music, SLS

Song Lyric Sunday – The Message

I am waiting on my flight at Boston Logan so what better way to pass the time than to jump in on Song Lyric Sunday. SLS is brought to us each week by Jim Adams from A Unique Title for Me.

This week we have Lean/Sit/Stand for a prompt.


The first song I thought of last week was the song Walk Right In. But, I have been on a women’s retreat and noticed John Holton snagged that song and did a right fine job with it. So, I felt compelled to dig into the memory banks and see what I could come up with.

The song that surfaced is The Message, co-written by Melle Mel and
Ed “Duke Bootee” Fletcher, performed by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. This song became an anthem for the inner city struggle in the 1980s and stays relevant today. Many believe everything this song changed the direction of Rap music.

There was a struggle surrounding the writing and rightful credit to the song. I can not do it justice so I will refer you to this article if you are interested.

I was living in Alaska when this song came out and I had a lot of African America friends. I think I heard it for the first time when we went out one night and my friends took me to a “private club” which was predominately African American. I did not know such places existed which was one of my early acknowledgements of the cultural divides that can exist among the closest of friends.

This song holds special meaning for me.

 

The Lyrics from Songfacts.com:

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

Broken glass everywhere
People pissin’ on the stairs, you know they just don’t care
I can’t take the smell, can’t take the noise
Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice
Rats in the front room, roaches in the back
Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat
I tried to get away but I couldn’t get far
Cause a man with a tow truck repossessed my car

[Chorus]
Don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

Standin’ on the front stoop hangin’ out the window
Watchin’ all the cars go by, roarin’ as the breezes blow
Crazy lady, livin’ in a bag
Eatin’ outta garbage pails, used to be a fag hag
Said she’ll dance the tango, skip the light fandango
A Zircon princess seemed to lost her senses
Down at the peep show watchin’ all the creeps
So she can tell her stories to the girls back home
She went to the city and got so so seditty
She had to get a pimp, she couldn’t make it on her own

[Chorus]

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

My brother’s doin’ bad, stole my mother’s TV
Says she watches too much, it’s just not healthy
All My Children in the daytime, Dallas at night
Can’t even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight
The bill collectors, they ring my phone
And scare my wife when I’m not home
Got a bum education, double-digit inflation
Can’t take the train to the job, there’s a strike at the station
Neon King Kong standin’ on my back
Can’t stop to turn around, broke my sacroiliac
A mid-range migraine, cancered membrane
Sometimes I think I’m goin’ insane
I swear I might hijack a plane!

[Chorus]

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

A child is born with no state of mind
Blind to the ways of mankind
God is smilin’ on you but he’s frownin’ too
Because only God knows what you’ll go through
You’ll grow in the ghetto livin’ second-rate
And your eyes will sing a song called deep hate
The places you play and where you stay
Looks like one great big alleyway
You’ll admire all the number-book takers
Thugs, pimps and pushers and the big money-makers
Drivin’ big cars, spendin’ twenties and tens
And you’ll wanna grow up to be just like them, huh
Smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers
Pickpocket peddlers, even panhandlers
You say I’m cool, huh, I’m no fool
But then you wind up droppin’ outta high school
Now you’re unemployed, all non-void
Walkin’ round like you’re Pretty Boy Floyd
Turned stick-up kid, but look what you done did
Got sent up for a eight-year bid
Now your manhood is took and you’re a Maytag
Spend the next two years as a undercover fag
Bein’ used and abused to serve like hell
Til one day, you was found hung dead in the cell
It was plain to see that your life was lost
You was cold and your body swung back and forth
But now your eyes sing the sad, sad song
Of how you lived so fast and died so young so

[Chorus]

It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under

 


Jim Adams provides the weekly topics that serve as the inspiration for Song Lyric Sunday. Check out his blog for the rules and read some of the other contributions in the comments section.

Blog, music

Song Lyric Sunday – Mr. Bojangles

This week, along with a SHINY NEW GRAPHIC, Jim asks us to use Drifter/Loner/Transient/Vagabond as topics for our song choices.

A sleepless evening lets me post this soon after midnight. I will be sleeping in on Sunday.


The first song that came to mind was a classic — Mr. Bojangles. The song was written and originally recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker.

In the mid 60s, Jerry Jeff Walker was put in jail for public drunkenness while in New Orleans. It was here he would meet the inspiration for his song.

