like Willie's):

Here's Judy Collins' version:

Here's a version by (believe it or not) The Carpenters:

Here's Paul Williams. He wrote the original song. He gets all chatty before he sings it, but it's worth hearing if only to listen to the guy that wrote it.

And finally this sweet little version by Weezer and Hayley Williams

It's just a sweet little love song about yearning for peace and love and connectedness.  Seems a lot of people like that idea.

Tom KIng

Monday, June 12, 2017


I actually got unfriended by someone the other day. It's actually not that unusual for me. I tend to be on the outspoken side of the conversational spectrum and there are some folks who cannot bear to be contradicted. It's not just politics. I've lost both hard left and hard right "friends" who apparently were only friends so long as I did not bring up any good points when I disagreed with them.

My musical tastes are distinctly unserious, though I can blubber along over a sad love song with the best of them. Of course one of my favorites, "I've Got Tears in My Ears From Lying on My Back, Crying My Heart Out Over You" probably crosses over several musical genres in a way unlikely to draw it any Grammy or CMA awards.

One of my favorite unserious, yet at the same time strangely poignant musicians, is the inimitable Garrison Keillor, star to the long-running radio show, A Prairie Home Companion. That Keillor makes a living with a live radio show is a testament to both his talent and mule-headedness in this era of on-demand videos and Mp3 players.

This Keillor song addresses the issue I brought up in the first paragraph of this weblog - unfriending. In true Garrison Keillor fashion, the song gently sticks a pin in the over-inflated self-importance of the Facebook Generation.  I liked it so much that I put it on my Mp3 player!

Here's another version (he changes them almost every performance.  This is the funniest one and the one that I have on my Mp3 player.

The last one is my favorite version.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

God and Dog

Our Daisy
This song makes me cry every time. I tried to sing it for church one time and it made me tear up. The woman who wrote it, Wendy Francisco is the wife of the Don Francisco who wrote "He's Alive".  She has in this brief song, captured what all of us, who have dogs as family members, feel about our canine family members.

She even turned this song into a children's book which also makes me cry. We lost our little gift from God dog, Daisy, last year which makes it worse when I listen to this song. She was everything this song talks about. Even the way we found her was something of a miracle. It was more like she found us. She was well behaved. Instantly house-broken, she had no bad habits to speak of and she came at a time when we needed her, even though we didn't know we did.

I firmly believe dogs also serve God like furry little angels and I pray that God returns my Daisy to us in the New Earth. I can hardly imagine heaven without her tagging alongside us everywhere we go.

I figure if God can resurrect something as complicated as a human being, our kind Father in Heaven won't mind giving us back the dogs that loved us and stuck by us through good times and bad. Someone once told me dogs couldn't be saved because they don't have souls. I don't think that's an issue. Daisy was knit to our souls in her short time here. I suspect that God will allow us to bring her along on our eternal journey. Why wouldn't He? 

Here's Wendy Francisco's version of her song, "God and Dog"

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

I AM an Ape Man

This is such an odd little song. First time I heard it, I hearkened back to my youth when I used to climb the trees every morning and wake the neighbors doing my Tarzan yell! I was a weird little kid back then. This is also the opening theme to Robin Williams' singular film, "Club Paradise" which I really liked, the critics notwithstanding.

I've always been fascinated by Tarzan. He's a hero figure and kind of a lonely guy living there among the apes. It's hard not to become one of the apes if you ever grow up to have any power over others, especially when the apes used to push you around when you were little. The great temptation is, as another song I posted earlier put it, to be "sittin' around in some junglescape, dumb as an ape doin' nothing."  I admit it. The whole jungle thing appeals to me.

So here are The Kinks with a live version of their classic, "Ape Man".

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Somewhere Over the Rainbow What a Wonderful World

I first heard this song in a gentle Adam Sandler/Jodie Foster movie, set in Hawaii, called 50 First Dates.  The artist singing this unusual mashup version of a pair of pop tunes was a gentle giant of a man Hawaiian song-writer Israel "Iz" Kamakawiwo'ole. The song is a plain unadorned medley of what I think are the masterpiece songs of two other singers - Judy Garland and Louis Armstrong. The only accompaniment is Iz strumming gently on his ukulele.

Iz kind of mangles the lyrics if you're a music purists. If you're an old folkie like me, however, Iz shows us the folk music process, drawing from the song the bits he likes in the order that, to him, best says what he wants it to say. The result is a gentle musical idyll that takes you to the beach by a campfire with stars overhead and invokes an appreciation for the wonderful world God has made and the world that is to come some day, over the rainbow.

Iz did a lot of sweet music over his short life. He, like his father, died young. I look forward to seeing Iz again in the New World, healed of his infirmities and forever young. For Israel Kamakawiwo'ole was a Christian I discovered. He embraced Christianity while very much maintaining his connection with his Hawaiian heritage.  His music is peaceful and lovely; something we need in this hard old world sometimes.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Whip Crack Away!

When I was a young man I had a terrible crush on Doris Day. This song is from my favorite Doris Day musical - Calamity Jane. Now I know that Calamity Jane looked nothing like Doris Day and her relationship with Bill Hickok was more rumor than fact. Hickok, if you'll remember, died ignominiously at the card table, shot in the back of the head while holding two pair - aces and eights. Calam probably had a crush on Hickok though. She was buried next to him at the tender age of 51. She pretty much drank herself to death.

The musical, however, cleans up the story, saves the best bits and gives us some great scenes and terrific songs. This particular one always cheers me up.

Deadwood and its inhabitants were probably a pretty nasty group of hooligans. Doris and the gang make the place look like a downright Western version of Disneyland.  And I like it and I don't care what PC police might say about it.



Saturday, June 3, 2017

All God's Critters...

This one has to be one of the most joyous gospel songs ever. Irish groups in particular have embraced this happy song, written by New Hampshire Yankee folksinger, Bill Staines. I introduced this to my Sabbath School classes and it quickly became a favorite. We added animal sounds at the end of some lines and it turned quickly into one of those songs where the deacons came and peeked in the back door to see what sort of wild music was going on in there with the young people.

Two of my favorite Irish folksingers, Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem perform this version and you can see how much fun and joy the song gives them. It's an infectious kind of joy.  Here is: "All God's Critters Got a Place in the Choir":

My daughter and some of the kids from my old Primary and Youth Sabbath School classes recently recorded this song for me with a whole lot of laughter and fun. She sent me the recording. It's now sits proudly on my MP3 playlist of both Christian and eclectic music. This is a song any guitar-playing song service praise band leader needs to know.  Click here for the lyrics and chords.

Tom King

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Benson, Arizona - Theme to Dark Star

Okay back to the odd we go. There was an odd little Sci-Fi movie made in 1974 during the pre Star Wars era by John Carpenter, who later made some really disturbing horror and sci-fi movies. This low-budget gem is a quirky mess, but the opening theme song is unique. It's a C&W space sailor's lament about a love lost to the theory of relativity.  He left home a few years back and left his girl behind. Now he's still a young man and back on Earth, she's an old lady and there's no going back. Meanwhile the crew of the spaceship Dark Star is going a little nuts blowing up planets and talking to their dead captain and a self-destructive bomb. I included a clip of the whole opening sequence. Best Sci-Fi Country Western song ever.

Weird I know.