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June 29, 2015 / thackersam

June 28 – Mary Chapin Carpenter – Stones In The Road

Mary Chapin CarpenterAfter Trouble-Buddy left Long Island towards the end of our first year of high school, which was 10th grade for us, I became close friends with a diminutive girl who had a crush on the same older boy that I did. Of course I didn’t like her at first, but that changed. Neither of us got the boy, not even close, and soon there were other boys to replace him. We were friends throughout high school and through her, I became friends with our late friend Amy, and then Vicki’s sister and Vicki, who was a year behind us.

Shortly after Amy passed in the fall of 2013, I got a friend request on Facebook from someone whose name I didn’t recognize, but despite the fact that she was masked in her picture, and it had been a good deal of time, I quickly figured out who she was. She found me through Amy’s husband’s FB page after he told her about Amy. She had been the maid of honor at their wedding. It was four months later that I had to tell her about Vicki. We’ve been through a lot together in our short re-connection and though I far from relished my task of being the bearer of bad news and so soon after our last loss, I have welcomed her support. And although she hasn’t seen much of the results, her support of my writing projects has made me all the more productive.

So, what has this all to do with Mary Chapin Carpenter, you ask. I happen to have a Mary Chapin Carpenter cassette tape. Had two once, Come On Come On, before my old stereo system ate it. And because my friend, for whom I will have to think up a moniker, noticed that I’ve mentioned several times in my blog that I no longer have use of the tape deck in my CD player she sent me a little boom box with radio and cassette player. Now I can get back to exploring my tape collection, what’s left of it. And now you’re thinking, isn’t Mary Chapin Carpenter country? Haven’t you always said you’re a rock ‘n roll kinda gal? True. But she’s done some really good stuff (I also have a Dwight Yoakum tape), and I’ve got to say that I just went all goofy when “Shut Up And Kiss Me” played. It made me miss the other tape even more as that contains my very favorite Chapin Carpenter song, “Passionate Kisses,” written by Lucinda Williams. Listen to it sometime and see you don’t reckon you deserve things like a comfortable bed, pens that don’t run out of ink, and passionate kisses.

I publicly thank my friend for this gift. I am fortunate to have rekindled my relationship with her as well as with Trouble-Bud. Btw – I put a small package in the mail to her the other day and she should receive it in the next day or two.

Tonight – Max and I are paying tribute to Batman, a young kitty we never met, but of whom I’ve heard stories including how he got his name (just think cat with its head stuck in a plastic bag handle) from my favorite cashier at the market downstairs. I noticed today that she looked very sad, which is unlike her, and she told me that Batman was diagnosed with cancer and died soon afterward. So here is to Batman and his human mother who loves him.

Last thing – I wish my brother could have been alive to see this day. Just think rainbows.

June 22, 2015 / thackersam

June 21 – Elton John – Elton John – Tumbleweed Connection – Madman Across the Water

Elton-TumbleweedWait! Where did all this Elton John come from all of a sudden? Well, I will tell you. I was expecting a CD of pictures Trouble-Buddy took during her visit a few weeks back, so imagine my surprise when I found this big box waiting for me. She had mentioned still having some of her old albums and thought I might like them, but you know, people say things. But she delivered. And more than just Elton John, whom I can take or leave.

Leave is how I’ve felt since he irked me to no end by his duet with Kiki Dee on “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” which if you have learned anything about me in the past year and a half or more, it should be that I really don’t like that song. I was however, highly entertained by the feud he had some years back with Keith Richards, made all the better because I couldn’t take sides, though I guess I was leaning towards Keith. But they both got some good shots in there, and if it were anyone other than Elton John involved, it would have been much less enjoyable.

I started perusing Trouble-Bud’s collection with John because that’s what I remember of her from the few but pivotal years we were tween and early high school friends. The other albums in the bunch are from artists I didn’t know she had liked. She had already moved away. I do recall that she particularly liked the song “Amoreena” from Tumbleweed Connection.

I’m covering the albums in order and all together due to that leave him thing, even though this is what I would consider his good stuff. The first album, John’s self-titled second, was impressively worn and crackly, but for me had little going for it except for “Take Me To The Pilot.” “Your Song” was the song that brought John and lyricist Bernie Taupin into the limelight, and while I think I liked it once, I find it plain sappy now. Tumbleweed Collection was a much better collection of songs, especially “Country Comfort,” though I still like Rod Stewart’s old cover of it, and the only song I like, and like a whole lot, from Madman Across the Water is “Madman Across the Water.” I few memories were stirred, but Elton John did not provide for a good workout. There are other songs from other albums that I do like from John and Taupin, but I don’t know what Taupin’s up to these days, and I find John a bit annoying. I do remember a television interview with Bernie Taupin in those early years during which his wife Maxine wore boots with her name boldly printed down both calves. I thought that was so totally cool that it influenced my perhaps not so wise decision to wear my own name on the seat of my pants, which I would later turned into shorts.

