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October 30, 2014 / thackersam

October 29 – The Police – Reggatta de Blanc & Ghost In The Machine

PoliceThere was this pin made of pewter in the craft gallery where I worked many, many years ago. There were many pewter pins, but this one was in the form of an open book with small pewter weapons hanging from it. A gun, a knife and a rope. I don’t think there was a candlestick. Across the pewter pages it read: It was a dark and stormy night. I had to buy it for my friend Amy, who like me, liked a good murder mystery. She loved the pin and fastened it to the lapel of her trench-like coat that she had named Basil, not the herb, the Rathbone. I think this might have been Basil II. She was a tall, pretty blond intellectual. We were friends in high school and beyond, along with Vicki and a few others, although Vicki and I remained closer, at times closer than others, all these years, and as I mentioned recently, we lost Amy just about a year ago, and Vicki four months later.

So, Amy was real smart, one of those annoying people in high school who fretted over getting an A rather than an A+. She went to Wellsley for a year before she determined she was too cool for them and transferred out. She had a boyfriend, and then a husband and didn’t talk much about guys, at least not to me, but she liked Sting. She only had to say something about him once for me to understand. She really liked Sting. I hadn’t been thinking about her much, not since Vicki died, until a couple of weekends ago when I walked into Barnes and Noble on one of my 4.99 CD runs and saw a display of those hollowed out books, and these books wore eerie covers that declared themselves to be The Raven and proved it by quothing the first line of the poem. I already have a hollowed out book, and my stepmother was thrilled when I sent her one, but something told me to buy this one – even though I didn’t need it – for Amy. I’ve been getting a lot of those something told me to moments lately. No worries, nothing nefarious and I’m not hearing voices. So now whenever I see the hollow Raven on my bookcase, I think of Amy.

And of course it is fitting that I found these two Police CDs at my local library. I started with the earlier album, and found as with other groups that I only appreciated for their hits and never explored further, I am now pretty disinterested in the other songs. So it was with Reggatta de Blanc, that boasts “Message in a Bottle” and the fabulous “Bed’s Too Big Without You.” Ghost in the Machine though faired much better with “Spirits in the Material World,” “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” and a few others I recognize. If memory serves, I think I liked Synchronicity a lot. Still, a couple of peppy little workouts with fond memories of an old friend. The Ghost in the Machine album cover may have been more appropriate choice for this time of year, but I thought we’d all like to see a picture of the lads.

Happy Halloween J. You’ll rest those weary fingers soon.

October 26, 2014 / thackersam

October 26 – Billy Joel – On Marriage and Money

Billy & ChristieOn Marriage and Money is not a new album by Billy Joel, it’s just my observations. You know I belong to this Facebook group the WNEW-FM Fan Club. Well, this morning someone posted the article about Billy Joel’s marriages as told in a new biography about him. As the particular newspaper that carried the article is a horrible rag, I am not naming it nor the name of the article. The point is though that the article’s title seems to suggest that his three wives were only after his money, when the truth is that Joel, as much as we love him, is an idiot. Let’s not forget that he came upon his first wife via his dear friend and colleague, who was married to her at the time and with whom he had a child. Yes, Billy was very young at the time so perhaps we can excuse him. But those of us for whom Billy Joel is the hometown boy, as twice previously noted throughout this blog, his rumored prowling was notorious. I don’t know exactly what his marital status was at the precise time, but it was the early eighties and though I never saw him, I would walk into my local haunt to find out that he had just been there and rode off with some girl that he had just picked up. The ex told me of a time he was there when the bar was half empty, or as he explained, half full, depending on how you look at it, when he witnessed just that, and told me how this happened numerous times, according to the boytalk in the bar.

So why would I call this incredible talent an idiot? First, if you haven’t already noticed, it’s one of my favorite expressions used to admonish those for I have some level of respect, and because I don’t know what he was thinking when he made some of those boneheaded decisions that cost him both love and money. He and Christie Brinkley were the it couple, particularly for us Islanders, who welcomed the California girl because they were just so darned cute together. Yes, as the story goes his first wife took him for a bundle, and then her brother took him for a ton when Joel was married to Brinkley. But whatever is said, I think he screwed up royally with the lovely model. They really seemed in love. As for his third wife, I guess I’m not keeping up with things, because I didn’t know he was long divorced from his bride 32 years his junior.

