Saturday Songs

This is the first of at least two blogs today.  I chose to write this one first.  Amidst all of the chaos in the world, I was reminded of a song that I often turned to when things in my life were less than stellar.  Michael Buble’ has been doing video messages on his Instagram page.  In one, he began to sing this song … and I felt that it was, indeed, a perfect song for today.

Smile – Nat King Cole

I may have posted this song once before in a blog about Nat King Cole.  The song is based on an instrumental melody written by Charlie Chaplin (loosely based on Puccini’s “Tosca”) for his 1936 movie Modern Times.  Lyrics were added in 1954 and they were based on lines from the film.

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You know what’s difficult to do in difficult times?  Smiling.  Try it.  It’s pretty damn hard.  While you and I are sitting in quarantine, knowing what’s going on outside, try smiling.  Not the easiest thing, but it is possible.  That’s what the song is all about. It tells you to cheer up, tomorrow will be better if you just smile.

You have probably heard that it takes more muscles and it takes more work to frown than it does to smile.  So, why work so hard?  Smile.  Give it a listen:

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What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong

This song is from 1967.  There are some conflicting stories about who was originally offered the song first.  Some say that Tony Bennett was offered the song, but refused.  Others say that the song was written specifically for Louis Armstrong, whom the writer of the song was inspired by as he felt Louis was good at bringing people of various race and color together.

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I first came to know this song because of the film “Good Morning Vietnam” starring Robin Williams.  It is interesting to note that the song was actually recorded 2 years after the film takes place (Williams’ character, a DJ, plays it on the radio).  What made me think about this song was the scene from the movie in which it was played.  While it plays, we see soldiers marching, bombs exploding, fighting and chaos in the streets, and more.

The contrast of the music of the song over these scenes are etched in my memory.  When I thought about the craziness in the world today, I couldn’t help but think of how, despite all of this, we truly live in a wonderful world.  One could easily play this song over scenes from what is going on in the world today.  It is important to find the happiness among the sadness.  It is important to notice the blue skies, green trees, white clouds, and red roses that are there to enjoy.

The only line that doesn’t fit today – is the line about shaking hands.

 

I see trees of green
Red roses too
I see them bloom
For me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

I see skies of blue
And clouds of white
The bright blessed day
The dark sacred night
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow
So pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces
Of people going by
I see friends shaking hands
Saying, “How do you do?”
They’re really saying
“I love you”

I hear babies cry
I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more
Than I’ll never know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Yes, I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Oh yeah

 

 

My Mind Overflows With Random Thought

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Life used to have a routine.  I could plan my day.  Phrases like: Business as usual, status quo, day to day affairs, normal activities, daily grind, staying the course, standard practice, and as per usual – don’t mean anything anymore.  Nothing is normal anymore.  As a midnight shift worker, it’s hard to know what day it is, but when the routine is thrown off, it becomes more difficult.

Give Me Just A Little More Time

I have been seriously trying to make time to sort through thoughts.  Believe it or not, it’s been a little easier to do since I have been at home a bit more.  Last week I only worked about half of my 40 hours because of low census and the eventual closing down of our lab.  I was able to get some hours helping out in the Labor Pool at the hospital.

Our techs were reassigned.  Some had jobs in the hospital, but I was reassigned on Wednesday night to go to the hospital to help direct traffic.  We were given one of those orange vests and we were sent out to the main parking lot.  Our job was to make sure the cars that were lined up to be screened for the Covid-19 virus had first been checked in at the ER.

Basically, a check in at the ER determined whether or not your situation or symptoms warranted actually getting the test.  You probably know that there are a limited amount of tests, so the ones who would benefit from a self quarantine were sent home, while others drove to where I was and got in line to be screened.  Screenings were done in their cars.

I reported to work at 6:45 pm.  Seeing the line of cars made this whole thing much more of a reality for me.  There were plenty of cars in line.  Some of them had not been screened at ER, so we had to instruct them to go there first.  As you can imagine, there was a lot of stress, worry, and anger going on.  I saw a road rage incident while we were out there.  Apparently, a car in front of another was not pulling up far enough and the rear car kept beeping at him to move forward.  A few beeps and the driver was out yelling at the other.  Security had to be called. It was nuts!

