Mitch Albom’s Coronavirus Column

yq-c1-08102018

Many know Mitch Albom for his books (The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Tuesdays With Morrie, Finding Chika, and more).  I have lived in Michigan all my life, and I came to know him as a journalist for the Detroit Free Press.  Long before people got their news from the Internet, I used to get a newspaper delivered to the house every day.  Albom’s column was one I always read.

The entire world is smack dab in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.  Just like politics and religion, there are many, MANY opinions about it.  Conspiracy theories, blaming, downplaying, and flat out panic can be seen on TV news and on social media. It is yet another thing that is dividing the country – and the world. The Detroit Free Press shared Mitch’s latest column and I found it interesting and thought provoking.  I thought perhaps you would find it thought provoking as well.

The article can be found here:

https://www.freep.com/story/sports/columnists/mitch-albom/2020/03/13/mitch-albom-coronavirus-pandemic/5038942002/

It reads:

Mitch Albom: Coronavirus pandemic will show exactly what we’re made of

It is a human wildfire and each of us feels like a dry leaf, praying the wind blows in the other direction. The flames of this COVID-19 virus are ripping through every institution we have in America, schools, sports, businesses, religious services. Many have never felt so vulnerable. We are tucking into our lives, wary of gatherings, wary of neighbors, wary of things that were just, what — two weeks ago? — symbols of our human spirit: handshakes, high-fives, hugs, kisses.

But there are ways to deal with this, ways to cope with this New World Disorder. And the first is to minimize panic, to remember that, for most of us, the worst outcome is flu-like symptoms for a couple of weeks. When you think of it that way, you wonder why society feels like it’s come off its wheels.

Perhaps because the problem, at least in this country, is not merely the virus, but how it is changing our sense of time and place. How long? Every question comes back to that. How long before it reaches our town? How long should we keep sending our kids to school? How long do we quarantine? How long until the critical point is past? How long will the stock market keep diving? How long before our relatives can visit from Europe?

How long until … a vaccine?

It is time — and the speed with which this virus is tumbling institutions — that has jolted us so thoroughly from the idyllic days of January, when our biggest worry was who’s going to shovel the snow. Since then, life feels like one of those films where a giant is plowing through the city, knocking over small cars and massive skyscrapers with the same indifference. Every day another big thing is erased.

Concerts canceled. Spring breaks canceled. Universities going strictly online. Games without fans. Debates without audiences. Then the NBA. Then the NHL. Then March Madness. Tom Izzo had to tell his promising Spartans team Thursday that instead of heading for the best month of the year, their season was done.

“I felt so bad for my seniors — especially Cassius (Winston),” Izzo told ESPN. Winston had come back to MSU for one more crack at a national championship, then tragically lost his brother at the start of the season. He regrouped and somehow led his team to a share of the Big Ten title — and now this. College career over. No more games.

Just like that.

Our nation, united?

But everything is happening that way, isn’t it? Just like that? Europeans can’t fly here. Just like that. Work tells you not to come in. Just like that. The stock market gave back all its gains for the last two years. Just like that. Every social gathering from the PTA to Coachella has been removed from the calendar. Just like that.

It’s like watching the lights go out in a major city, one grid at a time. So quickly, vibrant turns to silent.

This is not who we are in America. We don’t live in the dark. Which is why, more than many countries, we will have a harder time with COVID-19. It’s because of how good we have it and how freely we move.

We are not China, which can lock down entire regions at will, crush any media it doesn’t like, and move scores of workers to build a hospital in a week.

We don’t operate like that. We do things by consensus. The national mood matters. Which is why American resolve will be under the microscope the next few months, and we will be greatly tested by how we behave.

Will we turn on one another? Take a “better him than me’’ approach? Hoard our supplies? Distrust anyone we don’t know?

Or will we sacrifice? Will we think about what it means to actually be one country, not two, not a left vs. right, or sick vs. healthy? But one nation, united against a wildfire.

Can we do that?

Everything can be shut down

We’ll see. There are, to me, certain hard truths we must accept — or should have already accepted — to be levelheaded about where this will all go.

First, everything can be shut down. And most of it will be. Disneyland. Broadway. The Supreme Court Building. Landmarks, big and small. And they should be shut down. Not because we are scared, but because we are smart.