The moniker Mr. Bojangles was the nickname for Bill Robinson, a black tap dancer who performed in a number of successful films in the 1930s. Following his success, many black street performers became known as bojangles.

Over the July 4th weekend in 1965, a murder took place which precipitated the arrest of many street people in the area. This particular man was one of those arrested and told Jerry many stories of his life. When he told the story about his beloved dog getting hit and killed by a car, the mood became somber. Someone in the cell asked bojangles to dance to lighten the mood. He obliged with a tap dance.

Jerry Jeff Walker did not write the song until a few years later and would record the song himself in 1968.

“Mr. Bojangles” was recorded by a great number of well known artists over the years. The version most recognizable to me was recorded by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1970 so this is the video I will share. Live from Farm Aid 1985.

The Lyrics from Songfacts.com:

I knew a man, Bojangles and he danced for you
In worn out shoes
Silver hair, a ragged shirt and baggy pants
The old soft shoe
He jumped so high
He jumped so high
Then he’d lightly touch down
I met him in a cell in New Orleans, I was
Down and out
He looked to me to be the eyes of age
As he spoke right out
He talked of life
He talked of life
He laughed, clicked his heels and stepped
He said his name, Bojangles and he danced a lick
Across the cell
He grabbed his pants, a better stance
Oh, he jumped so high
Then he clicked his heels
He let go a laugh
He let go a laugh
Pushed back his clothes all around
Mr. Bojangles
Mr. Bojangles
Mr. Bojangles
Dance
He danced for those in minstrel shows and county fairs
Throughout the south
He spoke with tears of fifteen years how his dog and him
Traveled about
The dog up and died
He up and died
After twenty years he still grieves
He said I dance now at every chance in honky tonks
For drinks and tips
But most the time I spend behind these county bars
He said I drinks a bit
He shook his head
And as he shook his head
I heard someone ask him please
Please
Mr. Bojangles
Mr. Bojangles
Mr. Bojangles
Dance


Jim Adams provides the weekly topics that serve as the inspiration for Song Lyric Sunday. Check out his blog for the rules and read some of the other contributions in the comments section.

Blog, music

Reader’s Digest Records

Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Everyone is probably familiar with the publication Reader’s Digest. I know we always had them in our household growing up. I would hazard a guess that these magazines were a staple in most American households.

My grandmother also had a collection of Reader’s Digest condensed books. I never read any of them, most likely I was too young to be interested at that time.

But what I do remember well is our collection of Reader’s Digest LP collections. I looked tonight to see if I could find the records we had and Voila! I found several for sale on eBay. The collection I remember was “Popular Songs That Will Live Forever”.

The only record in this collection that I really listened to was the 10th album in the set: Songs That Will Live Forever which included the following songs:

  • Side By Side
  • Stephen Foster Medley
  • My Blue Heaven
  • Heart of My Heart
  • Till We Meet Again
  • The Band Played On
  • In the Good Old Summer Time
  • Let Me Call You Sweetheart
  • Down by the Old Mill Stream
  • Shine On Harvest Moon
  • Bye Bye Blackbird
  • The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise
  • All Alone
  • Always
  • Auld Lang Syne
  • Good Night Sweetheart

I have the words to every song committed to memory. My favorite has to be “My Blue Heaven” because of my grandfather. He told me a story about a man he used to work with when he worked for the railroad. This song was this man’s favorite and evidently he sang this song all the time. If I remember the story correctly, he was killed in a crane accident and my grandfather had been the crane operator.

I was a child, but my grandfather always told me to remember this man and how much he loved that song. I always have. I think my grandfather must have carried extreme sadness over his death and this was his way of keeping a little of him alive. I wish I had known his name.

I like this version because the tempo is closest to what I remember.

art, Blog, jewelry, Lapidary, music

My Relationship with Art

Image Courtesy of Pixabay (altered)

Day 359

Throughout my life I have dabbled in all types of art. When I was in first grade, I was home sick one day lying on the couch watching “Topper” on TV. A commercial came on for a poster contest. I chose a topic — Know Your Policeman. I sketched a stick figure scene of a child shaking a policeman’s hand in front of a jail. All on notebook paper. I am not sure if my grandfather mailed it for me or just how it got into the mail, but my parents did not know. Long story short, my parents received a letter stating I had won second prize in an FBI poster contest and it was signed by J. Edgar Hoover. I got to go to Asheville to be on TV and was interviewed and had my picture in the local paper. I won a doll, but I was secretly so envious of the older kids who received cameras. This was my introduction to the art world.

