Tune Tuesday – Don’t Let Go

When I first started working in radio, it was at an oldies station.  My dad, who was my biggest musical influence, took advantage of the fact that we had an extensive library and asked me to throw some of his favorites on a cassette for him.  This was how I was introduced to the music of Roy Hamilton.

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Roy Hamilton would have been 90 today.  He started singing in his church choir and eventually landed a record deal at Columbia Records, which quickly sent him to their new subsidiary label, Epic.  He recorded You’ll Never Walk Alone from the musical Carousel, Ebb Tide, and an amazing version of Unchained Melody (which reached number 1 on the R&B charts).

In mid-1956, he developed a lung condition which forced him to announce that he was retiring from the music business.  When was well enough, he got back into show business, but there had been quite a change in music – rock and roll music was big and the standards he was recording before his retirement were on the way out.  In 1957, Epic Records coaxed him into recording “Don’t Let Go”.  The song was produced by Otis Blackwell, who had just produced “Don’t Be Cruel” and “All Shook Up” for Elvis Presley.  It became a top 15 record for him and the song is said to be the first Top 40 record recorded in stereo.

He was Epic’s first major star and they treated him very well.  He released 16 albums for them.  He was a big influence to singers like Sam Cooke and Elvis.  In 1969, while at home, he suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage.  He spent a week in a coma before his family took him off life support.  He passed away at the young age of 40.

Working at WHND Honey Radio, we played music exclusively from the first decade of Rock and Roll.  I got to play quite a bit of Roy Hamilton’s music.  You Can Have Her and Don’t Let Go still sound fresh and fun today.  His voice is powerful and even though it shined on ballads, I am partial to his uptempo stuff.  In honor of his 90th, birthday, here’s Don’t Let Go….

ROY HAM

 

 

Questions and Answers #3

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The Facebook “Memories” feed can be a good thing or a bad thing.  Sometimes, I am reminded of times in my life where I was just going through the motions, pretending that all was right in my world, when it wasn’t.  Sometimes I get sad to see picture of my son’s as toddlers and am reminded of how fast they grow up.  Sometimes, I will smile at things from my past radio career and sometimes I smile as I see reminders of the good things that have happened over the past few years.

This blog is just over a year old, and this week I was reminded by Facebook that I asked my Facebook friends to ask me questions they wanted me to answer.  I looked back through my blogs and realized that the last time I did a “Q&A” blog was in October, so I once again asked for Questions…..what follows is the answers to those questions.  (If a non-Facebook friend and follower ever has a question you’d like answered, feel free to ask in the comments.)

Melanie

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Melanie was my next door neighbor in Flint, MI.  Our street was literally behind K-Mart.  Her question, which was probably meant as a joke, is “Do you miss living behind K-Mart in Flint?”  I say she probably meant it as a joke, because the neighborhood, which used to be a very nice one, is a far cry from what it used to be.  The crime level in that part of town is much higher than it was when we were living there.

I have to be honest, I do miss that house.  It was the first home I ever bought.  It is also the home I brought my first son home to.  I remember painting the nursery in tan and putting up all the Noah’s Ark themed borders, building the crib, etc.  I remember watching my dad and son play catch in the backyard.  I remember my mom, who was still in the middle of her cancer treatments, laying on the floor and playing with my son.  I have so many great pictures of her with him in that house.

I remember the old shed in the back and the swing set I built for him.  I remember almost setting the house on fire with the barbecue and ripping out the fence that was between our house and Melanie’s old house.  I also remember pulling my son in his birthday wagon around the neighborhood on summer days.

I also remember the great neighbors we had.  As I said, Melanie and her husband lived next door and were always good neighbors.  On the other side, Jerry lived there with his daughter Terry Sue.  Her kids Jerry and Stephanie would often come over and they’d play with my son.  I would often talk with their Aunt Diane, too, who lived just down the street.  Jerry was a nice man.  He was always willing to loan me a tool if I needed one, or help me with my lawnmower.  He’d often be the guy who cleared my driveway with his snow blower in the winter.  Sadly he passed away shortly after we moved in.

Next to Jerry was Harry and Myrt.  They were an elderly couple who were from down south.  Harry loved to talk politics.  Myrt always made us candy at Christmas time.  You could always find them on the porch drinking sweet tea, and always a pleasure to talk to.  Another elderly couple lived across the street when I first moved in, Ed and Margie.  They were such great people, he was always riding his bike around the neighborhood and always smiling.  We were so sad when he and Margie passed away.