Those people in the sports world who pondered, “How bad will it have to get for us to suspend (whatever)?” were asking the wrong question. The question should have been, “How much better can we make things by shutting it down now?”

You don’t wait, as the NBA learned, until you find out a player is infected. You close the tent before the infections can start. The old adage of an ounce of prevention and a pound of cure is particularly true right now. We shouldn’t be hanging onto spring traditions hoping not to lose them too fast. We should be wrapping them in blankets quickly, so that summer and fall are not affected.

So, yes, of course the NCAA tournament and the NBA season and the NHL season needed to be shut down. You’re talking 20,000, 40,0000, 60,0000 people in one place. Doctors suggest avoiding groups bigger than 100.

Baseball will follow suit, I imagine, and cancel at least the start of its regular season (it already postponed it). And it’s hard to see how they will conduct the Tokyo Summer Olympics, which should and will likely be postponed.

But sports are hardly unique. Cruise ships. Airplane trips. Theme parks. Concert venues. Who knows? Shopping malls, health clubs, and all public schools may be next on the list.

But if it that happens, don’t be depressed. Know that it is better to preemptively pull the door shut then to try and clean up a post-outbreak mess. We have seen in New Rochelle and Seattle how fast COVID-19 can spread if people in gatherings are unaware of its presence.

And we have seen, in Italy, how bad things can get if you don’t act fast enough.

If we can protect ourselves, we should, in the small gestures, like hand washing, which keeps the little breeze from blowing an ember, and in the big gestures, like gathering for mass events, which can stave off a massive blaze.

Protect the elderly

That brings us to those who can’t so easily protect themselves: Our elderly. Why has this not been more of a federal priority? It’s an accepted fact that those over 60 are more at risk with the coronavirus, and those over 80 may be in mortal danger. Why is there no formal program to protect nursing homes and senior centers? To assure that homebound elderly can still get medical care and supplies? To construct facilities, even makeshift ones, that can handle seniors if our hospitals get overloaded? Aren’t our parents and grandparents worth making a priority?

This baffles me. As did the earlier suggestion by our Senate lawmakers that they wouldn’t pass legislation until after they returned from a scheduled recess. A scheduled recess? Were they serious? (They have since reconsidered and will be in session next week.)

But this is what the short-term future will come down to. A series of decisions, big and small, that will determine how long this thing will shadow us.

We need to be our best now. We need to be responsible and considerate of our society — and this doesn’t mean grabbing every roll of toilet paper off a Costco shelf and hoarding it into your truck. It doesn’t mean reporting on COVID-19 stories with political bias, when the viewers only need facts. It doesn’t mean threatening or ostracizing people who get sick, as if it’s them or you in a fight to survive.

It isn’t.

Not even close.

The good news is, this will eventually pass and we will get through it. We have endured worse. COVID-19 isn’t shipping our sons and daughters off to war. It isn’t causing us to lose our homes. It isn’t threatening to blow up our buildings with no warning.

What it’s doing is upsetting the apple cart of our lives, and because our lives are good and blessed, it is more noticeable to us and to the world.

We are dry leaves in a wildfire now, combustible and brittle and subject to burning on the outside. But what’s inside will determine our legacy in this health challenge.

Let’s see what we’re made of.     

Contact Mitch Albom: malbom@freepress.com. Check out the latest updates with his charities, books and events at MitchAlbom.com. Download “The Sports Reporters” podcast each Monday and Thursday on-demand through Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify and more. Follow him on Twitter @mitchalbom.

“A Happy Man Once Said….”

quote-1024x472

A friend sent me these – worth sharing and re-reading occasionally:

“Don’t ruin other people’s happiness just because you can’t find your own.”

“Living a good life really is the best revenge.  Once they acknowledge they cannot ruin your happiness, they lose their power.”

“Never let someone steal your happiness – it is not theirs to take.”

“Ignore those who try to steal your joy.  Their lives are full of noise.  Yours is full of purpose.”

“No one can steal your love, joy, or happiness without your permission.”

“Whoever is happy will make others happy, too.  The opposite holds true as well.”

“For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”

“You can’t separate a fool from their foolishness.  You gotta separate yourself from that fool.”

“Don’t worry about what I am doing.  Worry about why you’re worried about what I am doing.”