So in the coming months I will explore the rest of the albums, most of which I am very familiar with the artists but not these records. I’m looking forward to it. A big thanks to Trouble-Buddy, and happy summer solstice to all.

Elton-Madman

June 14, 2015 / thackersam

June 14 – Sheryl Crow – Tuesday Night Music Club

sheryl crowSheryl Crow and Stevie Nicks are good friends, and though Nicks served as a mentor, their styles are oh so very different. Remember, we just covered Nicks and her pivotal album Bella Donna last week and now we are on to Crow’s breakthrough album. Nicks’ backstory is also quite different – she was making music with then boyfriend Lindsey Buckingham, taking odd jobs to pay the rent, when Mick Fleetwood calls her boyfriend to join the well-established and respected Fleetwood Mac, but he won’t go unless Stevie can too. And there you have it, great rock ‘n roll history based on the magic that occurred.

Crow, a child of musical parents, taught music, sang jingles and then backup for some pretty major folk. She toured with Michael Jackson before stepping out bigtime from the shadows with this, her second attempt at a debut album in 1993 from which “All I Wanna Do” got her loads of attention. In contrast to Nicks’ mystical mystique, Crow was comfortable rockin’ the MaryAnn look in plaid shirts and cutoffs, looking like a laid-back, guitar-playing natural woman (aside – when I first heard “Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin, as a little girl, I thought she was singing – “you make me feel like a man should a woman” and that she had lost her shawl, not soul, which was recovered from the lost and found).

I am very glad to have found this CD for a buck at Housing Works. I’ve had the tape for nearly 20 years, but as we all know I can’t play cassettes anymore. I probably wore down “Strong Enough” and “No One Said It Would Be Easy” anyway. Good songs. And though I like this album much better than Nicks’ Bella Donna, Stevie’s songs like “Landslide” and “Silver Springs” outrank any of Crow’s on my long list of all-time favorites. However, Tuesday Night Music Club is a much, much better workout album.

Off-topic: You know how I like learning the origins of songs? Well, today on CBS’ Sunday morning program, musician and producer, whom I’ve never heard of, Mark Ronson was interviewed. Turns out he produced Back to Black, the Amy Winehouse album that currently provides the background for more than half of the long workout (my long workout is a little more than an hour and the short one, which does not include Amy, is 38 minutes). He was also a friend, and one day when Winehouse told him that they were trying to make her go to rehab, he said no, no, no. Understandably he is regretful, but they did put out a quality piece of work and now I know who he is.

Btw – another beautiful Sunday in NYC.

June 7, 2015 / thackersam

June 7 – Stevie Nicks – Bella Donna

Nicks - Bella DonnaThe ever-beautiful Stevie Nicks, who just turned 67, had made a mighty big impression when she and Lindsey Buckingham joined the long-established Fleetwood Mac back in the late 70s, as we all know. It’s classic rock ‘n roll history, plus she and Lindsey have been highlighted in my Fleetwood Mac posts of the cassettes I was lucky to listen to and review before my tape deck died.

The very talented, very pretty singer with the unique voice and style, broke out on her own releasing her first solo album in the summer of 1981. It includes none of my favorite Stevie Nicks songs, least of which may well be her collaboration with Don Henley on “Leather and Lace,” a song for some reason I find annoying. It was also before I began to appreciate Henley, but I don’t think that would make a difference. I still don’t like it. I do remember being fascinated by an interview with Nicks on WNEW-FM back when she released Bella Donna, during which she showed she was not only an accomplished songwriter, but a storyteller as well, and I particularly enjoyed her explanation of how she came up with “The Edge of Seventeen.” Turns out she was conversing with Tom Petty’s wife one day, as Nicks and Petty performed “Stop Dragging My Heart Around” together on the album, and Petty’s wife told Nicks that they had met at the age of seventeen, but with Petty’s wife’s southern accent, Nicks thought she had said at the edge of seventeen, and so the song was born. (It should be mentioned that we are referring to Petty’s first wife, to whom he was married for more than 20 years before typically trading her in for a younger facsimile.)

I like when you can form a story around a title. I do that all the time. Trouble is I’ve got so many titles, and so many first lines.

While I find this album dated, it does stir up memories, like working for a radio production company back then and hanging out most Friday nights with my colleague and her husband. It was also the year Vicki came home to New York and fun times were had by all. Stevie however, was not on either of our playlists as I was all about the Bruce and Vicki was into the likes of The Talking Heads and Elvis Costello. She also leaned towards punk and I remember the vision of her one night at Cagney’s wearing a muscle tee and rolled up jeans, drinking a vodka martini while reconnecting with a guy friend from high school who had just become a corporate lawyer and was wearing a suit and tie. At the time, Vicki was an unemployed social worker, who was working the nightshift at her local Taco Bell. Within the year, I too would be unemployed after my company lost funding for one of its programs and moved its headquarters to the Poconos. I think I made the right choice not to go with them, as those were some of the best times of my life, you know, when you could still be frivolous and somewhat dim-witted. And of course, cute. Good times.

Damn – now I want Taco Bell, even though a Chipotle just opened up downstairs. Btw, this is not a good exercise CD.

