Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spotlight on Steve Miller Band

One of the cutting-edge musical groups emerging from the late 1960s was the Steve Miller Band

The group created a distinctive sound, combining Chicago-infused blues and West Coast-influenced rock to become a major act from the late 1960s to the early '80s.

I first became a fan of the group in 1968 with the "Sailor" album, featuring the single "Living in the U.S.A."  The next year saw the release of "Brave New World," that included the tune, "Space Cowboy."

Then the band began to churn out the hits, with No. 1s "The Joker" ('73), "Rock'n Me" ('76), and "Abracadabra" ('82) as well as No. 2 "Fly Like an Eagle" ('76), No. 8 "Jet Airliner" ('77), No. 11 "Take the Money and Run" ('76),   No. 17 "Swingtown" ('77) and No. 23 "Jungle Love" ('77) and No. 24 "Heart Like a Wheel" ('81).

Despite all the big hits and commercial success, the Steve Miller Band hasn't been found worthy enough to be in the in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ahem...they haven't even been nominated, despite being eligible since 1993.

Miller, who is now 70, still hits the road with his band, including a summer tour with Journey. 

Here are some videos of this great band:

Until the next time...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Story Songs: Living in a Fantasy

Leo Sayer is often remembered for his bouncy, feel-good songs, often performed in costumes, such as "The Show Must Go On," "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing," and "Long Tall Glasses."

The curly-haired British singer-songwriter also recorded some sweet ballads in the 1970s such as "More Than I Can Say," "When I Need You," and "Raining in My Heart."

He charted 10 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, and it was his last, in 1981, that is my favorite -- "Living in a Fantasy," written by Sayer and Alan Tarney.

The tune is about a person who falls so deeply in love that it seems like it must be dream -- almost unreal.

The song begins with the narrator saying the person is his "reason to live" and that he loves her "little by little more every day."

The second verse:

"I lay in bed but I just can't sleep
I close my eyes and you're all that I see
I can't believe that's happening to me"

Then he declares:

"Living in a fantasy
Ever since you came to me
Living in a fantasy
Drowning in this luxury
Ever since you came to me
I'm living in a dream."

And it closes with:

"Oh, you're too much, too soon, too strong
But I wanna drown in your touch
Don't keep me floating to long."

The song has an ethereal quality to it. Just close your eyes and listen and you'll know what I mean.

"Living in a Fantasy" lyrics

Living in a Fantasy

And here are a few more vids for your enjoyment:

Until the next time...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

National Library Week

It's National Library Week. 

Sometimes I think we take our libraries for granted. They are one of the pillars of communities, providing all sorts of services beyond the lending of books (which is important in itself) such as Wi-Fi, computer access, movie and music rentals, lectures, classes, book clubs, and much more. 

The American Library Association recently published some facts about libraries and here are a few that I thought were interesting:

  • 58 percent of American adults have public-library cards.
  • Americans visit libraries three times more often than they go to movies (and hey, they don't even sell popcorn in libraries!).
  • Public and academic libraries hold more than 176 million e-books in their collections.
  • Academic librarians serve more than 44 million patrons each year -- nearly 12 million more folks who attend college basketball games. 
  • The highest achieving students attend schools with well-funded library media centers.
  • U.S. citizens spend 18 times more money on home video games than they do on school library materials for their children (why doesn't this surprise me?).
  • There are more public libraries (16,766 including branches) than McDonald's in the U.S. (and libraries serve fat-free brain fare).
  • And Americans spend almost three times as much on sweets than they do on public libraries (can't say that really surprises me either).
I currently have two books checked out from my local public library that I will finish this weekend. And I look forward to checking out some more when I return.

I hope you plan a visit as well to your local library.

Until the next time...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kentucky Writers' Day 2014

We'll be celebrating Kentucky Writers' Day on April 24.

We're blessed in the Bluegrass State with a rich literary heritage featuring writers such as James Lane Allen, Harriette Arnow, Harry Caudill, John Fox Jr., Janice Holt Giles, Elizabeth Madox Roberts, Jesse Stuart, Allen Tate, James Still, Hunter S. Thompson, and Robert Penn Warren (the nation's first poet laureate and the only three-time Pulitzer Prize winner). 

Among the present day literary stars include Wendell Berry, Chris Holbrook, Bobbie Ann Mason, Sue Grafton, Karen Robards, Teresa Medeiros, Silas House, Gwyn Hyman Rubio, Sena Jeter Naslund, and Frank X Walker, the current state poet laureate. 

And we have a few with strong Kentucky connections such as Barbara Kingsolver, Fenton Johnson, and Chris Offutt. The Paul Sawyier Public Library in Frankfort has compiled an impressive list that includes websites.

A ceremony will be held in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort at 10 a.m., featuring Walker and past poets laureate Maureen Morehead, Gurney Norman, Jane Gentry Vance, Naslund, Joe Survant and Richard Taylor reading from their works.

It will be followed by a public reception at 11, in the Capitol mezzanine.

For Kentuckians, this is an excellent opportunity to celebrate literature, poetry, and writers in your communities. The Kentucky Arts Council has a planning guide to help libraries, schools, civic organizations, senior citizens centers and more to join the effort.

"Kentucky Writers' Day is celebrated uniquely all across the Commonwealth," Lori Meadows, arts council executive director, said in a news release. "Our hope is that communities will use this resource as inspiration to plan their own way to honor the day."

So let's get ready to celebrate!

Until the next time...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Authors on the Air

While I love to read about writing, books and fellow authors, it's also nice to watch literary programs on TV and webcasts and listen on the radio.

One of my favorite programs is "Bookmark," which airs every Friday evening on RL TV.  The host is Daryn Kagan, a former anchor at CNN. The hour-long show features authors, books to films, reviews, and more and it moves along at an entertaining pace. 

One of the longest running programs is Book TV on C-SPAN. Brian Lamb and others provide in-depth interviews with authors of nonfiction books.

Another place for great author interviews and book reviews is National Public Radio. I'm on the mailing list (you can sign up on website) and receive updates on programs.

I live in Kentucky, where I can enjoy "One to One with Bill Goodman" on Kentucky Educational Television. The program, however, features more than authors. KET also had a show called "bookclub@KET," which featured discussions about books by Kentucky authors. The website has an archive of the programs.

One of the best Internet sites for books can be found at It has numerous programs that focus on all things relating to books.

And check out Blog Talk Radio, which also allows listeners to start their own program about books or whatever. 

If you have any favorites you'd like to recommend, please leave in the comments section. 

Until the next time...