“You can’t always control what goes on outside.  But you can always control what goes on inside.”

“Have you ever met a hater doing better than you?  Me neither.”

“HATERS = Having  Anger  Towards  Everyone  Reaching  Success.”

“Whatever you do – good or bad – someone is going to have something negative to say”

“Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings, and emotions.”

“Don’t worry about those who talk behind your back.  They are there for a reason.”

“I love the ones who are in my life and make it amazing. I’m thankful for the ones who left my life and made it even more fantastic!”

“You become a real master of your life when you learn how to master your focus – where your attention goes.  Value what you give your energy to.”

“Instead of wiping away your tears, wipe away the people who created them.”

“Sometimes it’s better to react with no reaction”

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because they suffer within themselves and their suffering is spilling over.  They do not need punishment – they need serious help”

“Let them judge you. Let them misunderstand you. Let them gossip about you. Their opinions aren’t your problems. You stay kind, committed to love, and free in your authenticity.  No matter what you do or say, don’t you doubt your worth or the beauty of your truth. Just keep shining like you do.”

“Life only comes around once, so do whatever makes you happy, and be with whoever makes you smile.”

“Your mission:  be so busy loving your life that you have no time for hate, regret or fear.”

“Every human being has a finite number or heartbeats.  Don’t waste any of yours.”

“If people are doubting how far you can go, go so far that you can’t hear them anymore.”

“My past is my past.  It made me who I am. I have no regrets and wouldn’t change a thing. I just don’t live there anymore.”

 

 

 

 

Me: From A to Z

1_q0bCWQUQQwIYIpjuwrhgiA

By far not the most original blog idea, but this stems from a daily writing prompt.  What is cool about something like this, is that I can probably return to this idea a few times and come up with some different answers.  The idea is to take all 26 letters of the alphabet and describe yourself with each one.  It shouldn’t take too long.  Why not do your own in the comments?  Here is Me … from A to Z:

A     Always early (“If you’re on time, you’re late!”

B     Blessed (with friends, family, and so many things)

C     Coffee drinker.  (Not sure how I’d make it through the day without it)

D     Daddy to Dante’, Dimitri, and Ella (I love them all so much!)

E     Emotional.  (I am probably too emotional.  I cry at sappy TV commercials!)

F     Friend.  (I have some of the greatest friends.  I treasure those friendships.)

G     Gaining weight. (About 25 pounds over the course of my wife’s pregnancy)

H     Happy. (I am the happiest I have ever been in my life.)

I     Italian.  (Proud of my Italian heritage.)

J     Jokes.  (I love hearing them.  I love telling them.)

K     Kind. (One of the greatest things we can be is kind to one another.)

L     Laughs a lot. (Laughter is important.  Life is better with laughter.)

M     Music lover. (“Where words fail, music speaks.” Music is SO important to me.)

N     Night Owl. (Yeah, I work midnights, but I have always been a night owl.)

O     Old Stuff. (Love old TV shows, old radio shows, old movies, etc…)

P     Procrastinator.  (One of my bad habits.  I tend to wait till the last minute to do things)

Q     Quotes.  (Might be a line from a TV show or movie, or a famous quote to apply to life)

R     Radio Personality. (The thing I wish I was still doing full time.)

S     Sam’s husband. (She has made me the happiest man alive.  She is my one true love)

T     Trumpet. (Wish I was still playing it in a band.)

U     Unique. (The easy answer, but it’s true.  We are ALL unique!)

V     Vague (Like this answer, for example)

W     Weird Al Yankovic.  (We’re both weird and I have all his albums.)

X     XOXO (I always kiss and hug those I love!)

Y     Young (Something I wish I was again!)

Z     Zoo (I love the Zoo.  Love going with my kids.  Favorite animal:  The Otter)

Tune Tuesday – Vieni Sul Mar

51c3HjmqdeL

I wish I could speak Italian.  I have always wanted to learn.  I guess I always end up talking myself into believing that I can’t learn it.  The older I get, the less I can remember.  I also tell myself that I probably don’t have the time to learn it.  Then, there is the cost involved as many courses you can buy are quite pricey.  At any rate, I think the Italian language is just beautiful.