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As the evening progressed, the line became shorter.  Testing ended at about 2 am, and that was when we left.  I had to go inside to use the restroom at one point and I can tell you that the doctors, nurses, and staff in the hospital were busy!  They were frazzled, but it was a picture of controlled chaos.  Kudos to these men and women, who are doing everything they can to help stop this thing!

My Anniversary

I was standing in the parking lot directing traffic at midnight yesterday.  I set an alarm so I would not forget to wish my wife Happy Anniversary.  I posted this on my Facebook page:

“Two years ago today, I married my best friend. Two years ago today, I married my one true love. Two years ago today, I married the woman who completes me, brings me joy, companionship, encouragement, support, and love. I swore two years ago that I could never love another female like I loved her … then she gave birth to our daughter. I am blessed beyond measure having these two in my life!

Happy anniversary, Sam, I cannot wait for the years ahead.

Thank you for two amazing years – our adventure continues….”

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People Unite

Covid-19 is a worldwide issue!  It is everywhere and it is effecting everyone.  In my many years on the radio, I have had the chance to meet and become friends with some musical artists.  Working in country radio, I can tell you that the country artists are just amazing.  I could sit and chat with them about songwriting, their tour, their families, etc…  I always enjoyed having the chance to interview them on the radio.

With all of the social distancing and people being told to stay home, the musical artists are taking a hit.  You may be upset that the concert you planned to attend has been postponed, but I can tell you that the artists are just as upset.  Going out on tour, talking to radio stations, meeting fans, and performing for you is what they love to do!  Covid-19 has forced them to stay home, too!

You probably read where Garth Brooks is going to do a live concert on the internet this week.  There are many other artists who are doing the same!  Brad Paisley did an acoustic session on Facebook, so did Jewel.

My buddy, James Otto, was the first one I heard mention that he was going to do it.  I was at work when it was live, but I did catch it afterward on Facebook.  It was great!  It was so simple and awesome.  It reminded me of the time he had come through town before his hit Just Got Started Lovin’ You hit the air. He came in, we interviewed him on the air, and then he did a little acoustic set for the staff in the conference room.  God, do I miss those!  My apologies to James for this incredibly terrible screen shot of his live stream.

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He sounded great!  Thanks for the much needed “pick me up”!

It’s also been great to see video messages from Simon Pegg, Matthew McConaughey, Michael Buble’ and other celebrities!  These messages have brought music, hope, laughs, and entertainment to folks cooped up in the homes.  I have read about celebrities offering dance instruction, comedians doing comedy sets, celebrities reading books to kids, chefs doing cooking lessons, and more!  It’s great to see so much good amidst the craziness in the world.

Staying Connected

The WiFi is working at my house, and I use it not only to surf the internet, check e-mail, and to write this blog, I also use it to make video calls.  I have an Android phone and just can’t convince myself to switch to an iPhone.  My wife tried to get me to switch so we could use FaceTime.  Well, I found Google Duo does the same thing.  So I am able to video chat with her and see the baby while at work at night.  I can also video chat with my dad and my brother so they can see the baby, too!

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My buddy Johnny Molson (more on him in a minute) has been taking part in Zoom meetings.  Basically group chats with friends, so they can all keep in touch.  Restaurants, bars, and places to gather have been closed, so these video group chats can allow folks to gather while social distancing themselves from others.

My new doctor has tele-medicine available.  We can video chat with her if we need to.  My therapist is actually going to be doing my session via video today. It should be interesting.  I will keep the phone above the waist….I am wearing my Minion pajama bottoms!  LOL

Already bored with TV

I don’t have a whole lot of stuff I watch on TV.  Lately, it’s been The First 48, Forensic Files, Live PD, and a few others.  Some of these cable channels are doing these all day marathons, and I wish they wouldn’t.  I love a good rerun, but I I don’t think I like them with these types of shows.  Maybe I am just picky.  Hell, I will watch reruns of old shows like Sanford and Son, Columbo, Perry Mason, and Mission: Impossible all day – it doesn’t bug me at all.  I just can’t sit and watch these over and over.