When Melanie moved away, we were blessed with another wonderful couple as neighbors – Jamie and Jason.  Their plan was much like ours, this house was kind of our starter house and we had hoped to move once our son came.  They moved before we did and that was when things started to go bad.  Their old house had a milk chute.  It was next to their side door.  The guy who moved in was probably about 24, and he was up at all hours of the night.  He was renting the house from his aunt and we found out he was using the house to sell drugs.  There were people up and down the driveway all night.  They’d drop their order in the milk chute and come back to get it later.  He never threw anything away and there were bags of trash all over the back yard.  I’m still not sure what exactly happened to the guy, but he suddenly disappeared.  I have heard rumors, but never really found out more.  It wasn’t long after that, we moved away.

James

Downrock

Again, probably meant as a joke, but he wants to know my “take on breakdancing”. Here is my take – I can’t do it.  I can do the Curly Shuffle and the Box Step (thanks to high school gym class).  I am amazed that people can do this.  There is talk of it being an Olympic Event, so it must something that interests people.  If I had the chance to take dance lessons, I would opt for ballroom dancing over break dancing.

Marcia

Marcia is a dear friend from elementary school and always loves to ask questions.  Today, she asks “Who was your favorite teacher at Carlson (our school) and why?”

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I moved to the district in 2nd grade.  Any time a kid moves and had to change schools, there is stress involved.  I remember Mrs. Cook being a very sweet lady and made the transition much easier.  I only had her for about half a year, and remember that I liked her very much.  However, if I had to pick a favorite elementary school teacher, (meaning someone who’s class I was in) it would have to pick Mrs. Gallop.

I remember her being very fun.  While I don’t remember many specific things, I remember she made me laugh a lot.  I had a great respect for her and I remember not wanting to ever disappoint her.  Two distinct memories I have of her class both involve reading.  I remember she read many books to us.  It was one of my favorite things about the class.  I remember her reading us “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” by Judy Blume.  There was a sequel she read to us to about the main character’s brother Fudge.  She always was very animated when she read them.  I have those books on my shelf, as I bought them for my sons.

I also remember her reading James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.   I remember there was a swear word in it (ass or damn, I think) and she prepped the whole class.  “There is a bad word in this story.  I really don’t want to read it, but if I do, remember that it is not nice to say words like that.”  When she said it, some gasped and some chuckled.  She just kept on reading …

Fourth grade was probably my favorite elementary school year.  Mrs. Gallop was instrumental in that.  She was so much fun and made learning fun.  Years after I graduated, I was working for the district as a custodian part-time.  She had moved up to either principal or assistant principal at the middle school.  She was in her office and I remember walking in and saying hello.  I told her she probably wouldn’t remember me, but when I told her my name, she said “Of course I remember you.  You had just got your glasses over the summer and you told me that you were so glad you could see the board, and your friends, and me!”  How she remembered that, I really don’t know.  I assumed she was just saying she remembered me to shut me up, but I had gotten my glasses over the summer, so she remembered.

I may or may not have looked for her on Facebook, some teachers who have Facebook accounts don’t use it to connect to former students.  At any rate, she is not my friend on there.  I have written about teachers in the past, and I firmly believe that they make a difference each and every day in the lives of their students.  They play such an important role.  She was such a wonderful lady and I was lucky that I was in her class.  If any teachers from the district still keep in touch with her, please let her know that I am forever grateful for the laughs, the learning, and for making me feel like I mattered.

Joseph

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Joe is one of my oldest friends.  We met in band class in junior high.  One of the things we have in common is our love for music.  No surprise that his question is “What was your favorite piece of music to play in band?”  I responded and asked if he meant concert or marching band.  He said it was my choice and that he would “go easy on” me.

Trying to pick one song out of four years worth of music is quite a task.  I thought about it a lot before writing this.  I have narrowed it down, but cannot pick just one.  I also looked at both marching band and concert band separately.  I hope you don’t mind, Joe, but here are the Top 5 for each:

Concert Band

5 – The Seventies Medley

4 – Armed Forces Salute

3 – Hall of Fame March

2 – Tin Pan Alley

1 – Four of a Kind

Marching Band

5 – Washington and Lee Swing (for sentimental reasons)

4 – Artistry in Rhythm

3 – Doggin’ Around

2 – We Got the Beat

1 – Sing, Sing, Sing

It was far from easy to do this, Joe!  I also realize I can probably write an entire blog about this.