As a fan of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Lou Monte, there are many songs that they have done in which a lyric or two is sung completely in Italian (Lazy Mary, Volare, Come Back to Sorrento, etc…).  Bottom line, I don’t know what they are singing about, but I like the song, if that makes sense.  I don’t exactly recall how I came to know of Andrea Bocelli.  I don’t think someone said, “Hey!  Check this guy’s music out!”.  More than likely, I was sitting at home surfing channels and saw him on PBS.

At some point, I decided to buy an album of his on iTunes.  I chose Incanto.  I chose this one because I actually recognized one of the titles (Santa Lucia).  As I sat and listened to this album, there was one song that stood out for a couple of reasons: 1) I recognized it and 2) the arrangement was just beautiful.  The song is Vieni Sul Mar.

Funny story of how I recognized it – I saw it in a Three Stooges short.  In their 1945 short, Micro Phonies, Gino Corrado plays an Italian violinist and singer who sings this song at Mrs. Bixby’s party.  The Stooges, with Curly dressed as Senorita Cucaracha, sabotage his singing by flicking cherries into his mouth as he is singing it!

So my first exposure to the song is a humorous one, however, I’m glad I came to hear it in a non-humorous way.

The song is a Neapolitan waltz.  The melody is beautiful.  Andrea’s vocals are just amazing.  I totally get lost in the song.  I listened to this over and over and with each listen I grew more fond of the song – and, because I don’t speak Italian, I had no idea what it is about!

After a search of the internet, I found that Vieni Sul Mar means “Come to the Sea”.  I have to be honest, when you see the translation in English, it’s a bit disappointing.  I am not sure how accurate this translation is, but every time I read the English I think, “How can such a beautiful melody be about a drunk sailor!?”

So, give it a listen.  Enjoy the string arrangement, enjoy his vocals, and get lost in a beautiful melody.

Vieni Sul Mar (Italian)

Deh, ti desta fanciulla, la luna

spande un raggio si caro sul mar.

Vieni meco, t’aspetta la bruna.

Fida barca del tuo marinar.

Ma tu dormi, e non pensi al tuo fido.

Ma non dorme chi vive d’amor.

Io la notte a te volo, sul lido.

Ed il giorno a te volo col cor.

 

Vieni sul mar. Vieni a vogar.

Sentirai l’ebbrezza del tuo marinar.

 

Da quel giorno che t’ho conosciuta,

oh fanciulla di questo mio cuor.

Speme e pace per te ho perduto

perché t’amo d’un immenso amor.

Fra le belle, tu sei la più bella.

Fra le rose tu sei la più fin.

Tu del ciel sei brillante mia stella.

Ed in terra divina beltà.

 

Vieni sul mar. Vieni a vogar.

Sentirai l’ebbrezza del tuo marinar.

 

Addio dunque, riposa, e domani

quando l’alba a svegliarti verrà.

sopra lidi lontani lontani

l’infelice nocchiero sarà.

Ma tu dormi, e non pensi al tuo fido.

Ma non dorme chi vive d’amor.

Io la notte a te volo, sul lido.

Ed il giorno a te volo col cor.

 

Vieni sul mar. Vieni a vogar.

Sentirai l’ebbrezza del tuo marinar.

 

Vieni sul mar. Vieni a vogar.

Sentirai l’ebbrezza del tuo marinar.

 

Come To The Sea (English Translation)

Pray thee, awake maiden, the moon

spreads it’s ray over the dear sea.

Come with me, I wait for you brunette.

Trust in the boat of your sailor.

But you sleep, thinking not of your devoted one.

But they sleep not who live by love.

This night to you I fly, to the shore.

And in the day you fly with my heart.

 

Come to the sea. Come for a row.

Feel the intoxication of your sailor.

 

Since that day I have known,

oh maiden of this heart of mine.

Hope and peace for you I have lost

because I love you with a love so great.

Among the pretty ones, you are the prettiest.

Among the roses you are most fine.

Of the sky you are my bright star.

And on the earth beauty divine.

 

Come to the sea. Come for a row.

Feel the intoxication of your sailor.

 

Adio till later, rest, and tomorrow

when dawn will wake you,

over shores far, far away

the helmsman will be unhappy.

But you sleep, thinking not of your devoted one.

But they sleep not who live by love.

This night to you I fly, to the shore.

