Thursday, August 29, 2013

Story Songs: Lady

There have been several "Lady" songs recorded by such luminaries as Kenny Rogers, Lionel Ritchie (who also wrote the Kenny Rogers hit), and the group, Styx. 

My favorite is by the underrated Australian group, Little River Band, in 1978. The song, written by founding band member Graeham Goble, reached No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States.

 The song opens with a guy recalling a special woman:

"A long time ago
I had a lady to love
She made me think of things
I never thought of
Now she's gone and I'm on my own
A love song has come into my mind
A love song
It was there all the time"

And he realizes that he would like her back in his life:

"And I love you best
You're not like the rest
You're there when I need  you
You're there when I need
I'm gonna need you"

And then he proclaims that he wants her back in life:

"I think it's only fair I should say to 
Don't be thinkin' I don't want you
'Cause maybe I do
Don't be thinkin' I don't want you
Lady I do"

I was fortunate to see LRB in concert at the Executive Inn Rivermont in Owensboro, Ky., in the mid-1990s. Lead singer Glenn Shorrock was with the band along with two other original members. They put on a fabulous show.

"Lady" is one of  LRB's most played tunes on radio, second only to "Reminiscing." Both were on their "Sleeper Catcher" album.

LRB, a band with wonderful harmonies and solid musicianship, was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association's Hall of Fame in 2004.

"Lady" lyrics 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Memory Lane

The other night I attended the Happy Together Tour at the Kentucky State Fair that featured several oldies acts from the 1960s. 

Most of those in attendance were oldies -- like me. A few folks brought their (grand) children. It was a fun time, for the most part, especially watching folks sing and dance to the music. A very brief rain didn't spoil the festivities.

Mark Lindsay performs during the Happy Together Tour.
The performers were Flo and Eddie of The Turtles, Gary Puckett (and the Union Gap), Gary Lewis (and the Playboys), Chuck Negron (Three Dog Night) and Mark Lindsay (Paul Revere and the Raiders).  All the guys are in their 60s and 70s. 

Needless to say, some of the singers don't have the pipes they had back in their heyday, but they still gave it their best to entertain the crowd. And even if they couldn't hit the highs or lows, for me, the songs were playing inside my head so I didn't mind it. 

For me, and I'm sure for many of the other baby boomers, the concert was a stroll down memory lane with songs such as "Joy to the World," "Young Girl," "This Diamond Ring," "Indian Reservation," and, of course,  "Happy Together."

Thanks for the memories.

Until the next time...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Too Smart to Suit Me

When it comes to technology, I’m falling farther and farther behind as I get older. I don’t really care to own the new gadgets. Oh, I think they’re cool and do some neat things, but offer very little that I find essential to my life and well-being. 

Many of my friends, especially the younger ones, have smart phones. They surf the Internet, do voice texts, play games, take photos, and all sorts of other things – even talk on the phone. I guess some smart phones even offer GPS systems and all kinds of apps such as weather alerts and whatnot.

Yeah, they're neat and cool. But you know what? When my friends run their finger over the screen to do this and do that, I can barely see the images. And the type is so small and that it gives me a headache. You can enlarge the type but then it takes longer to read a story. I don't feel like carrying a magnifying glass with me to see and read what's on those screens.    
What do I own? I recently learned that I carry around a dumb phone. I can access email and even go on the Internet, if I want to. But I use my phone for text messages – off the keyboard – and to communicate via dialing a number to my wife, sons, and several friends. And I don’t do that often.     
I think it’s handy to have my dumb phone in case of emergencies, such as car trouble or medical problems or having to call my wife to make sure I pick up everything she needs at the grocery. My wife, who also has a dumb phone (we have a family value plan), has been known to call me and have me pick up some carryout for dinner – which she would probably consider an essential reason for having her phone.
Will I ever own a true smart phone? I doubt it unless I get a refurbished one after smart phones evolve into other areas. For the time being, and foreseeable future, I’m perfectly content with my dumb phone. It kinda reflects on my state of mind when it comes to new technology.
Until the next time….

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Story Songs: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

It's not very often a singer can record an uptempo song and take it to No. 1, then turn around 13 years later and see it reach No. 8 on the charts as a ballad. 

Neil Sedaka, one of the great singer/songwriters in pop music, did just that with "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do," in 1962 and 1975. 

I grew up listening to Sedaka's songs, from "The Diary" to "Calendar Girl" to "Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen" to "Laughter in the Rain." 

But I thought one of his most expressive songs, written with Howard Greenfield, was "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do."  Those who've been in relationships, and left with a broken heart, know how painful it can be. So much, that you want to avoid it if at all possible.

So the song begins:

"Don't take your love away from me
Don't you leave my heart in misery
If you go then I'll be blue
'Cause breaking up is hard to do"

And later we hear:

"I beg of you, don't say goodbye
Can't we give our love another try
Come on baby, let's start anew
'Cause breaking up is hard to do"

And in the chorus:

"Don't say that this is the end
Instead of breaking up I wish that we were making up again"

I suppose most of us survive those breakups, and perhaps after some reflection, realize it was for the best. But it still hurts.

As for the Sedaka's bittersweet love song, I prefer the slow version because it comes across with so much sincerity. 

"Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" lyrics

Uptempo version:

Slow version:

Until the next time...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Farewell to Romance

Back in 1998, after I finished the manuscript to my first novel, "The Touch," and shopping it around to agents, I was told by an agent that what I had written was a romance. 

A romance? Well, it was about a relationship and had an upbeat ending but it was also about a woman in an abusive relationship. I had a relative who wrote romances and she advised me to check out the Kentucky Romance Writers of America group. So I did. And I joined in  1999. And I also joined the Romance Writers of America.

I wrote two more contemporary novels -- "A Long Highway" and "Foolish Is The Heart" -- about relationships that could probably fall under the romance genre. It's such a gray area that they could be labeled as mainstream novels. I've read quite a few "literary" novels that could easily be considered romance.

I maintained memberships in the groups because I got a lot out of them -- things that are beneficial to any author such as promotion, marketing, dialogue, plotting and much more. I enjoyed reading the Romance Writers Report magazine and e-Notes from the national organization and the camaraderie, support, and friendships I developed in the state group at bimonthly meetings. Needless to say, I was the only male in KYRW, and one of a few in RWA.  

I gained a deep appreciation for romance writers. There are some very talented writers in that genre -- great storytellers and supportive of one another. It's no wonder that romance is the biggest seller in fiction. 

In recent years I veered off in other directions in my writing. "A Confidential Man" is a murder mystery, "Shooting Star" is young adult, and "Laments" is a short-story collection. My next novel, which will be released in October, is another young adult story.

So when it came time to renew my national dues after 14 years in RWA, I decided it was time to move on. However, I encourage writers interested in romance to join the national and local groups. It's well worth the time and investment. I know I never regretted being a member.

Until the next time...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Spotlight on Linda Ronstadt

I realize the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame can't induct every single performer in rock history. It has to be a thankless job for the voters because you can't please everyone. Not even a few.

But often I'm amazed by the artists who have been overlooked by those who deem performers worthy for induction.  I'm not going to write a list of those I believe should be honored but I do plan to have occasional posts about those out of the shrine's limelight.

So drum roll, please!

I was amazed to discover that Linda Ronstadt hasn't been inducted into the Rock Hall. Unbelievable! Unreal! She is simply long overdue.

For those who grew up in the 1960s and '70s, you already know that Ronstadt was huge on the music scene. After he debut with "Different Drum," as a member of the Stone Poneys in the late '60s, she dominated the '70s.
To keep things short and simple, here's something from Wikipedia about Ronstadt's music:
"In total, she has released over 30 studio albums and 15 compilations or greatest hits albums. Ronstadt charted thirty-eight Billboard Hot 100 singles with twenty-one reaching the top 40, ten to the top 10, three to No. 2, and "You're No Good" to No. 1. In the UK, her single "Blue Bayou" reached the UK Top 40[7] and the duet with Aaron Neville, "Don't Know Much", peaked at No. 2 in December 1989.[8] In addition, she has charted thirty-six albums, ten Top 10 albums, and three No. 1 albums on the Billboard Pop Album Charts."

Irwin Stambler's "The Encyclopedia of Rock, Pop and Soul" stated: "By all accounts, Linda Ronstadt is a superstar."

Ronstadt has gone beyond rock to successfully perform big band, jazz, opera, soul, folk, Broadway, Latino, country and more. She's appeared in movies such as "FM" and "The Pirates of Penzance" (also on Broadway), garnered 11 Grammys, and nominated for 17 more.

Why she hasn't already made it into the R&R Hall is, well, unbelievable! This superstar should be shining with the other luminaries in Cleveland. 

Until the next time...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Walk Don't Run (or Jog)

I've always enjoyed walking. I'm an urban hiker when I visit a big city. I love to hike at our state parks and other scenic places. And when the weather isn't cooperating, you'll find me on my treadmill.

This summer I've tried to use walking as a big part of my regular exercise. Twice a day during the work I'll venture out of the office and walk with co-workers. If it's raining, we'll walk in the parking garage or inside the six-story building where I work. And at home, I try to walk my dog, Bailey, in the morning and evening. He needs his exercise as well. 

I'm the first to admit that I've slowed down a bit as I've gotten older, but I've never been a sedentary-type guy. I've always been on the move. I used to play tennis until my tennis buddies started having health issues. I also played softball and basketball. I also used to sing karaoke but that's another story.

I've never been interested in jogging because it seems too time consuming and I have other non-exercise things such as writing and honey-do's. Furthermore, I'm not sure my knees could handle jogging. And it seems like too much trouble putting on jogging gear when all I have to do to go walking is, well, start walking. The main thing is to have a comfortable pair of shoes.

These morning and afternoon walks at work have been invigorating, especially in the afternoon when I feel like taking a short nap (older folks will understand). 

Besides the physical activity, I find that walking helps relieve some stress so it's mental exercise for me as well. And walking with my friends, it also becomes social as we chat about various and sundry things along the way.

Visit The Walking Site for more information about the benefits of walking. 

And for something to put you in the mood for your daily jaunts, here's Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, The Ventures, playing their 1960 hit, "Walk Don't Run."

Until the next time...