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December 18, 2014 / thackersam

December 17 – Joe Cocker – With a Little Help from My Friends

CockerThe funny thing is, when I put this CD on recently I thought the Joe Cocker I had on cassette tape, which I had exercised to last May was so much better than this. It starts off great but quickly dives down. Don’t get me wrong, I love Joe Cocker’s soulful voice, he is a great singer. And great to watch perform. A songwriter, not so much. So of course I had to look for the tape to refresh my memory, and found that, sure ‘nuf, it’s the same album. But I don’t remember – how did I feel about it eight months and numerous albums ago? Happy to say, I wrote just about the same thing. I’m not fickle. And I will agree with myself further to say that I still need to get more Joe Cocker. Just not this one.

Btw – impressive friends on this record with the likes of Jimmy Page and Stevie Winwood.

December 15, 2014 / thackersam

December 14 – Gladys Knight and the Pips – Greatest Hits

GladysLong ago, when the Pips were still together, I had a really great cat named Bubba. All my cats have been special, but Bubba was especially special. He was one good-looking guy who would have led you to believe he was pure Russian blue until you looked closely at the faint rings of a tabby on his tail. And smart, cleverly smart; sociable with both feline and human; sweet, cuddly and playful; a great personality tempered with a dark side that included a good bit of attitude. For all these traits, even the Bubbattude, if you will, everyone loved him. Except for the family that had abandoned him. The story I was told by the neighborhood kids was that they were moving, put Bubba, or whatever his name was at the time, in the car, he jumped out, they looked for him for a short time before driving off and never coming back. This beautiful, sleek, determined, dark grey cat basically muscled his way into my ground floor Queens garden apartment by continuously picking at my window screen. He didn’t look like a Bubba, but that was what I wanted to call him, after Gladys Knights’ brother Merald, better known as Bubba, both Bubbas being pips. We had a happy life together, Bubba and I, and I’m sure he had no problem with the name I chose for him.

I actually have a bad cassette tape of this best of CD that someone with whom I worked at a music conservatory made for me more than 15 years ago. I was manning the front desk one Monday evening as everyone filed into the auditorium for adult chorus and to wait for the chorus leader to arrive. He was always running late. Jazz musicians. I was listening to one of the songs on this tape and blurted out something like – geez I wish I could sing like Gladys. Then a voice behind me said “then join my chorus.” I eventually did join the chorus and also started taking singing lessons with the chorus leader with the idea of having a cabaret act. I was getting pretty good. My range stretched quickly in a short time. But then you know, things got complicated. Jazz musicians. And I had something to do with it. So Gladys and her Pips started my short-lived show-biz ambitions, and now provides a pretty decent workout along with memories.

Before you ask, I do like all three of the best-known versions of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” Marvin Gaye’s and Creedance Clearwater Revival’s are both very good, but when Gladys sings “take a good look at these tears in my eyes,” it’s a command that must be obeyed. She’s pissed. The song has force and comes from the gut the way Gladys Knight does it and is my favorite of the three.

I also have a fondness for “Midnight Train to Georgia,” but my favorite Pips song is “Neither One of Us (Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye)” for kind of the same reason.

December 11, 2014 / thackersam

December 10 – HAPPY

MinionsLast week, I ate cookies in bed, two nights in a row. And I don’t care. Remember that mammogram I didn’t tell you about that I had the day before my birthday, which was my first follow up in too long a time after the cancer surgery I had and only alluded to way back at the beginning of The Walrus Was Paul? Well, I had good news, very good news and thought if there was ever a time I deserved to eat cookies in bed, two nights in a row, it was at that moment(s). I did wait until after meeting with the oncologist and confirming the findings to share my good news with you. And I want to of course, but I am cautious about what I do share, for various reasons, but in this case I didn’t want to focus on that issue. It’s an important issue, I know very well, but I’ve got a tangled theme as it is that I’d like to stick with. But I wanted you to know that I am good!

I know! Didn’t I just have another bit of wonderful health news recently? Yes, indeed I did. And it doesn’t stop there. My planets must be very well aligned these days because something unexpected that is good for me happened at work. And that’s all I’ll say about that because this is not a bitch session about my job (which by the way, I do like certain aspects of). Oh and my laptop came home last night. This is my first time really using it since it went into rehab, and it’s great. The D key, and all its neighbors are still in place. I am HAPPY and playing the lottery.

I’ve also got more CDs that I’m enjoying and will write about later. But why do they make CD packaging so hard to open? I remember coming home all excited with a new album, ripping it open and throwing it on the turntable. It’s not that simple anymore. I actually just got a lecture on buying CDs instead of downloading music. This is a big step for me though, and I’m having fun.