This is where the internet is helpful again.  Does your imagination need a workout?  Books can help, but if you want to “watch a show”, may I recommend Old Time Radio Shows? They are like watching TV shows, only without the video.  Families would gather in front of the radio at night and listen to their favorites – remember the scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphie is listening to Little Orphan Annie?

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I have Sirius XM in my car, and I love the Old Radio Show Channel.  I’m not sure if the copyright on some shows are a factor or what, but I have heard the channel host say that “certain shows are no longer available” for them to play.  I end up hearing a lot of shows that I was never really interested in.

I realize that these shows are dated, but they are still very entertaining.  Many are available on YouTube.  If you like crime shows – check out Dragnet, Broadway is My Beat, Sherlock Holmes, or Gangbusters.  If you like mystery and suspense – try The Mysterious Traveler, Suspense, The Whistler, or Nightbeat.  For Movie adaptations – try Lux Radio Theater, Screen Directors PlayHouse, or CBS Radio Mystery Theater.  If you want to laugh – try The Jack Benny Program, Fibber McGee and Molly, Amos and Andy, Our Miss Brooks, The Fred Allen Show, Burns and Allen, The Life of Riley, or Abbott and Costello.  Sometimes I do a google search for an actor and find shows they were on (“Edward G. Robinson on radio” will bring up a few). Let your imagination get a workout while stuck at home!

New Sleep Habit

As a sleep technologist, we tell patients all the time of the importance of having a bedtime routine.  That can really help assure that you fall asleep and keep you in a regular sleep pattern.  With a 6 week old baby, you can imagine how the bedtime routine has changed!  Sam has a routine with the baby ever night.  When I am home – I basically throw that routine off.

The baby has a sound machine that plays music.  The bassinet has a button that makes it vibrate.  Then she has a stuffed animal that lights up and puts lights on the ceiling.

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Hers is an elephant, but the dog above shows how it works.  At any rate, all of these things are on as Ella goes to bed.  It’s been a routine now for 6 weeks.

I noticed this week after coming home after my shift and trying to sleep during the day, that I was having an issue falling asleep.  You know what it is?  I have found that I actually find it hard to fall asleep now without that silly music on!  I thought it was crazy, until Sam told me that she felt like she had to turn the stars on so she could see them on the ceiling to fall asleep.  If you are a parent, has something like this happened to you?

“Buy me a coffee”

I noticed this recently on some of the blogs I follow.  At the end of their blog, there is an icon that says “Buy Me a Coffee.”

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So, is this like a “tip?”  “Hey, buddy.  Nice blog – have a coffee.”  I hadn’t noticed this before, but I am seeing it more and more.  Don’t get my wrong – I LOVE coffee, but I am not going to beg my readers for one.  I’m all for getting together and having coffee together, I would love that!  I just think it’s odd.  I mean, if you really want to buy me something, I’m not going to turn away diapers or formula!  LOL

Parting thoughts ( that I wish I had written )

I mentioned Johnny Molson, above.  He wrote a very cool piece that I shared on Facebook and I wanted to share it here as well.  I could have copied and pasted it, but I didn’t want to be accused of plagiarism.  So surf over here and check out this piece that really speaks to our current situation.

I’m Proud of You (Us)

Take care of yourself!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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

 

Toon Tunes …

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As I stated at the end of yesterday’s blog – I could easily write an entire blog about Cartoon Theme songs.  Some readers messaged privately with suggestions, while others commented on Facebook.  So, I sat down and gathered some thoughts and have come up with a list of some of my favorites.  In doing so, I noticed that some cartoons were great cartoons, but their theme songs were just not that memorable to me.  Those I will omit.  Perhaps they are some of your favorites, and again, feel free to add them to my initial list.

 

The Classics

“Overture, curtains, lights. This is it, the night of nights.