And in the day you fly with my heart.

 

Come to the sea. Come for a row.

Feel the intoxication of your sailor.

 

Come to the sea. Come for a row.

Feel the intoxication of your sailor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Repeat After Me …

The word for today, dear reader is “Echolalia”. Echolalia is a normal part of learning language. A child learns how to use language by repeating what they hear around them. So echolalia is basically when children repeat what you say. I was reminded of a story, which prompted me to write this blog today. That story (and a few others) will follow, and also serve as a reminded to “watch my mouth” in the months and years to come.

I Swear Too Much

When James Lipton passed away, I wrote a blog and answered his ten questions he’d ask guests. One of those questions was “What’s your favorite curse word?” You can read that blog here: https://nostalgicitalian.com/2020/03/03/rest-in-peace-james-lipton/

I won’t lie, I tend to swear more at work. My co-workers have almost come to expect it, and sometimes I swear just to get a laugh. The real swearing comes when I get frustrated about things like computers that freeze or crash, equipment that doesn’t work, and typical work things. When I am at home, I tend to swear a lot, too. Usually, I am talking about work.

52b1b378eab8ea2024533c2b

My wife joked that our daughter’s first word might be the F word. Well, I can’t let this happen. I really have to watch my mouth. I almost have to get into the frame of mind of a 10 year old and worry that my mouth might be washed out with soap if I let some curse words fly!

1vredn

History Repeats Itself.

The story that prompted this blog happened when I was about 4 or 5 I am guessing. It happened sometime in the early 1970’s. I was a toddler and could obviously talk. I was in the car with my dad. Where we were going doesn’t matter. There were no cell phones or tablets to play with, so I am basically looking out the windows and maybe listening to the radio. I am startled suddenly by the sound of the car’s horn. My dad has been cut off by some driver either getting into his lane or turning in front of him. Immediately, his fist (or maybe middle finger) is raised and he yells, “You stupid prick!” Naturally, I want to know what happened. So I innocently ask, “What did those pricks do, dad?” Dad, without missing a beat says, “There were sticks in the road! Stupid STICKS”!

Many years later, I am sitting in my living room. I am trying to figure out what is wrong with my laptop computer. It was not odd for Dante’ to play on the PBS or Sesame Street websites on it. So here I am trying to figure out if there is a virus or if there is a problem with the internet and my frustration is growing by the second. Dante’ wants to play in the computer. He has let me know this more than once. I keep telling him that I am trying to fix it. At one point, my ex asked me what I was doing. It was all it took to set me over the edge, “I am trying to figure out what is wrong with the damn computer! I can’t do anything on this fucking computer!” Dante’s standing right there and tears welled up in his eyes as he says, “But daddy, I wanna play on the fucking computer.”

Yeah, not my proudest moment.

Is-giving-Gaalis-or-swearing-good-for-your-kid-Or-not

Sleep Swearing

Another Dante’ story. As you know I work in a sleep lab full time. I get asked a lot about sleep walking and sleep talking. Dante’ always talked in his sleep. Dimitri does on occasion, as well. One night they both had a conversation with each other while they were both asleep. Sleep walking and sleep talking can be very common in children. One time, I got to witness Dante’ do both at our house. I can’t say for certain, but I am just gonna guess that I influenced this incident.

I was up late, working on a paper or homework for college. While I am sitting in my chair working, I hear Dante’ get up. I am thinking he is going to go to the bathroom or something. He walks to the end of the hallway and into the living room, where I am, and looks at no one in particular. He yells, “Where’s the damn computer?!” I look at him in shock and amazement, and said, “What, buddy?” He is glassy eyed and obviously asleep. He again shouts, “Where’s the damn computer?!” He walks into the kitchen, which is dark, looks around for about 3 seconds, turns abruptly around and says, “I didn’t need it anyway!” and went back to bed. He was perhaps 8 or 9 and it was hilarious.

A Visit To The Principal

Influence is everywhere. I got in trouble in elementary school once because of something I saw on the Dukes of Hazzard! I don’t recall the exact exchange, but I remember an episode where Uncle Jesse said the word “bastard”. I want to say he said something like “bearded bastard” or “bumbling bastard”. Whatever he said, I had never heard the word before and I thought it was funny. So I said it at school one day. I don’t even know how I used it, but Bobby Wilson heard it and told the teacher on me. It got me a trip to the principal’s office. I was scared to death. It was the first time I had ever gotten in trouble, and I didn’t even know what the word meant!! I am sure I told the principal this, and he must have agreed with me because I was sent back to class with the warning to never say that word again.

