Swarp meet — November 23, 2022

Swarp meet

I recently made a glorious discovery – a Waylon station on the radio music streaming service that I utilize for free. And by Waylon I mean Jennings. After all, there is but one Waylon.

I grew up listening to Waylon and other stars of outlaw country. Indeed, Waylon was a favorite of my dad’s. (By the way, Daddy pronounced his name Wayling.) When I was a wee lass growing up on the Goff Estate, at Daddy’s instruction, my oldest sister played Waylon’s greatest hits on her record player after everyone went to bed. Waylon serenaded us as we met Mr. Sandman. Well, everyone but me. Even as a wee lass, I couldn’t sleep with distractions like Waylon’s deep voice wafting through the house.

Before I made my glorious discovery, I had already been listening to Waylon’s songs and those by other musicians from my youth. In fact, I did so on the daily. Still, once I started listening to Waylon radio, I did hear songs, his and others’, I hadn’t heard in dozens of years. As these tunes, both familiar and unfamiliar, worked their way into my consciousness, I detected themes. Actually, I noticed one theme in particular – swarping.

Swarping, for those of you who don’t know, basically means to party. In other words, to raise some expletive. It’s not that I was surprised singers featured on the station, including Waylon, Willie, and Merle, sang about swarping. But I was surprised by the volume of these swarping songs.

And when Willie and Merle’s Reasons To Quit came on, I said to myself, “Self, they might be listing all the reasons to quit swarping, but they sure make it sound like a lot of fun.”

By the way, Waylon’s Lonesome, On’ry and Mean, which depicts a dark tale of swarping gone wrong, makes swarping sound like anything but fun. The song, one of my all-time favorites, speaks to me.

Although Conway Twitty wasn’t part of the outlaw genre, his songs provide a different aspect of swarping. Why are his tunes on Waylon radio, you ask? Because one song leads to another on these streaming services and the next thing you know, you’re hearing Conway croon about yet another conquest. During Tight Fitting Jeans, I said to myself, “Self, is he saying what I think he’s saying? Did I know what that song meant when I was a wee lass?”

All this reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend weeks ago. Whilst at lunch, a Rod Stewart song came on the restaurant’s jukebox. (Yes, you read that right.) We agreed we’re not fans of his, but I said I do like a couple of his songs. I couldn’t remember the name of one of them, so I looked it up. When I told said friend it was Do Ya Think I’m Sexy, she laughed and said, “I knew it” and joked about me liking pornography.

As I countered, that song represents the music I grew up listening to. If I had thought about it, I could have mentioned to her that I also listened to Donna Summer moaning on the radio, Conway crooning about making out with strangers, and Waylon and the other outlaws singing the praises of swarping.

Gosh. It was a glorious time to be a wee lass.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

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Heard it in a movie — June 29, 2022

Heard it in a movie

I’m not into supernatural and/or paranormal stuff, so I don’t watch Stranger Things, a Netflix series set in the 1980s that features supernatural and paranormal stuff. Yeah, I’ve been told I would dig all the ’80s pop culture references and homages as well as Winona Ryder, who appears in the show. But this is a case of risk – supernatural/paranormal – versus reward – the ’80s and Winona. Reward doesn’t stand a chance.

Apparently in this season, its fourth, Stranger Things uses Kate Bush’s 1985 song, Running Up That Hill. After being featured in the show, the song became a hit again, nearly 40 years after its original release. Although I’m happy for Kate Bush, I harbor an irrational hatred of that song, which only solidified my stance against watching Stranger Things.

The renewed attention to Running Up That Hill reminded me of songs I had never paid attention to until hearing them in movies, proving that the combination of song in scene can be just as important as words or costumes or actors or etc. in scene. With that in mind, here is an incomplete list of songs I discovered in movies. (The movies are in parathesis.)

  • Maybe I’m Amazed (An Unmarried Woman): I have a confession. Whilst I’m a fan of The Beatles, I’m not a fan of Paul McCartney’s band, Wings. Thus, Wings’ Maybe I’m Amazed was just another song for me until I watched 1978’s An Unmarried Woman and saw Jill Clayburgh and her movie daughter sit at a piano and belt out the song. Now when I hear Maybe I’m Amazed, I think of that scene, which shows the close relationship between mother and daughter in a flick about Clayburgh, a married woman (at the beginning of the movie) who learns her husband has been unfaithful.
  • Misunderstanding (Mona Lisa): This song, by the group Genesis, was so off my radar that I thought it was called Understanding. I can’t remember exactly when Misunderstanding is played in Mona Lisa, a 1986 British crime drama, but it undoubtedly left its mark because I sought out the song afterward. I still do.
  • I Got a Name (Django Unchained): Jim Croce’s 1973 tune, which had never before made an impression on me, was a perfect choice for this 2012 movie. I loved the scene where it’s played: Django and the dentist ride horses over snowy landscapes as mountains loom in the distance. But I hated the rest of the movie so much that I swore off the director’s subsequent work. I did not develop an irrational hatred for the Croce song, though. On the contrary, I developed a fondness for it.
  • Levon (The Ice Storm): When I was fact checking myself, I saw that Croce’s I Got a Name was also on The Ice Storm’s 1997 soundtrack. (I told you it didn’t make an impression before Django.) Until The Ice Storm, to the best of my knowledge, I had never heard Sir Elton John’s 1971 song, Levon. I became consumed with it afterward. Written by Sir Elton’s longtime collaborator, Bernie Taupin, the song’s lyrics have been the subject of much speculation. Taupin told Rolling Stone he didn’t know what he intended as the meaning and that the lyrics were just lines that were interesting. The lyrics, including “Jesus blows up balloons all day, Sits on the porch swing watching them fly” certainly caught my interest.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Alone on an island — June 23, 2021