December 8, 2014 / thackersam

December 7 – A Tribute to Bruce

BTbruce1-06-12-2013-15-12-09-62-Did anyone see the Tribute to Bruce Springsteen on PBS the other night? It started out great. Hosted by John Stewart, it kicked off with Alabama Shakes belting out “Adam Raised a Cain” (singer Brittany Howard needs a tougher name) followed by iconic Patti Smith looking just as a soon to be 68 year old Patti Smith would look, and sounding great singing their collaboration “Because the Night.” Then I was kind of underwhelmed. I liked Sting doing his Bruce impression, but it was when Neil Young AND Crazy Horse came on all looking as old as the hills and performing “Born in the USA,” and rockin’ the house that my interest really returned. Something about it struck me funny, everyone up and dancing to Neil Young. Then at the end of the song, old Neil starts Brucing. You know, chanting over and over Bruuuuuuce, as Bruce fans are known to do. Neil always was an odd boy.

As soon as the song was over, the ex called to let me know that if he had to catch the later train in the morning it was Neil Young’s fault, because he thought he would just fall asleep on the show but Neil’s unique performance made him want to stay up for the rest. The rest was Bruce luckily for me, because you know I love Bruce, and always will, but I am not up on his recent stuff that others were performing, and by recent I mean nothing much after “Streets of Philadelphia,” so I was glad he performed “Born to Run” and my tied for favorite with “Rosalita,” “Thunder Road” with the remainder of The East Street Band.

So the ex did catch the later train, which didn’t interfere with our usual eating of bacon and eggs and going to see a good current movie. Last time, if you recall, we saw Birdman and yesterday’s pick was The Theory of Everything about physicist Stephen Hawking. A little slow for me, but a good English movie. While I wanted them to get into the science more, and get to it, I didn’t even realize that the movie ran over two hours. It does hold one’s interest. And I didn’t know beforehand that it was based on Hawking’s wife’s book (nor that she had written a book, or even that Hawking had been married with children). As both the ex and I enjoy watching the closing credits, I found that out after the movie ended and that explained a lot for me. I like Hawking even more now. He’s got a great sense of humor, I loved him on The Big Bang Theory, and I know that I will love him when he gets his wish and is cast as a Bond villain, which will definitely motivate me to do something I have not done in decades – go see a James Bond film. Yes, Hawking wants to be a Bond villain, and I think it’s a swell idea.

December 4, 2014 / thackersam

December 3 – Squeeze – Singles

SqueezeMy friend moved. Did I tell you that? My friend who inspired me to move to Manhattan. And now she’s not only out of the City, she’s gone to another state. Connecticut. So it’s not like I won’t see her, it just won’t be near as much, and without any spontaneity. I am enjoying the spontaneousness of being a Manhattanite. It’s a shame, but some people think they can skate through life being financially irresponsible, and then – Boom! It catches up with them.

I tell you this because it was she who gave me this CD. Long ago, before the exercise project was even a glimmer of light in the distance. I think she didn’t want it anymore and I never knew why. And know I understand less why someone wouldn’t want this greatest hits compilation. I don’t know much about the band, nothing really, but I recognize every song, and can sing along with most. They had their own distinct sound that was never monotonous. You know them from their paralleling, rather than harmonizing of tenor and bass voices like in “Take Me I’m Yours” as well as for their very Ian Druryish “Cool for Cats.” I caught the end of a recent televised concert some months ago, and they still sound good.

Either I’ve just been in a good mood lately or I’ve been listening to some really enjoyable tunes and getting in some mighty fine workouts. And you know, Benny Goodman is still on the turntable.

November 30, 2014 / thackersam

November 30 – Columbo

ColumboLast Sunday, while trying to figure out how to post on my blog from the old laptop that doesn’t have the same mindset as the new model (kind of like me), I missed the first half hour of Columbo. Vicki and I, unbeknownst to each other at first, had both gotten into the habit of watching the old ’70 show every Sunday night on one of those cable stations that runs TV programs of yore. I was so determined to deal with my new laptop already being in the shop for the next few weeks, and get this old guy going, I denied myself any rewards like turning on the television before the task was complete. Darn. It was about a murdering mystery writer played by Jack Cassidy (father of David) with Peter Falk in his most famous role (you know he was nominated for an academy award twice a decade prior). It was directed in 1977 by Steven Spielberg, who was all of 24 at the time. It was a good one, but I achieved my goal. Sort of.

Not enough female killers on Columbo. I can only remember Trish Van Devere.

I’m just babbling tonight. Nothing new to report. Oh, except that last Sunday I went out to brunch with my cousin wearing those size 10 jeans I said that I could squish into but not yet dare wear out, and had no regrets. I think I am no officially a size 10 again.

November 27, 2014 / thackersam

November 26 on November 27th

Jimi_HendrixHappy Thanksgiving tomorrow. Also tomorrow, happy birthday to the late Jimi Hendrix, if that’s appropriate, to the current Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, to Chauncey Grubbs (a girl with whom I went to high school), wherever she may be, and me. Still with Benny. I guess that’s obvious.

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