No, this blog is not a gossip column, but please allow me my dalience. I apologize and promise that I will try to refrain from doing it again. I doubt I’ll read Billy’s bio, and will wait for the movie version, to which I will drag the ex.

Tonight’s workout was Beatles #1 again, and since the last post it’s been Bob Dylan and a CD for a future post.

October 22, 2014 / thackersam

October 22 – Patsy Cline – Songs of Love

Patsy ClineHow can you go wrong with Patsy Cline, I said to myself and possibly out loud as I pulled the CD from the Barnes and Noble $4.99 country section. I was looking for Mary Chapin Carpenter. Well it seems you can go wrong with Patsy Cline, but it’s okay. Even though most of the songs on the Songs of Love compilation are really songs of woe and angst, and are frankly kind of stupid, I do now have her singing Willie Nelson’s “Crazy” in that soulful voice. But neither head nor body could get into it and I wound up working out to The Beastie Boys. I needed a little “Funky Boss” tonight. I’m sure Patsy will get taken out again, maybe not by me, but a guest perhaps. It is after all, Patsy Cline.

October 19, 2014 / thackersam

October 19 – Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits (1967)

DylanThis was one of the $10 albums I found recently in a little consignment shop in Northport called Helga’s. I am now the proud owner of a Bob Dylan album that consists of the best known songs from his first seven records. While I was a little young to appreciate Dylan to his fullest back in those days, I could pick up on each song immediately, sort of. Funny thing about Bob Dylan is that you can be talking to a colleague at the office and telling her how the blog thing is going and/or how your previous trip out to The Island was, one or the other that led you to mention that you couldn’t remember which song “Rainy Day Women” was until the needle hit the recently purchased album and started playing the first song, which in your mind has always been “Everybody Must Get Stoned,” and simultaneously you and the colleague sing “I would not feel so all alone. Everybody must get stoned,” in fairly recognizable Bob Dylan voices – in a hallway – not even outside either of your offices, or the kitchen. I’ll bet money that this is not an uncommon occurrence.

Anyone can do a decent Bob Dylan imitation. I recommend starting with “Just Like A Woman,” just that phrase followed by “Yes she does,” before you go for the whole song. It’s kind of like how I learned to do Ethel Merman, not that there’s much of a call for a singular talent like that, but I started with the word “why” belting it out with vibrato and eventually burst into “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” though the word and the song are unrelated. I think we’ve discussed this before during one of the many posts that mentioned Ed Sullivan, another easy person to imitate.

Anyway, Mr. Zimmerman provided for a couple of very enjoyable workouts, which I’m sure was what he was going for all those decades ago when he wrote songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Positively 4th Street.”

October 15, 2014 / thackersam

October 15 – Patti Smith Group – Wave

Patti SmithAlthough she is an odd person, and as we know, I like odd, I was never into Patti Smith. She was labeled as punk but she actually is a poet, and that’s just how I like my poetry – set to music. This was another of those finds in the Barnes and Noble $5 CD rack, and starts with three very familiar Patti Smith songs: “Frederick,” “Dancing Barefoot” and her fantastic version of The Byrds’ “So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N Roll Star.” All the rest of the stuff I don’t know. However, some of it is worth exploring further. I like Smith for living her life the way she wanted, or so it seemed. She fell in love, got married, had a family and then her husband died. Then, as these things seem to happen, two more deaths hit her. She’s remained active in music, and is an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I know, big deal, so’s Kiss. But she is Patti Smith and needed no makeup whatsoever to be the icon that she is.

October 12, 2014 / thackersam

October 12 – Vanilla Fudge

Vanilla FNo matter what I say, the fact remains that Vanilla Fudge’s version of the Supremes’ hit “You Keep Me Hanging On” is, in my humble opinion, the best cover song ever. A moment of the song performed by the band was shown on the WLIW Ed Sullivan rock ‘n roll fundraising special that I mentioned previously, and it was funny. The psychedelic background, and the excruciating look of angst on the bass player’s face as he sang, and he was just singing backup. So it must be another act of fate that brought this record into my hands, and thus brings us to another story, for which I apologize, but you know I just can’t help myself.