Vince

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Vince asks a question that I used to get often when I did Career Day presentations at schools while working in radio.  He says, “Radio call in prizes … Ex: Caller #20 wins tickets …. are they legitimate? If yes, is there a strategy to calling in?”

The quick answer (at least in my experience) is yes.  Before I explain, let me talk a bit about contesting.  When I first started in radio, access to the internet was not really a thing.  We used to have many trivia books and often asked musical questions or questions we found in those trivia books to give away prizes.  When Trivial Pursuit came out, we had the boxes of questions in the studio to ask.  It’s hard to do those kind of things today because so many people can Google the answers and it is just not fun to do any more.  I’m not sure why the “be caller # ___” contests have become so popular, to be honest.  I really dislike those contests.  There is no entertainment value to it at all – and it is not fun for the DJ.  When I was at Kiss-FM, we had 6 requests lines, today, it’s usually 3.  So the DJ has to literally answer the phones, “You’re caller number 1 (click) you’re caller number 2 (click) you’re caller number 3 (click)” and so on….

Many stations use their frequency to pick the caller number – 95.5 looks for the 95th caller, 89X looks for caller 89, etc.  How is this entertaining for the listeners who are not playing?  The answer is – it isn’t.  As far as a strategy, I don’t know of any.  Back in the day, you used “speed dial” to get in and just keep redialing.  Today, with cell phones, there is no speed dial.  It’s the luck of the draw.  There are people who we call “contest pigs” who literally sit and listen for radio contests up and down the dial.  They spend all day dialing to win prizes.  There are two things radio DJ hate about those winners – first, when they tell you “I was caller 1, 7, 18, 33, and ….” we usually edit that out of the call for play back on the air.  We don’t want other listeners to know that they couldn’t get through because you and your family were monopolizing the phone lines.  The other thing we hate is when we finally get a winner for a very cool prize and they act like they could care less.  “Hey, Vince!  You just won $15,000!” and their response is an unemotional “Gee, thanks.  Do you like write me a check or something for that?”  That’s the response you expect from “Congrats!  You just won a free taco and tickets to the flower show.”

I don’t do radio full-time any more, so contesting is a bit different now.  Many stations run company wide contesting now.  They’ll tell you this in their promo mentions.  Basically, a company who owns stations throughout the country, all the stations are giving away the prize and all the listeners from all the stations have a chance to win it.  The odds are just a tad worse than when there is a local contest.

Aaron

Of all the questions asked, Aaron asked the most difficult: “If you had to pick your top 5 or 10 1980’s (your choice) movies for a must see list what would they be?”

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For the record, I literally went year by year from 1980-1989 thinking I could narrow it down to 5 or 10.  Then I thought “I can’t do this!” and thought if I divided it into genre, I could make it easier.  That actually made it more difficult.  If anything, it made me realize how many great movies were made in the 80’s.  It also made me realize that some could easily fall into more than one genre.

So, Aaron, from my list here are some “must see” flicks from each year:

1980 – Airplane!, The Blues Brothers, Caddyshack, The Shining, Somewhere in Time, The Empire Strikes Back

1981 – Arthur, Cannonball Run, History of the World Part 1, Night Hawks, Private Lessons, Porky’s, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Stripes, Zorro – The Gay Blade

1982 – 48 Hours, Creepshow, ET, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

1983 – A Christmas Story, The Dead Zone, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Trading Places, War Games, Doctor Detroit

1984 – Beverly Hills Cop, Footloose, Ghostbusters, Johnny Dangerously, The Karate Kid, The Natural, Police Academy, Revenge of the Nerds, Terminator

1985 – Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club, Clue, Fletch, A View to a Kill

1986 – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Golden Child, One Crazy Summer, The Three Amigos, Top Gun, The Color of Money, Aliens

1987 – Good Morning Vietnam, Fatal Attraction, La Bamba, No Way Out, Planes Trains and Automobiles, The Princess Bride, Robocop, The Untouchables, Adventures in Baby Sitting, Spaceballs

1988 – The Naked Gun, Rain Man, Scrooged, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Coming to America, Big, Beetlejuice

1989 – Batman, Dead Poet’s Society, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Weekend at Bernie’s, Tango and Cash, UHF, Uncle Buck

After spending way too much time trying to sort them….It was just easier that way.  I had hoped to expand on all of these.  I am sure that I left MANY off.  I even edited the edited list to get to these.  Some of them are on the list because they are personal favorites.  How about you, Aaron (or any other reader)…if you had to pick 5 or 10, could you do it??

