Let It Be

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What was the first Beatles song you heard on the radio? For me, it was the first and only Beatles song I ever heard while it was on the charts, Let It Be. I wasn’t a Beatles fan. I was only eight years old. I didn’t even listen to the radio, but I heard it when my parents had it on, or when it played in a shopping mall. Even so, I remember that I knew Let It Be was a phenomenon. It was more than just a song. I sort of knew that there was a group called “The Beatles” and this was their last record.

I remember that my sister bought the 45, I assume a few years later. I have it now. I also remember that my grandfather would often say the words, “Let it be”. I don’t know if he was quoting from the Beatles or was even aware of who they were or the name of the song, but he said it quite often.

I remember becoming a fan of pop music around 1973-1974. The first record that I bought was “Seasons in the Sun”, which was number one for quite some time in 1974. After that, the next number one song was Hooked On A Feeling, AKA the ugachaka song. The radio stations that I listened to, WFIL and WIBG in Philadelphia, never never played the Beatles anymore. Once in a while they would play a song like Kodachrome, from 1973, and they would call it an oldie.

From the time I started listening to music in 1973, until 1980, I wasn’t a fan of The Beatles. They were older than oldies. It wasn’t cool to listen to them. I guess those seven years were my Beatles latency period. I did listen to Wings. Because some people want to fill the world with silly love songs. And what’s wrong with that? But Wings were not The Beatles. I don’t even know if I was aware at the time that Paul McCartney was a former Beatle. I remember listening to Elton’s John’s “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”. Someone told me it was originally recorded by The Beatles, but I still considered it to be an Elton song.

I thought of all this tonight on the way home from yoga class. So when I got home, I had to dig through the 45s and look for Let It Be. I found it, snapped in the yellow adapter, put it on the record player, and listened to it. And boy, did it sound bad! Lots of scratches made it continuously pop. Warping made the tempo speed up and slow down. But when it was done, I listened to it again. And then again. And then again. And it made me happy.

Nobody Says It Better

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Who has been in a relationship that you knew was wrong? And your friends knew it was wrong. But you kept going back, because it was so….right.

I started thinking about such past relationships while driving to work, as I was listening to my Carly Simon playlist, and the song “Jesse” came on. Very poignant lyrics to that song.

I have only a few of my own words to contribute to this post, because nobody says it better than Carly Simon. Just a little editing and rearranging Carly’s lyrics. The “he”s could be “she”s, depending on who is telling the story.

Annie, keep reminding me
That he cut out my heart like a paper doll
Sally, tell me once again
How he set me up just to see me fall

Jesse, quick come here
I won’t tell a soul
My friends will all say “She’s gone again”
But how can anyone know what you are to me?
That I’m in heaven again because you’ve come back to me!

My friends….they think I’ve sunk so low
LA LA LA, LA LA!
LA LA LA, LA LA!
LA LA LA, LA LA!!

Jesse, I will put on cologne
And sit by the phone for you
And sit by the phone for you
And sit by the phone for you

Oh mother, say a prayer for me.

Songwriters: Mike Jr Mainieri / Carly Simon
Published By Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Somtimes a Rock

Last night, I was home alone; my daughter spends Monday nights with her mother. And I found myself sitting on the sofa, reading a book of poetry. And actually finishing the book!

Thoughts went through my head about the nature of the activity. I flashed back to my life, pre marriage and child, when I did this kind of thing quite often, practically every night. “This kind of thing” means devoting part of an evening to reading in solitude, sitting in a living area, and feeling content and chill. I didn’t call it “chill” back then, because in the ‘80s, “chill” was a verb. These days, I still read, but it’s mostly in bed before I sleep, and on my Kindle phone app at various times during the day when I can squeeze it in, such as when I’m alone at a restaurant, sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, or having arrived early for a yoga class.

Life in the ‘10s is very different from life in the ‘80s, at least for me. It’s so rare these days to do one thing at a time; everything seems to be multitasked. And it’s so rare to be isolated from human interaction. The phone is constantly chiming with text, Messenger, and Skype tones.

This morning, as I was getting dressed and ready for work, I found myself listening to my Simon and Garfunkel station on Pandora. A live version of “I Am a Rock” came on. And for the first time, I listened to the words very carefully. I realized the sadness of this song. It might be their best song, lyrics-wise. It really brings out human emotions that I’m sure we’ve all experienced before.