Watch Your Mouth

I used to tell my sons this all the time – and still do. Now that they are older, they seem to think it is ok to let a swear word fly now and then. Their mom laughs when they do this, however, there are times I feel it is inappropriate. I get it. They are getting older and think that this gives them the freedom to do it. It doesn’t help that I still spew out a profane word now and then. So I guess I need to heed my own advice, and watch my mouth.

I certainly do not want my daughter’s first word to be something I regret. So I will try to curb the use of those words. I will begin sprinkling “dagnabbit,” “shoot,” “shut the front door,” “Sufferin’ succotash,” “Shitake mushrooms,” “H-E-double hockey sticks,” “Balderdash,” “Gee willikers,” “Son of a gun,” and “Fart knocker” into my vocabulary! It won’t be easy, but I will give it a go!

I was reminded of two great quotes that may be of help to me. Maybe they will help you, too.

think

The above is something I started using when dealing with certain toxic people in my life.

resize_116031-WM-24

The above is one that I had forgotten about. What an amazingly powerful quote. I think I may need to visit that a few times a day. I certainly need to put this in practice.

A Golden Gift

Outside of a wedding ring, I don’t know many men who wear a lot of jewelry (unless they are a rapper!).  I know a few guys who wear a chain around their neck or maybe a bracelet.  I don’t wear much jewelry, and up until a year or so ago, I only wore a ring.  Due to money issues in my first marriage, I ended up pawning a few gold charms I had, and eventually my wedding ring.  If I hadn’t put my foot down, I may have been forced to pawn a very special piece of jewelry.

In a recent blog, I posted a picture of my daughter on my chest.  In that picture, you can see a bit of a necklace that I began wearing again within the past few years.  This is the brief story of this golden gift that means quite a bit to me.

My grandmother had given me a chain with a cross on it when I was probably about 13 years old.  The chain ended up breaking because it was so thin, and she gave me another one.  One Christmas I had asked my parents for a trumpet charm to wear on that chain.  I wish I could remember the year, but that escapes me.  It may have been shortly after my grandpa died in 1981, but I’m not sure.

At any rate, I remember it being the last gift my mom handed me to open that year.  It was such a simple charm, but I loved it.  She told me she had it specially made for me.  She knew some jeweler who had made a ring or something for her and they did it.  I wore it all the time – until a few years after I got married.

IMG_20200305_034941007

At some point during that relationship, I was told how silly it was to wear the necklace.  “You’re not even in band anymore.  That horn sits in the case collecting dust.  You look silly wearing that thing,” I was told.  So I took it off and it sat in my jewelry box for years.

Fast forward to a few years ago.  I was moving some stuff around at the house and my jewelry box fell and the stuff in it fell out.  As I picked up things like my class ring, my tie clips, tuxedo studs, I picked up my necklace.  I immediately thought of my mom and just how happy she was to give that charm to me.  So I put it on.  Sam said she’d never seen me wear it before and I told her why I stopped wearing it.  She told me she liked it and told me I should wear it anytime I wanted.  I haven’t taken it off since. I have actually had patients ask about it while I am working.  My nieces always ask about it (and try to play it) when I am holding them.  I am sure Ella will do the same when she gets bigger.  She will even occasionally grasp onto the chain when I am holding her today.

The only other piece of jewelry I would ever consider wearing is a pinky ring – after all, I am Italian.  Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra both wore matching pinky rings that Frank had made for them, a gesture that showed their love for each other.  I think it’d be cool to wear one.

Collage 2020-03-05 04_44_11

The chain and charm are one of two pieces of jewelry I wear every day.  The other is my wedding ring.  Each piece is a reminder of very special women in my life.  One promise I can make – you will never see me walking around with this ridiculous amount of jewelry on!