Thanks to those who sent questions!  It’s always fun for me to answer them!

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Random Thursday Thoughts

There is no real theme to today’s blog.  Over the past 24 hours, I have jotted down a few thoughts in my notebook and I decided to put them all in one place.

Happy 17th Birthday, Dante’!

Last year, I wrote a blog for my son’s 16th birthday.  You can read it here:

https://nostalgicitalian.com/2018/04/11/sweet-16-already/

I have no comprehension of just where the time goes!  I mean, he just turned 16!  Has it really been 365 days already?!  Just yesterday, we were talking about how we’re going to need to rent a pavilion for his graduation party, ordering senior pictures, whether or not he’s going to want a class ring, and things like that.  It seems like yesterday that I was holding his hand as I walked him into his kindergarten class, and yet here he is about to be a senior!

He texted me at work yesterday and asked if he could call me.  I called him and he told me that he was watching the Simpsons and the episode made him think of me.  It’s the Stonecutter’s Episode.  In the episode, they are all seated around a table and they sing a song called “The Stonecutter’s Song (We Do).”  I have it on my iPod, and it is also the ringtone for my old radio boss, Brian, who is a big Simpsons fan.  Dante’ called me to sing the song to me on the phone and we had a very nice talk.  He had me smiling for the rest of the night.  I love that kid!  Happy Birthday, Dante’!  Can’t wait to celebrate with you this weekend!

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National Pet Day

I read that today is National Pet Day.  Growing up we always had dogs.  When I moved away for a radio job, I was given a cat to keep me company.  I think I’ve had a cat ever since.  I love dogs, don’t get me wrong, but with a cat, you can go away for a day or two and as long as they have food and water, they’re good.  We still talk about getting a dog in the future, but with us working long days, a dog would spend a lot of time cooped up in the house.

At any rate – in honor of National Pet Day, here are Maizey and Moe.

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Mortgage Company Followers?

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This bit is for my Word Press followers.  I seem to have a variety of mortgage companies or mortgage lenders who have begun to follow my blog.  Let me say this – I’m probably not going to post anything about real estate or mortgages on this blog, so you may as well unfollow me.  We are currently NOT looking for a new home, and I am wondering why my blog is so interesting to them.  I wonder if these accounts are fake.  I will get random notifications from Word Press saying that one of the said followers have “liked” one of my blog posts, usually one that was posted a while ago.  Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Conference Talk

Coming up in June, I am going to be a speaker at a Sleep Conference.  I am very excited about it, and had a nice discussion with my boss about it today.  We were tossing ideas back and forth and swapping ideas, which was extremely helpful.  It helped to be able to talk to someone who has already presented at a past conference.

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As a former radio guy, speaking in front of people has never been an issue.  For whatever reason, I had one of those “What the hell am I doing?” moments this week.  Usually, I am talking to a group of people who don’t know much about my topic.  At this conference, however, I am speaking to my peers.  I will be talking  to fellow technologists (many of who have been doing this longer than me), physicians (who know WAY more than I can even imagine), my coworkers, lab managers and DME company reps.  I’m not going to lie, I am intimidated.  I can only hope that I can present this in a way that excites my audience and informs them.  Oh, and I hope I don’t look like an idiot!

A Special Hello

I always share a link to new blogs on my Facebook page.  However, because I have friends who are still friends with people from my past, those posts were not made public to them.  A friend who was mentioned in a recent blog enjoyed it so much, he chose to share it on his Facebook page.  Because he and I went to the same school, and share many of the same friends, folks who I had intended not to see this page now can.

It’s really no big deal, if they get anything out of it, I hope they now see how very much my life has changed for the better and how happy I am.  I hope they read it and examine themselves and see just how judgmental they are.  I hope that realize the negative vibes that they bring about by their unhappiness.  If they want to surround themselves with hate, gossip, judgment, and find happiness in making others unhappy – so be it.  I’m glad that my life still interests you and will give you much to talk about.  Troll away – I am sorry for you sad existence.

