"In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy." Brother David Steindl-Rast

Saturday, February 6, 2016


Today I am grateful for an outdoor run this morning and the opportunity to welcome the coming daylight. I am also grateful for the music of the band Queen.

To write about Queen when I got to "Q" was a no-brainier for me. I grew up with Queen and one of their biggest hits was Bohemian Rhapsody. Thanks to the movie "Wayne's World," many children of the '90's know the song, but they can't claim it like those of us who grew up in the '70's can. It was released for the first time in 1975 and regained popularity in 1992 with "Wayne's World."

If I had to pick my favorite Queen song, I would go with Play the Game, but We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions, You're My Best Friend, Somebody to Love, and Killer Queen come to mind as well as Bohemian Rhapsody of course.

In fact, in the picture below, the 45 LP on the far left is Play the Game.

I dug these out of storage a few days ago as I take this trip through musical memories. I couldn't find the green 45 I got for my 12th birthday though-ELO's Telephone Line. If you are curious, the other 45's in the picture are Foreigner's Blue Morning, Blue Day, My Fair Share from Seals and Crofts, and Games People Play from the Alan Parsons Project. The 8-track tape is Nazareth.

A recent picture, but many past memories.

Thank you Freddie Mercury and the rest of Queen for some unique rock songs.

Do you have a music archives of your own? What is in it?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Two Photographs and a Peace Train

Today I am grateful for pen and paper and for the ease of eating bananas and clementines.

It just so happens that Photograph is the title of not one, but two songs I really like. The first is Ringo Starr's Photograph and can be heard here. The second is the Def Leppard song that can be heard here. The first was released in 1973, the second early in 1983, the year I graduated from high school.

I am grateful for both versions of Photograph, but also the hundreds and thousands of photographs taken over the course of my life. Many are in photo albums that go back to my childhood. Even with digital prints easily stored on phones and computers, I still get real prints made from time to time. I don't quite like or trust everything being stored on some device. A photograph can't fully be appreciated until it is held in one's hands or looked at in a frame. In my opinion anyway.

Growing up, we didn't have many photographs taken. There is only one of me as a young baby, and it's not a close-up. I recall one of our family photo albums that has what must be annual pictures, probably around the holidays because I remember being in coats and boots, and there's an additional sibling in each photo. We can tell who the baby is by counting the other kids. I am grateful for those pictures, but it is why I haven't skimped on pictures of my own family.

Then there is the song Peace Train by Cat Stevens. It carries a message as valuable today as it did when it was released in 1971. There's room for us all on the peace train-regardless of skin color, religious leanings, political viewpoints, sexual orientation, and any other differences that can either divide us or bring us together with love and tolerance.

Peace Train was also on the sound track of the wonderful movie "Remember the Titans." Here is a clip from the movie.

Where do you need peace in your life today? Where can you bring peace to others?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

One Hit Wonders

Today I am grateful for the beauty of today's early morning moon and for easy access to clean and safe water.

I have been enjoying this musical journey through the alphabet and hope you have too. I also have enjoyed many one hit wonders. From the 1970's, songs like Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks, Sky High by Jigsaw, and Magic by Pilot come to mind. There's another one from 1990 that has always remained a favorite of mine. I even had a single cassette of it back in the day. That song was Joey by Concrete Blond.

With the ease of the Internet at my fingertips now, I have been researching some of the songs and artists I am writing about. I found out that Joey was written by lead singer Johnette Napolitano and is about being in love with an alcoholic. The alcoholic she was writing about died of liver failure in 2002.

Listen to Joey and see the video, depicting an anguished lone drinker, here.

The song resonated with me in my early sobriety. It still resonates today. And leaves me feeling a deep sense of gratitude to have made my way into recovery, with the help of caring and concerned friends and family. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Snow and Leo

Today I am grateful for flexibility from others and myself. I am also grateful for opportunity and ability to shovel snow.

I am taking a break today from my musical alphabet. The weather yesterday gave us an opportunity to help my stepdaughter Emily out and get to spend time with our grandson Leo. I had the enjoyment of sharing a nap with 10-month old Leo.