The first line that caught my attention was this one

It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain

Wow, what a strong sentiment. I wondered how sad a person has to be to realize and state that he disdains laughter and loving. But, then I recalled feelings from my past and started to understand. For example, who hasn’t woken up grumpy in the morning, turned on the radio to one of the morning talk-comedy programs, and at the sound of the guffawing of Mark and Brian just wanted to throw the radio out the window?

That got my attention, and I listened to the next verse.

Don’t talk of love
But I’ve heard the words before
It’s sleeping in my memory
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died
If I never loved I never would have cried

Wow. We’ve all felt this before, yes?

And then the next verse seemed to have been sent to me like magic, making me immediately flash back to last night.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me

Yikes! I was home alone last night reading a poetry book! A coincidence? A sign? Does everything happen for a reason?

My conclusion from all of this, which inspired me to quickly barf out this blog post before starting my day, is the old saying, “Everything in moderation”. Yes, a rock feels no pain, but being a rock can be therapeutic sometimes.

Epilog

When I read the book last night, I couldn’t help myself from multitasking. I wanted to write my first Goodreads book review, and I was thinking about what I would write in the review as I was reading the book. I stopped to bookmark pages, look back on what I’d read previously, and ponder whether I wanted to post my review on Goodreads or Amazon. And I might have picked up my phone once or twice to see if I had missed any messages. I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to the unitasking solitude of the ‘80s. But close can be good enough. Baby steps. The perfect is the enemy of the good. Yada yada.

Sad Neil, Happy Neil

I’ve been listening to Neil Diamond’s latest album, Melody Road. It’s a pleasant upbeat album, easy to listen to, and I am enjoying it. But each time, after I’ve listened to it for about 15 minutes, I find that I switch to the old stuff. Tonight, I think I figured out why.

The new album is happy. The songs tell a happy story. Here are some examples.

The title track, Melody Road, is an ode to happiness.

I know every song you lead me to
It’s gonna be my friend

Write me a song to make you smile
There’s no need to sing the blues

The second track, First Time, gives advice for a happy life. I think it’s meant for aspiring songwriters.

Finally out there on your own and it’s
Your time
For making it happen

Make rhyme
So fine
First time!

There is actually a song on the album called “Sunny Disposition”. You get the idea.

Tonight, after I made the switch from the new album to my Best of Neil playlist, came my epiphany. I just don’t connect with the new songs. They don’t resonate with me the way the old songs do. The way the old sad songs do.

You know the old songs. The ones you can sing with a cry in your voice. The songs you listen to when you hurt. When hurtin’ runs off your shoulder. The songs you listen to when you feel lost between two shores. I could feel my mood change as the old songs played. For I was lonely. And she was lonely.

This doesn’t mean I’m a sad person. It’s just easier for me to connect with a sad song. When I am sad, hearing a happy song doesn’t do much for me. But hearing a sad song gives me a feeling of empathy. When I am happy, the sad songs make me appreciate my happiness.

Hearing about love on the rocks reminds me of what I’ve gone through to make me strong today. I gave you my heart, gave you my soul, you left me alone here with nothing to hold.

If I am ruminating about a failed relationship, I don’t feel so alone when I hear lyrics telling me that memories won’t go, that thoughts of her won’t leave my head, and perhaps just one thing makes me forget. I’m not the only one whose blue, blue heart has been torn apart.

The old songs are a gold mine of therapy. Melinda was mine till the time that I found her holding Jim, and loving him. Until I can find me the girl who’ll stay and won’t play games behind me, I’ll be what I am, a solitary man. Forever in blue jeans.

If I’m feeling down, It’s not even necessary for me to drink red, red wine to make me forget. All I have to do is listen to a few bars of Cracklin’ Rosie to make me smile.

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This post contains excerpts of songs. All lyrics quoted here were written by Neil Diamond.

I Just Need Someone To Love

I’m trying something new for my dating site blurb. Instead of saying that I like to eat vegetarian food and sushi, and that I enjoy yoga, hiking, long walks, and board games, I thought I’d try something different. So here it is. I’ll probably change it back tomorrow.