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Have a great Thursday!

 

The “Carlson” Boys of Summer

Baseball - backyard

I took the above picture while standing in my backyard before I left for work.  Baseball practice has begun for our school district.  I always enjoy watching the kids and coaches work on plays.  Today they spent some time working on fielding a bunt and throwing to first base. As I stood there and watched, I was reminded of a post that my friend Andy had posted on Facebook recently.  He said “I wanna go back to when my only problem was if we didn’t have enough guys to play all fields open for baseball.” Those were some of the BEST summer days! Pardon me, while I step back to when I was in elementary school…..

My love for the game.

I don’t really recall when I became interested in baseball, but I remember it always being a part of our summers.  If my dad was out washing the cars or doing yard work, the Detroit Tigers were always on the radio.  The voices of Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey made all the calls.  When we would visit my grandparents, we would often watch them on TV as George Kell and Al Kaline announced the game.  I have been a Tiger fan for as long as I can remember.

I don’t remember when I got my first baseball mitt.  I do remember buying my first baseball bat.  It was a wooden Louisville Slugger with George Brett’s signature on it.  I remember it because George and I were both born on May 15.  I remember using money from my paper route to buy it.  I eventually bought a second bat with Dave Whitfield’s signature on it.

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I remember struggling to throw the baseball.  That’s where dad came in.  If I have never thanked him, let me do so now.  Thanks, Pop, for always making time to go out and thrown the ball around.  He’d call balls and strikes as we played catch.  He would occasionally throw me his “submarine” pitch (which was kind of a side arm pitch like Dan Quisenberry).  We went to the library and I checked out a book that showed how to throw a fastball, slider, curveball, and more.  Dad showed me how to throw a knuckleball, which I STILL love to throw.

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“Carlson Field”

There were two ball diamonds at our elementary school.  One had a backstop and faced the school.  The other was kind of a makeshift diamond that had dirt patches from where kids had made bases.  There was no backstop, and it had ruts in the grass from where kids ran from base to base.  There was also a spot for home plate and the pitcher’s mound was hardly a mound.  This field faced the other diamond and the road.  This was usually the diamond we played at.

One of the downsides of playing at this diamond was that it was that the school was about 10-12 feet behind us.  If you popped a foul ball behind you, it ended up on the roof.  Whether the game continued depended on 1) whether you had someone who could climb up to the roof to fetch it or 2) if you had extra baseballs. A benefit of playing here was there was a little valve on the school that if you had a wrench, you could turn it and get water – perfect for hot days.

Teams of Many Players

I remember during the summer I would wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, grab my mitt, put it on the end of my bat, grab the baseballs, get on my bike and head to the school.  Along the way, I might knock on a few doors and pick up other players, but it was rarely necessary.  It was a standing appointment every day.  We’d all meet up at the school and pick teams.  We’d do the hands on the bat thing to see who was up to bat first.

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Depending on how many kids showed up, we’d have to alter the rules a bit.  Sometimes we had to have a designated pitcher. If we didn’t have enough fielders, right field was out (unless you had a left-handed batter).  Sometimes we had to go catcher-less.  Many times when there was no first baseman, the pitcher’s mound was “out”! Then there were times where we were so short, we’d have someone hit and run to his base while the person on third base came back in to bat again with the “ghost runner” on the base.  It didn’t matter – we’d find a way to play!  Even if there were only three guys – one would pitch, one would bat, and one would field.  We spent SO many hours playing ball!

Off the top of my head, I remember Jeff, Tom, Bill, Frank, Mike, Steve, Leo, John, Danny, Dave, Carl, Tomlin, Ed, Mike Smith, and so many others playing ball.  If Andy and his brothers Ray and Tommy, were home, they were always there too.  There was a wide range of ages, and we often let some of the younger kids play.  I am sure that my dad came up once or twice to pitch to us and “ump”.

Just like in professional ball, there were amazing catches, close plays at first, strike outs, arguments with umpires, and long drives to left field for home runs.  We often “called” the games like Ernie Harwell.  If we all had a dollar for every time we said or heard “Hey, batter, batter!  SWING”, we’d be debt free!  There were no uniforms, but you could bet that almost every one of us had a Tiger baseball cap on!