He slept longer than I did, but because he was sleeping on my shoulder and grandmas don't want to risk waking a sleeping baby, I sat quietly longer than I usually do. Watching the snow outside from the safety of my recliner was appreciated. Seeing this face when he woke up was even more appreciated:

We ended up shoveling snow four times to keep up with the 10-12 inches we got. Shoveling snow always brings me a good dose of gratitude. I am able-bodied and alive. I can shovel snow. I can pause and enjoy the fresh air and snow on the trees. I am blessed. We all are. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Night Ranger and Nilsson

Today I am grateful for the strength and wisdom of others in recovery from alcoholism and what they teach me. I am also grateful for the peace that can be found in a simple pause.

When I think of the rock group Night Ranger, the first song that comes to mind is Sister Christian. Add to that list songs like Goodbye, When You Close Your Eyes, Sentimental Street, Sing Me Away, and Four in the Morning. Songs can transport us back in time and where Sister Christian takes me is to college softball days. We had plenty of fun cheering for each other from the bench, on long bus rides, and in the midst of games and practices.

On an interesting side note, Sister Christian was written and sung by drummer Kelly Keagy for his sister Christy. Goodbye was written by bassist and lead singer Jack Blades, in memory of his brother who died of a drug overdose.

Harry Nilsson's song Without You was the first song on a greatest hits album we had when I was growing up. I am sure I wore the grooves out playing it over and over. It's another one of those painful, despairing sorts of songs that appealed to me in my confused and insecure youth.  Today it is a reminder to me of healing and moving forward.

What songs transport you to different times? What songs help you heal? Take a listen to some of them today. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

M & M's

Today I am grateful for Sam's involvement in our church's youth group and for the joy that writing brings me.

Alliteration must be on my mind, because as I pondered "M" artists and songs I came up with Melissa Manchester and Maureen McGovern. These are a couple of blasts from the past. Come to find out with a little research that Melissa was discovered by Barry Manilow and sang back up for Bette Midler. Among Manchester's hits was a song titled Midnight Blue. Bringing up Barry Manilow reminds me of his hit Mandy.

Don't Cry Out Loud and Looking Through the Eyes of Love are two of my favorites from Manchester. Through the Eyes of Love was the love theme from the 1978 movie "Ice Castles." Can I just say what a cutie Robbie Benson was? For a flashback, check this out. For even more of a flashback, try this one.

McGovern's big hit The Morning After was from the 1972 movie "The Poseidon Adventure." Bette Midler had a big hit with another movie song-Wind Beneath My Wings-from the 1988 movie "Beaches"  "Beaches" is a favorite movie of mine. But my favorite song from the Divine Miss M is The Rose. 

I was confused in thinking that Maureen McGovern also sang Torn Between Two Lovers. Alas, I was mistaken. But wouldn't you know, it was sung by Mary MacGregor.

All of these M's have made me hungry for some M & M's. I am grateful for all of the music and all of the chocolate I enjoy.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Layla, Linda, and Loverboy

Today I am grateful for warmer weather and an outdoor run with Darcy. I am also grateful for being able to laugh at myself more than I used to.

Layla by Derek and the Dominos is on my "Top 5 Favorite Songs of All Time" for sure. Don't ask me why. I think I have always liked the song because it takes the listener through the full range of human emotions. Listen to it here. The first three minutes are intense and include vocals, but the next three minutes are the ones that always moved me the most. Looking back, I think it is because the despair in that part of the song matched the despair and confusion in my own mind and heart at times in my youth. It still stops me short and brings me to the brink of tears (which is as close as I usually get).

Layla has an interesting history too. It was written by Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon, inspired by a Persian poem about unrequited love, but also about Clapton's own unrequited love for Pattie Boyd. Boyd, a model and actress, was then married to George Harrison, but later divorced him and married Clapton. They later divorced. Incidentally, Harrison's song Something was also inspired by Boyd.

Loverboy needs to be discussed in this post. They earned the acknowledgement because they gave my generation quintessential rock songs like Turn Me Loose, The Kid is Hot Tonite, Lovin' Every Minute of It, When It's Over, and Lucky Ones. Then there is the bleak Teenage Overdose, another of my favorite "drinking songs." "One foot in hell" for sure.

Linda Ronstadt deserves a mention here too. The Words and Music of Linda Ronstadt is a post I wrote a couple of years ago. Suffering from Parkinson's disease, sadly Ronstadt is no longer able to sing, but what a legacy of songs we can still enjoy.

As I wrote in my previous post, Ronstadt said these words in an interview at the time:

"I can walk and I can talk. It's a good day."

I can listen to and be touched by the music of many wonderful singers and songwriters. It's a good day.