In second grade, I realized I could draw differently from the other kids. We had to draw a picture of our home and I remember drawing our stove and made it three dimensional. I can remember kids asking me how I did that and I wasn’t sure what they meant.

I took art classes in school anytime they were offered. Those classes were magical to me and the place where I always felt the most like myself.

My sister and I took ceramic classes from a woman who had a small studio in Alaska. We glazed poured ceramic pieces and she fired them in her kiln. We became good friends with her and eventually helped her poor ceramics in exchange for free classes. It was a great time in my relationship with my sister. One I will never forget.

While in Alaska I took oil painting classes from a woman who painted gold pans to sell to tourists. She was very talented and so much fun to be around. She made enough money selling gold pans that she bought a house and an airplane and paid cash for both. It was not a formal class, but it was at a time when I needed some creative time away from a very chaotic home life.

When I lived in Maine, I took drawing classes from a woman who had a beautiful studio with amazing natural light. She was an accomplished portrait artist and I managed to hone my portrait skills under her tutelage. My children were in junior high and still young enough that I could coax them to sit for me. I wish I had kept all those sketches of my children at that age, but they disappeared somewhere along the way.

I also bought my first 35mm camera while living in Maine. A Pentax K1000. It was inexpensive and all that I could afford. I found a local photographer that helped me learn about black and white photography. He rented me his darkroom for $5 an hour. It was there I learned how to process black and white film and print photos on graded paper. He also gave me my first lesson in handcoloring photographs.

I took piano classes twice in my life — once in Alaska from an amazing concert pianist and once in Maine from a leather-wearing, motorcycle-riding young concert pianist. That was the first and only time I ever got to play a Steinway baby grand piano. I never became an accomplished piano player, but I enjoyed this time very much.

After moving to Florida, I took classes continuously. Stained glass for a while, then photography, life drawing, mosaics, portraiture, painting and eventually my first foray into jewelry-making. It was then my daughter and soon to be daughter-in-law asked me to make their engagement rings — a post for another day.

I taught art to at-risk teen moms for five years. It was a hard job, but the most satisfying job I think I ever had. Art and teaching and children all together was a dream come true.

Once in North Carolina, I took my first lapidary classes — another dream I held for a long time. I have also taken more jewelry classes and love making jewelry so much. I found a wonderful teacher in Molly Sharp and have learned so much from her. Now if I could just get hubby to build me a small studio.

For me, art has been a major factor in my life. Making art to sell was never my motivation. Creating is what I enjoy. It’s the ability to get totally lost in something that feeds my soul.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” 
Thomas Merton

Blog, music, nature, Plants

Back to the Routine

Day 253

Today was back to my routine. It is so easy to fall back into old habits and justify it all — tying it up in a beautiful little package. My determination eventually wins out. I want to stay on a healthy path.

It was a nice 69° F this morning with a light breeze. Perfect walking weather. I tried to do a mental walking meditation, but I found too many distractions walking with someone else. Walking meditation will wait until I strike out alone.

Summer is not my favorite season. I do love a good thunderstorm, but the last two weeks have been fairly dry. Most of the flowers have long ceased blooming, except for a few. Even the birds are less active in the heat of the day.

The garden is still flourishing, but we are watering it daily. I have a cucumber almost ready to pick. Lucky for me, hubby does not like cucumbers. Along with tomatoes, cucumber sandwiches are one of my favorite summer lunches.

 

Last night we stopped at a roadside farm stand and picked up the first South Carolina peaches of the year. They are not fully ripe, but in a few days, they will be ready to eat. Maybe I can add some sliced peaches to my morning cereal.

What I’m Pondering

I still find myself sometimes fighting things I really want to do. Why is that? I get so enthusiastic about things but as the day approaches, I find myself trying to talk myself out of the very thing I was pursuing. Fear of failure? Feeling undeserving? What the heck?

Definitely worth meditating about.

What Stuck With Me

On our artist studio tour this weekend, I discovered a piece of art inspired by by a song written by eden ahbez (all lower case) called “Nature Boy”. The story of abhe, as he was known to friends, and this song is a very in interesting read. The song was originally recorded by Nat King Cole.

When I came home, I looked the song up on YouTube, It has a haunting feel to it which sticks with me.

Over the years, it has been recorded by artists Natalie Cole, Michael Jackson, and David Bowie among others. I am no John Holton, but this song deserves a better tribute than I can give it.

That’s my Monday morning. I hope Monday is being kind to you.