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Day after day, all summer long we played ball.  I wish I could remember more detailed stories of our baseball heroics, but most of them have been lost with time.  Perhaps some of the guys I mentioned (and tagged on Facebook) can recall a story or two I can add to this blog.  I do have one memory that I can recall as clear as day….

Big Mike

Mike lived across the street from us and was always up for baseball.  Mike was a big kid.  He had some power when he made contact with the ball, no doubt about it.  I do remember taking away a home run from him once.  At any rate, because of his size, he didn’t really run fast.  The distinct memory I have of him is this – if you were the catcher and Mike was running home, you had better hope to avoid him and get the tag on him. There were many catchers who caught a ball from the outfielder who stood in front of Mike as he charged home, only to get plowed and knocked on their ass!  Mike knew his body was like a Mack truck and was not afraid to use it!  If he could plow into you and make you drop the ball, he was all about that.  I learned that the hard way once!  I can’t remember how long it took me to catch my breath after he had knocked the wind out of me, but it seemed like eternity!!

Looking Back …

I am glad that I grew up at a time where kids actually wanted to play outside.  Today, trying to get my boys to go outside and play is a chore!  There is the Xbox and Wii U and games on their phones that make them want to stay inside.  It is sad.  Both of my son’s played T-ball and Baseball and I was lucky enough to coach each of them.  They never really chose to continue playing, but every once in a while, they’ll be happy to throw the ball around with their old man and that makes me feel young again.

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Tune Tuesday – Feelin’ Good

One of my followers asked how picked my songs for Tune Tuesday.  To be honest, I have no rhyme or reason for the songs that end up here.  Last week, I wrote about Marvin Gaye for his birthday, and the week before that it was Nat King Cole for his birthday.  Today, it just happens to be a song I heard while in my car this afternoon.  It also happens to be a song that fits where I am in my life right now.

In the past year I have been blogging, I have written much about weeding out negativity, and the positive changes that have happened in my life.  I have written about reaching a point where I thought of ending my life, only to come through dark times to find true love and true happiness.  This song totally fits where I am now –  Feeling Good!

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The Song

The song was written by singer, songwriter, and actor Anthony Newley for the musical “The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd”.  Despite being covered by many artists (including Traffic, The Pussycat Dolls, George Michael, Joe Bonamassa, and John Coltrane – just to name a few), prior to Michael Buble’s version, the best known version was by the amazing Nina Simone. She recorded it for her 1965 “I Put a Spell on You” album.  Her version was never released as a single, but became known because of a Volkswagen advertisement in 1994.

Michael Buble’

I was first introduced to his music from a friend of mine who worked at All Access.  Kelly knew I was a big fan of the “Great American Songbook”, and the music of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Billie Holiday, and other great vocalists.  We spent a lot of time talking music.  She sent me a copy of Buble’s debut album and I was pretty impressed.  I was not only impressed with his vocals, but I was impressed with his band and the arrangements of the songs.  When his next album, “It’s Time”, hit stores, I made sure to pick it up.

Feelin’ Good is the opening cut from the “It’s Time” album.  It was released as a single, coincidentally this month in 2005.  The song opens with a slow fade up, and Michael’s vocal.  It’s soft and smooth and then the band kicks in with a big bass line, a sloppy and bluesy brass line, and you are hooked.  Everything about the arrangement of this song is perfect.  I love Nina’s version, but after you hear Buble’s version, it sounds “unfinished”.  It sounds weak and like it needs a few more musicians.

Buble’ acknowledges the influences of Dean, Frank, Tony Bennett, and continues to keep those wonderful songs alive (as well as some originals of his own).  Many people think of him and think of his Christmas music, which is sad.  He has SO many great songs.

As I reflect on where I am now in my life, I have found a happiness that I never knew I could experience.  I have found a love that many only dream about.  Ask me how I am feeling, and I will tell you I am “Feeling Good!”

Feeling Good

Birds flying high
You know how I feel
Sun in the sky
You know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by
You know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good
I’m feeling good
Fish in the sea
You know how I feel
River running free
You know how I feel
Blossom on the tree
You know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good
Dragonfly out in the sun,
You know what I mean, don’t you know
Butterflies all havin’ fun,
You know what I mean
Sleep in peace when the day is done, that’s what I mean
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
For me
For me
Stars when you shine
You know how I feel
Scent of the pine
You know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good
I’m feeling good
I’m feeling so good
I feel so good

 

I’m making a list ….