No more rehearsing and nursing a part, We know every part by heart

Overture, curtains, lights. This is it, you’ll hit the heights

And oh what heights we’ll hit … On with the show, this is it!”

 

Every Saturday morning, we’d sit in front of the television and hear Bugs Bunny and his cartoon pals sing this song as the Bugs Bunny Show began.  Cartoon after cartoon kicked off with the Merrie Melodies or Looney Tunes theme.  We watched Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Sylvester and Tweety, The Roadrunner, Wile E Coyote, and countless others make us laugh with sticks of dynamite and anvils.  Oh, what a time to be a kid! 

 

Outside of the Looney Tunes, Hanna Barbera churned out a lot of the classic cartoons we all have come to love.  In 1958, kids were introduced to Yogi Bear and his pal Boo Boo.  The theme song told us that he was “smarter than the average bear”, and he was!  No Pic-a-nic basket was safe!  Yogi was a take off of Art Carney’s Honeymooners character Ed Norton.  Daws Butler nails the voice perfectly.  From opening theme, you know you are in for some great fun with Yogi trying to outsmart Ranger Smith.

 

Speaking of the Honeymooners – Hanna Barbera literally stole the entire show idea and just set it in the stone age.  That’s right, The Flintstones was a direct rip off of the show.  It worked.  It was the first prime time cartoon show and it did very well.  The adventures of Fred and Barney commence after we are introduced to them via the theme song “Flintstones!  Meet the Flintstones, they’re the modern stone age family!”  Fred and Barney also would up on Saturday morning cartoons with newer versions and varieties of the 1960’s show including a cartoon about their grown up kids Pebbles and Bamm Bamm. 

 

My buddy Vince immediately mentioned the theme song to Jonny Quest in response to my last blog.  As far as theme songs, this one is awesome.  Quest first appeared on TV in 1964 and from the moment it starts you get the feeling something big is coming.  There is a sense of urgency in it.  You are joining him on an adventure!  In my 30 years of radio, I have heard this theme song as background music for contests, traffic reports, and more.  Why?  Because it is one cool theme song!

 

In 1962, Hanna Barbera took us on another travel through time.  This time is was the future. “Meet George Jetson” … the theme starts by introducing us to each member of the family.  We are wowed with flying cars, tubes that allow people to travel from one place to the other, folding cars, and more.  The Jetsons lacked some of the luster of the Flintstones, but it still was a success and a favorite of kids my age.

 

There were MANY incarnations of Scooby-Doo.  The best one in my opinion was Scooby Doo, Where Are You?  Some cool teenagers and their dog always seem to stumble on a mystery – and solve it!  So many bad guys would have gotten away with it, “If it hadn’t been for those meddling kids”!  “Scooby doobie doo – Where are you?  We got some work to do now…”.  Not only did they have a cool theme, they often had another song that would play during a chase scene!

 

I want to mention a couple more 60’s cartoons to mention before moving on.  I mentioned Henry Mancini in my blog yesterday, he is responsible for one of the all time greatest cartoon themes:  The Pink Panther.  It was the theme to the 1963 movie, and also used for the cartoon starting in 1964.  There are so many things that make it such a magnificent piece, but the one that stands out is the tenor sax solo.  It is perfection!  The song was released as a single and was a top 10 hit.

 

Part of the Pink Panther show was the Ant and the Aardvark.  It is a very Tom and Jerry/Cat and Mouse type cartoon.  John Byner does the voices for the cartoons and his choices were to do the ant in a Dean Martin-ish voice, while doing the aardvark in a Jackie Mason-ish one.  The theme reminds me of a Dixieland-swing song.  The theme song basically plays as an underscore throughout all 17 of the series cartoons, and you will be humming it for a few hours after you’re done watching!

 

In 1967, Hanna Barbera offered up The Abbott and Costello Cartoon show.  These cartoons were unique in that Bud Abbott provides the voice for himself.  Costello had passed away in 1959, and his voice was provided by Stan Irwin.  I don’t recall the cartoon itself much, but I can recall the opening sequence and the music of the theme.  The only words spoken …..well, yelled, during the theme are “Hey Abbott!” by Costello.

