Monday, March 3, 2014

Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday: Life Is What Music Makes It

See All The Great Mix-Tape Blogs HERE!!!!!
"The Soundtrack Of My Life" is the topic for this week's Twisted Mixed-Tape Tuesday romp.

(In other words, it's another trip into the personal past of the writer.  How exciting!  Next thing you know, we'll all be doing a post on "How To Properly Perform Morning Defecation While Cutting One's Toenails.")

This might be an easy feat for a person in their twenties or thirties, but when you are only months away from one's sixties, the task becomes much more difficult.  What really becomes difficult is when so much of one's life was shaped by the music of their early years, instead of the rinky dink crap that's being produced in today's supposed music industry.  

"Yo-Yo, listen to me, listen to me, listen to me.

Don't cha know, years ago when I was a squirt, 
No gats, no drugs, no people ta hurt,

I lived each day, like it was my last, 
never thought I'd be around, talkin' 'bout the past.

But here I be, damn good lookin' to see,
Yeah, I'm still here, makin' love 'til three.

So take yo ho, and warm her up for me,
Cuz you ain't sh*t, I'm almost f**kin' six-ty."

Jay-Z, watch your tail.  
I'm ready to put you to shame!

I guess one could say that an elementary school music teacher, by the name of Mrs. Dyer, had a lot to do with my love for music.  Twice a week, we'd have a music class in which we'd sing standards of the day, as well as some of the early folk songs.  Back then, it was a good thing to be patriotic and in love with your country.  What better song to express this than "This Land Is My Land?"

This patriotism was also formed by our required reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance To The Flag each morning before starting our class work.  Most say this without thinking about it.  I ask you to please take a couple of minutes and listen to this version done so well by one of the phenomenal comedians of the day, Red Skelton, in one of his more serious moments.

I remember when we first sent troops over to Vietnam.  We were told we were fighting the spread of Communism by doing so.  Most of us believed the government and what they told us.  We were Americans and the government never lied.  Only the U.S.S.R.'s government did that!  At least, that's what we were led to believe.  The American fighting man was the best there was.  Our efforts helped to end World Wars I & II, as well as the Korean Conflict.  There was no better song to express our belief in him than this song.

The battle for Civil Rights was going mainstream.  Whites against Blacks, Whites against Whites, Blacks against Blacks, everyone had an opinion.  Equal rights didn't mean either side was superior.  Neither did it mean that there was something owed to either side.  It meant that all men were created equal.  We could live together, accepting each other as equals, and breed a new culture that didn't hate.  Alas, our aspirations obviously fell short due to those on both sides that wish to use race as a reason or excuse to this day.  Still, no one presented our hopes the way The Youngbloods did with "Get Together."

America was turning upon itself.  Old against young, wealthy against poor, educated against uneducated, the battles were fought.  Sometimes, innocent blood was shed, as was the case when a squad of National Guardsmen fired upon a protesting group of unarmed students at Kent State.  Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's classic "Ohio" tells the story too well.


Finally, the war was over!  It was time to party, and party we did.  Many smoked pot and rocked all night long, and the disco crowd snorted cocaine and danced all night long!  Polyester ruled the dance floor as discos became the norm for the "in" crowd with money.  Forget your troubles and woes and Dance, Dance, Dance!

Marriage ... does anyone really know what happiness is until they're married?  (Of course, by then it's too late to do anything about it!)  Sometimes marriage works and sometimes it doesn't.  It takes two to make it work.  Not just some of the time ... all of the time.  When one gives up, or looks for excitement elsewhere, trouble occurs.  Then, it's time to evaluate.  The Mark-Almond band says it best with "What Am I Living For."

We become so involved in our own lives, we forget about those that brought us into the world.  Men are particularly bad about this as they've been taught to be independent and self sufficient all their lives.  (Tell that to a wife the next time her husband asks, "Honey, have you seen my car keys?")

Still, the fathers are the ones that usually suffer the greatest in the realm of being shunned in later years.  Perhaps, it's because they were working so hard to keep the family together and financially prosperous, that they forgot the ones that needed them most, and rarely found them there.  Harry Chapin says it best in "Cat's In The Cradle."

As one grows older, they remember the moments of youth and reminisce.  However, they also become much more appreciative of what they have.  Long term marriages, never easy, can be some of the greatest success stories of the universe.  No, the beauty of youth isn't present.  Nor is the beauty of middle age.  Yet, within the wrinkles lie a tale of love greater than can ever be made for the silver screen.  "On Golden Pond" is one of those movies that comes close to expressing this, but misses many points.  The things that once bugged the hell out of you that spouse has done over the years suddenly become points that you love about them.  No matter what they do, you only see them through the beating of your heart.  They are indeed, so beautiful.  Here's Joe Cocker.

When death becomes a reality that is nearer than ever before, you joke about it.  Fear does nothing but ruin the moment, so enjoy what you have left.  Blood, Sweat & Tears now with "And When I Die."

We are all living in the moment.  Oh, we plan for the future, but the future is never guaranteed.  I've already died twice in my life, once by snake bite and once by heart attack.  Either the third time will be the charm, or I'm going to be like one of my cats and do it seven more times.  