The iPod Classic debuted in 2001.  At this particular time in my life, most of my music was on “mix tapes” or on CD’s.  It was about 2006 when I finally caved and bought my iPod.  I bought the 80 gig version.  The iPod has out lasted the computer that I originally used for iTunes!  Eventually, after loading it with over 5000 songs, I reached the point where I reached the maximum amount of computers that I could use for that iPod (I don’t know, maybe that’s changed now).  It has been some time since I added any music to it, but I am constantly listening to it!

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As a music guy, I HAVE to have music!  I have Pandora on my tablet, but I find that their play lists are often narrow, and even shuffling between my “favorite stations” doesn’t help.  My son had Spotify on his phone, and I really don’t know much about that.  I don’t use my phone for anything really but making calls, taking pictures, and surfing Facebook.  I don’t want to be using an App and find out it is using all my data (when I am not connected to Wi-Fi – which happens WAY too much!). When I want music – my music – I can grab my iPod and enjoy!  I can replay songs over and over if I want and I can skip songs I am not in the mood to hear.

I listen to my iPod a lot, especially at work.  There are times when I need to zone out and score studies that are running and I just need to tune out what else is going on in the tech room.  Other times, I find myself annoyed by the chatter of co-workers, so I “headphone”.  I can still watch patients and enjoy my music, while tuning out BS.  I have a pair of headphones that I use at work that are “noise cancelling”.  They are amazing – and sometimes allow me to escape into my own little musical world.

“Are these things broke?”

As one of my coworkers went off on a rant about something that just annoyed me last week, I reached for my trusty headphones and iPod.  When I put them on and pressed play, and only heard music from the left ear.  My first thought was that the headphones had a short in the cord – a very common occurrence. Yes, I paid extra for the “noise cancelling” feature, but they were not too expensive.  The headphones I wore when I work on the radio are about $100 for a pair, however, I probably only paid about $30 or $40 for these.

I began to push and pull and wiggle the cord of the headphones where it connected up by the ear.  Nothing.  I began to wiggle the cord down by where it plugged in to the iPod.  Nothing.  When I pushed down on it, the other ear came through.  Urgh!  It’s not the headphones, it’s the headphone jack of the iPod.  13 years of headphones in and out have finally taken its toll.

A buddy told me, “It’s no big deal.  You can still listen to it in one ear”.  This guy clearly has no idea about stereo and mono!  I have some Beatles stuff that is in stereo on my iPod.  If you are only listening in one ear, you are either hearing guitars with no vocals or vocals with no guitars!  It also ruins any type of classical music. You just miss the whole experience if you are listening to a classical piece in only one ear. I am sorry, but it IS a big deal!

The good news is that I can still connect it to the car and listen with no worries at all.  I just can’t listen at work anymore – which is a MAJOR problem for me.  I may actually have to look into a new or refurbished iPod.  The problem is how do I get the stuff from the old one to the new one?  Another problem is that much of the stuff I have on my iPod is stuff that I used to have on CD, but do not anymore.  I also don’t have a list of the songs that I have on the current iPod, because the computer(s) used for iTunes are long gone.

I guess I could just go buy a cheap MP3 player, but I know those don’t last.  This iPod is 13+ years old and outside of the headphone jack, still going strong!  Maybe a new iPod is something I really need to do.  There are plenty of albums and songs that have come out since the last time I added music to it that deserve a spot on my playlist.  Many of those songs I have on my external hard drive, which I use to DJ, and I will occasionally play that while working on the laptop.  It’s not my iPod, though….

So now it begins.  I am going to hit the “shuffle songs” feature and start at song #1.   I am going to start a list of every song on this iPod and that way when I am able, I can begin adding them to a new one.  I probably need to do a little digging as well, because I couldn’t remember my Apple ID from 2006 if my life depended on it.

Song #1 …. After Midnight – Eric Clapton.  Song #2 …. Can’t Buy Me Love – The Beatles.

 

 

 

A Peak at Mom’s “Project”

Today would have been my mom’s 71st birthday. I wrote a very emotional blog about her last year and for new followers to this blog, you can read it here:

https://nostalgicitalian.com/2018/04/04/moms-70th/

The Project

Last year, my brother Chris told me that he wanted to create a project that would honor our mom. I have a list of things I am supposed to be doing for this project, and as I sit here remembering her today, I thought I would share one of the things I wrote for our project. I hope my brother doesn’t mind me sharing this here.