I get by with a little help from my friends
I get high with a little help from my friends [1]

While this is true, and I am extremely grateful for my friends, I want something more.

I want somebody to love
I just need someone to love [1]

I see a lot of profiles that say something like this:

I am happy with my life, and I don’t need a romantic relationship. But, it would be a nice addition.

They say that a romantic relationship would be “dessert” or “icing on the cake” or “the cherry on top”. I don’t feel that way. For me, a romantic relationship, or what I’d prefer to call a primary relationship, is not dessert; it’s the main course. I want a partner who also wants a main course, who won’t think of me as dessert. I want to be the priority in her life, as she will be in mine. Friends, relatives, kids, they all have (or will have) their own families to keep them busy, who are their priorities. My partner is the person who will stand by my side through the remainder of my life, the person who will be there for me whenever I need her, the person who will always be available when I need to talk, the person who will pick me up if I fall. She will be my soft place to land. And I will be all these things for her.

Even though it’s likely been torn out and trampled on many times, as has mine, the partner I am looking for will be brave enough to wear her heart out on her sleeve, as I will with mine. She knows that it’s a big risk, but the potential payoff is what will make life worthwhile.

When we find each other, we will both want to say this:

You’re just too good to be true
I can’t take my eyes off you
You’d be like heaven to touch
I wanna hold you so much
At long last love has arrived
And I thank God I’m alive
You’re just too good to be true
Can’t take my eyes off you [2]


[1] Lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
[2] Lyrics by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio

Song Lyrics That Make Me Cringe

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Some of these sound like nice songs, with pleasant melodies. But if you listen to the words, they are cringeworthy.

The first group of songs are about abuse.

I used to love to make you cry
It made me feel like a man inside
–Frankie Valli
(Nice doo-wop beat obscures the words.)

You better run for your life little girl
If I catch you with another man that’s the end
–John Lennon
(These are perhaps the worst lyrics in any song. Written by the same man who imagined all the people living life in peace.)

Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer
Came down upon her head.
Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer
Made sure that she was dead.
–Paul McCartney

Well, there’s a real square cat, he looks a 1974
Well, he looked at me once, he looked at me twice
Look at me again and there’s gonna be fight
–Stray Cats
(The video for this is even worse. They kick a guy to the ground just because he looks like a square, dressed like it’s 1974.)

I call the next category the “moon, june, spoon” category. These are songs with silly lyrics that were written just because they rhyme.

I look at you all see the love there that’s sleeping
While my guitar gently weeps
I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps
–George Harrison
(That must have been a really dirty floor, to inspire a Beatles song!)

I don’t know how you were diverted
You were perverted too
I don’t know how you were inverted
No one alerted you
–George Harrison
(Couldn’t he have asked for a little help from his friends?)

Song she sang to me
Song she brang to me
Words that rang in me,
Rhyme that sprang from me
(This one is like fingernails on a chalk board.)
–Neil Diamond

She said it grieves me so
To see you in such pain
I wish there was something I could do
To make you smile again
(This one is the opposite. It doesn’t rhyme in American English, which is how is sings it. Plus it also has a grammar error.)
–Paul Simon

Some people like to intentionally modify lyrics of songs they cover. Their fans love it. I’m not one of those fans.

Better not pout, I’m telling you why
The fat man is coming to town.
–Mel Torme

And here’s to you Mrs. Robinson
Jilly loves you more than you will know
–Frank Sinatra

Occasionally someone will modify lyrics for the better. I like Tina Turner’s change to “The Bitch Is Back”
“I get high from speaking ‘bout the things I do” instead of Elton John’s original, “I get high in the evening sniffing pots of glue.”

The next group of songs make me cringe because of bad grammar. This is my favorite category.

Me and Susie had so much fun
–Elton John

If I was a sculptor but then again, no
–Elton John
(Rod Stewart recorded a cover version where he sang, “If I were a sculptor” in correct Queen’s English.)

You know that I would be a liar
If I was to say to you
–The Doors

I wish I was Homeward bound
–Simon and Garfunkel

Nobody does it half as good as you
–Carly Simon

And finally, there are just some songs that are acoustically unlistenable. Yoko, I love you, but sorry, I can’t listen to your music.