Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Being a Pirate (is all fun and games)

I am here to tell you that being a pirate is a dangerous business. I know. When I was 10, I was a swashbuckling buccaneer - fearless, dangerous with a sword and ruthless. My brother and I tied our flag to the top of the swingset and strung an old sheet from the crossbar so that it would belly out when the winds came. Texas has a lot of wind, so of course we were often taking in sail, shortening sail and setting sail. As a pirate in a North Central Texas backyard, we didn't have a lot of plundering opportunities, though we somehow found ourselves in a lot of sword fights. I'm here to tell you that wooden swords hurt when your kid brother lands a lucky shot to your knuckles and if he refuses to fall down dead when you shoot him with your trusty pirate pistol, well, there's not a lot else you can do but climb up the mast and set sail again.

It was a grand life it was (except for all the X-rays, the Mercurochrome, which stung like the blazes and which the ship's doctor (my Mom) insisted upon. The bandages were kind of cool, though. They contributed to your piratical look I must say.

This little song is popular in Irish pubs and Renaissance fairs and often badly sung by people with eye patches and fake peg legs who'd never get away with singing in public if the song wasn't funny. But it is a funny song and so I put it on my mP3 player to remind me of my sea-faring youth.....

Here's one of the better sounding versions of this song on Youtube with a cobbled together video featuring shots from Pirates of the Caribbean.

See what I mean about piracy? Not a great career choice my young friends. Take it from one who knows!


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ballin' the Jack

The first time I heard this song was in a Danny Kaye movie musical, "On the Riviera", but I think the definitive version is in the little known and highly under-appreciated Gene Wilder/Gilda Radner movie, "Haunted Honeymoon". It's a little dance number called "Ballin' the Jack". I don't know what that means, but Gilda Radner and Dom Deluise (in drag) demonstrate it if you want to see how it's done. Deluise was hilarious in this clip and Gilda kept up with him every step of the way.

If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it. It's hilarious. Sheila and I watch it every Halloween. It's one of our favorites and it's become a holiday tradition. We also watch John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in The Quiet Man every Saint Patrick's Day, Christopher Reeve and Roseanna Arquette in The Aviator every Thanksgiving and Albert Finney's fantastic musical version of Scrooge at Christmas. There are other holiday movies for other holidays that we watch, but I digress.

Here's Gilda and Dom with Ballin' the Jack.

Now didn't that look like all kinds of fun?


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Where I'm Bound

Take Three was an Adventist singing group with a folksy kind of sound. I heard a Christian radio guy compare them to Peter, Paul & Mary and they do have that kind of soft harmony, guitar and vocals sound. This is obviously taken from an old recording. You can still find their music if you do a little searching.  Bonnie Casey, the group's lead singer, still has the original recordings and sell CD versions of the original vinyl LPs.  You can buy the CDs here at this link.

Like The Wedgwood Trio, Bonnie and the gang took some heat from the traditional-hymns-only wing of the church and sadly disbanded and went their own way. The music is still lovely. Where I'm Bound is one of my favorites. Someone made this video with the music behind some lovely nature pictures. I wish the group had gone on to produce more music. They were certainly headed in a direction that I liked.


It's a pity they didn't produce more music than they did. 


Friday, July 21, 2017

Right Field

I heard this song and realized it was my baseball theme song. I was the nerdy skinny kid with glasses who always got picked last.  Like the guy in the song, I made it my practice to ask to play right field. That way it was my choice to go out there and pick dandelions. I even had one of those "ball dropped right in my glove" moments once. It was my personal equivalent of Willy Mays' famous over-the-shoulder catch.

Here's Peter, Paul & Mary with "Right Field".

It's an eerily accurate depiction of the plight of guys like me in elementary school. I love Paul Stookey's sense of humor. He's a really lovely guy.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Center Field

Willy Mays' over-the-shoulder catch - the man could play center field.

Truth be known I always played right field and I have a song for that one too, but this one is probably my favorite baseball song of all time. The inimitable John Fogerty's classic "Center Field" has some wonderful baseball lines like this one....