“S” Meals

“Just like mom used to make” is a phrase you hear often when someone tries something at a restaurant or when a restaurant is promoting their menu. Maybe YOUR mom cooked like that, but mine did not. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of meals that I would love for her to make for me today. I loved her Impossible Cheeseburger Pie, Meatloaf, and her amazing Tuna Noodle Casserole. I have an old cookbook she had, but I really have no idea how she tweaked those recipes.

Here’s the deal, it wasn’t that mom wasn’t a good cook, the issue was she didn’t change the menu too often. We had a joke in our house – Mom’s menu consisted of “S” meals. What is an “S” meal? Well, it’s just what you think it is – meals that start with the letter “S”. Now, it is a possibility that they were also called “S” meals because they were very simple to make, I don’t know. Here now, is a sampling of mom’s core menu items:

  1. Spaghetti. It was a staple at our house. No surprise, after all, we are Italian. Sadly, her sauce always came out of a jar and was almost always Ragu.
  2. Sausage. She would go to the store and buy one of those rings of Italian sausage and fry it up in one of those square electric fry pans.
  3. Sloppy Joes. Could this meal be any easier to make? Brown up some meat and throw in some Manwich!
  4. Soup and Sandwiches. Two S’s for the price of one! A “combination” “S” meal! This was a frequent meal at our place – usually closer to payday.
  5. Steak. Usually, it was fried up in the square fry pan I mentioned an item or two ago. As kids, we hardly ever ate steak. I’m not sure why we didn’t, maybe it was because a fried steak was almost always tough. Usually when this meal was served, my brother and I opted for the alternate “S” meal, Spaghetti-O’s!
  6. Subs. Let’s be real here – this is really just another form of a sandwich, but served on a roll instead of bread! (Side note: My dad used to make what he called “Flubby’s”, which was a take off of Tubby’s subs. It was ground hamburger, lettuce, tomato, and Italian dressing.)
  7. Swedish Meatballs. Sometimes we called this Sweet and Sour Meatballs or Waikiki Meatballs. As a kid, the taste of these made me want to throw up. As I have grown up, I am actually a big fan of sweet and sour meatballs and chicken. I’d probably like them now. I remember the recipe was on a recipe card, which is sadly long gone.
  8. Salad. Yes. Salad could be a meal at our house. She got a recipe from my great Aunt Lois I think. It was leaf lettuce, vinegar, and grilled bacon. It was actually very good. I may have to see if I can make it sometime.

In a nutshell, those were the meals. We look back on this memory often and laugh. I miss her very much and would give anything to sit and enjoy conversation, food and laughter with her.

One last dinner story

If my mom were still alive, she’d probably kill me for telling this story. This, however, is one of my favorite dinner time stories:

Every now and then, mom would make corned beef and cabbage. Most of the time she’d cook it up in the crockpot, and it would be very tender. There was one time, however, where the corned beef turned out very dry. As we ate it, we were all thinking it, but NO ONE had the courage to speak up and say anything, so naturally, I did. I will say up front that as I look back at it, I regret the way I handled it. It does make a great story, though.

I started by simply saying, “Does this seem a bit dry to anyone else?” This made my dad laugh almost instantly. When he started laughing, I figured this had opened the door for me and allowed me to keep making fun of the meal. I proceeded to do what The Three Stooges would do with something like this. I began to:

  • tug at my throat
  • act like I was choking
  • put one hand on my chin and the other on the top of my head and pretended to force my mouth up and down to make myself chew
  • slam my hands against my chest
  • pound at my shoulder blade like I was choking

All of these things made my dad laugh. They made my brother laugh. My mother, however, was not happy. You could see her getting more and more angry with each of my actions.

She finally threw down her fork and stormed off to her room and slammed the door. My dad, brother, and I all sat in silence at the table for some time. I think my dad went to make peace, but the damage was done. I didn’t understand at the time, and she even laughed about it later (much later). It hurt her very bad that day. I apologized for this more times than I can remember. I still feel bad about it today.

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Mom. I miss you and I love you. I would give anything in the world to have a piece of that dry corned beef with you right about now….