 

The Super Heroes

 

What kid doesn’t want to be a super hero?  I know we did.  We spent Saturdays after cartoons were done pretending to be Batman, Superman, etc…  We could watch them on the Superfriends show.  Very heroic music would play as actor Ted Knight (of Caddyshack and the Mary Tyler Moore Show) introduced us to each of them.  There were a few different Superfriends shows – one featured Wendy, Marvin, and Wonder Dog, another featured The Wonder Twins, and another featured some of the lesser known heroes. 

 

The Super Heroes had some of the best theme songs.  Underdog’s theme was one I can still sing to this day:  “When criminals in this world appear, and break the laws that they should fear, the cry goes up both far and near for Underdog!”.  Wally Cox voiced Underdog and spoke entirely in rhyme.  He was always trying to save Sweet Polly Purebread from Simon Bar Sinister and Riff Raff. George S. Irving was the narrator of the show – he is known for playing The Heat Miser in the holiday special The Year Without a Santa Claus. It is one of my favorite theme songs.

 

Who was your number 1 super guy?  Well, Hong Kong Phooey, of course!  He tells us so in the theme song!  It’s another Hanna Barbera classic!  The theme is sung by Scatman Crothers, who many may know from the Shining, Sanford and Son, and other films.  He plays Penrod “Penry” Pooch, a janitor who is a Kung Fu Master, thanks to his Hong Kong Book of Kung Fu.  The theme reminds us that he is quicker than the human eye, and he’s got a groovy style – ah, the 70’s!!!

 

The all time best super hero cartoon theme song has got to be, hands down, Spiderman!  We all know the story of Spiderman – Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider and gets his super powers.  I love that this is referenced in the theme song:  “Is he strong?  Listen, bud, he’s got radioactive blood!”  That is brilliant writing right there!  We all love Spidey, and we know that he’s got our backs…..after all, he is our “friendly neighborhood Spiderman”.  There is only one version of the theme that is as cool as the original – be sure to check out Michael Buble’s version of the theme song!  It’s pretty sweet!

 

One Full Musical Toon

 

I have got to give praise to a cartoon that is entirely musical.  This is a cartoon that has been referenced by friends I grew up with as well as my kids.  That cartoon is “The Three Little Bops”.  It’s a modern day take on the Three Little Pigs. 

 

What makes this cartoon so memorable is that these three pigs are now a musical trio playing jazz for clubs (House of Straw, House of Sticks, and finally, the House of Bricks).  The Big Bad Wolf is also a musician….but not a very good one.  He keeps trying to join the pigs and they keep telling him to beat it because his playing is awful.  The crowds don’t like his playing either.  At first, he is kicked out of the house of straw, so he “huffs and puffs” and blows the place down.  He does the same for the house of sticks.  The house of bricks, however, is a bit more of a challenge.  “I’ll show those pigs that I’m not stuck, if I can’t blow it down, I’ll blow it up”.  He attempts to light the fuse on a big tub of TNT, and the fuse is blown out.  He moves farther away from the target and lights it again, but he’s too far from the building and as he is carrying it back, the TNT explodes – and takes him with it. 

 

The narrator states, “The Big Bad Wolf was really gone and with him went his corny horn.  Went out of this world without a trace, didn’t go to heaven, was the other place”.  We then see the wolf down there playing his horn brilliantly.  One pig notes, “The Big Bad Wolf, he learned the rule – you gotta get hot to play real cool!”  The wolf’s spirit, with his horn float up through the floor and join the pigs on the end of the song. The pigs lobby card now reads “The Three Little Bops Plus One”. 

 

The music for the cartoon is done by the great Shorty Rogers who was a jazz composer and trumpeter.  The vocal is done by the one and only Stan Freberg.  This cartoon is fun, jazzy, hip, and so well written!  Another thing that makes this cartoon unique is that Mel Blanc was under contract with Warner Brothers during this time and his voice is not used in the cartoon at all (at least according to all the sources I checked). 

 

Now it’s your turn.  Which cartoon theme songs were your favorites? 

 

That’s all folks….