I don't know that I believe in an afterlife, but I can't say that I don't believe in it either.  If it's there, then hopefully, some of my actions during my life will be negated by the good ones.  Hopefully, it's enough to get me to the good destination.  Here's the Edwin Hawkins Singers.

If there is no afterlife, well, then that's it!  I'll have lived my life to its fullest.  I've climbed cliffs, sky and skin dived, snow and water skied, worked with venomous reptiles, alligators and big cats, totaled out a motorcycle,  been shot at, played in a rock band, worked as a radio disc jockey, did stand-up comedy, succeeded in business, swam with the money sharks in corporate headquarters, and had a swim fin nipped by a barracuda in Puerto Rico.  I've traveled the world, ate foods many would turn their noses up at, and slept in places others would be scared to death to even visit.  

Now, if I could only finish my damn book before it's over!   



  1. I loved this history lesson. That’s one thing I really like about getting older, that I have so many memories and have experienced a lot, and your post really got me thinking about that. I love “Get Together,” and it makes me picture such an idyllic time, but then “Ohio” reminds me of what an awful time it was too. I was too young to be aware of that when it happened and first heard about Kent State as a teen (from that song), and I couldn’t believe it. It sounds like you’ve had a lot of incredible experiences! Good luck with the book. :)

    1. The sad thing to acknowledge is when you get old it seems everything you write is a history lesson. lol Get Together was my first experience listening to the great vocalist Jesse Colin Young. I really recommend getting his two disc greatest hits cd. It's one of the best you can listen to. Life is filled with things to do, as you're well aware (from reading your post). It's a matter of deciding to do them instead of sitting back always thinking, "I wish I'd done that when I was younger." Many Thanks!

  2. I would say Jay Z most definitely could take a lesson or two from this post! Loved your choice of songs. Cats in the Cradle has to be one of my all time favorite songs. I suppose being born in '76, I was coming into the 'me' generation. If by the 'me' generation means people wanting everything but not really wanting to work for it. A lot of issues that shouldn't be issues in this day and age. Alas, I hear myself telling my girls about my 3 t.v. channels, phones with a cord, and an Atari that I played on a black and white. I was raised by my grandparents though, so I have a very distinctive sense of pride and shame in American history. Best wishes for your book!!

    1. To me, Rap is music for those who cannot sing. It's like the old coffee houses of the late 50's that were filled with beatniks reciting poetry to slow horn and woodwind backing. Only now, the beat is louder to drown out the terrible voices most rappers exhibit. lol I had the pleasure of being onstage with Harry for a join in version of Circles when I was a radio disc jockey. He was a funny man, but one that you couldn't help but like and respect. It was such a loss when he got killed. Sounds like you're raising your kids to understand the choices haven't always been available. I remember having to use my imagination to play, instead of video games and such providing the scenarios. Wow, how I was so needy. lol America, or what it is today, is in the saddest state I've ever seen. Politicians and lawyers have ruined it by allowing big business to rule and create an Elite Class and a Slave/Serf Class all over again. Oh well, the slaves are known for revolting and chopping off heads, aren't they? I think the time is getting close. Many Thanks!

  3. Such thoughtful selections... I remember loving BS&T "And When I Die" --- hadn't heard it in years! Thanks for taking me down our respective memory lanes! Great mix!

    1. David Clayton Thomas was always one of my fav vocalists. He had such power for one with such a mellow and even delivery. The strange thing is that my fav BS&T song isn't sung by him. "Sometimes In Winter" is a brooding affair that pulls me in every time I hear it. But, then again, I'm a little strange. lol Many Thanks!

  4. This was really great! I'm glad you joined in, and I didn't think to go this route, but it's still incredibly interesting, nonetheless. I know several of these songs and O Happy Day is one of my favorites!

    1. I'm really glad you enjoyed this! It was the only path that came to mind when the topic was announced. Trouble is, I've done similar before, so it almost was like a summer re-run to me. I tried to go a few different routes to keep it interesting, though. O Happy Day was a song that hit the airwaves in the late 60's and kind of gave hope to the morbidity of the times. It would be nice to have a reason to play it more and more, these days. Don't you think? Many Thanks!

  5. That Red Skelton thing is freaking amazing. I want the boy to watch that. Amazing we only had 48 states when he was a kid. I hope everyone listens to that, to the very end. How prophetic was that last line, about people deciding it was a prayer and trying to eliminate it from schools. The whole mix is amazing but I'm gonna dwell on this instead.Oh except this, I've Been Everywhere get's tons of air time over here. We've been trying to learn the words for two years! :-)

    1. Probably one of my greatest influences was Red Skelton. I remember when I was only 6 or 7 and my grandparents visiting and I'd go into my Red Skelton characters routines. They'd laugh and laugh, which made me feel great! I'm sure that had some bearing on loving to have an audience and going into stand-up later in life. This piece, though, I remember when he did it live on the air. The nation was at war, not only in Vietnam but with each other. I truly believe it was his way of trying to pull us all together. It still gives me goosebumps to this day. Glad it had the same affect on you! I never tried to learn all the words to "I've Been Everywhere." I believe it was done by another country artist before Johnny, but am too lazy to look it up right now. Johnny's version was definitely the most popular. Many Thanks!