Alone on an island

Two friends have recommended the documentary, The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart. But as I’ve explained to said friends, if it’s not the NBA playoffs, the Olympic trials, an occasional MLB game, or a professional wrestling documentary, then it hasn’t been seen on my TV in weeks.

Unlike people who hate having fun, I enjoy the Bee Gees’ music. I’ve also long been a fan of the mane of hair Barry Gibb sported for decades. Barry, a singer-songwriter and producer, was one of the three brothers Gibb comprising the Bee Gees. Maurice and Robin were the other two members. Among oodles of other hits, the Bee Gees penned Islands in the Stream, which was released by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers in 1983.

The song was a humongous hit that topped every chart in the galaxy. There was no escaping it. Trust me. I tried.

Indeed, I’m sharing this moment in music history with you because whenever the Bee Gees come up in conversation, I tell folks (one of) my deepest darkest — that I don’t care for Dolly and Kenny’s version of the song.

As this is considered one of the greatest duets in recorded history, people respond by dern-near passing out.

They reach for the smelling salts when I add that I prefer the Bee Gees’ version of the song.

I mean no disrespect to Dolly, a national treasure who I rank up there with sunshine and puppy dogs, or the late great Kenny, a man whose hits I quote on a monthly basis. In fact, I play tunes from Dolly and Kenny’s Christmas album during the holiday season. I’m especially fond of a song called The Greatest Gift of All.

But when it comes to non-holiday duets, I prefer their work with others and will crank Kenny and Kim Carnes or Kenny and the late great Dottie West when I’m driving or doing something that resembles cleaning.

Back to Islands in the Stream…part of my issue with the song is that, even as a wee lass growing up on the Goff Estate, I had no idea what it meant. My surroundings weren’t populated by too many islands or streams. We had creeks and ditches and mud holes. Could Dolly and Kenny have been referring to the rocks in the ditches and mud holes when they sang of islands in streams? Or perhaps the trash that clung to the logs in the creeks?

Who knows? I just know that I sighed every time the song blared onto either the country or Top 40 radio station.

Because, like I said, there was no escaping it.

You know what would have made it more bearable? Barry Gibbs’ hair.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Simple past tense — September 4, 2019

Simple past tense

Except for Eastern Kentucky’s own Chris Stapleton, I don’t actively listen to current country music. Sometimes, however, the music is forced upon me. This usually occurs when I’m in someone else’s car or inside a store.

That’s exactly what happened recently while I strolled the aisles of the Super Dollar. As I compared the prices of tea, I caught snippets of a song that recalled the halcyon days gone by when everything wasn’t automatic.

I would later learn that the song, by Miranda Lambert, is aptly-titled “Automatic.” Although it was released in 2014 and won oodles of awards, I heard it for the first time in August 2019.

According to Lambert, the song is “about slowing down, taking a breath and remembering what it’s like to live life a little more simply.”

Although I agree with those sentiments, Lambert and I don’t have the same definition of living a simple life.

For example, in the song, she reminisces about using an atlas to find the way to Dallas. I’ve never been to Dallas, but I once consulted an atlas for a trip up north and, let me tell you, that was a disaster. Thankfully, a 10 year old used her wits to get me on the right track or I would still be driving around the backroads of Delaware.

Also in the song, in a nod to Polaroid cameras, Lambert muses about taking the kind of pictures you had to shake. My sister had a Polaroid and we enjoyed posing for photos and then watching our images come to life.

But you know what I didn’t enjoy? Watching those images come to life only to realize that we wasted film on a photo that made us look like rejects from a horror movie.

For some reason, Lambert also suggests we roll down windows, the kind with cranks.

I’m not sure if this means we should keep crank-less windows shut. Heck, I’m not even sure what kind of windows she’s talking about, but if it’s car windows, it makes me wonder why anyone would miss rolling a car window up and down by hand. Maybe the cars we drove required a healthy dose of WD-40, but if my memory serves, it was no easy feat to crank those windows. Indeed, I was usually so tired after rolling them up and/or down that I had to take a nap.

Anyway, I’m sure the song has millions if not billions of fans, and I can appreciate feeling nostalgic for times gone by. But it’s not the tools, be they atlases, cameras, or windows, that made the times so worthwhile.

It’s the people we did them with.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

For the record — August 12, 2018

For the record

Recently, I saw merchandise at the Supercenter the likes of which I haven’t seen in a store in more years that I care to admit.