GettyImages-910860854

 

 

Tune Tuesday – What This Country Needs

It has been some time since I posted a song for Tune Tuesday.  Part of the reason for this is that I have been spending most of my drive to and from work listening to Old Radio Shows.  This week, I plugged the old iPod in and hit shuffle.  I used to keep my “To Blog” Journal next to me in the car and when I heard a song that I felt might work for Tune Tuesday, I’d jot it down. During my drive, I heard today’s song and I figured it would be a good one to write about.

Most of my radio career, I worked in Country radio.  I have had the chance to meet and interview many Country singers.  One of my favorites, is Aaron Tippin.  He broke on the seen with a great song called “You’ve Got To Stand for Something” in 1991.  Follow up songs included “Kiss This,”  “There Ain’t Nothing Wrong With the Radio,” “Working Man’s Ph. D.,” “I Got It Honest,” and the post 9/11 patriotic song “Where the Stars and Stripes and the Eagle Flies.”

aaron-tippin-726x526

I’ve had the chance to interview him a couple of times, the first when I worked at B95 in Flint and then when I worked at 94-5 The Moose.  The first time we chatted, we chatted about his upcoming show at the Genesee County Fair that summer.  It would have been 1998, because he opened his show with today’s song, more on that in a minute.  His show at the fair was the first time I had ever seen him perform.  During one song, he puts together a children’s bike while singing and donates the bike to a local charity.  That’s the kind of guy he is – he has a heart of gold.  Later in the show, he donned a fedora and sang a Frank Sinatra song, which just blew me away!

The second time I interviewed him was in the studios at the Moose.  We chatted about his love for flying, his patriotism, support of the armed services and so much more.  I had to ask him about the Sinatra song!  He told me what a big Rat Pack fan he was and we chatted about some very cool Dean Martin Box Sets I had.  He was so gracious with his time when he was there.  Before he left, I asked if I could get an autographed picture for my dad, who was also a big fan of his music.  He asked me about my dad.  I told him how he was a Vietnam Vet and how it was my dad who introduced me to his music.  He wrote on the picture for my dad, “To Sam.  I KNOW you got it honest!  Thank you for your service!  Aaron Tippin.”  Classy guy!

On to today’s song.  As I listened to the words in the car, I got to thinking about all the politics and such going on today.  The country is so divided.  We are hearing trash talk from each party about each candidate and so on and so forth.  I remembered Aaron doing this song as his opening song at the fair.  I remember introducing him and there was a podium set up in front of the microphone.  It had one of those red, white, and blue, flowery banners on it.  When I introduced him, he comes walking out with a suit jacket on and shirt and tie.  He goes to the podium and starts singing the song like it’s his campaign speech!  I loved every damn minute of it!  If he ever DID decide to run for office, he’d have my vote!

The opening lyric of the song says so much “keep what’s good, pile up what’s bad and then I’d strike a match”.  Going “back to the basics” would really be a good idea!  And let’s face it, Washington DC could use a cool statue of Hank Sr.!  Wouldn’t it be great if all the country really needed was some “steel guitar” to bring us all together?  I love the USA and yes, I am “proud of it” and I will “always love it”.

This song is one of my top 10 most played songs on my iPod.  Thanks, Aaron, for your friendship and your music!

What This Country Needs

If I was runnin’ this country

I’d start it over from scratch

Keep what’s good, pile up what’s bad

And then I’d strike a match

Yeah, we’d go back to the basics

Of how things ought to be

Yeah, there’d be a lot of changes

If it was left up to me

[Chorus]

Cause what this country needs

Is a little more steel guitar

And put a little fiddle right in the middle

Straight out of a Texas bar

And give us a song, we can all sing along

From sea to shining sea

Be proud  of it and always love it

That’s what this country needs

(Verse 2)

Now if you want to hear about livin’

Just twist that radio dial

Til you come to a singer singin’

What life is all about

Cause you can’t deny that people still cry

They laugh and they smile and they hurt

And that’s my humble opinion y’all

You can take it for what it’s worth

[Chorus]

Yeah, turn it on up and let it ring out

Across the land of the free

They ought to build a statue of Hank Williams, Sr.

In Washington, D.C.

[Chorus]

You just be proud of it and always love it

And that’s what this country needs.

Aaron+Tippin+Performs+Live+SiriusXM+Prime+F2-4UjTxQlUx

You can stop by his website and see what he is up to and try his wine here:

https://www.aarontippin.com/