This past Thursday was a near-perfect day, and that’s only because I don’t believe there is any such thing as perfect. It was movie with the ex day, which always starts with breakfast at a diner, me giving the waitress or waiter my very specific order of two eggs over easy, well-done potatoes, crispy bacon and buttered rye toast, and the ex saying he’ll have the same. And always coffee. We then had more than two hours to kill before the movie, Gone Girl was to start, and as I had gone out to The Island this time, we took a drive to Northport. I did warn the ex that I was looking for a new jacket, something between the denim jacket I was wearing on this beautiful and warm early Autumn day, and the heavier jacket I would be hauling out in about 20 degrees before I got to my winter coat. He’s actually always been good to shop with, not for himself, but for me. If it were not for the invention of blue jeans, he’d have no self-style at all. Almost immediately we came to a shop on Main Street called Helga’s which turned out to be a great new consignment shop, with lots of good stuff at pretty reasonable prices, unlike some of the snooty-poots consignment shops in Manhattan. First I found a jacket that is not precisely what I was looking for, but for the price, condition and fit, it is not bad at all and resolved that issue. Then, and this is the reason for me taking you to Helga’s in Northport, there was a small vinyl collection from which I was able to select three albums including tonight’s workout choice. The rest of Thursday went well. I enjoyed the movie, though much more than the ex did, we had burgers and beer at an Irish pub, the moon which had been blood red the previous morning was still full and visible on this cloudless night, and I got home in time to see a production of Abingdon Theatre’s Hellman v McCarthy on WLIW (note to self – remember to make a donation), with Dick Cavett playing Dick Cavett.

The Vanilla Fudge album was a whopping $5. The other two were $10 each, but are much more essential to anyone’s collection. I didn’t know what to expect from my $5 find, I only knew them from the one song. My first impression, which was confirmed by the second and third impressions, is that they were heavy on everything, so heavy that they drowned out the crackles on the record. They were kind of an experimental, psychedelic group that had a similar sound to The Hassles (now remember we talked about The Hassles before so don’t be acting all confused). This, their first album out in 1967 was all covers, with “You Keep Me Hanging On” the cream, and the rest sludge. They covered The Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” and “Eleanor Rigby,” The Zombies’ “She’s Not There” and Sonny and Cher’s “Bang Bang,” to name most, in a consistent Vanilla Fudgy style that actually had me laughing. They also did a version of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” that would induce sleep rather than motivate. However, the listening experience and now having a record with my favorite cover song on it, is more than well worth the five bucks.

October 9, 2014 / thackersam

October 8 – Walrus Anniversary

walrus partyI’ve been doing this for a year now, more or less. More, because I started the project of working out to my old albums from A to Z and journaling about it in August of 2013, and less because I didn’t start the blog until later in October. But as I couldn’t decide on which date to choose for the anniversary, the start of the project on which this blog is based or when I went live over the world wide web. So I decided to make October 8 my anniversary, the day I plunked down the money and became The Walrus Was Paul. Well one of them anyway. And as of today, I am renewed as until October 8th rolls around again.

So much has happened in just a year. Four months before we lost Vicki, she had called to tell me that our friend Amy had died. And, of course I finished the project, a little delayed due to bouts of funkiness. Got to ZZ Top this past spring, and I’m not sure exactly what I’m doing these days, just sort of flying by the seat of my pants. Which by the way, there is now plenty of room in.

After Joan Rivers died they showed tons of clips of her more recent poignant observations. I wish I could find the quote, but this one was something like, the best thing about aging is that your eyesight is so poor, when you look in the mirror you think you look good. And I think I look good, and I’m okay with that, even if I am aware of how bad my eyes have gotten.

I can fit into a couple of size ten pants and shirts, and a pair of size 10 jeans, which I won’t wear yet because, while I don’t look ridiculous, I wouldn’t be able to function in them for more than 17 minutes. It’s slow going, but it’s going in the right direction and feels right for me. I’m under 145 lbs, have lengthened my stride so I walk faster these days, which feels great cause I love to walk. I keep ramping up the exercises here and there, and sometimes I ramp down. I get to listen to some great old music, explore stuff that I hadn’t before and write about it. I have 79 official followers (hi), and I know some of my Facebook friends look in now and then. And then there’s my mystery Brazilian (shhh – don’t speak). Of course tonight we celebrate with the walrus himself and the album that started this whole thing – Paul McCartney’s Ram.


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