No, I’m not talking about cherry cake mix and frosting. (Actually, I found and bought that a few months ago and, unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly as good as I remembered.) I am, instead, referring to vinyl albums.

When I stumbled across albums amongst the fitness trackers, smart phones, and smart TVs, for a moment I thought I had discovered a time machine. Oh, I’ve been aware of the revival of vinyl for a while. In fact, some of my friends collect vinyl while others invest in it because they like the sound.

Apparently, they are not alone. According to Nielsen Music, more than 14 million vinyl units were purchased in 2017, marking the 12th consecutive year that vinyl had experienced a sales growth. The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Abbey Road” were the two top selling vinyl albums last year. Prince’s “Purple Rain” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” also ranked in the top 10.

This resurgence, however, is not just due to nostalgia. Millennials represent a key vinyl demographic.

Although seeing the album versions of “Thriller” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” made me smile, I was not tempted to so much as check out the prices. For starters, I don’t have a record player.

What’s more, why would I buy something I already have? Of course, I’m not actually in possession of “Born in the U.S.A.,” but I’ve had “Thriller” since Jackson’s death. I didn’t have a record player then, either, so I’m not sure why I insisted on digging it out of my parents’ closet just so I could put it in a closet at my house. (If you think I could sell the albums for big bucks, think again. My research indicates that used versions of these albums could yield enough for me to fill up my car with gas and maybe, just maybe, have enough left over for a Wendy’s berry burst salad.)

Anyway, I haven’t listened to the albums in more years than I care to admit. This is due to, firstly, greatest hits compilations on CD and, secondly, digital music. Indeed, I listened to the entire “Born in the U.S.A.” album just the other day on a computer. And I didn’t have to walk across the room to change sides or worry about the music skipping because of scratches.

Don’t get me wrong. I miss the hiss of vinyl and the appeal of album cover art. Yet, in an age where people (not me, though), own devices that turn on lights and lock doors at the sound of a voice, I don’t understand why oodles of folks are returning to something that’s, at best, inconvenient. What’s next, the return of 8-tracks?

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Every which way but iTunes — June 9, 2014

Every which way but iTunes

I started this blog three years ago to commemorate the 20th anniversary of “Thelma & Louise.” And, for nearly a year, I posted regularly if not religiously.

Then, right after I vowed to pen 40 movie reviews in 40 days, life intervened and I quit blogging. If you’ll allow me to quote “We Need a Little Christmas,” in the ensuing time I’ve “Grown a little sadder, grown a little older.”

Regardless of my past situation, I’m back to blogging. At this point, you might be asking yourself, “What event of epic proportions has awakened her from this slumber?”

That’s simple – the theme from “Every Which Way but Loose” is not on iTunes. As everyone no doubt knows, the late great Eddie Rabbit recorded the song, which served as the theme to the Clint Eastwood/Clyde the orangutan flick of the same name. It’s a beautiful song that explores the fears of commitment and heartache – and in under three minutes.

But you can’t find it on iTunes. Oh, you can find Eddie Rabbit wannabes warbling the song, but it’s either Eddie or nothing as far as I’m concerned. iTunes also offers other Eddie Rabbit releases, but until I can download “Every Which Way but Loose,” I’ll find a way to survive without “I Love a Rainy Night” and “Driving My Life Away.”

Somehow, the song is available for download on Amazon, but I refuse to buy it on principle and because I don’t know if the mp3 version will be compatible with my iPod.

I guess I could always give in and buy Eddie Rabbit’s greatest hits, which includes the song, but this is 2014. Should I really be forced to buy a CD?

Put on your thinking caps and dust off those ’80s CDs — August 21, 2011

Put on your thinking caps and dust off those ’80s CDs

The characteristic I appreciate most about ’80s music is that it doesn’t require much from me. I realize some people return to the music for nostalgia’s sake or because they believe the recording industry mysteriously ceased producing quality tunes when they – the listener – finally conquered acne.

I like that the music doesn’t make me think.

Well, except when it does. Continue reading

And the Big Man left the band — June 20, 2011

And the Big Man left the band

The news of Clarence Clemons’ death called to mind a conversation I had with my friend, Jimmy, during Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s last tour.

Jimmy, who has seen Springsteen in concert eight times, said that tour would probably be the band’s final hurrah.

His statement perplexed me and I asked, “Why? Is Bruce going out on his own again?”

“He might,” Jimmy answered, “but they won’t be playing together much longer because of Clarence’s age and health.”

As Jimmy filled me in on Clarence’s health issues, I considered the Big Man’s age. I guess I always knew he was older than Bruce and that Bruce wasn’t much younger than my parents. Continue reading

Years have come and gone since we heard the news ’bout Billie Joe — June 3, 2011

Years have come and gone since we heard the news ’bout Billie Joe

“It was the third of June, another sleepy dusty Delta day.”

Bobbie Gentry’s soulful, sensual opening to “Ode to Billie Joe” launched one of the most enduring mysteries in musical history.

As soon as Mama tells her family about Billie Joe jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge, you want to know more about this Billie Joe McCallister and why he took the leap.

By song’s end, you have other unsolved mysteries to unravel: Continue reading