Monday, March 3, 2014

Twisted Mix Tape Tuesday: Life Is What Music Makes It

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"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!