 

June 1, 2015 / thackersam

May 31 – Year Three

squirrel & jackI wrote an article for tonight’s post about my fantasy of interviewing actresses Helen Hunt, Bonnie Hunt and Linda Hunt together over drinks. I must have been a little too relaxed the evening I wrote it, because as funny as I thought it was when I was writing it, upon further review, I believe I would be the only one amused by it. Then, I had the brilliant idea this morning to write about the spinach salads I have nearly every work day for lunch, as tomorrow is Fernando’s birthday. Fernando holds the first-man position on the salad line at the Flavors across from my office, and often has all my ingredients from his station in the silver bowl before I even plop my large container of spinach on the counter in front of him. Again, I enjoyed writing it, but I admit it is kind of lame, even if Fernando holds a special place in my heart and I can make him blush. So tonight, I write about nothing. Except to say that this coming Wednesday is my three year anniversary of quitting smoking. That’s why I’ve used the picture of a smoking squirrel with a bottle of Jack from my anniversary article of last year on Why I Can No Longer Feed the Squirrels. It’s too precious. Btw – I don’t even have cravings for cigarettes anymore, but I do hang out with Jack every now and then.

May 25, 2015 / thackersam

May 24 – TLC – Crazy Sexy Cool

TLCTonight’s post will be a three-parter as I’ve got a few things to cover, starting with TLC. This is actually a pretty good CD, at least it starts out that way. I got a little bored with it after a while, but it was still a decent workout. I always liked “Red Light Special,” song and video, and love “Creep,” song, video, the whole production. This is a more mature TLC than when they first hit the scene a few years prior in the very early 90s. I remember seeing them on MTV, I being in my mid-30s at a time when they were just some smug punky girls in stupid clothes. I found them both annoying and quite appealing with catchy tunes like “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” and “Baby Baby Baby.” I found them even more appealing and much less annoying with Crazy Sexy Cool, which showed that they could very successfully go from punky girls to punky young women with better clothing selections. I guess I was a punky kid too once, but without their confidence and spunk.

The extent of the trouble my old trouble-buddy and I caused during her visit last weekend, was quite mild if not nonexistent, as we are way far away from our punky days. It involved watching the final episode of Madmen the last night she was here, which was the first time I’d seen the show, and having cocktails and pizza at the bar of a local restaurant on her first night. As tweens we loved cooking and eating hot dogs, canned ravioli, frozen wanton soup and of course Progresso minestrone soup with lots of parmesan cheese. Now, we both love seltzer. It was also the first time in ages I had anybody stay over for more than one night. But, it was okay. It worked out well and didn’t even seem to last the four days and three nights as the time was filled with nonstop conversation. Isn’t it funny how someone you knew pretty well in junior high and early high school, someone who you thought was self-assured and confident, was just as insecure as you were? That’s one of the things I learned about trouble-buddy and wonder if that’s something she felt, and feels about me as well. Cause I was a mass of insecurities. And that leads to all sorts of things, mostly mistakes. Sometimes though when I hear other women’s stories about the men in their lives, and not just trouble-buddy’s, I feel the need to call the ex and thank him for not being the worst boyfriend in the world. But I don’t want to let him off that easy.

Did I ever mention the time when my boyfriend who looked like Bruce Springsteen (not the ex) and I saw Paul Schaefer somewhere west of the Winter Garden Theater one cold winter day, oh about 32 years ago? He was wrapped in one of those long down coats that practically devoured him, and he smiled at us when my boyfriend (the one that looked like Bruce Springsteen) said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Paul Schaefer.” We were fans from the get-go and it was so early in his tenure as a late night fixture that he probably hadn’t tire of hearing that yet. And with that fond memory, I would like to thank David Letterman for years of unconventional hilarity and complete enjoyment on my part. Thank you very much. It was greatly appreciated.

May 18, 2015 / thackersam

May 17 – Heighty Hi

Amy&We’re taking a trip back, far back in my life, but only to early last year in blog time to the Rod Stewart albums. Not the Faces because we split them up if you remember. If you so choose, you may refer to March 31, 2014 – Every Picture Tells a Story, which then refers back to a Lee Michaels post on the prior January 5th. I was 14 and 15 in those stories, and so was my friend, my trouble-buddy I’ve written about, who also appears in an even earlier post about my 45s and again in a later one on August 31, 2014, when I saw my old bud for the first time in decades. Well, here she is now, sitting next to me on my couch as I post tonight’s article. She came up for a solemn occasion having to do with our old friend with whom we had dinner that late August evening, and who just succumbed to her cancer. Trouble-bud and Robin (as we can now use her name) were very close in high school and remained close despite physical distance since. She came up from her southern home and is roosting with me for the weekend. So, if you don’t mind, this is tonight’s post as my bud and I have much to catch up on and have not caused enough trouble yet. Nor are we likely to, as we don’t actually remember how.

No exercise for a while, but we’ve done some walking and just came back from an evening cruise on the Staten Island Ferry.

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