A roundin' third and headin' for home,
It's a brown-eyed handsome man.
Even someone with relatively sad baseball playing skills like me can dream. I did improve somewhat with age, but then my knees started going and I gained weight, so I never really achieved baseball glory, but I do like the sport. It's very American in that it's a series of personal contests between pitcher and batter with a break between. American football is like that too. There's a reason we never warmed to "football" the way everyone else in the world did. We need to see the little individual victories - the pass caught, the home run hit, the slam dunk. In soccer, you get a bunch of guys running around kicking a ball for two hours and the final score might wind up being 2 to 0. That's just downright unAmerican.

Here's Fogerty singing about the great American sport and a nice video of vintage film from America's great baseball history.

Didn't that make you want to just dig up your old baseball glove and go throw a few with some kid you've got laying around the house playing video games?


Monday, July 17, 2017

Looking Out My Back Door

I've always been fond of porches. This Creedence Clearwater Revival song is kind of my "sittin' on the back porch" theme song.  Meanwhile, I " to sit down, take a rest on the porch." Now what happens next is somewhat ambiguous. It could be a straightforward reverie or something more chemically induced, but I prefer to think of the tambourines and elephants bit as a daydream. So here's CCR front man, John Fogarty, live with some back porch music for a Monday morning....

Now wasn't that fun?


Sunday, July 9, 2017

You Done Stomped on My Heart

Here's one from the inimitable Mason Williams of "Classical Gas" fame.  We used to sit around on the boat dock and sing this when some gal had stomped on our hearts. Only John Denver could deliver a line as great as "You know you just sorta, stomped on my aorta" with a straight face.

I thought this time out, I'd throw out one of those "she done you wrong" songs as a kind of throwback to my days of being dumped with stunning regularity by a stable of attractive women (including the one I married who also dumped me but felt so sorry for me she couldn't make it stick).

It was a tossup choosing between "Stomped" or "Homemade Dummy" the folk version of Louis Armstrong's "Dumb Dumb Dummy".  I need to make a video of that one because I can't find the campfire version anywhere.

Here's John singing Mason's monumentally pitiful "You Done Stomped on My Heart."

Friday, July 7, 2017

Down in the River to Pray

I first heard this song in the movie, "O Brother Where Art Thou."  I liked it so much, having seen my fair share of outdoor baptisms, I put it in our Youth Sabbath School Songbook. The kids liked this oldtime style gospel song too. Who said our young people only like rock n' roll?  This song has all sorts of room for harmony and some gentle percussion, it's a lovely song to sing at a baptism or a campfire worship.  

Here's Alison Krauss with "Down in the River to Pray".

Tom King - 2017

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

In the Jailhouse Now

I got a real kick out of the movie "Brother Where Art Thou", especially the old time Appalachian country music. This one could have been my Daddy's theme song when he was young and stupid. I love the yodeling. Next time I'll post the song about how the Cowboy Yodel Was Born.

A whole bunch of folks in the country music and bluegrass singin' business contributed to the amazing batch of songs that made this weird little Cohen Brothers movie memorable. This was the rock n' roll music of the depression era South and it feels very familiar to me. This is the stuff my kinfolk used to sing on the back porch in the cool of a summer evening.

Here's the clip from the movie where they sing "He's in the Jailhouse Now.":

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Ready for the Storm

I don't think Dougie Maclean meant for this to be a Christian song, but if you think of the lighthouse as Jesus, this song comes into sharp focus. I particularly like this live version done with a choir for backup. I love the rainstorm opening put together by the choir. It's lovely and kinda breath-taking. Then the choir joins him later in the song and makes it awesome.

In this day and age I am seeing things happening around me that the old preachers warned us about when I was a kid going to evangelistic meetings. Now it's all happening before my eyes. I have walked for 46 years with Jesus. I am ready for the storm and I am not afraid.

Here's Dougie and the Perthshire Amber choir in my favorite version of Ready for the Storm.